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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Default My 1985 Monte Carlo SS Barney...

    Just finished up my latest project (T56 install) so I thought I'd recap it here as well as update everything else I've done to Barney in the last 5 years.

    My story with Barney started off as a pretty much original 67,000 mile garage kept car I picked up at a Mecum Auction here in KC. I spent a lot of time and effort in the first few years restoring the underside and upgrading the mechanicals, the goal was better performance but retaining an original look with the car.






    I put a GMPP HT383 crate engine under the hood in the first year keeping the original CCC carb and distributor feeding it.




    When the used Auburn posi I put in the 7.5" rear axle began to eat itself, I upgraded to a Quick Performance 9" with the rear disc brake kit.




    Along the same time frame I put 2" drop spindles up front and 1" eibach springs out back to help with the stance a bit. Not long after than I saved up and bought a set of Billet Specialties rally wheels and Nitto 555 tires to finish up the lowered stance look.



    About the same time I found a set of late model GTO seats, had them covered to match the rest of the interior and replaced the woeful factory buckets. The other interior upgrade came with a Retrosound Head unit that fit in the twin shaft dash plate but offered much improved sound, a digital tuner and connections for a USB stick and MP3.





    I also pulled the carpet, painted the floor with rust encapsulater and used RAAmat to deaden sound. New carpet was the last to go back in on the interior freshen up project.







    The following winter I installed an electric fan upgrade using a new Ramcharger fan setup and wired up the two speed relays with 2 sensors and a 3 way switch to override the relays when needed. I decided to clean up the underhood harness and like most projects whileImatitis kicked in and before I knew it the entire underhood area was stripped from the windshield forward to bare metal and restored. This was my first venture outside of the "stock appearing" phase as I added some bright work under the hood when putting it all back together again. I still retained the CCC Carb, distributor and ECM though but completely disassembled the under hood harness and rerouted everything I could to hide as much of it as I could.




    Once this was all back together again, I was basically done upgrading the factory aspects of the car and it kind of stalled out. I didn't drive it much, couldn't get into the car show or cruise in scene and was kind of stagnant with the car. Then I discovered track days...or PDXs if you will.

    Last May after three 20 minute sessions at speed with an instructor in the car with me on Heartland Park Topeka's road course, my direction with the car changed drastically. I began autocrossing the car a bit with the local SCCA club and started to realize the limitations of the car in it's stock suspension form.

    After spending some time studying front end geometry and parts choices, I picked up a set of Detroit Speed front upper control arms and DSE 2" drop springs. When I put those on I also went with the stock spindles again and greatly improved the camber and caster gains along with a better ride and more control over the front of the car...which immediately made me realize just how bad the rear of the car was.




    Next up was a set of DSE rear 2" drop springs and a bunch of work to rearrange my rear disc brake package to help them clear the frame with the new
    lowered stance.



    I then participated in a Solo School and the following day another Solo competition and really started to see just how well the car could handle.





    The next problem began to surface though. The stock 200R4 which had held up to my abuse fairly well I thought...would spew fluid out the overflow during extended runs on the road course or during the solo runs.

    With the new direction I was headed with the car, I made the decision to swap in a T56 instead of trying to build the 200R4 to live up to the abuse I was going to put the car through. I picked up a take out from a 1994 Camaro complete from flywheel to driveshaft, including pedals and everything. Starting the week before Thanksgiving I began pulling the old trans out and preparing to put the T56 in it's place. With a lot of help from the members of the Manual Monte Cult list, the trans swap was fairly straight forward. Biggest problem I ran into was my driver's side Hedman long tube header's collector pointed directly at the clutch slave cylinder, so a new set of headers was also needed along with a rebuild of the front half of the exhaust.

    3 weeks and a day later, the car was back on the road, now shifting gears and viewing the vitals of the car through a new VHX Dakota Digital Dash which I upgraded too at the same time. I'm loving it so far, it's like a different car. Everything works very well so far, no strange noises or vibrations...stock clutch that came with the trans works flawlessly and overall...I'm very happy with the swap.





