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Millenium Cleanup/rebuild Didn't start as a project.... Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:08 PM

So, seeing as my car is a little more sheddy than I initially thought, I thought I'd keep a small diary of things that have had to be done - perhaps consider it an amatuers guide to running a 'semi-shed' as most circa ten year old cars are. Perhaps not a full blown project like some of the other more impressive posts on here, but I think any car this old is going to be a 'project' or some kind; you'll never find a truly mint one unless you're very lucky, as I'm sure we all know!

The car itself? W735 XBT, a Millenium Edition Puma.

Bought in November 2011, it replaced a Micra that I suspected would need a shedload of work on it's suspension, and I was pretty sure the flywheel was scored as not long after buying it it started screeching on engaging gear. There was no way I was spending 300 on a Micra that I didn't like much in the first place, so I started checking out my options, and Pumas appeared on the radar. After an unsuccesful attempt to view a Lux from a proper shady dealer, I saw one advertised by someone who I recognised through my works connections, so I dropped him an email, let him know about the Micra, and we agreed on a trade in value and purchase following a viewing. Saw it on the Sunday, thrashed it round the industrial estate, utterly loved every second of it. It felt a bit loose and rough around the edges, but superficially it appeared in decent shape so it was bought and insured.
Price: 1100, -500 for the Micra - so 600.

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No Signs by StevenRaith, on Flickr

The first thing that I knew needed attention was the clutch - I did an oil change and could barely get it on the ramps it was slipping so badly. So ordered a LUK three piece kit (150) and a mate fitted it for 100 and a bottle of whisky.

That improved things dramatically - refitting the gear linkage made the whole thing feel snappier and all-of-a-piece.

Next job was tyres, brakes and alignment. I was severely time-hampered by this as had to do a 400 mile round trip, so took it to the local tyre fitters, who charged me 300 for four Dunlop SP FastResponse boots, fitting, balancing and alignment. This resulted in another step change in the handling and feel of the car, and it took the next 1000 miles of motorway riding and valley hacking with relative aplomb, but there was still some slack around the car, and the back end never really felt too well tied down. No worries I think, it's MOT time soon, I'll get it fixed then.

Oh, and now the problems begin. The issues found were as follows:
Corrosion - chassis (small plate required), brake lines, fuel lines.
Suspension problems - rear bushes, front lower track arm bushes, rear top mounts, one rear shock absorber, front drop link.
other - Exhaust flexi pipe had come off.

Total cost of this was 630, which is annoying enough (I have savings for this very reason, arf) but more annoying was the garage trying to suggest I should replace the cat (they didn't think of cutting the downpipe after the cat and fitting a new flexi-pipe - thanks to those on here who pointed me to that!) which was just stupid, but on top of this the clutch sensor switch came back broken and stuffed under the interior cowling, causing it to kangaroo like a sod (temp fix with gaffer/carpet tape - will replace it soon) and the rear beam is banging over lateral yumps and ruts - so i don't think they've refitted one of the rear suspension components properly. My moneys on the rear beam itself as it sounds like the sound is coming from something large and bulky, if it were just the top mounts I can't see it making such a 'wide' noise.

So, total costs so far, exluding fuel and insurance?

Purchase: 600
Tyres: 300
Brakes: 40 (self fitted)
Clutch 250 all in
MOT work: 630

So the car currently stands me over 1800.

Which you'd think would be enough to make me baulk, but there are some points worth considering - and ones I'm sure you're all aware of, but which newbies considering an older/cheaper car might not be.

First of all, it's a car over ten years old, made to a price, and run by people who are generally not the 'maintain at any cost' type. It's no surprise to me that the bushes were shot, that the suspension had issues, etc - these are problems you have to expect on an older car.

Second, if I had spent 1800 on a 'clean' Puma, I'd have had to do exactly the same work, just more likely next year rather than this year - all older cars do this, and unless you know for a fact that harder wearing parts (SS exhausts, polybushes, etc) have been fitted, then you just aren't going to avoid it.

