🔧 BUILD Quarter Life Crisis. It's a thing. v.GN

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Your highest dreams will not come true overnight, and even if they do your life will never be perfect. It took me way too long to realize that, but this car was the expensive lesson I needed to get me there. Let me explain.

I've been a Buick fanatic nearly my whole life. Being the owner of a show quality intercooled Grand National race car was a life goal of mine. After being fed up with an overly ambitious restoration project that wasn't even Buick bodied nor powered I dropped everything and gave up. The project got parted out, and I started shopping for something better. I couldn't afford a good Buick yet, so I looked for something I could fix up and flip. Meet Nacho!

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I had always had a little thing for El Caminos and I picked this beauty was only $3800. It ran like complete garbage, but it was completely rust-free! I thought that fixing the obvious vacuum leak would make this an easy $5000 car.

I brought it home and immediately removed the carb. Some goof put a spread-bore to square-bore adapter between the stock intake and quadra-jet.

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Score! I didn't want to fall in love with it, so I started taking it to cruise nights with a for sale sign in it. I even tried to road trip it home to Lisle, but I didn't make it far.

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I was about to stop for gas when I noticed white smoke rolling out behind me. I knew I was not going to make it, so I turned around. I knew it was officially game over when I heard a loud pop and saw a big splash hit the windshield. Only I would blow a head gasket and pop the radiator hose on a stock low output 305. :rolleyes: A tow truck got me the rest of the way home.

I wasn't taking a lot of pictures of my work back then, but here's a little taste of my first major start to finish engine repair!

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I had always wondered why the car ran so consistently rough and painfully slow, but I figured that was just the 305 life. As it turned out, this POS had terribly mismatched heads! One side was stock, and the other side had some kind of large chamber 350 head with a 305 gasket. The fact that it ran without blowing the head gasket for as long as it did was a miracle, but I was not happy about blowing the flip.

After scoring some very cheap ebay reman. heads, painting a few parts, and slamming it all together I got serious about selling. Within a couple days, I sold it to a very motivated buyer for $5100. After the purchase, tires, engine repairs, plates, and insurance, I made $200. Those were not the profits I wanted, but a profit nonetheless. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned.

Once again, I was without a project and still without a Buick. Depression resumed. I started my search for the "perfect" 30 year old car. Not wanting another basket case, but also not wanting to get hosed, I turned to the family friend who got me into Buicks in the first place. He helped me find "the one". Here I am in 2016 about to drive a Grand National and call it my own for the first time in my life.

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...Now the real story begins.

sktchy

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Air actuated cylinder for the engine hoist would be sick, idk how many times I've been jerking mine off and thought about how awesome it'd be to just hold the air valve open like a truck jack and be done with it.

That being said I would bet you could probably make parts from a truck jack work with the longer cylinder for the hoist with enough ambition but I don't have the patience to try and fab it up myself.

Blast cabinet looks like it does an awesome job though. Kinda jelly I'd love to have somethin like that to make stuff look nice and even the muscle car shop next door to work just blasts stuff out back in the alley so be damn proud of what you've done there.
 
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v6buicks

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I cleared off a spot on the work bench to get some real work done.
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I'm not worried about the valve cover gasket surface since it's a non machined cork seal anyway.
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Then I discovered some goofy shit while installing valve springs and stem seals. I thought I lost the first seal, and I couldn't get a new one installed.
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When I continued on, I noticed that the other two exhaust valves didn't have seals! I still couldn't believe it. Then I noticed that the exhaust stems have this extra step which would never allow for a seal to work anyway.

but I still couldn't believe it. After asking a buddy about it, apparently it's a thing to machine the guides and fit normal exhaust valves that will work with a seal, but none had any from the factory. WTF. No wonder these cars have an oil burning reputation!
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Goofy old springs on the left and new dual Comps on the right. I'm probably going to pull what I've done apart though. I feel like a chump for not cleaning these dirty valves.
 

sktchy

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Hear me out, rubber hose, hose clamped to the valve, and hose clamped to the screwdriver bit of your choice in a drill. Spin them lil bastids in there up against the seat until you can pour water in the port and it holds without leaking and done deal.

I may or may not have done this a few times.
 
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v6buicks

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Hear me out, rubber hose, hose clamped to the valve, and hose clamped to the screwdriver bit of your choice in a drill. Spin them lil bastids in there up against the seat until you can pour water in the port and it holds without leaking and done deal.

I may or may not have done this a few times.
At least put some toothpaste on there as a lapping compound! I'll do something like that, but the seat is only part of the problem here. This thing has a lot of nasty carbon deposits for a car that's had the breather tube removed and alky injection for the last 12 years. Part of me says that E85 will clean them up, but I'm also right here.
 
