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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I would give a progress report on my 79 Phoenix. Here are some pictures from the past 14 months.
Bought the Phoenix on Ebay for $1150 and towed up from TN. with help from my neighbor in Nov. 2010. Car was bought new at a Pontiac dealer in Statesville, NC and as far as I can tell spent its entire life in NC, GA and TN until I bought it. Previous owner took care of many basics and got it pretty well road worthy. He replaced control arm bushings, ball joints, brake pads and shoes, some additional brake parts including master cylinder. Also he had replaced coil and possibly radiator. I'm sure there was more but I can't remember. Had 305 with th350 which ran good enough to at least to get it home but since I had no spare, jack or license plates we towed it.

This is to be a budget build but I will attempt to not scrimp on things where it matters most...We'll see!








Fixed dash lights and painted dash, painted jambs, new weatherstrip, hinge pins, bushings and window felts, added rearview and exterior sport mirrors...Also replaced driver's window regulator, glove box and ash tray.

BEFORE








AFTER







Repair and re-paint door panels with SEM with help from my wife...





Fix rear window trim clips, fix trunk weatherstrip, paint trunk & jamb...



Clean and paint underside and replace body mount bushings. Fortunately it was in the mid to high 90's when I scraped, wire brushed and used Purple Power solvent on the bottom to clean off the 32 years of crud. The final step was to power wash...It was great fun! :rolleyes:















Pull old 305 and TH 350 with help from a couple of my good neighbors...









Clean and paint firewall & sub frame crossmember and trans tunnel and installed new motor mounts...



Clean and install clutch/brake pedal & linkage I got from this Nova in CO...











I bought a 78 Corvette L-82 350 4 bolt from a guy locally off CL for $350. The stock L-82 was rated at 220 HP SAE Net. I read a Popular Hot Rodding article that put a stock one on a dyno and it produced 313 HP SAE GROSS. Not sure but I assume SAE Net= at rear wheels and SAE gross= at flywheel. The stock 78 L-82 Vettes turned high 14's to 15 second quarter mile times in Motor Trend and Car and Driver tests back in the 70's even with the air pump and cat converters, etc., so it is a pretty good motor even stock. Plus my car is about 300# lighter than a 78 Vette.

I rebuilt it with new pair of heads I got for for $400, Performer intake, higher lift cam and new lifters. Cam is Comp Cam XE268 (higher lift/longer duration);Cam in it was not the original L82 grind but a Crower Thumper cam which I sold with the lifters for $20. Heads are 76cc and completely rebuilt with 2.02/1.60 valves and pocket ported.

The L-82 had factory forged TRW pistons that with the 76cc heads yields 9:1 CR.
Had crank checked,cleaned and polished, I put in new bearings, rings, oil pump and sump. Block is #3970010 4 bolt main. Before assembly I cleaned the block externally and then took it to the car wash and shot hot soapy water through all the oil passages and rinsed. I then blew out all the passages with my neighbor's air compressor.Red transmission on floor in background is the Saginaw I bought locally off CL for $175.

Tear Down



Rebuild









Pistons were actually on rods backwards when I bought the engine so valve reliefs were upside down and valves had hit pistons before I got it!! :eek: Pistons were okay though... I had the machine shop turn the pistons around on the rods for me.





New Head




Original 624 Head



Instead of rebuilding the L-82 #624 heads, I replaced them for 2 reasons: 1) I've read they are crack-prone and 2) All the valves had hit the pistons (see above) I replaced the heads with ones I think should be as good or better. I don't know how the new intake runners compare with the old 161 cc ones (probably similar). The new intake is a Performer 2101 which is a dual plane--the L-82 intake was not (Corvette hood clearance). The castings for the new heads were actually #454's which were used on 350 heavy duty truck engines between 1969 and 1979 mine were cast one in 73 and the other in 75...I'm guessing the castings were probably a heavier casting with more "meat" on them. They were re-worked (from 1.72/1.50) to accept the bigger 2.02/1.60 valves and pocket ported. Also the L-82 factory heads had screw-in studs and push rod guide plates I did not re-use the guide plates and new heads have pressed-in studs. I did re-use the hardened push rods though.

Also re-used the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, fuel pump and HEI distributor from the original 305. I bought a used "403" bell housing, 1406 Edelbrock carb and the correct starter for manual transmission on ebay from a guy about 20 minutes away. Paid about $140 for all and all work good. Also was fortunate to buy a used Edelbrock performer 2101 intake for $20 and a good 153 tooth flywheel for $35.

Install new engine with Saginaw 4 speed...



Start putting body back together...



Engine runs really good! Took it for 1 quick ride around the block:yes:
Currently working on fixing small bugs, fitting body parts better and getting ready for inspection. To be continued...:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Its looking great so far! I can't wait to be able to start working on my nova again...(my own build thread is going to be started soon now that I am done with college and have a career) What are the specs on the engine? What heads, cam, pistons, etc? Be careful with that saginaw behind the 350, they weren't really meant for that kind of power. As long as you don't go pulling any wholeshots with slicks, or accelerating really hard all the time, it should be ok. Are you going to keep the A/C functional?
Thanks! It's a std. bore 350 originally a 78 Vette L-82 which came with TRW forged pistons giving it about a 9:1 CR. The heads are reworked mid 70's truck heads. 76cc Chambers with larger valves ( 2.02/1.60) and pocket ported with .550 valve springs. Cam is Comp Cams 12-242-2 XE 268 224/230 duration @.050 lift .477/.480 lift. Elelbrock Performer 2101 & 1406 600 cfm carb. Should be around 350 HP w/ 400 ft lbs torque.

Yes I plan on being careful with the Saginaw...Got it for $175 when all the Muncies or T 10s seem to go for at least $800 used. It was an economic decision... It seems pretty solid though. I'm going to try not to abuse it.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Looking good! So I'm guessing red is the new color.
Thanks! Yes I decided to go with Cranberry Red...which you see on a lot of 70 SS 396 Chevelle pictures.... I thought since I'm going to keep the full black vinyl top it will look pretty nice that way. I'm figuring a non-metallic single stage paint job will also be the cheapest which is important since I don't have a big budget.Maybe I'll even go with the black hood & trunk stripes too??
I had considered doing away with the vinyl top ...If I had I would have chosen a different color.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It appears red was the original color. If it wasn't you did a real good job in the trunk making it look factory.
Thanks! I tried to be careful with the little details. What you can't see in the picture is that my masking tape pulled off a little bit of the jack instruction sticker. But I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

BTW--Making good progress on the fender adjustments...It's going to work out pretty well.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Its looking great so far! I can't wait to be able to start working on my nova again...(my own build thread is going to be started soon now that I am done with college and have a career) What are the specs on the engine? What heads, cam, pistons, etc? Be careful with that saginaw behind the 350, they weren't really meant for that kind of power. As long as you don't go pulling any wholeshots with slicks, or accelerating really hard all the time, it should be ok. Are you going to keep the A/C functional?
Even though I'd love to have the A/C, it won't be operational. It's missing the compressor and some of the other parts so I removed everything that was feasable including the radiator, a long hose, brackets...I wanted to minimize expense for now--less clutter too. I'll save the parts in case I want to do it later or...the next owner does :eek: (I don't even want to think about that now!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Which Saginaw is it? Some are stronger than others, depends on the gearing.
From the casting #s I've been able to determine it was from a 77 Monza--made 12/4/76...2 rings on the input shaft which should mean the 3.11 first gear:(: So I wouldn't think it is one of the stronger ones. It also has a switch on it for Transmission Spark Control...(finally found out what that was)a single prong switch. It does seem to be in pretty good shape though. I replaced front and side cover gaskets and rear seal.It worked good on my quick maiden voyage.

I do wish 1st gear wasn't so low. Right now it's got 2.41 rear gears so I'm thinking 3.42's might be a good compromise between strong acceleration and avoiding 1st being a "creeper" gear. Also still giving me a decent cruising RPM with 27" tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well...I'm not going to be popping the clutch or burning rubber...intentionally anyway...but I might forget my age and bang second or third on occasion...:D Hopefully I won't get too carried away!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
The 2 ring ratio is much better than the more plentiful 3 ring with the 3.50 first gear.

1st 3.11
2nd 2.20
3rd 1.47
4th 1.00

With your 2.41 gear 4th will be like an over drive around 2200 rpm's at 70. The 3.42 will put you at 3000 rpm's at freeway speeds.
Yes It could be worse with the 3 ring so in a way I'm thankful for what I've got.
Yeah, on paper with my 2.41's I figured about 170 mph at 5000 RPM:eek: Hmmm...I would probably pass out long before that and my speedometer only goes to 100 anyway!:D I'd love to have a 5 speed but cost is prohibitive so 3.42's seem to be a good compromise. I'm looking now for a ring and pinion and a 3 series carrier because my carrier is a 2 series and won't work with 3.42's.
I understand 3.42's for an 8.5 10 bolt came std on a lot of 80's Chevy 1/2 ton pickups and am on the lookout for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
Mr. Gasket sells a ring gear spacer for your 2 series carrier. Thats what I used. Its around $30. It goes under the ring gear. I used a posi unit that came with 2.73 gears and shimmed it with the spacer and 3.73 gears. You can make it happen. Nice car by the way...Your saginaw swap is inspiring. Im still debating if its time to convert or if I should still wait
How long have you run your spacer? I've heard scary things about using spacers...that things loosen up & come apart.

A guy I know is checking on a 10 bolt 8.5 Chevy pickup rear from the 80's that he has. If it is a 3.42 he'll sell me the whole package & can install for me...Otherwise, we'll see.

Thanks for the nice comments. The swap wasn't so bad. The hard part, of course, is finding the pedals & linkage. But the install wasn't too hard...Pedals and linkage bolt right up...Just need to locate where the hole in the firewall goes for the rod off the clutch pedal.I've got info on that if you ever need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
You can also get over-sized gears that take up the space. When I built the rear in the Nova I did that on purpose. I ordered a 3-series carrier and put 4.11's on it. It gives the ring gear extra girth. AND it's only one piece instead of giving the rear another place to fail.
Someone told me that they don't make thicker gears for 10 bolt 8.5 Chevy rears. Do you know someone who does?
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
As long as you use locktite and torque everything down, it should be ok. It's not ideal, but it will get the job done. There is more stress on the bolts due to the longer moment arm, but it is only a quarter inch longer. I wouldn't go pulling multiple wholeshots with some stickies and a 6000 rpm clutch drop :devil: - but based on your transmission and what you've said, that isn't your intention anyways. I've been running mine for the last three years, and I'm not easy on it either. 425 hp 383, and street use - no racing use. Went from the stock 2.41 gears to a set of 3.73 gears. If you can get the thicker gears, definitely go that route. At the time, it wasn't in my budget, but for me, I think that a 12 bolt may be in my future. :yes:
Thanks. It's good to hear of your good experience with the spacer. Good food for thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I cleaned all those bolt holes with carb cleaner and compressed air. Use permanent loctite on the bolts. Let the unit sit over night and there's no way its coming undone. I've had a lot of experience with loctite, its used a lot in manufacturing. I've been building lasers for the past 5 years or so. We use it a lot, don't underestimate those small bottles
I appreciate your input. And after hearing Nova 1978's experience also, I will reconsider the spacer,,,especially since my HP isn't too high and I don't plan on beating it.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I called Summit and bought Richmond gears for my 8.5" ten bolt. No problem. Four series gears on a 3 series carrier. No spacer.
I've got a 2 series carrier. Are the wide gears available for them? I haven't been able to find them...I tried Summit's website but all their Richmond 3.42 gear sets won't work with my 2 series carrier (2.41 rear)
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
The spacer is a bad idea. The ring gear is almost a press fit on the carrier. When the spacer is used that tight fit is lost. No matter how tight you get the bolts at some point the spacer will shear them off and cause massive destruction.
On the 80's pick up rear end, it is not ideal. The locker was a Gov Loc inherently weak and will also cause a great amount of carnage when it lets go of all the tiny little parts in it.
Best thing to do is build or have it built properly the first time. In the long run it will be cheaper.
I don't know much about rear ends. What is a locker? Are there lockers in both posi & non- posi rears? The truck rears I'm thinking about are non-posi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Kim were you just going to use the gears?
The truck rear end has 30 spline axles, special bearings are used to mount the carrier in a car housing, if it will fit, I do not know for sure. You will also need 30 spline axles from Moser if it does. The whole rear is not practical, I believe it is wider and the wheel bolt pattern is different.
I have read that 8.5 10 bolt rears from Chevy pickups and others before 1990 used 28 spline axles which I believe my original 8.5 10 bolt has. They say that they switched to 30 spline in 90. So I was thinking the pinion, ring, carrier assembly with spider gears bearings, etc. out of a pre-90 Chevy pickup or other GM vehicle would bolt right into my housing and use my axles.Of course, like I said, I don't know much about this stuff--just what I've read. Here's an article that seems to indicate that I can.

http://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-36173.html

and post #14...

http://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190279

Also, would an open rear have the Gov Loc you had mentioned or is that a posi related piece?
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
You are correct about the splines, but do some more research before buying the truck parts. There may differences in the bearing sizes and the pinion shaft.
The Gov Loc looks weird, has pins and levers and springs, if it looks like a normal open carrier then it is.
Okay Philip, I will check into that if I continue to pursue the 342's. One more question: The guy in my neighborhood that I may buy seats and carpet from may also be selling the rear end (housing and all) out of his 73. I think the housing dimensions are all the same on the 3rd generation rears, right? I think he has 3.73 gears.Should that possibly bolt in place of my housing?

I figure I could compensate by running a slightly larger diameter tire to keep the revs down for highway cruising.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
68 - 79 are all the same width. A 73 would have been an 8.5" unless it was swapped out.
Okay--The housing design and cover (NovaResource.com) should verify it's an 8.5 right? I can also check the # on the front passenger housing.

My neighbor is planning on turning his 73 into a pro street with 1000 hp soon. Current setup is 425 hp 355 with 350turbo. His rear end has held up fine...My engine has less hp. With the 3.73 gears I could go with a tire with about 27.5 height...a little higher than I would prefer but should work. (either 265X60-15 or 225X70-15)

If I continue to pursue the truck gears I will check into the pinion shaft, bearing sizes etc. first.

Thanks for your help with this. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Chevy car bolt pattern is 4 3/4 bolt circle 5 lug, Truck bolt pattern is 5" bolt circle 5 lug. Truck axles might also be wider, I know Camaro/Trams Am axles are. At least the 70's are.
I know money's tight these days for everyone but really think about doing the rear with quality parts. I drove mine with the stock set up till i could afford to upgrade. I don't worry about my rear end anymore. Just my 0.2
I appreciate your input. Actually I am considering transplanting the ring, pinion and carrier into my housing using my axles rather than the whole truck housing.
As Philip noted, I need to do more research to make sure the gears I find would work. I should probably check this out on the Drivetrain forum. I'm thinking I need to drive mine stock if I can for now just to keep the budget balanced.
:rolleyes:
 
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