Installing an Oil Catch Can in a V12 Aston Martin Rapide or DB9

Oil in the Throttle Body Area is a Sign of PCV Failure

Last November I was replacing the coil packs and spark plugs on my 2011 Rapide and the oil in the inlet manifolds and throttle bodies made it pretty clear that my PCV valves were past their best.

I decided to replace the PCV valves with these £15.98 metal ones from i6 Automotive (check it out here) in Sheffield, England.  But since it would take them a few weeks to get to me here in Adelaide, South Australia I set to thinking. On my diesel 4wd one of the first modifications you do is to fit a catch can into the PCV system.  Good ones are incredibly effective at removing the oil mist and preventing it being recycled through your engine.

After quite a lot of Googling, I came across this kit for the v8 vantage offered by Redpants.lol (check it out here), but couldn’t find anything suitable for the V12.  So with the PCV harness already in pieces to refit the valves I started fiddling… Continue reading “Installing an Oil Catch Can in a V12 Aston Martin Rapide or DB9”

Aston Martin DB9 – Sheared Bolt Repair

Every now and then you will come across an existing sheared bolt or you will shear one yourself, either way they have to be repaired. Sometimes (rarely) there might be a length of bolt or stud proud enough to be able to get a grip of it with mole grips or self tightening pipe wrench. If you try to get a stud out this way be sure to soak it thoroughly with a good penetrating oil for as long as you can first and work the bolt backwards and forwards to loosen it don’t try to undo it in one direction straight away you have to “persuade” it out.

The sheared bolt on my Aston’s slam panel was where it bolts to the bonnet release catch. The shear is about 3mm below the top of the steel of the catch and is quite a common failure. It’s quite easy to over tighten and shear smaller sized bolts particularly when using ratchets or spanners with handles/lengths that are up to 200-250mm (8-10″) long. One trick is to hold the spanner in the middle of its length to reduce the lever arm if tightening up smaller bolts. On more critical bolts use a torque wrench, most torque figures are given in manuals so use them. The overriding requirement is common sense, are you bolting up a bit of light weight “slam panel” as in the case above or a major suspension part !!!

The worse situation is the sheared stud or bolt that shears below the surface of the steel and it’s the most common. There is a reason why car manufacturers say you should use new bolts in critical areas and it’s not just to make money out of us. Bolts that are located in areas of high stress, high temperatures or exposed to potentially rusty locations will experience changes to their mechanical properties over time. Corrosion can reduce the surface condition of bolts not to mention the “eating away” and “pitting” of the threaded area. The pitting can eat into the steel causing areas of potential weakness that will fail under the load of tightening. Bolts that are exposed to the effects of heat (heating up then cooling down) such as engine/cylinder head bolts or exhaust bolts and that are under load for a long period will not exhibit the same mechanical properties once removed and then reused. Hence manufacturers recommend replacing all the cylinder head bolts once they have been removed which often seems a little extravagant as they always look fine but as I’ve explained it’s not done without good reason.

There are two options to repair a sheared bolt. If possible it may be extracted by drilling a hole down through the centre of the bolt and using a stud extractor. These extractors are readily available but I have to say I haven’t had much success with them. The extractors have a left hand thread so as they are screwed into a drilled hole in the sheared bolt or stud they tighten in the direction that will unscrew the sheared bolt.

Stud Extractors

I always try to extract a bolt but usually end up drilling it out and re-tapping the hole. The size of the sheared bolt or stud determines the size of the hole to be drilled and tapped here are some common drilling sizes for tapped holes that you might come across when working on your Aston.

As you will see there are a number of different Pitches for “Fine” bolts so it is important to select the correct drilling size particularly if you are having to drill out a cylinder head bolt for example, you only get one chance at it. To ensure you are using the correct size drill you can measure the size of the replacement bolt you are going to fit using a thread gauge.

Available in the UK from as little as £5.00

When you drill out the sheared bolt consider where the swarf (waste) will fall. If there are critical items around such as say the alternator it will not react nicely to having small metal pieces dropped into it so protect vulnerable areas with cloth covers etc..

Swarf from drilling the hole ready for tapping

If the swarf can be easily vacuumed up then covering everything up is not an issue.

