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Author Topic: New race head?
Funracer Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Motor (1.8 in a 94) needs help. It is a street motor with 137K on the meter. Dynoed 108 HP. Did a compression test yesterday and showed 170-172-173-175 dry hot WOT. Wet numbers were significantly higher but all 225-235. I probably used more than a teaspoon of oil in each cylinder which might account for the high wet numbers (?).

Unless I win the lottery before next season begins a new race prepped motor is not happening.
Much as I would like to go that route, with three in college this year and next I need to postpone that expense for awhile if I want to continue racing at all.

Do you all think my motor would be a good candidate for a race prepped cylinder head? Not as good as a race motor but more affordable until graduation comes around (2012). Looking to up the "fun" factor that was missing at 108 hp.

Thanks
Neil

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You need to do a leak down test. At 137k, a head would be better than what you have, but I would suspectthe bottom end needs some attention as well.
Jim

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Jim,

How is a leak down test performed...special tools?
What numbers would you be looking for either great,acceptable or bad?
What in the bottom end affects leak down numbers...only rings?
Thanks in advance for this basic information [Big Grin]

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Here you go.
http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles/116_0406_cylinder_leakdown_tester/index.html

The ring seal is what you will be checking on bottom end.

You may also cut open the oil filter and see if there is any metal in it.

It depends on tester, but typically anything over 6-8 % and it is time to think about a refresh. I suspect you may be seeing 10%+
Jim

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A good race head will cost you about $1,200 and you can do the install yourself or bribe some friends with beer. I will tell you this though, the race head may work for a little while but then the bottom end may end up giving out on you. You can do a "budget" pro motor. Buy a crate motor, send the head out to be done, then you are looking at about $3,500 and a little bit more work.

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when changing out a cylinder head (99)are all the specialty tools i see in my manual really neccesary? if not what do you guys use for them in their place.
tools i saw were for swapping out shims for adjusting valves (SST 49 T012 002, 49 T012 003).
just reading the manual before i start my project.
if i need to buy this, or other tools, does mazdaspeed sell them?
anything else i need to know would be helpful. i can swap a head on my formula ford very easily, but have never done this on my miata.
i hope this isnt a thread hijack, it seemed to fit in line with the original post.
thanks in advance
Josh

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Josh Pitt
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You dont need any speciality tools. It takes me longer to adjust the valves with the tool than without IMO. Most built heads come with valve lash set. If you are setting your own, it can be tedious and time consuming, but it isnt complicated. Just use feller gausge and record your finding, then remove cams and adjust your shim sizes accordingly. Then reinstall the cams and wonder why you missed one [Smile]
Jim

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thanks Jim,
since i got the head from you i know that it has already been done.
thanks again,
josh

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Just sent for a Longacre leakdown tester from
Saferacer. Gotta love a discount and free shipping. I should have it early next week and then I can find out more about what is going on.

Thanks
Neil

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Just a couple of comment also...

I think I am looking for a new head for 2011 too. I have a 125K motor with dry compression of 174-187-189-175...not sure what the numbers indicate. It actually seemed to run pretty well this year with minimal oil consumption. Have never had the car on a dyno nor done a leakdown. Perhaps you can comment Jim on those compression numbers.

Is the Longacre leakdown tester a good one and what about this special discount...do I need a code?

Bill

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A word of caution on doing the leakdown...

Remember which way the belt pulls on the cams. I bought a used race motor, and used it some more. The friend who did a leakdown on it said it got something like 20-30% per cylinder. Motor was tired but not THAT tired. I found more like 6-8% hot.

Best I can figure, when finding TDC he rotated the crankshaft backwards to dial in the high spot on the pistons at which point there is slack in the drive belt and the valves will be nowhere close to their position at TDC, despite where the piston is at. Turn the crankshaft the other way to get the slack out of the belt, all the appropriate things are lined up, and magically the hissing out the tailpipe goes way down, the air compressor shuts off, and the numbers get much better.

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Kyle Burkhardt
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Sorry to jack this thread, but I noticed that all the motors discussed are high miles, presumably street miles before the car was built. I have a 99 that was built as a racecar in 99 w/ 2k miles and now has 15k. So its uber low miles, but they are all track miles.

I don't seem to be underpowered. Would it be a waste of time/money to do leakdown/compression tests on this motor?

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No, it would be a really good idea. That will give you a basline to measure against later.

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Keith Novak
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Kyle Burkhardt
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Good point.

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Kyle Burkhardt
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quote:
Originally posted by Keith in WA:
A word of caution on doing the leakdown...

Remember which way the belt pulls on the cams. I bought a used race motor, and used it some more. The friend who did a leakdown on it said it got something like 20-30% per cylinder. Motor was tired but not THAT tired. I found more like 6-8% hot.

Best I can figure, when finding TDC he rotated the crankshaft backwards to dial in the high spot on the pistons at which point there is slack in the drive belt and the valves will be nowhere close to their position at TDC, despite where the piston is at. Turn the crankshaft the other way to get the slack out of the belt, all the appropriate things are lined up, and magically the hissing out the tailpipe goes way down, the air compressor shuts off, and the numbers get much better.

