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Air Cooled to Frankenmotor Monstrification
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veloandy
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Air Cooled to Frankenmotor Monstrification Reply with quote

My 11 year old son: "It's called a Frankenmotor?!? That's awesome! Just don't tell Mom, OK?"
Me: "Why not?"
My 11 year old son: "Because Frankenstein is actually a really sad story, and he ends up catching on fire at the end."

So yeah...I'm finally taking the plunge and building a Frankenmotor (Subaru 2.5 bottom end + 2.2 heads) to replace my 2.0 Aircooled engine in my 1981 Vanagon. I finally got my air cooled engine running perfectly, and then I lost first gear in the transmission. I split a 1987 parts vanagon with another guy and ended up with the transmission, shift linkage, coolant pipes, front and rear heater cores, and other odds-and-ends. My original plan was to modify the transmission mount & shift linkage to work with the air cooled engine location, but the more I thought about it, the more the hassle didn't seem worth it for negligible improvement...Enter the Frankenmotor:

Why a Frankenmotor?
- It's higher compression than a standard EJ25, but doesn't breathe as well. So, it has more torque at lower RPMs than an EJ25, and way more torque than an EJ22 across the RPM range. I don't really care about the power falling off at 6000 RPM.
- It's a non-interference engine, so if the timing belt breaks, the engine probably won't be damaged.
- It's more compact and easier to work on than an EJ25. I can pull the heads off the frankenmotor without even removing the valve covers...pulling EJ25 heads requires removing the valve covers, cam gears, and camshafts. I'm not sure about engine bay clearance in a Vanagon, but in a Subaru there's not enough room to pull all this stuff out with the engine in the car...so the engine has to come out. Yuck!
- It should be pretty reliable
- Parts are cheap and plentiful!

So, I started scouting out junk yards for parts for a Frankenmotor build.

I really lucked out at Andersen's U-Pull-It in Greeley. I got:
- The OBDII ECU, intake manifold, sensors, AFM, chunks of wiring harness, cam sensor wheel, crank sensor wheel, and timing belt tensioner from a 1996 Legacy with a EJ22 with 200K miles and a horrifically failed water pump.
- The only EJ25 bottom end in the whole yard from a T-boned 1998 Forester. It had a digital odometer, so I don't know how many miles were on it, but the cylinders bores still have the factory crosshatching on them.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

- Dual port EJ22 heads and oil pan from a 1995 Impreza with 104K miles on it. The heads were filthy, but started looking better after a little Pinesol and hot water (before & after):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


All this would have only been around $200 if I had the time to go to the yard all day and assemble the engine there...I instead went for several half-days so I ended up buying the intake manifold, timing gears, & sensors separately from the long block, so it was closer to $300. Still a heck of a deal, and I didn't end up having to deal with buying/storing/disposing of a Subaru parts car in my driveway.

Pulling the dashboard from the Subaru to get at the wiring harness seemed like an unnecessary P.I.T.A...so I cut the ECU plug off as far from the ECU as possible (left about a 14" pigtail of wire from the plug), and cut the engine sensors as close to the firewall as possible. This left me with enough wire for proper lengths from the ECU to most of the engine plugs. I had to extend about a dozen wires...but I'd take that any day over pulling the dash of a Subaru!
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


A "friend" of mine found <EDIT: A lot of people have told me this link is dead...PM me if you need my "friend" to send you a copy, or feel free to respond to this thread if your "friend" finds a torrent for "Subaru_ECU_Diagrams_Combined.pdf" that works />this awesome torrent that contains engine wiring diagrams for a ton of different Subaru models (like everything from 1994-2001), including my donor 1996 Legacy. I printed out the appropriate wiring diagram, which turned out to be easy to read and 100% accurate with wiring colors, shielding, etc.

I drew a giant diagram of the ECU plug on this piece of paper and noted the function and wire color of each pin:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Then I taped down the ECU plug and the wire sensors to a piece of poster board at appropriate distances and connected the wires...I soldered and shrink wrapped each connection. It wasn't too bad wiring it all up, (but I'll feel better when I actually see the thing work).

