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Jenga's Project Yaris

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  • Jenga's Project Yaris

    Pulled from the cached copy of this thread. Thanks Google!

    My laptop may go flat while writing this, so if you see it half-complete, it'll be done soon enough

    I'll admit, I've been pretty quiet on here lately. But just because I've been quite doesn't mean I've stopped mucking around with cars. The opposite is true - I'm into it more than I've ever been.

    As a few of you saw in the Cuore build thread, it's moved to a different owner. It was sad, but onto bigger and better things as they say. Being noticed and getting looks in the Cuore was pretty fun. The same went for the RVR. Now I'm a few years older, I've come to realise I'm far better suited to flying under the radar. The idea of owning a sleeper became really enticing. But in the meantime I wanted to own a boring, efficient car until I figured out what sort of sporty sleeper I wanted to buy.

    So, I went and bought a Yaris. One of the most batsh*t boring, bog-standard cars out there. I have a bit of a soft spot for them. The YRS 1.5L manual.

    After a while I came to realise that sporty sleepers (for example, a Corolla sportivo), usually are either been thrashed or are excessively expensive for a clean example. Either that, or they get turned into P-plater dream cars (ie: huge wing, fluro painted wheels and poorly made exhausts along with "Nah bro, I never thrashed it!").

    I also started to discover the Yaris scene over in the US, along with what can be done to a 1NZ-FE engine. Turns out there's a pretty huge aftermarket following for them. A clean, turbo Yaris would make a awesome project. They are super common (cheap parts), the 1NZ-FE has been used since the early 2000's up to the current model Yaris (they're well understood engines and plenty are avaliable) and they take boost fairly well. Most people seem to recommend forged pistons and rods, along with a valve spring upgrade for a 'basic' built engine. All of that can be had for less than $2k AUD, even cheaper if the AUD-USD exchange rate gets better.

    With that decided, I figured that I wanted to aim for a OEM+ look. That simply means that any visual mods done need to use factory parts, or something that looks close to it, while making the car as fast and sporty as possible. It may be a sleeper, I don't want it to look like a base-model Yaris. Of course in true MCM style, I have a mortgage and a lot of bills to pay, so this build needs to be balanced - buying the best parts I can afford, while keeping everything as cheap as possible.

    The first mods were to make the car 'nicer' and a little less boaty, while keeping an eye out for a cheap engine and gearbox. I began looking for set of Recaros. That name comes with a huge premium and I was NOT going to buy knockoff seats. The best method is to find some from a car that had recaros from the factory. Eventually came across a set from a XR5 turbo, for $200 on Ebay. Absolute bargain and they even came in my favourite color. So a weekend with a welder and an angle grinder, they were in. They are absolutely awesome, I'll never go back to standard seats.

    The next mod was a set of lowering springs. Until I can find some coilovers, king springs will do. They make the car a little less like a minature SUV. And I don't have a picture of it LOL.

    (pic of springs here later)

    Next was a set of wheels. The high-specced yaris came with 6-spoke 15" alloys. I like those wheels, but I wanted to go for some larger rims to reduce the amount of sidewall and get a sportier look. 17's make Yaris's look like a toy car (especially those cheapo Bob Jane rims that every girl in her early 20's seems to get, they are truly horrible), so I settled on 16's. Eventually I found a set of 16" wheels on gumtree for $100 that look very similar to the stock Toyota rims. They are pretty scuffed up, but salvageable. To complete the look, I even bought a set of Toyota hub centers off ebay. With a coat of paint and some new tyres, they'll look great.

    (pic of wheels here later)

    The Yaris that came after mine had the facelift front and rear bumper. It's a lot less 'round'. There was one down at Pick'n'payless, so I made the trip down to Sydney to get the new bumper and headlights. It looks so much better.

    I finally came across a cheap engine. It was from a 2013 Yaris with 9000km, for $300. I've never seen an engine this clean. Again, it was an absolute bargain. Its the great thing about a super common car driven primarily by young women, there are plenty of super low km examples that have been crashed (don't get mad, those are the facts).


