Archive for the Auto Articles Category

Project Car: Phase I, Part 3, step 1.5

Posted in Auto Articles on January 26, 2011 by consortiumoffools

There’s just 3,451 steps to go, in three more phases! Ok, of course not, but it sure feels that way. This project has become a haunting relic mocking me from my front yard. But I’m still pushing on. I’ll share it all with you now. I put about 12 hours into porting and polishing the heads

This is where it gets dicey. Up until now procedure has consisted of obvious choices such as buying an OEM master gasket set for the EJ22T and sourcing the 5-speed & friends. Now the project gets theoretical. I am about to attach heads from a 2005 non-turbo Subaru Forester to a 1993 turbo Legacy block. For some perspective on how wildly different these years of engine components are: the newer heads have updated electronics, require updated injectors, have 2 wires to the cam sensor instead of 3, have different intake manifold attachment bolt patterns, different intake manifold inlet ports, are non-turbo so they are not drilled for the required oil and coolant, have slightly different coolant passages, and are larger than the original heads. The newer heads are considered Phase II by Subaru, and thus require different wiring than mine (Phase I). Also, the car that carried the newer heads had to meet OBD II requirements, so that just adds to the electronic complications.

These differences are not marked on the side of the head. After months of research and exploring the differences in person, I set out to find a manifold. The stock one won’t fit, so I checked the junk yard. I found a 1998 Legacy GT and an Outback from 2000. Both manifolds way off. I found a 2002 Impreza WRX complete and considered using the 2.0 liter heads from that car, but I had already set out on this scheme: super stout 2.2L turbo block paired with larger 2.5L heads. I wanted to keep it SOHC for weight savings as well as the fact that DOHCs are really only useful if you have variable valve cam timing or the time/money to physically tune the cams on a DOHC on a dyno. My ECU can’t handle VVCT and I’ve got hardly any time/money currently anyway (for more on both of those tragic subjects, stay tuned).

So I finally found a manifold that fits perfectly. Found a list of junkyards online. I discovered a place in Utah that had a manifold from a 2005 Forrester SOHC 2.5L and it included the fuel rails! All for $120 shipped.

I started port matching the intake manifold to the heads. But looking at the heads, they seemed pretty huge. So I popped them and the new IM on the block for a test fit. It all fit perfectly. I also installed a brand new water pump and oil pump on the block, so it’s looking more and more complete. But I still have a lot of tough decisions to make and some money to earn. My next step is gonna be to focus on the exhaust manifold, turbo, and fuel system.

I have a IHI VF48 from a 2009 STi. Sick right? Except the fact that someone dropped a bolt into it while it was spooling and it destroyed all the intake side’s fins. There were companies like Deadbolt Enterprises out of Phoenix that would rebuild turbos. Deadbolt is out of business, but I found some other custom turbo shops, but they all seemed hesitant about working on brand new IHI turbos. One said that you can’t buy parts from Suabru for the IHI turbos, and IHI won’t sell parts either. But there has to be a shop that can put an aftermarket wheel in a turbo right? I’ll continue to look.

I found an equal length coated header that I really want, but it costs $850. So I really need to find one that isn’t so expensive and beautiful   There are some on ebay that go for $300-400 so I’ll probably end up with one of those.

The fuel system is a major component that has to be addressed. I need enough fuel delivery for my turbo. The stock injectors are 270cc with the small IHI VF11 turbo, the junk yard WRX motor I saw had 330cc injectors with the TD04 Mitsu trubo. The Sti came with 560cc with the IHI VF48. So the new turbo is a big dawg and will more than likely have modified fins and a coated housing, so I’m gonna have to get some big injectors for sure. I’ve heard that you can purchase injectors too big for your application and the ECU will only allow them to squirt a specified amount for a specific amount of time. So I’ll be getting 660cc injectors unless I heard otherwise. But my ECU won’t even be able to send a usable signal to the injectors anyway. To alleviate that problem, and a bunch of others associated with the ODBI stock ECU, I’m running a stand-alone engine management system, more than likely Megasquirt. Megasquirt is a car computer that can be plugged into a lap top and reads its own sensors (GM sensors like TPS and IAC), so I won’t have to try to get the existing cam/crank sensors to understand each other via the old ECU.

