Author Topic: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project  (Read 38545 times)

TATurbo

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1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« on: March 27, 2015, 10:01:28 PM »
Hello TAC. 
Well I've finally made it to a point in life where, after almost 20 years of down-time, I can finally start rebuilding my 1981 Turbo Trans Am.  I'm excited to get going on it after so much time but I'm planning on 4 or 5 years to complete the job. Of course I hope to finish sooner, but figured planning for a long build was best for budgeting and to ensure I can take time to enjoy the project.  The goal is to finish in time for my 13  year old son's HS graduation.
 While this technically isn't my first car, it is the first car I bought for myself. I purchased it in 1990 when I was 19. It had 70,000 miles on it at the time.  The car had a fresh coat of paint...and a freshened up 4.9L turbo motor.  I'd love TA's since I was around 7 or 8.  When I was 12 my dad bought a 1977 TA, red, white interior and a 400. I was hooked!  I drove that car through HS...A lLOT of stories about that '77! But that's getting off subject...
This 1981 was my daily driver from 1990-1996. Over that time I broke 2 of the Turbo 301 motors before picking up a '79 403 from a friend who had twisted the body of his '79 TA by running it up a curb.  You could see the twist in the rail between the T-Tops! My 2nd 301 was blowing smoke by that time so I bought his 403 and did my first engine swap in a rented garage stall.  My Brother and I ended up finishing that swap in the driveway of my girlfriend's (Now my wife) parent's house.  I remember almost rattling the windows out of their house when we fired up he engine with open headers about 6 feet from their front porch!  We pulled that 403 out for a rebuild a year or two later...this time in my older brother's garage.  That was around 1995.  In 1996, I decided it was more economical to park the TA to by my first brand new car to use as a daily driver. The TA stayed registered, but driven rarely until 1999, when I bought a house and parked it in the garage. It was driven around the block once in a while until my son was born in 2002.  Since then it's been sitting in the garage in hibernation.
 This past summer, my son old enough to help wrench on it, we dug it out and got it fired up.  I started planning over the winter and have started disassembly. It's been interesting, funny and a little embarrassing coming across old work me, my brother, and our friends did back in the day. Lots of wires to nowhere, hacks and even a not so flattering note my brother left in wax pen under the rear wheel well back in 1996. Had a good laugh when I finally got his message, 20 years later.
Anyway, the plan is to rebuild the suspension with a mid-level kit from PTFB, an LS swap...adding a Turbo to it down the road, new paint (My brother now owns a body shop), new interior etc.  I'm calling it a rebuild and not a restoration though...doing as much of the work as I can myself.
 
So that's the story...Thanks for checking it out.
 Below are some pics and video, both recent and from back in the day. I'll try to post pics of progress as things go along.

Circa 1992



Around 1994


Video of my brother and I doing burnouts around the same time in 1994 or so:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW6Hcp5Y3Nw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YgP0WAN4Pg

This summer finally out into the sunshine


Video..Pulling out of garage for first time in 10+ years:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiY7sXmDlok


« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 10:50:23 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

silver78

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2015, 03:36:13 AM »
That's a cool story. Not many of us were able to hold onto our old car for that long.
MY BUILD THREAD:  http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=41850.0

Previous builds:
65 Galaxie sold
67 camaro RS sold
68 camaro RS sold
69 camaro sold
72 Nova SS
81 T/A 4 spd sold
86 IROC sold
88 Formula 350 sold
92 Z-28 sold
93 9C1 Caprice sold
94 Impala SS sold

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2015, 07:47:15 PM »
A couple pics from when I dug it out of the garage this past summer




Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 09:04:16 PM »
Things have been moving along.  Mostly just cleaning and disassembly stuff, but it's stuff none the less.  I plan on ordering suspension parts soon, then I'll be able to start actually putting some stuff back together....With nice shiny pieces!

This was the last time I had it out of the garage, back in February:


Parked it and started disassembly:


Tried to do as much cleaning as possible as we went along:


35 years worth of dirt and grime:


Pretty happy with the condition so far...The floors look great. Surprising for a car that spent all its life here in the NE:


This is the only serious rust I've found so far, behind the drivers door under the side spoiler:


A couple of little projects did get done...Working on door hinges now. Below you can see the window trim hanging for paint:


And we fixed the tilt column -



This past weekend we pulled the old 403 out to make room for an LSx down the road:



Once I get the doors back on I'll be finishing cleaning up and painting the firewall...Then installing new suspension parts.
Can't wait to get some shiny stuff installed!
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Box

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 09:18:14 PM »
Looks like you're making good progress, it'll be like a whole new car once your done.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 09:18:14 PM »

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 10:38:27 PM »
Thanks Box. I hope it's like a new car! I don't know if you can tell from the video in the original post, but in the condition it was in, this thing was a death trap.  LOL.  But It's -my- death-trap, so...I still had a smile on my face all the way around the block.
Started working on door hinges.  I can only do one side at a time in my 1 car garage (I have to push it off to one side to have space to fully open a door.) 

Here's a cradle I made to hold the door. It worked 'OK' but I'll be tweeking it to get it more stable on the Jack to reinstall the door.


 I couldn't believe how heavy the door (with glass and power window mech/motor still in) was! I knew they were 'heavy' but I weighed it tonight...98#'s! Holy crap! No wonder this is all that was left of the bushings!






God I hope this thing goes back together!


For anyone who's done these door hinges before, or will do this in the future:
This Autozone door hinge spring removal tool sucks.  It barely compresses enough to get the spring out, and because it's just sheet metal, it doesn't hold the compressed spring well.  I'll need to make some mods in order to get it to compress further AND hold the compressed spring while I position it.  Any suggestions would be welcomed.  I considered trying a valve spring compressor, but the one I have A) didn't 'fit' well (the 'base' it compresses against doesn't align/hold against this 'open ended' spring,  and B) It compresses by pulling against one end, in this position both ends aren't open to fit into the top and bottom positions within the hinge.
The door hinge repair thread I referenced here at TAC no longer has the pics present.

Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 08:12:22 PM »
Got the door hinges done. Woo Hoo! One more little project done. I ended up using a valve spring compressor to install the spring on the passenger side and remove and install the spring on the driver side.  It took two sets of hands, but the door spring tool wasn't working at all....It kept bending and wouldn't hold the spring compressed long enough to put it in place.  Here's the two tools:


I ended up taking the seat off the bottom of the valve spring compressor:


This way I could pull the spring back against its seat:


I had to hold the ends in place while the wife twisted the compressor.  It was way quicker and less frustrating then that particular door spring tool.
Here's the rebuilt hinges installed. While the hinges were out we sanded and primed some surface rust that was behind them.


Aside from that I got the firewall pretty much cleaned up.  All the excess seam sealer and whatever other gunk the put on there is off. I'm going to pressure wash it next week, then seam seal and paint it.  Hope to get the front sub-frame off next week to..to pressure wash and get ready for paint.


Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

72projectbird

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2015, 08:48:28 PM »
Very nice project! It'll be one sweet ride when its done!

I'm currently doing an LQ4 in my 71 so if you need any help when you get to the swap let me know.
70 Trans Am RAIII 4 Speed #'s matching
70 GTO 455
71 Trans Am LS Swapped
81 Trans Am Daytona



"Put the evidence in the car"

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2015, 08:35:24 PM »
Thanks for the offer, I may have to take you up on that!
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 08:37:03 PM »
Got the front sub-frame dropped this weekend. Ran into a couple problems, but it was definitely something that needed to be done....




Passenger side came loose with no problem.  But the driver side was not so cooperative.  The 'box' or 'cage' holding the nut broke free on the forward mount...


The cage on the rear mount didn't break free, but bent bad enough that the nut could turn inside. I had to cut a hole in the floor to get to it.  Ended up having to squeeze on it with a set of vice grips while loosening the bolt... Looks like a mouse was living inside the cross brace welded to the floor at one point!  Or, at least hanging out and eating his dinner there....




It definitely needed to be done. I knew that these were probably bad (after 35 years and almost 200,000 miiles). But the bushings were in really bad shape...




Even the bolts were corroded, this is the rear bold on the driver's side.  I'm lucky it didn't break off!

Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2015, 07:39:16 PM »
Thought I'd have more time to work on this project in the Summer. But, turns out the opposite was true. Between yard work, house work, work work, and vacation type stuff, I haven't had much time in the garage at all.  Did get some small projects done though..cleaned sanded and painted all the glass trim and got the sub-frame cleaned up and prep'd for POR-15....

Here's the sub-frame before:


And after degreasing and cleaning with wire brush...


One thing that surprised me was how it looked after applying the POR-15 Metal Prep. I was a little worried, even though I followed the instructions I wasn't expecting this.  After some research, it turns out this is how it's supposed to look at this stage....but it looked much nicer before the Metal Prep.


Hope to get the POR-15 itself on Sunday. That's the plan at least.

Thanks...Take Care.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 07:41:28 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Box

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2015, 02:25:42 AM »
From the picture it didn't look too bad before.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

FormTA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2015, 07:28:50 AM »
Wish any of my cars were that clean. It'd take years off the restoration time. Keep at it. It looks like your making good headway with it!
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

roadking77

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2015, 09:10:15 AM »
Looks good, don't worry, a lot of us think we will get more done than we actually do. I get a lot done in the fall and early winter, then when it gets really cold I don't do so much and think I will get a lot done this summer when it warms up. Spring, I get started again and by the time summer rolls along there are so many other things to do the car gets put on the back burner. They cycle starts all over again. A 2 year project turns into 5 :shock:
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
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79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
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'52-Ariel Red Hunter
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77 TA man

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2015, 05:40:17 PM »
Wish any of my cars were that clean. It'd take thousands of dollars off the restoration cost. Keep at it. It looks like your making good headway with it!
Fixed it for you
1977 HardTop T/A: 347 LSx Build,3.905" Wiseco 25cc dished pistons,forged rods, OE crank,BTR Stage 2 turbo cam, ARP Main+Head Studs,

1986 T-Top T/A:
Navy Blue Paint ,Grey/Black interior,140mph speedo,overhead console, LB9/Automatic, 2.77 Posi,  WS-6 suspension, All power options, UMI Wonderbar, UMI Rear LCAs, KYB Excel-Gs, Opened Formula hood,

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2015, 05:40:17 PM »



TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2015, 10:37:05 PM »
Thanks for the kind words and support.  I do appreciate it..It's nice to hear the input and feedback. I've enjoyed and learned from a lot from other projects and posts here. So, I'm enjoying sharing my experience.
I got the sub-frame and Control arms POR-15'd last week. The POR-15 went on nice and looks great. It really leveled out nice even when brushed on.  I DO feel fortunate that the car held up well after all these years..But it WAS really dirty. Some of the before picks don't show the grime well. And the wife did a lot of scraping and cleaning before we got it off the car. 
Here's some pics from before as well as the finished product.  I'm finally ready to start putting some stuff back on!
Here you can see some of the grime from the K-member area of the sub-frame


And here's the sub-frame with the POR-15 done:


And the control Arms..As the came off the car..


With POR-15


Also, got the fire wall re-seam sealed and painted. I used VHT Epoxy spray for this:






Thanks again for following along...
Next I'll be installing the Sub-frame with the new solid bushings from
PTFB.  Need to order bushing set from PST.Hopefully I'll be able to do that
this weekend so  I can start putting hanging the suspension on my shiny new
Sub-frame!
 Thanks everyone!
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2015, 10:55:09 PM »
Finally! Getting some new stuff put -ON- my car! 
Got the front Sub-frame installed with PTFB solid bushings.  Install and alignment went pretty well...A little too easy maybe. But the measurements seemed to come into line pretty quickly and evenly so I was very satisfied.
 I also got the front suspension installed with new bushings and ball joints from PST.  I'm not too impressed with the apparent quality of the PST parts.  They don't look like the best quality. I had a hard time trying to get the lower ball joints pressed in. And, the shop that ended up pressing them for mek remarked that the ball joints were 'Chinese parts'.  He suggested that if I had higher quality name brand parts I probably could've got 'em pressed in myself.  Anything's better than what was in there, and I'll reserve judgment until after I put some miles on them, but I hope I don't regret ordering the PST kit instead of researching individual parts.




