Never meet your heroes! '86 Grand National

Jon Early

Active Member
I found these head porting stands in a scrap pile. They made lapping valves and assembly, disassembly a lot easier!
1673282205023.png

This head is all set for paint. Here was leaking valve. Looks like I just dislodged some EGR gunk which got stuck when I removed the rocker shafts.
1673282284587.png

I paid extra attention to the EGR passages and got as much junk as I could out with brushes, picks, and degreaser. They aren't perfectly clean, but there's certainly less to get dislodged.

The original "FCA" head sticker is finally meeting it's end.
1673284206814.png

H&R poly mounts for the engine, trans, and crossmember and 20 bolt oil pan gasket are ordered. Now that TA is back open I should make a call to them this afternoon. I'm excited to see things going the other direction! I can already tell that this car is going to be a lot nicer when I'm done.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
I quickly painted and installed the heads so that I would stop messing with them. Now I'll have to justify wasting brand new head gaskets if I want to pull them off again.
1674132708772.png

After that I was kind of unsure of what to do next because I needed more parts to show up. I figured I'd pull the old Powermaster box out and see if the parts unit I bought was worthwhile.

I'm not sure if I had mentioned any of this in previous posts, so I'm sorry if I'm repeating anything. The master cylinder was rebuilt back when I could still buy that seal kit and the accumulator was nearly brand new. Right before I did the one night vacuum conversion I diagnosed the issue as the pump being worn out. The motor ran continuously and and the brakes were iffy. When I rigged a pressure gauge in with the switch, I found that there wasn't nearly enough pressure to turn off the switch. FAIL #1

Maybe a year or two later I figured it was worth trying to find a pump and motor that was still functional. For what it's worth, I've hated everything about my vacuum brakes since the day I did the conversion. The booster is noisy, I can't hold the car on the line, it looks dumb under the hood, and I just miss having that conversation piece. When I came across an ad for a $75 complete unit in unknown condition, I snagged it fast. This was a steal considering cores were worth $125 at the time. I robbed the EH pump off that, installed it on my unit, and then let it sit for another few years because I had bigger fish to fry despite my complaints. Let's be real, the vacuum booster will always work.

I know you all will read this thinking I'm insane for wanting to remove a vacuum conversion for a Powermaster, but I'm hard-headed and enjoy tinkering. I cleaned up some of the bracketry, scuffed off the rust on the motor, and slapped it back together. Satisfied with the appearance, I decided to finally fill the thing up with fluid and finally use the bench testing equipment I made.
1674133789998.png


I even caught the first power up on video so that you can point and laugh at me.

It's pretty obvious that there is something wrong with the motor on this one. I would have tried pairing this pump with my old motor, but I foolishly took the old motor apart years ago and broke some things in the process. My analysis concluded that these motors are not exactly serviceable for a guy in his garage. It doesn't mean I didn't try though! Here are my brushes being held in by a couple wires while I attempt to install the body and armature.
1674135463964.png

This trick helped, but the permanent magnets on the body are always trying to suck in the armature. After fiddling with this for a while I made a new discovery that kind of sealed the fate of my future with Powermasters. That little bushing that the the armature rides in had come loose which in my mind means I wouldn't have seen a very long life from this motor. The armature would have likely dug into the body, seized up, and caused a power brake failure. Quick research shows that all the Powermaster motors are getting to the age where they need to be rebuilt if they haven't already, and I'm not okay with paying Kirban/Castle $1500 for a complete unit when all I need is a good motor/pump.

In conclusion, I'm satisfied. I'm accepting failure as an option here which is kind of a win in a roundabout way. While there is a respectfully priced EH assembly from a rebuilt Powermaster for sale on Cotton's ebay, I think I'm going to pass on it. As much as I like the idea of having a Powermaster back in my car, complete rebuilds of the EH assembly appears to not be a standard practice in remans. In my mind, this means that even a $1500 reman is a crapshoot since it could have been good on arrival. I've seen, heard, and learned enough about these to be a bit cautious. No thanks. I'm going to try hotrodding the vacuum setup instead.

ANYWAY. That was a fun little experiment. Moving on...

