Supra Work During Corona Virus Lockdown

Vermont has issued stay at home orders to stop the spread of Covid-19. It may not be clear to everyone that I call this site 802projects because I live in Vermont. 802 is our area code. I don't really have 802 projects, although sometimes it seems like I do. Fortunately I have enough to keep me busy while social distancing. I'm fortunate that my real job allows me to work from home during this crisis. This blog entry is about doing the little things on my Supra.

The entire drivers side of my block was grubby with oil. I think it was a combination of things. I decided to clean it up and replace everything that could leak. The last two items are intake manifold gaskets as you need to remove those to access everything easily.

The oil cooler was simple to rebuild. In addition there are two big Allen inserts on the top of it. I pulled those inserts and added some RTV around them. Mine were not leaking, but people have had fluid leak for them.

Since I had the intake manifold out I decided I might as well upgrade the injectors. I knew I would max out the 750's anyways. I went with the same thing (Delphi) but the 1000cc model. I replaced all the O-rings for the AN fittings too with some Earls Viton seals and gave the fuel rail a quick polish. The Allen key bolts that came with the fuel rail kit were painted black. They had some light rust on them and were a tad short so I went to Ace hardware and got some slightly longer ones in stainless. It's the little things.

I think the biggest leak I had was my camshaft sensors. On a Supra there are two of them and the seal design sucks. It's a big opening with a tiny sensor and some kind of special flat washer with an O-ring on the outside. They will eventually leak and you can't but the seals separate from Toyota. You have to buy new sensors which are around $120 each. Since I'm using a standalone ECU (AEM v2); it only cares about the front sensor. So I was able to buy a sensor delete kit for the rear sensor. I went with one from SupraStore.com because I liked their design with the double O-ring. I figured that was less likely to leak as it doesn't use a seal similar to the OEM. For the front sensor I decided to use a normal O-ring. I don't know what the size is, but it came off of a 6.0 Ford Diesel Injector (the white O-ring). It seems to work well. The other problem is the sensors themselves will leak through the electrical connector. They will wick oil into the wire harness. Some people have even had puddles form inside their ECU! My rear sensor which I replaced had oil in the electrical connector. My front one didn't. It is obvious why it would leak. The shiny collar on the inside is clamped onto the plastic. There is nothing really sealing it. I cleaned it carefully and added some black RTV around the neck of the sensor. Hopefully that does the trick.

Next up I started working on my bumper. It's the original bumper that someone installed the newer style grill insert in. Now whoever installed the insert did it wrong in every way possible. It's supposed to mount through the existing holes in the top of the bumper and into the aluminum bumper beam. Someone decided to mount it more forward than it should be and they used some self tapping screws into the bumper. The lower side of the grill is supposed to mount UNDER the bumper trim piece. They installed it over the trim piece and drilled a hole through it. They secured it nicely with a rusted bolt. The sides of the insert have 2 nubs hat are meant to fit into holes in the bumper opening. The older bumpers don't have these holes so they need to be drilled. Since the insert was installed more forward than it should be the holes were drilled in the wrong spot and it didn't fit right. On top of that they had 3 holes drilled on one side instead of 2. They must have messed up installing it incorrectly.

I plastic welded the holes shut with some PUR. Honestly my plastic welder is probably one of my best investments. I use it a lot more than I thought I would. Obviously repairing these holes does leave blemishes in the paint but I tried to keep everything at a minimum. I used some putty to fill the imperfections and touch-up paint afterwards. It's not perfect but also not real noticeable unless you are looking for it. Someday I plan on repainting the car. Until then, this will do for now. I bought a replacement lower trim seal too that I'll be putting on.

For the insert I ground down the nubs on the side. I'm just going to attach it at the top and bottom for now. Other people have done this. Now I'll be able to run with or without it and see what I like better. If I do decide to keep it I may try to secure the sides without drilling holes. I think a little L bracket could be added onto the back of the insert and it could be glued/taped to the back side of the bumper. If that doesn't work I could drill holes. I did buy an extra insert just in case.

