RX7 FD3 – Triple Rotor
And so it begins.. With the RB30 all but done it is time to start the next project! I just can’t help myself! When I sold the last RX7 I took a non-runner in part exchange already with some plans in mind! These plans have changed a few times but hey! I hope I chose a good one! Once again I am starting with a blank canvas. A very tidy 1994 black FD3.
The plan.. Well you will see!! But I will let you into a little secret now.. It involves adding an extra rotor into the engine bay in the form of a Cosmos 20B engine! I think this one has the potential to break me! But if I get to the end it is going to be worth a lot of pain!
In The Beginning..
The project kicked off slowly in the winter of 2011. To start with I had to remove the old 13B motor from the engine bay. Very clean and tidy considering is has been sat for a while. Completely seized solid mind!All that pipework and rubbish on the stock set-up takes up so much room and makes the engine bay look so messy and confusing! What hope have I got when I add another rotor into the bay!
Some of you may know or will have probably figured that doing an engine conversion like this is not just a case of take one out.. Put one in and of you go! First issue to overcome is mounting the engine in the car. This in itself throws up a whole manor of issues and question which need answering about which road to go down and one wrong turn could wind you up in a whole great mess! I am sure I will find more as I go along too.
So with the engine being a whole rotor housing and plate longer this means the front of the engine will sit further forwards. This in turn means that not only will it have to sit over the steering rack but in doing so it will sit to high to close the bonnet as the inlet elbow, alternator, waterpump filler neck and inlet plenum will all get in the way.
How do you get around this? Well some people would opt to position the engine further back in the engine bay so the front is inline with how the old 13B used to fit. So that is approximately 5″ back. This is no small job as it requires modification to the firewall, the inlet plenum, propshaft and the power plant frame that connects the diff to the gearbox. This route is al very well for race car builds as it also retains the perfect weight distribution of the car. For a road car build and my build this is not the way I will be going!
My plan is to mount the engine in the stock position relative to how the gearbox sits in the car. I will then do a combination of raise the engine slightly to gain some clearance on the steering rack and also lower the steering rack mounting position slightly. This will require a bumpsteer correction kit which we will discuss later.
While also planning my engine fitting I thought it wise to look into some other engine features that might affect how I mount the engine and give other clearance issues. The 20B waterpump although nice and big strangely has two thermostats in it. The body this is all mounted in is quite large and takes up a lot of space on the front of the engine and height for bonnet clearance. These are commonly swapped out for the 13B waterpump which other than requiring longer studs from the 13B motor is a straight swap. Currently I plan to go with this option but might look into modifying the 20B waterpump to keep the increase flow rate. Cooling is always and issue with rotary engines! I would also need to mount the 13B powersteering pump to the 20B if I wanted to keep my power rack. Fortunately again this is compatible other than rearranging some studs in the block. You do end up with one less stud fixing the pump on but 4 out of 5 is plenty! this moves onto the next point to make note of. I will need to run the 13B front pulley set to power the pump and P/S as the 20B uses a completely different arrangement. Here is the front of the 20B with the pump and bits stripped off.incidentally you can see the 20B CAS (crank angle sensor) for the ignition timing in this picture. I plan to run this over the 13B electronic trigger control type after reading what other people have used. It also saves changing the front cover of the engine which in turn requires some slight sump modification and the microtech ECU I will be using was powering the engine this way before in a previous life!
Getting Jiggy With It
So we are into May 2012 and not a lot has been happening for one reason or another. I did do some bits of bodywork fitting which will be covered in the other page. Now I was decided on how I was going to mount the engine I had to decide how I would get it in the right place. I devised a cunning plan to make a jig from the old 13B rear engine plate with the 13B mounts on it and use the same holes in the rear plate of the 20B to bolt the jig and give me a mounting location to work to. This might be one of those wrong turns as I will find out very shortly.
So the left picture shows the simple jig bolted to the 13B rear plate and driverside engine mounting. The right image shows the jig in position on the 20B with the rubber mounting in place ready to start fabricating the rest of the mount. The old 20B mount is on the engine in this picture also so you can see how different the mounting position of the 13B is! With the old mount unbolted and a selection of off cuts of tube and plate from my local metal suppliers I began tacking together the mount piece by piece. Some had scratching was involved to make sure I didn’t put metal where it might get in the way down the road! Only time will tell if I was successful there!
The other side was jigged in much the same manor and after a lot of back and forth off the engine to finish up all the welds I had a couple of fairly sturdy looking mounts.
The final welded mounts were then cleaned up, shot blasted and painted to finish them off. the rubber mountings were then fixed in place ready to final fitting to the engine.
I was aware that when fitting the engine in the position I was going for either the sump pan or subframe would need modifications as would the steering rack to help gain clearance. So I did plenty of research on this and then decided there was only one thing for it.. When in doubt cut it out!
Finally with the bits of and out the way I was ready to carry out my first test fit of the engine on its new mounts!
And then there were 3!
Much to my surprise the engine slotted in on it’s new mounts with very little effort.. but then it is only the beginning!
Racking my brain.
So with the engine in the bay I could now start looking at what would need to be done to get the rack back in place! Looking under the engine it was clear the front well of the sump came far to close to the mounting position for the steering rack. There was maybe 30mm gap and you needed to get the rack in plus clearance, maybe 60mm! Hmm. It was certainly not going to be a straight lowering of the rack as that would be far to much drop for a bump-steer correction kit to take up. After racking my brains some more and reading up on the various conversion kits you can by and numerous build threads I stumbled on some vital information. The Defined Autoworks Conversion kit which uses a similar approach to the one I was trying raises the engine to gain the rack clearance! Ahh hhaa! Well I was not too keen on raising the motor so much. partly because it already fouled with the bonnet which I will have to sort out later down the line. But also that is a lot or weight to raise up high from a handling stand point. Instead I thought I would do a bit of both.. That is lower the rack mountings a bit and raise the engine slightly. My plan was about 16mm on the each and so the fun began!
Raising the engine was easy enough.. I modified my existing mounts with some thick aluminum spacers either side of the rubber mount.Whilst waiting for the new mounting spacers to be made I thought I would get on an modify the steering rack as I knew what needed doing and it would be handy to have that ready for testing fitting with the new mounts. The modification requires the rack to be completely stripped down which is not as bad a job as it sounds. Bit messy but okay. You then have to cut the centre pressure fitting off of the rack, blank the hole you have left and drill a new hole about 180 degs around the other side of the rack and weld the fitting back on. Job done!
Ready for the next test fit I also have a standard sump and oil pickup pipe on standby. I dropped the engine in with the new mounts on.. All good so far. A good amount more clearance at the front sump well but just looking I could tell no where near enough for the rack yet. I tried with the stock sump as well to see if it would help but no joy. Simply not enough clearance yet. The rack mounts definitely needed lowering. After thinking about a few ways I could attempt this with the engine in there ended up only being one thing for it.. Take the engine back out again and remove another big lump of subframe!I was very careful to take measurements from various places before cutting so I could check where the rack mounts were when I eventually welded it back! My limiting factor now was how far I could drop the rack. I guess around 3/4 would be the max other wise you could not get bumpsteer ends to correct it. I found a set of trackrod ends with 16mm spacers so thought this was a good number to aim for. Setting the rack back on the section of subframe with a jack and spacers I quickly found out it was not going to be this easy
Looking at the space with the subframe dropped down there was enough height to clear the rack but it was as if the engine was sat back a few millimeters too far as the wide section of the rack fouled the stock sump well. I quickly realised that all the builds I had seen were US based and therefore LHD cars so the rack being the other way around would actually clear the sump in this case as the narrow section would run through were it currently fouled. This was a right royal pain! I had got a possible get out of jail card up my sleeve though which I had previously considered as a last resort. The only way around this without doing something drastic to either the steering or engine mounting position was to modify the sump and pickup pipe. So I took my old already modified sump and cut the front well clean off of it. I then mounted this on the engine with both pickup pipes I had. With everything back in the bay I could see what needed to be where to get the clearance I needed. I was lucky in as much as it appeared I could create enough space by just re-fabricating the sump well a bit tighter and using the stock pick-up pipe. So I set about making a new well piece by piece. Check fitting it back in the engine bay every step of the way!
I was confident enough half way through doing this the rack was going to mount where I had planned so I tacked the section of subframe in place to make my life easier when test fitting and then set about completing the new sump well. This also included moving the oil drain position for easier access.
It may not be the prettiest sump well but it serves the purpose! it will certainly look a lot better once its all be prepped and painted.
Now the sump was taken care of I had to finish off patching the subframe back in. Partly due to the hideous weather we have been having and also for ease in the long run, I chose to strip the subframe out of the car to complete it. Plus I was going to want to paint it all up when it was done anyway!
I cut away around where I had tacked the section in to give it more shape and also added a nice big area of clearance where the attachment to the column ran as this was fouling where it had been lowered.
And then it was all ready to go for prep and paint along with the sump!
While I was preparing to get the subframe and sump powder coated and there appeared to be a bit of a break in the poor weather, I decided to whip off some other bits for a spruce up, Mainly just brackets and shielding from in the engine bay for now. I thought I would also take the opportunity to give the engine bay a lick of paint too.
