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An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/getting-healthy-in-leeds-with-v-physique-body-by-design/

Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]

 

Posts Tagged ‘Cars’

Black Onyx Pacesetters (Okinawa Chapter) Charity Car Wash Event

Posted By Dave on July 16th, 2013

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/black-onyx-pacesetters-okinawa-chapter-charity-car-wash-event/

Went to a nice little event this past Sunday here in Okinawa at Kadena Marina.  The Black Onyx Black Onyx Pacesetters M/CPacesetters (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 anyone waiting to get their car washed, and all credit to the people stood outside in the baking sun all day.  I was just stood in the shade and I was burning up.

The Black Onyx Pacesetters are a motorcycle club originally from Tennessee, but now with various chapters all over the US, and now in Okinawa.  Their goal, as listed on their website, is:

…to be positive role models to the youth and aid in the development of the community.  We will strive to represent the Black Onyx Pacesetters M/C with respect, honor and to uphold the By-Laws, as well as the laws of the community.  We do fully intend to ride, support and enjoy cycling.

887303_10151649225046245_1058497805_o.jpgIt was with this goal in mind that they decided to hold a car wash, with money raised going to charity.  You could go along, get your car washed by members of the Black Onyx Pacesetters and some of the very photogenic ladies from The Kandi Girls (a group of electronic/rave music dancers here in Okinawa), and then head over and donate whatever you can.  You then get a ticket which can be handed over at another tent for freshly fried fish, potato salad and soft drinks while you wait.  Throw some beautiful weather into the mix and it made for a perfect event, and one I hope was very well supported.  There were quite a few cars coming and going in the hour I was there, so fingers crossed that continued throughout the rest of the day.

Black Onyx Pacesetters M/C & Kandi Girls car wash

The Pacesetters have said they have plans to try and hold these types of charity events every month, and I’m sure as word gets round a little more then the numbers and amount raised will increase.  Only thing I could think of from a car guy’s point of view is maybe holding it a little later in the day.  Something from mid afternoon to early evening would get people coming out as the temperature starts to go down a little, and the chance of a great sunset if it’s at Kadena Marina again, and finally a lot of the car folks might go down there and then stay out for a drive afterwards.

But all in all a very good event, and well worth supporting.  I’ll try and post up in advance of the next one, and get the word out to a few more people.  As long as people keep coming out, these events will keep being put on and money will keep getting raised for those that need it.  A couple more pictures from the event are here, if you’re interested.

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It’s Been a While…

Posted By Dave on May 30th, 2012

Just looked at the site and realized how long it’s been since I was hammering at the keyboard in anger.  Either raising awareness about radioactive waste being pencilled in to come to Okinawa for storage, or my constant woes with the cursed Evo, I’ve not usually taken this much of a break.  And I’m back, but without a clear idea of what I should talk about.

I could talk about the fact that it seems like summer is here now in Okinawa, and came overnight a week last Monday.  Right now it’s a beautiful 27C outside with just 54% humidity.  That’s much more preferable to the 90% we’ll be subjected to in a few weeks when things really ramp up.  It’s not the heat that most people have trouble with when they come to Okinawa; it’s the intense and unrelenting humidity.  Still, I shouldn’t complain after the winter and spring we’ve had.  The reservoirs aren’t going to be short of any water this year, that’s for sure.

The car… ah yes, the car.  Well I have considered getting an exorcist for it, but I could just imagine it spitting out oil & coolant as the words “The power of Christ compels you” comes from an old and young priest!  I forget where I was the last time with the car, but in the past month or so I’ve grabbed a couple of new tyres, as I realised when driving in the wet that the ones I’d got were shot.  And I have no intentions of repeating what happened with my first Evo with tyres in less than good condition and wet Okinawan roads.  I have been doing a fair amount of tuning and the car is feeling scary quick once it gets up to speed, although it does take a little while for the big old turbo to spool up.  A little more than I think it should to be honest.  Part of it is one of my cheap wastegates leaking and letting some boost pressure out, and doing some more checking I found that my injector seals were… what’s the word… shot to hell.  There was air leaking out of the seals and I don’t think there was one of them in good condition.  So they got replaced in the past few days which should improve things a fair bit.  And then I had the joy of an 8-month old Mitsubishi wheel stud breaking when I was changing tyres.  Just don’t ask…

