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    Thread: My Fiat 126 bis: let me show you it.

    1. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 04:53 PM #1
      Hello,

      as I have been somewhat busy getting the thing back on the road since my roadtrip with it (see here) I thought I could keep you somewhat opdated about the things I did and still have to do to the car. After all you don't see too many of these in the 'lounge.

      So, let's start:

      The car was "given to me" back in 2000; it belonged to my sister's husband. It started to give him headaches a couple of years before and as he needed reliable car he bought a Lupo and put this one in his backyard. This all happened in Italy.

      In 2007, while I was ther eon vacation I decided it was time to start looking after it. I found out that the engine was locked and that the interior was half gone (mostly the headliner and the seats), but I also found out that the body had no apparent (and hidden) rust. So I had a good restoration base.

      I took the engine off the car and realized it was badly seized, water having corroded the cylinder liners and the pistons seemed glued to them.



      This is the head:



      And the block:



      I took the whole mess with me to Luxembourg (where I lived back then) where I got the head redone, steel valve seats were also put in in order to use unleaded fuel without too much headaches.

      Early in 2008 I had the time to go back to Italy where I took care of the brakes (new brake cylinders on all 4 wheels) and most importantly I installed the engine. During that summer new tyres, new clutch, gearbox oil and seals were changed. Then, late in 2008 I had the chance to go back to Italy for a couple of days so I got an insurance and some plates and did the trip described in the link above.

      After the trip the engine was definitely done. The head surely is still useable, but the rockers and the block were in a bad shape even before I made the trip so I started looking for parts like pistons, rings, bearings etc. But these are hard to come by, it seems. So... I bought a brand-spanking new engine. Yes, such things exist! It seems to be made in Italy so maybe it is better than the original one. We'll see.





      A new carburetor for the "beast":



      The new engine in the engine bay (yes, that is a blue SAMCO hose... ):



      Then, I wanted to register the car in Luxembourg. This didn't work, as I don't have the italian document with the car's technical data. Now, this shouldn't be too difficult to find (they have an archive after all) but there's no way I could have changed that thing. So plan B was activated: to register the car in germany. This means the car gets checked from top to bottom and a new technical data sheet gets made. This means also it must be in perfect working order, so the dampers and the belts and the seats (they didn't stay locked down anymore) must be perfect... No money meant this would take some time to be finished.

      Dampers: Little problem as the rears on the "bis" (the watercooled one) has an "eye" and all the others (aircooled 126 and 500) have a threaded thingy coming out on the top and on the bottom. This meant I needed new rear trailing arms. I then ordered adjustable Koni Classics

      On the front there wa sno such problem, but the steering knuckles had huge play, so a pair of refurbished ones was ordered. New upper control arms with new bushings were also installed.

      The interior got a new, one-piece black carpet and the seats received new upholstery (quite easy to do, actually!)









      I also repaired the small triangular window frames (rotted to death...) as well as the odometer. A new speedo cable was installed also because there's a stupid rubber grommet that seals the interior from the front luggage compartment and you can't change that if you don't change the cable too. New door seals were also installed and I sourced some good door cards (not shown) as well as two rear panels in black (you can see them above).

      Now, the last time I had time to fiddle with it I realized it would only run on 1 cylinder (yeah+!) so I started looking up what this could be. It turns out I forgot to check valve play before installing the new engine. So this last weekend I had some spare time and I not only adjusted valve play but I also retorqued the head nuts (mandatory!). What an headache... but now the car starts quicker than my brick.





      And the ride is definitely far less clunky than it was before. If I think about that long trip and the general condition of the car I do get scared sometimes... but god was it fun!

      A radio will be installed, a rear window with functioning heating will be installed as well and then I think it should be ready for this "mean, mean" Tüv.

      future plans:

      -install left-side mirror (still don't know how I will manage to fix that one...)

      -REGISTER IT ASAP.

      -rebuild and tune the broken engine... a bit more displacement, more compression, a cam, maybe a nice double barrel Weber and lighter pistons and rods and a lightened flywheel as well should push the 27hp to something near 35-40hp. I would be satisfied.

      -full body overhaul incl. new paint, but that one can wait.

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      04-29-2011 04:58 PM #2


      I have a coworker that has an orange 125 that he was always working on. Those are neat little cars. We always joked about getting 4 guys together to pick up the car and turn it 90* in his parking spot.
      Lately I have been testing "tip-in events". Just the tip-in. Just to see how it feels. Response time is typically on the order of 2-3 seconds. Sometimes the injection timing is a little off...

    3. Member konigwheels's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 05:09 PM #3
      This is very tongue in cheek, but.... put a Busa motor in it.

