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Opinions about a Project 94 4runner with bad head gasket

Discussion in '2nd Gen 4Runners (1990-1995)' started by TooManyWrenches, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Sep 12, 2020 at 6:23 PM
    #1
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    I got a 94 5speed 3.0 3vze runner as a project. I know that long threads are bad, so I'll be brief as possible.
    The body is Okay for a beater, a few dents, needs one taillight lens. No rust (in in AZ).
    The chassis seems fine, again no rust, but I haven't done a real inspection or shakedown.
    The interior is marginal. the front seats need covers, the carpet is old but still intact. everything works that I know of. the sunroof glass is cracked.
    It has 239000 miles, and the engine appears to need a head gasket or 2. The previous, previous (2 before me) owner tried to fix it with sealant goo, but it still billows smoke. In the process wrecked the brand new radiator he installed - I can see goo in the cooling tubes.
    The previous owner bought it as a project, and bought a head gasket kit from NAPA. Its the evergreen kit with gaskets and head bolts that is sold on Amazon. I *think* the head gaskets are a couple layers of steel and graphite material. He started the job, then got scared and put the intake back on and sold it cheep. That's where it stands today.

    I would like to get this truck running. Its starts, runs, drives, but blows smoke something fierce out the tailpipe. Actually sounds ok running, but I have not run it much, just enough to move it around the yard. (i had it towed home - the driver remembered the truck from the previous previous owner).

    I have the skills and tools to fix the head gaskets, or pull the engine - either way I know its work that needs to be done.

    I would rather not spend much on this truck, as neither the interior or exterior is worth fixing up. But I could definitely use it as a weekend toy, we have plenty of off roading where I live. Right now thats its intended usage.

    It needs a timing belt per the sticker that shows its last belt 75k miles ago. It will need a radiator as its filled with goo. I imagine I need to replace the heater core too. And a coolant flush. Maybe head work, I'll see what they look like.

    So my questions to those who have been here before:
    Should I chance the Evergreen head gaskets or get something else?
    If the heads are warped/cracked/burnt, should I buy the ebay replacements or try to rehab the old ones, or get a set of junkyard heads and rebuild them?
    How much more work is it to pull the engine vs pulling the heads?
    If I pull the engine, I figure I might as well tear it down and re-ring it at a minimum. A quick polish on the crank and new bearings, after a thorough clean of the block would go a long way in my mind. But the question is: is it worth the time?
    I figure the parts list is:
    correct (better?) head gaskets
    timing belt
    water pump
    pulleys
    t-stat
    radiator
    heater core
    misc hoses
    plugs
    header wrap for the crossover pipe
    knock sensor pigtail
    oil/filter
    new heads (maybe)

    Without heads thats easy $500, with new ebay heads another 650. If I can get away with new valves and hand flattening/polishing the mating surfaces I'll do that.

    Since I don't have any attachment to this truck yet, I can go different directions. Whats your opinion and what am I missing?
     
  2. Sep 12, 2020 at 6:25 PM
    #2
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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  3. Sep 13, 2020 at 7:48 AM
    #3
    Oldtoyotaguy

    Oldtoyotaguy Not a new member

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    It looks great from the photos. Trucks like that are rare in Canada, rust never sleeps up here. It’s definitely a cool vintage. If it was me, I’d switch engines. These are not rare trucks, and you should be able to find a good engine if you scout out the wrecking yards. Maybe a rad shop can clean the clogged rad and heater core. Maybe you could replace some of the damaged interior with used parts too. I’m a firm believer in used parts, if they are available. Just watch your bottom line, and keep it realistic and you’ll be fine. It’ll sell easily when you decide to move on.
     
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  4. Sep 13, 2020 at 1:48 PM
    #4
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    So I have one vote to pull the engine and rebuild/replace?
     
  5. Sep 16, 2020 at 5:03 PM
    #5
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    Well, I got the heads pulled - bad head gasket and nothing else that I can find. Weird part is there is a bunch of oil in the valley of the block. No idea how it got there, there doesn't appear to be a obvious leak path fron the valve covers. Not that bad of a job, just a few curses about engineers and "who thought that was a good idea?". Anyways, all it needs is the heads resurfaced, and I can do that by hand with a flat block. From the looks of the cam bearing surfaces, I won't need to bore or grind the crank bearings. the block is super filthy, so I'm gonna pull it and get it hot tanked. Then I'll cross hatch it myself, polish the crank by hand and replace the bearings. Is there any way to rehab the cams? They are not bad enough to replace, but they could use a polish on the journals.
     
