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Sunday 28 May 2023

Timing Issues and Leakdown Testing

After partially disassembling the engine and checking everything over, I noticed that the timing was a tooth out on the intake side. Knowing the BEAMS engine is an interference engine I assumed the worst - bent valves on the intake side. I decided a leakdown test was in order to make sure everything was healthy before continuing with cleaning and servicing the motor. 

I started by fixing the timing - which is when I noticed the threads for the tensioner bolts have been partially stripped out. This, along with the incorrect timing, had me beginning to suspect that the work previously carried out on the engine was not done to a very high standard.

Initially Cylinder #1 tested fine, #2, #3 and #4 all tested leak free too. Great news! Until I decided to retest #1... For some reason cylinder #1 was now reading a major leak and to confuse things further the leak was from the exhaust side. I wondered if somehow an exhaust valve had got bent during the leakdown testing process but was skeptical since the engine had only been turned over by hand. In pulling the sparkplugs for the test I discovered more signs that the engine had been poorly maintained. Each sparkplug was oil soaked and one came out totally fouled with lumps of burnt oil stuck to it. Looking into the sparkplug wells and around the valve cover it became obvious that whoever sealed the cover had done so incredibly poorly. The gasket had been caked in silicone sealant to the point where it was poking through into the plug wells. I have no doubt oil had been leaking into the wells and being burnt by the sparkplugs.

As for fixing the leaking #1 cylinder, I really wanted to avoid removing the head so firstly I filled the engine with oil as it had been shipped to me dry. I wondered if the lack of oil was preventing the hydraulic valve adjustment from working so cycled the engine a few times and tested again but with no change. I then decided to remove the valve cover to make sure everything was moving freely. This is where I discovered massive chunks of burnt oil stuck to the oil passages in the head - more evidence of a poorly maintained motor. I picked out what I could with a pair of tweezers and blew some smaller bits out with an air compressor. I also blew out the inside of the #1 cylinder and into the exhaust ports too. Testing with the leakdown tester now finally gave me a solid reading. I'm assuming that in turning the engine over to test the other cylinder a small piece of burnt oil had become lodged around the exhaust valve preventing it from sealing correctly.

Fortunately, it seems one tooth out on the intake side is not enough to cause the pistons to contact the valves. Possibly because the vvti is able to retard the timing about that much during standard operation anyway. Now that I'm happy the engine is able to hold compression, I can move into cleaning everything down. Seeing the state of the inside of the head I will definitely be running some engine flush through with probably an extra filter change to try to get as much as the crud out of the engine before and serious use. 

Thursday 11 May 2023

Thorough Inspection and Cleaning Prep

Despite the engine being fairly low mileage (~50k miles) I'm starting by stripping as much if the engine down as possible in preparation for a deep clean. The engine is fairly clean already with most of grime seeming to be p/s fluid that has leaked from the disconnected pump. Cleaning everything up also gives me the chance to thoroughly inspect the engine for any parts damaged during shipping from Japan (an inevitability I was warned about, especially with protruding sensors etc). 

Fortunately the broken parts I have found seemed to limited to a split hose, the pcv valve, the oil dipstick and the lower timing cover, everything else is in reasonable condition or easily repairable. 

Once I've cleaned up the block I'll be taking care of all of the usual service items and anything else that's convenient to do with the engine out of the car. 

The Caldina P/S pump and A/C compressor will be staying off the engine as the my car doesn't have A/C and the MR2 utilises an electronic P/S pump as opposed to a belt driven one. This will also have the added effect of reducing some of the resistance on the crank pulley which should improve engine response slightly as well as removing the parasitic power loss from running the extra pulleys.

Sunday 7 May 2023

3S-GE BEAMS Acquired

After literal months of deliberating; I've pulled the trigger on a new engine. A 3S-GE Greytop BEAMS (practically identical to the redtop - the greytop has some extra cats in the exhaust manifold which are easy enough to deal with).

So why the BEAMS over the other swap options? I wanted to keep the engine N/A and Toyota so the 3S-GTE or a K swap were out. That left me stuck between the BEAMS or a V6 swap. Initially I was looking at a 2GR but the cost and complexity of the swap put me off - especially since I've never intended to chase big power numbers anyway.

I considered the other V6 options (1MZ/3VZ) and whilst they make more torque they're about the same HP figure. In my mind I'm trading some of that V6 torque for a higher redline and a peakier engine which has always been a big draw for me. I also love the fact that the BEAMS is a decently rare true JDM engine. I also think the BEAMS intake surge tank/manifold looks absolutely awesome The idea is to build a high revving, super responsive engine. I'm aiming for about 220-230bhp initially with further goals around the 250 mark.

I'm going to doing my best to document the whole process to add to the limited amount of BEAMS mr2 swap info out there. I'll be posting my progress on the swap to this blog as well as my Instagram page.

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