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russ_mill New Reader
11/13/18 4:56 p.m.

In reply to Harvey :

Lol yeah, I guess I don’t care much what other people think or feel is necessary (obviously within reason). Probably why I feel right at home on this site! 

russ_mill Reader
11/19/18 9:46 a.m.

Small updates for this weekends, and some setbacks... actually more setbacks than updates lol

For the corvette, I replaced this little panel for $5

I also changed the interior lights to white LEDs, and RTV'd some more leak spots. HUGE progress, and super thrilling, I know lol.

In the setbacks column, I took off the passenger seat leather and tried to mimic the changes I did to the driver seat. All went well until I ripped the sipper off trying to get the leather back on the seat. So it's now with a seamstress so I can reinstall it.

My actual garage time was spent changing the struts and shocks on my civic. Front was the easiest repair ever- bolts came out with no fuss. Here's new and old:


Rear, however, never happened. Trying to get my rear lower shock bolt off. Tried torque, broke my torque wrench. Tried heat, broke a socket, tried heat and percussive persuasion, broke another socket lol.

Ordered new bolts today so next weekend I can cut it off with an angle grinder and finish my replacement. Again, little progress but I guess I've got all winter!


dclafleur New Reader
11/19/18 9:50 a.m.

What did you use to change out the interior lights, I've thought about doing that while I've got the interior out in mine.

russ_mill New Reader
11/19/18 10:06 a.m.

I used this package - figured it's probably the same thing as the kits from corvette specific websites, but I don't know that for a fact. What I used

I didn't get any before/after pictures since I was in a lighted garage. What I can tell you is that I did the DR/Pass footwell lights, the Dr/Pass cargo lights, the glove box light, and both rear license plate lights (7 lights in total). I am left with 3 lights, 2 should be for the map lights. However, the map lights are currently some incandescent, 6 light structure in which there is no easy way to replace them. Therefore I didn't change them. If you get a chance, pop open your rearview mirror and see what you have in there -  I guess there are different versions frown. I can get you a picture of what I mean but it will be this weekend when I actually get to where it is stored.

dclafleur New Reader
11/19/18 1:17 p.m.

The auto dimming mirror has a different set-up you probably have the same mirror I do.  It technically already has LED lights in it but they're probably a different color than the ones you've installed.

russ_mill New Reader
11/19/18 2:21 p.m.

Yeah, that's a brain fart. You're right its LEDs, but yeah, they're yellow and blue if I remember correctly. Anyways, the other lights look good so far, but I haven't seen them in the dark either

russ_mill Reader
12/28/18 6:23 a.m.

OK, finally finished the passenger seat mods! I took the seat cover leather off to move the bolster foam, and of course when trying to put the leather back on I ripped the zipper off. Had to take it to get it repaired. But, it's back in the car with all the same fixes as the driver seat (bolster supports and foam, fabric between the foam and wire mesh in the bottom, and replace springs with paracord to lower the seat).

I decided to keep the pop-ups as there's not a lot of great options to remove them. So fixing those is next, as it's cold out and I don't have to lay on the ground to mess with it.


Sorry, this is a boring update, but it keeps me on track!

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
12/28/18 9:47 a.m.

I saw those coilovers and thought you'd alrady ditched the buggy springs.  Thought to myself: this guy is not bucks down :-)

russ_mill Reader
12/30/18 6:27 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Lol I tend to go at things full bore but I’m keeping the buggy springs! 




for now 

LimitedTimeOnly New Reader
2/6/19 12:43 p.m.
LimitedTimeOnly said:

(Countdown starts now for when I break down over the winter and start looking again . . .)


And I made the mistake of looking last night (wow, I made it almost four months!) and proceeded to find a well-priced 2001 C5 Z06 within a 30 minute drive from me. Shoot. I just need to hold out another month and start autocrossing again so that I don't have time to think about this possibility.

How is Bettie doing these days?

russ_mill Reader
2/6/19 3:54 p.m.

Ohh boy- do it!! 

Bettie is doing well, she’s hibernating in the barn with plenty of mouse traps and everything short of a ritual performed around her in hopes of not getting any rodents in her lol 

rustybuckets Reader
3/18/19 7:54 a.m.

Super Project stall due to Civic issues, weather, and family health problems (AKA read no further if you want corvette and not civic updates!)

