Trinten's SBC/F23 build - The work has begun! (Page 68/69)
Trinten NOV 12, 11:58 PM
The joys of fall weather.

As we are currently out of reasonable ideas to address the transmission or test out anything else to fix it at the moment, we've been working at the list of remaining stuff that was needed to be done. I've also started including some of the "not necessary" stuff to give Mike options for what he wants to work on when I go over there (which is a little less frequent right now).

This Saturday he finished making the new harness for the twin 60mm headlight setup I bought from Danyel. I had bought Danyel's harness when I got everything else, but with all the changes Mike made up front, his harness wasn't going to route correctly anymore. Also Mike didn't like that the relays weren't weatherproof style ones, even if they were in a place that shouldn't get much water.

So I ordered all the various connectors, and some more wire (larger gauge than the hundreds of feet I bought for all the control stuff), and an inline fuse setup. So Mike wired all that up, and the headlights now not only go up and down, but turn on and off. It's the small wins.

On that topic, I'll be putting the harness I got from Danyel up for sale in the mall!

I have the dreaded "key-on, single-swipe-wiper 'feature'". I know there is the Rodney capacitor fix out there, I read someplace else it was a good fix but not an ideal one. I also read on the MANY threads here that the causes could be either from the wiper control board, or the wiper switch in the column (not the actual control stalk... which I have a NOS one of those that will go in at some point).

So I hunted down the wiper control board, which came with the plastic cover... which was bigger than the OEM one. The old plastic cover literally fits inside it. See the pic after this paragraph. So I used the old cover. The problem is still there. So I'll be getting the wiper switch from the Fiero Store. I have pretty much everything to do a total column rebuild, new wiper stalk, new ignition... module... thing... (damn I'm technical). New lock cylinder (an ear is broken off on mine), and soon to have wiper switch. That'll be a future endeavor.

I also need to find all the parts to use my horn. In addition to the little spring that fits in the hole, I think I'm missing other parts. If anyone can let me know what other pieces go under the horn button -- and if you have any for sale!! -- I would appreciate it.

When the weather cooperated, we pulled out my steering rack that was leaking. Thankfully it did not require dropping the front cradle or any tubes/lines besides the ones going to the power steering pump. We discovered one of the boots on the new tie-rod end on the old rack had already broken through (it was a Moog part), so this was two-fixes-in-one. The new rack slid in without much issue. I filled the EHPS pump and tested the system; power steering is back and working with no leaks.

Downside is the OEM fuse for this pump was 50amps. The auxiliary fuse box I'm using is rated for a max of 100amps at any given time. So Mike doesn't want to put a 50A fuse on it (we were running it with a 30A before, and it popped when fluid got low from the leak). I might ask Mike if he wants to switch that to an inline dedicated fuse, but I know he won't want to because that'll make the front more cluttered, and he's trying to keep things orderly.

Other "while we figure out our next step with the transmission" items include:

1. Getting the keyless entry wired in (which I've had forever).

2. I found the LED 3rd brake light panel, so I need to get that wired in. The ends of the wire weren't terminated, so I need to figure out what kind of plug to buy for that, so we can fit into the OEM Fiero Connector. If anyone can point me to an unterminated connector kit for this, again it would be appreciated!

3. Finish routing the intercooler water hose and figuring out where to mount the intercooler pump. I suspect that, short of rebuilding the intercooler tank to be smaller so we can use that space, I'm going to have to get a smaller pump. We were going to repurpose the EWC pump from Moroso that I had on my last Fiero.

4. Wire clean-up in the cabin

5. Fishing up the power mirror connector so I can hook up my power mirrors in the meantime (I think this one is going to be a pain).

6. Hunt over the car for anymore rubber stoppers/bumpers I can replace. I got the ones in the door area done. I spotted a few missing where the headlight covers go (they are currently removed). Most of the others are there.

7. Install the LED 'underlip' lighting in the trunk. The current intercooler air tube covers the old Fiero trunk light, so I got flexible LED ribbon that I'm going to mount under the lip/edge of the trunk, right near/under the seal, running it all around the trunk, and wire it up.

I'm sure there's a bunch more I can't think of right now. Unrelated, I wish I enjoyed driving a stick. I could have had my car on the road already, and I wouldn't be so envious of FieroGuru.

kennn JAN 13, 07:57 PM
Hey Trinten, I've been following your build from your engagement with Fieroguru and now Mike. I have stalled on my own Fiero project somewhat and was curious whether you started a whole new harness with your LS project or if you have modified the harness that Guru had done. If you and Mike fashioned a new harness I am interested in purchasing your Guru harness. It would be perfect for my project, 350 sbc mated to F40 six speed with TPI induction. Please let me know. Thanks.

