Maintenance and Modifications



22/09/2011

I now have the tie rods installed and the braided brake lines. The brake lines were a little complex because they were supplied with straight line banjo ends. This meant I wouldn't be able to get the lines to follow the factory routing. I bought some 30 degree angled banjos and they installed quite nicely.

31/07/2011

Again I've let slip the development of these web pages. In some ways I ought to redo them as much has changed on the car overall.

Over the past two years I've bought a right hand drive Knight Rider dashboard, and Knight Rider electronics. None of it has been finished or even installed due to various reasons, earthquakes being one of them. Recently because of the exchange rate, I've bought various parts to replace aging or worn out factory parts such as tie rod ends, braided brake lines, new coolant bottle, oil and fuel filters etc. I think I'll get the brake lines installed this week and I've done the tie rods already.

15/08/2009

The wiring modification that addressed my bouncing tach needle worked really well until recently. For the life of me I can't figure out what could possibly have changed. Understandably, this annoyed me somewhat.

Since the TPI engine was installed I have always used an under drive crank pulley to try and squeeze that little bit extra horsepower from the engine. However these are known to operate at the expense of having an electrical system not running at full potential. I decided with this problem that the pulley had to go and that I should reinstall the factory pulley again. This seemed easier than hunting around for and installing a larger alternator pulley to make it spin faster and get the voltage up.

10/06/2009

One niggle that I've had with my car is when the indicator is on and I'm sitting with the engine running and the car is idle. Every time the tachometer needle bounces a little in synchronisation with the indicator relay. When you hear the relay tick, the tachometer needle drops slightly and then moves back to where it was when the relay disengages.

Also, when the hazzard lights are on and a door is open the interior lights come on and pulse in synchronisation. And when the headlights are on and I put my foot on the brake pedal the headlights dim. Yes, as you might be thinking, this is a voltage drop problem.

Today I finished modifying the wiring on my car which successfully fixed this. As certain wiring gremlins such as this can drive a person clinically crazy I took the car to Riccarton Auto Electric and they figured out where the problem was. They say time is money and they saved me a lot of time pin pointing the problem. In hindsight, it was so easy I should have figured out what to do myself. But, always the way isn't it?

With this information I implemented a solution which to me was better than what they proposed as it allowed the car to remain factory looking, and it saved me money by doing it myself. What I did was run another wire from the starter, through the factory harness around the engine and through a spare terminal on the C100 firewall connector. Then on the female side of the connector (inside the car), I ran this wire into the fuse block and made it run the hazzard lights only.

Previously, one wire from the starter fed the hazzard lights plus two other circuits which was too much load. This new solution gave the hazzard lights its own power source independent from the other two and instantly gave me gratification. Of course, I could have used LED lights everywhere but this would have put the price of the repair up a lot.

I have since looked at the wiring of a later year GM vehicle and noticed that the wiring is much improved compared to the early 80s design.

04/05/2009

Scanner bulbs have been hard to come by these days. I used to get these from a local supplier, but their supplier no longer imports them. So I've had to look for a source of them myself, and after a bit of searching I found a shop on ebay that sells a big variety of bulbs, including what I want.

The photo of the bulbs in the auction I found appeared similar to what I wanted, but the dimensions seemed all wrong. I emailed the supplier to check on this and they admitted to having listed incorrect specifications, but the bulbs were indeed the correct ones. I put in a bid for 10 bulbs and they've turned up today and I'm pleased to say they are exactly what I'm after.


26/02/2009

Ever since I got the car the boot struts have been less than perfect. Lifting up the boot would cause it to drop again, but in warm weather the struts would keep the boot up as it should. I decided I didn't want to put up with saggy struts anymore and that I'd have the struts re-gassed if possible, or replaced if it came to that.

I called the same company that replaced my front struts when I first got the car, and the guy came round home at lunch time. After getting the struts off we tested them to check the damping was OK. It was so he re-gassed them under about 1000psi pressure. We reinstalled them and now I have a boot that stays up. Not only was I pleased by this, but he charged me a trade rate because we're both car enthusiasts and I gave him a hand.


15/01/2009A few weeks ago the EGR temperature diagnostic switch failed, causing a code 32 in the computer. I changed a parameter in the computer to disable the EGR until such time that I got a new one, and this morning my replacement switch arrived from PontiWorld in Australia. Apparently, these are not made anymore and I bought the second to last diagnostic switch ever! To get at the EGR valve, you have to take the upper plenum off the engine, and when I was putting everything back together I noticed something rather odd.

