2020-B1-7

Author Topic: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project  (Read 71677 times)

sensei451

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #600 on: April 05, 2020, 12:14:32 PM »
Hello Tom,

Not sure this helps since you already got other 6x9-speakers, but I am really happy with these alpnes:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004WWNSMO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Sub woofer not needed with these and a good amp IMO.

I'll be doing the weatherstrip aswell, it's still wrapped and waiting to be installed. How long did it take and what else is needed? I imagine it's glued down?

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #601 on: April 09, 2020, 10:11:14 PM »
Those Alpines are probably a step or two up from the ones I originally had installed, Sensei.  I was happy with them at the time...Just got lucky with those 'last years model' Infinity's being in my price range. 
Regarding the weatherstripping install...  I'll tell you it -is- glued down with 3M Weatherstrip adhesive.   And, I'd recommend paying attention to how/where adhesive is placed on the originals, take pics and put the adhesive in the same place during the new install.   It's not difficult per se', but making it function seems to be difficult...
 All the new stuff appears to be in place were it needs to be.  It looks good, and seems to be aligned properly, but...My windows wont roll completely up with the doors closed, and the T-Tops leak like a sieve right at the joint where the strip on the glass top meets the piece attached to the car.
So I'm probably not the guy to be giving weatherstrip advice at this point in time.  I've decided to wait to try to fine tune things until I get the new side-glass in the car probably sometime next month.   The car's not going to be out in the weather anyway, and it seems logical to wait to try to fine tune the window adjustment and seal alignment until I'm final installing the glass.

  My weatherstrip experience is a good analogy of how the week went.
First the good news....
The water test on the belt was helpful.  The terrible constant squeaking was the (somehow) the belt.  I wont guess how/why the maybe 1200 mile belt started squealing so terribly...Whatever it is a new belt solved the problem.

And, the interior's about 90% 'done'.  So...Here they are the first pics of the interior....

1-IMG_2317 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

2-IMG_2315 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

3-IMG_2316 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I'm really happy with how it's turning out.  I sort of lucked out that the '81 bird is 2-tone which pretty much mirrors the two reds in use in the interior...

IMG_2328 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Ok.  So it's all good.  But I did run into a few issues...
The T-Top 'U' shaped trim was tricky to get installed 1) because of the headliner thickness and 2) 'Cause it took me a while to figure out how the clips up there work.  I'll post some close ups of how those clips work later...Because 3) I have to take the driver side off to repair the paint I knicked up trying to install it.
The interior install was much tougher than I expected.  Took 2+ full days.  16+ hours.   Turns out, in the rear especially stuff needs to go on in a very specific order.  I had (in my head) a general understanding of the order, but if you take this stuff apart make note of the order stuff is layered.  It's important and will save you time later on installing and uninstalling pieces.

I'm having trouble getting the door pulls installed over the new door panels.  These things were always a pain to get on and off, but with the new panels the existing screws are too short to even feel the metal of the door to find the hole.  No matter how hard I pushed on the panel.   I ended up having to venture out in this apocalypse to find similar, but longer screws.  The passenger side is now 2/3rds installed, but I can't get that last upper screw to line up.   I didn't get that far with the driver's side 'cause I need to replace a few of the little plastic inserts for the retainers.  (I had thought I replaced them all earlier, but apparently not + I couldn't remember how to hook up the mirror adjustment chumpy to the bezel it sits in.

So, after two days of work...90% done I decided to go for a quick ride around the block.  Well...That belt squeak hadn't been fixed yet. It was awful, but on top of that we quickly started smelling burning rubber....Turns out the right side tire is rubbing the exhaust pipe back there.   Not a big deal, but it did ruin what I thought might be a nice end to a couple days work. 

One other observation...The new seats look great, but the original seat was broken in like an old easy chair. It fit me perfect.   The new foam and springs in the driver seat through off the driving position some.   Only solution there is to put a lot of miles on it I suppose. 

At any rate, I did end up getting to enjoy around 40 minutes of nice evening weather last night.  Driving around the neighborhood and nearby Valley Forge Park at sunset with Julie.  So, I'll consider that a happy ending.

