Almera looks tidy, been trying to help friend at work find a run about and £500 bangers all seem to be £2k atm!
It does seem to be the way.
Scrap prices being mega high doesn't help.
I have a set of alloy wheels in the back of my house, they are worth over £100 alone to the scrap man, with some cars being worth £500+, especially if you find someone who will pay for the cats.
The cats on my M3 alone are worth £1k .
That, and good cheap cars are far harder to find. Whether it's influenced by people not taking care of cars as much (you don't need to really on a new PCP car, which the people have to do now), cars in quite a few cases being trickier to diagnose without the right know how or diagnostic equipment, and parts being pricier, I don't know.
As one example, a mate sold an 02 plate Lupo last week. Slightly rusty front arch, and lacquer peel on the rear bumper. But it had 100k, dealer plates from and back from a local dealer, Full Service History, all from the local area, 4 General tyres fitted all round, and with a very interior. It was a proper, local, and honest car. He put it up for £1200, thinking it was a little pricier. He wished slightly that he put it up for more. As I was having breakfast with him, he must have had 4 phone calls for the car, despite selling it that morning. As you say, that would have been a £600 car not too long ago.
That said, I may be getting rid of the Merc for more of a senisble price than you think, if he's interested in that.
Back on topic!
I think you made the right call Adam, in putting the car off the road. The Almera looks like a good buy (y).
Yeah I totally agree, part of why I hadn't bothered to buy anything while the Crossfire was off the road was the near total lack of anything that looked worth buying for less than a grand or so.
I think I saw an ad for a Yaris that was only about 100 quid less than I paid for the Almera but it was running on 3 cylinders
It's not the most exciting car, and it's a pretty lowly spec, although electric windows and working AC! but with a tape deck which may put a lot of people off as a runaround. It is on budget tyres (although the benefit of small sizes is that good brands are still very affordable) and I have a feeling it might want a wheel bearing in the not too distant future but for less than a grand, I feel very fortunate to have found it!
I sometimes wonder if there's a bit of a generational change happening, your typical 1 elder owner, always garaged, low mileage, car seems to be a rarer discovery these days. Perhaps the next generation of people reaching that age, don't look after their cars as much, don't take them to be serviced every year etc.
Certainly in general, a lot of people seem to think that "Full Service History" means it's got 3-5 stamps in the book from when the car got up to like 45k miles with the first couple of owners, then nothing except a couple of MOT printouts and the car's now on 130k miles
I've had a few Toyotas now so it's nice to branch out into Nissans and apart from being a bit wallowy (apparently improved in the N16 Almera facelift) it's a nice drive. Nice twin cam 16v engine which is pretty eager, gearshift is precise and it seems pretty spacious inside.
Also has a massive tank, I brimmed it and reset the trip meter, have done about 80-90 miles and it still reads full, which is a novelty compared to the Crossfire
A little update as the return of the cold weather again has put me off doing much work outside
Almera news, a front wheel bearing is making itself known and while it has an almost full new exhaust system, it hangs very low in the middle, I'll be booking it in with a couple of garages to sort these out and then it should be pretty much trouble free.
I sent off one of the keys to have it refurbed as the remote buttons were a bit trashed and didn't do anything, got it back and I now have remote locking which is a nice convenience thing so the other key is going off this week.
I've still not had to refuel it again since the day I bought it, which is nice.
Crossfire news, I have a big and exciting delivery coming this weekend which will need to go in the garage so I'm keeping the Crossfire mobile for the time being. I have done a couple of minor jobs though, finally got the right air filters and changed those.
Old ones didn't look too awful but needed changing. Turns out the ones I bought previously that didn't fit are for the Supercharged engines in the SRT-6 or Merc C32 AMG, SLK32 AMG etc.
I've also removed the headlights as they need a good cleanup and re-seal. I could have done this in situ but thought it would be easier to mask up off the car, and also gives me an opportunity to clean a couple bits of the car that are otherwise hidden.
Two screws on top of each headlight and two underneath that were a bit of a pain to get to. The outer ones could be reached by using a spanner through the holes for the side indicators, easy enough. The inner ones took a bit of contortion to reach but certainly doable without taking the bumper off like many seem to say.
While I was in the engine bay, I had a bit of a closer look and a poke at a couple of suspect spots of fresh paint I'd seen previously
Yeah thats a hole, and on the drivers side?
Snap, same there too. I knew from when I was under the car doing the rear suspension that there was some rust in the ends of the sills but had hoped that would be it, so this discovery isn't ideal.
