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Fumbler

Fumbler's Crocks: 31/07 ~Gallic Charm

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To mark the genesis of my fleet project thread I here present my new car: a 1997 Nissan Micra Shape-

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It really looks that good. There is a reason for this: its previous owner was an old lady who loved the thing so much so she made every effort to keep it in good shape. It originally came from Fleet in the GU postcode which suggests to me it was bought by the present dealer at auction, hence arriving down here in Kent. Before seeing the car I checked its MOT history and its only fails were thanks to broken stoplights, which shows me that it was very well cared for. I suppose an example of this was that on the last MOT, an advisory was a corroded rear silencer. The silencer on the car when I saw it was new. Methinks the lady wanted to keep it as good as possible. It was kept in a garage and so all the bumpers and black trim are very black and the tyres are in very good condition. Spare never used! Also included a free Dettol first aid kit from 1997.
This car has 15000 genuine miles on the clock. We clocked over 15000 during the test drive! The lady owner really only trundled around her village in it and the MOT shows that it only did some meagre miles between tests. This, of course, came at a price. We saw a cherry red Micra from 2002 at the same dealer. Paint was shoddy and when they washed it the boot had massive sections of bare metal and it wasn't very happy. This car, however, is in fabulous condition and there was no contest between the two cars- it really is that good, inside and out. Immaculate interior, driver's airbag, cassette player... all there and all functioning (apart from cassette thanks to new battery and failed display). This meant that I bought it for £1600, £100 over what was my uppermost limit, but I knew I wouldn't see another like this that was in as good shape for a fair while. It was priced very ambitiously, at £1990, so I'm content in the fact I managed to slash a few hundred off the price. There wasn't that much paperwork though. All the dealership received was the logbook with 3 service stamps from 1998, 1999 and 2000, the radio key pass, a National Trust sticker, and the original paperwork holder. I suspect the old lady died and had her car auctioned, and the massive file of paperwork is now someone's egg carton, along will everything else she owned.


As always, this car isn't exactly in showroom condition. While the inside is great and the floor is solid, and the underseal is in great shape, the not undersealed parts need a small looking at. Mainly the rear of the driver's side sill. It's really the only bubbling on the car. I suspect a well aimed stonechip managed to fester over the wintery salted roads, making it rust even more. It's around the size of a 5p piece, and will give me the opportunity to spray the insides of the sill with some chain oil to prevent any further corrosion. Behind the fuel tank there are a few rusty joints- places where the spraygun cannot get paint onto- which some Vactan and Dynax should put to rights. Alternator belt looks original because of the cracking and Nissan badges and will need doing soon as well as the front plate. As much as I like the 90's font and original dealer surround, the dishevelled R and general water ingress is a persistant MOT advisory. It could be the MOT station being strict (and most likely is considering there's a Saxo down the road with far worse blackening), however for the sake of peace of mind and all that, I'll get a new one made. The rear has already been replaced indicating this has happened before.

All in all, I think this is a nice plucky motor. I'll have it by the end of the week; just got to sort out tax, insurance, and it's going to have an MOT. As part of the deal it's getting the MOT and an oil and filter change which will be something ticked off the list. It has some love scratches and chips here and there, but it drives well, is stiff and controllable, and should make out to be a nice summer project!

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Just now, Amishtat said:

Be ruthless with the rust while it's just little scabs and with a bit of maintenence that should run forever 

Indeed I shall. It's at the top of my list along with the head unit. If it's a fuse then that's great. If it's a failed LCD then it's going to be more annoying. At least I can play cassettes but tuning the radio without any onscreen dial will be near impossible.

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4 minutes ago, jumpingjehovahs said:

Never thought I’d say this but that Micra is gorgeous. It wears the silver well too.

Well bought!

Why, thank you! It's a cracker.

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I'll tell you when I get to look at it again. In fact the car's so fresh the engine bay gold finish metal brakets are still gold colour and are still shiny. It's very clean. Also came with roadside toolkit which will have a set of spares in the unit from my sister's shagged X reg Micra. Father Fumbler took the kit out when it was bridged and turned into fridge panels. Funnily enough the spare tyre was missing in that car.... along with most of the floor.

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I'll be honest I hated these when they were new. Seemed to be the "sensible" choice for every old fart who had no interest in cars. My opinion has changed now that they're a relatively rare sight and I can see the appeal. A brilliant buy, well done. Always worth paying slightly over the odds to secure a nice example of something.

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14 hours ago, Amishtat said:

What's the garage name on the plates? Can't quite read it.. Have a well bought from me too, these are great little things 

Cecil & Larter of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. They were a major player for Nissan (and before that, Volvo) in the town.

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43 minutes ago, greengartside said:

Cecil & Larter of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. They were a major player for Nissan (and before that, Volvo) in the town.

Seems good for me. I'll check against its front plate for good measure.

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Vehicle insured and will be taxed upon collection and final buyage tomorrow. Seriously looking forward to it and getting things sorted on it!

