Author Topic: The 14 Car Performance Therapy project Rushforths, Baers, Yokohamas and more  (Read 141103 times)

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As some of you know, I won the grand prize in the Performance Therapy Online Photo Contest a while back with a photo my bud John Hendrick took at the Sebring road race track. Some of the prizes awarded included a Set of Yokohama tires, a set of Rushforth wheels, and a set of Baer brakes which are going on my 70 Firebird.

I'm going to try to provide a lot of information in this thread that may help others learn about these products and installation. DISCLAIMER : I am not an expert in suspensions, Tires, Wheels, or Brakes but will try to offer information based on my previous experiences (including mistakes lol) and what I learn along the way installing these products.

My old Yokohamas were worn out so that worked out perfect. I'd been holding off for a few years on bigger brakes because that required bigger wheels AND tires! The combined expense was out of my budget so I just kept running the stock style single piston front/drum rear brake setup with 17" wheels and some sticky Yokohama AO32 tires. I had a lot of problems keeping brakes on the car at road courses and kept making improvements with braided lines etc. until I got to the point of running a dedicated set of track brakes using race pads and custom made race shoes with one set of rotors and drums and a completely different set of pads, rotors, shoes, and drums for the street.  I've been switching everything and replacing the fluid before and after every track event. The rotors got so hot on track I would crystalize them and have to get new ones before the next track event.

So after checking all of my possible options for wheel and tire sizing and talking to Jay at Rushforth about available wheel sizes, I decided on 18" X 10" wheels all around and the newer version of the Yokohama DOT R tires I had before. They are the AO48 in 285 and 295 18's. The 285's up front are going to be a little tighter fit than the 275s I had and will reduce the turning radius a little but I think on track they'll be great in the corners. 295's on the rear will be no problem since I had 315's before and they just rubbed a tiny bit, only on track at full tilt when I hit a corner curb too hard and the rear moved the leaf spring setup enough to touch (they were really stuffed in there close). So the 295's will give me a little extra room which eliminates the immediate need for some type of panhard bar or other device I'd been considering to limit rear movement.

Before Todd at Baer passed away he really hooked me up with some killer brakes! I talked to him about what I did with my car and explained that although the car's pretty and photographic, I'm more about function and that I'd rather have brakes that worked well on track than something pretty. I'm no brake engineer so I left it up to him and he went way out of his way, and beyond the call, to hook me up with a set of 14" slotted rotors (all around) with their 6P 6 piston calipers, parking brakes, and an adjustable proportioning valve for the rears. To top it off they sent them in their "Nickle" finish!

I've been daily driving The 14 Car on the street and no track days in a while so there's no numbers etc. on it now, but here's a "before" pic. I can't order the wheels until I get the brakes installed so I can measure for the backspacing required.

http://www.baer.com/products/calipers/index.php
http://www.rushforthwheels.com/
http://www.yokohamatire.com/tires/advan_a048.aspx

« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 08:34:58 AM by mrbandit »
John Paige
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Tires are the limiting factor to any suspension upgrades that increase the handling capabilities of the car since the contact patch, compound, tread pattern, and casing design combine to provide the connection of the vehicle to the pavement. For a car like mine that gets used on road tracks we use a wide, soft compound tire, that has big tread blocks. It is a type of tire designed for track days on full size road courses that is still barely streetable and carries a DOT # so it's legal. These are road track tires which require a certain amount of heat in them to function at their best so the first lap or two on track brings the tires up to temperature. Tires designed for auto-X are different and do not require the warm up that road track tires do. Our first couple laps is like a drag car warming up slicks to get them sticky.

A wide tire gives a bigger footprint and with the larger contact patch comes increased traction. At 285 mm front and 295mm rear these tires are almost a foot wide, about double what the stock factory tires were! Double the width, double the grip = double the FUN!!

These Yokohamas have a treadwear rating of 60 which is very low and indicates a soft compound so you wouldn't expect to get a lot of street miles out of them. I don't care about longevity. Chances are, the tires will start to dry and loose their grip in a 3-4 years before I wear them out anyway. At least thats what happened with my last set and 6 years is max tire life. Yokohama makes these AO48 tires in 2 different types. One for lightweight cars and one for heavier cars like mine. The difference in construction helps keep the tires in the optimum heat range for the rubber compound to provide the most grip. If I ran the tires designed for the lightweight cars on mine, the tires would overheat, and become "greasy" by the middle of a track session. Tire life would be greatly reduced.

The tread design on these tires is designed to channel water in rain if necessary (road course track days do not stop for rain) and keep the tire DOT legal. The large blocks provide a very stable connection to the pavement. The taller and narrower the tread blocks are, the more the blocks can move (squirm) and on road tracks cars with tires like that are limited by the tires.

The rounded casing design of these tires provides a good contact patch and smooth transition from full braking to cornering loads and again when rolling back into the throttle through the turn with a predictable feel. Tires like these don't squeal around corners so the driver has to pay more attention to how the car "feels" through the steering wheel and seat of the pants.

http://www.yokohamatire.com/tires/advan_a048.aspx

John Paige
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Before I won the contest I'd been trying to just have as much fun as I could while retaining an original type single piston front disc/rear drum brake system. Of course I keep replacing the calipers, wheel cylinders, master cylinder etc. and I installed braided flex lines to replace the stock rubber ones. I tried a number of different pads and shoes over the years and the most recent and best setup was having Porterfield race pads on the front with custom made Raybestos race shoes in the rear.  I kept dedicated street pads, shoes, drums, and rotors and swapped everything and bled the brakes before and after every track day. A lot of work, but the race setup worked so much better on track than stock stuff it was worth it. The biggest drawback was that I would get the rotors so hot on track because of the race pads that I'd crystalize them and have to junk them after a track weekend. Now I'm going big time!

