Bridget is Back!

I drove Bridget today for the first time since last fall. The Subaru 2.2 runs, the transmission shifts, the gauges all seem to work and the oil leaks out only very slowly.

We are not done. Not very close to done, really. But after nearly eight months of work and fretting, it felt very good to have the wind in my hair, Bridget motoring up the road under her own power.

And what power!

I was being very careful, I swear. But I did lay some rubber in first in the grocery store parking lot. This happened after I stalled out pulling in. I missed first, hit third and she died. I restarted, revved a little ’cause I was on a hill and whaaaaammmmee. She launched like a Nike missile. Took me about 30 feet to react and haul her down. Good thing no one was in the way.

Here is what happened since I last posted:

1. I filled the engine and radiator with coolant, but could not make the engine run cool. Turns out it was air in the system, I bought five bleeder valves that normally would be used in a hot water radiator system in a house or building. I bought a 1/8 NPT tap to thread some pipe for said bleeders. I bought adapters. Clamps. A lot of things. I re-routed the lines going to my heater so that I could put a bleeder above the heater inside the passenger compartment.

Dang. The bleeder is blocked by that wire detritus.

Dang. The bleeder is blocked by that wire detritus.

2. With all the bleeders in I was able to get the engine running and the temp gauge to start reading something like the correct temp.

But then I could not get the fan to kick on.

TD Subaru cooling system 2 from Edward Ericson on Vimeo.

3. I tried about three different relays and two wiring configurations before I realized my mistake: I had tried to use the same hot wire for both the controller hot wire and the fan itself. That meant that as soon as the ECU sent the signal to the relay that it was time to turn on the fan, the signal itself grounded out the wire so the fan could not run. More than once I ran the car up above 212F and found the relay switch buzzing–apparently it was signaling for fan, the fan could not turn on because it was grounded and so it would re-signal.

I ended up running a second wire straight from the battery to the fan. Actually it’s the horn lede, and it runs through a 15-amp in-line fuse. I waited for the fan to go and then (next day on the retest during daylight hours) blew the horn to see if they could both run at once.

They could.

4. From there the next thing was getting the alternator to start working. Turns out that–just like the Bug–the charging system on the Suby require the ALT lamp to be wired into the system. Soon as I did that the volt meter jumped from like 11.4 to 14.2 volts.

5. I next went for the coolant idiot light but it didn’t work. Apparently that wire goes strictly to the Suby gauge. The oil light works though, and so does “Check Engine.” Since I only had one working idiot light left I went with Check Engine for now. In the future I’ll wire up one or both of the lights inside the speedometer to serve as the secondary oil pressure warning light.

By the time I had that stuff done I was impatient for a ride. I have been making things for a fan shroud with aluminum sheet and angle but none of it is ready to install yet. I will need the shroud both to direct the air that comes through the grill down and out of the car and to seal off the remaining trunk space from the weather and the heat coming off the radiator. I need the space to store the side curtains and am hoping to still have room enough for an overnight bag or two.

But all that could wait, I decided. I installed the drivers seat, packed all the wires and the ECU under it, adjusted the shifter until I could get all the gears and then installed the gas tank side covers, splash pan and engine cover. Then I started her up and headed for the gas station.


++[There will be more video here next week when Vimeo allows me to upload more]

Since I have not yet installed my vehicle speed sensor, I wondered if she would light the “Check Engine” light and maybe stall at the stop sign. She did neither, although my right turn signal did not seem to be working.

I motored up the road, grabbed second and all seemed smooth. Third came easy. The sound of the engine–much juicier than the old Beetle mill. Very smooth rumble. Fourth gear and no bad rattles or weird sounds.

Pulling into the parking lot of the grocery store I had to stop so someone could cross and come out. I down shifted and then stalled out. Missed first–hit third. Restarted and went to first, let the clutch out and it was a damn good thing no one was in the way.

At the gas pump the hood stuck closed. Luckily my emergency pull worked. I have got to fix that problem before I get in big trouble. I put six gallons in the tank and saw the gauge come up to near half. It should read close to 2/3 there but what the hey.

On the way back I pulled onto the main road just behind a cop car who was rushing somewhere with the sirens up loud. I spun it up a little in first, paused and then jumped on it. Back tires chirped and then hooked and I had to hang on. Missed second (almost reverse). Then hit second and jumped on her again and she just wound up. I took her to about 5300 before letting off. It took about three seconds and I guess I was doing about 50, which is too fast right there and discourteous to the neighbors.

Had to take a left onto my street and missed first for third again, stalling her out. This time she would not re-start right away. I turned the key, heard the fuel pump, but had no starter at all. No click either.

I tried twice and was about to get out and push when I tried the third time and she started right up. Up the hill and into the driveway.

There was coolant dripping from the hose behind the heater core, right where the sharp edge of my bracket pokes the hose. I hope it did not poke through. Also a drip right on the top hose of the radiator.

I also have oil from the front of the engine, behind the pulley. Pretty sure I should have changed out that seal when I had the engine out.

I also had smoke from the muffler. Pretty sure the paint is done burning so it must be burning the rear splash pan now. I’ll get some stick-on heat shielding to protect the fiberglass.

And so the sorting begins.


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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