Suzuki Vitara MOT, 4th Time.

Another year, another MOT…  

Wow, where has the time gone? Can this be Tug’s forth MOT with me?   

At the time I was doing my masters in Professional Writing and had decided to write about what I knewcars.  Well, among other things as well, but classic cars have always been there. It could be said people became hooked on hydrocarbons during the last century.  I was and still, I’m among the worst. Well in regards to cars and bikes anyway. My last post spoke about surfing and car culture. My passion is a mix of situation, work, marital, financial, environmental and my own often dubious mental state.   

The picture of Classicaraddict is just after I’d bought her. I’ve written about this in the past, but it sums that moment the brain catches up with consequences of the latest impulse buy. It didn’t start off well with the fuel filler pipe collapsing the day after I got her legal… 
My friend Nigel recommended that I should look at one. At the time, his project Vitara was a bare shell exposed to the elements.  Tug has changed how I work and after 4 years I’m still constantly amazed about how capable she is. I’m also constantly shocked at the fuel consumption, aside from that, they are just what Nigel said. MK1 Vitara’s are amazing little off-roaders.  
 

Oddly they seem to be creeping up in value once more.  A lot seem to rust like well, Suzuki Jimny’s and MK1 and 2 Mazda MK5’S, (Oh bugger.) Also, because they were cheap, plentiful and good off-road, many got used and abused.   

I do use Tug off-road a lot, but don’t really abuse her. She is my workmate, my colleague, my friend. In the last 3 ½ years I’ve only welded her twice. The first time was around the rear seat mounts a month after I bought her. The second was two years ago and a little around the driver’s side tow bar mount.  Last year when Dan at Dan CB Tyres fitted the exhaust, I checked under her…  We were both were amazed at how good the floors and chassis are.  I know how bad they can rust as Nigel’s didn’t have any floors at the time of me getting Tug.   

Over the years I’ve done the fuel filler pipe, cambelt, plugs, leads, air filter, radiator, exhaust silencer, petrol filter, battery,  two sets of front brake pads and rear shoes. Two clutch cables, one clutch, rear brake cylinders (both sides,) front to rear brake pipe, cylinder head gasket, one injection unit, two internal door handles, passenger external one, both door catches, two passenger mirrors and lots of oil changes.  Oh, and all the transmission fluids. 

It seems a lot, but over those 3 ½ years and 31000 miles, it isn’t.  Checking the old MOT’s, I’m averaging about 9000 miles a year… Wow! A lot of gear is carried which means at least the weight of another full-size adult, and then towing a trailer as well. No wonder the brakes take a bashing… 
In my keeping, she has failed two MOT’s first time and passed two… I always try to prep a car properly and joke it is the only time I get to see the back seats. They are still there but hardly used.  

 

Considering the time frame, she hasn’t been expensive to run. Well apart from fuel…  

Now worth more than the £350 I bought her for. About £800 to £1000 with the fresh mot, if not a little extra at the moment. Apart from fuel, insurance, and road tax I doubt that anything else could have been so useful and cost so little over the years. Now that I have Bel my little MX5, Tug does far fewer longer drives which is one reason I’m shocked at the annual mileage. She is used most days for work and pleasure, often with trailer in tow and paddleboard on the roof.  

There is no reason that she shouldn’t keep going for years to come with a little TLC and I’ll keep her until I change my work and then I’ll struggle to part with her… I’ve never been bored driving. Scared once or twice yes, but never bored. 
The smile is there every time I get in and then it dims a little as fuel is needed again

Thank you Tug, my Spanish lady with a Japanese heart.  
You are the perfect example of a practical classic…

Welding One Small Patch?

Welding…

Older Suzuki Vitara’s have a reputation for rusting, well the bodies anyway.

When I bought Tugg, I did miss a couple of holes near the rear seat mounts. Now removing the seats was an option but would mean notifying  DVLA this would not be an issue for the MOT or annual road inspection. But then Tugg would become a commercial vehicle and that would affect insurance etc…

There are a few basic rules to welding, the first is that any hole will be far bigger than it initially appears. Many years ago when welding a friend’s Ford Escort after tapping a small area almost 2 foot of rust landed on my head and in my eyes…  So yes the holes did appear a little larger than expected, but not overly so.

After being taught to weld by a friend 10 years ago I enjoy it much more a lot of mechanical work. I still use the same second-hand Cebora 130 Mig welder I bought then. Over the years I’ve welded on a fairly regular basis and have slowly increased my skill level.

Along the way, I’ve acquired a few tricks. One is to disconnect the battery. This is becoming increasingly important with the increase in sensitive electronics. Perhaps the most important trick I’ve learned is to prepare the metal really well. I use sanding disks on my angle grinder as they give a better finish than grinding disks.

Having prepared the areas that required welding I started work. After cutting a patch to fit I then spot welded it into place. Metal expands and contracts as heat is applied, so almost fitting is good enough in the tacking process. You can either hammer down each section as you work along the edge or press down using an old screwdriver. Once the patch is spot welded in place it is simply a question of then joining them up using little beads of weld. To avoid overheating an area it is best to weld on alternating sides of the patch. I was taught to weld on the lowest setting to avoid blowing holes in the metal. Sadly this means that good penetration is not always achieved. With experience, I now weld on a higher power setting.

Once done, I ran over the welds with the sanding disk. With a coat of black paint, the job looks fairly tidy for MOT test next Thursday.

Yes, the holes are a little bigger than expected, but now they are done.

A good afternoon’s work.