Chronicles/ DIY

Rough cold start idle, random lean condition, wet-fouled plugs

posted Nov 9, 2012, 1:40 PM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Feb 10, 2013, 10:01 PM ]

After the motor swap I had been experiencing some weird conditions that I was hoping were just part of the nature of having a super aggressive cam in a built motor. I even took it to a mechanic who simply cleaned off my fouled spark plugs, checked the ignition timing, and gave it back to me claiming everything was "fine" (this is exactly why I avoid going to a mechanic).

After I sent my injectors off to Witchunter Performance to be rebuilt, the idle was slightly better but I would still end up with wet-fouled plugs after about 50-100 miles (less when in town). I also still saw intermittent lean conditions on my wideband along with the same, albeit less noticeable, rough idle.

I tested the ignition switch by jumpering the starter to the battery, no improvement.
I tested the WOT and idle switches: fine.
I tested the ECU CTS: within ohm specs.
I tested the ISV: holds air and hums when powered.
My CO Pot is adjusted correctly
Static timing should be right (after dozens of times checking it during this process).

After some research, I settled on a plugged cat or a weak coil being the most likely candidates/ the easiest to solve. I got a Bosch replacement coil and threw it in.

The coil was kinda tricky to remove and required removing the boost pipe from the throttle body and also disconnecting the ISV hose from the same pipe to allow clearance to get the coil out. I ended up dropping and losing the lower nut for the coil bracket, so I put a rivnut on the bottom hole so I can screw and unscrew the bottom of the bracket blindly. I left the top one alone since I have to put a ground strap connector under that bolt.
So far the warm up process is much more gentle, rising gradually from 12.1:1 to 14.7:1 as the idle settles. I caught a few blips of 15.0:1 but I will only start hunting AFRs down again if it jumps to 16:1 -18:1 on a cold start and the plugs are again fouled.

Pictured below is the new Bosch coil with some... decoration.

This did not completely solve the problem. I ended up screwing in the idle screw tighter and adjusting the ignition timing a bit and while the idle is pretty high (1050 RPM) the AFR is very stable, floats down rather than up when it blips, and the car starts beautifully when warm or cold.

G60 Stage 5

posted Oct 6, 2012, 10:37 PM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Oct 6, 2012, 11:13 PM ]

I just got finished putting in a built PG block with all the goodies. Here is the breakdown:
-1.9L w/ 9:1 compression ratio
-ARP Hardware (Head and Rod)
-83mm JE Forged Pistons
-Port/Polished Head
-2.0l ABA Valves
-Port /Polished intake manifold (Cut and welded)
-Schrick 268/276 Cam
-#42 injectors w/ 3.0bar FPR

-Brospeed header
-Carbon canister delete
-70mm Spoonfed Tuning lip and lip reinforcement bracket
-Schrick aluminum oil pan
-New timing belt and tensioner
-TT adjustable cam sprocket
-New idle pulleys/ rollers
-Metal serpentine belt tensioner bushings
-External Mocal thermostatic oil cooler

The process was as straightforward as it could have been except for a few issues with used parts that needed to be remedied. I ended up having the injectors balanced at Witchhunter Performance and replacing the power steering pump and fluid, which I will likely cover in another post. Here are some photos:

The block came with a green powder coated valve cover. I opted to keep my wrinkle coated one that matched the rest of my bay. Pictured above is the uninstalled 1.9L block.

Old motor out.

New motor going in.

You can see the red ceramic coated intake manifold in the above 3 photos.

Power steering pump and rebuilt injectors being installed. I decided to do those after everything else was in and tested.

Victory beers (German).

Washed, shined, and at home.

Fuel injector wiring loom

posted Feb 13, 2012, 8:46 AM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Feb 18, 2012, 7:02 PM ]

The fuel injector harnesses in the G60 are notorious for corroding and shorting out, possibly providing the ignition source for a car fire. The heat trapped in the manifolds that house the leads to the injectors slowly dries the wire insulation and causes it to crack, leaving the copper wires exposed to the elements and the chassis/ground. I decided to repair the badly damaged wires by cutting out all of the wires in the loom, replacing them, and finally reinforcing them with a ridiculous level of insulation.

