Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

Jon Early

Active Member
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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Jon Early

Active Member
The shopping list is growing fast. Harbor Freight is is desperate to get me back in the store so they sent me a 25% of any single item in the store without exceptions. I'm actually kinda upset because if the GN stayed together, I guarantee that I would be buying a Vulcan TIG welder today. Instead, I think I'm going to buy their blast cabinet. Yes, its a known cheap POS, but it's also known to still be a great value after upgrading things like the gun, light, seals, and window. I think it will be a nice addition to the basement work shop and help me immensely with getting through this project.

I got the timing cover cleaned up.
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I used a surface prep pad on my die grinder to remove the nastiest paper gasket I have ever seen. It was definitely original, and my razor blade wouldn't cut into it at all. Hopefully the prep pad wasn't too damaging to the gasket surface.
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I haven't figured out how the old rope seal retainer is supposed to come out yet, but I haven't given it a good look either. I have a modern rubber seal with the spring to replace all that.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to skip powder coating a lot of parts, but the timing cover is not included on the skip list. As you can see, the paint on it didn't hold up too well. :LOL: The chipped paint drove me crazy even though it's hardly visible when everything is put back together. I will ask the coaters on how they feel about doing the water pump, but I'm guessing that's a no go since it will have the seals in it? I don't know a bunch about the process if I'm being honest.

Also got my next upgrade part in the mail yesterday.
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Ditching the nylon gives me good piece of mind.

I also realized that I never posted pictures of the newly rebuilt and ceramic coated turbo.
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The compressor housing and bell are also going to need a coating because I'm not happy with the polished look. Something a little closer to natural aluminum would be nice.

Now I have questions for the board. What is everyone using for replacement rocker buttons? I've heard some people have problems with the junk from the part stores, but I've seen that TA sells buttons too. I don't think they would sell anything that they deem to be problematic. I figured I'd buy their buttons, oil pump booster plate, timing chain tensioner, and pump priming tool so that I'm not wasting their time with an $11 phone order. :LOL:
 

~JM~

Wrinkled Member
View attachment 389602

I haven't figured out how the old rope seal retainer is supposed to come out yet, but I haven't given it a good look either. I have a modern rubber seal with the spring to replace all that.
See those 4 staking marks around the seal retainer? I used a black marker to transfer location marks to the front so I could see the locations from the front of the cover. Turn the cover right side up & use a drift to gently tap the retainer out at the marks. If there is much resistance you may have to remove some material where staked. Mine tapped out fairly easily.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
See those 4 staking marks around the seal retainer? I used a black marker to transfer location marks to the front so I could see the locations from the front of the cover. Turn the cover right side up & use a drift to gently tap the retainer out at the marks. If there is much resistance you may have to remove some material where staked. Mine tapped out fairly easily.
Gotcha! Thanks
 

~JM~

Wrinkled Member
Take a look at these pics & compare to what your cover looks like. You may want to remove the tab on the camshaft sensor housing, prep the camshaft thrust surface for a thrust bearing & smooth out the oil passages. Read up on setting the correct clearance on your oil pump. Strong likelihood that the oil pump gasket you received may be too thick.

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Jon Early

Active Member
I took a pause on the GN. Parts were starting to get expensive and I had a lot more to buy. Plus, the parts that I was reusing were in need of a lot of labor intensive attention. There was one tool I always wanted that would make my parts look like new, and a deal I couldn't refuse.

I brought home a Hobo Freight blast cabinet. I did a lot of research before hand, so I'm well aware that I bought a heavy box of garbage. However, it was $170 with a coupon, and there really aren't any steps up in quality from other brands until you buy something pre-assembled for over $1000. That's just not in the cards, and I needed a different kind of project to play with for a bit anyway. With the help of youtube, I think I can make this pile of junk a handy device.

