Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

Accessory bracket was cleaned and painted yesterday.

My buddy has an intercooler fan that's in much better shape than mine. I'm going to give that a shot, because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make paint stick to this hub. I also contacted a plating shop near me to see what they can do. I have a feeling that it's not possible with the plastic blades encasing the hub, but I don't know enough about the process to say..

So that's off and probably not going back on. Time to go ruin an intake manifold! Some of you all won't like it, but I'm very excited for the booster connection to be hidden.

Measure once, center punch twice! :ROFLMAO:






Now I'm ditching the TTA style ribbed billet block in favor of a smooth Regal style block. I've always disliked having a block of billet right on top of the engine too, so I'll probably blast the new one for texture, prime it, paint it, and hope it holds up. I think it would be nice for that to look a little more like a factory part.

I also got this today. :love:
I'm antsy to get my G-body Parts order fulfilled and shipped because they have the last parts I need to get the intake and oil pan installed permanenntly. I was hoping to get started on cleaning and repainting parts of the engine bay, but I got very distracted by the discovery of a cool website.

I really wanted to ditch some of the corroded stock and incorrect replaced hardware in favor of stainless steel stuff, but I refuse to replace the stock factory flange bolts with the insanely expensive bolt and washer kits. Washers on a car are extremely annoying to me, so I measured every bolt that I wanted to replace and specced replacements on They have a ton of flange bolt options along with with different finishes for cheaper than hardware store prices. I got a few of the oddball metric bolts that were replaced with crappy zinc coated bolts for some reason, the rusty throttle bracket bolts, rusty water pump pully bolts, and intercooler fan bolts all replaced with stainless flange heads. The bellhousing bolts and washers were replaced with grade 8 flange heads, and all of that cost me $50. I almost looked into replacing the timing cover bolts, but they're already installed and still look nice. I'll deal with those another time.
I made quite the mess yesterday.

I wasn't expecting to wash it down to bare metal!

I'm not going to say that I regret doing this, but I don't feel great about it either. Doing this correctly would involve pulling everything including the body off the frame and this isn't the time for that. I'm stopping here. Rust converter went on the surface rust, and I'll get some chassis paint to take care of the rest. It won't look as spotless under hear as I would like, but it will look better than I found it.

Speaking of spots....

:mad: At first I was ready to throw the whole thing away. Remember how I didn't want to paint stuff?! Then I remembered that these valve covers were pretty oxidized and that I never blasted them between cleaning and paint. I'll take the blame for this. At least it's just the valve covers. I discovered that after I started taking care of the polished compressor housing though. It looks neat in pictures, but it's actually really rough and not the look I was going for anyway, so...


The paint got runny this time so I had to scuff and try again.

I'll take that.

It certainly wasn't the most satisfying day in the garage, but progress is progress. I'd rather find these problems now than after the car is all back together. New brake booster and thermostat are on their way from Rockauto.
Looking good! You don't have to pull the whole thing apart to do the frame. If you take your time and clean and paint everything it'll look like you removed the body from the frame. Once done and you see the final results you'll be so glad you took the time to do all of this.
Looking good! You don't have to pull the whole thing apart to do the frame. If you take your time and clean and paint everything it'll look like you removed the body from the frame. Once done and you see the final results you'll be so glad you took the time to do all of this.
I guess I'm just a bit nervous about painting the frame with brake lines, wire harnesses, power steering, fender liners, and steering shaft in the way. It'll be tough to get it all coated nicely without getting overspray on them. I could remove all that, but that seems like a big snowball too.
I noticed that my parts order through G-body Parts was set to be shipped from the Connersville location which is only an hour from my house. I got in touch and asked if I could just pick the stuff up. That turned out to be no issue, so I went up there right after work! I ended up sticking around for an hour and a half BSing with Brian about business, cars, and the new building. When I got home, I couldn't handle the anticipation. I had to install some parts!

I HATE installing these dang grommets. Grinding down the casting flash helped a lot, but I don't see how it's possible to get these fully seated without pulling the intake off. I thought my old one was seated, but pulling the old intake off revealed that the bottom lip was all wadded up. A long punch and a screwdriver got this one where it's supposed to be.

