Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ford 1.8 TDCi FAI Timing Chain Conversion Install

If you own a Ford Focus, Mondeo or Transit with the 1.8 TDCi Duratorq engine be aware it may have a hidden time bomb that could ruin your engine.

Around the year 2008 the lower timing chain was switched to a belt that runs in oil. These are often neglected and can fail leading to catastrophic engine damage. The wet belt should be changed every 10 years or 125,000 miles

Here are a few pictures of my belt after 9 years and 100,000 miles. Notice all the cracks not only on the back of the belt but between the teeth too.

The belts usually fail by stripping the teeth and with those cracks it's hard to say how much longer this belt would have lasted.

In this case it was not a lack of maintenance that lead to premature wear. This car has been serviced every 5,000 miles with the correct spec oil and has never missed an oil change.

You can replace the belt for another belt but why risk it? I opted to swap out the belt for the heavy duty chain kit and eliminate the problem.

Lymm Engine Components sell a conversion kit from wet belt to chain that features an FAI timing chain kit and all the other parts necessary to perform the swap. As you can see from the video below it's a big job to get to the chain or belt so do it right and do it once.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

How far can you drive with a hole in your gearbox?

Having fun and games trying to recover this Nissan Terrano with a hole in the gearbox back to the workshop. See how I got on here.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

YouTube Collaborations

As part of my exploration of the online video world I figured I would take a look at the education series provided by YouTube for expanding your audience. One of the key themes that is pushed by YouTube is that collaborating with other YouTubers with a channel similar to yours is a great way of getting new subscribers and introducing your content to people who might want to watch it.

Since Badgertronix developed into more than a mechanism for understanding how YouTube works, you start to develop friendships with like minded sorts from around the world. This has resulted in the first Badgertronix collaboration that included 3 other creators.

The collaboration became a global ordeal with Canada, USA and New Zealand represented. The original concept bares no resemblance to the the initial idea but that was all part of the process.
We ended up making a video that can only be described as original.

The collaborators all have channels vaguely related to automotive repair and maintenance, a long way from the dresses, makeup and innuendo that made it through to the final cut.

Coordinating across 3 separate timezones had remarkably few challenges and the availability of mechanisms like Google Drive, YouTube private videos and Google+ made things a breeze.

It was great learning and heaps of fun. Certainly a few things to work on for the next collaboration but in a positive way in order to create better content.

From the United States we had Rickafix, from Canada Thomas EXOVCDS and Steve Rob. A talented bunch of fellas, each with unique YouTube channel with innovative content.

The collaboration ended up a little like this:

 Definitely worth a watch, it won't be what you expected.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Trackday Funtimes

My birthday present this year was a track day for the VR6. I've never driven on a track before and the thought of driving my 18 year old VW Golf VR6 as hard as I could brought excitement and apprehension in equal measure.

The track in question was Hampton Downs in the Waikato. $80 NZD gets you to a twilight session that includes around 4 fifteen minute sessions.

To make sure the car had a chance of getting through the event I gave it a good looking over. Here's the video of the pre track day shake down:

The day itself was fantastic. It was pushing 30 degrees Celsius when I set off on the 80KM drive to the track. That in itself is probably the longest single journey I have done in what is usually my daily commuter. Did the car hold out? Did I manage to stay on the track? Here's the video of the day itself:

Of course the car made it although there were a couple of casualties from the extreme nature of going full blast on a race track:

It was a fantastic experience and one I hope to do again soon. Definitely some lessons learned from last time that will only make the day even better.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Smash and Dash

Until last month I have never had reason to call my insurance company and make a claim. That all changed when the other half was rear ended on a roundabout by a truck that didn't stop and fled the scene. Thankfully she got the registration number and company name off the side of it so there was hope of getting the damage paid for without having to pay the $500 excess.

The damage wasn't huge but i don't take kindly to people damaging my things and disappearing so I was determined to get it sorted properly. The rear mounted dash cam had stopped recording days before so I had no video evidence. See some of my other blog entries about what I think about budget dash cams.

First stop was the police station to report the crash and the failing to stop. Next was the phone call to the insurance company. 10 minutes later and the claim was processed, rental car arranged and the process explained of how and when the car would get fixed. Simple and efficient.

I also called the company who owned the vehicle who caused the damage. The guy was very defensive and refused to give me any insurance details. Not to worry I thought, the claim recovery department of my insurance company would get things sorted.

