Catch Up: 7/30/2011

by Andy

Well, everyone that frequents my website has probably given up on looking for updates. But if there is anyone left, I have a lot to update you on!

You may remember reading in the PPIR race report that our car was pretty slow. I really felt like a rock in the stream on every straight away. With the news that our team had been invited to the Chumpionships, my top priority became finding new power for our car. The EJ18 is a 1.8 litre motor putting out 110hp according to the factory spec sheet. Our 200,000 mile motor, running at 6,000 feet was probably putting down just a bit more horsepower than a 1600cc VW bug motor. If I really wanted a big boost in power, I could go with the EJ25, which puts down a much more respectable 167hp, and a lot more torque. But, they are expensive and unreliable. I have seen how unreliable motors fair in a 24 hour endurance race, and I’d like to keep my pistons inside the motor, thank you. So the best alternative is the EJ22. Its is a 2.2L motor with good power and torque, and it is known for its bullet proof reliability. They are also far less pricey. In fact, I found one on craigslist for $250. And the seller assured me that he removed it from his car because he was dropping in a WRX motor. I got the motor home and began digging into it. I was running some compression tests on it and noticed a distinctive clunk sound on every 180 deg of motor rotation. I know that sound, its a rod bearing. I pulled the heads, and removed the oil pan, and had my suspicions confirmed. It was indeed a rod bearing. I called the seller and did my best to make him feel like an ass, because there was no way he didnt know about the rod bearing. He denied it, and I moved on. Not worth pursuing, and now I have a good core if I want to buy a rebuilt motor I guess.

Moving on. I dont know if I mentioned, but I needed a transmission too. 2nd gear had just about completely given up by the end of the race. I had planned to rebuild the trans on my own, but I wasted to much time on the blown motor, and I really needed something that I knew would work. I figured that buying an entire car that I could test drive would be the way to go.

Introducing, the Subaru Abortion

Yes. This is a 1998 Subaru Impreza Sport Wagon. The doors have been cut and welded, and the rear hatch removed. It could have potentially been pretty cool but alas, it was very unloved. The struts were blown, the CV joints popping, the center console, doors, and floor turned into an ashtray, and the “trunk” used as a trashcan. Kind of a shame really. BUT, the engine and transmission were in perfect shape!

If you’re not laughing already, picture me driving this thing on the freeway, from Boulder to Castle Rock, over an hour drive. In a god damn tropical rain storm. In a t-shirt. With other people pointing, laughing, and taking pictures. I hope your laughing now. And I almost made it home without issue. 20 minutes from the house, the rear end began to lock up, and acrid white smoke poured out of the rear of the car. The rear diff oil was very old and doing nothing to lubricate the gears, so instead, it decided to cook itself and spew molten diff fluid all over the underside of the car and the exhaust. I have never smelled anything quite like burning gear oil, and I can’t say I need to smell it again. I pulled off the highway to let things cool down, and a family on a road trip stopped to ask what I was driving, and why I didnt have any doors. I dont remember what I told them, but I dont think they drove off with any more clear a picture of what the hell was going on with my “new car.”

I called Brian and my Dad, and brought them down to help me remove the motor and trans from the car. Being that it had never been cleaned up, we started by giving the engine a degreaser bath. And it actually cleaned up quite nicely. I expect a second letter from the Home Owners Association, complaining about oil stains in my drive way, though. With it all cleaned up, we removed the hood, brought it into the garage, and got to work.

Removing the engine and transmission in one piece was not the plan. But one locator pin refused to allow us to seperate the engine and trans while in the car, so we had to pull the whole mess out at once. It turned out to be really straight foward, and once the engine was on a tire “engine stand” seperating the trans was cake. And of course, we felt it was quite important to pose with our “trophy catch.”

Yea, I dunno either.

With the engine and trans out of the car, and seperated, the engine went onto a proper engine stand and the trans went down onto the driveway. Brian took on the task of scrubbing both pieces, and made them look exceptionally more clean. Thanks man! I didnt really get any pictures for the rest of the day. It was a very good day, and I am happy with the progress we made! And again, thanks to Brian, and my Dad for their help. I couldn’t have done it alone.

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