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Repairs and Maintenance Blog

The DeLorean needs routine maintenance and the occasional, more significant refurbishing.  Beyond that there are also a number of customizations and upgrades to improve performance, reliability and functionality. 

Double-DIN Radio Install

Joe Angell

NOTE: This is still in-progress. The capacitor to keep the radio on during cranking still needs to be tested more thoroughly, and I need to install the trim around the face of the unit, but otherwise it’s pretty much done. I’ll update this further once the car is actually running again.


As long as I was ripping apart the interior to replace the A/C system, I decided that I'd finally replace the 15 car old Sony head unit with a new double-DIN touch screen unit with Apple CarPlay support.

I decided to go with a Pioneer AVH-2300.  This has a DVD player (that I'll never use), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support via a USB cable, Sirius XM support (which I won't also use), Bluetooth support for both audio and phone calls via an included microphone, an optional backup camera, and a slew of other features.

Removing the Center Stack

The new radio is a double-DIN unit, which means it's twice as tall as the stock radio or the aftermarket single-DIN Sony radio.  I would need to make some modifications to the center stack for it to fit, which meant removing it from the car.

This starts with removing the center console.  I already had mine out, but basically you start with the shifter knob.  For an automatic, that's two Philips screws on either side of the knob to remove the plastic body, then a wrench to remove the nut on the top of the shaft.  You can then remove the shifter plates.  If you loosen the lock screw, you can pull out the shaft as well.

Next there are six nuts securing the center console trip to the body.  A 10mm socket will remove the two up at the front, the two just in front of the window and defrost switches, and the two under the tray in the back.  You'll need to remove two Phillips screws to remove the tray to get to the nuts.  You'll also remove a bracket under the two middle nuts.  After that, the center console will lift right out.

The center stack starts with removing the old radio.  How exactly you do this depends on which radio you have; my aftermarket unit just pulled straight out.

Removing the climate controls starts with a screw that removes the face plate, followed by removing some smaller screws on some of the knobs.  The buttons pull out, after which you can unplug them from their connectors.  The lights pull out from the back.

You can now reach behind and disconnect the rubber adaptors from the center vents.

Finally, there are two Philips screws at the top that secure the rest of the stack frame.  With those out, you can lift the frame off the forward studs for the center console.  And that's it -- the center stack is out of the car.

What's left after you remove the center stack.

Wiring Up the Harness

The harness was pretty easy to set up with the center stack out of the way.  I went wire by wire, cutting a connection from the old harness and soldering the wire onto the new harness.  The old radio installer had replaced the original speaker wires, and the Sony harness had the same color coding as the Pioneer harness, so it was fairly simple.  I used heat shrink to protect the wires (well, most of them; I would sometimes forget the heat shrink and have to resort to self-fusing tape after the fact).

I tested the harness by resting the radio in the empty space of the center stack, and plugged it in.  A fuse popped -- I'd accidentally laid it the metal radio body on the headlight switch wiring and shorted its wiring to ground.  After replacing the fuse, I rested the radio on top of a plastic heat shrink tubing box and tried again, and everything worked great.  All the speakers had sound as expected,.  I plugged a Lightning cable into the USB port and tested CarPlay with my iPhone, and then Bluetooth for good measure, and that worked great too.

Radio Power

Like all other radios, there are two required 12v inputs:

  • Always-on power for the memory features.

  • Switched power for the rest of the radio, speakers, etc.

Wires for both are already run to the existing radio, and should be easy to find.  However, the switched power is tied to the accessory relay.  This is slightly annoying because this isn't powered while cranking the engine (ie: the key is in the "start" position).  That makes sense, and is common in pretty much every car -- you want as much power as possible going to the starter.  But of course it means the radio turns off while cranking.

This is normally fine, but the Pioneer head unit has a relatively long startup sequence, requiring at least six seconds to get past the "loading" screen, and then the "we're not responsible if you get in an accident messing with the touch screen while driving" screen (which you can either dismiss manually or wait for it to dismiss automatically).  It's a bit annoying to have to wait for this to finish after the car has started, especially since old cars like this don't necessarily want to start on the first try.

There are a few options to work around this limitation.  You can install a small battery, but that's a bit overkill.  You can run a second wire from the start wire to the radio, and use diodes to ensure that only one wire is powering the radio at any given time, but there will likely be a brief period of no power as the key moves from the "run" position to the "start" position, which will reset the radio anyway.  A crank-proof power supply is another option, but these are designed to run car computers and are somewhat expensive for just keeping the radio on for a few more seconds.

I decided to go with a solution based on this YouTube video from Stephen Tack.  Stephen uses a large (2200 uF) 16v capacitor and a diode as a temporary power source.  The capacitor is connected to both the radio's power wire and the car's accessory wire.  When the key is turned to "run", it very quickly charges the capacitor.  Once the key has moved to the "start" position, the capacitor is no longer being charged, so it starts draining into the radio's power wire (the diode keeps the capacitor from draining back to the rest of the car and other accessories).  The radio doesn't use a lot of power, and a capacitor of this size can keep it running for at least 10 seconds, which is hopefully long enough to get the car started.

The only problem with this setup is the radio will stay on for about ten seconds after the car has been turned off, since the capacitor is still powering it.  I didn't really like that idea, so I went with a slightly different route.

In my setup, I hooked up two diodes and a capacitor.  One of the diodes is connected to the red/white ignition wire, and the other to the light green accessory-switched wire.  The diodes ensure that the power only goes to the capacitor and the radio, and that the accessory circuit doesn't charge the ignition circuit and visa versa.  The capacitor is only there to provide a very brief amount of power while the key is transitioning from "run" to "start" and back again, and so it can be much smaller than the one Stephen used..

Capacitor wired to the diodes. Note the mark on the capacitor to the ground pin, and the marks on the ends of the diodes towards the capacitor.

The capacitor needs to be at least 16v to handle the roughly 14v car charging system.  I used a 47 uF 16v electrolytic capacitor -- much smaller than one Stephen used, but it only needs to provide power for a fraction of a second as the key moves between "run" and "start".  It also happened to be the largest 16v capacitor I had on hand.

The diodes need to also be of at least 16v.  I used a pair of 1N4001 power diodes.  These have a 1.1v drop across them (so, the radio will get 1.1v less than if it was connected directly to the car's power system), but that should be fine, and Stephen didn't seem to have any issues with it.  I'm betting the radio runs at 5v internally, and has a voltage regulator that works without an issue above 8v, so we should be good.

The wiring is simple.  Note that electrolytic capacitors are polarized, and there is a mark on the body that indicates the negative side and aligns with the short leg.  Diodes similarly have to be wired in the correct orientation.

  • The ground side of the capacitor is wired to ground.

  • The positive side of the capacitor is wired to both the light green radio wire and to the marked end of the diodes (the mark indicates the direction of current flow, in this case into the capacitor).

  • The unmarked side of one diode goes to the light green accessory-switched wire from the car. This provides power when the car is running.

  • The unmarked side of the other diode goes to the red/white ignition wire from the car. This provides power when the car is trying to start.

I tapped the ignition wire under the center console, running a separate wire from it to the capacitor and diodes that I installed behind the radio.  I soldered this together, wrapping it all in heat-shrink tubing and self-fusing tape.  When I tested it out, everything seemed to work perfectly — the head unit remained powered even in the ignition position, and survived the key moving between run and start.  It's quite possible I didn't even need the capacitor, but it didn't hurt to have it.

in the final install I ran an extra wire from the capacitor to the diodes after the leads broke. This also gives me a bit more leeway in fiddling with the wires back ther in the future without as much risk of damaging the wiring.  

The tap to the red/white ignition wire on the driver's side harness in the center console.

Everything connected behind the radio, wrapped in blue self-fusing tape.

A Bigger Capacitor

This all worked fine, until I tried it with the starter connected.  I used a button in the engine bay to turn the starter, and the radio lost power.  This was interesting for two reasons:  the capacitor wasn't big enough to keep this from happening, and it had nothing to do with the key position, since I wasn't using the key.

The likely issue was that the starter simply draws too much power to keep the radio on.  It's also only an issue as the starter starts spinning up, as the radio came back on soon very soon after the starter started running, even though I was still holding down the button.