Thanks for the tip!

Neil

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For about 40 bucks Harbor Freight has a leak down tester. That's plenty enough for most of you guys. http://www.harborfreight.com/cylinder-leak-down-tester-94190.html With a 20% coupon and on sale I got mine for about 20 bucks. Leak down and compression tests are basic diagnostic tests for engines.

For an oil filter cutter I use this http://www.speedwaymotors.com/Oil-Filter-Cutter,2618.ht...d&utm_campaign=GoogleBase . I've cut them with hacksaws and sawzalls and this is much better. There are even some labs you can send your oil to and have them what spent metallic particles are suspended in the oil. Spent engine oil is an excellent tool for gauging the condition of your engine without tearing it down.

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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dave Stevens:
[QB] For about 40 bucks Harbor Freight has a leak down tester. That's plenty enough for most of you guys. http://www.harborfreight.com/cylinder-leak-down-tester-94190.html With a 20% coupon and on sale I got mine for about 20 bucks.

Love HF but been burned there before. Read the "reviews" on the HF leakdown link. I am hoping the Longacre unit I bought will work better.

Rgds

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I wouldnt buy any measuring tools (things like torque wrenches, or a leak down tester) from HF.
My wife got me an air cutting tool from HF for a present. it has been sitting in a box for a few months now.
I tried using it yesterday for the first time. it wont even move the blade. this was new right out of the box.
I could not imaging relying on a tool, from this place, to measure anything that really matters.

I told her i like the tool and thanked her, and also reminded her that if she ever wants to buy me a tool to have me go with her, because i know exactly what i like/want/need.
the tool is now in the big rolling toolbox; the one that gets collected 2x a week by the city from the side of the street.
quality tools give quality results, for a lifetime; they are an investment, not an expense like the HF stuff.
just my experience.

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quote:
Originally posted by Dave Stevens:

...

I've cut them with hacksaws and sawzalls and this is much better. There are even some labs you can send your oil to and have them what spent metallic particles are suspended in the oil. Spent engine oil is an excellent tool for gauging the condition of your engine without tearing it down.

Bet your samples showed high metallic content... ;-)

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HF tools have their place. I buy stuff from them when I want disposable tools. My track toolbox is full of them so that when I'm wrenching in the rain, it's not with my good tools. Plus I don't feel bad when I head to the bench grinder and make a specialty tool like a stubby crecent wrench for removing my O2 sensor.

Other than that, their tools are pretty much crap.

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I use the Longacre one for years, it works really well. I would spend the extra money and buy it. I agree that Harbor freight has sometools that work just fine for what we need, but this is not one I would recommend using.
Jim

[ 11-08-2010, 08:37 PM: Message edited by: Drago ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Keith in WA:
HF tools have their place. I buy stuff from them when I want disposable tools. My track toolbox is full of them so that when I'm wrenching in the rain, it's not with my good tools. Plus I don't feel bad when I head to the bench grinder and make a specialty tool like a stubby crecent wrench for removing my O2 sensor.

Other than that, their tools are pretty much crap.

+1 As long as you know what to expect from HF you won't be dissappointed. No one who expects something to last a lifetime or have it replaced should shop there. Electronic or electric tools are usually iffy at best. Hand tools are generally fine for the homeowner/do it yourselfer. As a contractor(wood) for a living and a weekend auto mechanic/metal guy HF has been a lifesaver for the budget...and ironically I have yet to break any of these "disposable" tools [Big Grin]

--------------------
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The difference here of course is I've been using one for a couple of years and have a basis for comparison. Not reading about it on the Interwebs and never having used one. The HF leakdown tester is as good as any other in the $100 price range. But a third the price. Most tools are manufactured offshore, many in the same Chinese factories with different brands on them. A leak down isn't rocket science. It is often used more as a comparison to known good cylinders rather than an overall base line. If you want to test it make an 0.080" restrictor on the output. Put 100 psi into it and the leakdown should read around 80%. The SnapOn is better built with better quality components but about 8 times the price. The HF gauge is a better gauge than most hobby racers are engine builders. Including me.

As for using a saw on a filter if you turn it upside down (after you've drained it) and using a saw won't add any discernable amount of particles. It's just a PITA. Even though I open the filters I learn more from draining the oil into an open pan first and feeling it with my bare fingers, looking at it and smelling it.

Dave

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The instructions that came with a $60 leakdown tester show pretty clearly how accurate these things are generally intended to be for the home user.

After plugging in the air line, you zero the gauge by adjusting it to 5%. In addition to % on the gauge, it's green, yellow, red for good, fair, bad. Good goes up to 20%. The instuctions also say it's not uncommon for readings 10% different testing the same cylinder twice.

Hows that for a precision instrument? Not too suprising considering when calling around some auto parts stores to see if anyone had one, it took a few stores before the clerks even knew what I was talking about. Not hot sellers I guess.

