I spent a lot of time thoroughly documenting my build on the.. other forum, but now that's all gone so I guess I have to start over. I probably won't put as much detail, but I'm sure I'll think of new things that I didn't mention before.
I had very little experience working on cars when I started this two years ago so I had to learn a lot as I went along. For every hour I worked on the car, I probably spent 10 times that reading and searching for information, mostly on v8rx7forum.
The car is a 93 that I got at about 70k miles with 5k on a dealer-installed, brand-new rotary. Here's me beginning to pull out the rotary.
With all the crap out from in front of the engine, this is the point when the doubters start to believe there might actually be enough room in there for that "big" Chevy V8.
Say goodbye to the wankel (got $2500 for it on the club).
Of course, before I even did any of that, this thing arrived:
It (LS-1, T-56, PCM, wiring harness--even the exhaust) was out of an 2001 Camaro with 90k miles. I was a bit worried about the high miles (particularly with the transmission), but it has ended up working mostly okay.
Obligatory shot of the empty engine bay:
Then without the front bumper:
And removing interior parts:
A word to the wise: remove the parking brake before you take the dash out or put it in. Takes two minutes and saves a lot of trouble.
I had an NC (06 Miata) and I wanted a steering wheel with more buttons for the FD, so I got an NC wheel on ebay for $45 ($15 + $30 shipping). Comparison:
They're the same diameter, so don't go this route if you're looking for a smaller wheel. It would probably save more than a few grams, though. The splines between the two wheels are identical, but the alignment holes for the clockspring don't match (FD has them top and bottom and NC has them on the sides). I drilled some new holes in the NC wheel and then it bolted on nicely. I got an airbag for it for $100 on ebay that I probably won't hook up (needed it for the cover and horn button, at least). I'll talk about wiring it up later.
Previous owner was a smoker, so the car smelled pretty bad. Worse than that, every interior panel was coated with soot (particularly on the backs of each part). Aside from the smell,the torn-up driver's seat, and some scratches on the center console, the interior was in great shape.
A few months later, after shampooing the carpet:
I went with Grant's mounting kit since, at the time, it was between him and Hinson (and that whole dynotested debacle). I don't really remember why I went with his over Hinson's. Here's a pic of the the new and old subframes:
I cleaned up the OEM subframe and sold it on ebay for like, $30 or something (if that). I also sold the other stuff like the PPF, driveshaft, clutch master and got about $10 for each part.
Then the subframe installed:
And then I see that the intermediate shaft (steering) is not going to make it:
There is quite a lot of wiggle-room in the system and Grant's advice was to loosen everything up, then connect the shafts and tighten everything down. I was able to make that work, but I was not comfortable with it. I eventually got my shaft lengthened:
Machinist friend of a friend cut it in half, then welded a section in the middle and machined it down to the original diameter. It's about 3/4" longer than it was originally. In the end, I still need to raise the rack back up, though (more on this later), so it probably wasn't even necessary.
One of the fun mysteries I had to figure out was how to plumb the clutch. It took countless hours of googling before I finally had a setup worked out. I ended up with this:
I got the wilwood master from hinson with the correct threads welded on. The clutch line goes from the master to a male 3 AN adapter (came with it). On the slave, I used a nifty adapter that Russel
makes. You knock a pin out on the slave that holds the quick-disconnect fitting in and then you attach this thing instead (so, no more quick-disconnect fitting). The adapter comes out to male 3 AN so I used a 36" 3 AN (F-F) brake line to connect them. Then there's the bleeder. You'd have to be batshit insane to try to bleed it with the stock bleeder, so a remote bleeder is a good option and very inexpensive if you order all the parts yourself. You need an adapter from 3 AN to 10mmx1.5
(male). You'll need to use a 10mm crush washer and copious amounts of thread sealer to mount the adpater to the slave. I have read some discussion about how this will not form a reliable seal since the surface has not been machined-flat. So, you do this at your own risk, I suppose, but lots of people have done this successfully. On the opposite end, you're going to use a brake speed bleeder and you'll have to find a corresponding 3 AN adapter (then another 3 AN brake line). I used a Russel 3/8" -24 bleeder
. For the AN adapter, you'll need something with a bubble flare (this is important) and threads that match the bleeder. I used this one
I did not mount a second reservoir, but instead hooked it up to the stock brake/clutch reservoir where the previous clutch master was connected. Some people don't like this, saying if the clutch line fails, you'll lose your brake fluid, but if you look in the reservoir, there's a baffle that keeps the fluid separate if it gets below a certain level.
