While you get bits and pieces of restoration happenings from Instagram, I realized I’ve never written up in detail a lot of my little fixes and procedures. This is mostly because I tend to get caught up in what I’m doing and end up forgetting to take photos or make notes along the way. I know a lot of you want to attempt these repairs, too, so that’s why we’re going to use Franz as our how-to vehicle going forward. Almost everything I’ve done to the fleet in the past needs to be done to this car – so hopefully this inspires you to attempt to refresh whatever you own, too!
As to not overwhelm myself, and also realizing the need to keep him as a daily driver throughout the restoration, I will limit weekly writeups to 1-3 topics. Obviously, if you want further explanations or just want to chat about what’s going on, message me on Instagram or use the email contact on here.
Updates are organized newest to oldest. Use this info at your own risk: While I promote an encouraging attitude towards DIY fixes, I’m not responsible for whatever you break trying to do them!
Week 11: Franz Lives
Do I mention my Dad enough? Probably not, but he’s the reason Franz got put back together just in time for holiday enjoyment. While I dealt with a very tumultuous time at work and in my personal life, my Dad took the initiative to make sure this car was done. While this week is light on pictures (because I was *not* there when this all went down), here’s the scoop on how this surgery went.
From last week, I ended with a pretty ugly picture of an 016 in need of some help. While the clutch was indeed replaced just a few thousand miles ago, the throwout bearing seemed to have not been done, and then I discovered the transmission was nearly bone-dry. While I might have been more preemptive about certain fixes before putting Franz into daily use, I find myself without the time to do so lately.
But the biggest issue that needed to be faced was the flywheel itself. The reference timing pin for the G4 sensor had clearly broken off before, but instead of go the OEM route, we found an oddly large metal tab in the bell housing that must have been welded on to fix this issue. If you look deep in the archives of the old Audi forums, some people have successfully done a similar procedure, but my God, I don’t understand why you would do this. Not only did this metal tab require a lot of shims at the G4 sensor to allow the sensor to produce the correct signal, but the tab was welded about 10 degrees off from where it needed to be. While Franz didn’t run terribly, he had some hiccups in the ignition system that obviously would be resolved with this.
I am extremely fortunate to have local resources for a lot of the problems I tend to encounter with these cars. Eastwoods Auto Machine in Somersville, CT is literally 10 minutes from HQ and was able to resurface the flywheel and install a new timing reference pin to the correct specification. In case you’re wondering, the pin sticks out around .475 inches. The shop did a fantastic job and we got the flywheel back in a couple of days.
While I wasn’t around for this arduous task, my Dad reinstalled the transmission and all other removed components. He called me while I was at work so I could hear Franz roar back to life like a good boy.
Not even 5 minutes after being off the jack stands, I noticed the accelerator pedal wasn’t feeling very springy. Oh boy. Thankfully something simple but mildly important: the throttle cam broke off a nice chunk of plastic that keeps the throttle cable routed. 034 makes an all-steel version which permanently solves this issue. A cable tie sufficed for the day but I had this swapped out within minutes after FedEx dropped it off.
The holidays were a little different last year after the 5000 got smashed and I was recovering. I definitely missed out on some of my family’s normal traditions so this year I wanted to make sure to get to them all. On the Audi side of things, that means a wreath and a tree for starters. I also wanted to do a little decorating at HQ just because. I was fortunate enough to group my remaining vacation days at work so I have a 5-day Christmas vacation beginning December 21. The rest of the festivities begin then!
Weeks 9 & 10: Not Ready For Winter
Before taking on Franz, I decided to do quickly get the coolant hose swapped out on Erlend. The lower radiator hose ripped at the thermostat housing. Whatever. The bigger concern is that you can’t get this lower hose anywhere. No, the FWD 4000 hose won’t work: this guy is specific to quattro 4000s and 5-cylinder VW Quantums. Dayco made an OE replacement which I tried ordering from three different places – nope, backordered indefinitely. And I’d prefer to not get one of those flex hoses just yet and keep it OEM for as long as possible. Thankfully I was smart enough to save the hose from the parts car 4000 quattro and it was in decent shape.
These are easy to replace. Not pictured here, but if the cardboard cover/tray is still present on your B2, it needs to be removed (carefully). I re-coated the cardboard with some paint and waterproofer when the timing belt was done back in May, and it still looks good. A little anaerobic sealant on both ends and the clamps were tightened.
A quick drive around the block and everything was OK again!
Hate to break the news, but after going through all the troubleshooting steps it was determined Franz ate his flywheel timing pin, which also damaged the G4 sensor in the process. It would have been nice to have the lift in before needing to pull a transmission, but Audis break when they want to…
I had a really busy week of work and non-car things, so my dad was kind enough to take on the transmission removal and at least get the exhaust off and other non-essential items out of the way before the week was out.
Week 10 started off with the first major snowstorm of the season. Just in case you were about to complain about how cold you are – this is my office from 5pm to 1am 5 days a week. I love my job but winters aren’t the easiest. Especially when you have a bunch of Tauruses and RWD 300s that can’t handle being moved around the lot, let alone go out on the roads!
Back to transmission drama. Once the 016 was out, it was apparent the clutch job done ~5K ago was a bit of a rush-job. I would never allow something like this to go back on in this state. I received a new throwout bearing from 034 and a new G4 sensor from eBay, and sent the flywheel to a local machine shop that specializes in this kind of stuff to take care of a new pin. The OEM pin (or dowel) is no longer available. I tried ordering through Jim Ellis and they cancelled it, and I don’t have the time to wait to get one from Audi Tradition. Hopefully by next week Franz will be back up and running!
Week 8: Inopportune Breakdowns
Week 8 started off OK. The set of gray all-weather Lloyd Mats arrived on Tuesday, and I also bought a replacement cargo mat. This is the first time I ordered mats for a manual transmission T44 from Lloyd, and there are some differences between the automatic 5000/100 dimensions to accommodate slightly different floors between the two.
Automatic floor mats fit on manual cars, whether Audi OEM units or Lloyds. The orange mat retaining pins line up the same regardless: the only major issue is that the driver mat fitment is a little tight towards the pedals.
When ordering 200 mats from Lloyd, the differences are immediately apparent. The driver mat is properly cut and the passenger front is *huge,* which looks a little odd but covers the entire space up all the way up to the lower HVAC ducts.
The rears are also properly cut for the T44s. The left accommodates the proper bump-out on the center tunnel unlike the sets for a FWD automatic car.
And this is where they messed up – The cargo mat is fine, but they only cut for one of the latches. So for now, it needs to be tucked into the space between the folding rear seats to clear the right latch. I emailed them but haven’t received a response yet, which happened the last time I had a problem. Hopefully they come up with some answer as to why this was overlooked.
I pulled the wheels the next day to inspect brakes and lines. The wells got a thorough wash and I also did a bit more cleanup of the wheel lips with heavier cut sandpaper.
Again, I could spend more time on these wheels but they’re OK for now. Starting with 50-grit then stepping to 80-120-220-400-600-1000-1200 at least got some more pitting out.
The next day I was headed off (to somewhere I don’t even remember now) when Franz began to cut out on the highway. I kept him floored to the next exit and the second I let my foot off the gas, the engine completely died.
I’m not a stranger to getting tows. I just prefer if they happen in less dangerous places: not on the curve of an offramp with heavy truck traffic! I couldn’t help but think I was due for a breakdown. Seems familiar?
That night I was also hit with a couple other need-to-repairs: Erlend (4000) blew a coolant hose, Ottmar (5000) wouldn’t stay idling and has chipping hood paint, and Greis (Grey 100) wouldn’t start at all. Never a dull moment.
Week 7: Avants: Use Them!
This week I traded a some garage time for a few trips. The first being on Monday, when my not-that-old microwave decided to give up the ghost due to a failed control panel. I figured it would be easiest to just get the same model as I know we won’t have any fitment issues with the cabinets – and of course, there’s one left on the entire East Coast up in Auburn, MA. I thought all the Sears were gone, but I guess this one is staying open through the end of the year. So I threw the seats down and hopped on the Mass Pike. Monday was lost to trying to wield a 70-pound microwave install by myself.
