Out & about

Some nice trips out in the car recently as the weather has been decent & the cooling issues seem to have gone away. One of these was a little trip up the M6 to Wigan to see the legendary Morrisons, Debbie & Darren. Their LM500 is still on the ramp as they await the refurbished wheels but they have made good use of the time & the car is… immaculate. Everything is either colour coded to match the striking purple on the LM, polished to a shine or carbon dipped. It looks stunning (must be the neatest car in the north… or at least equal with Dave Barlow’s Marcos). Shame this horrible Covd-19 lockdown is preventing car shows to allow everyone to appreciate it.

Darren also spotted that my bonnet catches are very corroded & one of them is moving around enough that is is wearing a hole in the bonnet. Yikes. New ones ordered from Marcos Heritage but not sure how I will fit yet. The nuts & bolts are so heavily corroded there is a risk they will snap in situ. I did think about replacing the bonnet catch cup & latch in the car body. At least, until Rory from MHS explained that this required the front mudguards to be cut out from the body to get access, then re-attached with industrial quantities of poly-urethane mastic. Probably reasonably straightforward given plenty of time, space & tools. But…

A request on Facebook for Marcos photos from Nick Marsh, one of Jem’s sons & a painter, has thrown this image up which I suspect is the Marcos Mantis launch. Great picture & lovely looking car which Phil Cunningham still runs (& occasionally washes).

Squeak

After a lovely morning drive with my daughter around the lanes of Cheshire, it was time to get the stereo working so I headed to Manchester Car Audio who had fitted the current unit & amp. (For added excitement, the windows stopped working on the way). It only took a few minutes for them to diagnose the problem.

Mice had set up home behind the stereo & chewed through several wires including the RCA leads. They have made it remarkably cosy, as you can see from the picture below.

Home Sweet Home

By the time I left a couple of hours later the stereo was working but the windows were not, so booked in Monday for a more thorough investigation.

Aaaand… it doesn’t live 😢

Overheated today a couple of miles out from home & lost lots of coolant. Topped up with water but only made it half a mile before it went again so wasn’t going to get home. Inevitably the only time I have ever gone out without my phone… D’oh! 🙄 Fortunately the chap in the house I had pulled up (aka broken down) by came out to talk, & kindly lent me his phone to call The AA. What a thoroughly nice chap who turned out to own one of the local butchers. The AA then informed me I had no MOT… nightmare. The downside of cycling to work instead of driving… out of sight, out of mind 😮. Anyhooo… The AA won’t attempt to fix anything without an MOT but agreed to recover me home. Nice chap rocked up in a low loader a few minutes later (really… I have waited longer than that for the kettle to boil!). Very complimentary about the car & really looked after it loading it onto the flatbed. A few minutes to get back home then a hard-to-disguise-from-the-neighbours-with-all-the-flashing-lights unloading of the car.I drove it into the garage shortly before midnight.

A little disappointed I got one day’s driving before the car broke down again but c’est la vie. I now need to figure out how to clear the airlock (if that is what it is), & get the car MOTd before the tax is due at the end of the month.

Another Marcos adventure! 🤣

It lives!

Wonderful day today, as the car was driveable for the first time since Christmas Day. After much pondering (& quite a lot of checking what batteries were in stock locally) I bought an Optima Yellow Top YTS 4.2 from Advanced Battery Supplies in Stockport. A tiny place on a side street but nice staff & a small discount was very welcome as Optima batteries are not cheap.

A quick wash down was very definitely in order, leaving the Mantis gleaming in the sun. Went out for about an hour driving round Cheshire lanes in the sunshine. Being a little cautious but everything went well. The stereo isn’t working but I can look at that at home. Very happy.

My daughter wanted a spin (can we go the long way round to the shop 😁) so went out again, this time through Dunham & Lymm. Stopped for fuel & had trouble pulling away from the pump. Felt like fuel starvation so wondering if there is still an issue with heat evaporation in the fuel rails. Turned the engine off for a few seconds & it restarted again without issue.

