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obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/21/21 1:18 p.m.

Since I had the car up in the air and the rear wheels off, I decided to address the one issue I noticed last year that I swore I would fix before driving the car again this year: the sticking right rear caliper. This is a really common problem, and I could hear it drag a little bit every time I backed the car out of the garage last year, so I knew it was due.

When I bought the car, the previous owner told me about the time he pulled into a parking lot after driving on the highway, and there was smoke coming from the left rear wheel well. He had the car towed to a shop and after a lengthy ordeal, they were able to source and install a reman caliper. These calipers are no longer available anywhere, so I may have one of the last ones in the world:

 

Unfortunately, the right rear caliper is still original. So all I can do is tear it apart and pray it's rebuildable.

 

Here's the caliper off the car. I'd already removed the bleeder and poured the fluid out into a pan, but it still dribbled a puddle of really disgusting-looking brake fluid on my workbench. Not a good sign...

 

The slider pins...are also not looking good. Both of the boots are torn. I can't find replacement pins anywhere, and I can't find any replacement boots in the U.S. either, but I found a rebuild kit on eBay that includes the boots, that ships from the U.K.

 

Trigger warning: rust. Here's the inside of the parking brake mechanism:

 

Oh, the horror...

 

Despite how bad it looks, I believe the caliper would still be rebuildable, were it not for this:

 

The caliper wasn't leaking, but if I rebuild the caliper and push the piston all the way in so I can replace the pads, that rust pitting is going to be in the seal area...bad news. The current pads are pretty worn, but there's a chance I could carefully reinstall this piston and get away with using it for a while, because with the worn pads, the piston should stay extended far enough to keep the seal out of the pitted area. The only reason I would consider doing that is because replacement pistons are also NLA.

Someday I'd like to find a common/cheap rear caliper from another car with an integrated parking brake that could be retrofitted with a custom bracket, but for now, I'm just looking for something to get the car back onto the road. Hopefully I can get a good condition piston or a whole usable right rear caliper soon; if not, I'll have to do my best with what I have.

Run_Away
Run_Away Dork
3/21/21 1:31 p.m.

That's annoying, parts obsolescence for common wear items are a killer. 

Hopefully you can easily adapt a more readily available caliper!

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
3/21/21 3:25 p.m.

In reply to obsolete :

Take accurate dimensions off that piston before you install it. You can make a sleeve of the correct outside diameter with a step on one end, and turn down the old piston to match the I.D. of the sleeve along with a relief for the step on the end that faces the fluid pressure. Interfearance fit and red Loctite during the install. Accurate lathe work is required, but it will absolutely work.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/21/21 8:02 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Thanks for the suggestion! I like that idea a lot. I found a few places that do this type of work, and I'll make a few phone calls next week. In fact, one of them is Brake and Equipment Warehouse, which is up in Minneapolis, not too far away. I'll try them first.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
3/21/21 8:42 p.m.

In reply to obsolete :

Are you aware of this firm? May be a source of parts or information....

Top End Performance - Home page (racetep.com)

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/21/21 9:30 p.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Oh, yeah...everyone who's been on StarquestClub or any of the other Starion/Conquest forums for a while has heard of TEP. I don't have any first-hand experience with them, but unfortunately they don't have a great reputation.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/14/21 5:44 p.m.

Update for the build thread: I started a separate thread in the main GRM forum to brainstorm a solution for the rear caliper piston, and ended up with an even better fix than sleeving the original piston. I was able to find and use an aftermarket piston from Europe, which appears to be the last place in the world that they're available. The caliper is rebuilt, and the car is back on the road!

V6Buicks
V6Buicks Reader
4/15/21 12:59 p.m.

That's awesome.  I'm glad you figured out a solution for saving those.  It looks better than a reman too!

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/15/21 1:04 p.m.

V6Buicks said:

That's awesome.  I'm glad you figured out a solution for saving those.  It looks better than a reman too!

Thanks!

Since the brakes are finally done, I got tires mounted on my fake wheels and took it for a drive to settle the suspension. I like how they look, but I wish the front wheels had more positive offset; they are 24mm closer to the fenders than the factory wheels. I know some guys would say this is perfect, but I'm not that into aggressive fitment. Nothing rubs though, so I'm happy. Assuming the front/rear track width was equal from the factory, the front is now 36mm wider. I'll measure later to verify. I'll probably end up just getting 18mm spacers for the rear to match the width of the front, but that's a low priority, it's fine to drive around like this for now.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/20/21 8:55 a.m.

From a design...

...to a 3D print...

...to a CNC'd aluminum part:

This will solve the clearance problems with the thermostat housing on the back of the Ecotec head. The brass barb will feed the heater core, and I'll plumb the return back to a spot near the water pump inlet.

I used eMachineShop software to design the part. It's a pretty nice program and was easy to learn, but I think I need to step up to a "real" tool like Fusion 360 or Solidworks next time I want to design something like this. The quote from eMS was looking pretty reasonable until I added the threads to the ports; that alone increased the price per part by over 50%. So, I started looking for other options and found a small CNC shop who did a great job at the price I wanted. Shoutout to Levon at Refined Fabrication. He took the .stl exported from the eMS software and was able to make usable parts from it, which seems to be exactly what eMS doesn't want you to do.

I had a run of 20 made to get the price per part where I wanted it, and I've been selling them to other Ecotec swappers. I am not a business, and have no desire to be; I just wanted to make a cool part for my build, so I've been selling them just barely above cost, trying not to lose money. I don't have any plans to produce more, but I would be happy to send the design files to anyone who's interested.

P.S. I tried to use the feature built into the forum to reduce the size of the pictures, but it doesn't seem to work at all, so the pictures are still unnecessarily large. Enjoy!

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/4/21 2:04 p.m.

August check-in!

The Conquest swap project hasn't reached the top of my queue yet, and won't until this winter. While I work on other projects during the summer, I made a rule for myself (and a promise to my wife) that I would not have two disassembled, undriveable sports cars in the garage. However, like all rules, especially ones I make for myself, I am great at finding loopholes, and while waiting for some parts to ship and some paint to dry, I found something to do on the Conquest that wouldn't prevent it from being driven. You can drive without a front sway bar, right?

The Conquest has a lot of room for improvement in the steering and suspension, but upgrading the factory 21mm front bar to an aftermarket 25mm bar seemed like a good place to start. I removed the factory bar and brackets, and on the driver's side frame rail, I found this:

Looks like somebody must have buggered the threads on one of the nuts inside the frame, so they cut it out and stuck one of these quick-fix tab nuts in there instead. It was actually pretty solid, but now that I know about it, I'd like to take a shot at fixing it right by welding a new nut in there.

I found a flange nut in my hardware stash that just happened to be about the same diameter as the hole in the frame--22mm. I burned/brushed the zinc plating off, and since the nut and captive washer were separate pieces, I made them one piece:

I cleaned up the outside of the frame rail, cleaned and degeased inside the best I could, and stuck the nut up in there. The not-quite-round hole is just barely big enough to be able to fit the nut inside the frame, but still have it rest on the ledge, which is super convenient.

I measured 56mm on center for the mounting holes on the other side of the car, verified that this side was lined up the same, and started welding. Uh, that didn't work.

The frame rail is two layers of steel, and I'm pretty sure that oil had seeped in between the layers. This is the driver's side, which always gets covered in oil from the power steering box, which always leaks. That's why the paint around there was already in rough shape. If you look at the under-car pictures of this 17k mile car that sold for over $30k, you can see that it's missing a lot of paint from the driver's frame rail too! So, no Starion or Conquest is safe from this...

With the oil contamination, I couldn't even keep the arc stable long enough to get a decent tack in there. Before taking this picture, I removed the nut and cooked the frame around the hole with a propane torch for a while until it was smoking. I'll probably try degreasing it and torching it one more time before welding, hopefully that works.

Sgt_Sizzle
Sgt_Sizzle New Reader
8/5/21 2:13 p.m.

I'm watching this with special interest as I am planning my own turbo LE5 swap into an 05 Aveo and want to see what you'll do about the wiring. I was lucky enough to pick up a whole Pontiac Pursuit GT for $300 ($240 Murican) so I have the entire harness, ecu, fuse box the whole 9. This is a cool project and up until now I had never even heard of a Chrysler Conquest. Can't wait to see how to progresses

GM > MG
GM > MG New Reader
8/5/21 3:46 p.m.

You probably know this one, but don't degrease with brake cleaner and then put a flame to it.

Makes poison type gas. 

Sgt_Sizzle
Sgt_Sizzle New Reader
8/6/21 7:53 a.m.
GM > MG said:

You probably know this one, but don't degrease with brake cleaner and then put a flame to it.

Makes poison type gas. 

Unless its non chlorinated brake cleaner, then its ok. 

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/6/21 1:35 p.m.
Sgt_Sizzle said:

I'm watching this with special interest as I am planning my own turbo LE5 swap into an 05 Aveo and want to see what you'll do about the wiring. I was lucky enough to pick up a whole Pontiac Pursuit GT for $300 ($240 Murican) so I have the entire harness, ecu, fuse box the whole 9. This is a cool project and up until now I had never even heard of a Chrysler Conquest. Can't wait to see how to progresses

Thanks! Interesting, looks like a Pontiac Pursuit GT is Canada's version of the US Pontiac G5, which is a minimum-effort GM rebadge of the Chevy Cobalt. Did you get one of the good '06-'07 blocks? E67 computer? Which transmission? What are you planning on doing with the car--any particular motorsports goals, or just general hooning?

There are some good standalone options but I am stubborn and want to try to keep a factory ECM and BCM. I'm planning on thinning / re-pinning the factory harness as needed. Should be starting this winter. We'll see how it goes...

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/6/21 1:55 p.m.
Sgt_Sizzle said:
GM > MG said:

You probably know this one, but don't degrease with brake cleaner and then put a flame to it.

Makes poison type gas. 

Unless its non chlorinated brake cleaner, then its ok. 

Yep, I am aware but it can't be restated enough for anyone who may be reading this and doesn't know. Phosgene gas will mess you up.

I am using a non-chlorinated carb cleaner. I don't even know which one, usually just the house brand from whichever parts store I went to last. All the non-chlorinated carb and brake cleaners are more or less the same soup of light aromatic hydrocarbons in different proportions. Still not great for you, especially long-term. I have heard that there are some safer alternatives now (Wurth products?) but haven't really investigated. I just try to make sure I have decent ventilation while I'm working.

GM > MG
GM > MG New Reader
8/6/21 11:23 p.m.

I used some of the Citrus based cleaners while ago.

It worked well but I'm thinking it was $$$ compared to regular carb & break cleaners...

It certainly smelled better !

 

Sgt_Sizzle
Sgt_Sizzle New Reader
8/13/21 9:45 a.m.
obsolete said:
Sgt_Sizzle said:

I'm watching this with special interest as I am planning my own turbo LE5 swap into an 05 Aveo and want to see what you'll do about the wiring. I was lucky enough to pick up a whole Pontiac Pursuit GT for $300 ($240 Murican) so I have the entire harness, ecu, fuse box the whole 9. This is a cool project and up until now I had never even heard of a Chrysler Conquest. Can't wait to see how to progresses

Thanks! Interesting, looks like a Pontiac Pursuit GT is Canada's version of the US Pontiac G5, which is a minimum-effort GM rebadge of the Chevy Cobalt. Did you get one of the good '06-'07 blocks? E67 computer? Which transmission? What are you planning on doing with the car--any particular motorsports goals, or just general hooning?

There are some good standalone options but I am stubborn and want to try to keep a factory ECM and BCM. I'm planning on thinning / re-pinning the factory harness as needed. Should be starting this winter. We'll see how it goes...

I'm lucky enough to live a 5 minute walk from a 1/4 mile drag strip so the car will start out as a straight liner/civic terrorizer. As it evolves I'm hoping to get it into the local auto x scene and maybe hit a couple open track days at Shannonville speedway (2 hours away). The donor Pontiac is a '08 but I haven't pulled the engine yet to see its particulars. The plan is to use a Cobalt/G5 5spd from the Pull-a-Part as the donors an auto. As for the ECU your guess is as good as mine, I'm not on the up and up as to which year Ecotec parts are best. Work on that is slated to begin early next month. Sorry for the thread jacking, but you did ask XD

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/13/21 12:42 p.m.
Sgt_Sizzle said:

