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Author Topic: The story of my Silvia in my tiny little garage  (Read 2126 times)

Online CzechSilvia

The story of my Silvia in my tiny little garage
« on: 11:17:06 AM / 28-Aug-16 »
Hi,

I already posted in a few threads but I think it's time to introduce myself and my car, it's a long story and not particularly interesting so don't expect anyone to read all of it, parts of this are already written in other threads here on forum.

I'm happily married guy with a job that's average paying at best but my expenses like rent and things like that are really low so I can afford to have a project car and still get by. I was born and raised in Prague and I always liked japanese 80s and 90s cars. Since I was 14 I have always wanted a small light-weight RWD car - something like an S13, AE86, MR2, MX5,... stuff like that. I had never even heard of an S12 until I have seen the ad for the Silvia I now own.

My first car was 80s Citroen AX with a 1.0liter engine which I got from my mother. Everything you touched in the car broke but the car still somehow managed to run for years. At the end of its life the little AX was all rusty, the driver's side and trunk lock rusted off, it had almost no brakes, terrible head gasket leak - the engine ate almost as much oil as petrol, almost nothing electrical worked and the only thing on the dash that still worked was the clock. But the car was such a blast to drive with its 760kg it handled like a go-kart. The engine eventually died for good and the car got scrapped. I was looking at ads for another car and saw an ad with another AX for sale but it was a super rare model that had 1.4 liter engine and it was 4x4! It was really cheap so I could probably afford it but the ad disappeared before I made my mind, that was in 2012. I have always regretted not buying that car.

In November 2015 my wife wanted to buy herself a car so I was checking some ads for her and out of boredom I started looking at cars I was interested in. And there she was, a white '85 Silvia hatchback with ca18et in it. Suddenly I remembered the rare Citroen AX, I wouldn't make make the same mistake again so I decided to buy it. I crashed my bike so I wanted some toy to replace it. I'm not a mechanic by any means - before I got the S12, the only job I did on a car was that I once changed a flat tire on the AX but cars always fascinated me so I was willing to start learning some of the car stuff. I thought that I'll do just the basic stuff like change some filters, change the oil and other basic stuff like that. My plan was that if something important breaks, I'll just bring it to a pro because I though that it's too dangerous to do stuff like brakes by your own if you're not a mechanic. It has turned out very differently than I had planned...

They say not to buy a car when it's raining and they're right. It was raining real hard the day I went to check the Silvia and it was already night time when I finally got there and it was friday the 13th, not kidding. The Silvia was originally owned by a guy from Switzerland and from there it was imported to Czech Republic in 1997. Some old man bought it here  and he was driving the car until 1999 and then, probably because of a broken turbo, put the car in a garage where it sat until 2015. That year the owner of the car died and the ownership went to his son who immediately sold the car to the guy I was dealing with. He told me that he replaced the turbo and the exhaust and that the only thing the car needs is a new battery and that there's a tiny little oil leak somewhere near the turbo, also the fuel pump didn't work and according to him that was the reason he was selling it. He told me he lost all motivation to mess with it and that he wants it away. I was like ALRIGHT! and bought it and had it towed to a tiny little garage I rented to fix the car. They also say not to buy a car that don't start, that's also a very good advice.

And there she is in my garage after I bought her


I had very limited knowledge about engines and cars, I still do but the situation is getting better :). First I took a shot at the fuel system, for 2 days I was searching for a fuel pump relay because I just knew that that must be the cause of the problems. I thought it's weird that I can't find it because according to the manual it was supposed to be there. That's when I learned that Mk1 and Mk2 are a thing. Turned out there is no fuel pump relay in Mk1. I had a friend to help me with this problem, he doesn't know much about cars but he's very good with the electric stuff, what we did was this - I was turning the key in different positions and he was testing the fuel pump voltage with a multimeter at the back of the car. The readings he got didn't make any sense at first. During this my friend touched a wire he should have and got electric shock at that same second the engine fired up! A little bit of panic ensued :D. After a while my friend figured it out, by getting the electrical shock, he grounded the fuel pump which started working for a moment and that was enough for the motor to fire up, so it turned out the part of ECU that controls the fuel pump is fried so we bypassed the ECU and now the fuel pump is always on when I turn the key. It's a sketchy way of fixing it but it works...

So the car could finally be started! It idled quite well and when given less throttle the RPM went up as expected but with more throttle the RPM actually went down and if I had kept it at more than 1/2 throttle the engine would have stopped. In my case it was the MAF sensor, I carefully pulled it out of the aluminium housing and gave it a good clean with a spraycan of MAF sensor cleaner and that did the trick! Really cheap fix. I also did some other minor fixes.

