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 Post subject: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 4:35 am 
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Joined: Mar Tue 03, 2009 11:12 pm
Posts: 2024
Location: Great Bend KS
Mine was changing the heater core on my 2001 Dodge Ram, which I did a year ago! I've changed engines and transmissions and rear ends in my youth but now that I'm 71 changing the core was a holy b*&^%! My truck needed a new dash on top of it all so I ordered a new dash and core at same time. Non of the local mechanics wanted to do the job, and I couldn't afford the cost anyway! Dash and core was 400 dollars. Most back breaking part of the ordeal was unplugging the wiring harnesses. Requires poking a sharp tool into the plugs to unlock them, and you can't see them, have to work by feel. Course two people are required to carry the dash out.. But am glad I got it all done myself with a helper to help carry the dash out and back in. Have to take the air box loose to get the new core in. All in all about three days time total for this job. All the youtube videos I watched, not a single one mentioned about removing the parking brake lever, had to buy one of those at an extra 30 bucks when I didn't disconnect the lever from the handle. It's nice having heat and a nice unbroken dash now!


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 5:33 am 
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Joined: Aug Tue 24, 2021 9:18 pm
Posts: 304
I've done lots of them that were a pain. At home, where I used to work, and at a friend's place where I worked on the side.

Probably the biggest pain and most time consuming was at my friend's. A lady brought in a Ford Expedition that was hit hard dead center on the side. I cut the rocker and door pillar off, welded a few pieces of scrap metal to the inner structure, and pulled the floor and inner rocker out with a come-a-long attached to a tree. :lol: She bought a used rocker and pillar, and I had to drill all the spot welds out, fit it up, and weld it on. Then, I ground all the seams and welds, and smoothed it up with filler. My friend painted everything, and we hung and adjusted the replacement doors. I also changed out the blown air bags.

Another major time waster was when my boss bartered some work with someone for an engine swap in a rust bucket Chevy truck that should have gone to the junkyard. The truck originally had a 454, and the owner brought us an oddball tall deck 427 out of some ancient heavy duty truck. NOTHING fit. I had to extend brackets, make hoses, plug off water outlets, etc. And when I dropped it in and bolted it up, I found that the block had no bolt holes to attach the starter. :roll: We pulled the transmission out of that POS TWICE trying to find a bell housing and starter combo that would work. :evil:

I've also done heater cores, engine and transmission swaps, and other jobs that were varying levels misery.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 6:14 am 
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Joined: Aug Wed 24, 2011 4:35 am
Posts: 5812
Location: Sunnyvale CA
Hard to say, one of several fixes to my former little hot rod were both lengthy and irritating. Lotus Esprit Series 1:

#1 - Previous owner had installed subwoofers in the central tunnel. Problem is, the central tunnel is the main channel of *the backbone chassis". HE cut through the fiberglass but didn't have enough clearance for the basket and magnet. He had to cut the "sheet metal" that was blocking it. So now the chassis has two 8" diameter holes, in my 10"x8" backbone. Moroever, running down the middle of the backbone were the pipes taking coolant from the radiator to the engine and back. He accidentally cut through those, too. HE fixed it by sticking two molded rubber hoses for who-knows-what car in the gap. Of course the original pipes haven't been made since 1978.

So I had to find some 1 1/2" 5052 T0 tubing, two 8 foot pieces, and then find someone with a proper bender to bend them. I got that, eventually, I had no way to flare them, so I made a tool by grinding grooves and brazing music wire to a pair of big pliers and doing it 1/2" at a time by hand. Of course, to slide them in, the spoiler/radiator baffle had to come out, the radiator had to come out, the fans had to come out, and then I was able to remove all the bolts holding the body to the chassis in the front, leaving two in the back as a pivot, and jack up the body off the chassis to get clearance. Then, with all this set up, fish it all the way through the chassis to the rear bulkhead, through two rubber grommets. No access to that, aside from two hand clearance holes about 5x8", and no one to push on it as I lined it up. After a few hours, I got it by tying a rope to the front, lining it up with one hand, and pulling the rope with the other. Put it all back together, no problem.

