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Harrison's Garage - 440/A4/Focus/Granada/Mini/MX-5 - double collection day


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  • rob88h changed the title to Harrison's Garage - 440/Focus/Granada/Mini/MX-5

Ford Focus – W_FOB – Theory of General Relativity

The Focus stinks. It’s a great car, but it was noticed on a recent long trip that with all our life paraphernalia taken out of the car, our 60,000 miles of dogging and horsing about have left it pretty pungent in there... The theory was that with the dog beds and horse riding gear out the smell would dissipate, alas it very much didn’t.

With fewer distractions these days (back to 5 cars!) I decided to ready the Focus for winter, bulb check, screen wash concentrate, new wipers etc.. including a jolly good clean inside and out. Cleaning cars is dull (to me) especially when it is hours trying to hoover animal hairs out of carpet that is not unlike the soft side of Velcro. I took it to the wash-and-wait people at Tesco once and they took three times the agreed time and I ended up paying them double for their trouble. My conscience wouldn’t let me do that to them again. Anyway, in my all-out warfare on the smell I did additional tasks, like change the pollen filter – pretty fancy ’08 plate malarky I don’t usually have to deal with.


I also used one of those smoke grenades to disinfect the HVAC ducts which was considerably less exciting than I had built up in my mind. I even got my wife to come outside and watch it, so at least my disappointment was shared. No flash-bang, not really even any fog.

Anyway, having used two buckets to clean it the wrong way I rinsed it with a watering can full of snails and to be honest it looks as good now as when I picked it up new to us in 2017 (cite).


This all got me thinking…

The Theory of General Relativity: To me, this is not only our newest car, but it is a new* car. I mean, it’s clearly not, but anything newer than ’05 is, to me, a new car. I passed my test in 2005 and it seems to have cemented car ages in-time at that point and to work out how old a car is I have to relate it to it’s equivalent age from 2005. For example, maths tells me this Focus is 13 years old. To me a 13-year-old car is on a 1992 J-plate. Co-incidentally, my first car was a J-plate blue Ford. How far I’ve come… My mind is frequently blown to work out the Focus is as old as the Fiesta was (I think I’m going to be getting mostly confused face reactions here…). Let’s try another example; when I was 19 I got a 1979 V-reg Capri, which at the time felt old, but if I were to buy it now with the same relative age it’d something like a 1993 Ford Probe. Likewise buying that Capri now is the equivalent of me buying a 1963 car back then, let’s say a Consul Capri.

In summary, cleaning a car is boring. Add interior cleaning chemicals to the mix and I end up thinking up this sort of shit.


AutoShite – where profoundly confused members think a 1992 Fiesta can be as old as a 2008 Focus.


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1 hour ago, Dan302 said:

I totally understand the car age confusion, I had a 1979 Dolomite Sprint in 2003 when I passed my test. I cannot get my head around that being the equivalent of a 90s car now 🤔

I can also understand it, in the early 90s there was a Mk1 Escort that lived near the infant school I went to, it would have been about 20 years old at the time and it hurts my brain computing that the equivalent now is an early 2000s car, which I still think of as fairly new 

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Its more the gradual change in size thats got me rather than new vs. old. I still think of a mk1/2 Mondeo as a large family car (common when I passed my test in 2006) but its absolutely dwarfed by a current Fiesta, which is considered a small family car today. And dont even get me started on the evolution of SUVs! The current Audi Q7 is a monster. Pickup trucks in the early 2000s werent as big as current large SUVs.

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3 hours ago, Tommyboy12 said:

Its more the gradual change in size thats got me rather than new vs. old. I still think of a mk1/2 Mondeo as a large family car (common when I passed my test in 2006) but its absolutely dwarfed by a current Fiesta, which is considered a small family car today. And dont even get me started on the evolution of SUVs! The current Audi Q7 is a monster. Pickup trucks in the early 2000s werent as big as current large SUVs.

I agree about how big cars are now compared to just a few years ago 

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A_WOV – Keeping a cool head

On 9/11/2021 at 9:23 PM, rob88h said:

I’m waiting on a set of fuel lines, so I thought I’d start on some more “while it’s off the road” jobs, starting with the cooling system. I have to change the seized heater valve and cable

The fuel lines arrived pretty quickly allowing me to get the Mini back on the road pretty smoothly having only so far managed to replaced the heater valve cable in my otherwise grand plans for a bigger cooling system refresh.

