Well it’s come that time finally. Time to roll up the sleeves and tool away as much as possible to the get the Warwagon ready for another roadworthy check. The last check had a couple of niggling little things on there but now that I have both some time and money, join me as we patch things up to pass any scrutineers scrutiny..
ISSUE 1 – THE COILPACKS
Okay this wasn’t something on the list of things needed to pass but the last thing I need during the next inspection is them to break down once again and trigger the common engine light warning that I’ve been putting up with for way too long. Oh and it would be good to drive from point A to point B without random rumbling, shaking and various cylinders having a brief nap along the way.
So out come the shagged Yellowjackets and in go some Splitfires.
Now once upon a time I would have recommended them due to price but given that this is the second set to go in the car and it’s a combination of both sets in order to find a full six with the fewest sparking problems, I’m more than happy to see them go. Since the car is stock standard and more a family hauler than a drift mobile, I would have expected them to last far longer than they have. Wishful thinking.
(I even had a spare one in my centre console and the right size socket to swap them over if worst came to worst. Which is why I have been driving around with the covers off as it’d be far too much hassle to swap them over roadside with the covers on.)
The famous Splitfire coilpacks DIS-008 for Neo RB Engines. Pricey when new but I found a wrecker that would quite happily post over a low k set for $315 delivered. Why they were a bit dirty, the springs and inside the rubber boot are clean as. Lovely.
So now it’s a case of welcoming the blues to my engine bay.
First up, lets give ourselves a little room to work with. I have managed to move the J Pipe out of the way without unbolting the strut brace but it was tricky and since you only have two bolts to give yourself far more space to your thing, off it comes.
Next we remove the J Pipe – you don’t have to take off every hose, just enough to move it out of the way.
A few months ago I bought a new harness for the coil packs due to the old one clocking up it’s 17th year in business and the fact that if you touched it while the engine was running, it’d drop a coil pack quicker than you could say ‘Oh good, that isn’t helpful.’ $120 on eBay, just make sure you get the one that’s right for your car.
It was also a great opportunity with everything out of the way to do a bit of degreasing here and there and also swap out the spark plugs. I figured it was due anyway so out came the old:
And in with the new:
I rarely have any problems user copper BCPR6ES’s from NGK. The only ones at Supercheap Auto were the BCPR6ES-11 though, meaning they were pregapped at 1.1 mm. These will still work just as well, if your coil packs are stuffed though you might have to pull them out and regap them at .8mm.
Ahh that’s looking much better. A quick turn of the key and no warnings flash up in 5 minutes of idling. That’s a vast improvement on what I had before.
This is what I had to resort to patch things up until I could afford some Splitfires – it’s gasket maker from the rocker cover job I did on my WRX a while back. It sort of worked in stopping some of the random sparking but yeah, ditch the temporary measures and find a proper replacement.
UPDATE: It’s been a week and all six cylinders are singing a beautiful song. No sparks, no issues, no warning lights. Fantastic. Onto the next job!
Issue 2: The wheels
Well these look alright! What could possibly be the problem here? I don’t see anyth-
Oh the wear from the inside edge. On all of them. Possibly because it hasn’t had a wheel alignment in…er….forever. Since they won’t pass that, my options were $600+ of fresh new rubber on the factory rims or have a hunt around for a set of affordable rims and passable tires for roughly the same price.
Wasn’t that fun!
In my month long search for something decent I checked out ads with:
-No details aside from pictures taken with a potato.
-‘Everything you need to know is in the pictures.’ Followed by just one picture, taken with a potato.
-Incredible vague ads ‘Not sure the size, or width, what it will fit, what is an offset?’
-So many ads that turned out to be for 4X114.3 (missing one important hole there) or 5X120 which would be handy if my car suddenly turned into a Subaru.
-Ads for wheels already sold, they just forgot to take them down.
-Pairs, not all four
-Great rims but shagged tires.
-Great tires, shagged rims.
-Sets that looked great but when you researched the tires, you found out they had some of the worlds worst tires attached. (Hilariously someone gave a particular brand a full five stars on account of ‘These are the BEST tyres for being able to not stick to anything! What fun I had sliding around everywhere!)
Eventually though, I found some 17 inch Sterns – the same ones that Saleen used for thier cars around 1993. According to the Saleen Club of America website:
The 17″ Stern three piece wheel is very rare, mostly used on a few 93 cars, including the SA-10 anniversary edition and the 93 SC cars. The front wheels were 17×8 with a 24mm offset, while the rear wheels were 17×9 with a 39mm offset. They have STERN imprinted on one spoke on each wheel. STERNS are a true 3 piece, as the front ring and rear hoop do separate and are held together by the bolts that hold the center section on. There is a rubber seal that goes between the hoop and the ring that keeps it from leaking air.
These are highly sought after. When purchasing, watch the offsets, bolt pattern and hub center bore size closely, as these wheels were also used on non-Saleen cars. Stern wheels are made in Japan by the high-quality division of Hinodex. No 4-lug 17″ Stern wheels were imported by Saleen.
So the Warwagon has some rare rims now? Hilarious. It seems the Saleen of that era and the Stagea share the same bolt pattern, so this set may have started off on a Saleen. Who knows?