The solution was a bigger capacitor.  I cut out the capacitor above and ran two longer wires to a new 2200 uf 16v capacitor similar to the one Stephen used.  The long wires were terminated with male and female blade connectors, and the capacitor was plugged into those.  This makes it easy to test different size capacitors without taking the center stack apart again.  The larger completely solved the power-off problem, but kept the radio on for a full five seconds after the car was turned off.

I bought a set of capacitors and tried again.  A 1000 uf 16v capacitor provided power for nearly three seconds (pretty much the linear progression you'd expect from halving the size of the capacitor).

Motion Bypass

As a safety feature, certain radio functions aren't available unless you engage the parking brake, then release it, then engage it again.  This includes playing DVD video (makes sense; you shouldn't be watching video while driving), managing Bluetooth devices, and a few other settings.  A wire is normally run from the handbrake light for this functionality  

I have an automatic, and never use the handbrake.  While the DVD video lock-out makes sense, I'd like to be able to manage Bluetooth devices while parked without having to fiddle with the the hand brake.

The solution here is a "Motion Bypass", which is a $8 bit of electronics that simulates the electrical signal of cycling the handbrake.  You could also do this with a double-throw push button wired up to ground, 12v and the wire from the radio harness, but this bypass does it automatically for you.  It does take about 10 seconds to for it to kick in after the radio has powered up, so you will have to wait at least 20 seconds before you can use those features.

The Motion Bypass simply wires to a 12v power source, ground, and the handbrake wire of the radio.  That's all there is to it.

Backup Camera

As long as I was doing all this work, I figured I'd install a backup camera.  I bought a $30 NTSC camera (there don't seem to be HD cameras using HDMI yet, and the head unit doesn't support them anyway, just old fashioned RCA connections for NTSC or PAL cameras) from Amazon.  This particular camera has a 170 degree field of view, and is designed to mount under the lip of the trunk.  In my case, it would be just above the license plate, inbetween the two license plate lights.  I considered a camera that would fit in the bumper in between my backup sensors, but the DeLorean sits so low that it seemed to make more sense up by the license plate.

The camera I got had two extra wires that you could cut for slightly different behaviors.  The first wire would mirror the image, which is useful if you want to install it on the front (the AVH-2330 support a front camera and a rear camera, but my AVH-2300 only supports a rear camera).  

Cutting the second wire disables the guide lines.  These consist of a red mark, two yellow marks and a green mark.  These help you get an idea of how close or far you are from obstacles as you are backing up.  The AVH-2300 can also generate these itself, but the one built into the camera is already calibrated, so I stuck with that one for now.  The Pioneer's lines are adjustable, of course, and since they're drawn in HD they are much crisper than those burned into the camera's NTSC signal.

To mount the camera, I drilled a hole exactly between the two lights while the fascia was still on the car.  I briefly considered mounting it to one side, but then realized that I'd always want the camera's view to be straight backwards.  I found the center by measuring with a tape measure from the edge of one license plate light to the other, marking it, then re-measuring from both sides to make sure it was actually the middle.  I used successively larger bits until I had a hole big enough for the shaft of the backup camera.

The backup camera installed above the license plate, centered between the lights.

A longer shot showing how the backup camera looks to other drivers.

Removing the Fascia

At this point I was rather familiar with removing the rear fascia.  While technically not necessarily, it did make things a little easier as far as running the wires go.  It's also way easier to get the nut on the camera.

The fascia is secured with a line of Philips screws along the top edge, seven M6 hex bolts and nuts that require pair of 10mm wrenches, and three nuts on the inside of each tail light opening that holds the sides of the fascia to the body, again requiring a 10mm socket. Each tail light is held in with six black Philips screws.

With all those out of the way, the fascia can be lifted up and back to release it.  You can't actually take it off the car without removing the separate backing panel or removing the taillight wiring harness, but that isn't necessary here.

Securing the Camera

The camera just slips into the hole, and then a nut slips down the wire and over the shaft.  Once tightened down, the camera is locked in place and looks back as expected.

Wiring

The Pioneer head unit lets you switch to the backup camera at any time, not just when in reverse. To take advantage of this I decided to run a wire from the  accessory-switched wire that power the radio to the camera, rather than just using the reverse light for power.  I ran this along the passenger side of the car, around the electronics tray in the parcel shelf and past the vacuum reservoir and the charcoal canister (which in my car has been replaced with an air intake).  It probably would have been easier to run them through the driver's side, where I had previously drilled a hole for the backup cameras, but I figured I'd give this a try.

I did wind up drilling a hole through the fascia backing for this.  I was able to use the grommet for the trunk release cable for some wiring, but you can only fit so much through that.

I soldered the wire to the backup camera's positive, and the ground wire to the ground on the passenger taillight harness, which is also where I'd previously added wiring for the backup sensor and high center stop light.

The harness, all wired up.

Testing the head unit with Bluetooth audio.

I ran the backup camera's RCA cable through to the front of the car, taking the same route as the accessory-switched wire I'd run backward.  This cable thoughtfully included an extra, unused wire, which I soldered to the reverse lights part of the passenger side harness, much like I had done for the backup sensors I'd installed long ago.  The other end of this wire was soldered to the radio harness.  With this setup, when the car is put into reverse, the head unit automatically switches to the backup camera.

The only problem with this setup is that it's a bit hard to completely remove the fascia off now, because the wires are soldered in place.  I can unplug the RCA cable from the camera, and I can install blade connectors on the wires when the time comes, so it should be fine.

Hidden Antenna

My early '81 originally had a windshield antenna, but a cracked windshield led me to getting it replaced.  Apparently the previous owner didn't think much of the old windshield antenna either, and had a power antenna installed in the distant corner of the driver's side rear quarter panel.  For whatever reason, the signal wire used to power external amps or power antennas from the Pioneer unit wouldn't raise the power antenna.

To be honest, I never liked the sight of a power antenna sticking up from the body.  At least with the Sony unit it was only visible when using the radio, but the Pioneer powered it whenever the head unit itself had power (since it's also used for an amp).  I decided to install a hidden antenna instead.

I bought an amplified window mounted antenna from Amazon, with the intention of mounting under the top louver.  I also bought an 8' extension cable to supplement the built-in 7' cable, but that still wasn't enough to reach all the way to louver.

My friend suggested a cleaner solution -- install it above the driver's side taillight in the fascia.  This completely hides the antenna and keeps it clear of the steel body in the same way that installing it on the louver would.  It will sit a bit lower, but it should be fine.

I ran the new antenna cable through the same hole on the driver's side that I ran the backup camera wiring through.  I couldn't reuse the original as it appeared to be directly connected to the power antenna.  Somewhat annoyingly, I needed the connector to be on the cabin side of the firewall, which meant that it would again be difficult to remove the rear fascia without pulling the cable back through the grommet.  Certainly possible, but a bit of a pain.

The antenna is amplified, which means it has a power connection.  I connected its positive wire to the same accessory-switched power wire I was using for the backup camera.  There's an optional ground wire (without it, the antenna cable itself is used for ground, I think), but connecting it didn't seem to have any effect on the quality of the radio signal, so I didn't bother.  A red LED lights on the antenna shows that the amplifier is on, but that's tough to see due to where I mounted it.

It was a little tough to test the signal strength of the antenna, since at this point the car is still in the garage.  It picked up a few stations, which is more than I can stay for the old now-permanently-retracted power antenna.  A proper test will have to wait until the car is on the road

I test again with the ground wire clipped to the stainless steel body, and the signal did indeed improve, so I wound up soldering that to the ground in on the passenger side tail light harness.

For mounting, the antenna included some very strong tape to secure it to a window, but I stuck it on top of space above the driver's side taillight.  I had to remove it at one point because the LED wasn't on (which meant that it didn't have power), which ruined the tap.  I  replaced it with equally strong 3M VHB tape.

While I was messing with this, I found that one of the wires had broken from the driver's side taillight, right at the connector.  I was able to bend that part of the pin back just enough that I could solder wire to it, which I think soldered to the original wire.  I ran a quick test of the lights, and everything was good.

The hidden antenna before installation. Its would be mounted just above the tail light, after running the wires through the driver's side behind the quarter panel. The red LED shows that it is powered and working.

