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Since I have my (soon to be) fast car, and my valuable fast car, I needed a daily driver car. Well, also since my Honda's body is falling apart big time from a life on the beach. Actually, I was looking at buying this car before I got the CSX. The only problem was that we were having a problem getting the title for it. Then I stumbled upon the CSX and that's a different story. Anyway, after I got the CSX, I pushed the Spirit to the back burner. I was constantly reminded of it, however. See, there is a white Spirit ES that lives near me, and since I drive about 400 miles a week, I see it a LOT. Everytime I would see it, I would think "damn, that's a sweet looking car for a 4-door." After I saved some money back up, I went back to my friend with the ES and sure enough it was still there with no title! I told him I was still interested in it because of how every day I see the white one, and then every day I find a new spot on my Honda that's deteriorating. My friend finally got a missing title for it and the next day I drove it home! It has a MAJOR power steering leak which needs fixing, and then it's ready to roll! It needs some small things here and there to make it really nice, which will slowly be done in time. And I'm sure that I won't be able to keep the hood shut for too long! ::looking at the G-valve on my dresser:: I'll also be updating this with any mods I do to it. Hmm... now where's that Ford Super Duty intercooler.....

June 2000

At this update, I must tell you that this car is very much becoming a royal pain in the ass. It all started with the power steering leak. I found the leak to be the rack itself, and after an hour or so of arguing with it, pulling the steering column, and trying to drop the frame, I got it out. After learning that about 4 different racks were used in those cars, I brought it to a local shop to get rebuilt so I knew I'd have the right one, right? Wrong! That's too simple! I picked the rack up from being rebuilt and go to put it in. I get it in the car, but notice how none of the holes line up. I call the shop back, and he insisted that he rebuilt mine where needed. After 5 min of arguing with him, he admitted that it wasn't my rack at all. He just grabbed one off the shelf and it was the wrong one. He said to bring it back and he'd have my real one ready. I pull this one out of the car, get my "origional" one, and put it in. This time at least it bolts up! I go to put the lines on, but they wont start. After close examination, I find that the first round of threads on the case are stripped. I pulled the rack out again (at least it gets easier each time) and call him back. After some arguing he tells me that this one also wasnt my rack. He said mine was trashed and couldnt be built. This was another one off the shelf. ARGH!! The whole reason I had it rebuilt was so I could have the right one, now I just got a random one off the shelf?! What are the odds it would be right? At this time I'm really sick of this shop, so I throw the rack in the corner. Luckily, the next week we were heading up to MN to see Tom McCoy again and to get some things off his Spirit R/T. While there, I grabbed the rack to put in mine because his didnt look like it was leaking. When we got back to Florida, I put in the R/T rack and what do ya know! It fits and the hoses thread right on! I know one shop that will NEVER get my business again! After putting the steering column back in the car, I start it up only to find that there's still no power steering! This time the pump is dead from being driven dry. I bought a new pump and put it on. Power steering again! It doesnt feel completely smooth from stop to stop, but I was sick of it for now, so I shut the hood.

July 2000

This car never ran right from the start, but I didn't know the cause. The first thing I did was to dump a bottle of Carb/injector cleaner into the tank because the gas in it is about a year old. It helped somewhat, but still ran rough and wouldn't idle right. I checked codes and found one for the MAP, so I took a spare MAP and put it on. We're getting a little bit better now, but it still isn't right. As I was checking all the vacuum lines, I was disgusted at how tacky everything was rigged together. I grabbed onto the lines and ripped them all out, then headed to the parts store for new vacuum hose. About 15 min later, I had everything cut and hooked up very nice! (Was that so hard?? Noooooo!) I started the car up again, and it's definatly getting better now! I took it for a test drive with a temporary boost gauge. It boosts, but when I got to the end of the road, I saw a lot of white smoke coming from under the hood. I pop it and see the PCV valve came out. I stuck it back in and headed home, boosting again. I get home to see more smoke and the PCV out again! At first I thought that the rubber fitting that it goes into must be hardened and not fitting tight, but eventually I decide that too much blow by is causing it. I get out the compression gauge. 140, 135, 136, 50. DOH! I call up the guy I bought it from to yell at him about all the problems this car has, including the dead cylinder. He said it worked fine when he parked it before I got it. I guess it's just my luck, right? So I put some oil in the cylinder and do another check only to find that the problem is the rings. I try many different ways to unstick the rings with no luck. I also didnt want to rebuild the engine, and I have too high of morals to re-ring just one cylinder on an engine with 173K miles. Just then my dad tells me one of his friends has an 89 Intercooled Lebaron he's throwing away. We go to check it out. Guess which car is getting an engine swap!! This parts car turned out to be an 89 Lebaron GTC T2 with only 54k miles on it. The guy bought it because he needed some body parts to fix a crashed one, and the rest was junk as far as he was concerned. Click here and here to see the find. I examined the car to find it had the 16" lace wheels, 11" front disks, vented rear disks, 555 tranny, infinity stereo, overhead console, and other goodies. $300 later it was on the way to my house. I got to work pulling the engine after checking it's condition. Viola! The old Grocery Getter is getting a True T2! I guess in a way, it was good that the old engine had a stuck ring. Now I get to put in this! My ES will also get the GTC's brakes all around.

August 2000

The T2 gets some basic maintenance parts before it goes in, such as front and rear main seals, oil pan gasket, brass freeze plugs, MP head gasket, new head bolts, and valve cover gasket. These parts all needed replacing, or will need soon, so I figure it's MUCH easier to do outside of the car. The ES spotted the new motor and is getting anxious for the transplant!

After trying many many different ways to unstick the #1 rings in the T1, I'm going to have to pull the head and re-ring it. Even though I have the T2 ready to drop in, I would like to make the T1 run, so then if I end up selling it or whatver, I can say that it runs, not that it is in need of work. After it runs, I'll drive it for a little bit and then swap the drivetrain.

After seeing a few Ford Taurus SHO's around, and noticing that it and the Spirit's are sorta similar (the SHO's have an R/T type spoiler which I will have, they are both 4-door sedans, one SHO I saw had wheels similar to pumpers, and both are "factory hot rods") I have dubbed this Spirit ES the "SHO Stopper", or "Spirit SS" for short. It makes sence.. It will definatly have enough power to stop any car in it's class, including the SHO's. And also, since it will have MANY parts from MANY other cars on it, it really won't be a true "ES", so I gave it my own package name.

