Blue Cipher Refresh

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Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:21 pm

So at the prompting of a few folk, its time to document the progress on the refresh that is currently going on with the Blue Cipher.
I should warn folk that it'll be updated irregularly in fits and starts as the spare time of Dad and helper no. 1 is limited.
I had planned to have this all done by the end of the month - but reality has intervened, and frankly I'll be happy if its done before the end of the summer !!

So to start the story - after running around with a little 850 Engine putting out over 60BHP for 18 months, driving around NOT being a trailer queen - and even doing the daily commute whilst one of the family cars was down, the ciphers developed a bad cough and it was sent to rest in the garage whilst we worked out the problem. A family illness and death intervened and frankly not much got done... So with things getting back to normality, it was time to haul the Cipher out of storage and to the new house for a lot of mechanical TLC.

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The cipher met its new stable mate for a few days before disappearing into the garage....
Whilst the cipher had been away, a new set of 13" wheels had arrived - to allow for the disk brake upgrade that will go on the cipher (see Dave's Green Cipher Thread for the idea).

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Now the 13" wheels work fine on the front - just a simply add new wheel studs and a 10mm spacer. But the back axle is a different story - it requires 15mm spacing to clear the rear springs. For the cipher that could mean using 2 spacers together (5+10mm) or get a custom spacer made. But with the thickness of the alloy wheel that would need wheel studs longer than the 55mm ones used at the front (standard are 35mm) - probably 65mm. This got me thinking there must be a better way to do the whole thing (dangerous thought :roll:)

So one thing that could be done is to use a Reliant Fox drum and 10mm Spacers, Fox drums are not only sturdier than the kitten drum, but also have a 5mm spacer built in (see photo below) - so change the studs to 55mm add a 10mm mini wheel spacer and Bing ! your done.

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But then after thinking about the Fox drum - I realised that if I swapped the kitten van axle (which Ciphers use) for a Fox Axle - as the axle is 3/8ths of a Inch wider in the right directions than the kitten one, I could do away with the spacers all together - a proper engineered solution - and probably one reliant itself would have followed if it had built the cipher. Now Fox axles are rare and not only that, they have a gear ratio of 1:4 (rather than the 1:3.5 Kitten Van) - fortunately I had a Fox axle to hand and with a little help from Keith suitable new internals were fitted to give a gear ratio of 1:3.23 (standard Kitten). Upping the ratio whilst reducing the Ciphers acceleration a little will fortunately make it cruise at motorway speed a lot better, give a higher top speed and all at revs that wont make my ears bleed any more !

So the old axle was dropped and the nicely cleaned upgraded Fox axle presented to it.

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But just before I fitted it I realised it was the ideal opportunity to repaint/reproof the back chassis - there wasn't any rust, but the paint was looking tired and access was now fantastic - too good to miss ! This delayed things by a couple of weeks as painting the chassis and work got in the way of progress - but by the end of it we had a beautifully painted back of the chassis to match the axle ! The front of the chassis will be done when we get the engine out later.....

So on with the braided Kitten brake hose....

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add a new pair of adjustable rear shocks

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add new wheel studs, put it all together and attach it back to the cipher....

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and finally add the back wheels - I should add that this thread does make it look very quick - actually this process took over 2 weeks of grabbing a few minutes here and there :lol:

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I then checked the back wheels clearance from the springs - which were a healthly 8mm per side - which is what Dave (see Green Cipher thread) has achieved with spacers - so all good and on the money. Additionally the wheels are well within the arches - which is a good thing - I won't bore you all with the carefully prepared vertical photo which just shows the body work and my feet that I took to check it though !!

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So all done and back on the ground with an upgraded and refurbed rear axle - and no spacers on the back - even with 13" wheels - a big success although it took some time !
Whats next ? - well there is a refurb. prop shaft to match the axle to go on - and of course and engine and gearbox to remove and sort before we can head off for the MOT.

One thing this whole process has taught us is how tight our spare time is - and in the whole triangle of power/reliability/time (money not considered here !) to be considered for the future. The current 60BHP engine is going to be left out and rebuilt slowly and carefully as time allows - its not going to be rushed just to get it back in for the MOT. So that leaves getting things running again in time for the summer - and probably installing the low mileage yellow top 850 we have around - it won't be big power - but the engine is a very good, study reliable engine with lots and lots of torque - better probably to have in for now with the new higher ratio back axle. Hopefully it should be in the car for a lot longer than 18 Months and should do some serious mileage - If I'm luck it'll be in the car long enough for my eldest to grow up and be old enough to do the swap back to the big power engine on her own !!

