Tata Indica engine install thread





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  1. #1
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    Default Tata Indica engine install thread

    I recently bought a 2005 Indica from a friend. One owner, lady driver, 150k km. But it had a blown head gasket.

    I thought it would be an easy fix. Even if the head was cracked, I was willing to replace it.

    What I didn't bargain on, is what 2 years of standing would do to the bores. I pulled the head to find cylinders full of rusty water.

    The right thing to do at this point would have been to run away.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    I can be a bit stubborn at times. I decided to push through. I sourced a second hand engine from a recently smashed Tata. (It must have been running in order to get into an accident, right?).

    I commissioned a guy to pull the old one and install the new one. Then I took over by installing the ancillaries myself. Filled it with water and attempted to drive it from Pretoria to my parents' place in Midrand.

    From the beginning the engine had a misfire, which I put down to faulty plug leads. Bought new ones and continuing my journey. It kept using up the water and eventually wouldn't start. I got towed to Midrand.

    Now, I live near Tzaneen, so I've been driving through every weekend to work on this car

    After not getting it started, I began to get suspicious and pulled the valve cover. I hadn't checked the engine personally before buying it, but got a trusted person to do so. He clearly hadn't noticed the copious amounts of silicone all over. This engine had been at the mercy of a real kamikaze mechanic.

    One head bolt was snapped off in the block. Others were loose. Spring washers had been used. Gasket maker had been used on the head gasket. It was horrible.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    So I made the decision to do things properly. I had the original engine sent to the engineering works. They bored out the block. To my surprise, both cylinder heads checked out fine despite severe overheating. These engines are really tough! Good old-fashioned stuff with no fancy quirks at all.

    Meanwhile I spent time on getting the cooling system in shape. I've since found a source for an original pipe, but for now I made up a replacement using some miscellaneous pipes and bends.

    And put in a radio... Just to get morale up... She's actually quite nice-looking for a little runabout...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Yesterday I got the engine back from King's Engineering in Tzaneen. They were very accommodating and sourced all the parts. They assembled the head and the sub. The rest of the stuff I got back in a box. One little gripe is that they damaged the oil pump housing while prying it off the crankshaft. A bit too heavy use of the pry bar all round if you ask me. Same with the crank pulley.

    So I had to run around on a Saturday morning getting an oil pump. At least now I know it's brand new...so no harm done here.

    Today I installed the engine. Tomorrow I'll put the head on, and all ancillaries - then fire her up and hopefully that's the end of that!

    Lots of other stuff done meanwhile:
    - new engine mounts
    - new cooling hoses
    - new coil, leads, plugs
    - battery
    - CV boots on driver's side
    - brake pads (one lady driver, remember :-) )
    - gear knob

    Still to do
    - front tyres
    - windscreen
    - radiator fan

    Even though it's just a little hatchback, it's become quite a nice project car. Hopefully will be a reliable little runabout with its new engine. I can use it for short trips and stuff instead of my Landy. It's also going to be my ride until my Landy is sorted. It's a nice car to lend to my kids and stuff if necessary too.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Good on you.

    Hope all the effort pays off and you do end up with a reliable little run about for the next few years.

    Best of luck.
    Eric L
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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Interesting thread Ant, what's the availability of spares for the vehicle like, from what I've heard the OE spares from the Tata agents are very well priced?

    Unlike just about every other make of vehicle.

    And after all that work is the end cost for the vehicle in running order going to be a fair price?
    Last edited by Skylark; 2019/03/02 at 11:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    I haven't actually checked the agents. The only item I tried to buy there was the ignition coil and that was eye-watering.

    The good news is that most service parts seem to be readily available. Then we discovered Tatama Spares in Florida which seems to import replacements for everything: even got a gear knob for a couple of hundred.

    My cost is a little bit excessive, due to the fact that I'm driving 800km every weekend to work on her. And the almost 7.5k I lost on the dud engine and its installation. Without that, it would have been much more OK.

    But at least I do know the actual history of the car. I know where it slept almost every night for 15 years and that counts for something. And I've learnt a lot about it mechanically, which should pay off in the long term. But not a cheap exercise, and as a guy used to big, old cars I've realised that it's very difficult to get a good buy in the small car segment at the sort of prices I'm used to.

