Won’t start!

Well, after standing for many weeks I was able to sit the battery in the tray, there is now plenty of room!

I need to get a longer cable that goes from the positive battery terminal to the starter so that the battery can be positioned more neatly. The insulation on the existing cable is covered in nicks that I have temporarily covered using insulation tape. It wasn’t fixed down at any point, just left to trail over various sharp (and earthed!) chassis and body parts. A fire waiting to happen? This may explain the constant charging light on my first journey through huge puddles.

I had found many trailing wires emanating from behind the dash and had removed them, taping up any bare ends.

Diesel, a learning curve and a stroke of luck

On attempting to start, the engine spun round very well but just wouldn’t start. This is the first diesel engined vehicle I have owned, I know nothing about them so I was baffled as to where to start. Foolishly I assumed that being a diesel, I wouldn’t have to consider electrics, must be a fuel problem. I wondered if the fuel lift pump needed priming? I had spotted a hand-priming lever before so gave it a few pumps, still nothing. (Turns out there’s a lot more to this than I could imagine, more on that another day).

Stop Solenoid

Then, looking at the injection pump I noticed a wire…. what is that? Having a look online I identified it as connecting to the ‘diesel stop solenoid’, obvious when you know! This is normally closed, blocking fuel to the injector pump and should open while the ignition is on. This answered one of the questions in my head….(how to stop a diesel engine!) I somehow knew this was the problem and I quickly found that there was no power getting to it. In fact, there was no power getting to anything in the engine bay. Lights worked, no horn though, no wipers either. I checked the fuses, all OK.

Diesel Stop Solenoid
Diesel Stop Solenoid

I got my Haynes manual out, found the correct wiring diagram (albeit for a 2.25 petrol model) and started at the ignition switch. Using a mirror and a torch it looked to me as though the wire colours on the switch bore no relation to the diagram. There was no way I could get to the switch (the ignition has a steering lock so it’s buried deep amongst all the other wires). The only way I could access this properly was by removing the lower dash / heater duct panel. I REALLY didn’t want to do this at this stage as I remember my first series 3, it was a huge job repairing this hulk of rusty tin covered in foam rubber and vinyl. No option, off it came. It was just about as bad as I envisaged and now I have this big job to do that would otherwise have been on next year’s list of jobs.

Lower dash panel / heater duct removed
Lower dash panel / heater duct removed

As it dropped away (accidentally) it ran a big scratch on my freshly painted bulkhead, I will touch this up. Once it was out though it was easy to remove the ignition switch from the steering lock assembly (two tiny Philips grub screws).

According to the diagram the wires were on the wrong terminals, and one was missing altogether. I wondered if this had something to do with the way the glow plugs were wired in during the tdi conversion?

Ignition switch and adjacent wiring
Ignition switch and adjacent wiring

Glow plugs not connected!

A quick look revealed that the glow-plugs aren’t connected! Further research on this revealed that the 200tdi engine will start perfectly well without them as long as the temperature doesn’t dip below minus double figures. Of course, I will have to connect them at some stage, just in case…

I drew a picture of the existing arrangement and pulled the wires off, cleaned the spade terminals and checked the switch operation with my multimeter, perfect.

Testing the removed ignition switch
Testing the removed ignition switch

I went back to the cab and spent over an hour tracing cables, writing down everything I observed. It turns out that some previous owner had fitted a radio by removing that wire and replacing it with a piece of mains flex. The solenoid connection here actually uses the wire from the redundant HT coil from its days as a petrol engine, the feed for this had been tagged on to the radio wire, hence the wrong colours. With the other wires connected to the wrong switch terminals I can’t even begin to think how the switch worked at all, I imagine it was wired on a trial and error basis.

I wired it as per the diagram and turned the switch with a screwdriver. YES! The engine started at the first turn. I have diagnosed and rectified my first diesel engine fault.

Many electrical problems

In completing this repair, I have got into a whole new project, rebuilding that lower dash panel.

There are a few items that don’t work now (hazards and rear fog lights) – this should be cured by a couple hours reconnecting wires as in the diagram.

Also, I have learned the true state of the wiring on the vehicle. I think there have been three different radios, each with its own wiring, left in place and just cut off at the ends. There are numerous thin, unprotected, unrestrained wires dangling in the engine bay, perilously close to moving or hot parts. A bundle of them are being grazed by the steering linkage, more dangle by the exhaust manifold, and others sit invitingly close to the fan belt.

I note that the Kenlowe cooling fan is running permanently, hopefully another easy fix.

Not just in the engine bay:

I had wondered why there was a mains socket here, the 1.5mm twin and earth went to a huge coil of cable in the engine compartment! This was just the tip of the iceberg.

13A Mains Socket, rear bulkhead
13A Mains Socket, rear bulkhead

Normal wear and tear (for a Land Rover):

I found this was causing the rear lights to fail intermittently, the earth terminal had caused galvanic corrosion to the aluminium and had come away completely, this was easily fixed and is more what you’d expect to find in a vehicle of this age.

Corroded earth terminal, rear lights
Corroded earth terminal, rear lights

I replaced all of the connectors shown in the photo above and had a general tidy up. I had purchased a Draper ratchet-crimping tool and I am very pleased it. Those cheap pliers-style tools provide very hit and miss connections, the ratchet tool seems to get it right every time. As I will be reconfiguring the rear lights (adding a reversing light and Defender fog lights) it is a temporary job, yet to be photographed.

Summary, bodged wiring

It’s up to each owner of a vehicle (and there have been 12 before me) what he or she does with it, they are adapted to the individual’s needs, one of the many reasons we love old Landies so much. I am sure that things I do will be criticised by future owners and readers of this blog so I won’t be moaning too much!

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