35218 Magnaflow Stainless Exhaust Tips vs EVT10 Pypes 1976-1981 Trans Am Splitter Tips

If you haven’t followed this blog, for Project Trans Am I decided on the Pypes brand header back X exhaust system. One of the finishing touches is to add dual chrome exhaust tips. This dual tip look was used from 1967-1969 and from 1976-1981. It is one of the subtle but unique details for any late model Trans Am of the era.

Originally I purchased a set of EVT10 Pypes exhaust splitter tips (retail for $75-$100) to connect to the splitter adapter kit TGF10E to convert my Pypes X pipe kit from a Camaro exhaust system to a Firebird Trans Am exhaust system. Though the web site advertises these to have a 2-1/4″ exit tips, the tips are actually both 2-1/2″ in diameter. The extra wide tips make it harder for them to tuck under without hitting either the rear leaf spring or the body. On top of this, the band clamps they came with are not strong enough to clamp the stainless steel. I then decided to try drilling a hole in the tips to try to use a screw to hold them to the exhaust pipe without any luck. Basically, the stainless steel used is so strong, the only way to attach these tips is to weld them on.

In addition to the problems with the tips, the TGF10E kit did not fit well with the piping portion that bridges the mufflers to just over the axles. Modification was necessary in order to get these pipes from the kit to fit without rubbing against the under body. I will still have to take my car to a muffler shop to tweak the pipes over the axles if they don’t settle away from the under body this Spring.

I decided to order a pair of the 35218 Mangnaflow exhaust tips (retail for about $125-$140) after seeing them in a previous episode of Detroit Muscle (TV show from the folks of PowerBlock TV and Muscle Car). Two days later (they came fast) I had them in my hand and I was impressed. These actually have an inlet of 2.5″ and outlet tips of 2.25″. They are also polished stainless steel. They have a straighter profile so you can tuck the tips under the car better. There are 4 relief cuts made along the collar so they can be clamped on easily. They look more like factory tips than the Pypes tips.

With all the problems I’ve had with the Pypes system from the mufflers back, if I had to order an exhaust system today, I would buy just X pipe portion and downpipes from Pypes, Texas Trans Am or Magnaflow mufflers, then Magnaflow muffler back exhaust piping and tips. I wonder if it’s even possible to buy such a combination of brands?

Here are some pictures:

IMG_20140507_192736  IMG_20140507_192408  IMG_20140507_192339 IMG_20140507_192333  IMG_20140507_192326  IMG_20140507_192257  IMG_20140507_192247  IMG_20140507_192232  IMG_20140507_192147

Project Trans Am for March, 2014 – Ram Air Manifolds!

Project Trans Am has been on hold over the Winter while I work on the house. This  March the weather broke enough to get back to it!

Ram Air Manifolds!

I purchased a set of exhaust Ram Air manifolds from Ram Air Restorations in February. I’ve had my eyes on these manifolds for a couple years, now that I’ve made additional changes to my engine setup I took the advice and got a pair of the over-sized 2-1/2″ exit  D port Ram Air manifolds. They are beautiful pieces, lighter than the factory logs and they do minor porting work to match the ports to D port heads. I spent about $400 on them, $30 in Eastwood cast gray hi-temp paint and another $10 in new grade 8 bolts. The folks at Ram Air Restorations include detailed install instructions with a chart of the recommended bolt lengths and hardware.

IMG_20140311_132016 (Large) IMG_20140314_112443 (Large)

The second photo is after my buddy Joel baked them over night in an industrial oven. This means the paint is fully cured and I don’t have to worry about them smoking when I fire up the motor in May.

Next month I will get new down pipes to match up with these manifolds.

