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Restoration of Moonstone #466

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Quick status update - I got back to work on the car over the weekend with the aim to get it back on the road. I spent Saturday doing the right rear wheel bearing as it had been making a noise. 

After pulling the hub out and getting it stripped down, I quickly realised that the bearings were completely stuffed - they were black with heat and the metal had started pitting and basically the rollers were disintegrating. I had previously thought it was because I had used the wrong grease when I rebuilt them about 1000ks ago but as I was putting the new bearings back in and packing the grease in from the little pack that came with the bearings I realised that I had done this before - I had used a similar little pack of grease the first time so it cant have been a grease problem. I am hoping it was just a dodgy seal that caused the grease to run out and then cook the bearings otherwise I am going to have to start looking at drive flanges and hub carriers etc - fingers crossed this new set doesn't have an issue and all is well.

Whilst I was doing the wheel bearing,  I took the opportunity to fit my shiny new dust shield and also the anti rattle clips in the callipers which had been missing. The right side definitely looks the business now - unfortunately I didn't take any pics but I still have the left side to do so will get some pics form that side. I also spent some time to degrease and steam clean the gearbox ready for the next day. 

On Sunday I got into the task of getting the new clutch fitted. I started the day heading up to the hardware store to get some material to make a cradle to lift the gearbox into the car with my existing jack - it took a few hours of my time up and doesn't look the best but was well worth the while as it made the job a hell of a lot easier when time came to put the box back in. 

After getting the cradle made, I got the new Helix clutch cleaned up and then bolted onto the flywheel. I then went back to to the gearbox to put the new thrust bearing in and this is where things started getting a little "interesting". The thrust bearing that I took out looked like it had been modified - looked like  cut and shut job to make the thrust bearing about an inch longer than the new one I held in my hand but I proceeded anyway, hoping that the thrust bearing I got with the kit was the right one for the clutch pressure plate.

With the gearbox ready to put in, I got it loaded up under the car on the jack in the newly made cradle and jacked it into place - having already lined the clutch plate up the gearbox went in relatively easy. I then got all the ancillaries (tail- shaft, exhaust etc) back in the car then hopped in the car to put the gearstick back on. 

It was at this point that my earlier concern regarding the thrust bearing increased in size. Just after putting the gear stick in, I put my foot on the clutch pedal expecting a fair bit of resistance with a few reports out there that the Helix clutch is quite heavy but in this case, my foot went strait to the floor! Thinking it may be an issue with the ratchet quadrant, I then spend the next hour upside down in the car with my head in the footwell and my feet up near the roof trying to figure out the clutch pedal. After getting the pedal out, checking the ratchet and realising  that there did not seem to be an issue at this end of things (car is running a yellow quadrant - is that correct?) I got back in the car upside down and put it all back together. 

I then jumped under the car to check things at that end and had a play around with the cable by spacing it out at the bell housing to take up some of the slack - I placed about 1 inch worth of washers in there to space it out which seemed to have helped so with some hope, I got the car off the stands and back on the ground,  I jumped back in the car and started it up for the first time in weeks - started first go :) . I let it warm up for a bit then held my breath, pushed the clutch pedal in and tried to select reverse - grrrrrrrr - gave 1st a go - grrrr - it was not happening! It would seem that there is still about an inch of slack that needs to be taken up in the cable so something is not right. There are only a items in this system - clutch pedal, quadrant, cable, clutch fork and thrust bearing. I am pretty confident with the new thrust bearing so will rule that out, the quadrant looks OK which leaves me with the pedal, cable and fork. I am also pretty confident with the pedal (although knowing where this car has been for the last 16 years there is a chance it is from another model car) and after speaking with the previous owner today and finding out that the car has a 4x4 cable in it I think I can safely rule out the cable (my understanding is the 4x4 cable is overall longer making it easier to route but the free play lengths are the same as the 2wd cable).

Looking at the fork, it is sitting about in the middle of the opening in the bell housing so my bet at the moment is that the fork is not the right one hence the modified longer thrust bearing that was in the car - I would prefer the issue to be with the clutch pedal or quadrant as even though it is a prick of a job getting upside down under the steering wheel, it is still preferable to dropping the exhaust, tail shaft and gearbox again!

I am going to have a poke around tonight (although it is Game of Thrones night so we will have to see) and get some photos of everything and also try a couple of extra spacers just to see if I can get the thing working but at present I am not happy!

