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The Current Driveway... Audi Coupe MOT'd.


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Thanks SP.  I have a fabricator friend, I wasn't going to push it as he's a new Dad, but he's keen to do the job...  As you say, the normal suppliers here weren't very helpful, and certainly not cheap!

He's a car nut too, and a very very good Tig welder/pipe fitter, so it will be to a high standard.   Plan is to get her up on the truck again, remove and give him the old exhaust, he will copy it in stainless, possibly minus the centre silencer(!), and I'll refit over the winter.

I'm sure the villagers will love it just as much as the Trabi...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey y'all.

Nice sunny but cold day here today, so thought I'd swap out the A8's abs sensors. 

Have had an intermittent fault for a wee while, which affects many things in this car, traction control, the parking brake, abs obviously, headlamp levelling (?!), and eventually the speedo, speed-sensitive steering and even the smoothness of the shifting.

Vcds points me in the direction of the left hand two, and although it always resets on startup, and can last a good while before coming back, it's  still annoying.

Easy fix anyway (!), one wee bolt and out they come, right?  No.  Bolt out, and half the sensor!  The long bit is firmly stuck in the hub...


Does explain why it was faulting out at least, looks like they're original and have just gone brittle.


Too cold now, so have left it jacked up for the morning.  Access isn't great, I have tried screwing in to the remains to pull it out that way, but no dice...  

I still have a CV joint to do on this side (is ok, but did the driver's side and always meant to do the pair...) so will just pull the shaft out tomorrow which I think lets me see the other end of this sensor, maybe the bearing has to come out too.  Once I'm at that stage I could just drift the sensors' remains right through, grab and twist from the inner end, or just drill it all out I suppose.



Gradually replacing a lot of the running gear on this car I suppose, that's all the wheel bearings, drop links, cv's, tyres, control arm bushes...  None of it has stopped progress though, and it has really racked up some miles at the same time. 

Passed the MOT no bother at all too, and I'd really be lost without it now.  It's just too comfy and easy, must be going soft in my old age, need some Trabant miles!  

Cheers all.

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Ever wondered how to grab and remove a  broken bit of abs sensor from an A8 hub?

Wonder no more...






Apply hammering and swearing techniques as required.

New one went in no bother.

Test drive completed, a good twenty minute run and no lights/beeps.  Happy days.

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  • 2 weeks later...

323 FTP.

For the first time in our ownership, the wee Maz has failed.  Got the call on Thursday afternoon that it had guffed out a load of blue smoke and made a funny noise.  On arrival I checked the oil and had to pour in 2 litres of Mobil's finest to hit the mark.  In the time we've had it, not a drop of oil has been consumed...


Hoping against hope for no serious damage, I turned the key and she started and ran as normal, but smokey.  She drove home no bother, and took me to work and back the next day without fuss too.  I was thinking I'd been remiss in not checking the oil, and with it doing more miles these days, it had just got to a critically low level. 

But oh no...


Water in the oil, and toffee sauce for coolant...


Lovely.  My suspicions were raised last night when I lost the heater on the way home.

Head gasket set on order, £100 all in with the valve stem seals included apparently.  She will ride again!  

All this means it's surfin' time again.  The old jeep will be pressed into commuting duties for me again, while Mrs Trab uses the A8.  In preparation, I want to oil up the bottom (oooohhh err) tomorrow, so she sits rinsed off, wheels off ready...



Once that's done, I'll move the Mazda in and start stripping/ flushing all the crap out, god knows how long the kit will take to arrive...

Quite looking forward to the head gasket job really, haven't done any real engine work in ages.  We'll do the cambelt at the same time, and the boys and I will learn a lot I'm sure.  

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  • TrabbieRonnie changed the title to The Current Driveway... Mazda 323 FTP!

Work commencement...


Intake assembly, thermostat and radiator removed, and everything flushed out.  All works have been carried out by my eldest, who has his theory test on Monday night, so motivation is high!  

This occurred while my youngest was changing the front pads on the Surf, so it's fair to say I've added two to the 'shiter population!

