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Thread: 3100 to 3800 Engine Swap

  1. #31
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Time for another update:

    The 3800 has received lots of cleaning, a new paint job, and several new parts over the past few weeks:


    The oil filter adapter shown here is about the only thing that I've needed to change out so far in preparation for the swap. It's off a 3300 from my Century parts car. The LeSabre's oil filter adapter tucked the filter down closer to the oil pan and would have had interference issues with the A-body lower engine mount. I'll be using the lower engine mounting bracket off the 3300 as well.

    I have noticed that the metal pipes for the heater hoses look like they're going to be an issue. These are the pipes that come off the intake & water pump and lead to the rubber hoses that connect to the heater core. The ones off the LeSabre make 90 deg bends near the back and point off towards the strut tower. Having them point back towards the firewall would be better for the A-body. I could simply cut them off but then I'd loose the hose retention beads that are rolled into the ends. I'm wondering if U-van parts might be the solution for these as well ... anyone know?

    Good call on the intake gaskets Jr. The plastic was cracking around the coolant ports and allowing the silicone beads to distort. Probably wouldn't have been much longer before they started leaking. It must have been a good day at the foundry when this intake was cast because the ports looked pretty decent. Just a little rough along the top edges. This is before I did anything to them:


    I even had the intake professionally inspected


    All I ended up doing was smoothing off the jagged edges along the top of each port. The ports in the heads looked really good to so I didn't even mess with those. After bolting the lower intake back on, I looked down inside the ports and could see that they were lining up really good with the heads.



  2. #32
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    I have a question for you. My father has a '95 LeSabre, and when the water pump needed replacing, the motor mount was in the way of the water pump removal. Is this the case with the a-body mounts?

    Thanks,
    Ken T.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Hi Ken,

    The A-body engine mount is well out of the way of the water pump. Here are a couple pics that show the 3300 A-body lower engine mount on the 3800. I just put the old rubber mount on there for the pics since I haven't bought a new one yet.





    The LeSabre's AC compressor mounting bracket also incorporated some of the mounting provisions for it's engine mount so I ditched that bracket as well. In it's place is an AC mounting bracket that I pulled off an 89 Olds Regency 3800. It too has an engine mount provision but it's down on the bottom & more out of the way than the LeSabre one.

    In addition to attaching to the AC bracket, the LeSabre's front engine mount also had a stud that screwed into the block just above the water pump area. If you look real close at the 2nd pic, you can just barely see the bolt I used to plug the hole where I removed that stud. I put some thread sealer on it since the bolt hole is open into the lifter valley area of the block.

    As a sidenote, I've noticed that both this lower engine mounting bracket (3300 A-body) and AC bracket (89 Regency 3800) are identical to the ones used on the factory installed 3.8 in my 88 Cutlass Ciera ... right down to the unused lower motor mount area on the AC bracket.

  4. #34
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's way beter than Dad's LeSabre. I should've known, the entire front side of my 3100 is free and clear in the a-body.

    That 3800, even in stock form, is one sweet engine. It will propel that LeSabre with ease. The didn't put them on Ward's Best Engines list for nothing! You're car will fly!

    Ken T.

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    Looks really good! Now if you could get some deadbeat to send you some wiring, you'd be all set
    -Andy

    '86 Eurosport VR coupe
    '86 Eurosport sedan
    '88 Eurosport VR coupe
    '89 Eurosport wagon

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    This is a cool project.
    1996 Oldsmobile Ciera, 3100 (LG8), 4T60E w/ 130,000 miles

  7. #37
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Default Time for another update

    Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of progress to report or new pics at this time. I've gotten a bit sidetracked helping a friend fix up his newly acquired 98 GMC K3500 truck. Cleaning up the frame, replacing some rusty fenders, doors, etc. and giving it a paint job. He's wanting to get it on the road asap since his old 88 Chevy truck won't pass the state safety inspection anymore due to frame rust issues.

    I have managed to find enough time to do a little work on the 4t60e transaxle from the LeSabre. I drained out the old fluid and put in a new filter. The fluid that came out was still quite clean and there wasn't much sediment (clutch material) in the pan so that's probably a good sign that it's a fairly healthy trans. The side cover was developing a bit of surface rust in a few places so while it was easily accessible out of the car I pulled it off, cleaned it up, painted it, and put it back on with a new gasket. I replaced the axle shaft seals as well before taking the 3800 off the engine stand and bolting it back up to the trans. So at this point, the engine/trans are pretty much ready to go into the wagon as soon as we get the old 3100 out of there.

    I also picked up a factory service manual for the U-body vans off ebay and I've been busy studying the wiring diagrams. I'm planning on buying the harness/PCM from Andy and it looks as though it will be a pretty good starting point. Not quite as plug-n-play as I had been hoping for but still considerably less work than trying to use the LeSabre harness. So far, I've noticed the following differences between the A-body & U-body wiring:

    (1) The U-body has the wiring for the HVAC blower as part of the instrument panel harness and the wiring for the secondary (pusher) engine cooling fan as part of the headlight harness. The A-body has both of those as part of the engine wiring harness. So the plan is to take the necessary relays & wires out of the old A-body harness and incorporate them into the U-body harness.

