Thursday, June 26, 2008
1985-1991 Corvette & 1985-1992 Camaro/Firebird TPI Intake Manifold
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Scott Kalitta's fatal crash:
Kalitta succumbs to injuries suffered in qualifying accident
Mount Clemens native, auto racing driver killed in crash at 300 mph
NHRA statement of the death of Scott Kalitta
For those wondering what exactly the A.I.R. Pump is, it is an Air Injection Reactor that pumps air into your exhaust manifolds and to your catalytic convertor to help combust unburned fuel when it reaches the cats. It is essentially part of your emissions package, though I've read more than a few examples of inidividuals passing state emissions testing (not required in Michigan) without the A.I.R. Pump system in place. Me, I'm more concerned about the ease of being able to maintain my vehicle. Plus, since my car is nearly 20 years old now, quickly closing in on antique status, which would disqualify it from having to pass emissions testing even if it were in place. I'll recycle a little more plastic products to make up for it. haha
First, I removed the cover on the black distribution block located on the passenger side and unplugged the two connectors. I then unbolted the block from the A.I.R. pump itself and removed that portion of the system. The A.I.R. Pump itself will remain for the time being, as will the fittings that run down to the cats, both will probably be removed the next time I change the oil and have the car up in the air.
At first look, I only noticed 3 fittings per side, which I found to be odd considering it is an 8 cylinder engine. It wasn't until I freed up the other 6 and began to remove the driver side plumbing that I realized the final two rear fittings are actually on top of the exhaust manifold, as opposed to the side like the rest. I had been down this road before, with my first 89 Firebird I had back in the early 90's. I'd changed plugs and valve seals a few times and quickly grew tired of working around the whole A.I.R. Pump system. Not knowing how the car would function without it, I simply made the decision to remove it and deal with the consequences. Back then, the removal was...well...less professional I guess you could say. :) I simply pushed, pulled, pried, and cut the system out, then allowing me to use sockets to remove the fittings as opposed to wrenches that were rounding them out on first attempt.
This time, I was a little more conscious about saving everything I remove from the car. Not that it'll ever be reinstalled for as long as I own the car (I don't plan on ever selling it), but ya never know when the 100 point restoration guru out there will be in need of such a system 25+ years from now, and that's when I'll part ways with it, not for any large profit, but just to help out the car hobbyist that does things a little differently than I. So after fighting with the top fitting of the passenger side for the better part of an hour, I finally broke it loose. I know damn well I bought a set of crow feet for use with a socket wrench, though I looked everywhere and simply couldn't find them, a sure tell sign that it's time to reorganize my tools.
During removal, I'd occasionally fire up the engine, "just to see what happens." With the rubber hose connecting the two sides removed I was able to determine that the valve that was part of the fittings on each side was a one-way valve. Made since, as allowing exhaust gasses to backfeed would defeat the purpose of the system. I fired the engine one more time, once the fittings were removed, and got the expected result. Exhaust gasses shot out the exposed holes in the manifold exhibiting a blue flame, popping and crackling as well. For whatever reason, I was somewhat entertained by the little spectacle, though one time was enough, no sense in cooking whatever was a bit too close when I removed the passenger side system
After both sides were removed I headed up to a Nut & Bolt shop that was walking distance. It was one of them old school places that have been there 75 years or so and would likely have everything in stock. After coming up short the first visit, I returned after searching the internet to find what others were using to plug the holes. Though not a perfect fit, 1/4" NPT is sufficient enough to do the job. It appears that the fittings are some real oddball size, as I never did run across any info on the net stating the exact size, simply what would get the job done
After installing the allen head plugs, I was ready to call it a day. The A.I.R. pump still pumps air and will continue to do so until it's removal. I must decide whether or not to simply buy a new serpentine belt, reroute it, and deal with the slack, or, purchase the pulley that helps fill the void. Either way, I'm probably not going to tackle that project until my next tune-up, which will be much more extensive this time around.
I've also been pondering removal of my catalytic converters, installation of headers, and a new muffler (or two), as mine is getting quite rusted out and I can hear the gases leaking. I've been trying to determine a few things before taking on the installation. First, whether or not I could replace the cats with a set of bullet type mufflers. Secondly, if by doing so I could run a true dual exhaust to the rear. The problem with these cars comes down to ground clearance, as the passenger side floor board has a hump to make room for the cats, and there is little room to run anything more than a single intermediate pipe to the rear to tie into the rear mounted muffler. I'll have to either search the net, or hit a few local car shows, and find a worthy muffler shop able to mandrel bend a custom exhaust.