The wiring runs through a hole in the firewall behind the passenger side of the parcel shelf, then through a hole in fascia backing to the antenna.

The repaired wire from the taillight connector.

Fixing the Power Antenna

After having to remove the rear fascia again, I decided to install an extension cable between the hidden antenna and the radio so that I wouldn’t have to snake it through the hole in the firewall again.  I don’t necessarily like the extra connections, but it was worth the convenience.

While I was doing this, I decided to pull out the power antenna, and discovered a second wire — the 12v meant to power the antenna.  At the end of that wire was half of an inline fuse holder.  I never did find the other half.  I wound up cutting the holder off and soldering a new one in its place, connecting it to an always-on 12v source.  The “always on” bit is to ensure that the antenna will go down when the car is turned off.  

A test showed the antenna to be working.  I did a signal strength test (again still in the garage) and found that he power antenna did work a bit better than the hidden antenna.  However, the Pionneer head unit allows the the power antenna wire to be used for an external amp power on signal as well.  This means that the antenna would be up any time the head unit was playing from any source, including Bluetooth or CarPlay.  I didn’t want that.

I installed a one foot extension from the back of the radio (yes, yet another connector) so that I could swap the antenna cables easily before I make my final decision.  I also installed a simple toggle switch on the power antenna signal line so that I could force it to stay in the down position when I wasn’t using it.

Mic

The mic is designed to be clipped onto the sun visor, but I wanted a cleaner installation.  For the time being I left it on the visor, but my eventual plan would involve mounting it somewhere to the dash.

Microphone temporarily clipped to the bottom of the binnacle while putting the interior back together.

Modifying the Stack Frame for the Head Unit

Now that everything was wired up, I had to figure out how to actually mount the radio in the center stack.  The original Craig radio was screwed in place through the knobs.   Ideally, you wouldn't butcher your center stack, and would buy a doubel-DIN from a third party, or a reproduction from DeLorean.  My center stack had already been modified for the single-DIN Sony head unit long ago, so I didn't feel bad about modifying it further.

My intention was to install the double-DIN unit in place of the center vents, and relocate the vents to the top of the dashboard.  My dashboard was cracked, so I had no problem cutting it up. My stack frame only had a thin piece of metal between radio and vents, which was simple to clip out with some dikes.

The hole was now much too big for the new radio.  The vents are much larger than the radio itself, and the single-DIN hole was cut to hold an installation cage that the radio would slide into.  Given the amount of space now present, I didn't think I could use a new double-DIN cage here.

It's also worth noting that this radio requires 5 cm of space above and below it, and some space behind it where its fan is.  There was plenty of room above and below where the climate controls are.  The back would be trickier, but we'll get to that later.

Building a Bracket

I decided that I'd mount the radio from the sides.  I could have used long screws, but I was worried that it wouldn't be secure and would warp the stack frame without something in between.  We had an idea of using plastic stock and shaving it down, but I didn't really like that.  I decided to weld up some brackets instead.

I bought a piece of slotted angle stock from Home Depot.  The slots were mostly so I didn't have to drill a bunch of holes.  I cut the stock into short pieces, then stripped off most of the angle, converting it into more of an "L" shape with one long leg and one short leg.  I overlapped two of these pieces with the short legs, creating a kind of "Z" shape, and tack-welded them together.  The zinc-coated steel made an interesting green flame and a left some residue behind, but the welds were fine.  I made one of these for each side, and painted them with POR-15, although spray paint would have been fine.

The brackets were the perfect sized and slipped right between the radio and the sides of the stack frame.    I wound up using an angle grinder to merge some of the slots to better line up with the holes in the side of the radio, and use the screws that came with the radio to secure it.

To mount the brackets to the stack frame, I drilled one hole through each side, and ran M6 bolts through them.  I elongated the holes into slots so that I could better align the radio with the hole in the front of the stack, and to make it more level.  Once tight enough, the head unit wouldn't tilt.  I made sure the unit was extended just far enough forwards that the trim plate would sit flush with the radio, and that the motorized face wouldn't get stuck on it.

The design of this bracket means that the only real way to remove the radio from he back of the stack frame, as the brackets won't fit through the front of the frame.  This isn't a big deal to me, since removing the center console is old hat now, and the stack can be disconnected and leaned forwards without having to remove all the climate controls.

Welding up the "Z" bracket from cut-down slotted angle stock.

The installed bracket, before cutting longer slots for extra adjustments.

A single bolt through each side holds the head unit and its brackets to the center stack.

The head unit positioned in the center stack.

Face Trim

With the radio positioned within the bracket, I needed a way to hide the ugly holes it was sitting in.  Rather than creating a plate from scratch, I bought a pre-cut double-DIN one from Amazon.  I cut the left and right sides down to be a bit wider than the stack frame, knowing that he center console would extend into it.  I also cut the bottom edge, but left the top edge alone for now, as I didn't quite know how far the center console extended.

To cut the plastic trim, I placed a straight edge (some metal scrap) along the plastic and clamped them together on my table.  Then I used a utility knife to repeatedly score the back of the plastic until I was at least half way through it, then slid it to the edge of the table and snapped it off.  I had a bit of an uneven edge on the first one, but I'd made it a little too wide and was able to sand it down.  The second edge was much better.

Fitting the Center Stack

And now the problems begin.  I was doing this work while I was replacing the A/C system and had the box out of the car, so I wasn't able to test fit.  With the A/C system compete, I was able to test fit the radio.

I had always planned on re-routing the center vents, but the AVH-2300 is much deeper than I expected -- so much so that the stack couldn't reach the screw holes to secure it to the dash.  I couldn't simply move the stack forwards, since then the center console wouldn't fit correctly.

After cursing at the car for a bit, I removed the four screws that secure the air distributor box to the evaporator box.  The distributor contains the center ducts, the passenger and driver ducts, and a duct that leads to the defrost duct.  What I needed to do was remove the center vents entirely.  I really didn't want to butcher the original box, so I decided to build my own.

So close, yet so far...

Designing a New Air Distribution Box

I came up with a new design for the box.  It would mostly match the old design, but the front would be flat, leaving plenty of room for the radio.  I first considered redirecting the center vents upward, with a kind of pod sitting on top of the dash for the vents.  In the end, I decided to go with knee pad vents.

The final box has only two ports, one on the driver’s side and one on the passenger side.  As mention above, the front vents are removed entirely, although I’d have a total of four vents in the knee pads, so the air flow should be similar.  The top duct is also removed.  The purpose of this duct is to redirect air from the defroster through the distribution box and out to the door vents, but I can live without those.  Also, I won’t be using the door vents anymore.  Finally, the vacuum actuator is no longer needed, as there is nothing to actuate.  I’d have to cap the vacuum line, but that’s about it.

Building the Box

I started building the box by tracing the mating side of the old box on a piece of plywood.  This piece would have the holes for the screws to attach it to the evaporator box, so it needed to be rigid.  I first tried cutting it out with a jigsaw, but the thin wood and the vibration from the blade broke it.  I tried again with a scroll saw, which worked much better.  I cut notches from the two passenger side screws and test fit it in the car before continuing.

To construct a box on top of this mating frame, I used hot glue and cardboard.  I simply cut strips of cardboard that were at least as thick as the ducts, then folded and glued it with a hot glue gun as I went.  It took only two strips to go all the way around the frame.  One final piece of cardboard covers the top of the box.

Before going any further, I test fit this in the car, and positioned the radio to make sure had enough clearance.  It worked perfectly.

For the outlets, I bought two Vintage Air 3” to 2.5” adaptors.  I traced the 3” side and a hole on each side of the box in about the same location as the door ducts are in the original box.  After cutting out roughly round holes, I glued the adaptors in place on the box.

The next step is fiberglassing the box.  This is my first glassing project, and for simplicity I used a repair kit meant for body work.  This included a piece of fiberglass cloth and a two-part resin.  If I had to do it again, I’d use chopped fiberglass mat, as the cloth is difficult to shape around corners and other complex shapes.  The end result wasn’t pretty, but is functional, and no one is going to see it anyway once it’s installed. The resin alone hardened the cardboard and sealed the wood enough that I probably didn’t even need the fiberglass other than to cover seams.

