Shine time

After getting the F355 back from its annual maintenance I like to spend an extended session washing and polishing the car over the holiday break. This sets up protection nicely for the year I find.

I start by washing the car with Dodo juice Born to be Mild Shampoo.

Dodo Juice Born to be Mild Shampoo 250mL

I use a Mint Microfibre Wash Mitt. Back when I first got the car I didn’t know better and used a ‘cheap’ sponge and chamois, both of which have left micro scratches on the paint work.

After a thorough clean, I pull the car inside and break out the random orbital polisher.

Menzerna Power Lock Polymer Sealant 250mL

When I first got the polisher I was pretty afraid of using it on the F355, so I experimented on my daily driver. Once I was confident that I wouldn’t do too much harm, I moved onto using with the F355.

After watching many, many Youtube videos on polishing cars I was prepared to do the full paint correction process. If you have never done this then there are multitude of options with polishes and pads, all of varying ‘cuts’. Best practice is to start with the least aggressive and only use a more aggressive polish or pad as needed. This can be a quite time consuming, and I will also admit, frustrating process. You want to ‘cut’ the paintwork back only enough to also remove all the scratches and marks. Doing this on the F355 is a bit ‘botty’ clenching I must say.

Another thing that I didn’t initially appreciate is how fatiguing using a polisher can be. The polisher itself is quite heavy, ungainly and noisy. Manipulating through various polishing attempts across the whole car wears you out pretty quickly along with all the bending through different heights on the car. During my first attempt at this, I did use a more aggressive polish and pad to remove what I could. Doing so ended up with some red paint transfer onto the polishing pad. Not unexpected but also not something that I felt confident going further with. That’s why I can still some evidence of ‘improper’ washing early on in the paintwork even today.

In the end, I decided that was good enough and that I’d live with the miro scratches, even though the perfectionist in me wanted to do it ‘properly’. From that point forward I’ve decide to only ‘seal’ the car annually. I do this by using a polishing and Menzerna Power Lock Polymer Sealant. At the end of the day, if I had an infinite amount of time and energy, I’d certainly do a full paint correction and then multiple layers of protection but that would take days not hours!

After all this, I give he car a once over with Permanon Goldline PSI+14.

Permanon Goldline PSI+14-0

Permanon is an electrostatic polish which means that it bonds to the paintwork thanks to electrical attraction. It can also be safely applied to all surfaces including rubber, glass, plastic, etc. Getting polish marks on the seals of the car I find really annoying and hard to avoid when using traditional wax polish, but Permanon overcomes that. Permanon also works well in protecting the rims from brake dust as it has a boiling point higher than any brake dust that tries to attach itself to the rim.  You can read more and see a cool video of how well it works here:

https://www.permanonfinishes.com/product-page/permanon-psi-14-gold-line

Permanon is my go to polish after every normal wash. It is easy to mix, goes a long way, can be sprayed on after the car is rinsed but before dried, and as I said can go onto any surface without worry. I’ve used it for years and recommend it highly.

So once a year I’ll give the F355 a deep clean, then run over it once with a random orbital polisher and a polishing pad with Menzerna Power Lock Polymer Sealant. I then finish it off with Permanon which I’ll continue to use after every wash throughout the year. That seems to work well for me. As I said, I’d love to have the time and energy to be able to fully correct the paintwork and apply multiple layers of polish but in the end it is simply too exhausting. I may get someone to take on this complete task somewhere down the track but for now, the car is clean and ready for 2021!

Almost everything is fixed

The good news is that the car is back from its service. The annoying news is that there is still a few more things that need to be done.

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Here’s the replaced clutch plate, which appears to be original (i.e. the only one the car has had after all this time). Can’t complain, about 25 years in age and around 90,000 kilometres in travel.

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You can see that it is worn by looking at the ridges and noting that the many are missing as you go around the plate. These missing ridges indicate that clutch material has been worn down. You’ll also notice that the plate tends to wear on the outside. This is expected as the plate grabs on the outside first.

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The other interesting thing is that the plate isn’t worn evenly. As you see above, in some places it is badly worn (left) and in others (right) it isn’t! I’ll have to work out why that might happen, however, all in all the old plate was pretty knackered, which you expect after all these years.