The only plus is that I just placed an order for the rest of the engine components, things like bearings, nuts and bolts, woodruff keys, all those little things that add up to complete an engine (and add up to over 1000 GBP) as well as ordering a new thrust bearing and clutch fork (just in case) and hopefully they all turn up by the end of this week.

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Unfortunately not from working on the car, I didn't do anything on it last weekend but will be working on it again this weekend so will make sure I get some progress shots. I did however get out to a Cars 'N Coffee event last weekend - 


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On 6/3/2016 at 5:54 PM, RSRoy said:

She is screaming for stickers and side mouldings ;)

Yes Yes, I know RSRoy, they are on the way. Too many other things to sort out first though!

Here are a few pics from today.

Firstly, here is the thrust bearing I took out with the old clutch the other week - 


Not too sure what is going on here but is easy to understand why there is an issue with the throw of the pedal / clutch cable length - am not too sure why the mod / hack was done but I have a new cable and clutch fork on the way which should work with everything else including the standard thrust bearing. 

Today I was changing the passenger side wheel rear wheel bearing as it was not sounding too good - not as bad as the driver side was but not great and it was a miserable day (read, just like the UK) weather wise so thought I would spend a few hours in the garage. Here is the hub off the car with the old bearings:


And the old bearings out, not looking too great:


I think after getting the new bearings greased up and the housing back together I was too greasy to pick up the camera so there are no shots of the new ones going back in. Next was to put it all back together and no better time to slot the brand new dust shields in:

DSC_0970.jpgAnd get the bearing housing back on:


Then the spindle went back in:


And then the hub and ABS sensor:


And then the brake rotor and calliper:


I also took the opportunity to put in a new return springs:


And also some anti rattle clips (which were missing when I got the car):


The left rear calliper is looking a bit dodgy - it was the very first part of the car I rebuilt and I did not do the best job painting it so will take it off soon and likely zinc plate it (which I think was the original finish anyway).

While I was at it, I thought I would get a quick shot to show you the work space I have been working in for all the work to date on the car:


Just enough room to get the wheel off and sit next to the car to do the work - and that is with the car moved to the right further than normal! I was thinking of doing a complete walk through of the garage some time soon (after I tidy it up a bit!) and will do that on another thread.

The next main job on the list is to rebuild the diff - I have the bearings etc here to do the rebuild and may get into it tomorrow depending on how I feel (have just poured a rather generous and rather tasty single malt which may turn into 2). I am still waiting for a big delivery from Burtons for all the remaining engine bits which will hopefully be next week and then the engine should come together quickly. Also need to get into the front end and rebuild the hubs, new wheel bearings etc which may be on the cards for  next weekend as it is a long weekend here. 

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Clearly this car went to the right home, having been through your dramas in a similar sized garage I feel your pain, it was hard enough locating all those parts in the UK over 10 years ago, never mind nowadays and 12,000 miles further way.

Keep up the great work and updates :-)

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Thanks for the comments guys. 

Finding the parts is one thing, coughing up for the freight is another! If I ever sell this thing, it is going to be the first GBP 200k car just to cover the shipping costs for all the parts! :)

I was hoping to get the diff rebuilt this weekend but as usual, it is 1 step forward 2 steps backwards with this thing. Looks like the head gasket has gone on the current engine and the new one is still 6 odd weeks away, so I have ordered a new head gasket and bolts so will be spending this weekend ripping the head off and changing the gasket. The car was running "fine" last Friday but drove to work on Monday and it has dropped at least 1 cylinder (maybe even 2), is leaking coolant from the head / block near cyl 3 exhaust side and seems to have leaked some oil some where (could just be the breather struggling with 2 cylinders mis-firing). My plan is to disturb as little as possible so will be leaving manifolds and turbo etc all in place, just cam cover and head bolts, lift up, clean, in goes the new head gasket and back down it all goes - well that is the plan any way, I have ordered a new gasket and bolts for a total of GBP 80 quid and then another 46 quid on top for freight!!!!!! 

I am a little concerned that when I take the head off I am going to find a bunch of other problems - dodgy valves, corroded head, melted pistons etc etc etc but fingers crossed - the engine that is in there is YBB0028 (or near about's) so is one of the very very early engines, lets see what we find.

The downside is that with the RS500 off the road at the moment, I have to drive this shit box around - 


Yeah yeah, I know, life's pretty tough!

Will update next week when hopefully the head gasket is done and the car is driving again - will make sure to get some pics. 

