: Northstar stands alone?



jwnowlin
05-17-06, 02:11 PM
Hello everyone, I'm new here at cadillacforums. I'm planning on building a lightweight hot rod and considering using one of the Northstar engines to power it.

Can anyone tell me if these engines will run if they are removed from the chassis electrical systems and transmission electronic control module? In other words, I want to hook up a Northstar to a manual transmission, will it work with just the engine ECM?

Does anyone know about custom programming the Northstar ECM? I know this is relatively easily done in the Gen III/LS1 community, but wasn't sure if it had been developed for Northstar.

Thanks for letting me tap into your pool of wisdom!

eldorado1
05-17-06, 02:35 PM
I've got an ECM and harness that will allow you to run a northstar in any configuration you'd desire... cams, boost, whatever... I can send you an email if you want (need your addy)...

Otherwise, your choice is limited to a stock OBDI northstar. No custom programming exists, besides that needed to remove the automatic tranny and ABS without causing codes.

jwnowlin
05-17-06, 05:31 PM
jnowlin@aecc.com

I'm curious what type of wiring harness you have. I've thought about trying to adapt an LS1 harness and ECM, since this is a much more commonly-modified engine. What are the requirements for separating the northstar from the ABS and trans systems without setting codes? Thanks.

eldorado1
05-17-06, 06:21 PM
You need to be running a 93-95 engine and use the OBDI computer and a custom chip ($200) to run a manual. I doubt an LS1 ECM would work without substantial modifications.

chevelle
05-17-06, 10:56 PM
You would probably be further ahead to just us an aftermarket controller like the Holley Commander to run a 93-99 Northstar. That controller can handle the inputs from the coil pack and other sensors and control the spark advance and fuel. You don't really need the production PCM with all the additional software to deal with and the transmission control that is also incorporated in the production PCM. Additionally, you have to deal with the VATS antitheft lockout of the production based PCMs. If you are going with a plain Northstar and a manaul trans the aftermarket controller is by far the easiest to work with plus you have the ability to access the complete calibration. Look up chrfab.com. They have complete systems already sorted out for Northstars. You are going to want to look for a 93-99 engine because that uses the coil pack, direct fire ignition. The 2000 and later engines have completey different crank sesnors, reluctor wheel logic, coil near plug ignition, etc. that makes a control system very difficult to adapt outside of the OEM application.

cart69
05-18-06, 08:47 AM
i have also seen kits from other places on ebay too as i am possibly planning to do the same thing ith my spare n* thats laying around

eldorado1
05-18-06, 12:10 PM
You would probably be further ahead to just us an aftermarket controller like the Holley Commander to run a 93-99 Northstar.

The commander 950 is to fuel injection as the model A is to cars.

Assuming you can get the thing to run without stalling, you have the problem with the extended WOT runs, as I'm sure you're more than aware of.

For everyone else, after a 20 second WOT run, the PCM richens the air/fuel ratio to 10:1 to keep the pistons from melting (and plugs cool).

While you're more than welcome to run that rich all the time, fuel economy and power will suffer. (How much power is yet to be determined, although Mark tested various AFR's on the dyno and noted little difference)

The holley just can't do so many things a GM computer can... VSS throttle follower, control a speedometer, open the IAC for fan kick-on to prevent stalls, decel fuel cut off, etc... I ran a holley for about a year, and wouldn't recommend it to anybody. Now I'm running my custom programmable GM computer, and it does all of the above, and have -0- problems. none. Stupid holley wasted my time.:bomb:

jwnowlin
05-18-06, 01:42 PM
That's the first I've heard of a potential for piston melting under WOT. How does that work? I've never heard of anything like that. I don't have to have all the functionality of the OEM controller. If I can find something that will keep the engine running well, that should be enough.

chevelle
05-18-06, 01:58 PM
Geez...I've seen several hot rods and sandcars running with the Holley controler and they idle and run well. Getting the fueling sorted out and calibrated takes a bit of time but the controller, while very simple and basic, works quite well for stand-a-lone applications.

It is very easy to run the calibration on the rich side with the Holley controller...the sand cars do it at WOT and live quite nicely even running a LOT of boost. Just because the calibration for full throttle is on the rich side to keep the piston temps down and the plug tips cool and away from inducing preignition does not mean that the system has to be rich running down the road at part throttle where fuel economy is of a concern. It is quite easy to construct the fuel map in the Holley controller so that the engine is on the leaner side at part throttle and then make it on the rich limit at WOT. That is one of the beauties of electronic fuel injection. Even a simple controller has that capability.

