Monday, December 22, 2008

Desert Valley Auto Parts

I'd love to visit this place some day! Looking through their cars for sale, reminds me that some day I'd love to restore a car that has been wrote off as dead, left and abandoned in a salvage yard. Check out their site, as they have lots to offer for auto restorationists.

Desert Valley Auto Parts

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ignition Troubleshooting: Part II

My car is back on the road, running fine, and most importantly, no longer stalling out at freeway speeds. The problem? Ended up being the MSD ignition coil. I had the ignition control module checked at Autozone, it passed 10 consecutive tests, though I was still skeptical. Fortunately, the problem was frequent enough that I could begin to troubleshoot while the problem was occuring. I hooked up my fuel pressure gauge and the pressure never dropped below the 45-50 psi range, so I knew it wasn't a fuel problem. I swapped out the ignition module with the factory one I had lying around, that I had replaced at some point. Engine wouldn't even fire, so that told me at least at some point when I replaced the module, it was the problem then...though didn't fully answer whether or not the replacement module was having intermittant problems.

I removed the coil wire from the coil and grounded it out on the intake, and my early presumption was correct, I wasn't getting spark when the problem showed it's ugly head. I proceeded ahead and replaced the MSD coil with the stock one, which I also had lying around in a cabinet. As you can see, holding on to those stock components proves beneficial! Low and behold, it was the problem. With the stock coil in place, everything is back to normal and running fine. When I find some time, I plan on shipping the coil out to MSD. Who knows, maybe I'll get a free coil out of the deal, but what I really would like to know is why the coil failed in the first place. MSD components are made in the USA. I've ran them on my Camaro for years and never had a problem. I prefer to buy American products whenever possible, and will continue to do so. When a problem like this accurs with a product, I don't wish to write it off as junk, but instead contact the maker and perhaps help them find out why it failed, and correct the problem. Below are some pictures of the repair process.

Cage fighters. LOL Little one holds her own and stands her ground. For anybody wondering where the term Bitch - female dog came from, well, here is your answer.

The ignition module from the distributor.

Where the module resides.

Stock parts...worth holding onto!

The threads on one of the attaching bolts to the battery were also in poor shape. I thought that perhaps that was the root of the problem, as most ignition systems need a constant 12 volts to operate, though it wasn't the source of my headaches.

Stripped bolt on the positive side.

Replacement bolt.

Plug wires all back in place. 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2, how could any gearhead not know?

Fuel nipple on the fuel rail to attach a pressure tester to. One of these days I'm going to install a fixed gauge, so it'll take the guess work out.

Fuel pressure gauge.

Back together and running.

My new gauge lens also came, so I installed that as well.

Pre-lens install.

Lens and surrounding cluster back in place.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ignition Troubleshooting

Once again, my ride is giving me headaches. This time, it appears to be an ignition problem, as the engine has cut out at speed on the freeway a few times over the past few weeks. The cut out has been perhaps a 1/2 second, almost unnoticable, then the engine performs as normal. Today however, it cut out twice, and both times it looked like I was gonna be stranded. Thankfully, it was less than a mile from home both times, so all I would have needed to do was find a way to get pulled home. As luck would have it, it did start, and I was able to get the car back to my garage.

Having replaced the fuel pump twice over the last few years, the last time being with genuine GM parts after the crap from Murray's the first time around failed me about a year/10,000 miles later. Sure, it had a lifetime warranty, but damned if I'm gonna drop the rear end outta my car every 10,000 miles to swap it out. I highly doubt that the fuel supply is the problem, though will likely check the pressure just the same. Plus, while turning the engine over, it seemed as though I wasn't getting spark, so begins the adventure.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jay Leno's Garage

You could spend hours, or even days on this site. Jay Leno has one of the best automotive collections in the world! I added a link on the side bar as well.

Jay Leno's Garage

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pop-ups are back!

Finally! My pop-up headlights are back in working order, though not without creating more work. I received another headlight control module a few days ago, as well as a used headlight switch (as new switches are no longer made). I installed the module, tried the lights, and both popped up! I still had issues with the switch however, as you still had to push it to the side in order for it to function properly. I suspect that whatever malfunction was happening inside the switch is what probably led to the short in my headlight control module.

