Volvo 240, Jimny, Corsa: Ever heard of a Toyota Paseo?

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I've bought yet another car this week, and here it is.

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Say hello to my 1997 Nissan Micra. Oh, it gets better. She's got a 1 litre, CVT automatic!

So, why have I bought a milk carton? Well, I didn't. The previous owners didn't want to see this old girl scrapped, and what with scrap value locally being around £40 a tonne (and the Micra isn't even a tonne at 820kg), it wasn't even worth scrapping. Their neighbour happens to know me and suggested I take it on, and I figured why not?

So, she's got 76,000 miles, two bald tyres, sills already patched and she needs a service, for which the previous owners already had the parts lying around. So at the reasonable price of zero pounds I could hardly say no.

I got insurance for a day, taxed her for a month and drove her away, and honestly I was quite impressed. Very comfy, buttery smooth, the CVT doesn't drone like their reputation suggests, and goes much faster than a 52BHP automatic has any right to.

Must admit it looks like bollocks though.

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Those are the only photos I've taken so far, but I have a few plans for this little car, besides an MOT, service, two tyres and a clean. Being free, this car (assuming Shaun doesn't find anything major to fix) gives me scope to actually put some money into non-essential things to liven the old girl up.

So... more coming soon!
 
SOLD!

So, the Micra is gone. Shaun checked underneath and found a minefield of corrosion under the floor, which was uneconomical to repair, even for a free car, so I advertised it on facebook and she sold for £175 to someone who I believe is going to do the welding themselves. One of the tyres started losing air due to a perished valve, so I put the spare on to make sure it'd safely get him home, and vacuum cleaned inside for something to do...

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It really cleaned up nicely inside, other than the torn seats. It's a real shame that I couldn't put more time in and make this car look nicer, but I was never going to make anything on the car that way. Either way, I've made a £125 profit for what has been a combined total of about half a day's work.
 
The Corsa; Lockdown 2020

So, the Corsa is a noisy s***box. Of course it is - it hasn't got any rear seats or trim. I wanted to make the road noise a bit quieter so the exhaust noise wasn't drowned out as much, and just so it was a bit quieter in general, all while not adding too much weight. I bought an eight metre reel of van insulation from Amazon and proceeded to shove it in all the gaps in the chassis.

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Next was a pointless modification I've always wanted to do - tarty wing mirrors.

I always thought the originals looked like elephant ears.

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I found some nice, cheap, rally-style mirrors for the Corsa. They're manual mirrors, which you have to push by hand to adjust. They were also nice and easy to fit.

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Naturally the visibility through them is terrible, but then it's a Corsa; it was never going to be particularly difficult to park. I'm very pleased with the look, and wind noise has been improved a little.
 
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The 240; July 2020

So after a few months of hibernation, I decided it'd be nice to fire the old girl up and have her out for a week. In that time I've done two small things.

Firstly, as long as I've had the car, the original mats/trays have had a hole in them. I finally found a replacement driver's mat and swapped them over.

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Next, I resprayed another part under the bonnet. This time, it was the bracket holding in the airbox. Originally, it had a brass finish, which was long gone.

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So, I sanded it, along with the retaining bolt, primed it, and sprayed it silver, while the bolt was sprayed in gloss black for some contrast.

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With hindsight, I'm thinking perhaps I should have sprayed the bracket black and the bolt silver, like the radiator brackets (being done soon too), to contrast against the Volvo's silver paint. Oh well, small things for now.
 
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The Fifth Vauxhall

So, I bought another project. A 20-year-old Vauxhall Astra.


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Laugh all you like, I absolutely love it!

So, it's a 2000 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 8V with an asthmatic 84BHP. It's pretty much base spec, with the only options being aircon. No CD player, no alloys, nothing much at all. The previous owner was a customer of mine, who was having his replacement car cleaned. He mentioned the scrapyard were coming to take this Astra away. For £70. Thing is, it had only done 51,800 miles. Nearly full service history, and passed its last MOT with no advisories. Does that sound like scrapyard material to you?

