Astra mk3 Arctic 3.0 V6 + F28 with Quaife

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I thought I'd share a little project I've been working on for a few years as it's now finally on the road. The diary is copied from another club I'm a member of. I hope you all enjoy the read and pictures.
 
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Thought it was about time I started a build diary on this as I’ve been planning it for the last three years while I’ve been building my GTE. The car in question belongs to my better half Amanda who has owned it for the last 9 years. It’s a 1.6 8v Astra mk3 Arctic, with the Arctic meaning it has aircon as standard. The bodywork needs a little tidy up here and there but it is solid with no rust. It’s got just over 50K on the clock and it’s been dry stored for the last three years. It has always felt under powered so the idea of a 3.0 V6 conversion popped into my head some years ago and now things have started to happen. I have 99% of parts required for the conversion so there is no excuse with only time being my limiting factor.

How the Astra looked back in Feb '08, it's being dry stored so hopefully still looks the same. When the body work gets tidied I have some brand new Irmscher side skirts and Irmscher rear top boot spoiler to go on, thank LMF ;)

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I removed the puny lump back in Feb this year but haven't had the time to do anymore with the car since then due to other projects getting in my way.

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The donor 3.0 was from a late spec ex-police Omega saloon, I managed to sell the shell less engine on so it cost next to nothing.

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A few extras I’ve got for the project include BTB stainless down pipes with 2” primaries leading into 2.5” main system. I'll be getting a local company to make a custom 2.5 " with 200 cell sports cat and twin box system.

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F28 mechanical drive with ATB, still waiting to be checked over with my gearbox man. He's only had it 8 months so I better chase him and make sure he's not dead. I also had this blasted as the paint on it looked terrible.

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When I pull my finger out my **** and get some time I'll get some more progress pictures up. In the mean time I'll crack on with the GTE engine rebuild and SRi repair/restore.
 
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Got a VX220 steering wheel about two years ago and it's been sitting in the boot of the Arctic ever since but I needed the other week to steer a car I stripped. As it's still here in the spare room I thought I'd get a pic. Plan is to get it recovered in leather and suede.

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Some of the front end rebuild parts I've got to fit.

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Old pic of the 3.0 coming out the Omega in March '08 this year, managed it on my own and it wasn't that bad to be honest.

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I wonder how many crime scenes this has been too

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Loaded and ready to be dropped at the lockup, it's sitting next to the mk3 now waiting to be cleaned and fitted.

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As it’s been an age since I have done anything with the mk3 I thought I better make a start on things this year. We lost the garage the car was stored in the other year so it’s found a new home sitting on our drive under a cover.

I found some as new Eibach springs and Koni adjustables a couple of years ago so they will being going once the engine is sorted.

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As I’ll be using the Vectra B intake I found a chap over on MIG who did 70mm TB’s so I purchased one last year. It has the coolant feeds already blanked and filled with liquid metal of some kind. This is because the wall of the TB is less then 1mm think at the water channel and can in some cases rupture and cause coolant to be sucked into the intake, which wouldn’t be good.

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After the X30XE was removed from the Omega it was moved to the garage where the car was stored, then moved into my old shed, then into the living room when my shed was replaced and the living room was being sorted and finally to its new home here…

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Then in November last year all the ancillaries and heads off and left it until last weekend.

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Last weekend I began the clean and final strip down.

Cleaning the piston crown with my old favourite Mr Muscle

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The important stamp on the block

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I then removed the f***ing tight crank bolt and oil pump so I could check it over and clean it.

Oil pump removed and gears stripped for cleaning

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I was advised I needed to check the 3mm hole that feeds the oil pressure relief valve was not blocked as it can cause over pressurising of the engine and leaks if gunked up. I was fortunate the oil pump was very clean inside, a sign the engine has been looked after in its previous life in the police Omega.

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Gears refitted and oiled up ready for the cover plate to be refitted.

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That’s the oil pump now checked over and reassembled.

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I intended just checking over the mains and leaving the big ends alone but I was that far in I might as well strip the lot and replace. Better to be safe than sorry.

Piston no.1 removed.

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Crank journal looks spot on.