I had to unplug the HT lead for spark plug 7 at the distributor temporarily while I was torquing a bolt and to my horror noticed that it wasn't even seated firmly on the distributor. Lifting the HT lead boot off I saw a dust pile of rust! The metal clip inside the boot was very corroded and since it would no longer clip on the distributor I'm surprised it worked at all. The spark plug itself was a normal colour so I'm not sure how it still managed to work. Must've put a load on the system though.

Naturally, I removed the boot, cut the HT lead back to get a fresh bit of wire and installed a new clip. All the other clips on the distributor seemed to be OK.

20/11/2008Tonight I completed the installation of the roof rail rubber seals and it's good to have nice looking rubbers around the doors again. Fitting was relatively easy despite the fact the old rubbers didn't come off cleanly due to the glue holding them in place. I had to scrape a lot of excess glue and rubber fragments off the rails to ensure a good fit with the new rubbers.

The only small problem is that the end of the rubber which mounts near the right door hinge seemed a little larger or fatter than it needed to be. This makes closing the door harder because it interferes with the hinge and means that I need to apply a little extra effort when closing the door. I guess over time as the rubber sets in this will become less of a problem.

Also, I decided to have the car repainted in time for the Santa Parade this year. I figured this would end up being cheaper in the long run than having different areas of the car repainted as I could afford it. Naturally the result is a spectacular looking car once again. The only thing to do now is go around the car with a soft toothbrush to remove all the cutting compound residue from nooks and crannies from polishing the car.

22/08/2008Back in April I over-hauled the brakes, including installing a new master cylinder. The body of the new cylinder is made of steel, and not aluminium like the old one, and because of this it tends to get surface rust on it. But, with some 80 grit sandpaper and a can of aluminium wheel paint (left over when I painted my rims years ago), the cylinder spruces up to be very aluminium-looking.

18/04/2008The maintenance continues! I finally got the brakes sorted out and holy cow, do I have brakes!

I have read how a lot of people say the stock Firebird and Camaro brakes are utterly useless, unless they're talking about the 1LE package that came about in 1989, which are very good. My brakes haven't been very good for quite a while yet they still have met the NZ warrant of fitness standards.

Using a simple pair of dividers, I determined the front rotors were rather warped. I already knew this however because I could feel pulsations coming through the pedal on braking. I got some machined second hand rotors and pads from Alan and installed them. The pulsations went away, but it did nothing to reduce the excess pedal travel.

Next I wondered if the problem was the master cylinder bypassing. I crimped the front brake hoses and the pedal travel was the same, and then I crimped the rear brake hose and still the brakes behaved the same. Since there was no change, I figured the master cylinder must've been at fault so I used the remainder of my credit at American Auto Parts and got a replacement.

I've always said I've never liked working on brakes and after this experience I think my mind hasn't changed, although I will say I have learned a lot. Due to letting the master cylinder resevoir run dry when bleeding the system, I had to remove and bench bleed the master cylinder 5 times! Guess I must be a slow learner huh? Anyway, it didn't help things at all, so either I didn't bleed the system right or there was a problem somewhere else.

At this point I kinda gave up in frustration so I took the car to Magoo Muffler and Brake. They said the front brakes were fine but the rear needed work, including new wheel cylinders, drum machining and over sized shoes. To save money, I bought a rebuild kit for the wheel cylinders which as you might expect cost less than half of new cylinders. I borrowed a hoaning kit and cleaned them up, painted them black and installed them back in the car. Also, I installed a new rear brake hose and let Magoo do the rest.

The end result is that the pedal travel is now excellent and the brakes are so good I can throw any passenger through the front window at will, even if they are wearing a seat belt. :)

22/02/2008Time to do some updates to this section wouldn't you say!

The most recent fix I've done to the car is replace the wheel bearings in the differential because the left axle seal had been leaking. This is a pretty easy thing to do, but true to my experience of building my engine it wasn't straight forward at all. As my parents were overseas in Sydney I ordered two axle saver wheel bearings and got them sent to their hotel so they could bring them back with them. The two bearings were made by different companies, Timkin and Federal Mogul.

There are all kinds of stories floating around about the cross shaft locking pin breaking when you undo it. Those stories are true but thank goodness it wasn't an experience I had! The bolt came out with no force required at all. The hard part was knocking out the old seals and bearings. A friend helped me make a tool to achieve this to be used in conjunction with an axle puller but it didn't help. We had to knock the seals out by themselves first. After that the bearings came out very easily. Those seals were pretty tough stuff!

I was happy to get everything back together but it was short lived. The left replacement bearing and seal was leaking, and leaking bad. Differential oil was getting flicked up inside the wheel arch and going everywhere. I thoroughly enjoyed cleaning that up - NOT! I took the wheel off and checked things out. There seemed to be vertical play in the axle of roughly 1mm - plenty for oil to sneak past the seal. Comparing this with the axle on the right side there was no play in it at all. I figured the bearing had to be at fault or I had a severely worn axle. To test this, I swapped the axles around and drove the car. Nope, problem was still there, oil leaked everywhere which means it could only be the bearing.

