Bigger knockers

Boring and mostly self-indulgent post. Enter at own risk.

I finally got off my arse and bought a new engine for my Impreza. I’ve been planning and researching an engine swap for maybe two years now, or maybe since I bought the car new back in 2000. I know I’ve asked here about importing complete engines or longblocks before.
My Impreza is a bit of a hybrid, being assembled in Taiwan out of parts that are about 90% Japanese in origin. It’s bizarre in that as far as the engine specs and emissions paraphernalia goes, it’s very close to the JDM version. What’s odd about that is that the car is naturally LHD, so I guess Ta Ching must have had some fun shopping through the corporate parts bin at FHI…
After 135,000km of mostly trouble-free motoring, I need more grunt than Ta Ching saw fit to offer. I’ve thought about either blowing the original engine, or swapping in a complete turbo drivetrain, but the first idea is bad for a daily driver and the second is more money than I want to spend. Not to mention that turbo lag sucks donkey balls in Taiwan traffic.

Anyway, what’s problematic about this swap is that the 2.5 liter naturally aspirated engine is almost unknown in Japan, but very common in the US. However, the USDM car has a bunch of emissions type junk on it that the JDM models don’t, like sensors for fuel temperature and tank pressure, and controllers and solenoids for all sorts of purge canisters and recirculation devices, extra catalytic converters and more sensors to check on them. :astonished: So, a big headache for me is that I can get a USDM engine and ECU, but my car lacks all these (useless) peripheral devices and that’s for sure going to have the ECU bugging out and throwing all kind of trouble codes. I don’t know about you, but I hate driving around with the CEL on.
OTOH it’s going to be a PITA trying to figure out which exact year and model JDM ECU will match my mix of peripherals and the engine series I want.
There were some 2.5 liter Foresters and Legacys imported into Taiwan, maybe about 5 in total and as rare as rocking horse poop. No guarantees on use or condition. :s

I decided to fit the 2.5 engine and run it off my original 1.8 ECU. There’s no way in hell my stock ECU will just magically hit my target AFR running injectors almost 50% larger than it will think are there, so some tweaking is required.


JDM SOHC Phase II EJ25 longblock and timing belt.
USDM EJ25 fuel injectors.
TDM EJ18 intake manifold and throttle body.
TDM EJ18 sensors.
TDM EJ18 ECU + Greddy Emanage piggyback engine management.
Greddy PC support tool for tuning sensor inputs, adding injector pulse width and modifying ignition timing etc etc.
Crossed fingers.

Current mods:

WRX brakes front and rear.
KYB AGX adjustable sports suspension.
STi v.5 springs.
Clarion/Infinity/Image Dynamics audio with two amplifiers and 900W total RMS power.
Improved sound deadening and acoustic damping.

I saw my new engine today, fresh off the pallet from Japan. It’s beautiful, brand spanking new, never been run. There isn’t a speck of soot in the exhaust ports. I got a longblock only, so the water pump, pullies, belt tensioners, intake and all ancilliaries have to come off the original engine. It looks exactly like my original, except it has the telltale engine code, and no engine serial number, since it was never installed in a vehicle.
Hunh? That’s right. Not even intended for that either. Subaru sells engine direct to builders of experimental aircraft, which is what this one was originally destined for. :sunglasses:

Rather than test too many things at once, I decided to install the engine management first, get that up and running, and then let my buddy install the engine. I no longer have time to spend a week in the shop hoisting engines… My day was spent on my knees, head in the passenger footwell cutting and splicing into the factory wiring loom at the ECU. There’s a lot of wires in the bundle and it’s easy to make mistakes. I’ve spliced in with extra OEM style connectors so I can rip it out again or isolate particular wiring groups easily should I need to troubleshoot the install. Thumbs up to Taiwan for these kind of supplies being available right off the shelf in electronics alley. :slight_smile:
Finally got the new wiring harnesses all labelled, soldered and plugged in after a 7hr slog. The engine started on the first try, which is nice, but now I’ve got some error codes from the emanage and the TCU, so the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. Got to try and fix those issues tomorrow with some firmware updates and some different approaches with the update and parameter setting procedures. I’m an oldskool tune by jets and needles carburettor guy, this tune by laptop stuff is all new to me. New millennium starts next week.