His logic was that during lockdown, nobody would buy the car without being able to test drive it. Clearly wrong because I gave him £175 for it, with the promise that it'll stay on the road. There was some wear, including surface corrosion on the driver's door, and a big scuff on the corner of the front bumper. The rear wiper arm was missing, as was the radio antennae. The seats had a few cigarette burns and the headlining was sagging at the back.

After getting Shaun to check it over, we found that there was no rust underneath, and the suspension was all in good order. So basically I got very lucky with this one! That meant all I had to do was clean it!

So, first, I got a new rear wiper arm and blade.

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Then, I found the old radio antennae from my Corsa that's been kicking around for about 3 years.

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Then, I used some RTV sealant and glued the headlining back up.

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I then cleaned the interior and bought a new set of fitted mats from Amazon.

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It was then onto the exterior. I started by cleaning the engine. Basically I coated it with snowfoam, used some "GUNK" engine degreaser and a brush, rinsed it and then sprayed some water based dressing on as I dried it to leave a more natural finish.

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Lastly, the body. I started with the fuel cap.

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Then, I tackled the large scuff on the driver side rear door.

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It's not perfect but it's a lot better. I'm still learning with the machine polisher.

So, finally, the before and after on the outside. It was washed, treated with tar remover, quickly clay detailed, dried and polished. I machine polished the bonnet and top half of the doors, and hand polished the roof (nobody's really looking at it are they?), along with the more curvy bumpers, and the less noticeable bottom half of the doors.

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Considering the wear and tear it's scrubbed up pretty well I think!

So, what does the Astra owe me?
I bought it for £175
Insurance cost me £25 to get it to Shaun's
The wiper arm and blade cost me £16
The mats cost me £20
The aerial was free
I spent somewhere around 6 hours cleaning it
So, the total is £236. I looked up some other Astras to figure out pricing, and saw plenty of similar examples at around £800. So I've advertised it for £695. Should hopefully find a buyer!

The Combo; Interior Upgrades

The valeting van has been crying out for something to tart up the interior lately. One such upgrade I've gone for is Tigra boomerangs. Allow me to explain. The Vauxhall/Opel Tigra is a Corsa C dressed up in mid-2000s drag and with a metal folding roof. Realising the interior was... well, horrid, GM wanted to do something to set it apart from the Corsa. So, they made most of the trim silver instead of black, gave it a bigger central display (where the ambient temperature, date/time and radio station were displayed), and also put in silver, boomerang-shaped trims either side of the centre console.

Honestly, I was never very keen on these clinical silver trims, until someone gave me the idea to colour-code them to match the van's white exterior. So, I did exactly that, and also found an ashtray from a Corsa (Combo vans never had ashtrays), painted the lid white, and added all three to the van.

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My job of respraying was fairly atrocious, but from more than a foot away, it looks pretty good. Perhaps at some point I'll respray them, but for now they do liven up the interior nicely.
 
The Combo; ECU Remap

So, on June the 13th, I had a chap come out and remap the van for £200 as a birthday present to myself. I went for an economy remap with an electronic EGR delete, figuring that the little Fiat tractor engine and it's flimsy clutch wouldn't handle the extra power of a stage 1 remap.

I had always been fairly sceptical towards remaps, so I tested my Combo's acceleration. I decided to test it by timing myself accelerating from 40-60mph in 4th gear, eliminating any differences in gear changes, plus I figured this would be a more realistic test of how well the van would overtake.

Before: 9.2 seconds
After: 6.9 seconds

Quite a difference. I must admit, the Combo feels much more lively, throttle response is much more instant, and the turbo seems less laggy. This does make it a little more difficult to drive smoothly in 1st or 2nd gear however, as the accelerator has become a bit of an on/off switch. I did get used to it after about a week though. The engine management light relating to the disconnected EGR valve is also sorted as well, which is nice.

But fuel economy? Up to 10% better fuel economy was touted. My average MPG has remained almost unchanged, however. My best was 59MPG after the remap, which is barely an improvement on before. A bit of a disappointment to be honest.

