June 25, 2006 - Wow! Two updates in one month.
Now that's something that won't happen much.
So the race is on to get the motor done this week and
I can honestly say for the most part, the motor IS done!
There's some small detail stuff that needs to be taken
care of still but I can't take care of those until the
Parts Dept at Cabe Toyota opens on Monday. Ken Takenaka.
was kind enough to come by and help me out the past few
days to get the motor done. I'm slowly finding out
that this car project is plagued by the same kinda stuff
any computer implementation project is. It's the
little things that cause you the most heartburn.
Tools that don't work, missing nuts and bolts, different
revision of parts which have different connectors or
fittings, long hours, tiredness, etc.
I was able to borrow a GOOD piston ring compressor
from Mike Bingham(thanks Mike!) and set the pistons in
Friday nite. Boy, it's nice to have tools that
work! Setting the pistons was quick and easy but
only after getting the right size rod bearings...
I picked up the piston ring tool from Mike Wednesday
nite. Ken Takenaka and Glenn Nakatani stopped by
later that evening to help me set the pistons and build
the rest of the motor. Pistons slipped in easily
using Mike's compressor tool. Sweet. So Ken
sets the rod caps and tightens down in the # 1 cylinder.
Ken makes a comment that, "it feels kinda funny".
Gee, now the crank doesn't turn. Hey, the cap
doesn't tighten down all the way either. Ken
thinks maybe he didn't set the cap right and takes the
rod and bearing apart and resets it again. Cinches
it down. No dice. Hmmm... were the rods mains
reground and resized? Nope. Are these the
right bearings??? Not sure. Ken asks me if I
Plastigage-ed the rod bearings. How could I?
We just unwrapped the bearings 10min ago. :-)
We look at the box but there's no markings regarding if
they're standard, or oversized, or whatever. So we
make a phone call to Wes Tanaka, Toyota Part Number Kung
Fu Master. We read off the bearing part number to
him. Wes quickly responds that our bearings are
the oversized. .025 to be exact. Ah...
the clouds part to reveal the true sky. Wes also
tells me to look on the backside of the bearing.
There should be a tiny number on the end. Hey,
lookie at that, 025 is stamped on the end. While
I'm on the phone with Wes, Glenn breaks out the
micrometer, measures the crank, bearing, looks at the
clearance spec in the Toyota 20r manual, does some quick
math and comes to the conclusion that a set of standard
bearings will give us the right bearing clearance.
Okay. Hey Wes, got any standard rod bearings in
stock? Wes says he'll have to check in the
morning. Being that it's like around 8p and he's
right in the middle of laying some insulation in his
house at the moment. Oh, sorry Wes. Didn't
mean to interrupt your home remodel! :-)
So, we're at a standstill again. Can't do
anything w/out the bearings. So Ken and Glenn help
me take some of the engine mounting parts and brackets
off the old 20r and transmission, and help me clean up a
Next day I have a full day of driving around to
customers in Downtown LA. I despise driving in
Downtown LA. Who's the idiot who came up with
one-way streets anyways? Someone once told me that
when you get lost in Downtown LA, just keep making
right-hand turns and eventually you'll get to your
destination. I don't think that's too far off from
reality actually. In the afternoon I call Wes to
see if the bearings came in. Unfortunately they
didn't but I'm not too disappointed cause I'm kinda
tired from the day anyways and I have some work stuff to
finish in the evening.
On the way home I called a local Kragen near my house
to see what time they close. Gotta pickup some
Plastigage. Kragen closes at 9p. Cool, cause
I remember seeing Plastigage at this particular Kragen
awhile back. So I get there, goto the shelf where
I saw the Plastigage and notice there's an empty space
where it should be. Rats! So I goto the
counter and ask the sales guy if they have any
Plastigage. "Uh yes, we have gauges but I don't
know if they're plastic". "We have metal ones
too". No no no, I need Plastigage. "Plazikagaguzs???"
NO PLASTIGAGE!!! You know, it comes in a paper,
inside is a wax wire, you use it to measure clearances
on like a half-round engine crank bearing. "Oh
okayeh, down this aisle, on right side, you see it".
So I take a look at where the guy told me to go and he
sends me to the tire sealant section. Maybe the
guy associated the word "half-round" with a flat tire.
Okay, I'm getting nowhere. I'm tired, have a
headache, and need to find some PLASTIGAGE. So I
leave to go home and just write-off the rest of the day.
Driving home, I remember a NAPA auto parts store near
by. So I take a detour and stop by. Wow,
this place is kinda cool. None of that crap like
LED lights, cheap chrome skull shifters, dorky flames,
2Fast 2Furious poser crap. Just parts.
So I goto the counter and ask the guy if they have
any Plastigage. "Sure thing. What color?"