I got a replacement bearing of a different brand from a local source and installed that. An initial test indicated some play, but I thought it might have been OK. As I often say, only one way to find out for sure. So I did and it was much much better, but still not good enough because it still leaked more than the 20 something year old seal I took out!

I decided I wanted another Federal Mogul bearing. After all it was a much better design to begin with as it has both an inner and an outer seal, no play at all and just looks like a stronger design. I got another one of these from Australia (at a discounted price), and after installing it the leaking problem simply went away and it's been fine ever since. What surprises me is the number of times I removed the dreaded cross shaft pin bolt without breaking it!

If you want to score yourself this bearing the part number is either RP-5707 or RP-1563. The first number is printed on the box and the second has been written on there by someone.


Also while in Australia, my parents brought back a new shifter cable bracket that mounts to the side of the transmission. This was a significant upgrade over the existing bracket I was using as that used a U shaped mount with a clip to hold the shifter cable in place. This design is prone to failure as the clip poses a risk of popping out of place. This could create a situation where the computer would allow the engine to start because the shifter is moved by the driver into Park, but the transmission is still in gear. That would be bad!

The new design uses a circular mount point that I quickly noticed was not compatible with my existing shifter cable. Fortunately, I still had the shifter and shifter cable from a few years back when I bought the 700-R4 transmission. The cable fits through the circular mount and clips into place very snugly. The only way to take the cable out of the mount is to depress a release lever - otherwise there's no way it can come out by accident.


Now for the toys! A factory option that was never installed on my car is the electronic boot release. The purpose of this feature is to pop the boot (or trunk, depending on which country you come from), while inside the car without having to use a key.

One day while searching on ebay I just happened to come across one of these devices from an 83 Trans Am and I won the auction. Because I have the factory manual I know how it's meant to be installed electrically so it was a piece of cake to do. The relay used in the circuit however was a bit special, but using a regular automotive relay and an external wiring modification it was easy. I also wired it up so the boot could not be opened if the transmission shifter was in any gear other than park or neutral. Again I went for the factory look.

For the time being however, I don't have a button to press to open the boot. Instead I just touch the bare ends of two wires together! Not the best idea ever, but hey, the spark that gets produced is kinda neat. :) I'd love to get hold of a factory button from an 82 or 83 Trans Am but these are hard to find. Instead I might get one from a later year Camaro and install it between the window switches. But since I'm leaning towards a Knight Rider interior I might velcro a mini box to the centre console with the switch inside it as a temporary measure.


The other upgrade to the car is a new stereo and speakers. Because the CD player in my existing stereo stopped working I thought I would just get a cable to plug into the CD changer to allow me to use an external source for music, such as my Sony PSP. However my model of stereo was too old for that to be possible. So I gave in and bought a new JVC head unit. This stereo was significantly better than my old one and not only did it come with a working CD player but I could hook up the PSP and play music from an external source.

My front speakers had never been wired up so I while I had things apart it seemed like a good opportunity to do it. The front left speaker didn't work at all so I decided to get two new speakers and installed those. Then, with a little fiddling I got the bass and treble just where I like it and the sound balance is perfect for those sitting in the front seats. I've had people ask me where the speakers are because the sound seems like it's coming from everywhere. So I figure I must've got that right.

03/06/2006A couple of months back I bought two FilterMags. These are powerful magnets which attach to the engine's oil filter and the automatic transmission oil pan and attract small metal particles that are worn off metal parts in everyday use. However normal oil filters do nothing to trap these small particles so they are left to float around inside the engine and transmission. Because the FilterMag is attached to the oil filter and transmission pan, these metal particles are trapped against the magnet. With these installed it should help the engine and transmission live a longer life.

23/05/2006For a bit of fun I took the car around Powerbuilt International Raceway (AKA Ruapuna) and had some driver coaching. It was a lot of fun but was a bit too hard on the brakes so I had to get new pads put in with new fluid. I managed to crack all the pads and caused one of them to turn white.

I'll look at upgrading my brakes at some point but I'm limited somewhat because I have 14" rims so I'm stuck with 10.5" rotors.

02/02/2006What an eventful day this has been. I got my windows retinted at lunchtime as the original stuff had been peeling off, and the new tint looked very good.

However, when I went to drive home from work the accelerator cable snapped! Fortunately I wasn't actually driving at the time. I got a ride home, had dinner and went to Alan's place and he gave me a bonnet release cable from an old Datsun. I went back to work, threaded this in place of the old cable and crimped it in place. It was an excellent solution to the problem.

Then when I got home (now getting dark), I had to put the door panels back on and I hoped they didn't rattle afterwards. It was about 10.30pm when I finished and yes, the driver's door didn't rattle, at least when I closed it. I got a rubber weather strip from Alan a couple of months ago which goes on the plastic capping on top of the door and also runs the length of the door. I think this alone made a huge difference.

The last thing I did to the car today was to install an Optima battery. This bad boy has 960CCA! Hopefully with all the playing around of electronics that I tend to do with my car that I won't flatten the battery again.

27/02/2006My driver's door has started to rattle again and I really hate rattles. I'm having real difficulty in locating where the rattles come from because there seems to be more than one loose part in the door. I've replaced the brittle felt in the front vertical window guide with several layers of new felt. This now holds the front of the window rather than let it slop around. I've also realigned the window so that it rises evenly. This means the front and rear of the window now hits the stop mounts simultaneously whereas before it was slightly out. The other thing which will prevent window slop is new rollers. The size used for the window seems to be about 27mm in diameter and 7mm thick. Hopefully I can find replacements from a hardware store or something.

I've also had my hub caps repainted to get rid of their dull look. Now they're a nice shiny gloss black and look better than the rest of the car!

15/10/2005I pleased to say that I've got the back support air bag in my driver's seat working again. I removed the back of the seat and took out the air bag. The air hose somehow had been seriously crimped in two places so air couldn't flow into and out of the bag. I cut the hose and rejoined it using hose joiners from a garden micro watering system. It works perfectly. In fact, better than before.

30/08/2005The high pressure line for the powering steering developed a split as the original hose had been reused when the rerouting was done and it didn't like the new install angle. As you can imagine it ended up spraying oil all over the engine bay. I took the hose off yesterday and today got another hose made up and I installed it. No more leaks!

27/08/2005I was in Timaru the night before and when there I took both door strikers off the GTA body that was lying next door to Fraser's shed. When I got home I replaced my driver's door striker with one of these replacements and now my door doesn't grab when opening and closing.

14/08/2005I believe I've just fixed one of the last remaining rattles in my car. There is a piece of horizontally mounted plastic that covers the rear window defog buttons and with movement of the car it sometimes would rattle and squeak.

One of the two screws that hold this in place has burrowed a larger screw hole so it no longer fitted very well. I filled the screw hole with araldite glue and when it had dried I used a drill bit to remake the hole. Seems to work well. I also put some adhesive foam inside the plastic to absorb any movement.

The final thing I did today was replace the ground wire on the rear window demister. The original was very brittle and most of the wire cores had broken. I had to remove a couple of boot panels to be able to remove the original wire as one end was bolted in an obscure place. I was able to reuse the original connectors by carefully removing the wires.

13/08/2005Not too much has been happening on the car lately. I've been working on pulling apart the new engine and getting it ready for a small overhaul.

Aside from that I put some new wiper blades on the car this morning. Not quite as boring as you might think as I needed one of the narrow kind and one of the wide kind. This would have come about from the right hand drive conversion.

06/08/2005I did a little bit of repair work to the sill beneath the right door hinge. This had been crushed over time by various people when the car was put on hoists. All it took was a pair of big pliers and I was able to straighten it out and then I painted it.

02/06/2005The upgrades never end. The transmission had its valves polished, a Shift Technology's shift kit and a new performance pressure boost valve installed. As a result the car is now a lot more exciting to drive! The shifts are now firm and very fast with the shift point now at 4700RPM instead of 5000RPM. On my first test drive I hammered the accelerator and there was a noticeable amount more power going to the ground as the car pulled to the left and took off. Changing into 2nd gear caused the tyres to break traction for a moment which put a smile on my face.

The other thing I had done was a repair to the power steering box. This had been leaking so I had this repaired at the same time as the transmission was worked on. The high pressure line was rerouted underneath the car for a tidier appearance rather than going over the top of the engine bay like it used to. Just have to get a wheel alignment done so I can have my steering wheel centre.

This morning I ordered a Laser Cams camshaft direct from the USA. It should produce around 300HP in my TPI 305 and with some computer tuning allow 15-18MPG around town and in excess of 24MPG on the open road. Soon I'll get the heads worked on while I port the TPI plenum and manafold myself.

10/05/2005Today I finished restoring my both my doors. I had been working on this on and off for the past few weeks and now neither door rattles. The left is slightly better than the right side and closes just like a brand spanking new door.

Both doors received freshly painted outer door handles, guide stabilisers and door rod supports from 88 Camaro doors, and brand new door lock switches. The right door needed more work and it also received a second hand window motor and regulator and a door latch.

Since I had the car the plastic trim that sits on top of the inner door panel on both doors has never sat correctly which frequently caused rattles. After some study I figured out how these should sit properly and now they do. I'm very happy with the result.

20/04/2005I decided that after owning the car for so long that I should change the fuel filter since I have no idea when it was last done. Shame on me!

During racing last Sunday I blew an exhaust head flange gasket as a bolt had come out of the head completely and two others were loose. I wonder how long they had been loose for? I replaced the cardboard gasket with a metal one.

05/02/2005Last weekend I had been in Timaru visiting Fraser and ended up buying a 1989 305 with hydralic roller cam and Tuned Port Injection (TPI). A quick visit to the bank secured the money and on this day Fraser delivered the engine as he was coming to Christchurch anyway. Now I need to begin doing research on how to improve the engine and induction and figure out how to install it into my car. When this engine is installed it will be mated to its old buddy, my 700-R4 transmission.

06/11/2004As soon as I got home from my Japanese exam today, I pulled out the tools and installed a new temperature sensor in the thermostat housing for the ECM. It's a better version that the 82 factory unit and given the age of what the old one looked like, it very well could have been the original sensor!

Yesterday I had my new anti-rattle brake clips installed and it's great to be able to drive the car around without the front inner pads rattling! It's bliss!

19/10/2004Finally, I got headers installed. I expected this to give a nice power gain but several runs down the drag strip showed no performance improvement at all. It was a complete waste of money, except for the fact the car sounds very mean. I guess I will need a new cam, but I don't think I can be bothered spending that sort of money on my engine.

I bought Hedman's headers and because my car is right hand drive, the right side headers needed to be modified. It would have been much cheaper to have them custom made, but never mind, you live and learn.

What really annoys me is how the job was done. I won't mention who did the work (but if you ask me I'll tell you), but I was less than happy. The paint that was put on wasn't even high temperature paint, a small bracket was welded onto the right side primary flange to which the dipstick tube was welded to(!), the oxygen sensor connector was left hanging so it dragged on the ground, and the high pressure return line on the power steering pump had been moved to be put out of the way of one of the primaries. This loosened the acorn nut on the back of the pump, causing my car to dump all its power steering fluid.

The shop denied moving the power steering hose, of course. But I've been under the bonnet of my car so many times, and I know exactly how that hose used to be. True, they may have moved it without thinking about it, but to straight out deny it really annoys me. They'd also taken the liberty to throw away my O2 sensor wiring bracket and one or two other things which I wanted back and they couldn't find them in the rubbish. Didn't it cross their minds to even think of asking me first? Bunch of tossers...

15/10/2004I had the regulator in my alternator replaced today. Usually when driving at night the car would experience temporary states of over charging up to 16V. Research indicated that the likely cause is either the alternator regulator, bad battery or possibly a bad braided strap from the engine block to the firewall.

As it turned out, the regulator was burning out so I'm fairly confident that everything should be back to normal.

10/10/2004On the day of the previous drag race meeting, my power brake vacuum hose filter broke on the way to racing. I patched it up with lots of insulation tape which worked well as a temporary fix. Today I went to a swap meet and bought a fuel filter of the correct shape and it installed very easily. Originally it was white, but that was easily fixed with a tin of spray paint.

I also bought a new trunk seal which I thought was a good price at $60. I'm hoping this will prevent the trunk lid from having the occasional squeaking fit.

06/09/2004This past week has seen a couple of major things fixed on the car. Firstly I put the car in the garage to see if I could get the Check Engine (SES - Service Engine Soon) light working. It never has while I've owned the car. I pulled apart the dashboard and found that the SES light was missing completely. I swapped the bulb from the Fasten Seatbelts position into the SES light position since with non factory seat belts it would be no good to me anyway.

Then when I turned the key to test it, nothing worked. The car was dead apart from the interior lights, electric seats etc. Basically only the courtesy stuff worked. After an awful lot of diagnosis I narrowed down the fault by attaching a jumper cable from the positive terminal of the battery to the battery terminal of the alternator and that gave full power back to the car. This told me that there was a fault somewhere with fusible link B, as fusible link A took care of courtesy features. It ended up not being a link itself, but the wire fusible link B connected to. I replaced this with new wire and a new fusible link and the car was happy again. So was I.

Now with full power back the SES light worked, but the computer (ECM - Electronic Control Module), told me that there was a problem with the coolant sensor, saying that the reading it was receiving was too low. After some discussion with some helpful people from www.thirdgen.org and also by chance, I discovered that the return wire for the coolant sensor was not connected. It was just lying around in the engine bay. The way it connected to the sensor was not obvious at all, so it was no wonder that it was lying around for at least the past two and a half years. It ended up being the solution as after I cleared the code from the ECM and ran the car for a while, no fault code was produced.

I still haven't got my ram air ducting wired up.

14/08/2004Today the induction cowl ducting I bought on ebay arrived. This ducting is the ram air system from a 1984 Trans Am and installs in under the bonnet. One end connects up to the cowl opening on the bonnet and the other end meets up with a hole in the top of the air cleaner lid when the bonnet is closed. A rubber boot on the air cleaner lid ensures a sealed connection.

Fortunately the solenoid that opens the flap inside the ducting to allow cool air to flow, still works. When my up coming exam is over I'll wire it up to the car.

24/07/2004Today was a winter drag race meeting and I got to try out my new rear lower control arm relocation brackets. I'd spent weeknights lending up to the weekend installing them, as they were a very tight fit and getting holes to line up was a little tricky.

I couldn't get maximum traction that day (no one could), because the track was so cold and they don't put VHT on the track during winter meets. Even with wheel slippage on launch I was pulling 15.9s consistently. I've always known my tyres were pretty crappy, so perhaps that's the next thing I need to look at doing.

30/06/2004Today I installed a very cool piece of eye candy on top of my dashboard. I bought a O2 sensor display kit which uses a LM3914 LED driver chip to illuminate 10 LEDs to tell you how rich or lean your engine is running. With the help of a friend I modified it to be a throttle position sensor (TPS) display module.

The circuit is calibrated so that one LED illuminates per 10% of accelerator and connects in parallel with the TPS signal from the carb. A quick snap of the accelerator looks really cool as all the LEDs light up at night time!

12/06/2004With warrant time coming up in a couple of weeks I was concerned that my sloppy steering wheel would not pass. I had to hunt around for a torque bolt socket and ended up buy a socket set. A friend gave me a hand and without him I doubt I'd have done it successfully. He also fixed my hon problem as it would only sometimes work. In this case it turned out to be the horn relay which had a dirty contact. Cleaning this up made the horn work again no problem.

24/04/2004A few days ago I got my polyurethane bushes for my 36mm front sway bar from the USA and today I installed them with the new bar. Taking the old sway bar off was easy, although I figured it might be interesting putting everything back together because the wonder bar also came off with the sway bar. And I've only one pair of hands. Since I had it off, I gave the wonder bar a quick sand and repainted it to make it look sharp.

After putting everything back together I took the car for a quick spin. I really wanted to find some corners to throw the car round but there was too much traffic about for that. There was one corner I whipped round and the car turned sharper than what I was expecting. I think that'll take a little getting used to. The rubber bushes from my old sway were that stuffed, the D clamps were all that was holding them together. The end link bushes were also very sad looking, one of them had almost fallen apart completely.

I remember the 1993 Nissan Skyline I had for a while. That car handled very well, but not as good as the Trans Am does now.

15/04/2004The right front brake hose needed replacing so I thought I'd take it to Magoo Muffler to replace. Which was all well and good except that the guy who did the job didn't put the lid on the fluid resovoir properly. On the way home smoke started pouring out of the induction cowl and straight away I knew what had happened. I pulled over immediately and put the resovoir lid on properly and booted it home. On arrival I popped the hood and dowsed the engine bay with water from the garden hose. Days later no paint seems to have stripped off anything.

10/04/2004I decided that today I would install the 24mm rear sway bar that I bought back in November of last year. I painted the clamps that attach the diff to the sway bar just to make everything look good and the new bar went in without a problem.

The old sway bar was only about 13mm, and I certainly noticed the difference in performance of the car's handling with the 24mm bar in place. I've hammered the car into corners, even going on the inside lane of a roundabout at 30MPH and the car barely had body roll. This machine corners so well now, I've love to take it circuit racing.

30/03/2004One evening I went to go out and the car refused to start, all I got was a click everytime I turned the key. Yep, the starter had finally given up. Fortunately it hadn't died completely but I still removed the starter and took it to an auto electrician, Riccarton Auto Electric.

They ended up getting me another starter motor because the armatuer in mine was not repairable. Because of the voltage drop caused by the security system, a relay had to be installed to disable it while cranking so the starter could get maximum voltage. The car starts great now, and even makes a cool turbine/whistle sound when the engine fires that the old starter never made.

13/03/2004I picked up some electric seats from Fraser out of the GTA. I installed them today in the Trans Am and they work beautifully. They're very comfortable and mould me very nicely. Unfortunately they don't colour match the interior of the car but the comfort is worth it. And besides, because the seats are electric I've now got more buttons to push!

13/02/2004Sometime in December 2003 I booked my car in to get custom made subframe connectors installed. After being without the car for only a few days for the operation, today I got it back. The connectors now give the car a full length chassis. The custom connectors I have are better than most that you can buy from the USA, because they not only join the two ends of the car together, but they're also welded to the floor pan of the car giving greater strength.

The car is noticeably stiffer than before, it doesn't rattle so much and I've driven it round corners hard, to the point that the tyres squeal. The car responds as if I'm not asking much of it, the car will change direction like a rabbit. It'll be even better at cornering when I get round to buying bushes for my large sway bars and get those installed!

23/01/2004I bought a radiator shroud from a late 80s GTA for a dual electric fan setup from American Auto Parts. The day after I bought two electric fans for $35 from Fraser in Timaru (the dude I bought my 700-R4 from). I removed my clutch fan and installed the new shroud and one fan, as one fan needed a frame fabricated. I was surprised how easy the shroud and fan bolted into my car, it was as if Pontiac were thinking ahead when they build the first third generation car, so retro fitting an electric fan didn't require any drilling of holes or anything.

I wired up a switch inside the car to the fan so that I could control it manually and also a small bulb so I could see at a glance if I had the fan turned on or not. I must say, one fan certainly cools down the car very fast. Eventually I will install a switch in the radiator to automatically control the fan. I doubt I will install the second fan as it doesn't seem to be needed.

10/01/2004Today I got round to looking at getting the electrical aerial from the GTA working. I had installed it the day I got it but only got weak radio reception because I never got the aerial to extend. From studying my factory manual and also www.thirdgen.org I needed to find a pink wire somewhere in the wiring loom as that controls the state of the aerial, to extend or retract it. I removed my stereo and didn't see a pink wire there. I unwravelled insulation tape from the wiring loom and 'ello 'ello, there's the pink wire hidden beneath tape sitting dormant. I connected it to the power antenna output of my JVC stereo and turned it on. Nothing happened and I thought I had popped a fuse or something worse. Then I realised that the stereo works best with power so I thought it would be a good idea to turn the key on. Duh!

06/01/2004I figured it was time to get the front brakes checked out as the car would pull to the left when doing burnouts. Magoo Mufflers in Riccarton did the work and they confirmed as I had suspected that the right caliper needed servicing. So with a flush, new pads and having the caliper recondition I now just have to touch the brake pedal and the car responds. So much better than before. However, my rotors are at the minimum thickness and can't be machined any further so at some point in the future I'll have to get new rotors.

16/11/2003This weekend I took the car for its first long open road run with the new transmission installed. The fuel savings was noticeable, going from 19.8mpg with the old 200C transmission, to 23.2 with the 700-R4.

I also bought a new large rear anti-sway bar for the car (24mm), and picked up an electrical aerial. My old one was broken by the guys who painted my car. Fortunately this aerial was free and it came from out of a 1989 GTA.

11/11/2003I bought a new O2 sensor for the car, hoping to improve my fuel economy. I'm not so sure it helped a great deal. But at least I know now that I have a new sensor since I didn't know how old the other one was.

20/10/2003Monroe rear shocks installed. The hardest part of this install was peeling the carpet back to get at the top of the old shocks. As expected, it did make a difference to the handling of the car. I think I still need subframe connectors to help stiffen things up a bit though.

25/09/2003Earlier in the week I took my car in to have the 700-R4 transmission installed, and today I got it back! The trans shifted better than a factory unit as it previously had a shift kit installed and so some of oil galleries had been enlarged. I felt like Christmas had come early!

The car cruises at 1900RPM at 100km/hr (60MPH) in 4th with the Torque Converter Clutch (TCC) engaged via B&M lockup kit. This is about 900RPM less than the old transmission. Around town driving at 50km/hr in 4th with the TCC disengaged the car pulls roughly 1300RPM.

Because of my 3.23 rear and now having a 1st gear ratio of 3.06:1 (used to be 2.74:1) and having an already very torqueful 305, the car is developing too much power down low. With tyre pressure cut by 50% to 15PSI for drag racing, the car will spin the wheels in reverse with a quick stab of the accelerator, and I'm using 235 wide tyres. The tyres break traction momentarily when changing between 1st and 2nd and although it's kinda cool to chirp the tyres, it's wasteful.

I have to look at altering the car to plant the rear end to the ground rather than sag.

I sourced some upper mounts from Charlton Auto in Gore, and the rubber in them were better than what I had. I took one to a shop so they could replace the bearing and after having a heart attack at the price, I decided I would look into replacing the bearing myself. This was such an easy job and I felt a bit silly that I didn't do the first bearing myself too.

09/08/2003Earlier in the week I purchased some Monroe front struts for the car. Having it bounce round going over railway crossings and dips in the road became too much to bare, and was just too embarrassing. Today with some help from a friend I installed the new struts.

I can't believe how awesome the car now feels to drive! My friend noticed I don't have factory springs in the car but whatever is in there, it's great! I've been accelerating the car into tight corners to test the car out and it simply glides round without rolling to the side. The difference is incredible!

However, the upper mounts on each strut need replacing. The bushes and bearings are worn out. I was able to get a right hand side upper mount from American Auto Parts out of a Camaro which I'll put in after I widen the rear mounting slit to fit my car. I just need the left hand side one now.

28/06/2003I decided to tidy up the rocker covers and restore them back to their original Chev blue colour. So, with a paint brush and some paint stripper I removed the old flaky paint. Then after cleaning them up, I applied to each cover two priming coats and then two top coats of Chev blue spray paint. The result was very pleasing.

23/06/2003Took the car for a run to get it nice and warm. Then I unplugged the car's computer at the distributor and using a friend's timing gun I checked the timing. It read 6 degrees at 500RPM - no change needed. Phew! That saved me some effort.

18/06/2003Last Sunday my car refused to start. All it would do is keep turning over, and almost start. I couldn't understand why this was because I had it running fine just 2 minutes previously. I wasted almost a day trying to make it start before giving up.

Then I installed new plugs. I also charged the battery just to be sure, and when I went to start the car it just kept turning over again, but wanting to start just that little bit more. After approximately 15 seconds of cranking, all of a sudden the car roared to life and came to a nice idle at 500RPM. I took the car for a run on the open road for an hour just to clear its lungs. It was fouled plugs which had caused the problem and in conjunction with having removed the fuel vapour system the car has worked better than ever. It starts better and consumes less fuel.

14/06/2003Took the transmission to a guy who knows 700s inside and out to get its condition assessed and to give it an overhaul. I said I'm not in a hurry and to take his time looking at it.

For a little while the car had been skulling a little more fuel than usual so today I decided to investigate why. I found that the rubber hose that goes from the TVS purge valve to the cannister control valve had a nice split half way through its diameter. Ello ello, what have we here then, a nice large vacuum leak hmmm?

I discovered that replacing the hose was a fruitless exercise as the purge valve was faulty as it allowed air to pass through it when the engine was cold. Since it was for the fuel vapour system (therefore not an essential component to car function), I decided to remove it and the related components, blocking off what they connected to to evaluate how the car would run. I measured the vacuum off the carburetor where the THERMAC system usually connects and I'm getting about 19 inches. I plan to hook a gauge up to the manafold eventually to study what the car is doing during various driving conditions.

04/05/2003Today I bought a 700-R4 transmission from out of a 1989 Camaro, aluminium drive shaft (in exchange for my existing steel drive shaft), and a 4 stage shifter, all at a good price.

The plan will be to beef up the transmission eventually so it will be suitable to sustain the strain of drag racing, and obviously have it installed. A four stage auto with an auto lock up converter is going to give some excellent open road mileage.

28/03/2003I'd been experiencing a strange problem that when the car was started, the choke light would stay on and at slow speed would produce a very irritating squeak, which disappeared at high speed. Use of the indicators interferred with some of the gauges. I thought it was a bad earth at first but after wading through the factory manual looking for clues, I discovered that it was indeed the alternator. I got this rebuilt by Riccarton Auto Electric as it was cheaper to have it rebuilt than to buy a reconditioned alternator that was physically too small to fit. The alternator outputs 85A.

04/03/2003The engine had been making a horrible ticking sound for some time, as if someone was tapping metal with a hammer. After some diagnostics, I replaced the fuel pump and the sound went away - hooray! I love it when it's a cheap fix!

07/01/2003New exhaust system installed. The catalytic converter was removed and 2.5" pipe was used throughout while having two mufflers at the back to keep a factory look. Although the factory manafold is still presently installed until I can afford header pipes, I've noticed a difference in performance.

I had high flow quiet mufflers installed as I didn't want the whole world hearing me. I believe a car should sound good but not at the expense of your hearing. The car now has a more pronounced deep, gentle, but not loud, throbbing rumble that you get with a V8.

The work was done by Magoo Mufflers in Riccarton, Christchurch and they charged me a good price for the work they did. I was quite pleased.

24/11/2002Today I entered the car in the Christchurch Santa Parade. I had hoped to have the scanner completed but I had made a big mistake with the electronics and I simply ran out of time to have it all ready. Instead I rigged all the bulbs to light up at the same time with no scanning. However the power feed had a bad connection and it didn't last for the whole parade. Not to worry, better luck next year.

09/11/2002Tomorrow is USA day and today I painted my wheels silver and installed the black Pontiac hub caps. The weather was hot and therefore fantastic for having the paint dry so I was able to apply two coats of primer and two top coats of silver wheel rim paint. The car looks more like KITT now that the wheel rims are not gold.