    Anyway, that pretty much wraps it up for now. Hope you all enjoyed the journey as much as I've enjoyed reliving it once again. I just hope the next 5 years with the car are even better than the first 5.

    Lance
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    SoCal
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    664
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    Default

    WOW great write up and a great execution on "Barney"!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    California City Ca.
    Posts
    397

    Default

    nice monte, what kind and size tires you using for track days?
    Dale Hayes
    87 turbo t
    turbonetics t60, pet stock location intercooler, ride tech coilovers, rjc exhaust, 60lb injectors with tt chip, ported heads and intake, ported tb, baer brakes, roh 17 inch wheels....now need to finish paint and get it put back together.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Lawler, IA
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    569
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    Default

    Welcome over here. I never realized what you have done to your Monte, just thought you did the spring thing and doing a manual swap. Very clean and great looking build. We need to find an autocross where we can get together.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Peoria, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by instro84 View Post
    nice monte, what kind and size tires you using for track days?
    Thanks,

    Up till now I've used the Nitto 555s you see in the pics 275/40/17s out back, 245/40/17s up front.

    Next on my list is a set of dedicated track wheels and tires so I can save these for street duty. Still haven't decided exactly what I'm going to get though.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Florida
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    2,330
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    Default

    Great write up! Thanks for sharing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by howehot View Post
    Welcome over here. I never realized what you have done to your Monte, just thought you did the spring thing and doing a manual swap. Very clean and great looking build. We need to find an autocross where we can get together.
    Absolutely!!! I plan on hitting 10-12 of the KC Region's events this upcoming year and might possibly travel out of town for some divisional meets as well. We could put on a show for those Mini and Miata drivers with the two of our loud tire squawling G body's raising heck couldn't we.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Mountain View,Ca
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    49
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    Default

    Nice car.
    Nice,clean build. The engine compartment on those cars is not easy to clean up.You did it right.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Thanks. It was a ton of work...I've got pictures of it all tore all the way down, I even documented every wire and connector on the engine harnesses for future use before I loomed it all back up again.







    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Awesome build! Love the newer style Dakota Digital gauges.. I've been trying to figure out a cost-effective way to keep my stock gauges but after seeing those DD's, I found my new gauges! They look 100X better than the original DD gauges.

    Keep up the hard work!

    -Brandon K
    1985 Monte Carlo SS- 224/228 cammed 5.3/4L80E/17x9.5 Budnik Tiller 5s/BFG Comp T/As
    2007 2500HD Silverado CCSB Duramax- 18" KMC HOSS, 285s
    2006 Corvette Coupe- Black/LS2/M6/3LT/Corsa/Callaway MP112/Nitto Invos SOLD
    2002 Sierra Denali Quadrateer-
    SOLD

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    So I've put about 200 miles on Barney since the T56 swap, still loving every minute of it. Super glad to be able to sneak the car out in January on the dry days and get used to shifting gears, unusual for us here in the Midwest.

    Been working with John (32v_dohc on the MCSS board) about my PROM, I was having some pinging issues below 1800 RPM which were easy to reproduce and diagnose now with the T56. Apparently the timing tables for use with an automatic trans are very different than those used with a manual. The auto tune builds in timing to compensate and help with a slipping torque converter which is no longer there. I started out with his EGR delete ZZ4 PROM that I put in the car a couple of years ago set at about 8 degrees advanced at idle and dropped it 2 degrees at a time before I got it all the way down to 0 degrees advanced before I was able to all but eliminate the pinging below 1800 RPM.

