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Does this qualify me for Back Yard Mechanic status? by David Hambleton
Started on: 11-16-2013 09:27 PM
Replies: 15 (556 views)
Last post by: David Hambleton on 11-18-2013 08:49 PM
David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-16-2013 09:27 PM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
With all due respect to the epic accomplishments of the mechanical geniuses & talented wizards frequently posting on PFF, this is a tale of mediocre accomplishment in comparison. Nonetheless it is a milestone achievement for a sometime mechanical 'dabbler' who perhaps can now add the letters BYM after his signature (Back Yard Mechanic). This story may resonate with the more typical 'normally' talented PFF readers who will likely never make the hallowed halls of The Construction Zone...

The story begins in Sep 1983 with an order for a Fiero SE 4 speed which amazingly took until May 1984 to be delivered. That '84 is still a daily driver except in wet salty conditions with over 363,000 kilometers (225,000 miles) behind it.

Fearing a catastrophic event might befall the '84 & take it out of service for a prolonged period (or perhaps even replacement), I decided I needed a 'spare'. Early in 2008 I started to look for a 2.5L 5 speed (which I always wished the '84 was rather than the 4 speed) that needed some rehabilitation. That search ended in 'failure' as I found a showroom condition '88 Formula with 5,200 kilometers on it that had only ever had the battery replaced. Wow! Who wouldn't want a 'new' Fiero? So, that became Fiero #2, and distracted me from my search for a while, but I still 'needed' a daily driver 'spare'. Something to 'rescue' from certain dismemberment...

Early in 2011, I found just what I was looking for. An '86 2.5L 5 speed coupe in very good structural condition with an obvious need for lots of TLC. It was less than an hour away, & I drove it home with only one stop to let the smoke dissipate....

Lots of interior & exterior issues were fixed/replaced/cleaned etc. but the occasional steam cloud turned out to be caused by a broken head bolt. The same headbolt had broken on the '84. You'd think GM would have installed something stronger by '86???
500 kilometers after the headbolt replacement, it started sounding like a diesel, & the oil pressure dropped. Lucas Oil to the rescue - 50% mix for the next 1.5 years actually. RPMs over 3000 with no load on the engine still produced a 'death rattle'. Rebuild or replace? I found an '87 parts car with an excellent running engine about 6.5 hours away that was delivered to me for $500. By the time I took the engine out & the remainder was sold to another project guy, I'd used and/or sold parts worth more than the $500 cost. The resulting 'free' engine was a big savings over having the other rebuilt, that's for sure. 12,000 kilometers on Lucas Oil life support was coming to an end.

Next up, out with the old, in with the ... well ... almost as old! I was anticipating the usual aggravation with the 4 cradle bolts, but only the passenger side forward bolt was reluctant to come out. I was determined to break the will of the rust without resorting to torches or saws, so several hours were spent with various pressure and vibration methods before the rust yielded to a 400 ft/lb air wrench.

I have overhead steel beams in the basement of my barn from when I rebuilt it, so hoisting is easy. Hoist up the car, roll out the drivetrain, take the '86 engine off, put the '87 engine on, roll it back under the car, lower the car, fasten everything together again, hook up all the plumbing & wiring, put all the other parts back on, start the engine & drive away. How did that take a month???

There are several changes from the '86 2.5L to the '87 2.5L: fuel delivery is on the opposite side of the throttle body injection system; the air intake system is a different configuration; the distributor style ignition system is replaced with a direct ignition system; vacuum & heater hose connections are altered, the '87 ECM has a different mounting bracket (wish I'd realized that & kept the '87 bracket!). Mostly, though it's a plug & play swap.

I recruited a helper for bleeding the clutch slave & replacing the deck lid otherwise, it was a one man show.

Now I'm wondering - after 30 years, should I put the '87 5 speed transmission into the '84 or leave it 'original'...

...to be continued... (maybe).
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Patrick
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Report this Post11-16-2013 11:05 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:

It was less than an hour away, & I drove it home with only one stop to let the smoke dissipate....


...

 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:

Now I'm wondering - after 30 years, should I put the '87 5 speed transmission into the '84 or leave it 'original'...


It might depend on which 4-spd you have in there, but swapping an Isuzu 5-spd into my '84 was the best thing I ever did for that car.
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David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-16-2013 11:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

It might depend on which 4-spd you have in there, but swapping an Isuzu 5-spd into my '84 was the best thing I ever did for that car.


