Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So a bit more money drained from my negative account... But, my bad O2 sensor was replaced, and now there's no check engine light!!! I went and got my emissions tested after and easily passed. For some strange reason the emissions attendant person asked me if the car was a 4-cylinder or not. I said no, I did an engine swap and then she asked me if it was a 2.5 or 2.8L motor. Apparently she just input my car into their system as a generic 328i or something. Whatever though, I passed without any issue so I should be good for 2 more years.

Also, I had a bigger rear diff installed (4.10 gears) to handle the increased power. The old small diff was making a pretty loud whining noise at high speeds although a bit of that noise can probably be attributed to the solid diff bushing that I'm using as you can still hear a bit of driveline noise with the new diff though it's no where near as loud. The new diff came from an automatic car and it looks great inside and out so it should last a while hopefully.

New strut-tops were put in that I mentioned in an earlier post. Since a lot of caster is needed to get the steering to return on its own while driving I had new M3 strut tops installed which just from looking at them seem to be a huge change. Hopefully it should make drifting a lot easier and more fun. You can see in the picture below the strut position is shifted / pushed back toward the rear which causes the front wheels to be angled foward more (this is what more caster is). I've included a picture of what the stock strut-tops look like and you can see the shock is right in the center of the tower--it's a pretty significant difference.

You can't really see too much of a difference from the outside though I didn't document any before pictures to find out. I think the wheel might be rubbing a little with the increased caster at full lock but I think I'll just have to deal with that.
With the new diff in and my clutch nearly broken in I tried some quick acceleration "tests" for fun and the car does have a bit more acceleration compared to stock. However, the rear didn't lose traction like I would have expected it to due to the increased power and torque. Either my car somehow gained a huge increase in traction magically or the weight of the battery, new diff, and old diff in the trunk (couple hundred pounds maybe) was helping to keep the rubber on the road. I'm hoping it's the latter and that when I remove all the garbage I have in the trunk I'll be to light the tires up more easily. I mean it's got more power! There's no reason I shouldn't be able to do that! I could do it with the old 4-cyl motor! Here's a shot of the rear suspension with all garbage in the trunk (groceries too), looks like the rear is lowered by an inch or so.
And finally, here's a shot of the complete engine bay. The nasty white residue is hot coolant that sprayed everywhere because for some reason the radiator cap popped off while I was driving. I really really hope I don't have anymore cooling issues with this car... I need to figure out how to get an electric fan wired up to the car before the next drift event.

The car is basically all set now except for general maintenance stuff. I need to pay off the rest of the swap costs and then I have another project in store which should be a lot of fun (in the looks department as opposed to performance).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Check engine light almost removed

So I've gone from 8 CEL codes to 3-4 down to 1 (or 2). Got rid of one code by switching the brake light connector with the 3/2-valve connector. Apparently I had them reversed and didn't realize it until it was pointed out to me that my reverse lights weren't there. That was an easy fix and was able to get rid of one code.

Went to Schucks and cleared the codes with their OBDII scanner and pinpointed the last code to one of the O2 sensors on the exhaust manifold. I have a new sensor coming in shortly and will have it installed with a new diff (bigger), and new M3 shock tower mounts (to increase caster).

Once all these things are sorted out I think the car is set... for at least a little while.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Formula Drift: Evergreen Speedway, Seattle

Yesterday I went to the last event of the Formula Drift Seattle series and got to see the Top16 drivers "battle" to the top 3 finishes. Chris Forsberg came out on top in his RedBull Racing 350z roadster, Sullivan came in 2nd in the Rockstar WRX, and McQuarrie in the Falken 350z came in 3rd.

