Passing the Bar

I asked for an 8 point roll bar for Christmas.  Santa Claws or Dad delivered, the verdict is still out on what jolly good soul is responsible for the purchase.  It’s a Competition Engineering set with a main hoop specific to the car and then a universal tube kit for everything else.  The main hoop was relatively easy, once I picked a spot to mount I measured and cut using the 14″ cutoff saw.  I went for the rear tubes next and was immediately stopped by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  Luckily, the godfather of the interwebs, Google, delivered in the form of http://www.dogfeatherdesign.com/ttn_js/.  I entered my tube sizes and a bunch of different angles and printed off a whole pile of templates.  I cut them out, taped them to my tubes, and went to town with my 3″ cutoff wheel.  I used one of my chinese carbide burrs to angle the inside of the cuts and then made a giant slag pile to tack the bars in place on the car.  Pictured is future son-in-law welding up the tube with his TIG welder.

Staycation!

I took a week off of work.  This was no vacation–I had work to do.  Specifically a variant of the internet-famous $50 paint job.  I had actually successfully painted the roof panel for my Corvette using the roll-on method I found on Rick Wrench’s website (http://www.rickwrench.com/index79master.htm?http://www.rickwrench.com/50dollarpaint.html).  My paint actually turned out quite good but let me tell you, you will sand until your arms fall off if you do a whole car.  That’s why I took a week off work, my arms are needed to type on computers so I’d need them to regrow before returning to work.

I started out with the same roller and Tupperware I’d used for the Corvette roof.  I hit the whole car with my random action orbital sander (thanks Harbor Freight) with 220 grit, then 400, and then hit it with a block wrapped in wet 600 grit.  Then I took by roller, my Rustoleum Satin Black in one quart can, mixed in some acetone and rolled a section of hood.

I came out the next morning to crap.  If you try rolling paint on a car in the middle of winter, expect crap.  I fully expected crap but I expected I’d clean it up like I had the gloss black from my previous project.  The only thing I didn’t think about is that you can’t clean up satin or flat paint–if you sand it, it gets shiny or at least doesn’t match the paint on the rest of the car.  I’d have to spray.

Back to Harbor Freight I went and picked up one of their finest $9.99 spray guns.  I picked up a $4.99 regulator to attach to the bottom of the gun while I was at it.  I highly recommend the regulator, I tried spraying without the regulator and it’s hard to have any idea what pressure is at the gun without it, I lost a lot of pressure in my 50′ Harbor Freight air hose reel (not Harbor Freight’s fault, just the 50′ of hose connected to another 20′ line from the compressor, a second regulator, and an oil/water trap).  I bought some mixing cups from the store that sells it all, Amazon, and went to town.

In retrospect, I believe gloss would have probably been easier to deal with since I could sand out and then buff any runs.  But gloss would have highlighted my nearly complete lack of body work or even rust repair that I completely neglected in my quest for burnouts and loud engine noises.  I spent all five nights of that week spraying and spent the day sanding.  I learned some good tricks, such as wrap your sandpaper around a paint stir stick to sand out runs (so many, many runs).  The most valuable trick I learned is to pay someone else to paint your car.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-ve
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Leaks, drips, dribbles, and transmission coolers

I had really put the old jury-rig on to the turbo oil returns through the front cover.  I had the best of intentions, I really did.  I carefully selected and drilled holes.  I bought a nice Chinese NPT tap set and tapped the 1/2″ holes through the aluminum front cover.  I picked out a nice set of 1/2″ NPT to 10AN elbows. Everything was going great.  Then, just like Johnny Cash said, “Up to now my plan went all right until we tried to put it all together when night, and that’s when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.”

I started threading the elbows in and they hit the raised center section of the front cover.  I stared in disbelief, then tried again like any rational person.  After failing a second time, I tried staring in disbelief again with the desperate hope that if I could somehow muster up enough disbelief the pieces would fit together.  Alas, they did not.  I hogged out the holes through the front cover and grabbed four romex connector nuts and four big o-rings.  I threaded a romex nut onto my elbow, slipped on an o-ring, jammed it through the front cover, then slipped on another o-ring and the other romex nut.  I tightened as much as possible and told myself that it would be fine.  I willed it.  Unfortunately I was not willful enough.  The solution leaked like a sieve once you spun up the motor.  Ugh.

