Well....I've done a fair amount in the last week. Not ambitious enough to type it all.
The transmission went up with my girlfriends help on Sunday, but I didn't get the clutch lined up right so I had to do it again on Monday. (Note: Advance has clutch alignment tools for $2) After using the alignment tool the trans slid right on and everything after that was pretty simple as I've done a plenum install with this top feed fuel rail about a dozen times now. I took my time and labeled every connector on the wiring harness using the layout in the back of the FSM. I know what all the sensors ON the engine are, but wasn't sure what was where on the harness (mainly coils connectors and injector connectors). I soldered on new injector connectors for my EV14 top feeds and was nervous about cutting into a brand new harness.
All in all, I've got everything hooked up as far as I can tell (already triple checked) and I built a rig to prime the oil pump (shop vac + filter with a hose) and after cranking I had oil pressure! Woo. Step 1 good.
Step 2 was actually trying to start the car. I worked for a good 9 hours on Saturday starting with finishing the transmission install, getting the exhaust on, getting the plenum put back together, sorting out the wiring harness, installing new connectors, and retracing my vacuum system. After all of this obviously I really wanted it to start, but I had planned on having to sort out some kind of problem.
I guess that made it sting a little less when the car didn't start.
After first couple attempts: Code 11
Checked CAS ground connection and it was iffy so I grounded it straight to the battery.
No more code 11, and it sounded like it almost fired for a second.
I can smell fuel, we checked for spark on 2 cylinders and both were good, I have 60psi of fuel pressure when the pump is primed. And then we gave up. Battery is almost dead too
Things I need to check after work today:
I heard you can just hook an LED up to an unplugged injector connector and the LED will go on when the injector is supposed to fire.
Either that or I gotta pull a lot off to pull the CAS and test it.
I also heard if the CAS isn't working all the plugs fire at the same time, so I have to pull 2 plugs and check them at the same time.
Aside from that I don't know where to go Oh well. One thing at a time. I was REALLY hoping to take the car up to WI for the week. If it doesn't start tonight I can't see that happening.
This thread needs an update!
Had some major problems with this car last fall. Rather major problems with the work that was done. Gonna copy and paste posts I made over at 3zc to get everyone up to speed with where I am now. Sadly, few pictures as of late. But I got my girlfriend a Pentax K-x for her birthday so you better believe when this is running there will be PLENTY of pics :-)
Originally posted 6-28-11
Borrowed a timing light from a friend, but before I went to check timing I figured compression would be a better check.
Sooo. I'm thinking its timing. I added oil to cyl 1 and it only went up 5 psi to 70, so likely not ring gap or a build issue. Unless its something in the heads.
But I pulled the front timing covers back off, pulled the plenum, and all the coolant pipes. I'll have to pull the lower timing cover now too, I don't remember that being pleasant. Looks like I'll have to cross my fingers for august now. Ugh.
Originally posted 9-20-11
Finally pulled the motor back out and took the heads off sunday night. When I set the head down on the ground, a bunch of grit poured out. It seems someone didn't do a good enough job cleaning out the heads after they machined them. I wonder if grit is holding the valves open.
Now I have to hope the shop will correct the problem 6 months later at no cost to me. And hope that it didn't work its way anywhere else. The bores were clean and grit free, for what its worth.
Originally posted 9-20-11
I just stopped by the shop with receipt (from april) and picture in hand.
I was completely calm and friendly and I think it went a long way. I stated my case and they said they'd take care of it. I'm really surprised.
Might even be able to put it back together by the weekend. yay! (leak check BEFORE assembling the longblock though)
And yeah, I was terrified the bores would be ruined. Surprisingly not. Lucky me?
Originally posted 9-22-11
So I got a call from the machinist and he said he pulled the heads apart and hand lapped the valves (shouldn't that have been done in the first place?), cleaned everything, and put it back together.
When I got there I used some armor all window cleaner (i had it in the backseat) to spray into the ports and check for leaks. Most of the valves weeped. Some held pretty steady, but 3 or for sprays was gone in about 5 seconds. This seems like too much to me.
I can't find anything difinitive online, but if the heads are assembled with spring pressure on the valves, shouldn't they form a perfect seal to liquid at 0psi?
One of the guys at the counter (not the machinist) said he filled the ports last night to leak check them and they stayed full. Clearly that didn't happen.
A) Should fresh cut and lapped valves leak?
B) Am I getting hosed?
Keep in mind these are my used heads with a supposed 3 angle valve job.