Next, I began removing the trim around the gauge cluster to replace the switch. While doing so, I heard a "CRACK!" as I was removing the trim. Just my luck, the plastic lens covering the gauges cracked. I gave Hawk's another call and $40 later I had one of the way.

I can't say enough about Hawk's Third Gen Parts! Not only were they extremely helpful, but they also always have the part I'm looking for. In addition to stocking 3rd gen Firebird/Camaro new parts, they have a salvage yard full of these F-bodies in which they can pull parts no longer available. I guess I am still somewhat shocked when I call the dealership and learn that a part is no longer in stock, yet when I stop and think about it, I can understand why. My Formula was built in 1989, 20 years after my 1969 Camaro. Here we are nearly 20 years later from the date my Formula was built, so understandably some things aren't available. Perhaps what surprised me most was when I inquired with the dealership "So, what do you guys do with the parts you no longer stock? Do you sell them to another company?" He informed me that while some get bought my outside suppliers, most are simply tossed out! Damn, all those thousands upon thousands of parts simply tossed in the trash! You'd think restoration companies for popular cars such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Mustang would buy up any and all parts available in order to keep a healthy stock for the future. Though maybe that would make auto restoration too easy, and lack the hunt that perhaps some enthusiasts desire.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trouble Lights

As previously stated, I tackled my headlight issues last week, though the problem is far from fixed. In the end, I have two headlights that now I can at least put up and down manually, something I couldn't do before as the gear mesh wasn't tight enough. One new/used headlight motor, two motor rebuild kits, and a new/used headlight control module and the problem still exists. Next step is to return the control module, as it seems there may have been a mid-year change, as the sticker on the new module was blue, instead of white like the module my car came equipped with. Also, I'm having them send me a new headlight switch, as I believe it too is part of the problem, as it has "acted up" ever since I've owned the car. I fuckin' hate electrical nightmares, and I'm beginning to severely dislike pop-up headlights!

I also replaced my battery a few weeks ago. Can't believe I stretched this one out as long as I did, as it seemed on it's last leg about two winters ago. This year, I wasn't gonna press my luck. I went with a Sears Diehard with around 720 CCA. I've always had great luck with Diehards.

The handicapped lights.

While the instructions stated to removing the headlight housing, I concluded that removing the hoodlatch tray made the process much easier.

Headlight motor.

Guts of the motor.

The motors not having fixed the problem, I moved on to the headlight control module located on the firewall between the brake booster and wiper motor.

Along with the part number, the sticker label also read "REPLACE, DO NOT REPAIR," yeah, for $282 for a new one I think I'll take my chances on attempting to repair it.
I can't help but wonder why GM went from what was previously a system controlled by three simple relays to a circuit board control module. Even then, my module was apparently only used from 1987-1989, when upon they switched to what must have been an updated module from 1990-1992.

Close inspection showed obvious signs of problems. The relay in the center seems to have tried to cook itself at some point. You can see by the smoked plastic cover, problem lie beneath. I popped the cover and discovered a burned wire and a few melted solder points. While the module may not be all of my problems, it was certainly part of the problem.

Current and new/used module, though the problem still isn't solved.

Back together, with two manually "functioning" headlights.

I have always like the 1969 Camaro RS with it's hideaway headlights. Yet after the problems I've had, I'm not so anxious to fit my 69 Camaro with them. In fact, along the way I've even pondered seeing what my options are as far as a fixed headlight system on my 89 Formula. I've heard some have used both BMW and new Corvette lights and adapted them to 3rd gens. It may be something I pursue later on down the road. Would definately give the car a more updated look, if not just functioning headlights! For the time being, I can at least manually raise the lights. I called Hawk's today, told them the issue, and they have said they'll ship me another module upon the return of this one, eat the cost of shipping, and toss in a light switch for $35. They've gone above and beyond to help me out, and I've told them I appreciate their help and in now way blame them for a faulty part that may not even be the only issue at hand. When using used parts, there is obviously always the chance the part won't work. But it's a chance I'll often take when the alternatives are a $240 headlight motor and $282 headlight control module. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Headlight Nightmare!