Cliffnotes: Bought new (upgrade) engine for car, very excited.

Gearheads never die.
They just get new progs.

Good luck and keep us updated.

Today I spent a few hours trying different versions of both the fuel computer firmware and tuning software that programs it. Finally I hit upon a combination that allowed me to at least download the existing unit settings and some other neat stuff. Now I can see what the engine is doing in real time, injector duty cycles, ignition timing, throttle position and so on, and do data logging. :sunglasses:
Fixing the above also got my CEL to go away, which is nice since it tells me that I did get my wiring right after all.
Yesterday there were times I felt like I was in one of those lousy movies where there’s 20 seconds left on a timer, and you have to cut either the red wire or the green one, or something really bad happens. Red or green. 19 seconds, 18…

Is it legit to change engines on cars in Taiwan???

[quote=“Mr He”]Is it legit to change engines on cars in Taiwan???[/quote]In most cases, only if you are swapping an engine of the exact same brand, displacement and series.
Domestic assembled cars always have the engine number on the vehicle registration. It’s a lot of jumping through burning hoops (or hongbao) to change the number even if it’s a straight replacement. It used to be flat out illegal, now it’s just a nightmare. It’s illegal to swap a different series engine and if the engine number is on the rego it will be hard to obscure that fact.
Imported cars are usually just identified through the VIN which is on the body. DOT keeps no record of the engine type, just the capacity and the kind of transmission and the kind of fuel it uses… which is why (for example) the US built Hondas are worth more than the ones Sanyang built. DOT has basically no idea what the original engine is supposed to look like and you can cram anything that has a Honda badge on it in there as long as it fits. If it passes sniffer checks at inspection time you’re okay.

Thanks, cleared up a lot.

God luck with the new engine.

[quote=“Mr He”]
God luck with the new engine.[/quote]

God gives blessings…Lucifer gives luck. Or at least that’s what they taught me at my Sunday school.

very cool Hsiadogah… like buying a brand new 250hp uber Lego kit isn’t it? amazing how it really is just the price (and power) of the toys that goes up with age :wink:

RE: above quote, I’m not sure how the rules work out for cars, but whilst registering the GS last year, the DOT made careful note of both the VIN and engine numbers, and noted that the engine was a “fuel injected, 1197cc, dual spark, flat twin.” not sure if this marks the beginnings of a DOT policy shift or just another sub clause in the govt’s “screw over people who want to ride big motorcycles act” of 2002…

[quote=“plasmatron”] amazing how it really is just the price (and power) of the toys that goes up with age :wink:
[/quote]hahaha. You sound just like my wife. :laughing:

RE: above quote, I’m not sure how the rules work out for cars, but whilst registering the GS last year, the DOT made careful note of both the VIN and engine numbers, and noted that the engine was a “fuel injected, 1197cc, dual spark, flat twin.” not sure if this marks the beginnings of a DOT policy shift or just another sub clause in the govt’s “screw over people who want to ride big motorcycles act” of 2002…[/quote]I hadn’t heard about any increased scrutiny on the car rego process.

I don’t know if the hassles for big bikers are really an effort to screw you. I think it’s more like, “The WTO has our feet to the fire to do something we don’t want to do. So, we’re going to do it, but make it as difficult and expensive as possible in the hopes that no-one will take advantage of the changes.”

Congrats my friend…

If the swap was too easy you’d be bored… :wink:

Sorry about the crappy resolution, cameraphone stylee. It’s now got it’s peripherals on it and will go in the car tomorrow.