The Supra has a pressure sensor off the power steering feed. It's intention is to boost the RPMs a little when the car is sitting still and you turn the steering wheel. A lot of people just bump the rpms up a tiny bit and ignore the sensor. My sensor was not in use and the vacuum lines were removed. It does take up some space and is noticeable. I've had friends ask me why nothing is running to it. According to the Supra Forums you can remove it and replace it with a bolt (I believe it was m12 x 1.5) and some thread sealer. However the sensor has a coned bottom to it that makes a seal. I didn't want to trust a bolt and thread sealer on a high pressured line. Instead I hacked off the top of the sensor, removed the internal spring stuff and welded the top shut. This way it seals like factory. I ground the weld down so it was flush and gave it a coat of paint to keep it from rusting.

Next I dealt with my pusher fan. The non-turbo Supras just rely on the fan driven by the engine. Early Turbo Supras have an extra puller fan on the radiator shroud that can kick on with the A/C. Early Turbo Automatic Supras have the same puller fan PLUS a pusher fan in front of the A/C condenser. The pusher fan was added to Automatics as the stock radiator also acts as a cooler for the transmission. I'm told that later year Turbo Supras actually have 2 puller fans instead of one. Now my car was an auto so it had an OEM pusher fan. But it was too thick to work with the intercooler so it was removed by a prior owner. That owner replaced it with a slimmer SPAL fan (part# VA13-AP9/C-35S 12V). Technically because I'm running a 6 speed trans now I don't need the pusher fan. Without it my car would be equivalent to what a 6 speed Supra Turbo came with. I decided to keep the pusher fan because I have a large front mount intercooler that will restrict some of the air going through the bumper opening.

I wasn't happy with how it was mounted. Someone shoved some zip ties through the a/c condenser and they had the power steering hard lines kind of bent into it to hold it in place. After removing it I found that it could be mounted securely by utilizing a single bolt through the bottom of the condenser (already a hole present), and then adding two zip ties (one at 11:00 position and one at 1:00 position) to the AC line at the top. To use the zip ties I had to drill 2 tiny holes through the shroud. The A/C line I zip tied to bolts to the condenser at the 12:00 position so it's very secure to use. The fan is very solid now and it doesn't have anything poking through the condenser.

Now that Power Steering hardline also doesn't fit nicely with the front mount. People can make it fit by bending it out of the way, but it's not a clean solution. That's exactly what was done to mine. I decided to remove it and run an aftermarket power steering cooler. The aftermarket ones have aluminum fins and should cool better. I took a chance with the Dorman 918-319. It has some long mounting tabs on it and I was able to re-bend them to fit in the drivers side bumper opening. it fits nicely over my Tial bov. I ran some Gates 3/8 power steering hose (I bought 2x 3 foot sections off Amazon). On the rack and reservoir side I was able to re-use the stock clamps. The clamps are too wide for the cooler nipples though so I went with some stainless 16MM hose clamps.

Next up was my intercooler piping. First I went with some nice black couplers. The blue couplers it had were good quality, I just wasn't a fan of the blue. I also went with quality t-bolt clamps. Everything came from SiliconeIntakes.com. They have the best t-bolt clamps in my opinion. I also re-did one of my intercooler pipes. The pipe going from my turbo to the intercooler was aluminum. The pipe going from my intercooler to the throttle body is stainless. Normally I run all aluminum, but here I opted to go for stainless. The aluminum pipe was really thin and actually semi-crushed where the clamps were tightened. On top of that the stainless oil return line was rubbing on it (before I shortened the line). It was only a matter of time before it failed.

I created a new pipe out of 304 stainless. It was a tight fit and felt solid installed. I figured that over time with the engine rocking during acceleration it could cause problems. So I did end up cutting it in half and adding a coupler in the middle. This allows it to fit better and gives it some more wiggle room for engine movement. Someday I'm going to buy a nice bead roller. Now I'm waiting for an extra coupler and t-bolt clamps to arrive before finishing the install. This is why you should always buy extra.

Since I had everything apart I removed the intercooler and cleaned it up. I gave it a quick polish. I also repainted the bumper opening black that way the frame rails and stuff don't stand out when looking through the bumper. Everything is already painted black from the factory, just over time some of it had worn off. You'll also notice in this picture I got my new hood insulator installed.

My downpipe has a coating on it. I believe it's ceramic coated, but it was scratched up. I decided to heat wrap it with some DEI wrap. It blends in well with my turbo blanket.