My 'to do' list has once again been emptied and refilled.  So this thread will go on for a little while longer.

Thanks for checking in.  I'll keep you posted on progress on the finishing touches and will post some additional pics when it's all tidied up.

Take care.

-Tom
 
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

Maxthe222

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #602 on: April 09, 2020, 11:37:38 PM »
Well, the colour is looking very consistent across the board, I'm sure you'd be pleased with that!

With the U-shaped T-Top trim, was that the original or were they repops? Did you paint them if they are repops? I had the same issue re installing the interior on my Y84 as the trimmer didn't cut the headliner too well, and that was with the OEM board and trim
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula 400 4-Speed

737driver

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #603 on: April 10, 2020, 12:18:10 AM »
It’s great to see how it’s all coming along! I’m sure you’ll have some more great times driving it . There is always going to be a few things to do on it but at least now your driving a great looking car!
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
1970 Firebird
1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible

sensei451

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #604 on: April 10, 2020, 05:55:59 AM »
Glad you got an opportunity to take it for a nice ride around valley forge. Thats where my oldest daughter learned to ride the bicycle haha.

Car looks stunning. Maybe need to take a step back and just enjoy and have a beer when things arent running smoothly..

Wish I could help with the belt, but as you know i have about 25% of your knowledge. I thought belts were supposed to not give you such a hard time, so a bit surprised.

roadking77

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #605 on: April 10, 2020, 08:12:15 AM »
Interior looks great, I still have the same problem with my window seals. I put them all the up then have to slam the door to close. Another thing I do is to put them up as far as they will go everytime I park the car. I figure they will seat in a little further each time until someday they may be right. To date, it may be a few more years, LOL. I only drive it when its nice anyway. My tops also leak like a scieve. I just keep my hose away when I wash it. The one time I was stuck in a down pour I was at a show in Lancaster and my windows wouldn't go up, so it pretty much washed out my int. anyway!!
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

Nexus

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #606 on: April 10, 2020, 11:25:42 PM »
looks sharp!!
Charlie

79 Esprit but like many, it will be a T/A clone
(19 years and counting but still have her)

FormTA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #607 on: April 11, 2020, 05:46:06 AM »
Looks great Tom! This is another area where I tend to stall as things don't work or end up perfect and I get discouraged and quite.  I need to look at the big picture and stop scrutinizing every little detail.  Your car looks amazing and if there was any flaws I can't see see the trees because of the forest. As for T top seals, have always heard of the issues so I kept my originals in place and worked around them as they are in perfect condition, still soft and don't leak (but a drop or two). Good luck and I hope the break in for you.

Again, beautiful car man. You should be proud!
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???

Names, Luke. If I hear anyone telling me they're my father....

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #608 on: April 11, 2020, 10:48:13 PM »
I wish I could've held on to my original seals.  Even though they didn't leak, they were in bad shape and getting the car stripped down for paint, it didn't seem logical not to pull them out.  Hopefully, I can get them to seal little better with some time. And, luckily the car is now a fair weather car.

Max...
The U-trim around the tops are painted re-pop pieces.  The originals were in really, really bad shape and could not be saved.

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement everyone! I appreciate the feedback.  It is easy to get sucked in to the details and not "see the forest for the trees".  Luckily it is temporary.  The car does look fabulous.  It's getting dialed in a little better every week.   I can see how these things are never really 'done' though.  Today helped to remind me that that is a positive.
Tyler and I spent a few hours outside knocking some stuff off the white board.   He's helped here and there over the years, but his interest has definitely piqued now that the finished product is in sight.  So, it was nice to spend a few hours hanging out with him.   

