Sunday, April 26, 2015

AW11 MR2 Build - "Akemi" Part 26

New NAPA premium rotors and Porterfield HP R4S pads on the rear have rid the car of the brake noise and brought back the pedal bite. She's almost back at full strength, getting pumped for autocross test & tune and racing in July.

Left outer CV boot is torn and slinging grease. Hooray.

In the last couple weeks I've had to do:
the CV boot 
re-re do the rear brakes because one of the pads cracked, so new Porterfields, rotors, one caliper, and both e-brake cables (while I was in there)

front left inner tie rod is going bad

Front left wheel bearing has been loose, so I'm going to do that at the same time as the tie rod to do one alignment

And the flex pipe in my SV3 downpipe has developed a leak when cold

When it rains, it pours

Just replaced the left front wheel bearing and inner tie rod. Getting an alignment this week. 

For Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive a Techno Toy Tuning bomber bar.

I painted it to match my wheels

And here it is on the car

I have some more goodies on the way that will be mounted to said bar, replacing my broken Pep-Boys square fogs.

Hella 500 series rally lights

PIAA bar mounts with inserts to fit multiple bar sizes

And some Hella yellow laminate for teh JDMz

Hellas functional, yo!

This morning when I got in the car and pressed the gas to get it started, the pedal was SUPER stiff and then it wouldn't return. Tonight after work I bought one of these things to help lube the cable:

Did not work. Still gummy and won't return. Looks like I'm gonna have to get a new cable, and only NA cables are available. Apparently if you finagle it enough, maybe a little bracket tweaking and you can make it work fine on the SC. I can't tell you how excited I am to be replacing the throttle cable on this car in the dead of winter. Ugh.

I guess the WD40 soaked through the whole cable because it's the smoothest, easiest throttle action I've ever felt on this car. I guess it's been gummy the whole time and I just didn't realize. 

Today I got the winter tires on. They are General Altimax Arctic 185/60R14 on stock AE82 steelies (fun fact: this is actually the stock tire size for this car). Initial impressions: It's soooooo wobbly! The super deep tread + super soft rubber + taller sidewalls = driving on jello. 

Also, in my fanboy brain, there is some resemblance

Car got backed into by a friend last night. Both of my hellas are destroyed. Bumper cover is scuffed ($3 can of Krylon) and is cracked a little under one of the turn signals, but not bad enough to warrant me trying to track down another good-condition used cover from who knows where and swapping them.

Car started and ran like a champ this morning even in 1*F. About 1/3 of the way to work it started bucking and missing and trying to stall out, so I limped it off the road and popped the engine lid only to be greeted with smoke pouring out of the distributor along with the lovely smell of burning electronics. I (barely) limped it home and brought the wagon to work. Looks like I'll be pulling the dizzy soon to see what the hell happened. New ones are nonexistent but I can get a used unit online for around $125-150, add in a new cap and rotor, and $75 to get it rebuilt (new oil seals inside and new shaft bearing). That is, if the dizzy is actually toast.

Always something >.<

I used a mirror to look inside the dizzy itself and none of the electronics look burnt or blackened or anything. I'm thinking the smoke and smell were caused by arcing between the cap and rotors center contact (from the coil). That would melt the plastic and smell terrible.

New cap and rotor didn't help. Still smoking. I removed the distributor assembly and it looks like the internal shaft oil seal is leaking. I'm not super thrilled by how some of the electrical bits look, so I think I'm going to go ahead and get another unit for rebuild. Maybe I'll keep this as an emergency back up and rebuild it as well.

Status update: replaced the distributor inner shaft seal and outer housing seal and reinstalled. Car runs and drives fine but is still smoking a little (but not smelling like melting plastic this time). 
I believe what happened was the inner shaft seal leaked a bunch of oil inside the distributor which burned up the cap, as well as leaked out all over the exhaust manifold, which is wrapped in fiberglass heat wrap. 
I think the current light smoke is the oil burning out of the wrap, and should stop after a day or two of driving.

Got me some good stuff with which to flush my brakes/clutch before the NCCAR event.

Last week I also swapped out my 6-month-old-already-warped NAPA rotors for some Stop Tech slotted pieces. These were reasonably priced and even have the outer edges and hub surfaces painted to keep rust away from those exposed areas. Pretty neat.

The car performed exceptionally well at the track on Sunday. This was a much higher-speed course than I'm used to and the brakes were just awesome for this. Here's what I believe was my fastest run.

Unfortunately I did snap one of the brackets that holds the front sway bar to the underside of the car, and judging by the oil all over everything on the right side, I may have blown out the right front Koni shock. Weirdly I don't think this happened from the track, but from a bump on the access road that leads to and from the track. I have a new one on order from Amazon and will send the blown unit to Koni for warranty assessment.

Here's the offending sway bar bracket.

