Making a car look good is hard work. The details make all the difference, and with a project as huge as an engine rebuild, there are a lot of details to tidy up. Little performance improvement options also encourage project creep, especially if they’re cheap on the surface—or worse, if they’ll take Justy little extra time.
Exhibit A: Removing grease and grime.
The Justy is greasy. It’s still greasy. Though I sprayed it like crazy with a quality degreasing chemical several times (as discussed in this post), that stuff’s only gonna come off in layers. It’s got years of oil leaks with embedded road grime. I still need to roll the chassis out of the garage, give it another thorough spraydown, scrubbing and hosing, and repeat that treatment on the transmission. I just bought a used Subaru-powered pressure washer on Craigslist for $50 and spent another $100 replacing the pump, so that’ll help cut through the grease.
Then, as I install all other bits—the intake manifold, timing belt cover, distributor—I need to do the same cleaning, scrubbing and general descuzzifying so it acceptably matches my impeccably clean engine block and head. I’ve already gone to the trouble of cleaning, derusting and respraying the oil pan, so I’ve lost the battle to resist cleaning everything. All this essentially guarantees it’ll leak oil and undo my hours of effort in just a few short drives. It’s not quite Murphy’s Law, but it’s close enough.
Exhibit Beta: Rust repair, improvements, and general appearance.
The battery tray is rusty and gross. I have a welder, but I need a tray. At the very least I need to remove the rust and repaint it. If I can cut a decent part of some battery tray from a junkyard, this will make good welding practice. Finding a good match may be a challenge, because finding a Justy is nearly impossible. I may do little with this in the end, if I can find a good place to mount a tiny motorsports battery
in the trunk under the rear of the car somewhere.
There’s also a rust hole behind the front left wheel. This can probably be patched up after the car is mobile without too much hassle. This is also good welding practice for me.
Exhibit 3: Performance & Reliability
I bought on eBay a used header from a Honda CBR1000RR motorcycle on a whim. It looked like a reasonably good fit for the Justy if I lopped off a tube and figured out some way to adapt the flanges. I have a welder, and failing that, I know of a good exhaust shop that does cheap work. How hard can it be? Maybe I should look for a cheap exhaust shop that does good work instead.
Well, I have a cheap flux-core welder and a cheap MIG welder, but as I mentioned, my welding skills aren’t highly practiced. I’d like this thing to be leak-free. I’m hoping my exhaust guy tells me one of two things:
- Yes, he can do it cheaply. (In which case I’ll bring my engine on a stand and let him work his fabrication magic.)
- No, but this is not stainless steel. (In which case I’ll booger and splatter my way to a custom Justy header. It is possible. Lincoln Electric says it’s also possible for stainless, but I’d have to buy a spool of different welding wire.)
Regardless, this is primarily for aesthetics and some weight savings rather than absolute performance.
These ridiculous sway bar mounts. Engineering like this reminds me of my previous AMC Eagle project. They had the support arm in place, but something changed at some point late in the design stage and instead of redesigning that whole piece (because presumably they’d already gone to production), Subaru instead just made an adapter bracket. This is not very Japanese.
They’re clearly stressed enough to crack, as evidenced by someone’s previous repair job. These brackets need another support point to prevent this from happening again. It would be a trivial job for any fabricator, but I’m a do-it-yourself hack. It will probably take me hours.
I’ve also often wondered about the Justy’s infamous oil pump. There are myriad posts on the Subaru Justy forums (there are at least two such forums) about the oil pump’s weaknesses, the allegedly failure-prone front engine cover, and the low-capacity, starvation-prone oil sump. Adding an oil cooler is hard on an oil pump. Overfilling the sump is an easy, if inelegant solution, but requires a quality oil to prevent foaming. Adapting a dry-sump system involves a lot of cleverness, time, effort, and probably deleting the A/C. It’s been done by one enterprising rallycrosser at great effort.
But the low cost of oil filter sandwich adapters makes an oil accumulator a solid proposition. I’ve been shopping for a used 1-quart unit, but the only one I’ve found (it comes with an electric valve and AN hose) still tills my wallet for nearly $300. I’m hesitant, and the header modifications might eat up my budget. I soothe my concerns by telling myself that $300 is a lot less than another engine rebuild—or worse, a window in the block. We’ll see what I can afford.
[Photos copyright Alan Cesar | Hooniverse 2016]