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Project Ruby Sue 86' Hatch


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#1 iceageg

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 11:42 AM

I sold my 85' hatch 3 years ago when I was transferred from Colorado to Florida.  After transferring back much sooner than expected I picked up this gem to fill the obvious need of a car that can survive Denver winters.

20160830_202630.jpg

 

From the literature in the glove box and the dealer stickers it appears she was originally a New Jersey car.  The original dark red paint hides the rust and she has a few dings here and there but for the most part the body and panels are strait and she runs well enough to be a daily driver as I sort out the known issues and upgrade a few things here and there.  She also came with a second set of wheels with bald tires.  There are a number of issues to sort out but for the price I am happy.  A reliable daily driver with good fuel economy that is easy to work on, goes anywhere, and has enough issues that I don't feel bad about altering it from stock.  This last bit is important not only from an availability of parts standpoint but also because this will likely become my son's car in a couple years.  He is looking forward participating in the build.  So let the fun begin!

 

Short term:

Wind shield (spider webbed right in front of the driver)

Front seats (both are bad, driver's seat is down to the frame/springs)

Valve cover gaskets (both leaking)

New fluids throughout

New front axles (passenger side is clicking, drivers side boot is badly ripped)

Pressure wash underbelly and engine bay

Exhaust leaks

 

Medium term:

15" wheels and tires

Radiator

Rear seats (cracking but not in bad shape)

Interior clips and fasteners

Clutch return spring

Stereo replaced

"Bowl of oatmeal" shifter slop fix

Rear disk conversion (if a donor car appears)

Acquire parts for engine/transmission swap

Address rust and paint

Driver side left seat rail

Shifter boot

MSD

 

Long term:

Engine swap (either rebuilt EA-81 or an EJ-22, not sure if carbed or Megasquirt)

DR5MT swap (if EJ-22 then possibly the EJ transmission . . . maybe)

Supercharger

LSD

Dash


Edited by iceageg, 03 January 2017 - 11:25 AM.


#2 iceageg

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 11:56 AM

New front seats are in.  My wife and I went to one of the local yards and simply walked around until we found replacement seats in good condition with the correct dimensions.  We were hoping the XT seats would be in good shape (the XT6 seats we used in our 85' hatch worked awesome) but they were trashed.  We did luck out finding a late 80s Honda Accord with front seats that looked new and were a brown that is close to the color of the existing interior.  So . . .

 

This
20160920_153756.jpg

Got replaced with these

20160918_105928.jpg

 

 

For those who have never done it the existing seats come out with four bolts.  The rails themselves are bolted to the bottom of the seat with four phillips head M8x1.25 machine screws.  It is just a matter of fabricating some brackets to connect whatever seat you want to use to the original seat rails.  The XT6 seats we used from on our previous hatch actually sat lower than the stock seats and fit just about perfect.  These Honda seats have a thicker cushion and sit significantly higher but there is still enough head room for me at 6'2".  The cushions are also longer giving the impression of the seat being farther forward than before.  I may pull them out and modify the brackets to be lower and more to the rear but for now it is a DRASTIC improvement as you can see from the pictures above.

 

I also found out that the driver side left seat rail was slightly bent.  I'll be on the casual lookout for another one of those.



#3 two85s

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 10:57 PM

Looks really sweet!  Looking forward to your project. :popcorn:



#4 sparkyboy

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 03:09 AM

Very cool car! And yes, Subarus are the best winter car! I swapped an ej22 into my girlfriends 86 GL. Yours will be sick with an ej!

#5 el_freddo

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 06:05 AM

Nice hatch! A mate "over here" has one that he's repairing back to an acceptable state. I'd love so source a rear half cut for him but that'll be literally impossible!

As for engine mods, go the EJ with a factory wiring loom cut down. I did mine in my L series and it's the duck's guts! (Good thing!).
Add a super charger into the mix and you'll be glad you went with the ej22. My mate with the hatch actually did this build with his and offroaded it pretty hard! Now he's trying to save it from the dreaded rust cancer :(

Look after it! They're certainly a unique Subaru!

Cheers

Bennie

Edited by el_freddo, 23 September 2016 - 06:06 AM.


