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Project "ThunderChicken"

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Old 05-16-2018, 08:17 PM
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Project "ThunderChicken"

Oh billy this one is gonna be a fun one.

Picked up a 86 trans am with 91k miles on it Sunday.

I live in the midwest. Seeing a straight, relatively rust free trans am for decently cheap is a rarity. I paid 3k for it.

Compared to most of you guys, I'm a **** mechanic. Luckily I'm patient.

Have an imgur album.

This year's plans are simple: Figure out the front end rattle. Get the underside POR 15'd. Get the Interior cleaned up.

Long term goals: 11 sec quarter mile. 383 carb'd motor. Car that looks and handles pretty good.

She's already a mystery with the Rochester Carb, Electronically Controlled distributor (I think) and 4 fuel lines. I'm starting to think it's not the original 305 in her.

Anyone wanna weigh in on the rust and call me crazy? Or give some feedback on the purchase?
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:08 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Not to steal your thunder (hehe) or anything, but isn't "Thunder Chicken" usually a dig on Thunderbirds? Most of the time I hear people call Firebirds a "Screaming chicken" or other similar things.

That said, cool project. When I saw the first picture of the interior I was like "That interior is mint except for the headliner!" and then I saw the DS seat. Still, not too shabby. I'm on year 3 of mine.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:22 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Originally Posted by Jorlain View Post
Not to steal your thunder (hehe) or anything, but isn't "Thunder Chicken" usually a dig on Thunderbirds?
That's likely. I picked it up from somewhere and it stuck.....I'm not known to be a bright man....

When I saw the first picture of the interior I was like "That interior is mint except for the headliner!" and then I saw the DS seat. Still, not too shabby. I'm on year 3 of mine.
DS seat and center console are complete messes, otherwise the Interior is in great shape. Wasn't a big fan of the Red/Grey to begin with, but it's quickly warmed up to me.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:29 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

I dig the two-tone seats. Mine are so faded now you can't tell, but originally they were two-tone charcoal.

If you're looking for seat covers, and have a decent budget, it's been said that Princess over at Lethal Interiors is pretty amazing.

http://lethalinteriors.com/
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:00 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Thanks for the tip! Gonna try and get mine fixed up locally, but who knows
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:01 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

After some research I learned that these cars came with a computer controlled carb.

Learning is fun! Mystery half solved
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Old 05-17-2018, 08:42 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Its a cool car and good luck with it.
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Old 05-17-2018, 09:03 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

There's essentially 4 different fuel distribution systems that 82-92 cars came with. Crossfire Fuel Injection, Computer Controlled Quadrajet, TBI, and TPI. Crossfires were early models only, and really weren't all that great from what I've heard around here. The other three all have their strengths and weaknesses.
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Old 05-17-2018, 03:40 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

I actually like the LG4s. Super easy to deal with unlike the headaches ive fought with some of my TPI engines. You can make good power with the old 750 cfm Quadrajet and once you get it tuned in its usually trouble free as long as you run non-ethanol gas.
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Old 05-17-2018, 09:51 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Can you remove the computer controller bits from the Quadrajet? I've heard it's a damn good carb, just never thought I'd find one out in the wild
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:12 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Lots of people swap to carbs, but I don't think you can just strip the electronic bits from the carb itself. You're better off just fixing it if there's something not working right. The only time that the stock CC Carb is really worth getting rid of is if you're planning on putting a cam in it that's too much for the computer to handle.

To convert it to a standard carburetor, you'll have to change the distributor, carburetor, torque converter lockup, etc.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:18 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Sorry, it's the best I could do with 7 letters.

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Old 05-19-2018, 07:59 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

We're stuck to 5 characters now


Got that totally sweet mountain lion option tho
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:05 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Can't quite put my finger on it, but for some reason these plates just don't seem to be sending the right message.

Originally Posted by BigDogBob View Post
We're stuck to 5 characters now
That is so useless! I hope they also lifted restrictions on 4 letter words or there just aren't much options left.
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Old 05-19-2018, 07:59 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Originally Posted by QwkTrip View Post
Sorry, it's the best I could do with 7 letters.

Yeah, this looks like tender chicken. Or tender chick. No good.
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:08 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Spent friday working on getting a radio installed. Found a couple fun surprises after getting the new unit wired up:

1) PO took the radio mounting tabs. New unit is just hanging out until I can source some of those

2) PO took out all the speakers. Looks like my entire system is going to be brand new!
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Old 05-28-2018, 04:28 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"



Got some new seats today. $70 for the pair, came from a 94 bird. Guy had them in storage for the last 20 years.

