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Old 05-02-2006, 03:53 PM   #1
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 81352
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Calgary
2003 '03 EJ257 wagon

Default What skills/education do I need?

I've never worked on the engine of a car. I've installed a lightweight pulley, but that's hardly even the skin of the engine, and I had a helping hand, too.

I've browsed NASIOC and other Subaru sites for over 3 years now, merely absorbing and reading, and I doubt that this qualifies for the credentials necessary to work on an engine.

I'm contemplating putting together a built engine little by little, over the course of this year and dropping it in - complete - by the end of summer 2007.

I'm familiar with how it works, the parts necessary, and what I will be focusing on - based on my power goals, etc. What I am not familiar with are the specs/skills for installing/dismantling/cleaning/balancing/torquing/handling/lubricating the parts.

I understand I might even get flamed for being this direct and honest about my ignorance in a "Built Motor" forum, but hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:02 PM   #2
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2003 '03 EJ257 wagon


Details for the build that I'm thinking of...

I autocross and plan to track the car later on. I understand that I can easily just drop in an EJ257 and tweak it, but I have been fascinated with engines and want to try my hand at working on my own. This is probably quite ambitious, but here's the goal:

:: 400-450whp with little to no lag, preferrably even sub-3000rpm boost
:: Revs reliably to redline, day in - day out
:: Single-turbo, low boost

I've concluded that I should work on the EZ30R platform, similar to the Perrin build.

Last edited by Migo; 05-02-2006 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 05-02-2006, 07:04 PM   #3
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Location: Seattle, WA
04 Improved STI
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So you want to build an engine for the first time and you have selected one for which no performance parts exist, that involves changing the compression ratio, custom rods, and mating with a different transmission. I would not do that.

I think what Perrin et al is doing is awesome, but they have about a million times more resources than you do to solve problems.

At the very least I'd stick with a 2.0/2.2/2.5 block. You don't have go with that displacement, but at least you can buy a downpipe that mounts up and a header.

Read Pat's thread "Talk me out of swapping my pistons..." all 500+ posts of it. You'll learn a lot about what it's like for a novice to tackle an engine build. I don't want dissuade you, just get you to take on something that's a bit more straight forwared than a EZ30R. It was challenging for me to build my engine and I did almost none of the work. It took me forever to learn enough to make educated decisions.

Good luck.
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Old 05-03-2006, 01:36 AM   #4
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2003 '03 EJ257 wagon


Originally Posted by bboy
So you want to build an engine for the first time and you have selected one for which no performance parts exist, that involves changing the compression ratio, custom rods, and mating with a different transmission. I would not do that.
I know, I'm naive.

I'll read up on that thread, I've browsed a page or two but nodded off.
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Old 05-22-2006, 04:30 PM   #5
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'86 Porsche 944 Turbo


Don't feel bad Migo, I'm in the same situation. I'm seriously considering getting a larger shortblock and trying to read up on the options and just how difficult it would be to do it myself. It's a lot to take in, and I haven't found any good unabomber style posts yet on engine buildups.
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:05 AM   #6
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Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: Stratford, CT
2002 WRX wagon


The thread wouldn't have been so long if it weren't for my job. However, it still would have been pretty long because I am a novice and I can now say that....it's just not an easy task.

Biggest advice as to what skills you need: personality. If at all possible, have a friend or two who have rebuilt subaru engines or any engines before. When I initially did my 205 to 257 swap, it took us 2 days...more or less. My friend Mike did most of the work and I did whatever he needed me to do. I look back to when I did my rebuild by myself, mainly bolstered by the experience I gained by helping Mike initially, and I still had some very huge gray areas that are embarrassing now, but we've all got to start somewhere. Anyhow, my point is that tasks that seem tremendously difficult are usually best overcome not by reading but by watching or helping.

However, if you can't find anyone and you still decide to do it yourself, I'd recommend that you are super organized and regimented. I've found that ADD is not a good trait to have when rebuilding an engine. Don't forget the addage of measure twice, cut once. Find the factory service manual, either online or through a retailer.

....if you can't have someone to work alongside, at least have someone experienced who you can call. In addition to my local friends, I'd spoken to Mr's n2xlr8n, tmarcel, and jblaine on the phone at least once while I was knee-deep. Don't be afraid to pm folks you don't know on here who you think have their stuff together, and ask for their phone numbers.
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:31 AM   #7
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Location: long island, NY

+1 for organization and not being lazy, makes things alot easier

i will suggest a couple things, if you dont have a friend who happens to be familiar with rebuilding subaru engines (i dont have a friend that could tell you a model from subaru, lol)

1. go to your regional threads and invite people to your house for beer, pizza, and some engine work

2. if your gunna do it yourself start small, ive been browsing the forums too without too much hands on experience with subaru motors, but im doin an engine swap in my yz125 this upcoming weekend. should be fun!!
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:53 AM   #8
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Location: salem, OR
98 cam'd EJ251
Wrx Tranny,slowr than ish


your not the only one. i would start your power goals alot lower than 400whp......try half that. im going to stay N/A for a bit, just so i can get a better idea of how my car works in corners and straights first, then go for more power. if you throw yourself into a higher-than-STI-power-level car, your probably not going to do so well. but remember one thing, its way more fun to drive a slow car fast, than it is to drive a fast car slow.

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Old 05-23-2006, 03:56 PM   #9
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Chapter/Region: TXIC
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2006 Baja Turbo 4EAT
Brilliant Silver Metallic


Another option is to buy an assembled long block. Swapping long blocks is very simple (compared to building an engine) and can be done in a weekend. You can occasionally find a used built long blocks for sale in the classifieds for decent prices.

