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AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
12/30/17 3:25 p.m.

This started about two years ago with an emailed cragislist link from enabler in chief/bad idea fairy  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  It was a manual swapped Buick Roadmaster Wagon, so of course I need to go see it.  A quick test drive and I was $1800 poorer and the proud new owner of 4500 lbs of big blue wagon.

Courtesy of the previous owner, it has:

  • NV3500 5 speed trans with some pedal box bits coming from a Nissan.
  • Wheels from a conversion van
  • Hearse rear springs and F250 front springs and NAPA 76741 shocks
  • P71 rear anti-roll bar
  • Electric fan setup from a 94 Caprice

I removed the rusted in hitch ball with the help of many sawzall blades, some big metal chisels, and a sledgehammer, because of course part of the reason for buying the car was to use it to haul dirt bikes around.  The hearse springs in the rear make the car ride perfectly level with a bike on the back.  

The next thing it got were some General Grabber AT2s because the Walmart tires on it were laughably bad in every condition and winter was coming.  Also Mad Max had come out that year and that aesthetic was very appealing. 

It is pretty capable and very entertaining in the snow.

Since then it has needed very little other than brakes, oil changes, and a battery.  Last winter it got some aux lights and some rich mahogany vinyl on the sides.

This was taken while volunteering at Empire State Performance Rally 2017 where it lumbered through the rough stages to get to different marshal stations.

A couple weeks ago ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ helped me pick up a craigslist vortec 350 to replace the tired, leaky LO5 currently in there.  

The plan is to do a cheap rebuild with a slightly more exciting cam, not sure which one yet, and retain the TBI setup to keep the swap relatively simple.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ HalfDork
12/30/17 5:35 p.m.

I LOVE those wheels.  Seriously.  I've always been a fan of that wagon too.

 

On your bike carrier: you should think about adding some square tubing laterally (90 degrees to the bike) so that you can triangulate the tie down on both ends of the motorcycle.  The better carriers came that way but the cheapys (like my Rage) didn't.  That bike is too nice to drag down the road sideways.  

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
12/30/17 5:38 p.m.

The TBI gets pissed with vortec heads and a decently mild cam.  Be ready to get a custom chip burned.

pretty sure the swap in that car is documented on impalassforum.com 

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/30/17 9:05 p.m.
Patrick said:

The TBI gets pissed with vortec heads and a decently mild cam.  Be ready to get a custom chip burned.

pretty sure the swap in that car is documented on impalassforum.com 

yes keep your LSA tight on your cam (110degrees) and you might not need a tune.....this wagon ROCKS!!!   Chris N is BAD influence..... wink TBIchips.com is a go to for this.....oh ADvent P welcome my bad!

Rufledt
Rufledt UberDork
12/30/17 10:37 p.m.

that thing is amazing, i'm watching this one

Erich
Erich UltraDork
12/31/17 7:16 a.m.

She's a beaut, Clark!

Love it. 

JamesMcD
JamesMcD SuperDork
12/31/17 7:45 a.m.

Amazing. 

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
12/31/17 9:25 a.m.

In reply to Patrick :

The trans swap documentation is indeed on impalassformum.com and you definitely need the photobucket plugin to see photos.

I plan to get a custom chip burned.  TBIchips seems to be a good source for this.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
12/31/17 9:35 a.m.
AdventurePiggy said:

In reply to Patrick :

The trans swap documentation is indeed on impalassformum.com and you definitely need the photobucket plugin to see photos.

I plan to get a custom chip burned.  TBIchips seems to be a good source for this.

I specifically remembered the small japanese pickup clutch pedal from the build thread years ago.  

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
12/31/17 10:26 a.m.

I started taking apart the Vortec to see what needs to be done.  

I found one crack in the right head, but it looks like it has been sleeved.

The cylinders don't look too bad.  The cross-hatching is still there, but there are a few vertical lines in them.  I can't feel them with a fingernail.

I also found what looks to be part of a dipstick in the oil pan...

 

I think it will get new pistons/rings/bearings and a timing set with probably this cam.

Opti
Opti HalfDork
12/31/17 11:35 a.m.

A good budget cam for something like this is a used lt1 cam. There are a few different ones but most of them have a little more duration and lift than the one you posted. 

Are you gonna up the compression?

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
12/31/17 11:55 a.m.

This thing is awesome and i like the engine build idea. 

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
12/31/17 3:27 p.m.

In reply to Opti :

I am going to leave the compression alone because I don't want to feed it anything other than 87. 

