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Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) UberDork
11/9/21 8:39 a.m.

I still love this turd

Shavarsh Reader
11/9/21 10:36 a.m.

Well done! I agree it could be a bit lower. Stoked to see your getting some time behind the wheel!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/11/21 2:52 p.m.

Loving this build, glad you're finally getting some much deserved seat time!

bonylad HalfDork
11/11/21 3:36 p.m.

In reply to V6Buicks :

Well said. I sometimes forget the fun factor in my builds. I get caught up in the details.....I miss the big picture.  Your build has inspired me to the point I was looking for a V6 Camaro for some low buck GN fun. Good to hear you've sorted this Sir.  Keep it up and cant wait to see whats next!

autocomman Reader
11/11/21 3:39 p.m.
bonylad said:

While I am no pro, I do know signal, power and ground wires - especially signal need to be soldered. Crimps and butt connectors can add resistance to a wire and throw signals out of whack. Here at the GM dealer I am the SM at, its a common thing. GM implicitly states to solder wires.  Im not sure but in the pic it looks like they are crimped?

I gotta say it's bizzare GM says to solder the connections.  There are no soldered wires in a vehicle harnesses, ever.  Everything is crimped and for good reason.  Solder joints fatigue and crack with vibration, guess what a car does all the time, vibrate lol.  

I could understand this if techs are consistently not able to make a proper crimp and Insulate, but I've seen way more bad solder repairs than anything else.  Cold solder joints mostly.  A proper crimp cont come apart and should have a negligible influence on resistance.  Only way the crimp can be an issue is in you broke into a shielded wire bundle breaking the shield to make a crimp, the wires were dirty or corroded when crimped, crimp is the wrong size and/or not crimped properly, or there was liquid intrusion causing corrosion.

Best one I ever saw though wasnt any of this.  It was coolant migration through the harness, this was at VW.  Coolant ends up in the trunk, because of a leaky level sensor in the coolant expansion tank...yep.  the whole harness has to be replaced.  Glad you got the mess worked out though dude, I love low buck beater things like this.  Didn't even think about the 411 and the crank tooth issues.  I don't know what the limits are with the SC ecu either as far as boost, maybe that's an option before blowing it all up for a holly?  Should be easy to find an SC ecu or reflash for that

bonylad HalfDork
11/15/21 8:26 a.m.

In reply to autocomman :

Well to be clear its approved on certain connections. Even then you can only do it once. You cant have more than one as it introduces too much resistance in the wiring. If memory serves some harnesses you can get away with. Say an 02 sensor connection you may be able to get away with. But say for a SRS harness.....its once.

V6Buicks Reader
11/22/21 1:07 p.m.

Thank you everybody for the kind words and support!  I'm happy that I got this car running right when I did.  Not only did I get to party with my groomsmen a little bit the night before my wedding, but I had no unfinished projects to dread while returning from my honeymoon!  It was a great feeling.  It also resulted in the first real action video.  Line lock work great!


AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/22/21 1:11 p.m.

In reply to V6Buicks :

because berkeley those tires!!!

V6Buicks Reader
11/22/21 2:14 p.m.
autocomman said:
I don't know what the limits are with the SC ecu either as far as boost, maybe that's an option before blowing it all up for a holly?  Should be easy to find an SC ecu or reflash for that

There really isn't much difference in tunability between the NA and SC PCMs.  The SC files do read a 2-bar map.  However, 2 bar is essentially worthless for any expansion, the resolution is much too low for a 3 bar upgrade let alone 4, and the SC file will not play with the Camaro body controls anyway.  There are people who have "gotten away" with ditching the MAF, but I don't think they realize how terrible their tunes are.  Their PCM is just guessing within massive windows.  It's a big rabbit hole regardless of which direction I take.  Most people opt to work with what they have in some way or another.  Mine works as-is, but beyond the retuning for my future cam swap, standalone WOT box, and 7440 PCM swap for re-enabling knock retard, I believe I'd either be sacrificing some form of reliability or doing more work than it's worth to retain the factory harness.

