OUR CARS THE MYSTERY DEEPENS
Ever had that strange feeling of déjà vu? Chris Horton did when his 944 suddenly refused to start one evening last summer
ond though I am of my 944, there are times when it really does push its luck. Like the Tuesday evening in September after I had left it at my friend Chris’s place for the day, while I drove his 996 Carrera down to our big Our cars photo shoot at Castle Combe in Wiltshire. Arriving back at Chris’s in the early evening, I shared a quick beer with him, reluctantly handed over the keys to the 911 (a good 996 is just sooo good…), and jumped into Neckarsulm’s finest. And within a few seconds I knew I might as well have saved myself the detour and gone straight home in the Carrera. The 944’s engine turned over enthusiastically enough, but there was plainly no way it was actually going to fire. Slightly aggrieved, but not unduly concerned, I rummaged around in Chris’s garage for a spark-plug spanner and, sure enough, soon had the evidence I’d suspected. The plugs were literally dripping with neat, unburned fuel. So it wasn’t a problem with the frequently blamed DME relay, then. (That controls the high-pressure fuel pump as well as the ignition system.) But what else could it be?
924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World, and freelance motoring writer Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 911 Carrera 3.4 Tiptronic Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: 170,000km (944) Owned for: 7 years (944) Mods/options: High-efficiency air filter conversion (944) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: October 2006 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Another mysterious non-start for the 944, and some great-looking new wheels and tyres for the 996. Lots of good progress on the 924S, too (see main photo, above right), but more on that next time!
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
Plugs? Well, yes, I suppose they weren’t exactly brand-new, but then again they couldn’t have done more than around 6000 miles, either. ECU? Ignition system? Maybe, and certainly there didn’t seem to be much sign of a spark when we cranked the engine to check. But having been in this situation at least once before – and having then seen the problem miraculously ‘cure’ itself – I wasn’t convinced about that, either. In the end we resorted to brute force and a degree of ignorance. After taking out the DME relay to disable the fuel pump, and spinning the engine for a few seconds to clear the accumulated fuel out of the cylinders, I simply refitted all four now dry plugs and, with the accelerator held to the floor to admit as much air as possible to the combustion chambers, gritted my teeth and went for a long, do-or-die burst on the starter. Slowly, gradually, painfully, the engine began to give those tantalising little signs that there just might be some sort of exothermic reaction going on inside the cylinders. Finally it reluctantly coughed into life and belched a huge black cloud of part-burned fuel out of the tailpipe. And I’m still none the wiser about what caused – or more likely causes – this sporadic problem. Since then all has been well – apart from when the air-flow sensor got drowned in one of those torrential downpours we had in October, and the engine would run only at idle. But you probably won’t be too
It’s 10am on Monday, 24th July, and already the temperature’s up to around 35 degrees. But within an hour or two the 924S engine was back in the car (what was that about mad dogs and Englishmen?), and since then progress has been steady. More on this project next time!
surprised to hear that I now carry a plug spanner with me as a matter of routine, as well as a spare DME relay. With luck that means I shall never have to use either of them. That apart, life with the old girl carries on pretty much as normal. The many oil leaks from the engine continue unabated, and I’ve noticed a tendency for at least two of the hydraulic valve lifters to rattle for a minute or two after a cold start. But it still goes like a train, and I still love driving it. Besides, engine apart, it’s been making steady progress in the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) stakes. The new gear-shift gaiter that made such a difference you
already know about (see my report in the October 2006 issue), and not long after having that fitted I bought a pair of brand-new tailgate latches to match the new pins I fitted earlier in the year, and which between them have finally eradicated the creaking from the rear end of the car on rough roads. I thought I’d got rid of this hugely annoying problem with the help of those pins alone, but it was soon back, and with the added irritation that no matter how carefully I adjusted the pins I couldn’t open the tailgate using the switch down in the driver’s footwell. Indeed, there were times when I could barely open the tailgate, period.
New lock pins on the 944’s tailgate hadn’t made much of a difference: the glass still creaked and wouldn’t open properly, either with the key or the internal switch. And this shot (left) explains why. Both of the white plastic arms should be pointing up at about 45 degrees, but the mechanism inside each has worn badly, and now there’s just too much lost movement for the latches actually to release the conical pins projecting down into them from above. The only answer was a pair of new locks for about £60. Horton also fitted new seals (right), and still has the main tailgate rubber to install
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
MID-LIFE MAKEOVER The 19-inch Miro wheels recently fitted to our 996 have genuinely transformed its looks. In truth they’re something of an optical illusion – despite those peripheral bolts they’re single-piece items – but at around £1400 including VAT for a set of four they’re a lot cheaper than genuine split-rim wheels. They’re very obviously top-quality jobs, too: beautifully finished in every detail, and requiring only minimal balancing. More details from importer Sol-Ace on 01895 639600, 01753 783715, or else at www.sol-ace.co.uk. As for those amazingly quiet Pirelli P Zero tyres, reckon on around £1100 including VAT for a set to match these wheels, maybe a bit less if you shop around on-line. More information at www.pirelli.com.
ages, I think, and which should have the added benefit of allowing me to compensate for the now rather low-riding rear end. The 996, meanwhile, continues to provide the sort of fun, fast and remarkably comfortable longdistance transport that makes every journey a pleasure, a real occasion. Several times during the summer I persuaded Chris to let me use it rather than the 944 (if only to take advantage of its regassed air-conditioning), and Autofarm’s Silsleeve engine, today with just
It sounds fantastic, too, and my already considerable respect for the often maligned 996 as a breed is growing by the mile
over 10,000 miles under its belt, has bedded in and loosened up very nicely, indeed. Most agreeable… Such is the enthusiasm for the Tiptronic transmission to get itself into fifth gear as quickly as possible that it’s easy to convince yourself the car’s performance isn’t that special, but take the trouble to shift manually – or to push the throttle that little bit harder – and you soon have an enormous grin on your face. Well, I do, anyway. It sounds fantastic, too, and my already considerable respect for
The parts came from the Porscheshop – £108 including VAT for the latches and their rubber water seals – and they kindly threw in £30 worth of new perimeter seal for the tailgate, too. I haven’t got round to fitting that yet (even though the old one is squashed flat in several places), but I’m assured it will banish any trace of the exhaust fumes that still seem to find their way into the cabin whenever I drive with the window or the sunroof open. I’ll let you know, anyway. The car has even undergone something of a front-suspension overhaul. I used it as the ‘guinea pig’ for a major how-to feature coming to a Porsche magazine near you very soon, and the pair of new lower ball-joints integral to that story has made a big difference to the overall feel of the thing. It’s amazing how you fail to notice as components like this deteriorate. Trouble is, we found during the course of doing the job (another collaborative effort with the Porscheshop) that the two front dampers are leaking, and one of them is allowing a lot of lateral movement in the suspension, so they’ll have to be changed soon, too. Time to fit the new Leda coilspring-and-damper kit I’ve had stashed away in the garage for
the often maligned 996 as a breed is growing by the mile. Mind you, there’s a fair bit more work on the horizon. Even as I write this the car’s back at Autofarm for its first routine oil change after the engine swop, and the pre-MoT inspection they carried out at the same time showed a number of areas needing attention. The rear brake discs were worn down to their limit, so they’ll be renewed (together with the pads, which had worn sufficiently to activate the dashboard warning light), and it seems that a couple of rearsuspension bushes (and thus the arms to which they’re permanently attached) are past their best. But they’re almost certainly the source of the annoying clonks that seem to have started emanating from the rear end. More next time. The big news, though, is what might be termed the car’s new shoes. A few months ago I was introduced to Steff Fraser, the
proprietor of a company called Sol-Ace based in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. Steff’s main business is fitting top-quality window tints, parking sensors and anti-theft tracking systems, mainly for a number of new-car dealers in the region, but he has recently diversified into light-alloy wheels, and naturally wanted to spread the word as quickly and effectively as possible. So where better than 911 & Porsche World? And would we like to fit a set of his new Miro rims to the 996? Er, yes, of course!
Actually, both Chris Moyses, the car’s owner, and I had very slight reservations. Steff was proposing we should fit 19-inch rims front and rear, in place of the car’s 18-inch wheels. On a purely practical level this meant we would clearly need to find four new tyres, too, but we were also concerned that this combination, while stylish, might be a little too extreme for comfort. We needn’t have worried. With just about perfect timing, Pirelli had recently launched a new range of its already widely acclaimed P Zero Rosso tyres, and was equally keen for us to try a set of those, too. Rims and rubber were duly united and then fitted to the car in late August, and a few days later many of you saw – and commented favourably on – the eyecatching result on our stand at the Porsche Club GB’s event at Eynsham Hall. And within just a few seconds of driving the newly booted 996 I knew it was going to be a very satisfactory relationship. The P Zeros – 235/35ZR19 at the front, 295/30ZR19 at the back – are as astonishingly quiet as the company claims, and comfortable, too. The only minor problem is that the rear wheels – and thus the tyres – are just a little too wide. The sidewalls of the rear tyres are fractionally proud of the wheelarches – which looks fine from most angles, just a little odd from others – and on full bounce occasionally ‘kiss’ the inside edges of the arches. Steff has offered to roll the metal back with the special machine he has imported to do just that, but Chris and I prefer to keep the car as standard as possible, and are happy – for the moment, anyway – to live with it. 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS MISSION CREEP
They say that one thing usually leads to another. And that has certainly become the case with Chris Horton’s 924S rebuild
hank goodness for MasterCard, that’s all I can say. It grieves me to have to admit it, but I’m sure that without the help of my flexible friend my long-running 924S project would still be even further from completion than it is. It’s entirely my own fault, mind. Almost exactly a year ago, you might recall, I was planning to get the replacement engine back in as quickly as possible, and the car moved on. Trouble was, the more I investigated other areas that appeared at first to need only minor attention, so the more various other components – and in many cases not even remotely connected with the engine – seemed to warrant replacing, too. And I’m afraid it’s just not in my nature to do only half a job. Take the front suspension. Ordinarily you wouldn’t disturb this during the course of an engine swop, but in the 924S (and both the 944 and 968, too) that means dropping the entire front crossmember, and it became painfully obvious that I really couldn’t put it back as it was. It would all have worked well enough,
924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World, and freelance motoring writer Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 911 Carrera 3.4 Tiptronic Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: 171,000km (944) Owned for: 7 years (944) Mods/options: High-efficiency air filter conversion (944) Contact: email@example.com Last report: February 2007 issue THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Getting to grips with the 924S’s front suspension (and wishing I hadn’t bothered), and coming up with (I think so, anyway!) a neat and effective way of centralising the clutch friction plate
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
no doubt, but the struts were in an appalling condition, at least cosmetically, and I was sure that by this stage the brake calipers could probably do with new seals, too. To be fair, the individual bits and pieces that I knew I would need all seemed beguilingly inexpensive. Roughly £13 a corner for the caliper seals (no surprise that I decided I might as well do the rears, too), and even complete brand-new struts – genuine Porsche parts, no less – were only around £80 apiece. (Most of the stuff came from the Porscheshop in Halesowen, as usual at a modest discount, but those are the full retail figures, so we’re not talking big money here.) But then I discovered that I would need £16 worth of new speedometer cable (the old one didn’t survive being ‘persuaded’ out of the left-hand stub axle, and even now I still haven’t managed to track down a new rubber seal for where it emerges from the forging), one new track-rod end (£19), flexible brake hoses (another £15 a corner), and perhaps most alarmingly a set of anti-roll bar rubbers and the cast-aluminium brackets by which said bars are attached to the pressed-steel front suspension arms. I say ‘alarmingly’ primarily because both of the old brackets were on the verge of crumbling away to dust (see above), but also because they alone would eventually cost nearly £20 each. (Plus a few more quid for the rubbers.) It all starts to add up. That was as nothing, though, compared to the herculean
Major-league corrosion (top) should probably have alerted Horton to the likely difficulty of dismantling front suspension, but then hope springs eternal... Even the aluminium anti-roll-bar brackets (above) were on the verge of disintegrating
struggle I had to get everything apart. OK, so the brake calipers were a doddle once I had soaked them in penetrating oil (you have to slide the quite tightly fitting cylinder off each caliper’s main frame; they were all stuck fast, needless to say, which in itself easily justified my decision to overhaul them), but separating the old struts from the stub axles proved to be the stuff of automotive nightmares. It soon became apparent that even my hefty half-inch-drive socket set would be useless at undoing the two 19mm nuts and bolts at the base of each strut body. Take a look at the picture at
the top of this page and you’ll see why: in fact, I would have needed more like a 17.5mm socket. OK, no problem: just get out the anglegrinder and cut them off, then. And I wouldn’t even have to buy new bolts. They’re just the same as on a Mark 1 Golf, and I knew I had a set for one of those in the shed. Except that having done that it quickly became equally obvious to me that the problem wasn’t so much that the nuts had rusted on the bolts, but rather that the four bolts themselves were well and truly rusted into their holes in the stub axles. So not only did I have to grind the nuts off the bolts in order to remove the struts, but then also to
It was all very well grinding off the ends of the two bolts securing the bottom of each suspension strut to the relevant stub axle (above), but that still left the problem of extracting the remains of said bolts. Horton tried all the usual tricks – heat, hitting them with a drift and a large hammer – but they wouldn’t budge a single millimetre. Even drilling through them failed miserably. In the end the only solution was a big hydraulically operated press, but even that had to be cranked up to maximum power before the drilled ‘plug’ (above, right) finally let go with an explosive bang
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
SOME YOU LOSE, SOME YOU WIN... It’s funny how the jobs you’re dreading sometimes prove to be surprisingly easy. (Which makes up, I guess, for some of the ones you think will be a piece of cake proving to be anything but.) Among the many bits and pieces I eventually bought for the 924S engine was a complete set of rubber hoses for the crankcase breather system – the condition of this one ought to explain why. For some time I tried to persuade myself that I’d be able to install them without going to the trouble of removing the inlet manifold (and that’s certainly how I got the old ones off), but it took only a few minutes’ struggling for me to realise that I was wasting my time – and even I didn’t begrudge the couple of pounds that a set of four new gaskets cost.
Even when the struts had been forcibly separated from the stub-axle forgings (top) there remained plenty of hard graft ahead. Socket spanner temporarily fitted in clutch slave cylinder (above) was a masterpiece (see text, right)
All this aside, refitting the engine was more straightforward than I had anticipated. The only real setback, as so often happens in these situations, was persuading the splined front end of the primary drive shaft to pass smoothly through the matching splines in the clutch friction plate. Needless to say I had taken great care to centre the plate before bolting on the clutch cover (or so I thought, anyway), but obviously it wasn’t quite right. And not quite right was clearly nowhere near good enough.
I had taken great care to centre the plate before bolting on the cover, but it wasn’t quite right. And not quite right was nowhere near good enough
By this stage, of course, I had the complete power unit dangling rather precariously from my borrowed crane inside the engine compartment, and while it certainly wouldn’t have been impossible to wriggle it back out again, and then to recheck the alignment of the friction plate, quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered. It was hot, I badly needed an ice-cold beer, and besides, who’s to say it would have been any better the second or even the third time that I tried it? And then I had what I can only
grind their blasted heads off, too. In truth, it was more like someone had friction-welded the bolts in place. Eventually two of the ground-off stubs came out with the aid of a gas blowtorch, a drift and a very large hammer (and all this on one of the hottest days of the summer), but the other two resisted any equipment I had at my disposal. I even tried drilling them out, and even without a pillar drill managed to get quite an accurate hole right through one of them, but still they wouldn’t budge. Naturally I didn’t want to risk damaging the forgings, so in the end I admitted defeat and later persuaded the long-suffering Neil Bainbridge up at BS Motorsport in Westcott, Buckinghamshire (01296 658422) to unleash his race-proven engineering talents on them. Actually, even Neil, I’m almost pleased to say, had a bit of a struggle with the bolts. He most certainly had the last laugh, though, because when the first one finally relinquished its grip and let go – with his big hydraulic press, like one of Spinal Tap’s amplifiers, wound up to about 11 – the noise was a bit like a shotgun blast. It startled the living c**p out of me, basically. But thanks anyway, Neil. I couldn’t have done it without you!
describe (rather immodestly) as a moment of pure genius. If I could somehow release the pressure on the centre plate while simultaneously passing the drive shaft through it then, all things being equal, it ought to move sufficiently in the required direction – and we’re not talking about very much radial movement here – to facilitate the process. OK, but how? Ideally I’d have someone sitting in the car and pressing the clutch pedal, but since I was working on my own, and not least since the hydraulic pipework wasn’t even connected, that was a non-starter. What I did have, though, was a brand-new clutch slave cylinder (another £50 off my budget...), bolted to its normal mounting point on the left-hand lower part of the bellhousing. Maybe I could temporarily take the guts out of that (unfortunately I had already discarded the old cylinder), stick a suitably sized
socket in the end of it, and then bolt it back into position so that the socket was bearing against the end of the clutch actuating arm. It was well worth a try, anyway. And it worked, too. It took me a little while to select exactly the right socket – it had to be both the right diameter to sit neatly in the end of the cylinder, and deep enough to press against the actuating arm without also overstressing it – but eventually I found one that seemed to do the trick. (Luckily you can see into the
bellhousing through the adjacent hole that’s provided to allow the thickness of the friction plate to be checked.) Back up top again, as it were, I gave the engine crane a gentle push, and to my amazement and relief the bellhousing slid back against the end of the torque tube with one of the most satisfying clunks I’ve heard in a long time. I love it when a plan comes together. Since that frenetic burst of activity last summer progress has inevitably slowed again. I had a couple of good days on the car during the autumn, refitting the exhaust system (with £120 worth of rather nice stainless-steel Dansk rear box from Euro Car Parts), and bolting all the front suspension back together (most enjoyable, with all those new bits), but then a couple of equally frustrating sessions making and then fitting new rigid brake lines. The old ones were a mix of the original parts and some lengths of copper-alloy that a previous owner had installed, but by this stage in the game there was no way I could ignore them. The job was no great problem up front (although it would, of course, have been so much easier before I refitted the engine; you live and learn...) but at the rear I soon ran up against the fact that the pipes run between the torsion-bar housing and the underside of the body. I managed to get them all in again, and routed more or less to my satisfaction, but it was a long and tedious process – and even now I’m still going to have to do something pretty creative with the rotting fuel pipes, which yet again run behind that bloody torsion-bar tube. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it? More news next time! 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS THE VITAL SPARK
Chris Horton’s long-dormant 924S engine is running at last. But an annoying oil leak soon took the shine off the occasion
couldn’t help but smile at the inescapable irony of the situation. A few months ago, you might recall, I described in these pages how my 944 had suddenly reverted to its old habits, the engine occasionally deigning to start only when it felt like it. And now here I was, having intended merely to see whether my newly installed 924S engine was capable of generating a spark at the plugs, but instead standing next to the car’s open driver’s door with my hand on the ignition key, and with the motor finally rotating under its own steam. Maybe I should have had just a little more confidence in my own abilities, but I have to say that I felt a bit like Frank Whittle must have done when he finally got his first experimental jet engine running way back in the 1940s. In truth, it wasn’t quite one of those classic first-turn-of-the-key jobs. That, a week or so earlier, had proved several things, definitely – but not that the engine was a runner. It had shown that the camshaft belt was almost certainly correctly installed. (Although I had already double- and even triplechecked the various timing marks, and then turned the crankshaft
924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World, and freelance motoring writer Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 911 Carrera 3.4 Tiptronic Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: 172,000km (944) Owned for: 7 years (944) Mods/options: High-efficiency air filter conversion (944) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: March 2007 issue THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Nothing to report on either the 944 or the 996, but almost by accident the 924S engine finally coughs into life – only to begin leaking first fuel and then oil in roughly equal quantities. Great...
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
very slowly by hand with the spark plugs removed, to make sure the valves weren’t touching the pistons.) It proved that all four cylinders had plenty of compression. (Evidenced by the steady cranking speed.) It even suggested that I had fitted the oil-pressure relief valve correctly. (Get that wrong, I had been warned, and there’s a chance the oil filter could literally explode under the excess pressure.) But, like I say, certainly not that the engine was a runner. In fact, it seemed just about as dead as the proverbial dodo; showing not a single, solitary sign of life. It hadn’t just ceased to be, as John Cleese might have put it; it never was. At that stage, though, I wasn’t unduly concerned – it was three years since the car had been driven; I didn’t even know if there was enough petrol still in the tank – but I knew that eventually I would have to establish why there was apparently no spark at the plugs. And no less crucially, of course, why said spark plugs were bonedry, and showing no sign of having been moistened with even the merest hint of fuel. (Subsequently checking the fuel gauge suggested the tank was probably about half full, and then removing the filler cap that despite two very hot summers the fuel inside still smelled OK, and hadn’t – as petrol can quite easily do – ‘gone off’.) My first port of call was the DME relay, which in the 924S is tucked way up under the left-hand end of the fascia – and which thanks to the leech-like grip of the half-dozen or so contact pins can often feel like it’s been welded in place. But even with a brand-new relay that I knew to be serviceable there was no change in the situation, so I knew I’d have to look somewhere else. The ECU, then? Maybe. But I had been scrupulously careful with this always easily damaged item, disconnecting its multi-pin plug early on in the process of removing the car’s original engine (and at one point I had temporarily fitted the unit to the 944, when that car was going through one of its more uncooperative phases). Even given my usual luck in these matters it
Leaking petrol evaporated by the time top photo was taken, but removing fuel rail and injector quickly showed cause of the problem. New ‘O’-ring did the job
was unlikely to have spontaneously lobotomised itself while simply standing idle for a few months. In which case it was almost bound to be the so-called speed and reference sensors (also known as Hall sensors; see opposite) that were causing the lack of sparks and fuel. These two seemingly insignificant but actually vital little devices are mounted on the bellhousing, pointing directly at the flywheel, and are designed essentially to monitor both its rotational speed (and thus, of course, the engine rpm) and its position relative to top dead centre (and from which information the ECU triggers the ignition system at precisely the right moment to generate the required spark at each of the four plugs). Way back in 2001 it was the sudden and total failure of one of these two items that had resulted in the 944 being brought home from Liverpool on an AA recovery truck, so I knew how important they both are. On that particular occasion the solution was simply to take the old sensors out and fit new ones. (Not that there was anything remotely straightforward about the task; both were seized solid in their aluminium mounting bracket, and were so comprehensively destroyed by the removal process that I never did find out which of
them had packed up.) Here, though, I was pretty certain that they were simply connected incorrectly. To be honest, I had made only a rather half-hearted attempt to identify and mark them when I first removed the engine, and had then er, well, lost the scrap of paper on which I’d noted which was which – so there was naturally a 50 per cent chance they were back to front, as it were. And so, as you’ve doubtless guessed by now, it proved. I transposed the two connections on the bracket up by the bulkhead, tentatively turned the key once more, and within a second or two could not only smell the highpressure fuel that was now being pumped to the injectors (the ECU, which controls the pump via the DME relay, relies on signals from the Hall sensors for this function, too), but could also hear those characteristic little coughs, and subtle variations in the cranking speed, that between them tell you that ignition isn’t too far away. A few seconds after that the engine was genuinely firing – actually running! – and I was grinning like the Cheshire cat, at the same time trying to look as if this was what I expected to happen all along. The engine sounded truly appalling, of course. All eight of the normally oil-filled hydraulic cam
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
primarily so that I could do one last check on the tension of the two belts after the engine had run for a few minutes.) Bugger, I thought. Just when everything was going so well. And that, frustratingly, is where I am at the moment. A few days later it was snowing hard, and by the time that had melted I was deep into 911 & Porsche World stories once more, and I’ve just not had the time or the inclination to get out there and investigate. I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is, though. Having gone over and over in my mind what I did when I refitted all the hardware at
the front of the engine, I’ve come to the unavoidable conclusion that I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of installing the waferthin, translucent plastic seal behind the ‘top hat’ that fits over the front of the camshaft. Muppet… I certainly hope it’s nothing more serious than that, and I’ll obviously first have to time up the engine again and then remove both the balance-shaft and camshaft belts in order to find out for sure, but all things considered it could have been quite a lot worse. Rome – and clearly my Porsche 924S – wasn’t built in a day.