Although the engine bay was not in a bad way at all I thought I might as well give it a fresh coat of paint to shine it up while the egine was out. It took me about 10 times as long to clean and mask as it did do paint but hey! Its all in the preperation! I was very pleased with the finished too using a 2K direct to gloss Mazda black.
In preparation for one of the next steps of the project I had ordered some stainless steel laser jet cut flanges for the turbo, manifold and downpipe. I ended up drawing my own flanges specific to my requirements as 20b flanges are not an ‘off the shelf’ type item. On top of that the flange on the turbo I have is not a standard T4 flange.
Here is a sneak peek of the set I had made and the manifold flange test fitted on the engine!
Earlier while I was doing sub-frame mods I also made some modifications to the steering rack to aid sump clearance on the engine. I could now finally assemble the rack back together after a bit of a tidy up and a coat of paint!
I needed some bumpsteer correction rods ends to go with the modified rack and lowered subframe which I have sourced and will get some pictures up soon! In the mean-time though I could fit the rack to the subframe so I could get the engine back in and make sure nothing had moved since I welded it all up and had it all powder coated! This would also allow me to re-route the power steering pipes on the rack to clear the sump and I could finally start work on the turbo manifold!
Mounting the Turbo
My next big mission was to drop the engine back in and then determine where I was going to have space to position the turbo and somehow fix it there ready to start fabricating the manifold!
The first bit turned out to be quite easy.. finding a position to put the turbo! There was a nice space just forward of the inlet manifold where the inner wing stops.. Just hope there is nothing else I need to fit here, further down the road, I have not thought of! Around this area seems to be quite a common spot for turbos to be mounting in fairness! The turbo I am running is quite a beast. Once again I have gone for the less common approach of the Holset. I really want to see what I can do with one of these units! It was supplied by a company in Finland that do bespoke Holset units so I hope the spec is going to be about right after some long discussions with Kimi there!! Time will tell! Regardless it’s a thing of beauty!
After much deliberating and trying to make straps to hold the turbo in place. I decided the only way to get it securely mounted and ready to work from was to get some off cuts of angle iron and weld a bracket. I could rotate the core to bolt the bracket onto the oil return mounting flange and then connect the bracket to the air pump mounting point that was currently unused. Let me tell you.. Trying to hold a circa 15kg turbo in a limited amount of space with one hand and mark up bits of steel ready for welding is quite a game! A few times I thought I had broken my wrist! But persistence and some good eyeballing prevailed in the end! I was very pleased to get this part of the job complete and with the turbo in the bay I could stand back and really appreciate its size!
Finally I started to play around with some of the stainless elbows I had to see where the manifold might run? It’s going to be tricky that’s for sure! Think I will try and model it in CAD first to get an idea of what I need to do and roughly what cuts and lengths I will need in my tubes and bends.
At this point I might side step to some body work or something while I plan my attack and psyche myself up! Plenty of other bits to do and also this could be a nice winter job!?
3 Into 1?
I decided to take the bull by the horns and just get on with the manifold! No sense putting off the pain! I thought in order to plan my best route of making my 3 into 1 manifold I would start by taking a load of measurement for the car and turbo as they currently sat and model this in 3D. I could then hopefully get an idea of how I could package it all and what sort of bends and cuts I might need to make before I set about the job.
It took a little while to work out what I felt was the best route but it will hopefully look a little something like this:
So there we have it.. A plan! Next weekend I might even get really brave and start cutting up bits of metal! Some of the cuts are going to be fun with compound angles!
Manifold Mania Prt1
With all the possible planning done. It was time to put in some action! I decided to start at the top and work down. This mean the 3 into 1 collector would have to get done first! Well at least cut and tacked. I managed to borrow a chop saw that I could set-up for cutting the angles and after reading some useful threads on line knew what needed to be done. This involved getting a few handy tools in, including an adjustable set square and angle gauge and an inclinometer.
The tricky bit with the collector is cutting the compound angles at the ends so all the parts fit together nice and tight. Despite what I read on some sites the angle is quite tricky to work out! First you have the angle that you wish the tubes to come together at. That is easy.. So you can set your cutting bed at that angle and make your first cut, 30° in my case. Then the trick comes with the next bit. You need to rotate the tube a number of degrees to make your second cut and give your tube a wedge shaped end. Now being that I am making a 3 into 1 collector you would think 360°/3=120°. Wrong! Well right if you look at the tube through the 30° angle you just cut. But not along the axis you can turn it and cut it! So this is where the Inclinometer comes in useful.
Very crude but it worked! You need to mount the inclinometer somehow and fix it to you pipe. Make your first cut and the ensure the gauge is reading zero (for ease). Then carefully rotate the tube the desired amount of degrees and lock it off to make your next cut. I am sure there is a formula for it but I ended working it out in my 3D model and it was approximate 67.5°. Bit annoying after I had cut them 60° first time going by what I had read on another website and they didn’t fit! That got me head scratching for quite a while I can tell you!
The other thing you need to be very careful of when making your second cut is that the tube stays poking out the same distance to the blade. If not you cut will be in the wrong place and the tubes won’t mate together.
With that all sussed out I could get on and cut all the collector parts and some of the other bends and sections I had already worked out.
Time to start tacking some bits together and seeing if they might fit in the engine by as intended!
The top of the collector can then be marked out and cut down to suit your flange or next pipe joint. In my case I have a 3″ elbow connecting to it. So I slid it over the top, marked where it touched and parted it off. One side of the collector would have to come apart later for ease of welding so I completed only one full weld on it for now.
With the turbo jigged in place in the engine bay I started offering up a couple of sections of the pipework to see how they looked in fit compared with my 3D model. On the initial attempt there was one elbow for the mid-pipe that looked like it might be sitting a bit too close to the steering rack for comfort so I trimmed a bit more off a couple of sections to gain clearance and was much happier. In the arrangement I have I was aware this pipe might cause issues so I will be keeping a close eye on it as I progress and if need be will take some extra out to gain a bit more clearance. Now I was relatively happy with the direction things were going it was time to, once again, pull the engine out! Really it is not practical to weld up the manifold in situe so for a bit of hassle it will make life a lot easier in the long run! So here we are ready for stage 2!
Manifold Mania Prt2
So I have been off the radar for a couple of weeks! Don’t worry I haven’t been slacking.. Mainly I ran out of gas just when I went to start welding so lost my Saturday. (Filled it working on the GTR though!) This weekend things went a bit more to plan so I have some progress to show for it.
I have been spending a bit of time trying to make sure the collector area was correct, checking I would have suitable clearance of the steering rack on the mid pipe of the exhaust , so I have been measuring a lot and double checking everything as I go. I really don’t want to have to start hacking bits of manifold about once complete to gain clearance on things! I am relatively confident in the CAD model I have but, it is after all, made from a lot of measurements with set squares and angle gauges around the engine and bay! Plenty of room for error. So the first main section to get the ball rolling was the elbow that would connect to the T4 flange and 3 into 1 collector. Double checking my CAD against some engine measurements I was not happy I would have much, if any, clearance where I needed it so I messed around with the elbow size in the 3D model to shorten it as much as sensibly possible and then re-jigged the rest of the runners to suit. Looked like I might be able to work with it. After a brave cut I offered the elbow up with the collector section and managed to get the first runner bend in line almost exactly as it had shown on the CAD model! Always a good start. So without further ado I tacked the sections together so I could get cracking with the rest.
I have often thought to myself my stainless welds have never looked quite as nice as they could/should. Perfectly penetrated and solid mind but the colour was always a bit off on thin wall material unless I really wound up the gas above normal recommendations. My welder is a budget option but still. After reading a lot more info on it I found you should ideally run a gas lens which contrary to my beliefs was a special gas diffuser to replace the standard type collet body torches come with. So I picked up one a couple of different size ceramic cups in anticipation of needing to get a some tight spots! I must say a marked improvement straight away even with gas turned down. Definitely a must have it yo are welding stainless and don’t have one already!
Anyway, back to the manifold! Next job was to get the middle runner sorted. I had left this loose tacked in the collector as well so I could take it out and weld it up easier. Once again going by my 3D model I cut one of my bends and a section of straight to suit and tacked them up. I decided I might a well commit to fully welding it as well! If I needed t make it shorter I would have to trim it off the end joining into the collector. Also I wanted to try out my new welding lens and a tip I had read about backing up welds with masking tape instead of back purging! Sounds mad but it works! Basically when you start welding the masking tape catches fire and burns the oxygen that would get to the back of the weld and helps keep it clean and reduce the sugaring! Try it! Don’t set your sleeve on fire though!
With this section of runner tacked up I fiddled around and trimmed to suit the middle elbow with the CAD model as my guide. It ended up about 3mm different to the model. Not bad. I thought at this point it would be a good chance to have a last check of the manifold before I continued welding beyond the point of no return! This of course would involve putting the engine back in the car again! Soon I will be ale to do this bit standing on my head! So I tacked the mid runner section in place on the collector end and taped the elbow for now. Then chucked the engine back in the bay with my fingers crossed!
Result! A few millimetres more clearance than I was anticipating! With that sorted and no need to cut anything back of I used the opportunity to have a double check for room on the rear runner which was by now at a slightly different orientation to the original plan but fine. Then back out with the engine and on with the welding! Last order of the day was to weld the flange onto the collector and finish welding up the collector. I did also start the rear runner but didn’t picture it in all my excitement!
