Project: K.I.T.T. is the restoration & conversion of a 1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into Knight Rider's KITT

Differential Cover, Knight Pins & ECM Chips

posted by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated ]

I bought Permatex Ultra Black Gasket Maker so I could put the rear differential cover back on.

Per the instructions, I made a quarter inch continuous bead all around the cover.

I put the top and bottom bolts through the cover and used them to position the cover into place on the differential. Once these were in place I hand-tightened all the bolts down, utilizing a star pattern. I had to leave this sit for an hour before I torqued the bolts down to their 30 ft lb spec.

Here is a closeup of the Pontiac arrowhead stainless steel bolts.

I received two packages in the mail today. The first package was from Mark Puette.

It was the gullwing knight-head emblem pins I ordered.

The knight-head and the back of the pin is a heavy black nickle plating that has a dark mirror finish. These look awesome! Thanks for making these Mark!

The second package I received today was the 5.0 L EPROM #16139492 and Calpack #16060836 I ordered from ebay.

Cross-Fire Injection Adapter

posted Apr 21, 2015, 7:41 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 21, 2015, 7:43 PM ]

When I decided that I wanted to replace the wiring harness on KITT, I knew that I wanted to use a wiring harness from Painless Performance. They have some of the best wiring harnesses available. I have been gathering parts that will be needed in order to use their electronic fuel injection harness. Troy had the ECM #1227747 and I just recently found the 5.0 L EPROM #16139492 and Calpack #16060836 from a seller on ebay.

The last piece I would need to make the EFI harness functional with KITT's Cross-fire setup was the Painless Wiring Cross-fire Injection Adapter Part # 60112. Unfortunately, this part was discontinued by Painless Performance in 2011. I tried unsuccessfully to order this from five different online vendors that still showed it as in stock on their web sites. Each time I was informed that they could not fulfill the order as the manufacturer no longer stocked the part.

Feeling frustrated I called Painless Performance and spoke with Mike in technical support. I explained that I wanted to use their EFI harness to power KITT's 1983 Cross-fire injection system, but that I could not without the adapter. I also explained how many stores I had contacted looking for the part. He said that he had one on the shelf behind him and that he would check with the powers that be to find out if he could just sell it to me. He took my number and promised a call back.

He called back about 15 minutes later and said that he could sell it to me for well below what I had found it online for! It arrived today. Thanks Mike!

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

posted Apr 17, 2015, 8:00 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 17, 2015, 8:04 PM ]

I titled this post for Sara, my A-Team fan. If you are not familiar with the show, Hannibal Smith often uses this catch phrase when things work out and go his way. It also sums up how I felt today when I stopped by Troy's shop.

I stopped in to ask him a few questions, and we got to talking about the EFI harness I plan to use for KITT. I mentioned I have been searching for the ECM the harness will require, but so far have not found one. He asked, "Which one is it? I have about fifty of them in the back." He went to the back of the shop, opened up a cupboard, and the first ECM he pulled out was SERV. NO. 1227747 - the exact one I needed! Thanks, Troy!! Now all I need to find is the PROM for the 5.0 L engine.

When I got home this evening I removed the masking tape from the differential cover. Here are the results:

I am having trouble capturing the true red color of the differential cover, so here is a little darker picture that is closer to its true color.

The last piece I needed to paint before taking the paint booth down was the small metal bracket for the blower motor housing. This bracket is used to mount the blower motor.

I am using the same satin black I used on the housing.

Painting The Differential Cover

posted Apr 16, 2015, 6:58 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 16, 2015, 7:00 PM ]

One of the projects I have been putting off is cleaning up the intermediate steering shaft. The engine rock shield was particularly grimy. I started using Gojo wipes to cut through the grime. The plastic is actually shiny black underneath and will not need to be painted. You can see just how bad it was on the areas around the collar that I still need to work on.

My new differential cover arrived last night! It is painted a shiny gloss black on both sides.

The first thing I wanted to do was remove the white stamped Dorman logo. It was raised just enough that I was afraid it would show through the paint. A little bit of lacquer thinner took it right off.

With the logo removed, I next roughed up the glossy surface with steel wool. I wanted to make sure to get the best paint adhesion possible.

Because the inside is also glossy black, I taped off the inside rim as well as the portion that curves upward. When I painted the last differential cover, there was no red paint on this portion and it looked odd from the side.

Here you can see better what I am talking about. This way when I am done painting it, the part that curls on the edge will be glossy black.

Last step before painting was to wipe down the portion that would be painted with rubbing alcohol to remove any oil/grease/dust.

Here is the paint I am using on the differential cover. Krylon Super Maxx Gloss Banner Red.

Here is what it looks like:

I will take more pictures once the paint is dry and I get the cover back in place.

Painting The Blower Housing

posted Apr 12, 2015, 5:02 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 12, 2015, 5:05 PM ]

Our paint booth held up well in storage. We got it set up this afternoon in no time.

We didn't get a good inside picture of our paint booth. Sorry. We added a ventilation source with a fan and filter this afternoon. No picture of that either...

We masked off the foam seal portion of the blower housing to keep the paint off.