“the death star is nearing completion…”

:uhhuh: nice…

Nearing completion, yes. :wink:

We had the engine all plugged and plumbed on Saturday. I filled her with dino oil for break-in and unplugged the ignitor so we could spin the engine without it firing, priming the oil pump and getting some lube to the bearings. Plugged back in, the engine started on the first turn of the key.

Idle is perfectly smooth at 800rpm cold and dropping quickly to 600rpm as the beast warms. We waited, listening for any strange noises and looking for leaks. After 10 minutes or so we put the car in the air to look underneath to find a heater hose was weeping a little water, so we had to shut her down to fix that.
With that taken care of we had to bore a hole in the headers and weld in a bung for the wideband O2 sensor we’ll use in tuning.

Roadtest went off without a hitch, though as soon as the throttle was released our old friend the transmission warning code was back to greet us. We made another attempt to tweak the wiring for my Emanage fuel/timing controller, but no go.

Another check to see that all the hoses and gaskets were tight and I took the car home. No time to do any tuning or even check the AFR, but the car was running so smooth it should be fine.

Yesterday I took her for a maiden voyage up to Green Bay, arriving with about 200km on the trip odo and the engine starting to loosen up a little. We still haven’t done any tuning, so I’m running pretty rich in closed loop, some bogging letting off the gas if not just snapping straight off into decel. Low end torque is still amazing. More throttle will kick the ECU into open loop and we’re either way lean there, or way too advanced with timing. Det rears it’s ugly head, so have to back off.

On the way I could easily cruise at 130kmh without leaving closed loop mode, and without breaking 4000rpm, pass anything I wanted to do. 450km now and the new engine spins much more freely.

Got torque?

She goes back for tuning today, and to fix a couple of issues related to the install.

  1. The shimming under the engine mounts to get clearance for the pan has caused one of the bolts on the power steering reservoir to contact the underside of the hood.

  2. Something is interfering with the left front tire on full left lock as I have a rubbing sound now which I never did before.

We may have to modify the crossmember some to clear the oil pan and allow us to get the engine back at the stock height…

Skipping on the motorhead jargon, I only have one question. Does she kick f**ing arse now or what?

[quote=“KawasakiRider”]Skipping on the motorhead jargon, I only have one question. Does she kick f**ing arse now or what?[/quote]Ask me again when she’s tuned and run in. :wink:

Predictions for enhancements on the weighted arse-kicking scale are for significant increases. Current status is merely ‘elevated arse-kickability’ :smiley:

Yeah, it’s completely different. It used to feel like a typical 4cyl engine, regardless of the fact it’s a boxer four. Now you know there are four 625cc cylinders at work, kinda feels like it’s got two big v-twins in there, you feel each power stroke. No vibration or noise, just the push. :smiley:

We got a baseline tune done today. The emanage has 16x16 cell maps for various functions like additional injector pulse width, ignition advance/retard, the control of extra injectors, and the old standby, lying to the ECU by manipulation of the engine’s load sensor. All of the maps have 16 columns for rpm and then 5 or 6 scales on the rows, from throttle position, manifold vacuum relative and absolute, to the actual voltage on each sensor output. The emanage tracks the cells on the 2D maps in real time and you can make corrections on the fly.

Lacking a dyno to work with, we have been out tuning on Taichung’s outskirts up what hills we can find to create some load without having to break any speed limits. Well…
Tuning is accomplished by driving the car against the load (our hill) at varying throttle settings and rev bands to see what air/fuel ratios we see on the wideband O2 sensor, while listening for detonation on the headphones which monitor the engine with sensitive microphones.
At the moment we are adjusting to get a ballpark AFR around stoich at part-throttle loads and letting it go as rich as 12.5:1 under heavy load / full throttle. We had to make some pretty drastic fuel trimming to hit those targets, so it’s nice to know I have lots of overhead on my injectors if I do further mods later to increase airflow.