Today I ventured out to the garge to fix my long standing headlight problem on my car. I've always like the clean look of a flip-up headlight car...when the lights are done. Yet when the functionality of the lights heads south, they are a real eye sore. I had one lamp quit on me a few year ago, and since then I've manually put the lamp up and down. Sometimes, more frequent recently, I'd just leave the damn thing up so I wouldn't have to get out, pop the hood, and manually put the thing up as it got dark. Working afternoons, it was a royal pain in my ass. A few months ago, the lone functioning headlight began acting up. This one however didn't appear to be the motor that went out, as this would acted like the gears were going bad, as it would try to go up, then casually fall back into place.

Anticipating my current vacation, I ordered up a used headlight motor (a new one would have set me back $240!), a rebuild kit for the other lamp, and was ready to tackle the project today. After figuring out I needed to remove the front nose tray, for lack of a better term, the project seemed pretty straight forward. With the new motor in place, I hit the light switch. Still nothing...what the fuck? Now it was time to track down this headlight control module I had heard about. Locating in on the firewall, I pulled it off, took it apart, and found at some point along the way it partially cooked itself! A toasted wire, darkened relay cover, and melted solder pointed to new found issues.

I contacted a local dealer, and was told the new controller was still available, for a hefty price of $282! Hell naw, I called my boy down at Hawk's and he asked I send him pictures and info on my car, he headed out to their F-body salvage yard and picked one off an exact year car. For $75, and an additional $20 for 2nd day air, my new controller was on it's way. In the mean time, I figured I'd install the rebuild kit for both motors, as it essentially tightens up the gear mesh. Seemed easy enough, until I saw that the instructions noted that it is not unusual for the bolt heads to snap off during disassembly. Sure as shit, I think I snapped the heads off 5 outta the 10 bolts between the two.

I made my trip to Sears, to purchase more extractor tools. I know I had previously purchased such tools, but also recall breaking a few, misplacing a few, and not being able to find them last time I tried to hunt them down. So I now have all the tools I need (except maybe a tap/die set, couldn't bring myself to fork out the money), and will try and finish the rebuild tomorrow. With the controller on the way, I will try and finish it up in a few days. With a lot of luck, I'll have two functional flip up headlights. I was hoping to Por-15 the underbody while on vacation as well, but I'm not seeing myself having the time. Some how, I gotta get it done before winter, as the salt will eat it alive if it isn't protected.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Big 3 on life support

Until recently, the condition of the Big 3 really hadn't caught my eye. Ever since graduating college and starting a career as an automotive designer the news had been the same. Once a year or so, one of the Big 3 would announce some doomsday forecast, have a wave of layoffs, and then claim everything was better and they would return to making money in the next year or two. This game of musical chairs had Ford, GM, and Chrysler all as participants. As I worked in the industry, I saw how low moral was, how one never knew if they'd be taken out in the next round of cost cutting to please stock investors. In recent years, all but a handful of contract employees were cut, and now the sweeps have headed for the direct employees, and layoffs have occurred by the thousands in terms of the white collar workforce. It hit me in the fall of 2006, and it was perhaps the best thing to happen to me in my life. 6 1/2 years in the industry, I had learned it wasn't for me, I no longer had a passion for the job, perhaps I never did. So here I am with over a year working in law enforcement, feeling like I've got more stability now than ever. Now back to the Big 3...

The Chrysler/Daimler merger came as a shock to me, though at the time, no one really realized that this merger was actually a takeover. In my opinion, Daimler truly was a savior for Chrysler in terms of styling and design. During the Daimler years Chrysler brought some of the best looking products to market in decades. The sign of concern that told me that things were truly getting bad was when the talks of Ford merging with Nissan/Renault started sounding pretty serious. Though that merger never happened, it wasn't long that Chrysler was on the trading block again, and sold to a private investment company. Initially, this sounded promising, as Chrysler was once again American owned, and free from stock holder concerns. The marriage seems to be short lived, as once again Chrysler seems headed elsewhere.

