Next morning I filled up the header tank and waited for some drips to appear, but without starting the engine didn't think I'd be able to see the source. WRONG!
My mate squeezed the lower rad hose and with every "pump", geysers of water sprayed out - not from the B__D hose, but from the rear end of the water rail. Looked like the gasket had failed.
Now we all know there are some very inaccessible placed on these cars, this however, takes the cake for inaccessibility. Even after removing all the manifold bolts and moving the intake back, we still had to raise and lower the car about four or five times to access the four bolts. And they were tight.
Now comes the nightmare within the nightmare ..the front lower bolt snapped. Three came out, but #4, she's still stuck in engine.
When the rail and hose were removed, we found just a few traces of degraded silicone and ZERO gaskets between the head and the rail. No doubt the PO must have had some head or intake work done and of course sometimes
the water rail gaskets don't come with a top end gasket rebuild kit .... so the mechanic
didn't use any, just goop.
Pretty amazing that it lasted this long - I've owned her since 2012 and put 50,000km on in the meantime.
So, faced with the snapped and frozen water rail bolt (couldn't remove it, tried for five hours) the only option was to REMOVE the entire intake, throttle body, fuel rails and everything else on the left side of the engine to get access to the bolt with whatever method we're going to use to remove it.
That's what I did last night, before getting a ride to the car rental place and driving back home.
The bolts got frozen for one simple reason. With no gaskets on the rail, even though the perimeter sealed, internally coolant was able to seep onto the bolt and rust the bolt solid.
When we do finally remove the rusted bolt, looks like the aluminum threads are going to be stripped so we're going to have to fit helicoils.
Not the best birthday surprise for an aging XJ40 driver, eh?
Will update in a few days.