I had an abundance of photos for this DIY, but they were lost due to a technical failure (DROID doesn't). I will attach some if I do the repair again. Please forward your pictures to to if you do this repair using these methods (or similar ones) so I can post them here.

You will need a some wire of similar gauge (higher density of filaments will be better for routing)
High temp electrical tape (3M works best for me)
Shrink tubing
One very large wire crimp coupler (maybe 2 or 4 gauge?)
Silicone adhesive/sealant
Tin foil
Wire stripper 

I had a spare loom (also damaged) that I was able to use for a template of sorts to compare lengths. You probably do not have that, so I would recommend getting one from the junk yard from a MKII, or at least measuring yours to the point of absurdity. NOTE: some of the plugs will have leads that are so badly corroded that even clipping them close to the plugs will be futile. It may be wise to have at least 1 other damaged loom for "spare parts." If you can find an undamaged one (they are out there), you could skip most of the hard parts of this DIY, which include excessive wire stripping, crimping, measuring, and soldering. Some people have been able to find new inserts for the leads and female pins that go into the plugs, but I could not find them for any reasonable price. 

I cut out all of the wires and stripped the remaining lead, leaving only about 1/4" maximum unstripped wire behind the plastic connectors. Make sure to have about an inch of stripped wire to connect your new lengths of wire to. If you cut it too short, there is no "re-do." I had to use two of my spare plugs here as one ended up being too short to comfortably use, and another wire was pulled out of the plug when I tried to strip it.

I twisted the new wire leads together with the original ones (to maintain a good connection under heat/ softened solder) after measuring the unstripped portions of the new wires and ensuring they were about 1/8" longer than the original wires that were cut out (you have room for extra length, but NO room for any shorter. I discovered I was able to accommodate up to 1 inch of extra wire after measuring incorrectly).

Combining the wires was difficult, as the solder joints took up a lot of room after being properly insulated. I had to daisy chain them very creatively so that the joints for each of the plugs so that the two leads (with 3 wires being joined at any joint) did not overlap each other in the plastic loom housing since there is not enough room for the joints to be on top of each other. It is at this point that I found the stock lengths for the wires would not be followed exactly with the new ones. Through trial and error, I found the appropriate lengths, some being shorter and others being longer. Note: you could probably avoid most of this by using a crimp coupling connector (with the insulation removed to save space) instead of solder. Make sure you are doing this in the recessed part of the plastic case to determine how they will fit, once reassembled.

The joints were covered in shrink tube. I also made sure shrink tube was around the wires at the points that they exit the plastic housing to further prevent wear on the wires. I then wrapped the wires in electrical tape (no more than 1 layer). After this I cut strips of tin foil and wrapped the wires the same as I did with the tape, in a coil pattern (including the wires inside the plastic housing). The foil is fragile, so if you wrapped it tightly enough and think that you can install the loom without tearing the foil badly, secure the ends of the foil strips with electrical tape, and you are done with the wires and it is time to reassemble the housing.

I did not feel good about the strength of the foil so I wrapped the wires again with tape (the points where the wires exit the plastic case should be wrapped thinly). I put at least 3 layers of tape along the wires outside of the plastic casing.

The plastic casing can be difficult to reassemble with all of the joints and insulation, so some... coercion is necessary. As I made the casing fit back together, I filled the openings with silicone adhesive/sealant (make sure it is listed as heat resistant on the box somewhere. It may be necessary to get plain silicone sealant if you can not find the heat resistant adhesive variety). I used the silicone to hold down some of the wires inside the casing to make the job of reassembly easier. I also filled much of the remaining open space in the casing with the sealant. I ended up using black zip ties to hold the casing together.

After the loom is reinstalled under the manifold, make sure none of the wires are touching any metal parts. I had to zip tie two of the leads together, very loosely, to make sure neither of them rested on the manifold. I expect the heat resistance of this reinforced setup to be at least 3 times that of the original design. Even if the wire insulation cracks with this setup, the "bare" wires will still be shielded from gas vapors, extreme oxidation, grime, and other bare wires or grounded chassis objects.  