Once the resin dried, I poured some water into the box with water and found that it almost perfectly water-tight, save for one corner that dripped a little.  I spray painted it black for good measure, although no one would ever see it once the trim was back in place.

For the final installation, I bought a roll 3/16" foam insulation from Home Depot.  This has adhesive on one side and easy to bend around corners.  I stuck this to the back of my frame to ensure that there was a good seal to the evaporator box.  I wound up having to double up a bit to account for my poor fiberglassing job, but it worked just fine.

Sealing the Defrost Return Duct

As mentioned above, there's a duct that runs from the defroster and into the top of the the old air distribution box to provide defroster air to the doors.  I'm not using the door vents anymore, so I decided to simply cap this vent.  This duct is also 2.5".

I found that the cap to a spray can (brake cleaner or spray paint or something) was just about the right size.  I lined the inside with more of the foam insulation to ensure a tight fit.  Once capped, I wrapped it with electrical tape to hopefully keep it from slipping off.  It was pretty snug already, but I wanted to be sure. 

It was a bit of a pain to get it onto the duct with just one hand behind the dash, but I eventually got it. In retrospect, I should have removed the two screws hat hold the duct assembly to the evaporator box to the outside of the car, as this would have made it a lot simpler to install the cap.  Oh well.

The cap from a spray can of something, lined with adhesive-backed foam weather stripping material from Home Depot. I added more than this to ensure a good fit, then taped it in place on the defroster duct.

Knee Pad Vents

I wanted square ducts that were easily adjustable on two axes, but actually mountings them and finding something halfway decent looking seemed tricky.  In the end I decided to do what some other owners have done (but I can't find a link for anymore), and mount round vents into the knee pads.  I went with four 2000-2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse round vents, which I found for under $10 each on eBay.  These use the same 2.5” ducting as the original DeLorean setup, although I bought ten feet of new Vintage Air corrugated ducting for my install.  The vents also mount flush to the pad, which is a nice bonus.  I also bought two 2.5” “Y” adaptors, since I would need to run the duct from the distributor box to the first vent and then to the second vent.

The setup is pretty simple:  one vent in each of the driver’s side knee pads, and two vents in the passenger side one.  I bought a 2.5” hole saw and drilled the holes from the inside, stopping when I’d cut all the way through the wood or plastic material of the knee pad.  I then ran the saw a second time to cut out the foam, which was much easier than my first attempt of trying to cut it out with a knife.

The last cut is into the vinyl covering itself.  From the outside I used a knife to cut a plus shape into the vinyl.  I didn’t remove the vinyl — I just pushed the vent into the hole, allowing the vinyl to wrap inside.  The vent fit snuggly and firmly, and was clearly not going to fall out.  Since these vents can only open and close — they cannot angled — I rotated them a bit so that they were more likely to throw air at the person in the seat rather than blowing past them.

Power Outlets

Before I put the knee pads back in the car, I update some power outlets I had put in the driver’s side knee pad.  About 15 years ago I’d mounted there cigarette-style power conenctors with dedicated fuses.  I removed them and installed a single unit containing one such power outlet and two 2.1A USB ports.  This is connected to an extra fuse box behind the driver’s seat.  I didn’t need to make any changes to the passenger side, which already had a dual cigarette light and USB port setup.  Both of these are mounted on the bottom of the knee pads, so they’re generally out of sight.

Ducting

The 10 feet of 2.5” Vingage Air ducting was straight-forward enough to use.  It is a corrugated plastic tube that can be stretched and twisted around corners, and it can be compressed a little if you have to get it through a tight space.  I did the passenger knee pad first, since it was a single rigid piece.  A short bit of ducting connects the more central vent to a 2.5” “Y” adaptor, while a longer piece runs from the “Y” to the outer vent.  I found the ducting is bit tricky to get on.  It turned out that if you snip one of the stiff rings first, you can use that to start sliding it onto the duct.  The other rings then slip over and hold it in place.  It stays quite firmly on its own, although a moderate tug will cause it to pop off.  I was willing to take my chances for now and didn’t use any glue or tape or anything to secure it.

Passenger Side Mounting

On the passenger side, I realized I forgot to take into account the glove box when I’d tested the fit.  Luckily, this wasn't much of a problem -- I just had to use some longer ducting to the inner vent, and route it down below the back of knee pad a bit so that it cleared the glove box.  The ducting still compresses a little against the glove box, but it's flexible enough to handle that and it doesn't affect airflow.  I was able to hook up the ducting to the vents, "Y" adaptors and air distribution box before actually finally installing the knee pad itself.  Everything went pretty smoothly.  I reconnected the wires to the USB/cigarette power module and I was all set.

Driver's Side Mounting

For the driver’s side, I ran new Vintage Air ducting where the old “U” shaped rectangular duct went below the steering column, and secured with the original metal bracket.  The ducting is flexible enough that this wasn’t a problem at all.

I had enough duct left over that I was able to attach the outer knee pad's ducting, and then mount the duct onto its bracket.  This was pretty easy.

The inner knee pad was another story.  I was able to connect the ducting from the air distribution box to the "Y", and from the "Y" to the outer knee pad ducting, but when attached to the inner knee pad the "Y" interfered with access to the nuts needed to secure the knee pad to the bracket.  With all my fiddling I wound up dislodging the ducting from the vent.

At this time I found that one of the three usable knew pad studs was loose, so I took the whole pad out and glued the stud back in place with Gorilla Glue.  Once it was dry, I laid on my back under the dash, put on the knee pad nuts, and finally re-attached the ducting to the vent, and I was done.

Reinstalling the Center Stack and Center Console

Before I put the knee pads in, I finished setting up the center stack.  This is just the reverse of taking it apart, roughly in this order, which is from the longest wires to the shortest.

  • Connect the radio, including the harness, USB cable, mic, and power antenna,

  • Attach all the ground wires to bolt on the passenger side of the center stack.

  • Re-install the four panel illumination bulbs.

  • Mount the mode switch. It only goes in one way, and is held in place with a screw on the passenger side.

  • Mount the fan speed switch. This seems like it can go in a couple of ways, but it shuldn’t Matter since you can just rotate the knob before attaching it.

  • Re-install the headlight switch and hazard switch.

  • Position the center stack upright on the studs. Due to the depth of my radio, I had to position the radio under the dash, then slightly flex the bottom of the stack to fit over the studs. Make sure to run the three remaining builds through the rectangular opening below the dials.

  • Tilt the stack forwards and re-attach the vacuum hose cluster to the mode switch. It only goes on one way.

  • Mount the hot/cold dial, securing it with its nut and washer. The dial only mounts one way., and the short cable means this is one of the last things to install.

  • Screw the top of the stack into the dash with its two screws.

  • Re-install the remaining three bulbs into the climate control face plate.

  • Screw the face plate onto the stack.

Before re-installing the center console, I re-routed one of my ground bus connections a bit.  The connection to the harness ground was interfering with the switches, so I moved relocated it further along the bus and wrapped the exposed wire in self-fusing tape.

 

Moving the ground bus connection back fixed a problem with it interfering with the switch connectors.

 

After that, the center console goes back in:

  • Place the center console trim over the console, lining up the holes with the studs.

  • Make sure the harness wires are inside the "L" shaped brackets, with the holes that sit on the studs.

  • Reconnect the power window switches, defroster switch, dummy switches, and any other switches (heated seats, in my case). I somehow misplaced one of the

  • Reconnect the cigarette lighter, if you want. Mine had a broken wire, and I never use it anyway, so I left it disconnected.

  • Tighten down the nuts at the back of the console, and at the very front at the base of the center stack.

  • Make sure the bracket in front of the switches is in the correct orientation (ie: lines up with the screw holes in the center console), then tighten down the nuts its mounted on.

  • Install the sound isolator around the shifter.

  • Install cup holders, if you have them.

  • Slide the top of the shifter plate under the climate control front panel, then reconnect the dimmer rheostat and the clock, and finally lay the shifter plate down. You'll probably have to move the shifter to do this.

  • Push the shifter all the way forwards so that the slip piece will fit under the center console

  • Screw do shifter plate through the center console and into the bracket.

  • Install the shifter knob (spring, rod and bottom half, top half, and two screws).

  • Screw in the rear cubby thing.

