2021 Activities:
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12 June, 2021

Trevor has been working on the exhaust system all week, it's all done and he spent today installing it on the car.  It's a bit of a puzzle fitting the exhaust around the bumper, engine mounts and engine accessories but he got it done.

 


Exhaust and Muffler mounted

 

I spent today measuring for axles; with the transaxle side CV's bolted up, we're able to simulate axles with a piece of PVC pipe.  Then, we disconnected the shocks and spring carriers so that we were able to cycle the suspension from "full droop" (25 degrees of axle angle for CV longevity) to "mid-travel" (axles horizontal) and measured at each.    The left and right sides were slightly different but we'll be able to use a single length axle for both sides without issue.

 


PVC pipe simulating the left side axle

 

 

06 June, 2021

When welding stainless steel tubing, it's helpful to provide an internal "purge gas".  Our existing single output regulator didn't make that easy to do so we ordered a "dual flow meter" regulator for our TIG welder.  It arrived on Friday so Trevor is now able to purge the inside of the exhaust tubing with Argon when welding.  The internal "shield gas" reduces a "powdering" effect on the inside of the tubing adjacent to the exterior welds.  Trevor completed most of the welding yesterday; here are a couple of pictures:

 


Welding one of the exhaust tubes
You can see the Argon "purge" tube here - it allows us to displace the air inside the tube with Argon while welding.

 


"V-band" clamp joint between the collector and muffler
Rather than welding the muffler directly to the collector, we elected to install a "V-band" flange to allow us to try different muffler arrangements without the need to cut and weld the exhaust system.


While Trevor has been working steadily on the pre-runner, I've been occupied with family matters and haven't been able to spend as much time on the car as I'd like.  My current focus is the drive train; I have the 934 CV's for the transaxle now.  Once installed, we'll be able to set our maximum rear suspension droop based on axle angle (25 degrees maximum) and measure for axle "clip to clip" and limit strap length.  Following the measurement for "clip to clip length", we'll cycle the rear suspension to mid-travel and measure for "maximum overall axle length".  In my first look, I noted that the left and right side dimensions appear to be slightly different (not uncommon); I'll be trying find a single axle spec. that'll work for both sides...  I think a slightly longer axle than we need for "minimum clip to clip length" will probably work fine - it should still fit within the "maximum overall axle length" limitation.  A possible problem with this is the length of the splines on the axles - if an axle is too long, the CV may disengage the splines when at mid-travel.  That would take much more suspension travel than we'll have though, I think...

 

 

29 May, 2021

Trevor continued working on the exhaust system this week; he has it all tacked up and ready to weld.  We're awaiting the arrival of our new dual output flow meter for our tig welder so we can add an argon "purge" to the inside of the headers as Trevor welds them up.  Hopefully, we should have it by next weekend.  In the meantime, Trevor will continue fine tuning the fit of all the joints and tacking it all securely. 

I finished up the install of the gas pedal - there was a little fabrication involved to stiffen the floor in the area of the pedal.  It's time to begin planning the routing and measuring for the throttle cable.  Next, I started trying to measure the drive axle lengths we need.  I didn't get far because Trevor needed the chassis to be still while he was working on the exhaust and I needed to jack it up to remove the shocks to allow the rear trailing arms to move freely through the full range of travel while I measured.  There are two important measurements we need: the maximum allowable total length of the axle (at mid-travel, when the CV's are at the same height) and the minimum axle "clip to clip" length to get full travel (full "droop" and full "bump").  Ideally, we need the transaxle CV's installed to measure the minimum axle length so I guess we need to get some on order...

 

 

21 May, 2021

Trevor has been working on building the exhaust system for the last several days - he has it all tacked up and looking good now.  It was a challenge to get all the tubes routed to the collector while keeping them the same length and staying inside the cage perimeter!  I worked on some little things today; fitting the starter, mounting the gas pedal and clearancing the rear firewall for the shift cables.  Little things, but they needed doing...

 


Exhaust System Fabrication
This photo doesn't show the fit well - it appears that the exhaust is in contact with things when it is actually well clear.

 

19 May, 2021

Trevor and I made the decision to debut the Pre-Runner "Wrap" today.  We've been holding off showing the final look in the hopes that by doing so, we'd be the "first" to do something like this.  We've never seen another car with a similar look (though there may be another we didn't find).  We understand that keeping it looking good while running around in the desert will be a challenge...

