Magilla Gorilla: Downtime (Part 1)

With the acquisition of my new daily shitboxer and my collection of parts complete, it was time put the JZX on jack stands and do some more work:

-Change valve cover gasket
-Mount battery
-Clean air filter
-Install new JZX110 tension rods
-Install new TOM’S front under brace


Valve Cover. When I started removal of the passenger cover (the one that has been leaking), I saw a crack on the cover by the front mounting tab. It was basically separating from the cover. Hopefully, this crack has been the source of my incurable leak. It was never visible before, but there has been a slow leak since I bought the car. I picked up a new-used pair of cam covers.

Mount Battery. I found the stock battery tie down in the trunk. Realizing it had all the required parts, I put it on. It fit the Optima Redtop snugly as it should and bolted into place like stock. One more item closer to being track ready.

Air Filter. I pulled my air filter and, to my surprise, it’s a Blitz LM unit. Not knowing how to clean it, I did what I thought best – hit it with a one-two punch of aggressive bathroom cleaner followed by Joy dish soap. A before and after visual of light passing through shows signs of it may have done some good. 1hp improvement!

Easy to see the gain in clearance.

JZX110 Tension Rods. I’ve been waiting to install these until I had my TOM’S front brace. They have a lot of extra lock clearance and a new OEM bushing. My stock bushings were SHOT! Two benefits and a cheap upgrade.

Install Tip: With the bushing end mounted on its stud, it leaves the two bolt holes slightly misaligned and off-plane of the two mounting points on the front lower control arm (FLCA). To solve this and avoid any other parts removal, I used a jack and some leverage. The pics will explain better:

To align the holes more closely, use a jack under the FLCA. As you raise it, you can feel inside the bolt holes with your pinky to check alignment of the two holes.

With them aligned, they will still be off plane which will result in stripping or cross threading if you manage to get the bolt to start. To tweak the rod onto the same plane, I slid a beefy screw driver in between the rod and the lower shock mounting bracket. Since it is a rubber bushing, it has the play necessary to be tweaked into the needed plane. Pull down on the screwdriver with one hand and start threading the bolt with the other.

TOM’S Brace. The TOM’S front lower brace is one of the more expensive on the market but unlike any other in design. Unlike cheaper units that reuse the stock stamped steel caster rod mounting plates, the TOM’S unit is a direct replacement for the whole stock lower brace tying together the three caster plate mounting points on each side and front subframe. Excellent quality and no doubt a superior design. Installation was a snap.

The cherry on top…errr…bottom. That’s all for Part 1. Part 2 is in the works.

Just to add some reality to what seems like smooth sailing, here are a few bloopers from said progress. While trying to put it on stands, the car tried to commit suicide by sliding off the jack stands. This was due to using a rolling jack on dirt ground so the jack couldn’t roll as it raised. This resulted in a raising pulling effect. Scary situation number one. Luckily, it caught itself without damage and I managed to get it propped up securely.

While I was installing the caster rods, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to tweak them into position. In one attempt, I was laying with my head under the bushing end of the rod. While pulling down and twisting the rod with all my might, the rod slid off the stud and smashed my temple with unbelievable force. A split second prior, I asked myself, “Do I have the bolt in holding it on the stud?” I got my painful answer and put the bolt in.

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