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Supercharging (this time, it's real)

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The Old Thread, "Supercharging, revisited"

This is not a daydream, a crazy idea, speculation, etc. This time around, it's real.

It's a proven fact that the Buick Reatta was built for performance, and it is. 4 disks and electronic anti-lock, independent suspension, styling...it's made to go fast...

But no. We ('88-90 cars) ended up with the "Fuel Injection" 3800, referred from here on out as the LN3. Is the Reatta fast? Yes. The LN3 provides plenty of horsepower, torque, fuel economy, and lasts a very, very long time. I think it's safe to say it's one of the best engines in modern times.

Nevertheless, the Reatta still didnt reach its full potential.

Hunderds of message board posts, many private messages, and dozens of emails have been exchanged regarding adding more horsepower to the Reatta. I'm not shooting for Hardcore street racing performance, drag racing, whatever. But I think many of us can agree that our cars would be a little more enjoyable with some more power.

We came to the conclusion that it isn't that easy. Ryan of Sinister Performance/GMtuners said it would be about $6k to swap an L67, the supercharged series II 3800 and 4T60-e transmission into a '90 Reatta. We chose the '90 to avoid any instrumentation complications (like with the ECC). He'd also need about 6 weeks to do it, not to mention that he's near Fort Wayne, IN and we're near Lansing, MI.

There was no easy way, until now...

I propose to obtain a complete engine from a '95 or so era Park Avenue (or Riviera), the "series 1" supercharged 3800, and directly swap the necessary parts onto my engine, for a planned increase of about 60 horsepower, to 225 hp, up from 165. Maybe2fast, also known as Don in Walled Lake, MI is my primary moral supporter.

From what I know, he knows, Ryan knows, and from other posts (like in Supercharging, Revisited [thanks guys]), this idea should work. We're not completely certain yet, but we think that the cylinder heads on my engine DO NOT need to be swapped out.

We think this is what needs to be swapped or added to my LN3:

-intake manifold

-supercharger-injectors (you kinda need more fuel)

-harmonic balancer

-idlers/tensioners for the supercharger belt

The S/C engine, at least the series 1, is pretty much just an LN3. The crankshaft, pistons, and engine internals are pretty much the same. Nothing weird inside. The series II is a much different story, however, that's why we're skipping that one.

Ryan of GMtuners previously said that he can reburn by EEPROM/memcal/ECM chip to accomodate the changes in fuel, air, and the boost. I will be sending this to him pretty soon (like this Tuesday, after president's day)

I am obtaining a complete engine from a salvage yard. A search of car-part.com says that there's one here by me at Heights auto parts with 146k miles for $500. We're trying to work with a $800 budget. We're not using the highest grade parts or new parts or anything, for this is merely a trial to see if it really can be done. I'll be using new gaskets, keeping things clean, etc, but the goal is to get it together and on the road as quickly as possible and for the lowest cost. $800 is far, far away from $6k. If we need a supercharger rebuild, or want to swap the entire engine into my car, or something blows up, etc, its still going to be much cheaper than $6k.

I might not be able to replace just the intake manifold and may end up swapping the heads, but that's the main reason why we're getting a whole engine...we'll have everything.

Yes, I am going to use a good digital camera and document this. Is it crazy? Maybe. But it hasn't been done before, and to me, looks to be the cheapest and easiest way.

I say this is real because I've already secured the funding. My dad handed me $600 cash, and I'm going to go pick up the donor motor on Monday (I don't think salvage yards take President's Day off). Action is going to be taken very, very soon.

Will there be complications? Probably. Although I, Maybe2fast, and Ryan (and I think someone else in Supercharging Revisited, sorry for not giving credit at the moment) are pretty darn sure it'll bolt up one way or another, it's possible it won't, and the project will bust.

Will it put more stress on my engine? I wouldn't doubt it. I've got 153k miles, but hey hey, hang on. This engine uses less than 1/2 quart between changes. It's tight. I'm sure there's plenty Park Avenue Ultras still doing fine with that many miles and they've had boost all their lives. My 4T60 transaxle appears to be original, but I figure that the 150k mark is when auto trannys fail anyway. We have a very, very good transmission mechanic that works out of his garage down the street from us. Regarding this, my dad said "that's what Larry's for" grin.gif If/when it gets rebuilt, it will be modified to take the extra stresses. I plan on using Mobil 1 to help the engine out and will probably add an engine oil cooler.