It's the 'performance' (hahaha!) '84 SE trans, so it's wound up pretty high by 120kph.

Any issues with the swap process? I guess you just need the shifter assembly & cables...

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Report this Post11-16-2013 11:53 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PatrickClick Here to Email PatrickSend a Private Message to PatrickEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:

It's the 'performance' (hahaha!) '84 SE trans, so it's wound up pretty high by 120kph.


Yank that sucker out of there! You'll just love the Isuzu 5th gear overdrive on the highway.

 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:

I guess you just need the shifter assembly & cables...


...and throwout bearing and slave cylinder.
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Report this Post11-17-2013 12:55 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RWDPLZClick Here to visit RWDPLZ's HomePageSend a Private Message to RWDPLZEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
"Buy a Fiero, become a mechanic"
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David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-17-2013 09:18 AM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Patrick:

Yank that sucker out of there! You'll just love the Isuzu 5th gear overdrive on the highway.

...and throwout bearing and slave cylinder.


Yeah, the '86 with the 5 speed has lots left at highway speeds. I would have preferred to order the SE with the economy transaxle for a lower final ratio but it wasn't an option...

The donor car clutch system wasn't functional so I didn't keep the slave cylinder but the throwout bearing, fork & lever are still on the tranny.
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Report this Post11-17-2013 09:28 AM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by RWDPLZ:

"Buy a Fiero, become a mechanic"


I wish I had your A/C skills! I miss the A/C in July & August. I suspect the original compressor on the '84 SE needs replacing; when I checked there's just a little pressure so I think it's still a 'sealed' system but there's just not enough pressure to function. I've seen units from under $200 to over $600... On some threads, guys talk about rebuilds only lasting a couple of years - don't want that! Hmmm... what to do???
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Report this Post11-17-2013 10:42 AM Click Here to See the Profile for RWDPLZClick Here to visit RWDPLZ's HomePageSend a Private Message to RWDPLZEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Go with a reputable brand rebuilt unit, or a new unit. I've been impressed with Four Seasons parts. I still think taking the exhaust manifold out is the easiest way to replace it on an 84. There's just no room under the car, and it is wedged up in there real tight. As in other threads, take out the orifice tube to get an idea of what the system is like currently.
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Report this Post11-17-2013 08:32 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:


Yeah, the '86 with the 5 speed has lots left at highway speeds. I would have preferred to order the SE with the economy transaxle for a lower final ratio but it wasn't an option...

The donor car clutch system wasn't functional so I didn't keep the slave cylinder but the throwout bearing, fork & lever are still on the tranny.


Patrick and I discussed this on another thread. We both agreed that the 5 speed (Isuzu) is a much better transmission than the "performance" 4 speed used on the 84. It has the 4:10 gears in it that force you to wind it up to the red line to get up to the astounding speed of 10 miles an hour in first gear before you have to shift. Somehow in the minds of 80s engineers that equates to performance. The "performance" 4 speed was a one-off for 84. The 85 and up used different gears and had a much stronger case.
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David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-17-2013 09:21 PM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by RWDPLZ:

Go with a reputable brand rebuilt unit, or a new unit. I've been impressed with Four Seasons parts. I still think taking the exhaust manifold out is the easiest way to replace it on an 84. There's just no room under the car, and it is wedged up in there real tight. As in other threads, take out the orifice tube to get an idea of what the system is like currently.


My '84 has a much smaller aftermarket catalytic converter, so accessibility is better. I might drop the drivetrain & cradle to check the clutch - it's original with 363,000 kilometers on it - can't be much left eh? The exhaust manifold welds are cracked too, so the '86 manifold could replace it. That would be a good time to tackle the compressor.

Availability & pricing of most Fiero parts in Canada are not usually very attractive. I'm 30 minutes from Niagara Falls NY, so I've used Advance Auto a couple of times but it's a bit of a hassle. Where do you get your A/C parts?

I found 4 Seasons brand at Rock Auto ranging from $78 to $240; and one at http://canada.autopartswarehouse.com/ for $234 ($291 with shipping & core).
AC Delco from Rock Auto are $270 to $523. Autozone has Compressor Works & Everco from $171 to $230

So many choices & prices!!! What would RWDPLZ do???
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pontiackid86
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Report this Post11-18-2013 10:56 AM Click Here to See the Profile for pontiackid86Click Here to Email pontiackid86Send a Private Message to pontiackid86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
meh, if the 84 runs and drives leave it how it is, thas the beauty of high mileage cars and their original owner, its kind of like a perfect marriage.
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David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-18-2013 01:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
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Originally posted by pontiackid86:

meh, if the 84 runs and drives leave it how it is, thas the beauty of high mileage cars and their original owner, its kind of like a perfect marriage mirage.


Fixed that for ya! (Kidding!) I'm not sure which I enjoy more; my '84 SE I've driven since new for 363,000 kilometers or my '88 Formula that the original owner basically stored for 20 years that had 5,200 kilometers on it when I got it from him in 2008... hmmmm... My '86 2.5L has the 5 speed manual so I can enjoy that too... a perfect threesome???

[This message has been edited by David Hambleton (edited 11-18-2013).]

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Report this Post11-18-2013 01:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for pontiackid86Click Here to Email pontiackid86Send a Private Message to pontiackid86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Id pick the formula... the 4 bangers in a fiero just don't do it for me.. and the perfect 3 sum... I have that... 2 curvy girls (the 2 IMSA's) and a wana-b Italian(mera)
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Report this Post11-18-2013 06:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RWDPLZClick Here to visit RWDPLZ's HomePageSend a Private Message to RWDPLZEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:


My '84 has a much smaller aftermarket catalytic converter, so accessibility is better. I might drop the drivetrain & cradle to check the clutch - it's original with 363,000 kilometers on it - can't be much left eh? The exhaust manifold welds are cracked too, so the '86 manifold could replace it. That would be a good time to tackle the compressor.

Availability & pricing of most Fiero parts in Canada are not usually very attractive. I'm 30 minutes from Niagara Falls NY, so I've used Advance Auto a couple of times but it's a bit of a hassle. Where do you get your A/C parts?

I found 4 Seasons brand at Rock Auto ranging from $78 to $240; and one at http://canada.autopartswarehouse.com/ for $234 ($291 with shipping & core).
AC Delco from Rock Auto are $270 to $523. Autozone has Compressor Works & Everco from $171 to $230

So many choices & prices!!! What would RWDPLZ do???


I get most of my parts from Rock Auto, and ebay for the tools. Both have the best prices. You can get a nice Yellow Jacket or Snap-On gauge set during the winter for a lot cheaper than the middle of summer.

For the compressor, I actually used a couple rebuild kits for the main body seals and shaft seal, and a used HR6 compressor from a low mileage Buick in the junkyard, where the system was still sealed (but had been evacuated). Checked the orifice tube for black death and debris, and found a good one. I don't recommend this though, requires buying a few speciality tools, and may not work if the compressor isn't in good shape internally. Worked great for a day, ice freakin' cold, until the refrigerant leaked out the cracked hard line under the car. Was going to fix it this summer, but never had the time with the new job.

It's the same compressor seen halfway through this thread

http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/124630.html

Fixing the AC can be a fun, rewarding project

Compressor switches:

http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/117640.html

O-rings:

http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum2/HTML/128562.html
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Report this Post11-18-2013 06:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RWDPLZClick Here to visit RWDPLZ's HomePageSend a Private Message to RWDPLZEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by David Hambleton:

I found 4 Seasons brand at Rock Auto ranging from $78 to $240; and one at http://canada.autopartswarehouse.com/ for $234 ($291 with shipping & core).
AC Delco from Rock Auto are $270 to $523. Autozone has Compressor Works & Everco from $171 to $230


I'd get the Four Seasons part # 58251 from Rock Auto. It's a new compressor for the price of the reman'ed AC Delco.

Also: 5.7 or 4.9" pulley doesn't matter, as long as you use the corresponding belt size. In this case they're both the same price, but you might be able to find one cheaper somewhere if they have one but not the other. My car came with a 5.7" pulley on the DA6.
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David Hambleton
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Report this Post11-18-2013 08:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for David HambletonClick Here to Email David HambletonSend a Private Message to David HambletonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Thanks for the info! I'll be pondering for a while... I thought about the swap for a year & a half before I finally did it. For a couple of reasons actually - one to see if the Lucas Oil additive would prevent a major breakdown (it did), and two, to get some value for the head bolt replacement cost!
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