I also made a cover for the corner of my rear trunk tray. I considered buying a new one but they were discontinued. Plus I had some left over material from making the big board to fit in front of my wicked cas sub. The OEM ones have an arrow cutout but I figured a hole would be fine.

Getting back to my bumper opening... I bought a new lower trim piece because someone had drilled a hole in mine to install the bumper insert incorrectly. I noticed it never fit well. It was lose because the studs that stick out the bottom have a neck on them that is thicker than the bumper itself. This allowed for the lower mouth of the bumper to be wavy. The neck is on the studs because normally they fed through the bumper AND the lower OEM splash shield. I'm not running the splash shield because of my front mount. So I made my own bracket out of aluminum for the underside to stiffen things up. I used a 36"x2" 1/8" thick aluminum plate from Lowes. It was $11. Then I traced the trim piece onto it and cut it with a hand jig saw and cleaned up the edges with an angle grinder. Then I drilled some holes.

I sprayed it with some rustoleum professional primer then some semi-flat paint.

With the bumper mouth finalized I wanted to find a way to mount the bumper insert so that it would be removable without having extra holes drilled anywhere. I haven't decided which look I like better (with insert on or off). But I knew if I could install it both ways I could mix up the look whenever I wanted. Now the lower center portion of the insert is meant to slide UNDER the lower trim piece. I can't believe Toyota approved this. If it were me I would have found a better way to mount it. Sliding it under the trim piece will cause the trim piece to stick up. This leaves noticeable gaps on each side. It's more noticeable on a light colored car.

So I wasn't happy with it slid under, and I didn't want to drill a hole in my new trim piece to install it above. So I designed a simple bracket that would slide into the bumper insert and wrap around the back side of the seal and fasten from underneath.

I printed it with ABS. This is what it looks like. You can see I had to cut the lower ear off of the bumper insert.

This is with it slid in place. I ran a bead of hot glue down the center hollow section behind the lip and shoved it in. If you look closely you'll see where I had to sand down the corners where it slides under the bumper. To get it in the bumper opening the bottom has to push through first then the upper ears roll into place while simultaneously the lower 3d printed portion rolls underneath over my aluminum bracket. It was snug when rolling it into place and sanding the corner down made it go smoother

And this is with it installed. You can see it doesn't interfere with anything. The trim seal is nice and tight and the bumper insert is nice and secure. Now I need to figure out how to mount the left/right edges of the lip. I don't want to drill holes. I've already ground off the nubs. Some people say it's fine to run them just like that. I'm worried it could shift around over time and scratch the paint so I added a tiny piece of 3m double sided tape to each end. I was able to bend the ends up and apply the tape to the sides after the center section was bolted in.

If you'd like to download a bracket to 3d print, I uploaded the STL file HERE. You can also see more about it in this video I made.

I purchased new OEM fender liners for the Supra. I didn't buy the plastic tray that went under the engine or the undertray that went under the front bumper because I run a front mount. I would of had to hack it too much to fit. So instead I just did the fender liners and the two side pices. I had to hack up the side pieces some to allow my intercooler piping to pass through.

For the bumper and engine tray I went with the SRD Tuning undertray from the UK. I ordered plain aluminum but they sent me powdercoated black at no extra cost because they didn't have any plain stuff in stock. My initial ipmression is that it looks really good. However I began installing it last night and wish stuff lined up a little better. Some of the holes are not even in the same ballpark. I think they could have made a few design changes to bring it up from a C+ fitment. I've trimmed a few places and elongated some holes. I'm going to make a full review video when I'm done. Right now I've got it tacked up while I wait on some more hardware to come.

I'm really excited about this next part. I had bought Stu Hagen's LED upgrade a few years ago to make my cluster look nicer and to get rid of the Auto Tree (I'm 6 speed swapped now). It looked good at night or on cloudy days. But on a bright day or with the top off they kind of bugged me. That's because they had a glossy finish and the material looked grainy and was reflective in the right lighting. At night the faces would also would show some reflection from the gauge needle. Stu recently switched over to making his gauge fits with a matte finish. He gave me a deal on upgrading mine. They look more like OEM faces now. I'm much happier with the way they look.