Unboxing immediately revealed a treat. Looks like the factory in china ran out of foam tape. :LOL:
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No worries! Just overlap a little. It'll be fiiiine. Not
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The sheet metal is cut and drilled with extreme precision as you can tell by the nice warps.
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I think some washers will do this a lot of good.
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The door seal isn't going to do a whole lot is it?
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The provided light isn't even worth installing, so I pitched it and got some LED undercabinet lights from Lowes to stick in there. Much better. Also enjoy my beautiful caulk job. The used tube exploded, so I just put it all on with my finger. I'll do the outside with a new tube so it's not quite as bad on the eyes. :LOL:
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I cut up the LED wiring so that I could still use the switch from the cabinet.
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More fitment problems
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The hopper is supposed to bolt to the bottom of the cabinet with this steel gasket ring thing.... I have no idea why, but I ommitted it. I honestly think it was to seal the corners because I saw no other practical purpose. It didn't fit anyway and the casulk would end up doing a better sealing job.
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Jon Early

Active Member
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The provided window is a bit of joke. There is a piece of glass that's supposed to go on top of this, but I think I'll be replacing the plastic part with some acrylic.
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The gasket for the window is also on the wrong side of the panel. Nice!

I made this contraption out of a bunch of used junk. The siphon tube that comes with the cabinet is junk. They get clogged up, and you'll be messing with it and trying to make it work more than actually blasting. This gravity/siphon hybrid deal will work much better.
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Here's the original siphon tube. Yikes.
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I have a bunch more work to go on this thing, but I'm looking forward to trying it out. After caulking all the outside seams, installing a window with stick-on liners, raising the height a little with casters, a new gun, and a dust deputy, I should still be into this project for less than half the price of the higher quality units. We'll see. It's also a lot of work to be doing while I have a car in pieces.
 
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Jon Early

Active Member
Hey cool! I have that cabnet, and I am going to now mod it like you did here. I want it to work!
It seems well worth the effort, but I still haven't tried it for myself yet. There are actually kits on ebay to do the same thing with the pick-up that I did, so it must be popular!

Another popular mod is building a cart for it to sit on.
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I don't necessarily care about moving it. In fact, I have a home for it where it's going to stay. However, mobility is never a bad thing, and the cart gave the cabinet a much needed few inches of height. I stand right at 6', but this cabinet is probably at the perfect height for somebody who's about 5' 5". I didn't want to be hunched over while blasting for hours. This looks like crap but whatever. This was all salvaged material anyway.

I also made a special manifold for the air.
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I thought it would be nice to include an air gun to blow parts off before opening the door, so there's an extra 1/4" hose. I also put the blast gun feed on a 90 in hopes of the hoses being in less of a bind. My methods slightly failed me here. I still like using the bulkheads, but they stiffened the suction hose to the point where it' difficult to move the gun how I want. I can put a QC on the air side, but that would not work on the media hose. I need to find a good swivel fitting that won't disrupt the media flow.

Another little mod I did was change the window hardware a bit for easy window changes. The bolts are just flipped upside down with the nuts jamming them into the metal. Now that the bolts are acting like studs, I can just undo my wing nuts and pull the windows off without going inside.
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I was lazy this weekend, but I'm in a bit of a stalemate until more parts show up or the blast cabinet is done. By the way, more parts ARE on the way. I talked with Mike at Full Throttle who set me up with Comp 980s, Racetronix 450LPH pump, -6 return line, upgraded hotwire kit, tune saver, and an E85 chip! So long alky. I'll miss the cool LEDs at high boost, but I will not miss all the problems and extra stuff under the hood.

While I'm waiting for that stuff, I decided I'd throw the new timing set on.
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I'm glad I take pictures because I didn't notice the gaps between the gear and the chain until I started typing this post! I'm going to have to look into that because it doesn't look normal.

That install took all of five minutes, so I went back to the basement. My wife siliconed the exterior seams of the blast cabinet, and I finished the plumbing. The blow gun is installed and I added a little clamp for the air valve out of some junk from my orphan hardware and electrical stashes! This will keep the plumbing from moving and coming loose when I'm turning the air on and off.
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I hope that filling this thing with media and setting up the dust deputy is all that's left to do before blasting.

Questions for the crowd.
- Is there something wrong with my timing set?
- While I'm doing vale springs, should I replace the valve stem seals? Mine aren't leaking, but I figured the TA guys would set me straight when I talk to them.
- Should I replace the cam bumper? Again, I figured TA would let me know, but I wondered if it was best to leave it alone since my timing cover grooves matched to grooves on the bumper!
- Anybody here have blast media recommendations for a hobbyist? I don't really want to change it much if at all, so it would be nice to get one that's safe on all kinds of metals.