Motor Status

As I said in the fall I took my motor to Don at DCI Motorsports, he reviewed my engine build and discovered the problem with my oil pressure. In a nutshell, if had I purchased a blueprinted oil pump from the beginning I would not have had issues. The plate at the bottom of the oil pump did not make a complete seal against the oil pump casting, allowing oil to bleed out at the plate. The pressure was fine when the oil was cold, but was off by about 10psi across the rpm spectrum when warm, so the gap must have been very small since cold oil was not able to bleed out. This more than likely happened either because the casting wasn’t completely true/flat from the factory and/or because I took the plate off to clean the inside of the oil pump and my re-assembly didn’t get the plate on correctly. Either reason, Don blueprinted my pump this time around, so I should be good to go. He did find a couple other problems such as I used the wrong length push rods for the valves I got and the viton 2 piece rear seal was leaking, most likely because the crank wasn’t intended for that type of seal.

Since he had the engine, I decided to have it converted to a roller. I will be running a hydraulic roller cam with solid roller lifters. Solid lifters are used primarily because the hydraulic lifters for Pontiac’s are not reliable. I also switched to Harland Sharp 1.5:1 true roller rockers (rather than roller tip rockers), and to match the setup better, I am swapping out the log exhaust manifolds with Ram Air manifolds pictured above. I’m also going to get a different torque converter to match the new engine setup.

UPDATE: When I picked up the motor Don explained that he was suspicious of the connecting rods I used as the source of the pressure problems and during re-assembly we swapped in my original cast connecting rods since they checked out ok. Don did replaced the factory rod bolts with ARP bolts. The pressure problem was less likely because of the the oil pump. Regardless, I am now running a blueprinted oil pump with an OEM W72 oil pressure spring, I am seeing 25 psi at hot idle now.

What’s Next

I’m going to be working on my front and rear bumpers next. I have a buddy who’s going to paint them black, all I have to do is fix any cracks then get them in his hands so he can do his magic. I’ll also be painting a few parts, working on the inside of the trunk and installing a remote trunk release. Factoring in Easter and my planned trip to Carlisle the following weekend, this should be plenty to keep me busy. Early may I will be re-installing the motor and tiding up the remainder of the car so I can get her on the road. But don’t, worry, I still have a ton of things to do, including wheels and tires, sub frame connectors and some wiring changes.

If you are selling Wrenches on ebay, please read this first!

There’s one thing that drives me crazy when searching for wrenches on eBay, when sellers miss-label a tool or wrench. I’ve seen folks label an open end wrench as boxed end, combination wrenches as open ended wrenches, and even flare wrenches mistaken as “fancy wrenches”. But it doesn’t just stop there, I see a lot of wacky mistakes, usually ones that if I catch, means I get a great deal on a tool.

To education yourself, first take a look at the massive list of wrenches on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrench

Now that you’re familiar with what some styles look like, here’s the skinny on wrenches you need to know for listing them on eBay:

Note Country of Origin

If you know where the wrench was made, put it in the description. If it is made in America, Canada or somewhere in Europe, if you can mention the country in the title that will help you sell the wrench.

Do not be afraid of the origin. There is a tendency to shy away from tools that are made over seas, specifically China. Some tools though have a solid reputation that go hand-in hand with their origin. Take the brand TrueCraft, most of their line of tools are made in Japan and also having a reputation for quality.

Describe the Wrench sizes in ascending order

For example, if you are selling a box end or open end wrench that is 3/8″ and 5/16″, write the sizes in order: 5/16″ –  3/8″

Utilize the size abbreviation standards

Inches are noted by following the size with one double quote. For example, 1 inch is written 1″. Metric sizes are referred to with two letter m’s following the size number. For example, 10mm.

For the sake of maximizing your listing titles, put these size abbreviations right after the size, do not bother adding a space. ebay’s search is smart enough to separate the number from the double quote character and double m letters.

If your tool is using inches, include the words “SAE” in the title, and also include the word “Standard” in the description. If metric, use the word “metric” in the title. Don’t forget to spell check as well, my last great find was from someone misspelling the word metric.

Make sure you spell the manufacturer’s name correctly

There are a lot of tool brand names out there that are of value, but only if they can be found. Misspelling the tool brand name will only prevent your listing from getting the proper exposure that it deserves.

