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8-Bit Racing '87 RX

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We are a LeMons Race team and have started campaigning a '87 RX. Originally, we raced an '84 300zx for 6 races in the past couple years but we are all Subaru Owners ('05 STi, '00 RS, '06 STi, '12 BRZ) and because Subaru Cars/Motors are not very common in LeMons, we wanted to try and raise it to contention. We also wanted something that had not been raced yet in LeMons and both the XT/XT6 and RX have not.

So earlier this year, we picked up an RX. It was the RX in Bend, OR. (You can see my '05 STi there too).


You might remember that it had an MPFI NA motor swapped in.


And was generally an Oily Mess

With some rust spots too



Well, we ended up picking up a 2nd motor (Turbo from a 90 Loyale Wagon) but it too had some issues:






Well, we put together various parts to put it back into its Turbo form and we managed to make if to the 2nd day of the last race of the season at Sonoma Raceway this past weekend and went from Start to Finish!!!!





Here is list of picture albums of our build of the engine/car/roll cage. While it was our 7th Race, it was our first time putting any engine together and our first time building a roll cage.

Theme Material

First Work Weekend
Taking Apart Turbo Engine
Pulling the NA Engine from Car
Pulling Interior
Further Engine Work
Engine Rebuild
Cleaning Up Sound Deadening Material
Seat, Steering Column
Roll Cage: Part 1
Originally I was planning to make posts on everything that we have done but it has been a whirlwind of work for the past month to get the car ready and so this first post will be just a history of what we have done to the car. Hopefully in 2014, I can make more posts as we fix/modify the car. 
I also have some interior and AC parts that I am hoping to sell.
Thanks to a couple members on here who sold me various parts for the car. They worked out great! And thanks to USMB as it has been a great resource.

Thanks for looking and have a great new year!


Edited by pghiocel
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That is a good question. Our next race will probably be in May at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, so I have quite a few months to further work on the car before that race.
So my initial plans it to investigate the oil leak we had (I believe it is part from the engine and part from the power steering pump) and get the car legal. Once I do that, I might get it aligned and I'll find out how much it weighs.



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Fair enough.


What kinda boost are you running or is pretty much stock. Your links are kind of a pain to navigate on mobile.

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Fair enough.


What kinda boost are you running or is pretty much stock. Your links are kind of a pain to navigate on mobile.


Right now it is an entirely stock EA8T. But we plan to slowly upgrade the car as budget permits (after every race, you tell the judges/organizers how well you did and what if anything broke and they usually give you some sort of budget (under $500) to fix and prepare the car for the next race.


Our plan is to eventually use an Intercooler and TD04 with the 2 EA82 engines that we have. Once we have had some success (or failures) with those 2 blocks, we will probably have enough of a budget to switch to an EJ22T or EJ25 which will give us a far better hp-to-weight ratio. The suspension is also very soft on the car right now so we will have to also work new shocks and perhaps a little lowering or stiffer springs.



where did you get the graphics at 


The painting was actually done by us using Rustoleum Paint (after a few restoration welds around the window and a couple of panels) and alot of Painter's Tape. Use Frog Tape for very detailed sections where typical Painter's Tape might leak on the edge. I'll get you the paints we used. We based it off the Safari Rally Kenya pictures we saw on the internet and a book that I bought on Subaru Rally. I can post pictures and links if you don't see them on our facebook page.


I also plan to learn how to develop some decals (Marlboro, Kenwood, etc). I'd also like to get some reproduction RX decals. I found Retroroo's website but he hasn't responded to me yet (I assume he is busy).

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The Organizers and Judges really liked the car so much that they made mention of it in their Post-Race Wrap Up Video!!!
Go to about 45 seconds in to see our 15 seconds of glory! 

Edited by pghiocel

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I'm sure I saw eristic gasket set somewhere in the pictures. Any thoughst of it's quality ? I ordered one for my rebuild altought I'm not using the headgaskets from it.

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I'm sure I saw eristic gasket set somewhere in the pictures. Any thoughst of it's quality ? I ordered one for my rebuild altought I'm not using the headgaskets from it.


So we ended up getting 3 gasket sets:


- Subaru OEM Gasket Set (for alot of odd and rare gasket pieces)







And then off of Ebay,we bought two kits (I think both with Timing Belt kits)


- Eristic

- Evergreen


The Eristic seems great and very similar in quality to the Subaru OEM gasket set. We were pretty happy with it.

We will probably not get the Evergreen one.


What headgaskets are you using? Good luck with your build!

Edited by pghiocel

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Thanks for the info. I feel better now thmybuild is at I know it won't be a total waste of money that eristic set.


I'm going to use OEM or Fel Pro permatorque headgaskets. There is always a chance I'll be using a custom made copper oens with fire rings in them if I get rich enough before the spring comes.


