So I finally got the plates, and the insurance, and the title is 6-8 weeks in delivery. But I got plates, biatches!!!
I slap the plates on, fire her up, ease her out the driveway and I go for a cruise. Runs like shit when it's not idling. No problem, just make some handy dandy adjustments on the super-de-duper SAFC.
Then I realize I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. In other words, I knew enough to be dangerous to this engine.
So I head back home, do some quick surfing on the intraweb, and pull up a few tuning guides. Now I know enough to be really dangerous.
As I'm driving down to an abandoned parking lot, I notice that my eyes are burning. I mean really burning, and since I didn't take my visine today, I can't blink the burn away. I fight through the pain and drive on.
I do my basic tuning, and hit the highway, hoping that I've tuned this sucker right. For dangerous people like me, that means a stoopid rich a/f ratio.
As I roll on the on-ramp, I see nothing but open asphalt ahead of me and I mash the gas in third. Pulls good through 3K. Feels great at 4K, something pops at 4.5K, and the cabin is filled with smoke.
Popping noises are ungood, popping noises accompanied by eye-burning smoke are doubleplus ungood. It doesn't help that the car is steadily losing speed, the dashboard is blinking like mad, and the car no longer responds to the gas pedal.
I limp to the side and pop the hood. Something wet is on the exhaust manifold heat shield, but it's not a lot of it. Maybe it was a dipstick blowing out of it's holder. It's happened to me before, the first time it happened was the first time I ever went to the track on my first ever run. Scary shit when you think you've broken your car 80 miles from home and you don't have AAA. But dipstick blowouts don't kill your car. Uncoupled intercooler pipes do that. I grab my tools, zip-zap, 15 minutes later it's running again.
I should've learned my lesson. If it's not running right, don't boost it. But I'm stubborn, and I'm hard-headed, and I'm addicted to boost, and damnit this turbo felt so good at whatever the wastegate was set to (did I mention that I didn't have a boost gauge installed yet because I was still waiting for it to be delivered?). So I ease back on the highway, do some moderate pulls, check my datalogger and try a 3-4th gear pull again.
Intercooler pipe blows again! I obviously didn't learn my lesson. Taking extra care to clamp down the t-bolt clamp to PFT specs (pretty fuckin' tight), I decide that I'm done trying to tune and I should just turn around and go home. It runs, and that's all that matters, right?
Wrong! As I get on the entrance ramp heading back, the emptiness of this ramp calls me like Pavlov's ringing bell called his dog. The bell rung and I answered with a pull from 2nd gear. It wasn't like the hand of God was pushing me back in my seat or anything, but compared to having to drive a V6 Explorer around all day, this was bliss!
*Pop Pop Pop*
Backfires? Fuel cut? Another backfire? Uh-oh...
As I coast back on the shoulder, I start thinking that maybe I shouldn't have boosted out of there like that, especially since I dangerously knowledgable about this SAFC. I pop the hood, crank down the blown intercooler pipe (again) and fire it up.
I check everything again, connectors, plugs, wires, check for DTC codes, all is good, it should fire up right?
Wrong. Now I'm getting worried. And my battery's dying.
I call up Hector to see if he can pick me up, grab my truck with some tow rope and pull the car home. He can't do it, he's on his way to Secaucus with his wife. I call my sister to see if she can bring my battery booster. It'll take her a while, but I'm not going anywhere.
As I wait for her, a state trooper pulls up. Asks if I need help. I tell him I might need a jump. He lends a helping hand. It cranks but nothing. Tells me that he'll have to tag the car and if it's not gone in 24 hours, it'll be impounded.
30 minutes later, my sister arrives. I hook up the booster and fire up the engine, which promptly dies. Three more attempts and my booster shits the bed too. Time to call a flatbed.
As I wait for the tow to arrive, I start thinking of what could possibly prevent this car from running. I have spark, I have fuel, I have air. Intercooler pipes are reconnected. Fuel pump works (I was able to test with through my datalogger), I can only assume I have spark since my cables are good, connections are tight, the ecu works. I try to think of other things, but my mind wanders back to the only possiblity: Blown engine. I really hoped it wasn't a blown engine because if it was a blown engine, I was going to call it quits. I was already thinking of how much money I can make parting this car out: race trans, good cylinder head, heavy duty clutch, dual-piston calipers, high flow fuel pump, exhaust, etc.
$100 later, the car is back in my driveway. First order of business is a compression test. Cylinder 1: good. Cylinder 2: uh-oh. Horrendously low compression. I throw down my rachet in disgust. I make up my mind to throw in the towel and start parting this fucker out the next morning.
But I'm stubborn. I've already told you that. And my battery was dead, so I get to thinking that that might have screwed up my compression test. I grab the truck, hook up my jumper cables and try the test again. Cylinder 2: good. Cylinder 3: good. Cylinder 4: good. So the engine's not blown, and I'm back to square one.
I go through the checklist again. Air? I check the entire intercooler and intake system. No leaks, no gaps, no plugs, all is good. Fuel? I run my pump again. It works, but something's odd. I don't hear fuel going through the lines. I have a half tank that I've been trying to burn off, and then I get to thinking: This fuel's been in this tank for a long time. I really hope that it didn't get gummy and clog the lines. I pull the return line and run the pump. Nothing comes out. Hoping it's something other than a clogged fuel line, I pull the fuel pump assembly. Maybe the fuel pump has slipped, I've had this happen before when I half-assed a fuel pump installation. I disconnect the feed line, but no gas drips out. Odd, but I continue pulling the pump. I get the assembly out and I see the filter sock sitting at the bottom of the tank. A ha! no sock, no suction! Problem solved! I reach down and pull it out of the tank. Hmm.... doesn't seem to be a lot of fuel down there...
I ran out of fuel.
Now before any of you start clowning me for not monitoring the gas gauge, I should let you guys know that I later discovered that my needle was misaligned and that when it was running 92 octane fumes, the needle showed that it was still at 1/2 tank, so it wasn't all of my fault, although I still shouldn't be boosting yet.
So, the car runs. Doesn't run strong, but it runs. I'll have to dig out some more SAFC tuning guides because the one I have didn't help me. I'll also have to get some more silicone hose since the section that kept popping was too short. I need to fix the exhaust leak since my eyes still burn (I need a muffler too, I don't think I can travel the streets of Maplewood for too long before the long arm of the law gets to me, especially with my neighbor being one of those long arms of the law), and I need to put my gauges in. But it runs, and the car's four-wheel-steering is well......interesting to say the least. I'll put up pictures when I get the final pieces in. I'm going to have some macaroni and beer, I'm tired.
Now, before anybody gets on me for:
1. Going full throttle when I have limited SAFC experience
2. Going full boost with no boost gauge.
3. Not knowing to quit while I'm ahead after popping the intercooler pipe three times
I know. I'm stubborn and I'm stupid, but damnit that turbo felt so good like you wouldn't believe. I couldn't help myself. It was like putting a box of matches and a can of gasoline in front of a pyromaniac. But I think I've learned my lesson.
Until I really fuck something up.