To install the front springs I used a spring compressor with the shaft up through he shock hole to compress it up against the seat in the subframe. Seemed like the least sketchy way to do it and it worked pretty well.  The most difficult thing was lining up the end of the spring with the drain holes in the lower control arm as required.  The first one took several tries.  By the second one we had a feel for where it'd end up as the control arm arched up, so it went more quickly:



Pulled the rear end out to clean and paint it...since it had to move for the spring removal and 'cause all the brake lines are being replaced I pulled it out completely:


Rear springs are out....The manuals suggest braking the front spring eye bolt loose dropping the spring mounting bracket/pocket.  But there wasn't enough room to get a socket and breaker bar in there. So we dropped the brackets, and pulled the springs without touching the front spring eye bolt.  Then soaked the nuts with penetrating oil for a couple days.  After that I used some hardware to connect the bracket to the front subframe so that I had something stable enough to crank against the spring eye nut/bolt with a breaker bar. A little heat was needed.  Also, to get the bold out through the eye and separate the spring from the bracket we had to pull some of the old bushing out, and soak with penetrating oil. Even after that It still took a BFH and some heavy hits to push he bolt out.



I had to drop the gas tank to get the rear end of the spring dropped.  Just wasn't enough room to work up on the rear shackles.  The tank was coming out to be replaced anyway...besides being old the filler neck isn't really 'connected' so much as it 'rests' within its hole.  As long as I can remember I couldn't fill the tank past 1/2 a tank or so. LOL.


Here's what was left of the build sheet that was on top of the tank.  Looks like it was written on parchment by one of King Tut's scribes... I was able to make out some of it, but probably only 20% or so.  Bonus...this brought up PHS's service which the wife suggested I add to my Christmas list...So I'm looking forward to maybe getting a PHS package this winter.



Installing rear suspension pieces next.  Need to research LS Fuel system so I by a tank and Fuel lines.  Will probably install brake lines soon too...before putting everything back up in there.  Got some cleaning of the rear frame rails and under body too....
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2015, 09:50:04 PM »
A quick post 'cause I was excited to get wheels on the ground...With the sway bar in the front suspension is officially completely done! Plus I had a couple of tid-bits to share about some of the recent work....



I mentioned earlier that the 'box' around the front left sub-frame nut broke in a couple places while I was removing the nut and bushings.  Well...I don't have a welder so my solution was to use JB-weld to set and hold the box in place around the nut.  It seems kind of iffy, but really...all that box does it keep the nut from turning...right? And the JB-Weld held the 100+ ft. pounds of torque to tighten the bolt down so I think it'll be OK.  Don't judge...It solved a problem right?
 

Finally, I had a hard time getting the sway-bar to fit on the end links. It wouldn't set down enough to fit the top nut on.  I checked the service manual, and I had loosened the sway bar to frame mounts some before trying to get it on the end links.  Ultimately, I had to almost fully pull the sway bar to frame mounts completely off in order to finagle the bar into place on the end links. 


Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

jonathonar89

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2015, 07:12:35 AM »
Looks good, always admirable to see people posting work they've done them self.
1979 Trans Am 400 T-top - Platinum Silver, Carmine Interior
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silver78

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2015, 08:54:01 AM »
Some big milestones you accomplished.  Looking good.
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Previous builds:
65 Galaxie sold
67 camaro RS sold
68 camaro RS sold
69 camaro sold
72 Nova SS
81 T/A 4 spd sold
86 IROC sold
88 Formula 350 sold
92 Z-28 sold
93 9C1 Caprice sold
94 Impala SS sold

doubleclutch

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2015, 03:38:23 PM »
Nice project! But I mostly see someone that must be your wife doing most of the work! LOL just kidding of course.

Your burnout video cracked me up... I've got an old VHS tape that has me and my buddies doing the same kind of stuff. One of my best friends in HS had a 301TTA and we sure had some fun in it. He was blind as a bat so I drove it quite a bit.

I was going to mention, what suspension pieces I didn't powder coat, I used POR-15 as a primer and then used Eastwood Extreme Chassis paint over it with great results. The Eastwood product has heavy solids and flows out smooth. Sometimes the POR-15 can give an uneven finish depending how it goes on, just my experience.

Congrats on finding the build sheet! Subscribed!

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2015, 10:00:06 PM »
Thanks Guys.
Yeah Doubleclutch, that's the wife.  If this thing gets done it'll be thanks, in large part to her!  Aside from being able to turn a wrench pretty well,  she's telling -me- to come out to the garage any night we have time.  She's talked me out of the original plan to drop a used LS between the frame rails... 'talked me into' getting a crate motor instead....And tonight she was telling me I need to get a new order of parts together cause we are out of new parts to install. She's pretty awesome! I got this car a little while after we met...we both have some fond memories in it.

Anyway...The whole suspension is completely done! New springs and shocks from PTFB in rear. New bushings from PST. etc.
A couple observations/lessons:
The PTFB springs didn't seem to line up with the upper shackle hole....to get them lined up I jacked up the spring right in the middle while the the spring eye 'walk back' along the frame rail back far enough to line up with the hole. Once I dropped the car onto the suspension, the shackles settled in and there's about a 1/4 inch of space between the spring eye and frame.  I think it'll be OK. There's a thread in the suspension section re: questions another PTFB customer had about whether or not this'll work OK.  For now, it seems fine. I'll know for sure when I get it on the road...someday.



Here's a before pic:


I also learned...Things move around A LOT with the full weight on the car and there is a LOT of leverage involved in the sway bar linkage...Even when I jacked up the rear axle I couldn't get the sway bar in place to clear the new diff cover (about 2 inches deeper than stock).  I pulled the diff cover off, hooked up the sway bar(it was only about 1/2 in. from the stock diff cover at this point). Then, dropped the car on its weight and bounced it around some. At this point the sway bar moved back about 3 inches to it's proper position. Then, I jacked it back up from the axle and was able to get the new deeper diff cover in place.
Here it is all finished!