Don’t be fooled by symbols in Logos. Kobalt brand tools sold by Lowes are quite good tools. Their first generation made up to about 2002 are highly sought after because they were made by Williams, same company that makes SnapOn tools. Plomb is another brand that is no longer made, but has a cult following. Believe it or not, many folks who don’t know better list Plomb tools in eBay as “Plumb” tools, simply because the middle letter in their logo is an upside down triangle. There are other brands that were spelled wacky from the beginning too, such as PowrKraft, a house brand for the Montgomery Ward department store.

Be up front with condition

If you don’t know how to access the condition of a wrench, say as such in your listing and let the photos speak for themselves. If there is a ratcheting mechanism, try to test it. If it clicks smooth, or makes a weird sound, describe that in the listing. Even a broken tool has value, don’t be afraid to sell and describe a tool as broken, there’s some geek like me looking for parts for their ratchet and what you have may be the solution.

Don’t over price

The biggest thing I see are tools way over priced.  I recommend doing some searches both on eBay as well as on the web for the specific brand and wrench you want to sell. Find out what folks are asking and use a price slightly lower than that. If you truly believe in the auction system, you will have multiple bidders raising the price of your wrench, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Consider the language of your audience

Lastly, if you plan on selling tools outside of the United States, consider doing some research on the vocabulary for the countries you are targeting. For example, folks from England refer to a wrench as a “spanner”.


Hopefully these are enough tips to keep you from listing the wrenches so folks like me can find and buy them!

Project Trans Am for August, 2013 – Exhaust System, Cooling System & Transmission, and Electrical

This has been another productive month for Project Trans Am!

Exhaust System Installed

This was a major pain in the rear. I think the Pypes brand exhaust makes a quality product, but I have to admit that the amount of tweaking I had to do to make the system work in my car was beyond what I expected for the price I paid. Most of the headaches were from the mufflers back. I purchased a second tail pipe kit in hopes to get the chrome splitter tips lined up better with no luck. I will need to take the car to a muffler shop to get the tips welded on. The stainless steel Pypes tips are not capable of being clamped onto the tail pipes, leaving only welding as an option.

If I had to do it over again, I would get the 2nd Generation Firebird/Camaro dual exhaust system from Jegs or Summit Racing.

Installed all Engine Accessories, Wires and Hoses

This was a rather simple task, or set of tasks. The only problem I ran into was when I tried to bolt on the alternator without the power steering pump. The factory brackets are designed to have both brackets in place, so when I installed them without the power steering brackets, the alternator did not line up. Once I installed the power steering pump though everything went together well. I decided not to run the power steering pump during engine break in and have since removed the power steering belt since I took the pictures below.

Engine Accessories Engine Accessories

Inner Fenders and Core Support Installed with Transmission Lines and Coolant Hoses

Installing the core support and inner fenders was pretty simple task. It took some time though since I am replacing all of the body U nuts and body bolts. The engine bay is really coming together now! Installing the transmission lines was the only annoying part. I had to buy a crowfoot 1/2″ wrench in order to tighten the transmission lines to the transmission because I already had the exhaust installed. Had I thought about this ahead of time, I could have installed the lines on the transmission side before running the exhaust.

Core Support and Fenders Core Support and Fenders

Front Light Harness and Engine Harness

Luckily, the front headlight harness only needed a good cleaning. Unfortunately, I could not say the same for the engine harness. For the Engine harness, I started by identifying all the plugs that needed to be replaced, followed by replacing wire where ever possible. While I was working on the wiring harness, I decided to reroute the positive wires that go to the back of the alternator to a junction terminal on the inner fender. This allowed me to put all of the fusable links in the same location with easy access to repair if needed. Hopefully the fusable links never blow. The end result though is a much cleaner wiring system between the alternator and all of the necessary accessories.

Engine Wiring

Here are some details: I used 10 gauge wire between the alternator and the red power junction box you see in the picture above. The junction box is Caspers Electronics 103004, I got it from Jegs here in Columbus. Not shown in the picture is the factory wiring that I rewired plus the 2 additional wires I added for the AC/heater fan (12 gauge wire) and wire to fuse block in glovebox for the stereo and power windows (10 gauge wire).

What’s Next?

She’s almost ready to start! Stay tuned for September for engine break-in details!