A couple highlights from today...
Aside from touching up the U-Trim around the T-Top, I'm calling the interior 'done'.   Everything that needs to go in is in and buttoned down (Including the stupid triangle seat-belt holders:
2-IMG_2349 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

And...I came up with a solution for the rear marker lights.   For some reason you can find the '68 Marker lights in a couple different catalogs, but I couldn't find the housings for the backside (to hold the lights) anywhere.   Looking at used ones it was obvious that they wouldn't hold the '81 light sockets.   So although we got the exterior trim and lenses installed, I didn't have any idea how to make them work.  What I ended up doing was reusing the '81 rear marker light housings...turned up on their ends:
1-IMG_2333 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

In order to get them seated tight against the bend in that panel and to get the light centered in the '68 lens I cut them down:

3-IMG_2335 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Drilled holes for the posts and the fit right in there...(note: The trunk is technically not part of the interior, so it was not included in my 'it's done' comment above.  Still some cleaning up to do back there...LOL.)
2-IMG_2332 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I'm really happy with how they look:
1-IMG_2353 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I also installed the switchback turn signal bulbs...
3-IMG_2358 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I really like the look of these.  Although, I'm not super crazy about the LED/Incandescent combo...
1-IMG_2359 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I have an H4 conversion out there waiting to be installed.  So, eventually I'll be able to install headlights with a whiter light.  That said, I'm happy with 'em.

 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08tE_wydE7o" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08tE_wydE7o</a>

Alright, that's it for now.  Thanks again for checking in and for the encouragement!

Take care.

-Tom
« Last Edit: April 11, 2020, 10:51:16 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

roadking77

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #609 on: April 12, 2020, 08:37:49 AM »
I really like those turn signals.
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #609 on: April 12, 2020, 08:37:49 AM »

ryeguy2006a

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #610 on: April 13, 2020, 09:45:40 AM »
Nice work Tom, your car is so nice!!

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

New project: 1968 Camaro LS6, T56, Speedtech, Hotchkis, DSE, Z51 13.4" front brakes, LS1 rear disks, etc.
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=74591.0

b_hill_86

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #611 on: April 13, 2020, 05:57:21 PM »
I seriously considered picking up some of those turn signals too but wondered how it would look with incandescent headlights. I figured that would cause me to feel the need for new headlights too lol. I like it though.
-Brian-

1977 Trans Am 400 4 speed

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #612 on: April 27, 2020, 11:26:19 PM »
Thanks everyone.
Still working on cleaning up some loose ends.   Learned a couple things and have a couple observations after getting maybe 4 hours of seat time over the past week or so...
First...I learned I installed the lower forward seat belts wrong...
When I installed the carpet I thought this lower section of the seat belt was covered by the plastic piece (which I didn't have at the time):
5-IMG_2370 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Turns out that's wrong.  The 4 inches or so above bolt are supposed to be covered by the carpet.  The cut for the forward seat belt is supposed to be up around where the sill is.  So it connects under the carpet like this:

6-IMG_2372 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Here's how that final plastic piece sits and covers the top couple inches...
4-IMG_2373 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I also learned that the Dakota Digital speedo boxes are not water proof...
Mine became un-responsive after I got the car home from the body shop.  It wouldn't spin up or enter set-up mode at all.  Dakota Digital took it back to investigate and sent me these pics:
1-LETN5153 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr
2-LAWB1942 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Yikes!   They indicated it was 'full of mud'.   Now I know that can't exactly true...I haven't had the car off-road recently.
I suspect the brown might be rust?  This box was mounted on the cowl, inside the driver side fender.   I thought it'd be relatively dry there.  Either I mis-calculated that, and it got soaked when I drove in some really heavy rain on the way to TN last year, OR it got really wet during one of the pressure washings in the time it was in the body shop.  I do know that the car was cleaned that way in various states of disassembly over the course of the year. And, that I never mentioned not to get the box wet to the body shop.   
At any rate, Dakota Digital was kind enough to replace the box under warranty.     So all I'm out is the time and annoyance of having to get it out and re-installed.

Another lesson...
 I learned I neglected to install the Trinary pressure switch on my vintage air setup.   So, after it was charged it was observed that the high-side pressure was around 20% higher than 'normal' in the time between the AC coming on and the car turning on the fan at 205 Deg.  I have the switch and relay, but need to figure out if that's something I need to rectify right away or not.  I've come to the conclusion that'll depend on whether the local shop that charged the system will charge me full price to evacuate the system (so I can replace the pressure switch) and recharge the system.  I left them a message today. Hopefully they will cut me a break too.

