The grand adventures of a trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!

Discussion in 'Members Rides' started by elagache, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. austingta

    austingta Well-Known Member

    I do not ever give engine building advice, but it seems to be common knowledge that max torque at fewest RPM is always using a stock cam.

    I wish you the best and hope it won't be too expensive.
  2. buick64203

    buick64203 Just plum crazy Staff Member

    What could the guy have possibly put the engine through to cause this? How many miles are on the engine? Id be surprised if it has 1000 miles on it.
  3. BUICK528

    BUICK528 Big Red

    such a cool family history with the car to see something like this happen

    I wish you the best :pray:
  4. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    Thank you for all the sympathy. (Re: trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    Dear Paul, Machinefarmer, SteeveeDee, Joe, Randal, James, Frank, Jason, Buick528, and fans of battered and weary wagon,

    Thanks you so much for your kind thoughts and sympathy. Alas, I fear that my ignorance and failure to communicate clearly my desires has created a stupendous disaster. What I can say, I'm really beaten.

  5. sriley531

    sriley531 Buckle up, this could get rough....


    Remember this is a machine made up of parts. Mechanical parts. These parts can always be replaced/rebuilt/improved. Sure, the monetary aspect is a gut punch, but this can be repaired or at worst replaced.
  6. Jim Weise

    Jim Weise 1000+HP


    Let me comment on this, from my perspective.

    Edouardo's 448 was a sweet piece, and I was very excited about it. As for camshaft size, it has a stock size STG 1 cam in it, 215/225 @.050 and to smooth it out and promote even more low end torque, I spread out out even farther than the factory did... the factory STG 1 cam was on a 113 LC, this one is on a 115..

    We talked about it, took pictures and video of everything and it's all here in this thread..

    It idles at 700 rpm with tons of vacuum.. with less lope than a factory STG 1 has. I have since built two copies of this motor, the slightly bigger 470 versions, as they are based on the 455 vs the 430 block. I installed one of them in a resto 70 GS Stage1.. That fully equipped AC car with a TH-400 an VP converter.. in low stall.. drove exactly like every one of the pure stock GS cars I have built over the years.

    The only difference was that it has considerably more power when called upon. But no low speed performance has been compromised in any way..

    So when it was finally installed, and Edouard first called/emailed me with a concern, I was completely mystified as to what he was talking about.


    ... and he complained it was noisy (header noise), and the throttle response was poor.

    I have build dozens and dozens of these things, shipped them all over the world, and never has such a successful project had such owner feedback, right after installation.

    Now, here is what I am concerned about.

    Ed is not doing the work, nor is he supervising it. To my knowledge, he was not present when the engine was first started in the car, nor was he with on any test driving that was done.

    This is not a knock on him, just a background fact.. Ed has/had family obligations that prevented him from being there. And does not have the technical background/tools/ facilities to do this himself.

    So he is at the mercy of a shop. He trusts the shop, and that is fine, but we are all human. Mistakes get made, and it's way easier to blame somebody 1500 miles away, than admit something bad happened.


    Now, we all know how well a properly tuned BBB runs, how strong the torque is, and how responsive they are.

    Now go out to your car, and set the total timing at 22*.

    And then you will understand what Ed was driving, and why he is so down on the engine combo.

    This one has an MSD all in one billet distrib, and there was no reason to limit the advance, as high initial advance was not required here.. In fact the advance curve is quite conservative, and the cam was small, the idle quality excellent. Without consulting my notes, I would suspect his initial timing was very near zero, if not retarded, after the distributor got bumped.

    When Ed had continually commented on the board that the engine was "noisy", and lacked power, I kept tell him via email to check the timing, and gave him, and those working on it, explicit directions as to how to do it.. We needed to insure that someone had not bumped the distributor, during shipping or install. The timing was set at 34* total on the dyno, just like every other BBB street motor likes.

    As is my custom, I made a mark on the balancer at 34*.. to check timing, you simply unplug the vacuum advance, put a standard timing light on it, and line the white marked new line on the balancer up with the zero tab (also with a white mark on it).

    I talked directly to the guys working on it.. and they insured me that they had checked the timing.

    The unusual thing is the gasket leaks.. I mean everything is leaking... at low rpm just cruising around in the car?

    After I had repeatedly dyno tested the motor to 5800 rpm, and it did not leak a drop... I recall that distinctly, because I made a joke to Ron at the dyno shop that we "have to paint them all green now, this one is totally leak free" .. (We painted this motor nailhead green..)

    So a lot of stuff is not adding up here.

    And some other stuff the shop had told him, or told me directly regarding the leaks, was just not adding up.

