So in trying to remove the diff from the drive shaft, I was poking around the underside of the car and discovered something fairly alarming. At some point, the nuts holding the transmission brace had rattled off, and the whole brace had fallen onto the exhaust. It wasn't that far off, not even the length of the studs extending under the car. Maybe half an inch total lower then it should be. However, I think we all know that an exhaust should not be holding your transmission in the car. Discovering this, I made a snap decision to just pull the engine.
Here's my logic... Since I purchased this car, I've been less than impressed with the plumbing and wiring. It always felt like a rush job. The previous owner told me that he brought it to a shop in his area to have them complete those two areas, and they clearly just phoned it in. While it is functional, the car did run after all, it is ugly and completely unservicable. For example, if the shift linkage failed, the exhaust would have to come out completely to reach it. In order to remove the exhaust, the subframe has to come out. This is because the exhaust is one piece front to back, a removable mid section would prevent this. Same with the wiring, the radiator fan wiring ran a full loop of the engine bay for no apparent reason, and every single wire coming off the relay was the same color. These are details that make working on the car a nightmare.
So time to redo everything.
First the hood came off. Side note, Jesus Christ the 2002 has a heavy hood. Like surprisingly so. You can see I started moving things around in the engine bay. I cut the exhaust off the car underneath, but the bolts from the header to the midsection were seized, so it's stuck together. I can't drop the exhaust out the gap, so it'll have to come out after the engine. It is free from the car entirely though.
Below are some examples of the things that drive me nuts about this swap. The wiring is zip tied to coolant hoses, relay blocks are shoved where ever they'll sit, dead systems just remain in the car for no real reason. I found quite a few wires sitting in the engine bay that just generally lead no where on either end.
These zip ties were all removed from coolant hoses. Almost all of them were tightened to the point where they were digging into the hose. In many cases wiring harness portions were also ziptied to the hose, and then the whole lot was zip tied to the chassis. Look, zip ties are useful in moderation. But this engine bay basically fell apart when I started removing zip ties.
I finished the weekend removing the intake manifold. A hateful job that was 100% designed by someone who had a grudge against people with big hands. I spent far too much time removing that manifold from the engine. I wanted to do it in the bay to give myself more room to extract the engine, but I borderline regret doing that now. It ate up hours. The cooling system was removed as well, and the wiring harness was labeled and separated from the engine as best as I could. I'm sure we'll discover how good a job I did when the engine comes out.
Once the engine is out, it's time for some clean up. I'll be cutting off any brackets that are not needed, plugging any holes that serve no purpose, and sending the car off again for some fresh engine bay paint. I won't call it a shaved bay, but... trimmed? Yeah, sure trimmed bay. I also ordered something I'm extremely excited about, this part is the crowning jewel to this car. It'll realize the dream 2002 for me. I'm being intentionally vague until they get in, so in the mean time, here's a picture of my dog.