As you can see in this picture, it looks like maybe it was an aftermarket or old version of the bracket, since the new one (and the other one on the car) are both beefier metal.

Here's the RF coilover. As you can see everything is coated in oil. I didn't take an "after" pic because after I cleaned everything up I lubed up all the heim joints and bearings and stuff with motorcycle chain lube to keep it all loosey goosey. 

So now the car drives like a champ again, and drives completely straight. I'll probably wait to get an alignment, since I'm considering changing out my springs for something stiffer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

AW11 MR2 Build - "Akemi" Part 25

A couple days ago I was bored and decided to clean up the old, corroded water pipes. Here's a little in-progress shot.

After all the corrosion was wire-wheeled off, I hit it with some paint I had laying around, then wrapped it in some DEI gold heat reflective tape. This pipe sits right next to the block between the supercharger and the intake manifold. Who knows if it will do anything, but it makes me feel better.

Also, the flywheel came in today which is cool.

Turns out I ordered the wrong size main bearings (the parts catalog at work can be super confusing), so those will get returned when they come in. Apparently when you look up the full set in the catalog it's "U/S" for undersize journals if you had to get the crank machined. What I need to do now is look for numbers stamped on the block and crank and match them up through a little chart in the repair manual to determine what bearing size I need. Fortunately I have a picture of said markings on the block from a few years ago (mine is 33332). Unfortunately, my crank is still at the machine shop and I can't get it till Monday. 

Here's the chart for reference.

Got off work early today because I had to go to some kind of inventory class training thing, and stopped by the machine shop to have a look at the numbers on the crank so I could order main bearings. I was delighted with some good news.
1. Giving the crank a light polish won't effect the bearing tolerances in any kind of significant amount
2. Everything should be done tomorrow or Thursday
3. The bill will be significantly less than I anticipated

Anyways, the marks on the crank read 00001. Using the chart posted previously that works out to all 5 main bearings in size "3". They should be here Monday at the latest I think. I have also ordered appropriately sized plastigauge (every kind you can get readily in the US doesn't go to tight enough tolerances) from a guy on MR2OC that has some he presumably got from a UK supplier. I'm so psyched to start putting this thing back together!

I ordered another McMaster urethane kit to fill my side motor mounts. Win.

Got everything back from the machine shop today. 

They washed everything, honed & resurfaced block, resurfaced the head, polished the crank, and cleaned the pistons. The guy that did the work (Frank) said that there was some pretty good pitting between the cylinders and the water jacket on the gasket surface which were most likely the cause of my issues. He says he sees it a lot on iron block/aluminum head old Toyotas. So, mystery solved.

I got to work cleaning the burnt carbon off the pistons this evening. Fine wire wheel on the dremel with a very light touch and a steady hand did the trick. I need to get a fresh wheel to get down in the ring lands better, but I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.





I also wire wheeled (big one on a power drill this time) the windage tray to get all the old RTV off it. I also straightened it out from where it got a little bent up from removal. The oil pan flange will be getting the same treatment soon.


Alrighty time to update. I've been posting more on MR2OC and DoriKaze to glean info from the 4AG Yoda's that dwell in those parts. I followed the stampings on the block and crank and came up with all size "3" bearings. I installed them and plastigaged them to measure the clearances. They are all a bit loose (not crazy loose, just a little over spec). I then ordered one "5" and one "4" so I can use those to test before I order more bearings (because they are expensive and non-returnable once opened >.<) and It looks like If I use four "5"s and a "4" I should be good to go.
Finished smoothing out the intake ports in the head today, as well as filling my side mounts with urethane. It's probably the worst results of all my poly projects, but that's kinda my fault for not doing a good job with the aluminum tape on the bottom. Oh well, still better than nothing.
I didn't seal the tape that well on the bottom, so it was leaking and the level dropped. By the time I caught it, the urethane was already pretty tacky, so I kinda just used the wooden stirrer and pushed it in the abscesses like wall spackle/bondo. It was still gooey enough that it kinda blobed down in there and made itself even though so that's nice.
Main bearings are in spec, crank is in, rod bearings are in spec, pistons are in.
Unfortunately I don't have any of the cool step-by-step stuff you all have come to expect from my project posts, mostly because at this point I just desperately want this car to run again. The interesting point I'm at right now is that with the engine on the stand I can't put the rear crank cover on, which is part of the oil pan mating surface. So basically I have to build most of the motor sans oil pan so that I can use the engine crane to hold the engine while I remove the stand, install the backing plate, and then put it back on the stand to do the oil pan. Kinda bass-ackwards but oh well.  


