Wednesday, November 17, 2010

one struggle after another

The Subaru is finally running, but not running well. It's been one issue after another since I 'finished' the build and started it for the first time.

Somehow the thermostat got bent (??) and was leaking pretty badly. I was able to remedy this before cranking it over, but it cost me a new thermostat and a refreshing propylene glycol shower. Next, once the motor built oil pressure, I had a massive oil leak from the turbo oil supply line. My first thought was a lousy crush washer. No luck. Then I suspected the threaded fitting on the braided SS line I got from Pegasus Racing. No, that was sealing nice and tight. After reinstalling the line about four times (which is fun, laying on the intercooler is the best way to get the fitting into the head) I discovered that the threaded fitting on the new banjo couldn't sit flush against the head. It would always leak.

I had no choice but to use the old hard line, which looks like it will break at any moment. It sealed though, and allowed me to actually run the motor. It ran. But it smoked like hell, and there is another, smaller oil leak on the oil drain from the turbo.

Turns out I botched the lines for the crankcase/head breather system and was building well above 110psi of oil pressure. This lead to awesome smoke and oil spatter all over my bumper. The muffler was literally coated in oil. Gross.
That's oil and soot. All over the place. I dropped the exhaust and cleaned it very well. After addressing the breather system and reinstalling the exhaust I have eliminated the smoke and the oil blow-by.
However, I may still have the breather system wrong as the computer is detecting a load at idle. Mike at Benchmark has been very helpful in getting this thing working right. Hopefully this weekend I can get it running smoothly. A buddy asked me what my dollars per mile are on the car right now. I have put 20 miles on it. That's a scary calculation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

scoop there it is

With the breather system nearly done, I fitted an STi hood scoop. Hard to notice, but it's taller than the stock one for 'better cooling.'

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crisis averted

After a big scare involving the clutch, I'm nearly reading to fill the WRX with fluids and give her a crank!

I dropped the motor in and suddenly had issues getting the throwout bearing to engage the pressure plate. The clutch fork just flopped back and forth as the bearing slid freely on the input shaft. Not good. I feared I would have to pull the motor/drop the tranny to reassemble the clutch properly. After some discussions on NASIOC, I realized the parts were assembled correctly, yet the spring clip for the throwout bearing wasn't doing its job.

I was able to separate the clip and bearing, force the clip into the pressure plate, then press the bearing into the assembly. After bleeding the clutch (damn Subaru, putting the bleeder nipple at the LOWEST point in the system) I had a working clutch!

I dropped in the radiator, a bunch of other BS, buttoned up most of the engine harness, and took a deep breath. The only remaining items are wiring the new gauges and creating a new crankcase/head breather system. The two liter EJ205 block has one breather while the STi EJ257 has two. I am ditching the whole OEM setup for a custom, balancing system using air/oil separators but I will retain the Subaru PCV valve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

losing my shop space

The owner of the slightly decrepit establishment where I've been keeping the WRX owes the local gov lots of money. Apparently, so much so that the sheriff said enough and is taking the property. Next week.

So despite being 'not quite running' I have to get my stuff out of there, soon. I made furious progress in the last few weeks, completing all my motor-stand work, dropping the motor in, and getting the brakes working again. I can now flat-tow the car down the block to a garage where it won't be suddenly repossessed.

While the remaining work can all be done with the car on the ground, it's going to be a hard (impossible?) transition to go back to working on cars without a lift. I can't imagine having a serious project car without one. I'm working on finding another shop with a lift, or possibly investing in a semi-permanent one for my garage.

All is not so bad, here are some photos of recent progress.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saab for sale!

The Saab is running great, so obviously I should enjoy it, right? Wrong, I'm trying to sell it. Why? I don't have the time. I'd love to restore this 900, but I need to finish the Subaru and take care of 100 other things. Besides, after the Saab is gone I get a chance to add something new to the stable.

If you'd like a decently clean, running 8V Turbo, let me know! Just look at all that baby blue velour!

Subaru progress

In the midst of a possible eviction from my shop, I am making some good progress again on the WRX. Barring any roadblocks, I hope to have it running on June 1!!!

Here are some pretty pictures of what's been going on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

homemade homologated hullabulloo

So I've been obsessed with homologation specials for a very long time. My favorite P-car is the 959, I loved the R5 Turbo chase scene in Never Say Never Again, and if my hot hatch has a motor in the boot then the milk can go on my lap.

These cars were nutty and only saw the light of day because the FIA mandated that manufacturers build road-going examples of their race cars. The idea was to force teams to build their race cars off of existing, road-going production cars. In reality, team constructed purpose-built race machines and then softened the edges on a handful of cars to be unleashed on the general public. Most of these cars are big-bucks today, and rightfully so. They are bonkers relics of the no-rules-just-right Group B rally years. Most are silhouette-type cars that look like mainstream variants from 200 feet away, with one eye closed, and a six-pack deep.

My favorite and perhaps the most outrageous was the Lancia Delta S4 and its Delta S4 Stradale counterpart. These were Deltas in name only and featured a front fascia that vaguely resembled the economy-car offering from Lancia. It was a tube-frame race car with a mid-mounted four cylinder. Eschewing the trend to turbocharge, Lancia worked with Abarth to develop a lag-free twin-charged system employing a belt-driven supercharged and a turbocharger.

It was all good fun until enough people died, including some Portuguese spectators and later Lancia team driver Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto. The fire-breathing Group B cars were killed and the rally world was never quite the same. Just like the Can-Am series of the paved world, the Group B rally cars were some of the fastest, least-restrained machines ever driven in anger.

So what does an inspired but financially modest enthusiast do? Why, create his own mini-monster on a moderate budget. I've thought about it a bit and done some reading over on the Locost forums.

Here is my plan:

  • buy a running front-wheel-drive Audi 5000/200 turbo
  • remove drivetrain and brakes
  • find appropriately awkward and lightweight hatchback, preferrably with 80's styling cues and terrible digital instruments
  • place Audi engine and transaxle in backseat of hatchback
  • enjoy!

On paper it is very straightforward but I know this is a major undertaking. I also have a project and a half worth of cars sitting around right now. But a guy can dream right? And by dream, I really mean scheme, plot, and connive.

The Audi five-banger is a key component here: it will provide the chilling, ur-quattro-esque wail that Michelle Mouton called "the thing I miss most" about Group B. The Audi five also comes with requisite period goodies like an external wastegate (for dumping straight out into traffic). It also has beefy internals and lots of aftermarket support. Sort of.

The choice of a chassis is tricky. Anything I select will need copious amounts of surgery. I need to find a chassis that is as light as possible, with correct charm, and can still fit the long Audi drivetrain behind my 6'5" frame. I'm not afraid of a headrest-on-the-firewall setup, but I don't want my right arm resting on the valvecover.

My first choice is a MkI Rabbit, if only for the all-German feel. I can also find some nice prefab fender flares for the Rabbit/Golf types. I also like the Toyota FX16. A Renault Le Car wouldn't be so bad either, and they are dirt cheap and flyweight. It wouldn't be the first time the Germans forced their way into the French.

All in all, it's going to be a fun and frustrating project if it ever happens.

But man, if it does, that will be one fun car.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I can add my blog to the list of sweet project I start and promptly forget about. I'm trying to go through my life and finish/resume projects as resources allow.

That said, I will hopefully resume posts here.

Pay special attention to the Saab and Subaru build pages. I really do have lots of pictures somewhere to post. Expect great-to-above-average things from both those cars.

I'll be working on a bicycles page too, for my burgeoning herd of two-wheel toys. NJS will have nothing on me.