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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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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If there is one thing to remember about the Redline Rebuild garage, it’s that there is never a shortage of things to do. That means that even when one project stalls, Davin isn’t left sitting around twiddling his thumbs. For instance, the EJ205 out of the Subaru WRX is waiting on parts and research, so this week the attention shifts to the Ford dirt track race car.

First, a brief update on the Subaru. The current hangup is simply parts are still enroute somewhere, including the oil pump, pickup, and pan. During Davin’s reading and research, he discovered there are a lot of people who “upgrade” the oil pump by switching to a higher-volume pump, which is especially interesting considering that one of the main flaws Davin has discovered with the EJ205 is that the engine starves for oil at sustained high RPM due to limited drainback. All the oil ends up in the heads and starves the pump. No oil in the pan means no oil to pump. Is a bigger pump really an upgrade then? Seems to make the problem worse. More research is required.

What doesn’t need research at the moment is the Ford race car. We haven’t highlighted it much, but there has been slow and steady progress, thanks to Davin’s humble helper Jeff. The Ford now holds its own weight after significant rebuilding and redesigning of the suspension. The rear leaf spring setup was fairly straightforward, but the front required significant re-fabrication to make it not only straight but not a binding mess. This could be chalked up to a mix of two things: advancements in suspension movement understanding and also the materials used. The “hairpins” that locate the front axle are actually from the rear suspension of a different Ford and were pretty kinked up. Just bringing those back into shape was a big step forward.

Of course, there are a smattering of other improvements and small touches that bring the car closer and closer to being blown back apart for paint and final finishes. Before that happens for the Ford, the Subaru will have to come together. To keep tabs on both projects 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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Last week Davin was able to disassemble our 300,000-mile 2002 Subaru EJ205 engine. Did he do it the right way? Maybe not. Did it come apart? Yes, it did. However, after going through all the work and talking to some local Subaru guys, we learned a few things worth sharing.

First major Subaru engine-disassembly lesson learned: There are plugs in the block that, once removed, allow the wrist pins to slide out. That means the pistons can stay in the bores while the connecting rods and crank come out together. Subaru aficionados know this one already, but Davin dives headlong into the disassembly and manages to get the job done regardless. Next up, an inspection of the bores and pistons shows that a bit of honing should clean everything up and the piston’s skirts look only slightly burnished, so they could be fine to reuse once they get a new ring pack.

While inspecting the bottom end of the high-mileage mill, Davin finds bearings that are on their last legs. It turns out that the disassembly and rebuild may have come at just the right time before any catastrophic damage was done to the crank’s bearing surfaces. To make sure that the future bearings lead a long, happy life, Davin plans to install an STI oil pump. That means more volume gets pumped out of the sump and up to the heads—but making sure that oil gets back to the sump is important as well.

After a quick look at the heads and valvetrain, Davin is ready to get started on the clean-up process, so it’s time for the parts washer and vapor hone. Before long, things will be coming back together and we’ll have another update coming your way soon!

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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We’ve had our fun with this 300,000-mile Subaru WRX. Now it’s time to get down to business and tear it apart. Davin’s never touched a Subaru before, but how hard can it possibly be? Unscrew a few bolts there, cut a couple of zip ties here, and maybe break out a hammer and chisel and it should fall apart … right?

This 2002 Impreza’s 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four engine is a touch different from the V-8s Davin’s used to dealing with, but that’s a minor setback. “I’m gonna start somewhere, and I’m gonna finish … with just a block … somewhere,” says Davin. (That’s the universal engine tear-down process, by the way. No flaws found.)

First up, Davin has to remove all of the accessory pieces, starting with the power steering pump. Quickly, he realizes how cumbersome this tear-down will be, given the amount of zip-ties and hose clamps he’ll have to work his way through. After removing the wiring harness and making a quick fish joke, (we’re sure that bass you caught was roughly that size, pal) the intake manifold comes off without much fuss. Good news! The intake ports are nice and clean.

With the aftermarket crank pulley removed, (at least 10 horsepower) the timing belt cover is up next. Bolts immediately start stripping in protest, and Davin has to resort to … persuasive methods to get the belt cover off. (Be sure to note the Rock Auto tip of the day here; it may come in handy when you’re dealing with ornery fasteners!)

Next up are the turbocharged and one of the coolant passages across the top of the head. Those come off easy, but after Davin flips the engine over and begins to pick away at the exhaust, rust and rotted fasteners fight back once again. nothing a chisel and a pry-bar can’t fix! “Might not be pretty, but I win every time here,” he jokes.

Peering into the exhaust ports, Davin notices a few issues with carbon buildup and oil leaking through the valve guides. With the oil pan removed (those keeping score at home, that’s Davin, 5, Subaru, 0), it’s time to really get into the internals of this motor. Thankfully, nothing puts up much of a fuss, and within no time, Davin ends up right where he said he would: A block (split in two), a bunch of parts, a few casualties, and quite a bit of sand—wonder how that got there? (Last episode should give you a clue.)

Stay tuned next week as parts head to the washer, then to their necessary shops, and Davin and team begin to bring this Subaru flat-four back to life.

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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Is the hood on the WRX supposed to be quick release? No, but that doesn’t stop it from flying off as Davin hucks around the blue Subie. By the end of the day, of course, the engine will be separated from the car, since the boxer four is due for the full Redline Rebuild treatment. Will it come out easily or prove itself a real pain?

This WRX wagon must have lived a storied life before Davin plucked it out of the CoPart salvage yard last week. With some luck and brute force, he is able to get the car running and driving, which tells him that, though the engine doesn’t need life support, it is hardly the picture of mechanical health. Once the car is up on the lift, however, the engine becomes the least of his worries: Entire sections of the subframe are completely rotted away.

On a WRX, the engine must be extracted from the bottom, which means Davin makes liberal use of the lift before setting the whole front end of the car on one of his worktables and unbolting the final fasteners. The body lifts right off the engine and transmission before those two are divorced and the engine finally reaches an engine stand. Now the real disassembly of the grimy engine can begin. Davin manages to keep all his knuckles unscathed getting the engine out, but will he get it all the way apart without some minor injuries? Maybe, but you’ll have to watch next week’s Redline update to find out. Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update or time lapse.

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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Even with the headaches that it brought, you could tell Davin had a real soft spot in his heart for the Chevrolet 283 small block that just got wrapped up. With that little Chevy running smooth it’s time to hook up the trailer and bring in something new..ish.  As much as Davin loves what he knows and has done before, this project is going to stretch him just a bit, and from the first moment he saw the blue Subaru it was a learning experience. Out with the old and in with the new?

This 2002 Subaru WRX is a quintessential midwestern car. The clear coat is flaking off, the interior smells like a sad air freshener factory, and the rust is working overtime to turn the steel body panels to Swiss cheese. Davin thought picking up the project would be the easiest step, but the car had other ideas. Upon arriving at the CoPart facility outside Detroit, Michigan, the team finds out that this trip turned from a quick drive to a crash course in stealing a car.

Well, Davin isn’t actually stealing the car. We did pay for it. After handing a check over there were no keys to be found. Who gives a car to auction without keys? Not sure, but we bought their car and will probably learn a lot more about them as Davin dives further into the project. With no tools in the trailer, it was a small flathead screwdriver and large pipe wrench that saved the day by disassembling the steering column and breaking away the steering wheel lock to allow the tired tuner to be winched backward into the trailer.

Once home the hotwiring continues and when combined with a push start, the little blue Subie putters right to life. The turbocharger even still makes boost and scoots the car along pretty well. Davin thinks it could do better though. If you want to see what he’s got up his sleeve for this flat-four, be sure to 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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