Went to a nice little event this past Sunday here in Okinawa at Kadena Marina. The Black Onyx Pacesetters (Okinawa Chapter) in conjunction with The Kandi Girls were running a charity bike and car wash, with proceeds going to a local Okinawan orphanage. It was a very well run event, with food and refreshments for [...]
Archive for April, 2009
Call it an omen, call it impeccable timing, or call it a sign from the gods with the three diamonds, but this is scary. Just days after my engine blows up I get a package in the mail. Open it up to find a review copy of “How to Build Max Performance Mitsubishi 4G63T Engines” by Robert Bowen. You couldn’t really make up something like that but it does start to make you wonder if someone has been putting sugar in my petrol tank!
My mind is still debating the intricacies of how I will rebuild the engine, but when I come up with something concrete I’ll post up on here. Apologies for not posting as much as usual – have been hugely busy with car & work, and have been struggling with cold/SARS/man-flu for the past couple of days.
I return to the site with good news to report! I am happy to tell you all that cylinder 2 came out pretty well in the compression test! Cue the fanfare, balloons and minor parade passing by my apartment. There is slightly worse news though: well, just read on.
Got the compression tester yesterday and knew I had to warm up the engine for it to be accurate. Wasn’t a nice experience, especially because as soon as it started up it was smoking out of the catch can, and if I took the oil filler cap off it was puffing out of there too. Left it for about 7 minutes to warm up and then shut it off to stop any further damage. Did tests with throttle plate closed and then open, and got the following results (note that 180psi would indicate a completely healthy cylinder and 150psi would be the danger threshold to tell you one’s going bad).
Cylinder 1: 145psi, 155psi
Cylinder 2: 155psi, 160psi
Cylinder 4: 140psi, 145psi
Cylinder 3: 0psi, 0psi
Signs weren’t good when I took the spark plug off piston 3 and smoke started coming out of it! So, as is said to usually be the case if a piston/ringland goes, it’s in cylinder 3. Hopefully the cylinder walls aren’t scored much and not much other damage has been done.
So I’ve got a rebuild on the cards earlier than I wanted and an unplanned one at that. Due to my ongoing work situation, I don’t want to go all out on forged internals so I think I am going to do a budget compromise. Am looking to get a set of Evo VIII or IX pistons & rods, and drop those in with a couple of other bits. It’s sounding like the tuning shop might want to take the engine out so it’s not going to be a so cheap, but it will get me on the road again and give me a bit more safety with the power I’m making for the foreseeable future anyway. So I’ve just got to find myself a set of late Evo pistons that don’t cost an arm & a leg to get sent to Okinawa.
Will report more on the full details of the rebuild soon, but thought I owed you an update on the situation. It would have come earlier but have just been so busy with work and such.
Driving home last night and put my foot down a little on one straight stretch of road close to home. It felt unusually sluggish building up boost and had a bit of a misfire so I let off the throttle and cruised home, the engine sounding rough & misfiring. Shut the engine off at home and opened the engine bay. Can’t say I was ecstatic at what I saw.
The engine bay was covered in oil, looking like it had come from the oil filler cap on the valve cover. I cleaned up some of the excess oil, as well as cleaning the spark plugs and wires (as a bit of oil had gone under the wires and down into where the plugs were). Crossed my fingers and started the engine. The car was idling rough and trying to die on me. My air:fuel ratio was also very lean (although the car was misfiring too, which can make the ratios very misleading). Vacuum lines and everything look to be secure and nothing else out of the ordinary.
Started the car up this morning and almost straight away the exhaust and catch can started smoking. Maybe serves me right for ignoring a coupele of puffs of smoke from the catch can a few days ago after I had been driving it hard. Need to do a compression test on the engine this coming weekend. That checks the compression level in each cylinder and will basically tell me if it’s something internal in the engine that has gone or some other part of the car. Am hoping for the best but thinking I could have either cracked a piston or my ring lands. Either way, it’s not a 5-minute, drop-in-a-new-part fix.
Just what I need when I’m supposed to be starting that part time teaching job from Monday. That’s not going to be happening now as I’m rendered pretty much immobile until this gets sorted. Anyone out there had any similar problems and can offer me a ray of light?
