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Discussion Starter #241
And just cuz he’s so darn cute, here’s a photo of my “Helper” for this project, Zack. His hands don’t even really fill up the palm space, but he just HAD to have every finger in the proper place in the glove.

(and of course, he wasn’t in there while I was actually painting, either.)


Time to start a new fashion trend?


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Love the wheels! Nice work!!!! :party:

1,751 Posts
Discussion Starter #243
the old girl is still hanging in there. :p :d she's definitely got her issues, but slowly taking care of them. Of course, the ones that are coming up will be bigger projects. Think she's going to need a new clutch in the next six months, year at most. :eek:hnoes:
One year and ten months later (give or take a few days), and it’s finally done… :lol:

The clutch that was in it went in at the end of 8/08, so basically 9 years before that post, and nearly 11 years ago now. Based on my past experience with clutches, I never expected it to last nearly that long (especially after seeing the shape it was in when it came out), and I’ve had a replacement sitting on the bookshelf for at least 9 years :lol:.

Anyway, as I said in 2017, I thought it would need replacing “soon”. Lately I’d been getting more hard shifts and not great pedal response… not what I experienced with ‘slipping’ on a different car, just a bit of difficulty getting going in 1st because of how high on the pedal the “go point” is. (I know there’s better terminology for all this :lol: ) So in March when I was at my dad’s house and we were replacing the valve cover gasket (and timing belt\water pump while we at it) if he thought we could do a clutch replacement in his driveway. He said probably, but we were going to be going to my brother’s house soon for my niece’s graduation, and he has a lift and all the fancy tools.

In the meantime, I started getting a bit of clunking when shifting and I was thinking this was a symptom of the clutch getting worse. Then about 2.5 weeks ago, shortly before I was supposed to go to my brother’s house, the clunking got abruptly and significantly worse, and I thought “oh goodness, I need this thing to last another week!”… so I figured I’d check the fluid, just in case. Went and got an extra pair of jack stands so I could jack it up levelly and all that.

In doing so, I discovered what the real cause of the significant clunking was. It turned out that the dogbone bushings had completely disintegrated and the transmission had about 4” of front to back movement range :rolleyes:.

Of course, this was over the weekend, so I asked my dad what he thought about me driving it like that back down to my sister’s house that I was supposed to be returning to the following day to finish my wheels… and where I could walk into BFI and buy a new set of bushings without waiting for shipping. He said it should be ok since it was mostly highway, and just to shift slowly and carefully. Then recalled that this mount was on the car because the one the shop put on the car when they replaced the subframe (because it came still attached to the subframe from the yard they got it at) was missing the black extension piece that is the second attachment point to the transmission. That was replaced at his house quite a ways back and he remembered that I kept the one we took off. I managed to find it stashed away in a parts drawer and put it on the next morning. I figured having 1 attachment again for a little while was better than swinging around all over the place. (I was going to swap the bushing over into the full mount but couldn’t get them apart with the tools available at hand and no way to hold it for extra leverage.) Since the car was already jacked up, I checked the transmission fluid anyways. Felt like it could be a tiny bit low though not significantly… but I topped it up, just in case.

Turns out, it seems that the mount disintegrating was the source of the original slight clunking as well.

Look ma, no bushing!


The only bit of it that remained…


And all the debris I scraped out of the subframe…


So, now I felt confident that the car would survive the trip to my brother’s house. ? Made it there and had a successful graduation party (including some minor celebration of my birthday. :lol: ) and got her in the garage Sunday evening for work on Monday morning. Ollie and I ended up starting Sunday night by taking the battery and air filter out. In the morning, we carried on doing everything that could be done from the top of the car (with Dad supervising\advising), and when my brother was available to help get her lifted in the air, he did a lot of the stuff to get the axles out and the rest of the transmission unbolted from below. He and Dad then lowered the transmission out.


Dirty, but it’s out! And the rear crankshaft seal wasn’t leaking, so that’s good. (Dad thought there was a chance it was when we ended up replacing the valve cover gasket. Think most of the mess that led to that thought was coming from the right axle seal that I was told was leaking when getting her state inspection the day before driving to NY.)


Replaced a bunch of the parts inside there, mostly as “while you’re in there” stuff. The fork, clip, pivot, sleeve, and of course, the throw-out bearing.


The old Clutch Disk. My brother was impressed with the condition of it wouldn’t have replaced it in this state. Frankly I was shocked at how much was left on it. Of course, we went ahead and replaced it anyways after doing all that work :lol:

06OldClutch.JPG 07OldClutch2.JPG

And the old Pressure Plate (which gathered a bunch of dirt before the photograph. It was way cleaner when it came out)


I thought I had a picture comparing the old and new flywheels, but apparently I don’t. It looks basically identical to the single mass one I got to put in it, and between that and the springs on the clutch disk, I think I may have been driving for the past 10+7/8 years with a Stage 1 clutch kit without knowing it. :lol: Want to look up the part numbers on the old parts, but haven’t gotten to that yet.

