The reason remain undetermined

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After a few weeks delay, Sal from Racing Red was able to come and look at the F355 and guess what? No fault found! Oh man, how annoying.

Maybe, because I had the battery isolated for a long period and the engine fully cooled down, that the problem went away (at least for now).

Given the symptoms, of going into limp mode, one would expect it to be an ECU ‘Slow down’ issue as I have experienced before. But Sal tells me that would generally mean the ‘Slow down’ light would appear on the dash rather than the ‘Check Engine’ light (which is what happened in this case).

If we assume that the ‘Slow down’ ECUs and probes are ok then the issue may lie with the airflow sensor. 

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The problem with this is that they no longer make this part new. That would mean sourcing a suitable used version. Finding that could prove tough, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it and know that is actually the problem.

With no fault found all I can do is leave the car turned on and take it for a long drive, stop to get fuel and see if the issue returns. If it does then at least I know I should be able to get it home, isolate the battery again for a period of time, get it working and over to Sal’s workshop so he can take a closer look.

Frustrating that the secret remains hidden as I would prefer not to have the issue arise again when I’m out on a run. Fingers crossed.

What a way to spoil a drive

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Unfortunately, it is time for the F355 to play up. This doesn’t happen very often BUT I am fully appreciative that it will happen as the car is now approaching 98,000 kilometres travelled. And today was the day.

I was out on a Club drive heading south along the coast. We had taken the freeway and stopped at the top of Bulli pass to grab a coffee. All good so far. After about 20 minutes I jumped back in the car, but when I started it I was greeted with ‘chugging’. The engine was spluttering and the ‘Check Engine 5-8’ light stayed on for longer than normal before extinguishing. I turned the car off and on but was greeted with the same result. Oh no!

Now this has happened before. Typically it has happened on a cold morning after I have filled up with fuel and returned to start my car. Generally, the car ‘chugs’ a bit and then is fine. It has happened two or three times over the life of the car and not recently.

Having seen these symptoms before, I continued along the freeway south hoping it would clear but it was obvious that the car had not fixed itself and was in fact now running in ‘limp mode’ (with only half the cylinders working). You can tell this because it simply has no guts to get up a hill. Along the flat or down a hill it is generally ok but on almost any incline it is a pig. I have experienced this before but not for many years.

With something clearly wrong with the car, I pull over again on the side of the freeway and did a battery isolation (i.e. disconnect and reconnect the battery via the switch in under the bonnet). The idea with doing this is to reset the engine management system and hopefully clear any errors.

Unfortunately, when I restarted the car I still had issues again. The return of ‘limp mode’. I knew it was time to abort the run and head for home. I turned right and headed across to the Hume Highway, M7 and M2 route home.

I pulled over again a few kilometres along, isolated the battery again, and waited a few minutes to see if that, perhaps, would clear things. Nope. Same problem. Damm! Off we go again.

I continued on my way, luckily at freeway speeds, avoiding traffic. I did debate whether to pull over again once the car got nice and warm to see if another reset would help, but decided against it. Let’s just get the car home asap I figured.

The last part, off the freeway, on suburban streets as a real challenge, especially going up any hill. To add salt to the wounds there was a huge bank up of traffic near the destination due to a car festival. Of all the days!

After crawling through the traffic I finally made it back. Even stopping and starting the car here still made no improvement, something is broken for sure. My guess is a sensor has decided that today was the day to go to God.

The positives are that I was able to get the car back home and hopefully I didn’t stress it too much running in limp mode. Next step is to see what needs to be done to get it fixed! I hope that can be done where it is and not having to take the car somewhere as it is a real pig to drive. But, let’s wait and see what the options are.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens next.

A place away from the crowds

I am now able to house the F355 in a space that isn’t open to others and has it’s own security. Although nothing ever happened to it where it was, I was always worried about it getting hit by others. Now no more! Yeah!

Having a space makes it much easier to work on the car when needed. This certainly came in handy after getting the car back after having the interior refurbished, because the alarm light wasn’t working.

When I removed the ashtray to have a look why, the actual LED completely broke away and fell down inside the car. I could see it down there, but honestly it wasn’t worth fishing it out. I pulled the wires that ran to the LED through the dash and taped them up temporarily. I then started a quest to get a replacement LED and mounting.

