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Thread: 89 Cutlass Ciera Race Car Build

  1. #421
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    So, for the front suspension, y'all prefer the coilovers to a stiffer spring from a van?
    The uvan springs I think will raise the car a few inches which probably isn't what you want, coil overs will give you more options long term, want stiffere springs switch out to stiffer ones, and you can raise and lower each corner with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    Anything we should plan to upgrade, or at least plan to fail on a somewhat regular basis (other than the general 'everything will fail all the time' mindset)?
    Mostly you want to keep everything you can cool, so oil and trans coolers are a must if you don't have them, also finding a way to get some air to move over the disks can help make them last.



    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    For the gaskets,
    For the gen 3 60 degree engines the lim seems to be the weak point, so if its out I would definetly change it out with the updated heavy duty one, and might as well do the head gasket too while its easy to do.


    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    What seat do y'all use, and how do you have it mounted?
    We have a corbeau fx1. THey've gone up a bit since we got ours, but they are still on the cheaper end of seats and since its a composit seat you don't have to worry about the bracing like the metal seats, plus its really comfy. That being said I know a lot of builds are moving to containment seats which are safer. we have some some square mounted to the cage that it sits in. It isn't adjustable which could be a problem but so far it hasn't been an issue to us.



  2. #422
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    Hey all, so, good news - the parts car runs! We got it started Sunday afternoon after working on it all day. Fun story, none of us had ever worked on a car with multiple crank position sensors before, and we went through all the work of replacing the one on the end of the block, just to turn around and have it be the one on the side of the block that was broken. Oh well, live and learn. We also did a cold compression test, which came back a lot better than we were expecting - most were 180 or 185, one 190, and one 210, which seemed off. But, they're relatively consistent, which is good. We went ahead and put new spark plugs in it while we had them out. The car doesn't run well - we drove it around the block, and it had very little power, was missing a lot, and cut off a few times - P0300 code (it's a '96 so it has an OBD2 system), so we'll be swapping over the coil packs and maybe ignition control module (even though it's new) from the race car, since we know those make that car run well. What little shifting it would do seemed to be smooth, so hopefully the transmission works, but we'll have to get the engine sorted before we can really tell.

    Is there anywhere other than the dash placard that has the VIN on these? The plate on the racecar is missing (the dash looks like it's been out of the car before, but, sometimes cars are super cheap because they've had a sketchy past...) No license or registration, but it did come with a Texas license plate in the trunk. Would be neat to put the VIN through a decoder and see what it started out life as (base, Custom, Limited, special options, etc).

    To Bob, I've read that usually people will cut a coil or two out of the U-van springs to bring the ride height back down to stock (or lower), but, I'm thinking this would then remove some of the stiffness back out. We'll have to see, at least one of my teammates is really into suspension modifications, so he will probably want to move to coilovers just so we can have some tuning options.

    For the failure areas, I meant more A-body specific stuff - I am rather shocked that this car doesn't seem to have any sort of an oil cooler on it, and only has a pretty average sized secondary transmission cooler, but, I guess it worked! We'll definitely be adding an oil cooler, baffling the pan (if it isn't already - haven't had it off yet), and a much larger transmission fluid cooler. They were only using the stock gauges until their last race, where they added a tachometer (would not have been my first choice for a guage on an automatic car). We'll be adding gauges for oil, coolant, and transmission fluid temperatures, oil pressure, and perhaps voltage - maybe not before our first race (we're doing Barber 31Jan-02Feb, so it should be pretty chilly), but definitely after that. So, stuff like wheel bearings, axles, CV joints, tie rods - anything that's not standard racecar stuff that tends to go bad on these? Any fixes? What spares do y'all usually carry with you that come in handy? Luckily, we probably have one of the cars with the easiest parts sourceability, but it's still nice to not have to stop everything and run to the parts store if it can be avoided. Weirdly, they did add some brake ducting for the front wheels - there's some metal dryer hose running from the front of the car around, they said it really did help keeping the fade at bay. But these things have such tiny brakes - my roommate noticed that his Chevy Trax (company car) has noticeably larger front rotors than the Buick does. But, that's top of the list if we have extra time before the first race.

    I was afraid you'd say LIM - I don't want to add too much to our list, but, if it's likely to go out at some point while racing, I'd rather take time out of an evening at home than time off of the track to replace it. We'll look at doing that and the head gasket, although I bet my teammates won't want to since it has good compression (maybe I'll tackle that on my own).
    And seat, I've seen a lot of teams using the FX1, and I guess y'all must like it if you've been running it all this time. You're right though, we are looking towards the containment seat side of things - figure we may as well, since we're running an automatic transmission (and I don't see any reason for that to change).
    Last edited by mthew_m; 12-11-2019 at 12:11 AM.

  3. #423
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    Some have swapped to 92-96 u-van front brakes which are bigger. There was some discussion on it last year, which parts need swapped to accomplish this. You do need 15 inch wheels to clear those brakes.

  4. #424
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlc1976 View Post
    Some have swapped to 92-96 u-van front brakes which are bigger. There was some discussion on it last year, which parts need swapped to accomplish this. You do need 15 inch wheels to clear those brakes.
    I think we're just going to go ahead and try and fit some really good brakes on it, and skip the half-step of going with U-body brakes. I do need to see if there's anything relatively simple we can do to improve the rear drums (I don't think we'll get to a disk brake conversion by our first race), and how dire the need for a proportioning adjustment is.

  5. #425
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    One thing I would do is pull the cranks position wire that runs up to the Ignition control module . Make sure no cracks splits hot spots cause it runs and usually always hits the iron block and wears the casing off to expose bare wire and create a miss fire or cut off while driving . Best spares I carry with my 95 is a few ignition. Control modules from junk yards . Grabbed 5 for 20 bucks threw them in a box for spares . Still driving with a junk yard one for 3 years lol . From 1988 Chevy 2.8 v6 all the way to the 2004 3400 Chevy motors all use the same Icm . You could throw some 1996 -2004 3.8 sc (l67) coils to run little hotter of a coil for smooth idle and little more pick up off the line . All junk yard parts btw . Grab a ohm meter and test the coils at the yard 5.5-6.5 your are good to go By touch each post where the spark wires attach . To lower the 94-6 is kinda hard with the spring cause the bottom perch design is different you have to cut what ever coil length off and shape it to exacly the bottom of the old end . Was the higher number of the compression in the back head ? I feel the rear head tends to blow the head gasket first before the front .

  6. #426
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keiths1976 View Post
    One thing I would do is pull the cranks position wire that runs up to the Ignition control module . Make sure no cracks splits hot spots cause it runs and usually always hits the iron block and wears the casing off to expose bare wire and create a miss fire or cut off while driving . Best spares I carry with my 95 is a few ignition. Control modules from junk yards . Grabbed 5 for 20 bucks threw them in a box for spares . Still driving with a junk yard one for 3 years lol . From 1988 Chevy 2.8 v6 all the way to the 2004 3400 Chevy motors all use the same Icm . You could throw some 1996 -2004 3.8 sc (l67) coils to run little hotter of a coil for smooth idle and little more pick up off the line . All junk yard parts btw . Grab a ohm meter and test the coils at the yard 5.5-6.5 your are good to go By touch each post where the spark wires attach . To lower the 94-6 is kinda hard with the spring cause the bottom perch design is different you have to cut what ever coil length off and shape it to exacly the bottom of the old end . Was the higher number of the compression in the back head ? I feel the rear head tends to blow the head gasket first before the front .
    Keith, good stuff! Luckily we have a spare ICM - they tried replacing that to see if it was the problem, so we'll keep that and see if we can find one or two more from the junkyard. Will keep that in mind about the coils - smooth idle and off-the-line isn't really important for us, but, if we happen upon a good set for cheap, may as well grab them as a backup! And, your intuition is correct - the 210psi is the back middle (against the firewall), and I believe the one that read 190 was the back passenger side - all the others were 180 or 185. So, does that tell us that it would be even more important to go ahead and do a LIM & head gasket before we try to stuff it into the racecar? I'm not hopeless at working on cars, but, I've got a lot to learn about cause-and-effect type stuff.

    But, I have good news! We pulled the car into the garage again last night to try and figure out what was wrong, and my teammate noticed he'd plugged two of the spark plug wires into the wrong holes. After we fixed that, it runs great! Lucky it didn't do any damage or anything. We took it out, it idles good, drives good, has good power, and the transmission seems to shift fine. Not bad for a $330 car! Was a really good feeling, because I was not looking forward to having to chase down the cause of a misfire.

  7. #427
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    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    To Bob, I've read that usually people will cut a coil or two out of the U-van springs to bring the ride height back down to stock (or lower), but, I'm thinking this would then remove some of the stiffness back out.
    Cutting springs actually make them stiffer. Seems a bit counter intuitive but plenty of sites will do the math for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    So, stuff like wheel bearings, axles, CV joints, tie rods - anything that's not standard racecar stuff that tends to go bad on these? Any fixes? What spares do y'all usually carry with you that come in handy?
    we haven't really run into too many problems. Can't remember the year of your car but if your wheels are the 5x115 you already have the heavy duty stuff for the car. We ran 3 races with all the original bearings axles and stuff. We had replace one of the wheel bearings and cv's but that was after some tom foolery behind us had a car ram us off the track on a straight away. (stupid a class cars. Probably 2 of the teams with most experience even since both raced scca and nasa). I'd be sure to have spare pads for the brake, maybe rotors but those tend to last a while. if you check out your ball joints and tie rod ends and stuff before you should be ok, but ours when we eventually replaced them were also all from the factory. I even had to drill out the ball joints because they were the factory ones that were riveted in. If you have any doubts about the ones in the car probably best to try and swap them before since they are budget exempt anyway and you can get better ones off Rock Auto then you will probably find at a parts store. Plus side is so many cars use the same parts you'll be able to find about anything close to the track.

    Quote Originally Posted by mthew_m View Post
    But these things have such tiny brakes - my roommate noticed that his Chevy Trax (company car) has noticeably larger front rotors than the Buick does. But, that's top of the list if we have extra time before the first race.
    The buick is also probably a good 1000lbs or so ligher than the trax. When we ran the stock brakes we could easily last 1 day, the race we tried going 2 we ran out the last hour, which was my stint and being the captain and stupid I figured I'd be fine, which I guess I was but was also pretty dumb thing to do, but we did win IOE so yeah. We also were running the stock 14" Steelies which didn't help. Since we updated to the uvan brakes and got some real nice and light alero 15" wheels we haven't had the problems. Still over half the pads were left after the 24 hour race and we haven't even been using real race pads, just hawk hps. I honestly wouldn't change the rear brakes. Under heavy braking the rear gets pretty light and easy to lock up, we've even had the rears with drums lock mildly. With the drums we have been able to brake as well as anyone, and keep it perfectly straight while braking heavily and they wear pretty slowly.

  8. #428
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    oh btw if you haven't I would suggest you get the factory service manual for your year. Easy to follow instructions on how to disassemble and reassemble everything, and even if you have an experienced mechanic its the best sort for the proper Torque specs for everything. should be available on ebay, mine was like $20 but that was a while back.

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