Then I flipped the engine over for the last time.

Cut the timing cover seals flush and sealed up the gaskets.

Finally! Cometic oil pan gasket installed.

With my TA oil priming tool, a gallon of cheap oil, and packed pump, I saw 40psi with the drill! I continued holding it until I saw a little oil come out of one of the rockers.

Today, a whole bunch of goodies are supposed to arrive. March pulley set, thermostat, brake booster, and a bunch of bolts should be on my steps very soon!
The pump pumps up to 65psi with my drill. Nice! However, I can pump that thing until my drill runs out of battery and oil never seems to seep out of the rockers. What's up with that? I've been told by a couple people not to worry about it, but I expected to see a little trickle.

Oh well I guess. On to the next disappointment. My March pully set arrived.

Nowhere on Summit's website did it say anything about this being an underdrive kit, and this is clearly pretty extreme! Plus, I am thoroughly unimpressed with the already chipping anodizing. Needless to say, I'll be returning this. I just saw that RJC sells a similar stock looking (and sized) crank pulley that should suit me, but I'm going to try fixing one of my stripped ones first. I think I can get away with slightly bigger threads and bolts.

My RockAuto order also arrived, so I got my dual diaphragm booster and a lifetime supply of 180* high flow thermostats. lol I love how all the clean and pretty parts look!

It also makes rough ones look worse. I almost bolted the plenum and power plate down permanently, but light caught it just right and I had to reconsider. I had a hard time capturing this issue, but here's the best pic I could take.

Why is it so dinged up?! It looks like somebody used this thing as an anvil or something. Even after the nice paint job, I had to fix this. I got some files and went to town.


These were deeper than expected.

I'm going to have to re-blast this and repaint, but I'm happy I took the extra time to fix that.
I went on a beach vacation for a week in Punta Cana and getting back to reality has been a very slow process. Luckily, I forced myself into the garage yesterday and remembered what I was working toward! Looking back, I can see that this thread needs to be updated up to the day that I left. Let's get up to speed.

A couple packages showed up. One is the remanufactured dual-diaphragm booster from Rock Auto. I am way more excited about this than most people would. This has an entire extra muffler packing in it, so I'm confident that this booster will at least be quieter than the one it replaces. I'm hopeful that the second diaphragm will also help with braking in low vacuum situations.

Whatever gray coating/plating that Cardone used was not going to fly with me though. The box actually made a nice paint stand.
Painted 1.jpg

After flipping the booster in the box, there was very little that needed to be painted on the bench. This booster turned out really nice.
Painted 2.jpg

Painted 3.jpg

Painted 4.jpg

I didn't install it though. I had bigger fish to fry because the second box to arrive was from G-body Parts! I could install my intake manifold! I went a bit against the grain here and used the rubber valley rails. I know most people hate them, but I haven't had the same leaky experiences. These actually fit a lot nicer than I'm used to as well. I just RTVd the corners and sent it home.



As you can see, the throttle body is on too. I was hoping I could get to rebuild and port it, but I saw that he's retired. I tried finding my own rebuild parts, but no such luck. I really didn't want to spend a bunch of money on the 65mm Accufab either. While playing with it on the stand I found the reason why mine was sticking. The stop was backed out. 🤦‍♂️ All I had to do was turn that screw in a little to make the throttle stop a hair before closed. Now it feels like butter. I'm really happy its fixed, but I sure feel dumb!

I also wanted to figure out why the PO installed the IAC with a bunch of teflon. I guess he didn't feel like replacing the gasket.

I'll order one of those soon.


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Also in my G-body Parts box was the new vacuum block. I always hate the booster hose hanging off the side. Moreso, I hated the ribbed look. Now that I have the intake fitting, I can justify replacing the block for a smooth one. First, I wanted it to not look like billet anymore. The old one stuck out like a sore thumb.

It took a couple tries to get it smooth.

I am super happy with the results! This is something that I never thought I'd get around to correcting, so it feels awesome to see my vision come to life.


If anybody wants the old one, let me know!

While I was thinking about it, I painted the line on the balancer. I'm sure I'll thank myself later.

