My RX-7: Project Tina

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Project Tina encompass the multi-year process of modifying my RX-7. It started in late 2001 as one of the first well-documented turbocharged NA projects and has since evolved into much more. This includes a bridgeported turbo-NA 6 port engine, custom intake manifold, GT4088R turbo and a host of other custom work. At the time this page was last updated, the project has been on going for 7 years. For the most part, the project is complete but there are always changes and improvements happening.

The name "Project Tina" come from the fact that the original setup was made up of a combination of TII and NA parts to make the turbocharged NA engine. Since TII + NA = TIINA, the name "Project Tina" was adopted.

The pages linked to here are based on a series of journal-like posts to The RX-7 Forum made during the project. They've been modified, formatted and edited for a permanent home on this website. As 7 years of work is covered, there is a lot of material. Over 550 detailed pictures and a hundred or so pages of text is represented here. I promise that if you are into custom cars, fabrication and especially rotary vehicles you will find it all very interesting. There is at least 3 hours of reading here so pour yourself a drink, sit back in a comfortable chair, and proceed...

Project Tina Phase I

Phase one contains the original turbo-NA project. Essentially this involved using TII parts to turbocharge the NA 13B, something that a great majority of people said couldn't be done or wouldn't work. As it turns out, this can be done and it worked out quite well. This original setup can be thought of as a prototype to the final installation. Some of the methods used were not ideal or maybe even crude, but the result worked reliably and produced decent power. This writeup is split into updates that cover a time period. These were originally forum posts, made every few weeks while the project took place. In the beginning my descriptions were not that great but got better as things progressed.

March 9th, 2002: Prep and Turbo Mounting
This first update includes prepping the turbo and intercooler, removal of NA exhaust manifold, details on the turbo manifold spacer, modification of the throttle body and addition of the turbo oil drain to the oil pan.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

May 13th, 2002: Oil Supply, Blockoff Plates, Boost Gauge, Intercooler
The 2nd update deals mainly with misc. tasks like making blockoff plates, installing the TII fuel injectors, installing the boost gauge and performing a few mods to the intake manifold. In addition the frame is notched to allow the wastegate actuator to fit and the intercooler mounted.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

May 20th, 2002: Intercooler Piping, Throttle Body Adapter
Using a tubing bender to create the intercooler piping, and fabricating a custom throttle body adapter to connect it to the throttle body.
Page 1 (linked above)

Jun 9th, 2002: Fuel Pump, Oil and Water, TID, S-AFC, BOV
Over a holiday weekend, a lot of work took place. The fuel pump was swapped, oil and water lines finalized for the turbo, lower intercooler pipe installed, turbo inlet duct fabbed, blow off valve installed and the S-AFC wired. Also a few miscellaneous other tasks related to mainly plugging up spare vacuum nipples and hoses.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

Jun 15th, 2002: Downpipe Adapter, Exhaust, Finishing Up
This is the final construction phase in which a few loose ends were tied up, the downpipe adapter to connect to the exhaust system was (poorly) fabricated, and the TID installed. Then the car was pushed out of the garage, filled with fluids and prepared to start.
Page 1 (linked above)

Jun 16th, 2002: Startup and Later Updates
Commentary and videos of the first startup, plus later updates and driving impressions.
Page 1 (linked above)

Project Tina Phase II

I was happy with the success of the original project Tina, but as often happens, I wanted more. The combination of the stock 6 port block, stock HT-18 turbo and stock NA ECU was pushed about as far as possible (or at least as far as was safe...and probably a little farther) and was obviously workable. In addition the original engine was starting to show it's 258,000 KM, the transmission needed a rebuild (a small fluid leak had caused it to run dry a few times) and the clutch was wildly slipping due to high mileage and contamination from the leaking transmission oil. It is interesting that the catalyst in starting this massive next phase was the need to replace the clutch.

As often happens in cases like this, one thing lead to another. I figured that if I had the transmission out I might as well also pull the engine to rebuild and port it. This lead to a small bridgeport, standalone, turbo upgrade to a GT4088R and a host of custom components. The work also involved building a custom fuel system, upgrading the cooling system, building a new exhaust, cleaning and painting everything, and far to much additional work to mention outside of the main writeup.

More recently, the car got a new interior. New carpets, seats, trim, audio and a full Dynamat installation make the interior finally tolerable. The shocks and springs have been upgraded, and a custom 4 lug 4 piston brake setup fabricated. There's still a bit more to do in the form of bushings and the installation of a limited slip differential, but most of the hard work is done.

These writeups are far more detailed then the previous phase of the project and contain a lot of information.