Then, cut an even bigger hole in the fiberglass, enough to give me clearance to TIG weld patches on the chassis, then, spray foam to insulate it from the body, then, fiberglass over the holes and grind/sand flat, refinish (not too good since it was under carpet and the center console).

Entire effort took over 2 years, I am also working 60 hours a week on a critical work product.

#2 - same car. While replacing the motor mounts, which had gotten too hot due to a missing heat shield and then broken in half - I note that only one bolt is holding on the left rear trailing arm pivot - broken off in the hole and not replaced. No way to get the trailing arm out of the grove because no clearance to the inner fenderwell (solid fiberglass and part of the body), engine on the other side. No way to drill out or get to the bolt to drill it out, it was 1/2" from the trailing arm, just enough to clear the head. This time, I had to take out almost all the bolts holding the chassis to the body, only two right above the radiator support were left. Put the wheel hub on a cut-off railroad tie, removed large parts of the wiring harness into the engine bay for clearance, then jacked up the rear of the body. Pulled out the trailing arm, was able to get a angle drill with a centering bit on the broken-off bolt. As soon as it bit, it spun it right out on the engine side, no problem, replaced the bolts, replaced the trailing arm, let the body back down, hooked up all the wiring, good to go.

This one took about a year, during which time it sat idle. Most of the time was figuring out how to do it, the actual execution was one weekend.

#3 - while doing the above fix, noticed that all the wire on the interior side of the firewall was color-coded as per the factory, and all the wire on the engine bay side was yellow. Every wire had been spliced to replace a burnt-up engine wiring harness. I call around (this was the late 80's), no one has one, but I get a lead and a number to call. I call up, some person answers in a British accent. I ask them if they have a harness for a Esprit Series 1 (Federal) - "No, we don't have one, but we can pull out the jigs and make one for you, it will be about 3 weeks, 400 pounds" (about $900 as I recall). I realize that *this is the Lotus factory in Hethel", and *they still have the wiring jigs for a 13-year-old car and make replacements to order*. So I end up ordering a bunch of other parts, too, including a roof panel that they *also had to make*, get out the blurp gun and the mold and in about a month I an *cutting the roof off the car* and gluing on a new one.

Other painful jobs - changing the water pump belt, replacing the front cover gasket (both require getting your hands between the firewall and the engine, about 1 1/2" of space and fabricating a new air injection rail from scratch.


I no longer have the car, doing stuff like this on a regular basis needed a lot better facilities than I could manage. I have a more modern equivalent that is like the Lotus with all the horrible mistakes fixed. And other people work on it.


Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 6:20 am 
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Joined: Feb Wed 07, 2018 6:52 pm
Posts: 1125
Location: Stone Mountain, GA
Changing the rocker cover gaskets on a '96 V6 Camero.

I think the proper procedure is to lift the body or drop the engine. Most of the engine is under the cowl.

The problem is they have two lift brackets that come off the ends of the heads that curve over the rocker cover. The drivers side is not that bad, remove thermostat housing and misc parts to get to the bracket.

The passenger side though; bracket is bolted to back of head and main harness and trans dipstick run right over the bolts. I ended up bending a 1/2" wrench to the right angle to get to it. Long, tight bolts I could only move a few degrees with hand wedged in the 1" space between engine and firewall. Once bracket is off then need to remove alternator and coil packs.

Rocker cover gaskets took 15 minutes once everything out of the way. Never put the brackets back on.

Pulled several engines, rebuilt them. Replaced heater cores. Was easy, just lots of steps. That Camaro was so long and low and you spent hours laying across the engine and reaching blindly under the cowl. My back was never the same afterward.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 8:39 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 10034
Location: Redlands CA
Rebuilding a 2007-ish Crown Victoria that had driven over railroad tracks at speed, not at a crossing, just over the tracks.