As mentioned in my first post, I talked to Todd at Baer for a while one afternoon. After discussing what I do with the car and my personal opinions on things like aesthetics. He came up with the brake package you see below. There's a few reasons for the way I got certain things that I think might be interesting to others considering big brake upgrades. I told Todd I didn't care what color the calipers were so they sent me Nickle plated!

Although the car's pretty and photographic, I am more concerned with the function, performance, and simplicity of things for The 14 Car than I am about the "look". If a couple sponges rubbing on a balsa wood disc would stop the car faster I'd be fine with that, no matter how silly it looked. So given that attitude, some things that the more show oriented guys get in a brake package I have no yearning desire for. Zinc wash rotor coating is a good example. My brakes are going to be used to their limit and so the wheels, spindles, calipers etc. get covered with brake dust at every track event. I clean everything often but I don't need the "show" look of the zinc. Drilled rotors are another type of option that I don't really need. There's a lot of opinions about drilling rotors that I'm not going to go into here, but for me, I'm good with slotted or solid rotors.

The big rotors are a lot of rotating mass and they will require more power to get them up to speed out of every turn. (read, slow my car down) That mass is also what helps dissipate all the heat generated while slowing the car repeatedly on track. Now, while you might think that the car accelerating slower out of corners will make the lap times higher, the ability to stay at full speed on the other end of the straight longer before braking more than makes up for the slower corner exit acceleration. As an example if I was going 140 MPH at the end of a straight I'd cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. If I can start braking a hundred feet  later than I did with the old brakes the loss of time getting up to speed is more than made up for by the time saved traveling at full speed for an extra hundred feet!

The rotors are a 2 piece design and the calipers are BAER 6P asphalt track 6 piston design with BOTH brake pads moving! (inside joke). The fronts come on a dedicated spindle for the 2nd gen F bodies and the rears are designed to work on the Ford style Moser tapered bearing housing ends I have on my 10 bolt GM rear. These calipers use a modern Corvette design pad so replacements are readily available in different compounds.







The rear brakes are also 14" rotors with the 6P calipers and include the park brake that fits into the center section of the 2 piece rotors. There will also be an adjustable proportioning valve I'm hoping to mount within reach while driving to fine tune the amount of work the rear brakes do.





John Paige
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I've begun working on the upgrades for The 14 Car. Lots of other projects have taken my time during the past year and I haven't done anything.... until today! I decided a while back that since I'll have the car out of commission for a while I'm going to expand on the project of brakes, wheels, and tires. I've been saying I was going to do several other things to the car and so I'm going to take the opportunity to do everything at once. On top of the brakes, wheels tires I'll attempt the following. We'll see how it goes, and hope I don't slide down the slippery slope too far!

1. Replace core support. Mine was rusted out when I bought the car 20 years ago. None were available repro or used, so I fabricated a new bottom section so the radiator wouldn't fall on the ground (literally). I got a good used one from Arizona Rust Free about 6-7 years ago but never put it in. So the plan is to strip, paint, and install it.

2. Replace hood. My hoods not a real TA hood, just a stock hood with a hole cut in it. A guy in an Alfa Romeo lost an engine at Palm Beach International just as I was about to pull out to pass him. Some chemical from his engine damaged the paint on my hood and shaker scoop. So now's the time to paint and install the new hood. I bought a nice TA hood maybe 10-12 years ago but never installed it because I'd need to paint it. I'll have the paint out for.......

3. Repaint front spoiler. I hit a chunk of 2 X 4 that flipped up on a highway south of New Orleans while on vacation that took a chunk of paint out of the spoiler. Then I started going fast enough on track so the air pressure was folding the center of the spoiler straight down which the paint didn't like so it started peeling. If you've seen pics of my car with stickers on the front spoiler it was to hide the peeling paint ! LOL

4. Spoiler extension and splitter. Aerodynamic benefit and the supports will keep the stock spoiler from flexing so much at speed. Another thing I've been saying I'll get to. Since I'll have everything apart and be painting, now's the time. I've been working on a design, will try to make it a reality.

5. Custom front valance. Already have a spare valance to work with that's better than the one on my car. Gotta design in mind, will try to make it a reality.

6. Rear diffuser. Again I have a design in mind and will see how it works out.

7. Install NOS Hooker side pipes. I bought a set of side pipes a couple years ago to replace the ones on my car. The ones on my car are limiting performance because they are not headers to side pipes, but regular exhaust manifolds with custom bent exhaust tubing to the side pipes which have a fake "header" section on the front of them. They look cool (to me) but limit the engines performance to reach my speed goals. Drawback is the new pipes are black and so the "look" of the car will need to change. I'm considering a couple options.

8. Install foilers. Foilers are wheel well flares like the ones TAs come with but they fit behind each wheel. I bought a set about 10 years ago but never painted them or installed. Since I'll already have the paint out.....  However there may be a glitch in the installation because the new side exit headers that came with the sidepipes may interfere with the front ones, we'll see.