Still, my EGR fault is sorted for less than the cost of a new EGR valve, and the van has an extra 20BHP to play with, at no cost to fuel economy, so I suppose we can call that a win.
 
Still, my EGR fault is sorted for less than the cost of a new EGR valve, and the van has an extra 20BHP to play with, at no cost to fuel economy, so I suppose we can call that a win.

That's the way to think of it. More power and no downsides, that's a big success in my book :cool:
 
Ever since you commented in my thread about a week ago I've been reading through this thread, pretty much beginning to end. I absolutely love your attention to detail in your work! Ive had a couple of cars detailed now and neither of them seem to put even close to the amount of effort you do. Its actually kind of awesome, and you have somewhat inspired me to give my car a proper clean and keep it that way. Its even made me think maybe I want to do some detailing work on the side!

I also think its awesome how you treat your cars, and its awesome that you take a passion in keeping cars fresh that the vast majority of people would just use up and throw away like chip packets. I love it! Its a total shame how most cars are treated like disposable objects, and its really nice to see someone give them some TLC. It just makes me happy :)
 
Thanks! That's good to hear! Honestly the work I put in is nothing compared to what some people do. If you want to see true OCD, the car cleaning guru youtube channel is a fun one to watch. Though he spends most of his time on expensive cars, his best videos are on old bags of nails like what I own.

Cleaning cars is certainly a satisfying thing to do either way. My only gripe is that spending so much time on other peoples' cars, I don't spend as much time on my own cars as I'd like to.
 
Detailing

So, it's been a while since I updated this thread. I've been doing a little bit of practice with my machine polisher over the last few months after seeing a couple of youtube videos recommending different products. I had struggled to begin with, but I'm getting some decent result, now. This is a Chrysler 300C I've been improving for one of my best customers...

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So, while far from perfect I'm very happy with the results! It's just right for me - a good, noticeable result without the time sink a multi-stage polish can become.

The Volvo 240; Lowering the Front End!

My beloved 240 has sat high at the front for the longest time. A month or two ago, I finally got some 60mm lowering springs on the front end! The old springs were quite a stark contrast next to their replacements...

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So, here's how she looked before...

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And after!

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Needless to say, I'm pleased :D

Next I removed the front seats, for the first time ever! Naturally, to clean underneath...

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As some of the carpet had been pulled up, I also realigned it while I cleaned.

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The Volvo's in the garage now for winter, so the other vehicles in my hoard will be getting some attention soon!
 
The Peugeot?!

I bought a Peugeot. After working at a Peugeot dealer for two years you'd think I'd know better! Wrong!

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It's a limited edition Peugeot 206 Roland Garros! Why is it limited? Because it's Green.

Being serious, it's named after the French Tennis Tournament, which in turn is named after France's first flying ace. Features include dark green paint, front foglights, unique alloy wheels, a badge (WOW!), a panoramic sunroof, air conditioning with climate control, a CD changer (conveniently missing), and half-leather-half-alcantara seats, finished in a contrasting green and beige. It has a 1.6 TU petrol engine (so the head gasket's probably failed) with a typically awful clutch and somewhere around 100BHP. I bought it for £200, assuming I could sell it for maybe £600 after I've done some work to it. My first job was binning those awful roof racks...

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They had been cable tied into holes behind the door seals to secure it, so I also realigned the door seals.

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Next, I started on cleaning the interior. The previous owner was a part time plasterer and made a considerable mess - ideal for me! I started with the boot, lifting out the carpet to clean underneath...

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The carpet itself was quite disgusting. A few plastering stains wouldn't come out at all. I swept all the loose debris off with a broom, vacuumed the rest and then shampooed the whole carpet with some all-purpose cleaner and a drill brush.

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Lastly, I tackled the parcel shelf, which had been home to a snail for a little while...

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That was all I had time for with my first stint on the little green baguette. More to come soon!
 
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Exactly! Besides, it's actually been pretty fun so far! Best part of owning this 206 is not having to drive it :D

A friend had a Saxo for many years that was an absolute blast to drive despite it only being a 1l (1.1?). Mind you, he kept it well maintained, they're not nice when they go old and floppy. But what is.
 
