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pontoontodd

long travel Outbacks or making Subarus faster and more reliable offroad

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21 hours ago, slammo said:

Sano switch panel. Yes, starting with a rust free body and reinforcing it before it starts breaking seems like a great strategy. Do you think you'll put the electric jacks in the new build? Seems like a lot of weight for little gain. 

Not all that sano but it works.  Had to use the starter button and the ignition key simultaneously to start it once today.  Would really like to fix that problem but don't know what else to try.

I can't see using the electric jacks on another car.  They are very convenient but as you say they're pretty heavy.  Also you basically have to have some kind of cage to mount them to and definitely makes the car a two seater.

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On 8/14/2020 at 7:45 PM, Lizardfungus200 said:

Yeah, a 6 cyl would be better on gas, more reliable, more controllable power. 

I already have an EZ30 in the 99.  Not sure if the EZ36 would be better on gas but probably more reliable because it would be newer and should be more power and low end torque.

On 8/23/2020 at 12:50 PM, Lizardfungus200 said:

What wheels are you using and what is the load rating?

We've got the 90s five spoke 15" Legacy/Outback alloy wheels on most of our cars.  They seem to last a long time as long as you're not running them on flat tires.  The six spoke "bottle cap" wheels are supposedly stronger.  B has been using thick (~0.2" thick) steel wheels on his Forester.  They're about as strong but much heavier.

One of the big advantage of the aftermarket 15" wheels is that you can fit bigger brakes, like the ones on the turbo cars and 2000+ Outback.

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A, B, and Z met at my house and we headed west a few weeks ago with my 99 Outback and B's Forester.  Drove past grasslands in South Dakota but didn't check them out, should on another trip.  Tried some short side roads/trails near Badlands NP.  Z wanted to camp along this ridge with 100 other RVs. 

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We didn't go in Badlands as it's fairly expensive so we went to the black hills in SW South Dakota.  Z found a campground on the ultimate campground app and used the google directions which sent us down a rough, rocky, narrow trail. Sections of it were high exposure along a narrow ledge. As we got closer to the campground the trail became steep downhill. We considered turning around but we were getting close to a major (gravel) road. The trail was quite rough, rocky, and washed out and it was dark. We got to a large tree blocking the trail and decided to camp there for the night. We cooked food, setup camp, and joked (?) about how we'd have all week to get out one way or another.

The next morning we took a closer look at the large fallen tree. We probably could have cut more branches off of it and gotten underneath with some digging. There were a couple more fallen trees we would have had to deal with but they weren't as bad.  We walked up the hill and decided that would be the way to try to get out.

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We sent B first figuring he could pull me up the more difficult obstacles. We had to stack some rocks for him in a couple spots. I then drove the Outback up the whole way nonstop, poking a small hole in a sidewall in the process. I plugged it but it kept leaking slowly so we just swapped it out later.

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We drove around the black hills.

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Then we headed to the Bighorn mountains in WY. Spent a couple days camping and driving around there – awesome scenery, decent trails with some small jumps, not a lot of dead ends.

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This was a good few days of trail riding with varied scenery from wooded mountains to Utah like deserts.  Drove through western WY almost to Yellowstone and then north into Montana.

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This part of Montana basically had a bunch of dead end roads heading south off 90 into the mountains north of Yellowstone. We took one of them and camped at a small campground along a river.

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We headed farther south the next morning. Stopped at natural bridge falls which was awesome, would be good to see in the spring.

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From there the road turns to gravel and gets gradually rougher/rockier and passes a bunch of ranches. Eventually it turns into a consistently rocky road with some climbs. Saw some old mining cabins.

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At Independence Z walked ahead while we were stacking rocks and saw a no motorized vehicles sign so we turned around. Would be interesting sometime to take the trail to Independence/Blue Lake. This was the roughest ~5-10 miles of trail we've probably ever driven. On the way back out one of B's castle nuts fell off a ball joint, the threads on the stud were wiped out. We swapped it out and continued.

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Drove back up to 90 and decided to head back east. Considered heading farther west into Montana and Idaho but would have had 2-3 days of solid highway driving at the end if we'd done that. We headed back down towards the Bighorns.  We stayed at a campground along a little stream with no one else in it.

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The next morning we drove to the ice cave which is ~32F year round despite recent weather in the 90s. There are apparently ice stalagmites and stalactites at times but none of any significant size when we were there.

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The parking lot has a picnic area with great views.

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We trail rode through this northern part of the Bighorns and eventually got to the Pryor mountain area which had one of the best views of the trip.

