Robs Stupid Buggy Page


This is Robs Stupid Buggy Page. It is Stupid.

Apr 01,2010 I have been fulfilling my gocart jones with the lawnmower and generic gocarts and 4 wheelers lately, but recently found the need to have a 2 seater buggy for some trail riding. Some friends that we go riding with have Polaris Rangers, and Yamaha Rhinos, and it is really handy to be able to carry cargo on the trail rides. We have been bringing the 4 wheelers, which are more fun than the Rangers, but would be better if we could carry our own cooler instead of relying on other people to carry our stuff. I thought briefly about buying a Ranger, but they are silly expensive, have small tires, underpowered, and fragile. I guess Ill have to make my own!

The plan is to make a buggy similar in size to a Polaris Ranger, but with larger tires, better suspension, a bigger motor to turn the tires, and less wimpy parts in between

After much research, I decided to make a buggy like the first lawnmower, but with suspension and geared differently to have a higher top speed. Putting the motor under the seat like the Rangers make for better weight distribution and shorter wheelbase. Using a typical car motor would prevent the motor from fitting under the seat, but a boxer type motor would fit sideways and be shorter to fit much better.

Volkswagon motors are plentiful and cheap, but are really old technology, being air cooled, pushrods, point type ignition, and carbureted. Subaru motors are similar shape, but are liquid cooled, overhead cams, electronic ignition, and fuel injected. Sounds like a plan to me.

A Subaru motor is quite oversized for a buggy. I thought briefly about using a goldwing motor, but the manual gearbox and lack of reverse was a deal breaker.

Putting a 4WD Subaru motor in the rear in a conventional way would be kinda cool, but the transmission would stick out the rear quite a ways, would make connecting power to the front wheels quite tricky, and would have way too tall gearing for a low speed offroad cruising buggy. I plan on using a 2WD Subaru drivetrain, putting the motor in sideways and further forward for better weight distribution and channeling the power through a differential to get better gearing and additional torque.

The plan side view The plan top view Gear Ratios

Found another car that wants to be a buggy

90 Subaru Legacy with fuel injection, and 4 speed automatic overdrive

Robs Stupid Progress Report Pages

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May Progress Page

June Progress Page

July Progress Page

August Progress Page

September Progress Page

October Progress Page

Jun 08, 2013 Its been nearly 3 years, and the buggy has been getting harder to start when it was cold out, so I decided it was time to replace the motor with the one from the 95 Subaru. I know the fuel injectors on the 1990 motor are iffy at best, and the idle air control is having issues. I think it is best to just replace the whole motor. I will be keeping the trans from the 1990, because I already welded the diff.

Had to cut the frame to get the motor out

The torque converter was a HUGE pain to get re-aligned to mesh with the transmission. Reading about it online, people say you should never separate the torque converter from the transmissions on these models unless absolutely necessary. I finally managed to get them to mate up, which was a relief.

New motor mostly bolted right up

Houston, we have a problem!! The connectors for the new motor are completely different than the old motor! What to do? You can see the 3 connectors in the following picture towards the top right of where the motor and transmission come together.

New motor mostly bolted right up.

Jul 18,2014 It has been nearly a year since I replaced the motor, and I was so angry at myself for not checking such things that it took awhile before I started thinking about the best way to fix it.

There are 5 possible solutions: 1. Cut the new motor wiring harness to graft on plugs from old motor. 2. Cut the old computer harness to graft plugs from new motor wiring harnesss, 3. Replace buggies wiring harness with harness from new motor, 4. Buy an aftermarket computer. 5. Make my own computer.

I really didnt like option 1 or 2, since I already know the fuel injectors are different, and who knows what else could be? Different type of sensors could mess up the sensors, the computer, or both.

I really didnt like option 3 either, since there are alot of wires in the 1990 harness I had to stretch to reach the steering column and various things, and I had to do alot of detective work on which ones went to the lights and stuff to be able to use the existing fusebox, fuses and switches to run accessories. The 1995 harness is about twice as many wires in the harness, since it has ABS, Traction control, airbags, alarm system, each with their associated computer and gobs of wires.

Option 4 seemed like an easy way out, but the prices they want are ridiculous. When I see the little box, I just cant rationalize spending that much money for what it is. I guess you are really mostly paying for the software.

Option 5 sounded the cheapest, but would probably take hundreds of hours to get the programming right so it would run well under all circumstances.

It took me nearly a year to decide. I was wandering around town, and the wife almost talked me into buying a side by side UTV. Im all about buying new toys, but after thinking about it for a bit, I remembered that I already had a side by side that had reasonably sized tires to not sink in snow or sand, and was built with much heavier duty parts, was way faster, and probably more comfortable to ride in. I came home and dragged my buggy out from behind the barn.

