Help upgrade my 69 to a safe, reliable, racer.......

Discussion in 'Race 400/430/455' started by Pro69GS400, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. Pro69GS400

    Pro69GS400 Well-Known Member

    So I have had my 69GS since high school. I am a 1985 graduate. While I raised my family and had a career with the same company for over 33 years, the GS sat in cob webs most of those years. I was caught up in the Pro Street craze in the 90’s and tubbed the car and put a 6 point cage in it. The time has come to blow the cob webs off. Back when it was tubbed it was on a 20 something year olds budget. Outside of the Art Morrison ladder bar kit narrowed ford 9inch and a fresh rebuilt stock 400 motor, mild crane cam hooker headers, B4B and turbo 350 with manual valve body and shift kit, 90/10 shocks and new front coil springs the car was stock. Fast forward to present, I’m retired and spending as much time now as possible in the garage and at car shows with a couple other cars, finding myself wanting to race more and more. There is a new motor in the works. I started out thinking continuing to make a bad ass street car but the Buick Bash kind of got me hooked on wanting to pursue racing more. Although I am a late bloomer to the racing world I would like to be able to race this car as confidently as possible as far as where safety, handling & durability is regards to and with minimum breakage. My questions to the group is what advice or suggestions do you have in parts and building the GS now to handle drag racing action? Is rebuilt stock front end good or go tubular?opinions on rack and pinion steering? Best brakes? Ditch ladder bars for 4 link? What is suggested ? The engine builder says the motor will be capable of some serious times if I can get the car to hook. The trans now is a built th400 with a brake and 4500 stall. Any electronics suggested?
  2. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    My car runs mid 10s. I have stk control arms with global west bushing and steering arm to help manage bump steer on launch.

    I put disc brakes on all 4 corners. Wilwood dynalight 1.75"calipers with 4 pistons each. Stops so smooth. I have the basic a body drag fronts with weld on brackets and 11.75x .810 rotirs out back.

    What spline axles are in your 9" I'm still running the 8.5 30 spline setup, but thinking of building a new rear with 33 splines for extra safety measures

    With your trans with will want a billet forward hub and verify that the converter charge pressure is kept in check to save thrust bearing issues. I built my own 400 and so far its holding up well with basic mods and very fee hard parts.

    As far as electronics....skys the limit now a days

    Who is doing your motor.

    I live just south of mansfield ohio so we are not too far apart

    I have 30x10 hoosiers out back, skinnier up front. Viking double adjustable on all 4 corners. I'm sure my car has more in it just can't seem to find that perfect combo on setup......I'm at 3650 race weight with me in the car. Best 1/8 mile is 6.53 at 104mph and a 1.44 60ft. That should be mid 10.30s at about 128 just never get to run 1/4 in good air.....
  3. Pro69GS400

    Pro69GS400 Well-Known Member

    Gary Paine has the motor. There is a good chance it will be ready for dyno this month. I’m pretty sure the axels are stock cut to length 28 spline with a rebuilt Posi unit. I will be purchasing a new center section and new axels. If I remember correctly the Rear was out of a 68 ford econoline van it was more bought for budget friendly Back-then Vs durability lol. The trans was in the s10 Gary had for sale awhile back that was BBB powered. So far it looks like I will be looking for a 4:10 -4:30 gear with 31 X 13 rear tires. I assume you run manual brakes? I’m not sure yet what this car will weigh. It will have fiberglass front & rear bumpers and hood. I plan on leaving the interior in. Not sure about seats Weather I keep the stock seats in front or go with race style. Not sure what the drawbacks are for either. Do you run wheelie bars? It was suggested that I may need them, again depending how the car hooks.
  4. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    Gary is a great guy and shop he uses is first class, been though it uo there b4.

    I use a stk seat as I have full interior still, but s racing seat would be lighter and more than likely safer in the event of a crash.

    I dont have bars. Mine don't come up that far.

    Those axles are for sure not going to live....don't even think of 31s, get 35s minimum. The cost is minimal over going to 31s. 30s for me are the biggest I can fit through my sets axle bearing so kind of stuck.....i have s completely different housing that uses set 10 so i will be stepping up to 33s.........make sure your center section is rated for the power your going to be making.

    Full manual brakes.....don't even think of running power brakes on a dedicated race car.....ifvthe motor shuts off at over 130ish mph you don't want the brake I deal getting hard to push because no vacuum assist. Most tracks you only have about 2600ish feet of shut down at best..... so if your doing 130 mph you covering just under 200 ft per second.......if you can slow down your out of room in just 13 seconds.

    I plan on putting a chute on my car this winter for the safety factor. In my mind if I have a total brake failure at those speeds.....I assume from the time I push the pedal the first time to the time I realize a failure and pull the chute it would be at least 2 or 3 i just lost 500-600 ft of shut down.......the chute should at least slow me down enough to make any contact hopefuly walk away able.

