It was almost 2 years. Two long years since I had sat behind the wheel of an FD and
turned a key. I missed my car. Terribly. So with that in mind I stole some more time from the family
and other responsibilities (I was sure I was going to pay the price later) and over the first three weeks
of April I dedicated some real time to the FD.
What was left on my to-do list at that time was fairly straight forward in principle but turned out
to be quite labor intensive. What to do list? Well, I rewired the dual fuel pump setup I had cobbled together to run directly from
the battery with a suitable relay and fuse block emplaced. I used a monster 8guage zip wire, which is
quite the overkill but what the heck. I had to pull the pumps out and put them back in a few times to
makes sure there wasn’t any interference issues or potential for shorts inside the tank. Can you say
PARANOIA? So that was a day.
Then I had to run the main feed line from the tank to the distribution block under the UIM. And
somewhere in that mix install the fuel filter. Some huge thing I snagged off eBay that came of a NASCAR
vehicle. Think 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. Where the hell is one supposed to mount
THAT? I ended up custom making a bracket and mounting it to the differential subframe. Isolated from
vibration, easily accessible, etc. etc (and I removed the OEM PITA filter while I was in there) It fits
fine. Let’s just hope I never get rear ended by a semi. I think the filter would be the least of my
worries however if that happened. Then it was on to custom fabricating and running the -10 fuel lines. The line from
tank to filter and then filter to engine is a -10 hose, which is kinda big. Well, no, it’s freakin’
huge. Big enough to supply enough fuel for a jet engine. I had a devil of a time running that line,
especially over the diff. It’s strapped to the underside of the car suitably protected from road debris
with a sleeve of thick heater hose slit longitudinally. Put it this way if I hit something hard enough
to snag the fuel line it’s going to snag a lot more with it including the other fuel hard lines and brake
lines too. There’s another full day spent
The other major obstacle was fitting the two stroke oil reservoir to direct feed the dedicated OMP.
No more pouring 2 stroke in the tank! The thing is, the reservoir should be at least a quart in size AND
be located 6+ inches above the OMP – it’s essentially a gravity feed system. Take a look in your own
engine bay and see where you would fit one within reasonable distance to the OMP. Point is, there ain’t
much room…anywhere. With much pushing, shoving, and cursing I jammed in a tank I picked up off eBay (I
loves me some eBay). The tank came from a 2 stroke dirt bike so won’t disintegrate after 6 months like
most of the coolant overflow tanks people *try* to use. I had to make a custom bracket to hold the tank
of course. All this and there’s another day shot. The days seemed to go whipping by!
The moment of truth was fast approaching with all the new and custom parts installed. Time to get worried.
Saturday and I screwed up enough courage, hooked up the battery charger and fired up the
electrical system. NO SMOKE! My rewrapped wiring harness didn’t light up or start pouring smoke from
somewhere. Yeah! Now with voltage available I figured I’d run the pumps and flush out the lines from
tank up to the distribution block next to the fuel rails. There was no gas in the tank, however. I drained
out the yuck in the bottom of the tank, ran to the station and picked up 15 gallons of overpriced gogo juice
and filled the tank. I disconnected the -10 line up front and dumped it into a big gallon pickle jar. HOLY
FLOW BATMAN! Jeebus can those pumps move some fluid! Mind you it was against zero back pressure but CRIKEY!
I half filled the jar in just a few seconds! Okie dokie...the pumps were working. I reconnected the main fuel delivery
line to the rest of the fuel system for a pressure test. GULP! I expected fuel to start spurting from every one
of those custom 7 AN hoses, 11 threaded connections, and 14 hose fittings I had assembled myself. With wads
and wads of shop towels in hand I closed my eyes and turned the key. Quick look under the car...nothing gushing
out under the car...a good sign. And a check of the fuel pressure gauge on the regulator. Holding rock steady
at 42psi SCORE! It sounded like Niagara Falls though with all that fluid pumping through those lines. With
a penlight in hand I started looking for leaks. I could see none....REJOICE! I turned off the key and began
the fuel system leak-down test per the FSM. The system held about 25 psi after 10 minutes (29 psi after
5 minutes). IIRC the spec is 21 psi at 5 minutes. YEAH! I breathed a sigh of relief that all those custom built
lines of mine held up just fine.
And then I saw it. My biggest area of concern from day one...the primary rail threaded fittings.
