🔧 BUILD LAME Turbo V6 Camaro

General Information

Hello! Welcome to the shit show! I am updating this post in 2021 to explain what new readers are about to witness. If I knew that this thread and build were going to explode into what it is today, I would have started it out a lot different.

This car was (and still is) a basket case. The whole inspiration for starting this project was to start learning how to modify engines in a car that I didn't like. That way, if and when I screwed up, I wouldn't be ruining a nice car. It spiraled out of control from the first moment that I felt boost. I loved what I had created, but it took a ton of work to get to where I was. As soon as I got the car running nicely I was always saying "I'm going to fix______, and THEN I'll just enjoy driving it." You know the drill. Drive, break, fix, repeat! Before I knew it, I enjoyed driving and working on this turd more than the nice car I was trying to preserve!

The point is that the focus of this thread shifts A LOT. To complicate matters, I never have just one ongoing project open at a time. I listed some thread contents with links below. I will update this as new milestones or big updates happen. Just know that even if you click on the shortcut, you may have to scroll past other project posts to reveal the outcome. There are also some mini-projects and very helpful advice from other members in between, so read the whole dang thing if you want!

2018-2019
1. A late introduction
2. Discovering how a PCV works (and plugging it)
3. Custom grill for intercooler
4. Fuel pump trap door
5. Learning that I'll never learn anything from my goofy wide band gauge
6. Deleting AC completely, but retaining heat
2020
7. Low profile heater hose fittings
8. Deleting an air bag without setting a light on the dash
9. Starting a second round of floor repairs
10. ABS delete and line lock installation
- A separate thread for the electrons
11. Installing catch cans with nice brackets (Way overkill)
12. Figuring out the "blow by" problem once and for all (F-body intake plug)
13. Second clutch job, first rear cover job, and preliminary transmission swap research
14. Floors are "done", and Interior is installed.
15. I don't know how to tune, but this wide band might help.
16. Poly trans mount. Yeah, it actually deserves a link.
17. I waved the tuning white flag. Dyno Brian sets me straight!
18. T5 Pro5.0 shifter
19. New shifter was too much fun. OG T5 explodes, and my transmission conversion ideas start to get serious.
-TKX conversion
-TKX swap official write-up
20. Reconfiguring my exhaust for a quieter and less leaky future
21. I'm not done enjoying this car for the year, so I install a $100 T5 instead of a bulletproof conversion. SPOILER ALERT: It only lasts two months.
22. Minor repairs/updates that make the car livable (lighting, stereo, speedometer re-zero, and a clutch master cylinder that actually does it's job!)
23. Wheels and addressing rust again since I got time!
2021
24. Custom center caps
25. 1.9 roller rockers and LS6 springs
26. CAI V2.0
27. TKX is delayed so it's time to address the little annoyances.
-OE pan is junk. Dorman pan gets hot rodded
28. TKX is still delayed, so I install just one poly engine mount and beef up my flimsy turbo drain plumbing
29. TKX does NOT ship the following Monday. Flywheel bolts upgraded to ARP M10 x 1.0
30. When you're on a Chinese garbage budget, you better be ready to work harder. (Oil drain fitting hot rodding)
31. Finally repairing the oil sender pig tail, replacing the other engine mount, and test fitting the TKX.
32. Finally addressing rear brake lines while I wait for more transmission parts.
33. Modifying an ICM for a WOT box
34. Dash gets re-instrumented so that diagnostics become possible.
35. N2MB WOT box
36. Porked crank key. PSA: Be careful installing your balancer!
37. Car runs great after plug change, but the rear main seal needs to be changed again.
38. BURNOUT! Also, I kinda bought a cam.
39. Turbo drain finale (better be) and full exhaust commenced
2022
40. Downpipe V3 and BMR strut tower brace
41. Panhard bar and relocation for bro truck exhaust
42. Muffler, driveshaft, torque arm, and giving up smoking.
43. First trip to the GS Nationals (feat. time slip)
44. The very custom AC project is born
45. New dyno results (up 50 hp!)
46. Exhaust hanger repair before Michigan/S.S. Badger/Wisconsin trip
47. Sizing a better turbo
48. Painting but still not installing the IS3 heads and Monster clutch unboxing
49. Firewall brace
50. New ECM
2023
51. Out of storage and SC engine buy failure #3
52. Modified double roller and spitballing crankcase evac ideas
53. Completing the rear suspension. UMI rear control arms.
54. Cracked headers and L32 swap begins
55. My newest L32 was trash. I'm upgrading the L36 instead
56. Side project: The ultimate-ish intake manifold takes shape


