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1985 BMW E28 520i - The MOT results are in...


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My local motor factor got me in a Dizzy cap today. I really didn't want Intermotor but it's all they could get. At 30 quid it was twice the price of the same on eBay, but I dithered too much and didn't get one ordered in time.

Quality unsurprisingly is not a patch on Bosch or Behr.
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This post is going to be a bit picture light this time as my phone suffered a oil and water incident on Thursday evening. So it's not working properly which is making it a pain to take photos.

Removed the thermostat. Old was stuck in the housing and took a few taps to loosen.
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After cleaning up the surface, I grabbed the thermostat. Not sure why they don't come with one, but I drilled a 2mm hole at the top to assist in bleeding.
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Spent a good while flushing fresh water through the system. Currently still full of tap water, so I'll need to remember to drain it out tomorrow and put proper antifreeze in. Weather is supposed to drop to 6c at the lowest tonight, so should be perfectly safe. (Hopefully that's accurate!!)

Replaced the air filter with a clean new one.
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Chucked the air filter box back in and strapped it all up.
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Then went for a start!

Aww crap.

Slight panic at this point. Nothing I had done should have broken it. But it certainly didn't want to run!

Right so what's wrong? Hmm. Let's just change the dizzy cap and rotor as I have them to hand while the ones in the car are in awful condition.

Also the spark plugs got a soaking when the end of the hose came off during filling the cooling system. So used compressed air to blast that out.

Try again.


Oh indeed.

Right let's engage brain. It's not a misfire as it's running. Just only running on full throttle, but barely and at 2500 rpm. Hmm. That's really sounds like a vacuum leak somewhere. I know the hoses are bad, but none of them looked that bad. But this car is full of vacuum hoses and one could well be holed. Lets have a poke around.


Oh. That will do it. How did that fecker come off.
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The taped hose was covering a massive split.
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Other hoses are shot too and not grabbing, so found some heater hose to replace what I could. The bottom hose that came off originally goes to some sort of valve that is on the heater circuit. If my memory serves me correct, this opens up when cold to provide the fast idle.
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While I was doing this, I replaced the hose that goes to the vacuum advance. I didn't have any the right size, so I nicked some by shortening another elsewhere on the car. It's the red striped hose that is the vacuum hose and it goes to some sort of valve. This goes to the vacuum advance and the blue striped hose is the bit I nicked from elsewhere.
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Also decided to replace this very worn brake vacuum hose. If this wasn't already split, it wouldn't be long before it did.
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The fuel hose just before the fuel regulator looked like it was cracking too. This is replaced with some genuine Gates Barracuda hose that is fully ethanol compliant. I want to get the rest of the hoses changed out to ethanol grade but I have run out of my personal stash of it. I'll get it done after its got an MOT.
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Third time lucky?


It smells pretty rich even when warm to me. I've noticed previously in the MOT history that it's been pretty close to an emission fail. I don't know if that was a cold or warm engine though.

Next thing tomorrow will be to go probing with the multimeter and check the resistance of the thermistors. Either something like that or it just needs a jolly good drive.

I've got new plugs to go in, but the existing ones don't look that bad tbh. Probably could do with a new set of ignition leads but they're pretty pricey. Again something for post MOT.
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Ordered this for fixing the heater valve issue. It says it's for a E36 but the part number on it says otherwise. I chose this one as it was the cheapest with a decent amount of loom cable on the connector for soldering on to. It does appear the connector is pretty universal on BMWs and MINIs for quite a few years - used extensively as the external temperature sensor connector.

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https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/273983935906

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Drained the coolant to refill with antifreeze and water. Heater valve definitely needs replacing as I think it's creating an airlock back there.

When running up, I did notice that the temperature was getting awfully hot. IR gun on the thermostat housing was reading around 98c at this point. Bleed screw wasn't really releasing any air.
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Not sure why it's getting so hot. Possibly an airlock? I did try pretty hard to remove as much air as possible when refilling. I wouldn't think an airlock in the cabin heater matrix should cause this issue.

Maybe the vicious fan isn't very effective anymore? Definitely spins when the engine is running, but I don't think it's getting noticeably quicker when the engine is getting hotter. When I removed it originally, the back did have a distinctive burning smell that you get with old ATF.

