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I'd like to give it a go, but I don't trust myself not to balls it up.

Assuming it is HGF I'm going to see how much our mechanic quotes to sort it, as that might shock me into feeling a bit braver about tackling it.

Gasket kits + bolts for these are about £100 http://www.frazerpart.com/acatalog/924__2_0L__cylinder_head_gasket_set.html

so I'm expecting it to be several hundreds in labour. Hopefully catching it early might have helped.

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February 2015

The car has been off the road for all of february too. Mainly down to bad luck and bad planning, after breaking down on New Years Day I had a manic couple of weeks at work so I didn't find an alternator repairsman until late Jan. Then, due to a mixture of miscommunication, logistics and weather it took 3 weekends to get the alternator off, refurbished and back on again, despite the chap getting the job done in 48 hours. My fab mechanic then came down with big, proper Manflu for 2 weeks, which brings us to now, the last couple of days of Feb. He's coming round on Monday to test for HGF, but you know that because I mentioned it last month/the other day. Which is the last time I'll be doing that, because we have now caught up with real now time, and all timings and datings will now be ACTUAL.

2 months without a drive... I keep looking out at the poor thing on the drive and really missing driving it. Funny how cars do that when essentially they are all doing the same thing; moving you and your stuff around and then back again, but stimulating very different feelings while doing it.

Anyway, my wheels are looking a bit tatty and unloved, there's quite a lot of pitting on them. They'd be fine I'm sure for ever but when you're trying to create the low budget low slung coupe of desire only the almost best will do. I was talking to a couple of people at new year about alloy wheels, like you do, and one had just paid £25 per wheel for a refurb by his mate dave, and another was about to pay £60 per wheel from a reputable company. I'm sure the quality and durability of finish will be quite different, but either of those prices x5 is quite a lot. A few weeks later with keen timing I was perusing the OC forums just as someone put up an advert for 5 original alloys in excellent condition with good tyres for £80, so I snapped them up as quickly as my broadband coverage would allow. They look great, and they'll look better on the car I'm sure, once I get them on.








In other bits buying news, I picked up a brown tool roll that will match my interior better than the black one I have, although the tools match it quite well from getting very rusty when my sunroof leaked last year. A lot of the water that ran down the rear hatch ended up draining through the toolkit. The bloke also had a spare coolant expansion bottle, and because these are NLA and there's a possibility mine might have a small split in it, I bought it.








In other other bits buying news, I bought another interior. An identical one, which doesn't have a split passenger seat or frayed door card bottoms. I've been looking for a new Pascha passenger seat for 18 months and haven't found any at all for sale, so when this full interior came up I went for it. The plan is to swap over the bits I need, and then sell on a full brown/beige Pascha interior with some wear and tear to try to recoup some of the outlay.










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Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear my car,
Happy Birthday to you.




30 years old today! Hurrah!

Shame neither the car or me are well enough to go out for a celebration drive. Since I've got a stinking cold I thought I'd have a good look through the info I got sent by the Doolva when I did a £5 vehicle history check thingy a while ago, and see if I could piece together the scant service history and mileage info that I've got.


Starting at the beginning (and trying not to sound like a poncey ebay description), the first registered keeper was an advertising consultancy called Multimark in Lincolnshire. It's got a Mr P.Brown (with a Multimark address) as as first keeper and Multimark as second keeper from when the car was 2 weeks old so I'm making an assumption that it was his company car for the first 3 years of it's life until Feb 1988. I've got a full Porsche stamped service history for this bit, which shows:

01 March 1985 0  Delivered
21 March 1985 769  First Service
21 May 1985 2,613  Wheel Alignment Check
17 Sept 1985 6,403  Driver Compatibility Check
03 Jan 1986  12,214  Service
19 May 1986 19,541 Service
25 Sept 1986 24,581 Service
17 March 1987 35,177 Service
22 June 1988 40,484 Service


In early 1988 the car got sold on, with about 40,000 miles, to Mr D.Dewhurst, who at some point changed the plates for a private plate 1247DD. Interestingly, he owned the car for 20 years, until 2008 when the mileage (from MOT records) showed 72,500.


It was then bought by Dan from Dan's Motorcycles in Nov 2008. The reg no got swapped back to B366NRY at this point.


After 6 months (April 2009) it got sold on to G.Thorpe, who owned it for 4 years, and was a member of the 924 Owners Club.


