This year you have seen me invest in a new paint job and a set of wheels and tires for my 1992 Toyota Pickup. I even chose it to convey me on my recent road trip to Cape Cod and back. As its owner for the past ten years I really cannot complain. This is a great truck for me.
Last weekend I put it to good use helping out a friend of mine get a new set of tires installed on the wheels of his wife’s Porsche Boxter S. The car had about 45,000 miles on it and the tires showed a lot of inside tire wear on the fronts, especially. After the new tires we would need to perform an alignment.
My friend has a nice shop next to his house complete with a couple of lifts, so we put the Boxster up in the air and removed the wheels. Next step was to get them cleaned up prior to the new tires being installed. Some time was spent with some spray-on cleaner and a power washer and we had most of the road grime removed. We then put them in the bed of my pickup along with the new tires and headed off for Performance Chassis where I would mount and balance them. Performance has a Hunter balance machine that does Road Force balancing, which is critical for a performance car like the Porsche.
We were about half way to our destination when the truck’s motor started making an outrageous clatter and started losing power. We pulled up the hood and listened. It didn’t sound good. My friend called his wife who picked him up so he could go get his roll-back and take my truck to Performance.
In about an hour we had my truck chained to the roll-back’s flat bed and were on our way to get the tires mounted and balanced. As we dismounted the old rubber I read the date code and discovered that these original tires were over six years old. Shelf life on most tires is about five years – so it was time.
The new tires were mounted and three of the four had to be remounted because of high Road Force numbers, but they all turned out good and we put the assemblies on to the roll-back and brought my pickup to my garage at home.
There we pulled the valve cover and saw that the valve train was fine. The motor was turned over by hand and the valve train still looked fine. Then the spark plugs were pulled and a compression check was done. 180 pounds for number 1 and 2 cylinders, but three was down to 30 pounds and four was barely 80. The most probable cause was ring land failure.
It was clear that this was not going to be a simple fix so I started searching for a shop that would be able to do a performance rebuild on my truck’s engine. The Internet is a great tool for this and I came up with several options. Some rebuilds were relatively cheap and via eBay. Others, which were more to my liking, were performance oriented with plenty of performance level options. It turned out that there was one not far away in Mooresville, NC called DOA Racing Engines. Now that deserved a road trip!
Off to North Carolina’s racing Mecca. Here is a town where teams such as Penske Racing have their shops and where performance shops and race car resources abound. While my Internet search had come up with Toyota performance shops in Arizona, California, and other parts of the country, it was fortunate that a three hour drive could get me to one of the premiere Toyota racing engine shops in the US.
My trusty Mitsubishi Evolution brought me to the driveway of DOA Racing Engines where I met with Tim Jenkins, the owner, and got the tour of his shop. This was also a chance to discuss my goals and receive a ton of knowledge and advice. Tim has over twenty years of experience in building racing engines and specializes in Toyota engines. To be able to get to talk about the details with a guy of his depth of experience was a real treat.
We initially talked in terms of a very high quality street build that would be basically stock, but with some important upgrades that would provide improved levels of reliability and result in enhanced power. It sounded like a winner and I headed back home.
Yesterday my friend once again loaded my pickup on to his roll-back and we transported it to Tim’s shop in Mooresville. After about three hours we reached the cul-de-sac, unloaded the red truck, and rolled it into position in front of DOA’s shop.
Tim and I reviewed the process and the timeline of the rebuild while my friend and I explored the shop. There were engines and engine parts in various states of the build process and each area allowed Tim to illustrate and expound on the many facets of performance engine rebuilding. My friend and I were enthralled.
On my last visit to DOA I had settled on the street stock build that Tim and I had discussed. This was a very attractive choice, but I decided to ask a few more questions as to what further enhancements might bring to the table. Tim’s description of the DOA 150 horse power upgrade really caught my attention. This would include a lot more head work that would perfect the engine’s flow characteristics and would include an upgraded cam shaft and valve train. The result would be an engine that would have the capability of rev’ing higher safely and provide a lot more power with enhanced reliability. As a result of our discussion I decided to stretch my budget and opted for the upgrade.
Over the next week or two I will head back to DOA and capture some of the key milestones of this rebuild complete with photos. After I get the truck back I also will add a header and performance exhaust from LC Engineering that should provide 15 to 20 additional horsepower. This should be one hot little red pickup truck when it is complete.