  • Pop the ash tray back in.

That’s it — everything should be back in now.

The mazes that the "L" arm follows for the the headlight switch (left) and hazard switch (right), allowing the switch to lock into two or three positions.

Aside:  Headlight and Hazard Switch Operation

A small problem I had was that I had lost the hazard switch spring while diagnosing another issue and thinking the switch was to blame.  Luckily, I had an old headlight switch that I was able to scavenge a working spring from.  The mechanism for these switches is interesting, and I'm rather surprised it works.  An L-shaped metal arm navigates a maze in the side of the switch.  When you press the switch in, the arm slides up until it hits a stop, and releasing the button causes the spring to push it out and the arm sticks in the new part of the maze.  It feels like it should get stuck or fail, but it seems to work pretty well.

Unfortunately, my hazard switch is sticking.  One you press it in, it doesn't pop back out again on its own.  It's not a problem with the maze mentioned above, but that it seems the switch just isn't sliding back out properly.  You have to pull it out by the button.  This wouldn't be a problem if not for the fact that once the faceplate is installed, you can't get a grip on it to pull it out and have to pry it out with something.  Since I rarely use the hazard switch, this shouldn't be a huge problem, for now...

 

Cutting the Double Din Trim

The last bit for the radio is a nice trim piece.  I bought a plastic trim piece on Amazon for under $10 specifically for this purpose.  The center was exactly the size of the radio; I just had to cut the edges to fit the center console trim.

I used the “score and snap” method to cut the plastic.  I laid down a straight edge, then pulled a utility knife along the edge repeatedly.  Once it was worn through enough, I simply snapped it off on the edge of my work bench.

I did the top, right and left sides first, as they would be partly covered by the center console trim and would mask my mistakes, which I did make.  Luckily they weren’t too bad.

For the bottom edge, I needed a perfect cut.

…to be continued. While it sounds like I did everything right with the trim, I actually ruined two of them because I didn’t cut through hard enough with the utility knife before trying to snap them. Haven’t had time to get back to it while I try to get the car to actually start. I’l update once I’ve got that out of the way.

Horrible Squeaking Sound

Joe Angell

At this point these posts get a bit out of order.  Future posts will cover some other tasks I've done, such as:

  • Converting the entire A/C system over to R134
  • Re-installing the interior and trim
  • Installing a double-DIN head unit
  • Initial ignition and idle tests

Basically, I started re-installing the interior, then decided to do an A/C system overhaul with an R134a conversion.  While I was I had the center stack out, I decided this would be a good time to install a new radio and redirect the center vents.  I had also begun doing ignition and idle tests on the engine.

I'm still working on the radio bit, but decided to get the engine running first.  My initial tests a few months ago had the engine running but idling very rough.  After the A/C conversion, cranking the engine made a horribly, loud squeaking sound.

To be clear, nothing in the A/C conversion touched the engine.  I didn't even crank it.  All I did was mount the compressor to it.  The car was raised and lowered a few times, but that's it.

This squeaky sound is completely new.  I have no idea how it could have started.  Here's what it sounds like.  I quickly ruled out the belt by removing it (the alternator squeaks a little, but a brand new one was $80, so I replaced it).  The initial guess was the flex plate or torque converter bolts scraping against something.

Unfortunately, that wasn't it.  While looking through the inspection hole in the transmission while cranking, we (myself and my friend Dave, an actual mechanic) noticed this.

The flex plate appears to be wobbling.  This is bad.  I don't recall it doing that before, but I didn't look specifically for that either.

We needed to inspect the flex plate.  And that meant pulling the engine.

Leaving the Transmission in the Car

Dave suggested we leave the transmission in the car.  If I was on my own, I would have removed it, but he was confident that it wouldn't be too hard to get back in.  Removing the transmission would have required detaching:

  • Shifter linkage
  • Handbrake cable to passenger side rear wheel, which means taking off the rear wheel and some other brake parts, if I remember correctly
  • Transaxles
  • Mounting bolts (which we did loosen to simplify raising just the engine)
  • Transmission cooler lines
  • More of the coolant hoses

The catch is that it's trickier to mate the engine and transmission again, since you have to do it from an engine hoist.  It's possible, though, so we're going to try it.

Pulling the Engine

I've already covered removing the engine in detail previously, so I'll just outline it here:

  • Remove the engine cover, which is two nuts on each hinge and two bolts in the center.
  • Remove the louvers, which is two nuts on each hinge and popping off the lift pistons.  I also had to unplug my high-center stop light.
  • Remove the rear fascia and wiring.  This also required adding connectors to some new wires I'd run.  In my haste, I accidentally cut the video wire to the newly-installed backup camera, but luckily it's a detachable cable the tis easily replaceable.  The amplified antenna was a bit more annoying, in that the connector wasn't nearby, so we left it plugged in, with enough slack that we could rest the fascia over the driver's side door.  The backup sensor wiring and taillight harness were disconnected as well.
  • Disconnect the vacuum lines from the vacuum canister to the engine, from the engine to the transmission, and from the engine to the climate controls.
  • Disconnect the MAP vacuum line.  We managed to damage this while removing the engine, so I have to re-run it, but that's pretty easy.
  • Disconnect the throttle cables.  These simply clip in place on the Mustang throttles I have, and the brackets are held on with two bolts, so that wasn't problem.
  • Disconnect the engine harness, which is four of the bulkhead connectors and a headphone-style cable for the RPM output.
  • Drain the engine of coolant, which this time we did from the drain plugs on either side of the block, just above the oil filter.
  • Disconnect the coolant hoses from the water pump
  • Unbolt the A/C compressor and hang it away from the engine.  The A/C system is at vacuum, so I didn't want to open it to air and ruin the accumulator before I'd even filled it.
  • Disconnect my ground bus from the engine.
  • Disconnect the kick automatic transmission kick-down switch.
  • Disconnect the heater hoses from the back of the engine
  • Remove the starter
  • Disconnect power from the alternator.  We actually removed the alternator, since I needed to replace it anyway.
  • Disconnect the fuel feed and return lines.

Now for the new bits.

Since we were going to separate the engine and transmission while still in the car, we removed the motor mounts themselves at the subframe, rather than loosening the engine itself from the mounts.  This gave us the front-to-back play we needed to get the engine and transmission apart.  Each mount is held to the subframe with two bolts, and a ground wire is on the passenger side mount.

From behind the car, we used a very long socket extension to remove each of the three torque converter bolts.  We had to hand rotate the engine to get access to each bolt.

From under the car, we undid the bottom two transmission mating bolts with a 17mm socket.

At this point we attached the engine hoist and leveler.  Most of the engine's weight is behind subframe, so removing those last two bolts might well cause it to fall.  This engine still only has three lift rings, so we just used three chains for now.  We found that the chain from the forward driver's side of the engine interfered with the fuel fitting on the feed side of the fuel rails, so we removed that fitting as well.  We then put tension on the hoist until were sure the engine wouldn't fall.

With the engine lifted, we placed a floor jack under the transmission to keep it from dropping after it was disconnected it from the engine.  From above, we removed the final two mating bolts, leaning over the car from the passenger side to reach them.

Although no longer bolted together, the torque converter was firmly attached to the flex plate via the center hub.  We careful separated them with a pry bar.  The torque converter came forward a bit more than we wanted, but the engine and transmission separated cleanly.  Later, when we had the engine clear of the car, we were able to push the torque converter back in place without leaking too much transmission fluid onto the floor.

Hoisting the engine out, after disconnecting it from the transmission.

The separated transmission resting against the edge of the engine subframe.

The engine resting on some blocks on the bumper while we removed the flex plate and checked it.

The new rear main seal around the transmission take-off on the back of the engine.

Checking the Flex Plate

At this point we realized that we didn't extend the engine hoist's arm enough, and we couldn't actually lift the engine out of the car by a matter of inches.  We could turn the engine around and remove the flex plate, though.  All the seven bolts were seated properly, and the retaining plates seemed to be in good condition, and flat to the plate.

We needed to see if the flex plate itself was flat.  We laid it down on the piece of sheet metal I use to protect my wooden workbench while welding, and found that it sat flat, which meant the ring gear wasn't damaged.  It was possible that the center of the plate was warped, so we used calipers to measuring the height of the central rim relative to the table.  Again, there was no visible deviation from flat.

