Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

Buick turbo cars. You love them when they're running great and when they're not you hate them. That's the life of the Buick. Enjoy the ride!!
Nice story we can all relate to. And the 2022 nationals were a huge success. Get the car back on the road and we'll see you there in 2023
I didn't see any point in wasting time. I had to get over the fear of taking "the good car" apart. Plus, I always said that I would just start the process of making this car what I always wanted if I blew it up. Blowing the turbo counts right? The more I dug in, the less scared I was of ruining anything. It seems like weather, time, and neglected oil leaks did a good job of doing that all in their own.

Fun discovery number 1: I've been missing one of the most critical downpipe fasteners for who knows how long. The bottom nut was missing which caused a big leak. I always thought I had one there, but I was never able to feel it.


By the way, did I mention that this car has a Bowling Green Customs downpipe? It's one of my favorite aftermarket parts on this car. Although, I'm sure it doesn't flow nearly as well as one of the modern single piece pipes, I really appreciate that It doesn't require any cutting of the turbo shield. It's also going to be nice if/when the wastegate has to be serviced. Speaking of which, it needs to be serviced now! That sucker was stuck.
I let the shaft soak in PB over night, worked it's motion for about 15 minutes, brake cleaned, then smeared on some antiseize. Since antiseize is slightly abrasive, it was able to work out more of the corrosion that the PB couldn't.
After that second video I spayed it with brake cleaner, worked it some more, sprayed more PB blaster and it feels as good as new. The puck will travel it's full motion with gravity only.

It didn't take me long to find a turbo that I wanted to buy. I ended up buying a TA49 from a member here that needed some work but nearly as much as my stock unit requires. As soon as I got it, I packed it back up, and sent it to Boost Lab for a rebuild and ceramic coating. However, I can't let this all be that easy. Will a new turbo and functional wastegate do a lot of good? Yes, but look at all that rust and grime. I'm kind of ashamed to say that I let the car get this way, so I figured now may be the time to get a whole bunch of stuff powder and ceramic coated while I'm taking things apart and resealing. I just haven't quite decided how far I want to go with that.

Last night I took the plenum off knowing that I wanted to get a power plate at the minimum. I may even get it and the stock throttle body ported. I wish Steve Monroe was still doing that work because a 65mm polished Acufab seems to be the only other option. I don't think a polished body is going to look too great. Then again, I could probably have it powder coated as well.

Huh. This is a new one for me. Springs in the radiator hose? Is this how hoses used to be reinforced?

Another good reason to dig in. The powermaster leaks weren't apparent at the time of removal, but now that the undercoating has dissolved...


This will not be a frame-off restoration. If I had about double the space and a couple lifts I'd do it, but not today. Brake cleaner and rust encapsulator will have to do for now.

When your downpipe is seized to the test pipe, you don't have a lift, and the only way to get the thing out is to do the g-body shuffle.


Buick turbo cars. You love them when they're running great and when they're not you hate them. That's the life of the Buick. Enjoy the ride!!
Nice story we can all relate to. And the 2022 nationals were a huge success. Get the car back on the road and we'll see you there in 2023
Absolutely! I'll be there one way or another. The hope is for the wife to drive this one and I'll take the Camaro. I just need to figure out where to draw the line so that I don't spend a ridiculous amount of money or bite off more than I can chew. If I get a chance to squeeze some more posts in tomorrow, I'll probably have some E85 questions. I have to get rid of this janky alky system, and I have some hand me down 80#s from the 3800 I can use. I just don't know if it's worth the added cost and complexity of an SD2 and Flex Fuel sensor.

As you can see, I got the crossover, downpipe, and passenger side header out. If I have time tonight, I'll try to get the accessories removed and driver side header off. All of those will get ceramic coated. I'm thinking about splitting the alternator case so that it can get powder coated with the rest of the aluminum parts. Has anybody powder coated their aluminum so that it just looks like clean bare aluminum? I'd like to see how it turned out.

