Bad Head
 
So the million dollar question is.. Why didn’t I do this BEFORE installing the engine into the car?!?! Geeze.. Anyways, I spent about 30 minutes each evening this week tweaking the spark curve, the cranking pulsewidths, and the afterstart enrichment trying to find a set of numbers that would finally get this engine to fire up right away. I finally found some that were close (thanks to a spark map someone on the Neons.org forums gave me, stock AEM SRT4 spark map), and was able to get the engine to fire up within about 10 seconds of cranking. Still not that great.. And when it did finally fire it’d seem to fire on a couple cylinders and then a couple more would come alive shortly afterwards.. So I did some troubleshooting today. Pulled the plugs out and hooked up the compression gauge.. 50 on the first hole.. 200 in hole 2, 150 in 3, and 200 again in 4.. Drat.. Grabbed the leakdown tester and fired up the air compressor. 100% leakdown in 1 (only cylinder I checked), and it was all coming out the intake. Why didn’t I check this while the engine was still on the ground?! Ugg. But there is good news.. I have a spare head. From my previous plans of building a hybrid 2.2L engine.. Stratus head on a good old TD block.. But I eventually decided it was going to cost more money than I wanted to spend. I like to keep things cheap.
Once I made the decision to pull the head off, it went amazingly fast. Probably 45 minutes altogether.. Before I get into some of those pictures, I have one I want to show.
Bad Head
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Kind of out of focus.. I appologize. Anyways, what we’re looking at is the side of the intake near where the TB goes. This is a 5/16” fuel line stuffed into the EGR port on the intake. It seemed to make a great plug for the EGR port, I have a quarter inch extension stuffed into it to plug it. I’m thinking when I get around to making a block off plate for this EGR port, I’ll put a hose barb in the plate so that I have another vacuum port available. Can never have too many of them. Especially since this intake seemed to have none avaible.. Relocated the PCV to the brake port, using the PCV’s nice centrally located port for the MAP and FPR, and I think this EGR one would be great for the brake booster. I also figured out why the engine wanted to idle at 2500rpm when I removed the throttle body.. It would seem that the TD TB does not cover the
 
idle air bypass hole completely. The old TD intakes didn’t have that peculiar idle air bypass passage. I’ll need to find a throttle body that is more compatible with this intake when I put it back together.
Step one would be to pull this pulley off the crankshaft. Good freakin LUCK if you don’t have this dang tool. Just about drove myself mad trying to get the pulley off my sister’s ’95 Neon last year to do her headgasket. Finally broke down and bought this puller from the Snap-On guy. $150 later and I thought I might never use it again. It’s worth every penny! I simply put an open ended wrench on the end of that thing, and turn it gently by hand. 2 minutes and pop, it’s off.
Ok.. So I pulled the pulley off. Then I popped open the lower timing cover, only to find the timing belt tensioner is hidden yet another layer deep. This engine was designed by one sadistic person. Alas, the motor mount is on top of that particular cover, so it would be quite involved to remove it. I opted to just use a screwdriver to shove the timing belt off the cam pulleys. That worked. Getting it back on should be equally fun. I have an idea on how to do that. What do they call people like me? Backyard mechanic? I’m ok with that. haha.. I’ll make sure to get it on video, if it works I’ll post it.. haha.. Anyways, this photo above shows a minor problem I encountered when I went to lift the head off the block.. This freakin idler pulley.. The sadistic engineer strikes again..It’s bolted to the head. It’s passing through a small hole in the timing belt cover. And no, the rear timing belt cover doesn’t have and upper and lower half, it’s one crazy piece. There’s no way I could get a tool in there to remove it, not to mention it’s some huge torx size that I’m sure I don’t own... So..
So a couple minutes with a set of dikes and some pliers. And we have an exit strategy. Git ir done! Problem solved!
About 45 minutes later, here I was looking at a shortblock. I’d have saved a fair amount of money at the junkyard if I realized the head was crap and had simply removed it. I did consider it, seeing as how I had a head at home that had already been tested and was known good. But I didn’t want to have to purchase a headgasket, they’re more expensive than the junkyard price of that head. Hindsight is twenty twenty.
One last shot to show one of the cylinders. They all look REALLY good. I have no doubt my problems will be solved with the head swap.
I’ve got to come up with some funding to pay for the headgasket and bolts. Hopefully I have that figured out by next weekend.
It’s too bad this headgasket isn’t reusable like the Cometic ones. I’d have just grabbed the other head and had the car back together before bed. Probably even fire it back up to see how much better it runs with 4 holes firing.
I got some of the transistors in that I needed to finish my Megasquirt. It’ll have a tachometer output and a radiator fan output. I’ll be doing that tomorrow.