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Great little car :smile:

We had a 1.3 one of those for years until the CVT autobox died. Fun little things that feel surprisingly modern to drive. Not that common on the steel wheels with the little hub caps either.

Handling is a bit wobbly but it just adds to the enjoyment !

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Collected car today. Still very nice and spritely. Here are some pics to drool over!

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As you can see it is very clean. Got progressively dirtier as the centre console airvents spat out old leaves and bits of its own vent filter foam.

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Unused spare, but the roadside repair kit was used at some point.

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Found this relic in the boot as well!

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As you can see, one faint section of the LCD can be seen so this is a display failure. Given how old the vehicle is the carbon ribbon that gives the black characters should have detached from a copper ribbon, instead of becoming detached from its bonding agent like in later models. This should mean it's less of a headache to repair. If all fails, getting a radio (with code) from another pre-1998 model will work just fine. Later models have the radio linkes with the immobiliser ID and will not work in another car.

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Grot spot #1, the only bubbly rust on the top side of the car.

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Here's the real problem, this 5p sized bit. Will need to cut out, then pour some old ATF down into the void, and then reseal with some new metal. Will ask an-man-with-an-welder to do that because I cannot weld yet. THe jacking points on this side have been used as the other sill isn't rusty like this one.

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The factory sprayed underseal is doing very well. Just needs some care at the seams and everywhere the paint gun couldn't get to. Fortunately, it's quite clean under here!

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On the passenger side it's quite the opposite story. Instead, the suspension mounts are in good shape thanks to the oil from the old shocks and other oily things (they were replaced because of this). This sill has a few creases like this, and I can't figure out why! I thought it might be a manufacture defect, but now I'm not so sure.

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And here's the engine bay. All is very, very clean and shiny. Even the plated steel is still plated and golden!

 

Unfortunately, the Jenolite I had on order was refused because Grandmother hadn't updated her card details. SHould be here by tomorrow though so I can begin to clean and derust where its needed most. I can see why the rear suspension mounts rot away really quickly; they just weren't painted very well from the get-go on my car, and perhaps many others. Will need mats and some door armrest-y handle things. They've completely degraded.

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It's in bloody good nic ! Earlier type dash too.

The sills always go, they had no proper drain holes. Sunroof cars are the worst.

That sill damage is weird, I wonder if someone has used a jack of some sort on the edge?

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Whatever it is, it's in nowhere near as bad shape as the other side. I was prepared for blowing sills and am very happy I can nip this in the bud. I took the rear plate off this evening to see if they did any screwhole sealing. Nope. two sets of holes, one for the old one and another set for the new, with no paint etc so its all a bit bubbly around the screwholes. Blew WD-40 into the holes, the smeared copious amounts of Vaseline around and in the holes and on the screws. The heat of the day should mean it self heals and creeps into where necessary. Put WD-40 into the drain holes on the boot and in the latch access port for good measure, then closed it and let all excess fluids drain out- helped me get the bumper to a nice shine! I'll go about this practice again with some proper Dynax S-50 or Fluid Film which is designed for this stuff.

I also noticed the passenger side creased sill has a different (and much better) shade of silver applied to it, indicating it's most likely a new sill, and why those creases aren't becoming the hotbeds of corrosion like they should be. Genolite will be here tomorrow, meaning I can attack the rust situation. What's nice is that a chemically bonded polymer coating forms on the outside of the reacted rust converter which helps aid in future paint or underseal coatings. I would have preferred Vactan, but decided not to because Amazon Prime convenience and Grandmother wanting to gift it something, therefore having the product for free, essentially.

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If you plan to keep it, bung some wayoyl or something similar in the front crossmember. They rust out in no time usually at the edges. I've seen some really nice looking cars where that's buggered. Oddly doesn't seem to often be an MOT fail but worth keeping good as it must do something for strength.

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I'll be putting it on ramps at some point. Right now I'm crawling under the rear and applying Jenolite again because suspension mounts. The stuff actually worked, just 9 hours after the expected drying time, and in low temperatures so it just doesn't evaporate off. It seems doing it in the evenings is the best time to do it. After doing some research about crossmember problems I'm just hoping mine's not too bad. It did sit for a while so I'll be smearing some Dynax UB all over that at the earliest opportunity. Since my car has no PAS, it shouldn't be an MoT failure, however some places are stricter than others. As the MOT station the lady always went to was strict as anything and this hasn't come up, I'm feeling hopeful that my problem's wont result in me having to spend ages drilling out spot welds and worrying.

Edited by Fumbler
"Spearing" is definitely not the same as "smearing"

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Had a peek at the front crossmember yesterday. Not too bad at all. Only two 2mm wide holes on the bottom. It's had some repairs done to it in the past, but it's still solid as anything. The seams and everything look as good as the car, which is a nice sign. I couldn't cram Dynax into the seams because it's a bumper removal job and that would have had me working until 10:00PM just to get the bleeding thing off.

With all things considered, the bad parts were in easy reach.

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This is after the undertrays were fitted. The entire bottom section has been slathered to within an inch of its life with underseal, after copious amounts of rust converter. This will be a good test to see if the situation is stopped dead. The underseal has some pretty strong anti-corrosion stuff in it too so it'll arrest what was left behind by the Jenolite.  