    The head gaskets were also seeping coolant, on warm up/cool down.. which is unusual for a Buick , and the Fel Pro gaskets I have used for years. Never had any issue with STG 1 or 2 alum heads sealing coolant, at this compression level. Ed had spoken to Tim at TA, who informed him of the procedures for installing the TA head gaskets, with the cold sealer coating they use... and was concerned because that info conflicted with what I told him..

    But that is because we were talking about a different gasket. Everything Tim told him was correct, for the TA gasket, but not the Fel-Pro 8494 Blue gasket.

    At that time, I realized that I had to do what it took to make this right. I secured a fully equipped shop owned by one of our fellow board members, a customer I had built two engine for in Central CA. He agreed to give me free run of this well equipped personal shop, I could even have spent the night there.

    I checked the airlines for flights, and was fully prepared to fly out there, and do whatever it took to make this right, regardless of what had happened to the engine, or who was at fault. I stand behind my work and my products.... period.

    Everything would have been at my expense. Travel, parts, whatever..

    I was happy to have worked all that out, but when I informed Ed of my plans, he turned me down flat.. all the conflicting input he was getting now had him upset, is the only thing I can figure.. His reasoning for not letting me take the car was that if I took it to the San Jose area, I would get car-jacked, or the car would be stolen some other way.

    AT that point, there was little I could do for him...

    Some time passed.. a few weeks, a month or two maybe..

    I got an email from Ed, saying they had checked the timing, and it was 10* or so retarded. Performance had improved greatly, noise was reduced. I informed him the EFI system will take some time to recalibrate itself, to the new throttle openings/map sensor input.. I am sure it was at it's limits trying to get the engine to run, with the timing that far off.

    So we know that was an issue.. and what we don't know is exactly what that engine went thru on initial startup in the car. If it was overheated, all the gasket issues are often the result. No one other than the techs working on it know what happened.

    And maybe nothing happened, maybe there is a different issue..

    After it was now running better, they went after the oil leaks.. Apparently the oil pan was the biggest culprit, so the shop he is working with, pulled it, and found what is in pan now..

    Keep in mind, no oil pressure issues, no noise, no apparent problem, other than leaks. The oil pan debris needed to be carefully analyzed, to attempt to determine it's origin.

    I suspect that underlying issue here is that Ed told me that this shop was pushing from day one to put a SBC or LS motor in this car. How that is slanting their input/interaction with Ed, I don't know, but suspect it has something to do with it.

    Ed called TA and finally talked to Mike T, instead of whoever answered the phone.. Mike asked him about noise, about oil pressure, and then told me that he informed Ed the best thing to do was clean the pan out, put a new gasket on, and run it. He really did not want to be involved.

    Mike then called me and asked me about it, I talked him into looking at it for me, simply because I felt it was time to get a third party involved here.. Between Ed talking to the phone guys at TA, and the guys at the shop, he had lost faith in me. I can understand that, I just wish he would have allowed me to restore that faith. I would certainly spend whatever time and money it takes to do that, that was never in question.

    Mike called Ed back, and told him TA would inspect the engine, and that is where we are at now. He also informed Ed that I had offered to cover the bill at TA on this.. ED declined that offer.

    When Ed posted on another thread about this, I called Mike's cel phone last Saturday, and asked him if they had looked at it.. They have not, other than one of Mike's guys opened the top on the crate, doing inventory on motor projects, and reported back that "it's painted a goofy color, but looks like new".

    I was told they will be looking into it after the new year.

    Ed, keep the faith.. that is exactly the motor you want for that application. Sure, nobody does it, because it's a lot more complex than going into a dealership and buying a truck.

    Let the last chapter play out yet.

  7. sbrmd

    sbrmd Well-Known Member

    Ed: Keep the faith, "this too shall pass..."

    I want you and the board to know that Jim built me a very similar engine, which early on had inexplicable overheating, then some leaks and symptoms; After some tuning, headscratching, etc., Jim took it back and COMPLETELY ripped it apart and re-did it from scratch at his cost. And I did not ask him to do that, it was his idea. Turned out that the new aluminum radiator I had in the car was the basic culprit! And, he replaced the radiator (which he initially sold me) also at his cost. Neither Jim nor I had an inkling that could be it. But nevertheless, Jim was a totally stand-up guy about it. He has all my respect and trust. Think about this: even though your engine was taken out of his hands, and he had no way of really knowing what happened to it at the hands of others, Jim offered to travel ~ 2,000 miles, completely at his cost, to rectify the problem. And let's not forget, "his cost" also includes lost production at home while he's gone. And he wasn't just coming with a screwdriver and a vise-grip; he secured a complete shop to effect the job. Who does that?