Note in the picture below the flange is bolted down to a substantial bit of steel plate. I wanted to be very sure there was least chance of distortion possible!
Even with my small nozzles welding the collector was a game to say the least! Not a fun one! It must have taken me the best part of 2 hours to complete the 3 welds running into the centre of the collector before I started the outer blending! Got there in the end a few tungsten tips later! Point to note is it would likely have been impossible without the gas lens as I had the tungsten out up to 3/4″ to get at some bits! On a standard collect body gas coverage would have been useless.
So here be the finished collector! Hopefully that is the worst bit done! Dare I say?!
Manifold Mania Prt3
First order of the day was to find out what happens when you don’t connect your earth lead to your job and start welding whilst touching it. Not recommended! So once a nice little belt woke me up, I was off and running runners left right and centre. Pretty much that order too! First of all I bolted the flange and turbo up to check if anything had moved. Other than a fairly minor tickle off the length of the centre runner it looked pretty good. I say a minor tickle only 1-2mm but as I couldn’t risk grinding off too much it took a while to get just right and also I had to tickle bits of each end to keep a nicely matched joint. Then it was tacked in place.
Once I had this solidly tacked in place on the engine I disassembled it from the flange and welded it up solid. Next it was assembled back to the flange on the engine so I could get cracking with the rear (left) runner. I cut my bend and straight sections and then measured up a tiny little fillet where there was a subtle kink in the pipe. Again, where I could not afford to cut short I started big and tickled it down bit at a time until I got a sweet fit. Once again I then tacked this in place on the engine and then removed the whole lot flange and all to weld it up properly. I took the flange as well this time to be double sure nothing could pull out of shape when welding it.
Last of all for this particular weekend was trim back the tubes to the flange face where necessary and weld it up solid.
I must say I was quite pleased to get this far. It’s not finished but still! I have started making some little reinforcing fillets to go from the flange to the runners at the engine end. Help support my huge turbo. Then of course I have the wastegate pipe to do. Just praying now that nothing goes wrong! Home straight I think though?!
Manifold Mania Prt4
Well it was a very wet Saturday and a late start so not the best day for making big progress! Still something is better than nothing.
Main aim was to get all the fillets cut, shaped and welded to reinforce the manifold piping. At the moment I am also debating about making a bracket to connect the top of the manifold/turbo to somewhere else on the engine. However concerned that might end up causing more issues than it solves. We will see once I have pondered some more! It took quite a while to cut and shape the stainless fillets so they sat just nicely. Then once they were tacked in place I fully welded them up.
So other than the wastegate pipe, that is the manifold complete and it still fits the engine! I was well please with the end product. I have decided I am going to wait and add the wastegate section on once have the engine back in and downpipe started so I can see all my options for position. So I will be leaving the manifold here for now.
It’s Downpipe from here on in…
So I had a bit of time left with the manifold fillets done and the weather meant I couldn’t fit the engine so I thought I would make a start on the downpipe section. As with the manifold I have had my own flanges laser cut in stainless as I wanted them specific to my requirements rather than whatever generic stuff I might be able to find online and then have to alter anyway!
The downpipe will start at a 3.5″ diameter at the rear of the turbo and then about halfway down taper down to a 3″ section where it will then run into the rest of the exhaust system which is 3″ right through to the back. Thinking about it I might have to make a mid section too?! I better go and look under the car again! Anyway, First of all I fitted the turbo end with the 6 bolt flange and welded that to the 3.5″ pipe.
The Plan is to cut somewhere near the flange and then weld on a 3.5″ v-band fitting so the downpipe can be dropped quickly and easily without having to fiddle around the back of the turbo trying to get at the flange fittings. Once I get it back in the car I can see where the bend needs to start and make my cuts accordingly. So to clear up for the end of the day I dropped it back on the engine to see what shape it was all starting to take!
Really hoping for a dry spell next weekend so I can get the engine back in and try and get the downpipe under way and make plans for the next bit of the build. I think I need to sort out a garage!
So the weather finally let up for a weekend and I had some time on my hands. As planned I shoved the engine back in the car again! Getting quite good at that bit now!! I think the engine will know it’s own way before long! Once the engine was in I started y taking some rough measurements where I thought the downpipe was going to run. First of all I knew I was going to have to make a reducer section to get my 3.5″ main section down to 3″ to match the rear section of the exhaust. So I decided I would do this just before the second bend of the downpipe. I created the reducer by working out the circumference I needed to reduce the tube to to get a 3″ diameter and then cut the appropriate notches out of the 3.5″ section and them dressed them in to meet and welded them up. Took quite a bit of forming to get a nice round section.
With that done I have to make a commitment to cut the section and add the bend where it was going to come off the back of the turbo. Fortunately there turns out to be quite a bit of room behind the turbo where my turbo is positioned so I offered up the bend and took a measurement and then made by cuts and welded the section to the V-band clamp. I then ended up with this nice little section.
Main reason for this section is it allows quick and easy removal and fitting of the downpipe. I have tried to think about things like this as I go rather than just stick it where it fits and worry about it later!
At this point I decided to weld the flange to the 3″ section that was going to mate with the rest of the exhaust. I figured it might be easier to complete the down pipe this way?
Note I am still using my big chunk of steel to try and keep the flanges flat! Seems to work pretty well too.
Now it starts getting more tricky as I have to cut the straight lengths so they can be joined with another bend in the middle.
In the end I had to tape the top section of the manifold up and fit it to the turbo. I then propped the rear section in place on a jack to get the right level and used a straight edge to see where they would intersect. I then took measurements off the bend and decided where I needed to make my cuts but to be safe left a few extra mm! Much more of a pain if you cut it too short! I then set about welding the other end of the V-band clamp and the bend section in place.
And then the finished upper section welded up and assembled looked like this!
The last bit now was to cut the lower section and join the bend and then join the two sections together. This is easier said than done! I spent plenty of time measuring twice! and using angle gauges to determine where to cut my bend. Finally I had to take the plunge and start welding. I welded the bend to the lower section first, then bolted this on and propped it in place on a jack and wedges to match up to the upper section. Took a while to get the match spot on grinding small bits of each end away at a time.
Get under the car to tack the sections in place with the tig welder was a mission with the car on a little lift! I just managed to wedge my mask in place and hide behind it to get a couple of tacks on each side before removing it for final welding. And there is was done!!
Of course the last job before I got to excited was to it it back on the car and make sure nothing had moved with the last section of welding which I was quite worried about due to the limited tacking. All good though!
Turbo Oil Lines
I thought I would have a short break from welding and get some other bits done around the turbo. Mainly because I wanted to have as much as I could in place around the turbo before I positioned the wastegate on the manifold. Just to be sure!
I thought no with the turbo actually properly fitted for the first time I would get some oil lines sorted as the drain could be in the way of the wastegate. Normally I would use generic hydraulic fittings but after pricing up adapters and bits to fit the Holset and engine I decided it was just a cost effective to go wild and treat myself to some fancy AN fittings! I spoke to my turbo supplier to confirm what size oil feed and drain I needed and then went on the search for a supplier. I found a great seller on ebay who I recommend www.torques.co.uk. The seller does a vast range of fittings and adapters and not only this but other performance parts like fuel pumps and regulators and things. Think I will be speaking to him soon for some of these bits. He had great knowledge on the fittings and things so easily recommended me what I needed. Turned up swiftly and well packaged too!
I didn’t stay clear of welding for long as one of my fittings was a weld on boss to fit to the engine end of the oil drain! This just required a quick cut and shut of the factory fitting so I could retain the same flange fittings.
First I assembly one end onto the pipe so I would be accurately able to cut the other end. The -12AN braided drain hose is not very forgiving! And hell if anyone has tried to assemble their own hoses with these fittings you will know what a pig it can be. For a start you don’t want to damage the finish on your shiny new fitting so have to have perfect spanners and everything taped up to protect it. Then the torque you have to apply to the large fittings to meet the assembly requirements in the instructions is pretty hefty! I was sweating I must say. (with nerves that is) I swore one more 1/4 turn was going to shear the thing off.. but I got there in the end. If you are doing this be sure to use plenty of lube! I then fitted the hose to the car and the other fitting in place so I could mark it ready for cutting.
I found a 1 mm cutting disc on a grinder the best way to cut these clean unless you have the professional gear that is! Also as the instructions say tightly tape the pipe around where you plan to cut to keep it from fraying up. Then eventually you end up with your nicely assembled pipe.
The Oil feed is much the same but this is a teflon lined hose so has a slightly different assembly. Just as nerve racking for me though! I will put up some pictures of that later down the line.
For now I had the important bit done and could now progress to getting the wastegate section on the manifold!
Manifold Mania Prt5
At last.. I could complete the manifold! Before I did this I decided to play around with potential fitting options of the radiator to see where I could fit the wastegate and screamer pipe and make sure I wasn’t going to get stuck by putting it one place instead of somewhere else. I won’t show that here as it will be focused on when I get to fitting the rad and coolers! Suffice to say I picked a positions that I had thought I would use from the start and turns out it should allow any option for fitting the rad. It also allows easy access to the wastegate for adjustment should it be required. I have normally wastegates end up under the downpipe or hanging down somewhere where you cannot access them without removing something else. I decided to put mine facing forward on the front of the manifold leaving it in fairly clear space. I think this is also a good position from a point of view of gas flow into the wastegate.
