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.
03 April, 2021
Sorry I missed last week's
update; I was on the beach in Baja...
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.
23 March, 2021
We picked up our new transaxle today!
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.
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...).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"...