Green is not my favourite colour

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After a long hiatus, the F355 was about to go out for a longer run in the spring sunshine. It was also an opportunity to wash the grim off as well. During this process, I notices some coolant leaks (spray) near the firewall, just behind the driver. It had sprayed onto the underside of the engine cover and across the middle of the engine, near the braided connectors as you can see above.I cleaned off the area but upon arriving I notice it had returned.

Ok, this is a current issue that’ll need to be addressed. The amount leaking doesn’t appear to be huge, and I topped up the coolant tank, so the car should be drivable if needed.

After letting the car stand for about an hour upon my return, I check underneath the car and found a steady drop, drop, drop of coolant leaking from right in the middle of the engine. Again, nothing tremendous but enough to have me worried about getting it fixed asap so it doesn’t get worse.   

The nine 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

Eighth year Anniversary

The ninth year they say is pottery

It’s been another year of extended lockdowns and restrictions on movements so comparisons from previous years have gone out the window.

Costs

Total costs for the previous year were actually a little higher at around $11,000 due mainly to insurance (as always) and the annual engine out service and clutch replacement. No doubt the costs would have been much higher without health restrictions.

There are still a few repairs that the car requires, but I am not expecting any major additional costs in the coming year (fingers crossed).

Travel

The car has passed the 92,000 kms mark and, provided restrictions don’t return, I would expect it to go very close to crossing the 100,000 kms mark in the next twelve months. In the last year, the car has only done about 5,000 kms, about 25% less than what it would normally do simply because of the health restrictions.

Low points

Unfortunately, the refurbishment of the cats wasn’t completed until after the annual engine out maintenance was complete. That means they have been laying around for almost twelve months now.

Another hang over from the annual service was the suspension warning light,

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which is more annoying that anything as it is on every time you drive the car. The idea was to get this fixed be replacing an actuator when the cats were replaced. Alas, restrictions have delayed that also.

The final annoying repair this year, that is currently also still in limbo, is the small gear in the air conditioning timing actuator,

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which has perished. I’ve managed to locate a replacement part (which wasn’t easy), and get it shipped to me. However, before I get it put back into my car I’ve sent it off to get some 3D printed copies made so I have spares. Unfortunately, once again, health restrictions have delayed this process significantly.

Apart from these minor annoying repairs that need to be fixed, and they will be, the health restrictions have meant I have been restricted in the driving I’ve been able to do. Luckily, the F355 has a battery isolation switch that prevents the battery going flat.

To keep the car ‘maintained’ I have taken it out every couple of weeks for a few laps around the block. The main aim is simply to get it up to operating temperature and have all the fluids flowing through the pipes to prevent aging.

Fingers crossed that our restrictions will end shortly and I can get back to regular drives as both the F355 and I have missed them.

High points

I can’t really point to many this year unfortunately due to restrictions, However, the car continues to start and drive when asked. The new clutch has also made it a much easier car to drive as well. All in all, the car has endured hibernation remarkably well.

Value

The value has perhaps bumped up a little in the last twelve months, possibly due to asset inflation. I see similar good quality examples like mine being offered from around the $300K mark. As noted last year, rosso corso is certainly not the most common colour on offer these days!

Summary

We live in extraordinary times as they say. I count myself blessed that I have been able to maintain my ownership of the F355 over the past twelve months, even if there have been major restrictions in my enjoyment of doing this. I look forward to shortly getting all the remaining repairs completed and the banishment of warning lights from the dashboard so I can truly enjoy the F355.

As always, I’ll keep you posted of updates about the car as they transpire. These have been limited of late simply because the F355 has spend the majority of its time lately in hibernation, awaiting the opportunity again to roam free on the roads. That day isn’t too far away now!

Gear of misfortune

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So the issue with the 63307100 Timing Actuator I’m having issues with turn out to be with the gear inside as shown above.

Given the teeth are all broken the easiest option seems to be to replace these but new and second hands are hard to come by. Seems like 3D printing might be the best option for a replacement.

Let me see what I can find and report back.

Parts hunt

One of the concerns with a aging car is in the scarcity of replacements parts. Looks like I may be up against that at the moment with the following part:

63307100 Timing Actuator

Which enables air flow to be directed to either the windscreen, central vents or feet. The part is currently unavailable to buy new and as such sourcing a used part is hard to find and expensive.

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So far, no luck with any supplier I have contacted. I’ll keep trying and share the results.

90,000 kilometres

Another milestone reached in the F355 with 90,000 kilometres just clocked over.

Doing roughly 150 kilometres a week means I’ll hit the magical 100,000 mark in about 67 weeks, i.e just over a year.

It is interesting that many people feel the value of the car decreases with more travel but in my experience it is far better to drive these cars than squirrel them away in a garage and drive them once in a blue moon. As long as the car is well looked after, and has all the log books with a complete service history, I’d rather buy a car with more, rather than less kilometres.

However, what I think and what the market believes are two very different things. in the end, I bought the F355 to drive not to hide away in a garage!

Onwards to 100,000, I say!

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.