    (2) The connector where the engine harness plugs into the instrument panel harness on the driver side (labeled C100 in the FSM's) is different. Looks like I can probably cut that connector off the old A-body harness and splice it onto the U-body harness. The connector where the engine/PCM harness plugs into the under-dash harness on the passenger side (labeled C210 in the FSM's) is also different. Again, I'll probably have to do a cut & splice there as well. And there are a few wires (like ckt #66 "AC request", ckt #120 "Fuel pump feed", and ckt #439 "PCM ignition feed") that are on opposite connectors (opposite sides of the car) so I'll have a bit of re-routing to do on those wires to run them to the appropriate plug.

    (3) The donor LeSabre and U-van both use a vacuum/electric cruise servo that's controlled through the PCM and therefore has wires running from the cruise control switch, through the dash harness, and into the PCM. The 94 A-body has a completely electronic cruise servo that's wired pretty much direct from the switch to the under-hood servo/control. So I'm thinking I'll probably unplug/abandon the existing A-body cruise wiring and make up my own little harness that'll plug into the cruise switch & brake switch and send those signals to the PCM. The U-body engine harness looks like it already contains all the necessary wiring to finish connecting the PCM to the cruise servo.

  8. #38
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Surprising the differences...especially the cruise control. The a-body cruise on '94-'96 is pretty simple though. You should be able to modify it.

    Ken T.

  9. #39
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Hi Ken,

    Yeah, I was a bit surprised with the differences too. At least the "main core" of the U-body engine harness should be a direct swap so I won't have to mess around with any of the wiring that connects the PCM to the various sensors, ignition module, injectors, and such.

    You're right, the 94-96 A-body cruise setup is quite simple and looks to be independent of the engine wiring harness. My only concern with using it would be with circuit #85. In addition to controlling the "cruise" indicator light on Buicks, it's also tied into the 3100 PCM so the PCM can disable the cruise under certain conditions (like engine speed too high, trans in park, neutral, reverse, etc). The 3800 PCM doesn't have that circuit since it's designed to directly control the cruise servo instead of interfacing with a separate cruise module.

    I don't think it'll be all that difficult to make the LeSabre/U-van style cruise work in this car. It uses the same vacuum/electric servo as 93 & older A-bodies so I'm all set there in terms of a mounting bracket. The wiring that connects the PCM to the servo is already part of the van engine harness and can be used as-is. I noticed that the 94 A-body even has the necessary vacuum release type brake switch already installed ... GM just left the hose port (and one of the electrical plugs) unused with the 94-96 style cruise setup. So it looks like the only changes I'll have to make will be adding a vacuum hose and adding about 4 wires from the cruise switch & that unused plug on the brake switch and running them over to the appropriate inputs on the 3800 PCM.

  10. #40
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray_McAvoy View Post
    Hi Ken,

    Yeah, I was a bit surprised with the differences too. At least the "main core" of the U-body engine harness should be a direct swap so I won't have to mess around with any of the wiring that connects the PCM to the various sensors, ignition module, injectors, and such.

    You're right, the 94-96 A-body cruise setup is quite simple and looks to be independent of the engine wiring harness. My only concern with using it would be with circuit #85. In addition to controlling the "cruise" indicator light on Buicks, it's also tied into the 3100 PCM so the PCM can disable the cruise under certain conditions (like engine speed too high, trans in park, neutral, reverse, etc). The 3800 PCM doesn't have that circuit since it's designed to directly control the cruise servo instead of interfacing with a separate cruise module.

    I don't think it'll be all that difficult to make the LeSabre/U-van style cruise work in this car. It uses the same vacuum/electric servo as 93 & older A-bodies so I'm all set there in terms of a mounting bracket. The wiring that connects the PCM to the servo is already part of the van engine harness and can be used as-is. I noticed that the 94 A-body even has the necessary vacuum release type brake switch already installed ... GM just left the hose port (and one of the electrical plugs) unused with the 94-96 style cruise setup. So it looks like the only changes I'll have to make will be adding a vacuum hose and adding about 4 wires from the cruise switch & that unused plug on the brake switch and running them over to the appropriate inputs on the 3800 PCM.
    That's interesting. I've been troubleshooting the cruise on my '95 off and on over the past year. IIRC, there's one lead on the Cruise Controller that is an interrupt from the brake pedal circuit. The problem is that the controller is seeing voltage (only 6v but it's there..) on that lead. I'm lead to believe that's why the cruise will not engage. My '96 has 0v on that circuit. For a while I thought I had a current leak from the ABS controller which also senses voltage on the brake pedal circuit, but a swap was fruitless.

    Anyways, your notes on the cruise were of special interest for me. BTW, the Cierra does not have the "cruise" IP indicator.