I applied two coats of Krylon Fusion Satin Black. I think they turned out nice!

Here is a mock-up of the lower blower housing held in place. I am happy with the way it looks.

Here are both pieces of the blower housing together. A successful afternoon project!

Prepping For Paint

posted Apr 11, 2015, 7:46 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 11, 2015, 7:51 PM ]

I am feeling better today...well, at least I don't feel awful and I am not constantly coughing as I have been for the past two and a half weeks. I actually felt like getting out and working on KITT! 
I decided to repaint the differential cover because I am unhappy with how the finish turned out. I used a red caliper paint, and the finish did not end up smooth. It is very wavy and shows all the brush marks. I did a poll on the blog a while back asking whether I should paint the differential cover black along with the other red parts that ended up covered in gray primer. The poll results indicated I should keep it red.

Today I pulled the differential cover off. Now you can see the new gears and posi unit.

Troy had put just enough differential oil in it to keep the gears lubricated when we were pushing it around. I drained this out and saved it for use again. I then placed a clean bowl over the opening to keep the inside clean.

Troy had used RTV Silicone Gasket Maker to seal the differential cover. I started by scraping this off.

Then I applied paint stripper to the front of the differential cover. I did this several times, but it did not lift the caliper paint.

Even with heavy scraping, it barely scratched the surface.

I briefly considered getting out the wire wheel to remove the caliper paint, but then decided to check how much a new differential cover would cost. I found one on Amazon and decided the time I would spend wire wheeling and cleaning this differential cover up for paint would cost me more than just purchasing a new one. My new differential cover should be here Wednesday.

Moving on to the blower housing... This is the upper portion of the housing.

This is the lower portion of the blower housing.

I removed the blower motor so we can clean the blower housing and prep it for painting.

I will be replacing the blower motor. If you have a '83 LeSabre and need a blower motor, let me know. ;)

Lower portion of the blower housing with blower motor removed and ready to clean:

I cleaned the housing in two stages. First I used POR-15 Cleaner Degreaser, scrubbed the parts with a brush, and rinsed them with clean water to remove the major grime and dirt.

I hung them in the garage to dry. There was still some areas that were dirty, so we took them inside and washed them with hot water.

Here are the two pieces, cleaned and ready for paint! We will set up the painting booth tomorrow and hopefully will get some painting done.

Lastly, Mark Puette has created a limited run of collectible lapel pin modeled after the gullwing knight-head emblem. It is actually a recreation of the exact knight-head emblem found on a screen-used gullwing. It is 1.5" in diameter. I ordered two. Click here for ordering information.

Renegade Intake Manifold

posted Mar 31, 2015, 7:22 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 31, 2015, 7:27 PM ]

The following was copied from Dynamic Cross-fire Solutions and is presented here for historical purposes. 




More Flow - Corrected Runner Length, Dimension & Taper - More Power & Torque - 20% More Plenum Area - Direct OEM Performance Replacement

DCS is dedicated to changing the image and mind set of CFI. With that said, the RENEGADE manifold from DCS is an ALL new custom built manifold from the ground up specifically designed to DCS specs for the dual throttle body crossfire by a leading manifold manufacturer. The RENEGADE manifold is the ONLY OEM crossfire performance direct replacement manifold that will be on the market to include an EGR provision that will not be an extra charge add-on. The RENEGADE was designed, built and dyno tested for use on the 82, 83 and 84 crossfire motors. The manifold will fit under the stock hood of all Crossfire vehicles with no other modifications needed.

- The DCS RENEGADE manifold IS NOT just another stock crossfire manifold

- IS NOT another ported crossfire manifold

- IS NOT a modified aftermarket manifold

- IS NOT a Frankenstein manifold mix of an aftermarket machined manifold and custom machined parts and added cost items to make it work

The Renegade is a completely new designed CFI performance manifold with corrections to runner angle, taper, cross sectional area and other flow enhancements. The manifold comes complete with a stock EGR option.

We have tested the RENEGADE on our own 383 CFI motors against the competitions manifold and noticed a dyno proven 20+RWHP gain over that manifold without any further tuning or fuel pressure adjustments, we just swapped out the competitions manifold and installed the Renegade and hit it. We do of course expect even greater increases in horsepower as we begin our dyno tuning phase. The RENEGADE manifold will support all existing OEM CFI parts and accessories. The manifold will also support custom bored throttle bodies.


NOTE: Just to let customers know, Eckler's and now Summit are still selling our manifold if you would still like to purchase one. These will remain available until we pull our tooling from the company. Get one while you can.

After comparing the differences in intake port sizes between the engine block and the stock intake manifold I knew I had to order a Renegade intake manifold while I still could. It arrived today! I couldn't wait to get it unboxed!

It was very well packed.

They include the gaskets and stainless hardware for mounting the top plate to the intake manifold.

Here is the Renegade intake manifold!

After work today I stopped at Troy's shop to grab the stock crossfire intake manifold. I wanted to be able to compare the differences between the two.

They secured the top plate for shipment with some of the stainless steel hardware.

