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FatHarris - tales of a motoring moron ***Bank holiday fixing bonanza 27/5***


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OK, hence the whole buying a new boot floor? Sounds like you're better off cutting the whole lot out and doing it from above then?
Yep, linishing disks are wonderful things but they can be a bit* aggressive in the wrong hands.
I'd have liked to buy a new floor but they're simply not available any more sadly, hence the oodles of patches.

Replacement rails are available, but at £180 each, I simply do not have the cash for that

I've just got back from taking MrsH to the doctors so I'll go for a quick run and share some photos of the upcoming grot!
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • fatharris changed the title to FatHarris' Life of Shite ***LIVE COLLECKSHUN 08/01***
  • 4 weeks later...
  • fatharris changed the title to FatHarris' Life of Shite ***LOADSA UPDATES 7/2***

So, first things first.


After several days of utterly miserable weather of both the wet AND windy variety, a driveway shuffle took place to get the MR-doo out for a further gander/assessment.


With a sponge and water thrown over the car, it was time to get my finest poking finger out.

The car itself was a 1998 Toyota MR2 2.0GTi-16, with a sunroof instead of the targa top. Owned by my friend Joe for several years, he had gone through a few issues with this particular car over the years, notably the water pump shitting the bed, which necessitated an engine change, and more notably, the body modifications brought on by that old classic characteristic of the SW20 MR2 - snap oversteer. In this case, it was approx 25mph  at a roundabout. A hydraulic press was rudimentally used to roughly get the shape back, slapped on a new rear light and cracked on.


Sadly, an MOT failure for rust, coupled with a recent house move forced his hand and he wanted to scrap it. I intervened, a deal was made and I picked it up for scrap value, driving it back from Plymouth. I found it drove very nicely but wasn't without faults, notably the tacho needle would start dropping back down if the revs went about 2500rpm and the passenger central locking solenoid wouldn't operate. 

The positives were the Toyo Proxes had loads of meat all round, the replacement engine had a recent timing belt and water pump, and the interior was exceptionally tidy.

I took loads of photos of the rot, and bought some steel.






















Completed the driveway shuffle too:


Too many key bundles to move the cars around.


Sadly, I then had a rare bout of sensibility and realised a married father of two does not require a third Japanese two-seater car. I put the car up for sale on Facebook for £1200, endured enquiries from a vast number of fuckwits expecting a concours vehicle, before selling it to a shipmate for £600 who is planning to restore it. I sent some of the proceeds back to my mate Joe to put towards either a new car or some new appliances in his home. He chose a vacuum cleaner 😂

So, we were back down to a much more manageable 5 car fleet, but I didn't fancy working on the BX for a while.

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Whilst moving stuff around the garage, I decided I was never going to need the Beat's boot rack again, as it required holes drilled into the boot lid. As they're quite a rare accessory, I decided to get it ready for sale.

It did have quite a lot of surface rust:




Luckily, child labour is cheap, and with some fine wire wool and a bit of elbow grease:



We came up with the final result:


(Forgot to brush off the steel wool dust after doing it, so now my bin lid is rusty)



5 kilos, what's the bloody point? 😂

There's still a few bits of rust here and there, but overall it's much, much better than it was. Haven't put it up for sale at the moment as I have no idea what to ask for it, but I'll probably see if anyone wants to swap it for any Beat goodies :)

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As mentioned before, I was fancying a change from working on the BX. Show season was coming up, and for once I had something interesting enough to exhibit. Unfortunately, whilst it had a lot of work carried out to make it road legal, the Beat was in need of a lot of post-maintenance maintenance to tidy things up.

First things first, the BX was evicted and a new cover bought for it - this was a Halfords all-season cover, and I'm really chuffed with every aspect of it, feels durable, and fits really well (This was a size Large).


The Beat was washed and parked in the garage overnight with a dehumidifier going to dry it out thoroughly:


DISCLAIMER: Almost all of these jobs were carried out concurrently to reduce the amount of time off the road - as soon as something had a drying/curing time, I moved onto another job in the meantime. This makes the pictures a bit hard to correlate, so please bear with me!

Before I picked the Beat up from Tony, he had coated the underside in a bitumen/tar based substance to protect it. Whilst I'm sure it is very effective, it did leave millions of these tiny overspray dots all over the paintwork. Thankfully, with gentle application of WD40 or thinners, they all eventually came off:



Some bits of overspray were more obvious!




All bits cleaned up equally well though! (There was also a lot of yellow overspray on the windows etc which came off, but that wasn't photographed (I was on a roll and just cracked on!))

