1 (edited by timburrman 2018-05-21 11:02 PM)

Topic: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

So as fate would have it, I was given a 1994 Camaro by a co worker who happens to be a mechanic. I am not a mechanic. More like a Golf Pro... Wait, if a mechanic gives you a car for free, should you be concerned?? Probably not....  So the car had a blown head gasket when it was parked 8+ years ago in a car port.  A few years later he and his wife divorced and the car stayed at her house. Eventually she asked him to remove the car but there were a couple of issues. The flat tires had dry rotted to the point the side walls had completely failed and won't take air. But the bigger challenge was that he had lost the keys. The car is jammed against the fence with no way to unlock the steering to maneuver the car out.  Conveniently he neglects to tell me these "challenges" when he offers the car for free, just come and pick it up. When I arrive with the trailer to take ownership of said vehicle, I realize what I am up against.  Send in the guy with flatbed, plastic skids and soapy water to get this fine machine loaded up.

I wish I had a camera rolling when the car showed up at the house because I would have appreciated the group deciphering the look on my wife's face when she saw it. Well to late now, here it is and its here to stay.  I am going to need a whole bunch of help from this illustrious group as I am a novice at best with a wrench. So here we go!

I am guessing a tear down and sell off parts is first.
Interior is crap as most poorly sealed Camaro's are.
Remove excessive wire from harness and other items not needed. Such as smog, ac, seat belts, climate control, door locks, power windows, turn signals etc.
Begin to assess motor work that needs to be done. This car was not stored properly so many rubber bits will need to be replaced

I will attach some picture and keep you posted on the progress of this build. Wish me luck!!

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Good luck.  Get the car on a lift and make sure it is something you can build.  Is is rusted beyond hope?  If not, then proceed.   I think stripping interior and cleaning the car of all of it smells is a good first step.   I would avoid messing with any wiring (except disabling air bags) till you get the car ready to race and maybe even race it once before you start messing with wiring.   It’s ok to unhook and remove accessories, but leave the wiring intact. Messing with wiring when you don’t know what you are doing is asking for trouble.

LemonAid - Changing kids lives one lap at a time.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

timburrman wrote:

Wait, if a mechanic gives you a car for free, should you be concerned?? Probably not....

If a mechanic gives you a car for free, it means that he can't fix it and make a profit on it.  He can't sell it for more than the cost of parts that it would take to fix it.

Good Luck with it.

--Rob Leone Schumacher Taxi Service
We won the IOE at Southern Discomfort.
We got screwed at The Real Hoopties of New Jersey  and we took cars down with us.
We got the curse at Capitol Offense but they wouldn't let us destroy the car.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

TeamLemon-aid wrote:

Good luck.  Get the car on a lift and make sure it is something you can build.  Is is rusted beyond hope?  If not, then proceed.   I think stripping interior and cleaning the car of all of it smells is a good first step.   I would avoid messing with any wiring (except disabling air bags) till you get the car ready to race and maybe even race it once before you start messing with wiring.   It’s ok to unhook and remove accessories, but leave the wiring intact. Messing with wiring when you don’t know what you are doing is asking for trouble.

This right here, re: wiring.  Unless you are or have an expert in the car don't cut shit out of the harness just yet.  Or one day when it STILL won't run right you discover its because of that connector you removed that you thought powered the rear hatch release but was actually something way more important.

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 22x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
Craptain, Team Farfrumwinnin - 1995 Volkswagen Golf #14
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Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

To give an example... I was getting a 2001 BMW E46 ready for cage install when I unhooked the head light switch.  Didn’t cut anything, just unhooked it while working on something else.  Several hours later after the interior was stripped I went to start the car and it wouldn’t start.  Nothing. Checked battery, etc. Nothing.  Called my team mate who is a BMW mechanic and his first comment is, “You unhooked the headlight switch didn’t you.”   Plugged that back in and the car started right up.  If I didn’t have him to call, it would’ve taken me a very long time to figure that out.

LemonAid - Changing kids lives one lap at a time.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Assuming manageable rust, first thing I'd do is make it run/drive so you can assess what you have.  If it's been sitting with water in the cylinders for 8 years, the engine is probably not worth fixing.  Having something that moves under it's own power makes things a bit easier.

1990 RX7 "Mazdarita" 
1994 Jaguar XJ12 (Winner C-Class 2013 Sears Pointless)
1964 Sunbeam Imp (IOE 2013 Sears Pointless)
1980 Rover SD1 (I Got Screwed 2014 Return of Lemonites) (Sold -> Houston.  Gone and forgotten)

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

If this is your first build, start simple. Get the car running first. Make sure it is worth the time to build the vehicle. Once it runs, then start stripping the interior and preparing for the cage. You are not a mechanic, so I wouldn't remove any engine components or wires from the harness. The first build won't be perfect, nor does it need to be perfect.

