After a 3 year absence, Brain Power Motorsports is back. The Budget Time Attack Evo rises again (sort of) and its loaded with lots of new goodies.
New custom brake setup, trunk mounted power steering, brand new wiring harness, and some other amazing changes to the Time Attack Evo build. But before we jump in to all of the new modifications, we should probably explain where we’ve been, and where we are going.
How It Started
Back in 2018, we set out to build “The Budget Time Attack Evo“. The goal was to load the car with lots of race inspired modifications, fabricated pieces, and truly custom solutions. And the end product did not disappoint. By May of 2019, after over a year of hard work, we had a car that was finally ready to run. While there were some compromises made throughout (often budget related), we were overall extremely happy with the build. During the summer it made several appearances at car shows throughout the province, and even ended up winning a couple awards along the way.
We used the build as an amazing opportunity; both to learn, and document. Brain Power Motorsports was initially created as an outlet for all of the work we were doing to be showcased. It was meant to be a place to help inspire others with their car builds, and to provide free knowledge of how we had done all of our work. For just over a year, we continued to post updates on the build, as well as a few small how-to’s. Then, in the Fall of 2019, we had to take a step back from the build and the website. In the interest of keeping what we had already done available, we continued to host the website. We wanted the blog posts to be available to anyone who was interested.
How It’s Going
With 2020, we continued our break from the car. Obviously, everyone dealt with this screwed up pandemic year in different ways, and for us there was still other priorities consuming our time. But, as the year came to an end, we started to get a little bit antsy with the car. It had been parked in the garage for over a year, and we were starting to feel a little sad for it. So it was decided; it was time to get it up and running again.
There was, however, a couple little issues that needed to be worked out before we got the car up and running. The first was the power steering. In the 2018-2019 build, we had converted over to a TRW electric power steering pump. We decided to mount it in the passenger footwell, because racecar. But… while the pump worked amazingly well, it was also extremely loud in the cabin, and to be honest, drove us crazy. So, we decided with this new 2021 build, we were going to relocate it to the trunk. Yes, that’s right. We now have a trunk mounted electric power steering system. While we have only been able to test it out once (keep reading to find out why), it had great responsiveness, and the noise was drastically reduced.
The next issue that we wanted to address was the braking system. We were never super pleased with the brakes in the 2018-2019 build, and wanted to correct a few things. Originally, we had deleted the brake booster and ABS, and replumbed the system. We used a smaller bore master cylinder with 2 lines; one for the fronts, and another to the rears (with a proportioning valve located near the driver). The force required for braking seemed to be quite excessive in this system, and we were never completely satisfied. While deleting the brake booster had undoubtedly increased the effort needed to stop, we decided we wanted to change the system slightly. Since our budget did not allow for a new pedal box system at this time, we decided to modify the system to more of an RS style. We used RS proportioning valves on the master cylinder and removed the valve from the interior of the car. It remains without ABS or the brake booster, but in the initial tests we did, it seems to be a much better feel.
Beyond the braking and power steering systems, the last big piece we needed to work on was the electrical system. While the engine harness barely required any work from the previous build (just lengthening a few connectors and moving the MAP sensor), the interior of the car needed a whole new harness. This was because we had decided to add back a small portion of the HVAC system, as well as redo the switches and gauges that were custom mounted into the dash. We are also in the process of getting the AYC system back up and running, so we needed to wire back in a whole bunch of sensors for it. While we would ideally like to have an RS diff setup, budget is telling us otherwise. So, until we are ready to pull the trigger on that setup, we will need to rely on the AYC system.
How It Stopped Going
With these issues all worked out, we had the car back up and running… for about 20 minutes. On the morning of a local car show, we were preparing our car for roll in. We took it out for a quick drive to make sure everything was running well, and it did not disappoint. However, as we were bringing the car back into the garage for some last minute touches, the engine cut out. After a couple attempts to start it, we realized there was something wrong with it. Having done so much work to the wiring harness recently, we immediately started to inspect the wiring system. We appeared to be having a ground issue with the engine harness, however it was intermittent, adding to the confusion in the moment. We were rushing to try and get the car back up and running, but with no luck. The sensors continued to throw up errors, and we realized the car was not going to be ready for the show.
We spent the next few days testing every wire in the system, only to find that there was one small mistake which had absolutely no effect on the car. Still as confused as ever, we continued to work our way through the problem. The next thing we looked at was the mechanical system. We removed the upper timing belt cover and did not find any issues with the belt. It was still tight, and was turning when trying to start. The spark plugs also appeared to be fine, and a quick check of the fuel pump confirmed that it was also operating properly. With those checked, we plugged the laptop into the ECU again, and tried another start. Once again, no such luck. We again checked the Link G4 ECU for every sensor and every input until we finally realized something; there was no crank position signal.
What Went Wrong?
Thinking that we had a faulty crankshaft position sensor, we called up a parts store to order a replacement. That evening we got to work pulling out the accessories belt, pulleys and tensioner, and lower timing covers. As we removed the last timing cover, we quickly realized what the actual issue was. There, entangled in the timing system, was the mangled remains of our balance shaft belt. The belt was shredded to bits, and skewered throughout. The crankshaft position sensor was a victim of the carnage, and the insides of the sensor were crushed together (explaining the wiring issues we thought we had).
Unfortunately, in the midst of whatever catastrophic failure had occurred, the timing had also skipped many, many teeth. We removed the destroyed balance shaft belt, along with the remains of the sensor. A quick inspection with the valve cover off also revealed that the valves had bent from colliding with the pistons. Needless to say, we had some choice words, and a drink or two that night…
The next question was why the belt had failed. The tensioner pulley seemed to be just fine, and the belt had been changed no more than 5000 kms ago, so why had it given up. Unfortunately, the answer was quickly discovered; the balance shaft had seized. A preliminary tear down of the engine revealed scored bearings on the rear balance shaft. But, on an optimistic note, we don’t appear to have any damage to the crank shaft bearings. Of course, that is overshadowed by the fact we now have a full engine rebuild on our hands.
Hello Engine Rebuild!
Obviously, this was not what we had planned for the Evo at this time. We had several car shows lined up for the remainder of the 2021 summer, and now we were unable to attend any of them. With the Evo once again parked in the garage, we prepare for the next part of its journey. With the rear balance shaft seized, and metal likely floating around in the oil, we will be tearing down the engine, and rebuilding it with upgraded parts. Keep checking back here for updates as we bring “The SOB (Slightly Over Budget) Time Attack Evo” back to life!