There appears either to be missing MOT details, or the car was off the road for a bit, as the MOTs jump from Nov 2008 (when sold by Mr Dewhurst, I assume to get his private plate off of it) to Mar 2010.


G.Thorpe sold it in April 2013, and a couple of weeks later it was bought by our GarethJ, with the mileage showing 82,000.


I bought it in Sept 2013 with 88,000 miles showing. I'm the 7th Keeper. I think mileage is showing about 91,000 now.


The mileage thing is interesting. These are notorious for faulty mileageometers, caused by a cog that splits on the back of the speedo, and speedos regularly get replaced rather than the little cog. Mileages are notoriously inaccurate to the point that advice is to ignore shown mileage unless it can be absolutely verified by paperwork. Also the mileageometer only goes up to 100,000 too and because these are durable old things it's not uncommon for them to still be going after 175,000 miles, but only be showing 75,000, and given these two issues I've assumed the mileage could be 90,000, or 190,000, or anything else.


It's interesting that one owner had this for 20 years. If you make the assumption, given length of ownership/private plates that this was his pride and joy, then it's likely that he would have looked after it, and maybe used it infrequently as a second car. This would explain how it's in such a solid condition underneath the superficial shabbyness, and might also be possible that he only did 35,000 in the 20 years he had it, which would make the 90,000 miles genuine and would probably tally well with the condition and age.

Of course anything else is also possible over 20 years of ownership...


So, using the academic rigour of Wikipedia and How Many Left, I can tell you that this 924 was one of 3214 produced in 1985, and is one of only 68 from that year left on the road.


Can you tell I'm bored?

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7 owners isn't too bad for an elderly Porsche, like Old Skool Fords the majority of these are in double figure ownership.


I am exceptionally intrigued about the "driver compatibility check" mentioned in the service history. I'd like to think it was some kind of quiz based on the owner's handbook and if you didn't pass the dealership would impound the car.

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Lovely 924. Me and fatha_greengartside once had this 944.




We were owners number 24 and 25 respectively....


...ours had a similar start in life, bought new from AFN in Isleworth by a guy who worked in London, then sold to a solicitor who lived in Harrogate, given a private plate etc, then it lived all over the North of England for years until it trickled it's way down to East Anglia by the early 90's.


Resprayed at least twice in it's life. Mileage was "42000" but that was probably 242,000 as it had a 5-digit mileometer. Dog-rough but engine was sweet as a nut with excellent oil pressure.

Sold it to some guy in Staffordshire a few years ago and never heard of it again.

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  • 1 month later...

In early 1988 the car got sold on, with about 40,000 miles, to Mr D.Dewhurst, who at some point changed the plates for a private plate 1247DD. Interestingly, he owned the car for 20 years, until 2008 when the mileage (from MOT records) showed 72,500.


It's interesting that one owner had this for 20 years. If you make the assumption, given length of ownership/private plates that this was his pride and joy, then it's likely that he would have looked after it, and maybe used it infrequently as a second car. This would explain how it's in such a solid condition underneath the superficial shabbyness, and might also be possible that he only did 35,000 in the 20 years he had it.



So I tracked him down and emailed him:


Dear Richard,

This car was driven only very occasionally by my wife, it was kept always in our garages at home, as you can see from the mot history she did very little mileage, and some years nothing (to mention) at all! All paperwork was passed on to the garage... had the car serviced regularly and MOT’d every year, and it passed first time on each occasion.... I can assure you that this car ,when I sold it, was absolutely genuine!!


followed up with:


Hi Richard,

My wife said that she did only about 1,600 miles pa, so that sounds about right, but all the MOT certs were given to the garage, showing the exact mileage for each year. The mileage when we sold this car was 66,000 miles. The registration number on this car when I sold it was 1247 DD.


Which is nice, because that means that the mileage of 91,000 is genuine. It also means that potentially there's a big fat envelope of service history sat in a filing cabinet somewhere waiting for me to reunite it with the car. I can dream!




After going through the service history in the bath I had a good read through the owners manual & instructions in the bath and found out 3 exciting things that I didn't know about my 924:

1. The alarm system (lock to arm it is just behind the drivers door) was a factory fit option.

2. The glove box is lockable, the Porsche badge swivels to reveal lock.

3. The windscreen washer nozzles are heated. Talk about Lux! This is a special treat for 1985 model year, the 924's last year in production before the 2.5l 924S replaced it.






