Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gather up your jackets, move it to the exits

After my little fiasco with the fuel pressure regulator, I decided that the injectors probably needed to be cleaned. It made sense to me that if the fuel pressure regulator was frozen shut by deposits, the injectors would be in a similar predicament. Lucky for me, I work less than a mile from RC Fuel Injection. They will clean, rebuild and flow test your injectors for about $25 each. Last time I took a set of injectors to them, I had them in hand less than 6 hours after dropping them off. So I went to their shop and left my injectors with their incredibly friendly and knowledgeable receptionist. This time it took a little longer (a day and a half) but they cleaned my fuel rail free of charge, and the injectors came out so nice I didn't even mind. The nominal flow rate is 270 cc/min and my lowest on the set of six was 269 cc/min and the highest was 271 cc/min.  

The new fuel pressure regulator also came in the mail today, so I put the fuel system all back together. I keyed on, and there was a faint smell of fuel, but everything else seemed to check out. I noticed a bit of wetness by one of the fuel injection hose clamps, and tightened the clamp a bit which seemed to remedy the problem.

In order to take the fuel rail off, I had to also remove the upper intake manifold. This gave me an up close look at the intake runners and I have to say, I am impressed. Nissan definitely had high RPM in mind when they designed this the RB20.  The intake runners are nearly 2 inches in diameter, each feeding a 333 cc cylinder! For comparison, my Ford 2.3 in the Falcon has about 1.61" diameter runners (much bigger than the stock 2.3 manifold at less than 1.5") per 575 cc cylinder. Maybe that's (one of the many reasons) why the Ford 2.3 chokes out at 5500 RPM and the RB20 lasts for another 2000 RPM!

Thanks for watching reading, and until next time...

Monday, October 19, 2015

I looked at the holes in my jeans and i turned and headed back

Welcome back, dear reader. It has been a while, but we are still busy with project RB20 Ranger. I had hoped to be finished with this project a couple months ago, but things don't always ever go as planned. Not only have I been busy with the Ranger, but also with the fascinating experience of wedding planning. Let me make myself clear, I am in no way complaining since Jen has done the lion's share and then some, but I never imagined that one would need an appointment with a consultant to eat cake. Perhaps you've done this, but if you haven't let me describe it for you. You walk into a place with a name like "Sweet and Saucy" with a seating area on one side which I was informed was cute, and a bakery case on the other side. On the far wall there is a photo of the staff, about 20 women of various ages and races who all manage to look exactly the same. In the air is the faint scent of vanilla and estrogen. The bakery case is full of cupcakes because OMG I LOVE CUPCAKES, THEY ARE LIKE CAKE BUT CUTER! (I have determined that the equation to derive cuteness level is as follows: smaller = cuter, within the visible range) After discussing flavors of cake (an intense discussion) with the cake consultant and her sidekick, they brought us several flavors of frosting on top of some sort of sweet, spongy food product. They left Jen and me to discuss our opinions, whether we preferred this sugar or that sugar. Eventually we came to an agreement that the slightly orange sugar with white sugar on top was our favorite. For a grungy garage-dweller like myself, it was a bizarre, but somehow enlightening experience, much like it will be when I drag Jen to the wrecking yard.

Speaking of the wrecking yard, did you know that a steering shaft pulled from a Jeep Grand Cherokee in the wrecking yard is now installed on the Ranger? The Ranger steering shaft uses two large rubber "rag joints" one of which sits dangerously close to the turbine housing in this application. Even though Colby is a major dork, I don't want him to die, and I just didn't trust the rubber rag joint to live very long when next to a heat source like the turbo. I read somewhere online that a ZJ steering shaft could be used on a Ranger with some modification. 

Top: Ranger steering shaft   Bottom: Grand Cherokee steering shaft

I trimmed both sides of the steering shaft, and then inserted a bit of the trimmed square stock inside the ranger steering shaft and secured it with a plug weld. The new steering shaft gives more clearance between the turbo and the u-joint. The joint is also made of steel, which should be much more durable in a hot environment.

Another clearance issue was the oil filter. It fit fine in the engine bay, but without a little modification to the crossmember, oil filter changes would require the motor mount to be disconnected and one side of the engine to be lifted. Most people would consider that to be cruel and unusual punishment, so out came the engine once again. A couple hours of chopping and welding, and oil changes became much simpler.