Here it is:

 


 

 


 

 


 

As you can see, our pre-runner has a Baja California theme! 

 

 

16 May, 2021

This was a "machine shop" day for us; Trevor needed to mill the EG-33 exhaust flanges for the larger diameter tubing we'll be using and I needed to turn our starter mount flange on the lathe to fit the transaxle starter mount hole.  The High-Torque starter we purchased didn't quite fit into the mount location on our transaxle bell housing - an example of cumulative tolerances causing trouble.  I think the bell housing starter mount hole was slightly undersize (0.005") and the OD of the starter mount plate was a bit "out of round"; it was easier to take a few thousandths off the starter mount flange OD than to open up the hole in the bell housing...  It's important to keep the ID and OD of the mount flange concentric; the lathe makes that easy.  Both jobs could have been done with hand tools but the mill and lathe are so much faster and accurate.  I suppose our solution could cause a bit of trouble if we ever have to replace the starter in the field but as long as we use the same brand starter, we can just swap the mount plate to the new starter (2 screws) and bolt it up. 

 

 

13 May, 2021

We didn't have a pre-runner work day last weekend; I had to go to Baja to take care of some business related to our house at Bahia Santa Maria.  Trevor spent some time on Saturday and Sunday designing and creating an exhaust system "mock-up".  He's decided upon a 6 into 1 collector with a "V" clamp fitting to allow changing the muffler arrangement at will.  He's purchased all the tubing we need and plans to fabricate the exhaust in place on the engine.

 


Exhaust System parts
This is some of the "raw" material Trevor will use to fabricate the pre-runner exhaust system after settling on a final design.

 

01 May, 2021

Sorry there wasn't an update last week - family matters intervened...

Today, Trevor and I finished the fuel cell install - that allowed us to "final install" the transaxle and engine also.

 


Fuel Cell installed and strapped down
As you can see, the fuel cell is a tight fit between the upper chassis tubes.  It's also a tight fit front to rear and requires that the transaxle "nose" be lowered a little so that the fuel cell can be rotated into position then the support tubes installed.

 


With the fuel cell installed, the engine and transaxle were final installed

 

17 April, 2021

We made good progress on the pre-runner today; the fuel cell support structure is done and the hold down straps are nearly complete.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the work today but I'll post some next time.  Basically, the fuel cell fits very snugly above the transaxle and behind the rear firewall - we need to un-bolt the transaxle and lower the "nose" section to allow the fuel cell to be rotated into position.  Once there, it's supported by a rear "shelf" and two "cross bars" - one at the front of the fuel cell and one between the shelf and the front bar.  The cross bars are removable - again because the fuel cell is a snug fit. The fuel cell had to be installed and removed several times to allow access for welding and then we painted afterwards.  The hold down straps are 2" wide 4130 strips bolted to chassis tabs at the front and tensioned at the rear with adjustable fittings.  To complete the hold down straps, we need to reinstall the fuel cell; that'll have to wait for our next work day to give the support structure paint some time to dry.  Once the hold down straps are complete and painted, we'll final install the fuel cell and transaxle

 

10 April, 2021

Trevor and I spent yesterday working on the pre-runner; we focused on the fuel cell mounting and fabricating engine mount braces. We don't want all the engine weight to be supported by the transaxle bell housing so we added a mount to the rear cage structure.  That mount ended up in the middle of a horizontal tube; not the ideal support so we added a removable diagonal for additional rigidity.

 


Engine mount support diagonal
We fitted the support while the engine was installed and bolted to the mount to insure that it all fit correctly.  Here you see the tube "tacked" in place, the engine removed, ready for final welding.  It's not ideal to have the tube connector in "tension" like this but we need it to be removable so we can get the bumper on and off the car...

 


Fuel cell mounting "mocked up"
We temporarily installed the fuel cell so that we could begin fabricating the support structure.  Here you can see it supported by the rear "tray" welded to the transaxle "hanger mount" cross member.  The middle and front supports are yet to be fabricated.  Those mounts will need to be removable; the fuel cell is a tight fit in this space and has to be rotated into position...  Once the fuel cell is in the space, the forward mounts will be installed to support it.