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This weekend saw the head get ripped off the car. Things started off pretty good, the cam cover came off to reveal a pair of standard cams in pretty good condition  - 


After getting everything disconnected, is was time for the head to come off, this was the part I was worried about - 


But aside from the dead head gasket, everything was not looking too bad, the bores still have hone marks in them - 


The head gasket had just given up the ghost around the water galleries (as can be seen by the red coolant coloured smear down the side of the block in the shot above) - 


The engine bay was a bit of a mess, both from age and from the cooling system getting pressured up when the gasket went - 


And there were a few things that were tearing at my nighty so I decided to do a bit of a clean up whilst I had some room to move. In the shot above, there are a few things wrong - a) map sensor bolted to inner guard (no bracket), coolant and oil everywhere and roofing screws used to bolt the header tank to the inner guard. 

I gave the guard a clean up and then went to work with the drill, prepping thongs for some riv-nuts and correct mounting holes for the map sensor bracket - 




Unfortunately I couldnt clean the old holes up as did not want to go welding in the engine bay at the moment - will get them welded up when the car goes in for a re-spray later in the year.

I also did a quick recon on a map sensor bracket I had laying around, zinc plating and passivating it after a quick sandblast  - 



With things starting to come back together close to the finish that I want and appreciate (chassis rail got a clean later on)- 


Next was to clean up the old gasket and surfaces, the block came up good but there is a little concern with the head - 


There is a bit of pitting and corrosion next to the exhaust ports on 2 and 3 - 


It really needs to be welded up and skimmed but as I am only trying to keep the thing running for the next 6-8 weeks until the new engine goes in, I left it, put a very thin smear of hylomar on the 2 areas and am hoping it will hold.

Whilst I was cleaning the head up, I noticed a peculiar thing with the throttle body - 


Note the plumbing at the base of where the bypass tube hooks up to the throttle body. There was nothing hooked up to it when I removed the head and from what I can see of the few pictures of RS500 throttle bodies online it looks like an addition to my throttle body. Not exactly sure what for, have a feeling that at some point there was an after market ECU being used and they were measuring manifold pressure before and after the throttle body - can anyone add some light to this one? Maybe it is standard and should be hooked up to something - if so, what?

Unfortunately at this point I went to grab some lunch and then went back to the garage without my camera so there are no more shots. The head went back on without too much hassle. As I was putting the head back on with the exhaust manifold on and the down-pipe in the car, there was a bit of a wiggle to get it in and we had to slide the manifold under the down-pipe so I grabbed to old head bolts, cut them down to about 2 inches long, cut a slot in the top of them and then threaded them into the block holes to act as guides for the head to come down and also keep the head gasket in - as they were only 2 inches long and sitting way down the bottom of the stud holes in the head, I simply used a screwdriver in the slots I had cut in the top to unscrew them from the block then a magnet on the end of a full length head bolt and slid them back up and out once the head was in position. 

The inlet plenum came with a 14mm spacer in it which I am keen to take out so thought I would do it whilst the head was off and on the bench. I started loosening the bolts off and quickly realised that they would be too long once I took the spacer out and being a holiday weekend in Aus there was no where open that I could get some the right length so left the spacer on for the moment. Unfortunately, when we put the head back on it was quickly visible that the throttle body was hitting my nice shiny map sensor bracket so it had to come out. The plus side here is that with that one gone, my only other option (I was not going to bolt the map sensor back onto the inner guard) was to use a genuine RS500 item - 



I had managed to pick up a NOS item a while back but have not been able to get my hands on the sheet metal bit yet which is why it was not my first choice this time around but with the other one not fitting I was not left with much of a choice so I proceeded to fab my own bracket in the same fashion as the RS500 items and bolt it to the aluminum piece above and then mount it all up as it should be. I will try and get a photo of this later on.

Once I had everything connected back up and plumbed in, I drained the old oil out, put some new oil in and topped up the cooling system and then went to fire it up. It started on about the 4th crank which was promising but immediately I new something was not right - the engine sounded like a rough running Subaru WRX engine! I shut it down and quickly checked the timing - I was pretty sure I had lined up the crank, aux and cams properly and checked again and they all looked good so went back to the workshop manual only to realise my mistake - I had lined up on the firing line on the the crank, not the TDC / trigger bump - luckily by the sounds of it the valves had not hit so undid the tensioner, took the belt off again (after removing the thermo housing and draining the new coolant), lined it all up again, put it all back together and filled up the coolant again. 