I've driven a 106 (same thing basically) and it was a chuckable little car. Trouble is I can't really drive them. The pedals are too small and too close together. It's one of the biggest reasons I stick with my Vauxhalls. Even the small ones have nicely spaced pedals.
 
The Clio; Squeaking

For the last year, Katherine's Clio has had a squeaking drive belt. I finally decided it was annoying enough to replace. According to Shaun it was a complete pain, but he soon found out the cause of the squealing.

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That brittle little piece of plastic is the tensioner roller, which had chewed the belt on one side after it had sheared. Quite why Renault used plastic from the factory I don't know. The replacement, made by Gates, had a far sturdier metal roller.

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Once fitted, the Clio ran as smooth as silk. I also treated it to a wash and a quick machine polish.

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That lasted roughly a week.

The Peugeot; What a Mess!

Oh my this little green turd has been good fun to clean! I'm not even joking! So when I last was with the car, I binned the roof racks and cleaned the boot. This time I continued with the interior. I first stripped the seats and worked my way back to front, left to right.

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So that took about four hours. But golly it was fun! Next I attempted to clean the seats and headrests. I wasn't expecting miracles but I achieved a passable result at least.

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Unfortunately I ran out of time, so the rest of the seats had to wait until next time.
 
Steady progress! I quite like the Roland Garros edition Pugs - considering how little effort most manufacturers go to with special editions, the fact the RG cars all got unique leather trim, unique alloys, that kind of thing felt like they'd made a bit of an effort. They still do them with 108s but unfortunately those are no longer as unique - no green paint, no leather, wheels nicked from somewhere else in the range.

Never driven a 206 but surprised by the comment about the TU - I'd not heard the headgasket thing before, to my knowledge TUs are pretty stout. Maybe it's a neglect thing. My Rallye uses a 1.6 TU (albeit with different cams and a few other bits compared to the one they dropped in the 206) and at ~120k miles feels like it'd do the same again without much effort. Goes pretty well too, and really nice torque characteristics being an 8v, but then it's probably 100+ kilos lighter than the 206...

Clutch comment is interesting too. Know in the 106 it's cable-operated so it's reasonably heavy, but it feels very "connected" too, so with a good gearshift too it's probably got one of the nicer balances of clutch/throttle/gearshift of stuff I've driven.
 
Steady progress! I quite like the Roland Garros edition Pugs - considering how little effort most manufacturers go to with special editions, the fact the RG cars all got unique leather trim, unique alloys, that kind of thing felt like they'd made a bit of an effort. They still do them with 108s but unfortunately those are no longer as unique - no green paint, no leather, wheels nicked from somewhere else in the range.

Never driven a 206 but surprised by the comment about the TU - I'd not heard the headgasket thing before, to my knowledge TUs are pretty stout. Maybe it's a neglect thing. My Rallye uses a 1.6 TU (albeit with different cams and a few other bits compared to the one they dropped in the 206) and at ~120k miles feels like it'd do the same again without much effort. Goes pretty well too, and really nice torque characteristics being an 8v, but then it's probably 100+ kilos lighter than the 206...

Clutch comment is interesting too. Know in the 106 it's cable-operated so it's reasonably heavy, but it feels very "connected" too, so with a good gearshift too it's probably got one of the nicer balances of clutch/throttle/gearshift of stuff I've driven.
The dealership I had some bad experiences working for in 2015-17(mentioned near the beginning of this blog) was a Peugeot specialist (formerly main dealer). There were still a few 307's and 206's about, and the odd 106, and head gaskets were a common theme with the petrol engine models, which were almost solely TU engines. Other common faults were ignition coil packs. The upshot is it's pretty much the easiest head gasket job you could ask for. The particular cars I remember were a 1.1 litre 106 from 1997 with about 110k, and a 1.4 litre 307 on only 30k (recently sold by the dealer so had to be done under warranty). As for the clutches, it's not that they're weak, or worn, it's just a particular thing with the 206 and 207 petrol engines. The biting point is very high, has next to no feel and it's also very narrow in the travel of the pedal.