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Mr_Roboto

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I cleared off a spot on the work bench to get some real work done.
View attachment 145514
I'm not worried about the valve cover gasket surface since it's a non machined cork seal anyway.
View attachment 145515
View attachment 145516
View attachment 145517
Then I discovered some goofy shit while installing valve springs and stem seals. I thought I lost the first seal, and I couldn't get a new one installed.
View attachment 145518
View attachment 145519
When I continued on, I noticed that the other two exhaust valves didn't have seals! I still couldn't believe it. Then I noticed that the exhaust stems have this extra step which would never allow for a seal to work anyway.

but I still couldn't believe it. After asking a buddy about it, apparently it's a thing to machine the guides and fit normal exhaust valves that will work with a seal, but none had any from the factory. WTF. No wonder these cars have an oil burning reputation!
View attachment 145520
Goofy old springs on the left and new dual Comps on the right. I'm probably going to pull what I've done apart though. I feel like a chump for not cleaning these dirty valves.

Back in the day these would have had "umbrella" seals on the exhaust probably then a "positive" style seal like the one you have on the intakes. Comp makes a cutter tool you stick in a drill to go to smaller positive style seals. Probably about $100, you can also cut the height down if you want to go to more lift and you'd have keeper/retainer to seal clearance issues.

If you're going this far you may as well get a 204/214 to shove in there you're 99% the way there.
 
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v6buicks

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If you're going this far you may as well get a 204/214 to shove in there you're 99% the way there.
I thought about that, but it's a can of worms that I'm not sure I want to open. Everyone seems to like the roller cams and I don't blame them. $1400 for a kit isn't chump change given the amount it will gain me though. Even if I decided to keep it simple with a flat tappet cam, I don't know how much cam and spring my cloyes timing set, stock retainers, or stock pushrods could handle. I would probably have to measure for new pushrods too which is not something I'm super comfortable with. I was hoping to try that out on the Camaro. lol You think it's worth bothering with a flat tappet?
 
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Jon01

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Leave the stock valvetrain alone. If it works don't screw with it unless your willing to go through the full hassle. Somethin I've learned from my camaro.
I will play devil's advocate here and say at least pull the #3 exh lifter and inspect the lobe and lifter.
These guys ^^ listen to them.
My GN chewed up a 224/224 with about 3,000 miles on the motor. Flatted #3 exhaust lobe. I attributed it to questionable break-in but in hindsight I wonder if the machine shop didn't put in too stiff a spring.
Regardless, for what you're doing, keep the valve train stock and unfucked with unless you're gonna do a roller conversion.
 
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sktchy

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I'm all for checking things out but put it back together the way it was unless you wanna fight the problems out. Hell I've got a box full of rockers, cam and ls7 lifters for a series 2 I really don't know if I wanna deal with sticking back in myself.

Feed it more boost and keep the fuel fat and the timing low and it'll move anyway.
 

v6buicks

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Dirty intake
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Clean exhaust
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I chucked them all up in a drill, wiped the oil off, and spun them on a scotch brite pad. I'm an idiot for not taking any other pictures, but the valves don't look much different due to discoloration. They just feel a lot smoother. All valves seal nicely.
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I did some touch-ups on the paint which I'm waiting to dry. Otherwise, this head is done!
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With that big checkmark, the only logical thing to do next is pull this engine. I first got the starter out of the way and FFS! I knew these things were big, but it's hard to perceive it until it's out.
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It's all clean and ready for paint, but I'm reconsidering an upgrade now. This thing is heavy AF, and I think it's the LT1 starter that's aluminum, much more compact, and basically a bolt in replacement. We'll see.

Then I removed the torque converter shield to expose a massive blue balloon. I think that's going to need replacement just as I intended. I initially didn't want to spend the money, but a little research is showing that it will probably be the best upgrade I do.

Then I undid all the shit on the back of the block and heads including the top most bellhousing bolts.
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Then I figured out how to get the hood out of my way.
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...and called it quits. It's a glorious day for January and the Christmas lights needed to come down. Now it's beer and new year celebration time. I'll try to get this thing on the engine stand in the next couple days.
 

v6buicks

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This was sketchy, but after figuring out how to rebleed my brand new and unserviceable hydraulic cylinder, and keep the crane from rolling into the fender I was in the clear. Nothing was harmed in the process, but there's no way this thing is going back in without a second set of hands.
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This transmission was rebuilt more recently than I expected. The torque converter date is only about a year prior to my ownership.
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I feel so relieved. I have to go back to my real job tomorrow. ? Hopefully I can maintain progress during the week!
 
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v6buicks

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Interesting on the trans, saw the blue was asking questions right away. Curious what was done to it, but that's a meh just leave it thing too really unless you're gonna throw a grand into a converter.
Idk man. If it's a 2200 stall like the last owner said it was then it's already not what I should have. A nice 2600-2800 stall 10" converter seems to be the way for stock to mild turbo Regals. I'm willing to spend a bit for that because my stock turbo was shockingly laggy and that shouldn't have been the case.

Idk who rebuilt this, and idk if I want to. However, it shifts pretty dang hard and feels strong for now.
 

v6buicks

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Looking up the part # that seems to be a 1800-2K converter (rated) although it may go higher in boost. I'd send it out for a restall probably and if possible get the fins furnace brazed. I had Carl do a restall for me and it was honestly not a ton of bank.
Interesting. I may want to ask him about that. Full Throttle is selling lock up 2800 stall PTC converters for $800, but that is a lot of dough you never know if they have anything in stock. I usually have to wait a while for stuff.
 

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