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 Sherlock's 96 white wagon

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Oct 22, 2020 11:14 pm

Hey guys, it's about time I posted up my project.  I've owned B-bodies since 2003, but in late 2013 my fourth Roadmaster wagon sadly caught fire a week after I bought it and was a total loss. I had just moved 1000 miles south and with a new job, three young kids and a whole new city, I needed to simplify. So I sold all three of my B-bodies and just drove minivans for 5 years.

My dad suddenly passed away in fall 2017 and the next summer I ended up inheriting his '96 Impala SS (Dark Cherry, the car I always wanted). It was drivable but needed a lot of work. I was going to sell it, but shortly after I got it to my house the buyer flaked out, so I just drove it and remembered why these cars are so fun (especially compared to minivans!).  My wife and I decided to sell one minivan and make the SS my daily driver (which you can do in the Southern US), so I started disassembling it to restore. (That build will be over at www.impalassforum.com).

Four months later, while looking for parts, I located a 96 Roadmaster wagon project about 2 hours north of me. The owner had started to build it but hit some snags and health problems and it had been sitting partially disassembled for two years. I figured SURELY he'd be willing to sell some parts from his stash, but no, he said he wanted to sell the whole thing together, and he made me an extremely compelling offer. So I did what any self-respecting guy would do, I told him I'd talk to my wife and call him back.

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2013

We talked it over and decided to go ahead and buy the wagon. So we loaded it up with parts, loaded my minivan full of parts, and he trailered it to my house.  

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_11

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_10

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Oct 22, 2020 11:17 pm

The old girl looked good on the highway, heading to a new home and finally, a future.

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_12
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_13

The seller was super nice, but he had several other projects he really wanted to get done. Hopefully when this wagon is finished I'll be able reconnect with him and we'll go for a drive.

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Ruphraxe



Posts : 65
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Charleston, SC

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 8:44 pm

Hurry up and get it done, Joel. I'm ready for a South Carolina WagonFest. You can park your 16U WB4 next to mine.

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Bo310

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm

Working on it my friend. Slowly.  First order of business - that extra motor was a 383 shortblock the previous owner had bought from a local F-body guy. I took it to a local machine shop to get it inspected. Can you believe this is only the second motor I've ever disassembled? (despite 22+ 4L60Es...)

Local race shop, one man show, an engine building genius.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_15

Pistons were at stock height, 0.026-0.028" down in the bores. 10cc reliefs in the pistons.

Rings in very good shape, a lot of dirt had gotten on the piston walls - K&N air filter (or none) maybe?. Didn't look like a lot of miles on it.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_14

"Well that's interesting" said the machinist as he examined the creative neutral balancing job on the front of the crankshaft. You actually had to rotate the crack to get the front connecting rods out.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_16

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 9:02 pm

Crankshaft appears to be an Eagle cast (budget) crankshaft.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_17
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_18

Pistons are Speed Pro 0.030" over cast pistons.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2014

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 9:07 pm

Oil pump drive gear appears ok for now but starting to wear. Despite the fact that it had a high volume oil pump (unnecessary unless you have really loose bearings, need for turbocharger lubrication or piston squirters).  

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_19

Cam bearings look pretty worn. Turns out there was a pretty high lift cam in it. Maybe this was a high-mileage block somebody machined 30 over and stuffed a budget stroker rotating assembly into?
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_20

ARP connecting rod bolts on Eagle SR (stock-replacement) rods. My in-the-know contact says those are weaker than stock LT1 rods. Huh. Also note the non-cooler oil filter adapter. We never did check to see if the filter bypass was stuck open. You'll see why I mention this in a later post.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_21

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 10:23 pm

Then we pull the rods off the crank.  And find a mess. This was one of the better rod bearings. Not worn out but what a lot of trash in the bearings.

Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_24

Looks like someone left pieces of metal wire brush in the oil galleys.  Two rod bearings got totally trenched too. This is one of the crank journals.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_22

The crank would clean up with a polish, and new bearings would fix it, but sheesh!  Cleanliness is a virtue, especially with engine building!
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_23

So, short block is usable but nothing amazing. Next post we'll go through the ported LT4 cylinder heads that came with it and see what condition they're in.