A few minor* things have been annoying me since I got this Mini though, and I can put it off no longer!:

  1. The car can’t handle traffic… or idling. This used to be a summertime traffic only problem, but with multiple layups, the window of non-overheating usability for the Mini has been shrinking and my last 1000 miles has consisted of carefully orchestrated back routes and travel outside of peak hours. Just what you want in a car.
  2. With the weather closing in, the cabin heater is and always has been stone cold and there is non-existent demist/defrost functionality.
  3. The radiator outlet hose connection fizzes and bubbles away like any perfectly functional cooling system should.
  4. The [retrofit] temperature gauge is free to roam around the dash depending on which way you corner... and doesn’t illuminate.

Basically, it’s buggered and neglected. Time for some maintenance? Most people probably would have declared this knackered long ago, alas, I have low expectations and a penchant for jeopardy in my motoring.

Step 1: Drain the cooling system… Ah, I thought the fuel pump was hard to get at, but who put the bottom hose clamp down there. I can’t even photo it, what a pain in the arse.

New Step 1: Procrastinate useful work in favour of finding permanent residence for the temperature gauge, and make it light up.


This is a single clock Mini and I wanted to retain that look, so I’ve stashed the temp gauge down by the fog light switch. I had to move the switch panel towards the steering column to make room for the temp gauge and re-drill the dash to secure it all. Illumination came via the light switch so the back light for the gauge comes on with the rest of the instrument lights.

Nice, that's put things off for a few days and I could get back out on the roads, getting to my destinations by increasingly spurious routes to avoid traffic and overheating.


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A_WOV – Keeping a cool head

Now it really was time to start! The plan was to drain the cooling system, flush it, replace the seized heater control valve, put in a new thermostat and fill things back up. Having appeared to have procrastinated on it the day before, I’d actually been soaking everything in WD40, but obviously, neglect to this extent has not been conducive to things going to plan...

There was no way the bottom hose was coming off in-situ, with its mullered 40 year old hose clamp, fastener#1 was just not happening. Another method I read about was to remove the whole radiator. That starts with removing the thermostat housing – no problem, that’s coming off anyway. Having failed at fastener#1 of the job, I was rewarded with fastener#2 sheering. Excellent.  


After declaring I don’t even like old cars, threatening to my wife that I was going to sell everything and buy a Hyundai on finance I decided better of it and just got on with things. The other two fasteners extracted fine and the snapped one extracted with mole grips, albeit gripping so tight my palms are bruised.


This allowed me to bring out the radiator (with bottom hose still attached) and boy am I glad I did it this way otherwise I’d never have seen the deep rub that’s nearly ruptured the hose. It also allowed me to inspect the top tank better and the radiator leak I though was just a poor seal around a corroded spigot is actually a crack in the head tank itself.



Parts shopping for a Mini is relatively simple, plentiful and some things are so cheap! So I filled up another Minispares basked and threw in a new water pump for good measure. After some retail therapy I removed the heater control valve and the waterpump with aplomb.





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A_WOV – Keeping a cool head

With everything drained and more parts than in the phase 1 plan in the post I discovered that the heater situation was worse than I thought... The old cable was seized, and the old valve was seized, but during my reassembly plans I’d worked out that it had all been seized in the open position yet I’d never experienced heat in the cabin.

Burying my head in the sand for a bit, a flush was next anyway and hopefully that’d unblock whatever is going on with the heater. Time to employ the hosepipe.


The coolant in the heater circuit was grim, and after three bottles looked like it was starting to clear quite nicely. Then bottle four happened! The hose was still connected, but things started to slow until a gurgle a horrendous slug of sludge. Simultaneously the hose blew off and a spray of rusty backwash went all up the house wall. Brilliant. 


It kept coming out like bottle 4 for several bottles but it did eventually start to clear again. I’m assuming there was quite the restriction around the heater circuit, hence low or no flow. I flushed the block as best I could through the heater control valve port and then I could clean up the faces, dry things out and get on with some re-assembly with the bits I have. I'm not impressed with the quality of the heater valve compared with the old OEM one, but hopefully it'll be alright for a while. The water pump seems good though.



This is where I’ve currently got up to before I ran out of parts, so here's a quick situation report: 🤣

  • New heater cable
  • New heater control Valve
  • New thermostat
  • New water pump
  • New radiator!
  • New lower rad hose
  • New fan belt
  • New studs/fasteners/clamps

Not a lot left to swap, lol.

