1984 Delta 88 307 & thm200 to 455 & thm400

Old September 17th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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1984 Delta 88 307 & thm200 to 455 & thm400

i am wondering if anyone has any insight on common issues while doing a motor and trans swap from SB 307 and thm200 metric to a BB 455 and THM400 in a 1984 Delta 88, or any B body? also i am well into the part collection phase and wondering if there are headers that will work for the setup ? what exactly can be swapped over from the 307 to the 455 ? or what is highly recommend to upgrade?

FYI (motor and trans are out of a 73 VIsta Cruiser) and suspectivly going to be pushing around 500 hp
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Old September 17th, 2018, 08:56 PM
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The 455 bolts right in. You may have an issue with clearance to the HVAC box due to the taller deck height. Due to the common engine architecture, many parts swap from the 307, but the reality is that you don't want them. For example, the 307 oil pan bolts up to the 455, but BBO pans are contoured slightly differently. The 307 distributor bolts right in, but it is the computer controlled CCC distributor that requires the ECU to digitally advance the spark - and the 307 ECU requires the computer controlled Q-jet to operate properly. The valve covers swap and may give you a smidge more clearance. The front cover is the same, and the water pump swaps as well. The one inch taller deck height of the 455 means that pushrods don't swap. The 307 accessory brackets can be made to work on the 455 with a couple of minor mods to account for that extra inch. The starter bolts up, but you don't want that small, low-torque starter. The flexplate swaps. The 307 balancer is just a counterweight, not a dampener, so don't use it.
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Old September 18th, 2018, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by joe_padavano View Post
. The 307 distributor bolts right in, but it is the computer controlled CCC distributor that requires the ECU to digitally advance the spark.
could i use the same distributor with a MSD control box? or would i have to upgrade the distributor ? i removed my heater box completely, going higher capacity oiliing system, i have been running a edlebrock 750cfm carb for a few years. thanks for the information
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Old September 18th, 2018, 06:50 PM
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I would think you could use the factory CCC distributor with a programmable MSD box. That would require the vacuum and centrifugal advance locked out, which the CCC distributor doesnít have anyway. I would think if you removed the CCC ignition module and used the pickup coil to trigger the ignition box it would work. You would have to program your own advance curve, and that would save you the hassle of changing weights and springs curving the distributor the old fashion way. I have saved a couple of low mileage excellent condition CCC distributors with the idea of trying this sometime. If you try it and it works, let me know. Of it wonít work thatís extra parts I have no need to waste space storing!!!
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Old September 18th, 2018, 07:05 PM
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Why do you want to do that? You're building a motor to allegedly produce 500 HP, and you're going to cheap out and reuse the CCC distributor? Sorry but that makes no sense whatsoever. The CCC distributor has no advance capabilities. It relies on the ECU to measure RPM and manifold vacuum (it gets RPM from the TACH signal and manifold vac from the MAP sensor). It then uses these values against a lookup table to pick the correct advance. I don't know how an MSD box works with this setup, but either you are sensing RPM only (in which case you only have the equivalent of mechanical advance) or you somehow have to adapt a MAP sensor the the MSD box. Why do you want to f-around with a kluge like this? Spend $60 or $100 and get a real distributor that is correct for your application. If you are really building a 500HP motor, the cost of that distributor is in the noise.
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Old September 18th, 2018, 08:39 PM
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Joe, if that is the case what is the best style of distributor the 455 with the MSD ignition control box, Mechanical or Vaccum or both ? also i still am planning on running a HEI distributor.
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Old September 19th, 2018, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by joe_padavano View Post
Why do you want to do that? You're building a motor to allegedly produce 500 HP, and you're going to cheap out and reuse the CCC distributor? Sorry but that makes no sense whatsoever. The CCC distributor has no advance capabilities. It relies on the ECU to measure RPM and manifold vacuum (it gets RPM from the TACH signal and manifold vac from the MAP sensor). It then uses these values against a lookup table to pick the correct advance. I don't know how an MSD box works with this setup, but either you are sensing RPM only (in which case you only have the equivalent of mechanical advance) or you somehow have to adapt a MAP sensor the the MSD box. Why do you want to f-around with a kluge like this? Spend $60 or $100 and get a real distributor that is correct for your application. If you are really building a 500HP motor, the cost of that distributor is in the noise.

Im pretty sure MSD has a programmable ignition controller that includes a map sensor (I know the make one intended for boosted applications) all the CCC distributor would provide is a trigger. Obviously, there are many options to provide that signal, Hall effect, ignition points, pickup coil, etc. The programmable ignition box would simply take the place of advance weights,springs, and vacuum canisters. My thoughts for using a CCC distributor is itís cheap, it already has the timing ďlockedĒ and wouldnít require the expense of a aftermarket coil. Like I said, I havenít researched it, maybe it wouldnít work, I donít know. But if I was on a budget (how many of us donít have that problem?!) I would consider looking into the possibility.