Oh, and I had to torque the front spring eye in its bracket before mounting the bracket on the car.  There's no way that I could've gotten a torque wrench on either end of the spring eye bolt while the bracket was mounted up in the car.  The manual says not to torque anything until it's all in place and settled, but I had to do this one bolt. Judging by how everything settled, and how the suspension seems to be moving, I think it settled in OK.


So, the suspension's completely done now!

On to the next 'system'....Which I think will be brakes.  Until I get those parts we started some other stuff...Working on Door internals, took out the latch/lock mechanism...the doors rattled bad even when fully closed.  The latch had about 1/4 in. of play  in the full 'closed' (second click) position. I'll post pics of what that turned out to be later.  We did some door alignment, are fixing loose rivets for the power lock actuator...stuff like that.

And, we pulled the dash and wire harness out....This is kinda scary.  I'm researching wire harness stuff now. Considered a Painless kit, but there's none for the firebird.  I think I'd need to use a Camaro harness, then shorten/lengthen wires on the Camaro harness?  But through here I found another company that does Firebird harnesses, and can do custom work too.  So, I might go that route.



Thanks for looking in everyone!
-Tom

« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 10:10:25 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

MNBob

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2015, 02:20:40 PM »
Quote
Yeah Doubleclutch, that's the wife.  If this thing gets done it'll be thanks, in large part to her!  Aside from being able to turn a wrench pretty well,  she's telling -me- to come out to the garage any night we have time.  She's talked me out of the original plan to drop a used LS between the frame rails... 'talked me into' getting a crate motor instead....And tonight she was telling me I need to get a new order of parts together cause we are out of new parts to install. She's pretty awesome! I got this car a little while after we met...we both have some fond memories in it.

You are lucky man!  We get people coming to the door wanting to buy my TA and my wife has “sold” mine many times; even given it away!  And she absolutely refuses to ride in it (much less help me).

Anyway, your sub-frame and with the POR15 looks great and the whole front assembly.  The diff area is also looking real tidy.  I know how much work this is and you are making good progress.
1979 TATA Extreme TKO .64
Hedman elite; Pypes 2.5; Borla XS; MSD 6A; Edelbrock intake; open scoop; modified Q-jet; Powermaster 150; 4 core radiator/Mark VIII fan; RobbMc mini starter; subframe connectors; solid body mounts; fiberglass rear springs; poly sway bar and link bushings; 81 master; D52’s; Blazer disks; 225/60 & 235/60 17's TrueContact's; relays for PW, PDL, lights; keyless entry

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2015, 12:02:29 AM »
Thanks MNBob, Yeah....I can't imagine Julie offering to sell my TA like that! We are both enjoying the project so far.
Over the past couple weeks we got some front brake parts on. Just stock replacements at this point mostly due to budget, but I did check on drilled and slotted rotors at least...The reasonably priced ones were out of stock.  The goal at this stage is to make it safe and get it on the road, so stock replacements are fine.
We continued work on the doors and started a project to restore the tail lights.

So...New Rotors, bearings and calipers in front. This ended up being way easier than I thought it would be. Having never done it before, I'll share more than most might need/want.  But, for anyone considering tackling new front bearings, it's an easy job.  We referenced the shop manual, deconstructed the existing rotor/hub assembly, no problem.  Cleaned the spindle really good. Greased inside the hub with High temp grease (local shop showed me what they use..500 degree 'High temp' grease) then some grease on the spindle.  Packed both inner and outer bearings, Then, just set the inner bearing inside the hub(Bearing races are already installed on the new Rotor/Hub assembly and the bearing only fits one way. Easy).  Pop on the rear seal (pushed most of the way 'round, then I had to tap it into place with a rubber mallet).  Then, careful not to nick the new bearings, put the Rotor/hub onto the spindle.  It took a little rotating and pushing to get the bearing seated all the way back where it needed to be, but a couple wiggles and a little pressure...No problem. Then set the outer bearing into place, installed the washer with a  little more grease( I think you can't have too much grease in there) and installed the nut following the instructions in the manual to properly seat the bearing, then back off the nut so there is 0 pressure or 'load'.  Bam! Done!






After! The front end really looks done now....


We continued work on the doors...
The door latches were spent. The doors rattled and moved in and out a lot when closed and fully latched.
Initially I thought this little tab 'stop' was the culprit (see the bent metal tab in the square hole to the left of the semi-circle in the pic below?)

BUT apparently this is only part of the problem.  The Passenger side tab was bent significantly less, but when in the full close position (two clicks back) the latch itself still felt like it was hanging free.  The latch itself easily moved back and forth with one finger, even without that bent tab.
Anyway..New latches solved the problem:


The only surprise was that the passenger side latch screws were impossible to remove. Driver side came out OK...Tapped on each screw with a screwdriver and hammer, and they backed out fine.  On the pass side I had to drill out 2 of the 3 screws, then used one of those stripped screw tools on my power drill to get them the rest of the way out.  One other note: The new latches from OER come with new latch screws. No need to order them separately.
The driver side interior door lever assembly was a little loose. I drilled out the one rivet that holds it in place and installed a new rivet with my cool new Heavy duty rivet tool. Nice and tight now. One less rattle.

The power lock actuators rivets were really loose too, so I drilled out the rivets and ordered new rivets (1/4 x .500 'Peel Type) via Amazon.
Haven't installed them yet, but experimenting I can say you definitely need the 'heavy duty' Rivet tool. The little one handed chumpy wont cut it.
The manual says you can use screws, and gives the recommended specs for the screws, but I want to rivet it in like it was originally. Partly because I think my new rivet gun is cool.

Aside from those things, I did my best to clean out the old grease from the window tracks and put new white lithium grease in the tracks.  As near as I can tell the GM grease recommended is a white lithium grease.  So that's what I used. We'll see how that works once I'm done inside the doors and can rig up a battery to put the windows through a few rotations.

