Response to "Prindle" in the Nov. '09 issue
Q: I've also been around since dirt, and prior to my current position was not familiar with the term "rooster comb." I've been an engineer in the auto trans shifter group of an OEM (not one run by the government) for 14 years. I can't speak for the other OEMs, but the part that creates the detent positions in the auto trans is usually referred to as a rooster comb. This nickname comes from the fact that if you look at the part from the side, it resembles the comb on the head of a rooster. Most drawings refer to this part as the "inner manual lever," but for clarity we normally use rooster comb. It's easier for people to get a visual on what part you're discussing. So Jeff was correct.
And you are correct that the gear position indicators (both next to the floor shifter and in the instrument panel) are called PRNDL.
Farmington Hills, MI
A: Phil, thanks for the response. Guess we haven't been working on the right brand of automobiles all of these years to know what a rooster comb was. Now that you mention it-and describe the visual-we can see the resemblance. Thanks for the education, and good luck back there in Farmington Hills. I understand it's quite tough in the Detroit area.
Long-Distance Chp Family
Q: I read CHP everywhere-at work, in bed, even between traffic lights. You guys are worldwide! I recently bought a '77 Camaro LT right before our government banned importing cars older than five years-it came with 49,000 miles on the clock, a 350, and no performance!
Since my goal was to smoke out LS1s on the street/track, I was left in a car enthusiast dilemma, not knowing what to do with the car. I always bought the best bang-for-the-buck parts so I would like to do it the once-and-for-all way, with a cheap price. Should I rebuild my SBC? Would it only offer limited power? Also, which low-end and top-end kits should I use? Should I build a big-block 454 since gas is cheaper than water over here? Six liters of 95-octane pump gas costs only a dollar. No, we don't ride camels anymore!
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A: If you're trying to chase LS-powered performance cars, I think you should fight fire with fire. The big-block is a very nice swap, but you add a ton of weight to the front of your Camaro. We'd go with an LS2 swap. You get 6.0 liters of performance for around 450 pounds. This will be a very easy swap for your Camaro. Check with Turn Key to buy a bolt-in engine package with a calibrated controller and harness. This is the easiest way to go about it. If you have access to a crashed Chevy CR8, pull the 6.0L out of that. This is a Holden Commodore-based HSV Clubsport R8 from Australia. GM rebadges these cars as Chevrolets in the Middle East. The CR8 is equipped with a 6.0L LS2 producing 412 hp. This would really wake up your second-generation Camaro.
Q: I'm looking for a new gearbox for my '87 Chevy truck. Currently, I have a stock power gearbox. Is there a manual box with maybe a different gear ratio so it would turn easy but not have the power steering pump to suck power.
A: Getting something for nothing is pretty tough. Manual steering boxes take a great amount of effort on the driver's part to turn the wheel, especially in a truck. We converted our Malibu wagon race car back to manual steering; the original manual steering box has a ratio of 22:1. This is the only way that you can have enough strength to turn the wheel, and with this high of a ratio you're turning the wheel for days to make a turn. Most power boxes these days are variable ratio and they vary from 12 to 18:1, depending on the vehicle's speed and steering effort.