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V6Buicks Reader
11/18/22 2:08 p.m.

I got the timing cover gasket removed, but it didn't go down without a fight.  It was clearly original and hard as a rock.  The razor blade was no match, so a surface prep roloc pad had to come make its mess.  Then I washed it in a solvent tank.

This is all the paint that remains.

Getting to this part sucks, so I'm planning to have it professionally powder coated.  I'd hate to see a paint job start chipping a couple years down the road because I don't want to come back here!

I'll probably have a few other parts done as well, but I started to realize that powder coating locally isn't charged the way I expected.  It would be really expensive to have everything I want done especially if I'm not prepping and masking the parts on my own.  That was when I got another idea.

I don't want to go into too many details since this isn't directly related to the car, but it should be a game changer once I get all the fixes and modifications done!  Fixes and modifications are very much needed though.  These things are big piles of junk!

I have my basement plumbed for a compressor drop, but I'll probably need to add a second compressor for adequate CFM.  This blast cabinet project has been very time consuming, so I hope it pays off.


Now you're up-to-date!  I have a bunch of performance parts on the way, so I should be able to show you some progress very soon.

RandolphCarter Reader
11/19/22 8:18 a.m.
V6Buicks said:

...and worked the shaft every once in a while to ensure coverage and penetration.



V6Buicks Reader
11/21/22 9:14 a.m.

I wasn't super productive this weekend, but I did do a much needed clean-up of the garage.  It's amazing/infuriating how much more of a disaster your tool box gets when your car has both metric and standard fasteners.

While I was in the garage, I wanted to at least feel semi-accomplished.

This was really satisfying.  Not only is the car officially going the other direction, but the new chain is quite a bit tighter and a stronger, more modern design.  I'm very happy I did this.  Because of that, I feel like the tensioner must be replaced.  I debated because the OG still holds a lot of tension, and the pad isn't terribly worn.  On the other hand, the wear pattern of this chain will be a lot different.  Oh well.  I'll have to get some advice from the Buick guys about the cam bumper though.  I'm wondering if it's better to just keep what I have since it's already worn into the timing cover.

That's about all I can do.  Everything else I have is either waiting on the blast cabinet or more parts to arrive.  Speaking of which, I made a fun purchase last week.  A Racetronix 450LPH pump, upgraded hot wire harness (mine is too small), -6AN return line, tune saver (device that retains tune memory when the battery is removed), Comp 980 valve springs, and a TurboTweak E85 chip for 80# injectors.  I can officially begin removing that dang Alky system!

I didn't want to dig into that just yet though, I had a project in the basement that was holding up other parts of the car.  My wife siliconed the seams of th blast cabinet for me, and I did some more work on the plumbing.  I was particularly proud of this little clamp I made.

There was too much weight hanging off to the side of that bulkhead.  Using the ball valve without loosening the bulkhead jam nut was impossible, but an electrical conduit clamp and some junk from my orphan hardware box stiffened everything up.  "That ain't goin' nowhere!"

Once I figure out what media I'm using, I should be set to start cleaning parts.  Let's hope all the work I did on this junk pays off.

V6Buicks Reader
12/30/22 9:42 p.m.

Long time no post, but it shouldn't be too hard to remember everything that happened because it hasn't been much.

I removed and promptly sold the haggard alky system.  Sometimes a system is only as good as the installer chooses to make it, but this is one that I've never been impressed with.  Most of the vocal turbo Buick guys will disagree with me hard here, but the fit and finish is just terrible.  Good riddance.

The installer of my particular unit had no standards.  For the system to work right, you need to tap into the MAP sensor and install a new one.  He twisted the wires together and wrapped them in electrical tape.  That's it.  My removal involved removing the wire from the weather pack connecter and shrinking the bare spot.  Much better!


In the process I decided to look into the ugly vacuum line situation.  I hate that a line was cut for the VDO boost gauge hose.  I still haven't figured a permanent solution.  In interest of moving on, I pulled the boost gauge hose out of the ugly alky anaconda and otherwise left it as-is.  I'll come back to it.