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Then we drove through a BLM wild horse area and saw at least a half dozen groups of them.  At one point we stopped to tighten some suspension bolts and make sandwiches and at least two groups of wild horses walked by within 30' of us. 

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We eventually got to a sign which said “4x4 high clearance short wheelbase vehicles only” pointing in the direction of the trail we'd just come out.

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Drove some more trails in Wyoming and went to Black Mountain.  Views from the top were awesome despite the smoke. Drove back down and found a campsite along a gravel road to stay the night. In the morning a mother and fawn mule deer walked through our site and some medium sized black and white birds were almost eating out of B's hand. At this point we only had about 1.5 days to get back to my house so Z and A could get home at a reasonable hour so we mostly drove on the highway but we did cut through the Black Hills again. We went to Mount Roosevelt which is an easy walk with a lookout tower you can walk to the top of with a decent view. On the way there we'd seen some side trails. One of them went to Deadwood on my GPS so we decided to see if that would go through. It did but the last half mile or so was quite steep downhill with loose rocks.  From there we drove home on the highway, stopped to camp at a big campground in MN which was fortunately pretty quiet.

Overall a good trip, the heat and smoke put a bit of a damper on things but we had no major mechanical problems, good scenery, saw some wildlife, and drove a lot of trails.

For some reason we didn't have the problems with low speed climbing in the 99 we were having in southern IL.  I think it must have just been getting heat soaked there with the constant stopping and idling.  Also had to use the start button quite often on the last trip, I'm guessing the ignition switch or the wiring to it is failing.

Edited by pontoontodd
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Last weekend B and I did a little shock tuning, changed the oil and filter, installed a different TPMS, and replaced a tie rod on the 99.

Also test assembled the low range for the 6MT.  So far so good but still a ways to go.  That will really make my 99 a lot more usable.

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Gorgeous scenery, no doubt! Very much how I remember it. I'll have to make a trip back to that area again, someday soon. Awesome.

I can't imagine the wiring harness being any more complicated or different than the one I just pulled out of my WRX? There are two major splits through the a-pillars where you had all the body flexing and breakage in the past... makes me wonder if your problem is there from previous damage or repair (weld slag?). Wiring issues rarely occur anywhere other than at the ends (connection points), but on your car, it's certainly possible you have damage somewhere in-between. If so, I imagine it will be visible damage to the outside of the harness.

Looking forward to hearing more about this low range; something many folks would be interested in for their Subaru.

K

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One of the tires on the 99 OB after our last trip.

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Back to our regularly scheduled head gasket issues.  This is a Subaru forum after all.

The 2002 has been running hot occasionally and bubbling like crazy in the overflow reservoir, blew out a little coolant hose behind the PS pump a while back, so head gaskets are almost definitely bad.  Also often hesitates/stumbles/misfires for the first half second you stomp on the gas, which is especially annoying with an engine without much low end torque to begin with.

After considering various options I decided to replace the engine in my 2002 Outback with a low mileage Japanese engine.  I know they power wash them but this might be the cleanest EZ30 I've ever seen, on par with the one in my 2001.

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Maybe they blasted it with solvent but the oil fill neck is probably the cleanest one (only clean one?) I've ever seen.

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Before we put it in, we replaced some coolant hoses, oil cooler gasket, the spark plugs, and valve cover gaskets.  Glad I replaced the spark plugs.  This one appears to have corroded in half.

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One mistake we made last year when putting the engine and trans in together from the parts car was not loosening, anti seizing, and retightening the bellhousing bolts.  Took a long time to get those all out since we were just pulling the engine this time.  Fortunately the torque converter bolts were pretty easy. 

Fortunately the JDM and USDM EZ30 are nearly identical.  The AC compressor is different but I left that connected to the car.  The vacuum fitting for the brake booster is on the wrong side of the intake manifold.  There is a plug on the driver's side. I couldn't get it loose with tools so I welded a steel bar to it and then snapped the end of the plug off.  So we just ran a longer vacuum hose to the booster.

2/3 of the EZ30s I own.  3/4 of these have head gasket leaks, well hopefully just 3/4.

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Fired right up and seems to run well, no obvious leaks.  Hesitation/stumble mostly gone.  Hopefully this one lasts more than a year.

Edited by pontoontodd

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Well predictably I guess the JDM EZ30 we put in my 2002 OB seems to have a slightly head gasket leak.  It runs a little above the middle of the temp gauge when it's under load for a little while.  It does drop back down to the middle without turning the AC off or anything but it's only been in the 80s(F) and this is just driving around town.  Seems fine on the highway but off pavement is usually a higher duty cycle with lower airspeed.  So I'm considering replacing the head gaskets on it.  On the plus side it should be low mileage so maybe then it would last many years???