    Even factory-built, mass-produced engines, designed and tested by huge corporate teams with millions of dollars, have teething problems; that's what warrantees (sp?) are for. We are in a bespoke Buick world. Our journeys to farfignugen (is that how VW spelled it?) are by definition long and winding. Despite your current disgruntlement, I have faith that this will come out right.
  8. Brad Conley

    Brad Conley Super Moderator Staff Member

    I will only say one thing as far as the cam selection is concerned. I have no dog in this fight.

    In my 1985 GMC tilt-rollback, in which is installed a 455 Buick, I had a blueprint Stage 1 camshaft installed. The torque is outstanding and, using premium fuel, no detonation what-so-ever. The pistons are forged 9.5 static compression pistons. This thing will climb ANY hill with TWO cars (one on the bed, one in an enclosed trailer) and still get 12 mpg. My point is to backup what JW installed for camshaft and to say I have a similar setup and, with proper timing, will pull any hill at will. Gears are 3.73's (7.50 x 16 truck tires which will kill the gear), so RPM is a perfect 2500 at 65 mph. Right in the torque band.
  9. 436'd Skylark

    436'd Skylark Sweet Fancy Moses!!!!!

    Re: The sad story (Re: The grand adventures of a trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    I don't really think this is fair statement. I think most people followed your build because it was interesting and different. I started reading/following after the motor choice was made. From what I can gather, you made a decision about the motor before your build was mentioned on V8buick. However, I can easily understand your frustrations and need to vent.

    Seems like Jim's offer was more than fair. Ironically, had he been the man to pull the oil pan and see the shavings he could have made the necessary arrangements and diagnosis right then and there. Hindsight is 20/20 for sure. With luck you should be back in business soon.

    If I were you, I'd arrange for TA to ship the motor to Jim. He built it, he is the man for the job..
  10. 300sbb_overkill

    300sbb_overkill WWG1WGA. MAGA

    Ed seems to be a decent guy although naive when it comes to engines and gearing and such. That being said I think the shop he has the car at doing the R&R work is more than likely the incompetent culprits to the demise of the 448. Its a lot easier for someone to point a finger at the guy not in the room when he can't defend himself.

    Who installs an engine that was shipped thousands of miles away and doesn't at least check the timing when it first gets started!?!? And who are these guys, did they test drive the car like they stole it with the timing wrong? Plus how long did Ed drive the car with the wrong timing with the bad gearing IMO for the 200R4.:rant: Rant over I wish Ed the best of luck I hope every thing works out for him but I'm on Jim's side on this one.

  11. buick64203

    buick64203 Just plum crazy Staff Member

    I think its premature to start pointing fingers. The engine hasn't even been broken down yet. It could very well be the fault of the converter. Also, driving it with 22 degrees of total timing isn't going to damage the engine. At worst it would be a little sluggy. No chance of them detonating it either. And even if the shop took the car for a couple of test drives (which isn't unusual), there's no reason to suspect they abused the car. Orinda Motors seems to be a reputable shop from the pictures posted, their website and reviews. They seem to enjoy working on the older cars. And even if they did pound on it a little, a Buick 455 cant take a few burnouts in the parking lot??
  12. 300sbb_overkill

    300sbb_overkill WWG1WGA. MAGA

    I wasn't pointing fingers, I was expressing my opinion on who the finger pointers are and why Ed has an attitude against Jim and won't let him fix the engine. If Jim flew in a fixed it Orinda wouldn't be getting paid yet again now would they? Just sayin, I could be wrong and hopefully I am but from where I'm sitting that's how I see it.:Do No:

  13. guyrobert

    guyrobert Guyrobert

    Re: The sad story (Re: The grand adventures of a trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    Sorry guys, you need to do a little soul-searching . . .

    Edourard, You might want to rethink this statement .. this forum is an incredible asset of BUICK/carguys, they have given you all kinds of advise that you can take or not (all for free).
    Many of us have gone through similar issues to you with big $$$$ spent and equal or worse results.
    Even a someone as as green as you allege, would quickly understand that a 500 hp build is not the best option to tow and get good gas mileage.
    I am rooting for you and hope you get this sorted
  14. sriley531

    sriley531 Buckle up, this could get rough....

