Hooniverse Asks: How’s your project car doing?

Right now, my Mitsubishi Montero is down. It’s nothing catastrophic. I’ve sent the gauge cluster off to be fixed, as I tried “fixing” it myself. Now it’s actually being fixed. The reason I was playing with it was to roll the odometer up to where it should be. A prior owner replaced the gauge cluster at one point and the mileage has been considerably off ever since. I want to put it back where it belongs. At least, close to it.

Though when I was tinkering with Montero stuff recently, I did drop a screw in the valley at the top of the engine. And it landed in a small puddle of oil. So that means I now have a reason to pull the top bits off the engine and take a gander.

On the Jaguar side of the equation, the car is losing oil somewhere. It’s not dripping. It’s not smoking. But my oil gauge once again showed lower and lower pressure. So I checked the oil and it’s pretty empty. And it was just given a fresh oil change about a month or two ago. This is not a good problem. I’m going to pull the plugs and give those an eyeball before I eventually get pissed that I can’t get to the back two, scream and want to throw a tool, and then toss oil in the car and drop it off at the shop while I light money on fire.

Other than that, I can’t complain… how are your project cars going as we close out 2021?

21 Comments

  1. Sold my landshark (with loss of course)……and wasn’t able to resist temptation soon after, so bought MB SL500 Designo Edition (1 of 500), again based on photos (I’m a moron, I know), this time at least the car has some kind of history file and I have Badvin report.
    So this will be my project when I receive it, in Jan., probably. Fingers crossed.

    1. congrats! R129? friggin love those cars even though I’ve never so much as rode in one. what does the Designo package get you?

      1. Yea, R129. It’s like the one on BaT link below, cars of that Edition have special paint and interior with some red leather I’m not the biggest fan of, oh and AMG interior carbon parts, which in my car’s case have cracks in them next to the gear lever, no idea how to fix this, I will have to put non-slip mat or something over them to cover up. It’s rough, was cheap and needs some parts and care. Cost is less than $10k delivered because of this, even if I have to replace a lot of parts I will hopefully be still on the black as good ones cost much more and even more here in Europe. Then again, I thought the same when buying the 928… https://bringatrailer.com/listing/2000-mercedes-benz-sl500-70/

        1. if it didn’t have the carbon trim the wood laminate would (heh) be equally cracked. source: a few W123s and W124s. cracked dash trim is a reality of old benz life.

  2. Bultakenstein is on indefinite hold while I work on The Bride. I got the front brake and rear suspension doted out, and was about to mount footpegs. Unfortunately, I had a nasty bit of melanoma removed about a week ago and everything is full stop for about another month. The workshop is off limits until my skin grafts are complete. Just as a public service announcement, wear sunscreen every damned day. This is a majorly crappy thing to go through.

  3. My wife’s prior car had been breaking down intermittently–engine would sometimes cut off when the vehicle was stopped for traffic or a light and then would not fire up, but 20-30 minutes later it would be fine again. No diagnostic codes would be retained, and we couldn’t “make” it act up. I had it at a dealership for more than a week and they would periodically chase parts with it, but never diagnosed anything and they finally called me to take it home unrepaired. I took it to work one morning and it quit on me about a quarter mile from a trusted independent repair shop, so I ran over there while it was still in failure mode to see if they could diagnose something while it was dead. Unfortunately, whatever fault sidelined it had already self-reset by the time they got to it, and I drove the rest of the way to the office.

    From that point, I kept an OBD2 tool hooked up to it constantly. Eventually I captured some codes during a failure. Diagnosis pointed to a cam timing sensor.

    By this time, my wife had already purchased another vehicle, so getting the old one fixed became less of a priority. And then my office went to Work From Home, so commuting hasn’t been an urgency. It sat untouched in the driveway for a year and a half, except to move it to another parking place in the driveway (remember that it still ran, but was unpredictable as to when you might spend a half hour blocking an intersection).

    I bought the parts, and watched Youtube videos about swapping out the sensor. All the videos I saw said that removal was a frustrating task. The sensor itself is plastic and goes through a hole in the timing chain cover, but over time, hot oil builds up and distorts the shape of the sensor so that it won’t go back out the way it came in–sort of like trying to put a used wine cork back into the neck of a bottle. Sure enough, I could twist the sensor but not extract it.

    Over several sessions totaling 4 hours, we were able to pry, grind, and break away pieces of the sensor (hopefully not leaving too much debris in the oil pan), and finally last week the old sensor was removed. The new sensor slipped back in, and a short time later all the accessories and belts were installed.