But since my build is budget build with a long time period I think I might even try the eristic ones with my second engine first. I've used payen graphite head gaskets once and they did not last long even that the block and heads was redurfaced. Changed OEM ones in and lasted as long as the car was with me.

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Good to see another leone/rx getting flogged! It's nice a group of Soob guys got the "first rx" title.


Any plans to come out to autobahn?


I'm hopefull to see the track in mine this year as well.


Good luck to you guys!

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I am not too sure about Autobahn. LeMons is there July 26 & 27 and rumor is that it will be a full 24 hours day & night race (Despite the name, most LeMons races are really just during the day Saturday and Sunday). 

So I'd really like to make the trek out there for the 24 hour race but I am only going to make one long distance trip and we were thinking about going to The Ridge Motorsports Park in Washington the week before.


I guess I will see how I do with funds next year. And of course I need to get the car smog legal so I can drive it (I don't own my own truck & trailer).

It is really a shame that the previous owners swapped out the EA82T as it originally came from California. Oh well :(

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i have a race built ea82t in wa running 15psi w tmic and bov in my garage that needs a new home. i dunno how the budget regs would ding you though. 

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So we are planning to attend the LeMons race at the end of the month at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
If you are in the area and want to watch crappy cars with rediculous themes zoom around or rust in the paddock, feel free to stop on by.

I am making a tshirt for our team. Initial Version

Here are some pictures of us updating the roll cage and building a new engine. 
Album: http://imgur.com/a/89V9O

Installing Radio
Updating Rollcage for 2014 Rules
We aren't going to retheme the car for this race.
We will be adding some new decals and touching up the paint next weekend.
I was able to get a 2nd set of Peugeot 15" rims
New Lugs thanks to @4x4brat
Oily mess from broken CV boot from last race
The Broken CV Boot
New CV Boot & Axle

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Some Gen 3 Heads to clean
Meanwhile we took the old engine out of the car.
Short Block ready for heads
More Head Cleaning
Done (note the marks from some previous carnage, maybe piston rings)
Where the cleaning happens
The valves ready to go in.
Longblock Kind-of-Assembled
Ops. Need to fix this....

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Miller Motorsports Park Race Report



So earlier this month, we took the RX to race at Miller Motorsports Park.

This was the 2nd race for the RX and the first with a newly built motor.

Most California Races usually have over 150 cars, so this race having a relatively "low" number of cars at 68 meant we were going to have little competition in Class C.


We added a new started switch (the key would wiggle in the ignition and turn off the car)



Cool suit cooler for comfort and extinguisher for safety



We spent Friday breaking in the engine. I kept it under 4k RPMs and genetly went up and down the revs.


With the new engine, we started finding a water leak of sorts. In between test sessions on Friday, we kept checking and verifying that the water lines to the Turbo were no leaking.



The engine bay



One of my teammates showcasing our new shirt while my other teammate helps me look for the water leak



Close up of the shirt



Of course, we were also double checking that the radiator was filled.

Later in the day, we finally manage to track down the leak, it was the top turbo line but at the manifold and NOT at the turbo.

We also replaced the rear diff fluid.


At tech inspection




Now all thru testing Friday, Oil Pressure and Water Temp looked great. I still have not had time to add the usual engine telemetry (Oil Temp, Water Pressure, etc)

so we were just going by what the RX was telling us. I was paying alot of attention to Oil Pressure. It was at about 45PSI around 3k RPM and seemed to be doing the 10 PSI per 1k RPM rule.

Water Temp was solid.


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Well Saturday Morning comes along and we change the oil. We had used Engine Breaking Oil (high in Zinc) and wanted to switch to regular Oil for the actual race.


I am the first driver in the car and I usually spend the first few laps (which are under full course Yellow) to shake down suspension, brakes, engine, tires.

Brakes seem a little soft but nothing unusual, Water Temp looks fine. Oil Pressure is a little low... hmmm.


2 Laps go by and the Oil Pressure isn't going higher. In fact, it is going lower. First Lap, well over 45, 2nd lap can't get more than 40, 3rd lap 35, 4th lap 30 psi.

I radio in that Oil Pressure isn't looking too good. As I come down the straight away, I see the pressure go down to 20 and I think to myself that something is wrong and I need to bring the car in.

Problem is that the exit from the East Configuration is right before the last turn of the straight-away, I would have to go one more lap.

As I continue down the straight away, I see the Green Flag wave! The Race is on! 68 Cars, 4 Drivers per Car, all watching the start of the race weekend.

Our RX putting down the straight. I try to get on the gas for the first turn. BOOM. A poof of smoke and the engine stalled. I had barely made it around the 1st turn and we were done.


Cars it towed back into the pits and we pop the hood. We all focus on a cap. A radiator cap that was sitting next to the radiator. OMG we just blew up our newly built engine because of user error.