I'll look into the LT1 cam option.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 HalfDork
12/31/17 3:51 p.m.

If you need any info or other help with the trans swap, let me know! I'm pretty sure the writeup referenced on ImpalaSSforums is the one that I wrote, which means the pics are gone...

I have an NV3500 in my '89 Caprice wagon and the floor pans and everything are very similar. The crossmember for the 200r4 bolts right up to the frame and trans - that crossmember (I think) is unique to the 1985-1989 B-body wagons, as the cars had a 700r4. NV3500 and 200r4 trans mount bolt patterns are close enough to interchange as well - Energy Suspension sells a slightly shorter one that keeps the trans from hitting the tunnel. I used a modified pedal box and pedals out of a 1989 C1500, as the clutch pedal has a solo mount that allowed me to reuse the stock brake pedal.

The NV3500 is very, very sensitive to fluid type and level. Keep it full of Pennzoil Synchromesh (I think Royal Purple makes an equivalent as well) and you'll be fine. Low fluid results in failed intermediate shaft bearings, which shows up as a lot of driveline lash, shifter sticking in 3rd gear, and gear whine during deceleration. Mine has been in the middle of failing for the last 15000 miles even with about 350 horsepower going through it, and a few autocrosses. They give a lot of warning before failing completely.

I actually had a TBI 350 in mine for awhile (stock engine in box bodies was the underpowered but durable Olds 307) which I eventually replaced with a Vortec long block and a whole bunch of other mods.

I'll be following along; looking forward to seeing how yours goes!

 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
12/31/17 4:16 p.m.

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
1/2/18 8:43 a.m.

In reply to gearheadE30 :

Thanks!  The trans swap was done by the PO, but I'm glad to hear that the NV3500 isn't the glass box everyone makes it out to be as long as you look after it.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
1/2/18 9:11 a.m.
AdventurePiggy said:

In reply to gearheadE30 :

Thanks!  The trans swap was done by the PO, but I'm glad to hear that the NV3500 isn't the glass box everyone makes it out to be as long as you look after it.

It’s fine until you put it in the hands of a clod who is determined they’re made of glass and intends to prove it.  I ran one behind a 454 for 3 years. 

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
1/2/18 10:32 a.m.

Curse you Adventure Piggy.  I think I found my new truck, following your suspension suggestions of course!

What's it like with a stick?

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
1/2/18 10:45 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

I didn't know they made a 1997!

It drives like the truck the transmission came from cheeky but with surprisingly little body roll

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
1/2/18 10:52 a.m.
914Driver said:

Curse you Adventure Piggy.  I think I found my new truck, following your suspension suggestions of course!

What's it like with a stick?

Check out threepedals.com in sterling Va. wink

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
1/2/18 11:51 a.m.
AdventurePiggy said:

In reply to gearheadE30 :

Thanks!  The trans swap was done by the PO, but I'm glad to hear that the NV3500 isn't the glass box everyone makes it out to be as long as you look after it.

Just look at the more powerful and heavy applications GM used them in, it's a fairly rare option but you could buy one in a 4000+lb fullsize GMT400 with the MPFI vortec 350 (330 ft/lbs) and the GMT800 trucks with the 4.8, 2 or 4 wheel drive.

Indy-Barely Functional-Guy
Indy-Barely Functional-Guy SuperDork
1/2/18 11:59 a.m.
914Driver said:

Curse you Adventure Piggy.  I think I found my new truck, following your suspension suggestions of course!

What's it like with a stick?

There are two lies in that ad. No 1997 model. 1996 was the last production year.  It only seats eight (or at least only seat belts for 8).  All that said, it's still a great deal

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
1/2/18 1:06 p.m.

Oh yeah, AP, I just put those tires on my C-1500; you'll love them.

 

Dan

 

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
1/6/18 11:19 a.m.

I dug into the engine and discovered that it had been bored .040 over and the rod and crank bearings were machined .010.  The crank bearings look very good and the rod bearings show a little wear.  

Does this seem like a reasonable bottom end rebuild kit?

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
1/6/18 11:51 a.m.

How do the crank journals look? That's more important than how the bearings look. Pistons can probably be reused so you'd only need a re ring kit. What are your goals with this engine?

I remember reading something about how you shouldn't use the stock type Melling pumps in anything that will rev more than a typical (not vortec) stock motor, something in the design was supposedly weakened that can come apart under the vibration. You usually want the standard volume, high pressure pump.

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