While I was there, I dumped the oil and changed it along with the filter. 15w-40 semi-synthetic has gone in.
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Then buttoned up the undertray, ready for the car to be dropped down. I don't think there is much else that needs to be done underneath. Fuel filter needs changing but that's at the rear anyway. Tempting to get the garage to do that after an MOT as it'll be a really easy job for them to do.
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Finally I had the satisfaction of filling and sticking this on. Also went over the old markings for any future owners.
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Nah this isn't a Vauxhall. ;)

Of course it will wiggle around unlike damped gauges but it shouldn't be this high. It's too hot for running at idle in 6c weather. Pretty sure there is an airlock in the heater core due to the valve being busted and blocking the flow. 

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My E28 520i only began to run hot after towing the caravan, and then only when the viscous fan had begun to degrade.  I did something to mechanically lock the viscous bit so that the fan always turned at pulley speed. I hardly noticed any difference in mpg and there was no increase in noise, but it solved the problem.  

Nice, comfortable, refined, very well designed and constructed cars, although the outer double ball joint per side on the lower front arms became a pain at MOT time when the mileage was around 100K unless expensive BMW parts were used.  Poor quality joints did not last long.

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Left the Ozone generator in for a good 100 minutes. Seems to have killed most of the fusty smoke smell. Probably some will like that smell but to me it makes me feel a bit sick. If that does it to me, then Mrs SiC will definitely hate it. Plan is also to run the steam cleaner on the headlining to try removing the yellow tar/nicotine crap stuck in there. Otherwise in a hot summers day, the smell will come back with a vengeance.
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Dropped the car down back onto four wheels on the ground.
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Fuel warning light has gone out but the fuel gauge isn't registering still. Actually I think it's registering lower than when the light was on.
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I went to take a look at the heater valve, but before I did that I found another vacuum hose. I can't see or even feel where this goes but it disappears around the distributor area, so presumably this is the second vacuum line for it.
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Completely split at the manifold end. Chopped this end bit off to good part of the hose. This car is so full of vacuum hoses - I think more than any car I've owned or worked on before and I have owned a lot of modern cars.
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The heater valve is at the back of the bulkhead and bit of a bugger to get to.
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After trying removing the screws and finding the hoses not long enough, I decided to try just taking the top solenoid section off.
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I was expecting coolant to be either in here or even trying to escape. Definitely this valve isn't letting coolant through. Undoing the coolant reservoir cap got it flowing up out.
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The business end of the valve is pretty messy. Some point in its history the coolant system has been neglected on this car. Iirc it was laid up for a number of years when the first owner died and eventually his son pressed it back into action. No doubt that sitting and then using probably did no favours to the cooling system.
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Trying the solenoid on the bench showed it consumed a decent amount of power but didn't do the much in the way of movement.
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Stripping it down found it was in a pretty corroded state.

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After freeing up the parts with GT85, the solenoid started moving again.
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To me that shaft looks like it's missing a c-clip. Perhaps rusted off from the coolant going off?

Playing around with it, it looks like there is a rubber stopper that pushes out the rubber diaphragm to cut the water flow. When not actuated, a spring pulls the shaft back in. With out the c-clip there isn't anything to pull back the diaphragm. Not least there would be back pressure on the valve holding it shut.

The Revs picture of the service diagrams helps visualise how it's supposed to work. On these, it looks like there should be a clip at the bottom.
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I should have a box of c-clips around but I'm blowed if I can find them. Mrs SiC will point out to me that if my garage wasn't such a messy state, it would be a lot easier to find things...

Putting the solenoid back into the car and turning the heating control gives a good solid thunk now. However without a c-clip I suspect that forward water flow will simply force the valve shut. Hence giving me the air lock.

Finally there has been an anonymous looking button/switch by the steering wheel that I couldn't decide what it did or even if it was a button. Fiddling with it some more got it to pop out.
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It appears to be an electric window disable button. A very weird position for it and even more unusual to not put any insignia on it, to make it clear what it actually does.

In other news, once this heater valve issue is sorted and I check the car isn't going to overheat, I'll get an MOT booked up. Biggest thing that's stopping me right now is actually the ruddy great big skip next to it blocking the car in. That should hopefully be gone next week once our new kitchen is finished.

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  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - MOT prep

That's an overload switch, it pops out of the windows get something stuck in them, you can just reset them by pushing it back in.

