Project AE86: Heart Surgery

So with two bad motors, one worse then the other one. Sometimes life just hits you with more issues then joys. I don’t let the problems get to me, instead I really try to learn what I can do to get out of this problem and focus on the goal. Which is get my 86 running, so I can compete in NASA time trails and DE track days.


I was thinking, maybe I can have the machine shop do a refresh on the motor. After all, the compressions did improve a lot after adding a tiny bit oil. She might just need rings and thats it. After getting a estimate for $1750 for a complete engine rebuild as a worst case scenario, that would have been too much money. The machinist did offer another option. I dissemble the motor and bring it in pieces, then it would be much cheaper. Doing that kind of work is something I have never done.


I was able to find a PDF manual on the 4age motor, and after reading several pages on the engine section, I figured it was a doable thing. I took my chances and started to teardown the motor.


One thing I have learned it there is always a sequence to properly loosen or tighten a part. If you don’t follow it properly, then you risk breaking something expensive.


I made sure I took lots of pictures before taking out a part, and to be neat and tidy. Going to take the head to machine and hopefully nothing too expensive to replace. I did notice scoring on the intake camshaft, but Ill try to use the intake cam on the small port and see if that will do. Only the machine will let know if the head is good or not.


Removing the head wants bad and I even made a youtube vid on it:


Have the short block exposed I can see my pistons looked tired with all the carbon deposits. I noticed the very top of the cylinder walls had some gunk or rust. Im thinking because the motor was sitting for soo long, but this motor looks like it can be saved.


Most likely the motor will need new rings and at least a hone. Not too expensive thankfully. Now to disassemble the short block.


Pulled off the pan and no metal shavings noted. This youtube video helped figured out how to disassemble the block.


The 4AGE manual helped a lot, showing the proper sequence on how to remove a the crankshaft and pistons.


All taken out in one day! I made sure to label and mark which side is towards the front of the motor.


This motor was probably spending most its life in the higher RPMs. The block looks fine and no obvious signs of overheating thankfully!

The main bearings look pretty good! Some wear, but my M3 looked way worse and that had only 50k miles.


Rod bearings look good too. No damage, just worn. Im thinking it’ll needs rings, and bearings. Another interesting find, is my big port 4AGE is an early model. I have have the 7 rib block but no oil squirters, and the part number on the piston and rod are from a blue top 4age. That means my internals are lighter then the later model 7rib block. If I was going boost I would worry, but since Im not going that route. I think this motor would rev up much quicker.


All dissembled and ready for the machine shop. Let see what they. Stay tuned.


Project AE86: Engine Woes

I pulled out my old 16v 4age, and was my first time doing so. I was nervous, but thankfully being a track car, there wasnt alot to disconnect or unbolt. The tuner that made my engine harness (R.N.R. Autosport) had all the wires labeled, and that helped a lot.

Untitled Untitled


Rust in the coolant lines. That isn’t a good thing, but I was told you can still run the car just fine with it. Kind of a bummer though.



Pulled out the motor in less then an hour!!! My neighbors didn’t even notice.


Next before I start to swap the the parts out, I had to do a compression test. Learned my lesson from the other motor. Even though it ran, it doesn’t mean the motor was healthy.


We proceeded to to separate the the transmission from the motor and mate it to the newly acquired large port 16v 4AGE. The reason why we did that is because you have to crank the motor with the starter to do an accurate compression test. Just hand cranking the motor for the compression test wont be accurate, and you can’t use an impact gun on the crankshaft because you will risk breaking something.


All you need to crank a motor when its outside of the car is a starter, something to mount the starter to, and the flywheel.


The clutch is in good shape.


The transmission looks like I need to replace the seals. Old cars, simple to work on but if they haven’t been maintained well, they require lots of hour and money to get back to it former glory.


We swapped over the transmission and proceeded to do the compression test!! If you not so sure how to do this, here is a video that helped me:

We did the compression test and wasn’t that great. We did add a tiny bit of oil did help with the compression, but that means the piston rings are probably worn. If I put this motor in the current condition, their might be a possibility that the motor will burn oil and smoke. Now Im just thinking, no what 4age motor I put in here they all need a rebuild since they are getting old.


Well that leads me to other issue, how do I rebuild a motor? More on the next post.