It ripped pretty much everything on the bottom side to bits, but the body was undamaged. oil cooler, radiator. condenser rack and pinion, spindles & control arms, tie rods, front subframe, trans pan oil pan, all four wheels & tires, rear axles (maybe the housing too, don't remember) , broke the evaporator case under the hood. $7000 in parts. The vehicle had less than 10,000 miles on it so it was deemed cost effective to repair it.

Not really difficult, just time consuming.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 9:08 am 
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Joined: Jun Sat 09, 2007 8:14 am
Posts: 5170
Location: Melbourne, Florida
Eric H wrote:
Rebuilding a 2007-ish Crown Victoria that had driven over railroad tracks at speed, not at a crossing, just over the tracks.
.............


There must be a story behind this.

RRM


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 16985
Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
Rebuild an automatic transmission from a '60 Chrysler 300F

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 12:48 pm 
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Joined: Jan Tue 07, 2020 1:41 am
Posts: 4369
Location: Belleview, FL 34420
Replace engine. 1966 Pontiac GTO. About 7 hours work.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 12:57 pm 
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Joined: Jan Fri 23, 2009 1:10 am
Posts: 355
Changing the battery. That's my limit for car repair.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 1:49 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 13473
Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
Two things come to mind.

First was a 1976 full size Chevrolet pickup that T-boned a car that pulled in front of it. The frame rails were bent over the mounts for the front suspension. But the radiator was undamaged nor was the front sheet metal. We bought a 1973 Chevrolet truck, stuck the tags from the 1976 on it and drove it cross town to my house. We then used a tree in my back yard with a come-along and removed the cab and bed from both trucks and did a frame swap. First time to lay the exhaust system in, front to back from the top! The old truck got cut up into little pieces and cycled through the dumpster at work. Recycle was scarce then; the dumpster was handy. No, not the best thing for the environment. I am better now and make up for it, though I don't go nuts.

Next one was a Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale diesel that had a bad engine. Guy gave me a complete Cutlass that had a good engine and no good transmission. Long story short, I transplanted the gasoline engine into the diesel car and made everything work, including the larger diesel exhaust pipes and cruise control which had to be fabricated. It also could use the still available leaded gasoline because it had the larger filler opening for the gas tank. The diesel fuel that was in the tank when I did the swap went into my oil burner tank and because it was titled as a diesel, I was able to escape the MD emissions tests. (OK, go ahead and throw the harpoons!). Only had it for a few years but it was a true Boulevard Cruiser.

I guess converting the Dodge Dart 225 Slant Six to 4bbl, headers, four speed isn't considered a repair so I will spare you the details.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 28036
Location: Detroit, MI USA
Used to do a lot of engine and transmission replacements, engine swaps to a bigger engine, changing from automatic to stick shift, and so on. Some took longer than others. One of the more notorious was transplanting a 427 into a '57 T-Bird back around 1970. Yes, it can be done, others had done big block swaps into little T-Birds so I knew it was possible. No, it is not worth it, the car is way too light and although it is very fast, it's seriously dangerous with that much power. Parts have to be fabricated, but you can actually close the hood, although you can't use a very large air cleaner, it has to fit within the hood scoop area.

Probably the biggest projects were restorations or collision repairs. The first major one was a '57 T-Bird back in the 70's, being a Michigan car the passenger compartment floor, lower firewall, and lower door hinge pillar areas were rusted away to the point the doors sagged several inches when opened and you had to lift them up to get them closed. That body is one piece after they weld it all together at the factory. I found another rust free one that came from out of state and was wrecked too badly to repair, but the center section of the body was fine. So I carefully cut the two cars apart and transplanted the firewall, windshield frame, door pillars, rocker panels and floor from the rust free wreck into the rusted body. Was it worth it? I don't know, but it was educational. Everything fit and lined up when I was done, so it must have been.

