I spoke to Ned again at AutoLusso. Brilliant that he is willing to help those in need over the phone.
He told me it would be a miracle if my engine was still running with all the flaps falling in. Iv sent him the video so he can assist further. He says it sounds like that have been removed, but if that's the case I don't understand why iv had the rattle, why it looks like there is a flap in #3. Iv also a very detailed full service history. Why would a job like removing swirl flaps it be documented.
I think that he's right, it would be a miracle, but we're now in the realm of forensics. There is simply no way to tell what has become of the missing flaps except looking for them. What can't happen is that one or more remain loose somewhere in the cylinder head. You might be able to buy or hire a borescope/endoscope that would verify they're not, and also check combustion chambers for damage through the injector or glowplug holes.
I'm in a slightly different dilemma, since I know for a fact that one flap is in the head, but I can think of no way of removing it without removing the head. A borescope isn't going to tell me anything I don't know, except perhaps what has become of my other missing flap. If I've got to take the head off anyway, that'll be obvious one way or another.
You will have to explain what the top n bottom bearing of the spindle are. Is the top bearing the small plastic ring the spindle slots through on the alloy part,and where the pin end of the spindle inserts is the bottom bearing? I don't know what's should be there or how it should look in the 2st place so hard to tell there condition. Plus being caked in Poland carbon makes it impossible to see.
Yes, the top bearing is that shonky little plastic ring, housed in the manifold and acts as a bearing for the 2.35mm pin atop the spindle. The one of four I show is seriously ovalled in my photo, they all were. That allows the spindle to move side to side and jam the flap into the side of the inlet manifold.
The lower bearing, well, there isn't one really AFAICT. The plastic shoulder of the cog extends up the spindle and bears directly on the alloy of the manifold. There is however a small blue plastic oil seal seated in the hole, I presume a gesture toward trying to prevent carbon goo from leaking down into the rack and pinion. Mine are actually OK, and were barely leaking, but the top of the spindles rock around 1.5mm
Just over 100k on the clock.
Before I started I read as many of these threads as I could find. ~100k seemed to be the point where flap detachment became an epidemic, though some people seem to have had them fail much earlier. Like me, as it turned out. But it's circumstantial evidence, we don't know whether yours have gone for a walk or been deliberately removed.
I did not check which spindle was which. I just wanted to clean it so I dismantled straight away without looking too hard. This was also before me thinking the swirl flaps had broken off. I first presumed they been removed.
OK. I'd still have a close look at the carbon in the inlet manifold, to see whether there's any footprint of recent flap operation.