Open to any suggestions on what else I could check.  The check engine light was on for a few days but isn't on any more.  It's been running fine.  It NEVER ran above the middle for the last three or four years, so it's definitely not normal.

 

We did some work on B's Forester.  It definitely had a slight head gasket leak on our trip out west.  We took out the engine and he'd prepped a cleaner intake manifold with some new gaskets.  The heads and block seemed flat and everything looked good so we just cleaned the surfaces and replaced the head and valve cover gaskets.  We adjusted the valves too while it was out.  One of the CV axles had started to click so we replaced that.  Also put in a new clutch while it was out, the old one seemed fine but hopefully the engine and trans will stay in the car for a few years now.  We got done early so we replaced all his brake pads and he cleaned up the ridges on the front rotors and we rotated the tires.

 

99 OB has popped out of reverse a few times now.  Trying to mock up and finish the low range for the 6MT so I can just swap in a different trans and not have it out of the car multiple times or for a long period of time.

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Check radiator.  Sounds like its running a fairly consistent temp but can’t dump enough heat - could be slightly plugged

I’m assuming a few things since we don’t have a fuller description but original factory installed ez30 Hgs rarely do what you’re describing without additional symptoms or details. If they were just replaced that changes things. 

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15 hours ago, idosubaru said:

Check radiator.  Sounds like its running a fairly consistent temp but can’t dump enough heat - could be slightly plugged

I’m assuming a few things since we don’t have a fuller description but original factory installed ez30 Hgs rarely do what you’re describing without additional symptoms or details. If they were just replaced that changes things. 

Put in a new Denso radiator last summer.  When we had it out it looked pretty clean, I think one of my friends blasted it out with the garden hose but I don't think it even looked like it needed that.  Put in a new thermostat and radiator cap from Subaru when we put the JDM engine in.  Both fans run when it's hot.

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31 minutes ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

on our cars, 2-speed fans right? maybe some temp sensor is not signalling for high speed????

Yes, two speed.

Maybe I could plug in a spare temp sensor and heat it up or just short the wiring to see if the fans run on high.  Or unplug the fans and check voltage once it gets hot, make sure both sets of windings on both fans are getting power. 

Before we replaced the engine the last time (a year or two ago?) it was just running uncontrollably hot on the highway on one trip though, so I don't think that was fan related.

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54 minutes ago, travelvw said:

On an engine that's 20 years old, replace the head gaskets before you put it in the car.

K

Apparently.  I was hoping since it was a low mileage jdm engine it would be good.  Also it’s quite a job to replace head gaskets on these engines.  

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We were at our friend's place just outside of town testing the suspension on the black 99 Outback after putting in some different valving. Think it's better, need to review the video. For sure there are two jumps that if you hit going away from the road at the right speed, you can land on the ramp of the second one and bounce off it and get pretty good air. When I did that a month ago it landed really hard. This time it soaked it up much better when landing flat. May not have bounced as high, either way that seems like an improvement. So while we're getting video our friend runs over and comes flying back in his RZR (?2013 XP1000). By this time I'd stopped so we watched him make a few laps. He was hitting the jumps and whoops about as hard as I was. It might take the whoops better than my car but I think my car took the jumps more level.  I followed him in the Outback. I was able to hit the jumps and turns about as fast as him but the golf cart definitely accelerates harder. Then he started weaving between the various jump ramps. I was able to almost keep up through there but I his shorter wheelbase and better power to weight allowed him to get through faster.

We did some more test fitting of the 6MT low range and came up with a plan to proceed.

Did some test bends with B's bender, works pretty nice. Bent up a front bumper template out of some conduit. Will probably fab up a real one out of 4130 next weekend.

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RZRs are definitely rear-heavy, but have pretty impressive suspension, even a 2013. If you even came close to matching that performance in a Suby I'm downright impressed. Nice work!

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1 hour ago, pressingonward said:

RZRs are definitely rear-heavy, but have pretty impressive suspension, even a 2013. If you even came close to matching that performance in a Suby I'm downright impressed. Nice work!

Yeah I was a little surprised.  We did get a little video I’ll probably post on YouTube eventually.  I think they have about 50% more travel than our cars. Our friend who owns the rzr has ridden in my Outback and says it rides about as good as his rzr. The rzr is definitely much easier to roll over though!

Edited by pontoontodd

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B recently bought a tubing bender and some dies.  He's wanted a round tube bumper for a while.  We did a couple test bends with EMT (conduit) last weekend.  Got the fit he wanted and figured out the bender.  Conduit is much cheaper and easier to bend than 4130.