Today I began swapping the rear brakes. Drum brakes are useless. I don't even know if they're worth the weight they add to the car. Check out these nasty hunks of weight. I can't wait to throw them away and put on some vented disks that I got from a 90 Daytona ES V6. (Only the best for my rides!) Even if I were to keep the drums, they would have needed a complete cleaning and rebuilt, along with the drums turned. They were BAD! The left rear shock also had no dampning at all left to it. They will also hit the trash, and some nice KYB's will replace them. I will also take this opportunity to "drop in" the set of R/T springs I got from Tom McCoy. (BTW, here is some pictures of the R/T he let me gut) They should give it a stiffer ride in the corners. As you know, a section of the brake line needs to be switched when swapping from drum to disk. I have this new line, but the old lines were so corroded, one side wouldnt even break loose! I'll be picking up some nice Florida (read: No Salt) brake lines at the junkyard and redo the whole thing for piece-of-mind. The rubber section of the fuel lines also HAVE to go. They were very scary looking themselves! I'll put in a new filter while I'm there. Once the back is together, I will be pretty much tossing the entire OE front setup too. New KYB's mounted on R/T springs and some nice big 11" rotors (with matching spindles and calipers that I also got from the Daytona). They'll fit nicely behind the 16" pumpers. And YES, I like to spoil my cars!!! I got all 6 pumpers (4 on the car, and a spare for each direction) media blasted and they are getting painted argent (silver). They'll look nice on a silver car. That should take care of all the "rolling" parts swaps I'm doing.

Well, I got the top end off the engine today and pulled piston #1. A quick examination showed it had both rings really stuck, along with the oil one. A closer look found a broke piston! ACK! The piece of the ringland was broke and wedged in a little crooked, therefore jamming all the rings. I once again called the guy I bought it from to let him know that more and more of this car is becoming great fertilizer material! He again stated that it ran perfectly when he parked it a month before I got it and it lit the tires up all the way down the road. I guess it broke when it was parked?!? (Mmm Hmm) Anyway, the idea of keeping the T1 in the car for a short time is qickly dissolving (like the piston), because now I would have to replace the piston, all four cylinders need rings, the axles are bad, the starter only works a third of the time, and a few miscl bolts are missing. Next plan: Drop in the T2! Dad gave me the Ok to do it (he's my practicallity advisor) so the next day I began pulling the half disassembled engine/tranny. A little (a LOT) of degreaser, the removal of some unneeded things, and a little cleaning and the T2 will have found it's new home a little earlier! I'll use the stock tranny with low boost settings until I can get my turbo mini one beefed up.

September 2000

I'm really getting itchy for this car to be on the road. I've spent the past few nites working on it in the driveway until LATE at nite (early morning) getting things done. All brake lines front to rear have been replaced with "southern" ones, and I put in a 4-wheel disk brake proportioning valve. I gathered all the rear vented disk setup that I took from a 90 Daytona ES and began installing it. I didn't get very far before I realized there were a few differences in the mounts on the axle for drum and disk brakes. Nothing major, but still needing to be modified. As I sat and thought about it all some more.. looked at the rusty stock axle (with the hollow bar).. and thought of a future solid axle upgrade, I then put all the rear Daytona brakes away again. Why? Well, the next day I went out to the GTC and saw that it had a solid axle and vented rears already. I just went and took the entire axle/brake assembly out as one chunk. MUCH easier! It made the GTC pretty immoble, but that's not a huge problem. That nite when I got home from work I finished removing the stock Spirit rear axle and put in the solid/vented piece. SWEET! Instant HUGE bolt on improvement! I also measured the front sway bars and found the GTC to have a much larger one (figured it would), so that's going on the SS too.

It's getting so I can't even sleep at nite anymore because I want this car driving so bad! Today was the day.. It would become a T2! And sure enough, by nightfall I had the T2 with tranny installed. Not running yet, but a big step in the right direction. I can't wait to see how this thing accelerates, brakes, and corners. I do wish I could have drove it stock, so I would know how much these changes did.. but oh well. It'll be fun finding the limits of all the components at once!! =)

I did a lot of the minor things to the car, such as putting all new rubber fuel lines on the car, along with a new filter. Be sure you use the HIGH PRESSURE fuel line!! It is expensive as hell, but it's worth the insurance when you're at 100psi fuel pressure! I also found a very new tranny cooler at the junk yard one day.. it measured about 2" x 5", and the fluid just passes back and forth once thru the fins. As I was digging in the garage one day, I found an old tranny cooler from my dad's Chevrolet P-30 Step Van. Needless to say, I picked it up and set down my wimpy one. This baby is 6" x 8" and the fluid makes 4 passes back and forth. The bigger the cooler the better! I did have to shim the bottom of the hood latch support out so the cooler would fit! I also removed that plastic "trim" panel that went in by the radiator along the top of the bumper cover.

Today I put in the front suspension "chunks". I call them "chunks" because everything from the upper strut mount to the lower ball joint can be removed in one big chunk. The "chunks" are composed of Spirit R/T (HD) springs, KYB GR2 struts, and 11" brake spindles from the 89 GTC. I also grabbed the front sway bar off the GTC, as it was a measured 33mm compared to the stock 27.65mm bar. (The bigger front bar was also needed to balance the car after I put in the solid rear bar) Laying the two bars next to each other, the GTC bar was about 1" shorter and the stock bar had two upward bends in the center straight section where the bushings ride. The GTC bar was straight. However, in placing the GTC bar in position, it fit perfectly! All the bushings lined up where they should. All the 1" shorter bar did was stuck out from the control arm bushings a little less on the ends.. no big deal at all!

The car only needs a few more minor things now! I put the Gas A Justs on the back, and the few clips and clamps here and there that it needed. Also, last time I was at the junk yard I got one of those black plastic air dams that go under the radiator. I got it off of some kind of GM, it seems they all have one. With a little cutting and drilling, I mounted it under the core of my car with an angle to the front so it actually "scoops" the air and pushes it up to the Rad/IC/Tranny Cooler/Air Evaporator. These cars don't have much air intake in the front, so it will really help! I'm STILL waiting for the guy to paint my pumpers, then I can bring it to the alignment shop and the exhaust shop. Oh well, that's how it goes..

Since I'm being delayed with the wheels, I decided to go ahead and pull the interior. I was always planning on swapping it all out, I just wanted to get the car running first.. but oh well. I pulled the seats and the carpet (they were all trashed, stained, burned, and smelly). I put in the new rugs from the R/T and the comfy front R/T buckets. The back seat is the same between the two, so I just picked the cleaner of the two. I also am getting the headliner redone because every car in Florida either needs it, or will need it shortly. I need it now. I think I also may try and find a new sunroof with the same dimensions, as the sunroof in the car has dried and shrunken rubber parts, a missing hinge, and the crappy "mesh" surface across the glass which always makes tint bubble. There's no easier time to replace the sunroof than now! (I wish I had a hard top)

October 2000

The wheels came back and they look SHARP! I'm going to not post pictures of them on here until the car is rollin, because there's something special about them and I want to be the first with them. You'll see!