Check that the viscous fan isn't just 'windmilling', it needs to be drawing plenty of air through the rad. Check the rad isn't partially blocked too, otherwise the viscous fan won't work.

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As you're discovering, all those hoses are critical to correct running. They'll nearly all be split near the ends and any convoluted hoses will be split in the depths, making them tricky to locate, they're a bit of a 'mare, some of them are made a specific shape that's difficult to replicate using standard hose sizes.

 

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27 minutes ago, spartacus said:

As you're discovering, all those hoses are critical to correct running. They'll nearly all be split near the ends and any convoluted hoses will be split in the depths, making them tricky to locate, they're a bit of a 'mare, some of them are made a specific shape that's difficult to replicate using standard hose sizes.

 

I'm definitely finding this. I might get an assortment of couplings with different shape bends in. Also make an inventory of pipes and replace the lot. However I think I've got the worst ones sorted now. 

RBJ also suggested to take off the TPS and make sure it's not full of oil. Then check the idle switch is being activated at the correct point. Once all sorted the idle speed will need to be tweaked as it's probably been previously adjusted to get around the leaks. 

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If you're finding that much gunk in the cooling system it's quite possible your radiator is plugged up. I had issues with my P6 running hot and I tried everything including taking it out and flushing it but nothing worked until I had it re-cored and the problem went away.

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49 minutes ago, SiC said:

I'm definitely finding this. I might get an assortment of couplings with different shape bends in. Also make an inventory of pipes and replace the lot. However I think I've got the worst ones sorted now. 

RBJ also suggested to take off the TPS and make sure it's not full of oil. Then check the idle switch is being activated at the correct point. Once all sorted the idle speed will need to be tweaked as it's probably been previously adjusted to get around the leaks. 

Good call on both of those. There's also a manually adjustable IACV underneath the manifold, from memory, they often get adjusted to 'fix' idling issues caused by split hoses, then forgotten about.

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Curing one problem leads you to others.

I am having the same with my SD1. I decided to replace the fuel hoses - it would be wise to service the injectors while they are out. I have refitted the throttle potentiometer only to confirm it is worn out. No longer available, I will see if I can bodge what I have.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last week I discovered the radiator leaking.
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Nothing has been done since apart from being order the second hand one - thanks RBJ for sourcing it. It should be arriving tomorrow.

In other news, it appears I bought just at the right time according to Mr Bell:
https://www.classiccarsmagazine.co.uk/blog/market-insights/market-watch-bmw-5-series-surge/

Which explains why stuff like radiators are NLA for the porridge models like this 520i. Surges only happen when the demand is there still and numbers have heavily dwindled. Hence the parts situation on E28 only specifics.

Will be glad to start to drive this. Can't book an MOT still though as it is still hemmed in by the skip.

Especially as my eye is already wandering and that will only be kept in check by driving it!

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I'm guessing you could have had it re-cored if the tanks are okay and you couldn't find a second hand one? With my P6 I had it re-cored for 100 something quid by a company in an industrial estate in Glasgow.

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1 minute ago, cort16 said:

I'm guessing you could have had it re-cored if the tanks are okay and you couldn't find a second hand one? With my P6 I had it re-cored for 100 something quid by a company in an industrial estate in Glasgow.

That would have been the only choice if I didn't have this second hand unit coming. Many places don't like re-coring with plastic tanks though. @panhard65 had already contacted the local radiator repair company to me for another job and they said they're very busy. The one that RBJ sourced is only 70quid and looks in decent condition. So hopefully quicker and cheaper than a re-core.

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Hoping that the UPS driver doesn't damage it either.

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Apparently drops right in and you can leave those holes open without a problem. I might plug them up with something though if I can find something suitable.

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Enjoying the read. Always wanted the 525e but prices are now out of my range :-(

I managed to get my old Audi rad re-cored by this bloke in Avonmouth.  Arrow Radiators. Was not especially cheap (120ish compared to 80 to 90 plus postage from Germany) but it was a good job and I had it within a week. He actually used brand new plastic tanks that fitted the pattern I had.  IIRC he said he was doing quite a few early golf rads like this. Worth a ring if you get stuck!

For pipes I have used Pirtec.  They sell latest ethanol resistant etc. You might get some rubber pipe for the vacuum hose there.