Originally posted 10-5-11
Just picked up the heads from the shop again. He said they held water overnight, but...he said that last time too. So I wasn't/am not getting my hopes up.
When I got to the car I sprayed some water in them and they held water for ~30 seconds before one valve slowly began to weep. MUCH BETTER. From what I can tell so far at least. Still not getting my hopes up.
I'll put the heads back on tonight and put some air in the cylinders and see how they hold.
Can I get excited now?
Originally posted 1-5-12
Nope. Put the heads back on the car, when I got the lifters in, they were sitting way too high.
Sent my heads to Z1. They confirmed my suspicions. Federated auto parts in Painesville, OH royally borked my heads. Even after 3 tries. They didn't bother cutting the tips of the valves after the seats were cut, didn't clean out the ports, etc. Z1 took care of everything and painted them for me.
I JUST unpacked them and hope to put them back on the motor tomorrow. I've finally got some room in my garage and I've got the motor sitting on a stand waiting for work. Maybe I'll get to drive the Z this year.
Originally posted 1-23-12
Alright, should have taken pictures, but since this is my 4th(?) time doing this, I'm sure I've already posted these. Did a leakdown test yesterday and everything was in the green (20-25%) on a ice cold motor. I'll do the same test after I put the cams in.
Yesterday I built my new IKEA workbench, torqued the heads down, and installed all hardware related to both turbos. When I removed them all I took off was the stainless steel oil feed lines and the 4 turbo-exhaust manifold bolts so it was mostly pretty easy to get back on. I had to grind away at the exhaust flange a few mm to make the oil feed line easier to install.
Afterwards I rebuilt and cleaned all my lifters just to be safe since they have been sitting for about a year now. Tonight I'll be installing the cams and hopefully timing the motor.
Trying to get everything ready to go by Friday. The plan is to install the motor this weekend. I just need to figure out how to transport the motor 4+ miles to the car.
Originally posted 3-11-12
Finally installed the motor! My buddy pat came over this weekend from Chicago and we knocked everything out. A week after I posted my last message my Grandpa was in the hospital so the car was put on hold for a while.
After 2 full days of working on it this weekend, we got to try to start it without any accessories installed. AND IT FIRED UP!!!!!!!! It had a searching idle for about 20 seconds, and then died. No time to check codes or boost leak. We finished 15 minutes before we had to leave for girlfriends birthday dinner.
BUT IT STARTED! Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Originally posted 3-15-12
I had a few problems after the initial startup. During the first startup, I neglected to let the wideband warm up, so I didn't get any information from it. Also, I had a pretty bad oil leak (supposedly). And it died after about 15 seconds.
I finished buttoning everything up monday night and tried to start it again, this time with nissan datascan. I learned a few things
A) My wideband is hooked up to the gage, but not to the wiring harness, and I cant find the connecter. I don't remember if it was ever plugged into the harness. I'm not really sure what to do about this one. The oem O2 on the drivers side works fine.
B) I DID have a nasty oil leak. I forgot to tighten the drivers side turbo oil feed for some stupid reason. I was able to remove the AC condensor and the bracket with the motor in the car with minimal effort and tighten it down. No leaks this time.
C) While I was playing around underneath the car I realized I didn't have my boost solenoid hooked up properly, the hard line going to the drivers side throttle body had a vacuum connection wide open which showed on my wideband as a very lean condition. Hopefully that's all I missed. My Z1 boost leak tester broke (THESE THINGS ARE SUPER FRAGILE, kind of pissed about this) so I have to wait until a replacement shows up.
D) The passenger side neck on my OEM radiator has a tiny leak, so I ordered new silicone coolant hoses and a Mishimoto radiator. I was having problems deciding which radiator to buy because I've never had temp problems before (other than too cold) with the OEM rad, but at some point I would like to drive out at Mid-Ohio so I should probably have adequate cooling. Next spring I'll be installing 2.5" intake piping, intercoolers, and TB's and I've heard installation can be a pain/impossible with a larger radiator. I guess I'll find out.
So for right now the car sits and I wait for my radiator before doing anything else.
Oh, almost forgot
E) I can't get the exhaust to line up for the life of me. When the test pipes are LOOSELY fixed to the downpipes, they sorta line up length-wise, but as soon as I bolt them down (in any order) they differ in length by almost .25". I'm totally stumped as to what to do. They fit fine before, but I understand that exhaust location is based on turbo type (sport 500's = OEm housings) and exhaust manifold placement (AMS). Is it possible the mounting of my AMS manis are misshapen and preventing my exhaust from lining up? Should I just bolt the test pipes to the H pipe and hope that holds it?