    Re: The sad story (Re: The grand adventures of a trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    I didn't post what I originally wrote, but I too was rubbed the wrong way with the "you guys need to do some soul searching" comment. Pointing the finger at the forum members who gave input that was asked for seems pretty weak in my opinion. When you come on to a public forum asking for input, it is your sole responsibility to do your due diligence and dissect the good info from the bad and realize what input applies to your goals and what doesn't. This is a public forum with only god knows who on the other keyboard. Alot of great info is shared, but you still cant take every word as gospel. As I go back a reread the build posts on this, I sure don't see a definitive point where member made wholesale changes to this build or made anyone take a sharp detour from the original build intent, so I must say deflecting the blame in such a way sure doesn't jive too well.

    But again, good luck Edouard, hope you get it worked out.
  15. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    Quick replies before the storm. (Re: Trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    Dear Jim, Randal, and fans of my trusty Buick,

    Unfortunately, I'm really under the gun because of a very severe storm that is supposed to strike Northern California on Wednesday. I really need to run around make sure I've battened down all the hatches so to speak. But just a few quick points.

    I understand your own suspicions considering that Orinda Motors is also 1500 miles away from your shop. However, I have very good reason to have confidence in Orinda Motors, they do this sort of work and do it well. My friend John who owns the 1957 Chevy Bel Air that has been in photographs next to Biquette was inspired to have a 1971 Chevelle modified into a sleeper muscle car. Orinda Motors put a Chevy ZZ383 engine in it, Mated it to a Art Carr 200-4R, Installed a sports suspension, custom rear end, Upgraded the car to 4-wheel disc brakes, installed a custom dash John fabricated himself - the works. It took 6 months, but the car is running and John is extremely pleased.

    Jim you were horrified by the Orinda Motors labor charges and you betch'ca I paid through the nose having the work done on Biquette. But what you need to realize is that not only are the prices high in Bay Area in general, but Orinda Motors is among the most expensive independent shops around. Still, they have plenty of business. They are that good that they can charge as much as they do and people will pay it. In many cases people try to have a car repaired on the cheap but end up bringing it back to Orinda Motors to repair the damage. Greg has become quite a turnaround artist.

    Okay, so now to the matter of that cam . . . . . .

    There is something really fishy on this particular issue. Jim isn't the only one to insist that this cam should be smooth and quiet all the way down to idle. Hey, that's exactly what I want. However, something is causing this engine to have precisely the behavior of a more aggressive cam. I started to get annoyed in the autumn of 2013 because all the car-guys was complimenting on my "hot rod." There was no doubt in their mind that this was an aggressive cam and they assumed that is what a wanted - don't all car-guy want that?

    When I drove Biquette, the engine would be making sounds that seem to be of great laboring in the low RPM ranges: idle to 1500. Pulling out from a stoplight on to a 35 mph street would make a horrible engine roar, while our 2000 Buick Century just accelerates without the engine noticeably working at all. Even at higher RPMs the engine roars a lot more than I expected. The engine really doesn't come into its own until around 2500-3000 RPM. Oddly that is exactly what John is experiencing with this ZZ383 and that engine also has a lot of low-end torque for a performance engine. Another thing that I find disturbing is that having listened to the ZZ383, it sure sounds more civilized than Biquette's engine did.

    All these are pure observations and I'm the neophyte around here - but I am very puzzled . . . .

    Yesterday, Mike Tomaszewski was nice enough to get on the phone and give me an update on the situation. Apparently this news has caused a buzz in the Buick community. I expressed my concerns about the cam in Biquette's engine and he also insisted I should have smooth torque all the way to idle. However, he called the cam a "Stage-1 RV" cam.

    Hmm, that I just can't resist!

    [​IMG] A stage-1 RV cam!! OMG!
    The performance industry has complete overlooked a huge market niche - Snow birds!!

    Wow I can't wait to see the first RVs squaring off . . . . . At the drag strip!!!! :3gears:

    Uh, is anybody else getting a little worried that this just might be a little too much trying to have your cake and eat it too? [​IMG]

    I went back to the computer simulations that sent me off on this wild project. Here the simulated dyno runs:


    You know, even with the wimpiest cam on earth, this engine would be really impressive. Those simulations don't include the improvements to reduce friction and only assume Stage-1 heads.

    So, that's my quandary. What I have say is that right now Mom doesn't want to ride Biquette because she is so loud and therefore unpleasant to ride in. I can't pass the "Mom test" with this car I've completely failed. So something has got to change.

