Lada Niva 1989

RoughNReady

Member
Ahahahaha I forgot about that! I think it's a VW or something that puts the battery underneath one of the front power seats. meant to be a massive pain when the battery dies.

One thing I have to give them is while their QC was kind of spotty the base design is pretty good. It's a bit unfortunate some of the compromises for the RHD conversion though.

I was lucky to get one with a relatively quiet TC. It just sounds like a key cutting grinder instead of a blender full of marbles. The cabin is also unusually quiet. Quiet enough that it's possible to communicate without yelling / gesturing.
 

RoughNReady

Member
Got it roadworthied and re-registered. no worries.
Ordered another batch of parts today. Mostly just bits and pieces. The main purpose was to get a locking fuel cap, but I got some other needed bits too.

I was tweaking the timing today. Trying to follow the operations manual procedure. I gave up eventually because I was ust advancing the timing further and further and not seeing any detonation. It was either super retarded before or ???. At least it didn't get to the point of having trouble cranking.
 

RoughNReady

Member
Brief update:
Replaced the fuel cap with a locking one. Worked great first time then kept bottoming out before it did up enough to freewheel. Added a second O ring to it. Now it works but sticks out ustenough that the filler flap doesn't close properly. Oh well.


Found the idling and richness problem. Wrecked idling et. I tried fixing it a couple of times using the plastic metal stuff, as you can see. The most recent attempt worked kind of. Still trying to get a compatible et though.


Rebuilt the carburettor as best I could. The kit didn't have all the pieces I needed, but it did have most.
Found yet another carb related previous owner issue. The spring in that photo wasn't there. Instead there was a bigger one attached to the bit on the accelerator linkage. It let the secondary butterfly flap free to a degree. Much more drivable now. Time will tell if it's burning less fuel than a refinery fire now.


Before the rebuild I discovered every vacuum hose in the engine bay was wrong and the charcoal canister was from something else and totally incompatible. I sorted both issues. Not the first time I've had to build an emissions system, but hopefully the last.

The upper longitudinal radius arm was clunking around. Pulled it apart, checked it and put it back together. Just a loose nut.
just going to hope for the best that I've attached a YT video here.
[YOUTUBE]BPAyy8mlXL8[/YOUTUBE]

Replaced the Bosch voltage regulator with a model correct, albeit modern electronic one. The slow oscillation was fixed by wiggling fuses.
[YOUTUBE]T35XpqgC8rw[/YOUTUBE]

besides this just mostly tweaks and part replacements. I believe that the brake proportioning valve has packed it in. It seems to have a 100% rear bias. Not a good thing. Going to see if I can free it up and lubricate it to get me through till I get another one. I reckon it's either old age and the grease dried out, or some water got past the boot and rusted it.
 

RoughNReady

Member
Not even sure where I'm at any more. Too much going on to collect my thoughts.

The locking fuel cap was causing me grief. I took off the O ring it came with. It wasn't an O ring. It was actually some weird plastic-y thing with a V groove on the inside. Replacing it with the rubber O ring worked a treat! No more leaks.

I put a cooling system flush through, pulled the radiator and backflushed it for hours, and filled it with a hydrochloric soiution in attempts to make it work a bit better. At least the sides of it get hot now. The middle is still dead cold. No doubt it's done.

On the weekend I was given the parts I needed for the carburettor. I've put the idle jet in so far. Made a difference to how it runs, but something is out of whack when the choke is on because the idle is way too low. Besides that it's running a lot better when it's warmed up.

Still needs lots of front end work but I lack the tools. I really could use a gear puller (I think. to remove the steering arm from the box), a caliper spreader (to misuse a little to spread the actual caliper to remove the brake piston cartridge), and possibly a ball joint puller.
Pretty much I need to replace a couple of CV boots, possibly a ball joint, the steering box, and the brake pistons on one side of the front.

