I've refreshed the engine with new bearings and rings; and put in a new clutch. Everything has been disassembled, inspected, cleaned, and reassembled to spec.
The engine ran on three cylinders from the moment it started.
I have eliminated fuel, spark, timing, and a bad lifter as causes. I don't know what's wrong.
So the next task will be to do a compression check; I have to know if the damn pistons are making any compression or not. Once I know that--and assuming that I find bad compression on one or more cylinders--I can do a leakdown test (as I originally intended) and try to get some idea of where the air is leaking.
Either way, it sounds like I'm going to be removing the cylinder head at least.
And what if the compression is good on all four, and consistent? What do I do then? Well, then I get to start troubleshooting the engine wiring harness, because if the mechanical side of things is good, I'm going to have to check the electrical side.
I keep thinking, "What if that new crank position sensor I bought is bad?" But if any sensor on the engine was bad--or dis- or misconnected--it would throw a code and the "check engine" light would be on. And the "check engine" light ain't on when the engine's running even while it's running on three cylinders, so obviously the ECM thinks the engine is running just fine.
If it's electrical, I think I'm going to call up the guy I worked for in 2005 and enlist his help. It'll cost me a bit, but he's got a very nice Snap-On engine scanner which ought to find the problem lickety-split.
* * *
You know, you'd think that after all the shit I've been through in the past three months I would at least be able to count on my mechanical skills to see me through a bit of car trouble.
But no; I had to talk about my mechanical skills, and so the universe has decided to take me down a peg.
Go ahead; call me paranoid.
I don't care.
I know how things are.
* * *
Anyway, that's all I've got for now. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me so it's likely I'm not going to do anything to the car before Sunday afternoon at the earliest. That'll have to do, I guess.