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Holiday tappet-guide woes

Subject: [S3 XJ6] Holiday tappet-guide woes

[This posting is quite long, sorry about that!]

Call me the Tappet Guy, everybody else does! ;-)

As some of you might know, I took my car, an '86 SIII XJ6 4.2 Sovereign for a little spin last week and had some trouble...

I drove from Bergen to Amsterdam, some 2100 kilometers, without a glitch. In fact, I remember sitting in my hotel room in Amsterdam and contemplating the posting I was going to make to Jag-Lovers when I got home: "Bergen-Amsterdam and back with only a burnt-out turn-signal bulb". Well, a lot more was in store...

While in Amsterdam I had my car in for a 24000Km service at Kimman BV, their service was excellent though pricey. Thanks to Martin Robert Fooks for the tip.

The day after I collected my car from Kimman I started on the way home. I was just west of Groeningen, cruising at a steady 140Km/h and thoroughly enjoying myself when disaster struck. Everything seemed to happen at once, the engine sound got deeper, a loud whirring noise appeared as well as an intermittant clicking. I pulled off the motorway at the first opportunity and got out of the car with the engine idling.

There was no mistake about it, a loud, mechanical clicking sound from the engine. All sorts of different scenarios went through my mind, from a broken valve via a broken valve spring to a worn-out tie-rod bearing. You get the picture... the strange thing was that the sound sort of floated when I revved the engine, it came and went. I quickly discovered the reason for the deeper note from the engine and the loud whirring, the exhaust system was leaking from three different joints and the engine cooling fan clutch had seized up making the fan turn with the engine whether it was needed or not.

The fan and the exhaust I considered minor problems, but I was really worried about the clicking sound. I drove carefully to the nearest gas station and parked in the shade. I let the engine cool off for a while and removed the sparkplugs. They all looked fine, no trace of oil or any mechanical impact of any kind. I was a bit relieved but still puzzled and worried. I also checked the oil and coolant, they both looked fine and the levels had not changed.

Luckily I'd brought my GSM cellular phone so I called Nick for some advice. It was sure nice to have someone familiar with Jaguars to talk to in a situation like that! Thanks Nick! He asked me to rev the engine to check if the sounds appeared all over the rpm scale so I started her up again. The clicking sound was gone! I almost couldn't believe it, but decided to continue the trip. After about five minutes of slow driving (max 2500rpm) on the motorway the clicking returned. I pulled off the motorway again at a rest stop and started calling people all over the place...

Nick volunteered to try to get hold of any Jag Lovers in the Netherlands while I called SOS International in Denmark to arrange for transporting the car home somehow. This international rescue service is part of my extensive insurance coverage (which I pay a lot of money for), but I was instantly disappointed when I called them. They were very busy right now but would call me back in two and a half hours. I never heard from them again. So much for SOS International...

Instead I called Wim vanGinhoven (thanks for the tip, Tony!) who was out fishing but still answered my call for help on his cellular phone. He was very helpful (thanks Wim!) and suggested that I get in touch with Mr. DeVries of Hori Jaguar in Tynaarlo. Mr. DeVries was not at home but I still decided to drive to his garage as it was only 15 kilometers away. On the way there the clicking persisted... I parked outside his garage and sat down to smoke and wait. I must have smoked a whole pack of sigarettes that evening!

After talking to Nick, Wim and others it suddenly dawned on me that the problem was probably a loose tappet-guide.

While I was waiting I called Vicarage in the UK and spoke to a man called Malcolm. He was quite fantastic and did everything in his power (and them some!) to help. He tried calling all the Jaguar people he knew in both Holland and Germany to find someone who could help. It was not his fault that he couldn't reach anyone, it was after all late Friday evening by that time. Thanks Malcolm!

I suddenly remembered a tip I got from "Gerry from Switzerland" on this list and tried calling CC Classics N.V. near Den Haag. They were very helpful and volunteered to "wait up" for me and work on the car trough the night. I was seriously considering taking them up on their offer but decided against it as it was quite a long drive in the wrong direction.

After waiting until midnight for Mr. DeVries to come home I decided to go and get something to eat. This involved going back on the motorway and driving for some kilometers so I was not very happy about it. I was constantly waiting for the clicking sound to return, but it never did!

After some careful deliberations and discussion with my passenger we decided to head for home and drive very carefully. Driving through Germany on the autobahn at night and not being able to go faster than 100Km/h was not much fun, but we made it back home to Norway without further incidents. I stopped over in Oslo and visited Nick who rewarded me with a North Cape Challenge T-shirt and cap. He told me that he had got hold of Jeffrey Gram who had galantly offered to help. I didn't need it by then, but thank you, Jeffrey!

Since then the engine has not made a single click, but I am still going to secure those tappet-guides at the first opportunity. I've read a lot on this list about tappet-guide stakedown kits, but all the people I've talked to during and since my trip adviced against them and recommended a small steel screw beside each tappet-guide instead. I guess I'll opt for this solution as it seems the simplest.

All in all (and in retrospect) the car behaved quite well. It is after all 10 years old, has seen over 177000 kilometers (110000 miles) of service without any major overhauls and it didn't break down completely and leave me stranded. It used very little oil and the fuel consumption was only 12 liters/100 kilometers (19.8 mpg US). Funny thing was that the fuel consumption was the same whether driving 80-90Km/h (50-60mph) in Norway or 140-160Km/h (90-100mph) in Germany and Holland. The engine temperature never once rose above the normal 90 degrees C, even when cruising at a steady 160Km/h (100mph) in warm weather going down through Germany or in rush hour traffic in Amsterdam. The total distance covered on this trip was 4250 kilometers (2650 miles).

I've made this trip many times (six, I think) in many different cars, but never before has the term Grand Touring made any real sense to me. Now it surely does. Next year I will have fixed the problems that arose this time and quite a few other items and I will drive it for an even longer trip to Spain. What have I learned from this experience? To bring a lot of tools, some spare parts, a list of people and garages compiled from postings on Jag Lovers, my GSM cellular phone with a "modem" interface and a portable computer.

Thank you, Jag Lovers, the greatest resource for Jaguar owners on the planet!

Do I still love my Jaguar? Oh yes!


Gunnar Helliesen   | Bergen IT Consult AS  | NetBSD/VAX on a uVAX II
Systems Consultant | Bergen, Norway        | '86 Jaguar XJ6 4.2 Sovereign   | | Vicki who? What .sig virus?


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