EXCEPT for one bit. The dashboard was coated in the same overspray which came off nicely with thinners. However, the heater control panel responded very poorly to this, with the front face 'matt effect' coming off in great blobs, and the switches suddenly started gumming up. Removed it to see what the crack was.


Clearly, this is the type of plastic that reacts badly to thinners - the runners for the pushbutton switches had completely melted and were still soft hours after being cleaned with parts washer.

Once dried, the front panel looked even worse.


Clearly, this wasn't ideal, so I started souring a replacement. For the time being, the front panel was covered in a light coating of grease to remove the white deposits. The A/C button is completely seized, but the other ones were managed to be freed up with a small screwdriver cleaning up the runners.


Ah well, onto the other jobs.


A small section of black vinyl missing from the windscreen pillar?


EASY! Just get a Sharpie 😂


Next up was using this absolutely cracking tool:


Crammed myself into an awkward position (Did not want to take the roof off!)



And did a full clutch fluid flush and change (was like muddy water in there!)



The biting point still wasn't what I was expected or wanted, so I adjusted the clutch cylinder rod at the pedal:


It's still not perfect and I think the  fix would be a replacement master cylinder, but I'll keep at it.

Brake fluid was also flushed and changed out. Needed it.



The passenger side lock cylinder fell into the door after a few goes. Took the door card off and popped it back in. Fiddly little bastard, but got it in eventually!


Next part coming dreckly!

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Whilst the door card was off, I noticed that the speaker cone rubber had separated from the cardboard ring that mounts to the metal frame, presumably due to loads of moisture ingress (The MX5 did exactly the same thing)

Replacing the speakers would have only meant it happened again in the near future, so I decided the remove all the old traces of cardboard, and bond the cone rubber to the metal frame directly.



Not pretty (Applied with a gloved finger as I didn't want to waste a paintbrush), but certainly effective, as it has held nicely and there's no hint of flapping now! 

Also, yay for free repairs.

This was also completely redundant, as the Beat didn't even have a stereo fitted. The cubby is not wide enough to fit a standard DIN stereo, so the previous one was installed where the glovebox was supposed to be. A total bodge, and one I wasn't happy to accept (Old picture for reference)


A quick plug in of the unit revealed the passenger speaker wasn't playing - connection fiddled and it was working again - revealing the driver's speaker was also sounding blown. Wonder what's happened there? 🙄

Either way, that evening, we were left with this:


It doesn't take a blind man to notice there is a LOT of red on that stereo loom, and you'd be correct - this has been completely butchered:


Red tape hiding a whole multitude of sins:


Even black tape hiding - can you guess?


Wrong! It was somehow worse.


Clearly, there was going to be no real way to save this loom, nor would I want to as there's nothing good about it. 

Whipped it all out at the handily inserted chocblock connectors and yeeted the entire lot into the bin:


I took a bit of time and had a thought about what I wanted in terms of a stereo installation, and more specifically where. Once I had the idea and the list of parts required, I ordered everything and cracked on elsewhere.

Such as with this dirty, lumpy washer bottle.


Bit of scrubbing and it came up very nicely.


Co-incided nicely with replacing the windscreen washer pipes.


After the inital wash of the Beat, there were traces of rusty water leaving the bonnet. The bonnet was repaired as it was completely rotten and repainted - although paint can't get everywhere as this little orange giveaway shows.


So, I applied an entire can of cavity wax to the internal skin of the bonnet, propped it up and let it dry, leaving the front end draped in bin bags to protect from run off.




In order to speed up the drying process, in the evenings a bedsheet was draped over the bonnet area and a dehumidifier placed in the spare wheel well. Worked quite well.


Once dried, seam sealer was applied to any areas of the bonnet underside with orange bits, showing either rusty water or wax has seeped out. Will paint at some point.



Not everything cleaned up nicely. This fuel cap was not getting any better!



More to follow - down to the last 40 pictures! 

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All this other work was going on whilst in between doing the really important stuff - further rustproofing!

With the car up as high as it'll go on axle stands:


There was evidence of surface corrosion in some of the crevices where the bitumen stuff hadn't quite reached. The areas I wanted to work on were the front and rear inner arches, the floorpans and the inner sills where it meets the floorpan, plus any other bits encountered along the way.

There aren't many photos of this because it's boring as fuck, but Kurust applied:


Then straight to rust/metal primer:


Then, I applied two brush coats of grey epoxy stone chip. Once dried, I applied two coats of black hammerite because I obviously bought the grey stone chip paint by mistake!


