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The Ford Capri Laser Page

" New fog lights and spoiler ready for a new Millennium "

News and Pictures

Please bear in mind this article is historical and was written circa year 1999.  This Capri was sold around 2002 when our second white Laser was purchased.

A Kind of Anniversary ?

At the beginning of 1997, my Capri was starting to suffer from the high mileage I was pounding as a result of working at the other end of the Country to where my home is. At the tender age of ten years, she should be thinking of slowing down a little and looking forward to a lengthy retirement ! Instead, I was doing more miles than ever before. So far in 1997 the Capri has done nearly 20,000 miles; all without major problems. However, it seemed that by Spring time, all I was doing was maintenance and repairs to keep her on the road.

During the summer of 1997 my Capri finally went around the clock and for a brief moment the mileometer read zero again. I remember driving down the M6 watching the event getting closer and closer, and then it happened. It was quite a strange feeling as only a few years ago I though that cars that had done such high mileages were completely knackered. Believe me, my Capri drives better and is in better shape when I bought her with less than 45K on the clock!

The 1997 Face Lift

My Laser got a Christmas present of a set of fancy Hella fog lights and a Motorsport front Spoiler. I have never been that impressed with the front end styling, and the previous owner had had a few knocks on the lower panel. It seemed an ideal solution to fit the spoiler. The spoiler was delivered from the Capri Club after quite a wait. I forgot that I would actually have to paint the damn thing! The spoiler was sanded, smoothed, sprayed in plastic primer, and finished off with several coats of diamond white paint. Fitting was a little bit tricky but with the help of my Father in Law, we got it attached without any mishaps. The remaining gaps were filled with silicone sealant and then the fog lights were fitted……..

I actually wanted the fog lights to use in fog unlike most people these days who insist on leaving their fog lights on permanently. I was traveling along the A14 a lot and it gets very foggy in the winter months. The fog lights caused all sorts of mayhem. After wiring them up the wrong way round and consequently melting about six inches of my wiring loom (very scary !) I finally sussed out what I was doing wrong and hey presto they worked. Yet another drain on the alternator !

I think that the modifications have much improved the look of the Capri. You will have to judge for yourself when you see the pictures.

The Inevitable

Other jobs that were required during this year were as follows: rear shock absorbers replaced (easy job), front wheel bearings replaced (total nightmare), replace washer bottle motor (expensive), replace radiator (easy and cheap), clean and restore front brake calipers (long winded but wow what a difference), fitted stainless steel braided brake hoses (less to worry about), replace electric aerial (expensive) and new clutch fitted (too much like hard work for me – got a garage to do it). It seems like a lot of work when I write it all down. I think some of the problems I’ve had this year have been down to storing the car whilst away in the States.

I must write about some of these jobs in my Service guide because I learned a lot from these experiences. The rear shock absorbers were simple to fit but I dropped one of my nuts (sounds painful) down the back of a piece of trim that must be the worst part of the Capri to access. In the end I had to dismantle most of the back end of the car including removing the rear seat belt before I could get my hands on the little bugger. There isn’t a lot of access to the top fitting so it takes ages to tighten using small movements of a spanner.

The big job of the year was the clutch which started to slip quite badly. Not surprising as the car had done 105K on the original Ford clutch. I found that pulling away from junctions, the engine would rev up - but the car was going nowhere ! I decided to let a local garage do the job. As they obviously had to remove the gearbox during the operation, I asked if they could clean it out and replace the fluid. The mechanic told me that the gearbox was very sludgy and horrible. Again not surprising when you think that the fluid is probably the original factory stuff. As Ford didn't seem to worry about putting drain plugs on the gearbox, I didn't worry about changing the fluid. By the way, did you know that it is recommended that the Capri gearbox has automatic transmission fluid (ATF) in it ?

The clutch was replaced without further problems and the total cost including the gearbox flush was approx £120 including VAT (clutch kit cost £56). I didn't think that was too bad. Hopefully it will be another 100K plus before I have to worry about it again!

