1984 T Type build thread (fabrication based)


Jul 10, 2017
I'll be posting pictures and progress on my t type over the 4 day weekend I have coming up here. The story on the car is that it sat for a couple decades after the original owner passed away and his wife just kept it hidden away. Finally, she was ready to part with it and drug it out and slapped a sign on it. The guy I bought it from saw it and had to have it, so he bought it and trailered it home. He changed the oil and coolant, and did the trans filter and fluid as well. When he fired it up, it started smoking bad and he's not really a mechanic and didn't feel like putting in the effort to figure it out. Everyone was telling him the turbo was probably shot, and he priced out turbos (installed) and decided he'd rather have my C4 Vette after seeing it on CL. So he texts me a trade offer for the Buick and sends some pictures over. He said the car had 41K original miles (which I doubted) and it smoked bad, and people were telling him it was the turbo. Well, I've had turbo cars before, and I can rebuild turbos, so I figured it was worth it to check it out. He trailered the car to my place and as soon as I saw it in person, I knew I was gonna take it off his hands. The interior is MINT! no wear on the seats, pedals or armrests, so I figure it's a legit 41/k mile car. Well, the battery is dead and it won't take a jump, but it does turn over, just not fast enough to start it. We did the deal and the pain in my a$$ Vette is gone, so I'm happy. I got a new battery for it and fired it up. Started a little hard, and idled rough but it smoothed out after a few seconds, so I figure I'm doing good. Well, then it starts smoking and I knew I was in for some crap. It was not smoking from the tailpipe, like a typical bad turbo seal would do, it was POURING smoke from the breather. That's some serious blowby, and almost no smoke at all from the tail pipe. I had initially suspected stuck or broken rings, but I figured I'd pull the oil pan and heads off to check out the bottom end before ordering any parts. Turns out, the 3 cylinders that had no compression (30-90 ish from worst to best, the other 3 were a solid 155) had the fire rings on the head gasket blow out into the lifter valley. The bottom end is still in super shape, and thankfully, there was no milkshake in the pan. The oil was dark for just being changed, because of the combustion gases, but no chunks or metallic particles or "glitter" I took all the grimy parts to work to give them a good cleaning, blasted what needed to be blasted, repainted the intake, refinished the valve covers and all that stuff while waiting for parts. Got the Victor Rienz OEM style head gaskets and ARP head bolts yesterday and bolted the heads back on and torqued them down, using permatex ultra copper to seal the threads and permatex spray copper in light coats on the head gaskets. The heads and block were really straight, thankfully. Less than .001" out, so I cleaned both surfaces up with 320 grit on a diamond ground flat block to make sure I was keeping it flat. The rest of my parts should be here tomorrow and I'll be posting progress pics of my front mount intercooler install and my external wastegate install, and my custom 3" downpipe. Oh, and yes, I did need to do some header repair, they were cracked in several spots. I suspect the culprit that killed the original head gaskets was a stuck wastegate. I pulled with everything I had and couldn't budge the actuator rod, so that's one reason I'm going with an external gate. Gonna be changing the layout a bit with the intake tract, and not going "draw through" throttle body. Hopefully the stock TB is up to the task of being in the charged side of the intake system..... I'll keep you posted!
OK, got some pics loaded onto the computer from my phone so here is round one...
the Buick in question.....


And the head gaskets I pulled out...

The grimy condition of the engine is pretty well summed up in this pic. Pushing oil out of the breather and dipstick tube made a big mess....


I had some repair work to do to the headers, and cleaned up the valve covers and intake manifold....


bottom end is good


welded on an elbow to the intercooler to clear the driver side bumper mount...


intercooler with elbow welded all mounted up...


heads back on and torqued down and headers are wrapped...



a glimpse of what the clean engine will look like.


cleaned up the turbo and wrapped the hot side. Also, I cut some flanges out of 1/4" thick 5053 Aluminum to mate to the turbo and the throttle body, since the throttle body will no longer be bolted right to the inlet of the turbo.


And cut a new hot side flange with waste gate block off out of 3/8" steel so I can use the external gate I bought. Yes, I know the hole is not centered over the turbine outlet, but it clears. I had the opportunity to bang this out during lunch and didn't have the outlet on my template that I brought to work, so I went big on the hole and guessed at the placement. Didn't do too bad, considering. This is going into 3 inch tubing, so the hole size is kind of irrelevant.



Here's the BOV and adjustable WG I'll be using...


and to get an idea of downpipe fitment...


cheap Amazon.com universal charge pipe kit...


Turbo in stock location, just spaced up a 1/4" and I had an old 3" Aluminum elbow sitting around from an old project years back. Cut it down and put a dimple in it to clear the turbo and oil drain tube. This will get welded right to the intake then reduced to 2.5 inches and welded to the other flange I made to bolt to the throttle body...


I did weld a short stub of 2.5 inch to the other flange and mocked it up to the throttle body, but it was getting dark out, and lighting in the barn sucks, and I didn't take a picture. I'll get a pic of that tomorrow and then work on it some more and give you the update.......
Had a bunch of other things come up this weekend, so i didn't get much done, unfortunately. But here's what I got before my welder crapped the bed. Fabrication progress from here out might be a bit slow, just because I have to take stuff into work to do on my lunch break until I get my welder fixed, or get a new one.

throttle body plenum all welded up and painted. Dimple marks are clearance dimples for the drain tube, compressor housing and fuel rail.



this is all that needed to be done to relocate the turbo to allow enough clearance for the TB plenum. spaced up a 1/4 inch and the drain line is still plenty long enough to reach it's grommet.


Throttle body bolted in place. You'll also notice I relocated the vacuum switches that are normally on the valve cover to make room for the new TB location.

I thought I had a pic with the turbo on and mocked up, clocked in the proper position, but apparently not. I have an extension tacked in place to couple the charge pipe onto the compressor outlet, but then the welder lost a leg and I'm down to less than half power, so I can't get enough amps for a good bead. Once the welder is fixed, I can weld that on, and put the turbo on for good and start fabbing the downpipe, and wastegate run, then onto the charge piping. Hopefully I get this remedied soon.
I was able to get the welder to at least "limp" enough to get the extension welded on the compressor outlet so I could mount the turbo for good. So I reinstalled the front accessory drive and components, hooked up the battery and test fired it. It runs good so far, now it's time to get the up pipe, wastegate, downpipe and charge piping in place. Then I can go for a shakedown run. Pics will come later.
And here is the turbo, back on for good. you'll notice the up pipe doesn't quite fit properly now that the turbo is spaced up. I cut about an inch away from the flange, and cut at the factory weld between the bends and rotated each a hair and re welded it.

up pipe not fitting...


And that is my general location for the wastegate. I dialed in where I wanted it, put the hole in the pipe and welded a coped pipe and flange to it. Wastegate is on...


And up pipe fits perfectly now...



And another pic of the clearance between the turbo housing and the new TB plenum. I had to limp the welder for the outlet extension, so it looks like crap, but it will hold. Once the charge pipe coupler is slid over and clamped down, it shouldn't be noticeable.


Next, I'll wrap the up pipe and install it for good and start fabrication of the 3" down pipe. I'll run the wastegate outlet to the downpipe too then, and wrap all that. I'm hoping I have the downpipe done some time on Saturday so I can start running charge pipe.
Got some time to get stuff done, so here's some more pics...

Some tubing tacked together for the down pipe. Wastegate merge started, and up pipe wrapped and final installation

V band for the mid point of the downpipe, because as we all know, it ain't going to work as one piece....

Top half of the downpipe welded...

And fitting up the wastegate dump...



All welded up and ready to wrap and install.

All wrapped up and installed for good...

In the midst of doing all this, I discovered a coolant leak at the thermostat and fixed that. Once I had all this wrapped and installed I fired it up to top off the coolant and she sounds good! I put my hand over the turbo outlet and gave her a little rev and the turbo sounds are what dreams are made of. Of course, with the inlet uncovered and my ear right there, it's gonna sound good, but I'm hoping it doesn't all get lost when the air filter tube is in place and the hood is closed. I nearly completed the bottom half of the down pipe, but not quite. Once that's done (hopefully after work one day this week) I'll use up the rest of the wrap I have on it and install it and start hitting the cold side tubing. That should go a lot quicker, since there won't be quite as much cutting and welding and there will be a bunch of coupled joints. Then it'll be time for a test drive!!! next weekend for sure it should see some road time. Gotta burn off all the residual PB Blaster and fingerprints and whatever smoking the wrap is gonna do.
I got a little time last night after work to finish up the downpipe after the V band clamp and tie it into the rest of the exhaust. I used up the last of my 50' of heat wrap on it, and it just happened to be enough to cover the pipe until it reached open air under the car. Perfect! I didn't take pictures, because there's really nothing to see, packed in where it is. I suppose I should have snapped a pic of the clamp location. The only way to access the clamp is jacking up the car and taking off the front passenger side wheel and going through the wheel well. Kind of a pain, but I don't think I'll be needing to remove that too often if at all, so it should be fine. The next opportunity I have to work on it should be Wednesday after work. I'll get started on the cold side then!
Well, started on the cold side tonight. Only got the air filter tube to turbo inlet done. I had planned on getting a few hours in today but, honestly, I got invited out to a local watering hole for wings and beer and I needed it, so..... pics will come soon.
OK, got a couple hours in last night.. Here we go

Here's the turbo inlet tube.

turbo outlet to intercooler run


from intercooler back to the TB...

BOV is in place...

charge pipe is now done with the exception of two weld joints close to the intercooler on either side.

And I had enough tube left over to make a run from the filter box to the turbo inlet tube...

I'm planning on pulling it all back out one last time to paint it all black. I'm not much for the polished look. Too hard to keep looking nice.
OK, people. Fabrication is complete, now starts the tuning phase. Finished it up this morning and tried to go for a test drive and the fuel pump crapped out. Tomorrow I'm picking up a new pump and filter, and I'm going to install my own version of a hotwire pump mod. My scan master should be here on Tuesday, and I'll install that as well. After I make sure it's running correctly with the stock tune, I'll order up the TT chip for 93 octane with the 42 lb injectors. I already ordered the '86-'87 ECM, so that should be here well before the chip and injectors.

and here is the final set of pics...... I'll post a link to the next thread once I start tuning it, but this will be it for the fab portion. Hope you all enjoyed it!

out of the fmic and through the headlight access hole in the rad support...

through the rad support right by the battery and to the fmic....

charge pipes all painted up and final install!

I'll keep you posted in a new thread once I get it going......
Shoulda just bought a intercooled car ,hot airs suck. Great fab work!
I was in the market for a '64 Riviera, lol. I ended up with this out of dumb luck. I wouldn't have bought a TR if it wasn't for the trade offer I got on my turd Corvette. So far this is running well. In about a week or so, my new injectors and TT chip should be here.
I'll try and find them or go take some. It's not nearly as clean as yours.
sweet! My turbo will be the only thing holding me back now. Eventually I want to go with a BB turbo only slightly bigger than stock. I want it to spool fast, and the stock turbo is laggy right from new. Ancient wheel designs by today's standards.