9. Install trunk filler panel and trunk lid. Again, parts I bought long ago and never installed. My current deck lid is a stock non TA one I drilled holes in to install a spoiler and I have a better filler panel to use now.

10. Put the car on a diet! I added 200 lbs. of roll cage and adding a spoiler extension, splitter, and diffuser will add more. I would like to figure out some ways of getting that back out of the car. It weighed about 3500 lbs before the safety equipment install and I'd like to get back near that weight if possible. So while I've got the car torn apart I'm going to look for some places to do some automotive liposuction.

So I started the project by getting out the core support and stripping it. Gave it a good scraping to remove undercoating, wire brushed the big stuff off, wire wheeled it to get most of the heavy remaining deposits, and then sandblasted it with an Eastwood outdoor style blaster and wire wheeled it some more. I'll sand it before more work is done to it. I'm going to add some metal to stiffen it up where it attaches to the sub frame.







John Paige
Lab-14.com

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Finally paint day came for the core support after waiting through a week of wind. I used some Chassis Saver which is a single stage rust encapsulating type of paint by Magnet Paint.

Here's my high tech mixing station! I use a HVLP jamb gun for jobs like this. The biggest hassle is making a way to hang the gun so the cup stays upright. READ DIRECTIONS (and follow them) for any type of paint.





Here's my spacious booth complete with a tropical theme. Banana, Plantain, Papaya, Mango, Avacado, Yuca (Cassava), Areca Palm, and Almond background.



John Paige
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Before tearing the car apart I wanted to make some patterns for the spoiler extension and splitter I'm going to fabricate. Once the car is up off the ground it will be difficult to check ground clearance etc.

I placed a piece of cardboard about 3" off the ground under the front end and used a plumb bob to create an outline roughly the same as the nose of the car. From what I've read, the ideal splitter lines up with the front of the car. So I figured I'd use that as a starting point and shorten if I feel like it later.



With the height and outline done I made a piece approximately the size I'll need for the spoiler extension.



Test fitted the foilers for the back of the rear wheel openings. It's going to take some time to fit them nicely. Not sure if I'll be able to use the ones behind the front wheels because the side exit headers may be too close. We'll see.




So after shuffling cars around to make the garage available without being crowded I've started taking things apart. I swapped out the 2.41 rear I normally use for street, road courses and Land speed racing for the 3.73 rear I use for drags. Then stuck the Mickey Thompson ET Streets on there so if I need to roll the car around while I'm working on the rear to install the Baers I'll be able to. I need to upgrade the rear axles to 1/2" wheel studs to match the front so the axles have to come out anyway so I can line everything up nice and straight in a drill press. I figured I might as well just pull the whole rear to make it easier to work on.

1st thing, get the car in the garage ALONE!



I work alone so swapping rears is a little tricky. First thing was battery disconnect and suck the fluid out of the master cylinder since all the brakes are coming out. Then remove the swaybar brackets,  brakes, and disconnect the brake line flex hose and park brake cables. Then remove one shock and lower plate and swing the other lower shock plate out of the way. I carefully jack the rear while balancing it and shift it to the side without the shock, tip it down then shift it back the other direction by rolling the jack. This way I don't need to remove the springs.





After swapping rears and removing front wheels so I can work on swapping the spindles.

John Paige
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I was stuffing a lot of tire in stock wheelwells up front with the 275's on 9.5" rims and now I'm going to try 285's on a 10", so backspacing is important. I could touch the swaybar with the tires at full lock and it rubbed the powdercoating off. I'm concerned about backspacing when ordering the new wheels so I haven't ordered them because I was afraid if the new brake combo moved the wheel flange out I'd be in big trouble. So I figured better to install the new brakes and spindles and measure before ordering. I will loose some more turning radius and plan on installing limiters on the lower control arms. The types of driving I do with this car don't require extremely sharp turns.

With the original spindle and rotor still in place I used a straight edge to put some tape markers on the car and floor so I could line up the new combo and see if there was a difference.





The first step involved in swapping out the spindle assemblies is removing the brake lines at the frame mounts where the flex tubes end. Since I replaced the flex lines with braided about a bit over a year ago I figured everything should come apart easy, right? WRONG! LOL The passenger side gave me a hassle so I did what anyone irritated would do, yup, I got a big pair of linesmans pliers and cut the hardline. AHAHAHA. I make new brake lines all the time so no big deal. Just would have been nice not to have to make that one from the line lock solenoid over to the passengers side since it was fairly new.



So after making quick work of the stubborn brake line I moved on to removing the spindles with everything attached. The Baers come all set up on a new spindle so all thats necessary to swap the setups is loosening, separating, and then unbolting the tie rod end and upper/lower ball joints. After putting the new assembly in place I checked my tape marks and was pleasantly surprised to find no change in the wheel flange position so I can easily calculate backspacing for the new Rushforth wheels based on the old wheels.