#6 iceageg

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 06:00 PM

New battery, terminals and ground cable.  Nothing picture worthy but the old battery was shot.  Hopefully it was not shot because the alternator is bad.  If so it just gives me a reason to pick up a Maxima/Pathfinder alternator to upgrade.



#7 iceageg

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 06:49 AM

I found an old Pioneer CD player in my pile of parts so I replaced the crappy aftermarket tape deck.  A dramatic improvement.  On a side note, I do still have the stock radio/tape deck combination.  I have no idea if it works.  Free to anybody who wants it in the Denver area.  Not sure what it would cost to ship.



#8 iceageg

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Posted 18 October 2016 - 08:02 AM

New valve cover gaskets and cleaned about 1/2" of greasy road grime off of the valve covers.  No new drips anywhere I have parked in the last 24 hours AND I see shiny blue in my otherwise filthy engine bay.  Time to find a pressure washer.

 

I also figured out why that CD player was in a pile of parts.  Once it is powered on for a couple minutes it shuts itself off.  That's why we took it out of my wife's pathfinder in the first place. Soooo, off to find a new head unit.



#9 iceageg

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 08:07 AM

I purchased two new front axles to replace the clicking and torn ones I have.  Turns out one was 25 spline (incorrect) and one was 23 spline.  I replaced the one that was clicking badly and will be returning the other.  Since I had a little extra time (didn't have to do the second axle) I decided to dissemble and clean all of the grease out of the old axle.  With the boots removed you can see all of the ball bearings and associated moving parts interacting.  It'll likely end up being one of my son's science projects.  Another generation of gear heads is growing!

 

Also, while I didn't do a full system flush but I did empty the radiator and refill it.  The crappy CD player has been removed also but nothing has replaced it yet.



#10 subaru4Life2988

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 01:18 PM

Love the hatch, I have one as well in Michigan. Not sure how much you care about having a CD player bit a lot of companies are making "mechless" audio players for cars... they don't have a cd drive and if I remember correctly a CD player sits about and inch or so out of the dash to clear the hvac vents. They look much nicer in the dash and most have sd card slot, USB slot and auxiliary plug in so if you really wanted to listen to cds you can run a portable player into the aux. hope this helps

#11 iceageg

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 02:58 PM

Yup.  I am already looking at various bluetooth radios.  The only reason I installed the CD player in the first place was that I had it in a random parts pile.  There are a number of reasonably priced 1/2 DIN sized head units out there now.  Just need to pick one and make it happen.  Thanks for the idea though.



#12 iceageg

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 11:18 AM

After replacing the leaky valve cover gaskets I still had an oil leak so a few days ago I pressure washed what portions of the engine I could get at so I could track down the remaining leak.  Turned out to be the oil pump which wasn't a huge surprise.  I picked up a rebuild kit and set about removing it.

 

I removed the belt, crank pulley, oil filter, disconnected the oil pressure sending unit, took out the four bolts, gave a tug and it didn't want to come off.  No worries, a chisel between the block and pump, a couple gentle taps from a hammer in various directions until the gasket surfaces barely started to separate then back to tugging and felt the sort of wiggle/shift you would expect.  A little more force and I was rewarded by a crunching sound and what was my leaking oil pump cracked apart in four pieces.  The external casting was intact but the half of the pump that goes into the block was cracked into 3 pieces.  If you are familiar with the design, the housing that physically goes into the block had completely cracked off of the plate portion that bolts to the outer housing half.  The plate portion was also cracked in half the top portion at a slight diagonal.  Worst part, the housing portion with the o-ring

was STUCK in the block.

 

After a couple hours of trying various combinations of pliers, pry bars, using a torch to heat the block material around it, and a wide variety of offensive language I was unable to extract the remaining portion of the old pump.  In the end I had to remove the radiator, grill and half of the front support in order to gain enough room to drill/tap a hole in the offensive piece of what was now scrap aluminum large enough to thread in a -5 bolt.  Using a pry bar and a significant amount of force the scrap chunk of pump finally broke loose.  Once it broke loose it slid out quite easily.  At this point it was well past dark so I decided to call it a night on a successful note as I inspected my new paper weight and showered it with more colorful language.  Then I noticed something.

