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New owner in Vegas


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Good morning west coast.

 

I picked up the 1994 HPC that was floating around on Hemmings for a little bit. I've been looking for a Seven since I sold my Elise last year, and this is my first one.

 

I have a couple things that I need to do with it before I take it to the track. I was trying to figure out if anyone knew someone in the Vegas area that could work on it? I'm technically a certified motorcycle tech but I've never worked that career path and only really like doing the basic maintenance. I don't have the garage space or confidence in myself to do any bigger projects, and I'm still trying to learn where everything is on this car.

 

There's a small oil leak right at the gearbox (Type 9 with straight cut gears) which I suspect is coming from the drain hole one of the previous owners drilled and installed on the bottom. That shouldn't be too bad a fix for me.

 

Second leak is engine oil. I've no clue where it's coming from since it seems like it's somewhere behind the engine and under where the windshield would be, and I don't know how to access any of that without removing the drivetrain? I just know it leaves a puddle in front of the gearbox area. So I'd think maybe bell housing or something. The engine is a Vauxhall C20XE with a dry sump installed. I'd jack the car up and take a better look but I am finding conflicting information on where to put the jack to not damage the car. The Elise could easily be totalled if not lifted properly.

 

Like I said, I'd like if I could find someone to take a look and fix what's going on. I know that that's probably not possible in Vegas since I only know of two other Sevens in the area. A Birkin and a Superformance.

 

I apologize for my new person questions but appreciate any help or information you can provide. Glad to be part of the community and look forward to meeting some of you sometime in the future!

 

Chris

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Hi Chris,

Everyone was new here at one time. At to the oil leak, how would you describe the "puddle". Dime, quarter size, Exxon Valdese? In the classic British car way, they leak. Keep the fluid levels up to full (engine and transmission) until the leaks are address.

Good luck.

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The type 9 is likely leaking into the bellhousing and thats where you see the puddles. 

 

I let mine leak until my clutch failed on the track, then once I was in there I serviced the Type9 and did the rear main seal fixing all the problems.

 

It's a decently big enough job that obviously requires engine removal. If it's not too big of a leak I'd keep checking on levels and keep topping it off.

 

Have you setup a cardboard underneath it to help pin point exactly where the drips are coming from?

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I have yet to put a cardboard under there (Been lazy and forgetting every time I have taken it out thus far). I will do the cardboard now so that next time I take it out I know exactly how big the drips are. I attached pictures with a dollar bill for size comparison which is the only thing I had handy. The darker spots are the fresh ones from yesterday. Though it has dripped a few times in the garage so I need to do the cardboard to get an accurate measurement. As well as pictures from where exactly I think the drips are dropping from. Again, I am fairly sure that the gearbox oil which you will see as red in the picture is dripping from where one of the owners drilled a drain plug.

 

The previous owner did not know where to check the oil levels for the gearbox or fill it. So I am unsure about that myself. Any information on that is helpful. The engine is dry sump and I was told I have to run the car until it's at operating temperature (80c?) and then shut it off and remove the cap on the bell housing to make sure it's above the highest metal part I see in there I guess?

 

I honestly don't have any problems with just filling it as needed. I saved up my money and the minister of finance's money (Fiance) to buy it so paying someone to pull the engine right now is not exactly something I want to do.

 

Thanks for all the help guys. I am grateful with having people to ask questions and help out.

 

PS: Engine is Vauxhall C20XE dry sump mated to the Type 9 with straight-cut gears. If that helps!

PXL_20211011_193135138.jpg

PXL_20211011_193321972.jpg

PXL_20211011_193128973.jpg

PXL_20211011_193330946.jpg

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The drain/fill plug can be a PITA to access depending on the car.  It's located on the driver's side of the transmission case (LHD car)with very little clearance to the transmission tunnel and chassis tubes.  Check out the Transmission downloads section of the forum here.  Lots of good articles on the Type-9 that should help. 

 

One suggestion is to thoroughly clean the trans/bellhousing/block area to remove all traces of the leaks, then identify the point(s) of origin.  Oil has a tendency to wick away from the leak point, or be blown around while driving, so just looking at it as-is can give false positives to the actual source(s).  

 

-John

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About the dry sump.  With both dry sumps cars I have had (Birkin & Porsche) you check the level with the warm engine at idle, circulating oil.  Someone more knowledgeable about a Vauxhall may know differently.  Welcome to the mad house.

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16 hours ago, Source said:

I was trying to figure out if anyone knew someone in the Vegas area that could work on it?