So that's all for now folks - I'll keep you posted as and when time and progress allow - hopefully the next couple of steps won't take more than a few months !! :D


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Barrie James » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:00 pm

Really well thought-out job that, I'm impressed.

It must make it much easier having a garage where you can leave it and come back to complete the work. I've just realised that I've been working on old cars for 60 years now, and have yet to have my own garage. Though I did rent a lock-up a few years ago while I was doing work on the SE6a I had at the time. My current SE6a and the SS1 are outside all the time, so I have to cover them when a job is on-going.


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by DARK STAR » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:09 pm

Great thread, good work, keep it going!


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Oldconn » Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:49 pm

I do like the looks of the Cipher - how many were made?


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:13 pm

Oldconn wrote:I do like the looks of the Cipher - how many were made?
Not enough given the demand that's out there :) - there were 7 made with Reliant mechanicals (5 fully built up, 2 kits - one almost finished), however
Tony Stevens is currently looking to build a new modern version of the Cipher - more info is here http://www.stevens-cipher.com/index.html


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1980 Cipher - What the SS1 dreams of looking like...

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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Mikelima48 » Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:50 pm

Hi Marmaduke
Whilst admiring your lovely Cipher, I couldn't help noticing the splendid blue SS1 parked alongside it. Having checked the register, we don't appear to have it recorded. May I ask, would you PM me with the chassis, engine numbers and the date of its first registration, please? If you've got some images it would be good to have them too.
Many thanks
Mike



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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by philhoward » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:06 pm

I'm surprised it's not on the register, Mike? Rebuilt from a 1600 to a 1300 by Jim King, documented and sold through this forum.


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:26 pm

philhoward wrote:I'm surprised it's not on the register, Mike ?
I'd be surprised if it has no registry history too Phil - mind you I'm guilty of not letting mike know it's with me though (form is on my desk under a hundred probate documents waiting for me to fill it in !)


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by scimjim » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:28 pm

PM sent - typo on database.


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by DJC777 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:51 pm

Simon.........I've just noticed your signature - Just brilliant :lol: :lol: :lol:
1985 SS1 - What the Cipher dreams of driving like...
1980 Cipher - What the SS1 dreams of looking like...


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Wed Apr 27, 2016 8:23 pm

DJC777 wrote:Simon.........I've just noticed your signature - Just brilliant :lol: :lol: :lol:
Glad you like it Dave :D - although I can't take all the credit as Jim did suggest the final version !

Just spoken to Paul, who's going to be in touch shortly, looks like there will be a gathering of Cipher owners this weekend at Stoneleigh 8) - looks like I'll be buying the bacon butties as penance for not finishing the Blue Cipher yet !


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Wed Apr 27, 2016 8:47 pm

Ok - so a quick update - as there has been progress, but not in getting the engine and gearbox in.....

So I was examining the engine bay, eying up the whole "pull the engine out, drop the new one in scenario" when I noticed the brake master cylinder is looking worse for wear. It seems the years of brake fluid has created a whole load of cracks in the plastic - and its really fragile. After looking at the whole thing after completing the task its apparent that the brake master cylinder is original - over 36 years old - so I can't really complain.

So I stuck some liquid plastic on the top of the cracked bits to stop them from fully fracturing and spilling brake fluid everywhere !

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After getting the top bolt off, the bottom one turned into a nightmare due to the VERY restricted clearance underneath the cylinder - tiny part turns only. Even with little helpers (having people with small hands helps :) ), getting the bottom bolt off took an age. Once done, I realized I needed to remove the pin that attaches the cylinder to the pedal. Only problem is - after drilling out all the rivets associated with the panel that covers this area, I discover some wise person had stuck this down with very strong adhesive as well - just to be sure it didn't move !!! Given the prospect of completely knackering the panel - I went for the option reliant went for on the Kitten - have a big hole and then plug it with a cover !

So with some trepidation I got out the drill and padsaw and cut a nice little hole in the pannel - fortunately perfectly positioned !

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Off with the pin and pulled out the cylinder - at an angle as it won't pull straight out !

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Fortunately I have a spare late Kitten/Early Fox dual circuit master cylinder - so I dropped this in as a replacement - a perfect fit and everything lined up !
I took the opportunity to replace the bottom securing bolt with one with a Allan Key head - this means it is much easier to do up and tighten - it works perfectly with the limited access. So pin in, replace all the pop rivets, I removed earlier, cleaned up and painted the whole area - nearly there.....

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I then made up a little square cover out of fibreglass - painted it black and then pop riveted it in - it looks good, and should I ever need access again, it'll be a simple matter of removing the rivets and popping off the panel.