I have school, my wonderful girlfriend (sorry guys, it isn't Jessica tongue.gif) a life, etc so I can't work on this project 24/7, but with a weekend, I'd say that this swap could be easily done in a day. I tend to work at a kind of slow pace and don't always have critical stuff on hand like gaskets, uncommon sockets and wrenches, etc. But nevertheless, it won't take a month or anything. I could probably get it done in a week or two with my schedule. The good thing is that our Reattas are laid up for the winter anyway, so there's not much to do.

My dad is also pretty interested in this plan, and if it all works out, would like me to perform the same modifications on one of his convertibles (probably the Select 60).

Comments? Suggestions? Questions? There's probably some stuff I forgot to mention, but I'll get to it.

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Good Hunting there Monday. You'll need all the externals, alternator, power steering pump, pulleys and tensioners, water pump, injectors/ fuel rail. Junk yards don't know how to unplug anything, they use cutting torches and Side Cutter Pliers so plan on wiring issues. Everything is moved around on the Series I with the S/C.

<The attachment is my Round I 3800 Series I NA sitting onthe Sub-frame with the Getrag 5-Spd. Are the exhaust manifolds on the 3.8L spaced the same as these on the next generation, if they are then you may be Ok to just bolt on the Intake etc. (I can't remember-old age etc!)>

You have to deal with the EGR as we've mentioned before, and honestly, I'm very dubious about what Ryan is going to produce for you. If it works, well...

First time you fire this baby up you're going to think it's gone into self-destruct mode, ie; revving way up. This is just the Block Learn starting from scratch, it will idle down eventually.

For the experimental aspect of this and purely for economics I'd strongly suggest pulling the 3.8L out and dropping the Series I S/C in. Your balance of Funds isn't going to cover even the price of gaskets.

post-30773-14313788692_thumb.jpg

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I don't particularly agree that the Reatta was built for performance. I think it was built for comfort-not for speed.I don't think that it was built to appeal to or steal the 'vette or porsche crowd. I think it was meant to appeal to the white collar professional. But your'e right, being that it does handle well straight line at high speed, for all the reasons that you have spoken of, it would be great to have faster standing start performance and a stronger mid range. To me that is where the Reatta's engine and transmission performance is lacking.Handling would most definitely benefit from tweaking but it will always be front wheel drive, not necessarily a performance feature. However, having gotten stuck in a snow squall this morning in N.E. Pennsylvania,I have a true appreciation of the front wheel drive and antilocks. Good luck with your project!

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Joe,

From propaganda produced by Buick leading up to the introduction of the Reatta, and what we've seen over the past couple of years concerning prototype Reattas I don't think there's any doubt Buick had wanted to offer the Reatta with punch. It was all about GM internal politics right at that time, Caddilac Div. was taking control of Engineering resources for several divisions and had a say about what model got what. They(Caddilac) were just bringing the Allante (I think it was) to market and apparently didn't want any perceived competition.

As F-14 points out, the platform has all the ingredients, Steering ratio, ABS, 4 wheel discs, it was all there except the approval to offer it with a couple of hundred horse power. SAD frown.gif

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turbo_engine.jpg

Sadly, this car may be lost forever

Greg: I don't completely understand all that's going on, though I understand a lot of it like the MAF readings etc. I hope Ryan can fix me up. In an email from a while back, and that I posted in "Supercharging, Revisited", he said

<span style="font-weight: bold">Philip, the main problem we run into when trying to use a turbo or supercharger with you computer is that while I can reprogram it to dump enough fuel to compensate for boost, the computer will not be able to determine how much boost you are running nor exactly when you enter boost. Basically what will happen is say at about 1psi of boost the computer will go into "power enrichment" mode which is when the computer will dump this extra fuel. However at 1psi of boost, obviously there will be too much fuel being dumped since we will have to reprogram the computer to dump enough fuel for say 10psi of boost which is what you will probably have at WOT. As you can see, fuel delivery isn't going to be perfect, but it does work.</span>