First of all I got a little section of tube and welded on the v-band flange to hold the wastegate so I could offer it up properly. once I was happy with the exact position I was aiming for I shaped the tube to match profile of the manifold tube it was joining into.
I then had to position the pipe against the mainfold and draw around it ready to make my cut out! Just what I have been looking forward to! Cutting a dirty great hole in my lovely manifold. After drawing around the tube I then offset the line about 2mm to allow for material thickness so I could sit the tube neatly on the outside and weld in place.
I then hacked out the section with the angle grinder carefully and tidied it up with a flap wheel and file until the hole nicely matched up with the inside of the tube.
Finally I could make my final weld! Et Voila! One complete manifold!
For once I actually feel like I am making progress!
Cooling Off Period
So the next step for the project is to get my water cooling, intercooler and oil cooler set-up sorted. Progress has slowed slightly here as similar to when I started the manifold the decision I make now could have quite a knock on to the last bits of the project and of course the performance of the car! As the engine is pretty bare I decided to throw as much as I could back on it auxiliary wise so I knew exactly what packaging space I had left. Main things that are going to get in the way if anything are the pulleys and possible Power Steering Pump depending on where I run pipes. I also put the turbo and wastegate in place as the wastegate is in a potential space I could run something else if I am not careful.
To fit the Power Steering I found the 13B bracket assembly worked but was short a hole and some of the webbing fouled on the edge of the ignition housing. So I added the missing hole and ground some of the webbing away to allow this to fit.
After test fitting again I thought I could do with a bit more room behind the bracket which could then maybe allow the ignition timing to be adjusted with the bracket fitted if that was ever required so I had some little steel tophats made up to space it out a few mm. I also had noticed that the bolt holes in the bracket are quite sloppy so the bracket could mis-align the belt quite easy. So I took the liberty of making the tophats a closer fit to get over this!
With the alternator now in I could start experimenting with the fit of the radiator. Really I have 3 basic options. I sit the Rad in an upward slanted position similar to stock or a downward slighted position and maybe look at a v-mount intercooler set-up or I fit the rad vertically and look at a front mount intercooler? Just to get the complete picture I got the front bumper offered up too so I could see where the venting would direct air.
First of all I tried vertical.
Problem with this is where the engine is not pushed back in my installation so it leaves very little room to fit fans and an airfilter! Pretty much wrote this off right away!
Next I tried slanted picking up the factory mounts on the antiroll bar bracket or as close as I could with the chunky aftermarket radiator. I will need to modify to brackets to mount it properly.
This showed a bit more promise and also allowed room to fit the factory fans.. Even though I am likely to get some slim line ones to save on some space!
With this position the rad clashed with the P/S metal pipes that run across the front of the car. I am sure worst case these could be moved or even done away with and replace with flexible ones.
Issue is you cannot lift the Rad any more at the front due to it clashing with the cross bar on the end of the chassis rails.
I fitted the bumper on to see what it looked like..
..HHHmmmmm? Not sure.. The Radiator sits a bit flat really so the airflow in would not effectively cool it. I even tried with it tilted down.
This was marginally better but I was not too happy with the front of the rad getting so low and also heat rises so I felt it would be better to have the set-up such that air would be directed through the rad and up out of vents in the bonnet.
After looking at some other builds and taking some advice I decided there was one thing for it.
CHOP! Off with the lower cross bar to free up some room and allow a better angle on the Radiator!
Now it comes up at a much steeper angle and nicely lines up with the vent hole in the bumper.
It will require a bit of modification to the pipes on the radiator so I can get the hoses on them nicely but nothing major. So Unless something drastic changes that is the radiator position sorted I just need to make some brackets to fit it properly and get some slimline fans. Will be a pretty tight squeeze for the fans with the wastage but Hopefully I can get that to work!
Next issue was the intercooler. If possible I want to get a clear air flow to the radiator so it cools to its best ability. This means I don’t really want a front mounted intercooler. With the Rad as it is a V-mount would be possible but the IC would be so flat it would be very inefficient I feel. So I came up with another plan that I am looking into. I will run two small intercoolers either side of the car where the factory oil coolers are located. As I plan to run the large FC oil cooler I will then either mount this below the rad in a shallow V or more likely, if I can get it to fit, in the front top section of the bumper with some suitable ducting to it.
After a bit of searching around I found something that looked like it would fit. So I took a flyer and got a couple ordered.
I removed the OEM Oil coolers and brackets and put the bumper on again to offer them up. Looks like it might fit!
I tried the cooler mounted both horizontally and vertically to check what would fit best with the lights and piping to and from the coolers. Vertical does fit but I think could only work with flush fitting lights. It would still be very tight though. Horizontally they fit in as if they were made to measure.. I will just need to cut and re-fabricate the inlet and outlet pipes to best route the pipes. Now I just need to determine for sure that this set-up is not going to cause me any loss in performance before I give it a crack.
My only real other option is to run a liquid charge cooler which is quite a pricey set-up and more components to plumb in and mount somewhere even if the cooler itself is more compact. Unless someone can give me a solid reason not to try it, I am probably going to carry on along the path I am on. Worst case I don’t get the power I should, it’s laggy and I have to do the liquid cooler thing?
So it has been some real slow progress of late.. Rubbish weather and other things needing to get done.. I am getting a little frustrated I must say. After finishing the manifold I thought progress would really pick up but that has not been the case!
So I have had to commit to fitting something in place after all this pondering. Easiest option being the radiator as it was basically there! I had been toying on a number of ways to do this and eventually settled on one. This involved cutting off the factory lower mountings and welding a fabricated bracket in place of it to both lower the bottom of the rad as much as possible and also bring is slightly forward to try and gain some angle and clearance for the lower radiator pipe.With the bottom fixed in nice and snug I then set about making some mountings to hold the top. I chose to pick-up of a couple of the fan mounting points as I would not be using these. Due to space I will need slim line fans mounted direct to the radiator.
I made some basics brackets from some left of angle I had and then welded these to my new cross brace on the front of the car. What looks like a little job on the face of it was actually quite a lot of faffing around! certainly not a 5 minuter!
I fabricated these such as to lift the front of the radiator as much as possible. Giving me the steepest angle I could have sort of removing the slam panel section on the front of the car. While I was welding this up I also decided to weld on a support for the bonnet latch which was currently waving around in the breeze!
I also took the opportunity to fix the horns and earth points in place on the front of the car. Just a couple of extra holes needed for the earth points and that was a few less things hanging off the front of the car!
So with a quick squirt of primer to protect my fresh welds the new brace bar was ready to go back on so I could start working out the next bit!
I am really struggling with what to do for my intercooler set-up. I really want to try something different. But I also don’t want to make a complete hash of it or ending up cutting up a perfectly good intercooler for no reason! In the end I decided I would just have to go with it. Start on one side and see what happens! I will just keep all the bits and I can weld it all back together if needs be! Somewhere along the way while doing my rad brackets I had also removed all the OEM Oil cooler mountings and made a new bracket that I intended to pickup my Intercoolers on. or equally if the plans change oil coolers could be mounted to. I managed to miss pictures for these. Nothing too interesting though! All I have managed to achieve for mounting the intercooler this weekend is getting brave and cutting the pipe stubs off so I could see how tight in I could get it and planning what bends I need to buy for fabricating new elbows. In fairness this test fitting did involve doing some trimming to the front bumper and repeatedly having this on and off the front of the car! I also had a plan around how I can hold it all in place ready to be welded. Think I have something cooking for that but need to test something first! Just to show you where I am going the Intercoolers will mount something like this either side of the car.
It seems like a lot of toying with what to do for a couple of intercoolers but when you look at what space there is to work with you start to understand! For instance if you turn the coolers around 180 degrees you can gain a couple of inches of clearance one end. but you loos a bit somewhere else. It is then a toss up as to whether you cut one end completely off and spin it around but then that potentially gives you less room to run your elbows. The outer elbow’s will be the tricky ones. Need to watch tyre clearance and all sorts as well as how you get them back into the engine bay without running them too low. Think I have got a plan though! Will love it if it comes together!
Oil Cooler Fitting
So the next piece of the puzzle was up seeing as I was now at a stop on the intercoolers! I am planning on running the OEM FC cooler as this is reported to be very good and has a decent capacity. Also one came with my engine! Could do with a clean and tidy but will at least do the job to get me running. Going with the current plan for the intercoolers I planned to mount the Oil cooler in the upper front section of the bumper and make some new vents in the bumper to get air feed to it. Another not quite 5 minute job to fabricate some little brackets to attach it to the cross bar, which is so far turning out very useful! This involved offering up the bumper again and trying to hold the Oil cooler in place to see where it would fit whilst standing on my head! and trying to check clearance around it!
Bungee cord always has the answer! So it looked like roughly speaking there? I may choose to flip it over so the inlet and outlet are on the right side of the engine and pipes can be as short as possible. With this position I should be able to duct air over the top of the rad and out of the bonnet vents which there will be of course. Will show the fabricated and finished set-up next time I update! Once again I ran out of daylight!
