Author Archives: Rusty

Its About Time

HEI distributor ignition

With the engine complete, the time has come to tune it properly. The main two ways to go about that are tuning the air/fuel ratio via the carburetor, and controlling the ignition advance. Today I’ll talk about the ignition advance. For years, and years (n years n years) I looked at distributor ignition timing as setting the timing at a certain mark, at idle with the vacuum advance unplugged. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the timing set at idle speed, actually depends on the optimal fully advanced ignition curve subtracted from the perfect advance for the engine application. So, with the knowledge that large GM V8’s, at least the ones I know about, seem to perform best when they’re total advance is somewhere around 35 to 36 degrees. They also seem to perform best, for our purposes, when that advance is all-in by 3000 rpm. Now … Continue reading

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A Complete Engine

Ready to install as one unit

At the end of the last post we had a complete short block and prepped heads. I remember how excited I got with the installation of each component. Getting closer to that picture of a pontiac engine in my mind. So once the cylinder heads were on the block and torqued, I swapped the original rocker studs to the 7/16 ARP studs for an adjustable valve train. On top of that went the roller tipped rockers. However, at that point I had to stop and measure the length of the pushrods to keep the geometry correct. I was told, by some pretty knowledgable people, I could use the Pontiac pushrods, but there was no way that was going to work. I ended up ordering a slightly shorter set from Butler. This was when I was first able to test fit the valley pan and the intake manifold. I had purchased … Continue reading

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Rochester Quadrajet Overhaul

Completely assembled

OK, so I’ve heard the comments, ‘quadrajunk’, ‘bogjet’ -whatever! You have to know, the feds were mandating that everything ran on the ragged edge of lean bach in those days. So if you take a good, functional design and impose less than perfect mixtures, you can end up with problems. However, if you’ve ever ridden in a car with a properly functioning Quadrajet, you may have noticed that incredible moan that tells you precisely which carb is on that big motor. Step one was to toss the Edelbrock, square bore that everybody is using today, and find a suitable candidate for the overhaul. And just like everyone else, the first stop was EBay. Step two, maybe learn a little something about them. Cliff Ruggles is literally ‘the guy who wrote the book’ so I got his book and began to email him. He convinced me I really, probably wouldn’t screw … Continue reading

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If You’re Gonna Do It, Do It Right!

Man Jewelry

If you take things apart to improve them, and you find more problems than not, at some point you just have to decide to strip things to the bare bones and start all over. That’s where I found myself at the point of complete disassembly. So stick with me and I’ll try to describe this build from the ground up. The block was sent off to our local top-notch machine shop for re-animation. Fortunately for me they allowed me to nag them from time to time to monitor the progress as they bring the 40 year old iron back to life. After hot tanking and ‘fluxing to check the integrity of the block, it was line bored, the deck was cleaned up and the cylinders were bored .040 over. (We found it was .030 over already). The original crankshaft was cleaned up, the original rods were resized and ARP rod … Continue reading

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I’ll Just Fix a Few Things

Looks like oil changes were good

If you read the previous post, you know I’ve determined that I had a burnt exhaust valve on the #6 cylinder. Now I had done some digging to figure out what kind of engine was in the firebird. Knowing that this was originally a 301 Turbo engine, I went into this knowing my engine was not the correct one for this car, but I needed to determine what it was and what is was out of. I got the codes from the cylinder head and the stamping from the engine block. I figured out I had a nice strong block, good for power. But the cylinder heads indicated they were small valve heads from a two barrel application. I wasn’t looking for a high compression race engine but I don’t need a super low compression lunk either. So, although I was tempted, and had sourced a set of #12 Ram … Continue reading

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A Bit About Da ‘Bird

1980 Trans Am

So how did I decide which Trans Am to get? I wasn’t in the market for an original high dollar collector or a trailer queen. I wanted a driver and a project. I really wanted a later, second generation TA since the WS6 option, which was a handling-only option, had just come out in ’78. It had a larger rear bar, additional support for the front cradle, 4 wheel disc brakes, quicker steering ratio, and 8″ wide snowflake wheels. Problem was, the later power trains got more and more anemic. So I really wanted an earlier ’70’s engine with a beefy transmission. I got lucky and found this 1980 Turbo Trans Am that has already had the 301ci Turbo weakling replaced with a genuine Pontiac 400ci platform and a turbo 400 automatic transmission. So with nearly no rust found, I had the platform and the drive train I was hoping … Continue reading

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It’s About The Stories

My favorite 60's Chevrolet

As much of a car nut that I am, I have always really enjoyed the back stories and the people telling them. I recently attended a very good car show in Raleigh NC where I met Mike W. He has a beautiful 1969 Camaro Z/28. What makes this one different is he is basically the original owner. I say it that way ‘cuz it was first titled in his dad’s name although it was a present for him on his 16th birthday. How a 16 year old didn’t wrap it around a tree is beyond me. The car has never been out of his possession and although years and life took its toll on the old bow tie, Mike’s love for the car never diminished. So after the family obligations (ie: college tuition) Mike finally got a chance to restore it, and it is magnificent. His first date with his … Continue reading

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Gallery

And So It Begins Again

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Sometimes life just gets too busy. There are things we WANT to do, and there are things we HAVE to do. The blog is a want to. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that I would like to restart this, we’ll here it is. I guess this is kind of a double beginning. Since the blog is about my lifelong obsession with cars, does it not make sense that I have a toy car of my own? I think yes. So what shall it be? 1. As you know, my dad was a Pontiac man. 2. I am a child of the 70’s 3. The really collectible cars are too expensive 4. I use a CB when I travel. Sounds like a trip to Georgia might be in order. What for? Good question. I couldn’t help myself. So much of my childhood was shadowed by the … Continue reading

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Dad Was A Pontiac Man

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There may not be gold in them, there hills, but there’s Sylva! OK, bad pun, but I couldn’t wait to use it. My wife and I were visiting one of our daughters in western North Carolina this weekend and spent some time, on Saturday, in Sylva. A small town that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time 50 years. As luck would have it, among the antique shops and restaurants, there was a car show by the Western North Carolina, Early Times, Pontiac-Oakland club showcasing cars associated with the mark from 1920’s to the 1950’s. There were several stunning cars, but what really stood out to me, was how much work the early driver had to go thru to, just to drive. The earliest car there was a 1917 Oakland, that was little more than a horse carraige with an engine. But the most shocking bit about it … Continue reading

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Gadgets To Help You Get There Faster and Safer

I’ve never heard the word “Derecho” before, but evidently it’s a storm. A bad one. With very strong winds and no warning. At least that is how I will remember it. June 29th, 2012 I was driving most of my family from North Carolina to New Jersey. We left around 5:30pm so as to avoid the dreaded traffic in DC at rush hour. Unfortunately we ran into a backup long before we got to DC and detoured onto 301, thereby avoiding DC and sending us up through Maryland to Baltimore. The weather was hot. At one point on the Yuk’s thermometer, it showed 109 degrees. That is WAY HOT for the humid east coast. Other than that, it was clear and calm. That is until about 10:30pm. I was following a semi up near Annapolis when I began to see debris flying around between his rig and my truck. The … Continue reading

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