 

 

03 April, 2021

Sorry I missed last week's update; I was on the beach in Baja... 
While I was out of the country, Trevor continued working on the pre-runner.  He mounted the transaxle and the engine while I was away - at least temporarily.  With those two in place now, we can really make some progress on integrating them into the car. 

 


Engine mounted to transaxle

 

I'm back home now so Trevor and I spent most of the day working on the car; Trevor working on engine mounts and I worked on mounting and connecting the shift cables.  We both finished our respective jobs for today; the engine mounts are done and the transaxle is hooked up to the shifter and operating normally. 

Next time, the fuel cell mounts and measuring for axles will be on the agenda... 

 

 

24 March, 2021

I'm out for a week or so; need to go check on our house in Baja...  It's been almost a year since we've been able to go, with Covid restrictions and family commitments - we need to go check on it and pay rent.  We're hoping to make it a small vacation - but that will depend on the house being in good condition.  We'll see.

Trevor bolted the transaxle into the pre-runner after work today. 

 


Our Weddle S5 mounted in the pre-runner chassis
Now that it's bolted in place, we can sort out the shift cable mounting and attachment details, measure for axle length and install a clutch slave cylinder.  We can also mount the fuel cell; it's going to be directly above the transaxle.  Once that's in place, we can start working on the radiator installation.  We can also bolt the engine on, fabricate engine mounts, install a throttle linkage, plumb the fuel and oil systems, etc...  Lots of things were waiting on the transaxle installation!

 

 

23 March, 2021

We picked up our new transaxle today! 

 


Our new Weddle S5 transaxle
Rick at "Power Box" (Hugo's European Car Service in Encinitas, CA) built us this beautiful Weddle S5 transaxle for the pre-runner.  Now that we have this major component, we'll install it in the chassis and begin "filling in the blanks" until the drive train is complete. 

 

 

20 March, 2021

Nothing new to report at this point, but our transaxle is done and ready to be picked-up.  We're excited to be bringing this home in the next few days; we'll mount it in the chassis and start building up to and around it next.  There'll be lots to do including connecting/mounting the shift cables, the clutch slave cylinder, gear position indicator, etc..  We'll also be able to measure for axle length so we can get a pair on order along with the "934" CV's needed for the transaxle end of each. 

 

 

16 March, 2021

Things are starting to come together - we have the car back from being wrapped and our Weddle S5 transaxle is being built by Rick and Adam at "Power Box".  The transaxle is the "Big Ticket" component (aside from the chassis itself) in the build; it required some saving and planning but it's finally coming together for us.  Once we have it on hand, we'll install it in the chassis and continue building up to and around it as necessary.  There are lots of things that we'll be able to finish up at that point - shift linkages, clutch hydraulics, axles, CV's, etc..  We'll also be able to mount the engine and begin planning and installing all the supporting systems.

 


Our Weddle S5 Transaxle being assembled by "PowerBox"

 

 

13 March, 2021

Today was a big day for us; the pre-runner wrap was completed this week and we trailered it home this morning!  To say that we're pleased with the result is an understatement!  The pattern is unique; we've never seen anything like it elsewhere and we hope to keep it that way until we're done with the build!  As we've said previously, we'll not be posting any photos just yet; we'll wait to unveil the car when it's ready for the desert.  Trevor really hit a "home run" with the concept and execution - can't wait for the "reveal"!

 

 

07 March, 2021

Not much to report this week; we've been told that our wrap will be completed by this coming Saturday.  We're planning to go pick up the pre-runner and return it to the shop at that time.  For now, we're in a bit of a waiting game - the car is out of our shop and the transaxle is being built elsewhere...  We've been trying to nail down the engine ECU details; we have a nice harness, the ECU is supposed to arrive tomorrow and it looks like most everything is accounted for except a "Wideband Lambda sensor" (O2 sensor). The harness Lambda connector has four wires and we're trying to match the type of connector so we can get the correct harness extension type...  It's a bit frustrating to have the car out of our control for so long! 

 

 

27 February, 2021

Trevor and I have been working multiple pre-runner issues this week; reviewing the "wrap" design, getting a transaxle build started, deciding on an ECU and continuing with basic engine assembly.  Trevor spent today continuing the assembly of the engine; he final installed the sump plate and ignition "coil packs".  We need to identify the fuel injectors that came with the engine before we install them.  This engine was turbocharged previously so the injectors we have may not be correct for our "normally aspirated" build; we're trying to track down the specifications on what we have in hand...

