November 20, 2016

DIY Maruti Suzuki Esteem Restoration Project - Part 1

"I can probably outrun this thing on foot" said a guy about the humble 800cc engine on the Maruti 800"

I've been looking to upgrade to a better car for a long time now. I considered the Hyundai Getz, Fiat Palio and even the Suzuki Baleno. My requirements were simple: a minimum of 1200cc, well maintained motor under the hood; and a working air conditioner. The cosmetic condition was not a problem. The worse the better. All the more fun for DIY repairs.

Then one day, out of the blue a friend from Deloitte inboxed. She wanted to let go of her 20 year old Maruti Esteem and asked if I was interested. Hell yeah I was. I drove the car home in a couple of weeks and got the papers transferred in another two. The RTA screwed up a little on the registration though...that's another story. Thanks for the car Trishula! You're awesome.

I'll list some basic fixes/DIY improvements I did to the car over the last one month. I will post regularly here and on other portals(FB, Insta), as there doesn't seem to be much online about the path breaking car that was the Esteem. Team Bhp has some great threads on it but they've rejected my applications for registration twice already. I'm not motorhead enough for them yet.

Looks great from this angle. The tail lamp assembly still looks classy.
A tight turn or a shared auto that inched too close.
The 'Doctor' sticker needs to go.
All lights in order. The boot opens via a release under the driver seat. No key access.
The front seat covers have seen better days. Will be replaced soon.
The car came with a Pioneer Head unit with a 12 CD changer! I had to remove it due to a broken ribbon cable.
Mechanical steering. Just what I like.
The 1.3L power plant. 20 years but still roars to life without a complaint.
The Maruti-like front. One of  bits I'm not a fan of.
The car came with these Pioneer 'Helmet' speakers, Pioneer sub in the middle, and a massive amplifier under the seat. This car is ready for long drives with friends!
The door panels need work.
The back seat covers too.
This car has been on some really bad roads. Or did a dive into a nasty pothole.
Will replace the wiper assembly in one of the service visits.

With the Maruti 800 I had invested a lot of time and money in making the car 'presentable' . I will be following the same routine for the Esteem. No over the top mods like spoilers, engine tuning, or "speed is life" stickers on the car.  The aim will be to make the car look cool, while not making a hole in my pocket.

I made a list of things I wanted to do on the car, in no particular order or priority:

- Fix music system (done)
- Engine oil flush
- Radiator flush
- Wheel alignment
- Dashboard revamp (done)
- Cabin light, plus two exterior lamps
- Door Sill plates (done)
- New Seat covers
- Door panels revamp
- Ambient lighting
- Bottle holders
- List still updating...

Leaking fuel line
On my second trip out in the car, I noticed there was a leak in the fuel line. I'd initially thought it was just condensation from the AC. When I popped the hood, I saw this

I bought a similar pipe and replaced the faulty bit. Problem solved.

For the Dash, I decided to give it a quick coat of Matt black to hide the two decades of scratches and discoloration. It was not as easy as I'd thought it would be. First, I was unable to remove the dashboard as the speedo assembly wouldn't come off. I didn't want to break anything so I went the easy way -  Masking tape. Lots and lots of it.

A closer look at the dash:

That panel gap above the glove box door was bothering me. I had fixed the loose catch on it but it still won't close completely.

I fixed it with some foam board. I chose orange to go with the new Sony head unit I installed in the car. Will do another post for the music system later.

More information on the car :

October 26, 2016

Laptop DIY fix: Toshiba U940

When my Brother bought his laptop, I had expressed concern at the shopkeeper trying to hard sell this model even though we weren't so keen on buying a Toshiba. The laptop was stunning to look at and we eventually gave in. It worked great for an year or so and then the issue started. The fan was getting loud. Very loud. Like a small hair dryer on full blow. A Google search revealed this was a common problem with the model. The crook shopkeeper was getting rid of the stock.

I opened up the laptop sometime ago and lubricated the fan with a few drops of oil but to no avail. The issue returned in a few days.

After a couple of successful purchases on the popular portal, I decided to try my luck there and ordered a replacement fan at around 600 rupees.

The fan arrived today and I immediately got to work. I was surprised to see the stock fan that came on the laptop is made by the same company! Pictures below.

The replacement was finished in about 15 minutes. It's been 2 hours since and the fan seems to be functioning as expected. No loud noise so far.

Success, I think.

April 10, 2016

DIY: Ceiling Light from Car Air Filter

I replaced the air filter in my car sometime ago as part of a minor renovation. I was going to throw the used one away but held on to it as I figured the circular shape with the holed patterns would make for an interesting DIY project.

I finally got around to working on it this weekend.

The first job was getting rid of the filthy paper filter. I removed it with a sharp paper cutter and cutting pliers. It took a lot of effort to get this done as the cloth/paper material was not at all easy to remove. The sharp edges on the cylinders weren't helping.

After removing the paper, I cleaned the whole unit thoroughly with a brush and some alcohol. I also gave it a nice sanding to bring back the shine but this would later prove to a be a waste of time. 


After I noticed there were too many imperfections on the surface and the leftovers of the paper filter were all over the place, I decided to give the whole thing a coat of matt black spray paint.

And oh, the grill I used in the middle came from an unused exhaust fan. I cut the grill to size and secured it to the air filter assembly using loads of glue.

Finally I installed the bulb assembly and a yellow 15w bulb from my bedroom and here are the results:



April 6, 2016

That Salary Question!

So a close friend asked me how much I earn in a month. I gave him a rough figure and he immediately converted it into the local currency of the country he's working in. He concluded I was being paid a pittance and that I'd be "worth a lot more" if I gathered the courage to go abroad. Another uncle did the same. Then another cousin.

This forced me to take a step back and think: Am I really underpaid and living a sorry life here in India?


I have a decent IT job and I earn enough to let me pay the bills, send money home, drive a motorcycle and a car, spend on decent clothes, invest time(and money) in my hobbies, and also do charity work.

And the icing on the cake is I get to do it all while staying close to my loved ones.

The only downside I can think of is I have absolutely no savings. But that has to do with me not spending my money right. My collection of cameras and other retro stuff is partly to blame here.

A close friend pointed out that even if I was employed in another country my savings would still be null. I agree with him!

At this point in career with 4-5 years of experience, a lot of us think "Onsite" for that savings push. I don't have any such least not yet!

February 9, 2016

DIY : Corner table

So, I found some planks of wood in the trash. I picked them all up when no one was looking. 

With some very rough cuts with the jigsaw and the drill, and some patchwork with nails and glue, I had a crude table ready.

I gave it two coats of Primer followed by two coats of Satin brown enamel paint. 

Final result. Not the prettiest but works!