ENGINE WORK  May, 2009


May 1 - TIG welded the LT rad coolant line I made up, and installed it.  I had to bend the header pipe brace some to clear the hose.   New routing is great - no longer goes under oil filter, as it came from Eggenfellner, so no interference with oil changes.  Added Adel clamps to secure LT radiator coolant line.  Reinstalled Evans NPG+ waterless coolant.   I'd planned to ditch the Evans, but I will continue to try it for now.  It has a much higher boiling point than water, but it also isn't nearly as efficient at cooling as water.  We'll see how it all works with the new radiators.   2.0 hr

  Here is a large detailed pic of the underside of the engine.  Bottom of pic is fwd.  The very bottom corners of the pic show the lower radiator hose fittings.   On the lower RT, it shows the 45 I used to connect the RT rad.  For the LT rad, you can see the custom pipe I welded together from a 45 and a piece of Eggenfellner's tubing to go around the oil pan.  The LT rad line also uses another of the 45s I bought, partially visible just behind the heater hose (covered with black split corrugated tubing).  The planning & fabrication for the LT coolant line routing took a lot of dicking around and trying different things to get it just right.  The old line ran right under the center of the oil filter, and probably would have had to be removed to get the oil filter off.  The heater hose goes under the supercharger air duct.  Top of pic is wastegate and supercharger air ducting to intercooler.  On the lower RT, you can see where the supercharger air inlet goes between engine tubes and below RT radiator coolant line.  The K&N air filter will get plumbed into that, as soon as it arrives.   Scratch marks (I filed them smooth) on LT header pipe brace show where I had to bend the brace a bit to make sure it didn't touch the LT coolant hose.  I later added an Adel clamp to the welded tubing in the middle of the LT hose line, to support the line from flexing.   The brown rod is the supercharger belt tension rod I made back in January with LT-hand threads on one end, so it can be properly adjusted.  RT edge of pic is bottom of supercharger.  Lower LT of pic shows bottom of oil cooler thermostat and LT header EGT probe.  All the header pipe nuts are safety-wired, as is the oil drain plug.  I'll probably have to safety the drain plug to something else when it comes time to install the air filter.  Pretty busy place under the engine!  Finally got it all so everything manages to avoid hitting anything else.


  This show the supercharger inlet air adapter installed.  You can also see the RT radiator lower coolant line installed.

May 2 - resume work on throttle and wastegate cables.  Install clevis tie rods, wire grips, and Bowden cable clamps onto throttle quadrant.  I've found from removing previously installed wire grips that the tapered part that grips the wire will twist inside the housing nut when they are tightened, making them, IMHO, a single-use item.  The Bowden cable clamps won't go on over the Bowden cables.  Apparently, the lined cables have a slightly larger outside diameter than the unlined 7/32" cables.  Will need to find or get probably a "B" drill or reamer for that.   2.0 hr

May 4 - received my K&N air filter order, placed MSC order in the evening for Bowden cable clamps reamers and a few other things.  The K&N filter looks like it will fit well.

May 5 - received my MSC order.   MSC is amazing.   They always get me my stuff the next day, which is amazing in itself, but this order wasn't placed until after 6 PM, so the fact that I still got it the next day shows how super their customer service is.

May 7 - fitting K&N air filter to supercharger air inlet & making 2.5" ducting between the two.  Cut a vee-notch out of 0.049" wall 2.5" tubing to change filter angle a bit.  Filed notch a LONG time to get it where I wanted it and with nil gap.  2.0 hr

May 8 - prep & tack MIG weld 2.5" inlet air duct tubing.    0.5 hr

  The K&N RU-1830 air filter comes with a 10 degree inlet angle.  I needed more angle to make the filter horizontal as the duct comes down from the supercharger.  After cutting out a vee with the bandsaw, I spent a lot of time filing the edges of the vee so it would come together as tightly as this.  It's now tack welded in place at the bottom with MIG.  I'll finish it at home with the TIG.  Using the MIG, especially on thin wall stuff, is like trying to hit something (and nothing else) with a machine gun; the TIG is a lot more finesse; like a sniper rifle, using the gun analogy.

I'm beginning to suspect that, in addition to the other quality problems mentioned earlier about the Mac's radiators (see Apr 8, Apr 17, and Apr 22), I think I may have a leak in my RT radiator.  I may have spilled some when I filled it and vented the tops of the radiators, but I doubt it.   Some dripping keeps showing up under the engine.

May 9 - TIG welded air inlet tubing  0.5 hr

May 10 - back to the hangar.  Sure enough, my RT radiator is definitely leaking.   Further checking determined that there are TWO leaks, both at poor welds by Mac's Radiator.  Worked on installing air filter and back to more work on throttle and wastegate control cables.  Drained RT radiator - the bungs in the lower (outer) corners are quite handy for that.  4.0 hr

  Here are the 2 leaks in my RT radiator.   When I left the hangar a couple days ago, I thought I had a leak, so I wiped everything up very carefully.  Now, this renewed leak confirms it.  The source of the one on the LT is obvious (the black pinhole directly above the drop of coolant)and should be easy to fix in place .  The one on the RT is a bit more mysterious and the tank weld is covered up by the flange plate that is tack welded over the tank welds.   &^%$#@ Mac's Radiator and their crappy, sloppy work!