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  6. Sep 17, 2020 at 2:30 PM
    #6
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    Looked more closely, and two pistons have damage to the tops, so definitely have to rebuild this. Also found some interesting casting lines? in the valley, they could be cracks, so maybe this gets a 3.4 swap. I'm part way to pulling the block. Its never easy is it?
     
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  7. Sep 17, 2020 at 3:40 PM
    #7
    Oldtoyotaguy

    Oldtoyotaguy Not a new member

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    Usually the clincher for me has been access to a good/great donor engine. It’s been awhile, but the last time I swapped a motor I put one in from a wreck that only had 8000 miles on it.
     
  8. Sep 17, 2020 at 5:35 PM
    #8
    3.slow

    3.slow New Member

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    Post some pics of the cylinders and heads. Really strange that there is damage to the top of the piston as the 3vze is a non-interference motor...

    I am in the same boat, but my engine is worse because the wrist pins seized. I have looked around for junkyard engines, those are $1000-$1200 in questionable condition... Or ebay has some lower mile engines for $1600... I chose to do a full rebuild of the engine. Even if I get a used engine, I would be replacing the water pump, timing belt, head gaskets so the cost will be easily close to 2k.

    The plan for my engine is to get the block hot tanked, honed and decked. Used heads which will be decked as well. Master rebuild kit with MLS headgaskets and ARP head studs, that will probably be close to 2k as well, BUT I will have essentially a brand new engine which shouldn't need any major maintenance until its time to do the timing belt again...
     
  9. Sep 19, 2020 at 7:55 PM
    #9
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    It looks like part of the head gasket blew off. The fire ring then bounced around in the chamber, and that happened in 2 cylinders.
    Block went to the machine shop for a hot tank and mag check. Today I power washed the engine bay and heads and then started on hand surfacing the heads. By hand I have just barely .003" of wave on the head surface after sanding down all the pits. Thats just in spec, hopefully good enough. I'd like to spend only $1000 on this motor rebuild, and head surfacing would eat up a bunch of that budget. The hot tank and magnaflux check is a little over $100 around these parts.
     
    Oldtoyotaguy likes this.
  10. Sep 20, 2020 at 1:27 PM
    #10
    bthp223

    bthp223 New Member

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    Your 4Runner looks pretty good from the outside. I’m just curious if it’s 4 wheel drive and does everything work electrically ? Such as door locks, windows, rear window, all lights, cruise control etc ?

    I’d think it’s worth the work if so. If it’s 2 wheel drive with more than the engine issue wise then keeping it for a daily driver makes sense. If your going to resell for a profit I’m not sure. Did you test everything before diving in ?


    Either way should be a good running vehicle when your done.
     
  11. Sep 20, 2020 at 4:16 PM
    #11
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    [​IMG]
    IMG-20200920-145632535-HDR_02d58f41ab30aee68aaea67e114981709257eb6a.jpg

    First photo is top of the piston where the broken off fire ring was slammed a few times.
    Second shows the divot in the head, and thats after I took a couple thou off the deck by hand. I'll just file the divot smooth to eliminate stress risers,
     
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  12. Sep 20, 2020 at 8:31 PM
    #12
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    So I towed it home when I bought it, so I don't know how it drives. most things seem to work. Enve the sunroof motor works, but the glass is broken. Its 4x4, and it seems to engage. Nope I ddin't test everything before diving in, just took the plunge.
    The block is at the machine shop, they start working on it tomorrow hopefully. If the block checks out, as in no cracks, I'll do a budget rebuild.
    So far I know it needs all new valves, a couple pistons, gasket set at minimun. So Ill be looking at a full kit with pistons, bearings, gaskets, timing belt, pulleys.....the whole 9 yards. My goal is to be able to do this for around $1000. If it needs more than $1000 it makes more sense to do the 3.4 swap using a JDM engine for $1500 and a swap kit for $500.
    My ultimate goal is to make this a decent winter warrior (it snows here at 7000'), and off road trekker that can get beat up for 100k miles.
     
  13. Sep 22, 2020 at 10:11 AM
    #13
    3.slow

    3.slow New Member

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    Can you let me know how much the machine work will run you? My block will need to be hot tanked and honed...
     
