I originally wrote this for a club forum back in 2010, it logs the upgrade process of taking my standard VVC K series to a monster supercharged VVC K series.
A K-Series is reborn – Part 1
Since about October 2010 I’ve been working on a little project for my Lotus Elise, the project finally came to a close in November 2011. This is a little account of the project including some of the fun/challenges and experiences I had along the way.
The Start of it all
They say boredom is a very dangerous thing, add owning a Lotus to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Ok in my case no so much a disaster but a stupid thought, following by another stupid idea and finally one more.
So the story begins with an innocent post on our Lotus forum of a Rover VVC engine for sale on PistonHeads, the same that is fitted to the series 1 Elise. At the time it was up for £350. Cheap I thought but I resisted the temptation to purchase. One reason being I didn’t really need another engine as when I bought my current Elise 111S it already had a Dave Andrews K06a kit fitted and ran like a dream….but the little voice in the back of my head was saying that it would be good to have a “spare”.
After forgetting about the advert on PistonHeads for a good 24 hours I foolishly checked again….it was down to £250….queue “will power” flying out of the window at a great rate of knots and fast forward to me travelling home with a VVC K series in the boot of my car.
So that was stupid thought number one, after a couple of days of having a spare engine sat in the shed foolish thought two started to form, which was building a nice reliable (in K series terms) 200bhp engine, similar spec to the one I used to have in my old Sport160. Well I thought about it and thought about it some more….you know the more you think about something the more sense it seems to make (and these thoughts weren’t helped by thinking about them over a beer or two).
So that was the plan A, a nice 200bhp engine for my little Elise. Well that was great until I was chatting my mate at Greg who owns Hangar 111 a Lotus specialist near Ipswich (you can tell my stupid-idea-meter is about to go off the charts now!) and he mentioned that he was designing a new super charger kit for the K series, loosely based on the old Turbo Technics system of which he had bought the patent rights to, and asked if I’d be interested in being a test mule…..do bears shit in the wood?
I’d not built a K series before with most of my experience is was building the Hayabusa engine in my old Radical, so I thought this could be a laugh (queue hind-sight). The idea is I build a decent platform for supercharging and which will produce a reliable car that I can use and not worry about blowing up more than any other tuned engine.
So here she is, one EU2 Rover K series VVC engine, its looks a bit tatty around the edges but everything is there, I even got a log book with the full service history. Although this doesn’t count for that much as you’ll see later.
A few hours with a large hammer and the K-Series is now lying in its various component parts. Its amazing how many sections of engine there are in the K series, and its also so light and compact which reminds me a lot of the bike engines.
The strip down
The first challenge was removing the VVC (aka Voodoo Valve Control) mechanisms from the cam carrier. The workshop manual is full of warnings about these mechanisms and how you shouldn’t separate the cam from main mechanism. With some carefully placed cable ties I was able to lock it all up and remove them from the cam carrier *phew*
Once everything was stripped down I did notice some scoring on one of the inlet cam bearings, looks like some rubbish has got into the oil and been trapped here, most likely from a head gasket failure in the past. It’s not that great to look at but it could be worse and with a bit of fettling I think it’ll be ok.
Once the head is stripped I take it up to Roger Fabry of Sabre Heads, the same chap that did my Hayabusa head, so he can give me an appraisal of the head and what work needs doing on it. The VVC head already has large valves and big intake/exhaust tracks compared to the standard K series head so the majority of the work will be in getting the head up to scratch and fixing any issues with it.
One of the biggest tools I used in this job was eBay, it is amazing the stuff you can find on that site and these days the retailers take it as seriously as they would their normal shop websites so items are despatched quickly and more importantly correctly. One of the first purchases was a set of proper OEM liners for the engine. These are like rocking horse poop these days, lots of Chinese copies going around which are probably fine in a normal K but I wanted the proper German made items.
Along with taking the head up to Rog I also brought the engine block, this again was for him to sanity check for me and ensure all was well. As I mentioned the K is new to me and as we all know its a sensitive design so has to be right.
Oh, that’s not right!
There is a lot of speak about liner heights and where they should be on the K series, the theory is that you must have at least 4 thou liner protrusion from the block. Well that might have been the norm with the old style head gaskets but with the introduction MLS head gaskets from Land Rover and more lately the Chinese this isn’t as important as it once was. In fact the general consensus is so as long as the liner isn’t below the deck level it’ll be good. All was going ok, the new liners were put into the old block and Rog set about measuring them. Of course in my case two of the liners were below the deck level so he would have to machine the block to bring them back up. That wasn’t a problem but what he found next might have been. He noticed that one of the liners wasn’t sealing properly into the block, on closer inspection it was apparent the shoulder that the liner sits on had a low spot which was most likely the reason for the engine suffering a head gasket failure in the past…which of course had nothing to do with the head gasket – probably.
This is the reason I take it to the experts as I would have never noticed that one. Not a major issue but more expense, Rog had a local company that he used for the technical machining work and the block was soon heading off in their direction to get all the liner seats re-cut.