That's what I did when my 2.0l started to die... Here is my thread on the install: http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=978799
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Old 05-24-2006, 03:06 PM   #10
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Chapter/Region: BAIC
Location: Novato, CA near San Francisco
2005 STI


A useful expression for this type of task is: "He who acts as his own lawyer hath a fool for a client." I would agree with the prior posters who caution you against taking on this project without the proper, prior expertise. Also, if you have the work done by a reputable, professional shop that builds engines for a living every day, you should have recourse against them, if they don't do the work correctly.
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Old 05-24-2006, 08:08 PM   #11
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1995 LEBARON GTC!!!!


doesnt sound like a great idea
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:20 PM   #12
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Location: Calgary
2003 '03 EJ257 wagon


Wow, I haven't checked up on this thread in a while. Thanks for all the replies guys!

I don't know what I was thinking at the time that I started this thread, but that's a really ambitious set of goals that I stated. Let's curb that down a little, shall we?

-revs reliably to redline, day in and day out
-low turbo-lag

Back to my thoughts on the EZ30R...

I mostly autocross my car, aside from drive it on the street, so I'm not interested in anything even REMOTELY resembling a peaky powerband. If I can get decent power and a flat curve out of a small turbo on the EZ30R, that would be perfect.

I agree with coolcougar. A longblock would be much more managable to work with than piecing everything together, especially with my experience level. I probably wouldn't need much engine internal swapping/reinforcing if I do 4-5 psi on the 3.0L, right?

ballitch: I see your point. However, I'm in the "go big or go home" mentality, especially after spending 2+ years simply tweaking my NA TS wagon to squeeze out 200hp and handle competitively. I think it's about time that I took a big jump rather than small steps. My satisfaction level is high with my current set-up, but there's not much else I can do that is economical to what I've currently got. Intake/headers/catback/pulley/flywheel/cams... Heads cost half the price of a turbokit, but with half the gains, and with around 45k on the odometer of a car that gets "exercised" daily, I don't know if it's a worthy investment.


I know that for my intended power levels and such, the simplest bet would be to just order an AVO turbokit, STi shortblock, some tuning, and call it quits. I don't disagree.

I'd much rather work on a completely separate engine, build it up over the course of a couple of months, have no downtime on my car in the meantime, take my time and get the job done right, and then take a few days off work and install everything in 4-5 days straight. Half the fun is in learning how to piece the engine together, methinks.

Any further input? I'm enjoying learning how you guys think.
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:33 PM   #13
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Chapter/Region: South East
Location: St. Pete, FL
2002 WRX chassis...


Ditch the EZ30R idea.

I know that for my intended power levels and such, the simplest bet would be to just order an AVO turbokit, STi shortblock, some tuning, and call it quits. I don't disagree.
The above is all EASILY done in the 4-5 days you have set aside for the EZ30R install to the point of a running car (unrealistic, IMO).
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Old 05-26-2006, 02:20 PM   #14
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Location: Rockville, MD
2002 Silver Bug-eye
30 mpg 2000 Neon...Hi!


325-350 WHP is easily attainable with a standard 2.5 block and a medium-sized turbo. if that's all you are looking for, you won't even need to swap internals.

EZ30R is overkill imo.
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Old 05-27-2006, 11:29 AM   #15
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Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: '04WRX-Axis ej257, IPT 4eat.
CNC 'd heads, cams
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I graduated from Lincoln Tech's 13 month automotive technician program with a 3.3 GPA. I was one of two mechanics in a three bay garage for six years. For the last 6 months of my mechanic career I operated the shop alone. I rebuilt motors, manual, and automatic transmissions while in school. The number one thing I've learned - PAY A PROFESSIONAL TO BUILD MOTORS AND TRANSMISSIONS! The more you know about motors the more you realize you shouldn't be trying it yourself especially if you're goals are what they are.
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Old 05-28-2006, 03:07 AM   #16
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: 13.239@102.85 @ 5800 ft on 13T
2002 Impreza WRX


What skills/education do I need?
For a first engine rebuild I would recommend the following as a minimum.

A good service manual for that engine.
Buy a couple of general books on rebuilding engines and read through them.
many tasks are very similar from brand to brand.
A good understanding of all parts in an engine.
Willingness to browse the internet for instructions on various tasks.

You should have watched or helped at least 2 different people rebuild or do major work on an engine.

Have someone who can stop by from time to time and lookover your shoulder.

Lots of time --- it will take several times longer as a beginner than it would someone with more experience.

A place where you can work where no one else will "help you out" by cleaning things up and moving stuff --- this is a capital offense if you have room mates or a house mate.

If you can -- buy a junk engine and just take the thing apart and look at all the pieces, and put it back together.

Have a digital camera and take LOTS of pictures as you tear it apart, so you have a reference regarding how things go together.

When you take stuff apart take the time to notice little things like:

Are all the bolts the same length or are there a couple that are longer than all the others -- which hole did they come out of?

Are there markings or numbers stamped on things that indicate for example which rod cap goes with which connecting rod. Marks on pistons that point toward the front of the engine etc.

Don't be afraid or embarassed to mark wires and hoses and where they came from and which end connects to what.

Put pieces in boxes / bags so all the key pieces are together for a given part/assembly of the engine.

You will need a full set of tools.

As Pat said, don't be afraid to ask questions, and call or PM people.

When in doubt or things don't seem to be going together right --- walk away and think about it before you get out a big hammer or force things. In most every case if it is really difficult your probably doing something wrong.

As PeteDucati said -- if you want a top notch engine out of the box, pay someone else to build it. Learning to do it yourself is a long term project best not done under pressure to finish by a certain time.


Last edited by hotrod; 05-28-2006 at 03:12 AM.
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