Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

I have two days left to get this thing drivable again, and I still have no idea why the narrowband is claiming lean.

I went to check and clean the MAF just in case. I thought I was on to something.

All that nasty stuff is the goo that's used to protect the circuit board ozzing out. Post clean test drive revealed a very stable and reactive measurment, but still running lean. I'll note this oozing MAF and plan to upgrade to an LT1 sensor but for now I don't think it's the problem at hand.

At this point I really don't have time to wait for 600 degree turbos to ccol down before removing the down pipe, so I was just as careful as I could be. I did accidentally graze the header though which was an odd sensation. it was cool to the touch. This ethanol may be doing it's job afterall.




I measured the hole at 1/2" with my small drill set. I don't have a full index or anything larger than 1/2" so I had to Amazon Prime a 33/64" and 17/32" drill bits. I'm pretty confident that 33/64" will do but I'm not taking any chances on wasting another day. While I was at it, I ordered an O2 bung. I need to get my spare wideband into this car and figure out if the narrowband is lying to me. I think the header would be very hot if the pistons were trying to go into meltdown mode.
To make a long story short the GN did not make it to Bowling Green. :(

To make a short story long I fought like hell all the way until about 9:00 Monday night. While waiting for Amazon to deliver some things, I started installing a wideband that I yanked from a car I sold last year. I didn't want it visible at all times, so I put it in a nifty little box that I could hide away in the glove box.




Then my drill bits showed up, and I was able to finish the wastegate.


Here goes nothing.


I was scrambling to get this stuff done so I never got a picture of the completed downpipe. When I thought I was in the home stretch, disaster struck. I was completely baffled. I just tried putting the little c-clip back on and the mushroom broke off!

After removing it the rest of the way, I filed the end a little so that you can see better. It looks like it wasn't my fault afterall. There must have been a bubble when Bowling Green Customs had this cast. There's barely anything holding it together!
I didn't quit though. I pulled the welder back out, buzzed a nub onto it, mini-filed a groove until my hands cramped, then filed some more.


Then I thought I was in the clear again. Nope. The turbo needed two more helicoils.

After all this and screwing up the o2 bung twice, I thought I'd never make it to this point.

I was finally able to go for a test drive. I was really hopeful at this point that I had fixed the fueling issue after finding a bad engine ground or the wideband would at least show me something I hadn't noticed before. I only got the latter. The car was for sure running lean, but it was also running very rich. It was doing that thing where the car falls flat on its face if I hold the throttle wide open for too long. When this happens, the wideband shows the car going so rich that it wants to die. (about 8:1) Finally, I captured this on the Powerlogger too.
I had finally hit the end of my luck. There was no way to get a MAF locally, and I was leaving the next day no matter what. I was thinking about risking it because it was possible that I could find a one at the Nats and my car was able to cruise on the interstate without any issue.
Excited to leave, I started packing a tool bag. When determining which wrench would fit the wastegate arm I learned that my weld was really bad!

So that was it. The car just didn't want to go to KY.

Now that I'm back I have a new attitude towards the car. Before the Nationals I was all about keeping the car relatively stock for ease of service and reliability. As you can see, that hasn't really worked out for me! I ordered an LT1 MAF and translator from Full Throttle, and I bought this thing of beauty in the pits.

This TA downpipe was never used. Supposedly the guy decided he wanted a 4" pipe before the engine even got running. Oh well! I'm still not exactly excited about converting to a remote wastegate, but I know they work better and should give me less grief. At $325, how could I say no? I also found a factory uncut but tarnished turbo shield for $25. Another steal! Given the price and condition I don't mind cutting it up. However, it should clean up pretty nicely with some WD-40 and lots of scuffing. More on that later.

Given that I spent several nights in the garage and my wife took care of the baby almost exclusively while we vacationed in KY, I think it's only fair that I take a break from the car for a while. She's a great wife for putting up with all this. Plus, I don't want want to rush anything. Yes, the engine is going to start getting modified again which I am very excited about, but I want to make sure that I continue to do the car justice. I'll have to build a new cold air intake and brackets for this MAF. The downpipe will also needs to be polished up a little and probably clear coated. We will get to all that once I get the swimming pool set-up and my wife gets a fair break from the baby!
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Believe it or not the car felt better and more consistent than it ever had. It wasn't faster, but definitely healthier. Since I was happier with the car, I tried to embrace it a little more. I liked that the air box was sturdy, but I wasn't about the lack of sound and performance.
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Yep, that's a center cap from a Thunderbird. :LOL: It works a lot better than the lower half of the airbox!
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I was losing interest in the smoothies partially because the car was so stock, but also because the offsets never fit my taste. They were stock wheel sized with no staggering. It was just wrong. I sold the wheels with roached tires on them, and drug these out of the basement.
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Once again, I was falling back in love with the car. It looked and ran so much better.
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Even my wife is obsessed!
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Cruise with the buddies.
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This is all the cliff notes of course. As you can tell, this car has been a bit of a wild ride for me and not always the fun kind! Next post will be about the more current situation.
Thant's great man! I love to hear these stories. Cheers!! Thanks for that!
I learned a little trick for tackling the warps in my header. It was pretty banana shaped when I bolted it to the head, but I torqued it down and heated the welds with a map torch for a few minutes. After letting it cool all the way down, I torched them again. Once it cooled again, I pulled the bolts out and the warps were almost gone. 👍 The belt sander will be able to handle the rest.

Since the headers were done until I could bring them to work, I shifted my focus over to my nasty timing cover. On a parts store run, I finally managed to pick up an engine degreaser that I like. At only $3.99/can, this stuff makes oil and loose paint fall right off. Best of all, I can actually use the whole can without losing pressure. CRC is losing my business because of that.
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Anyway, it looks like my oil pump has relatively normal wear.
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I think cleaning, packing with Vaseline, and sending it as-is with a new gasket will work just fine. Speaking of gaskets, I wish I had pictures of the mess I made removing the original timing cover gasket. I've never seen a paper gasket get so gross and tough to remove. I needed a surface prep pad for my die grinder to get it all off because the fresh razor blade was worthless. I'll clean the cover in the parts washer at work and see if I can get it powder coated satin black.

I'm probably going to skip powder coating a lot of parts like the intake and valve covers. I have a feeling that I'm not going to like the results, and having every piece done along with cleaning and masking is going to get incredibly expensive anyway. I'm just going to take care of the essentials. The timing cover needs it, and I don't think I'm going to get paint to stick anyway. The only dilemma now is figuring out how I'm going to get the tensioner to match everything around it because that has been driving me insane!! Does anybody have a used original one for sale or trade? I can't remember where I got this reproduction piece. It's almost brand new. I just hate the color.
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..pack with Vaseline?
I finally got enough of my back ordered parts to make progress on the car and immediately screwed up... Valve spring edition.
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I didn't bother to put the piston at TDC because I figured it would be fine under air pressure.... But I didn't have any. I had a brain fart and forgot to remove the valve core from my compression tester.

So here I am. I should have just pulled the engine at this point. :(
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Fel-Pro 9441PT head gaskets and a set of basic ARP head bolts are on the way. Since the heads are coming off anyway, I need to make a decision about the ports. I have no desire to port match the heads to my intake, but I know it's going to drive me nuts knowing how bad it is.
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I'm torn between just making a nice transition and replacing the intake with a stock one. This one has a failed heli-coil anyway, so I'm leaning toward the second one.

I'm still mad at myself for this stupid mistake though. I get to do a lot of surface cleaning tonight. Yay.
The old rope in the spark hole trick works if you stuff enough in there.