At some point, I unbolted the T-56 from the LS-1 and decided to change the clutch. I went with a SPEC stage 2 (I think) and the Fidanza aluminum flywheel. Here's a shot of the pilot bearing I took out using a puller from autozone:
I did not replace the oil seal when I did this, though now I'm kind of wishing I had. I also didn't replace the flywheel bolts. There was some discussion about this on the old forum with people saying the bolts are supposed to be replaced. None of the instructions I read on doing the job said to do it, so I never had thought about it. I did call up the local GM dealer and asked them what the service manual said (after all was said and done) and they said that it doesn't say to replace--so hopefully it will be okay.
I took the intake manifold off before I tried installing the engine. It was pretty gross under there:
You need to take the manifold off in order to clear the lip on the firewall. Then when you install the intake, you may need to bump the lip in to get it to fit. Mine required very little modification.
It took about 5 minutes to get the thing in there all by myself. Use a load-leveler. I assumed that prior to shipping, they would have drained all of the fluids. It was a nice surprise when I started tilting the tranny back and fluid poured out all over the place. Oh well.
Once everything was generally where it needed to be, I used several jacks to line things up. Had one jack underneath the oil pan, another in front, and another on the side (while the tranny rested on 2x4s). I had things where they needed to be in only a few minutes and got one of the bolts in, but then the second motor mount was very stubborn:
The two brackets from the mount were a bit narrower than the corresponding point on the subframe. I stuck a pipe in there against the mounting tabs and banged with a 4lb hammer a few times and then it all fit.
It's at this point that you call the neighbors over and say, "see, it does fit."
Now, the Steeda handle I got mounted a bit oddly--at quite an extreme angle.
The stock shifter has a bit of a bend (I think I read somewhere that the T-56 sits at an angle in the Camaros/Firebirds or something) and then the Steeda handle bent in the same direction. That would make it very unwieldy. I took the shifter apart and reversed the little nub thing and then the angles canceled each other out quite nicely.
The Steeda handle (got it from Hinson) used the Mustang thread size for the knob (I forget the specs). I got a Mustang Cobra knob on ebay for cheap and it screwed on nicely:
Figuring out how to do the fuel setup took way more time than the clutch plumbing and then I still really didn't have a handle on it (though in the end it's quite simple). It doesn't help that there are millions of ways of doing it and everyone does it differently. Basically the gist of it is that you've got 5/16" lines coming out of and going into the tank. You've got some rubber lines and some steel lines. Lots of people reuse some or most of that and lots of people replace it all. Most people replace the pump but some people have used the stock unit. I didn't realize that you could use the stock pump (or I would have), so I got the Walbro 255. The Walbro had a 5/16" hose barb on it. I sawed off a bit of the tube in the tank and attached a compression fitting screwed to a hose barb. In retrospect, I could have probably just run the hose straight onto the 5/16" tube and clamped it.
Interestingly, a while after I did this, I pulled it out and found that the rubber had not responded well to the gasoline (it was sort of melting). I replaced it with a short length of braided line (but otherwise clamped on just the same).
Then I took out the stock fuel filter and used one of the rubber lines to bypass it. I did have to slightly bend the tubes so that the rubber hose wasn't kinked all crazy-style. From there you've got three lines: one out of the tank, one return, and one to the charcoal cannister.
I used the Corvette FPR/filter like almost everyone else. This thing uses fancy quick-disconnect fittings and you can get adapters (to AN fittings) if you want to be really cool. You can also user rubber hose and slide it onto the inlet and return if you're not trying to be cool. Then there's another quick-disconnect fitting on the fuel rail. To make things very simple, I connected the FPR/filter right up to the rail and bolted it to the frame that holds the igniters.
Not the greatest, perhaps, but elegant in its simplicity. I'll redo this at some point, though, probably with fancy-style braided lines like most people here seem to like.
