Gen3 Restoration Thread - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Camry 3rd & 4th Gen (1992-1996 & 1997-2001)/1st Gen Solara (1999-2003) Toyota Camry Discussion for years 1992-1996 & 1997-2001, as well as Solara discussion for years 1999-2003. Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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post #1 of 14 Old 05-12-2019, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Gen3 Restoration Thread

I didn't start out intending to own a Camry for this long. But when I bought this 1993 Camry SE V6 (3VZ-FE) 5MT, in October of 1992, it seemed to be good enough for my needs. It handled like a pig when new, but finally I found a shop which specialized in race cars and they set up the alignment which brought it to life (secret recipe: reduce the rear toe to the minimum allowable tolerance = faster turn in). Being a manual it weighs much less than an AT, plus I decide everything. With 4 snow tires there is nothing it can't get through in the winter. It has no ABS, only 1 airbag; all the rest is up to the driver. When the 1MZ came along (-100lbs from the cast iron 3VZ, but no MT available on the Gen3.5 = X). Later, the Gen4 came along, with the light 1MZ, and finally with an MT option, but the seats didn't fit me, so I hung on to my Gen3, "for a little longer" ).

Each year I'd ask myself, "What to replace it with?", and each year the answer was, "Wait another year, this car is better than any of those." Next thing I knew, it was WAY many years later, and still the same answer. After 25 years of daily driving, 200,000 miles, in SE Michigan (=lots of rust), and having taken no particular precautions against rust, or any other kind of effort made to "make it last", simply normal maintenance and replacing the suspension twice (and steering rack once), of course with all Toyota parts, it still drives and handles like a new car. Until the rust got too bad, it also looked like a new car. The interior is still in amazing shape.

Last year the rust was too bad that I simply couldn't put it off any longer: time to shop seriously for a new car. Result: I don't like any of the new cars, and this old car has everything I want and none of what I don't want. Then I realized it could be cheaper to restore it than to buy a new car.

Begin: operation '93 Camry restoration, for another 25 years of trouble free motoring.

More to come...
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-12-2019, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Step 1) find a donor car.

On Cargurus.com I found the perfect donor. Although mine is an NAP (made in TMMK, in Kentucky), the donor was JPP (made in Tsutsumi, in Japan) the parts are all interchangeable. The donor has ABS, so that has to go, and its an automatic, so of course my engine and MT transmission are going to be used. Since the 3VZ has issues with head gaskets and erosion between the head and block, I've got 4 heads now to make one good engine with. However, both engines register as completely healthy (the donor came with the check engine light on, and the OBD1 code said bad knock sensor, I'm replacing all sensors with new anyway). So, when I'm done, I may have one complete JPP engine and AT for sale (for the project I keep them as a guide for re-assembling mine).

The donor came from Spokane, WA, was a 2 owner car, no accidents. 1st owner had for 20 years, and obviously took lovingly good care of it. Although it also has 200,000 miles (same as mine) it is totally rust free, and every part is in "like new" condition (though, completely worn out). I wish I could meet that owner and shake their hand in gratitude, for taking such good care of it. Now, I feel like I am giving it a new lease on life.

After stripping the donor down to its bare body shell, I've sent that on to the painter, along with all of the suspension parts for a good coat of black paint (Toyota code 202 black).
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-12-2019, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Step 2) strip my car for necessary parts

It turns out the donor car and mine both have grey interiors, and both are in excellent shape so I've got two entirely equal ones to work with. I may have to store all of the spare parts (a big space hog) simply because I know after some point I'll never be able to get any of them anywhere else, ever again.

Today I pulled the engine out of mine (with about a week's worth of prep, loosening or breaking off, or cutting off with a cutting wheel, all of the fasteners holding the suspension on, and front subframe). The donor car came apart nicely. My rusty black one, not so much. The LH driveshaft was a real bugger, but the cutting wheel solved that problem.

My strategy is to leave my black car as assembled as possible (as a guide for assembly later).

Next step: strip down the engine to rebuild it, and send the E53 manual transmission for rebuild to Monkeywrench Racing, in Detroit, who specializes in Lotus (Lotus used the E153 transmission for their Toyota engined, turbo 4 cyl. cars, and it is very similar to the E53, except for gear and FD ratios).