Do you kinda see what I mean by theoretical? This project is daunting, but the pay off will be so great! It’s easy to loose sight of the goal, but it’ll get done. And it’ll be awesome! Subaru Lego


Phase I, part two: The rest of the transmission

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , on March 29, 2010 by consortiumoffools

The next portion of the 5-speed conversion  involves buying and installing pedals, master cylinder, slave cyl, hard lines, clutch, pressure plate, throw-out bearing and fork.

Luckily I found all of these parts in the junkyard, except for the slave cyl which I bought on ebay for $20.   This covers the mechanical aspect of the conversion.  I still need to account for the neutral safety switch and the speedometer sensor, and I’m hoping they will be compatible with my car.   I’ll update with more info and pictures.  Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come:  porting and polishing my 2.5l SOHC heads.

Operation 1993 Subaru Legacy: Phase I

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , on February 12, 2010 by consortiumoffools

So I finally bought an AWD turbo car, a 1993 Subaru Legacy Turbo.  It came with an automatic transmission and a 2.2 liter oil-leaking turbo motor.  First order of business is converting the car to 5-speed manual.  Some automotive experts (mainly drag racing enthusiasts) claim that turbo motors are better supported by an automatic transmission.  The idea is that the engine remains at high RPMs during the quick shifts and thus the turbo continues to spin quickly.  If the turbo spins quickly, more power is actively made.  This idea sounds great if the car’s intended use is straight line racing, but my build is purposefully for small track road racing and auto cross.  I’m opting for the manual transmission because of the predictability and control a 5-speed offers.  The manual transmission allows the vehicle operator to select the appropriate gearing for approaching road situations, such as a turn or another vehicle.

I bought a junkyard 5-speed for $100.  Within the first 30 days (the warranty period) I cracked open the case to inspect the contents.  I inspected the gears for unusual chipping or lashing.  I also verified that each syncro lined up properly and that the tines were not chipped or otherwise destroyed.

After I was finished inspecting, I put gasket material (RTV) on each side of the case and slapped them together.  I popped a few bolts in the case to ensure it stayed together while I connected end case. The end case contains the center differential and output shaft.  After a few failed attempts I realized that all of the pieces of the transmission have to be put back together before tightening down the bolts to spec.  Many clearances inside transmissions are very small, so everything has to be orderly reassembled and tightened down.  When I finished lining everything up and connecting the case, I still had to bolt up the gear selector itself through the rectangular service door:

There’s one black bolt that didn’t seem to seat, but certainly was the right bolt.  And as soon as I tightened down the end of the transmission on in a star pattern, the output shaft’s bearings seated perfectly.  The output shaft is in the foreground on the left, the bolt on the gear selector is on the right and the center differential is in the background:

Above view of the same thing:
The end of the transmission back on:

Now the transmission is complete and ready to go.  I have also already purchased the other necessary parts for the conversion including the clutch master and slave cylinders, pedal assembly, clutch, flywheel, manual transmission mounts, throw-out bearing, fork, and starter.

Next installment:  porting and polishing 2.5l SOHC heads!

Project Neglected for Bikes, Snowboarding

Posted in Auto Articles, cycling, General News, snowboarding with tags , , on November 15, 2009 by consortiumoffools


Winter is arriving and my priorities are changing. This summer has been all about road cycling and mountain biking. I’m still going to continue to get out there on my bikes as much as possible, but it’s snowboarding season. To start the season off right, I bought a snowboard. It’s the last piece of the puzzle in my winter equipment line up. I hadn’t purchased a new snowboard since 2002, and that was my first. This board is much lighter and smaller, so I foresee more tricks in my riding career. With much of my summer money gone to bicycle maintenance and the allotment of my winter funds to lift tickets, there isn’t much left for the cars. I use the plural because it’s not just the project car Subaru that’s a money suck, my daily driver needs care too.

