LJ78 Build: "The Space Whale" (1 Viewer)

GTSSportCoupe

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Victoria, BC, Canada
@gannex From what I saw in person, and what I'm seeing now, I think your truck has a lot of previous owner incurred problems. It's going to take time/effort/money to work through everything and put the truck back to OEM, never minds start modifying and improving it.

One cardinal rule, is only work on one thing at a time, and then drive the truck for a while before moving onto the next problem. If you do too many things at once, and have a problem, you won't know what job caused the issue.

I'm wondering if your truck is basically running on three cylinders right now. Try loosening one injection line at a time (essentially disabling that cylinder) to hone in on what cylinder is the issue. Be sure to protect yourself from high pressure diesel spray. Wrap the joint in a rag and use a face shield. Maybe this is best left to a mechanic on second thought.

Taking your truck to EBI at this point is a good idea. Fill them in on the history of all the little issues that it has. Ask about the ATEB mechanics and see if they can work on it. They have tons of experience with these motors. John Voo was one of them I think? They were brothers.
 
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Dec 22, 2015
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Whitefish/Bozeman, MT
I don't see such a knob. Could it be the little nut next to the cable for the hood latch here?

View attachment 2519965

I found a random wire not connected to anything. I wonder if this could be related... I will continue to investigate in the morning. What is confusing me is how this could be happened so suddenly. I was driving around this morning!

View attachment 2519966

The throttle knob should be attached to the other end end of this cable, on the bottom edge of the dash to the right of the steering wheel.
20201209_012139.jpg
 
Joined
May 25, 2020
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Vancouver
@gannex Taking your truck to EBI at this point is a good idea. Fill them in on the history of all the little issues that it has. Ask about the ATEB mechanics and see if they can work on it. They have tons of experience with these motors. John Voo was one of them I think? They were brothers.

I took the truck to EBI today. I think @AirheadNut is right that it's some kind of electrical issue related to the fuel system, if anything just because it had such a similar issue before when one of the fuel pump wires was unplugged. But at this point, I've got to get the truck to Calgary ASAP, so I've got to pay for someone with experience. I am just hoping it's nothing too major. We'll see tomorrow.
 
Joined
May 25, 2020
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Vancouver
So I finally made it to Calgary!

The journey was rather harrowing, but I think I made the right decision to leave when I did and beat the snow on the Coquihalla. It was scary enough as it was! To get all my stuff to Calgary, I had to pack every square inch of the space whale, and it turns out my suspension is worn out enough that it couldn't really handle such a load, so I was all but riding on my rear axles. I got past the Coquihalla the day before the snow and I ended up stopping to sleep in Kamloops. Fortunately, I found a hotel with a heated & ventilated garage, so I was able to get started with minimal troubles the next day.

20201212_163133.jpg
20201213_133511.jpg


Needless to say, driving so loaded down with such sag and with ~100 HP was nerve racking.

The throttle knob should be attached to the other end end of this cable, on the bottom edge of the dash to the right of the steering wheel.

ahh I found it. The knob has been removed from mine. Anyways the problem has been solved (at least the idling aspect of the problem (vide infra)).

@gannex From what I saw in person, and what I'm seeing now, I think your truck has a lot of previous owner incurred problems. It's going to take time/effort/money to work through everything and put the truck back to OEM, never minds start modifying and improving it.

One cardinal rule, is only work on one thing at a time, and then drive the truck for a while before moving onto the next problem. If you do too many things at once, and have a problem, you won't know what job caused the issue.

I'm wondering if your truck is basically running on three cylinders right now. Try loosening one injection line at a time (essentially disabling that cylinder) to hone in on what cylinder is the issue. Be sure to protect yourself from high pressure diesel spray. Wrap the joint in a rag and use a face shield. Maybe this is best left to a mechanic on second thought.

Taking your truck to EBI at this point is a good idea. Fill them in on the history of all the little issues that it has. Ask about the ATEB mechanics and see if they can work on it. They have tons of experience with these motors. John Voo was one of them I think? They were brothers.

I ended up taking the truck to EBI. Steve certainly knows what he's talking about when it comes to these vehicles. It turns out the problem was the diesel primer. He was also able to fix my steering play. It turns out it was the panhard bar bushings. All in all, they got the vehicle to the point where I could actually drive it to Calgary, but I've still got quite bad start up issues, probably in large part due to the glowplug.

Steve says he thinks it is starting on 3 cylinders, which I guess makes sense, and explains the diesel fumes coming out the back on startup.