    The digital dash project had to carry on. I've always disliked the center-mounted gauges in the yaris. Fortunately, the small compartment directly in front of the driver is the perfect size for two 7" LCD screens, so I mounted the digital dash there. It's also all CAN-based, so I could get all of the information I needed directly from the CAN bus.

    The steering wheel also kind-of bugged me - it was OK, but nothing special. My father-in-law owns 2015 Aurion, which has an awesome steering wheel. I looked around flebay and found a steering wheel for $80 (without the airbag, of course) to see if it'd even fit the Yaris. I got lucky, it did fit! Most wreckers want $200 for an airbag, so I'm currently looking out for one at a cheaper price. It fits the OEM+ theme perfectly.

    I'm trying to decide which turbo to use... I have a Evo 8 turbo and a T25 from a 300ZX (which I was using on the 1L engine years ago). My power goal is 250HP at the front wheels. I suspect the Evo turbo is going to be laggy, while the T25 will be perky, but I probably won't reach 250HP with it. Decisions decisions.

    That's it so far... I'm working as much as I can on the digital dash so that I can de-commission the center dashboard (or at least block it out). I'm also saving up for forged pistons, rods and a LSD.

    I'm also hoping if Trump gets elected as president, the US dollar will crash and I can buy those forged parts for cheap... Hehehehe
    Last edited by Jenga; 30-01-2017, 06:30 AM.

  • #2
    A quick update...

    I've purchased a bunch of parts for the new engine - 9.0:1 forged pistons, BC valve springs, head studs and a new set of bearings. Exciting times.

    Here's a video of the digital dash

    I've slowly been trying to acquire the body kit that came with the YRX Yaris, they're reasonably rare parts. I finally managed to get my hands on a set of side skirts.

    I took the tyres off the rims I bought, getting ready to paint them... They need a bit of love, but I think they're a reasonably nice OEM+ type wheel, since they look somewhat similar to other factory 15" Toyota wheels (except these are 16's). For $100 they were a bargain. Not the lightest things in the world, but I can look at lighter rims at a later date.

    I also picked up a spare gearbox and flywheel for $300. The plan is to freshen it up and give it a Kaaz LSD. Because I need to use the car as a daily, I need to build as many parts as I can without taking the car apart.

    I've also been doing some work to interface the Aurion steering wheel with the digital dash (and still retain the original volume controls).

    All of the buttons are in parallel with a resistor inline with each of them, so each time a button is pressed, a different resistance appears on the wire. It's a clever way to put 12 buttons on 4 wires.


    • #3
      I've been working on everything at a slow rate - gathering parts and making progress here and there over the past 6 months. I received the pistons, rods, valve springs, ARP head studs, LSD and a clutch... Nearly everything I need

      Thanks to Benny's Custom Works for the clutch

      But of course, these builds aren't without issues... The 'perfect' engine turned out to be not so perfect. I tore it all down and inspected everything as I went, only to find a major issue. There was a frikking hole in the side of the block (top right hand side of the block pictured).

      Long story short - I still can't explain how it happened. I took the engine back to the wrecker I got it from, who blamed me for doing the damage. The best explanation they came up with was that I somehow had issues un-doing the crank pulley bolt, and tried to jam something between the crankshaft and the block, to stop the crank spinning and used a dirty big rattle gun on the crank pulley. That then punched a hole in the side of the block and put a fair bit of pressure on the rod. It was a creative explanation, but not correct. The best explanation I can come up with was that the people who originally owned the car (or a mechanic working on it) did this damage, then wrote off the car to avoid the damage from being detected. It's pretty unlikely, but there was evidence of both old and new gasket goop on the sump. The old stuff hadn't even been cleaned off (you can see in the picture below - the goop is very grey and new in some sections, but old and oily in others). This whole thing will probably remain an enigma for the rest of my life.

      They took the damaged engine back and gave me what I thought would be an 'equivalent' engine (should've checked it over before I agreed to take it). Turns out it was missing a number of parts, it was 5 years older and had a lot of km's on it. Awesome job, guys.