In order to ride mountain bikes or snowboard, I have to load up the gear, fill the car with gas and drive to the mountains. At first this seemed like an acceptable sacrifice for me. In fact, it’s still viable based on how much fun I have once I get there. But little did I realize how much of my project car money would be spent on the Focus. The most recent example is the set of snow tires I’m getting for the upcoming season. My summer tires have little grip in the wet, plus I’m planning several trips to Denver. I don’t want to spend the money on new tires, but it’s a must if I want to go snowboarding. Tires aren’t the only expense. I’ve also been changing the synthetic oil every 5,000 miles or so. The car has 113,000 miles on it, so larger items are prone to give out. So far I’ve replaced the timing belt, water pump, clutch, plugs, wires, shocks, brakes– all of the major wear items. The most obvious expense is the gas each trip requires. A less obvious expense is the wear over time, like the interior damage that snowboards and bikes incur when shoved into the hatch.

This past summer I solved the problem of where to put gear without damaging my interior while providing more passenger room: I bought a roof rack! I also bought the mounts for 4 snowboards and 2 bikes. Now I can just throw the muddy bikes and the wet snowboards right on the top of the car. It was $550 for the rack and all the mounts. Unfortunately, that’s $550 taken away from rebuilding my 2009 IHI VF48 Subaru STi turbocharger.

The intake manifolds with no soul and no purpose lay on the concrete bed that is the garage floor. A whole turbo farm, made up of TD04s with blown seals, sits dormant in its cardboard cage. Several injectors, all of them too small and all of them of questionable working order, sit on shelves. I open the garage all the time and see these sad forgotten car parts. Then I take a bike out and shut the door, forgetting all about the neglected Subaru museum.

Simple Pleasures

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , on July 13, 2009 by consortiumoffools

There are varying levels of joy to be had in an automobile. The typical iteration of joy described in most car magazines and high school computer labs nationwide involves huge horsepower numbers and quick 0-60 times. The idea is that the faster the car, and inevitably more expensive, the better it is. Driving such a beast (740 whp cammed C7 Z06, for example) is extremely fun and fulfills all of the hype associated with such cars. This particular brand of car fun stems from intimidation. You feel the raw power as you tap the accelerator and hear the engine howl. You respect a car that forces its driver to assertively and smoothly engage the clutch, or face the immediate consequence of stalling.

The supercar appeal with speed at the forefront of features is certainly viable, but the opposite kind of car can be extremely entertaining in the right situation. Fast expensive cars are known for their power, but also their impeccable handling, quality interiors, and stylish exteriors. I recently drove a brand new Infiniti G37S with a loud exhaust system. It sounded pretty cool, had plenty of power and looked great in black. It didn’t really stir my bones too much. Its feel was stale. It could be that the G37 is just like the G35, and I’ve grown more than sick of that car.

After the Infiniti, I drove a new Hyundai Accent. These little cars are predictable and cheap. They handle poorly, sport plastic interiors with tiny seats. All these so called drawbacks and I had a hilarious time! With 85 horsepower and a light tinny shell of a chassis, the Hyundai feels like a fat go-kart. I punched it around a corner, experienced understeer, then yanked the hand brake which successfully whipped the rear around into a fluid slide. With a tweak of the wheel in the opposite direction, and releasing the handbrake, the rear returned to its rightful place. The lame suspension of the basic Korean machine made for a body roll experience not unlike a minivan. ‘Topsy turvy’ almost describes it.

hyundai-accent-20-250x250 I had a much better time experiencing inertia dynamics in an economy car than straight line acceleration in a finer vehicle. Small cars are perfect for tiny race venues such as autocross and larger race cars are fit for wide, several mile long tracks. Each is entertaining in its own right. But then again, I can have fun in any car!

Want a New SUV? Go Chevy, Not Toyota

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by consortiumoffools


According to common contemporary American vehicle ideology, the masses believe that Japanese cars are inherently economic and reliable.  This national notion has harmed General Motors’ sales.  Historically, I haven’t been a GM supporter.  On the contrary, I’ve always disliked Chevrolet.  But after driving the latest model of the Chevrolet  Suburban and Toyota Sequoia, I’ll take the Chevy.

