Fiat 126 Chat > Your Restorations

KJ's 126 BIS

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Flying Carpet:
And so it begins... :D

After a few months of pondering and eBay window shopping, we finally settled on a Fiat 126 as KJ's first project car, the idea being that if he starts now, it might just be ready for when he's legally able to drive it!
We'd noticed they ranged from basket cases to absolute minters, so what we were after was a reasonably late model to make sure the old tinworm hadn't taken hold (ahh, those Alfasud memories!) 

Just happened to stumble across an ad for a 1988 BIS, dry stored, all complete and with a stack of spares to go with it. After chatting with the owner (top bloke) about the car and its condition, we agreed a deal and the following weekend ventured up to West London to pick it up.

Attracted lots of attention when we stopped at the motorway services on the way home, including an Italian guy who loved it, enthusiastically telling us we definitely chose the right model! So after getting it home, we set KJ to task with the spanners, and soon he had the rear bumper and rear panel off...


Overall the car is in pretty good shape, having had a fair bit of work and (fortunately) dry stored for a while. It will need a bit of attention to the front end but two new wings and a front panel came as part of the deal, along with loads of trim pieces and service items

We did a quick oil change and fuel top up as I wanted to do a shakedown before dismantling, but couldn't quite get the engine to catch. Later on we found out just how old the fuel was...! So out came the power unit, a nice easy job, so the work of cleaning up could begin!

Cleaned up the gearbox and fitted a new clutch guide oil seal as the bellhousing was full of oil.

After fitting new axle gaiters and driveshaft boots, along with new gearbox mounts (in the spares package!
  ), the gearbox looks a little more presentable. Note to self: don't forget to refill with oil !!!

With the engine out of the way we could turn our attention to the rear suspension, which we had noticed was pretty sorry looking. Took the opportunity to try on one of the new X1/9 wheels first though! Will have to think carefully about tyre choice, but first impressions are that the offset should be ok...
Then pulled the rest of the suspension and fuel tank out:


Rear suspension was pretty ropey, so off to the sandblaster to get cleaned up. Got some new bushes, wheel cylinders and bearings to fit once the bits come back...



All painted up and ready for assembly...

Oh yeah, and I think that this might have had something to do with the starting problem...
The new tank (supplied with the car) was painted up so we could put the old dented one to one side

Next we turned our attention to the interior. The BIS seats are in pretty good condition, but didn't really suit what KJ had in mind for the car, so with the help of his pal they set to work removing them.
Nice pants btw!

Got a cracking deal on pair of Mini seats, they look suitably retro and suit the padded dash. Couldn't resist popping them in just to have a look! Still got to work out the mounting, but hopefully that shouldn't be too much of a task.

Well that's about it for now, looking forward to getting the rear suspension back together so we can get the car turned around and get started on the front. Lots to keep us busy on the weekends for a while yet I reckon, but should be worth it in the long run!

Fantastic work guys 👍 Your really getting stuck in. It reminds me of my first one which I bought when I was 17 (in red as well). Great choice on the seats btw :)

Make sure you use the right oil in the gearbox, don't use EP

Flying Carpet:
Thanks for the tip - will look into the whole gearbox oil thing in a while...

In the meantime, we decided the rear suspension arm bushes would need doing to keep the MoT man happy.

...after all, the manual reckons 'the flexible bushes can be extracted and installed using a press...'    Yeah, right

After 30 years in situ, my little press could not even make these things wince, let alone be extracted. Time for more drastic action....

Decided that melting out the rubber was a bit messy. As the rubber had gone as hard as nails, decided to drill between the centre and the outer a few times to break up the rubber. A 5mm drill bit was an almost perfect fit. Removing the rubber from one side allowed rubber and centre pin to be driven out...

With the centre and rubber removed, a couple of cuts were made in the shell of the bush with a hacksaw, about 7 - 10mm apart. This was done carefully to avoid cutting into the bushing housing, but there wasn't too much danger of that. After that, the strip between the cuts could be peeled back with a drift, like pulling the lid off a tin of beans


After that, the rest of the outer shell of the bush was easy to drift out, leaving a nice clean housing ready for the new bush.


Here's the little varmint (or what's left of it) along with a new one for comparison. Then it was just a case of warming up the end of the arm in boiling water and then presenting it with a suitably chilled new bush (half an hour in the freezer), applying a liberal coat of grease and then squeezing the two back together. I reckon a big vice would have done the job easily, but as we had the press it seemed daft not to use it.


New bush in place, hopefully good for another few years yet!

I can't say replacing bushes is ever my favourite job, and my heart always sinks when I see these on an MoT form, so glad this job is done. Without a doubt, removing the old ones is the most difficult bit - the first one took me a couple of hours, a plaster and a fair bit of strong language , but after that, the other three only took about half an hour each. Pushing the new ones in was a doddle, but very satisfied now it's done. Found some useful tips on an old post by michaelodonnell500, so will post a reply there too.

Now just wondering what the front suspension has in store for us!

Great work :thumbup they are a bit of a swine to do. I go for the more messy (not to mention stinky!) way of burning them out before doing the same as you cutting a slot and peeling the outer shell out but very satisfying job once it's done. At the front the top and bottom bushes are exactly the same as the rear bushes - in that they are literally the same part - so you'll become an expert in removing them soon   ;D but to be fair the lower ones in the leaf are les fiddley to do as the leaf is easier to work around than the rear swing arms


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