Oil Cooler Final Fit
With my rough position checked out I offered the bumper on and off so see what clearance there was and make sure it would not foul. Due to where the pipes came out and needed to route to I decided in the end to flip the cooler over to give shorter pipe runs and better clearance.
Next I had to knock up some additions to my front cross bar to mount the cooler to. With not too much trouble I measured out some little angled brackets tacked them in place and check the fit again before finally welding them rigid.
Now you can see the final resting place for the oil cooler. This sits nicely behind the top area of the bumper as if it was made to measure! My intention is to run the pipes into the end of the chassis rail bit and into the bay. Should hopefully keep the pipe run nice and neat.
Intercooler Saga continues
This part of the job was not one I had envisaged to take so long but trying to do something a bit different was turning out to be a bit of a ball ache! it has been a few weeks since I have updated mainly because progress has been slow and I have chop and changed my idea around a bit. (there was a pun there somewhere). So here is how it has been coming along.
First of all I had to commit to cutting bits of the existing intercoolers to try and make them fit. I could measure, check and look at it as much as I liked but there was nothing else for it other than to get the grinder out and start hacking bits off! First to go were the existing inlet and outlet stubs as I would not use these and they were in the way! I also new for sure they were in the wrong place and had worked out where one pipe was going to need to go so committed to adding a large hole in the side of the cooler and stuffing a bit of pipe in it!
The bend was in place at this point to see where pipes might be heading. That would later change for good reason. With the one side cut and done I thought I might as well make a start on it’s mirror image. That way it was fresh in my head what angles I had measured on one ready to flip it over for the other side. And then there were two!
One thing you might just notice in the pictures above is the little ‘L’ bracket holding the pipe in place. I did this are talking to the guy who was going to do my welding. I had planned to hot glue all the joints together to hold them in place ready for tacking but I was informed that ally tig welding was very susceptible to any contamination in the weld area and ideally I couldn’t use any glue, tape or marker pen! The plus side to this was it meant I came up with a much more robust solution for jigging it in place. I had to cut most of the little mounting brackets off the cooler as well and made up additional ones as required which I also jigged in place. bit of wood and couple of screws did the job just nicely. Then I took them off to the fabbies to get them tacked in place ready for the next stage. The idea of only tacking them at this stage was it would mean I could cut the tacks and move things if I really needed but they were solid enough I need not worry about knocking them out of position.
I was struggling a little with how I was going to route the pipe work on the other end of the cooler with the shape of the ends. One of the ideal solutions might have been to make it twin pass but I was fairly sure the cross sectional area of the cooler would be too small if I did that and end up being restrictive. In the end I decided I needed to cut the other end of the cooler completely off and fabricate a more simple box shape that I could run the pipe from. So out came the cutting gear again and off came the end-caps.
As the coolers were now progressing a bit more I needed something to hold them in place on the car a bit better. I needed to make an addition for a lower bracket on my current mounting frame. This had been the plan anyway, but seemed like now was a good time to put that one into action. I whipped the frames off the car and measured up some lengths of tube and angle and Bob’s your uncle!
I had two thoughts in mind for the end caps so decided to make one cap that could cater for both eventualities I mocked one up in card first to make sure I was somewhere close and then committed to get a couple made up.
I had the option of cutting the pipe into a flat bottom or at a 45deg angle. The angle would give a larger effective opening for the pipe which I thought might help airflow but would also be a lot trickier to cut and might not leave much room for running a weld. I would give it a go anyway!
With the pair of coolers mounted on the car above and the bends added to both ends you can see where the joining pipe will run between them. There is going to be a length of ally pipe between with a couple of straight joiners. As this sits quite low I was a little nervous about this getting wiped out on a low speed bump and taking out the intercoolers with it. I had raised it as much as possible without it getting in the way of airflow to the radiator but it was till not far about the lowest point of the bumper. Then my dad came up with a suggestion while looking at it. Instead of welding the bends to the intercooler weld them to the pipe so the section coming out of the cooler. This way if the pipe does catch a sleeping policeman there would be more flex in the silicone joiner and it would be less likely to damage the cooler or it’s mounting. So I took that one and altered my set-up slightly. In doing so I was also able to give my self a bit more ground clearance. So another bit was ready for tacking up.
So back on the the new end caps and piping for the other end of the coolers. I tried cutting one at an angle to run into the 45deg angled face but it became apparent quite quickly that this was not going to work. Even if I could shape the pipe I was not confident the welder would be able to get into the resulting tight corner to weld it properly and we certainly don’t want to risk the cooler having a leak! I had to go with the simple option! Don’t know why I ever chose the other one! Cutting the hole and pipe for this option was 10 times easier and there was much more room to get in for welding. The tubes for this end of the cooler were held in place by leaving a little tag on them internally allowing me to screw into the side of the cap. This was another of Dads brain waves! Either he was having a good day that day or I was having a bad one!!
You can see the pipe tucks in quite tight below the intercooler which is why the angled option wouldn’t work. This is like that for ground clearance again and to keep the set-up as compact as possible.
Finally the last pieces of the intercoolers were in place ready to go to welding! Hoping I might be able to get them sorted next week and complete the run of piping to the turbo elbow and inlet elbow! I can finally see some light at the end of this intercooler piping!
All Tigged Up
I received my finished welded intercoolers back from the fabricator a few days after sending them off and was very pleased with how they looked.
And Also the joining pipe that runs between the two coolers
Now it was time to complete the cooler set-up and finish the pipe run to connect each end to engine inlet and turbo outlet. Sounds easy but once again my limited space was set to cause a bit of a headahce. I had a number of bends ready to get cracking. So I set about plotting out some sections and working out where I could connect with minimal silicone joints to reduce leak points and so on. After a day on it I had managed to get 3 sections taped together ready for tacking!
In between doing this I had borrowed a pipe beading tool from the fabricator so I roll a retaining bead on all the pipe sections where there were going to be silicone connections. So I thought I would give it a whirl and see what I could come up with!
You should really anneal the aluminium before doing this. The ally I had for most of the tubing was quite soft though and went okay without. I was given a good tip many years back for annealing ally. Get a bar of soap and rub it around the area you need to anneal, then heat the area with a blow lamp. When the soap goes dark brown and burned stop heating it and leave it to cool down naturally. Once cool it is now annealed and ready to go! Works a treat.
After these were tacked up I then refitted them to make sure nothing had moved and trimmed accordingly ready for final welding and beading. On the turbo side I also drew up my own V-band flange to suit the Holset turbo and ordered a clamp ready to join it. I also worked out what I thought I needed in silicone and got that in so I could test the assembly properly. You Can see the turbo outlet side starting to come together here.
You Can just see if you look closely in the top view that I have trimmed a small cut away in the car panel work beneath the pipe to allow the bend to sit as low as possible and tight. I am hoping there will be room to fit some flush type lights with a minor tweak otherwise I might be back to the drawing board or doing a customer set of lights!
The engine inlet side was much the same story but in addition I decided to cut down the stock inlet elbow so I could reduce how far forward it sat which would not only help with my pipe running but aid bonnet clearance later. So first job after roughing out the pipe run was to cut this back and get a new bend in position to redirect the elbow.
This in turn threw up a new problem. The elbow clashed slightly with the power steering filler neck. I decided the easiest way around that was take the bottle off! I would find somewhere to re-site this or possibly consider the use of a remotely mounted electronic pump?
With that out of the way I could complete a nice direct run down to the intercooler elbow section.
Finally that was the last of the piping all tacked, taped or held in some other way ready for welding! Off to the fabby again! Couple of days later and I got the call to collect. All sorted and looking lovely.
I must say I will have my work cut out for me when it comes to polishing this lot back up! Definitely one for a rainy day… or two!
As ever the proof is in the pudding. I fitted the pipes up and everything appeared to go back into place as planned! I am sure I will come up against some issue down the road.. but for now I am pleased!
Now I think it is on to the water system!
The Water Works
On to the next piece of the puzzle. I had some rough idea of what I wanted to do with the water system. I had made my radiator mountings previously and now I needed to connect this to the engine inlet and outlet. The bottom hose was quite simple with a minor tweak to the angle of the lower pipe stub on the radiator. The upper hose connection would require a little ore thought and the fabrication of an elbow to mount on the thermostat body.
First up was the radiator. I cut off the lower stub and angled it accordingly before getting it welded in place.
You Can see that with the pipe cut and re-angled in this way I am able to use the OEM lower water pipe from the FD3.
I moved on to the top hose now. This was a little more tricky. I had looked around for an off the shelf option but nothing really did what I wanted that I could find. I need a neck to mount on the Thermostat housing which had a filler cap and overflow and would run to the radiator top hose.
First of all I needed a flange. I took some measurements from the body and drew up a flange in CAD which I then got CNC machined. I managed to find a nice ally filler neck with breather spout on fleebay which was handy. For the main run of the pipework I got some suitable size tubing off the shelf and looked at a couple of options as to where I could run it. After deciding which was the best option I made a few cuts and taped it all together so I could mock it up.
You cannot quite see from the pictures, but rather cunningly this also allows me to use a OEM lower Radiator hose. I had anticipated having to make something up or hunt around for something that fitted.