You can also see I fitted a rubber bung in the inner arch on both sides - they must have gone missing during the rebuild. There was also a bung missing in the rear of the drivers footwell - evident by the perfect circle of tar on the underside of the drivers carpet! Once all this was done, the bottom of the outer sills and the front wing bottoms were taped off and the lower sections had hammerite applied - this had been previously bitmuen'd and was coming off, looking quite unsightly.

Naturally, whilst working in this area, the inner sill cavity box sections got absolutely drowned with cavity wax, as did the area inside the side grille panels. I'll look to make some foam blanks up to go in the grilles during washing as the water will just sit in the area otherwise - clearly a very obvious rot trap!

During all this, the Amazon man arrived with all the parts I needed for my stealth stereo install.

Most important was this wee fella, a Bluetooth amplifier board. 


This little box of magic is powered by 12V DC, and contains a Bluetooth receiver, 3.5mm Aux input, two speaker output, and adjustment knobs for volume, bass and treble.

My wishlist for a stereo was quite simple - I wanted Bluetooth, an Aux input, and I wanted to be able to control the music. This box did most of what I wanted, and there were simple workarounds to get exactly what I wanted.

A quick rummage through the house found a suitable electrical connector from a surplus power brick (Blue tape means it hasn't been used since we moved house in 2016 - clearly not needed!):


A bit of soldering action:


Using some spare accessories I had loafing in different cars:


Produced this as an end result.


Now to try and explain it!

I wanted to be able to control the music playing over Bluetooth, but the amplifier board's inbuilt Bluetooth did not have that facility - all you can do is adjust it on your phone if connected as there are no buttons. However, the aux input meant I could connect a standalone Bluetooth receiver, complete with external controls. This receiver, pinched from the MX5, is powered via a USB connector, so some live and earth leads were soldered onto a double USB cig lighter connector and taped up, and the live/neautral lines connected respectively up to a 3-way Wago connector for connection to the switched live and earth lines sat at the chocblock in the car. As the speaker wiring is relatively low voltage, I was content to just replace the chocblock and connect it that way. The circuit board of the amplifier unit was also coated in a protective electrical lacquer to hopefully stave off any corrosion issues.

The benefit of this system is I have control of the music playing through my phone without touching the phone, and the inbuilt Bluetooth takes priority over the auxiliary input, so if my passenger wants to play their music from their phone, they can just connect directly to the amp board and control it through their phone! Everyone wins!

Next, mounting it. The stereo cubby was the only logical place for it -


After a lot of drilling, sanding and filing (The panel was very thick so an air file was used to reduce the thickness to allow the board to be successfully mounted), this was the result:


Once fitted and connected, it was time to give it a proper test (It was Burns Night the night I was working on this - there's a can of Tennent's just out of shot!)

Once tested, I remembered that the drivers' side speaker was still in need of repair, so I got onto that too:


Both are refitted and sound much better with no hint of blowing! Result!

Re-araldited the centre vents as they broke a bit:


Next up, I used a kit that been sat in my inflam locker for years, getting covered in grease in the process!


This made the instructions 1000000 times harder to read, but I thought I did pretty well:



Till I got to the part where it said 'park it in sunlight'. 

Not a problem, except a) the car was on axle stands and immobile, and b) it was well past sunset.

Thankfully I had a UV light from my phone screen protector, so that saved the day:


This did the job - it wasn't a flawless finish, but there were so many things against the job it's hard to say which part caused it. My fault, surely. Much better than it was though so who knows?

Finally, there was the job of giving it a thorough wax and polish. Now, the paintwork wasn't exactly applied in a dust free environment:


But that's no reason not to protect it. Two coats of Auto Glym SRP and two coats of some Simoniz hard wax that's been in my garage for nearly a decade:


And it's come up rather nicely. The wheels also received the same treatment. 

As a bonus, I managed to get some deep scratches out of one of the tail lights with some metal polish, saving me from sourcing another!

With everything coming to a close,, it was time to apply the most important finishing touch of them all:



I even found some spare floor mats from Herman in the rafters, which were actually a really nice fit, as well as being thick and luxurious. The pleather seats were also throughly cleaned - even managed to get the white marks out of the passenger seat base!


The sill join crevices just forward of the side grilles was also painted, lacquered, and waxed to try and stave off any future corrosion around that area.

So, with everything done, all the tools I had been throwing around the garage - 


were packed away, and I could take the car off the axle stands!



Noticed a couple of bumper grilles were missing - one will have been removed from when it was converted for a rear fog:



Found some extra interior plastics in the rafters too, so fitted them. No pics though, but its the vertical panel behind the seats in the next photo.

Finally, the boy was loaded up:


And we took it out for a test drive to get him a haircut!