So near – and yet so far
Removing threaded plug (top) proved that oil was reaching the heavily loaded camshaft lobes. Easy enough to transpose the Hall-sensor connectors (above)
followers had drained while the power unit lay dormant, and would probably take at least five minutes to refill and then pump up to the correct dimensions. (They can take up to an hour, I had been warned. You just have to grit your teeth and try to ignore the ghastly noise. As long as there’s sufficient oil getting to the followers – and to the heavily loaded camshaft lobes – it’s OK to keep the engine running.) But the oil-pressure gauge shot up toward the top end of the scale, there were no obvious knocks from the bottom end, and better still the oil filter hadn’t immediately headed skyward. I must have got the relief valve right, then. At that particular moment, though, I had no intention of keeping the engine running for more than a few seconds; I hadn’t even intended actually to run it. There was no coolant in it, for a start (I didn’t want to go through the long and tedious process of filling the radiator and the cylinder block until I was reasonably sure everything else was OK), and it had always been my plan to remove a couple of the threaded plugs in the camshaft housing and check that, whatever the oil-pressure gauge might have been telling me, this crucial area really was being pumped full of life-sustaining oil. I didn’t want to run the risk of
destroying the camshaft or its bearings for want of a simple precaution such as this. In the event there was a much more pressing reason for switching off immediately. I quickly realised that the previously encouraging smell of fuel had grown ever stronger, and fortunately within a second or two I spotted a major leak from the main fuel rail above the injector for cylinder number four. With the engine hastily switched off – and having carefully disconnected the battery as an added precaution – I unbolted the rail and gingerly lifted it away from the cylinder head, and soon it was obvious that the rubber ‘O’-ring sealing the injector against the underside of the rail had a piece missing from it, probably the result of the rubber snagging on the metal when I had earlier refitted the assembly to the car. That was solved easily enough – I had some spare ‘O’-rings in stock – and soon I had restarted the engine for another 10- or perhaps 20second burst. No fuel leaks, I noted with satisfaction, and plenty of oil in the camshaft housing, but then I realised – with no less dismay than when I’d first spotted the fuel leak – that engine oil appeared to be seeping down behind the camshaft drive-belt. (I hadn’t yet fitted the front half of the plastic cover,
The Hall effect – discovered by the American physicist, Edwin Hall, in 1879 – is in scientific terms the potential difference on opposite sides of a thin sheet of conducting or semi-conducting material through which an electric current is flowing, created by a magnetic field which is applied perpendicular to that conducting or semi-conducting material. A modern Hall-effect sensor such as the two Bosch units in the 924S is basically a transducer (itself defined as a device that transforms one type of energy into another) that varies its output voltage in response to changes in magnetic-field density. In the Porsche (and many other cars fitted with similar units to ‘drive’ their ECUs) the so-called speed sensor registers the passing of the adjacent flywheel not by means of embedded magnets, as such, but by the continuous switching effect of the teeth (and the gaps between them) on the starter motor’s ring gear. The reference sensor no less tirelessly counts the passing of a single small screw projecting from the circumference of the flywheel. The correct operation of any Hall sensor is dependent on its accurate positioning relative to the magnet, or in this case to the ferrous material passing close enough to the sensor to vary the magnetic field it experiences. In the Porsche, where both devices are mounted on the same adjustable aluminium bracket, this is achieved by setting the end of the speed sensor (which, although the two devices share the same part number, is nominally identified by the letters ‘DG’) exactly 0.8mm from the teeth of the starter-motor ring gear. All things being equal this should by default place the reference sensor (identified by the letters ‘BG’) in the correct position relative to the special screw. But how to do that? Simple. Well, sort of. Assuming the engine is out of the car (and separated from the bellhousing), bolt the speed sensor to the mounting bracket (the rearmost of the two holes), loosen the screws securing the bracket to the cylinder block, and then adjust the angle of the bracket so that a 0.8mm feeler blade will slide between the end of the sensor and the top of the adjacent ring-gear teeth. Tighten the fixing screws, check the clearance again, and that’s that. The procedure’s a little more complicated with the engine in the car, but by no means as difficult as it might look. With no way of either reaching or even seeing the gap between the end of the speed sensor and the ring gear, essentially you need a sensor temporarily 0.8mm longer than standard. This can be obtained either by glueing a 0.8mm washer to the end of an old, defective sensor (measure the thickness of the washer with a micrometer) or, if you’re careful, and have a glue that can be removed easily, to the end of the sensor you plan to use. Once again loosen the screws securing the bracket, push the sensor carefully into the relevant hole (you don’t want to dislodge the washer, and later have it flying around inside the clutch housing), fit and tighten the sensor’s own fixing screw, and then gently rotate the bracket until you feel the sensor touch the flywheel. Tighten the two bracket screws, remove the speed sensor and carefully prise off the washer, and then refit the now standard-length sensor which, all being well, should have a precisely 0.8mm gap between its business end and the ring gear.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS Old pistons from original 924S engine might look like so much scrap, but Horton rarely throws anything away...
SECOND TIME LUCKY?
The 924S’s annoying oil leak proves to have an embarrassingly simple solution
re you becoming more forgetful as you get older? I seem to be... Last time I described the rather distressing oil leak from the front end of the newly installed engine in my 924S. I suggested, by way of a possible explanation, that I had no recollection of fitting the thin, translucent plastic washer that sits behind the so-called ‘top hat’ on the end of the camshaft. I was dead right, too. I had, indeed, omitted this insignificant but clearly vital component. Trouble was – as I realised with some embarrassment the moment I removed the camshaft sprocket – I had also forgotten to fit the main rotary shaft seal that fits around the aforementioned top hat. No wonder there was an oil leak. Unfortunately, however, I have yet more to confess. In the course of doing the above job I had to take off both the balance-shaft and the camshaft drive-belts. To remove the camshaft belt you have to
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
remove the driving sprocket for the balance-shaft belt from the nose of the crankshaft. To do that you have to undo the big 24mm-head bolt passing through it. And to do that you first have to lock the crankshaft by taking off the starter motor, and then use the latter’s mounting holes to attach a special toothed bar across the teeth on the ring gear. (The crankshaft bolt is torqued up to a hefty 210Nm.) So far, so straightforward. (And it would be difficult to do the job any other way. That bolt takes some effort to shift, believe me.) Unfortunately, though, when I came to screw everything back together I contrived to leave off its terminal post on the starter motor the main lead from the alternator, with the result that, while the engine started perfectly normally, suddenly the car’s charging system appeared to have packed up. I fiddled around with all sorts of what I optimistically kidded myself would be instant solutions to the
problem, including fitting several different voltage regulators into the back of the generator to see if the original had inexplicably expired. I even went as far as buying a second-hand alternator from Lancashire-based dismantler Porsch-Apart (great service, as ever; many thanks, Simon!), but when that, too, failed to crank out any volts I did what I should have done in the first place and began to think laterally. And then, of course, I found it – that detached lead, that is – almost immediately. But every cloud has a silver lining. Removing and refitting the drive-belts gave me another chance to get the tension just right – they had been a little too tight the first time, I think – and also to double-check the timing itself. I’d never had any doubts about the valve timing (the engine wouldn’t have run if it was that far out), but when I first started the motor it seemed to be just a little less smooth than it ought to be, and knowing how easy it is to get the balance shafts out of synch I wondered if I’d got it very slightly wrong. In the event I hadn’t, but it was worth checking. And there’s no doubt that the Porsch-Apart
alternator, despite its unknown history, is in far better condition than the one I took off, which I now realise had rather noisy bearings. With the engine running reliably at last, I turned my attention to the few remaining jobs to be tackled before the car could truly be said to be finished. Fitting a new radiator (£130 or so from Euro Car Parts) to cure the slow but persistent coolant leaks from the old one, which had started to rot away along its bottom edge (see photo below). Rebuilding the front and rear brake calipers (not because they were leaking, but primarily because they appeared – not unreasonably in the circumstances – to have seized up through lack of use). Fitting new flexible brake hoses and rigid metal pipes (the latter in easy-to-work copper instead of the almost-impossibleto-bend steel stuff Porsche says one should use). It would obviously have been rather more sensible to have done that particular job while the engine was out – two of the pipes run from the master cylinder down the front end of the transmission tunnel, above the torque tube – but that would have made life far too easy… And not least fitting a new speedometer cable. The old one didn’t survive being extracted from the left-hand front stub axle when I was removing the front crossmember to take the old engine out – it runs through the middle of the forging to engage in a hole in the outer bearing’s dust cap. But the replacement came without the small rubber seal to stop water getting into the back of the stub axle, and since the old seal was little more than dust held together by grease that could turn out to be a minor problem. So far I’ve used some general-purpose flexible sealant, but I’m not sure how effective that will be in the longer term. I’ve scoured the Porsche parts catalogues looking
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
revs it a little higher than I would prefer – it pulls like a train. I keep meaning to check the fuel consumption in a reasonably scientific manner, but a recent longish trip to the south coast in moderately heavy traffic – which meant I wasn’t going that quickly – seemed to use hardly any petrol, certainly if the gauge is to be believed. Most satisfying. That’s not to suggest that the
for what I need, but they don’t seem to list anything at all – unless you know different, perhaps? Meanwhile I finally got round to stripping down the remains of the car’s original engine in an attempt to find out why it had always been so reluctant to start. The results were inconclusive, not least because everything had been sitting around outside in the rain for months, and the water that had
Trouble was, I had also forgotten to fit the main rotary shaft seal. No wonder there was a leak...
collected in the bores had partially seized the piston rings in their grooves (nothing that a large ring spanner on the big sprocket bolt couldn’t overcome…), but the pistons themselves seem to have escaped unharmed, and I suspect that it was just worn rings that caused the problems. Either way, I shall be keeping the pistons: they look fine to me, and you never know when they might be useful. The rest of the motor was in remarkably good condition, too, with no sign of bottom-end wear. (And I might even use some of those bits at some time, too…) It bodes well for the longevity of the second-hand Porsch-Apart engine I fitted in its place, which – now that I’ve had it running for quite a long period – sounds great. The oil pressure’s good, even when it’s hot (about 2.0 bar at idle), it responds quickly to the throttle (which is more than could be said of the old unit), and best of all you don’t need to trick it into starting from cold by bridging the plug to the coolanttemperature sensor with a paperclip. I can’t wait to drive it! The 996, meanwhile, continues to prove – I think – how quietly competent these new-generation Porsches really are. Its Silsleeve engine now has around 12,000 entirely trouble-free miles under its belt, and although like many of these earlier M96 motors it always sounds just a little harsh when you first fire it up from stone-cold – for some reason the ECU immediately
last few months have been entirely without frustrations. That same drive to the coast, before the glorious spring deteriorated into one of the worst summers any of us can remember, showed that barely a year since last being fully recharged the air-conditioning system appeared to have stopped working again. Certainly there wasn’t much in the way of cold – or even cool – air coming out of the vents, and the characteristic grinding noise, which I’m told is typical of the compressor running without refrigerant in it, had clearly returned. Needless to say, neither Chris Moyses nor I was impressed. My first call, naturally enough, was to the firm near Aylesbury that had regassed the system last year (see my report on pages 112–113 in the September 2006 issue), but apparently its air-conditioning man has since left, and they weren’t really up for the job. (Not that I’m blaming them; it could hardly be their fault that the system had subsequently sprung a leak.) No matter, though, because then I realised that another local company, Oxford Car Care (01844 279254), was advertising itself as an air-con specialist. And they were even nearer. They duly hooked the car up to their special machine, the plan being to extract the remnants of the old refrigerant and then to put in some new stuff containing a dye that supposedly shows up under ultra-violet light. And guess what? Not only was
there not the slightest trace of refrigerant in the system to start with, but we couldn’t then see any sign of the new stuff seeping out. There are only a few places from which it could be leaking, though, and most likely it will be from somewhere in the region of the front-mounted condenser radiators, which are notoriously susceptible to both corrosion and stone damage, and so Oxford Car Care’s proprietor has very kindly let me borrow his ultra-violet testlamp so that I can go away and remove the front spoiler assembly, and then with luck find out where the leak (or leaks) might be. I’ll let you know how we get on. No less discouraging in its own relatively small way was the discovery – actually, I suppose realisation would be a better description – that after no more than around 12,000 miles the Dunlop rear tyres are just about down to the wear-indicator bars, and as a result will very soon need to be replaced. And frankly I am both surprised and just a little bit disappointed. Neither Chris nor I could be said to drive the car particularly hard, and it has never been near a trackday in our hands. I appreciate, too, that it is by its very nature a powerful machine with the bulk of its weight over the rear tyres (and the front covers have probably another 7000–10,000 miles left in them). Even so… The obvious short-term solution is simply to refit the 19-inch Miro wheels and Pirelli P Zero tyres that we installed for a time last summer (we subsequently took them off again because subjecting those beautiful rims, at least, to the rigours of the winter weather seemed little short of sacrilegious), and so that, too, now seems like a job for next weekend (I’m going to be pretty busy!). But I would none the less be interested to know what sort of mileage other 996 Carrera 2 owners see from their rear tyres. After all, the Goodyear NCTs on my 944 have probably done at least twice that figure, and
944/924S/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Cars: 944 Lux, 924S, 996 Carrera 2 Years: 1986, 1986, 1998 Mileage: 64,000 (996) Owned for: 7, 4, 2 years Contact: email@example.com Last report: June 2007 issue THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: The 924S is dangerously close to being back on its wheels, the 996’s air-con needs regassing yet again (and so probably a thorough overhaul), and the 944 has been, er, resting. Situation normal…
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they went to as much as 40,000 miles. As for said 944, well, that has sat, SORNed (in other words officially declared off the road) and seemingly unloved on my driveway for a couple of months now. For no valid reason, of course, other than my being preoccupied with other stuff, but the MoT ran out in February, and I’m pretty sure it will need a pair of front struts before it gets another (they were verbal ‘advises’ when I last had it tested, in February 2006). I also want to change the drive-belts before I put it back into service – I can’t help thinking I’ve been pushing my luck with the old ones – and so as soon as the 924S is back on its wheels (yet another job for this coming weekend!) the 944 will be taking its place on stands in the corner of the driveway. And I promise it won’t be there for too long! Below, from left to right: new engine’s in, and the corroded and leaking rad has been replaced. Wheels are back on, too, and the car’s just about ready to ‘touch down’. Old cylinder block shows no conclusive signs as to why engine ran so badly. Oxford Car Care’s air-con machine found not a trace of old refrigerant to extract from 996, and inspecting recharged system with special ultra-violet lamp showed no obvious leaks.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
The eagle has landed
OK, so it might not have been quite as momentous an occasion as the very first moon landing, but Chris Horton was naturally delighted when after months on axle-stands his 924S finally got its wheels back on terra firma 924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: 2 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1986, 1998 Mileages: 65,200 (996) Owned for: 7, 4, 2 years Mods/options: Collectively? Too much to list here! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: September 2007 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Back on its wheels, and after a quick wash and brush-up, the 924S is finally ready to roll. The 996, meanwhile, gets a pair of new aircon condensers and a headlamp washer jet. And the 944 is still, er, resting – but not for long now!
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
hardly dare believe this myself, but it’s none the less true. After nearly four years off the road the 924S is to all intents and purposes finished. Ready to go. (I even have on my desk the brandnew MoT certificate to prove it!) In the end, of course, it all came together remarkably smoothly, and with only a few minor – but still surprisingly annoying – teething troubles. Looking back, you wonder where all the time actually went. The most irritating problem – if only because (obviously…) it would have been so much easier to do the job before I fitted the new power unit – was the engine mounts. Given all the car’s other maladies when it was last in regular use it was probably no surprise these had slipped below my radar, as it were – but now it was obvious that something was amiss. Superficially, at least, the mounts had always appeared to be fine – certainly neither the replacement
engine nor the original unit was canted too far over to the right, like it plainly is in my ironically still turbinesmooth 944. But now there was an uncomfortable medium- to highfrequency vibration passing through the entire body shell, and having eliminated incorrect balance-shaft timing as the possible cause there was no way I could leave it like that. You might note, by the way, that I say engine mounts, plural. Fact is, I chose what I thought was the obvious route and first replaced just the right-hand mount (with a secondhand but nearly-new and certainly bargain-priced replacement from Porsch-Apart in Lancashire; thanks, chaps), confidently expecting that alone would do the trick. It is, after all, the one that’s routinely roasted by the intense heat from the nearby exhaust system; the one that conventional wisdom suggests is always the first of the two to fail. And it definitely helped, too, but
by no means as much as I had hoped. It was only when I later replaced the left-hand mount (and which is, to be fair, a lot easier to do than the one on the right) that the problem seemed finally to have been brought under control. Even now I would go as far as to suggest that the engine isn’t quite as silky-smooth as the 944’s (and which for obvious reasons I’m now more reluctant than ever to disturb), but it’s by no means bad. Oh, well: you live and learn, I suppose. The next task – in its own small way even more infuriating than the engine mounts – was to persuade the long-dormant windscreen washers back into action. I knew, having tested it by temporarily fitting it to the 944, that the pump was OK, but refitted to the ‘S’ again it showed not the slightest signs of cooperating. It was to all intents and purposes an ex-pump; bereft of life. Must be the car’s own electrics, then. Yes…but the fuse seems fine,
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
and there are no obvious breaks in any of the visible cables, so it must be the stalk-type switch on the righthand side of the steering column. And so, rather bizarrely, it proved. (I’m convinced it was OK when the car was last on the road.) Luckily I still had a spare in stock from my Mark 1 Golf days (guess where Porsche sourced many of the 924’s ancillary components?), and no less fortunately that did the trick, finally eliciting an encouraging whirring sound from the pump. Still not even the tiniest droplet of water was emerging from either of the two nozzles on the bonnet, though – and that after I’d spent probably 20 minutes poking around inside them with first the timehonoured pin, and then a length of thin fuse wire. I even went as far as to unclip both jets from the panel and, albeit without disconnecting them from their heating wires, to soak them in kettle descaler for a couple of hours. That, by virtue of my disconnecting the small-bore feed hoses, proved beyond doubt that plenty of water was reaching the jets, but still not even a dribble was getting through to the outside world. In the end I did manage to get something out of the two nozzles on the driver’s side – and which I knew would probably suffice for the MoT test – but even they routinely block themselves up again within a matter of hours, and so now I’ve done what I should have in the first place, and ordered a couple of brand-new jets. Sometimes you have to know when to give up the unequal struggle. It was a similar story with the rear windscreen wiper – and that, rather insultingly, after I’d found a replacement blade to replace the long-decomposed original. Fuse OK; switch on the centre console checks out with a meter; but still not a sausage from the motor. Bloody thing… Oh, well, hardly a disaster, though. For eight years I’ve managed without the (optional-extra) rear wiper on my Italian-market, lefthand-drive 944, and even though the 924S has clearly had a rear wiper from new it’s not a requirement for the MoT test. I can always sort that
out later. Maybe. Or maybe not. Next I turned my attention to the radio – or rather the lack of one. Again I can’t even begin to remember now what might have been in the car when my step-daughter, Joëlle, was last using it, but whatever it was it had for some reason been taken out – probably to go in the car she was driving immediately after the Porsche. Needless to say, I had a couple of rather ancient but none the less working units in stock to choose from, and with DAB looming ever closer on the horizon there was certainly no point buying a new one. No great problems here, of course, although while I was fiddling around with the centre console I took the opportunity to dismantle the secondary instrument cluster (oil pressure, clock and volts) and make all the panel lights work again. Pretty inconsequential in the overall scheme of things, I know, but always very useful – and strangely satisfying, too. I even persuaded part of the heater control panel to light up like it’s supposed to. I also spent some time trying to figure out why one of the slider controls for the heating and ventilation system was suddenly refusing to move through its full travel, eventually discovering, almost by chance, that the untrimmed end of a (factory-fitted) cable tie, deep within the centre console, had slipped down and was jamming the mechanism. I couldn’t help thinking
of the airliner that crashed after a mechanic left a wrench lying around in the cockpit, and it later slipped into the rudder-pedal mechanism. What else? Oh, yes, starting to fit a new gear-lever gaiter – much like in my 944 a year or so ago – but quickly deciding that there is no way I have – or ever will have – the extraordinary talent for the task possessed by the Porscheshop’s Ian Heward. But Porsch-Apart came up trumps with a complete second-hand gear lever (around £20 plus VAT, I seem to remember), and although it’s not quite as smart as the one in the aforementioned 944 (or the new leather gaiter that I’d bought from that nice Mr Heward) it doesn’t look too much out of place. Like I say, you have to know when to call it a day. In similar vein I’ve so far done nothing at all about the painfully slow door windows – I’m hoping they’ll free up with a bit of use – and the non-functioning odometer will have to remain a mystery for a while longer, too. (The speedo, with its new cable, seems to work just fine. Anyone else experienced the same odometer issue?) Same for the leaking sunroof: almost certainly the perimeter seal, but until the weather gets really bad it’s not something I’m going to lose too much sleep over. I did, though, take the trouble to fiddle around with the two sidemounted repeater indicators so that they function reliably. I just can’t stand it when things like that don’t
Above, left to right: 996’s air-con condensers were jammed with all sorts of muck and rubbish – and even a paper towel! Comparison of old and new units shows tell-tale stain that corroborates Horton’s theory of a leak. Pipe next to right-hand front jacking point damaged – but hopefully not holed. And both of 924S’s engine mounts were completely worn out
work. The problem was badly corroded contacts in each of the two bulb holders (water had got in, past the protective rubber boots), and although by careful dismantling, cleaning and reassembly I managed to get them working after a fashion, I couldn’t help feeling that by the time I’d driven to the MoT test they’d have contrived to stop again. But Porsch-Apart supplied me with a couple of new bulb holders for about a fiver, and over the top of them I fitted a pair of after-market oval lenses from ACE that I was sent for evaluation a few years ago, and hadn’t yet found a home for. They’re not really in keeping with the style of the car (a bit too modern-looking, basically), but they fit very well, they do actually look pretty good, and in practical terms they’re a lot tidier than the originals, one of which I discovered to have been broken at some point and (more or less) stuck back together again with glue. As for the MoT test, well, that wasn’t exactly the formality it might have been for a Carrera 2.7 RS fresh out of a £50,000 restoration, but it wasn’t too much of an ordeal, either.
Back on its wheels at last, the 924S needed first some air in the tyres, and then a darned good clean. Wheels are from a 1986-on 944 – so a bit wider than the standard rims
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS Car drives really nicely, says Horton – even if he is biased. Could be a little quieter, he suggests, but thanks to the replacement engine its performance is better than it has ever been in his hands. It looks pretty cool on those bigger wheels, too!
go. Time was – even before I embarked on the engine change – when the car really did begin to feel like the infamous seabird in The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (‘…instead of the cross, the albatross about my neck was hung…’), but even in the few miles to the MoT test and back I can tell that it feels completely rejuvenated. My faith in the car has been fully restored. The non-assisted steering is rather dead, and quite heavy, the
I was concerned about the brakes – the discs still had quite a lot of surface rust on them, even after I’d given them a few hard applications on the way there – but they (and even the handbrake, by now fitted with brand-new shoes) worked well enough to satisfy the men from the ministry, and rather ironically in the circumstances recorded in each of the various tests almost precisely the same levels of retardation from side to side. Not bad at all!
Even in the few miles to the MoT test and back I can tell that it feels completely rejuvenated
Exhaust emissions, too, were well within limits for a vehicle of this age (1.2 per cent carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons at a paltry 136ppm; and all that without a catalytic converter in sight), and the only real issue was the inner sidewall of the left-hand front tyre just touching the adjacent road spring. Even that was no great surprise, however (I’d had the whole of the front suspension apart, and had also fitted two new struts and wider 944 wheels), and with a full geometry set-up carried out on the same site immediately after the test all was well. Result! And that – so far, at least – is that. As I write this, the car is back on my driveway, waiting for someone to take it over from me. Unfortunately, though, Joëlle doesn’t want it back – even free, gratis and for nothing, which she freely concedes must seem more than a little perverse – and today I hear that my mate Steve from round the corner is no longer up for it. That leaves one possible in the shape of my godson, Simon, and his girlfriend – and having spent so much time, effort and money on it I’d much prefer it to go to someone within my family circle, as it were – but if not then there’s nothing for it but the 911 & Porsche World classifieds. Either way I shall be sad to see it
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
interior ergonomics a disaster compared to my older but none the less oval-dash 944, and I wish the car were in overall terms a little quieter and more refined, too. But it has some real bite to its performance now, both the torque-tube bearings and the transmission are as quiet as the proverbial church mouse, the brakes are strong and responsive, and on its later 944 wheels it looks – as another friend of mine has so often put it – ‘an amazingly pretty little car’. (For a 924S, I think he means…) Interested? Then send me an e-mail at porscheman1956 @yahoo.co.uk, and maybe we can do a deal. I don’t think you’d regret it! The other news of note this month concerns the 996. Last time, you might recall, I hinted at the recurring air-conditioning problems, and said that I’d let you know what happened. Suffice it to say that the cure – as by that stage I suspected it would – involved removing the car’s front apron and the plastic ducting behind it, and then fitting a pair of new air-conditioning condensers (the old ones were either pin-holed because of corrosion, or else a stone had gone through one of them), Four years’ worth of horrible-looking green gunge washed off easily enough with the help of a high-pressure hose
before having the system regassed. Simple enough, really – and in the overall scheme of things not too catastrophically expensive, either. The new condensers (£149 each plus carriage and VAT) came from Porsch-Apart, the special neoprene ‘O’-ring seals where the condensers meet the pipework for just pennies apiece from the local air-con specialist (Oxford Car Care; 01844 279254) that first depressurised and then later regassed the system, and finally a new receiver-drier (£25 plus VAT) from Euro Car Parts’ recently opened (and for me very convenient) Aylesbury branch. In the event we also needed a new headlamp washer jet for the right-hand side of the car (the old one was leaking), and that cost around £110 from a Porsche Centre – making the condensers seem even more of a bargain. In a way, though, this venture remains unfinished business. Such is the vulnerability of the two condensers, set deep inside the car’s no doubt highly efficient ‘nostrils’, that I can’t help feeling that it’s only a matter of time before the same thing happens again – and possibly immediately if we’re unlucky enough to pick up a low-flying stone. I am, needless to say, currently working on some sort of preventative measure
to deal with the problem – and I’ll tell you more about that in due course. There’s also the issue of the no less worrying corrosion we found on the main cooling-system radiators, immediately behind the condensers – how much longer before one or even both of those start leaking? – and not least the damaged air-con pipe next to the jacking point at the front of the right-hand sill (see photo on previous page). This, almost certainly the result of a carelessly placed jack or garage lift, is a depressingly and increasingly common sight under 996-model Carreras and 986-model Boxsters, and if holed as a result will obviously negate any good work as far as the condensers are concerned. Personally, I think the one on our car is OK in that respect (and it wouldn’t be impossibly difficult or expensive to replace it in any case, even if that would mean draining and then regassing the system again), but so far I have my fingers crossed on both counts. Again, more on all this as and when it happens. More next time, too, on how we finally and surprisingly quickly – if rather expensively – solved the longstanding problem of the alarm system that seemed to have developed a mind of its own.
Our cars.proofed:PW MASTER
924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: 2 Cars: LHD 944 Lux, 924S, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1986, 1998 Mileages: 69,400 (996) Owned for: 8, 4, 2 years Mods/options: Collectively? Far too much to list here! Contact: email@example.com Last report: December 2007 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: The 924S’s steering is becoming ever more irritating, the water leaks into the cabin are a pain in the (now very wet) backside, and there’s a strange clutch fault but, that apart, it’s running well – and it’s great fun to drive. Mostly...
t’s strange how things work out. I had confidently expected that, by mid-December, the 924S would be in the appreciative hands of my builder friend, Steve but, in the event, his wife decided – probably correctly – that it wasn’t really for them. Same with my godson, Simon. Doing a deal with him was contingent on his being able to sell the E36 BMW he and his girlfriend were sharing, but that failed to find any takers at a sensible price, and so…well, here we are. Christmas is approaching
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
The collapse of not just one, but two potential sales means that Chris Horton still has the 924S (above). Good job, too, he says, with every other available set of wheels currently out of action... like a runaway train, and it’s myself that I find clocking up the miles in the recently-reassembled Porsche. But I’m really quite glad about the way it’s panned out. Partly because, with the 944 off the road, and my old BMW 525e hors de combat with a cracked cylinder head (again…), I needed some wheels. And since the cheapest car you can buy is the one you already have (yeah, right…), it seemed logical to find the answer so close to home. The fact is, too, that I had always wanted to put a few miles on the Porsche myself in order to be able to find and sort out any minor problems (and perhaps even just to have some fun in it!) and, despite the irritation of some of its now more obvious shortcomings, it has also proved itself to be remarkably enjoyable to drive. Shortcomings? Well, nothing too disastrous, but I really must do something about that generally underwhelming steering. Suspecting that it might have something to do with the wider 944 wheels, I temporarily refitted the 924S rims and tyres, but that made no difference, at all – and so, for the sake of the car’s looks alone, I immediately reverted to those later-style 944 rims again.
The short- to medium-term answer, I think, is to have the geometry checked again, and perhaps to fit some new top bearings for the struts, but in the longer term to install the power steering that was an option in the 924S, anyway. The situation will never be helped by the car’s absurdly low-set steering wheel, of course, but there’s not a great deal I can do about that. Before all that, though, there’s more work to do elsewhere on the suspension – and which might well alleviate the steering situation. There are some heavyish clonks coming up through the front end over rough surfaces, and I reckon the bottom ball-joints are a bit long in the tooth. Fortunately, they’re riveted to the pressed-steel bottom arms, and for that reason easily replaceable, but I’ve taken the even simpler way out. I’ve bought from Euro Car Parts, in Aylesbury, not only new joints (designed to be fitted with three M6 bolts and self-locking nuts apiece), but also brand-new arms – which will save me having to drill out the old rivets. I’ll also fit the Superflex polyurethane mounting bushes I’ve had in stock for a while – they were earmarked for the 944, but that can wait – and obviously
have the geometry fully and perhaps more accurately checked. Maybe that will help matters. Needless to say, I feel just a little bit guilty about chucking away the old suspension arms (which means that I’ll probably store them in the garage for the next decade or so, before finally lobbing them in a skip) but, at about a tenner each plus VAT for the new ones (and roughly the same again for the ball-joints), even I could see that it was hardly worth getting my electric drill out. Why so cheap? Because both arms and joints are exactly the same as you’ll find at the sharp end of a Mk1 VW Golf – and even now ECP no doubt sells them by the truckload. Who said Porsches are expensive to run? That apart, the ‘S’ has been going remarkably well, with not a single engine-oil or coolant leak, and always starting first time, whatever the weather. Oh, and the heater is absolutely wonderful. A good job, too, because such seem now to be the torrential leaks from both the sunroof and the tailgate rubbers (new ones are on order…), that driving the car as often as possible – and then running the heater full-blast, is the only way of drying everything out – short of
Our cars.proofed:PW MASTER
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
normal. When everything is stonecold, however, the slightest foot pressure plunges it virtually to the floor, and there it resolutely remains until I hook it back up again with my foot. No less strangely, this doesn’t seem to badly affect either the gear change or the power delivery – so the clutch isn’t dragging, and plainly neither is it slipping under load. Someone has suggested a faulty flexible hydraulic hose that’s perhaps ballooning under pressure (I resealed the master cylinder; the slave was brand-new), but I reckon it has something to do with the rather strange ‘helper’ spring attached to the pedal, and hidden away under the fascia. Either way, it’s yet another job for when we have
moving to the Gobi Desert, anyway. The car looks great, too. Nick Fulljames from Autofarm borrowed it for a few weeks when he, too, was temporarily without any other transport, and in return very kindly had one of his colleagues up there machine-polish the paintwork. I was utterly amazed when I saw the shine for the first time, and will do my level best to keep it that way. Mind you, the weather has put some of the car’s other ‘systems’ to the test, too. The bonnet struts have shown their usual reluctance to hold the panel open – or until the car has been driven a few miles and they’ve been warmed by the heat from the engine. The windscreen washers are still waiting for the new
I was amazed when I saw the shine for the first time, and will do my best to keep it that way
jets that I ordered (I just haven’t got round to collecting them yet), but meanwhile I’ve made a significant improvement to their effectiveness by fitting an old one (originally from the 944, I think) to the driver’s side, and aiming the left-hand of its two nozzles as far over to the left-hand side of the screen as possible. Better still, I now have an instant response from the washers literally the moment I touch the steering-column switch, thanks to a couple of simple non-return valves in the main feed tubing up from the pump – they cost just a couple of quid each from Halfords, I seem to recall. There also seems to be some vague (and frankly rather bizarre) connection between the ambient temperature and the clutch pedal’s behaviour. With the engine warmed up, the pedal feels more or less
a few hours of sunshine, I think. My final minor gripe – and I may yet be blaming it unfairly – concerns the Dansk rear silencer I fitted as part of the Big Rebuild. I remain thoroughly impressed by both its superb fit and finish – and it was by no means expensive – but it seems almost unbelievably loud, even at moderate engine revs. That may well be due in large part to the shredded tailgate seal (soon to be replaced, of course) but, to avoid huge embarrassment, I’m rarely using more than about 4000rpm. What’s more, there’s definitely something loose somewhere in the exhaust system that makes the most appalling, tinny racket when you back off the throttle. And there was me thinking that I’d seen the last of the car’s underside for the foreseeable future!
911 CARRERA/944S Owner: Steve Bennett Occupation: Editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Hoxne, Suffolk Previous Porsches owned: 3 Cars: 911 3.2 Carrera/944S Year: 1985/1988 Mileage: 115,000/115,400 Owned for: Five years/13 months Mods/options: Standard non-Sport Carrera, lowered with 8- and 9in polished Fuchs wheels. 944S is so far standard Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: August 2007 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: I’ve put another 1000 or so miles on the 944S and I’m really enjoying it. There are only a couple of minor niggles to sort – but I’m now moving on to a new project, so it’s up for grabs.
ollowing on from last month’s ‘back on the road’ report, I’ve been able to spend a bit more time behind the wheel of my 944S, which has certainly been no great hardship. Am I still happy? Yes, I certainly am. It’s not without its problems, but they’re all minor in the great scheme of things. Starting from cold is spot on but, until sufficiently warmed, the revs tend to drop before picking up again, which I reckon must be something to do with the idle control valve. It’s no big deal, and when warm it idles perfectly, but I will get it checked out. Anything else? Well, there’s a
slight bit of kick-back through the steering, which could be a lower ball-joint, or could just be a loose universal joint on the steering column itself. I’m being picky, really, because it’s barely noticeable. In my last report I mentioned that I was going to replace the pins and latches on the rear tailgate. As is typical, they had worn, which is what causes the huge glass hatch to squeak and groan, and after a particularly long trip it was driving me and my passenger round the bend. The parts arrived with the usual efficiency from Porsch-Apart and, after an hour, the job was done. Ah, the sound of silence. It really is worth doing and not expensive at around £50 all in. With that background noise sorted, I’m pleased to report that the 944 is pleasantly rattle-free. Not bad for a car that’s 18 years old. For more agreeable noise, my trusty Sony head unit, which has followed me from 944 to 944, has been slotted in. The fact that it only takes cassettes seems appropriate. I-pod? What’s that? Lat month I also wittered on about some engine mods and an ECU remap. Ignore all that. The S is what it is. Want to access the full 190bhp? Use the throttle. The smoothness of the engine makes it a pleasure, rather than a chore. And so, as is often the way with projects, the 944S is now for sale. It’s as sorted as you’ll find – and I reckon at £3000 it’s a blooming bargain. Contact me on the above e-mail address if you fancy it. I’ve now got another project to fund.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
Porsche to the rescue! A few months ago it would have been difficult to envisage the 924S even running, never mind saving the day when a much newer BMW suddenly refused to start. Chris Horton explains why you can never have too many cars. Photographs by the author
t’s eight in the morning on Wednesday, 2nd January; for many of us the first day back at the coal face after the twoweek binge that now passes for Christmas. Reluctantly I venture outside into the semi-darkness and the no less predictable drizzle to move the cars around so that Mrs Horton can drive her E39 5-series BMW to work, quickly realising that I stand about as much chance of getting it started as squeezing blood from a stone. It was all my own fault. Just the day before I’d gone out there and spent a contented couple of hours changing the 924S’s front suspension arms (more on that in a moment), but in order to make space on the driveway I had first needed to shift Munich’s finest a few feet. Foolishly, though, I had failed fully to warm up its engine by letting it run for at least 10–15 minutes. Result: six flooded combustion chambers, which even at that moment on Wednesday morning I knew I would be able to dry out only by leaving the car for a few hours, or else by taking out the plugs. Which is no five-minute job on these engines. Bugger. The good news, though, was that the cause of the problem turned out also to be its (short-
term) solution. My wife had never previously piloted either the lefthand-drive 944 or – despite the fact that her daughter had owned it for at least 18 months – the 924S. Indeed, the last Porsche she drove must have been a 993 Tiptronic test-car way back in 1996, at around the time when I first started editing this magazine; and she probably hadn’t driven anything at all with a manual transmission for three years. But the ‘S’, despite its still ghastly steering – the bottom ball-joints I’d fitted the previous day had succeeded only in getting rid of the worst of the front-end knocks – isn’t that much out of the ordinary; and certainly not as cantankerous as some of the vehicles I’ve made her use over the last two decades. It had to be worth a try. All of which goes to support my (not entirely serious) theory that you can never have too many cars. And to suggest yet again that the 924S is probably going to be with us for some time to come. I can’t say that Mrs Horton enjoyed the experience of driving the Porsche so hugely that now she can’t be prised out of it, but at the same time it must have helped take her mind off the grim prospect of the day ahead. The fact is, too, that
the car is steadily becoming much nicer to drive. The steering issue continues to irritate and depress in roughly equal measure, and I’ve uncovered signs of previous rearend bodywork butchery that will have to be put right (more on that in a moment, too), but we’re definitely making progress. The most significant recent improvement came, just before Christmas, in the form of a large padded envelope from Rob Shapcott at rubber-seal and trim specialist Forest Fine in East Sussex (www.forestfine.com; 01273 891660). Inside were two brand-new, original-equipment sunroof seals, and an OE tailgate seal. Oh, and a couple of tailgate locking pins. Between them these have cured the worst of the water and exhaust-fume leaks into the cabin (although for some reason I still seem to get dripped on from above when first setting off if the car has been parked in heavy rain for any length of time), and have also eliminated the creaks and groans from the big rear hatch. You’ll note that I say originalequipment parts. I’ve previously fitted two after-market tailgate seals to a 944, on both occasions using a length cut from a long roll of the stuff, and while that had the
Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: None Cars: 924S, LHD 944, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1986, 1998 Mileages: 72,000 (996) Owned for: 4, 8, 2 years Mods/options: Collectively? Far too much to list here! Other vehicles owned: E28 and E39 5-series BMWs, VW LT35 van, and P6 Rovers beyond counting... Contact: email@example.com Last report: February 2008 LAST FEW MONTHS IN BRIEF: New tailgate and sunroof seals get rid of most of the 924S’s water leaks into the cabin, and a replacement master cylinder cures the strange behaviour of the clutch pedal. But some uprated wishbone bushes and new ball-joints make only a slight difference to the steering – and Horton makes a worrying discovery in the rear compartment
correct cross-sectional profile to do the job quite adequately, it first had to be trimmed to the right length once on the car (not that easy), and then to have the two ends neatly joined in such a manner as to maintain an air- and water-tight union (ditto). Not this one, though. The two ends had already been solidly fused together, and I soon realised that the part of the seal that fits over the flange on the aperture in the body – a sort of inverted ‘U’-section – must have been treated with a special sealant to stop water getting into the car via that route. I’d been wondering how you’re supposed to replicate the horrible and now dry and crumbly black stuff that Porsche – sorry, Audi – must have used when the car was first assembled. Inevitably, this OE seal was slightly more awkward to install than the after-market item, which you can thread past both the tailgate struts and (where fitted) the wiring for the rear wiper, but even so it wasn’t difficult. I started by lining up the glued joint with the tailgate lock, and then gently tapping an inch or so of the ‘U’-section extrusion home with a rubber mallet. (You have to make sure that it’s always going on at the 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
Clutch master cylinder came off complete with fluid reservoir and flexible hose; do it carefully and you won’t spill a drop of hydraulic fluid. Chances are you’ll be able to bleed air out of pipework at the union at the rear end of the cam cover
right angle. But the flange on the body isn’t always consistent in that respect, and it’s easy to damage the plastic if you force it on.) No less vital, of course, is then to ensure that the plastic moulding is firmly pushed into all four corners of the aperture. Get that wrong, and in the short term the seal as a whole will seem to be too long for the job. In the longer term it will no less obviously leak just as badly as the one you took off. I soon discovered, of course, that I needed temporarily to detach the lower end of each tailgate strut to pass the seal over it (and no less obviously you can’t pass the seal over the top of the tailgate, because then the hinges will get in
the way…). A further brief hold-up came in the shape of the wiring for the rear wiper, but you probably won’t be surprised to learn that after a few nano-seconds’ careful deliberation I simply chopped through the three electric cables with a pair of side-cutting pliers. The bloody thing didn’t work anyway, and as soon as I’ve bought a proper blanking plug for the resulting hole in the glass (or even just a rubber grommet) I shall simply take the whole mechanism off to save a bit of weight. Less is more, and all that… The only other tricks of the trade, I have discovered, are to tap home the upper part of the seal, under the middle section of the
glass, by lying in the luggage compartment with your feet on the centre tunnel between the front seats (it’s difficult to see the moulding otherwise, never mind to reach it), and then finally to give the hollow rubber section that actually does the sealing a quick squirt of silicone lubricant from an aerosol, spreading it evenly over the rubber with your finger. That should help it settle neatly beneath the tailgate frame when the latter is closed, and also to minimise any remaining squeaks. Oh, and it’s also worth arranging things so that the last few inches of seal that you push home are somewhere easily accessible – even if that means partly detaching a few feet that you’ve already seated, and then working the excess, as it were, round to somewhere more convenient. Even then the seal might appear to be such a tight fit that you’ll have maybe an inch or so left over, but that just means you haven’t tapped the seal fully home in one or more of the corners. Don’t be tempted to cut it to ‘lose’ the excess! The replacement tailgate lock pins, meanwhile, were generally no less straightforward to fit. The only real difficulty was that the one on the right was (as they often are) seized into its threaded mounting block. I took that entire assembly off the car to see if I could
persuade the pin out with the help of penetrating oil applied from above (fortunately the block’s own two countersunk securing screws came out easily; they don’t always), but that too failed miserably, and so for the time being I’ve simply borrowed the equivalent block assembly from the 944. That car is itself now ‘resting’ on the driveway, and so despite the appalling weather can make do with just a single tailgate pin for the time being. (A new mounting block is on order from Porsch-Apart as I write.) Adjusting both of the new pins was simply a case of screwing them up into the mounting blocks sufficiently far to pull the tailgate down tight onto the new rubber (and which is actually quite a lot further than you’d think), and even now the hatch won’t open from the switch down in the driver’s footwell like it’s supposed to, but I can live with that minor inconvenience. The comparative silence on rough roads, never mind the absence of exhaust fumes in the cabin whenever I open a window or the sunroof, is a joy, indeed. It was a similar story with the sunroof seals, although in this case both of the new ones came as double-ended strips cut from a long roll, and so had to be carefully trimmed to length. I say ‘carefully’ for entirely obvious reasons: you can’t put the material back if you
Above, from left to right: The original tailgate seal had pulled completely away from the body at the two top corners, under the tailgate. No surprise, then, that rainwater was literally pouring in. The rest of the seal was in generally poor condition, too, with several tears in the hollow rubber extrusion – and this big gap between the two ends, immediately over the tailgate lock. Outer sunroof seal (far right) was quite badly distorted where the two ends were supposed to meet
Above, from left to right: New seal from Forest Fine took about an hour to fit to Horton’s satisfaction. Hardest part was making sure it was pushed firmly into all the corners, especially here at the top. Encouragingly, new seal has a crucial breather hole down at the lower rear corners (to allow the air inside it to escape when the tailgate is shut) and also an inner strengthening rib throughout this heavily loaded area. Sunroof seal (right) bunches up in the corners, but seems unavoidable
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM TOO
take off too much. And the trick with that particular part of the job, by the way, wasn’t simply to hack through the seals with a big pair of shears – you’ll crush and certainly distort the sectional steel ‘spine’ that runs through the exterior seal, at least – but first to make a small cut with a sharp knife to expose that metal spine, and then to use a pair of side-cutting pliers to snip no less carefully down between the relevant sections. You’ll need that rubber mallet again, too, in order to make sure that both mouldings sit firmly down over their mounting flanges. And don’t worry too much about the inner part of the outer seal (if you see what I mean…) bunching up in each of the four corners (see photo). It has to turn through such a tight radius here that I really don’t see how you can avoid it, and I’m pretty sure that provided you have also replaced that perimeter seal for the aperture in the car’s main roof, you’ll achieve a close enough fit between the two surfaces to keep out the worst of the weather. Time will tell, I guess… Other jobs on the 924S have included replacing the clutch master cylinder (that was, after all, the cause of the pedal’s strange behaviour that I reported last time), freeing off the ignition lock with a squirt of WD-40 (suddenly one morning I could put the key in the lock, but not actually turn it…) and, as I suggested at the beginning of this piece, fitting my newly-acquired front suspension arms. And that, I’m pleased to say, really was the proverbial piece of cake. It took me all of 20 minutes per side to fit the new SuperFlex polyurethane bushes and (bolt-on) bottom ball-joints, even allowing for snapping the few photos you see here, and not much more than an hour to fit both assembled arms to the car. The hardest part of that task – as I had guessed it would be – was persuading the anti-roll bar back up into the correct position. The result of this work – again alluded to at the beginning of this story – wasn’t quite as dramatic as I had hoped it might be (the steering’s still far too heavy), but the front end feels much tighter and quieter over bumps than it did before (the ball-joints were actually quite loose in their sockets, even though their rubber covers were still intact), and I suspect there may yet be some gains to be had in
New bottom arms and ball-joints – same as a Mark 1 Golf’s – cost about £50 the lot from Euro Car Parts. Only additional expense would be for the mounting bushes, here polyurethane items from SuperFlex. Ball-joints are simply bolted to the ends of the arms rather than riveted, as were the originals. Tightening nuts and bolts will close up this small gap (above)
Front bushes require little more than hand pressure to push through eye in bottom arm – Horton used B&D Workmate as a press, fitting steel tube in exactly the same way. Rear bushes simply push on. Spot the deliberate mistake in the photo above: this configuration would give two right-hand arms...