Final lesson...
 I really need to do something about the ride quality and jarring hits going through the car on the crappy roads around here.  I've found a couple paint chips which I suspect were caused by body flex. One below the drivers door, one at the top corner of the drivers door and two more...One on each side of the hood, rear edge where meets up with the front fenders.   Based on the seat of the paints feel of how the suspension hits are traveling through the body, and the location of these chips, I believe they were most likely caused by the body flexing!  The gaps look fine in these areas, and I know nothing external has come in contact with the paint in these areas.
I ordered sub-frame connectors tonight and intend to order PTFB's 'G-Brace' brackets maybe next payday.  It's a problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.

OK, so for some more positive stuff...
I got the rear spoiler decal installed without any issues:
 1-IMG_2406 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

The rear spoiler looked bare without it.  I love the color combo.

Also, I didn't like how the vintage air drain just disappeared into the carpet.  You can't really see it unless you're looking under there, but it looked unfinished.   I found I could use one of the grommets that came with the carpet to clean that up a little. 
3-IMG_2388 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr
2-IMG_2387 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

The car is getting more comfortable with each drive, but the suspension hits hurt driveabilty more than I expected.
I'm also slightly disappointed with the power. Maybe it's me being spoiled by the 400HP, 6spd, 3:92 rear'd drive train in my challenger? Or maybe the engine or trans are a little tired?  Or perhaps it's just the 3:23 rear/stock 4L60E combo, but it's not as 'quick' as I'd like.   It's not really a 'problem'...It can certainly get out of its own way. And don't get me wrong, I love this thing and the LS is a big improvement over the 403.   But, I'm used to being able to break the tires loose on a whim, and an engine that spins up pretty quickly once it gets up over 3000 RPM.   At any rate, Performance Mods are already planned for phase two. So between then and now I might get a shift kit installed to tighten up the shifts, and may be get my tuner to go over it again to make sure there's nothing there they can do.  (When I took it to them last year it was specifically to correct a lean condition code.  I don't know if they spent any time with it beyond correcting that code).

That's about it for now.   My little white board is still full of details and loose ends to tidy up, so this thread lives on!

Thanks for checking in!

-Tom
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 11:31:54 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

sensei451

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #613 on: April 28, 2020, 06:09:03 AM »
Have you changed the front springs? I am still running the 81 ones and it's not that terrible, really.

I do have the moroso ones lined up but waiting for new wheels + 255's to be installed together.

In fact the ride quality is improved overall in my case even with old springs, new body bushings helps of course. Very smooth but yet rattle-free and some amount of firmness.

Our experiences are different with ls1, I'm sure you have at least twice the grip or more with brand new 17" vs my 15" 225, but still, I have no issue breaking the tires loose, the issue I have is to keep them from doing so... Ryan told me I may have higher trans line pressure and my trans was rebuilt. That makes gear shifts almost impossible without chirping, and in rain, much more dangerous.

Overall, still feel that the car is overpowered with Ls1 and not suitable for inexperienced drivers.

Maybe the 17" wheels plays into the different sensation of driving? Modern low-profile vs balloon-tires.

Glad you got the speed-sender exchanged. Your interior looks great. Reminds me that I'm not fully done yet, i have my computer there and it's a cable mess.

ryeguy2006a

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #614 on: April 28, 2020, 08:30:58 AM »
The car is getting more comfortable with each drive, but the suspension hits hurt driveabilty more than I expected.
I'm also slightly disappointed with the power. Maybe it's me being spoiled by the 400HP, 6spd, 3:92 rear'd drive train in my challenger? Or maybe the engine or trans are a little tired?  Or perhaps it's just the 3:23 rear/stock 4L60E combo, but it's not as 'quick' as I'd like.   It's not really a 'problem'...It can certainly get out of its own way. And don't get me wrong, I love this thing and the LS is a big improvement over the 403.   But, I'm used to being able to break the tires loose on a whim, and an engine that spins up pretty quickly once it gets up over 3000 RPM.   At any rate, Performance Mods are already planned for phase two. So between then and now I might get a shift kit installed to tighten up the shifts, and may be get my tuner to go over it again to make sure there's nothing there they can do.  (When I took it to them last year it was specifically to correct a lean condition code.  I don't know if they spent any time with it beyond correcting that code).


