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Old 25th September 2008, 18:45   #1
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Default Project Sierra

There is an idiot in every one of us!

Most of you might have understood what I am going to say, reading just the title and the opening line of this post. Yes... 1992 NA Tata Sierra is being reborn as I type this...

First, a little background - I needed a nice rugged vehicle for my restaurant in Bangalore. I was looking something which would is capable of suffering abuse from the hands of a driver and to take on the non-existent Bangalore roads without a frown on its… ahem.. grill…

A Sierra seemed a good option because I thought I can use it over the weekend for joyrides. So the search began. I dint find much of luck. One broker even showed a Sierra which was rusting outside a house for donkeys years… The insides of the vehicle rivaled those of “sulabh sauchalay” and he quoted a cool 70k for this… IMHO the price was just a decimal point off… Hot potato… dropped it and the other 4-5 “cars” I saw.

Finally picked one from a friend. It was not maintained properly but it was better than any of the ones I saw before. Got it serviced and spent 7k on servicing and got it to the road.

We were using it for the hotel for about a month and suddenly one night, someone stole the damn battery!

At the same time I got busy with other, more important stuff and left this sierra in the rain for a looong time (read 3 months). Finally I bought a new battery (SF Jumbo 80 AH for Rs 4900) last week and set out to meet the old man... I mean the sierra.

There he was... standing in knee high vegetation. There was a building construction going on next to where the car was parked. Cement was spilled all over the bonnet. It was ugly…

A tractor had, apparently, hit the driver side door a few weeks back and knocked it up… but it wasn’t that bad… a minor dent – by sierra standards.

I was praying that everything will go smoothly and that the car will start once we plonk the new battery. It took about 10 mins to fix the battery in the dark.

Turned the ignition… wheezes… like an old man… but engine doesn’t fire… fingers crossed… going for the second try… turn the key after heating the coil.. growls and gets back to life… tap the gas and he sounds like he is saying “It feels great to be alive again”.

Happy ending right?

Well not quite… My house is about 12 odd kms from where the car was hibernating for 3 months. Looking at the car under the good lighting in the parking lot, I felt that the cement was an ugly sight…

I had found a new garage on the way to work a few weeks ago. It looked pretty decent. So I called them and arranged for the car to be picked up so I could probably get it repainted... right? Costs about10k, give or take a few K… no sweat…

When I reach the garage, I peep into the engine bay and see that most of it is eaten by rust... the engine is still a peach cos it is behaving itself and doesn’t overheat etc. There are no known mechanical problems with the car for the brief while we had it (and my friend had it for 3 years).

The roof had leaks and water seeped into the platform. The platforms were eaten by rust too. The running boards were totally gone. And there was rust in most of the joints. Hmmm... it would require a major metal work… lots of welding and tinkering. I bit the bullet… and give the go ahead to bring the old fellow back to top shape… I have pictures and will post them.
I will be using the vehicle for my own use for about 60 kms everyday and a mandatory outstation trip in the range of 1000kms both ways, every month. I have a few questions and hope someone can give pointers.

1) The car is registered as white with the RTO. Will the RTO have any problem if I paint it black or red or whatever?

2) Anything to keep in mind when getting it repainted? What paint? How many coats etc?

3) The car is devoid of any ICE. It doesn’t bother me really. I am ready to spend about 30-40k on top of the cost of tinkering/repainting. Assuming the car is mechanically sound, can you give me some suggestions on what can be added to the car? Like dual a/c or aluminum radiator/extra electric fan etc. The tyres are pretty ok and I don’t want to change them right now. So for 30- 40k what else can I do to the car? I prefer functional accessories than aesthetic ones…

I am also curious how much is a good amount to spend on only the tinkering and painting for the car. I already fixed on a price but wondering if I paid too much… or too little…

I will post pictures soon. Problem with the speed of the net connection… I will keep everyone informed about the progress as well.

There really is an idiot in every one of us! cheers:
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Old 26th September 2008, 10:28   #2
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Arrow Check the wiring

With the bool already in gaurage, I hope the metal and paint job will give it a hole new look, but when you say the car was parked for 3 odd months in a knee high grass and was a construction site near by then I suspect there must have been many rats and might have eaten up some of the wiring. Its better to get the electrical wiring checked completely might need some replacement. Most of the times we and the mechanic ignore these.

I suggest do it before fitting ICE as if the initial wiring has some problems or leaks then the current fuses are just holding to it and as soon as you go in for an addition you might face wonders on the way where finding someone to rapair it might be a nightmare.

I had 30A and a wire shorted fuse in my zen. After ICE installation the radiator fan suddenly stopped functioning and the hole way we had to run without any cooling. Fortunately the engine was not heated and we could drive back safely. When I went to gaurage, he showed me many wires whos insulation was burned (due to heavy duty fuses whihch never blew) which required immidiate replacement. Even the temp sensor was made direct. After replacing all of them finally I had a convincing ride home. This all costed me 2.4K. So better check it while it is still under the gaurage roof.
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Old 26th September 2008, 15:33   #3
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That's going to be a heck of a project! You do realise that the moolah that goes into getting such a car back on the road could get you another used car (healthier turbo-sierra perhaps)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak916 View Post
1) The car is registered as white with the RTO. Will the RTO have any problem if I paint it black or red or whatever?
Have the RC book updated. A simple formality best handled by an RTO agent.