It should take no more than a few minutes to remove the old bottom arms from the car – although realigning the anti-roll bar inevitably lengthens the refitting process
terms of the car’s overall confidence once I’ve had the geometry properly reset. I’d been planning to do that today, of course, but needless to say the car is elsewhere as I write this… I’m definitely going to replace the struts’ top mounts, too (they were creaking and groaning most alarmingly yesterday when I was turning the steering with the weight off the front wheels), although at least one 911 & Porsche World reader, who signs himself simply Ralph, kindly e-mailed in response to my last report to say that he experienced a similar problem with his car, and
What were they thinking? Gash in boot floor was probably part of some half-baked plan to take out fuel tank without first removing gearbox. Will now have to be welded
that it turned out to be partially seized universal joints in the lower steering-column shaft. Frankly, I’m a bit doubtful that’s the cause here, but I’ll certainly have a look. And many thanks for your interest! I’ll end, though, with the grim discovery I made over Christmas while investigating the strong smell of petrol in the cabin. Unusually for me these days I had recently filled the tank more or less to the brim (that’s now the thick end of £75 worth, of course…) and even before I had replaced those rubber seals for the tailgate and the sunroof the problem was no longer the exhaust fumes being
drawn into the car with the windows open, but the frankly overpowering smell (and again, for some strange reason, worse still with the windows or the sunroof open) of Asda’s finest. Suspecting a leak somewhere in the pipework between filler flap and tank, where it passes down the right-hand side of the luggage compartment, I lifted out all the carpet in this area, and soon realised that I was by no means the first to pass this way. Never mind the loose and distorted metal shroud over the pipes, or the plainly damp rubber hose beneath it (see photo). No, the real problem was – 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS and so far remains – the huge gash in the floor running from the cutout for the fuel-gauge sender unit right across to the filler area. I don’t know why I hadn’t spotted this before – simply because I’d never actually needed to poke about here, I guess – and I’m not sure why anyone should feel it necessary to butcher the body shell in this extraordinary manner, but I can assume only that it was some half-baked attempt to remove the fuel tank without first (as is usually the custom in all of these front-engined Porsches...) taking out the transaxle. Certainly the car had a visibly leaking fuel tank when I first got involved with it (some six years ago now), and I suppose that if you have the mental capacity of an amoeba you might imagine you could tackle the problem by what amounts to chainsaw surgery. But the fact remains that I solved the problem at that time with a proprietary fuel-tank leak-sealing kit from Frost Auto Restoration
Techniques Ltd (www.frost.co.uk), and no less obviously that even six years later, and with £75 worth of gas in the tank, that was still doing its job perfectly. Quite what I’m going to do about it I’m really not sure, but rest assured that it will be fixed. It will, of course, entail doing what should have been done in the first place, and removing the gearbox, and then probably having my welder friend Eugene Farrell MIG the incision back together for me, but already I can see a way of turning the situation to my advantage. The guys up at Porsch-Apart have for several years now been telling me that with some minor mods to the underbody it’s possible to fit not only the (bigger, and certainly rustproof) plastic fuel tank from a 944S2 or 968, but also the latter car’s six-speed transmission and higher-geared final drive. Trouble is, of course, that then I’d want a 968 engine, too. Like I said, suddenly it seems the ‘S’ is going to be part of the Horton fleet for a while yet.
How low can you go? With the 944S gone, Bennett has decided to push the boundaries of cheap daily Porsche ownership to a new level
An unexpected pleasure? It’s the first day back at work after Christmas and the BMW won’t start, writes Venetia Horton, so I’m offered the red Porsche. I’ve never driven it before, but needs must, and all that. I needn’t have worried, though. After a slow start (I have to get used to using two feet again instead of just one!) I roar off up the nearby hill. And actually I’m very impressed by the job Chris has done on the car. Until today it was just another of his hopeless old wrecks on the driveway – green mould all over the bodywork, damp inside, and missing most of its trim – but that was as far as my interest went. I had even been in the car a couple of times recently as a passenger, but it still didn’t
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
capture my imagination in the way Porsches are clearly meant to: too low, too noisy, and in spite of that big rear hatch not that great for the supermarket run. But once I’m in the driving seat I can appreciate the response of the engine, and I feel much more in control of the gearbox. It’s so much more fun than my big, wallowy, automatic BMW. All the girls at the office want to know whose is the cute red sports car outside, and I feel quite pleased with myself for getting to grips with it at such short notice. So well done, Chris, for having spent so much time (and money, I suppose…) on the parts that matter – the ones that make a Porsche do what a Porsche should! Oh, and can I have the BMW back tomorrow, please…?
ell, the black 944S has gone. No sooner had the Feb issue bounced through subscribers’ letter boxes, then I had an e-mail from Brian Gribbon, enquiring as to whether the 944 was still for sale. Things moved so quickly from that point that, by the following day, the car was gone and I had trousered the £3000 asking price. Result. Now, I haven’t heard from Brian since, so I’m hoping that all is well. He was planning on using the car as a stop gap while saving up for a 993. Part of the car’s new remit was a planned 100-mile per day commute that would take it into central Manchester. No reason why it shouldn’t be up to such a challenge, but Brian do let us know how you’re getting on. So why let it go? Well, there’s always the desire to move on to the next project – and I’m still determined to build my green Porsche using LPG propulsion. The 944S, with its high-revving four-cylinder, just wasn’t right for the job and, truth be told, it was a just little too good for a daily
machine – well, too good for me, anyway. Of all the 944s I’ve had, it’s always the base 944 Lux that I come back to when I’m thinking day-to-day Porsche wheels. I loved my first one so much that I ended up owning it twice – and in between I had another one that racked up 250,000 miles and cost just £1500, complete with a set of 15-inch Fuchs. Both cars are still going strong – the former with a local friend and the latter with 911&PW contributor Richard Aucock. So what’s the big attraction? Well, I guess it’s the relative simplicity and ruggedness of the 2.5-litre, eight-valve motor, which combines effortless performance with reasonable economy. I also like the old school looks and the notion that a 20-year-old car can still cut it with all the blandmobiles on the road these days. Oh, and a 944 Lux would be perfect for my project. So, once again, I was on the look-out for cheap 944. Well, my £3k has to go quite a long way. For a period of a few weeks I was on the trail, and I reckon I must
For half an hour or so the 996 looked very forlorn, minus its windscreen. New perimeter trim (above right) was a welcome finishing touch; very smart – just a shame everything seems to creak so loudly. New key (right) seems to have cured alarm problems
A flexible friendship Never say never, suggests Chris Horton. You just don’t know what the exciting world of Porsche will offer you next. Photos by the author 924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: None Cars: 924S, LHD 944, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985/2, 1998 Mileages: 72,000 (996) Owned for: 5, 8, 3 years Mods/options: Far too much to list here! Other vehicles owned: E28 & E39 5-series BMWs, VW LT van, and Rover P6s beyond number… Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: April 2008 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: The 924S acquires a pair of new bonnet struts, and Horton finds out why the sunroof appeared to be leaking. Meanwhile the 996 gets a new windscreen and – at last! – two brand-new keys
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
obert Burns can hardly have had Porsches in mind when way back in 1785 he suggested that the bestlaid plans of mice and men often go awry. Even so, I can’t help but think how aptly this now well-known saying describes my relationship with them. Or maybe cars, period. Take the 924S. For some time after I first got it running, back in 2002, it was in the hands of my step-daughter, Joëlle, so when last autumn the second long rebuild was nearing completion I offered it back to her. She declined, however, primarily because she had by then sunk a lot of cash in another car. But then just a few weeks later everything changed again. That other car, a 1970s’ Rover 2200, had developed a colossal oil leak from the crankshaft rear seal (996 owners, you don’t know the half of it…) and it would have cost at least £500 to have it fixed professionally. (There was no way I had the time to do it.) So could she,
er, sort of have the 924S back again for a week or two, while she and her husband worked out what to do? How could I possibly refuse? In truth, ‘a week or two’ always seemed an optimistic assessment, and we have finally decided that she’ll have the Porsche back permanently. I’m quite glad, too. It leaves me without a reliable car when my wife’s out at work – the ancient BMW 525e almost certainly does now have a cracked cylinder head; the 944 is still dormant – but I can generally work round that. Besides, I’m sure I shall have the pleasure – and I’m not being ironic here; I really do like it! – of seeing and driving the 924S fairly often. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, Joëlle and her mother were away together for the weekend, and despite the still ghastly weather I surprised us all – and not least the car itself, I suspect – by getting outside and tackling a few jobs. Chief among those was fitting the new bonnet struts that had
been rolling round in one of the rear footwells for weeks. It’s never a nice job, that – even with the bonnet propped as far open as it will go, it’s a struggle to compress the struts far enough to insert the clevis pins – but on this occasion I seemed to manage it without too much difficulty or bad language. How long the new struts will last is anyone’s guess – these units always seem to lose their pressure remarkably quickly – but at least for the time being there’s little danger of that large and actually quite heavy panel dangerously slamming shut on my fingers when I least expect it. The next task was to fit the new tailgate locking pin and its threaded mounting block that I’d bought from Porsch-Apart, refitting the one that had been on the 924S back on the 944, from which I’d ‘borrowed’ it over Christmas. (Why not fit the brand-new pin to the 944? Different colour and a slightly different pattern, and mismatches
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
like that really annoy me.) Both cars’ tailgates now open and stay shut about as reliably as they’re ever going to at this stage in their lives, and both seem fairly watertight – although I was quite surprised to see that the 924S’s new tailgate seal, fitted only last December, is already showing signs of taking on a permanent ‘set’ where it’s been squashed down by the glass. I shall have to keep an eye on that, I think. Less successfully I spent an hour or two fiddling about with the relevant relay trying to get the windscreen wipers working more consistently, but so far without much success. The problem, as I suspected from the loud clicking noises from inside the relay, was a couple of ‘dry’ electrical connections, but melting them with a soldering iron and then letting them reflow has made no
the hole in the roof – and directly above the ashtray, of course – was literally full of rainwater! In the short term (which has inevitably become the medium to long term) I stuck a piece of gaffer tape over the hole, but eventually it will need something more permanent – like either a rubber grommet or, better still, having the hole welded up completely. (Or, of course, a new aerial.) Either way, I’ll have to do something about the rust (and now the peeling paint, too) on the outside of the panel, otherwise it will simply spread. The 996, meanwhile, keeps on keeping on. The mileage on the Autofarm Silsleeve engine is now just about 18,000, taking the car’s total to around 72,000, and still not once has the power unit missed a beat. Very impressive, indeed. I’ve told you about the airconditioning overhaul I carried out last summer (the unexpurgated story appeared in the October 2007 edition of the Porsche Club GB’s magazine, Porsche Post), and thus
Arrow shows one of the several ‘dry’ soldered joints in 924S relay. Hole drilled in roof for aerial has ultimately led to all kinds of problems (right)
The alarm still won’t deactivate remotely if the car has stood idle for more than about a week
obvious difference. Another phone call to Porsch-Apart, I think… I did, though, solve the mystery of why, despite two new sunroof seals, there still appeared to be a water leak from the roof down into the ashtray. The car had always had a roof-mounted radio antenna (rather than an aerial discreetly built in to the windscreen, as in the contemporary 944), and closer investigation showed that the rubber moulding between its base and the paintwork had distorted sufficiently over time to allow water to creep between them. And how did I establish this? Easy: I suddenly realised that the courtesy-light lens, which I soon discovered is immediately below
far everything seems fine – so the damaged pipework adjacent to the car’s right-hand front jacking point must be merely dented rather than actually holed. I shall have to keep an eye on that, too, though. The only other fairly major expenditure – and considering the size of the parts it seemed at the time a very costly exercise – has been for a pair of brand-new keys. To you, sir, that’ll be about £350 plus the VAT, please. Ker-chinggg… The combined alarm/immobiliser system (whose workings I will never even pretend to understand) had long ago evolved a mind of its own. Sometimes it would refuse to deactivate remotely (in which case we had to unlock the car with the
key in the door, thereby setting off the horn, and then kill the deafening row by quickly turning on the ignition). Eventually, though, the system wouldn’t respond at all. We temporarily cured the fault with a new battery in the single key that had come with the car, but soon that ceased to function, too, and then – or so we were told, anyway – the only answer was to buy from a Porsche Centre a new key (plus, for fairly obvious reasons, a spare). Both keys then had to be coded to the car, of course. And so far that seems to have done the trick. The alarm still won’t deactivate remotely if the 996 has stood idle for more than a week (which is how it’s meant to behave, apparently), and again the horn then sounds as soon as you unlock the door (which again is correct), but other than that it was money well spent. Well, I think so, anyway. But then it wasn’t my money… That said, the car’s most recent ‘surgery’ was at around £60 for a brand-new windscreen nothing less than an absolute bargain. (Yes, I know 996 windscreens cost a lot more than that; the figure above was the excess Chris had to pay to have the glass replaced under the terms of his insurance policy.) The old glass had picked up several stone-chips, and the most recent, in the middle of the driver’s line of sight, was both a likely MoT failure and far too big to repair, and so the insurance company generously agreed that it could be replaced. It also rather neatly avoided the problem of the glass delaminating at the bottom left-hand corner, and adopting that characteristic milky appearance. The job was done by Autoglass at its Oxford branch within just a few hours – much quicker than we had expected, and entirely painless. (Chris and I retired to a nearby pub, until summoned by
phone so that I could go and take the accompanying photograph.) The only real issue since then is a more or less continuous creaking sound from the windscreen frame, especially when the car is on particularly rough roads. The Autoglass man suggested as soon as he had finished the job that this might be quite noticeable, and would probably disappear in time, but it’s definitely a little worrying. (And so far has shown absolutely no sign of diminishing.) I think it’s coming from the new (and very smart) outer rubber seal chafing on the body aperture (which was also a problem in brandnew 993s a decade ago, I seem to recall), and so as soon as it stops raining I’m off to Chris’s again to see if a sprinkling of talcum powder – or maybe even light grease – between the two surfaces does the trick. I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, though, the 996 is for sale. Chris has recently changed jobs, and the fact is that the Porsche now spends most of the time in his garage. And much as I’d like to be piling the miles on it, there’s probably a limit to how far you can push even a 40-year friendship. Besides, we’re both quite taken with the idea of something older and a bit more ‘classic’ (perhaps even air-cooled; watch this space…), and if that’s the way we eventually go then the 996 will definitely have to find a caring new home. Interested? It’s a 1998-model 911 Carrera 2 Tiptronic. It’s taxed and tested to this coming November. Exterior colour is Arctic Silver, the interior is in wellpreserved blue leather (with memory front seats), and it comes with two sets of wheels: the original 18-inch rims and their Dunlop tyres (rears worn; fronts very good), and a set of aftermarket 19-inch items with Pirelli P Zeros – and all four of which have masses of tread left. Other benefits include two nearly new air-con condensers, two nearly-new keys, and obviously a literally brand-new windscreen – thus far with not a single stonechip on it; I hope it’s not me who picks up the first… Asking price is £22,500 or near offer, and the car can be viewed by appointment not far from Junction 7 of the M40 near Oxford. For more information call owner Chris Moyses on 07802 586573, or simply e-mail me at email@example.com. 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
Twist and shout
Shearing off a crucial bolt when you try to undo it is enough to make anyone raise their voice, says Chris Horton. But this time it wasn’t entirely bad news. Just a minor setback... 924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: None Cars: 924S, LHD 944, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985/2, 1998 Mileages: 73,000 (996) Owned for: 5, 8, 3 years Mods/options: In total, far too much to list here! Other vehicles owned: E28 & E39 5-series BMWs, VW LT van, and Rover P6s beyond number… Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Last report: July 2008 THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Dealing with some long-standing engine issues, and with some not entirely unexpected results...