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Above is the old clutch release bearing that was also replaced. The replacement is an older OEM style release bearing mainly due to it’s reduced price and availability compared to the upgraded model. The upgraded version is over twice the cost currently of the OEM version, without a lot of difference so I’m told. Main point is, I needed a new bearing and now I have one.

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The inner ring is the actual bearing that spins and makes contact with the clutch springs when the the clutch pedal is depressed as shown above. Again, being the original bearing, it has had a good life and is beginning to wear and not move as freely as it did initially. Unfortunately, the bearing itself can’t se serviced so a new one is in order.

One of things that I struggled to understand was how the clutch release bearing was actually pushed onto the clutch springs. This can be done either using a mechanical arm or the modern approach is to use hydraulics.

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What I worked out initially was that with the F355 it was hydraulic. You can see the two hydraulic lines for the clutch at the top of the housing as shown above, one of which goes off to a bleed valve. What stumped me for quite a while was how it got from here to moving the actual clutch release bearing.

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It turns out that those lines that go into the housing go through to the mounting frame as shown above.

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The support flange (part number 168589), shown above, has two matching holes. that align with those on the casing.

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You’ll see that the support flange is stepped and at the top of that step are two more holes where the hydraulic fluid can flow as shown above.

Onto this flange will fit the clutch release bearing, which has a number of seals to keep the hydraulic fluid from leaking out during operation. It is important that all these seals are good, otherwise you’ll get fluid leaks and increased wear.

I found these three videos to be a handy reference for the whole change over process:




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The passenger’s rear hyperblock (part number 114812) or chock absorber mount, as you can see above, also needed to be changed. It should look like:

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and is found here:

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Apart from this, it seems that there is also a problem with the shock absorber actuator (part number 158732) which sits at the top of the assembly.

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Unfortunately, that part is not available, so it will be ordered in for my next visit to Racing Red.

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This fault actuator also results in a yellow suspension warning light to be displayed on the right hand side of the dash as shown above (the red light above it is just the seat belt warning light telling me to buckle up), which is on now all the time. I must admit that this is annoying, as I can’t fully relax while driving with a warning light on the dashboard. However, it isn’t a show stopper and will be fixed, so I’ll just have to deal with it for now! Still annoying though.

So Liverpool Exhaust still have the cats to be re-cored. They said ‘maybe’ before Christmas, otherwise, in the New Year. Again, annoying but I appreciate this time of year is busy and I’d rather have them done right than rushed. For now, Sal was replaced the missing cats with some temporary straight pipes to tide me over. Lucky that he had some he could ‘lend’ me.

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You can see some other parts that were changed above.

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Two cam belt tensioners as shown above (part number 167464), one on either side for each cylinder bank.

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Two timing belts as shown above (part number 184986). Again, one on either side for each cylinder bank.

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Two inside boot covers (part number 70006021/A) as shown above. These were actually replaced back in 2013. You can read about that here:

https://blog.lovethe355.com/2013/12/07/annual-service/

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There is also a full ‘boot kit’ you can use (part number 7006021 – Gaiter Replacement kit) here:

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The reason the boots fail is because of the heat generated by the engine over time. This is supposed to be mitigated by the heat shields:

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which are not really long enough to fully protect the in board boots. Sal has now extended these heat shields out further to try and prevent this happening again, however seven years isn’t too bad for the boots considering how hot the engine does get.

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If you haven’t been following along with the whole story, back in May 2014 I reversed the car into a pole in the middle of the street:

https://blog.lovethe355.com/2014/05/26/look-before-reserving/

that cracked the bumper and also snapped part of the diffuser under the car off. I had the bumper repaired a while back but the diffuser remained broken, which annoyed me every time I looked under the rear of the car.

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Luckily, Sal had some replacement diffusers (part numbers 64841000 [left], 64840900 [right]) which are now installed.

Unfortunately, it seems the suspension springs can’t be effectively re-conditioned because if you do they will sag again but faster. That means, that at some point down the track, when they get really bad, I’ll have to replace them. For now, they are fine so I’ll leave that for another day.

Finally, some of the directional components of the air conditioning are not working. This restricts where the flow or air can be directed in the car. It doesn’t prevent the air conditioning from operating, just where the flow can be directed using the vents. To rectify that, more parts will need to be ordered and replaced during the next visit.

