Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New cam is on order

I've decided to stop whining about the shop I used.

I have a DOA 270 cam on order, hunting down a degree wheel later today. Found a local shop which came recommended by a national vendor which is locally based.

He feels they know what to do with the power curve on the dyno, and the info he provided made me very confident he does in fact know. I'll be swapping the cam myself, then taking it to them for final tuning.

I'm excited to be getting the new cam and learning how to use a degree wheel! Cam should be here in a week or so, but then I'm racing the Elsinore GP on my dual sport, so it'll be a bit until I get back to this.

See you soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

We have a dyno chart!

And the news is not what I'd like to see, but it totally matches the butt-o-meter.

Very low power down low, peaking up high.  Compare to the dyno charts of other 22RETs here

Cruise at 80 in OD is 2900rpm, maybe 45rwhp, tops. That's around 80-85ft/lbs of torque. No wonder I hate it on the road and it's getting poor mileage (for best efficiency, running at torque peak is generally recomended).
There was no boost controller, so no way to alter boost, and it was only boosting 4.5-4.75psi. No idea WTF the original shop thought they were adjusting or measuring. I'm finally pretty angry with them, especially because the tech very specifically told me and the owner that he had set the boost to 7PSI. The chart has 7PSI on it. I needed to buy a boost controller to allow that to happen. The baseline is the best this truck has run since the new engine and turbo have been installed. I'd have noticed 7PSI...

When I got it back from the original shop this time, it was the best it had run to-date.

Today, after the dyno shop tweaked it and added a boost controller, it's running even better, but the screwiness in the power delivery is even more evident now that there's such a big valley-to-peak difference, and over such a short RPM range.
It runs a LOT better higher in the rev band, and I can actually hear the turbo now.

It's still running quite rich on the top end, as evidenced on the chart below.
I've decided to source a DOA 270 cam, ARP head studs, and a cam degree wheel. I'm convinced this cam is significantly retarded. I'm wondering if the head deck height and/or block aren't out of spec, causing this behaviour. It's supposed to be a new head.  OTOH, it was supposed to get a new thermostat, it was supposed to be pushing 7PSI...

Time to do some more Googling.

Cam specs from my original invoice

From my invoice:
Cam specs Int    Exh
Valve lift:   .429 .442
Cam lift:    .275 .283
Duration (SAE)
Valve lash .012 .012
Centerline  105 105
Spread         110
Timing events @ 0.050
Duration     224 234
Rocker ratio: 1.56

Click here for bigger picture
All #s RWHP

The aftermath...

While I'd asked for the owner to wait until I was back, I got a call from him. He was very eager to take care of this.

While wiring the truck to be flat-towed behind a motorhome, I flipped up the seat behind the driver to find the bottom was scorched badly, burned through the carpet, and into the pad. I was so angry by now.

The factory heat shield for the muffler had not been reinstalled after they did the cat-back.
On top of that, the muffler was getting hotter than the catalytic convertor. And it was a Flowmaster, which I really didn't like as it was too loud.

The truck had quite a few loose ends the PO had let go (not the original owner who appeared to be meticulous in their care). The aftermarket radio was slapping around, high beams didn't work, a headlight was out, the passenger seat didn't fold forward - lots of little stuff like that.

When I got the truck back, it had a new muffler, the scorched part was repaired (so-so, but I was done by now), and it was finally running better. Not good, but better.  The shop insisted all they changed was the muffler, and that the Flowmaster didn't flow well (errr... what?! A Flowmaster is worth about 5-7hp on my BMW M3 which arguably has the best performing stock exhaust in the world).

The truck was washed and vacuumed. The shop also fabbed mounts for my tow bar and safety cables, at no charge. All the little things I mentioned above were resolved at no charge, without telling me.

Wow. Now that's trying to get back on my good side. A previous time I brought it in, it was delivered back to me dirty with greasy prints on the door, fender and hood. It was nice to see them taking this seriously for once.

But there were little things. The tow bar required a hammer to get in, and couldn't left attached and driven around (as I had requested), instead needing to be removed. I brought it back to be tweaked at the owner's request. They fixed that, but now some the pins were missing from my tow bar. It's easy to keep that from happening - PUT THEM BACK IN THE BAR when you're done with them. Gaaaaah!