Project AE86: New Heart


Having a a bad motor, I have 3 options: rebuild the motor by a machine shop, get another 16v 4age thats good, or just cut my losses and sell the car. Well, finally speaking just cutting my loses would be the best thing. But when you put time and effort into something, then you tend to grow an attachment to it. You become more determined to accomplish your goal. I could rebuild my motor, but local machine shops are asking $1300-$1700 for a full rebuild. I’m not even sure if the block or head are good enough for a rebuild. The machine shop will determine that, but that means paying for teardown too. So that leads me to buying another 16v 4age.


Looking for 16v 4age seemed pretty slim. There wasn’t any on eBay and when I was on facebook market place I didn’t see any recent post for 16v 4age for sale, yet alone locally in Houston. My friend, Thaison, offered his other small port 16v 4age. Unfotunatley he lives in Austin, and Im not sure when I’ll be able to go back to Austin to pick up the motor. So I started asking some car friends if they knew anybody that might have a 16v 4age.


That leads me to Harris, who has a RHD AE86 GTS that he pulled the 16v 4age, because he wanted more power. He swapped in a 20V black top 4age ITBs. His build is pretty baller, with custom engine harness, coil on plug, and more high end goodies. That RHD AE86 was previously owned by my friend, Chris, which had the 16v 4age. I know the AE86 was running pretty good before the motor was pulled out. My chances of this motor being healthy was high.


I now have a motor, but how am I going to able work on it. I had to buy a engine stand and engine hoist. Lucky I still had my Harbor Freight coupon and I scored a cheap engine stand. But the engine hoist was another thing. Brand new from harbor freight was at least $175 and I’m probably only going to use maybe couple of times.


I started to look at the classifieds: craigslist, and Facebook marketplace. I was thinking, I’m sure there will be some people that want to get rid of their engine hoist after finishing a project car or doing a motor swap. Thats when I scored a really good deal. I picked up an engine hoist, 4 jack stands, 4 wheel dollies and an engine leveler for $100! The engine hoist was practically brand new. The seller had to sell his project car, and this was the leftover tools. I always try to buy used if I can, because you save money and most cases its barely used.




JDM 16v 4age large port 4age!!! Since its a large port, I have to get the ITB adapter for it, because the small port I have wont fit. But everything else I’ll swap over the parts and put new gaskets. Next step is pulling out the motor in the AE86. This will be my first engine pull. I’m kinda nervous and excited at the same time. My goal is to be able to pull it out in one day. I hope my neighbors wont mind, because space can be tight living in the city.


I’m still going to compression test, and leak down test my newly acquired motor. I want to make sure the motor is 100% healthy. You learn from your mistakes, just make sure you don’t repeat them. I know friends means the best intentions, and there will be times when issues happen, but I don’t let get to me. People always show their true intentions, especially during the bad times. If your friends offer to help with the cause, then you know they are good friends. Thanks to the homies that help me get this far!


“I have money, it’s trust and character I need around me. You know, who you choose to be around you lets you know who you are. One car in exchange for knowing what a man’s made of? That’s a price I can live with.” -Han

Project AE86: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Well, no one said life was always going to be easy. Found out the hard way, the motor on the AE86 is no good. Pretty bummed and disappointed about the outcome.

As the tuner was setting up the dyno, and adjusting the ecu setting, she started to smoke under load. Didn’t even get to do a dyno pull. The tuner was thinking originally its from the header wrap but the smoke was coming back form the exhaust.

The 2nd video shows how bad its was. She revs up, but its just ticking time bomb. Thankfully no rod knock but if we pushed it, she might have gotten to that point, or even worse and blow the motor. We canceled the tune and did a compression and leak down test.


Cylinders 2 and 3 are in very bad shape. Lesson learned, always do a compression test before buying a motor. I did see metal shavings when I did an oil change, and smoked a bit on idle, but I didn’t think much of it. All I can do now at this point is rebuild this motor or get a good motor and swap that… Life teaches you things, and you learn from mistakes. Can’t give up now.


Fresh Meat


I finally bought NT01 for my Volk wheels. I chose the meaty 205/55/14 size because I wider footprint, meaning more grip at the track. But the 205/55/14 sizes are limited, and I only had two choices. I chose the Nitto NT01 over the Toyo R888 because I’ve had personal experience with NT01, and the Tokyo R888 tire is more of show tire. Some the track guys that ran R888 didn’t grip or last as long as the NT01s.


