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Old 01-02-2020, 02:45 PM   #1
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My Red '97

I was looking on Craigslist and the Facebook market for a cheap Honda Fit for my youngest daughter. She's been driving one of my '99 Boxsters and I thought that a Fit would be more practical. For a couple weeks, I ignored the $3,000 1997 Boxster that came up in my 'peripheral' searches. The last thing I needed was another Boxster and at $3k, it was bound to be junk. Let some other sucker buy it. I finally found a couple decent looking Fits for under $3,000 and forwarded them to her.

"What do you think Nikki? I hear that these are good little cars. Lots of space inside and great gas mileage."
"Um, no dad. They're ugly and they look cheap. My Boxster is just fine thank you."

So, I had my 'Fit money' in hand and remembered that sad little red '97 somewhere past Oklahoma City. By now it had been on Craigslist for about a month. I expected that it would be sold, but went ahead and emailed the seller asking for some basic info. I immediately received an email back with a phone number to call.



In summary, the seller said: 5 speed manual, hardtop included, soft top is broken, big stack of maintenance records, 184,000 miles, interior '9 out of 10', some hail damage easy to see up close, but not bad from a few steps away, runs and drives fine, but the new coolant tank he just installed is leaking from the hoses. "Make an offer I just want it gone."

I said I wouldn't be available to get it for about a week, but that if he still had it on the day after Christmas, I'd bring cash and a trailer. On the 26th, I called to verify it was still there and got the address. About a three hour drive. My wife and dogs stayed at the house eagerly waiting my return.



The car looked better in person than I expected. From the front, the hail dents are hard to find and the ones on the rear trunk can probably be leveled out with some PDR. The seller had owned it for about 7 years and had really enjoyed it most of the time he had it. Now it had high mileage and minor problems starting to accumulate. After messing with the coolant tank, he didn't want to keep trying to DIY and the cost of taking it to a shop would quickly surpass the value. I paid $2,500 and broke it down on the receipt as $1,300 for the hardtop and $1,200 for the car. I may use it in the future in the "Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge" and need to keep the receipt for the car under $2k.



It took most of the day, but it was all smooth travels with no surprises. Home at dusk, I unloaded the car from the trailer and parked it in the garage after taking it for a quick drive around the block.



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Old 01-02-2020, 03:04 PM   #2
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I haven't done any work on it yet other than a very simple PPI (Post Purchase Inspection) Here's some basics:
  • Oil leaks from most of the spark plug tubes.
  • Oil on top of the engine looks like it came from oil cooler o-rings
  • New shift linkage and left side suspension (replaced after old driveshaft came loose).
  • The coolant tank was just replaced, but it was a cheap aftermarket tank and hoses aren't fully connected.
  • IMS bearing was said to have been replaced by the previous owner - no details.
  • Good regular maintenance with documentation until the last couple years.
  • Oil sample looks great visually, spin-on adapter installed.
  • Soft top frame is broken, minor window/door issues.
  • Chipped tail lights and headlights need a polish.
  • Rear tires need to be replaced.
  • Power steering may not work, but fluid level is good.





The issues are all stuff I have dealt with before and most of the parts needed are in my garage and shed. As a '97 with over 180k miles, it's hit the bottom of depreciation and would not be easy to sell for a profit even if I do make it pristine. For now I plan to fix the issues I find and enjoy it for a while as what it is.

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Old 01-02-2020, 04:55 PM   #3
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Good taste for color, John ;-)) That Pcar line-up is starting to look good!
lol "Tuttle", funny...
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Old 01-03-2020, 08:07 AM   #4
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For $2500 (hardtop included!) how can you go wrong? Looks like a good project. What do the dogs think?
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:35 PM   #5
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Today I swapped the top with the almost new one that came from another car I bought last year. In the process I found that both the arms for the clamshell were also cracked and needed to be replaced along with the left side drip tray.



It was all pretty easy to swap the parts over, but I started too late in the afternoon and didn't have time to get it set-up to open and close electronically. I'll get that done tomorrow and have a full set of parts available if I need any.

My garage floor is still covered with parts from the car that I stripped for scrap a week ago. I should probably focus on organizing that soon, so I can work inside with cold weather coming this weekend.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:49 PM   #6
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...and today we have rain. The top looks good and should keep the interior dry. I'm not going to put the hard top back on until after I finish going over the engine maintenance.



