It’s not peer pressure. Just because I don’t lay on my back every evening with warm multigrade running down the inside of my sleeves doesn’t make me any less of a man. Much as I’d have liked one, I’ve never had a project car because I’ve never really had the time, the space, the funds nor the knowledge to take one on. Well, we all have to start somewhere. Suddenly, and probably misguidedly, my daily driver Audi has become my project car. Take the jump for all the how on Earths and the why the hells. I’m not afraid to wield a spanner at my car’s oily bits- primarily because I’d much rather do it myself than pay somebody else to do it. I’m not imbued with the inside-out mechanical expertise that I’d like to possess. and I’m in awe of those Hooniverse regulars who are. My ethos is that given sufficient guidance and the tools to do the job, there’s nothing on a car I shouldn’t be able to at least have a stab at. Sixty thousand miles ago, pretty soon after the time of purchase, I changed the A4’s cambelt, a job brought on suddenly by the total failure of the water pump 24hrs after I drove it home from Sweden. Carrying that job out was quite gratifying and helped me to become familiar with various mechanical bits and bobs under the bonnet which would have otherwise remained a mystery to me. Five years later, having been a paragon of unquestioned dependability, I’m about to pull her apart once again; and I’m going much, much deeper than I ever have before. Here’s what I have planned for my 1998 Audi A4 1.8t. The cambelt is due again; so that’s job one and I might as well change the water pump again for shits and giggles while I’m at it. Replacing the cambelt involves the removal of the front lock-carrier, the radiators, the fan, the intercooler, the power steering pump, the alternator and a whole lot of other crap. So on that basis, I might as well change the A/C compressor. The climatronic set-up was out of action when I bought the car; a contributory factor in my being able to buy it for so little money. The drive-belt had been removed so the pump has simply sat there as ballast for the past five years. Last time I serviced the car I changed the spark plugs, and while changing #3 plug I noticed that the spark-plug well was full of oil. Despite the sinister nature of this discovery I figured that said oil wasn’t going to go anywhere, aside from a potential misfire caused by a fouled plug it probably wouldn’t present any real problems. This was probably the wrong decision. The image above is of my coolant reservoir and its pressure cap. Note the contents- where there should be water and antifreeze there is instead something resembling spray-cheese. This is not what I want to see in my coolant reservoir. So; I figure while I’ve got the front end off, and the radiator out and all the coolant drained, I might as well get an idea of where this hideous emulsification is coming from. My best guess is that there’s either a blown oil seal somewhere or else it’s a head gasket problem; the plug well full of oil seems to go hand in hand with this assumption. So; to do the job properly it makes sense to take the cylinder head off and have a look inside. While I’m in there I can take a look at the piston surfaces and generally clean things up. It’s 120,000 miles old which, while not a high mileage for one of these, means it’s probably got a decent coating of crap in there which is better out than in. In order to behead the AEB 1.8t engine you have to get rid of all the intake and fuel injection gubbins; the working instructions for which look excitingly intimidating, but needs must and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two during the process. In fact, it’s part of the teardown which has turned the whole endeavour into a potentially life-affirming and thrilling experience. You see, it occurred to me that one of the bits I’ll have to remove is the turbocharger, and if I’m taking the K03 off, what’s the point in putting the same boring old turbo back on afterwards? And then, why stop at the turbocharger? Thus; Project Audinary has been born. The plan is to strip everything down to basically a bare block which will remain in situ in the car. Once I’ve got everything off I’ll be upgrading components as I go. And this is where The Internet will come in very handy. The 20V turbo Audi engine has been around for twenty years and there are myriad tuning options out there. It’s a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff and taking the right upgrade path. Your advice, dear reader, is very welcome indeed. And don’t worry, I’ll be doing something to make sure the brakes are up to scratch, too. I’m not aiming for unbelievable NASA levels of power, just enough to make things worth my while. I don’t really want to do a whole load with the engine internals; so I don’t want to run the risk of melting a piston or throwing a rod or any of the other horrors that big-boost can do to an engine that isn’t prepared for it. So far in this project, what have I achieved? Well, I’ve bought myself a socket set. Seems a pretty comprehensive collection of drives, bits, sockets and ratchets and means I no longer have to borrow them from my Dad. Also, I know that I have most common metric sizes addressed, rather than no 15mm but a load of strange old Whitworth fitments at the ready. Tooled up, I have also dry-docked Project Audinary in my Gran’s garage, a double-wide affair with plenty of space to work around and under the car. I’m flushed with confidence and eager to press on, but am already stuck: The above lightshow depicts the very obstacle which has already retarded my progress. The front bumper is held on by two clips, two screws and two bolts. The bolts have 6mm hex-drive heads, and I presumably knackered one of them while reassembling the car after the cambelt job. The hex-ness has been totally obliterated. We’ve tried impact drivers with torx-bits, ramming various other hopeful-looking drives into the mangled hole, Dremel-ing the head to make slots into which a stout screwdriver could be engaged, all to no avail. Our last desparate attempt was to arc-weld a nut onto the bolt head. It failed. Next step is screw extractors. So I’ve not advanced very far. But I will. The point of this project is to breathe new excitement into what is already a proven car that I have enjoyed immensely over the last five years. The first part of the project; maintenance and getting rid of that coolant contamination issue, are essential anyway, but the second part of it, let’s call it optimisation, will see me getting a grin out of the old girl for a good few years to come.
Project Car SOTU: PROJECT AUDINARY
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.