Enjoy Season 6 stories, opinion, and features from across the car world - Hagerty Media

With each Redline Rebuild timelapse we get a whole host of questions. Some are a little more in depth than others, but most can be answered quickly. So that’s what Davin decided to do this week. The Subaru EJ205 flat-four is now up in its new storage home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t clarify a few little things about the process of how it got there, along with a few updates on the last few projects and where they sit now.

The big questions hanging over the Subaru rebuild are about the machining process and coatings. Davin points out that this engine was not a high-performance build, and thus was not taken to the Nth degree while in the machine shop. Building every engine as if it is going to be tuned within an inch of its life and taking the time to get everything absolutely perfect is only spending money for the sake of spending money. It’s always important to match effort with expected results, and that’s a two-way street.

The second big one is coatings. The Redline Rebuild engines always come out looking gorgeous and stay that way even after multiple heat cycles. Most of that comes from the utilization of Cerakote coatings on a multitude of surfaces, from the exhaust manifolds to the plastic timing belt cover; its a ceramic coating that can flex and maintain shape and color even with heat. Davin has tried it all, and some work pretty good, but Cerakote is the coating that he keeps coming back to.

Now, let’s give some updates on previous projects. These engines are stars for awhile and then just disappear for most of you. Contrary to how it may appear, they don’t get palletized and tucked onto shelves. Some do, but the last few have gone into projects that are being completed and upkept by a separate team at the Hagerty Learning Garage. That space is not always open to the public, but luckily Davin knows who to talk to and can take you on a tour of what’s in progress and what became of a few of his favorite engine projects.

As Davin points out, the next couple updates will be centered around the Ford dirt track racer, and we promise you won’t want to miss them, so be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to stay up to date on the latest projects.

Thank you to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Enjoy Season 6 stories, opinion, and features from across the car world - Hagerty Media

It’s not every day that a clapped-out Subaru WRX EJ205 turbo-charged engine with almost 300,000 miles on it gets a second chance at life. Even rarer is having the entire gritty process recorded in time-lapse. But that’s exactly what we did. Whether you’ve been following along with the build via Redline Updates or this is your first time seeing this project, let’s dive into some of the things you won’t see in this video.

For starters, the rusty body of the well-loved 2002 Subaru WRX hatchback was beyond saving, so it disappeared from the shop after the flat-four powerplant and some associated hardware were unbolted and dropped onto a stack of two-by-fours atop one of the shop workbenches. Once the divorced from the chassis, the engine and transmission were parted, and the engine got bolted to a stand for the real teardown work.

“During the teardown there really wasn’t anything too shocking in terms of wear and tear,” Davin says about the grimy engine. “There were a couple things that made disassembly interestinglike how the piston wrist pins are accessed through ports machined in the block.”

After the teardown, it was off to Thirlby Automotive’s machine shop, where the crankshaft, block, and cylinder heads all received attention. The crankshaft was ground to fit fresh bearings before a final polishing, while the engine block was bored to fit new pistons after a cleaning in the hot tank. The cylinder heads received that same thorough cleaning before being decked for a flat headgasket sealing surface and the valve seats cut to accept new valves.

Fresh from the machine shop, it was time to make some of the parts pretty by having West Michigan Cerakote apply a high-temp coating. Then it was assembly lube time, as the block halves came together to clamp the crankshaft in place, but unfortunately it was clamping a little too well.

“These engine blocks are very difficult to line bore, and there are actually only a few shops in the U.S. that handle that, and unfortunately we didn’t have time to send it out to one of them,” Davin says. “Instead we carefully installed the bearings and also decided to use the stock bolts that clamp the engine block halves together because the ARP ones were actually providing too much clamping pressure and distorting the block, which stopped the crank from being able to rotate.”