RB20DET can use 240SX KA24DE oil filter

Usually when doing some sort of an engine swap, a custom drive shaft is needed. This is one of those parts that you can't just slap together and say "meh, good enough". If a drive shaft is off balance, you gonna have a bad time. For this job you find a specialist. And to find a specialist of this kind, you usually have to go to the sketchy part of town. I found my guy in Lomita. I don't really know Lomita and for good reason. It's down near the Port of Los Angeles and looks like if it were a person, it would be the kind of guy who would beat you to a bloody pulp for calling him Dave even though his name actually is Dave. Fortunately for me, my guy was not named Dave, his name was Laszlo. Dave Laszlo sounded like he was from Ukraine. Or Mexico, or Iran. Or maybe Canada or Armenia. Actually I have no idea where he was from, but his office smelled like dog, the kind of dog that would bite your fingers off. What I do know is that I dropped the parts off in the morning and told him how long I needed the drive shaft to be, and in the afternoon I handed him eleven papers with Andrew Jackson's face on them. In return Laszlo gave me a drive shaft which turned out to be the proper length!

smelly doges

While the drive shaft was the proper lenngth, I seem to be cursed to always make errors when having a drive shaft made. When I pulled a drive shaft from the wrecking yard (stupidly I let the Ranger's original shaft be sent to recycling) I assumed the pinion yoke was the same as the Ranger's. Turns out it wasn't. This meant I got to make another trip to the wrecking yard for the proper pinion shaft. While removing the u-joint I damaged it, so in went a new rear u-joint.

The next item of business was making the RB20 and the Cherokee radiator play nice. As you can imagine, there isn't a ready made hose for this application. Thankfully Jose at O'Reilly Auto Parts (who isn't even Irish at all) let me into the back room to search for hoses to my heart's content. In fact, the sales staff let me do this on about four occasions, which was awesome. They also looked at me funny when I told them what I was doing.

Pretty quickly I found a something that would work well for the upper hose. It required only a little trimming on each end to fit. These photos will also serve as a reference guide for Colby when he needs to replace them.

upper radiator hose

 I then made a crossover pipe to get coolant from the radiator to the lower engine. This means there is a lower driver's side hose and a lower passenger side hose.

Shown below is the lower driver's side hose. The middle section is cut out and discarded, and the two outer sections are joined by clamping both hoses onto a short metal pipe. 

Lower driver's side radiator hose
reducing the OD to fit a smaller hose
The passenger's side lower hose is a trimmed lower radiator hose from a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT. I think... I went to the parts store three times trying to find a hose that would work before I picked up a piece of scrap hose from the floor of the carport. With a little trimming and modification to the crossover pipe, it fit perfectly. I think I left it laying around when I replaced the radiator in my Legacy. 

Modifying the fuel system to work also proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected. I spliced into the factory nylon hoses where the fuel filter had previously been. It had to be relocated because it interfered with the exhaust downpipe. I ran new lines to the passenger side fender well and mounted a filter there. At this point I struggled to find a safe way to convert from nylon tube to rubber hose, since the RB20 fuel rail connections are barb fittings for a rubber hose.

What I really wanted was a fitting with a nylon tube barb on one side and a rubber hose barb on the other. This thing does not exist, so eventually I settled on a fitting which had barbs specifically for nylon tube on one side and a compression fitting on the other side. I got a short length of 5/16 steel tube on with a slight flare on one end, and put the other end into the compression fitting. The rubber hose slides over the flare onto the steel tube and is held in place by a fuel injection hose clamp.

barb/compression fitting

I spend a couple evenings doing wiring that would make Ben Franklin cry only to find that when I turned the key on, fuel pressure would build until the fuel pump would almost stall out. Allowing the pressure to get this high created a leak in some sort of fuel doohickey found in the frame rail. Since a new o-ring for this doohickey is impossible to find, I removed it and bypassed it. 

Fuel doohickey
Bypasing the doohickey
Bypassing the doohickey stopped the fuel leak but it didn't solve my problem. It turns out the fuel pressure regulator was seized up from corrosion. That does not bode well for, well, anything. I now need to get a new pressure regulator, clean the fuel rail, and have the injectors cleaned. I'm not too worried about any of those except cleaning the fuel rail. I'm not sure how to effectively do that. Any good ideas?

I didn't like this pressure regulator anyway
removing fuel rail
Yay corrosion!

So here we are. The only thing (I really hope) between me and the unholy spawn of a Ranger and Skyline is a corroded fuel rail. With a little bit of luck, which I could really use, this thing will be alive in the next two weeks. In the meantime, say your prayers or make your burnt offerings or do whatever you do. Think about how much you want to see this thing running and them multiply that by seven and a half, and that's how bad Jen want's to see it run so she doesn't have to share me with a crappy old truck that is as old as she is. Until next time, enjoy the fall weather.