It turns out we had boiled all the water, Water Temp never go water so it never read hot. A Water Pressure Idiot Light or maybe double checking our radiator cap might have saved us such an embarrising mistake.


After we cooled the car and put water back in, our worst fears were confirmed: bad knock meaning probably broken/melted rings and bearings.


So what can we do? Well there are two Subarus near Salt Lake City, a 92 Loyale and an 87 GL. Lets go look if we can fish a new short block! So at 10:30 in the morning, we are off to the junkyard.


The first is a 92 Loyale and it looks absolutely perfect on the outside. I say "uh oh this car looks too perfect". See Cars only make it to a junk yard for 2 reasons: Broken Internals or a Smashed Body.

I was hoping for the later. After opening the hood, we see an oily mess of an MPFI EA82. Oil and Dirt just everywhere out of every hole. It had 300k miles on it.

Time to go look at the 87 GL!


We get to it and it has a crashed front quarter panel. We open it up, SPFI Carbeurated EA82. A bit dusty, broken timing belt, but no oil leaks. 140k miles.

Lets pull us an engine!





We get the engine out and pull off the heads. A bit of an issue because one of the bolts that holds the cams to the heads on each side was rusted. Had to hammer an 11mm on. But after they come off, it looks great in there. No head gasket issue, cylinder walls look great. Engine turns over.





We also took a bunch of bolts with us.



We make it back to the pits while other cars are turning laps. A Masserati Bi-Turbo turned 3 laps and then died, everybody said "Well at least you did more than the Subaru". We were determined to prove otherwise.


While I and another of my race car drivers pulled the engine out of the RX,


the other two drivers went to work cleaning the short block we got from the junkyard.




Having gotten the engine out, we moved onto dismantling and building the new engine.




My engine building station



And we are done! Ready to put the new hybrid engine back in and see if it runs! We are all pretty tired and so I make the decision to wait until the next morning to put the engine in. Having missed all of Saturday, we aren't winning any race and certainly don't want to make another "radiator cap" mistake.


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Next morning we put the engine in




And send one of the other racers out.




And we go! 1 lap, 2 laps, 3 laps... the entire rest of the day in fact.


We even take the checkered!



80 laps! Better than our first race last year at Sonoma Raceway where we made 64 Laps. I'll take it. Also we were not in last place and in fact could have over taken 2 other cars if we had been a little faster at switching drivers thru out the day.


But what this? Will we win an award? 


We certainly didn't win Class C. A 1973 Porsche 914 won that by 95 Laps over 2nd place in C Class.


Not Heroic Fix. That went to a team whose trailer caught on fire, their tow vehicle started having paneling peel away which they had to duct tape. Then when they got to the track and raced, their car lost its transmission. 


Not Organizers Choice. That went to a 1980 BMW 320 which was done up as an M1


Not I Got Screwed Either. That went to 1980 Rover SD1. A Rare Car no doubt that would have easily won another major award if it wasn't for so many rare cars racing in this series.


Each race has a specific award to that track and for MMP, it was "Miracle of the Gulls Memorial Trophy" (in honor of Utah's Mormon Heritage). This went to 1973 Jensen Healey that also blew up its engine, a Lotus Twin-Cam thing FAR FAR MORE RARE than our EA82. Surely there was no replacement even within 1000 miles of Salt Lake City, or there could be one 50 yards away in some rented garage. True Miracle.


We weren't going to win Index of Influency as we just didn't do well enough. It went to a 1950 Dodge Truck which ran the whole weekend.


It turns out we are awarded Judge's Choice for continuing to bring the RX to LeMons races and our effort to bounce back from an aweful first-turn first-lap in front of everybody engine melt down.




In fact, one of the Judges was testing out a 2015 Impreza Sport and wanted to take a photo with the RX for his article.


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This weekend, we race again. This time in hot hot Buttonwillow, CA. Temperatures are supposed to be close if not over 100.


So here is to hoping that 3rd time will give us the good luck to run all weekend.

We are still running the 9:1 compression motor with turbo.

Hopefully running race gas and an oil cooler will help keep it from detonating.

I also managed to remove the Hill Holder and put in a new Master Cylinder.





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Good luck this weekend, keep us updated! Awesome never say die attitude with the motor oops too.

Are you guys going to race thunderhill and sonoma later this year?

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Mate, hats off to you for your effort!  That's real commitment even after that embarrassing break down - I think many would have just gone home straight off the bat from that blow out!

Also, either your oil pressure sender unit is reading low or you have a low oil issue.  I remember the EA82 pumping out about 60psi from 2750rpm onwards.  What does the new block push?

That new block is just an NA Carb block - no SPFI there.  So with that block you'll be running a higher compression too :D

All the best for the next event!



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