Here's the anaconda I was referring to.  I'm so happy to see it go.

I'm not sure if this happened because I was fiddling with it or if was already like this.  Either way, it shouldn't have happened.  IT does explain why my "Low fuel" light didn't come on when the alky ran dry though.  Once again, good riddance!

The only thing I'll miss is he progressive LED which I installed in the A-pillar.  It was cool, but I do like less wires.

There's also an LED added in the FACTORY "Power Injection" slot.  Word on the street is that Buick intended on selling these cars with a factory methanol injection system, but it got scrapped before production.  All that remained was the dummy ligh slot.

Here's another example of poor quality in the kit... instead of adding a bulb holder, a bulb soldered to the wires is just held in with an o-ring.  This is original to the kit.  It works, but I hate it.

I don't even know what this light was for, but it was attached to the alky system.  Oh well.  Good bye.

It was so refreshing to see how underwelming the exposed dash looks without the alky rats nest.

Who knew that the plastic kick panel wouldn't sag anymore when you remove a couple pounds from the top of it?!  It was such an accepted fate that a support brace was produced.  It looks like I won't be needing mine anymore.

More junk that I'm super happy to be rid of.

No more pump.

I got $300 for all that even with extreme transparency about the poor condition.  Woohoo!

I had never been so happy to see a yellowed factory coolant reservoir in my life.  This moment was pretty monumental for me.

Moving on, I made a move that's very unlike myself.  I'm going to remove a very quirky factory option.  This car came with a block heater!  It's kinda funny, but it's also ugly and unnecessary.  The wire is almost impossible to keep free of oil cakes.

Yikes.  At least the cord is a standard style that pops right off.  The rest of this won't be fun to clean though.

Soon after I had a freak out moment because I saw this very concerning beat up piece of metal in the valley.

After a little bit of measuring and investigation, I realized that it was a turbo bearing!  The turbo drains into the valley on these engines.  Whew!

After a long delay of waiting for parts and a fancy tool to arrive, I moved on to replacing the valve springs and valve stem seals.  Unfortunately, this went very poorly.

I forgot to remove the valve core from my compression tester, and I didn't think setting TDC was necessary, so this happened.

I had no choice but to remove the head.

The only logical thing to do at this point is to remove the rest of the engine.  I should have done it from the get go, and it should make the rest of this journey a lot easier.  I have yet to figure out how I'm going to get this done with my crappy crane and tiny space in the winter, but I'll figure it out.

Until then, I wanted to make some actual progress instead of tearing more stuff apart.

I thought I was going crazy.  You may notice that I "lost" the seal upon spring removal.  Installing a new one was not happening for some reason.


I decided to ditch this valve and keep going.  That was when I noticed that the exhaust valves didn't have stem seals to begin with!  WHAT?!  Then I noticed that the valves would never accept a seal even if the guides were machined appropriatley.


How goofy!  No wonder Buicks have an oil burning reputation!  I started installing the new Comp dual springs, but I think I'm going to remove them again.  I feel like a chump for not cleaning these nasty valves.  I might as well!

I also finally finished the blast cabinet, and I couldn't be happier with the results!

I replaced the blue hose with a clear one, because you need to see the media flow while setting the ball valve.

All done featuring a dust deputy between the cabinet and the shop vac.

I can see, there are no cabinet leaks, and the system works great!

I'll let the results speak for themselves.  This is before.

And this is after about five minutes with aluminum oxide media.

I can definitely use a water separator and a bigger compressor, but this job was a breeze.  I can get away with my 27 gallon for now.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/30/22 10:14 p.m.

Wow, memories.  That friggin wiring harness across the back of the engine...


One of the things we did was machine the valve cover surface flat instead of leaving it as cast like Buick did.  As cast worked sort of okay with cork gaskets, which is to say it only would drool a little bit, which was good enough in the 70s...