It kinda comes down to how much you're willing to suffer I guess.  Personally, I'm growing to dislike this DIS system.  It's very tunable and reliable, but their age is starting to show.  The ICMs and coils hate heat, and my car makes a ton of it.  Relocation to a cooler spot helps, but it comes at the expense of mile long plug wires.  COP or CNP conversions are possible with a factory ECM, but it involves the building of custom circuit boards, archaic turbo Buick parts, limited information, and still not having lunch control.  There's also the ICM "stacking" mod which is basically a hack that supposedly allows you to open up your spark plugs at the expense of your coils burning up and questionable results.  If I had the ambition to deal with all that, I'd definitely rather bite the bullet and start over with a better documented EMS that has endless possibilities.  Speed density tuning with more resolution than the stock MAF file, CNPs with only simple wiring, no lift shift AND lunch control with just the clicks of a few buttons, and flex-fuel capability with just the addition of a sensor are my main draws to the Holley.  Adding fuel pressure or anything else I desire to my logs is just icing on the cake.

All this talk of course only applies if you're ready to send a 3800 to the freaking moon though.  I never had (still don't) immediate plans to go bananas (600+ whp) with this car, but I know how this song goes.  I'm falling more in love with the car all the time.  The more I mess with it, the more I itch to go even faster.  It's a disease.  I'm not ditching the GM equipment yet.  In fact, I plan to have it professionally tuned with a 7440 once I do a cam swap.  From there though, I'll be really pushing the limits of the stock PCM tunability if I want to keep it streetable.


By the way... I bought a cam.  laugh It won't be installed any time soon though.  For one, I just got done sealing up the front end of the engine again.  I don't want to risk the car being down again next summer!  Besides, this cam will require even heavier valve springs and stock rocker lift.  I think my brand new LS6 springs and 1.9:1 roller rockers deserve at least season of  cheap shens!

GCrites80s HalfDork
11/22/21 8:34 p.m.

Re: launch control. At least with '98 and up F-body you have those high-pressure rear brakes that let you hold a lot more boost on the line as compared to a stock Regal's drums. And bigger tires.

V6Buicks Reader
11/23/21 6:14 a.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

Very true.  I wouldn't be worrying about it at all if the car was an automatic.  I just have no experience in launching a car a with a manual.  Seat time might eventually give me free launch control.

autocomman Reader
12/9/21 2:37 a.m.

All great points and I totally understand why you want to go aftermarket EFI. Makes perfect sense. I don't know what the limit is on 3800 as far as power before they really get unhappy. I thought it was in the 3 to 400 horsepower range before you're like really starting to push the envelope. Maybe that's just what the supercharger and the capabilities of the original ECU. I've never really dived that deep into it. I do love the project though cheap cars that you can just beat the crap out of just because. But you can still start them up and drive them all the time. It's best of both worlds.

V6Buicks Reader
12/9/21 12:35 p.m.
autocomman said:

All great points and I totally understand why you want to go aftermarket EFI. Makes perfect sense. I don't know what the limit is on 3800 as far as power before they really get unhappy. I thought it was in the 3 to 400 horsepower range before you're like really starting to push the envelope. Maybe that's just what the supercharger and the capabilities of the original ECU. I've never really dived that deep into it. I do love the project though cheap cars that you can just beat the crap out of just because. But you can still start them up and drive them all the time. It's best of both worlds.

Agreed!  Luckily, these engines are actually proven to be extremely over-engineered.  The bottom ends on these things are proven to produce well over 800hp as long as care and attention are put into the right places.  I once believed that the higher compression NA version was a lot weaker, but I've personally witnessed a twin-charged LeSabre with it's original L36 short block and camshaft push 500hp and 700lb/ft!  As long as your tune is spot on and your craftsmanship is good, these engines have very few limits.

I don't have a lot in terms of updates, but I'll talk anyway since I'm here.  I scored some lift time from a friend of a friend, so I decided to stop by with a 12 pack for his fridge and get to work!  The plan was to replace my rear main seal and adjust my TOB out a bit.

To make a long story short.  Pulling the transmission out was a huge waste of time.  What wasn't a huge waste of time was making that flywheel cover because it kept my flywheel dry enough to notice that my rear main seal wasn't even leaking!  We just cleaned everything up, adjusted the TOB in hopes of fixing the growling I heard with the clutch engaged, and went for a quick drive.

Fail.  The growling was still there which probably means that my input shaft is not aligned with the crank very well.  The oil leak was back and only made enough of a mess to tell where it was coming from.  Once again, my turbo drain plumbing is a wreck.  The flange fitting at the turbo is fine, and so are the hose connections.  However, something is wrong with both hard line connections.

This is the third time I've had turbo drain leaks due to cheap/junky parts.  I'm not messing around anymore.  $120 at Summit got me three Fragola fittings, 5 ft of Fragola stainless braided PTFE hose, and a set of Earl's vise jaws.  It's time to make this thing seal once and for all!  I'm not happy about the growl, but I've decided to let it go until other issues begin or the growling gets louder.  The transmission slides into the clutch disk and pilot bearing easier than the T5 ever did, so I'm not exactly convinced that this noise is even part of an issue.  Maybe TKXs are just a little noisey.

