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MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/26/16 12:01 p.m.

Over last thanksgiving the topic of cars came up and some friends of our family mentioned they were trying to get rid of a couple cars (these are not usually car people). One of them was a Saab with a blown headgasket, but the other was a 2002 Subaru Outback LL Bean edition. Having grown up in the back of a base model Outback of that generation, I have a general fondness for early 2000 Subarus and jumped on the offer of buying the car for $200 (plus a set of practically new Winterforce snows on steelies for $300).

It had 246k miles, and the steering rack boots were completely shot. The rear subframe had been welded up, the exhaust had been replaced, and it drove straight. Something in the drive shaft was definitely going (it clunked rhythmically between 35-45) and the rear suspension had some issues (I think shocks). But all the accessories worked, and the H6 was smooth (if leaky); I figured that I could make my money back and would have a floggable winter vehicle in the meantime. This worked out pretty well, except for the really mild winter -- I only put 1300 miles on it.

As nice as the Bean was, I could not stand the automatic transmission; I started looking for a Forester. I have never owned a Forester, nor has my family, but I found them intriguing as they are based on the Impreza chassis (like my friend's supercharged 2.5RS) so they are smaller and more nimble than the Legacy, but simultaneously have more height in the wagon area. The last part is crucial to me, as I have built some subwoofers that were 15" W x 30" D x 38" T, a size that meant I could only fit two of them in the Outback (lying on their sides with the seats folded down). I expect to fit four comfortably in the Forester. :-)

So this past weekend I went out to Erving, MA and looked at a Forester. Without some aftermarket stereo stuff, the seller and I agreed on $300. The front CVs are bad, the transmission may be bad (or the clutch is bad, but I doubt it), but the interior's okay and the EJ25 has the cleanest underside I've ever seen. Not a drop of oil on the block or heads (the seller claimed to haven never touched the head gaskets). Fortunately, I happen to know a guy who needs an EJ25 to replace his supercharged one (a rod decided it wanted to explore the great outdoors after he stuck some silencers up it's butt).

Which brings me around to the reason for this thread: I intend to transplant the H6 from the Outback into the Forester (and maybe do some other stuff to it too). The H6, with it's timing chains and lack of headgasket issues, should be more reliable in the long run than the EJ (I realize I may have just cursed myself). In exchange for reliability, it drinks 91 octane, but also yields a torquey but linear power band with about 200hp (this one being well used). Enough power to be exciting, without instantly destroying the 5MT behind it. This thread is a big inspiration for me; I don't think I would be doing this if it didn't exist.

Currently, I still have the Outback in the driveway, and the engine is still in it. I've sold $100 in parts off of it, but would like to sell more... I need the Outback gone by the end of this week, and will be picking up the Forester tomorrow evening (in a Roadmaster + Uhaul dolly, probably. Should be exciting). I would like to have the car running by my birthday (August 20th), though I think that's optimistic...

Skittle34 New Reader
7/26/16 12:53 p.m.

Where abouts in NY are you located? I'd love to be of some help if you're nerby! I'm currently in Poughkeepsie. Also my aunt and uncle own a little cafe in Erving, MA hahah

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/26/16 2:17 p.m.

I'm up in Halfmoon, off exit 9. If you want to come by and help, I would not say no. :-) I've got a grill and some pork here and I've been thinking of multitasking smoking some BBQ while working on this.

physician New Reader
7/26/16 5:51 p.m.

5speed h6.. i'll follow your thread! Hope it will be going well

wearymicrobe UltraDork
7/26/16 9:28 p.m.

H6 swaps at least the few that I have seen have been seriously high dollar builds. Like standalone ECU and custom transmission sort of stuff not GRM pricing is what I am getting at.

singleslammer GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/26/16 10:09 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe:

Watch the mighty car mods super gramps build. Other than wiring, it is bolt together. The trans bolts up, h6 uses the same engine mounts as the h4. Run a mega squirt and there you go.