And back to the ongoing problems that are keeping it off the road...

With the refurbed alternator on and working I asked my mechanic person to come and test to diagnose/confirm hgf. He did a pressure test and it hardly lost any pressure over 20-30 mins. He is optimistic it might be something else, like condensation from being stood unused a lot. Actually I don't think he's 'optimistic' as much as not wanting to jump to the conclusion it's hgf before eliminating all other possibilities, but it's an attitude I like.

The radiator leak was obvious just from the pressure test so he suggested I replace the rad, flush the coolant system, do an oil change and then run it for a bit and keep an eye on fluids. He said it as if these things were the easiest things in the world to do, and would take me about an afternoon. Cue lots of reading up and questions posted on the 924OC about radiator replacement, coolant flush and oil changes.






Evidence for hgf

Oil a bit like baileys

Coolant loss & overheating


Evidence against

No steam from exhaust- runs clear

Coolant doesn't smell

It's very unusual for non turbo 924s to blow head gaskets

Coolant loss could have been leaking rad


We will see.


There was a 924OC get together at the Ace Cafe, so I popped round there in the Versatile Forty so I could collect the interior and a replacement rad picked up from another club member for £20, which I thought was an excellent deal. I'll swap them over and look at getting mine recored (whatever that means) and swapped back in, and then keep this one as a spare. Have some 924s and motorbikes at the Ace Cafe:














I also met the fine gent, ex 924 turbo owner and Autoshitist 'Danblez' and his grumbly sportshite and got a couple of nice hardback 924 books, for less than a tenner the pair.






Back home with the rad and time for some proper car maintenance and repair. Flush the coolant system and replace the radiator... this is a big thing for me. I've topped up coolant before but that's about it. I'm a bit apprehensive but gonna give it a go, after all I've recently taken the alternator out and that job was OK. If I can do this I'm going to feel like a king. Maybe a quick break before I start...



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Oops pressed post instead of preview...


This was my first time using both axle stands which made me surprisingly nervous. With the car being lower slung than I am deep, if they collapse I'm going to be in trouble. So instead of getting on with it I headed back to my comfort zone and made some lovely wooden chocks for the rear wheels:




Then I manned up, got the car onto the axle stands, found the rad drain plug and removed it, flushed the coolant about 7 or 8 times until it ran clear, and then made a start on replacing the rad.





First sheered bolt, bottom left. Dealt with by mallet, drill, brut force and ignorance. Then bottom right I found a captive nut that rotated in it's housing which was a strip of bent steel spot welded to the inside of the valance. I had to chisel the spot welds to break it apart and get to the nut, then grind a penny washer into a square to make a solid surface to tighten a m6 nut & bolt against. My first proper bodge.

To remove 4 bolts holding the rad on, swap in the new rad and screw it back on took 3 and a half hours, almost all under the car, in the cold, in a puddle from the coolant, while we were supposed to be at a family get together. So much for a quick job. It all eventually went back together and I refilled the coolant and went to start it to get up to temp before I changed the oil but it wouldn't start. The starter turned fine but it wouldn't fire.

Mechanic suggested I check & clean the sparkle plugs, WD40 the inside of the distributor cap & spray carb cleaner into air filter box then try again.
So it's another job I get to do for the first time... removing sparkle plugs. Because the engine is slanted at about 45degrees to enable low slung bonnet line, the sparkle plugs are hidden under the engine, and access is between the block and the inner wing. I can only even see one of them. I got to use the Porsche sparkle plug spanner from the original tool kit, which worked a treat. A bit of 120 wet n dry and it started first time. Thinking I might get a new set of sparkle plugs.


I feel quite brave now. Just doing something for the first time, even changing plugs, sort of breaks the mental seal, the fear of not being able to do it or fear of messing it up. It's good having support, both a really supportive owners club forum and a chum who's an AA man around the corner for advice, and I'm quickly realising that a fair bit of car mechanics isnt that difficult as long as you've got decent tools, a bit of patience and some plusgas. I'm still very much a beginner, but now that I've had my first sheered bolt to deal with I felt like I'm on my way to achieving my bronze arrow in 924smanship.