Project Trans Am for June 2013 – Interior and Engine Done!!!

June was a very productive month, though I did not get as much done as I hoped, some major milestones have been knocked off the list including the engine assembled and the interior finished!

Interior Done

Well I shouldn’t say it is completely done, but it is done for now. I will have to go back and permanently hang the door panels, I am waiting to do that until after I get the power windows, door locks tested and working, and the drivers door is going to be replaced as soon as I find a good replacement for it. At this point though, the interior is done as far as being able to drive and such.

Dash Done Interior Done

Melanie and Nicholas love playing in the car, and they both have figured out the seat belts!

Engine is Done! But not without a fight!

Assembling the remainder of the engine actually went smoothly, here are some pictures.

Oil Pan Installing Heads Liftere Installed Valley Pan Intake Engine Ready

My buddy Joel came over to help me install the engine and transmission into the car, we got as far as the flywheel and ran into an issue. Not even 20 minutes into installing the motor and we ran into a roadblock. The TCI Flywheel I got had a sticker that said “this side toward engine”. No matter how we turned the flywheel, the bolt holes just never lined up. We tried flipping it over as well, but our assumption that the sticker was right led us to put the engine back on the engine stand. The following day I called up TCI. After describing them what happened, they did their own research, then called me back about an hour later suspecting the sticker was on the wrong side. I flipped it over and lined it up on the old factory flywheel and the holes did line up. Long story short, the sticker was on the wrong side. The other stickers were also on the wrong side, so they went ahead and replaced the flywheel for me. The replacement arrived the last wee of June, unfortunately with birthdays and 4th of July coming up, I will not get a chance to install it until after the holiday.

While waiting for the flywheel to arrive, I went ahead and installed a few other non critical engine parts like the fuel pump. While installing the fuel pump, I accidentally stripped the thread in the timing cover while bringing it to the recommended 25 ft/lbs. I had that feeling in my gut this seemed like too much torque and then instantly it just stripped out. This lead me to take the timing cover off and tap the hole with a Heli-coil tap and repair kit. The Heli-coil repair is quite easy actually, I just wish I had a drill press big enough to have drilled it with. My hand drill I just went in at a slight angle. Luckly his is just to hold the oil pump on and the angle is so minute I’m not worried about it. The lock washer has much more angle than this drill job. Anyway the engine is back together with the fuel pump installed ready for the flywheel.

Heli-Coil Kit 5/16-18

Interesting, the “How to rebuild Pontiac V-8’s” book says to use 25 ft. lbs torque for the fuel pump, I found a couple other sources on the web that said to use 10 ft.lbs. After doing some research, the aluminum cannot handle more than 18 ft. lbs., and 15 ft lbs is what is used for the water pump that is also bolted to it. The service manual makes no recommendation on toque for the fuel pump, I assume because it is a non-critical engine part. The heli-coil instructions say that a minimum of 7.5 ft lbs is required for the fastener to hold, so I decided on 12 ft lbs, which is also what the oil pan uses into the aluminum timing cover. That is still less than 1/2 the torque from the “how to rebuild” book.

What’s Next

Get the engine and transmission installed! Everything but the drive shaft is ready for installation, so next week I will investigate getting the drive shaft rebalanced and getting the u-joints replaced. Even without the drive shat, I should be able to install the engine with the transmission very soon, pretty much just waiting until I can get a buddy to come over and help me (Installing an engine is not a 1-man job). Once the engine and transmission is in the car, I have a couple weeks of installing the drive shaft, exhaust system, radiator, coolant hoses, transmission lines, wiring and throttle cables. The plan now is to have the car ready to fire by the end of July.

Project Trans Am for May 2013

May was not so productive, between family plans and work, not much got done. Never the less I did get a few things done.

Interior and Wiring

The remaining interior trim is now installed, including the t-top trim, pillar trip and such. I also installed the center console while I replaced the center console gauges (more on that below). This leaves the steering column, seats, and seat belts.

Center Console and Wiring

Replacement Center Console Gauges and Oil Pressure Line

While test fitting the center console gauges I discovered the gauges I got would not adapt to the 1/8″ NTP hose that I ran through the firewall. While searching for a replacement oil pressure gauge, I discovered a brand called ISSPro, which look nearly identical to the factory gauges. I ordered both an oil pressure and water temperature gauge. They look sharp!

I also decided instead of running a 4′ long braided line from the gauge to the engine, I decided to get two 2′ braided lines and a firewall elbow. This gives me more clearance at the firewall and it also looks much more professional.

Gauges with red lighting IISPro Gauges

Engine Work – Measure Head’s CC, Made Throttle bracket adapter, Painted Intake

I learned how to mesure the cylinder head CCs using a kit from Jegs. I made a few measurements in a few cylinders and they avreeage between 93-97 CC’s. I was conservative on my measurements as well, so they are more than likely 2 CC’s more than actual measurements, so 91-95 CC’s.

Painted Intake Throttle Bracket Adapter

What’s Next

Finish the interior and get the motor with transmission in the car, all hopefully by Fathers day!

Project Trans Am for April 2013 – Interior and Wiring

April was a very productive month! Thanks Bryan for coming down to help me install most of the interior!!!


Dashboard Covered and Installed!

In March I started working on the dashboard, my original plan was to cover it with a dash cap made by AccuForm. I got the dash cap last year, at the time I did a quick fitment test and thought it was going to work. When I finally got ready to glue the dash cover, I quickly found gaps and fitment issues, mostly around the top left drivers side corner of the cover. The cover not only didn’t fit my 81 dash, it also didn’t fit the 2 other dashes I have, one from an 80 and another from a 79. After contacting the manufacturer, they sent me another cap to try. The replacement was identical to the first one I had, with maybe 1/16″ adjustment, not nearly enough to fit well. I promptly called them with measurements of where the cap was off, with 1 spot as much as 1/4″ misaligned. A week later they told me they can’t help me any further with the fitment issue.

I then did some research and found another dash cap made by Palco. When it arrived I quickly noticed that the plastic was thinner than the AccuForm version. Upon test fitting, I found it fit my dash perfectly. Lesson learned, if you have a 79-81 Firebird and are looking for a dash cap, get the Palco brand cover.

IMG_20130407_111615 IMG_20130408_163300

Interior Almost Done!

The interior is coming together quickly !The window columns, rear sail panels and headliner and trim are now installed and look great! I also got the rear seat belts, seats and the inner front belts installed.

The headliner was the biggest challenge installing, though not technically difficult, you do need 2 people to install it. Luckily my wife had some free time to help me hold it in place while I got the trim pieces installed.

IMG_20130402_200839 IMG_20130411_184550 IMG_20130408_170117 IMG_20130408_170122 IMG_20130408_170134 IMG_20130408_170140

Dash Gauges, Switches and Wiring

The dash installed quite smoothly. Unfortunately, installing the gauges was not so easy. There is absolutely no room when working under the dash, pretty much each gauge, cluster and switch needs to be installed in a particular order, otherwise you’ll make things harder for yourself, screws become harder to access, etc…  The only wire harnesses not hooked up at this point plug into the steering column.


Center Console Gauges

The center console was to be installed promptly after installing the dashboard. When it came time to install the console, I found the 4-AN to 1/8 NPT threaded adapter I got for my oil pressure gauge did not match the thread output on the AutoMeter gauge itself. After doing some research, I found that the AutoMeter “AutoGage” gauges are budget gauges, designed to compete with the low end gauges like SunPro’s or Harbor Freight’s gauges. The connectors exclusively use pressure fittings, which cannot be converted to NPT (pipe fittings). The process lead me to purchase another set of oil pressure and water temperature gauges.

I already decided I wanted black gauges with white lettering and white needles, with black bezels. This combination would match the factory gauges perfectly. Unfortunately, most brands use either chrome bezels and/or needles with red pointers. After doing a lot of research, I discovered a brand of gauges called ISSPro, which are very popular in the diesel / trucking industry. They are a perfect match to my gauges! Not only that, the fittings on the back of the gauge was the correct 1/8 NPT. They are now on order ad should arrive in early May.