The plan is to carry on tomorrow, and await the arrival of the new gasket set.  With so much out of the way, we're going to take the opportunity to clean and tidy up the engine bay.  Under consideration is a GTi-red or Mazda racing blue rocker cover with white lettering, for extra speed/style points.

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Bit further in today, taking it slowly (trying to let the young 'uns see what's what, and the gasket set isn't here yet anyway).  


Exhaust manifold and fuel rail/injector assembly are off.  Not too much mayonnaise, just a wee bit on the inside of the rocker cover, which is in my boot on its way to the work's parts washer tomorrow...


Cambelt cover and belt off next I guess, so I should have a squizz at the HBOL for the timing marks.  I see there's a wee access hole in the inner wing for undoing the crank pulley, nice one Mazda!  

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a very disappointing weekend weather-wise, we decided to do a bit tonight, and so the wee Mazda is inching closer to the road again...


Couldn't reach the last nut holding the intake manifold/throttle body thing onto the head, so pulled it all off together.


Number three cylinder has seen things... and number four has collected some crud too.


Number three on right, below...


Others seem happy though,


so over the course of the week we plan to clean everything up (a lot of engine bay sprucing is planned while access is so good), and I'll be Denso-taping everything in sight!  

All good so far then, but we haven't had a good look at the cylinder head yet, hopefully no crackage/warpage has occurred.  Will see tomorrow night, I'd forgotten how much fun* it is working with crap light in the cold, and have come in for a cup of tea. 

Did make a friend tho'...


Cheers all.


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Made the most of the snow yesterday with jeep...


Was very beautiful round here and much fun was had.


More snow today, so got a chance to test the Audi's newish Rainsports on it for the first time.  They're not a winter tyre tread pattern, but I think they are a softer compound, they were great!




I had to make a decision on tyres that would do for all year, as they're not the cheapest on this size wheel.  So far, so good.  

Too bloody cold for headgasket replacement on the wee Maz unfortunately, or I'm just getting soft now I'm behind a desk all week!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some more progress on Mazda today ( the local mechanics are not exactly quaking at my lightning speed repairs!), head back on and torqued down.  New gasket was perfect, which was nice...


Temporarily shoved the old belt back on (I'd left it on the crankshaft pulley), and turned her over to check for valve crunch... all good.  Can't get the crank bolt off to remove the guide that holds the belt in place, it went dark so soaked in WD and will attack again another day.

New exhaust manifold gasket too, love seeing new bits going on old cars.  A decision has been made on the rocker cover, I hope the following images don't offend any previous keepers...!



It will match the new wheels, in Ford's Solar Gold.  You only get one first car!

Cheers all.

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1 hour ago, TrabbieRonnie said:

Some more progress on Mazda today ( the local mechanics are not exactly quaking at my lightning speed repairs!), head back on and torqued down.  New gasket was perfect, which was nice...


Temporarily shoved the old belt back on (I'd left it on the crankshaft pulley), and turned her over to check for valve crunch... all good.  Can't get the crank bolt off to remove the guide that holds the belt in place, it went dark so soaked in WD and will attack again another day.

New exhaust manifold gasket too, love seeing new bits going on old cars.  A decision has been made on the rocker cover, I hope the following images don't offend any previous keepers...!



It will match the new wheels, in Ford's Solar Gold.  You only get one first car!

Cheers all.

Gold was good enough for Mitsubishi on the Magma engines after all!

Should look tidy actually I think.  Shouldn't stand out too much once everything is back in place.

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Well, bollocks...

Mazda all back together again, and running smoothly... but smoky.

Guessing they put the valve stem seals in the headgasket set for a reason then!  I didn't touch them on the basis that it wasn't using oil (like, none...) beforehand, but maybe they get damaged when the head gasket goes?  Or they don't like sitting idle for a month while I get around to finishing the job, maybe?!!

Going to buy a compressor tool to do them without lifting the head again, hopefully someone local will have one in stock.  

Bit annoying given it has taken so long to get this job done with work commitments and the weather totally against me, but hey ho, that's old cars!  




