The page of member Wesley M.

Professional computer geek, photographer, mad Irishman and owner of 2 completely mad cars.  Me in a nutshell.

My cars:

1995 Saab 9000 CSE 5-door 223,000 miles as of 11-2-2012:

Purchased from a friend and co-worker, this car has been both the love of my life and the bane of my existance.  It had a gently loved 212,000 miles on it at the time of purchase.  I knew the mileage was high, but I knew the owner, knew his love for the Saab and trusted his word (and his meticulously kept receipts) that it had been for the most part lovingly maintained.  
Unfortunately for both of us, it's a Saab 9000.  Part Swedish, part Italian, the cars are infamous for their unreliable, unpredictable and generally unlivable nature.  

My first year of ownership saw the replacement of:
Fuel pump (which graciously died overnight while sitting in the driveway)
Battery to terminal block cable
Re-installation of the dome light
Manual closure and subsequent repair of the moonroof
Re-installation of the dome light (again)
Repair of a sub-cabin exhaust leak
Re-installation of the dome light (again)
Numerous fuse repairs
Complete removal of the fuse/relay/junction panel to repair a damaged main lead which was intermittently causing outage of major systems.  Upon finding the fault, replacement of much heat damaged wire became necessary as the fault was causing increased impedence across the loose connection.
Complete engine tune-up: spark plugs, direct ignition cassette, small basics

Second Year, the car made full connection with its demons:
Full replacement of the exhaust from catalyst back
Replacement of failed brake pad which lead to metal-metal contact and a gouged rotor
Replacement of gouged rotor
Replacement of failed power steering pump (front pump seal blew, dumping hydraulic fluid under the car, causing sudden loss of power steering and shattering the pump bearings)
Re-installation of the dome light
Re-Build of the dome light to improve retention
Replace badly failed clutch.  The friction disc began to disintegrate throwing friction material around inside the gearbox bellhousing.  This caused the throwout bearing to seize destroying the slave cylinder.

  • Removed near-side subframe, refreshed bushings and ball joints

  • Removed near-side driveshaft

  • Removed gearbox

  • Removed /resurfaced engine flywheel

  • Drilled/tapped 2 bolts/fittment holes for slave cylinder (the old bolts had fused to the gearbox housing)

  • Flushed and refilled the gearbox

  • Replaced gearbox input shaft bearing

  • Replaced clutch friction disc, pressure plate, pilot bearing, throwout bearing and slave cylinder

  • Refitted gearbox and near-side bits

Then came the fun of bleeding the hydraulic system. The placement of the hard lines and the fact that the clutch master cylinder is below the level of the slave cylinder, the system cannot be conventionally bled.  After numerous failed attempts at vacuum bleeding, the system was back-filled with a syringe until the pedal would build sufficient pressure to return on its own at which point the whole system could be vacuum bled. 
Repaired an exhaust leak that was heating the fuel tank causing the engine to vapor lock.  A condition believed to be impossible by everyone I talked to.  Repair of the leaking exhaust stopped the random stalling.
Replaced serpentine belt after a worn idler pulley caused the loss of the outer of the 5 ribs.
Pressed new bearing into failed idler
Patched badly worn leather seats

To be done:

Turbo charger oil seals blown; new turbo sourced and awaiting installation.  The old turbo will be rebuilt with 360 degree oil seals for future use.
Oil pan needing replaced.  The gearbox-engine mounting lug was damaged during fitment of the gearbox causing a massive oil leak.  new pan sourced, just need to replace it.
Replace upper and lower engine mounts
Replace sheered far-side carrier bearing bracket (factory-new part sourced)
Strip, fill, seal and paint surface rust spots
Buff entire finish to restore shine to the single-stage paint



1986 Jaguar XJ6 Series III Vanden Plas 137,000 miles (estimated, chassis) as of 11-2-2012:

With the perpetually unreliable Saab causing me much stress, my wife had given me permission to seek a more reliable vehicle I could drive while I tore the Saab down to repair it properly rather than having to rush through repairs in order to have a driveable vehicle to get me around.  I had been searching Craigslist, BAT, Ebay and the classified ads for something that piqued my interest but had yet to find anything that was not either a bland econobox or potential money-pit similar to the Saab.  My wife, knowing my penchant for the eclectic took pity upon me (or perhaps got tired of my grumping) on a day I had struggled particularly with the Saab and began an intensive Internet search for something that would satisfy me and possibly meet my needs.
How she found the Jaguar and how it was deemed "reliable" are still mysteries but I'm very glad it happened.  
Priced at $6000, she proudly presented the Internet ad telling me "I would be willing to get a loan on something like this.  It's a good looking car".  I looked over the ad and immediately noticed something peculiar.  Prior to Ford's acquisition of the company, Jaguars had not run a V8 engine.  I was looking at a "lump".  The 4.2L inline 6 and Borg-Warner 4 speed auto had been replaced by a Chevrolet L05 throttle body injected 350 and a GM TH400-700R4 4 speed auto.  As near as I can tell, the engine and gearbox were sourced from an early 90s Caprice and then built-up slightly.  Peering in the oil filler reveals strengthened valve springs.  The chromed rocker covers hint at the possibility of a slightly more thorough work-over.  The car had sat unregistered since 2009 and on the dealer's lot for over a year.  I offered $2000 knowing they weren't going to take a $4000 hit but making it clear I saw a car that was passable at a distance but far from perfect.  They took $3000 and I owned a Jag.
The car was originally black but has been resprayed in its current metallic smoke-blue.  The respray is far from professional but definitely not a Maco job either.  The engine swap was done with a "John's Cars" conversion kit.  The radiator has been replaced with a unit suitable for the V8, engine mounts are professionally made and the whole kit fits like the V8 was original to the car with only a couple of minor and livable exceptions.

