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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Post lockdown spannerings,

So, it’s towards the end of big lockdown, I’ve just built a big garage in the garden, fitted it out, moved the tool box in, squeezed my Austin Seven across the back and the Turbo Astra now resides in the front, now I’m bored.

Weekday work has finally re-started and I need a project to keep my weekends at home busy and to keep me out of the pub... What’s about, I start looking and find nothing of interest.
What I really need to do is have the front bumper off my MK4 Turbo Convertible, fix the little bits of damage, get it painted and fitting nicely, then maybe find a winter hack, so the shininess of the rest of the fleet stays shiny and as nice as possible, in the cack weather.
So, I remove the front bumper again, strip it all down for a freshen up, then I find out one of the fog lights needs changing, brackets one side are made out of fresh air and hot melt glue, rain has got in etc. I start trawling about for a nice pair of fog lights and I did buy some, but they got wrecked by DPD. Why is it always the side you need that get used as a football in the depot? Great.

Hmm, what I really need is a whole bumper the right colour, maybe a different spec bumper if I can find one, I like the GSi style, but everyone’s got that. A few pop up in the usual places, miles away though.
Then, kerching! It's the end of July, I’m on a Fb forum/Marketplace or somewhere laptop related and 2 miles down the road is a 1.6 convertible, in Star Silver3, 04 plate, with a death rattle engine, breaking. I call the guy, “what's the front bumper like” seems the whole car is still available, “tappets well gone mate, breaking it, bumpers alright”…Ok, chappy, we’re on our way, let us have a look like. AstraDan is up for the weekend, so he and I go for our very shortest road trip, to the next village from mine, in the sun.

And here it is, a tatty unloved 4 stud, tiny rusty brakes, a really late Z16XEP Bertone with the loudest rattle I’ve heard for a long time, but it runs, it’s gotta Boris MOT till mid-November, no nasty lights on the dash (more about that later) seems to drive ok, brakes are awful, but roof works, amazingly the AC is cold, the nice blood red leather interior, a bit faded - but hey, a few body dents, 101k miles, scabby paint on the rear bumper, a nice front bumper, new rear pads/oil filter/air filter/relay of some sort/decent battery bag are all floating around in the boot, comes on 5 well kerbed wobbly 17” Halfords tat alloys and just 10 previous owners! –

Seller matey tells us the tappets are dead, but it’s got a working (but filthy) roof, the leather is dirty but not holed yet and that’s all worth something he says, the GM cat is still fitted, that’s got a decent value, some of the panels go for money, he breaks stuff for a living and sells cats, he can make this much out of it, blah blah blah. Dan and I mulled it over, the sun was out, the roof went down, we both can’t say no to the underdog, maybe it’s fixable? It’s got some service history, can’t be that bad, so without overthinking it too much, I thought, let’s have it, I’ll swap the front bumper to mine, break the old girl. Paid the man, grabbed half a log book, got it home.

Well, you know what happens next don’t you!

A swift search in the internets reminded me firstly that I didn't know they fitted this engine to a mk4, I thought they were mk5 and twintop/Tigra etc, but this was registered a day before 54 plate came out, so it must be quite a late mk4 and, that the rattle on these could be the inlet manifold runners, not the tappets and I’m pretty sure these are shimmed, not hydraulic lifters anyway and how bad can a few shims be to change? Listened to the cam area with a long screwdriver to the ear, seems ok, move to the inlet area, huge tapping in the lughole from the alloy inlet manifold. Ooo, maybe we should dive in and save it? O yes, good plan, save the engine so it can be videoed running nicely, break it, scrap it, steal the front bumper for mine, get really dirty for little or no financial gain! just for something to do and for lots of car parts hanging around for ages…o dear, we know what’s actually going to happen!

When I got it back home, we could just see a little bit of black tape over the ecu light, just next to the oil light. O dear. Plugged it in, 12 fault codes stored! Didn’t record those at the time, as at that point we were going to break it, but I do remember egr out of range or something emissions related and many others.

Dan and I started with the silly inlet manifold, got all that off, EGR channels are totally blocked with hard black soot

so that was never working properly, weird inlet manifold runners totally rattling on one half, ok on the bottom half.

Cleaned everything up, checked the twinport actuation bits, all works, but crusted up, drilled and tapped the manifold where 2 little alloy bosses were, for some extra fixing screws, re-sealed it all, refitted the lot and bingo, it’s lovely.

The oil is black, out that comes for a bit of a flush through so at least it’s clean when someone hopefully buys the engine. Seems to go ok, but so much needs doing elsewhere on it…Yeah right! It could be my new winter hack, sorn the Turbo, swap the insurance, drive it from October onwards till the spring. Good plan!