 

Welcome to seven ownership!   I suggest you do some research to look for a mechanic specializing in vintage racing.  Spring Mountain circuit is an hour or so out of Vegas.  I would bet that someone there is running vintage racing cars in one of the race series on offer or maybe as part of their driving clubs.  

 

The reason I suggest a mechanic specializing in racing older cars is that it matches the technology you are driving with.  They don't plug the cable into the car and wait for it to spit out an answer to whats wrong with it.  They have the old school skills to diagnose the issue properly.  

 

Apologies that I don't have a direct referral to assist you but it is a technique I have used to good effect to find good mechanics across the US for a number of my basket cas....sorry...cars over the years.  

 

For how to jack up a Caterham, have a look at the owner manuals available for download here - gives you an idea on all the basics for you to get up to speed

Build & User Guides - USA7s

 

The downloads section of this forum has a lot of information for you to read and get up to speed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the responses. I was excited to get the car because it seemed easy enough for me as a motorcycle guy to work on. And then I got it and it intimidates me. I guess it's just one of those things I have to live with and get used to until I'm confident. I already told my Fiancé that if anything financial happened, my daily would go before the Seven goes.:classic_laugh:

 

The dry sump I've heard conflicting things on. Some say check it after turning the car off within a minute. Some say I should do it while it's idling. The real question is if I do it while idling should I expect oil to be thrown everywhere if I open the top of the bell housing to look.

 

Croc, I didn't think about that. I have friends that work at Spring Mountain, because I worked with them as a driving instructor for two years at SpeedVegas. I reached out to a couple people other instructors I worked with and they have referred me to someone. That person said they wouldn't work on it until I figured out how long parts would take to come in for the Vauxhall motor from across the pond. But I will reach out and see if I can find some vintage guys that would be willing to work on it.

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15 minutes ago, Source said:

Thanks for the responses. I was excited to get the car because it seemed easy enough for me as a motorcycle guy to work on. And then I got it and it intimidates me. I guess it's just one of those things I have to live with and get used to until I'm confident. I already told my Fiancé that if anything financial happened, my daily would go before the Seven goes.:classic_laugh:

 

The dry sump I've heard conflicting things on. Some say check it after turning the car off within a minute. Some say I should do it while it's idling. The real question is if I do it while idling should I expect oil to be thrown everywhere if I open the top of the bell housing to look.

 

Croc, I didn't think about that. I have friends that work at Spring Mountain, because I worked with them as a driving instructor for two years at SpeedVegas. I reached out to a couple people other instructors I worked with and they have referred me to someone. That person said they wouldn't work on it until I figured out how long parts would take to come in for the Vauxhall motor from across the pond. But I will reach out and see if I can find some vintage guys that would be willing to work on it.

 

Ah the Vegas life. Where 7 could actually serve as a "year round" vehicle. 

 

You should still be excited. The car really can be a life changing epiphany in a way for those who life small well handling cars. You being a motorcycle rider like myself, you'll be amused to hear that I barely ride any of my bikes anymore since getting the 7. Thats after many many years of riding and behind a die hard bike guy. Any time it's nice enough for a bike, it's nice enough for a 7 and it's a similar experience that's better in some ways. No helmet, no gear, no need to worry about falling over or glancing at guard rails as a decapitation device. You just go out and enjoy it. Strongly recommend an aero screen.

 

With all that said, in NY the car doesn't see more than a few thousand miles a year. Between temperature, other weather, limited utility and numerous gremlins/breakdowns it certainly doesn't make a daily for me. 

 

I believe reliability is hit or miss. It's simple in many ways but high strung in other ways. As you can see by my thread I've been chasing misc issues throughout my ownership but to me that's part of the experience. Plus eventually I'll run out of things to replace...  

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26 minutes ago, Vovchandr said:

 

Ah the Vegas life. Where 7 could actually serve as a "year round" vehicle. 

 

You should still be excited. The car really can be a life changing epiphany in a way for those who life small well handling cars. You being a motorcycle rider like myself, you'll be amused to hear that I barely ride any of my bikes anymore since getting the 7. Thats after many many years of riding and behind a die hard bike guy. Any time it's nice enough for a bike, it's nice enough for a 7 and it's a similar experience that's better in some ways. No helmet, no gear, no need to worry about falling over or glancing at guard rails as a decapitation device. You just go out and enjoy it. Strongly recommend an aero screen.

 

With all that said, in NY the car doesn't see more than a few thousand miles a year. Between temperature, other weather, limited utility and numerous gremlins/breakdowns it certainly doesn't make a daily for me. 