It's probably not a particularly difficult repair (for someone who can do these things) once the wings are off. In order to get the front wings off, the side skirts have to come off as well, so I'll do that first and assess how bad the sills are then see where I go from there.
In the meantime, I've got a load of parts, so I might as well just carry on with the headlights, front suspension and steering and engine oil leaks and come to the bodywork last.
Snow and needing to keep the Crossfire mobile to allow the delivery of my new engine for the MG have kept me from investigating the sills just yet, but I'll get the side skirts off sometime soon to see what we're working with!
Bearing the above in mind, this week I've started work on another couple of jobs on the list. First one being the headlights. I've been using a Meguiars headlight resto kit, although they're all pretty similar. I can't actually remember if this is a true "before" photo or one taken after I'd done the wet sanding portion of the resto but hey it looks pretty cloudy
The kit has a couple of 2 sided wet and dry pads, you do each side of each pad in turn, giving 4 different grades of abrasive paper, then follow up with a wool buffing pad on a drill. It's hard to photograph but they do look a bit clearer
This is the passenger side light which is suffering from crazing in the plastic and ultimately needs to be replaced, but I've done what I can with it for now
Finished up with some spray on lacquer/sealer and they're looking OK
The other bit I didn't take any photos of, is that each headlight has a plastic and rubber seal or gasket that goes around the outside to seal to the bumper and wing etc. These had clearly not been removed in a long time, if ever so there was a nice amount of gunk in there between the seal and the headlight, which was very satisfying to clean off I've got some Osram nightbreakers coming to give the headlights the best chance, so once they've arrived I'll refit the lights.
The other job I've started is to clean the engine bay in preparation for doing the cam cover gaskets.
It probably won't look like much but I brushed some GUNK degreaser into the worst bits on the heads that I could get to, I then sprayed the whole bay in a diluted TFR mix and gave it a good wash with a soapy bucket of water and sponge before hosing off.
Once dry I'll have a go at getting the covers off. I should probably buy some spark plugs and change those while I'm at it...
Quick update now that the couple of weeks of near constant rainfall has taken a small break!
Brief Almera update, had drivers front wheel bearing replaced, think passengers side will need doing later in the year, exhaust mid and rear sections replaced so it can go over minor bumps without scraping, now have two working remote keys. Otherwise provides decent daily service, still not tempted to mod it
On the Crossfire, the battery had gone nearly flat again when I had to move it off the drive to make way for new MGB engine delivery, so that's now off the car and on charge again. While I was at it, I decided to take out the battery tray to clean out the accumulated crud from the area, I might give it a quick wire wheel and paint as it has a little surface corrosion also.
Then it was a case of getting the coilpacks and HT leads off the engine ready to get the cam covers off.
I took photos for reference as I didn't want to mix up the leads with the engine having twin spark plugs per cylinder, but needn't have bothered as Mercedes mark them a and b on both the coils and the cam covers.
This was a bit of a pain to do as the HT leads have these long metal sections, I assume for heat protection?, which were a little stuck in place on the plugs and with the spark plugs being under the head, access was a bit awkward to get them off, but I got there in the end
As you can see, the drivers side breather cover in particular has been quite leaky!
I think I managed to snap off part of one of the spark plugs while getting the leads off so I'll get a set of 12 on order, I'll put off the leads for now as they seem in decent nick.
I'll wait until I've got the spark plugs before I take the cam covers off as I think I might get a little more room to manouver with them out of the way. So in the meantime I had a bit of a poke around some other bits...
The underside of the bonnet has always had a bit of surface rust showing, near the leading edge. So I decided to take off the badge trim and have a look
The top side is just dirty thankfully, so I can easily remnove any loose rust on the underside, treat and paint it. There are some bits coming through around that seal strip as well so I could do with taking that off, as long as I can source some replacement clips for it.
I was going to take the front bumper off, as it will make reinstalling the headlights a much less arduous affair, but that involves moving the front wheels to get at arch liner fixings and with no power on board, that's a pain. So I thought lets have a look at those sills then.
Removal is somewhat straightforward, two 10mm hex socket bolts under the front wing, four of those push in plastic trim clips along the bottom, some more clips on the top side, and then two jacking points to remove. The jacking points have a big plastic screw/trim clip thing in the middle, which needs to be unscrewed then it pulls out of the sill. They take a flat head screwdriver and mine both decided to start rounding so I got a little forceful and popped both of them out with a small prybar
So what do we have?
The front end, and the middle of the sill are perfect, there's a support bar that bolts to the body and in to the middle somewhere which has paint flaking off and looks a bit worse for wear so that could do with some attention, then of course as I was rather expecting, the rear ends of the sills are rather frilly.
