3.1 litre stroker: Cranking & Debugging

Oh my God, where's all that oil coming from?

Now that you have finally buttoned up your engine. It's time to fire it up!!! Remember this is a new engine. We have all been told to take it easy and break in your new car. Even that engine has been broken in before you pick it up at the dealership. Following a few basic steps will allow the engine to be broken in correctly. The only thing keeping you from hearing metal on metal. Is the assembly lube you coated on those parts. Do a final check of all hoses, bolts, and wires. Add a good quality grade of oil to the crank case. Be sure not to use a low cost oil filter. This first oil and filter set will be used to break-in your engine. This filter will catch any foreign material you missed during the cleaning process. I would recommend pre-lubing the engine. To do this, simply remove the spark plugs and turn the engine over until you have oil pressure. This insures that your oil pump is working and that oil is circulating through the engine.

Fire it up (a small prayer would be a nice touch). Once the engine starts, DO NOT OVER-REV. Let the engine idle while you check for several things (oil pressure, leaks, water temp, and odd noises). Both Eric's and mine fired up on the second try. The night I fired mine up, Eric had gone home early. So I fired up my engine and did my checks. The temp started to climb a little too high so I decided to shut it down. This is not uncommon in new engines. But, just to be safe, I called Eric. Eric agreed this was normal. Especially since I was using a stock radiator. So I hung up with Eric and walked back into the shop to find a large puddle of new oil under my engine. Oh my God, where's all that oil coming from? I had a sick feeling rush over my body. Then the illness past and was replace with stupidity. I had installed the flywheel without installing the rear main seal. So instead of finishing the break-in process, I got to pull my transmission and install the seal. The lesson is don't get in a hurry. Once you have broken in the cam and rings (two 20 minutes sessions at 2000 to 2500 RPM allowing the engine to cool between each). Adjust the valves again while they are hot. Take this opportunity to inspect the valve train. Once the valves have been adjusted. Take the car for a short LOW SPEED drive. Let the engine cool. During this time check the condition of the spark plugs (lean or rich). Once the engine has cooled check the coolant and oil for level. Now its OK to drive the car a bit faster. During this period fluctuate the RPM range you drive at. After about 100 mile change the oil and filter. Then again after 500 miles. This should remove any foreign material and assembly lube.

If you have kept the trick parts to a minimum, debugging the engine will be relatively simple. On the other hand this could be the hardest and most frustrating part of your project. In my case, it drove Eric and I crazy. The introduction of the Mikuni carbs required the services of an expert of epic proportions (Alan Smith). Alan has an amazing understanding of how to make Z cars move. Alan did in two hours, what four knowledgeable people couldn't do in six weeks. Alan had built a GT2 Z car with a truly amazing engine. His experience with Mikuni's solved my problems. Mikuni uses several different types of jets to tune the carbs. The factory jets ranges were not delivering the performance the engine was capable of. Remember the factory settings are great if you're building a factory engine. Once Alan had identified a few problems the car finally started to really move.

Well that's it. This is one way of approaching an engine project. It is defintely not the only way. I made lots of mistakes a long the way. I hope this article helps your project turn out as well as mine did. As for my partner in crime, Eric Chapman. Thanks for your knowledge and your friendship. I could never have done it alone. This information isn't a secret, it can be found each month at your local Z club meeting. Now, that sounds like a great idea!!!

Getting Started
The Machine Shop
Engine Assembly
Cranking & Debugging