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07-20-2006 11:28 AM 16: rear disc brake install
I ordered a rear disc brake kit from AAJ brakes for my car. Yes, someone makes one! And so far so good. I had to take the axles to a shop to have them press the hubs off and replace the bearings. They told me it took 18 tons of pressure to do this. Apparantly, they were stuck. I replaced the bearings, seals, etc and the kit included new hardware for this. Awesome.

I still have a little left to do. I need to have tabs welded on my axle housing for the brake lines, and I need to fix my passenger side hub to accept studs. These cars originally came with bolts, and during its life someone partly converted it. I need to finish the job to have it consistent and have the same size lugnuts on it. Following the completion of this I'll replace the brake lines and order an emergency brake cable kit. Then, I'll be all set.

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  [Entry #16]

07-17-2006 03:29 PM 15: dash installed
Another quick update. I have the dash installed and am starting the wiring. The LS1 computer fit nicely under the dash, though I was originally intending to mount it in the engine bay. Painless set their harness up for an in-dash installation, so there it goes. so far so good for the painless wiring.

I had recently upgraded my 1984 Trans Am with a 2002 LS1, so tackling that project makes this one much easier to do with confidence. I was even confident enough to remove the smog wiring from the harness for the Belvedere. (eliminates dangling unused wires for a cleaner install)

The problem I face now is my brake booster interferes with the coils on the LS1. I've ordered a set of Katech coil relocation kit/ valve covers. Hopefully this will solve the problem. If not, then I have some fabricating to do...

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  [Entry #15]

06-25-2006 11:33 PM part 14: quick update
Hi Everyone:

It's been a while so I thought I would post a quick update on my Belvedere progress. I have the lights, etc installed in front and the rear bumper on, too. I have ordered a rear disc brake kit and a few other goodies for the car. soon I'll install the dash, the cluster, steering column/ wheel and get going on the wiring. I want to see if I can modify my retrotek electric shifter to work with the original push buttons. (Maybe locate the retrotek console behind the old plymouth ones and modify to make them work? It sounds great in my head as I type..) Anyways, enjoy.

ps. I'm not triskadecaphobic, it just worked out that way...

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  [Entry #14]

04-03-2006 10:51 AM after 4 trys, the engine is FINALLY in!
Are you one of those people that everything seems to be more difficult for you than everyone else? Sometimes I think I'm one of those people. We'll set aside typical setbacks such as unexpected work trips or a motorcycle accident (young driver decided to make a fast, illegal u-turn in front of me causing me to t-bone her car and total my brand new Raven R1) and concentrate on my Belvedere engine story.

The first time I went to assemble the engine/ trans and install the engine (after getting all the tools out, engine off the stand, etc) I was stopped (literally) when my ARP crankshaft balancer bolt stopped threading halfway onto the crank. It wouldn't go in further, it wouldn't come out. Not good. It took 4 of us to get the bolt out (1 with huge breaker bar, 1 to keep the crank from turning and 2 to hold the engine still). The bolt came out, but without threads on the last inch. Then I had to order a special metric tap to fit the LS1 crank. (16mm metric taps seem to not be commonly stocked at the local parts stores) Fortunately, the crank was fine and the threads cleaned up just fine. Never did figure out why this happened. The stock blanacer bolt came out just fine and there was no evidence of bad threads or junk inside. Lesson learned- always chase threads...

The second time I went to assemble the engine/ trans (after getting all the tools out, engine off the stand, etc) I discovered the torque converter I had pruchased with the rebuild 4l60e trans had stripped threads on the torque converter. End of attempt #2. I had to contact the trans place that built my trans and they were nice enough to send me another replacement torque converter with good threads. They're in Florida, I'm in California, so this put an end to the weekend project.

The third time I went to assemble my engine/ trans (after getting all the tools out, engine off the stand, etc) I went to bolt my LS1 flexplate to my new torque converter only to discover the bolt holes didn't align. End of attempt #3. I went to my local GM dealer to chat with some of my mechanic friends, and some local transmission shops all to hear different answers. The trans shop told me I had a v-6 trans. Fortunately, the dealer was a little more promising. I was able to get an exploded view of an ls1 trans, and was able to see that the trans was a v8 version. However, it must be an older model as it uses the smaller flexplate bolt pattern. Definitely not a camaro trans as there's no provision for the torque arm. The solution was to buy a flexplate from TCI that offers both bolt pattern sizes and a spacer from GM that is designed to give the proper offset the LS1 engines require. I sure hope this trans works with the painless wiring kit!

The 4th time I went to assemble my engine/ trans (after getting all the tools out, engine off the stand, etc) I went to assemble the flexplate to the torque convert (to test fit and be sure everything works OK) I discovered that although the bolt holes aligned- the flexplate itself is a 2 piece unit and the inner piece interferes with the torque converter- not allowing it to nest up closely as it should. I was able to solve this the same day by using longer bolts and washers to act as spacers (I hope this works!) So I was able to assemble everything and bolt it up together and with the help of my buds Jon and Dave (pictured) we were able to drop the LS1 inside the belvedere for what is hopefully its final install!

All this to get an engine in, and a chevy , too. Aren't they supposed to be universal and all fit together?? Must be the Mopar Gods giving me havoc for throwing a chevy in a mopar

On another subject I do have more of the trim assembled and the windows are in, but rolled down. I'm having trouble getting them properly aligned. I'm going to leave the final window adjusting to the body shop that painted the car as I'm starting to destroy my new rubber weatherstripping, and I think they may know some tricks that I don't know. (I belive in letting those do what they do best)

I've also installed the electric fuel pump and installed hte tank, but I will remove the tank as I wish to test it to be sure there are no leaks before I install the fuel lines. I've already lost a car to a car fire before, I couldn't stand to lose this one too.

Now that the engine is in I'm discovering loads of parts that I don't yet have, so I'll be doing more shopping over the next few weeks and more installing. Stay tuned!

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  [Entry #13]

11-22-2005 02:57 PM part 12: starting assembly
Ok, it's been a few weeks since getting it back and now I'm back from my annual work trips. I'm starting to get the car together. I've cleaned the windows, installed some chrome (still waiting for clips and brackets to complete) I've installed the whiskers on the doors, as well as some rubber weatherstripping and insulating the interior.

I'll be continuing with the windows in the doors, then onto the fuel system to prepare the in tank pump and plumb the lines. From then i'l likely install the engine, then work on the wiring. During this time I'll need to get the interior color scheme designed so I can complete the steering wheel and dashboard. I'll have to get the gauges and make my IP.

Wish me luck!

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  [Entry #12]

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