I've reduced the "damnit not again" problems from 3 down to just the exhaust problem. I'm still pretty optimistic.
Mishimoto radiator and new radiator lines get delivered tomorrow after work. The girlfriend will be out of town this weekend so I'll have all weekend to either button everything up, or take it for a test drive.
Sadly my registration is expired and its still on 'storage' insurace so I need to get both of those items taken care of at lunch today.
I've got a Nistune ECU waiting to go in after I get the motor broken in. Some big name Z tuners are coming to Cincinatti in May and I hope to be able to take the car down there and get a top quality professional tune. I just hope I'm not getting ahead of myself again.
With all due respect to Dan, a Z32 300ZX is a car I'll never own and ownership I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My best friend is the biggest Nissan nut you'll ever run across, and worked as a tech at a Nissan dealership from 2000-2004 (the time these cars were getting out of warranty). A couple of the other tech's had Z32's and I often gave a helping hand working on them. I'd rather re-run vacuum hosing on a TT FD than do just about anything further than basic maintenence on a TT Z32. The TT Z32 is still the most pain in the ass vehicle I've ever worked on. If I remember correctly, the last Z32 I turned a wrench on was to replace a turbo, and it took 4x removing engine and installing engine to get all leaks stopped and everything fitting properly.
With that said, when they are put together, they are damn fun cars. I used to bracket race with Brad Grodi @ ZSolutions. I don't know if he's still in business but back in '07-'08, he was running 700-800whp and driving his Z everyday.
Roll Tide & War Eagle but stuck in LSU Country
UAB Blazer Basketball
Saints - WHO DAT! ROAD WIN?!
Orioles - Thank You Showalter & all the O's!
Pretty much the only 2 cars I've spent any real time working on are my 300zxTT and my Golf VR6. Everyone told me that the Golf would be a pain because it was a 6 cyl engine in a bay built for a 4 cyl. I don't see either as a pain to deal with.
I love both of my cars, and the work I have to do is the cost of owning the car. I love EVERYTHING about the 300zx. I love the exterior, how it feels to sit in the driver seat, how the rush of power feels when the turbos kick in (and that was stock power levels before...haha).
The way I see it is if I ever need to work on an 'easy' car...I'll be set. I have learned more than I ever thought in the 3 years I've had the Z. Case in point, I wasn't into cars at all when I started college, but all my friends were complete gearheads, so I absorbed what I saw and heard. My best friend is/was a Nissan freak, and I helped him find his 300zx slicktop. After I got a ride in that car I was hooked. I bought my TT a few years later. He was the one helping me reinstall my new motor last weekend. After we got the motor in we realized that the water pipes that run under the lower plenum and between the heads wasn't bolted down completely (letting RTV cure) and it was sandwitched up against the firewall. We already had the motor and trans installed and in place. (sorry pat) He thought we were hosed and wasn't really sure what to do. I removed a heater core hose, grabbed a 3/8" U joint, a 1/4" wobble joint, 1/4" u joint and 1/4" extension and snaked the fittings onto the bolt head with my fingertips and managed to get all 4 bolts torqued down.
Ask me to do that two years ago? No way would I have figured that out. I guess another way of looking at it is: if you have to do it every day, and don't know anything different....its not bad; its just normal. Plus, when you have all the bypasses and deletes done AND a top feed fuel system, most of the biggest PITA's no longer exist.
I agree 100% with you. My best friend (former Nissan tech), is the most ingenuitive tech I've ever known.
Roll Tide & War Eagle but stuck in LSU Country
UAB Blazer Basketball
Saints - WHO DAT! ROAD WIN?!
Orioles - Thank You Showalter & all the O's!
Originally posted 3-22-12
I found my 02 connector last night. But more about that later.
First of all....my new Mishimotor radiator, Z1 silicone coolant pipes, and replacement boost tester showed up from Coz last night!!! And I had to wait until 8pm to play with them. It was 85 degrees in Northeast Ohio....softball comes first.
When we got home I installed the radiator which I was afraid of based on all the horror stories I've heard about aftermarket radiator fitment. I left the intake hoses on the passenger side installed throughout, and it took all of 30 seconds to figure it out. I just had to put the driver side of the rad in first, lowering the radiator tab below the metal intercooler pipes. Once I was able to slide it over and down, the whole radiator moved into position. Nothing had to be removed or loosened. Hooray! I'll have to take a picture tonight, the radiator seems to sit pretty high, but the hood does close.