With both top plates removed you can see immediate differences.

Inside the Renegade:

One of the things I noticed when searching online for information on the Renegade intake manifold was that it was very hard to find comparison pictures showing the differences. What follows below is my attempt at thoroughly documenting the differences between an unmodified stock crossfire intake manifold and the Renegade intake manifold. As always, you can click on the pictures for larger/higher resolution versions.

Stock on the top; Renegade on the bottom.

Stock on the left; Renegade on the right.

Renegade on the top; Stock on the bottom.

Renegade on the left; Stock on the right.

Stock on top; Renegade on bottom.

Stock on top; Renegade on bottom.

Stock on top; Renegade on bottom.

Stock on top; Renegade on bottom.

Stock on the left; Renegade on the right. Here you can see the drastic difference in port sizes. In my previous post I illustrated this by holding the gasket up to the stock ports.

Renegade on the top; Stock on the bottom.

Renegade on the left; Stock on the right.

Stock on top; Renegade on bottom.

Renegade on top; Stock on bottom.

Renegade on top; Stock on bottom.

Renegade on top; Stock on bottom.

Renegade on top; Stock on bottom.

These are the top plates. Renegade on the left; Stock on the right.

Stock on the left; Renegade on the right.

KITT's Rockin' Red Engine!

posted Mar 20, 2015, 7:23 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:40 AM ]

I stopped down at Troy's today after work today because I had a couple of questions for him. I wanted to get his opinion on using a newer ECM along with the Painless EFI harness. In order to make the new harness work, I will need to use an ECM out of an 1986 to 1993 Firebird. I was a little concerned about being able to balance and tune the Cross-fire with a newer ECM. Troy said that it would not be an issue. 

The second thing I wanted to ask him about was the intake manifold. I am trying to decide whether to leave it stock, port it out, or purchase the Renegade manifold. Troy said I would definitely see a benefit by porting the manifold and even more by using the Renegade manifold. He was trying to explain just how restrictive the stock manifold was. He said it might be easier to just show me... also, they just finished painting the engine red! We went to the back of the shop to check it out.

Here is the engine:

Check out these roller rockers:

Here are the intake ports on the engine block.

Here they are on the opposite side. Notice how close the gasket holes fit the port openings (keep in mind it is a little off-center in this picture). The gaskets are die cut to fit the ports exactly.

Here is the gasket on the bottom of the stock manifold. Look how restricted the ports are.

Here is another picture showing how much smaller the ports are on the intake manifold. 

When I saw this, it became apparent to me that I really need to either port the stock manifold or purchase the Renegade manifold.

When I think about the time and effort that would go into porting the stock manifold (not to mention how easy it would be to screw up) it just makes more sense to purchase the Renegade manifold. I could achieve some of the benefits by porting, but not all. The Renegade manifold was designed from the ground up to make maximum use of the stock shape and dimensions. I have decided to order one. When it arrives I will do a side-by-side comparison of the manifolds to highlight the differences.

KITT Has All 16 Wheels On The Ground

posted Mar 16, 2015, 6:27 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:39 AM ]

We decided to take advantage of the super nice weather and get KITT down off the jack stands.

Sara took this picture to point out all the stuff I have again stored inside KITT. She says KITT is not impressed.

I started by raising the front end with the jack so I could remove the blocks and rest the front end on just the jack stands.

I did the same thing in the rear. (Sara's dad and mom came over to supervise.)

My floor jack does not have a low enough clearance to fit under the k-member or rear differential once the car is lowered to the ground. I had to switch jacking points to the subframe connectors and lower the driver side to the ground first.

I repeated the process with the passenger side. I plan to buy a new jack with a lower clearance and at least the same jacking height. I found out while changing oil on both the Freestyle and the Fiero that they would benefit from a jack with a lower clearance.

Before the passenger side was completely lowered to the ground we slid the auto dollies under the wheels.

The rear driver side tire was low on air, so I filled it back up.

We slid the auto dollies under the driver side wheels and lowered the car down.

KITT is back on wheels (all 16 of them)! Four wheels per dollie. ;)

KITT moves very easily with the auto dollies!

I was able to push KITT by myself to the other side of the garage.

Time to sweep up a year's worth of dust and dirt accumulation.

All clean!

I moved KITT back and a little closer to the wall this time. As easy as it is to move him now, I will be able to pull him out when I want to work on him.

KARR's New Shift Knob

posted Feb 24, 2015, 6:28 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:41 AM ]

The original Fiero shift knob in KARR was leather wrapped because it was a GT. Considering its age it held up well, although the leather was starting to come unstitched.  KARR, being the uber cool prototype for Knight Industries, deserves better! 

Matt Meyer, a member of Pennock's Fiero Forum, offers a service of recovering your shift knob in leather. He does however require the core from your current knob. I could not send mine in until I had one to replace it so I took before and after pictures to show what an awesome job he does on these! 

I ordered KARR a grainy black leather with Knight Industries gold stitching. You can see the results below:

This last picture was taken with the flash on so you can see the grain in the leather. Thanks for a great service Matt! My old shift knob is on its way back to you.

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