I could talk about work, and how I’m thinking of making some substantial changes in the next 12 months.  Possibly looking at moving away from teaching, in Japan at least.  Have got some concerns that in 10-15 years I don’t still want to be an “Assistant” Language Teacher, with the same salary as people  in the same position as me had 20 years ago, with no chance of a bonus and no chance of career advancement.  I’ve had it in my mind for a month or 2 now, but am thinking of possibly getting back into something else I’m reasonably knowledgeable about: computers.  My contract with the school runs until at least April next year, which gives me time to study the area of computing I want to get into, and hopefully get some certifications under my belt to make me a little more employable if it comes to it.  We’ll see – maybe I’ll get 6 months into studying it and realise it’s not something I want to do as a career, but you never know these things unless you jump headfirst into them and take a chance.

I could talk about any or all of these things, but right now it’s 1730 and I’m still making duplicates of CDs for teachers so I’d better get to it.  Will get back to the keyboard very soon…

It’s Alive.. ALIVE!!!!!

Posted By Dave on February 2nd, 2012

After a downtime of over 3 months, just after 21:00 Japan Standard Time on Sunday January 29th 2012, the key was turned and my Evo finally breathed into life once more. But what a mission it was to get it there. What I thought would take just over an hour on Sunday morning ended up being 12 hours of constant work without any food or drink breaks. The battery got connected up relatively easily and without major incident, and that was where the simplicity ended.

When that was wired in I was able to connect the battery and see if everything did. My boost controller, fan controller and wideband did, but they stayed on when I pulled the key out! Realised I’d tapped into the wrong wire under the dash so had to redo that, and then a few other bits of wiring. That needed sorting out.

The oil line was re-cut and fit, but it is running pretty close to the exhaust manifold. I’ve got heat reflective tape on it but might have to replace the aluminium pipe with steel (higher melting point). Gonna try and do some testing as to how much heat the tape will reflect. With that done it was time to get the laptop connected, turn on the new fuel pump and check for leaks in the new fuel lines we’d made…

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Which we could have done, except we had pretty much no fuel pressure. The gauge should have been recording 43psi of fuel pressure and was barely getting over 10psi. Not what should be happening. So it either meant the fuel pump was bad or the Sard fuel pressure regulator. As the pump was brand new we decided to put the stock regulator back on. And this is where things got a little fun. The line was braided steel which doesn’t flex too easily, but we could get it to run to the stock fuel pressure regulator with a bit of rerouting. My friend helped pull it through partly, but then needed me to grab it from under the intake manifold and pull it through the rest of the way. So I stuck my hand right under the manifold and just about grabbed it and was pulling it through. It was at that point that I discovered that braided steel touching the starter motor with the battery connected can cause a lot of sparks and a fair bit of pain. Not to mention this was a line that goes, unblocked, direct into the fuel tank and just minutes before had fuel flowing through it. Yeah… that could have ended very badly for me and the street.

But after about 10 minutes I had regained the feeling in my left hand(!) and was ready to go again. The left hand has taken a bit of a beating in the past week, with dropping a soldering iron on my wrist last week when both hands got a bit stuck, and giving myself a nice 3/4” 2nd degree burn. So after that having almost 80 amps go through that hand was just a bit tingly! But we got the line rerouted and connected up to the stock regulator, turned the fuel pump and looked at the gauge. And we saw… not a lot.

Still 10psi of pressure, which meant that something was wrong with the pump. The sun had gone down now and I was getting pretty tired, but was so close so I couldn’t really give up here. Pulled the fuel pump out and had a look at it. Looks like when I’d changed the fuel pumps over at the start of the build, I hadn’t transferred a spacer that keeps an o-ring in there securely. Because of that, the first time it built up pressure, the o-ring popped out and it couldn’t build up again. Put the spacer and a bigger o-ring in there and put the pump back in. Was dark now and I was pretty much down to my last chance to start the car up. Fired up the fuel pump and secured the hoses… pressure was 43psi and there were no leaks. Looking much better.

DSC_0046.JPG

Turned the key and the starter turned a few times before finally the engine caught and it fired up. There were a few big exhaust leaks but considering that it was a first startup it was running pretty well. I did a bit of logging with the computer and everything seemed to be just about right where it should be. Success!