With problems like that to solve, who could ever call engine rebuilding boring? Certainly won’t hear that from our team. Luckily, Davin’s solution worked and allowed assembly to progress, as the pistons slid into bores and were capped with the freshened up cylinder heads. The pair of camshafts in each cylinder head are connected by a single timing belt that required a little patience to install even though it was a bare engine on the workbench. Davin even mutters, “I wouldn’t want to do that job with the engine in the car,” after pulling the pin to release the belt tensioner that locked everything into place so that he could spin the engine over with a breaker bar to ensure it was still coming together correctly.

The final assembly was a smattering of vacuum lines and little details that sit atop the engine and under the intercooler. From there the engine hoist was brought back out to transfer the completed engine over to the custom-built run stand. OK, yes it is just an 8-foot pallet with everything bolted down, but that doesn’t make it any less custom. With the battery connected, Davin turned the key and the engine fired right off. Well, it fired off after a little electrical diagnosis and fidgeting. That’s to be expected on an engine like this.

Which leaves one final question you might have: Where is this engine going? Well, we aren’t sure yet, but we’re very much open to suggestions as to what kind of chassis this should find a home in. Leave a comment below with where you’d like to see this turbocharged EJ205 end up, and then be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you don’t miss future updates and projectsincluding where this engine will live.

— Kyle Smith

Thank you to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Davin can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to our little Subaru WRX engine. Every engine is essentially a thousand-piece puzzle in which some pieces are obvious and others are quite tricky. Down to the last few pieces, it’s time for this EJ-series flat four puzzle to not only have all it’s pieces together, but for it to run.

The first steps is right where last week left off. The valve covers need to go on with a fresh gaskets before the engine stand is spun to allow for the assembly of all the intake tract bits. Those valve covers also have the holes for the spark plugs, so a fresh set of plugs go in and the ignition coils snap into place on top of that. While the valve covers were rather intuitive to assemble, the intake tract was not so simple. The complexity of which piece goes on in what order turned this assembly into a 4D puzzle and Davin admits that he got one little piece wrong in the order. We think that’s pretty darn good though.

For those asking where this fine piece of work will be going, the answer is a specially-built test stand. It may look like an eight-foot pallet on top of a work table, but don’t be confused; this is custom stuff. With a crossmember to support the engine, an exhaust left over from the poor blue wagon, and a giant mess of wiring to connect, this is one of the more complicated engines Davin has attempted to run outside of a car. Maybe it will all work perfectly the first try. Maybe it’ll be a nightmare and we will learn why doing a full engine-out re-assembly is fairly rare. No matter what, you’ll see it in the next Redline Rebuild. If you don’t want to miss that, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss a new video.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The Subaru EJ205 has been a headache for Davin and the team, but it’s finally reached the point where it’s a pretty headache. This week it becomes a real handfulliterally.

The front drive of an engine is critical in running all of the accessories we have grown accustomed to. Things like the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering all hinge upon the belts at the front of the engine transferring the rotational motion of the crankshaft and out to these various accessories. With the long block assembled, Davin pivots to putting these components in place and timing everything. First is the water pump, which includes a fun little side quest to repair a stripped thread in the aluminum block. Drill, tap, Helicoil, and it’s good as new.

Then it’s onto installing the timing belt, and while it is a critical piece that has to work correctly the first time or the whole engine has a good chance of becoming scrap metal, the process is actually quite simple. The belt is marked with reference lines that align with marks in the timing cover and on the pulleys themselves. The only struggle came on the left bank, as Davin needed to rotate the cams into position, which required opening valves and thus fighting valve-spring pressure. With the use of a specialty tool for gripping the timing belt pulleys from the inside, the task wasn’t so bad though.