  Closeup of the bottom of the leak on RT in above pic.


  Top pic of same section of weld, from the top.  You can see the wet section.


  Here's the same section, after wiping dry.  I can't see exactly where the leak is coming from yet, but I'm fairly sure it's somewhere between these lines.  Mighty poor welding.  Don't they test these things before shipping???  Obviously not.  The leak is probably in the poor edges (black crystal-looking part) of the weld on both sides of the RT line.  The radiator tilts a bit to the LT, so a leak at the RT line would make it look wet down to the LT line.   For past welding needs, I haven't felt confident enough to do my own welding on plane parts, but given the quantity and quality of TIG welding I've been doing lately, I feel fairly confident in rewelding this myself.

May 11 - Decided that I will fix the radiator myself, but not in place.  Removed RT radiator.  Found at least one more leak on the engine side of the radiator after removing it.  More work on throttle/wastegate cables layout.  Installed inlet air duct and K&N air filter.  2.0 hr

  This obvious pinhole on the engine side of the radiator had a drop of coolant next to it, so I assume this is yet another leak.


  Within a few inches of the above pinhole is this big one in the center of the pic, as well as the smaller one in the pic lower RT corner.


  and here's yet another one in the same area.  There are pinholes all over these welds.

May 12 - TIG welded all the known leaks and about a dozen pinholes altogether.  The process didn't go real smooth, but was OK in the end.  The new distributed gas lens I got yesterday helped.  It let me put the electrode out further to get into some of the tighter spots.   Fortunately, all known leaks were on the outer welds.  If any had been on the inside, like behind the side plates, the whole radiator would have had to be redone.       1.5 hr

May 13 - received the Stant cooling system pressure tester I ordered from Amazon on Monday.  After I reinstall the RT radiator, I'll use it to pressure test the system before reinstalling the coolant.

May 14 - Reinstalled RT radiator and pressure-tested it at 7 pounds for a couple hours - no leaks at all.  All seemed good, so I bolted it on, refilled all the coolant, and pressure-tested it all one more time.  Resumed working on throttle & wastegate cables.  Used new Greenlee punch to punch a hole in firewall for a second cable.  It didn't work very well - it made a ragged hole because the pilot hole was nearly as big as the punch hole and because the stainless steel is so tough.  It also made the hole a bit too big; I should have just used a hole saw, as I've done before.  Drilled metal grommet eyeball out to #1, then reamed to 15/64".  Spent a bunch of time on a very careful layout for the cables; routing, lengths, curve radii, angles, supports, etc.   Diddled around a lot with wastegate cable routing, but finally got the housing installed.  6.0 hr

  This shows the Stant cooling system pressure tester in operation.   It worked great, and seemed to be well made with good materials.  Cost about $70 from Amazon.  Some of these cost over $500.   A lot of what you are paying for in the more expensive kits is all the adapters.  If you can use a standard "A" cap, like here, then a simple one like this that doesn't come with a lot of adapters is what you need.

May 15 - Went out flying in the morning in the Challenger with my friend George Ward.  I got a weather brief, and they said winds max 8, but it was really too windy; gusting up to 20.  The hour-long flight was pretty bouncy, and coming in on final was quite wild.  OK landing, though.  After lunch, George was a big help in completing the installation and adjustment of both throttle and wastegate cables.  Now, I just need to reconnect the batteries and DC control wiring, and the engine will be ready to start again.   3.0 hr

  After getting the routing for the cable housings arranged and cut to length, I put the inner wires in, cut them to length, and connected them to the quadrant.


  Here is the throttle cable all installed and adjusted.


  This pic from under the engine shows the air filter installed onto the angled 2.5" duct I welded.  In the background, at the lower LT edge of the pic, you can see the two "one-hole" metal firewall grommets I used to get the throttle and wastegate cables through the firewall.  Both throttle and wastegate cables are all installed and adjusted now.  The wastegate cable took a lot of planning to minimize the radius of the bend and to clear everything in its path.

May 18 - I found out that one of the few remaining Eggenfellner-supplied components of this FWF horror story is also designed wrong.  An alternator is supposed to spin at max 10,000 rpm.  The pulley ratios Eggenfellner chose will run our alternator at 13,500 rpm at 2700 prop rpm!  At anything over 4,000 engine rpm, the alternator is being overspeeded.  This is the same problem as with the wrong pulley/speed selections Eggenfellner made with overspeeding the supercharger (see June, 2007), necessitating that I buy a new custom supercharger pulley (see July, 2008).  I found out alternators reach their maximum output typically around 6,000 rpm, and that increasing the speed beyond this does not increase the output, yet it increases the horsepower consumption of the cooling fans.  I'm told alternators perform best between 2,400 RPM and 6,000 alternator rpm, with the greatest efficiency at 2,400 alternator rpm.  I may or may not swap out the alternator pulley.   At least a couple of the few remaining STi owners are swapping out the entire alternator and its fragile Eggenfellner mounting system for a more powerful one and a more robust mounting.

