Oh man, its been a looooong time since I posted an update in here.
Well, I have a job now. Yay, parts money! Except not really cause I want to move out next year so I have space for other car stuff (like painting the RX-7 and storing other project cars). But I think I can spare a little out of the first paycheck to get a few things…
Prius has been just fine. Nothing to report.
A Few Prius Pics
One of the old tail lights burnt out. Replaced them with LEDs.
The most boring engine bay ever.
The RX-7’s old coolant needs to go.
Loaded up and ready for transport.
My mom backed into a car in the Lexus. Its not the first time she’s done this either, smh. Wish I still had a picture of the destroyed tail light lens on our old 2009 Sienna.
The Pacifica Hybrid had a recall for what I think is the AC to DC converter on the charging system. Its apparently dangerous enough that the dealer is keeping it until they have a fix and the car is repaired. We have the option to get a loaner from the dealer in the meantime.
A coworker of mine, who is also a big car guy and who’s been a huge help to me on the RX-7, recently got a very clean Nissan Z32 for his wife. Its in immaculate condition and has literally never seen rain in its entire life. He is the third owner. The Previous owner got the car in circa 2003, and was an engineer. The Previous owner took this naturally aspirated model and supercharged it. Its got a pro-charger (belt driven turbo is big sad), with all custom intake and intercooler tubing. We think it makes about as much power as a stock Twin Turbo Z32 (around 300 or so). The VG30 sounds really nice. I definitely want to get a Z31 in the future, but with my rotary instincts its hard to say if it will keep its VG30…
Unfortunately I do not have engine bay pics at this time.
Now, onto the real star of the show.
Oh boy, where to begin. I guess we’ll pick up right where we left off?
The stock alternator bracket is a real pain in the ass. It is very hard to get proper belt tension, and I was super duper tired of getting belt slip at high rpm. I ordered a Banzai Racing alternator bracket.
Ew. Looks old, crusty, and kinda crap.
After drilling out the bolt hole for the stock bracket, new bracket is on.
Waaaaay better looking. And its a lot easier to adjust tension. Though a weird quirk with this bracket is that you have to run the belts loose. Like, loose enough that they flop around when you press on them. Took me a little while to figure that out; I was really disappointed at first when my belts kept squealing. But that’s all better now.
Oh yea, and one of the old belts was rekt. Luckily I have a box of spares, lol.
Battery Hold Down
I randomly decided to get an OEM battery hold down bracket. The battery was just chillin. I do think that because the battery was loose, it is part of how the negative terminal jumped off the post back when the first fuel pump died. Well, that certainly won’t happen again now.
Chillin like a badass.
She’s not going anywhere now.
Front License Plate Delete
Ohio’s front license plate requirements went away on July 1st. I took that rusty old bracket off immediately.
It was so rusty that I snapped one of the bolts. Oof. Hopefully they won’t reinstate front plates…
She looks a lot sleeker without that thing. I even noticed a significant jump in mpg. The aerodynamic improvement certainly helped in that department. I average 20.5 combined mpg now, and that’s including hard acceleration and cruising with AC on.
Brake Drum Retaining Screws
I’ve been missing one of the retaining screws since I got the car. People told me I didn’t need them, that the wheels would hold it in place just fine. Yet even after I serviced all the brakes, replaced the master cylinder, and completely flushed the brake fluid to clean, I still had some major pulsation in my brake pedal. Very similar in feel to having really really badly warped brake rotors in the front. But I knew that the front rotors were new (and I didn’t feel like replacing wheel bearings again). I inspected the rear brakes, and they looked assembled correctly. I checked the rubber lines for twisties, and they’re straight as can be. The only thing out of place was the missing retaining screw…
I ended up ordering a full set of retaining screws (2 for each rear wheel). And lo and behold, the pulsation in my brake pedal disappeared. As it turns out, I did need those screws.
The new ones are also higher quality in my opinion. My pedal does still pulsate a little under light braking at high speed, but I chalk that up to uneven wear on the rear drums; the pedal still feels much better and I don’t feel sketched out when using the brakes anymore.
Fixed Antenna Swap
My GS model was originally equipped with a power antenna unit. However, a combination of age and the previous owner’s son’s poorly done stereo “upgrade” I could never get the power unit to function. I also snapped the antenna mast at some point lol. They don’t sell replacement power units anymore, and there’s no guarantee I could get it to work even if they did. Fixed rubber antennas are only $20, so whatever. Installation was really easy, and with an antenna cable extension I was able to hook the antenna back up to the stereo. I finally have radio again!
Its pretty short, and I think it looks kinda cool.
I also upgraded the Wally World special 5.25" rear speakers we put in when we did the radio install. Those cheapo speakers were underpowered for the rear, and with tweeters they weren’t really suited for being in the rear. The new 6.5 JBL speakers are MUCH better. I can actually hear music coming from the rear now, so much so that I had to set some front fade to hear the fronts. Sadly no pictures though.
Oh, and I figured out that when I sanded down the tombstone bezel to fit a single DIN stereo, I just barely got it to fit. At first we could never get it to stay anywhere, but that was because of how short the stock antenna cable is. But now that the antenna cable is longer, I found out that the bezel is tight enough that the stereo can stay in place and not hide inside the dash anymore.
AC Idle Adjustment
Ever since my friend fixed my AC back in September, there has always been an issue with the idle speed when the AC compressor is running. When the compressor kicked on, idle speed would drop in half; which caused me to need to set a high idle speed to compensate. After doing a little research and investigation, my AC solenoid and the AC portion of the vacuum system is indeed fully functional. The cause of the idle drop was that the throttle opener that kicks up idle speed was not adjusted correctly.
