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Indy-Guy
Indy-Guy Dork
5/25/17 8:31 a.m.
Wall-e wrote: The Grand Am wheels are a good look on that car.

I came here to say this, but Wall-e beat me to it, so I'm going to repost this pic for good measure:

759NRNG
759NRNG Reader
5/25/17 3:59 p.m.

Wow....just finished, your determination and execution/attention to detail are admirable. Great read!

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
5/25/17 8:33 p.m.
Indy-Guy wrote:
Wall-e wrote: The Grand Am wheels are a good look on that car.

I came here to say this, but Wall-e beat me to it, so I'm going to repost this pic for good measure:

Thanks. I've since put some Buick center caps on the GA wheels. I'll post a picture in a day or so.

759NRNG wrote: Wow....just finished, your determination and execution/attention to detail are admirable. Great read!

Thank you. I hope that this inspires others to take an unloved A-body and do great things with it. With the General, all things are possible.

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
5/30/17 8:37 p.m.
Indy-Guy
Indy-Guy Dork
5/30/17 9:37 p.m.
Left Ventricle wrote: [Now featured on Engine Swap Depot.](https://www.engineswapdepot.com/?p=15201)

You're famous now

Congrats!

TIGMOTORSPORTS
TIGMOTORSPORTS HalfDork
5/31/17 4:58 a.m.

Looks great!

LCoyle
LCoyle
7/2/17 10:22 p.m.

I saw you got the hood prop from a Cutlass, but what year Cutlass did it come out of?

Project86fox
Project86fox
7/5/17 12:56 a.m.

I like cars that are over looked. It's cool you're building something different.

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/12/17 8:52 p.m.
LCoyle wrote: I saw you got the hood prop from a Cutlass, but what year Cutlass did it come out of?

If I'm completely honest, I wasn't really paying attention. I was basically just looking for a Ciera with the prop rod, and took it when I found one. A quick googling says the 93-96 Cieras had a short rod mounted to the driver's fender, so '92 and older, I guess.

Project86fox wrote:

I like cars that are over looked. It's cool you're building something different.

Thank you. This is certainly "different", even if it's not what one expects when you think of a "different" kind of build.

I'm sure most of you have noticed I haven't posted here in a while. For the most part, I've just been driving the car and dealing with the new quirk that has popped up with the arrival of summer in Las Vegas. It's hard to describe, and hard to diagnose, but it just doesn't want to run after startup unless I blip the throttle a number of times. The idle is also erratic when sitting at traffic lights, enough that it threatens to stall unless I rev it briefly. I believe it may be related to the EVAP system mismatch between the car and the Monte Carlo computer.

Basically, the Monte PCM was programmed as a Federal car, but my car is from California. California mandated a different configuration of the EVAP solenoids, which is incompatible with the Federal PCM programming. Once I got everything sorted late last year, it gave me all of the EVAP check engine codes. After a lot of useless fiddling with the wiring to the solenoids and the vacuum lines to the solenoids, I just bypassed them completely, disabled reporting of the codes in the PCM through HP Tuners, and ran the line from the charcoal canister straight to the intake. I think, now that it's hot, the intake is getting flooded with vapor from the fuel tank. If the behavior ceases once the temperature drops, my diagnosis will be confirmed. I'm not really sure how to "fix" the issue though.

Also, I drive like a tool. Rear ended a Crown Victoria on an onramp.

First crash I've been in in almost seven years. Flat spotted my fancy front tires to boot.

Right.

Left.

At minimum, header panel, grille, right headlight, right turn signal, front cooling fan, front radiator/condenser support will all need to be replaced. Inspection only turned up those items. The radiator, condenser, and transmission cooler do not appear to have been damaged. The right headlights and signal still work, as well. The bulbs weren't broken. It certainly could have been a LOT worse.

LCoyle
LCoyle New Reader
7/12/17 11:47 p.m.

AH dude that sucks! Hopefully won't be too much to replace...As for the prop rod, I haven't been able to locate one. Really trying, as I have designed and built a tubular strut tower brace bar, and the stock hood support is in the way...

759NRNG
759NRNG HalfDork
7/13/17 10:13 a.m.

Left, sorry bout the crunch, hey, will the front end stuff from your 1993 work here?

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/13/17 8:43 p.m.
759NRNG wrote: Left, sorry bout the crunch, hey, will the front end stuff from your 1993 work here?

Indeed it will. I am sort of waffling about whether I'm going to rob it though, since I do have longer term plans for the '93, and it will need to be road legal, ie have headlights. If I can't find a decent donor in a local yard, I probably will. That will wait until it's not 105 degrees though, so probably like October. There is a cosmetic difference with the grille, but only turbonerds would notice or care that I have an 89-93 grille on my '96. That, and the color difference, but in this case I care more about not being broken than color matching. That's what spray paint is for.

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
12/25/17 3:48 p.m.

Finally got around to fixing George's face.

Before.

Disassembly in progress.

Reassembly in progress.

Done.



bgkast
bgkast UberDork
12/25/17 11:01 p.m.