Now, for cooling, I went with the JTR kit
This makes use of a C3 radiator and comes with everything you need except for the hoses (uses standard f-body hoses with slight modifications). The least attractive aspect of this option is that the radiator is slightly too wide and you have to bash the frame rails in slightly in order to make it fit (something like 1/8? on either side).
You also need to take out the coolant loop and the mounting tabs for the original radiator. The brackets that hold everything on will mount between the frame and the tow hooks.
I cut off the lower mounts off of the sway bar mount things and repainted
I noticed that the sway bar bushing was squeaking pretty badly (always heard it but didn't know what it was) so I threw some brake grease on it and now it's quiet.
Here's one of the brackets. I ground off some of it so that it will fit into the big aluminum piece that the radiator sits in
Here's the lower piece installed (this is before I modified the brackets, so the big aluminum piece is sitting on top of the brackets here).
They don't give you anything to mount the top end of the radiator, so for now it's only being held in by the mounts at the bottom. It stays in place just fine, but I'll have to make something to prevent the lower brackets from being subject to too much fatigue.
To modify the upper hose, simply cut out a section in the middle and add the coupler that is tapped for a bleeder valve and a hose barb. The barb goes to the surge tank.
The lower hose kinks pretty badly
so they give you a coupler and you're supposed to cut it in the middle, twist everything so that it's all at the right angle, and then clamp it together. I don't have a picture of that, but it ends up working nicely, if not beautifully.
The kit also comes with this restrictor thing that you place mount in the hose going to the heater core to reduce flow.
I ended up using the OEM fans. They're not a great fit, but I guess we'll see. They seem to be working great so far, but I don't have the AC going yet so it's hard to say.
I hooked the brake master up to vacuum using part of the f-body hose and part of the FD hose coupled together with an adapter I got at the hardware store. I forget the hose sizes?like 3/8? to 1/2? or something.
I should have checked out the brakes as soon as I got the car. They were in bad shape
Replaced them with rotors and pads from rotorpros. Probably shouldn't have used their pads, but I was feeling cheap. I wanted some cheap blank rotors (like the kind you could get at NAPA for $20), but I couldn't find any anywhere. Rotorpros doesn't do blanks, unfortunately.
I had a speed-bleeder left over from the remote clutch bleeder, so I hooked up some hose and just plopped it onto the regular bleeders and bumped until no air came out. Worked pretty well.
For the power steering, I went the DIY route with parts that were posted in a thread (I think by eat-pez). This is convenient since you can order everything and put it together yourself. It makes use of this adapter that goes from AN to the GM fitting on the pump:
So you make a hose with AN (6 I think it was) on one side and a banjo fitting on the other. I don't remember the thread size for the banjo fitting or the part numbers for any of this stuff (had it in the old thread
Now, the problem with this setup is that the hose is only rated for 1000psi. The GM pump normally puts out 1500. The mazda pump only did around 900 (these are just numbers I'm repeating from having read on the old forum?I haven't verified them or anything). So, you use the spring modification to bring down the pressure but a) you don't know what it is exactly and b) even if it's 900, that's not much of a margin of error. I seem to recall reading of these failing on people, so tread lightly. If you have a competent hose shop nearby, just take them the mazda and GM hoses and have them mate them together.
I'm sure the spring modification has been documented here by now, but it's pretty simple. Just undo the bolt where the outlet fitting goes and use a magnet to pull the spring and regulator thing out
Cut a few threads off (3) and put it back together.
When I was messing around with the engine before mounting it (I don't remember what I was doing), I broke the barb on the PS reservoir. Rather than paying out the ass for a new one, I did a sort of ghetto repair. I melted a piece of plastic over where the barb broke off and put a new barb at the top of the reservoir. Since the fluid would return above the level of fluid in the reservoir, it got aerated and made a ton of noise. I put another barb inside and ran a 2? rubber hose down into the reservoir and now it works fine.
BTW, to get the reservoir off, you have to take the pulley off. To get the pulley off, get the pulley removal kit from Harbor Freight. It's pretty cheap and there's no way you'll get it off without it (you can get it back on with a hammer, but that's not recommended).