Timing gear, timing belt, timing belt tensioner, cam gears, cam seals, rear and all front timing covers are on, distributor, spark plugs, plug wires, alternator bracket, SC bracket, motor mount bracket, water pump pulley, intake manifold, water pipes, and valve covers are all on. Tomorrow I'll be installing the rear crank cover/rear main seal, prepping the oil pan (cleaning the surface, and fixing any bends I may have put in it from prying it off) and hopefully installing it as well. Then the SC, exhaust manifold, wiring harness, and alternator can be installed.

 The engine assembly was completed a few days ago, and today I got over to help (big thanks to Shannon, Corey, Mitchell, and Billy). We got the motor off the stand, flywheel and clutch mounted, and transmission mated the the motor. The motor/trans were placed on a tire on a furniture dolly while we lifted the back of the car with the engine hoist, just like we did to remove it. However a combination of factors are making it impossible for this to work at my house, not the least of which is the poor quality of the pavement in my driveway. The wheels of the furniture dolly were digging into the driveway and it was frankly a miracle we got it back out from under the car at all.
So at this point it looks like Mitchell is going to borrow a truck from his work and tow the car over to his house so we can install the drivetrain there. That will probably be either Thursday or Friday evening. Assuming all goes well there, I can probably get the car in running shape by Sunday, and hopefully driving by next Monday or Tuesday. Then it's a matter of putting on the miles so I can have it broken in by the autocross test & tune on July 12 and/or the race on July 13.

The engine is in. After taking it to Mitchell's garage for the use of his nice floor and also the ceiling I-beam-mounted chain hoist. I still have loads of work to do connecting things and getting it back up and running, but the hardest part (I hope) is over.  

All wiring is connected other than the battery itself, fuel lines are connected with new crush washers, cooling system has been initially filled but will need to be bled after the car is started for the first time. Shifter cables and slave cylinder are all mounted. Oil cooler connected. Left axle is installed. Gruntbox has been rewired. Belts have been tensioned.
Work remaining:
Right axle
Exhaust system (will be reprinted with better paint before install)
Torque crank pulley bolt fully
Install intercooler
Add Seafoam to gas tank
Fill engine with break in oil
Remove EFI fuse and prime the engine
Drive moderately hard for 30 min
Change oil to conventional and drive easy for the next 500 miles.


It runs and drives. The engine is still breaking in, the cold start injector is disconnected so the ECU will 'learn' without it so the Gruntbox will work when I plug it in. I still need to set timing and make sure nothing leaks, but it seems to run just as well as it did before.


Put like 56 miles on the car tonight. I went to the car wash and to fill up with some fresh 93 octane Shell. The motor drives perfectly. Idle is a tad rougher than I remember, but I wonder if that's just from a combination of higher compression, lighter flywheel, now-solid side mounts, and just being generally new. The rear brakes are making some noise which is annoying. I wonder if the ebrake seized while it was on blocks (they aren't seized anymore) and messed up the rotors. I think I may do pads and rotors before the next autocross anyway. It also needs an alignment pretty badly.

Odo read 274149 at the beginning of the night, which means the car had roughly 209,935 miles on it when the motor was rebuilt.

Now that I'm a little farther into the break-in I've been giving it a little more gas every now and then and I've discovered that there's definitely something up with the SC system. You can see here:

When I put my foot down it should go up to 5-7ish psi immediately. Instead what happens is I get about 2-3psi for a second, then it jumps up to where it should be. My pulley clutch seems fine, the belt isn't slipping, and after spraying around with starter fluid I didn't find any vacuum leaks. I'm thinking the vacuum lines for the various vacuum switching valves (VSV's) may be mixed up, since this is how the ABV (air bypass valve) is controlled. The ABV basically allows the intake air to bypass the supercharger when it's not on. I think I need to retrace all my vacuum lines in that area and make sure they are going where they are supposed to go.

Here's stock routing

Here's routing for the ABV VSV bypass that you do when you run more boost than stock

And here's the routing that HKS has in the instruction manual for their overboost pulley (that I have), which is basically the ABV mod.

I'm going to try and reroute it so it lines up with the HKS manual because I'm pretty sure that's how it was before. I hope that fixes the issue, otherwise I could have a faulty VSV or ABV, neither being cheap or easy to find.


I removed the check valve, teeing the ABV straight into the line and everything is well with the world. Hooray for boost!

AW11 MR2 Build - "Akemi" Part 24

Put in some fresh spark plugs. NGK BCPR6ES-11, re-gapped from 0.042 out of the box to around 0.032-0.034 in the car.

Also got this little guy put on last night.

 It came off a junkyard MR2 but it had a flat-style draw bar receiver, which are impossible to find any more, so I took it over to Ashland Hitch and had them modify it to take a standard 1 1/4" draw bar. I still need to get said draw bar, but one thing at a time.