A bit more playing around since has revealed that our work on the cooling system and custom radiator may have paid dividends. At idle, even revving the engine for a while, we couldn’t get coolant temperatures to rise above 85C. That is even better than we thought; as soon as the thermostat opens the radiator cools the coolant and it closes back up again. As our main cooling worries were when it was stood, then it’s a very promising sign.

So just a few more loose ends to tie up inside the car and out, and I should be mobile in the very near future. Expect videos and much more interesting

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pictures very soon.

 

Posted in News

Evo III Project: Almost there!

Posted By Dave on January 13th, 2012

My turbo finally came in! Unfortunately it was not the one I originally ordered, which is still MIA after over 115 days now. But the second replacement one which I ordered just 6 days ago and had shipped by Priority Mail from the US. Yeah… I’ve learned not to go by the cheaper Parcel Post option in the future. Insurance claim is going through though and hopefully it won’t be long until I’m refunded in full.

So with a 6-blade HX-40 with a .84 housing on the backside of it as my centrepiece, I now have pretty much everything I need to complete the car. There are a couple of little extras that I’m waiting on to be delivered, but the main stuff is all ready to be finished or fabricated and put onto the car. Finally there’s an end in sight for this project which has taken a fair bit longer than I envisaged.

Have been up to quite a bit though since the last update. I’d got myself a custom radiator from Winner Racing but was yet to do anything with it. That has now been rectified. I have been able to mount 2 fans onto the radiator as pullers; much more efficient than the pusher fans I was originally thinking I would have to use. Now the fan slots in right where the air conditioning condenser block used to go, which is right under the front horizontal brace (for want of a better term). This meant of course cutting out the bonnet latch, but in doing so brought a lot of weakness to that bar. So to bring back a bit of strength to the front end, brackets in the brace and the front horizontal crossmember were made, and a vertical steel bar cut and bolted in place. It fits perfectly just behind the radiator fans, adds more support than the stock bar ever did, and can easily be unbolted and removed if additional access is needed.

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And also at the front end, the intercooler has been bracketed and fitted, and looks pretty nice. And the inlet and outlets have been modified slightly so they fit perfectly with my setup. There’s a little but not too much clearance between the radiator and intercooler, and it’s mounted securely from the bottom and side. Should work very nice.

DSC_0040.JPG

In other areas of the car, gearshifts have been tightened up with some solid bushings for the shifter forks, and the shifter assembly itself. Fuelling for now should be sorted out with the SARD Fuel pressure regulator I bought, being provided fuel by a Walbro 255 fuel pump.

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This car’s gonna go pretty fast so getting it to stop pretty fast is also helpful. While I had already done the brake swap from an FC, I decided to go for a bigger brake master cylinder which will give more push to the bigger brake caliper pistons. Master cylinders from the Evo V-VI GSR (the ones with Brembo brakes) work as a perfect upgrade as they just bolt right on up there.

I hate car electrics and the feeling seems to be mutual. I have made a slight effort though and have been working on a few of the electrical jobs that are ahead of me. I have got myself a Billion VFC-Pro fan controller which will act as both a coolant temperature gauge, and also a trigger to fire those fans into action. Helping with the cooling will also be a HKS oil cooler thermostat, which opens at 75C as opposed to 100C for the stock one. Should start the cooling process a little earlier. My Integral knock meter has been relocated right in front of the speedo and the speaker for it close by. Down near the radio wasn’t visible at all and this meter could be the things that potentially saves the engine if something goes wrong, so I wanted it somewhere I won’t miss it. Things still to do on this front involve finishing wiring up the fans, wiring up the wideband (and tapping into the ECU), and relocating the battery to the boot.

And there are still jobs in the engine bay too. Now the turbo is here we can finish making the exhaust, as well as fabricate the intake pipe and the oil return line from turbo to engine. But fingers crossed it might not be too long until you see a video clip up here of the car starting up and getting ready for action. About time too!

Posted in News

More Progress on the Evo III Project

Posted By Dave on December 1st, 2011

Got some more progress on the project to turn my 1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III into a drag car  to report. although my turbo is now 68 days since it has been shipped and there’s still no sign of it.  Getting more than a little worried about it but I can’t start to file a claim or anything on it until 90 days have passed.  But there’s plenty still to do before the turbo bolts on so no point dwelling on it at the moment.

