Author Topic: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild  (Read 4792 times)

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Offline mulletmobile

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1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« on: February 25, 2011, 08:14:06 PM »
Ok, so I am finally getting around to this post.  I am the third owner, bought this car in 1990 as a father son project while in high school.  It has just under 65,000 on the odometer and it was a really solid car when I bought it.  It needed paint, but it had no rust in the body anywhere.  It was repainted that winter, but I never put the decals back on as I could not afford them.
It was a daily driver for the next 16 months and then went back to dad for storage while I was in college. 

Post college, I relocated from Nebraska to California (met my wife in college and said she was not going to spend one more damn winter in Nebraska, so I sacrificed and moved to SoCal!) and left the TA behind.  Dad always kept it garage, except for that one day it decided to hail on it  ???, but he tried to keep it running and it was always registered and insured. 

He died in 2004 and there was the car, still sitting in storage.  It had not run in several years and sat there a couple of more until I brought it out to California in about 2006.  Once again it sat in my garage collecting dust until I finally bit the bullet to try and get it running.  The first goal was to try and get it running, but I found that the t-stat housing and the water pump were leaking pretty bad at one point as well as the power steering pump.  The battery tray and rad support had rusted through (shocking I know) so I decided to pull those and replace, which meant one afternoon the front clip was disassembled with all nuts/bolts tagged and bagged.

After looking at the motor further, I was not willing to try and start it as it smelled pretty sludge filled and the decision was made to remove the motor for inspection.  It had never been removed/rebuilt but did have a fresh rebuilt turbo when I bought it.  What a good decision that was as the inside was completely sludged up from a lack of maintenance by the previous two owners.

That was Fall 2009.  The motor was taken in to the machine shop in/around December 2009 and bored .020 over with new Silvolite pistons.  The crank was turned .010, heads cleaned, valve job and then life interupted for a year, including moving.  (Had to hire a tow truck to haul the TA 12 blocks to new house because it was a bare sub-frame with no suspension on the front.)

About two weeks ago a buddy started on the FE 360 out of an inherited Ford F100 and challenged me to get off my arse and build my motor.  So we hauled them to a friends shop for final assembly.  After two weeks (one night each week) we finished our motors.  I will be hauling it home to rest while the subframe/control arms/rad support/bumper reinforcement and brackets are powdercoated next month.  I will be installing all new brake/fuel lines, new master cylinder and booster to begin final assembly.

Since this is not a frame off resto, but a homegrown hands on build on a limited budget, the majority of the work is being done by me and my friend.  I will strip the firewall and repaint as well as the immediate area of the subframe while that is out.  Once the motor is back in, I will begin working back taking out the rear end and detailing that area too.  I developed one rust spot behind the RR wheel spoiler, but it is only about
2 1/2".   I cleaned that up temporarily to prevent further creep of the crud.  It will be a while before it is finished, but it will be nice when it's done.  The interior is in really great shape and only needs a headliner.  I had that recovered in fabric in 1990 as the foam had let go on the original.  I will update as the progress is made.  See my following posts for what I have documented in photos so far.
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2011, 08:23:19 PM »
Here it is in the fall of 1990 (and yes that is my sister's Pinto in the background!).


Some pics of tearing it down.







Engine after disassembly.







And the motor as it sits in the shop right now (final assembly still needed, final paint to be done yet).

80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline CT Bird Fan

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2011, 08:36:23 PM »
I am very glad to see you tearing in and getting the car done, the turbo T/A's are my favorite!

The engine looks fantastic!! I am glad you are keeping the turbo motor, so many of these get removed.

What color is the car? It's hard for me to tell in the pics.

I can't wait to see what it looks like when you are done!
Gone but not forgotten - 1979 Formula, 1980 Esprit.

Being birdless sucks!

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2011, 08:49:31 PM »
I can't remember the name for sure, but I believe they called it Montreaux Maroon with Carmine interior IIRC.  It had dealer installed SE stripes and a set of gold Turbo wheels in place of the silver snow flakes the build sheet said it was built with.

The car was built in Nov 79 in Van Nuys and shipped to/sold new by Joe Coker Pontiac in Midwest City, OK. 

I have two build sheets (one from behind the rear seat and one I found on top of the gas tank when I removed it).  I think it shows how well it was taken care of to find the tank build sheet mostly intact.  It will go back to the way it was when I bought it from the second owner.  He knew the original owner and confirmed the purchase of it with the gold wheels and SE stripes at the dealer when it was new.
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2011, 08:52:13 PM »
I have to find the pics, but I have some real good ones from spring of 91 after it was repainted and it still has less than 65K miles on it right now.  I have the majority of the suspension bushings and pieces in the garage to put it back together.  It had a really bad rear main seal and PS pump leak that coated everthing under the hood.  I have a ways to go, but having a blast none the less. ;D
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline Tin Indians Rule

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2011, 12:31:10 AM »
Thats what i like to see too. Keeping the original engine. You know I had a 79 with a 301 and it wouldn't pull a greasy string out of a cats arse. But it never, ever let me down. I was 17 at the time too so you know I knew all about the neutral seconds, rolling backwards and dropping it into gear and flooring it to leave massive burnouts with those 275/50/15's. I ran that 301 so hot one time it sounded like glass breaking in the engine... we poured Coors in it and made it to our exit. Next day after a Thermostat, cap and antifreeze we were back cruising. That 301 is tough and I admire you for keeping it. LOOKS GOOD TOO
What's she wearing now? Come on!
1976 Black 455 4 speed (current project)
1976 White 400 Auto (original)
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Offline Frode_skj

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2011, 05:35:32 AM »
Really nice car you got :) The original color, I assume you'll keep that? I think it's a beautiful color :)
Good luck with the car :)
"79 Trans Am tenth Anniversary Edition"
"81 Turbo Trans Am"
Sad to see that people part out T\A's :( especially saveable ones

Offline 4speed76

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2011, 08:20:23 AM »
Looking good so far.
1976 T/A project
2009 Honda CRV
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Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2011, 12:50:40 PM »
Thanks for the input guys.  After watching many of you the last couple of years, I just had to get on with it and do as much as I can when I can.  As a true hobbyist, all of my birthday and Christmas presents are always money, gift cards etc to apply toward parts.  (Hmm maybe I am redneck as I have been told?)

It will all go back to original color.  I can't wait.  When I get back from coaching baseball today I will get more photos posted.
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2011, 02:40:21 PM »
I have finally uploaded the motor rebuild pics, so hope you enjoy.











And many thanks to Duane for his help and guidance.


80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline Yukon Jack

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 11:43:23 AM »
Will be a fun project to follow.  Could you do me a favor and take a close up of your heater blower motor?  I want to see exactly where the power connection is and where the ground strap is usually located?
1980 Pontiac Trans Am, 455 Oldsmobile
1970 Blazer with a 400 sbc and 4" lift
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Offline Dirtleg

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2011, 09:00:17 PM »
Nice work so far. Stay with it. That will be a nice car when you finish.
Greg

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2016, 11:35:05 AM »
Ok so I am digging up an old thread, but it is my build thread so I am having at it.  Life and kids have delayed, but never derailed this build (much to the wife's chagrin).

I decided I was going about this all wrong.  I started buying up parts bit by bit and now have almost everything I need in bins and labeled by what section they belong.  One of my big hang-ups was the subframe and suspension in the front.  It needed to be painted or coated somehow.  As luck would have it, my connection for powder coating retired before I could do it.  I was all set to have it blasted and then rattle can it until I went to the local welding shop to pick up a piece of 1/4" plate for my shop press (good story there, on craigslist for free and was hand built by an industrial welder for use on his projects.  Better built than anything I have seen in a store or catalog.  It has a 12 ton ram on it now but could easily handle a 20 ton!)  At any rate he gave me a card for a local guy who started a business a couple of years ago.  He had several adds on craigslist for his work also.  Looked like good work so I called him. He is cheaper.  He will pick up, blast it, coat it and deliver it all cheaper than I could do it myself or have it painted.  Today he will pick up all of the control arms and subframe.  In a couple of weeks I will get the replacement radiator support as well as some brackets and smaller items done.

Meanwhile, the right rear cage nut spun when I went to remove the subframe a couple of years ago.  I am going to pull the passenger seat, so to kill off another project, I am going to pull the console and heater box to do the heater core.  I am going to drill a 2" circular hole and just put in a standard nut/washer instead.  The hole will be closed with a rubber body plug in case I ever need to access it again.

This also will help with pulling the a/c box off the firewall so I can scrub that up and paint both the firewall and cowl.  I am going to just rattle can those.  I also need to scrub the bottom of the floorpans, but I did find in a couple of test places that under the grease and dirt the factory black paint is still intact.  Good news there so I may not need to paint it.  We will just have to see. 

Well that is the update for now, but I promise I will get some pics up and more current info as the project progresses.
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline mulletmobile

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Re: 1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2016, 01:42:10 AM »
So parts went off to the powder coater, subframe and control arms for now.  The radiator support will be headed off in about two weeks.  Money dictates that, plus I wanted to check the quality on parts that can't be readily seen.  I figure if it isn't super great quality/color/sheen it is on the bottom of the car.

At any rate, I decided to be productive and tackled the spindles.  So as the pics show, they looked rusty, dirty, and just overall grimy and thick with heavy grease and caked on dirt.  I did notice a bit of a yellow paint daub showing through.




I started in with the Purple Power, barely diluted in a spray bottle, and a parts washer type brush with an assortment of nylon, brass and stainless steel brushes as well as plastic putty knifes and a couple of metal ones.  I started in with the nylon bristled brushes.  I started work around the paint daub and found they were much larger than I had previously thought, with one being significantly larger than the other.




But then I began to see something I didn't know about it until about a few days ago; There is a great blue-gray color of the spindle over the cast metal.  So since I have pretty intact and great color of the spindles (as well as the yellow paint daubs) mostly intact, I plan to clean up the rougher rusted spots and clear coat them.





Side note:  If any of you have clear coated your spindles or other cast pieces, what clear in a spray can did you use and/recommendations?
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.

Offline mulletmobile

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1980 Turbo TA rebuild
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2016, 12:07:21 PM »
Got some more work done Thursday, not much, but an hour hear and there is starting to add up and actually pretty easy to do.  Project for the day was to start clearing the firewall/cowl area.  For fun, I started with the A/C box.  First I have to say I bought a tool to help pull and assemble the car that is great to have.  I got a Milwaukee 18v brushless impact driver, not the impact wrench that is dedicated to 3/8 drive, but the impact driver with a quick release hex adapter.  Before you bash on it, I bought the impact wrench 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 drive socket adapters.  This thing ran all the lugs on and off two cars and then easily took off some heavily rusted bolts from the original and replacement radiator supports for this car.  All on the same charge in less than two hours.  The bonus being there is a setting for drilling so use around the house makes it a great option.  I bought this one because it has the best rating torque-wise of all impact drivers, it is a brushless motor (which is superior) and a screaming deal on ebay ($170 for it, the charger and two of the largest batteries available).  VERY IMPRESSIVE!

At any rate, I started in with the A/C box,  with the impact driver it took about 2 minutes to locate all of the bolts and nuts and remove them.  Some of them needed to be removed anyhow to pull the heater box so it went smooth.  I actually found that one nut was missing and appeared to have never been installed by the factory (I know totally unbelievable right?).  A quick note, remove the two bolts from the heater core gasket and pull that off first.  Mine was so hardened by time and heat exposure it split when I pulled it off.  They are about $20 IIRC from Classic Industries so not a big deal to replace.  Once all were removed the box pretty much fell off the firewall.  Much of the sealant material was brittle and crumbled apart too.  No big surprises except finding a partial VIN stamped on the firewall in two places behind the box.  A little debris inside the box, but not as much as I had anticipated.

I read somewhere to use acetone to clean up the box.  I plan on gutting it, cleaning it all up, cleaning up the rust and putting it back after the firewall is painted.  Enjoy the next round of pics.







« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 12:14:30 PM by mulletmobile »
80 Turbo Trans Am - in the process of coming back to life.