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So all good now - and all the little updates I did whilst doing this should make changing a master cylinder a lot easier - hopefully in another 30 year time :shock:

As I'm now under strict instructions from my helpers NOT to descend into a full resto, hopefully next time I post I should have made some progress on the engine and gearbox....... :lol:


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1980 Cipher - What the SS1 dreams of looking like...

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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by Marmaduke » Sat May 14, 2016 11:44 am

So Progress has been made (a lot of it this morning) and this post is going to be a long one !...... Apologies in advance for the low res of some of the photos - I'm afraid I only had time to use the phones camera throughout this one.

Last week we started to make some progress with an eye to whipping out the engine. The first job with no.1 helper was to remove the bonnet and wrap it carefully and store it safely. The bonnet is a big unwieldy piece of kit and I certainly wouldn't want to do it on my own !!. So now things looked like:

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The next task is to remove the spare wheel (nice and easy) and then remove the large fibreglass panel which holds the radiator in - Obviously removing any pipes and wires first :lol:
Looking at the radiator, it seems ok, although the flow through it is a little sluggish - I suspect it needs a good cleanout.

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Which leaves an engine bay ready for engine removal..... At this point we stopped and I planned ahead for this morning.

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So this morning at an unearthly 7am, got up for engine removal - all the little helpers decided to stay in bed and even the cat thought it was a stupid time to be fed and stayed in bed too !!! Opened up the garage, located the tools and its away we go. First task is disconnect everything at the rear. Fortunately the cipher has a nice little access panel in the drivers footwell - clutch cable, speedo cable, gearstick, and rear engine mounts are all easily accessible. The prop shaft bolts can also be accessed as well - although these were the most difficult things to remove as one of them decided to be stubborn for 10 minutes - before suddenly loosening off for no reason ! - Checked the bolt and its fine, so I can only assume that some gunk was stuck in there for a while :roll:

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Unlike most other Reliant 850's there is so much space in the bay that you can lift the engine out with all the ancillaries. However as I had a 4 branch exhaust manifold on, the length of this prevents the lift - so the inlet and exhaust manifold have to come off before the lift. With the sun streaming down (literally - see photo !), it was then that I remembered that I have to remove the battery out as well to access the carb bolts - doh ! - once that was done the Weber ICH came off easily :D

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After taking off the inlet manifold first, it was on to the exhaust manifold - amazingly although tight the bolts weren't a pig to remove and no studs came out - which is a first for me !, I had been expecting much more pain and effort to get them off the studs. I tried to take the exhaust manifold out - no joy - it was then I remembered that last time I had to seriously slacken off the alternator to get it in (my memory isn't what it was :lol: ) - one done it was an easy out.

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On examination the manifold was horribly rusty - worse on the inside than the photo shows - and had corroded a hole at the top of the 4 branch join. The has decided the matter of the exhaust manifold for us - we were thinking of reusing this - with the obvious maintenance difficulties and the slightly lower hanging exhaust. However this changes things and a late pattern (better flowing ports) 850 exhaust manifold will be used and the front section of a kitten exhaust I have spare, mated up to the existing system. This will have the benefit of raising the exhaust about 2cm up - which may be enough to save it from speed bump scrapes

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So, with everything disconnected, its on with the straps and on with the lift !

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All went smoothly, and out came the offending engine. A quick examination showed the oil seal at the front isn't in great shape and some oil in the exhaust port of No.1 suggests piston ring trouble is at least one cause of its problems. This engine will be fixed one day and the engine reunited with the cipher at a later date - of course all this depends on when I get the time, so it won't be happening for several years !!! - just as well I'm replacing it with the spare engine :wink:

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So with the engine out, and my mornings work done, the engine bay is now empty. Next task will be cleaning the engine bay, repainting it and putting some heat shielding in the passengers foot well - although that is all for another time.....

Image


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by DARK STAR » Sat May 14, 2016 12:55 pm

Serious progress, congratulations!


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Re: Blue Cipher Refresh

Post by scimjim » Sat May 14, 2016 9:16 pm

I think I still have your original engine in the workshop?


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Current: SE5 (8Ball), TI SS1 (snotty), 1600 SS1 (G97), 1600 SS1 (C686CCR), 2.5TD SE5a (diesel 5a), 6 x random other SS1s.
Previous: SE5, 3 x SE5a, 2 x SE6a, 3 x SE6b, GTC, 2.9i GTC, 3 x 1600 SS1, 1300 SS1, Mk1 Ti Sabre, Mk1.5 CVH Sabre
Chief mechanic for: 1400 K series SS1 (Megan3), 1400 CVH EFi SS1 (Grawpy), Sabre/MX5 auto (The Flying Broomstick),
1300 SS1 (Number One) & Sarah's coupe.
CURE THE FAULT - NOT THE SYMPTOMS

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