At this point we tried rotating the engine again by hand, and it made continued to make the squeaking sound.  It was also very, very hard to turn, much harder than it should be (I don't have intuition for this, but Dave does, since he works on a cars for a living).  I'm fairly sure this was harder than it was in the past -- there's always a point where it's a little tough to turn, but that's due to the cylinders compressing the air under the cylinder head, not a problem with the engine.  This was different, and of course had the squeaking sound associated with it.

We re-installed the flex plate, and looked at the engine edge-on.  We now noticed a very, very slight tilt to the plate, consistent with what we saw from the inspection hole while lying under the car.

We wanted to measure that deflection at the engine take-off.  The rubber seal made it heard to measure directly, so we bolted a wide fender washer onto transmission take-off on the engine.  The idea here was that we could rotate the engine and measure the deviation between the washer and the block with calipers.

Along with the loud squeaking as the engine turned, we found a roughly 0.26mm deflection on the crank.  It should be basically perfectly vertical.  This was a problem.

Notice the cap between the top pair of arrows and the bottom.  This is the title of the flex plate we were seeing.

So, what is it?

The best guesses at this point were:

  • Bent crankshaft.  This seems highly unlikely due to the sheer mass of the steel involved, and the high temperatures needed to soften it.  It might have happened if the car had been overheated enough by the previous owner to soften the metal, but this was still extremely unlikely.
  • A spun bearing towards the rear of the engine.
  • There is something scraping inside the engine, but it is otherwise fine and the both flex plates are actually bent.

A new engine is $250 plus another $250 in shipping, a $300 gasket kit, and probably 200 to rent a pickup truck to get it to my garage -- so, around $1000.  Any decisions to repair it are in light of this cost.

If it's the crank, we're just replacing the engine.

If it's the bearings, we might be able to repair it., if we can find some bearings for it, but this is moot if the block or crank were damaged by the failed bearings.  Since the engine was only cracked a few dozen times, we might be OK, but we won't know until we disassemble it.

Getting the Engine All The Way Out

To completely remove the engine, I needed to extend the hoist or lower the car.  We went with the second one.

First we lowered the engine back onto the subframe.  Dave held the engine back while I took the weight off the hoist and slid the arm forwards to the 1 Ton position, then took the weight back on it.  We were now able to lift the engine completely clear of the body.  The only problem I had then was that I kept forgetting about the garage door and raised the hoist into it a few times.

The car was sitting in roughly the middle of the garage, and we need a place to put the engine down, which meant pushing the car all the way to the back of the garage.  This required getting the car down off the pallets I use to raise it up.  This is somewhat tricky, since I can't easily get the jack to the passenger side of the garage (there's a wall there), and the engine hoist is in the way of jacking it from the subframe.

We did eventually roll the jack under the side of the car, rolling it back until it was positioned between the legs of the hoist.  We were then able to jack the car from the subframe, remove the pallets, and lower it to the ground.  We then lifted the jack out (it wouldn't fit under the frame anymore) so that we could slide it under the front of the car.  After removing the forward pallets, we were able to easily roll the car right up to the front wall and chock the wheels.  This also gave us a lot of room to work behind the car, and, if necessary, to maneuver a second engine in with a pickup truck.

 

The engine fully removed from he car, temporarily resting on some pallets while we get the engine stand set up.

 

Lower Crankcase Disassembly

With the engine clear, we mounted it on the engine stand and prepared for disassembly.  This started with draining the oil, which was just a matter of loosening the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan.  While the 2.8L pan normally requires a square drive to remove the plug, mine had been updated to a more common hex head plug.

Next we flipped the engine over, and remembered that it only has four mounting holes for the engine stand -- the same four used for the transmission.  The issue here is that two of those are on the lower crankcase, and we were taking that out.  We unbolted those, leaving just two bolts holding the engine up.  Dave was a bit wary of this, so we wedged a block of wood under the engine to reduce the load on the remaining two bolts.

Next we took off all of the stuff I took off when I did my original swap:

  • Oil pan:  22 bolts ringing the pan.  Once removed, Dave was able to shock the pan free from the gasket, which looks pristine and likely can be reused.
  • Oil pickup and spacer:  Just a few bolts here.  The spacer is from the 2.8L, and is important to re-install it when using the 2.8L oil pan, or the pickup may not reach the oil.  The 3.0L does not have a spacer for its shallower pan.
  • Lower Crankcase:  a series of large nuts have to be removed, and then a tap with a mallet to break the seal to the upper crankcase.  There are also two smaller nuts on the rear main seal carrier that need to be removed.  While the timing cover overlaps it a bit, we didn't want to remove it yet and were able to work around it.

The Source of the Squeak

With the lower crankcase off, we immediately saw the problem -- the engine was bone dry.  Now, we drained all of the oil from the engine, so there was definitely oil in it.  It appeared that none of that oil was making it's way to the rest of the engine.  This implied a failure of the oil pump.

Dave removed the main bearing carriers (caps) and inspected the bearings for damage.  While they did have some minor scratches, the crank appeared to be intact.  This likely meant that we could replace the bearings and save the engine.

Dave added some oil between the bearings, re-assembled the carriers and bolted back on the lower crankcase.  He also sprayed some WD40 into the oil filler area to lubricate the cams a bit.  We then turned the engine by hand and found that it rotated far easier than before, and with no squeaking.

The oil pan, oil baffle and oil pickup removed, revealing the lower crankcase and the crank behind it.

Without the lower crankcase, it's clear to see that the engine is completely dry.  This easily explains the loud squeaking -- there was no lubrication.

The sparkles in the oil suggest metal shavings, which appear to be from the bearings.

The baffle and pan soaked with oil, proving that there was oil in the engine -- it just wasn't moving out of the pan.

All of the oil removed from the engine.

Why the Oil Pump?

So that was it -- the oil pump wasn't working properly.  Of course, the pump is basically unobtainable without getting a new engine, but luckily dn010 on DMCTalk had a spare.  Repairing the pump requires removing the timing cover, which means main crank nut, the pulley, the A/C belt guide wheels, and the valve covers so that we can finally get the timing cover free.

dn010 noted that the 2.8L oil pump is not compatible with the 3.0L engine.  I had forgotten that I'd broken a bolt in the 3.0L pump and used the 2.8L one instead -- this was likely my problem.  The only obvious difference between the two pumps is that the gear on the 2.8L pump is a bit shorter than the one in the 3.0L.  I'm surprised that this would make a difference, but at this point I can't think of anything else that would have caused the issue.

Replacing the Oil Pump

To get to the oil pump, we had to take off the timing cover, which means taking off the main crank pulley.  I'd used blue Locktite when I assembled it last time, so the pulley nut wasn't nearly as impossible to get off as it was before.  We avoided removing the valve covers, but did have to remove the two bolts on the ends, since they screw into the cover.  With all of the bolts out, a shock with a rubber mallet cleanly separated the timing cover without damaging the valve cover gaskets.  This likely only worked because these gaskets were brand new.

I bought a NOS 3.0L gasket set from eBay.  It was an HS33440 head gasket set, which is a third party set made for this engine, and was only $30 from the seller.  Full gasket sets are also available from DPI, and most of the gaskets can also be found at RockAuto.  In the end I only needed the timing cover gasket, but having the others wasn’t a bad thing.

Three bolts hold the oil pump in place; they were easily removed.  I had to swap the spring, piston and cap from my 2.8L oil pump to the 3.0L one, since dn010 had removed his bad spring previously.  Luckily, those parts are cross-compatible.  We just needed a new cotter pin to hold the swapped parts in place.

We did some more work with the engine bearings (detailed below), but before mounting the pump Dave packed the cavity behind it with Vaseline to create a seal to ensure that would create some extra suction and actually pick up some oil, just to be sure.  We then bolted back on the sprocket and chain, and were good to go.

The upside down engine with the timing cover removed.  The oil pump is still mounted behind its sprocket.

The disassembled oil pump.  The spring, piston and cap where transferred from the 2.8L pump tot he 3.0L pump, and a new cotter pin was used to hold it all together.

This shows the 2.8L pump and the 3.0L gear that is in the engine.  The 3.0L pump's gear is about the same size.  It's a small difference in length, but apparently an important difference.

