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Luxurious 1985 New Yorker <3
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This project's plan is to make lemonade out of lemons. I have two 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T's and should have a 3rd by the end of the week.

#1 - Due to Georgia's non-compulsory involvement in the NMVTIS, this car can NEVER be re-titled. Long story, irrelevant to this thread. This one seems to have had some work attempted on it. The body has been spray-bombed without any prep work, unfortunately. The interior is fair, but the driver's seat, dashboard, and headliner are all damaged. The engine was in pretty good shape initially. The turbo was quiet and not leaking coolant. It has play, but every Garrett I've ever had had a lot of play. The block looks flawless. The cylinder cross-hashes are clear and even all around. The head is cracked between the plugs, and it pools coolant on the plugs. The head gasket was also blown...somehow? It was blowing coolant out the exhaust, but the cylinders weren't steamed. shrugs I'm not sure. The transmission has a junkyard stock number on it, the head seems to have had some thread repair, and there are signs that the block was rebuilt. That's slightly worrisome.

#2 - Head cracked like a hard boiled egg. Turbo was destroyed upon removal. Block deck was warped out of spec. The engine from the 89 LeBaron and SBEC from the Shadow are running it now, and it's very fast and very fun as my daily driver. It even has A/C...which has a strange problem but otherwise works fine. I also wet-sanded and re-painted the roof so far. It looks very good, and I plan to continue panel-by-panel. The color is Behr "No More Drama", which has a faint hint of pink. Trust me, it works. (-:

#3 - Probably a spun bearing. Body and interior are a bit worn and rough, but nothing is really bad. Head and turbo are (believed to be) in great condition. In fact, the head may have been serviced to address the cracking problem.

I've already begun pulling parts off of #1. The plan is to build #3 up with the block from #1. IF...all goes well, theoretically I can put #2 back together with a 16v setup.

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the TIII. Historically, it's clearly the older brother to the SRT4, and it set a new technological bar for everyday production cars. Its failures can be fixed, such as rerouting the timing belt, replacing the lash adjusters, making your own head gaskets, welding the casting plugs shut, etc. But the SRT4 is a much better foundation. That said, I really like how the 8v intercooled Mitsubishi-blown configuration pushes these sedans around, and it's always a pleasure for my family to drive around in. I will try to rebuild and test an original 16v complete long block, which I can either install in #2 or simply keep stored and sell with #2 if I ever sell it.
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Here lies 350: Killed by government
 

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Luxurious 1985 New Yorker <3
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
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I couldn't resist. XD I've never seen a Spirit gas station, and it was just around the corner from where I picked up the car. They had regular gas only, ironically.

This Spirit started and drove up onto the ramps. The head looks to be in good shape. There's no coolant in the plug wells. It sounds like there's rod knock, so I'd agree with the previous owner's assumption that it has an oiling problem. I have two blocks in very good condition, so I could either pull the whole thing out and build it back, or I could drop the crank and pistons and swap them. Guess we'll see when I get the oil pan off.

It's gonna have to wait just a little bit. #1 is still being disassembled.
 

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I couldn't resist. XD I've never seen a Spirit gas station, and it was just around the corner from where I picked up the car. They had regular gas only, ironically.

This Spirit started and drove up onto the ramps. The head looks to be in good shape. There's no coolant in the plug wells. It sounds like there's rod knock, so I'd agree with the previous owner's assumption that it has an oiling problem. I have two blocks in very good condition, so I could either pull the whole thing out and build it back, or I could drop the crank and pistons and swap them. Guess we'll see when I get the oil pan off.

It's gonna have to wait just a little bit. #1 is still being disassembled.
3rd times a charm eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
3rd times a charm eh?
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It would seem so. ;-) From left to right, it's #2, #1, #3. I finished pulling the motor out of #1 today, and I drove #3 into the garage. I'm going to pull the oil pan off and inspect before anything else, but the block I pulled out of #1 looks absolutely flawless. Combustion was even, the cylinder walls have clear cross-hash, and the plugs were clean.

I'd kinda neat to know that the last time those three cars were on the same lot together was in Mexico in 1991.
 

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Spirit #3's rod bearing #3 is MIA. I think I have all new bearings still from another full engine set. I'll take the crank out of the block from #2.
I have a89 T2 crank I have no idea if that's the same also I heard in 1990 they went to non forged oil pump drive gears and the oil pumps like to fail on the T3's all the time because of them...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've heard that, too. Oil pressure was good, but that's no guarantee. Besides, I doubt the piston itself is still on-spec. Right after I posted, I got in the car and went home. The moment I started driving, I thought, "Duh, just change out the whole block." :-D
 

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I've heard that, too. Oil pressure was good, but that's no guarantee. Besides, I doubt the piston itself is still on-spec. Right after I posted, I got in the car and went home. The moment I started driving, I thought, "Duh, just change out the whole block." :-D
Yeah I actually just scrapped 3 blocks because one was badly worn out 86 T1 (loose pistons u could wiggle so bad a ring cracked and the crank was walking in and out) not worth building the other 1 was a 2.5 I got for free with the Dent in the cylinder liner from a Xploded piston and the last 1 was my cousin's 2.5 he banged in the rear freeze plug so hard he dented the cylinder wall in. Better just to start over after a catastrophic failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Took the head off of #3 today. Thank God the turbo nuts came off! Ready for some shockers? The wastegate can was plumbed up to the vacuum ejector, so it NEVER opened. I wonder how much boost this thing made! The shaft has a ton of play. (Every single Garrett I've ever owned had a ton of play and/or blew a seal. Every single Mitsubishi I ever owned worked perfectly, despite being operated far above stock pressure. I totally get that the Garrett pushes much more air, but I'm really wondering about reliability.) Just as a reminder, this is the car that had no cylinder 3 rod bearing at all. I'm surprised it didn't throw the rod altogether!