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The rest of the pistons removed. The shells look OK but I’m going to replace them all anyway as they aren’t very expensive from a local ACL bearing supplier.

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I them removed the main bearing bridge/brace and the caps. The rear cap was a pain in the rear to remove but with a bit of persuasion it eventually came off. Then the crank was removed to checking over

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All journals are fine with no scoring or pitting.

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Next job it to order .25 over size mains and STD big ends, all gasket kits, head bolts, rod bolts, crank bolt and fine someone to polish the heads and check them over as I prefer to have this done professionally then mess them up myself.


 
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Dug the heads out last week and dropped them off at Cylinder Head Developments together with the intake for a fettle and check over. Not having anything wild done just smoothing all casting marks on the intake, exhaust, valve throats and having all valves lapped.

The before pictures

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Brand new genuine valve stem oil seals.

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Exhaust and inlet prior to being ‘worked’.

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Intake system ready for ‘inside’ work. Left the enlarged 70m throttle body attached so this can be matched to the top center plenum. Only 3 nuts to remove it and then Andy at CHD can go mad with his tools.

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Also took the X30XE lower bridge so the heads and intake can be matched.

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Lifters all cleaned and oiled

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Last but not least the tubular manifold and equal length down pipes. They need a good clean, paint and wrap but this won’t be done until the rest of the system has been made as the down pipes may need to be remade as they were off a Vectra B and obviously going on an Astra mk3.

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Collected the heads and intake from Andy at Cylinder Head Developments on Thursday and I’ve chuffed with the work. The white stuff on the valve guides is engine build grease which will burn off at initial start up and not grinding paste.

Very light skim and all valves checked and lapped with new stem seals fitted and heads checked over.

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Intake

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Exhaust

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Plenum knife edged, plus opened up to match the 70mm throttle body and all intake smoothed as far as could be reached. Just need to get them hot washed for a thorough internal clean.

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Also got hold of a Calibra Turbo 2.75 ration PAS rack so that’ll also be fitted to sharpen the steering up.

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Popped to a local engine refurb company the other week and left the intake system with them for an overnight hot acid bath. This has cleaned the insides of all the black oily gunk and metal flakes from the smoothing work done by CHD. It’s also stripped all the old paint from the outside so they are ready for a freshen up when the car goes in later this year for some paint.

Exterior paint stripped

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Interior nice and clean

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Finally worked out what size mains I require so all I need to do now is get the bearings and gaskets ordered for the rebuild then jobs a good’un.

 
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Collected the 0.25mm oversize mains last week and just waiting for a larger parcel to arrive with all the gaskets, seals, rod bolts etc so I can begin the rebuild.

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I’d read and seen pictures of the hydraulic tappets stripped so I thought I’d give it a go. Took some doing but got there in the end. I had already soaked them in petrol for 24 hours then filled them with fresh oil before I realised I better strip them properly. Tonight I got a couple of bits of wood and a large hammer, placed a tappet face up as they are in the head before holding another piece of wood on top and hitting it very hard a number of times and eventually the plunger popped out. I then left them soaking in a bath of petrol as I intend on cleaning them before soaking them in oil and reassembling.

Took some work separating 24 tappets.

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The ikle hydraulic part that gets gunked up and ‘sticks’ inside the tappet.

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I also cleaned up the oil rings, lower ring, on all 6 pistons the other day as they were really gunked up and can cause issues if left. I can’t believe I managed to remove all the rings by hand and didn’t break them.

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All that’s left now is to start reassembling everything so I better get my finger out if I want the car on the road by the end of the year as my projects seem to take forever.
 
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After leaving the stripped tappets for a few days I drained all the petrol and left them for a few more days so all fuel had evaporated. I was then left with 24 tappets to reassemble.

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I filled each tappet with oil and dropped the small part of the plunger into the tappet.

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Then the spring was put in place.

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Before the plunger went in I oiled it on the inside and outside.

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I then sat the tappet in a tub and placed the plunger in place before pressed firmly with my thumb.

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When fitted you can hear a click as the circlip locates into position in the tappet. You also get a squirt of oil from the hole on the side of the tappet, the reason why I placed it in a tub. I then oiled the underside of the tappet after assembly to help protect them prior to install once I get the engine built.

