The 13B Rebuild Chronicles :: Chapter 11 :: Leak Correction

29 03 2009

Early in the week I called Mazdaspeed Motorsports and ordered two oil pan gaskets (one for between the oil pan and the baffle and another for between the baffle and the engine block).  While I was at it I decided to get new motor mounts as the threads on mine were pretty much trashed.  The stock mounts were $20 for one side and $30 for the other, but for $40 each they had the competition mounts which are 40% stiffer. Guess which ones I ordered?

I also took my alternator up to a local starter & alternator shop and had them rebuild it. For $90 I got a new rotor, brushes, bearing, and pulley. A little cheaper than buying a whole new reman, but these guys stand behind their work and they got it done quick. None of our local auto parts shops had the alternator in stock and they were all about $150 anyway.

So, Saturday arrived and Doug and I hit the ground running at around 8:30 AM.  Well, not so much running as worming around on our backs. We literally spent most of the day on our backs under the car amidst oil, grease and cat litter. It was a long, dirty, and tiring day to be honest.

First, we moved the jack stands to the rear of the front wheel wheels so that we had free access to the front of the car. Then we removed the front wheels to create more elbow room, and removed the skid plate from underneath.  Next we jacked up the engine from underneath the transmission, about 4 inches up.  It was not enough to be able to remove the oil pan around the steering linkage though.

img_0510

So, we then unbolted the steering linkage on each side. The driver’s side was easy (a 19mm nut) while the passenger side needed the cotter pin removed which was no easy task. We had to make a run to AutoZone to buy a ball joint removal fork (not sure of the technical term) and then popped the joints out and dropped the linkage down to provide easy access to the oil pan. While doing the AutoZone run we had also grabbed Doug’s air ratchet from his house so removing the oil pan bolts was quick work.

img_0511

After we had pried the oil pan off, we spent a good hour or so removing the dried RTV from the pan and baffle. I worked the baffle over with a chisel to get the bulk of the RTV off and then a wire brush air tool to buff it back to pristine shape.  Doug did a similar action on the oil pan but also spent some time straightening out the pan and grinding some rough spots down. When he was done the darn thing looked almost new.

Then, after another Autozone run (forgot to get more RTV on the last trip), we built ourselves a gasket sandwich with lots of black RTV. Oil pan, RTV, gasket, RTV, baffle, RTV, gasket, RTV. Used an entire tube of the stuff!

We then got back on the floor (again) and installed the oil pan (again) and gently bolted it down all the way around. It looks good, and I am confident that we will not have any leaks this time around.

Before we dropped the engine back down onto the motor mounts we removed the existing mounts and installed the new Mazdaspeed competition mounts. We reused the underneath nuts but had to use new nuts for above (10 x 1.25 if anyone needs to know).  After that we bolted the skid plate back into place and were basically back to where we were a week ago.

I am certainly no expert, but if anyone else is doing their first rebuild my advice is this: use an oil pan gasket no matter what the guy on  the rebuild DVD says!  By the time we got done I was covered in grime, had oily cat litter in my hair, and muscle aches from lying on a cold concrete floor all day. Thankless work.

Next step: buy new or rebuild the existing rear brake caliper…or maybe not. We put the front wheels back on, removed the jackstands, jacked up the rear driver’s side, removed the wheel, and pulled the caliper.  Upon inspection we found that the caliper was not ceased. It was dry and greaseless but still operational. We pulled it apart, regreased all of the seals and plungers, and made sure everything was moving smoothly.  Later this week I will grab some new brake pads and reinstall the caliper with pads. I will also check all the calipers all the way around, grease them as needed, and install new pads.

img_0513

Then we’ll pop her on the trailer and be ready for the Thursday night shakedown run at Desoto Speedway.

Advertisements




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!