    Oh well, . . . . Edouard
  16. TheSilverBuick

    TheSilverBuick In the Middle of No Where

    A good exhaust system should quiet it down tremendously. I'm not sure what exhaust is on the car, but that can be the difference between roar and drone and silent moving like a Buick should. The tall gearing in the car currently will make the engine "louder" (aka would quiet up a bit with steeper gears), but it should be manageable with the right exhaust system. The exhaust system has to be considered when dealing with exhaust noises, its more than just the engine. I've had four different exhaust systems on my Firebird and two different ones on my Skylark and there is a considerable difference in noise from each. I've also found with my Skylark, the leaner the engine runs the quieter it is. The difference between running at 13.5:1 AFR and 15+:1 AFR is significant, at ALL rpm. It could be the EFI system was still learning and running a bit on the rich "safe" side. Conversely, my Centurion has said "Isky RV" cam in it, with a paltry .450" lift, no compression engine, and it bellows at all rpm with it's dual exhaust glass packs. My Dad's friend jokes it should be smogged at a marina because it sounds like a boat engine you can hear a block away. This is my shared experience, value it how ever you will.

    The gearing, I still say drive it plenty with the stock gearing, it should be fine with a 200-4r. Buick's in the early 80's came with 2.73 gears, tall tires and 200-4r's. It's an acceptable combination from the factory. Referring to Brad's post about towing, with your current gearing, if you leave the transmission in 3rd (1:1) gear for most towing, you'd be right around 2300-2500rpm, just like Brad's truck combination. Of course on the flat lands it should do just fine in OD if the manufacturer of the transmissions says so.

    Roller cams do make it relatively easy to have your cake and eat it too. I don't believe either Jim or Mike would lead you astray on the rpm and power properties of the engine. If anything, for comfort purposes, ask for a slightly lower spec'd cam to replace the one in the car, though I don't believe it actually necessary.

    Again, I am sadden to hear all of this :(
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  17. 300sbb_overkill

    300sbb_overkill WWG1WGA. MAGA

    Re: Quick replies before the storm. (Re: Trusty "billy-goat" Wagon!)

    Wow, I need to move to that "Bay area", that job that took 6 months to do I could of done by myself in a week working on it part time in my garage!(minus the dash, that's an extra 2 days part time) Seriously? It took 6 months to install an un-impressive over priced crate engine, off the shelf brake conversion, off the shelf suspension components and a mail order trans? Again, WOW!! Hopefully it took 6 months to get to that job not do it, if it was me I would have him order the parts(or do it for him as long as he pays for them) and when they were all there and I was ready for the car have him drop the it off and get er done. You probably would of been better off sending the whole car to Jim and you betch'ca you probably would of saved a ton of $$$ and would be good to go by now.

    That shop owner must be one silver tongued devil of a salesman and lucky to boot because he doesn't have any competition. I'm sorry you don't have anywhere good to take your vehicles there, so many good shops out this way with not enough customers.

    Also if the engine is to loud get quieter mufflers! GL

  18. Jim Weise

    Jim Weise 1000+HP

    Easy Derek... no need to get to carried away here..


    Don't make any judgments until you get the motor back, all healthy and fresh from TA, and tuned properly.

    Go listen to the engine idle at the end of the dyno video that is in the first post of your engine build.. it idled nearly dead smooth at 700 rpm, with no lope at all. No one would comment on the "nice cam".. it sounds stock.

    The way it was in the car there, with the timing way off, it would in fact sound like it had more cam.. this also affects the EFI greatly, and even after they found and corrected the timing, it would take a while to re-learn.

    Also, there is a setting for idle speed in the EFI control.. if your idling the thing at 500 rpm, you would hear the cam.. you could on a stock Stage 1 back in the day, if you idled it way down.

    If their is some reason for a loss of compression in the engine, it will run funny..

    Don't throw the $600 cam out yet, I drove that cam in a properly tuned car, it is as tame as a pussy cat.

    Don't think I am trying to defend my choices.. it's not about that.. I have built that motor 3 times now, and they are very tame, when everything is right.

    I wish I would have known about the "mom test" because it would have Stage 1 Alum heads and exhaust manifolds on it.

    I suggest that you have the boys pull the carpet back, and install dynamat on the floorboards. That will deaden the header noise.

    Good luck, I really hope things work out for you Ed..
  19. 300sbb_overkill

    300sbb_overkill WWG1WGA. MAGA

    Sorry Jim and Ed I couldn't help myself, 6 months though?:eek2:

  20. buick64203

    buick64203 Just plum crazy Staff Member

    If it was me or you in our garage, I would agree with you. But you have to take into account this is a full service repair shop. They have their regular. day to day clientele who are bringing them their daily drivers to fix. So these projects are usually used as "fill in" work when there is lull in the action. Sometimes these projects are done after hours or when the shop is closed. Plus, if a part is needed to complete something, it usually throws a monkey wrench in the works if it has to be ordered. So I can understand the time involved.

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