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Panda Alessi: Avril Lagreen

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9 minutes ago, anonymous user said:

You aren't having it delivered by Herpes are you?

It's been delivered in a fancy car.




@mk2_craig messaged me over the weekend to offer a door-to-door courier service.


I'm going back over to Jersey in a few weeks to collect hopefully. 

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Fuck me. 

The ferry exists, flights exist and a train exists. Getting them all lined up? Not happening.  I have to leave on the Sunday and come back on a Monday. There is a Monday train and plane. But the window to make the airport is not worth the risk.


Here's my itinerary. It is indeed a train, a plane and an automobile.... And a fucking boat.

Sunday 13th:  1st class train to Kings Cross.  Loiter in London for 4 hours, which isn't soo bad except there's a fucking pandemic.... Gatwick to Jersey flight

Monday. The ferry arrives back at 7:45pm and a one shot home. ?

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My mountain biking mate reckons there is an orange Alessi here, been in a barn for years.




However.  From some Freedom of Information stuff to do with the vehicle register we can see there's only the one "Alessi" - but I take the point made a while back that they may be more likely to be registered as Eleganza, which turns up some orange ones:




So, um, yeah.  Anyway here's an orange Panda what I saw on Saturday.



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Part 1


So last week I unexpectedly found myself


with an estate car and a day to kill before the return ferry trip to Jersey.

Arrangements were made:


and an axle was transferred from the interior of the 4x4 where it had apparently resided for the best part of half a year.  Port was achieved for the 06:00 Thursday morning departure:


The boat journey was horrible, and I was much unwell.  Here's a photo my cunt bastard travelling companion took of me lying on the floor and clutching yet another sickbag:


Anyway, I recovered well enough to extract the axle later in the day and place it safely in my garage.


Sunday morning, a quick recce during a bike ride to check out the car's position (on some lovely hardstanding = good) and the condition of the various fastners/fittings that would need to be touched to swap the rear beam over.


My mate Ed seemed reluctant to get involved, but I reckon he can't resist the thought of resuscitating something that is at risk of being thrown away.  Ed doesn't like having his photo taken.


With a spring unable to be located here on account of the corroded axle, a robust* temporary solution had been employed:


I went home and started pondering how best to tackle the job.  It seemed the best way was to remove the brackets that connected the trailing arms to the body:


By avoiding any disturbance to the car's original brackets, this meant that we could also retain the original flexi hoses on the car, rather than attempting to interrupt the braking circuit and having to deal with fluid pissing out.  In the meantime I kept the new axle's flexis attached, again to minimise the loss of any residual fluid:


This left the trailing arm pivot bolts as being the method by which we would attach the new axle to the brackets, rather than the arguably easier route of fixing the three bracket bolts to the car.  I was a bit anxious about manhandling a hefty axle and lining these up while lying underneath a raised car.


I briefly considered whipping off the hubs to make the axle lighter and easier to lift into place, but ultimately decided against it (see concerns about brake fluid leaking above).


Anyway, Tuesday evening was looking good availability-wise (if not necessarily weather-wise) so we decided to head up to the car and at least start slackening off bolts etc.  I loaded up in case we decided to proceed further:


We arrived and bust out the trolley jack etc:


Slid the new axle underneath to check for size and also for reference





I set about disengaging the handbrake cables, fortunately this was a simple task once the slightly penis-like centre console was out the way:





Meanwhile Ed occupied himself with removing the dampers





This was going well.  I unhooked the ABS sensor wiring and handbrake cables from the various clips and whatnot holding them to the axle brackets and bodyshell, then attached the flexi hose clamps that Ed had purchased specifically for this job, prior to separating the solid brake pipes on the axle side:



This all seemed to work ok and the only thing standing in the way of separating the axle from the car was these two big pivot bolts.  I thought these were likely to give us a bit of grief and indeed they proved to be bastard tight:




However, despite a couple of slipped spanners they soon yielded and it was time to get those axle stands taken out of the equation.  One last look:






Excellent.  Let's take a closer look at that spring cup:


Grim.  What's the other side look like? Ed booted the spring into the field so that inspection could occur:


Not a whole heap better to be fair, that wouldnt have lasted a great deal longer.

Me: "So far so good.  Weathers even held out. Time for a cuppa I think"

Ed: "Did you remember to pick up those flasks then?"

Me: "Fucking rats cocks."

Part 2 to follow!

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To recap then, at 5.20pm on Tuesday evening we found ourselves on a historic farmstead deep in the Jersey countryside.  With the rain holding off and plenty of daylight on our side, the Panda's old axle was on the floor a little over an hour after we arrived.  I took a step back to consider the next steps.