V6Buicks Reader
1/27/22 9:12 a.m.

I've been looking at this for much too long, but it "worked" so I left it alone.  Now that my new exhaust is here and not going to clear the stock parts, it's time to upgrade.


I still can't believe this came out of the bushing sleeve in one piece.

Once I get this mess cleaned up a bit and encapsulated, I'll be bolting in my new panhard relocation kit and on-car adjustable bar from UMI.  I have a feeling that the rear end will quit acting like such a wet noodle around corners with the new parts.  After that, the exhaust can be hung up and I can start making my new downpipe.

V6Buicks Reader
2/1/22 8:31 a.m.

I interrupt this program to show off the newest addition to my man cave.

The parts hoard was getting a little out of control.  There was also a very bizarre family heirloom just collecting dust in my spare bedroom closet that I had to do something with.  Specifically, this 3800 was disassembled and therefore, junk.  I specced and acquired some hardware, and turned them into feet.

Then I drilled into some box tubing.

Inserted some diy sleeves (pipe nipples turned down on the bench grinder lol)

Flux core welded them into place since I wanted to use up the roll.

Ground the welds down

Cleaned up the holes with a step bit

And eventually had mounting bars for the cylinder heads.

That's about it for the old engine.

The heirloom is a mildly interesting story.  My great-grandpa worked for Electromotive Diesel from 1939 to 1972.  At some point in that time window he brought a train windshield home to use as a bar top.  While the bar eventually fell into disrepair, the 3/8" thick glass was kept around.  After doing some research on EMD locomotives I determined this piece to come from a Streamliner.

Anyway, the next step was building a frame that would house the glass.  It was a long and tedious process.

I finally got very fed up with the welder tripping my 15A breaker all the time, so I spent an hour putting in a dedicated 20A circuit.  Yes, only an hour because there was already a hole in my access panel for an outlet I already moved. laugh  Most of that time was spent making a trip to Lowes.

HA!  Perfect!

Table work went a lot more smoothly after that.  I should have done that a long time ago!

Finished frame getting leveled and centered over the engine.

Connecting the dots.

I needed to slot one mounting bar because it would be held on with the ICM bracket studs instead of new bolts.  This involved a lot of filler welding and grinding, but it was fun.

All done!

So that's why my updates have been slow.  Once I started doing this project, I refused to work on anything else until it was done.

bonylad HalfDork
2/1/22 8:42 a.m.

Love it!

autocomman Reader
2/3/22 1:39 a.m.

Is it just me or are the new pics not loading....sadness!

DrMikeCSI New Reader
2/3/22 8:14 a.m.

All I can see is the engine. 

V6Buicks Reader
2/3/22 8:45 a.m.

Oh no!  I tried posting the pictures by copy/pasting the first time.  I edited the post with the pictures inserted the normal way.  Let me know if you can see them now.  There should be 22 pictures total.

V6Buicks Reader
2/8/22 12:41 p.m.

Sorry I'm kind of a mess in terms of timeline.  I forgot to make an update between my lift discoveries post and removal of the panhard bars.  Let's back track a couple months.

Nothing crazy, but the two piece turbo drain had to go.  This is the third and (hopefully) final rendition!  I should have done this from the beginning, but I didn't realize how stiff stainless braided hoses were.  I was scared of it being too floppy resulting in hurting the serpentine belt and unfavorable flow paths.  I have none of that!  I also invested in a quality brand (Fragola) with matching fittings of the same series.  This along with the Earls vise jaws made assembly so much easier!  Good hose and fitting are worth the added cost.

Smooth downhill path the whole way to the pan!

And no leaks or chance of abrasion!  I'm super happy to wipe my hands clean of this mess.  While this did solve ONE leak, it's still not the only one.  The pan gasket is leaking too. angry  I decided long ago that I'm going hack.  I will smear some RTV where the pan meets the block and be done as long as the smoking stops because it's too much work to risk installing another junk gasket.

After this I decided to finish the exhaust.  I wasn't happy with my downpipe for a couple reasons, but I couldn't live with it because I never factored in a strut tower brace.  I decided to drop the coin.