HTH

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2 hours ago, SiC said:

.... stuff like radiators are NLA for the porridge models like this 520i. Surges only happen when the demand is there still and numbers have heavily dwindled. Hence the parts situation on E28 only specifics....

I had a look at what Walloth & Nesch (usually good for old BMW parts) had to offer in radiators, and even they don't currently have one. They have them brand-new for 518s, 525s, 528s and the M535i, but not the 520i...

Prices are a bit stiff, though. 400 Euros-plus....!

Also the SI board is still available

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The lack of spare parts is definitely off putting on the ownership experience. I'm hoping that once this is replaced, it should be ready for an MOT after fixing the heater valve + bleeding. 

I hate the thought of having to go through this pain of trying to source bits anytime something breaks. Really didn't expect this on a German car by a manufacturer still in business. 

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15 minutes ago, SiC said:

The lack of spare parts is definitely off putting on the ownership experience. I'm hoping that once this is replaced, it should be ready for an MOT after fixing the heater valve + bleeding. 

I hate the thought of having to go through this pain of trying to source bits anytime something breaks. Really didn't expect this on a German car by a manufacturer still in business. 

I am very very surprised to hear you can’t locate parts for your E28. As mentioned above, Walloth & Nesch carry a large and varied  product line for all older BMWs and have also remanufactured many parts that are available off the shelf too, BMW themselves still stock a vast variety of parts for all models, interior trim is hard to come by but mechanical, running gear and body panels in particular are all mostly still available direct. I never failed to locate new panels and mechanical parts for my E3s, E9s, E28 and the E32 735i that I ran as a daily up until quite recently, I can even still get every body panel for my Z1 if required directly from BMW.. I will agree that some parts can be expensive however they are mostly all still readily available as I’ve found in the 25 years I’ve owned older Beemers.. 

EDIT - Ivo at e28.nl is also a very good source of parts for older BMWs, the E28 is his speciality though, top bloke too.

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5 minutes ago, SiC said:

The lack of spare parts is definitely off putting on the ownership experience. I'm hoping that once this is replaced, it should be ready for an MOT after fixing the heater valve + bleeding. 

I hate the thought of having to go through this pain of trying to source bits anytime something breaks. Really didn't expect this on a German car by a manufacturer still in business. 

These cars are all over 30 years old now. Plastics go brittle and crack, things get dislodged. Nothing lasts forever, even if it was well-built originally.

BMW are better than most for old parts supply (you can still order bits for O2s and E3/E9/E12), but they do work on a batch basis. I had a taste of this during my E24 years, having to wait for bits of trim. I still can't believe I paid £400+VAT for each front wing panel back then....

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I am very very surprised to hear you can’t locate parts for your E28. As mentioned above, Walloth & Nesch carry a large and varied  product line for all older BMWs and have also remanufactured many parts that are available off the shelf too, BMW themselves still stock a vast variety of parts for all models, interior trim is hard to come by but mechanical, running gear and body panels in particular are all mostly still available direct. I never failed to locate new panels and mechanical parts for my E3s, E9s, E28 and the E32 735i that I ran as a daily up until quite recently, I can even still get every body panel for my Z1 if required directly from BMW.. I will agree that some parts can be expensive however they are mostly all still readily available as I’ve found in the 25 years I’ve owned older Beemers.. 
 


A lot of parts are available for the bigger and more exotic stuff like the M5/M535i/etc. They're the ones of course that people preserve. Middle porridge stuff like a 520i are harder though. Possibly because many were binned and so not many left. Interestingly the 518i still has a fairly good supply - I guess because, like a lot of cars, the low spec ones are popular with older people who keep their cars longer.

BMW OEM do have quite a few parts available. However they not only seem to be suffering the same problem as other classic car parts being poor quality repro. e.g. the OEM BMW heater valve is no longer Bosch and of poor quality. Then those official parts seem to require you to sell a kidney every time you need something. At least that's what I've found when I've enquired for bits on this. However a lot is surprisingly NLA.

Thankfully a lot of the core engine bits have been used on enough other models that they are readily available. Also the E30 still seems to have a ready supply of parts too and those that are shared, are affordable and obtainable. I guess because there are so many more E30 left around and so a ready market for parts still to be made.