The next day I was clearing out some tools from the passenger footwell and I was greeted with a slow water leak that had been dripping, presumably from the flushing punishment. Time to add new heater matrix to the new parts list I think!


I went inside to lament the following:

1 hour ago, rob88h said:

declaring I don’t even like old cars, threatening to my wife that I was going to sell everything and buy a Hyundai on finance

I'm away for a few weekends now so the Mini will stay siting on axle stands (in front of the Granada on axle stands in front of the MX-5 on axle stands. FML). 

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W_F08 – Sound of success

The radio on the Focus has always been kind of naff and I have frequently tried to fiddle with it on advice from the various Ford forums. After a particularly frustrating journey I decided to go through every connection cleaning, tightening and adding contact paste in a last-ditch attempt with the OEM hardware before giving up and going the aftermarket route.



With the car positioned so that it was getting bad reception at a certain spot on the drive, I could hopefully see the effects of cleaning up each section of the aerial to see what was at fault, if anything. There’s a two part aerial on the roof, a pass through on the roof that earths to the body, a connection in the A-pillar and the connection in the back of the radio itself. The main winner (though each step helped a bit) was the connection to the head unit, it is easily knocked about when reinstalling the unit to the dash, so with that taped in place during re-assembly the radio is improved greatly.

Boring I know, but victorious nonetheless. It makes a difference to the enjoyment of the car - and secretly I'm using this car a lot more when my wife's not out in it as the Volvo is broken too. I'm at 1 out of 5 on the car front right now. 😬

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/29/2020 at 2:08 PM, rob88h said:

Harrison’s History - #39 Rover 2600 SD1 A866 TGP

I sold the S123 Merc and the money burned a serious hole in my pocket. I dispatched a friend off to go and collect this SD1 before the Merc had even left my driveway.


Despite its looks, this piece* was a real exercise in regret and frustration. Things were bad right from the off and the Rover straight away took the title of “fastest breakdown” from the BMW 528i which had erupted in steam in less than one mile. The Rover managed to conk out shifting into reverse doing a 3-point turn outside the house of the guy I bought it from, right as setting off... It maybe managed 5 metres forward in driving the width of the road ready to turn around. It would not restart. My ex-friend called out the RAC and after a 3 hour wait, they got it going by bypassing the ballast resistor on the coil. He was then able to attempt the 4-hour journey home, which went really well right up until he ran out of petrol on the A1. In his defence the fuel gauge was reading over a quarter when it had coughed and spluttered to death. Faced with another 3 hour callout from the RAC (must have been a busy day!) he ran a couple of miles to a petrol station, bought fuel, then ran it back just to pass the time while waiting for the RAC. He’d thought it felt like it ran out of fuel. Thankfully that worked and he was on his way again and I was able to cancel the second RAC callout. Eventually the Rover made it to mine and everyone went to sleep!

Replacing the ignition coil and ballast resistor improved the reliability of the ignition system and stopped me having to disconnect the RAC bodge every time I parked the car – he warned us of fire risk with the ballast resistor bypassed! It also gave the bonnet a well earned rest as it was being used as often as the drivers door. I didn’t get long though and very soon the drivers door broke (window got stuck fully down) and so did the bonnet (fully closed catch wouldn’t catch). It also still had presumed-collaterally-bad-earth moments where all the interior dials would drop to zero and the engine would hesitate (at the cost of power steering and power brakes). Another more important problem was although when I got the car the brakes were strong and stopped straight, it suffered from pedal sag while braking. This was to the point where when at traffic lights my pedal was sinking to the floor and I was worried the torque converter would overcome the brakes if I sat there too long. My policy with brakes is never to risk it, so I took it to the garage. The Master cylinder was replaced but then brake booster was no-longer functioning. FFS. Nice firm pedal but no servo, so I replaced the booster too which highlighted a new problem. Now the brakes were great, except for when they randomly weren’t!


There were terrifying inconsistencies in the delivery of vacuum to the brake booster, so the car went on the condemned do-not-drive list and I bought the car I’ll write about next (and accidently another one) to sooth my misery.