ClemSparks PowerDork
7/26/16 10:54 p.m.

This thread needs more Fozzy!

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/27/16 12:19 p.m.

In reply to ClemSparks:

Intending on picking up the car tonight, actually. The seller and I shook on me picking it up on Monday, but he wants it gone today now. Hit a snag with Uhaul (they don't like the hitch on our tow vehicle), I think the towing it home will be more expensive than I planned on. :-(

The Outback is coming apart, perhaps not as quickly as I'd like, but it goes. Hopefully selling more of the interior to a guy off CL later this week. Need to start listing things on Ebay as well (small stuff like lights, mostly).

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/27/16 12:32 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe: I think those were different H6s. Anything later than '02 rapidly and it rapidly becomes infeasible to keep the OEM ECU and wiring (mostly talking 3.6Rs here), and the older EG33s are OBD1 and require hacking up the core support + custom engine mounts.

The '00-'02 EZ30Ds seem to be at a sweet spot for swaps; the OEM ECU and wiring can be fooled into working with a manual, and the radiator, engine mounts, and clutch all bolt up. The downside is that the ECUs are just not tunable (Yet. As demand grows I'm sure someone will hack them like the WRX ECUs of the same era... :-) ).

As for GRM eligibility, I would like this build to be that cheap, and I intend on using OEM parts as much as possible... But I'm not going to sweat it if it's not. I don't think it would be competitive, but it would still be cool to drive it down there and enter anyway.

petegossett GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
7/27/16 1:12 p.m.
ClemSparks wrote: This thread needs more Fozzy!

ClemSparks PowerDork
7/28/16 8:19 a.m.

That's what I'm talking about!

(my hotlink skills are not so hot)

failboat UberDork
7/29/16 6:07 a.m.

I rode in an H6 swapped Impreza LS with STI suspension on a rallycross course several years ago. It was fun.

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/29/16 12:29 p.m.

I think it's about time for a progress update; I've been quite busy doing work on the car. Since I opened this thread, I have - Rented a Uhaul Truck and Trailer to pick up the Forester (Wednesday night) - Pulled the engine out of the Outback (Yesterday)

So when I agreed to buy the Forester, the seller and I vaguely shook hands on me towing it away a week later. A couple days later, he texts me asking if I can have it gone on Wednesday -- Not really what I was planning, for a couple reasons. First, the Outback isn't on the road, and so bringing another unregistered car home could cause issues with the town(been there done that, got the warning not the ticket), and two, I hadn't had enough time to desperately beg my friends into helping me tow the car back. Apparently the seller had similar issues though, having just bought a manual Camry. So come Wednesday afternoon, after considering my options I decided the best thing to do was to rent a Uhaul truck and auto transport to pull it home, since the direct monetary cost would probably outweigh the time & money cost of trying to work something out borrowing someone else's trailer.

A mere two hours after that decision, my butt was in this: The dash said it was a "Lil Sammy Mover", complete with a disturbingly cheerful anthropomorphized truck-dog thing. Lil Sammy did a fine job though, being comfortable, quiet, and having a decent sounding stereo to boot. About 2hrs after picking the truck and trailer up, we (me + another car-afflicted friend) arrived, loaded the Subaru up, signed the paperwork, and handed over three Benjamins. An hour later we pulled into the Blandford service plaza and I took some pictures to document my new Subaru. Looks pretty decent for a $300 car, right? The rust prone areas have already been "fixed" once, and if it's bondo, it's pretty solid. I'm not too worried, as long as they hold on long enough to get really invested in the car, I will come back and weld in patch panels in a few years. There were a set of little stickers like this behind the driver's seat... Not really sure why I thought the Che sticker was worth taking a picture of.

Ah, the optional factory "Muffler Delete". Sounds pretty good, actually.

These last two are 50% why I bought the car. As I commented to my friend (who will be buying the engine for his supercharged 2.5RS), "I would lay under the car and eat jam dripping off the underside of the engine it is so clean". The seller claimed no knowledge of the headgaskets having been replaced, but he only owned it for maybe 20k, and looking underneath, I can't believe they /haven't/ been done relatively recently.