The day I went to pick it up, someone apparently backed into the driver's rear quarter, breaking the tail lamp and adding dents above and below the tail lamp. It WAS a pretty clean little truck.

We finally squared up, getting me back a check for $750 for the work the shop in Arizona had performed. It wasn't signed, which I found out at the bank because I'm a trusting fool.

This place couldn't do anything well.

Today, I found out the turbo is leaking. Again. I'm sure they'll take care of it if I ask. But do I really want to bring my truck back to them? Absolutely, posti-freakingly no way.

And if anyone ever asks me if they should go there, I'm telling them all about the fun I've had.

The letter...

Hi Shop-Owner,

I’m writing this letter from my office in San Francisco and don’t have access to my notes or the interim quotes/invoices, so please pardon the rough nature of the numbers and timeframes I’ve included below.  

I wanted to roughly recap my experiences so far, in limited detail, so we’re on the same page with respect to my experiences with “The Shop”. 

While I find that you’re supportive and pleasant to deal with, my experiences with “The Shop” had left me somewhat dissatisfied overall, but I also felt that, in some ways, like welding in a new O2 sensor bung at no charge, “The Shop” was going over and above and decided to give the shop the benefit of the doubt.

After the problems the truck experienced late last week, however, I find myself extremely dissatisfied, especially since they seem to be related to the root cause of the issues being chased recently. And, the outcome from installing a factory O2 sensor clearly indicates the O2 sensor was not the cause.

My truck, a 1987 Toyota 4Runner Turbo, was returned to me in early December after a prolonged period of time (3 months comes to mind) for an engine rebuild.  I had been told it would be “$2400 drive in, drive out” for a performance engine rebuild, which included minor porting and larger valves. This did not include unexpected issues, like a cracked head, nor did it include rebuilding the turbo or add-ons, like Total Chaos motor mounts, cat-back exhaust, etc.

Before getting the truck back in December, you had contacted me with price adjustments, indicating the $2400 did not include an oil pump or a timing chain and those were extra. This was unexpected, as was the new price, which included extras I had asked for as well as many other rebuild-related parts I was not expecting after our conversations around rebuilding the engine. In retrospect and my discussions with other shops, these seem to be common things that would be replaced as part of the rebuild of an engine with 212K miles on them and should have been brought up before any work was started.

My expectation remained that any necessary items would be brought to my attention for review on how to proceed.

The truck was returned to me in early December and needed to be returned to the shop after 600 miles. At 600 miles, I brought it in and indicated there were two issues – the truck was puffing blue smoke on deceleration, and the thermostat appeared to have stuck on the way into your shop that morning, resulting in the temperature gauge reading much higher than normal, but not in the danger zone.

When I got the truck back, the temperature was back to normal and I assumed the thermostat had been swapped out . While I was in AZ, I found that the thermostat was in fact not changed at any time by “The Shop”. The shop in AZ indicated that, given the use of red RTV on the thermostat housing, they did not believe the thermostat had been changed at the time of the engine being rebuilt, and strongly suggested it be changed given the engine was newly rebuilt. Once removed, the old thermostat had rust around the edges. I’ve retained the thermostat.

When I brought the truck back to “The Shop” to have a catalytic convertor installed, I needed an emissions test for the DMV paperwork. I was quite surprised to find that the truck more than doubled the limits for each tested factor. I was informed the truck needed to be brought back in later to resolve the issue, which I did.

Your shop insisted I did not need the VCV valve (I’ve been erroneously calling it a VSV valve) on the valve cover for EGR functions and instead routed the vacuum line so that it was taken out of the system. I indicated several times that I had the old valve, which was damaged, but was told it wasn’t needed. It is pictured in the vacuum diagram under the hood. Later, I was told the valve was very difficult to find and that alternatives were being explored since it managed EGR functions. I’ve since found that the part number for the original valve is 90925-03117 and any of the local Toyota dealers can have it in stock within a day or so.

After getting the truck back this time, it had started to miss at very light throttle openings. You indicated it was likely the O2 sensor, so I brought it back for another O2 sensor, apparently a GM one. The problem, which is very easy to replicate, and annoying, persisted after the change, but your shop indicated it should be fixed when I picked up the truck.