Weeping. Weeping, oh so very slowly. After 30 minutes I had a small pool of fuel in that little cavity on
top of the LIM – about a tablespoon. I can see how very easily people burn their cars to the ground...this
could be one of those reasons. SON OF A B#^@&* I just knew those effing threads in the primary fuel rail
were gonna leak. So I pulled out the rail and ran the test again from where I could get a better looksee and
confirm the leak.....drip..........drip................ ....drip..................drip…………………….drip as the
pressure leaked down over 10 minutes. Which left me with an issue I didn’t’ want to face. What to do? I
couldn't tighten the fittings any more lest I split the stock aluminum rail. I could simply JB weld the
‘effers in place and hope it sealed, try some anaerobic thread sealant, epoxy them in place, or scrap that
rail and thread another one (ARGH! – that would mean I’d have to machine another rail to accept the 850 primaries
I have stuffed in there)....or just run rubber hose to the primary rail...YUCK! Well best to try the easiest
soln. first. I had dry threaded them originally so figured let’s see if some of the anaerobic sealant will do
the trick – this is special stuff formulated for gasoline metal fittings. With the sealant applied the problem
fitting was screwed in nice and tight and was angled correctly to clear the OMP injectors. I applied sealant
to the other fitting as well. I reinstalled everything and re-pressurized the system and held my breath…for
10 minutes. Not a drop. SUCCESS! Ok now I had to take it all apart and reinstall the rail and injectors
in the block and rerun the fuel lines and test again. Oh, and I checked to make sure those injectors were
not stuck…shonuff two were stuck. I pulled them out, and a few light taps with a hammer while they were
cycling with my secret injector tester, two 9V batteries wired together, and “clickety click click click.”
They got shoved back in. Another day.
I was so close. With the fuel system squared away and tested I decided to deal with all the miscellaneous
“other” stuff. I reinstalled the PFC, reinstalled all the rear trim after teardown to run the pump wiring,
tightened up the turbo side IC and intake piping and fittings, including vacuum lines to the air filter and
BOV and airpump hoses, and had placed the battery on the charger 2 days prior. I filled up the oil, filled
the coolant system, and attacked the UIM installation. Well, the UIM took about 3 hours to install. So many
lessons were learned during that first install. It was quite different than before! This hose has to go over
that line, this connector must be routed this way and not that way…and on and on. I must have had the UIM on
and off at least a dozen times to get everything right so nothing rubbed or got squished. But eventually I
got it all buttoned down. I crawled under the car and installed the DP, it fit back where it came from and
thankfully nothing got clocked half a degree which would hose up the DP install. I tightened up the new
wastegate AN vacuum lines (used to be simple silicone lines). And…done!
But wait what’s that leak? Awwww not now! It’s always the things you don’t consider. Stupid coolant
hose to the heater core connection is leaking now that there is coolant in the line. Dang it! With hands
now beaten to a pulp from working on the UIM I disconnected it and used TWO clamps on the connection and hoped
it wouldn’t leak. As of that time I still wasn’t sure. No time to waste, got to keep moving forward. Some
liquid on the bottom of the oil pan I attribute to the leaking fuel. It was too thin to be oil. I hoped that
was the case. I was going to be pissed if that fancy new GZ oil pan was leaking. Some last minute items,
install piddly oil catch tank, install the TB elbow, and IC pipe and couplings, and…well..Ok NOW it was done.
I didn’t have the guts that day to actually turn it over. I was exhausted. Plus I needed to find a map
and tweak it for the new hardware I had installed before I felt comfortable to try and start it. However it
was such a good feeling to turn the key and hear the familiar "beep beep,..beep beep." I swear I got teary
eyed. I left the garage that night at 11pm and I can remember turning to look back and see the hood closed on
Princess and my workbench devoid of parts. Then it began to sink in just how long it had been and how much
effort it has been. I really hoped it was all worth it.
I sat in the car thinking back to June 10, 2006...a dark, dark day in the annals of Crispy car-dom.
Broken apex seal tip = rebuild. It sucked to be the Crisper. 3 practice
engine rebuilds later, ONE final rebuild for Princess, one visit to the ER, a completely reconfigured fuel
system, complete engine rewiring, a redone ignition system, and some other "tweaks" and it was now time.
Princess was ready to be revived. The fuel system has been pressure checked…again. No leaks. The coolant
system was topped off. The oil was full. A week of research regarding initial tuning settings and a
starter map was assembled. The battery charger was hooked up and humming along. I pulled the EGI relay
and turned over the engine to prime the oil system. The new map was written to the PFC. Key in the
ignition and I held my breath....imagine my face turning purple and I recall beginning to feel woozy.