And just to add fuel to the heated discussion, Iím guessing there are lots of people who have 500 plus hp with a standard HEI, and some probably are triggered by a MSD ignition box. Why would the older HEI be acceptable and not the newer CCC HEI if they are doing basically the same function?

Last edited by matt69olds; September 19th, 2018 at 12:37 AM.
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Old September 19th, 2018, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by matt69olds View Post
And just to add fuel to the heated discussion, Iím guessing there are lots of people who have 500 plus hp with a standard HEI, and some probably are triggered by a MSD ignition box. Why would the older HEI be acceptable and not the newer CCC HEI if they are doing basically the same function?
One can certainly use a CCC distributor as a trigger (and as a rotary switch) with some other means of actually controlling the spark parameters. My bigger point was that a "500 HP" build requires all the parts to match and work as a system in the intended operating regime. When someone asks "do I need mechanical or vacuum advance or both", that tells me that education is needed first.

Is this a strip-only motor or will it be primarily street driven? What is the cam selected? What is the LSA and resulting idle characteristics? Do you care about part throttle performance or not? What are the rear end gears? A motor at this performance level needs to be built as a system, or else "500 HP" is just fantasy. As for using an "MSD box", WHICH "MSD box"? As you point out, some will do what is required, some won't. Is coupling an all-singing, all-dancing ignition controller with a 35 year old distributor body in need of new shaft bushings really the smartest, most cost effective ignition solution here? The fact that you can do something doesn't necessarily mean that you should.
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Old September 19th, 2018, 05:37 PM
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Iím not sure of the MSD part number for the programmable ignition control box, I just know I considered upgrading to something similar before I decided to go EFI (which included timing control). And obviously, before I would use any distributor of unknown history (or any other part for that matter) I would give it a through inspection. Whatís the point of installing a ďnewĒ part thatís old and worn out? Iím cheap, but I donít like having to do things over.
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Old September 19th, 2018, 08:02 PM
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So I have direct experience on this, having owned a daily driven 1980 Olds Delta 88 2 door with a 455 and 400 trans.

Here is what I recommend doing:

Get rid of everything Electronically controlling the 307 : Distributor, ecu, computer carb, vacuum solenoids, etc, etc. DON'T SWAP ANYTHING FROM THE 307 to the 455.

Here is what you need or can/should use in my experience:

Use Big Block valve covers and stock oil pan, or you can even use a deep pan such as the Canton or Moroso. The Moroso pan does hang below the engine crossmember, so you will want to make some type of protection plate/shield to keep from bottoming out.

Performer intake or Torker intake will work with medium height drop base 14 x 3 air filter and still clear the stock hood

I had Hooker Headers part number 3101 on my car. They fit if you remove the lower control arm to frame brace. They fit very nice and did not hang down too much or rub anywhere

We modified my original single exhaust transmission crossmember to have a "U" in it to allow a dual exhaust from the headers back

I had a column shift and we made a new "U" shaped Shifter linkage rod to go from the column to the factory shift lever connection and over the header, it worked perfectly and the shift indicator worked perfect as well, as my car originally only had a TH200 3 speed trans.

used a TH400 transmission and there were no fitment issues, it bolted right up and didn't rub anywhere; I ran a TCI breakaway converter and it was a joy to drive

used the long A-6 A/C compressor and made custom hoses and it would get icy cold and no mods were required to the factory HVAC box on the firewall

I had to use all the factory 455 brackets and pulleys and V-belts and power steering pump. I had custom power steering hoses made to mate up from the pump to the steering box, but you may be able to get some Metric to SAE adapters for your metric steering box to allow you to use hoses for a mid-70's Delta 88 or cutlass.

I got a 1976 Monte Carlo 8.5 Ten bolt rear and it swapped in with nothing more than narrowing the upper rear bushings installed on the rear pumpkin. We boxed the stock control arms and installed a rear sway bar from the same Monte Carlo (You might try the factory control arms from the Monte Carlo, they may work. By the way, this is a great 10 bolt rear, as it has large drum brakes and no C-Clips from the factory. We installed a set of 3.42 gears and a factory posi after a rebuild kit.