But wait, it gets better. The second head bolt (the one in the middle next to the exhaust manifold) was broken OFF. We pulled the head off, and there was no sign of damage to the head, though the headgasket appeared to have been blown elsewhere. DOC reached down and pulled out the broken threads of the head bolt from the block with his fingers. O.O Uhhh.....how?
 

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Took the head off of #3 today. Thank God the turbo nuts came off! Ready for some shockers? The wastegate can was plumbed up to the vacuum ejector, so it NEVER opened. I wonder how much boost this thing made! The shaft has a ton of play. (Every single Garrett I've ever owned had a ton of play and/or blew a seal. Every single Mitsubishi I ever owned worked perfectly, despite being operated far above stock pressure. I totally get that the Garrett pushes much more air, but I'm really wondering about reliability.) Just as a reminder, this is the car that had no cylinder 3 rod bearing at all. I'm surprised it didn't throw the rod altogether!

But wait, it gets better. The second head bolt (the one in the middle next to the exhaust manifold) was broken OFF. We pulled the head off, and there was no sign of damage to the head, though the headgasket appeared to have been blown elsewhere. DOC reached down and pulled out the broken threads of the head bolt from the block with his fingers. O.O Uhhh.....how?
Hydraulic compression. If there is oil/goop in there the bolt will bind up and crack something maybe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I pulled the pan off to inspect, and I didn't see any signs of wear at all. No metal film, no loose caps or other parts, nothing out of place. The pan is back on with a new gasket and a thin bead of RTV black, though I doubt I need it.

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I can't believe how clean and perfect this block looks...aside from the crumbs I dropped in it. whistles

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@DOC G IROC gave the engine bay some love. Nice and pretty!

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We should have the block in tomorrow, so that we can put the car in the garage but not occupy the area with the chain hoist. That will let us finish all the rest. The wire harness is a bit of a mess, and the vacuum lines were incorrect. I have ARP studs, and I'm going to cut a standard Fel-Pro 8v crush gasket. I have a cometic gasket, but I suspect that it had something to do with the failure on #2. I'm going to leave the standard SBEC-2 in this one for now until it's completely clear that everything is working properly. I have a Stage 1 calibration from FWD that I could drop in for, oh, probably 25 HP without anything else being changed, except the +20% injectors of course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Got the block in and mounted ever so slightly.

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After getting the block installed, we went ahead and installed the 24v heads.

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blush How did that picture get in there?

I kid. But the Spirit had to scoot to the side for timing chains on the 2009 Pathfinder SE. Love them or hate them, Nissan cars have been very trustworthy for me. This one has most likely had slack chains for years. They're notorious for a plastic failure on a chain guide. I drove it 5 hours away from home to get the Spirit #3. Once I was there, it threw the CEL and went into limp-home mode. I also had to get cheap gas, and the motor requires premium. Despite that, it drove home just fine. That's a 4 liter engine moving about four tons of car at highway speeds for five hours with crap gas in limp home mode with a stretched timing chain, and it faithfully took me home. I only noticed a modest power drop.

Well, it's a bear of a job. I've done it on an XTerra and on a Quest (with the motor in the vehicle), so at least I have some experience. Once that's done, back to putting the Spirit together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@GrandpaSleeper BWAHAHA! That's one of the most awesome things I've ever seen.

We've had to use the PathFinder as a makeshift minivan for the wife and me...and three children...and mother-in-law...and ladder rack and all the gear for my work. I've got a 2011 XTerra with 350K miles in surprisingly good condition, but the PathFinder seems to just be the more logical vehicle most of the time, even off-roading. We do wireless Internet, so sometimes we're literally finding a path through the woods to build a new access point, and the PathFinder seems to be nearly as off-roadable as the XTerra.

I'm not a big fan of the 15-ish MPG and requiring premium gas, but it always does the job. I've got the timing cover off now, and I'm actually a little worried, because it's all perfect under the cover. Did I tear down to the timing chains for no reason?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oh gosh, I saw that. I really wanted a white one from the start, too...well, someone's gonna get a dream car. I can't get any more. I just let a 1987 Lancer GTS and a 1982 Rampage go to someone else.

Meanwhile, I got an actual 16v crush-style gasket set for about $175 from England. I'll have to wait for it, but I'll feel a bit more comfortable with that than the cometic gasket I have now. I gotta do a little research on the lash adjusters, too. Half of them are "complete", while the other half don't seem to be. I honestly don't know what I'm looking at with these, so I've gotta do some forum surfing.
 
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