Fortunately he packaged them well because the USPS driver decided to jam the box in my mailbox. I had all I could do to remove it.

On the left is the OEM fuel gauge. In the middle is his new Matte finish. On the right is his Glossy gauge face.

On the top is his new Matte finish. In the middle is the OEM faces. On the bottom are his Glossy gauges.

A shot at his new Matte finish gauges in my cluster.

On the bottom is his Glossy Finish, on the top is his Matte finish

Another Saturday came and I didn't have a whole lot going on. So I cleaned the garage and decided to tackle the climate control. Stu had done the LED conversion on it, but I wanted to tweak a few things. What really bugged me was the indicator lights. These are the lights above each button to indicate that the button is pushed. They were too bright for me and unlike all the other lights, they were not dimmable with the rheostat. They will either be super bright if the headlights are off, or slightly less super bright with the headlights on.

So I took the unit apart and took a look at what I was dealing with. It seems like the LEDs Stu used for the buttons and the indicators are the same. I think the reason the indicators are so bright is because the LED shines through a clear plastic square acting as a little window. The LEDs behind the buttons shine through white plastic. The white probably blocks more light. I should probably mention that Stu has sold hundreds of his kits. The brightness is probably fine for most people. I just have trouble with bright lights at night. It's not uncommon for me to toss a sweatshirt over radios/gauges.

I studied the circuit and there are plenty of resistors I could have swapped out. I didn't want to mess anything up so I opted for an alternative solution. After reading some tips online I saw that one person dabbed some black paint on each LED. The idea being that LEDS are directional so the light shines out the top of them. By blocking that light it has to reflect around it. I wasn't sure if I'd get a uniform coat on each one so I used some window tint instead. I ran a small strip of 15% window tint accross the indicator area. The plastic surrounding the indicators has a nice flat surface on it and it was pretty each to do.

Before Tint:

After Tint:

Here is a pic when I was testing the concept. Top indicator light is with tint, button is without.

Since the tint was successful I decided to tackle one more little thing that bugged me. On the temperature dial the "85" would show as white on the top and red on the bottom. The color transitioned half way through the number. Stu said I could pull the knob and try to bend the white led and red led up a little. That definitely helped. The transition point in the center of the "85" was no longer present but I could tell the red was still more white than it should be. So I removed the face and added a small piece of plastic in between the leds. The plastic came from an old fender liner that I had recently replaced. I cut it to fit and stay in place without any glue. Once I confirmed it worked I added a dab of hot glue to the plastic just for peace of mind.

Here are the LEDS with the face removed. You can see the two I bent up to help with the problem. I didn't need to remove the face to bend them. You can pull the button and use a tiny Allen key to move them.

Here you can see the plastic I added.

Now the "85" isn't being drowned out by the white LEDs.

Cluster is installed! I also swapped out the clear cover for it with a new one. Honestly I am a fussy person to please when it comes to products. Usually I can always spot something that could be done better or improved. I feel like a lot of businesses make a product, go through a few itterations then call it "good enough". I have to remind myself to expect that. And maybe Stu could lower the brightness of the indicator leds so I didn't have to use tint. But he completely nailed the Matte Face gauges. They look perfect and I couldn't be happier with them!

I made a review video on them too:

While I was at it I also made a video about the SRD Tuning Undertray. I 3D printed some wedge pieces to deal with the front tray. It doesn't sit flush on the lower radiator support. It comes in at an angle and I don't want to force the bolts tight as it will cause indentations in the material. I used some hot glue to secure them. The holes ended up being a little too small. They didn't have enough play to get all of them started so I drilled them out a little more. I made a new version of my STL file HERE with the holes enlarged more. I haven't tried the new design but it should work.

The last thing I did was remove my wiring and Digital Dakota for the Grannas Racing T56 swap. It worked great, but I swapped it out for his new bluetooth model. This was mostly so I could take advantage of the reverse shift solenoid. Forcing it into reverse was always a pain because I was fighting the heavy duty spring. Now it won't be a problem. This wraps up this blog entry. We are still on lockdown and I've still bee working from home, but I expect things will start opening up again soon. I'll have my Supra out this week. I have a lot of tuning work to do from installing AEM v2, bigger injectors and a bigger turbo over winter.