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V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/16/22 8:41 a.m.

Thanks for the support everyone!  I've been driving this thing pretty regularly ever since the nationals.  The more I do, the less I want to take it apart.  I can finally admit that this car is pretty darn good.  Before nats I was all about throwing a cam in it, but I don't care as much anymore.  I'll still do it eventually, but for now I'm going to focus on the launch and whatever gets me in the seat more often!

I debated the whole 2-step vs wot box vs other forms of launch control, but I decided to stick with the WOT box.  It will be the best combination of cheap and easy to set up.  If I need something better in the future, Holley EFI will take care of it.

I'm not doing any of that until the winter though.  To keep myself busy, I have something I can work on in my cold basement.

I bought two HVAC units from parted out cars yesterday.  I want AC back in the car!  It's kind of sad that I'm working on doing away with the the AC delete with retained heat box that I worked so hard on, but if I can pull this off, it will be incredibly slick.  I'd also be able to enjoy this car every day of the summer which is the true end goal.

I still have no regrets deleting the factory system.  I really had no choice unless I wanted this car to be ugly and horrible to service.  In fact, I still have no plans to sacrifice any of that.  I have this wacky plan that may sound a bit far fetched, but I think I can reintegrate an evaporator and compressor without disturbing anything.  It's going to be a crazy hacking and fiberglassing extravaganza, but it should be worth the effort.

I was inspired by a video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=mRo05wph2F0&feature=emb_logo Adding a belt driven compressor back under the hood that's not completely in the way of something else would be nearly impossible.  However, these 12V compressors are pretty slick even if they aren't as efficient or reliable.  Wiring one in to my stock controls using a big solenoid on the compressor clutch circuit should be relatively simple as well.

We'll see.  I have the smallest automotive evaporator I can find on it's way from Amazon.  If I can find a way to shove it back deep in to the HVAC housing with only a small bump on the firewall plate and room for the down pipe that will be a HUGE obstacle to overcome.  The rest should be gravy.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Dork
6/16/22 8:39 p.m.

How does the 3800 cam compare with the old GN cam? I remember hearing Buick people saying you don't need much cam on mild GN builds so you might as well use the stock cam. I imagine the 3800 cam is a little hotter simply knowing how most car companies were able to go a little hotter as time went on. LT1 cams vs. the various L98 cams for example.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/17/22 8:59 a.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

It's pretty good, but still not good enough for my 600hp goal.  I actually witnessed the stock cam record being broke on the dyno.  It made just a hair under 500 hp and a little over 700 ft/lbs.  I don't remember what heads he had on there, but I think he did have bigger valves.  This was a twin-charged setup in a LeSabre, so the big torque through that auto in a big car is pretty glorious.  I would rather have a more top end power at the expense of torque in the case of my Camaro though.  Plus, stock cam GNs sound pretty good.  Stock cam 3800s do not.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/21/22 8:01 a.m.

My wife and I decided to get the GN out of storage and take both toys to a car show this weekend.  It was really cool to see both cars showing off side by side.

The cooler part was that this show featured a chassis dyno.  I decided to support the effort of the organizer and get the Camaro up there.  Despite the clutch letting the smoke out and some misfires you can hear in the video, the results really surprised me!  I didn't even turn the boost up, and....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cCqit-ysaQ

Look at that!  That's exactly 50hp more than I made two year ago!  Torque was up over 50 as well!  It's amazing how much was being left on the table two years ago just because the car needed a few refinements.  The beautiful weather over the weekend is certainly at play here too.  It's probably actually doing the most of the work on these numbers because the car was tuned in a 100+ degree barn.  This isn't the same dyno either so you never know what calibration differences there may be.  Regardless, I'm super happy with this.  I have a little more to brag and be happy about before I drop the transmission AGAIN and replace this clutch with something more appropriate.  This one won't be cheap, and I don't have that kind of money right now.  In the mean time, I have a lot of other projects lined up that will require more of my time than money, so I'm going to take it easy on the throttle for a while and see if I can get AC to work.