Now back to 2018!
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Now that this car is running and driving, I figured I would start a thread dedicated to all the questions I’m about to pummel this group with. This is the first time I've really built anything to move quicker than stock, so I'm hoping to learn a lot from you guys before I make unnecessary mistakes. I also have a thread in the Turbobuick.com 3800 section, but I'm not getting as much input there due to a lack of audience. Here goes nothing...

The car I have is a 2002 Camaro with only ONE factory option (rear window defogger). The story supposedly goes that my buddy's dad was looking forever for a new Camaro because he never buys anything for a penny more than the best deal. He almost ran out of time as this was the final model year for the F-body, and '03s were already on the market. The dealer from which he found this car bought it for the sole purpose of being able to advertise "Brand new Camaros for under $10k", so this was the one he took home.

Fast forward to 2018. The car was structurally a wreck from living in the rust belt, but has a great interior, okay black paint, a third pedal, a 3800 (which is a plus in my book), and a lot of sentimental value since I remember riding in it when it was brand new. My buddy’s dad handed me the keys in hopes that I would enjoy it and make it a race car. To be honest, I don’t care for F-bodies, but I couldn't resist this one for the reasons above despite knowing that the floors were in desperate need of existing again.

I already had my dream car which is a 1986 Buick Regal Grand National. As much as I love that car, I like it the way it is in fairly stock form and modifying Buicks has gotten terribly expensive anyway. I figured a black 3800 Camaro could easily fulfill my childhood dreams of racing a badass turbo Buick V6 car while being on a budget, so here I am.

The car is now equipped with:
-6765 ebay turbo
-Precision PW40 wastegate
-Custom turbo exhaust utilizing a stock Camaro and FWD manifolds
-Air to air ebay intercooler
-AEM 50-1200 fuel pump
-Siemens Deka 80# fuel injectors
-Open 3” downpipe
-Custom 3” charge pipes
-Intense mail order tune
-Very ugly but functional upright radiator conversion (the core support was all just rust anyway) :dunno:
-Custom space saving AC delete without bypass pulley
-Midwest Chassis bumper support modified to mount my intercooler
-Spec Stage 1 clutch kit

The car is far from refined and has a lot of little issues to sort out, but I will leave the first post as sort of an introduction to that. I hope you enjoy hearing about it. It’s been fun to build!

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b4black

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That's a dumb gauge (literally). Retail E85 can vary in ethanol content, changing the AFR scale. You're probably seeing 83% ethanol in the summer and 70% in the winter. (Could even be as low as 51%)

Even pump gas that everything thinks that stoichiometric is 14.7 AFR is most likely really 14.08 because it's 10% ethanol.


Easiest way around all this is to read in the Lambda scale. Stoichiometric is always 1 regardless of the ethanol content. Then target an AFR of 0.80 or so for power enrichment. The AEM wideband I have can be set to gasoline at 14.7 or lambda (digital display, dip switch on the back). The gauge face can be flipped over for the lambda scale.

 

v6buicks

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Hmmm okay. I didn't know the alcohol content varied that much by season, but it makes sense.

I know narrowband is a terrible way to actually measure anything, but isn't this why a lot of people reference O2 mV? I'm not suggesting that I should do that. I'm just curious.

