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crisd New Reader
2/4/12 6:04 p.m.



   Enough people have asked me if I have a build log for my project car and I don't. So I'll make this my build page. First side note, the name Bu-suzu is from Matt at DIY Auto Tune. The project started as an entry for the GRM 2006 Challenge. The Q-Course, multiple deployments to Afghanistan, moving twice, and my son being born, and TDY to NDU to get my master's degree has stunted the progress of the truck more than once. Two vehicles are actually, almost equally used.. The two are a 1995 3800 Supercharged Buick Riviera and a 1986 Isuzu P’up. Various other parts collected randomly over the years and used include: the front A-arms and torsion bars that my buddy was throwing away because he was doing a solid axle conversion on a 1995ish Ford Explorer about 10 years ago. So GRM 2012??? Maybe. (Update... it's 2017 and still not done. I. The plan: Build a mid-engine truck using a front wheel drive vehicle mated to the rear of a light and cheap truck. After Google searching specs and hp ratings, a small list of possible candidates were compiled. Basically the list contained GM V6 supercharged products, including the Buick Riviera SC 3800. My original desire was to do paddle shifting so an automatic was desired. This plan may change as I may end up trading the auto for a standard transmission. This is yet to be finalized. Mega squirt does have a transmission controller and I would have to fab up a paddle shifter. If anyone has already done this please e-mail me! I hate to waste time re-inventing the wheel if I don’t have to. II. Vehicle acquisition: I trolled local salvage yards and found a ’95 Buick Riviera that had been newly towed in. It ran but had been totaled by a right rear collision. Dozens of yards were searched for a mini truck and this proved much harder. Originally I wanted a Chevy LUV, but quickly found that, at least in my area, that owners of Chevy LUVs are either delusional or just really love their trucks, even if they are rusted out pieces of junk sitting in their salvage yards. Translation… expensive. Then one day, I came across an Isuzu sitting in the back of a parts store with a bunch of junk sitting in the bed including what turned out to be a 351W short block, some radiators, and a jag front suspension with steering rack still attached. It looked like they just tossed old parts in the back of the truck. After some haggling, I got it for $150 and towed it home. I don’t know if the guy why conducted the deal knew what was in the bed but I made clear that I wanted the truck including all the parts that were in the bed. He never walked out back to look inside the bed but they never called me back to tell me to bring the pieces back… so their mine. III. The teardown: Basically I cut the front of the Buick off inside the vehicle between the front seat and the gas pedal. The Buick windshield, all the glass, seats, interior, airbags, and trim were carefully removed for re-sale. All other parts were carefully removed, labeled, and boxed up for later use, especially all nuts, bolts, washers, and wire. The truck was simple, the body was lifted off the frame and all components were removed, labeled, and boxed up. IV. Building the frame: Upon inspecting the truck frame it was decided to toss it because it had cracks in the rails. The Isuzu had been in a collision and the frame looked like it was bent back strait and I could see rusty cracks. So I ditched the frame and decided to make my own out of 2X4 box steel. In retrospect I think the rectangle tube is was a lot bigger than needed. If I could do it over again, I’d use 2X3. V. Attaching the car to truck: The front of the Buick was stripped and the attachment points for the bumper were bolted to the cab of the truck. Using blocks to hold everything up, the new frame rail lengths were measured and cut so that the front Buick suspension mounting points could mate with the frame rails. For mocking-up purposes, the two were bolted together, not welded. (update 2017: the unibody idea sucked and I threw it away keeping only the Buick cradle assembly. All new square tubing was used to build a rear frame.) Old version... <img src="#//s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664718098.jpg.html][/URL]" /> VI. Truck bed: The bed was set in my front yard and cut up. The side panels were cut off so that they could be bolted to the side of the Buick unibody. The wheel wells needed to be moved forward so 7” were sectioned out and re-welded. Later, some length may be taken out of the rear by the tailgate. That will depend on what everything looks like when complete. VII. The gas tank: The truck bed fender wells were cut out and the two halves were welded together and welded into the location of the transmission tunnel. The gas tank was located in the new “transmission tunnel”. I had to relocate pieces on the tank itself to change the direction of the tubing to face rearward. VIII. Steering: The old steering shaft needed to be moved to align with the new steering rack. I cut a hole where the shaft needed to go and used a BFH up top to align with precision the mounting tabs so they held the steering shaft in the correct location. The shaft was too long so I had to cut it a couple of inches. Then from the steering box to the steering shaft a collar was made and welded in. IX. Front Suspension: The main issues here were the shock tower perches. I used plate steel, most likely much thicker than needed but it isn’t going to flex! Then I cut the springs to lower the truck to the ride height I wanted. Once the vehicle is drivable, tuning of the springs and dampers will begin. X. Rear Suspension: The Buick steering rack was removed. Nothing else has been done. I’m thinking of cutting and welding up the hubs and just making new upper and lower A arms. If I