    4. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 05:10 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by konigwheels View Post
      This is very tongue in cheek, but.... put a Busa motor in it.
      Believe me, I want to... heck, even an old used Boxer BMW engine would fit perfectly. The problem is the registration; it is just not possible sadly.

    5. Member freedomgli's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 05:12 PM #5
      That's a sweet little car for cruising around town. I really dig the red interior and the new motor. Keep up the good work!

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      04-29-2011 05:22 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Lupo TDI View Post

      Seeping head gasket? Or did you have to disconnect something in the cooling system to get the valve cover off? I see some coolant dripping there...


      Cool car, though!

    7. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 05:28 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Mooosman View Post
      Seeping head gasket? Or did you have to disconnect something in the cooling system to get the valve cover off? I see some coolant dripping there...


      Cool car, though!
      Good eye. That's because I loosened the head nuts before retorqueing them... apparently you're supposed to do that after the engine has warmed really well after a head-gasket change

      Thanks


    8. Member 2ptslo's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 09:11 PM #9
      Oh man, I love this car. We used to have a few when we lived in Poland. My step-dad used to race a yellow one and had an additional white one just like yours tuned up with a sport cam and suspension and some internal work pushing what you are looking for about 40hp. It was a blast to drive. Really good job with fixing it up. I'm looking forward to more progress pictures.

    9. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      04-29-2011 09:59 PM #10
      I love this thing!
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    10. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      04-30-2011 02:03 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by 2ptslo View Post
      Oh man, I love this car. We used to have a few when we lived in Poland. My step-dad used to race a yellow one and had an additional white one just like yours tuned up with a sport cam and suspension and some internal work pushing what you are looking for about 40hp. It was a blast to drive. Really good job with fixing it up. I'm looking forward to more progress pictures.
      This is good to hear he got also 40hp out of it, because I'd love to make the car more powerful (haha). It's not really slow in city traffic as it is right now, but on cross crountry rides it can be a bit dangerous...

    11. Member Deltac's Avatar
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      04-30-2011 04:31 PM #12
      Awesome, nice to see a 126 brought back from the grave (or morgue)

      So where are you living now? Since you mentioned issues with engine swaps and registration?

      Did you think about an old abarth 500 engine swap or at least components? Is there any similarity between the two engines?
      "Non è baciare il muro che mi preoccupa. E' farci l'amore che mi spaventa un pò" M. Alboreto

      O|||||||O

    12. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      04-30-2011 06:38 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Deltac View Post
      Awesome, nice to see a 126 brought back from the grave (or morgue)

      So where are you living now? Since you mentioned issues with engine swaps and registration?

      Did you think about an old abarth 500 engine swap or at least components? Is there any similarity between the two engines?
      Grazie! Right now I'm living in Germany. The problem here is that the Tüv wants a certificate that states the exhaust fumes of the car with a bike engine are at least as good than they were with the original engine. While I think it should be no problem achieving clean exhaust gasses I don't want to pay for this certificate as it would cost most definitely in the five figures. What I can do is install an engine that was already used in the car, but that's worth nothing with the bis as the bis was only available with this 0.7 liter engine... Were it an air-cooled one I could do whatever you want like going from 0.5 to 0.65 or more, as they existed from the factory back then.

      Technically speaking, the water-cooled twin in the bis is based on the air-cooled twin found in the 500 Giardiniera, in fact both cars had their engines lying on the side and not standing like the normal 500 and 126. This allowed my car to have a small boot under the front bonnet and a slightly bigger boot over the engine at the rear. And with folding-down rear seats cargo space gets even bigger But neither for mine nor for the giardiniera there are specific tuning kits. What one could do is use the camshaft from a normal air-cooled engine and adapt a bigger carburator.

    13. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-07-2011 03:29 PM #14
      Update: Came back to Luxembourg yesterday evening and of course I had to fire it up. And as I hoped, after 2 tries it ran, and quite fine too. Now, as I tried to fire it up 9 hours later, nothing happened... So I spent the whole day trying to figure out what is wrong with it...

      The timing is set, I have sparks, the battery is no problem and there's fuel. What is not working now?? Grr......

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      05-07-2011 04:10 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by Lupo TDI View Post
      Good eye. That's because I loosened the head nuts before retorqueing them... apparently you're supposed to do that after the engine has warmed really well after a head-gasket change

      Thanks
      Stretch bolts. Had a similar experience when I replaced the headgasket on my 1.6 TD jetta. After 1k km, retorque the headbolts. Two of them (out of ten) I was able to spin 1/2 a turn before achieving the correct torque figure It fixed a small oil leak that was on the corner of the HG. They aren't re-usable either.