So the last couple winters, my car would make a weird humming or whining sound on really cold mornings until the engine warmed up. The last few days it's done it non-stop, so I put it up on a lift after work today to have a poke around. After removing the belts, I spun each pulley until I found that it was the supercharger belt tensioner pulley. $120 (employee pricing too) and a 3-5 business day wait until I have a new one. Normally I would just look at the bearing numbers and get a bearing but the pulley is designed in such a way as the bearings are not accessible.


Pulley was replaced on Monday. Today I got the LED trailer lights installed and wired up, and the trailer harness installed in the MR2. Tomorrow morning early I'll be going to DMV to get the trailer registered and whatnot. I still need a ball mount/draw bar thing, but other than that the trailer is good to tow.


Continuing trailer far here's the details:
Harbor Freight 870lb utility trailer
LED light conversion (also HF)
Reflector stakes so I can see it behind me, makes backing up easier

Today I just mounted a storage box, added some tie-down eyelets and some other little odds and ends.

Wood mounts take the weight of the box

Box bolted to the trailer frame with some U bolts


Added some eyelets and a piece of wood for the tires to sit on instead of sitting on a thin metal lip

Finished product:


Just ordered oil/filter and coolant boost. Gotta get that spring maintenance done!
The last few weeks it's been having a hard time at cold starts, a little extra cranking to get it going, low initial idle, etc. Didn't think much of it. But today on the way out to the Blue Ridge for the cruise, it started spitting coolant again like it used to when it had a BHG. I bled the system and topped it off after the highway drive, and it was totally fine for the spirited drive through the mountains. However on the highway trip home it did it again. This is consistent with the symptoms before: totally fine unless at a sustained constant high RPM for a long time.

I'm thinking when I last did the head gasket 3 years ago, I only resurfaced the head. Maybe the block has some slight imperfections that need to be ...
....IRONED out....

ANYWAY to do that means engine removal and disassembly which means full rebuild time.
New rings, bearings, checked cylinder bores, resurfaced block, balanced crank & rotating assembly, probably ARP main studs and rod bolts, gaskets, timing belt/idler, oil pump, and, if in the budget, maybe an aluminum flywheel while it's out.

All cool stuff but lots of money, and even more pressing to me right now....time and work.
I guess it's good I got the wagon back on the road.

It's out. I'd like to never drop this thing again. That sucked.
New TRD 0.8mm metal head gasket came in today

Tonight's progress tearing down the motor. Started by removing the SC, so I could remove the intake manifold, so I could get the fuel rail off, so I could remove the wiring harness.  

After that it was just a matter of unbolting the exhaust, alternator, all the bracketry, timing belt, and water pump

Then came the valve covers, cams, lifter buckets, and eventually the head (all placed neatly in order)

Which left the block

RP studs came out and were kept matched with the same nuts and washers in the same order just for OCD's sake.
Then the oil pan, oil pickup, windage tray, timing gear, and oil pump all came out to leave just the shortblock

This weekend I hope to have everything fully disassembled, bagged, tagged, and ready to take to the machine shop next week.
Got the engine completely disassembled and ready to take to the machine shop today. These pics are for my reference when I go to put all the bolts back later

And here is everything wrapped/bagged ready to go to the shop Each piston/rod assembly is in a freezer bag labeled 1 thru 4

Got the engine completely disassembled and ready to take to the machine shop today. These pics are for my reference when I go to put all the bolts back later






And here is everything wrapped/bagged ready to go to the shop Each piston/rod assembly is in a freezer bag labeled 1 thru 4

While everything is out of the car I decided to rotate my square bushing. For those of you that don't know, on E-series transmissions (MR2 SC and MR2 Turbo) there is a little square metal bushing in the shift lever assembly that wears out and causes play.
Here's the shift lever assembly

 In this pic you can see the bushing in the middle. It's where the top arm articulates the bottom arm to move it in/out of the transmission.

Here you can see the amount of wear

All you have to do is take it out, turn it 90*, and put it back. Then all your play is gone! Hooray for free mods!

So while everything else is away, I'm taking all my cast intake components and starting to clean up the innards where there are casting imperfection. Nothing crazy, I'm not removing much material or reshaping anything. I'm using pretty much the technique used in this video, though I'm using a flex extender thingy for the dremel so I don't risk gumming it up with shavings.

 Here's how my intake manifold came out. I'm pretty pleased with it.

I'm also porting everything to match the gaskets. Oddly, the cylinder head intake and intake manifold are already gasket-matched so I don't have to do that, though I will probably smooth out the casting in the ports in the head with very light duty abrasive fuzz attachments. Again, nothing crazy, no mirror shine (ain't nobody got time for that) just a little smoother. I wonder if there will be any measurable power gains once it's all back together with the higher compression and this intake work. If I could gain 10whp from all this that would be sick nasty.

Finished up polishing the intake pipes. I think they came out pretty good.

Fidanza aluminum flywheel is ordered! Hooray for community vendors that are willing to price match!