Thursday, August 4, 2016

So what's going on with the Teal Terror?

The Teal Terror's Engine Bay

Back in June, we told you that our 1995 Suzuki Sidekick, aka the Teal Terror, was having engine issues. Well, I tore into the engine a little and found the culprit. As suspected and as was suggested by many a Suzukiphile, the keyway on the end of the crankshaft has fouled.

Damaged keyway

What you're looking at here is the end of the engine's crankshaft. Usually, this is under the timing cover, and has the timing gear on it. Needless to say, that slot—the keyway—is supposed to be straight and clean, not all busted up looking. Normally there's a woodruff key in that channel, too. If you're like me, you've seen woodruff keys at hardware stores and always wondered what the hell they are. They look like this:

Woodruff key

They're actually just small locators on a shaft so you can line other things up. In this case, a woodruff key goes into that little slot on the crankshaft slot, and helps to locate the timing gear. In my case, it was nearly sheared off. Had it sheared all the way off, the engine would be totally destroyed as the pistons would've collided with the valves in a symphony of destruction. Cue the Megadeath.

At some time, the bolt that goes into the crankshaft that holds the timing gear onto the crankshaft was likely removed and torqued down to spec, which was 81 ft/lbs. However, at some point, a technical service bulletin (TSB) was issued saying spec should actually be 94 ft/lbs. Of course, if no one ever retorqued the crankshaft bolt, you end up with the shit-tastic situation you see above. In extreme cases, the woodruff key can actually shear and cause the crank gear to let loose, and then you're really screwed since, yes, this is an interference engine. See above Megadeath reference.

Is this repairable without a full engine rebuild? The short answer is: probably.

There are several approaches that could be taken to remedy the situation. The most costly would be to rebuild the engine, and that would be a guaranteed fix. A costly, costly fix. However, since this keyway issue is something that is a known entity in the Suzuki world, there are fixes out there. Yes, I could weld the timing gear to the crankshaft. That's not something I really want to do yet. A more accepted fix is kind of an odd one, but it involves Loctite and a little tiny piece of metal, as evidenced on

Essentially, you buy a new woodruff key (see above), and then a product from the folks at Loctite called 660, which is a metal retaining compound. You basically fill the gap, align the key, let things cure, and reassemble. And as much as this sounds like a backwoods fix, apparently it's what many people do for repair, and with great results. There are accounts of this holding for 80,000+ miles without failure.

So next stop will be the hardware store for a new woodruff key and some Loctite 660 (EDIT: Apparently Loctite 660 will only fill up to a 0.5mm gap, so I might go with Loctite 1C). We'll be sure to let you know how it turns out. What's the worst that could happen? The engine gets damaged? Ha!


Ducati Scotty said...

Epoxy. To fix a crankshaft. Made of steel. Sounds legit.


Good luck Andy. Sorry I'm out of town and can't lend a hand.

Andy Lilienthal said...

No worry, Scott. I'll wait till you comeback. :-p