      Cool little car BTW. How much does it weight?
      Quote Originally Posted by SAV912 View Post
      Going to church is bland. Eating vanilla ice cream is bland. Dating somebody from your local Ayn Rand book club is bland. This car makes all of those things seem as exciting as doing 12 lines of cocaine. With Katie Perry. While she's on fire...in Times Square. And you're naked.

    15. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-07-2011 04:38 PM #16
      Yep, I think that's what they are called. It seems to not leak now... but I can't check that now as it doesn't run

      It weights 620kg more or less, quite light so if I ever manage to get 30-40ish hp out of it it should be fun!

      Btw: Your nickname represents my feelings towards the box quite well...!

    16. Member Burnitwithfire's Avatar
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      05-07-2011 04:52 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by Lupo TDI View Post
      Yep, I think that's what they are called. It seems to not leak now... but I can't check that now as it doesn't run

      It weights 620kg more or less, quite light so if I ever manage to get 30-40ish hp out of it it should be fun!

      Btw: Your nickname represents my feelings towards the box quite well...!
      Just a tad more than half the weight of my Accent Should be fun to toss around!

      My last car was a B3 Passat syncro with a bad 1.8t swap... it explains the nickname quite well
      Quote Originally Posted by SAV912 View Post
      Going to church is bland. Eating vanilla ice cream is bland. Dating somebody from your local Ayn Rand book club is bland. This car makes all of those things seem as exciting as doing 12 lines of cocaine. With Katie Perry. While she's on fire...in Times Square. And you're naked.

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      05-07-2011 05:03 PM #18
      Thats cool looking!
      Vamped Tuning! Scrappy Dubs!

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      05-07-2011 05:56 PM #19
      Thats awesome!
      Id love to have one someday.

    19. Senior Member Wimbledon's Avatar
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      05-08-2011 02:20 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by freedomgli View Post
      That's a sweet little car for cruising around town. I really dig the red interior and the new motor. Keep up the good work!
      x2!
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      05-08-2011 05:39 AM #21
      http://www.new4stroke.com/

      You should be able to use oversize pistons and stroker kits for the 650 air-cooled engine. I remember one build using Ferrari connecting rods!

      Does the TuV open up the engine and measure everything?

      Also, tiny turbo.
      Quote Originally Posted by freedo84gti
      100% insane

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      05-08-2011 06:30 AM #22
      That's bloody brilliant. Thumbs up from me.

    22. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-08-2011 06:40 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by Oval Baja View Post
      http://www.new4stroke.com/

      You should be able to use oversize pistons and stroker kits for the 650 air-cooled engine. I remember one build using Ferrari connecting rods!

      Does the TuV open up the engine and measure everything?

      Also, tiny turbo.
      Yeah, a Feliks engine =)

      The Tüv doesn't go as far as opening the engine, but if they suspect something they may strap your car on a rolling road and see what happens... And a motorcycle engine would most definitely be suspicious

      That's a possibility: Smart Car drivetrain. They even share the capacity more or less

    23. 05-08-2011 09:53 AM #24
      Oh, yes, Fiat 126
      Long ago, in my garage lab 126.6.




      Regards Andrew

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      05-08-2011 10:57 AM #25
      Im from Poland so spent my first 13 years in this car...we had 2

    25. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-08-2011 05:53 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by feliks View Post
      Oh, yes, Fiat 126
      Long ago, in my garage lab 126.6.




      Regards Andrew

      What were you trying to do to the engine? I spot an electrical fuel pump, right?

      You and vdubchaos:

      Why does my car not want to start?? Any hints/tips/ideas?

    26. 05-08-2011 08:00 PM #27
      Way cool
      club Grim Water
      "When there's no more room in Hell"

    27. 05-09-2011 01:27 PM #28
      Awesome car!

      Anyone have an idea of how I would be able to import one to the United States?

      My Family in Poland has one that my uncle drove, but he passed away and the car just sits in the barn now. Its a 1988, Bought brand new and maintained perfectly. I told my Aunt I'd pay for the car because I really want to keep it in the family. I just do not really know where to start if I want to bring it over.
      I know it still has 2 more years to qualify for the 25 year import rule, but would there be any other things to know?
      I know, I know, this would probably be a waste of money to bring it over, but the sentimental value is far greater to me.

