BOXSTER GETS TYRES AND BRAKES
After a period of wilful neglect, Dep Ed Brett’s Boxster is getting the mechanical love that it deserves. First up it’s the safety items like tyres and brakes, the latter not helped by a seized brake pipe fixing on the caliper
Last month’s major service at PIE Performance revealed the extent of my neglect of the poor old Boxster. Lots of weeping seals and corroded parts and clonky suspension components. Most of it was stuff of little immediate concern: the front discs and tyres, well, they were a different matter. They were marked up as requiring ‘immediate attention’. Can’t argue with a directive that explicit.
So for once I didn’t. But which to attend to first? Probably the tyres, as they were more likely to upset my relationship with the local constabulary. So new brake discs it is, then…
Actually it was mere chance that was the way it panned out. I’d asked 911&PW’S ad manager, James Stainer, if he could recommend a good source of discs and pads. Heritage Parts Centre ( heritagepartscentre.com), he suggested. Rang a bell. And then I recalled that the bell was chiming for Volkswagen parts. VW Heritage Parts. Had checked out the website several times for my VW Bay Window Camper. Hadn’t noticed Porsche bits and pieces. Turns out that’s because Heritage Parts’ Stuttgart proclivities are a relatively fresh enterprise. But an activity that makes sense. There’s some crossover of parts between the German soulmates. Certainly back in Porsche’s beginning. And definitely now that Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group. Also helping was that a few members of VW Heritage’s team had acquired Porsches of their own – what better way to keep them running than establishing your own parts company…
Turnaround from ordering was impressively swift with email updates as to how things were moving along. I’d ordered a pair of ventilated and cross-drilled front discs complete with pads and wear indicators and they arrived within a couple of days. And as the order was over £35 there was free UK delivery.
Next I needed to find someone to fit
them. Although I can, at least, identify the useful end of a hammer from the handle, my workshop skills are very, very basic. By chance, Michael Cleverley of Cleverley Repaired Cars – who Editor Bennett uses to fettle his 996, and both of us rely on for technical advice on another CHP mag we work on, Total MX-5 – had a gap in his otherwise rammed schedule. Michael has previously sorted out the suspension geometry on my car as a means to alleviate the chronic front tyre wear, so I was happy he could attend to the brakes, not least because he’s a meticulous engineer, and also because he likes my car.
With the front wheels off he comforted me by saying that if you simply looked at the outside faces of the discs there’d be no reason for thinking there was anything awry. But with the Boxster up on the ramp there was the chance to look at the inner faces and they were, well, chewed up and skanky. PIE’S shout of ‘get ’em out’ was on the money. Not that it was so simple…
The driver’s side caliper had a recalcitrant bolt that required a dousing of old engine oil to free up before it could be removed from the car. Then the corroded brake pipe sheared off, leaving its threaded fixing component embedded in the caliper. Fortunately Michael had what I would call a ‘topical’ heat gun – a metal coil that heats up and can be applied to a very localised area, such as around a stubborn stub of broken brake pipe – that helped convince the sticking thread to get twirling loose. He was then able to fashion a new brake pipe from copper tubing and attach it to the freshly released fixture, ready for reassembly.
After that minor – by Michael’s standards – hiccough, the driver’s side (new) disc and caliper refit was a doddle. Removing its nearside twin was far less problematic, although Michael insisted on fabricating a new brake fluid pipe for this side, too, that I vaguely recall might have been an advisory on the last MOT. Regardless, I’m glad that it was done. As I write this I’ve been bedding in the new discs and pads so can’t vouch for their emergency efficacy, but what I can say is that the brake pedal is now an instrument that inspires prompt confidence, where previously it was slightly numb.
I’m cursing my own ignorance for the condition of the Boxster’s front Michelin Pilot Sports. When I had the Eibach lowering springs fitted I kept a very keen eye on the rear tyres because as the suspension dropped, their camber angle appeared to change the most. And yet over the miles they seemed fine. But then at the last MOT the advisory on the fronts insisted they were barely legal for tread depth. Didn’t see that coming.
But – damn – the fronts were grim. Almost like those motorsport or trackday specials where part of the tyre is slick and the rest deeply treaded for all-weather performance. Except that in this instance the slick bit wasn’t by design but was potentially dangerous. As in, you’ll soon be through to the carcass construction. As in, crap…
With lots of life left in the rear Michelin Pilot Sports, some more of the same made perfect sense on the front, particularly as even when badly compromised they’d upheld their end of the front end grip agreement. A pair of 205/50 ZR17S were duly ordered, to be fitted by my long-term friends at Treadfirst Tyres in Diss, Norfolk. I like Treadfirst because they’re car enthusiasts as well as tyre fitters, so they take extra-special care of cars that deserve it. Even my Boxster… Fitting was quick ‘n’ slick and within the hour I was back out the door, full-width tread restored.
There’s been no time before writing this report to fully bed in either the tyres or brake discs and pads, but the process is in hand. Even so, the fact that the critical elements of the Boxster’s front-end hardware are now in rude health has given me fresh confidence in the car, an update on which you can read next time around.
Meanwhile I shall be checking out if it’s repair or replace time for the gently leaking front central radiator, as reported on PIE’S List of Stuff You Should Really Sort Out Soon that came along with the servicing invoice. I’m keen for that to be the next job on the car, as I plan in the not too distant future to try Evans Waterless Coolant: it’s relatively costly stuff, so I’d prefer it stays within the cooling system and not dripping out on to my driveway.