I dropped the pan and inspected what was left in the bottom. Still, no large pieces of bearing, just very fine powdery aluminum suspended in the oil.
The knocking rod wasn't the no. 3 rod that we suspected. It was the no. 4 rod. The bearing wasn't spun at all. Both halves were still present and fully intact. They were just wobbled out on the inside. Here you can see the no. 4 lower bearing half compared to the no. 1. It'* quite a bit thinner.
Also shown is the no. 4 journal and the no. 1 journal. I'm hoping that I can get away with polishing with emery cloth because the aluminum bearing cushioned the journal and prevented steel-to-steel banging, hopefully, maybe?
I sent photos to my machinist and he is going to call me back.
So, I guess he did a good enough job on the old, damaged connecting rod and the problem lies elsewhere. I'm not sure what I could have done wrong to cause this. They're pretty much idiot proof, with both halves being identical and a tang preventing you from installing them incorrectly. Any ideas?
I hand-primed the oil pump, then later turned over the engine (without spark plugs installed) until the oil pressure light went out. I just got off the phone with him, and he asked if I washed out the oil passages in the crankshaft to make sure they weren't clogged because he suggested it was starved for oil. That thought never crossed my mind because it was a new crank kit. The no. 4 piston is the closest to the oil pump, btw.
Well, I already bought my daughter'* boyfriend a decent '94 Corolla for $1000 (with me as lien holder) because he works two jobs and needs transportation. We'll be selling this car on craigslist. I just hope I can fix this problem quickly without having to pull the engine again. I'm $975 into it already, $400 of which has been paid back already, but I don't feel good about taking his money with the car being screwed up. But he insists on paying me back regardless.
Edit: was just told that the bearing is only aluminum faced with steel backing, so I guess there was steel-on-steel knocking.