I can barely believe it, and I am certainly waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the Discovery rose from the dead last night.

Catching up

For those who haven’t meticiously followed my saga, the tl;dr is I found out my Land Rover Discovery had blown head gaskets. Faced with a potential $4300 shop bill, I opted to do the work myself even though I’d never done any wrenching quite this ambitious before.


Last night I reluctantly turned the key

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, mind you. After finishing off connecting the cooling system and ancillaries, the first thing I needed to do was a coolant pressure test.

I know I say this a lot.. but it did not go well.

The system wouldn’t charge past 0.2 bar. When the tester removed there was a loud hissing noise coming from the intake area.


Having unsuccessfully identified the leak using a stick of incense for a poor mans smoke test, I figured I needed access. This meant disconnecting the serpentine belt and removing the alternator... again.


Once exposed, I got lucky. The problem was one of the heater hoses that ties into the top of the block. after muscling it out, it was revealed there was a chunk missing out of the o-ring.

Not having a suitable match in my cache and it being just past 9PM, I ran to Home Depot and picked up some #13 faucet washers.


They fit perfectly.

No idea if they’ll hold up to coolant or engine temps, but that is a quest for another time.


That solved, I rechecked pressure and managed to get it up to the recommended 0.8 bar. The pressure didn’t hold, but the drop was gradual enough I called it a pass and moved on.


Time to start

After connecting the rest of the intake system, checking fluids, reconnecting the battery, and otherwise stalling, I put the key in and cranked.


I’d drained the fuel system and assumed this would give the starter enough time to build oil pressure before the thing actually started. In hindsight, that was only sort of true.

It cranked and cranked, and there were no terrifying noises to speak of.

Then it started... ish...

The whole car felt like it was running down a few cylinders, the power steering pump was making terrifying noises, and, most distressingly, the oil pressure light was on.


I shut it down.

Had I somehow mangled the oil pump? Was the sender bad? Was everything connected? Had I damaged the wiring loom?


First step was to try and build oil pressure in a more controlled environment. This meant pulling the fuel pump fuse and turning the engine over on the starter until the dumb light turns off. Pretty basic stuff.

I checked all the fluid levels, added oil (turns out the oil filer holds like a quart of oil so... now we know that), did a quick visual inspection again, and pulled the fuse for the fuel pump.


I turned the key again...

And it just started right up. Fat, dumb, and happy. No oil light. No misfires. No check engine light.


I... wait what? Apparently the residual fuel pressure was enough to keep the car running without the fuse. I... did not expect that.

I also didn’t expect it to not fight me on this one.

I puttered over and reinstalled the fuse and just stared at the engine in amazement.


Smoke started pouring off the engine as all the accumulated grease and PB blaster began to burn off the exhaust and the power steering pump still sounded unhappy, but overall we were in good shape.

I shut it down, went inside, and poured myself a large glass of wine.


Still to do

Honestly not a lot. Obviously the car needs to be run up to temperature and the cooling system checked. I need to start securing harnesses and hoses that have their own special brackets for that purpose, go a general clean, and finish installing cowling.


I also burned off a small hose near the transfer case breather... so I need to figure out what that was and how to repair it.

Then the hood needs reattached and I think it is time for a road test.

But still...

I seriously can’t believe it started and ran.

Still waiting for the other shoe...