I put all kinds of stuff under the rear seat of my Westy, and I don't want my jack, jumper cables, toolbox, and cans of chili bouncing around on my ECU and wiring connectors...so to protect everything, I stuffed the ECU, main relay and fuel pump relay into a small, Army surplus ammo can (still waiting to do the final wrapping of the loom until I hear this sucker run and don't get any codes):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I used this wiring junction to interface with the car's wiring.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

It's pretty tight, but I think it will work well. I drilled a hole in the side of the can and put in a rubber grommet -- I'll need to run:
1. Heavy gauge fused wire from battery.
2. Medium gauge wire from ignition "On"
3. Medium gauge wire from ignition "Start"
4. Cat 5 cable (from old, long, discarded ethernet network cable) used for carrying signals for:
    Tach
    Speed Sensor
    Check Engine Light
    Fan relay 1
    Fan relay 2


Next steps (in no particular order) are to:
1 ) Sell and pull my aircooled engine
2 ) Continue to clean up the Subaru engine and decide if I should split the case to inspect the bearings or not. Any opinions?
3 ) Check piston dish and combustion chamber volume on the Subaru engine. Order Cometic head gaskets that are thick enough to keep compression from being too insane.
4 ) Assemble the Frankenmotor
5 ) Select an exhaust -- I'm considering trying out an ebay, equal-length, turbo header (from a WRX or STi), mounting it backwards, and running a pipe from the header to a cat and a muffler (instead of to an up pipe/turbo). Has anyone else tried this?
6 ) Buy some other conversion parts and bolt the engine & tranny in.
7 ) Pull the gas tank to install the new shift linkage and cooling pipes.
8 ) Buy a new radiator and install the cooling system -- including installing the rear heater and pulling the dash and swapping out the front heater.
9 ) Button everything else up and fire it up!
10 ) Check for codes and finish wrapping up wire loom.

Hopefully my next posts will be shorter...Hopefully this project will work out...and hopefully, unlike Frankenstein's monster, it won't end in flames!


Last edited by veloandy on Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A working heater. Just in time for winter. Drive it over when you get it on the road.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like you have it all thought through. I appreciate wanting to protect the ECU, but the ammo box may be a little too enclosed. Maybe cut a couple holes in it and wire in a PC muffin fan to move air past the ECU to help keep it cool.
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veloandy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rsxr wrote:
I appreciate wanting to protect the ECU, but the ammo box may be a little too enclosed. Maybe cut a couple holes in it and wire in a PC muffin fan to move air past the ECU to help keep it cool.


Shoot! Does the ECU generate heat? I guess that makes sense...just like a CPU in a computer...I hadn't thought of that! Thanks!

That's too bad...I thought my ammo box was really cool Sad...But the ECU and relays will be almost as protected, much more accessible, and kept much cooler if I just mount it on a board that acts as a false side to the box under the rear seat.

I'll have to mull this over.

Also, on an unrelated note, after posting the original message I realized that I've never read Frankenstein, and he might not actually catch on fire at the end.

Thanks,
-Andy
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My conversion ECUs are built into Pelican boxes.
I put a fan in each to keep things cool.
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veloandy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

insyncro wrote:
My conversion ECUs are built into Pelican boxes.
I put a fan in each to keep things cool.


So...do you cut holes in the Pelican box to get cool air to the fan? If so, how do you mount it so a spilled drink while the seat is open doesn't dump moisture over everything? If you have a pic of one of your mounted cases, I'd love to see it.

A consultant at my work once put his running laptop in his briefcase, zipped it up, and headed off to the airport...by the time he got to DIA, he smelled something burning. He opened his briefcase to find that the lack of air circulation had allowed his laptop to get hot enough to actually melt the plastic laptop case! The laptop was trashed! (this was ~10 years ago...I think most laptops now shut down when they detect that they're getting too hot). In any case, I don't want something like that to happen to my ECU!

On the other hand, I was thinking...the ECU in the stock Subaru location under the carpet and floor mat gets almost no fresh air circulation...but the floorpan may act as a heat sink. Has anyone out there actually running a Subaru conversion felt their ECU ever get warm?

Thanks to everyone for all your help.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My ECU and ECU harness portion, is under bench seat covered by a baking pan. Inadvertently ended up with an air gaps between pan and body, but by the time gear is covering it, air flow is limited. FWIW, on my air cooled, I used the old gas heater vent hole for ECU harness pass through.

Maybe some ECU's put out more heat than others? (older vs newer tech?) Looking at Suby ECU images now, I don't see honkin' big FET's or any thing. Still. They put out heat.