I also recently replaced the brake proportioning valve. It's the sort that works off the position of the rear axle. Whole thing had seized solid. Bit of a pain of a job because I had to reuse some bits that I'd hoped would have come with the part, but it's all good and done and the front brakes work properly again.
It's making the weird grinding sound when I brake again too. Admittedly I just try to ignore it because there's plenty of meat on the pads and shoes.

e: forgot!
I used it for taking a few trailer loads of green waste to the tip using the car killer trailer. Besides heat problems because of the radiator it handled things fine.
 

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RoughNReady

Member
Where am I at now. Not much further really. Found out why it's a bit gutless under about 1500rpm. One of the u joints on the rear propshaft was pretty much siezed. Been driving it around town front wheels only, no rear propshaft for the last couple of months. the replacement joint I got was wrong. I didn't realise a design revision was made so I'm waiting on the correct, older one.

The family car has been replaced by an XJ Cherokee sport for my other half to learn to drive in and have as her car, so I have some time to do repairs on the Niva. It can have some downtime.

Over the last couple of days I succeeded in replacing the piston block on one of the brake calipers with a new one. Even the service manual was vague and there was nothing on the internet. My tools are primitive but I got it done. Took a lot of trial and error, and OH&S would have strung me up if I were doing it for cash!

I still have to do even more horrible things to dismantle the drivers side front suspension to replace the CV boot, then somehow Swap the steering arm between steering boxes when I replace it too. The donor box had it's shaft cut off. But they are as rare as hens teeth so I have to work with what I've got.
 

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prawns

Moderator
Reckon you would know that car inside and out and upside down by now :D Great to hear your figuring it all out mate :)
 

RoughNReady

Member
I thought I'd updated this!

Fun isn't the word I'd use but I do now it inside out now, which I consider to be a positive thing.

Following on from the brake piston block I've also replaced four of the brake hoses. The one for the rear axle has defeated me for now because the nut is being stubborn and I don't want to strip it. So it's waiting until I can get a proper line spanner.
I also managed to destructively remove the jammed bleeder on the other side of the front with a hammer and vice grips. I went to the local mechanics to get another and I was told they've never needed a spare bleeder nipple. WHAT? On the way home I remembered the piston block I took off still had one bleeder in it so I used that.
A set of Ferodo brake pads which I've had sitting around for a couple of years went on. The old ones were fine but I figured why not? They had a larger contact area so that was a bonus.

While I was at it I decided to deal with the hand brake which had gotten weak. Even now I have no idea what the underlying issue was. The foot brake couldn't be adjusted enough either to the point that the adjuster cams could be spun right round.
My first attempt resulted in one of the back wheels locking up whenever I released the brake. Didn't get very far like that!

I also had a spare set of shoes so I put them on. Even though the old ones were barely worn I opted to replace them. Besides one of the pistons falling out it all went smoothly. Got it all adjusted and freed / lubricated one of the hand brake cables. The brakes now work better than ever.

I still need to do the steering box and the damaged CV boot, and the carburettor is still giving me grief even though I rebuilt it but it's getting there.
 

RoughNReady

Member
Sorry about the external image hosting. It was about the only way I could do this from my tablet.
Been looking at an eBay seller that sells retreads. I want a set of muds, or failing that A/Ts to put on the 15"x5.5" Suzuki rims that were on my Niva when I got it. It had 215/75R15c A/Ts on it. But they were too old and failing internally. I've been using a set of stock 16" rims with Hankook LTs on it. Not good tyres for clay but good for sealed roads and not fazed by standing water.
Anyway the closest I could find (I am not good with tyre sizing by the way) was 225/75/R15c Muds. I asked a Lada group if they'd fit with the Suzuki rims. nobody was really sure. A bit of a problem.
As luck would have it I found a new 225/75R15c mud in the shed! No it's not suspicious. It was a spare without a rim that came with the other half's XJ. Her Jeep is running 235s so it's otherwise useless. I got the Beaurepaires to pop it on to one of the Zook rims for me. They had the same reservations as me.
When I had a chance I got to work seeing how it fit.
for some reason it looks small in this pic. I put it down to the phone's lens. There's a not insubstantial amount of tread sticking out. the old 215s barely squeaked in.