don’t use that method, I’ll make brackets and connect the steering rods to the bracket to hold it solid. The issue there is bump steer which is very dangerous on the rear of the car. If I use the current set up I will need to address that. (Update 2017, I scrapped the Buick stuff and used a 1995ish Ford Explorer front suspendion with the Ford CV axle shafts. To make the Ford axle shafts work I had to disassemble the tri-bearing assemblies and put the GM outer bearing ring over the Ford tri-bearing base. I need to just add a photo, lol. XI. The roll cage: I have 2” 1018 DOM waiting to be bent and welded in. (2017 Update: there will not be a cage, just a roll bar (with some extra bracing dependant on what is left over from scrap). The roll bar is bent and welded in. It's a bit crooked... bending tube perfectly is a skill! XII. Doors: The doors were cut in half horizontally. The bottom half will be welded to the frame and boxed. The upper door section will have reversed hinges to make suicide doors… maybe. I haven’t gotten that far. XIII. Brakes: The original plan is to use the ABS/Stability control. If I’m correct, the Buick used the Bosch 2U, four sensors, three channel system. Really want to use ABS and Stability control. I need to get smart on ABS/ESC. There is some work that is going on over at Mega Squirt to make a programmable ABS ECU. http://www.msgpio.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=11 (Update 2017... no ABS or Stability Control will be used). XIV. Bed cover: Not done, thinking canvas cover? Fire hazard? Sheet aluminum? XV. Seats: Not done. I’m considering making some. Basically making a foam bench seat that uses the truck floor and back as the seat floor and back by filling it with foam, covering it with plastic, form it to me by sitting in it, let it dry, and finish by shaping it pretty with a grinder. Safety issues anyone? XVI. Fuel injection: Mega Squirt. XVII. Transmission: 4T60E. Possible manual swap or paddle shift using Mega Shift. XVIII. Front Air dam: I’m using a fiberglass front air dam that I picked up at a lawn sale for $10 dollars. Pure luck, I was just driving by and saw it sitting in the lawn as everything was being moved back in the house. Score! XIX. Radiator: The radiator will be mounted in the front. XX. Paint: Once the truck has been driven for a bit and all work is signed off, the entire vehicle will be stripped bare, sandblasted, and everything painted. ... The following are old pictures still on my Photobucket account. The early pictures also show how crappy my welding was when I started. I just bought a welder and started learning as I went. <img src="#//s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_14-51-07_542.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286743272296.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-10diagonalView.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-10SideView.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-31Enginein.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-31_18-58-33_274.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664817122.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664718098.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664673155.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664777253.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286664690333.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286319634429.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286743975622.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286743992181.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1286744029710.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1307144150198.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/1307151782409.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-09_18-52-56_151.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-09_18-53-52_697.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-10_16-53-47_566.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-31_18-34-36_804.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-10-31_18-34-47_476.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_14-51-27_925.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_17-02-04_856.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_17-15-32_433.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_17-15-38_855.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_18-28-32_363.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_18-28-39_591.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_18-31-37_183.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-11-27_18-31-46_232.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2010-12-12_18-04-22_713.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2011-04-20_14-36-08_314.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2011-05-14_18-52-11_603.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/2011-05-14_Frontsuspension.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/AttachmentPoint.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/Cutoutfortank2011-04-23.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/Firstmating.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/frontradiatormounted2011-04-23.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/Frontsuspensionapart2011-04-20.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/Frontsuspensiontower.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/IMG00096-20100906-1812.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/IMG00136-20100923-1913.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/leftview2011-04-24.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/rearsteeringremoved2011-04-23.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s1160.photobucket.com/user/Busuzu/media/mini truck/rightviewtunnel2011-04-24.jpg.html][/URL]" />

