Project Conclusion
I think it’s time to put this blog to rest. My swap is done, and the car is a success. What I want to do in this final entry is to review my install, and go over anything I may have forgotten to cover before, and to point out anything that may have been very important. With that said, let us begin.
I started this project blog on January 13th. And there’s a bit of a backstory about how I got this engine. My sister has a ’95 Neon, and her starter died around the first week of January. So I had her car (had managed to rig up the starter to keep working, but I wanted to replace it) and had gone to the junkyard to try to find her a new starter. Well I didn’t find one, but I did come across a ’99 Stratus that had rear ended something. The transmission had been taken already, so it looked like it’d be easy to get the engine out. Problem was, I didn’t have $200 to buy the engine. I mentioned the awesome find to one of my friends at work, and he was like “I’ll loan ya the money, and help you pull it”. I jumped at the chance. I believe I got the engine somewhere around 9th or 10th of January. I went and pulled the engine after work. It took me and two friends two afternoons to pull it. Pretty much, get off work at 3pm, rush to the junkyard and tool on the car for 2 hours till they throw us out at 5pm.. Was getting dark around 4:45 at that time of the year. Was also extremely stormy and some just generally nasty weather to even be at the junkyard in. But I couldn’t wait on that deal of an engine. Had to get it before someone else did. The cars in that junkyard are set up on welded rims that work like jackstands, so the cars are about 18” up in the air. We dropped the motor out the bottom of the car and dragged it out from under the car through the wheel well. It would have been alot easier if I could have unbolted and removed the core support, but alas, the car was sitting on that core support. After we dragged it out from under the car, the three of us lifted it into a wheelbarrow that the junkyard provided us with. $188 later, and we were in the parking lot trying to slide this engine into the trunk of my sister’s Neon. We had to remove the exhaust manifold and alternator bracket, but other than that, it fit just fine, laying on it’s side.
So that’s how I got the engine that allowed this project to happen. How about the story on how I got this car? There was a local guy that was into TD’s. I had been chatting with him online in the evenings trying to help him fix his ’84 New Yorker. It had all sorts of odd problems, and his budget never allowed him to actually fix any of it’s issues. But I kept in touch with him. A couple months later, he managed to pick up this Omni at the junkyard. Some guy had come to sell it to the junkyard as they were closing. My friend started talking with the guy and ended up buying the car. I think he said he paid $200 for it. How he managed that, I don’t know, since he couldn’t seem to afford much more than a set of sparkplugs for his other car. Anyways. This Omni was seriously on it’s last legs. The engine would lose all oil pressure after running for 10 minutes. He asked me online about it once. He thought it was a wiring problem. Went something like this: “Hey, after driving around for 10 minutes, my oil light comes on and the oil pressure gauge hits zero. I think it’s just a wiring problem.” Uh, two different senders on an ’88. The two circuits have nothing to do with each other. Not a wiring problem. Yet he kept driving it anyways. Eventually the lack of oil pressure to the lifters let the cam spit out a pair of the rockers. This caused the engine to no longer even start. He was fed up with the car, and posted it up FOR FREE on the PNW-SDAC mailing list (Portland Northwest Shelby Dodge Auto Club). I gave him a quick phone call and told him I’d be over that evening with a trailer to take it home. And so I did. So I got myself a free Omni. If you’ve seen my cardomain page, then you know it looked like utter crap when I got it. I put a lot of work into making it look better.
Anyways, As for the timeline on this project. Got the engine on the 9th of January. Started this blog on the 13th. On January 28th I got the Daytona towed to my place and started tearing into it. So if you’re looking for a date I officially started this project, I’d say January 28th. That’s when I started turning wrenches on the cars. But it’d be fair to say I started on the 9th, when I pulled the engine at the junkyard.
February 3rd was the last time I drove the Omni with it’s old engine. I had the car parked at my father in-law’s house while I had used my garage to put a new engine into my old ’83 Shelby Charger. I sold that Shelby Charger to help pay for much of this project. So I drove the Omni home and tore the engine and wiring harness out of it.
February 17th was a big date in this project. It’s when I bolted the new engine into the Omni. 3 weeks after starting this project, and the new engine was already in the car. And this is working with mostly weekends only. I only have 2 hours or so each evening after work to work with, so I hardly ever get a chance to do anything to the car during the week.
February 23rd I started assembling the Megasquirt kit and had been making steady progress assembling the engine.
February 28th, I mentioned those 2 hours each night I had available? Well I had used them that week, and by Wednesday, I had the engine ready to start. One month after starting this project, I had the engine RUNNING in the car.
March 3rd, I lost some time, and some money replacing a head that should have been good.
The next couple weeks were spent doing the little things. Throttle body adapting, alternator wiring. And very importantly, making motor mounts.
I did a bit of waiting on the last couple things. I had to wait for the struts to arrive, so that I could install the new bigger better brakes. I had to wait for the radiator shop to finish my radiator. That was quite annoying as they really took forever to do it.
But along came March 25th, and I was driving the car. Less than 2 months after I started this project, and the car was driving around. And most importantly, everything worked right, there was nothing that needed to be redesigned or changed completely.
So I did this swap FAST, I did it VERY CHEAP. And I did it right. The new engine is very powerful, it only ran a 15.7 at the strip, but that was due partly to my bad driving, and partly to my bald front tires not being able to hook up. Good tires and more practice, I could get the 60’ down to at least a 2.2 from the 2.6 I got, maybe even 2.1. Which would put this thing into the 14’s. Frankly, I consider that outstanding for a naturally aspirated engine. And not only is it powerful, but the gas mileage is outstanding. I haven’t gotten to drive the car on any really nice long freeway drives yet, but I expect to see mid 30’s or better.
Would I recommend this swap to someone else? In a heartbeat. My lack of welding skills was my biggest holdup on this project. I imagine for most people, the wiring might be their biggest holdup. But don’t be so concerned about the wiring, it only seems hard. The instructions really make it easy.
I think that about wraps everything up. I’m going to start another blog soon, it’ll continue to cover my modifications and upgrades to this car. But it’s not part of “The Big Swap” anymore, so it’ll get it’s own blog. Plans include: Nitrous install, lowering the rear end to match the front, new tires, installing an exhaust header, bigger throttle body, and more.. So head on over there and read the new blog.
Project Conclusion
Saturday, April 14, 2007