Last night I actually blew both of my HVAC units apart, and I wasn't particularly impressed.  One is really dirty on the outside but nice on the inside.  The other is the opposite.  I almost regret bringing them into my house because I don't want any diseases.   Dirt can be handled though.  The part that's disappointing is that both have clearly had their heater cores replaced by amateurs.  One has stripped out screw holes and the other has a hole in it where they pinched the the vacuum tube.  It's crappy, but I lucked out in not having the same failures or "modifications" on both boxes.  I removed the evaporators from both, and took all the best parts from each box to make one really nice one.  I'm really glad I got two!

The next step is to cut the whole evaporator housing off so that I can install the new firewall plate.  That piece should be coming today.  The best part about tearing these apart was that I could at least stick the universal evaporator up to the blower and blend door passages and eyeball everything that needs to be cut.   I'm super excited to say that this should fit without much drama!  It's almost impossible to describe my plan without pictures of a finished product, but you'll just have to trust me for now.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
7/6/22 1:36 p.m.

This project is already looking to be a bit more than I can chew, but I'm going for it anyway.  I'm out of fun money and this HVAC box modification is going to be all labor.  At least I can stay occupied without spending more money!

Evaporator housing cut off

New evaporator held up for size.

More cuts and another trial fit.

The height of this evaporator became a slight problem.  I had to make some extra cuts, but the bump over the evaporator's back corner shouldn't be too hard to build.  Resealing the recirculation valve on top of it might be a mess, but I'll figure it out.

I think this is going to be the evaporator's final home.

Tonight I'm planning to blow all the dust off this thing and build some walls inside the blower housing.  Right now there's a dead spot that will be bad for flow.  If that goes smoothly, I will start working on the blend door modification.  Having the evaporator sunk into the box like I have it blocks the actuation in a way that will bypass heat at all times.  I'm going to cut the door to fit and build walls to make up for it.

edizzle89
edizzle89 SuperDork
7/6/22 3:14 p.m.

In reply to V6Buicks :

I was at the car show as well (I had the blue crown vic kart that was up in the 'showcase' parking area next to the dyno) I thought the camaro looked familiar while I was there but I couldn't remember why haha now I realize I'd seen it on the forum before. That thing sounded awesome on the dyno!

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
7/7/22 7:12 a.m.

In reply to edizzle89 :

Thanks!  That was a pretty cool show.  I hope they do it again next year.  That Vic Kart looked like fun. haha

Lsxus
Lsxus New Reader
7/7/22 8:28 a.m.

In reply to edizzle89 :

Hey I know you

edizzle89
edizzle89 SuperDork
7/8/22 8:54 a.m.
Lsxus said:

In reply to edizzle89 :

Hey I know you

Not if I know you first

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
7/18/22 2:43 p.m.

I'm slow, but I'm still chipping away at this.  Delete panel was cut for the evaporator to poke through.  It's also drilled for the locating pins.

I noticed something though.  I'm either going to have to pitch this plate and make own, or weld an extension onto this one.  Once I make an evaporator enclosure with flange, there's no way that the whole unit will fit against the firewall.  I'm going to have to extend the plate out to the red line and cut the firewall accordingly.  I'm going to worry about that a little later though.

I wanted to close the plastic half of the unit up first.  From the scraps that I cut off, I cut some panels to be welded on as new pieces.

\

It's gross but it works!  Next I have to trim the recirculation valve to fit the new bump.  After that, I should be 100% done with plastic.  It's all fiberglass from here, and I expect it to be a lot more difficult.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
7/21/22 9:14 a.m.

More progress!  I was wrong about being done with plastic, but that's a good thing.  I noticed that the blend door housing was plastic instead of fiberglass which makes life a lot easier.   I cut and welded in some filler pieces to make up for the cut door.  Now the door can move without interference with the evaporator and still seal on each side.

I also discovered that burying metal mesh into the plastic is a lot easier than hog rings.  Is it as strong?  I'm not sure yet, but it doesn't really have to be.  I feel like anything that's tough to tear by hand and bridges the seam helps.  Here's an "in progress" pic with the mesh still mostly above the surface.

Then I cut the recirc valve to fit over the bump I made.  NOW I'm 100% done with plastic and I have a lot less fiberglass stuff to worry about.  Win!