MG Bryan
MG Bryan Dork
2/4/12 6:15 p.m.

Sounds like a cool project. What branch are you in?

You have to use another website to host the pictures. Then you cope the url of the picture, click the little camera above the box you type posts in, and paste the url there. Magic or programming or something else takes car of the rest.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/4/12 6:16 p.m.
If someone can tell me in simple terms how to attach pictures on here, I have hundreds.

You need to host them at an external site such as photobucket.com. Then copy the URL of the image, click the camera button above the post box, and paste the image URL in the box that pops up.

crisd New Reader
2/5/12 10:48 a.m.

I just dumped some pictures on photobucket http://s1160.photobucket.com/albums/q500/Busuzu/?start=all I didn't sort or edit it, I don't have time for that right now. I can't find the early pics, they may be lost forever :-(

Graefin10 Dork
2/5/12 11:12 a.m.

This sounds like a very interesting build. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures of the progress.

Are you certain you want to use ABS and Stability Control? I suppose it works for the average driver on the street but I'm not so sure about in autoX. IMO, with practice with a certain vehicle you can brake deeper without ABS and unless the system you're talking about is designed for a high performance car, street car stability control will probably slow you down. They got all that to work in F1 until it was banned due to the outrageous $$ the teams were spending on it but those systems were designed for racing not getting soccer mom and the kids to practice. I tried turning it on in my 01 Jetta and it kept applying the brakes in the turns which lost about 1.5 sec.

crisd New Reader
2/5/12 2:07 p.m.

Bryan, I'm in the Army. Evan, I put a bunch of pictures on Photobucket, when I have time I will edit the original post and add pics into the narrative. Graefin, What method were you using to tune your Jetta's ABS/ESC? As I learn more I think it is clear that the OEM ECU is not going to allow me to tune it for the track but I am hoping to get some more info on the Mega Squirt msgpio board that is possibly being worked on. If sensitivity adjuestments can be made, then it can be tuned. Otherwise I don't know how else you can use it.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
2/5/12 2:46 p.m.

Cool project. Badass avatar too... geez... I thought being a herk pilot put me in the top XX% of cool, but then, you're jumping out of my good airplane while I go back to the hotel (I'm in the Coast Guard, after all).

Regardless, I would think it would be really cool if you had a user configurable ABS system- obviously the OEMs are designed for non racers in mind and you might be able to get better results for a given condition.

crisd New Reader
2/6/12 8:02 p.m.

Hi Teh, yeah I've fallen out of a plane a time or thousand, lol. For a real rush, there is nothing like jumping into pure black darkness at 3AM :-) Jumping is fun... its the landings that suck though! Thanks for serving... even if you do live in the lap of luxury!

crisd New Reader
2/23/12 8:24 p.m.

Has any one done a paddle shift set up on their car... if so please send me a PM, thanks

Nashco SuperDork
2/23/12 9:55 p.m.

GM used the 3800SC with a "tapshift" (like a paddle shifter) and the 4T65e, if I recall correctly. Are you wanting to get the ECM (instead of megasquirt?) or are you more interested in the steering wheel/flappy paddle part?


Ranger50 Dork
2/24/12 7:10 a.m.

Why can't MegaShift be adapted? It already has been used on 4L60 and 80E's.....

crisd New Reader
2/24/12 2:35 p.m.