I've spent the last day or so fitting the CSX Rad/IC into the car. It took longer to decide which part I was going to modify to make it fit than it did to actually make the mod. I ended up drilling new holes at the bottom of core support where the radiator sits on, and I made little pieces of aluminum to make up the difference between the top holes on the car and the radiator. It also took a little time to find radiator hoses that fit. The upper from the Lebaron GTC was about 2" too short. I went to an auto parts store and looked thru their stock and found one that would work. I got home and put the hose on and realized it wasnt going to work. The engine side of the hose is smaller and this new hose was the same size throughout. It was too big of a difference to just crank the hose clamp down. Just then, I looked at the stock Spirit radiator laying on the ground and saw that the top hose was still on it. I held the GTC one up to it and it was different. I put the stock Spirit hose on the car and it fit perfectly! Then I went to put the bottom hose on.. it was too long because of the shorter radiator. LUCKILY I keep all parts (even ones known to be junk) laying around until the project I'm working on is done. I found the lower hose from the GTC and it fit perfectly also. Talk about a hybrid car!

I found another problem when I got all the intercooler hoses mounted up though. The cruise control servo which is mounted under the battery box was tight against the lower IC hose and pinching it off somewhat. I unbolted the servo and tried to figure out where I could relocate it. After 10 min of looking, I turned around and saw the GTC cruise control servo laying there (in my pile of junk parts!). I picked it up and saw how the mounting bracket was all different. I didnt take this one off of the car, so I wasnt sure how it mounted. Eventually I got it and thought "cool, chrysler relocated it for me!" Now the engine is complete! Slowly, all the little bugs that go with making a custom car were being worked out... which means, the car is almost road ready!!

On Thursday, October 5, 2000 at 12:43 AM, the Spirit came alive!!! After about 5 months of heatache and frustration, not to mention hours upon hours of work, and about 3,000 miles on the road gathering parts =), I finally got to turn the key and hear it run! It still needs some minor finishings like a wheel alignment, exhaust, and checking for bugs, but that's nothing. I had a big delay in starting it, it turned out there's some sort of problem with the reverse/park safety switch on the tranny. The car thinks it's always in reverse and wont start!! The switch is temporarily "fixed" with a vice-grip. NOTE: Garretts sound AWESOME with no exhaust and no IC hoses!! (I had the IC hoses off to set the timing) SECOND NOTE: Neighbors dont like the sound of cars with no exhaust at 1am! LOL Oh well, they'll live. I've waited long enough for this! =)

Well, no more than 3 days after the car was completed and running, it's back up in the air with the engine and tranny pulled. Here's the story: The night I had it running, it looked like it was smoking a little, but I thought it was just like how a car looks like it's smoking on a cool morning. Well, when I started it the next day, I saw that the smoke was in fact smoke. Hmm.. Maybe it's just some oil that got somewhere and it burning off? After letting it idle for a minute or two, there was still LOTS of smoke. Hmm.. Maybe if I drive it a few miles, it will clean out? So I let the car down on the ground, started it up, put it in reverse and gave it a little gas. Car didnt move. I put it in drive and gave it a little gas. Car didnt move. I guess the tranny is F'd? Hmm.. Back to the smoking problem. Maybe this motor has too many miles on it (only 54K) for Mobile 1 and it's slip-sliding thru tiny cracks somewhere? I drained the M1 and put in nice thick 20w 50 dino oil. Still smoke. Hmm.. I crawled under the car and looked up at the turbo. DOH!! There was oil running down the OUTSIDE of the downpipe, along with oil seaping thru the seam on the turbo between the exhaust turbine housing and the wastegate housing. Well, of all the things I thought of that could be causing the smoke, and of all the things that I DIDNT want to be causing it, the worst was the winner. The Turbo. =( This all happened on the day after the car got started. I was so bummed about this all that I didnt even want to look at the car for a few days. But, it HAD to be fixed, so I pulled it all apart one day.

The car is still up in the air. I sent the turbo up to my man Nick Alessi in NY to rebuild it, and David Grove is building me a bulletproof tranny. When they both arrive and are installed, I'll have full reports! Maybe I can drive the car 2 inches before it breaks again this time!!

November 2000

Well, it's now the very end of November, the 28th to be exact, and I got my turbo back from Nick. Dave Grove says that it will still be a few more days before my tranny is done, but it's all looking like it will be coming together in the near future! I still sit and wait though.

December 2000

December 11th and my tranny from Dave Grove showed up. FINALLY it's time for the reassembly. December 13th and the re-reassembly begins. The turbo is bolted to the Peterbuilt exhaust manifold, the EGT probe is in, and the new O2 is installed. This is one heavy iron assembly that will DEFINATLY make up for it's weight in power! I changed the manifold gasket and mounted the exhaust assembly. I also hooked the water and oil lines back up. Next I got the tranny hung on the engine. Tomorrow hopefully it will all go in the engine bay!

The engine and transmission are in and just about everything is hooked up, but I didnt get to touch the car all last week between getting ready for christmas and working two jobs that week. All it really needs is fluids. It should be coming to life soon! After seeing a Ford Contour SVT on the road, and reading up on it's stats, I thought I should rename the Spirit to maybe.... SVT Stopper?!? =P

December 30, 2000 at 2:55pm the Spirit again lives again! I started it up and no smoke! Then I put it on the ground and put it in gear and it rolled ahead! Too cool! I took it for a very short and slow test drive down my road "just cuz" and it seemed to be working fine in every way. It needs a few other things like wheel alignment, exhaust, a few clips and clamps, and the hood put back on. I would have it all done by the end of this long New Years weekend, but it's only a high of like 45 degrees! This Florida boy can't function in that temperature! Hopefully we'll get a heat wave soon..


January 2001

The Spirit is alive in Florida! LOL. The engine is complete now, and runs. The thing is a dog though and I don't know what's wrong. Maybe the cam timing is off? Maybe it's because it is set at minimum boost (4psi). Maybe because it has a high stall converter. I am not sure yet, but I am not going to test things out and drive the car too much until it at least gets an alignment.

We brought it to the alignment shop and I gave them the specs that I wanted the car set to. These specs should make the car corner like it's on a rail. I gave him the numbers for the front. He told me he was going to check the rear alignment also since I had the axle off the car. I told him that if he found the back to be out of wack, to call me so I could give him some non-stock specs to set the rear to (since he's in there anyway). Lucky me, one rear wheel was off a slight bit so he had to go in and he set the rear to what I wanted too! This car should stick to the road now!

The next day we picked the Spirit up from the alignment shop and went to my friend Dave Ogle's shop to get some exhaust put on it. I couldn't try out the alignment on the way over because it wasn't yet insured or registered. I left the car at the exhaust shop for a few days so he could measure up the car and order the pipes needed for the 3" mandrel system I requested. He had the measurements by the weekend so I took the car home to find out why it was so sluggish.