Initially, I found something that I thought would work but the challenge was getting it connected in place. I wasn’t particularly keen on having a soldering iron anywhere near the car, so I decided that a screw on connector would work best. I also wanted to have a system where I could plug and unplug the LED if needed. This become pretty obvious when you want to remove the ashtray for any reason.

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I bought the above audio connectors from Amazon. They are perhaps a little big but it does make it easy to connect and disconnect when needed.

The initial LED I bought I wired up and started testing. When I did, I saw it was drawing about 0.06 amps. I looked up some load tables and found that the battery would be more than able to cope with this and shouldn’t drain completely for about two weeks. However, given that I had the opportunity to reduce the load now I decided to do some more hunting.

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In the end I settled on a 12V mini chrome bezel from Jaycar. It was pretty small but I liked the fact that already came with a casing. Even better, when I tested it, the drain was only 0.03 amps. That is, half of the original one. So, LED secured. Check.

Next, I had to find a way to mount to the console. The exposed portion was straight forward, but securing it underneath proved a real challenge. In the end I managed to secure it with some foam packing and nylon washers. Not the cleanest job but it seemed to do the trick. Besides, it would be easy to remove if I ever had to.

I wasn’t 100% sure whether the LED was 12 or 5 volts but decided to assume it would be 12 volts and adjust if needed. I removed the ashtray (again – man I thought I done this enough times already!) and secured one of the plugs with screw terminals into place. Next, I mounted the LED from the external side of the console and secured as best I could using the nylon washers. I then screwed in the other connector. Now, deep breath, make the connection and voila! The LED started flashing in its familiar pattern. Success!

I carefully put everything back in place and finally screwed the ashtray back. Hopefully, It will be a long time before I need to go back in there but at least now, disconnecting the alarm LED should be straightforward.

It felt good to be able to do a minor repair in a environment where I could have both doors open, a set of tools lying on the ground and no one looking at you. I can also report that the following week the car started and ran as expected, so no unexpected shorts or unforeseen current drainage.

I’m approaching my tenth year of ownership and I’d do a write up on that milestone soon. Hopefully, with the car in a better location I’ll be able to write more articles! Let’s see. 

The parts are back

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The good news is that all the bits are back! They were sent to Carplastix in the Czech Republic.

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What an excellent job. Just take a look at the refurbished A/C console above. Bright and shiny logos and text as well as a great finish that ensures no more stickies!

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The man that has put in all the hard work to get the interior sparkling is Elliot Caras whom you can find at elliotcaras@gmail and @restored_by_elliot on Instagram. Elliot loves the 355 and I highly recommend you reaching out if you need some work done. I’ve booked my car in with him (although there is long wait he is so busy) to get the suspension and shocks done next. Maybe on day it’ll be concourse material?

All that said, I have not as yet seen the car in the flesh. That’ll be later this week. I’m afraid to get it dirty now! However, I think the desire to drive the car is going to beat that in the long run.

Go figure

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The F355 is getting closer to being returned with a complete refurbished interior, which is awesome. Interestingly, one of these steps was stripping the coating that had been applied to the centre console as you can see above. When I saw this I was dumb struck I will admit. Why the hell would anyone do this?

Seems the reason is that during resale, the quick way to ‘refurbish’ leather is to simply paint it with a coating that kind of looks like make up doesn’t it? It apparently requires a huge amount of work to remove unfortunately. I ‘sort of’ understand why it is done to help get the car ‘out the door’ but I still can’t understand why you’d do something like this that makes it really really hard to remove on a car like the F355. That’s perhaps why I’m not a car dealer. I just don’t get it.

The good news is that it has been removed and luckily is not also on the seats which would be a a major headache! So no long now until I’ll have the F355 back with a bright shiny interior. Can’t wait!

The goal posts have moved

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What started out as a simply a project to remove the vent ‘stickies’ has typically become a whole lot more. Given that the car is currently off the road for a while, I have taken the recommended option of giving the whole interior a ‘refresh’. You can see the current state above. Compare the carpet colour there to what it was originally:

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It has gone from a pinkish crimson to a deep red just with steam clean! Nice eh? Probably the first one since the car was originally delivered over 25 years ago!

Another thing that has been done is the removal of the vinyl cavallino shields from the front guards.

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and now, hey presto

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much better!

