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Thread: Assorted ramblings and bolt-ons with Daniel and George

  1. #121
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    After some testing with HP Tuners and a trip to the junkyard, I am just about convinced I have a bad PCM. First thing to tip me off was another scan of trouble codes turned up a different set than before. For example, the throttle position sensor code was gone, and in its place was an oxygen sensor code. I swapped out the cooling fan motor with one from the yard, and it did not work. So I commanded it on in HP Tuners, but it didn't turn on at all. It is possible I got a bad motor from the yard.

    I also tested a few other functions, like increasing the idle speed on the fly, and setting timing at 20 degrees advanced static, and that worked. Commanding the transmission into a specific gear did not, however, which is in line with the three trans solenoid codes. The trans currently only has one gear (3rd) unless I put the shifter in 2. So I will be purchasing a new PCM from Mike Miller, since he's basically the only person making a '97 PCM run on a '96 car.

    I also have a transmission lined up. Regardless of the solenoid codes, it is making noises that indicate it is not long for this world. When I posted about the problems in one of the Facebook groups I'm a member of, someone in Ontario, CA, offered a unit from a '96 Grand Prix for less than I would pay locally from a yard. The only difference I know of between a Century and GP trans is the final drive: both have a 3.33, but the A-body has an overdrive chain ratio, while the W-body has a 1:1 chain, so the overall final is 3.33. I've been toying with getting a 3.33 final anyway, so this is a good opportunity to test an upgrade.
    Last edited by Duke George V; 11-27-2017 at 11:19 PM.
    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 214-SFI. 201k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 120k miles. Will be mom's car soon.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for an LR4.



  2. #122
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    That's frustrating about the PCM failure. I am not too familiar with the OBDII stuff -- but some of them have a removable chip (internal flash memory) which can be changed over to another unit in similar way to the old stuff. Have you looked into this possibility?

    I'm sure you will like the peppy performance of the 3.33 ratio! It makes a difference!

  3. #123
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    I'm going to try a couple other things before I fully commit to a new computer. Cooling fan relays are cheap (free) from the yard, and there are a few A-bodies in the yard closest to my house. If that solves the cooling fan issue, it may be that I don't need a PCM. I will also deactivate reporting of some other things, like the cruise lamp and low oil lamp, in the tune file.

  4. #124
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Finally got around to fixing George's face.

    Before.


    Disassembly in progress.


    Reassembly in progress.



    Done.




  5. #125
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Looks great again!
    Jerry

  6. #126
    Senior Member turbokinetic's Avatar
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    Hey Daniel - it's good to see the CrunchyBits replaced with NiceBits again! Good Christmas gift for George!

  7. #127
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Cooling fans still don't work after replacing both relays and both motors. Transmission is still a manual Powerglide. Without 4th gear or torque converter lock, the car is getting 17 mpg, which is objectively shit. Just biding my time until that sweet sweet tax refund drops. Then the fun will start.

    I'm considering changing the starter. It is currently running the stock (replacement) starter from the old 3.1, which has that old school sound, but requires more power to turn than the "high-torque" starter the 3.5 is equipped with. I think I'm going to switch to a high-torque unit. The mounting and wiring are the same, and I found one on fleabay for like $33, which is about half the price of the cheapest one on Rock Auto, and WAY cheaper than Vatozone. The reason I didn't change the starter to the new one is because I don't really care for the sound the new units make. Sounds... foreign. UnAmerican. But if it uses less battery power, so be it.

  8. #128
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    A lot of bullshit occurred over the last week with my fleet of hundred-year-old men. Tuesday morning, popped #3 spark plug out of the wagon when accelerating to get on the highway going in to work. That's a paddlin'. Then my backup car (yellow sedan) needed "new" ignition coils/module and a mass air flow sensor in order to run in any meaningful way. That was a frustrating $50 at the yard considering I replaced the ignition components last summer with new parts. I think the MAF has been a persistent issue since I bought the car 2.5 years ago though. It's running better than it ever has. Also had the wheels rebalanced to eliminate the highway shakes. It's great now.

    Since I don't feel like trying to helicoil a firewall-side spark plug hole on a transverse V6, I got quoted ~$260 at a shop, which I consider to be fairly reasonable. That'll occur when there's more than two nickels to rub together in the budget.

    And just to break up the monotony of me posting walls of text, here's the yellow sedan with the Eurosport VR wheels on it.

    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 214-SFI. 201k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 120k miles. Will be mom's car soon.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for an LR4.

  9. #129
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Tuesday morning, popped #3 spark plug out of the wagon when accelerating to get on the highway going in to work. That's a paddlin'.
    Since I don't feel like trying to helicoil a firewall-side spark plug hole on a transverse V6, I got quoted ~$260 at a shop, which I consider to be fairly reasonable.
    Sorry to hear that, that sucks! That is a better price than I would have expected too.
    Jerry

  10. #130
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    I spent 47 minutes on the phone with Mike Miller, and went ahead and ordered another PCM from him. I've done everything I can to resolve all the issues on this car, but nothing is working. The most pressing is the lack of a functioning cooling fan. Summer arrives soon in Vegas, and while it's fine right now to blast the heater to keep the engine cool in traffic, that's not something I want to have to do again in summer. He said he would get right on it and try to have it two-day shipped out tomorrow or Friday. So I should have it by Monday at the latest.

