Rescuing a 2007 Lucerne CXS with a Northstar

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
All right, been a few days, so figured I'd toss another update. I'd be moving MUCH faster if I had this car at home in my garage, but I just don't have the space. So I'm stuck driving 25 minutes one way to get to and work on it.

When I last updated, I was tidying up the motor on the stand. Valve covers went on almost without a hitch. I tried to torque the water pump drive plate bolts and two of the three snapped (didn't try the third). Had to pull the cover back off, work the bolts through, and try with the other set. Those went on happily, to my joy. So motor is about as far as it's going to get until the old one is out and parts are being moved. This was on Tuesday last week.

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Got the car off the ground to get ready to drop it all out also.

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Took a break Tuesday afternoon to do some finishing work, and didn't touch the Buick on wednesday because we towed my best friends car (who's barn I'm using) up to a specialty shop in Detroit for some baseline tuning. Hard to see in the picture below, but it's a 1995 Camaro Z28 with a freshly built Toyota 2JZ-GTE VVTi motor, GT42 Turbo, Halltech Elite 2500, Magnum T56, etc. It's an AWESOME build that I'm very happy to have had a VERY tiny part of making happen.

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Thursday rolled around, and it was back to the task at hand. Got all the connections necessary disconnected, had a peek at the brakes (which are going to be replaced) to see what size rotors it has. It's got the bigger ones (the 330mm I believe it is).

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Friday I took off as I needed to do some shopping, but I did hit my local pick and pull and managed to grab a water pump pulley, water pump tensioner pulley, and belt, for pennies on the dollar. What a NIGHTMARE it was to get removed......I had the right puller with me, but the wrong wrenches, and what I was using made it difficult.

Saturday was fun! First thing I did was take a couple old furniture dollies and screw them together with some boards to make a platform. Then......it's drop time. Took the rear tires off the ramps which allowed me to lower the entire front end of the car all the way on to the dollies. Then it was simply a matter of a few inches at a time, side to side, to walk the car up high enough to roll the cradle and driveline out! Piece of cake, didn't even need to put the rear tires back up on the ramps. The ONLY thing I really had to do was as I was sliding the motor out through the drivers wheel well, I had to lift the passenger side slightly higher to get the shock to clear, then the same on the drivers side as it passed by. Easy peasy.

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Success!!

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Took Sunday off because I'm not as young as I used to be, and between the pick and pull trials on Friday (I had to put a ridiculous amount of effort into getting that pulley to break free) and the up and down off the floor on Saturday, I needed a day off.

I have most of this week off too, and went out this morning for a couple of hours to start breaking the old motor off the trans. Forgot I needed my offset box ends to get the torque converter bolts, so I stopped there. But it's just about ready to come off.

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Nice part is the motor coming out was actually taken care of quite nicely. All the pullies on the front are reusable, bolts aren't fighting me to take off (with exception of a couple of exhaust bolts on the crossover but some heat will remedy that). Had to cut today short due to a work meeting I needed to attend (remotely, from home, but still had to cut it short). Tomorrow through Friday I will be putting in some solid hours.

Things I KNOW I need to address. Brakes. Brake lines, at a MINIMUM the feeders to the rear as one is already blown out. Hoping to try to replace all the front ones on the cradle while everything is apart and accessible. Have to do the rear main on the replacement motor once I hang it back off the hoist. Rewrap the wiring harness (not going to loom, just going to wrap with fabric gaffers tape).
 

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TT99C5

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Buick Ownership
2007 Lucerne
Been slowly working away this week. Got the motor off the cradle as of yesterday.

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Today I started putting what I could on to the new motor, that being the tensioner and idler pullies, A/C Compressor, Alternator, front Motor Mount, front lower engine to trans brace, replaced the oil fill adapter, put the crank pulley on (did NOT torque, had to get a new bolt, only $4.50 at the local dealership at least). I spent a LONG time drilling out a snapped bolt in the exhaust crossover......but got it done. Also got the flexplate off and the rear main seal out. And.......scored big. Those plugs are in the dealers info as "Head Port Plugs" and you can't get the seal separately. And the plugs are $11 EACH. Nope. Went to Napa and hit a home run.

