Lotus Cortina Putting the Engine Back

Published on 22 January 2024 at 10:31

This is what a Lotus Cortina engine looks like out of the car, it's a simple matter to plonk it in the car.

It can be a bit scary to have an engine and box dangling over a newly painted car but me and Russ have done this numerous times. This went really well, it only took us about 10 minutes to get to this stage.

And then, just 10 minutes later, the engine is in, the gearbox mount is bolted up, we could start putting all the other bits in place.

I haven't been involved with this one much, last time I did anything was when we tested the engine before removal, I can't even remember how long ago that was, maybe 6 months or more. Russell has done a ton of welding on it and the same amount of bodywork, it's been handy watching him to learn for when I do my Prefect. Kenny did the paintwork, he has to come back to apply the green stripes at some point but that didn't stop us from doing the brakes, clutch and replacing the power plant and transmission. It's the sort of job that's much easier with two people so I set a couple of days aside to help, assist and also irritate. I'm very good at that. Poor Russell.

It actually went really well as far as getting the motor back in was concerned, probably the easiest one I have ever done. Me and Russ seem to work really well together, it's a real joy to be a part of it. Malcolm came along and did a few jobs while we were at it, mainly a bit of painting and a few tidying jobs, it's good fun with the three of us, various other people pop in and out every now and again, it's a good atmosphere.

Once we got the engine in we started adding all the ancillaries and connecting the wiring loom that we had already put in, we hit the first problem when we came to bleeding the clutch, which simply did not want to know.

Just to remind you of the car's history, it had been purchased at auction just on a year ago, it had been part of the Dave Sutton estate, Dave was one of the leading experts when it comes to Cortina Lotuses and their engines. The engine had been rebuilt by him but as far as we can tell it hadn't run for years. We had got it running before we took it all apart, it sounded fantastic and ran really well, we did not drive the car so had no idea about the state of the running gear.

We knew the clutch and brake cylinders were both completely  knackered, we rebuilt the brake one and replaced the clutch one. It wasn't too surprising really that the clutch slave was beyond saving, a new one is now on order. We had to replace both rear brake cylinders, I would not be surprised if we discover the front ones are not happy, we will know when we have some brake pressure, now there lies a story.

With this rebuild taking so long memories had faded, there were several other projects running at the same time, when we came to bleeding the brakes  things went south rather quickly. We had made new pipes and installed them and thought we were ready for filling and bleeding, we started at the front right, then front left, then went to the rear. It all went quite well and it wasn't long before we had a fairly good firm pedal. When we gave the pedal a good push it suddenly went soft, there was a loud pop and a pool of brake fluid appeared on the floor under the rear left wheel hub. Bugger.

I thought it was a failed seal but when we removed the brake drum the problem was rather obvious - there were no brake shoes fitted and the piston had come right out of the wheel cylinder. Rather than messing about two new cylinders were purchased along with new shoes and all new fitting hardware. One thing to note - the Lotus models have 9 inch drums, most other Cortinas have 8 inch ones so you have to be careful to buy the right stuff. Ask me how I know.

Anyway, it's coming along quite nicely, Russ is getting on with stuff today while I have a day off from irritating him. Hopefully the stuff we need to continue the job will be here by Wednesday, we can then get everything connected up, installed, bled and working. There is still a lot of tidying to do and some reworking of the wiring loom, it's been quite badly bodged in places. We are dealing with it as we go,  Then it will be start up day. I like start up day.


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