With it all taped in place and marked out it was ready to get sent off for welding. And then when it came back it was on once again to check the fit was still good which it was. The neck had moved slightly but nothing too noticeable.
Next on my list I wanted to re-route the heater hose piping so it ran around the cool side of the engine and not along the manifold where it currently went. That meant changing the angle of one of the hose fittings that came out of the thermostat housing body and also there were then a couple of redundant stubs I could blank of. I had a complete spare pump and housing and a couple of the stubs were broken anyway due to corrosion so I set about cleaning it up and getting some suitable fittings to use with it. First of all I got it dipped to clean the worst of the crap off it. I then sand blasted it carefully to remove the rest of the dirt leaving it looking like this:
Nice and clean but a bit dull! So I go the wire wool out and some Scotchbrite pads and went over it some more to bring up a bit of a sheen!
After doing the same to the water pump housing which I just cleaned by hand, rather than risk washing any lubrication out of the bearings or getting any sand stuck in there! I fitted the housing out with a BSP elbow and some M12 blanking plugs ready to go on the car.
And finally we have the new gaskets, thermostat and filler cap all ready to go!
Screaming Blue Murder
As I had now finished the bits I could do on the water system until I dropped the engine back out I thought I might as well make the screamer pipe for the wastegate! Another job off the list at least! This was a 2″ pipe diameter and was going to exit at the front of the engine in the middle of the car. Luckily I still had some bends and tubing left from the manifold which I could use.
The little tab you can see sticking up on top in the last picture is so I can hopefully attached a little spring to somewhere on the front of the engine to just support the weight of the pipe and stop it moving over time. Otherwise it might end up getting wiped out on a speed hump or something!
Polish and pipes
Thought it was about time for a quick update although progress has been a little slow of late! I got my oil lines measured and made for the oil cooler and then when I mounted it up I looked at the sorry state of the cooler and thought that just won’t do. Despite the fact it will be pretty much out of view! So I used some special aluminium cleaner I have and some fine abrasive wheels and gave it a tidy up! It looks a little less sorry now!
It was also time to get the engine back out. No pictures of this.. Just an empty engine bay like before! Plan here was I needed to fit the oil pickup pipe and seal the sump. I also wanted to give the engine a bit of a clean up and fit the water pump housing on and clutch I have for it.. So a few bits to do. I have other bits to do in the engine bay as well like re-route the heater hose piping around the cold side of the engine and remove some unused brackets and then blow in all the bits that have been modified since I last sprayed it! Quite a bit to do when I write it like that.. And not really a huge amount to show at the end of the day in pictures and progress! I will get some more as it comes together.
Anyway. While I was waiting for cleaning products one job I was putting off was the polishing of all the aluminium pipe work I had had welded, so what better time to get it out of the way! I also had some steel fabrications that I have made or modified over the past few months so these needed a lick of paint as well. So first of all I made a rather interesting washing line mobile in the garden!
In between coats of paint and bits and bobs I got the polishing wheel and various grades of polish out and worked over all the intercooler piping and intercoolers. Still need to decide what to do with the inlet elbow and turbo housing but be sure they will be getting some treatment! So here are the results of my elbow grease!
I will try and remember to get some pictures of the other bits of progress to update again soon.
Well, days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months and I find 6 months have gone by since I have really touched the car or updated this page! Various reason. One being I decided to get myself a family car which required a bit more work to get back on the road than I anticipated and the another being I decided it was time to re-home the car to my own new built garage and then get that all up together.
So the car is now ready and waiting patiently for me to get cracking again!
Lets see how long the fresh clean garage stays looking like that! I did have big plans for this weekend but stupidly ended up putting my back out on Friday so instead I thought I would take the opportunity to update the page quickly whilst on the mend! I am quite excited to get back on with it now so hopefully not too many more obstacles to get in my way!
I haven’t been completely useless in recent months I have done the odd bit relating to the car. I rebuilt the suspension I have for it finally and also did some work on refurbishing a set of wheels I got for it age ago.
Shocking Experiences Prt1
So as mentioned above I finally rebuilt my suspension. I got some nice Tein shockers a while ago for the car which needed some TLC! One of the damper adjusters was broken off and the spring platforms were seized up as well as the bottom bushes being completely shot!
I had an old set of broken Teins that were not serviceable so I managed to swap out the damper adjuster from them to solve that problem. I then got in touch with Tein UK and sourced some new bushes and adjustable platforms.
Getting the old ones off was a game and a half but I got there in the end. The old bushes I ended up having to cut out! After getting all the old bits off I thoroughly cleaned up the bodies and gave them a dose of copper slip to try and prevent future sticking. and I now have a nice smooth operating set of shocks ready to fit to the car! I just hope the top mount bearings are in as good condition as they seem to be!
Throttle Body Mods
As with the 13B the 20B is fitted with a double throttle system from the factory which restricts the rpm when the engine is cold to prevent you getting to carried away before it has warmed up. These can be removed to help improve flow through the throttle body when going for high power. It also gets rid of a few things around the throttle body making the engine bay look a bit tidier. Here will show the steps needed to remove this.
First of all you will want to remove the throttle body from the engine to make sure no unwanted swarf or bits end up inside the engine.
With the throttle body off you will have access to everything under the the upper plenum so you can take the chance to have a clean up and redo any vacuum pipes, fuel line etc. I planned to remove all the old hard pipes for the fuel lines and water lines as I would be running new lines for all of this.
You can now look at the throttle body more closely and see the double throttle mechanism you are about to remove. This is the pair of butterfly’s at the front of the throttle body and the associated mechanism and vacuum pot attached to it.
You can also remove the idle control valve if you wish and the throttle damper on the bottom which stops the throttle snapping shut when you lift off. I am leaving both of these in place for the time being.
As in the second picture above the first thing you will need to do is remove the screws holding the butterfly’s to the shaft. You will want a decent screw driver or impact driver to do this as they as held in with loctite. I used a beefy soldering iron to heat the screws and break down the loctite and then they came out pretty easy. once the screws are out you can rotate the throttle around and slide the butterfly’s out of the shaft. You will then need to disconnect the vacuum pot on one and remove the cover piece from the other end with the water stub on it.
I fitted the grub screws in with some red RTV to seal them. I also didn’t tap right through the holes so that the grub screw self tightened in the tapped hole and would prevent it coming loose and help sealing. Job done!
With my monster turbo and shiny stainless manifold and downpipe filling up the engine bay I thought it would be a good plan to fit some heatshielding to the engine bay and around any pipework running near the exhaust system.
I purchased some self adhesive glass backed reflective heatshielding along with some tubular sheilding for pipework and some sheet metal heatsheild that could be formed around the manifold to offer some extra protection. It is early days but here is the start of the heatsheilding being done.
The next job will be to make some brackets to hold the heatshield to the chassis rail and subframe. I will probably have to refit the engine though to check clearance as I know there is not a huge amount of spare room there! I will update with further progress on that soon.
The final Fit?!?
Well to progress further I decided I was going to have to fit the engine back in the car! So I stripped all the bits of plumbing off I didn’t need which resulted in having to repair a small water stub on the top of the back of the block as it just crumbled away in my hand when I pulled the pipe off! So I drilled out the remains of the old pipe and tapped it to accept a BSP elbow.
This time I was hoping the engine might be staying in? At least for a little while! So it was time to fit my nice twin plate Exedy clutch I had picked up.
Hopefully this should do the job and it was practically brand new.
Now the engine could be dropped back in to allow the rest of my work to progress. Let me say. Fitting engines with twin plate clutches is a pig of a job! The alignment tools just do not align the plates well enough. Or maybe it is me!? All the other times I have had that engine in and out recently I can do it in minutes without the clutch on. I struggled for over an hour to find the sweet spot to wriggle onto the gearbox spline.
Anyway.. It was in, that was the main thing.
I had paused my heatshielding to get the engine in so I could ensure everything cleared and was shielded appropriately. So I cracked on with making the lower heatshield to cover the steering rack pipes and gaiter and some brackets to fix it in place.
Next bit of shielding I wanted to do was to protect the top gaiter on the steering column as it comes through the bulkhead and in turn the various pipes and wires in that area. So I made a replacement section for one of the OEM heatshields and made and extension piece for it to extend the area it covered.
I also added a little heatshield over the engine mount as it is only rubber. and lastly I put some heatshields by the relays on the inner wheelarch and also to cover the OMP pipes and wires running up the side of the engine at the front.
I was starting to wonder if I was getting a bit carried away with heatshielding! But better safe than sorry. I can always remove it if I find I don’t need it as heat does not get to any of these areas. but I really don’t want to end up with something melted!
Also I think I may end up re running things like the OMP lines and the relay’s might be done away with or moved in dues course so at that time I can remove any shielding I no longer need.
On a slight side note to finish up with a small job for the day I was getting annoyed with the long relay box that fits on the front panel. Accept on mine it cannot fit in it’s normal position as it is in the way of the water pipes for the Rad so it is just hanging down in the way the whole time! I decided to make a little bracket to re-position it. Ideally I will completely remove it if I find I can once all the wiring is done.
And that’s a wrap!
Don’t get too excited.. No I haven’t finished the car! And there you were thinking my heatshielding was done. Of course not! I needed to heat wrap the manifold and downpipe. As much as the bay looks nice with the raw stainless bits it was something I should really do. Not the nicest of jobs messing around with fibrous wrap but hey.