Had hoped it was just burning the small amount of oil I'd put in the cylinders to avoid a dry start, but after a good half hour running it's not going away.  Anyone used one of these wee spring compressors that they'd recommend?  Couple of different types available online, they all look a bit fiddly, but there may be one better than the others?  

Cheers all.

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I've heard of a trick where you stuff rope into the plug hole to stop the valves dropping out while you change valve guides. Not tried it myself but sounds doable. You'd have to be a bit selective on the type of rope to find something soft and pliable enough to get into the crannies. 

I do like that Mazda though, so don't let us down! Good winter spannering by you and your offspring. 

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Thanks both, and apologies for the delayed response.  For some reason I didn't get a notification of your replies. 

Cheapo valve spring compressor has arrived and following some slight fettling (the Mazda's 16 valve installation is quite compact and bijou!), works well.  X2 exhaust valves resealed so far, as we now get so little time before the sun goes down (I'm off work next week, so will be easier).  It's not even the lack of light, it's the plummeting temperature that accompanies the darkness... you can't feel your feet after a while!

I'm using the rope in the hole trick btw, would recommend.


Anyway, for indoor tinkering, we have another wee project...


A 1970's Tecnomoto Paciugo!  Little kids twist & go thing, that came fitted with a beautiful wee Franco Morini motor...  sadly a knowledgeable machine shop will be required to get that going again, the crankshaft is damaged where the Woodruff key engages the magneto bit.  

So, I gave my youngest budding engineer a Chinese 80cc lump (designed for fitting to a pushbike) for his birthday, to see if we could get her going...

So far so good, chain alignment is fine in the position shown, and the required brackets have been prototyped in cardboard, for me to make up in steel tomorrow at work. 


Bit of fun, both in the making and (hopefully), razzing round the woods before too long!  It's a bike that only ever really ran a few times when the kids were the right size for it, but we all fell in love with it anyway!  I've even seen them push it up some fair hills just to freewheel down!

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  • TrabbieRonnie changed the title to The Current Driveway... Mazda 323 inching closer to the road... bonus old mini dirtbike content!

Hi all,

Little Mazda still not happy, running well but smoky still.  I don't think cylinder number 3 is managing to keep the oil out.

It isn't the classic stem seal symptom of blue oil on startup (new stem seals fitted anyway), rather a blue/grey smoke that gets progressively worse whilst running.  Exhaust smells very fuelly/burnt oil.

I have flushed and changed the oil again, and she has fresh fuel in the tank.  EDIT: also replaced the pcv valve, which was gummed up, no change.

On looking at the plugs, no.3 was sooty and wet.  I have replaced them this morning (with the Audi Coupe's no less), and after a day's running it has sooted up no.3 again.  Others are perfect.  During the head gasket failure, it was this cylinder that bore the brunt, and was very carbonned up.

I have been reading up, and suspect the carbon deposits formed when the hg blew have gummed up the oil control ring.  This is apparently quite common on BMW's?  I think that the longer it's running, the more sooty it gets until that cylinder stops firing, and just pumps out oil and unburnt fuel. 

Have a shite picture of the oily/fuelly brew that she's cooking up at the mo...


Anyway, I saw a vid where they poured a small quantity of Redex into the cylinders, and allowed it to soak overnight.  The rings were thus  un-gummed, and after spinning the excess Redex out of the spark plug holes and refitting the plugs all was well. 

I have done this, and will report back tomorrow.  Otherwise, I'm in the realms of pulling pistons for new rings etc.  I have a newly legal young driver here itching to get going too!


The wee bike now has its engine fitted btw, and should exhaust fabrication go well, we should have that up and running tomorrow.  If the forecast wintry weather allows of course!  I'm off work this week, so plenty of mechanic-ing time for once!


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When my first Sera popped a head gasket the Toyota garage said £800ish to fix or £1100 with the head rebuilt too. I erred on the side of cheapskate, and lo and behold, smoked like a chimney.

They were very nice about it and didn't charge the whole job over again to do the stem seals...

