The last time that we had talked about the 1972 Nova project was when I had cut off the old roof skin, and rested the “new” one in its place. Since then, I welded the skin into its new home, and began repairing the sections of it that were rotted. Now, before I go any further, you might be saying “You replaced a rotted roof skin with a rotted roof skin? What the what?!” And the answer is yes. Yes I did. See, people in New England can’t have nice things because of rust. The “new” roof was “very solid” (for New England metal) except for the whole rear section where the glass sits. Water had clearly pooled there for quite a while and destroyed all the metal in that area. BUT. Replacing that section was about one thousand times easier than replacing the entire middle of the old roof. So that’s what I did.
Once the back of the roof was somewhat together, I decided to see how terrible the front sheetmetal was going to fit. That process would have gone really well if the mounts for the lower fender bolts still existed. Sadly they did not. So, I now I have to make those. Great.
Those of you that follow the 1A Auto Blog may remember the 2006 Subaru Legacy GT project car that I bought a few months ago. If not, you may want to start off by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of the project before jumping head first into today’s post. Then again, maybe you just want to dig right into the meat and potatoes. For that, I can’t blame you. In fact, that makes you a straight shooter, and that’s what I’ve always liked about you.
Okay. Here goes…
The new-ish VF40 turbo on the 2006 Legacy GT destroyed itself in hellacious fashion recently. Yes. It was quite an experience that I won’t soon forget. Raining, muddy, on a steep hill, on a high speed road, and then shrouded in disappointment from my “towing service” who shall remain nameless. If I had only known a month ago what I know now, this horrible event would have definitely been avoided. So now, I want to inform turbocharged Subaru owners far and wide of this absolutely simple maintenance that can make a destroyed turbo totally preventable. For me, I can only blame myself for not researching this car & EJ25 engine more, because this info is already out there if you just search for it. Sadly, I just didn’t realize that I needed to. Research, research, research when you buy a car that you are unfamiliar with. Hit the car forums. Ask the people that drive them. Be your own automotive advocate. It WILL save you cash and stress.
Now let’s get to the good stuff! Once the red beauty was towed home and placed in the dry, loving surroundings of the garage, I found that the shaft inside the VF40 turbo had been completely starved of oil, and it broke in half at the center bearing. This left the turbine wheel dancing around inside the turbine housing, which is never optimal for peak performance. With the engine running, the sound could have been mistaken for somebody feeding steel chains into a wood chipper. I immediately asked myself “how the heck did this happen?!” The car had brand new oil in it, only about 2000 miles on the oil that I got it with a couple of months ago, and I knew that the previous owner took amazing care of this car because she loved it. I hit the internet in search for the answer.
Much to my surprise, there was 350+ page thread on Legacygt.com that discussed this exact problem in detail, because hundreds of other Subaru owners have had the same exact problem as me. The cause - the banjo bolt (also known as a “union” bolt) that is part of the oil feed line to the turbo. Inside this banjo bolt is a tiny little (stupid) filter. Over time, this tiny little filter does its job and filters contaminates from going into the turbo. Great, right? No. Not so much. Because most people rarely, if ever, replace them. Left untouched for too long, the filter becomes clogged, and your turbo is starved of oil, which quickly leads it to an early death.
Needless to say, I am no longer a fan of this bolt or the filter that lives inside it, and I decided that there was no way that I was replacing it with the same style system. There just had to be something better out there, like maybe an oil feed line with a washable filter, and more oil volume? ALAS! The internet saved the day again! A company called “Infamous Performance” in California created an oil feed kit that appears to be far superior to the factory system. The kit that they sell completely eliminates the factory oil feed, and grabs engine oil from a “better” location. It also has a terrific looking, larger oil filter than can be cleaned out easily at your leisure. Since I also needed a new turbo, I went with a hybrid 16G VF40 from BNRSupercars. Both parts got to me fast, and worked perfectly without any drama whatsoever. The car now is now fixed, the birds are singing, and a beautiful red 2006 Subaru Legacy GT is back on the streets again.
Now, for those of you with turbocharged Subarus, don’t freak out yet. The first step is to find out if your car even had this banjo (union) bolt with the filter inside it (Not all Subarus do. In fact, the majority don’t.). For the cars that do have it though, it is located on the back of the passenger side cylinder head, and it holds down the turbo oil feed line. A super helpful Subaru owner known as “niemkij” on iwsti.com did a fantastic write-up of how to replace one of these bolts yourself. Currently, a new “union” bolt is around $17 new from a Subaru dealer, and probably take between 15 minutes and an hour to replace, depending on your level of expertise.