Into the mix this round is GM, the company that seems to be struggling on life support more than the other two, for this round. Talks of GM buying out/merging with Chrysler seem to have died down the past couple weeks, though government aid seems necessary to keep GM, as well as Ford and Chrysler, afloat. I guess I ask "why not?" If the government is going to bail out the financial industry/banks/mortgage companies for their unquestionable stupidity by offering unrealistic loans to people, then why not toss the manufacturing industry a life line?

Undoubtedly, things need to change. Not just for the auto industry, but manufacturing in this country. Consumers need to step up to the plate as well. The number of "Buy American" people in this country has shrunk with each coming decade. Demand for cheaper product by the buying public is partially responsible for our country's current situation. Though corporate greed plays it's part as well.

A federal loan needs to have stipulations, perhaps one being that a GM/Chrysler merger not happen. GM would salvation few things from Chrysler, likely portions of the Jeep brand, the minivan, and maybe even the Challenger for a short time, as it would offer an option to the upcoming Camaro, much like the Firebird did for many decades. After that though, all you have is several tens of thousands of white collar/blue collar workers getting laid off. In my eyes, such a move by GM only buys them time, and in my opinion, not enough time to warrant costing all those people their jobs. It's time the government steps in, offers their help, though takes steps to secure future manufacturing in this country. Too many jobs have been outsourced to other countries in the auto industry, somebody needs to take charge and rein these jobs back in for Americans.

The outlook looks dismal, and though I haven't made much mention, Ford seems headed down the same road these days. While future product from all 3 companies look promising, it's coming down the pipeline about 5 years too late. They needed their future products to fall back on today and it's another example of poor timing and our big 3's inability to see the writing on the wall like their foreign competition did.

While the future looks uncertain, the Camaro is still on track to make it's 2009 debut, thus completing the trifecta of horsepower...consisting of Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro. Whatever happens after that, at least one can say that the Big 3 when out with a bang.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back on my feet again

Kinda funny that this title popped in my head, while my friend Wes is layed up off his feet again. Any way, my new career is finally leading to brighter days, and with over time, I'm making more money than I ever was in the auto industry. With that extra cash will it will allow me to slowly but surely begin purchasing parts in order to get my Camaro back on the road. That being said, money will also have to be set aside for my wedding in 2009 (at a date yet to be determined), as well as to support my fiancee while she student teaches in the fall, and won't be able to hold a job during those months that actually pays. So while I wouldn't say I'll be stock piling parts in great quantities, I do hope to get some of the most needed parts in the very near future. Perhaps over this upcoming winter I will purchase the pistons for my 454, get all the machine work done, and have it ready for assebly. Or maybe even get the short block assembled this winter, as there really aren't many parts I need in order to do so. I'll have to see how things work out this year.

As for my 89 Formula, my recent valve seal job has proven sucessful. Well over 1,000 miles later and still the oil level hasn't dropped a bit. With an upcoming vacation in a few weeks, I have some further maintenance planned for the car. I just ordered up a used headlamp motor assembly for the passenger side, a rebuild kit for the driver side, a used headlamp switch, and sunvisor sleeves. I also plan on getting a can of Por-15 and tackle the underside before the rust gets the better of it. Nothing too exciting I know, but stuff that needs to be done in order to assure a 20 year old car can keep on running for many more decades.

I'm a bit pressed for time today, so I won't even touch on the happenings throughout the auto industry. God only knows what the next year will entail, and whether or not all 3 of the Big 3 will survive. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to hear news of any one of them going under. I only hope that the new Camaro makes it to production, and I get a chance to either buy one, or pick up a used one in a few years. This could be the last years for the pony cars, so enjoy the days while we still have a Mustang, Challenger, and hopefully Camaro doing battle.

Friday, October 10, 2008


As I have mentioned before I was involved in a pretty nasty motorcycle accident in April 2007 which resulted in a broken ankle and a busted up shoulder. After multiple surgeries and countless physical therapy sessions I found myself in pretty good shape.

Or so I thought.

