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Big project this spring


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First off I wouldn't be doing this project if I didn't have great friends to help me every step of the way.  This post is a little long but here goes.

 I really like Reattas, especially 1989 Red/Tan coupes, especially the ones with body color mirrors and rub strips, chrome 7 spoke Buick wheels, sun roofs, compass mirrors and Alero spoilers.

 I just turned 60 and have owned the Red for just over 10 years. I bought it with 113,xxx miles and put 150,000 miles on it giving me a total of about 268,000 miles. I know it isn't worth much, but well I really want to keep it and am willing to put some money [once again] back into it, this time mechanical.

 A little history. About a year ago the Black's [my other 1989 coupe that as I use as a winter driver] transmission went out. As luck would have it I found in a salvage yard a "plant car" a 1988 Buick LeSabre that was used at the Buick plant in Flint. It had about 5,500 miles on it so I bought it and my afore mentioned friend and I installed it. It works great!

 But at my age I realize that doing "heavy work" like engine/tranny swaps will become more difficult in the future so now is the time.

 The engine from this plant car obviously also has 5,500 miles on it and has been stored inside at this same salvage yard, so I just bought it. Another friend of mine who lives near this yard is picking it up [it's about 90 miles away] and is dropping it off on Friday at the other friend's house who helped me do the tranny swap. He and I are getting together to change out gaskets and seals [i bought an engine stand] so it is ready for the install this coming April [the Red is stored for the winter]. Before we can install the engine we have to pull the tranny back out of the Black  and install a used tranny I found with about 80,000 miles on it. 

 Then when we are sure everything is good on the Black we will take the engine/tranny out of the Red and install the tranny that was in the Black coupled to the engine I just bought.

 My thinking is this way I will have a engine/tranny that will serve me well for hopefully about another 10 years or so in the Red. And if I am able to keep the Black for about half of those years maybe the Red can last even longer. 

 My buddy who is helping me with this project says he is willing to do it while he is on vacation that he will be taking this April. His wife just took a new job and doesn't get vacation so he will have the time. Of course I will pay him for his time but I cannot believe his generosity. What a friend! 

 I am amazed by how I have been blessed.

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Dave,

 

It's nice you have a buddy to help you out on big projects like that.  You were very lucky to find a low mileage engine like that. I look forward to reading more about this project when the work starts. I can learn a lot from it. At 125,000 miles I'm probably looking at installing a transmission not too far down the road.

 

P.S. I marked this as an "Ongoing Project".

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Wow Dave, you have Great Friends and CONNECTIONS...A plant car how cool is that especially with only 5,500miles. I love to hear stories like this, other than the transmission going out.

 

I also think mine is getting close to finding a resting place. With 180,000 miles on her I guess that is expected, but the engine is still strong can't beat those bullet proof 3800's. When I floor it the rpm's will go to 4500-5000 and stay there but the trans will not shift into 2nd until I let off the gas then it surges into second so I think it is slipping a little...lol. Normal driving is okay but sometimes it will shift hard, and so I won't have the luxury of flooring it anymore in order to stretch out the time that I have where I will need to swap out the transmission.

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The engine was delivered Saturday morning. I go over tomorrow to "unwrap" it and put it on the engine stand.

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The engine turned out to be less then what I hoped it would be, because it arrived "seized" We took the oil pan off and were surprised all all the gunk in the oil pan as well as seeing rust on the cylinder walls below the pistons. Next week we take the heads off to see the condition of the valves as well as what rust may have started above the pistons. If the valve heads are in good condition and the block looks good we might go the route of reding the block.

We took pictures of everything and sent them to the salvage yard yet that night with a request for a refund. 18 minutes after they opened I had an answer... a full refund and I get to keep the engine. Great shop! So that is what I have so far. Hope whatever we see next week with the heads off makes the decision easy to either move forward or scrap the engine.

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Sorry to hear about the engine at least you got a full refund, very nice shop! Hopefully you will be able to save it.

