Join Date: May 2010
Location: Cordelia, CA
Falling in love again
Well, guess it's more of a falling harder for Sami...
I bought my Samurai thinking that it had been gone through well, but the reality was that the engine, carb, clutch, paint, ulpolstory, and top had all been replaced and the rest left pretty much alone. That meant that the heart was strong, and most of the rest as well, though I've been steadily nickle and diming it into a full restoration.
The only modification from stock was the installation of a Thorley header, 2" exhaust, 2" magnaflow cat, and a 2" Cherry Bomb turbo muffler. As soon as I got it home, I pulled the old, dry-rotted, and mismatched 27.5" tires off, and put on a set of stock-sized Geolandars.
The biggest flaw was that an ECM ground had not been tightened properly, and it took me almost a year to figure that out. That resulted in a carb that was not controlled by the ECM, no idle, and a overly rich mixture. I set the idle for 2500 rpm, and lived with it. The engine was strong for what I had heard and read about Samurais and the fuel economy was not too bad. The main problem that I knew about was the fact that the idle would go up when Sami pointed up and went down or even died when Sami pointed down.
When I finally found the loose ground, that instantly fixed the idle, which was very pleasant in itself. It would idle no matter if it were pointed down or stopping. The idle was pretty rough though, so I changed the plugs and that smoothed things out quite a bit.
Just previous to this, I had also replaced the radiator, thermostat, and fan-clutch, as it would overheat on the highway with the A/C on.
I also replaced the cat(with another MagnaFlow) which had been melted by the rich mixture at this time and the muffler(with a Walker QuietFlow turbo muffler) that had been rusted out There was a large chunk of material almost fully blocking the exit of the cat. I noticed a return to the original performance after replacing the cat.
I was dissappointed that the fuel economy had not improved over the next 200 miles, but figured that the mixture must not have been that rich and that the blockage had not been as bad as it looked.
We took the Samurai to Big Sur and Monterey over the weekend, and that is when the magic started occuring. As we were driving south, I noticed that it was feeling a bit peppier and that the cruising spped for a certain throttle opening was a little higher. The cruising throttle setting I normally pick is one just below where the secondary side of the carb starts coming into play, because I know that maximum efficiency occurs when only the primary is open. That usually results in around 65 mph with the A/C off and 60 with the A/C on, and most hills require full-throttle or/and a downshift to 4th. Some hills require further downshifts.
What I noticed is that maintaining 65 was taking a little less throttle, and that I was not having to downshift as often as is usual. I also noticed that 65 was still possible with the A/C on. I was then surprised to see that Sami made 23 mpg doing 65 with the A/C on. That would usually result in 21-22mpg, at 60 mph.
The next day was spent going up and down hills I had not been on before, so it was hard to tell if there was more power or not, but I did notice the next tank was just under 23 mpg, when usually the hills would drop me down to 20 or even 19.
The thing that put a huge smile on my face and has rekindled my love affair with Sami was the trip home. I was able to maintain 65 mph, WITH the A/C on, all the way from Prunedale to Fairfield on US101 with only one downshift to 4th. The area that required the downshift usually requires a downshift to 3rd. The last hour before home, I increased my speed to 70 mph, still using the primary, though often flooring it to maintain speed up hills. I then floored it for one long stretch and hit 82 mph with the A/C on and still in 5th! This could have been a slight downhill though, but it looked and felt level to me. When I tried it again on a stretch I know is level, Sami hit 76 but was running into a headwind of unknown speed.
This morning, I filled it up and saw that Sami had made 23 mpg again! The last time I made a 70 mph run, from Sacramento to Fairfield on I80 with the A/C off, Sami had made 20 mpg.
On the commute to work this morning, I was able to maintain pace with the flow of traffic in the fast lane, running 70-75. Usually I hang out in the slow lane doing 65(60 with A/C on), feeling pretty good that my Sami can do that. It would go faster, but it really felt strained about it, where not it feels only slightly strained.
So in one weekend, all my thoughts of an engine swap are out the door. Sami is no hot-rod by any stretch of the imagination, but I am now able to move with the flow of traffic if I choose too. That really makes a difference to me.
I am simply amazed at what the stock carb can do with a 2" exhaust when everything is working right.
Things done by previous owner;
Reupolstered seats and door panels
Shift sheet and bushing
New Bestop Replace-A-Top
Replaced tach cluster with non-tach due to tach cluster fuel and temp guage not working
Things I've done;
Replaced pitted windshield
All U-Joints and driveshaft boots replaced
tow strap and come-along
Bestop Windjammer and Bikini
Mesh Safari top
Stanley toolbox for semi-secure storage
rear brakes and wheel bearings
radio and speakers replaced
Radiator, hoses, fan-clutch, and thermostat replaced
Door seals, straps, window channels and scrapes
My "for sure gonna' do that" mods for the future are as follows;
Keep it relatively stock in apearance and capability. Must stay good daily driver and trip vehicle.
Replace sending unit so I can see fuel level above half tank.
15 gallon fuel tank
Receiver hitch bumper for package shelf and bike-rack
Replace front brakes and wheel bearings
Transmission rebuild so I can get 1st and 2nd to downshift without double-clutching(upshifts to second fine), and the transmission to stop marking my driveway.
spring change for improved comfort, not lift. OME most likely but maybe YJs.
ARB airlocker(s)(would prefer less expensive clutch type LSD but none available)
28" Goodyear MT tires and gears to restore stock gearing
Front receiver hitch bumper and receiver hitch winch plus dual batteries and 100+ amp alternator
'88.5 Samurai JX, mostly stock
Last edited by VaderSS; 06-20-2011 at 04:44 PM.