I thought about alternatives, mostly involving JB Weld, but finally broke down and got junior to TIG the elbows into the front cover.  That worked.  Thanks junior.

The other pictures all involve ideas to place the transmission cooler.  I originally thought about sticking it in the space that would have been occupied by the heater motor but decided it wouldn’t get enough airflow, plus the hoses would look like crap.  I thought about mounting it up on the frame horn, also would look like crap.  I even kicked around the idea of mounting it in the center between the two frame horns, kind of floating in front of the harmonic balancer.  But it all looked like crap.  It went under the car, passenger’s side, hanging under the rear seat pan.  It still looks like crap but you can’t see it, so like a tree falling in the woods, does it look like crap?  I think not.  I bought some nice Chinese 3/8 braided line and 6AN fittings and plumbed it all up.  I put a GM two wire temperature sensor in the output line and hooked it to the ECU so I could see the trans temp as well.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Bad welding, loose ends, and the countdown

This was a period of mostly loose ends.  I had run my main harness through the giant hole in the firewall where the heater core used to be.  Now that everything was run I didn’t want to unplug everything, pull all the wiring back, and then run it through a grommet.  That would have been the right thing to do.  But that’s not what I did.  I took an old rubber mat, chopped it up, and then pop-riveted it to two pieces of sheet metal and then assembled them around the harness and screwed them to them firewall.  I threw split loom at everything in the engine bay.  Good enough for burnouts.

I also took the opportunity to install hall effect sensors to set up traction control.  In the rear I glued two magnets to the back of the differential pinion and welded a little bracket next to it to hold the sensor.  Up front I glued five magnets straight out from the lug holes and welded my sensor bracket onto the steering knuckle.  Well, I tried to weld the bracket onto the steering knuckle.  I welded it once and it fell off on its own.  I welded it a second time, then gently bent it into position only to have it come off in my hand.  Then I got junior to weld it and it stayed.  I should point out that he used my el-cheapo flux core welder.  This is significant in that it proves that the operator makes a difference and also proves that I can’t blame my welder for my bad welds.  Seeing as how this is my blog I suppose I can blame whatever I want, so bad welder it must be.

I also patched the giant hole in the floor.  I had tried doing this earlier unsuccessfully.  My failure the first time was not cutting out a large enough section.  If there is a enough rust to eat through your floor in one section then you can safely assume that the surrounding sections are also pretty lean.  I assumed that I wanted to make the job as easy as possible so I cut out a tiny section.  Then I proceeded to burn holes everywhere with the welder.  Then I gave up.

When attacking the problem the second time after watching YouTube I came at it from a different direction.  I laid a piece of cardboard into the space and made corner cuts to fold the piece into the space.  I transferred the cuts to a piece of sheet metal and folded it to fit.  I set it in place and massaged it with my Mattox hammer and dolly set from (you guessed it) Harbor Freight.  Then, with it snugly in place, I marked the perimeter with my sharpie and cut away the rust damaged area, leaving about a 1/4″ overlap between the existing floor and my replacement piece.  I fired up my trusty flux core welder and began stitching it all together.

This was all running up to The Big Reveal where I was going to triumphantly show the car off to the world, the hot rod shop, the parents, etc.  I was working feverishly on the car after work, and on this particular evening was still working as 11:00PM came and went.  I parked the car in the driveway, ready for the big show tomorrow morning.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-27,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

 

Frickin Disaster Frickin Strikes Again

This is the morning of The Big Reveal.  The honest guy from work, he’s genuinely interested in seeing how a $50 paintjob turns out.  The guys at the shop are curious.  People at work are asking about the car.  I’m ready for show and tell.  At 7:11AM I strut out to the driveway.  I immediately notice the significant amount of dew that is directly under the car.  Under the car and slowly making its way down the driveway.  Green dew.  Lots and lots of slowly dribbling, sweet smelling, green dew.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not dew, it’s antifreeze and it looks like a gallon is spread across the driveway.  I have hopeful thoughts of “I didn’t tighten radiator hose enough” or “Insert other simple fix here”.  If I’d have had Dorothy’s shoes I’d have been clicking the heels together saying “There’s no place like loose pipe clamps”.  Alas, it was not a pipe clamp, it was the left bank.  Dead center, dripping from the joint between the block and the head.  I closed my eyes, real tight like a little kid that doesn’t want to see something.  When I opened my eyes, everything was fixed and I had a pony.

