A preview of things to come

March 20th, 2010 by admin

More on this tomorrow.

Some new parts!

February 15th, 2010 by admin

I got some fun parts from Ireland Engineering since the last update!

I actually got these for Christmas but haven’t posted about them… They’re double valve springs and steel Crower retainers, which should allow the engine to spin to 7000RPM. After that the rockers get iffy, and after that, the cam simply doesn’t let enough air flow into the combustion chamber. So I’ll be looking to remedy that one way or another 😉 I measured the open and closed pressures and compared them to the factory numbers, but that was months ago and I don’t remember what they were. In any case my valves shouldn’t start to float at 6500RPM anymore.

I had a few beers and got excited about my car even though I have to wait another month to do anything on it (yes I was that bored), and figured out what it might take to make those Epsilons fit. Also my roommate really wants me to go wide… 205/50R15 should be fine. Behold my basic trigonometry skills

Which led me to purchase:

Camber plates! No more will I have between -.5° and zero camber on the front wheels of my car and the problems associated with it. Namely handling like a total pig. I suppose having junkyard tires on the front might have something to do with that, but that shouldn’t be a problem for too long…

Megasquirt rant.

January 9th, 2010 by admin

Took a few step backwards over break, actually.

I was letting it warm up after mounting the battery box, and it began to run a little weirdly – MegaTune was showing that it was jumping RPMs, but I’d rev it in neutral a little bit and it would run fine for about 30 seconds, then do the same thing again. I figured this was because I hadn’t actually set the timing, so I decided to do that. Keep the car at 2000RPM and turn the distributor until the steel ball is visible in hole in the transmission bellhousing. Okay, done. Oh, what’s this? The timing light doesn’t fire on #1 at idle and the thing will just die? That’s kind of peculiar… Also, this engine can’t possibly rev from 900RPM to 1700RPM in one polling interval, and that’s kind of messing up my fuel delivery. Something’s wrong here.

Long story short, it got to the point where at idle the only cylinder giving consistent spark was #3 verified through test plugs and feeling the header primaries, and I learned how funny 4-cyl engines sound when they are running on one cylinder. I’m pretty sure that the reason for this can be attributed to the fact that my Pertronix unit was finally dying. Over the summer I ran an MSD Blaster coil, foolishly without the required ballast resistor, and let a little bit of the magic smoke out of the ignitor. By some stroke of luck, though, I let it cool down and it fired right back up, and I had no problems with it for about the next 1200 miles. I replaced the stock coil as well, and that wasn’t to blame, as it acted exactly the same with a replacement.

Oh, forgot to mention – when it managed to run on more than one cylinder, I decided “fuck it! I’ll just drive it around the block and at least feel good to have a somewhat drivable car!” Backing out of the driveway, I tapped the brakes to stop the car since I had to wait for traffic, no biggie. Go to let the clutch out, and the revs just drop. Give it a little gas and let the clutch out, same thing. Did I leave a brick or a 2×4 or maybe a small animal behind one of the rear wheels? What the hell? I poked around, didn’t see anything impeding my path, and disconnected the vacuum line to the booster, and it took everything I had not to let the car roll into the street.

So now I have to deal with a faulty booster.

Nik eventually came over and I figured that with a week to go before I left, we’d have plenty of time to get the car diagnosed and on the road – after all, he knows much more about MegaSquirt implementation than I do. I mean, he made a Fiat run, although I guess doing that is probably easier when you use aftermarket engine controls. Anyway. He comes over and we decide to swap the EDIS back on, after all, it did actually run however terribly so we could at least get to that point and see what was going on. After checking the hardware on the MS board, and replacing a blown optoisolator, and through a few of his “how the hell did this ever run at all like this?!” moments, I was confident that we’d plug the MS unit in, load up a basic fuel and spark map, and it would fire on the first try.

Well, that sure as hell wouldn’t adhere to the theme of this project. It did eventually start, but only as well as it did before… Well, I guess that’s acceptable. Swapped VR sensors and tested both with a multimeter; nope, those are both reading the exact same at cranking speed. Changed the EDIS4 module… Same deal, not working. Even went to NAPA and got a new coil, ran it for about 5 seconds and determined that it wasn’t to blame either, and managed to return it. All the while, the test plug is throwing a big nasty spark on all 4 cylinders. So this, combined with the fact that it was previously backfiring through the intake manifold, and blowing fireballs out the exhaust, should have immediately told me – it’s the timing, dummy.

So off I go to check the manual on how to install EDIS. Well, shit. Initially I had thought I put the trigger wheel on the crankshaft pulley on backwards, so I put it on 180° from where it was before. HOLY SHIT. THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. It’s acting exactly like it has a distributor with the cap on backwards. I went to press the 36-1 wheel off the pulley in a 20 ton press (JB Weld you are no match for that beast) so I could align the missing tooth properly. According to the manual, on an engine where, facing the crankshaft pulley from the front, it spins clockwise, the missing tooth is supposed to be 90° clockwise of the VR sensor. Well, I had it 90° counterclockwise of the sensor. Yes, that HAS to be the problem. I grabbed a hot-glue gun to temporarily hold the trigger wheel on, triple-checked the positioning of the 36-1 wheel, and went to go fire it up fully expecting it to run perfectly.

Nothing. Not even a cough. WORSE than with the trigger wheel on backwards!

So yeah. That’s where I’m at now. The next time I’ll be spending any reasonable amount of time with the car is at the end of March. My plan of attack is… I guess just keep fucking with the timing until it runs? Maybe try to find another Pertronix unit to replace the one in my distributor? I left pretty frustrated, in about the same mood as when I left after summer break.