Rear ashtray +12v aux plug retrofit

posted Feb 13, 2012, 8:43 AM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Feb 13, 2012, 8:45 AM ]

Broken parking brake bracket spot welds

posted Feb 13, 2012, 8:41 AM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Feb 10, 2013, 9:57 PM ]

The parking brake handle in the G60 Corrado bolts onto studs on a steel plate which is spot welded onto the body of the car. These small spot welds came loose, resulting in the steel plate warping under the stress of pulling the handle. The handle started creeping up higher and higher each time I engaged it until it was clear something was wrong. When I discovered the broken welds, I took the car to a welding shop. The welder told me that he refused to try welding in that location because he did not want to be responsible for the carpet catching on fire. I did not feel like pulling out the interior in his parking lot, so I thought up a way to do the repair with minimal disassembly. I decided to mount the handle onto a thicker piece of aluminum which I drilled holes into and intended on bolting to the body with rivnuts. The rivnuts were weaker than I expected, so I ended up using one bolt and nut instead of the rivnut. It was simple enough to hold the nut and bolt by reaching under the heat shield (I deleted the suitcase). 

Boost test/ cleaning the intercooler

posted Feb 13, 2012, 8:40 AM by Stephen Aalberg

Corrado, next chapter

posted Jul 11, 2011, 6:42 PM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Oct 10, 2011, 10:52 PM ]

It is repair/ upgrade time again. I have been having cold start problems, so I have decided to do some diagnostics and system reinforcement "while I am in there."

I will be installing a boost gauge, voltmeter, and oil pressure and temperature gauges.
Based on the readings, I will be doing a boost pipe pressure test
Then, I will be measuring fuel pressure at the FPR. If pressure is good, I will move forward in the fuel system with...
Watching the injector pattern. Depending on the results, I will either follow up during the upgrade stage, or move directly to:
BBM fuel rail and rebuilt green top injectors. I will also be repairing the faulty wiring insulation on the injector wire harness.
New o rings will be added to the injectors and the idle screw, and CO pot.
I will then do a compression test. Depending on the results, I will simply replace the spark plugs and wires, or begin upgrades
If results of the compression test are poor, I will begin an overhaul process replacing any necessary parts. If not, then:
68MM pulley will be added and boost remeasured.
If additional engine repairs are necessary, I will also install 268/270 cam, STIV chip, adjustable cam sprocket, and lifters
If not, I will simply replace the timing belt and crank bolt.

Update 8/15/11:
I decided with as much work as getting everything apart became, I would go "all the way" and just replace as much as was reasonable. I replaced the lifters and put in a Tectonics Tuning 268/270 cam while the old cam was out. I also am installing a BBM aluminum fuel rail which is proving to be difficult to get seated correctly with fittings for all of the necessary lines. I decided to rebuild the fuel injector harness loom since many of the wires were missing insulation or were otherwise destroyed. Since the entire fuel injection system was at this point accessible, I had the fuel injectors rebuilt at WitchHunter Performance in WA; they were very quick and the experience was totally painless. I took this opportunity to replace the timing belt and crank bolt, which also made it a perfect time to install the adjustable cam sprocket that I have had laying around for years. I am in the process of repairing all of the faulty wiring and hoses that I have encountered during this small project. After all of the minor repairs are complete, I plan on fully assembling the belt drive system and all relevant covers. I will then finish the fuel injection system upgrade with a plethora of fittings and even the addition of an oil filled fuel pressure gauge. I plan to test the boost output of my supercharger to ensure that I am not in need of some warranty service from BBM before the warranty expires in a few months. At that time, I will install the 68mm BBM G60 pulley as well as the ST IV BBM ECU. Very exciting times.

Update 10/11/11:
I got the fuel rail in and the lines connected. I still have a cold start problem, which I am slowly tracking down. I was able to test the supercharger and the boost looks about right for the engine and ECU modifications that I have.