Having relieved ourselves and gotten some late night snack material, we returned to the road. Apparently leaving behind our toll ticket, which became a problem when we got to the last toll in MA... scrounging revealed almost the $8 the missing toll ticket will cost us, but left us with zero cash to get through the tolls in NY. So we left the highway at exit B3, turning north on route 22 at 11 o'clock at night or so, then west on Route 20 for not too long before we came upon a road closure near Lebanon Valley. A friendly fireman helped navigate us around the closure, up a barely two lane road that turned to dirt, but led us out to Route 66, which we took up to Route 2 (via 350 something or other... Things started looking familiar). Having tacked on an extra hour at least due to the tolls and other shenanigans we finally unloaded the car at 1am or so, dropped off the Uhaul rig, and I was in bed by 2:30AM to wake up the next morning to...

Pull the EZ30D out of the Outback. I fortunately had help with this, and had started the process a few days prior (removing some little things, the majority of the work was ahead of us. I say us because I had help from Hydrochloricity). We started at about 11am, took a break at 1pm or so (lunch, plus picking up an engine hoist and a sheet of plywood to negate the gravel driveway). Notable moments included breaking an S-K socket while trying to undo a motor mount, and remembering the flex plate bolts at the last possible minute. To help access the flex plate bolts, I ziptied up a swivelly-access ratchet, and 20min later we had the engine pulled. The only tool casualty of the pull:

Still got a fair bit to do today on the Outback before it leaves, including pulling all the wiring...

But before I go back out, here's some more about the Forester. In the daylight, it definitely looks the part of a $300 Subaru That panel mismatch is because the PO of the PO hit a deer in the left front. The silver is simply sprayed on over the red of the replacement panels, and doesn't even match. So I'll be doing some painting after this is up and running. The Hakkepelita magnet is because I had it lying around and thought it would look good on the silver; I'm disappointed the equivalent space on the other side has the fuel filler door... The yellow on the headlights is a film that will come off, thankfully. And the grill also needs paint (it's held in with zipties to boot).

But so far, my favourite feature of the car is this: The sex-spec rear seats. Yes, they lock that far back!

Not pictured: The seller also threw in the rear wing and hood scoop off an XT, and both roof rack cross rails. Not sure if I'll be using the hood scoop, definitely going to put the wing on though.

wearymicrobe UltraDork
7/29/16 12:56 p.m.

Yeah I was thinking 3.6R swap, brain lumped all the H6's together.

7/29/16 6:32 p.m.

My goodness this is thorough. From my primary source account as the aforementioned "car-afflicted" friend, there is something pretty odd about this Forester: it doesn't have cruise control. It has the factory 90s airbag wheel but the slot usually reserved for the stalk was covered. What car has a leather interior but no cruise control? I certainly can't think of any others.

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
7/30/16 1:07 p.m.

In reply to hazmatt:

The leather / no cruise thing is weird. I think if I end up missing it, I'll be able to retrofit some type of system... This a Subaru after all. :P

The other thing I forgot to mention yesterday (and the main reason the Fozzy was $300) is The Sound. The PO took the front axles out trying to diagnose it, and while the boots on the axles are bad, they were definitely not the root cause of the problem. Nor the clutch, which is what he settled on when I bought the car.


With the clutch in, it's perfectly normal. In neutral, with the clutch out, it's also fine. But select any gear and let the clutch out, and the transaxle sounds like it is gargling sharp rocks in its gear oil.

Conclusion: The front diff is eating itself. I will be purchasing a used '98 Outback trans and replacement front axles (from Hazmatt no less) as soon as I pull and sell the EJ25...

hazmatt New Reader
7/30/16 8:37 p.m.

In reply to MrRobogoat:

I'm just happy some parts are leaving my garage to make your contraption roadworthy.

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/4/16 2:22 p.m.