I noted to myself - don't hold your breath! Second try. Key in the ignition....turn.
One revolution...two revolutions...three revolutions...and...
Princess ROARED to life!
YE FREAKIN' HA!!!!!!!!!
Oh SH*T! (I can say that because this REALLY was one of those moments!)......and I immediately
pulled the key and shut the engine down as it SCREAMS right to redline.
Jeebus what the hell was THAT? Horrors of an effed up wiring harness and fried electrical sensors sang through
my head. Deep Breaths...deep breaths. The success: IT STARTED. Nothing went kablammo...it ran...no screeching
metal on metal. Then was the time to focus on the redline issue. TPS? Stuck injector? Improper initial setting
in PFC? I started with the easy stuff. I rechecked all the maps but couldn’t see anything wacky. I adjusted
the throttle cable to ensure plenty of slack and as I do this the throttle plates snap closed and almost take
off my thumb! Well that explains things! :-)
Ok, let’s try again. I sat in the car...turned the key and...VRROOOOOOOM...on the second revolution.
It was alive...and it settled into a 1500rpm lumpy-ass idle. The porting perhaps? Overly rich mixture?
Busted motor? Dunno. I let it run for 2-3 minutes as all the assembly lube smoked it's way off and the engine
internals burned off the oil out the tail pipe. It would be a short while before it stopped smoking as I
overdosed the premix in the gas AND the 2 stroke injector was pumping oil in from the reservoir as well.
This was about all the pressure I could take for the day and I shut it down, and called it quits. It had been a
June 12, 2008, rolls around and I had been waiting for a call from PFSupercars. Just not so soon! I had taken
Princess up to PFS only a few days earlier for Ray to do work some magic with the tuning on the PFS dyno and
to fix a few really annoying minor issues that I was to fatigued to deal with. But back to the call. It was
one of "those" calls. A call that could be really good or really, really bad. Since I hadn't given Ray a
timeframe for completing the work a call this early was sure to be bad news. He’s a busy guy and I had
anticipated he would take several weeks before getting back to me. Deep breath…count to 10. Why is the
room spinning….Deep breath. And he begins: "Chris I found a few things." Crapola. Better sit down. The issue
with the stupid coolant buzzer was a corroded connecter (Phew!). The small oil leak from the turbo oil drain
line has been repaired. Ray said it was a huge PITA and cost him a 10mm socket but it was fixed. Things are
nice and dry now. (Cool) Oh and then there was the injector issue. Oh boy here we go. Apparently there was
a broken wire internal to the rear primary injector causing intermittent loss of the rear rotor. Was this the
cause of my engine demise or my fat fingers when rewrapping the harness? I dunno but it offers a probable
cause for my engine failure. Regardless it was fixed and all was now well in the world. Ray was however
impressed with the rewrapping job and asked specifically where I got the orange wiring tape. But wait there's
more. Ray said on the dyno the car wouldn't rev above 3k rpm. What!?!?! No problemo he says to me. It was
simply a corroded connection at the TPS sensor plug. Fixed it! All this would have taken me another 6 months
to diagnose so I consider all this work as money well spent. So where did that leave me? All the loose ends
had been addressed and the car was now on the dyno….on the dyno for 3 hours! Jeowwzaaa! Ray ran the obligatory
compression test prior, of course, and the engine was fine. The rear was a little lower than the front but otherwise ok.
So he let her rip. Ray said I should expect in the high 300's at 15psi given the small turbo and the pretty
restrictive T3 turbine housing. Okie dokie. That would be fine. I would have liked to have seen 400rwhp but high
300's would be ok…I guess.
So he started; "We did a baseline run with the controller off, which is about 9.5psi…" (I have a 10lb
spring in the wastegate) “and the car laid down 326rwhp and 258ftlb of torque.” Mine eyebrows did raise! That's
not too shabby for about 10psi. I've been mulling over the dyno graphs since that day and the torque curve,
if you can call it that, it's more of a line, is flat as a pancake from about 3750rpms and up. Perfect. I
smiles even to this day. Ray continued, "so we set your controller to a low boost setting of 12psi." ULP!
Ok...ULP! "…and the car put down 376rwhp and 268ftlbs of torque." "Oh! That's pretty good isn't it?" I said.