1992 Saturn SL2 (retired) - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner
1996 Saturn SW2 - Elmo's Revenge (reborn!), Saturn SL1 - needs a theme
1974 AMC Javelin - Oscar's Trash heap - Organizer's Choice

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

TeamLemon-aid wrote:

To give an example... I was getting a 2001 BMW E46 ready for cage install when I unhooked the head light switch.  Didn’t cut anything, just unhooked it while working on something else.  Several hours later after the interior was stripped I went to start the car and it wouldn’t start.  Nothing. Checked battery, etc. Nothing.  Called my team mate who is a BMW mechanic and his first comment is, “You unhooked the headlight switch didn’t you.”   Plugged that back in and the car started right up.  If I didn’t have him to call, it would’ve taken me a very long time to figure that out.


Same thing happened with our prior car the VW Fox.  They used to joke because it still had the factory door chime.  However if you disconnected it, the car wouldn't start lol.

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 22x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
Craptain, Team Farfrumwinnin - 1995 Volkswagen Golf #14
Click here to "Like" us on Facebook   Click here for our Youtube Videos
Lifetime Achievement (of hopelessness) Award Winners

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

TeamLemon-aid wrote:

To give an example... I was getting a 2001 BMW E46 ready for cage install when I unhooked the head light switch.  Didn’t cut anything, just unhooked it while working on something else.  Several hours later after the interior was stripped I went to start the car and it wouldn’t start.  Nothing. Checked battery, etc. Nothing.  Called my team mate who is a BMW mechanic and his first comment is, “You unhooked the headlight switch didn’t you.”   Plugged that back in and the car started right up.  If I didn’t have him to call, it would’ve taken me a very long time to figure that out.

Certain 70's-80's BMW's have a starter lock-out when the hazards are turned on...and it thinks they are turned on if the switch is removed without jumpering a couple of important connections.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

One note on the 4th gen f-body...we have one waiting for a build...the cage will require decent thought regarding ingress and egress if you have tall drivers.  It has been done many times so it is not at all impossible, but it does require careful planning or going exo-cage with a center bar for helmet clearance (kinda the easy button).

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Appreciate any and all advice! Time to get the scrubbing bubbles and degreaser out to see what we have to work with and get her up on jack stands. Probably just going to go ahead and drop the motor since the gen 4 is such a pain to get to the rear of the engine and I know it needs at least a new head gasket. I.e. "Smoked when parked". 

Going to drain and refill all fluids including fuel and then get to work on the steering lock and add a push button starter since there are no keys ...... It is a chipped key so Chevy has to do a search for what chip was in the car originally and then make a key.  Hopefully the ignition wasn't changed out or its back to square one. So why not a fancy push button start, from China. One the steering wheel is freed up I can wrestle it into the garage where it will likely cause me much grief and anguish for the next few (probably a year) months.

Wish me luck!

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Oh, also about the wiring, find out if there is a fuel pump reset switch.  Some cars had them in case of an impact it would cut power to the fuel pump.  We had one on ours and it was the reason no power was getting to the pump.  Pressed the button, we have power, and a bad fuel pump (they go bad when sitting in a gas tank 3/4 of the way full for 17 years, and the smell....)

Skip "Mongo" L.
Team DadBod

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

timburrman wrote:

and add a push button starter since there are no keys ...... It is a chipped key so Chevy has to do a search for what chip was in the car originally and then make a key.  Hopefully the ignition wasn't changed out or its back to square one. So why not a fancy push button start, from China.

Unfortunately it's likely not going to be as simple as just putting in a push button. The 4th gen F-body, like other GM cars from the era is equipped with VATS (vehicle anti-theft system). On the early models there is a separate module that lives behind the dash that reads the a resistance value from the key, and then transmits a signal to the ECU to enable the fuel injection. The internet claims there were only 15 different resistance values used, so you could buy the appropriate resistors and do it by trial and error. There's lots of info out there on how to bypass VATS.

Someone on this forum has probably also been through this issue and can provide guidance. The later 4th gens (97 and up I believe) had VATS integrated into the ECU which requires that it be flashed out. Your earlier model should have the separate module which you can in theory bypass.

Sorry For Party Racing! - 1985 Pontiac Firebird - Car #35

A race car exists only in two states: broken or in the process of becoming that way.

14 (edited by rover67 2018-05-22 09:13 AM)

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

You should get it running before doing any wiring that is not totally necessary.

GM VATS can be a bear. If you futz with the PCM too much (power on and off for example) it cuts spark for 30 mins or something. Pass key enables/disables the fuel pump. You can buy an aftermarket pass key module to feed the computer the right signal (30 or 50hz), just find the pin to it on the PCM and wire it there. It should be labeled VATS on the wiring diagram. Try amazon. That's what I did.