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lamune

lamune

Posts : 754
Join date : 2014-05-09
Location : Seattle

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeWed Oct 28, 2020 11:48 pm

Thanks for posting this Sherlock - I'm curious about a 383 LT1 build so to see this is interesting. Also seems like a lot of "what not to do" lessons here as well.
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BuickRM



Posts : 118
Join date : 2016-02-06
Location : Germany

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Oct 29, 2020 7:24 am

Sorry, but you shouldn´t waste your time and money with this crank. Even looks as there might be a crack starting from the oil hole. A crank where´s someone has welded on together with this poor condition of the journals should be scrapped. You told that it´s a budget one so don´t risk a blow up with this sort of junk. Polishing wouldn´t fix it, not even grinding. Talk to a professionell engine builder about his opinion. I do engines since 40 years over here in Germany....no one would use this crank any more...
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Serendipity96

Serendipity96

Posts : 79
Join date : 2017-12-18
Location : Clearwater, FL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Oct 29, 2020 10:01 am

had to laugh at the - gotta call the wife and ask permission - sounds like you have an understanding one... a 'keeper'
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94Woody

94Woody

Posts : 1938
Join date : 2008-12-02
Age : 45
Location : Belleview,FL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Oct 29, 2020 6:55 pm

An Eagle CAST crank? Throw that thing in a dumpster. I've read plenty of horror stories involving those boat anchors. The horrible backyard redneck balancing job is hilarious.

Looks like somebody built that engine next to a grinder, on the beach, during a wind storm. I've torn apart million mile diesels with less damage.

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 9:06 am

Moving on...

The seller had acquired a ported LT4 top end. LT4 specs are well documented online so I'll let you go look there for info. These have not been available new for quite some time so they're a bit rare.  The LT4 intake manifold is also unique, specifically matched to the heads.  

Chambers have more of a quench pad just above the exhaust valve relative to LT1 heads. That slight step down from the head surface shows that they have not been milled. As there is evidence of coolant in the heads, these have had run time, but whomever cleaned them before porting cleaned them very well. Unfortunately the stock LT4 valves are no longer in place, having been replaced with 2.02 / 1.60 valves. The stock LT4 exhaust valve was hollow and sodium-filled, for light weight and cooling. I hope those ended up in a motor and not as a nasty surprise in the scrapyard when crushed.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2017
If you notice the scratches on the left side, the seller had stored the heads on the block, and wasn't always the most careful at lining them up with the dowel pins. Probably not going to kill the head gaskets, but still...

I'm no expert on porting but the intake and exhaust ports look very nice.  Short side radii were very continuous; no sharp radii or other bumps.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2016

This closeup makes the throat line look worse than it is. It really was very smooth.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2015


Last edited by sherlock9c1 on Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:24 am; edited 2 times in total

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 9:18 am

As stated earlier, the cam that came with the motor was way too wild for a heavy street car, so I'll need flow data in order to pick a cam. Off to the local speed shop to have the heads flowed.
BTW here's the LT4 heads part number:
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_25

They had this sitting in the lobby.  A NASCAR hemi from back in the day. The exhaust header primaries were huge, perhaps 2.25"?  It was for sale. I didn't ask about the price.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Mvimg_26
I did ask what was new in the performance industry and they said the Holley Stealth EFI (the one that looks like a 4-barrel carburetor) was selling like hotcakes and every single person who installed one loved it. Why people still use carbureters baffles me.

And the data everyone cares about. I specifically asked for an extra reading at 0.050" lift to help my cam guy.  Flow picks up pretty quickly over stock as the valves open. They added some extra lines at the bottom and found that flow stayed at 252CFM all the way to .700 (although I have no intention of opening a valve that much). Exhaust flow at .700" was interesting - when they added a pipe to the port, they picked up 16CFM. Exhaust manifolds/headers matter.  How you test matters.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2018

Unfortunately they were not able to bolt up the intake manifold or the headers I had for it, but at least we have a baseline.  They made a photocopy and put it into this huge binder.  I asked if I could thumb through the binder; boy they had tested a lot of heads over the years. Interestingly I found where they had flowed a stock LS1 head, and the intake flow alone was as good as the best SBC race head they'd ever tested up to that date. Why does everyone swap LS motors?  The intake port.

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beertestr



Posts : 96
Join date : 2014-11-18

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 11:11 am

Dude, in all the conversations we've had on this build, you never showed me to Goober-balanced crank. I'm at the crossroads of "WTF?"& "Meh, if it works it works." Never ever assume you've seen it all. Here's a pic of a "had some bottomed end noise" crank.
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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
Location : Huntsville, AL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 11:46 am

FWIW, that crank ran in a drag-raced F-body, and probably at pretty high RPM too, although not with those LT4 heads. The cam that was in it was supposedly for nitrous... just sayin'.  I'm not defending the crankshaft, or the work. But I'm sure you've seen stuff people drive on the street and scratch your head.

Here's the pic that Beertestr referenced:
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2019

Speaking of garbage, this car was at a local shop for "a coolant leak and possible transmission issue."  Would you drive it into the bay?
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Pxl_2010
Or push it?


Last edited by sherlock9c1 on Fri Oct 30, 2020 6:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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94Woody

94Woody

Posts : 1938
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Age : 45
Location : Belleview,FL

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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 5:37 pm

Drive it. That is why we have seat covers and paper floor mats. Of course I work on garbage trucks, dump trucks, etc every day so that picture is nothing. Take a look in the sleeper of the average tractor trailer some time.