Tuesday was bitterly cold. Have I mentioned I work third shift outside? I decided to stay home and do some domestic chores, and also managed to put a coat of synthetic wax on in the garage. My “home” garage has been stripped of all decoration as everything was moved into HQ, but now that Franz lives in one of the bays next to the Tiguan, he deserves a little memorabilia back on the shelves.
I saw a movie on Wednesday and then in the evening a generous Audi enthusiast from the early days of Motorgeek allowed me to stop by and peruse through some old Audi parts that remained long after his cars. I’ll be taking some engines later on, but I came away with two boxes of awesome parts – including a K24, quad headlight buckets, and an extremely nice B3 wooden shift knob which immediately went on Franz.
Somewhere in CT a piece of exhaust decided to break off on my way home. That investigation I left for the next night – as I still had one more trip to do.
Thursday I met up with my good friend and fellow 20v Avant owner. We’ve exchanged quite a few items over the years, and this time I swapped some lights for a nice rear wiper assembly and a 3B airbox cover. The bane of the engine bay is this broken piece which was glued on with Q-Bond and held with prayers, but now it’s officially time to say goodbye.
Onto the exhaust, which was the only real work that happened this week. I suspected some area of the system would present problems after we put Franz back into daily use. This was a heavy-mileage week, so after 600 miles if the exhaust is the only issue I’m happy!
The exhaust is okay for a car that was in salt and sat for too long. The center resonator was deleted at some point, so Franz produces a nice grumble at idle anyways. But now we’d be waking up the whole neighborhood when I roll down the street after my shift.
There are two areas of concern. First, there is an apparent hole in one of the pipes before the fuel tank. The second is more concerning as it is a weld near the center. If this breaks through while driving I’m dragging it home…
Stop being lazy and remember to use jack stands whenever you’re under a vehicle. I’m not trying to “Mom” you but I’d prefer that my readers not risk getting seriously hurt.
Nothing like using parts that you already paid for and are just sitting around. This center clamp made for FWD 100/200/5000 exhausts fits right around the breakage. With assistance from my dad, we measured the clamp and placed the center on the weakened weld.
Once in place, the bolts were tightened and we’re all set. The next one is the same procedure: Measure, Install, Clamp!
And we’re quiet. I partook in a little more cleanup of the engine bay and just generally tidied things up to start another week off on the right foot (wheel?).
Next week might be a bit light on content, too. That’s not necessarily bad – Franz was supposed to be ready to go anywhere before we went into a deep freeze or got a ton of snow. Maybe Week 8 I’ll finally dive into the UrQ!
Week 6: Chips, Cracks, and Floor Mats
Franz attended the last show of the year at FCPEuro looking… alright. I always say life never gets less busy, and sometimes that means show preparation takes a bit of a backseat. Who even knows what events I’ll attend for 2020. I’d like to camp at least once now that we have an Avant back, Wolfsgart in August or the ever-dying Carlisle IPN in May would be options.
What I mean to say is that – I’m not happy with “alright.” So this week is all about fixing little things that bother me more than the average person.
Let’s start with floor mats. I really prefer to have color-matched units on the floors, even if most people nowadays opt for stain-hiding black. I’ve been lucky with finding OEM units over the years – I have brand new sets that only come out for shows and I’ve restored low-mileage mats to look like new. I even once found a set of new quattro script units which I sold to a friend, unfortunately black and not grey for our purposes. I only have one “nice” set of platinum mats, which came from a 100E sedan. Even these guys are a discolored and tired looking. Nothing a can of SEM Color Coat won’t fix.
15763 Storm Gray is a close enough match to the Platinum carpeting in these cars. You’ll want to start off with thoroughly cleaning and rinsing the mats, and then I also make sure to restore any areas the nap has been matted or worn with a nap restoring tool, similar to a fine-toothed comb.
I tested the SEM color on one of the rear mats, and you can see the color difference below. In person, the mats have turned a greenish-gray: most of the gray mats do due to the materials and dyes used.
After a couple coats we literally have brand new mats! I sprayed over the black rings, but you can tape them off which would be a real pain. You can either dab a cotton swab in alcohol to remove the overspray from the inlay or use black fabric dye and essentially dye the rings back to pure black again. I chose the latter since I always have dyes on hand and it came out perfectly.
Pair freshly refurbished mats with freshly repainted orange retaining pins for that really “I’m OCD” look.
Hmm. The power steering pump is noisier that I’d like. You can get dealer or generic fluids but I always stick with Pentosin. This mineral oil hydraulic fluid CHF, whether version 7.1, 11S, or 202, gets flushed here every 30,000 miles or 2-3 years. All 5000 cars received 7.1, everything after 1989 got factory-filled with 11S. My 5000 was still on the original 7.1 when I bought it, and if you run into that, just flush the system and put 11S in. I don’t use 202 at all. B2 owners – don’t try to be fancy – these cars use ATF as power steering fluid.
This hasn’t been flushed in a *long* time. Ensure you’re cleaning the filter insert that can be pulled up straight from the reservoir. There is a 100% proper way (which I can cover at some other time) to drain all of the fluid out of the reservoir, pump, and rack. But today I’m not feeling like getting under the car, undoing lines, and then cleaning up the huge mess it makes. You can siphon the majority of the fluid out by removing the filter insert and then using a suction pump.
With a new can of Pentosin in the pump is immediately silenced. Moving on to more fun items!
I had to condense the museum area this week so that the Core-4 can fit along the rear of the garage. The lounge moved over a foot an then theres enough clearance to squeeze three C3s and a B2 with a bit of walking space. The reason for this reconfiguration?
WHAT IS THAT. No, I didn’t write a check and buy an UrQ. I am storing it for a friend over the winter. But that also means that I’m going to freshen it up a bit when I have some free time.
It is chips and cracks week – so where are they? The first stop is the windshield. Franz doesn’t have his original glass anymore, but the OE replacement is fully pitted and has three chips that are ready to spread.
My local Safelite is awesome. YMMV, but these guys have done probably 10 windshields for me and I haven’t had an issue. Safelite can still get 89-91 C3/ 90-94 V8q, and 88-92 B3 windshields, though they are generic LCF/HY brand which I don’t really have an issue with. The 5000 windshields which differ only in VIN location should also be available to order. All B2 glass and Coupe Quattro are unavailable, unless you’re gonna bulk order OEM units with a drop shipper ready from Audi Tradition. Didn’t think so.
I was a bit concerned about rust issues as Franz is, well… rusty. But there was only one spot and my technician was kind enough to bring down to bare metal and seal it so it shouldn’t be an issue for some time. I would recommend removing the interior pillar trims, the wiper arms, and the rain tray before bringing your car in. It saves them time and headache and it gives peace of mind that they’re not removing the parts incorrectly.
The other thing you’ll have to live with is that the chrome trim isn’t available anymore. Instead, it’s just black rubber which, again, I could care less about. Pick your battles! 1991 100 Sedan Greis has this black rubber weatherstripping when he got a new windshield several years ago and it still looks good and blends with his darker paint color. On Avants, it somewhat matches the fact that the deck glass is surrounded by matte black trim strips.
I had a window switch stop working due to corrosion, so I pulled the driver door card and also replaced the cracked wood trim (shown below) with a crack-free piece as well. My phone just died around this time so I don’t have an after picture for you. The last cracked trim is the big guy – the center inlay that runs from the right of the steering column to the passenger door. Ready to make things complicated?
The next day I took a step back and did a little bit of relaxing. I parked Franz in the forest and did a little photoshoot and sightseeing as I usually do this time of year. Two years ago I brought my last Lago wagon up here for some pictures, too. How things change…
We’re also staring to rack up some miles on this car!
When I got home new fender lenses arrived. These are readily available and shared with several VW and Porsches of the same vintage.
I broke one of the tabs while replacing a bulb and the other side was already pre-broken.
The new markers include new sockets which is great: obviously the originals are corroded.
Now for the complication: later in the day I made the determination that I will replace this cracked center wood even if it means some frustration along the way.
Have I pointed this out yet? Whatever – I’m gonna point it out again. 1989 cars that do not have a driver side airbag have a different dashboard than the 1990 and 1991 cars. There are three quick identifiers if you don’t know if the car is an ’89 or not (swapped parts nonwithstanding). The first is obvious – the steering wheel. The second is the dashboard – ’89 cars have two caps on each side that cover mounting screws. The side pieces will also be integrated into the top dash, and the driver kick panel has a storage shelf. The third is the center wood trim will have a black square around the ignition switch, later changed to a round cutout without black plastic on the later cars.