Over the course of the summer I irritated that ankle numerous times by doing normal everyday activities, like just standing up from the ground or and walking down stairs, and that was starting to concern me. Then about three weeks ago I was just casually walking around the church in between services and my ankle started hurting something fierce, which left me almost unable to walk. This inability to walk persisted for a couple of days which warranted a trip to the doctors’ office. A MRI reveled that something appeared to be going on in there, so surgery #4 was scheduled.

So I had that surgery this morning and am sitting at my parents house recovering. Ahh, I love my moms home cooked meals.

At this time you might be asking yourself, “Why is he telling me kind of stuff on a muscle car blog – GET BACK TO THE FAIRMONT RADIO DELETE PLATE DISCUSSION ALREADY!!!”

Hold on one second and I'll tell you why I’m talking about it. My doctor is not an automotive mechanic (he probably has no idea where to find the oil filter on his 12 cylinder BMW), but he is a mechanic in every sense of the word. This guy is absolutely amazing when it comes to his knowledge of the mechanics of the human body. If you think about it his job is to diagnose a problem and find a solution to fix it. Sounds a lot like what I do when working on a car.

Now while I am worried about main bearing clearances, he is worried about ankle joint clearances. And although blowing up an engine is not cool, blowing up an ankle is WAY not cool. The biggest difference is he gets paid the big bucks to fix people, and people pay big bucks to blow up their engines. HAHA – Supersport knows what I’m talking about!!

This also demonstrates how roadblocks sometimes pop up in life which put our car projects on hold. I was making such great progress on my car (and ankle) and now it looks like I won’t be working on it (or working out the ankle) for the next couple of months. But that’s no big deal. I don’t have a set goal as to when I want to have the car finished by (although this decade would be nice). I would like to fire the engine up next year, but I won’t take any shortcuts to get there.
But summer 2008 will still go down as the year I got the most work done on my car. I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel (although I’m looking thru a high powered 13” Newtonian telescope).

Psalms 119:50

You don't want to strip out one of these fasteners.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bling Bling (Yo)

Bling - Gaudy over the top hideous and wholly unnecessary

I’m starting my new exclusive mini-series named “Bling”. I’m going to show some of the little unnecessary features that I’m adding to my car just because I want to. None of these items are “necessary” except to make my car stick out from others (as if a blown big block Fairmont Futura isn’t unique enough).

But as I started thinking about it I realized that hot rodding is really all about the “Bling”. It’s doing something different because you want to. It’s what makes building a car fun. It makes all those endless hours searching ebay for that perfect part (in my case the extremely rare factory radio delete plate) all worth it.

1 Peter 3:14

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quote of the day.

Ran across this in the latest issue of Car Craft, made me laugh.

"Since we are finished with the screamin' 302 that will prove unreliable yet
entertaining between the fenders of some Ford, we've decided to play with a real
engine. By that, we mean a Ford Racing Boss 302 with forged internals and
a roller cam so we can spin it to 8,000 without showering the dyno room with
blue confetti. Watch for our testing Car Craft-style."

No more adding a quart.

Well, I've got about 500 miles on my car since all the recent maintenance. To my surprise, it appears that the valve seals I replaced have did away with the engine's 1 quart per 1,000 mile thirst. 500 miles, and it doesn't appear that the oil level has dropped at all. Deep down, I figured the seals wouldn't have helped a bit, but convinced myself to give it a shot. The blue smoke out the exhaust seemed to be getting quite bad whenever I'd jump on the throttle, and was quite sure it was due to cylinder wear and a need for a rebuild. Now I seem good to go and likely to hit the desired 200,000 mark before a rebuild/replacement of the engine.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bling - Gear Drive

I have to admit that every time I thumb through the latest edition of the Summit catalog I usually flip right past the page that has timing chain sets, gear drives and belt drives. I think that most people are like me in that regard too. Slap a timing chain set on the thing and be done with it.

Well at a swap meet a few years back I found a brand new Pete Jackson “noisy” gear drive for $90. Now I knew that a good billet timing chain set cost about that much so I decided to pick it up.

I first learned about timing gears when a buddy of mine who used to run one on the street referred to is as the “Poor mans supercharger.” The “noisy” gear drives make a distinctive whine that you either love or hate.

Personally I love the sound of whining gears. My 1997 Honda VFR750 had a V4 engine in it that had 2 gear driven camshafts. Man, I loved the sound of that thing running! It was very distinctive, but not in an annoying way.

People will debate all day long which is better, the gear drive, belt drive or timing chain.

Those against the gear drive claim that a gear drive transfers harmonics to the crankshaft which can lead to problems. Pete Jackson told me that if those harmonics can damage the crankshaft, then he doesn’t want to run that crankshaft in his engine anyway. He was basically saying it’s really a non-issue. Some also say that the floating dog-bone style gear drive idler gears can “load” up the system under acceleration causing the idler setup to be forced in one direction while the other gear is forced tighter between the crankshaft and camshaft. The resultant of these forces is that it eats up a few extra HP. I actually believe this theory now, but I didn’t when I first heard it.

Others just say they are annoying.

Those for gear drives talk about the accuracy that gear drives offer. Those people usually love the sound of them. (Me).

That leads me bring up the Milodon Fixed Idler setup. This setup has a fixed idler which does not move so therefore does not have to deal with the same forces that the floated idler design has to. Problem is that it costs almost $400 and when faced with other needed items in the trusty Summit catalog most people skip right on past that page.

Belt drives are the cats meow in terms timing accuracy, and the ability to do quick cam swaps or adjustments. Problem is a good belt drive setup will set you back upwards of $900. Not to mention that they not the most streetable things out there. The idea of an exposed spinning timing belt at the front on engine right where all the pebbles and rocks are flying up gives me shivers thinking about. One racer referred to his belt drive as a vacuum cleaner on the front of his engine! HAHA.

I’d like point out that I think that a timing chain is perfectably acceptable for 99% of all performance applications. The only time a gear drive is really needed is when a fuel, oil, or water pump is being driven off the camshaft and there is a lot of force being transmitted.

So when I ran across a used Milidon fixed idler setup a year ago for $200 I couldn’t pass it up.

Here is a video that I found on Youtube of a Charger with the same type setup I’m going to run.

Just imagine what the sound of that gear drive PLUS the blower whine is going to sound like!! It will be sweet music to my ears. I did tell y’all I’m going radio delete right???

1 John 4:10

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Progress (personally, spiritually and mechanically)

I need to apologize for my lack of Fairmont updates. I’ve actually been working SO much on the car that I’ve had little time to write about it. Well I find myself in Metro Airport getting ready for a much needed vacation to Florida and one of my goals is to write a few blog entries about my car. Wow, I just found out I got upgraded to first class on the flight home. Sounds like the start of a great vacation!

I started my Fairmont project shortly after I got my first “real” job out of college. I started my current job in 2001 and the search for a replacement Fairmont quickly began. It took about a year to find but I finally located a prime 1978 Fairmont Futura in Florida for $1150. I then had the car shipped up to Michigan for $500 and that’s when the real fun began.

In 1994 I was given a 1978 Fairmont with a 302/5 speed drivetrain as a high school graduation present. I LOVED that car. It was the first real project “musclecar” that I ever had. But being that I was in college and commuting to Oakland University it was hard to afford the sub-20 mpg at $1.09 premium (!!!). So I sold the car off (and replaced it with a 1989 Ford Festiva!) and vowed that after I graduated I would build a bigger and badder version of that car.

So between 2001-2003 I pretty much just tore the car apart and started collecting parts. I pulled the engine and trans, stripped out the interior and yanked the front and rear suspension. The car has been on jackstands ever since.

In 2005 I had a run in with a friend who was trying to drink and drive and that whole situation caused me to re-evaluate my life and the direction it was headed. The result of that was I started going to church (again), began mentoring high school students, became a discussion leader in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), and quit drinking and smoking.

Which brings me to now. I have figured out why I’ve made so much progress this summer. In 2007 I had a huge motorcycle accident and I spent most of that year recovering and didn’t make much progress on the car. But 2008 has been different. Instead of nursing massive hangovers on Saturday and Sunday I now wake up and am ready to attack the car! This year I’ve made more progress on the car than all the other years combined. I’ve finished the mini-tub job, installed the mock up drivetrain, welded in the motor mounts, finished and welded in the roll cage, installed the fully adjustable coil-over rear suspension, ran a full 3.5 inch mandrel bent exhaust over the axle, and am almost complete with the front suspension. I’m actually starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Progress is a good thing. Like it’s been said – Today's progress was yesterday's plan.