We'll see

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The best I remember, when the Reatta was introduced it was marketed to the female drivers. The male drivers were geared to Camaros, Grand Sports, Corvettes, Mustangs, Firebirds the Nissan 300ZX and RX7 and the Supras. The Cads and the Reatta were geared to comfort and style with one transmission and one engine. No options because the ladies did not care how fast it went but did care how nice it went and how quiet it went. They gave the Reatta enough sparkle (disk brakes, independent suspension bucket seats and leather) to get the price point. But they were a luxury automobile

I think we are lucky that it went that way. I have only been interested in the Reatta for a few months now and was totally surprised to find the number that I have in the shape they are in. There are so many that look like they have not even been on the road. When you look at the above mentioned autos that the guys bought in the 70's, 80's and 90's, well most of they are raged out or at least you can tell they were used for 50,60 or 100,000 miles and the ones that are not are also 4 or 5 times the cost of the Reattas. These Reattas were used by a lot of mothers and wifes and they took care of them and kept them in the garage while our Camaros and Grand Sports set in the drive way with beer cans in the floorboards, golf clubs, tools and everything else in them. We drove them in all types of weather and the carpets and seats would show it. The Reattas were in the garage and the family station wagon took the wife to work or to market and the Reatta stayed put.

There has been two reasons that I have been trying to get in a Reatta and be a member of the Buick Club, and this forum.

One, I can get a very nice luxurious new looking two seater for a small amount of money.

Two, I have never seen anything like this forum.

The way every body pitches in and helps each member and the amount of comradery is just hard to believe. When I read the entries here I think I am in an auto mechanics class and I'm the only one failing. But I have no doubt that nothing could happen to a Buick Reatta that can't be fixed via this forum. Just hope I got enough savvy to figure out what everyone is saying. I need a lot of pictures at times, oh yes and big bright crayons

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Have to agree with most of your observations? The Reatta is a very well constructed, affordable and fun to drive. But it?s about as close to a performance car as it is to a SUV. I know the difference as I have owned performance cars, (I know the feeling when you pat your right foot)? and SUV?s, (I can haul lots of people and stuff)? To make A Reatta either one is not very practical? Attempting to find the next weakest link in modifying a car is in fact what you will be doing? but hey if it enhances your enjoyment of your Buick that?s OK. And it makes interesting reading? most of the time. KennyV

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I suspect the bean counters rather than internal politics. Even the 88 shouws the effects of cost cutting to make a number, they just grabbed the Riviera seat as is instead of finding one an inch lower. Most of the electronics are carryovers and changing that would be a lot less expensive than changing the drivetrain.

Second you have the Buick notion that you *never* bring out the real design in the first year. Fortunately the resident "ugly" stylist did not get his/her hands on it.

You know what I mean - the design studio comes up with a really clean design with everything in the right place and they target that for the third model year. Then the ugly stylist makes sure that the first and second years are not quite that good.

Examples: 63-64 Riviera and the 65. 68-69 Skylark and then the 70. 71-72 Riviera again then the 73.

Buick (and GM) does the same thing with powerplants, saving the best for the third year. It is called "marketting".

In addition there was the minor problem that Buick did not have a hot 3800 FWD combo available. The turbos all were RWD and used the 200R4 transmission. Meanwhile the 440T4 FWD trans was pushed to handle a N/A 3800 (was designed for a 2.8). Even with our stock engine it is considered fragile.

Sure the engineering team could build a turbo (and the valve cover bolts say it based on an earlier engine rather than an '88 3800). Blow a trans every 1000 miles and just grab another. Could not do that in production though.

Need a new program - easy: they had the design books that were fully commented and had links to show every place a variable was used (GM has refused to release that info on either the ECM or the BCM so must be painstakingly and slowly reverse engineered).

But the real hooker was the EPA certification. At 3300-3800 lbs the Reatta was in the same "weight class" as the Riviera or the Bonneville. This meant it did not need to be tested seperately. When the 92 Park Avenue Ultra got a S/C 3800 Buick shared the cost with Pontiac as the same engine was used in the Bonneville SSEI (injected-injected ?). Unfortunately the Reatta was no longer around for 1992.