I think the cam timing may be off because it's acting like my dad's 87 did when it was off a tooth.. the turbo spools quickly with little throttle pressure, builds boost, yet has NO power. However, first I put a 0.020" restrictor on the wastegate to up the boost to around 15psi. Test drive showed it to still be a dog. I then took off the upper timing belt cover and saw that it looked like the cam was off a tooth. I bumped it up a tooth and put the car back together with the timing set at 12*. Right away I could tell that the car revved a LOT quicker. Test drive showed that the cam timing was the problem! With a temporary boost gauge from a Daytona and a long vacuum hose on it, I showed to be at about 13psi. This car is not as neck-snapping quick as my CSX at 15psi, but the Spirit is a lot bigger/heavier and also has that high stall convertor. I also am not done playing with the Spirit yet! =) I'll bring it back to the exhaust shop next week and get the 3" mandrel put on it with a totally custom made muffler and no cat. Then I can start tweaking and tuning the beast!

June 2001

The Spirit has been running fine for the past few months and I've had lots of fun driving it on a daily basis and also "playing" with it on the streets. I'm running 15-16 psi with it now at 15* initial timing. This car is just crazy how it throw your head back when the turbo spools! I've impressed everyone who has rode in it! I got my new Spearco that will be mounted up front sometime in the future. I sold the other one because it would have been a total pain to plumb, and it had more of a pressure drop than I wanted. Nic hooked me up with this new one. Thanks! For a while now, I was considering getting Koni's and Eibach's for the car because they are supposidly night and day difference compaired to my KYB's and R/T springs. A call to Cindy at FWD Performance left me sad as she told me she just sold the last two sets of Eibach's for Spirit/Shadows a few days earlier! She did tell me that Eibach was making a special run of these springs just for her so I told her to put me on the waiting list. Just then, an opportunity came to me that I just couldn't pass up. Another Spirit owner was looking for a set of struts/shocks for his Spirit that would give it a good performance feel but for not the price of Koni's. He was very interested in buying my KYBs and his offer was very good. I had to sell them to him thinking that it may be a while until I found someone who wanted them and would pay this much. So one day I jacked the car back up and pulled the struts and shocks and packed them in a box. Yep, I sold the shocks right off my car with no solid idea as to when I would get new ones. Oh well, this car up in the air is nothing new! So now I wait... and wait... and wait... while looking at my Spirit up in the air with no wheels on. Every time I call Cindy to check on the ETA for the Eibach's, the date is pushed ahead another week or two.

Late July/Early August 2001

MY KONI'S AND EIBACHS ARE HERE FINALLY!!!! It's very late July and they showed up! I also got KYB upper and lower spring mounts, and new strut mounts/bearings from the dealership. This is all happening right after I bought a 91 Spirit R/T and the mounting of the springs is delayed a little bit as I decide which car I will be keeping and which will get the new suspension components. The ES gets the Eibachs/Konis and heads to the alignment shop. MAN are these springs/shocks more firm than the old setup!! And they are set full soft! I found out a good way to break myself into them though.. set them all on full firm and drive for 3 days, then soften them up and you'll feel like you're on feathers! Hahaha! But boy does this car corner now! Yet again, my passengers are completely impressed with this sedan! I LOVE how the car looks even lowered the 1" that eibach gives. However in my situation, I think it got lowered more as the KYBs seemed to LIFT the car somewhat from the stock heigth.

September 2001

Well, I finally found out why my car smokes at hot restarts. And it's not the valve guide seals like I had thought. I researched it more as it's smoking MUCH more often now and is becoming a real annoyance. Yep, my good old turbo! The freshly rebuilt one with all of 2000 miles on it TOPS has blown the oil seal. Ok, maybe it isnt technically blown, but I found out (too late) that even turbo need a "break in" period and just like with engines... synthetic oil is definatly not in the break in equation!! Does everyone hear me?? DON'T USE SYNTHETIC OIL WITH A FRESH TURBO! You will suffer like me.. :( Since the builder of the turbo didnt tell me this, I used M1 off the bat and my oil seal never seated. It's only getting worse now and switching back to Dyno oil probably won't help. I guess I'm getting a chance to upgrade the turbo MUCH sooner than I thought. Thats the way it goes with this car it seems. After some research, I've decided on a S60 compressor wheel with a mild clip, and a Stage 2 turbine. All stock housings. Should help it out a bit!

October 2001

Just as I was about to pull the top end off my car to get the turbo upgraded, I wonderful deal was offered to me. It actually came about as almost an accident! Ok, there's a good friend of mine locally who has been building a GLH-Turbo for a little longer than I have been building this Spirit. He's had just as many problems as I have, if not more, in getting his car to run for more than a day. After his second bottom end, and countless swapping of parts and electricals, he once again had severe blowby. He pretty much was throwing in the towel on it. I was talking to him on the phone one day about which parts I may want off of it when he said he had an offer to trade it complete for a white Spirit R/T that another man had. The R/T was a little distance away, and he wasnt sure of it's condition/history but he was almost ready to go though with the deal. At this time, I had just bought my white R/T and honestly I didnt know what I was going to do with it. I had no garage to keep it in. I really didnt need another car to maintain. I couldnt afford the insurance and tag on it especially with my CSX nearing completion. Dont get me wrong, I LOVE the car, but really didnt *need* it. I had about $4000 in the car between everything. I asked my friend how much he was valuing the trade at and he said he wanted to get $4000 for his GLH. So kind of as a joke I said "well hell, if you want to trade your GLH for a white R/T in very good shape worth $4000, I have one in my front yard!" We both stopped for a second. He goes "Really?" I stop and think.. then reply "umm.. yeah.. really". We make the trade and now I have a GLH with a blown bottom end, a KICK ASS top end, and lots of little go fast goodies! Just the week before I made the deal, I was at the drag strip talking to more of my turbo Dodge friends. I mentioned the GLH maybe being for sale and my friend showed extreme interest in it. Well, now that the GLH was "mine", I contacted these people again and asked if they wanted to buy a rolling body.. they definatly wanted it. We worked out who would get what parts, and the rest is being sold. Basically what I got out of the deal was a complete badass top end and lots of little goodies on the side. I guess I wont be rebuilding my turbo right now.. I have a new hybrid! Since it will be a while until the top end will be ready to go on the car, I decided now would be a great time to install, mount, and plumb the Spearco. Then when the top end goes on, that much will be ready! One day I park the car and start pulling the radiator, airbox and hoses, and condensor. After a few weeks or so (go figure, more down time!) hunting down parts, clamps, hoses, and pipes, we get the thing mounted. Oh man, this intercooler is soooo sweet! It fits perfect behind the bumper and can barely be seen! I made all the intercooler piping out of 2.5" exhaust pipe and mandrel bends. It took me a little while to figure out how to run the pipes, but it turned out perfect! There were two things I wanted to keep in mind during the fitting process. 1) To be able to check the ignition timing without removing any pipes. Anyone who has set the timing on a factory intercooled car knows what a pain this it! 2) Be able to check the tranny fluid with the dipstick also without removing any pipes. Both of these were included in the end product and it looks beautiful! Also part of the intercooler install was the mounting of a Turbo XS Type H BOV and a large flapper-type check valve used as an anti-lag valve. This thing works!! Between the valve, intercooler, and new pipes.. the car free revs MUCH quicker and get this.. I can build 11psi boost in park!!!! This car's gonna be CRAZY!!