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I'm considering another engine. They don't list the miles but they do list the compression. They are;

1-180

3-175

1-170

Is that good? I looked in the shop manual and I couldn't find what was considered a good compression ratio.

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Dave, I don't know the specs for compression on a 3800 but I think those reading should be in the ballpark.

 

When checking compression on a used engine the differences in readings between cylinders are what you are looking for. I think the readings you posted are well within normal range. If one was a lot lower than the others, maybe 20-30 or more psi,  it would tell you that there is a problem such as a burned valve or broke ring. Good luck with your engine search. :)

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Those are good numbers, very similar to what I see for a stock engine in good condition.

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Thanks guys. I am not sure how many miles are on the car, but I thought the numbers were good. This engine is about 30 miles away.

There is also a car about 90 miles at a yard that has 84,000 on it. I am looking at that one pretty hard as I have seen it in person. Tha car shows some rust but the interior was well taken care of which leads me to believe the car was well taken care off. According to the yard it was junked because of bad brake lines. The owner just didn't want to spend the money and junked it.

I am going to call that yard and ask for a compression test and as the car is still in the yard and to see if it will run. If it does I am going to drive down and look at it again.

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I like the sound of getting an engine with 84000 miles. I would want the compression checked. That tells you a lot about an engine.

 

Nothing beats getting to hear used engine run. If you can, take you buddy with you so he can listen for a rod knocking. He will know what to listen for.

 

If you have to listen to the engine yourself - with the engine fully warmed up so the oil pressure will be where the engine normally runs - slowly raise the RPM to about 2000 RPM and then ease off on the throttle to allow the RPM to come down to about 1200. At the point where the RPM hits 2000 and starts to come back down, listen for a deep sounding rattle that shouldn't be there. Some mechanics describe it as the sound of bumping 2 small wood blocks together. Repeat several times until you are sure there is nothing unusual sounding. You might want to do this on one of your good engines at home to get use to how the engine should sound when doing that.

 

Also look for signs of water in the oil on the dipstick.

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Thanks for the tips Ronnie. My other Buddy just retired as a machinist and has been around engines his entire life I am sure would go with me. I'll keep you posted.

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I am not sure if you are interested but i have been watching this engine for quite some time now on eBay. I was thinking about getting it as a backup but haven't had the funds, maybe you might be interested sounds like a good deal. The only thing would be the shipping charges.

 

Here is a partial description:

This engine was a NEW GM complete engine that was hooked up on a dyno, it has been run about 3 hours total. It has not been run in 10 years but has been stored in a "pickled" state. I had bought it as a spare engine for my Regal but I lost my Regal to an accident so I no longer need it. It will turn over fine and comes just as the pictures show.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/222383004949?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

 

502x374http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/MpgAAOSwEzxYRXO%7E/s-l1600.jpg[/img]

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Would be a good value but would require a fair amount of rework to the fuel lines and the engine harness must be reworked a bit. You would also need a new trans. flexplate, damper and heater pipes. Would likely also need a bit of tweaking to the PROM, particularly the elimination of EGR. It does have a five hp. higher rating, but the LN3 has more torque down low. It wouldn't be plug and play. For about the same amount of work, an L67 s/c ??

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As this might be what many would consider a great opportunity as I am replacing both the engine and transmission I remember when Daniel did this. I seem to remember he had drive shaft issues or is it because he had switched over to a manual transmission? He also had to redo the power steering as well as reroute the throttle linkage and some other things.

I'm going to pass. To old a dog...

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Didn't mean to imply you should go for the L67, just that the work involved with the L27 would be less involved but similar. I installed that same TPI intake manifold on my twice rebuilt '89 junkyard engine now in the car, to which I added EGR, but the small changes do take time to resolve.

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Never took it that way, just made the comment that it is no longer for me. BTW if you want to see the engine, I am going over there Tuesday night. Give me a call if you are available.

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