20201217_001838.jpg


On another note, I have finally got the truck to a garage. This was the only reasonably situated, non-basement studio apartment I could find with a private garage (aparently that's quite a tall order in Calgary). The garage is not heated, but the landlord improved the insulation for me, so in principle I could heat it with an area heater occasionally. As you'll see though, the only problem is that the ceiling is pretty small for such a tall vehicle. It has a good 6"+ of clearance from the ceiling, but less than 2" of clearance going through the door, so I won't be able to have a roof rack in the winter. Another consideration I am thinking about is re-doing the suspension. It's certainly not my priority, but I would like to re-do the suspension sometime this year, and I figure it's already sagged, so even without significant lift, I don't think it'll fit through the doorway of my garage. I wonder if there is any kind of adjustable lift I could do, so I could have it ride higher (and maybe on bigger tires) in the summer (when it sits outside), but lower it and put it on smaller snow tires in the winter (when it sits in the garage). I wonder if it would be worth installing air suspension on an LJ78...
20201217_001914.jpg


So the truck is safe and sound now, but as of right now, I am unable to start it up. It starts pretty happily at 15-20C, and it will start at 5C (Vancouver temperatures, this time of year) with a lot of white smoke, but it's been well below frozen here, and even heating up the garage to 0C, and it won't start. I was going to install an oil pan heater, but it turns out the one I bought (250 W) was too large for the tiny 2LTE oil pan, so I've got to return it and get a smaller one (maybe 125 W). I'm thinking of adding an inline engine coolant heater. One thing I'm thinking about, though, is remote cold starting, where I don't have access to a plug. It might be nice to get a diesel fired coolant heater. I'm going to look into that...

I think another part of the problem is that the glowplugs are not coming on for long enough, so I'm also thinking of putting a manual switch on the glowplug relay, as some others here have done. I'm going to make an attempt at finally removing that glowplug sometime in the next couple of days.
 
Joined
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Enjoy the better weather of BC while you can, and hope to see your rig on the streets of Alberta (Calgary?) soon. ;)
Are you driving it in winter, too? With Calgary salt that won't go very well... :-(
You know I could swear I'd seen that beautiful white troopy of yours somewhere before ;- )

20200928_213012(1).jpg
 

GTSSportCoupe

2LTE abuser
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Victoria, BC, Canada
Hey gannex, thanks for the update. Glad EBI was able to help you out in the 'nick' of time and you were able to get to Alberta OK.

Panhard rod bushings eh? Glad they figured that out. I had to do mine a number of years ago too. Heh, I threw a ton of ideas at you, and panhard was one of 'em (albeit the last, lol)

Those fuel filter primers can be terrible at this age for letting air in. Had the same problem with mine also and ended up buying a cheap ebay knockoff replacement. Still working well to this day. It's usually one of my first suggestions for people complaining of air in their fuel system, but I think I may have forgotten to suggest it in your case.

Well, when you get the glow system working again, your truck should be running pretty nice hopefully.

If you're going to drive it this winter, make sure you have 5w40 oil in it.
 
Joined
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Anchorage, AK
I would put a coolant heater above a oil pan heater, especially if you run a good 5w-40. It’s probably harder to warm up -30c oil than it is to keep it warm by plugging in the oil pan heater all the time instead of like 3hrs before driving. Another good cold weather thing to do is to install a trickle charger permanently in the engine compartment. As mentioned above you definitely need to get the glow plug problem resolved. If you do go with a Wilson switch setup be sure to buy a spare glow plug that you can sacrifice so you can hook it up outside the engine and run the switch and time how long it will take to fry the glow plug so you know much it can take and adjust glow time accordingly. I did this but can’t remember how long it was before it broke, I want to say 8 seconds but it is not an issue for me anymore since my “new” engine has a glow screen.
 
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I hope not while running!!

Nope!

I was trying to get the broken glow tip out using this method. I think it almost worked. I was able to drill about 1/2" into the back of the glow tip and I was able to get a number 8 screw to catch, but the hold wasn't strong enough, so I switched up to a number 10 screw and pushed a bit too hard and the tip slid in. I'm going to try to fish it out through the intake.

On another note, someone offered to trade me a 2003 suburu impreza rs 2.5 NA with manual transmission and a pretty clean body for my LS400. I'm thinking your original suggestion to get a backup car for while I'm working on this one is starting to seem like a good idea, plus the little AWD subie is probably a sane beater for Calgary winters.
1995 LS400 with 300 k kms
2003 Suburu Impreza RS 2.5 mnual with 236 k kms
Do you think it's a good trade?
 

