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(ENGINE) Bringing a RX7 back to life

 

 
 
 
Old 11-27-03, 11:27 AM
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(ENGINE) Bringing a RX7 back to life

My mom had a 1981 RX7 GS. She bought it with just a few miles on it and it now has around 80K miles on it. She quit driving it about 10 years ago adn it sat in the garage for around 7 years and then outside the past 3 years. She passed away two years ago and I have decided to get the car and restore it and keep it for it's sentimental value. I am going Satruday to pick it up from my dad's place and then get started on it sometime next month. The car is in remarkable shape considering it has sat outside for three years (fortunately it has been in the south all it's life). The interior is a little faded and of course it will need to be repainted, new tires, new rubber seals, etc. but the body is rust free as is the undercarriage. Unfortunately it hasn't been started in about 4 or 5 years.

I am an avid antique car restorer so I know the basics about bringing a car back to life after sitting a while (drain oil, drain gas tank, etc, etc, etc) but I know little (read that as NOTHING) about rotary engines so I am a little (or a lot) disadvantaged from that perspective.

What particular things do I need to do to bring the rotary back to life?

Any help is appreciated.

BOB
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Old 11-27-03, 11:44 AM
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Welcome to the board. Sounds like you got the basics down. I'd also consider popping off the top of the carb and have a look in the float bowls. The gas in it may have turned to gum. A rotary runs on the same principles so dont be intimidated by it. Do the ATF/MMO treatment to loosen up the seals.

On a side note. You got a 65 Vair? Cool! I got 2 bathtubs, a 62 and a 64.
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Old 11-27-03, 01:23 PM
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well if that motor isn't completely seized then , get new plugs, wires, octane booster, new battery and a bottle of ATF fluid. pour about 2 tbs(ATF) on each side of the rotor. take the lower plugs out, pour into the hole and look in. as you crank the main pulley to turn the rotors you can pour in more and more till you have poured a total of 12 times. 6x/rotor and 2x/side of the rotor. make sure the car is in a open area and crank that ***** like there aint no tomorrow. The atf wil break the lockup and help start the car. BUT!!! it will smoke like mad as it burns the ATF so leave it on for a long time.
good luck
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Old 11-27-03, 01:24 PM
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btw

sorry to hear about your mom.
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Old 11-27-03, 03:16 PM
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I bought my -SE that had been sitting for 6 years outside.yeah, remove the gas tank may have to replace it.on my car i pulled the plugs and on a hill put it in reverse and let the wieght of the car break it free. thats backwards down the hill,opposite direction the engine turns when running. it worked for me and the engine runs great. is your corvair a "spyder" ???
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Old 11-27-03, 04:44 PM
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Hey,

Welcome to the forum! Restoring the Rx7 is a fun process, and it looks like you're in exactly the same boat I was in 2 years ago when I started restoring mine.
My mum bought mine about 10 years prior, and for about the past 5 it had been sitting under a tarp just siezing itself up. The body was rustless and the interior was perfect, so it was just a set of mechanical issues to be dealt with.

Here, I'll outline some things to think about in restoring that I had to deal with:

1. Don't... DON'T try to start it! If your engine is carbon-locked you can blow a starter or worse. But you probably already know that one
2. First thing, check if the engine IS carbon locked. Do this by turning the main pulley by hand, it should turn pretty easily. Try taking the plugs out to help it turn more easily. If not, awesome, if so, look below and good luck.
3. Okay, so let's assume the engine turns (by hand, we haven't checked anything else yet). So let's change the vitals first. Change all of these before anything:
- Oil (use non-synthetic. This is a holy war on this forum, but suffice it to say, it's safe to stick to non-syn and it's also easier on the wallet) and Oil Filter. Many people on the forum use *only* the Mazda brand oil filter, for various reasons, but it usually doesn't really matter as long as you avoid FRAM like the plague.
- Coolant System Flush and Refill
- Drain the Gas Tank
- Air Filter, Fuel Filter
- Transmission and Rear Differential Fluid. For Tranny, RedLine MT-90 is the absolute BEST you can get. For rear diff, go do the local NAPA/Canadian Tire whatever and get Synthetic 75w90 gear oil. House brand, whatever, it works well.
- Spark Plugs, Plug Wires, Distributor Cap and Rotor (NGK Spark Plugs ONLY!! Accept no substitute! BR8EQs are standard fare)
- You'll need a new battery
4. Okay, so now you need to get the electrical system going. With the new battery in, check the internal car electrical systems (radio etc) and all the lights. Check all your fuses. If you run into electrical problems, there are these things called "fusible links" on the driver's side strut tower. Three of 'em. They're jumper wires that melt like fuses to protect the car and the cause of some major electrical problems.
4. New fuel in the tank and some starter fluid in the carb, and try to start the car now. It'll choke a bit on the old gas, and might take some coaching, but if the engine's not siezed, and the gas and spark are good, you should get at least *something* out of the engine. But since the carb's been sitting for a long time, you probably won't get a good start.
5. Carb rebuild. Talk to Rx7Carl or Sterling, they work together rebuilding carbs for people on the forum, and believe me, yours is gonna need it! After years of sitting, the gas in the carb has gummed up the floats and plugged god-knows-which passages.
6. Your brakes!!! I can't stress this enough. Sitting cars have brake problems. Almost always. It took me $1200 Canadian Pesos worth of brake parts and all my own labour to redo my entire brake system. I couldn't believe how fux0red my brakes were with the body in such awesome condition. Brake parts list:
- Calipers, Pads, Discs, Bearings (inner and outer), Grease Seal, Rubber Hoses, Hardware Kit, Brake Fluid and Brake Cleaner for the front
- Wheel Cylinders, Shoes, Hardware, Chassis Brake Hose for the back
- Possible Master Cylinder
- Possible E-brake Cable
7. If the car hasn't been up on blocks, the suspension is shot. www.racingbeat.com has awesome springs, and for shocks, a good brand that won't break your wallet but *will* give you got performance is KYB. Their GR-2 gas shocks are awesome. Bushings are probably all dried and cracked, so do a search on the forum for polygraphite or polyeurathane (spelling?) bushings.

Places to look for parts:
www.racingbeat.com
www.mazdatrix.com
www.victoriabritish.com - sign up for their seasonly catalogue... it's free and has some better diagrams of some things than the shop manual does!

To Learn About The Rotary Engine:
www.rotaryengineillustrated.com
www.howstuffworks.com - search for rotary engine

And GET A SHOP MANUAL! It's the best 20$ you'll ever spend.

I noticed someone mentioned ATF. Below, I've included quotes from previous posts of mine about the "ATF Treatment" because it's very contraversial, and if done improperly it can potentially do some damage. So take heed, follow my instructions if you need to do it, and good luck to you. It worked for me, but you have to think about it a bit before jumping into it, just like everything else about rebuilding a car.

I still don't advocate using *either* "treatment" unless you have serious compression problems and have nothing to lose short of a rebuild!

Just doing an ATF or MMO "treatment" when your car is running alright just doesn't make sense. The only thing I've used ATF for is unseizing a seized engine. ATF was the only thing that would eat through the carbon-lock short of a rebuild. It was already siezed, I didn't have the experience or money to rebuild it, so I did it.

Either way, the engine is designed for low-octane, high-quality gasoline, mixed with a little oil (from OMP or Premix)... not to have a sudden burst of ATF CRAP blasted down it's barrels...

Grr.. sorry guys, I just get frustrated sometimes. These "treatments" are not things that should be done like oil changes as preventative maintanence... but rather as last-chance ways of getting your compression back without having to pay for a rebuild.

Jon


When my motor was siezed from 4 years of carbon buildup, I used ATF. I don't advocate it's use for anything other than unsiezing engines, since alot of people say it can be not-so-nice to the engine under other conditions. In this case I see you have little choice.