So the reason the Reatta never got a hot engine is probably not from politics but economics. At the time Buick was centered on the 3800 and so that is what the Reatta received.

Besides, do you think that the targetted audience really cared ?

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Whatever happened to that dude who was pursuing the RWD conversion for a Reatta?

Was it all abandoned as being too unfeasible, etc.?

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If the Reatta was not built originally for performance,

then why would GM spend the extra money for brake system

that does not depend on vacuum? The lack of a vacuum

brake system would mean that there was NO vacuum available

from the engine,which means the system was to be positively

charged, as In supercharging or turbo charging. I can think

of no other reason for the expense. Can anyone else??

Just my two cents.

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At the time, the technology didn't exist for vacuum-powered antilock braking. All ABS-equipped vehicles at that time were electrical pump + accumulator designs, same as ours.

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Correct. From what's known, Teves was used because of the boost (which never quite made it)

As I said, this is real. Here's my ECM...Memcal is packed and ready to send to Ryan on Wednesday

sc1.jpg

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Well according to my research, Ford had anti-lock brakes in 1990.

And they didn't use a pump, they used vacuum.

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Well I, for one, am excited about your SC Reatta project...

Naturally, I am very interested in pursuing the idea myself someday...

Hope everything works out well, that you get all the bugs out, AND that you well document every step.

You are after all a pioneer (one of the pioneers -- no slight to others, because still there are not many who have done it)... and your reports will be of great value.

Maybe someday there will be some sort of aftermarket 'translator' available to hook different engine's ECMs to the Reatta BCM, that might end up being the 'missing link' that will simply the whole matter.... or am I thinking

sci-fi here?

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Well according to my research, Ford had anti-lock brakes in 1990.

And they didn't use a pump, they used vacuum. </div></div>

Correct. But our systems pre-date that by at least 5 years. GM brought out vacuum-powered ABS in 1990 as well, and the '91 Reatta has it instead of the pump-driven units used 88-90.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Correct. From what's known, Teves was used because of the boost (which never quite made it) </div></div>

ABS was put in for the obvious safety benefit that it imparts. The high-end European makes were putting them in in the mid-eighties, and as GM's premium platform, all 'E' (and 'K') platform vehicles had ABS as at least optional as part of the 1986 platform-switch.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have school, my wonderful girlfriend (sorry guys, it isn't Jessica ) a life, etc so I can't work on this project 24/7 </div></div>

If your GF helps, you could get done quicker! Maybe get a photo of her in the empty engine compartment, or holding the engine up in the air with 1 hand. Just hide or crop the hoist out of view, makes for a great shot.

Hey, did'nt you guys find a 3.1 MAF was called for? Something 'bout the flow rates seemed to make sense for your application.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">did the Riviera of the same time period have an ABS option? </div></div>

Yep. As did the Seville, Eldorado & the Toronado/Trofeo. All E/K platform.

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Jessica said she'd pose on one of our Reattas at the big show coming up in Lansing laugh.gif

I did some heavy spending. Last night I picked up a money order for Ryan to reburn the EPROM/memcal ($40). Today, I paid for the engine I found on car-part.com from Heights Auto Parts in Lansing ($477), and ordered a Felpro intake manifold gasket set from Advance Auto Parts ($31.67).

So far, that's $548.67 (minus the little Walmart money order fee, so add like 55 cents or whatever it is)

The motor is from, and still is in, a '95 Bonneville SSEi. I checked it out myself and it's complete. He said it was running 33 days ago with good oil pressure and all. It's as is, the salesman said because of the mileage (146k). But good enough. The belts were off of it. I felt the supercharger pulley and I didn't feel any play and it turned smoothly, so I guess it'll be good. They said I can pick it up on Wednesday. Gasket set will be in tomorrow.

I'll keep you guys updated.

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ABS-Boost NYET. Clue to why Teves was selected is on the 88 dash - the bit that says "Diesel".

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Oh yeah I forgot that part. Why exactly can't diesels have vacuum? I know my dad's '91 F250 diesel has a belt driven pump for vacuum.

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