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The Ford Capri Laser Page

The Engine Strip Down

The engine bay looked a lot better after I had scrubbed the waxoyl off with lots of detergent and engine gunk.  First thing was to remove the carburettor which is a Weber twin choke on my Capri.  This involved removing the air filter housing, disconnecting the throttle cable, the fuel lines (which were then sealed with small rubber bungs), the vacuum advance tube, the low vacuum enrichment (LOVE) tubes, and the water hoses connecting to the automatic choke (these were also sealed up).  I also disconnected and removed the battery and the HT leads.  The carburettor itself is bolted on to the inlet manifold with four nuts that are of varying difficulty to get access to.  After all these were undone it simply lifted out of the car.  The Weber sits on a spacer pad that has a gasket top and bottom (seen on the RHS in the photo).  You can still get these from Ford for about £5 or alternatively you can use the gaskets that come in the head gasket set.  I eventually pulled the carburettor to bits and used an overhaul kit which is described in the work section.

The cooling system was drained completely (the drain plug on the block was removed) and the coolant was discarded as I had decided to replace it.  The radiator was removed with all the hoses and surrounding plastic (although I actually did this after the head had come off).  To my horror I discovered the radiator had most of its cooling vanes missing at the bottom and those that remained had turned to dust.  So it looked like I needed a new radiator.  Out of interest I looked up how much it had cost me as I still had the receipt.  It was bought in December 1996 just after we got back from the USA and had cost me £43.  To my amazement the radiator had a lifetime guarantee!  So a few phone calls later (the original shop in Preston had closed three years previously) and they had agreed to replace it for me.  I sent them the old radiator and a week later a brand new replacement arrived.  All it cost me was £6 in postage.

I soon realised as I took more and more things off the car that I was going to forget what they were for, so I promptly bought a load of sample bags and labelled up each component as it came off.  The water hoses were also labelled at each end so I could work out where to reconnect them.  Don't underestimate how long your car will remain in bits and believe me you will forget which bolt goes where!

Next stage was to remove the rocker box and timing belt covers which on my car were missing quite a bit of paint.  So in the following weeks these were taken into work and shot-blast back to bare metal.  I then sprayed them with smooth Hammerite.  They both received four coats which had to be applied in under three hours otherwise the Hammerite starts to go off.  You can't repaint Hammerite for six weeks after it has begun to cure so plan your repainting carefully!

A good trick here is to block up the oil drain at the back of the head.  Just wedge some kitchen paper in it to stop yourself dropping any nuts or washers down it.  That really would be a nightmare!

Some people remove the head with the exhaust and inlet manifold intact, but it is heavy enough without them so I removed them first. I managed to unbolt the inlet manifold and remove it from the car without breaking any of the studs.  To assist in this they were soaked in WD40 the night before.  Before the inlet manifold would come out I had to disconnect the throttle bracket and tuck the cable out of the way.  Next was the pipe to the brake servo (for the vacuum assistance on the brakes) and the positive crankcase breather valve (PCV) pipe.  This valve came off the car by simply giving it a pull and twist.  The resulting hole was bunged up with kitchen paper.

The exhaust bolts also came off without problems but I had one stud that was broken from when I purchased the car.  To get a these bolts I had to first remove the heat deflector plate that is bolted onto the top of the manifold.  The exhaust manifold was allowed to drop down and rest on the side of the bulkhead.

The engine thermostat that screws into the side of the cylinder head has to be disconnected and the wire tucked away.  The thermostat itself stayed where it was for the time being.

Last but not least the timing belt was loosened by slackening off the tensioner pulley and pulled off the cam shaft sprocket.  There is no need to remove the belt to get the head off but I would recommend changing it if it has been on the car for a while.  Replacing the belt was sorted out later.  For the time being the belt was tucked away out of harms reach.

6-sided Torx

With all that done the cylinder head was free to be undone and removed.  The head is fixed with ten large head bolts.  Depending on the age of the car these can be either six-sided Torx or twelve-sided splined variety.  It is important to note that they have different tightening procedures and can not be mixed.  They are however interchangeable and if your head has the twelve-sided type can I suggest that you change to the six sided Torx type?  These are the modern 'stretch' bolts and should only be used once.  The way they are tightened means that it is not necessary to run the car in and then retighten afterwards.  The Torx bolts are the same type used in Sierra engines.

12-sided splined

To undo these head bolts requires the correct key that will fit in a socket.  It also requires a large torque wrench and a very strong person.  They are very very tight and you will be physically shaking when you have finished.  They tend to go with a sickening snap sound and you might fear the worst.  All I can say is that mine did come out in one piece.  With all the bolts undone and removed the head was lifted out of the car using the camshaft to hold it.  There weren't any problems here as unlike many heads which have studs you can knock the head sideways to break the seal.  Mine came off very easily although it is a lot heavier than you might think so watch your backs folks!  I wore a back brace as I already have a glass back.  

With the head on the bench it was time to take a first look at the state of the engine.  The old head gasket will probably just lift of the block and the mating surface will appear quite clean.  In my case all that was needed was a clean up with wire wool.  One thing to note that the middle two pistons rise and fall together as do the outer two.  Not always what people expect.  The bores of the cylinders will be nice shiny smooth metal.  There is usually a rim of tar at the top which should be left untouched as this improves the compression.

As before it is a good idea to block up the large water and oil holes to prevent any objects falling in (as can be seen in the photograph).  As the head ended up being off the car for a while I dosed the top of the block with WD40 to stop any rust forming.

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