    I hooked the battery back up, and a rather large spark jumped from the negative terminal. When I went to start the car, the starter wouldn’t engage. A number of other electrical items aren’t working, including door locks and dome lights, yet the HVAC fan blows and the radio plays music. The dash lights up but not the shifter indicator.

    So, solid progress forward together with a new set of problems.

  4. As a regular can’t-shut-upper, I have probably written too much about too little already. Dropped my Centennial off for a proper round of maintenance and a handful repairs – in March. Unfortunately, my mechanic has spent a lot of this year at the hospital and encountered a fair bit of harsh challenges on top of that. So I don’t want to blame him, but my project car remains partially dismounted at his property. My hope is to get the car back, fixed or just put together again, for the coming summer season.

    My other project idea, electrifying something cheap and cool, seems impossible due to very difficult local regulations. So I spend my car time doing stupid stuff like making this small booklet. Yay!

  5. Still only the one car (Mazda2) in the family fleet, but it’s only got 110k kms or so, so its needs are still pretty minimal. Some of the underside has a bit of surface rust that I intend to clean up in the spring, and the rear brake drums are very crusty, so I’ll have to do something with that. As much as I’d like to pick up a project car (there’s a nearby tow yard with an XJS they’ll auction off eventually that’s been calling my name), first priority is getting my wife something to drive (probably an older minivan, we’re not going to put a ton of mileage on it, so something cheaper is ok). Also, house stuff is a bigger priority

    I have my old Honda Rebel stashed away in the garage as well, but as much as it needs some love, that’s on hold until I might get my money’s worth out of riding it. But, as it’s effectively worthless, not much point in selling it.

  6. Ha, my Imp(s) is still firmly garage-bound but at least in the past 12 months I have done a few things. It’s been waylaid by house projects and work which I can see continuing unfortunately.

  7. The Free-B sits (well, rests up high) with no progress. Several projects jumped the line:
    Helping our daughter’s family move
    Getting the Ranchero ready for Lemons at Buttonwillow
    Clearing our 11 acres for fire safety and a controlled burn (we live in Northern California in fire zone)
    Taking car of mother in law in the hospital and now her estate

    Just like that we went from July tot he end of the year. 2022 should be better. Hope springs eternal.

  8. This year has been the only time since I’ve bought my first car 18 years ago that I haven’t had a project car to tinker on. It’s been a rather odd feeling to be honest.

  9. My ’82 Volvo 240 Turbo wagon is having an extended spa day in the garage, well deserved after four years worth of daily driving. I’m treating it to new rear axle bearings, overdrive unit repair and getting a rust hole patched in its floor. Strongly leaning toward ordering an IPD turbo camshaft and adjustable timing gear set as an xmas present to myself!

    Meanwhile, my ’79 240 wagon has passed the shakedown stage and is now my daily. Many more bugs await squashing: rear gate lock is crap (currently must open it from inside), window scrapers on the doors have all but disintegrated, radiator has small but persistent leak, plus a dozen other annoyances. The biggest item right now is the M46 transmission, which shifts just fine and doesn’t leak, but loves to slip itself out of 2nd gear. I’ll likely swap it out this spring with one of my spares, which, as I recall, shifts just fine and doesn’t slip out of gear, but leaks ever so slightly. On a 42-year-old car, this seems like a reasonable compromise.

    My ’82 240 sedan awaits a K-Jet fuel distributor swap, but that’s waaaaay down on the list.

    And, my Econoline van is still slowly, slowly, slowly being converted into a camping rig, with the latest development being a major score of obtainium in the form of -free- acoustic/thermal insulation for the interior, more on that later.

    Project car? Hell, they’re ALL project cars. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  10. a junkyard trip and a few evenings of cursing have been the only work I’ve done on my W124 this year. it’s been pretty free of real trouble, but i hear a few rattles that i don’t like. i intend to sell it soon, not sure if it’s worth fixing the rattles before i do so. almost certainly not. yet i’m almost certainly going to do it anyway.

    my Miata hasn’t had any work done to it at all in the last year or so. soups probably take it for an oil change.

    between the pandemic and a three mile commute, these cars don’t see a lot of mileage. i may change jobs to one that’s eleven miles away instead, which would be a game changer. might have to start taking care of my cars again. i’m hoping my slate of house projects will ramp down enough to allow this, but i know that it won’t.

    1. My old Alfa Spider is a stalled project and has been for a while because it’s sort of at that 85 percent point where THE LAW of diminishing returns not only has told me to stop but has turned on the lights and siren. You see, the car is mechanically sound* and cosmetically pretty okay. In fact it is good enough that I drove her to 500 miles round-trip to Austin to participate in a car show at the F1 track there (the big draw was that we got to drive our cars a couple of parade laps around the track). It was actually a fun driving trip, thanks to the miracle of noise cancelling ear buds, and I got to drive up the hill to Turn One at COTA.