I hit a HUGE pothole in the dark while headed to work about a month ago that completely blew my tire. As in I lost the tire diameter on the highway and rode to the shoulder on the sidewall - something like this (not my photo):


I replaced both tires on that axle, but was getting some wandering/shimmying, and clunking, so I replaced ball joints on both sides (first time I've done that job!), and got an alignment. This cured the clunk and lots of shimmy, but I still had some vibration so I went in for a balance. This fixed the rest of my problems, and all told the bill for that pothole was about $700. Ouch.

Since the weather was nice this weekend, I did everything for the Civic I was waiting for a break in the weather to do - brakes and rotors all around, removed the rear bumper and painted the supports which had some rust building, and all the fluids - oil, coolant, brakes, and transaxle. No pics because that's boring.

I changed the transaxle to Redline fluid, and so far, I can't say how happy I am with it. I've owned the car for 120k miles, and it has always had a slight trans whine at 35mph. This has lasted through 2 or 3 dealership complaints (while in warranty), where I was told it either couldn't be replicated or wasn't a problem, and numerous fluid changes using honda fluids. So far, Redline has completely cured it and feels better than I remember fresh fluid feeling (but I always change it at 30k so not a HUGE difference).

Oh, and both times I took it into Tire Discounters, I've had significant trouble removing the wheels again as they over torqued the hell out of them. The specs are 100ft*lbs for each stud. Each time I've gone, at least one wheel has been extremely overtorqued. By a multiple of 5. How do I know this? I weigh 170lbs and I had to get a 3 foot breaker bar, and jump on the end to release them. I contacted the store but I highly doubt they will remedy their safety problem.

I planned to work on Bettie on sunday, but the nice weather broke so I only got a little done. I'm working on a trunk/cabin partition like so:

Since my corvette is a summer daily, my goal is to hide stuff in the trunk, and also not have trunk contents slide around and hit me. Mine will be bolt in unlike any on the market that I've found, and also it will cost me about $50 total, unlike any on the market! On the trunk side I'm going to mount my safety kit (first aid kit, cpr masks, flares, etc). I am slightly trained as an EMT (took the classes, didn't like the career path), and I've now seen a few wrecks where everyone was fine in the end, but I do wish I had some gear, or at least my personal safety gear like gloves, cpr masks, etc.

Hopefully soon I'll get some substantial time to work on Bettie!

rustybuckets Reader
6/7/19 8:16 a.m.

OK, big update. 

Life has been hectic lately! This year, I had some family members in the hospital (all OK now, thank God!), I learned I am going to be an uncle and I can't wait for that, and my long term girlfriend and I broke up, forcing me to move since we lived together. Ups and downs all around, but that's life! Oh, and I'm on a huge project at work looking to buy new machinery for our factory, which has me traveling and seeing lots of cool stuff. So, too busy to do much of anything car related sadly.

Onto the cars.

Bettie is in the shop getting a fuel pump. I do most of my work on everything, but this is an intensive procedure with dropping the rear out, and frankly I've been too busy. I've only got one small thing after that and then I'll be relatively happy with her. Hopefully I get that all done soon then I'm going to take some driving classes (she's too powerful for me and can easily scare me now).

As shown above, the civic hit a HUGE pothole in the winter. In the last post, I stated that by doing ball joints and getting an alignment, my issues were fixed. Looks like I was wrong because parts kept failing on me. I would fix something, and then the next weak/worn part would go, in quick succession. I had replaced ball joints, got an alignment, and did wheel bearings. That was actually all pretty simple, but I paid a mechanic to press out the bearings and replace with my new. Somewhere along the line, either the new wheel speed sensors weren't working, or the new bearings aren't reading right/were damaged (shop put the correct side facing the sensors), and my ABS/TCS was lit up all around. The new bearings rode nicely, but I was still getting front end shake, even with new ball joints, bearings, wheel balance, and wheel alignment, and tires. That, combined with the speakers no longer working, the AC going out, a sometimes sticky caliper, the headliner falling, lots of paint issues, etc etc, and I was tired of it. I added up the cost of the parts I needed to get it back to where I'd be happy with it, and then got an appraisal at carmax. Those 2 values added together were more than the car is listed at on KBB (and that's with me doing all the work!), so I took the offer. I knew it was the right decision when they took the civic (which I had loved for 5 years), and I wasn't even sad. 