I got a full refund from Summit for that March pulley kit, but I really didn't feel like buying another set. I decided to try fixing mine. I tapped the bolt holes bigger and found some bolts with heads that would still fit the void. Then it got paint of course.


Thank you Allen's Fasteners! I don't want to bash people out there trying to make a living, but the price for stainless bolt kits make me sick. I HATE replacing flange head bolts with socket heads and washers. It may sound like a silly complaint, but keeping track of all those washers is a pain for service and doesn't look right. Not to mention Allen's sells individual ARP bolts and nuts for pennies, so I now have ARP bolts to hold down my water pump pulley and a few other miscellaneous parts. Instead of buying a kit, I made my own. I highly recommend this place.

No more rusty throttle bracket, FPR, coil bracket, or heater pipe, or vacuum pipe bolts. The intercooler fan bolts also got upgraded simply because I didn't like the look of the stock ones, and I ditched the bellhousing bolts and washers for grade 8 flange bolts. All that cost me $55 which I think is a steal.
So that's every thing up until the trip. Yesterday I finally gained the courage to address the elephant in the room. The engine bay was a mess, and I wasn't sure how to go about fixing that without over-spraying everything to hell. After some evaluation, I realized that I could get away with masking a few simple parts, removing some others, and just spray the rest. I hate the "nobody will notice" attitude, but in this case, you won't be able to see it even if you're looking for it. As for the stuff I WILL see, it will look better with a fresh coat of paint anyway!

I removed the power steering pump and shaft. I'm debating swapping the shaft out for a Jeep shaft while its easy, but my original is still in good shape. I don't want to deal with picking one out of the yard, so If I can find a new one online I'll continue weighing my options.

I'm very unhappy with the fact that I broke my fender liner trying to pry it out. How on earth is anybody supposed to reach the bottom screws??
Hopefully it doesn't cause issues or aid in rusting my car out. For now, I need to address the rust that's already here. The leaky master cylinder did a number on my frame. ☹️

The screws I removed propped the liner out enough so that I could wire brush the frame and spray an encapsulator on it. Then I finished it with chassis paint.

I'm very happy with this! The car is going to look great! I would be a little more critical of how I sprayed the suspension, but it looks better than before, and it needs a rebuild anyway. I figure the paint will hold me over until I rip the A-arms out to blast them, repaint them, and rebush. That's for another time though.


This paint hardened like stone which is exactly what I hoped would happen. I'm very impressed. It's even trying to harden inside the steering box which is still full of fluid! Very impressive. For the most part, it didn't care that I still had some undried degreaser on the frame. A couple parts had to have the sticky parts wiped down with a rag and resprayed. Otherwise, this VHT roll bar spray is extremely resilient.

My buddies from the GSCA are coming to help drop the engine in on Saturday! I need to thrash on this thing.
I went under the car yesterday to finish painting the frame. That was not as satisfying of a job. The paint does not want to stick down there. No matter how much I degrease, and wipe, it stays wet and nasty on the underside. I also ran out of paint, so hopefully I find at least some areas that dried nicely when I come back with a new can.

Same story here.

I ran out of paint, but I should be able to put this back together soon.

I think running out of paint was a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I finally started making a list of all the little stuff I need like high temp JB weld for the EGR ports, o-rings for the various hose connections, ect.

On the other hand, I see how all this destruction is going and it's stressing me the hell out. Every bolt undone is the start of a small project of which I currently have a ton ongoing.

I made the potentially unwise decision to finally remove the AC compressor. The system was working fine which made this a tough call. However, I couldn't justify throwing that chipped/rusty thing back on the car with all the freshly painted parts and new hardware. It would have looked terrible, and it's a lot easier to remove and install now than later. I looked into other things I could do to increase AC performance while I was in there and make this discharge a lot more worthwhile. I decided to stick with a GM orifice tube for better performance in traffic. I don't think the Ford is right for me. However, I do think I sourced a condenser upgrade. The Spectra model is no longer sold. However, searching the part number alone seems to show that the same unit is being built by TruGrade with the same part number (7-4013). It's even being advertised with the same pictures, so I bought one from AutoZone. I'll be sure to compare it to stock when it arrives.

