Ok, first off, this is a long read. Like the title says, its a bedtime story on the patience and frustration required to keep these old girls on the road or any older vehicle for that fact and how sometimes, doing what we do by keeping these fantastic old cars on the road and running can at times leave you feeling demoralized and defeated but I think in part, that makes up a little of who we are as individuals and the type of people we really are. We are attatched to our little out dated and dying platform but no matter what, we will do everything we can to keep it going for as long as we can and this afternoon, all you want to do is burn it to the ground but at the crack of dawn tomorrow, you'll be out there throwing spanners around the shed, whistling a tune and happily working away on the old girl again. And I love this about car enthusiasts. After all, isn't this why we gather here? To share information, tips and the stories involved and the lessons learned along the way? If nothing else, I hope this inspires someone else to persist with their project at a time when they feel its kicking their arse and they just want to give up on it. All I have to say to that is, don't! The struggle and battle will be so much more worth it when its done and dusted. So yeah, this afternoon I was feeling like I was a one legged man in an arse kicking competition and my arse was the number one target.
Not sure if I'm a good story teller or not but I hope you enjoy the read.
If it wasn't for s@#t luck, I wouldn't have any at all.
I'd just like to say that in my defence, up until recently, Ruby had been getting a little neglected. My job involved me working away from home for weeks on end and when I did get home, it could be for 2 hrs as I passed through and did some washing or I might have been lucky and got 2 days off. Ruby had taken a back seat and it was really starting to tell and now with time on my hands, I could show her the TLC she deserved.
A few months ago little Ruby (1992 Subaru Brumby EA81 with 4 speed dual range), decided to start giving me some issues in the way of an intermittent vibration, most of the time it was barely noticeable but others... My god it was bad!!! Very nerve racking at 100 km/h coming into a bend over the crest of a hill and she decides to start shaking the crap out of you, let me tell you, my arse was puckered so tight that I could have rolled the car and my arse would have held me to the seat. No fancy racing seats or harnesses required. After that little exercise, I decided it was time to do something about it. Previous investigation revealed nothing and not being able to find anything visible from the outside or under neath, I settled on it being the old 4 speed transmission finally giving death throws. After all, 12 months and 6,000 km's ago, I was changing the gearbox oil in her and one of the little tabs that go with the syncro's fell out as well. I always check my oils for signs of metal but damn, that was a pretty visible sized piece of metal and definitely not something you want to see when changing the oil and a pretty sure sign that an imminent failure was approaching soon.
Having a wagon sitting up the back for the last 18 months with a good motor, 4 speed manual and the power steering in it that was bought to go into Ruby, I thought this was an appropriate time to just do the complete change over and problem solved. Knowing in the future that an EJ conversion is on the cards, I really wasn't intending on going to to much effort on the swap over and with life commitments, that could still be 6 to 12 months before the EJ project is finished. I pulled the old wagon out and got the old girl running, blew a bit of crude out of the exhaust, coughed, farted and smoked for a little but cleared up within a couple of minutes and sat there idling away beautifully (I would go and start it every few months, well, when ever I got the opportunity and it wasn't an easy thing to do, I had rigged up a external fuel pump and 5L container as the fuel pump in the car had died and it was being used as my parts storage shed both inside and on top of). Great, looking good so far. Grab the compression tester out, checked 3 out of the 4 cylinders, not great but it'll serve its purpose. In the process of doing this, I came across one spark plug that just did not want to come undone, oh well, no biggy, all the other cylinders have tested good enough to get me out of having to swap engines and Ruby's engine has more leaks than a sieve at the moment so I didn't really want to put it back in. Plus, this one is running beautifully and only has to last me 6 to 12 months. Lets just rip that sucker out as one complete package on the sub-frame and we'll get that plug out later. Got all new hoses and belts, new sump gaskets, rocker cover gaskets and the usual blah blah blah. Motor and gearbox is in and running, sweet, jobs done. Drove up the road and back to make sure everything was working as it should be, parked her up and put her back up on jack stands to finish off some other odd jobs.
In the process of waiting for some parts to turn up, I decided to investigate if Ruby's original motor had the 225mm flywheel to do the 5 speed conversion, after all, I've got everything I need stashed out back and wouldn't you know it, its the right flywheel. WooHoooo Jumps of joy and excitement After all, power steering, 2" lift plus all the other little things I've done and a 5 speed gearbox, it is definitely happy days at Al's place. That's it, pulling that motor and gearbox out again (Second time in 2 weeks) so I can put the 5 speed behind it while I get ready to do the EJ swap. Now, I know when I originally pulled Ruby's engine that it would have made sense to check it then rather than go to all the extra trouble of having to remove the engine and gearbox again but at the time, I was on a bit of a dead line and with that missed I could take my time and do it now. Conversion went like clock work, got everything in and wired up, started it breifly (I still had no exhaust attached after the conversion and it was dumping straight out of the header pipes and just a garden hose plugged into the radiator hose for a cooling system. Yeah I know, I was trained at Dog Auto's because we're ruff ), cycled it through the gears and the range box, everything is functioning perfectly, I have all gears and they are selecting smoothly and the clutch seems to be doing what its meant to. Now keeping in mind, this whole process is going on over the course of the last month in between life and other commitments and other work that is being performed on Ruby herself.
