I have to be honest, though, the piston pin retaining clips that are used in this application are a pain in the ass! There is a trick to them, though, and it involves two sockets and a middle length 3/8ths ratchet extension. I used the smaller socket to force most of the clip in, kind of squeezing and rotating it at the same time. Once it was in, I used the bigger socket to push the clip into place. Having the pin in actually made that easier, but I had to have the other clip in place first. Took me about an hour, but the maniacal laughter would have made you think I'd been doing it since the Earth was formed when I was done.
|What a pain!|
Once the pins were in, I could install the rings into the pistons and drive them in. The first step was to gap the rings and the measurements from JE indicated what gaps I needed. I used the “Street Moderate Turbo/Nitrous” Calculations, which is tabled below. I ended up with a .017″ Top Ring Gap, a .019″ Second Ring Gap, and the Oil Rings stayed at the .015″ required gap. To gap a ring quickly, you should use a piston ring filer, but if you're short on cash, tools, or both, a coarse, diamond layered knife stone works wonders if you're patient. Guess what I used!
|Ring Gap: USE AS A GUIDE ONLY!||Top Ring||2nd Ring||Oil Ring Rail|
|Application||Min. Gap Per Inch of Bore||Minimum Gap|
|High Perf./Street-Strip||Bore x .0045″||Bore x .0050″||Min. .015|
|Street Moderate Turbo/Nitrous||Bore x .0050″||Bore x .0055″||Min. .015|
|Late Model Stock||Bore x .0050″||Bore x .0053″||Min. .015|
|Circle Track/Drag||Bore x .0055″||Bore x .0057″||Min. .015|
|Nitrous Race Only||Bore x .0070″||Bore x .0065″||Min. .015|
|Blown Race Only||Bore x .0060″||Bore x .0060″||Min. .015|
|Courtesy of JE Pistons/SRP|
Also, for the love of Pete, use a piston ring installer! You are taking a big chance if you use your hands, but you can do it. To do it right, use the installer, I got one for less than $10 at my local NAPA!
The next step is to install the pistons, and while the idea is the same, there are a couple of ways to get it done. The professional installer will have a tapered installer, designed for the bore of the piston. The rest of us hacks have a ratchet fit installer that works just fine! Either way, you want to use engine oil or transmission fluid as you install the pistons and rings. Never, EVER, install pistons and rings dry into the engine, you will damage the bore, rings, and pistons. While the shelf pistons are less expensive, you did still just invest a good chunk of your hard earned cash into this engine, you want to spend it again? I don't!
|Lube down the cylinder bores first, then…|
That's what I have for now, next up will the be upgrade to the S14/13 suspension along with tearing down the head so it can be sent to Jim Wolf Technology, wait until you see what cams I have in-store for this thing! For now, check out what another S12 owner was able to put in his car!
|… Then knock them in!|
Editors note, we decided to let Justin have a run at building this project car. He is doing it all by himself as a pure beginner as a low buck project. If the level of trickiness and prep is not what you are used to seeing on the pages of MotoIQ, it is because we want to see and Justin wants to share just what he is going through, pitfalls and all. Justin is really building the thing in a shack in the middle of the woods in Virginia, far away from our land of technical expertise and suppliers of nearly everything. Maybe his situation will ring a chord with many of you out there or maybe not. We want to see how far he can run with what we call Project Redneck Rampage.