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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post, I hope this is the right place.

I just purchased a 1990 Electra Estate Wagon with 30,000 actual miles, it has 305 & 2004R (I think). It will be using as a tow vehicle for my Argosy trailer (built by Airstream). It weighs about 4500 lbs, tonuge weight about 400 lbs. I have orderd a reece class IV hitch.

I fly to bring the car here. I don't know what axle ratio it has. It currenlty has the factory shocks and working rear air shocks & system. Factory tires (will replace right away, the age scars me) Needless to say I think the shocks will need something strout and probably doing away with the level system. I will be looking into a heavy duty sway bar. Later I'd like to review replacing the rear drums with Disc's.

Is the axle ratio, spring rates, coded in the vin #?

If anyone has some tips for me to consider, I appreciate your thoughts.

JB
 

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PM me the VIN#, I should be able to figure out the axle ratio, maybe even the spring rates...

I'd suggest MOOG Cargo Coils rear springs for replacement...


5.0L - ESTATE WAGON #CS5709; Rear Variable Rate Springs 5.0L - ESTATE WAGON #CC623


I believe that car will have the Oldsmobile 307 V8 4bbl, not the Chevy 305 TBI V8...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ALso lastyear, if you plan to do upgrades to this car, if you plan to keep it forever...

Something I always wanted to do to one of those carburated B bodies...:yup:

http://holley.com/502-20S.asp
I tend to keep a car along time especially one as nice/low mileage at this.

Thanks for the tips you shared, the Pro-jection system would solve many issues, power and economy but for the cost:eek:, maybe later in time but I'll need to evaluate it's performance on its arrival and see how it likes towing my Argosy! Definately the Moog cargo coils are a must.

Anyone have recomemdations on shocks and tires? I've had good luck with KYB & KONIS but I dont want to mess up the ride too much. I've purchased Yokohama Tires on other cars and have been very impressed with the brand.

I'll want to learn about Rear disc Brake conversion. Has anyone had success or problems doing this?

Thanks for your thoughts, JB
 

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Wagons usually came with 11" rear drums, as a rule they have been pretty hearty!

P22575R15 I believe is the fitted tire size....endless possibilities with tires!

I know, about $2500 for a Pro-Jection kit...I know of a guy who used one of these...night & day for driveability!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wagons usually came with 11" rear drums, as a rule they have been pretty hearty!

P22575R15 I believe is the fitted tire size....endless possibilities with tires!

I know, about $2500 for a Pro-Jection kit...I know of a guy who used one of these...night & day for driveability!
Thanks GMCSonoma, do you know if 3.23 was the lowest gear for towing & does the vin indicate a trans cooloer or tow package?
Thanks, JB
 

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Ah, nice ride congrats!

Once again GMCSonoma is a wealth of info...
Here's some tips from my experience:

Gearing: 2.73, 2.93 or 3.23:1. 3.23:1 is the lowest factory cogs in wagons, 9C1 police cars had 3.42:1. If the car has a factory class III hitch and a trans cooler, it should have 3.23s. Check the diff tag, it's probably still there.
The rear end is a 8.5" 10-bolt. It should have 30 spline axles but on B-bodies always check first. 8.5" rear ends are really stout, especially with 30 splines. One can change to lots of different gear sets if needed.

Suspension: Moog coils are a good bet, add air bags in the coils and run HD gas shocks. Bags let you put the extra lift on the spring pocket, where it should be, but keep the nice Buick ride. When I inherited my wagon it had coil-overs and saggy stock springs. I junked all that for HD springs, bags, and HD gas shocks from NAPA. Nothing super expensive, but it all worked great! No sway bar out back either.

Engine: Yes, it is an Olds 307 with an electronic feed-back 4bbl Q-jet. The small port heads don't flow well so don't go crazy with gearing or you'll run out of steam on hills. The engine has a roller cam which is nice, but changing to a Projection set up will require a new non-ECM controlled distributor with a roller cam drive gear. The trans lock-up is ecm controlled as well. Make sure that the EGR solenoid valve is working properly. If the carb needs a rebuild have a good shop do it. A properly rebuilt electronic Q-jet is very reliable and the mileage isn't bad. Mine went from mid 16s to 22 or so on the highway with a carb rebuild, advanced timing, K&N, and free flowing exhaust.

Brakes: The rear drums, properly adjusted, working with the larger front discs work great. I used to way overload my '84 Chev and never had an issue.
Mine had hydro boost and it was freakin' awesome. Better brakes than on my new Dodge pickup. Remember: "Properly adjusted".

Tires: I ran P225/75R15 BFGs, they fill the wheel well nicely. With cargo coils out back and a fresh set of springs up front you might be able to get away with LT235/75R-15s for the extra weight capacity and LT rating, but the P-series 75s work just fine.

Cooling: Modine radiator p/n: 1R563 is a 3-core direct replacement. Available at NAPA, Autozone and other parts stores.

Trans: The TH200R4 is a great trans. If there isn't a trans cooler on it, get a plate-style cooler and install it infront of the condenser with the input into the cooler from the outlet of the transcooler in the radiator.
 

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Nailhead hits the "nail"!!!! Lastyear, your car was built with heavy suspension & cooling...so as Nailhead suggested!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nailhead425,

Wow, thank you for the great information and these tips from you and GMCSonoma will be very useful to me.

I have been a lifelong GM fan, my parents have always owned Cadillacs, Buicks (earliest I remember riding in was a new 55 Roadmaster with Air), Olds, and many Pontiacs (generally Star Chiefs).

I have had some great cars and great memories (65 Starfire, 66 2dr Caprice Custom CP, 66 Stingray, 70 /Cutlass SX Convertable and 81 Black Eldorado)

In 2003 I went wayward and bought a 2003 Ford Excursion Limited w/just introduced 6.0diesel; it is the worst vehichle I have ever owned. It has a constant repair requirement. Even the rear main seal began leaking at 60K miles and the transmittion had to be pulled to fix! Turbo replaced, all injectors replaced, 4 new EGR's and numerous other issues. I will never own another Ford. I will sell this when the Buick Estate Wagon is ready to take it's place.

After I purchased my 05 Buick LaCross CXS, it was like an old friend has come back into my life; I can't wait for the 30,000 1990 Buick Estate.

JB
 

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Great choice. My 1981 Bonneville has this same powertrain. The only thing I was told is that the 200-4R transmission is kind of flimsy. Had to rebuild mine at about 103,000 miles. The Olds 307 engine though will go forever with just regular maintenence if you have a good one. The only thing with mine is that it never really seems to have a lot or performance. One I drove in a 1984 Buick Park Avenue seemed to have more performance even though that car had 260,000 miles. Definatly upgrade the suspension. These things come from GM with the softest suspensions known to man. Both my B-bodies had helper springs along with the main springs being replaced. That made it possible to have people in the back and things in the trunk without the rear end sitting near the ground. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the kind input! I leave Wednesday morning to retrieve the Buick. Will be ordering the Class IV hitch on Monday. Will send pics when the Buick arrives.
 

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I like heavy duty wagons:cool:
 

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Got to love the old b-bodies before they streamlined them. I was told but maybe somebody can verify that a 307 has a shelf life of 200,000 miles. The Chevrolet 305 by comparison is 140,000 miles.
 

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Got to love the old b-bodies before they streamlined them. I was told but maybe somebody can verify that a 307 has a shelf life of 200,000 miles. The Chevrolet 305 by comparison is 140,000 miles.
The 307 Olds is a good engine and in normal use 200k shouldn't be an issue.
They seem to have a common issue with the EGR passages and the EGR solenoid. This can cause horrid pinging and the clogged passages is often overlooked. They are a windowed main block so they are no true race engine, but in stock form and up to about 250hp very reliably.

The 305 is a traditional small block Chevy, save for the puny bore. Again with proper care, 200k shouldn't be an issue. 305s often suffer from a broken composite cam gear for the timing chain and the fact that a 350 bolts in a 305s place, weighs the same and will make more power.

I forgot to add...a phenolic carb spacer (plastic or composite, 4-hole, Q-jet spacing) makes a huge difference with the 307. The intake is really short and the plenum volume suffers. The small ports result in high velocity so more volume is a easy way to give it more oomph without pulling the heads. FYI, the Edelbrock Performer EGR Olds 350 will not fit with your heads. You'll need to replace your heads with earlier 5A heads that have roller cam springs installed.
 

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So in my case the Bonneville has better heads than the later 307s? In my case I will just keep the both of mine as is. Just wish I could find the vacuum leak in the Bonneville. Kind of hard to tell with all the hoses that are there. Other than that and the fact it stumbles a little while its warming up the 307 on there runs well. The Chevrolet runs smoother though that doesnt have the vacuum leak the 307 does.
 

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Would the carb spacer work on the 1981 too?
 
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