One of the front wheel bearings had been whining for some time so I decided that it looked reasonably simple to change them (mind you the Haynes manual can make things look deceptively simple). To access the bearings, you have to remove the wheel hub. To remove the wheel hub you have to remove the brake caliper. To remove the break caliper, you have to disconnect the brake hose that means the brakes will need bleeding. The bearings themselves simply fall out of the hub; the fun starts when you try to remove the two shims that the bearings fit in. These have to be fitted as matching pairs and they are a nightmare to get out and almost as bad to replace. At least I learned from my mistakes which meant that the second wheel only took half a day instead of the two days it took to do the first side! Please visit my ‘Jobs I wish I’d left up to the Garage’ page for the gruesome details.

The Dreaded MOT

Like all older cars, my Capri finds it ever more stressful to get through the dreaded MOT. This year she failed the test due to excessive smoking. I knew that the puffs of white smoke were gradually getting worse and worse to the point that every time I started her, she filled the street with a plume of white smoke. I also knew that it looked more serious than it was, and it was the valve stem oil seals that had gone. This is a very common problem with Pinto engines, and it is relatively easy to fix. The job doesn’t require the removal of the cylinder head. At worst the inlet manifold may have to be removed for better access.

The MOT garage did the work and charged me two hours labour – total cost with parts and VAT was £74 which wasn’t too bad. And of course, the car passed the emissions test with flying colours. What a difference it has made to my car. Please don’t suffer in silence like I did. My Capri is much smoother and responsive than before and most importantly, she never ‘pinks’ anymore where prior to the operation she was starting to ‘pink’ a lot. Miss the white smoke a bit though.

For those people who don’t know what I’m talking about, the stem of each valve rises vertically to the top of the engine where it is controlled by the cam shaft, lobes and valve springs. As there is lots of oil at the top of the engine, the stems are fitted with a rubber / metal oil seal that prevents engine oil passing down the sides of the stems and into the cylinder. Over time, the seals harden and fail which is exactly happened to my car. The white cloud of smoke results from the oil resting at the top of the engine working its way down the valve stem during the night and filling the cylinder ready for the morning display !

The Guilty Conscience

After about six months of neglecting the outside of the car, I decided to sort out a few rust spots and problem areas. In the end I got carried away and ended up re-spraying most of the front end that had considerable stone chip damage. Off came the fog lights, bumper, trim, headlights and the whole area was fixed up and painted. The new spoiler was already quite peppered with stone chips; I don’t think I was generous enough with the paint first time round. The front end looks much better now, what with a re-painted front bumper and the headlight surrounds painted white.

I was now on a roll. Next on the list were the wing mirrors that had lost a lot of their paint. It was a pain removing them as the bolts are tricky to get to and of course you have to take the door trim to bits. The bolts on mine required a deep socket (13mm) to get them off. From the day I’ve owned the car, the drivers mirror has had a dent in it, so I took the opportunity to fill the hole before masking and repainting them. Several coats later, and a rub with some thousand grit wet and dry, the mirrors looked as good as new. So far the paint has resisted the stones and grit that get flung up from the road.

The rear boot lid needed a small area re-spraying. This would have been unnecessary if certain people had been more careful with their huge bunches of keys when opening the boot lid ! Not an easy place to re-paint, but I took my time and the end result is very pleasing.

The last job on the agenda for this year was to do some minor restoration of the engine bay. The seams at the tops of the wings were going quite brown with rust and in places the old tin worm had eaten right through. For this job, I used an electric drill with a rotary brush and removed the paint and rust to the bare metal. I was very careful with where I was painting and in fact one of the longest jobs was masking off the front end of the car which took ages but was worth the effort. I also did a similar job on the battery tray area which was suffering the effects of leaking acid attacking the metal work.

I must admit that I thought it would be a disaster trying to re-spray such small sections. However, the end results look really good and it is hard to see the paint joins. The engine bay looks really smart again – although on a working car like mine it is not long before there is more work to be done.

Following this hive of activity, I decided to polish the car up and take some photographs of her in the sunshine. I think that she looks better than ever, and yes she drives as well as she looks ! The secret is lots of TLC. Hope that you agree !

The Photo Gallery

These are the last pictures of D496 YJB I took before she went to a new home in Stoke-on-Trent.

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