If you have spent some time with both 1989 and later 1990-91 cars, you know that a lot of interior parts are slightly different and NOT interchangeable between the cars. The reason behind these modifications was to meet US safety requirements – the storage shelf in the kick panel was replaced with a padded knee bar. The dashboard wood trim became particle board-backed instead of metal. The dashboard became multiple pieces to allow it to be injected with softer foam and the metal structure it attaches to to collapse differently in the event of a serious accident. That’s all well and good, but it’s a major thorn in my side when I have nice ’89 pieces I have to modify to make work with the later cars. Rant over.
I also feel that it is important to point out how hard it is to find nice Zebrano (or Burl if we’re talking V8q) for these cars now. Like many other German counterparts that used wood trim during this era, the clear coat is fragile and original pieces that are in perfect shape generally don’t exist anymore. After replacing the door and dashboard pieces on Franz I’ll be down to a single right-front door piece for spares. At one point I had 4-5 sets but as pieces failed on cars they’d get replaced.
The center piece I’m using comes off of a pull-n-pay junkyard car I went all the way down to Pittsburgh, PA for. I originally wasn’t planning on pulling any wood trim as I assumed it was all in poor shape, and it was, except this piece. The car had 169K and was an early ’89 100, but the center piece was stamped with a 1997 inventory date on the back. So at some point an owner of this vehicle located a new piece from, I’m assuming, either the dealer or a warehouse – which is why it’s in such good shape!
First let’s at least get the cracked trim off. Depending on what was in the parts bin on a certain day, you could have the early or late style glovebox, but both attach with a couple bolts. The “late” glovebox screws are harder to access, but you don’t need to remove them fully. Remove the side panels of the dashboard. Then, Just loosen the glovebox Allen bolts which face upwards and then slide the door and metal frame out together as one piece. There is also one bolt that attaches to ductwork in the footwell. This will reveal brackets that help attach the center wood trim, also held on by 4mm Allen bolts. Then, undo the driver knee bar, the instrument cluster trim strip, and top steering column cover to access two more 4mm bolts. Then gently work the trim out.
Another conundrum – the wood is generally darker on earlier cars as previously discussed. I found a slightly darker left dashboard piece from February 1990 that will blend better with the darker replacement piece. This is a picture with the ’89 center installed, see the difference in color?
Let me backup a bit. So the differences between the early and late wood pieces really come down to how the vents are integrated. The 1989 piece (top) is metal with a wood veneer applied over the frame. There are metal tabs around the vents where clips are installed and retain the entire vent assembly (including the blending doors) to the trim. The late trim (bottom) only has vents – the blend doors stay in the dashboard frame. This new vent piece is glued onto the wood trim, which is also no longer metal – it’s particle board.
The good news is that you can leave the ’89 vent assemblies alone. You just have to remove the blend doors in the dashboard frame – four 4mm Allens again. The assembly will then slide out. The newer assemblies have rounded cutouts but instead of the early squared versions, but you’ll still be able to turn the air off at the vents with the rotary knob without issue.
Also to note, the ’89 trim has these integrated metal pins (look closely at the previous picture) which would sit in the one-piece dash and be retained from the back by the circular clips that are also used on the doors. You have to cut off the two pins closest to the ignition switch between that and the center vents. The other six can be left alone as the dashboard frame is hollowed out where they would sit. Confused yet?
Basically, you’ll never run into this unless you’re me. This is the final look with the swapped out darker left piece. Now that all of the wood trim is free of any major cracking, it looks so much better in here!
That’s obviously enough work for now. Next week may be lighter on Franz content as I do a couple things with the UrQ. Things may look as though they’re coming to a close on here but I have plenty of things to dream up still. Regardless, look for the UrQ’s own mini-project page next week!
Week 5: Lights and Sound
As much as I try to follow the “while you’re in there” method to replacing parts, it always seems certain items are always coming off to get access to something else. Case in point – I received a set of very nice headlight assemblies, and of course that means to swap out the front has to basically come off again. Not to worry, it’s a quick job. Let’s get to work!
The headlight assemblies are currently serviceable, but the left one is a little rough. The amber side lens is chipped, and the internals have warped on the headlight which gives the illusion of either being cracked or full of water. Both sides, like much of the front, are sandblasted with all of the dirt road and highway driving this car has seen.
The replacement assemblies were pulled from a fellow enthusiast’s 5000CSTQ sedan that is being parted out. I was looking at ones on eBay which were all used… and quite pricey. I feel like these were a steal and came along at the perfect time!
Here we go again with removing the grille assembly. After doing this so many times it’s a 30 second job!
Start with the 8mm bolts on top, two on each assembly. Then move down to the two Phillips on each side that hide behind the center bumper chrome. Don’t forget to undo the three bulbs, too. That’s all that holds these in place.
When you do get down to the final two screws, push the black retainer towards the center and out so the headlights cleanly pull out. That way, you don’t have to mess with the side bumper chrome trim.
Grouping together repairs: it’s a good time to inspect the washer reservoir for problems. The only thing that needs to be done today are the washer fluid lines, which have already snapped and been fixed prior.
I order generic clear hose from FCPEuro which is easy to work with and very flexible. I’m almost certain all the cars I have now feature it. Compared to the harder plastic lines originally installed, these should last the remainder of this car’s life.
Replacing the lines is a bit easier on later 100/200 vehicles. There aren’t any T connectors and only one check valve.. The line is broken into two parts: One long piece that runs from the reservoir to the first check valve at the right hood nozzle, and one piece that connects the right to the left nozzle.
Due to the new line’s flexibility, a lot of slack isn’t needed. It is a bit thicker so the only modification needed here is a new zip tie which holds the line to wiring that runs under the rain tray. Just ensure that when closing the hood the line isn’t being pinched. It should just “collapse” into the space between the hood hinge and the rain tray. Then guide the line through the provided opening in the firewall tray, through another retainer near the airbox, and down to the reservoir.
Removing the headlight is more essential for reservoir pump access on the NF-engined 100 cars which use a different reservoir. To access the pump on the 3Bs, drop the right air duct and pull the pump out. It sits on the rear side of the reservoir between itself and the airbox. Drop it down and replace the line. If there’s too much hose, cut from the top at the nozzles and pull through so you don’t have to keep pulling out the reservoir pump.
With both headlights on and another round of buffing completed, Franz looks a lot better. We have a show this Sunday (yes, it’s a late one), and he looks 100% better than when he did at Radwood.
After a few weeks of living with the initial detail I did, the hood was still the worst panel. The paint on this car is a bit hard to correct, so in an effort to improve clarity and some of the scratching further, I moved up to the more aggressive Meguiar’s 105. Again, this car maybe got one paint correction in it’s lifetime, so going through the clear wasn’t a concern. It took a lot of passes but we’re good now.
After: Hard to capture but it looks much better in person.
In Week 1 I immediately removed the aftermarket stereo system – a late 90s Alpine head unit with a cassette and 6-disc changer located in the cargo area. I didn’t have too hard of a time re-wiring the original Delta back in as the harnesses and connectors were kept mostly intact. It’s the rear speakers, however, that would give us our next challenge.
Just a little “who cares but me” information: The “Delta” radio in normal or Bose form is the correct unit for all 1989-1991 100/200 vehicles. Extremely-late 1991 production cars had the “Gamma” unit that was standard issue on the upcoming C4s. Franz is an October 1990 production car and still featured the Delta. Regardless, a lot of these failed and dealers replaced with whatever remanufactured units were on hand, noted by a green sticker on the top of the head unit. Edelweiss is the only car in the family to feature his original, non-reman radio. Franz came with his non-reman original, but it needs some TLC before it can go back in. Therefore, I put one of my known-good units in for the time being.
This is how the OG Gamma looks in the center console of these cars just in case you’re wondering. There are two styles of Gamma – the “orange” display is correct for 1991-1994 and “red” display is for cars after 1995. Aftermarket units never blend in well on these interiors and always look so… trashy? I use a cassette adapter to hook up my phone for calls/music and it works fine.
If you’re looking to put an OEM radio back in your car, it comes down your preference of appearance and sound. The Delta has more adjustments and produces brighter sound. The Gamma is a little more muted but produces better bass.
