CSULA Hears the Roar of the Engine

Chris, Justin and Russell working on the Franken-harness

After months of hard work, the CSULA EcoCAR 2 team is excited to announce it was able to get the LE9 E-85 engine running and wheels turning! The physical engine replacement was completed in November, but the vehicle still waited for a new computer and wire harness, which arrived a couple of weeks ago.

The new harness was assembled from two new harnesses and one old harness by the electrical department along with the team lead, Chris Reid. They meticulously and systematically labeled connectors, pins and circuits according to General Motors instructions. Then they proceeded with repining process: removing the pins and their respective wires from the connectors in their original harnesses and inserting them into new connectors to create the final “Franken-harness.” As the team discovered, a welding wire with a makeshift handle makes an excellent, affordable and immediately available repining tool. Along the way, a few discrepancies in the repining instructions were discovered and corrected in collaboration with Kevin Storch the team’s General Motors mentor.

“Within a few days of receiving the instructions, CSULA had already completed the conversion and was feeding back any issues that they had found. This allowed us to quickly investigate, resolve and release an updated version to the rest of the teams before they ran into the same problems, saving a lot of time for everyone involved,” noted Mr. Storch.

After double checking everything and systematically correcting a variety of contact and communications issues, the initial starts of the engine revealed that the throttle was not controlled. This issue was addressed by a new engine ECM rushed from GM. With the throttle body flapped like it was gasping for one last breath of fresh air, the engine cranked and finally started.

The engine start resulted in a number of diagnostic trouble codes on CSULA’s Snap-On Sollus Ultra™. After a couple more hours of troubleshooting, the engine came to life with a tremendous roar for the first time with the help of the Franken-harness. “It was great news to hear that CSULA had a running engine, confirming the plans we had laid out on paper were an eventual success in the donated vehicles,” said Mr. Storch.

This is a great milestone for CSULA and the team is proud of all the work that it took to get to this point. Check out a video of the engine on and the wheels turning below!

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