Other jobs for me to accomplish, while the body is being painted, and engine and MT are being rebuilt:
- convert from R12 freon ('93 was the last year at Toyota for it) to R134a (the O-rings which are R134a compliant are all 1mm larger outer diameter). Unfortunately, along with the coolant change for '94, Toyota also changed from the 3VZ to the 1MZ engine, so there are several changes in the AC system I'm working out.
- I already got a full set of hard lines from a '95 from a scrap yard, in case there is any shape difference in the joints, due to the O-ring size difference, though it is entirely possible the O-ring change was merely to increase squish of them, for sealing against the slipperier R134a molecule, and maybe the hard line joints are unchanged. I'll find out soon, and be prepared in either case.
- rebuild the HVAC assembly, with a new, +12% larger evaporator (to deal with any possible performance tradeoffs from the coolant change), and replace all foam rubber seals throughout.
- rebuild the power steering pump, and hydraulic fan motor, and figure out how to re-do all of their flex hoses (none of which are available from Toyota, it seems).
- rebuild my SE steering rack (which has a quicker ratio than the LE or XLE Camrys). This will be tough because it will require fabricating some special tools.
- rebuild my brake, fuel and clutch lines (the donor came with good parts, but the brake lines are different - remember I don't want its ABS), and my clutch lines are shot). What I can't get from Toyota as new parts I'll make myself.
- rebuild the radiator and condenser and fan assembly (with new rad, new cond., new hoses and new foam seals).
- have the headers and heat shields ceramic coated, inside and out.
- add heat insulation to the cowl, to prevent heat soak in the summer time (in the summer the vents always blow hot air after a stop, even if the air was cool until the first long stop, because the upper part of the cowl is just bare metal, so the engine's heat gets to the air in the cowl plenum. A simple layer of insulation should make a world of difference.


Still seeking:
- although ALL of the other suspension parts are available through Toyota (necessary to get the "like new" ride and handling, unlike "random tune" aftermarket dampers, springs and mounts), the rear struts seem to be NLA. So, I'm still working on that part. My rusty ones only have 20k miles so I may repaint and reuse those.
- the "SE" badge on the trunk lid is all worn out, it is NLA, so I'm looking to get it re-chromed somehow.

More updates to come.

Ultimate target: one brand new, 1993 SE Camry. I'm well past 1/2 way there.


Norm
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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Notice that I said, "way past half way there"? Laughter all around.
Probably I'm only about 1/4 of the way, or less, but it feels so good to reach a major milestone.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. " - W. Churchill
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 10:04 AM
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Notice that I said, "way past half way there"? Laughter all around.
Probably I'm only about 1/4 of the way, or less, but it feels so good to reach a major milestone.
That comment *did* get a snort outta me!


Regarding the ABS: I think the tough part would be sourcing axles with the tone rings. My fuzzy recollection is that the 5spd takes different axles than an auto. And I'm not sure the 5spd ever came with ABS. Except for that, the ABS system is stand-alone; it's got its own computer module.


Following this thread with interest. Post lots of pics.

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No tone rings = no problem. My plan is no ABS.


My '93 never had it. The donor car came with it, but its not going back in after the restoration. To deal with eliminating it, I was going to make all new brake lines (I've used copper nickel tubing for past projects), but have found the long rear ones are available new from Toyota (for only like $30 each), and the front hard lines, though new, non-ABS ones are NLA I got nice used ones out of a pick-n-pull last weekend so I might get away without having to make anything.


BTW, my research says the Camry MT and AT axles are common, for the Gen3 (perhaps they became not common later, like Gen4). This is true for both the I4 and for the V6 versions of the axles. The difference for each is only "*66" (the code for "w/ABS"). One other axle difference that exists is two makers: GKN (NAP parts) and Toyota (JPP parts), each is interchangeable, just the additional part numbers makes the research take longer to sort out!. For I4, 3VZV6 and 1MZV6 there's 10 different axle part numbers (4 each for GKN/TOY, plus 2 more for 1MZ).


One awkward aspect of the brake lines is they are a part of a great big assembly, including the fuel and vapor lines, which gets attached to the body shell LH rocker area first, before anything else, and is, like 8 feet long and very fragile. Gonna have to get that ready, and then stage it somewhere safe until ready for re-assembly.


The other, especially fragile part is the headliner (I'd hate to accidentally damage that). I keep meaning to pick up a mattress bag to keep it in!


Norm "the Camry that wouldn't die" Kerr
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 11:40 AM
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And I'm not sure the 5spd ever came with ABS.
Pretty sure it did, in fact the gen2 Camry V6 5-speed also came with ABS so props to Toyota. On the axles the inner stub (that goes into the transmission) is the same auto/manual so I'd imagine the axles are also the same. Speaking of fuzzy memory I think I've put in an ABS axle into a car with no ABS because that's what I could get over the counter.
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Oh man R12 AC is PIA... Im running on fumes, i wash my outcoming hose from compressor and it gets oily after month, same on left side condenser connection.