What color??? Oh-oh. Uh... what colors
do you have? I'm sure the guy at the counter is
thinking, "man, who is this loser? What does he
think this is, Baskin Robbins?". The guy comes
back with yellow, red, and blue. Hmmm, I think the
one I used in the past was green. "Sorry, we're
all out of green". CRAP!!! Another sales guy
walks up and asks what I'm measuring. I tell him
crank mains and rods on a Toyota 20r. The guys
tells me I can probably get away with buying blue and
red since they they slightly overlap the green on both
ends. Cool. This is what I like, people that
know their trade and can help dorks like me who don't.
:-) Btw, do you guys have assembly lube? I'm
just dying at this moment because I'm dreading that he's
going to ask me what kind I want, and I have no friggin'
clue. So he walks me over to one of the aisles,
pulls the assembly lube off the shelf for me and walks
me back to the counter. Boy, this guy is old
school cause nobody does stuff like that anymore.
What customer service. I pay for the stuff and
Friday afternoon I pickup the rod bearings and
attempt to assemble the engine again. I wipe off
all the oil from the crank, drop the #1 piston and rod
in, drop in some plastigage and tighten down the cap.
In my haste and curiosity, I turn the crank to see if it
moves. It moves quite easily actually. Cool!
Okay dork, you realize you just spun the bearing with
the Plastigage on it??? So I yank the cap off,
clean up again, drop in a new piece of Plastigage, cap
and tork it. Immediately pull the cap off and
measure. Although slightly on the larger side, the
clearance is within spec. Cool! I then
proceed to install the rest of the rods and pistons.
All measure okay.
Pistons installed and set.
Gee, hope the valves don't hit.
So after installing the rods and pistons, I installed
the rest of the front of the motor like gears, chain
dampeners, chain, and cover.
Saturday morning I have to goto a TORC mtg at 8:30a.
So that concludes around 11a and I go back home to
hangout with a family a bit and have some lunch.
Ken T. calls me and asks if I'm going to work on the
motor some more today. I tell him I set the rods
and pistons and front stuff on the motor the previous
nite and will probably work on the motor again later
I start trying to clean and degrease some of the old
parts for the new motor. I use a mix of Simple
Green, hand cleaner, and Comet in a big plastic tub.
It actually works pretty well. Like I stated
earlier, I hate motors that leak oil and I really hate
it when there's oily dirty crusted buildup on top of it.
This car has plenty of that.
Hmmm... where do I dump this when I'm finished?
Ken T. gets to my house around 3:30p and we start
putting the rest of the motor together. I still
have a number of parts to clean so Ken starts installing
the water and oil pumps and I keep cleaning parts.
Ken's a madman when it comes to building engines.
He cranks(pun intended) thru putting the rest of the
motor together and still remembers a lot of the tricks
from his Toyota mechanic days.
Since I'm running high compression pistons, big
valves, and modified cam, I figure we better do the clay
on the piston clearance test to make sure the valves
don't slam against the pistons. So I ask my wife
if the kids have any old clay that they don't use
anymore. My wife starts digging through the crafts
cabinet and says we don't have any clay but we have
Ken and I look at it, squish it around and think,
"Heck, this should work." Unfortunately, I didn't
take any pix of this test but basically you spread a
layer of "Fun Dough" on top of the pistons, bolt down
the head and valve train and spin the motor 360 degrees.
Pull the head, and see how far the valves dig into the
"Fun Dough". If you see metal cutting thru the
dough, that's bad. Test comes out fine and valve
clearance is good. Phew! On my 18RG back in
the day, I didn't do this test and ran into trouble
because the valves hit the pistons and bent.
Jacked up my pistons too. Believe me, it's a lot
harder to rework the engine AFTER it's in the car.
Head and valve train installed.
The front pulley is one we use to turn the motor
with. It won't be the one we'll be running on the
Nice porting from Rick Kemph.
Smog holes plugged up!
I used ARP studs for the mains, rods, and head bolts.
I finish cleaning the parts and proceed to shoot them
black. Notice in the background the piston ring
compressor that WORKS.
Okay, I got lazy on the oil pan. But it
actually turned out nice.
Next I just have to install the motor mounts,
alternator, flywheel, clutch, and tranny and get ready
to put it into the car. I need the paint to dry a
little longer before installing though. The high
humidity is causing the paint to take longer to dry.
Here's my next cleaning nightmare. Today(Sunday)
I'm taking a break though. Had to clean up my
backyard a bit and plan on going to the Long Beach Obon
Carnival this afternoon. The carnival itself is
pretty dinky but it's the annual meeting place to see
all my old(literally) friends and their families from
That's all for now. Hopefully the next story
will be putting the motor into the car.