Some more updates... Really thinking I need to post a version of this thread on a couple more Subaru specific forums (including NASIOC, but only because I need to use the marketplace there, it's really the VWVortex of the Subie world)

Anyway, here are some things I've done since the last post, in chronological order:

  • Pulled the wiring loom out of the Outback on Friday (week ago tomorrow). This was a pain, partly because I was trying to do it as fast as possible. Also I ended up cutting the dash bar in two spots because I didn't have a T40 security torx bit to get the airbag module out (necessary to remove the dash bar). After removing the dash bar to remove the climate control box, pulling the harness was easier (20 minutes including snaking it back through the firewall.). I left the fender harness (to the underhood fuse box) on the car, because I am fairly sure I didn't need it.

  • Had the Outback towed away by a sketchy guy off Craigslist. Like, seriously, if you're a scrapper, how do you not have a winch? Also I totally told him that the engine was gone and he offered $150, but then said he could only do $100 when he showed up. Had I more time, I would have saved the actual cat off the car, plus the $180-on-ebay tail light assembly off the hatch, plus the wheels, rear subframe, diff, rear brake brackets... So many parts, traded for some haste in it's removal (and maybe a slight rise in the neighbor's property values)

  • Scrapped the pre cats off the Outback ($70, Monday). Ran out to pick up some work gloves and stopped at the nearest scrapyard, wasn't too bad, but I'll try a different one next time.

  • moved the H6 onto a stand and into the garage (Tuesday). Surprisingly heavy engine, with all of it's accessories / intake manifold on. Had help from hazmatt for that, thankfully.

  • I then proceeded to shear off all three bolts that hold on the AC compressor bracket in such a way as to prevent it coming off. I was happy about the first two, because I can weld to the studs that are left (I am excited to try this trick, hopefully won't berkeley it up too bad), but then the third sheared and now I'll have to deal with bolt extractors or something. Also the valve cover gaskets really need replacement, but I'm not up to that point yet.

  • Had the first (of I'm sure several) existential crisis over this project (because of some rust): Why am I doing this?! Ended up deciding that I should stick with it because it's cool, also if the car does rot out I can weld it up, or if I end up parting it because of rust the harness will swap to a cleaner Forester / Impreza. Also, there's nothing approaching as good of a deal as the one I bought locally (and I'd have to pay to tow it home again, ick.)

  • Pulled the engine out of the Forester yesterday (Wednesday). Went fairly quickly this time, I think I'm getting the hang of it. Which is good, because the H6 will probably need to be removed for spark plug changes (yay Iridiums with 60k intervals!). This is the 4th Subaru engine I've pulled, each one a unique chassis / engine combination (probably because they never roll further than maybe a trailer after I pull them... :P ). Dropped off the engine at Hydrochloric's house (using hazmatt's Roadmaster), got to witness the carnage of his old engine (quite impressive), and see some new additions to their car collection since last I visited. Then we ate the pork shoulder that I had been smoking while we pulled the engine and dropped it off; it was quite tasty.

  • Found a fan at my friends house that may save me some dough. Some 12V Push-Pull thing that he bought for a 6V car apparently. Need to measure to see if it will fit, but the parts I need to measure can't be install yet, so I'll wait and see

  • Confirmed the Forester is a Hydraulic clutch and 3-pin VSS car, Outback trans is a cable clutch and 2-pin VSS car. This seems like a big deal, but this is a Subaru. The flanges for the clutch slave are there, a new speed sensor is not much money and will screw right in, and presto, the transmission from hazmatt should bolt in (providing me with a shorter fifth gear for improved fuel gulping on the highway! Yeah. I don't think I'll be getting on the highway very often, especially without cruise...).

  • Also save the EJ2.5 clutch kit out of the Forester, the disc has meat on it still (and it and the pressure plate are Valeo, a decent manufacturer). The Exedy OEM clutch kit was recommended to me, but I don't want to sink $180 on a new clutch when the wiring doesn't work yet (honestly I think I need that $180 more urgently elsewhere), so this will do for the time being (and I'll inevitably need to pull the engine a couple times after I'm done anyway, so it won't be the end of the world to tack on a clutch job).