Cool build! We had one of these old Centurys when I was a kid.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/26/17 12:53 p.m.

LV.....Merry Christmas!!! what accident ?? nothing to see here wink

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
2/12/18 10:15 p.m.

A lot of bullE36 M3 occurred over the last week with my fleet of hundred-year-old men. Tuesday morning, popped #3 spark plug out of the wagon when accelerating to get on the highway going in to work. That's a paddlin'. Then my backup car (yellow sedan) needed "new" ignition coils/module and a mass air flow sensor in order to run in any meaningful way. That was a frustrating $50 at the yard considering I replaced the ignition components last summer with new parts. I think the MAF has been a persistent issue since I bought the car 2.5 years ago though. It's running better than it ever has. Also had the wheels rebalanced to eliminate the highway shakes. It's great now.

Since I don't feel like trying to helicoil a firewall-side spark plug hole on a transverse V6, I got quoted ~$260 at a shop, which I consider to be fairly reasonable. That'll occur when there's more than two nickels to rub together in the budget.

And just to break up the monotony of me posting walls of text, here's the yellow sedan with the Eurosport VR wheels on it.

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/15/18 2:57 p.m.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Life gets to you sometimes.

A fair amount of things happened with the wagon over the last several months that I haven't detailed. The erratic startup idle was a vacuum line that popped off the EVAP solenoids. That got double clamped and hasn't been a problem since. Then one day the transmission suddenly stopped shifting. Putting the shifter in D would give access to third only, including when leaving from a stop. If I manually shifted to 2, I would have second, then I could manually shift to 3 and have third. This came with a whole host of check engine codes:

p0122 throttle posision sensor
p0171 bank 1 lean
p0327 knock sensor
p0740 tcc solenoid
p0753 shift solenoid a
p0758 shift solenoid b
p1122 cruise
p1406 egr
p1554 cruise
p1651 fan 1
p1652 fan 2
p1655 evap
p1671 quad C
p1672 low oil lamp

Car broke, basically. I also later found out that the cooling fans would not turn on on their own. That would become quite problematic once summer rolled back in to Vegas. I will save you all the drama that I went through (bought another 97 PCM from Milzy and it did not fix the issues) and tell you the cause was a popped fuse for the quad driver module. Once I replaced that, the transmission once again had all four gears and the fans worked. It also cleared up most of those codes, since the quad driver apparently handles most of those functions

However, because I drove around for such an extended period of time pretending I had a manual Powerglide, the transmission is toasted. I mean, I already knew I was on borrowed time when I opened the pan back during the engine swap and saw all that clutch material, but it's done now. The converter wouldn't lock up, and it would just give up when asked to do aggressive shifting and slip into neutral, and just the other day it stopped functioning entirely. Like, no forward or reverse gears at all. I will do some troubleshooting, but I'm not a transmission technician. I follow the Haynes manual line of thought: if you adjust the fluid level correctly and it doesn't fix the problem, just leave it alone and let someone who knows what they're doing mess with it. I added some fluid since it has been leaking for some time, but that did nothing. I will probably swap back to my other 97 PCM just for kicks, since it only take a few minutes, but I honestly don't see that doing much. It's tucked up in the dash behind the glove box on the A-bodies, for those who want to know.

I had some prescience, and picked up another used transmission, this time a 3.33 final drive unit from a '96 Grand Prix. My stock unit is also a 3.33, but it has an overdrive chain ratio to give it a 2.97 final. The GP trans has a 1:1 chain for a true 3.33 final. That will give me much better acceleration and city fuel economy. I drive mostly city anyway, so dropping an mpg on the highway on those rare trips I do make won't cause me too much concern.

I also addressed another concern I had. You may recall I had a minor problem with one of the bolts for the newer-style EGR mounting, as in one of them was too long and touched the fuel rail. I jammed a shorter bolt in, but it backed out and ruined the threads. That meant the EGR was not mounted completely flush to the intake manifold, and was leaking and being a non-factor. This doesn't flow with my stock appearing engine bay, so I swapped the upper intake. I felt that the manifold would have to come off anyway to helicoil that hole, and I had a spare LA1 upper laying around, so it made sense to just swap it. Also keeping with my stock appearance, I ground off the "3400 SFI" so it wouldn't give me away.

 

I then addressed the suspension. A few years ago this wagon was stolen, and I had no idea if I would ever see it again, so I bought the yellow Century sedan I posted above as a replacement. After I recovered it, I didn't know if I would be able to continue driving it with the damaged steering column, so I did some parts swapping to the yellow car, namely the front struts. I had replaced them on the wagon just a year prior, and the struts on the sedan were likely original to the car, so I swapped them. Now it was time to update the wagon.

I may have mentioned earlier in the thread, but the Dustbuster vans are closely related to the A-body cars, and many parts are interchangeable. The vans are larger and heavier, so some of the parts are beefier to deal with that, like the brakes, sway bar, and struts. I've already installed a 26mm front van sway bar, so then I moved on to the second upgrade of what I like to call the Big Three: van struts. The quick strut assembly bolts on exactly the same as the car strut, but offers stiffer valving in the strut itself and a stiffer spring, since the van is something like 500 pounds heavier than the car. Pictured here next to old and busted.