Last weekend, I made a trip to see my family in the Chicago area and picked up another major piece for my rebuild.
1674137970747.png


1674138006574.png
I'll first to say, "MAN is that ugly!" The busted heater line bolt boss kind of sucks too, but I think I did a good job here overall. The cool seller sold me everything you see here for $150. I degreased it as best as I could, dried it off, and blasted it with aluminum oxide for a few minutes. Surprisingly, that gross tan stuff did not all come off, but I intended to paint it regardless.
1674138310196.png

The main purpose of buying this is to put my original intake aside until I sell it because it's ported and I don't need that or I buy ported heads because I'm nuts. However, the big ports on my intake going into the stock heads was probably WORSE for performance than leaving it alone. Turbulence is not just for planes! A stock intake is the easiest fix.
1674139652585.png

My machinist buddy is baking the intake, building up some weld on the heater pipe bolt boss, re-tapping it, and milling off the EGR tower. Once I get it back, I am debating the idea of drilling a hole directly under the back plenum bolt so that I can run my booster hose back there instead. At least then my complaints about looks will be addressed.

Yesterday, I got my order from TA. It was a breath of fresh air to finally get a complete order in one package in a timely manner. Rocker shaft rebuild time!
1674139076301.png

It took me a bit to figure out how to install the new buttons, but it was a piece of cake after that.
1674139216658.png

New pick-up installed.
1674139248267.png

Tonight I think I'm going to remove the remaining paint from the timing cover, bolt it to the bock as shown above, and figure out the oil pump rebuild and booster plate. If I make good enough progress, I might even install it permanently with a fresh coat of paint. I'm still waiting on my oil pan gasket to arrive from Full Throttle, but I suspect that it will arrive with the poly mounts I ordered with it which are currently back ordered. The waiting game continues!
 

Jon Early

Active Member
I took the measurements that the TA recommends before installing the booster plate. I'm not replacing gears, and everything looks good. Therefore, the clearance checked out as expected.
1674217715307.png

1674217858010.png

Primed with petroleum jelly.
1674217868196.png

1674217880176.png

I think it's finally time to tape this thing up. I was going to blast these parts first, but decided against it. There are too many places for media to get stuck where I can't see it which doesn't sit well with me. I'd hate to send sand through my oiling system!

I think I failed to mention the part where I replaced the rope seal with the modern viton seal, but yeah. That happened too!
 

Jon Early

Active Member
1674477298881.png

1674477310868.png

1674477320634.png

1674477338494.png

1674477352011.png

It was satisfying to see some solid progress on the stand this weekend. Cleaned/painted starter, new HR parts poly mounts, cleaned/painted timing cover, cleaned crank sensor, and new/painted AC Delco water pump are all torqued down!

Now I'm in a bit of a pickle because I know that my next move has potential to drive myself crazy. I was going to blast and paint the valve covers because I'm not sure if the new intake manifold is going to clean up as nicely as I would like it. What I didn't consider is the that the accessory bracket, alternator, and belt tensioner will also need to match. The alternator and tensioner will be time consuming to get painted nicely, and bare aluminum (when actually clean and stock) is preferred anyway. I say stock because my reproduction belt tensioner kind of makes my eyelid quiver.
1674478206850.png

This mismatch is incredibly annoying to me. I might have to do some experimentation with blasting a small inconspicuous spot on the tensioner. Just dulling down the factory shine might be enough to make me happy, but the media I'm using seems to brighten cast aluminum up as well. Whenever I get my intake manifold back from the machinist at work, I will be curious to see if it even needs to be painted. He said he would bake it before welding which might release whatever it is that's giving it a tan color.

Luckily I have lots of time to worry about that. Right now I need to focus on getting this engine into to the car which I can now say is 100% held up by my lack of oil pan gasket. I won't name any names, but I'm probably going to be switching my vendor of choice. I ordered another one from a more local vendor. Hopefully it's here in the next couple days so that I can prime the oil system and be ready for my buddies in the Indiana Chapter GSCA to help me drop this in on 2/25. I wouldn't be worried about this at all if the engine bay was already cleaned up and I wasn't going on vacation for a week. To make matters even more difficult, I somehow need to clean up this garage so that three people can walk in here!
 

Jon Early

Active Member
I got my intake back yesterday!
1674659748660.png

1674659764114.png

1674659798703.png

As you can see, baking the parts did not remove whatever tan stuff is on the intake. I cleaned the parts again in the parts washer to remove most of the soot and bought a couple cans of Duplicolor DE1650. If I like the look, I'll continue painting. If not, a repaired and lightly modified intake and plenum will be for sale soon!

I also built a little adapter for an oil pressure gauge off the block. This will be a nice little tool to have while I'm priming.
1674660348526.png
 

Jon Early

Active Member
When it comes to my toys, every piece that's removed will always get put back on in better condition than I found it. Some things won't turn out perfect, but I find it worth the time to give it my best shot. In the case of this intake, I do sometimes forget that most of it is covered by vacuum lines, fuel rail, and injectors. Once it's all together I'll probably care a lot less about the imperfections, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't annoyed by all the grime on my old intake when it was still on the car.

