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Aug 26, 2008: Engine Bay Repaint

Category: Exterior
Posted by: Derek
One 'defect' with my car that has bothered me was that my engine bay was looking very worn for such a low mileage car. I don't know if it was just from past owner neglect, but it was getting under my skin. Some areas were flat, some were lighter grey, some were shiny black. Everything else in the engine compartment looked nice, but the bay just ruined it.

So I spent several hours over the course of a week getting the engine disassembled, parts removed from the walls, hoses tied up to the center block, etc etc to get easier access to the engine bay walls. I wanted to get this cleaned and fixed.

There are two ways to clean up the engine bay. The first is to use acetone and wipe down the walls. This may sound strange, but the fiberglass has a gelled outer layer that acetone does not harm. When wiping it down it results in a shiny look which also shows the natural grain of the fiberglass. I tried it in sections and while it looked nice, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue it to the upper pontoon under the windows, and if not, didn't think I would like the difference between the bay and the upper pontoon.

So I spent another eight hours in one day wetsanding, cleaning, and taping/masking the engine bay. Finally the first coat of paint went on yesterday. Here are some pictures with the original as a comparison. I am using SEM Trim Black for this.

Category: How-To
Posted by: Derek
The A/C accumulator (also know as the dryer) removes the moisture, oils, and liquids from the AC system after it leaves the evaporator before returning to the compressor, sending back only the coolant as a vapor. Liquid coolant will have a chance to return to vapor form, and any oils that escaped from the compressor will be captured.

Replacement of this part should be done when any major A/C work is being done to the system, for example when the system has been evacuated and opened, especially when the system is 25+ years old. In my case I am fixing a leak in the low pressure switch and compressor, and wanted to replace it while working on the system.

A major problem however is when removing the A/C accumulator, the brass evaporator pipe has to be disconnected. This is a very delicate piece that is generally broken when attempting to remove the accumulator. Breaking this pipe means replacing the evaporator, which results in tearing apart your dash and interior to get at it. A long and unwelcome job.

Like everyone who thinks they can do it without breaking anything, I jumped in and thought "Eh, I'll get it done right, no problem" however when I started to crank on the evaporator pipe, my fears worsened as it was not budging and flexing the pipe too much for my liking. Thus began my 'unorthodox' attempt to remove the accumulator.

- 2 large vice grips or adjustable wrenches (I used and prefer vice grips)
- Dremel
- Reinforced cutting disks
- Some sort of 'protector' plate (described in more detail below)

Safety equipment:
- Goggles or protective glasses
- Breathing mask (painters mask)
- Earplugs

- Steady hand & firm grip

This how-to assumes that you have removed the high pressure line from the evaporator, the return line from the accumulator, and the low pressure switch from the accumulator, leaving only the evaporator <-> accumulator connection in place (which we are now going to remove). It also assumes your passenger tire is removed and car is elevated for easier access.

Tip: I took cut up plastic bags and wrapped the open hoses from the A/C system and twist-tied them to protect them from any dust/debris that will be flying around.

Tip: I also began spraying down the nut with PB blaster 48 hours in advance, twice a day. This allowed it to soak and hopefully make removal of the line easier.

Step 1: Begin cutting with the dremel on the accessible side of the A/C accumulator. You want to make as wide and as long of a cut as possible of the side and as much as the bottom as can be done. It is best before starting to remove the bracket that holds the accumulator to the fiberglass so its only held in place by the evaporator. I removed the trunk access panel and put vice grips on the accumulator large nut where the evaporator ties in to help secure it from movement. Attempt to cut as little as possible into the accumulator as the filter inside is filled with little pellets, if you cut it open you'll make a bit of a mess. When finished you should have this:

Step 2: Cut off pipe as high up as possible and remove the plastic innard. IMPORTANT - now take a shop rag and reach up into the open evaporator. Plug the evaporator hole as good as possible to keep any dust/debris from entering the open A/C system.

Step 3: You want to keep cutting down until you only have the 'nut' part remaining on the evaporator pipe. Be careful at this point because a few inches behind you are the fuel lines. This is where the 'protector plate' comes into play as well as a steady hand. I used a thick tupperware lid as a shield behind where I was cutting. I could push it back with one hand while using the other hand to cut. Try to make as shallow of cuts as possible to only cut through and not any deeper than the metal. As you go you'll then have this:

Step 4: Cut off the remaining metal until all that is left is the nut on the evaporator line. Remove as much excess metal as possible. It should look like this when you are finished cutting:

Step 5: Spray again with some PB Blaster and allow to sit. Use vice grips from under the car and place one on the nut and one on the evaporator line. Hold the evaporator line still while turning the accumulator remaining 'nut'. I placed both grips almost parallel with each other and squeezed. It came off with very little force and no flexing of the evaporator line:

Disclaimer: This is my method of removing the accumulator. I take no responsibility for any damage that may result from following this walkthrough. Be aware, any work done is at your own risk.

Aug 11, 2008: The Summer Job (Round 1)

Category: Maintenance
Posted by: Derek
Current work underway:

- Replace slow leaking A/C compressor
- Replace accumulator, low pressure switch, and orifice tube
- Paint engine compartment walls
- Replace rusted bolts/nuts with stainless
- Hide wire bundle under manifold
- Paint engine cover hinges
- Clean engine/engine compartment
- Pressure test A/C and refill with R12

So far I have removed the old compressor, disconnected some A/C lines up front, removed everything from the walls of the engine compartment, started cleaning, and purchased some stainless hardware. Next up is the sanding/painting of the compartment.