The next time into the shop, the turbo was sent back to the rebuilder under warranty to fix an oil leak, and the O2 sensor was replaced with a stock sensor to resolve the light-throttle miss. The truck continued to exhibit the light-throttle miss after this work, leading me to believe that “The Shop” did not test drive the truck at all. I also found that the O2 leads had been cut off and spade connectors installed. The TPS was also adjusted during this service. The TPS currently only has one screw holding it in.

After this latest repair effort, I needed to go to Tucson, Arizona.

As you know, the fuel gauge doesn’t work well on the truck. Given this, I was using the odometer to track when it was time to fill up. When I bought the truck, with about 212,000 miles on it and with a poorly running engine, I drove it from Sacramento to San Diego and averaged 20mpg.

Fuel mileage on this trip was dismal and I ran out of gas on the highway near Winterhaven, CA with around 175 miles on that tank, which holds more than 17 gallons. A CHP officer pushed me and the truck to the nearest gas station. Fuel mileage continued to be poor for the duration of the trip out, hovering in the 11mpg range. 

Near Green Valley, the truck started making a tapping sound and running rough/poorly. I pulled over and called a local shop for service.

While the shop had my truck, I borrowed a friend’s truck to get around, or there would be a rental charge as well.

The intake boot had gritty, thick oil in it, as did the intake itself (where the butterfly valve is). It seems like it had been there a while since the metal turbo tube going into that boot (which was cut and extended by welding by “The Shop” during the initial rebuild) did not have this residue buildup. Since the intake appears not to have been cleaned externally either, it appears this is a remnant from before the rebuild. As such, it would be completely unacceptable and would contribute to undesirable wear and tear on the engine if ingested, which may have already been occurring.

I had requested that the engine be built to support at least 250hp, which I was told was readily achievable. The intake seems to not have been split, nor was it cleaned. The injectors were siliconed into the intake, and both front injectors were very loose in their sockets. Also, it does not appear the intake side of the head or intake manifold were ported, as discussed as part of the $2400 drive in/drive out performance rebuild.

It feels to me that “The Shop” has had my truck more over the last 7 months than I have, and the recent repeat issues with the miss being readily apparent each time I picked it up, when claimed to be solved, are contributing to my reticence to bring it back in for any work. Since I live about 25-30 miles from “The Shop”, each time I need to bring the truck in for repairs creates logistical challenges for me and my family.

Given the amount of churn and extensive shop time chasing easy-to-replicate issues which are stated as resolved when the truck is returned to me, but are not, and the number of issues this other shop found, I have lost confidence in the engine and the work completed. 

I am convinced I’ll be chasing problems with this truck for quite some time, especially as I begin to increase the power output with an intercooler and turning up the turbo as originally planned and as we have discussed. My overriding concern that a significant engine failure is imminent, even if not tuned up any more, and will occur after the warranty expires.

The warranty from “The Shop” is also being eroded by the continuous trips to the shop where service durations have ranged from 1-3 weeks per event.

Attached is the work the truck needed in Arizona. This incident with my truck affected both my business and my personal commitments on my trip.

I support mistakes, but the extent of the issues, such as loose bolts on both sides of the engine, and the critical, visibly damaged parts not replaced (injector pigtails) clearly demonstrates that whomever worked on my truck did not apply normal and reasonable care or even basic automotive practices (Using a torque wrench to tighten the intake bolts). 

The truck is now running better than it has since I got it back from “The Shop”. Even so, on the return trip, I only averaged around 15mpg, well under the 20mpg the truck achieved before the rebuild. I’m concerned that there are other issues contributing to the poor mileage, especially as the articles I’ve read after owners installed a TEC turbo had the truck getting significantly better gas mileage as well as power (going from 20 to 26mpg, for example). 

I am highly concerned that the engine will suffer a major mechanical issue in or out of warranty, especially given the issues experienced so far.

I’ll be back in San Diego next week and look forward to your suggestions on resolving these issues. At this point, I almost want another shop to tear down the engine to verify the work, at “The Shop”’s expense, as well as reimbursing me for current applicable expenses (not the injectors).