    We also went over steps I could take to coax some more performance out of the engine, since he agrees with most people I talk to that a 17 second quarter mile ET is not really where the car should be. The biggest bottleneck is, of course, exhaust. I am running the full stock exhaust for the 3.1 that I yanked. The downpipe is the choke point, in his opinion. Something like that should get it breathing better and drop some time, and maybe even return a little better fuel economy. Next would be a 59 mm throttle body and a ported upper intake. Then a 3.33 transmission. All things I plan to do, but I want my car to work right again first.

  11. #131
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
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    Honestly Daniel what would wake it up better is the newer 2000-5 3100-3400 exhaust headers and cross over pipe the exhaust should be the same fitting but if not little muffler shop canít fix . I know u still have emissions there so the cat has to stay but maybe a performance one instead of the stock . Yes it does cost a tad for all that . The tranny will wake it up with the 3:33 for sure .

  12. #132
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Using an LG8/LA1 rear manifold and downpipe is something Mike specifically mentioned. The A-body has an offset downpipe flange, while later cars have a center flange. It would fit, since the exhaust tunnel is centered. If I weren't constrained by a budget, I would have just used the manifolds the LX9 came with, which are about as close as you can get to headers without having headers. The Malibu doesn't use a crossover though, so the exhaust would have to be completely custom at that point.

    I already got turned down at a local exhaust shop, saying that they couldn't be bothered to fab a downpipe for my car. And it wasn't even, like, they quoted me a "fuck off" price, they just flat refused to do it. Not worth it (to them) for the time it would take to fabricate, you won't see any gains on a crappy old V6 anyway, and so forth.

  13. #133
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Hi internet. I have an old car and I fix things on it. Today's adventure involves suspension components! Isn't that exciting?

    First up, something that has been discussed here, but not implemented in the way I'm doing it: van struts! Instead of messing around with changing springs and whatnot, I just went ahead and bought quick struts for a van and slapped them on. They fit just like stock without modification. Part number 171820, available from a couple different manufacturers under that number. (Car struts are 171771) Applications: U-body, 1990-1996.

    Old and busted vs. new hotness.


    I had a helper: my oldest daughter. She did really well for not ever having touched a wrench before.


    Work in progress. Doing a quick strut change on this car is dead simple. Three bolts up top on the tower, two on the knuckle. Don't mind the collapsed CV boot, it worked itself back out.


    Then we moved on to the rear.
    FACE
    DOWN
    ASS
    UP


    Again, old and busted vs. new hotness. I am installing variable rate springs in the rear, Moog CC632. Application: A-body and X-body, all years, apparently.


    Before I tore everything apart. Stone-simple torsion beam suspension. Nothing fancy.


    Passenger side out. This involved unbolting the shock and lowering the axle. I suppose you could undo the control arm as well, but I didn't think of that until well after I was done.


    "Installation is the reverse of removal." Installation proved to be a bit more difficult. Here's me bouncing on the axle while my daughter jams the spring back in.


    Driver's side installed.


    I kicked myself for not taking pictures of it so you all can laugh nervously at me, but I did something that you probably shouldn't when stuffing the driver's spring in. I couldn't get the axle to come down far enough just by applying my own body weight to it, so I got the screw jack out of the back of the car and used that to press down on it by raising it against the body while sitting on the top of the axle. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I probably could have got it to drop if I unbolted the track bar. But, you know, if it's stupid but it works...

    All done.


    IMPRESSIONS
    First off, even through an image, ride height has been altered noticeably. It was weird the first couple times I reached to open the door and missed the handle because it was higher up than I expected. You sort of get used to stuff like that after five years of owning the same car.

    Second, ride quality is greatly improved. The seasickness is all but gone.

    Third, handling is greatly improved. Body roll is diminished.

    Fourth, diving under braking is reduced.

    Overall, I would recommend this upgrade. Once I wear out my current set, I will probably put on some van size tires as well.

  14. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    It was weird the first couple times I reached to open the door and missed the handle because it was higher up than I expected. You sort of get used to stuff like that after five years of owning the same car.
    That's like when you swap in a set of different seats into an old familiar car. Suddenly you're at a slightly different height and everything is just a little high or low!

    Like the quickstruts so far? I have considered buying them but thus far haven't pulled the trigger on it. But I do have one car needing struts soon so I might re-visit the issue.
    1988 Fiero GT 2.8
    2002 Impala 3.4
    2006 Cobalt SS 2.4

  15. #135
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peoria Man View Post
    Like the quickstruts so far? I have considered buying them but thus far haven't pulled the trigger on it. But I do have one car needing struts soon so I might re-visit the issue.
    They are the same price as the ones for the car, so why wouldn't you? Like I said, ride quality and handling are greatly improved over stock.

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