Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Making chips feels good. So does solving problems.

I didn't get a very good picture of the problem that needed solving, but this shows it a little bit - the reservoirs for the brake and clutch master cylinders don't have enough space above them to allow removing the caps and adding fluid. It's not shown here, but the windshield frame has a flange that sits right down on the black square tube that has the blue tape on it.

These really need to have remote reservoirs fitted, but there doesn't seem to be a good solution already on the market to add this to a Subaru master cylinder.

Fortunately, aluminum is cheap, and my uncle has a lathe. Good tools make it easy to build solutions to problems.

We took some measurements off the reservoir above, and I started making some chips. I did make one bad measurement, so the first test was not good, but it was easy enough to correct.

We ended up making this adapter, which fits perfectly, I do need to get a tap so we can add a barb out the side, but it looks like we are both going to be using this solution on our cars.

Now we just need five more. 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Further intercooler adventures

Once I realized that my old Y-pipe did not fit the new intercooler, I ordered one that would fit - with performance-enhancing red silicone connecting hoses, naturally. With the new Y-pipe installed, bolting up the intercooler was pretty simple.
Here's a look at the underside of it, where the Y-pipe outlets connect to the inlets of the intercooler. Unfortunately, very shortly after I took this picture, I realized that the crosspiece that reinforces the rear suspension conflicted. Some swearing ensued, and then I got to modifying the intercooler mounting brackets.

This all flows from the previous decision to lower the tail end of the transmission, which tips the whole drivetrain down and aft.
With the freshly modified brackets, the intercooler is tipped up at the rear. The crosspiece does fit now, but it's a good thing I already had plans to modify the body panel here, because there's going to have to be a large hole cut in it to make room.
But here it is, all bolted up and after the swearing died down.
I also managed to finish and paint the emergency brake handle. This is the handle out of the donor car, with extensive modifications and added bracketry to fit the Wilwood brake cables I'll be using.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Well, crud.

Well, not the grubby old intercooler, but the shiny new one! 

I finished routing PCV out from under the intercooler area today, so I mocked up the new one. But it turns out I was incorrect - it's not quite a bolt-up replacement for the old one. I knew it was larger, but I assumed that it would mount up to all the same locations. It does connect to the turbo outlet, throttle bode, and blow-off valve just fine...

But the Y-pipe is too short to reach the charge inlets on the bottom of the cooler. It turns out, after measuring, that the shiny new intercooler is wider front to back than the old one was, so I need to order the Y-pipe from an STI car.

Time to go find something else to accomplish on the car for now, I guess.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Prepping for the intercooler

 Now that the turbo is in and set, it's time to prep for the intercooler. Not this grubby old one; I have a new, better one to put in. But the mounting points and such are all the same, so I'll use this one for preparation.

It goes here, aft of the intake manifold and above the front of the transmission. In the donor car, the firewall would have been close to the intercooler right where my hand is. This makes installing an intercooler in a WRX a complete pain - but in the kit, having all the space around the back of the intercooler makes things much easier, as I'll show you later in this post.

Past me did a good job of disassembling the intercooler and related bits from the donor car. I was fearful that I wasn't going to find these two brackets, and would have to order replacements. I went from despair to "Oh, that was easy" very quickly when I found these all together in the shed.
Here is where the intercooler will eventually go. The inlets get bolted up to the two oval ports at right; the outlet goes into the throttle body at left; and the sides get supported by the two brackets.

This is why it's easier to install the intercooler into the kit than a WRX - with a firewall in the way, the inlets are completely inaccessible, so they have to be bolted up before installing - and this leaves you trying to line up and connect to the turbo outlet and the throttle body at the same time, at right angles to each other. The folklore is that this usually requires lots of effort and swearing. Here, though, I'll be able to just connect to the throttle body and then bolt up the inlets. There is a load of space, so it's no challenge at all.