My AC still works

What to do?

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 04:41 PM
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Oh man R12 AC is PIA... Im running on fumes, i wash my outcoming hose from compressor and it gets oily after month, same on left side condenser connection.

My AC still works

What to do?
You should make your own thread, but the short answer is run it 'til it doesn't work, then convert it to R134a. Here's a thread with a lot of info. I converted my '92 after the compressor failed, and the AC worked fine.

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Regarding R12 or R134a, I did a lot of research:

It turns out domestic/commercial HVAC companies deal with R12 in old legacy systems in buildings and restaurants all of the time. You can buy R12 from them, or off the internet, and can find shops who will fill a system with it.

However, from your description, your system is leaking, so fixing the cause of that should be first (if its leaking at a joint, replace the o ring, if its leaking at a flex hose, get a new one, or find a local hose shop who will make you a new one). If its leaking mid way along a hard line, the aluminum has corroded and that piece should be replaced. Filling a constantly leaking system will eventually lead to enough crap getting in to destroy the compressor, and fill the condenser with junk, forcing you to replace those things too.


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post #11 of 14 Old 05-13-2019, 09:42 PM
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An interesting thread! I don't have your rust problem but have racked up lots of miles and am reluctant to just turn my car out to pasture. As you noted, the new cars just don't have much appeal to me. My brother is still driving my old manual transmission V6 Camry and I have toyed with the idea of having his transmission rebuilt and installing it in my V6 Solara. Change out the rear main seal and the valve guide seals on the Solara during that job and it would be like a new engine.

Keep the updates coming!

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post #12 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 05:26 AM
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Sorry about the rust... Toyota really did a good job with rust, on the Gen4. Our Gen 4.5 has 19yrs and 305k miles of Detroit daily-driving, and has almost no rust... just a tad, starting at the wheel well lips. We figure at this rate, we have at least 10yrs, before even addressing. Yet amazing job, keeps us up-to-date with progress reports...!
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 07:55 AM
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norm365, simply by viewing your working area, there is no doubt this will be a top shelf resto when you are done. I'm in a similar position as you with a '97 Maxima. Mechanically is sound and the A32B's are a near bullet-proof mill but the body on mine is quickly approaching the condition of your black Camry. While the car owes me nothing at 390K, and I feel I have the skills to pay the bills I don't want to take the time to resurrect it. So we will drive it till it drops. In the meantime I've completed a refresh on a '98 Camry 5SFE with 118K on the clock, a near cream puff car as I call them with zero rust, which is unique living in the rust belt. One or two more shopping trips at the Pick-n-Pull and she ought to be finished.


I'll be following your thread as well, please post frequently with tons of photos.
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-16-2019, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone!

The next job: strip the engine down to a bare long-block, and the MT down to a bare unit, for delivery to their respective rebuild shops, I started and was immediately overwhelmed by the shear number of hoses (vacuum, fuel, vapor and otherwise), wiring, small nondescript brackets and sub assemblies.

Then an old friend pointed out to me: the shop manual goes through each of those as individual systems.

So, now I am stripping off one system at a time, learning about it as I go, following the (print) shop manual beside me, and making notes/sketches as I go, about what the manual isn't clear enough about for my liking (sketches which don't show well enough which hose goes where, etc.). Knowing that it will be the instructions for re-assembly is very reassuring.

Here's hoping that when I'm done, I'll have a half a chance at getting it all back together again later!

The interior, the doors, the suspension, the fuel system, these things are very familiar and easy for me to keep track of. I've rebuilt old British engines and transmissions, and carburetors before. But, the IP wiring, and the engine on this car, are in this other league.


Having a parts car is a godsend. There are so many parts from it that are in better shape than mine, even though that other car is a different spec, and it serves as a guide for putting things back. Also, having access to a car at a pick-n-pull, to get other parts from. There is no way I could do a project like this otherwise, especially because there are so many small parts no longer available new.

Reflection: my other "forever car", is an FJ. This morning I searched the internet and ordered its 3 volume print shop manual (for when this comes due, many years from now). The price of the print manual isn't cheap, but its easy access in the shop, with greasy fingers, and its non-volatility (no worry about some on-line version disappearing later when I need it), and all that, are well worth it.


Norm
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