So I feel better about pulling the compressor off. I was happy that the car had AC, but not so much that I needed it to be on full blast all the time. At the same time, I'm not excited to be opening yet another can of worms. I only have about three months to get this car ready for a road trip! Who knows what's going to happen with this condenser upgrade? I have a theory. I almost guarantee that I notice how bad my original radiator looks and decide to ditch it as well for a Cold Case or something. At the very least, it will need a paint job. I might even discover a crusty core support that requires attention. Can of worms indeed!
Stress levels are going back down after yesterdays shopping and garage therapies. lol

I'm very happy to see that this radiator appears to need nothing more than a cleaning and paint job!
Radiator removed.jpg

I was also thrilled to see that my condenser looks like even worse of a performer than the ones I saw online. If the stock photos of the new one are correct, I should have more than double the amount of tubes which is great for cooling power. We'll find out soon.

Also great news is what I found under the radiator and condenser.
Solid core support 2.jpg

I'm so happy that a little soap and water is all I'll need down there! I'm going to clean up, repaint, and resticker the top plate, repaint the radiator, replace the condenser, and hopefully that will be it. Not needing to do any rust remediation or spend $1000 on a TA radiator is a massive relief! I hope this trend continues with the condenser being a great fit. The reviews seem to range from fits perfectly to rebending lines and cutting car.
Steering shaft is back in!

ARP crank pulley bolts. I'm still up in the air about using an intercooler fan. I'm not a believer, but I do think it's a quirky little feature that looks right on a car as stock as mine. I might just try to blast and paint one of my adapters and then run the nice fan I found on ebay. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.

Husek's modified D5 is in with a quart of fluid.

and best of all....


It was a big fight, but we finally got this thing wrestled in. The trick ended up being that the passenger mount had to come off. The dowels and driver side had to be bolted together first, then we slid the passenger side mount in place. Big thanks go to Kenny and Chris from the Indiana Chapter GSCA for helping out. I'd still be swearing at this if it weren't for their help.

With that out of the way I can start slamming all kinds of stuff together. My condenser showed up early, so I wanted to play with that first. My experience with it falls somewhere in the middle of the positive and negative reviews. Does it fit? Not at all. However, I was able to make it fit like a glove with tube benders and no modifications to the car itself.

Here's the offender. Other than being a much cheaper and lower quality part than stock the liquid line is not bent correctly which is goofy because the other one is fine. This needs to be fixed in order to clear the core support.

There. It clears, but as a consequence it's now way too long. I'll deal with that later.

I wanted to see if I could even mount it in the core support since the condenser core was about half the thickness and an inch shorter than stock. Sure enough, I absolutely could. The little mounting feet bend out as far as you desire. I'm not a fan of that design, but I don't see them fatiguing given the light weight they need to support.

Now back to this issue. It seems that this condenser is worth keeping around. Yes, I hate the quality. In those terms it's like ditching a perfectly good NOS brass radiator for a plastic tanked F-body piece. However, in terms of cooling, I have no doubt that this AutoZone condenser will cool far better. There is at least double the amount of surface area in this tiny package, so I have high hopes that the air will blow at least a few degrees colder.
Lucky for me, the liquid line is already in the shape of an "S" which means I can pretty much bend it by hand to meet up with the new condenser. That's exactly what I did.

Here it is all mocked up. I'm going to pull it out to spritz a very light coat of black paint on the front. I don't want to harm the cooling characteristics of the fins, but I don't want shiny aluminum popping through the grill either.

While I have it out, my buddy is sending me a few sheets of sound deadener. I love and hate my GNS radiator box-in kit. I certainly could not ask for a nicer fit, but I have always hated how much it rattled when I shut the hood.

This cleaned up much better than expected!

I also finally found the header paint I was looking for! I don't know why nobody seems to be stocking cast iron colored header paint, but I think it looks really nice! I'm glad I was patient because I almost just went with black. It would have looked fine but not the way I wanted.

While waiting for things to dry, I carried on with other little projects.


Firewall is ready for the new booster, but I need a new gasket to arrive from Mike's Montes. I'm not looking forward to figuring out how to get the new pin on the pedal while bending myself backwards again.

Chip time!