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Yeah, I'm hoping I don't regret not doing a full head job, ie lapping the valves in and new guides etc...  Doesn't seem like valve leakage to me (there's too much smoke I think), but we'll see!  I did do the stem seals btw.

It hasn't cost much except time at this stage, the gasket kit was £20 quid, oil and coolant of course (plus a few quid in paint for the rocker cover!). 

If it needs more in depth work, I know a great machine shop in town, that we use at work.  It's a great wee car, and we are all very fond of it, so it's future is secured!

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Well, I give up... I can't get her to stop smoking, I think I have a 'well-and-truly' stuck oil control ring on number three cylinder.  Just too much oil through it when the hg went I guess.  After any length of time running (starts and runs great btw), the spark plug gets fouled and eventually she stops firing on that pot.  (Great spark, ignition ok as far as I can tell).

New engine gasket set and set of piston rings on order, and a new plan...

1.  Cylinder head off again, and off to town for 'the works'... no farting about this time.

2.  While that's happening, pistons out for inspection/new rings.  The cylinder bores looked immaculate when I was in there, so not expecting to have to do much in there?

As ever, any and all input welcome, can I just re-use the big end bearing shells?  Very smooth running engine on around 100,000 miles.

Cheers all.


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I'd think to dissolve the oil you would need something a bit more aggressive than RedEx.  Straight diesel/paraffin would probably be my first try as that should be more inclined to creep around the rings and should actively dilute and dissolve any oil deposits.  Worth a shot if you haven't already anyway.

Regarding the crank bearing shells, I think they should answer that question for you themselves when you pull them off.  If they look fine I'd probably be inclined to leave them well enough alone.  However if there's any signs of significant wear or damage I'd probably plan on dropping a set in - assuming they're not impossible or stupidly expensive for that engine anyway.

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18 minutes ago, bezzabsa said:

Think auto tranny fluid is the Go to in this instance, well if the Yanks are to be believed...

Yes, saw that and have tried it.  There's more in there now, as we've nothing to lose at this point! 

Will keep trying until the weekend, when I plan to get her up on the ramps (to make room for getting the sump off, pistons out etc.), and remove the cylinder head for despatch to the machine shop next week.

Another wee toy arrived today, a diagnostic kit for it!  There is no light provided on the dash (pre-obd 1 or2), so you need an led and a jumper cable to interrogate the wee diagnostic port under the bonnet.  Will be counting the flashes tomorrow, mainly for shits and giggles, as I doubt a sensor fault has resulted in the current smoking issue!


In other news, and to cheer us all up, we had some fun up in the woods with the wee Paciugo today...


Chinese 80cc all installed and running well, although a fair bit less power than the KX80 to put it mildly!  Revved a lot easier with the air intake assembly removed, and incredibly easy to start (bump start only on these units).

Managed to fettle a better exhaust on ( can't remember where it came from, but I never throw anything away!), Which has helped I'm sure...


Great fun, and nice to see one of their favourite old toys come back to life.  It'll sit around mainly waiting for the Grandkids to appear now I suppose!


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Just in from our daily Mazda fettling session...  Started and ran smoothly (but smoky) despite the minus whatever temperature we have here this morning. 

Once up to temp, we shut her off and removed plug number 3 to allow a fresh dose of ATF.  This time, a lot of smoke came wafting out of the cylinder...  could this mean that gunk is starting to soften/move around?  I poured in the next dose, and could hear and see it bubbling away in there.  We gave her a rock back and forth in gear to wiggle the piston and will see what tomorrow brings.  Where there's life there's hope.

After that we gave the diagnostic led a whirl, which worked perfectly (it was made for a MK1 mx-5, but I thought it'd be similar as the engines are closely related). 


Via a series of Morse code flashes, it informed us of one trouble code, the O2 sensor.  Totally expected given the amount of oil it's been exposed to lately.

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Waiting for Mazda parts (and Seafoam, which I hear is some miracle piston-ring-gunge-softening-wonder-fluid, just in case!), is well boring...  so serviced the old jeep.

Library image...