It drove lovely, but the clutch pedal is still a wee bit stodgy. Once we got home, the car was washed and parked in the garage with the dehumidifier on:


All of this work was done with one purpose in mind - @chatsharriswas coming to visit and it was the first time I'd seen him in months. He was a former 'half-owner' of the Beat with me but has let me buy him out of his half. Least I could do was get it looking absolutely spot on and let him out for a drive!


(He loved it!)

Last part to follow, then I'm up to date!

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So, that was last week. 

Forward to yesterday and I got a few packages in the post:


Which meant dismantling this again!


All my efforts were around the centre dashboard area again:


And this fella first:


Yes, I'd managed to source a replacement.

See, the fella I bought the Beat from had two for sale at the time, the yellow, and this silver one:


And has since turned it into a barchetta version by cutting the window frame off:

Bring that Beat back... 1991 Honda Beat. - Page 25 - Readers' Cars - PistonHeads UK

(Project thread: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=47&t=1768960&i=0 or @beatchetta on IG)

Suffice to say, he doesn't need a heater any more, so he sold me the heater and as a bonus, two brand new heater control knobs, which are unique to the Beat at a very reasonable price - what a legend!

All I needed was the plastic frame itself, so I transposed all the components onto the new unit.



It's not perfect, but it's fully functional and it's given me an idea with my old unit - to be continued, I'm sure!

Fitted it back in and onto the next job:


Once again, a drill was employed:


This was to accommodate the final piece of the stereo puzzle:


A USB and 3.5mm aux in extension. The USB was connected to the cigarette lighter connector and for the Aux-in, a splitter was fitted to the Bluetooth amplifier board, with the standalone Bluetooth receiver being connected to one output, and this 3.5mm extension being connected to the other. This provides yet another option to connect audio to the stereo via an iPod or what have you. As the input is shared, the only difference would be to ensure the Bluetooth music is paused before switching to the iPod. The USB is there to aid charging my phone etc, and a weatherproof rubber cover is fitted too. 

All fitted back up:


Finally, the last job completed was to apply these stickers - very apt, as there is one on the windshield scuttle from the previous owner and the car is a smol yellow buzzy boi!



And that's me up to date! There's a few more jobs on the horizon, but nothing that's going to stop me from enjoying it for a while first and getting out to some classic shows.

Thanks, as always to @twosmoke300 for all his advice and sarcasm over the project :D

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I've recently been using the Laguna to get to and from work, with this full tank dedicated to me doing an economy run. So far, it's going well, with over 200 miles covered and it sitting at approx 2/3 on the gauge.

However, I had noticed a noise emanating from the engine bay, sounding like a squeal, changing with revs. As everything was still working fine, I saw no need to investigate further until the weather improved.

Then, I was about to pull out of the car park at work to head home when the power steering felt 'pulse-y'. No dramas, this cars got a persistent PAS leak so I grabbed the bottle from the boot to fill up.


Disturbingly, the level was fine, but a tiny splash more in the reservoir (and removing the reservoir filter) was just to make sure.

I suspected that the aux belt was a bit far gone - I'd never changed it in my ownership so why not now?

So, a couple of days later, I got my nonce slippers on:


And ran my usual route, but with a stop off at the local factors:


For a new aux belt.


Did a swap with the Beat to get the Laguna in the garage:


And immediately had to abandon the job as it required a 7mm Allen key to loosen the tensioner (pictured), which I did not. The belt definitely needs replacing soon though, it's all cracked.



So, instead I decided to take off and clean the bonnet latches as they are quite stiff.


Where I suddenly noticed the expansion tank was empty.


A bit more diagnosis found that the water pump was leaning which was causing my squealing noise. Picking one up on Monday.

Bugger! Reckon the Laguna heard us discussing whether we need to get a bigger car and decided to shit itself out of spite

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You are the worst person in the entire world.
Cute dawg, though.

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly, but since I started using these for running, my shin splints have all but gone, along with my knee pain.

The calves are still tight as fuck and sore but they're getting much better as my body gets used to them. It's still sheer, unbridled agony every time I stand on a stone or on those lumpy paving stones near junctions.

Overall though, I like them. Will probably buy again, but maybe a slightly thicker soled version (these ones are 5mm thick inclusive of the insole!)

Doggo is cute though, and a hell of a companion. Absolutely my best friend

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, diagnosis was complete and it was off to Euro Car Parts to pick up some parts. Always enjoy the mystery and intrigue of ECP - I know what I ordered, but what was I going to receive? Would it even be for a Renault?


