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Project Rolla 2.0, WOF Prep and Sounds

With WOF day looming, I had a few more things to get ready, starting with a wheel alignment.

Typical Corolla alignment. Camber is out on one side, but everything else is in spec, much like when I had the Liftback aligned. I might need to look at some camber bolts for the front. The car drives straight and tracks well, although I have now gained some guard rub in the RH Rear when cornering hard. I will need to find out what’s touching and give it some smacks, but I suspect it’s just a bit of the guard lip that’s been tweaked in the past.

After the alignment I wanted to have a look at the timing. When I refitted the distributor after replacing the seal I noticed the adjustment was hard on the counter-clockwise stop, but didn’t really think much of it at the time. It wasn’t until a friend with another 20V Carib mentioned his was also run on 91 fuel and had the timing retarded just so it wouldn’t knock its head off that it started to click that maybe that’s what has happened to mine and why it feels to flat to drive.

Checking the timing marks on the crank is a nightmare on these. Even removing the washer bottle and cleaning the timing cover didn’t help. I can just make out the 10deg mark stamped on the timing cover, but I can’t see the notch on the edge of the pulley. I’ll need to mark it all with paint when I have access next. In the meantime, I just haphazardly wound the distributor back and advanced the timing.

Unfortunately the combo of old 91 fuel in the tank mixed with new 98, and probably a lot of carbon in the engine meant that it was knocking like crazy under load on the test drive. A quick stop back at home to retard the timing just a little bit, and I had it just on the limits of knocking with this fuel. Once I’ve been through a tank I should be able to add some more timing back in again, especially if I can check it against the timing marks.

Whilst there I also changed the distributor cap and rotor. I was going to change the leads too, but the leads I bought (advertised for the 20v blacktop) were wrong, so I’ll need to find another source.

The old cap and rotor were well used. The rotor has cracking in the plastic near the tip, and the cap is all crusty on the posts.

Extra timing, like in my friends Carib, has really livened the car up. It actually wants to rev now, whereas before it just felt flat and like revving was asking too much from it.

I took it for the first real drive since I got it, around some fast back roads, and it’s a lot of fun to just REVVVVV. The liftback was far more punchy down low but the 7A was asking for a gear change at the same point the 20V is just getting warmed up. The more I drive it, the better it seems to be getting.

This evening I replaced the two bulbs that the car had previously failed the WOF on (rear number plate lamp and front park light), and refit the fog lights.

No more zip ties holding the light in!

Since I was on a bit of a roll, and I had some spare time, I worked on replacing the barely functional headunit.

It’s a Fusion unit with all the bells and whistles, but it never really worked all that well. FM never got reception, and the sound quality was rubbish. It was also jammed in the dash surround and didn’t really fit well

Removing the dash surrounds was easy, since all the screws are missing and it’s just held in with clips and hopes and dreams. The top surround the radio is housed in should have at least two screws under the edge below the radio and one on the far RH side under the mirror switch. This is one big panel that goes over the cluster. The surround below the radio with the climate control is just held in with clips.

I didn’t know what to expect behind the radio, but with the state of the rest of the car, I figured it couldn’t be good. I wasn’t let down

Chocolate blocks. Oh no. But wait, what is that?

A band expander? On an NZ radio? No wonder FM doesn’t work well.

With some further digging, I found this

Yes, that’s a huge bundle of wires leading to the two intact OEM plugs with proper harness adaptors. Yay!

I suspect it had a flashy JDM radio in it when it came to NZ, and the dealer fit a band expander to get the FM radio working on it since the radio frequencies in Japan are different to NZ. The band expander shifts the frequencies so that JDM radios can pick them up.

Obviously the previous owner wanted more features so scrapped the JDM radio, cut the plugs off at the radio end and used the chocolate block to join it to the Fusion harness, whilst plugging the band expander in as it was on the old radio. I mean, it kinda worked. Kinda.

The headunit wasn’t secured properly either, they had used the wrong holes in the side of the headunit so the brackets didn’t fit and it flopped around all over the place.

I moved the brackets to the headunit out of the Liftback, plugged it in and away it went

This is what was pulled out and is now redundant

It fits in the dash well enough, certainly better than the Fusion did

It was already an improvement in sound quality, but something was still lacking…. sound from the front RH speaker. Nothing.

I removed the door card (which was easy since half the clips are missing) and found this. I knew it had aftermarket JVC speakers in the front doors since I spotted them through the grilles the other day, but didn’t know they were held in with wood screws

Sure enough, the speaker was dead. I noticed when I removed the screw and moved the speaker it would cut in and out. Yay, intermittent connection. No surprise there…

Argh, no. Twist and tape. A pair of cheap crimpers and some terminals would have sorted this properly

I was going to crimp terminals on but someone had mangled the small terminal on the speaker, so I chose to solder the wires to the terminals instead. I figure I’ll need to do the speaker on the Lh side soon, since that will be twisted and taped too.

I have proper mounting rings that I believe should fit this car, but the speakers are OK as they are for now. I have some nicer Sony ones on the way, so might fit the mounts if I swap to those down the track.

The difference in sound is like night and day now. Much more bass, it’s clearer and fading to the front works now, whereas previously it just went quiet. It could do with new rear speakers as they are starting to distort a bit, but that will come down the track.

The last couple of things to do was to fit the rear cargo blind that had been sitting in my lounge for a while

And the center console arm rest. This is from the RV spec model, and has twin cup holders in the lid

I’ll probably never use it since there is a twin cup holder in the dash, but its cool to have.

There is still some more work to be done, but nothing for the upcoming WOF check. I have completed the old checklist, and everything else is basically new, so hopefully, it’ll go through easily.

If the weather is good I’m planning on heading to Pick A Part tomorrow and will be grabbing some screws to secure the dash trim, but also a clock spring so I can change to the three spoke steering wheel as the airbag connector is different.

On a slightly bittersweet note, the Liftback is gone. I’ll miss that car, but needs must. I’m finally back down to three cars, which is a happy number for being able to store all of them. Once the Carib has a WOF we will have two useable cars and then I can push forward on the Marina.

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