I wouldn't call the gauge dumb. It just doesn't display its raw value. As it says in your link, they all work in terms of lambda but calculate AFR. Mine does have a 0-5V output that you can use to read or log Lambda. I'm just not using that right now. I wish I wasn't on the stock EMS so that I could tie that in along with an alcohol content sensor, but the 3800 F-body ECMs are kinda stupid and HP tuners doesn't support all the functions anyway. Plus, either my bluetooth adapter or Torque app took a dump on me and doesn't log anything anymore. I could never figure out why, but it never really displayed the things I wanted to see anyway. Maybe someday I'll go with a standalone and teach myself the ways, but I think the short term fix is a dyno/street tune from somebody who has better equipment and knows these cars better than I do.

That innovate gauge is bad ass, but it was way more than I was will to spend. Maybe I could just make rig up a multimeter to my 0-5V output and gorilla tape that sucker to the dash. That'd be kinda hilarious, but based on what you're saying it might tell me something!
 

b4black

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I think people reference O2 mV because that's what the old school scan tools used to output for narrowband sensors. Is that gauge a narrowband? I don't think anyone has looked at narrowbands for years. Widebands are so cheap now. I like use this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N3VGPYS/?tag=tcg21-20

The gauge is dumb because it's locked into a single scale for a fuel that varies. Actually, E85 is about 10:1 AFR for stoichiometric. (9.8 like the needle is pointing too) If you were targeting 8.0 in the summer, you would want to see about the same in the winter. If you E85 is now E51, the AFR will be lower (richer). While richer might help suppress knock, it also indicate the ethanol is too low (less octane, less charge cooling).

Use that gauge, just keep in mind the numbers don't mean much, but where the needle points to does. If you divide the scale by 10 and you're actually very close to Lambda. (9.8/10 is very close to 1)

In HPTuners, you should be able to see what the ECM is commanding for lambda at WOT. Compare that to the gauge /10. They don't need to match actually. Raising the commanded AFR will raise the WOT lambda reading.
 
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v6buicks

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That's a quality explanation. Thanks!

My gauge is wide band, but my scan gauge can display O2 mV. I don't view that anymore, but I was curious.

I don't have HP sadly. I'm in a pickle with that because it's a lot of money, and I'm not sure if it will help me enough to be worth the cost. I'm not saying that it won't help the right person a ton, but I'm not sure if I have what it takes to start digging around without blowing the car up. Even if I could learn how to tune with HP, I worry that I would soon realize that the whole setup is crap. Without any way to automatically adjust fueling with an alcohol content sensor other than retuning the car every time I refuel, I think I'm going to end up wanting a system that's more user friendly and flexible. Then the HP will seem like a bit of a waste. On the other hand, I may get in over head trying to rewire the whole car for an EMS that I still don't know anything about yet. I dunno. It seems like a toss up. With the holidays right around the corner and a big rust hole in the floor, I'm not in the position to really be thinking about that right now anyway!

HOWEVER, this brings me to another question. Since I have that scan gauge, do you know if there's anything else I can look at that would tell me close to the same thing? Maybe maxed out positive fuel trims indicating a lean condition? I may be going in circles here. Obviously I already recognized an issue with a trend. (KR with cold weather) I'm just trying to learn as much as I can with what I have so I can make better educated decisions on weather to buy something like an EMS or HP.

Thanks again. That was helpful.
 

b4black

before black
Jun 6, 2008
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I'm not familiar with EMS.

You fuel trims will help with knowing the ethanol content. If they were close to zero before, you would expect them to be negative with increasing hydrocarbon content (decreasing ethanol content) of the flex fuel.

Keep in mind fuel trims are adjustments to the baseline calculation. Whether you are +5% or -5%, the engine is still running at stoichiometric. The engine only goes lean or rich once you exceed the maximum (which maybe be +16% or +16% for you car). When the engine is in closed looop and the LTFT are in range, the engine is at stoichiometric, or Lambda =1.

At WOT, open loop, is when you need the wideband to tell you the power enriched AFR.