    He took that information plus my description of the seat of the pants power feel (which dropped considerably at the same time) and did some more research and came up with a new tune for me. I think he was able to find a set of timing tables that GM uses for a RamJet 350 with a manual trans (uses the exact same cam as in my engine) and adapted them into the CCC PROM and burnt it for me. I put that PROM in yesterday and set the timing at 6 degrees advanced and took it for a spin... MAN did it wake that little 383 up!! From a roll it spun the tires almost all the way through first gear the first time I really got on it once everything was well warmed up. Drove it around a bit, lugged it down to 1300 RPM in 6th gear and could not get it to ping anywhere... So I pulled it back into the garage and tried to go ahead and set it at 10 degrees advanced (John said that would give a total of 34 degrees). I couldn't get it to stay at 10 for some reason, every time I would tighten the clamp down it would jump up to about 12 degrees, but it would hold steady at 9 degrees so I left it there and road tested again.

    Can't really explain how different it feels, totally woke this car up. Spins up much faster than every before, so much so that it messed my timing up and I even missed a 2nd to 3rd gear shift at one point. I've got to learn how to drive it all over yet again. But that is alright...I'll take it. I can't wait to take it back to my friends chassis dyno now. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do that soon.

    Filled that tank back up (looked to be about 15 mpg) washed the dust off of her and put her back in the garage with the cover on it...for now.

    LOVE hot rodding in January.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Colorado
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    160
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    Nice! What crossmember did you use? And how did you get the pedals to work? I'm in the process of doing a 99 LS1 with a 98 T56 and need some help.. Thanks! Barney isn't an old Purple dinosaur...
    Last edited by 85GPLEf41; 01-24-2013 at 12:45 AM. Reason: spell check
    Ernesto M.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2012
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    Thanks. I had a G-Force cross member for the 200R4 that was real beefy and fit well, so we just modified it to work on the T56. This helped us get the trans as high as we could to help with the drive line angles.

    Here is the chunk we cut out of the cross member



    and here is the new mounting plate welded in place.





    If I remember correctly, the new mounting hole is an inch and a half lower than the 200R4 and an inch and a half forward. Depending on which adapter plates you use to set your LS1, that may be different. G-Force makes a bolt in T56 cross member, but I think it is for a stock engine placement so I'd verify that would work with your LS1 for sure before ordering it.

    For the pedal, I used a "John B" pedal that many before me have used.



    It bolts directly onto the existing G-Body brake pedal assembly and has perfect geometry in place to use with the F Body clutch master cylinder set up. If you'd like I can get you his contact info. It's pricey, but it's a real nice piece.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  14. #14
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    Nov 2009
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    Colorado
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    Thanks! if you don't mind... I have seen those and considered using it, I did see one through GSI http://www.gsi-interiorss.com/item/t...-cu/lid=983837
    Don't have any feedback on them. John Bzdel's build is like my bible though... lol!! I am considering just modifying my OG crossmember for now . I went ahead and used the transdapt 4595 1in setback plates, which required some notching of my heater box and relocation of my alt. I am doing without my a/c for now..
    Ernesto M.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Spent some time wrenching on the Monte again today.

    Today's job was project rear suspension upgrade. The last part of my suspension that was still factory stock was the rear upper and lower control arms.

    Picked these beauty's up from UMI Performance.



    They are double adjustable with roto-joints which are supposed to not only much stronger than the factory stamped steel arms, but also still allow the suspension to articulate without binding. They also have provisions to mount the stock style sway bar in the lowers which was necessary in my case.

    Installation wasn't a huge deal as I've had it all apart before, many times. Only real hassle was I had to take the disc brake backing pads off to get the old lower control bolts out of the mounts. I did one arm at a time starting with the lowers then the uppers.

    Here is how I made sure the new arms were set at the same length as the stock arms. Bolts through both arms seemed to be a better way to measure than using a tape.



    Once all four arms were in place, I raised the rear axle up with a screw jack into ride height and cranked the 8 bolts tight. I'm not sure this is necessary with the roto-joints, but old habits are hard to break. I then re-installed the swaybar.







    Once everything was buttoned back off, it was time for the obligatory test drive to check out the improvements. :D

    Been very happy to be able to get the car out on the road at least once every week or so this winter and today was just another example of that. Took it easy for a bit, shaking it down if you will and when everything seemed to be fine, I made some aggressive cuts back and forth to test the turning and body roll feelings. It's a little different but I couldn't really explain it.