An interesting turn of events occured during the final matches, in the final four match of Sullivan vs. Vaughn Gittin Jr., both Sullivan and VGJ did well when VGJ led and that's basically all the chase car needs to do, drift well in tandem with the lead car. However, for whatever reason (maybe VGJ wanted to show off a little or try to get some kind of edge), when it was VGJ's turn to chase, he closed into Sullivan's car and tried to initiate his drift before Sullivan which is a pretty douchey move on his part, this set the gears in motion for a nice crash in which Sullivan initiated his drift but because he lost a little speed doing it VGJ tapped Sullivan's car, causing both cars to lose control and culminating with VGJ t-boning Sullivan's car into the wall.

Then right after he crashes into Sullivan he high-tails it out of there back into the pits assumingly to fix his damage for what I assume he imagines is his next run--another pretty douchey move. Meanwhile, Sullivan's car is basically trashed and done for the day. Thankfully the judges recognized that VGJ effectively screwed over Sullivan hardcore and gave Sullivan the win-berthing him to 2nd place.

This scenario got me thinking about what would happen if a highly-skilled rookie drifter with not much in the way of sponsorship was running against a big-name highly-sponsored drifter. The drifter with more money could basically maliciously "tap" the other drifter into a wall, totalling his car, and everything would be fine in the end for the drifter with more money because the rookie is out of the game for who knows how long and the big-shot is ready to go after his pit crew rebuilds his car in 5 minutes. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before something dirty like this happens in reality.

Anyway, onto the pics:

Grandstands were decently full. I got a kick out of the announcer saying that Evergreen speedway won the best crowd award last year. In reality, last year everyone was talking about how terrible the crowd was, it was pretty much pure silence with low energy.
RC drifting was present.

The Falken tent(s).
Pit car with trays containing suspension parts laid out for fast replacement. I thought this was a pretty sweet idea.
The Toyo tires tent, lots of tires to burn. Apparently the rear tires only last for 2 competition runs before needing replacement on this track.
Some of Toyo's drivers looking down on the crowds.
Joon Maeng's S14, Joon is one of the low-budget pro drifters I mentioned earlier. He's also probably one of the nicest / friendliest guys there.
Sullivan's WRX before being destroyed (no after pics).
Not a fan of RX7s but really love the paint scheme style.
A pretty clean and vibrant S13.
Chris Forsberg's car.
Gushi's RWD Scion, the crowd went nuts over this guy, probably only because of his name, "the Goosh." (I'll admit his headlighting is pretty sweet) In reality, I don't think anyone in the stands has seen him drifting very much. He didn't even last 1 competition run due to drivetrain problems--the exact same thing happened last year.
Nasty Hyundai drift car.
Tanner Foust after showboating his Nascar V8-powered Scion.
The top 16 drivers lined up.
More of the same.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post Project Day 4

Got the exhaust system all sorted out, was kinda expensive but it's done. Now I can focus on something other than the insane exhaust sound. Well, with the new exhaust (Stromung muffler from my old 4-cyl welded onto the 6-cyl mid-pipe using a Y-pipe) for some reason it's SO QUIET. It must have something to do with the smoothness of the inline-6, by the way it is INSANELY smooth, that the natural harmonics cause the engine to be easily muffled or something.

By comparison, If I were to accelerate with the 4-cyl and let off the pedal completely really fast, the car would lurch unless the ease off the pedal really slowly. With the inline-6 I can let off the gas and the car decellerates smoothly without lurching, I'm impressed.

Took the car to Autozone to have the codes read (the check engine light is on, no surprise), and theres 8 stored codes... Most of them seem to deal with emissions which is good and bad. Good in that they might have triggered when I basically ran the car without an exhaust and may be clearable now that there's an exhaust--Bad in that I need to get the emissions tested next month for my registration and a check engine light is a fail.

I also pinpointed where the shifter is hitting the driveshaft and its the selector rod making contact with the driveshaft balancer (?). I'll need to bend the selector rod to get it to fit without rubbing on anything, that should fix my shifting troubles also.