Once I lubed up the silicone hoses they slid right on. I had to trim the radiator side of the upper pipe about .25" to get it to fit, since this rad is so much thicker.
After my rad install I attempted a boost leak check and couldn't build pressure even with the regulator set at 50psi or so on my compressor. Gah! Need to figure that out before I try to start it tonight.
Task number 3: Hook up heater core valve properly. This was a pain in the @$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $! I had the heater core installed last fall when I did the bypass, but I never hooked up the spring and cable to the valve. It took me about 30 minutes lying on my back under the pedals to get this thing hooked up. I had to pull the valve back off the heater core, thread the cable through the valve handle, and spin and contort it to get the valve back on the heater core AND back into the rubber bypass hose. There should be pics of this earlier in the thread. Unfortunately I didn't have my phone on me to get any last night.
Last task: Missing 02 sensor plug. For some reason I felt like I had both 02 sensor plugs in the harness despite using a wideband 02 in place of the PS 02 sensor. I had to backtrack my bees nest of wiring behind my 300 degree triple gauge pod and below the radio. I traced all the wires coming out of the firewall from the LC-1 unit, followed all the leads until I found the one that didn't go to the gage or ground/power and found it running back to the firewall. However I couldn't find that wire in the engine bay side. Turns out I spliced it within a few inches of hte firewall grommet. I found the wire spliced to my old 02 sensor connector, which somehow got stuck on top of the turbo. It was COMPLETELY hidden from view. I snaked it out and plugged it into the wiring harness.
At the start of the night I was bummed again because I thougth I had a few problems that were going to take a lot of work and delay this project even more.
Tonight I need to keep hunting down my boost leak (no hints last night, no whistling or anything) and then I can fill up the rad and start it up and hopefully let it idle for 20 minutes to FINALLY break this motor in.
Neighbors may not like me as I have no exhaust. :-)
Yet another update! You can tell I want to get this done because updates are more frequent.
I had another large group of tasks yesterday. First of all, I got some generic 2.5" test pipe gaskets yesterday at Advance Auto Parts so I could make a bit of an adapter between my test pipes and my H pipe. As I mentioned earlier, for some reason my test pipes were mismatched lengthwise by a little less than .250". They were great last year, but nothing I did would get them flush, so I stacked a few gaskets on the shorter one and bolted everything together. The exhaust has never been a PERFECT fit, it always took a little force to get everything lined up, and this was no exception. But I was comfortable with how it all ended up.
Afterwards I needed to reinstall all the AC piping and etc in the interior, I had never reassembled it after my heater core replacement last year. (Big mistake) I found 5 of the plugs, but couldn't figure out where the last 2 go. And nothing works unless its ALL plugged in (so I am told) and I need to have the climate control working so I can bleed the air out of the cooling system. Once I realized I was missing a large section of the plumbing (I tossed it in the hatch) I saw it had 2 connectors. Figuring out how to install it was a pain in the ass. It only took about 10 minutes, but theres no good way to do it by yourself. It consistes of two plastic...tubes...I guess, which are loosely connected, and they have to be installed at the same time. You have to get them in position while lying on your back, and then with one hand hold them in place, get back up in the drivers seat, and stick a screwdriver through the center console and pry them into place and make sure they fit right. It took a while to figure that out. Again...another pain but got it sorted out.
Lastly I filled the radiator with coolant and tried to start the car yet again. No luck. Still can't build pressure in the intake system and cant hear any source of leaks. Even with my compressor regulator set at 60psi. Unfortunately after ALL of the times I have tried to start it so far, I have forgotten to pull codes every time. Damnit. Anyway, it still failed to run pro
perly. It stumbled quite a bit, seemed to be misfiring, and ran very lean according to the WBO2 (hard to tell, have a bad ground with my gages now).
Last thing I did was start to pull the plenum. Thankfully with my top feed injectors a plenum pull takes all of 10 minutes. Tonight I will be removing all the intake plumbing (that we have touched during this project) and reinstalling EVERYTHING one piece at a time making sure it is all clamped down. I'm sure we missed a hose or something. I hope thats all it is.
Every night the car doesn't start I get discouraged and I'm stressed out. But by the time I stop thinking about it and wake up in the morning I realize I'm really close and its just a little bit more and I'll be there.
