Good news - the engine is running now. It runs well too, although we only ran it for 15 seconds or so before I stopped it in order to look for issues.

To get it started, a friend and I went around the engine, system by system, and checked each system in turn was working. The first thing we tried was the fuel pump, which had two issues - the membrane wasn’t hooked into the pump lever quite right, and I forgot to tighten one of the fasteners on the fuel line. As an aside, if you ever want to test the fuel system for leaks, blowing into the fuel tank (while covering the bleeder hole) works extremely well.

After that, we moved onto making sure that oil was getting pumped around. This was a matter of hand-cranking it until oil started seeping out of the rocker assembly.

Finally, I did up a wire from the battery to the ignition coil, and wound the engine over on the starter motor, checking each spark plug in turn. Nothing was wrong here (healthy blue sparks), so we installed the spark plugs and attempted to start it.

It turned once or twice without doing anything, then coughed. I took it off the starter motor for a second, and after being slightly more aggressive with the accelerator, it started instantly. There was one puff of black smoke as all the excess fuel (from winding it over) burnt off, and it ran clean after that. It sounded good, and idled smoothly.

That said, there are some things that need attention:

  • There is still a very slow coolant leak from the top of the engine, which I think is coming from either the crush washer under the heater outlet plug, or the other three fasteners holding down the water outlet.
  • There is a reasonably large oil leak coming from the top of the engine when it runs. I strongly suspect this is because the rocker cover is just sitting over the valves with no gasket and no fasteners. I want to replace the rocker bushes (and possibly shaft) before I get this gasket installed.
  • There’s a small engine oil drip coming from the sump plug, since I reused the crush washer knowing the first oil change would be very soon.
  • There are also slow leaks from the gearbox and petrol tank. The petrol tank isn’t surprising since I didn’t use any thread sealant on the drain plug (out of optimism), but I’m not sure where the gearbox leak is coming from.
  • I need to install a longer HT lead for cylinder #3, since it’s restricting how much I can rotate the distributor in order to tweak timing.
  • Finally, I’ll have to get the fan belt and generator installed before I let it run for more than about 30 seconds, since it’s not pumping coolant around.

That sounds like quite a list of stuff, but there’s nothing major, and a lot of stuff has to go right before it’ll run. As such, I’m very happy with the state of everything right now, and hopefully there will be a video posted over the next few weeks (once I’ve fixed everything listed above). I’d post a picture, but the whole setup looks identical to the picture I posted last week.