Archive for November, 2007

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

The last time I posted about my 2002, it was hours after I went to my first SoCal AI meet and… Yeah, look at the old thread if you really need to know. In any case, I came out of it with a big dent in the nose of my car, and an even bigger dent on my ego. But that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to work on it as if nothing happened, mostly only because the body damage hasn’t affected drivability at all, and it’s still structurally sound.

The first thing I did was research how much a replacement nose would cost. From 2002AD, a specialty shop here in Pomona, you can buy a clean, used front section for $500, or buy a brand new nose and core support from Mobile Tradition for roughly $1000. But as I researched more, even $500 was far too expensive; there were clean noses going for $300, even in the northeast where one would think a solid front, which is notorious for rusting near the lower apron, would be very desirable. But, like most of my car, I put form over function and put finding a nose aside, and did my best to repair what I had.


djcommie’s driveway do-it-yourself bodyshop! Trying to straighten out the headlight bucket; we eventually jammed a prybar in there and got it mostly straight, and I learned the magic of zip ties.

A few weeks later, a bunch of went to the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach. Blah blah blah, there was a thread already on that, so I won’t say anything about it. The plan that night was to make a run up Angeles Crest, leaving my car at the bottom since I was not at all confident in its abilities up a dark, winding mountain road. Not one mile from leaving djcommie’s place, the engine sounds like a sewing machine doing its best impression of a machine gun. (Ignore the fact that it looks like it’s about to jump out of the engine bay, the idle mixture was set totally wrong)

Variant and djcommie were right in front of me, and I was flashing my (dim) brights at them like crazy. I pulled off onto a side street, and we pulled the valve cover. I thought I’d lost oil pressure or something, but the pressure light never illuminated and the pan was still plenty full. Soon, it was obvious what the problem was.–Y

Yeah, that’s about .125″ of play while there should be at most .008″. I bought a feeler gauge, adjusted all the valves to 8 thou, and everything was happy. And man did adjusting the idle mixture make the idle smoother.

A short time after that, I picked up the door brake from a Mercedes Benz 190E and installed it in the driver’s side door. Why pay $75 for the real part when $5.75 works fine?

Half of this thing is missing.

Now it stays open on it’s own! Now with ghetto-ass machine screw holding the strap to the door pillar!

The next problem to fix was figuring out why my car was getting a) terrible gas mileage, b) making no power and c) not pulling worth a shit past 3100rpm. To try to remedy this, I spent $50 on ignition parts.

All for nothing, cause it didn’t fix the problem.

Then, looking down the throat of the carb, I noticed that the accelerator pump tube was totally loose, and I could move it by just looking at it. For the uninitiated, the accelerator pump is a little diaphragm on the side of the carburetor that, when the throttle is moved, pumps raw gas through this little tube into the venturi in the carb. It basically enrichens the fuel mixture very quickly in order to, well, accelerate.

I didn’t get any pictures of it, but I rebuilt the carb and secured the tube back in its hole with a coating of superglue. Put it back together and… It doesn’t idle. At all. As in, I have to keep it revved to about 2000rpm in order to keep it alive. It’s kind of hard to do this when coming to a stop. Despite pulling the idle jet and cleaning it, it still wouldn’t do its job. I blew into the end of it, put it back in, and the car now idles and runs. It was fun finally running my rebuilt engine up to 6000rpm!

Now that I was done with how the car looked and fixing the most annoying problems present, I wanted to start upgrading the suspension. The first step in achieving this was to order front and rear polyurethane suspension bushings. I bought Energy Suspension parts ordered from and I really recommend them; they were very painless and I got the parts in about three days. That weekend, I made my way over to Long Beach to Nik’s house to install these bushings.


The old, oily, eaten up bushings in the control arms, and the bushings at the end of the radius rods were replaced, and I could notice an immediate, if subtle, change in handling characteristics. I can’t wait to do the rear bushings, especially since I’m 99% sure there’s a bad trailing arm bushing that’s causing a loud clunking sound.

Then, a day before I was set to make it up from Pomona to Mill Valley for Thanksgiving break, something horrible happened. I was getting a loud (LOUD) grinding noise, almost like that of a Skilsaw, coming from the car, completely speed dependent. I figured it was the gearbox output shaft bearing, since the box was suspect anyway. I got towed back to school and went to bed, pretty frustrated. The next morning, I topped off the gearbox with some 85-90W, and started on my trip. No drama at all for the entire 9 hour trip, I was amazed. But still going to swap that pesky transmission.

For the next suspension upgrade I was thinking about, I was looking at bigger swaybars for the front and rear of the car. I originally wanted to ask for these for Christmas, but why wait when fate kicks them into your face? I mentioned to a friend that someone was selling a 22mm front swaybar for $50 in the Atlanta, hoping he’d ship it to California, but he gave me a better option — buy his old swaybars. On top of that, he was selling a complete M10 for $80 (because he’s doing an M20 swap into his ’02), and gave me a new brake booster to replace mine with a broken fitting (because he’s going with a full Tilton setup). For $200, I made out like a bandit. Oh, and a transmission. I got a new transmission too.

No, really, it’s complete.

Took off the intake manifold to make room for storage.

I have to say, replacing the swaybars had to have been the best bang-for-buck purchase I’ve ever made on an automobile, and they should be even better when I decide to buy polyurethane chassis mounts and endlink bushings.

Old front: 15mm, new front: 22mm

Old rear: 16mm, new rear: 19mm

Not that I going to get to play with them, or anything; that problem I mentioned earlier? Well, swapping the transmission did nothing to help, because it returned on my 8 hour drive back to Pomona from Mill Valley. The weirdest thing about this noise is that it comes and goes, and while the intensity of the noise is dependent on speed, its presence is not. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the center bearing on the driveshaft. The only thing that makes not much sense about this is that usually the rubber around the bearing is the thing to fail, not the bearing itself. However, for $25 and a few hours of work, it should be worth it either way. I just hope that I can make it back up the Bay Area come Winter break.