The 13B Rebuild Chronicles :: Chapter 10 :: The Moment of Truth

21 03 2009

Well, it is Saturday, March 21st, and rather than boring you with an essay on today’s adventure I am going to let you see it – albeit an abridged version – for yourself…

As you can see and hear above we got her running quite well today. The initial starter trouble that I had encountered last week was easily fixed when we realized that the sending cable (from the starter button) was not attached to the starter-mounted solenoid. Doug figured this out within about 10 minutes using his trusty test light.

When we first fired her up she sounded quite rough and was stalling consistently while also producing tons of smoke. The engine was flooding continually. I had to turn the engine over with the fuel pump off and then flip it on the moment the engine caught. The timing was obviously off but she wouldn’t idle long enough for us to use the timing light effectively. We messed around for a while trying to adjust the idle but it would not smooth out. After almost an hour I suddenly realized that we had not hooked up the Mass Airflow Sensor. Doh! That explains the flooding!  The poor ECU…trying desperately to meter air & fuel ratios without knowing how much air was flowing.

Once that was connected things got better quickly. The engine turned over and caught without having to turn the fuel pump on and off, but it would not run for more than a second or two.  Okay, now we’re getting somewhere though.

Next we pulled out the crank angle sensor (the thing on which the distributor is mounted) and reinserted it with the rotor pointing at the 1st spark plug in the firing order (front leading plug) and the engine at what we figured to be 15 degrees before TDC (top dead center). My pulley has numerous notches in it (rather than the normal two) and we had been using the first (TDC) notch up until now. But from my research I knew that we should ideally be somewhere around 16-26 degrees ahead of TDC. So we decided to use the furtherest (clockwise) notch which looked to be 15 degrees before top dead center (BTDC).

So, using a wrench we turned the engine over until the timing mark on the front housing was lined up to the 15 BTDC notch on the pulley, and then re-inserted the crank angle sensor back into the front housing so it meshed back in with the gear (ensuring that the distributor rotor was still pointed squarely at the 1st Leading plug), put the distributor cap back on, and fired her up again. She fired up with one short push of the starter, no gas pedal needed, and idled beautifully at around 2,000 RPM. Doug tuned the idle down to around 1,200 RPM and she sounded GOOD. The last two video clips above are after we made this change. In the last video you will hear us revving her up to around 5K and she sounds smooth and sweet…like a gigantic mosquito right?

Next we decided to reinforce the radiator and the front airbox. We did this with some sheet aluminum, rivets, and self-tapping screws. Here’s a couple pics of that work:

img_0502

img_0503

Now for the bad news. While doing this we had the car jacked up on the front to work on the radiator reinforcements and noticed oil on the floor. Actually two puddles. One was from the oil temp sensor. Some thread tape took care of that quickly. But the second puddle was significantly more ominous. Turns out that the oil pan is not holding the seal. I almost screamed out loud when we discovered this.  I do NOT want to take the engine out and put it back in again.  What we’ll do is remove the steering linkage from below the oilpan, and hopefully that will give us enough access to remove the oil pan and reinstall it with new gaskets from below. Keep your fingers crossed on that one for us please.

Also found that we have a warped alternator pulley and/or shaft. It is wobbling slightly and creating metal shavings on the pulley bolt when the engine runs. No big deal. We removed the alternator before shutting down for the day. $55 and a quick trip to AutoZone will handle that. *(Correction: discovered later that this was a misquote, actual price is around $15o but none in stock).

I will call Mazda Motorsports on Monday to order the oilpan gaskets and hopefully next weekend we’ll get the oilpan sorted.  Then we’ll do an all around brake job, check suspension, bushings etc. and hopefully take her out to Desoto Speedway test & tune night the following Thursday evening for a shakedown run.

Can’t wait!  And my best friend, Kimbo, will be back from Australia next week too, so I’ll get to share the fun with him.  Like Xmas in March it is!

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3 responses

23 03 2009
Phil

I’m impressed. Nice to see it running. I look forward to seeing you race her.

28 03 2009
Paul

Great write-up! I am rebuilding my own engine for the first time as well so it is great to have another set of instructions to follow. Bruce Turrentines DVD is a great help too. I love the colour scheme of the motor and am tempted to go that way for mine 🙂

I’ve heard when using a sealant for the oil pan, you must only use a very small amount, mainly because it will squeeze out the sides and end up clogging your oil pickup – my 2nd last motor had that issue – the pickup was jammed up with silicone!

With the splash guard there, do you have to get 2 gaskets? One above and one below the splash guard?

Well done – looks like a great quality build! I hope I can live up to your standards with my motor!

28 03 2009
worthyking

Thanks, Paul.

The only part of Bruce Turrentine’s DVD that I disagree with is his not using a gasket in the oil pan. As you read, I tried that and it resulted in an entire day’s labor to remove the oil pan while on the car, and replace it properly (with gaskets). In order to remove the oil pan we had to remove the steering linkage first and then work on our backs all day…major pain.

Yes, I used two gaskets, one above and one below the oil pan baffle plate (splash guard). Made a nice sandwich that should hold nicely.

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