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.
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.
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|
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.
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.
|Bypasing the doohickey|
|I didn't like this pressure regulator anyway|
|removing fuel rail|
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.