At this point I had eight cars, the SD1 had not proved itself and it’s pot luck braking system meant I wouldn’t even drive it. I decided that I would sell the SD1 but couldn’t bring myself to sell it without fixing it, so I trooped on. The driver’s window was a piece of cake, a thorough clean of all the connections and switches saw it working again and at twice the speed! The bonnet catch I managed to improve, but it became more a learned technique than actually fixing it and I finally tracked the vacuum problem down to a faulty check valve on the intake manifold. The original was pure unobtanium for a 2600, so I added in a second in-line check vale and a new vacuum hose for good measure. Finally, it was all working – I did about 500 or so miles to prove it to myself and then sold it on.

The biggest strength of this SD1 had always been it’s bodywork. I wouldn’t say no rust, but it was a very very solid example – it’s just a pity it kept falling apart because I really love the look of the SD1 and I’d have probably had a better relationship with it and kept it longer if this one wasn’t such a crock of shit.






I just bought this off a chap in Chorley check out my post. All the best! 

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Thanks @wesacosa. I was convinced this was S_ERR to begin with because of the damaged bonnet with the wobbly reflection of the stonework and the similar darker patch in the drivers door bump strip. But now I'm not so sure because the wheels look in better condition and the wheel weights are gone (when I sold it in March the best thing on the Baleno were the almost new Goodyears, so I'd be surprised if they were changed!)



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A_WOV – Keeping a cool head

The Mini is almost back on the road! While waiting for the new heater core I dressed the inner wing with some of my flashiest POR-15 rust paint and a bit of chemical converter, all of which is technically reserved for the underside of my Granny. The inner wing was not as bad as I thought it was going to be corrosion-wise and this should give it a few more years in this area. It's rare to find less rust than expected on the Mini 😀


[skilfully redacted VIN, haha]


Once the heater core arrived, swapping it over was so simple I forgot to take any pictures, so below, have a pre-cleaned up disassembly shot. It's all clean, back in the interior and plumbed up now. The only struggle was the new heater core inlet and outlet spigots were closer together than the heater-box(?) side plate would quite allow, so I had to grind out those circles a bit for a better fit. Dressing that with more POR-15, the good stuff.


Then I did a bit more with it, fitted a new fan belt, put the fan back in along with the radiator and lower hose - that was bit of a lining-things-up-nightmare to get the radiator on the bottom mount. I had to take the grill out in the end! Finally, I reconnected all the hoses that I could.

The remaining jobs are the thermostat & housing, filling it with coolant and then tearing into it all again when inevitably something is leaking. I stopped here because thermostat bolt shearing (which happened to me here) is a bit of an A-series trait it seems, so to give myself the best chance of avoiding that next time I change the thermostat, I wanted to clean the threads in the head and I didn't have a 18G 5/16" tap handy. I do now and Saturday is approaching when I can work on things in daylight grumble grumble November grumble. 


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Harrison’s History #52 – Audi A4 Avant EO05 LRZ ("Larz")

Somewhere back up this thread I’d mentioned that I’d agreed on three vehicles in October. Well, this is the third. The same week I was offered the Fiesta I was also offered this 2005 A4 Avant at CarTakeBack prices from a chap at work. Naturally I couldn’t/didn’t refuse. The Taxi got in the way for a few weeks, but with the Fiesta and the Taxi out I went to pick up the Audi.


It’s what I’ve deemed a Battersea Dogs Home rehoming, i.e. it’s a ULEZ evacuee, but from Deptford, not Battersea and, well, it’s not really a dog. Maybe not the best name then. It’s good with dogs though.


It’s a bit deluxe for me to be honest, not only does it have dual zone climate control, cruise control, 12 FM pre-sets, Bluetooth and a Turbocharger, but it also has a bloomin’ cup holder. Decadent. Nice action cupholder too. The diesel tank is colossal – the first thing I did was to fill it up and proceeded to spend 25% off the purchase price filling up the tank! It was quite a shock, but the indicated range is nearly 900 miles so I have a while to psych myself up for the next refuelling.

It’s the ULEZ elephant that ultimately forced my friend to part with it, but it also had a dodgy wheel bearing (now replaced and running much quieter), it has a full-sag Bedouin Tent headliner, 175,000 miles on the clock and a weepy rear nearside brake calliper. Other than that, it’s reet. I'm planning to use up it's Feb MOT, get it a new one then sell it on.