    I feel for those on this forum who want to buy their kids something small and economical and reliable. The initial outlay is much greater than for a bigger car.

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  10. #8
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Another thing I have to note. This little car seems to have a very robust engine. But corrosion is a killer. Heater pipes rusted away, as did all the water pipes. This despite running antifreeze. The cooling system pipes are simple and cheap to replace, though.

    When I examined the bores of the original engine, the one that didn't get any water was in perfect condition. Hone marks were still visible. So the block, and I think the head, seem to be bullet proof. If you can pick up a non-runner with a blown head gasket and ask to check the bores before purchase (remove head or use a scope) you could get a great bargain.

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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Well done Ant.

    people sneer at Tata, but I've had excellent service from my Xenon

    Solidly engineered, but as you say, some items seem to be skimped on when it comes to quality. (Where DO they source the plastic from?)

    Strange about the water pipes, a proper 50% antifreeze should stop that from happening. I think the previous owner topped up for MANY years and the coolant was eventually just clean tap water.
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  13. #10
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Nice read Ant, job well done, I see you have a clean old Merc in the garage there, keep us updated please
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  14. #11
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Quote Originally Posted by meh View Post
    Nice read Ant, job well done, I see you have a clean old Merc in the garage there, keep us updated please
    That's my dad's garage, and my dad's car. Good spotting. It's a 450 SL. He also has the SLC. And a W123 300D undergoing restoration (the guy has been busy for 10 years but expect to get it back soon!).

    I had a very neat W115 220 which I sold a couple of years back. As much as I loved it, my home setup is very different from my parents' and I just couldn't keep on seeing it deteriorate when it could be taken good care of by a proper collector. But I used that car daily for some years (as a classic!) and it was incredible.

  15. #12
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    It's been a hectic few days!

    I installed the head on Sunday morning, then put everything back together.

    One snag is that neither of my cylinder heads have any locating dowels, although there is place for it in the block. I'm not sure if they are missing (yet to the best of my knowledge my engine had never been opened). The result is a bit of a hit-and-miss operation to get everything lined up properly.

    Due to the new oil pump AND new oil filter, the engine took quite a bit of time to get some oil. It was a close one, with a lot of knocking at the beginning which I felt very uneasy about. But it settled in and ran well. Then came a tapping sound that made me remember my troubles with a reman Landy engine of note! (I later found out that it was a piston tapping on the combustion seal on the head gasket). Everything checked out fine, so I decided to just take it out on a drive. After getting it warmed up properly, I pushed the engine hard within different rev ranges for about 5 km. The tapping completely disappeared and it's never sounded better!

    Everything checked out nicely. After letting things cool a bit and doing another check, I decided to try and drive it home (400 km).

    This turned out to be a very bad decision. About 100 km out of the city, close to Bela Bela, she overheated. No warning. It was clear that there was water in the cylinders and a total loss of compression. I suspected that the head was cracked after all, despite being given the all clear by the engineering works.

    After being towed back, and getting about an hour of sleep, I was under the bonnet again. I was determined to get the head off and find out how much water was in the bores. I just wanted to sell the whole thing for scrap and get it out of my life.

    Thankfully, there was no damage in the bores, but two were filled with water and, even in about 6 hours, rust had started to set in. I mopped up the water and Q20'ed the hell out of it. I decided to get a new head gasket and give it a try to see how bad things were. That way, I can at least dispose of the car as a runner (declaring the fault and what I've been doing, obviously!).

    To my surprise, the car ran beautifully after the impromptu head gasket replacement. In addition, I discovered a couple of elusive leaks in pipes that didn't seal properly. It's just that the car has such a small coolant reserve (5 litres in total) so any tiny leak becomes a big issue. And there's no warning system.

    So I decided to keep it after all. Looking at the new engine and everything so nicely installed, I don't really want to give up all that work to someone else.

    Running around town, it now loses no water at all. But I'll leave it in Midrand for a while and drive it around in the school holidays before taking it back home with me on the long road.

    This car needs a coolant level sensor as an absolute priority. It will literally boil itself dry without any indication on the temperature gauge. The needle stays in the middle until the engine cuts out when the head gasket goes. This is exactly how the previous engine died (and many others, I think!).