Because I'm concerned about weight I weighed the stock vs. Baer spindle assemblies fully loaded. I got out the bathroom scale and picked up one of each and weighed myself and a piece to be sure I was in the accurate range of a bath scale.  I was shocked to find that the new ones were actually LIGHTER than the smaller stock rotor size ones! In disbelief I then piled both old ones on the scale then both new ones. Sure enough! The Baer assemblies with giant rotors are about 1-1 1/2 lbs LESS than stock for each assembly! While the rotating mass is heavier because of the much bigger rotor the overall unsprung weight is lower so in theory there would be some slight handling improvement and a beneficial loss of front end weight helping the front/rear weight bias.
John Paige
Lab-14.com

rad400

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Very nice congrats. Great looking T/A.
Conrad
"Nitrous is like a hot girl with an STD, u wanna hit, but ur afraid of the consequences." Brian Hedrick

mrbandit

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I will be following this very close. 

LeighP

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Following this on pro-touring.com....nice mods, John.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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Following this on pro-touring.com....nice mods, John.

Thanks Leigh, I'm posting this thread on several forums because the companies that donated the prizes deserve to get a promotional benefit from their investment. Since I don't do show type stuff hardly anyone ever sees my car in person so hopefully this thread gives them a lot of exposure.

As I mentioned in my last post the 275 17's would hit the Hotchkis sway bar at full lock. The new 285 18 Yokohama tire is 10mm wider and will be on a 1/2" wider rim. The "extra" tire has to go to the inside because I was already at the limit on the outside and moving the tire out at all would result in the tire rubbing the fender lip under max compression.

Having the tire hit the swaybar could potentially be very dangerous. As an example, if I was on track and trying to control a situation where some or all of the wheels were at their limit of adhesion and a front tire contacted the swaybar it might cause that wheel to skid. That would be BAD! Lets say the rear end got loose in a corner and I was trying to correct by steering into the slide. The inner front tire (with less weight on it and therefore less grip) would contact the swaybar possibly locking up that wheel, then I'd probably be 4 wheels off before I even knew what happened!

So here's the rub.



Below is the stock limiter that the spindle bumps into at the end of it's turning radius. The one on the left side limits left turns (right wheel hitting swaybar) and vice versa for the right.



I decided to drill and tap the stock limiter for a 5/16" bolt or threaded rod and use that as a variable adjuster so I can retain as much turning radius as possible. Once the new Rushforth/Yokohama combination is in place I'll adjust the turning radius limiters and lock the adjusters (probably spot weld) so they can't move or loosen up and fall out. "Why 5/16" bolts?" you might ask. Well, 1/4" might bend, and 3/8" would be hard to drill and tap due to the geometry of the stock limiters, also this is a pre metric car so no metric stuff if possible.



Pics below show an Allen head bolt in screwed into the limiter but I haven't decided what will be used for sure yet. The final pic is looking down from the top so you can see how the spindle travel is limited.




John Paige
Lab-14.com

ryeguy2006a

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looks great! Congrats on winning the contest.

1976 Trans Am LS1, 6 speed, C5 12.8" Brakes, LS1 rear 12" brakes, 17" Aluminum Rims, and much more...SOLD
My Build: http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=24465.0

New project: 1968 Camaro with 6?.?0?  5.3 w/ Z06 cam/T56
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=74591.0

LeighP

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The socket head bolt you've got in there looks like a pretty good positive stop.....you may need a smaller thickness head, if so, then a button head socket bolt would do nicely.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


DriveIt

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I can't wait to see the mods finished on this car.  I've had some ideas for several similar mods myself, like the splitter and spoiler extentions.  I've seen the foilers, but I'm wondering how they actually effect the aero's and handling of the car. 

Keep the updates coming! Beautiful car!
Kevin
'78 Firebird Esprit, Oldsmobile 425 on Ethanol

Here's my build.   http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=44268.msg393763#msg393763

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Did I mention how much I hate you. Now I have all kinds of new ideas.  :grin:
Been there, done that, t-shirt is now a shop rag.


LeighP

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Yeah, with all the cool parts out there these days, there is so many great mods you can do to your car.....suspension and braking stuff is soooo cool!
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


Larry

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I've seen the foilers, but I'm wondering how they actually effect the aero's and handling of the car. 

I don't know if they do anything for the aerodynamics, but I've read that the foilers do a great job of protecting against rock chips kicked up the the tires. Besides that, I think they look cool! Looking forward to seeing them on John's car. I'm following this thread with great interest!
Past:        1972 Dodge Charger
               1984 TA 5.0L HO 5spd
               1986 Dodge Diplomat Police Cruiser
Current:    1989 GTA 5.7L T/Top (original owner)
               1999 Suburban LT 4x4 (DD)
Someday:  C5 Corvette
               1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
               1971 Dodge Charger R/T
               1974-ish TA

LeighP

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I ran foilers on my daily driven 76 T/A...rain hail and shine. Did a very good job of keeping the rock chips in check.....the one thing that surprised me, first time I drove my 77 T/A (without foilers) in the rain was how high the spray flys up along side the car.....the foilers on the 76 almost eliminated the side spray up the car.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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I ran foilers on my daily driven 76 T/A...rain hail and shine. Did a very good job of keeping the rock chips in check.....the one thing that surprised me, first time I drove my 77 T/A (without foilers) in the rain was how high the spray flys up along side the car.....the foilers on the 76 almost eliminated the side spray up the car.

There's been discussions about the foilers reducing turbulance behind the tires but whether it's worth the weight gain? Who knows? Anyone whos been in the burnout box at a strip in a bird will tell ya cleaning the mess off the lower fenders is a royal pain!

So I took off the chrome sidepipes because I'll be installing the NOS black Hooker ones. 