Time came to drop the car off for repair. They checked the damage, gave me keys to the rental and said it would be fixed in a few days. The next working day they called to say it was all fixed. Very impressed with that and the quality of the repair, less impressed with the fact that they hadn't managed to sort claiming from the third party leaving me to pay the excess. Apparently they were refusing to talk and not answering calls. That made me pretty wild so I got back onto the company owner and he was still being difficult. I made him squirm a bit though and here's the highlight of my conversation with him:

That conversation didn't resolve things so I made a plan of actions to get things resolved. This plan included:

  1. Get the details of the Company Directors so you can address communication to them. This can be done for free at Companies Office. This gives you names, office and home address details of the people you're after.
  2. Send a polite letter requesting payment of the excess. I sent this to both the business and personal address of the two directors. Knowing some angry person who you owe money to has your home address was enough to prompt swift resolution of the claim and my excess was refunded next day.
  3. If the above hadn't been successful my next step was to take the case a Disputes Tribunal which deals with small claims up to $15,000 in value. The third party has to attend court so even if you're unsuccessful in getting things resolved you've disrupted his business for some time.
  4. I hadn't thought past step 3 but if you're still not getting anywhere then I'm sure a social media campaign, direct action or any other means you can think of to put some pressure on will make you feel better even if you're still out of pocket.
If you're in a similar situation and manage to get a registration number but no company details you can look up the owner (for the cost of a few dollars) via carjam. This only works for business vehicles, private individuals details will not be disclosed. You have to get those from the Police once they have investigated the incident.

Speaking of the police, a nice bonus outcome was a letter that arrived in the mail yesterday. Not only did I get my excess refunded, the offending driver got a ticket for driving like a dick!

So my advice is to persevere until you get the right result. Make it known to the third party that you're not going to leave them alone until things get sorted and stick to a plan of action that's going to get results.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Top 5 Car Failures

I've had many cars over the years and driven many miles. As a consequence I've experienced a fair few failures. In amongst all the flat batteries, water leaks and more mundane failures I've picked out 5 of the more memorable:

5) Difficult Hilux

This one wasn't even my car. I'd taken my Dad's Toyota Hilux to work, a journey of about 65 miles, 100Kms at the time down the motorway. It was barely 2 years old, a pristine white 4x4 example. The journey there was unremarkable, the truck was parked up happily until home time. When I set off to go home all was well. After about 5 minutes of driving on the motorway I started noticing a hesitation and occasional jerkiness. It felt like a misfire which in a diesel is probably not going to be the case! There were no funny noises and it was still driving ok so I carried onto the motorway services another 5 miles up the road to take a closer look.

I parked up, got out and had a look under the bonnet. Engine was idling nicely, revving freely couldn't see anything out of place. I was a bit stumped so had a walk around the vehicle and a look underneath. That's when I saw a missing drain plug in the transfer case and still a hint of magic smoke escaping. The drain plug that was installed at the factory and yet to be touched by a service department was AWOL leaving me stranded with a seized transfer box.

It got towed and fixed under warranty and came back with some nice shiny new parts.

4) Ford Falcon Head Gasket

Many years ago I embarked on a round Australia road trip. Starting in Perth, Western Australia I bought a heap of junk Ford Falcon (with working AC) and set off on a 20,000KM drive. Things were going well. I'd had a few near misses with cows, camels and other wildlife. Crossed a few rivers and the car was still going. Having spent some tine in Darwin it was time to drive through the Red Centre of Australia - essentially a desert with temps of up to 50 Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

One leg of the journey took us from Katherine to Alice Springs, a distance of around 1200KM. There wasn't much to look at between the two places and other travelers had just started disappearing so we made good time. There never used to be a speed limit on the highway so we were making great progress. Hammer down, AC blowing then I noticed the temperature gauge pinned to the red. We stopped to have a look and wait for things to cool down. An hour later the thing was still red hot so we started cramming ice from the chilly bin into the radiator. That proved to be quite effective and the car carried on for another 7,000KM before being abandoned. Occasionally a radiator hose would blow off or it would run like crap but for the most part it kept going.

3) Skoda Dual Mass Flywheel

The only car I have ever owned from brand new. A fully spec'd, all wheel drive Skoda Octavia Scout with all the options. Fantastic car if you ignore the emissions. The plan was to look after it and keep it forever. Well that didn't work out, mainly because I moved to New Zealand but regardless the car let me down after a few months.

Driving through a fairly dodgy part of Hull, East Yorkshire late one night I pulled off from some traffic lights. The car didn't seem to be moving very quickly. I turned the stereo down to hear the engine revving but the car not moving. I checked I was in gear and I sure was. Turns out the dual mass flywheel had imploded so I ended up with a new clutch and flywheel with only around 3000 miles on the dial.