    Thanks,
    Ken T.

  11. #41
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Default Another update

    UPS brought me a box of goodies from Andy this morning ... PCM, wiring, upper engine mount, and some heater hose/pipes from the 95 van he's parting out. This stuff is really going to make this swap go a whole lot easier!

    I've still got about another week and a half or so of work left on my friend's 98 GMC. Then I'll be turning my attention back to this engine swap project.

    Ken, That's strange that you're seeing 6v on that brake pedal switch circuit. Have you measured it with the cruise module/servo assembly unplugged to rule out a current leak in the cruise module itself? Yes, I was aware that the Ciera doesn't have the "cruise" indicator ... does seem kind of strange though that GM chose to leave that "feature" off the Olds cluster.
    Last edited by Ray_McAvoy; 08-10-2012 at 01:42 AM.

  12. #42
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray_McAvoy View Post
    UPS brought me a box of goodies from Andy this morning ... PCM, wiring, upper engine mount, and some heater hose/pipes from the 95 van he's parting out. This stuff is really going to make this swap go a whole lot easier!

    I've still got about another week and a half or so of work left on my friend's 98 GMC. Then I'll be turning my attention back to this engine swap project.

    Ken, That's strange that you're seeing 6v on that brake pedal switch circuit. Have you measured it with the cruise module/servo assembly unplugged to rule out a current leak in the cruise module itself? Yes, I was aware that the Ciera doesn't have the "cruise" indicator ... does seem kind of strange though that GM chose to leave that "feature" off the Olds cluster.
    Yeah, servo is unplugged per the FSM instructions. Very strange, in fact, it's been while now, and I don't even believe it anymore. I'm going to retest that circuit once again and see if I wasn't just seeing things...

  13. #43
    Senior Member Ray_McAvoy's Avatar
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    Default Update time again

    Well, I finally got my friend's truck finished up about a week ago and started tearing things apart on the wagon to get ready to pull out the old 3100.



    Most everything came off fairly easily except for the two bolts holding the exhaust pipe to the manifold. Man! are those things ever in a hard to reach location on the 3100 ... off towards the driver side of the "hump" in the floor and nearly blocked by the steering rack. I could get a wrench on them from the top but there was no room to turn the wrench. So I ended up getting at them from the bottom with a long extension and a U-joint swivel near the socket. I'm sure glad the 3800 that's going in has the exhaust manifold outlet in a location where it'll be better centered in the floor "hump" for easier access.

    I went beyond what is necessary to pull the engine/trans and also took off the front bumper & fenders. They're actually quite easy to remove so I figured taking them off would really cut down on the chances of them getting scratched or dented while I'm leaning over them to reach things in the engine bay.



    With the engine/trans lifted high enough to clear, I rolled the car out from under it and backed my old trusty rusty GMC snowplow truck in under.



    There were still a lot of good parts left on the old 3100 so I hauled it over to my storage shed and stashed it in there for now.

    Now the next project is going to be cleaning out 18 years and 200,000+ miles worth of dirt & crud out of the engine bay.



    The engine/trans/cradle assembly in these cars is really designed to come out from the bottom but I don't have a lift so I pulled it out from the top instead. I've done this on some other A-body cars and was able to get by with just unbolting the master cylinder from the booster and moving it off to the side with the brake lines still attached. But on this 94, the ABS unit is attached to the side of the master cylinder and doesn't leave any room to move it closer to the strut tower so I had to completely remove it ... no big deal, just have to bleed the brakes once it's back in there.

    After getting the engine out, I noticed several of the steel lines on the steering rack are starting to get a bit rusty. The pressure line needs to be changed out anyway (I believe a line meant for an earlier A-body with a 3300 or 3.8L like my 88 Ciera will fit the 3800). And RockAuto has a complete return line assembly (with the cooler pipe loop) for only about $20. However, I couldn't find a listing for the two smaller steel lines that connect the valve to the cylinder section of the steering rack. Looks like they come with a reman rack though and with over 200K miles on the car it's probably a good idea to replace it while it's easy to get at with the engine out of the way. So I figured this would be a good time to upgrade to the FE3 rack but I noticed those are only listed for the earlier year A-bodies. Am I correct in assuming the earlier year steering rack will fit this 94 or did GM change something ... the RockAuto site is showing different racks for 82-93 vs. 94-96.

  14. #44
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Nice pics! It's nice to see an 89+ (refreshed a-body) getting some love. Everything in that engine bay looks *very* familiar!

    Ken T.

    P.S. - like that ol' red truck!

  15. #45
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    Another member here recently had trouble swapping the FE3 rack into a newer model a-body. An intermediate shaft from an older model made the swap possible.

    I like the 'ol truck too, I've got a few of that body style myself.
    -Andy

    '86 Eurosport VR coupe
    '86 Eurosport sedan
    '88 Eurosport VR coupe
    '89 Eurosport wagon

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