Meaty. Kinda funny how I was all into the stretched tires and poke.



Fitment on point.


Wheels make or break a car, and you cant go wrong with TE37. Pretty soon she will be heading to the tuner!

Toyota Jamboree 2019


Toyota Jamboree is a 4 day event that involves Toyota 4x4s, vendors, and off road trails, with competition events. Durning the multi day event, you can get a hotel nearby or go camping at the off road park itself. I would recommend the camping because nothing beats wheeling and camping with your friends.

Untitled This was my wife and I first time at Toyota Jamboree but we have gone off roading before in past. The one thing we never did was primitive camping, and which is basically camping without restrooms or running water on site. For me I didn’t mind, but I know with wifey it was a big thing. I understand that, and what I have found out is if you make camping more luxurious or more comfortable for your significant other, then they will want to go on more trips with you.


Lambo and wifey enjoying the time spent. Getting away from the city life is nice. I wouldn’t sell my house in the city for the suburb life, but to live in the country, I maybe would.


Airing down for the off road trails. The forecast called for rain and mud. I was excited for that!


Riding the trails with the homies added a better sense of security and confidence. When we go off roading alone in the trails sometimes you get nervous if you are going to get stuck or if any help will come in such a remote place. I do like the privacy but with friends it just makes it more fun.

Untitled Untitled

The Land Cruiser was pretty clean at this point. But by end of the weekend it was a different story.

Untitled Land Cruiser gang. Untitled

Untitled Xerx and Gretchen with their dog Chewy. Lambo’s girlfriend. Untitled

Untitled Untitled


The level 2 trails that is easy in on the dry is a different animal when rain comes into factor. This FJ got it wrong, and this was triple locked and which too.


Untitled We made it out of he trail fine, it all about the lines you take really. Untitled

Untitled Then it started to rain more….. Felt like I was at a scene from Jarassic Park. Glad I was out with my friends, because I know I would have been stressing if I was by myself. Untitled

Flexing. The articulation on solid front axles are much better then independent suspension. The 80 series look soo good.

Untitled Finally back at camp. It did rain more but I was the fire master and no camp is complete without a camp fire. Untitled

Untitled The next day as more fun wheeling and exploring the trails. Lambo up and early. Untitled

Our friends brought a lot of food too. This wasn’t the ham and cheese sandwich either. We were cooking in luxury.

Untitled The condo units of my friends rigs. Untitled

We slept in the Land Cruiser and was pretty comfy. Thankfully it was a cold night so it wasn’t stuffy at all.

Untitled Untitled

Untitled 4×4 Toyota gang gang.


Untitled Mike and Allen working on flying the drone.


Lambo chilling with Chewy parents on the rooftop. Tooo cute.

Untitled I sure love the way Land Cruiser look especially when it used on the trails.


Lunch time.

Untitled Untitled

The base camp.

Untitled I did get stuck once, but thats why you go with your friends!!! Untitled

Looks good though. Har Ley help me out get unstuck, such a good friend. Eventually, I did have to get pulled out from Mike’s GX470. I did have my maxtrax but if you have another vehicle its just faster to use the recovery straps instead.

Untitled Back at camp, this time we had pizza. Untitled


The next day we were still eating good.


Untitled Untitled


After breakfast, we packed up and headed back home to Houston! This was a great experience and plan to do more often!


Tokyo Auto Salon 2019


Kinda late posting since its now end of March, and TAS was in January but I’ve been busy with cars, and traveling this past few months.


This trip all started several month back when I was talking to my friend Joseph about wanting to hit up Tokyo Auto Salon. He has been there twice before, and we joked about if there was a good flight deal we will book a trip. Well, I get a txt from Joesph saying he found round trip tickets from Houston to Japan with All Nippon Airways for about $800! We booked out tickets that same day, and I was ready to get my Tokyo Auto Salon cherry popped.


We stayed at Shibuya, probably the best place to stay if its your first time visiting Japan. But the event was about 1hr away from Tokyo, thankfully Japan’s public rail system made it an easy commute.


It was a cold but beautiful sunny day.


Thankfully Joseph and I was able to get exhibitor passes and get in the morning beating the peasant crowds. But if you are not able to get an media or exhibitor pass you can still get into general admission but they are not allowed to come in till the afternoon, or pre buy VIP tickets to skip the lines, and crowds.