Final step was pulling the pin that releases the tensioner for the belt. That pin might look like a hand grenade, but Davin is confident that this one won’t be exploding anytime soon. With the timing set and the front end of the engine completed, it’s time to call it a dayat least for Davin. You, on the other, should get out in the shop and work on your own projects. Before you go, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss a new Redline Update.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Speeds bumps are no match for Davin and the Redline Rebuild crew as they make progress on the Subaru EJ-series four-cylinder. While setbacks might have plagued the progress thus far, it’s time for parts to come together, and that starts with the cylinder heads becoming one with the short block.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: assembling an engine is so much more than just bolting things together. Evidence of this fact is present in the cylinder heads of this Subaru. The caps that retain the camshafts have specific locations, and Davin was careful to document those during disassembly. However, the person before him wasn’t so careful. This meant that there was an odd binding in the valvetrain. Davin called up someone who has done a lot more of these engines than he has, just to learn that the cam retaining caps had been shuffled at one point. Even on an engine this young, you have to watch for botched work from a previous owner.

With the heads on and the engine upside down, Davin takes the opportunity to install the Cerakoted exhaust along with the oil pan and oil cooler. Those who regularly tune in will likely question the oil cooler, as Davin had announced earlier that he would be eliminating it. After further research, he elected to backtrack on that plan based on information of how hard on oil these engines can be. While it’s an opportunity for leaks to occur, Davin would rather have a leak than a cooked engine because the oil overheated and wiped a bearing or two.

It’s quick progress and a good looking long block. It’s nice to see progress continue, but if you want to see this engine move closer to and then finally run, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update.

Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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In this week’s episode of Redline Update, despite its best efforts to thwart our progress at every turn, our EJ20 Subaru WRX engine gets closer to completion. Davin figured out the issue with the main bearings (long story), so he sets out to get the short block assembled. He only hits one small snag in this episode but quickly remedies the situation with the help of a grinder and a sacrificed pair of needle-nose pliers!

The Subaru is unlike any of the other engines that have crossed the Redline Rebuild engine stand. The crankshaft is captured between the two case halves. Astute viewers are likely pointing out the Volkswagen engine from 2017, but you would only be partially correct. Indeed, the case halves are visually similar, but the Subaru has the crankshaft journals machined in a way that line boring them take special setup and tooling. That special process is not something that is in the cards for this particular engine.

Instead, Davin has mixed and matched from three sets of bearings to get the proper oil clearance across all the crankshaft journals. In addition to that, he is also switching from his initial plan to use ARP bolts to clamp the case halves together and is instead using the factory bolts. The ARP hardware required torque of 65 lb-ft, compared to the factory bolts needing just 35 lb-ft, which is a difference in clamping force that changes how much the block distorts significantly.

With the block halves together, it’s time for pistons. Getting the fresh pistons into the cylinder bores is the simple part, as the piston pins that connect the slugs to the connecting rods have to be inserted and retained through holes machined in the engine block. The No. 3 cylinder is especially annoying, as the depth of the hole requires a special tool to be made in order to install the snap ring that keeps the wrist pin in the piston. Building tools is one of Davin’s favorite hobbies though. See why we love him as our Redline Rebuild engine builder?

This motor should come together quickly with this step done, but not so quickly that it’ll be finished in this episode. To see the final steps and hear it run, you’ll have to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and come back each Monday for your high-octane engine content. In between, be sure to work on your own projects.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Remember being a kid and throwing your toy cars around in the sandbox? We did the grown-up version of that today.

For the latest Redline Update on the Subaru, Davin fires up the forklift and tosses the rusty old wagon body on a trailer for its final ride to the recycler, where the WRX will go to the big car lot in the sky—perhaps to be reincarnated once its steel is repurposed. We do get to have a bit of fun before it actually heads into the smelter: The site’s massive claw picks it up, drops it, punches it down like pizza dough, and folds it into a WRX calzone.

“Now, before everybody gets upset,” Davin says, “this Subaru is not worth saving. Trust me, I know—I save everything.”

With the car crushed and stacked with other rusted-out hulks, the last bits of Subaru are unceremoniously swept away with the help of a huge I-beam. Davin flings in the last rogue WRX part before we send the video off with some more claw’s-eye views of destruction.