I wont have an large part orders until after the holidays.  But, in the mean time I'm gonna work on restoring the taillights. Dirt aside, they are in fair condition. No through cracks or chips. But, the driver side has some spider cracking cracks. paint the inner part white.  Then clean, polish, and re-clean the outer lenses. Then paint the fins and surround black. After that I'm going  to apply a light coat of that spray on tint stuff. Hopefully it'll hide the spider cracks enough to get by.  Looking at them I think I can get away with a light coat without making them too dark.  Upgraded bulbs should help some, and I'd like LED taillights later on. Here's some pics of the lights:






Finally...I finally got a good look at the worst rust on the car, across the rear panel.  This isn't a surprise, I could see it from underneath. But this is my first good look at it.  I'm toying with the idea of cutting it out, treating the area with a rust converter and painting it.  the bumper doesn't need ALL 8 bolts...right? 6 or 7 should hold just fine ;-). Good news is I think I saw they just started selling repros for this late rear tail panel, so I'll probably replace it when body work is done.


Thanks everyone! Happy Holidays!


Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project - Update Tail light lense save?
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2016, 10:49:00 PM »
Tail lights...Holy crap were these a project! About 80% of my garage time over the past 8 weeks. Some of that was self inflicted.  Hopefully someone might learn from my mistakes.
First..  I believe there's a company in Australia or something working on reproductions. They sound like they'll be pricey at around $400 a set for the outer lenses only.  I intended to get mine looking acceptable and save some $$$ at this stage.  Probably replacing with Repro's if/when they become available.
I should also say I think F-Body Warehouse offers a resto service.  But with the spider cracks in mine I didn't know if they'd consider them an acceptable starting point. Plus, that's not cheap either.  So, here's what happened to me...

You can see my starting point a couple posts up.
We cleaned them up and the wife masked them off to match the original stock paint lines:




I painted the lense fins with a semi-gloss spray paint.  So far, so good.
I also painted the inside/back in white:


At this point the black around the edges looked good, and the lenses were sort of shiny, but the spider cracks were very noticeable and the leading edge of the fins was not improved at all.  They looked a little better, but I wanted to try something to cover the spider cracks some.
We cleaned everything with wax and grease remover.  Then, I used a spray tint put a light coat of tint over the lenses and outer edges of the fins.  I had used this spray tint successfully on other projects. But, these lenses didn't take it...the spray tint seemed to go on OK, but shortly there-after started fish-eying and running.  Terrible.



So, back to the drawing board.  After several attempts to remove the tint with cleaning products, mineral spirits etc, I ended up using my Dremel 'sanding/polishing' kit to sand the spray tint off!
After sanding/buffing with compound and plastic polish I was almost back where I started:



BUT...All that Dremel work left the lens face pitted and uneven...


At this point they were pretty much ruined.  Since I didn't have anything else to work on, and I couldn't make them any worse I decided to mask them off and start over.  This time we masked only the flat face of the lenses. Leaving the whole fin (including the leading edge open to be painted black:


After paint, I took the advice of an auto body person I know and tried cleaning the lenses with alcohol...like Rubbing alcohol.  With the lenses in this bad of shape, this was NOT a good Idea... The alcohol appears to have seeped into tiny cracks in the surface and caused some sort of crystallization! Spots like this came up in various places on the one lens we tried it on.  Luckily the wife noticed something wasn't right almost immediately and watered the alcohol off right way.  But we were left with several spots like this:



I looked into something to smooth out the lens surface and bring the shine back.  I ended up finding a clear acrylic product to try on the lenses.  We taped up the 'open' flat end of each outer lens, then mixed this two part acrylic epoxy. Laid the lenses flat on their back, and as level as possible, then poured a thin layer into each section of the lights, covering the flat lens surface between each fin.  The stuff worked! It created a clear, shiny level face between each set of fins.  It seems to have completely hidden some cracks, and significantly reduced others. Here's a before and after on the worse of the two lenses:



Here's the whole assembly including the door which is no longer droopy and loose thanks to a hinge rebuild.



A couple side notes: The product I used is not UV resistant and probably shouldn't be used on a daily driver or even a car that will be outside most of the time.  In my case it's temporary and the car will be driven occasionally only, and in a garage when not in use. I have no idea how this will holed up.  But..right now, they look way better then when I started.
Also - The big spider cracks are still there. I noticed that the horizontal cracks are still noticeable when standing over the car looking down at the lens.  The way the light hits these particular cracks, at this angle, they still show.  But, the lighter cracks, and especially the vertical ones are significantly reduced. As are those crystally spots.  From straight on and behind,  the lights look much, much better...shiny, smooth, and with no really harsh, noticeable cracks.

Finally...I don't have an electrical system...So I have no idea how they will look when lit!

Next up...
I hope to order the rest of the parts for my stock brake system replacement this month. In the mean time we are de-constructing the door panels to see what we can save there....Considering re-using the vinyl and making my own cards....I'll let you know how that goes. 

Thanks everyone!





« Last Edit: January 20, 2016, 10:10:37 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project -Updated Tail light restoration
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2016, 10:46:28 PM »
One last pic of the tail lights...before and after in the day light.  Seeing them side by side like this, from the same angle in the light of day...I'm pretty happy with how they came out!


Finished de-constructing and researching door panels.  Although about 90% of the vinyl on the door cards is OK, everything else is crap. And the 10% of vinyl that's bad is at a critical spot at the top back corner of the driver side door. After researching several potential solutions, I've decided to bite the bullet and buy repros when the time comes.

Waiting on delivery of brake parts which should almost finish up the brake system....
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2016, 11:46:26 PM »
Another step done...New brakes!  We replaced the booster and master cylinder, prop/combo valve, all lines, calipers, rotors and (of course) pads.  All this is stock replacement stuff.  Only thing left to do is fill and bleed the system, then fix the leaks which inevitably show up.  Obviously I won't really be able to test things without an actual moving vehicle to try to stop, or even vacuum to the booster, but I don't think you'd want to leave system sitting empty while work continues elsewhere. It's going to be a while before it's running, at least a year. So, I figure I should get fluid through all the lines and into the calipers etc.  At least they look nice and new, and it's one more system completed!
Here are some pics of the new brakes and a couple little things I observed during the process.... 

New flex lines front and rear. I initially considered steel braided hoses as an upgrade, but (again) I'm on a budget.


New hard lines Front...




And Rear...




New Booster, Master Cylinder and Prop/Combination Valve:


P.S. Nailed the lighting on that master cylinder shot, huh? LOL.

A couple observations/unexpected things...
1) The pre-bent lines were pretty close, but required more bending then I expected.
This was the first connection we tried to make....It had me worried that many others would be similarly 'off'.  But it wasn't too bad, My guess is that maybe it's common for even this type of pre-bent set of hard lines to require some finagling? I don't know..I've never installed pre-bent hard lines before.


2) I purchased a '20 piece Brake Line Clip/Bolt Set from Ames and found the Bolts were not usable.  I double-checked the catalog and compared the order info, and label on the actual set received.  The set is labeled for 75-81...The catalog notes that the Clips may 'not all be an exact match to original', no big deal for me.  But I didn't expect the bolts might have a diifferent thread and diameter...they wouldn't fit in the couple locations I checked/tried.   Luckily I had bagged all the bolts and clips during disassembly, so I just cleaned those bolts and reused them with the new clips.
 


This isn't the first time that something like this has happened..even at this early stage.  Replacement 'banjo' bolts I purchased from a NPD also didn't fit.  In that case it looks like the catalog is wrong...the catalog it says the bolts were for my year. The order form said the same, but the label on the actual little package each bolt came in said it was for 65-70 or something like that.  After reading many other rebuild/resto write ups, and based on my limited experience...It sounds like this is very common and I should get used to it. Where possible I'm returning to vendors with feedback. Hopefully they act on that feedback to save trouble for future customers.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 11:54:00 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project *Steering column question*
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2016, 09:20:05 PM »
Got the steering finished by installing a new Intermediate shaft.  With the new steering linkage, tie-rods, intermediate shaft and rag joint + the fix to the loose tilt column the there's very little play in the wheel.  I literally had 3 inches of play in the wheel last time I drove the car, plus the tilt was loose so the whole wheel itself could move up and down probably 3/4 of an inch.  So this is quite an improvement. 
There is still a tiny bit of play in in the joint where the steering column connects to the intermediate shaft.  If anyone has any thoughts on tightening up that connection, please let me know.





Not sure if the cover that comes on the intermediate shaft will cause any interference down the road.
The shaft that was on the care had a small plastic cover that was about 4 inches long and snapped around the shaft I think where the inner and outer pieces meet.  This one looks clean so I left it for now. 




This is the joint where there's a tiny bit of play....


I think my next big parts order will be BRP Hot Rod's EFI Fuel tank/kit.  It looks like BRP has all the stuff needed for an LS swap. I like the idea of using one vendor for the conversion pieces and I haven't found any complaints about the BRP stuff.

In the mean time Julie and I pulled the weather-stripping and related trim off the doors and T-top openings.  We are cleaning them up now and priming/painting the channels before installing new weather stripping. As part of this we are painting all the drip rails flat black.  I'll post pics as that work progresses.
Thanks for checking in....

Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2016, 10:02:56 PM »
Hey TAC....
Didn't get my fuel system last month, but we did get a few projects done...

We removed the T-Top weather striping, cleaned up the channels and installed new weather strip. We also installed new outer window sweeps that came with the kit from F-Body Warehouse. I installed Shiftworks Overdrive shifter conversion and the reverse/neutral safety switch relocation kits and a Palco dash cover. The Palco cover isn't perfect. But it fit relatively well and it is a very big improvement over what was there.  For $100 vs $700 for a new dash, I think it'll really good after everything's painted.

I never had a T-top leak problem, except when running through car washes...But the weather-strip was in bad shape:
 

No surprises...just a lot of cleaning...




And the new weather strip.  It's being left just dry fit for now since it'll be pulled out for paint.


Here's what was left of the outer window sweep...




And the new one installed...


We also disassembled the Tops themselves to clean them up, paint the trim and black out aluminum drip rail. I also used plasti-dipi to re-cover where the original plastic latch ends had worn away. Not sure how the plasti-dip will hold up but it's the closest I could find to the original dip.
 

There's one nasty chink in the drip rail I couldn't get pushed out, but I like the black much better than the 'bright' drip rails...



Here's the original 'dip' on the end of the latches...


And the plasti-dip after...


Finally the Shiftworks kits...
The OD Conversion went in OK, but I was a little disappointed in the feel. The detents were really rough where the shifter cam rides along them. It felt really rough. So I pulled it out and sanded down the bottom edge of the detent plate...
Here you can see what I mean by the rough finish...


Here's the detent plate installed...


The Reverse/NSS relocation switch install went OK...with one slight annoyance...Maybe I misread the instructions or got a kit that was not packaged properly, but it seemed that the instructions say the two screws to hold the mounting plate are 'provided' in one place, and 'Not included' in another diagram.  There were no screws in my kit...so I riveted the mounting plate to the shifter...



And the Dash:

That's it for now...researching electrical stuff and hope to get the fuel system ordered soon.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2016, 10:09:07 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Box

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #29 on: March 24, 2016, 10:34:29 PM »
Dash looks good for an $100 fix.  I also like the trim redone in black, then again I'm not big on shiny metal.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

FormTA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #30 on: March 25, 2016, 05:07:19 AM »
Excellent work. Thanks for the info on the shiftworks kit. Mine showed up the other day so I'll look at the detents and see if I need to smooth them out.
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

MD79TA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #31 on: March 25, 2016, 07:39:19 AM »
You are doing great work!
1979 Trans Am
307 RWHP 380RWTQ / 13.8@103
1979 400 Block, 1970 Heads, Cams, Comp Cam Lifters, Edelbrock RPM Intake, Hedman Headers, Holley 750 Carb, WFO Drop Base

1968 GTO convertible
400 auto with A/C

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2016, 10:39:25 AM »
Thanks everyone.
FormTA - One other suggestion for the Shiftworks install...
 When  you're drilling and knocking out the rivets that hold the original shift detent plate in place, find some way to support those two tabs the rivets are attached to(where the screws are in my pic of the installed plate).  They aren't very sturdy, I bent mine with either with the pressure from drilling or while tapping the drilled rivets out.  It wasn't apparent until I put the new one in and the little cam on the shifter didn't ride on the detent plate properly.  It wasn't a too big a deal to bend them back out, but it did take some time to get them aligned properly afterword.