  14. Sep 22, 2020 at 10:28 AM
    #14
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    I'm picking up the block today, so I don't have the total yet, but it is estimated at about $125. I've been doing the calculations, and its not really a "cheap" engine to rebuild. Its nearly better to find a $1700 JDM pull off of ebay. Kinda tossup on which is better to do.
    I will say that pulling the engine takes 3 hours more than pulling the heads. Once you are looking at the short block in the truck, its pretty easy to access the engine bolts, remove the starter and the AC, then pull four bolts on the engine mounts and the engine pulls right out. going back, I'll install the heads and crossover on the engine stand. Compared to the last eninge I did (92 Trooper), this is a cake walk. But its was a littler tougher than the 73 C10 350 I just replaced last year.
     
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  15. Sep 22, 2020 at 11:39 AM
    #15
    3.slow

    3.slow New Member

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    Hmmm... I just called few machine shops around and they quoted me between $400-$800 for hot tank, hone and checking of rods, crank, etc... Heads are gonna be around $400 and master rebuilt kit is another $400. I think I am going to go with a junkyard engine for $1300 and call it a day... I think at the end of the day it will be cheaper...
     
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  16. Sep 25, 2020 at 2:11 PM
    #16
    atgparker

    atgparker Cal Poly, ETME 1988

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    Rebuilt Engine MLS and ARP on the heads, DT Header, 2-1/2" CARB compliant Flow-Master CAT with 2.0" Bosal CAT back Dayco 1-1/4" Spacers, SkyJacker M-Series Monotube Shocks, Ball Joint Spacers. 95-9006 K&N Air Cleaner, G-Plus Alum Radiator, ZIrgo 16" Fan, Derale Temp switch/relay
    3.slow,
    I did all this two years ago (at 235k) and my 3.0 block was bored & decked for MLS and I had the crank turned and the conn rods set with new bearings and hung in the new pistons. It was sent to the shop all apart as block and a crank and a set rods with no pistons on them. Three of the wrist pins had seized and galled the pistons in those bores. I picked it up that way with only the rods hung in the new pistons. The total was $1,000 for machine work and parts which were DNG-pistons and new rings and bearings. I replaced the exhaust valves they cost $27 dollar on ebay. I hand lapped the intake valves and seated the exhaust the same way and hand lapped the heads to a mirror finish and dressed the blocks decks the same way. So no need for head machining. I replaced the valve guide seals then I port matched everything with my die grinder. Cleaned up the heads, intake and plenum and got an MLS, ARP head gasket kit from LC-Eng $250ish. All total including miscellaneous sealants and cleaners it was less than $1,500.

    The best thing you can do to the 3VZ-E is put headers on it and get that crappy OEM exhaust the hell off that engine. When you look backwards into the exhaust manifold were cylinder #6 enters it you can immediately see why it is the cylinder that more often than not has a problem. On mine the spark plugs insulator had disintegrated and peppered the piston and head which took some cleaver ball peen hammering to smooth out. If you don't have to get it smogged you can get an eBay set of headers for $250. The 3VZ-E likes to rev but the OEM exhaust is tuned for torque and really stifles the performance over 3500 RPM. I have come to find that with my modifications the roll on from 3500 to 5500 RPM is a whole other dimension with DT long tube headers mated to 2-1/2" exhaust along with a highly modified K&N FIPK. Yea everyone can still beat me but there is enough power to pass people and the gas mileage I'm getting is 12 MPG on average when I have my foot in it which is most of the time. If I can get it on a freeway for a tank full it will get 16 MPG. But I have to admit the OBD-II 3.4 may very well do a heck of a lot better at 7000 feet in elevation than will ever a 3VZ-E OBD-I!... Volumetric efficiency is what is needed to tackle lower air pressure that you get with elevation. The 3.4 with its 24 valves will take the cake everytime over the 12 valves in the 3VZ-E.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  17. Sep 26, 2020 at 12:24 PM
    #17
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    So Hot tank and Mag check was only $80. I decided early on that machine work was not going happen for my budget build.
    I have hand deglazed the cylinders. Free tool loan from O'rieleys.
    I hand decked the block. Numerous pits, a couple filled with jb weld, and sanded with 60 and 150grit paper under the drill press table (good tip atgparker).
    I measured the crank, rod bearings and journals, and nothing matched what the FSM and Clymers books spec'd out, nothing. Since there were no issues, I cleaned up the journals with 0000 steel wool, sanded the seal groove down, cleaned the bearing surfaces, and re-installed the crank.
    Just waiting on new rings, valves and lower gasket set. I found a guy parting out a 95 and I'll be pulling lots of parts from his project. Projecting only $1000 for the budget re-ring, and misc repairs to get it running and driving, and looking ok.
     