orgive me if I don’t get too excited about our current obsession with recycling. Never mind that much of the stuff we dutifully put in our ‘green’ rubbish bins probably ends up in the very same landfill sites whose working lives we’re meant to be extending. No, what makes me smile wryly is that almost by definition many of we olderPorsche enthusiasts have been quietly, happily and thriftily
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
recycling for years. I certainly have – as anyone who has seen inside my garage would surely agree. Never throwing things away has its downsides. You often end up surrounded by what to most people is unsightly and worthless junk. You’re branded a cheapskate. And you can waste an awful lot of time trying to find a home for some piece of automotive hardware that ought long ago to have been melted down and turned into something more useful, like a beer can or a crisp packet. Somehow, though, I can’t bring myself to dump that beautifully made 944 camshaft housing, or those redundant front-suspension lower wishbones. Yes, I know that my own 1985/2 car now has the earlier, lower-tech but ultimately far more future-proof steel ‘A’-arms, with easily replaceable VW ball-joints, but you never know: one day I might need the original parts to finish off that painstaking, 100 per cent authentic restoration. All of which explains why this month I have mostly been ‘doing’ 944 alternator mounting brackets – and finding out the hard way that mixing and matching the various components of what appear to be broadly similar cars can be, well, something of a challenge. It all started several years ago, when I first fitted a new polyrib
alternator drive-belt to my lefthand-drive 1985/2 car, and realised that even with the clever adjusting strut detached at both ends, the generator itself was free to move barely a fraction of a centimetre. So solidly seized was the big M10 pivot bolt – either in the threaded hole in the alternator, or more likely inside the cast-aluminium bracket – that the only way of moving the generator far enough to fit the new belt was to use that ingenious adjusting link physically to pull the unit in towards the engine and then to push it back out again. Which was hardly what it was designed to do, and plainly a technique with no long-term future. Sooner or later something – maybe the alternator casing, almost certainly the strut – would break, big-style. What finally goaded me into action was the increasingly pressing need to do something about the engine’s toothed rubber drive-belts before one of them actually broke. (I’ve owned the car for nearly nine years and probably 40,000 miles, and in all that time I’ve done nothing more than give the belts the occasional cursory glance – and they can’t have been recent fitments when I bought it.) Replacing said belts would, of course, entail removing the entire front half of the plastic cover (which would bring its own minor
difficulties; more on those in a moment). And doing that would mean first of all removing both the alternator and the steering-pump drive-belts. And because I was in no great hurry to get the car running again I could at last get to grips with that seized-up pivot bolt. I’ll spare you the grisly details. Suffice it to say that with the alternator and the bracket duly unbolted from the car and secured in a large vice, and a 19mm socket and breaker bar on the bolt head (plus a four-foot scaffold pole for a little extra leverage…), it took barely a couple of seconds completely and convincingly to twist off said bolt head. I’ve seen boiled carrots put up a better fight. I was neither surprised nor too disheartened by this turn of events, however, having already reconciled myself to buying both a replacement bracket and pivot bolt (second-hand, of course!), but now the major concern was to get the various components completely apart without causing irreparable damage to the alternator. That particular task was ably handled for me by my longsuffering welder and fabricator friend, Eugene Farrell. First he cut right through the bracket, in a line parallel with the pivot bolt. Next he made a couple of further cuts through the bolt and what had
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
Er, no, actually. The first part of my cunning plan went swimmingly, and soon the 924S alternator was swinging gently on its newly installed bracket, and with the two electrical connections secured on the back. (I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit the waterproof plastic cover that also ducts cooling air into the physically bigger 944 alternator, but I concluded that wouldn’t matter too much, and certainly not given the fairly short period during which I planned to use the 924S generator.) But then I realised that in addition to its smaller-diameter M8 pivot bolt the 924S’s alternator also has a smaller-diameter M8 fixing where it’s attached to the
become its surrounding aluminium ‘jacket’. This allowed the centre section of the pivot bolt to be pulled clear, and then the two end sections of the bolt – one threaded, the other plain – to be eased out of the alternator casing separately. In the event the casing didn’t escape entirely unscathed – the threaded hole really needs reclaiming with one of Würth’s ingenious Time-Sert inserts; the spacer bush at the other end has some minor cutting-disc scars on it – but on reflection I decided that it would probably do the job. By this time, however, I had started thinking about possible alternatives. Certainly the original
Forgive me if I don’t get too excited about our current obsession with recycling... 944 alternator wouldn’t need too much attention before I could put it back into service. But, no less certainly, I was going to need a new bracket and matching pivot bolt. So why not – for the time being, at least – use the 924S alternator I had in stock, together with its mounting bracket? I would need a replacement pivot bolt for that, too (the 924S bolt is an M8 item, the 944’s a larger-diameter M10), but I could easily improvise that by cutting a piece from a length of M8 studding (itself bought to act as a slide hammer for extracting the clutch-fork pivot when I renewed the 924S’s clutch), and then simply whizzing a washer and a selflocking nut on each end. Job done!
adjusting strut. Fantastic... And that – without a suitable eye to screw into the appropriate end of the strut – is about as far as I’ve progressed with this particular venture. I know that I shall be able to get all the bits I need from the guys up at Porsch-Apart (including the correct 944 alternator bracket with the larger hole), but rather than bother them with a small order (not that they ever complain!) I prefer to wait until I’ve a longer list of all the other bits and pieces I know I shall need for various on-going repair projects. And since even on a good day that’s now going to cost me several hundred quid (a powered steering rack and hoses for the 924S, plus a fuel tank
and various bits of pipework, and then a replacement steering rack for the 944, which I note with some disappointment is now leaking fluid out of the two concertina-style dust covers), that will just have to wait for a week or three. What, though, of the timing-belt cover? As I said, I had on several occasions been able to undo the M6 bolts (ie 10mm spanner) securing the top half of the front section, and by virtue of which I had been able to ascertain that the two belts did at least look OK. But the bottom half of that front section – and behind which are most of the tensioners, idler wheels and so on – had always put up rather more of a struggle. The problem was that two of the bolts must at some time have been over-tightened into the threaded inserts moulded into the rear half of the cover, because whenever I tried to undo them said inserts simply rotated within the plastic. And I had for that reason left well alone, because although I was confident that I could eventually get the mouldings off without too much difficulty (they’re only plastic, after all), the process was more than likely to damage or even destroy them altogether – and I didn’t really want either to drive the car with part of the cover missing, or else to have to take the entire front end of the engine apart in order to fit a new back half of the casing. Or not just then, anyway. Now, though, there was literally no alternative, and since my
Clockwise from top left: pivot bolt snapped like a carrot; probably rusted into mounting bracket; axial saw cut through split bush helped extract remaining piece of bolt; belts seem OK; plastic cover took some ingenuity to remove, though, and more work is still needed; but alternator seems to have survived more or less unscathed
planned front-end engine overhaul would in any case mean taking off the back half of the cover, there would equally obviously be no great problem if it was damaged beyond repair. And in the event, of course, the task proved to be almost laughably easy. First I tried – as I had on several previous occasions – to grip the plastic surrounding the offending inserts with a long-nosed self-grip wrench, in the hope that I could thereby prevent them rotating, but as usual that failed miserably. Finally I selected one of my longest and strongest flat-bladed screwdrivers, and having eased the tip into the small gap between the two halves of the timing case where they were still joined by the bolts, simply levered them violently apart. And what do you know? The front half of the cover immediately slipped over the small plain spacer bush moulded into each of the two affected holes, leaving both the bush and the bolt embedded in the insert in the back half – and I reckon that with a bit of effort (and obviously much better access) I can now get the bolts out and then with a bit of fettling reclaim both mouldings. And even if I can’t there’s always Porsch-Apart… 911 & PORSCHE WORLD
Happy days (above) – and then this happened (right). Larger photograph shows (obviously!) the broken rear box, and behind it the second-hand replacement from Porsch-Apart
Trouble and strife
Just when you think nothing else can possibly go wrong... Chris Horton describes how last summer his 924S suddenly and decisively rejected its exhaust system 924S/944/996 Owner: Chris Horton Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxfordshire Previous Porsches owned: None Cars: 924S, LHD 944, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileages: 74,000 (996) Owned for: 6, 9, 4 years Mods/options: In total, far too much to list here! Other vehicles owned: E28 & E39 5-series BMWs, VW LT van, and Rover P6s beyond number… Contact: email@example.com Last report: January 2009 issue THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: 924S exhaust problems, fixing a hole in its roof, and a solution to the 996’s creaking windscreen
hat is it about certain cars that seems to make them almost unbelievably troublesome? I feel as if I’m reaching the point with the 924S where relatively few of its original and now 23-year-old components remain, and yet still it contrives to throw up new and ever more awkward faults, inevitably when I’m least expecting them. I don’t think I could go as far as to describe it as
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
unreliable – I can’t recall that it’s ever failed to finish a journey, which is quite surprising when you read what follows – but it certainly seems to be just one damned thing after another. It’s almost as if the car has had a curse put on it. A year ago, you might remember, during our first week back at work in January 2008, it saved the day when my wife unexpectedly had to drive it to her office in Milton Keynes after her BMW wouldn’t start. I used it fairly regularly myself for the next couple of months, albeit with a gradually lengthening ‘to do’ list, and then during the spring my stepdaughter, Joëlle, took it over again (she had last used it back in 2003), after her ancient Rover 2200 finally bit the dust. And that, I fondly thought, was that. A few teething problems to sort out as and when (the noisy stainlesssteel rear silencer, and not least the still not entirely reliable windscreen wipers), but certainly nothing that would be likely to cause me too much grief. And at least the bloody thing was off my driveway at last… The first sign of a problem came when I had to ‘borrow’ the car back for our big front-engined group test in early June (see the August 2008 issue). By this time I hadn’t even seen the ‘S’ for several weeks, much less heard it running or driven it, but as soon as I accelerated away from Joëlle’s village on the evening before
the allotted day I could tell that all was not well with the exhaust system. After only a few miles behind the wheel I had gloomily decided that it was beyond doubt making that distinctive, harder-edged chuffing sound that heralds a leaking manifold gasket (or gaskets, of course). So much for the notion that no news is good news. Sure enough, when I got the car home that evening and had a look under the bonnet it was immediately obvious that two of the eight exhaust-manifold securing studs were missing, another had broken (so again the nut and washer had gone AWOL), and at least three of the remaining five locknuts were loose enough for me to be able to spin the special thick washers beneath them with the end of a screwdriver. No wonder it was noisy. But why on earth had this happened in the first place? I had carefully fitted eight good replacement studs (albeit scavenged, I seem to recall, from an old BMW cylinder head) before I installed the engine, together with four new gaskets, and not least a full set of brand-new Porsche washers and locknuts. I was, frankly, mystified – and more than a little annoyed. Luckily the car survived the trip to and from our photo shoot more or less unscathed (even so, see the panel opposite), but the task of rectifying the exhaust problem joined
the bottom end of my expanding to-do list rather than – as it so obviously should have done – the very top. Joëlle and I agreed that she would soldier on with the car for as long as possible – not least because there was nothing else she could then use for commuting to her office in High Wycombe, and unfortunately I just didn’t have the time to get stuck in to it there and then. It was foolish of me, of course, but I knew from experience that there would be precious little space in which to work down on the righthand side of the engine, and although I was at that stage fairly sure that I could get the manifold off (actually, I should say manifolds; there are two entirely separate castings), I didn’t quite know what I would do if – as I suspected – one or more of the M8-threaded holes in the cylinder head needed to be reclaimed with a special insert; there was certainly no room in there to start drilling and tapping. And, if only on the basis that dropped toast always lands butter side down, it was an odds-on bet that the broken studs had in any case snapped below the level of the head casting, leaving me nothing to grip in order to unscrew them in the first place. The obvious answer would be to take off the cylinder head, but I was understandably reluctant to disturb the internals of an otherwise
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
smoothly running engine. The only other alternative would be to remove the complete power unit again – and you can probably imagine how utterly enthralled I was by the prospect of doing that. Besides, even then it was quite possible that I would still have to remove the head to have any necessary machining work carried out. No surprise, then, that at one particularly low point even I,
champion of the automotive lost cause that I have become, seriously considered scrapping the car. But then just a couple of weeks later everything changed, suddenly and dramatically, when the Dansk stainless-steel rear silencer quite literally fell off onto the road during Joëlle’s journey home from work one summer evening. Now I really would have to do something about the
LOOK BACK IN ANGER? If you think I’m overstating the notion that the 924S might have a dark and malevolent side to its nature, consider this. The most obvious mechanical problem when I borrowed it for that 10-car photo shoot last June was, as I’ve described elsewhere, the blowing exhaust manifold. In its own way no less annoying, though, was the driver’s door mirror, which seemed to have developed a severe case of what can best be called erectile dysfunction. Essentially the body of the mirror had worked loose from the base, screwed to the door panel, and although thanks to both the wiring passing up through it and the relatively tall spigot on which it sits it was in no danger of actually falling off, the fact was that as a means of seeing what was coming up behind on the motorway it was just about useless. Look carefully at the long shot of the car on page 96 in the August 2008 issue and you might see what I mean. What had happened, in fact, was that the threaded sleeve that passes up through the mirror base and tensions its main return spring had contrived to unscrew itself – probably because Joëlle is in the sadly increasingly necessary habit of pushing the mirror in towards the window when she leaves any car parked outside her house, and then obviously pulling it straight again when she’s ready to go. (It seems to be either that or in many places lose your mirrors these days.) Over a period of time the friction had in this case gradually wound the sleeve completely out of the thread in the mirror body. (Logic suggests it probably wouldn’t happen on the left-hand side of the car, because here the movement would naturally tend to tighten the sleeve.) The only real difficulty comes from the fact that in order first to re-engage and then tighten the sleeve you not only have to take both the mirror and its mounting pedestal completely off the car, but also to separate it from the electric cables feeding the internally mounted adjustment motor. (There’s no other way in which you can get the correct splined driver into the matching end of the sleeve.) And the
situation – and quickly, too. Luckily Joëlle was able to retrieve the quite substantial piece of metal before any other vehicle hit it, and while it was now plainly completely useless, it did at least give me some clue as to why it had failed so spectacularly. (It might also have been difficult later to claim a replacement with only a length of broken pipe to show for it.) My own theory is that the two
rather slender rearmost brackets (above) had failed, almost certainly one after the other rather than simultaneously. This had left the entire weight of the box supported only by the exhaust pipe itself, and eventually that, too, had given up the unequal struggle with gravity, not surprisingly at its weakest point – or in other words the junction with the box. Whether this was related to the
only way to do that is to take off the door’s internal trim panel and the plastic membrane behind it, and then to find some point at which to cut the cables. I would have assumed that Porsche might have provided some convenient plug-and-socket arrangement for this very purpose, but for some unaccountable reason – or unless I’m missing something blindingly obvious – it seems not. (And it begs the obvious question about how the thing was assembled in the first place.) No surprise, then, that the car no longer has an electrically adjustable mirror on the driver’s door (not that it ever moved with any degree of enthusiasm), and for several weeks over the summer was also missing the relevant internal door trim. (I didn’t want to put that back without fitting a new plastic membrane, otherwise the first good rainstorm we had would immediately ruin it.) I tried to convince Joëlle that the stripped-out, race-car look is rather fashionable these days, but I’m not sure that she really believed me… In the end, though, I admitted defeat, and for about a fiver bought a roll of clear Fablon (the sticky-backed plastic film made famous by children’s TV programme Blue Peter; mine came from a Focus DIY store), and with Joëlle’s help simply made my own membrane. And that – so far, anyway – seems to be working perfectly. Some you lose, but some you actually win!
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
OUR CARS I mentioned a while ago that some previous owner had fitted a rather nasty roof aerial to the 924S, and that its by now deformed rubber mounting block was allowing rainwater into the cabin – after first filling up the plastic lens of the central courtesy light. My immediate answer was a strip of heavy-duty gaffer tape over the frankly rather irregular hole. It wasn’t clever, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but it did the job, albeit at the expense of eventually lifting still more paint from the roof (see below). I haven’t yet been able to find an alternative aerial that I like, but in the search for a slightly longer-term solution I’ve installed a tightly fitting rubber grommet. That, in turn, meant both enlarging the hole slightly and certainly making it a bit more even, which thanks to this special stepped, er, hole drill (what else is a drill for?) was dead easy. So easy, in fact, that you have to be careful not to get carried away and make it far too big. Much better than trying to do it with a twist drill, though. This one came from Screwfix (www.screwfix.com), but most good tool suppliers sell them.
fact that the silencer had previously been very noisy at certain engine speeds I can’t say. The fact is, though, that the otherwise identical replacement that I later fitted to my 944 (Euro Car Parts, from whom I’d bought the first pipe, changed it without hesitation) was immediately as quiet and refined as any standard Porsche unit, and so I’m inclined to think that the broken box must have had some manufacturing defect or other. These things happen. What, though, to do in the shorter term? Luckily, enough of the Dansk pipe remained, in conjunction with the still seemingly serviceable middle box, to provide some degree of silencing, so Joëlle was able to continue using the car for work, and
then a few days later to bring it to me for attention. I, meanwhile, had been on the phone to my usual secondhand parts source, Porsch-Apart in Lancashire (01706 824053), and for a very reasonable £50 plus VAT and carriage they had speedily sent me a used but still sound Porsche box. That went on without any problem at all (I was able to use again the sealing ring that fits between the pipe ends), and although there obviously remained the small matter of the exhaust manifold to attend to, at least the car was mobile once more. Or not, as the case may be. Incredibly, just a few days later Joëlle was back on the phone to say that the exhaust had suddenly started sounding ‘like a tractor again’, but on
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE… Back in the July 2008 issue I described how last April the 996 had been fitted with a brand-new windscreen, but that for some reason there was subsequently a rather ominous – and certainly a very irritating and distracting – creaking sound coming from that region of the car whenever it was in motion. The Autoglass fitter who did the job for us had confidently (but not entirely convincingly) suggested at the time that this would gradually disappear, but needless to say it didn’t. And then, even while we were wondering just how much creaking could be deemed to be acceptable, insult was heaped upon injury when during a particularly heavy early-summer downpour (the first of many, of course) the car began almost literally to fill with water from a point somewhere along the top edge of the glass. Precisely what – and where – the problem was neither I nor Chris Moyses, the car’s owner, can say. What I certainly can tell you, however, is that without hesitation Autoglass took the Carrera back and dealt with the problem, I believe by taking the glass out again and resealing it, and since then it has been through the local car wash many times without incident. Better still (in some senses, anyway), the creaking sound has disappeared completely. Which is nice, because
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
this occasion apparently because of a hole, or even a breakage, at the front end of the middle section. Fantastic. I happened to be away at the time, however, and that left her little alternative but to have a local garage cobble together whatever short-term fix it could manage. That enabled Joëlle to drive the car again for the next week or so, but soon that repair, too, failed big time, and sensibly she decided to abandon the 924S on the road outside her house and go and buy herself a proper car – in this case a fairly late-model Audi A3. Almost a Porsche, then… And that’s about as far as I can go with the story for the time being. I feel – at the risk of boring rigid all you 911 owners who’ve made it this far –
that it’s worth explaining in some detail how I solved both that and the exhaust-manifold problem (it might just help you 924S/944 owners!), but as you can see I’m running out of space. Suffice it to say that, despite a few further setbacks (oh, how we all laughed…), the ‘S’ was back on the road again by December, and even if still not fully sorted – as I alluded to at the beginning – isn’t so very far from that state of affairs, either. Add to that my hugely enjoyable trackday in Ken Coad’s and Ian Gardiner’s almost identical 924S (more on this in the next issue, I hope) and I’m afraid that any idea of now abandoning this somehow appealing little car is rapidly evaporating. Looks like I’m in it for the long haul now…
since just one 911 & Porsche World reader expressed even the slightest interest in buying it last year (and because since then its value has probably halved) it looks as though Chris and I will probably be driving it for some time to come. Suits me… Finally, perhaps I can pass on from reader Simon Stahn what could well be a very useful tip for we 996 enthusiasts. (And it almost certainly applies to both Boxsters and 997s, too. All modern Porsches, in fact.) Simon, who owns a 2004-model Carrera, read what I said last July about our car’s habit of sounding the alarm if you leave it standing idle for more than a few days and then – because the remote key fob doesn’t seem to work – attempt to gain entry to it by turning the key in the door lock. And he reckons he has the answer. ‘If the car has been standing for (or so I believe) more than three days,’ writes Simon, ‘it goes into a type of “sleep” mode, in order to save some power from running all of the other electrical systems. If you put the key in the door and turn it once anti-clockwise, but don’t remove the key from the door, the car “wakes up”, and you can then press the button on the key to deactivate the alarm and unlock the door. If it doesn’t work the first time, don’t remove the key – just turn it again, and then press the button again. Done like this, the horn/alarm should not sound. Unfortunately, I usually get to drive my 996 only at the weekend, and so I have to use this procedure most times!’ Many thanks for that, Simon. We’ll give it a try!
STEVE BENNETT PORSCHE 944 LUX While my 944 might look pretty much perfect, the driving experience is far from and the list of jobs grows. The suspension is pretty tired so I’m considering my options. I fancy the custom Koni set up that fellow reporter Ken Coad has developed for his 924S. Also I’ve really got to sort the engine mounts out.
PAUL DAVIES PORSCHE CARRERA 3.2 TARGA The Targa continues to do its job as a ‘daily driver’ admirably, but the lack of passenger heating needs urgent attention! A recent 550 miles round trip from home to Norfolk showed (again) just how much fun the car can be, but the rear Avons are beginning to look as if replacement is just around the corner.
CHRIS HORTON 924S/944 LUX/996 C2 Still no news on either the 944 (now fully 10 years in my keeping) or the 996, but the 924S – with the problems described here finally overcome – continues to provide (more or less) reliable daily transport. I’d love to tell you how many miles I’ve done in it this year, but needless to say the odometer has packed up!
SI MITCHELL 911 CARRERA 3.2 Just fitted a Brey-Krause front strut brace to my 3.2, as usual (with BK products) the brace fitted extremely well and is good quality. Have continued to use the car every day and love it to bits, but am considering selling it as the thought of a new project is always on my mind. Serious enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
PETER SIMPSON 944 S2 3.0 The 911 is still playing hide and seek so I decided to buy a new car for the winter months, a 944 S2. I have booked it in for a clutch at AMD Technik as it seems to still be on its original and it’s getting very heavy. You will be able to follow the progress of the 944 in 911 & Porsche World along with the return of the 911. I can’t wait.
JOHNNY TIPLER PORSCHE 964 The Peppermint Pig 964 has a new MoT, but needed two new front Potenzas because its negative camber scrubbed off tread on the tyres’ inner shoulders. Main beam cable on one of the ultra-bright HIDS4U headlights needed replacing,otherwise it sailed through.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
TALES OF THE NOT ENTIRELY UNEXPECTED Mission creep, it’s called. When what should be a relatively simple, straightforward repair job becomes, well, nothing less than a war of attrition. Chris Horton records the first part of the long saga of how – in the end! – his 924S gained two replacement exhaust manifolds
CHRIS HORTON 924S/944/996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985/2, 1998 Mileage: 73,000 (996) Owned for: 7, 10, 5 years Mods/options: In total, far too much to list here! Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: More 924S exhaust problems, basically – and more to come!
n my last report, you might just recall, I was facing the not exactly thrilling prospect of dealing with a number of broken and missing exhaust-manifold studs in the 924S. That would have been annoying at the best of times, but in this instance was doubly so because when I installed the ‘new’ engine, in the summer of 2006, I had also fitted a full set of eight seemingly perfect replacement studs (together with brand-new heat-resistant Porsche locknuts; the special thick washers, I reasoned, it would be OK to use again). I knew, too, that in order now to gain access to the broken bits of the studs, which would inevitably be jammed in the partially downward-facing side of
the cylinder head, I would need either to remove the head or – to avoid the not insignificant cost of a new gasket – the complete engine. And even then I might still have to take off the cylinder head if it turned out to need any specialist reclamation work beyond the usual drilling and tapping that would likely be needed if said studs couldn’t be unscrewed, or if the threads in the other holes were badly damaged. You can probably understand why I’d simply taken the car off the road again. I have no photos of the situation as it was at that moment – I think I had temporarily lost the will to live – but suffice it to say that on first inspection at least two of the studs (together with the nuts and washers, of course) appeared to have fallen out completely, but fortunately without wrecking the threaded holes – or so it seemed. A further three, as I proved by poking about in the holes with a matchstick, had snapped off just below the surface of the cylinder head. And, worryingly, I still don’t know why – or, for that matter, how the remaining three studs had then managed to survive. In truth, all eight of the studs that I had fitted
were taken from an old BMW cylinder head that I happened to have in the garage at the time, and as a result were probably made from hardened rather than high-tensile steel (or so reckoned Nick Fulljames at Redtek, when he later extracted the remnants of the broken ones for me; more on this in a moment or two), but simple logic suggests they must do exactly the same job on the BMW engine as I intended them to do on the Porsche unit. Why, then, they had failed so spectacularly – and so quickly, too – remains a mystery. I’d be glad to hear any theories. Once I got stuck into it, of course, the job was far less of a problem than I had anticipated; just timeconsuming and tedious rather than difficult. (And by now I must have done it at least half a dozen times on at least four of these front-engined Porsches.) After I had set and locked the crankshaft in the correct position with a special toothed bar bolted against the flywheel ring gear, and slipped the camshaft drive-belt off its upper sprocket (this time even I didn’t bother taking it off the crankshaft sprocket; I intended this to be a quick job...), the head itself came off with no great drama.