But I can't install the intercooler yet. Once it's in, getting to anything else on the top of the engine gets astronomically more difficult, so I have been spending extra time and care on being sure that everything else in that area is complete. Notably, this include PCV - positive crankcase ventilation. This is a requirement for emissions, so that blowby gasses and oil vapor don't just get vented to the atmosphere - they get recirculated into the intake and burned in the engine. The PCV valve itself is buried in that dark spot under the throttle body, so I have to finish that before I can button up the intercooler.

I had hoped to finish that all this weekend, but I didn't have the right sizes of hose to get the PCV valve installed for good, and I could not find any locally. But it's all ordered, and will show up soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Turbo is in!

After a shamefully long hiatus from posting, I finally have good progress to share. This past weekend, I finished installing the headers - passenger side shown here - crosspipe, and up-pipe. They are all wrapped and bolted up and torqued. I guess they could possible come off again, but I hope we don't go there.
Here's where the turbo needs to go. That's the up-pipe at the bottom of the frame, and the air inlet hose at center. The braided hose extending out the top of the frame is the oil supply line.

The donor car had a turbo, of course, but I was a bit concerned about some shaft play in it - it has more than a hundred thousand miles on it, of course, and every sign of having been used hard. So I upgraded. It's not a big upgrade, but it should definitely provide a bit more air for the engine. Coupled with increased fueling from upgraded injectors, and a good tune, I'd like to see maybe 300 horsepower - stock was 227.

Here's the new turbo all bolted up.

The basic idea is that the exhaust spins the compressor side, and the impeller side pushed compressed air out that shiny tube at left into an intercooler and then into the intake. Add fuel and spark, and zoom!

Not shown here, but I also made some progress on the shift linkages and the emergency brake cables in the cockpit.

I think the intercooler may be next - I need to research how all that goes together.

Monday, May 2, 2022

How to identify connectors

I really should have done a better job of labeling the wiring harness when I was taking it out of the donor. I did label some things, but not nearly enough. And as I am doing the wire diet a couple of years later, I have no bloody idea what some of these things connect to. Here's how I am figuring it out.

First, I choose the next connector I want to work on. I make note of its color, number of terminals, gender, and general configuration. This one is pretty simple, because it only has two pins.
Then I pull back any loom or sheathing near the connector and make note of the colors (main and stripe) on each wire. Bear in mind that these wires spent a decade and a half in the engine bay of a car, so they are definitely dirty, and may also be discolored or faded. More than once, I have gotten the colors wrong, and have had to go back and look again to find the correct color.

Then I use all of that information to make a little sketch of the connector, and note down its characteristics. There's a pretty well-defined language for this in the documentation.

This is a female connector, so it gets a single border, and the pins are numbered from left to right. Each possible color is given a consistent letter (or two). I have this written down as green with a pink stripe, and brown with a yellow stripe.

It turned out this was incorrect, which caused confusion, but that's what I have noted here.
I do know which harness I am working on, so I can take a look at this chart to make some guesses about which connector it might be, and note those down.
Then I flip through about 150 pages of wiring diagrams, looking for a connector that matches my description. Here, my pinky points to a matching sketch, and my index finger points to more detail on the wiring diagram.

This is the second time through the book, though. I said previously that I got the colors on one of the wires as green and pink (GP) - but I didn't find that, so I looked again and saw that it was in face green and orange (GOr).
So there we go. It's connector number F79, the connector for the air conditioning pressure switch. I labeled it and moved on to the next connector down the chain.

The kit car won't have A/C, so later on, I will go back and remove these wires from the harness.
Here's the current status of the harness. The bits on the table to the left of the blue tape roll have been identified and labeled; the stuff on the floor and to the right of the tape still need to be gone through.

Once I have it all labeled, I can continue the diet.

How to Wire Diet

There's a lot of wire in a modern production car. The wire diet is a very useful (but also very time and labor intensive) part of a kit car build. Here's how I am doing mine.