Anyway, while the engine was warming up I had a fiddle around and found out 3 more things I didn't know about the car:
1. The under bonnet light does work, but it needs the side lights to be on.
2. Headlamp washers work. Never tried them before. 
3. Going from headlights back to side lights means headlights stay popped up but are off. I'm going to drive like that quite a lot I reckon.


Only problem now is that I've got a sticky accelerator. The throttle cable operates ok at the engine end but push the pedal and the revs take about 30 secs to drop back to idle. I think its the connection between the pedal and the mechanism so I'm gonna clean and lube and hope for the best.






I see what the problem is. The jacking donut is just underneath the bit between the accelerator and the side of the footwell, and the floor has bowed up very slightly, pushing the accelerator to the left just enough to bind on the operating lever. A quick tickle with a round file in the big rear slot fnarrr and some vaseline to follow, and the job's sorted. 


I also thought it was time to take the gaffer tape off the sunroof and clean it up ready for the lovely summer weather:






That was, obviously, the day before we had about a week of continuous rain.



My first ever oil change. I couldn't find the sump plug or the oil filter, that's how amateur I am. Located both with help from the 924OC, and equipped with one of those fancy containers that works as a drip tray to collect the waste oil I set about doing it.


I quickly found out the difference between knowledge and experience: 

Knowledge is reading and understanding that you have to 'remove the sump plug and allow oil to drain into a container positioned below'.

Experience is knowing that when you undo and remove the sump plug, the oil will come out much quicker and in greater quantity than you expected, cover the drip tray and instead of running inside it will overflow, covering the air vent, covering the container, running over the driveway covering the axle stands, trolley jack and puddling on the bit of  driveway I have to lay on next to access the oil filter.






I also know for next time not to fill the new oil filter quite as full of oil before I fit it, as it's quite messy indeed trying to blindly screw it on at 45degrees laying on my back with engine oil spilling over the filter, all over my hand and down my arm, pooling in the elbow of my coat. 


Oil change successfully done, sparkle plugs removed again, cleaned again and replaced again because it won't start again, and a lucky can of kseal bunged in with coolant for good luck...




...and I'm ready to start her up. If it's not running ok after all that then it's definitely HGF:
















Oh Bollocks.

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Yeah, so it's definitely, definitely OMGHGF. I have the full set of symptoms:


*loss of coolant
*rapid build up of pressure in coolant
*fumy coolant
*mayo under rocker cover
*difficult to start and idle due to pressure loss

*steam from the exhaust


What to do now? The head gasket kit and a set of new head bolts is about £100 so I've got those in:




My mechanic bloke reckoned about £500 in labour, but he couldn't fit it in for several weeks. That's a lot of money, so I have to make the decision whether to tackle it myself or get it done by him. It sounds like a daunting job. I've never tackled anything even remotely similar to this before, so I need to decide if I'm better off throwing either money, or a combination of time, ignorance, hope and inexperience at it.


Here was my thinking about the pros/cons of doing it myself vs getting it done:


Reasons to get it done by my trusted mechanic:
He knows what he's doing, I know it would be done well and I would be confident the car will run well afterwards
I'll have car back on the road asap.
It feels like quite a daunting job for a relative beginner like me.
I imagine I could easily bugger it up and cause other problems along the way due to lack of experience. Or not?
If he does it I will be able to spend my time doing other work on the car that I know I can do quickly and/or well, like sorting trim, paint, rust etc.
If I do it and it takes ages, I might miss plenty of good weather opportunities to use car.
The car has been off the road for 3 months already, and I really want to enjoy driving it again asap.
I've already removed/refitted the alternator and swapped over the radiator, I've done a coolant flush and an oil change and these are big achievements already for someone who has only ever changed a wheel before, and I feel like maybe I've had enough of spannering for a while.
I imagine I'll still need to get head sent away for skim/check over/whatever if I do it myself so it will still cost money AND time.


Reasons to do it myself:
Will be good opportunity to take on a big challenge.
May have intermittent help from a chum who is an AA person, but I might have to wait for it because of shifts, his family commitments, etc.
I did justify buying the car on the basis that I was going to learn how to do stuff like this.
Ill learn lots along the way.
Immense feeling of satisfaction at a job well done. If I manage to do it well, that is.
£500 is a lot of money


Over the Easter break I thought about it and decided, as they say around these parts, 'WCPGW?'