Just having control of the timing with HPtuners made it worthwhile to me. Make a run - if there was zero knock, I could add a degree or two of timing and make another run. In your case, you could pull back some timing until you get the ethanol and AFR sorta out. Secret to safe tuning is zero knock.
 

v6buicks

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I must be doing something wrong.

Fuel Sample 1 12-19.jpg


Fuel Sample 2 12-19.jpg

I tried it again, because that's not believable.

Fuel Sample 3 12-19.jpg

Then I pretty much got this twice. I know it's a shitty tester, but I don't see an obvious fuel issue here. Of course, my Aeroforce gauge is being a turd now too. For whatever reason it just quit showing Bank 2 KR. When I turn the car on it's blank. When I scroll through all my displays and come back to it I get 0, but it never moves even if Bank 1 is showing almost 4 degrees. If you believe in cars having souls, this car hates being diagnosed. If you try it throws fits like this. :mad:

At this point, I'm wondering if the KR problem (not the gauge problem) has been there all along and I'm just starting to notice it because I've gotten more comfortable with driving the car. After all, I've put more miles on it in the last month or so than I have in my entire ownership. In fact, I feel like it took me until a couple weeks ago to finally learn how to drive stick. :LOL:
 
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v6buicks

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Okay, sorry for being a dingbat. I don't know why I keep thinking that KR 1 and KR 2 are in reference to each knock sensor on the block. That doesn't even make sense since it's in degrees of timing. ?‍♂️ Anyway.... at least that was easy to figure out. I'll delete KR 2 from my options so that I don't try coming back to that. Now I just need to go back to real issue!

Aeroforce capability.PNG
 

v6buicks

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haha The removal job wasn't too bad, but I imagine that reinstallation is going to suck! I have no idea how I'm going to tuck the wire harness back into it's original home, but I'll cross that bridge when it comes. I guess as long as everything works and I don't have any major rattles I'll be a happy guy in the end.

For my next trick, I'll be removing and modifying the HVAC box. I last minute decided that I'm going to complete the deletion of the center vent as well. Mine was already blocked off by my custom gauge pods, but the duct behind it made wiring a huge PITA! Removing the duct should be as easy as sawing it off and riveting/sealing a small square of aluminum in it's place.
 

v6buicks

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I ran into my first roadblocks last night. Keeping the heater functioning in this car is going to be interesting. I kind of just assumed that there was a split in the HVAC unit where it mounts to the firewall and that it could be taken apart in two halves. Its not that simple. I'm going to have to actually cut all that off myself and grind down a flat surface so that I can mount and seal the unit to my block-off plate. This is more work and mess than I originally had pictured, but I don't think it will be a big deal.

HVAC removed.jpg


Another big hurdle that's still looming over my head is the factory hoses running from the engine to the heater core. One problem is the placement of the heater core pipes. They exit the bulkhead exactly where a down pipe will be. I can probably combat this by cutting off the excess and installing 90 degree elbows and I'm not terribly worried about that yet. The bigger issue is the engine side. The fittings stick up toward the hood and then the hoses direct coolant down again which is also majorly in my way of a future exhaust. This is where my plan gets dicey. I might be able weld 90s onto the updated conversion fittings, but I highly doubt that will be enough clearance.

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The heater hoses were something I seriously underestimated. I wanted to try to retain parts of the stock hoses, because the routing along the side of the frame rail is nice, but I might be better off running the 90s from under the alternator and over the valve cover. I think that would suck because I would be draining coolant every time I remove that valve cover and the aesthetics would be awful.

I'm starting to consider just doing away with heat. I could install some seat warmers and be pretty comfortable. I just won't have any form of defrost which could be a problem at any time of year. However, this isn't a daily driver anyway. Has anybody come up with a nice solution for doing this? Most people temporarily bypass heater cores by making a hose loop, but id rather just block the ports off completely if it's not going to hurt anything. Then I wouldn't have to change coolant elbows anymore. (y):unsure:(n) I'm not giving up yet. I think deleting heat will be a regretful decision.
 

