Filtering out the noises

When I was assembling my Fiat from its thousands of bits I took great care to include as many of the original parts as I could. This included the air box parts around the fan on the engine. I have a pretend 500 engine using a few important 126 parts but making it look like a 499cc proper engine so I made sure I used the original engine outer parts to make it look right. Little did I know about a design fault lurking within the air filter cover. I knew that the 126 engine part had three clips and the two 500 engine parts only had two but for originality used the two clip part anyway.

About a year into the rebirth of the car on the road I had a funny noise at the rear – a rattle rapidly identified as the top of the air filter being loose – quickly fixed. Unfortunately this incident became the first of many and rapidly the mileage between these incidents became intolerably small to the extent that I had to cable tie the components together. This did not look nice and clearly was not right. I consulted the gurus and as usual Paul supplied the answers – the 126 part giving the clue that even Fiat had to fix the issue with three clips not two. So ignoring originality I decided to convert the unit I had to three clips. The same guru was also able to supply some extra clips as my spares had all rusted away in their time in a damp Edinburgh garage so I was all set.

I used the 126 part as a guide to the location and orientation but this was not difficult to sort out really. I had to replace the accelerator spring return bracket as it too had rusted away. Yes it was that damp a garage the car had been stored in! With the slots marked out the two new positions had small 3mm holes drilled at each end of the new apertures as many as I could then fit in between these two initial holes. A small flat file was used to remove the waste and rapidly a slot of equal dimensions was created which looked the same as the existing two – one of which is reused and the other redundant rear one is left with no clip in it.

It took me much longer to shot blast the rust and damaged paint off the unit and then to spray it in black engine enamel. Unfortunately it was a damp day and time was against me but the paint was flat and only slightly bloomed but matched the careworn appearance of the existing engine parts. Fitment was a bit of jiggle with the saving grace being a short 60mm long ring spanner to cope with the rather tight clearances at the rear of the unit but bruised knuckles aside the top cover was changed over in little over and hour one evening.

The result is that I can now start the car without it falling off and so far have not had to resort to stopping to reclip the unit together or getting out more cable ties. Not possible without the help of Paul in finding me some clips but I now have bowed to the inevitable and converted the other unit I have to three clip holes as well so that the spare engine also has the same chance of not coming adrift.

So if your car still has two clips and you have no access to a 126 item then be not distressed – it is actually all of about one hour of work to convert yours – it is the other few hours of cleaning, removal and painting that takes the time!

Quentin Howell, Fiat 500 Club UK member