I'd prefer chrome, but thats probably not going to happen since the new ones I have are black and chroming them would be expensive.. Black pipes will make the car look like it's higher off the ground so I probably won't leave them black. It's an optical illusion. Those who were around in the 70's may remember the flat black rocker panel trend, I did it to my 68 Camaro and it instantly looked like it was higher off the ground. As you can see in the pic in my first post my car is not really very low at all as it is compared with the current drop & tuck trend in the PT community. I've even been told I have too much "gap" above the tire. I care more about performance and it seems fine as is on track and at the same time the sidepipes make it appear lower than it actually is because the bottom of them is lower than the rockers. The effect is noticable more in person than in pics so I'm thinking about painting them.

Because I care more about performance I'm giving up the chrome pipes even though I really like the look of them. As you can see below the front section is just a faux header with only one of the tubes flowing exhaust. When I originally installed them I had the stock 350 2V engine with a single stock exhaust system. So upgrading to actual "dual" exhaust was a big step up ! AHAHAHA  Even using stock exhaust manifolds! Since then I installed a bigger engine which is limited by the exhaust and the small (575 CFM) carb I've been using with the chrome setup. Car runs great and drivability is good. Throttle response is great but I'm leaving a lot of available power unused because the engine is kind of corked up.

The chrome pipes are great for an around town cruise night car and I've run high 13's at the strip and up to 140 MPH on road courses and at land speed races, so for what I was doing before they were fine. Now that I've got all the safety equipment in place to run up near 200 MPH I'll be building for more power eventually and the new full headers will be necessary. You just can't easily push enough air through stock Pontiac D port exhaust manifolds to make 600-700 HP.

So anyway, here's my old setup. The front and rear sidepipe sections were NOS pieces when I installed them but were from 2 different sets. They were different diameters. I had aluminum spacer collars made close to size by a bud in a machine shop then hand sanded them to an interference fit. I had a local exhaust shop bend up the sections that run from the faux header sections to the stock exhaust manifolds. I fabricated some T shaped mounting brackets that get bolted to the pinch weld at the bottom of the rockers. I used sway bar end link bushings to mount the pipes to the brackets so the engine movement and flex of the car over uneven roads etc. wouldn't crack the pipes.

I'll have to determine a good way to mount the new ones which are longer and heavier. I may try the same style brackets to the pinchweld.







John Paige
Lab-14.com

LeighP

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John,
I thought they'd stopped production on those side outlet headers a long time ago....I'm assuming these are a NOS set you've dug up from somewhere?
Very cool set up, should work well.
You going to get them HPC coated? Worth the trouble, in my opinion.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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John,
I thought they'd stopped production on those side outlet headers a long time ago....I'm assuming these are a NOS set you've dug up from somewhere?
Very cool set up, should work well.
You going to get them HPC coated? Worth the trouble, in my opinion.

You're right Leigh, production was stopped long ago. Hooker kept the part number active for many years but there was no inventory. I purchased the new (to me) ones from a member here who was nice enough to contact me saying he had a NOS set after reading in one of the sidepipe threads about my desire to get the full header setup to improve performance. I didn't get the brackets and hardware that originally came with them so I've got to fabricate something.

 After I finished up the safety equipment upgrades I had no intention or budget to do any more upgrades to the car for a long time. Initially I'd planned on about a $3,000.00 project and ended up at over $10,000.00! So while wining all the new products was really nice, I have no budget for all the incidentals to install everything on the car and do all of the "as long as I'm here" things. Hopefully selling the chrome sidepipe setup and the previous wheel/tire combo will cover the costs of this project. So with a limited budget I probably will not be able to get any special coating on the pipes.

The other thing I try to keep in mind, is that my car is NOT a show car. It's become a sort of track/race car that I can still drive on the street. It's been built using primarily used parts and I always keep in mind that I may ball it up on track one day and have to walk away from a total loss with no insurance coverage. With that thinking, a lot of the aesthetic, comfort, and modernizing things the PT guys do I don't bother with. I've never sent anything out for powdercoating as an example. There's no sound deadener or fancy stereo. Parts get the Krylon touch, or shot with a spray gun and get installed. Nothing says "I wasted my money" like a billet encrusted powdercoated mass of crumpled metal and carbon fiber stuffed into a tirewall or Jersey barrier at 100 MPH +. So the sidepipes will probably just get a fresh coat of paint and be installed.
John Paige
Lab-14.com

LeighP

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If you have access to a sand blaster, blast the headers clean and use POR15 Black Velvet (I think they are still calling it that)...hi temp paint for exhausts.
Its the only paint i've seen that stands up on headers...friend used it on the headers and side pipes on his flathead powered 34 Ford hotrod...good stuff. Way cheaper than coating it!
I knwo what you mean about budgets...I have all these wish lists for my 71...then I have the reality of how it's going to be..... 
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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If you have access to a sand blaster, blast the headers clean and use POR15 Black Velvet (I think they are still calling it that)...hi temp paint for exhausts.
Its the only paint i've seen that stands up on headers...friend used it on the headers and side pipes on his flathead powered 34 Ford hotrod...good stuff. Way cheaper than coating it!
I knwo what you mean about budgets...I have all these wish lists for my 71...then I have the reality of how it's going to be..... 

