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August 29, 2005 - It's gettin' hot in here!

Not sure wassup with the weather in Socal these days but man, it's HOT out here!  At this rate, I may have to keep the A/C unit in the Celica.

I am finally the registered owner of the Celica now.  I just received the pink slip for the car about a week ago.  I also noticed that it costs 70 bucks to register a car that's almost 30 years old.  Wassup with that???  I think back in the 80's, the registration on my first Celica was like 15 bucks.  Granted, that was like 20 years ago but hey, the car was pretty old back then too.  It's twice as old now.  I wonder if car registration prices are relative to gasoline prices.  If that's the case, we're all in big trouble.

This month I picked up a set of Tokico shocks for the Celica along with new front stainless steel window trims and the plastic rear hatch ones.  Boy, I think that stuff was more expensive than the shocks!  The little clip things to hold down the trim ain't cheap either.

My buddy Ken is in the process of cleaning out his garage and graciously dropped off a 4.37 limited slip, a second stock differential, an extra set of 4.37 gears, a whole boatload of nuts, bolts, studs, and assorted fasteners for the Celica, a brand new stock exhaust manifold and heat exchanger, stock piping, a brand new catalytic, my 22r block and an engine stand, a couple of electronic ignition distributors, and other miscellaneous rebuild parts for the engine.  My garage is a total mess now.  Unfortunately, the block was missing the rods so I need to figure out something here.  Since the pistons I have are .020 over, I need to have the block bored and honed again.  That's not a bad thing though since it's been sitting around for over 15 years.  If I have to take the block in for boring, I might as well have them clean up the crank and do some rod work also.  Hopefully the cost of the rod work won't exceed the price of a set of new forged rods.

Taking with the guys from Ali Machining in Signal Hill, I needed to find out the bore size and clearance needed for the forged pistons.  Hmmm, that's right huh?  One of those little details I forgot about.  So I put in a call to Arias Pistons and we determined that the pistons I have are over 10 years old.  Unfortunately, that was before they started stamping serial number inside the pistons to note the metal type and application for the piston.  Arias recommended that I bring the piston to them so they can check it out and determine the numbers I need to give the machinist for the block.  Roger at Arias was very helpful and came back with a bore size requirement of 92.5mm.  Hey, that's easy to remember.  I really like the people at Arias.  Kind of a family owned business that's very warm and always willing to help.  Everyone I talk to there really seem to know their stuff too.  None of the big corporate b/s and clueless employees that don't know their jobs that you get from some of the other shops.

Okay, now that I know the block info, I need to score a set of rods from someplace.  I contemplated getting a set of Eagle forged rods but I really didn't want to spend the extra money and it's not like I'm going to be racing the car on the drag strip every weekend.  Heck, I'll be lucky to get the car out on the road once a month!  So, without spending a whole lot of cash or deal with a lot of hassle, where can I find a set of rods?  A few call to local junk yards yielded nothing.  Last time I went to Pick-a-Part in Wilmington, I saw a number of 20r and 22r motors but I really didn't want to go thru the hassle of pulling the motors.

So I put out a query to some of the guys from TORC and Mike Bingham from Cabe Toyota tells me he has an old rusty 20r short block that I could have for nothing.  Hmmm, free is definitely good but I wonder how rusty this block is.  So I drag my friend David(he has a truck) and we meet Mike at this lot where a bunch of old cars are stored.  Looks more like a junk yard but hey, parts is parts.  Come to find out that the block has been sitting in the back of a Toyota Stout which has been sitting outdoors for a number of years.  The short block is complete but boy is it ever rusty.  I can see my friend David thinking, "man, is that a motor or is it part of the Titanic?"  I decide to take the block and we muscle it out of the Stout and in the back of David's Tacoma.  Boy, I don't remember these engine being so heavy 20 years ago.  The earth's gravitational pull must be getting stronger or something over the years.

Reminds me of the Titanic...

We get the block to my house and leave it on the patio where I keep a bunch of other cars parts.  That's when I noticed there's a pile of other junk parts that I didn't request from Ken.  That dog, he cleans out his garage and transfers the junk to my house.  Friends have a strange sense of humor...

The following day I attempt to remove the rods from the block.  Using an impact gun, I try to see if the block still spins.  After about 15min of hammering, the crank starts to move a bit.  Cool!  But in order to remove the rods and associated pistons, I need to get the motor to TDC or BDC.  Man, we're a long way from that position.  So I breakout some WD40, a drill with a wire brush, a really big hammer, and some leather gloves.  I try to clean the layer of rust on the exposed cylinder walls.  I also pull the main caps off to see teh condition of the crank journals and bearings.  Breaking loose the main bolts, oils starts to leak out of them.  Good sign.  All the areas that are not exposed are well oiled still, shiny, and free moving.  So why in the heck am I having such a hard time turning the crank?  After about an hour of impact gunning, I get the motor to TDC.  Whew!  Time to take a break.

After all that work trying to get the motor to TDC/BDC, the rods still wouldn't come out.  The rust buildup on the cylinder walls was keeping the pistons from breaking loose and sliding out of the block.  So using a wire brush wheel and a drill, I cleaned the cylinder walls and was then able to remove the pistons and rods from the rusty block.

Next challenge, removing the pressed pins from the pistons.  The official Toyota 20r manual says to submerse the rod and piston assembly in a tank of hot water to expand the aluminum piston then carefully press out the pin.  Bump that.  I breakout a propane torch and light that sucker up.  With a hammer and 14mm long socket, the pins pop out with little effort.

The fruits of my labor...

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