After that, when I jacked up the car I found out that the brakes are busted, they were all rusty and seized. bleh


And then I had them refurbished


Soon after that I found out the real reason the guy I bought the Silvia from wanted to get rid of the car. The oil and coolant were mixing and like A LOT. The usual cause of that is the failed headgasket, the guy who sold it to me must have known, all the signs were there and he fixes cars for a living. Well it turned out it wasn't the head gasket, the cylinderhead was cracked. After 2 months of searching, I sourced a different head, got it pressure tested and found out that it's cracked in the same spot as the original head. So I had to find yet another head, this one was finally alright. I put the engine back together. While doing that I accidentally stripped a exhaust mani bolt hole. I managed to fix that too with a helicoil set.

Finally, I managed to start her up with the new head. It was a very proud moment for me, I managed to do all of this by myself (almost) in that tiny little garage with limited tools and budget. I stood there proudly as the engine was spitting oil on the ground and on the exhaust where it was burning off and making clouds of smoke. This probably was the tiny oil leak the guy I bought the Silvia from warned me about. Also she had bad overheating issues at the time she still had the cracked head, turned out someone installed the thermostat the opposite way. During the cylinder head replacement I also fitted new the water and bought a new thermostat, I also did the timing belt with the tensioner, all new gaskets and other stuff while I was at it.

The oil leak turned out to be interesting problem. The oil feed hard line for turbo was cut in two parts and these were connected by a rubber hose and a pair of hose clamps, this rubber ruptured. I think someone was removing the turbo and cut the metal line in two because he couldn't get to the bolt at the end of it. Probably previous owner. I replaced the hard line with a braided line.

Ok so after 10 months the car is finally able to drive! I tested it out and found out that I have a boost leak, minor fix, I just tightened a clamp I forgot about.

Here she is!




During the second drive I found out that the clutch is slipping, oh boy, here we go again :rolleyes2:. I knew the clutch is near the end of its life but I hoped it will last some more. Unfortunately I don't have money to fix that right now, I have to wait until the payday :/

Right now, I am also in the process of flushing the cooling system to deal with the aftermath of the cracked cylinder head. So far I have flushed it twice with distilled water with a coolant flush additive and once with only distilled water. The water I get out of it still looks like instant coffee with milk :/ At least it looks like the oil is mostly out of the system. Well, I'll just continue until it's clean.

My Silvia is exactly what they call a lemon, there are a lot of issues with her I had no idea about. At least the shell is relatively rust-free so I got that goin for me...

BUT I still love my Silvia and I have a lot of plans with her!


THE LIST:

fix fuel system (turned out the part of ECU that controls the fuel pump is fried so I bypassed the ECU and now the fuel pump is always on when I turn the key)
fix alternator (got it refurbished) (the refurbished one didn't work so I got a new one)
fix brakes (refurbished calipers, new pads, new front rotors, braided brake lines)
get and install new cylinder head (that was huge pain in the ass)
fix the turbo oil leak (replaced damaged oil feed hardline with a braided line with banjo bolts on both ends)
new water pump (had to modify the lower timing belt cover because the new pump wasn't exactly the same shape as the old one)
new thermostat
new clutch XTD stage 1
new tyres, although the ones that are on the car aren't cracked and the tread depth is good, they are almost 20 years old Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE002 195/60 R15
new bonnet - this one is bent and it just looks ugly as it's not flush with the other panels
fix the front lip - I'll probably just use rivets. I think it will look cool and it's cheap
new tail lights
fix sagged doors
upgrade the suspension - in process
front mount intercooler
boost controller
aftermarket air filter
blow-off valve
boost gauge, air/fuel ratio gauge
electric fan conversion
new paint job
paint the stock wheels just refurbish the stock wheels, the original colour is starting to grow on me
also wash the car
« Last Edit: 01:15:58 PM / 16-May-17 by CzechSilvia »

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Offline weitrhino

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #1 on: 11:31:18 AM / 28-Aug-16 »
Looking good. I admire your dedication to take on this project car without a deep skill set, like me. Although I don't envy you for finding parts in Prague.

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #2 on: 02:33:42 AM / 29-Aug-16 »
I guess it's pain in the ass to get the parts wherever you live. I have to order the parts from all over the world . Mainly US, Britain but also Australia, Germany, China and the cylinderhead bolts that are in the car I had to order from an e-shop in Saudi Arabia. I have never bought parts directly from Nissan, it's too expensive.
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #3 on: 04:23:54 AM / 02-Sep-16 »
a little update:

I riveted the old front lip back on the car. I might paint the rivets black eventually but I think I'll keep this look for now, it looks kinda neat.