Thacko Photography is the next site that I will cast my critical eye over. First of all, as an English teacher by trade, one of the things I notice first when I read an article are spelling and grammar mistakes. And this site is unfortunately full of them. By no means am I being critical about people who might have trouble with spelling, but all common internet browsers these days have either spell checkers built in or available as add-ons. Please leave a comment if you don’t have one of these and I will give you direct links to download one. It makes the site look a lot more professional, as writing “u” instead of “you” just looks lazy.
Right – enough about spelling and grammar and onto the site itself. This site is kind of a photoblog meets personal online journal and does a reasonable job of both. Articles, minus the spelling and grammar mistakes, are clean and concise, giving full descriptions of work that has been done on the car. One thing which could be a great help for people in the future might be to illustrate the work that is done on the cars. This means that not only will people be able to read about what you have done, but also that readers will be able to see exactly what you have done which might help them with the same modifications.
Quite a few things are mentioned that have happened on other sites or previously on this site, but there are no links to find those related posts. This is a good opportunity to keep users on your site looking at different articles, so they don’t just view the front page and move on.
The photos are very good but the site itself just needs a few finishing touches to it. Get a WordPress theme made for 1024×768 screens, get a spell checker for when writing posts and keep on snapping away with the camera!
Have a look at Thacko Photography here: http://www.thackophotography.com/
If you want your site reviewing here with no catches whatsoever, then leave a comment below or check out this post for full information
Barely days after I was offered an interview for the NGO, Peace Boat, that my trials and tribulations in finding work post-August have taken yet another turn. I received a response from a private English school that I’d sent a CV off to yesterday afternoon. Said they had read it and were interested in talking to me. So I went last night and was chatting to the co-owner for over an hour. He was telling me about the school and what they were looking for (ideally someone who would start no part-time and then it could maybe lead to more hours in the future). The set-up sounded pretty good despite it being a small school and I said I was interested and would like to observe a class this coming week with one eye lokoing towards the future.
Got a call first thing this morning from the guy and he was asking if I would liek to start working for them part time starting from next week, teaching 2 evenings a week and on Saturdays. The classes would be small numbers of adults who want to learn good English and pay decent amounts for doing so. But the sceptic in me is just keeping me from jumping on it. My issue is not needing work now but in August, although taking this job on might open things up for me in the future and would definitely help me towards paying the bills after my current contract expires. They also said they were looking for someone to work for them long term (which they have not had in the past), and while that would be great for me, I do really want to keep my options open for other full-time work that I might be able to get (including the Peace Boat placement).
It’s a tough one, and needs some thinking about in the next few days before I meet this guy again on Sunday. I can also use a clause in my current work contract to decline the offer but need to think about what is in my best interests, both now and in the future. Apologies for this type of writing – I usually try to keep personal stuff off this site but it is always good to hear the opinions of others. What would you do in my situation?
Like many, you probably thought that once you bought your early Evo/DSM that it would be the end of money spent on it. Sure, maintenance would have to be done but the car was pretty quick from the off and you surely wouldn’t want it to go quicker. And then you upgrade one part and you can feel the difference it makes. Your mindset then changes to one of “I’ll just get this one upgrade, and then I’ll be happy with the power/handling” and before you realise it, you’ve spend the GDP of a small country on the car.
But there are a multitude of upgrades available and knowing what to choose can sometimes be a daunting prospect. I’d like to think I have done pretty well with my car (a mid 11s car in the 1/4 mile and full daily driver) and so wanted to give you my top 10 tips for upgrading your Evo I-III/DSM.
- Have a plan. Before you make any real upgrades you should decide what you want out of the car and therefore the areas you need to look at. For example, a car made purely for drag racing is going to have different requirements for power and handling to a car made for touge or gymkhana. A lot of people just throw money at the car trying to buy every upgrade they can. While this car give you a nice looking car which performs well, it might be a jack-of-all trades and master of none. At this time, also determine if the car will also be a daily driver or whether it will be a weekend/race car only. If the latter then you’ll be able to strip out the interior to save weight, but you’ll be losing a lot of home comforts.
