It was just shy of a three hour drive back to my engine builder’s shop in Mooresville, NC, but I was excited to make the journey. It was build day and I would be allowed to participate.
Most of the short block was assembled but there was a single piston left to be put in and I would get to work on that process as well as many others. The first step was to ge the rings on the piston starting with the oil rings, then the top ring, and finally the second ring. The connecting rod was pinned to the piston and then the bearings were pressed into place in the big end and the rod cap.
The crank was positioned to the bottom of its stroke and then the ring compressor was wrapped around the piston and placed in the bore. A rap with a mallet handle and the piston was in the bore. A couple of more raps and the rod was seated on the crankshaft journal. The block was rotated so that the rod bolts could be set to the proper torque and then rotated back so that the real top dead center could be determined.
This was actually a very important step as the notch on the crankshaft’s harmonic balancer could be off a degree or two which would corrupt any timing settings. To check for the true top dead center a dial gauge was mounted on the block and set to the top of the number one cylinder. The crank was rotated to find the dwell area where the piston didn’t really move up or down even though there was movement on the crankshaft. The middle of that dwell would determine where the actual top dead center was. Surprisingly it ended up that the crank pulley was right on. Now we could proceed with confidence.
The engine was rotated on the stand once more so that the oil pan could be installed and then it was time to prepare the cylinder head.
The intake side was ported to enhance the flow. The ports were carefully sculptured to allow for as little resistance as possible while directing the pattern of travel in a tornado like spiral. This work naturally took quite a while, but would complement the new camshaft and valves.
When this work was completed the valves seals were installed on the top of the guides and the valves were set in place so that the beehive valve springs could be locked to the valves. The beehive vale springs would allow for higher revs that would take advantage of the enhance breathing this head and cam assembly would provide.
The crankshaft, rods, pistons, in fact all the rotating assembly had already been balanced at the machine shop so this engine would be able to rev freely and safely in a much higher range than a stock 22RE would be expected. When the four-into-one header was installed to replace the stock exhaust manifold this motor would breathe freely indeed.
A multi-layer metal head gasket was set in place on the block and the head assembly was set into place on top of that. A couple of head bolts were temporarily screwed in to hold things in place while the rocker arm assembly was made ready.
First the new cam shaft was set in place after the cam journals were generously lubricated with assembly lubricant. The cam journal caps were bolted in place and the cam was turned to ensure everything was not binding. Then the rocker arm assembly was put in place over the cam and valves and the new head bolts were set in place, ready for the all important torque sequence.
Torque sequence is important as it allows for the head to stretch and move in steps as clamping pressure is applied to the bolts. You need to sneak up on the desired final torque reading. We started at twenty pound feet and worked our way up to the final seventy moving in deliberate steps making certain the squeeze the cylinder head from the center out and following the criss-cross pattern as we went from bolt head to bolt head.
With the head bolted down we could lever the cam sprocket on to the end of the cam shaft. This engine has a new heavy-duty roller chain and special chain guides that are far more robust than the ones that Toyota originally used. The gear for the distributor was bolted on with the cam gear and it was time to get the valve cover on.
The intake manifold was ported to match the port work done to the cylinder head and then the gasket was matched to both of those. The manifold was bolted on as well as a few other items that would route coolant from the back of the head.
There was more work to be done. The injectors had been sent off and had been cleaned, balanced and checked for flow so they could be installed. Then the newly resurface flywheel, clutch disc, and pressure plate would be installed, but not by me. I needed to make that three hour journey back home and leave the final steps in the good hands of DOA Racing.
In a couple of days the engine would be installed in the truck. The Saturday following I grabbed a ride with a friend and went to pick up the completed install. We arrived late in the morning and took the truck for a couple of test drives between which adjustments were made to the idle and fluid levels were checked. Then it was time for the pickup to head back to Jim’s Garage.
The ride was almost uneventful. The idle stayed a little high as the dashpot was acting up (not unusual for these engines) and a couple of nuts holding the downpipe to the exhaust manifold started to loosen up. Not a big deal as a set of tools in the truck made quick work of them. The rest of the trip was great and it was nice to put on a couple of hundred miles on the new engine.
After reaching home I was looking for excuses to take the truck out and keep putting more miles on the engine. Soon another problem showed up. The TPS (throttle position sensor) decided to fail which made if impossible to accelerate much beyond idle. A quick call to the engine builder resulted in a suggestion to unplug the TPS. That allowed me to return home and park the truck.
The next day DOA Racing drove out and replaced the faulty TPS and adjusted it. That was certainly the epitome of customer service.
Monday was the big day for getting the exhaust system replaced from end-to-end. I had looked around for a really good quality exhaust system that would complement all the great engine work. Unfortunately the most common choice was a Pacesetter header and exhaust system. These systems are made up of cheap steel that starts to rust within days of installation, even here in the south.
It took a lot of persistence on the Internet but I eventually came across LC Engineering who offer a four-into-one stainless steel (304) header and a complementary stainless steel (409) exhaust system that includes a high flow catalytic converter that is good in 49 states. This is what would go on the red pickup truck.
I knew that “bolt-on” exhaust systems rarely are so I made an appointment with RJ’s Custom Piping in Raleigh to install the exhaust system.
The old system was removed fairly quickly and set aside. Then the cast iron exhaust manifold was removed and the new stainless steel header was bolted in place. It installed easily from the top and cleared the steering and frame without any drama. This header really looks great with it being coated as well as being made of high quality stainless steel.
Next the muffler was set into the hangers in the rear by the axle and supported temporarily. An “S-bend” section to connect with the header outlet went in next. This section also has a provision for bolting up the factory O2 sensor which is important as that is how the engine determines how rich or lean it needs to run.
After that a new catalytic converter was installed with gasketed flanges. Slip-on flanges were installed in the S-pipe and while they came with clamps they were eventually welded in place in order to eliminate leaks.
It was found that the distance between the tail pipe section and the muffler needed to be bridged with a longer section than provided. Fortunately there was a long section for after the cat that had come in the kit that could be cut and sectioned in to the muffler pipe that went over the rear axle. RJ TIG welded that section in ensuring that the 2.25” piping would not be compromised.
Next another S-pipe was fitted to meet up with the straight pipe after the cat. This also cam with flange sections and clamps, but the clamps were not used and the sections were welded in place – again to eliminate any small leakage.
With everything welded, bolted, and hung in place there were no clearance issues and the finished product looked great. It sounded great too. The idle was a soft purr and the engine really could breath. Where, with the original exhaust system, I could feel some resistance at about 3500 rpm, it would now easily rush up to 4500 rpm under load. It also now had a distinctive sound as it accelerated. I reminded me of an English sports car from the sixties. This is really fun.