I'll probably smooth the top of the bump out and glue a door seal onto the part that I cut on the recirc. valve.  I don't necessarily care about leaks, but I'm paranoid that a leak through one of my jagged cuts will create a whistle or a howl while the blower is on.  That would drive me crazy.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
10/12/22 7:28 a.m.

I've been neglecting this thread.  Let's catch up.

I started fiberglassing the HVAC box.

I tried selling the Buick at our garage sale while the market was hot.  I didn't expect to sell it, and I didn't.  However, it did start a lot of good conversation with neighbors.

In preparation for a big trip I wanted to fix a clunking noise that had been bugging me all summer.

https://youtube.com/shorts/wQPvKTr0rJY?feature=share

These things are constructed really weird.  I'm not sure what the deal is with it, but I don't see any benefit in having that slop.  I decided to eliminate it. 

Then I disembarked on the longest trip the car had ever been on since being modified and possibly in it's entire lifetime.

With the help of an E85 station tracker app, I made it to Ludington, MI with no issues.  I stayed there with family for about a week, and took the fun way home.

That was certainly a unique experience!  Unfortunately, it was about here that I started realizing that something was wrong with the car.  It intermittently smoked out the tail pipe quite a bit.  Being at the furthest point away from home was great timing. lol  Oh well, the car was not down on power, my fluids were full, and my oil pressure was good.  I ignored it and kept trucking.  From Manitowoc, I made a couple stops in Sheboygan, split ways with my mom and dad, then headed to Milwaukee where I would stay the night with an old friend.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
10/12/22 8:44 a.m.

While on that trip I decided to make an important purchase.

This has been the one part holding me back from turning the wick up.  It cost me a pretty penny but I look forward to never worrying about my clutch again.

This reminds me that I forgot to talk about one of the highlights of my summer!  Back in July I was having a little crisis.  I was unhappy with my daily driver, I was bored of working on that AC box (it was summer after all and I didn't want to be int he basement), and I wasn't willing to take any of the cars apart with so much driving season left.  This was when I decided to get on Facebook and look for an L67 bottom end.  It would allow me to get a head start without taking anything apart, and keep me occupied.  Well, I didn't find one.  In fact, I really didn't even have time to look because the first ad showed me something a lot better.  A Comp G with Intense Stage 3 CNC ported heads was being parted out, and he only wanted $750!

The kicker was that they were in Pittsburgh, he wasn't shipping, and he wasn't even removing the parts himself. Given my horrible luck with marketplace, I was not liking the circumstances AT ALL. At the same time, I wasn't not letting a deal like this fall through. It was a hell of an adventure but a huge lucky success. I was able to leave my house at 11:30 (left as soon as the counter tops were done being installed in my kitchen), get to Pittsburgh with virtually no traffic by 5:15, remove the IS3 heads with the whole car still mostly together (including headers angry) in the guy's gravel driveway, seal the deal including a set of ARP studs, port match blower intake, modular GenV, W-body adjustable strut brace, and some other little stuff before by 7:00, watch a storm roll in about 15 min after I left, and get home before 1:00AM. I even managed to get to work at 7:00.  It was kind of stupid, but so worth it. I got to see Pittsburgh and a sliver of West Virginia for the first time, enjoy the open road, and get some cheap go-fast goodies.  What more could you ask for?  This trip almost deserves it's own thread, because it was a roller coaster full of dumb luck!

Anyway, here's the loot.

Just look at those smooth ports and chambers!

Fast forward back to August, and I'm finally getting around to painting these bad boys.  The old paint held up pretty well but blue and purple aren't my colors.

Much better!

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
10/12/22 9:15 a.m.

I continued to drive the Camaro, and diagnose the smoking issue.  I wondered about the turbo and started going down some goofy rabbit holes.  I wondered if oil was leaking past the seals due to an inlet restriction.  Given that I had experienced a lot of good things by removing tubes from the turbo before, I figured I could only make it better.  That was how I discovered my collapsed filter.

Even if it wasn't THE problem it's certainly a problem, so I dug up some junk from the basement.  This monsterous filter and elbow to make it fit were the best I could come up with.

It was ugly but a massive improvement in spool time!  I couldn't believe how much low end power I was leaving on the table.  This car is so much more fun to drive.  I have no pictures, but I ended up putting a filter gauge on the elbow and found that this was still a big restriction.  I now just have a screen on the turbo without a filter which made boost come in even sooner.  I think I'm going to keep the filter for long trips but the screen is staying on for most drives.

It didn't solve the smoking issue though.  I figured it wouldn't.  I would have to do some real diag.  After some fumbling around I finally found this.

Two exhaust stem seals had popped off on the same head.  This is the head I replaced many moons ago from a known worn out engine.  It's possible that the guides are going bad (good thing I have new heads!) but the real problem is probably the junky Fel-pro seals I'm using.

So I had plans to go forward with removing the entire drivetrain this week for major upgrades, but that's not going to happen anymore.  In fact, the Camaro is in storage for possibly the whole winter. sad  You see, the car that usually gets put away threw a fit on the way to the barn.  I gave in.

Yeah, I wasn't doing a burnout.

Looks like something is missing....

Oh, yeah.  That.  How on earth does this just come loose??  I've never touched it, and it's a stock 52k mile unit.  Oh well.

Perhaps we need a "living with" thread for the old GN.  This winter's updates and repairs are going to be fun.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/12/22 1:27 p.m.

Love seeing the updates! Crazy what happened to the GN, I think it needs its own thread :)

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Dork
10/12/22 8:46 p.m.

Metal gets old. I had a flywheel nut on a 1985 motorcycle that showed no signs of wear or stretch or anything. It was just old and would only loosen above 7k RPM plus took miles. A new one fixed it. It takes a long time for metal to get old enough to act up but it can. Something spinning as fast as a turbo and gets really hot...

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/12/22 11:41 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/13/22 1:13 p.m.

A Scanmaster!  And it is apparently functional!

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
10/13/22 1:23 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

It's a must-have for these cars!  You can still buy the square ones new and upgrade them for higher update speed.  Otherwise, you can buy the more modern Scanmaster G which fits in a normal round gauge pod among other updates.  I prefer the old school 7 segment display though.

Okay, okay, I'll just make a thread. lol

madmrak351
madmrak351 Reader
10/14/22 2:35 p.m.

Fascinating thread. You have determination and perseverance in spades. The results are amazing. Someday I need to work up the guts to turbo something. The rust repairs also amaze me as I am used to southern cars. Great job on all aspects of this project!

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/14/22 6:39 p.m.
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) said:

Time for an upgrade?laugh

https://www.kirbanperformance.com/limit-engineering-inc.-upgraded-ta-49-turbo-6849/p155

I liked this one a lot https://www.precisionturbo.net/Street-and-Race/ss/600-800HP/details/Street-and-Race-Turbocharger---PT6262-CEA/245

One car I did made 535 at the wheels with iron heads, through a TH2004R, on mild boost (23psi), street drivability was perfect.

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/20/23 8:39 a.m.

I never thought I'd make a sad thread revival post with such enthusiasm, but maybe you'll understand when we bring it to the present.

For the most part, the GN project is complete.  Spoiler alert: I achieved my goal by the skin of my teeth and was pretty sick of its games by the time I came back from the Nationals.  I had gotten to a point in that project where I needed to rob the injectors from the Camaro, so I brought it home.  It was very much without fanfare.  I found out that my non-climate controlled storage space is pretty worthless.  Everything looks like it's been under the ocean the entire time it's been stored which made all my rust repair efforts feel like a waste. sad

Oh well I guess.  I need to remember that the point of this car is to have fun, learn from my mistakes, and not care about stuff like this.  I need to be happy that it happened to this car and not the GN!

So that was March.  Despite still being knees deep in the GN I had to get the Camaro home.  Not only did I need the injectors, but I was going to enjoy the car for the summer in it's battered state... or so I thought.

I did have one short win though.  I needed a cart filler to get free shipping through Summit, so I decided to complete my tubular rear suspension.

Crust

As long as this ugly 10-bolt is alive, it's going to feel so goofy bolting fancy UMI parts to it.  I at least cleaned up the areas that the control arms touch, but I didn't go wild with the rusteration this time.  I just wanted to cruise and feel the difference.