Wondering what’s next on the more restorative side of things? Subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and never miss a project.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Davin is a numbers guy. Sure, he could probably build a great engine by feel, but that’s not how he works. With most of the Subaru back from the machine shop, the assembly can finally begin—and that means getting out the precision tools and getting some numbers.

First up is the oil clearance for the main bearings. This process is a little different than most engines that our favorite engine guys work on, since the EJ-series mill is two case halves bolted together that capture the crank in between. This means that all the bearings need to be measured at once rather than individually, like most V-engine designs that have separate caps for each bearing. No problem for Davin. Clamping the block together with new ARP studs is easy and allows checking multiple things, including the alignment of the crankshaft bore since the block will distort ever so slightly due to clamping forces.

From there is it was on pistons and piston rings. Measurements abound again as the rings need to be properly gapped to prevent premature wear as the engine runs and temperature cycles. With the rings gapped and installed, the last step is aligning the gaps so they seal correctly. Unfortunately, these pistons can’t be installed yet as there is just a little longer wait on the proper bottom end bearings. That’s the price of doing it right.

Of course, this is only a break for Davin. You can still go out and make some progress on your project, or at least subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube Channel to never miss an update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Each and every engine has its own character, and sometimes the true nature of that statement is not borne out until Davin plops a bunch of parts on the machine shop bench at Thirlby Automotive. The Subaru EJ four-cylinder is one such example. Each and every piece of this engine has a special type of machining needed, but luckily nothing cracked up the team too badly—well, almost.

The block was the easiest of the group, as it was a fairly simple problem to address. When cutting and honing the cylinders, it required a bit of special care to not push the hone out the bottom of the cylinders. The way the casting is designed there’s an access hole for removing the wrist pins on the pistons, and that leaves a giant gap in the cylinder wall that is happy to catch a tool and ruin your day. The Thirlby team is used to this though and knocks out the block haves in short order.

Then it’s on to the heads, which require a modified drill press to remove the heavily angled and shrouded valves. Before removing the valves, Thirlby did a quick vacuum test to see how bad the valves and valve seats were, and the results were somewhere between good and bad. A few of the exhaust valves were leaky but not so bad as to cause alarm. What did cause alarm were the cracks in the heads. These propagate from the heat of the exhaust valve seat to the spark plug threads and can cause coolant leaks. Luckily, these heads are cracked but not so bad as to actually cause problems. You could call it luck.

Then it’s all just reassembly and precision setup. The process rolls quickly with the right tools and team, making it easy to see why Davin has one machine shop that he frequents with all of his projects. This Subaru should be rolling back into the Redline Garage shortly, and if you want to see how it all goes back together you’re going to want to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you never miss an update.

Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The Subaru EJ205 is proving to have its own roadblocks keeping smooth progress just out of Davin’s reach. It’s not that there isn’t work to do, it’s just that the next step in the process requires some outside help at the machine shop. In the meantime, the blue shell of a car is going to get some attention.

Did we call it a shell of a car? We meant to say hulk of a car. Rust never sleeps, and this chassis was a 24/7 party for the iron oxide. From front to back there is almost more that has disappeared than is left. Frankly the chassis is beyond saving, and thus this becomes a salvage mission for Davin. The goal now is to pull anything that has some value. That starts at the rear of the car with the rear axle and suspension before pivoting to the front in an effort to yank the wiring harness needed to make the engine run. After all, Davin will want to run the engine on a stand to break it in, and that will require having all the appropriate sensors talking to each other.

The pile of parts to save grows a bit, but in the end this car is so crunchy that there isn’t much to save. Even then it always makes sense to save as much as you can because pennies make dollars and project cars get expensive really fast if you aren’t careful. With all the bits that haven’t been attacked by the tinworm on the shop floor, it’s time for the body to become a soda can. The engine is not headed the same direction though, and be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update on the progress.

Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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