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I was going to get the crank fitted but decided I’m going to buy some assembly lube instead of using engine oil as I don’t want the new mains drying out and burning on initial start up. Crank timing ring fitted.

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We’ve had a recent spend on the mk3 as I spotted an uber rare full leather 5 door interior including door cards. These came as standard in the South African 200ts and were an optional extra on the UK spec CDX plus a few other models. I’ve not yet found out how much the ‘optional extra’ was but my guess is it was a silly price as you just don’t see them in mk3’s. They are out of a low mileage vehicle with very little wear on the fronts and as new rears and door cards. With a little tlc the fronts will be as new, going for a quote tomorrow.

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Repair work required

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Finally got the 6 speed F28 for the mk3 back on Monday, it’s a long story but took nearly four years so it’s a good job my projects take forever. It’s been completely stripped, all bearings replaced, 1st to 6th baulk rings (syncros) checked and found to be perfectly fine (yippee), reverse baulk rings replaced, insides have been thoroughly cleaned, 2wd conversion refitted, diff bearings correctly shimmed and loaded. Quaife diff checked and fitted with black ring speedo drive.

I bought a known good donor last year for £30 which has been used for some parts. The 1st to 6th baulk rings in the donor were also checked and found to be good. I also had a spare known good F28 that needs a 2wd conversion, got one somewhere in my shed. It was too good a price to say no at the time and is an early mechanical speedo drive version so I know I’ll make my money back if I ever sell it.

F28’s everywhere!
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Refurbed box with Quaife.
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Slight damage to the donor, oops.
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Standard open diff viewed through the driveshaft opening.
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Quaife diff with 2wd conversion, happy days.
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Proper ID plate fitted.
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Black speedo ring on diff, if you squint you can see it.
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Speedo drive used with black ring on left with 13 teeth and F28 blue ring drive on right with 15 teeth.
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Correct speedo drive now fitted and box safely wrapped up and stored away until it’s required.
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Todays efforts, finally the engine rebuild begins.

Top shells for the mains going in.

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Raspberry juice, smells nice but my god it’s so sticky.

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Crank in and torqued down.

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Oil pump fitted.

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Pistons going in.

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All done and big ends torqued.

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Wedge for crank so I could do up the bolt silly tight. Ended up using a very long bar to add the final angle.

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Last night jobs were to dig through my storage shelves to find the oil cooler blank and get it fitted. I’ll be fitting a remote oil cooler similar to the C20XE setup.

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I also dug out the heads ready to fit the new exhaust studs before getting them bolted onto the block.

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Todays mission was to fit the exhaust studs and get the heads on. So I started by cleaning the block faces and placing on the head gaskets.

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Left head torqued down.

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Heads sorted, looking a bit more like a V6 now.

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Next up was to fit the refurbed hydraulic tappets.

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I then dug out these.

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Piper re-profiled high torque 3.0 V6 cams.

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Cam caps ready for fitting.

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Cams being fitted.

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All done.

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I thought I better bring this diary up to date as I’ve done a few bits and pieces since last year

I made a mistake with the cam caps so had to swap them round but all good now.
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Cool running thermostat fitted.
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Breather box, coolant bridge and hose fitting on.
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Lower intake bridge fitted.
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All timed up.
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Vectra sump cleaned and gasket fitted. The later sumps don’t have the rubber gasket and are fitted with just sealant but I prefer the early version.
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Baffle and pickup ready for action. Note the studs which help align the sump when fitting.
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Modded Omega timing gear cover so I can utilise the Vectra torque rod.
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PAS pump lower pressure return needed tweaking.
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Ancillary’s fitted and auxiliary belt done
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Engine lift/intake mount, dip stick tube and coolant pipe in place.
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23mm spacer kit on due to V6 block being a little narrower than the four pots.
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Popped to VBOA spares day earlier this year and got a few bit s and pieces.

3.2 alternator as I wasn’t happy with the 2.5 that I had.
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Spare intakes for initial road testing.
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Being cleaned.
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Later 2.6 breather mod
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Yet more injectors.
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