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Installing the 4EFTE Ross Performance Harmonic Damper

Toyota is a brand loved because their vehicles above all else, are reliable, sometimes to a fault. Leading up to the 8/6 Day track event I discovered an issue with the fuel pump and filter on my EP82 Toyota Starlet GT Turbo, this was quickly replaced and I made my way up to The FIRM, drove on track all day, and cruised all the way home without incident. The following day, however, I uncovered something that was missing that almost ended in a catastrophic failure. While going over my car, rotating tires, changing the oil, and just cleaning up, I heard a squeak from my belts, and when I went under the car to get a better angle to make adjustments I noticed that my crank pulley bolt was missing!

Do you ever get that feeling of an adrenaline rush, a shower of fear, and a slap of relief when you experience a near miss? That is exactly what happened to me when I noticed that the crank bolt decided to take a trip at some point during my weekend at the track. I drove over 300 miles, pushed my car on track, and somehow managed to keep the crank pulley on without the bolt, I'm not sure when I lost it but I know why it took a hike. While troubleshooting the EP82, before we figured out it was a fuel issue, we checked the timing and used a breaker bar to move the crank around, it was raining and we ended up getting distracted and when I was told to turn the engine over, I heard a huge bang. The bang I heard was the breaker bar smacking against the floor of my driveway and loosening my crank pulley bolt, sadly, I never went back to check if it was loose or not.

I quickly checked to see if everything looked ok, and I was relieved that it did, but I needed a bolt, so I logged on to to get the crank bolt number so I could order it at my local dealer, sadly it turned up out of stock, not just here in the U.S. where it has no counterpart, but everywhere around the world which means I needed an alternative. I looked around and found a forum post where some fellas said the 4EFE and 5EFE engines had a bolt that was slightly shorter but would work, well we got the 5EFE in the Paseo so I called the dealer and ordered the bolt over the phone, $7 with tax and it would arrive later that afternoon. When it arrived I screwed it in and used my brother's Snap-On digital torque wrench to clamp it down to 155nm (114 ft-lbs), but right when I got to the 130nm it just spun...O...M...G.

It turns out that the 4E/5E crank bolt doesn't work on the 4EFTE, part of it could be that my particular Starlet has air conditioning and power steering and some don't or people use different crank pulleys, whatever it is, I ended up stripping the initial threads on my crank. I was terrified thinking about what I would do, I use my Starlet often enough that it kind of serves as a daily, and it's been fairly bulletproof with my only issue being a dead fuel pump and clogged filter, what was I going to do? Giving up wasn't an option, so I went on Amazon and ordered a thread chaser and cleaning set, I needed to make sure the inner threads of the crank were good for whatever bolt was going to go in next which was a challenge itself. So, off came the belts, and off came the pulley, but something didn't seem right upon closer inspection. The keyway or woodruff key slot was damaged, it was a little bit wider than it should been and when the damper was on the crank I could wobble it back and forth which surely can't be a good thing. The pulley also had a fracture near the damaged slot but I would have to sort that out later and try to save my engine.

Finding a bolt was a mission, I looked at every bolt I had in my garage to see if anything fit or if I could at least match the M12 x 1.25 thread, and I needed it in grade 10.9 to match what came on the car to reach the torque. So on I went, physically checking every automotive parts store chain in the area, and then on to fastener dealers, all without any luck. Something in my mind told me to stop wasting my time and just go to Ace Hardware and when I did, I finally received the help I needed and purchased three bolts that were in spec with various lengths to see what would work best, all for around $4 or so. Going back home I immediately put on a brave face and ran the appropriate thread chaser all the way down the crank pulley bolt slot, it gave me resistance and I used a little bit of oil and WD40 to clean it all out so I wouldn't further damage anything, it was a great feeling when I was finally done. Next, I tried to fit the bolts I ordered, but that didn't go smoothly, I had to clean the threads with the same kit, this time running the bolt through the nut until all of the imperfections were removed from the threads. It was now time to put on my old pulley and torque it down to spec, just so I could drive, but my journey was far from over.