That, and even with knackered bushes and soggy shocks, it still drives brilliantly, the engine is a peach of flat-torque-curved, power-to-the-redline goodness, with a lovely BDA-esque rasp towards the cut out, the gearbox is fantastically snickity and quick, and it just does everything so bloody well.

It'll pootle to Sainsburies, take a fortnights shopping in the boot, a camera bag and a laptop in the back seat (and empty takeaway wrappers, gaffers tape, a rotary polisher... and other things I haven't bothered to clear out), and when you hit a b-road, you can open the throttle up and it hunkers down and lets you grab it by the scruff of the neck and drive it like you stole it.

So I don't mind spending money on it.

I know a good few people who have had some quite alarmingly fast cars, some rather rare and exclusive cars, some one off trackday specials, and the closest car I've been in to the Puma in terms of it's 'do anything' attitude is a PPP'd bug-eye Impreza. It has that similar unerring ability to do everything, get thrashed, take the kids to school, crawl around the car park, be comfy, be reliable, and be 'reasonable' in terms of running costs; with the subtle rear spoiler on the WRX (Non-STi) it's a proper q-car too.

The thing is though, a 1k example of those that isn't there for breaking is hard to find, they barely break 30mpg, and while the WRX is faster in a straight line by a long sea mile, cross country I honestly don't see it being noticably quicker without risking life and limb - for 80% of drivers, 80% of the time, the Puma does 80% of what the WRX does for 50% of the running costs.

The next job on the list for the Puma is to have the CPS refitted/replaced, and the rear suspension assessed to make sure that the MOT garage didn't cock something up - it might, after all, just be a loose spare wheel tray.

Problems that are still to be investigated/sorted to satisfy me:
Cambelt - although the valves have been replaced at some point, I don't know if the belt has been done. Or if it has been done properly. engine pulls well enough, but I'm always a little wary of these things.
Rear arches - the only major rust spot on the car.
Minor rust/chips - little dings and scratches here and there - I'll try to teach myself cutting and filling for these, it's a skill worth knowing given that my income dictates most of my cars will be a little older. This will be particularly important on the leading edge of the bonnet, which looks like someones taken a scattergun to it at some point.
Suspension - going to investigate full polybushing to save me any more painful MOT experiences.

Possibilities:
Coilovers - decent ones. If nothing comes to mind that won't destroy the car for day to day use, I'll get a full set of KYB OEM spec dampers and decent OEM spec springs.
Full paintwork cutting and repolishing - the paint is faded in a few places, and thanks to the shade of it, it's bloody obvious. This will be done after the rust is sorted, obviously.

It'll be interesting to add to this thread and see what the overall running costs are after a couple of years....

#2 User is offline   Ian G 

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:35 AM

Interest read Steve. You're quite right, its certainly a car you need to commit to. Looking forward to future instalments.

#3 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:42 PM

My bro wanted to have a look at the clutch position sensor. I gave him the keys and told him to look, not touch.

Guess what he's unstuck and left dangling?

Still, at least unlike the garage he didn't try to hide it :lol:

#4 User is offline   AndyReact 

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:07 PM

nice little write up! :) i am in a similar position at the moment, only my puma cost me 250! lol

#5 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 07:40 PM

Minor update: The warmer weather (more importantly - drier) gave me the opportunity to get the car out to SpannerHappyMate, we popped the back end up on ramps and had a good sniff around.

Looks like the clonking is caused by a clamp at the rear silencer, one of those circular ones made of a pair of U-sections, which appears to have been refitted the wrong way around, so one of the trailing lines of the U is banging off the rear beam, causing the clunk, we suspect. Certainly makes sense. It was getting dark so left it be, but I'll see if I can sort that meself next weekend, after all it's just a spanner job, nowt fancy.