To be honest it was a job I had been putting off but it was not too bad in the end. The manifold was a bit fiddly in places but not as much as I had imagined. So I set myself up outside with the wrap soaking in a bucket of water and stainless ties at the ready!
And then I also did the downpipe as far as could before I ran out of wrap! it is well out of the engine bay area though before the wrap ends so I am happy with that.
So finally that was all my heatshielding finished!
OMP won’t let me be
I have had a niggle in the back of my mind since starting the project and realising my ECU cannot power the electronic OMP. So I had a couple of choices. I could run pre-mix and do away with the OMP completely which I did not really want to do. I could try and fit an old mechanical pump but that did not look like an easy task, or I could try and modify the electronic one to make it mechanical or fixed somehow. After some more research I found it was possible to run them at a constant level by taking the OMP apart and fitting an adjustment screw into the housing. This would be my first fix for the problem.
The pump is actually quite simple inside. So it got me thinking on how I could improve this set-up should the basic theory work. So I will next look at making it mechanically adjustable with a cam or plunger. Alternatively, which would be the ideal solution is if I can find another simple method of making it electronically adjustable than ran independently of the ECU. i.e using a variable voltage input. But I am not an electronics God so we will have to see how that goes. Anyway for now I will get it running on what I have setup.
The Sparks Will Fly
I had finally brought myself to start the wiring! I decided I needed to try and get it running to spur me on some more. Only problem is I hate wiring!
Well I was not wrong! It took a couple of weeks longer than I anticipated and I had to enlist the help of a friend who is a whiz with RX7’s particularly! Much thanks to Geff formerly from Reworx. He helped with some clever bits of wiring so we could use some of the old FD3 fusebox and relays for certain jobs and generally pointed me in the right direction. To be fair the loom was pretty much wired to the engine already from the donor car. It just needed a bit of tidying up and then additions to connect into the FD3 wiring where necessary. I had and old gash loom from a 13B which came in very handy for stripping bits out of to connect to sensors and various plugs.
Part of the wiring also involved fitting the coil packs which in turn meant I had to fabricate a bracket to mount them on. Not a lot of room to play with as you can imagine. But I found a nice little spot in front of the engine on the passenger side. The bracket may well get remade in due course but this one does the trick for now.
One of the main parts of the wiring was my battery relocation. I spent a bit of time researching cable requirements to do this, as the last thing I want is to burn my car to the ground when it is finally finished due to weak wiring.
I came up with a 170-240amp wiring being the general consensus. I opted on the larger size to be sure and then a 200amp main fuse on the battery. I then found a nice compact battery box to mount in the boot and then set about running the wiring through the car. Turned out quite nice and neat in the end. I used conduit as well to extra protect the cable even though it was mainly running through the car. Quite a professional job if I may say so myself!
So with that little headache out of the way (I hope!) I had to finish of some final bits of pipe work and connections before I could finally connect the ECU and power everything up and see what I was left with!
The Snag List
There were a number of odd jobs I needed to do before I could try and fill the motor up with fluids and finally have a go at powering the thing up. Some essential. some maybe not. But they would get done all the same!
First of all I felt there was room to refine my OMP mod slightly. There seemed no reason to have the outer housing on it so I did away with this, modified the internal cover plate to take bolt with a lock nut and voila!
Next on the list was my bumpsteer kit. Completely off track I know (pardon the pun!) but I had had these sat on the worktop for an age and was getting bored of the sight of them! So the kit I had looked pretty solid and well made. I think it is by Samberg from the US. Should have had some anti-roll bar spacers with it too but I will have to look at making these myself if I need them.
I actually got the dust covers separately to finish them off and protect them.
They were simple enough to fit. But rub inside the 17″ rims currently on the car! Luckily I will be running 18’s! I do need to check the offset on them is correct as when fitting I noticed the taper part does not pull right up into the hub as I expected. So I will double check that and swap the spacers around accordingly if need be.
An annoying little job I had looked at doing a few times was making a section of water pipe to connect to the car heater system as I had removed the original pipe that runs along the driverside and around the back of the engine. Mainly so it would not end up close to the turbo and exhaust. So, the plan was to run across the front of the engine and along the passenger side chassis leg now. Being that it is quite a run I did not want to make it all in rubber hose. I had some stainless pipe a suitable diameter which was a good start and decided to get some hose fittings from the local hydraulics shop that I could cut the barbed hose tails off and use these on the ends of my pipe to retain the hoses each end properly.
I could not get a pipe bender to make my 90deg bend unfortunately, so in the end I gave up ringing around and decided to do a 2 stage cut and shut on the pipe to get a 45 deg bend which didn’t look too bad.
I welded a little tag on it which fixed it at one end to a redundant AV mount on the chassis leg and the the other end lightly rests on the back of the radiator fan casing with a protective section of rubber pipe around it. You can just see where it goes under the coil pack tray in the picture below and then the pipe connects to it further up the chassis leg.
You can also see I snuck on some of my nice shiny new pullies!
A quick little modification I spotted I need was to shorten the oil filler neck and put on a new breather stub with a larger bore to improve the engine breathing when I finally finish off the breather system.
Final little modification I found I needed was to add a stub on the water filler neck for the OEM water level sensor. I had unfortunately forgotten about this sensor when I did away with the 13B thermostat housing! I managed to get a new sensor and then had a little threaded boss turned up to weld on my filler neck.
I hope the next update will be a bit more interesting!
The Big day!
So the day I have been waiting for, even if slightly dreading in a funny kind of way! Time to turn the key and see what happens!
I borrowed a laptop and dongle for my ECU so I could check out the basics and see if the sensors looked liked they were reading and after a number of checks around I was ready to give it a whirl.
Behind the scenes
So as you saw that was not quite plain sailing! After the initial attempt at a fire up being quite disappointing I spent a week or so trying figure out what the problem was and testing various things. In the end I found it to be stuck injectors. That in turn then opened a new can of worms as when I pumped some fuel out during diagnosis I saw the fuel was quite red in colour and smelt a little funny. The chap cleaning the injectors also pointed this out and suggest I take a look inside my tank and change the fuel filter too. Boy was I glad I took his advice! It was a rotting state inside there! So I was now in need of a new tank and pump which turned out to be quite easy to get.
Not an ideal job on a hot summers day, changing a fuel filter! Lying on your back, under a car which is inches from your nose, with crap and fuel dripping in your face and down your sleeve! Whoever put the FD3 filter above the Diff where it is and didn’t give an access hatch to get at it from above wants shooting! Oh well.. These things are sent to try us! Despite all that it probably took me around 40mins to do the job.
The tank change was not as bad as I expected either. When I dropped the old one and had a good look inside it was amazing how corroded it was. All the bottom of the pump housing was corroded too.
I managed to reuse the pump holder after a good clean up, although I will be on the lookout for a replacement.
The injectors came back all cleaned and flow tested too.
So, some 3 weeks later after a much needed holiday and considerable headache I was finally ready to go again!
With just a couple of little oil and water leaks to sort I was quite pleased. Also a couple of blows on the exhaust which I already new would happen and I will take care of in due course.
Not sure what is next but when I find out I will let you know! I really want to get some body work done while the weather is good! I had planned to start that about a month ago!
Racking my Brain
As ever, I found some ‘little’ jobs I could do inbetween messing with bodywork. Since first running the car a couple of small issues had become apparent. My modified power steering rack was leaking oil from one of the re-welded fittings. I had a small blow on the downpipe and I was not 100% happy that this was rigid from start to finish. I also was never happy that the waterpump drive belt only has a small contact area as is always the case on a rotary when you remove the air pump. The modified oil metering pump set-up I had was also playing on my mind a little. So I thought I would take some time to get some of these issues fixed.
First of all I attacked the downpipe. This involved getting a flex section of piping.
I then cut the flange off and whilst it was offer used a large flat linishing wheel at work to flat out the slight warp induced by welding and hopefully get a decent seal on it. It was then a case of playing with some small cut bends and bits to get a nice clean joint back with the flex section in. not as simple as I first thought it would be due to the room the flexible portion required! And the fact I was working with the car on axle stands an inch from my nose whilst trying to hold a 3 inch pipe in place and tack it with a TIG welder! A third hand would have been useful! it all worked out in the end though.
Next I set about sorting out the OMP set-up and waterpump drive belt. This required the purchase of some bling! I had looked around a little and got an idea of what was on the market. I decided to go with some products from Pineapple racing in the USA. I highly recommend them. The product quality is very nice and Rob there was very helpful and knowledgeable. So I purchased a Big Turbo Idler pulley kit, And OMP blanking plate and while I was at it I got a nice shiny CAS cover!
All arrived pretty quick and at a quite reasonable price I felt.
All in all straight forward to fit. I did find I had a to make a very tiny clearance modification on the Idle pulley bracket which I fed back to Rob. They had never had a reported issue before so I must have just got a rogue one.
The OMP blanking plate was a little bit more involved but only due to accessing it with everything in the car. I did this while doing the rack when, as much as I could, everything was out of the way.