I'm lucky enough to live a 5 minute walk from a 1/4 mile drag strip so the car will start out as a straight liner/civic terrorizer. As it evolves I'm hoping to get it into the local auto x scene and maybe hit a couple open track days at Shannonville speedway (2 hours away). The donor Pontiac is a '08 but I haven't pulled the engine yet to see its particulars. The plan is to use a Cobalt/G5 5spd from the Pull-a-Part as the donors an auto. As for the ECU your guess is as good as mine, I'm not on the up and up as to which year Ecotec parts are best. Work on that is slated to begin early next month. Sorry for the thread jacking, but you did ask XD

No prob. Yeah, you should totally start a build thread. According to People On The Internet, '08+ blocks have weak rods and are not to be trusted past 300HP, so you may need to build a bottom end sooner than later if you want to do some real straight-line terrorizing. I'm not sure how much power those transmissions are good for. '08 will be an E37 ECM, I think. That's the one I'm planning on using. It's like a slightly watered-down E67. The only downside I'm aware of is that it doesn't have a tach signal output, so you'll need to use the factory instrument cluster, or OBD/CAN/some other clever method to run an aftermarket tach.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/23/21 10:44 a.m.

Got back to this over the weekend. First pass at welding was NSFGRM. Even after trying to thoroughly torch the contamination out of the frame, there was still some oil residue that caused issues. My grounding setup was bad/dumb too; I was just clamping onto a long bolt threaded into the nut, which was great for tacking it in place, but made it tricky to get a good angle with the gun and hard to see what I was doing while trying to weld it all the way around. So I ground the ugliness down, used this as an excuse to buy the Hobart magnetic ground I'd had my eye on anyway, and pass two was more successful.

 

Pretty happy with this. Yeah, it's overlapped tacks, but it's on voltage and feed settings that would burn through pretty quickly if I was doing a longer weld, so I'm pretty confident I got enough heat/penetration. I did burn through just a tiny bit the lower left side there, easy fix.

 

Ground down flat-ish again and was pleased to find no porosity in the welds. Gave it a quick shot of self-etching primer and engine enamel to keep the rust demons away, threads chased, and this is ready to have a sway bar bracket bolted onto it again.

Alfaromeoguy
Alfaromeoguy HalfDork
8/25/21 1:54 a.m.

nice work on the conversion.. been gone for a while working on mine.. the exhaust it the tricky part on my car.. but yours looks great

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/10/21 11:56 a.m.

In reply to Alfaromeoguy :

Thanks, but you're still ahead of the game, because your car has 100% more Ecotec in it than mine does. I'm just working on little things until I'm ready to pull the old Mitsu engine out this winter.

Any interest in one of those water outlet plates? I have a couple left over.

mjlogan
mjlogan New Reader
9/10/21 5:51 p.m.

Great project, I've always wanted a Conquest/Starion but where I live emissions make a swap like this impossible.  

Love the engine choice too, an LE5 almost ended up in my Ranchero.  I just didn't want to deal with the transmission debacle, a $150 bolt-in ranger transmission made me pick a Duratec.  I think in the end an ecotec is a better choice though, especially since you are familiar with HP tuners.  Do you have a turbo picked out yet?

Keep up the great work, that car is worth the attention to detail you are putting in.

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/12/21 11:31 a.m.

In reply to mjlogan :

Thank you! I'm a big fan of your Ranchero build as well. The quality of the Duratec/Ecoboost swaps on here sometimes makes me question whether the Ecotec was the best choice. Parts availability from the aftermarket and the Ford/Mazda parts bin seems great. I'm still excited about the potential of the LE5 and am hoping that tuning it with HP Tuners turns out to be a win. I like having an OEM starting point to work from, especially with the dual VVT.

I'm pretty enamored with the Borg Warner EFR series and the 6758 seems about right for my goal of ~400HP at the crank. I'd like to try to make the twin scroll T4 turbine housing work because I really like the idea of having a higher-flowing exhaust side that spools just as fast as a smaller open T3, while being able to keep an internal wastegate. I also have a big ol' T3/T04E hybrid that I may just slap on there to start with. We'll see whether I'm in a "do it once do it right" mood, or a "just drive the car already" mood when I get to that point :)

Alfaromeoguy
Alfaromeoguy HalfDork
9/12/21 2:40 p.m.

In reply to obsolete :

thank you, but i am using the oem ecotec coolent system... just got some alum. tubes from speedway motors for the water system from the back of the engine to the rad.

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