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Updating the '76


plwindish
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Dropped off the '76 last night at the shop to have the 400 pulled, taken apart, cleaned and put back together with more "ponies". When they asked how much power I wanted, I said 300 - 325, to which they replied "That's it?" The shop is very complete for doing everything on engines, complete with their own "dyno" room to show the end results. After the motor is done, its off to the tranny shop to swap in a 200 R4 for the TH400. After that, hopefully the car will be ready to hit the road for trips to Springfield MO and Gettysburg.

Has anyone had any success in reattaching the wire on the bottom of the rear window for the electric defroster grid? About 3 inches has separated from the glass. The previous owner had the cable reattached two or three times. When I stopped at the Glass shop I had used in the past for other cars, the guy all but crossed himself before looking at it and quickly saying they couldn't do anything about it. He stated anywhere the conductive paint had separated would most likely mean the defroster won't work. He said I'd have to try to get a conductive type paint to fill in any gaps and then try to get a conductive type adhesive to reattach the wire.

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For most purposes building your engine to 300-325 hp is all you'll ever need. The crate engine in my '70 is rated at 330 hp and looking back, I would have been just as well served by going with the 290 hp engine...I'm not a kid anymore and don't push the car beyond reasonable limits like I would have when young. Besides...the 290 hp engine uses regular fuel and my 330 hp uses premium...bit of a difference these days. As Studebaker said about the original Avanti...it has more power than I can use.

If your car has a single exhaust that splits into dual tail pipes, give some thought into adding true dual exhaust. You'll be surprised at the difference in performance just from that.

Hope to meet you in Gettysburg this summer.

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Being a "kid" of 62, I don't feel the need for speed that I once did. Its been a while since I have collected an speeding tickets and I would just as soon keep it that way. At the engine rebuilders place in the stall next to the Avanti is a 68 Chevelle with a Crate 582 and nitrous. Now that is a serious horsepower maker. The shop is also going to pull my gas tank to get cleaned out, leak tested and coated and add new lines to the motor. They also can replace the instrument gauges, so I need to pick some new ones out. By the time the work is done and car is running, the trans guy should have the 200 R4 built and ready to go in. When all that gets done, I'll really have the "need for cruisin speed"!

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Being a "kid" of 62, I don't feel the need for speed that I once did. Its been a while since I have collected an speeding tickets and I would just as soon keep it that way. At the engine rebuilders place in the stall next to the Avanti is a 68 Chevelle with a Crate 582 and nitrous. Now that is a serious horsepower maker. The shop is also going to pull my gas tank to get cleaned out, leak tested and coated and add new lines to the motor. They also can replace the instrument gauges, so I need to pick some new ones out. By the time the work is done and car is running, the trans guy should have the 200 R4 built and ready to go in. When all that gets done, I'll really have the "need for cruisin speed"!

I'll admit to being a "kid" of 68 and went looking for an Avanti II to return to my early driving years. I've not had a ticket since 1970 but the 355 SBC that sets in the 83 is rated a 400 HP.

I don't do a lot of fast driving but I must admit that the deep rumble is appreciated at car shows and the trip back into the seat occasionally when I hit the pedal hard not only brings back pleasant thoughts of my past. It also develops the most devilish grin you can imagine and my wife even comments on how much I seem to enjoy it.

That 400 SBC is a torque monster so give it enough help to breathe well and let the 200R4 and about a 3:40 - 3:70 posi rear end improve your mood (Choice depends on your RPM comfort level at 70 MPH or so). Mine has a 4:10 posi but the 400 has great torque ability so a less agressive gearing is fine. You also have room for at least 8" rims so treat it to a good set of wide ground patch tires.

JMHO

Bob

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I replaced the gauges in my car as well. I went with Auto Meter gauges. I replaced the ammeter with a voltmeter as I felt a voltmeter is more useful. You'll find in many makes and model lines of gauges, you won't find many matching clocks or possibly even vacuum/boost gauges. You could always eliminate the clock and install a voltmeter and also keep the ammeter, but that's up to you to decide.