'88 Formula V6
'88 GT TPI V8

Trinten JAN 13, 08:54 PM
Hey Kennn,

Thanks for following!

Mike made a new harness for this setup. The harness that FieroGuru made for me was sold with the engine, PCM and F23. I saw the person who bought my setup had put it up for sale in the mall some months ago, I guess life got in the way and he realized he wasn't going to get around to doing the swap on his Fiero.

If you're looking for a "drop in swap", it doesn't get much closer than that. Some mods to the cradle for mounts, a little clearancing in the engine bay, and it'd be ready to go. Fieroguru's harness did also use a relocated C500 connector, so there's that too. But if you didn't mind doing some splicing, you could keep the original location.

If the guy selling it is willing to part it out, he might be willing to break up the set if you don't need the whole setup!

While I"m here, I haven't posted much because we really haven't done anything recently. We dropped off one of the transmissions at a shop for them to tear into and see if they can find a problem. He suggested that we unhook the pressure control solenoid wire from the harness but leave the rest connected so we could log the transmission in that situation still, try to get some other ideas of what's going on with it. We haven't gotten to that yet because of scheduling issues.

In the meantime while we're waiting to do that and hopefully hear back good news from the transmission guy, I got everything together to do a steering column rebuild/refresh, so we'll probably tackle that, and we're picking at cleaning up/finishing up some wiring.

Mike had me get an in-line fuse holder for something... and I sadly got the wrong style, so it'll be one more type of fuse I need to keep in the car (it's the ones that are smaller than the standard in-cabin fuse box fuses). I didn't check this till after Mike soldered the darn thing in place...
Trinten FEB 05, 08:44 PM
Update on my stuff and Mike's Fiero, since there's not much with mine right now.

Dropped off the Triple Edge Performance transmission at a shop back on December 9th. The guy is a former GM transmission tech and now has his own shop. He was up front that he was pretty backed up and it would be a while before he could get to it.

When I told him what was going on, he thought it was pretty strange, especially how the transmission would still act up in limp home mode. One of the things that came up was "are you sure nothing is wrong with the torque converter?"

... no. Didn't even think of that. Afterall, it was put together by Precision Torque Converters... though it is a hybrid, their 4T65E billet case with 4T80E guts... so... maybe?

I talked to the shop on Friday, he hadn't gotten to my transmission yet but said he should have it done by March. We're still hopeful he goes "found the issue!" If he doesn't, then we'll send the torque converter back to Precision for them to go over. Depending on timing, we'll either wait to hear back from Precision or we'll put a stock converter in there.

Onto Mike's stuff!

So at the 40th, he was hearing some odd whining. Unfortunately I told him it sounded "something like that" when I had the F23 in my car (though that was a 5+ year old memory). Not long after he got back, the whining got worse, and the transmission pretty much locked up.

The issue? Bearings on one of the synchros went completely bye-bye, and cracked through the bell housing.

This past weekend we finally took the transmission apart. After pulling the synchros out, here's what was left.

That's right. Just the chewed up bearings. The racer is GONE. Crazy.

There was also some chipped teeth on the input shaft:

And there was some nicked teeth on the third synchro:

It's tougher to see after I resized the picture. It's right about the middle of the teeth.

The HTOB was also completely trashed, I don't have a pic of that.

So while Mike was hunting for another F23, he had put in a Getrag 5 speed. About a month ago, that went BOOM.

So he parked his Fiero and lamented just how weak the getrags were, and tracked down another F23. It was out of the same year/make as mine was, and he was eager to put it back together...

So he put it in with the new HTOB and the spacer from his last HTOB, and the clutch and pressure plate (which were sporting some scars from material getting in there when the bell housing tossed some metal).

He was in his IDGAF mood, so just threw it all together. We started it up Saturday, transmission was in gear, and the car tried to lurch forward. So he puts it in neutral, and with the clutch engaged, we hear a 'chattering'. He presses down the clutch, noise goes away, but it *appears* the clutch isn't disengaging.

A quick email to FieroGuru and he pointed out that with the HTOB, it can extend far enough to disengage, then wrongly re-engage in over-travel by pressing directly on the pressure plate fingers and push them into the clutch disk (thank you, FieroGuru!!). So we'll definitely need to do measurements.

So at some point we're going to drop Mike's engine cradle again and we'll do some measurements. He wants to move the LSD from his last F23 into this unit anyway, so we might do that, or if we find other issues in this F23, hopefully we'll have the right 'good parts' between the two to put a single good transmission together.

I'll have to print up all of the stuff from Emc209i when he did my F23 swap, I don't recall if anything in the bell housing had to be ground down for clearance for the clutch/PP. We did see what looked like some grinding spots, and it's too precise to have been damage from when the transmission faltered. Also need to see if he noted all the steps on how to properly measure everything. Mike probably knows but I don't.

[This message has been edited by Trinten (edited 02-05-2024).]

Trinten MAR 10, 06:58 PM
The Fiero moved under it's own power today -- enough that we were doing tuning on the engine and transmission!

I talked to the transmission shop last Friday. He apologized that he hadn't gotten to the transmission yet, but said "walk me through it again." and I did, and asked him if it could still be the torque converter. He said "No, if you have pressure when it's dead cold, then that rules out the TC in this setup. Did you get a chance to do that test driving it with the pressure control solenoid wire disconnected?"

I admitted we had not. So Mike and I did that today. The pressure was good on start up, so we first drove it around the neighborhood... all was working. So we go down the road. All is working. I'm watching the TCU command changes and the transmission is executing them. The converter locked up at a speed Mike wasn't happy with, so when we got back, he did some tuning on the transmissions shift points and when the converter would lock up, we drove it again, he was happier with it but wanted to do more with the converter settings. He wanted to get some tuning done on the engine now that that transmission is behaving.

So we drove around on the streets for a total of about 90 minutes while he did tuning. He found my car does not like to be anywhere near lean. At one point we had 14 pounds of boost going and the A/F ratio was around 13 and it was not happy. He's also leaning how to tune it in conjunction with the FueLabs smart FPR, which increases fuel pressure as it reads boost.

The nice part is, tuning it on 93 octane, the duty cycle of the injectors was maxing out around 22%, so I should have plenty of room for when we put in the E85 for the race tune.

So tomorrow I'm going to call the transmission shop and let him know what happened. Mike was wondering if we somehow wired up something wrong, but if that were the case, something else wouldn't have worked. As it is, with the Pressure Control solenoid going full-bore all the time, everything was working!

If it is a bad solenoid... it means I had One go bad within about 50 miles (Triple Edge performance original one), the OE replacement bad out of the box, and the one that came in this junkyard transmission is also bad. That seems like a big coincidence, but the car that this transmission was in was in the junkyard for a reason, and Caddy repairs on the transmission are all pretty nuts because most of them require dropping the cradle. So the caddy owner could have been like "it's going to be how much? Nope." and junked it.

Anyhow, back to the engine tuning. Still working on getting the hot and cold startups dialed in. It looks like we'll have to play with the set screw on the throttle. Sometimes it would die out sitting at a stoplight, which was nerve wracking. Down low power is great, turbo spools up pretty quick. The cruising drive-ability is all dialed in. So right now it's tuning for aggressive acceleration, and fixing lean conditions when we get north of 3900 RPM.

The exciting part is, this means that unless we get another curve ball.... I'll be able to drive my Fiero to Carlisle this year!!

fieroguru MAR 11, 05:36 PM
Vince, it is great to hear about some progress being made on the transmission issue!
Trinten MAR 11, 07:03 PM

I called up the shop today and told him the good news, then added “Explain it to me like I’m 5. Why did that work, but the transmission still wouldn’t even have pressure when we put it into limp home mode?” Here’s what he said:
“Well you were going into limp home after things started to warm up. That pressure control solenoid runs off of voltage reference. What can happen, though rare with GM, is the solenoid will start to stick, so it reduces pressure, but then can’t bump it back up. That’s why it would start to behave for a bit when everything cooled back off. And since you disconnected the wire, it was commanding full pressure the whole time, so it never had a chance to stick.”

He said driving it with that wire unhooked isn't likely to cause an issue, though he didn't want to recommend it. He did say he knew plenty of Cadillac owners that had the issue where the transmission would start to slip, so the computer would go to full-pressure to compensate and throw a code, and because of the repair costs, owners would just clear the code when they had to go in for inspections and drove it that way for years. lol

I asked him to go ahead and replace the control solenoid in the transmission he has. I called and gave the info to Mike. Mike then said "well now that we know we're going to be getting a good transmission back, we can really thrash on this one and see what it'll take!"

I told him I didn't want to do that until after Carlisle, because if the trans did fail, he would be hard-pressed to have the time to swap in the other transmission -- because we don't have the 'spare' back yet, and he's got two Grand Nationals he's trying to finish in time for the Grand National meet that takes place in May at Bowling Green. He then (reluctantly) admitted I was right. So dyno tuning will have to wait till after Carlisle, we're excited to see what happens though!

Mike isn't sure if he's going to have time to do the Sunbird instrument swap. Right now I have a beat up, half-broken instrument cluster in there, just so I can turn on headlights, pop the trunk, and see how much fuel I have left.
Mike has one of the small data-logger / display units for the Fast XFI. He's going to let me borrow that, we're going to clip it to the top of the instrument cluster shroud and set it to show me speed, engine temp, voltage and transmission temp.

Oh, and frustratingly, I have an inconsistent Phantom Wipe still after rebuilding the steering column. I haven't disconnected the wire from the stalk to see if the problem is there or with the Cardone wiper control board. That's on my list.
Trinten MAR 16, 09:17 PM
More miles and more tuning today!

All in, we probably got around 75 miles in today. It's tough to say... since my trip and odometer aren't hooked up yet. lol.

It's challenging to tune with the Fuelabs Prodigy fuel pump and adaptive Fuel pressure Regulator. We had some odd pockets, especially around idle, that we had to make a little rich because when we first stepped on the gas (lightly) to get rolling from a stop, the fuel pump wouldn't quite spin up fast enough, and the engine would lean out and die.

We also had some odd flat spots and stumbles. We aren't sure if it's from the tune... or from the fact that the fuel pump "kinda-died" on our last trip. What do I mean by that? Well, it still makes noise, but it's making a very strange noise, and the car won't start. Has plenty of fuel. We towed it back to Mike's and in a few weeks we'll check the pre-pump filter and post-pump filter, and then do a flow check with the pump by itself.

Fuelabs has a "lifetime warranty", and they shouldn't say my pump died from "wear and tear" (one of their exclusions), it has less than 150 miles on it! So if it is the pump, it'll be going back on an RMA.

In the meantime, here is a really short video of the car going down the street. We didn't do anything obnoxious, it is a residential area. Mike said he would find his go-pro and charge it for next time.
La fiera MAR 24, 12:22 PM
That sounds awesome Vince!
Trinten MAR 24, 08:29 PM

Good news, after doing some reading and talking to Fuelab, we've identified the likely problem. The tank Mike built is non-vented. The cap I picked up was... non-vented. Apparently these systems do not like being in a pressurized environment. We put a vented cap on there, and drove it around today for another couple of hours to do tuning. Only on rare occasions when we would come to a stop would I hear the pump get a little louder for a moment, then quiet back down. I'm guessing this was as the pump was slowing, pressure causing an issue, and it must be right around the tipping point of the gas caps venting spring.

When we stopped for gas, there was still a small hiss when I took the cap off, but nothing like last weekend. When my gas gauges reads at 1/8 a tank, I've still got about 5 gallons of fuel in the tank. I don't even plan on running it down to "E", but at least now I have an idea of where that is, and once I can start tracking mileage and figure out my MPG, I can do the math. In the meantime, I have a metal jerry-can that holds 5 gallons that will be going with me on long trips, just in case.

Mike charged his go-pro and recorded a variety of videos. The GoPro on the sunroof, driving over it, panning the engine, drive-bys, etc. He's going to put together a short montage video. I asked him if I could have the full videos so I could post up some of the others in their entirety if I really liked them.

The engine tune is now really solid for cruising and highway. Cold (and semi-warm) starts are still a little tough. This car will idle smoothly and stay running just fine at 950 RPM... after it's warm. Until then, it's picky and will fall on it's face if you're not giving it a good dose of throttle.

The transmission tune still needs a lot of work. Finding when 4th should come in, when the TC should lock up, etc. Right now there are still some pockets with 3rd where the RPM is too low and the car will shudder. So turning all of those shift points is going to take a lot more driving.

Here's our immediate checklist:
-Finish modifying the AC hoses (Again).
-Replace the orifice tube and pull vacuum on the AC system to make sure it holds.
-Put the intercooler reservoir back in (AC stuff needs to be first. The reservoir makes it impossible to get to).
-Get the water pump for the intercooler mounted and wired
-Route hoses for the intercooler.
-Clean up more of the wires under the hood, modifying the electronics mounting to hold the PCS TCU.
-Put in the Rodney Dickman door hinge pins (I hope I can find them...)
-Work on the TCU tune.
-Proper alignment (alignment in a bag got us close, but there's still some fine tuning to do)

Once that stuff is done, Mike wants me to start driving the car home and out there to work on (it's about 70 miles each way). If I'm going to drive this to Carlisle, it needs some dedicated highway time to make sure it's going to behave, and happen in circumstances where Mike can roll out with his trailer if something goes wrong. Three months is less time than most people think on something like this.

[This message has been edited by Trinten (edited 03-24-2024).]