The next day...

I went to work the next day.

Just after 9am, I got a call from the shop. The #1 injector lead had come off the fuel injector. Wait, repeat that again? You see, injector leads have fancy clips that make this impossible.

Oh, it's broken and doesn't have the clip? Yes, please make it right.
The turbo just appears to be loose, we'll tighten it up for you.
The thermostat doesnt' look like it's been replaced (red RTV had last been used, that stuff hasn't been around for years). Ok, check it please.

A little while later, my phone rang again.
- 2 of your other injector leads are also missing the retaining clip and they are all very brittle. Ok, replace them all.
- Your injector's o-rings are completely shot (he gave them to me, they were uselessly hard and the injectors were RTV'd in, badly, by a previous repair). And they appear to be original, you should replace them. Since they were that far in, go ahead and install new injectors.
- Your thermostat was not changed, it's showing rust. Ok, new one please!

I love this shop. They kept me apprised, they told me how much things were going to cost BEFORE they did them, and then they delivered on that price. And they were timely and fast. They also showed me all my old parts (at my request - I brought some home in case I needed them for my impending discussion).

While they were at it, I asked them to fix and convert my truck's AC from R12 to R134A for the AC, but to bill that seperately. I was going to share some of my pain with the original shop, but the AC wasn't part of it.

When I got the truck back, it was running better. On the way home, it was managing about 15mpg on average, but still wasn't running as well as I had wanted.

The trip (saga) to Tucson

It's been a while since I've written, mostly because the truck has been in limbo as the it has gone back to the shop more than a few times since the last posting and I am really trying to keep this positive!

In June, I drove the 4Runner my home in San Diego, CA to Tucson, AZ. I'd driven it around town, and needed to run out to Tucson on business. I figured it'd be nice to get it on the highway to see how it performed on the open road. By now it had a couple thousand miles on the motor, and some highway miles would help seat things.

My last road trip was down I5 from Sacramento to San Diego, when I originally bought it. With about 212K on the clock and an original motor, an exhaust leak, and a turbo that didn't boost much. It got 20mpg for most of that trip, 16mpg for the tank over Grapevine and through LA, and would do just a smidge over 80, but didn't like it. It would tool along comfortably at 75 though. Grapevine had it struggling to eke out 50-55mph. That would not do!

Working with the shop, emissions were finally in line with where they should be on a new motor, and mpg had increased to the mid-teens. It seems that many folks are getting closer to the 20s, but I figured the engine was still new.

The fuel gauge doesn't work yet, the sender is a little off. At 10 gallons, the idiot light comes on, leaving about 7 in the tank. I'm only about 170 miles from Yuma. 16 miles*17 gallons= 270 miles/tank. So I filled up and promptly trundled off to Yuma.

The first thing I noticed is the truck was not happy on the open road. 80 was doable, but any more was too much to ask of it. Ok, note to self to discuss with the shop.

About 8 miles outside of Winterhaven (East of Yuma), the engine sputtered and died. It restarted, then repeated.  I was able to coast to within a couple miles of an exit where I could see a Chevron sign. While I was calling AAA, a nice Highway Patrol officer pushed me into a gas station. 

With a full tank it restarted. Let's see... 170/17 gallons... 10mpg?!? Note to self... (This happens a lot for a while).

From there, it was on towards Casa Grande. Another 170 miles, but there are some fuel stations before then. I reset the odometer and started keeping track of my mileage to avoid another issue.

As I was approaching Casa Grande, the sunset was beautiful. I missed a lot of it, because the truck started to miss. Once on the side of the road, I found the #2 and #3 spark plug leads had come off the spark plugs. Thank goodness it was easy, it was getting dark. Note to self...

My next stop was a town called Sahuarita, south of Tucson, AZ. Just South of Tucson, the truck started to miss very badly

As I left Phoenix, the truck started requiring more pedal to keep going. It was dark now, of course. As I passed Tucson headed south, the truck started running very weakly. Then it started to miss again. I pulled over, but the ignition leads were on tight. The turbo, however, was hanging loose.

It was late, but I called shop I knew in the area to save me.

Notes to self were piling up....