« Last Edit: 01:27:53 PM / 27-Mar-17 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #4 on: 10:29:11 AM / 05-Sep-16 »
Another update!

Just installed new tail lights, I went from this:



to this:



aaah, much better

and I found a wasp nest in the vent hole, hehe


Post Merge
Another quick update! I'll keep posting them even though nobody cares, hah!  :evillaugh:

Just installed this neat strut bar!

« Last Edit: 01:30:34 PM / 27-Mar-17 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Offline iceageg

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #5 on: 07:27:00 AM / 06-Sep-16 »
Very nice.  Where did you find that strut bar?
I was afraid all the five gallon buckets of pain stacked four high were going to fall over

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #6 on: 08:45:59 AM / 06-Sep-16 »
Very nice.  Where did you find that strut bar?

I got it from the same guy who sold me the cylinder head when mine was cracked. He's a real S12 guru and really cool guy too, when I saw him he was putting some Lexus V8 in his S12, I wonder if he's finished... that car will be absolutely brutal.

Anyway, when I was at his place to pick up the cylinder head, I felt like Alice in the wonderland - he had so much cool spare parts for S12! He said he was done with SOHC CA engines so he just gave me like 2 intake manifolds, some MAFs, a spare starter and some other stuff. I asked him if he had a spare ca18et ECU because the one in my car has fried and the part of it that controls the fuel pump doesn't work. He was like "yeah, I have some. Here, have four." He gave me four ECUs just like that...  :wideeyed2:

He also gave me that old strut bar that someone welded ages ago. According to him it's already been on quite a few cars. The strut bar was this really ugly light red so I repainted it with a heat-resistant paint. It's still ugly :\  the colour combination seemed better in my head.
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Offline Cajun1guy

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #7 on: 09:08:12 AM / 06-Sep-16 »
Man, what luck to find such a treasure chest! I know you will be putting these items to good use, great updates!

Offline weitrhino

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #8 on: 11:55:53 AM / 06-Sep-16 »
Keep posting. There are some of us who care.

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #9 on: 03:16:39 AM / 12-Oct-16 »
Alright, another update! Right now I'm in the middle of changing the clutch. I went for the stage 1 XTD clutch mainly for financial reasons it cost me about 4000 CZK (160 USD) to buy and get it all the way around the globe from Cali to Prague. The cheapest clutches I was able to find here were about 7000 CZK (280 USD) and that's without the postage, that might seem expensive but the quality is probably on a whole different level compared to the XTD. The XTD clutches are considered trash but they are meant for a CA18DET engine which in stock form produces 228 Nm of Torque and since my Silvia has a puny 31y.o. single cam engine, that brand new was rated with 183 Nm, I think that the XTD clutch should be good enough for the job. I guess only time will show if I made a mistake or not. The throwout bearing that came in the kit was different than the one in my gearbox so I had to order the correct one but that's no biggie. I can't finish the job without the second set of hands so I have to wait till Sunday when my friend will have time to stop by and help me to put it back together.

Also the cooling system is finally clean. It took exactly 45 litres of distilled water to flush it properly.

While I wait till Sunday I decided to fix an issue I had with timing marks on crank pulley not meeting the pointer thingy on the belt cover thus the timing being impossible to set correctly. Turned out it was just another fuckup of one of the previous owners who for some reason decided to disassemble the crank pulley and then put it back together incorrectly.

So now I can properly set my timing! I already ordered the timing pistol for that. Never done that before but as I understand it, retarded = safe but boring ; advanced = more power but danger of detonation. So guys what's the sweet spot for a stock CA18ET? Btw. I run 100 octane petrol because the lower octane types of fuel in Europe usually have biofuel mixed in them which supposedly damages older engines.

But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #10 on: 04:25:09 PM / 16-Oct-16 »
Today I managed to put the whole car together. The new clutch is in which is a huge item to cross off the list. While I was at it I also changed the gearbox oil and the diff oil. I also did the timing which I set somewhere before the last timing mark so it should be around 17-18°btdc.

Then I went for a test drive. Everything seemed fine with exception of some weird noises which still need to be identified but I didn't have the time to worry about that too much because the engine stalled during the drive and then wouldn't start again. The battery is fairly new, about a year old, but there's nothing odd about it being almost flat since I abused it quite a lot without properly charging it during the repairs. But flat or not, once the car is started all the electricity should be provided by the alternator so it seems like busted alternator, right? But that's really weird because I had it refurbished 6 months ago.