Or I might just find as many rutted roads as possible, 'accidentally' damage the zorst and give Magnex a shout ;)

Clutch position sensor is still gaffer taped up behind the cowling till I get around to replacing it - it's not causing major problems (and 95% of the time the car runs in 'clutch closed' position anyway - which is how I have it taped up) so no rush on that.

Took it for 100 miles of blasting around the backroads of Hovingham and Malton, by Christ can that car carry speed on bends. Staggeringly quick point to point, immensely solid body control (nothing seems to phase it, even at speed), plenty of grip and lots of warning when it's starting to slip, and those Recaros do a lovely job of keeping you in place without doing your back in while all this is going on.

Ironically after 100 miles of ruts, compressions, tight corners, fast sweepers, etc I got out the car fresh as a daisy. Get home, sot down for a bit. Get up to make a coffee, tweek me back. D'oh!

Had a chat with aforemented SpannerHappyMate, going to look into stripping the doors down to clean the window seals and sort out some minor dings from the inside. I'll also be teaching myself basic paint repair (sand back, reprime, respray, polish) in preperation for getting the rear arches sorted. There's some nasty fade on the flanks and if that won't come back with t-cut/other cutting paste and a machine polisher then I'll have to consider a respray.

The bonnet and rear bumper both need serious attention - some of the stone chips have started weeping a bit on the bonnet, so they need looking at first. Don't mind running around with some primer on it for a while, annoyingly Halfords don't have rattle cans of the Zinc paint locally, so will have to get some sent to the office.

I'm not normally one for a cars appearance, but part of the appeal of this car is that paint colour - certainly for me. I look at the car in the metal and just smiled, and it always makes me grin when I see it in the morning, glaring back at me like some kind of grinning bumblebee; when faded, it looks just as sad as a lovely MkII Golf in Tornado 'pink' - it just looks really depressing.

So that's the next 'major' job.

I also need to investigate the top end (it's a bit rattly) and sort the rocker cover gasket, but the car pulls well, idles smoothly, etc so I think I can let them wait a bit till I work out what a top end rebuild will require.

How hard can it be? :roflmao:

#6 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:04 PM

Some more minor tidbits.

Todays purchases - one generic ten inch, mains powered RO polisher. 30.

T-cut in yelllow - 10

some extra pads - 10

Also purchased recently were a clutch position switch and ford fascia ISO adaptoid thingy.

The car has been t-cut to within an inch of it's life* and looks better for it. Finished around dusk so no representative pictures, but I'll get some tomorrow in the sun. It's not perfect, but it's a damned site better than it was.

Head unit installed - I now have iPod tunes banging out of the car. Nice!

Clutch position switch installed - I can now rattle through the gears with aplomb and not have to worry about lengthening the upchanges and being more careful on down changes etc - throttle response back to normal.

I also hooked up my Bluetooth adaptoid ELM327 OBDII thingy, to check my temps - cooling fan cuts in at approx 105deg C, which sounds about right on a pressurised system. I think the thermostat may be closing/opening a little early/late as the temp drops on long runs at speed, but it's not too much of a concern at the moment.

All is well in the world of the Millennium, with the exception that I haven't tidied up the exhaust clamp yet so it's still fouling the rear beam on speed bumps. Will get around to that, honest....

*not strictly true - I did all panels once except the tailgate and passenger door - will do them tomorrow if the weather holds up.

#7 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:56 PM

Polishing update - added to the t-cut with some Autoglym SRP.

Difference is astounding. Don't have a direct comparison shot, but here's the car before:
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And here it is as of today:

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Massively impressed with what a bit of elbow grease and a proper wash can do.

Alas the lower half of the car is shotblasted, with lots of crap apparently in the paint - I didn't want to try to 'scrape' it out without having touch up paint to hand, which I should have tomorrow.

I've been told about claying, but I tried that today and did more harm than good - thankfully, as those photos show, harm I could polish out!