      I'm all for admitting when I screw up. I'm an engineer, screw-ups happen all the time. They just have to be owned, dealt with and resolved. But when I get blamed for an issue that I didn't cause and treated like an idiot for it, it boils my blood. It was a $350 engine and I've spent thousands on aftermarket parts. If I screwed up and did that damage, do they seriously think having to fork out $350 for a replacement engine is such a stretch? The problem is, the wrecker I got this engine from has the best stock of fairly new yaris engines locally. I might not have a choice but to go back there for a newer engine.

      To be fair, I understand wreckers deal with a lot of idiots that break stuff, then blame the wreckers for it and say 'I bought it like that'. That's probably why I was treated with such suspicion.

      In hindsight, I should have just kept the engine and had the block repaired. At least I would have still had a good engine.

      Anyway... I finally found an Aurion airbag and installed the steering wheel. It's pretty schmick.

      I also got a new set of tyres and fitted the 16" wheels, they look very OEM (remember, that's the point ). 16" is a great size of the yaris. 17's are too big and look weird, whereas 15's look too small.

      I found some cheap Toyota center caps, removed the emblem from them and installed them to the center caps of the new wheels. I think it's a really nice touch and really pushes the idea of the rims being factory.

      Last edited by Jenga; 09-05-2017, 01:02 PM.


      • #4
        Well, isn't the Yaris a topical car now... Who'd have thought?

        Lots has happened over the last 6 months (both on the car and in my personal life), I've been a bit lazy with posting updates.

        It turns out all of the drama with the broken engine was worth it (the idiots still think I damaged that engine, too). I decided I still wanted a very low km engine; the 'replacement' engine the wreckers gave me was pretty worn and missing a number of parts. I began looking at Pickles auctions (the same place that Marty got the blue turds's 1.3L engine all those years ago) and eventually found a decent-looking 2011 Yaris. Much like wreckers, the auctions are a total lottery. This time I lucked out. I bought the car for $500, got it home and started examining it.

        The car was written off because a tree fell on the rear of it. It had 25,000km and was absolutely pristine, some automotive archeology revealed it was owned by a little old lady who probably just drove it to the shops and back. Absolute score. Because it's a series 2 Yaris, it has a lot of nice little upgrades I could swap in too. Plus near new suspension, brakes and lots of other parts.

        I started pulling it all apart, automotive doggo helped out.

        I got the engine out and started pulling apart. It's not quite quite as pristine as the engine I originally bought, but not far off.

        Next, the block and the entire rotating assembly was sent to a local machinist. He washed the block, honed the bores, balanced everything, set the ring gaps and machined the flywheel.

        I also picked up a intercooler, some 570cc injectors and a turbo manifold (no log manifold this time, sorry)

        Not much happened for a few months until my job got sorted out. In the last week, work on the car started again. I needed all of the replacement gaskets for the engine and a fresh set of main bearings, they arrived the other day.

        Now work can begin again...

        I discovered that the Molnar rods I bought are too wide - they hit on part of the cylinder. It's no surprise (other people have repored the same), a small part at the bottom end of the cylinder needs to be grinded out. No biggie.

        The car as it sits at the moment (Damn I love the Recaro seats. So comfy.).


        • #5
          how'd you go with the machinist in terms of getting them to do what you wanted. It seems often they are so 'specialist' that they'll often only deal with workshops rather than backyarders
          Love MCM? Want to help support the show? Check out the MCM Shop and get some maaaad DVD's, stickers, shirts or Magazine...


          • #6
            I was about to say those seats look like Focus ST seats... then I remembered in Aus that's what an XR5 is! I agree they're really comfy.

            I don't think the Yaris is thrashed anywhere in the world, in the UK these are almost exclusively owned by pensioners (along with other favourites such as the Honda Jazz). Never bought an engine from a wreckers personally but I'll definitely be considering a thorough visual inspection if I ever do!

            Perfect car to turn into a sleeper though. That was the theme I was going for with my car but... it's way too slow.
            I stripped my car out so much it now has 49/49 weight distribution.

            Project Diesel Tune:


            My new Daily HA36S Alto Works

            Martin's Kei to success



            • #7
              Jeey, we can reply in build threads now. Keep them coming Jenga!! Please!! I love reading these.


              • #8
                Hey hey, people can post replies in build threads again!