- Maintenance. Upgrading your car usually means pushing stock components past their normal operating limits. In order to keep reliability high you’ll want to make sure a full service is done for the car (including timing belt change, if not done in the past 5 years, and balancer belt if you still have balance shafts). Also, do a full fluid change for the car, which means engine oil, gearbox oil, transfer box and rear diff, brake fluid, clutch fluid and coolant. That means everything is fresh and you know what time your service intervals start at. I will talk about service intervals for your car in a future post.
- Get some air in your lungs. One of the first things you should look to do is change the restrictive air filter that your stock Evo is equipped with. A lot of people will go for the HKS Super Power Flow Induction Kit, and indeed I did have that on my car for around 18 months. However, the foam filters do get dirty easily and the cleaning qualities of the HKS filter is not good, as shown by this set of reviews. Plus I have read of the foam filters getting sucked into the turbos of some cars (not an issue with the standard MAF on the Evos but still something to consider). I currently have the Apexi Power Intake (see right) and can highly recommend it. Its filtering is excellent, offers a very nice increase in low and mid-range power, and does not have to be replaced unlike the foam elements in the HKS kit. It costs a little more but works out cheaper after around a year of use. The Apexi filter also comes with a nice heat shield to keep some of the engine bay heat (which does get pretty high in a bay containing a 4G63 engine) away from the intake.
- Adding fuel to the fire. A car needs 2 basic things to function: oxygen and fuel. We have helped the former immensely by getting a new air filter (and possibly intake pipe), but a steady supply of fuel is vital to keep the engine performing when you put the foot down. A Walbro 255l/hr fuel pump is a very popular upgrade, and with good reason as it will support the power requirements for all but the most potent Evos. Do be wary when you get the Walbro though, and especially if you buy from Ebay. There are quite a few Chinese knock-off Walbros being sold as genuine at the moment, and fuelling is something you do not want to sacrifice on just to save a few pennies. The last thing you want is the fuel pump packing up just as you’re flying down the drag strip, starving your engine of fuel and potentially causing serious damage. One thing to be aware of though is that the new fuel pump (especially with a “fuel pump rewire) can cause too much fuel to flow through and it might overrun the stock fuel pressure regulator. I can highly recommend a Sard fuel pressure regulator and fuel pressure meter. The Sard can handle the most pressure and is the best performing of the bunch, and will ensure just enough fuel gets to the engine.
- Power is nothing without control. “What are you talking about brakes for? I just wanna go fast!” is a common phrase from people who are starting out on the upgrade path, but is something that needs addressing. After all, it is more important to be able to stop when you need to than to be able to go. The Evos brakes are not too bad to start with, although on a circuit they will experience brake fade pretty quickly. Put in some DOT 4 brake fluid, along with a set of decent brake pads (I use Project Mu B-Spec pads front and rear, and you can see them to the right) and your driving will feel much more assured. If you want to go one step further then look at a set of braided brake lines (HEL and Goodridge seem to have the best deals for the Evo I-III) and a Cusco Brake Stopper and you’ll be more confident, meaning later braking into the corners and a much safer drive.
- Show your support. Support and stability for the car are vital when you start upgrading, very much so when you are planning to throw the car around the corners but even for straightline drag racing too. Tower strut bars can be picked up relatievly cheaply and you should get front and rear, upper and lower if you have the budget for it. They stiffen the chassis up and once again will have you cornering with confidence.
- Extreme logging. Am sure you’re getting frustrated and want to get to the bits that will make us go faster, but bear with me. My tips are done in this way for a reason. One of the reasons I have had relative success with my tuning and upgrades so far is that everything has been done in a balanced way, with close monitoring of my car’s health. Boost and oil pressure gauges are pretty much a must at this point, and a wideband will help you in the future as you increase the boost and start tuning. Alongside the standard gauges though you should really consider a datalogging device. The best one I have seen for the early Evo is Pocketlogger, and it can be combined with a dirt cheap but compatible PDA from Ebay. This little device plugs into your car’s OBDI diagnostic port and is able to log a number of variables, from rpm to ignition timing to the all important engine knock levels. You can then view these logs on the PDA itself (see left) or download to your PC and analyse them there. This provides an invaluable tool for monitoring your engine’s health as you do any testing.