I've never tried MMO but if it does the same things as ATF, you should probably proceed like this:

1. Pull all four plugs
2. Squirt liberal amounts into all four holes and let sit at least an hour. (up to a day if it's really buggered in there)
3. Turn the engine by hand, pushing the top of the main pulley away from you (if you're standing on the driver's side). You can turn back and forth to get it moving, but in the end you want to be turning it this way so that the rotor edge scoops excess MMO and forces it to dribble out the bottom spark plug holes
4. Repeat the process, rotating the motor so that you can soak all the apex seals in MMO.
5. At the end, make sure you do three or more full rotations of the main pulley away from you, so that as much excess MMO and carbon crap as you can get is pushed out the bottom spark plug holes (the more MMO left in the engine, the worse it is for cat-clogging smoke and other not-so-good things).

6. Replace the plugs (make sure they're good and clean and dry before they're reinstalled) and try to start the car.


You'll probably want to have another set of plugs handy because leftover MMO fouls spark plugs pretty bad. Or at least ATF does, I'm not sure about the famous Marvel Mystery Oil.

Good luck guys. Hopefully this will un-carbonize your engine, and get it running again. You might also have to consider the idea that perhaps the low compression leading to siezure is caused by a buggered apex seal. If this is the case, your engine might need a rebuild. I'll caution now that if you get the engine turning, but it's *really* hard to turn and MMO doesn't seem to make it better, *DO NOT* try to start it. A loose apex seal in a cranking engine will score up the sides of the chamber and make it un-rebuildable. I know, my friend Eric just went though this.



And to think, with the amount of ATF I used to unsieze the rotors, I saw one small puff of white smoke, then regular exhaust

I've said it b4 and I'll say it again, IMHO ATF is for unseizing engines, and once they're turning by hand, you turn the rotors towards you to push it out the bottom spark plug holes... that way you don't **** over your cats, or if you're straightpiped, any local area furry animals and neighbors.

I've said it all before in previous posts!

If you're gonna ATF, only do it to unsieze engines
If you're gonna ATF, do it RIGHT, purging as much as possible
If you're gonna ATF, get an extra set of plugs handy
and
If you're gonna ATF, don't try and put it down the carb! That will *guarantee* that it gets into your exhaust manifold! put it in via the spark plug holes, and make sure you're turning the engine so that it comes *out* the same way without getting stuck in your exhaust.

Jon

Restoring a 7 is a gratifying experience, and fun as hell. Use this forum's search functions to get info on anything you need. Feel free to ask questions *if* searching doens't give you some answers. Read posts, even if they're not pertinant to what you're doing or plan to do, you'll learn a hell of a lot. And don't be afraid, this car is unique, and in our cases, very special to us. If you have ANY questions, PM me or e-mail me at [email protected]

Good Luck, and Welcome to the Forum.

Jon

PS: Rx7Carl, Add to FAQ?

Last edited by vipernicus42; 11-27-03 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 11-27-03, 04:50 PM
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wow i guess i did over look a lot

I was only thinking of what may be a very simple place to start(wrong)lol.

good luck and I think you'll be up and running soon.
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Old 11-27-03, 04:58 PM
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Oh yeah,

I forgot to mention that after doing *all* of the above, (except the installation of the springs which I've already bought) costs about 3000$ Canadian. Probably less in American. That's assuming you spend $1200 on brakes alone! Oh.. and yeah that's without the bushings.

3g, not too bad for a 20 year old sports car that you got for free... And with very little modification it can beat the *** off any civic ricer out there on the road, while still sounding and looking stock That's what I'm going for.


If you don't have emissions in your state/province you should go to www.mazspeed.com - facts - Emissions Removal Tutorial
It's written by Rx7Carl and Pratch, and involves removing the rat's nest of vacuum tubes and switches cluttering up the top of your engine to make it easier to track performance-robbing vacuum leaks. Besides, that old rubber's probably brittle and ready to crack anyway.

