"Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

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Rogue-AE95
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"Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Rogue-AE95 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:59 pm

I already know the formula: cheap, fast, reliable... pick any two. So I'm choosing cheap and reliable, and not expecting fast. Couple of questions here, but first a quick background. I'm building up a mostly stock smallport for my wagon. I'm going to run it off Megasquirt instead of a stock ECU. I would still like to do the turbo build I was planning, but besides not being able to drop the money for all the turbo parts or on all the prep for my tired old wagon, I want to get familiar with MS. So building my own harness won't be for naught when I could have "just" used a stock harness and ECU. I think a mostly stock smallport will be fine in the meantime. It will surely beat the tired, choked 4A-FE.

Anyways, what thoughts do you guys have about using a cheaper, off-brand head gasket with ARP head studs? Will it hold up better with ARP hardware? I already have the head studs. I had bought a full gasket set (ITM brand) and it included a graphite head gasket. Of course the head & block will be checked and skimmed if necessary. Here's the ITM brand head gasket:

Image
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Pistons... I would like to run stock 10.3:1 pistons but don't want to buy new OEM units with rings for $400+. I just don't have the desire to spend that much when I could get used (which didn't work out for me), or a set of new cast pistons that I see on ebay. Would those non-OEM cast pistons be OK, especially if I got the tops coated? Anyone know if they come with rings & pins?

FWIW, I'm using an early bluetop crank, those custom 40/20 rods that Orion Engineered made, Fidanza flywheel, stock Geo Prizm GSi smallport head, and a '97 4A-FE block (because of the notch on the block & pan to clear the transfer case). I figure if anything, this engine could be rebuilt again with better pistons etc and thrown into an AW11 MR2 (that I hope to buy someday).
'88 Corolla All-Trac

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carbd7age
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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby carbd7age » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:17 am

You can get a 7AFE OEM head gasket for around 55 bucks at the dealer and it's all metal. It is a little thinner so it will bump your compression up a smidge. I used that and a set of NPR brand pistons off eBay for a little over 100 shipped. They came with rings and pins. The rings needed no filing and everything went together perfect. The rod amd piston combo I had required the pins to be pressed in but that was no big deal at the machine shop. This was in a 7AFE bottom end so my rod choices were slim to say the least. OEM 7AFE rods, OEM copy 90-91 pistons, and OEM 7AFE head gasket under a blue top head.
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oldeskewltoy
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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby oldeskewltoy » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:49 am

Get a better head gasket..... I don't believe the ARP studs will improve the durability of a cheap head gasket... jmho

for the rest... you can use the no name stuff... just don't expect that stuff to hold up to a lot of abuse...
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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Evo_lucian » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:49 am

7afe headgasket, ebay pistons and rings and you will be fine.

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Rogue-AE95
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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Rogue-AE95 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:22 pm

OK, thanks guys. I'm hoping I can find the 10.3:1 pistons in 0.5mm overbore along with rings & pins. I see a lot of the 9.4:1 out there. I do have a set of OEM 20mm pins on the way along with other stuff. I could always get OEM 0.5mm overbore rings if I had to.

Any thoughts on having the tops of the ebay pistons coated?

And just to be clear, since I seem to find conflicting opinions online. Can the 7A-FE head gasket be used without having to modify it for a 4A-GE head?
'88 Corolla All-Trac

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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Evo_lucian » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:06 pm

Remember seeing a lot of 10.3 over sized piston on eBay and over the net some time ago pretty cheap. having the eBay pistons wouldn't hurt either. Yes i have personally used the 7afe gasket on a 4age with no problems.

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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby burdickjp » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:10 pm

If you're going to use an MLS gasket you should ensure you have a good mating surface finish. MLS gaskets require a better finish than the OEM graphite gasket. Many 4A-Gs with MLS gaskets experience gasket failure because builders don't address the surface finish on both the head and block.
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Rogue-AE95
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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Rogue-AE95 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:27 pm

OK, thanks. I'm typing up a sheet to bring to the machine shop whenever I have the funds to get the work done. I hope it doesn't come across the wrong way when I present them with this sheet along with FSM scans and specs.

I did some searching and found a topic at an MR2 forum (where incidentally a few of you participated ;) ). A guy had a similar question about using stock or aftermarket (Rock Auto / ebay) pistons. I'm starting to lean more towards using OEM or 3rd party/quality pistons instead of the Rock Auto / ebay pistons. Despite my bank account hating me for it. In that topic, Supertech 11:1 pistons were mentioned. I did a search for those but only found an ended ebay listing, which stated the auction was ended because "the item is not available" (as in, someone did not buy it). Anyone know what is up with those Supertech pistons? Were they released in limited quantities, or not at all? They sound appealing... higher comp and quality aftermarket for about the same price as OEM units.
'88 Corolla All-Trac

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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby yoshimitsuspeed » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:03 pm

I can get Supertech pistons for the 18mm rods. I should have the first set for 20mm pistons in the next couple months.
Unfortunately I just learned that the supertech rod gap is too narrow so you would need to get the rods machined to accept them. Supertech seems to have no desire to do anything about it. They will run you about $450.
For about $530 I can get you Wiseco shelf pistons that don't need any modification.
For about $580 I can do custom Wisecos designed specifically around your build.

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Re: "Budget," mostly-stock rebuild questions

Postby Jimmee1990 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:02 am

I wouldn't bother getting cheap pistons coated, coating does nothing to strengthen them and on a standard 4A-GE it would be unneccesary anyway. Use a reasonable brand like Teikin or new genuine ones and you won't have a problem. All good engine builds won't be cheap, but they're still a lot cheaper than doing it twice.

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