The CSX has been up on jack stands for about 8 years. Life has a way of rearranging priorities. However, I was either going to cobble it back together or haul it off on a trailer. Either way, it had to move. I aborted all upgrade plans, slapped my only spare working head and turbo on there and drove it. It still burns oil, so at least I know that the bottom end is truly done. Poor thing. Some day, I hope to give it the attention it deserves….
Well it’s been about a year and a half since I drove the car. This weekend I finally got a chance to tear into it. I pulled the head and tore it completely down. This crappy reman head is pretty screwed-up. The three rear coolant jackets have been ground out and rewelded at some point. There is a small crack between one of the forward jackets and the chamber. The cam journals are pretty chewed-up too, so I think this head is done. Too bad too because it has tight guides and fairly new valves. The plan is to use the original head that came off this car when I got it back in 1998, which appears to have been junkyard TBI roller cam head as the exhaust valves are pretty burnt up. It also has some small cracks starting in the rear jackets, but they are not threatening yet and can be relieved. The guides are worn as well and so it needs a complete rebuild….
I also pulled the trans in preparation for the new TU ceramic/organic clutch that’s been sitting on a shelf waiting for a chance to be installed. I also checked the input shaft and diff carrier play and they seem to be holding up well. I had a little trouble removing the passenger side axle due to the OBX’s tendency to collapse slightly when the bearings are installed. A bit of tapping persuaded it out.
Back to the head…a month or so ago I decided to use this head as my first attempt at head porting. I figured it was no big loss if I ruined it and was still usable if I didn’t. It turned out much better than I thought it would. I made a few mistakes, but it should still flow much better than stock so I figure why not try to run it and see how it does.
The bowls were cleaned up and the ports straightened and blended. The roof of the intake was raised considerably (too much over near the bowls) and the roof of the exhaust was also raised slightly (there is a coolant passage that needs to be watched out for). I also filled the area on one side of the intake ports where core drift always leaves a pocket the undercuts the seat with JB Weld. This is probably where Steve Menegon does it, but I didn’t look that closely at his head on the Daytona before installing it. The floors were smoothed and blended, but otherwise left alone. I did lay back the floor at the exhaust bowl more on the advice from Tyler. I’m now coming up with a way to de-shroud the valves so that it is done equally.
I literally have not touched this car, short of starting it up once this spring. I really need to tackle the mechanical issues first, just so that it can be driven in the event of an issue with the Daytona. With the birth of our son this past December, there just hasn’t been any time. What little spare time I do have gets devoted to fixing small issues on the Daytona. I suspect that I will not be able to do anything with this car this year.
Well, on the way home from work I noticed that I had no heat and the temp guage was acting weird. I was like great, it’s the frickin’ head gasket that’s making it smoke. I started filling the radiator, which was pretty much empty, and heard a splashing noise. I look under the car and coolant is dumping out from behind the block. Dang core plug popped out again. Man I hate that thing. There is no room for the CSX in the garage, so I forged ahead with the Daytona. The CSX needs the front struts swapped, the turbo swapped, the clutch swapped, the radiator core support welded, the K-frame checked for square, the ball joints re-replaced, and a full, 4-wheel alignment job. Poor car needs a break.
Turns out that I didn’t tighten the distributer enough. The front engine harness is tied to the corner and it slowly pulled more and more retard until it was way off the scale and ran like crap. I also experimented with some different cam settings. It’s currently set to 2 degrees retarded on the 88 TBI cam. It’s a little soggy on the bottom end, but pulls pretty good to the redline. It’s just a matter of switching my driving habits a bit.
The kevlar clutch for the Daytona arrived, which is now swapped and the pressure plate (LUK unit painted red) for the TU ceramic/organic is now freed up and standing by for the CSX. At some point after the Daytona is done, I am going to have to swap the clutch and the turbo.
Went to an SDAC Chicagoland drag racing event at Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, WI on the 26th. I was hoping to get into the 14s again and hopefully set a new record for myself, but it wasn’t to be. My best time was a 15.8 at around 92mph. With the extra traction, the T2/T3 clutch just wouldn’t hold during my launches. I tried a couple of techniques, but I smoked it BAD every time. The track was very busy, so we only got about 4 runs in. It just so happens that the TU ceramic/organic clutch that I got for the Daytona has the wrong shaft size. The plan now is to put a better, longer-lasting clutch into the Daytona and put this clutch into the CSX. I think it will be perfect for the job.
On the bright side, JT loaned me a MSD Blaster 2 ignition coil to see if it would clear up the 5000 RPM miss I was having. It did. The car pulls to the redline awesome now. In fact, I hit the rev limiter a few times because I am so used to having the missfire cue me to shift. Going to try to gap the plugs up to stock to see if the fire stays lit.
That setup was way too loud. There was a deafening drone throughout the band. The only quiet spot was between 2000 and 2500 RPM. I went ahead and replaced the test pipe in the cat’s position with the Dynomax Ultra Flo (p/n 17296). That cut the drone by about 50% overall while driving and it idles pretty quiet now. It’s louder than I’d like, but I can live with it. It’s now very quiet in that 2000-2500 range. I’m betting installing the cat instead of the Ultra Flo will make it even quieter.