I am also interested in ditching the alky system in favor of E85. I've been running straight E85 in my Camaro with an unsealed fuel system without issues for a few years, but that car has a plastic tank. I slightly worried that as much as the GN sits around the ethanol will soak up water and rust my tank. I'll plan to run a stainless hanger with an E85 safe pump, 80# injectors, and teflon lines. Beyond that, do I have much to worry about? I've never bothered to flush my lines or rails out in the Camaro knowing that it's going to sit for several months. The injectors always looked clean upon removal too. 🤷‍♂️

Keeping in mind that I don't drive my car much and have tons of E85 stations here in the Midwest, is it worth all the extra money and hassle for a flex sensor? Looking on Turbo Tweak's, website, it doesn't even look like the SD2 is available anymore, and the GNECU seems like extreme overkill for such a basic build. I'm really only looking for about 400-450whp.

I'd say you're all up to date now. I'll try to list all the mechanical specs so far.
-Racetronix 255 pump and hanger (not sure if I should go bigger or not) with hotwire
-Accufab adjustable FPR
-42# injectors (will swap to 80#)
-Alky Control system
-Turbo Tweak 5.7 Alky chip (23-24* and 20-23psi)
-Scanmaster and power logger
-Rebuilt trans with 2200 stall converter (By who I'm not sure. I bought it this way.)
-TA49 turbo (on the way)
-Stock intercooler
-Stock MAF
-Stock valve springs as far as I know (still looking for advice)
-Bowling Green Customs downpipe, 3" test pipe, Kenne Bell exhaust (basically a Pypes)
-Front urethane bushings.
-Pinion snubber
-GNX style seat frame braces.

I think just getting everything sealed back up will do a lot of good, but that's going to involve a little more than it sounds. The headers are very rusty looking, and I won't be surprised if the driver side has a crack. Does anybody have a picture of what's supposed to get braced? I also got the wastegate puck moving freely again but, the puck itself is looking a little worse for wear. It's a bit pitted and not flat. Is that an issue I should be addressing or is it not going to make enough difference?

Thank you all for reading! I'll be sure to keep updating as I make progress on this roller coaster of a project.
Nice thread, reminds me of all my whoa's 25 years ago :cool:
slowly but surely...




I started to feel pretty overwhelmed when I got to this point, but I soon realized that if this was the Camaro, I'd be here in about an hour. I'm learning a lot. The way these cars are built is really dumb in my opinion, but at least I'm able to start mapping it out.

While I completely expected to find cracks, I hadn't really thought about how to fix them.
header cracks 10-22.jpg

I'm thinking I'll just run a groove along the cracks with my carbide bit, and have my welder TIG them, but I am not sure how people brace it. Do you just cut a piece of sheet steel to web those two runners together?

These compressors sure do get in the way.

After this frustrating disassembly process I'm considering a slightly new approach to the reassembly. I've found enough leaks to be pretty content with just those repairs being done, but I always try to leave things better than I found them. The disassembly process was also a bit maddening despite being pretty stock, so I might simply a few things just in the name of serviceability. I'm still going to get all the aluminum parts powder coated and the hot parts ceramic coated. The EGR and charcoal canister may get deleted just so that they are out of the way, and the turbo drain might get converted to AN. I'm not a fan of the original design.

The biggest dilemma right now is that I don't know what to do about the rusty bolts. I think treating them with a wire wheel, some naval jelly, and paint is going to ensure that I get the colors I want. However, I've never had great luck with painting bolts in terms of longevity. Paint always seems to want to flake off and the rust comes back very quickly. I was considering zinc plating because I think it will last longer, but the idea of all the bolts being goldish after throwing them all into a bucket is not sitting well with me. I could always paint the heads after zinc, but how will I ever know which bolt goes where?! I could figure it out, but it would certainly take me even longer to reassemble.