I JUST WANT TO BE DONE!!!!!!! Yay. Ugh. Maybe this weekend. Car goes back on insurace today (in case I get everything sorted out and drive it this weekend) and collectors plate paperwork gets filed on Monday.
New rad installed. Look how high it looks! Luckliy the hood closes.
Last night I pulled the plenum again, determined to find whatever could be causing a massive vacuum leak. Sadly, it looks like this was my fault. The passenger side accordion pipe was loose to the turbo inlet. The driver side didn't budge when I pushed on it. While I was in there I rerouted much of the wiring harness and vacuum lines to the boost solenoids. We tossed everything together pretty quickly the first time, so vacuum lines weren't tucked properly and everything was pretty much a cluster. I stuck the solenoids under the battery and BMC, and ran all the vacuum lines under all the intake hoses. Much nicer.
I tightened EVERY clamp from the turbos forward and put everything back together. Luckily with my top feed setup I can do a full teardown and rebuild of the plenum and intake pipes in a little over an hour.
I think we missed a ground on the first attempt because when I started it up it sounded like it was running on 3 cylinders. Code 42, forgot to plug in the fuel temp sensor. Tried again, still 3 cylinders. Code 42 and 21. I swapped PTU's to a spare, and it ran much better. Unfortunately this time cylinder 2 wasn't firing. I swapped coilpacks with no luck.
Gonna run through code 21 diagnostics today after I visually check for spark. SO SO SO close. I do still have a small vacuum leak for some reason, at the back of the motor, I can hear it whistling. The GF is gone for the weekend so I'll be looking for parts on craigslist nearby (shh don't tell her) and trying to troubleshoot these issues. I forgot to get insurance put on the car yesterday, and its raining so I can't do much driving with the Z anyway.
Also I got myself a cheap OBDII bluetooth transmitter which I intend to play with in my Golf today. If anyone has any idea why just one cylinder won't fire with what looks to be a good PTU, I'm all ears.
Present day update
I've been avoiding this thread because its been nothing but bad news. But after last night I guess I'm ready for an update.
No spark was caused by a loose PTU connector it seems. That has been sorted out.
The vacuum leak and inability to build pressure with a boost leak test is another story. I put worm gear hose clamps on every hose instead of the nissan OEM clamps to try and stop the leaks. No go, found one of my injector rings leaking. Took care of that, and the leak jumped to the upper plenum gasket, and after that was taken care of.....................it moved to the lower intake manifold gaskets.
More on that in a second. I did manage to get it running decently (it seemed so at least) and I drove it 5 miles down the street to test out everything without power steering. Big mistake. And after I pulled out of the garage I noticed puddles of water under the exhaust, and a small puddle of oil at the rear of the engine where it mates with the trans. I was pretty upset at that point. And to top it off halfway through the drive I noticed the heater core was leaking and there was a loud ticking noise coming from the engine bay AND it was misfiring because of a lean condition. I was pretty upset. This would be the reason for no update in 2+ weeks.
Back to the solutions:
I pulled everything to retorque the head studs, and found a few that were LOOSE. Retightened everything and hoped that was the source of the water out the exhaust. The plenum came on and off about 5x trying to hunt down vacuum leaks.
After that I tried eliminating my injector vacuum leaks, but the lower manifold I'm using had two stripped holes in the center (which I didn't notice until the car was practically done). I had to drill them out and helicoil them, which worked fantastically........but didn't help with the leak.
Why the @!#$% did I use the intake manifold gaskets I installed? I had a set of the bronzeish colored metal gaskets with rubber inserts lying around, and I used the ones made out of exhaust gasket material. WHY?! I'll post pictures later.
Sooo I was hoping I could pull the lower plenum without resetting the timing, we had the timing belt clamped and ziptied in place, with people on each gear holding them so they didn't move. It didn't matter, the belt still jumped. Which also didn't matter because I forgot about the rear timing cover on the passenger side which goes around the idler stud on the lower intake manifold.
Lucky me. So as of Thursday night I was in for a weekend of tearing everything down so I could reset the timing. Luckily I had no work Friday so I spent the day in the garage, with the exception of lunch. My girlfriend was stuck working so I delivered some Panera. Mmmm.
I had pretty much everything together by Friday night, I just needed the right size power steering belt to match my crank pulley. It only took 3 trips to autozone to get it right.