GTSSportCoupe

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Nope!

I was trying to get the broken glow tip out using this method. I think it almost worked. I was able to drill about 1/2" into the back of the glow tip and I was able to get a number 8 screw to catch, but the hold wasn't strong enough, so I switched up to a number 10 screw and pushed a bit too hard and the tip slid in. I'm going to try to fish it out through the intake.

On another note, someone offered to trade me a 2003 suburu impreza rs 2.5 NA with manual transmission and a pretty clean body for my LS400. I'm thinking your original suggestion to get a backup car for while I'm working on this one is starting to seem like a good idea, plus the little AWD subie is probably a sane beater for Calgary winters.
1995 LS400 with 300 k kms
2003 Suburu Impreza RS 2.5 mnual with 236 k kms
Do you think it's a good trade?

That sounds like a reasonable trade to me. Maybe just get the Subaru checked out to make sure the headgaskets are ok (they're notorious for those going), and a general check on the rest of it.
 
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OK so I have made a few attempts to get the glowplug tip out without removing the head. I removed the intake manifold and pulled the fuel injector, and I bought a cheap Amazon endoscope; however, unfortunately, the camera is a little too big to fit into the injector hole, so I can't really see what I'm doing. Today, my friend brought over an air compressor and we tried to blast it out. I sealed the intake hole, put a vacuum on the injector hole, and blasted compressed air into the swirl chamber through the glow plug hole. I also tried blasting air in through the intake with one of the two swirl chamber holes sealed. All to no avail.

Looking into the injector hole with my camera (it doesn't quite fit, but I can see part of the swirl chamber), I can see that the hole going from the swirl chamber to the piston is quite large, so it could well have fallen down there. My next idea is to use a very narrow hose on the end of my vacuum and try to feed it through the injector hole and down into the combustion chamber in the hopes that it sucks up the piece. Someone with a TDI golf had success with this method here. If that doesn't work, I'm going to try going in through the intake. I figure I could insert a small the vacuum hose under the valve if the engine was in the right position. @GTSSportCoupe do you know if there's an easy way to manually crank this engine without having to take the radiator out? It seems really difficult to get at the crankshaft bolt.
 

GTSSportCoupe

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OK so I have made a few attempts to get the glowplug tip out without removing the head. I removed the intake manifold and pulled the fuel injector, and I bought a cheap Amazon endoscope; however, unfortunately, the camera is a little too big to fit into the injector hole, so I can't really see what I'm doing. Today, my friend brought over an air compressor and we tried to blast it out. I sealed the intake hole, put a vacuum on the injector hole, and blasted compressed air into the swirl chamber through the glow plug hole. I also tried blasting air in through the intake with one of the two swirl chamber holes sealed. All to no avail.

Looking into the injector hole with my camera (it doesn't quite fit, but I can see part of the swirl chamber), I can see that the hole going from the swirl chamber to the piston is quite large, so it could well have fallen down there. My next idea is to use a very narrow hose on the end of my vacuum and try to feed it through the injector hole and down into the combustion chamber in the hopes that it sucks up the piece. Someone with a TDI golf had success with this method here. If that doesn't work, I'm going to try going in through the intake. I figure I could insert a small the vacuum hose under the valve if the engine was in the right position. @GTSSportCoupe do you know if there's an easy way to manually crank this engine without having to take the radiator out? It seems really difficult to get at the crankshaft bolt.


Hey @gannex . I've always been able to reach the crank pulley bolt with the right deep socket or extension. I forget exactly what I used at the moment. I may have accessed it from the bottom. There is a little shield under the radiator that is held on by three bolts. Remove that and at least you can see better. You have to bend open a couple little hose holders (trans cooler hoses) on the upper side of that shield. Just feel for them, its not hard. (don't forget to put those hoses back and bend the metal back down - or your PS pump can wear through them).

Turn the motor to bring the piston up enough that it's easier to see the glow plug piece. Are the glow plug tips magnetic? Could you epoxy a small neodynium magnet to the end of a piece of wire somehow? Fish around? Of course would need to make sure there is no way it could ever come off. Piston is aluminum, so as long as the magnet was above piston it would probably work ok.

Another idea. Can you get a piece of wood shim material to open the valve further than stock? Basically insert it between the cam and valve shim to push the valve open further than the cam does. You'd want to do this on the intake valve as it's largest. I think stock lift is around 10mm. But if you could get say another 5-10mm out of it, the opening would be large enough to get your endoscope in there; and/or your vacuum hose. I suggest using wood for this as it would not damage the shim or cam lobe surfaces.
 

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