1988 Monte Carlo SS
LS1/T56 Change-over page
2001 Project Updates
05/01/01 Final T56 shifter hole trimming & inner boot
I tried fitting up the F-body T56 inner shifter boot over
the shifter hole and it really didn't fit-up as well as I would have liked due to the
interference created by trying to keep the passenger side front nutplate for the console
shifter bracket so that I could properly locate the console. The boot also has a
ridge on it designed to fit inside of the hole edge which meant that the hole I cut need
minor reshaping for ideal fitment. The original round 4" hole that I started
with is now completely gone! The sides are all basically perpendicular now with one
left rear corner slightly rounded behind the reverse solenoid.
On to the clutch pedal for final fabrication, fit-up and
05/02/01 Finalize clutch pedal proto-type
I went right to work on finalizing the clutch pedal arm
tonight once again using the bench-top clutch fixture as a reference tool.
- I had to trial fit a 3/4" outside diameter metal tube
through the top of the pedal arm at the pivot point to get the correct distance from the
brake pedal bracket assembly using the new arm that I had fabricated. Once
established I tack welded it and drilled up the inside of the tube to 0.630" to house
the flanged brass bushings that the assembly would ride on. These bushings require a
minimum 0.628" clearance.
- This picture compares my
brass bushing with the factory plastic bushing and inner metal sleeve which rides
inside of the clutch & brake arm OEM 7/8" diameter actuation tube. The
plastic creates too much side to side play and wears quickly. The flanged brass
bushes I have selected are graphite impregnated for lubrication as opposed to the white
grease required for the OEM set-up with the plastic ends and inner metal sleeve.
- Here is a side
by side comparison of my new clutch pedal bearing set-up at the pivot point on the left of
the brake bracket compared to the OEM brake pedal on the right with its cheap plastic ends.
When bolted up to the brake bracket my clutch pedal assembly has about 0.10"
side to side play in it compared to the brake pedal which has about 0.250" end play
as measured at the pedal end of the arms (opposite the pivot end).
- This front
view shows the new clutch arm with the new pedal face welded to it. Here is a
side view for comparison with the brake pedal and a left
view here. Quite a different configuration than the OEM mechanical linkage
set-up but a perfect match for the hydraulic clutch master cylinder actuating rod!
There will be a minor interference problem at the steering
column attachment bracket when installed which I will analyze next and resolve for proper
fitment and installation.
05/03/01 Test fit new pedal and trim steering column/dash
I made a preliminary installation of the final clutch arm
prototype in the car tonight to verify interference problems and also fabricated a steel
proto-type clutch pedal travel stop bracket which uses the '99 F-body OEM rubber travel
05/08/01 Neutral Safety Switch
Safety is more important than anything else so I wanted to
incorporate a functional OEM style neutral safety switch feature for the manual
transmission so that it will not be able to start while in gear without the clutch pedal
fully depressed. I utilized the clutch bench top test fixture one more time!
- I first had to figure out where to mount the neutral safety
switch. I decided on a location that was close to the existing pedal travel stop arm
that I fabricated so that it would minimize the amount of bracketry required for mounting
and actuation of the switch in addition to being able to take advantage of the clutch arm
- I fabricated a neutral safety switch bracket by cutting off
an F-body switch bracket which was attached to a set of 3rd Generation F-Body clutch
pedals and welding on a new 1"W x 1/8"T angled bracket that I
fabricated with about a 100 degree bend in it to clear the fuse panel in the car.
This bracket mounts with to the lower left brake booster stud inside of the car.
- Next I had to fabricate a second bracket which will
actually depress the neutral safety switch when the clutch pedal is engaged. This
view shows the new 2nd bracket tack welded to the pedal travel stop arm with the
clutch arm in its normal resting position.
- In this picture the clutch pedal is fully depressed and you
can see how the new 2nd bracket then depresses the neutral safety switch the exact
distance as the OEM F-Body clutch pedal set-up. Pretty slick!
I will need to verify final fitment of the neutral safety
switch set-up in the car next to ensure adequate clearance around the fuse panel box then
strip and paint all of the fabricated parts before final installation.
05/09/01 Test fit of Neutral Safety Switch
I attempted the installation of the neutral safety switch
set-up in the car to verify clearance at the fuse box. Not good!
- The bracket cleared fine, however, the very front lower
portion of the actual switch when trying to mount it on the bracket would not clear by
about 1/8". The red
arrow in this view shows the interference and the switch not fully seated because of
this in the bracket.
- First I took the safety switch bracket and bent the bracket
another ~10 degrees upward so that it would clear the fuse box by about 1/2" on the
top. This was the maximum I could go and still clear the pedal stop bracket while
the clutch arm is in the resting position.
- I then ground out the tack weld on the new safety switch
actuating bracket (attached to the pedal stop bracket) that actually depresses the neutral
safety switch and shortened it and raised it by the same ~1/2" and re-oriented it
slightly to compensate for this and now it works like a champ and has plenty of
clearance at the fuse box. This is now verified and complete!
My next project is getting the 8.5" rear end ready to
put in and measure for the correct Driveshaft length before taking the engine and
transmission out for the last time.
05/28/01 8.5" Rear end preparation
I wanted to get the 8.5" 3.73 posi-traction rear end
freshened up a bit before installation since it had been sitting for quite some time and
was very dirty and rusty.
- I had one of the worst mechanic's nightmares when I first
tried to take the rear axles out of the housing to replace the axle seals (even though
they still looked okay). The retaining bolt which holds the axle shaft pin in the
carrier was broken in half.....GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! It still had about 1/2 of a
thread holding the pin end of the bolt in place.
- Not to panic I went to a local Home Depot and bought a
12" long 1/4" drill bit. This drill bit actually flexed enough under
pressure to where I could flex it slightly to maintain a perpendicular angle to the bolt in
the carrier and drill through the remaining bolt threads all the way to the edge of
the carrier axle shaft pin.
- When I finished drilling the threads out I turned the rear
end up to stand it up on the right side axle (perpendicular to the ground). After
spraying the retaining bolt hole generously with WD-40 to cool the area that I had just
drilled I took a hammer and proceeded to gently tap the carrier area where the remaining
pin was still lodged through the axle shaft pin. After about 60 seconds of tapping
the remaining pin dropped out onto the ground!!! Hallelujah!!!
- This pic compares the old bolt and
pin versus the new bolt.
- If this wasn't enough when I went to take the backing
plates off (after the axles were out) to clean them up, one of the two lower retaining
bolts snapped off on each side. Why GM used such miniscule 1/4" diameter bolts
is beyond me. I drilled out these bolts using a 5/16" drill and re-tapped the
holes for a 3/8" diameter bolt (50% larger to prevent this problem again when bolts
get rusty). You can see the new
axle seal installed along with the 1/4" versus the 3/8" bolts side by side and
the new holes drilled and tapped directly below the axle seals (red arrows).
- I spent a total of 3 evenings degreasing, stripping and
repainting the housing. Once again I used POR-15 paint.
- Here is the stock 7.625" housing (still in place) with
the newly painted 8.5" housing directly underneath it for a nice side by
05/31/01 Final rear end/drive shaft prep
I temporarily test fitted up the 8.5" housing in the
car and raised it to its normal resting position to verify driveline length.
- The stock Monte Carlo Driveshaft will need to be shortened
a total of 5-1/4". The stock driveline measures about 52.5" when measuring
u-joint center to center. The T56 only requires a shaft length with the 8.5"
rear end of 47.25" (allowing for 1" end play). Shortening the driveline
will also save a little weight too! Every bit counts!
- I completely removed the upper and lower rear end control
arms to replace all of the rubber bushings and to box the lower control arms since I now
have a MIG welder. I installed stock bushings in the rear end housing upper ears and
will likely use the 1LE Camaro stiffer rubber bushings in the other six locations for a
decent controlled firm ride.
- I reviewed the process for boxing the lower control arms
and determined that buying a "pre-cut" kit was a complete waste of money, even
at $20 plus shipping. The reason for this is that I went to a local hardware store
and for $5 bought a 1-1/4"W x 1/8"T x 4'L steel plate which fit the bottoms of
the lower control arms almost perfectly with very minor clearancing using a die grinder
just inboard of the bushings (grinding off about 1/16" per side for about 3").
The finished unpainted arm in this picture
looks rough because I went over the welds with the die grinder to smooth them up, however,
once painted they will look awesome!
I stripped the control arms and will prepare them for
paint next. Progress will slow up a bit now since I will pull the engine and tranny
out one last time so that I can degrease and strip the engine compartment metal areas and
frame rails for painting.
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© 2001 by John Bzdel