After swapping all those parts out, the transmission got put back in and bolted up. (Which was fun because my brother, being a trained Auto\Diesel\Windmill mechanic, tends to just toss bolts on the floor\cart\wherever as he takes them out, where we, being less used to dealing with all these parts, try to do it a bit more organized and with labeling things. Matching new bolts with old bolts and putting them in the right locations was more interesting than strictly necessary, but we got it.)

Before putting everything else back together, we had a few other parts we wanted to put in. I’d gotten a metal coolant flange and thermostat housing to put on, which turned out to be a good thing because the o-ring on the flange was starting to get a bit drippy again. (The last time it was replaced was just before the clutch. I was on the way to get the coolant flushed after changing the last flange when the differential tore a hole in the transmission.) Turns out, one of the hardest parts of the whole job was getting to the stupid lower bolt on the thermostat flange. :rolleyes:

Shiny new flange, Ollie putting a hose back on, and apparently my hair in the way of the camera. :D


Then Ollie and I carried on with putting the shifter back together and the battery and air filter back in. That was when we called it a day as other plans were made for the evening.

Tuesday came the installation of my other birthday present.. new struts, and putting the axles back on. Dad took the lead on moving the springs over from the old ones after Ollie and I got the old assemblies out. Guess he felt more comfortable with using the spring compressors. (Putting the knuckles on the bottom of the new struts turned out to be a tie for the worst part of the whole job.)


And here, we have the carnage left behind.. fodder for the Used Parts “Christmas” Tree.


Just for fun, Stella with the Barn-Shop that has the fancy lift and tools. Would be great to get one of those. :lol:


1,751 Posts
Discussion Starter #244
Realized I never posted about this in my thread when I was trying to find out what date it the spark plug wires were changed, so copying it here from a Facebook post comment.

April 5, 2018

Well, Stella had a busy 24 hours this weekend. Got her to my dad's house Friday around noon and we looked at how things were at after she cooled down a bit and settled on changing the valve cover gasket.

First we did actually do the Oil Cooler O-ring though because I had it and was going to change it when I did the oil change, just didn’t have a way to get the 27mm nut off the cooler. It wasn’t cracked or anything, though getting to be towards the dry and inflexible side.

Then we called around to see if we could actually even find a valve cover gasket locally. None of the dealers in town had any and couldn't get one from their warehouse before Monday/Tuesday, but recommended an independent place. They could have one from their warehouse in a couple hours, so we started tearing everything apart to get the valve cover off. Getting the intake manifold off is not the most fun thing in the world with those bolts on the back (not just the location.. I now have a deep loathing for 6mm hex style bolts. More on that later), but we got that and the valve cover off. (Dad says she has the camshaft of a much younger car, lol.) When everything was all cleaned up we still had a little bit of time before the gasket would be in so we changed the spark plugs and wires, since I actually happened to have ordered some from Blauparts because they were on clearance and they had an extra 15% off everything sale.

In addition to the plugs and wires I had gone ahead and ordered the Timing Belt/Water Pump kit because of the sale, and having figured out the one I had on there was coming up on 6 years old in a couple months when I thought I had a couple coolant drops under the car. So after we picked up the gasket, we were discussing what to do next.. and of course having the manifold, valve cover, and top timing belt cover off, half the stuff needed to change the timing belt and water pump are already exposed or more accessible than usual. I'm sure it was with an internal dramatic sigh, but dad agreed it would be a good idea to go ahead and do that job too. ?

Everything started out good. Got coolant drained, the engine mount off, accessory belt and tensioner off... and that's when the "fun" started.

Those dang 6mm hex bolts in the vibration dampener... Oh. My. God. Those things nearly had me in tears. ??? Getting them out seriously took longer than the entire rest of the work we did. Firstly, dad's actual 6mm hex bit socket was awol, so he was using cutoff sections of the handheld kind in a 6mm socket. After about 45 minutes fighting with that he sent me to the store to get a new set to have the actual socket one. By the time I got back about half an hour or so later, he had managed to get 2 of the bolts out. The other two though... they ate the handheld hex pieces for breakfast and rounded off the new socket bit like it was butter, multiple times after grinding down to an un-rounded part. When that was essentially toast, he took one of the bolts that had come out and tried to see if he could drill the head off. He did manage it (creating quite a quantity of smoke in the process ?) but it wasn't going to be easy. Apparently they are like Grade 8 bolts, or as I like to call them, The Hardest Bolts In The World.

While he was working on that, I put in the New-To-Stella LED tail lights, so I wasn't sitting around feeling useless at least.