Quote:
2) Anything to keep in mind when getting it repainted? What paint? How many coats etc?
You haven't shared any pictures yet, but it seems like your Sierra will require substantial body work. Strip her down entirely and make sure you attend to rust.

Quote:
3) The car is devoid of any ICE. It doesn’t bother me really.
You mention that the car hadn't been maintained well. Leave the ICE for later. First focus on getting her back to the pink of mechanical health. Have the engine, suspension, drivetrain & electronics checked thoroughly.

Ensure that you get the right hands to work on her. Every additional minute spent at the time of the rebuild will save you 10 later.
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Old 26th September 2008, 19:36   #4
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Thanks for the suggestion about the wiring. I am getting it checked and changing all the fuses which are defunct. I also am changing all the rubber components ( bushes in suspension/axle, radiator pipes, wipers etc) and all the beading in the windows
@ GTO – yes I realize it’s going to cost me a bomb… but I looked at other sierras and people are quoting ridiculous prices and I don’t know the condition of those engines. So instead of spending atleast 50k on another sierra and then going in for repairs will cost me the same and it will be headache to get rid of this in the current condition, that coupled with the task of scouting for another healthy sierra… so that’s why I decided to stick to this one.
So I am contemplating a color change… I still have a couple of weeks to decide since it will take so long for them to do the Tinkering job. I have told them to take their own sweet time and finish it. No hurry.
Also do you know what the cost of dupont paint is? I litre? He says I will have to pay around 50% extra to get a dupont paint. For now I have asked him to get an ST paint.. ST I think.. that’s what I heard him say is used on stock Tatas…
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Old 28th September 2008, 02:47   #5
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ak916-best of luck with the project,do keep posted with pics, so can give suggestions.
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Old 28th September 2008, 12:17   #6
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916,
Great choice of car.All the best.Post pics soon!
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Old 28th September 2008, 12:41   #7
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Hi Ak,

Seems like another interesting thread is born, If I may add to the expert advice here (me no expert) for you to look up the suspension of the Sierra for it inherently seems to have issues with the suspension. Since it is in the garage already it might be worth the effort to look at it.

Just a word of caution, I am presuming that this mechanic/painter has a paint booth at this disposal and is not hand spraying it in the open !! I personally recommend that if he does not you tow it to a point booth to have the primer/paint done for that surely lasts longer. I am stating this after watching a few painters in Chennai who hand spray on the road side and that sort of a paint job invariably flakes and peels faster than the booth sprayed ones.

Do you feel a anti rust coat is required ? just food for thought?

Take care buddy and happy restoration.

Best Regards,

Srinivas
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Old 28th September 2008, 17:35   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desigNation View Post
ak916-best of luck with the project,do keep posted with pics, so can give suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evo View Post
916,
Great choice of car.All the best.Post pics soon!
Thanks a lot guys... I am going to post pictures sometime this week. I am in hyd right now and its been a crazy week for me :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Srini76 View Post
Hi Ak,

Seems like another interesting thread is born, If I may add to the expert advice here (me no expert) for you to look up the suspension of the Sierra for it inherently seems to have issues with the suspension. Since it is in the garage already it might be worth the effort to look at it.

Just a word of caution, I am presuming that this mechanic/painter has a paint booth at this disposal and is not hand spraying it in the open !! I personally recommend that if he does not you tow it to a point booth to have the primer/paint done for that surely lasts longer. I am stating this after watching a few painters in Chennai who hand spray on the road side and that sort of a paint job invariably flakes and peels faster than the booth sprayed ones.

Do you feel a anti rust coat is required ? just food for thought?

Take care buddy and happy restoration.

Best Regards,

Srinivas
Hi Srinivas, I got the suspension checked... There is nothing wrong with it.. nothing wrong yet, i mean. And this guy has a paint booth and in the days that i have visited the garage, i have seen new swifts, fusion and a couple of zen/altos here... all getting tinker/paint jobs... so that angle is fine.

Today i was thinking if i should go in for black paint.. but black paint and a sierra a/c... or the lack of it might just about cook the occupants... still havent switched off the thinking mode...
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Old 9th October 2008, 18:51   #9
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So I was away for sometime... cleaning everything... lol.. I know it sounds funny... but really.. I cleaned my apartment.. and cleaned every nook and cranny... my RX 135... used it pretty rough... almost 9 year old... shines like a mirror now... I am a happy man...

oh so coming back to the Sierra.. Our man is recuperating... his veins (read wiring) were badly damaged... His body had a lot of battle scars and wounds. But the heart (engine) is in great condition... The Doctors (read mechanic) say he will live till a ripe old age... and probably, possibly, seduce another generation of youngsters... :-) Again, I am a happy man.. simple things in life make me happy...


Unfortunately I dont have pictures of his current state... I just forgot to click them in the excitement of seeing this mammoth moving towards being healthy once again...