However, Peugeot outdone themselves with the replacement - the EP, or 'Prince' engine you'd find in the late model 207, early 208, 308 T7, Citroen DS3 and R56 Mini. Turbocharged variants are used in the current GTi models, but I have no idea if these issues persist. Deciding that a coil pack and a head gasket wasn't enough, here's the common faults we picked up with the EP engines:
-misfires, often attributed to spark plugs, coil packs or the dephaser.
-timing chain rattling, even on fully serviced models.
-if the owner had used cheaper 10-40 oil instead of the recommended 5-30, this could cause the timing to become retarded, or the timing chain could become stretched. I know using the wrong oil grade is a bit of a rookie mistake, but that is extreme.
-burning oil. The cause was that the piston heads were very slim, and had a tendency to vibrate inside the cylinders. Over time, this would wear out the cylinder walls, causing oil to leak into the combustion chamber.

Peugeot were awful quiet about the oil burning problem, but when a 2008 207CC came back under warranty burning half a litre every 1000 miles, we had to look into it, as the car had only done 48,000 miles. Peugeot's online servicing and parts programme had a very small bulletin about the issue hidden away on the website, saying that the only fix was a new engine block. So basically a new engine. We found an engine with 27,000 miles, put it in, and found after a month it was doing exactly the same thing.

But at least the head gaskets were good!
 
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Certainly heard stuff about those later engines, particularly in Minis because maybe more enthusiasts drive those. Not sure what the GTIs are like though - haven't heard any scare stories, and the Peugeot Sport ones in particular had a lot of unique parts that Mini and other Peugeots didn't use, so maybe those were more solid.

Despite the reputation though my understanding of most 80s-90s Peugeots is they're mechanically pretty good (maybe not electrically, but the more basic the car the better in that respect). Having owned one for a bit I think the only equivalent cars of the era I'd be inclined to trust more would be the Japanese ones, though honestly my Peugeot's been less trouble than my MX-5 was!

Into the 2000s things definitely started going awry. I drove the tail end of some of those when I first started writing about cars, and recently drove a bog-standard 207, and they really weren't very good. For the last six or seven years ago they've improved massively, and Peugeot's been climbing the last few reliability surveys I've seen too which is interesting, so maybe they're making significant improvements.
 
Certainly heard stuff about those later engines, particularly in Minis because maybe more enthusiasts drive those. Not sure what the GTIs are like though - haven't heard any scare stories, and the Peugeot Sport ones in particular had a lot of unique parts that Mini and other Peugeots didn't use, so maybe those were more solid.

Despite the reputation though my understanding of most 80s-90s Peugeots is they're mechanically pretty good (maybe not electrically, but the more basic the car the better in that respect). Having owned one for a bit I think the only equivalent cars of the era I'd be inclined to trust more would be the Japanese ones, though honestly my Peugeot's been less trouble than my MX-5 was!

Into the 2000s things definitely started going awry. I drove the tail end of some of those when I first started writing about cars, and recently drove a bog-standard 207, and they really weren't very good. For the last six or seven years ago they've improved massively, and Peugeot's been climbing the last few reliability surveys I've seen too which is interesting, so maybe they're making significant improvements.
Older models really don't have much to go wrong, especially the diesels. But yes the 2000s is where they stopped trying. I drove a 2007 207 once with a 1.4TU and 75bhp. Truly the slowest car I've driven. Awful thing.

I think part of the reason Peugeot's higher on the surveys is a mix - for a start Ford use their diesel engines, while Citroen and Vauxhall are just Peugeots. Meanwhile the german brands seem to be getting worse for reliability ever year. Though since the 208 they have admittedly had less problems.
 
The Combo; Winter 2020/21

So, the van has had a little attention lately. After a particularly uncomfortable journey from Suffolk to Devon, I decided to try and add some kind of sound-deadening, which has now evolved into a mission to make the cargo area look more car-like. I decided to start with the easiest pieces to remove; the rear door cards. Removing them revealed the framework underneath. The first thing I did was clean, naturally!