In the late 70's I had the opportunity to acquire a totalled '59 Ford retractable that had just been completely restored a couple of years earlier. It was damaged really bad but the price was way too good to pass up, I'm sure I paid far less than the cost of the new upholstery alone. I saw it as a challenge. Hit hard in the front, the crash bent the frame beyond repair, ripped the left front suspension clear off, pushed the engine through the firewall and although I didn't see it I'm told it destroyed the aluminum case of the transmission. I got the car minus the engine and transmission, and the only thing left of the front end was the right side fender. After locating another one that had been used as an oval track race car, with no usable panels on the body, I swapped the frames with the help of a friend, and we did it inside the garage. Using two floor jacks and a few 4 x 4's, we lifted the body enough to get stacks of cement blocks under the 4 x 4's and dragged the frame out from under the body and put the new one in place. Later on, I drilled out all the welds and also replaced the firewall, door hinge pillars, and windshield frame as one piece. Had to do a lot of measuring, much of it diagonally, to get the door openings and top of the windshield header in the correct alignment. The doors fit well and opened and closed properly, and I only had to adjust the shims under the firewall mounts to the frame to tweak the position of the top of the windshield frame about 1/2" so the top would line up with the locks in the header when I put it up.

Both of those took months to accomplish. I'm not doing any more major body repairs. That was enough. I'll limit it to welding in patches for rust repair, or replacing bolt on parts.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 6391
Location: Minneapolis, MN USA
Not a repair, but a mod.

Purchased a basic trim Dodge Neon 1996, four door. Decided I wanted power windows and locks in place of the manual locks. The "kit" to do this was a universal kit with adapters, one very long wiring harness and assorted sheet metal straps. Installation required removing all trim on all four doors, the door sills plus more in the dash near the fuse block. I started at 7am on a Saturday and finished at 9pm same day.

I decide from then on if I wanted power windows and locks I would option the car with them.

The most difficult repair was the head gasket on a 1982 Granada. It's an i-line six cylinder engine whose head I swear feels like it's 4 feet long. I had my father make guide pins to fit the block when I dropped the head back in place. I used a rope and pulley in the garage rafters to bear the weight of the head during removal / replacement.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 4:44 pm 
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Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
Dale Saukerson wrote:
The most difficult repair was the head gasket on a 1982 Granada. It's an i-line six cylinder engine whose head I swear feels like it's 4 feet long. I had my father make guide pins to fit the block when I dropped the head back in place. I used a rope and pulley in the garage rafters to bear the weight of the head during removal / replacement.
I pulled the head of off my '73 AMC Hornet, twice over its 25 year life, valve jobs and valve seals.... Ya, heavy bugger, dead lift, did the job outdoors in the driveway. Same car got two timing chains. Crappy lube system for the rockers and chain...

Give AMC credit for the transmission, rear end and the radio, those always worked... All I have now are the radio and the memories of all the radios I hauled home with the "Hornet Truck" :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 5:10 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 12175
In late '70s, I swapped frame under a 1970 Galaxie 500. Took better part of a week.

My daily driver turned out to be a northern refugee, frame over rear axle was al but non existent. Guy I got it from worked at Ford's Norfolk assembly plant & told me he bought it from a fellow worker. Not sure how I found his wife worked at one of the Sears stores I serviced. She told me they bought it new in St Paul & car spent two winters there. Fast forward seven years, salt accumulated inside frame decided it was time to make it's exit. Bought a local car that guy was using for his lawn service, body horrid, engine shot, grass growing in back seat, frame was great.

Around same time I had a '69 Ranchero that had been wrecked & front half from a station wagon grafted on. Work was poor at best, didn fit correctly as Ranchero used 2dr ht chassis from doors forward(different windshield angles). I had a guy look at it that could correctly rebuild wrecks, said it was easily fixable(for him). Told me to supply a donor car & strip everything on both from doors forward, including fenders, hood, drive train etc. Only windshields were still installed. He brought it back in a about a week with the two halves joined. Unless you knew where to look couldn't tell it was two different vehicles. Took me a couple months to reassemble it.

