Almost back to work

Yesterday the Caldina sold and was picked up by a good younger fella who is a geology student. He’s been biking everywhere and has been looking for a reliable car. Seems he knows what he is on about with cars so think this one should be well looked after. He makes some awesome recycled wood furniture, check out his work here, here’s a free plug for him:

Since that cars now gone, I’ve been tidying up things on my own one. I’ve just put in some new Nolathane front lower control arm bushes, fixed the radio aerial, painted the front bumper (had so much stone chips), fitted rear bump stops and strut boots (old ones were split badly) and replaced the fuel filter. I have some really cheap L.E.D. bulbs (T5 and T10 size ones) coming from Ebay to change with the dull incandescent ones that light up my dash too. They should be a week or so away. I also need to replace the rear speakers but a bit of modifying is needed there as the old ones are 4″ but I’m putting in 6 1/2″. I think for now I’ll take a break from car stuff once mines 100% as it’s so time consuming, It’s only a Caldina at the end of the day and probably isn’t worth as much as I’ve spent on it. The old crappy engine sold for $15 on Trademe tonight so that’s gone soon too and we’ll have our garage back.

I’ve been for some runs recently up the hills, running mainly the Mt Vernon valley track that starts at the bottom of Hillsborough Tce and works its way up to Rapaki/Summit Road. Its a great run, high intensity at the start but not so great first thing in the morning as most of the track is in shadow of the Rapaki Hill until 3/4 of the way up so the frosty mornings are a bit rough for the start of the run. I did go for a run around the whole of Hagley Park the other day and was impressed with the pace of an older fella who I caught up with. I was nearing the end of my run and targeting people ahead of myself to catch up and pass (my mental challenge while running). I took a while to catch up to this older fella but when I did he had a relaxed and quick running pace (11-12 kph at a guess) which I felt comfortable running along side him at. I didn’t have to push myself too much but it was constant. I don’t think many people out running at that time had a good pace like this guy, he would’ve been in his 50’s at a guess.

Tomorrow will be one of the biggest runs for me in awhile, looking at a half marathon type distance run but not sure where to run, I have some options like the beach/bottlelake forest but it gets annoying when the tides all the way in and the end of bottlelake looses the track into slush so you need to jump on to the beach to get to the Waimak River mouth. Weather looks good, not too hot and no rain or cloud according to Metservice.

Another option is running from home to Hagley Park and back, it’s about 19-20km but I like the peace of trail running better so… the best option so far might be a run from Sumner to Taylors Mistake up Godley head and back, just like the good old days but via some slightly different tracks from the start at Sumner as most of the awesome old ones have fallen in to the sea from the earthquakes. I need to start looking for more hill runs in Christchurch to vary my distances and add variety.

Lately I’ve been watching a Netflix series ‘The 100’, it’s a good Sci-fi series about some humans who abandoned Earth and lived in space for 100 years due to nuclear contamination on Earth. They’ve landed back on earth to see if it is inhabitable and found it now is but there’s other humans that are still on earth that cause them oodles of problems. To be honest, I’ve become a bit addicted to it and am going to watch some more of it shortly.

Alongside Netflix I’ve also been starting a bit of study of the CPK’s for work. I’ve just finished the first ‘Chapter’ for CYPFS Act and Family Violence. I’ve probably read it over and over about three times now because when I stop, I loose where I’m at and have to go through the whole document (on my laptop) again to find out where I got up to. Anyway… ‘Chapter 2’ here I come!! (Firearms, TASER, Sudden Death, Policing Act and Victims). I’d also better check that I have the latest exam study files because these are probably a bit outdated from last year now.

Plan for the rest of the night is Netflix then sleep. Onward with Netflix 🙂


First of the proper runs

It’s been -1 Degrees Celsius last night and I had planned a run up the hill trails. When I got up about 8am I thought that even my new trail shoes might not hold that well to the ground due to how cold it was so I thought I’d go running around the block. I was aiming for a 10km run to start things off. I have been doing the odd run on average about once a week but now the focus is on ‘upping’ that. My previous runs were with my German Shepherd dog Bella or my son Brooklyn so I haven’t had a decent chance to let loose as Bella would slow down drastically going downhill or near the end of a big run, Brooklyn does well but his legs are a little shorter than mine.

I chucked on my running gear, beanie and gloves and went at it. Just out of my gate a young ginger guy was running in the same direction as me but about a block ahead…. my first challenge!!!

I could tell from way back I was gaining on him quickly, as I past him he wasn’t puffing and he had a relaxed but slow jogging sort of pace. For all I know he was probably near the end of a marathon run but I felt good passing him.