To start with, even though that radiator I bought was going to fit, it would be very touch and go whether it would cool well enough, and when I’m making the power I’m aiming to, “touch and go” isn’t very reassuring.  I was looking all over for someone that would do the radiator that I wanted (a very specific size and thickness) at a half-decent price.  I was getting crazy quotes of $500-1000 for a custom built radiator which I just couldn’t justify, but then I came across an Ebay seller called Winner Racing.  They said they made custom-built radiators so I got in touch with them and they couldn’t have been more knowledgeable and helpful.  $280 got me a radiator made exactly to my specifications, including shipping to me, and it was 7 days exactly from me confirming the order to receiving it.  I can highly recommend the seller if anyone is looking for something custom and doesn’t want to mortgage the house to buy it.  Gotta love “Made in China” 😉

And as well as some other little bits coming through I also got hold of some AeroCatch bonnet latches.  As the front bonnet catch was going to be cut out, I had to have a way of holding the bonnet down.  The traditional latches are ok, although they are not lockable in general, and they are actually banned on some circuits in the world for being unsafe (although we don’t have a circuit in Okinawa anyway so not a huge issue for me!).  But they look good being flush to the bonnet so I decided to get them.  They should be a nice finishing touch too on the body.

Now with all that out of the way, onto a little work done on the car.  With the tight clearances between things in the engine bay, I can’t afford to have any engine movement, especially when shifting at high rpm.  Ralliart have ufortunately stopped their competition-spec rubber engine mounts so I had to get a bit creative here.  So I got one front engine mount, like so…

And I added some caulking from the local DIY shop for very little money…

Put it into the gaps between the rubber in the engine mount and then left it 48 hours to try.  Ended up with this…

DSC_0023.JPGGot it put back in and now physically it’s very difficult to move the engine so I think it should have stiffened it up nicely.

Lots more work done, but this post is getting long so expect another update in the next day or so telling more about what I’ve been up to.

Posted in Cars

Okinawa Motor Carnival 2011

Posted By Dave on September 25th, 2011

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/okinawa-motor-carnival-2011/

Today and tomorrow Yomitan Village in Okinawa is hosting the annual Okinawa Motor Carnival.  It’s an event where cars of all types can enter to display their hard work and where a lot of their money has gone!  Drag racers, drifting, imports & classics are all represented here, and all the entry fees and proceeds are going to the earthquake relief fund.

I headed over to the event today and managed to snap a few pictures.  I was quite impressed with the event on the whole; there were a few cars I’ve not seen before, and in particular some open-wheeled cars which I love getting up close and personal to.

I’ve put all the presentable photos up in my gallery here.  You can take a look at some of my personal favourites below.  Hope you like them!

See all the pictures in my gallery by clicking here

 

Featured Car of the Month – July

Posted By Dave on July 6th, 2011

A bit of a monthly feature here.  Have been asked to do a writeup for a “featured card of the month” on the evo123.net website.  While only being marginally literate, I’ve accepted and will also be posting the writeups on here for anyone that’s interested.  So here we go with the car for July…

Sometimes it’s the subtle things you do, the things that often go unnoticed by all but a trained eye, that make the biggest difference. Kevin’s (aka kev_evo1gsr) 1992 Evo I GSR is one of those cars. You won’t see any wide wheel arches, huge GT-style wing or aggressively low stance that rubs every speedbump you drive over. What you’ll find is a car that’s had the money spent exactly where it needs it.

Despite having an Evo now, Kevin still regards himself as a Ford man at heart. He was interested in cars and engines since leaving school, and cut his teeth playing and modifying with n/a Capris and Sierras. He only came across an Evo just over 12 months ago, when he saw his father-in-law selling his. It had been in the UK since 2005 and had no problems until the heater matrix blew, along with another couple of issues, causing the car to be off the road for a year. Kevin helped to put the Evo back on the road and then bought it from his father-in-law for a bargain price of just 1000 pounds.

The mods have continued since Kevin has owned the car, but he’s thought carefully about what he needed and didn’t just throw money at it. A budget boost controller was thrown in there to reliably manage boost pressure, along with a custom-made exhaust manifold. To ensure that the boost pressure goes exactly where it should (i.e. to the engine), a Forge adjustable BOV was put in to replace the notoriously leaky stock one. Engine management is handled by a HS Engineering Stage 2 chip at the moment, although Kevin’s got his eyes on an Ostrich to maximise the power his engine mods are giving him.