As far as idle is concerned...why wouldn't the Holley commander idle? Set the idle speed mechanically with the idle speed control motor plunger or a fixed stop at a speed it will idle smoothly at. OEM applications need the variable idle speed control or idle air control capability with the PCM because of tremendously variable loads from air conditioning, power steering, idle in drive and neutral with automatic transmissions, high electrical load idles, etc.... And the OEM's are always trying to idle the engine at as low an RPM as possible for pleasibility, reduced creep at in-gear idles and for best fuel economy. Low idle speeds require variable control to prevent stalling. For a standalone engine with a manual transmission that can idle at 750 or so without causing any problems a fixed stop is fine and the idle speed control is just another annoyance to deal with.

An OEM PCM is certainly the most sophisticated controller around and has the greatest capability but if you cannot make it run because the software and calibration is inaccessible then the Holley controller..or Accel or DFI or others....will work fine.

If you are looking for an aftermarket controller contact Martin Technologies at 248-486-9613 for more information. They supply standalone controllers for many applications and are familiar with Northstar control systems.

chevelle
05-18-06, 02:04 PM
That's the first I've heard of a potential for piston melting under WOT. How does that work? I've never heard of anything like that. I don't have to have all the functionality of the OEM controller. If I can find something that will keep the engine running well, that should be enough.

Any and every high performance engine has the potential to melt pistons at continous full throttle operation. Since most people never hold the throttle open for a few seconds or for a pass on the drag strip it is of no concern. But high output engines at full power on the autobahn can run the piston temps quite high unless the engine is richened up from the normal lean-best-torque fueling. Very high output engines like the supercharged Northstar in the STS-V also have piston oil squirters to aid in piston cooling under full load.

OEM spark plugs are normally designed for all conditions from cold starting to full throttle operation. The heat range must be hot enough to resist fouling in -40 cold starts but not be too hot so as to overheat and induce preignition at continuous full throttle. The rich operation at extended WOT operation built into OEM PCM calibrations also cools the spark plugs that are always borderline "hot" for heat range at continous full throttle. This is easy to work around by simply running colder plugs as is common in hot rod applications. If you do not have to cold start at -40 then the heat range can be reduced several numbers colder to add preignition protection.

eldorado1
05-18-06, 02:16 PM
It is quite easy to construct the fuel map in the Holley controller so that the engine is on the leaner side at part throttle and then make it on the rich limit at WOT. That is one of the beauties of electronic fuel injection. Even a simple controller has that capability.

As far as idle is concerned...why wouldn't the Holley commander idle? Set the idle speed mechanically with the idle speed control motor plunger or a fixed stop at a speed it will idle smoothly at. OEM applications need the variable idle speed control or idle air control capability with the PCM because of tremendously variable loads from air conditioning, power steering, idle in drive and neutral with automatic transmissions, high electrical load idles, etc.... And the OEM's are always trying to idle the engine at as low an RPM as possible for pleasibility, reduced creep at in-gear idles and for best fuel economy. Low idle speeds require variable control to prevent stalling. For a standalone engine with a manual transmission that can idle at 750 or so without causing any problems a fixed stop is fine and the idle speed control is just another annoyance to deal with.

If you're like me, 1/2 the time will be WOT, 1/2 the time will be cruise conditions. That additional 20% fuel at wide open will hit my wallet severely. :)

The items above are exactly why the holley wouldn't work in my application. I had problems with the electrical load caused by the cooling fan kick-on, occasionally causing stalling even after following instructions from holley to increase spark advance in the cells where the stall occurred. Increasing the idle to 1000 probably would have solved all my problems, but having the automatic transmission would mean it would be pulling me through lights, and that's more of a bandaid than a fix.

I also had a problem with stalling when coming to a stop, of which I have no idea the cause. I have to assume the throttle follower of the GM computer fixed that issue. :)

In short, holley computers don't belong on the street.

jwnowlin
05-18-06, 03:51 PM
Just out of curiousity has anyone considered or actually performed a carb'd setup on a Northstar? It would look sweet with a brace of 2-barrels on top...:thumbsup:

eldorado1
05-18-06, 04:02 PM
chrfab has done them. I don't know why you'd trade technology for a gas leak, but the option is there... :alchi:

cart69
05-18-06, 06:29 PM
i was thinking of doing a carb N* setup but it is around the same price as using the stock FI setup with a stand alone unit, but it would look cool with a demon carb polished hemi valve covers and stuff!!!

dkozloski
05-18-06, 07:10 PM
What a bunch of whimps. When I was young and stupid we used Hilborn fuel injection or Weber carbs and thought nothing about spending weekend after weekend adjusting synchronization and swapping jets to get it to run decently. Drivability is secondary. When you nail the throttle it has got to go and anything else is BS. Now days if it isn't plug and play it's seems to take too much effort for todays common slob. Lord help you if you had to crack the books or break a sweat to get your car running right. God forbid, you might learn something useful. It's almost as shameful as hiring somebody to build up a hot rod for you.