The grey Stern centre goes well with my Silver stag. The fronts have a bit of a low profile tire on them so there’s now plenty of room in the wheel arch – we’ll see if that lasts or I fill it up with more rubber as it looks a little small in there.
I hadn’t had a chance to really test them when my wife needed to borrow the wagon to pick up a new bed frame for our son – her report came back as ‘Very noisy, horrific at 110kph, makes a whoosh whoosh noise.’
Turns out they were severely under-inflated. The fronts down to 9-10 psi! So some more air (a lot of air) and they spin and grip as they should. Sorted.
Right, so that’s two problems fixed – next week: Leaking powering steering rack, split boot and a wheel alignment..
WHEEL EDIT 1 –
A month after getting the wheels, one of the rears copped a nasty dropped screw and deflated in record time. While swapping it over for one of my factory wheels for the short term I noticed the Pirelli tire and it’s brother had well and truly seen better days with tread disappearing at a record rate and need to be replaced. Gah.
Wheel edit 2 –
When investigating the rears and sizing up possible replacements the guy at Bob Jane almost had a heart attack when he spotted the low profile fronts – pointing out that no, there was no way I should be running that different sized tire up the front with what I had on the back (and it was highly illegal too.) He had a few choice words about the monster truck look as well as using another set of Perrelli’s and in the end did me a deal on a set of Yokohama BluEarths all round. It’s early days so far but it’s been smooth travels so far (and the car is back to it’s regular stance).
Issue 3: CV Boot and power steering leak
Usually when a trip to the local mechanics is involved where I am it’s a very early wake up call, a race against the traffic to the other side of town to hit the garage before 8am and then I find amusing ways to entertain myself for 6 hours before starting my work day at 2pm. This time however I enlisted the services of a mobile mechanic who turned up at my door bang on 8am and I could still wander the house with my first coffee of the day, waking up very slowly.
Half an hour in though, it seemed he had some bad news. After tracing back lines and looking at the system from top to bottom he deduced that part of the rack at times is squirting fluid up into the left hand side of the engine bay which is why the underside of my oil filter and bits and pieces constantly look grimy (here I was thinking it was an oil leak). He then spent the next 15 minutes calling around for prices on a replacement rack and quoted me around $1500 as a very rough estimate.
Thankfully he also came up with a great suggestion of sourcing a second hand rack from somewhere and he’d be more than happy to fit it – due to policy he couldn’t hunt one down himself but I’m fine with tracking one down. Lets see how we go..
A month and a half later..
Yeah it took a while for me to get to the point where I really had no option than buy a completely new one (no) or get the existing one rebuilt.
I did learn a few things along the way though:
- If you’re looking for a power steering rack for a S2 Stagea RWD, the one you’re looking for is part number 492000v715.
- If you have a RWD stag, an AWD rack won’t work. There’s plenty of AWD ones out there though…
- There were rumours an R33 would fit but I didn’t have one handy to check and wasn’t going to buy one for the sake of experimenting.
While the mobile mechanic couldn’t be sure where the leak was coming from, the power steering guy leaned over into the engine bay and sussed it out in about 10 seconds ‘You see how one side of your pinion is clean and the other has stuff on it? The first side has fluid coming out..,’
So it spent the day and the night here:
Funnily enough when I picked it up the mechanic explained that the kit the book suggested to use in the rebuild was wrong. So he had a root around his kit selection and found the right seals…meaning the Stagea now includes seals from a VE Commodore and a Mazda 323…
Possible issue: Wipers
They were starting to wear down and in my plan of crossing every t and dotting every i so there’s nothing that needs work when it gets it’s final check, I waited for the Supercheap Auto 20% online sale and got a full set of wipers for both the Warwagon and also my wife’s Lancer. Clever me though ended up buying the wrong set for both rears:
However this was quickly solved by sliding out the insert of the old one and putting it in the new one. Wish all of the jobs on this thing were that easy..
Issue 4: The foot brake
…it had too much give in it according to the report. So I did what any car loving blogger would do, I rolled up the sleeves, broke out the tools and spent two hours completely confused as to how to tighten it up at the wheels. I even managed to take off part of the wheel drum by accident (I thought the screw part I found through the view hole was to tighten…no it’s a spring loaded holder. And when I undid the screw, the assembly came loose and lodged itself behind the disc rotor. So now I had to remove the caliper and rotor just to get this damn spring out and put the drum cover back in place..)
I eventually gave up for the night and after reading some more about the process, tackled it properly two days later. With correct knowledge I had both rear drums tightened up and everything ready to go in under an hour. Sensational. I ever wrote a quick guide about the process right here if you’re in the same boat.
And with that done, all we had to do was get Steve the mobile roadworthy man back for a look over…
So how did we go?
While Steve found a couple of things he suggest I tighten up in the engine bay (which I promptly did as he left) he was more than happy with the new tires, rebuilt rack, dry springs, new brake pads and now far stronger foot brake. After a bit of a chat about Mustangs and moving house, he issued me the certificate and less than an hour later I was front and center at the local road authority to finally (after being here a mere 10 months) register it in this state.
Thank the automotive gods!
I probably would have set the damn thing on fire if he suddenly found something to fail me on…