November 2001

This car is really getting on my nerves now. After spending a few days getting all the little things set up on the car from the intercooler install, I finally can test drive it. The first time I head out on the road, I hear this aweful howling moaning type noise which I'm pretty sure is coming from the turbo. I always heard a noise like this, and under the same conditions, except it was much quieter. I was told by the turbo builder that it was nothing to worry about. Another strike, eh? Well, now that I have a big K&N on the turbo inlet with no pipes and airbox, I guess the noise is WAY louder. It's bareable to drive I guess (barely), but it's rather embarassing. I go ahead and make a half dozen blasts down the road resetting my boost control and whatnot. I get home and pop the hood on the car to find the engine completely covered with oil! ARGH!!! I look and look to find the source and eventually find that the dipstick was pushed out 1/2 inch. Hmm. I guess the slight blowby that I had before was now much more of a problem! Compression check gives me 130ish across the board. Adding oil to each cylinder gives me 180ish across the board. ARGH!!! After much thinking, I have decided to go 2.5L. I still have the origional 2.5 with the cracked piston afterall. Plans are made to bore it 20 over and rebuild the 2.5 bottom end and mate it to the kickass top end and drop in the whole chunk. So my distant future plans of possibly moving to 2.5 and boring the block are pushed ahead. In the meantime, between the leaky oil seal causing the exhaust to smoke and my brand new intercooler to slowly fill with oil, and that annoying moan that the turbo makes, i decided to park the car AGAIN until I get the 2.5L done. Does any one else see a pattern with this car?!?! Just like last year when i get the engine in and got to idle it for 10 min only to pull the engine again... I got to take the new intercooler for 1 drive only to park it again. I swear, this car just cant run for more than 3 weeks without it being down for months!!

December 2001

Just about at the 1 year anniversary from when I got the car (running... the first time), I begin the engine rebuild. The 2.5 commonblock that origionally came in the car was stripped down and sent to the machine shop to get bored 20 over and the mains line honed. Something I was not aware of was that when switching from main bolts to main studs, you must get it line honed. Keep that in mind. A few other important notes I should share is that if you use ARP main STUDS on a common block application, the center 3 mains will end up being too short. There are a few different solutions out there on how to "fix" this problem, but the one that made the most sense to me was to just back out the studs enough for the nuts to grab. Gary Donovan is going to contact ARP and see if they can make common block ones. Another problem that ARP gave us was their head BOLTS are about 1/4" too LONG. The bolts will literally bottom out in the block and you'll have a very leaky and rattly head. Solution: Cut, chamfer, and rethread the bolts. Gary D is also looking into ARP correcting this. Back to my engine! The block is back and I have assembled the rotating assembly into it. Everything on this engine i mic'ing out to be PERFECT! I'm taking my time on it and asking everyone for input on it as it's technically the first engine i've assembled. I have no doubt that it will kick ass when done! I have everything needed to complete this engine except for the head. It's still being finished up and the holiday crunch has put it behind schedule. It'll probably be another 2-4 weeks at least before I get it, so until then I'll do little electrical and mechanical things to the car that I've been putting off for a while. I need to talk to a friend of mine who owns a body shop and maybe during the wait.. I'll get a quick "scuff & spray" on the car! The paint is really kinda crappy if you look at it close (within 20 feet.. lol) so i wouldnt mind new paint at all. No show quality paint needed either as the underside of this car is rusting up nicely. Damn Ohio! If I can get a nice looking paint job that will last for 2-3 years, I'll be happy. I'll need a new body by then anyway. One neat thing that I did to the block while it was apart was I drilled and tapped a 1" NPT hole into the bottom where the fuel pump block off plate would be on a pre-89 block. I found a perfect fitting to tap into the block for my equalization tube. Now, I know you're all asking "what the hell is an equalization tube??" I shall tell you! What it will do is vent the crankcase from blowby and will also help equalize the pressures between the top end and bottom end & allow any vapors or gasses to flow whichever way they want to go without them having to use the oil passages to move and keeping oil from being there. I'll have another port on the valve cover and a hose will connect that to the lower port in the block. It supposidly works great! I'll note problems if any.


January 2002

The shortblock seems to be coming together just fine so far. The rotating assembly is in and everything spec'd out well within factory allowances. Looks like the stuff on the inside is turning out good! Now for the outside.. For all my life I never had an engine that I was aesthetically proud of. Either there are oil leaks, faded paint, rusty parts, etc. This one will be different! Since I am in no hurry to get this engine in, I am spending extra time detailing all the parts of it and it's looking like I may actually be able to open my hood in front of friends this time! I decided to paint the block with VHT hi-temp "cast iron" manifold coating. I fell in love with this color when I was painting the brake components on my CSX. I still cant get over how beautiful this color is. I hope it lasts! In the pic you can see I also painted the main seal retainers and intermediate shaft retainer with VHT hi-temp "flat aluminum". I also bead blasted all of the brackets and shot them with a new coat of VHT hi-temp "matches GM satin black" engine enamel. The short block is about 95% complete and ready to install. Note: In the picture, I just layed on a spare head because I needed a measurement of the valve cover to position the upper equalization port.. so ignore everything over the deck, as it's still ugly! :) I have located a common block 2.2 T2 oil pan which will go on this engine to help stop the oil in the pan from sloshing around so much with the absence of the balance shafts. I also am waiting to install the oil pump until right before I start the engine so I can prime it and not worry about the oil draining back out. I will probably install the pump in-car since it is so easy. Meanwhile, as I am still waiting on the head, I pulled the car back up to the front of the driveway as I prepare to put it under the knife yet again. I was wanting to leave the car 100% intact until the new motor is ready to be dropped in, but I think I will do some of the smaller things until then. The motor will not get pulled until the new one is ready to go in. I'm mainly going to be installing the new fuel system. Planned to go into the car this time is a Walbro 255lb/hr fuel pump, larger fuel return line, external fuel pressure gauge, install my cartech rising rate regulator, and re-doing my interior gauges. Although I wont be boosting the car right away, I need the new fuel system installed for the initial start up because the car WILL get the +40 injectors right off the bat and it will not run worth a crap with stock pressures and line size. Besides, I'll need it someday!