Once the old bolt has been drilled out you can now start to tap a new thread for your replacement bolt. When tapping out a hole it is important not to try to rush the job by driving the tap down into the hole. You will almost certainly shear the tap in the hole then you really do have a problem as the tap is made of extremely hard steel that you will find impossible to drill out. Since taps are made from particularly hard steel that brings with it an inherent brittleness so don’t go mad trying to cut the new thread in one go.

The technique is to apply downward pressure to get the tap started whilst turning the tap half a rotation (180deg) clockwise then reversing the tap direction for a quarter of a turn (90deg). This is repeated for the whole of the tapping process until the full depth of the hole has been tapped. The small rotation backwards allows cut material to release into the grooves of the tap so that the tap does not bind in the hole and potentially break. Once the tap has cut a thread of a few millimetres you will no longer require to apply downward pressure as the tap will use the thread it as cut to provide the downward force into the hole. During the cutting you should use a light oil or grease to aid the cutting process, WD40 is a good lubricant for this. It is also advisable to remove the tap completely periodically to clean away swarf.

Use a lubricant and stop periodically to remove swarf

The key is to take your time, you’re not on the production line at Ford, if you are doing this job it’s probably a one off, so there’s no need to rush.

Check the bolt in the new tapped hole when finished

When you have finished tapping the hole and have cleared away all the swarf check that the replacement bolt will run down nicely into the new tapped hole. You don’t want to get into the assembly of everything to find for some reason the replacement bolt you are going to use is too tight or too slack in the hole.

Remember the key is take your time and start off by marking the centre of the broken bolt with a good centre punch mark so your drill will not wander off the centre of the bolt and drill squarely down the bolt. You don’t have to drill out the hole to the final tapping size in one go, it’s often better to drill out in say up to three stages to arrive at the final size. If you follow these instructions you should be able to replace a sheared bolt on your Aston with no problem.

There is a short video here showing the drilling out and tapping of the sheared bolt on my Aston’s bonnet catch.

Mike (Aston 2209)

Windshield Wiper Blade Options for the Aston Martin DB9

Failing OEM Wiper Blade

As part of your 2 year Annual Service for a DB9 you are supposed to inspect and/or replace the Windshield Wiper Blades.   I wrote about how to swap them and how ridiculous it is to automatically replace them on a 2 year interval in my other article here (check it out).   But, when it comes time to replace them you have more options than just ordering up a set from the Dealer.  Those options is what this article is all about. Continue reading “Windshield Wiper Blade Options for the Aston Martin DB9”

Installing the DB9 Badge/Logo on an Aston Martin DB9

What’s Missing Here?

My DB9 was resprayed (repainted) recently.  It was done by our regional Aston Martin Certified paint shop.   When I got it back I was gobsmacked by how awesome the paint looked.   A few days after I had it home I got the call from the paint shop, they realized that they had forgotten to install the DB9 badge on the trunk/boot lid.  Doh!   Sure enough, my car was debadged.  The paint shop was a 2+ hour drive away, so I opted to have them FedEx me the logo.  To my surprise it comes as three loose pieces D – B – 9 with NO template provided (Gee Aston – could ya toss in a piece of paper please).  I asked the paint shop how they do it.  They seriously said “We just wing it”.   Which got me started on how to figure out exactly where to install them.  This article covers it all. Continue reading “Installing the DB9 Badge/Logo on an Aston Martin DB9”

Rear Subframe Surface Rust Descaling in an Aston Martin DB9

Some of you may have seen one of my (@aston2209) previous Blog on changing the rear lower wishbone assembly and at the time I commented on the condition of the rear subframe. It had quite a lot of flaky surface rust that was both unsightly and could lead to more aggressive corrosion in later life for Aston 2209. At the time I wanted to undertake cleaning up the subframe but since it was in the winter and there was a lot of damp atmosphere from day to day, I decided to leave it until the summer. However here we are in May and we have just gone through a really long period of dry weather with warm temperatures and seeing as we are also in “lockdown” due to the Coronavirus it seemed like a good time to do the job. Continue reading “Rear Subframe Surface Rust Descaling in an Aston Martin DB9”

Installing an AML Performance Secondary CAT Delete Kit in an Aston Martin DB9

If you are a member of any of the Aston Martin Owners FaceBook Group or online Forums (like PistonHeads or 6SpeedOnline) you will likely have seen some chatter talking about fitting a ‘Secondary Cat Delete Kit’ (SCDK) in your car to increase the power and improve the sound.  It’s not like the stock DB9 has a deficiency in either department already, but its promise is a simple change will give you more of each.  Intrigued by this I couldn’t resist researching how to tackle this.