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Part number is 22617-12 and the O-Rings were $.89 each, should be readily available at your local Napa if anyone is looking for a solution.

Tomorrow is my last opportunity for doing any work to the car for the next week. My goal is to have the motor back on the trans/cradle. I have to install the rear main seal, get the flexplate back on, then get the new crank pulley bolt torqued in. After that it'll be the water pump housing, then it should be ready to drop on to the trans.

As it sits now.

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I'm putting this as a reminder to myself. DO NOT FORGET SPARK PLUGS BEFORE PUTTING THE MOTOR BACK IN THE CAR. I keep having to remind myself to get plugs, lol.
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Tony S45

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"Hats Off" to you TT99C5 for undertaking this project and giving it to your M-I-L.

As you are aware, the Northstar four cam engine is a beauty which needed larger longer wider-threaded head bolts back in the 1990s when it was introduced. GM made a few attempts at correcting the problems over the early years after spending big $$$ fixing blown head gaskets under warranty. I was informed that starting mid 2005 the GM Northstars began using the same head bolts as the LS1. Can't confirm that however. Have you considered investigating the head bolt fixes before you reinstall the motor?

(My hobby car is an '03 C5 Coupe)
 

TT99C5

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Buick Ownership
2007 Lucerne
"Hats Off" to you TT99C5 for undertaking this project and giving it to your M-I-L.

As you are aware, the Northstar four cam engine is a beauty which needed larger longer wider-threaded head bolts back in the 1990s when it was introduced. GM made a few attempts at correcting the problems over the early years after spending big $$$ fixing blown head gaskets under warranty. I was informed that starting mid 2005 the GM Northstars began using the same head bolts as the LS1. Can't confirm that however. Have you considered investigating the head bolt fixes before you reinstall the motor?

(My hobby car is an '03 C5 Coupe)

This being a 07 it should be fine. From what I've seen in 2006 GM started using the LS6 head bolts in the northstar which all but eliminated the head gasket issue.

You have good taste too. As denoted by my username, my hobby car is a 99 C5 Coupe......twin turbo, fully built street car making a little over 900 RWHP maxed out on a sub-par fuel system which is currently being rectified. It'll make over 1000 RWHP next spring on about 18-19lbs of boost. I love my C5.....they're fantastic cars.

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I went out and put some more time in today on the car. Proper AC Delco plugs went into it, and started buttoning everything up on the motor. Other than a few nuts and bolts and some minor reworking of the harness it's just about ready to go back in.

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Since I have two of the rear coil covers, I noticed I could modify the one extra one and make it fit the front valve cover so I think I may do that just to pretty up the front of the motor, just for kicks.

OH!!! And my wife and I discussed it. Her mom needs a break, so for Christmas we talked about it and decided that we're going to sell the car to her for 50% of what I put into it. So she'll be getting it from me for about $1k flat. That is leaving her in a good enough position to have a halfway ok paint job done to it. Should be a car that will serve her for quite some time hopefully now.
 

Tony S45

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Great write-up on your work.

I'm your opposite --- I keep my hobby car as bone stock as possible (except for upgraded wheels for a little bling).
Car #2.jpg
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
That's super clean.

I can't leave anything alone, but I'm a HP junkie too. But my car isn't cobbled together like a lot of the kiddies are doing. I still have a full exhaust exiting out the rear, everything looks stock under the hood, etc. Turbo kit is an APS kit which low mounts the turbos on either side of the pan. It's built right, and is graceful and reliable, gets 28MPG on the highway still, all the while being a complete demon when I want to let it loose.

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Tony S45

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Really a tidy C5 installation. Impressive.