I have also heard if you use the wrong resistance value too many times the pass key module can lock you out (not just the VATS module but also the PCM). So trying a bunch (of the 15 possible) can make you have a real bad day. If you know the right resistance value which you can measure from the key, you can solder that resistor into your module. That can be better than a key since the contacts in the ignition switch for that resistor wear and cause problems.

you can also build a module for only a few bucks if you want to do it that way. Search the internets for a diagram.

You can also get Tunercat and program it out.

VATS alone can have you scratching your head for a while.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

moose72 wrote:

Oh, also about the wiring, find out if there is a fuel pump reset switch.  Some cars had them in case of an impact it would cut power to the fuel pump.  We had one on ours and it was the reason no power was getting to the pump.  Pressed the button, we have power, and a bad fuel pump (they go bad when sitting in a gas tank 3/4 of the way full for 17 years, and the smell....)

In addition to all the good VATS information mentioned in the past 2 posts, this is correct about the car as well.  I had a 99 TA and it had an inertia switch which would kill the fuel pump in the event of a spin (looped it autocrossing a couple times).  Something else to keep in mind.

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 22x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
Craptain, Team Farfrumwinnin - 1995 Volkswagen Golf #14
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Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Step one is to get a team member that is a mechanic, or at least thinks she is.
Step two is buy another car that is ready to race.   See the $5000 thread...
Step three is put in your location.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

I'd say Step 1...if your serious about racing a 4th Gen F Body become VERY good friends with the Sorry For The Party gang...they have had the most successful streak of finishes (for that particular vehicle) in all of Lemons. Many important secrets inside their camp...

#9 Scooby Doo Car known as the Mystery Machine and the #44 Audi 4KQ painted as a tribute car to the 1989 IMSA  car driven by Haywood, Stuck, and Rohrl.

18 (edited by timburrman 2018-05-22 01:56 PM)

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

https://imageshack.com/a/img924/3843/vO7a8K.jpg

https://imageshack.com/a/img921/930/Z75uGC.jpg

https://imageshack.com/a/img921/8191/8usdJS.jpg

https://imageshack.com/a/img921/7894/fO7omB.jpg

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Wow.... I'd wear a hazmat suit before I touched that thing.....

Tom Lomino - Proud to be a 22x Lemons Loser, 3x Class B, and 1x IOE Winner!
Craptain, Team Farfrumwinnin - 1995 Volkswagen Golf #14
Click here to "Like" us on Facebook   Click here for our Youtube Videos
Lifetime Achievement (of hopelessness) Award Winners

20 (edited by Fishah 2018-05-22 02:46 PM)

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Jesus that car is rough. Fortunately none of that matters.

Is it rotting/rusty underneath though? If so, it's probably going to be cheaper to scrap this and buy a new car.

#928 Porsche 928 - West German Pushrodders

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GM-VATS-or-PAS … Sw3fZZ6JWY

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Thanks Spank that will be helpful!

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Mysterymachine wrote:

I'd say Step 1...if your serious about racing a 4th Gen F Body become VERY good friends with the Sorry For The Party gang...they have had the most successful streak of finishes (for that particular vehicle) in all of Lemons. Many important secrets inside their camp...

I am fortunate to have one of the SFP guys, Matt F, on my squad. Due to proximity he will only be wrenching over the phone however....

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

piper.gras wrote:
timburrman wrote:

and add a push button starter since there are no keys ...... It is a chipped key so Chevy has to do a search for what chip was in the car originally and then make a key.  Hopefully the ignition wasn't changed out or its back to square one. So why not a fancy push button start, from China.

Unfortunately it's likely not going to be as simple as just putting in a push button. The 4th gen F-body, like other GM cars from the era is equipped with VATS (vehicle anti-theft system). On the early models there is a separate module that lives behind the dash that reads the a resistance value from the key, and then transmits a signal to the ECU to enable the fuel injection. The internet claims there were only 15 different resistance values used, so you could buy the appropriate resistors and do it by trial and error. There's lots of info out there on how to bypass VATS.

Someone on this forum has probably also been through this issue and can provide guidance. The later 4th gens (97 and up I believe) had VATS integrated into the ECU which requires that it be flashed out. Your earlier model should have the separate module which you can in theory bypass.

Yes this one should have a separate VATS unit. My plan is to bypass the entire thing. Since there is no key testing the Ohms isn't an option and guessing wrong 14 times (Murphy's law ) doesn't sound like much fun either.

Re: My first build. I mean how hard can it be?!?

Fishah wrote:

Jesus that car is rough. Fortunately none of that matters.

Is it rotting/rusty underneath though? If so, it's probably going to be cheaper to scrap this and buy a new car.

Actually looks decent underneath. The carport might have saved its life.

https://imageshack.com/i/pmx1Rx0kj