For all intents and purposes, replacing this banjo bolt with a new one from the dealer is all you really need to do. I go overboard on everything that I do, so I went with the whole new feed line & fancier turbo instead of the OEM stuff. The moral is, this tiny little turbo oil feed filter needs to be replaced on a regular basis. If you don’t replace it, or don’t know when the last time yours was replaced, you may be risking the life of your turbo. Check it out, and report back your findings. I want to hear about your Subaru.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Oliveras of TT Productions. As you’ll see, he is super talented when it comes to visual media, and he recently documented the building of Kaizen Tuning‘s new Evo X time attack project car. Through a series of fortunate events last weekend, I also got to see this Evo in person at Kaizen’s shop and swoon over it’s good looks. From my perspective, it is everything I would want in a race car (or daily driver for that matter). It has a beautifully built cage, minimalist interior, all wheel drive, assumed huge power from the built engine, and the rumor is that the body kit on it is the only one like it in the United States. In video and in person, this car is amazing from every single angle. The crew at Kaizen did one hell of a job building it.
For those of you that have yet to see this car in person (read: the majority of the world), Daniel has captured it all on film for us and merged it together into an adrenaline spiking cornucopia of eye candy… And this is just the trailer. Enjoy!
Update: Unbeknownst to me at the time I wrote this, HT Motorsport actually did the fabrication on this Evo. You may remember HT Motorsport from the incredible LS1 powered Audi RS6 a few months back. Small world right? Or do I just seem to be drawn to beautiful metal fabrication? Not sure. Either way, it is all around terrific work on this car.
For me, the most frustrating work that I have ever done is body work. It’s frightening. In fact, it is the single reason why I have owned my 1964 Impala project car for half of my life and never driven it… legally. Replacing metal is very doable by nearly anybody with a welder, but making it look “right” takes real talent. That said, I absolutely LOVE watching people that know what the heck they are doing, replace major body panels. That is why I watch all of those shows on the Speed & Discovery Channel. It is just so refreshing to see rusty or damaged metal removed and repaired with proper methods, and finished to look like new.
In the video above, you get to see 9 straight days of body work in 9 minutes. They bring the damaged 2010 crew cab GMC truck into the shop, remove the interior, doors, fender, bed, and rocker panel. They then straighten everything out, and reassemble it to look like new again. Oh, and they recorded it for our enjoyment.
As you saw a few weeks ago, I recently purchased a 2006 Subaru Legacy GT Limited that was missing compression in cylinder #3 due to a burned exhaust valve. Long story short, it runs again, but getting to this point was a fair amount of work. Here is how it played out:
I recently picked up a great new toy in the form of a 2006 Subaru Legacy GT. Much like all vehicles that I buy, it needed some major work before hitting the streets again. When I first heard about this car, the local Subaru dealer had just declared that it needed a new engine. Technically speaking, it did still run. However, it was running really rough due to lack of compression in cylinder #3. With the higher mileage that it had, and the repair being a seriously labor intensive job, it just wouldn’t make sense for the owner of the car to have it fixed. For me though, I get a weird thrill over fixing cars that other people condemn. Before long, a deal was struck, and the red Subie landed in my driveway.
The first step of any repair is determining what the problem is. Since I already knew that one cylinder was missing compression, I began the diagnosis by determining where all of that compression was going. I knew that if the piston was damaged, the compression would have to be filling the crankcase like crazy with air, so I started the car and yanked the oil filler cap off. I then waved my hand around above the oil filler tube. If the piston was damaged, there would have been massive amounts of compression pumping out of there. Luckily for me, there wasn’t. This, along with a quiet running engine, told me that the piston & rings were probably in good working condition. Next on the check list, and really the only other option, were the valves. I shut off the car, and installed a cylinder leakage gauge into the spark plug hole. I then set the engine to TDC on cylinder #3, and pumped 90psi of air into the cylinder. Sure enough, all of that air immediately flowed right out the exhaust system. Tada, an exhaust valve was damaged! This meant that the engine was coming out, and the heads were getting pulled off. Most of Saturday came and went, and the picture above is what I discovered.
So what causes burned valves? Well, from what I have read about these engines, the valves aren’t known to be the best quality to start with. Compile that with the fact that the valves were never adjusted in 140K miles (which is rarely, if ever, done by anybody with a Subaru), and the valves were given the opportunity to hang open just enough to burn. Yeap, a total bummer for sure. This car though, is getting a second chance at life, with new valves, head gaskets, timing belt, water pump, etc. I cannot wait to get it back together!