February 2002

The shortblock is done and has been done for a little while now. Things are on hold as I wait for my head to come back from getting ported. After waiting and waiting, and looking at my shortblock sitting there, as well as the Spirit.. I came up with a new game plan. Since I am going to be putting on 1000 miles for break-in anyway, and break-in miles are DEFINATLY no race miles, I am going to use the top end off of the T2 engine mounted onto my 2.5 T1 short block. That way, I can get the break-in miles well underway while the head is still being worked on. I will use my old intake and injectors, so I dont have to play with fuel pressures to keep the car running with the +40s. Using my stock head will also prevent too much power from being dished out and not disturbing the bottom end. I will, however, be using my hybrid turbo. I dont really have a choice here as my stock 89 Garrett has those really bad leaky oil seals and I dont want to drive around smoking like crazy. Not to mention all the oil it puts in my IC. Hopefully with the big turbo, stock head, and stock intake.. the turbo will have a very hard time spooling and keep me from accidently going into boost, also disturbing the break-in process. When the engine gets to the 1000 mile mark, hopefully I should have the new head (and maybe my Maxon ECU). Then I can pull the top end, put the hybrid onto the new head, along with the intake.. bolt it back on, and go racin'!! So, in an all to familier process, I got busy freeing the engine from the car and then once again I pulled the T2 from the body and there's a few things I need to do to the engine bay while it's out. The 2.5 shortblock is waiting and ready to go in. I plan on getting it in on Sunday since I have the day off, however I'm not going to force the issue. If it doesn't happen.. it doesn't happen.

March 2002

It's in! It runs! And I've been racking up the miles every night after work. I'm still boost free, although I'm not sure where I'm getting all this self control!! LOL The first 500 miles, I didnt cross 2500rpm and no boost. After that, I crossed 2500, but really havent went over 3000 just because there's been no reason to. Still havent hit 0in vacuum! I'm proud of myself! Of course even the starting of the engine didnt go smooth on this car.. would you expect less?? When I switched engines this time, I only pulled the engine, left the trans in. Everyone has always told me that's the way they do it, so I figured I'd see what all the hype was about. Well, that's the LAST time I'll do that!! PULLING only the engine was easy, yes... INSTALLING it was a P.I.T.A.! I find it much easier to pull out the whole chuck at once. But anyway, as I was struggling to line the block up with the trans bellhousing, that thin tin piece that connects to the block kept getting tied up on the trans passenger side axle extension thing. By the time the engine got lined up, that piece of tin in that area was all bent up back on the starter side. I straightened it some, thinking it was no big deal. Upon initial startup, I had a loud hitting noise.. metal on metal.. but no rod knock noise. It turned out to be that piece of tin hitting against the torque converter bolts. I bent the tin some more with a pry bar, and all was quiet. Now that i'm driving the car, it makes that hitting noise again, but only under load. I'm talking very minimal load. If the car idles over 1000 and i have it in gear with the brakes on, it does it lightly. I cant really bend the tin piece away any farther, although it's still not flat against the block. I'm assuming this is still the cause of the noise.. but why only when the engine is loaded in gear? Turns out it's because of the crank walk. As it moves under load, it moves just enough to hit the plate. I cant bend the plate any more, so it looks like i'll have to loosten the engine or trans and pull them apart slightly, take the tin out, hammer it flat, and put it back in. For now maybe it'll live. Of course not! I was going to drive it on Saturday but I started the car and it started hitting even as the car idled in neutral. That was it, I had enough! I wasnt about to sit and bend that plate over every time I drove the car.. so I pulled it up in the driveway and jacked up the front end.. again.. the all-too-common sight. Is it bad when my car is on the ground and it seems WAY too low because I'm used to seeing it up on stands?? LOL Anyway, I figure I could unbolt the bellhousing and slide the trans over 1" or so and slide the old plate out and a new one in, right? So I do that, except I can only get it slid over about 1/2". I spend like 15 min taking out that 10mm bolt while holding a magnet in the trans to catch the bolt when it comes out. I do about 1/8th turn at a time with a little wrench just b/c its so hard to get at with the magnet in there. Jeeze.. I finally get the bolt out and go to remove the plate. After like 5 min of figuring out what it's still caught on, I realize that where the plate flares out, it is hitting against the converter bolts! ARGH! So I go and pull all the bolts out. STILL the thing isnt wanting to come out! I'm starting to get REAL frustrated with this now so i start pulling the axles. I get them out and undo the trans mount. Now I slid the trans WAY over and how tons of room.. GRR!! My dad happens to come home and we get the plate out. Installing the new one was no challenge now that I have the trans half unhooked.. so much for shortcuts! After arguing with the trans trying to get it to line bck up with the block for 10 min, I figure maybe the converter pulled off the pump during the time i had the trans slid out 1/2" but the converter still bolted to the flexplate. So we lower the trans a little and I try to push it back on. It goes on one step, but It still seems a little "loose" to me. But since it wont go on anymore we try again. After another 10min or getting it to line up with the block, it STILL wont pull in flat against the block! I'm getting REAL frustrated now so i let down the trans jack, slide the trans out into the driveway. I push on the converter ONCE and it slides all the way on.. figures!! Another 10 min of getting the trans to line up with the engine and FINALLY everything fits and pulls together.. jeeze, enough already! It was like 2am at the time, so I finish all the little things the next day. I get the stuff finished just in time for work, so no test firing until after work. Parts stores close early on Sun so I have my dad pick up some ATF so i'll have it when i get home. I get home, fill it up, start it.. finally silence!! Went for a 100 mile drive that nite to enjoy it!

So lets see what lessons I've learned: All of this was brought upon me because when I pulled the engine, I thought "i don't really want to pull the axles, so I'll just pull the engine". But before everything was done, the axles ended up laying on my workbench and the trans in the middle of the driveway. Gotta love irony! Not only did I have to pull it, but it added about 10 hours (on both sides) of unneeded crap. Never again will I pull just and engine! I have always pulled both, and just figured i'd give this a try this time.. boy did I learn my lesson!

April 2002

I spent most of this month putting around town breaking in the new motor. I'm not in a huge hurry to get it done with since I'm still waiting on my head, and I'm being extra anal about it because I REALLY don't want any more down time with this car for a while!! There's not a whole lot to share about the break in miles. Guess I'll just wait until it's done!

(940 miles later) I went for a drive to a friend's house last nite. He lives like 60 or so miles away, so I figured that this trip would take care of the rest of my break in. I stopped on the way and picked up my other friend and by the time I got up there I was about 10 miles past break in. I was still very hesitant to boost it though. I probably wouldn't have either if my friends weren't there bugging me about it! LOL. I removed the grainger and had the wastegate connected straight to the intake with a small bleed (from the grainger setup) still in there. The wastegate was shimmed a little on this turbo, so I didnt know where I'd be at.. but I figured it was plenty safe still. Well, I finally got the nerve to boost it and it went to about 8psi. Ahhh... boost is nice again. Everything seems to be holding together.. no dipstick popping, and no oil spraying all over! I was just amazed at how much different this new setup is from my old. Before, I was at 16psi boost with the 0.90v+ light on my Dawes A/F meter and was just starting to make the 0.90-0.93v light flicker on (I was on the rich side of that light). With this setup, at my 8psi boost, the 0.90-0.93 light was on solid. Wow, i'm flowing THAT much more air! Guess I'll have to get the Cartech RRR out sooner than I thought! I am also in need of playing with the cam timing. For break in, I just threw on a stock head and cam that I had (which was off a square tooth engine) and put on a round tooth sprocket, making the cam 5 degrees or so retarded. Not a big deal for breaking in, but it can definalty be felt now that I can boost! Guess I'll throw on my Relentless Performance adjustable cam sprocket and see what it does! I also need to start playing with the ignition timing before I get too far in boost. Let the tuning begin!