IMG_20130422_205618 (AutoMeter AutoGage gauges)

Painted Hinges and Air Cleaner Base

When the weather broke 60 degrees, I took the opportunity to paint the parts I had sand blasted over the winter. The hood hinges I painted with Dupli-Color etching primer topped with Dupli-Color cast iron coat engine enamel. The air cleaner got Rustoleum clean metal primer followed by Rustoleum Semi-Gloss black.

IMG_20130408_170445 IMG_20130412_172509

Transmission Ready To Go

I took my transmission, a TH-350 that came with the Pontiac 400 I bought 3 years ago, to a buddy of mine to clean it up, install new seals, filter and a TransGo shift kit. I went with the stage 2 of the stage 1-2 shift kit. Tim went above and beyond cleaning the transmission, it looks brand new! When the motor is done, I will bolt this onto the motor right before installing into the car. The shift kit should work great with the built-in ratcheting shifter in the Trans Am. Not too many folks know about the ratcheting feature, it’s not as fancy as an aftermarket ratcheting shifter, but it’s factory and works quite well.

What’s Next

In May, the plan is to finish installing the interior and assemble the motor. Hopefully over Memorial day weekend I can get the motor with transmission mounted in the car, leaving June for wiring up the engine, installing the remaining hoses and lines to plan on Father’s day to test run the motor!

Project Trans Am for February 2013 – Intermediate Shaft, Floor Shifter and Dashboard

February was one very busy month, the amount of time I got in the garage shows. Sorry only one picture this month.

Intermediate Shaft Painted

On the second week of February we had one of those 49 degree winter days, so I used the opportunity to paint the intermediate shaft. It came out excellent. I used Dupli-Color etching primer followed by Dupli-Color engine enamel cast gray. It looks pretty darn close to the natural metal finish.

Floor Shifter Installed

While I finish installing the insulation on the floors, I went ahead and installed the floor shifter. I also painted the top plate, which I will install when it comes time to install the center console.

Shift Lever

Dashboard Preparation

I started preparing the dashboard for reinstalling into the car. While test fitting the dash cap I got last summer, I noticed I had a gap fitment problem. I then took the spare dash I have in the crawl space and tested the cap on that dash, and it had the same problem. I called the dash cap company and within3 days they got back to me and said they would send me a replacement cap in the coming week.

While I got the dash out and apart, I also fixed the grab handle mounting so the handle is nice and tight. I used some scrap pieces of plastic I had for other projects to reinforce the backing of the grab handle mounting tabs.

I’m currently taking measurements of the space above the glove box to see if that would be a good spot to mount my 4 port fuse box that I plan on using for both the radio constant power and power windows. This 4 blade fuse terminal will be wired directly to the battery/alternator, providing plenty of power for the windows and stereo. If my plan works, the fuses will be mounted above the glove box, so only someone who knows to look would know the fuses are there.

What’s Next

Believe it or not, I have 6 more spots I want to put small patches of insulation on the floor. Once that’s done I will be installing the carpet, kick panels dash, gauges, center console, steering column and front seats. I expect to have all of this done in March leaving April for working on the engine and transmission.

Project Trans Am – Month 30, Interior and Wiring

The project progress has slowed in the second half of October, but I’ve still made a lot of progress with the interior and wiring.

New Windshield

I had the new windshield installed and man it looks good! Guardian Auto Glass of Columbus did a great job!


The first weekend I had the windshield out, I went ahead and painted the dash cowl area. I took my time and it came out awesome!

Wile the weather was still in the 70’s I decided to put some of the other to-do tasks on hold and focus on painting as much as I could.  I went ahead and covered all of my interior parts with SEM Color Coat Landau Black topped with SEM Low Luster Clear. The process of prepping and painting the interior parts was easier than I originally planned, and I way over estimated on the amount of paint I needed as well. To paint everything, including the dashboard, all the interior panels, center console, metal portion of the dash, all metal trim parts, and t-top trim parts used5 cans of Landau Black and 2 cans of Low Luster Clear. I still have an almost full can of Low Luster Clear and Landau black if I need to do any touch ups. The extra cans I returned to Summit Racing, where I repurchased all the SEM supplies.  The only  things I did not paint were the steering column (already painted this past spring), carpet, seats, headliner and door panels.

Once the inside of the car is ready, I’ll be installing sound deadened, insulation, carpet and the interior. I’ll most likely install everything in phases, with the first phase including the dashboard and all the necessary gauges and steering column that way I can move forward in installing the drive train.

I also painted the wheel wells. They already had a coat of an epoxy primer from the shop I had them sand blasted at so I only needed to worry about top coating. I put 2 coats of satin black on the engine side to match my firewall and the wheel side I put a coat of Dupli-Color undercoating. They look good and are ready to go!


I spent a good few hours going through under dash wiring to investigate where some of the cut wires went to. After following every single wire, I discovered that the cut wires all went to the rear window defrost wire harnesses. There are 3 harnesses that went to the rear defrost, 2 of which were hacked up by a previous owner. The car never came with rear defrost, it appears a previous owner decided they would use some of these wires for other uses. Why they didn’t mark them with tape and a marker is beyond me! But the good news is that I don’t need these wires so the plan is to simply shrink wrap the ends and then tape them up so they don’t short out on anything.

I also had to figure out the choke light wiring. For what ever reason the owner wired the choke light to other wires, most likely so the light would only light up when the car wasn’t running. Weird hack, I’m definitely going to restore this the way it is supposed to be wired since I plan on running an electric choke with the new motor.

I did not fix these wires pictured yet, but I will once the inside of the car is painted and ready for the interior.

I did wire in the new power window wire harness with the 4 relay setup posted on 78ta.com forums. I didn’t test it in the car yet, I’ll get to test once I get the center console installed. I did test it with a volt meter and a battery, so I know all my soldering is solid. I did make a couple modifications to the original 4 wire relay design and posted my version on the 78ta.com forum thread.

4 relay power windows in 1981 Firebird

Linkage and Steering Box

I got the shift linkage and steering box cleaned. It took a bit of time to get the steering box clean, it was really covered in a lot of grime. I decided not to paint it as it has a nice finish still on it. The linkage for the drive selector only needed a good cleaning, it looks brand new now. The steering column parking/neutral locking linkage has been cleaned and is ready to paint. As soon as the weather gets back to 60+ I’ll put a coat of paint on it and it’ll be ready.

Ordered Speakers

I did my final research on speakers and decided to get a pair of 6×9 Rockford Fostgate R1693 full range speakers for the rear and a pair of 3.5″ Polk Audio DB351 full range speakers for the front. I’m pairing these speakers to my old AIWA 52 Watt x 4 CD/mp3 receiver with aux input jack. For a 70’s muscle car, it should have a pretty good sound system. I also got a pair of DEA speaker baffles for the rear, they should help sound but more importantly protect the speakers in the trunk area.

What’s Next

Main focus now is the inside floors. I found some rust in spots on the floor boards, so I’m currently in the process of scraping all the protective asphalt stuff the factory painted on the floors to uncover any unknown rust. So far most of the rust is only surface rust, I hope that either Navel Jelly or a quick hit with a rust removing 3m disc will solve those spots. Once all the rust is removed, I’ll paint and then start installing the interior and remaining firewall items.

Since I can now see the end is near, I’m going to start finishing the assembly of the motor! Hopefully mid-December I will have a good weekend available to install the motor in the car and by Christmas start the motor!

Project Trans Am – Month 29, Brakes and AC Delete

This was a big month for the Trans Am!


They’re done, but not without a fight!

At the last minute I deviated away from my original plan of running Metallic brake pads all around after reading in the service manual as well as on the popular Firebird, Trans Am and Camaro forums that the rear should have organic pads installed. What sold me on the switch was a comment that the car stops easier and the emergency brake holds better with organic pads.

I had a hard time rotating the caliper piston to align a D shaped key way for the brake pad to rest in. After struggling with the problem for a few days and researching that GM had their mechanics use a special spanner pin wrench, I decided to make my own wrench out of 1″ L stock steel and 2 button head screws. It worked like a charm.