Neil.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Hi Teck


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are those OBD2 heads or OBD1? I believe you have to match the intake the heads, so if they are OBD1 and you got an OBD2 intake, I don't think it will match up. That is kinda why many people use the 2.5 (obd2) with the early obd1 2.2 heads, so they can use their existing intake and wiring harness but get the 2.5 displacment and higher CR.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veloandy wrote:

Also, on an unrelated note, after posting the original message I realized that I've never read Frankenstein, and he might not actually catch on fire at the end.

Thanks,
-Andy


Things worked out pretty good for the monster in Young Frankenstein, if you remember.
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veloandy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanagon Nut, thanks for the pictures! I love your low-tech baking pan solution! Thanks so much!

Franklinstower wrote:
Are those OBD2 heads or OBD1? I believe you have to match the intake the heads, so if they are OBD1 and you got an OBD2 intake, I don't think it will match up. That is kinda why many people use the 2.5 (obd2) with the early obd1 2.2 heads, so they can use their existing intake and wiring harness but get the 2.5 displacment and higher CR.


You're freaking me out, dude! I pulled the heads off a 1995 Impreza. This seems to be a transition year: some are OBDI and some are OBDII. I didn't check for an OBDII diagnostic port when I pulled the heads, but it did have dual port heads (which I really wanted for better header selection), which seem to be an OBD I thing, at least on a Legacy. As soon as I got home from work tonight I bolted it all up finger tight. Luckily, the intake manifold gaskets are the same, and it looks like it will work (Brace yourself for fresh-from-the-junkyard filthiness and not the typical gleaming clean aluminum engine porn you'd probably prefer to see):


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The one thing that might be a fitment issue has to do with the timing belt tensioner. Apparently it bolts to a bracket (at first glance I thought it bolted to the case directly). The EJ22 tensioner bolts to the EJ25 bracket, but the EJ25 bracket has an ear that collides with the EJ22 head...I'll either grab an EJ22 bracket or just cut the ear off the EJ25 bracket.

I have heard of people having issues b/c Subaru used at least 4 cam position sensor wheels...and maybe more than 1 crank position sensor wheel. If you have one that doesn't match your ECU, it will never run. Luckily I got all those from my ECU OBDII donor.

So, intake manifold, sensors, ECU, cam and crank position sensor wheels match my ECU...I don't see why my ECU wouldn't be happy with the combo. All parts physically bolt up together.

Do you recall what the incompatibility is?

I'm no Subaru compatibility expert, and maybe I just got lucky...but I'm feeling pretty confident that all this junk is compatible...time will tell.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

veloandy wrote:
Vanagon Nut, thanks for the pictures! I love your low-tech baking pan solution! Thanks so much!



Yah it's pretty "trailer park" but is "ok"

If possible, position ECU so connector is accessible while working in engine bay. This makes it easier to check wiring. i.e. continuity of wires between coolant sensor plug and ECU connector pins. You may find the rear bench location ok assuming ECU connector harness long enough so you can sneak it under the upper portion of bench seat. (I know nothing of the non Z bed seats though)


Neil.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanagon Nut wrote:
If possible, position ECU so connector is accessible while working in engine bay. This makes it easier to check wiring


Man! You're full of great ideas! That is SO HELPFUL! If I rework my ammo box, I'll keep the accessibility of ECU connector from the engine bay in mind.

BTW: I was planning on running my wiring through the old gas heater air inlet too, even before I saw your pictures...I'm glad you've proved it's feasible!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The hole is likely bigger than what you need.

This was my first swap ever, so some of my stuff could be considered kludgy. The rad hose bits I used to fill hole (and plate to reduces OEM hole ID) work, but as with other ideas seen on the 'net, this might be improved.

Consider too where you want your OBD port. I don't know the Suby swap, but in hindsight, I wish I'd put mine at the dash. For real time monitoring and convenience, this might be a better place. (picture laptop or other running software). IIRC though, OBD1 Suby can do blink codes like early OBD1 VW. Again handy to have OBD port at dash. (picture jumpering, trying to see dash light, from rear at engine bay. Not optimal IMO)

It takes more time, running wires forward, but worth it. Maybe run a few extra while doing this.


Neil.
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50 ABA Swap in to '88 Westy: http://tinyurl.com/yap5hpwt

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https://tinyurl.com/2f24rmh

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK...finally got the chance to measure combustion chamber volumes before I start disassembling and cleaning everything up...