 

The piece that I had extracted from the engine was entirely covered with what appears to be a thin film of clear silicon on the exterior surface.  It has roughly the same consistency as dried RTV except is is much easier to remove.  It wipes cleanly off the surface with a swipe of my thumb.  I don't know what it is or why it would be used in that location but my suspicion is that it created a sort of vacuum lock between the two surfaces making them damn near impossible to separate.  I am fairly certain that the pump was already cracked/damaged prior to me starting the replacement because it took very little force for me to pull it apart.  Anyway, there doesn't appear to be any damage to the block or cam and the new pump has arrived.  Tonight I will clean up the surfaces and reassemble everything.

 

Has anybody else had this trouble with their oil pump before?  Does anybody know what the clear film of rubbery crap might have been?  With the o-ring and gasket beyond that I can't figure what the purpose of a sealant would be in that area.



#13 iceageg

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Posted 17 November 2016 - 08:11 AM

The new pump is in and I appear to be leak free.  While it was off I took the time to spray all of the bugs, pebbles and road grim out of the radiator fins.  Lots of schmutz removed so maybe it will bring temps down a bit next summer.  It never overheated but the needle did creep up when pulling hills on hot days.  There were lots of fins that were either damaged or flaked away at first contact so now i'm casually on the lookout for a replacement radiator.



#14 iceageg

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Posted 28 November 2016 - 10:11 AM

I've developed an intermittent starting issue recently that I've been trying to track down.  It would either start strong like there was no issue or do nothing.  No click, no dimming of the lights . . . it was as if the key was not turned at all.  Disconnecting and reconnecting the wires to the the starter worked sometimes to fix it but not always.  I ordered a new starter (3-4 days to be delivered) and decided I would try disassembling the existing one and see if cleaning it out would help me limp by until the replacement arrived.

 

I went to disconnect the leads once again.  For whatever reason as I leaned in I grabbed the wire instead of the connector on the starter first this time. The insulated male connector built into the starter for the switch signal fell off with almost no force at all.  The piece of copper that should have connected the inside of the starter to the interior portion of the insulated connector was snapped completely in two.  If I pushed the connector into the starter the two halves would touch under spring pressure and the starter worked, once the engine shook around a bit the connector would wiggle loose.  I use a small pair of needle nose pliers to reach in and bend the interior portion slightly towards the opening which improved the sprung tension and used a bit of rubber to wedge the connector solidly in place.

 

It worked 100% until the new starter came in.  Switched it out in the parking lot and got my core charge back from a dumbfounded sales guy in 10 minutes.  I love working on this car.



#15 iceageg

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:09 AM

As I stepped out of Ruby Sue the other day I heard a hissing noise from under the hood.  Turns out the radiator had developed a crack/hole where the fins meet the passenger side radiator end cap.  I decided to try my luck at the yard before laying down cash on a new radiator.  As luck would have it there was an 85 hatch with what appears to be a brand new radiator waiting for me.  I also grabbed the driver's side left seat rail since mine was bent.  Back on the road better than ever.



#16 el_freddo

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:34 AM

What was the condition of the hatch in the yard like?

 

It's got me wondering if they'd help out an Aussie hatch owner that needs a rear cut (mate of mine).

 

Sounds like you got a good score on the radiator!


Cheers

Bennie



#17 iceageg

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 01:38 AM

The interior is trashed.  I am going to go back and see if there are any interior trim pieces worth salvaging but the dash and upholstery were garbage.  I think the body panels were in good shape with all of the trim pieces, grill and front bumper all in tact.  While I did not look close, NOTHING rusts in Colorado.  I would not be surprised if there was little if any to be found.  I think I will go back and see if the engine turns freely and what condition the engine oil is in.  If it looks to be rebuildable I may pull it and start a slow build.  Somebody already took the carb but the rest of it is still there.  The entire drive train was still in tact as well with the wheels still bolted on.

 

The radiator still has clean stickers from the shop where it was purchased sticking to it.  I can't believe I got that lucky. 

 

As far as shipping to AUS my guess is it would be cost prohibitive.  I don't know if they have a policy about that but money usually talks and they are in the business of parting out cars.  I can snap some pictures if you like.  I'm not sure how much longer it will be there.