The 13B Rebuild Chronicles :: Chapter 9 :: Engine Install, Part 3

17 03 2009

This Saturday was a short day due to commitments in the afternoon, so I planned on starting early but didn’t get going until after 9AM. Both Matt and Doug had commitments also, so I was alone.  My plan was to fabricate a brace for the radiator, but being that I have absolutely no metal working experience I was a bit lost without help.  So instead I just decided to find my original skid plate. I started at the back wall, next to the tire stack, and what do you know…hiding behind my spare quarter panel was a piece of aluminum in a very specific shape that suspiciously resembled the cavity below the engine bay.  Wow, sometimes things just happen the way they’re supposed to.

So, I bolted it up to the frame, then dropped the radiator in and bolted that onto the skid plate. Perfect fit!  It needs some additional reinforcement as the aluminum seems a bit weak to really hold the radiator safely, but for the moment it is in. Here’s a picture of it from below (not very exciting, but for the purposes of a complete photographic record).

img_0482

Then I hooked up the radiator hoses, screwed in the water temperature sensor and tightened down all clamps. Finally, I bolted up the air intake to the manifold. So, except for bolting up the airbox and inserting the air filter, we’re done! Well, for the moment at least.

img_0484

Next, I drained the fuel cell by disconnecting the fuel line and pumping the fuel over the edge of the engine bay into a fuel can.  As you can probably tell from the photo below it took me a couple of attempts to disconnect the correct fuel line. Between the time it took me to get from the engine bay to the cockpit to flip the fuel pump on and off I ended up with a nice pool of gas under the car. Never fear, we’ll be cleaning that up before shooting any flaming arrows around the shop.

img_0485

I drained it fully and then walked across the street to the brand new 7/11 to get some fresh fuel. I got 5.5 gallons of 93 octane and mixed about 7 ounces of Valvoline two cycle oil in with it. This is about a 100:1 ratio, which is what seems to be the more prevalent ratio recommendation that I could find online AND the one listed on the back of my Valvoline bottle. To be safe though I called Pineapple Racing to find out their recommendation. Rob at Pineapple said to use only 4oz of oil per 5 gallons of gas, which is a 160:1 ration. Just because I am super paranoid I also called Dan at Atkins Rotary and asked him the same question. His answer was: “read the bottle”.  He said that because each brand of oil is slightly different he recommends following the oil manufacturer’s mixture ratio as listed on the bottle. That did seem to make sense – and validated my supreme intelligence at the same time – hence it has been adjudicated as the official “right answer”.

img_0488

Not my best side I know, but I took the bloody photo with one hand while pouring gas with the other, so I don’t want to hear any wisecracks.

So, everything is now done as far as the engine goes except for starting the darn thing. Again I turned everything on but when pushing the started button nothing happened. Just a soft click and that’s all.  I climbed under the car and scoped out the starter. Everything looked fine. Ground and main attached properly. I wanted to test to see if power was getting to the starter by using a screwdriver to jump the terminals but, even after adding the floor jack in addition to the jack stands under the car, I just could not sum up the courage to turn then engine over while lying underneath 2500 lbs of steel without anyone else around. Safety first, right?

So, that wrapped it up. Another weekend down without hearing her purr 😦  It will definitely happen next weekend though, so be prepared to hear it. I plan to take a video clip on my iPhone and post it next week so that you can all enjoy the sound! Strange the pleasures we find in life.

Until then,

Grant Boshoff
Thrust Motorsports





The 13B Rebuild Chronicles :: Chapter 5 :: Shortblock Assembly

24 02 2009

Okay kids, this is it!  We are finally ready to assemble this joker.  Mid-afternnon, Saturday, the fun began. Matt had left to play golf (golf over wrenching on an engine? I know, right?), so that left Doug and I get the job done.