That said, I did have an anxious few moments undoing the cap-headed screws round the waterway at the front left-hand corner of the casting. These often corrode very badly, and I remembered all too clearly snapping one like a carrot when back in 2005 I had taken the head off the car’s original engine to investigate why it had been running so badly. It was my inability to extract the broken piece of that screw from the cylinder block – and breaking off the hardened special tool that was meant to be doing the job – that in the end led me to scrap that motor and buy another. In this more recent instance, however, luckily a combination of fairly intense heat (from a small gas blowtorch) and a few squirts of penetrating oil did the trick. Needless to say, I found some better screws (from another 944 engine) when I later came to put everything back together again, and I also liberally coated them in copper-based grease – just in case I should ever need to take them out again, you understand.
I was quite surprised, too, by the seemingly parlous state of the cylinder-head gasket. It looked very much as if it was about to disintegrate completely, but that did make me feel a little bit better about needing to take the head off in the first place. A stitch in time, and all that... At least, though, all four cylinder bores seemed to be in near-perfect condition, with none of the apparently minor but probably disastrous scoring that I had found in the car’s original engine, and which I now suspect was the main reason why it had been losing so much compression. Good news. The next task, very obviously, was somehow to remove those three broken studs, and this time – once bitten, twice shy – I wasn’t even going to attempt to use any form of proprietary extractor. Perhaps – in the right hands – these gadgets do what’s so often claimed of them. All too frequently, though, I’ve seen them simply snap under the strain, and then, because they’re made from ultra-hard but
inherently brittle tool steel (which, of course, is why they break), simply compound the problem. Neither did I hold much hope for the alternative of drilling out most or, indeed, all of each offending stud, and then tapping a new thread directly in the ensuing hole. For that to stand even the slightest chance of success you have to be far more accurate than I’ve ever been capable of with a hand-held Black & Decker, and frankly I just don’t need the stress. Besides, by this time I had sought the advice of the aforementioned Nick Fulljames at Redtek up in Croughton, Northants (www.redtek.co.uk; 01869 811880), and he helpfully suggested (assuming the studs had broken near the surface of the head casting) the tantalising possibility of steadily building up the ends with blobs of TIG-weld (to provide a means of grabbing hold of them with a self-grip wrench) and then, aided by the large amount of heat that would be generated in the process, simply winding them out as normal.
It worked, too. In just a few minutes Nick created a roughly centimetre-long projection on each stud (and that despite the fact that they had in each case broken a few millimetres below the surface of the head). This, as he had cheerily predicted, gave him just enough purchase on them with a hefty Mole wrench, and soon all three slugs of metal were cooling off harmlessly in a bucket of water. Result! In fact, that wasn’t quite the end of the matter, because one of the other holes in the head needed attention to its damaged thread, but Nick quickly drilled that out to the appropriate oversize, and then graciously allowed me first to tap a new thread and then to wind in the correct M8 insert. (I think he had deduced by now that even I would find it difficult to cock that up...) I have to tell you that he was full of praise, too, for the fact that I had coated each of the original studs in copper-based grease. If I’m honest I’ll have to admit here that I didn’t take that precaution this time round, but then I
The first part of the task of taking off the cylinder head was no problem (above, far left), but the two sockethead screws at the lefthand front corner of the casting were heavily corroded, and both needed lots of penetrating oil and heat to persuade them to undo without shearing. It was precisely this problem – and the breakage of first one of the screws, and then the special extractor tool we tried using (above left and above) – that caused Horton to condemn the 924S’s original engine, back in autumn 2005
Cylinder-head gasket (below, far left) seemed in a pretty poor state, so it was probably just as well that this job gave a chance to change it. Bores (middle) seemed fine, though, which was very good news. Broken exhaust-manifold studs could have been a problem – and would have been impossible to tackle with the head still in the car – but Nick Fulljames built up a blob of TIG-weld on each and then simply unscrewed them
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
RUNNING REPORTS hope that the chances of my ever having to do this particular job again are slightly less than zero. Nick finished off his own handiwork by quickly and confidently refacing the head with a (perfectly flat) carborundum stone to take off any remaining traces of gasket material that I might earlier have missed with my scraper, simultaneously rinsing it in his degreasing tank, and once he was satisfied that he had eliminated any marks blew it dry with a high-pressure air-line. Interestingly, this unorthodox refacing process highlighted a number of tiny marks in just one combustion chamber, but Nick wasn’t concerned. ‘Some kind of soft foreign matter must somehow have passed through, and then been squashed between the head and the piston crown,’ he suggested. ‘I’ve no idea what it could have been,’ he added, ‘but whatever it was hasn’t done any lasting damage, and it’s long ago been blown out of the exhaust port. I should just forget about it.’ Suits me, Nick... So, progress at last. Er, well, not quite. Or not as much – or as quickly – as I’d hoped, anyway. The following Saturday afternoon, unexpectedly seized with a burst of enthusiasm (well, this was late November...), I was out there on the driveway
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
in my extra-thick winter overalls and woolly hat, all ready to lower the cylinder head back on the block, when I noticed that one of the eight outer valve springs appeared to be broken – and even using hand pressure alone it certainly took a lot less effort to push open the relevant valve than it did the remaining seven. Still, at least I’d spotted the problem before refitting the head and effectively ‘ruining’ a brand-new gasket. (Even from Euro Car Parts a head gasket alone for one of these engines costs around £60 a time including VAT.) It might also be the very simple reason, I decided, why despite running well enough this replacement engine had always had a minor but none the less discernible harshness to it, particularly at idle. I could live with a broken valve spring if it brought with it the prospect of finding the cause of that particular problem. Obviously, though, I was first going to need a replacement spring. Now I’m sure that somewhere in my garage I have a set of eight pairs of the things. I certainly have a spare cylinder head from which I removed all the valves and, therefore, the springs. Typically, though, I couldn’t find them (too much stuff, not enough memory...), and as a result
had to reconcile myself to retiring indoors for an early beer. While I was drinking it a quick scan of the Euro Car Parts website (www.eurocarparts.com) suggested that I would be able to buy an entire set of new springs for around £25 plus VAT, and even though that would mean a trip back to Nick’s to borrow his oh-so-easy-touse valve-spring compressor – and then to ECP in Aylesbury – the benefits to the engine’s own efficiency and reliability would surely be well worth the slight delay and extra expense. Guess what, though? That £25 plus VAT, as I discovered when I went to collect my new valve springs, wasn’t for an engine set, but for a single valve set. Just one pair, in other words: inner and outer. I felt a little shortchanged, and perhaps even slightly foolish for having assumed that components like these might be so cheap, but obviously I actually needed only one ‘set’ anyway, and so in truth it was no great problem. I can’t help feeling, though, that at around £200 plus VAT for a full engine set of valve springs these must be, pro rata, among the most expensive parts in any Porsche power unit, and certainly a 944 motor. The next job, with the cylinder head now safely
back on the block again (I didn’t bother lapping in the valve whose spring I replaced; in fact, I’m proud to say that I didn’t even lift it off its seat to have a look at that!), was clearly to refit the two exhaust manifolds. Needless to say, I had on this occasion – and despite the cost – bought from Porsche a full set of brand-new original-equipment fixings: self-locking nuts, thick washers, studs, and not least gaskets. (I seem to recall that even that modest little collection of parts came to about £70!) I knew from the restricted access when I had first started this repair job that the two cast-iron manifolds I intended using would have to be manoeuvred back into position once the head was on, but crucially before I fitted the camshaft housing. (Ideally I would have fitted the manifolds to the head, and then the head to the engine, but that would have made the whole assembly far too heavy for me easily to replace it on my own.) But there was no way that I could get the outer manifold to slip neatly over the new studs, even by jacking the engine up as far as I dared, and so I decided to use the pair of slightly slimmer tubular manifolds that I realised I had in stock. And that, as you will see next time, was my Big Mistake...
For many months now I’ve written no more than a brief résumé of what’s been happening to each of the three project cars I look after. Just to recap: the 944 (above) is ‘resting’ on my driveway, while I gather the bits and pieces I need for its long-planned rejuvenation; the 924S you can read about here (or the first part of the story, anyway); and the 996, apart from the odd sortie to have the engine oil and filter changed for the DIY feature in the last issue of 911 & Porsche World, I have barely even seen, much less driven. It’s running beautifully, though, with now fully 25,000 miles on its Autofarm Silsleeve engine, and the other Chris seems to have reconciled himself to the fact that since even with that power unit it’s now probably worth no more than about £15,000, he might just as well keep it and simply enjoy it for many years to come. Sounds good to me.
One manifold-stud hole needed drilling and an insert fitting (far left). Remaining pics show odd marks in one combustion chamber, new manifold fixings, new head gasket, broken valve spring, and finally head back on with tubular exhaust manifolds. More on these next time...
BACK IN BUSINESS! A sudden burst of enthusiasm and the resulting activity means that Chris Horton’s 924S is fast becoming the satisfyingly usable daily driver it so obviously should be – but it leaves him with some serious catching up to do as far as these Our cars reports are concerned
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: about 76,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: The end – I hope! – of the long 924S exhaust-system saga, and my plans for future reports
t’s quite a long time since my 924S last appeared in these pages – around eight months, in fact. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been neglecting it, however – or not quite as much as had become my habit, anyway. On the contrary. I have finally addressed most of the lesser technical issues that had been bugging me for ages, and perhaps most significantly I got round to first sourcing and
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
then installing the powerassisted steering the car had always so desperately needed. It also now has a leak-free replacement fuel tank and, as you’ll see from the how-to story elsewhere in this issue, a full set of new fuel lines. As a result the ‘S’ has been steadily racking up the miles (don’t ask me how many, though; the odometer still doesn’t work…), and in early March, even with the odd patch of snow still on the ground, I managed to take in a trackday at Bedford Autodrome. More on all that very soon, I promise. First, though, something of an apology – or at the very least an explanation. I like to think of myself as a reasonably logical, orderly sort of bloke, and because of that I always try to tell stories in a reasonably logical, orderly manner. Such has been the duration of this (continuing) project, however, and the many twists and turns that it seems to have taken along the way, that even I have
given up any real hope of recounting this particular tale in strict chronological sequence. Instead – and rather more usefully for anyone else in a similar situation – I shall over the course of my next few reports simply work through the list of what has broken, fallen off or otherwise failed, and no less importantly tell you how I subsequently fixed it. Much of my most recent previous report (in the January 2010 issue) dealt with some of what felt like the many and varied exhaust-system problems I had been experiencing since changing the car’s engine in 2006, and then getting it back on the road during 2007. To recap: in mid-2008 several of the exhaust-manifold studs either snapped or no less mysteriously fully unscrewed themselves from the cylinder head, and not long after that the Dansk stainless-steel rear silencer fractured just ahead of the main box, and literally fell off onto the
road. The latter obviously rather acute problem I solved at the time by fitting £50 worth of second-hand original-equipment box from Porsch-Apart. The former – which involved subsequently removing the cylinder head in order to extract the remnants of the broken studs – I finally fixed during early 2009. There were in the meantime a number of other glitches, not least a similar sudden breakage (this time the inevitable result of good, oldfashioned corrosion) in the main exhaust pipe, just
The hairline crack in one of the 924S’s tubular-steel exhaust manifolds (arrowed) was glaringly obvious once the unit was off the car, but otherwise virtually impossible to see. In fact, the fracture runs virtually all the way round the affected pipe, under the welded-on brace
RUNNING REPORTS ahead of the primary silencer, but after a shortterm repair by a local garage (using a welded-on sleeve) I eventually cured that cheaply enough with yet another second-hand unit from Porsch-Apart – discovering, in the process, that Porsche has used at least two slightly different sizes of pipe for these sometimes so-called transaxle cars. Presumably the larger, outwardly identical to the smaller unless you accurately measure the spacing of the holes in the connecting flanges, was for the later 2.7-litre engine. (And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the 944 Turbo uses a still larger-diameter exhaust pipe. Thanks, Porsche…) I also had a bit of a setback when in December 2008 I was on my way to the 911 & Porsche World Christmas lunch, and when yet again the car suddenly sounded as though the entire exhaust system was dropping apart. Fortunately I was barely a couple of miles into the journey, which I continued by trusty BMW 528i, and when I later investigated found the cause to have been the nuts and bolts securing the flanged joint between the two silencers somehow loosening off. In truth, the whole lot had fallen out and obviously disappeared, allowing the special conical sealing ring to escape, too, but I had a brand-new spare in the garage, and the fixings are common-orgarden M8 jobs. This time, needless to say, I used both new spring washers and special heat-resistant locknuts, and thus far there has been no recurrence of that particular annoyance. What, though, of my rather ominous hint at the end of that last report about the two exhaust manifolds? Having finally replaced the offending exhaust-manifold studs, together with similarly new
genuine Porsche nuts, washers and gaskets, I had for several reasons fitted the two tubular-steel headers that I suddenly remembered I had in stock, instead of the rather heavy cast-iron items hitherto on this engine. Immediately the car had sounded a little harsher and noisier than before, but I put that down to the fairly obvious fact that the tubular manifolds must be thinner-walled than the cast-iron ones. It was Malcolm Gomm, my MoT man, who put his finger on it. ‘Sounds to me like one of the gaskets is leaking,’ he suggested. ‘Or there might even be a crack in one of the manifolds.’ And he was, of course, absolutely right. I drove the car for a few weeks (the leak wasn’t significant enough for an MoT failure, said Malcolm), and when eventually I worked up the enthusiasm for yet another major DIY session, and took the headers off the car, I discovered a hairline crack in the welded joint between pipes one and four. Why I hadn’t spotted it while I was fitting those tubular manifolds I don’t know. I hadn’t been looking for it, I suppose. And maybe the crack was a lot smaller then. Either way, on this occasion I did what I should have done in the first place, and by removing both the steering shaft and (yet again!) the front exhaust pipe managed to create enough space to squeeze in both cast-iron headers, manoeuvring them round the nearby engine mount. (No point in having one manifold of each type, I decided, even though that’s what my 944 Lux has had since I bought it.) And that – on the exhaust front, at least – was that. Last autumn I had to fit yet another second-hand middle box, when its ageing predecessor split open, but with a good Porsch-Apart
replacement already in stock it took me only half an hour to change it. Next time: fixing a faulty headlamp switch, fun and games with the windscreen wipers, tracking down an elusive misfire, and how two tiny holes in the scuttle spelled death for the ECU during last summer’s rainstorms. I might even manage an update on the 996. But nothing – I sincerely hope! – on the ‘S’ exhaust system… Front silencer box shown on the far right was a secondhand item from PorschApart that got Horton out of trouble last autumn, when its predecessor finally rotted through and split. It has since been replaced by another similar item, but this time without the unwanted kink in the pipe (arrowed). The pipe alone on the left was salvaged from a similar failure a couple of years ago, and our man’s plan is to have a welder friend splice it to the aforementioned box It’s almost impossible to spot – from under the car, anyway – the subtle but quite significant difference between seemingly identical 924S/944 exhaust-system sections. The item on the right – an original 924S rear silencer box – has a measurement across these holes of around 82.0mm, but the one on the left – a stainless-steel Dansk box almost certainly intended for a 2.7-litre 944 – measures 84.5mm. Horton, lying on the ground under the car, struggled to mate mismatching units for half an hour before the penny dropped. The special conical sealing ring offers no clue, either, apparently fitting both pipes – but obviously standing slightly more proud in the smaller-diameter one. Not surprisingly the 944S2 pipe is even bigger, at almost 90.0mm across the bolt holes. And no doubt the 944 Turbo’s is larger still!
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
HALF-TIME SUBSTITUTE Fault-finding can sometimes be a frustratingly hit-or-miss affair, discovered Chris Horton – but immensely satisfying when finally you hit the spot
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: about 76,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Nailed at last: the long-running windscreen-wiper fault!
’m a big fan of diagnosis by substitution – as long as you have all the required spare parts, that is, either secondhand or, better still, new. And assuming, of course, that you can guarantee beyond doubt that – in either case – they are all working correctly. There’s no sense spending money on bits that only might cure the problem. Take the case of my 924S’s windscreen wipers. Certainly they had always worked after a fashion, but it was as if the familiar multi-position stalk on the steering column was not a switch, as such, but instead some kind of random function selector – with the added annoyance of a brief but confusing delay before anything useful happened. The only way to get the wiper arms moving at all (sometimes…) was to flick the stalk up two clicks, straight to the faster of the two wipe speeds. (If I was lucky, though, they would then work more or less normally at the slower speed!) And the washer function, which in theory should operate regardless of any other mode selected at the time, would in practice work only when
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
the stalk was pushed down into the intermittent-wipe position – but even then not every time. The selfpark facility was a joke. It must be – has to be – that switch, I thought. No problem. Somewhere at the back of the shed I had one from a Mark 1 VW Golf that I broke up many years ago, and since it would be all but identical to the one used in these earlier transaxle cars I fitted that instead. To be honest I can’t now remember precisely what effect this had – we’re talking the best part of a decade ago here – but I do seem to recall a temporary improvement, and then, when the wipers reverted to type, refitting the original switch. (As ever, I was trying to be both scientific and methodical…) And gradually, I suppose, I had simply learned to live with the wipers’ odd and frankly unhelpful behaviour. One day, a couple of years ago, I got around to taking out the wiper motor to try to test it (it’s under the rear edge of the bonnet, just to the left of the heater motor), but that was no great help, either. Detached from the wiper arms and their connecting linkage, it appeared to function normally with that original switch (which led me to suspect that for some reason the motor just couldn’t cope with the extra drag of the rubber blades on the glass), but no less confusingly I got pretty much the same behaviour from the spare motor I still had from that same Mark 1 Golf. So there didn’t seem much point – at that stage, anyway – in lashing out on a second-hand 924S unit. (I couldn’t fit the Golf motor to my car, because despite having the same multi-pin
connection as the Porsche unit, it’s quite a lot smaller.) Later still, I replaced the wiper relay buried under the left-hand end of the fascia (strictly speaking, I believe this has more to do with the intermittent-wipe facility, rather than the operation of the wiper motor itself, but it had to be worth a try), noting with some satisfaction when I opened up the old one for inspection that it had a number of those tell-tale ‘dry’ soldered joints, like the ones you see in knackered DME relays. Problem solved, I naturally thought, but needless to say the brandnew replacement made no difference, either. Oh, for goodness sake… Fast-forward a few years, to this spring’s TIPEC day at Gaydon, and I’m rummaging through the many boxes of used Porsche spares that Steve Peel of Telford-based CMS (01952 608911) has brought along to sell to the assembled throng. Among them are about a dozen early-type windscreenwiper switches in both black and that awful brown Porsche loved so much in the 1980s, and temptation gets the better of me. There’s no price on any of them, but surely they can’t be more than a tenner apiece? Steve, bless him, says I can have one FOC if I mention his company in the magazine (I never did find out what his retail price is, but I would guess not much more than £10), and that does it. Sorted. I wander off, clutching my new spare part – the silver bullet – like a winning lottery ticket. Back home that very same evening, I whip off – yet again – both the steering wheel and the headlamp-flasher stalk, carefully unplug the old
wiper control stalk, and no less carefully fit in its place the ‘new’ one; I don’t want to damage any of the minute electrical contacts. It must have taken me all of about three minutes. Headlamp switch and steering wheel back on – making sure the latter’s spokes are still in the same horizontal position at which I set them before removing it – reconnect the battery, key in the ignition, start the engine for a bit of extra grunt from the electrical system, and… And still the wipers don’t work properly!! In fact, they are EXACTLY THE BLOODY SAME as they were just moments before. But here’s a strange thing. Hot, annoyed, and frankly past caring by now, and reasoning that the continuing problem was at this stage unlikely to be the result of a faulty switch, I went inside for a beer or four, leaving the ‘new’ one still on the car. A week or so later, though, needing to clear some light summer rain off the windscreen, I mentally prepare myself to go through all the usual
His search for the root cause of his 924S’s wiper problems led Horton up all manner of blind alleys. Motor (top) seemed to work OK when detached from linkage, and likewise a VW Golf motor connected to the four-pin plug seemed to behave quite normally – but couldn’t be fitted to the 924S because although a similar shape to the Porsche unit it was physically rather smaller. Changing the under-dash relay (above, arrowed) made absolutely no difference, either, despite the fact that the original unit had a number of apparently ‘dry’ soldered joints on its printed circuit board. (As an aside, owner’s handbook is largely useless for precisely identifying relays, if not fuses. Despite being for a 1986-model 924S – which this car plainly is – it shows a significantly different layout!)
tiresome negotiations with the wipers, but it quickly becomes obvious that for some inexplicable reason they are now working just about as well as you would expect of any now 24-yearold Porsche. (Or perhaps I should say 24-year-old VW?) Entirely normally, in other words. It was the same the following day, and the day after that, and the day after that. And even while writing this I have just this minute walked downstairs, and once again proved to my satisfaction that they are still working normally. The washer pump takes a second or two to squirt water out of the four jets – one of which shoots liquid straight over the roof – and
With not an airbag in sight it’s dead easy to take off the 924S’s steering wheel to get at the indicator, headlamp-flash and windscreen-wiper switches. Carefully pull the centre pad off its three mounting lugs, disconnect the horn lead, and undo the big nut (arrowed) with a 24mm socket. Make sure wheel’s spokes are level first, though, and that way you’ll be able to replace it in the right position, too. Undo the three cheese-head screws (note the one at the six o’clock position, behind the copper horn contact) and you can carefully ease the switches toward you, off both the column and their multipin connectors. The culprit, after much investigation, seems to have been the original multiposition switch (near left), although even now there appears to be nothing wrong with it
I probably need a pair of new rubber blades, but apart from that everything is working like a dream. And all three of those frankly very minor issues are easily cured, anyway. Slow, fast, even intermittent, and with the wash-wipe facility available at all times; I can hardly believe it myself. So it was the blasted switch, after all. Unless, of course, in the process of removing the old one for the umpteenth time I somehow restored some suspect electrical connection. Who knows? You won’t be surprised, though, that – for the time being, at least – I’m not about to try and find out. If it ain’t broke, as they so rightly say, don’t try to fix it!