The old girl repayed this kindness with a sheared alternator adjustment lock-off bolt... dissimilar metal corrosion and hooning around in the mudsnow are, I suspect, equally to blame.  I had noticed slightly squeally belts, and so this service included their replacement.

The sheared bit of bolt remained entombed in the the alternator lug when I removed the rest, which was literally hanging by a thread.  I was staring down the barrel here, potentially having to remove the alternator/drill out remains/refit and bolt up with a nut on the back, which all seemed very tedious with night time encroaching rapidly.  I engaged 'thinking outside the box' mode, and started bodging.

The bracket that includes the adjuster rail for the alternator is a big old lump, as it used to carry the long departed air con compressor, that I launched when it got in the way years ago. 

(It is pictured below on a genuine factory Trabant rubber floor mat, especially for Jim Bell)...


This seemed like a good bit of weight-saving, and with my Nurburgring lap time foremost on my mind as always, this too got launched ( into the garage though, not the bin).

Replaced with...


That's right, it's a set screw with a specially notched head to lock into a perfectly placed notch on the alternator!  I know right!  The other end is screwed into a set of three nuts (welded together) to provide suitable adjustment of length.  This end located in another perfectly placed notch in the engine block!  It's solid as a rock!  Will the MOT man notice?  Will he mind if he does?  Who can tell?!  

I have completed 57.4 miles since, and all is well.  I do, however, promise to fix it properly in the summer...


Big Audi threw a bit of a wobbler on a day trip to Nairn (fastest town in Scotland), refusing to demist the windows, in fact making it worse when use of the blower was attempted.  

Turns out there is a water trap under the blower motor, from which I removed about half a litre.  I used a bit of thin flexible pipe from my oil-sucker 2000, and an empty screenwash bottle to suck it out.  Audi, I like the car a lot, but that is the worst bit of car design I have ever seen.  Just making a car the water stays outside of should be possible by now?!  No pictures, as dark/hungry/last day of holiday bad mood car fixing.

Library image...


It weighs this many kgees, if you were wondering btw.


Cheers all.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all, had a shock FTPATCP (failure to proceed at the correct speed) in the jeep!  It went into limp mode, I didn't know it could!

A wee hesitation on the way to work one day, and a reluctance to change into top were the first signs of trouble.  The next morning, while bowling along in the dark, the engine dropped to 1200 rpm, and would not rev higher.  This led to a very frustrating time for following lorries while I crawled to the next layby (just south of Rothes, if you're interested...).

Turning off and on again worked for a wee while, but things didn't really improve.  Thinking along throttle/fuel lines, I cast my eyes along the intake side of things and noticed the following...


Tucked away under the UFO looking thing, is a throttle position sensor, who knew?!


The engine ran so well that I knew it wasn't anything mechanical, it just wasn't listening to instructions.  I think the above sensor has a tired bit at '58mph' setting.  I was surprised to find all this out as the ol' girl has a cable operated throttle, but apparently altering the air side of things has very little impact on acceleration in a diesel, it's all down to fuelling.  Controlled in the Surf's case, by an ecu connected to the TPS. 

Nursed her along until last Saturday, when I removed/excercised/cleaned out the offending part, and she's now going great guns again.  I did order a used but shinier one to keep in the shed for eleventy-three years, or the next hiccup, whichever comes soonest.

To celebrate normal service resumption, the kids removed the poor old thing's air filter to make her sound like a Supra (surprisingly close, actually), and fraped her round the woods a wee bit...

A week has now passed, and the fix has remained good, even today's MOT was passed without much pain.  Advisories were limited to a rusty brake bias valve/line, and a leaky engine.  The cambelt is 10,000kms away from replacement, and I plan to sort the front crank seal at the same time.  Not much is getting past, but she does go from max to min on the dipstick between services now.

Also on my own to-do list are balljoints, track rod ends and firstly, new engine mounts.  One side looks to have collapsed, giving a slight vibration at idle, in drive.  All parts here now, so if work doesn't intrude too much, should at least get the mounts done this weekend.

Moody pic, cheers all...




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  • TrabbieRonnie changed the title to The Current Driveway... Audi Coupe MOT'd.

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