Sunday, November 1, 2009

So, who rebuilds the engine?

The last engine I rebuilt was when I was 17. It was a 2.8L Ford V6 in my Cobra Mustang II (yes, a V6 in a Cobra. My, how far Ford sunk). One of the guys I went to high school with had rebuilt it, and the cam bolt backed out through the front timing cover. He was a good enough guy, this just wasn't his thing I guess. Once I got in there, I found a lot of liquid RTV (orange) floating around too. :) Kids...

I was flat broke, so I used some shortcuts. I used oversize rings instead of oversized pistons, etc. But I did it completely on my own in my parent's garage.

That engine went at least 55K miles after the rebuild, and they were very hard miles with many of them spent 1000rpm over the factory redline, sometimes for upwards of an hour. The overbore was 60-thousandths, as I was the second rebuilder of that block. That was apparently too much for that motor since it would get hot on the highway at ultralegal speeds (I was young). I'd have to slow down for a while to cool it off, then back on it as the needle slowly crept higher and higher and higher...

Overall, not a bad experience on the motor. That Mustang ended up experiencing a lot of other issues. Add the other Fords I used to wrench on, and that pretty much set me against Ford ownership in general. Sure, I'll take a GT-40 or an early Bronco, but overall? Nah.

The last motor I R&R'd was in my 88 K5 Blazer after a quicky lube place didn't remember to put oil back in it. The only oil change that truck had that I didn't do, even. Wow, was that a fiasco.22 miles after I left their shop, with 80K miles on the clock, it blew a rod through the side of the block. And no oil leaked out with that rod. I usually get 250K+ out of my small block Chev's, so this really caused me some unhappiness.

The last transmission I did was in our '93 Burb at 176K. I used a Jet Transmission (4L60E) and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, when the Blazer needed one, I listened to a guy who knew a guy... the shop in Molalla, OR really screwed it up and nearly set the truck on fire because they forgot to install a filter, which caused the trans to spit up ATF all over the engine bay while I was driving home in the dark from picking it up). Then that shop blew out the rear end "test driving" it.

4 aborted transmissions later, I took it to 4Wheel Parts Wholesaler in Portland and let them install a Jet transmission (what I should have bought in the first place). After the 5th time the tranny almost fell out, they threatening to void my warranty because they couldn't screw in some bolts right. That really put me over the top with them. I told them to give me back all of my labor $ and took it home and fixed it myself. No more problems until I sold the truck.

Given these experiences with farming out work to others, I really wrestled with what to do on this project. Of course, not all my experiences have been unpleasant.

Rasmussen BMW in Portland, OR was just plain fantastic with my M3. They worked on my car the way I would work on my car, and at reasonable prices for most services (I do my own brakes tho). I can't say enough good things about them. I can see why they've won the national #1 spot in their size dealership year after year.

I also want my kids to have that "I can handle it" perspective. And to be able to do their own work when shops screw it up.

I priced out the parts, found some recommended solution & providers for parts kits, and talked to several different local and national engine rebuilders about what I wanted and what they recommended. What I found is that there isn't a lot of experience with the RTE motors, as I expected since they're not very common.

ToySport gave me a real warm and fuzzy for building a 300hp turbo motor that was reliable. However, the entry price was steeper than I wanted to pay for the long block. Since that didn't include a new R&R, turbo, intercooler, AFM, etc., I was going to spend a bit more to get it completed.

If the economy hadn't nose-dived, I probably would have gone with them. Their price was actually reasonable considering all the goodness they were going to put in it. I recommend checking them out if you need a hot motor. Check out ToySport's tech notes on the 22RTE for more warm-and-fuzziness.

What made my decision for me is that I just don't have any spare time to dedicate to yanking a motor and rebuilding it. I have 3 kids at home (one in college) and we're running from practice to game to practice to friend's house. Many Sundays you can find me and my son at the dirtbike track, etc., the holidays are coming up, the ultra-busy season at work is starting up, and my HOA can be militant about projects like this.

In the end, I decided to go with a local shop calledThe Truck Shop. They came well-recommended by some of the local Toyota guys, and they also apparently do a lot of prep work for many of the desert racers. Hmmm... I'll want to be putting a long travel kit on this anyways, like maybe a Total Chaos Caddy Gen 2 setup...

Their labor rate for R&R was also reasonable, and they would warranty the whole thing for 12/12, even with the perf mods we were talking about. They were one of 2 rebuilders who would do that, everyone else tossed the warranty as soon as I said "porting?"

When I spoke with James he seemed to have a solid handle on the things an RTE needs, including how to turn it up, what intercooler to use, AFM changes needed to support the power increase, etc. I poked a few questions at him to get his thoughts. He was patient in answering my questions, and took some time going over the truck with me when I dropped it off.

So, it's going to get be ported, balanced, oversize valves, hi flow oil pump, etc.


No comments:

Post a Comment