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VABrat

85 Brat Restoration Project

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Need to make a hard decision, and would like some advice. I am the original owner of a 1985 Brat, which I drove daily for years. Developed a hole in the y pipe about 3 years ago, so I couldn't get tags renewed. So my baby has been sitting in the driveway, wasting away. Had some time last weekend--so I charged the battery, fired the Brat up, and it still sounds great. Need to get the inspection current, and thru emissions and then decide whether or not to begin a full restoration. Couple of questions:

 

1. The Brat has rust in the usual places--rear wheel wells, rockers, lower doors. What should I look for on the frame and undercarridge to decide wheter the rust has gone too far?

 

2. Brakes have lost hydraulic pressure. Replaced Master Cylinder with no result, so I'm guessing the wheel cylinder(s) have dry rotted, or maybe the caliper pistons. Any tips on troubleshooting?

 

3. Have found an aftermarket y pipe replacement online, but I know a shop that does their own bending. Will I an need impact wrench to do it myself?

 

Thanks for any help,

 

VABrat

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Impact tools arent necessary, but can be helpful sometimes.

I would say for exhaust replacement, a good pentrant such as PB Blaster will be your biggest help.

 

As long as there arent quarter sized holes in your main subframe, I would say go for the restoration!

 

....and post pics:grin:

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I Say: Go for Restoration Too!!! :headbang:

 

...

 

2. Brakes have lost hydraulic pressure. Replaced Master Cylinder with no result, so I'm guessing the wheel cylinder(s) have dry rotted, or maybe the caliper pistons. Any tips on troubleshooting?

 

...

 

Can`t it be the Booster`s Vacuum too?

Good Luck! :burnout:

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id say to restore it, its a shame to see brats get junked or just tossed. if you decide to et rid of it though, i wold gladly take it as a donation, :lol: .

 

i guess i am a bit mental for those cars. always wanted one, could never get one that was worth anything though :(

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Go for restotification.

 

Basically.. Start the restoration process, but while you are at it modify parts for better performance.

 

Like upgrade you rear drums to EA82 discs. If you can find XT6 parts, get a set for 5 lug hubs.

 

EJ SWAP would get you more power but also increase the complexity of the project.

 

5spd tranny swap would be nice, but it would also take a bit of work.

 

Have fun.

 

BW

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VAB:

 

and then decide whether or not to begin a full restoration. Couple of questions:

 

When you say "restoration", what exactly does this mean to you? "Restoration", and "reconditioning" are not the same thing. I'm assuming you mean this literally, and my answers are based on approaching this as a true restoration project.

 

1. The Brat has rust in the usual places--rear wheel wells, rockers, lower doors. What should I look for on the frame and undercarridge to decide wheter the rust has gone too far?

 

Regardless of what kind of project you are doing, I recommend you pull up the carpeting, interior panels, and the inner access panels in the bed. You can't really assess the extent of corrosion without doing this. If you then decide to attack the rust, I would finish stripping out the interior, and remove the doors and fenders, so that you can do a thorough job.

A body restoration would require welding metal patches on the unibody, and replacing any bolt-on panels that are beyond repair.

 

2. Brakes have lost hydraulic pressure. Replaced Master Cylinder with no result, so I'm guessing the wheel cylinder(s) have dry rotted, or maybe the caliper pistons. Any tips on troubleshooting?

 

There are likely multiple problems, so a complete overhaul isn't unreasonable. I would especially pay attention to brake lines, and get replacements if at all possible. The discs/drums/pads/shoes are a given. Wheel cylinders and calipers wouldn't be a waste of $$ IMO. This is a safety issue.

 

3. Have found an aftermarket y pipe replacement online, but I know a shop that does their own bending. Will I an need impact wrench to do it myself?

 

It doesn't sound like you have much choice if your state requires e-checks. If you plan to show the car (not drive it regularly) you might be able to get by with historical plates, and those may not require the e-check.

I wouldn't buy any pipe-bending equipment yourself. Most commercial muffler shops are worthless for what you want to do. Find a shop that specializes in hot-rod and custom exhaust systems.

 

Thanks for any help,

 

VABrat

 

good luck, John

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Thanks for all the advice, excluding the vacuum booster quip. Treat all newbies like that? In Virginia, I can get Historic Plates at 25 years, which excludes me from emissions test--but that's a couple years away. My goal this summer is to get the Brat safe for the road, inspected, and start to treat the rust problem. OR--sell my love--not donate it.

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What part of VA are you in. I have got some parts from an 86 that was killed by our winters and previous owner's neglect.