It also has you remove the air pump and Air Control Valve, which pump air to the Catalytic Converters to help with the cleaning of exhaust. This adds a few small hp, and is pretty much necessary if you remove your cats in favour of a header or straightpipe (both of which result in REMARKABLE performance improvements).

Other performance improving mods:
- Full Exhaust System (available at racingbeat and gives 25% increase in hp over stock)
- Carb modifications, care of Rx7Carl and Sterling, or Paul Yaw (do a search). Or even carb replacement. Racingbeat sells Holleys and Dellortos that improve performance.
- Removing the mechanical fan in favor of an electronic one (again, search). adds 1-3 hp. not much but every bit helps.
- Direct Fire Ignition. DLIDFIS or adding an MSD box.
- Porting and Rebuilding the Engine
- and most drastic: Swapping to a 13b engine from a GSL-SE or Second Gen car. In the second generation they had a turbo 13b called the TII. There's plenty of info on a "TII Swap"... A HUGE, but hugely invasive performance inhancement.

Have fun
Jon
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Old 11-27-03, 06:40 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. After having Thanksgiving dinner here, I hooked up my trailer and went to my dad's to get the car. I just got back with it and have unloaded it in front of the shop. I used my motorized winch to load it on the trailer and it rolled up there with out a problem.

I did notice as I was in the car that a lot of the plastic interior trim was brittle and broke easily and the dash has several cracks that I didn't recall seeing the last time I was looking over the car. How difficult are interior trim pieces to find ?

I will probably pick up all the necessary fluids as well as a new battery tomorrow and then start into it on Saturday. I would like to see if I can get it running by Saturday night.

Thanks again for all the insights - I will keep everyone informed of my progress.

BOB
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Old 11-27-03, 08:18 PM
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Check www.victoriabritish or www.mazdatrix.com for interior pieces for new, and the local boneyard for used. Sometimes you get lucky and score good stuff at the junkyard, I know that I have.
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Old 11-27-03, 09:03 PM
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RX7Carl

Yea I have a 65 Monza coupe. I have owned 20 Corvairs over the past 10 years - I have soft spot for those air cooled cars.
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Old 11-27-03, 09:36 PM
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Jon, nice post. Not up to me on the FAQ, ask Bob (Innitab). But you did an excellent job.

20 vairs? Like Lays potato chips, ya cant have just one huh? 7's are the same way. I got 5 now LOL. Nope no Spyder Mark sorry, although my dad had a 64 Spyder. We still have it.................in pieces.
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Old 11-28-03, 11:08 AM
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Oops, did I say Rx7Carl for the post? I guess I have been thinking about getting that nikki rebuilt for a little too long Another few paychecks... Spring man.. Spring.

Yeah, I'll PM Bob about it.

I plan to put up a website sometime eventually about my restoration, but exams are next week and w/o a computer at home, it's tricky! So I figure, I'll just write as much here as I can to help

Good Luck 65 Corvair, but don't set your sights too soon. I wanted to have mine running in *one summer* and it spanned into two summers and a spring (the upcoming spring I plan to have it ready).....

Then again, I needed to wait a long time for money and knowledge to come to me, I could probably restore one in a month or two now


Jon

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Old 11-28-03, 11:20 AM
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This is great advice and really should be in the FAQ. With any luck, I'll be picking up a 84 GSL next month and it's been sitting for a year or two. I'll have to go back over this when I get it to my house.
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Old 11-28-03, 12:52 PM
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Originally posted by MarkPerez
is your corvair a "spyder" ???
No not this one - this one is a 65 Monza coupe. I have totally restored it from top to bottom adn it is a trailered show car but I have owned a couple of Spyder's in the past - my last one was a 64 Spyder Convertible. As I said earlier, I have a soft spot for Corvairs - maybe it is my desire to pull for the underdog :-)
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Old 07-15-04, 10:01 AM
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My rx has been sitting for probably 8 years and we're bringing it back to life. The engine starts when we spray some of that starter solution with ether in it into the carb, but it won't idle after you stop spraying into the carb. Since this stuff can start the engine for a couple seconds, the carb must be good, right?
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