Install a TDCi engine: Fitting and starting


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Precision guided: Care is needed to line things up at this final stage : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
Precision and care don’t end with the engine build, the same approach is used to install it into the vehicle, with the perfect result

Need to know

Time: 3 hours
Cost: See below
Difficulty: 5 out of 5
Models: 2.4-litre Puma-engined Defenders (2.2 version is similar).
Tools needed: Spanners, sockets, fuel pipe pliers, torque wrenches, engine stand, breaker bar, paint pen, engine hoist, vacuum purge and fill kit.
Parts & costs: 2.4 Puma stripped engine, DA1182, £4062, various fixings, seals, pipes and ancillaries as needed.
Work safely:
• Use the right tool, for the right job
• Always be fire-safe in the workshop
• Use the correctly rated lifting and support equipment
• Keep hands clear of tight spaces around and under the suspended engine so they cannot become trapped
• Wear eye protection when working on fuel lines
• Get an expert to do the job, if in any doubt
Thanks to: Ian Baughan and IRB Developments for their help with this feature.


We’re almost there with the transplant now, with the most difficult and critical work behind us. The engine is finally out of the build room, and we’re ready to install it in the Defender. And we can be confident because, in doing the work to this point, we’ve confirmed all the vital elements as being set correctly, such as timing and correct torquing of all the fixings around the motor as we went. From here, the work is simpler, but not without challenges, so it is important we still maintain our methodical, accurate working habit. We must not rush, though the temptation is never greater than at times like these when the finish is in sight.

The hardest job now is getting the engine into the car and sitting on the mounts. The difficult bit is the access because the mounts are low down on the engine, and there isn’t much room to see, nor get hands in. Remember that the engine, though suspended on a hoist, will still move about, so great care is needed to avoid squeezing hands into places where they may inadvertently get crushed.

To help, Ian has already removed the front wings of the Defender. That was a morning’s work, but worthwhile to improve access. Not only can you see in which direction the engine needs to go, but you can safely get hands and tools in.

If you find yourself struggling to line up the engine with the gearbox, don’t fret. Simply back it clear, have a break and a cup of tea and a biscuit, and try again. Let’s walk through the final steps of the process, and get the brand new engine turning and burning for the first time.


Positioning and connecting the engine

Little extra jobs? Before we fit the engine, we check the health of the clutch hydraulic system. Ian fits one of his own design slave cylinders, which usefully incorporates a bleed nipple.

Start it right: Make it simple. Have one person on the hoist and one watching each side. Fit the engine mounts to the engine, so that they locate as the engine lowers.

Forward, down: We have to line the clutch to the gearbox shaft by rotating the engine and angling it front-to-back as needed. Take time, communicate, and adjust in small amounts.

Job titles: Know what each person is doing. First, focus on locating the engine to the gearbox. Then gently lower. Each person also looks for anything getting pinched or damaged.

Down, down, and in: Lower it down very steadily. If it is right at the gearbox end, the engine will naturally locate the engine mounts into the chassis leg brackets.

Work clever: This is the benefit of having removed the wings. We can see, and gain direct access to, the engine mounting bolts. A few hours well spent, we say.

Bellhousing bolts: Now the engine is in position, fit the gearbox bellhousing bolts. There are ten: eight face backwards, but two behind the exhaust fit forwards. Torque to 48Nm.

Pipework: Fit and connect up all the coolant hoses, using the correct clips. Inspect anything hard plastic, like the heater control valve, which can crack with age.

Starter: Fit the starter motor to the nearside – again, easy with the wings off. Then connect the wiring loom. Double-check for anything that looks out of place.

Exhaust: Push the exhaust downpipe upwards towards the turbo outlet to locate the catalytic converter on the studs. Install the flange fixings and the cat support bracket.

Is it okay? Check the thermostat. Any signs of cracking, or even if you’re in doubt, replace it. Now is the best time to change it, while the system is drained.


Fill the cooling system

To fill the coolant system on a Puma, the factory used a vacuum filling procedure in which compressed air is used with a venturi to purge the air from within the system to create a vacuum. The vacuum is then held for a short period to test the integrity of the cooling system. If satisfactory, the valve is then connected to a reservoir of coolant (water and the appropriate concentration of antifreeze) and the vacuum draws the coolant up through the system.

Used on Land Rovers as a process since Discovery 3 in 2005, it is one of the best ways to ensure all excess air is evacuated from the system.  Owners of soft dash Range Rovers and late Discovery 1 V8s can only dream of such a simple way to bleed their coolant systems: no more raising the front of the vehicle, nor unbolting and raising the coolant reservoir.


Vac fill: Ian at IRB Developments also uses a vacuum filling procedure. Equipment is attached to the expansion tank filler, with the vacuum gauge positioned for easy reading.

First, the purge: Compressed air line (black) is connected, and atmospheric pressure in the system is reduced to vacuum. Cloth catches any residual fluid as it depressurises.

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Lower it, now wait: Pressure is lowered to minus-0.9 bar after three minutes. The system is then closed using the red valve, and left for ten minutes to check for leaks.

Flat as a pancake: Characteristically the coolant pipes contract flat, as all air is removed. If there is a leak, the pipes will open again, as well as the gauge telling us.

Fill her up: Ian connects a tube from container of pre-mixed coolant and opens vacuum valve. The vacuum literally sucks coolant around the system. There is no air there.

Finished: As pressure equalises with the atmosphere, the gauge reads zero, and coolant stops flowing. This telltale level of fluid also drops down from the vacuum valve.

Looking normal: You’ll have seen the hoses fill back up as the fluid is drawn around the system. There shouldn’t be any fluid leaks, as we’ve tested the system already.


Preparing the lubrication system

Coolant done, now oil: Fill the engine with oil to the maximum mark on the dipstick. Do not start the car: we need to circulate oil around the engine before starting it…

Top trick: We do that by disconnecting the crank sensor or, in our case, not fitting it. The engine won’t start. Crank the engine until the oil light stays extinguished.

Crank sensor: The crank sensor pushes down to just contact a tooth around the starter ring. Replace if the tip doesn’t look sharp like our one, as they can wear.


Fuel priming

Fuel system: Connect the fuel supply at the fuel pump, and at the spill return. Both are simple push fittings. Ensure the fixings are clean before fitting to the pipes.

Prime work: Prime the fuel system using a primer bulb. This connects in line to the fuel supply, and forces it forward to take it up toward the injector system.

Chase the air out: Bleed each fuel pipe between the fuel rail and the injectors by cracking off each injector union, then cranking the engine until fuel leaks out. Repeat for all.


Readying for start-up

Brain box: The wiring harness connections are plugged into the engine ECU, then the ECU is mounted in place on the bulkhead and the harnesses secured neatly into position.

Don’t forget: Last job: fill the power steering fluid reservoir. That should be everything ready, so finally double-check nothing’s been missed, and all looks as it should.

Moment of glory

We can now start the engine. It should crank, then start promptly: oil lights should extinguish, and it should idle. Expect an initial puff of blue smoke which is the protective oil in the bores burning off. It should idle with a clean exhaust after a few seconds. Don’t over-rev, just let it idle for five minutes or so to build temperature, then turn it off. Allow it to cool, and check all around for any leaks.

When satisfied, it is time to take it for a short drive. Again, be mindful. Better to do two or three short drives and check procedures to confirm all is as it should be, rather than committing to a long drive straight away. In our case, we have to put the wings back on first.


Top result

There we have it. One Defender revitalised with an as-new engine. More than that, we’ve had opportunity to use a variety of skills and processes, to work accurately and on complex, fine tolerance engine components. As is LRM Technical’s way, we’ve also chosen a number of extra processes that refreshed existing components to give them a new lease of life, so as to ensure the end result looked like a new, cohesive part.

As we said in the first instalment, engine work is a hugely satisfying task. It is a story of working cleanly, methodically, and following procedures to the letter. It does take time, but the feeling of satisfaction you get when it fires up for the first time, will stay with you forever.


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