June 2002

Things have been slow with the car lately as I am still waiting for the head to arrive. I havent tuned the car at all, knowing that once the head gets here, everything that i just tuned will be worthless since i'll be using new fuel regulators, injectors, intake, throttle body, and head. I sit and wait.

The head is here and I had it cc'd. It came out to be 50cc on each chamber which is a hair smaller than stock. I was advised to use a felpro engine saver shim to bring the compression back down. It wouldnt be a big deal, but being that it's a 2.5 I figured I should. I took my time getting the head on and all the small things that also had to be changed and fabricated along with this permanent setup. The head is finally on and everything is set! I fire it up and hear a large exhaust leak coming from the back of cylinder #1. Argh! I torqued all the manifold bolts down to 20 in/lbs exactly. What happened? My exhaust manifold warped overnight? This car just never wants to run, does it?? I took a break since i didnt feel like pulling the head again immediatly after I just got it back together. About a week has passed and I decide it's time to make the car work. I go back and start the engine, only this time I hear no exhaust leak. wtf?? This time however, the engine is running really rough and not even wanting to idle. Feathering the throttle for a bit, I finally get it to hold an idle so I can go try and find the problem.

I decide it's practically a dead miss I have here. But why? And what the hell happened overnight that caused this? I took out all 4 spark plugs and cleaned them. I also played with all 4 injector plugs and nothing seemed to help the miss. Going back over the plug wires, i find that cyl #4 is the dead one. I pulled the wire and it didnt idle any worse. I took the plug back out and put it in the wire and grounded it. Started the car and it has spark. Hmm.. I get our noid light and check the injector plug on that cylinder. That checks out too. I wonder if it threw some rockers because the S60 springs are so stiff, so i remove the valve cover and find everything to be in place and feeling fine. I go get the compression gauge, screw it in that cylinder, and turn the engine over. Nothing! Zero! None! Not even a little wiggle of the needle!! What the..?!?!? Did someone steal my piston? My guess as of right now is a stuck or bent valve or something?!?

Well, some better news on the Spirit. After getting all motovated earlier by fixing the oil leak on the Horizon, and then getting off work a little earlier tonite.. i decided to dig into the spirit and see what the deal was. I was just going to compression check the other 3 cyls to see where they're at, then pull the cam and check for leakdown. This is just so I know where everything's at before I start pulling the head. I pumped up the other 3 cyls and they were all kosher. Just for shits and giggles i did #4 again only to see it pump up to 130. (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!) Um, ok. Whatever the hell happened before? All I know is that I have compression NOW. Did someone return my piston?!? I put the spark plug back in and fire it up just to see how it runs now that I have compression again. Same deal however, #4 is still dead. Hmm.. I have dad out with me this time so we go back thru the troubleshooting. Check the spark plug, spark plug wire, check for spark. That's all good. Take off the injector plug again and put the noid light in.. we got injector signal. It almost HAS to be a fuel issue now. I put a little bit of gas into the spark plug hole and put the plug in and fire it up.. couldnt really hear if it ran on all 4 at first. Pulled the plug out and it was wet. (I forgot to mention that every time i would run the engine and pull the plug, it was black and dry). Put the plug back in, ran some more (maybe 30 secs), took the plug out and it was dry again. Ran it with the plug out and it really wasnt puffing much out of the hole at all. We're pretty much convinced that either the injector is fried or plugged up damn good. This is shitty because I dont have any extra +40s laying around to swap in. I get out the ohm meter and measure a good injector.. then the +40 and they measure the same... Ok, i guess the injector is good. (??) I was actually kinda relieved that it WASNT the injector since i didnt want to pull the intake to change it, and to buy a new one on top of that.

While just brainstorming ideas with turbo dodge guys on AIM, i stumble upon something with potential. My friend just happened to say that if the FP is too low with the +40s, they dont work. And that #4 would stop first because it's farthest from the FPR. I blew that idea out of the water thinking that the pressure had to be right since i took the whole intake/injectors/AFPR/TB off Larry's engine and put it on mine. I made an effort not to touch anything so it would be already set for me to work off of. They all worked fine on Larry's car, so the FP must be right since i didnt touch it... right? Then the light bulb came on... Larry was running a 2.2... I'm running a 2.5! 2.5s suck quite a bit more fuel than 2.2s do. Well, at WOT at least. I'm not sure about at idle. Next time I went out playing again, I raised the FP to 35-40psi but still a dead hole. The plug was black powdery & dry. I put in a new plug, instantly turned powdery & dry when ran. Checked cam timing again, right on the mark. Checked codes, none. Ran car and wiggled injector plug all over, no change. Unplugged ECU to clear memory, started up, same deal. I am completely stumped! I'm sure it has spark.. checked it a few times. Even put in a new plug in case this one was fouling. I dont know about the valves.. because compression is right there with the rest of them. I'm still thinking there's no fuel b/c the plug is always dry when i pull it. After learning a trick from a turbo dodger, I learned that the fuel rail can come out on a 2-pc without pulling the intake or anything major. I got the rail out fine.. blew the #4 injector out with compressed air while i triggered it open. Injector clicked fine when 12+ was applied manually. It blew all kinds of gas out fine. I put it all back together (after doing the +40 fuel rail mod), started the car back up and it was still missing. Again checked harness with the noid light, checked spark plug and connections. I got an extra injector plug i had and stripped the leads. Started the car and put 12v to the injector off and on.. no idle improvement. Held 12+ to it constant and engine quickly died. Plugged the harness back in and started it up.. miss. Put a screwdriver to the injector and heard it ticking. I did it to the other injectors to make sure i was hearing the right noise. All seems well.

I decided to swap around injectors to see if the miss follows the injector. As I was pulling the injector harness once again, the ground wire from the #1 injector plug simply fell out of the plug. I thought this may be something if the grounds were all shared or in just as bad of condition. I went to the junkyard and got another 89 T1 harness. Came home, put it on while swapping #1 & #4 injectors. Started the car up and and STILL the miss is in #4!! I pulled the cam and put the air compressor hose to #4. I could hear a little airflow.. but rings leak at 150psi slightly. No air noise coming out the tailpipe or the intake. Just for kicks I pulled #3 plug and heard nothing out of that cylinder. I put the valvetrain back together and consulted my friends for more ideas.

