Friday, December 3, 2010

Spark plugs

The Subaru developed a little dead spot right off idle last week. The plugs in the motor had been in there since the it was installed and that was probably 22,000 miles back so I figured I'd start there and see what happened. I won't say ALL but A LOT of Subie guys really complain about how much this job sucks. You do need to remove a few things like the washer reservoir, the battery, and a lot of the air intake stuff but, after that, it money maker rump shaker. Things are a bit tight on drivers side but passengers side was quite roomy. I pulled the passenger plug wires and got a few extensions and a 5/8" socket to pull the plug (they sit about 6" down into the head). I felt the socket seat correctly and then went to unscrew the plug. Snap. Something felt weird so I pulled out (that sounds bad) and stared in horror at the plug on the right here:

The nut portion of the plug sheared right off. That's about 1/8" thick all the way around. So I had all of the porcelain part of the plug from tip to tip but the threads were stuck way down in the head. I've seen plenty of plugs crack in the porcelain area but I've never seen this. I even talked to my buddy Adam and our friend Sean (who is now building Subie engines on his own since our friend Booger from Axis Racing seems to have left the country on the run from the law) who had never seen it either. Sean said he had heard of it happening to someone once but never actually seen it.

Adam and I figured I could take an E Z Out and get what was essentially a hollow bolt out of the head. The issue was that it's so far down in the head. I pulled another plug and used a Dremel to cut the nut off so I could see what I was dealing with up close. I had a 19/64" E Z Out that I thought would do the job. Then I figured I could weld an extension on to that but I was worried about the metal the E Z Out was made of being hard to weld to. I have access to a MIG welder so I called my buddy Gary up to see if I could come over to his shop Saturday to put something together and he was cool with that. In the mean time I figured I'd finish what I could. Luckily the rest of the plugs came out easily. When I got as far as I could, I started looking around at all my tools and trying to come up with something. Eventually these are the tools I gathered:

I came up with this and it was the perfect length. The next issue was that I couldn't get the E Z Out to bite into the metal. It bit in real nicely on my practice setup on the bench but all it did was spin on the motor and I was terrified of any shavings getting in the cylinder. Luckily, an E Z Out isn't sharp. Eventually I wondered what would happen if I hammered the E Z Out in a bit. At that point, it didn't matter if I was trying to MacGyver it or if I had some welded up tool so I went for it. I gave it a few taps with a hammer and went to unscrew it. It bit. I got it out. The last plug went in and everything else went back together. The car fired right up and the dead spot's gone. A HUGE load off.


Anonymous said...

Forget fly fishing guide, you should be a mechanic in a tidy upper end import shop with shiny floors and a big SCCA rally race hauler out back

TK said...

jeeeezus. i bet your heart almost stopped. i know mine would have burst. scary moments in auto mechanics.

Dan Schmatz said...

I like you.

No f'ng around, a true hard c*nt.

Chris said...

That's exactly what Heather said to me yesterday when I went back for another Ring Ding.