The hole wasn't actually there but as I was brushing off dirt etc. with a brush, thought I'd give it a firm prod and it went right through
The good news is that it's pretty much all covered by the side skirt, this seems to be quite a common thing with cars that have these side skirts that wrap tightly down and under the sill, I saw similar rust on my Honda Legend, and my BMW E34 touring.
I haven't looked at the drivers side yet but I expect much the same.
Well I did want something to practice welding on, looks like I have a prime candidate
Did a bit of work on the Crossfire today, decided that I needed to get some of the panels off to get a better look at the rust and see how far it goes. This will also have the side effect of giving me loads of extra access to change suspension parts, as I've still got all those, assuming the car is still a viable project
Got the front end back up in the air, wheels off and first step was to get the arch shields out, for some reason half of the fixings are nice and easy plastic 10mm nuts, and half are flat headed torx screws which were just begging to be rounded off.
Hard pressed to see the difference between the metalwork and the shields as it's all plastered in dirt and underseal, more on that later...
This extra bit near the rust hole was a bit curious, I think it was just a bit of peeled off underseal or similar that a previous owner had used to try and "treat" the rust
Miraculously I got all the fixings out in one piece as well as the dirt shield. Which allows a good look at the offending area
There is also a slightly suspect looking bit a bit further round but not as bad
The inner wing and front end of the sill are perfect, so some bits of the shield were doing their job, it's just unfortunate that a bit of the shield ends directly above the wheel so clearly plenty of dirt, water and salt have been able to do their work. The sill section looks huge, which I suppose is as a result of being a coupe developed on a convertible platform.
Did the same work on the drivers side where the rust is a bit worse but similar really
From there, next step to get the wings off is to remove the front bumper. Pretty straightforward at this point, undertray off, couple of screws that hold the arch liners to the bumper, disconnect the fog lights and indicator repeaters, couple of 10mm nuts each side at the top corner of the bumper, then two 10mm nuts in the middle and off it came
No terrible rust hiding there thankfully! I do know the radiator lower support needs a bit of attention but it's on the mental list.
Then the wing is pretty typical of most front wings I think, bolts on the top, couple on the bottom, a bolt/stud to remove at the front corner, couple slightly awkward ones to reach with the door all the way open, then a bit of wiggling to get it off
Nice bit of foliage at the bottom of the wing where the scuttle drains had been dumping it, but no further rust at all, which is pleasing! Can get a better look at both sides of the rust, I obviously need to check how far this goes, I've got a couple of strip and clean discs stashed away somewhere
The wing itself has a very small amount of surface rust in the lip return which I can easily clean out and sort while it's off. I also had a little play with removing the side strakes, as I'm really not sold on them and the fake side vent
Annoyingly there are holes left and an odd "double recess" so it would need some bodywork to look right, but I just think it would look better without the strakes. Not sure if I'd smooth it off completely, or keep the scallop but smooth out the second recess within it.. There are more pressing matters to deal with first in any case haha
That wraps it up for today. Couldn't get the other wing off as the door won't open far enough on that side. I've got the drivers side skirt to remove, couple of support beams under the car to remove for blasting and paint, I may get the lower control arms blasted as well as I'll be reusing those. Got the engine work I can do as well while it's up in the air, and the steering idler bush too, so plenty to be getting on with
Great progress and I think it looks worse than it is. Any repairs seem very accessible too.
One major potential issue on these chassis is front spring perches snapping off from the inner wing due to rust. I'd advise you give the perch area a good clean and a good inspection. They rust on both sides and around the top where the spring rubber mounts sits. If, the worst came to the worst the perches are available from Chrysler, M-B and after market suppliers, cheap too.
Agreed, it certainly seems fairly localised at least. There are a few other spots where rust has got under the underseal but much like when I was doing the rear subframe, they don't seem to have spread too far and can be dealt with separately.
Having done a couple spring swaps now, I'm fairly well acquainted with the upper spring perches haha and they seem pretty solid, I'll be sure to give everything a good look while I'm in there though
Yeah, do have a good poke around. Mine looked perfect until I went to change the springs and spring height rubbers. There was rust coming from below the perch where the rubber was trapping moisture. A bit of poking and I easily created a few pin holes, same on the other side. The rest of the perches were solid.
Not wanting to get new perches fitted, they need to be welded in correctly as you can imagine, I got 3mm thick steel plate cut into two crescents, then welded to the top of the perches and also welded to the inner wings. It did the job and has lasted with no signs of any problems, there's a lot of stress on the perches, compounded by fitting new shorter stronger springs.