I forget if the exhaust guides got machined for PC seals or not.  Most people got TA heads anyway.  It probably is supposed to have an umbrella seal, which I still don't get why they don't work like valve guide oil pumps smiley

Hugh MacInnes recommended leaving the exhaust seals off in his Turbocharging book, to get a little more exhaust guide cooling.

V6Buicks Reader
12/30/22 10:58 p.m.

Yeah, if I had a lot more money and patience I'd be getting some nice some ported heads with upgrades like normal exhaust valves, cut guides, and flat valve cover surfaces, but it's neither in my budget nor timeline.  :/

I'm probably just going to clean the carbon off the valves and lap them in with toothpaste like the hillbilly I am. lol

V6Buicks Reader
1/2/23 7:31 a.m.

I removed and cleaned up the starter.  I can't get over how big this thing is!  I might be swapping it out with an aluminum bodied mini starter for the weight savings.

Passenger side head is done!

After that I felt accomplished enough to move on to more disassembly.

I cannot wait to clean this up and repaint!

I knew that my transmission had been rebuilt at some point, but I didn't think it was this recently!  I only bought the car about a year after the torque converter was made.

By the way, that torque converter has to go.  It's basically a stock or worse 12".  From what everyone is telling me, a 10" PTC 2600-2800 stall lock-up will be perfect for my mild combination on the street.  It will be spendy, but it sounds worthwhile to me.

Asphalt_Gundam Reader
1/3/23 3:10 p.m.

This gasket matched lower intake plenum isn't doing you any favors. That ledge going into the head is all kinds of bad for the air and fuel. Either port the heads to match too or get an unported intake.

Since you're already there I'd be getting a valve job and resurface done to the heads anyway. I'd also be concerned about if any turbo fin parts made it to the engine and damaged the valves or piston (you'll be able to check see now that the heads are off). For sure some serious cleaning or replacing the intercooler is needed since that's where turbo debris would most likely have gotten caught.

Also, good call on the converter. A bad/poor quality one car ruin a vehicle's performance.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/3/23 6:03 p.m.

In reply to V6Buicks :

I have done lots of the PTC converters in GNs.  They wake the car right up, especially if you have a decent chip and have tightened the wastegate spring up a bit.

A car with a mild (stock or stock like) turbo at 13psi max pressure might make 7psi at converter stall, with a stock converter, and then you are waiting there for the car to catch up with the engine so the engine can accelerate and get you into the meat of the boost.

With even a mild converter like you are considering, it is like 13psi NOW and away you go.  We would always comment on how huge a difference a few hundred RPM in stall speed makes.


(and this is why I have a loose converter in my Volvo smiley  And to be honest, why I wanted an automatic in the first place)

V6Buicks Reader
1/4/23 9:34 a.m.

In reply to Asphalt_Gundam :

I actually planned to pull the first head I did apart and lap the valves.  I experimented with the other head using my installed head valve spring tool, and found a very leaky exhaust valve right off the bat.  I really don't think any meaningful amounts of metal could have made it from the turbo to the intake, but if a lapping job doesn't fix the leaks I'll consider sending these out.  I've never really believed in skimming heads with stock gaskets unless there was catastrophic damage or car was ran hard after blowing a head gasket.  In all the head gasket jobs I've done, resurfacing has never been part of the process.  This is mainly in interest of time, but I haven't had to redo any.

As for the port mismatch, I'll be replacing the intake with a virgin core.  I'm not interested in porting anything made of iron!

V6Buicks Reader
1/4/23 10:02 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Good to know!  I'm really excited to replace it and feel the difference.

Monday night was spent doing piddly stuff, but I couldn't continue limping around all the mess I had made.  A bunch of stuff got cleaned up, and the valvtrain was put away.  I had to get crafty so that bumping the wrong table wouldn't result in a disaster.

Witht the garage being a little less of a disaster, I tried to install my filter regulator only to find that my hammer drill was left at work, and I needed more fittings.  Oh well.  I'll start here I guess.

