I had a TurboBuick business in PA order some custom JE pistons for me back in 2010 when I lived in VA. I spent half an hour on the phone telling the guy that a TTA combustion chamber was smaller, so regular GN pistons would not work which is why I was placing a custom order. After about 3 weeks he sends me a box of JE pistons. I took it easy breaking in that engine for 200 miles. Then I put just 10 psi of boost on it and blew the head gaskets! Got on the phone to JE direct their engineer, gave him the part number on the box and he said: "You have the wrong pistons. Those are for a Grand National. Nothing custom about them." We spec'd out a new piston on the phone that moved the wrist pin up and the piston top down 0.020" to get the correct compression. Has been working fine.
I forgot all about those non-custom JE GN pistons up in the attic until 6 months ago when I decided to build a new engine for a GN that I bought just 2 years ago. Yes - I'm using them! Compared to what I'd have to pay today, I saved a bunch of money. Back in 2010, I never thought that I'd eventually own a GN.
Feel free to put my little story to good use Dyno Dave! 3rd Gen parts are indeed sometimes hard to find. I just sent out a spare headlight motor to have it rebuilt for my 1986 Trans Am. When I needed it a couple of years ago, it took me some time to find a used one.
What a bunch of crap from you trusted vendor sending you those GN pistons and a waste of your time and efforts and miscellaneous costs blowing a head gasket because he sends you an off the shelf part for a car you don't even own. This is after you call and specify for custom pistons and he says "Sure"...
This sort of thing burns me up and I know it happens all the time.
Glad you are good now.
Yes Jarred, I had a really hellish experience when building my first TurboBuick engine in 2010. And I wasn't inexperienced at engine building. I assembled 6 or 8 successful, moderately modified SBC engines for my Corvette and friends prior to that. I was counting on getting specific "Turbobuick" help and experience from that PA shop, but got misled left and right. It didn't help that I was also new to my local area in VA at the time - unfamiliar with good, local machine shops.
As long as you're tuned in, I also bought a used block at that PA shop and hauled it to a local machine (MS) shop in Manassas, VA. After a couple of months, the machine shop called to tell me that the matching main bearing caps had been switched with another block. Not possible to machine it to install the billet caps that I bought. Nothing to index on. So I went back to PA and made them give me another block. After 2 more months, the local MS finished. I paid them. As I was loading up, the guy said: "Be careful about the #2 main studs. One of them won't take torque". WHAAT? "It only takes torque to about 65 ft-lbs, then spins. That's the way we got it." Obviously the threads were stripped. So I asked MS if they could heli-coil it. "Nope. Buick saddles are too narrow." MS said: "Maybe you could have it welded, but we don't know what to do and we're just not interested in that sort of work...".
I was 4 to 6+ months into getting the car moving again, so just had to put it together like that. I figured that SBCs use 65 ft-lbs for main bearing cap torque and they produce 350 or so hp. So if I kept the boost down, I could at least put the car on the road. That philosophy has worked so far - allowed me to use the car for 10 years now - using no more than 17 psi. However, in a couple of months, I'm tearing it down to finally make it right. The local machine shop down here in FL said that they would do whatever it takes to make that stud hold. Better days are coming...