While my car’s throttle opener does not adjust the same way as indicated in the manual, it did tell me where the throttle opener was and how it works. Basically, the AC solenoid will pull the throttle opener when the compressor kicks on, which raises the arm as pictured below.
On my car (not sure about other first gens), the throttle opener can be adjusted by turning a screw on the top next to the vacuum line going into it. With a few turns of the screw, my idle now raises when the AC kicks on rather than dropping. With this fix I was then able to lower my idle speed back to 750rpm, and I also fixed my idle mix in the process; the car now hardly misfires at idle (I suspect it was running lean), and seems to have also netted a minor improvement in fuel efficiency.
Also, shout out to Asus. The Zenfone 6’s flip camera is extremely useful. I can position the phone’s screen and camera perfectly to see into tight spaces I would normally never be able to see. There’s so much stuff I’ve done on this car that would have been much more difficult if I had a different phone or camera setup. Above picture of the throttle opener arm would not have been possible with a different phone.
Electrical Gremlin Hunt, Episode 1
Looking at my window sticker, there’s some electrical functions listed that I have never seen in action. One of my closest friend’s little brother is a beginner mechanic (also smarter than me in car things, especially electrics) offered to help me figure out why that stuff doesn’t work (as well as maybe fix some stuff that did work, but doesn’t work anymore). The first time we hung out and troubleshot, we were investigating the mysterious case of the door light and ignition cylinder light. We discovered that they were both on the same circuit, of course. However, we are stumped as to why these lights don’t work. The bulbs are good, the wiring is good. But the door switches, we have no idea how they work; we don’t know if they are functional or broken. We basically got nowhere, lol. We did break my dome light in the troubleshooting process, but it was about dead anyways. Replaced it with a nice LED one, super bright. The dome light doubles as the door light, so with it working we are confused. I am going over to hang out with him again and do some more detective work. Stay tuned for Electrical Gremlin Hunt, Episode 2.
Don’t get too excited just yet, its still got the stock exhaust. However, I am gearing up for some major upgrades. I discovered where my exhaust leak was and why my exhaust was rattling badly at low speed. Turns out that the midpipe separated from the flange where it connects to the muffler. My buddy did some band-aid tack welds so it stops rattling, but there is still big leaks. We will have to take the midpipe and muffler out to re-weld the flange back to the midpipe. We also need to replace the rear right parking brake cable, which is hidden above the exhaust heat shield over the muffler (my buddy snapped it a while ago and promised to pay for it; we’re finally doing it now since we probably need to take the muffler off anyways).
Ew, stinky boogers.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on how the emissions systems work over the last couple weeks. The best/easiest way to remove the catalytic converter, purely from exhaust work perspective, is to do a header swap. This means that the pre-silencer (fancy rotary word for resonator) will bolt directly into the exhaust in place of the catalytic converter. However, the stock exhaust manifold is hooked up to tons of vacuum lines and other things to help the emissions. When you do a header swap, there’s a lot of stuff you have to account for in order to allow the car to run right afterwards.
So, I’ve figured out all of what I need to get and have started ordering things. Its getting exciting! I ordered a complete LRB Speed 12A block off plate kit. It is meant for race cars, but most of the block off plates in the kit are extremely useful for what I am doing. I will need to block off the Air Control Valve (part of the air pump system. Air pump is finally getting yeeted!), the shutter valves, and the split air pipe (a little bung that goes into the catalytic converter to let exhaust get rerouted back into the intake for emissions). I also bought some high temp RTV to use as gaskets on the block off plates and some metal tape to plug the holes in the air cleaner where there will no longer be vacuum lines. Unfortunately, the block off plate kit will take nearly 3 weeks to arrive as they are made-by-order.
Soon, probably after the block off plate kit ships, I will order the final pieces of the puzzle. I am going to get a Racing Beat 12A header for 81-83 RX-7s, and the 81-83 Racing Beat Pre-Silencer. These will be bolt in upgrades for the stock manifold and catalytic converter. I can expect upwards of 20-25 additional horsepower at the crank, which would likely put me at 90 something at the wheels. Not to mention the catalytic converter heatshield will no longer rattle at high speeds, there won’t be anymore exhaust leaks with the repairs to the midpipe, and the car will sound 100x better. Exhaust leaks on rotaries make them sound awful. There’s also a possibility that the aftermarket header could lower temps, which would be nice but is not guaranteed. I can’t wait to start working on it!
One of my friends absolutely destroyed the Astro van’s front left tire. He punctured it on the steering rack, which is precariously barely attached to the car on the left side. They are probably going to scrap the Astro relatively soon, but its got a new tire in the meantime.
Same guy who destroyed the Astro’s tire just bought a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Its actually in fairly decent shape. Its got some battlescars from its police days, the previous owners welded the diff and cut off the exhaust after the cats, and its got almost 200k miles. But it runs and drives just fine, and it was cheap. He also finally replaced the nonexistent clutch in his BMW; the Slipmobile is no more.
Press F to pay respects. One of the vacuum advance solenoids on the RX-7 broke off of the vacuum rack. I was already bypassing them, so its not a problem.
I upgraded to LED side marker bulbs and cleaned/repaired the lenses. LED tail lights soon tm. Also thinking about fog lights.
I finally met up with one of the bois on the rotary discord I’m in. He lives only 40 or so minutes away, so we will likely hang out again in the nearish future. His blue RX-8 is quite fast, and sounds amazing. Also shoots some nice flames.
And now for random pics of the RX-7.
Some videos of a walkaround and a 60mph sprint.
Hope y’all enjoyed at least something in this massively long post. Stay tuned for juicy exhaust upgrades and whatever else happens.