There are a lot of features that were in the donor car that I won't be using in the kit, so I am just tripping wire out that is related to those feature. In this example, anti-lock brakes. Nope, no driver aids in the kit car. This is the connector that plugged into the ABS unit, and I don't wat it flopping around in the kit, so it's time to diet it.

Pick a wire attached to the plug. It doesn't matter too much which one you choose, because they are all coming out eventually. Cut the wire close to the plug.
And then chase it back through the rat's nest of wire. The harness went to all corners of the car, so it's possible that a single wire could be fifteen or twenty feet long, piled in with a few hundred others. 

Oddly, this reminded me a lot of chasing network cables through a crowded wiring closet. I guess my time in IT has some real-world applications after all.

When you get to the other end of the wire, cut it off there, too.

Then, you can bundle it all up and chuck it into the box of wire that you have already pulled out.
Repeat as necessary, until you've removed every wire from that plug. Chuck the plug into the box as well.

Then identify and diet the next unneeded plug.

You may note a couple of things in the background of this pic - first, my hands are filthy; and second, the orange bucket half-full of trash. Both of these result from having to remove a lot of electric tape and wire loom from the bundled harness. The adhesive on the tape, after years in the donor car, turns to goo that gets all over everything and is challenging to wash off.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


Minor progress this week. Other hobbies and events have intruded heavily into my shop time, unfortunately.

But I did manage to make some progress in dieting the wiring harness. It's a very small example, but this is the dash clock out of the donor car. I won't be needing that, so I traced and cut out the wiring for that. I'm still working on identifying what everything is.

I also started working on the parking brake handle. This one is out of the donor car. It used to have a plastic / faux leather cover on it, but it was so scratched, worn, and peeling that it didn't make sense to keep that part. I'm going to have to find a way to wrap it with leather so it's not quite so ugly, but that's a problem for later.

What I was able to do, though, is cut down the mounting tabs on the bottom, and get some steel welded to the bottom for mounting in the car. This helps move it down and back a bit, so it will be less in the way while driving.

Here's what it looks like sitting on the tunnel. The heavy cables are the push-pull tables that actually operate the transmission at the back of the car. I did get a little bit of work done in making the clamps for the ends (the silver ferrules), but I need to put more thought and effort into building that.

Both the parking brake and the shift lever have solutions in the kit, but I have opted not to use them, because I like my way better.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Wire Diet II - Diet Harder

If you remember my previous posts about wire diet, that was just the harness for the top of the engine - this is the diet for the main part of the car. There's a lot more to it, and of course not all of it is labeled, so there's a lot to get through. This lump of wire weighs maybe 30 pounds at a guess.
The first key is to go through and identify things - and if they are not needed for the kit, to go through, wire by wire, and remove them. This module, for example, had unknown function until I googled the part number and found out that it's the cruise control computer. No cruise control in the kit, so the box got removed and all the individual wires run back and cut out.
All of these are airbag wires, which connected to the airbag computer in the dash of the donor. This system is mostly discrete from the main harness, so it was easier to pull out these cables as assemblies rather than wire by wire.

I pulled out a good chunk in my first pass, but there's still a lot to do. And I also will need to identify all the wires from this harness where they connect to the engine harness, because there will be a bunch of wires I can remove there to match things I cut out of the engine harness already. Then the fun of splicing it all together can begin. Or just building my own, I haven't really decided yet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Driveline work

Only one photo in today's update, because everything I worked on was in the rear of the car.

First, I got the axles in, connecting the outputs of the transmission to the rear hubs. Of course, this meant I had to unbolt all the links that connected the knuckle assembly, and just last week I bolted a bunch of heavy stuff to it. I ended up using my engine hoist as a kind of skyhook so I didn't have to wrangle all the weight myself.

As I was putting it all back together, I also assembled and installed the rear coilovers, and went through to install a bunch of spacers on all of the bolts connecting all of the rear suspension members to the rear knuckle and to the frame. And there are kind of a lot of them - each side has two trailing links, three lateral links, and a coilover.