Anyways, back to the rear speakers: Avants have a slightly different configuration than sedans. On 100 and 200 sedans, the two rear speakers feature their own built-in amplifiers which kind of makes aftermarket replacement difficult. Avants have standard speakers in the rear and have an amplifier unit under the rear seat. This amplifier is also used in 5000CS cars with 10 speaker systems. The shelf speakers are setup with their own amps and the external amplifier drives the door speakers.
No wonder these aren’t producing sound- all of the rear wiring is cut. The “twisted” wiring goes to the rear speakers. The lower wires go directly to the head unit to power the amplifier.
Of course I forgot to pull the amp from my previous Lago Avant, so I found a unit on eBay from a sedan. The mounting bracket is slightly different between the body styles but it will just tuck under the seat without the correct bracket for now.
The Bentley manual is great for certain things – wiring it is not, as it completely glosses over the differences in radio and speaker wiring over the Avant and sedan. Is this a really great looking wiring job? No – but it all works. The wires are twisted for a reason – they pair up with each of the rear speakers and the two tweeters. Match up the colors and figure out which pin is correct – simple enough?
Again, while the door cards are off, I should replace the wood trim that is cracked. I will go through how to remove panels at another time – The clock was ticking on this project and I didn’t have a chance to snap photos along the way as much as I would’ve liked.
Earlier vehicles have nylon nuts that retain the trim to the door cars. Later ones have these irritating rings. There is a correct tool for them, but needle nose pliers will allow you to pull them off. Note that there’s usually 2-3 that have a felt insert for… vibration dampening? Whatever – just remember where they went and put them back on.
I saved what I could for non-cracked pieces from previous cars – not easy to find a perfect piece anymore. Thankfully the sets I saved match the other Zebrano pieces well. Left and right sides are slightly different FYI.
The left rear door card is a bit of a mess internally – the plastic is cracked all around the rear speaker. These old Rockford-Fosgate units are completely disintegrated.
Here’s an important note if you’re buying speakers for an 89-91 100/200. The 4″ dashboard speakers are a very tight fit. Pioneer’s TS-G400 has a simplistic frame that fits like the originals did so you won’t have issues. The Kicker units I once purchased simply wouldn’t sit correctly. Just be careful when buying those!
Since the Pioneers are up front, I went with Pioneers in the back. Don’t make the mistake of buying 6.5″, they’re 5.25.”
The right door card thankfully is intact. If your rear speaker covers won’t hold or are cracked, you can wedge foam between the door card plastic and the speaker frame to hold things in place.
Before I wrap this up, you can also polish your tarnished door car chrome while they’re off. They’re not plastic like the early 5000s, so a little metal polish will take this yellowed film right off.
Week 4: Quick Fixes That Make a Dramatic Difference
With the majority of mechanical work completed at the moment, this week focuses on what I’m known for best: the details. But no week starts off without some drama – our trip to FCP was to emergency-pick-up a new drain plug after finding the old one wouldn’t budge. Seems likely that it was over-torqued or put back on with an air gun. If your MO is “as tight as it gets,” I suggest you reconsider. After a wrench, breaker bar, and impact gun failed to get the plug out, we unfortunately resorted to the air chisel. That worked, and then then 10 minutes later fresh oil was in.
Moving on from that, I had a couple items that are bringing the overall look of the car down. Starting on the outside, that cracked center on one of the wheel caps was still bothering me. I looked through my pick and hook tool set to see if there was something thin enough to get between the cap and the center insert without gouging the plastic. Thankfully, my test on a junk cap worked and I was able to get the insert out without damage.
With the current cracks on cap we’re trying to preserve, I opted to pry out from the center as to again not risk damaging the plastic lip. Working the pick into the center allowed me to break the cap into three pieces that could be then lifted out. The foam-painted rings that are molded into the piece laughably held on for dear life, but then the area was scraped clean of any old adhesive and the replacement center was placed.
Aside from wear concerns, cars with nice interiors are getting harder to find. If there’s one area I like to try and get as perfect as possible, it’s in here. With that being said – I began with the most annoying issue: an A pillar cover that won’t stay put.
While the trim can just be pulled out by hand, it’s nearly impossible without breaking at least one of the fragile plastic tabs. As long as a few remain it will go back on and stay put. But when this car had a windshield replacement years ago, they were removed and they clearly broke all of them on the driver side. Now that Franz was being driven again, all the bumps and temperature changes in the interior caused the butyl tape adhesive to come loose. I keep the black plastic “cores” of these pillars around just in case my vehicles need windshield work done. The vinyl is easy to peel off and reshape onto the replacement core. Today’s donor was originally covered in graphite.
For a lot of interior work I do, I have to step outside of the auto parts store and either look for supplies online or at local craft store chains. I’ve been telling people now for years who ask for help with headliners to stop buying the common headliner and trim spray adhesives like Permatex because it’s messy and doesn’t last. If you have a JoAnn Fabric around, pick up a can of their headliner adhesive for these types of projects.
Once the vinyl is carefully peeled off, you can spray a light coating of adhesive on the core, allow to get tacky for a minute, and then drape the material over the core – work quickly to reshape, though.
That won’t hit me in the head for now.
The next fix has been highly requested over the years and recently – but now you don’t have to DM me to get the details! And this is so easy that anyone can do it. so I’ll go through this in a bit more depth. Have sagging seatback nets? Most of the cars do whether they were used or not. Only two of the T44s I’ve ever bought had perfectly tight nets (Ottmar and Greis) but all of the other cars have had this treatment. Once it’s all done you’ll realize how much of a difference it makes for the overall appearance of the interior.
Exhibit A: A sagging net. When I first attempted to remedy this years ago on one of the cars, I did this on a junk panel as a test. You really need to be careful with this process and realize everything is fragile. Especially the magazine net assembly. One wrong move and it will crack – so don’t over-stress the plastic!
This process applies to all C3 cars 84-91. Each version of seat, based on year, manual or power adjustment, if the seat included lumbar adjustments, and cloth or leather will sometimes vary the process. 1990 and 1991 vehicles with power seats like Franz have an adjustment knob for lumbar support. Pry the center cap if your car features it, and also remove the lower screw cap and remove the screw. On manual adjust cars, the screw is already exposed through the turn-style lumbar adjustment.
Regardless of vehicle, if you have a knob, it has a small Phillips screw with Loctite in the center. Spin the knob clockwise as far as the adjustment goes and then I highly recommend using a socket wrench for leverage to break this screw free. Sometimes it breaks easily, sometimes it doesn’t. The last thing you want to do is strip the head. because then you’re stuck at this point until you drill it out or break the knob around it to get it loose. BTDT – be careful.
The knob will pull out towards you. Note that there is a separate filler trim that is notched and is specific to left or right. Remove the lower screw completely, too.
The center console hinders access to the inboard-side of the seatback. No need to loosen or remove the console: Adjust the seat so that you can gain access at the top to pry the inboard screw cap and remove the screw. Again, a small ratcheting or stubby screwdriver will help you here.
Now is also a good time to take out the center armrest. On all cars and styles, it’s a 6mm allen bolt. On this later style cell phone armrest, the bolt is accessed by lifting up the top panel. The basic armrest has a small slit in the material facing the passenger side which you can put the tool through.
That’s it! Now you have to remove the seatback. Sit in the rear seat with the front in an upright position. Place your hands where the two lower screws were on each side and pull each side out and towards you. The back will now pivot from the top. Then, gently pull it down to release the two large tabs which hold the top in.
Once removed, flip the back over.
See those two screws? Remove them. There is no need to remove the net assembly from the seatback. You will break it trying to push the tabs down and out. Instead, flip the cover over again.
It doesn’t matter which side of the assembly you do this from, but you only need to do it to one side. At the top of the net’s U-shaped plastic, you’ll notice a square cutout. With extreme caution, lift the plastic enough that you can release the metal tab which retains the top of the netting. You may need to somewhat push the net in and twist out to remove it.
Take this top netting and then pull it until the net lays flat against the back. Leave a little slack. Generally, the extra netting you pulled will be this long.
Before continuing, pickup the back and put it upright to see if it’s sitting nicely. Again, you need to leave a bit of slack so that you can still use the net, but also so it looks factory.
I decided to do the passenger seat as well before tightening up the net. Without an armrest and better access on the inboard side, this takes half the time to remove.
Also to be pointed out: make sure these black screw stantions are still attached to the backs. Remember I had you pull the lower portion out and towards you? That way you don’t knock these off and then have to sit them back in place.
The passenger seat required about the same amount of netting to be pulled through.
This is where its critical to be cautious and extremely gentle. You need to pull the metal tabbed- end through the screw hole. Lift the U-shaped netting again and find a way to get this done: sometimes you’ll get lucky and it will be able to push through easily. Other times some help with a small flat blade screwdriver helps push it through. Either way, don’t lift the plastic too much. Once pulled through, take the top netting and place it back into the square cutout so it looks correct and is retained properly.
You’ll need some leverage for this next step – get the small ratcheting screwdriver out, and with the extra netting moved to one side, start the screw threads while pushing down with a little bit of pressure. Once the threads catch, tighten as usual.
Time to put the passenger side back on and see how it looks – You really shouldn’t go any tighter than that.
Note that the armrest only goes in one way, so if you’re having trouble just make sure the curved side is matching up properly.
A 100% improvement!
Week 3: 3B Timing Belt Week
Timing belts have always been one of my areas of fear. I usually don’t enjoy taking risks, so I don’t prefer to allow belts to be in service past their service interval. I believe this will now be the 10th belt job I’ve done in a little under five years. Unfortunately I drag my Dad into these jobs every time, and thankfully he’s always willing to help me with the cars. As a 45-year master mechanic who started off with diesel engine rebuilding and then moved into heavy equipment, I trust his advice and always allow him to check my work and show me where I need to do something differently. But also, it allows us to spend a day together, which is always nice.
A reminder that most engines we received in North America during this time are interference engines. If you have a non-interference, I still recommend you don’t wait until the belt breaks. Do you really want to risk being stranded somewhere and put in a potentially dangerous situation?
KX, KZ, and JT are non-interference. WE and WU are also regarded as such.
NF, NG, MC1 and MC2, 3B, 7A, AAN, ABY, and the V8 quattro PT and ABH engines are all interference motors.
The widely accepted interval is still 60,000 miles or five years. Too many times people ignore the time aspect of maintenance. My pet peeve is always “belt done XX,XXX miles ago.” OK, but when was this done? If they can’t remember or lack paperwork to prove it’s been done recently, I immediately assume it’s required again. All of the older belts with low mileage I’ve encountered (i.e. the 4,000 mile belt that was 15 years old on my 5000CST and the 23 year old belt with 20K on the 4000S) are dry-rotted and ready to snap.
I don’t crack open the Bentley manuals for these jobs anymore. I’d advise you to consult it if this is your first time, but I usually just put Scott Mockry’s SJM site up on my laptop and reference his writeup for instructions and torque specs. Because this writeup is not exhaustive or precise out of a combination of laziness and current exhaustion, I highly recommend
My timing belt jobs have become more all-encompassing over the years, too. Now instead of just doing the standard belt, water pump, cam/crank seals, and thermostat, I use this as an opportunity to service the cooling system if necessary while everything is drained and disassembled. Depending on the vehicle, I usually put in a new radiator (with new mounts), coolant tank, heater bypass valve, and any questionable hoses.
Here’s an opinion-clash between enthusiasts: what coolant to use. Some of my cars I converted to G13 (purple) and other remain on the factory G11 (blue). If you order a kit from Blauparts they give you bottles of G12 which I used a couple previous cars without issue. G13 is the current standard and what’s available at the dealer, but G11 a lot of times is on deep discount at auto part stores and suppliers as Pentofrost NF. If you’re vehicle currently has an incorrect or who-knows-what mix of coolants and you’re not going to do a complete flush of the system, I’d recommend G13 as it can mix with prior G11 and G12/G12+/G12++ standards. G11 is not compatible with the newer coolants and unless the car has been on G11 it’s entire life or has been drained and flushed completely (like, OCD standards), it’s not worth the risk to do it.
This week I gathered my remaining parts and planned for a two-day job on my off days, and while basically the same, I’m not familiar with the 3B quite yet. I’ve learned the hard way it’s best to not rush into things. However once the covers were off I immediate felt relieved and right at home! Let’s get into this.
Now, this is not exhaustive and may lack a couple items. I’ll try and hit the big points and warn you about what I feel is important.
First, this is how the engine bay was pre-surgery. I had two cups of coffee and the HQ fridge had emergency-crisis beer. The engine coolant was already drained and the system fully flushed.
Start by removing the grille. I mentioned earlier that the grille, center bumper chrome, and stainless trim strips can come off as one assembly. Undo the one Phillips screw at the top center of the grille. Pry the left and right plastic retaining clips upward to release the grille from the support. Then, if your vehicle has the original rubber trim strip covering the lower bumper screws, gently pry the two side tabs from the center bumper chrome and find a thin Phillips to unto the screw on each side near the corner lamp. The three screws that hold the grille to the center trim are unexposed and untouched. This way, you’re not having to remove the whole strip that could potentially break. undo the stainless top and bottom clips from where it connects to the corner lights and now you can pull up and out.
Undo the obvious nut that retains the intercooler, a 6mm Allen.
Take an NSAID and get ready for knee and back pain. Head underneath the front bumper to remove the two Phillips that retain the air ducts to the bumper. They can be left to hang freely. Now is also a good time to undo the 8mm Allen bolts which retain the front bumper. Twist the bumper turn signal indicator sockets out of the housings and the bumper can be slid out of the brackets attached to the fenders.
This is where things got a little new for me, but it’s all straightforward as long as you’ve had time with a 10v turbo car previously. There are rubber mounts, bolts, and screws to undo that allow removal of the intercooler, auxiliary radiator, and center bumper support. Cut the cable ties that hold the wiring that runs along the front of these items and then somehow manage to get these pieces out. If that wasn’t a good enough explanation for you, just email me to complain and I’ll help you out.
With those friends out of the way, you now have direct access to the nitty gritty. While I was still upright, I decided to undo the power steering bolts as I could see the access to the thermostat is more difficult. Stupid me also ordered the wrong radiator for a 20v car, so I left our circa Y2K unit in that looks OK for now.
Remove the timing cover nuts, two 6mm Allens, and their retainers. Without the power steering belt off you can’t remove this guy yet, but you can take a peek at the belt. While this doesn’t look as bad as some that I’ve changed in recent memory, it’s old and has at least 50K of runtime.
Now you’ll undo power steering, AC, and alternator belts. There is a V-shaped bracket/guide as well that needs to be removed.
With the belts and bracket off, the timing belt is exposed. Now you can see just how rusty and ugly things get when you don’t maintain vehicles properly.
This round of work took maybe an hour and a half. Someone who needs to get things done with a bit more speed could probably get to this state in 45 minutes.
Before going any further (aka, loosening cam and crank bolts), you need to set the car at TDC for the #1 cylinder. Be careful as you can easily be 180-out. It’s imperative to have the cam, distributor, and flywheel, and crank marks perfect before continuing. Viewing the window on the flywheel is a pain on the 3B, but with all C3s, you’re looking for the “0” mark to meet the edge of the flywheel housing. Once this is done, you can remove water pump bolts, loosen the crank bolt, and then the cam gear bolt.
I’m skipping over a thorough explanation of these bolt removals because they are heavily covered elsewhere on other sites. I also don’t appreciate when people insist on using the VW/Audi lock tool because there’s other ways around this. So think of this as more of an entertainment piece and seek serious knowledge elsewhere. But anyways, remove the bolts, the crank pulley, the cam gear, and the two covers. The covers are shot, and I’m not looking for perfection. I quickly got the majority of rust off the surface and applied enamel-style engine paint.
While that dries and before moving onto a couple of other items, I installed the new coolant expansion tank. I always install new tanks for both cleanliness and cosmetic reasons Three screws, a sensor plug, and two hoses later and we’re done.
I always add a bit of anaerobic sealant to all hoses I touch.
While I did these little jobs, my dad worked on the crank cog replacement. I was told by multiple people to swap it out, so I had ordered a high quality replacement from EFI Express. A painful $180, but I’d prefer no fracturing issues of the gear or the keyway down the road.
We’ve mastered the cam and crank seal R&R. Again, I don’t use the specialized VW/Audi tools for this, and opt for pulling out with a tapped-in screw and then placing the new seals evenly by using a large socket.
One of the parts I always change out when doing the T-Belt and other cooling system items is the heater bypass valve. There are two versions, a non-sensor (most 5000s early 100/200 and all 100E) and sensor style (usually 1990+ cars). Regardless of which version, they’re located towards the back of the block and are exposed to constant heat. They become brittle with age, and if it explodes while driving, you’ll lose all of your coolant in seconds. For $25-30 do this and don’t cook your block. Access is easier on all 10V cars, but with thin fingers and determination you’ll be able to undo the two hose clamps on each side and replace easily.
OEM bypass valves with the sensor are no longer available. The lack of this sensor will do nothing to the car’s heating and cooling abilities, so tuck the connector away and be done with it. The photo below is how it is correctly positioned in all of the C3 cars – if you put it in backwards you’ll immediately realize your error.
Looks ready to go back on.
In this time I also changed out the plugs which were due. Bosch F5DP0R is the OEM plug. Yes, $100 for five plugs is painful, but they’re done and will last some time. I also changed the cap: the rotor looked fine and I don’t have the specific 3B one on hand at the moment.
I wasn’t being very linear in my processes, so my dad took the reins and started reassembling.
How tight the new timing belt should be is always a fun moment for my Dad and I. We always laugh because the first time we did this we probably did this twist-test 100 times. If the belt is easily twisted with your index finger and thumb 90 degrees on the slack side, it’s done. Tighten up the water pump bolts and don’t overthink it. If you over-tighten the belt it will whine and cause all of your beautiful new parts to prematurely burn up.
Put the covers back on, belts, brackets, etc. Don’t tell me you have bolts leftover becuase I’ll tell you to retrace your steps and figure it out! I suggest at least turning the engine over by hand a few times before going too crazy on reassembly and, of course, turning the key. Since I really flushed out the system, I decided to put G11 back in over the current G13.
Dirty again. A lot of rust cleanup and blowing out of other things led to a nice coating of dirt again everywhere.
While I didn’t change the radiator out, I did do one of the mounts that had split.
It’s a car again! After checking over everything I turned the key and Franz started right up. I know the job looks daunting, but it’s not all that bad.
Maiden voyage? I ordered a few more items from FCP and used this as our test drive. Now that our long-trip confidence is back, who knows where we’ll go next?
Week 2: The Fixes Continue
Most of you know I’m a blue interior guy. Sometimes I just can’t have it my way. My dream 20v Avant would either be Glacier Blue or Pearl with blue sport seats that have the chenille velour inserts. That’s a tall order though, so we’ll live with another grey interior car. Problem is that every time I get rid of a grey interior car, I end up getting another one and I didn’t pull or save most of the parts that I now need for the next car. I suppose part of the thrill of doing these restores is trying to find parts (again), and I usually luck out. Force 5 was parting a grey-interior 100 quattro sedan, and I asked if they could pull an armrest, pillar trim, and carpet section just to take care of the big detractors at the moment.
Previously attached to the lower driver pillar trim was a radar detector. And I didn’t save the very nice gray pillar trims from the past three vehicles I scrapped. Sigh.
A little bit of vinyl cleaner and it takes less than five minutes to swap out this piece. It had some useless-style clips near the bottom but truly it’s held in place by the two door seals.
Because of the speaker configuration with Avants, they share the small rear door armrests with the 100 series vehicles. The 200 sedan and V8 quattros got full size armrests in the rear. Most people usually don’t take these off right and end up destroying the inner foam core which holds the bolt retainers in place.
That metal retainer clamps around the door frame tabs that stick out. It’s a 4mm hex and left hand threaded. Remember that and you won’t end up doing this to your armrests.
Franz’s interior came back really well. a couple hours of scrubbing brought the dash and door cards back to their proper color. My secret is the often overlooked Mother’s VLR (Vinyl, Leather, Rubber) cleaner that can be found at any auto parts store for under $7. It cleans these surfaces like nothing else and is pretty gentle, too. I then follow up with a bit of 303 or Vinylex on the door cars and dash, and then some Griot’s leather-product-of-the day on the seats.
The instrument cluster is decent in this car, but I have a bouncy speedometer, some bulbs out, and the trip computer has a cracked display. The clock is also 30 minutes slow.
I usually take the clusters completely apart and dust the inside and polish up the face plastic.
For bulbs, I swap all of them out for 2.0W green-base bulbs. It significantly brightens up the cluster. If you need more info on how to repair clusters, I can always post a tutorial or answer questions privately. the SJM website covers these things pretty thoroughly and I know I’ve sent a lot of you there in the past.
Pretty neat! I used a different board as that’s usually the culprit for a slow clock (not the actual clock board itself), and our only worry is the speedometer still bounces a little. But nothing a small tap doesn’t resolve.
Usually my second week with projects begins to deal with the petty, irritating items that began to show signs of failure in week 1. This isn’t surprising and something I prepare for – when you put a car back in service after years of irregular use, things are going to break!
Ignorant-me was about to order a replacement center cap for one of the BBS wheels, but then I remembered the wider wheels of the 20v and V8q’s require a specific cap where the tabs are longer. 447601165C is for these 15×7.5 versions, 447601165B is for the 15×7 BBS wheel on the 89-91 10v 100/200 quattro vehicles and 1991 200 turbo FWD cars. I have a trash-set of pearl “B” caps with good centers, I may try my luck and prying one of the centers out while I search for a replacement.
Replacing air filters on my NF-engined 100s are relatively painless. Then it got more painful with the JT in the 4000S, and I removed a whole lotta stuff for the MC1 in the 5000CS just to get enough clearance. Not being completely familiar with the 3B, I expected the worst. Nope – disconnect hose, three tabs, and a screw at one corner and replacement is a snap.
On my way to Radwood, I had two things go awry. The first being that the climate control wouldn’t shut down when OFF was selected. Those of us who have had the experience of where the climate control wouldn’t turn on would view this as a non-issue, but this is such an easy fix. The blower motor has a control unit under the rain tray with two connectors. Any time blower motor function is erratic, this is the first place to check. In this case, the unit wasn’t receiving the proper voltage from the climate control unit inside the car, and replacement of the blower motor control unit fixed the issue. I have these lying around in various places as a thing to “remember to pull” when parting out a car, but this is the first time I’ve had one go bad. Usually, it’s been the blower motor itself that fails, and I’d prefer to not do that to Franz anytime soon.
The second item is a bit more serious. I lost function of the radiator cooling fan somewhere between Worcester and Brookline. I started to notice we were running a bit hot, and while sitting in line at Radwood I didn’t hear the fan come on. When the ignition was off, the after run relay was clicking rapidly, so I removed it temporarily at the show. When I got home, I checked the fuse, relay #3 (214) in the cowl fuse box and pulled the kick panel to test the somewhat infamous brown relay (324) which all turned out to be OK. The fan motor was not seized and I jumped a wire across the after run temp sensor – only to get the relay to click.
And then I knew. Stupid fusible link. Combined with mileage, heat, and corrosion, this 80A strip fuse turned to powder when I removed it. Thankfully the bolts were not seized in it’s little box – and a bonus – the cover is still intact! Under the cover is where it hides – its only job is to prevent a complete wiring harness meltdown should the radiator fan seize up and create a massive draw on the system. No 5000 came with this, and early 1989 100/200 cars didn’t either, unless it was retrofitted with the TSB-provided kit at the dealer. All 1990 and 1991 100 and 200s have the fusible link system factory installed. Finding the 80A fuses is not tough, FCP Euro has them under BMW fuses and they’re less than a dollar each. When I bought my other cars I always replaced out the fusible links when doing initial engine maintenance, and they usually snapped the second I touched them. It’s a good idea to put a spare in the glovebox (and an 8mm wrench in the trunk) just in case! If you’re blowing these fuses regularly though, you need to get the electrical checked out.
More little things abound: someone decided to pry off the climate control cover the wrong way and had to glue this nice chunk back in. Uncracked Zebrano pieces are precious here, but unfortunately with time the wood trim is bound to get a few. I rescued some very nice trim pieces from a 1989 car recently in a self-service yard, so I polished up the climate face and put it in.
Right. Notice how the wood color is slightly off? 1989 100/200 cars with wood trim (not you, 100E) are a slightly different Zebrano than the later cars, generally darker with more brown/red tones. In November 1989, they switched to the “new” clear-coat process and Zebrano wood which has a lighter, golden color and more striping. This was done for two reasons – the early wood used a clear coat that clouded quickly (customer complaints) and the trees used on the early cars were endangered – no more chopping! An easy way to identify early wood (or early 1989 cars, for that matter) is that there will be a black plastic surround for the ignition key rather than the circular cutout. On all cars, the wood trim on the doors stayed a veneer over pot-metal. 1989 non-airbag cars used a one-piece dash (notice two caps on each side and a storage shelf kick panel for the driver) and the two strips are this same pot-metal veneer situation. The vent assemblies are separate pieces that are held in by clips. Very late ’89 airbag cars and all 90/91 models use a veneer over particle-board wood that attaches differently to the now multi-piece dashboard with knee pad. A 1990 Audi safety brochure I own states that these changes were made to reduce the risk of the driver coming into contact with harder metal/sharp objects in the event of a crash.
Enough rambling. I go technical on people way too often. But I’ll add that my next goal is to get that very perfect long wood trim strip I pulled from an 89 retrofitted into this car. It will be a bit darker, too, but I can live with it as long as there’s no cracks.
I am so lucky to have this place literally 10 minutes away. BAPS is an automotive paint supplier and they basically carry/can get anything a body shop would ever need. They can mix up all factory paints, including aerosols on the spot. I absolutely love these guys, and every time I buy a new car, I head here first to get touch up paint and other items I need to get the cars taken care of cosmetically. Last week I visited to pickup a spray can of Lago Blue for the big areas, but I came back this week to get a bottle of touch up paint.
The leading edge of the hood is trashed. I quickly sanded down the chips using a pencil with a piece of sandpaper cut-to-size to fit on the top of the eraser. That way, you’re not sanding the good paint areas. I did a 5-minute rush job but I just wanted to get the hood a little more decent if I’m spotted around town.
For smaller chips, I’ve found the best method of applying paint is to dab with very small model brushes. BAPS always throws these in for me as a courtesy, but a craft store like Hobby Lobby sells them in 10 packs in various sizes for a couple bucks. Stop being lame and applying with the provided touch up roller and brush, or worse, a Q-tip. Obviously the paint is shot on the hood but that doesn’t mean your touch ups should make the areas look worse than they already are! These probably need another coat to just level them a bit – but there’s not much more that will help except a respray down the road.
The hatch also has lots of “craters” that I’ll need to spend more time sanding down and blending in. Again, this car isn’t going to receive any major body work/rust repair at the moment, so the goal is to arrest the rust, coat it, and then touch up as needed to keep it from spreading.
This concludes week 2. Week 3 will technically begin mid-week, as I’m using my two off days to do the timing belt with my Dad. I’m thinking about how much coolant and other stuff I’ll be spilling all over the new garage. Oh well, someone’s gotta break it in!
Week 1: Rain, Radwood… Radwagon?
Radwood was next Saturday, and unfortunately the forecast was not good. I was planning on bringing 4000S Erlend up to the event, but I wasn’t into having to get the car super dirty and then spend 72 hours cleaning it back to museum-status. What if we took Franz? Surely he fits the bill. But first, some cleanup is needed. And just like that – my plan to take things slowly with this car turned into a race against the clock to get him presentable. Typical me, right?
After visiting a self-serve car wash to get the majority of the caked-on mud out of the wheel wells and underside, I brought Franz into T44 HQ and began cleaning. First up – the engine bay. With rain expected, the hoods will stay down, so I just did a quick soak and left things as-is.
On hand is Griot’s Engine Bay Cleaner, which I find is great for maintenance cleans either between shows, or for my dailies – between seasons. Even with agitation, it doesn’t have the strength of my favorite engine degreaser made by Sonax, but I’m all out – time to order more!
While that spends some time soaking, I move onto the equally-dirty tires and wheels. Franz needs to be clayed, so I break out the dish soap and the clay bars.
Not too bad for minimal effort. Moving on to claying – which I still find is a misunderstood part of the detailing process for most people. How often do you clay? Only when necessary! If you keep a coating on your car and wash regularly, you may only need to clay every several years. There is absolutely no need to clay every wash or on a regular basis. When you clay, you run the risk of creating RIDS (random, deep, isolated scratches) with the contaminants that you pickup. And since most people don’t fold the clay as often as they should, there’s a lot of potential for creating further damage.
Unfortunately I don’t think Franz has ever been clayed. I don’t even need to do the plastic bag test – my bare hands can feel all the road grime imbedded in the paint. Just one section of the fender, and the clay is loaded.
Clay in a back-and forth motion. Remember those RIDS I talked about? If you create those, at least they’ll be straight and less noticeable should you not decide to polish afterwards (and why wouldn’t you?).
I have no problem using dish soap on cars when starting a huge detail job. The paint (or what’s left of it) needs to be completely clean for the best results. Even if the clay bar isn’t pickup flecks of tar or fallout, you’ll notice the soap suds are a little dirty as you go along. Imagine using a polisher to try and get that out of the paint – yes, it will come up eventually, but you’re destroying the pads, wasting your time, and at that point, over buffing the paint.
After the body and glass are done, which when not distracted, takes about an hour, I move onto the wheels. No curb rash here, but the polished lips are shot and the clearcoat is completely gone. In this instance, I skip the clay bar and head straight for the sandpaper. Maybe by spring we’ll have these lips mirror-like, but for now, it’s just to get rid of the imbedded brake dust and lessen some of the pitting.
There goes my fresh concrete floors. Should I have built a bigger shop? There’s still room for my dad to work on his things… for now.
I’ve ran out of time for today to work on things, but we end this cleanup day with the addition of some stickers. Franz still has his US anti-theft decals in the glovebox, but I tend to not put those on the cars anymore and use my reproductions (left). They transparent but once on the car look exactly the same. I also added the European radio code sticker to the quarter glass next to the alarm sticker, and my ’84 WRC reproduction to the liftgate glass.
Before getting Franz all wet again, there’s a few odds and ends I want to tackle. The front plate frame is basically destroyed, so I remove it and replace with one of my good used ones and add the signature Art of Engineering vanity plate. Technically, this car should wear the Take Control plate but I only have one and it stays safe in the garage!
Of all the things that upset me with these cars, it has to be the lower trim strip for the grille and headlights. No, not the stainless pieces – that stupid rubber thing that’s always missing chunks and broken. Franz is missing it entirely, which exposes the grille screws and lip that the tabs of the strip sit in.
I don’t work linearly. Wasn’t I just taking about the trim strip? Well I realized I hadn’t added front mudflaps yet, so let’s do that while it’s fresh on the brain. This picture shows some of the rust we’re dealing with, but the good news is that nothing on the fenders is rusted through so I can attach these things still.
OK. Back to the trim strip. I used to go to junkyards or take the strips off the parts cars I had, but they’d always break during removal or installation. If your trim is still intact and you need to remove the front grille for some engine work or whatever, you can remove this strip with the chrome bumper trim and grille as one assembly. You just have to gingerly unclip the tabs on both sides near the side indicators and get a thin screwdriver in to undo the two screws that hold the center front bumper trim to the side trims. One screw on the top of the grille, two clips, and a little finesse and it will all come out as one. That’s how we’ve been able to save the strips on the show cars!
For all other cars that are missing the pieces or it’s all broken and you’re sick of looking at it, Autozone sells literally the perfect adhesive-backed weatherstrip that fits between the now-barren slot. At $10 a pack it’s my absolute favorite hack to spruce up the fronts of these cars.
Start at one corner and peel as you go. It does take a little effort to get it to sit smoothly, but if you mess up an area just peel it back and press it back in until you’re happy with it. There will be some excess once you get to the other side, so just cut it with a pair of scissors.
Not sure why I decided to look at how dirty these Platinum carpets were at this moment, but due to the amount of time this takes I’ll leave this on the Radwood prep-list until last.
OK. Time to get rewashed and move onto compound and polish. Everything I’m about to use can be bought at Harbor Freight. Before you sneer at the thought of this, understand that most power tools at Harbor Freight are rebranded and sold at a their cheaper price. My last DA polisher, $60 with a 20% coupon, lasted four years and seven cars. And it was a rebranded Porter Cable model. The three 6″ pads they sell (orange is cutting, blue is polishing, black is waxing) are not great for longevity, but I never re-use pads between cars or jobs. At $6 each they last long enough to do a full vehicle and then you can just toss them. Any of you who have seen my cars know that swirls are not a thing, and I invest my resources in higher quality compounds, polishes, and waxes than in disposable foam pads and equipment. I honestly cannot stand people who buy $600 polishers and think that that’s the ticket to perfect paint. Correct application and methodology go a long way.
Oh boy, don’t you just love clearcoat metallic paint from this era. And you wonder why I prefer buying single-stage cars. Below, you’ll see that the paint is “sheeting” rather than “beading.” Technically, beading is not a totally accurate way of telling if your wax is holding up, because clean, uncoated surfaces will bead water, too. But since we know that the paint was just clayed and decontaminated, sheeting is what I want to see. The paint is still rough, and that’s why it isn’t beading up.
I’ve had three Lago cars and plenty other clearcoat metallic vehicles, too. Much like the other colors, the clear coats are starting to break down which means we’re not going to overdo correction. Some of the older Audis experience crazing/checking in the paint, some just get cloudy, and others the paint peels off completely. The top surfaces, of course, take the beating of UV damage and other contamination. Lago blue gets quite dull and lighter looking when the clear begins to fail. The goal is to try and blend the hood and roof with the side panels so that it doesn’t stick out too much.
Clarity becomes an issue for these older clearcoats as well. This is a photo that was taken after the first pass on the left side of the hood. While the paint has become smoother and reflects light better, the fluorescent ceiling light still looks fuzzy on that side.
To get the top-level paint to blend with the fenders and pillars better, I needed four passes each of compound and polish. I wouldn’t go any further than that on this original paint. We didn’t pull up any of the base coat color on the pads so I’m happy.
Some clear coats are harder to correct that others. Even with the four passes each, the paint still looks hazy under harsh light. While the paint isn’t “dead,” it’s not taking to correction methods any further, and now I’d just be wasting time.
I could probably write and entire novel on my methods of paint correction. However, in the interest of holding your attention, I’ll mostly stop here and you can pick my brain another time if you want to.
Here’s before and after side shots. Scratches appear white, even if they’re not deep, because that’s how light reflects off of them. I was able to get the majority of deeper scratches out without too much trouble.
Also during this time I went back and made a quick pass over the lips of the wheels with a buffer attachment for the drill. I didn’t have the energy to keep sanding with finer grits, so this eliminated some of the marks and also shined up the lips well enough to be presentable for Radwood. Again, this was $3 at Harbor Freight and lasted long enough to get the four wheels done.
Oh look, more sidetracking. There are several parts that I wanted to put on the next Avant as an homage to our beloved 5000 that was totaled. When I was rear-ended, I worried that the “big” spoiler featured only on the 1984 and 1985 Avants was destroyed. Miraculously, the offending SUV’s front hit low enough to not touch the spoiler, and when the rear glass exploded, it still stayed attached to the wiper motor assembly (which also survived). I call this “The Shelf” because when working on Zyg I would always put my tools, polishes, cans of beer, etc. on it. Literally, one of my favorite aspects of the car (yes I’m weird).
Beginning in 1986, all Avants received the smaller spoiler with a revised wiper arm that allowed the blade to sit lower on the glass. If you’re lucky enough to ever find a big spoiler, you need the early wiper arm, too. And just like that, The Shelf lives on.
Also salvaged from Zyg was a mostly intact early rain tray. Early = Audi logo. Even then and weirdly, not all cars received the Audi logo rain tray during 1984-1988. Some of the early 5000S turbo sedans with the 2.1 engine and later 5000CS turbo cars had the non-logo style, which is boring.
Depending on the manufacture date, some of the 1989 cars received the Audi logo rain tray. The cutoff was somewhere around November 1988 when they also changed some wood trim stuff and other minor things only I cared enough to research TSBs about.
You’ll also notice that I reattached the broken piece off the 3B airbox with some Q Bond super glue, which is expensive but awesome stuff. It comes with powders that can be added to fill in gaps in whatever you’re repairing. I’m not a chemist so don’t ask me how it all works. All I know is that I was able to attach it and sand it down with an orbital sander so that it looks like it never broke off in the first place. It still bothers me, but I know I’ll find a replacement airbox cover someday.
Oh no, it’s Thursday night. Radwood is less than 48 hours away and I haven’t even tackled the interior yet!
Because the interior is so dirty, I decided to work from back to front. Franz came with his original cargo mat but it’s so tattered I’m not going to reuse it. In the future when I buy a set of Lloyd Mats, I can also get a new exact fit cargo mat from them.
It never fails that a can of Pentosin or coolant drips in this area, so there’s plenty of places where it feels greasy. Using a portable carpet extractor I was able to eradicate any stains easily.
I won’t show you the dirty tank of the extractor because it’s nasty, but the passenger areas needed three passes each. Unlike past cars with Platinum carpets, there weren’t a lot of permanent spilled coffee stains to tackle, just a lot of dirt from muddy shoes over the years.
I work nights, so I finished up the carpet cleaning and then after my shift went back to the garage to do a couple more final touches. The photo below was taken at 4AM in the morning after I joyfully spray painted some of the rusty areas to temporarily hide them. For someone who had been up for 40 hours straight at that point I don’t think I did a bad job!
Also done that night, but not pictured, was rewiring the original Delta radio. I removed all of the aftermarket stuff and replaced the front speakers, too.
Ah, Radwood Boston. For many moons I longed to attend a Radwood event, and who knew that I would be there with an Avant to share with everyone. While it remained wet for most of the show it was a great time!
Overview: A New Chapter
I spent the first week of October 2019 somewhat in a panic. Winter is coming. Leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. My back hurts and I have no heated seats. But minor First-World complaints aside, I have four vehicles that I won’t allow to get salty. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I still had a dedicated winter vehicle. But first Avant Wendell is long gone, Zyg was totaled before he got to play in the snow, and Ottmar did winter duty pre-restoration last season, but now can’t.
Maybe it’s time to get another car. But this time, it needs to be something that won’t be fully restored to a normal T44Brian level. Luckily, I had a few options. I went to look at a couple 20v sedans that week, but for the asking prices, I knew I still wouldn’t be happy unless an Avant was back in the family. My last resort was this Lago Blue 20v Avant in Vermont, which I had been watching for several weeks sit on eBay with no bites. A few weeks prior another 200 wagon (10v, lower miles, but Cyclamen Metallic which I don’t like) went up for sale in the same area, but I missed the opportunity and now the current owner is trying to flip it for double the ask. No thanks, obviously. I had the day off, so I emailed the seller and asked if I could make the three hour trip up to see the car now.
Ottmar enjoyed the trip up, I did my “basic” activities like get a mug of Apple Cider and take pictures of leaves with three layers of fleece on. I hope Ottmar enjoyed the 2.8-mile stretch of unpaved road to get to where the Avant was located – the likelihood he’ll see another dirt road in his lifetime is close to zero.
I think a lot of people were scared away by the fact that Franz was a Vermont car and already visibly rusting. My favorite word to describe new cars that come home is P O T E N T I A L. So any beautiful-but-broken Audi appeal to me, and he was no exception (even though his photo on the 20v Avant registry is this…).
It’s probably not fair to say “broken” about Franz, because I’m aware that many of the surviving 20V Avants stateside are really far gone, non-running, or rotting away behind someone’s shop. While the cosmetics weren’t great, mechanically everything was pretty sorted. A newer clutch, winter tires, tons of new suspension parts, G60s to replace the UFOs, and tons of other little things that give me headaches had already been done.
What sold me was when we put Franz up on the lift, and the rust was all purely cosmetic. All the lines and the floors were solid, and otherwise nothing too out of the ordinary for a New England car with this mileage.
I paid for Franz on Thursday and drove him home that Saturday.
If we’re talking “endgame,” Franz is all-encompassing. An Avant is back, and it’s turbo, quattro, and 20v. If I’m being honest, there really isn’t anywhere to go up from here (except buy more of them). My cutoff year is 1991, and I lack interest in C4s and don’t want to begin V8 quattros (yet).