So a few more little things to fix but the swap seems to be pretty much done. I'll need to get a bigger rear diff soon before I get used to accelerating hard and blowing it up. The increased torque is noticeable for sure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Project Day 3: Finished... Sorta

So we didn't start until the evening, as a result things were rushed but I think we got everything together (it was dark). Reconnected the battery, turned the key, accessories powered on, car cranks (we're in business!!), took a bit of cranking but eventually once I presume the fuel rail started to pressurize, the car started!

Now mind you, the mid-pipe that we attached didn't completely bolt on because the people that pulled the engine cut the studs on one section of the manifold so there was not only no muffler but a HUGE exhaust leak at the manifold / midpipe connection. Needless to say, the car is LOUD under ANY load. At idle, the car is pretty quiet actually though with a bit of a rumble. Something is wrong with the shifter also. I can't shift into reverse and the connecting rod of the shifter seems to hit the driveshaft when trying to go into 2nd. This is a pretty bit hindrance at the moment and I'm not sure what to do about it as of yet.

First things first though, I need to get the car into a friend's shop to try and have new studs drilled for the exhaust manifold if possible and to have a muffler / muffler hangars welded also.

So far I can't determine the difference in power because the car is so loud that I don't want to punch it and because the car has a fresh clutch that needs to be broken in.

No pictures during the install due to the rush but I'll have some eventually.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Project Day 2: Almost there

The next day the morning was wasted since the engine leveler we ordered from NAPA never showed up, the employee there said it was never ordered but would call the order in and have it by 3pm. 3pm came around and guess what happened? NO LEVELER. We were furious over how inept and useless everyone at NAPA was. I had my money refunded and decided to try to drop the motor in without the leveler...
Turns out it IS possible, though really tricky / difficult, bent some part of the firewall a little bit I think but shouldn't be a problem.

It was tricky getting the oil pan around the steering column, had to remove the passenger side motor mount arm to sneak it around. It was fairly smooth sailing past that point barring a struggle to get the engine aligned with the motor mounts.

The rest of the time was spent reconnecting and reinstalling things. There was a freak out over whether the driveshaft would attach to the transmission since the new setup is a bit longer and we figured out that the driveshaft could be disconnected from the center bearing, attached to the transmission output flange, and then reinstalled without any issue.
The shift linkage is kinda wacky though, the shifter hits the plastic shifter surround when going into the northern gears (1,3,5, etc.) so I might end up removing the plastic to save some weight and get over this issue (sacrificing looks for utility).
There also was a large round connector on the wiring harness which didn't connect to anything which I started to worry about. However, after doing some research it seems to be a connector for the ASC system (traction control) which I won't be using anyway.

Tomorrow should be the last day of the project and will consist of the following approximately:
Install radiator / cooling hoses, install exhaust and associated connectors, fuel lines, etc., torque down all the nuts and bolts in the drivetrain, doublecheck the wiring harness to make sure positive cables and ground cables are going where they should be, replace EWS II unit, get and install power steering return hose, fill system with fluids (power steering, coolant, oil), reconnect battery, insert key, hope for the best. Shouldn't take very long to accomplish all this so I expect to be up and running shortly if all goes well!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Project Day 1: Out with the old

Didn't manage to complete the project in one day as planned, however, decent progress was made at least.

Since the photos will give it away, the car is undergoing a heart transplant, swapping out the old anemic 4-cyl motor for a nice juicy 6-cyl.
Step 1: Drain coolant, power steering, disconnect wiring harness, remove DME/ECU, etc.

Step 2: Remove intake bits, other miscellaneous materials attached to engine and ready hoist for pulling.

Step 3: PULL!

Step 4: Look at void where engine used to be.

Step 5: Prepare new engine for transplant (swap transmission, starter, etc.)

This is as far as we got in 1 day. Hopefully tomorrow will consist of dropping in the new motor without any trouble and reconnecting everything together / finishing touches. Will be picking up an engine leveler tomorrow morning to hopefully help shoehorn the massive motor into place. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited to start her up though!