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  18. Sep 29, 2020 at 1:32 PM
    #18
    atgparker

    atgparker Cal Poly, ETME 1988

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    Rebuilt Engine MLS and ARP on the heads, DT Header, 2-1/2" CARB compliant Flow-Master CAT with 2.0" Bosal CAT back Dayco 1-1/4" Spacers, SkyJacker M-Series Monotube Shocks, Ball Joint Spacers. 95-9006 K&N Air Cleaner, G-Plus Alum Radiator, ZIrgo 16" Fan, Derale Temp switch/relay
    Sounds like some very good progress. So I used the drill press tool rest and sprayed it with 3m adhesive and set the wet/dry emery paper on the glue. To lap the block's decks I used a very elongated figure eight motion and flooded the surface with WD-40 The iron takes more effort and I used three different grits to bring the surface to a consistent finish. You will see how the in between cylinder areas of the decks surface are lower than the outer edges of the deck were there is a lot more surface area to cut. I figured that the machining operation used to fly cut the surface tends to dip down into the in between cylinder areas of the decks surface because the deflection of the fly cutter is relaxed when it is passing over the open areas were the pistons reside and it can spring downward into the web between the cylinders and remove more material as the cutting operation is programmed to move across the block.

    So, re-ringing the pistons sounds like the plan. Just make sure the wrist pins are rotating freely in those semi-floating pistons, three of mine were buggered! I liked the look of the OEM toyota pistons but had to settle for the DNG pistons which are very similar but just small little details that are different from the OEM ones.
     
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  19. Oct 15, 2020 at 11:23 AM
    #19
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    Well, got her running!
    The addition of headers was a big chore, but the Ebay units worked ok. The EGR and PAIR ports were so far off that this truck is now egr deleted. The Exhaust kit was also too long, so in order to keep the CatConv, I had to chop a bunch of the stainless tubing. I wrapped the headers in fiberglass. Some custom hammering involved.
    In the end the motor needed:
    New valves - I lapped the seats and ground the stems to fit, only one seems to be tapping (never perfect is it?)
    New rings - I honed the cylinders with the free tool from O'Rieleys.
    New gaskets all around - the truck came with an upper end set, I bought the lower end kit from Rockauto.
    sparkerlators, at 1.50 each
    misc hoses, bolts, JB weld, added ground wires, etc
    Air filter, oil filter, oil, lots of solvent and elbow grease.
    I drove it all of 3/4 mile, but the temps and pressures look good.
    So quick assessment of the issues: the passenger window is not working, a few lights don't work, 1st gear is a bit sticky shifting into. Missing windshield washer pump and resiviour. rear wiper motor not working.
    I plan on changing diff and bruce jenner and brake fluids, new springs in the back, floor mats and steering wheel wrap. Goota fix the dent in the fender as it is affecting the light aim. Gotta get this all done soon, I have to go back to work on the 26th (landed the gov't job!).
     
  20. Oct 15, 2020 at 2:12 PM
    #20
    atgparker

    atgparker Cal Poly, ETME 1988

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    I would seriously make up a test pipe to replace the CAT you will notice better throttle response and effortless speed being maintained while cruising. I know my 1991 has but one O2 sensor so it doesn't know if it has a CAT or not. Did you remove the EGR pipe from the plenum that sucker looks to be a nice air flow restrictor when it is left in there? LC-Engineering supplies a couple of resistors to fake out the ECM into thinking the temp probe is still working for the EGR system. Otherwise you might get a check engine light triggered.

    I put the DayStar 1.5" thick urethane coil spring spacers on top of my OEM springs ($40). It still rides nice as the 1991 spring rate was softened after the 1990 model year. This puts the ride height at almost half way along the M95 shocks total travel which is ideal.

    As for the trans being difficult you might look at the hydraulics on the clutch. I find I have to bury my clutch pedal when I want to get it into reverse without everything making a lot of noise and I am fairly sure my slave cylinder is about done as it is original and has probably not been bleed on a regular interval over these last several decades. Marlin Crawler has a deal going on with ASIAN OEM masters and slaves right now so that might be a fix?

    Get some contact cleaner and see if its is the switches that are not making a good conductive connection for the window motors?