Of course it’s not necessary to get values in every cell of every map since it’s not possible to get the engine to redline at 0% throttle, or get the revs to stay at idle with the pedal at 100%. This is the great thing about a piggyback computer. You can leave cells at zero and default to the maps on the stock ECU. With a standalone you have a lot more functions and flexibility, but you have nothing to fall back on. Probably only half the cells in my maps have an adjustment value entered. A lot of the values are quite surprising to me, adjustments being required in areas I had thought would be fine and vice versa. I had thought I would be drowning in excess fuel at idle, but it turned out we had to add a little to avoid stumbling. I thought the top end would be a little rich, but in fact we had to trim fuel in the 80~100% throttle range by up to 50%. :astonished:

Working with the headphones is amazing. I always enjoyed tuning racing motorcycle engines because they give so much feedback. Induction and exhaust noise give away a lot about the mixture and ignition settings, so it’s much harder working with street cars that are so muffled and insulated. With the 'phones on it’s like working with a bike again. Too bad they make the engine (any engine) sound like a worn out old tractor. :s :laughing:

Hmm. I just figured out from a Subaru forum that the approach of tuning fuel via fudging the airflow signal has some side-effects. Apparently the ignition advancer is also referenced to the airflow table in an effort to modulate timing against load. Of course this works like the old diaphragm on distributor system. More load = less vacuum and since more load will require some ignition retard, more load should = less advance. What I’ve been doing in my maps is trying to add fuel in some areas and trim in others.
The emanage can add fuel via two methods. One is increasing the MAP signal voltage to emulate less vacuum (higher load), the other is directly adding pulse width to the injectors, bypassing the ECU altogether. The first method will affect the ECU’s final ignition advance, the latter will not. So far I’ve been using a mixture of both methods to hit my AFR targets, when I think I should have stuck to only adding fuel via the additional injection map… I think I’ll finish running the engine in before I go back and redo the maps.

My mechanic finally dragged in an emanage expert to help diagnose the transmission warning light. After checking all my wiring and pronouncing it correct he went and declared my MAP sensor to be too weak to signal both the emanage and the TCU. Remedy? A Greddy 2bar MAP sensor added to the system, at a cost of another 6k! :raspberry:
But, although it got rid of the warning lights, there were side effects. First, the new MAP sensor has a wider range than the factory unit, and thus less resolution. The idle quality went to hell and so did the tip-in response. Second, removing the factory sensor input from the emanage meant the airflow adjustment map no longer functioned, and we were way rich at high rpm/load again. :frowning:
As a last-ditch attempt our expert dug into my jumper and switch settings. Now we find out that the manufacturers manuals are in fact all fucking wrong and with a change of a setting or two all the problems disappeared. In theory the current settings shouldn’t work, but they do… and finding this fixed all the problems at one stroke, and saved me six grand. :sunglasses:

My clearance problems have been resolved, though not in the way I hoped. I left my guy with instructions to lower the engine to get clearance from the hood, massaging the crossmember as necessary. Of course he felt it was much easier to bend the tab on the steering pump reservoir and grind the bolt down instead. :unamused:
The rubbing I had at full lock turned out to be one of the splash guards in the wheel well. It must have gotten a little bent at some point, probably while refitting the powertrain from underneath.

Now I finally have most of the break-in out of the way with 1,000km on the trip odo now. :sunglasses:
It kicks ass, and uses no more fuel than before the swap. :smiley:
Here’s a few photos of the engine bay. Not much clue in there that anything is different from factory. :whistle:

Now to get my first oil change, realign the front suspension, redo the fuel/timing maps, drag my old engine home etc. etc.

Congrats with the bigger knockers.

Looked nice and well done on the pictures, looking forward to a 100km/h mountain road test ride on the next forumosa camping trip. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well Done Dude!..excellent write up!, after driving my father’s new Infiniti G35 coupe(manual tranny, 300hp), i’m hooked on good old torque!..I can’t even look at my sludge of a VTEC Accord!..and to make matters worse, the damn battery was dead upon my return from a 2 week trip to Canada!..Not normal for a 9 month old car!..Cheers