So, what still needs to be done?

1. Re-installed re-cored cats.

2. Actuator for passenger rear shock absorber.

3. Air conditioning directional vents.

Hopefully all these can be sorted in the New Year and I’ll be fully operational again (without that annoying dash warning light). However, it is good to have the car back again and I can tell you that the new clutch makes a HUGE difference. The car is so much lighter and easier to drive. Changing gears requires almost no effort now! It is always good to notice a positive change after investing all this money and time to get it fixed.

So another annual service is pretty much complete. Only a few items to finish up, hopefully in the New Year. Thanks again to Sal from Racing Red for sourcing all the parts, lending me some spare cats and getting the job done so quickly. Look out 2021, here we come!

Parts in waiting

I followed up with Liverpool Exhaust about getting cats re-cored but no news on how much or when they can be done it seems. Hopefully, I’ll find out on Monday whether these can be done.

Unfortunately, I received news that the clutch release bearing is worn out. Even worse, it turns out that a replacement may prove hard to source.

Here’s what a clutch release bearing does:

Image from Ricambi

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The original part number appears to be 168594 but has now been superseded with an upgraded version which is CRB355MS.

Image from Hills Engineering

Unfortunately, it appears that neither the upgraded version or an original replacement is easily sourced. That means I’ll have to wait and see how long it takes to get either in.

Who let the cats out?

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I once again dropped the F355 off with Sal for it’s annual service. It is going to be a big one this time with:

– the belts to be changed

– springs to be re-conditioned

– clutch change

– cats to be re-conditioned

– registration

– engine service

plus whatever else.

As it turns out, one ‘other else’ is going to be the CV boots which have ruptured due to the heat of the engine:

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These were last changed back at the annual services in 2012:

Annual service (2012)

so they haven’t done too bad considering that’s 8 years of driving.

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Also, one of the rear shock absorbers has a leak from the top of the mount, which will need looking at.

I’ve taken the cats away to Liverpool Exhaust to get them re-cored, per a recommendation. Problem is that they are pretty busy and guy who normally does the job is away at the moment. I’ve left the cats there and I’m awaiting an update on any progress and whether they can do the job. Fingers crossed they can as it would be a pain to go all the way back there simply to pick up the cats and take them somewhere else. We’ll see.

So that’s the status right now. The car is with Sal for the annual service. The engine is out, the cats removed and away for re-coring. I’ll post more when I know more.

Something worth checking

I found this interesting video:

F355 causes of fire

Basically the fuel hoses get worn by a clamp nut over time, especially after an engine out service, if they are not orientated in the correct way. Over time the nut rubs through the fuel line and you end up with fuel spaying into the engine bay. Not good at all! If you have a F355, make sure you check this, especially after and engine out.

The video also details how a water hose that runs between the fuel lines can get worn through by the braided fuel lines themselves and may rupture. Again, something to add to your check list, I suggest.

The eight year anniversary

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Here’s the summary of another year’s ownership of a F355. You may want to catch up on previous episodes:

One Year Anniversary

Two Year Anniversary

Three Year Anniversary

Four Year Anniversary

Five Year Anniversary

Sixth year Anniversary

Seventh year Anniversary

The eighth year they say is  bronze

It’s been a long time between posts but the reason for that is that there’s not been much to report. Let’s cover the major items and then I’ll share some more thoughts at the end.

Costs

The total that was spent on the car for the year was around $9,400. The majority of that was the annual service and the cost of insurance. These two items combined were over 50% of the total costs for the year.

This December will be a major service for the car, with the engine out for the belt change, a new clutch, springs, exhausts and a few other things. All up, it is probably going to be a pretty hefty bill but it is stuff that needs doing and isn’t a surprise, so we’ll see what December brings on that front.

Travel

The car is now not far off the 90,000 kilometre mark. My guess is that sometime in January 2021 it will cross this barrier. I’ve managed to maintain the typical annual kilometres, even the face of the lockdowns that have occurred this year. There was a period about 6 weeks where I didn’t drive the car all due to restrictions. However, some longer drives have apparently made up for that!