Except nothing was fixed and it was still dripping, mocking me with each green relentless unstoppable drip.  I went back in my house and told my wife I was selling the car.  She was very supportive and told me to go buy a new engine.  I told her how much a 376ci LSX cost so new engines are out of the question.  I got a cup of coffee, hopped in my daily driver, and drove up to the shop for my abuse.

My friends were surprisingly decent to me.  Well, as decent as friends can be I guess.  Once they determined I wasn’t going to harm myself over my failed project they began the abuse, so that’s being a good group of friends right there.  They also abused with care–they wanted to get their digs in but were making sure I wasn’t too upset.  Thanks guys, love you too!

I left the car sit all day.  I didn’t even go in the garage, I didn’t surf the internet looking for engines.  I moped.  So this is the end, the blog stops here, it’s been fun, and thanks.

Doom, Despair, and Agony on me

I had sworn the car off for that Saturday.  When Sunday came I had second thoughts.  Maybe I’ll just go take a look and see what happened.  I’ll just clean the garage a bit and putter.  Next thing I knew I had the whole top end of the engine off.

It was immediately apparent what had happened.  I had lifted the left head multiple times, letting the combustion get out past the fire ring of the Fel-Pro standard head gasket.  It had finally burned away enough of the gasket to begin a steady drip even when not running.  Here are the lessons learned:

  1. Buy an MLS gasket you cheap tightwad.  If a thousand GM engineers recommend this gasket for their supercharged LSA engines, then it’s a sure bet it’s good enough for my application.  Yes, a single head gasket cost more than the pair of conventional head gaskets I put on the engine, but if it prevents me from having to tear the engine apart again let’s pony up.
  2. If you are going to use Chinese head studs, don’t be a pussy.  I was torn on the Chinese head studs.  The last thing I wanted was to break one off flush with the block and trash the whole thing.  The manufacturer recommended 60ftlb of torque, and that’s what I did.  I had read mixed reviews on the ol’ interwebs where some people had them snap at 50ftlb and others cranked them to 100ftlb with no apparent issues.  Not wanting any trouble, I took them to 60ftlb as the manufacturer recommended.  Of course the manufacturer isn’t using them on a turbo’d turd, are they?  Nope.  I should have sucked it up and cranked them to at least 80lbft.  It was too late now.  I bought ARP studs as a replacement (at three times the cost), cranked them to 90lbft and have been beating on the engine ever since with no apparent harm.

For those who think this is the only time I’ve thrown good money after bad, think again.  Worse yet, for those who think I’ve learned my lesson I say to you “Pshaw, the next cheapo parts I get are going to be great.”

There is a closeup of the shaft rockers in the pictures and you can see the dreaded “chocolate milkshake” of coolant mixed with oil had started to form already.  I drained the oil right away.  After I reassembled I put in cheap mineral oil from Walmart and ran the motor for 30 minutes or so, then dumped in some kind of oil cleaner treatment I picked up and ran for another five minutes.  Then I drained the oil, replaced the filter, and put in my usual fill, Mobil1.

Reassembly and getting back on the road again

I spent the next two weeks fixing the damage and reassembling.  I did some of the “while you’re in there” project while I was at it.  Anyone who’s done a DIY project is familiar with “while you’re in there”.  It can quickly turn into a hole with no bottom.  Luckily I was too rammy to get into too many side projects, those tires weren’t going to burnout by themselves.