I also replaced the hatch struts, finally. NAPA sells the “StrongArm” brand of struts that makes the correct one for P-bodies with a spoiler.
Well, the strut is still on there. Turns out that the strut rod nut was loose and was somehow pushing the center part of the strut mount up. Once it was tightened, everything moved back to where it should be. The strut is shot though and the other front strut isn’t fairing much better. I am going to try to warranty them. I did fix the passenger side window and both have stayed fixed for now. The car developed an annoying missfire/breakup above 3000rpm above 15psi of boost. I fiddled with a few things and finally replaced the plugs with some new AutoLite 63s, as the AutoLite 64s that were in there had about 35k on them and were really worn. That seemed to help, but it is still not as strong as it was before.
The 7-year-old exhaust, an original “Jessie Buhr” aluminized 2.5″ system with a Dynomax Super Turbo muffler, has been falling apart for about a year now. I’ve been patching it as it broke but had ordered a full 3″ stainless system from FWD Performance in the meantime. Finally the twice-patched muffler simply disintegrated last week, so I decided to install the new system this weekend.
Man, what a chore. It is by no means a drop-in kit. Quite a bit of cutting and welding was required, especially in the area around the axle. My goal was to make a stock-looking exhaust at the tail pipes, so I picked up a Dynomax Super Turbo muffer that has a 3″ inlet and a pair of 2.5″ outlets (p/n 17674). A pair of stainless 2.25″ 45-degree bends from ATP Turbo serve as the tail pipes (using a couple of 2.5″-2.25″ bushings). I was quickly reminded that the early 2.25″ swing valve housing on the turbo will not accept the 3″ downpipe donut, so I dug an old 2.5″ downpipe out of the spiderwebs in the corner and happened to have a 2.5″ ID – 3″ OD adapter. I spent all day Saturday cutting and fitting while trying to clear the spring, fuel tank, and axle. You can see my beautiful welding technique. The setup currently has no cat and man is it loud. I might as well have no muffler at all. I’m going to have to add a straight-through muffer in the cat’s position to quiet it down (I have a Dymomax Ultra Flo p/n 17296 sitting here).
I also added an additional mount on the brake line bracket, which should keep the exhaust from swaying back and forth and hitting the fuel tank and spring. It’s a tight fit back there.
Well, the trans is still holding up well and the OBX still rocks. There is a bizzare noise that happens when the axles get torqued-up a certain way by the diff. I think it’s actually a wheel bearing, possibly from the guard rail impact. It sounds like a bearing. The rest of the car seems to be falling apart. The fallout from by little guard rail adventure continues. The driver’s side strut started getting really loose a few weeks ago (4-year old Koni) and the strut mount self-destructed last week. The impact, which whacked the top of the wheel hard enough to shove the camber adjustment all the way in, must have bent the tube slightly. I can’t tell by looking at it, but some paint flaked off where the tube may have collapsed and popped back out. It must have made the piston bind-up or something, because the strut mount is practically punched-out.
In addition to that, I have this continuing battle with the windows. First, the driver’s side would get stuck due to the misshapen tracks from the impact mentioned above. After fixing that, the next day the passenger side window track tab broke and the window kept falling out of the track. I put up with that for about a week before I made a new tab out of aluminum. The next day the driver’s side window motor started acting wierd where the window would stop but the motor kept going. Eventually that window would just fall down every time I hit a bump. Finally I took the motor apart, replaced the wacky cushions that go between the drive gear and the external gear. Then the next day the passenger side window started getting stuck on the way down. It looks like the glass is hitting something metal, as it is getting scratched. Argh. I’m afraid to fix it, for fear of what will happen next on the driver’s side.
The new trans seems to be working well. It’s an A555/A520 hybrid (A555 with the mainshaft and ring gear from an A520) with a 3.50:1 ratio. This is the perfect gearing for this car. This setup with the OBX torque biasing differential is a great combo. The only weak point is the mainshaft bearing surface. The bearing near the pinion gear rides right on the shaft and eventually the area starts to break up from surface fatigue. This shaft has a bit of life left in it, but when it goes I won’t have anything to put in its place. The later transaxles (A523/A543/A568) have a real inner bearing race here. The bearing itself is the same, so it may just be a matter of machining the shaft down to accept the race. My main concern is the weakening of the shaft from removing the hardened surface in that area. It may create a stress point at the base of the pinion gear. If it were to break, the transmission would be destroyed. That is not something I am willing to risk with this tranny.
The OBX is an interesting piece. The car really wants to accelerate in a straight line, as the torque tends to get biased to the inside wheel. The effect goes away when coasting. I didn’t beat on it too much since it is brand new and I also put in a new clutch that needs a little break-in time. It is made in China and is basically a cheap knock-off of the Quaife unit that was designed for the Dodge Neon 420A transmission. It definitely needs to be gone-through when received. There are issues with the spring washer orientantion, the case bolt torques, and the axle fitment. The machining on the element gears, the axle holes in the case, and the splines are also pretty rough and need to be checked/honed/deburred. Time will tell on how they hold up down the road, but at one third the price of a Quaife they are an attractive option even with their flaws. I will be changing the trans fluid once it gets a couple of hundred miles on it.