Low Points

No major ones this year. Was a shock when I received a letter from my insurance company telling me that their business model had changed and they couldn’t cover me any more. Luckily, I was able to lean on contacts from the Club to find a broker who could help me out and get all that squared away. A tiny bit of bottom clenching until that was all sorted.

I’ve had the odd ‘slow-down’ light appear briefly on the dash, but that has typically been after hitting a bump on the road. Normal stuff.

No major new paint chips or body issues to report. The leather on the driver side seat appears to be wearing a little thin. However, that is expected and something to add to the refurbishment list down the track.

The major low point has simply been the restrictions due to lock downs. This has meant less events and therefore less driving. Hopefully, next years brings improvement on that score.

High Points

Another year of effectively problem free motoring. Enjoyed the Bathurst 12 hours again, with a merry crew of other drivers, but man was it hot this year! Ouchee. Never like standing the car out in 40+ degree C temperatures. But like me, it survived. The drive to and from Bathurst is always very, very enjoyable. Can’t wait to get out there again next year. Just can’t beat the feeling of driving through the country side on a beautiful day in an F355!

Value

The value hasn’t moved much from what I can see. A good F355, manual, red, etc will still set you back around AU$ 250K – 280K it seems. I note there are lots of yellow, blue, black, etc cars out there but red ones are still somewhat rare.

Summary

Given the constraints of lockdown this year, I have no complaints. The car is still magic to drive and I look forward to the experience each and every week.

The big thing that is coming will be the annual service, were the car will have lots done. Luckily, things are quieter this year so it should be easier to accomplish.

Hopefully, I can allocate more time to update this blog more regularly. I kind of fell out of the practice, given the lack of things to write about. However, with things hopefully looking up and the upcoming work on the car, there’ll be more to write about.

All serviced and good to go

The F355 has returned from it’s annual service, all raring to go. With four new tyres, grip shouldn’t be an issue for a while. A broken water tank cap was also replaced along with some touch up for minor paint chips on the nose were also completed during it’s time away. News is that it’ll soon be needing a new clutch, which has been deferred until next year’s service, given that it is easier to access then when the engine is out. Hopefully, the current clutch will last another twelve months with careful driving.

So next year’s service is going to be a large one with an engine out, re-conditioned springs and a new clutch for starters. Time to start saving the pennies! All of these are not a surprise, given the age of the car and are simply components that require work over time. Doing them all when the engine is out makes the most sense as it makes them all easier to get to as well.

With the service complete I also took the opportunity to give the car a good wash and polish as I typically do around this time of the year. Doing so ensures that the paint and finish remain good for twelve months and any dirt normally just hoses off. Given the current summer heat, it is quite an arduous task to give the car a complete once over but in the end there is nothing more stratifying than to have a fully serviced and clean car now parked away.

Phew. So that is 2019 done and dusted. Roll on 2020.

Service time

So it is again time for the F355 to head over to Sal at Racing Red for the annual service. No belts this time, but there are few things that probably need doing.

The first is the annoying flakes that have started to appear at the front of car. I think that the whole bar needs to be removed and repainted as the flakes just seem to re-occur.

Another item is probably a complete set of new tyres. The rears have diminished tread and the fronts are getting a little old, so maybe now is a good time for a complete set?

As always, there is rego to do as well. So nothing major, just some tidy up before the New Year. The fun part is always mixing with the day time traffic but hopefully, that won’t be too bad. We’ll see.

Project 458 continues with biggest challenge being strangely, power. The issue is that where the F355 lives, there is currently no power point. For the F355 this really isn’t an issue but for a more modern car, this a big problem as it needs to be plugged it when stationery. The major reason for this, apparently, is that the battery is small to save weight. This means it doesn’t hold charge for long periods. This means it needs to be constantly trickle charged when stationery. This means it is a problem.

I have tried to find some sort of battery arrangement that I can charge elsewhere and then store in the car, but haven’t had much luck. If you know of something, let me know. This limitation therefore kind of rules out my current location for another car. The challenge then becomes where to storage it?

The further away I store another car the less likely I am to drive it. That would be rather a waste of money now wouldn’t it? Then there is also the additional cost of storage. This isn’t a deal breaker but it does start to add up. I also don’t like not having full control of the location where the car is stored. If that now means I need to buy something just to garage another car, that also seems like a waste of money.

Things to ponder.