Sunday, December 27, 2009

225 miles and counting

225 miles today. It's going much more slowly than anticipated as I just haven't had time to run it down the road. I may run up to Sun Valley today to look at some 31" tires and stock aluminum wheels, which will get it near time for an oil change.

It's developed a slow oil leak (couple of drops) when parked. Power seems to be getting better, which is cool. But MPG is horrible, last tank pulling around 14.5. Cripes, I do that in my 283hp Suburban. It's been all town and commuting, so the highway run is an opp to see if it's gone down that much since rebuilding it.

I'm going with "it's new and tight" and hope that I'm right. But it's an inauspicious start...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

She is alive!!

More challenges on the DMV front - you can't get a trip permit for more than 1 day if your vehicle is more than 60 days expired. Crap. Going to have to rack up all the miles on one day then so I can smog it. :(

It seems  to be running well.  The turbo actually has an effect now!! I can hear it spooling, which is nice.

I tell you, a good-running motor goes a long way to mitigating any frustrations.

It's not as powerful as I had expected given the head porting, the cam, the larger valves, and the bigger turbo and exhaust. OTOH, I'm still babying it. And I mean babying it. So maybe it is... :)

The Total Chaos motor mounts do pass vibration on. Going to have to find some rubber mounts for those. But it feels good to have a captive motormount instead of the non-captive stockers.

I'd say me likey!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yaaay, it's ready. Wait, how much??!?!!

I'm kicking myself very hard right now for not buying the turnkey 88 4runner with dual tcases, lockers, SAS, 37s, and the immaculate paint and interior and lots of other goodies. Sure, it wasn't a turbo, but I'd have spent less than I have on this truck and a motor, and this truck still needs a tranny soon, and, except for the hotter motor, is still bone stock.

Last time I checked, "$2400 drive in, drive out" usually meant you drove it in, they did the work, you wrote a check for $2400 plus some tax, maybe some shop supplies (I hate when they're not allocated in the estimate), and you took your truck home with a new motor.

However, I found out over the last couple of weeks that some key items were not included in this original drive-in/out estimate. Like a timing chain. Or an oil pump. Just before the motor is going to go back together is a hard time to find this out, since I'd already put together a budget.

Honestly, I'm choking on the price at the moment. It's more than double the $2400, when I expected we were going to add maybe another $1400-1600 tops! including all the extras I had asked for. I'll post the invoice later, first I want to go over it since the last written estimate I had listed some machine work that they weren't able to explain at the time.

Let me call out very clearly that I don't think they did anything it didn't need, so that's not my concern.

Now, granted, I had them add some stuff - Total Chaos motor mounts, rebuild my turbo, cat-back exhaust, etc. - but those were factored in extra on my end, obviously not part of the $2400.

On top of that, it ended up needing a head, and some other parts. However, from when *I* worked on cars, I expect that kind of interaction to go like this:
  • Shop: Hi Eric, it's James at the Truck Shop. Your 4runner's needs XYZ, which will add $X to your cost, includes blah, blah, blah, bringing your total price to $Y. Is that OK?
  • Eric: Thanks for the call! I was prepared that it might need XYZ. question, question... What was the new total for the engine again? OK, go for it, thanks!
This gets repeated any time there's any significant change to the bottom line. During a rebuild, that might occur 2-3 times depending on how many surprises there are.

Well, we're now at the end, and no use crying over spilled milk, especially since I helped spill some of it by not pushing very hard for am updated bottom line price. While I had asked several times, I only got one - which summarily freaked me out since the price had more than doubled. I thought we had fixed it. I can't imagine what my total price would be if we hadn't had that conversation.

I'll post the invoice after I pick it up and provide more details on how I think it ended up here, and ideas on how to avoid this kind of nasty surprise right before Christmas when $$ is already tight.
And the money flow is not over yet. I'm not told it still needs to be broken in, then a cat installed, then smogged. I had asked for it to be smogged before I picked it up and was told "No problem." and watched him add a note to my file.

It seems the shop knows what they're doing technically, and they do come highly recommended, so I'm going to reserve overall judgement for now, but the customer-interaction model is leaving me feeling extremely frustrated and disappointed.

But I am skeert to go back to them for the next set of planned mods (Supra AFM, intercooler, turn up the boost, etc.) if this is the interaction I should expect...

All I have to say is this motor better be the cat's meow, not burn oil, reliable, long lasting, grumble, grumble...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Still waiting...

I called Friday and was told the exhaust manifold had a crack they didn't notice, they needed to weld it and that took most of the day.
What about the 2nd manifold I'd brought?
Oh, that one had a crack too. (???)

I'm confused since welding cast iron is actually pretty straight-forward, and with the new turbo, the manifold should be cake to remove.

The time I built a turbo manifold for my motorhome, I used a Chevy 6.5 diesel manifold (cast) as the base, chopped a hole in the side, and welded on bits to make the turbo fit onto the side of the manifold. I couldn't bolt the turbo to the stock location, the motorhome floor got in the way.

But that took just a couple of hours (you preheat, weld, postheat) and was quite a bit of work compared to a simple crack.

If it weren't so warm in SD, I'd think I was getting snowed...

It's Tuesday morning and no call that the truck is ready yet, plus no commitment on when it would be ready when I called last week.

I'm getting concerned. The truck better run awesome...