                Lots has been happening, I'll post a proper update soon. The long and the short is it's a few weeks from going to the tuner

                Originally posted by Marty View Post
                how'd you go with the machinist in terms of getting them to do what you wanted. It seems often they are so 'specialist' that they'll often only deal with workshops rather than backyarders
                It's all word of mouth and when you do find someone who's happy to work with a DIYer, there's a unspoken code that says you can only refer others who know what they're doing, rather than posting it on the internet. I might be wrong. The guy I went though honed the cylinders, balanced everything, set the ring gaps and machined the flywheel. He did a great job and was happy to do as little or as much as I wanted.
                Last edited by Jenga; 21-03-2018, 05:27 AM.


                • #9
                  Also might have something to do with the fact I just became a moderator, not sure. I hope users can reply in here aswell, would help with the activity.


                  • #10
                    Update time. A lot has happened in the last few months. Thank goodness I didn't use photobucket, everything would have been lost...

                    Back around Chirstmas, the last of the gaskets and bearings arrived, so I could start reassembling the block. The first trick I ran in to was the width of the new rods - they're so wide they hit on the side of the block! Because the 1NZ-FE crank is offset (gives it more power on the exhaust stroke apparently), a notch had to be ground out, using a die grinder.

                    I used factory main bearings, turns out they can be replaced without any tools. A number is stamped on the crank and one on the block (one number for each bearing). You add the two numbers together and order that bearing from Toyota. How good is that.

                    Beyond that, the bottom end went together without incident. The top end, however, was another story.

                    Next job was the new valve springs - A $25 ebay valve compressor tool and a couple of hours, the job was done.

                    The ARP valve studs went in, they were a challenge. They have to be hand-tightened, so the threads in the block must be super clean. I had an impossible time finding a tap that was long enough, so I improvised and used a factory head bolt and put it in and out of the block a bunch of times, cleaning it each time. It worked pretty well.

                    Then the head went on, all seemed well... I put the cams in, but had a issue with one sitting properly. I quickly discovered that the head stud was impacting on the disc next to the cam position sensor. I pulled it all apart again, ground the stud down (yay die grinder) and put it all back together. That took quite a few hours, because the head had to be thoroughly cleaned again.

                    The next fun item was the VVT oil valve... Because the head studs (and nuts) are so much longer, it gets in the way of the oil passage for the control valve, meaning the valve won't go all the way in. After a bit of cursing, head scratching and researching, I came to the conclusion that I could die grind a portion off the end of the valve, without impacting the way it works.

                    I'm dissapointed I had these issues with the ARP studs. I was hoping I'd simply purchased the non-VVTi studs and I missed a warning on their website. But nope. No warning or anything.


                    • #11
                      The fun continues...

                      The rest of the engine went back together without incident. Lots of little bits and pieces were done, oil feed and drain, water feed, checking clearances, etc...


                      Next was the gearbox and LSD install. Anyone who's worked on a Yaris gearbox knows that getting 5th gear removed is a absolute turd... I used a combination of gear pullers to get it done. I'll upload some pics of it in a future post.

                      Of course the new LSD didn't come with bearings (and toyota said it'd take ~3 weeks to get new ones), so I had to remove the originals. I hate removing gearbox bearings.

                      And it all went back together...

                      I also got a rear swaybar too, it went on the black yaris of course.

                      From here, the engine install is staged. Because I have to drive this thing to work each day, I need to test as many parts as possible, before they go in to the black Yaris.

                      The stages were:
                      - Put the new clutch on, install the gearbox
                      - Install the new engine in the white chassis
                      - Run the new engine on a stock ECU (with the original injectors) and hope that nothing blows up
                      - Finish the aftermarket ECU
                      - Get the aftermarket ECU running on the black yaris, make a custom wiring loom
                      - Install the new fuel system and a return line on the black yaris
                      - Road tune the black yaris
                      - Finish the intercooler setup
                      - Then over a 3-5 day period, transplant the engine from the white yaris to the black one
                      - Another road tune to test everything
                      - Professional tune
                      ​​​​​​​- Fun
                      Last edited by Jenga; 11-05-2018, 05:27 AM.


                      • #12
                        The flywheel and clutch went on without any issues (no pics sorry - it was a stupidly hot day. When it's 36 degrees in your garage, you forget these things).