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Those gaps were ideal, so I added some of the same Dacron foam that I had used in my Corsa.

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With the plastic door card removed, I first cleaned off all the dust that had accumulated, and then wet-sanded the front. With Katherine's help, I used a four-way stretch carpet and spray adhesive to cover the door card, starting with the indentation where the door handle sits.

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We placed an old towel over the carpeted section to prevent the messy glue ruining it, and then covered the rest of the panel with one piece. It was easier than we thought it'd be!

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To keep it secure, flaps were cut so the fabric could be glued over the back of the panel. Our chihuahua was not helpful.

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Thankfully the plastic fasteners that secure the door card didn't snap, so I replaced the door card. The end result looked very promising!

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Next was the plywood panels on the upper sections. I covered them with a thin self-adhesive insulating foam, before carpeting them, to add some cushioning. I also stuck a few small tabs of the foam on the back to prevent vibration.

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Being flat, they were much easier to carpet. Once in the van, the rear doors were finished.

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Needless to say I was very happy with the result! So, I shall be working my way through the van, carpeting and insulating everything I can, to make the van look and sound less tinny.

While all this was in progress, I also bought a silver 2004 Corsa 1.3 diesel. That would be my fourth Corsa, and sixth Vauxhall. I had no intention of tarting it up to sell on, because it was too far gone with rust. It was a parts car! I bought it for £130, and stripped about £100 worth of parts to use on my Corsa and Combo, and a few to sell. Once I had what I wanted, I sold what was left to a scrap dealer for the modest sum of... £130. So basically the parts were free! Can't grumble at that! The parts used on the Combo included;

1. An insulated engine cover (on the right)...

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2. Underbonnet insulation...

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3. A new 12V socket to replace the original, which was loose...

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And a new screenwash cap, as the old one had snapped. I figured a photo of that was unnecessary!

Next up was a trip to Shaun's. Lately, the van has developed the inevitable brake servo leak, leaving the driver's floor damp. So, me and Shaun stripped under the scuttle panel, which included the windscreen wiper assembly and motor, the screenwash bottle, the cabin filter and the black intake shroud that surrounds it, and the battery. While Shaun removed and resealed the servo itself, I cleaned all the foliage and mud that surrounded it, and cleared the drainage channels that were likely flooded.

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With everything clean, I started putting things back.

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I also made a slight modification to the black shroud that surrounds the cabin filter. There's a small black flap on the left side which appears not to serve a purpose, but it does cover part of the brake servo panel. So we cut it off, meaning that if the leak isn't solved, we won't need to remove that intake shroud again.

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I've been saving the best for last. While at Shaun's, we wired up and fitted some new halo headlights! They're the same type as fitted to the Corsa, but I chose black for the van instead of chrome, to contrast against the white paintwork.

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I was giddy when I saw the halos light up :D

That's all for now!
 
Machine Polishing

So, about 3 months ago, my machine polisher started to screw up. It was starting slow, not getting up to speed, and eventually stopped altogether. Having been on the lookout for a replacement anyway, I bit the bullet and bought a DAS-6 Pro for a similar price to my first machine. It's much more powerful and gets better results, so I'm very pleased with it! I took apart the old one, cleaned out the brushes in the motors, which fixed it. So, I sold it for £50 to recoup some of the money spent on the replacement.

With my new polisher, I've been experimenting with headlight restoration. It's something I've tried by hand with mediocre results. One day whilst at Shaun's, I saw a few of his customers' cars had very foggy headlights, so I figured I'd ask to use them as guinea pigs. The first was a Nissan X-Trail.

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I wet-sanded with 1000-grit paper, sanding sideways, before moving up to 2500-grit, sanding up-and-down. Next, I broke out the DAS-6 and got to work with some Meguiar's Ultimate Compound. The result, while not perfect, was a significant improvement!

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With that transformation complete, I gave myself even more of a challenge. There was a 2003 Vauxhall Astra with extremely faded lights. The result wasn't as good as with the X-Trail, but still much improved.

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