Thursday, 25 February 2016

Driving... finally.

I should have been updating this more, but oh well. I am now. The car is driving again. Finally. So let me tell you the story. I'll try and stay with the main points. It's been a long last month or so in the shed. I didn't get a lot done over Christmas, but as the new year started we hit the shed hard. The 24th of January was D-day for easy rego.

After a week of toiling solidly every evening till 9pm, we couldn't get it to start. We fired up the system and instantly fuel leaked everywhere! Typical really. A few hours of tightening up fuel lines and fittings and generally checking things. Part of this is me being paranoid about over tightening the fittings and damaging threads on the fuel lines. So they were under tightened. Lots of teflon tape fixed it. Thankfully, my mechanic is a great guy and we organized a pink slip for the car.

The next week or so was spent stuffing around with the ignition. A few things happened. Firstly, we figured out Subaru ignitors switch with 12v, not the 5v the Microsquirt puts out.

 Subaru Ignitors

The basic upshot of this was, the 5v only partially opens the semiconductor in the transistor. It opens enough to allow the voltage through, not enough to do it without massive resistance. So A; there is a voltage drop and B; there is MASSIVE heat. Enough heat to fry all three ignitors. That's right. We fried THREE ignitors. The one in the middle cost me $230. An expensive mistake. 

That left us with 2 different options.
1. Bosch ignitor recommended by the megamanual. $160
2. Use the VW Golf ignitor/coilpacks recommended in the megamanual for wasted spark. $120

So you can get what we did. Besides, I should be using VW parts, right? Straight away we started having issues again. Spark at coil, power to the ignitor, etc, but no spark at the plugs. It took me a few days to trace the problem, I finally found it. 

And I felt like a tool.


Coz basically, the lead ends for the VW coil require female ends and it should have been obvious to me, but no. I didn't even get it. Anyhow, I order in some new clips and put them on the leads and we were away. Or were we...

During this process, my cheap timing light died twice. The second time was permanent. So time for a new one of those too. I'll probably never use it again. Typical.


It time to try and start it.  It was kicking occasionally, but it would not fire up. This was especially frustrating, because Emil (my wiring guy) and I had been dotting I's and crossing T's. He's anal and I was terrified of ruining a $4k engine. It would get to a power stroke and then rock backwards. Lots of stuffing around ensued and then on a whim, Emil swapped the feed wires for the 2 coil. Instantly, it started.

Sure, it was running like a bag of spanners, but at least it was running. So, time to tune it and drive it right? Ummm, not exactly. After running the car a few times, it realized a few things.

1. I couldn't hear the turbo spinning.
2. There was a worrying clattering sound coming from around the alternator.

1. Turbo dramas
Once the engine had cooled down I put my fingers in the turbine (intake) end and found the turbo wasn't turning. It would free up one way once I turned it backwards. This happened twice. On the second occasion I discovered the turbine nut was actually LOOSE! That was pretty scary. After scouring the interweb for torque settings, I pulled the exhaust off and did the nut up tight with a drop of blue threadlock.

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn't. Having run the motor again and let it cool. I found the turbo still wasn't turning freely. This time I had no choice. Turbo off. As I turned the turbo housing over in my hands, this fell out of the exhaust housing...

I won't tell you I wasn't horrified. It was like all your worst nightmares coming true all at once. What on earth was it and what the heck was it doing in a freshly rebuilt turbo sitting on a new header attached to a freshly rebuilt motor? After talking to various experts and friends on forums, it was concluded that the offending material was most likely gasket material that had cooked in the header and lodged in the exhaust housing. I pulled the entire header off, blew it all out with compressed air and jammed my fingers in the exhaust ports down to the valve. No more offending material, so we put it back together and had another go.About this point I fluffed around with oil cover on the deep sump and got it to seal better.

2. Alternator pulley problems
Having driven the car a few times, it became clear there was a severe issue with the alternator pulley. It was grinding on the housing and making a terrible racket. No dramas, pull it off and sort it. Oh man, what a disaster. When the pulley came off, it was clear what the issue was. It's been run for a long time loose, flogging out the key way and ruining the pulley. The only other pulley I had was bent. What is wrong with me?

So off to Just Kampers for a new pulley. Simple right? Wrong. They were moving premises and it was a disaster to find them, let alone order parts. Thankful, one young guy took pity on me and sold me the pulley and a few other little bits. His pity for me was demonstrated in a generous discount. As for the key way... well we just left the key out. My uber-yoda mechanic friend informed me, "the key actually makes the nut come loose". The keyway is something they don't do anymore. So I dispensed with it and did "it up tight" as he suggested. I guess time will tell whether it's all good, but the awful noise is gone and the engine is cooling well enough.

I'll update you some more in the future, but the short story now is this. I'm on a steep learning curve in the tuning department. Jason from the Aussie Megasquirt FB group has been very good to me. Helping me to sort all manner of things out and tune it. I've driven the car about 6 times now, using autotune to get the tune right.

I've taken my kids out to run the laptop while I drove. The nearest I have to performance thus far is 3psi of boost. It's addictive. The car still runs appallingly rich at start up and boggy down low, but it's getting better. My next move is to get the engine bay all sealed in so I'm not getting hot engine air into the intake. After that, it'll be the intercooler.

But really, it's so nice to be driving again.

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