I did, however, take her on a nice little trip to Mohican with my mountain bike for a goodbye drive. You can see it with my crappy, but super fun, rigid 29er singlespeed here:

All in all, the 8th gen Civic SI is an amazing car! It's rev happy, easy to drive, felt pretty light on it's toes, and has the best shifter and clutch feel I've ever experienced. Oh, and the front seats fit me like a friggin glove, with lots of bolster support. I could easily see myself getting a comparable "pocket rocket" car in the future. It's incomparable to the corvette, but I could say that at this point, with me being uncomfortable/nervous in the corvette, the civic was more fun. I expect that will change after I get into my comfort zone with Bettie though.

So what was my replacement? my brother's old 2004 Acura TL, that he took pretty great care of! Pictures and some build thread stuff to follow for that one!


I fear this "Corvette" thread is going to need to be renamed as it's now corvette and civic and TL!

pinchvalve MegaDork
6/7/19 8:30 a.m.

"and I don't think Corvettes are the best thing since sliced bread." 

I don't know, the Z06 has 400hp, steamroller tires, a 6-speed and can be had in decent shape for $20k. Beats the crap out of sliced bread in my book!

And since you mentioned the Fiesta ST, I will leave this here from my most recent autocross:

OK, I think I had a dry run to his wet, but that's still a Fiesta raw-timing a Z06. : )  

rustybuckets Reader
6/7/19 8:39 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

Lol, I don't want to sound like I'm bashing it, I really do like it! It's just that the stereotypical owner thinks it's the best thing ever made, in all of eternity.  It's fast as hell and it makes me smile, and I expect that once I get all the kinks worked out from having it sit too long, it should be pretty reliable! And that's for very close to the price of a new base civic!

I'm excited to hit some autocrosses with it for sure! Also nice job beating one!

russ_mill Reader
6/12/19 6:47 a.m.

Here's the new car!

2004 Acura TL. 3.2 Liter, 6 Speed/ 163k miles.  I have about 3 hours of cleaning to get it to where it is now, but it looks pretty good to me, especially for the age and miles. It runs great, and is a hell of a lot smoother than the civic! Service records are generally up to date - oil changes all on time, timing belt/water pump/thermostat done 50K ago, coolant changes, tranny oil changes, etc done on time, and since I know the owner, I know it was treated gently for the last 120k miles too. Recently it had new CV shafts put in, and 2 new tires, and something else I'm forgetting. I will get it an alignment and balance soon, as well as I need to do a brake bleed and probably transmission fluid change and coolant change just for the heck of it.


Interior wise, it's in great shape too. It has torn driver seat leather and the dash crack problem, but for something at a low budget/nice beater, I'm not worried about it!

I'm very particular about rust, and the bracket holding the tow hook/tie down to the car had some small amounts, so I hit it with some POR-15. Kept looking further and there was some on the rear subframe so I hit the whole area. The rest of the car is, surprisingly, rust free. You can see my poor quality control by dripping paint on the exhaust.

My super quick tune-up was an oil change and air filter change the day I got it. Had a K&N filter - lots of times people forget the "lifetime" means you still have to clean it! Here's old vs new:



So after the alignment and other fluid changes, I want this to be my hopefully reliable winter/crappy weather/more-than-2-people-road-trip daily, with the corvette as my autocross and nice weather car. This year has been super hectic, and I'll be happy to just relax on the car swapping/fixing for a bit and settle into my new(ish) place and all that. 



dclafleur Reader
6/12/19 8:33 a.m.

I always liked those TLs.  Corvettes are a funny thing, they attract rabid fans who love them but have a hard time seeing them for what they are (in fairness almost any enthusiast car does).   That being said they sit in the same odd world as the Miata in that there aren't a lot of things that do what they do for the price they do it, and have continued to fulfill that role for a long time. 

rustybuckets Reader
7/17/19 6:29 a.m.

More TL work, saved more for me than you guys lol.

I was getting an annoying metallic clanking sound from the rear speaker deck. So I took out the seats, then took out the deck cover. Turns out the sound was a faulty seatbelt tensioner so I removed it, and will find a replacement soon.