    Now I know what the failure mode is, it make it easier. When I checked the head, I found the head bolts loose and water in the cylinders. So, if the car overheats, compression is lost and it will not restart due to failure of the head gasket. The head and block itself seem able to take some punishment. But it means that, should the car overheat, you have to open the engine immediately to clean out the water. This is what kills them all since your block now becomes eligible for boring out due to rusting in the cylinders. A coolant level sensor is a priority, and I wonder if I can connect it to the ignition somehow to cut out the vehicle automatically (thinking of other drivers who may use the car and drive it to destruction).

    In an emergency, you could probably retorque the head bolts, fill with water and continue your journey.

    That's where I am right now. Thankfully I didn't kill this engine due to prompt action.

  16. #13
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    What a read and i suppose it helps that you can DIY and learn in the process.
    Glad to hear that finally the motor seems to be running smooth with no fuss at all.

    I really love reading such post with so much details and it goes to show that you wanted to see this car through and get it running as it has some form of potential.

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  18. #14
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Unobeat View Post
    What a read and i suppose it helps that you can DIY and learn in the process.
    Glad to hear that finally the motor seems to be running smooth with no fuss at all.

    I really love reading such post with so much details and it goes to show that you wanted to see this car through and get it running as it has some form of potential.
    Thank you for the encouragement!

    I'm back in Limpopo and will go down to Gauteng again in a week or so to finish the project. Hopefully be able to drive it around, then down to KZN (Drakensberg) for a little camping trip to celebrate!

    Meanwhile I'm looking at wheel/tyre options (it has 165/65R13 and I'm going to go to 155/80R13 like trailer tyres for practicality with a little bit higher profile). And perhaps replacing the mags with a set of standard steel wheels.

    The advantage of this car is that the engine and things are really simple (no hydraulic lifters even), simple 8-valve engine. Yet it does have an ECU and closed-loop fuel injection so there's that added efficiency of properly controlled timing and fuelling.

    My hope is that it will be economical like a Golf or Tazz but not too high on the "wanted" list. We shall see...

  19. #15
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Kan jy n corsa of golf waterbottel in verbind? Hulle het n water level switch klaar ingebou.
    Vrywaring: Niks wat ek hier kwyt raak moet hoegenaamd as feite beskou word nie.

  20. #16
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Reenen View Post
    Kan jy n corsa of golf waterbottel in verbind? Hulle het n water level switch klaar ingebou.
    Golf version is pressurised so the Indica must also need a pressurised water reservoir for this to work.
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  22. #17
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Plum die golf bottel met n T in onderste radiator pyp, en n 8 mm bleed vanaf heater hose...
    Vrywaring: Niks wat ek hier kwyt raak moet hoegenaamd as feite beskou word nie.

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  24. #18
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    Golf version is pressurised so the Indica must also need a pressurised water reservoir for this to work.
    Yes, the Indica system is fully pressurised. I'm thinking of doing this mod, you guys beat me to it on this thread. Will be checking at Goldwagen for something compatible. Then a little light or alarm to the cockpit.

    Eventually I think I must do something with an Arduino to monitor all the vitals independently, sound an alarm and cut the motor. Cylinder head temp, water temp, water level, oil pressure. That should make a nice failsafe system especially when driven by someone else.

  25. #19
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Liewers n harde alarm, moet nooit ooit engine cut. Veronderstel jy is besig om n vragmotor verby te steek of moet skielik uit lewensgevaarlikke situasie ontsnap, en jou engine cut net skielik.
    Vrywaring: Niks wat ek hier kwyt raak moet hoegenaamd as feite beskou word nie.

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  27. #20
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    Default Re: Tata Indica engine install thread

    Sorry for the English, it's easier with predictive text.

    Reenen, I agree with you in principle. So what I actually need to do is give an early, loud warning when the monitored variables go outside of some set parameters. This should then give some time to make a decision.

    However, I still believe there's a time to just cut it out. A second set of parameters, when reached, should trigger a shutdown of the engine. A modern ECU would make this decision for you.

    The above would actually be way better and safer than either an unannounced cutout, or no system intervention at all. Since at the moment, the whole engine can blow up without a moment's notice and leave you in exactly such a dangerous situation.

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