After checking everything and checking again, I FINALLLLLY tried to start the car again at about 6pm Sunday. Before the initial crank however, I gave her one last boost leak test. Lower intake manfiold: Sealed. Injectors: Sealed. Upper intake manifold: Sealed. Balance tube: forgot to bolt down. Oops. What I don't get is despite not having any leaks...I still can't build any pressure in the system. The car ran great (minus the 02 sensor issue I've been having. More on that later also), pulled 22mm/hg vacuum at idle and despite a full bottle of soap and water I couldn't find a single leak. I can hear air flowing what sounds like inside the plenum, but no leaks. And nothing out the exhaust according to my ears.
As I said the car ran great, until it reached 167*F. At whichpoint the RH 02 sensor would peg at 1v, then slowly reach stoich, then peg at 1v, and repeat. And while its doing this it would rev higher, and sputter back down, and run real lean when gently cruising. I tested my 02 sensor theory by forcing the ECU to run in closed loop mode (fuel maps only) by unplugging my wideband 02 from the wiring harness (yes I'm using the 1v output from the LC-1). After that it ran MUCH better. Still slightly lean, but not to the point it was misfiring.
No leaks from the heater core, no leaks from the engine bay that I can see, and nothing from the exhaust. I'm starting to feel better. Tonight my Z gets its face back! First time in 13 months. Then its another drive to get me near 50 miles and another oil change. Gotta put 500 miles on this as quicky as possible so I can get it tuned in Cincinatti in May.
In the meantime I need to teach myself Nistune so I can set up my spare ECU and fiddle around to see if I can figure out what's going on with my 02 feedback. I was thinking of getting 2 new OEM sensors and relocating the wideband to see if that helps. I'm kind of stumped at the moment.
Pics are boring for this post. Shows my retapping setup for the lower intake manifold along with the finished result.
Small update. Pissed I keep forgetting to upload photos, they're all on my old phone and camera at home. Rule #1, I know
I've put over 300 miles on it so far. First 300 or so were gentle, no boost, no higher than 3500 RPM, lots of engine braking. I changed the oil at 50 miles, 250ish miles, and I'll probably change it again at 500 or so. Currently using 5w30 conventional, and after about 200 miles the oil seems to thin out and at idle oil pressure drops below where im comfortable with. I was running 15w40 Mobil 1 in the old motor, and I'll probably go back to that after the breakin is fully complete. I need to do some more research on proper oil for new VG30DETT's.
I drove a lot this weekend, and the heater core started leaking again. The hose I used to splice the connections was too short, and as I tightened the clamp, it slid between the connection and just clamped the hose shut. Coolant all over. I fixed it Monday night and I really hope to not have any more problems with it.
Last night I took it out again to check my heater core fix and see if I remembered what boost feels like. I feel like I babied it enough for the first 300 miles, and now it was time to get a little more agressive. I still kept it under 60% throttle, but let boost get up to 5psi and 4500 RPM. Felt great! SMOOOOOOTH power delivery. Although it does smell a bit 'burny' after I boost which concerns me. I'm not gonna worry until I drive it a little more and maybe switch to a heavier oil.
Oh right, this weekend I filled up for the first time since November of 2010 (ouch). 15.7mpg! Not as good as I was hoping for, but this involved lots of idling and a pretty massive fuel leak after I pulled the motor (clamp on the fuel line let go and fuel siphoned out for hours).
I'm really hoping to see low to mid 20's after I get this tuned properly.
Next update will include pictures, I promise.
Last edited by megaDan; 04-18-2012 at 10:07 AM. Reason: Added details
Thanks for all the positive comments guys. Its definitely been trying at times, especially dealing with all the stuff that has gone bad which I took for granted *cough* headwork *cough*.
The work itself is pretty easy, although my definition of 'easy' is probably skewed based on the two cars I own. It just comes down to a little basic knowledge, a factory service manual, some DIY guides on the internet, and tools. I bet I've spent less than $500 bucks on tools for everything I've done here (engine hoist and stand are borrowed). It all started with a 200 some piece Craftsman set I got for xmas a few years ago.
Don't let the apparent scale of the work deter you. As long as you have some free time, a space in your garage, and a few extra dollars, you can tackle just about any project. Hell, I work 45-50 hours a week, marathon train on the weekends, play softball, ultimate frisbee, and have a (awesome supportive) girlfriend, and I've still got time to repair both my cars
As promised, here are some pics I took last week with our new DSLR. Still learning; and its been a few weeks since I had used it so I forgot most everything I read. Unfortunately no shots of the interior or the engine bay; they're still a work in progress while I sort out these little issues. The exterior looks pretty good though for an original 23 year old car.