That's some great progress Tom, but I'm sorry to hear that you are a little disappointed with your initial impressions of the car. I'm going to guess that they pulled timing and added fuel to get rid of that lean code. In the process they likely killed your power. I'd love to pull the tune on your car and see what they have done. I'm guessing that your lack of power is the tune more than a tired motor. It's amazing how one table in the tune or faulty sensor can kill power.

If you have access to any code readers that allow you to see the live data on your car it could be helpful to diagnose a potential sensor issue. You may have a lazy or faulty sensor that could be affecting your tune. I'd look at your IAT, MAP and O2 sensor first, if you can.

Also, before you tear into the trans for a shift kit, you may want to have your tuner bump up the line pressures to see if that firms up your shifts like Richard said.

Maybe this summer we can plan to meet up somewhere halfway on a Saturday or something. (Assuming we are released back into the wild... #COVID19) If we do, I can bring my laptop and check it out.


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

New project: 1968 Camaro LS6, T56, Speedtech, Hotchkis, DSE, Z51 13.4" front brakes, LS1 rear disks, etc.
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=74591.0

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #614 on: April 28, 2020, 08:30:58 AM »


2020-B1-8


FormTA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #615 on: April 28, 2020, 08:35:38 PM »
I like the updates even if they are just you fine tuning it. As for the jarring ride, that is something I worry about too. I wonder if a set of Viking adjustable shocks would make a big difference?? I just installed some cheap QA1 basic shocks we'll see how they do.
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???

Names, Luke. If I hear anyone telling me they're my father....

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #616 on: April 28, 2020, 11:51:43 PM »
Never get tired of the compliments and positive feedback. Thanks guys.  Had the car out for little while today and it definitely gets a lot of looks and complements where ever it goes. 

For the record the suspension is PTFB's 'Super Duty LS1 SB(small block)' kit front and rear. That kit is springs and shocks. It is the least aggressive kit PTFB sells. I also have their solid body mount bushings.  All the other soft suspension parts are 'stock' style rubber replacements.
After some feedback from others with the same combo, I suspect my experience is anomaly. 
I have seen suggestions on modified Moroso drag springs, and I may pursue that option.  For now, I'm getting the sub-frame connectors I already had planned to add 'later'.   And, I reached out to PTFB (They've been helpful and responsive to prior unrelated requests and/or 'issues'.).  I inquired whether or not it's possible to verify I have the SB springs and not the BB springs.  I don't know if the two are visibly different or can be measured in some way (in the car) in order to verify what I have in there.

Regarding the power level and trans 'feel'...I'll definitely follow-up regarding potential tune issues before through any parts at it.  Thanks for that advice. I do have a code reader that shows some of the PID's available from OBD-II, but I'm not sure what ranges to expect and the PID list is limited with my cheap parts store scanner.   I will take you up on getting together once things lighten up here in the NE.  Thanks Ryeguy!

I don't want to seem to be complaining, and I don't necessarily think it's being taken that way.  I'm loving this thing. I just want to share my experience good and bad in case it might help someone else.  I'll definitely share how I end up dialing things in to meet my desired ride and feel.  I have no doubt I'll get it sorted out, thanks to places like PTFB and the experience of the guys here at TAC.   
 

Thanks again.  i'll keep you posted.
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 #617 on: May 21, 2020, 10:52:51 PM »
Hey everyone,
 It's been a few weeks...almost fell of the front page there.  I've had some time to enjoy the car and we've spent some time trying to dial in the suspension and a odds and ends that pop-up as we put miles on the car.  My last post was mostly about the suspension, so I'll start there....