For the intake, I used the JTR kit. This comes with one 4? (I think) to 3.5? 90 degree tube that slides onto the throttle body. Then you slide the MAF onto that and slide a 90 degree elbow (3.5 from here on out) onto that, pointing down. A largish aluminum tube goes onto that (like a foot long or so). You get two more 90 degree elbows and a two short aluminum sections to finish it off. You have to buy the filter separately (I don't remember the size I used).
The tube that goes down ended up a bit too close to the PS pulley
So I cut a bit of the fan's frame away
I ended up cutting one of the 90 degree elbows in half (so, 45 degrees) and that got the filter in a pretty good spot, right at the (former) oil cooler opening.
I took a piece of aluminum strip, wrapped it around that aluminum section of the intake and that bolts to the radiator bracket, holding the intake in place.
I decided to do the exhaust myself, which was an interesting undertaking. I had never welded anything before. I have an old-school stick-welder that I inherited from my grandfather which I used to weld everything together. The welds look like garbage with slag and splatter everywhere (well, I ground most of that off, but it still looks like shit). Oh well, it was cheap and works great. Sounds even better.
I ordered all of this stuff from Columbia River (except for those cats which I got on ebay for like, $30 each, and the v-band clamps which came with the headers)
I have JTR headers and the goal was to go 3? off the headers, through the tranny brace, back to the two cats, then into a y-pipe and out to the original cat-back. I'm not sure what cat-back I have, but I seem to recall the previous owner saying it's a Borla. It's a single muffler with two outlets and 2 3/4 tubing going in.
Here's the route
Getting the tubing to bend up and over the tranny brace was fun. I cut out small sections of the 180 bend and taped them together with electrical tape as I went along.
Here's the stuff mostly mocked up:
Then welded together (don't laugh!)
Okay, fine, you can laugh. Also, the headers are mild steel (along with everything else). I very much regret not getting them ceramic coated. I ended up painting them, but they've gotten pretty rusty on the bottom. The rest of the exhaust is now coated with a nice layer of rust, too, which I expected. This just has to last long enough for me to finish school, get a real job, and, I don't know, go turbo?
I went with Hinson's lower tie-rod-ends. These aren't put together the greatest, but they're supposed to wear out in 20k miles so I'll wait till then to get new ones (I'm not going to throw away $150). Interestingly, the hole for the clip on top was way above the castle nut
So I cut the top of it off and drilled a new hole
I had a bit of a surprise when I mounted my newfangled 17? wheels:
The tie-rod-ends do not clear the inside of the wheel. Now I know why these suckers weigh 25lbs
Okay, so I cheaped out on the wheels (they're voxx). At least they look pretty damn good. They're 17x9 front and back (45mm offset, which is pretty damn good, actually). I've got 255s on the front and 275s in the back. You can tell the wheels in back are a bit on the narrow side for the tires if you look closely, but it's not very noticeable.
After getting an alignment and driving it around, I finally fully understood this damn bump-steer thing everyone's always talking about. The car felt like a death-trap, darting this way and that at will. Apparently, Grant's subframe lowers the rack much lower than Hinson's. I had become aware of this long before driving it, but I was somehow hoping that the bump-steer thing would only be something more skilled drivers would notice. Hah.
So I did some experiments. I Bolted the car down to the lift very very tightly (cargo straps, then tensioned the shit out of them by raising the car up a bit more using jacks). Then I used a jack to lift the suspension up. You're supposed to do stuff like this without the shocks in place, but I felt like cutting corners so I just strapped the car down tight enough to ensure it would *not* move. I made a little contraption that shot a laser down and then I marked where it hit at various suspension positions.
I did all the calculations and figured out how bad it was, but I don't remember what they were. It was close to 1 degree toe-in per inch of suspension travel, which is obviously very bad. I was able to verify that the rack did indeed need to move up (not much room for the tie-rod-ends to go down any further). Meanwhile, Mattster, who has a similar setup, got a bump-steer gauge and got some more solid data. At this point, I need to get some new mounts to raise the engine up a bit and then machine some spacers to raise the rack up.
Right now I've got it raised up about 3/8? on washers and aluminum strips and it is much improved, but still a big hindrance.
Now I have significantly more to add about electrical/electronics stuff and the interior. Really, those are the more interesting topics, but I'll get to them soon when I have some time.