I'm exploring what I can use as the actual shift mechanism and where would be the optimal location to mount it. The second part of this question is, the OEM is cable operated, are people just using a solenoid mounted at the transmission to actuate the shifts? If so, which specific solenoid is being used, and where can it be sourced cheaply? How fast can the shifts be operated? I'm guessing a big (expensive?) solenoid is needed.

Being a 2012 Challenge vehicle... cheap is the name of the game. So I'm exploring my options. I have considered just making a large pencil sized stalk that sticks out from the dash to where my right hand would be the most, 2 o'clock position I'm guessing. It would have to be a three position switch, tapping up shifts up, tapping down would shift down. (Reverse would have to be activated with a seperate switch with the main one in neutral I'm guessing.) With this option I don't need to have a computer to make it all work, it only shifts manually by tapping. I'm just wondering if any one else has done this... cheaply, and if so, what did they use?

stan_d Dork
7/11/13 8:48 p.m.

When my brother and I put the 3800sc in the rear of the Toyota truck we used stock shifter flipped around backwards. We made some arms to lock the rear steer. The first idea didn't work so well just bolted some tubes to frame. Had enough movement you could see the rear tires turn from the sideline. The second involved tubes with hime joints on each end same length as center of lower control arm and same angel so now it only rear steers about 1\16 of an inch throughout entire suspension movement. At 4' from hub.

moparman76_69 Dork
7/11/13 9:22 p.m.

I don't know how it translates to the GM, but here goes.

Chrysler 41TEs used a cable shifter to shift PRNDL then you could shift down again into autostick and flick the shifter left or right for up and down. This was accomplished with micro switches to tell the ECM to shift. Chrysler put nannies in to force the trans to shift up at certain RPMs so you didn't have complete manual control. My plan was to use a stock shifter, but have a couple of paddles on the column that actuated the autostick shifts. I wanted to use megashift, but there is essentially zero support for the chrysler transmissions.

I'd ASSume that it'd be relatively easy to do with a GM trans and megashift as the entire project was based around the GM electronic trans.

Catatafish Reader
7/11/13 10:37 p.m.

Zombie thread guys

crisd New Reader
12/11/14 10:14 a.m.

Thread not dead Catatafish, just sleeping while I'm deployed... I'm tired of messing with the auto, going to trade it for a mtx.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/11/14 12:16 p.m.

thanks for serving!

crisd New Reader
12/11/14 5:32 p.m.

Thanks Angry Covair. If this next trip to go say hi to ISIS to politely negotiate their demise from Earth ends quickly enough I'd like to attend the 2015 GRM Competition. That being said, does anyone know what manual transmissions people are bolting to Series I Buick 3800s?

RealMiniDriver UltraDork
12/12/14 12:02 a.m.

F23, from 2000-2005 Cavalier/Sunfire/Grand Am/Alero. Has to be from the 2200 SFI, NOT the Ecoboost.

You could also look for an F40, from 2006-2007 G6 GT/P.

Also, you'll need a flywheel from a 3.8 Camaro, machined down to .840 thickness, I believe.

M030 Dork
12/12/14 3:31 a.m.

Iszuick P'iviera? I like your idea!

crisd New Reader
12/12/14 3:27 p.m.

Thanks RealMiniDriver. surfing on the web from here takes about three to five minutes to load each page. Doing internet searches from here takes hours. If anyone knows a direct link to someone who has already done this swap, I would appreciate it greatly.

Ranger50 PowerDork
12/12/14 3:39 p.m.


crisd New Reader
4/20/17 10:42 p.m.

OK... Busuzu is back on track, and I WILL be at the Challenge this year... probably. The engine is installed and... the suspension is done, finally. Now where was I?

chandlerGTi PowerDork
4/21/17 6:06 a.m.


minivan_racer UltraDork
4/21/17 6:30 a.m.
crisd wrote: Now where was I?

You were at the point where you started posting pictures

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