Winter Thaw ’16

It’s been four and a half months since my last update which is incredible because to me it has felt like so much and so little has happened since then. There are many contributing factors to why the project will look like it has been crawling along, when really I’ve been in the garage quite a lot in the past 135 days. Since then I’ve worked on 3 different cars (all Audis) including one I bought and sold in that time.

Starting with the CQ, I continued to work on the wiring harness. Most of the unnecessary strands have been pulled by now. The work mostly focused on wrapping the wires tightly in Velcro Straps and applying easy-to-read white vinyl flag labels to various parts of the harnesses. Here’s an example of “completed” strand here:

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In early November, I turned my attention to a technically challenging part of the project, something that I’m sure many enthusiasts have run into and feared at first  – a broken exhaust stud. This exhaust stud had no external threads protruding from the head. Now this can seem daunting, but as with many other tasks, with the right tools, the job can be done with some patience. Here’s a shot of the culprit with a center hole punched in the center of the stud. This mark keeps the drill from wandering on top of the steel surface and allows it to bite and penetrate easier.

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The next tool to have for this task is a set of left-hand drill bits. You want the left-hand set for the scenario of when the drill bit snags on the stud. This moment of increased torque is then working in the direction of loosening the stud – not tightening.  This has happened to me before and when it does, it saves you from any more work! I had no such luck here, so here’s a shot of the drilled hole. Be careful not to go so deep that you drill into the head but you’ll want to go far enough so the tip of the extractor does not bottom out in the hole, stripping the surface of which it needs to grab to.

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Now I’ll take the extractor and with a hammer tap it into the hole. I’d prefer a metal hammer here so that the impact force is available to set hardened steel extractor into the softer steel stud.

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The only thing left to do is to crank on the extractor in the loosening direction. NOTE that the extractors are not made of unobtanium and will break if you push them too hard – you must consider the limits of the steel. If you feel like you’re pushing the limit of the extractor – STOP! Drill the hole out slightly larger and use a larger extractor. You do not want a broken extractor in the hole, that’ll make your day much worse. I would also recommend applying a lot of heat via propane/MAP torch and penetrating fluid such as PB blaster. In the end, you should get something like this, and you can walk around feeling quite proud of yourself.

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I’ll also show the tool set I used for this job here. It’s not a cheap set but owning old vehicles in New England is not cheap or without stress and this tool set is mighty handy for when things start to go wrong. The other tools I used in this process are relatively common in the garage, a punch, a 3 lb. hammer, and a Tap wrench to turn the extractor.

In November I stumbled across a listing for a ’95 Audi 90qs that a young guy was looking to get rid of. His asking price was $1000 and it had low miles so I decided to take a look. What turned into a scouting trip for a cheap driver’s seat in good condition (the one in my daily driver is not original) ended up in me owning a $500 car, delivered to my garage. I decided to flip it and made about $1600 in the end for a few weeks of work, $1600 that I could put towards some much needed Audi parts for the CQ. Here’s a shot of it I used to sell it.

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After this, work started to trail off for the winter. I took much of November and early December off to enjoy the winter while not laying on a cold, bare concrete floor. I enjoyed the holidays and used some of the late Fall warmth we had working on my daily driver – a 1995 Audi 90q that was in need of some love.

I tracked down a number of issues and worked solely on that car with any bit of time I had for 3 months leading up through February. I was noticing that although I was putting in a lot of time and effort and money, a few problems persisted and others arose. This cycle of fix, break and diagnose wore on me and I decided that if I was really going to finish the rally car in near term, I needed a daily driver that didn’t require so much time and money for itself.

Fast forward a few months, after many test drives and moments of indecision, I decided to pick up a Subaru BRZ. Over the next couple weeks I just need to touch up the 90 and get it listed. But for now, I’ll enjoy taking this back and forth to work worry free and, of course, while also enjoying some weekend drives as well.

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