The new intake was blasted with aluminum oxide, and it still only took a minimal amount of that tan stuff off where the casting was very coarse. I think it's a bad powder coating stained with fuel and oil. I was able to get some off with a sanding bit on the dremel which proves it's only on the surface. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter now. I did a lot of research on aluminum coatings and decided to try Duplicolor DE1650. It's meant specifically for cast aluminum engine parts. This should not be confused with (DE1615) which is meant to give more of a smooth heat sink finish. Both of them have some sort of ceramic in it that's supposed to help dissipate heat better than a typical paint would which makes me feel better about the whole process. I just don't want this to come out with a bad tint or too much shine.
1674743707587.png

My first impressions are really good! The stuff will run pretty easily, but it's thin enough that a second coat on top of a small run will make it disappear. It's very strange, but easy. Below is comparing the new coating to the old tan plenum.
1674744021309.png

A better comparison is the new intake sitting next to my original valve covers. There's obviously a difference in color here, but I realize that the valve covers are pretty corroded and dirty. If you look at the surface on the valve covers closest to the intake, parts of it blend in really nicely. That's not overspray! Also notice that the masking tape is removed from the plenum surface. The bare machined aluminum is the same exact color as the coated parts. I approve!
Painted 1.jpg

1674744624674.png

1674744646593.png

Here's an example of the runs I was talking about. They come out looking black and very obvious.
1674744682970.png

You can see all those black spots on the other side as well.
1674744744589.png

Then I forgot to take good "after" pictures.... oops. I'll get those later. You can see the difference in the next picture though. The second coat made it disappear. I can't even see a difference in thickness there. Super odd.

Anyway, here's my Racetronix EGR block plate. Looks nice, right? I've never installed one of these before though. It's pretty obvious that the gasket isn't supposed to be used, but there are no o-rings or anything sealing it either. Do you guys use a thin film of RTV before installing? That's what I'm planning to do. The plate and round nub are machined nice enough to where I think it will seal the intake side without a sealer, but not the exhaust side.
1674744864724.png

I was kind of hoping to sand the ribs on the plenum and valve covers down to give them a bit of shine, but it looks like somebody before me was wacking it with a hammer? I don't think it would look good unless I take a ton of material off. We'll see. I can always try the belt sander at work! I'm going to leave that alone for now though. I have much more important stuff to work on.
1674744786933.png

...for instance, I somehow stripped some bolts and bolt holes on the crank pulley. I'm not sure how much they're supposed to be torqued but it didn't take much!
1674745490792.png

After some quick looking, the March aluminum pulley looks pretty cool though. I didn't know anybody made sort of stock appearing pulley that allowed you to run the intercooler fan. If I can't fix the bolt holes easily, I'll probably buy that. Stainless water pump bolts might be good too, I just wish that somebody made bolt kits with flanges instead of washers. I hate washers.
 

1986 Buick GX1

GX1 #001 [The One and Only]
When it comes to my toys, every piece that's removed will always get put back on in better condition than I found it. Some things won't turn out perfect, but I find it worth the time to give it my best shot. In the case of this intake, I do sometimes forget that most of it is covered by vacuum lines, fuel rail, and injectors. Once it's all together I'll probably care a lot less about the imperfections, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't annoyed by all the grime on my old intake when it was still on the car.

The new intake was blasted with aluminum oxide, and it still only took a minimal amount of that tan stuff off where the casting was very coarse. I think it's a bad powder coating stained with fuel and oil. I was able to get some off with a sanding bit on the dremel which proves it's only on the surface. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter now. I did a lot of research on aluminum coatings and decided to try Duplicolor DE1650. It's meant specifically for cast aluminum engine parts. This should not be confused with (DE1615) which is meant to give more of a smooth heat sink finish. Both of them have some sort of ceramic in it that's supposed to help dissipate heat better than a typical paint would which makes me feel better about the whole process. I just don't want this to come out with a bad tint or too much shine.
View attachment 391072
My first impressions are really good! The stuff will run pretty easily, but it's thin enough that a second coat on top of a small run will make it disappear. It's very strange, but easy. Below is comparing the new coating to the old tan plenum.
View attachment 391073
A better comparison is the new intake sitting next to my original valve covers. There's obviously a difference in color here, but I realize that the valve covers are pretty corroded and dirty. If you look at the surface on the valve covers closest to the intake, parts of it blend in really nicely. That's not overspray! Also notice that the masking tape is removed from the plenum surface. The bare machined aluminum is the same exact color as the coated parts. I approve!
View attachment 391074
View attachment 391075
View attachment 391076
Here's an example of the runs I was talking about. They come out looking black and very obvious.
View attachment 391077
You can see all those black spots on the other side as well.
View attachment 391078
Then I forgot to take good "after" pictures.... oops. I'll get those later. You can see the difference in the next picture though. The second coat made it disappear. I can't even see a difference in thickness there. Super odd.