May 21 - It still looks and smells like I have some coolant seepage.  Funny -it never leaked before.  It seems it may be coming from around the main drain plug on the red anodized coolant distribution block.  I modified a 9/16" Allen wrench to get into the short space between the plug and the supercharger belt adjustment rod right under the plug.  I managed to get the plug a bit tighter - we'll see what things look like tomorrow morning.  Worked on fine-tuning throttle cable adjustment.  I wanted to confirm for sure that the throttle opened all the way, so I removed the intake air temp sensor probe housing and used a penlight and mirror to confirm the throttle butterfly goes fully flat when the quadrant lever is fully forward.  Reinstalled & sealed intake air temp sensor mount.  Worked some on securing more engine wiring harness.  2.5 hr

May 22 - I put a box-end wrench on the end of the 9/16" Allen wrench and got the main coolant drain plug a bit tighter - maybe a total of 25 degrees or so.  I don't see any more sign of seepage.  Also tightened up inlet air temp probe mount plate after the sealant had cured.  0.5 hr

May 23 - Installed & reconnected DC control panel and batteries.  All looked OK, but when I turned on the ECU switch, the coils fuse blew immediately.  There's some confusion on my part now as to how the coils were supposed to be wired - obviously NOT as I wired them.  Emailed Ross, John, Randy to ask for clarification.  2.5 hr

May 26 - Randy, John, and Ross all confirmed that how I thought coils should be wired is the correct way, so I must have made a mistake somehow.  Will check it out later in week when I go to hangar.  At this point, I can't imagine how I could have miswired it, as I'm very careful in my wiring, but obviously I've done something wrong.

  This how the STi coils are supposed to be wired, and how I thought I did it.  I must have cross-wired something. 

May 27 - finally got around to calling Mac's Radiator about the radiator quality problems.   Talked to Curtis MacDonald, the owner.   He asked me to forward him the emails Randy and I had sent Sam, along with the pictures of the quality problems.  He said he'd look into it and get back to us.   JULY, 2009 FOLLOWUP:  We never heard from Curtis again.    Obviously, his company's poor product quality and poor customer service begin with him.     Randy and I strongly recommend against doing business with Mac's Radiator.

May 28 - opened up wiring harness and confirmed I wired it as per above drawing.  The coils circuit itself isn't shorting out, but the coils circuit fuse blows when I turn on the ECU.  To me, that seems like the ECU is constantly triggering the coil.   Emailed Ross to get his help on it.  Ross suggested it could be the ECU ground.  Sure enough - I had installed the ECU ground (a long time ago) in a separate location, as per instructions, but when I was tying up the harness recently, I disconnected the ECU ground to get better access to the harness to wrap silicone tape around it where it went through the firewall.  After doing all the harness securing, I'd forgotten to reconnect the ground.  After finishing the silicone tape wrap and reconnecting the ground, the coils are no longer being energized when I engage the ECU switch.   Agreed to buy a MT prop brush mount bracket from another Egg customer.  Ran engine briefly to prove it will run.  Idle speed needs adjusting.  ET & AT (engine temp & air temp) values are way off from EIS values.  Not getting any EIS tach reading; things to fix.  2.5 hr

May 29 - Running engine more & checking things out.  Hooked up timing light & set SDS timing initial value (magnet position = 90).  It runs a bit rough & seems to prefer being set to 10-15% leaner.  Will get into tuning later.   Set idle speed stop on throttle body.  Ross helped with ET/AT values by telling me what brand sensors to configure in the ECU.  Getting better readings now.  Enabled EIS page 5 (EGT).   John Moody sent me advice on modifying the EIS PC board so it will see the SDS tach signal.   Still seems to idle better at 10-15% leaner.  2.0 hr

  Remove these 2 components (resistor and capacitor) to make the EIS work with the SDS or other electronic ignitions, such as Lasar.  Click HERE to see removal instructions and a drawing of the 2 components to remove.   Click HERE to see GRT's photo of the same thing.

May 30 - more engine runs & tweaking the instrumentation.  It seems to not have a cold high idle, like in a car.  Not sure now if that's how it is with SDS or if the SDS configuration needs some tweaking.  Doing it manually with the throttle lever for now.  Set SDS oxy sensor brand parameter & now getting air/fuel mixture readings ok.   Used that to confirm I need 15% leaner at 1250 rpm and 10% leaner at 1500 rpm.  This SDS is pretty slick.   1.0 hr


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