Started it up again and it was better than before but still was not running right, sounded like it had lost 1, maybe 2 cylinders. I have been running Denso IK27's which in my mind have been a bit too cold for the engine, it has had a miss whilst cold since they went in but it gets better once the engine and plugs have warmed up so I let the engine run for a while, let it warm up then took it for a quick run - it was drivable but still sounded very WRX'ish and was definitely down a cylinder so I took it back into the garage and started checking everything again. 

Timing was right, all the leads were in, coil seemed fine, so I started it up and then started pulling spark plug leads to see if there was a difference. Pulled number one and the engine almost died so plugged it back in and ruled out cylinder 1 as being a problem (if the engine got worse after disconnecting a cylinder then it was obviously working fine before disconnecting) so moved onto cylinder 2, had just started pulling the cap up when whack!!!!!!!! 65,000 volts buzzed down my arm and through my body!

After gathering my senses I looked back down at the car which was still running, however the spark plug lead cap was not where to be seen, I had obviously ripped it off the lead when removing it and thrown it across the garage. I noticed that whilst there was no spark plug lead hooked up tot he plug in no. 2, the engine was still running the same as it had been before I jump started myself so looks like I had found the problem.

After hunting around the garage and finally finding the lead cap, I noticed that the underside of it where the lead goes in had a small tear which is where my hand went when I tried to remove it so looks like it had a bad connection. I threaded the cap back on to see if it would still work which it did so I hooked it back up and then started the engine again, this time being a little more careful as to where I placed my hand when removing the cap. The miss was still there but I noticed that whilst I was removing the cap, the miss went away as I was sliding the cap up - the same thing happened after I had removed it completely and was sliding it back on. I pulled the plug out and swapped it with no1 - the miss had now moved to no 1 so pulled the plug out and noticed that the terminal was moving around in the core ever so slightly.

So, I have managed to get the car idling smooth again temporarily but am not driving it. There were 2 main problems - 1 the no. 2 spark plug lead cap was loose which is now fixed (a new set is on order for the new engine already) and the spark plug is stuffed. I ordered a new set of NGK's this morning which should be in tomorrow and fingers crossed it will be running smoothly and leak free for the next 6-8 weeks until the YBD goes in.

Hopefully next weekend I can get back onto plan and get this damned diff rebuilt!

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Managed to get a couple of pics of the map sensor bracket all mounted up - not the best shots as the rest of the engine is in but I guess you get the idea :) - am still on the lookout for a genuine item to complete it. 



And here it is all back together - I changed the cam cover in the process as well - the one that was on the car is in good condition but needs a re-fresh with paint and the spare I had has got one of the front cover posts broken off in it so thought I would keep the good one (no bolts broken off in it) for the reco and put the "dodgey" one on the car for the moment. 


I have a set of genuine boost hoses ready to go on with the new engine, a brand new header tank and a bunch of other bits  as well . . . 

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Yesterday saw me finally get back onto the restoration part of this job - the last few weeks have been spent fixing / maintenance tasks (head gasket, rear wheel bearings, clutch etc).

I set some lofty goals of reconditioning both front hubs - partly because they looked crap and partly because there was a horrible noise coming from the passenger side of the car and replacing the rear wheel bearings hadn't fixed it, leaving a diff rebuild, front wheel bearings and prop shaft centre bearing to go so I decided on the front hubs.

I started off taking the passenger side off as that is the side of the car that sounded like it needed it the most. It was pretty quick work getting the brakes off and getting the hub off and onto the workbench - 


After stripping the hub down, I started to get the feeling that I had picked the right corner and it was this corner that the noise was emanating from - 


The bearings them self did not look too bad (no pic sorry) but it looks like the races had been spinning on the shaft, probably due to the hub not being torqued up correctly (probably had the "tighten it all the way then back it off quarter of a turn" treatment!).

At this stage, I was feeling pretty confident about getting both done in 1 day. It was only 11am and I figured I had plenty of time left to get them both done. 

Then I spent I dont know how many hours cleaning the hub up. At first I threw it in the sand blaster but it was taking too long to get all the rust and scale off so I took it out and attacked it with multiple wire wheels which seemed to do the trick and then got it back in the sand blaster to finish it off - mental note to self, when ever doing this again, start off with the wire wheels!

After quite an effort getting it cleaned up, I finally got it masked off and prepped for powder coating and into the oven - 


After two trips into the oven - first for zinc primer and second for a coat of semi gloss black, it was looking good and ready for assembly again -


I wont paint the wheel mounting surfaces - not a fan of things moving around after paint starts falling off - so unless I can find some new hubs, I will live with these ones (new ones will look like these soon enough anyway as I actually drive the car!).