The side projects I chose this time were the setup of my boost controller and the methanol injection plumbing.  The boost controller was easy–extend a wire from the ECU to the boost controller, drag in lots of rubber tube, done.  The methanol plumbing was another story.  I spent a while at the local hardware store picking out high pressure line and fittings.  I went with a McMaster Carr nozzle as per this guy: http://www.turbomirage.com/water-alcohol-injection-parts-list.html.  Another trip for more fittings specific to the nozzle and we were ready to roll.  Since I had the intake off to pull the heads I took the opportunity to drill and die-grind an oblong opening in the bottom of the intake tube for my methanol nozzle.  I put it in at about a 45* angle point into the intake.  I put the nozzle about two inches from the intercooler so there was a decent amount of time for the water and methanol to flash to vapor before being pulled into a cylinder.  Plus it fit nice there too.  I still hadn’t decided on tank and pump placement yet, but, you know, “while I was in there” it made sense to put that nozzle in.

Disaster Strikes, yeah, yeah, blah, blah

I’m getting tired of titling posts “Disaster Strikes”.  It’s a recurring theme around here.

This particular disaster involved oil, heat, and poor choices.  The oil is coming out of the turbos, so is the heat, and the poor choices are all me.  When I first jury-rigged my turbo oil returns in to the front cover I used aluminum hard line between the turbo and the front cover.  It looked great, but as mentioned previously, leaked more oil than the Exxon Valdez.  When I had the front cover welded up I went to the local hardware store for tube and ended up with some high temperature, semi-transparent food grade silicon hose.  I liked the idea of being able to make sure I was moving oil through the turbos.  The high temperature part was defined as 300* F.  The oil is supposed to be around 200 some odd degrees, and I figured those crafty engineers surely had a safety factor fluffed in there.  So the poor choice was made to buy and install said hose.

On this fine day I bipped around town, tooling thither and yon, doing occasional pulls and impressing myself immensely.  That was before I started smelling oil.  I pulled it over, lifted the hood, closed the hood, and gave up.  Apparently the combination of the oil heat and the radiant heat of the turbo casing adds up to more than the safety factor on the 300* hose.  It was melted.  It was pulling out of the AN fitting.  It sucked.  A quick wrap of black electrical tape to stem the worst of the leaking got me limped home.  I did take a nice picture of the car while it hemorrhaged oil into a store parking lot, so I have that going for me.

You may think with all the recent disasters that I would buy higher quality components.  You would be wrong with that thought.  Before I went to bed that evening the stainless steel braided hose was on it’s way from that magical land of knockoffs and cheap labor, China.

The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat

This week provided victory and defeat in equal portions.  The defeat was down to, you guessed it, poor choices.  The car made a fine showing at the service center, joy rides, burnouts and victory laps for all who wanted one.  The car pulled hard and went straight, time and time again.  All seemed right in the world.  But that’s when I got cocky.

A bit later in the week I had a day off work.  My son was part of a fancy seminar, but that wasn’t until 1:00PM.  So at 10:30AM my daughter and I took off in the racecar for the local CVS.  We hung a right and were pulling hard uphill in second, and as we rounded the small bend there is a flagger standing there stopping traffic.  I hit the hooks and got the car stopped without too much drama but for some reason, the car stalled as it rolled to a stop one car shy of the flagger.  I held the started and got plenty of crank but no vroom, not even a shudder or a backfire.  Nothing.  No fire.

I’ve still got time.  The flagger has my lane stopped so I’m good.  I slow down and start troubleshooting.  I noticed that when flipping the main power on the ECU isn’t priming the fuel pump like it’s supposed to.  I grab my trusty laptop and manually turn on the fuel pump from the Tuner Studio software.  Nothing.  I knew from previous poor choices that my fuel pump ground wire left a bit to be desired.  I had just run a self tapping sheet metal screw through the trunk floor and grounded the pump there and called it good.  I had planned on coming back someday and welding a stud there for my grounds.  That day hadn’t come yet.