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quote:
Originally posted by Kyle Burkhardt:
Sorry to jack this thread, but I noticed that all the motors discussed are high miles, presumably street miles before the car was built. I have a 99 that was built as a racecar in 99 w/ 2k miles and now has 15k. So its uber low miles, but they are all track miles.

I don't seem to be underpowered. Would it be a waste of time/money to do leakdown/compression tests on this motor?

15,000 track miles may be 3 to 4 track years which I have been told is about all you can expect out of a motor. it should start puffing some oil on our shifts and using oil. I raced this year on a street motor with 85,000 miles on it. I did 5,000 track miles this year, Yes the wife was tested this year. My motor is down on power and will be replaced this winter. I can get my car on a dyno for about 125.00 locally, its worth the time to see where you are.

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Got the Leak down tester from Longacre today.

The directions seem to be a lot different than what I have read here.

"Step 2: Remove all spark plugs". Many say to only remove the one you are checking.

"Step 3: Remove rocker arms of cylinder to be checked" ???

"Step 4: Turn the motor over so the piston of the cylinder being checked is at BOTTOM dead center." TDC?

I know real men should not read the instructions
so should I just disregard them?

Thanks

BrianW
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In the past on other cars, I have just removed the plug of the cylinder that I am testing. I then place a longish dowel or screw driver in the cylinder, place the car in gear and push it until you see the TDC of the cylinder. I then put the parking brake on, take the car out of gear and perform the leak down test.

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Do a search, there is a good write up from Karl at ART on this subject specific to our cars.

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Finally got to do the leakdown test yesterday.

I used a Longacre guage and compressor set to maintain 100 psi. The car has a street motor with 137k miles on it. Numbers were taken with motor warm and all plugs out.

The tool itself worked well(thanks again for the discount Saferacer!). After playing around with it I began using 20-30 pounds on each cylinder to help identify TDC on the compression stroke (the exhaust stroke shows 100%
loss on the percentage guage. Compression stroke shows some lesser percentage).

Results were a little confusing but maybe not to someone used to looking at them:

Cylinder #1 15%
#2 13%
#3 16%
#4 3%

Not sure why #4 is so much better. I did all of them twice and got same or very close to these each time. I could hear air hissing from intake on all cylinders and hissing from exhaust on 1-2-3 but 4 was quiet so that might explain the better number there.

This was my first try at a leakdown. My only concern was whether I seated the rings properly.
I did rock the the crank back and forth to see if that changed anything but I saw no difference
before and after rocking. Is it possible the rings seated on #4 and not on the others? If not then I guess the bottom is shot.

Thanks

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Did you hear any air coming out through the oil cap or the 710 cap as some call it? [Big Grin] If you heard it coming through intake and exhaust you have a valve seal issue, not ring seal. I try to do my leakdown as the piston s on the way up and stop at tdc, I try not to rotate backwards.


Jim

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quote:
Originally posted by Drago:
Did you hear any air coming out through the oil cap or the 710 cap as some call it? [Big Grin] If you heard it coming through intake and exhaust you have a valve seal issue, not ring seal. I try to do my leakdown as the piston s on the way up and stop at tdc, I try not to rotate backwards.


Jim

To be honest I forgot to pull the dipstick to listen. I did have the oil filler cap off and did hear a small amount of air there on each cylinder. Air coming out the exhaust and intake was more noticeable.

Rgds

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Then the bottom end is probably OK.

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If you are only using 20-30 lbs, air past the rings is of no concern IIRC reading somewhere.
Jim, can you confirm?

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quote:
Originally posted by Funracer:
Finally got to do the leakdown test yesterday.

I used a Longacre guage and compressor set to maintain 100 psi. The car has a street motor with 137k miles on it. Numbers were taken with motor warm and all plugs out.

The tool itself worked well(thanks again for the discount Saferacer!). After playing around with it I began using 20-30 pounds on each cylinder to help identify TDC on the compression stroke (the exhaust stroke shows 100%
loss on the percentage guage. Compression stroke shows some lesser percentage). Thanks

I read this to mean you started at 20-30 psi, but did your test at 100 psi. Is that correct? Or did you do test at 20-30 psi?
jim

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Sounds like he used 20-30 lbs to make sure he was on the compression stroke of TDC....then raised it to 100??

...on that note, is there an adapter or something you can purchase to fit into the hole down to the spark plug? I mean, an extender to something. It's pretty tough to tighten that hose down into the spark plug threads without a hardened extension.

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quote:
Originally posted by Drago:
quote:
Originally posted by Funracer:
Finally got to do the leakdown test yesterday.

I used a Longacre guage and compressor set to maintain 100 psi. The car has a street motor with 137k miles on it. Numbers were taken with motor warm and all plugs out.

The tool itself worked well(thanks again for the discount Saferacer!). After playing around with it I began using 20-30 pounds on each cylinder to help identify TDC on the compression stroke (the exhaust stroke shows 100%
loss on the percentage guage. Compression stroke shows some lesser percentage). Thanks

I read this to mean you started at 20-30 psi, but did your test at 100 psi. Is that correct? Or did you do test at 20-30 psi?
jim

I did the test at 100 psi.

   

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