I’M NOT ALRIGHT, JACK… Were you, as I was, drawn like a moth to a flame by one of those sexy aluminium ‘race’ jacks that suddenly appeared on the market a few years back? For me, it was a combination of factors: high lift, but an initially very low saddle that would slide under my lowslung 944; more than sufficient lifting capacity – around 1.5 tonnes – for any of my existing or likely cars; and not least a remarkably low weight. (It’s amazing how that appeals more and more as you get older…) They seemed remarkably good value, too. And therein, perhaps, lay the heart of the problem; we’ve all heard the old adage about free lunches. So I hesitate to mention this, because by and large 911 & Porsche World is not some consumer champion (we don’t really need to be, writing about Porsches), but on this occasion, if editor Steve Bennett agrees with me – and since you’re reading this he obviously does – I feel duty bound to offer you what I think is a rather telling photograph (below). I suddenly realised a few weeks ago that my just four-year-old aluminium jack was becoming increasingly reluctant to lift, and finally almost impossible to lower again. To cut a long story very short, I extracted it from under the car by lifting the vehicle off it with another much smaller jack that I own (which had cost me all of around £20 from budget supermarket chain Lidl, as I recall), and then discovered to my more than slight concern that one of the screw-and-bush assemblies around which pivots the main lifting arm had come almost fully undone (below right), and as a result was completely jamming the mechanism.
The only way to get that out, and then perhaps to screw it back in again (or, better still, to install a new one), was to dismantle the jack. And in the process of doing that I discovered not only that many of the other screws, nuts and bolts were worryingly loose, but also that several seemed to have been cross-threaded when first fitted at the factory, and as a result would ideally need to be replaced, in some instances on (or in) threads that would need to be recut, too. But inevitably in this throwaway age I’ve drawn a blank as far as spare parts are concerned, and so for a variety of reasons – by no means least my own health and safety – I have simply condemned the thing. I shall probably keep one or two bits and pieces – including the usefully long tubular handle, and the main hydraulic ram assembly; my mate Chris Moyses has one of these jacks, too – but the rest I’ll be weighing in for scrap the next time I get rid of some old alloy wheels. If, then, you have one of these units – or one like it; there seem to be several on the market these days – I strongly urge you to check and if necessary (carefully!) tighten as many of those fixings as you possibly can. I shall certainly be inspecting my friend Chris’s jack, and perhaps doubly securing some of the fixings with good old Loctite. Meanwhile it’s back to Lidl’s finest for me, and when I get round to it a browse through the Sealey range (all available through any branch of Euro Car Parts) for something in good, old-fashioned steel. Sometimes, it seems, you can take we Porsche owners’ quest for lightness just a little too far. Dismantled ‘race’ jack (far left) looks a sorry sight. To be fair, our man hadn’t lubricated it as often as probably he should have done, which arguably hastened the demise of these pivot bushes (near left), but in just about four years it’s not had that much use – and how many other amateur (or even professional) users are going to be painstakingly greasing theirs every other week? Scrap it is, then, although the main hydraulic ram he’ll keep for possible use in a friend’s similar unit. And the long handle has already proved itself to be a very useful extension bar for loosening and tightening big, high-torque hub nuts and the like
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
STEVE BENNETT 944 LUX Back on the road and racking up the miles, proving a classic can hack it even in these harsh winter days. A trip to Stuttgart and back really proved the 944’s mettle. Being a responsible motoring journalist I’ve been after some winter tyres, but only one manufacturer makes them in the 944’s size. Out of stock!
JOHNNY TIPLER 964 C2 Winter tyres are compulsory in most European countries, and in light snow they make all the difference. But where do you get winter tyres in the UK (see above)? Paul Stephens has lent the Pig a set of Design 90s, but we need to shoe its trotters for the Historic Monte Carlo Rally. I’m open to offers!
PAUL DAVIES CARRERA 3.2 TARGA I’ve no intention wrapping the 911 up for winter. Others flounder in the early snow, but engine beyond the rear driving wheels, plus ample low-down torque equals levels of traction the average car can only wish for. When VW management decree a purely front drive Porsche, we’ll know they’ve lost the plot for good!
SI MITCHELL 964 C4 It’s been a busy few months, and while I have been using the 964 daily I’ve also undertaken a fair amount of work, check pages 102-103 for more details. Just a few more bits to do; I have an RS rear bumper section and brake ducts to be fitted and am also thinking about a brake upgrade, so stay tuned.
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 CARRERA 2 Thanks to a long absence from these pages I’m still playing catch-up with these reports – the problems you’ll read about here took place well over a year ago – but as of this moment the 924S is the Horton family’s primary means of transport, often racking up 500 miles a week or more. Enough said, I reckon!
JOHN GLYNN CARRERA 3.0/944/911T Just bought some new speakers for the 944. No matter that it needs the fusebox replacing, scuttle and sill repairs, a retrim, the engine recommissioning, new brakes and tyres. Ah, the joys of man maths. Elsewhere the orange 911 is still at Specialist Vehicle Preparations and the blue 911T is up for sale.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
HERE WE GO AGAIN... The annoyance of the 924S’s fractured exhaust manifold and erratic windscreen wipers was a mere trifle compared to the trials and tribulations caused by a waterlogged engine ECU
f my 924S’s exhaust system and windscreen wipers were between them the source of some seemingly neverending ‘issues’ (see my reports in the August 2010 and January 2011 editions), then a misfire and soon after that a bout of complete non-starting have given me plenty to think about over the last year or so, too. I won’t trouble you with too many of the details, which really did become too tedious to try to remember, but suffice it to say that in the spring of 2009 the car began to behave not unlike my eight-valve 944 had done in previous times, suddenly and inexplicably failing to start when cranked on the starter motor – but then, on other occasions, firing perfectly normally. The first time it happened – in the 924S, that is – I was about to drive down to Surrey for the inaugural 911 & Porsche World Blue Ball pub meeting of the year. But at least on that occasion the car had the
decency to break down at home, rather than late at night, 60 miles away. Russell Lewis at RSR Engineering – one of the several trusted Porsche experts I routinely turn to for help in these annoying situations; many thanks, Russell – suggested checking all the obvious things like the DME relay, but on this occasion I had already tried the one from my 944, itself nearly new, and that hadn’t worked. (See what I meant last time, about diagnosis by substitution? That temporary swop alone could have cost me around £25 if I hadn’t already had a replacement, and all I would have ended up with was yet another spare DME relay in the glovebox.) OK, said the always patient Russell, but what about the wiring into the back of the relay board, down under the left-hand end of the fascia? By now willing to try almost anything, I unscrewed the entire fuse and relay board, gently
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: About 77,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Back to basics: getting the 924S engine to start reliably
The cause of all the 924S’s non-starting problems turned out to be a watersoaked ECU (below left), as evidenced by the characteristic white deposit on one corner of the lower circuit board. Fitting the almost identical ‘spare’ unit from the 944 both proved the theory and for a few months kept the ‘S’ running quite happily until a replacement could be found. Strange ‘misfiring’, meanwhile, turned out to be a faulty connection to the airflow meter (below)
RUNNING REPORTS pulling it as far off its mounting as possible to get a good look at the veritable forest of wires emerging from the back of it, but again everything seemed perfectly OK. And then, when a day or so later I tried the car again, just as suddenly and inexplicably the engine fired instantly. What’s more, it continued to start first time, every time, for the next few days after that – and even after I had left it idle for a week while I went away on holiday it seemed miraculously cured. Two days after that, though, it was up to its old tricks yet again; as completely and as utterly dead as the famous Monty Python parrot. More in hope than expectation I tried again the two spare DME relays I had; but again nothing; zilch; nada. I checked the spark plugs to see if – as always seemed to happen with the 944’s engine in these circumstances – they had become saturated with fuel, but all four were bone-dry. (And no less significantly they didn’t appear to be sparking when I spun the engine on the starter, either.) I checked the supply to the end of the fuel rail, but that appeared to be gushing out under more than sufficient pressure when the engine was cranked, suggesting that the pump was OK. I even crawled under the back of the car while my wife cranked the engine, and with my own hand could feel the pump working normally. But still no sign of life up at the sharp end. Half an hour later, though, the engine fired immediately. Buoyed by my apparent success, I drove the car round to a friend’s place, switched off and then immediately back on again: no problem. Another half an hour, and yet again it was
as dead as only a dead 924S can be. This process – which naturally rendered the car effectively unusable – went on for several thoroughly frustrating weeks through the early part of what you might recall was quite a wet summer (2009, that is, not the one just gone). And then, thanks to the rain itself, finally the penny dropped. Climbing into the 924S one soaking-wet Saturday morning to have yet another doubtless fruitless stab at starting the engine, I noticed that there was a small but unmistakable puddle on the right-hand floormat. Reaching up under the fascia to try to find out where it was coming from, I could actually feel water trickling down from the scuttle area, and even pooling on the top of the ECU casing. (Luckily, the protective plastic cover over the multi-pin plug, which would normally have blocked such easy access to this area, was missing at the time. I have since replaced it.) And that was it: one of those classic ‘eureka’ moments. I had always known about the two small holes that for some reason had been drilled in the metalwork here at a much earlier point in the car’s life, presumably for some ghastly aftermarket alarm system (see photo, right). And I had long been in the habit of periodically resealing them with fresh mastic – the wonderfully named Dum-Dum, for the record. On this occasion, however, I had obviously left it just a little too long, the sealant had dried out and partially shrunk, and the resulting no doubt tiny gap had allowed water gradually to percolate down through the circuit boards inside the ECU. And electronics, as any skoolboy kno, tend
not to work too efficiently when sloshing around in good old H2O. The short-term answer (as well as the confirmation of my diagnosis) was pretty obvious: fit the ECU from my then dormant 944. It didn’t have exactly the same Porsche or Bosch part numbers as the original 924S unit, but given the obvious parallels between the two models would surely be similar enough, I reasoned, at least to run the engine reliably enough either to prove or to disprove my theory. And so, not surprisingly, it turned out. In fact, the ‘S’ ran very happily, indeed, on the 944’s ECU for most of what remained of that summer, until I managed to acquire a replacement from reader Paul Geary, who I met at our Picnic at Wellington Country Park near Reading at the end of September. (It was Paul who also supplied me with all the hardware I needed for the power-steering conversion; more about that highly successful job some other time.) I haven’t bothered to try again the original 924S ECU, now thoroughly dried out after a long sojourn on my office window sill, but I wouldn’t mind betting that it will be absolutely fine. I shall certainly be keeping it as a spare. As for that strange misfire I mentioned earlier, that was a little easier to get to grips with. I say misfire, but actually it was more like a fairly rapid loss of power, until basically the engine would run only at tickover, or else on a very light throttle opening. (And even if I floored the throttle in neutral the engine would rev to no more than around 2500rpm, and then ‘hunt’ up and down at around that figure.) Immediately I suspected
the airflow meter – many years ago I had pretty much the same situation with my BMW M535i, although then the engine would run only near or at full throttle – but once again fitting the exactly similar unit from the 944 made absolutely no difference. I still suspected that the problem was something to do with the airflow meter, though, and by putting on my stronger reading glasses, and then closely inspecting the terminals in the four-pin connection, I spotted a tiny trace of tell-tale green ‘fur’ – corrosion, essentially – on one of the corresponding terminals in the airflow meter. On this occasion, fortunately, a squirt of WD-40 did the trick, and so far – touch wood! – I’ve had no recurrence of that particular problem. PW
RSR Engineering (Russell Lewis) Rardley House, Headley Road, Grayshott, Hindhead, Surrey GU26 6LB; tel: 01428 602911
It’s hard to see the two small screw holes against the black sound-deadening material, itself covered with a layer of body-colour paint, but they are certainly there, and large enough to allow rainwater to drip down onto – and then into – the engine ECU. What kind of idiot would drill here in the first place? It would have served them right if they’d lobotomised the ECU there and then
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
WE DON’T JUST WRITE ABOUT PORSCHES, WE DRIVE AND LIVE WITH THEM, TOO
LIGHT FANTASTIC THE TEAM
STEVE BENNETT 944 LUX Took the 944 to Paramount Performance in Slough (www.paramount-performance.com) for a spot of light ‘chipping.’ The younger employees marvelled at the rather ancient ECU internals, and we encountered some issues with burning onto a new chip, so a return visit is planned. Full report next time.
JOHNNY TIPLER 964 C2 (PEPPERMINT PIG) The Peppermint Pig is so enamoured of its winter boots and lighter D90 wheels that it refuses to revert to its Cup alloys and their broader, lower profile ContiSports. It revels in the suppleness and athletic qualities the skinnier boots bequeath, though to save the winter tread it’s due summer tyres for the D90s
PETER SIMPSON CARRERA 3.4 TARGA The n/s front looked like the pic below last week but now it’s as good as new. The suspension is going back together and the anti roll bar was fun! I’ve just got to fit the hubs and discs, then I can fit the new Pagid calipers with Yellow Stuff EBC pads. This is going to be a very different car when it’s back on the road.
JOHN GLYNN CARRERA 3.0/944/911T I’m down to owning two Porsches and have been using the one that works. The Orange has been on the Cayman R and 911 GTS launches, and up to Lancashire for the 959 shoot. Also been driving a Tangerine 1972 911T I’m selling for a friend: Classic Porsches are the best it has to be said.
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 CARRERA 2 I’m still playing catch-up with these reports, so much more has happened since the period covered by the one on this spread (see right), but suffice it to say that since the demise of Mrs Horton’s BMW last year the 924S has been in almost constant use – by her, if not by me. And I think even she is beginning to enjoy it...
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
Power-assisted steering has given the 924S – and Horton’s aching arm muscles – a new lease of life
ow seemingly as well sorted and as reliable as it has ever been while in my keeping, the 924S continues, in its quietly impressive manner, to clock up the miles – or it would if the odometer worked. I keep trying to remember to order a replacement from one of the specialist breakers, but since the speedo still functions normally there’s no huge incentive to spend any money if I don’t have to. (I’m told I could fix the broken unit, and I might well have a go at that, but don’t hold your breath.) So yet again the car appears to have done not a single mile between MoT tests. Besides, I’m going to need a set of four new tyres soon. The ancient Avons, which together with the now brake-blackened tele-dial wheels came from my friend Karen’s 944 almost 10 years ago (and which then spent several years languishing under my car with hardly any air in them…), are at long last nearly down to the wearindicator bars. Despite never having been overly keen on them, I’ve delayed changing them until the front-suspension geometry was accurately set (which it now is; more on this next time). But one rear cover in particular only just scraped through the most recent MoT test last December, and the snow and ice before Christmas was at times just a little too exciting for comfort. What I’ll replace them with I really don’t know.
Something cheap and cheerful, probably. I don’t doubt the high levels of grip offered by modern, stateof-the-art rubber from the likes of Michelin, Pirelli and Bridgestone, but I can’t afford that kind of money at the moment (probably at least £450 for a set of four from my local specialist, Chiltern Tyres in Thame, Oxfordshire), and I’m confident that the same retailer’s roughly £60-acorner budget jobs will in practice work just as well given the car’s modest power and performance. Watch this space. If you have been following these admittedly rather sporadic reports over the last few years you will know that one of the many long-standing jobs on my 924S wish-list was to install power-assisted steering – and I have finally managed to do precisely that. In fact, I tackled the conversion over 12 months ago now – outside, in some of the worst of that winter’s snowy weather – but as a result I can today say with some certainty that it all (still!) works exactly as it’s supposed to. Not that there was ever much doubt about that, of course. Power steering was a straightforward factoryfitted option on the 924S (and earlier 944s, too; later in that model’s life it became standard), and so all I really had to do was source a full set of good second-hand components from a similar vehicle thus equipped. In the event mine came from 911 & Porsche World reader Paul Geary from Essex, who I had met
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: about 78,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but apart from that they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: The 924S gets its long-awaited power steering, and then a thorough test of the new system at Bedford Autodrome. And now some (cheap!) new tyres are on the cards, too...
Chiltern Tyres Thame, Oxfordshire 0845 313 1444 Porsche Centre Guildford 01483 408800; www.porsche.co.uk/guildford Euro Car Parts www.eurocarparts.com Bedford Autodrome www.palmersport.com; 01403 733999 RPM Independent Porsche Specialist 01296 661881; www.rpmtechnik.co.uk
RUNNING REPORTS at our September 2009 picnic event at Wellington Country Park near Reading. Paul was at that time in the process of breaking up a suitable donor car, and a month or so later, when he had finished stripping it, kindly delivered the parts to me here in Oxfordshire. Chief among those were the steering rack and its aluminium crossmember, although I soon discovered that, contrary to what I had initially been led to believe, I could use my car’s original mounting beam, after all. I also needed all of the hydraulic pipework, of course, including the serpentine cooler element that fits under the righthand front wing, and the under-bonnet fluid reservoir. The engine-driven pump I’d had in stock since overhauling it for a how-to feature in the July 2002 issue, and its aluminium mounting bracket I had bought and fitted to the engine when I installed that in 2006. I even had a brandnew rubber drive-belt among the many spares in the depths of my garage. The only other parts I needed were a (secondhand) pulley for the pump (Porsch-Apart), and a handful of new hydraulic unions and matching copper sealing washers, these selected by careful reference to the official Porsche parts catalogue, and bought mail order from Porsche Centre Guildford. Thanks to Paul Hodges for patiently cross-checking my numbers, and then posting the stuff out to me. Oh, and I also needed a new universal-jointed shaft (from Euro Car Parts) to connect the rack to the steering wheel. The one on the car had seemed OK, but it became obvious that the upper joint – routinely roasted by the nearby exhaust manifold – had far too much free play in it. I don’t suppose the load placed on it by the non-
assisted rack had done it much good, either, if the still incredibly painful tennis elbow in my left arm is anything to judge by. I know I had wider-than-standard tyres, but that steering was always just so heavy… Paul also sold me a fairly good right-hand front wing (I didn’t actually need one at the time, but you never know…), an electric radiator fan (ditto), and not least a fuel tank. The tank in the car had long been pin-holed from when the ‘S’ must have stood unused with water in the fuel, and although I had fixed that several years earlier, with a special resin-based repair kit, the rusty area was inevitably beginning to weep again. More on that later, too. Oh, and there was even an engine ECU to replace the 944 unit that was itself a temporary replacement for the waterlogged 924S item. (More on the cause of that rather unusual problem in my report in the February 2011 issue.) Fitting the new steering rack and its associated components was generally pretty uneventful*, aided considerably by the fact that, as I said earlier, I didn’t have to change the crossmember, too. (That would have meant temporarily supporting the power unit, either with a jack from beneath or a hoist from above, plus a bit more dismantling of the suspension, as well.) In fact, the most complex task was removing and refitting the windscreen-washer bottle to install that fluid-cooler coil – and I still haven’t worked out how the latter’s rather oddly shaped support bracket, behind the front apron, is meant to be positioned, so until I can get a proper look at another 924S (sadly, my similar but not identical 944 was no help in that respect) I’m relying on a cable-tie. Just a few days after
finishing the steering conversion I was able to give it – as well as the rest of the car, of course – a comprehensive workout through the always entertainingly fast corners of Bedford Autodrome, courtesy of a trackday visit organised by independent Porsche specialist RPM in Cheddington. Normally I would have spent many hours before such an event – perhaps days, even – thoroughly checking the 924S to make sure that nothing was likely either to fall off or break, but so unexpected was this trip that I simply didn’t have the time. And guess what? It all worked out beautifully! The car’s handling, of course, was almost comically rubbish. The SUV-style ride height, the antediluvian rear dampers (never mind the lack of a rear anti-roll bar), and not least those hard-wearing but by now not very grippy Avon tyres saw to that. It was fantastic fun, though, and while I was inevitably left for dead on the long, almost motorway-like straights on the far side of the circuit, I certainly wasn’t too slow through the twisty bits. I have no idea how many laps I did (30, maybe even 40?), but even at the end of the day there wasn’t a sign of an engineoil, coolant or steering-fluid leak (the temperature gauge read normal for the duration), and no less remarkably the brakes had never given me even a moment’s concern. I make a point of saying that because these were the same discs that when I put the car back on the road in 2007 had been red with rust. And goodness knows how old the pads are. Indeed, the only real issue was – and remains – the rather saggy side bolster on the driver’s seat, which as I realised during the drive home had been allowing the sharp metal
frame inside it to dig into my right thigh. (I was far too ‘busy’ to have noticed that out on the circuit!) Inevitably I have done absolutely nothing about that since – it’s hardly an issue in normal road use – but I’d definitely like to try more trackdays in the ‘S’, in which case a relatively inexpensive fixed-back bucket of some sort will do quite nicely, thank you. And a roll-cage, perhaps? Anyway, more next time, including how – and why – I fitted a new fuel tank. PW
* Sadly, there’s no space here to detail how I fitted the 924S with power-assisted steering, but if anyone needs any advice on this conversion – and I think it’s really essential in these larger-engined transaxle cars – e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction with some additional tips and photographs.