Ran a sway bar off of an early 80's trans am WS6 with poly busings and end links and rebuilt stock control arms with PST graphites

I ran a rebuilt standard HEI(I would have run a good quality new Billet HEI if it would have been available at the time) with goo with a Moroso recurve kit on the mechanical advance, and a crane adjustable vacuum advance can tuned well ; I worked at a hot rod parts shop and saw too many failed MSD boxes, and I found the MSD HEI module to work the best and the AC Delco was a close second. You won't notice a difference if you stay under 5,000rpm. The AC Delco coil or MSD coils are the best. Don't run other brands of part store components, you will be chasing ignition issues. GO OE quality or better and stay away from most capacitive discharge boxes. Run good spark plug wires (Taylor 8.5mm's or larger) and NGK spark plugs. Run a brass terminal cap and high quality brass rotor with a low resistance rotor button.

a mechanical fuel pump fed a 650 Holley double pumper, as it had more fuel capacity than a Q-Jet and didn't run out gas.

ran an aluminum factory hood off a station wagon to shave some weight

I had a 9.5:1 compression 455 mild build with a 230/[email protected] duration hydraulic cam and mild ported C heads.
I ran 12.70's @ 108mph with drag radials and it got 16-17mpg on the highway at 70mph absolutely loved that car before it got totalled by a drunk in a camaro.

Last edited by Battenrunner; September 19th, 2018 at 08:30 PM.
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Old September 19th, 2018, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Battenrunner View Post
So I have direct experience on this, having owned a daily driven 1980 Olds Delta 88 2 door with a 455 and 400 trans.

Here is what I recommend doing:

Get rid of everything Electronically controlling the 307 : Distributor, ecu, computer carb, vacuum solenoids, etc, etc. DON'T SWAP ANYTHING FROM THE 307 to the 455.

Here is what you need or can/should use in my experience:

Use Big Block valve covers and stock oil pan, or you can even use a deep pan such as the Canton or Moroso. The Moroso pan does hang below the engine crossmember, so you will want to make some type of protection plate/shield to keep from bottoming out.

Performer intake or Torker intake will work with medium height drop base 14 x 3 air filter and still clear the stock hood

I had Hooker Headers part number 3101 on my car. They fit if you remove the lower control arm to frame brace. They fit very nice and did not hang down too much or rub anywhere

We modified my original single exhaust transmission crossmember to have a "U" in it to allow a dual exhaust from the headers back

I had a column shift and we made a new "U" shaped Shifter linkage rod to go from the column to the factory shift lever connection and over the header, it worked perfectly and the shift indicator worked perfect as well, as my car originally only had a TH200 3 speed trans.

used a TH400 transmission and there were no fitment issues, it bolted right up and didn't rub anywhere; I ran a TCI breakaway converter and it was a joy to drive

used the long A-6 A/C compressor and made custom hoses and it would get icy cold and no mods were required to the factory HVAC box on the firewall

I had to use all the factory 455 brackets and pulleys and V-belts and power steering pump. I had custom power steering hoses made to mate up from the pump to the steering box, but you may be able to get some Metric to SAE adapters for your metric steering box to allow you to use hoses for a mid-70's Delta 88 or cutlass.

I got a 1976 Monte Carlo 8.5 Ten bolt rear and it swapped in with nothing more than narrowing the upper rear bushings installed on the rear pumpkin. We boxed the stock control arms and installed a rear sway bar from the same Monte Carlo (You might try the factory control arms from the Monte Carlo, they may work. By the way, this is a great 10 bolt rear, as it has large drum brakes and no C-Clips from the factory. We installed a set of 3.42 gears and a factory posi after a rebuild kit.

Ran a sway bar off of an early 80's trans am WS6 with poly busings and end links and rebuilt stock control arms with PST graphites

I ran a rebuilt standard HEI(I would have run a good quality new Billet HEI if it would have been available at the time) with goo with a Moroso recurve kit on the mechanical advance, and a crane adjustable vacuum advance can tuned well ; I worked at a hot rod parts shop and saw too many failed MSD boxes, and I found the MSD HEI module to work the best and the AC Delco was a close second. You won't notice a difference if you stay under 5,000rpm. The AC Delco coil or MSD coils are the best. Don't run other brands of part store components, you will be chasing ignition issues. GO OE quality or better and stay away from most capacitive discharge boxes. Run good spark plug wires (Taylor 8.5mm's or larger) and NGK spark plugs. Run a brass terminal cap and high quality brass rotor with a low resistance rotor button.

a mechanical fuel pump fed a 650 Holley double pumper, as it had more fuel capacity than a Q-Jet and didn't run out gas.

ran an aluminum factory hood off a station wagon to shave some weight

I had a 9.5:1 compression 455 mild build with a 230/[email protected] duration hydraulic cam and mild ported C heads.
I ran 12.70's @ 108mph with drag radials and it got 16-17mpg on the highway at 70mph absolutely loved that car before it got totalled by a drunk in a camaro.

this is is my dream project car, I would love to bolt a turbo on a mild 455 and really raise some eyebrows!!! Maybe someday
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Old September 21st, 2018, 09:26 AM
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Well, ended up getting a new distributor that has both advances, i have the 6al control box. i think i have everything i need to put the motor and trans into my car and my Delta is setup up for autocross, i have full QA1 suspension front and rear. currently factory gears and found a replacement crossmember since i have long shaft 400
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