    Russel 639560 speed bleeders work a charm in getting the old fluid and air bubbles out of the brakes. Makes this a one-man affair all the time! Buy 3X sets of 2 each so you can equip the biasing valve above the rear axle and I have yet to see if my 6th bleeder will work on the clutch slave as it is a bugger to get at. I fear the bleeder is a different threaded fitting but we shall see eventually.
     
  21. Oct 15, 2020 at 5:58 PM
    #21
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    Well, engine lasted about 1 mile before blowing white smoke from the tailpipe. Dunno if the head gasket blew or if the head is cracked. I'll have to pull it apart again to see. Should go a lot faster now that I know what I'm doing.
     
  22. Oct 16, 2020 at 10:50 AM
    #22
    atgparker

    atgparker Cal Poly, ETME 1988

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    When you get the heads off pour gasoline into the depressions that surround the valves. The one that leaks down quickley may indicate were the crack in the head is located if it isn't visible.
     
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  23. Oct 16, 2020 at 2:37 PM
    #23
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    Hold on! I disconnected the exhaust to determine which bank was bad, cuz you know, diagnostics. Low an behold, no smoke! So the cat and muffler are probably full of oil and coolant that is burning off. Ran it for a good long time to get it hot and nothing, no smoke.
    While I know that the cat can rob power, I like clean air here in the mountains, so I'll see if it all burns out, and if not I'll pay the 150 bucks for a new one. Just need to get a new timing light, mine died just as it hit the concrete garage floor.
     
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  24. Oct 16, 2020 at 4:00 PM
    #24
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    So first few miles are promising. Have an erratic idle speed. And that damn ticking valve. But the A/C works, the cruise control works. With the idle speed lowered the shifter is easier to work too. I just turned the idle speed adjustment screw, which probably is the wrong thing to do to set the idle, I'll have to review.
     
  25. Oct 17, 2020 at 4:17 AM
    #25
    Trekker

    Trekker New Member

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    Two votes to replace the engine. Its not an engine worth saving, they are notorious for blowing head gaskets. It also gives you the draw backs of a large engine (heavy fuel consumption) while remaining underpowered and slow. I think I've heard of people dropping in a 5vz-FE which is a much better engine found in the 3rd generation 4runners.

    Edit: Read you solved some issues with the smoke. Keep it for now. If the problems turn out minor, then just keep it until it gives you more serious issues. That engine can be very temperamental, not one of Toyota's finer engines.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  26. Oct 17, 2020 at 6:53 PM
    #26
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    I have 30 miles on the engine now. I think I will have to adjust the ticking valve, but otherwise its doing fine. I have a new cat, cv axle coming from rockauto. I now need to get the ADD to work. I put feelers out for a set of manual hubs and I'll do the ADD delete.
     
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  27. Oct 18, 2020 at 1:45 PM
    #27
    trlhiker

    trlhiker New Member

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    Actually that is the proper thing to do but only do it at warm idle. It should idle around 800 rpm's give or take 50.
     
  28. Oct 18, 2020 at 4:37 PM
    #28
    Oldtoyotaguy

    Oldtoyotaguy Not a new member

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    My hat off to you, TooManyWrenches! You hung in there, where I wouldn’t have, and did it! Way to go about replacing the cat too. Who doesn’t like clean air? I hope your rebuilt engine lasts for years, and is a testament to your new found skill as an engine rebuilder.
     
  29. Oct 18, 2020 at 6:27 PM
    #29
    TooManyWrenches

    TooManyWrenches [OP] New Member

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    I had to borrow a timing light as mine just died. What should have taken 10 minutes took 5 hours today and is still isn't exactly spot on.
    The timing is supposed to be 10 degrees BTC with the jumper in e1/te1, at idle. My distributor runs out of adjustment at the point it needs to be at. Hard to explain, but if I move the rotor one tooth, I run out of adjustment going the other direction. I spend hours pulling the distributor and moving it ever-so-slightly so it would fall in the next tooth, I need like 3 degrees either direction to make it idle at 10 BTC. There must be something I am doing wrong.
    Is there a best timing setting? I know the book says 10 BTDC, but often motors do best with more advance.
     
  30. Oct 19, 2020 at 12:39 AM
    #30
    mousemeat

    mousemeat New Member

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    1997 4 runner limited
    upgraded suspension, large all terrain tires
    good luck with the revised power plant...great truck, BTW
     
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