Anyway, unless I'm missing something, I'm pretty sure it's the alternator so the plan is that tomorrow morning I'll get it out of the car and bring it back to the company that refurbished it for me.
« Last Edit: 04:33:30 PM / 16-Oct-16 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #11 on: 01:54:56 AM / 01-Nov-16 »
alright so a new alternator is in place and it provides sweet 14.something volts which is awesome! I did another test drive yesterday. I did about 30km in heavy traffic, more than half of it was a proper traffic jam and everything went really good, the new clutch seems to be breaking in pretty good and the water temperature was more than satisfactory so I am now really confident that the cooling system won't give me any headaches any time soon.

The only problem is that once I revved up the engine over 4k rpm I started to smell burned rubber and the alternator v-belt started to squeal. The v belt I have on is 9.5x875 mm and it's brand new, well was anyway... I had to tighten it again, it's a little bit thinner now because the slipping through the alternator pulley atomised some of the belt surface and now I have black rubber dust over my engine bay.

I really don't know what's the problem the pulleys seem to be ok, they are not misaligned and the belt is more or less the correct size. I did a research and if I'm not mistaken, the OEM belt should be 10x875 mm, they didn't have such belt in the shop I was in but they had the one I ended buying which is 0.5 mm thinner. The lady in the shop told me that there is no such thing as 9.5mm pulleys, that the 9.5 belt is meant for 10mm pulleys and it should be direct fit for my application.

Well if she was right, I really don't know what I'm doing wrong ...so if anyone has any idea, I'm all ears. For now, I'll get another belt and get the car to tech inspection.
« Last Edit: 02:31:42 AM / 01-Nov-16 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Offline Nebuchernezzer

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #12 on: 02:41:40 AM / 01-Nov-16 »
I just changed my belts and from memory the alternator belt is 11mm wide  or 13mm wide (the car has two 13mm wide belts and one 11, i forget which is which though)

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Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #13 on: 08:56:22 AM / 01-Nov-16 »
11? well, that's a surprise. I bought a 10mm one today from company Bando which I had thought is the true OEM one until I have read your post... I put the belt on at a car park right in front of the v-belt store and then drove the car to get it inspected. And I passed, I'm road legal now! The belt seems to be holding so far but I haven't taken the engine to the upper rev range yet.

It wouldn't be my post if there wasn't  a "but" coming so here it comes. The upper radiator hose gave way on my way back from the inspection. Man, I'm so glad that it didn't happen in front of the inspector. So much for my confidence in the cooling system... It was just a small puncture so mended it with duct tape which thankfully was enough to get me and the car safely home.

« Last Edit: 01:31:40 PM / 27-Mar-17 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Offline kelso840

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #14 on: 09:12:15 AM / 01-Nov-16 »
My radiator hose busted in that exact same spot. Got one of those universal flex tubes of roughly the same length and it worked like a charm.
Infrequently driving an s12.

Offline rednucleus

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #15 on: 11:16:50 AM / 01-Nov-16 »
your belt pic looks like proper size

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #16 on: 07:46:10 AM / 02-Nov-16 »
well, that was a quick fix for a change

« Last Edit: 01:31:59 PM / 27-Mar-17 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Offline S12_Lifer

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Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #17 on: 07:32:58 PM / 02-Nov-16 »
I'm luvin it, keep up the good work!

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of me, my Silvia, and my tiny little garage
« Reply #18 on: 04:51:16 AM / 03-Nov-16 »
Since my car is roadworthy now, I decided to turn my attention to the interior and make her more pleasant car to sit in. The most annoying thing about the car was an incredibly loud heat blower so the first thing on the list was to address this issue and it was a great success! I even made a how-to with pictures here

Next thing today is to get the interior properly cleaned, I'll have the whole interior steam cleaned and disinfected.
« Last Edit: 04:54:01 AM / 03-Nov-16 by CzechSilvia »
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...

Online CzechSilvia

Re: The story of my Silvia in my tiny little garage
« Reply #19 on: 09:47:32 AM / 09-Dec-16 »
I haven't done much to the car recently because it's freezing out there and I don't plan to drive the car until after the winter ends. The plan is to hoard parts and get busy when spring comes.

The most important thing on the "to do" list is to change the steering rack bushings. I ordered a set from experimental engineering but when they arrived I realised that the driver's side bushing is made for 25mm bracket but the bracket on my car is 21mm wide. Has anyone dealt with this issue before? Will getting the correct size bracket fix my issue or will there then be other fitment issues on the crossmember side or with the power steering rack itself?
But what do I know? All I know about cars I learned from youtube...