I've swapped enough engines that I can't count 'em on all my toes & fingers. Yep I've repl head gasket on 6cyl Granada. Actually was complete head as orig was cracked in valve seats. Replaced both heads on a V6 Chevy Malibu. Heads off my '69 Fairlane 428 twice for burned valves.

In '13 I totally rebuilt front suspension, steering & converted to disc brakes a '72 Mercury Comet. Also Installed new engine at same time. Burned out after a couple months, when summer broke I finally finished it. Was fresh painted(incl new glass) when I bought it but engine bay, steering etc were stuck solidly in 1972. In '17 installed power steering & rebuilt front suspension on 428 Fairlane & did so again on 302 Fairlane I bought in '19.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Apr Thu 21, 2011 2:00 am
Posts: 5345
Location: Georgia, 30236
Mine was to replace the U joints on my '96 extended cab F-150. I did all of them without a press. It was hard enough getting all the bearing caps out, bit then positioning and driving the new ones into place was maddening. i had to get one extra joint to replace the caps that had the bearings come out of place and get damaged. It was fun trying to get the rear driveline's spline to line up to get it into place. The only good thing about it was having bought a box of heavy duty nitrile gloves, to do the job with. My hands were beat to hell but were clean, clean clean!

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 9:48 pm 
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Posts: 11670
Location: alameda,CA
Mine was in getting my 1955 Mercury back up to snuff after buying it from the original owner. The radiator was rotten, the carb was shot and so too was the water pump, starter motor, shocks, brakes, and worst- the body and parts of the frame. I spent a whole summer cutting out rusted metal, welding in new stuff, sanding, prepping, removing the 500 pounds of assorted chrome trim bits, installing a new carb, having the old radiator rebuilt and so on. Took about a year but I did get it back together and still drive it.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 10:40 pm 
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Joined: Aug Tue 24, 2021 9:18 pm
Posts: 304
19&41 wrote:
Mine was to replace the U joints on my '96 extended cab F-150. I did all of them without a press. It was hard enough getting all the bearing caps out, bit then positioning and driving the new ones into place was maddening. i had to get one extra joint to replace the caps that had the bearings come out of place and get damaged. It was fun trying to get the rear driveline's spline to line up to get it into place. The only good thing about it was having bought a box of heavy duty nitrile gloves, to do the job with. My hands were beat to hell but were clean, clean clean!

I don't find a press to be much of a help when changing U joints, and never use one anymore. Once I got the hang of it, I've found that they usually aren't too hard to change with a hammer, some sockets, a few blocks of wood, and other improvised tools.

The only ones that I had a hell of a time with were the outer joints in the puny little Dana 28 front axle of my Bronco II. Because they were so thin, no matter how I tried to get the new joints in, the yolk around the cap wanted to deform and bend inward, making it impossible to put the retaining clips on. I actually had to pull the joints out and spread the yolks apart further than where they originally were with a porta-power, and then gently try to put the joints in. :roll: It's not a wonder those were known for the front axles breaking there.


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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Fri 17, 2021 11:18 pm 
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Joined: Apr Thu 21, 2011 2:00 am
Posts: 5345
Location: Georgia, 30236
I used my can of orphaned sockets to drive mine out. They only became relatively easy to set after driving a cap through the yokes 2-3 times before putting the good ones in.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Sat 18, 2021 12:01 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 7783
Location: Toledo, Ohio
4 days to replace the rear end in my 1979 Regal by myself.

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 Post subject: Re: Most difficult time consuming auto repair you've done?
PostPosted: Sep Sat 18, 2021 12:06 am 
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Location: Arvada, CO, 80004
Dual exhaust on 1989 Lincoln Town car. It took a month or two for the pipes from the mufflers to the back to fall off. The real pain was trying to get it over the axle. But it was good that it happened. With cherry bombs, it has that V8 roar.

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