Now is when it all just turns to a large steaming pile of warm crapolla...
After slaving away and tidying up all manner of little odd jobs that needed to be taken care of, I finally got to the stage of filling Ruby up with water and firing her up and give her a little shack down on the jack stands and running her up to operating temperature. At first, everything seemed fine, motor just fired straight on up. No choke, the usual two pumps on the accelerator pedal and straight to life, very little throttle input to clear her throat and she just sat there idling away as nice as can be. The gearbox is changing nicely and the clutch is all good. Happy Days Feeling pretty chuffed with myself after the huge amount of work I had put in to her and to hear Ruby-Doo sitting there after a little fine tuning sounding better than she has ever done was music to my ears and the sign that I was almost at completion and Ruby and I could drive off into the sunset and life was just perfect
Oh crap... Hang on... WTF?? Why is there so much smoke pouring out of the exhaust still?? Hhmmmm... That doesn't look good... Ok, take a moment, breath and settle Al. You've just put a different exhaust on it and it really hasn't been run up to operating temperature before now, maybe there is oil in the exhaust from the previous engine, with all the rain we've had over the last couple of days, maybe its moisture in the system. Who knows?? Just give it a few minutes. Oh s@#t... Nope, that is definitely not something you want to see. Wander around to the back of the vehicle and pays closer attention to the smoke... Hhmmmm... Bubbles in the radiator, smoke having a sweet smell to it and upon closer examination it was actually massive amounts of steam and not the usual smell of burning oil. And when I say massive amounts of steam, I would have given a coal powered electricity plant a run for their money. Never in my 35 yr history of being around some form of engine have I seen something produce so much steam, to be honest, I never even thought it was possible BUGGER!!! (Not the actual word I used but you get my drift). And to top it off, in the hunt to try and find which cylinder may have blown through the gasket, I decided in my wisdom (And right here was where I went wrong, thinking I had any sort of wisdom) that now was a good time to get that pesky spark plug out and have a look at it as well. After soaking it in all manner of lubricants for several hours and running the engine up to almost operating temperature, I went to work on the plug. After much grunting and groaning to the point of feeling like I'd just turned my freckle inside out annnnnnd CRACK!!! Yeah, that loosened it... Oh... Wait... Maybe that loosened it a little to much... Just stripped the thread out of the head trying to undo the bloody plug .
So the bloody thing has now done a head gasket, stripped number 3 spark plug and now with the power steering pump in place, number three is a real pain in the arse to get at. Am starting to get the feeling of one of two things, either Ruby wants to die peacefully and left be or that she is rejecting the temporary heart transplant and wants her old engine back. Have already ordered a complete gasket set, will start stripping down Ruby's original engine tomorrow, re-seal it and for the third time I will remove the engine and put it back on there and see if I can have a bit better luck this time around. Yeah, she is testing my patience a little, well, lets be honest, a lot lately but I love my little s@#tbox... Ruby-Doo for life!!! I've got three motors sitting here, I'm damn sure I can piece together one good motor to keep you going you little b@#%h!!! You ain't quitting on me now, I'll tell you when you can die Ruby and it won't be happening on my watch.
On a side note, I scored what appears to be a 2 and 5/16th of an inch or just under a 60mm in real lingo inside diameter exhaust system that was made for an EJ converted Brumby. I was just going to cut it up and use it to relocate the cat but decided to fit the whole system in prep for the EJ conversion. Made a huge difference to note and performance, thinking maybe my old cat converter may have been on the way out and starting to block up. But the moral of the story is that at the moment while testing I'm not running the rear muffler box (modifying the brackets to get it to sit a bit nicer and fitting a joint for easy removal), it's running through the cat and exiting straight out of the mid section pipe just before the rear axle and god DAMN it'd be nice to leave it like that for awhile. I wouldn't like to drive far in her but she sure does make some beautiful music under revs and when you back it off LOL Hhmmmm, Now that I think about it. Probably not such a good idea, probably already upset the neighbours
Any way, I'm off to bed, I got to be up at daylight to pull an engine out. Have a great Sunday everybody