Last but not least, I installed the shock tower brace that ties the rear end of the frame together above the transmission, adding rigidity to the rear portion of the frame.

It feels like good work got done this week. I'm excited to see what happens next.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A collection of smaller tasks

I took care of a few smaller tasks this weekend - little things that were not super critical, but definitely needed to be done.

First up, I bolted in this support for the back of the driver's seat. The seat bottom will bolt to brackets on the floor; this supports and constrains the upright back section. I need to take it back out again, of course, because I need to paint the steel angle it's bolted to.

I also finished installing the brake discs and calipers. Big ol' vented rotors, front and rear, and Cadillac Brembos to provide squeeze.
In the rear, same setup, except for the addition of a Wilwood e-brake.

The donor car, like most passenger cars, had more braking up front. The kit, being rear-engined, needs more balanced brakes, so the big discs and 4-pot calipers on all four corners will help, particularly since the brakes are unboosted. There will be a proportioning valve in the hydraulic system to tune the balance if needed.

And the shift cables showed up today, so I had to get them installed. They go from the tail end of the transmission up to the shift lever - past and around the engine. I need to fab up a mount for the clamps on the tunnel, but that shouldn't be hard.

I'm thinking axles and rear suspension might be next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Back to it, and it feels good.

Well, even though I haven't been posting lately, I haven't been completely off the car project. I did do a little bit of recreational research, by going flying with my uncle. This gave me the chance to try out a headset which I may end up using for an in-car intercom. It should give me good hearing protection, allow conversation with the passenger, and also give me audio from my phone for navigation.

But as far as actual work on the car, this weekend I got the shift linkage installed again, and hooked up some push-pull cables to measure for length.

These cables are way longer than I need, because I am using a different shifter than the kit specifies. This should give me better shifting, with a shorter, more direct run.

The cables go up over the engine block, then down through the firewall and into the tunnel, where they will hook up to the shift lever. Once I got them routed, I marked them, removed them from the car, and measured them, and then I submitted an RFQ to have custom cables made.

I also reinstalled the upper portion of the rear firewall, and got a few holes set up so that important things can go through it - fuel filler, fuel tank vent, shift cables and electrics. The fuel tank is in and bolted down, too, and I finished bolting down the seat rails and anti-submarine bracket for the driver's seat. 

There's also another portion of the firewall which will install forward of the fuel tank, but I'm not quite ready for that - which in turn prevents me from completely nailing down the seat mounting. But I did put the seat in and sit in it for a while today.
I was going to call it a day there, but the header wrap tape I had ordered showed up, so I wrapped the two pieces of the exhaust that I had not yet wrapped. This is the passenger side header, which I wrapped with 1" wide tape. The other components (driver-side header, crosspipe, and up-pipe) all got 2" tape, but the tight bends and branching pipes on this one made it easier to wrap it with the narrow stuff. 
Then I mocked up all the exhaust pieces. Nothing is tight here, just assembled as a mockup. Like most things in this project, it will probable all come off again before it's final.
Turbo goes here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Back from holiday hiatus

After a break for other hobby projects related to the holiday season, I'm back on the car. I finished  stripping down the wiring harness for the intake manifold, and then started organizing it again into a coherent harness, ready to plug into things.

This pile of loose junk...

... got turned into a more attractive and tidier bundle, tied up with wire loom and zip ties.

Most of the wiring was actually useful, and while I did strip out a few connectors and a few yards of wire, the big benefit is really that I moved one big connector from the right side to the left, so it will all go into the cabin through one hole in the firewall.

After the wire diet for the intake harness was complete, I started on mocking up the exhaust system. This is a look at the passenger side cylinder head. You can see the exhaust header at lower right, bolted up to the actual exhaust ports, then the up-pipe wrapping behind the head, leading to the turbo at upper left. None of that is locked down yet - I have header wrap on order, so I will need to take it all apart to apply it to all the pieces.

And I am very tempted to upgrade the turbo and intercooler while I am at this stage, too.