We saw a preliminary design for the "wrap" - we liked what we saw and are excited to see the final product soon!  We don't have an exact eta yet but hope we'll be able to get the pre-runner back soon.   As I mentioned previously, we will not be posting any photos of the wrap until the car is essentially done...  Sorry.

We've been planning to purchase a Weddle S5 transaxle for the pre-runner; it's a big ticket item and we've been saving for the day we need it on hand.  That day seems to have arrived; we need the transaxle installed so that we can continue fabricating the basic systems - shifting, starting, axles, etc..  We also need the transaxle installed so that we can mount the engine and begin installing it's supporting systems.  We're working with Rick at "PowerBox" for our transaxle; the Weddle kits seem to be "long lead time" items at the moment but Rick has a lead on one for us.  We'll probably be held up a bit waiting for a ring and pinion set but at least we'll be moving forward...

Our engine did not come with an ECU, but did come with a very nice/complete harness for a Motec M48 (an older but very capable ECU that the engine was previously run with).  We've been looking at all the options, including buying a used M48 (no longer offered as new) or starting over with a different brand ECU.  There are obviously pros and cons for all the various options - at the moment, we're thinking that the Motec ECU is the way to go as it would simply plug directly in to the existing harness.  That seems the least likely to force a whole bunch of other expensive changes but it's an older ECU and we need to find someone to help us with setup/tuning (we have someone in mind, but we need to verify their ability and desire to work with this older unit...).

 


Coil packs installed

 

20 February, 2021

Another "machine shop" day; we are converting the pre-runner engine to a "dry sump" configuration; eliminating the stock oil pan and replacing it with a plate that simply closes up the crank case and provides the scavenge pump oil pick up location.  There were some areas on the "inside" face that needed to be milled in order to provide a path for bearing oil drainage and we also wanted to mill a slight "sump" into the plate to allow oil to be directed towards the actual scavenge fittings.  We began by drilling the sump plate to engine mounting holes, then counter-bored them so that we can recess the bolts.  Following that, we turned the plate over and milled the inside face features.  All that remains to be done is to weld the AN connection fittings in place.

 


Sump Plate Blank
We used a band saw to cut the rough outlines, milled the edges to final shape, then polished them.

 

 


Sump Plate mounting holes drilled and counter-bored
The two holes in the middle of the plate are where the AN fittings will be welded in place (fittings seen in upper left of the photo)
 

 


"Inside Face" milled to shape
We milled these depressions into the plate in order to help direct the returning oil to the scavenge pump pick-up fittings

 

13 February, 2021

Today was a "machine shop" day; we needed to fabricate intake manifold spacers for the pre-runner engine.  Our installation requires us to rotate the intake manifold 180 degrees from stock, causing a slight interference issue with the alternator.  By raising the manifold 1/2", we are able to solve the problem - but the needed spacer is not readily available...  We are fortunate to have a Bridgeport mill in our shop; we put it to good use today.

 


Milling the blank to shape
Our manual mill allowed us to easily shape the blank's exterior edges.

 


Boring the ID's to match the intake manifold
The ID's were opened up using an end mill followed by a boring head - very pleased with the results

 


Finished spacer on the manifold
This is a 6 cylinder engine so we made two spacers, one for each bank of cylinders.

 


Intake manifold installed with spacer
The alternator/intake manifold clearance issue is now resolved.

 

 

06 February, 2021

Today was a big day for the family: our grandson's first birthday party.  With the threat of Covid still present, the party was mostly "virtual" but the few invitees were masked and social distanced...  We all had fun and it was a memorable event. 

Following the party, Trevor and I met at the shop for a little work on the pre-runner.  We need to fabricate a few things for the engine: a plate to replace the oil pan for our "dry sump" conversion and some spacers for the induction manifold to allow us to install it "backwards" without interference with the alternator.  We're using 1/2" aluminum plate for each so we began the process of cutting "blanks" for each of the needed parts.  Our small band saw was not up to the task so we'll need to head to my brother's shop (Custom Aircraft Parts) to use his...  Once the blanks are cut, we'll mill them to final shape: we primarily need the induction spacers right now so we can finish the basic engine assembly.  We'll work on the "dry sump" conversion once the basic assembly is complete. 