Speaking of that, we should take a little look at the engine bay. In the engine we’ve got a set of Evo 9 pistons and rods connected to a reground crankshaft and ACL race shells. Connecting block and head is a Cometic MLS headgasket with a set of ARP head studs making sure that everything stays exactly where it should. While this rebuild was taking place he took time to modify the fuelling, throwing in a Walbro 255, doing the all-important fuel pump rewire, and fitting an adjustable fuel regulator in to make sure the engine gets just the right amount of fuel. The turbo was looked at next, and a custom intake was fabricated and allows the turbo to throw out 20psi and no overboosting, courtesy of a Forge adjustable actuator.

Kevin’s got plans for the future that include an intercooler, larger injectors, and a mappable ECU so he can add another string to his bow. And his love for the old RWD Fords means that a Team Orange-esque RWD conversion would never be too far away! But for now, Kevin’s build goes to show that you can have a lot of fun with a daily driver without compromising on reliability.

Drivetrain: Exedy Clutch, Exedy lightened flywheel, braided steel clutch line

Engine: Evo IX pistons & rods, reground crankshaft, ACL race shells, ARP conrod bolts, ARP headstuds, Cometic 1.6mm headgasket, removed balance shafts, ITG air filter with custom-made intake, relocated battery, custom-made exhaust manifold, alloy radiator, slimline fan a/c removed, 3” cat-back exhaust with straight pipe, HS engineering Stage 2 chip, Walbro 255 fuel pump, adjustable fuel pressure regulator,560cc injectors, Evo III 16G turbo, Forge adjustable actuator, Forge recirculating BOV.

Other: Tein coilovers, braided steel brake lines

Thanks: to everyone on evo123.net for all their advice and helping me understand the way of the Evo’s. And also my fiancé for putting up with me working on it almost constantly

Posted in Cars

Getting a Shaken For The Evo

Posted By Dave on June 19th, 2011

The Evo was running when I last spoke, and it surprises me to say that it’s still running now (or at least did last night; who knows the next time I turn the key!).  After getting the coolant leaks sorted out it was time to start getting it ready for it’s inspection: the shaken.

I’ve talked about the Shaken before (aka JCI for those of you SOFA status folks who speak Americanish), and how I despise it in general.  It’s the 2-yearly inspection that is pretty much done to make someone a lot of money.  Not too sure at this point but a lot of my money’s definitely going somewhere.  It can cost a huge amount to do, especially if your car has any… ahem… modifications that need to be reverted back to stock in order to pass.

First step in my preparations was actually getting the car to move under its own steam, which it hadn’t done in around a year.  Got in, started the engine and let everything warm up.  Couldn’t go on any extended drives as the car was out of inspection, not taxed/registered and most definitely not insured, but a little evening jaunt about 100m down the road and back wouldn’t hurt it.  Despite it making all sorts of creaking and grinding noises from brakes breaking free and suspension moving around for the first time in a year, it made it down the street, turned round, came back and stopped.  Result!

The car didn’t need to much to be honest for it to be ready for inspection.  The catalytic converter had to be put back on, as well as the car being lifted (the lowest point has to be above about 10cm and it wasn’t at the time).  But all the lights worked and it had markings near the gearstick to show which gear is where.  Seriously, if you need a diagram to explain where you should be looking to find the next gear then you shouldn’t be driving at all.  But I digress.

The only worrying thing was the ABS warning light being on.  Not a whole lot is known about some parts of this car, and it’s tough to get a concrete answer as to what could be causing it.  I spend a few weekends pulling pads off, cleaning ABS sensors, completely flushing the brake fluid and replacing it with new stuff.  In the end I called the garage and told them my worry.  Was reassuringly told that an ABS warning light will not cause it to fail inspection, but that my seatbelt light had to be working perfectly.  The logic train once again missed Okinawa, but I wasn’t complaining.

And so off it went for its shaken and initial registration one morning.  I waited through the day for a call on the progress and on any problems that might have come up, but no call came.  Then at 5pm the phone rang and my mechanic was on the other end.  The Evo had passed inspection, was registered and ready for driving on public roads!  I have to tell you I was pretty pleased all in all.  It had taken me about 4 months which was a lot longer than I’d thought and came with a fair few unexpected hurdles, but it was running and road legal.  The only thing that had to be done to it for the inspection was to be raised about 1″ to pass the ground clearance regulations.  Everything else was a-ok.

So the car is on the road, now it’s time for modifications!

