I actually did it
I waited quite some time to write this post. I thought about doing one after my engine rebuild but I decided to go for a bigger one with more cool content when I actually put it together and drive my Mr2 mk1 aw11 for the for the first time.
So first of all here is the engine assembly video.
This was honestly quite an effort to make and it got to a point where it could have compromised my build. This is low level stop-motion but doing it with an engine is really tricky. You have to think about what you recorded all the time, and whether or not you’re missing a shot. And that is not good because you already have to think about the engine which is a brain strain for someone like me who hasn’t assembled an engine before. My solution was to slow down and focus more on the engine rather than the video. Because a missing shot is a lot less bad than a missing bearing. So you if you’re sharp you will notice some weird stuff on the video, like a paper underneath the piston to hide the burn marks on the paper from heating up the piston that weren’t there in the past shot.
All in all, the video turned out ok and I’m happy with it. There’s no boring talking just sheer carefree entertainment. What’s even cooler is that a lot of car and engine focused websites wrote articles about it and published the video. That never happened before, and honestly it was a truly awesome feeling.
Here’s an outtake from the article at roadandtrack.com
One of the most satisfying aspects of working on a car is successfully taking on a challenge yourself. Yes, it would be easier (and way faster) to pay someone else to do it for you, but the pride that comes from knowing you did something with your own two hands is hard to beat.
Redditor mr2mk1hero recently uploaded a video of the 4A-GE he built for his 1987 Toyota MR2. And while the video is pretty cool to watch, it’s even better because he’s an amateur, not a professional.
Final assembly reportedly took about a week. But according to his post, he spent two years collecting parts and learning the skills he needed to build the engine. He even claims he ported the heads himself.
In the end, he says “it got me addicted to cars, engines [and] mechanics.” Now that’s the kind of ending we like.
A bunch of other sites re-published the video. How crazy is that? Someone wrote something about what I did with my MR2 and its engine. I shared the video on Reddit as well and it got something like 139 upvotes last time I checked (which is like every hour).
Thanks to all of this the video got like 50k views in a few days, which was huge for me. I was really amazed and overwhelmed. I’m really happy I got to experience that feeling.
What followed after this was putting the engine back in and connecting everything back. Getting the engine off the engine stand and onto the hoist was really tricky. If my cousin hadn’t helped me there it would have probably been impossible. I was going to head off for a few weeks of vacation and I really gave it my all to install the transmission to the engine and put it back in the car. I did it just one day before leaving and I was at the very limit of exhaustion. The garage was an unbelievable mess. I walked over spanners, socket wrenches, discarded sealant tubes and print outs of the Factory Service Manual. It took me forever to put everything back in its place. The side effect was a half a truck load of trash.
What followed was connecting the electrics, coolant piping, intake, exhaust, etc. etc. That took me another two weeks and I was finally ready for my first start. The result of my first few attempts was just a huge fireball from the exhaust. I got really scared I did something horribly wrong and damaged the engine. The reality was different fortunately and the culprit was the distributor I stabbed in a tooth off. When I realized this, the car started easily on the next attempt. It wasn’t running perfectly but it was running. The feeling of hearing it for the first time is beyond words. I kinda wanted to cry but I decided that would be too embarrassing so I didn’t.
After some more timing and troubleshooting a few small coolant leaks the car was ready for its first drive. I decided to seat the rings by applying and releasing the throttle to around 4-5k rpms (mottune USA technique). I realized soon that the car was lacking in power below 4.5K rpm. Above that mark it flew, but below 4.5k it was horribly weak. After some more troubleshooting and help from guys on the club4ag and mr2board forums I managed to realize I connected a t-vis vacuum hose wrong. After that I had a driveable car.
It was time to take it to the exhaust shop to get a new exhaust fitted. What I had on at that time was just a mangled up piece of exhaust piping (mangled by me during removal) that I attached together using cable ties.
On the way to the exhaust shop everything past the manifold just fell off and almost hit the car that was driving behind me. I stopped on the side of the road and went to pick up the exhaust from the street. I couldn’t resist laughing at the misery of the whole situation while the guy that got almost hit by my exhaust was giving me “you’re an idiot” hand gestures. But he didn’t have the balls to get out of the car and yell at me face to face, I don’t blame him, I mean who would, a moron that drives a car with a quick release exhaust is simply too much of a wild card. The weird thing is that it wasn’t the cable ties that failed but the rubber exhaust mount/strap. Go figure.
After some time in the exhaust shop the new exhaust got installed. It was some sort of custom knock-off of a slant-tip JDM style thing. It’s incredibly loud and I will be silencing it in the new future. Eventually I hope to get something cool from a reputable manufacturer.
After that the car managed to pass technical inspection (they must be crazy) and get actual license plates. A moment I thought would never actually arrive.
I had a legal driveable Mr2 mk1 built by myself. All the god damn work, freezing my ass of in the garage, endless hours of research, and all the money I spent actually yielded a result. The pessimist inside me always thought that it would all eventually be for nothing. IN YO FACE MOTHERFUCKER!!!.
I changed my first oil, then changed it again after a few short drives and then it was time to take the first drive on an open road and make a video about it.
Here is that part. I think I wrote enough, just watch the video, I’m starting to bore even myself with all the self-indulgence.