Jump to content
Cleon-Fonte

CF's Lockdown Diaries

Recommended Posts

Like most of Western Europe I recently gained a surfeit of free time, for the first time in years. Much as I'd happily sit on my arse for a few months and wait for the bullshit to blow over I've decided instead to use the time productively.

I've owned this Fiat 1.3 Multijet-powered Vauxhall Corsavan for nearly two years now. It was my work van most nights for six months and it charmed me immensely, proving an incredibly pleasant way of completing a shift.  When it was about to be scrapped over a minor coolant leak I stepped in to save it, being the only one who could see the jewel beneath the grime and neglect. Since then it's been cleaned up and de-dented, done daily duties (except for a two month period where the clutch didn't work) and then served ably as a long distance cruiser/backup car for the R4. I took it off the road a few months ago to sort out the rear brakes and seized handbrake cable and it's been out of action since due to a massive pocket of air in the braking system that stubbornly refuses to bleed out.

 

P1030687.thumb.JPG.7f066e2b0a5820f423329d15e5380a76.JPG

 

P1030690.thumb.JPG.92aa141398b7312ee469b250322b5795.JPG

 

So I've decided to use the next few weeks of captivity to get the van moving, if not roadworthy, and thought I may as well document my misadventures here. I'll tackle the brakes at some point but the first job (of many) is to replace the turbo, which has been on its way out for a while. This will also afford me the opportunity to swap out the knackered thermostat which requires many of the same items removing (it turns out changing a thermostat is quite an involved process on a modern).

Stay tuned for Part 1 of the turbo swap.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are these any good then? The reason I ask is that I was under the impression that the FIAT 1.3 engines were meant to be troublesome (I have no empirical knowledge of this, just hearsay). I used to have an 03 plate Corsa with the 1.7 Dti engine which I was very fond of, it was pure white goods motoring, never let me down and cost buttons to run. Unfortunately it had a cambelt change at a garage and shortly after one of the tensioners shattered, lunching the engine. I think these are very well made and underrated cars and I would quite like another one based on previous experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Step 1 is to separate the front exhaust pipe from the cat, however it seems these two are in a close relationship and refuse to part. Plusgas has been applied and I'll come back to it later.

After draining the coolant it was time to remove the front bumper. This would have been easy if the wheelarch trim fixings hadn't been previously bodged (the mechanic at work is limited to a very tight budget) but eventually it came free.

 

DSC00537.thumb.JPG.6c973c6f11eaae75f622b2f02b9f9396.JPG

 

With the bumper off remove the lower section of pipe from the intercooler to the inlet manifold.

 

DSC00538.thumb.JPG.eeb47f520c031261f2029f0fd6ae0e7d.JPG

 

To access the upper section the fuel filter housing and expansion tank must be removed. The fuel hoses have 'quick release' clips which are a pain in the arse and require three hands to remove if you don't have the right tool (I don't have the right tool). The filter housing is attached to the bulkhead by two nuts, now it's off I can stick it in the vice and try and remove the very stuck lid somehow, this thing's well overdue a new filter.

 

DSC00539.thumb.JPG.afa0e54a9d16f7a73cd3083f6cdcd0a3.JPG

 

The expansion tank is held on with one of these clips. Being hit by one of these when it pings off at light speed is probably on the top 10 list of most painful experiences known to mankind.

 

DSC00540.thumb.JPG.98b3e50b9ab7504ec630a490f7fdf5e3.JPG

 

With those off the engine bay is opened up considerably.

 

DSC00541.thumb.JPG.6251be6b90159c7e018f612684473854.JPG

 

The upper hose is visible for the first time. It's held on by a bracket where it meets the lower hose and is connected to the manifold by two awkwardly placed bolts.

 

DSC00542.thumb.JPG.8ea423eecf315ec3f1efe029b0c70740.JPG

 

The contents were not very pretty, the turbo has clearly been burning oil for a while and I imagine cleaning out all this clag should regain me a few lost horsepower.

 

DSC00546.thumb.JPG.456ecf170c918072782032685e25d5c7.JPG

 

And with that the first afternoon of work was over, with most of the relatively minor, less fiddly bits out of the way and only the bits I was dreading left to face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent. I've taken this attitude to lock down as well; if I can't get some jobs done on the fleet now, when will I ever? And I reckon the activity will help the time to pass more easily. I'm going to finish cleaning up and painting the Ami's floorpans tomorrow.

 

Shall be following this with interest 👍

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another day, another few hours spent on the Corsa. The next job was to take off the engine lifting bracket and the exhaust heat shield nut (or what was left of it).

 

DSC00547.thumb.JPG.0b836a02db0626ef87bb473894996a09.JPG

 

Cleaning up the nut didn't help, it's clear it fused to the stud shortly before they both rusted away virtually to nothing. The heat shield itself doesn't look too clever either.

 

DSC00548.thumb.JPG.61eb0b8a180a118a03c01080a9c75e8a.JPG

 

There was nothing for it but to bring out the Dremel*. This does leave me the problem of what to do with the remains of the stud, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

 

DSC00550.thumb.JPG.2cca3ec7ac2ade9af1e62284fb29c978.JPG

 

With the heat shield off it's time to remove the oil-to-coolant heat exchanger pipe.

 

DSC00551.thumb.JPG.63a9348d1d6111f1fd3e2958adbf85ae.JPG

 

Removing the pipe from the heat exchanger was easy enough, removing the bracket holding it on under the manifold was another matter. I couldn't see a bolt, I could barely get my hand in to feel for a bolt, I could find no suggestion of where the bolt might be and even if by some miracle I found it I wouldn't have a clue what size socket to use. This picture was the only evidence I had of the bolt's existence.

 

DSC00555.thumb.JPG.d6935a193d4658b6ac186f025e4a60af.JPG

 

With a bit of trial and error I managed to get a 10mm socket on it, but finding and locating a socket on the thing had taken up quite a substantial proportion of my spannering time that could have been better used.

Once that pipe was off it was the turbo oil supply pipe's turn, access to the bolt on the heat exchanger was again dire.

 

DSC00557.thumb.JPG.4d0b918f855b552b88449914775a281d.JPG

 

And with the bottom coolant hose removed the four bolts holding onto the heat exchanger itself were ready to come out. Anyone doing this should be be prepared to be showered with both oil and coolant when separating the heat exchanger from the block.

 

DSC00558.thumb.JPG.2f4317dac900d7ac58c14c1838e25f17.JPG

 

Both oil filler and oil filter housing are combined in one unit with the heat exchanger, this will be a good opportunity to clean any crud out of both.

With that done it's finally time to start separating bits of exhaust and remove the manifold and turbo itself, but that's for another day. I also have to remove the intercooler and clean it out as part of the warranty for the new turbo, so I'll do that at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely the right approach to lockdown in my opinion! Trying to share my time between a) actually working from home b) working on the garden which requires a lot of work and c) The fleet - which require a bit of work.

 So far this week a and b have won, but I think the fleet will get attention next week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, warch said:

Are these any good then? The reason I ask is that I was under the impression that the FIAT 1.3 engines were meant to be troublesome (I have no empirical knowledge of this, just hearsay). I used to have an 03 plate Corsa with the 1.7 Dti engine which I was very fond of, it was pure white goods motoring, never let me down and cost buttons to run. Unfortunately it had a cambelt change at a garage and shortly after one of the tensioners shattered, lunching the engine. I think these are very well made and underrated cars and I would quite like another one based on previous experience.

 

What swayed me towards this one was the condition, despite being ragged everywhere and barely maintained for 10 years it's still in remarkably good nick, not a trace of rust on the bodyshell and the mechanical bits are mostly fine, or could be improved with minor maintenance. These Corsas are clearly indestructible, the number of them still about attests to this. Sadly there are a few dodgy bits of design here and there and GM clearly took a few cost cutting measures, plastic gear linkages for instance, but it's easy and cheap to replace the shit bits with improved aftermarket items.

I've known a few 1.3 Multijets and they've mostly been hassle free. We had three Corsavans (this one and two Corsa Ds) when I started working at my current place, all with these engines, and whilst the two later ones were falling apart the motors carried on regardless despite the extreme treatment they received, both vans died of other things in the end. They're much better than the horrid PSA/Ford 1.4 diesels most of the fleet is equipped with now, which are much less pleasant in use and not nearly as unbreakable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Cleon-Fonte said:

 

What swayed me towards this one was the condition, despite being ragged everywhere and barely maintained for 10 years it's still in remarkably good nick, not a trace of rust on the bodyshell and the mechanical bits are mostly fine, or could be improved with minor maintenance. These Corsas are clearly indestructible, the number of them still about attests to this. Sadly there are a few dodgy bits of design here and there and GM clearly took a few cost cutting measures, plastic gear linkages for instance, but it's easy and cheap to replace the shit bits with improved aftermarket items.

I've known a few 1.3 Multijets and they've mostly been hassle free. We had three Corsavans (this one and two Corsa Ds) when I started working at my current place, all with these engines, and whilst the two later ones were falling apart the motors carried on regardless despite the extreme treatment they received, both vans died of other things in the end. They're much better than the horrid PSA/Ford 1.4 diesels most of the fleet is equipped with now, which are much less pleasant in use and not nearly as unbreakable.

I agree on the build quality, really well made cars. I might consider getting another one as a daily driver. BTW I was tidying my shed yesterday and found a set of genuine and bloody expensive trim clips for my old one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent most of today at the workshop doing rust repairs on the R4, so only had about an hour or two of daylight left and didn't expect to acheive much with the Corsa. However I decided to see how far I'd get.

Today's first job was to remove the bolt holding the cat to the sump.

 

DSC00564.thumb.JPG.8538de70893380ce8ebbbaa3145b5dae.JPG

 

With that done I could support the cat with the trusty old jack and undo the three bolts holding it on.

 

DSC00565.thumb.JPG.32414de48d4c826cd2d26b9642a4237e.JPG

 

I mentioned previously that before doing anything else it's recommended that you separate the cat from the front pipe, but that in my case the two bits had seized together. They still refused to come apart, but after a brutal few minutes of beating them with a big hammer and wiggling the cat they came apart. There is no way I'd have been able to do it with the cat still bolted on so it's possibly best to just leave the exhaust in one piece until you really need to separate it.

 

DSC00566.thumb.JPG.bf876b07affe5bd02eafb5eaed378ef4.JPG

 

Once the cat was off it was time to remove the two bolts holding the turbo oil return pipe to the block.

 

DSC00568.thumb.JPG.6f5b88385198a4b0390ebb3699cef31f.JPG

 

Finally it was finally time to loosen off the manifold nuts and, with the light fading rapidly, the turbo was out at last.

 

DSC00569.thumb.JPG.647d07c6d811468d4c2b8f2834142e59.JPG

 

I'd been told the turbos on these engines were tiny but it's only when seeing one for the first time that you realise just how tiny they are. There are probably kei cars with bigger blowers than these. Have a comparison with a Citroen BX 1.8TD turbo, which is bloody huge in comparison.

 

DSC00573.thumb.JPG.8ef45549dc3bfb3e02eee24e119f3254.JPG

 

The next job is to swap the new turbo onto the manifold, clean up the various bits I took off the engine and then it's time to do the thermostat.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday I decided to change the thermostat. My idea of a thermostat change involves removing a couple of bolts on an accessible housing, swapping out the thermostat and bolting the housing back on. Fiat appear to have taken a different view, with the thermostat and housing forming one unit and a load of electronics thrown in, all wedged awkwardly in the worst possible place beneath the injector pump and various other bits of fuel system, inaccessible until you remove half the engine bay and held on by two bolts whose very existence is questionable given how well hidden they are.

First up, remove all the bits I detailed in the first post about turbo removal above (only the top end of the lower intercooler hose needs to come off, so you can leave the bumper on at least), then the next step is to remove the four coolant hoses attached to the stat, starting with the top hose.