The car is much quieter now, as that was the most annoying rattle. There are still one or 2 very intermittent and quiet rattles left and maybe I'll get to them. Secondly, when removing the seats, I found an unexpected rust spot. This car is very solid with very little rust, very few rattles, leaks, etc, etc,  so this one surprised me:

Can't let that sit there, so I wire brushed it, hit it with cleaner/degreaser, then POR15 metal prep/etch, 2 coats of rust reformer, and 2 coats of satin black paint. I'm a crappy painter, but who is ever going to see this?!

That's all for now. If you read this far looking for corvette updates, if things go well, I should have some this weekend. Life has been a little too hectic lately and I can only steal a little bit of time every once in awhile.


rustybuckets Reader
7/22/19 7:16 a.m.

Busy, hot, sweaty, but successful weekend! 

I finally had a free weekend, and I took full advantage to work on Bettie. First thing is the essentials - the Power Steering system. To recap, right when I bought the car, the P/S pulley exploded on me (while driving!). So, I pulled the system, replaced the pulley and pump, and called it a day. However, if I was not getting airflow through the cooler (even while not turning/stressing the system), I would start to lose power assist. Queue many fluid changes and attempted air burpings which never produced a solution. So I decided to rehab the whole system, since I believe I had a defective refurb'ed P/S pump. 

I replaced the P/S pump with a top-of-the-line Turn One unit, a new High pressure hose, new aluminum baffled reservoir, new line from reservoir to pump, and Synthetic Redline fluid. I drove about 200 miles of mixed driving in the hottest weather of the year, and I haven't had any problems YET. It feels much better than before in every way. Let me get into some major traffic and we'll see how it goes though lol. The whole fix took about 5 hours since it was 'fricken hot, and I was cramped into a small space doing 1/8 turns of a wrench since access is so limited. 

Didn't take too many pictures of the P/S changes, but did snag this one of old to new reservoir. It's expensive, so at least it's pretty! 

I also wanted a partition between the main cabin and the trunk. It's too loud in the cabin (road noise- not a good, engine/exhaust sound), and stuff can slide around too easy. It looks like this:


So I made this with a half inch piece of wood, sound dampener material on both sides, and covered with carpet.

I didn't want to drill into the floor or supports at all so I JB Plastic welded some brackets into the correct place. Here it is from the back:

And from the passenger compartment:

It's not perfect fitment by any means, but it helps immensely with cutting down road noise, the speakers sound better, and the car gets cooler faster. I'm very happy with it!

Last but not least, I wanted a little contrast on the rear of the car. It's a large expanse of plastic, and I don't find it that appealing. So I masked up the valence and accomplished this:

I'm very happy with it, so that makes 2 "creative" things I've done with Bettie that I'm happy with lol. I can replace parts (mediocrely), but actually fabricating or painting usually turns out pretty bad. 

Not to ruin the streak of fixing one thing and breaking 2 (is this the Medusa of cars??), as soon as I fixed this all and was happy, my headlights took a crap! If you'll remember, when I bought Bettie, she had 100% working headlights. I went to turn them off one day and the lights turned off, but the headlight motors never engaged. OK, no big deal, the lights turn on and off, they're just stuck in pop-up mode. Well the instant I fix everything, I go for a drive. When it gets dark as I'm coming home, I flip on the lights. The driver side motor decides to work, and instantly strips the gears! I should note that this is a known and normal problem. So now I have one passenger headlight in the full upright position, and one droopy driver side light. Which means I need to fix the reason the motors aren't both operating, and I need to fix the gears (I already ordered brass gears for each side).

And then it rained. And I found another leak into the cabin. Great lol.

Maybe it's time for some glamour shots? Maybe she's mad at me for not doing it sooner? I didn't want to do it all wonky eyed!


rustybuckets Reader
7/29/19 7:10 a.m.

Leaks and old rubber wink.

Cabin Leaks and old rubber are the name of the game this weekend. I was at a family reunion this weekend and didn't get much car time, but I did get to do some flying in an experimental plane, and now I'm convinced I need my pilot's license. It was so cool that I obviously was enjoying the experience and not taking pictures, but here's one!

As far as Bettie goes, I gave her a new PCV elbow as the old elbow was disintegrating, and I ziptied the lines together to prevent the one closer to the engine from touching it and getting hotter than necessary.

I then sealed the ENTIRE length of the trunk/cabin/hardtop interface as I was still getting some leaks from what I assume was that area. I had done the edges before, which helped but did not fully remove the problem. Time will tell. Or better yet, a car wash will tell now that it has dried. It was a pain getting RTV in there, so hopefully my hack job worked. If not, I guess I need more RTV lol.