Whilst online, I noticed that oil filters, etc for the Laguna were hovering around the £1.50 mark with the discount code, so I bought a kit, and a service kit for Herman and a few bits for the Beat whilst I was there. They didn't list a fuel filter for the beat, but a bit of digging revealed the Civic Shuttle 1.6 fuel filter /should/ be the same. At £15 it's an expensive punt, but cheaper than the alternative.

Never had a trolley full before.


Whilst loading the kit, this unusual import turned up in the car park:



Spoke to the owner - he was Japanese and it was his parents car, so when he moved to the UK he figured it was better to move here with a car he knew and could trust!

Other tat spotted whilst in Truro that day:



That evening, I went to work on the night shift.

Finished early, so at 0315 that morning, I parked the Laguna into the garage:


Unpacked the boot with all the bits and got started.


My allen key set arrived from Amazon - annoyingly, the short section of the 7mm one was still too long to fit into the bolt head as it was fouling the chassis leg. Bit of angle grinding reduced it to the required length!


Annoyingly, this entire evolution highlighted some problems with the layout of the garage, notable the positioning of the racking and the presence of mine and the boy's bicycles - not an issue with the Beat, but an absolute ballache to jack a normal sized car like the Laguna up. Once up on stands, the bottom hose was removed (Thankfully there was still some coolant in the system which shows it never 'ran dry' before I found the fault), system drained, plastic access fairings removed, aux belt removed and water pump pulley removed (a breeze thanks to me finally unseizing my free rattle gun last year) left me with this view:


As you can see, the belt was already past its prime:


But 9 E8 bolts and a slight mallet tap later, and the old unit was removed and in my hands - remarkably, it's the original unit, from 24 years and 129,000 miles ago! The unit itself was sticking when rotated, with a bit of play in the bearings. Fired into the bin.


Then came the dull task of scraping off all the old gasket that had stuck itself onto the block. Came off all right eventually!

New pump was a budget ECP brand - seems okay though.


Didn't have a torque wrench that went that low for the securing bolts, so went for two white knuckles.

Then pulley back on and new belt fitted.


Once all connected back up, the coolant was filled and car started to begin the bleeding - success! The noise has gone away. Started bleeding the system at the one bleed point it has, when disaster struck:


One half of the bleed screw thread sheared off inside the pipeline, which hadn't sealed, resulting in a permanent slow leak of hot coolant. After much panicking and faffing, I managed to get the thread out, and found a spare bolt that matched the tread pitch and depth. More importantly, it provided a tight seal against the pipeline so order was restored!

Whilst in the area, I replaced the cabin filter - those who read the old thread will remember Phill finding the old one totally clogged. 

Turns out these clogs really quickly/easily. These have a 12,000 mile interval, thank christ they're cheap!


And touch wood, the Laguna has been fine ever since. I topped up the coolant a tiny bit the other day but I'm going to assume that was the last bit of air making its way out of the system. I also cleared the driver's side sunroof drain whilst the fairings were all removed, and that seems to have stopped the roof lining being soaked in a downpour. There's definitely some rustproofing to do soon if we're to keep it for the long term though.

I finished work early Friday morning and set about trying to weatherproof the covered cars by tactically parking the Laguna and Herman, and shoving some spare wheels against the BX's sills to act as windbreaks. Must have worked as the BX's cover was fine, and the MX-5's cover only lifted a bit up the rear bumper. Result.


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  • fatharris changed the title to FatHarris' Life of Shite ***PUMP IT UP 22/2***

Yesterday morning, I received a parcel:


Inside were the Beat parts I ordered from a fella in Poland, namely bumper trims.


I also gave him an extra pound and asked him to throw in some of his favourite sweet treats in as well, which were a bit of plum wrapped in caramel and chocolate. Unusual, but nice :D

It's only small, but it makes a difference:



Finally, I had a quick job today that required removal of the side grille:


Namely, making foam 'blanks' for the grilles. These go straight into the rear quarter panel inside so the aim is to reduce as much water in that area as possible.


10 minutes of hacking about with a Stanley knife produced this:


Which, whilst not pretty, will keep the majority of the water out of the internal cavity when washing/rinsing. Made one for the other side too.

Tested them with a wash (they worked), gave the car a coat of wax and threw some bedsheets over it, to keep the dust off. The dehumidifier runs in the garage 24/7 nowadays anyway to try and keep the rust at bay :mrgreen: 




And that's it for a while - The Laguna is still on an economy run, and doing quite well.


I reckon 500 miles to this tank is perfectly viable, it's had a bit of handicap from doing a lot of idling to bleed the cooling system etc, but it's still pretty decent. Usually get around 320 miles to a tank, filled up on the 2nd and it should see us for the rest of the month. 

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