Looking forward to driving the car every few days to uncover any gremlins from being stood for five months. To do list is stereo, bonnet mesh & fuse box(s).

Battery woes

The NOCO Li-Ion starter has arrived… and wouldn’t start the Mantis. It did start the Mini One however, so the NOCO unit is OK.

The CTEK battery charger/tester also arrived. I removed the Optima Red Top battery from the Mantis, & it was at 4.2V across the terminals. Left it on charge from the CTEK & it got to 11.6V but the CTEK & battery were both getting pretty hot so I disconnected it. A day later, not having connected it back to the car the voltage is back down to 5.4V. 😭

At this point I have decided that the Red Top can’t be reconditioned or brought back to life & I don’t fancy cooking my new CTEK charger either. So now I need to find an alternative battery which will fit in the tray & will last a little longer. And, of course, figure out what is draining the battery.

Charger of the light brigade

The black mesh for the front bonnet cooling vents has arrived – Huzzah! Being aluminium, it is very light in comparison to the current steel mesh. However, that should be OK as it’s not load bearing bar the odd stone & occasionally someone who thinks it’s funny to put their rubbish down the hole! The gaps are a lot bigger so fingers crossed this means improved airflow & better cooling.

Of course, cooling is only relevant if the engine is running! 🤣 Despite charging the Optima Red Top 35 R battery with my trusty CTEK XS3600 more than once over the last few months, the engine still wouldn’t start. It is clearly a lack of juice as there is a barely audible click upon first attempt, then nothing. No luck with my DBPower 600A Portable Car Jump Starter either (disappointing).

That said, I did manage to start the engine using jump leads to feed off our trusty family steed, the Honda CR-V. That would seem to rule out a wiring issue. Why might there be a wiring issue? I’ve been slightly nervous since I found those mouse droppings oin the wheel arches in the engine bay (although the culprits are no longer with us I’m afraid 💀).

I’m still at a loss as to why the battery is not at full charge. I can’t figure out what’s draining it & suffice to say in Coronavirus lock down, getting an auto-electrician is not happening 🙄. I’ve also found both the CTEK unit & the battery getting quite warm, which can’t be good. Inevitably the battery is a few months out of its 2 year warranty, and at £150 a pop, I am not in a hurry to replace it if it can be reconditioned. Therefore, in the spirit of self-diagnosis & resolution, I have decided to invest in a better battery charger and car jump starter. Step forward, the CTEK MXS 5.0 Test and Charge, and the NOCO Boost HD GB70.

The MXS-5.0 Test&Charge has diagnostics as well as charging functionality.

After much Googling, the NOCO Boost HD GB70 has another 2kMA on the DBPower 600A & is rated to start petrol engines up to 8 litres. Plus, the next DBPower unit up, the 800A, doesn’t seem to be available in the UK.

I have high hopes that the CTEK will give me some insight into whether it is the battery or not. 🤔 If so, my love affair with Optima may be at an end! At least I can prove the NOCO car starter, which allows me to travel in the car with a bit more confidence. Covid-19 Lock down looks set to run on into the summer so I am not missing out too much, despite the lovely weather. In the meantime, the Marcos Cars Facebrook is very active with lots of great pictures resurfacing, including some nice ones of the Mantis. 😁

Cooling

Day… whatever of Covid-19 lock down & the car still not moving (electrics) but thinking ahead to when it is. I am hoping there will be some decent weather left, so… how to improve the cooling on the car? I keep coming back to something Dave Chivers mentioned last year, that when mesh was fitted to the front radiator vents (nostrils of the Dragon!?) the factory saw a 10 degree increase in engine temperature. Yikes!

Although I have increased the size of the holes in the mesh at least twice since I have owned the car, I am going to try the largest mesh I can find. This is black aluminium mesh from Simoni Racing – not cheap but hopefully it will make a difference.