Posted in Cars

Continuing the Evo Resurrection

Posted By Dave on May 12th, 2011

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/continuing-the-evo-resurrection/

So when I left you with my last car update, I was just about to turn the key after a solo engine rebuild, and had all sorts of thoughts going through my head.  Was the car going to start?  Was the timing right?  Were the conrods tightened up right or were the pistons going to try and introduce themselves to the bonnet of my car?!

Well, none of the above actually.  The starter turned a few times but the engine didn’t show any real signs of starting up.  I tried again but this time put my foot down on the accelerator a little and it fired up momentarily with a bang from the exhaust and then died again.  Kept at it though and a few bangs later the car finally started up.  Although it didn’t have that familiar Evo engine sound.  To be honest it sounded more like the lovechild of a dirtbike and a tractor!  Take a listen

It wasn’t filling me with enthusiasm although the engine hadn’t exploded in a fireball so that was something I suppose.  Had no idea what the problem could be though.  It sounded like the timing was way off but I’d checked, double-checked and triple-checked when I put it back together that everything lined up.  I’d put new lifters in the car but the distinctive noise from them had died away very quickly.  Someone else said that the balance shaft of the car sounded like it was out by 180 degrees, which would contribute to the vibrations I was also getting at idle and then at around 2000rpm, but I could have sworn I’d checked that too.  But I must have made a mistake somewhere so I started to do some research and troubleshooting.

Started with airflow and made sure that everything was attached and that there weren’t any huge leaks but had no luck there.  I then went onto ignition for a quick check before I started tearing into the timing belt and taking all that side of the car apart again.  For an engine to fire it needs fuel, air, and a spark, and for the latter you need  good plugs and wires.  I bought some new plugs even though the old ones looked in fairly decent condition.  And then I went over to my spare engine to grab some spark plug leads to throw on.  I was just pulling them off and as I did I thought to myself, “Hang on a minute… those wires aren’t in the same order as the ones on my car!”  I went over to my engine and checked the spark plug wires.  Out of the 4 wires, 3 of them were going to the wrong spark plug connector!  So the signal for the spark was coming at completely the wrong time in the fuel/air injection cycle.  Not the most conducive thing for a well-running engine to say the least.  Rather embarrassed I changed the wires over to the right sockets and tried to start it up again.

This time after a few seconds the engine fired into life and was, quite literally, firing on all cylinders.  The engine was sounding strong and didn’t need any extra effort on the accelerator to keep it going.  Result!

I let it warm up fully and the engine made it’s typical post-rebuild smoking in the engine bay as all the grease and oil was burned off parts getting hot.  I kept topping up the radiator with coolant, and topping it up, and topping it up still.  After a fair few attempts at doing this I started getting a bit suspicious that the coolant was going somewhere and wasn’t being circulated or evaporating as it got hot.  A quick glance under the car confirmed my suspicions.  There then followed a process of me tightening up one hose or replacing it, only for the weak point in the cooling system to move somewhere else.  The cooling system was always something I had a concern about, knowing that that the engine had blown a headgasket but not known the reason.  Also, when I changed the water pump I didn’t expect the old one to look like an artificial coral reef!  Take a look:

So I went from one hose to another until I thought they were all sorted out and fired the car up again.  It seemed to be going great until it got to full working temperature and I dropped underneath the car again.  There was a leak and a pretty decent one coming somewhere from the front of the engine.  Shined a torch in there but couldn’t fathom where it was coming from.  The water was only coming when there was pressure in the system as it wasn’t leaking when it was cold.  I replaced the rubber turbo hoses down there but the leak kept on coming.  Eventually I had to resort to calling up a buddy and have him come over with a leak tester to find it.

This is basically a handpump with an adapter to fit it to the top of a radiator, where the cap would go.  You then pump it up to the required pressure and look around for the leak.  You’ve got no heat, noise and vibration so it should make the leak easy to find.  And so it did.  it was leaking from 3 pinholes in the main waterpipe running between the turbo engine.  Looks like a 16-year old pretty poorly done weld had given way and was way beyond any sort of repair.  I could have replaced it with a used one but decided to fork out for a new one so I was safe in the knowledge that it would be good for some time to come.

Fitted that up with a bit of effort and fired it up again.  Result – no coolant leaks!  Now there are a couple of other leaks (transfer box and one small leak at the front of the oil pan) but as long as the car passes inspection then it can be dealt with.  So the car starts and idles just about right… now to get it moving!