Thanks!
 

turbobuick

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Looks good, for media look at TPtools they sell a few different kinds and I just bought one to do my firewall and it worked really well. It should last awhile if you filter it every now and then.

Have you found the garagejournal.com forum yet? You may want to check that place out TONS of info and projects like your blast cabinet with many knowledgeable folks willing to help.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
I've been using 80 grit glass beads and seems to work well .
I like the idea of glass beads because it seems to pretty pretty gentle yet effective on aluminum. It's also not super dusty, but everything I'm reading says it's not reusable and needs to be swapped out regularly. Have you noticed quick loss of effectiveness with glass?
 

Jon Early

Active Member
Looks good, for media look at TPtools they sell a few different kinds and I just bought one to do my firewall and it worked really well. It should last awhile if you filter it every now and then.

Have you found the garagejournal.com forum yet? You may want to check that place out TONS of info and projects like your blast cabinet with many knowledgeable folks willing to help.
I'm going to turn to them soon. I have an account there, but rarely post.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
I made some big progress last night, and my feelings about it are very strong. I'll try to write this as nicely as possible in hopes of not ruffling too many feathers. :LOL:

The Alky system is finally removed. I will credit the manufacturer a little because mine was installed particularly poorly. However, I tried to give it a little pizazz a few years ago when I replaced the pump and gave up when I got to the electrical portion. It was a lost cause IMO. Without spending a ton of time fabricating custom brackets and building custom harnesses there was no way to install this thing to my standards. Good riddance.

I didn't have any before pictures, but the MAP sensor was tapped by wrapping one wire around the other and electrical taping around it. 🤦‍♂️ I unwrapped, cut, soldered, and shrunk the wires like you see below and taped it back up. It looks as good as new now!
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This attempt at prettying up the harness was not too good, and the butchered firewall grommet wasn't doing it any favors.
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This explains why my low fuel light didn't come on when the alky tank went dry!
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My progressive LED was in the gauge pod, so I had to tear that mess apart.
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Why the installer didn't just commit to hacking the pillar trim is beyond me. That tiny slot made things way too difficult.

Much better!
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I didn't realize that the low fuel light for alky was a whole other LED.... weird. It was no longer in its housing anyway, so if the wiring was working, the light wasn't visible.
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Interesting bulb wiring
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Who would've thought that the kick panel would stop sagging so much after removing a few pounds of wire and brain box? I put the support brace back in anyway. Maybe the panel will take on its old shape over time.
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It's very unlike me to remove a quirky factory option, but I was not about this one. My car has the K05 block heater option. It was a daily driven WI car after all! However, it's worthless now. The floppy extension cord being all coiled up and caked in oil looked really silly.
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I just popped the cord off and left the element. Mine isn't leaking, and I don't expect it to start. I will pull the starter and do a deep cleaning round there though. Nasty!
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Around this point I was ready for bed. I wasn't going to crawl around on the floor anymore, but I saw something very concerning as I began to walk away.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
This was hanging out in the valley! :oops:
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It took me a while to figure out what it was, but I finally remembered that the turbo blew pretty spectacularly and drains into the valley. The ID of this part is the same as the turbo shaft size, so I think I found a chunk of journal bearing! Wild.

I'm sure there are more parts in the pan that I won't be interested in sending through my oil pump, so I'll try to flush the pan with a couple gallons of cheap oil.
 

LANDAU LIMITED

Active Member
Why don't you pull the pan off? I don't think you'll flush out much with the way the drain plug is. I found turbo parts in my pan also. While you're in there you can change the rear seal also.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
Why don't you pull the pan off? I don't think you'll flush out much with the way the drain plug is. I found turbo parts in my pan also. While you're in there you can change the rear seal also.
Judging by your rear main seal comment, I'm guessing a pan gasket is an engine out service. That wouldn't be worth the effort IMO. If I was going to suck a piece of turbo through the oil pump, it would have happened on my hour drive home from the scene. If the pan can be removed with the engine in place, I'd consider doing that.

My rear main isn't a leaker anyway. I assume it was done when the previous owner had the transmission rebuilt.

Alky system is for sale if anyone is interested. I just haven't made an ad yet.
 
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