But right now I really don’t care which is part of the reason I didn’t update this thread.

Battery relocation

December 14th, 2009 by admin

The rears fit a little bit better, although they’re still quiteflush. The tires on the wheels are 195/50VR15s (yeah they’re old enough to have the V speed rating in the size) so I’m not sure if even 185s could help me.

Anyway today I started work on battery relocation.

The plan is to run the battery power straight to the starter, and then the accessories and alternator off the lug on the starter.

Battery box and finished terminal, I still need to make the ground cable. I won’t be able to use the rear shock tower brace while this box is in, but some day I plan on going to small Deka battery and replacing the large conventional one.

Battery cable on rear floorboard and under rear seat. Don’t worry about the ghetto looking fuel return line in the background, that’s not its final state.

After switching sides under the driver’s seat, the battery cable runs along the inner rocker panel, up the kick panel and through a hole drilled right above the speedometer cable hole.

I’m now a shameless wheel whore

December 13th, 2009 by admin

Oh goddamn these rims are SICK

check my 3-piece racing wheels y’all

yeah I’m gonna be hellafl

…ush. I think that’s actually more than hellaflush.

Nik and I picked these up at the junkyard the other day off an E21 (which had some other totally awesome 80s ultra euro parts on it). They’re 15×7 Epsilon/Southern Way 3-piece mesh wheels that are of some ridiculous offset that I don’t know what I’m going to do, I really want to keep them 🙁

A crappy li’l MS update

November 28th, 2009 by admin

No pictures to update with but, Nik and I got the car to run (and drive) today! We began to suspect if there was any ignition happening, and after putting the distributor back in and running the B&G original code on the MS, it fired right up. It even drives practically perfectly. The silly PWM idle unit was ditched, and instead the stop on the throttle was moved so that it’s adjusted like a carbureted/CIS car now.

More updates in ~2 weeks when I’m back for Winter break, and not on a 3-day Thanksgiving vacation!

EDIS coilpack, LC-1 O2 sensor installation

September 9th, 2009 by admin

Coilpack mounted on the firewall just about where the distributor was so the cables I have will still be the right lengths. Also I made some standoffs for the coilpack to sit on, so it sits about 1/8″ off the firewall.

The gasket under the fusebox was all rotten and cracked so I bought a little sheet of rubber and made my own replacement. 🙂


This is where the O2 sensor and LC-1 end up sitting. It’s almost like I know what I’m doing! That little nylon clip inside the tunnel holding the wire up will be replaced with an aluminum one.

Working in the trunk!

Wiring and fuel line routing

September 5th, 2009 by admin

Routing the fuel line turned out to be a little bit more difficult than I thought it would be and I was stuck trying to decide which way I wanted it to go.

Pulling the fuel tank. The in-tank pump made it really easy to drain it :V

Where I’d originally planned to put the fuel line. On the trunk side, it’s too high and exposed, and on the cabin side it’s also too high and interferes with the back seat.

The little dot in the bottom-middle is where the line will go through the firewall

I decided to have the line pass through this step (the big red thing) which is actually a big square channel beam that the differential hangs off from. That’s also why I had to remove the gas tank, or else the drill wouldn’t be able to go through it squarely

1/8″ bit going through the square channel to illustrate about where it is. The fuel line will pass through it, and then re enter the cabin under the rear seat. It should only be exposed to outside for about 1 foot, and runs just above the passenger side inner CV axle

Also the friendly UPS man delivered my LC-1 wideband controller 🙂

EDIS 36-1 trigger wheel mounting

September 4th, 2009 by admin

Pulley is done after I put the missing tooth 90° ATDC instead of BTDC. Whoops!

The sharpie mark on the pulley is where the VR sensor sits, the keyway points toward the head at #1 TDC and the missing tooth is finally in the right spot.

The spacer ring thing was a bunch of JB Weld inside a tape “dam” around the circumference of the pulley, then turned down in the lathe to center the EDIS wheel. The wheel was then JB Welded in a few spots to secure it.

More later!

Still installing the megasquirt and its ancillaries

September 4th, 2009 by admin

Nik and I have spent the last 3 days working on my car and there’s still at least one more day of work to do on it.

DB37 main harness going through a hole cut in the firewall. Its position is ideal because it’s not too close to the exhaust, and it’s close enough to the centerline that no wires will have to make any stupid bends. I had to move my brake lines but that shouldn’t be a problem.

All of the wiring in the engine bay was removed because it was all fucked up and horrible

DB37 connector inside the car, the MS unit will live in the glovebox.

Nik determining lengths for leads within the main harness

Me making the plate that the relays, fuse block and EDIS4 unit will reside on. It’s made out of an old street sign. Thanks, city of San Francisco

EDIS4 and fuse block with appropriate hardware

Panel on the firewall starting to be built

My roof became a storage area

While Nik was doing the hard stuff, I was going through the harness that went along the firewall and trying to figure out what each wire did. At some point the harness must have melted because for every wire there was a 12″ long extension, terminated at each end with spade connectors, and all wrapped in electrical tape. This doesn’t sound too bad until you learn that all of the extensions were cloth wire, good to about 400°F – that is, if it doesn’t get soaked in oil and/or gasoline like these undoubtedly had. One lead going to the coil had all of its insulation completely gone with bare wire exposed. FUN!

A while later…


Late (’88-on) e30 325i fuel pump that drops into the stock tank. The E30 318is pumps are good too because they have the return fitting built into the pump in case your stock tank doesn’t have a return on it.

Messy, but the panel under the dash grows. Done for the night.

Tomorrow, routing the 5/16″ fuel feed and 3/8″ return lines.