There are several vendors that make SCDKs, and in this article I will be covering my personal experience with the kit from AML PerformanceAML Performance is a small company in the UK, and I met its parts manager Mark Holden in the Aston Martin Owners Facebook Group.   He is a DB9 owner himself.  Mark suggested I might want to try out a set of their SCDKs and I took him up on the offer.   Read on to learn about their kit and how to fit it. Continue reading “Installing an AML Performance Secondary CAT Delete Kit in an Aston Martin DB9”

Installing the Shear Panel in an Aston Martin DB9

In a previous article I discussed how to remove the chassis stiffening ‘Shear Panel’ from my DB9 (read about it here).   I was removing it to access the exhaust system hidden above it while I was tackling installation of a Secondary Cat Delete kit (read more about that here).  Reinstalling the panel is the last step of the process, and it’s important to get it right so your DB9’s structural rigidity is restored.  Here is how I did it. Continue reading “Installing the Shear Panel in an Aston Martin DB9”

Installing a Velocity AP Secondary CAT Delete Kit in an Aston Martin DB9

If you are a member of any of the Aston Martin Owners FaceBook Group or online Forums (like PistonHeads or 6SpeedOnline) you will likely have seen some chatter talking about fitting a ‘Secondary Cat Delete Kit’ (SCDK) in your car to increase the power and improve the sound.  It’s not like the stock DB9 has a deficiency in either department already, but its promise is a simple change will give you more of each.  Intrigued by this I couldn’t resist researching how to tackle this.

There are several vendors that make SCDKs, and in this article I will be covering my experience with the kit from Velocity AP.  Velocity AP is a great company steered by Stuart Dickinson.   They started in the UK, and moved their facilities to British Columbia, Canada a few years back.  They make all their products in house.   Read on to learn about their kit and how to fit it. Continue reading “Installing a Velocity AP Secondary CAT Delete Kit in an Aston Martin DB9”

Removing the Secondary Catalytic Converters from an Aston Martin DB9

Removing the Secondary Catalytic Converter from a DB9 isn’t something you’d do every day unless you are working on the exhaust system.  For me, I’m working on installing and testing a ‘Secondary CAT Delete Kit’ that supposedly improves the performance and sound of the car [read about that project in my other article here].   The first step in that process is to remove the original secondary CAT, and that’s what this article is about. Continue reading “Removing the Secondary Catalytic Converters from an Aston Martin DB9”

Removing the Shear Panel from an Aston Martin DB9

Shear Panel

One of the terrific aspects of any Aston Martin is the handling.  Part of the magic to that is creating a car that is ‘stiff’, meaning that it doesn’t twist and flex during cornering or over bumps.  The DB9 is no exception, and part of that body stiffness is created by a thick aluminum plate underneath the bottom of the car in the center of the vehicle, the “Shear Panel”.   There is nothing fancy to it, it’s just a metal plate bolted up rigidly to the left and right hand sides of the transmission/drive shaft/torque tube tunnel the runs from front to back.  The tunnel itself is a weakness to the car, so the plate bolts across the bottom of the tunnel to make the vehicle stiffer.

Why would you care about this?  You probably wouldn’t unless you need to do some work on the things that are up inside that tunnel, above the Shear Panel.  In particular, the dual exhaust pipes run along there.   For me, I am planning on installing a ‘Secondary Cat Delete Kit’ which is a fancy way of saying removing the two rearmost catalytic converters and replacing them with a straight pipe kit offered from several vendors (more about that in a future article).   Any maintenance to the center portion of the exhaust system will require removal of the Shear Panel.

The good news is that it’s easy enough to remove, and only takes about 10 minutes once you have the car off the ground. Continue reading “Removing the Shear Panel from an Aston Martin DB9”