I thought maybe since this head has S-60 springs in it, and the lash adjusters came from my 173K mile origional head, that maybe one was weak and the cam was crushing it down instead of the valve, and only letting the valve open slightly. In the back of my mind the whole time, I was thinking that it almost seems that the cylinder is still working, just not making any or enough power to account for anything. I pulled the valve cover and manually rotated the engine looking for and abnormal lasher activity. Everything looked fine still. What can it be?!?! With really nothing else left that I havent tested, swapped, or checked.. I pull the valve cover and cam again to check for a bent or stuck valve. Although having good compression and no major leaking in the cylinder, a valve would be ruled out, but I figured I had nothing to lose. I go across the valves tapping them with a hammer starting with cyl #1. I get to #4 exhaust and the spring feels quite a bit more "springy" than the rest. (!!!) Maybe I have finally found it?! I run it by my friends and they all agree that a weak spring would also cause these problems as the valve would float. At slow cranking speeds (compression test) it would be fine, but at higher RPMs (even idling), it would float. And being an exahaust valve it would cause a big overlap KILLING power in that cylinder. Sounds exactly like the symptoms I'm having! I closer look to the spring shows that it's not a weak spring afterall, it's a BROKE spring! How the hell did a Super 60 spring break before I even left my driveway?!? I guess that's not the important part. The problem has been found and now can be fixed. Maybe I'll get to drive this car afterall! Wow, this has been a BUSY month for me with all the trouble shooting.

After talking with some of the "big guys", I have decided that I'm going back to using stock valve springs. They hold with no valve float up to 7200RPM. Gary Donovan himself has tested many many stock springs, both new and used. ALL check out to proper heigths and strengths. It's pretty safe to say that any set I find will work out fine for me, so I'll just grab a set off a spare head I have laying here. The S60 springs would have actually hurt me some because I didnt NEED them (I wasnt running a S60 cam) and since they are very stiff springs, they would rob me of horsepower. Definatly not cool!

One other problem the car has which I havent been able to fix yet, is with the new engine (stock head) it had so much more power and quick revs that it wouldnt shift itself until I bumped off the rev limiter a few times. Now that the car has become more of a purpose built car, not a fast daily drive, I decided I wanted a Manual Valve Body for it. This decision was set in stone after I saw how crappy it was shifting with the new engine. My personal preference in the SD Community for purchasing "aftermarket" parts is Gary Donovan. I have been bugging him for months about getting me a MVB and working his magic on it, yet Turbo Action has them backordered and really isnt in a rush to make any. I patiently wait. However, back before I decided on staying with stock valve springs, I was brousing various web sites looking at what spring options I have. While looking at Forward Motion's site, I noticed they had MVBs on sale this month! Wow, I didnt even think to check them since I'm not very fond of their business practice. Needless to say, it's probably my only option if I want one in the near future so I called them up and ordered one. Heh, the only thing was, I had it sent directly to Gary's house so he can blueprint it before I even see it! Hey, it saves the time for it to come to my house, then me ship it right back out to Garys. Plus that's one less shipping to pay. It was kinda sneaky to order parts from one vender and have it sent to a competitor, but hey.. they're both getting their money! And besides, FM didnt recognize the address! LOL Next week I should be getting a Donovan-Spec MVB in the mail! That should cure my shifting problem and make driving a little more fun! Not to mention easier time on the Dyno!

Well, I changed back to the stock springs and it actually was pretty easy. Eager to finally hear my car running under good health I go to start it up. Except, of course the engine cant actually work for me!!! As the starter is turning the engine, things just sound different. The engine is spinning like it doesnt have any spark plugs in or anything... very steady and faster than normal rotating. Almost like the engine is just along for the ride with no attempt at all at starting. Jeeze!!! Now what the hell?!?! I go back over the timing belt timing. Triple check to make sure the distributor isnt off 180* then try again. Same deal. ??? I get the compression gauge back out and pop it on a cylinder. 5 bumps later I have 10psi. ????!!!!! I check another cylinder, same deal! I cannot believe this engine!! After checking over everything 5 more times, I come across the only possible cause while talking with my dad. He suggests that maybe since i had compressed air blowing in the cylinders for a few min while changing the springs, that maybe it blew the oil down past the rings and dried the cylinder walls. I guess that could be, afterall.. that's the only damn thing i did to the cylinders! Dry walls would also cause no compression. I put a splash of oil down each spark plug hole. Reinstall the plugs and go turn the key. Same deal.. no attempt to start. That woulda been too easy right? Just then, major plans of sliding a 2.4 DOHC 16v turbo engine under the hood of the Spirit dance through my mind!

Another day goes by with no frikkin clue what the problem is. I recheck that the cam didnt break, that i have about 10psi in each cylinder, and any other obvious oversights. No luck. My dad called up a mechanic friend and told him all about it. He came up with an idea that also might possibly be fitting. Also it seems that this is a fairly common cause. It turns out that when you run compressed air into the cylinders, the air leaks into the oil system, goes to the head, and will actually fill the lashers with air. This prevents the oil from getting into them when starting the engine, and causes the valves to work all funky and nets no compression. Again, sounds good to me. I have no other damn ideas! I pull the cam and take the lashers out. I squeeze each of them in a vice and then drop them into a cup full of oil to soak. I put it all back together AGAIN, and go try to fire it up. Once again, nothing.

We check and try a few more things when my dad is almost positive that the timing is off. He says that back on his old 318 van, the torque converter had a few timing marks and it was always a hastle. Two timing marks? Thats pretty stupid.. besides, I never ran into that problem before. He goes and turns the engine over slowly by hand while I watch the timing opening. All of a sudden I see a mark. He looks at the cam and it's about 90* off. Hmm.. ??? He keeps turning and soon after I see a second mark! He looks at the cam and its dead on. I cannot believe it!!! Two timing marks on the converter!!! Of all the times I've had the timing belt off this car and others, i must have got lucky and got the right mark every time! We quickly reset the timing to the "other" mark. I bite my lip and go turn the key. Instantly it fires up! ARGH!! It sounded so nice. So relieving yet made me angry over that stupid mark! Well, at least it wasnt the mark the whole time, the spring WAS still broke. So alas, it runs...

July 2002

Not much happening so far this month. After the amount of time I spend getting it to run, I just kicked back. A little bit of midnight street tuning keeps me happy with it. Wow, this fuel curve is harder to dial in than I thought! A car BBS that I'm on is having a test n tune day at a local strip and I decide to get the car set and put on a show. My manual valve body showed up from Gary on the Friday before the track day (it's on a saturday). I immediatly begin installing it and it goes very smooth! The shifting with this valve body is unbelieveable! I HIGHLY recommend a Donovan MVB to anyone! However, the slamming shifts (and it DOES slam them!) may become annoying when driving the car all day every day.

I show up at the track with the car still on the rich side. My first few passes were a waste as the car was breaking up like crazy! Im guessing it was just because it was WAY rich. I play with the fuel a little, play with the boost, and the spark plug gap.. nothing really working too well. I pack up after making about five 17-18 sec part throttle and breaking up passes and head home. Ah well, the idea was good. I'll be ready next time!

August 2002

This month has been REAL slow with the Spirit.. I think it's been sitting for 2 weeks! There's just way too much other things taking my time. I did get to finally make a nice upper radiator mount. Still gotta make the IC shroud.