Having done all the work that needs to be done for now at the back of the car, I relocated to the front to decide a plan on what needs to be done a that end. There are many jobs, most of which require the engine and box to be removed to allow better access and make my life somewhat easier. I thought it would be a good idea to fire the engine up at least briefly so I know that it runs before I go to the effort of removing it and reinstalling it only to have to take it back out again. I have to say, it could have gone better. I had checked the static timing, checked and double checked the HT leads were all in the right order and that all 8 plugs were firing. Compression seemed pretty good, the carbs were filled with fuel via an outboard engine priming bulb and the chokes were wedged open. Power was applied to the starter and the engine whirred over but nothing happened - not even a spit or a back fire. I tried pouring some fuel direct in the carbs, still nothing. Then some starter fluid went in there - still nothing. Going back to basics I removed a plug and saw it was totally dry so for some reason no fuel was getting in to the bores ie where it needed to be for combustion to take place.
I have never heard this engine run before, it has had a new cam and followers, everything seemed to be fine and dandy when I put it all back together. I think I now know what is going wrong though. After many attempts and many failures I took the rocker covers off to make sure I hadn't got the timing out 180 degrees - at tdc on number 1 both valves should be closed on the power stroke, it was then I noticed the valves didn''t seem to be opening very far. When I felt the rockers it became obvious the hydraulic tappets had all drained down in the 6 months since I had fitted them and so had the oil pump - hence no oil pressure. Thank God it hadn't started! This was a serious rooky error, I had tested the pump months ago but hadn't hooked up a pressure gauge to make sure I was getting lubrication while I was messing about. I don't think any harm will have been done but if it had started disaster would have been virtually immediate.
Before I go any further I need to take the oil pump apart and pack it with vaseline, this allows the pump to suck up the oil from the sump and start pumping correctly, the vaseline being petroleum based then dissolves in to the oil without doing any harm. Once it is running it will get started once a week, which will hopefully be enough to make sure this doesn't happen again. I will connect up my pressure gauge and remove the coil feed before each run to make sure I still have reliable oil feed. Watch this space for updates, hopefully next time the beast will be alive.