I got a $.50 scrap of plexiglass from Fort Collins Plastics, drilled a fill hole and a tiny air release hole in it, and grabbed an oral hypodermic from the medicine cabinet. I set my case on its side, cranked it to TDC, sealed the plexi to the piston with red grease, and checked the piston dish:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I did a similar deal with the combustion chambers in the head (sealed valves with a dab of grease). I got:
- Piston Dish: 15 cc
- Piston Height: Sits 0.5 mm/.020" above the deck of the block
- Combustion Chamber Volume: 40 cc
- Bore: 100 mm
- Stroke: 79 mm

I crunched some numbers, and it looks like a .075" head gasket would give me about 10.3:1 compression. That would be great...a little over stock but nothing crazy. I might not even have to run premium gas up here at 5000 feet.

The water passages are different between EJ25 and EJ22 heads, but I can't just use EJ22 head gaskets because the EJ25 piston crowns sit above the block deck, and the cylinder bores in the EJ22 gaskets are too small to clear them.

Luckily Cometic sells a hybrid EJ22/EJ25 head gasket in custom thicknesses. It is part number H1631SPK. They don't list it on their website, so I'll call next week to order a set.

Stock configuration Cometic gaskets are a little more expensive than OEM ($75/ea for .075 thick vs. $35/ea for OEM from 1stsubaruparts.com), but they are supposed to be bulletproof AND reusable!

Now! Finally! I can get to cleaning all this nasty Subaru stuff off and tearing it apart!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool project! I finished my frankenmotor a few months ago and it's fantastic.

veloandy wrote:
- It's a non-interference engine, so if the timing belt breaks, the engine probably won't be damaged.


I'm curious about this; where did you read this? The EJ25D is an interference motor, and a frankenmotor has even more compression. Maybe you can check the valve clearance at TDC with putty while turning the cam.

I suspect my motor with Delta 220 cams and stock thickness head gasket will be interference, but I never checked.

veloandy wrote:
I crunched some numbers, and it looks like a .075" head gasket would give me about 10.3:1 compression.


A different sized gasket will change the valve timing, although I don't think it will be too much of a problem with only 0.4mm per side.

I had to remap my '92 ECU to work with the cams (mixture at idle), and to eliminate pinging (timing everywhere). Hopefully your OBD-II ECU won't need this.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

presslab wrote:
veloandy wrote:
- It's a non-interference engine, so if the timing belt breaks, the engine probably won't be damaged.



I'm curious about this; where did you read this? The EJ25D is an interference motor, and a frankenmotor has even more compression. Maybe you can check the valve clearance at TDC with putty while turning the cam.


I had just kind of assumed it would be non-interference because:
1) The EJ22 is non-interference
2) One of the points of interference in an EJ25D is the intake and exhaust valves hitting each other when the cams spin independently. Since there is only one cam driving all the valves on EJ22 heads, that can't happen.
3) The ~10% increase in compression with stock head gaskets seems to be primarily from compressing down ~10% greater cylinder volume into the same combustion chamber size -- not from a taller dome on the piston. I had assumed the distance from the valve face to the piston on a Frankenmotor is EJ22-like, so behavior when the timing belt snaps should be EJ22-like too, including the inertia of the valve train and time it takes the valves to snap closed. But, I have not actually compared EJ22 vs. EJ25 valve-to-piston clearances.

That said, you make a good point...I haven't seen an authoritative source that says Frankenmotors are definitively non-interference. I'm also not 100% sure that valves in usually-non-interference motors won't collide with the piston at full lift/TDC. It could be that most non-interference motors simply have a light enough valve train that if the timing belt breaks at redline, the cam stops spinning and the valves are left closed before the bottom end makes it to TDC.

Yeah...all that goes out the window when you have longer duration or higher lift cams.

In any case, it would be interesting to check it out with the stock cam and modeling clay...I'll try to get around to it and will post what I find.

presslab wrote:
I had to remap my '92 ECU to work with the cams (mixture at idle), and to eliminate pinging (timing everywhere). Hopefully your OBD-II ECU won't need this.


First, I have to say I am in awe of your ECU hacks (assuming you're the "presslab" with the same engine from USMB). I mean...I solder projects together...I order stuff from SparkFun...I own and frequently use a multimeter...I was pursuing an EE degree for the first 1.5 years of college before I switched to Computer Science...but DAMN! Writing custom code to an EEPROM, hooking it up to a custom PCB, wiring it into a largely undocumented ECU, tweaking the map so it idles better, and getting it all to actually work?!? I'm impressed, man. I don't think I could hook that up!