I made sure to torque the hub nuts up correctly - all the way to 310 nm!

Whilst I had the hubs out, I also replaced the tie rods and rod ends - 


Which was good as I found the old tie rod had about 1.5mm play in it so was well past its used by date. As part of replacing the tie rods I had to take the boots off - 


I was not a fan of the poxy 2mm cable tie holding it on so after cleaning it up and putting it back on, made sure it was properly secured with a new stainless cable tie - 


And here it is all back together - 


By this time it was coming up on 6pm - yes, the cleaning process int he middle of the day had taken the best part of 4 hours. Luckily I had not taken the drivers side off as there was no way I was going to get it done today - it is now my job for next Sunday. 

As the photos reveal, there is still plenty more to do on each front corner - I will reco the steering rack when the engine is out in a few weeks time and at some point will give the shocks a clean up - am tossing up wether to give the Koni's a coat of black pain or get a set of genuine shocks (I have access to some) - also need to chase down another ABS sensor - I may have to pimp the missus out to start turning some tricks and selling drugs so I can afford one though!

Swung by the tyre shop this morning on the way to work and got a wheel alignment and she is all good to drive again and the noise seems to be gone!

Its good to be back onto reco now instead of maintenance - should get some more forward progress over the next few weeks as long as not other surprises pop up.

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A quick mid week update - I managed to pick up a part I have been chasing for a while now last night -




A brand new drivers side rear window trim / surround - I still need to track down a passenger side but this is a good start and when the car is getting resprayed will make a nice replacement for the tatty ones that are on the car at the moment.

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Progress has been a bit slow of late - the steering rack sprung a leak a few weeks back and after some hunting around I managed to get a seal kit in for it but during the rebuild process I managed to munch one of the teflon seals on the valve body so had to wait for another kit to come in (just for one seal!).

I got the second kit the other day so last night put the new seal in but managed to munch it again - luckily this time I have 3 spares! I think I a not waiting long enough after the seal has been soaking in hot water for it to return to normal size before putting the valve body back in the rack so for the second attempt I put the seal on and left it out overnight and will hopefully put it in tonight without any issue. 

In addition, I had a package turn up today. Just a small one - 


Thanks to a tip from Andy / AK and some family in the UK, I managed to get 2 packs of diff cover bolts - 


So when I finally get around to rebuilding the diff, it will have the correct bolts in it!

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It has been a while between posts - too long. 

Unfortunately not a lot has happened since the last one. The power steering rack decided to drop its bundle late last year and leak everywhere so that required a rebuild. I took my time getting it done and think I did a pretty good job of it - stripping back the old paint, cleaning up the aluminium part and putting a seal kit through it. Alas, I didn't get any pictures at the time for some reason. 

When putting the rack back together, one of the teflon seals on the input stem caught and tore and it happens to be one of those items that you cant get on its own - you have to buy a complete kit and I did  not want to go through the pain of buying another kit form the UK and shipping it to Aus so after a bit of detective work (insert a couple of months here...) I discovered that the steering rack in a Nissan Skyline which was sold in Aus was similar to the Sierra rack and managed to track a kit down locally - still had to get a complete kit but was easier than getting one form the UK - I still tore the seal again when putting it back together but luckily I had 3 spares from the new seal kit so this time I put the seal on and inserted the shaft just into the housing, let it sit for a day as the teflon shrunk back to normal size and then pushed it in the rest of the way and got it all back together and back in the car with new tie rods and rod ends so the front end is feeling pretty good now - still have to rebuild the drivers side hub which will happen some time soon!

Apart from that, it has just been the usual task of trying to track down parts I need - I am still waiting for some door mouldings and a few other bits and pieces from a well known member of this forum who will remain un-named for the moment :) but have managed to get a few other bits and bobs which turned up today - 

Some seat runner covers


Some carpet mats - 


An EXTREMELY important piece for the garage - 


And one of those hens teeth items, a genuine RS500 turbo to intercooler hose - I had a genuine one on the car when I got it but it was not running the correct alternator bracket so the pipe got chewed out pretty quick! Its nice to have a genuine one back to put on the car again!


There were also a few other ods and ends such as clips etc.

I am pretty busy at the moment training for an enduro bike race in July so progress is going to be slow between now and then but hopefully late August will see things pick up pace again.

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