Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Project: Red Rocket - Reassembly and 1st Crank

Well, its been a while since the last Red Rocket update.  That's because most of the action has been taking place in the mail, so I haven't had much to talk about.  The biggest delay involved the cylinder head.  The head I had turned out to be bowed, twisted, and decked beyond spec.  This thing had a rough life.

Illustrating the many ways in which the head was unusable.

While I was waiting for a new head to come in, I took the time to clean a few parts and give the interior some TLC.

The first part that needed my attention was the intake manifold.  EGR had slowly coated the whole thing in an impressive layer of sludge and carbon.  I soaked it in a bucket of degreaser for an hour and then attacked it with a steel brush.  It wasn't 100% effective, but I was able to remove about 1/32" of build up.  The inner walls are much smoother, too. While I doubt this will make a measurable power difference, it should keep air flowing smoothly into the head for a few more years.  I'll call it a solid win in the name of preventative maintenance.

The picture does not do it justice.  I really should have photographed the pile of gunk I built cleaning it out.

I also flushed the radiator and intercooler.  Both were surprisingly clean, which bodes well for the health of the intake and cooling systems.  The car has the unmistakable odor of 'old car' permeating the interior, so I gave it a thorough vacuuming.  And then another thorough vacuuming.  I guess that smell is there to stay, but at least I'm not sitting in other people's dirt anymore.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was really only 2 weeks, I got the new head back from the machine shop and started putting pieces back onto the car.  This was a pleasant change in direction.  The head fit right into place and is now clearly the cleanest part in the engine bay.

The first step forward.

Progress went quickly from there.  The exhaust manifold put up a little bit of a fight, but it eventually went into place.  One ziploc baggie of parts at a time, the car went back together.

Pro Tip:  If it comes off the car, it goes in a ziploc baggie and gets a label.

Before I knew it the engine was buttoned up and I was attaching hoses to their (hopefully correct) inlets and outlets.  Some of these were disassembled when I bought the car, so I'm in unknown territory now, having to figure out which lines carry what fluid where.

I've seen plates of Spaghetti that were more organized than this.

The timing system was not too much trouble.  The $45 I invested in special Mistubishi timing belt tools was well spent.  I was able to turn the motor over by hand without any interference, so I must have gotten pretty close!  The accessory drives were tricky due to a lack of space, and it cost me a few busted knuckles.  They did finally fit in place with proper belt tension, though.  That was it.  The End.  At this point, the car was assembled and ready to run.

The moment of truth had come.  I secured the battery leads, put oil in the engine, filled the radiator with distilled water (to prevent lime and particulate build up) and sat in the car to see if she would run.  I turn the key to 'on' - and am promptly assaulted by the automatic seat belt.  Damn you, 1990!  At least that means there's power going to them.  After giving it a 10 count to allow fuel to get up to the motor, I turn the key to 'start.'  I'm rewarded with cranking noises!  The motor turns over...and over...and over.  No start.  I let it sit a second and give it another try, hoping the fuel pump just needed more time.  She keeps cranking, but nothing more.  My neighbor's little girl stops her Razor Scooter at the end of my driveway and yells "Hey Mister, that car doesn't sound good," crushing my hopes and driving home the realization that this might just be the beginning.

Time till race day:  3 Weeks

The Red Rocket Chronicles:
First Post: Prologue
Previous Post: Down to the Block
Next Post: Total Eclipse of the Heart

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