      However, that trip also pointed out the places where a classic car that is essentially a weekend cruiser and local-car-show car participant differs from a real . I mean, the horn works great, and the headlights (on a relay set up) are adequate. But the wipers – who ever takes his old car out in the rain?- move slower that Scrooge McDuck on his way to a meeting with the IRS. Same with the heater fan. A LOT more noise than air flow. Oh, and the gauge lights: fifty year-old Italian wiring carries just enough electricity to the 5 watt gauge lights to prove that it’s doing its job well just enough show that said wiring exists. At night though the glow from Alpha Centuri is brighter. Only one channel of the “stereo” is working. Most annoying and most expensively is that the freaking paint on the speedometer needle is flaking off but hasn’t fallen meaning I see it every time I look at the gauge. It annoys me but I’d have to pull the gauge and mail it to Palo Alto for have it fixed. Finally, there’s the infamous they-all-do-that failed cigarette lighter. It’s a pointless fix – who smokes these days, and more to the point it’s very cool but peculiar design means you can’t insert a power plug in it. But, but, it you fix it, it rings a little bell when your cigarette is lit!! Great car show stuff. However it is a part that Ferrari also used so it costs $201.02 plus shipping from the U.K. … to ring a little bell cause, that’s all I would do with it.

      On the exterior side, well, the car is 50 years old but the paint is a 25 year old respray. If it were original, I could brag up the patina- “it’s only original once, ya know!” – but as it is, well, it’s just old paint with 25 years of scratches and dings. It needs paint, but Mrs. Lokki will shoot me, twice, if I have the car painted. She says my expensive-enough-as-it-is toy looks just fine. Further I while I can argue that fresh paint will increase the value of the car, that is only true if I SELL it. And the truth is that the increase in value according to the Hagerty Valuation Tool will be a few thousand less than a good respray.

      So….I may go ahead and disassemble the dash and console since that is the hideout of most of the bandits…but my garage isn’t heated and winter is here…and it isn’t air conditioned which eliminates April to November, unless one enjoys sweating.

      These things will definitely get done though, probably mañana, or the day after.

      Here’s a link to that made-by-the-sole-remaining-Italian-virgin cigarette lighter, if you’re curious:

      https://classicalfa.com/el067-cigarette-lighter-oem/

  11. Project car, project car…. ah, yes, I don’t do joyriding anymore.

    I have to change the oil, but I won’t get it warm by driving, since I don’t have winter tires anymore.

    This year, after a short excursion into the world of guitar effect pedals, I dived into the world of low-end astronomy – only to realize that the world of ocular lenses is as vast as the world of effects…

  12. The Trans Am has a very few needs and I have more than a few wants, but it mostly sits relegated behind things that Need to be Done. I warm the fluids every now and then but don’t trust it well enough to use it to go pick up plumbing parts or drop the kids at soccer practice.

    I could see myself swapping it out for a fun car I would not fear to leave me stranded during this time where every one of my minutes seems to be spoken for already.

  13. My project vehicle front is quiet. Long Truck (2002 F150) got a new fuel pump in October amidst much cursing of fuel line fittings and currently needs an oil change, after being driven only 4000 miles in 14 months because I work from home and only use it when I need a truck. Moby Dick (2003 Buick LeSabre) got a CV axle and a less janky exhaust hanger repair and mostly needs to be driven. Once I finish my garage makeover my 78 BMW R100S is due for a service and I’m going to finally resurrect my wife’s 83 Honda CM250C from its long slumber. I also need to service the bicycle fleet, all six of them.
    Meanwhile my son’s garage is a hive of activity as he chases the last fuel trim gremlins in his 2000 Corolla, sorts out his newly acquired 99 3/4 ton Suburban, bought in haste and repenting at leisure over the worn out front suspension and plans an endgame for his 96 1/2 Suburban with a good slushbox and incipient main or rod bearing failure. This may be a donor for his friend’s 91 Camaro which has developed transmission maladies

  14. The Thunderbird is put to bed for the winter and I have ideas for all kinds of winter projects that almost certainly won’t happen. Fix the power windows, fix some of the many leaks, get that top replaced, etc.

    The BMW needs the airbag light extinguished so it can be sold. Hopefully that will happen this week.

    The Tundra needs the front axle 4WD actuator replaced so that I can have 4WD again. I have the part, just need to crawl under and do it.

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