Anyway, here's my Racetronix EGR block plate. Looks nice, right? I've never installed one of these before though. It's pretty obvious that the gasket isn't supposed to be used, but there are no o-rings or anything sealing it either. Do you guys use a thin film of RTV before installing? That's what I'm planning to do. The plate and round nub are machined nice enough to where I think it will seal the intake side without a sealer, but not the exhaust side.
View attachment 391080
I was kind of hoping to sand the ribs on the plenum and valve covers down to give them a bit of shine, but it looks like somebody before me was wacking it with a hammer? I don't think it would look good unless I take a ton of material off. We'll see. I can always try the belt sander at work! I'm going to leave that alone for now though. I have much more important stuff to work on.
View attachment 391079
...for instance, I somehow stripped some bolts and bolt holes on the crank pulley. I'm not sure how much they're supposed to be torqued but it didn't take much!
View attachment 391081
After some quick looking, the March aluminum pulley looks pretty cool though. I didn't know anybody made sort of stock appearing pulley that allowed you to run the intercooler fan. If I can't fix the bolt holes easily, I'll probably buy that. Stainless water pump bolts might be good too, I just wish that somebody made bolt kits with flanges instead of washers. I hate washers.

It has been mentioned to drill and tap the holes under the egr blockoff plate for pipe plugs so it doesn’t matter if the plate seals.
The intake side has also been used for/ as a vacuum source for the brake booster and various sensors and such.
While the intake is off would be a good time for such endeavors.
 

Jon Early

Active Member
It has been mentioned to drill and tap the holes under the egr blockoff plate for pipe plugs so it doesn’t matter if the plate seals.
The intake side has also been used for/ as a vacuum source for the brake booster and various sensors and such.
While the intake is off would be a good time for such endeavors.
I could do that with the intake side but it's a bit tough to tap the square exhaust port. I'd rather hide the vacuum port on the back of the intake anyway.

I got the valve covers painted last night. I still had the original sticker on the driver side cover. It felt weird peeling it off, but I tossed it on my stronghold with all the other stickers.
1674823752701.png

1674823792562.png

I'm liking the look! The bare aluminum was nice, but the corrosion against freshly painted heads was not jiving.
1674823809871.png

This intercooler fan gives me angry thoughts. My mint one got messed up when I hit the raccoon a few years ago. This one at least has good plastic, but the metal parts are rusty and almost impossible to remediate. This was my second attempt. I used a surface prep pad to get rid of the rust, then I coated the plastic part in grease, painted with rust converter, and cleaned the grease off. We'll see how long it lasts this time, but I'm not placing any bets. As much as I like the quirkiness of the intercooler fan, I'm not sure that I'm willing to spent the money on another one in mint condition. If you have one that you're willing to sell let me know!

Those angry thoughts about the fan continue. When reinstalling the fan, the bolts did not want to start. To make a long story short, a few of the holes are severely stripped out. I had a spare crank pulley so I looked into swapping it out. That was when I noticed that the spare pulley has ALL the holes stripped out due to having the wrong fasteners installed. :mad: This has me debating the March Performance Pulley kit. I had no idea that an aluminum pulley with a fan adapter was available! It should look nicer and not have me worrying about parts flying off. Of course the stock photos that March uses don't show the front of the crank pulley or what it looks like when it's installed, so I'd be going in blind. Have you seen this kit installed before? Is it any good?

On a lighter note, I got another phone call from Dave Husek last night. It turns out he's had a 2600 stall D5 converter with an anti balloon plate hanging out at the converter shop completed for over a year. I guess the original customer never paid up, so it's mine now. I thought something a little smaller would have been more appropriate, but Dave insisted that this would be perfect with the TA49 on E85 and a small turbo upgrade if I ever decide to do that. I trust his word. This converter was quite a bit cheaper too. It'll be on my doorstep for under $600.
 
Last edited:

Jon Early

Active Member
Looking Good!
Thanks! I went ahead and bought the March performance pulley kit. The fact that it's aluminum and looks basically stock was enough to sell me. I contacted a buddy who might have an intercooler fan. I'm not putting this rusty junk on to a shiny new aluminum pulley.
 
Top