by Craig and Tim
(Edited by Howie, and EXAClub would like to thank any other contributors to this very popular article)
For those of you who are not aware of this, the EXA comes equiped with a rather small and underpowered (in stock form anyway) non-turbo motor. The most sensible conversion by far is the CA18DET (CA = CA series, 18 = 1.8 Litre, DE = Double Overhead Cams, T = Turbo).
The Million Dollar Question
How do we get this engine into the little exa?
Label and Disconnect Wires
The first job was to carefully label and disconnect all the hoses and wires. This may sound pretty simple, but remember, this includes things like, The Clutch cable, Power Transistor harnes, Crank Angle Sensor Wiring and so on.
Next, we had to check the original CA18DE was fully dis-connected, and effectively just hanging in there by the engine mounts.
Removing the Original Engine
Then the idea is to jack the front end right up and lower then engine down on a couple of trolly jacks, then once you get the car high enough you can roll the jacks (and CA18DE) forward and clear the car.
At this stage we went through a short process of changing various bits over. For Example, Craig's original car never came with A/C which ment the Alternator was located down the bottom, so this was changed (along with the brackets for it). The Starter Motor, crank angle sensor, Water pump pully, power steering motor were also changed over.
Matching the Gearbox
The next problem was that the CA18DET came out of something with an Automatic on it, which didn't really suit us, so we bolted the gearbox, clutch plate and flywheel off, and changed them onto the new engine. Of course we stuck a new clutch in it at the same time.
Installing the CA18DET
After swappng all the required bits over, and confident the DET was all ready to go! So we rolled it into place on the trolly jacks and carefully lowered the car back onto the new engine.
The extra hands were useful here to guide the engine in, making sure we didn't dent the radiator. (Making sure we pulled all the arms out when we were done ;-) )
The bolt holes for the engine mounts were already on the DET, so we just unscrewed the original engine mounts off the stock box and put'em straight on, so there was no problems in using the old mounts.
Reconnecting the electrics
Then once it was in we had the wonderful job of plugging everything back in again, working out where things were supposed to go, which includes all the things in/on the Inlet manifold, such as the FCID Thingo, was exactly the same size, but had different connectors on it, and the biggest bugger of all was these little clips on the Injector loom, one of the guides were slightly ofset, where as the plugs on the injectors were centered. This required us to dodgily cut and solder new plugs, however a whole new wiring loom for the injectors is been custom built from scratch.
After this some tuning and adjustments were necessary, such as the TPS (Throttle Position Switch) etc. It was also about this stage we tried fitting the OEM (original parts) such as the radiator fan's back in, only to discover that we were somewhat limited by space (eg. they wouldn't fit!). So keen as we were to at least get it started, we focused on other areas, and agreed to look at the Thermo fans later.
The basic running of the engine required the quick fabrication of a new air duct to feed the turbo, We decided a bit of 60mm rubber pipe and some PVC elbow's would do for a week untill we could get something properly fabricated.
After this was in place, it was all action! of course there were a few things, some dope hooked up the oil pressure sender unit around the wrong way (such as me!) but that wasn't vital, the engine ran which was most important. I also modded the wiring for the oil pressure sender unit to help it match up. Otherly all stock. The mods to the oil pressure sender were only minor. The OEM unit has 2 wires coming out of it, into one of those big brown/grey plastic plugs. The one on the new engine has one wire into the little spade type plug, so I had chopped the spade plug off, and put a big chunky plug on it. The wires mapped up alright as you really need just one wire for it.
If anyone was wondering the original computer was used. It's running stock wires and ECU! However a new wiring loom for the fuel injectors (which runs back to a big 8 pin plug) was required.
If your wondering what we did about the Thermo Fans, We kinda got out of it by getting some aftermarket fans, and bolting them onto the front side of the radiator. It works, although we may yet add other fans to the engine bay to aid cooling.
Question - Did the CV joints have to be customised?
Well.... No... we didn't, keeping in mind Craig's CVs are STUFFED AS, one of his boots is completely eaten up, doing the conversion on a Sat. afternoon tho, we couldn't do much about it, so he will get the replaced with some re-conditioned units. The big point with the CV's is, we kept the original 5 Speed gearbox too! The DET craig got came with an Auto! (stuff that for a joke.. hehe) so we bolted the auto off, changed the flywheel, put a new clutch disk and kit in, then bolted the original gearbox onto the DET. I would want to check that out alot more carefully if I changed the gearbox too. Using the OEM unit saved any hassles.
Thanks Tim ;-)
Question - How about the powersteering rack? Line up okay?
We didn't touch it.... didn't take it out, or put it in.... just left it right alone!
Question - What have you guys done on the exhaust? Just hooked her up to the original from turbo?
Well Craig allready had a 2.5" Muffler, and a special cat, I think the rest of the piping was stock, but not completely sure, Where the exhaust comes out of the cat, and straight up the front of the engine had to be modified, it only cost about $80 or something tho, I'll take some photos of this next time I see the beast.
Question - Any out of the ordinary costs/setbacks involved? or was it pretty much straight forward? (What did this cost roughly? Were the savings from doing it at home worth it?)
Yeah, there kinda were, but we expected there to be. The biggest supprise cost-wise was the radiator fans, we couldn't use the OEM bits which meant we had to go buy some after market thermo fans which weren't cheap, I don't know exactly how much, but I'd guess at about $180. The biggest suprise of all was the Fuel Injector clips which are different, but I got some from a BOSCH Electrical shop which re-do alternators and shit, they only cost me $13 ea, but I didn't mind kicking in a buck to help with the conversion. Total cost ... craig says it's set him back just under $3000, which would proberbly be right, but if you knew about it all (as I kinda do now) and you were a bit of a penny pincher as such, you could do it cheaper, Eg. craig spend $1700 or something on the Turbo re-conditioning alone!! ... if you spent $1500 getting a reasonable engine from a wrecker in the first place, you could get out of it for $2000 I reckon.... if you went kinda cheapy on it, did it yourself and all. As to weather it's worth it... well... how long is a bit of string ?! .... Financially .... If you did a passable job like craig has doing your clutch and all at the same time, Yes, if you said it was an $8,000 car, which needed $1,000 worth of work to keep it going, (totalling a $9,000 bill) craig has spent the $3000 instead (totalling say $11,000) .... but he now has a Turbo Exa, which is worth $14k - $15k (just guessing) ..... so yeah, It is ..... As for the labor, all about perspective again, if you don't mind rolling your sleeves up and getting dirty and doing it, then yeah! ... you'll not only save some cash, but you'll learn alot, and proberly respect your car a little more afterwards .... If you dont like anything icky, then you should probably leave it alone!
Question - How long did it take to do the conversion?
how long, erm roughly 2 days, Sat & Sun.... in hours prolly about 12 Hrs or so. Not as long as you may think!
Heres a link Tim has sent me:
Here are dudes churning out 160kw - 170kw from a CA18DET .... can you imagine a 174kw Exa! ... kinda makes ya think doesn't it.