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2 hours ago, billy_bunter said:

I managed to get my old Audi rad re-cored by this bloke in Avonmouth.  Arrow Radiators. Was not especially cheap (120ish compared to 80 to 90 plus postage from Germany) but it was a good job and I had it within a week. He actually used brand new plastic tanks that fitted the pattern I had.  IIRC he said he was doing quite a few early golf rads like this. Worth a ring if you get stuck!

They were the guys I was talking about that Panhard65 had spoken to. Useful to know they did a good job, as I need to find someone for my Dolomite radiator at some point soon. 

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Fitted new, second hand radiator today.
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Nothing really to say. Single bolt at the top and three hoses to unclamp then remove.
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Old radiator is date coded 1998, so not that old.
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The leak appears to be because the core is coming away from the tank. Bit of a weird fault and not what I expected, as no obvious reason why it should have done that. Probably repairable?
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New radiator is date coded 2009, so a decade newer.
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Also put a circlip and washer on the end of the heater valve pintle. Hopefully this will fix it. If the valve still plays up, I'll put the E46 one in instead. The circlip was a bit too big and loose, so I squished it with a pair of vice grips.
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Filled the system up the best I could and unbolted + held the tank high to try bleeding the best I could. Couldn't see any leaks thankfully. I'll run it up tomorrow and try getting it up to temperature. Hopefully it will be possible to bleed through and not cause it to start roasting itself again.




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Bleeding coolant systems on these older M20B20 (and M30B35) engines can be a challenge. I have used this guide before with success on both my 735i (M30) and also “tailored” the same procedure to my Z1 (M20B25)  when I changed the timing belt and water pump last year, it does work and saves a load of faffing.

https://www.mye28.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=58368

 

 

 

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  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - The MOT results are in...

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      After lurking here for a short while, frankly liking what I see and enjoying the various shite, the site has well and truly struck a chord with me. I'm a serial buyer of ropey sub £1k vehicles, don't have to but genuinely enjoy it.
       
      I feel like I might (Just might) have found my 'spiritual' home here
       
      I've been posting across the web on owner specific forums (Usually using either my JoeyEunos or RandomPrecion handles) for a while now, but from here-on-in I will pull my threads together and merge them here into one ghastly topic.
       
      My current steeds...
       
      Lupo 1.7 SDI
       
      SAM_5560 by
       
      and the work/story so far...http://forums.clublupo.co.uk/index.php?/topic/102863-joeyeunoss-sdi-beater/
       
      Golf Mk4 SDI
       
       
      SAM_5531 by
       
      and the thread.... http://uk-mkivs.net/topic/597074-project-slow/
       
      Early (1989) Mk1 Eunos (This one was recently sold)
       
      SAM_4656 by
       
      the thread...http://www.mx5nutz.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=213274
       
      Other shite I've owned and moved on in the last year include this ropey Passat...
       
      SAM_6011 by
       
      and this legendary £300 Fiesta Finesse...
       
      Festa by
       
      Cars I'd like to own/actively looking for in the forthcoming weeks/months/years...
       
      Rover 75 (Dizzler)
      Peugeot 405 (XUD)
      Mk1 Octavia (Estate/dizzler, pre pd or SDI)
      Honda CRV (Gen1)
      Volvo 240/850
    • By Zelandeth
      Well I've been meaning to sign up here in forever, but kept forgetting. Thanks to someone over on another forum I frequent poking me about it recently the subject was forced back into my very brief attention span for long enough to get me to act on the instruction.

      I figure that my little varied fleet might bring you lot some amusement...

      So...we've got:

      1993 Lada Riva 1.5E Estate (now fuel injected, as I reckon the later cars should have been from the factory...).
      1989 Saab 900i Automatic.
      1987 Skoda 120LX 21st Anniversary Special Edition.
      1985 Sinclair C5.
      2009 Peugeot 107 Verve.

      Now getting the photos together has taken me far longer than I'd expected...so you're gonna get a couple of photos of each car for now, and I'll come back with some more information tomorrow when I've got a bit more time...

      Firstly...The Lada. Before anyone asks - in response to the single question I get asked about this car: No, it is not for sale. Took me 13 years and my father's inheritance to find the thing.


      Yes, it's got the usual rusty wings...Hoping that will be resolved in the next couple of months.