I cracked on!

Put the Front bumper back on, as I’d had it off for the swap, wasn’t quite perfect enough for the Turbo, then a day or so after an Irmscher bumper pops up 4 miles from me, in dark red, but undamaged, get that, pop it on the Turbo, sort that later.

Then, in maybe this order, but maybe not! –

Jacked the poor old 1.6 up high, removed the brakes one corner at a time, cleaned the 3 layers of paint off them/derusted the tiny calipers/discs, the front and rear pads were seized in due to the liberal amount of paint colours several owners had lashed on, a bit of Kurust rust killer here, bit of careful silver paint there, copperslip, you know the score, new rear pads, fronts ok ish for the mo, all back together, flush brake fluid, clutch too while the battery was out, all working lovely, but 4 stud and a bit tiny behind 17” horrible rimz.

While it’s up in the air, pop the sills off, remove a bucket of mud from within, clean and polish black stains and mess off of them, new clips were in stock, jet wash everything underneath, dry out, waxoyl brushed on, middle box front clamp was loose, sorted that, checked out the rest of the exhaust, std GM mid box, some fairly naff no-name rear box and a screw on extension trim, as I think it’s a hatch back box, it didn't reach the bumper, still doesn't either! a few holes in the outer casings, but not leaking, wire brush a bit, few dobs of silver paint on that, sorted. looks good.
One ARB drop link looks nearly new, a receipt from a couple of years ago shows one has been changed, the other ones the original, seized in and well knocking, get a pair, change (wrestle with) one, keep one in stock.
Drained coolant, double flushed both ways with Mr. Hose, fresh pink GM jollop in stock, get it in there.
Brush down and Waxoyl all the brake pipes, double check they aint too manky, some have been changed, ok, good stuff,
Ditto with the slightly rusty arms/beam/pipes/cables etc. very dry underneath, no oil leaks to speak of! Amazing.
Fit a new bolt where one's missing one in the sub frame triangular bracket thingy, check,
Did a scrappy run, found a towing eye for the tool kit, loads of useful bits and like new spare steely with an unused 185/65/15 in the boot of a hatchback. Hmm, I see a plan here. Nice comfy commute mobile with 15’s on it, lose them alloys, just need 3 or 4 more. Did buy some more rusty ones from the scrappy for peanuts, but thought I’d try and find some more unused steelies/tyres. Found another new wheel with a ditto Firestone nearby, bought that, found 2 new old stock steelies, loose on eBay, bought them, sold some Ampera spares to a colleague to pay for two new matching Firestones, that’s the wheels and tyres sorted!
Tool kit fitted, car cleaned inside and out, all the usual mot stuff checked,
Towing eye popped in boot,
Spare wheel screw and nut found in from scrappy, fitted those,
Lose the colourful aftermarket stereo, Dan donated a Std cd/radio, fitted that, even the 4 little grub screws! Display works fine, steering wheel controls also of course.
Airbag horn buttons worn, swapped airbag for a spare I had in stock.
Now the wheels were not kerbed and looking shiny, I checked the front tracking with my natty laser tool, seems spot on, then straightened steering wheel up,
Got the instrument cluster out, ECUlight uncovered, bulbs checked, pop back together,
Went for a test, now we had the ABS light on, investigate that, wire broken OSF sensor, remove hub and sensor ring, cut that back, tin and repair that, extend the wire, replace hub/brakes etc. sorted.

Glovebox guide broken, wrestle that out, fit a spare I had in stock.
Now we have an airbag light on, check that out with Dan’s Opcom, pass side pretensioner, some sort of issue, have seat out play with wires, discover side airbag wiring not connected too. Bolt in the pretensioner properly, cleaned the wiring connectors up, that seems good, now why do we not have side airbags? Looked at the door shut plate and find that the car should have cloth seats, the leather must have been added afterwards. Hmm. Tried to enable the airbags as they are now there, Opcom is having none of it. Worry about that later…
Only then do I notice that the seats have all the wiring for heaters as I thought all leather was heated in these, cars got no switches in the dash though. I buy a switch surround for a fiver in the right colour, pop in a spare pair of switches, they light up! Woohoo, we should have warm asses, except the drivers one doesn’t work and is drawing no current! Fix that later.

Rear badges are in the wrong place and are the wrong type and it annoyed me (mk5/6 I think) lose those, lose the superglue they were lashed on with, wet and dry the area, bit of polish, find a pair of the correct badges at the scrappy, not fitted as yet,
Number plate light fixed, crusty bulb syndrome as per usual,
Swapped the V grill for a spare Irmschery one I had in the stores,

Even set to with the mop and some polish, sorted the always milky headlights and to clean up the bodywork a bit.