Eventually he was able to get the heads off, and the dampener.. but there wasn't enough of the bolts sticking out to grab anything on to, which was going to mean more drilling ?. Before that, though, we continued on with the process for the belt and pump change since the sun was nearly down. With the crank now exposed we got the belt marked and it and the tensioner off. While I transferred the marks to the new belt, dad started drilling. And drilling. And drilling. And drilling. Finally gave up for the night some time around 10. Got 1 bolt drilled enough to try an extractor in but the other one wasn't near that point yet.

In the morning, found the extractor and the first bolt came out surprisingly easy. Like, ridiculously easy compared to what it was like trying to get it out with the head intact. Guess the back of the heads were seized onto the dampener, not the whole of the bolts. ? Kept drilling the other bolt until we exhausted the supply of drill bits. Unfortunately the depth-to-width still wasn't right for the extractor we had. So, similar to the 40 or so drill bits (may actually be Underestimating that number even) that were killed, the extractor gave up part of itself for the cause. Grinding the point off made it wider at shallower depth and FINALLY, all 4 bolts were out.

After that, changing the water pump, getting the new belt and tensioner back on, and reassembling everything (with anti-seize on the back of some certain bolt heads, which thank goodness has replacements in the kit) seemed like child's play. And then, I'm guessing some time around 10:30ish, we were finally back to where we were at 3:30 the previous afternoon. ?

Then it was a matter of putting in the new valve cover gasket, putting the intake manifold on, doing a shifter adjustment before putting other things back in, then reassembling everything connected to the manifold, and as the Vortex DIY says... "Pour coolant, cross your fingers and start the engine."

That last, heart pumping moment happened to actually come exactly at 12:00 noon, oddly enough ? (hadn't seen a clock since 8:37am). When I turned the key, as the engine started and the time came on the radio display, I had to laugh... Like it was a shootout at the O.K. Corral. (Apparently we were the victors, being that the engine didn't implode when I started it.. lol)

With assorted stops, I put 106 miles on getting back to my mom's house. Haven't seen any signs of oil or coolant drops on the ground so far ? but will of course be jacking her up again in the next couple days to see how things look on her belly.

So, Long Story Short (Too Late!):

Oil Cooler O-ring ✅
Valve Cover Gasket ✅
Upper Intake Manifold Gasket ✅
Spark Plugs ✅
Spark Plug Wires ✅
Water Pump ✅
Timing Belt ✅
Timing Belt Tensioner ✅
Accessory Belt ✅
Replacement bolts ✅
LED Taillights ✅
Shifter Adjustment ✅
Air Filter Cleaned ✅

For a grand total of $328, including the LiquiMoly MolyGen Oil Change and UV flashlight I did/got last week. (Plus dad's: 15$ hex socket bits, and decades worth of collected drill bits.) Oh... and +1 late lunch/early dinner Sushi meal. Lol

So huuuuuuuge (in a non-BillyFucillo-way) thanks to my dad for helping (well, ok.. for doing the majority of the wrench turning with me helping, fetching, and translating instructions), cuz I don't even want to imagine what that would've cost if I had to take it somewhere. And honorable mention to Al Stewart for lettung me borrow The Monster Book of Beetles (aka his Bentley Manual), too!

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14,749 Posts
I bet Stella feels great! ?

29 Posts
Early Mods

New Euro Emblem center caps, since 3 of 4 were missing the emblems when i got her. I saved the original ones and i might try something fun with them at a later time.
View attachment 51309

Front Euro Emblem and Eyelids
View attachment 51310

New Antenna, Antenna Star, Rear Euro Emblem, and Plate
View attachment 51313

This is what she has in the front plate spot, to go with the rear :)
View attachment 51314

First run at interior paint. I stole the paint color from the Aubegine Lotus Elise. I love the way the Batik reflects purple, so I decided to run with it :) My lighted Bud Vase ornament is there too, but there'll be more on that later. (pardon the mess. I'd just finished wiring up the bud vase bits and had wire and tools all over)
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(my picture was at night, theirs was in bright sun, so they look a bit differnt)

Closer view. Don't like this purple on the steering wheel spokes though... without the flash, it looks almost black like the rest of the wheel. I liked how my stereo had a purple color display to match (it had 7 colors to choose from), but sadly, that one was stolen.
View attachment 51312

This is the first stage of an experiment i tried when my purple paint started to bubble in the sun. Going for a starry galaxy sort of thing.. ended up doing some more to it, then getting rid of it later and repainting the whole console with better quality purple paint, i think. (and i hope! it's held up good so far but it isn't summer anymore) First purple version shown here is from Tower Paint, single stage. The blue is Sherwin Williams Automotive Paint (requires clear later, which is why it looks flatter than the purple. the purple i ended up getting later is the same kind)
View attachment 51315
the referbished progress of my ‘mini’ hubs.
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