It's entertaining me already though; I was going through the history when I got it home and came across a quote from Southend Audi to “fix” everything back in 2016. £13,252.03... 😂My reaction was akin to James May’s in this clip:


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Harrison’s History #53 – Raleigh Runabout GFS 475D

The night before I picked up the Audi I couldn’t sleep and found myself browsing Facebook Marketplace… I wasn’t searching for anything specific from anywhere specific, just enjoying where it’s algorithm was taking me on it’s Homepage of recommended to me items. Apartments in Pakistan, ’05 BMW compacts that you just know will be trouble, broken xBoxs and iPhone screen replacements. Then I spied a RM6 Runabout in Oxted. I already have two non-running Raleigh Runabouts…


Once it escalated into a murder one beef for all of 'em after they killed the first two guards, they didn't hesitate. Popped guard number three because... what difference does it make? - Al Pacino, Heat.

This movie quote was going through my head with respect to explaining my actions to my currently asleep wife…

The next day I found myself picking up the Audi and on my way home collecting the Runabout.


I returned home to find the house locks hadn’t been changed.


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  • rob88h changed the title to Harrison's Garage - 440/A4/Focus/Granada/Mini/MX-5 - double collection day
2 hours ago, rob88h said:



Are you sure it’s a rm6 runabout.

with the drum front brake and telescopic forks it should be either an rm8 or RM9 depending on whether it has the variator transmission.  It could have been ‘updated’ though I suppose.The frame number will tell you as the first number is the model type.

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42 minutes ago, Jenson Velcro said:

Are you sure it’s a rm6 runabout.


RM8, confirmed by frame number! - thanks I didn’t know you could tell that way! I’d made a couple of rookie assumptions: this D-reg is older than my E and F-reg rim brake solid fork ones (actual RM6?) and I thought the RM numbers went up with age rather than deluxitude. That and it was advertised as an RM6, haha. 

One day I hope to work on them. One day. And once one is running how hard can it be to get the others going?! Hopefully by then I’ll know the best tools and parts suppliers at least. NDB 351E is my best* one. It was running (although hard to start) a couple of years back. YOO 41F is in bits at the back of my garage. 😬 

I’m currently trying to sort the reg on this this D-reg one as it came with no V5. I’m chancing it with a V62 to start with as that worked with YOO 41F, not on the DVLA digitised database but it came back to me with a V5. Fingers crossed for the same with this one. 

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Good stuff. I’m not sure that the rm8 sold in that large a number.

This link here gives a brief history of the Raleigh moped models and their years in production http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pattle/nacc/arc0417.htm

They really are pretty basic machines, not much more complicated than a bicycle so are  easy to get going, and most of the important parts are  readily available.

I’ve rebuilt an RM9 to standardish specification  and have enough bits left over to build up another. This one will be more of a bitza and I’m going to have a play with the engine to see if I can liberate another horse.


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LaRZ – Taking advice from the Ministry

Completely contrary to the title, the Mini cooling work is finished which so far seems to have not been a lesson in frustration and leaks have not made themselves known. The heater has gone from stone cold [Steve Austin] to merely Luke Warm. I was hoping it’d be hotter, but meh, in theory it should be able to demist a screen if left idling on the drive over the course of a day.

Amped on success*, this weekend I addressed all the MOT advisories on the Audi:


Changing brakes (with the right tools) is one of those simple jobs with a big visual effect. Joy. Thanks to the commonality of VAG stuff parts were plentiful and pretty cheap. The old pads were meaty, but while I was in there I put in some new ones regardless.



Welcome to November… I was doing the near side at half four, not midnight…


Although scuffed, the wheels came up alright - being quite an open alloy, brake dust burned on the inside is always easy to see but hard to clean, so with the wheels off the opportunity was seized. 


The other advisory was for the Service light. I’m not sure how that factors in to an MOT but hey ho. Resetting it was like typing a cheat code into a PlayStation, all key positions and button presses. So now no service light IDDQD. I’ve still to actually do the service, but my scruples won’t let me sell the thing until I’ve done that having reset the light!

The final and biggest improvement made by far is that I took a hammer and chisel to the five pence piece stuck in the seat rail preventing it from going back to a comfortable position. My knee is thanking me already.


The remaining mental (now written) to do list:

  • Actually do the service.
  • Change the rear right nearside calliper (fluid weep). Maybe not change. The service history says it was changed in 2018, so hopefully it just needs the flexi tightening up or something. The previous owner alerted me to the fact he had to top up brake fluid occasionally and when I had it in the garage for it's new wheel bearing the garage pointed out to me the rear nearside was weeping.
  • Glue the saggy headliner back in place.
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