First stop on the list was hitting up Top Secret, mainly because Joesph is a fan boy having owned a Nissan 370Z in the past. I remember Top Secret from my old option DVD with Smokey and his Supra hitting the Wangan. These days they seem to specialize more in Nissan then in Toyota. I got sold on the JDM hype and bought some merchandise from them. Glad I did because, they don’t really sell merchandise online.



A few of Top Secret products. Disc brakes bigger then a dinner plate.


DSC_0557 DSC_0559

DSC_0560 DSC_0562

Japan has always been a weird but cool country. Like, I know some people come here for the girls and not the cars. Im sure the models are used to it, comes with the territory.

DSC_0561 DSC_0564

Found the Up Garage booth, and wish I bought a bigger luggage now. So much JDM goodness without the JDM tax we get in the states.

DSC_0565 DSC_0568

DSC_0567 DSC_0570

DSC_0571 DSC_0574


These cars was actually designed by an automotive school. I think they were the ones that made a k car NSX body some years back.



Overlanding becoming a trend in Japan.



This bike is something I would see fit in the Houston, Tx.


DSC_0585 DSC_0587

Voltex had some pretty cool products. Way out of my budget though.

DSC_0588 DSC_0589

DSC_0590 Being an 86 owner I had to check out Impulse. They make every panel for the AE86 in carbon fiber. I saw they made some nice high rise headers. If I had alot of money I would buy all the parts but instead I bought a t-shirt for my godson, Levin.


DSC_0593 Full carbon fiber Impulse AE86


DSC_0597 DSC_0598

DSC_0605 DSC_0602

DSC_0610 The Honda Cub, would make a great pit/paddock bike.


Mugen everything…

DSC_0616 DSC_0631

DSC_0629 DSC_0628

DSC_0630 DSC_0635

DSC_0637 Had to check out the ray bought being a TE37 owner myself. I did buy a some stuff there too. DSC_0643

DSC_0639 DSC_0640

DSC_0646 DSC_0648

DSC_0657 KW, popular suspension with the track guys.


DSC_0652 Pandem and their super aggressive flared out body kits.


DSC_0653 DSC_0661

Bride Japan, is half the cost here, then in the States. Im sure the bulky shipping has to do with the price increase.

DSC_0662 DSC_0663

DSC_0664 DSC_0667

Track day things….

DSC_0666 DSC_0672

DSC_0676 DSC_0679

DSC_0684 DSC_0692

DSC_0694 DSC_0700

DSC_0696 DSC_0703


Roberuta, is a Japanese company that specializes in making air lift kits for high exotic cars. It not cheap either, but if you own a exotic car, money isn’t an issue.


DSC_0709 DSC_0710

DSC_0714 DSC_0722

DSC_0718 DSC_0719

DSC_0734 Saw the new Supra debut in Japan! Had a cammo wrap so I couldn’t really see the lines of the car. Plus the crowds made it hard to get a decent picture.


DSC_0748 DSC_0742

DSC_0751 DSC_0763

DSC_0765 DSC_0766

DSC_0783 326 Power, making static slammed suspension components for the hot bois.


DSC_0786 DSC_0788

DSC_0798 Liberty Walk had their unveiling of their new line of body kits.


Couldn’t get a decent picture though…. You can see the crowd was massive.

DSC_0812 DSC_0802

DSC_0828 DSC_0840

DSC_0841 The glory days. DSC_0830

DSC_0831 DSC_0843

DSC_0842 DSC_0848

DSC_0847 DSC_0849

DSC_0853 Later we stopped at the Tomica store. I remember this brand when I was growing up, especially when I visit the Philippines. I always thought the car picture on the box was the same car inside the box, but instead I get an okay looking car lol. I can tell though they have stepped up their detail game though.


Untitled DSC_0820

As the afternoon rush got more crowed and having seen all the hall venues, it was time for us to head back into Tokyo. Pictures isn’t enough for Tokyo Auto Salon, you have come and see it for yourself! And if you haven’t visited Japan, you should because I don’t think there is any other country thats is like Japan.

DSC_0818 DSC_0855


Just want to say thank you to the guys at Shinku Classics for giving Joesph and I the exhibitor passes. They are a local car import shop in Houston,Tx. If you want any cool JDM cars, you should check them out!