After this I took a very long drive on some of my favorite roads.  For one day, the car felt like it's absolute best.  The rear end is so much predictable now.  I had a lot of bushing options and ultimately chose heims on one end and poly on the other.  I've read that the heims allow for the best articulation and performance.  However we all know that they're pretty harsh for a street car.  I think I nailed it.  The poly end seems to be taking up any noticeable vibrations.

The next drive a month or so later didn't involve as much win.

I went for a drive, and discovered that the car was only making 8psi.  A quick look around revealed this ill-fitting coupler finally becoming a problem.

This kinda stinks because I sorta designed the charge pipes around using this coupler.  If things didn't line up exactly right, the offset would make up for it and still look nice.  It did for a while, but there was never enough silicon over the pipe for the clamp to grab.  Poor design.

As you can see, I bought the longer version of the same coupler because I don believe in function over form.  However, it is super ugly, and I probably won't put up with it forever.

Worst of all, that didn't even fix the boost issue.  8psi is only waste gate pressure, so I turned to my controller.  I had been waiting for an excuse to ditch the air compressor regulator style controller and finally wire in the Mac valve for my AEM tru boost.  Without doing any real diagnosis, I decided this was the time.  First order of business was to make a nice bracket.

I love it, and it bolts to factory holes!  I can't justify bolting it down with those crusty bolts though.  Gotta blast!

Cool!  I got it all wired and programmed.  Then I went for a drive and only got 5psi.  WHAT?!  That's less than waste gate pressure!  How is this possible?

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/20/23 9:17 a.m.

I had to let the car sit broken for a while.  The GN still wasn't ready for the GS Nationals and my house wasn't ready for an additional family member.  Did I mention I'm going to be a dad in October?  The Camaro was steadily moving pretty far down on my list of priorities, but sometimes life works in mysterious ways.

I went to the garage to pick-up a screwdriver.  I was getting ready to assemble some baby furniture, and not even looking at the car.  Somehow the corner of my eye caught a dark spot.  How I missed it while I was actually searching for the boost problem is beyond me!

This was enough for me to say that I'm probably not enjoying the car this summer.  Fixing what I assumed to be a broken weld was guaranteed to snowball into a lot more work, so I let the car sit even longer.

After a lot of fighting with the wife (and internally with myself) I got the green light to buy/do something kinda stupid.

I guess the only way to fix your "not enough time for cars" problem is to buy another car. cheeky

I had been talking with my buddy about buying this '04 Grand Prix GTP Comp G for about a year now.  I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with it, but last week I decided it was now or never.  It was too good of a deal to pass up, other friends were starting to take notice of that, and the owner was growing impatient.  Part of the reason why the deal was so great was due to the fact that it no longer ran.  He installed a lot of tasteful upgrades really nicely, drove it for a little while, parked it one day, and for some reason never drove it again.  I knew whatever the issue was couldn't be that complicated.

Don't get too attached to this car though.  I don't see myself keeping it very long and there's a reason I'm bringing it up in the Camaro thread... this car has a certain assembly that I'm looking to steal. devil 

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
6/20/23 9:35 a.m.

After towing the car to another friends house we got straight to work.  The revival was interesting, and I still don't really know what was causing the GTP not to run.  I didn't do anything!

https://youtube.com/shorts/w3iP4uM85eQ?feature=share

We smelled fuel, so we decided to check for spark. Nada. Then we put a scope on the injectors. Nada. We checked where the crank sensor was and decided not to play with that. lol  Then we decided to check everything again, and it coughed a couple times... Huh.  How was it coughing without fuel or spark?  We checked the scope and tester again and suddenly we had both.  I plugged both cylinders back in and it started coughing faster.  One more long crank and she was awake!

I went for a nice long cruise, dumped some octane booster in the full tank, and got a feel for everything.  It seems like a really well built car.  The F-body front brakes are a really nice upgrade, the M90 sounds amazing, and the ride is quite smooth.  She even started right up without drama a few days later.  I'm really happy with the purchase.

With that being said, a lot was going on in the mean time back at my garage...  The GN went to storage so that I could make a mess again.

Things just got real!

GCrites
GCrites Dork
6/20/23 10:29 a.m.

Hmmm, front wheel drive Camaro? wink

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