First we bolted up the front end plate to the engine stand and got it positioned in close proximity to the work bench.

front_end_plate

Next, we installed all of the water jacket seals in both sides of both rotor housings. This was a tad confusing at first because the rebuild DVDs showed these being installed into the end plates and the center housing, while my engine has flat surfaces on those sections, and the seal grooves in the rotor housings.  Apparently the different series of 13B engines have slightly different configurations. We got that sorted, and proceeded to install the seals. I just squirted Hylomar into the seal grooves on the housings and then inserted the seals and pushed them into place with my fingers.  This got a bit messy as the Hylomar squished outof the grooves, onto fingers, and when dry it turns into sticky rubber which is close to impossible to get off your fingers without the use of something toxic like carb cleaner or mineral spirits.  Next time I will get a small paintbrush and use that to paint the Hylomar into the seal grooves instead.

housings

Then we inserted the metal dowels into the front end plate and dropped the front rotor housing down onto it, first painting the bottom “legs” of the end plate & housing with the brushable gasket sealant. Next came the rotor. This was first lubed up with the assembly oil mixture (on the gear teeth and bearing) and placed inside the housing with the “triangle” pointing to the twelve o’clock position.  Then we simply dropped the eccentric shaft down into the rotor, and carefully slid it inside the rotor bearing.

housing1housing2

Next came the installation of the small corner pieces of the apex seals. I forgot to take pics of this but essentially what has to be done is that the apex seal springs need to be pushed down with a small screwdriver and then the corner pieces pushed into the open end of the corner seal. Use a sliding motion from the top (up against the rotor housing, down toward the rotor center) to ensure that the corner piece gets above the apex springs.

Then, remembering to paint the legs with gasket sealer, we slid in the metal dowels and dropped on the intermediate housing. The trick to this is that you need two people. One has to slowly lower the housing down over the eccentric shaft (because the housing is a solid plate with just a hole in the middle) while the other lifts the eccentric shaft up an inch or so. You then tilt the housing so that it pops uver the bulge in the shaft and lower it down into position. Then drop the shaft back down again. Should have taken some pics of that but we didn’t have enough hands (literally).

Then we added the rear rotor housing. Repeating the same procedure as before we dropped the rotor inside the housing, this time pointing it downwards to the six o’clock position, and installed the corner pieces of the apex seals.

img_0410

housing_rear

Nearly there. Getting pretty excited! In the picture above you can see clearly what I mean when I say “paint the legs” with gasket sealer (the red areas at the bottom of the housing).  The red tint you see on the rotor is Marvel Mystery Oil which we liberally spread on all end plate and rotor surfaces.

Finally, we set the end plate onto the stack and inserted the rear stationary gear. This was a bit tricky as the gear did not line up at first with the gear teeth on the rear rotor. Doug had to rotate the eccentric shaft a little by hand until the stationary gear dropped into place. Next, we inserted all eighteen of the tension bolts. These bolts run the entire length of the block and hold it all together.rear_end_plate

Doug has to take off, which left me to torque down the tension bolts all alone 😦  The tension bolts are supposed to be torqued to 28 ft/lbs, and have to be tightened down in a specific sequence.  I had a diagram drawn (from when I disassembled the engine) but it did not match with the sequence Turrentine appeared to be using in the DVD, so we consulted the Haynes manual and went with that. After hand tightening all the bolts, we cleaned the heads and used a magic marker to number them for future reference.

tension

My torque wrench starts at 25 ft/lbs, so I could not use it to do a logical 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 25lbs, then 28lbs step up procedure. I had to do it by feel ie. tighten each bolt, in sequence, to a snug feel (not tight) then repeat over and over until they were tight enough to register on my torque wrench.  Then I torqued them all to a perfect 28 ft/lbs and called it a day!

Once I stopped working I suddenly realized how sore my feet, back, and various other body parts were! Ouch. I cleaned up the shop, took a few photos of my beautiful engine, and headed home for an extra manly hot bubble bath!

So, here she is. Isn’t she gorgeous?

longblock1longblock2longblock3

See you next weekend!

Grant Boshoff
Thrust Motorsports