It's just sometime to look out for (not funny if one snaps all of a sudden which has happened), even if perches are o.k. there's no harm in cleaning them up inside especially, treating them and adding some paint.
Quick follow on from yesterdays update really. Took the Drivers side skirt off today to reveal much the same as the passenger side, fine at the front and middle of the sill, rust at the rear end, and a bit more rust on this side than the passenger side, which tallies with the front arch rust being worse on this side as well.
Now, I'm going to jump back to the engine. To get the drivers wing off, I need to open the door fully, to open the door fully I need to move the car, and to move the car, it will be a lot easier with a working engine
Thought I'd crack on with getting the breather and rocker covers off while I wait for service items, started with the drivers side and it was pretty straightforward. Breather off and there's a bit of gunk in there which I'll clean out
Rocker cover off and it looks pretty typical, maybe signs that oil changes could have been more frequent, and curiously the colour of the burnt on oil on everything was slightly darker on this side than the passenger side
I did note that whoever did the rocker cover gasket last had used silicone sealer all the way round as well as the gasket.. Happy to be corrected but I don't think this should be necessary and I was careful to remove the excess wihout dropping it into the engine
Other side then
Now I'm usually careful to avoid engineer bashing on here, as one myself I know that often engineering decisions may not make sense to everyone but are a product of necessity at the time, but in this case, the rocker cover would have been easy to get off again, had the fuel pipe for the injector rails not been put right in the way
No flex in that, and no wiggle room to get the cover off and over the rocker assembly. So had to crack open the union, pull off the pipe and get the cover off quickly without too much petrol going everywhere. Bit of an unnecessary faff!
After all that, no major dramas. Will clean up the covers and the mating surfaces on the engine, might even chuck a bit of paint on the covers if I'm feeling generous, then chuck them back on. 12 spark plugs to be done as well as oil and filter while I'm there.
I'm also going to finally tackle the drivers side engine mount, as I think I can get access to the top bolt from the engine bay, so that will be fun.
This is a load of work you are doing, and hopefully it becomes a part of your DNA as a “keeper”
Cheers It did occur to me as I was poking holes in the sill, why am I bothering on a car that most sane people would have likely thrown away best not to think of these things and just crack on with it!
Oh and because I didn't mention it in the last update, the Almera decided to throw a bit of a tantrum while driving back from visiting relatives on Sunday
No discernable change in performance but an engine light is very unbecoming of my rock solid Nissan. A code read later revealed thus
Not particularly descriptive.. A quick google found some old forum posts that pointed to the MAF being a potential culprit, so I set to with some electrical contact cleaner and compressed air and hey presto, no more active code!
Cleared the stored code and the EML hasn't come back. I'll see how it goes, a new Bosch MAF is like 40 quid so if the light comes back, I'll treat it to one of those.
Thanks Yeah the rust is a pain but I do really need to crack on and learn to buzz in a few patches if this hobby/lifestyle is going to be economically viable for me
Got a bit of progress in this weekend amongst other stuff, gave the cam and breather covers a soak in some GUNK solution, then a quick clean with some diluted TFR and a rinse
They still need more cleaning but I'm not going to go crazy on them, they're hidden by the engine cover anyway.
Got all 12 spark plugs changed, bit awkward to get to some of them but managed with some extensions and other bits
The gaps were over spec on the old plugs so worth doing. Some had a fair bit of sludge around the sealing washer which I suspect is from oil leaking down from the covers and collecting in the spark plug wells.
I also scraped off all the remains of silicone sealant on the Drivers side head. Curiously I had noticed that there wasn't any sealant on the Passenger side, so I get the feeling someone's been here before and tried to tosh on some silicone as a quick fix perhaps.
So covers to go back on next with correct new gaskets and sealer for the breather covers. I've got oil and a filter to change as well, plus been trying to eye up where the drivers side engine mount upper bolt is
It's hidden in there somewhere, behind the alternator, under the exhaust manifold roughly where that wire is running over the mount. Should be fun!
Just some words of encouragement as the corrosion discoveries must be a bit demoralising. Well done with the mechanical repairs and modifications and all the hours you are putting in. Top work.
Thank you 😁 can always count on RR for a bit of support when a project is getting a bit bogged down!
Bit slow progress this week, got the cam covers to a point where I think they're clean enough to go back on, getting silicone sealant out of the small channel that the gasket runs in was a bit of a pain.
I've even got a fairly free weekend coming up so in theory I should get on and sort a load of the mechanical bits on the front end, but it's also forecast to rain for several days so we'll see 😅 might be prudent for me to see if the secondhand welder I bought 3 years ago is any good instead