Hooniverse Asks: What's the most you've labored on your car?

Welcome to the final lap of your holiday weekend. Today is Labor Day, which is about …hold on *checks Wikipedia* Really? We get a day off for this? Well alright! I know that a number of you plan to be grilling, enjoying a beverage, and just generally relaxing. Some of you though, are already elbow deep in your cars guts.
What’s the most you’ve labored on your ride? What was your most epic wrenching session? For me personally, it was when Tim Odell and I spent a long weekend upgrading and fixing my 1965 Ford F100. That meant pulling the engine, swapping the cam, fixing the valve seals, building an exhaust, and then putting it all back together so I could get the truck on a trailer and then drive it from the Bay Area back down to Orange County, California. It was a long few days, but it was also fun.
So how about you? What’s the most work you’ve done on your car in a single go?

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15 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What's the most you've labored on your car?”

  1. Dina Avatar

    When I was building my 93 Civic coupe, I hand built my engine in my living room, and rebuilt the whole suspension on it in my garage with no heat in the winters of Massachusetts.

  2. anonymic Avatar

    Pulled and replaced the engine in a 199x Civic, doing all seals, timing belt, water pump, cut the flywheel and a new clutch. We did input shaft bearings, and all transmission seals, both axles and we may have also rebuilt the power steering rack at that time. Also resoldered the fuel pump relay. We got at it at 7 Friday night, and it was parked in it’s space in front of the house Sunday night right after dinner.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    The truck is starting to look real good. The exhaust right in front of the rear wheels though…warm wheels make drifting on ice easier? =8^) Power steering is sacrilege though.

  4. Zentropy Avatar

    I’ve done several full restorations, including the engine rebuild, bodywork, and respray– those take weeks to months. In one grind, I’ve probably only done a continuous three-day weekend, given that I had to resume work on Tuesday. Since having kids, the longest is maybe 6 hours straight. My hobby went completely to hell with fatherhood.

  5. Wayward David Avatar
    Wayward David

    Way back when I was in high school – the early 1970s – my best friend and I both had bugeye Sprites from back around 1960 or so, and we bought a third one to serve as a parts car. We pulled many an all-nighter and a couple all-weekenders swapping transmissions or engines, trying to fix electrical problems, and generally doing what we could to keep at least one working well enough to get us to school on Monday. And everything took forever, too, because (a) we didn’t know what we were doing and often had to redo something we just finished cuz it didn’t work and (b) we were in high school and tended to intersperse work with long rambling discussions on the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.
    But my one biggest project was over Christmas break during my junior year of college. I spent most of the break (when I wasn’t at work) dismantling and rebuilding the little aluminum V8 in my 1961 Buick Special. Apparently I learned a lot from blindly wrenching on my Healy years before because after I put that engine back together it started right up and i was able to drive it for another year or so until the rust reached the point where suspension bits started falling off. Sold that motor to my brother who wanted to put it in his dune buggy (but never did).

  6. I_Borgward Avatar

    Over three days, I took two Ford Econolines and swapped drivetrains between them, all outside on a dirt driveway. A 302 V8 and four speed floor shift manual from one into the other, a 300 Six and three-on-the-tree manual from one into the other. As I recall, one had power steering and one didn’t, so those parts were swapped, too. The van that got the V8 became my adventure van, the one with the Six was bought by a friend and became a carpenter’s work truck.
    It was an insane project that I wouldn’t consider again, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. It all worked out in the end, both drove away and saw service for many more years.

  7. Alff Avatar

    I swapped the engine and transmission out of a donor into my Spider. The biggest job wasn’t the swap but dismantling the donor car. It takes 17 Sawzall blades to cut an Alfa into chunks that one guy can load into a pickup.

    1. Lokki Avatar

      It takes 17 Sawzall blades to cut an Alfa into chunks that one guy can load into a pickup.
      If you’re not in a tremendous hurry, I can get an old Alfa Spider into chunks one guy can load in a pickup with two pounds of Morton’s salt.

  8. Ted Odell Avatar
    Ted Odell

    Besides working on the Lemons Uberbird, the Crunchero, and the current Ranchero?
    My senior year of High School, I rear ended a truck with what was to be my ‘65 bug. It was the family car that was going to be my graduation present.
    I spent all summer doing body work; bondo, sanding, and prepping. Every night after work I’d get an hour or so in. Every weekend. The car became progressively primer all summer. I finished it and had a guy spray it the week before I went to college. You could smell the paint baking off as it sat in a UC Davis lot. It sure looked good.

  9. neight428 Avatar

    Rebuilding the front suspension on my ‘94 Z28. I don’t recommend replacing bushings without appropriate tools. In fact, just buy new control arms with new bushings already installed if you need the car on Monday.

  10. JayP Avatar

    Replaced the transaxle on the 944 over the course of several months.
    Rebuilt the suspension on the 2wd Ranger. Front and rear. Using handtools.
    I was sore for a week.

  11. outback_ute Avatar

    I think I’ve blanked it out… Years ago trying to get my Imp ready for an event after it hadn’t been driven for many years, changed brake cylinders, gearbox (take the engine out for this), had the fuel tank out, etc – this included the day of 115°F/46°C when the Black Saturday bushfires were happening, that we didn’t know about at the time.

  12. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    My first expedition into a car was trying to repair snapped studs on my 78 Scirocco’s exhaust manifold. this resulted in a head removal with a trip to the machine shop to deal with the studs, a timing belt replacement and water pump replacement, plus a lesson in firing order. Subsequently I swapped the engine in a Ford Ranger and removed the engine from my 1978 BMW R100S to do a top end rebuild. The BMW got new pistons and rings, new rod bearings, and some machine shop work. 10 years later the piston rings finally broke in. I forgot to mention I also did a clutch swap on the BMW using a propane lantern for light an air impact gun with a carry tank to break loose the clutch cover bolts and a home made disassembly tool consisting of 3 very long M8x1.0 cap screws and some nuts and washers instead of the $150 BMW tool.
    Then this summer I helped my son replace the front cylinder head, various gaskets and the front control arms on his 03 Buick LeSabre. Both of those jobs ate a weekend and the head swap required a run to Walmart at 5:00 pm on Sunday for a new battery.

  13. Luxury Lexus Land-yacht Avatar
    Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    Well, as far as time out-of-commission, I think it’s happening, currently.
    Three weeks ago, I put new struts in the rear of my LS 460 L because the OEM ones, with about 122K miles on ’em, lacked damping ability.
    This car is on air springs. I loves me some air-ride, but boy, it can be a nightmare.
    Arnott is a company in Florida which makes replacement struts/springs/dampers for complicated suspensions. My LS qualifies, and they’d just announced a new item a week before I ordered mine on July 4. Brand-new, not rebuilt, rear struts for my car. Price? Half of OEM…maybe a touch less than half.
    I’m All. Over. That.
    Well, there was a delay in manufacture, no biggie. Cranked the suspension up to maximum firm, which, while not exactly pleasant, is still more comfortable than our third car, a 1998 ZJ 5.9L.
    Love that truck, and what it can do, but dayum, it’s loud and not at all cushy.
    Get the struts, woo-freakin’-hoo! Step 1, remove rear seat cushions, both of them. Now the parcel shelf. Figure out how to get new struts, which are pressurized, into position. This mess takes three fricken’ days. There’s an explanation for the excessive time, later.
    Got it all back together (with only one mistake, I had the damper adjuster mounted backward on the LR, figured it out after a couple of days, though), but I left the rear seat in the front hallway of the house, just in case.
    Two days of commuting, it’s solid, rear seat is re-installed.
    The next day, sure enough, LR strut is flat. I played with the line for a day, thought it might be a sensor, but eventually hit the air bladder with soapy water and whadda know…bubbles.
    I park it because the compressor is a grand.
    Called up the supplier, they say, “send us video”. Sigh…look, guys, it’s hosed…about a three inch long section. Fine. I take video.
    They send me return instructions/postage (thankfully I saved the original boxes), and I send it off the next day.
    That was about 10 days ago. They received the leaky new strut, yesterday (holiday delay), and it’ll be today or tomorrow until they can get a new one out. Didn’t hear from them, today, so I have to figure it’ll be tomorrow. I won’t see it until probably Monday.
    So…Silvia, the LS 460, is on jackstands in the garage, has been for three weeks, save for about three days of use.
    I work F-Sa-Su-M, so I won’t be able to touch it until Tuesday.
    Sure, I could have put the old strut back in, but that’s not only quite a bit of work, it’s borderline worthless, and I don’t want to cause any extra damage to whatever.
    With any luck, I’ll have the entire thing done within a month.
    On the upside, had I gone to the dealer, which was the only place to get this part…parts and labor was going to kick me in the wallet to the tune of $5K.
    Nope, nope, nope.
    I’m a bit crippled…beware of the really fun hobbies, they’re the ones which can kill ya if you do ’em incorrectly…so I don’t have the strength nor stamina to be in the 110F garage for 8 hours, straight. I have to take breaks every couple of hours for a solid 45 minutes. This adds both time and aggravation.
    Regardless, it’s not like I have an income which allows me to send this car to someone to fix it, at least not the stuff I know I can still do, difficult though it may be. Even if I did, I still would rather do it myself and save $3,700.
    Next project on it is front-end bushes…for joy. Oh, and stripping the wheels, having some rash fixed, then polishing them.

  14. salguod Avatar

    I’ve done a number of moderately large jobs, but no engine swaps or rebuilds.
    I’ve changed several timing belts or chains, a couple of clutches, rebuilt the suspension on my Thunderbird and brought back several wrecked cars from the dead. In high school I turned my very rusty 1976 Camaro into a shiny but bondo filled gem. Took me about a year and I saw it in a junkyard a few years later.