STS 310
05-18-06, 08:51 PM
LOL, that was great DKOZ!!!

eldorado1
05-18-06, 09:50 PM
What a bunch of whimps.

I hope you're not referring to me... :eek:

I spent several months trying to get the Holley to run the northstar, decently enough for a daily driver. It just wouldn't have it.

I then reprogrammed a GM computer to run the northstar, and spent another few months getting it tuned perfectly. No problems.

I'd be willing to bet I'm more versed in tuning EFI systems than 99% on this board, hell, last week I was programming a wideband datalogging routine into it in assembly.

The question is, would you accept stalling from your cadillac? Of course not! It might be acceptable for a sandrail that gets a couple hours of use a year, but not something that gets driven every day.

dkozloski
05-19-06, 11:48 AM
If it stalls at the intersections you heel and toe it to keep it going. How else are you going to be using wild cams? Remember, the object of the exercise is to turn heads at the local A & W.

cart69
05-19-06, 12:23 PM
thats sounds like my 68 charger got to keep your foot on the gas when you stop or it will die!!! big cam!! wish i could do that do my spare n* motor but i havent seen a cam that big yet!!

eldorado1
05-19-06, 03:42 PM
If it stalls at the intersections you heel and toe it to keep it going. How else are you going to be using wild cams? Remember, the object of the exercise is to turn heads at the local A & W.

Oh brother. :p

Any engineering task can be boiled down to a series of compromises... That's one I'm not willing to make. What would ferrari management say if you had to do that on the F360?

:rant2:You're fired!

Carbs, stalling, and big wings died in the 70's.... or at least should have. :thepan:

dkozloski
05-19-06, 11:47 PM
So by your standards this is an unacceptable level of performance. http://www.billzilla.org/BRM-pushstart.mp3 This car was built in 1953, was 1.5L, developed 500 HP, turned 12,000 RPM, and had a carburetor.

eldorado1
05-20-06, 09:26 AM
The performance is acceptable.... the streetability is not.

(or likely isn't)

dkozloski
05-20-06, 05:24 PM
It's all in the eye of the beholder. At one time my daily driver was a '66 Corvair with a 396 with aluminum heads in the back seat. This thing had the reverse rotation, gear driven, L-88 cam. Idle was about 1200 RPM but boy did it go.

eldorado1
05-20-06, 06:42 PM
It's all in the eye of the beholder.

I guess so! :bouncy:

davesdeville
05-21-06, 05:33 AM
It's all in the eye of the beholder. At one time my daily driver was a '66 Corvair with a 396 with aluminum heads in the back seat. This thing had the reverse rotation, gear driven, L-88 cam. Idle was about 1200 RPM but boy did it go.

Nowadays it's possible to have decent streetability and positively rediculous performance, no reason to sacrifice one for the other anymore.

dkozloski
05-21-06, 10:02 AM
davesdeville, you are right about that but it isn't going to be accomplished by a seventeen year old kid out under a shade tree. Now days the answer is a hired gun and cubic money. Let daddy pay for it.

JaxxMan
05-21-06, 11:16 PM
If money is not a problem there is this option TEC-3 Electromotive
http://www.electromotive-inc.com/products/tec3.html

A member I haven't seen on the board for a while, Bill Strong has this project on the go.
http://www.v8mr2.com/ day 104 states he will be using this & the xDI Ignition system.

Some good info on his site.

94CaddyConcours
05-22-06, 03:25 PM
If money is not a problem there is this option TEC-3 Electromotive
http://www.electromotive-inc.com/products/tec3.html

A member I haven't seen on the board for a while, Bill Strong has this project on the go.
http://www.v8mr2.com/ day 104 states he will be using this & the xDI Ignition system.

Some good info on his site.

Yeah I emailed him a while back and he told me he use the TEC 3.

davesdeville
05-23-06, 03:36 AM
davesdeville, you are right about that but it isn't going to be accomplished by a seventeen year old kid out under a shade tree. Now days the answer is a hired gun and cubic money. Let daddy pay for it.

Don't tell me that! :tisk: Then again I am 18 not 17 so maybe I have a chance. :thumbsup:

codewize
05-23-06, 09:37 AM
Hey I don't see any video on this. I only get audio?


So by your standards this is an unacceptable level of performance. http://www.billzilla.org/BRM-pushstart.mp3 This car was built in 1953, was 1.5L, developed 500 HP, turned 12,000 RPM, and had a carburetor.

davesdeville
05-24-06, 06:45 AM
It's an MP3 file, it's only audio AFAIK.