 

 

30 January, 2021

Trevor trailered the pre-runner to the "wrap shop" today; he's been working with them for quite some time to design the wrap.  The recent winter storms complicated the move a bit - icy roads were a concern but all went smoothly and the car is now out of our hands for a while.  We expect the wrap to take some time; no clear delivery date was mentioned though we tried...  We are not planning to make the wrap public until the car is nearly done; we're excited about the design and a bit concerned that someone will copy our design before our car is finished...  When we're near completion, we'll post photos.

 

 

23 January, 2021

Spent part of today installing the Subaru EG33 valve timing belt components - all the idler pulleys, drive gears, belt covers and the belt.  Everything is now assembled and "timed" correctly; the engine rotates smoothly with no interference issues - a huge load off our minds!  Trevor mocked up the intake manifold and accessories so that we can see what changes need to be made in order to "clock" the intake manifold 180 degrees from stock.  We need to orient the intake in this way in order to allow a "rear engine" installation without interference with the transaxle mount and fuel cell.  This is commonly done but generally requires relocation of the alternator - unfortunately, we can't move the alternator because the "dry sump" pump will occupy the space in which it's normally relocated...  We need another solution for the alternator/intake manifold interference issue then; it appears that the installation of a 1/2" spacer between the manifold and the engine will solve the problem.  We'll have a closer look next time and measure accurately so we can fabricate what we need.

 


Accessories and Intake Manifold mocked up
By inserting a spacer between the intake manifold and the intake "risers" we can create the needed clearance between the alternator and the throttle body.  Normally, the intake manifold has the throttle body facing the other direction - that's not possible in our application.  The board acting as a spacer is approximately 3/4" thick and creates about 1/4" more clearance than needed - we're thinking a 1/2" aluminum plate milled to shape should do the job.

 

 

16 January, 2021

Another pre-runner work day today.  Trevor spent part of the day cleaning and painting the engine valve covers and intake manifold.  The remainder of the day was spent prepping the aluminum body panels for wrap/paint.  We chose to use a process commonly used on aircraft - an etching solution followed by an "Alodine" conversion treatment.  Once etched, the Alodine solution "converts" the surface of the aluminum, providing corrosion protection.  Afterwards, the panels can be left raw, painted or wrapped.  The corrosion protection provided by the Alodine is enough to protect them by itself but we'll be painting some, wrapping others and leaving some raw.

 

 

10 January, 2021

Trevor and I spent yesterday continuing the assembly of the pre-runner engine.  During the periods when Trevor didn't need any help, I began the process of prepping the aluminum body panels for being painted or "wrapped" (that's a three step process: 1 - de-grease wash, 2 - acid etch and 3 - Alodine conversion coating).  I completed step 1; the next time, we'll do steps 2 and 3.


Right Side Cam Shafts installed
After we torqued the head studs to their final values, it was time to install the new lifters and camshafts.

 

01 January, 2021

Happy New Year!  We hope everyone has a better 2021 than was 2020 for so many! 

We spent today continuing assembly of the pre-runner engine; It never ceases to amaze me how what should take an hour usually takes two or three times that long....  Trevor spent some time during the week cleaning parts so that we'd be ready to go today.  That was helpful but there were still things that slowed us down - we basically got the short block installed on the engine stand, the head studs and gaskets installed and the heads loosely bolted in place.  There were many little details that required attention before we could accomplish the "big" things, slowing progress considerably.  We wanted to get more done today and we're probably just being overly cautious in some ways but we want to "do it right"...

 


Short Block finally on the engine stand
Now that it's on the stand, it'll be easier to assemble

 


Head Studs and gasket installed
High strength ARP studs installed in place of the stock head bolts and a Cometic MLS gasket

 


Heads installed, awaiting final torque
We needed (and didn't have) a particular 12 point deep socket to finish the head installation.  We also didn't have enough of the special hardened washers for all the head studs - I'll have to modify some locally available hardened washers to do the job (I couldn't find exactly what we need - it's great to have our own machine shop!).  Hopefully, I can do that this week so we can finish the head installation and move on to the valve train, oil pump, water pump, etc. next weekend.

 

 

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