 

It's not that great of an idea to only focus on the front, so I bought some variable rate wagon springs for the rear as well. I considered getting van springs but ultimately decided that it would make the back of the car a little too stiff. I've experienced that already with the Monroe 58421 helper shocks I used for the Kansas towing trip back in 2015. Those shocks have a spring wrapped around them to help keep the rear level when heavily loaded. And it did. But when empty it was bouncy as hell, and very uncomfortable to drive around an urban environment with all of its pavement irregularities.

 

Old and busted on left. They are the same install height, but have those three extra coils at the top for when things get hot and heavy. Ride height after install was a bit higher.

It settled down a little, but it's still higher than before, which you can probably attribute to the completely worn out springs being replaced. Ride quality stayed quite good, which is paramount in a family car, but body roll is greatly reduced, lean is less pronounced, and diving under braking is nearly gone. A good deal, if I say so myself. If anyone is interested here are the part numbers I used:

Van quick struts: Monroe 171820
Wagon rear springs: Moog CC632

Also hit a milestone: 200k miles.

But my tribulations are not done! I also suddenly developed a P0300 random misfire. After chasing my tail and throwing parts at it that it definitely didn't need (fuel pump, ignition module and coils), I caught a comment somewhere about a specific wire. I dont recall if it was on one of my Facebook groups or the A-body board, but someone with a 2.8L Celebrity was having a terrible misfire, and a suggestion was floated to check the wire going to the 7x crank position sensor. My engine, being a descendant of the 2.8, also has a 7x sensor. Hey, let's check that out.

Yeah, that will probably do it. Because of my engine swap, I'm running a remote 7x reluctor, attached to the front of the crank pulley, with the sensor on a bracket very close by. The wire was sitting on the axle on that side and being abraded, causing the misfire. I went to the yard and got a wire off a Cutlass that someone else had helpfully pulled the entire top end from, and slapped it on. All is well now.

 

That about brings us up to date. If anyone else happens to have some suggestions about the sudden complete failure of my transmission, I'm more than willing to entertain them.

Indy-Barely Functional-Guy
Indy-Barely Functional-Guy UltraDork
7/15/18 4:17 p.m.

Glad to see you worked through all the little problems to keep this going. I don't have a clue about the tranny, but hope you get it going again soon. Keep us posted.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/15/18 5:00 p.m.

In reply to Left Ventricle :

Glad to see you’ve been busy(mostly) making progress. 

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/16/18 2:40 a.m.

Just for posterity, here are my notes on the third of the Big Three, the van brake upgrade.

Van brakes on car:
Must use minimum 15" wheels, will not fit under stock 14s

Need from 92-95 van at yard (NLA):
Knuckles

Need for 92-95 van, new:
Ball joint
Brake rotor
Brake pad
Brake caliper
Brake lines, rubber
Outer tie rod

Bolt stock car hub onto van knuckle

In short, you just bolt on van parts in place of the car stuff. Once you have the van knuckle, it's then just a hop skip and jump to upgrade further to pre-facelift fourth gen (93-97) F-body V8 brakes. You need to grab the caliper brackets and bolts from a junk car, use 00-05 Impala rotors, and your choice of F-body pads. The F-body stuff will require a minimum wheel size of 16 inches.

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/28/18 1:13 a.m.

transmission dead send help

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/28/18 5:32 a.m.

In reply to Left Ventricle :

That sucks :(

Planning to rebuild it, or grab another one from a junkyard?

Saturnguy
Saturnguy New Reader
7/28/18 12:40 p.m.

Getrag swap?

Left Ventricle
Left Ventricle New Reader
7/28/18 1:18 p.m.
Saturnguy said:

Getrag swap?

I would love to, but I commute in this car (or used to), and rush hour on the highway suuuuuuuuuucks with a manual. Road trip fuel economy would suffer as well with the much shorter final drives available in compatible transmissions. Like, I think the tallest I could get in a five speed would be 3.61, and that translates to ~300 rpm higher at 65 mph. Doesn't sound like a lot, I know. I could go with a four speed, but those don't have overdrive. A six speed would be cool too.

Pete Gossett said:

In reply to Left Ventricle :

That sucks :(

Planning to rebuild it, or grab another one from a junkyard?

I have a replacement on deck. I knew this unit was not long for this world, so I bought a '96 Grand Prix trans several months ago. It has a true 3.33 final drive, rather than the 3.33 + overdrive chain = 2.97 that the wagon is currently running. I just need some money for a new converter and for the Vegas summer to berkeley off so I don't have to do the work at 4 in the morning to avoid the heat. I will post a video shortly of what it is (not) doing, but in short, it does nothing when put in gear.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/28/18 7:28 p.m.

In reply to Left Ventricle :

Sounds like you have a plan. Definitely sucks about the heat though. 

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