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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Keep EA71 or switch to EA81

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3 replies to this topic

#1 sjschlag


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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:32 PM

Hi all! 


Been down for a few months. Got in a hit and run motorcycle accident back in October and broke my foot. Bike is trashed. Never caught the people who hit me. Not sure if I'll get back on one for a while.


I'm hoping the doctors clear me to start walking on my bad foot soon, and that means I can get back to work on my '79 wagon which has been sitting in my heated garage for the last 2 months (can't drive stick with a broken foot!). Before I put it away, it was burning oil and whenever I shut the car off it would either violently backfire or run backwards or just have a little exhaust fart. Pulled the spark plugs and they were BLACK so I replaced them. I'd like to make it stop burning oil and maybe not leak as much. 


I'm hoping it's just that the 35 year old valve seals are bad (which would explain the blue tinged exhaust) which means the heads need to come off. Car sat for a number of years before I bought it from the previous owner. He replaced the pushrods on one side of the motor because they were broken and got it running. I'm doubting it's the rings because the car only has 44k miles on it, but who knows what happens when things sit for that long. 


Transmission seems a little rough...likes to make gear noise and you can feel the vibrations! Shifts okay for now, but who knows in the future. Think some fresh oil in there might help?


So, with all of that in mind, would it be worth my time to rebuild the heads on this motor, or would it be better to just find an old EA81 and a DR 5 speed and try to shoehorn that in to the wagon? I've heard that the EA71 in my car is okay, but the single range 4 speed is a piece of junk, and my swap options are limited. I don't really thrash my car a ton, but I'd like to get it to the point where it's reasonably dependable. I'm also not really interested in altering the car too much (it has 44k miles on it).


So yeah, any advice? I'm attached to the car, and I've missed driving it a ton, so I'd like to spend the least amount of time getting it running well. I'm working on sealing up the gas tank and getting a set of jackmans powdercoated this week, so it should look pretty snazzy with some new shoes!





#2 RustyBrat


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Posted 15 December 2013 - 10:12 PM

i say keep thea ea71, but thats just me. if at all possible its best to keep these things original

#3 petey


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Posted 16 December 2013 - 03:23 AM

I'm putting an ea81 into mine,mainly because it does all the things you describe yours as doing and it's had the valves/ heads etc done already.......plus I would as you say like to make it a bit more dependable.

The ea81 engine and box I have came out of a gen1 brat anyhow so should fit straight in with little hassle....that's the plan anyway.

As for keeping it original you can always keep the ea71 kicking about to put it back in if you need to.

#4 ferox


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Posted 16 December 2013 - 01:52 PM

Sounds like ea71 or ea81 is not your issue.  It sounds like your current engine is very much out of adjustment.  Worn valve seals cause oil smoking on start-up but then it goes away.  With 44k it should be running way better.  I would make sure your timing, carb, and PCV system are working properly.  Check and adjust valve lash.  Check the charcoal canister valve.


A little Rislone in the trans fluid seems to help the 4MTs.  Your transmission mounts and or shift linkage might also be shot, which will affect shifting and power transfer.


That said, an ea81 and 5MT would be a nice upgrade.

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