The length of the 2.8L gear, about 1 3/16".

The length of the 3.0L gear, about 1 7/16" (photo by dn010).

Checking the Bearings

The bad squeaking sound was coming from the crank coming in contact with the bearings.  Normally there's a thin layer of oil between them, but without a working oil pump the oil drained away and the metal parts came in contact with each other.  We needed to know how bad the damage was.

There are two sets of bearings we're worried about: the main crankshaft bearings and the connecting rod bearings.  Both come in two halves, with the most accessible half mounted in the bearing caps.  The nuts for the crank bearing caps were already removed -- these are the same nuts that secure the lower crankcase to the reset of the engine.  These caps slidi upwards without too much trouble.  The connecting rod caps require removing two more bolts each to get to them.

The crank bearings were indeed scratched, although not badly.  They didn't pass the "fingernail test", though, which is where you drag your fingernail along the surface and see if it catches.  If it doesn't, you're probably good. I  probably could have reused mine, but if I could get replacements, I would.

Which was the current problem — some searching online found that no one carried these parts.  None of the local auto parts stores had them either.

I had exactly one 2.8L main crankshaft bearing cap left, with the bearing intact.  I decided to test them against the 3.0L bearings, and it turns out they were a perfect match.  I was able to insert a 2.8L bearing into a 3.0L cap, and it fit exactly.  The DeLorean vendors stock main bearings, so I could just order a set from them. 

The connecting rod bearings are another story.  This seems to be due to how the 3.0L engine is even fire, while the 2.8L is odd fire.  Normally, a V6 has 120 degree offsets to be even fire, but the PRV was intended to be a V8, and is only 90 degrees offset.  When the fuel crisis hit in the late 1970s, they changed the design by removing two cylinders.

To make the engine even fire again, the 3.0L uses split journals.  The relevant journals here are the shiny bits where the connecting rods mate to the crankshaft (as opposed to the shiny bits where the crank is held in place in the block by the main bearings).  By splitting the journals, the firing of the engine can be offset as though this was a 120 degree engine design, resuliting in an even fire engine.  These pictures show the two cranks.

A 2.8L crank.  Notice the journals are uniform (photo from the store.delorean.com).

A 3.0L crank.  Notice that he journals are split, thus allowing for even firing (photo from eBay).

It might even be possible to make a 2.8L engine even fire by replacing the crank and connecting rods, but I doubt anyone has tried that before.

While DeLorean vendors carry the 2.8L connecting rod bearings, no one carries the 3.0L ones.  I did get a set of 2.8L to try, along with main bearings from PJ Grady, but the connecting rod bearings of the 2.8L were too small and wouldn’t fit  Luckily, the connecting bearings weren’t as scratched as the main bearings and we were able to reuse them.

Dave carefully removed the timing chains from the crank without dropping them from the cam sprockets, since we really didn’t want to retime the engine.  Removing the tensioners wound up being the easiest way to do this.  We also had to search a bit for the crankshaft key, which fell out when we were playing with the sprockets on the end of the crank.

With the crankshaft free, Dave used pry bars on each end to raise the it just an inch or so.  He was then able to use picks to slide the main bearings out of the engine block and insert the new ones.  He applied assembly lube before re-installing the bearings.

Dave also checked all the connecting rod bearings for completeness.  About half of them were easily accessible, but the engine had to be rotated for the other half.  This meant lowering the crank back into the engine, bolting on the lower crankcase, rotating the engine, and then taking it all off again.  After lubricating the connecting rod bearings, he re-assembled them again.

The rearmost carrier removed.  Marks can be seen on the bearing being held on the right of the frame, but the crank itself looks good.

A look at another one of the bearings, showing scratches from running without lubrication.

Reassembling the Engine

The engine went back together as before:  The timing chains were re-mounted, and the tensioners re-installed.  As before, as small screwdriver was used to unlock the tensioner via its screw so that it would move freely for installation.  After that, a bead of anaerobic sealer was applied to the lower crankcase mating surface, and the lower crankcase was mounted and torqued down to 22 ft lbs plus 75 degrees. New O-rings (three total) were installed on the oil pickup, and it and its baffle were bolted down.  We then scrapped off any residue from the lower crankcase before re-mounting the oil pan with the original gasket (since it was in perfect condition) to the bottom of the engine.

The next piece was the time timing cover. The mating surfaces were cleaned with razor blades, then a a bead of Permatex The Right Stuff (black this time; I couldn’t find any grey) was applied to both, the gaskets put in place, and the cover bolted on.  We were careful to align the top of the cover to the value cover gasket to avoid damaging it, since we didn’t want to take the covers off if we didn’t have to.

Finally, the main crank pulley was re-installed (with blue LockTite), along with the idler pulleys for the A/C compressor.  We used two bolts in the flex plate mounting holes and a pry bar to hold the engine for the main crank pulley.  The idler pulleys easily bolted back onto the timing cover.

That was that.  Now it just had to go back in the car.

Diagnosing the Flex Plate Wobble

By this time, we had figured out why the flex plate was wobbling.  We started by measuring it for deflection on and off the engine.  We did a lot of this before replacing the bearings, since we needed to know if it was the engine that needed to be replaced or the plate.

Measuring Flex Plate Tilt

We had already confirmed that the flex plate was flat, so we decided to re-measure the transmission take-off hub.  We first removed the Allen bolts holding the rear main seal in place.  This gave us a way to rest the calipers against the block while measuring the surface of the hub.

Eyeballing Test: Marked Stick

To measure, we simply marked the calipers with a sharpie at the height of the hub, then rotated the engine.  While holding the calipers in place, I watched to see if there was any deviation from the line.  This is a crude eyeballing test, but it showed no deflection of any kind.

We did a second test higher up, and again found no offset.

Eyeballing Test:  Flex Plate Deviation

We knew the flex plate wasn't vertical, so we mounted it a second time and ran spun the engine.  It was very clearly tilted relative to vertical. We marked the high point and the low point, and were surprised that they were not opposite each other.  If the high point was at noon, the low point was reached at 3 o'clock, and stayed low until about 9 o'clock.

I have a second flex plate that I bent when trying to remove the main crank nut.  There's a small warp around one of the holes where I had inserted a screwdriver to lock it against the engine, but otherwise it was in good shape.  Since the flex plate can only mount in one orientation due to the uneven spacing of the seven bolt holes, we decided to mount it on the engine and do the test again.  The idea is that if the deflection is in the same place, it's likely that the neither flex plate is warped.

We found the exact same deflection -- low from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock, with a high point at noon.

We couldn't figure out why we saw this deviation at the flex plate but not the hub.  It was very strange.  We decided we needed to do some more accurate tests.

Dial Indicator Test

This caliper test is crude and wasn't telling us anything, so we came back with a dial indicator and repeated the test.  There was a deviation of about 1/10000th of an inch.  The engine was good -- it was definitely the plate.

Getting a New Flex Plate

Dave tested both plates on a tire balancer, and found that both were indeed bent.  Rob Grady was got me a bit of a deal on a NOS flex plate that was actually straight.  It was just a matter of mounting it.

Dial indicator test to ensure that the end of the crank is indeed flat.

Replacing a Core Plug

When I got the engine, it had a bad core plug.  I couldn't find a replacement (they were all too small or too large), so I used one of those rubber ones. I never liked this idea, so we decided to do something more proper.

I had a bench grinder now, so we took one of the oversized core plugs and carefully ground it down, almost letting the grinder rotate it around.  This wound up working perfectly -- the final plug was just the right size.  We used a socket as a striking surface to hammer the plug into place, then tapped around the edges until it was flush with the block. A bit of Indian Head gasket shellac ensured a good seal.

Grinding the slightly oversized plug down to fit the block.

The edges of the ground plug.

Hammering the plug in place with a socket as a striking surface.

The final installed plug.

Re-installing the Engine

This is pretty well defined, but with the complication that the transmission was already in the car.  First, we got the engine on the hoist (again using only three of the four mounting points, as one of my rings was missing), then lowered it onto a wooden pallet before re-mounting the flex plate, just to get easier access.  The flex plate went on fairly easily, once we remembered which was was "out" and got the spacers aligned.  I used new flex plate bolts to replace the one I had previously damaged, plus blue LockTite for good measure.

