Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Grey Hatch - When it rains it pours Pt. 1

If you've kept up with my e30 build, you know that I've had it off the road quite a bit so I could get major things addressed. The car that I typically baby, which is why it's usually in the garage (thus has not been mentioned yet), is my Mk3 VW Golf. For some quick background, I've owned my golf since new in 1998 and have thoroughly enjoyed evolving it over the past nine years or so. Since being resprayed back in the Spring of 07', my golf is hardly ever outside. Besides oil changes and tune ups, natures affects on it have never been a concern. Fast forward to about a month ago, I've been driving it every day.

It doesn't look like this now of course; discontinued parts are for special occasions ha. It's been nice to get used to driving it again. Don't get me wrong, my driving technique with the e30 is much like how I drive the golf; the lessons of driving lowered VWs are ingrained in many of us til' the grave. However, the pan/subframe clearance differences of both cars are like night and day. The largest effective difference is that I can't drive the golf quickly in every lane of I-95, between my house and work in laurel, and I was reminded of that on the first week with a subframe grind at a little over 65mph. Every time I drive my golf I always remember all the small things I've learned to live with from the last time the car was seriously worked on, as well as the great gas mileage ABA code 2L 8v motors get when driven smoothly for long distances. I really forgot how much fun running around in this car is. I should make a to-do list for my kid at some point, but that'll have to wait for another time.

On a mildly rainy day a couple weeks ago, getting into the car to go home from work I found myself smelling something funny on the interior. Musty? Check. Moisture? Yep, on the passenger front carpet. I sniff the liquid on my hands to figure out if it's coolant from the heatercore, but I can't put a finger on the odor. Once the motor warms up I turn on the heat full blast and it works great; no foggy mist coming out of the vents or anything like that. "That's odd", I thought to myself. I have about 156K miles on the car with the original heatercore (knock on wood), so I boxed myself into thinking that's what it was. I put in an order for a 180 degree section of coolant hose to prepare for the worst if the heatercore was about to go completely. I threw a bath towel on the front passenger foot well and called it a day until I got more evidence of the culprit.

The following week it started raining here in Maryland. Heavily. Day after day. So I walk out to my car in the rain one morning, because I left my cell phone in it, and was welcomed by a small lake on the passenger side of the car. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

The good news is I had a water leak which is cheaper to repair than a heatercore. The bad news is I had to diagnose and fix (temporarily at least) the leak in the intermittently heavy rain, immediately, since I was going into work for an overnight shift in a few hours and wouldn't be able to get the quality film I needed to repair the vapor barrier with until the following day (upon looking at the leak trail on the inside of the car it was obvious what had failed). I made a call to my buddy Tom, Service/Shop Manager @ Wheaton Service Center and he still had the good stuff on a roll. Since Wheaton is relatively close to my job, I planned on going straight there after work, but I'd need to have a fix good enough to last me through another 10-15hrs of rain (Friday was supposed to be sunny and dry).

So after running to my sister-in-laws with the ol' lady to get the wet-dry vac, I got the golf on the driveway with wood planks and starting clearing the problem area. I removed the front passenger seat, then the inner door sill trim, speaker and doorcard. This is what I found:


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