Finally I got on to the steering rack. This was something I pondered in great length and finally decided to remove the rack and convert a spare one to manual. A bit of a painful decision being that I had spent out on nice alloy pulleys of which half would now be redundant and done various other mods to get the power rack in and working in the first place! But by going manual it would mean no chance of a leak and much more space in the engine bay. Which would mean I needn’t have modified my coil mounting bracket recently either! Oh well. Live and learn as they say. I was however keeping the powersteering set-up for now just in case I should find manual steering to heavy going!
Getting the rack out was one of the hardest bits. With the 20B conversion the engine sits right on top of it and there is a nice well i the sump that prevents a nice easy extraction. Short of pulling the engine which was not going to happen the only way I could see was drop the subframe and leave the engine suspended on a hoist! Worked a treat. There are plenty of forum threads on converting your rack to manual. The key things are the pinion shaft needs removing and welding as it has some some intended flex you want to remove and also to strengthen it.
You then also need to remove the piston/seal on the rack. This involves some neat careful cutting with a saw or disc cutter and the a chisel to crack open the last little bit and pop it off.
It was then a case of remove all the oil lines and blank off the holes and then assemble it back up packed with grease and some new boots. Looked much tidier when all done.
And then back in the car with the power steering pump removed and all the pipes gone it looks almost empty in there!
I just hope after all that I get on with the rack as it is. It will certainly have that raw race car feel to it!
While the car was up on stands getting the rack done I thought I would do one other little job to clear some space on my garage shelving and get it out of the way.
Fit the Tien shocks I had finished rebuilding a while back!
Think I need to sort those discs and pad out at some point now!
Fuel System Upgrades
As with most jobs that are going to be dirty and smelly I had been putting the fuel system upgrade off for a while. I had sourced new injectors and primary rail some time ago but needed the secondary fuel rail. After doing some research on 20B builds it was also advised by a number of people that the factory fuel lines should be removed and replaced with larger bore ones! This wasn’t what I had in mind originally but there you go needs must! No point having all the potential with not enough fuel to power it. So I sourced a secondary fuel rail from Xtreme Auto Parts in Australia, New Walbro 455lph pump, some braided lines, fittings and a remote filter and then mustered up the courage to prop the car up in the air again and rip out the complete factory fuel system. As you can imagine there was fuel going everywhere! I did come up with quite a sneaky trick for the lines though. I pulled the hoses off at the tank end and then from the fuel rail end and put a catch bottle over one end. then blew down the other end pushing most of the fuel out of the lines before stripping them out. So once everything was out it was time to make new and rebuild it!
Engine looks a bit bare now! What they don’t tell you is under your injectors are some seals that need to come out to fit your new top feed injectors and under these are some plastic bits call diffusers which also need to come out. These are a cow to get out. A lot of WD40 and fiddling with a wire hook worked for me!
Here is my pile of fresh new bits!
First job up was fitting of the fuel pump.. Other than me wanting to do a neat job of wiring and choosing to find some connectors for the factory harness and pull it apart and fit the new pump wiring in to avoid additional cuts and joints i wiring this was not too bad a job.
Much to my amazement the new Walbro pump was actually more compact than the factory Mazda unit! Will see how it performs!
I could now concentrate on running my lines from the tank to the front of the car. In order to do this I would need somewhere to terminate them at the front as you would not really want to run the main lines all the way to the fuel rail or regulator. I could not find anything trawling the net other than suitable fittings I could use on some kind of bracket. So I set about making a bulkhead mounting bracket to run the lines too. I also took all the original fuel line clips apart and opened them out to suit the new braided hose so I could reuse them to secure this in place under the car.
The bulkhead bracket was mounted in a suitable place for ease of access and the lines where then run from the pump and clipped up in place just like factory!
The install was complete mounting the Sard Fuel Pressure regulator under the inlet plenum, a remote filter mounted on the bulkhead and running the short lengths of lines with various fittings between the rails. Came together nicely.
Last but not least the system was pressured up to check for leaks. I, in fact, wound the regulator up to around 60psi or so to make double sure. Base pressure will be set around 40psi. So far so good!?
I did come across a bit of a problem after running the pressure test though. I came back out to the garage after a cuppa to be greeted with the stench of fuel and a puddle of it on the garage floor under the engine. After hunting around joints and lines for a leak and not being able to find one it looked strangely like fuel was pouring out of the engine.. It was! What the hell! Never heard of this before but after doing some tests it turned out most of the injectors were stuck open! Sticking closed I am familiar with but open?! They had been cleaned and test previously, some time ago maybe but still! Very odd. I was able to free them off by firing them with a current and the problem seemed to be resolved. I will keep an eye for any running issues in the near future though and pull them out for another clean later. In the meantime it was time to fire it up again and get the new injectors set-up in the microtech ECU. Got my friend Geff around for that job and car was idling and free revving reasonably well after a couple of hours playing! The Bosch 1680cc all round setup was proving a bit tricky to get a decent idle but some more time will be spent on it when it goes for mapping and also I plan to wire up the Idle control valve on the throttle body which can be controlled by the Microtech Aux setting. Hopefully this will help a bit.
In addition to my current engine bay heatshielding and wraps I decided I would add some wrap to the screamer pipe as it passed quite near the lower radiator hose and slow add a heat deflector shield to protect the water and surrounding area from any hot gases or flames that might come out of this! First of all I tackled the Heatshield for which I templated in cardboard first as it was not a straight forward shape and not much room to fit it.
You can see below where it sits in below the pullies and shields the lower hose and bits.
Finally I got some more titanium exhaust wrap and covered the Screamer pipe.
I also fitted a turbo beanie/ turbo wrap which you can just see in the background here:
The Big Day
This was a big day indeed. The time had finally come to get the car on the dyno and see what was what. Let me make it clear this was not an all out run for power. this was a shake down and base set-up to get me going and check everything functioned right. I was planning an engine overhaul before going too crazy so wanted to make sure and keep it all together.
The intention was to run boost at wastegate pressure which should be 10psi and run up to maybe 6500rpm. However after an initial run to check it over and do some low speed, low load setting up it was apparent it was making no boost. Well 4psi to be precise!
1st dyno Pull
After checking various things it was apparent the wastegate was opening too soon. I popped home to find my spare springs which were no where to be found so instead grabbed some bits and cobbled together a bleed valve system to control the wastegate a bit but it was not holding steady boost. it was spiking up around 10psi and then tailing off quickly. This did allow us to get some runs up to 6500rpm carefully though and it was apparent the set-up was making power. 345WHP (circa 412bhp flywheel) at around 5800rpm and 8psi boost. After that boost was falling off too much and hence so was power.
So a bit bitter sweet, but I ended the day happy that things seemed to stay together with all the custom parts and unknowns!
Time to get on and get this beast finished!
One job I had been thinking about for a while but not come up with a solution for was an all catch tank. I was torn between making one from scratch and buying one ready made. after toying with where to fit it I decided upon a spot and managed to find something off the shelf that looked like it would fit quite nice with some mods to the mounting brackets. So I ordered in a kit with internal baffling and larger breather filter. I cut off all the existing brackets as they were no good and made up a little jig and bracket to replace them. I also added on some bosses to put some pneumatic fittings and put a fill level sight on that was strangely not included on the original tank.
The finished tank looks pretty nice after a little polish up and fits perfect in the spot I chose for it! Just hope I don’t decide to go back to power assisted steering now!
With all that go power I was going to need some good stopping power so I thought it was time to give the tired old brakes a little bit of an overhaul. I wasn’t planning on going crazy with a big brake upgrade just some nice discs and pads. After a bit of shopping around I decided to import some grooved and drilled discs from the US of A with ceramic pads. Will see how they work. They look nice enough though! The discs on the car had barely moved in the past 5 years or so hence it was all a bit of a rusty mess and all the retaining screws were rusted solid and had to be drilled out and re-tapped! Got there in the end though.
I am planning on painting the calipers up as well but I currently cannot decided what colour to do them so I am going to have a think and do them at some point later. It has all had a good clean up and lube in the meantime though.
Dyno Day Prt2
Lets just say this day did not go at all to plan starting with not fitting on the trailer! Front bumper getting slightly damaged, Dyno breaking down, Car having fuel pressure issues, Dyno Intermittently cutting out. More fuel pressure issues! I was (am) not a happy bunny.
My tuner managed to get roughly what we needed done for the day but I did not get a proper power run or anything like that. I cannot delay anymore and need to pull and rebuild the engine now so will have to try and fix the weird fuel pressure issue I have when the engine is out. So although I am gutted about the day in general and pissed about my pristine bumper I am thankful the engine has remained in one piece for rebuilding! Every cloud….!
When I next update I expect to be putting up lots of details on the engine rebuild. just hope there are no nasty surprises when I open her up.
On a side note my last dyno run had showed the car to be getting quite hot. After sorting the timing out ready for this time it was much better and running more normal temps. However as it is a always good to have a nicely ducted radiator for better cooling efficiency I mocked something up in card which I then drew up in CAD and had laser cut and folded in sheet ally. I was toying with clear perspex or carbon but I may do one of those at a later date. Hopefully it should be a nice addition.
Here is the finished mock-up which I measure off to make the CAD model.
And here is the sheet metal part with some additional lourves added in for good measure to try and draw extra air flow up towards the rad. Thank you to PDS (Production and Development Services. for a stunning job.