These are probably the nicest NPT threads I've ever cut.

I was very sleepy yesterday, so carrying iron heads and dealing with valve springs again wasn't something my body was prepared for.  Instead I got to doing more work in the basement which didn't involve a lot of muscle.  I grabbed some fittings on my way home from work, and carried on.

This was a very noticeable improvement.  The 1/2" line and regulator without QCs definitely upped the flow rate.  The blasting gun does quicker work (compressor allowing) and the filter catches a ton more water than I expected.  I could probably use a second filter, but I'm happy with what I have for now.

After that I was able to put my ear plugs in and blast away for the couple hours.  I had to take a few breaks for the compressor to catch up and cool off, but I got the job about as done as my patience!  If I was going to be doing this a lot I would strongly consider buying a second compressor or upgrade, but I don't think that the blast cabinet will be used a ton.  In that seldom usage, small brackets and such will be the primary victims anyway. 

I'm excited to get these coated in a grey VHT!  I think They'll look great.  First I'm going to see if I can locally source a lapping tool and some compound.  I really want these heads to be done.

V6Buicks Reader
1/12/23 1:31 p.m.

I said I would do it, and I did.  All the valves came out and got lapped.

This was the leaker.  Luckily it appears that I just knocked some EGR crud loose while pulling the intake and then crushed it when pulling the rocker shaft.  No biggy!  It cleaned right up.

I hate doing stuff like this, but repainting the heads means finally ditching some original markings.  This "FCA" sticker was fully in tact before I pulled the engine.  Oh well.  Hopefully the end results make me not care about things like this anymore.

Pulling the engine also meant that there was no excuse for not pulling off the oil pan.  This engine pull was well worth the effort becasue there's no way I would have been able to flush this thing clean.

There were a lot more bigger turbo bearing pieces in there along with a clipped zip tie head??

I'm glad all that is cleaned up.  I bought a new pick-up tube from TA with a bunch of other parts, so I won't need to worry about clearing it out.

After that I wanted to quickly install the heads so that I wouldn't come up with another excuse to tear them apart!  For this I used a set of ARP bolt and Fel-Pro 9441PT head gaskets.  Since all the bolt holes go down to the coolant passage, every bolt got thread sealer as well as a dab of moly head lube.  Then I touched up the back of the block with some paint.

That TA order with the pick-up includes rocker buttons, so it's not worth putting the valve train together yet.  From here I figured I'd start getting the timing cover ready for paint.  That would mean ditching the ancient rope seal and swapping it with an updated rubber seal like we're all used to seeing by now.

The first step is removing the retainer tangs that were beat into the cover.  I did this with a dremel cut-off tool.

After that the retainer should come out pretty easily.

The next step is not installing the seal becasue you'll ruin it...

I didn't realize that the bore gets pretty warped and smashed by those tangs, so the right thing to do is switch the Dremel over to a barrel sander and smooth those spots down.  THEN you can install a new seal.  I have to wait for the new one to arrive now, but the part number is Fel-Pro 15200.  I'll probably use a bit of RTV to glue it in place since the bore is so shallow and friction will be the only thing holding it in otherwise.

I'm happy to be making progress even with little annoyances like these.  The downer is the amount of back ordered part I'm always waiting to receive.  Oh well.  In the mean time I can swap my media over to glass bead and work on some aluminum parts.  I think I'm done blasting rusty stuff for a while.


V6Buicks Reader
1/20/23 8:51 a.m.

Feeling motivated to continue Buick progress but still waiting for parts, I decided to revisit an old friend.

