Soob Swap IV: Suby Engine Removal

Last time I pulled an engine it was a 194-inch straight six out of my ’67 Nova. I think I got that job done in about 3 hours including a lunch break. I do remember taking the trans out with it and dropping the tailshaft on my grill, putting a wave in that. That was in 1986 or ’87.

This Suby is another animal all together. Moving slowly with the Haynes manual I did my best to mark all 6,456,972 vacuum lines, fuel lines and wire connectors. The air box came off early on–a huge thing, with more of it under the passenger fender! I think I got enough of it to use on the swap. The important thing is this MAF (mass air flow) sensor. If I end up using the stock FI this bit will be key.

airbox connect

The AC was charged, I think, so I did my best to get it out of the way without breaching the lines. Power steering box was easy. When I got the alternator off I took it to AutoZone for testing. Sure enough, it was no good so I bought another one. Now I know why the battery was dead when I bought the car (I hope).

The radiator and fans came out easy–top bolts off, they lift off these little rubber donuts down on the front frame.

rad out

The exhaust manifolds were not too bad, though three out of the six studs pulled out. The motor mounts came loose with just a little contortion to get to the stuff hidden between the frame crossmember and the bottom of the motor.

Getting to the actual engine bolts was something fun. The tops were easy, but the bottom nuts (they’re on studs) are tight under the cross member on this one & I wasn’t sure if I had to disconnect the torque converter to the flexplate before pulling it or not (manual says to, but….)

This is the little window into the torque converter bolts. Maybe 2.5 inches square

This is the little window into the torque converter bolts. Maybe 2.5 inches square

I eventually did it. They are (I think) 10 mm bolts just barely accessible through a port with a plastic cover on the passenger side of the engine. There are only four of them, but each one took me like a half hour, working one flat at a time with a box wrench. I suppose if I had the right size wobble socket and the right extension it might have gone faster.

Maybe not though….

I got the first flexplate bolt off as Jimmy Sartwell called to ask for a deposit on the parts I ordered for my new transmission. I drove over two hours to Acme to give him $430 to cover the cost of the new ring & pinion, super diff, stronger side cover and shipping for those parts. He’s got a late box he says he’ll rebuild for me if I trade him my transmission to build for a guy who is building a trike. Turns out you need an early, two-side-cover transaxle if you want to flip the R&P and run a mid-engine configuration.

Quite the operation they’ve got up there. I didn’t want to hang around but Jimmy gave me the penny tour anyway, which took over an hour. All kinds of VW engines under construction, a stack of transaxles, nine whole buggies going to a caribbean island. That’s one room.

Acme2 Acme3 Acme4

Frames under construction. Race cars. A Spyder with a 2.4L 6 Porsche motor (above). Wild place.

Acme1 sartwell1

Jimmy finally gave me a receipt and said he’d probably get the trans done in another two or three weeks. It’ll be another $400 or $450 all told. So: not cheap. But I do like the idea of having a transaxle that’s made to handle a bit more power and put the tach closer to where Subaru would have it. In this case about 70 mph at 3000 rpm, which is about 10 mph faster than she does now at that speed.

(Of course, the Suby’s redline is marked at 6000 rpm whereas Bridget’s current engine is not very safe to rev much past 4500).

Once back home I had just four more bolts to undo to get the engine out. Unfortunately, three of these were inside the engine, attaching the flexplate to the torque converter and accessible only through that little port. Took some doing.

The last one was the nut holding the lower driver’s side quadrant of the engine to the transaxle. No access there, with the brake booster, steering column, trans cooling lines and heater hose hard ends, plus the curvature of the block itself. Took like an hour and a half to figure out how to stack wrenches to get any kind of torque on it. Then…got it.

engine chained1Chained up the engine and hoisted her up. Rocked her a bit and…nothing. Got out the sledge and some 2 x 4 scraps to give a bit of persuasion. Banged on her for 20 minutes, coated the seam between the tranny and block with penetrating oil. This went on for some time.

engine separates engine breaks free

Finally got the 8-foot prybar out and really let her have it. Just as I was getting into that the phone rang, a colleague calling to say he’d been jailed–for taking pictures of cops while they busted up a party. He was out, luckily, so I put the phone on speaker and listened to him vent while I rocked the engine some more with the big bar wedged against the crossmember.

Yeah, baby!

engine clear

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About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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