The tinkerers(?) have stripped him completely.. the 5 huge glasses are off... The lining of the roof is removed.. seats... the dashboard is taken out as well... the engine is still in the bay, thankfully we dont have to "down" it.. phew...

As far as the tinker job, my instructions were very clear.. just make sure my 9 month old nephew can run his hand absolutely anywhere on the car (inside, outside, under) and still not have bruise to show... :-) In other words... smooth lines, no rust...

And I am pretty happy with the progress made so far.. its slow but, hey, I am in no hurry.

They started working on him from the front LH fender.. fixed the battery bay.. it was totally eaten by rust. did patch work wherever needed. The LH running board has been replaced... the paint on the LH side of the car has been totally scrapped and any rust has been attended to... if the rust if a little more than a centimeter, then it has been cleanly cut by a blowtorch and patched up with metal... these guys are doing a remarkable job with the finish... you just cant tell that it was patched up... (this is a first for me, that explains the "excitement")


Okay so battery bay, LH fender, LH running board, LH door have been checked and paint scrapped... the platforms are all being checked and any patchwork is being completed... back door also has been totally checked for rust...

by the next two days RH side should be completed... Work was stopped for a full week on account of Id... but again, I am in no hurry :-)

Now the pictures...

Disclaimer: The following pictures are for mature audiences only. If you have a heart condition, please dont scroll down further


Notice the running board? There is a close up picture that might make you smash your computer screen in anger... please refrain from doing so.. he he

Project Sierra-imag0056.jpg

Close up!

Project Sierra-imag0074.jpg

Battery compartment... where?? I cant see it!

Project Sierra-imag0068.jpg

More Cement and the RH door slightly banged in by a tractor!

Project Sierra-imag0060.jpg

The insides of the dashboard... urgh...

Project Sierra-imag0064.jpg

More to come.. the good thing of hitting rock bottom is, there is only one way you can go from there... so the next set of pictures will be definitely better :-)



Please... Avoid.... Typing..... Like.... This.... TeamBHP support

Last edited by Jaggu : 9th October 2008 at 19:57. Reason: Avoid ..... Please.....
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Old 10th October 2008, 13:10   #10
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whoa. What pics. I feel like Fast and the Furious, where they get to work on the Supra!
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Old 11th October 2008, 17:46   #11
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ak916-thanx for the pics,take it as a challenge,worse the vehicle condition the more the thrill is getting it back to shape[of course it all depends on the moolah you are going to spend on this].best of luck dude, pls keep posted.
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Old 22nd October 2008, 22:12   #12
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Note from Team-BHP Support : Do NOT use inappropriate language on this forum, even indirectly (*****). We advise you to read our board rules before proceeding any further.

Hi Everyone - Just some updates. The service center (I want to use some choice expletives in hindi, telugu, kannada, malayalam, tamil and english and since doing so will get me banned, please use your imagination!!!) guy has done a 180 degree turn on me.

The ***** (please read the above text which is in parenthesis) took 40% advance from me and has not done much work in the last 3 weeks. 3 weeks ago was Ramzan and that is understandable since both the "Tinkerers" were observing the festival. The week after that was dasera... understandable. Last week also he dint do much because he is overloaded with work. He has taken everything that has come his way and worst part is that he has started to work on another old car.

I had a showdown with him a few days back and he says he cant tell me any date when this will get finished. And he is saying he can’t help it if there are other cars coming in. He basically bluntly put it that, once he gets money, he doesnt care to complete the job.

I can be mental at times. But this time I am approaching it differently. I go to the service center everyday (on the way to work) and click a picture of the car and get back into my car and drive out. I don’t talk to the ***** (again, see text in parenthesis in the first paragraph) or his staff. I did that 3 days and now there is some work being done.

I am going to do this for 2-3 more days. If that doesnt work, I will go mental... Its time to make some calls and bring the cavalry. I don’t want to do this but some people understand only the hard way.

Almost feel sorry for the car getting caught in between.

Last edited by GTO : 23rd October 2008 at 12:31.
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Old 22nd October 2008, 23:18   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evo View Post
whoa. What pics. I feel like Fast and the Furious, where they get to work on the Supra!
The Sierra is in a much worse state, the amount of rust is unbelievable.

@ak916 - Good luck with the re-build mate, i am sure it'll turn out to be a very good vehicle and even if it takes a lot of time this vehicle wll be quite close to your heart.
Get the hammer down on the guy to start the work and also complete it in time.

Last edited by abhik : 22nd October 2008 at 23:21.
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Old 23rd October 2008, 11:51   #14
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So very typical of garages.

The one time I did this (restoration) back in 2000, I had a tough time with the guys. They took some money upfront and wasn't doing much work inspite of my frequent visits and complaints. At last I got a guy who knew the owner to speed up, which worked out pretty good. I have seen many friends in similar situations where the freaks take the money and do nothing for weeks.

Anyway good luck on the restoration. Do post pic's and updates.
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Old 23rd October 2008, 13:33   #15
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@ak
just one of the pitfalls, look at the big picture!speaking of pictures, the camera idea is terrific!
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