Based on comfort, styling, power, and feel, the recent redesign of the Chevrolet Suburban trumps its closest competitors. Chevy and Toyota are often compared because they are the top two leaders in vehicle sales in the US. In the past several years, Chevrolet has been making an average product. Not terrible, but by no means exceptional. When Toyota closed in on Chevrolet’s market, they were forced to wisen up, and start creating quality vehicles. And they have.

The newest Suburban features comfortable leather seats, finger friendly audio and AC control knobs, a quick uptake and sleek looks. Toyota’s rebuttal to the Suburban is the Sequoia. It is based on Toyota’s largest truck, the Tundra, and shares the same unimpressive façade. It also shares the 5.7 liter iForce V8, which actually is pretty impressive. It gets up and goes, have no doubt, but unfortunately it’s a stab of uncontrollable power which isn’t a bad thing, if you’re in a drag car. I’ll bet the truck delivers power more predictably during towing, however. In contrast, the Suburban accelerates quickly and predictably. The exhaust note is particularly pleasing, especially when selecting the least fuel efficient driving setting, “V8 mode.” The SUV’s computer will stifle cylinder operation for the sake of gas mileage in the other much less fun modes.


The interior of the Toyota feels cheap and reminds me of a fisher price toy. The AC controls feel loose when turned. The gear selector has the most awkward shape and placement. I wonder if I’ll break it as I pull it through the shift maze the Japanese are obsessed with. The cockpit of the Chevy is a whole different story. Knobs that feel expensive inlaid on a smooth surface are the hallmarks of the center control panel. Straightforward styling and practicality dominate. The steering wheel, optionally wrapped in leather, is easy to grip and amply aims the Suburban to the operator’s desired destination.

When it comes down to it, the Chevrolet just drives better. It’s built on a solid frame and handles responsively in traffic. This is the 9th, and possibly the last, generation of the Suburban and it is the best yet.

2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Happy Easter Hyundai!

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , on April 12, 2009 by consortiumoffools

Not only is the latest generation of Accent egg-shaped, the cars come in Easter colors!


The Accent is Hyundai’s smallest car.  It’s sole purpose is cheap transportation.  It’s tiny, cute, and now comes with Hyundai’s brand new Assurance Plus financing plan.   The plan allows buyers to retain their vehicle for three months after they loose their job.  The pessimists (or realists, depending on how you see it) over at Korea’s finest foresee even more layoffs within the year.  If this happens to you, and you just bought one of their cars, Hyundai will pay your car payments for 3 months.  If you’re still unemployed you can just take the thing back to the dealership without negative effects on your credit.  All car dealerships take back their cars if owners cannot make car payments, but it usually kicks the owner’s credit in the ass.

A more interesting set of Hyundais is the Genesis.  There are two: the Genesis sedan and the Genesis coupe.  Each is a totally separate vehicle with few common bonds.  They are both RWD and are a noticeable step above the average Hyundai.  The designers actually tried to create a few high-end products instead of an econocrapbox-max (sorry Accent).

The two-door is what really excites me.  It can be ordered with one of two engine configurations, one a 3.8-liter V-6 with 306 horsepower, and the other is a 2.0-liter turbo four, with 210 horsepower.  And remember, rear-wheel drive!  Its wheels are set close to the corners, similar to the other comparable sport coupes.  This design allows for better handling and steering response (think Mini Cooper, but less so).


The car is a bit heavy as it sits (3300 lbs) but in the fall we’ll see a track version that costs $3,000 less, weighs less (no sunroof, no blue tooth, powerless seats), and features a torsen LSD and Brembo brakes.  All from the factory, all under warranty.  Hyundai, who do you think you are?  Honda?

The second car with the Genesis name plate is a sedan.  It’s larger and emulates a Lexus.  It’s yet another good example of why Japan should take Korean metal more seriously.


The sedan is the largest project Hyundai has taken on yet, and they’re aiming for the top.  A 375 horsepower 4.7 liter V8  powers this four thousand pound beast.  The styling and quality of the workmanship are alongside its Japanese counterparts.  The interior possesses several more amenities than a typical Hyundai, such as a center console media selector knob and a navigation system.    Roomier, comfier, and quieter than any other Hyundai, this large luxury sedan may not be quite as nice as a BMW or Lexus, but for $37,250, it’s a great deal!