Thanks again for the kind words, it's a long project....a lot of work.  Although we are enjoying it, and it's a labor of love, it's still nice to hear others are finding some of the info useful and the encouragement is appreciated!

Have a great weekend!
-Tom
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2016, 09:45:50 PM »
More progress! There's still lots to do, but as I look ahead to plan things out, it looks like I need to start serious research and saving for the motor and trans!

Over the past several weeks we've gotten through about 90% of the wiring.  The main dash harness was gone over and all the old 1981 ECM wires, plus some other unnecessary stuff(like a choke relay) was removed.  I ordered a replacement for the Window switch harness and will need to order a new rear light harness.  Aside from the wire harness ahead of the firewall bulkhead (which we haven't gone through yet), everything else is OK.
In addition to some electrical work, we got the new EFI fuel system installed.
The system is from BMR Hot Rod.  It included a Tanks EFI tank, Walbro pump, Corvette filter/regulator plus all the necessary fittings and PTFE fuel line. The PTFE line is amazing stuff,  pliable and pretty easy to work with, but it seems like it's probably bullet proof!

Here's some pics, first the electrical-
This will give you an idea of my starting point...this was the old ECM harness that came through the FW. It was cut before I bought the car, the computer had been removed when the previous owner did a rebuild on the original 301T:


Here's the main harness as it came out of the car:




And a pic of the power window switch harness, next to a replacement received from M&H through Ames I think:


We stretched it out on a board and used a wiring diagram to make sure everything was marked and to remove stuff that was no longer in use.   The Service Manual was invaluable, but tough to follow.   We found a color, laminated copy of the wiring diagrams in one of the popular TA restoration catalogs, forget which one.  The color laminated copy was an excellent reference.  I can post a pic and source if anyone's interested.
I used a piece of 1/4 inch luan board to hold things in place.  This helped keep things in order and allowed me to move it around to put it
aside over the course of the few days we worked on it.


Aside from removing wires that were no longer used, we cleaned up and re-taped all of the factory splices-


We re-wrapped everything with vinyl loom/wrap. here's the harness completed -


Here's some pics of the EFI tank and kit stuff from BMR Hot Rods. It was nice to get everything needed all together from one place.  I didn't have any experience with PTFE, AN fittings or assembling an EFI Fuel system.
Here's the pump, regulator/filter.  I don't have any pics of the fuel level sender, but an appropriate one was included, as was a filter neck also not shown. I had put the fittings on loosely to keep things in order and get a feel for where things went...



A couple pics of the tanks tank...I decided to paint the underside black using VHT Epoxy, semi gloss.
The black ant-squeak pads were not included, they needed to be ordered from another source.




I mounted the filter/regulator and vent (also included with the BMR Kit) above the rear axle where the transvers muffler is mounted on some non-TA models:


Here you can see the location a little better -




The fuel line to the front followed the stock routing, along side the brake line up the driver side.

So, another system done!
Next...I'm going to finish going through the wiring.  The harness forward of the firewall bulkhead is next. I hope I can save it.  I'll be ordering the rear light harness soon and a kit to relocate the battery to the trunk.  I think that'll be it for the chassis wiring.  Oh, and I'll be sending the stock instrument cluster out to be restored and recalibrated with a speedo that reads greater than the 85MPH stock 1981 speedo.  Probably maybe 160MPH which is what some of the older Firebird models read. I want to retain the stock gauges, so I intend on using a VSS->speedo cable converter box like the one from Dakota Digital.  They also make a Tach signal converter which I've read will convert the LSx tach signal to one the stock tach can read. 
After that, I think the next 'system' to order and get installed will be the vintage air set-up.  That needs to be installed on the interior firewall before the dash can be put back in. 

Thanks for checking in!  Take care.
-Tom

« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 10:13:39 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #34 on: May 15, 2016, 10:06:47 PM »
A quick update - First...A 'Thanks' to Napa....I had broken the strainer for the Walbro Pump while taking it in and out during the install. Walbro sent me a link to all the possible strainers for the pump I had.  Ultimately it was Napa that got me from that to an actual part number they could order.  They were very patient and helpful in finding some not too common parts.  What a difference from the other 'full service' Automotive chains. For reference, here's the strainer part Number:


Napa also hooked me up with the banjo bolt for the right rear brake caliper.  I'm having trouble with this side leaking.  It's still leaking after new banjo bolts and crush washers.  I'm still working on it, but the bolts I ordered from one of the 'big' restoration catalogs were entirely wrong, so at least these are correct. I'm sure the solution will be finding the right, full copper washers. This has been going on since we installed the new rear calipers a while ago.  I'll keep after it and let you know how we finally solve it.


Napa also had these GM specific 1/4 inch terminals. I Needed one for one of the wiper motor connectors.  I bought a few just in case.


Regarding progress...We've been working on the front chassis harness.  Spread it out on the board same as the main dash harness and started checking and cleaning wires.  Needed to replace a couple terminals, clean up a couple splices and replace the marker sockets, but it's not too bad.
Heres' the harness spread out on the bench
 

The wiring around the alternator was the worst:


And the bulk head connector is a mess:


I'll post some pics when we are done.

In addition to this bulk head forward chassis harness, I received a new rear light harness we need to check out against the stock harness it replaces.  We also need to remove and go through the harness on the passenger side door.  A couple wires were cut back when we removed the doors to do the hinges last year, and the door lock switch terminal has a broken wire or two.  I also received a battery relocating kit, so we're gonna put that in too...

