Sunday, February 14, 2016

Been Busy Tinkering on the Supra

"Supras In Vegas" is coming again this year, and I plan to have the car ready to go.

It's the 3rd week in September, which gives me about seven months to:

Replace the carpet, install the new stereo and speakers, and put the interior back together. I'll do a good cleaning of the floor under the old carpet, as I'm sure there's a ton of crud under the old carpet. While the front seats are out it will also give me access to the bracket that holds the levers for opening the rear hatch and gas filler door so I can bolt it back to the floor pan. It's currently adrift, and makes it a PITA to use.

Rebuild the front suspension with new KYB strut inserts, top strut mounts, springs that lower the car about 1", rebuilt power steering rack and pinion, new polyurethane bushings, and new rotors/calipers/wheel bearings. The new rotors are the drilled/slotted type, and are supposed to run cooler. One of the things Car and Driver noticed in their long-term test back in 1983 was that the rotors had a tendency to warp, so hopefully 30+ years of advances in rotor metallurgy and brake pad compounds will prevent that from occurring. I'm replacing the OEM rubber brake lines with stainless steel brake lines, and I'll flush and refill the brake system with "DOT 4" brake fluid. While I'm under the car I'll also replace the clutch slave cylinder, replace the OEM rubber clutch hydraulic line with a stainless one, and flush and refill the system with "DOT 4" fluid. The clutch master cylinder was replaced shortly before I bought the car, and the fluid is still "clear", so the master cylinder can stay for now.

Replace the cam drive belt and idler, and the water pump while the front is off the engine. Also replace all the coolant hoses and A/C, alternator drive belts. There's a hose that runs under the intake manifold/air plenum that needs to be replaced on a somewhat regular interval. It's called the "suicide hose", because if it blows, you've got about 60 seconds to shut the engine down before it overheats, usually blowing the head gasket in the process. If all it does is blow the head gasket you can consider yourself lucky. If you keep going, the head will warp, and replacement heads for this engine have been "unobtainium" for some years now.

Replace the rear shocks with new KYB shocks, replace the springs with new ones that lower the car about 3/4", and replace the upper and lower spring mounts (aka "the rubbers"). Also replace the rotors and calipers and OEM brake hoses with stainless steel ones.

And to help matters along, I just returned from Home Depot with some new light fixtures, and a box of bulbs.

I *had* a couple of cheep two-bulb, 48" lights hanging, but when the kids moved out, one of them mysteriously disappeared. I found another one in the garage, but it doesn't have an ON/OFF pull chain, so it will probably go in the scrap pile.

The new lights hanging off to the sides of the car are four-bulb 48" fixtures, and I bought a new 48" high-brightness LED fixture for hanging over the workbench.

The original two-bulb fixtures will be relocated to the rear (toward the big door) of the garage so I can get some light back there.

And of course, I'm back to cleaning the garage (again!) because of all the cruft my wife has "stored" in there.

How come MY stuff is always "junk that should be thrown away", but HER stuff is "Ohhh...we have to keep that!"??

AND finally, we're really going to try and get the Iowa's radio gear on-the-air this coming Wednesday.

I'll take my tablet and post from the ship if we mange to get everybody on the same page to do this.

For those that have asked, here's the original post from when I brought the Supra home:


  1. What year supra? Any pics so far?

    It sounds like you're doing a lot of work and it should be sweet when it's done.

  2. 1985, aka "Mark II".

    The original owner had it for 28 years, and sold it to a woman who bought it for a bribe for her son to:

    Finish high school
    Get his driver's license
    Get a job

    Since none of this came to pass, she sold it to the guy I bought it from who only had it a few weeks. *I* think he bought it to flip, but his story is that his live-in girlfriend came home and saw it in the driveway. She told him "You have two off-road 4WD trucks, a boat and trailer, two motorcylces, and two RHD Honda Civics that look like they came from 'Fast and Furious', and my month-old Accord, the first NEW car I've ever bought, has to park in the street? Something goes, or *I* go!".

    Can't say as I blame her, because after meeting him, he seems like the kind of guy that has tons of stuff, all of it either taken apart, or never finished.

    He was a nice guy, BUT......

    Go back about two years ago here and you'll find a bunch of pix. It was sold in Riverside, CA (desert area) and lived all it's life there. NO RUST on it anywhere, except the battery tray area where battery juice got on stuff.

    One of the things I found in the car was a box full of documents, receipts, and paid bills for all the stuff that the original owner had done to it, from new, up to a couple of years before he sold it.

    Adult owned it's whole life, never been in an accident. It's a true survivor car!

  3. Why the intent to lower the car? You could get the same effect by using lower profile tires.
    No matter what you do, though, there tends to be a future cost when you lower the ride height of a car. Poor ground clearance is the first problem, followed by handling problems due to loss of full suspension travel. That thump when you hit the bottom of travel is stress being applied to the body, and the moving parts.
    Towing the car may become a problem due to lack of clearance for both wheel lift and flatbed types.
    Before you change to Dot5 brake fluid, make damn sure every rubber type component in the system is certified for it. It has the property of causing some materials to swell, which can end up being very expensive when parts stop moving correctly.
    One problem is that one brand of component may say it's ok, but the next time you change it, it may no longer be acceptable.
    Offhand, the only vehicles I'm aware of that specify the use of it are US Mail jeeps, and some off-road bikes.

    It is absolutely incompatible with natural rubber compounds.

    It's neat stuff if you can use it. You can polish your paint with it. But, you won't know if it's a problem until bad things happen.
    There were lots of problems with it back in the 80's, and it developed a bad rep, that it frankly deserved, due to the stupidity of the maker.

  4. Looked at what I had in the garage (new, sealed containers) and I bought DOT 4, so I corrected the brain-fade in the post.

    As far as lowering the car, these cars have a LOT of suspension travel, so dropping them an inch is no big deal. The only problems you start to run into are when you really drop, like 3". Then the rear has so much negative camber that your tires go away in a very short time. They sell kits to give you adjustable camber on the rear, but I'm not dropping it that far.

    I'm going with the 1" drop based on the experiences of dozens of Mark II supra owners who I've known and met over the last couple of years since I bought the car.

    And as far as tires go, I have new rims in 16x8 with the correct offset, and I'll be fitting Toyo Proxes 245/45ZR16 tires. I know several people running this identical wheel/tire combination, and I've seen their cars. It looks great, doesn't rub or bottom out anywhere, and keeps the tire circumference within .5mm of the OEM tires so you don't screw up the gearing and what the speedometer reads.

    ALL of the mods I'm doing to the car are well thought out, and have been done by many people in the Celica Supra community with ZERO ill effects.

  5. All this begs the question: what are you going to do in your spare time? :)

  6. Good luck with the car. The little gremlins DO tend to pop up on a regular basis... Remember, a new alignment is required when you change the geometries. I'd actually do a four wheel alignment and pay extra attention to thrust angles too.


Keep it civil, please....