    31x13 is lot of should ve able to put slot of power down with correctly setup suspension. I feel with what I have in my car if I get the dials just right I could easily do 1.38 or more 60ft....i my case I feel something is tick off... weather my motor is making less hp an plsnned or my converter isn't right.....something.......and once a few less irons are in the fire I will pull my motor and get it strapped to dyno and find out. I wish I would had done that when I built it to check that off my list........i would recommend doing dyno time......that way you know for sure what you making b4 starting

    Can't wait to read about your power output from your new motor. Any other question feel free to ask
  5. hugger

    hugger Well-Known Member

    Ladder bars are more than fine for your power level ,..they just hit the tires a little differently and you don't have as much adjustment but with 650 to 800hp you won't need the adjustment

    No wheelie bars needed at that power level in our big cars,..especially if you set the car down

    If you're after reliability and durability I wouldn't fool a transbrake myself it dhocks the driveline much harder than loading it with the footbrake

    Front suspension my suggestion is Global West TLC setup, a dealer and can get you some nice savings,...they are the best for a dual purpose car. For track only TRZ is the best hands down

    Shocks: double adjustable at all corners,.Viking,.Aldan,Strange,.Varishock all good budget options for your power level

    Coilovers up front if you wish to control ride height,..but only the true 2.5in coilover conversion not the bolt in garbage. To do it right requires some simple frame mods

    Steering a quick ratio manual box with a borgeson u-joint style shaft is all you need

    Trans: SFI bellhousing is a must imo
    Driveshaft 3.5 thickwall aluminum or 3.5in .095 steel,...yes its heavy but YOU WILL NOT BREAK IT,..make it up elsewhere

    Brakes,...explorer rear disc,..any number of rear disc options out there,. For a dual purpose car use at least a .80 or greater vented rotor
    Front,: drum spindles and hubs turned down 5/16 LS1 caliper beackets from several suppliers BRP hotrods is one,. KORE 3 ETC
    If you go to a 17in front drag wheel the CCP big brake kit is a hell of a deal at $650

    Rear,..ADD A BACK BRACE,..ADD AN ANTI ROLL BAR,..TRZ,..Alston,..Morrison etc all have bushed antirolls,..i have a hookup for 9in center sections and axles if interested

    Increase cage to an 8pt minimum
    Solid body mounts from ABC performance if the cage is welded to the floor,..much better to weld to the chassis

    Wheels: use a nice forged or spun wheel,..cadt wheels aren't the best idea for heavy cars with good power

    Seats:,...An aluminum Kirkey would be my ONLY choice for a race seat,. As it actually contains you in case **** goes south,..the ricer lookin buckets not only look foolish but do basically nothing,..a stock seat would be no different,.. if the belts are 5 point and located correctly a stock seat is acceptable,..but not best for safety

    Master kill switch: always a good idea to put one in cabin so you not waiting on track personnel to do it for you

    Halon fire system,. They aren't that expensive and if it gets warm and you can't get out every bit helps

    The biggest safety problem most people have is just performing simple MAINTENCE,..check things,..ujoints,..wheels,..steering links,..etc etc

    Ive seen more buick racers than I care to mention pilot DEATH TRAPS,,.either because they are just complete HACKS at everything they do,..or clueless either one can you or the guy beside you hurt
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
    bobc455 likes this.
  6. Steve Reynolds

    Steve Reynolds SRE Inc

    I can pretty much agree with Hugger, but I don't believe you'll need/want a rear sway bar or anti roll bar of any kind with ladder bars. If set up properly the ladder bars work great and are less "finicky" than a 4 link. You set them up right and go! The only draw back is that there is no adjustments to be made for poor track conditions..... you get what you get as far as adjusting the rear suspension. My GSX had 36" ladder bars and ran low 9's with 60' in the 1.30 range and a best of 1.21 with radial slicks in BG. . The car weighed 3000 lbs, so it was by no means a "light weight". This car ALWAYS left straight as an arrow with the front wheels in the air..... and no rear sway or anti roll what so ever.
    And the wheelie bars.......... you may or may not need them. There's a LOT of factors that will determine if you need them or not. If you come upon a situation that you need them and don't have them....... well, you may need to change your underware! LOL
    Briz likes this.
  7. No Lift

    No Lift Platinum Level Contributor

    How many times have you taken the car down the strip? How long ago? How fast? If the answer is <100 times in the last decade or two or ever then my advice is to get the suspension all squared away and take it to the drags a bunch of times with the engine you have in there now. A potential 10 second car is a whole 'nother world from a possibly low 13/high 12 second car especially if you never ran it at the track or have no familiarity with running at the strip in anything. A trans-brake adds even more excitement to the mix. It rarely looks good when a novice shows up with a monster car and then doesn't even know how to pull into the lights.

    I'm pretty sure that most guys on here worked their way up to their current cars from 15 and 14 second stockers to whatever they are driving now. Just going from a mild street cam to a rowdy high HP cam changes the way the car acts. You get used to driving the car down the strip and have a good feel for it so you kind of know what is coming as the speeds go up. If you have little track experience then the big power engine is the least of your concerns. Get the car squared away with the mild engine and hit the track. Just my $.02.
    Briz likes this.
  8. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    or at least ramp it up slowly, pulling 10degrees of timing. A mechanical throttle stop and shirt shifting to feel things out.