This afternoon I'll be clearing some floor space in the garage. If I have time over the weekend, I'll do the spark plug tubes and oil cooler.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:34 PM   #7
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Busy at work, some travel, and waiting for parts; I finally got some more work done on the Red. Clearly it has been leaking oil for a while and that needs to be addressed before putting many more miles on the car. Oil is everywhere. I cleaned the engine and after a drive it was on the top, the bottom, and both sides. Best to start with the simple common stuff before worrying about the RMS or anything difficult. Spark plug tubes and the oil cooler o-rings are my prime suspects and good to do anyway as preventative maintenance on a 180k+ mile car. As I worked through them, they clearly needed it.


The spark plug tube o-rings were clearly leaking and most of the coil boots were in rough shape. I replaced the right side with the parts I had on hand, but had to order a set for the left side - forgot that I had used up most of my stock on another car during the summer. How to remove old spark plug tubes: Spark Plug Tube Removal Tool



After going for a 15 minute drive and checking the top of the engine, it was clear that coolant was leaking on top of the engine as well as oil. Most likely suspect for that is the oil cooler and it can be a cause of intermix of coolant and engine oil as well. So far there has been no intermix, just leaks. I removed the old oil cooler. The large o-rings on the coolant side were shot, but the oil side didn't look that bad. I was glad to find that the oil cooler on this car was the standard one and not the version that was specific to the early '97s. That meant that I could put a new, larger S-Model oil cooler on without an adapter plate.

After putting it back together, torquing the bolts to 7.5 ft/lbs (90 in/lbs), I ran the engine to check for leaks. There was a sound of rushing air, not quite right for the intake. I moved around listening and feeling for leaks. the oil filler tube on top of the engine was hissing. I put my hand on it and it easily rocked back and forth. With the engine off, I found that the rigid part of the tube that bolts to the top of the engine was cracked and not fully inserted into the engine. I have two used ones 'in stock' from scrapped engines. Tomorrow, I'll have that replaced and go for a drive. Hopefully that will take care of the leaks.
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Old 01-28-2020, 08:24 PM   #8
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Replacing the rigid oil filler tube...
Here's my general procedure, but not an exact guide:

Put the car in the 'service position'.
Disconnect the negative battery terminal.
Cover the drain holes on the sides of the engine compartment so tools and parts don't fall in.
Remove the throttle body:
Disconnect the intake tube from the air filter.
Disconnect the AOS hose.
Loosen the throttle cable.
Unbolt the support underneath.
Rotate it upwards.
Remove the wire connections.
Remove the bolts holding it to the intake crosstube.
Remove vacuum hoses from the intake crosstube.
Slide the boots and remove the crosstube.


I cleaned the intake and throttle body. All the vacuum hoses look good and are flexible. AOS and it's tubing look good and that reminds me that I still need to sort through all the receipts to see what maintenance was done and when.


What a mess underneath the intake. The filler tube isn't broken, there just aren't any bolts holding it on. It had probably been pushed in place and stayed there until the previous owner replaced the coolant tank. Glad I didn't drive the car any further. I started cleaning up the oil and dirt. The long lost bolts were deep in a puddle of grime. I fished them out and kept cleaning, hoping to find a few 10mm Snap-on sockets. No luck, but I got it clean enough to help isolate any more oil leaks after I finish this maintenance.


There's a loose wire under here. I'm 97.5% sure that it should be connected to the alternator '+' terminal. It's all covered with black heat shrink, so I can't see for sure if the insulation is red or brown. 2.5% chance I'm going to be very disappointed the next time I start the car.


When I started putting it back together, the flexible portion of the oil fill tube felt too loose. I gave it a tug and it came off in my hand. That's not right, it's broken off and a bottle has been fitted to the end. Glad I still have a spare.

I looked a little further at the tubing installed for the coolant tank. It works, but the main coolant hose to the tank has a big kink in it. I might as well correct it while I have this much access. That's going to mean draining some coolant again and taking off all the hoses to the coolant tank. Time for a break and dinner. This is not going to be technically difficult, but it's going to take some patience. I started out with 90s alternative music and coffee. I've already had to switch to beer and Christian contemporary to mellow out a bit. I may just finish posting this and let the car rest for the night. My schedule is free for most of tomorrow.
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:13 AM   #9
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Wow, a cut bottle?! The car is fortunate to have found you! Nice write up
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:34 AM   #10
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Wow, a cut bottle?! The car is fortunate to have found you! Nice write up
I'm also having a feeling this Boxster will become one of the best soon or later, lets watch!
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Old 01-29-2020, 08:41 AM   #11
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Always love to read your posts. I think this one is going to turn out great, and red cars are faster too!
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:24 PM   #12
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Hasbro sent me his dirty old Dansk Sausage. I've decided where I'm going to put it, but I should probably clean that dark, crusty stuff off first...