Turning the wheel it came close but didn't touch anything. I tried jumping on the bumper but couldn't compress the suspension enough. So I drove that wheel up on a ramp. Still wasn't enough but I got it to touch the stops when I started to jump on the bumper like that. It revealed some relatively "minor" clearance issues.


I wasn't worried about the rear because of the amount of overhang the wheel arches have, but thought I should check anyway. Glad I did. Jumping hard on the rear bumper revealed contact. You can see the dirt on the tread in this pic.


At least I'm not out any money! So I'm left contemplating whether it's a worthwhile exercise. I can get flares easily enough and they are actually really cheap but the postage is enough to make me reconsider.

If anyone has their two cents to chip in on the whole thing, please do. I've been trying to get feedback from different places to see what people think.
 

billolga

Well-Known Member
We all love tinkering with our 4Wd's but your a Gold medal winner - good on you, you've certainly had some challenges.
 

RoughNReady

Member
We all love tinkering with our 4Wd's but your a Gold medal winner - good on you, you've certainly had some challenges.
Haha no doubt about the challenges. I'd say an iron oxide medal at best.

here's more fun!
I've been suspicious of the left front wheel for a while. Tracks in the dirt didn't look right somehow. plus when I tried out that zook rim I noticed slight negative camber. That explains it pretty well.
If anyone says i need to wash it, I can't! an old gal pipe failed for the raw water supply that supplies the outside taps at home. They've been off all week. I'm digging trenches so I can lay poly for the raw water taps right to the meter but it takes time. At least the ground is like pudding now heh ..heh aww :( I think it was losing a few litres a minute under the house for weeks if not more before I started noticing.
So next bit of tinkering is a ball joint. I've already got a new one that I bought for just in case so that's no big deal. Just not looking forward to dealing with the spring.
 
I use to have a Lada and loved it, went to a number of places some of the big brand 4wd's couldn't get too. Devils gate etc. One of the funniest things we did was fit a Fiat twin cam engine in, bolted straight in with just a easy milling (by hand) of the top of the gearbox, and a custom made bracket to hold the transfer box onto the engine, and a slight redo of the exhaust. Had so much power...
 

RoughNReady

Member
I use to have a Lada and loved it, went to a number of places some of the big brand 4wd's couldn't get too. Devils gate etc. One of the funniest things we did was fit a Fiat twin cam engine in, bolted straight in with just a easy milling (by hand) of the top of the gearbox, and a custom made bracket to hold the transfer box onto the engine, and a slight redo of the exhaust. Had so much power...
You mean a bracket for the front diff, right? From what I recall the starter is on the other side and that's why the bellhousing needs clearancing. I bet it really went!
I'd like to put a Pugeot diesel in to mine. That way i wouldn't need a certificate either because it was an optional motor. They ran it with the same gearing too so it must have been even slower but I reckon it would have climbed a wall!
My Niva still amazes me. Even when it has bottomed out in deep wheel ruts it still just drags itself over the ground like it's nothing.

I don't have the time to post it but I changed the ball joint yesterday. took a short video clip too. I'm really surprised the suspension didn't fall apart! It was a dead easy job at least, unless you count the hours of pounding with a couple of hammers to get the taper to pop. Had to revisit it today because I didn't seal the base of the ball joint boot. D'oh!

The steering isn't quite as heavy or erratic now. it's still a pig to turn right and the steering feels notchy, but the steering box is on my short list anyway. It also still pulls to the left but not quite as severely. It's weird. On dirt or other low traction surfaces it doesn't pull. I can't figure it. Maybe the castor is off on one wheel or something.
While I was at it I tried the zook wheel on again now the wheel sits in the right place. The clearance was marginally better. Measured the tread to guard offset. About 3cm. I think the flares I was looking at on LadaPower are 10cm ones so that would cover me if I got a set of 225s. Trouble is the flares are designed to go down to the arch and come across so there's no lip. Ie a solid triangle cross section. I was going to do trim the front and rear of the guards a little. The flares might negate the use of trimming them because they would be sitting where the arches were unless I can persuade them to open up a couple of cm at the back and front. Hmm. The troubles of not being able to get quite the right sized tyres. At least it won't be going rock crawling. These are intended for sand, clay, mud, gravel etc. Pretty much anything off the main road here.
 