    Where I really noticed the difference was on a few launches from a dead stop or slight roll. These arms really hold the rear end in place and plant the power to the rear tires better than the stock arms. The whole car just feels more in control and smoother under heavy power than before.

    I removed the drive shaft and checked the pinion angle and trans output angle with the rear at ride height before I started. The trans is 1.5 degrees down and the pinion is 1.5 degrees up...which from my old 4 wheeling days is perfect for vibration free action, so I set both the uppers and lowers to the stock length for now.

    I didn't drive it a whole lot today, but the slight vibration that I had at 70 mph seems to be gone now. The old arms had the 28 year old rubber bushings in them...and maybe they had just enough slop in them to cause the vibration. We'll see.

    The plan now is to get the car back to the alignment shop, do a true 4 corner alignment and maybe fine tune the pinion angle at that point if needed.

    Also took some pictures of the new X-pipe install. It was done in a rush to get the car driveable right after the trans install and isn't exactly what I wanted...but it'll do for now I guess.







    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  16. #16
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    Aug 2012
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    Got some things done on Barney this week. Wednesday the weather was nice and the roads were dry so I took it over to the alignment shop to get the rear thrust angle checked since the addition of the rear upper and lower arms. Was within .06 degrees so we left the lowers as they were but adjusted the pinion angle from 0 degrees to 3.5 degrees up (trans output is 3.5 degrees down). Highway vibrations are next to none now and a bigger plus was the backlash slop felt much tighter, almost non-existent. Car runs real smooth down the highway now and plants the power a bunch better with the new rear suspension pieces.

    I then called my friend with a chassis dyno in his shop and he had time to let me make a few pulls at the end of the day.

    We didn't have any time for tuning, but at least my baseline is updated. Here is a video of the last run.

    http://youtu.be/3pPVd_peuuA

    and here is the printout of the results



    Engine is running a bit lean across the board and is detonating at about 4250 rpm causing the ecm to pull timing out. I'm working on a solution to fatten it up now.

    Was pretty impressed with the torque it put to the wheels down low though, 400 ft lbs at 2500 rpm... Not to shabby for a truck motor with a tiny cam fed by an electronic Q-jet designed for a 305 huh?

    Our first SCCA Solo Test N Tune is April 6th and our first Solo event is April 7th, I can't wait...
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    overseas
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    your MCSS looks great Lance! good work!
    Kevin S. (overseas in Germany)

    1972 Buick Skylark GS 455 (Stage 1 Clone)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Chippewa Falls, WI
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    Just read this through the first time, very nice work. I can see the time you put into all the little things as well as the big tasks. I make it down to Olathe area a couple times a year, It would be nice to check this out sometime!

    Ever been up to MN for Car Craft Nats? It would be a good road-trip for the car as well!
    Justin N.

    1966 Chevelle
    1992 GMC Typhoon
    1989 Jeep Wrangler CJ 6.0 Twin Turbo
    1981 Jeep CJ7

  19. #19
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    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Thanks for the nice words, it's reassuring to see the many hours of hard work recognized. Next time you are in town drop me a note we'll see what's up. All I need is an excuse to get the car out.

    A good friend of mine goes to the Car Craft Nats every year and has been trying to drag me along, something always seems to conflict schedule wise though.

    Kevin, your car is coming along nicely as well...love how those meats fill up the fenders.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Got the car back on the lift last night for the first time since the runs with the slicks...





    If you listen on this video at 1:24 and 2:28 you can hear the left rear tire up against the tailpipe and the frame.

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1Fn...RzV0dWcEE/edit


    I've got a few ideas, but I'm very limited in options due to time and $$ constraints.

    The tailpipe is the biggest hindrance and the whole exhaust is loose yet again, so that'll be my first challenge to tackle.
    Lance
    1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car

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