Now I know where my missing wish list went! You used it for your current build! I've got a few ideas I'm pondering and although the sidemount headers are too big to fit in even the biggest cabinet available to me I also have access to the same outdoor blaster I used for the core support. I've got time to figure something out because I've got a long way to go before I get to the reassembly point of installing the exhaust. Heck, I haven't even got everything apart yet! AHAHAHA
John Paige
Lab-14.com

LeighP

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lol....I look at some of the cars on Pro-touring.com - you know, the ones that get assembled in a month and end up on a stage at SEMA then are out thrashing around at the track later.......and I think, if I had that budget, I could do..............  :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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As many of you know to replace the core support on this car everything from the firewall forward has to come off except one fender. On most old cars that's not too bad of a job but the early 2nd gen birds with a front spoiler have a lot of pieces and LOTS of bolts! So a couple hours here and there over the past couple days when I had time and it's all off. Since I will be pulling the engine/trans and running lots of new brake lines etc I figured there was no good reason to leave one fender in place so I just took everything off.

 



In previous posts you saw the new (to me) core support. These early 2nd gen Firebirds were notorious for rusted out core supports. The wide openings under the bumper with no grills allowed leaves, papers etc. to fly in and hit the radiator then drop when the car stopped only to slowly rot there because there was no place for the debris to get out. It just sat wet from rain and washing on the lower part that holds up the radiator. The core support was the worst part on my car when I bought it, and remained the worst until today, while pretty much everything else on the car was reconditioned/replaced.

Many, many years ago I made a sheet metal section from frame rail to frame rail to support the radiator and eventually found a pretty good core support to replace the original with. BUT, I knew how big a job it was to replace and procrastinated, year, after year, after year. AHAHAHA So here's the pics of the rusty one. Due to rust the only thing connecting the top and bottom is the latch support bracket which will be refurbished and moved onto the new core support.





John Paige
Lab-14.com

mrbandit

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As hard as some of the pics show you running it I'm surprised that you didn't have the front end deform on you with that core support. 

critter

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Seems to be a theme here, huh John? I said the same thing over in the pro-touring forum, Mike. I've seen some eat up core supports but this one is in my top 10. I'm glad to see him fixing it while he's in for all the other mods.
Been there, done that, t-shirt is now a shop rag.

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I pull engines fairly often and I don't like a big mess. The first thing I do is go to the local appliance store and get a large box from a refridgerator to cut up and lay under the car. If one piece gets all soaked with a fluid I've still got 3 more to make another mess! Siphoning certain fluids is another thing I do to keep things clean and neat. Most (but not all) radiator petcocks are not in a place that's both easy to reach and they don't usually pour the fluid in an open enough area to easily collect the fluid without it running all over suspension/steering components or the frame or core support creating multiple waterfalls under the car. So I siphon the radiator. Then I remove one end of the lower hose to drain the rest of the fluid into a bucket without the geyser that happens if the system is full. Then there's usually only a small amount of fluid that spills out when I pull the engine from whats left in the block. On this car I did this before removing the sheetmetal knowing I'd need the fluid out eventually.



Next is the Automatic transmission. Lots of stock trannys require dropping the pan to drain the fluid and it can make a big mess real fast if things go wrong. So I siphon the trans fluid out of the dipstick filler tube opening after removing the filler tube. Then the trans can be removed without dropping the pan and just refilled after reinstalling if there's no need to get into the trans.



With the fluids taken care of (no need to drain oil in this case) I support the trans with a jack and hook up the engine hoist with the chains just snug so the engine and trans can't fall and then remove the bolts holding the engine and trans together, the bolts holding the flexplate to the torque convertor, and the trans crossmember bolts. A slight tweak with a prybar between engine and trans housing slides the trans back far enough to remove the engine. Then remove the engine mount bolts and out she comes!

John Paige
Lab-14.com

LeighP

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I like your idea on draining the pan first. If I've got the front off, I like pulling the engine and box together, especially with those load levelling slings - those are great!
Another great item is these plastic gearbox output shaft plugs you can buy from places like summit...a few bucks, and they slide onto the output shaft and keep oil in the box, and dirt out of it.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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I like your idea on draining the pan first. If I've got the front off, I like pulling the engine and box together, especially with those load levelling slings - those are great!
Another great item is these plastic gearbox output shaft plugs you can buy from places like summit...a few bucks, and they slide onto the output shaft and keep oil in the box, and dirt out of it.

I like pulling the engine and trans together sometimes too Leigh. Particularly if parting out a car or if I'm not worried about scuffing paint or crushing the brake line on the back of the crossmember. Chevy engined 2nd gens seem easier to do that way being narrower.  The oil filter on Pontiacs and the closeness of thelarge diameter power booster for the brakes on early 2nds makes it tight. If I do engine/trans together on a Pontiac engine I remove the oil filter adapter. In this case I didn't have enough space in front of the car to be able to roll back the hoist enough to do it that way with the extra length of the trans. Good point on the trans plugs!
John Paige
Lab-14.com

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With the engine out I moved the trans forward to clear the crossmember, removed the torque convertor, and dropped the trans down and moved it out of the way. I've got a T-400 that will be replacing the T-350 and I'm giving the 350 to a bud who needs one for a late 2nd gen TA with a mild Pontiac 400 he's building for his wife. He's a hardcore Ford guy and it's killing him to build the TA she wants AHAHAHA. Wait till the wife feels the tires chirp when it hit's second with the shift kit and the stock stall convertor!