Jaguar Update: 09/12/2012

I've sorted through much of the Lucas fuse system.  Total blown fuse tally, 12.  Not bad, not as bad as I'd feared.  Many of the fuses in the boxes are still factory original Lucas tubes, so that does bode rather well for the overall condition of the car.  
Replacing the blown fuses briefly restored my interior lighting though that has failed again for an unknown reason.
The air conditioning compressor clutch is now engaging with activation of the climate control system.  This has caused another issue with the already imbalanced engine, causing it to surge out of control as it tries to figure out where it should idle.  
Most importantly, I removed the air cleaner and re-fitted the breather hose.  Hopefully there will be no more petrol smell from under the bonnet now (though the boot still has a small leak somewhere).
In the process of fitting the breather hose, I also located the vacuum nipple where the unknown vacuum hose fits.  It was a feed for one of the climate control servos.  I now have colder-than-ambient air conditioning but heat is still non-functioning.  The radiator cap (such as it is, placed in-line with the upper radiator hose) is badly perished and shows signs of leaking coolant.  There is also the chattering of a bad bearing from the front of the engine which MAY be the water pump.  While the engine does not run hot, i wonder if lack of pressurization and circulation is causing the heating woes.  This will need to be sorted before winter.
The electric central-locking has also presented something of an odd occurance.  I replaced the fuse the evening of the 11th to find no action from the solenoids.  I figured the binding rear-passenger lock was probably to blame.  Leaving for work the morning of the 12th revealed a fully functioning central locking system.  I half expected it to quit at some point during the day, but as of this writing (9:06PM) it is still functioning. Self-healing electrics in a Jag?
The last item is one I'll have to sort with the seller of the vehicle.  I believed the crinkled film look in the rear driver's side window to be remnants of the window sticker.  Closer examination this evening revealed it to be destroyed extremely light-tint window film due to careless removal of said window sticker.  They will be called tomorrow.  That's all for now.  The Saab got a tiny bit of attention today in the form of a loving pat as I pulled my Gojo wipes out of the passenger floor-board.

Jaguar Update 11/1/2012:

Replaced the tires in October.  The ones originally fitted were badly rotted and began leaking around the lettering on the sidewalls.

The original fuel pump finally let go and I had made sufficient sense of the modified plumbing to figure out what filters to replace, what lines needed re-routing and what to clamp off to avoid spilling petrol all over the interior.
My jaw hit the floor as soon as I pulled the supply line off of the pre-filter.  What appeared to be very watery terra cotta began spilling all over the spare tire well.  The pre-filter was completely packed with rust, nearly a liter's worth suspended in petrol. After I cleaned that mess up, I unclamped the supply line to make sure it was running clear.  A few drops of rust came out and the rest ran perfectly clear.  The right-hand tank appears to have been left empty for quite some time and had suffered from the common water intrusion for Jaguars.  The bottom clearly had surface rust at one point but now appears to have cleared since I started putting fuel in the tank.  Needless to say, the car is a WHOLE different animal than when I originally purchased it.  It was not slow initially but was not fast either.  As the filter filled, it began to falter and fall on its face at more than 1/4 throttle.  It's now capable of running at near wide-open without so much as a hiccup and pulls like a sports car.  The engine is very clearly not a stock L05.  Pulling the weight of the Jag would be much more work for a rock-stock mill.  Next up are new plugs, wires, dist cap and rotor.  It should run very well all the way to WOT.

Update 1/1/2013:

Ahh, Lucas; Prince of Darkness, master of all early British automobilia.  I have been bested again by the befuddling mass of electrics contained within the Jaguar.  The power locks have quit working again, the turn signals will, on occasion, only work if the hazard switch is held simultaneously and without explanation, my climate control system is now working in full... well, I haven't tested the air conditioning but that's just because it's too cold.  The good news is that I've now discovered the interior lighting will work when the passenger-front door is opened (only that door), so long as I jiggle the door switch.  The best part is that the old addage "always wear clean underwear and never drive a Jag in the snow" does not apply here.  The old cat actually handles well in the lower-end of Montana's climate, kicking the rear out when provoked, but otherwise behaving quite nicely.  The exception is the Chev lump's willingness to overpower the rear brakes and allow the powered wheels to continue pushing the car despite being urged to stop.  That high-idle issue will need to be resolved lest I continue overshooting my driveway.  Putting the car in neutral when approaching a stop kicks the behavior but does allow the engine to rev even higher.  I also completed one of my to-do items. the awkward looking 3" exhaust tips have been replaced by more pleasing 2" twin-tip angle-cut tips.  I need to do a little more work to correct the fitment, but even sitting slight askew, they look much better!

Future plans:
Replace the muffler, silencer exhaust setup with a resonator, muffler setup on both sides.  Use Borla Pro XS  mufflers for an aggressive but not overly loud sound.  
Re-upholster the back seat in auto-grade tweed to match the re-upholstered front seats


Last updated: 2013-01-01 06:55:15

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1986, Jaguar, XJ6 Vanden Plas

At home just after it was purchased.