I don't remember asking for more boost but it appears that I'm going to get it! :cool: Can't wait. If anybody wants the alky chip and 42# injectors they are for sale here on the board.

I was super satisfied to have finally figured out what that little yellow zinc coated bar on the firewall was for! Since I had bought the car it was being used a hold down for the firewall grommet because it wouldn't pop in with all the alky wiring. With the booster gone, I could see the dangling harness clip and everything became obvious. Being able to pop the grommet in was the perfect cherry on top.
Grand finale on the next post due to image limit. I am so happy with the header paint color!
Headers installed.jpg

I still have a lot of things to figure out and work ahead, but it's coming together! Things I'm expecting to be a pain are running the fuel return hose, figuring out how the rats nest of wires are supposed to be routed, and yanking the Camaro out of storage so that I can rob it's EV1 80# injectors. I'll put the EV6s back in that one since it requires adapter harnesses regardless. Let's just hope that the full tank of E85 didn't go bad and clog/rust the injectors while it sat all winter. The Camaro has a vented tank so it could have taken in a lot of moisture.
Back to work.


The only prep I did here was compressed air. The remaining paint wasn't held on by much.


I have a new Harrison sticker among other things coming from Highway Stars. The new Four Seasons clutch kit is already here. I really hope that fixes my squeak because I'll be out of ideas if it doesn't.

I need to take a quick break from car progress to give you an update on the media blaster. I did buy it for this project afterall! The Hobo Freight gun is already toast. Shocker! The trigger valve got jammed and wouldn't release, so it was trying to blast any time the air was turned on. I probably could have fixed it, but these guns are garbage in too many other ways for me to waste the time. I bought a new one from Northern Tool.

It wasn't off to a great start when it arrived though. As soon as I opened the package, the roll pin fell right out and allowed the trigger to fall off. Wow. Nice. The gun body was drilled too big for the pin. I tried to spread the roll pin a bit so that it would catch, but I ended up accidentally flinging it across the basement. I never saw it again. R.I.P. Then I was forced to dig through my hardware and get creative. I found a super skinny bolt that would work.


I'd say that's even better than the roll pin, but man. I am TIRED of every task becoming a small project in this house! :LOL: Once I finally got the blaster up and running again I was actually happy that the old gun failed as quickly as it did. This Northern Tool unit puts the old one to shame. It does draw a lot more air though.

Back to cars. I made some dust caps for the Powermaster connectors.

Since I could blast again, I took care of some more brackets. I also got a new GM accumulator. Last time around, I opted to pay the $100 for a powdercoated accumulator from Kirbans, but I didn't want tot do it again. I'm better at painting now! The condenser also got a light coat of paint on the front and lines. I didn't want to see shiny stuff through the grille even if it took a slight hit on efficiency.

While the front end was apart I had a good view of the GNS radiator box kit, and it reminded me of all the awful rattles it made when the hood was shut. My buddy Kenny came through for me and sent me some sound deadener.

All three sides have are tamed now. I'm confident that this will help a lot, but I'm not sure if it will be fully cured. If not some adjustments to the hood latch so that I don't need to shut it so hard will certainly make the noise stop.

I think I'm in the home stretch of getting this car back together! There aren't whole lot of big hurdles left.
Installing the new compressor clutch.



Set the clearance to .030


Looks pretty good, right? Too bad the magnet was clocked about 10 degrees too close to one of the bolt holes which didn't allow for the Y bracket to be installed. :mad: I took it all apart, scratched up the new paint, and spent about a half hour trying to get new paint to stick. Primer ended up being the ticket which is odd. I've never needed it for this stuff. Let's just hope I don't have to do it again!

I didn't get any pictures of the process, but most of us know how it goes anyway. The new firewall gasket arrived from Mike's Montes, so I was able to install the new booster.

New hose routing. By the way, that's 5/16" hose as opposed to 11/32". Nobody locally seems to carry 11/32" anymore which means installing this smaller hose was a real chore. I tried freezing the booster check valve and heating the hose which did nothing. Drilling the hose bigger internally worked like a charm.

I'm getting antsy. I really want my injectors and fuel pump so that I can install the return hose. Once that hose is in there, I don't think anything else is holding me back from putting everything together.