       






      Next, a proper old Saab. One of the very last 8 valve cars apparently, and all the better for it. I've driven two 16v autos and they were horrible - the auto box works sooooo much better with the torque curve of the 8 valve engine. Just wish it had an overdrive for motorway cruising...









      Next up a *real* Skoda...back when they put the engine where it belongs, right out the back. In the best possible colour of course...eye-searingly bright orange.







      Seat covers have been added since that photo was taken as it suffers from the usual rotting seat cloth problem that affects virtually all Estelles.

      Then we have possibly the world's scruffiest Sinclair C5...



      Realised when looking for this that I really need to get some more photos of the thing...I use it often enough after all! We have a dog who's half husky, so this is a really good way of getting him some exercise.

      Finally - again, I really need to take more photos of - we have the little Pug 107.



      Included for the sake of variety even if it's a bit mainstream! First (and probably to be the only) new car I've bought, and has been a cracking little motor and has asked for very little in return for putting up with nearly three years of Oxford-Milton Keynes commuter traffic, before finally escaping that fate when my housemate moved to a new job. Now it doesn't do many miles and is my default car for "when I've managed to break everything else."

      I'll fill in some more details tomorrow - I warn you though that I do tend to ramble...
    • By mk2_craig
      Folks.  I don't care that the subject matter of this thread is, relatively-speaking, basically a new car.  I'm calling it shite and anybody who disagrees after letting the pictures do the talking can vanish off up their own arse as far as I'm concerned.
      With that out the way, here's the first bit of the tale.  I'll be brief.  Up until last August my wife was running this Astra Twintop of 2007 vintage.  Luxurious with the top spec "Design" trim level complete with comedy useless early built-in satnav tech, quick with the 2 litre Turbo motor.  Just about 34k on the clock at that point, and it had been treated to four new tyres the previous month.  Drove lovely.

      She then decides that a Mini convertible would be the way to go.  Here's the newest one she could find within budget :

      R57, registered mid 2010, Cooper S with the 1.6 turbo engine.  Looks alright eh?  




      Ok, it has some wheel and tyre-related issues.



      Admittedly, some perished rubber seals would want dealing with.



      Granted, those wipers are shagged.

      And those shitty, SHITTY "Cooper script" decals are way past their best, as are the faded and peeling bonnet stripes.


      Chunk missing outa that A-pillar trim, and what about that aerial?

      Oh.


      Someones only gone and nicked the COOPER S badges, but at least the bodywork's tidy, right?












      Hmmm.  Well, at least it still has a full set of locking nuts, doesn't it?




      OH COME ON!!!!

      So the background is that one of our local Polish car traders took it in as a part-ex against something better.  Usually he would smarten it up to punt on at a nice profit, but with his bodyshop man out of action he wanted this one off the books pronto and put it up for a couple of grand below the going rate.  I think most on here would have probably recommended walking away as rapidly as possible, but I can only conclude that I was high that day, because apparently we agreed a deal in which he took the Astra PLUS CASH against this tatty BINI.   Therefore it's been on fleet strength for the last seven and a half months.
      WCPGW??
    • By Peter C
      Woke up this morning, had a little time before I had to leave the house for work, had a quick look at what’s new for sale on Retro Rides and saw an ad for a W124 200E manual, located 15 miles from home. I had no intention of buying a car today but I had to have it! I called the seller and arranged a viewing.
       
      Faults:
       
      2 x rusty front wings (TADTS)
      1 x rusty rear arch
      Needs a polish
      Tracking is out because new track rod end was fitted for MoT
      Engine has oil leak/s
       
      Good points:
       
      It’s a W124 200E!
      5 speed manual transmission
      New clutch
      Brand new MoT
      Superb MoT history
      4 x as new Continental tyres
      Last owner for 15 years, her husband before that for 4 years
      Very tidy MB-Tex interior
      Drives well
      All electrics work
       
      The dealer kindly delivered the car to my house but I managed a pez station shot on route:
       

       
      Plans:
       
      Remove front wings, cut away rust and apply plenty of wob.
      In-situ similar repair for rear arch
      Clean and polish
      Service engine
      Adjust tracking
      Leave patina and enjoy the car as it is
       
      I will update this thread once progress is made.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Hopefully these two will become good friends.
       

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