2) Audi S6 Clutch Pedal

My Audi S6 was a phenomenal car. Fast, comfortable, heaps of grip. It was the last petrol car I used for work and covered around 30,000 miles a year in it. I was heading back to the office after a weekend in Worcestershire. The journey takes you from the M5 motorway in the Midlands to the M4 in Berkshire via the A417/A419. The A417 includes the stretch heading up the notorious Bridlip Hill
and around the Air Balloon Roundabout. It always used to be one of the busiest stretches of road anywhere in the country, especially on a Monday morning. Heading up the hill in stop start traffic I started having difficulty getting the car into gear and when I did clutch was either off or on.

On a hill, in the outside lane approaching a roundabout of one of the UKs busiest intersections is about the worst place to break down. It causes a level of automotive stress that I don't ever wish to relive. There was nowhere to pull out of the way, I couldn't push the car up the hill. Stopping where I was would have caused miles of tailbacks and I most likely would have been murdered by countless angry commuters.

Using a combination of left and right foot braking, handbrake, accelerator and driving the car on the starter I managed to get round the roundabout and into the central reservation so traffic could pass. A police car arrived soon after and offered to tow me into a nearby pub car park which at 8 AM was disappointingly shut.

The clutch pedal bracket had sheared off due to metal fatigue. The downside of all wheel drive cars with powerful engines is a heavy clutch. Being the car I used for work I had taken out a warranty and up until then the warranty company had been great at paying out claims. The warranty stated that the 'Clutch Pedal Assembly' was indeed covered but they did not think that the failed clutch pedal assembly constituted part of that. It got sorted in the end and they paid out £579.65 for a shiny new one.

1) Suzuki Cracked Head + Budget Fix

The old lady decided that her Subaru wagon was about to cost her big bucks so wanted to get something different. At the time different meant cheap and that meant we ended up with a very used 1992 Suzuki Swift. It was small, powerful and used no fuel. Perfect! Well not quite.

I'd checked it over when we bought it and all seemed fine but when I changed the oil it started to appear that all was not well. The oil that drained out had a milky sheen across the top of it, much like you see with a blown head gasket or as is more common with the G16 engine in the Swift, a cracked head. The car hadn't been had much recent use before we picked it up so I was hoping it was just a bit of moisture from sitting (even though this was summer with temps of 30 Celsius). I changed the coolant as well and that all looked fine.

The next day, new coolant started pouring out of the water pump. That got fixed, but over the next few days globs of white mayonnaise started accumulating under the oil filler cap and it was running hot. The engine was toast. It looked really bad, and after finding that this particular Swift was super rare and near impossible to find parts for I was sure it was going to scrap.

With nothing to lose I got hold of some K-Seal. The little bottle promised so much but delivered so little. I changed the oil in the sump and it quickly turned back into goop and the water level kept dropping. I was about to give up but a quick chat with a friendly local mechanic suggested I try a copper powder based stop leak like this.

With low expectations I followed the instructions and drove the car the next day or so. To my surprise the water level did not budge and after changing the oil again that stayed the colour and consistency of engine oil.

The car was fixed and kept going for another year or two until we sold it still working. It had even managed an 1100KM fully laden roadtrip from Christchurch to Auckland.

I wouldn't recommend any kind of stop leak in a car you plan on keeping but when the alternative is the scrapyard, chuck $10 at the problem and you could get lucky.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Filtering Fuel

The fuel filter on the Golf VR6 got changed today. The old one had been on the car for a year but only around 7000KMs. That doesn't seem like a long time but for the sake of a $13NZD filter it gives piece of mind that the car is running on nice clean 98 octane fuel and helps guard against needing to get the injectors reconditioned for $400NZD.

I was surprised at how dirty the old filter was and having seen the state of it especially glad to have swapped it out. I suppose fuel tanks have vents and big openings for filling that lead to the ingress of dirt and grime. Petrol being a solvent keeps the dirt from sticking to the tank and the fuel pump sucks it on through to the filter. This makes the filter pretty important to keeping the car working properly.

Amazingly Volkswagen state that the filter on the MK3 golf does not require changing and should last the lifetime of the vehicle. If you look at the state of the one I removed off the car last year after 15 years you would probably disagree.

Lots of black, nasty gunk. I'm sure that if I had dissected this filter you would have seen that dirt was making it all the way through to the 'clean' side.

It was interesting to see that the new genuine Volkswagen replacement part was made in China. That's the first time I have seen 'Made in China' on any VW packaging. I would have thought that they would have stuck to Mann & Hummel or one of the other German parts manufacturers.

Anyway, it's an easy job you can do yourself and here's the video: