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6 cyl Bristol cars Type 400 to 406 - restoration, repair, maintenance etc

rebuild costs

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Old 05-11-21, 12:11 AM
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Default rebuild costs

Hello everyone. This is my first post. In looking for a suitable purchase (ideally a 403) I have realised that one game changer is if the engine needs a lot of work.

I have always felt that this particular engine is virtually a work of art... but... what I would like to know is why it costs so much to rebuild?

A detailed response would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-11-21, 11:21 AM
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Default 403 up for virtual auction with engine, 405 without.

Anglia Car Auctions have a "bard find" 403 for sale at their virtual auction tomorrow (6th November) guide 5,000 to 10,000, also a 405 same condition with no engine and no reserve.
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Old 05-11-21, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Challacombe View Post
Anglia Car Auctions have a "bard find" 403 for sale at their virtual auction tomorrow (6th November) guide 5,000 to 10,000, also a 405 same condition with no engine and no reserve.
The 403 looks like a good project. I wish I had finished my present build (MG TC) so I could bid for it.
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Old 06-11-21, 02:12 AM
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Raymond,
Time was I would have stayed up all night, logged it to bid and tried to get the 403 if I get up in time I may still have a go but from what I can see in the photographs there could be some serious rot in the main chassis, without being able to view assume the worst, you could end up with a car fit only for spares and if you have the time to sell parts off worth far more than you may pay for it.
Why do the engines cost so much to repair? Start with the condition of the Cylinder head and Block, how much work to make serviceable? This could run from hundreds to thousands depending on what needs doing or do they need replacing, everything else follows there is no real mystery about these engines, they are not a work of art and in some ways they are flawed, they also have the added disadvantage or being rather old a bit like me.
An awful lot can be repaired and salvaged and that can be a very cost effective way to put or keep a car on the road, I know of one issue for example that if you are lucky can be solved for a few hundred pounds if that, if bad perhaps 1500/2000 but some owners scrap the component in question and spend 20 times that on a new part.
These engines do not respond well to sitting around for months on end and can be a source of continual grief but set up used and maintained on a regular basis can be a total joy, if you are contemplating a rebuild and can manage the process yourself there is no magic to it, it could still be expensive but a lot less than you might expect.
If you fancy a 401 with a Bristol Cars rebuilt engine which has done less than 100 miles since installation send me a private message.
Geoff
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Old 06-11-21, 11:19 AM
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Good morning Geoff. I guessed it might be you who would be gracious enough to give me some advice. As I posted earlier, I am still in the throws of a project which should have been finished by now!. The irony is that it is costing me a fortune which I could have better put into a decent 403.!!

As it happens, I have seen your advert for the 401 with the Holder engine and appreciate that a lot of the hard work has been done. Given a choice I think I would buy a 403 for the extra power but regardless of that, if and when I am in a position to buy a car your advice would be much appreciated.

What I do know about these cars is that they have an aluminium superleggera body on steel tubing. I understand that the hessian buffer can rot and allow galvanic corrosion to occur.

On the auction car I notice that the underside of a sill appears to have been peeled open; presumably to asses the condition of the tubing which I would assume will be pretty rotten. I know that Aluminium - especially old aluminium - is tricky to weld.(38 years ownership of a 1930 Austin Swallow attends to that!) The separate chassis may be impossible to repair without removing the body and if that was the case here I would have to pass on it.

I know the dry liner engine has a reputation for being expensive to repair. I found this link:

https://www.inracing.co.uk/wp-conten...-Catalogue.pdf
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Old 06-11-21, 01:26 PM
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Hi Raymond,
I think you might find this link interesting as it covers most of the structural problems you may encounter on a 401 or 403, not all and some can be a lot worse. There is one shot there of an area above the screen where the alloy has corroded and another where a small section of metal has been let in, this would have been as a result of the hessian rotting and the two metals being in contact, its not that common there are areas where you will find more problems.
Mike had to do most of these areas on my 401 plus one rear corner of the main chassis which is a common area for rot because of Bristol's practice of overlaying metal.
I would have had the 401 painted by now but for a twist of timing it was not quite ready to go to the painter, I let him have an old Range Rover LSE expecting to perhaps spend 10k on repairs and a repaint, like your project work and costs have spiralled and it is one of the reasons I decided to advertise some cars, space and time being another, I didn't especially want to sell LRU because it was being done to keep but if it is the one that goes so be it. Unless anyone fancies a Range Rover LSE with all the body frame, inner wings, rear floors sills etc rebuilt or replaced and a full back to metal respray, fingers crossed ready in the new year!
Would be happy to help when you are ready to take the plunge.
Geoff.


https://lightscarsaction.com/bristol...l-restoration/
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Old 06-11-21, 03:52 PM
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Thanks Geoff. I have bookmarked that link. A picture paints a thousand words.!

Sorry, but I won't be taking on another Range Rover. I have a 4.6 P38 as my daily driver. I run it on LPG (despite the warnings) and it is still nice but it's just one thing after another!

I used to have a 3 1/2 litre but it knew how to rust!
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Old 07-11-21, 12:25 AM
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Raymond - the easiest answer to your question about the cost of rebuilding a Bristol engine is economy of scale. It costs disproportionally more to produce small numbers of parts.

It is possible to rebuild a Bristol engine yourself on a budget. Parts such as pistons, bearing shells, cam followers, timing chain etc. are available from mass produced engines. These are not necessarily up to the original spec but would do good duty if the car isn't driven too hard. However, if you pay an engine builder they would not unreasonably expect to use the best parts to put together an engine they are proud to "own" as their work.

In some cases it may be possible to refresh an engine at modest cost but there is quite a lot of work involved in stripping the engine and assessing and testing all parts before starting a rebuild. This will have to be factored in to the rebuild price.
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Old 07-11-21, 01:25 AM
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Thank you for that David. It is useful to know that a time served fettler like me would be able to build a budget engine. I understand these had Brivadium (Brico alloy 30) dry liners; in which case they should be able to withstand very high mileages even if the pistons/rings need replacement. I presume (don't know for sure) if such a hard surface can even be rebored, or do new liners need to be pressed in? - and what about the problem of bedding in. I have seen some of these bores and they go smooth as glass !

I have read (somewhere in the distant past) that there is a tendency for the block to suffer from frost damage... but I don't know if they are any more susceptible than any other.?

I recently rebuilt a 1926 Dodge Brothers 3.5 litre side valve engine which had suffered from cracking across the valve seat. This was repaired by cast iron stitching. Very impressive. I repaired a frost crack in the water jacket with Belzona...any one here used either method?
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Old 07-11-21, 01:47 AM
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I need to qualify that there is a fair chance you could do a reasonably priced rebuild but you never know what you might find.
One of my engines had a broken rocker shaft, badly worn pistons and bores, pitted cam followers and a head that needed some welding. Some will advocate that all rocker shaft studs should be replaced with longer ones and the holes tapped full depth to reduce likelihood of the top of the castings breaking - which is what caused my rocker shaft to break.
Any significant corrosion on head studs and those affected should be replaced. Ensure all head nuts have good, thick, washers under them.
Another engine had a crack in one of the bearing caps. I was glad i had the block tested. I found a second hand replacement and had it line bored.
Another one had a crack in the water jacket where the oil /water heat exchanger ran on earlier engines. I had this stitched for a reasonable sum.
If your crank needs to be ground it will need re nitriding.

In short, you need to put in a few hours and get the parts thoroughly inspected before you know just how costly or not your rebuild will be.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-11-21, 10:07 AM
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Good morning David. I would be interested to know what you did about the worn bores in that engine.

NOT a Bristol... but I have found on more than one engine the previous owner had replaced the pistons with new STD but failed to attend to badly worn bores. I found it cheaper to install new liners and bore out to take the pistons. In the worst case the engine would start and tick over but lacked power. The guy had even tried to hide this by removing the clutch pedal and so prevent the car from being test driven!
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Old 07-11-21, 12:17 PM
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I went for bust on that engine and fitted new liners and Mahle pistons. By no means the cheapest option but I sorted it in the early eighties and it's still going strong now.

Oversize liners can be fitted with the Brivadium liners. Dependent upon the state of your head and how much it has been skimmed you will have to choose a suitable piston to correct compression ratio. One of the options discussed years ago was from MG TD but there must be a few options at 66MM. Slight variation in gudgeon pin diameter can be accommodated by fitting new small end bearings.
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Old 07-11-21, 12:54 PM
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David. I think new liners are the way to go. I don't have access to anything which will even look at Brivadium!

Regards the MG engine; I have recently done an XPAG engine with liners + 0.060". The (idiot) p.o. on that one had been running it without even changing the original pre1960 oil filter. The consequences were all too inevitable...

Last edited by Raymond; 07-11-21 at 01:00 PM.
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