The suspension/ride was at the same time too harsh on bumps and imperfections AND 'floaty' on the highway.  Most pressing was the harshness.  The car is literally beating itself up.   I never did hear back from PTFB on my inquiry about my suspension complaints.  But, based on some prior experience when the rear was initially installed, I figured I'd try removing the front shocks.  It's easy to do and I could get a feel for whether or not they were contributing to the harshness and tough ride over bumps.   The shocks I have installed are these Doetsch Tech shocks from the PTFB '1LE' kit:

2-IMG_2477 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

After pulling them out I learned they appeared to be adjustable.  In the pic above you can see the three triangles indicating 'XF', 'F', and 'R'. And a little indicator on the shaft that apparently is used to select the settings.  I could not find any info on what those settings were or how to actually set them on the Internet or in the PTFB documentation I received (5+ years ago) with the suspension kit.

At any rate, I removed the front shocks and took the car out for a drive.  The ride was much less punishing over bumps and imperfections.  So, since they were cheap and easy to get, I decided to replace the Doetsch Tech shocks with a set of stock replacements.  (At this point I still had no info on how to 'set' the Doetsch's).  So I went with these ACDelco 'stock' replacements:

2-IMG_2444 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Swapping shocks helped a pretty fair amount.  I can still feel the bumps moving through the car, but most of the harshness is gone. I would say it's about 60% better.  More livable and a significant 'improvement' (In my opinion and for my intended use).

Now, since then I've obtained the spec and instruction sheet for those adjustable shocks.  I (no doubt) probably had them set in correctly and/or with a  'mix' of settings. IE maybe one side of the front was too soft while the other was 'extra firm'.  Which might explain how I got the worse of both worlds with a floaty 'harsh' ride.    For the benefit of others who may come across these Doetsch Tech adjustable shocks, here's the specs and instructions for making adjustments:

1-IMG_2479 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

For now I'll hold on to these and (with my new found knowledge) may be able to use them to make additional fine adjustments to the ride and suspension performance further down the road. 

The other thing I did for the ride and feel is purchase a set of sub-frame connectors from PTFB.  Unfortunately, I ordered them around 4/28 and haven't heard a thing since.  I understand they are a small shop and likely short handed due to the COVID situation, but still...It'd be nice to get some sort of update from them.  I've received no response to inquiries.  Those connectors are a necessity now.  Because after putting a couple hundred miles on the car over the past few weeks, I'm finding evidence of the body flex in the paint.   For example, the top corner of the drivers door has developed chips  on both the door and body...
 2-IMG_2590 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Similar issues are showing at the rear corners of the hood.  The car has around 200,000 miles on it. It may be floppier than lower mile examples.  I've got to get it tightened down better.  So, I'm (trying) to limit taking it out until I get those sub-frame connectors installed.

So..Pro-Touring F-Body...If you are listening...Any update on my order status would be appreciated. It's become critical to my project. Thank you.

Other mile stones over the past month....

3-IMG_2463 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

What's the big deal there?   Well, installing that plastic stuff in the door panels means I (believe) I've assembled the doors for the last time!  We got new glass installed and adjusted as good as I can get it.  No more pulling the door panels off!  That's a big deal I think. 

We also got the Trinary switch and AC Fan relay installed to turn on one of the fans when the AC is turned on.  So that system is 'done' too.  Although I think we might adjust the wiring a little to swap which fan comes on with the relay. (Currently it's the same as the ECU turns on for the initial 'low' setting it engages when the temp hits 205.  I think I want to swap it to the other fan so that if both the AC and the car want to turn on the fans at the same time we end up with both fans on.  As it is now that condition would leave only one fan on until the ECU commanded a 'high' fan setting (I think).

OK so on to some fun stuff.    No offense to any of you other guys...but this thing is the most beautiful TA I've ever seen.  I LOVE it.  The stance is almost exactly what I was looking for, the colors are perfect, the decals are just what I imagined, the interior really 'pops' but isn't too loud when you're in there.  It literally draws a crowd wherever it goes.   
A couple weekends ago Ty and I took a drive down to the city and came across an impromptu 'cruise' with a bunch of cars parked along Boat House Row.  We parked the car and came back to 6 or 8  people around it taking pictures.  Here are a couple of the pics we took that evening...

 2-IMG_E2466 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

1-IMG_E2476 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Last weekend we went down to a different part of the city (Penn's Landing) with the intention of taking some more pics of the car.   We ran into a younger guy down there with his DSLR Camera bag taking pics of the city.  He asked if he could take shots of the car and we spent around 20 minutes in an impromptu photo shoot.   Below are a few pics from that evening...

6-IMG_2499 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

5-IMG_2493 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

4-IMG_2489 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

7-IMG_2523 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

8-IMG_2541 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

9-IMG_2548 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

Those last couple of pics are from a Pedestrian bridge which is lit up with color changing LED lights underneath.  It looks like a matchbox car. I love 'em.

So...Whats next? 
Well #1 on the list are those Sub-frame connectors.  I'm really trying not to drive too much until I get those installed.
#2 on the list is a tune.  Ryan...As soon as you're comfortable, I'd like to meet up somewhere to let you have a crack at it.  Name the place and time.
Beyond those there a bunch of little things...
#3 The headlights suck.  The first night out was sketchy. I had them adjusted too high and couldn't see doo doo^ on the road immediately in front of me.  They are the 'base H4656 bulbs.  Mismatched from side to side (I bought them at different times through the project...One set of high/low during the electrical testing and a second set when the car was ready to be put back together.)  I've adjusted them down since, but they are still not very good.  I ordered a set of 'silverstar' low beams which are supposed to be brighter and whiter.
Also on the list...
I need a place to put my phone while driving. Something on or around the console to hold it while it's plugged in to the stereo.   
My dome light isn't properly retained...It keeps dropping down from the headliner a bit. I found a set of those push on retainers in the Parts store, so I need to get those installed.  The cigarette lighter blows a fuse when used. Need to install a replacement.
And, finally... I'm working on a close out panel for the turbo scoop.   Somehow I lost the original three boost light panel that fits in there.  I hadn't intended on re-using it, but still.  It sucks that it's lost.  I was going to use it as the template for a new block off and/or gauge pod.  My idea of some sort of LED light bar for a tach has morphed into a 3 or 4 gauge pod for red digital 2 1/16 Gauges.  I bought a cheap volt gauge to see how that size gauge might fit and look under there, and I like it a lot...

3-IMG_2602 by Tom Sherer, on Flickr

I think for now I'll go with that volt gauge, a speedo, and tach with that type of digital display.   I may put a vacuum/boost gauge in now or just save an open spot for just a boost gauge for if/when my turbo plans ever pan out.

That's about it for now.
Thanks for checking in!

Take care. 

-Tom
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 11:21:03 PM by TATurbo »
Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

Grand73Am

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #618 on: May 22, 2020, 06:55:17 AM »
I enjoyed your update. The car does look great.

As for the subframe connectors, I bought some from PTFB around the same time you did, and am waiting too. I had not heard anything either, so I emailed and received a reply about a week ago that they had just finished moving to a new place and will be getting back to shipping out orders soon.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 09:58:17 AM by Grand73Am »
Steve F.

sensei451

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #619 on: May 22, 2020, 08:09:49 AM »
Awesome update as always, great photos! Makes me question my 15 inch wheel choice..

Hope you get the suspension in order for nice cruising, I just got my car back from shop with the moroso's installed. I'll update later tonight.

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #619 on: May 22, 2020, 08:09:49 AM »

roadking77

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #620 on: May 22, 2020, 07:57:42 PM »
Looks Great Tom, glad youre getting things dialed in. I especially like those overhead shots.
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
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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FormTA

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #621 on: May 23, 2020, 04:56:26 AM »
Car looks beautiful! You have done an amazing job on it. I'm sure you are proud.  The people stopping and looking at it are the greatest compliments in my opinion.  That is one of the things I'm looking forward to.
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???

Names, Luke. If I hear anyone telling me they're my father....

RamblerRacer

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #622 on: May 23, 2020, 08:18:43 AM »
Tom. First off, wow the car looks great and it seems like it gets the attention it deserves.