I have owned two Northstars, both 1993 Cadillac Allantes. Both had around 50k miles when purchased and 60k when sold a few years later. Kept them fully serviced including flushing out the Dexcool, replaced with generic for aluminum radiators, etc., and ALWAYS watched my temperature gauge as closely as the gas gauge. No mechanical problems, no blown head gaskets.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
And back to your regularly scheduled programming! When we last left off, I had the motor just about ready to go back in. So went out today and cleaned up a couple of things. Some zip ties here and there where the retaining clips broke, then I crawled into the empty engine bay and scrubbed it down some, and repaired a broken wire to what looks like a suspension sensor that's not hooked up (It's got standard shocks up front with some kind of sensor connected from the frame to the A-Arms, then ANOTHER wire that's not hooked up to anything......I'm feeling like this had a selective ride system that was tossed for standard shocks at some point).

So......let the games begin.

I'll begin this with a disclaimer. My best friend (who's barn I'm using) was supposed to meet me to help with this. I got impatient and went at it solo. Started with some selective zip tie use to ensure nothing catches as the car comes down over it.

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A little bit more cleaning, just in case something is leaking I can see it.
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Here we go!!!!!
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Clicks button: That was easy. This is 100% in except for a upper radiator hose clamp that went missing, and the vapor tube on the EVAP solenoid not being secured (broken retainer, didn't have a small enough zip tie to get it secured).
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Just got it roughly positioned, then walked the car down over it. Got one rear bolt started on the cradle and used that as a pivot point to align the rest. Was actually really simple. My buddy showed up right when I was getting ready to final tighten all the cradle bolts. He said "WTF am I chopped liver? Thought I was gonna help!"

All in all took me about 4 hours taking my dear sweet time, doing some cleaning and tidying, fixing the wire in the engine bay, etc, to go from out to 100% in. And it could be done much quicker if need be. There's times when I miss doing this professionally.

Tomorrow I'm going to get the car up off the ground again, back in the air so I can do the brakes, and address the rusted through brake lines under the car.

Left my buddies barn to this too, completely unexpected. Awesome! That's his place in the background......yes I'm a little green, I love his country setup.
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2007LucerneCXL

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Great installation, yes the CXS did have the magnetic ride and the resistors are there so no CEL and speed reduce notices while using regular struts and shocks come up.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
Great installation, yes the CXS did have the magnetic ride and the resistors are there so no CEL and speed reduce notices while using regular struts and shocks come up.

Hmmm.......I didn't see any resistors. May need to look into that. The plugs that look like they'd have plugged into the shocks were just open air.
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2007LucerneCXL

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Not sure why it would be empty unless it's modified some place up line. All the GM magnetic rides that have a aftermarket regular strut/shock, the magnetic replacement parts are insanely expensive, need the resistor from all kits I've seen.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
Not sure why it would be empty unless it's modified some place up line. All the GM magnetic rides that have a aftermarket regular strut/shock, the magnetic replacement parts are insanely expensive, need the resistor from all kits I've seen.

Given it was an old ladies car, I'm willing to bet it never saw 80 MPH and wasn't a concern. I'll either buy or fab up some resistors once I have the car running to quell any error messages that show up. I'll look at the rear shocks/setup when I'm doing the brakes to have a closer look to see if they were messed with at all.

I'm wondering......my C5 Corvette had the F45 Selective Ride Control and I had to remove it when the turbo kit went on the car (cold side piping interfered with the level sensors, the kit was fabricated around a ZO6 which didn't come with the F45/F55 option). I'm wondering if this buick is the same where I could go in with a Tech II and delete the Selective/Magnetic ride coding out of the BCM permanently like on my C5.
 

2007LucerneCXL

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I'll assume that it may be possible, but most of the change overs slap the resistor as it's no dealer trip involved keeping it cheap and simple. GM used these on other makes and models that may have more information on changes to the BCM, mine came with struts and shocks so I never had a need to look into.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
Last update for the year.....haha. Went out to the car today and started looking at the brakes. All four corners came apart fine. Given the car sat for a year, all four rotors were HEAVILY rusted. Past the point of saving. Which is a shame because the fronts were practically new. The rears were thrashed. All four corners getting new pads and rotors though. I stripped it all down, then started addressing the lines.