So no problem you may think.  Just pop the trunk and check the ground, you say.  Well.  The car came with no lock cylinder in the trunk.  I’ve been opening the trunk with a long flathead screwdriver.  A screwdriver that I failed to grab when I left for this short excursion.  And right about this time, as all the realizations start whapping me about the head, the flagman flips his sign from stop to slow.  The car in front of me takes off, and the cars behind just sit there.  I hop out of the car and start waving people past me, trying in equal measure to make sure I don’t get hit while making sure nobody recognizes me.  I’m also surveying the landscape to find the closest place where I can get the car off the road.  Naturally, I’m pointed up a pretty steep hill and there is a six foot high embankment on my right.  The closest spot to get off the road is a farm lane about 150 yards behind me.  I told my daughter to get in the drivers seat, put her foot on the brake, and ratchet it into neutral.  When the coast is clear, I tell her to start drifting backwards.

So here we go, drifting backwards against traffic.  I’m running alongside the driver’s door steering while yelling “Stop” or “Go” to my daughter who still hasn’t decided whether she’s dieing of fright or embarrassment.  I’m getting a lot of looks, a few “What the hell are you thinking” hands, and a couple of honks.  We eventually make our way back to the farm lane and, with a final big push, get the Fireturd rolled up out of the road.  Thank God.  Now for the next crisis.

I hop on Google maps and send my exact location to my son.  I call him and describe the screwdriver I need.  He says he just got out of the shower but he’ll be here soon.  Now for the next, and probably highest importance crisis.

I called my wife.  She’s the lady who told me not to take the Fireturd because something might happen and we’re on a schedule.  With the utmost confidence and the highest amount of indignance I could muster I scoffed at her suggestion.  “I’ve got all the problems wrapped up”, said I.  If I could have done an English accent I would have, for maximum indignity.  I added some bombastic hand gestures in there too.  Lucky for me she didn’t answer the phone.  Crisis averted.

Now we wait.  We are broken down about two miles from home, but yet it takes junior 15 minutes to get to us.  He finally shows up.  I take the screwdriver, put my daughter in his truck, give the kids my credit card, and send them on to the drugstore while I putz with the car.  With screwdriver in hand, I pop the truck and immediately go for the loose ground wire.  Except it’s not loose.  Not a bit.  Grounded like crazy.  I’m standing there pondering when I notice two flagmen towards me carrying a road closed sawhorse.  They don’t say a word as the plop the sawhorse thirty or forty feet up the road from where I’m parked.  I’m now inside the closed construction zone with a broken car and about 90 minutes to get it home.  The hits just keep coming.

Like any rational person upon finding what they thought was the culprit was not the culprit, I just tried it again anyway.  Sure enough, no fuel pump prime.  I got back out of the car and steeled myself for laying on my back in this muddy farm lane to check out the fuel pump wiring.  I was leaning on the trunk thinking about how stupid this was and how much it was about to get worse when I lay down in the mud, when the solution materialized before my eyes.  Somehow, even though it was literally right in front of me I overlooked the problem.  I wasn’t looking for a problem there because I had decided I already knew the problem.  Lesson learned, life.  Keep an open mind, I got it.

The problem lay directly with me and the way I chose to do things.  I had chosen to bolt the battery box through the trunk floor as per their directions.  I had done this before reinstalling the gas tank or even thinking about the roll bar structure.  When it came time to put the roll bar in I had to move the battery box out of the weld to get the welding torch in.  But, the nuts were now covered by the gas tank.  Of course the proper method would have been to drop the tank, remove the nuts and all-thread holding the battery box, leave the tank hang until all the welding was done, then reinstall everything.  I didn’t do that.  I cut the all-thread off, slid the battery box out of the way, tacked up the roll bar, and then ran it.  You may notice, eagle-eyed reader, that I didn’t reattach the battery box.  Why would you need to do that?  There’s 45 pound battery sitting in there, where is it gonna go?  It turns out, it’s gonna go wherever it damn well pleases.  And it did.  When I had hit the hooks, the battery slid forward, unplugging whole relay board attached to it, tearing wires in half and ripping them out of the splitloom willy nilly across the trunk space.  Some half-assed splicing and a bit of replugging wires and the engine roared to life.  The flagmen were kind enough to stop traffic in both directions for me, letting me leave the construction zone and get home.