 Looking up in the thread I was reading about the harsh ride issue. I thought the ride in the TA was real harsh to after upgrading to some Global West springs,  I played around with shocks too. Finally bit the bullet and spent the money on Bilsteins and it tamed it down wonderfully. They are a bit more spendy, but worth it.

  IMO. The drag you showed is a drag application shock with not much use on the street 90/10 is definitely the drag setting if you want to pick the nose up and have it stay there for weight transfer. Middle is OK but those shocks in that setting are not much better bc of the compromise to make the 90/10 setting work

Maxthe222

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #623 on: May 23, 2020, 07:35:54 PM »
Are you gunna add the red pinstriping like how you had it in those old pics? I think the pinstriping was nice and unique (since no one does red and it's underrated) and really matched the car
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 07:40:32 PM by Maxthe222 »
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula 400 4-Speed

TATurbo

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #624 on: May 23, 2020, 08:58:26 PM »
Thanks a lot for the suspension info. I appreciate the input.   I -thought- maybe that 90/10 setting sounded like a 'drag shock', but I don't really much about those things.  So, I appreciate the info!  I had considered Bilstein's (I've had good experiences with them in the past).  I went with the ACDelco's in this case  'cause they were cheap (Less than $100.00 for all four), they were immediately available, and this was partially a 'test' to see how shocks impacted my complaint.  I'm glad to hear Bilstein's work well on these cars.  I've made a note of it in case I want to make adjustments in the future.
 Do you know specifically which model you are running?

I also appreciate the info Re: PTFB's situation.  I'm glad to hear they are doing 'OK' and are just backlogged because of a move.  I think I saw another person get a response from PTFB on the boards here saying they were short handed too.  I'm sure they'll get caught up soon. I've had good experiences with them in the past.

Max,
 I'm definitely not going to do the full 'SE' type pinstripe treatment like what was on the car previously.  I had considered it, but I'm really loving how it looks as is.  For example, I was looking forward to putting the '4 Wheel Disc' decals on the door handles.  I thought they were very "80's".  But after I put one on I decided I didn't like how it broke up the black, so I pulled it off.  I'm considering some pin-stripping.  Maybe just around the spoilers?  As it stands right now I'm so stoked on the look 'as-is' that, if I do change anything appearance wise, it'll be down the road a bit.

Sensei, I'll be keeping an eye out for your impression of those Moroso springs.  Please do let us know how you like 'em.  Regarding the wheel choice...I wouldn't second guess.  I like the look of the original rims.   My brother and I just went back and forth picking out rims for the C3 he's building.  Thing is, there's no wrong answer.  I'm 100% sure the ride height of my car is way too high for some people. Most people don't like much wheel-well > Tire gap these days.  And I get it, a tight fit wheel tire combo looks great.  It's just not the look I was going for. I like that is sits up a bit in the back end.  And, it's hard to go wrong keeping with the stock size.  Any size shiny new snowflakes look great IMHO.

Thanks again for checking in guys. 
I'll keep you posted on the sub-frame connectors.  I'm very curious to see how much of a difference they make in my wet-noodle of a car.
 

Tom
King of Prussia, PA

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

sensei451

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #625 on: May 24, 2020, 05:04:29 PM »
Tom, as I wrote in my thread I think scarebird is right on with his moroso springs. No complaints, runs smooth. The million dollar question is whether to cut or not before first test fit.. I went with scarebird and took a half loop off, look at my pictures for reference.

I understand you want to exhaust all options before replacing springs, seems like a nasty job. I didn't do it myself but left it to the pros. The shop did a great job and even offered me a beer at the shop when I picked it up, it was a great time. They really put in the effort.

RamblerRacer

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Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #626 on: May 26, 2020, 07:58:59 PM »
Tom,

Here is the link to Summit where I bought the shocks.
Both front and rear are the B6 variant

https://www.summitracing.com/search/brand/bilstein/part-type/shocks-and-struts/year/1980/make/pontiac/model/firebird

My

Re: 1981 Turbo Trans Am project
« Reply #626 on: May 26, 2020, 07:58:59 PM »
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