So a cocktail of time, ignorance, hope and inexperience it is then!

I started on Sunday after doing as much reading up as I could, and getting a couple of very kind offers of help from 924OC members with putting it all back together again and sorting timing, etc.

I spent about 4 hours on Sunday, which was mostly removing hoses and electrical connectors, but I also disconnected the fuel lines, injectors, distributor, timing and alternator belts and a whole load of other things that I don't know what they are, but they are in the way of getting the head off.


Before photo:




Bits removed so far:




About halfway in I reckon:




Bolts I've sheered so far:




I think it's all going OK, but it's very stressful spending so much time out of my comfort zone. It's quite tiring not knowing what you're doing or trying things for the first time with the constant threat of hurting yourself or breaking something, having to constantly anticipate what might be about to go wrong.


A general underlying issue is that I don't know what a lot of the stuff is that I'm removing, or what it does. It would slow the job down massively if I stopped to read up on everything I looked at to find out what it did. On the order of work list I have it says 'Remove the fuel manifold' or 'Disconnect the cold start value fuel lines' but I've no idea what or where these are. I can mostly see what needs removing, and work out what order to do it in, but it would be much quicker if I knew what everything was and what it did, and what the significance was of what I was doing. Haynes does assume quite a lot of prior knowledge so it's only helpful if you already know a fair bit.


I also took the timing belt cover into work, sandblasted it and then did a super shitty job of Hammeriting it. 








Has Hammerite changed in the last decade or so? I remember previously putting it on thick (to the point just before it sags) and it levelling off beautifully with all brush marks disappearing, despite looking a mess when wet. It's dried a bit of a mess. I'm hoping for a miracle with the second coat. To be fair though, I was rushing, tired and doing it in semi darkness. It's still the devil's paint though.



Still left to do, remove the inlet manifold, sheer the bolts holding the downpipe to the exhaust manifold, then get the head bolts off and have a look inside. Hope it's nice weather tomorrow.

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I'm really impressed you've got some balls.. But would I lose my bottle on stuff like that especially as your relying on the Haynes book of lies and cups of tea to see you through to the end, and I would of only got to the introduction page of the Haynes manual where it says " the Porsche 924 is a practical 2 seat sports car"


I don't mind doing a bit servicing and light repairs to my car but to do a head gasket is like witchcraft to me with all those valves and timing things going on.


Will you have to strip the head down to its bare bones to send it away for a skim and pressure test and clean as I guess it will need new valve stem oil seals etc.


It's going to be one lovely car when done and I've noticed that in the last couple of years the 924 is only going up in price as you have trouble finding a decent low mileage rot free example now for under 2 grand.


I nearly bought a nice straight one a couple of years back for a grand (couldn't get the money in time) but that's an impossible find now.. And White is the colour everyone wants ( although I wanted a metallic brown one for some reason)..

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Thanks Vince, Taff and others for your kind comments.


Although the thought of tackling the head gasket frightens the life out of me (I'd honestly only ever changed a wheel on a car before I joined here 18 months ago) the way I see it ,I've got nothing to lose. I would have had to wait a few weeks for the paying someone option, so in that time I could have a go, and if it goes wrong all I've done is saved myself some labour cost.


I know I mention the 924 Owners Club a lot, but honestly the encouragement and support I've had over there is what really convinced me to have a go at it. At the moment all I've done is remove stuff. I KNOW I'm not going to be able to get it all back together without help, but like I said, if all I do is take everything apart then I've probably saved myself about 3-4 hours of mechanics labour. Everything is bagged, labelled and documented (about 75 photos so far) so anyone else could see what goes back on where if necessary.


And I've learned loads already about what all this engine stuff is and what it does. And that's what I really get out of doing it, more than saving money. I read loads on here about what you chaps and lady chap do, and I have no idea how to do most of it, but I suppose you all started by giving a go at some point.


The down side of all this is that the car's been off the road since New Year's Day, and although I'm sort of enjoying working on it, given the choice I'd still prefer to be in it than under it.

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You'll feel like a man when you get it done, good on you.


When you take pipes and hoses off, make sure you label each end to make it easier to replace them.  Interesting you say the 924OC have been good, I found them pretty much hopeless when I was trying to fix the misfire.  There was lots of pub talk about the engines being simple, but almost nobody knew what connections went where and how I should fix it.

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