You mean a bracket for the front diff, right? From what I recall the starter is on the other side and that's why the bellhousing needs clearancing. I bet it really went!
I'd like to put a Pugeot diesel in to mine. That way i wouldn't need a certificate either because it was an optional motor. They ran it with the same gearing too so it must have been even slower but I reckon it would have climbed a wall!
My Niva still amazes me. Even when it has bottomed out in deep wheel ruts it still just drags itself over the ground like it's nothing.

I don't have the time to post it but I changed the ball joint yesterday. took a short video clip too. I'm really surprised the suspension didn't fall apart! It was a dead easy job at least, unless you count the hours of pounding with a couple of hammers to get the taper to pop. Had to revisit it today because I didn't seal the base of the ball joint boot. D'oh!

The steering isn't quite as heavy or erratic now. it's still a pig to turn right and the steering feels notchy, but the steering box is on my short list anyway. It also still pulls to the left but not quite as severely. It's weird. On dirt or other low traction surfaces it doesn't pull. I can't figure it. Maybe the castor is off on one wheel or something.
While I was at it I tried the zook wheel on again now the wheel sits in the right place. The clearance was marginally better. Measured the tread to guard offset. About 3cm. I think the flares I was looking at on LadaPower are 10cm ones so that would cover me if I got a set of 225s. Trouble is the flares are designed to go down to the arch and come across so there's no lip. Ie a solid triangle cross section. I was going to do trim the front and rear of the guards a little. The flares might negate the use of trimming them because they would be sitting where the arches were unless I can persuade them to open up a couple of cm at the back and front. Hmm. The troubles of not being able to get quite the right sized tyres. At least it won't be going rock crawling. These are intended for sand, clay, mud, gravel etc. Pretty much anything off the main road here.
 
Yes you're right, the front diff....And the hammering to release the taper, i remember it well. Had to do front wheel bearings on the side of the road once..and did the ball joints as well.
We use to go river crossing in mine and sometimes had water waste deep inside the car...and it still kept going..

And it flew with the twin cam...red light winner...never heard you could put a peugeot diesel into one of them...
 

RoughNReady

Member
Just did a quick search " In some markets a 1.9L PeugeotXUD diesel powered Niva was sold." So yep. There's even OEM front diff carriers available for them that mount the diff to the body because of the different shape of the engine.

Off topic but I just finished doing a little work to the XJ. Restuck it's roof lining, reattached a diff breather hose clip that had it floating right next to a uni joint, ID'd the rear diff so I can get the right oil, and looked at the TC carrier...and walked away grumbling about the sheared bolts.

I was thinking about the flare issue. I might be able to get away with garden edging tilted so it's flush with the guards down the bottom. Don't want to do it but I don't need all that much and only need it at the front arches if I go for different rubber. The way the body is designed it kind of tapers at the front causing all sorts of stuff to get flicked up even turning the wheels slightly with stock rims. The rears are still covered but the back of teh arch needs a little trimming. A bonus of the zook rims is it removes the annoying rubbing on the inner fender wall by the top of the tyres under heavy articulation.

Feel free to say no to my idea everyone. I haven't invested a cent into it. It's only speculation.
 

RoughNReady

Member
Got Kumho KL71s for the Suzuki rims. I really, really like them.
RySHi04l.jpg

Picture doesn't really do them justice. They stick out about as far as the test 225, if not further so I have to order some flares.
Replaced the lower ball joint, the battery, a few bulbs and went through hell trying to get the seats tighter than factory.

The new copper radiator arrived a few weeks ago. It went straight in along with the original Soviet brass thermostat. I think it worked better than the new one. Couldn't resist hitting where the paint flaked off it with Brasso. Something's still not right with the cooling system. Might be time to throw a new water pump at it.
 

KMM4x4

Active Member
My grandfather had once a Niva. I then was small and we together went by it for berries. In sovetstky time the Niva was better on quality and it is more reliable. Already reliability at it bad.
 
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