Mattstrike

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Yeah, I don't think I mentioned it anywhere in the build thread. I took the motor out right before HRPT, and it was one of the little things I changed because I was worried the heater hose was going to get cut on the straight fitting because how tight the fit was to the silicone coupler on the TB. I might have a picture in my phone still.
 

v6buicks

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I plugged away at this a little more last night. This was a dirty job. I thought this whole thing was plastic but apparently it's mostly fiberglass.

HVAC ready for mods.jpg


HVAC cut 1.jpg


HVAC cut 3.jpg


It's ugly right now, but I'll get the surface a a lot smoother soon. It just needs to be able to sit on the bulkhead plate to which it will get sealed up. I haven't decided if I'm just going to use a ton of silicone or try to make some form of solid gasket. The circled part is another place that I have to cut. As is, the air from the blower motor will dead head against the plate. The cut will result in a hole on the front side of the HVAC which will later need to be fiberglassed or something. Again this shouldn't be a big deal. It doesn't need to be pretty. It just needs to work!
 
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v6buicks

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Are you making an AC Delete box? I pretty much gave up on finding an OEM one for my Astro van back in the day and fabricated my own out of sheet metal. I decided I liked having heat and defrost but could live without the A/C lines.
Yes! I've heard stories of 1LEs having a factory AC delete, but they're very rare if they actually exist. I can't even find a picture of one! I'm sure my future self will be happy that I'm going through with this tricky project. I paid good attention to how often I used heat in my GN this year. It turns out that "fun car season" is a lot longer than I realized. However, I realize why this isn't a common conversion. This is some dirty work that requires a lot of patience and down time.
 

v6buicks

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You are making nice upgrades for me lol jk, good work actually didnt know this was a thing to cut the box and seperate the heat etc but very cool though!
Haha we'll see how much more in love with the car I am once the interior is back in it. It might still go up for sale.

I figured out how to do this from a thread on LS1tech. It's certainly not a common thing. I honestly just wanted the space so that I could run a down pipe and work on the car easier since the AC was never going back in anyway. I figured I would document how I do it in case some body else needs direction down the road. I'm finding some good pertinent information was left out of the LS1tech threads. Shocking :rolleyes:
 

v6buicks

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Today's update should give you a slightly better idea of what I'm doing and why.

The first thing I did today was drill two more holes in the firewall plate. There are two little guiding prongs for installing the HVAC unit. In most cases, you wouldn't want those holes, but I'm keeping my heat! I could have cut the prongs off for a cleaner look, but in this case I put function before form. I hate needing to hold things perfectly in place so that I can get bolts threaded.
HVAC cut 4.jpg


Next, I cut that section out of the blower case that I mentioned in the previous update. This will allow a passage for the air and incorporate the plate into the ducting. This is the hole that I will need to fill with fiberglass or I might just form some super thin aluminum and rivets.
HVAC cut 5.jpg


Here's a view that shows you about how big the passage will be. I wish it was bigger. I might have a pressure difference between the fan and here, but I'm not very worried about it. Heat works fine with low fan speeds anyway. Fixing this would require more work than I'm willing to put into this particular project.
HVAC cut 6.jpg

I mentioned sanding the whole unit down smooth. That's not going to happen because I realized that a stock unit doesn't need to be completely flat either. It just has a very thick foam gasket that compresses when you drive it home with the bolts. I'm going to try to recreate something like that with items from the hardware store. The chances of anybody selling a new gasket is very slim anyway.
HVAC cut 7.jpg


Of course the heater core will need a way for the lines to enter and exit the new unit as well so I marked this hole with a sharpie. To make it look nice I'll probably drill two holes with a hole saw, connect them with a Dremel cut-off wheel, and file it smooth.
HVAC cut 8.jpg


Blend door with heater core in place.
KeWdFRK.mp4


HVAC path.jpg
 
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