So engine and trans out with no big muss or fuss other than a couple little drips of trans fluid on the cardboard from removing the torque convertor.



Once the trans was down and safely out of the way it was time to get the engine on a stand. For you guys reading to get tips, here's a few. Remember, engines are heavy. Keep yourself out of positions where if something goes wrong you could be be pinched against a solid object (including floor). Pick up all tools etc. and get them out of the way before putting the engine on a stand. Clean work area is a safer work area!
1. Don't forget to remove flexplate before putting an engine on a stand.
2. When choosing a stand for a big heavy engine with accessories like this one DO NOT use a stand with only one wheel in the front, they're more "tippy" and you'd be amazed how quick an engine can flip and crash (I've seen it happen). Use a stand with double front wheels for any big heavy engines.
3. Check the bolts you're going to use to bolt the engine to the stand (no, the bellhousing bolts will not work) to be sure the shank of the bolts will not protrude and bottom out on the block. Space the bolts with washers if necessary.
4. Bolt the stand adapter to the block while the engine is hanging with the bolts loose. Then center the part that slides into the engine stand. Tighten up all the bolts. DO NOT overtighten, nothing trying to pull the engine off the stand.
5. Pick up the stand itself, and slide it on the adapter. Insert the pin that keeps the engine from being able to rotate on the stand.
6. Gently lower with attached stand.



So with the engine and trans out and safe it was time to pick and move the car so I can get another one back in the garage also while I work on all the parts. I decided to try and combine two great ideas. Wheel cribs and wheel castors. It actually worked very well and is suprisingly stable.





John Paige
Lab-14.com

critter

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Love the cribs and casters. I built cribs to use when I did the 4l80e so I could get the weight of the car on the suspension before setting pinion angle. Then Blocker said he'd keep them at the shop since I didn't have a place to store them.  :-D :-D :-D

He's always bogarting my good stuff. If I didn't need his paint booth one of these days I'd go fetch them.

Keep it coming, John. Good stuff. Between you and Leigh any of these guys should be able to do a god job.
Been there, done that, t-shirt is now a shop rag.

LeighP

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Thanks Chris.
Those cribs look good...I have to build myself a set of those....I've seen them built in sections so you can raise or lower the level of the car in stages.
Great idea putting them on the dollies.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


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As you probably noticed, I don't have a thousand horsepower, fire breathing, twin turbo, monster of an engine lurking under the hood. It's a mild 400 Pontiac engine with pre smog heads and probably a "better" cam. I say probably, because I don't really know much about the engine. It came out of a GTO Judge clone I purchased, and then parted out, after it burned in the owners driveway. That owner wasn't involved in (or knowledgable about) the engine build which was done by another previous owner. When I parted the Judge I cleaned and painted the engine then installed a Canton road race pan, Melling oil pump, Performance Products balancer,  MSD ignition, Flowkooler water pump and topped it off with a new 575 Speed Demon carb I'd bought for the old 350 engine, but had never installed.

 A quick dyno pull showed 265 HP at the wheel (ya, no posi at that time) after going through a T-350 and a 2.72 rear gear. Later drag runs confirmed dyno results using the online HP convertors. Allowing the engine to breathe with some full headers and a bigger carb should show significant gains. Eventually I'll build a more powerfull engine in attempts to hit 200 MPH but for what I've been doing with the car it worked out great and hasn't missed a beat even when on track temps were over 110 degrees. I think not having lots of power actually helps learning how to go fast on road courses because having a "momentum" car requires that you stay "on the line" to keep your speed up compared with a powerfull point and shoot car. Current engine ran high 13's at the strip and about 150 MPH top speed at Land Speed races. Pontiac Torque helped with the high speed runs I'm sure.

The Edelbrock Performer intake was on the engine when I received it. Chrome alternator was from the Judge also and the chrome valve covers were used ones a bud gave me with the chrome filler cap coming from another bud who saw I was using the original painted one on chrome covers and said "Hey, I've got a brand new chrome cap you can have that fits that!".



When I swapped in the 400 I used all the bracketry and starter, power steering pump etc from the original 350. Power steering hoses are still the original factory ones! Think it's about time for new ones eh? I also used the original 1970 wiring brackets for the spark plug wires and other wires. I stripped off the factory coatings, sandblasted and then filed out the wire openings to accept the fatter MSD wires. Then painted and recoated the plug wire separators with tool handle coating to mimic the original look and functionality. I even had the vacuum operated hot air riser functional so you see the heat shield in place still. I'll probably sell off the original wire brackets and stuff to help fund this upgrade project. I'm sure the purists would love originals in nice condition, and I've got aftermarket stuff hanging around I can use. Since I'm in FL now there's no need for the hot air riser to help warm up and it wouldn't work with the headers anyway.



John Paige
Lab-14.com

72blackbird

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John,
You're proven what many of us have known for years- a 400 w/ small chamber heads, good cam, carb and intake, and other performance upgrades is more than capable of delivering serious performance. But if you rev that stock 400 over 5000 rpm for extended periods of time you have a good chance of discovering the weak points of the regular 400 or any Pontiac V-8- the cast rods and the spun-welded 2-piece valves. A refresh w/ some 5140 or 4130 forged rods and forged stainless valves will make that 400 near bulletproof, even with the stock cast crank.

