Flat Cat

OKAY, IT WASNíT THE FEARED DEATH RATTLES, BUT FIXING THE PROBLEM STILL PUT MORLEY THROUGH HIS DIY PACES

WORDS & PHOTOS DAVE MORLEY

Itook the SS for a decent run down to Philip Island the other night.

Had a steak at the pub with my brother and then headed back to the Melbourne Bloke Centre.

Pulled up next to a VE SS at a set of lights and I could hear a rattling noise coming from the VE that sounded like a loose flywheel. Jeez, I thought, thatís a new car to have a rattle in it like that. Bzzzt. Guess again, dickhead; itís my car rattling isnít it? Yep.

By the time I pulled up at the MBC, the rattle sounded like a handful of marbles in a tin can. Oh, please, no.

Sticking my head under the car, the clatter seemed to be coming from about the middle of the thing, so probably not a loose flywheel then. Grabbed a piece of wood and held it against the cat converter.

Bingo: Noise stops. Ah, so itís a loose heat shield then. Off to bed.

Next day, I stuck the VN on the sticks and looked for the loose bits. Couldnít find them. But a good sharp rap on the cat made that familiar marble-can noise. Ah-ha, itís internal to the cat. Which can only really mean one thing; the cat-con has fallen to bits inside. Time for surgery.

Now, I could have simply welded up a by-pass pipe or even stuck a resonator where the cat used to live, but the fine for running a ULP car without the cat is more than this car is worth. And donít think that simply gutting the cat and replacing it will fool the EPA during an inspection.

Nope, because the check can involve an infra-red temp probe to the cat and if it isnít running the right (higher) temperature, youíre busted.

So it was down to the

muffler shop to buy a replacement cat. Except, of course, itís not that simple is it? While the headers on my car are the factory ones, I donít think thereís a single piece of the rest of the zorst thatís original. And itís been replace d in bits and pieces as necessary.

And since it was already a replacement cat-con that isnít available any more, the bloke at the muffler shop couldnít just conjure one up off the shelf. Best he could offer was to source me a new cat as well as a set of flanges that so I could make my own cat of the right length. This job is getting bigger by the minute.

A couple of days later, I had all the bits in hand, including a length of pipe to make the new, shorter cat go the physical distance. So hereís how it goes: First up, you weld a bit of straight pipe to each flange.

Then you tie the exhaust into place (I used a ratchet strap) so that it all lines up properly.

Then, you slip the new cat between the flanges (inside the pipe extensions) and bolt the flanges into place front and rear. Then you tack the cat to each flange. Drop it all out and weld it solid. Refit it, start the car and Ė in my case Ė detect a leak in my welding. Drop it all out again and quadruple weld each seam, turning the whole thing into a big, ugly boulder of solder. But one that doesnít leak.

So donít look too closely at my welds, Ďcos they aint pretty. But as a job the average amateur can tackle, I reckon this one stacks up, even though Iím not saying for sure this is how a muffler shop would tackle it. But it worked this time. And since early catalyticconverter- equipped cars are now more than 25 years old, it canít just be me thatís running into this sort of problem. And meanwhile, me and the SS are back on the road, rattle-free and looking dangerous.