Here you can see 3 of the 4 driver side lines of the system.
A close-up of the fitting at #2 cylinder.
The passenger side is much more of a clusterfuck, and the real reason why removal of the system makes normal maintenance much easier. The big black box with the two gray ear muffs is part of the system as well, a sort of distribution block.
The rubber hose that ties the two sides together.
You must remove the cap to the distribution block so you can access the two electrical plugs that tie the system into your ECM. Though slightly concerned about how the computer would respond, I had no problems when I did the same removal of the system on my first Firebird, though it was a 305 TBI, where as this is a 350 TPI. After 4 days of driving, I've had zero trouble codes pop up, so it seems the ECM is happy.
Here you can see the plumbing (top) that leads down to the cats.
Here you can see how tight it is getting to the rear fitting.
Finished product. A few pounds lighter, and a helluva lot easier to work on!
Sunday, June 01, 2008
This cage started life as a Jegs 10 point kit specifically built for a Ford Fairmont complete with a halo. I eventually ended up adding 2 extra bars to make it the full 12 point setup. Note: I still have 2 main hoop braces that need to be welded in thus making it the full 12. I would say that the kit fit “ok” but it needed help in a few areas. For a do-it-yourselfer without access to a tube bender buying this kit saves a lot of time.
For a long time I was content to have just a 10 point cage without the front end tied into the cage. The reason being was the front bars that tie into the front shock towers go right through the dash, the heater box (not that I’m going to use it much, but I still want it there and functional) and through the hood hinges. Those were three issues what were very important to me, but not having the front end tied into the cage seemed like a travesty of epic proportions! Considering the horsepower I’m going to be generating, the weight of the engine and the flimsy sheet metal subframe holding it all together, I figured I’d tweak the front end of the car the first I’m I dropped the loud hammer.
So, I came up with what I though was a creative solution. I decided to run a bar under the dash through the firewall, into and through the wheel well area and then into engine compartment connecting into the shock towers. I started measuring things out and came up with a game plan how to make it happen. I just so happened to have a pair of door bars that I made but didn’t use because I wasn’t happy with the angle, and those fit the bill perfectly. You would almost think I custom made them just for this application!
About the only issue I had with doing this was how close the tires would get to those bars when in a full turn and with the suspension fully compressed. I managed to route the bars in such a way that they sit so far back in the corner of the wheel well that the tires don’t even come close to touching them when mocked up. A non-issue.
I was happy with how they turned out, but I’ll be the first to admit they are a compromise to just running the bars through the dash (due to the bend in the bars). I think going though the dash results in a stronger, more rigid cage, but like I said before I didn’t want to hack up the dash, heater box and hood hinges to do that.
In the back end I ran the rear bars to the back of the trunk which really doesn’t connect them to the rear suspension. To solve this I ran some vertical bars up from the rear suspension mounting points up to the bottom of the rear bars to tie them together. I added a horizontal cross bar for rigidity.
Another big compromise that resulted from the rear bars was that I ran them through the speaker cutouts so now there isn’t a good place to put any speakers. That’s ok though, I think I’m going to go radio delete with this car anyway!! HAHA, what music could sound better then that glorious BDS 8-71 blower winning along with a Milidon fixed idler gear drive!!!
Without a doubt the biggest casualty of the roll cage was the inability of anyone to sit in the back seat. When I welded in the main hoop cross bar from the back seat area I thought to myself “No one is going to want to sit back here!!! There is NO room!!” The mini-tub job made it impossible for the stock back seat to fit back there anyway so I’m going to have to figure out what to do with that. Even if no one wants to ride in the back seat, I still want to have it there for looks. An added bonus is that the back seat doesn’t weigh much so it’s not really a weight issue.
Also I deviated from my original plan of paying someone to TIG weld the cage and busted out trusty Lincoln SP135 MIG welded and did it myself. I have gotten SO much practice using that welder lately that I was confident I could make a strong weld that would be up to the task. I’ll admit that a professional welder probably could have made a few welds look better, but I wanted to be able to say that I did it all myself.
Here are a few pictures to show you what I did.