                        As mentioned before, the new engine was getting installed in the written-off Yaris for test fitting, wiring, exhaust, intercooler and general checks.

                        Then this happened. As much as I wanted to go with the megasquirt, I couldn't afford the time. Plus I wanted to use the DBW throttle and all the goodies that the Elite ECUs offered. I purchased the ECU from someone who was running it on their jet ski. I couldn't really justify the brand-new price of one, however that quickly changed. These things are well worth the money you pay for them.

                        I ended up removing the plug from the spare Yaris ECU and made a converter loom (this was the first version - excuse the messy wires). I got the engine up any running and it didn't blow up!

                        Of course because the written-off Yaris was a automatic car, I needed to bypass the good old Park/Neutral switch.


                        • #13
                          The good thing about using a 'dummy' car was that I could manufacture all the piping and ensure it was going to fit, before putting it in the daily Yaris.

                          So yeah, I made a exhaust. I got a bottle of gas the MIG this time around and had some guidance (via text messages, LOL) from a friend of mine who knows far more about welding than I do. I enjoyed making it, but I'm glad I don't make them for a job. It's hard to get right.

                          I discovered that the throttle body from a Corolla would bolt straight on. They're cheap(ish) and easy to get. The 1NZ-FE TB was tiny, so let's assume it's a worthwhile upgrade :P

                          I wanted stealth for this build, and that meant avoiding obvious 'performance car' things. I opted to go for a water to air intercooler, it fitted perfectly in the spot where the original airbox sat. Quite a elegant solution. I even reused the spare washer bottle as a resovoir, for super stealthiness.

                          Of course the fuel system was next. I went for a normal return-type system (the standard Yaris is returnless). So that meant tapping a return bung in the fuel rail, running a return line, installing a FPR and upgrading the fuel pump. I did this part in the black Yaris because as long as the pressure remains the same, the stock ECU shouldn't care. It allowed me to put some hours on the new fuel system.


                          • #14
                            Oh my, great work Jenga, that is amazing. I love reading your posts

                            Welds on the exhaust look pretty solid to!


                            • #15
                              Update time again!

                              The next part was to get the intercooler piping sorted... Using a WTA intercooler made piping SO much neater - 4 joints total and some fairly simple routing.

                              Next was to get the Haltech sorted - I wanted it to be plug and play. I actually ran this with the stock motor for a while (staged testing - change one thing at a time where possible). I had an issue where the ECU died, Haltech sent me a brand new one. Their service is awesome, I'd have no hesitation buying another one in future.

                              Once the fuel system and haltech were tested on the stock motor, the time came to swap in the turbo motor. I took a week off work to swap it all in... I'll let the pictures do the talking:

                              Everything went pretty smoothly - exactly what I'd planned. I went for a stealth exhaust tip too..

                              The turbo is tucked away pretty neatly.

                              After the engine was in, I decided to do some basic road tuning and drive it around for a few weeks, to run the engine in (and make sure I caught all the bugs).

                              Fortunately I have a wife who's good at helping with road tuning

                              Once the issues were all ironed out, it was off to be tuned... This is what happened:

                              So, it made 170hp @ 17psi. Not the number I was hoping for, but a weak wastegate spring and a insufficient intercooler (needed a better radiator) were preventing it from going any furthur. Corey (the tuner) thinks it'll be capable of ~24psi before the turbo runs out of puff. That sort of boost should happily get me to the ~230hp mark.

                              Needless to say, have a look at that power curve, the turbo is savage. Put your foot down and hang on.... Peak torque at 4,300rpm and peak power at 5800rpm. Extremely useable power, the turbo size is excellent. Not too laggy and tonnes of top-end. Traction is an issue. I'm planning on taking it back to Corey for a final tune sometime in the next few months.

                              I replaced the wastegate spring and it holds 20psi all the way to redline (so let's assume it's making ~200hp at the moment)... I'm seriously considering if it needs any more power. It is seriously fun to drive.

                              I've been driving it for about 3 months so far, a few minor issues that I'm sorting out one-by-one.

                              More updates to come
                              Last edited by Jenga; 20-08-2018, 09:16 AM.