I think the only thing left to do before I start fixing/prettying things up is strip the intake manifold down and remove the timing cover. I think an all-black timing cover, filter adapter, and water pump is going to be the most satisfying aesthetic repair because the flaking paint is giving it a noticeable dairy cow look when it's not covered in oil.
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Retain the charcoal canister & OEM turbo oil drain.

POR-15 & a pin brush for the bolts.

Replace the timing chain with a higher quality gear/chain set. Replace front seal.

Replace water pump while you are there.

The header should be bolted up to a head for welding repair or it will most likely warp. TA Performance has replacement headers (usually).
The timing cover, water & oil pump don't look bad once everything is cleaned up & the leaks have been resolved. Knock out the front seal & replace it with a better seal.

Remove the tab on the cam sensor housing when you have the timing cover off. This will provide clearance for the timing chain.

Remove the dimple where the camshaft thrust button contacts the cover & then install the spring & bearing arrangement. (can't recall correct name right now)

There are a few modifications to improve the oil passages & pump that you might also consider.


Cool thread, very happy to see some one posting who is younger than the car and on a forum none the less!!!

First piece of advice I can give is you certainly wont be TIG welding that header! Mig maybe but JM mentioned the TA stock replacement which a worth while investment IMO. The factory headers were not made with the greatest steel and cracked even when relatively new. They are now 35+ years old with how many heat cycles? If you can weld it yourself or have a buddy who works for PS IPAs I would try fixing it. If you are paying someone to weld it save your $$ and buy a better replacement.
The TA headers are the best option, but there are a lot of good welder's out there.

IF they know what they are dealing with........... Take that in to consideration.
I cleaned up, MIG welded, and braced the header myself. If I have issues down the road, I'll get the TA headers.
If you go the TA header route, consider buying the whole set. I bought the TA driver side after my cracked OEM header warped. Then the OEM crossover pipe wouldn't bolt up correctly so I had to buy the TA crossover. After paying shipping on two orders... I should've probably bought the whole kit.

RJC offers some nice pulleys: Pulleys Billet aluminum Razor, Executive and Limited Edition
I figured the lower one provided the most bang for the buck. Nice part!
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I can't see your link. I didn't know you could buy just one header. I would certainly just buy the whole set if these become an issue though.

I went ahead and bought a seemingly nice valve spring compressor.
I have the universal tool but since I still have stock springs with hushers, I knew I would need a vehicle specific tool. I've never gotten the universal one to work on anything anyway.

I have the timing cover gasket set along with a Cloyes HD timing set and other misc items on the way as well.
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Brian Bissonette "...many times and included the math for the cross section . I actually posted a video twice and a few months later deleted them because some still argued that x,y,z bullshit drain back worked on their car so it should work on anyones car
. It doesn’t help me knowing this so I figured let people find out the hard way. Sometimes that’s the best for them. The reality is the stock tube has the largest internal cross section which is especially important on the return that the LC2 uses which is a huge compromise because it’s flowing more sideways than downward. A -10 isn’t even close to the stock tube and will be a problem on most cars unless it has a restriction engineered into the cartridge. The most important area is the first few inches where the oil is aerated and foamed coming off the rotating group right at the transition from the bearing housing to the drain back. Gravity is the the only thing that takes the oil away and there’s nothing to positively seal the bearing housing/shaft on the exhaust side of a turbo. You constantly hear about “blowing” seals or some other crap. It’s a ductile iron ring like a piston ring. It won’t blow. It can easily be overwhelmed with oil backed up in the cartridge though. It’s not designed to seal any pressure. Just minimize cross talk from the exhaust to crank case and the crank case to the inlet side of the turbo. Some could get away with a -8 on a restricted setup. Some will fail with a -12 on a journal turbo."
I've had a couple people I trust say that Cloyes HD is good. Double roller is pretty overkill for my goals.

I'll stick with stock drain.