I decided on option 3. It doesnt cost anything, and shouldnt take very long compared to making my own computer to run the dang thing. I mostly forgot how many wires there were. The various harnesses were overflowing several 5 gallon buckets. This is what it looked like after 2 days of messing with it.

ALOT more wires than older one.

Keep in mind that this is only about half the wiring harness that was in the car. There are 4 harnesses (one for each door), one for trunk area, one for lights, one for airbags, and several other ones that dont look like I will need, for a total of 18.

I finally got it to have power to the ignition, and it makes a momentary humming noise when I turn the key like it used to with the old motor, but I dont have any dash lights yet. Im probably just missing some grounds. A few more hours and I should have dash indicators like the check engine light and stuff. Then I can fix the spark ignitor plug that got shattered somehow, and it should fire right up. Then I can worry about trimming down the extra wires and tucking stuff away.

Jul 27,2014 A couple of the harness plugs were swapped, and now the motor turns over when turning the key, but no start. I think I found the fuel pump power, but it only turns on for a second or so, then turns off until the motor is cranked. I temporarily hotwired it to the ignition, at least until I get it started.

Aug 05,2014 It has been raining or threatening to rain, pretty much every time I have time to work on my buggy. I have fuel pressure and it cranks over, just no spark and probably no fuel injector firing. I finally decided to push it into the garage so I could break out with the scope without worry of getting it wet.

Hooking the scope to the ignitor showed no signal from computer. More importantly, it revealed that the battery voltage was dropping to about 6 volts while cranking. I figured the computer wasnt very happy with the low voltage. Charging the battery for an hour or so didnt make it much better, so I stole a battery from one of my other machines. Cranking the motor with the different battery sounded way different and showed pulses coming from the computer for the spark ignitor. Happy Joy!

After letting the battery charge for awhile, I tried to start it, and it mostly fired right up! The Buggy Lives!!!!!

Upon starting, it spewed transmission fluid all over, so I had to shut it off to hook up the transmission cooler lines. After fixing the hoses, starting it was way easy, and required no throttle input, unlike the other motor that was starting to require voodoo to get it to start! It is idling around 2000 rpm and sounds smooth, but the check engine light is on and it doesnt rev up very well. Its probably a combination of vacuum leak, old gas, wrong MAF sensor, angry CPU from the low voltage cranking, and cold motor, but it runs, and I am VERY HAPPY!!

I still have lots to do to get it driveable again. The steering column, (with the 95 ignition on it), is in the back area, there are gobs of wires everywhere, It has the wrong MAF sensor, because the 95 air box is shaped way different and didnt want to modify the mounts. I have to weld the frame back together where I cut it to get the motor out, a brake line needs to be replaced that got cut when I cut the frame, and the worst part is I have to replace the water pump, because I cracked the surface that mates with the thermostat housing when I was moving the motor around. It runs though and I am very happy.

Aug 11, 2014 The problem with revving up was from a loose connector on the throttle position sensor. It was still rough starting and idled REALLY high for a bit, then the idle would drop and surge really bad. The check engine light would come on immediately when the idle dropped. I fought for quite awhile with trying to figure why it was acting so strange. I finally broke down and bought an OBDII scanner.

It only took a couple minutes to get the error code: P0505 Idle Air Control Solenoid. Pulling the Idle Controller input hose, and blocking it and the hole in the intake made it require giving it a little bit of gas to start, but idled really smooth right down to about 500 rpm! Seems the solenoid was stuck open making it idle high, then the computer used fuel cut to keep the RPMs in check.

Unfortunately, the service manual checklist verified all the electrical connections, and pointed to a mechanical failure. The procedure it recommended involved spraying 12 or 16 ounces of cleaner into the idle solenoid input while running at about 2000 rpm. This accomplished nothing except making lots of white smoke out of the exhaust.

Removing and inspecting innards of solenoid showed a piece of a leaf jammed between the moving parts. Removing the leaf and cleaning inside as good as I could made it happy again!! Buggy now idles just fine and check engine light is off!

Just for funny, I lined up my buggy next to the wifes silly little girl buggy. They are almost exactly the same size. Mine looks a little wider, and is at the tires, but the body on mine is actually an inch and a half narrower.

Almost exactly same size as a Teryx.

Almost exactly same size as a Teryx.

I got the water pump changed, (that wasnt fun!), the brake line replaced, the frame welded back together, and even managed to trim quite a bit from the wiring harness and got alot of wires straightened up. Still need to stretch wires for ignition, headlight switch, and instrument panel, and connect wires for headlights, and radiator fan, but I was able to drive it!!

Got harness trimmed and most wires tucked away.

You may notice that the computer is above the transmission this time. I really dont want it to get wet any more. There are still about 4 or 5 different controller boxes attached to the wiring harness. Im pretty sure it only needs 2 of them, (the main computer and transmission controller). I dont even know which one is the transmission controller, but will be trimming more later as time permits, but needs radiator fan more, and I want to be able to take it out this weekend.

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