Passenger bolted right up. Driver required a rail swap and some convincing to go in.

They look okay now, will probably find a good set of covers to get them to match the interior better.

Got a chance to look under the drivers side carpet, besides a seat bolt rusting, there's no rot on the floorboards. Pretty excited to see that.
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Old 06-06-2018, 07:54 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Headliner repair yesterday!

Old stuff was in real rough shape. Cloth fell off before I could get the board out.

Got new cloth installed, old board repaired a little with some cardboard, and the board back in the car.

Need to get new fasteners to finish the interior trim install. Looks like PO took quite a few small bits and pieces out.
Attached Thumbnails Project "ThunderChicken"-oldout.jpg   Project "ThunderChicken"-oldcondition.jpg   Project "ThunderChicken"-repair2.jpg   Project "ThunderChicken"-applyingnewcloth.jpg   Project "ThunderChicken"-installedonboard.jpg  

Project "ThunderChicken"-incar.jpg  
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Old 06-08-2018, 07:44 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Few setbacks.

Headliner repair didn't go well. Reglued it and letting it dry laying down. Hopefully it sticks this time.

The LEDs I ordered for the dash didn't fit. Time to reorder them

Sometimes you win on projects, sometimes you don't

Did get the TV cable adjusted. Went for a test drive. Chirped the rear tires between shifts. That was fun

I suppose the guy selling it wasn't lying about the shift kit. Who wants to bet I can get away without a rebuild when I swap the motor?
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:11 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Headliner still likes to sag. I suppose I'll live with it until I wanna shell out $250 to hawkes.

Got new LEDs in. Replaced the remote dimmer. That job was extremely difficult. Wound up zip tieing the mount back in. Couldn't get it bolted for the life of me.

Dimmer is located here for anyone looking at this



Took this picture on my back with my feet towards the rear glass. It's a real bitch to get to.

Dash lights work now! They're pretty dim in daylight. I'll have to see how they look at night. Will drop a few pics of the dimmer location and the lights when I get them downloaded.

Hoping to get the dash put back together tomorrow with the new speakers, and drive the old bird around for a bit.

Last edited by BigDogBob; 06-14-2018 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:08 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

yeah that dimmer sucks, I tried to get pics when I did mine but it's hard to get a good pic.
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Old 07-11-2018, 06:14 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

No pics this time around. Progress has been slow because of the heat.

Got the Passenger side outer window sweep replaced, moving onto the drivers next week.

Picked up a nearly new Holley Street Avenger 770 for the new motor for $300. Parts gathering has begun!
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Old 07-22-2018, 12:56 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Both sides of the outer window sweep are replaced. Took me nearly three days to do the Passenger (couldn't figure it out). Got the driver done in two hours.

Finally found some Radio mounts in the Junkyard today. Painting them (seriously GM, why leave them bare and let them rust?) and getting my radio officially installed.

Initial plans were to do an old school 383 swap. Starting to be on the fence about that one. Considering a Carb'd LQ4 or LQ9 swap now. Would be more expensive up front to buy all the supporting pieces, but would give me more overall power potential

Lots to think about I suppose.
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:54 PM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"


Radio's mostly in. Still need to work on it. Would like it to fit a bit more flush


Did a POR 15 test yesterday. Stuff is pretty legit. Got it to chip a tiny bit by hitting it with the corner of a ball peen. Tested just painting a rusted area, and it was pretty tough there as well. Doing the whole underbody this weekend.
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:24 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Got it up on the cousins lift and POR 15'd most of the underbody while drinking beers.

Didn't drop the exhaust or rear end, but did drop the driveshaft

Took a look at it the next day and don't like the results. I'll have to give it another try when I get the engine, trans, kmember, exhaust and rear out from under neath it.
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:24 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Originally Posted by BigDogBob View Post
Got it up on the cousins lift and POR 15'd most of the underbody while drinking beers.
I can't speak for you, but for myself, and with some POR15 experience, I know this would be a recipe for waking up today with a lot of semi-permanent black spots on my skin.

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Old 07-31-2018, 09:59 AM
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Re: Project "ThunderChicken"

Originally Posted by DynoDave43 View Post
I can't speak for you, but for myself, and with some POR15 experience, I know this would be a recipe for waking up today with a lot of semi-permanent black spots on my skin.
Yep. Legs and forearms are covered. I'll be wearing this mistake for awhile
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