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My goal this summer is to get the Brat safe for the road, inspected, and start to treat the rust problem. OR--sell my love--not donate it.

 

This isn't a bad idea at all, and will leave open the possibility of a full resto down the road. I would suggest though that you get the rust contained ASAP, even if you can't do the body work right away.

But first things first. I would assess the structural integrity before dropping another dime on this car. If it is "too far gone" you need to know this up front.

The idea of keeping a car like this intact is not always clear cut. I personally believe that Brats will be collectable someday, while others laugh at that idea. I think it's safe to say that the number of Brats has dwindled considerably in the past 10 years, while the interest in them has remained strong. You can do your own math.

Doing some mods (brake upgrade for example) will make the car safer, but may "ruin" the car in the eyes of a true collector. Whatever you do, try to keep all the original parts (in boxes, if necessary) so that it can be restored in the future.

good luck, John

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Alleyboy and 86Bratman,

 

I really aappreciate your advice. Rust is not nearly as bad as the pics you posted--I had the Brat treated by a Quaker State Rust Protection Dealer when it was new--carried a lifetime warranty--but after looking at the fine print--saw that I needed to get a booster treatment every 3 years.

 

John,

 

I agree with you completely. My Brat has been sitting idle in my driveway for almost 3 years. No "For Sale" sign--but I have at least 6 unsolicited offers to buy my Brat every year. This car is collectable--and judging from the Brats for sale nationwide--restored cars are selling for 5-9 thousand dollars.

Investment possiblities are nice, but the bottom line is, "I really love this car." I love the lines, I love the simplicity, I love the performance and economy.

 

86 Bratman,

 

I'm in Round Hill--not too far from Tazewell--if you know of any boneyards that have fenders, parts, etc.--would love to hook up with you and compare notes.

 

Thanks guys,

 

Chris

VABrat

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Oh and rust like seen here are a sure sign that its not worth the time...

 

http://www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/showpost.php?p=609036&postcount=40

 

Yeah BM, I would say that one ain't lookin too healthy...a good example cause the outer body rust is not representative of the "big picture". That uni is pretty well hosed. Can't think of any scenerio that would justify a "restoration".

That being said, you could patch together a rolling chassis that would get you a few kicks before the uni folds like an accordian. It's just a matter of knowing what you got, and not going overboard on a lost cause.

Hopefully, VA's Brat has little more upside...

John

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I'm not sure where Round Hill is exactly, what is it near? I do know of a good junk yard near Lebanon, VA that has some old gen stuff in it. I've also got a bunch of stuff here from various cars you might be able to use. If you want just send me a pm whenever you come across something you need or want for it. I'll see what I can do.

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Rust is not nearly as bad as the pics you posted--I had the Brat treated by a Quaker State Rust Protection Dealer when it was new

 

Good deal. Those aftermarket treatments are "hit-or-miss", but it sounds like it was effective in slowing down the corrosion a bit. I would try to keep it out of the salt until you neutralize the rust that is present.

If you just enjoy your car, don't worry about market value or what car snobs think of it. I have a 67 Mustang that I am trying to "restore". This car is original down to the licence plate frame, and dealership key chain. But this has been both a blessing, and a curse. Let me tell you, Mustang guys are some of the most serious fanatics you'll ever meet!! On a true resto, every nut and bolt has to be original - else the car is "ruined". You end up scrutinizing every last detail. As a result, the Stang has sat for long periods of time, and I haven't enjoyed it a whole lot.

The point I'm trying to make is that you can take a "restoration" project to extremes, if you aren't careful. If you like driving your car, let that guide your decisions. Else you might end up with something you can only drive in July 4th parades.

 

good luck, John

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The smartest way to start a restoration would be to buy a rust free west coast BRAT, like my original low mileage 84 Turbo BRAT. :banana:

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The smartest way to start a restoration would be to buy a rust free west coast BRAT, like my original low mileage 84 Turbo BRAT. :banana:

 

 

:horse:yeah, we know...west coast rules, everyone else drools...

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stupid wrong coast getting all the good brats.

 

Not all of them. I know a guy with a absolutely perfect maroon 86 w/59k on it about an 45 minutes from my house.

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yeah, but i bet its not for sale and if it is, for way more than is reasonable :(

 

Not all of them. I know a guy with a absolutely perfect maroon 86 w/59k on it about an 45 minutes from my house.

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All BRATs were equal leaving the production line. It's not our fault that your government applies sodium chloride to your frozen precipitation. :grin:

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