I then had a problem with the passenger side caliper being incorrect. I found after I had it installed on the car that the emergency brake ratcheting system was reversed, it was setup for a drivers side not passenger side. This pretty much wasted a good day running around town looking for another caliper.

Once I had the calipers installed, I ran into another snag with the front emergency brake cable that runs to the emergency brake pedal. Out of desperation I promptly went to NAPA only to find their cable had the same thread issue. The mechanic at NAPA measured the thread pitch and diameter and discovered it was M14-1.25. I then went back home and searched Google where I quickly found this was a problem with almost all the popular brand brake cables. Makes you think maybe these parts are all made in the same place. I ended up going to The Right Stuff Detailing here in Westerville Ohio to get the cable, which looks more like the original cable that came off the car than the aftermarket cables everyone else sells. This is the third time The Right Stuff bailed me out due to parts I otherwise would have to order online, I’m very glad they’re located here in Columbus. The front brake cable provided by The Right Stuff came with a correctly threaded 9/16″ nut and installed in less than 15 minutes.

My car is currently using the original rusty brake cable for now, I will switch back to the Right Stuff cable once I am ready to installing the interior.

Once I got the emergency cables all connected, adjusting the emergency brake was actually quite easy. I used zip ties at the rear calipers to hold the emergency brake levers in lock position, then attached the cables. I then did the brake lever in the car a few times adjusting the nut on the front brake cable until it was where I wanted it. Then I cut the zip ties at the calipers for final testing and adjustment. Without the zip ties, it would have been hard to connect the front cable with the rear cables.

Bleeding brakes went smoothly, It took me about 3 hours to do, including a run to the store to get another bottle of brake fluid. Bench bleeding the master cylinder was a real pain. It seemed like I was finally bubble free, then another little bubble would appear out of no where. I initially gravity bled the system till there was fluid at each caliper. Then I switched the bleeders with Russell speed bleeders and used their bleeder bag system to finish bleeding the brakes. I did have 2 leaks at two connections, I was running aroudn re-tightening brake lines, but that was expected. I did not want to over-tighten and possibly damage the lines. Speed bleeders are definitely the easiest way to go about bleeding brakes.

The car has been on jack stands since December, so it’s nice to see the car rolling again!


AC Delete

I have a love/hate relationship with the AC Delete cover I got. I was chatting on the Trans Am forums about the 2 popular AC delete covers and half way through working on mine I came to the conclusion that perhaps the other style that’s made of plastic may be better than the fiberglass one that I got. There are benefits to both, regardless I always wish I have the “best” solution for the situation. I’m still not sure what’s the best AC Delete, they each have a particular purpose depending on what the car builder wants to deal with.

Since I have a fiberglass AC delete, I decided I will paint the unfinished side that way there are no fiberglass fibers possibly getting into the car’s ventilation. Other than some of the dimpled holes not quite lining up, it fit pretty well. If I had to do it all over again, I’d try the other plastic AC delete.

Just need to put a coat of Krylon Fusion satin black on it, and install.

Front Windshield Out

I had the glass guy come over yesterday to remove the front windshield. Over the next week the plan is to paint the metal dash portion black and get the firewall buttoned up, then schedule for the glass installation a week or so later.

Plan is to paint all the interior parts with SEM Color Coat landau black topped with SEM low luster clear where parts will see physical wear and/or sun.

What’s Next

Paint! The cold weather will be coming fast, so the plan is to paint all the remaining parts while I still can.  Aside from the metal portion of the dashboard, I want to paint the steering box, inner fenders, front speaker mounts, various interior trim pieces and some spots on the floor boards.

On top of painting, I also need to fix the wiring for the dashboard. There are 5 wires that are cut that appear to go no where, I will need to get them resolved before I can install interior.

Hopefully this October I will have the gas tank, steering column, steering box, linkage, front sway-bar, dashboard and necessary interior installed. If I am lucky I may finally get the V8 assembled and in the car this October, but it is starting to look like November.