Next we jacked up the back of the car, and partially closed the garage door so that he engine hoist would clear it.  Dave covered the hub of the torque converter with anti-seize so that it wouldn't bind if we ever had to separate the engine and transmission again.  We also slide a jack under the side of the car and under the transmission, jacking it up slightly for alignment with the engine.  After raising the engine back in the air, we carefully lowered it into position in the engine bay.

Dave didn't have much trouble lining the engine up.  We lowered the engine and then the transmission until they were pretty much lined up, then I pushed the engine forward to tilt it up a bit while Dave screwed in the top bolts.  He was able to get in one of the bottom bolts, but the other one was damaged.  I ordered two replacements from McMaster Carr, a 50mm long M10 x 1.5. Steel, not stainless -- I wanted the extra strength here more than the corrosion resistance.  A 17mm socket tighten the bolts.

With a bit of work on the engine hoist, Dave was able to get the engine mounts re-installed to the subframe, and the engine was secured to the car.  We then just tightened down the transmission mounts and we were good to go.

With the bell housing mated to the block, Dave rotated the engine until a flex plate bolt hole lined up with the access, then rotated the torque converter with a screw driver through the hole until it lined up with the plate.  After installing the first bolt, he rotated the engine to the next position.  Unfortunately, he hit a problem I had -- if the bolts aren't all the way flush, they'll snag on the engine as they rotate.  After some fiddling and reaching with a wrench, he get them all seated and the engine and transmission turned freely.

We did have a minor incident.  I had left the battery connected from my work with the radio, and had forgotten to disconnect it.  At one point the engine pinched the main wire to the starter motor and arced to the block, melting the insulation and releasing a trial of smoke.  I quickly disconnected the battery, but the damage was superficial, and some red electrical tape sealed the wire and we were back to work.

The engine lowered back into the engine bay.  The flex plate can be seen as the engine isn't yet aligned to the transmission.

Almost mated, just a bit more to go to align it.

Engine and transmission mated together.

Re-installing Engine Accessories

This has been outlined elsewhere on this site, so I'll just sum it up:

  • Re-install the starter and its shims.
  • Vacuum hose to the MAP sensor in the MegaSquirt.
  • Vacuum lines from the throttle body to the brake booster, transmission and climate controls.  We replaced the series of adaptors with a new 90 degree reduce hose from NAPA, which should provide a more reliable seal.
  • Reconnect the coolant lines to the water pump, as well as the self-bleeder.
  • Reconnect the header core hoses.
  • Re-install the headers
  • Re-install the oil dipstick.
  • Fuel feed and return lines.
  • Re-install the spark plugs.
  • Re-install the coolant drain plugs with new crush washers.
  • Reconnect the electrical wiring.
  • Re-install the muffler.
  • Refill with oil (6.75 quarts).
  • Refill with coolant (2.8 gallons).
  • Reconnect the battery.

Alternator Mounting Issues

We hit a snag with the alternator.  The old one was squeaking a bit, so I bought a replacement Monaco one.  Unfortunately, the mounting hole wasn't where we needed it to be.  Since I'd bought this three months ago, I no longer had a receipt or the original box to return it.  Instead, Dave took the old alternator to the shop he works and and used an impact wrench to break the pulley bolt free, removed the pulley swapped the end of the new alternator case for the old one and re-assembled them, giving us a good, mountable alternator once more.

A secondary problem was that the the battery post is much shorter on the Monaco alternator, which makes it hard to fit the connectors for the two battery cables onto it.  We got around this by cutting off ends of the cables and putting them both into a single connector.  As with the ground wire, we filled it with a lot of solder that we melted with a a MAP torch, then wrapped the exposed areas with red electrical tape.

I pinged Josh and found that the proper alternator is from a 93-95 3.4L Camero or Firebird.  A quick check of RockAuto shows that this indeed appears to have the same mounting setup as the DeLorean.  I have this one working now, but if I need a new one, I'll know what to get.

The modified alternator installed on the engine.

The modified battery cables jointed with a single connector on the alternator.

Turning the Engine

We spun the starter, and the engine turned over.  The oil pressure gauge moved (and went vertical -- apparently it's not compatible with the DeLorean's stock oil gauge).

Now back to actually trying to start the car.   

Building an Exhaust System

Joe Angell

After waiting too long for a muffler, I decided to build my own using off-the-shelf parts, with minimal welding and no bending, with the end goal being to have as quiet of an exhaust as I could make... within the bounds of every aftermarket part being labeled "performance", that is.  It came out pretty good, but I have yet to hear what it sounds like...

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Spark Plugs and Removing Old Wiring

Joe Angell

Now on to the electrical modifications.  The spark plugs go in pretty easy, and the coil-on-plug system fits just like the spark plug boots normally would.  Before I could go any further than that, I would have to remove the old engine ECUs and related wiring to get ready for the MegaSquirt installation.

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3.0L Vacuum Routing

Joe Angell

Vacuum routing on the 3.0L engine is simpler than on the 2.8L engine.  In part this is because I removed the charcoal canister, so I no longer have a vapor recovery system (although I may add one later).  I needed to hook up four things: the climate control vacuum reservoir, the automatic transmission vacuum modulator, the brake booster, and the MegaSquirt MAP sensor.

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Removing the Center Armrest

Joe Angell

In order to pull the old ECU wiring, I needed to get under the center arm rest.  This isn't particularly hard; it's mostly an issue of finding all the bolts, disconnecting all the wires, and making sure to move the harnesses away from the sides of the armrest before lifting it out.

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Replacing the Door Struts

Joe Angell

The door struts are really easy to replace, but I spent a surprising amount of time trying to get the clip into the bottom of the strut in until I finally rotated it to point away from the car.  After that the top end went on pretty easy.  If not for that bit of trouble, this would have taken just a few minutes.

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Reinstalling the Engine and Transmission

Joe Angell

With the bottom of the engine swapped out and the top of the engine cleaned up, it now had to go into the car.  Overall this wasn't too complex, beyond the trick of getting the transmission aligned with its mounts.  It went pretty smoothly all told.

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EFI Fuel Lines and Injectors

Joe Angell

The fuel system was fairly easy to install.  After relocating the fuel filter to the engine bay, I put the new fuel injectors into the fuel rails and mounted them back on the intake manifold, and installed that back on the engine.  I built two new stainless fuel lines with AN-6 connectors to run from the rails to the existing hardlines in the car.

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Boxes of EFI Parts

Joe Angell

Right about the time I needed to figure out all the EFI hardware, Josh on DMCTalk.org just happened to be upgrading his 3.0L engine to an even larger one, and put all of his 3.0L conversion hardware up for sale.  I bought everything that would aid in getting my 3.0L engine up and running.

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Relocating the Fuel Filter

Joe Angell

In it's stock location, the DeLorean's fuel filter is not the easiest thing to get to, especially when rusted hardware is involved.  I decided to relocate mine to the engine bay to make it easier to access, building new AN-style fuel hoses that would easily interface with my in-progress 3.0L EFI system.  This also introduced me to rivnuts, a tool that makes it easy to add blind bolt holes.

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Replacing a Broken Automatic Transmission Dipstick Tube

Joe Angell

I snapped off my automatic transmission's dipstick tube when reinstalling the engine and transmission into the car.  Replacing it isn't too bad, and only requires a couple of bolts once you've raised the car and drained the transmission.  Well, except for the fact that I stripped the bolt hole that holds the tube to the transmission thus requiring that I repair it first.

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Rust and Holes in the Frame

Joe Angell

While removing my engine, I noticed some surface rust.  I soon found that a few points weren't just surface rust -- chipping away reveled a large hole on each side of the frame under the lower link arms.  There was also rust inside some of the frame members, but the holes were what really concerned me.  That meant welding clean metal over them, treating the metal, painting with POR-15, priming, and finally painting with a final coat of grey.

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Engine Compression Test

Joe Angell

I didn't want to take the engine back out of the car once I got it in there, so before I went any further I decided to make sure the engine compression was good.  This meant mating the engine and transmission so that I could use the starter to turn the engine, and learning how to use my previously-purchased but never before needed compression test kit.

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