Certainly I was poking around lots of issues in my early days and I also went thru a lot of engines, but the connection between the two is weak. Or at least I’d like to think so.
It’s hard to remember now what the fate of all those engines were. I think the clearest link between one of my experiments and problems was my Accusump. At one point I had a temp engine with no scraper. It’s purpose was to get me thru 2 events while Chuck Baader rebuilt engine #7 into engine #9. He had built #7 but it had an oiling system problem probably related to a fault oil pressure relief valve. That temp engine, engine #8, had no oil control measures of any kind. At that time I had 3 oil pressure sensors and 2 oil pressure switches. I could see the oil pump often sucking air briefly and the Accusump often discharging oil and then refilling. But then the weird shit started happening. Once the Accusump disharged, I couldn’t get oil pressure back until the car sat for a couple minutes. Imagine sitting in your car and idling for 30secs but oil pressure never comes above zero. This only would happen when the Accusump entirely discharged, but hitting 3 hard turns in a row would indeed entirely discharge the Accusump. Then I had to turn the car off and sit for 5min. Then turn the car on and oil pressure would build as normal. It was the goddamndest thing.
Anyways, that killed temp engine #8 which I’d pulled out of an E30 I’d bought off of CL for a song. Not a great big loss. I pulled out the Accusump tho. I didn’t trust it anymore.
My Accusump ran fine for a while, the problems didn’t start until engine #8. I don’t even know for sure if the Accusump was the problem. So did my idea of installing an Accusump kill that engine? I don’t know. Maybe.
Lets see if I can rettle off the fate of each engine.
The below is a little confusing because I have 6 engines 4a-4f. That was necessary because I could have sworn that I remembered correctly the fate of engine #5 that overheated in the RA enduro. In order to keep calling that engine #5, I had to have 6 engines that want to be called #4. I think this is 18 total engines. Dang.
Engine #1. I got my car Fall 2007.
#2. Dec07 Audible rod knock leads to all bearings have to be replaced. No one told me about 1qt oil over, scrapers, baffles, or any of that. My first engine lasted 3 months. This is why I try to ensure that newbies don’t make the same mistakes I do/did. For counting purposes I called this an engine failure.
#3 Fall 08 Molitor dorks up my head. I decided that what I needed was a cherry head. So began the Molitor Saga. He built the head and installed it just prior to RA iN Dec. He then brings my car to the track and it ran like crap. I let him take it back to the shop.
#4a Molitor dorks up my whole engine. After a dozen repatitions of “your car is almost ready”. “Sorry not ready”, I get desparate to get my car back. I stake out Molitor’s shop for a week. First week of Feb, the coldest of the year, and I finally got him, me, and the cops all co-located. Got my non-running car back. Mystery motor wouldn’t start. I certainly had no idea of how to work on an engine so I took it to a local Savannah shop and they said major compression problems.
#4b The saga of the CMP engine replacement. CMP was in 3 days, and I had a non-running mystery motor. The early hero’s of SpecE30s, all of them gone now but for Robert Patton and Chuck Taylor, told me to get my car to CMP, and find a way to get an engine to CMP, and they’d get the motor swapped. Having never done anything more serious then changing my oil, this seemed like crazy talk. But I did as bid and showed up with my car and an engine from Strictly German. We swapped it Saturday morning in time for me to race Sat afternoon. It was epic.
In Fred Switzer’s defense, he was also there, he just wasn’t one early hero’s. Fred and I just kinda helped around the perimeter doing specific tasks as directed. Like holding cold drinks and wiping brows.
#4c. The Strictly German engine was weak. I pulled the head off and sent it to Metric Mechanic. One way or another I was going to end up with a cherry head. MM called me back and told them I’d sent them a 323i head. There went my core fee. I called Strictly German and told them about it, but I think they just perceived me a nut.
