It's been a while. Here's an update on this project:
- New Radiator Installed, no more cold spots
- New O2 Sensor + New Iridium Spark plugs resolved the power loss issue
- New Water Pump and Timing Belt resolved water pump chirp
- Removed the thermostat - boy does it hold cool now
- New battery terminals solved an issue where I lost all electrical at a stop light (terrible/fun story)
The Trooper runs so much better. I didn't realize how anemic is was before. Just did a two hour round trip camping trip, and it ran like a champ...
Except that it had the heat up and sudden temp drop issue again at the end of the trip. There was no water vapor coming out of the pipe when I was running it just prior to the trip. I topped off the radiator, ran it again from cold, and for the first time, I'm seeing bubbles in the radiator. I ran a compression test a few months back, and had one showing low as well, but it held with a wet tests.
(One of my door locks broke as well preventing the door from unlocking, but this seems to be a known issue with a plastic clip breaking that I can resolve after dismembering the door)
I'm going to pull the heads shortly and see if there is any warping before I order my parts, but I'm considering just buying one of the kits that has new pistons, rings, gaskets, etc. for a rebuild. $300 and change doesn't seem too bad for a refreshed engine. I'm not sure I could find a good pick and pull engine for that much, because I'd still have to go back and check all of the same things out.
Is there anything squirrely that I should be watching out for in the rebuild? Any minor improvements that can be made on these 3.2s (that still let me pass CA smog)?