I know I said things were crazy around here last time I made a post, it seems the universe took that as a challenge because it’s really stepped things up in the past few days. Before leaving on my trip I managed to lose a wheel and two tires and then after 30 hours of driving I found myself in Oregon for a few days, which I’ll create a post about at some point. After another 30 or so hours of driving back I found a broken down Mercedes, my lady in need of a new phone, and a few days later an accepted offer on a small mansion. Yea, things aren’t slowing down around here anytime soon. But, today I’ve chosen to further enlighten you on the state of my Laser. The build will probably slow down quite a bit as we wade into home ownership, but it’s mostly complete so hopefully that won’t be a big issue. On to the important parts!
Lets get to the part where I started the Laser shall we? This required me to finally put the valve cover gasket on, along with the little half moon “key” that sits in the left side of the valve cover. The key got a thin layer of oil resistant RTV for good measure. The rest of the gasket, including the plug well gaskets, went on dry. I made sure to clean the surface first, and then finished the install with a nice shiny stainless steel set of bolts. The torque rating on these is something like 12 IN/LBS but our small torque wrench has disappeared so I just went around and tightened them all clockwise making sure to be gentle with them. I basically went finger tight and then just a hair more so as not to strip the head or crack the valve cover itself. These valve covers are quite prone to cracking, and the plug wire cover on mine can vouch for that.
The next order of business is the spark plugs and wires. I went with NGK for my plugs, I’ve always had good luck with them and you can find good deals online. I re-used my spark plug wires because I had thrown a new set on as part of my pre-rebuild troubleshooting efforts. I do have some nice NGK wires as well, but I’ll save those for later.
Now the exciting bit! I poured in 4 quarts of CompCams break in oil, swapped in the battery from the Benz, poured in some fresh premium fuel and turned the key. It’s all theory until you turn the key right? Well, it stayed theory as nothing happened. We knew the battery was bad, but we had a jump pack on there so the thing should at least make some noise. After a few minutes of thinking I found that I had simply forgotten to mash the clutch, safety switch and what not. With the clutch thus depressed, the car turned over. And over and over and over, and just as I was starting to lose faith my 4G63 tried to sputter to life. It failed, a few times, before finally grumbling to life. I do mean grumble, it only ran on two cylinders and I killed it after a few seconds.
By this point, we’d noticed that the number one injector was trying it’s best to start the car on fire and was destroying my super cool engine paint job in the process. Shortly after, we noticed it was leaking oil and called it a night, after throwing a pan under to catch any leaked liquid gold that is.
The next day I went ahead and gave everything a quick look over. I immediately noticed that I’d left a vacuum port on the valve cover open, that the turbo return line was leaking, and that I had a slight fuel leak at the fuel filter as well as the injector leak. These are all more or less simple fixes, so I got to getting them taken care of.
First up, that pesky turbo oil return line. The thing is stiff, so it’s hard to get in place and easy to ruin gaskets while doing so. I pulled it all off and then made a custom gasket, after trying to make that work (and a bit of Google-Fu) I decided to just order some factory gaskets. The bolts came out stripped, which isn’t a good sign and will come back into the story later. I did cut out the flex piece as it’s prone to cracking and leaking, it’s pretty popular to replace it with oil safe hose so that’s what I did. This also nets a bit more flexibility when installing.
It took me a few days to locate clamps for the hose, NAPA came through with some fancy stainless constant torque clamps. After some test fitting and hose cutting the whole thing was ready to go back on. Unfortunately, the oil pan had a different idea. The bolts into the oil pan for this only go to 7FT/LBS, it’s very easy to go over that without a torque wrench. I think the pan may have been stripped to begin with, but this was the killing blow. The return line went into place, but I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t hold oil.
Thus started a saga of trying to weld new nuts into the oil pan. My brother has all sorts of tools at his disposal and was willing to give it a try. I brought the pan over and he cut the old nuts out, welded new ones in, and then couldn’t get the bolts out. We’d used bolts to hold everything in place while welding, the bolt got semi welded in. We ended up getting it out in the end, but the nut had somehow gotten a minor cross-thread at one end so it would need a tap to get it back in shape. I also got to help Sam and Ashley set up part of the three-seasons shower they’re working on setting up over the well we put in.