During all of this shopping and scrambling for solutions, I got online and did a bit of research for a new pulley, I really wanted OEM, lightened pulleys without any rubber to dampen were out of the question, and although people online said they used the 4EFE/5EFE pulley; I didn't want to take that risk. So in comes Ross Performance Parts from Australia which has been in the automotive business since 1981 offering a variety of harmonic dampers, dry sump parts, and other accessories for Toyota engines and other makes. They just so happen to be the only place I could find that made a dampened crank pulley that could handle much more abuse than the OEM unit, seriously being rated for 500 horsepower means it'll outlast my engine for sure. Of course, I'm not really aiming to make over triple the stock horsepower on my 4EFTE, but it's nice to know that as I go on making power upgrades, my bottom end will have an extra layer of protection. Ross Performance designed this part using 3D modeling which allowed them to maintain the stock dimensions so you don't have to try figuring out which belt fits which accessory or potentially losing out on power steering or AC, both can be kept as part of your rotating assembly. A proprietary process called Ross Tuffbond also helps keep this damper vibration-free as well as tear-free rubber when mating metal to rubber, this is important to keep away torsional vibration that can damage your engine's internals. This new damper also just looks amazing, it has a nice matte black finish, laser etched timing marks, and 10.9 steel hardware, not to mention it's SFI 18.1 certified which is of course important for those looking to compete at a high level.

Since the Ross Performance Parts Toyota 4EFTE Metal Jacket Harmonic Damper is built to fit like stock, it goes on just like the OEM unit. I had to first grab my socket set and a couple of wrenches to once again remove the belts off the pulley. First, I removed the power steering belt, loosening the two 14mm bolts that hold on the mounting bracket and then using a 12mm to lower the tension adjustment screw that raises and lowers the pump itself. Next, the alternator belt came off, a bolt below the alternator got cracked loose and then the top adjustment belt was loosened quite a bit to allow me to pull the alternator towards the front of the car so I could slide that belt off as well. With the old pulley in plain sight it was time to raise the car a bit off of the ground to give me some room to work and turn the wheel out of the way, then I put on this monstrous pulley holder and used my breaker bar to loosen the crank bolt. I then had to use OEM tools part 27187 (Harmonic Balancer Puller) to remove the pulley, I rented this from Autozone which just involved paying $25 and getting a refund when I returned it the next day, this process was fairly easy but the book says you should lower your thanks. After getting that old pulley off it was time to prep the crank surface with a little bit of anti-seize lubricant and get some blue thread sealer on my new crank pulley bolt that was paired with a 10.9 grade steel washer. On the pulley went, I lined up the woodruff key and pushed it in a fair bit until I knew it was on and could turn the crank by hand, then I slowly used my bolt and washer to seat the harmonic damper on all the way down until it turned the motor. Working in reverse, I used my pulley holder again and then used a Snap-On digital torque wrench set to 155nm to finish installing my new damper, and like that, I was able to put my belts back on and call it a day.

After installing this beautiful unit I felt bad that I would have to get my under tray back on and not be able to see it as often (just kidding, I want to keep my bay debris-free) but I enjoyed the peace of mind knowing that this issue has finally been resolved. There's no notable difference from what I experienced when I first drove my Starlet GT Turbo out of the shipping dock years ago, and that's exactly what I wanted from this part, to just have confidence in knowing my little 1.3L is back to being relatively bulletproof. It wasn't an inexpensive option nor did it arrive by next-day air like so many have become accustomed to when ordering off of Amazon, but I paid a bargain for a high-quality part designed by people who put their reputation on the line supporting builds much more complex than my own. The people at Ross Performance Parts were friendly, helpful, and responsive; they built my part from scratch and it was delivered to my doorstep in a very neat box within 7 days, that is what I call pleasing your customer. So, with all of that said, I'm looking forward to just enjoying every moment with my Starlet GT Turbo, a car with a cult following that I have optimized as a daily driver that can also endure some track time, let's see what upgrades I have in store next, stay tuned...literally.

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