About 90 seconds later we decided just to crack on and see if we could get the new axle bolted on at least, then go from there.  This was the bit with which I thought we might have the biggest war.  I didnt actually get any photos of the car minus axle - we just dived straight in.



Bringing two trolley jacks and two pairs of axle stands (and two skulls) definitely was the best way of approaching this job.  We lifted the axle up to a few inches below the pivot bolt brackets and assessed the situation.



After a little bit of fiddling with both jacks, Ed was able to get his in the hole (chortle) first.  I was worried that this meant the other side was going to be all at the wrong angle with nothing lining up.


Especially seeing as, unlike before, there was a coil spring to overcome in addition to gravity - plus the axle, salvaged from a 2018 model Fiat 500, had the added bonus (and mass) of an integral anti roll bar.


Needn't have fretted though - after a bit of woggling things around I managed to wank the bolt in with nae real bother, and wound on the nut.


All right!  That's the worst bit over with.  Part 3 after this morning's team conference call.

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Part 3.0


Time now was about ten to seven and light was still good.  The temptation to sack off the whole thing and obtain some fast food was strong, but a moment's reflection revealed that we weren't now actually that far off accomplishing the whole thing, so the tools stayed out.  Springs seemed to be sitting ok:


New dampers were the order of the day.





ABS sensor cables and flexi hoses were hooked back up, then we whipped off the clamps in order to bleed the fluid.  This was probably the most satisfying element of the whole endeavour - I hate pissing about with braking circuits and to have got this far with no spills or seized unions was excellent.  Those clamps were a splendid investment and allowed us to leave the solid pipes on the floorpan undisturbed.  We didn't even have to add any new fluid to the reservoir - just as well because we hadn't brought any.


Handbrake cables hooked up again:


All looking pretty good.  Went round and nipped everything up with the torque wrench.





Then it was a simple case of chuck the wheels back on and give the brakes a quick test before dropping back down on the floor.  Nipped up the handbrake a bit, one last check for everything connected as it should, then axle stands away and jack lowered.

Track looks a tad wider (this was visible when comparing the hub carriers)



At a ballhair before 8pm we pushed the old axle underneath temporarily and tidied up.







Finally, before disappearing off and treating ourselves to a well-deserved grease burger each, I swapped in the replacement battery (£12 from the scrapyard) and tried the key:


*** see post with video below from @Aston Martin

On the button!!  What a GR8 wee car.  I'll transfer my insurance over today and gently wake it from rigor mortis during the next week or so.




I must say getting this job done and dusted within two and a half hours was a proper mojo booster, it's given me a real appetite for filling the shite car-shaped hole in my life with something that needs a little TLC to save from the brink.  Watch this space!

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4 hours ago, Tickman said:

What an outstanding effort on a car that is not and will not be yours.

Too many to write/10


Tell me about it.

I was willing to shove the axle on when I got there. But @mk2_craig decided to lob it on himself.  I am forever grateful.


It does have a wider rear track and an anti-roll bar and I believe the 500 springs are shorter. Therefore it's got the Tychy Handling Pack. It's probably cheaper than Ferraris Fiorano Handling Pack.

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Cheers! It was genuinely an actual pleasure for a job like this to go so swimmingly with no major battles involved, nothing sheared/snapped/seized or otherwise got in the way of progress, and even better nobody got any injuries.

I managed to find time today to carry out a combined collection/road test and can report that this lovely little thing drives extremely well, you would never believe it’s got over 150k on the clock. 





Got a video of its first movements after having been parked up for so long too, but I’ll buzz that direct to @Aston Martin first for editing and upload. 



Safely home with no problems at all!  Happy days :) 

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1 hour ago, Ian_Fearn said:

Would love to hear what the results of the 500 rear axle are. My 169 needs a new axle fairly soon. 

Orange one has it. It's perfect, although don't have bigger than 13 inch wheels.


Then theres the minutiae of do you use panda springs and shocks. Or a combination... Or all 500 but with double spring rubbers.


Mine is all 500.

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9 minutes ago, Aston Martin said:

Orange one has it. It's perfect, although don't have bigger than 13 inch wheels.

Does it have a noticeable effect on body roll? They do like to lean a bit round corners and according to a US website, the addition of the roll bar coincided with a lower rear spring rate to improve comfort.

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1 hour ago, Ian_Fearn said:

Does it have a noticeable effect on body roll? They do like to lean a bit round corners and according to a US website, the addition of the roll bar coincided with a lower rear spring rate to improve comfort.

The roll bar was added, because Ford said to Fiat it needs a  roll bar for the KA. 

I think it handles fine. @mk2_craig needs to give it the beans and he can give his thoughts.


I have no issues with this setup.


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