Surprisingly easy to get the rear brake lines out of the car.
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But between being an Ohio car and being parked in the grass under a tree for a year (this folks, is why you don't park in high grass for long terms.....or park a car and sit on it deciding what to do for a year........deterioration is a pita when it's not properly staged). This broken piece just crumbled as I was removing it, and all that wetness is brake fluid.

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Just rotten to the core. I though a friend who I knew had some extra nicopp line had enough but he didn't, so I'm working with a length enough to do the drivers side rear crossover for now, and sunday a new 25' roll of nicopp line will be delivered and I'll finish fabricating the rest of the rear lines next week since I'm working Monday through Thursday 12's again.

Other than that today, I got the pan to trans belly brace and flexplate cover back on, oil filter on, misc couple of hoses that needed clamped done also. Just need to put the core support back in and all the covers and stuff on. I'll probably get the front brakes back together and done tomorrow or Saturday (I forgot my ceramic high temp lube today), but I'm going to leave the rears apart for ease of access when I string the new lines through. Should be just a little longer and it'll hopefully be running and driving.
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2007LucerneCXL

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You may want to check the fuel line and EVAP from the rear to the engine bay if they may be in the same condition. Some movement while doing the swap can cause them to crack, sorry to say but I've replaced almost all the lines as GM wasn't using the best materials during that era, GM truck owners tried to get a class action suit against GM on brake lines failing prematurely.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
You may want to check the fuel line and EVAP from the rear to the engine bay if they may be in the same condition. Some movement while doing the swap can cause them to crack, sorry to say but I've replaced almost all the lines as GM wasn't using the best materials during that era, GM truck owners tried to get a class action suit against GM on brake lines failing prematurely.
Yeah......the fuel lines are gnarly, but solid. Especially at the turn up from under the car into the engine bay. Heavy corrosion, but I gently probed them with a fine punch and light ball peen and nothing gave up. They actually seem solid enough for now. I warned my MIL to have her mechanic keep an eye on them as they WILL eventually necessitate either a patch or full replacement, but for now they're ok.
 

TT99C5

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2007 Lucerne
Little update for today. My oldest and I went out and put the front brakes on the car as the primary job. I fabbed up the rear crossover line and my son was instrumental in helping me get the steering linkage hooked back up by manipulating the steering wheel when and where I said to. Finally got it to a point where I said "jiggle the wheel" and the linkage snapped right into place.

Semi-Pro tip: If you are trying to open up a brake fitting, say from a wheel hose to a hard line, and you're finding the hard line is twisting with the fitting indicating the two are seized together.........a handheld propane torch to heat it up followed by a splash of cold water to shock it will cause enough of a expand/contract reaction to free it up. Has NEVER failed me, and was used a couple of times between today and a couple of days ago.

My oldest looking accomplished though all he did was help grease the pins and get a LOT of explanation from me as to the how's and why's of doing brakes along the way.
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My hand fabbed rear crossover brake line. I've been doing Line Lock Kits for the C5 and C6 Corvette world along with the 4th Gen Firebird/Camaro world since 2008, so I'm no stranger to making brake lines. This was a pretty easy fab, and yes, it's long, but that's intentional as I wanted to give myself a little extra length to be able to manipulate the center section over the exhaust a bit better.
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My new 25' roll of NiCopp line will be here today so there's a 50/50 shot I may go out tomorrow morning for a couple hours worth of fab.......but it's also NFL week 17 and I'm playing the 2nd half of a two week championship in my Fantasy league........
 

2007LucerneCXL

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Good job, but....the brake calibers aren't RED and your mother in law won't be cool like all the other kids LOL.
 
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