So we bent a couple tubes and B fit the long tubes for mounting to the car.  We fit some short tubes and tacked it all together on the floor square.

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Put it on the car against some mounting plates we'd made, leveled it out, tacked it together.  Marked the ends to cut for tire clearance.  Took it off the car and mitered the ends.  Welded receivers to the mounting plates for better connection and winch and jacking options.

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He also added some lateral support for the ends.  I welded as much as I could with it on the car and then finished welding off the car.

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Still need to add hoops for the stock lights and more tabs for light bar(s).  Then get it coated.

We also turned some parts for more long travel struts.  Upgrading B's and making new sets for slammo and Z.

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We bent up some hoops to protect B's lights.  Made them big enough the lights can still come out without removing the bumper.

First we just made a U (left) but then figured angling the one tube to follow the angle of the headlight made it a little more sano.  Tacked one up to get the fit we wanted (second from left) then bent a couple from scratch.

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IMO looks better in person than in pictures.  Also depending what color we paint it the hoops will probably not even be very noticeable.

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Ready for paint we think.  Weighs 44# vs the stock fiberglass 17# so not too much heavier.

 

Also the HVAC controls on the 99 Outback stopped working.  Haven't been driving it much as it popped out of reverse a few times, but hasn't lately.  I have a plan for finishing the low range and bought another 6MT to put it in so hopefully I can get that working in the next month or two.

 

Edited by pontoontodd

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Sorry, guess I haven't posted in a month, but we have been doing some Subaru things.  B and I went through the rear suspension on the 2002 white Outback.  Went through the shocks, changed the valving a bit, and opened up the holes in the body where they go through to make them much easier to remove.  The trailing arm bushing on the right rear was pretty cracked so we replaced that.  Removed, anti seized, and reinstalled the wheel bearing while that was out.  Have bent a couple of the lower shock bolts now so we drilled and reamed that out to fit a grade eight 5/8" bolt (stock is 14mm or .551") and J remade the bushings to fit.  Plan on doing that on the left rear sometime.  Secured the rockers better with clinch nuts, bolts, and fender washers.

 

Been doing more shock tuning on the 99 OB as well, want to get it at least reasonably optimized before we assemble a bunch more struts.

 

This is one of the best upgrades per dollar and effort I've ever made on my 99 OB.  Piece of polyurethane between the valve cover and skid plate to keep from cracking the valve cover, etc.  Old one lasted a while, I think over a year, but it's broken into several pieces (some long gone and not pictured).

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Got a harder/stronger grade of polyurethane from McMaster.  Z cut out and glued this strip of steel to the bottom of it so it won't get cut as quickly by the skidplate.

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I don't think I'll make another skidplate like this again but it is super strong.  Kinda has to be for desert racing as it acts as a plow about 1/4 of the time in the Vegas to Reno.

 

Been working on long travel struts for Z, slammo, and travelvw.  At the same time we're going to copy some of the upgrades we've made to my 99 OB to B's Forester and my 2002 OB.  Z and J have helped with some of the machining.  These are a lot of the machined parts.  Almost everything is blanked out.

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Still need to do some milling on some of the parts but most of that is pretty simple, just slots, flats, and holes.

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Milled the rears but not the fronts yet.

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So hopefully we'll be wrapping those up in the next month or so.  Want to do a big jump fest when they're all done.

 

Finally got the ball rolling on the last few parts for the 6MT low range too.  Really want to get that done.

Eventually still want to do the rear knuckles to fit front wheel bearings and axles too.

Edited by pontoontodd
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B and I did some suspension work on my Outbacks.  Never noticed how similar the doors are between the 99 and 2002, almost look interchangeable.

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99 Outback has been a little wandery even after replacing the front control arm bushing and inner tie rod last weekend.  Seemed like there was some play in the RR in both the wheel bearing and the long bolt.  Long bolt was worn down a bit but mainly the knuckle was worn out.  Reamed the knuckle and bushed it with some 4130 tubing drilled and sanded to fit the bolt.  Replaced the wheel bearing, seals, and hub while we were at it.  Seemed like mainly slop between the worn down hub and the inner race of the bearing, I've seen that before at least once.  Really need to make the fabricated knuckles.

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B reamed out the LR knuckle on the 2002 OB to fit a 5/8" shock bolt.  Bushings were stuck in the bottom of the shock so it took a while to swap those out but we got it all back together.  Yes, the threads are longer on the 5/8" bolt than the stock one but the shoulder still goes a ways into the knuckle so the threads aren't really in bending.

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Regarding pictures, slammo tells me they don't show up on chrome mobile but they seem to show up on other browsers.

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