Matthew 18:2-4

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lean and mean

I recently took the opportunity of having a little extra time while on furlough to do a bit of maintenance to my Formula. I had a pretty hefty list of things to do, which ended up taking longer than the 1 full day I had planned. In the end, I managed to get all plans completed though. I was due for an oil change, so I killed two birds with one stone.

The mods and maintenance I did included: Installation of a throttle body air foil, removal of the stock air box, installation of an open element K&N cone filter, new valve seals/umbrellas, removal of the A.I.R. pump, removal of the remaining A.I.R. pump plumbing, new/rerouted serpentine belt, plugs, MSD cap and rotor, and I plugged off the two plumbing inlets in the cats from the A.I.R. pump removal. Here are some pictures from my few days of work.

Here I have the valve covers removed. The heater control valve ended up with a nipple busted off, apparently from too much flexing it around. The vacuum line leading to it, plastic, also cracked and needed repairing before I was done. 20 years is about the limit for most plastics/rubber it appears.

The driver side, with valve cover removed.

I found a receipt for a new cap and rotor from about 2 years ago, so I wasn't planning on replacing it just yet. A last minute decision to buy a new one while at Murray's proved to be a wise choice. Some how, some way, the inside button for the coil while had broke off, and sat wedged/burned into the rotor when I found it. I'm sort of surprised the car didn't run more rough because of it.

New cap/rotor installed. I also gave my previously installed MSD coil a quick clean up.

New throttle body air foil installed.

Here is where the stock air box, or perhaps I should say cylinder, was located. A rather ugly tray which I will likely remove at some point, a means to lighten the car. Every bit helps, right?

Here is the stock air box. The only opening you see faced right into the back of the radiator support. I can't imagine air flow was all that great. While still not a cold air setup, I'm sure my new installation is getting more air to the engine.

I cleaned up/reused the stock plumbing. Here you can see the K&N in place.

Next I got started on the valve seals, and removed all the rocker arms. Couldn't help but think how nice it would have been to have a set of 1.6 ratio roller rockers to install.

The roller rockers, in order of disassembly.

Here is the hose you need to install in the spark plug port. Without it, your valves will drop into the cylinder once the springs are removed. Not shown, I also picked up a valve spring compressor from Sears for about $15. I already had a flexible magnet, which is a must when it comes time to remove the valve locks.
Though still a little rusted on the exhaust side, the stock valve covers cleaned up well.

The stock o-ring seals/umbrellas were either in very bad shape, or worse, non-existent! In my opinion, both were a very poor design by GM. Neither seal seems to withstand the heat/conditions, and both become brittle and destroyed after a short time.

I've always had great luck with anything by Fel-pro, and these seals look much better than stock. The o-rings however, I don't expect them to hold up any better. I did valve seals on my first Firebird twice during it's 60,000 mile life span. Both times the o-rings were cooked/destroyed from becoming brittle. Ideally, one should have the heads removed and machined for teflon locks, and simply leave the o-ring seals off.

Took me a bit to figure out how to actually remove the A.I.R. pump, as it initially seemed integrated into the MONSTER accessory bracket. I eventually realized there were a couple of large torix bolts hidden behind the pulley. Once removed, I could access them, though I lacked a torix bit large enough. After a run to Sears, I was able to remove them both without trouble. I did used a longass torque wrench so I had plenty of leverage. Last thing I wanted to do was strip the heads, which torix bolts are notorious for...another horrible invention in my opinion.

Once the pulley was removed you could see the pump.

With the pump removed, a big void remains...but a big void weighs less than a bulky emissions pump and plumbing! I figure I lost about 10-15 lbs off the front of the car.

The pump, probably weighing a good 10 lbs in itself.

After some valve lash adjustments with the engine running, the only way I've found to accurately adjust hydraulic lifters, everything was lookin' good and running smooth. 136,600 miles and going strong!