So, yeah, not wanting to remap my ECU, plus totally hosing my air cooled rebuild by using a performance cam that the stock FI didn't like are the main reasons I'm sticking with stock cams...hopefully they'll be OK. I'd trade a little performance for a lot of drive-ability any day!

Since you're Dr. ECU, I have to ask...what has your experience been with the ECU generating heat? Do you have any ECU cooling/airflow/heat sinks set up? How do you have your ECU mounted?

Thanks,
-Andy
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veloandy wrote:
First, I have to say I am in awe of your ECU hacks (assuming you're the "presslab" with the same engine from USMB).


Thanks. Embarassed

I assume you have seen the thread here? I posted more technical info.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4...00#6136986

veloandy wrote:
Since you're Dr. ECU, I have to ask...what has your experience been with the ECU generating heat? Do you have any ECU cooling/airflow/heat sinks set up? How do you have your ECU mounted?

Thanks,
-Andy


I have the ECU behind the stock sheet metal cover in the Westfalia configuration. The tintop vans are slightly different. I stole the pic below, but my ECU is in the same spot - behind the black metal cover under the rear bench seat.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The ECU doesn't get very hot, at all. I just checked after driving home from work and the hottest component on the board (I still have the cover off) was only 6 C above ambient. Put the cover on, and throw it in another box and you'll probably double that; no biggie. There isn't even a good thermal path from the power transistors inside the ECU to the cover. So it's not something I'd worry about from a temperature standpoint.

However, my '92 ECU has an atmospheric sensor inside. You don't want to seal this inside an enclosure or otherwise create pressure/vacuum, as this will change the fuel mixture. So if you put it in a sealed enclosure, make sure there is a small hole somewhere to equalize the pressure.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I split the EJ25 case this weekend. I'm sure glad I did! The cylinder bores looked OK, so I was halfway considering just running it (with new head gaskets, new timing components, parts cleaned up, carbon scraped off the tops of pistons, etc.).

When I pulled the pistons, the compression rings looked OK, but the oil control rings were the most awful, gunked-up junk I've ever seen! It looks almost as if they're made of adobe! I think if I had run these, the engine would have consumed oil like crazy!
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here's a picture of the "fossil" of the oil control ring left in the ring land in the piston (yes...this is after the rings have been removed):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


How did the OE rings get so gunked up?? Putting on 100,000 one-mile trips with a plugged PCV valve and never changing the oil?

The rod and main bearings looked tired and like they had been run with some very dirty oil...but they didn't look like they'd cause any immediate problems.
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I ordered new bearings since I'm in there anyway and will check the clearance w/Plastigauge. BTW: I love that all bearing clearances in a Subaru engine can be checked with plastigauge and don't have to deal with aligning dowel pins in a funky and fragile circular bearing like in a VW case...

So the major parts have been sprayed clean at a coin-operated car wash. The pistons are taking turns sitting in a vat of lacquer thinner, I have new rings, rod bearings, and main bearings on order (in addition to custom head gaskets, a full gasket set, and a timing set with idlers and a water pump). I think I'm going to have to buy some "aircraft remover" to get the really nasty crud off the pistons and cylinder head surfaces. I'll post another update when I start putting the clean parts all back together and start rigging the car up for water cooling.
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Phishman068
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Joined: February 19, 2007
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Location: Pittsburgh PA (ish)
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking good!
Be careful with aircraft remover, it's truly a terrifying product and I think it will do everything it can to kill you. It's vial but effective.
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veloandy
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Location: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phishman068 wrote:
Be careful with aircraft remover, it's truly a terrifying product and I think it will do everything it can to kill you. It's vial but effective.


No joke! It should be marketed under a brand name like "Gaia Death". It sizzles when it hits anything with moisture in it. The smallest waft of overspray on skin burns like crazy!

At lunch today I sprayed it on a piston that still had a lot black deposits that an overnight soaking in lacquer thinner + scrubbing with undiluted Pinesol couldn't budge.

Ten minutes after spraying with aircraft remover, the deposits turned into caustic black jelly and started sliding off, leaving just gleaming clean aluminum.

Aircraft remover is an order of magnitude beyond lacquer thinner, both in terms of efficacy and pure biocidal evil.
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