Dan popped back up for a weekend and we did the cam belt and aux belt and the air filter as a new one lurked in the boot.

I taxed it, swapped the insurance, Direct line web site auto renew thing tried shafting me for 370£, I called them, sorted that, it’s on the road 1st of Oct, and pressed into service! Fully comp, 190 quids, and I’m commuting in a rescued snotter, that if it finds a ditch, it won’t make me cry.

So what’s next for the poor thing?

Well, ideally it needs cruise for my 180 miles each way commute. Tried to enable it, but no car pass with the book pack. Bugger. Sorting that at the weekend with a new pass from Dan’s dealer nearby.
It has an occasional “back on the gas” kinda splutter, and when hot seems a bit gutless, so check the o2 sensors, maybe it’s that and deffo change to fuel filter as it looks old, whatever it is, get that sorted,
Refit rear badges,
Clearly steams up inside a bit, but the AC copes, maybe the pollen filter is full of cack and is wet, change that,
If I can find a much nicer rear bumper in silver, fit that, but if not, not worried really,
Cruise switch now in stock, fit that,
Check if it’s got a clutch switch, if not fit one,
Enable cruise with opcom/tech2,
Sort the important heated seat, maybe borrow the black one from the Turbo for a bit, make sure that works, fix the red one.

So what’s it like being back in a few hundred £snotter? Well it drives so nicely, it’s the only car a chap really needs, ok, it’s not very rapid, like the 2.0 Turbo, or even my 999cc turbo, but the CR box and shorter gearing make for great fun down the back lanes, it does cruise ok on the A roads, seems to be able to do a decent bit of MPGs, the tall tyres are just what I wanted for the poor roads at home and near work, and it handles so well, has a little stutter on the motorway though, as you go back on the gas I get a small judder then it picks up again...

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Nice write up - I enjoyed that :)

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2,858 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
So, a couple of weeks ago, I stayed down south at the weekend and Dan and I played with the old 1.6 a bit more -

I thought we'd look at the output of the o2 sensors on a drive, so Dan holds the tech2, while I drive about trying to make it do its splutter thing. It does do it and the live graph showing the upstream sensor seems a bit slow to react, maybe the front sensor is tired, it's done 101k as it look old.

Back from there we went to Benns at the motor factors and got a new front lambda sensor and a gallon of 5w30GM for later on. Nightmare getting the old sensor out which was quite crusty and a similar knuckle smashing time getting the new one in, really needed the thread tapping out and a proper sensor socket and I'd left my tap 180 miles away, and didn't remember to buy a socket! but it's in and seems much better, smoother, pokier and less stumbly, but it's not quite perfect.

Another scrappy run and we had a decent and in one-piece driver's side door check strap (old spring broken and was laying in the door) as the car used to squash my leg when I was getting out, a spare door speaker, as we had no output from the installed one, a glovebox divider which seems like a decent idea, a load of little fiddly bits like intact airbox rubbers and a clutch switch for the cruise control. These we popped in the car and then went down the nearby dealer, had a good laugh at the badly presented and tatty cars on the forecourt and then popped in to order a car pass, so I can enable the cruise control, so that is in the post. Fitted the cruise stalk too for when the car pass turns up.

Then Sunday morning, as the sun was out, we investigated why the passenger could warm themselves, but not the driver. Got the seat out, check all the wiring on view, all seems there. Using Dans meter though we see the heater pads are open circuit, a common thing. removed the base leather and found the culprit, via a little burn mark in the foam, broken wire by the end of the input wiring, where it joins the actual heater tape. Scraped and tinned that, resoldered that back together, checked it with the meter, all was well. Re-assemble and awesome! it works! Warmed cheeks and more importantly, as I seem to have just pulled my back somehow, a heated spinal area too.

Back at my gaff the weekend after, the car pass codes arrive via email and I fire up opcom and do a google double check how to enable cruise control, seems it's a piece of piddle and it takes like 2 mins and we're up and running, well the cruise is...

Since I got it on the road, the starter motor seems to have been getting slower and slower, and from cold, finally it wouldn't start. Whilst fiddling about getting to the battery terminals and trying a different battery, I burn myself on the positive cable, right next to the terminal, gosh I said! I investigate further and after cleaning up all the battery fixings and tags and doing it all up tight, I reasoned that as it charges fine and is ok once running, the issue may be just at the starter motor end, jacked it up, fondled about, got a spanner on the solenoid connections, put a good 3/4 of a turn on the solenoid to motor braided wire and all is now well, whizzing over like mad, even on a tiny battery. I like faults like that. Simple.

More when Dan finds some pictures of the seat removal/soldering fun, or when something else breaks.
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