Ray continued, "we set your high setting on your controller to 15 psi…" drum roll please "…and the car put
down 422rwhp and 333ftlbs of torque." HOLY FREAKIN’ JEEBUS! At this point I was hopping around the room like
my a** was on fire. 422! Far more than I expected and needless to say I was very pleased. I was thinking
I'd need to run 17psi to see those kind of numbers. Nope. 15psi was quite enough. Coming back down to earth
I asked how a tiddly GT35R with a T3 housing can put down those kind of numbers? Ray inclined that the *engine*
is the reason. Seems like all my diligence and work porting and assembling the engine paid off and paid off
well. And again I had about 90% of all the torque available from 4k and up. Ray pulled a comparative dyno for
another car with the same ASpec GT35R kit and it only made 386rwhp at 15psi. And I quote Ray, "usually when
guys bring in cars with engines they have built themselves they are a big smoking mess." He said my numbers
spoke for themselves. As for my overheating alternator…two years of sitting killed the battery and it's just
my poor alternator trying to charge a dead battery. A new battery and Princess would be back on the road…Oh,
and in need of new tires!
I found the courage to drive Princess to work for the first time. I was somewhat
intimidated as I wasn't sure if anything would go wrong - like a loose clamp on a small coolant line that
would leave me stranded. But all went well. It was, to be sure, great to be back in the driver's seat of
Princess again. And I described the experience as driving an "angry" car. There was and is to this day
NOTHING subtle about the car. Princess is a Princess with a serious attitude. It idles like it has a really
lumpy cam, is loud as hell even with the stock main cat installed (I dunno why I even have a radio in the
thing), the steering is ultra sensitive, and OH MY GOD does it go when you step on it. I found myself at
80mph before I knew it when merging onto a freeway on my way to work! The drive that day was truly fun.
By way of a postlogue, on August 19, 2008, I faced my last obstacle. September 3rd was my last chance.
I wasn't going to wait that long. Our summer house guests were gone so I had the time, August 19 was the day.
Emissions testing for Princess.
With nothing to lose I first tried the VEIP station front office and explained I wasn't too keen on
having the rolling road dyno test done. Low profile rubber, low car, etc. I used all the key words that have been successful
for others. No dice. The VEIP manager chuckled and said not to worry. Yeah right! Ok now I was more worried
because they are actually going to test my car. He said just pick a lane other than #3 which is for 4x4's.
So I pull around and a young Asian guy is beckoning me to lane 4. He took the VEIP "summons," (why do feel like
a guilty criminal whenever I go to get tested?) and walked around the car. He grabbed one of their rubber chock
blocks and tries to chock the rear wheels. It won't fit under the car…. HA! My car **IS** to low you rotten
bast**rds! Then he walked away. He returned with a "Lane Manager" and they stood at the far end of the building
out of earshot. Lots of arm waving and pointing at me and Princess ensued as they must apparently have been
discussing Princess and what to do. After a short time young Asian kid returned and beckons me forward.
Oh crap. You want me to drive over the rollers!?!?!?! He kept waving me forward. I stuck my head out the
window and "Are you sure?" He kept waving.
Well now princess doesn't like no-load conditions…at all. Popping and sputtering I nudged the rpms up
to 3000 where it's a little smoother. I watched the seconds tick by. Done. Now the idle test. Princess'
idle is set at 1000. It won't idle worth crap below 1000. So I sat with the engine burbling away spewing raw
unburnt hydrocarbons out the tailpipe. I felt each and every little misfire. It's a long and excruciating 40
seconds. The screen flashes "Next customer" (it should really read "Next Victim" really) and it's all over.
Young guy ushered me forward to the printout desk. Carefully I wheel the rear of the car over the rollers
and proceeded to collect my printout. PASS! Next test 2010. Yup…It passed. Yippeee freakin' HA! To be
specific: HC's standard maximum is 220ppm: Princess - 41ppm, CO maximum is 1.20%: Princess - 0.05ppm. All
I can say is that the stock main cat must soak up a hell of lot of HC's because without it the exhaust makes
my eyes water. So now I have a LEGITIMATE environmentally friendly fully street legal RX-7 that I can drive
to my heart's content without any reservations about legality. Well sorta…
As insane as I am I had documented pretty much everystep of the process of reconstructing Princess.
This included, parts, part specs, part numbers, prices paid (and in some cases retail prices), sources, and yes even the labor time involved.
if you are interested the Parts List is here
and my Labor "Cost" is here.
For more specifcs on the reconstruction of Princess go to the following pages:
OUR "LOCAL7" COMMUNITY | THE WORLD OF THE RX-7
This page last updated March 19, 2009