Thanks for checking in...
 
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

MNBob

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2016, 06:36:33 AM »
I just redid my alternator area wiring.  Those wires with all the kinks in your picture (that are enclosed by the alt bat terminal label) are the fuseable links.  They are 14 gauge and 16 gauge; each one smaller gauge than the wires they attach to.  The orange 12 gauge is the main power to the fuse block; I am not sure what the pink with black stripe 14 gauge is for.
1979 TATA Extreme TKO .64
Hedman elite; Pypes 2.5; Borla XS; MSD 6A; Edelbrock intake; open scoop; modified Q-jet; Powermaster 150; 4 core radiator/Mark VIII fan; RobbMc mini starter; subframe connectors; solid body mounts; fiberglass rear springs; poly sway bar and link bushings; 81 master; D52’s; Blazer disks; 225/60 & 235/60 17's TrueContact's; relays for PW, PDL, lights; keyless entry

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2016, 08:24:44 PM »
Thanks MN.  I appreciate the input.  There were so many splices in here that it almost looked to me as though someone had removed the fusable links (FL) and replaced them with regular wire?  I don't have any experience with them, but I expected that they'd look different than the wire before and/or after the FL itself?  I think the extra wire you noticed might be one that ran from the BAT terminal on the alternator over to the HVAC harness.  I'm not sure how common that jumper from the BAT directly to the HVAC is, but it definitely looked factory installed on my 301T car with AC.

I do have another question maybe someone can chime in on...A bit of background. This was a 301Turbo car that had the computer removed before I bought it. Then, I installed a 403 Olds motor after breaking 2 of the 301's.
Since we are doing an LSx install we marked all the engine harness wires and cut them about a foot out from the bulkhead to be sorted out later.  There were two wires that went nowhere...light blue and dark blue.  I think I may have misidentified one of them?  I had marked the light blue as Choke and the dark blue as Clutch? I think I thought it was related to the AC or something?  Anyway, I think that the dark blue wire might really be the oil pressure wire for the gauges?
Anyone familiar with the 81 301T wiring know for sure?  Is the dark blue wire in the engine harness to the oil pressure sender?
I'm just realized the possible mistake tonight while organizing the 'take-offs' from the harness.  Everything is accounted for except for the oil pressure.  I was going to research more later this week, but if anyone knows....

Thanks!
-Tom
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

MNBob

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #37 on: May 17, 2016, 06:39:37 AM »
I have a 400, but it is a blue wire that goes to the oil pressure sender.  That one and the big thick pink one that goes to the HEI Bat terminal both pop out of the harness behind the left head and run across the top of the bell housing to the right side.  The top two bell housing bolts hold on loop clips for those two wires.
1979 TATA Extreme TKO .64
Hedman elite; Pypes 2.5; Borla XS; MSD 6A; Edelbrock intake; open scoop; modified Q-jet; Powermaster 150; 4 core radiator/Mark VIII fan; RobbMc mini starter; subframe connectors; solid body mounts; fiberglass rear springs; poly sway bar and link bushings; 81 master; D52’s; Blazer disks; 225/60 & 235/60 17's TrueContact's; relays for PW, PDL, lights; keyless entry

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #38 on: June 13, 2016, 09:31:14 PM »
Over the past month or so we were able to get through the rest of the wiring in the car.  Hopefully,  it'll all work when we get it back in and hooked up. That'll be a couple months from now though.  The next big thing will be a Vintage Air set up which needs to get in under the dash before we re-install the dash and main harness.  Budget wise, it'll probably be the end of the summer before I make that purchase.  In the mean time, I did learn a couple things about replacing some of the wiring. I'll share them here...Might save someone some time down the road?

First...My door lock terminals were toast at the switch on the door harness'.


I wasn't able to find pigtail / terminals for the power door locks for a 1981 F-Body.  They probably exist somewhere but I couldn't find them.  While researching I learned that many of the late 70's GM cars used the same door lock system.  So, I ordered these....1979 Corevette power door lock switch pigtails from one of the 'popular' restoration catalogs for 'Vettes. Same company has F-Body catalogs, but they don't show these parts.


On the Corvette the grounded switch is on the right, while on the F-Body it's on the left. And a couple of the wire colors are different. I figured out what was what based on position in the terminal and swapped sides.  I'm about 80% sure this'll work OK.  If it doesn't, at least it looks much better...


Also....
The Dome light wires were burned up and brittle.


 I haven't been able to find a replacement Center mount dome/courtesy light harness for the Firebird. M&H has them up to '79, but their catalog and website doesn't show photos or any other indication that the 79 and 81 were the same. Similarly, other Autowire sources don't list this part for Firebirds.  After some searching I found the following on a Camaro parts website:


It's an exact match for the stock firebird dome light harness....


I provided feedback to the manufacturer about this match, hopefully they'll verify and update their catalog and/or website.

Other than that...
I got the trunk cleaned out.  This might not seem like much, but sometime around '96, 5 qts of used motor oil spilled out in the trunk.  I cleaned it out when it happened, but never really got it 'really' clean.  The paint in the low point pealed right up from being coated in oil so long, and I found what appears to have been a plastic bag that all but returned to it's original petrol base! Anyway, it was a couple few hours and a couple days to clean it out, repaint and get the battery tray installed.   





So, next up..
I need to route and run the battery cables up to the front end. 
I'll probably work on some odds and ends...I'm done with the rear-end so I'll install the rear harness and probably the intermediate wire harness.  Maybe paint some interior parts, but nothing big until I get the HVAC ordered.

Thanks for checking in....Take care.
-Tom

« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 09:38:44 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

1981 Turbo Trans-Am
Build thread - http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=69897.0

Box

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2016, 01:13:43 PM »
That is a vented AGM battery right?  I only ask because a standard wet cell vents caustic fumes that aren't good to breathe in for one, but it'll also rust out your trunk.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2016, 01:13:43 PM »
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