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My New Project - '87 Subaru GL Wagon

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Well removed the AC bracket and reconnected the bypass hose and solved the leak. The 1/2" or so of the metal tube was rotted!


Started to put back the AC condenser but it wasn't tightening and I ran out of light. Tomorrow I hope to get the rest reassembled and try to fire her up! Thanks for all the help.


Thanks too Kanurys... I agree that the paper gaskets are junk. I did use a paper gasket for the water pump out of necessity, but I did also coat both sides with some copper, high-heat RTV sealant... I was a little mad the kit didn't appear to have the oil pump, mickey mouse, gasket, and there were a lot of others I couldn't identify what they were. I'll keep them around for when needed, and in the mean time I think I got her sealed up enough to hold coolant so I can check how everything looks.

Edited by SubaruGL

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Well seems like I was successful! Fired up the wagon last night and it ran well, seemed to hold water too... The temperature gauge even started to register warmth. Now I'm having a problem keeping it idling, making it difficult to really heat it up good.


  • Upon start up I have to give it a little gas to keep it running and then SLOWLY let up on the gas pedal to get it down to idle.
  • After it starts to heat up the idle drops and she stalls.
  • If I rev it up and then let off the gas quickly, the rpm needle drops below idle and she stalls.
  • If I hold the pedal at just the right spot, I seem to be able to keep her purring.


A couple things of note.

  • One vacuum hose broke off the metal/green valve thing on the air intake, see vids if your connection is fast enough... but she was doing this before I did the service also.
  • When I rev her up I get a rather loud crackling noise.
  • I don't have the preheat hose from the exhaust up to the intake. I covered the exhaust port with some muffler tape for now. I did notice a little smoking and smell, but that could be from the dried fluids and/or degreaser.


Many thanks on ideas on what to try next! Videos below... sorry it was dark out.


Won't hold idle:



Another vid of giving gas and it stalling:



This is the "valve" I referred to, what is it? (I was having the same problems before the hose detached btw...)



She's running!


Edited by SubaruGL

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Ok so here are three more videos... Most important issue aside from the idle issue is smoke (smells like burning rubber) coming up from the exhaust. I previously thought it was from the heater hose outlet I taped up, but in the daylight it seems to be coming up from where the y pipe joins to the exhaust pipe... Any ideas on why this is or if I should not run the engine with this smell would be appreciated.


UPDATE: Let some of the crap burn off, put some SeaFoam I had kicking around (I swear by it!) into the carb and after a brief smoke show she seems to have the idle under control (see last video). It bogs a little when I hit the gas hard, but now I feel more comfortable buying tires and driving it some. I did notice the "charge" light came on. Not sure if the loose belt would do that. I'm guessing a new alternator will be needed too :/ My free car isn't so free anymore! But I can't wait to be able to use her regularly.


Starting up



Smoking while running (came out sideways, sorry)



Smoke from y pipe junction



UPDATE video... idling better:


Edited by SubaruGL
Fixed links and added update and update video.

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Not purring just yet, but running better.


Remaining symptoms, #1 & #2 may just be hitachi related:

1.) have to fiddle with accelerator to keep the car idling the first 20 seconds or so, otherwise she dies

2.) once the high idle kicks in and she warms up and the idle settles, depressing the gas too much, and really not much at all!, it wants to die... have to give it gas VERY gradually. Thinking this might have to do with too much much air. Going to look around for a used Weber setup that will be compatible.

3.) after a bit of idle, the CHARGE light did come on... after a bit more the "OIL TEMP" light came on... the latter concerns me the most.

4.) annoying noise (rattle) at about around 3-4k RPM... see video sound isn't the best sorry



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I have to do this with Ned (carburetor on an 86 GL Sedan)


Put the key to the on position (lights up on the dash etc)

Pump the gas 4-5 times.


Turn key to start (but dont touch gas)


RPMS SHOULD SHOOT UP to about 2k and then slowly keep climbing until you hit the gas pedal, then they will drop. When its cold, I usually let it run up to about 3100 rpms on its own, and when I look at my temp guage Im about 2/5s the way up and I can drive it without it chugging or stalling etc.


Maybe this will help.

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Thanks Rugby... I found that helped... but I'm running into a road block with more serious problems now I fear... trying to figure this out, but i did finally get her to idle and drive great for about 4 miles!


Luckily I don't have cold to deal with here. I appreciate the information.

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congrats on resurrecting your "free" car! :)


my first Subaru was an 89 GL wagon that I paid $150 for - then promptly sunk another $1100 into! :lol: BUT - I did drive that car for about 8 years with very little else put into it other than basic maintenance before the rust cancer took her out of commision!


the lights on the dash coming on - unless there other obvious symptoms of other problems - can very well be related to alternator problems - Very common symptom of the alt going south...loose belt can cause similar issues, but i would put my money on the alt.


4.) annoying noise (rattle) at about around 3-4k RPM


the noise you are hearing could possibly be heat shields rattling, and other than being annoying, wont hurt anything.

If it was a consistant sound, across the full rpm range, it would be more worrying, but the way you describe, sounds like heat shields to me (didnt listen to the vid)


good luck with her - once you get things sorted out, these old cars will run for darn near ever! :banana:

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Thanks for the help and feedback heartless!


Since I just found coolant in the air cleaner box, i think my noise is more than heat shields! :-\ Hoping its just new intake gaskets, without other damage... time will tell... gonna update my other thread and see if I get some more advice there.... thanks again too!

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so how's the wagon going?


Oh not good! :/ Got her new tires and took her on the maiden voyage... then she died. (posted some of the problems in another thread with photos and video)





She ran great and a noise developed. I jumped her and got her back. The next day I found coolant in the intake :( I've drained the oil (no coolant in there, no noticeable metal shavings) but I think I've spun a bearing. I took off the intake, cleaned things up, and new intake gaskets. Going to check the oil pump, redo timing, put in fresh coolant and oil, and give her a quick start.


I'm fearing that the noise will still be there but hoping I get lucky. I always wanted to rebuild an engine, but wasn't hoping to so soon! Should have a few parts here tomorrow and hoping to get to restart her by Friday night or Sunday morning!



Thanks for checking with me! I'm learning a lot but still have a lot to learn lol

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True but the good thing is its always summer here :) (Florida)... bad thing is there is very little Subaru enthusiasts/salvage parts! An engine swap is sooo tempting!

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