  • Scored lots of documentation for both the Outback (ECU and TCU pinouts, manuals, etc) and the Forester (FSM). Downloaded several PDFs last night. I need to give our laserjet a nice workout and sit down and make a wire-by-wire harness merge plan (which I intend to document). I am now hoping I won't have to pull the whole dash out of the forester, maybe just the glovebox (which is almost as bad, gloveboxes are terrible to remove).

  • Sold more Outback parts to the Ukrainian machinist ($100, this morning). Got to visit his modular home thing, that actually had a really cool little attached workshop with a mill and lathe and some other stuff in there. So I've recouped $370 from the $200 Outback so far, and still have parts to sell (I'm counting the wheels and tires I bought with the car as a separate $300 purchase, since they were negotiated as such).

There are pictures for some of the above, which I'll get to adding below in a separate post. Still only really unbolting and bolting on stuff (and not even so much the latter), and it will continue that way for at least another day while I remove the old transmission. Then, the new transmission gets updated and goes in, and only then will I start on the wiring (which is where things get interesting, IMO). Hopefully that will happen next week...

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/4/16 4:13 p.m.

Great Read! Thanks for sharing.

NGTD UberDork
8/4/16 8:53 p.m.

If the guy pulled the front axles and was driving it like that then there is no question the centre diff is eating itself.

You can't do that to a Subaru, not even for a short distance.

ssswitch HalfDork
8/4/16 11:36 p.m.

The worst part about swapping the VSS is getting the factory loctite out.

While the trans is out it might make sense to clean the reverse and neutral switches while they are still largely accessible...

What rear diff is in that Forester? They made some weird choices early on with some packages.

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/5/16 1:50 p.m.

In reply to NGTD:

I should clarify -- he pulled the axles in an attempt to locate the root of the noise, and finding that both axles were intact, was stumped slightly. He didn't drive it that way, it won't move. I did put in in gear to see what sound the transaxle would make, to confirm it wasn't the clutch, obviously finding the gargling gravel noise (deduction led me to the front diff, as it doesn't do it in Neutral + location of noise). The PO described it as "bucking" when driving before he took it apart, too, so I can only imagine the shear carnage going on inside...

I'm thinking long term I'll weld up the center diff / pull the front (always wanted to see inside the case anyway) and plate it off to make it a RWD trans for some drifting fun if I ever want it.

MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/9/16 8:25 p.m.

I spent Thursday through yesterday prepping, attending, and recuperating from a folk festival, so no progress has been made on the Forester since pulling the engine.

No idea on what rear diff it has. I do however know for sure that I sent a 4.111 viscous coupled rear diff to the scrapper still in the Outback... Second time I've made that mistake, actually. Whoops. In retrospect, had I more time, I should have kept the whole rear subframe, rear diff, and the rear center tail light section.

Transmission and front axles should be arriving tomorrow, and I'll be re-immersing myself in this project... In the meantime let's do those pictures I procrastinated on:

The Forester, prepped for pulling the engine. Note the red hood and driver's fender, on the list to get fixed 'eventually'.

I've been using the hatch area of the Forester as storage space (with a tarp to prevent coolant / oil soaking the interior too much), though it's notable more empty now that I've sold the interior bits.

Literally turned around from the last picture to take this one, of the grill / smoker. Cooked some burgers for lunch, and had smoked pork for dinner (both were absolutely amazing). The setup of working outside right near the fire really helped with keeping it super smoky.

This is some of the rust that I am slightly concerned over. Mostly because to fix it right I think the windshield will need to come out. Interestingly, it's just the one side, the passenger side has been caulked differently and is not at all rusty. It's not worth my time to fix it yet, so I'm going to ignore it (maybe try some rust converter + caulk to slow the progress) until the car at least runs and drives in a way I like.