And after all that work, I opted to order a new pan because I really just didn’t want to mess with leaky threads or anything like that. I just wanted the damn thing to work at this point. So a new pan went on, held in place by a generous helping of hi-temp RTV as some more Google-Fu turned up the useful information that these cars didn’t use oil pan gaskets from the factory. Just a nice clean surface and some RTV, I went with hi-temp because I was out of oil resistant at the time. Anyone need a Fel-Pro gasket? I’ve got a cork one that I won’t be using (hopefully, please car gods, please let it be sealed and over with).
I should mention, getting the pan out of the car is a pain, getting it back in is worse. You’ll need to drop the exhaust (remember how much of a pain it was to get in place?) and most likely the rear of the front cross member as well and then use a pry bar on the cross member to get it out of the way enough to pull the pan out or put it in. Don’t forget to use some loctite on those when you put the cross member bolts back in.
Alright, so that’s done. Remember the other issues? The vacuum leak is easy enough to fix, just cap it. The small fuel filter leak? Tighten that thing down and hope it stops (it did). Injector leak? That’s a bit less fun, especially with everything else now in the way.
You get to pull the throttle cable out of the way and then unbolt the fuel rail. Getting the rail out is tricky as you don’t have much space. I chose to replace all the injector seals as the kit is cheap and I already had it apart. This time I did things right, using a small amount of dielectric grease as lubricant to get the injectors seated again. Getting those stupid spacers in place and having them stay long enough to button things back up was the biggest pain. I also took the time to clean my electrical connectors as well, in case I had any GFS (green fuzzy shit, or corrosion) causing issues.
I think that brings us up to date, my latest attempts to start the car have been much more successful. I’ve got it to run for longer than a few seconds, and then it started to run like a semi normal car on it’s own. One second two cylinders, the next second, four cylinders. I’m not sure what happened there but I’m hoping it keeps happening. My current issue is that when I hit the gas it starts to die. I’ve consulted the local DSM wiseman and been advised to try running the car and turning the cam angle sensor to find the sweet spot.
We hosted a cruise night at the firehall to try and do some fundraising. We had a pretty good turnout, and last week saw the final cruise night of the season featuring a live band over in Pardeeville.
Ali and I also attended the wedding of a high school friend. Well, I should say we attended the reception as we arrived at the actual wedding just in time to get locked out. The reception was great though, hopefully they have a long and happy marriage! Since we missed the wedding, we decided to head to the reception early, and came across a local show that had a bunch of midget race cars. We stopped in to kill some time and I’m glad we did.
That first car up there has an interesting back story to it. Chuck Bollig was (and still is) on a racing team and the owner had sent a car to his shop that they were planning to put together to race. That didn’t end up happening, but it did end up sitting in Chucks shop for something like 7 years, it was all just parts in a basket. Eventually the team called it quits and Chuck reached out to the owner of the car, who said he could keep it as he’d been storing it anyway. Chuck ended up putting it together over a few years and got it running. It’s a much better story when he tells it, I’m sure I’m missing all sorts of stuff but this was a month ago or something.
Another cool bit of info on that car is that is uses a Sesco 2×4 engine. It’s basically a Chevy 350 cut up and turned into a 4 cylinder opposed piston layout engine. It’s something like a liquid cooled VW engine with small block Chevy guts. There’s a whole lot more engineering to it than that, but it’s amazing that someone was able to create this without the crazy amount of R&D funding that car companies and the like have. Sesco also made an inline 4 cylinder by chopping a bank off the SBC, but I prefer the 2×4 layout. You can see it run here via Ryan Bolligs YouTube channel, it sounds rabid and I love it.
Best of all? That crazy engine was brewed up right here in Wisconsin. I can’t seem to find who engineered them, I know Chuck told me sometime during the course of our hour or so chat, but I can’t remember. Either way, that’s all I’ve got for this week, see you next time!