I use alot of shop gear from HFT too- you can leave your flexplate on the engine if you use longer bolts and lug nuts along w/ hardened washers to give you additional space between the engine stand head and the engine.
1977 SE T/A (sold :( )
1974 455 T/A (sold :( )
1972 Esprit restomod
1976 T/A restomod
1975 Formula 400 4-speed donor car
1978 Martinique blue W72 4-speed T/A, hurst tops

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John,
You're proven what many of us have known for years- a 400 w/ small chamber heads, good cam, carb and intake, and other performance upgrades is more than capable of delivering serious performance. But if you rev that stock 400 over 5000 rpm for extended periods of time you have a good chance of discovering the weak points of the regular 400 or any Pontiac V-8- the cast rods and the spun-welded 2-piece valves. A refresh w/ some 5140 or 4130 forged rods and forged stainless valves will make that 400 near bulletproof, even with the stock cast crank.

I use alot of shop gear from HFT too- you can leave your flexplate on the engine if you use longer bolts and lug nuts along w/ hardened washers to give you additional space between the engine stand head and the engine.

So very true Geno, and why I have a 5000 chip in my shift light! I work part time at a machine shop and it's soooooo tempting to pull the engine apart! MUST resist.... Must resist........ I'll build a serious engine eventually, no budget for it now. This whole project was only prompted by the contest winnings and I'm also working on other cars of my own I've got to finish up first before building another engine. 

I've left the flexplates on before when I had engines on a stand but fitting the gasket with the deep pans was a pain without flipping the engine so I figured I'd keep it simple in my post for potential new guys and just say "take it off". Maybe save them the hassle/danger of rotating on a 3 wheel stand because you know there's people who say "I'll be careful" because they already have a 3 wheeler.
John Paige
Lab-14.com

LeighP

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I had a three wheel stand....I think I ended up giving it to someone after I bought a 4 wheel stand.....I saved two different SBCs from ending up on the floor when that 3 wheeler hung up on a crack in the concrete.....no more, someone elses problem, now.  :lol:
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


DriveIt

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I don't know why they even sell 3 wheeled stands, I wouldn't put a 5 horse Briggs & Stratton on one.  I'm considering extending the front beam which mounts the front wheels on my stand and adding gussets.
Kevin
'78 Firebird Esprit, Oldsmobile 425 on Ethanol

Here's my build.   http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=44268.msg393763#msg393763

critter

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I bought one like this the last time around. I've built 2 engines on it so far and it's hands down my favorite that I've owned. Very stable. Too bad it's still made in Ch(eap)ina.

http://www.china-jacks.us/products/1500LBS%20Engine%20Stand-BM10-1500-891.html
Been there, done that, t-shirt is now a shop rag.

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So, 4 wheel stands for Pontiacs is the new unwritten "LAW"!

While most of you were watching football and eating leftover turkey sandwiches Thanksgiving night I went over to the machine shop to drill out my rear axles for 1/2" wheel studs. The race classes I plan on running in require 1/2" studs so that's what I asked Baer to send my set ready for. The fronts were already installed in the new assemblies. I called Baer tach support to be sure I got the same style ones for my Moser axles. Don't want the hassles others have gone through with different thread size or appearance of front vs. rear studs.The gentleman on the tech line that day conferred with a bud at ARP and they decided which studs I needed which I then ordered. The steps below are the old school way of doing this and modern machines can do this much more quickly but if you've got access to a big drill press like I do and want to do it yourself, here's how.

At the machine shop there's a big ole freestanding drill press that's rarely used. Many years ago the shop owner made an adapter to allow drilling out axle flanges which he told me about when I asked about drilling mine. Neither looked like they've been used in 10 years and I've been there 3 and haven't seen anyone use them. Anyway since I knew they were available I figured I'd use them.

First step drag out the press and shim it at the bottom so the drill bit would be straight up and down. I used a small square and a level on the drill bit at 2 sides 90 degrees apart. Shimmed the press at the floor with wood shingles till the drill bit was square with the world.

Next I set the table adapter that would support the axle flange so it too would be flat and square with the world. The table adapter has a couple holes in it that allow offsetting the axle shaft so the hole that needs to be drilled can be lined up with the drill bit.

First step is taking out the "little" 7/16" studs. Support axle flange on a vice and plink them out with a big hammer.



Next set up the axle on the press adapter and  install a bit the size of the original holes (7/16" in my case) in the chuck. Then double check the axle flange and bit to be sure they are square to each other. Because I'm reusing the axle bearings I had to use apacers to support the axle flange because the bearings wouldn't fit through the axle hole in the table adapter. For each hole the 7/16" bit gets lowered and lined up through a hole to be drilled and then the flange is clamped in place. To be sure the hole is lined up perfectly with the bit after clamping, release the bit, then lower it again and make sure it slides cleanly through the hole.





With an intermediate sized bit the hole is opened up. Go gentle at the touch off and check the cut to be sure the bit is centered. Use cutting oil to lube the bit.  After the intermediate hole is finished repeate the process using the final bit which should be sized for a 10 thousandths interference fit.



Once all the holes are drilled use a flat file on the flange to clean off the burrs from drilling. Then Install the new studs by supporting the axle flange on a vice and using the big hammer to plink them in. If you did everything right the studs should all be parallel. Check out the size difference in the studs in the bottom pic! I'll put a spot of weld on each stud when I get a minute during the next couple days, it was late by the time I finished so I figured I'd do that later
.



John Paige
Lab-14.com