    Every start of the year i always make 2 or 3 soft passes just to get the feel of the car again
  9. Pro69GS400

    Pro69GS400 Well-Known Member

    The car after it was tubbed had MT sportsman’s and still does rolling around in the garage. They are nice and fat, look good but never came close to ever launching the car and providing any kind of traction. So I really don’t know how it handles in its current configuration. The motor I haven’t started since 1997 I think. I hate to admit that but when I got married everything car, gun and $$ related that wasn’t directly supporting the family went on the back burner. I do have 2 cars that are on the road now. One is a original 68 skylark (Blue) with stock drivetrain, the other another 68 (White), I purchased from a board member here to enjoy why I worked on getting the GS back on the road. My wife and I have been a enjoying taking them both to local car shows and the car bought from the board member here I took to the Buick Bash and have since taken it to other local tracks here. The white car seems set up well but when foot braking I seem to push the car sometimes to a red lite. I am settling down more and more into a routine and have already come along way, I am having a great time but i am not good or competitive by any stretch. I dislike foot braking and I dislike the column shift when racing the white car. I want to concentrate racing in the GS and have it set up more ideally, then as I gain experience hopefully become more competitive. I don’t have aspirations to becoming a professional I just want to have fun and naturally be a little more competitive than I am now. So the white skylark has allowed me to gain more experience. My plan is to have the chassis scrutinized by a more race oriented shop than when the car was originally done for pro street appearance. I am waiting on a slot to open up now. I want the car to leave straight and true so I can concentrate on driving rather than fighting the car. I also want as much brake as I can afford. I have been cleaning the car up removing things I know I won’t be using. Getting it ready for drive train removal, and install.. and lining up what parts I will need such as brakes, axels, center section, front suspension components. So I can keep things moving. You all have already given me a good list or starting points. Gary just texted me today that the push rod length was figured and he was ordering them. So the motor will be moving along quickly. I’ll include a sneak peak.... after waiting all these years I’m getting pretty excited about some of the things I can cross off my bucket list....

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    THOMAS QUIGG and Steve Reynolds like this.
  10. hugger

    hugger Well-Known Member

    Keep in mind when footbraking you aren't up on the brakes hard just a 1k rpm or so above idle and you let the converter flash,...ideally,..some do better get-up on the converter,..but if the converter is rite, shouldn't need to
  11. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    The column shifting when racing can be tough. Mine is still column shifted with a transbrake......yes most transbrake 400 vn are a reverse pattern......but i had this one custom made.

    Motors looks nice.....who's rockers???

    Looks like a small dish with notch on the pistons. Compression should be reasonable
  12. Pro69GS400

    Pro69GS400 Well-Known Member

    I understand Hugger. I am still trying to figure out the best way to launch car. When I start to experiment I screw up. I’ve missed shifts, spun tires, shifted to neutral when trying to shift to 3rd, you name it I’ve done it. If I just let the car do on it’s own it is super consistent though. Test and tune time is helping me. .....Ben I believe those are T&D rockers. I know they didn’t come from TA. Gary hasn’t invoiced me for them yet. He may see this and comment. The compression figures were, With 040 gasket comp is 11.4 With .027 gasket its 11.8 ........Motor will be on E85.
  13. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    The column shifting can be tricky. I have done the 1 to 3. Or 2 to n b4. I find what helped me with it is in stead of grabbing it with your hand wrapped around the shifter......just use a couple of fingers under me I know it can be sitting on my trans brake button at 3500 with a convertrr that has about 5200 flash and shift out of 1st gear about 6200 and I have 4.30 by the time you snap the button off and have to come back forward to shift there isn't much time.........but it can be done and done consistently.............but it does take practice
  14. Steve Reynolds

    Steve Reynolds SRE Inc

    Those are T&D rockers. When you buy directly from them they are not anodized. Been there...... done that.
  15. hugger

    hugger Well-Known Member

    Looks like they have changed the rocker body a little too
  16. Thumper (aka greatscat)

    Thumper (aka greatscat) Well-Known Member

    Those are the new design and stronger Harlon Sharp rockers.Just a few bucks more than TA. Chris,let me grind the governor to shift at 5500 so it shifts itself on the white car and sit back for the ride.
  17. Steve Reynolds

    Steve Reynolds SRE Inc

    Harlon Sharp........ interesting. I've never used their rockers, but I understand their a good rocker............
  18. Thumper (aka greatscat)

    Thumper (aka greatscat) Well-Known Member

    Yeah Steve,Doug and I have used them for years,excellent quality.
    Steve Reynolds likes this.
  19. Bens99gtp

    Bens99gtp Well-Known Member

    If he is running a 400 with brake is more than likely a full manual vb......there is only 1 or 2 ppl I could find that build a forward shift transbrake and only 1 that I know that builds that and retains auto shifting.......i actually sold one not too long ago
  20. Thumper (aka greatscat)

    Thumper (aka greatscat) Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure there's a brake in the white car
    If there is won't shift by itself. Heard there is a valve body that will do both but never saw like that.

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