Posted in Cars

Resurrecting an Evo

Posted By Dave on April 26th, 2011

If you read the last post about the black Evo I bought in February then you’ll have correctly guessed that I had a bit of a job on bringing this thing back from the brink.  While there didn’t seem to be one major thing that was the source of the problem, it looked like a number of smaller problems had just compounded on top of each other and not been dealt with until I’ve picked the car up.

Before the rust could get taken care of at the body shop, the car needed to be driven there.  In order to do that, the headgasket had to be rebuilt and the internals checked out in case there was any other damage.  And so i set about taking the cylinder head off the engine.  It hen became clear to me that someone had attempted to do some repairs on the car but completely messed them up.  Not one, not two but three bolts had broken off the rocker cover at the top of the engine.  These usually just have to be fingertight plus a little bit.  Looks like they had been torqued down until the point they break.  So do you get broken bolts drilled out and repaired the proper way?  Of course not, you just fill the hole in the cover with RTV sealant!  Again and again…  Piece of advice: RTV and bolts are not to be interchanged at will – they have different purposes and don’t give the same results!

When the engine was running previously I could see smoke and smell an exhaust leak.  It was soon easy to find out where it was coming from.  For a start, a number of the nuts holding the exhaust manifold onto the engine had been loosened and then not torqued back up, and one of the bolts connecting turbo to manifold had broken off (not replaced with RTV this time, praise the lord).  That was not good though, as it had meant that a hardened steel bolt which had been hardened further through heat cycling had been broken off in the turbo housing.  It had to be removed but I certainly didn’t have the tools or skills to do it.  In the end it took two or three carbide drill bits to get through the damn thing.  The turbo was dropped out of the car and the downpipe portion of the exhaust removed (the thing was nearly falling apart; lucky I have an aftermarket replacement to go on there straight away).  The picture below shows the “flexing” part of the original downpipe on there.

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And then it started to become clear that I would be wrestling a few issues I hadn’t expected.  When the turbo came off I took a look at the metal gasket to see if I could get by with using the same or whether it would need replacing.  Folks, this is how your gaskets will use if they are far too small for the passages they are going between:

That’s going to cause poor & disrupted airflow, and god knows what else.  And just for comparison, this is a correctly-sized replacement gasket with the older one below it.  Spot the difference!

The thing is, it takes effort to make something like that not fit.  The turbo has a sealing metal ring that is just smaller than the hole in this gasket, and it all fits together.  With the smaller gasket, someone must have made the decision to throw away the sealing ring on order for the gasket to fit on there.  The mind boggles sometimes…

With the head off the pistons and block were exposed.  The pistons were black from carbon deposits obviously, but the tops of them looked in reasonable condition.  That is no guarantee the ringlands at the side will be fine though, and my memory goes back to the pistons on the last 4G63 engine I rebuilt.  I could have bought brand new early Evo pistons, but was given the opportunity to pick up some low mileage Evo VIII pistons and connecting rods from the Cayman Islands in very good condition.  The main benefit of these later Evo pistons is that the tops of them are forged instead of the normal cast items, which I believe makes them somewhat lighter and stronger.  Sure they are not as good as fully forged items, but they were also not at the price of brand new forged pistons.  For my power requirements now and in the future they would be more than enough so I pounced on them.

The oil pan was dropped (and after many hours of wrestling with it I have found that unbolting the passenger side driveshaft on the gearbox makes it completely painless… typically I found this out after the event) and the pistons pushed out of the top of the block.  To be fair they looked in good enough condition, but you’re never sure how stressed they can be.  That’s especially the case when the headgasket has blown, the car overheated and plenty of other unknown factors being in there.  The good news was that the cylinders had no scoring and just needed a little bit of honing to make them ready for the pistons.  That was done, and the block and head cleaned up for the new composite headgasket (my least favourite job) before everything was put back together, some ARP head studs to make sure that the block and head stay right where they need to be.

Everything was put back together slowly, trying to make sure I didn’t mess anything up.  And once it was I was ready to turn the key.  I never have confidence with the stuff I do on my own with a car so was full of nerves when I put the key in the ignition and turned it.  As I did the car… well if you want to know what the car did you’ll have to wait a day or two as this post is getting a little too long!  Will tell you all very soon

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