#18 iceageg

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 11:24 AM

When I returned the old radiator for the core charge I had a few extra minutes to wander the yard.  The result . . . Ruby has a new pair of shoes!

 

Before:

20161225_091916.jpg
 

After:

20161225_095915_1.jpg

 

The wheels are 16" steelies off of a 1996 Honda Passport.  I was hoping for 15's but these are what was at the yard the day I was there.  I read through several of the drilling threads before attempting it myself.

 

The tires are two pairs of very good condition 205/50 R16s.  Also not exactly what I wanted but the price point made them impossible to pass up.  In the future they will be replaced with something more befitting a subaru but for now they have WAY less road noise than the tires I removed and they don't rub.  Also, most of the shimmy/shake I had at speed is gone with the newly balanced wheel/tire combo, so that's a big win too.

 

They made the recent whirlwind road trip from Denver to SoCal and back without issue (as expected).



#19 iceageg

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 10:35 AM

Well, Rubie needs some serious work.  She is suddenly pouring water into cylinder #3.  I have not yet pulled the head so I am not sure if the head is cracked or the head gasket has is simply leaking into the cylinder.  I noticed the temp guage rising before she overheated so unless the previous owner treated her badly I should have avoided any substantial damage.  Best case scenario she needs a passenger side head gasket.  Worst case it's time to EJ swap.  I am looking at options to locally source replacement EA81 heads, a EA81 block to rebuild, or local EJ22 donor cars.  Anybody in the Denver area who might have the parts I'm looking for is encouraged to chime in!  I have compiled links and downloaded enough documentation that I am confident I have all of the information needed to do the EJ swap should it come to that.  That said, before I go back and re-read this small library of information I have assembled, am I forgetting anything that I would need for the EJ swap?

 

Running donor car (90-95, I forget which is most ideal)

Adapter plate

Studs for adapter plate

Exhaust (if I remember right there is a fitment issue with the Y pipe)

XT flywheel to redrill (optional)

Assorted EJ rebuild/repair parts as needed

and . . .

 

Working off memory that should be about it with a functioning donor car, correct?  Just trying to get my ducks in a row and budget my options before I start taking things apart.  Thanks in advance.


Edited by iceageg, 10 April 2017 - 10:45 AM.


#20 DaveT

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 11:46 AM

Unless you are hearing bad sounds, I'd probably try new headgaskets.

Thise old wagon wheel rims.... I had those. The only place that could balance them was a local Subaru dealer. Now I just have the oem ones with hubcaps.

#21 iceageg

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 12:06 PM

No noises.  Just a constant miss below 2000 RPM and the spark plug is wet and smells like coolant when I pull it.  No water in the oil which was my first pucker-moment concern.



#22 iceageg

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 10:24 AM

As of yesterday afternoon, there is water in the oil.  Ruby is parked.  Only drove a few miles in that state, no noises and no overheating so hopes are high that there is no permanent damage.  As much as I would like to do a full EJ swap timing makes that option a last resort.  Time to rebuild the EA.  I'll be ordering rebuild parts this week, pulling it next week and hopefully have it back on the road a few days later.

 

"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."
-John Lennon



#23 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 10:35 AM

Head gaskets on those are not that bad, but prepare for a fight with the intake manifold bolts, etc. Most likely one or more of them will snap off in the head so be prepared with left hand bits, and 8x1.25 thread inserts. 

 

Also thread insert the exhaust studs (10x1.25). I just get new studs from Subaru for the EJ's. If it has air injection spacer plates you can thread insert directly into the plates and put the stud in them instead of the aluminium head. 

 

GD



#24 iceageg

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 11:13 AM

Thanks for the heads up GD.  The plan at this point is to tare it down completely and rebuild it as a project with my son.  Hopefully he won't have to learn the misnomer "Eazy-Out" yet.



#25 DaveT

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 11:20 AM

Use a space heater, heat gun and a meat thermometer to get the entire engine close to nreal operating temperature. Then carefully work the bolts loose. I got some very crusty intake and headbolts out with this method. The egr pipe also.




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