The battery is now permanently attached to the trunk floor.  My daughter got her stuff at the drugstore, and the whole family made it to the fancy seminar in time.  Happy ending!

More Thrilling Victory, More Agony, and More Defeat

There’s a lesson in this post, and that is keep track of the choices you have made on parts when hotrodding your car.  That’s the moral of the story in this tale of woe for those who don’t feel like slogging through the whole thing.

I grew up hanging around my father’s personal garage.  He was a teacher, he did the car restoration thing for fun.  But he had a service center that he hung out at and did occasional work for, just like I do now.  His service center of choice was Beck’s Service Center.  I spent a bit of time in the shop as well growing up, and the people who frequented the shop are people that I grew up looking up to.  My parents stayed in touch with the whole crew and happened to be having them all down for a picnic.  My father invited me and I was honored to bring my creation down to show the grufty crew.

I went over the car one final time before the big show to make sure everything was right.  Battery hold down, check.  High quality head gaskets and head studs, check.  I even got the shoulder harness tabs welded on to the roll bar for the occasion.  I broke out my car duster and got the biggest dirtballs off the car, then hopped in, fired it up, and took off.  Both my kids were out at their various after school jobs, so I pressed my daughter’s boyfriend into service as my follower.  The beauty of a follower is that when the Fireturd lets me sit I can just hop in the reliable air conditioned car and ride home then come back some time later with the flatbed to drag it home.

So the kid hops in his 2017 Subaru WRX and follows me the fifteen or so miles to my parent’s house.  Other than sweating my guts out, the ‘turd made it there with no drama.  For any wanna-be racecar people out there, gutting the insulation from your car makes it hot.  And not like “warmer than usual” hot, we’re talking soaked through your britches in twenty minutes hot.  Roads are hot.  Engines are hotter.  The insulation was there for a reason.  But now it’s gone.  Poor choices.

Anyway, the car makes a good showing.  None of my heroes spit out the contents of their beer laughing at it.  I’m feeling pretty darn good right about now.  I eat a steak (thanks Dad–it was delicious) and me and my follower hit the road.

Heading out the winding roads between our respective houses, there is a straight section with a passing zone.  I’m driving a full-on racecar.  Junior back there is driving an off-the-shelf fast car.  Plus he’s junior, and I’m the boss.  The big cheese.  The greasy enchilada.  As soon as the passing zone opens up, I’m on the mat.  The car is pulling like an out of control freight train.  I had visions of the Delorean in Back to the Future with the flaming tire marks left on the road.  There is no contest, the gap between the Subaru and the Fireturd widens.  When the passing zone ends, I coast it down to normal speeds and roll up to the traffic light at a big intersection.  Junior in the Subaru chooses a lane better than I do and he ends up in front of me anyway, despite my show of aggression.  This does not bother me in the least, I know who’s fast around here.

Pulling away from the light while breaking my own arm patting myself on the back is no easy task.  Right about now, watching the Subaru pull three cars ahead of me as the road narrows back down to one lane, is when the motor shut off the first time.  “Odd”, I think.  The engine starts right back up, so no worries.  About 45 seconds later, it’s off again.  I restart it and start looking for problems.  The oil pressure is a little low, it’s around 25psi, but it is really hot so it’s to be expected and WHOA, just like that, the oil pressure is at 6psi.

The blue cloud of cuss words is probably still hanging over that road.

I pull into the nearest parking lot and shut everything off.  Pop the hood, look around for anything obvious.  Nothing.  Check the oil, it’s all there.  Very strange.  Perhaps it is just the sending unit?  I have the car set up with two oil pressure sending units, one for the gauge cluster and one for the ECU.  I dig out the laptop, fire it up, connect it, and fire the motor.  I have oil pressure now, both on the gauge and in the ECU.  Hmmph, wonder what could have caused that?  I take off towards home with less gusto than previously.

I drive for a minute to ninety seconds with the oil pressure slowly dropping down, and then suddenly dropping to almost nothing again (between 6-8psi).  Not a single cuss word fixed the problem unbelievably.  I pulled over again and checked the computer with engine still running.  Unfortunately the ECU was reading the same amount of oil pressure as the gauge cluster.  I shut off the engine again and waited a few minutes.