The first km was the hardest with the cold air hitting the back of my throat and my body working aerobically to start off. I thought, ‘why am I doing this!’ I began to settle into a good pace as I ran around the river and the redzone, running past some kayakers and people out walking and feeding ducks.

I ran around Locksley Ave where everything is still bare and un-cared for, there was one house still in the middle of the CERA land that appeared lived in. Continuing on I made it to New Brighton Road, the part where it always floods, looks like they’re fixing the road there.

I felt good from here on knowing that I’m sort of on the home straight, sweat and body heat had built up and my back of my throat was no longer cold.

Heading back on Wainoni Road I picked up pace as I knew I had more energy in the tank, I thought about the M&M’s I ate last night and knew there was more energy to burn if I pushed myself.

On the last road home I upped the pace again to an almost sprint to the gate. Brooklyn came outside to welcome me home (and unlock the front door).

I created a 4x weetbix and peaches breakfast with a hot green tea to chow down on while I figured out my pace on the computer. I’ve started a spreadsheet from today and recorded my results for the first proper run:

avg speed 12.39kph, distance 11.08km’s, time 53mins 40secs, pace about 4:50min per km.

Not bad for a first personal run. Now to push it further and stop eating all this sugary crap that I love so much.

Done and up for sale

Yesterday was the big vacuum out and polish the car day. The previous owner had left so much wood chips (think he transported wood for his fire in it) and heaps of dog hair and cigarette butts in it. It was a full day of vacuuming, armourall and cut and polishing to tidy it up. The rear bumper also got a bit of a spray paint to tidy up the paint that had seemed to react somehow making it look a bit orange peely.

Today was the last day of sorting this car out.

I took it in for a WOF only to find the rear brakes were imbalanced. After taking off the wheel and finding the wheel cylinder leaking I thought I’d have found the issue and whipped down to Supercheap to buy a new wheel cylinder. Taking it back in for a re-check showed it wasn’t the fault and the good WOF man (who I used to call on in my old job) let me put it up on the hoist to adjust the brakes in case that was all it needed…. wrong, it looked like the right side wheel cylinder needed replacing too, taking it back home I replaced the other wheel cylinder and drove it straight back (all within an hour). The second WOF re-check showed no different in the rear brake balance. The handbrake balance tested fine though so it had to be a hydraulic problem.

Drove it home again thinking the only other option would be a faulty brake proportioning valve which I picked up from All Cars Auto Dismantlers. When I got home I began removing the old one, what a mission!! It’s mounted on the firewall behind the intake manifold and you need double jointed arms with 6 fingers on each hand to make it an easier job, unfortunately I only had five fingers and normal arms so I persevered with it until I got it out.

The replacement valve was installed back in place just in time to pickup the kids from school. When the kids got home I got Brooklyn to help bleed the brakes by pumping them and holding the pedal down while I loosened and tightened the bleed nipples. Job done, the kids jumped in the car and I drove it back to the WOF shop to have it finally pass.

It’s now on Trademe for sale, some one will get probably one of the most tidiest and reliable Caldina’s of its age in Christchurch for a deal.

Now my brother has messaged me saying his Caldina (a bit newer than this one) needs a cambelt kit fitted. I think I could manage that. I also need to get rid of the old engine from the garage so if you know of anyone who likes scrap metal dealing they can come and take it for free and earn themselves some ‘squid’.

Once this sells I’m buying myself some decent running clothes and hitting the trails. Cars take too much time so this will probably be my last wee project for a good while. Will be looking forward to focusing on running, family, CPK study and work.

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Bits for me

The Caldina has now had a new timing belt fitted and everything cleaned up, new oil seals, oil pump gasket and water pump. It’s all running smoothly. I put new antifreeze in it then ran it only to find out the cooling system is full of rusty residue still. It was all through the hoses and I suspect most of it is still in the radiator and the heater core.

I’ve ended up dumping all the new antifreeze (bummer!) then flushing the whole system through with water, it kept pouring out rusty water for awhile then started to run clear again. So once again I filled it right up with antifreeze and all seems good.


Since getting it running, I decided to start stealing the up-spec stuff for my one. I swapped over the rear tail light lenses and got stuck in to modifying my car so it could take the factory side skirts off the one I’ve done up. They needed a good paint up so I sprayed them then fitted them on to my car. It’s looking good so far. I heave plenty more to swap so tomorrow I have planned to urethane fill the lower control arm bushes, these were so far gone that I pulled out the arms and had the inner rubber and shaft fall out. They need to dry once filled for atleast 7 days which will give me an excuse to go for a run finally (been a bit slack lately).

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I also have the front factory bull bars to fix and fit to mine which requires me pulling apart the front bumper from the ‘doer-upper-er’ to get the proper factory mounts to fit it, plus I have the rear factory boot handle to mount to my boot lid too.

Dying to finally finish the one in the garage to sell so mine can sit in there to finish off. The one I’m selling needs one hell of a good clean in and out too, the engine is pristine now but the amount of dog hair and wood chips in the car is ridiculous, atleast we have a Vax and a decent vaccum cleaner too which should sort out that job.

more updates later as things progress!

Mark… Out!

It works!!

The engine is in, it has all new fluids including fresh DX3 Trans fluid, engine oil + filter, new power steering fluid, new thermostat and gasket and new spark plugs.

It started first pop, probably due to my OCD-ness making sure everything went back exactly where it was meant to. No bolts were left out! I topped up all the fluids and checked it drives forward and back properly, no problems at all!!

I sorted out some wiring inside the car then tried the heater, it made a loud ‘wurrrrring’ noise at any fan speed so i pulled apart the heater fan to discover a whole lot of pine needles inside the fan housing, once these were removed I tried it again to hear it running really smoothly, everything was put back together from there.

Now knowing I have everything working perfectly, I am on to the cam belt next. I already have everything removed after struggling with a tight crank pulley bolt, all the replacement parts are sitting there to fit so that’ll be my next mission on the four days off coming up. I’m not cutting corners with anything done on the car so the water pump will be replaced as well as all three seals behind the timing parts and the oil pump gasket too. The new engine is very tidy, apparently its only done 150,000kms and I’d believe that, even the timing stuff on it doesn’t seem worn, all the idler and tensioner bearings have no play and move smoothly, the waterpump had no leaks and no play in the shaft either, I may end up doing the head on the old engine yet and putting the old timing stuff from the new one on to it to sell as a working engine.

This car will end up possibly being the most mechanically sound Caldina in NZ shortly for the distance its done. It really needs one hell of a groom, the previous owner was a smoker and there is dog hair all over the back seat but I’m pretty good at cleaning that all up, the paintwork needs a good cut n polish too.

Looking forward to this being done, then my car will be getting all the good stuff put on it!

A couple of pics below from where I’m up to now:

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Project Progress

The engine is now out with a huge thanks to my next door neighbour who I think also loves working on cars for fun.

The old engine is completely munted, oil all down the back of it, you can see milky looking oil through the exhaust ports of the middle two cylinders so I’d confidently say it is a warped or cracked head problem.

Due to all the oil that had leaked out the back of it, I spent a day cleaning everything up. The transmission has had a good degrease, the power steering rack was covered in oil along with all the front right suspension and arms it’s now looking a heap better.

The CV driveshaft was also well degreased. The replacement engine will be here in about an hour so looking forward to swapping what I need to back on to that tomorrow, if I’m lucky I might even have the trans bolted back up and it sitting back in the engine bay tomorrow (wishful thinking!).

A couple of pics:

Cleaner engine bay

engine bay clean

Auto transmission cleaned up

Existing Auto Trans clean

Old engine all oily!

Old leaky engine

Update: The engine is now here and looks tidy but has been banged about a bit, I’m going to have to change a lot of things over from the old one to the new so it’s ready to put in. A few more hours of labour involved before its ready to bolt back to the transmission and be lowered back in. Big boys lego!!

Hubbys Hobby – Project 2

Car number 2:

Another 1996 Toyota Caldina has been bought for $800. This one had amazing specs like: Factory Aerial kit and side skirts, rear boot spoilers, clear rear and front indicators, sony usb headunit, factory mags, front factory bull bars (that the old owner had ground off!!!).

Only thing this one had was a blown engine… what!!

The spark plug leads had melted to the head and were impossible to remove without extreme force. To do a compresion test after they were out was still impossible as the plugs couldn’t be removed with all the melted plastic around them, there mustve been some heat put out by the engine before it died so….

New engine bought and arriving on Wednesday via Trademe ($250!!) and the loan of the neighbours engine crane to get the old one out and the new one in. image1 image2 image3

Everything has now been pulled off the engine ready to remove bar two engine mounts, leaving the engine hanging there until the engine crane arrives tonight.

In the mean time I noticed that there was a fog light switch in this car (being the better spec model) which operated the existing factory fog lights. My own Caldina didn’t have this switch but had the factory fog light lenses, bulbs and wiring so the wiring for the fog lights was removed and swapped into my car leading me to discover that was all it needed to make mine work!!

I have also swapped the lenses for the park lights over to mine as they’re the matching clear ones for my clear headlights.

There’s still plenty of things to swap over to mine like the side skirts, rear boot lid and mountings for the factory front bull bars but they can all wait until this replacement engine arrives, is in and away runnning.

Next update…. engine in and running (I hope)

Over and out.