If the sun is out I'll get some more direct shots of that wing which is clearly awful in that first shot - it's not perfect, but I honestly can't tell the difference any more between the front valance/wing/bonnet - they all look the same colour now.

Still, car now looks a whole lot less sheddy, and a whole lot more attractive.Which is the way it'll stay till self control goes out of the window and I cover it in mud, tar, general fallout and tarmac. Hopefully this'll make it easier to clean afterwards though.

This post has been edited by StevenRaith: 18 December 2012 - 10:55 PM


#8 User is offline   happy-kat 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:12 PM

That is a big difference :)
I made a mess of claying too and had to polish out the marring using my Farcela G10.
searching is fruitful | I'm a sponge not a mechanic | The Wiki is cool, please do check there if stuck with a Puma problem whilst waiting for a reply | For the Puma fan this read 'The Inside Story Book' is very nice to own link coming soon

#9 User is offline   AndyReact 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:48 PM

I don't understand how you guys have managed to do any damage with using a clay bar, as long as the paint is "clean" to start with?! The few times I have clayed cars I have been very happy with the results!!

#10 User is offline   happy-kat 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:52 PM

For me it marred the paint so it looked like a mackeral in the sun light. I have tried twice now and been very careful and well lubricated etc. too.
searching is fruitful | I'm a sponge not a mechanic | The Wiki is cool, please do check there if stuck with a Puma problem whilst waiting for a reply | For the Puma fan this read 'The Inside Story Book' is very nice to own link coming soon

#11 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:10 AM

View PostAndyReact, on 20 March 2012 - 09:48 PM, said:

I don't understand how you guys have managed to do any damage with using a clay bar, as long as the paint is "clean" to start with?! The few times I have clayed cars I have been very happy with the results!!


I spoke with a chum who has clayed his (non clearcoat) E30 M3a few times, and it seems what I was seeing - differences in paint colour, paint coming off on the clay - is pretty normal. You polish it out. I just didn't want to carry on without checking that first!

If you have clearcoat and you see colour coming off...er, stop, I believe is the thing to do.

I might well try claying again at a later date, once I have the car properly cleaned and I have a good machine polisher to clean up the marring it'll leave thanks to a mixture of the original paint, apparent bad respray of various panels, and T-cuts colour compound. Might be a long, panel by panel job!

The difference in the metal is astounding - I found a couple of other pics that I'll get around to uploading later.

Anyway, Sunday I should be looking at some of the rust patches with SpannerHappyMate, and getting a list of supplies for treatment/correction of that.

By the time I'm finished with this car, I'm determined to be able to comfortably handle anything up to full blown tinworm without assistance - that alone will save me hundreds of quid over the years in bodyshop charges. Hell, the work I've done so far would probably have cost more than the cost of the (admittadly cheap, low quality) bits I've bought so far...

This post has been edited by StevenRaith: 21 March 2012 - 08:12 AM


#12 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:09 PM

So, not much done to the car other than getting the head unit in.

I have a reason to get the car up to snuff a bit sooner than expected however. I got an insurance quote on one of these for a laugh...

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...and it turns out it's pretty reasonable for what it is :o :roflmao: only a couple of hundred quid a year more than the Puma!

So I have a target to aim for - clean up Puma, trade it for a Porsche.

I've always loved 944s, simply never realised they were attainable.

Fear not though, this won't be till well after the summer, I plan to get some good drives out of the little yellow rocket yet!

#13 User is offline   Ian G 

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:42 AM

At least you've been honing the mechanical skills before taking that on Steve :lol:

#14 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:43 PM

Yeah...that one could be interesting!

It's all a bit variable at the moment; I'd imagine that a 944 is worse on running costs and insurance than, say, an MX-5 or E36 328, both cars I'm also interested in.

Mind you, blatting around town this morning in the sun reminded me that I know what I've got with the Puma...I wish I could just flip a coin and decide.