I ordered the headlight gear set including brass gears, sealant, and a brace, which should be in this week. Looking to finish that project soon, and then tackle the electrical headlight problem. I think I know what part is wrong, and it will set me back another hundred. However, once that is done I think I am just ready to put some major miles on her.

rustybuckets Reader
7/30/19 6:09 a.m.

Leak Update: Lots of rain last night, and no water in the cabin when I drove to work! While that's admittedly much smaller than everything else I've done with Bettie, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere lol. It's probably because the interior didn't feel humid/musky/damp/etc.

rustybuckets Reader
8/16/19 7:01 a.m.

Finally fixed my headlights!

If you recall, my headlights stopped popping up and down. The problem led me to the Headlight control module, which is a common failure point on these systems. They are a 2 piece design with a mold and a backing plate glued/gooped together. The same goop that fails everywhere else in the car to cause leaks. So I ordered a new one, and plastic welded the backplate on so this doesn't happen again. 

OK, easy enough. Now both headlights want to work - great, right??? Well.... I said "want". After HCM replacement, and about 2 cycles of the lights, I stripped my passenger side pop-up gear. Another common problem, and the solution is brass gears for about $90 for the kit.

It got stuck at this angle.

Here's the motor - you'll notice OLD grease, and that the worm gear hardly engages the plastic gear.

It's hardly stripped! It also gave a horrid sound trying to lift or lower the light!

So, new brass gears, nice new grease, and plastic weld the cases together so the linkage doesn't pull it apart again (another common problem on the driver side if you use just silicone to hold the motor together, because the motors aren't symmetric). I guess you could say I like plastic weld a lot, and I do. For non critical parts that are unseen, I think it provides a strong hold, and it's very easy to use. I mean, the corvette is the plastic fantastic anyways, right??

OK, so headlights go up and down now!

Not so bright though.....

Solution - LED headlights. I've read mixed reviews, but these were definitely better than 16 year old halogens. Here they are for comparison.


So I now have properly working headlights that actually pop up and down!! Win!

Next on the list is autocross prep. I am 6'3", and I am having helmet issues trying to simply sit in the car. I've already popped out the springs in the seats, bolstered the sides better, and removed the sun visors to get extra head and eyesight room. I COULD buy new seats, but I can't decide on what I want at the moment, and I'm leery of losing adjustability. So... out came the headliner.

Headliner out, seats lowered, and helmet on, and I have a half inch of clearance. I think that's all I can hope for for now, but it will do. And the bare ceiling looks weird, plus I'm making this car mine, as you can see, so sticker time!

I'll add as I go, there's plenty of "canvas space"

dclafleur Reader
8/16/19 7:50 a.m.

Seats are a real dilemma for me too, my stock seat is so worn down that it hurts to sit in for a long time (but on the plus side plenty of helmet clearance) but I'm not really willing to give up a stock seatbelt arrangement yet because I still like to give my kid a ride around town in it every now and then. I like the novel solution on the headliner!

rustybuckets Reader
8/16/19 8:53 a.m.

In reply to dclafleur :

That is a real dilemma. Same as with the steering wheel -it's horrible, but it retains an airbag, and I'm NOT giving that up. I wouldn't give up the stock seatbelts for your kid's sake either. 

Maybe aftermarket seat for you, stock for passenger?

rustybuckets Reader
9/3/19 9:14 a.m.

Although we had a 3-day weekend, I didn't accomplish many car tasks. 

I went to do the TL's brake fluid, and it was going pretty well until I got to the rear bleeder valve and stripped it frown.  It's soaking with PB blaster and I'll probably hammer a size smaller socket onto it and hope it comes out. It did clearly need new fluid though!

And I guess I'll just do the whole job again once I get a new bleeder screw, and ensure I got all the old stuff out of the ABS system. 


As far as Bettie goes, I got her an aluminum steering rack bushing from DRM motorsports. The steering is pretty responsive and doesn't wander, but when I go over small things like speed bumps, I feel a shimmy in the wheel. I think this may solve it. She's going to get that, new brake fluid, and I have to fix my reverse lights as they don't engage. That SHOULD be a $10 sensor or possibly a fuse. After that, it's time for the fun stuff finally! First up is new exhaust!

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