BAAAAAHHHH!!!!  MY EYES!!!  BMR is the only company to make a brace that clears the V6 alternator, so red and hammertone grey were my only options.  The other problem I wasn't prepared to handle was the oil fill tube.  It's much more in the way than I expected.


Good thing I have a nice easy-to-access bung on the driver side!  Yeah, it requires a wrench to open, but so does undoing the drain bolt.  I don't see it bothering me much.

I'm running with it and putting it in paint.  While I'm at it, the passenger side catch can and oil fill cap are going away.  The second catch tank was completely unnecessary, and I already had a spare set of unmodified valve covers.  The modified one looks nice on my coffee table!

Much better!

I never thought an oil cap delete would be a modification I did on purpose.

It freed up all the space I needed though!

Okay!  Fast forward another month.  The stock panhard bars are already out.  Now it's time to install the panhard bars and relocation kit.  Technically, the Hawks "Sinister" single shot exhaust I bought fits just fine with stock bars, but it's tight.  Let's be honest.  They needed to go anyway.  Before I install nice powder coated parts, I insist on cleaning up the parts they attach to first.

Oh yeah!!  It looks a little funny with that awful titanic 10-bolt, but there won't be much left If I remove all the rust from it.

Now that I can route an exhaust in ways that aren't regretful, let's do it!

I have to say that I'm not impressed.  This is a larger diameter pipe which typically costs more, but it's still aluminized steel with no mufflers.  I've installed much cheaper mandrel bent exhausts that were muffled and installed a lot easier than this one.  It's only as good as the time you spend fiddling with it.

This custom hanger is very unsightly.  Once I have the position finalized with the downpipe installed, I'll weld it to the top of the pipe and cut off the rest.  I'll probably weld the pin so that it cant come loose too.

One thing that took me a bit to realize was that the V6 and LS exhaust hangers were not the same.  Odd.  I'dont know why they would change it but it's neither here nor there.  After a bit of research I found that the hangers are not reproduced for 4th gens but they are for 3rd gens.  The third gen piece from Walker fits with some slotting of the mounting holes.

After all that, the heat factory heat shields still need to be removed, so I will be wrapping the over-axle section where it's close to the gas tank.

Now we're up to yesterday.  Down pipe time.

I ran out of gas when I got to this point, but I'm already much happier with how this one is turning out!

StripesSA1 Reader
2/12/22 4:36 p.m.

Man what a read.

Last time I checked this thread, the TKX was still some time of from arriving, and now we are going into a turbo downpipe revise and a full exhaust.

V6Buicks Reader
2/16/22 9:46 a.m.

In reply to StripesSA1 :

haha I move quickly, but progress doesn't always move at the same speed.  A lot of that is my own fault.  I get a little impatient sometimes and rig things so that I can get int he car and drive sooner.  Then I end up doing thing two or three times.  I think this will be the last downpipe I do myself though.  It will finally run to the back, and it's turning out way better than the other two.

To be fair, this car only came into my garage to keep me busy and keep me from modifying the GN.  So far, it's doing a pretty good job at all that.  I just wish I was doing more driving!

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/16/22 2:05 p.m.

Nice work. I'm sure it's going to sound great with a full exhaust setup. It's kind of a lost art in today's world of "just have a hood exit" and call it good. 

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/16/22 2:26 p.m.
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) said:

Nice work. I'm sure it's going to sound great with a full exhaust setup. It's kind of a lost art in today's world of "just have a hood exit" and call it good. 

Preach it, brother!

A hood exit can be easier and have less restriction, but a full downpipe is a lot more polished solution.

V6Buicks Reader
2/17/22 11:31 a.m.

Thanks all!  If you're making enough power to warrant a hood dump then it's okay I guess, but I think a 3" full exhaust will flow more air than 90% of car people will ever pump.  I'm sure posting those kind of facts will make some people mad, but I don't find unnecessary hood holes to be a cool thing at all.  I will admit that this car almost got a fender dump, but that was at a time when I had no plans to fix any rust or keep the car longer than a couple years.  I thought it would be in the scrap yard by now!  The car is here to stay and get's driven too regularly for those kind of annoyances.

I got a lot done last night.  After removing the strut tower bar, I got to work on the remainder of the down pipe.  I have the routing to the back of the engine finalized and the brace welded on, but I need some more parts before I can continue.

The downpipe will be made as two pieces so that I can easily access the spark plugs without crawling under the car.  The part below will stay this length and continue on after a v-band.

Here you can see that the pipe mostly out of the way once I disconnect the front section.  I will have to check, but I don't think getting to that back plug witha rachet will be a problem.

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