#4d The MM head fails. When my head came back from MM I put it on and it had lousy compression. I really had no idea what I was doing. I was way outside my experience zone putting a head on, or doing compression and leakdown tests. I also did a drip test on the MM head. I was sure that I was just doing it wrong. MM was sure that their head was fine, since they do them all the time. So night after night for a month I’d install the MM head and do some tests, then the next night I’d install one of two take-off heads, and do the same tests. I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong such that the MM head was failing. It was very frustrating. I got to be pretty good at R/R’ing heads tho. Finally I put my foot down and told MM I was shipping the head back. Doing all of these tests on these different heads night after night I could not find a way that the MM head proved to be ok. Either it was screwed up somehow, or I was losing my mind.
4e. The MM head is killed. MM called me a week later and said they found that all the valves seats had been improperly ground on my head and they all leaked like seives. The problem was that altho they do lots of M20 heads, they almost never do one to stock specs, so from their perspective my head was kind of a one-off. Something got miscalibrated and it came out wrong. They sent me another head.
I picked up my block and pistons from my machine shop and took everything to a local race shop that had agreed to allow me to participate in the build. I learned a lot over the next 2 days, but the primary lesson was to have one shop responsible for all aspects of an engine build. MM did the head, a machine shop did the block, and now I had a race shop doing the build. I wasn’t at the shop when the head went on the engine. The shop somehow mislaid the head’s rocker arm shaft retaining pin, and not being familiar with M20 heads didn’t notice. It was at Road Atlanta the next day that the shaft turned, which moved the oiling holes and the cam cut the head up for lack of oil. I think a couple rockers busted too.
4f. MM takes pity on me. To the surprise of MM I called them up a couple days later and asked them to build me another head. They were pretty mortified at what happened. The next day they called me up and said that they were building me a new head at their cost. And that’s why I’ve always been a big MM fan. They really squared me away that day. I’d been going thru huge money and between the Molitor saga and head struggles, I was running low on enthusiasm.
#5. Dec09? This engine failed at RA in an 8hr enduro. It had my “at cost” head and was a perfect engine. It was killed by a slow coolant leak out of the hose that feeds the throttle body. I wasn’t driving it at the time. This is why I remove all coolant hoses that I don’t absolutely have to have.
#6 Feb09. This was #5 with it’s head repaired. After asking everyone I knew what I needed to do to fix #5 I pulled the pistons and “inspected” their rings. The rings looked find to me so I re-installed the pistons. That “inspect” the piston rings that my betters guided me to do was bad advice. What they should have told me is “replace” the piston rings. Once I put #6 back together it ran for 2 laps and failed with no compression.
#7 Apr09. The engine that never had good oil pressure. Chuck Baader built this engine. As bad luck would have it, something prevented it from ever having good oil pressure. I ran it a couple months and then shipped it back to Chuck. The problem might have been the oil pressure releif valve, which had probably come from my #5. I don’t know. Sometimes lady luck is with you, and sometimes not. Chuck replaced the bearings and oil pressure relief valve and all was well.
#8 May09. This was my temp junkyard motor I used for an event or two while Chuck turned #7 into #9.
#9 Jun09. This was a great engine.
#10. The first MM engine. In early 2010 Rich Bratton and I spent a week at MM. It was really terrific. We were guests in their house and spent 18hrs/day with them in the shop. Totally awesome. Rich came back with a full engine and I came back with 2 bottom ends. For no good reason I pulled #9 and put in one of my MM engines. #9 became a spare and sits in the garage to this day.
#11. Feb12 New #6. I had #10 when I went into the wall at RA in Dec11. A week after the crash I bought and ugly duckling GTS2 E30 and converted it to Spec. The engine that came with that car was #11.
#12. Apr12. #11 was weak. I was afraid I might have bent the crank of #10 so I installed the 2nd MM bottom end.
#13. Early 2013 I pulled the head and did a slight refresh of the valve-valve seat seal with some honing paste or whatever you call that stuff.