Monday, November 28, 2011


Over the Thanksgiving weekend I fixed all the vacuum leaks, then drove it a few miles down the road for a car wash (total miles so far, five!), really an engine wash as there were decades of encrusted oil and dirt on the motor. It came out looking really good, and it drove well too. 

Jonathan and I then got the transmission out, replaced the friction disc (which was right at its wear limit, lucky us), and got it all back together again. Getting to the top starter bolt and top transmission bolt is sort of a Fiat rite of passage, although it's easier in a Brava than in a Spider. Our Mercedes bolt is doing a good job holding the rear mount together.

I then disassembled the rear suspension and replaced the shocks with the KYB GR-2 shocks I had mysteriously appear in my trunk. I am pretty sure I bought them right after the last race, but have completely forgotten from whom. Anyway, they're in. I noticed the driver's side trailing arms were pretty bent up.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rolling in my 2.0

I went back to Dallas Saturday, and Erroll and Kendra brought the trailer over with the car. The trailer is a little bent up from the wreck. I found a good-sized dent in the front crossmember under the radiator of the Fiat but that was it, other than the rear bumper which had both torn partially loose from the bumper mount, and yanked out the rear bumper shocks. 

We unchained everything and Collin climbed in, and it started instantly. He backed it off the trailer and we put it in Mom's garage and had a look. The AFM was gummy from aphids, of all things, but I cleaned it as best I could then squirted some DeOxit into it and that seemed to fix it.  I found the cover in the trunk, which helped. Erroll vacuumed up all the broken glass that is everywhere from the other car. We started the car and let it idle, and it did ok, just running a little hot, and the muffler joints seem to be broken again so it's fairly noisy.

Next day we went to Pep Boys to get a few small parts, RTV sealant and such, and to my utter astonishment they had a new upper radiator hose for a Brava.  This fixed the rigged hose with a kink that had been causing us some trouble with cooling.  We fixed a few other little things then I took it for a spin down the street and back. The clutch is in pretty bad shape, so that's going to have to be fixed. The brakes are still really bad but work OK if stomped.  I, however, know what they're like when hot, so something has to be done there.

Thanksgiving weekend is a big push, then after that we'll take it for cage work and to have the exhaust fixed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tow Rig Crash

Collin left for Dallas yesterday towing the Brava, and I snapped this pic of him leaving my house.

He encountered a sudden traffic stoppage on I-35 just north of Waco and some guy swerved into the shoulder ahead of him as he was trying to stop.  Collin is ok, and the other driver unhurt, but the Jeep is probably totaled as the front is smashed in rather badly.

The Fiat ripped off the rear bumper and crashed into the front of the trailer - damage is unknown but hopefully not fatal.

 Kendra rescued him and the car and took them on to Dallas, and my Jeep returned home on the back of a truck, very much the worse for wear. So at least the car is in Dallas, but we're short a tow vehicle now so things have become somewhat more complicated.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


So I drained the gas the other day, and got about 8-9 gallons out of it. Since the tank was full, and I think it's a 12 gallon tank, we had lost a fair amount to evaporation, but the gas was still usable and I put it in various cars. I got new gas, put some in the tank, hooked the lines back up and tried to start the car, but nothing happen. I ran the fuel pump manually to pressurize the fuel rail, and tried to start it again. One cylinder fired once, and that was it. This was the pattern - after waiting for a bit, I would try to start, and one cylinder would fire once and nothing else would happen.

I finally pulled off the air intake hose to the manifold and poured a little gas in from the spout of the can. I tried to start it again, and the engine caught and ran for a second or two. So now I knew everything was working, and there was a problem with fuel delivery. Somehow either the airflow meter was sending a bad signal, the computer was bad, the injectors weren't getting a signal, or - maybe they were just stuck closed, which is what I was hoping although it seemed unlikely they would all stick closed at once.  At any rate, it wasn't starting.

I left it alone for about a week, busy at work, and last night just randomly tried to start it again. Nothing happened, and I realized the emergency cutoff switch was being flaky. I wiggled it, the ignition came on, and I cranked the engine again. Two cylinders fired, and this time the engine stumbled and miraculously kept running, belching smoke and coughing on two cylinders while I did a delicate dance on the accelerator pedal. Then another one caught, and it smoothed out a little. It gained some revs as it warmed up, and then suddenly the last cylinder fired and it was running smoothly!

My excitement knew no bounds, in spite of the smoke beginning to pour from under the hood from a bad oil leak which had been caking on the manifold for two years.  The injectors had apparently been stuck closed, and the cold start injector probably as well.  The fresh gas sitting in the fuel rail must have dissolved some of the deposits - perhaps we'll run some injector cleaner through in our first tank of gas. The car sounded really good, missing occasionally, but it idled quite smoothly. We'll have to fix the various fluid and vacuum leaks, but we've taken a long step towards rectifying two years of neglect!