Hubby’s Hobby

Hubby and I had been having rather passionate verbals about his subsequent need to be out in the garage… we came to a mutual meeting ground of, I have a hobby and now… so does he.

Hubby’s hobby: Tinkering on cars.

I’ve created a category “hubby’s hobby” so hubby can just do a post per car 😀

The first car

Make: Toyota

Model: Caldina 1996

Cost: $1400

Repairs: $600

Labour: $0.00 a month of tinkering between shift work

Sold: $2500

State upon arrival:

  • tar and horse and cowshit all up and over it
  • black bonnet
  • oil leaks coming out its arse (yep I’m typing word for word this info as dictated by hubby lol)
  • clicking cv joint perished cv boot
  • idling problems
  • timing belt, water pump, seals, and tensioner idler due
  • tyres low on tread




Engine bay once all the leaks had been sorted:


Let the fun begin….

First hubby did the timing belt, seals, idler, tensioner, water pump, and rocker cover gasket.

He started it up and it wouldn’t idle it properly, he knew he had it timed right so replaced the spark plugs thinking that might help, no luck! it continued to stall so spent a day thinking about it and figured it had to be the idle control valve.  He pulled apart the throttle body and cleaned the idle control valve and throttle body properly putting it all back together.

Hurrar!! it was then running properly.

He next purchased some cheap near new tyres and mags online an put them on his own car then put his own steel wheels on the project car giving it good tyres for selling.

Why wouldn’t he just put the tyres he brought online on the project car….

Here’s his answer:

Because he didn’t want steel wheels on his own car.  He wanted mags.

Carrying on….

He swapped head units between the project car and his own car so he could have a USB one…

His car is an identical or close to it model to the project car by the way.

Then the clear headlight lenses over to his own car.

He painted the ugly black bonnet with paint matching the project cars body with a can from RJ Patterson who color matches car paint using the paint code under the bonnet of the car.

After test driving it he found the CV joint was buggered so replaced that and the boot.

He tidied up the cars wiring behind the head unit.

Then listed it on trade me.

This car went to a awesome new owner who has saved a huge amount on labour and parts, getting something that is now incredibly reliable.

A dad came and test drove it for his rugby playing son needing a wagon for all the sports gear and training.

The son came and test drove it.

They placed a hefty deposit down even though we insisted no need to.

Then paid the rest by internet banking and came to collect the car a couple days later.

On to the next Caldina project!!

Immunity Bake

We’re all showing early signs of the sniffles so out comes the garlic, onions and herbs!

You can make this dish ahead of time and just reheat it at dinner.
Great for shift-working hubby’s who like to take easy re-heat meals to work 😉


Potatoes (could use Kumara for lower GI) sliced 5mm thick

Onion sliced as round thin slices 3mm ish thick
The phyto-chemicals in onions along with their vitamin C help improve immunity.

3 Eggs 
We love Woodlands brand because they’re Pasture Raised/Fed Chickens.
The nutrients in eggs are only as good as the health of the chicken, it’s lifestyle and it’s diet.

Pink Himalayan Salt (rich in over 80 minerals!! Google it)

Fresh Rosemary chopped for the middle layer plus on top.
Rosemary contains: Iron, B6 and Calcium

Fresh Ground Peppercorns
Great for improving nutrient absorption, and congestion. 

Grated Cheese to Melt on top


Grease your ceramic dish, and layer the sliced potatoes half way, add the sliced onions and rosemary then add further layers of sliced potatoes.  Sprinkle the garlic over the top.

Put three eggs and two cups of whole milk and 1/4 c of flour into a shaker or blender.  Pour over a sieve into the dish of sliced vegetables.

Grind fresh pink himalayan salt and peppercorns over top then cover with foil and bake 200’c fanbake for 20 mins.

Remove the foil, add grated cheese and grill.


Vee x

**Will put photos up after I serve it up for dinner.


Chocolate Date Balls

Thanks for this great recipe! really affordable version 🙂

Amanda Harris - Chef and Nutrition Consultant

~ Chocolate Date Balls ~
No added sugar, Dairy-free, easily made Gluten-free, Affordable, Easy and Delicious!


This is a recipe I came up with to make for snacks at preschool, and I have made them a few times for myself at home as well. They are super easy and freeze really well, in fact you can eat the straight from the freezer. They would be a fun thing to make with kids to use as lunch box fillers, also they are nice for a cheeky snack after dinner with a cup of tea or coffee ☕. I could go on, but you get it 🙂

400g Dates – soak in boiling water for at least half and hour
1 cup coconut
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp natural vanilla essence
1 cups seeds ( I use pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
1 cup rolled oats

After the dates have soaked for…

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