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The sills weren't spared either. The final third of the sills on a Micra go and go badly so this should stop it. Fortunately, my sills aren't in bad shape.

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Here's the rear well with the blowing seams sealed and neutralised. Once I get an aerosol version I'll go over the suspension mounts. This stuff is thick as filler, and so a filler knife and stirring stick was used to apply the stuff. When I put this on ramps and when I have the aerosol I'll be able to get into all the nooks and crannies which a brush cannot get to. It also means I can spray into all of the voids and make them good too. This is really the only work that is needed on this car and I hope this will put that at bay for a decent amount of time. Up next will be a brake inspection and a gearbox oil change if I'm feeling rich.

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That looks amazingly clean.  I'll see about grabbing some mats and get them sent or relayed over. Where abouts are you in the country?

Also, K12 Micra CD players fit and work just as well as anything else if you want a more a slightly more modern music format but looking just as OEM:

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Also getting a code is easy and free albeit it might take a couple of days. Got mine from a Micra owners forum.

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Not enough replies here, considering it is in near-timewarp condition and shite.

If you stuck a mid-90s head unit in, it would be pretty reminiscent of someone's first car in the late 90s. Actually belongs to mum and dad, named driver on the insurance, upgraded head unit and home-made sub in the boot. But still a bit embarrassing to be seen in. Job done.

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With the help from Micra forums and eBay, I might just as well get another (and more fully featured) K11 headunit. The other can then go to recycling.

As I turned the car around last night, I can now look at the other side. All is well with the strangely creased sill, and the suspension mount and box sections are looking as good as the other side; some peeling underseal and the usual corrosion in the unpainted areas. I've given it the same rust converter treatment, although it's not really necessary because of what Bilt-Hamber puts in their undercoatings, but it gives me peace of mind.

I also labelled the oil filter with the date of replacement. That'll help me schedule when I need to do it again. It also enabelled me to look at the rear of the front crossmember which is in perfect condition. Once my Dynax S-50 arrives it'll be getting some of that. Got invited to lunch at a friend's so the Micra will be my car of choice for travel!

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That cross member looks good.

Nice little Micra you've got there. Change the oil regularly & keep on top of any rust & it'll just run & run.

Great little cars.

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There will there will. I had to do garden obligations so I nipped out again to put some more converter on and it should be done by the morning. Once I crack open the Dynax again there will be many a picture to come!

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Got to see friends in Chipstead today. Had it on the A21, still a lot of fun to drive, and tt likes to cruise at 60MPH. I'd like to ad a sat-nav but can't really because the car is so basic its cigarette lighter is blanked off. Still contains an ashtray though. With all this considered, it's still a box of mighty win. I might try and snap a calendar candidate photo at some point for the July or August month (Whichever's not done yet!). On the plus side, the engine runs beautifully and starts on the first crank of the engine. I also learned that the induction components and the ECU were made by Bosch. It's nice to work on a car that has uniform manufacturer parts on it (Unlike a certain brother's P38)!

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5 minute job to do this. Was done purely to seal where the underseal had fallen off. On the plus side, the rust converter did a good job on the sills. I'll spray Dynax S-50 in the floor voids and then seal them up with the Dynax UB afterwards. Everywhere else on the suspension mounts will be sprayed as well.

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Was happy to see an access port for the front crossmember. Was also happy to see that thre is easy access to all of the seams so this task should be fairly* simple and will be satisfying once done. I shouldn't have to worry about it until the next MoT.

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Also had a look at the air filter. This is the original air filter and it doesn't look too bad. I flipped it around so the lighter area was facing the intake port to even out the wear.

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These look original and are cracking. So are the tyre sidewalls which isn't nice considering they have a lot of tread on them. I'll do the belts in October or before when I do a half service. Then I'll wait until it's time to drain the oil.

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Oh, and I put the excess of what I had on the filling knife on the bonnet to seal the converted areas. Not really necessary as some S-50 would be better, but hey- every little helps.

 

In general, everything's going well with me and my motor. The next jobs will be washing the car, looking at the break shoes on the rear (not needed but I want to familiarise myself with my car), fixing any chips in the paintwork and putting the rear tyres on the front as they're cracking less. So far, so good.

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    • By dozeydustman
      Mrs Dustman has a dash cam she wants me to fit to her '99 frog face Corolla. It came with a hard wire kit as opposed to the usual fag lighter lead, so I might as well make a decent* job of it and hide the wiring completely. Trouble is I can't remember how I got the radio pod out when I fitted the DAB unit she now has. I've also got a few dash illumination bulbs to change so I might as well do it all in one hit while it's a sunny afternoon.
       
      A bit of googling comes up with the US spec dash which appears to be different from the European model, or the 2002-on model. I seem to remember spudging out the dash vents to access some bolts/rivets.
       
      Failing that, is there an easier place to get a switched live from (besides the radio) that doesn't involve destroying the car's interior?
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