I’ve always thought that they really didn’t suit the car and were a tad ‘tacky’, however I’d always been hesitant to remove them for fear of stripping the paint. Anyway, that is now another job that has been completed from my overall long term check list.

The car is going to look pretty amazing when it is done, inside and out! Can’t wait till it’s all done.

An interior refresh

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After recently discovering the ‘stickies’, I reached out to a few owners to see what they suggested as the best course of action. The recommendations varied from applying a coating to cleaning with solvent. All of these would have involved a major effort on my part and also ran the risk of damaging other parts of the car, especially the leather on the dash. I also figured that once things start becoming ‘stickie’ it is only a matter of time until it all becomes ‘stickie’. Thus, if I’m going to fix things, I should get it done properly.

Luckily, another contact has extensive experience with this and suggested a interior cabin refresh, including refurbishing all the trim pieces. This would also include laser etching the graphics back onto the trim, which I had also been considering as some of my switches were becoming worn and faded.

Downside is that the car needs to be away for a couple of weeks to have all the trim pieces removed, sent away to be reconditioned and then re-installed. During the same time it was suggested to do a full interior detail, which I agreed with. It makes sense to do this while the trim pieces are off and the car is in pieces. It was something I have been meaning to do myself but just never had a location in which I could do this.

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One of the areas where the wear and tear is most obvious is on the door handle, buttons and grip. Part of the refreshment process will be to also tidy these up which will be great as these had been areas that were starting to annoy me.

There are far cheaper ways to remove the ‘stickies’ but I’d rather get it done properly and completely so I don’t have to worry. Also getting the interior detailed and tidied up during the same time also makes sense and was something I was going to do. Given that the inside is where you spend the most time with the car it makes a lot of sense to get this done and time away from the car is a small price to pay for this. Also, doing this will add to the value of the car and let’s be honest, after 25+ years of use it could do with a once over!

I’ll have more to share as this process progresses so stay tuned.

The stickies have arrived

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I was adjusting one of the vents in the middle of the dashboard and discovered that it is suffering from the well known Ferrari ‘stickies’ that plague many older cars. Basically, the coating on the plastic begins to separate from the actual plastic moulding leaving a nasty black sticky residue.

Luckily for me, this is really the only place I have found it. Not doubt it has been caused by sun exposure over the years, given the position of the vent on the dash. The question now is how to fix it? The challenge is that there are so many remedies out there, finding the best one is the next step. It’ll also be a little tricky to get right into the vents and I’ll no doubt need to clean the complete surface and lot of reside is going to come off I reckon.

The problem would be far worse if it was on the buttons for the A/C in the centre console. Finger crossed that it doesn’t start appearing there as well. Being on the vent in the dash means that I don’t to worry about it too much but I’ll need to start working on a solution because the reside does make quite a mess and will only continue to deteriorate.

In good news the 3D printed cog for the A/C controller that deteriorated appears to do the job when inserted in the controller. The next step will be to get the 3D people to make me a few copies that I can make available to people if they want. No idea on a prices as yet because I need to work out how many to make and what the actual, rather than test, costs are going to be. I’ll certainly post an update when I have that sorted, hopefully in the next few weeks.

The next 3D challenge will be to copy the F355 ashtray body, which I had lots of drama with back in the day.

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Hopefully, being a bigger item it will be easier to 3D print this and perhaps make it out of stronger material to prevent the arms from snapping as you see above.

As always, once one projects ends another appears. Let’s see what witchcraft people recommend to get rid of the ‘stickies’.

A great phone mount

One of the great challenges with an old, ahem, I mean classic car is the need for somewhere to mount your mobile. Even though I don’t like using a phone at all when I’m driving the F355, I find it indispensable to have access to things like Waze to show me my route and any hazards along the way.

One of the challenges I’ve always had when using a phone in the F355 is mounting it. I’ve tried various locations (door side and mid mounted) as well as various mounts and can’t say that I’ve really been happy with any of them.

The problem with mounting the phone on the door side of the wheel is that firstly, there is not a lot of space there to install the mount and then to insert the phone into the holder. The other challenge with the mount in that location is that it is a long way from the lighter for power, meaning you need to have a long cord to reach the charging point. That makes the cabin messy and leaves wires dangling when you remove the phone if you get out of the car. Having the phone here also blocks the small air vent.