 

I believe reliability is hit or miss. It's simple in many ways but high strung in other ways. As you can see by my thread I've been chasing misc issues throughout my ownership but to me that's part of the experience. Plus eventually I'll run out of things to replace...  

 

We are very much alike. I graduated from motorcycle tech school in 2010 and motorcycles have been my life since. Working for many dealerships as well as places like Revzilla and now I am GM of a Dainese store. I actually sold my last motorcycle in order to make space in the garage for the Seven. Although now we are teaching my Fiancé to ride and she has a Z125 which I hop on from time to time. The one I got I think I got pretty lucky with. It is an HPC imported by an Air Force guy from Britain. It came with two binders of the car's full history since original build. The dyno sheet puts it at 238 crank horsepower from a Swindon built engine. Reading the entire history of the car thorugh all its owners is really pretty special. I feel obligated to continue the history and it's cool that it's a true British car. Since I fell in love with British cars when I was a kid. It came with a box of tons of extra parts, wheels, tires, and a gearbox. So I do have the aero screen. Since putting it on, I haven't put the windshield or doors back on. Coming from motorcycles, this is the right way to drive it in my opinion. But I still do wear a helmet. Old habits I guess. And I've been hit by rocks from cars at 80 MPH while riding a motorcycle and even with a leather jacket it hurts. Can't imagine being hit in the face while not wearing a helmet.

 

I hear you about NY. I grew up in Syracuse for 18 years of my life before heading out. And even after going to tech school I returned to Pennsylvania, where the rest of my family is from. Even here in Vegas I don't think I'd daily the Caterham. This is like having some of my exotic motorcycles. I want it in my sight at all times, and I don't trust the people around here.

 

I am truly excited for the whole experience of owning the car. I can't wait to learn more about it and get my hands dirty. It's just overwhelming at first and I am worried about spraying oil all over the road one day. Such are old British vehicles I guess.:classic_laugh:

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11 minutes ago, Source said:

 

We are very much alike. I graduated from motorcycle tech school in 2010 and motorcycles have been my life since. Working for many dealerships as well as places like Revzilla and now I am GM of a Dainese store. I actually sold my last motorcycle in order to make space in the garage for the Seven. Although now we are teaching my Fiancé to ride and she has a Z125 which I hop on from time to time. The one I got I think I got pretty lucky with. It is an HPC imported by an Air Force guy from Britain. It came with two binders of the car's full history since original build. The dyno sheet puts it at 238 crank horsepower from a Swindon built engine. Reading the entire history of the car thorugh all its owners is really pretty special. I feel obligated to continue the history and it's cool that it's a true British car. Since I fell in love with British cars when I was a kid. It came with a box of tons of extra parts, wheels, tires, and a gearbox. So I do have the aero screen. Since putting it on, I haven't put the windshield or doors back on. Coming from motorcycles, this is the right way to drive it in my opinion. But I still do wear a helmet. Old habits I guess. And I've been hit by rocks from cars at 80 MPH while riding a motorcycle and even with a leather jacket it hurts. Can't imagine being hit in the face while not wearing a helmet.

 

I hear you about NY. I grew up in Syracuse for 18 years of my life before heading out. And even after going to tech school I returned to Pennsylvania, where the rest of my family is from. Even here in Vegas I don't think I'd daily the Caterham. This is like having some of my exotic motorcycles. I want it in my sight at all times, and I don't trust the people around here.

 

I am truly excited for the whole experience of owning the car. I can't wait to learn more about it and get my hands dirty. It's just overwhelming at first and I am worried about spraying oil all over the road one day. Such are old British vehicles I guess.:classic_laugh:

 

Funny you say that about being alike

 

Here is what used-to-be-mine-became-hers Grom looks like along some of my other bikes. It's small enough that I still keep it in the single car garage next to 7. 

 

image.png.df47b761cf3f581460debe30a845bbc2.png

 

It does sound like you have a very nice HPC unit. With straight cut gears I believe you said as well? Also mimics mine. The whine is awesome. 

 

Helmet is obviously personal risk tolerance. I wear safety glasses and so far debris hasn't been an issue other than the track. Got nailed with a piece of tire in my visor last time at NJMP. 

 

Brits leaving stains behind is just their way of marking US territory. It's like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant outside. It doesn't really own it, but it feels better about leaving the mark and claiming it. 

 

Look forward to seeing more pictures and experiences with your 7. 

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