You want gross? Try pulling the transmission on a garbage truck that has a fully loaded hopper and has been sitting in the Florida Sun for a week or two. The stream of regular maggots is nothing compared to when the Soldier Flies show up Wink
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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeFri Oct 30, 2020 6:42 pm

Oh, forgot to post about the ported LT4 intake (P/N 12550631). These are pretty rare, but the powdercoating doesn't hold up that great over time. Porting looked decent.

Bored out for larger throttle body.  That huge idle port right behind the opening was significantly smoothed too.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2021

Down the hatch.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2020

All the way up and down the runners. I wonder how much this really adds, since outside of some casting flash and maybe a little more radius at the start, the LT1 intake runners are pretty large and smooth to start with, especially compared to the TPI runners it replaced on the L98.
Sherlock's 96 white wagon Img_2022

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Nov 12, 2020 12:18 am

A number of you privately reached out to me with major concerns about that crankshaft. Just goes to show you why it's always important to inspect before you buy.

Well, could I put this pile o' parts together and run it? Let's do some math. Between the tiny 54.0cc LT4 combustion chambers (I had them CC'd at a local speed shop), pistons 0.026-28 in the hole, measly 5cc relief in the pistons, using a FelPro 1074 0.039" head gasket I was at 11.75:1 static compression ratio (SCR), and would still have .065+" quench (ideal is 0.040").  If I had the decks milled down to get flush with the pistons, I was at 12.7:1 SCR. So my only options were to buy new pistons or go with larger CC heads like Trick Flows. Well shoot, I have a mediocre shortblock with good heads that is going to cost money to make work.

Why is quench such a big deal? Because it reduces places where carbon can deposit (which create hot spots) and increases mixing, which reduces lean spots inside the cylinder, requiring less overfueling and thus a more efficient, more knock-resistant burn.

So I turned to LT1 Nation on Facebook and other for sale sites and quickly found a number of complete LT1 engines for sale. LS swaps have made built LT1 motors dirt cheap. Eventually I made a deal on an extremely well built LT1, designed, assembled and tuned by a well-known shop, with only 10k miles on it. It looks brand new inside. The seller is a great guy. I am keeping the specs a secret but I'll just say it's very stout and was a fabulous street motor in the car it was originally installed in.

I ended up selling the LT4 heads and intake separately on Ebay. The gnarly short block went to a good friend who's fully aware of what he bought. With iron heads and factory head gaskets, it would be a great 10.85:1 street 383 for short money.  By the time I was done selling all those parts, the cost of the other motor was the same as what it would have cost me to make the existing parts work. Plus I got vastly better parts.

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sherlock9c1



Posts : 2254
Join date : 2009-05-28
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PostSubject: Re: Sherlock's 96 white wagon   Sherlock's 96 white wagon Icon_minitimeThu Nov 12, 2020 12:30 am

I was going to tell this story in chronological order but a recent Facebook discussion prompts me to add this now. On the encouragement of an Impala friend, I recently rebuilt the power steering pumps on the Impala and the Roadmaster.  Rebuild kits (really they're just seal kits) are dirt cheap on Rock Auto, so I bought two Gates 348393 kits and went to town. It took me about 30 minutes per pump, and another 30 minutes do do the variable effort solenoid.

The real benefit is that you can rebuild it without having to remove the pulley or the mounting bracket. On rusty cars that's a huge deal.  There are tons of videos on Youtube of how to rebuild these Saginaw pumps that were used on GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles for years. The Type1 pumps had the reservoirs around them; the Type 2 pumps have remote reservoirs like our cars. Both mechanisms are identical. At 170k and 145k miles, respectively, both pumps' metal guts were in great shape. So it's just replacing orange o-rings and the nose seal. There's one other o-ring on the regulator valve fitting on Caprice/Impala pumps that needs to be replaced. Sherlock's 96 white wagon Pxl_2012

A seal puller made quick work of the nose seal but you could also use a screwdriver if you're careful. A piece of wood and a hammer quickly drove the new seal in. Sherlock's 96 white wagon Pxl_2013


The Buick NV7 variable effort sensor has quite a few parts in it, and you'll need snapring pliers, a 30mm socket with an impact wrench to get it loose. Also, use a punch to mark the orientation of everything before you disassemble so that you can properly clock them as you reassemble. Do be aware that the two thin o-rings on the 90 degree fitting are different sizes so be careful there. The part in the very center just to the right of the long needle has a thin 3/4 hex on it but it does NOT have to be removed and is tricky to get out without rounding; next time I will just leave it.Sherlock's 96 white wagon Pxl_2011

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