A similar problem with blocking the air vents occurs if you place the mount in the middle of the in line with the centre console. However, here it blocks at least one of the two larger vents in the centre of the console. During hot Australian summers you need as much directed cool air as you can get inside the cabin of the F355 at times. I will however admit that I rarely wind up the windows and rely solely on the air conditioning, but still a phone in this location does block the direct air flow to your face.

The other issue that annoys me with using a centre mounted phone is having the power connections dangling across the gear stick. Not only is it messy it can potentially interfere with your driving. The problem can be rectified with the correct length power cable from the lighter. One that is not too long and one that is not too short. You want one that is just right right, and finding that is a pain.

Having lived with a clip style mount on the door side of the steering wheel and having to wedge an ever growing iPhone size into this I have been in the market for a better option for a while now. The good news is that I reckon I have found one! I will say here that I have not received anything to endorse this product but here is a referral link of mind that will give you a ‘standard’ 10% off:

http://quadlock.refr.cc/directorcia

You can find the Quad Lock YouTube channel here:

QUAD LOCK – YouTube

Here is the video on the car mount;

Quad Lock – Car Mount – YouTube

I went with a kit that included the mount, wireless charging head and screen protector (as I needed a new one anyway) for around AUD$150. You can probably get cheaper but I liked the look of the ‘twist-style’ locking mechanism and having the wireless charging head meant I didn’t need to be pulling a cable out of the phone every time I needed it outside the car. Likewise, when you get back in the car, you twist it back onto the mount and you are good to go. That is really what appealed to me when I saw the ad pop up on my YouTube feed.

It all arrived in a few short days (tick) and what impressed me the most when I got hands on was the simplicity and quality of the mount (tick).

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It is a smooth arm with a large locking mechanism as well as an adjustable lock for the head connection to the phone (tick). I changed out the standard head for the wireless charging head and then mounted in the centre of the windscreen in the F355. The locking mechanism for the mount is extremely strong (tick) and all you need to do is turn it 90 degrees and you are done. Make sure you remove the plastic cover from the base of the screen locking area first or it won’t really ‘stick’ to your windscreen.

With the base now positioned in the middle of the screen I locked my phone into the head, which does take a little doing to align the mounting point on the phone case with the head but the more I used it the better I found it. I then adjusted the head to the face more toward me (tick) and locked that in place with the head lock. I also connected the wireless charging head to the lighter with the cable provided. As always, this leaves an exposed cable running across the gear stick, but there is no real way to avoid this unless you hard wire that power connection in. However, it wasn’t too bad. Certainly better than other phone charging solutions I’ve tried over the years.

Getting the best position of the mount with the phone in your car is always the challenge. As I said previously, I’d prefer not to cover my vents and I certainly don’t want to obstruct my vision while driving but having it mounted in the centre of the windscreen using the Quad Lock has worked well so far. That’s why I thought I’d share my experiences with this product as you’ll find lots of review out there, good and bad. It does cover the direct flow of the vent to my face still but the phone is a distance away from the vent at least allowing cool air into the cabin if needed.

In summary, I’d give the Quad Lock car mount two thumbs up. It does what it says. It has a quality look and feel. It is well designed and allows for adjustments on the viewing angle, which I found really nice. The mount onto the windshield is very strong and getting the phone on and off the mount is pretty easy after some initial practice.

If you are keen to also give this a try don’t forget to grab my discount link for 10% off:

http://quadlock.refr.cc/directorcia

and head over to:

Car – Quad Lock® Australia – Official Store (quadlockcase.com.au)

to select the mount for your phone.

Like I said, I didn’t get anything special for this review and I only get 5% of any purchase that uses my link to be totally transparent. However, I’d still recommend it even without that as it has proved to be exactly what I’ve been looking for to manage my phone easily in the F355.

We maybe getting somewhere

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It seems that we may be one step closer to getting a 3D print of the cog that is part of the timing actuator for the air conditioning that failed on me.. Someone has finally been able to render the part into a file that can then be used to actually create the cog!

Now that the part is on file it should be straight forward to print it. I’m not holding my breath as this tiny component has pushed many people to breaking point, including me. However, fingers crossed, the end result should not be too far away now. Then it needs to be tested to see whether it actually does the job.