    28. Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      05-09-2011 02:34 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Lupo TDI View Post
      It weights 620kg more or less, quite light so if I ever manage to get 30-40ish hp out of it it should be fun!
      If you squeeze 40 hp out of that, it should be a blast to toss around. What we here in the States call a 40 horse VW engine, is 34 DIN hp. They're a little slow, but if you dropped 300 lbs off of it (where your car is right now) it would get around pretty well, indeed! Add another 6 hp and you'd have a very entertaining little car.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    29. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-09-2011 05:44 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by Air and water do mix View Post
      If you squeeze 40 hp out of that, it should be a blast to toss around. What we here in the States call a 40 horse VW engine, is 34 DIN hp. They're a little slow, but if you dropped 300 lbs off of it (where your car is right now) it would get around pretty well, indeed! Add another 6 hp and you'd have a very entertaining little car.
      Yeah, most definitely :-)

      This is my inspiration:



      It belongs to my neighbour's brother, I had once a ride in it and well... I am already grinning Fun, fun fun is all I can say.

      A beetle is still something I'd love to own, but who knows, maybe I'll stick to classic two cylinder Fiats

    30. Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      05-11-2011 02:20 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by Lupo TDI View Post
      This is my inspiration:



      It belongs to my neighbour's brother, I had once a ride in it and well... I am already grinning Fun, fun fun is all I can say.

      A beetle is still something I'd love to own, but who knows, maybe I'll stick to classic two cylinder Fiats
      That's a pretty cool car, too. I, like you, love lightweight simple cars that are fun to work on and sometimes modify. There's nothing like them!
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    31. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-13-2011 10:32 AM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by Air and water do mix View Post
      That's a pretty cool car, too. I, like you, love lightweight simple cars that are fun to work on and sometimes modify. There's nothing like them!
      Yep, good plain and simple cars!

      And on that note: Just got it going again! Turns out the spark plugs were black and thus not giving spark anymore. I cleaned them and now the car runs like a charm, well, at least for a parallel-twin engined car! I just have to understand why the sparks got so black in the first place. The carburetor has not yet been adjusted so I uess that plays a big part in the equation. My guess is: too rich. Am I right?

    32. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-15-2011 04:23 PM #33
      So yesterday evening at 22PM my GF and I we tightened all the screws and bolts belonging to suspension arms etc. down to the correct torque figures. After that a test drive was of course needed, in an unregistered car... We drove off, we wanted to get some gas, as the fuel tank was almost empty after all the trials done previously. So, 400 metres later (that is roughly 1300 feet for you) we get to the station, fill up the "cookie box" with a whoppping 15 liters (4 gallons), then proceed to fill up a jerry can. It was there that I noticed that petrol was spilling out of my car... great.

      I proceed to pay then we drive off. In the rear view mirror I see that the spill stopped. "Good thing" I think to myself while making a right turn. And there I clearly see it on the road: It spills again... The following happened: The hose for the air circulation came off at the tank and the tank and filler neck being on the left side of the car, every time I made a right turn petrol came out I think one of these on each door is appropiate:

      So this morning we took off the tank and fixed that too with a new hose clamp. Let's hope this was the last problem it had. I want to get it to the Tüv by june. And today, after everything with the tank was fixed again a new test drive was made: --> It's so loud, so slow, so fast in reactions, so everything so different than the other cars that it just puts a smile on your face!
      Last edited by Lupo TDI; 05-15-2011 at 04:43 PM.

    33. Member Lupo TDI's Avatar
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      05-27-2011 03:04 PM #34
      Today I bought a Gunson Colortune "transparent" spark plug. If you're not familiar with them: they have a transparent collar around the center ceramic shaft so you can see the color of the combustion. Depending on the color your engine is running either too rich or too lean or more or less correctly. II had the choice to buy this one, buy a CO gas tester for 4 times the price or get a tow truck to collect the car and bring it to a shop and back. The plug was definitively cheaper. Next week when I'll be in Luxembourg I'll be able to try it out.

      Here's what you get:



      The black tube can be used if the environment is too bright; there's a mirror on one end so you can see what happens in your motor. There's an extension as well otherwise you'd hide the spark plug with the rubber thingy on your spark cable.



      In this sequence you can see the transparency of the plug:









      In the meantime I contacted Fiat Deutschland and asked them for a "birth certificate" for my car and they replied they're looking for it, yay!!! My g/f already asked me why I'm smiling like an idiot I must admit I didn't think it would be that easy to get one, but that's a great service. I haven't been able to get one through Fiat Luxembourg/Belgium, nor was I able to get the technical data sheet, or a copy of, from the luxembourger motoring departement.

      Tomorrow I will pick up a water cooler from another fiat-126-forum-user as mine is leaking. I will install it and will try to get mine fixed in order to have a spare.

      Next week I will also try to install the floor carpet properly and the remaining trim pieces and then it should be ready to go.

    34. Member Omnilith's Avatar
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      05-27-2011 03:13 PM #35
      Keep at it.

      What an awesome little car.

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