I'm going to try Chuck's formula from post 16 here: Installed a PSE (Porsche Sport Exhaust) - Photos

to get it to look more like this:
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Old 01-31-2020, 03:05 PM   #13
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I spent a couple hours in the morning and again in the afternoon cleaning up the Dansk. I'm at work, waiting for actual work, so it's just a productive way to pass the time. I hadn't taken a picture of the bottom side of the muffler, but it was coated with burnt black paint.


I used some acetone and a scraper on the worst parts, then a nylon wheel and 3M pad on a sander.


It looks pretty much like a normal muffler now. Tomorrow, I'm planning to use a Dremel on some of the smaller spots, then work towards more of a polished finish. There's one weld on a bracket that needs to be repaired. The rest of it is in good shape.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:48 AM   #14
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I used a some 'Rust Gel' to clean some of the stains, that weren't polishing out, then polished it. Now it has a nice uniform stainless steel shine.

During the week, I'll fix the cracked weld(s) on the mounting brackets, then see how it looks and sounds on the car.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:16 AM   #15
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Huge difference
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:36 PM   #16
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The Dansk muffler is going to go on this car, but first I want to fix the basic problems. It looks like the oil leaks are fixed, but there's still some coolant getting away.

I had thought that the problem was related to the oil cooler and hoses to the coolant tank. I finally got the kinked coolant hose replaced. That part of the system looked good. I could have replaced all of the clamps and hoses while I was there, but the others don't seem to be having a problem.


When all the parts were back together, I went to a car wash to rinse the underside of the engine and transmission. With most of the residual oil cleaned off I drove the car for about 30 miles; carefully at first keeping it to about 3K rpm, then doing some good runs up to 6k rpm after I gained confidence in it.


All was going great until the coolant temp light started blinking, indicating a low coolant level. Only about a mile from home, I continued - keeping an eye on the temp to make sure it didn't rise. Back at the garage, I found that the tank and associated hoses looked good, but coolant was on the plastic 'belly panels' forward of the engine. There's probably a bad hose going to the radiators or heater core. I plan to address that later this week. ...and that's a great opportunity to replace the fuel filter.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:34 PM   #17
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I think the leaks are fixed now. One of the main coolant hoses from the engine to the radiators had a hole that leaked under pressure. The fuel filter is tucked in where the coolant hoses go forward, so it was easy to replace while I was there. I drained some fuel into a jar to see how dirty it was. Glad I replaced it.


I drove it around town and took it to work tonight. No sign of leaks; oil or coolant. Looking down from my office... That's a lot of red.


There's plenty of things to take care of next. Too much to list to make the car 'right', but for now the only thing I feel urgency about is replacing the rear tires. I kind of like the 16" wheels on it and will probably keep them. Most likely I'll find some inexpensive daily-driver tires to make it safe and swap a set of 17s on if I ever feel the need to 'drive beyond' the cheap 16s.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:17 AM   #18
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What an awesome thread.
As I read through it, I was impressed with a couple of things:

1) what seems to be honest enjoyment of the wrenching. Like.... maybe you bought the car so you could di just what your doing? That's something i'd relate to completely, by the way)

2) just how deeply in trouble a person could be, buying a "cheap" Porsche, without knowing what they're doing (DIY). It helps too that you've got accumulated parts and parts cars. Buying that stuff adds cost, but also adds delays.

3) (and here's where jealousy kicks-in for me, Haha) SPACE. you've got space for parts and parts cars. And multiple cars, so you can drive the one you feel like....


Anyway:
Very cool thread. Fun project. (That almost seems like the wrong word.... )

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Old 02-17-2020, 09:36 AM   #19
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Great thread. Is that a Bio Circle cleaner I spy??

Older but not any wiser!
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:51 PM   #20
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I keep forgetting to mention, one (quirky?) little thing that I Love about this car is: No door speakers and no side airbags.

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...

2) just how deeply in trouble a person could be, buying a "cheap" Porsche, without knowing what they're doing (DIY). It helps too that you've got accumulated parts and parts cars. Buying that stuff adds cost, but also adds delays. ...
Sometimes I forget that I have to be careful about encouraging everyone to buy a cheap Porsche and dive right in. I've been blessed with a stubborn persistence that got me to where I am. Doing a thing the wrong way enough times, I eventually start to default towards doing it right. There has been a long slow learning curve and the Forum has always been a great help.

I like to post these projects as my own maintenance record and also in hope of helping anyone else who comes across the same issues.

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Great thread. Is that a Bio Circle cleaner I spy??

Older but not any wiser!
Thanks. Yes it's a Bio Circle, nice to have around so I don't have to dispose of as much waste. I'm not a mechanic, but there's an aircraft hangar where I work with lots of tools I get to use.

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