Best of luck on your car. It sounds like a real winner when it's completed.

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I replaced the gauges in my car as well. I went with Auto Meter gauges. I replaced the ammeter with a voltmeter as I felt a voltmeter is more useful. You'll find in many makes and model lines of gauges, you won't find many matching clocks or possibly even vacuum/boost gauges. You could always eliminate the clock and install a voltmeter and also keep the ammeter, but that's up to you to decide.

Best of luck on your car. It sounds like a real winner when it's completed.

Thanks Gunslinger. I was looking at the Auto Meter gauges. The ES line did look good to me. The illumination put a red glow on the gauge harkening back to the '64 I had. As you said, clocks are hard to come by. I did not see any on Auto Meter's site. I will call them as they are only about 40 miles from me in IL. If I leave the clock in, it may not be too far off from the others, an really, its not high visibility where it is located on the left. Its still working, so maybe I should let it die a natural death. Were there any issues with hooking up the new gauges? I just ordered a fuel sending unit from Stude International along with the upper hose connecting the gas tank to the fill tube for the removal and restoration of the gas tank. I'm hoping there won't be any issues with getting a reliable reading from a new gas gauge.

As far as tickets go, its been several years without one for me, but with my daily commute on I-80 between I-57 and I-55, its customary to go 80 just to keep up with the traffic flow. On the rearend, I'm probably going to keep the 3:31 for now and see how everything performs. I haven't checked yet to see if it is a posi-traction or not. I wasn't on the build sheet so it probably is not.

If your vast warehouse of knowledge, have you come across an issue with the rear window defroster that I mentioned in the original post? It will probably be a mute point, as I doubt if I'll be driving it in weather that I would need to use the rear defroster, but that wire is "butt-ugly" hanging down like that and it is probably too heavy for adhesives to provide a long term answer.

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I've got the Auto Meter Z-Series gauges. A clock and vacuum/boost gauge were available. I installed them when the dash was out of the car...the easy way! Wiring was simple...and the tach needs no sending unit. All the gauges come with both a red and green colored gel cap to put over the lights that snap in, so you have the choice of colors for illumination. The Auto Meter gauges came with their own mounts, so the mounts for the original gauges won't be necessary. I sold all my old gauges and mounting parts on Ebay...it went a long way to recovering the cost of the new gauges.

Since you've already bought a new fuel tank sending unit, make sure you get a 240/33 ohm fuel gauge. That's pretty much a generic spec but there are different gauges.

As far as your rear defroster goes, I can't help you. My '70 has the old style blower defogger in the rear. Maybe an auto glass shop can be of help.

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I've got the Auto Meter Z-Series gauges. A clock and vacuum/boost gauge were available. I installed them when the dash was out of the car...the easy way! Wiring was simple...and the tach needs no sending unit. All the gauges come with both a red and green colored gel cap to put over the lights that snap in, so you have the choice of colors for illumination. The Auto Meter gauges came with their own mounts, so the mounts for the original gauges won't be necessary. I sold all my old gauges and mounting parts on Ebay...it went a long way to recovering the cost of the new gauges.

Since you've already bought a new fuel tank sending unit, make sure you get a 240/33 ohm fuel gauge. That's pretty much a generic spec but there are different gauges.

As far as your rear defroster goes, I can't help you. My '70 has the old style blower defogger in the rear. Maybe an auto glass shop can be of help.

I stopped by the shop to check on progress yesterday on the way home. Hood was off, radiator out hoses disconnected, battery out, etc. What was alarming was the bottom pulley on the motor was riding right on top of the center steering fitting. The pulley had worn grooves on the steering fitting. A belt would have been impossible to replace without taking the pulley off or loosening the motor mounts and lifting the engine. Anyone run into that issue??? The shop did not know if that was caused by the mounts compressing over time or some other reason. As you all know, there's no room to go with taller mounts as the top of the air cleaner has the paint worn off to where it is shiny. Any ideas?

Gunslinger, good call on the Autometer Z series gauges. I believe I'll get them, added bonus there is a clock with that series. Are the speedo and tach the 3 38" size, while the other smaller gauges are the 2 1/16" ? Oil pressure gauge range to 100, should be fine right? Water temp to 240 or 250? So far it hasn't gone over 190 for temp. I will follow your suggestion to sell the gauges, first by checking with other members of Chicagoland AOAI or Ebay if no local buyers.

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3 3/8" for the speedometer and tach are correct, as is 2 1/16" for the other gauges. One thing I discovered with the Z-Series clock was the hole in the dash bezel is a bit larger than 2 1/16". The factory clock has a retainer ring you can reuse for the new clock.

I think I have the 240 degree temp gauge...it really doesn't matter which you go with. If your engine sends the gauge into that territory you know you have a problem regardless of which gauge you install. The gauge comes with a matched sending unit. 100 psi is fine for the oil pressure.

As far as your crank pulley goes, I'm not sure what to tell you on that. Are you sure the steering bellcrank isn't worn in any way that could cause the problem? If the engine mounts have compressed...or even if they haven't...you should go ahead and change them. If they're the originals, they should be replaced just for safety's sake. The car uses standard Chevy mounts and they're available in different thicknesses and are not expensive. If you have to, you can get a drop base air cleaner to give more clearance with the hood. There's a number of ways to handle the air cleaner/hood clearance issue...some might be easy like the drop base air cleaner and some might be more exotic, but it's not a difficult problem to deal with.

Does your engine have a Quadrajet 4-barrel or a 2-barrel carburetor? If you have a Q-jet, you have one of the best street carbs made. If you have a 2-barrel carb, consider getting a 4-barrel and aluminum intake manifold. If you have the Q-jet and a cast iron intake, still consider the aluminum replacement. I'm not trying to make you spend money that's unnecessary, but if you want to maximize your engine's performance within your goals, do it while the engine is out anyway.

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I have the 4 barrel quadrajet and have already talked about getting an Edelbrock aluminum manifold, they were checking on heights of manifolds, thinking they could get a lower rise to replace the original cast iron intake. On getting it to breathe better, it already has a hose connected to the air cleaner intake picking up air from the grille area. The old long ac compressor is located on top over the left bank, making it really hard to add a double snorkel air cleaner from an HO 305 that ran a hose down by the left side of the radiator and into the grille area to get a double amount of air. I like the idea of getting cold air into the carb instead of the abundance of hot air under the hood.

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That old A-6 compressor is one of the best a/c compressors ever installed in a car, though now obsolete...far too big and heavy. Think about replacing it with either a GM R-4 compressor or a Sanden type. I have the R-4 installed in my car and it can freeze you out. The Sanden type is current technology now and is probably even more efficient. Either will free up a lot of underhood space and weight compared to the A-6.

For your Quadrajet, an excellent choice would be an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold (Edelbrock 2101). An even better one would be Edelbrock's 7104 Performer RPM Q-jet...it's design is optimized for the Quadrajet carburetor. It may give some clearance issues with the hood as it's a bit taller than the 2101 Performer. The 2101 is essentially a replacement for the original cast iron intake, though with an updated design and works very well. I installed one of those on a Corvette I used to own and it definitely made an improvement over the original...not a huge improvement, but responsiveness was definitely crisper.

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I stopped by the shop yesterday afternoon to find the '76 motorless. One of the mechanics had the block on the stand taking the pistons out, checking the distance from the top of the block. Crank bearings looked good, the date on the backside of the bearings indicated the motor was built in '75. The whole bottom end looked good, but the heads looked a little oily on the underside in the combustion chambers. I did find the motor number that was on the right front of the block. The motor number stamped on the block matches the build sheet for the car. The other number on the block is the casting number on the left rear of the block. In previous forums, some have gotten the 2 numbers gotten confused when trying to find the motor number. Wonder who stamped the motor number on the block, Avanti Motors or GM? The block has 2 bolt mains, so its probably a good idea that I only want around 325 HP out of the motor and not a bunch more. Everything will be measured, cleaned and the parts list accumulated by tomorrow, so everything is moving along. I did get the new sending unit for the gas tank and filler connecter for the tank yesterday, so the tank will be removed, cleaned, coated and re-installed. I'm still waiting on the Auto Meter gauges to come in. I went with the Z series and will use red lighting. The Z series is one of the few that does have a clock with it. Hopefully in a week or two, that work will be done and then its on to the install of the 200 R4. Hopefully everything will get done and I'll get plenty of road testing in before June.

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I can't say for sure who stamped the numbers on the block, but it's most likely GM. At some point the government mandated all engines and major drivetrain parts be stamped with the last numbers of the car's VIN, but I don't know when that took effect. In that case Avanti Motors would have had to add those numbers. The 17-digit VIN went into effect with model year 1981, so it may have started then, but Avanti Motors, being a low volume manufacturer may have gotten a waiver on that for some time.

The stampings GM would have added would have a prefix like CE or similar, plus maybe a suffix. The stampings identify whether the engine was a crate engine and/or what car they were designed for...Caprice, Mailbu, El Camino, Corvette, truck, etc. Those codes can be looked up in books available or online.

You should tell the shop doing the work you want ARP bolts holding the main bearing caps down. There's nothing better and can withstand more stress than you can reasonably build your engine's power level.

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I stopped by the shop today to drop off the new Auto Meter gauges and check on the engine progress. The block mains were being line bored when I was there. Heads were cleaned up ready to put valves in. Roller cam is coming in Tuesday,with carb rebuilding and possible new intake manifold to install,the owner said the motor should be back together on Wednesday. Even with the motor put back together, there is still the radiator to get cleaned, leak tested along with removal of the gas tank to be cleaned, coated, and re-installed with new sending unit and gas lines to the motor, gauges installed, block hugger headers installed and connected with the exhaust pipes and everything buttoned back up, I'm guessing another week, before taking to the trans shop for the 4 speed automatic overdrive.

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I stopped by the shop today to drop off the new Auto Meter gauges and check on the engine progress. The block mains were being line bored when I was there. Heads were cleaned up ready to put valves in. Roller cam is coming in Tuesday,with carb rebuilding and possible new intake manifold to install,the owner said the motor should be back together on Wednesday. Even with the motor put back together, there is still the radiator to get cleaned, leak tested along with removal of the gas tank to be cleaned, coated, and re-installed with new sending unit and gas lines to the motor, gauges installed, block hugger headers installed and connected with the exhaust pipes and everything buttoned back up, I'm guessing another week, before taking to the trans shop for the 4 speed automatic overdrive.

PL

Once you get the engine reinstalled, could you post a picture or two of the headers. A lot of us continue to be curious about what fits and what becomes available. My search for headers that fit my 83 resulted in my using the 2.5" OEM Ram Horns from early 60's vettes. The only thing close that I found were the Tru Rams from Speedway that would fit and possibly one set of Sanderson cast headers. The problem has always been the steering gear requires the #7 exhaust to come up and then join the dump. Thanks

Bob

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Once you get the engine reinstalled, could you post a picture or two of the headers. A lot of us continue to be curious about what fits and what becomes available. My search for headers that fit my 83 resulted in my using the 2.5" OEM Ram Horns from early 60's vettes. The only thing close that I found were the Tru Rams from Speedway that would fit and possibly one set of Sanderson cast headers. The problem has always been the steering gear requires the #7 exhaust to come up and then join the dump. Thanks

Bob

Bob...

I have Sanderson block hugger headers on my car and there was no problem with clearances. I can get some pics of them in the car and post them for you later. I don't know what issues an '83 might have compared to my '70, but I can at least give you an idea.

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PL

Once you get the engine reinstalled, could you post a picture or two of the headers. A lot of us continue to be curious about what fits and what becomes available. My search for headers that fit my 83 resulted in my using the 2.5" OEM Ram Horns from early 60's vettes. The only thing close that I found were the Tru Rams from Speedway that would fit and possibly one set of Sanderson cast headers. The problem has always been the steering gear requires the #7 exhaust to come up and then join the dump. Thanks

Bob

My car came with the ram's horn type exhaust manifolds on the motor. The problem I had with them in the short time I've had the car is 3 burned spark plug wires, two on the wires that came on the car when I bought it and the shop found a burned wire from the new set when tearing it down. I will get some pictures when it is back together and hopefully downsize them so they will fit the forum's format.

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Bob...

I have Sanderson block hugger headers on my car and there was no problem with clearances. I can get some pics of them in the car and post them for you later. I don't know what issues an '83 might have compared to my '70, but I can at least give you an idea.

Thanks Bruce.

I'll be interested in seeing if there is a difference. Possibly a larger steering box or maybe I just didn't find the Sanderson headers you have.

Here is a shot from below of my steering box and the 2.5" ram horns. You can see how close the box is to the block and why there is no room for the #7 downpipe so it must go up slightly and then down.

P1010324.jpg?t=1303845811

Bob

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seen a product at auto zone for repairing/patching the defroster wires... would have written it down but I was kinda zoned out that day myself let me know if you can't find it

Thanks, I'll check out my local Autozone and ask about it. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, I was looking to see what they had in gauges, not looking for the defroster cable repair.

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I stopped in the shop again this afternoon. The block was in the machine getting cylinders honed. They did go .0030 over on the bore. I now longer have a 400, but now have a 406. Sounds more like a '63 Ford motor now. The majority of the parts are in to start putting the motor back together tomorrow. The roller cam, new pistons, lifters, crank bearings, harmonic balancer, ARP bolts are ready to go. The heads are all cleaned up and ready to have all the valves put back in them. They are going to use an Edelbrock Performer intake and a new carb with a low rise air cleaner. I'm starting to get anxious!

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  • 2 weeks later...

A lot has been going on the past few days with the car. Gas tank is out and at the radiator shop getting leak tested, cleaned and the interior coated. Old gas line has been replaced with the wrapped braided line. The SW gauges have been removed and the Auto Meter gauges have been installed. The motor was together yesterday afternoon when I stopped by the shop. Valve covers, water pump, fuel pump and carb all needed to be installed yet. The motor will get running today, cycled to get broken in and then have three runs on the dyno to see where it is at horsepower wise. The shop works Monday thru Thursdays, 10 hour days, so I anticipate the car being back together some time next week, barring any exhaust system issues with using the new polished ceramic coated block hugger headers. After the motor is back in, then its off to the trans shop. The trans shop has a freshly built 200 4R trans ready to go.

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Just got back from the shop. The guys @ the shop did another dyno run to show me. The 400 is cranking out over 460 lbs torque and 360 horsepower. That performance will be more than enough to get me in trouble. The radiator repair shop that has the radiator and gas tank is located in the same complex as the Engine shop, so I stopped in there and was assured everything will be repaired, coated and dry for the guys to put back in the car Monday morning. The guys have to put on the water pump, fuel pump, and headers to get it ready to put back in the car. Block Hugger Headers are Pro Former, steel, ceramic coated and polished, center drop. We will have to see if any mods will need to be made with the exhaust pipes to mate with the new headers. Our Chicago-land AO Club had our May meeting last night, 6 or 7 of the members drove their Avantis. I'm getting anxious to get back on the road with mine.

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You have a pretty thumping engine there! More than enough to get you into trouble! My '69 Corvette 427 is rated at 435 hp and 460 ft/lbs of torque. It feels like it can pull tree stumps and your're getting that kind of torque from a small block. That shop's doing a nice job.

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