March 23rd, 2003: Engine Removal and Disassembly
Removing the transmission and engine, then disassembling the engine in the basement in preparation for rebuild and porting.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

July 15th, 2004: Painting The Engine Bay, Porting The Engine, Shaving Lower Intake Manifold
A little more then a year later it was time to do some actual work. It was a busy year since the last update so there was a bit of a lull in the project but I got back on track by stripping and painting the engine bay, porting and painting the engine and shaving all extra vacuum fittings and emissions components from the lower intake manifold.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

August 4, 2004: Assembling The Engine, Modifying Lower Intake Manifold
Finally it was time for the engine to come together. The engine was assembled in a few hours without any major problems. Also, the lower intake manifold was modified by finishing off the shaving job and port matching the runners.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

May 26, 2005: Oil Pan, Porting Turbo Wastegate, Rust Repair, Misc. Wiring
With the engine complete it was time to tackle some more miscellaneous tasks. First was mounting the oil pan and porting the turbo wastegate, then some minor body repairs and wiring, and finally engine mockup to make sure everything fits before installation. In addition a set of passthroughs was added to the firewall for the battery cables and the turbo oil drain was modified.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

October 1, 2005: Engine Installation, POR-15 Undercoating, ECU Wiring and Battery Box Fabrication
It was finally time to install the engine, which took place on a rainy Sunday afternoon. After that the underside of the car was stripped and painted in POR-15 (a very unpleasant process), transmission installed and then the wiring for the Micotech ECU begun. A rear mounted battery box was also fabricated.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

January 11th, 2006: Upper Intake Manifold Fabrication, Coolant Pipe Fab
This update primarily deals with one major task: fabricating a new upper intake manifold completely from scratch. Also thrown in is fabrication of an upper radiator pipe, modification of the oil filler neck and assembly of power cables.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

August 7th, 2006: Fuel System, Intake Manifold Installation, Exhaust Fabrication
During the winter some small fabrication projects were accomplished such as creating a lower radiator pipe, fabricating the blow off valve flange and getting a start on the fuel system. Then when the spring came it was time to install the upper intake manifold, set up the rest of the fuel system and fabricate an exhaust. Included is also making a set of copper heater pipes which really didn't work out that well.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

September 20th, 2006: Gauges, Intercooler and Piping, Final Assembly and Startup
After so many years, it was finally time to start the car. But first the intercooler had to be modified to fit, intercooler piping fabricated, exhaust installed, gauges wired and installed and a host of other related tasks completed. But once started it was all worth it. Included is a video of the first startup and an inaugural drive around the block.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

June 5th, 2007: Looming The Wiring Harness, Coolant Recovery Bottle, Wheel Painting, Big Turbo Exhaust Manifold Fabrication
After driving the car for a few months, winter came again so it was time to park the car and being the work on upgrading the turbo. This update deals with a few leftover tasks from fall 2006 (looming the wiring harness, setting up the coolant bottle) and then moves to building a set of radiator panels and painting the wheels. Then in the spring the new exhaust manifold was fabricated and the GT4088R turbo installed.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

July 18th, 2007: Finishing The Big Turbo Installation and First Startup
This update covers finishing up the big turbo installation and the initial startup. This includes finishing the exhaust manifold with wastegate runners, making a downpipe and midpipe, and then dealing with the oil feed, drain and relocating the upper radiator pipe. There are no videos of the startup in this update. For that, look below.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

Summer 2007: Updates, Videos and Dyno Runs
All the mechanical work was done so it was mainly time to tune and have fun with the car. First a bit of street tuning took place to get the low load areas drivable and the car to take boost. Then it came time for a few 1/4 mile test runs so see what the car would do with a rough tune. After that, a few hours was spent on the dyno to tune the car in boost as it was rapidly becoming too fast to safely tune on the street. At only 13 PSI, the car put out 387 RWHP at 297 Ft-LBs. Finally, one more trip to the track before it closed for the season. Included in this update are all the relevant videos, dyno graphs and commentary relating to the summers events.
Page 1 (linked above)

August 6th, 2008: Fan Controller, Brakes, Suspension and Interior
This update covers some of the things that make the car much nicer to drive. Included is a 4 lug 4 piston brake conversion, SPAL FAN-PWM e-fan controller (which I had some major issues with) and suspension upgrade. The interior also got some attention with full Dynamat coverage, new carpets, trim, and of course a new stereo.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

Fall 2008: Dash Serial Port, Rear Strut Bar, Drag Strip Fun
This is a bit of a small, random update covering only three things: adding a serial port to the dash to use for programming the Microtech, building an aluminum rear start bar and having a bit of fun at the track. There are just the few little projects that occurred over the summer of 2008. Most of my time was spent driving, showing and enjoying the car.
Page 1 (linked above)

Project Tina, 2009: Boost Controller, Fuel Tank Fab, Transmission Destruction, TII Transmission
This update deals with all the work done in 2009. The major projects are installing the HKS EVC 6 boost controller and fabricating an aluminum fuel tank from scratch. It also includes the story of two blown NA transmissions, followed up by the installation of a rebuilt TII transmission.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

April 30th, 2010: TII Oil Pump and Transmission Installation, Catch Can, MOP Removal, Intercooler Improvements
There is a lot of random stuff in this update. The TII transmission install is finished first, and then a TII oil pump is installed. A full metering oil pump removal is done (for reasons covered inside). Next up, I fabricated a new oil catch can which was then installed before I began preparing the rear suspension for a complete rebuild and LSD differential install. Finally, I improved the intercooler significantly by fabricating my own end tanks.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2, Page 3

June 2nd, 2010: Rear Suspension Reassembly, Another Resonator, Front End Rebuild
This is the last update for a long while because for the time being, the car is done. To finsih up, I reassembled and reinstalled the rear subframe. Then turned my attention to changing the exhaust tone a little with the addition of another resonator. The last big job was to replace all the worn out front end components (bearings, tie rods, ball joints, bushings). Finally, a new turbo blanket was installed.
Page 1 (linked above), Page 2

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