I'm not sure if I had mentioned any of this in previous posts, so I'm sorry if I'm repeating anything. The master cylinder was rebuilt back when I could still buy that seal kit and the accumulator was nearly brand new. Right before I did the one night vacuum conversion I diagnosed the Powermaster issue as the pump being worn out. The motor ran continuously and and the brakes were iffy. When I rigged a pressure gauge in with the switch, I found that there wasn't nearly enough pressure to turn off the switch. FAIL #1

Maybe a year or two later I figured it was worth trying to find a pump and motor that was still functional. For what it's worth, I've hated everything about my vacuum brakes since the day I did the conversion. The booster is noisy, I can't hold the car on the line, it looks dumb under the hood, and I just miss having that goofy Powermaster conversation piece. When I came across an ad for a $75 complete unit in unknown condition, I snagged it fast. This was a steal considering cores were worth $125 at the time. I robbed the EH pump off that, installed it on my unit, and then let it sit for another few years because I had bigger fish to fry despite my complaints. Let's be real.  The vacuum booster will always at least work.

I some of you all will read this thinking I'm insane for wanting to remove a vacuum conversion for a Powermaster, but I'm hard-headed and enjoy tinkering. I cleaned up some of the bracketry, scuffed the rust off the motor, and slapped it back together. Satisfied with the appearance, I decided to finally fill the thing up with fluid and finally use the bench testing equipment I made....

I even caught the first power up on video so that you could point and laugh at me.


It's pretty obvious that there is something wrong with the motor on this one. You can't see it in the video, but smoke started rolling out of the motor. sadI would have tried pairing this pump with my old motor, but I foolishly took the old motor apart years ago and broke some things in the process. My analysis concluded that these motors are not exactly serviceable for a guy in his garage. It doesn't mean I didn't try though! Here are my brushes being held in by a couple wires while I attempt to install the body and armature.

This trick helped, but the permanent magnets on the body are always trying to suck in the armature. After fiddling with this for a while I made a new discovery that kind of sealed the fate of my future with Powermasters. That little bushing that the the armature rides in had come loose which in my mind means I wouldn't have seen a very long life from this motor. The armature and bushing would have likely dug into the body, seized up, and caused a power brake failure. Quick research shows that all the Powermaster motors are getting to the age where they need to be rebuilt if they haven't already, and I'm not okay with paying Kirban/Castle $1500 for a complete unit when all I need is a good motor/pump.  It should also be on record that loosing Powermaster function does not mean the same thing as loosing vacuum booster function.  If the Powermaster is not pumping you have no brakes whatsoever where a vacuum booster pedal at least gives you a small amount of manual brakes.

In conclusion, I'm satisfied. I'm accepting failure as an option here which is kind of a win in a roundabout way. While there is a respectfully priced EH assembly from a rebuilt Powermaster for sale on ebay, I think I'm going to pass on it. As much as I like the idea of having a Powermaster back in my car, complete rebuilds of the EH assembly appears to not be a standard practice in remans. In my mind, this means that even a $1500 reman is a crapshoot since it could have been good on arrival. I've seen, heard, and learned enough about these to be a bit cautious. No thanks. I'm going to try hotrodding the vacuum setup instead.

Quick research is showing a couple good solutions for my complaints anyway.  First is modifying the intake while it's off.  I don't typically like modifying factory hard-to-get parts, but drilling/tapping a the rear of the manifold for a booster fitting will be invisible with the car back together.  I also think I'm leaving a lot of braking performance on the table by sticking with the junkyard booster.  If memory serves me right, it came from an '84 Cutlass meaning it has a single diaphragm.  A new booster made to '87 specs should not only help in low vacuum situations, but quiet down the horrible huffing noise I hear every time I step on the brakes.  This all excites me a lot more than a working Powermaster.

ANYWAY. That was a fun little experiment. Moving on...

Last weekend I made a trip to see my family with a small detour to pick up this ugly chunk of aluminum.

I think I did a good job here overall. The seller sold me everything you see here for $150 which is a steal even with the broken heater pipe bolt boss. I degreased it as best as I could, dried it off, and blasted it with aluminum oxide for a few minutes. Surprisingly, that gross tan stuff did not all come off, but I intended to paint it regardless.

The main purpose of buying this is to put my original intake aside until I sell it because it's ported and I don't need that or I buy ported heads because I'm nuts. However, the big ports on my intake going into the stock heads was probably WORSE for performance than leaving it alone. Turbulence is not just for planes! A stock intake is the easiest fix.

I also won't have to fix a bunch of bad heli-coils, so that's a plus.  I handed the new intake to my machinist buddy at work whose going to mill out the EGR tower and attempt to fix the broken bolt hole.  I'll drill and tap the new booster port.   After that, a coat of paint should have this thing looking really nice!

I got my order from TA Performance a couple days ago which was very exciting.  I immediately got to work on rebuilding the rocker shafts.  The buttons that retain the rockers are just plastic, so it's a good thing to replace them after 37 years of heat cycles.

They break apart pretty easy with a hammer and chisel.

The new ones get pounded in with an appropriately sized socket.  I'm glad I chose TA for these, because I heard that the parts store buttons are made too small.  Mine are very snug.

After a little oil bath, all the valvetrain is back home!

Also in my TA order was (hopefully) the last piece needed to put my oil pump and timing cover back together.  This is called a booster plate.  It doesn't do anything for pressure or volume over factory specs.  It's more so cheap insurance.  This steel plate just gives the pump gears a more durable surface to ride on.  As you send junk through the pump, it won't destroy the aluminum filter housing as long as you have this plate.  It also won't deflect or allow oil to bypass under higher pressures.

I say "hopefully" because I knew that these pumps were pretty sensitive in terms of housing clearance.  On the other hand, my adapter, gears, and housing were in great visual condition when I pulled it apart.  There was little reason to believe that it wouldn't go back together without special shims.  Everything measured fine, and the dry assembly test resulted in no binding. yes

That meant I could put this together for real!  I coated the gears in oil, slid them back in, and packed the void with some petroleum jelly.  This basically primes the pump.

I have a lot of taping ahead of me.  Otherwise, this assembly is ready for paint!

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
1/20/23 9:04 a.m.

Really enjoying this one. Your detailed posts are some good reading. Keep it up!

I can now say that after watching Vice Grip Garage, Junkyard Digs, Legit Street Cars, and now your build thread...I don't think I want to own a Grand National. 

V6Buicks Reader
1/20/23 9:24 a.m.

In reply to Scotty Con Queso :

Hahaha!  I don't blame you.  It's all a labor of love.

It's kinda funny how all three of those videos came out so recently, and I think they're the first series to portray an honest reality of what it's like to work on these turds.  The results are great once you finally get them up to snuff, but there are a lot of oddball parts and systems that will just beat you up mentally and financially.

If you want one, you should find one that's already good.  However, also make sure that you REALLY want one.  I'm a diehard turbo Buick fan and I still often question if this is the right car for me.  I'm sure I'll be asking again once it's all back together and inevitably not running right, but I have no doubt that the end results will be fantastic.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/23 1:11 p.m.

You will still have manual brakes if/when the Powermaster pump fails.

However, because the master is a fairly large bore and the Powermaster pedal ratio is so small, you need to strain both legs on the brake pedal to stop.

V6Buicks Reader
1/20/23 1:19 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

It kinda feels like somebody welded a bar between the pedal and the firewall. lol  The mechanical advantage is not really there.

V6Buicks Reader
1/23/23 8:28 a.m.

With the timing cover installed I could finish painting the block!

Cleaned up the crank sensor bracket and decided to leave it in bare aluminum.

I decided against the smaller and lighter starter for now.  A little paint and some cleaning was enough to keep me happy.  I also installed these fancy new poly engine mounts from HR parts.  They make me feel like one of the cool kids.


I was going to blast the valve covers so that I could paint them, but then I remembered that there is a lot more bare aluminum that I would need to match, and one of them is the alternator case.

I guess we'll play this by ear for now.  Since the machinist will have to bake the impurities out of the intake before welding anyway, it's possible that it will come out looking pretty clean and not require a paint job.

V6Buicks Reader
2/14/23 9:31 a.m.

I am very far behind on updating this.  Hopefully I don't miss any details.

The intake manifold is back from my machinist buddy with a repaired heater pipe bolt boss and milled EGR tower. In hindsight, I should have had him weld the EGR shut, but I'll manage.

and since neither the baking nor solvent would remove the tan coloring, I researched paint.  Dupli-color has one specifically made for cast aluminum engine parts which is what I settled on.  Others had complaints about being too blue, dull, or chrome which is what I worried about with any choice.  I also hate the idea of coating parts that would otherwise dissipate heat really well.  Dupli-color addressed that as well.  I'm very happy with this choice.

I'd say that looks like clean aluminum!

Satisfied with the look, I moved on to the plenum.  This took two tries because I couldn't get over the damage that was done to the fins.  It looked like somebody beat on it with a hammer.  Luckily this was easy to fix with a file and a bit more paint.

Since I was happy with the paint color I decided that this intake was worth keeping and modifying further for my needs.  Instead of an ugly billet block with a nipple on top of the throttle, I'll be able to stealthily run booster vacuum from the back of the intake.  This will make the conversion a lot less obvious looking.

I got a lot of different answers from people about converters and decided to call an expert before dropping big coin.  Dave Husek is a turbo Buick 200-4R genius, and I really appreciated our conversation.  He could have easily sold me one of his smaller more expensive converters, but he didn't think it was necessary for my small turbo, mostly stock engine, and driving style.  He sold me a modified D5 (stock converter).  It was up-fitted with a custom stator and anti-balloon plate.  He advertised it as a 2600 stall that will light of my turbo really quickly.  Sounds good to me!  It sounds like just about anything will be better than the blue junk that's in there now.

Here's why I wish the EGR was welded shut.

I've seen these block plates countless times, but never realized that they are not sealed with a gasket or o-rings.  Mine is installed with RTV on the underside, but I'm probably pulling it back off.  The single bolt holding it down on the bottom is not known to be adequate without a bracket.  I'll probably go in and pipe plug the round hole shut.  The square hole will need a combination of steel wool and JB Weld.

More pretty stuff!

V6Buicks Reader
2/22/23 3:57 p.m.

I got a new booster from Cardone and I'm already a lot more hopeful that this solves the issues I had with the old one.  The dual diaphragm should help with performance of course, but I was not expecting to see another muffler packing that my old one doesn't have.  This thing should be much quieter!

I couldn't handle the gray plating though.

When it comes to installing intake manifolds on v-blocks, I tend to go against the grain.  I've never had any issues with the vally rail seals, so I install them too.

You just need to be thorough in the corners.

If everything smashes then you should be leak free.  Who knows, maybe I'll eat my words now that I'm talking about it.  I don't regret the shiny ARP bolts though.

With the intake on permanently, I'd say the engine is about as assembled as I want it to be before going into the car.

V6Buicks Reader
2/22/23 4:03 p.m.

...but I kept playing with it anyway.  I was really excited to swap out the ugly ribbed billet TTA style vacuum block.


and replace it with something less in my face.  Since the booster can now gets vacuum from the back of the intake, I can swap back to a stock style vacuum block.

I've never seen anybody paint their vacuum blocks, and I'm not sure why.  I think it looks so much better.  The factory piece was black plastic, so this looks right at home!


V6Buicks Reader
2/23/23 9:05 a.m.

I'm going to try to catch you all up in the next post post, but it's really disheartening to spend 45 minutes typing a well-thought post only to loose everything due to an error with the image tool. sad  That's why I've been breaking the progress down into shorter posts.  I can't push my luck!

Anyway, I had gotten pretty overwhelmed with the engine bay after I cleaned it about a month ago.

Not only had I cleaned off a bit more than I bargained for, but I had no clue as to how I was supposed to paint the frame without getting over-spray on the unreal amounts of hoses and plastics which surround it.  Instead of diving in head first, I pondered this (really just stressed myself out over it) for about a month.