Mesh black aluminium 100x30 cm wide

Just waiting for the postie now to see what it looks like offered up. Then to get it fitted of course, as I don’t have the gunk or tools to cut & replace the current mesh at home.

Zilch

Gosh! Never mind the impending world doom of Corvid-19, the real tragedy of 2020 is that the Mantis still hasn’t moved since it died on Christmas day. Well… that’s not strictly true, as it was pushed out of the garage (thank you Tilly & Sam!) to allow a thorough inspection of the fuse box, then pushed back in again. From which, dear readers, you will have correctly assumed that the root cause of the electrics failure is still not found.

Sooo… what’s next? There is obviously some kind of electrical fault but I don’t know of anyone local who I am confident would fix it. Options would appear to therefore by taking the car to Joe at Redline, or Jay at Chariots to get the wiring checked out (it cannot be a coincidence that everything stopped after a good soaking when the car was being thoroughly cleaned!). \neither one is local so that is going to be hard on the trailer costs. On the other hand… I have saved two months of fuel so far! Checking the fuses has also made me realise the pedal box really needs a refurb & the fuse box needs replacing. The heat dissipation from the LS3 has never really been resolved & I am mindful of Guru Chivers comment last year that the factory saw a 10 degree reduction in engine temperature with no mesh fitted to the front bonnet vents, so I am also minded to get a less dense mesh fitted. Finally… do I swap the fast road cam for a standard cam to get better mpg & get the ECU remapped to a more normal config (less extreme advance etc). OK so this would drop the car from the magic 500 plus BHP (530 BHP) to a slightly-more-modest 480 BHP, but I have come to the conclusion that I can live without the bragging rights.

I am also going to hand over the reins of the North West club organiser to the Morrisons. Uncertainly about job, the car off the road so much, the end of Marcos at Tatton Park & so on have meant I am no longer as enthusiastic as I used to be & the other owners need someone with more Va-Va-Voom. After around 20 years there is a good case to be made for new blood, & the Morrisons are both extremely passionate about the marque & all round ‘good people’!

Where’s Noah?

One of my greatest pleasures from having the Marcos is driving with the hood down. I normally consider myself (& the long-suffering car) fairly tolerant on the weather front… but I got rather moist today! 😳 Having slightly misjudged the intensity of rain when glancing out of the office window before blindly setting off home, heavy traffic (& male pride) meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to put the hood up for about 15 minutes of… this!

A combination of no fuel (again) & standing water in the passenger seat (again) forced me to concede defeat & pull into a petrol station. Curse you, weather Gods!

Now one of the reasons I don’t get hung up on putting the hood up when it’s raining is that it doesn’t actually stop you from getting wet – it just concentrates the water in a few key places. At least, that’s the score in my car. I already knew the new hood had gaps around the leading window edge which let water in when driving, but I wasn’t expecting it to be coming in through the front seal above the windscreen & dripping steadily off the sun visor (yeah… guess how much that gets used in Manchester…) and onto my lap. It’s never happened before so a bit perplexing & subsequent inspection hasn’t revealed anything obviously wrong with the rubber. What it did mean however was a s**tload of water in the car, now being superheated by the 6.2 litre footwarmer with the result that EVERYTHING misted up & I couldn’t see out of the car. The front screen demister didn’t stand a chance! As the traffic inched forward I became terrified of driving into the (unseen) car in front, in the end putting the hazard lights on & pulling off onto a sidestreet until the rain abated somewhat. Not my finest arrival home!

On a cheerier note, since replacing the battery the car has started without any issues so it looks like the Optima was a worthwhile investment.

All hot air

Le Mans is less than a week away. I am excited. CBW/LM24 2017 regalia is on order and extra large door stickers requested.

Is the car good to go? Not quite… I am still waiting for the fans to arrive at SP Automotive, & have had to source the Maxi blade fuse & in line fuse holder myself. As soon as I hear the fans have arrived it’s a quick drive over to Tattenhall and what I hope is a straightforward fan swap & opening up of the rear bonnet vents.

Like I said… Le Mans is less than a week away!