Power steering ‘kit’ came from a 911&PW reader, complete with crossmember, but in the event that wasn’t needed. Most other bits and pieces Horton had in stock, ready for just such an opportunity as this: pump rebuilt about nine years ago, belt was in the garage, and the pump’s mounting bracket he’d fitted to the engine when that was installed in 2006. Pulley was from Porsch-Apart. Washer bottle (left) had to come out to install steering-fluid cooler, but the latter’s mounting bracket remains a mystery, so for the moment a cable-tie does the job
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
BACK ON TRACK – WELL, NEARLY! Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the 924S has become the Hortons’ main mode of transport after Chris’s Mercedes van, and partly as a result of that he has not only cured many of its earlier problems but has even brought these reports more or less up to date. He might even resurrect the 944 soon!
aving eventually installed the powerassisted steering that the 924S always so desperately needed (see my report in the June 2011 issue), my next major project was fitting the no less essential new fuel tank to replace the increasingly leaky – and thus embarrassingly smelly and even potentially dangerous – original. I had always known that this was going to be a fairly big undertaking – the almost unbelievably heavy transaxle has to come out first, before you can lower the tank from its position beneath the luggage-compartment floor – but in the event a little forward planning, together with some welcome assistance from the guys at RPM Technik in Cheddington, Bedfordshire, made this, too, a relatively painless process. It also allowed me to tackle a number of other issues that had long been on my to-do list, including freeing off the seized transmission filler plug that had
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
obviously prevented me from changing the gearbox oil, and not least having said boot floor welded. (Which clearly wouldn’t have been a fantastic idea with a leaking fuel tank right next to it...) That repair, as you might recall from another earlier report, was necessary because – or so I have always assumed, anyway – some previous owner, or his ‘mechanic’, had decided that by making massive incisions in the body shell he/they could somehow take the fuel tank out without bothering first to remove the transaxle. Saints preserve us... The logistics took a little careful arrangement, but weren’t overly complicated. I removed the transmission and the old tank here at home (relatively straightforward with gravity to lend a helping hand), had the cut in the boot floor fixed on site by my ace welder friend, Eugene Farrell, and then with the help of photographer Peter Robain and his trusty Land Rover (thanks, mate!) trailered the now obviously undriveable car
and all the various other bits and pieces over to RPM. There, with the Porsche at a much more convenient working height on a wheel-free lift, technician Jack Smith first replaced the typically rusty fuel lines – see the resulting how-to story on pages 88–91 of the August 2010 issue – and then, once we had installed the replacement tank, I left Jack to refit the gearbox. Result! Thus rejuvenated, the 924S continued to pile on the miles through the rest of 2010. Annoyingly, by late summer the windscreen wipers were up to their wearisome old tricks again (so much for the control-stalk theory I postulated in the January 2011 issue; it must at that time have been pure luck that they suddenly started working again), but on this occasion I did what I probably should have done in the first place, and simply bought a second-hand motor from Porscha-Recycled! in Manchester. Interestingly – and fortunately, as it turned out – this came complete with the linkage that converts the simple
rotation of the motor into the reciprocating motion needed to push (or is it pull?) the wipers across the windscreen, and it took only a brief look at this to suggest that here, in fact, lay the likely cause of the problem within the mechanism then still on the car. Temporarily disconnecting the short link from the motor’s gear-driven output shaft suggested that even the ‘new’ system wasn’t as freerunning as I would have expected, and further dismantling that this was the result of a chronic – but easily solved – lack of lubrication in the two wiper spindles’ bushes. I’m guessing, as a result, that had I tried that first I could probably have saved myself the cost of that ‘new’ motor and linkage, but at least now I have some spares... In late October 2010 (but fortunately on an unusually warm and sunny day; I was a good 50 miles from home at the time) the always incredibly lethargic right-hand window finally jammed in the down position. Back at base,
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996 Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: about 79,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but apart from that they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: A replacement fuel tank for the 924S, plus various associated bits and pieces, and what looks like the definitive cure for the long-term windscreen-wiper problem. The door hinges and window motors get some long overdue attention, too
Original fuel tank had long been pinholed in arrowed area, probably thanks to standing for several years with water in the petrol; a previous owner had tried to remove it not by taking gearbox out, but by making that vicious cut in the boot floor – now repaired. ‘New’ tank (middle two pics) should with care now last the life of the car. Having transmission out was a good opportunity to tackle several other tasks, not least replacing these completely trashed mounts (below). Surprisingly, though, they made little, if any, difference to the car’s overall refinement
RUNNING REPORTS CONTACTS
RPM Technik 01296 661338; www.rpmtechnik.co.uk Porscha-Recycled! Stretford, Manchester 0161-865 8841; 07870 516938 Farrell Fabrication Great Milton, Oxfordshire 07816 036698 ProMAX Motorsport Great Horwood, Bucks 01296 714856; www.promaxmotorsport.com Leda www.leda.com Millers Oils Brighouse, West Yorkshire 01484 713201; www.millersoils.co.uk
Another task tackled while transmission was out of the car was to dismantle and lubricate intermediate gear-shift mechanism (below). A brand-new one would have been nice, but they’re quite expensive, and a liberal dose of grease should make it last quite a while longer. Gear change was a little better. Best of all, though, was the chance to remove the previously seized transmission filler plug with this take-noprisoners special socket (middle), and replace it with one from a spare gearbox. Windscreen-wiper problem proved to have a very simple solution: see text
SIT-REP: 944 LUX & 996 CARRERA 2
I’ll conclude this part of my long-running 924S saga by offering you a brief update on the Silsleeve-engined 996 (right), which hasn’t been featured in any great detail in these pages since – I think – about the beginning of 2009. Suffice it to say that it’s still running beautifully. Not that I get to drive it very often these days, unless on official 911 & Porsche World activities. Its owner, my friend Chris Moyses, has not unreasonably tried to reduce his ever-increasing annual insurance premium by restricting driving to himself alone. (Weren’t these things always supposed to become cheaper as we get older and more responsible...?) In the autumn of 2009 the car was treated to eight litres of Millers Oils’ finest and a new filter (see the how-to story in the December 2009 edition), the front discs and pads we replaced a little over 18 months ago for another how-to story (see the February 2010 issue), and as recently as last December it spent nearly a week at RPM having several of the worryingly rusty rigid brake lines replaced (and tackling one of which, almost unbelievably, meant first removing the Tiptronic transmission). That, as regular readers might be aware, was the subject of the how-to story in the April 2011 issue, and is, I believe, a must-see for anyone with an ageing 996 or 986 Boxster – and ultimately, perhaps, any other modern Porsche. (And see also Q&A on pages 104–105 of this edition.) Back issues at www.911porscheworld.com if you missed it first time round. We also used the opportunity to fit a new air/oil separator, which with the gearbox out is merely difficult to get at, rather than completely impossible.
I raised it again by taking off the internal trim and vigorously pushing the scissor-style linkage in the right direction, while simultaneously operating the motor (which suggested, of course, that the latter wasn’t entirely dead), and a week or so later once again did what I should have done months – if not several years – earlier, and took the entire door apart for a good look at what was going on inside. In fact, there was nothing at all wrong with the motor. The problem was merely a corroded and almost totally seized operating linkage between it and the window, and that was solved by a liberal dose of first easing oil and then some spray-on grease.
(See also Q&A on pages 104–105 of the July 2011 issue.) I could scarcely believe the speed with which the glass now moved up and down, and that with some rather worn and distorted felt guide channels in the window frame. I’ll replace those when I have a bit more spare cash. Having the inner trim panel off was additionally the stimulus I needed to find out why the driver’s door was becoming increasingly difficult to close. I was pretty confident that it wasn’t the hinges, despite the perhaps inevitable wear in them that has plainly allowed the whole panel to drop very slightly, and first disconnecting and then completely removing
The poor old left-hand-drive 944 Lux, meanwhile, is parked on my driveway and looking increasingly forlorn; tempus fugit, and all that. (Four years to be precise...) To be perfectly honest I have forgotten precisely what needs doing – or what needed doing, anyway; you can bet your life there will be quite a lot more now than there ever was then – but I’m confident that, like Lazarus, it will live again. I have a steering rack to replace the now leaking original one (itself a replacement about eight years ago), a full set of brake-caliper overhaul kits from ProMAX, and I can easily enough get hold of the two engine timing belts, rollers and seals as and when I need them. Plenty more work on the horizon, then. Let’s just hope we continue to have a half-decent summer!
the check-strap – which you can do only from inside the shell of the door – clinched it. For a few weeks I drove around with no check-strap, optimistically but foolishly hoping that a sudden gust of wind wouldn’t blow the door wide open and damage the metalwork (it didn’t!), but then Alistair Kirkham at Porscha-Recycled! kindly posted me a couple of replacements (if one had failed, I reasoned, the other one wouldn’t be too far behind), and all was well again. Quite why the old mechanism had partially seized I don’t know, despite having subsequently dissected it for a sort of post mortem. One of life’s little mysteries, I guess, but at
a tenner apiece for the replacements it wasn’t worth worrying about for too long. For more on this, by the way, see Q&A in the June 2011 edition. I’m plainly running out of space here to bring you fully up to date with all the various other fixes and improvements I’ve carried out to the 924S – I was rather optimistically hoping for a third page this month – but suffice it to say that there will be plenty more to read about in my next report, which I hope will appear in the September edition of 911 & Porsche World. And I’m seriously hoping that by that time I might even have managed to get the poor 944 engine running again, at the very least. Watch this space! PW
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
924S: THE END IS NIGH!
CHRIS HORTON 924S, 944, 996
The end of Horton’s long-running 924S saga, that is. And, as you’ll see from the panel at the top of the opposite page, perhaps even the end of the project itself – in his hands, anyway. Any takers?
ended my last report – which in chronological terms had taken us to about September 2010 – by telling you that I had finally cured the longrunning windscreen-wiper problem. But there were, needless to say, plenty of other things going on, too. There was the small matter of a replacement steering rack to be fitted – the one I had installed when I converted to power steering at the beginning of 2010 had started leaking, as they do once the internal seals wear –
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
and, as it turned out, quite a lot of front-suspension work to do, as well. The ‘new’ (ie secondhand) rack came from Porscha-Recycled! in Manchester (while I was up there I took the opportunity to buy a left-hand-drive unit for the 944, as well; that had started dribbling fluid before I took the car off the road some years ago), and as you would expect it went on as easily as the old one came off. I’m getting to be pretty good at 924/944 steering racks now… The only additional task
was to fit the concertinastyle dust covers from the rack that had hitherto been on the ‘S’, and to make a mental note to have the car’s front-wheel toe-in checked at the earliest opportunity. I had carefully measured the length of the ‘old’ track rods, and then set the ones on the new rack as closely as possible to the same dimensions, but that’s never going to be a substitute for having the geometry accurately set by a trained professional. The front suspension was an ‘experience’, too; an
interesting insight into the way Porsche constantly develops its cars, and as a result often wrong-foots those among us who have the temerity to want to modify them. Or simply messes with our heads. I had fitted two brandnew, original-equipment struts before I put the 924S back on the road in 2007, but because the car has the slightly wider-thanstandard wheels and tyres from a 1986-model 944 (and they have what I believe to be a slightly different offset, too) the
Occupation: Consultant editor, 911 & Porsche World Home town: Thame, Oxon Previous Porsches owned: 0 Cars: 924S, 944 Lux, 996 C2 Years: 1986, 1985, 1998 Mileage: about 79,000 (996) Owned since: 2000, 1999, 2005 Modifications: the 996 has an Autofarm Silsleeve engine, but apart from that they’re all basically standard Contact: porscheman1956@ yahoo.co.uk THIS MONTH IN BRIEF: Suspension mods, exhaust repairs, new tyres, and another trackday. Plus: a new blower motor – even though I’d fixed the old one – and a replacement oil-pressure sender. The old girl has rarely enjoyed quite as much attention!
Amazingly, the 924S hub carriers (arrowed) turned out to be 1.5mm too thick to fit between flanges at base of 944S2 struts, but a pair of Leda units saved the day. Horton will fit the rears, plus the front and rear ARBs (middle), before car is sold. Removing lefthand door trim to free off window motor revealed heaps of granulated glass, showing pane had been replaced at some time. And not well, either: it’s pulling away from metal channel that connects it to linkage, so our man bought a ‘new’ one from Porscha-Recycled! in Manchester, plus a new speedometer/odometer
RUNNING REPORTS STOP PRESS!
Reluctantly I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the 924S has to go – and by that I mean to a new home. A good new home, too. I have too many other projects going on right now – not least a certain rather neglected 944 – and in truth I could do with the money, as well. I’ve no firm idea what the car might be worth, but given that it’s taxed and MoT-tested to the end of November and midDecember, respectively, and has four newish tyres and now drives really well, I reckon £2350 is a pretty good starting point. There are a few minor body issues, and frankly the paintwork isn’t fantastic, but all in all it’s great fun to drive (and to own), and as I think I’ve proved would make an ideal basis for a trackday car. If you’re interested e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall do my best to answer any pertinent questions. The car is in south Oxfordshire. Oh, and I shall miss it. A lot!
The rear silencer had long been blowing where the pipe enters the box proper, but removing it in order to fit the second-hand replacement (in the foreground below) showed that it was a fatigue fracture rather than the anticipated corrosion, so Horton persuaded his fabricator friend, Eugene Farrell, to weld it up. The repair may well break again, of course, but for £20 it was well worth a try. Trouble is, it’s one more thing to stash round the side of the house... There is an axle-stand under the car as well as that trolley jack, by the way!
inside wall of each front cover – and especially the right-hand one, for some reason – was occasionally just touching the adjacent spring, and as a result making the most incredible racket, usually when the steering was on full lock. The obvious answer would have been simply to refit the original rims, but for me a large part of this particular car’s visual appeal has always been having its wheelarches filled so much more effectively than usual, and losing that look would definitely have been a retrograde step. In any case, by this stage those standard ‘S’ wheels had on them a set of ancient Colway retreads (don’t ask…), which although fine tyres, and perfectly serviceable, turned out to have an insufficiently high speed rating for legal road use on the 924S. (And, just for the record, I never had used them on that car.) Then I had an idea. A couple of months earlier I had done some work on a how-to story about art editor Peter Simpson’s 944S2 suspension upgrade (see pages 98–101 in the September 2010 issue), and as a result of that had acquired his car’s original but now obviously redundant front struts. These, I suddenly realised, had somewhat smallerdiameter springs that would easily clear my wider
tyres, and although said springs would also be slightly stiffer, in order to cope with the marginally increased weight of the S2’s front end, they would almost certainly work just as well on my ‘S’. Or well enough for my purposes, anyway. I would need the top mounts from the ‘S’ (those on the S2 are significantly different, and Pete had kept his, in any case), but I had both the necessary spring compressors to take my old struts apart and some new top bearings (bought some time earlier as a possible cure for the then appallingly heavy steering), so why not give it a go? Because, almost incredibly, the bottom end of the S2 strut, where it clamps round the machined lug on the stub axle, via two hefty nuts and bolts, is very slightly different to the 924S’s, that’s why not. For goodness’ sake!!! In fact, the relevant part of the 924S stub axle (or the hub carrier, if you prefer that terminology) is just about 1.5mm too thick to fit between the flanges on the S2 strut. (You could be forgiven for thinking that it might have been the other way round, or in other words the S2 hub carrier would have more ‘meat’ on that connecting flange, but hey, Porsche obviously knows best!) For one wild and irrational moment I
thought about having the 924S stub axles machined to fit the S2 struts, but then sanity prevailed, and I abandoned the whole idea. But not quite. For several years I’d had in storage a complete set of front and rear struts from then Essex-based Leda, fully adjustable for both ride height and stiffness, and although I had always earmarked them for my left-hand-drive 944, there was now every reason to use them on the 924S. Needs must, and all that. And it will be quite some time before the 944 needs struts of any kind. (The springs that are an integral part of these so-called coil-overs, like those on the S2 struts, are rather smaller in diameter than the standard 924S items.) In fact, those Leda shocks went on almost laughably quickly and easily one gloriously sunny afternoon in late autumn, and as luck would have it my educated guess at the ride height – via the usual adjustable spring platforms – was pretty well spot-on first time. Ride quality, with the rotary damper control currently set rather unscientifically at roughly the halfway point between its two end-stops, is generally pretty good, too. A bit choppy, perhaps, but then I’m still running the standard and no doubt well-worn rear dampers – if that makes any difference.
Why not yet the Leda units at the rear? No convincing reason, really, other than inertia, and what I believe to be a seized-in top mounting bolt for the righthand damper that’s still on the car. But as soon as I overcome those relatively minor difficulties I shall be out there again with the spanners, and in the process will also lower the entire vehicle very slightly. Watch out for a full how-to on that increasingly popular transaxle-car modification. After that the 924S continued to serve my wife and me heroically through the snow and ice last winter – it may not have heated door mirrors, or even a (working) heated rear window, but the cabin heater is like a blast furnace – and in late January it coped manfully with another trackday at Bedford Autodrome. Sincere thanks again to Darren and Ollie at RPM Technik for inviting me along to that. Unfortunately I had by that time bought a set of four new tyres to replace the completely knackered Avons, but my discount at my usual supplier, Chiltern Tyres here in Thame, had pushed the total price down to just £200 including VAT at the then new 20 per cent, and so I wasn’t too worried about the prospect of vapourising at least some of the new rubber.
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
RUNNING REPORTS Or even the fact that I’d never come across the Indonesian-made Accelera brand before. They’re round and black, plenty grippy enough for what I need, and seem to ride an awful lot better than the Avons. They didn’t even lose too much tread while I was giving them a pasting out on the circuit – but then perhaps I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Interestingly, and for various arcane reasons connected with the earlier front-suspension work, I had for some weeks before that trackday been running the car without its front anti-roll bar. And you’ll possibly recall that it has never yet had one at the rear. (That, like power steering, was an extra-cost option when the car was new. And whoever had signed the cheque for this one, way back in 1986, was obviously pushing his or her budget to the very limit.) Predictably enough there had subsequently been no discernible deterioration in the car’s on-road handling, but rather more surprisingly, perhaps, no obvious worsening of its on-track behaviour, either. Some will suggest that’s because it couldn’t have been any less confidenceinspiring to start with, but I suspect the real issue is that most run-of-the-mill so-called anti-roll bars are so feeble – or in the case of
911 & PORSCHE WORLD
the 924/944 (and even the 968) front ARB so feebly mounted – as to be a waste of space. Certainly I aim to have both front and rear bars on for my next track sortie, whenever that might be, but I reckon I shall need some uprated M030specification items even to begin to make a difference. Or perhaps not… And that, I’m pleased and relieved to say, brings the 924S saga more or less up to date. (I hate ‘loose ends’!) A couple of weeks ago I had to fit one of the secondhand rear exhaust boxes I had in stock – the one on the car had broken where the pipe enters the silencer, with a predictable effect on noise levels – but fortunately it matched the rest of the existing system, and so despite having bought as a precaution two new manifold-to-downpipe gaskets I didn’t have to disturb the front half. (You might remember that some time ago I discovered – the hard way – that there are at least three different bolt spacings for the flanges on the outwardly identical components for these transaxle exhaust systems. See my report on pages 108–109 of the August 2010 issue.) To begin with I was quite prepared simply to throw away the box that I took off, and thus make some much-needed space in the ever-expanding exhaust
‘department’ at the side of my house. But closer inspection suggested that the failure was the result not of the usual corrosion, but of what to me looks suspiciously like a fatigue fracture. Certainly the two halves of the break fitted together neatly enough. As a result I took the box over to my welder friend, Eugene Farrell (he of bootfloor-repair fame; see the previous issue), and, sure enough, he was able to weld the two sections back together again. How long that repair might last in service I can’t say – and that’s no reflection on Eugene’s metal-stitching skills – but with these original Porsche rear boxes now both hard to obtain and pretty expensive it was worth a few quid to find out. And it’s not as if it’s hard to install these boxes in isolation. It might just be because I’m getting as good at them as I am at steering racks, but on this occasion it took me no more than half an hour. More recently still I’ve had the heater blower motor out in a (successful!) attempt to cure the infuriating squeaking noise from the armature bearings, and also replaced the oil-pressure transmitter down on the right-hand side of the engine. Interestingly, the blower motor was rather easier to get at than I had expected
(see the photos below), but the oil-pressure sender a lot more awkward than I remember from the last time I had to deal with one. (Which was probably with some of the engine ancillaries removed.) You need a stubby 24mm openended spanner, and even with that it’s a toss-up as to whether it’s better to go in from above or below – and certainly the unit itself needs to come out of the engine bay from below. And why did it need to be replaced? Because it was leaking. And not, as you might expect, from the threaded portion, but for some reason I can’t at this stage understand from a tiny hole in the outer casing – which should, I believe, be entirely ‘dry’ inside. Anyway, a quick rummage in the garage one spring evening unearthed a used spare (and a new copper sealing washer), and after much knuckle-scraping – and some highly inventive swearing on my part – the engine was running again. I had a bit of a false start by first connecting the two leads the wrong way round – which rather worryingly makes the oil-pressure warning light come on, while at the same time pushing the gauge round to bursting point – but once I’d sorted out that elementary blunder all was well. More next time – but I hope only a little more… PW
RPM Technik 01296 661338; www.rpmtechnik.co.uk Porscha-Recycled! Stretford, Manchester 0161-865 8841; 07870 516938 Farrell Fabrication Great Milton, Oxfordshire 07816 036698 Chiltern Tyres Thame, Oxfordshire 01844 261181 Leda Suspension Newark, Nottinghamshire 01636 822033; www.leda.com
Having decided the original blower motor was beyond repair, Horton ordered a replacement from PorschaRecycled!, plus a cover to replace the partially melted original, only to discover that the squeaking bearing (arrowed) responded surprisingly well to a dose of easing oil. Spare motor (lower pic, middle) will go into stock. One of the most recent minor failures was this oil-pressure sender (below), which suddenly started weeping from the tiny hole arrowed. Again a spare from stock saved the day, but even with a 24mm spanner the job was awkward, to say the least