Door pops back open: plastic VW part strikes again!

posted May 16, 2011, 10:40 AM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated Aug 15, 2011, 3:27 PM ]


I noticed that occasionally my door would close and then bounce back open. I initially just closed it again, much harder, and that would solve the problem. However, after a while, this too began to fail. I noticed that a small plastic sleeve on the door jam latch was split, warped, and loose. If the warped/broken side was facing out, then the problem would present itself. I spent months coddling the door jam in this fashion until I found a stock replacement. It came off with a 15mm wrench and the new one went on with a 14mm wrench. I noticed that there was wind noise and a breeze coming through the door when I drove, after the installation. I also noticed that I could see into the door jam with the door "closed." Some adjustment is apparently needed to achieve a proper seal. I am waiting on instructions for this process at which time I will take accompanying photos for this post.


Sorry, no pictures. I felt that they were really not necessary.
I ended up placing a washer between the pin and the dish washer on the DS (left) and oriented the pin/nut combo up and toward the inside of the car while partially threaded. I then torqued the pin down to about 30ft/lb (I have no idea what the factory spec is). It closes properly and seals adequately. It also does not "hang up" upon opening the door (thanks to the washer). I could not find another washer with the necessary dimensions for the other side of the car, so I did the same operations with a second dish washer in place.

I thought that maybe my door was still not sealing correctly since there was some strange condensation on top of the inside of the DS window. Upon further investigation, it appears that the door is fine; the window regulator is not. Stay tuned for the related posting...

EMPI issues: the PS axle mess, continued.

posted May 16, 2011, 10:33 AM by Stephen Aalberg

I believed my clunking, popping, and tracking issues were fixed with the install of a brand new EMPI right side axle. All of these problems returned after only a few drives, so I visited the mechanic (desperate times). He immediately berated me for purchasing "EMPI made in China garbage." He said "Put something on that says 'Made in Germany' and I guarantee your problems will all go away." Luckily, I kept the OEM axle, took off the failing vibration dampener, took apart the joint, added new grease and a new boot to the inner joint (outer joint already done) and reinstalled; no more tracking or clunking issues. (Note: alignment was necessary after the replacement). I then found the source of my popping: loose front PS control arm bolt. Everything rides much quieter and smoother now. It is beginning to drive like I think it should.

Fuel hose woes

posted Apr 23, 2011, 11:12 AM by Stephen Aalberg   [ updated May 16, 2011, 10:33 AM ]

I took the car for a long drive in populated areas to test it before a cruise between Portland and Seaside. At 11:30PM on the night before the drive, I start the car only to smell fuel through the vents. Being a seasoned Corrado victim, I shut the car off, and opened the hood to find a pool of fuel by the fuel rail. It appeared to be coming from the end of the hose rather than the middle, so with the help of a friend, I cut 3/4" from the hose and reattached. I decided for safety reasons not to go on the cruise, after all. I ordered braided stainless fuel lines from TheDubnutz and will be summarizing the install below this posting once they arrive. 

Thedubnutz hoses arrived in 3 days after I placed my order. The quality is good and they went on fine with some "persuading." I was concerned, however, that the braided lines would "saw" into the vacuum line coming out of the FPR. Also, I painted my valve cover and I did not want to scrape the paint off with the fuel line. I noticed that my OEM line had some sort of larger ID hose fitted over a small length of the upper hose, so I cut it off length wise with a razor and fitted it to the fuel rail side of the line with black zip ties. It is nearly invisible without looking at the fuel rail area and gives me some piece of mind. The fasteners that come with the lines seem just barely too small to fit comfortably on the lines with the added rubber insulation that comes on the ends. The ones on my stock lines read "13,5" and these read "12.5" Again, however, with some persuasion I got them connected and tightened.

After taking a 300 mile drive, I noticed that fuel was leaking from the end of the hose again. I came to the conclusion that the orientation of the clamp was forcing the hose to one side of the nipple on the rail. I turned the camp so that the tightening screw was between the FPR and the hose, rather than the hose and the fuel rail.

After the hose leaking and flying off while making the above mentioned adjustment (spraying me in the face with fuel) and then coming off from the other end while running, in traffic, my review of these hoses are mixed. I now believe that they my simply be too thick with the braided steel and rubber insides. I had to tighten the clamps almost all of the way on all of the connections, which makes me nervous on the fuel rail connection as it is made of plastic in the stock G60 form. I will check, but I may have already cracked it due to over tightening. Also, as some direct or indirect result of this install, the car now stalls on the first cold start and a second start gets it running.

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