 

DSC00574.thumb.JPG.63014efa3927c08abd20371cc1c9d8e6.JPG

 

DSC00577.thumb.JPG.13042275ee10afa1dbf34817d75aaca0.JPG

 

This little section of connecting hose was one of the causes of the leaks that nearly got the van scrapped (along with the incorrectly placed clip on the top hose). It was replaced with a section of Marina 1800 top hose I had lying around, which fortunately seems to be holding up well.

Once the hoses are off the wiring connector can be removed.

 

DSC00575.thumb.JPG.9ed21c5a6c0251dad9fea10e42a338e6.JPG

 

Then it's a case of locating the two T45 bolts holding on the stat and undoing them. This is an infuriatingly fiddly and time consuming process, but eventually the stat was out.

 

DSC00578.thumb.JPG.08cce8fb8b817e098a0268bd838be63a.JPG

 

Reassembly is the reverse of removal, apart from putting the two bolts back in. The process goes: spend several minutes wrestling thermostat into place, attempt to locate bolt, drop bolt into inaccessible crevice in engine bay, retreive bolt, repeat 10 to 20 times. Eventually I got lucky and the new stat was on.

 

DSC00579.thumb.JPG.830ff2430e362c5ce9ef0b8068e3d3c4.JPG

 

So, yes, changing a 1.3 Multijet thermostat yourself is possible and theoretically quite straightforward, but don't put yourself through it. Accessibility is appalling (probably as bad as the worst things an XUD can torture you with) and it's just not worth it for what should be an easy job. Get somebody else to do it, ideally someone you despise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The BINI is easy in comparison. 

Remove air filter box

Remove battery. 

Remove battery box.

Find a way to reconnect battery

Run it up to temperature to find leak.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, New POD said:

The BINI is easy in comparison. 

Remove air filter box

Remove battery. 

Remove battery box.

Find a way to reconnect battery

Run it up to temperature to find leak.

 

 

I'm truly envious, clearly the Bini was designed by rational, sane folk rather than a bunch of pissed up Italians. If it had been that easy I'd have done it months ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to say that this thread is garage porn, but given that you are working on the gravel path to the side of your house, it's ginnel porn! (Respect)

Great work, tackling  desperately unpleasant jobs on a worthless* motor when the rest of humanity is frantically subscribing to as many streaming services as it can, in between buying 'essentials' (a cube of Carling and however much Bushmills they can afford with the leftover cash).

If perchance you still have the bumper off and the crash bar/bumper beam exposed,  could you take a look and tell me if your Corsa has two large, off centre curved indentations  on the back of the beam? I've just had the o/s headlight unit and bumper off mine (to address issues of only one mounting bolt of three doing anything to secure said lamp assembly, and the front bumper mostly resembling Stallone's jaw at the end of 'Rocky') and noticed these aberrations in the shape of the beam - if they were at the front, I could put them down to the front having soaked up some slow-ish speed impacts in its chequered past, but they're on the reverse of the beam and there's nothing near them that could explain how they got there unless the beam was manufactured like that....

Regarding the handbrake, this has been a PITA on mine until I found that the automatic adjusters really DO work, as long as every metal-to-metal contact in the brake mechanism is greased. It's still horrible that you have to remove the hubnut to get the drum off, but at least the shoe release mechanism, accessed through a hole in the backplate and activated by a sharp tap with a drift, also works.

*Worthless but worthy. I can attest that these seem to be indestructible motors - mine's just sailed through its 100k milestone and another MOT, with a brutal 50 mile hammering over the country's worst road surfaces six nights of the week, every week. Previous owners have treated the front to some dedicated giffer work, with the bumper all over the place, the headlamp mounts smashed to bits and both wings looking like they had the worst teenage acne. And yet neither have the slightest hint of rust, they seem to be more zinc than steel...The 1.4 engine seems to be just right for it and well matched to the durable slushbox - I'm sure I'd have lunched a clutch and possibly a gearbox by now given the same treatment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...