TLDR: I went on a drive with almost 100 other cars in central CA, it broke, we fixed it with parts, and everyone lived happily ever after.
Some of you may have heard of the Coastal Range Rally put on by the guys of Driving While Awesome. Here is my experience:
I had a great running Rabbit Pickup with a turbo ABA swapped in.
Decided it was a great idea to sign up for a 1000 mile road rally, and swap that turbo motor into a rabbit that has been sitting for roughly five years. Also couldn't start on the motor swap 5 weeks before the Rally, and only working weekends and nights. Also decided that we needed to completely redo the engine harness and intercooler setup. Turned out not be an issue. Engine bay looks pretty awesome, and a lot cleaner than what was in the truck.
(Note this picture is mid swap, and not completely representative of what it really looks like)
The plan was to shake down the car the weekend before the CRR, but disaster stuck on Saturday night. As we were dialing in the boost control, the clutch started slipping when the boost came in. (The new intercooler and exhaust setup was a huge upgrade, apparently. Boost comes in earlier and much harder) Do to the holiday, was not able to get a clutch until Tuesday, 3 days before the start of the rally. Not only that, I was not able to get an better clutch than the one was slipping. So, instead of shakedown miles, I was stuck waiting for parts. And maybe even worse, I had to turn down the boost. Also, of note: We did attempt to clean out the fuel tank as much as possible during our down time, as there was an o ring dropped into the clean side of the in-tank filter. (This will become important later)
Last Tuesday night looked like this:
Day 1 of the rally: Roads were epic, fellow cars on the rally were amazing, and the people were even better. After the last stage of the day, met up with a couple other participants just outside of town. Tossed the keys to Brendan (Sold Over Sticker), to get his feedback on the car. Catastrophe strikes. On startup, the car sounds like a Subaru with giant cam. Brendan broke it, must have turned the key wrong or something. Unable to fix it on on the side of the road, or nurse it down the road, I admit defeat and call a tow truck, and have it dropped of at the hotel, where all the tools are.
My co-driver (and co-builder for the Rabbit) and I start pulling apart the fuel system, as the wideband O2 is showing extremely lean. Cleaning out the fuel pressure regulator and fuel pump did not change anything, but there were signs of black rubber from that troublesome o-ring in the gas tank. With no other options, we pull the intake manifold off and fuel rail with injectors. The injector filters were also black. A short and cold walk to Autozone, we grab some carb cleaner and other supplies. Doing our best Roadkill impression, we clean out the injectors as best we can in the hotel sink. Leaving them to soak overnight, we attempt to enjoy dinner. You may ask where is the fuel filter. Not on the car. Managed not to install one during the motor swap. Not many corners were cut during the swap, but this is the one that got us.
Day 2: Morning comes, we slapped the clean-ish injectors in. The rabbit starts up and idles! And we are only an hour late to meet up for the rally. Once we hit the road, itís obvious that the injectors are still clogged/damaged with the engine misfiring and and no power. We nurse it to the Autozone parking lot to plan our next steps. The upgraded injectors I used for the turbo setup are stock equipment on F150 lightings. Calling all the local parts stores and the Ford dealerships, no one can get injectors until next week. Sweet talking at the autozone got us behind the counter to check what injectors they did have in stock. Only injectors they had more than 3 of were 19lb injectors for a Jeep 4.0. A little small compared to the 44lb injectors that were currently installed. Same story at Napa. Called a megasquirt expert for his opinion. He recommended adding more fuel to the tune, and see how it changes. Added 20% more fuel. The little rabbit drives better, but still very lean. Add another 20% on top of that. Now the engine is happy enough to cruise.
At this point, we feel we can drive it home, but it was not going to survive the rally or even low boost. Started searching on the used market for a proper set of injectors. Found three options, all over an hour east in the greater bakersfield area. Set 1: Sold. Set 2: 80lb injectors, and the closest. Set 3: 48lb injectors, but a different style, and farthest away. The seller for set 2 was the most responsive, so we start heading out to make the deal. In the haste to make the deal, I did not look up the spec sheet. About 20 minutes away, I pull up the datasheet. Disaster. They will not work. In fact, they will most likely burn up the ecu. Canceling that deal, we start heading to injector option 3. Finally able to make good contact with the seller, and he is available. Could not find any info on the injectors being incompatible. Decided it was worth the risk. Made the deal, drove to a local autozone to install the injectors in the parking lot. Fired up tunerstudio and set the GPS to the meetup point at the end of day 2 of the rally.
Did some road tuning on the grapevine, and now the rabbit is fixed. No longer lean, and able to go into boost with a healthy and rich AFR. Ended up showing up right around all the other rally participants were pulling in. During dinner, I won the award for most epic repair, and also won the raffle grand prize, which was a set of Michelin tires. Even though I missed probably the best day of the rally, it wasn't all bad.
Day 3 of the rally: the rabbit drove great, and had no other issues. There was a crazy downhill section filled with tight switchbacks and no one in front of me. The rabbit came all together for me at that point. The difference in the wheelbase and rear suspension from the truck was super apparent. I could use all the tropes about go kart/rails/telepathic, but those don't really explain the experience, and truthfully aren't what this car is. It does have limits, and you can feel them through the steering wheel, brake pedal and weight transfer. After that section, all I could say that the Rabbit is sooo good. And it is.
I have not mentioned the other cars, or drivers. Not enough could be said about how great everyone was, and the awesome the mix of cars. It was like the best cars and coffee, with great roads mixed in for a whole weekend. HushyPushy was on the rally and took pictures, and I am sure there will a thread in the coming week or so. Sold Over Sticker was also on the rally as a traveling co-driver, and I am sure he will add in his thoughts here or in another thread. So I am unapologetic for only having pictures of my broken car, as such better people will handle that.
Oh, and here is one picture of the car fixed and covered in CRR dirt: