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Thread: 1988 Cutlass Ciera Project.

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    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Default 1988 Cutlass Ciera Project.

    Good afternoon everyone and welcome to my build/repair/history thread. The car in question is a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham. It is white in color and currently off the road. The car was a craigslist find and had only 43,000 miles when i purchased it near the end of last year. The previous owner received the car from the son of the original owner. Now the car appears to have never been driven in winter so was surprisingly rust free for a car that lived in Rhode Island. When i got the car the mechanical end of the spectrum was not so nice. I'm actually surprised the motor could run at all. Apparently the original owner did all of her maintenance at a lube shop. I found a stack of receipts in the glove box and well apparently they also charged her for work that was never performed. Anyway enough with the history, on to the car itself.

    The car is equipped with the LG3 3.8 V6 and the TH 440-T4. It has had the following work done in the last 10,000 or so miles :

    Spark plugs & Wires - Had 5 original plugs and all original wires with one stray Bosch Platinum Plus installed.

    New ignition coils - Had Three different packs. One original, One Unknown and one Valucraft!

    Oil change - Had a Firestone Oil Filter...

    Air Filter - There was rust on the old filter.

    Complete replacement of all vacuum lines - each one was cracked.

    New low beam bulbs - Mismatched set was found.

    New Radiator - Old one Cracked after one month.

    New Water pump and thermostat.

    Complete flush of coolant. PO thought tap water would suffice. Probably contributed to the cracked radiator.

    New accessories belt- PO used one that was the wrong size and missing one rib.

    New tries to replace 4 mismatched ones.

    Alignment.

    New front brake calipers, rotors and pads.

    New fuel filter to replace the fram that was on there.

    New flasher and taillight socket to repair having to pull over every 20mins to fix the bad blinker.

    New suspension all the way around. Original shocks could be bottomed out with my pinky finger....literally.

    Replaced stock radio and all speakers. Because one functioning speaker just would not do for a round of AC/DC or Queen.

    Cleaned and lubricated front door window tracks. Because power windows that don't move stink.

    Pine tree air freshener - Because i don't fancy a car that smells like my toilet after a midnight run to Taco Bell....

    The above was done over the course of time and i drove the car for just over 10,000 miles and loved every second of it. Now onto the project section of this thread. Apologies for the length, i tend to ramble on.
    But first a quick story to preface what i am currently facing. I was doing a search of the forms one day and discovered turbokinetic's advisory on the LG3 nylon timing gear issue and how they tend to fail. I decided i should probably replace the set on mine as with so few miles it was practically a given that the original nylon set was still present on my engine. The repair was going to take place at the end of the work week. In a cruel twist of fate i was driving to work the very next day and right after i exited the highway i heard a very unpleasant "bang" and the engine died. The engine jumped time and failed just two days before i was to install the new timing set. Now we arrive at the present.

    I have decided to pull the entire drivetrain and will be replacing the heads with re manufactured equivalents because machine shops in my area are more then a set of heads through rock auto. The transmission will be rebuilt as well because it has slipped since day one. I will be updating this thread as i go. This will be a long process as i am on call 24/7 for work and have very little time to work on the car.

    I joined this forum both to learn and to help my fellow members keep these amazing cars on the road for as long as possible. Catch you all later!



  2. #2
    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    The drivetrain :


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    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    The car in question :


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    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Current state of the car. Once all this other fun stuff is done it needs a wash!

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    The MIGHTY LG3! What a nice car!

    Ken T.

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    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    The MIGHTY LG3! What a nice car!

    Ken T.
    Thanks Ken! No doubt about it, it's a great motor. I was always amazed how quick it would start. I even managed to start it last winter when the wind chill was -17! There were other cars that were far newer that needed a jump.
    They just don't make them like this anymore.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LG3HDStereo View Post
    Thanks Ken! No doubt about it, it's a great motor. I was always amazed how quick it would start. I even managed to start it last winter when the wind chill was -17! There were other cars that were far newer that needed a jump.
    They just don't make them like this anymore.
    You know it! From the stand point of sheer toughness, that motor probably would be the best in an a-body car. If I wanted to cross the desert or tow a trailer, the LG3 would be my first choice.

    I bought my first a-car brand new off the showroom floor back in 1996. I was pretty disappointed to learn that my Buick wasn't available with a Buick motor!

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member SegaGT's Avatar
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    Beautiful car LG3HDStereo.
    There is something sharp about the white with color keyed mirrors (David's Rock & Roll too).
    Yours being the last year with the big 6 makes it a best of both worlds of classic, modern, and simple.
    My sick mind has Ken finding the Buick cousin coupe in white, rust free, low miles with a great interior for his build.

    I can see all three of you pulling up into a parking lot and blowing peoples mind!

  9. #9
    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    You know it! From the stand point of sheer toughness, that motor probably would be the best in an a-body car. If I wanted to cross the desert or tow a trailer, the LG3 would be my first choice.

    I bought my first a-car brand new off the showroom floor back in 1996. I was pretty disappointed to learn that my Buick wasn't available with a Buick motor!

    Ken T.
    I agree. Any thoughts on why Buick did that? I am by no means an expert, this being my first A-Body.

    Gino.


    Quote Originally Posted by SegaGT View Post
    Beautiful car LG3HDStereo.
    There is something sharp about the white with color keyed mirrors (David's Rock & Roll too).
    Yours being the last year with the big 6 makes it a best of both worlds of classic, modern, and simple.
    My sick mind has Ken finding the Buick cousin coupe in white, rust free, low miles with a great interior for his build.

    I can see all three of you pulling up into a parking lot and blowing peoples mind!
    Thanks SegaGT! Wait until i get the chance to wax this beauty! I love the white color with the red pinstripe. I really lucked out finding this car. Crazy part is i didn't know what a sweet find it was until i got it up and running.
    David's is nothing short of sweet. I've been following the videos with great interest. Here's hoping Ken does come across one. Would be a sweet ride. That would be a sight to see. Though i am not aware of many A-body owners
    up here in the northeast.

    Gino.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LG3HDStereo View Post
    I agree. Any thoughts on why Buick did that? I am by no means an expert, this being my first A-Body.

    Gino.
    It's been speculated on before, but I would guess that the factors were:

    1) Engine packaging across the GM line.
    2) Fuel economy (this was probably the kicker to boost CAFE)
    3) Emissions

    A shame really. The 60 degree is a fine motor, but if I had a choice I've prefer the Buick power in my Buick.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member Tyson's Avatar
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    Sounds like a fun project, and wow - that had really low miles on it when you picked it up. Keep us posted on the progress.
    1986 Celebrity Classic 2.8 (First car - sold)
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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SegaGT View Post
    My sick mind has Ken finding the Buick cousin coupe in white, rust free, low miles with a great interior for his build.
    Just saw this. My sick mind is waiting for the right girl; she's out there somewhere. LG3, 440-T4, Clean, Tip-Top. White would be my preference, but beggars can't be choosers.

    But, if enough time goes by, a LG3 will find its way into the engine bay of my '95 Century Special.

    Ken T.

  13. #13
    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyson View Post
    Sounds like a fun project, and wow - that had really low miles on it when you picked it up. Keep us posted on the progress.
    Yeah i was shocked when i saw the miles. I will be updating as often as possible. If all goes well i should be able to get some more work done by the end of the week.


    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    Just saw this. My sick mind is waiting for the right girl; she's out there somewhere. LG3, 440-T4, Clean, Tip-Top. White would be my preference, but beggars can't be choosers.

    But, if enough time goes by, a LG3 will find its way into the engine bay of my '95 Century Special.

    Ken T.
    Would be a nice swap in a '95.

  14. #14
    Junior Member LG3HDStereo's Avatar
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    Progress has been made!.....

    Engine and transmission have been separated.


    Original Torque converter with part sticker! I don't know why but i was surprised to see this intact.


    The LG3 finally meets the engine stand.


    Let the tear down begin!


    Final shot before the heads come off.


    Ah yes. Bent Pushrods. Can't say i expected anything else.


    The block and pistons don't seem too bad all things considered. This engine will live again!


    Just not with these heads. Impact marks on all 12 valves. This is where re-manufactured heads are actually cheaper. Check out the damage..the other head was pretty much identical.


    Now i start a parts list. I'm hoping within a month or so to have the parts. After the motor is back together i'll shift my attention to the 440T4. Judging from the color of the ATF i'd bet i have bad clutches and seals.
    Ah well that's an update for another time. Catch you all later!

  15. #15
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Hey thanks for starting the thread!

    I am sorry you had this failure of the engine, but hopefully it will add to my warning and help others to avoid it! The pictures definitely look familiar, though...

    With such low mileage this one will be a good car once fixed up. My Olympia had 43,000 on it and I have put an additional 110+ on it and had good service.

    It would be time well spent to take the engine all the way apart and check the bearings. Often the timing gear chips will make their way into the block oil gallery and damage the bearings. It would be a shame to repair the engine only to have it fail from a different reason a few miles later.

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