This isn't helped by about a dozen members of another forum effectively going 'DO IT DO IT DO IT' WRT to the Porsche. Peer pressure, ah, how I have missed you :roflmao:

#15 User is offline   happy-kat 

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 01:07 PM

My only experince of one of those is listening to being told about horrendous mechanical costs.
Something about depends on which engine variant too, one is shit the other slightly less shit but still shit on costs ;)
How is the handling score in it?
The Puma is different and in it's self a statement and more so when yellow. B) and the driving experience is a pleasant surprise.
searching is fruitful | I'm a sponge not a mechanic | The Wiki is cool, please do check there if stuck with a Puma problem whilst waiting for a reply | For the Puma fan this read 'The Inside Story Book' is very nice to own link coming soon

#16 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 04:07 PM

Handling of the S2s is regarded as one of the finest examples of front-engine, rear drive balance ever done.

Mechanical costs - there are some nasties (clutch changes, suspension geometry can be a pig if left to seize - it's fully adjustable, transfer tubes for the propshaft, rust rust rust rust) but otherwise it's pretty solid all things considered. The later 2.5 and 3.0 engines can be pricey if not maintained properly. Maintaining them properly isn't too hard though!

I do like the yellow thing. It's a proper laugh.

#17 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:23 PM

Screw the 944, I thrashed the Puma on the way to back from the Specialist Cars Malton meet thing, and found new depths. It's staying.

I have removed that awful sticker from the rear window. Pics tomorrow. Will also try to sort the exhaust clunk out too.

#18 User is offline   melinamotor 

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:36 AM

Nice read mate, you have a rare car there and definately worth saving. I have come back to the Puma time and time again over the years. Have owned some nice machinery aside too, however the Puma will always hold a place for me regarless of being over ten years old.
Ex Melina 1.7,ex FRP441,ex Silver 1.7
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BMW M3. www.tremonagarage.com

#19 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:29 PM

I can see the Puma being a reference point for future cars I get - it's too bloody good at everything.

Four Osram Nightbreakers in the glovebox, gonna check the voltages at the lamps and install 'em, see if I can do owt about the voltages at the same time if necessary.

#20 User is offline   StevenRaith 

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:26 PM

Nightbreakers installed.

Close inspection of the lamp covers shows external scratches and a lot more internal dust than was evident during previous (daytime) inspections - strip 'n' polish time methinks.

Oh, light quality from the Nightbreakers is nice - subjectively a cleaner light than the Halfords Extreme bulbs, a touch more white and a cleaner pattern. Probably just psychological, mind. Definitely better made and packaged than the Halfords bits, and fit the 9005 holders nice and snug.

Got 'em from here - http://www.amazon.co...duct/B005M2E2SM

Two bulbs per pack, so that's under £60 for four, plus two sets of 501 5w wedge bulbs (so four of 'em) for free, with express delivery - not bad given that little lot from Halfords would set you back the far side of a ton, and not far off a ton if they have a two-for-one on.

Got boggo Philips Premium sidelights rather than extreme white ones advertised, wasn't too fussed but contacted the seller to let him know, he said he'd beat his stock picker and lock him back in the cupboard for that mistake. Actually he said he'd get onto his stock pickers so that the mistake wasn't repeated.

He also suggested that I take part in his facebook thingy to get some free air freshner things. I let him know that "I prefer my car to smell as it currently does - of cigarettes and the fear of my passengers"

This got a warm response.

Oh, couldn't work out how to get the sidelights out, but as they mysteriously seem to be working today, I'll leave that till I strip the units down.

I was also too lazy to check the voltages - as I also couldn't work out how to get the multiplug off to measure V-droop, or what I am calling v-droop; IE the difference between unloaded and loaded voltage. That's what I get for attacking the car at 2130 hours, arf. No way I was spending twenty minutes fiddling with a screwdriver in the dark only to drop/break something.


Productive day then I suppose.

This post has been edited by StevenRaith: 11 April 2012 - 11:32 PM


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