I concluded that the only way to truly do this correctly was to do a frame off restoration.  That’s obviously not happening any time soon, so some degree of compromise was going to have to happen.  I realize that the body bushings and front suspension have seen better days, so that will at least happen relatively soon and probably at the same time.  I will try not to worry about any section that can be reached during that job and focus only on what the engine hides or makes cleaning/painting impossible.  I was initially upset that brake lines were going to get sprayed, but then I remembered two things.  One is that I will never see that unless I’m under the car.  Two is that this car was given an undercoating treatment when it was brand new.  While the lines are crisp and clean right now, I can bet that’s only because years of brake cleaner and spilled fluids washed the undercoating off.  If anything, spraying the brake lines against the frame black is a restoration effort!  That’s what I’m going to tell myself anyway.

Here we go.  Steering shaft and power steering parts are removed.  The pump was not going to look pretty on the freshly painted engine anyway.  Plus, I have never changed the fluid.

I also had to address the rusty frame section under the master cylinder.  I propped the fender liner out of the way with a couple screws just enough to get in there with a wire brush.

Then I masked a few things, sprayed, and prayed.

Overall, I am very happy with the results.  The VHT satin black chassis paint was a solid choice.  REALLY solid!  This stuff dries like a rock and on top of some very unfavorable prep.  It didn’t really seem to care if I had some leftover oil or degreaser on the frame.  I can’t pick it off with a finger or wipe it off with a rag, but we'll see how long it lasts.  There are a few spots I had to redo and give closer attention, but the whole process went a lot quicker than expected.  This car is ready for an engine!

V6Buicks Reader
2/23/23 9:22 a.m.

I was not feeling amazing about this decision initially, but the AC compressor was finally removed as well.  Despite having a full and functional system, the compressor was the worst looking accessory on the engine.  The clutch had caught a lot of junk and the pulley was a bit rusty.  I couldn’t let this fly, but to sweeten the deal and further justify this discharge, I’m going to try upgrading components for more cooling.

The AC worked the same for three years, but it wasn’t flawless.  I can’t guarantee that it would’ve been the same after all this work because any movement of these old R-12 hoses would cause periodic hissing.  The dials always had to be set on max cooling with the fan on high to get comfortable on a hot summer day.  This is how all my r-134a conversions have operated, but I never attempted to upgrade heat exchangers.  There are claims about the “red Ford truck” orifice tube being a solid upgrade, but I’m not buying it.  In theory it should help with cooling at higher speeds, but cool less in traffic when I feel like you need AC the most!  Some people claim to have experienced this in practice as well, so I’m sticking with the stock GM orifice.  What I will try to upgrade is the condenser.  After a lot of research, I believe I have found one with more than double the tubes.  Its fitment is suspect according to the reviews, but I think it will be close enough that I can overcome any issues.

I still worried though.  Almost every undone bolt on this project has stemmed into another mini project of which I have many outstanding.  The radiator hold-down plate had never been removed and the only parts of the original radiator I could see were starting to get green and gross.  A good fitting all aluminum radiator is almost $1000, and who knows what surprises I might find in the core support.  I guess there’s only one way to find out if I don’t want the AC discharge to be in vain.

As luck would have it though the radiator looks great!  This will clean up nicely.  With a paint job, it should be as good as new!

Even better is the mint, not rusty and still painted core support!  I can get away with a  soap and water job here.  Amazing!

Now if anybody has recommendations on how to R&R an R4 compressor clutch, I'd really appreciate it.  The "fits most Ford and GM" tool I bought from Napa was not the correct threading.  I'm hoping to find something else that will work, but I'm going to try taking advantage of the warm weather today by flushing the radiator, and painting some more little things.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/23/23 9:27 a.m.

i can't help with your question, but i'm glad to see the progress.  these cars were the baddest of the bad in my youth. 

jfryjfry SuperDork
2/23/23 9:33 a.m.

The engine is gorgeous - great work

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