After restarting the engine I had oil pressure again.  I slapped it into gear right away and made for home.  I took advantage of the hills, running the engine up the hill and then turning it off and coasting it down the hills.  This method was working well.  The engine didn’t need to be off very long for the oil pressure to magically fix itself.  The future son-in-law finally noticed I hadn’t arrived yet so he called to check on me.  “Everything’s fine, no worries”, said I.  I wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction.  And besides, it wasn’t really a lie, I was still moving and I wasn’t worried.

I got her limped home and put in the garage.  Feeling rather morose about the whole situation, I went in the house to mope.  I spent a bit of time googling for LS1 low oil pressure.  Lots of people talking about it.  There are two primary sources for low oil pressure in those engines, cam bearings popping out or bad o-rings in the oil pickup tubes.  I had replaced my o-ring when I swapped oil pans so I figured I must have popped a cam bearing.  Very depressing.

I talked to the honest guy at work.  I told him my plan of finding another junkyard engine and putting a whole bearing set into it which would mean the car is laid up for the rest of the year at a minimum.  It sucked.  Luckily he talked me into yanking the oil pan and checking the oil pickup tube o-ring anyway.  He reasoned that I should check the easy stuff first even if it’s unlikely.

I picked the car up on my home lift and used the engine crane to pull up the front of the motor slightly.  I pulled the solid mount bolts out and lifted enough to sneak the pan out from above the k-member.  I dropped the oil pickup and the windage tray and then used my ever-present Chinese awesome LED flashlight to peek up past the crank at the cam bearings.  Everything appeared fine from what I could see.  Maybe there was more to this whole o-ring thing after all.

I grabbed the pickup tube and took a closer look at the red o-ring that I had slapped onto the tube before assembly.  Sure enough, it was sporting a split about 1/2″ long right down the center.  What do you know, I had put a brand new o-ring in there.  I used the VIN of the truck I pulled the engine out of to make sure I bought the right one.  Let the Googling begin.

I triple checked the VIN and the part number of the official GM o-ring for my engine.  Everything checked out.  More Googling.  As I’m tightening up my search parameters I’m starting to see a trend–people swapping oil pans suffer from low oil pressure.  And finally, the motherlode–https://www.lsxmag.com/news/identifying-the-correct-oil-pick-up-tube-o-ring-for-your-ls-swap/

For those who aren’t interested in reading a whole article all about o-rings, the low down is this: deep pan LS based engines use a different shape pickup tube neck which requires a different o-ring.  I had swapped a Camaro pickup tube and pan onto my deep pan truck engine but I had purchased and installed the larger truck o-ring onto my Camaro pickup tube.  This held up for a while (about 70 miles) but eventually gave up the ghost during my display of power and manhood versus the Subaru.  There was a Memorial Day picnic at my parent’s house and I really, really wanted to take the Fireturd.  Most of my high school teachers were going to be present and for some reason I felt like being able to show that I built a car, no matter how poorly, would somehow absolve me of the bad grades I earned throughout my education.

It was about 6:30PM Sunday evening.  Autozone and Advance Auto did not stock the o-rings individually, although Autozone had an oil pump replacement that came with all three o-rings.  I did consider buying the oil pump, thiefing the o-rings out of the package, and then returning it.  I considered it a lot more than an honest person should have.  I’m proud to say that I chose not to be a dick and take that course of action.  Instead I waited until Memorial day itself and started calling Chevy dealers.  I knew they were having all kinds of Memorial day sales, they had been advertising like crazy and ruining all the good songs normally playing on my garage radio.  Alas, it was not to be.  Although the sales departments were open, the dealers universally had their service departments closed for the holiday.  My English teacher was right, I’m never going to amount to anything.

The necessary parts were found online and ordered.  When they arrived a few days after Memorial day I got them installed and buttoned everything up.  I’m proud to say there is now oil pressure for days and no leaks.  You hear that, English teacher?  I did it!