The other main bit of rust I'm concerned about. This one will take a bit of skill I'm not sure I possess yet to form and weld an appropriate patch panel; something I'm not about to embark on when it doesn't move yet...

A blurry shot of the H6 on the stand in the back of the garage (manoeuvring it around my immobile Fiat wasn't fun). I checked the spark plugs (all present, in decent condition, and the correct plugs) and did eventually succeed in pulling the AC compressor, otherwise it's still complete.

Yaaaaaahh... It leaks a bit. Pretty sure it's just the bottom of the valve covers primarily (maybe also the timing chain cover / some oil piping near the oil filter), the spark plug holes were pretty clean. The motor mounts are still quite good though, so at least I don't have to buy those!

First of the three bolts I broke off trying to get the bracket that held the AC compressor on off.

The other two bolts. Note that these two are perpendicular to the previous one; all three broke off just below the head [of the bolt]. I initially appreciated this, since I can weld onto the studs and yank 'em out... But the AC bracket's still in the way, and obviously won't budge (due to the arrangement of the bolts). So, I'm thinking I'll have to drill out the one on the side slightly, but that makes removing it a much PITA... I hope this won't end up as ugly as I feel it could be.

This is how far apart I had to take the Outback to get the harness out; you can also see where I cut the dash bar to get it out.

A picture of the outside of the Outback before it was hauled away. I really left far too much on the car, I probably would be further ahead if I had pulled more and had it towed for free instead of trying to get the most out of the scrapper.

Lastly, for giggles, here are six of the seven air fresheners I found in the Forester. Also not pictured are the two bars of fine, German "chocolate" -- they weren't really chocolate any more, just brown goo that seemed an awful lot like something a baby might excrete from being left in the glovebox for god knows how long...

...I can confirm it still tasted like chocolate though!

rob_lewis SuperDork
8/10/16 1:07 p.m.
MrRobogoat wrote: Also not pictured are the two bars of fine, German "chocolate" -- they weren't really chocolate any more, just brown goo that seemed an awful lot like something a baby might excrete from being left in the glovebox for god knows how long... ...I can confirm it still tasted like chocolate though!

Nomination for the "Say What" part of the magazine.


MrRobogoat GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/25/16 5:26 p.m.

Making slow progress, I think I'm procrastinating on the wiring. I actually have an idea of what I'm doing with it (I've got a spreadsheet already started with some of the connectors I need to splice... Really I'm dreading pulling the harness out of the Forester, for obvious reasons). The new trans is here, and I managed to get everything off of it, and some of the correct bits on -- snapped one of the bolts for the exhaust bracket, so I got to practice welding a nut onto the stud to remove it... Worked like a charm, once I got an actual nut and not a random bit of scrap steel with a hole in it. Good to know for the 3 bolts that I snapped trying to get the AC bracket off the engine...

Part of the hold up has been that I've been directing energy at my other car (a '78 Fiat 124 Spider in the garage for some rust repair / front suspension rebuild). I'll get around to making a thread for it at some point.

Anyway, I ordered the vehicle speed sensor I need (the one in the borked transmission did not want to come out, what a surprise), still need to order a new transmission mount; I'm thinking of snagging a Group N mount off Ebay. I know I don't want a completely solid mount (which I could weld up in a few hours with steel I have right now), and the time / opportunity cost of building a mount with bushings adds up to more than buying a Group N mount. I ruled out the stock mount quickly, because it would wear out in maybe a year with the extra power and is a pain to change (and could take the engine mounts with it). Also should probably replace the trans crossmember bushings while I'm at it.

Back to the transmission; here's a noob question: how bad is it to reuse clutch parts? Specifically, the flywheel bolts, pressure plate bolts, throwout and pilot bearings? I have been thinking since the flywheel and clutch aren't being replaced the pilot bearing should be okay; the throwout bearing I can go either way on, and the bolts I feel the answer is "NO". Is that about right?

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