- Breathe in… breathe out. What goes into your car must go out, and old adage is certainly true when we talk about gases. The stock Evo exhaust system can be a little restrictive and money spent on a cat-back exhaust system (that is, one running from the catalytic converter back to the muffler) will result in a much more powerful sound coming from your car as well as an increase in performance. I would go one step further and recommend that, if you can, you should replace the catalytic converter with a straight pipe, which is exactly what it sounds like. I should note though that this modification may be illegal in your country, and I would recommend checking with the local authorities before removing the catalytic converter. It could also cause you to fail the emissions test in your country.
- Boooooooooooost! Yes, we’re almost at the point where we can turn up the boost. But how do you do it? The answer is a boost controller. There are 2 main types of boost controller, a simple manual controller or a more complex electronic boost controller. The former are cheaper and have a strong following in the DSM community, where the Hallman Boost Controller gets some excellent reviews. I opted for the extra features of the Blitz Dual SBC Spec S boost controller and haven’t looked back. Four different boost settings, a boost warning if it gets too high, and very accurate control of your boost has made it a no-brainer for me. The Spec S is also reasonably priced and is currently holding around 1.6bar of boost on my car without any problems.
- Baby steps. Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ll be able to increase the boost from the stock 0.7bar levels to around 0.8 or 0.9 bar and, providing your gauges and logger are not showing up any big problems, should be feeling a much quicker car. But take things very slowly and don’t assume because you had no problems going to 0.9bar that you can immediately crank up the boost to 1.9 bar as things don’t work like that. Keep things conservative, especially if the car is a daily driver. You should be aiming for zero knock.
Obviously, this is an initial guide and I haven’t even started to talk about fuel controllers, blow off valves, standalone engine management systems etc. But hopefully it’s given you a thing or two to think about. Do you have any more tips you’d offer people starting on the road to tuning nirvana?
Should also add that if you’re looking to get hold of Japanese parts for your car then let me know. Some of the prices that UK import companies charge for parts is extortionate compared to what they can be picked up for here (and example would be the Blitz Dual SBC Spec S boost controller: costs around ₤300 in the UK but only ₤170 in Japan). I can get most JDM parts and would be more than happy to help you out in these days of a bad economy.
Most people who come to Japan remark that the country’s cleanliness is one of the things that stands out to them first of all. But if you take a look a little deeper under the surface then something you will see is a deep-set passion for tobacco, as this picture will testify.
This top did make me smile. In a world where, in most developed countries tobacco has lost its fashionable touch and increasing numbers of places are becoming smoke-free, it’s great to see Japan selling T-shirts with I (heart) Cigarette on! I don’t even want to try and comprehend the slogan below the title. Every time I look at it and try to make it into something that mere mortals can understand it just makes my head hurt.
But while this is an Engrish post with a little humour, I will raise a more serious point here, and that is the acceptable nature of tobacco that remains in Japan. This may be an Okinawan thing as my experiences in mainland are limited, but it does seem to be a situation of hypocracy. The length of Kokusai Dori in Naha (the main shopping street in Okinawa’s prefectural capital), but smoking is still allowed in restaurants, with a lot of places still lacking no-smoking areas. Once you get out of the cities and into the rural community then it seems to increase.
An example of this is when I went to a local cafe/family restaurant a couple of weeks ago with my girlfriend and her daughter. We could see the place was almost full as we walked in and the first thing that hit us when we opened the door was a wall of smoke. Every table that night had at least two people who were smoking, and it’s all you could smell or taste in the air. We were waiting to order and asked the table between us and the wall if they could open the adjacent window a little to let some fresh air in. The guy we asked looked disgusted at the request and slid open the window by about 2-3″. 20 seconds later I noticed him glance back over to us and closed the window again. After 10 minutes my girlfriend’s daughter was just coughing through all the smoke so we just walked out, out clothes and hair reeking of smoke.
You do wonder sometimes when Japan will start to join other countries and become a place where tobacco is not seen as so acceptable. Am not saying it should be banned completely, but it’s all about respect and being respectful when you’re smoking.