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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Build thread for my 1996 Caprice wagon.
Will be doing some work on the car this year, will be posting progress updates as I work.



(pic from 2016 when I bought the car)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The car sat for a few years after it started having an overheating issue, pretty sure from a bad head gasket. Life happened and I didn't have the time to work on it, so I let it sit. But it gave me options since now I don't need it as a daily driver, and it dropped its emissions inspection requirement for my area after exceeding the 25 years age mark.

I was driving it every few weeks in the neighborhood just to keep things working ... but a couple years ago the fuel pump quit, so it was parked for a while. Decided to get off my ass and get it back running.

I am embarrassed to post the following pics, especially since I had kept the car so clean before now, but it is what it is. Got to have a starting point.

Battery charge, cranked and warmed for a few minutes, oil change... oil came out milky :(



Ugh:



Then wash ('94 RMW and '95 9C1 racecar in the background):



Not too shabby:



Managed to bandaid the failing fuel pump again to get it off the ramps and into the garage under its own power:

 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First step was to drop the tank and replace the fuel pump. I had a brand new Racetronix pump on the shelf from when I had a warranty replacement sent to me. The pump in the car was a cheapo replacement I installed to get the car driving, and ended up just leaving it in there until now... to be fair it lasted a while for being a dirt-cheap unit.

I did find the typical melted connection on the in-tank harness. Fortunately I also had another Racetronix in-tank harness available so I just swapped it over too. Fortunately the Racetronix bulkhead connector and external wiring harness still looked good.



After getting the new pump and wiring put in, I decided to leave off the over-the-axle and tail pipes. This car has a custom 2.5" stainless cat-back which is nice, but the geometry on the over-the-axle pipes isn't great and it too close to certain parts. They also used a small mild-steel piece in part of it which has always made my OCD crazy. But leaving it off definitely made getting the tank back on a much quicker process.

Cut some pie cuts, fired up the TIG welder and made some turndowns:



Not too shabby:



I added some tack welds on these to the muffler just to make sure nothing moves. I'll probably change out these mufflers (some Flowmaster model, I'm not sure which) to something else later, probably Spintechs.

Next was to swap the Impala wheels over to some Crager Soft8's which currently were on the 9C1. I do like the Impala wheels, but wanted to go with a more blacked out look on the white car, and having these already just worked out perfect.
Unfortunately these had a 4" BS so they are awful close to the rear wheelwell trim. There was enough space to get a fingertip in between on one side, but the passenger side was maybe 1 or 2 mm between the tire and trim. Too close for me, but a little smoothing out of the trim with a flapdisk worked perfect to make the gap a bit more.




Pulled the car out for a little test drive.
The turndowns definitely make the car sound a bit more spicy:



 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Doing the test drive, I realized both the drivers and the passengers front windows had broken rollers. So that was the next step.
Oddly enough I had a handful of the NAISSO window roller kits left over from almost 20 years ago. I ended up with so many when I had one window roller broken on my '93 Caprice in college. My parents asked me for Christmas present ideas and I mentioned needing a kit from NAISSO along with a couple other things from there. My mom asked if I just needed one kit or more. I distinctly remember telling her I only needed one "but you could get me 8 and I'd probably eventually use them". She got me 8 haha. Which ended up working out perfectly since I acquired a '95 9C1, '94 RMW, and this '96 wagon since then, and I've been using those kits still as-needed.



While I had the door panel off, I put in new speakers since the originals were still in the front. Went with 6.5" units. I had a mounting plate in MDF to put 6.5" units in the front doors that I bought from someone on ISSF ages ago, probably 15 years ago that I never used. Can't remember who made them. Unfortunately the speakers I had were a bit tall and in my opinion stuck out too far when using the adapter. So I just mounted it directly to the door. Fit okay, but I had to tweak the sheet metal a little bit.



Since I wasn't in any rush, I spent the extra time to clean the entire door interior. Even though it gets covered with the plastic sheet and door panel, I still wanted to clean the car as much as possible.



Drivers side door actually already had the corrected rollers... the problem there was the screws they used backed out and the rail part of the assembly was loose on the window. So it appears to have the identical symptoms of a broken roller but just needed the screws re-installed.
But during re-assembly, I did use fresh hardware with nylon lock nuts to keep them from backing out again.
Cleaned up the tracks and re-greased where appropriate.
Passenger side was actually broken rollers.

For some reason this car had a second layer of window tint on the front windows. Over time they've been crumpling up from the summer months. So I pulled the second tint. Took forever to clean the residue though. So I took it in small sections using Simple Green and a detailing cloth, being sure to keep things wet as I worked to prevent scratching up the main tint film I was leaving in place.

Turned out nice. I know it doesn't look like much but this window almost looked "broken" from how the tint was crumpled up on it. Fixed now:



Since I was working on the interior and had some panels off already, I picked up some LED bulbs for the interior. Wow what a difference! No more yellow lighting. Which doesn't always look bad, but with the blue interior, the cooler LED bulbs just look way better. Changed out all interior bulbs, took me some time because I had to learn how some of the trim was attached. I'm always paranoid about breaking these things with how old the cars are getting.

I have a '94 RMW that I keep around as a parts car. When searching posts about interior trim parts, I saw where someone mentioned how the RMW had a nicer looking door light panel. So I peeked at my RMW and it looks much nicer, so I pulled them out and installed them into the caprice.

The lens from the RMW looks quite a bit better with the LED's since the lens is a little more clear and not as yellowed from age:



Buttoned everything back up and drove it around the neighborhood again.
Then gave it a proper wash to clean it up. Planned to take it to a local car show the day after.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Took the car for a spin that night to see how she drove. It's really only had short drives around the neighborhood since I gotten it running again. Temps looked good after 10-15 minutes, so decided to drive it a bit further this time. Unfortunately getting on the interstate seemed to get the car too warm to drive (which was a symptom it had earlier, but I don't recall it warming up this fast in the past). So I pulled over, had to clean up coolant all over the reservoir area. Considered a tow, but ended up limping it home on side roads since I was still pretty close, temperatures stayed fine the whole time.

Got it back home no problem. Pretty sure the issue is bad head gasket. Water pump temps rise from the normal 180-ish to 220 pretty quick when under constant load (interstate driving) although the head temps don't move nearly as much as the water pump temps. And the reservoir cap is spraying coolant. Once car is back at idle the temps drop. A little bit of bleeding but not much air comes out. Did some further troubleshooting, car def has exhaust smell in the coolant tank, and fails the exhaust gas test kit (fluid changes color).

Car sat for about a week after this. Got some LE1 heads and a cam put on order. Hadn't done much but started the car up again and noticed a good amount of water vapor off the drivers side exhaust exit. Bummer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I had a spare 3-gauge cluster and a few Speedhut gauges sitting on my shelf, so I grabbed them and test fit things on the wagon:



Gauges wired up:







It'll be nice not needing my iPhone to read RPM's now. At some point I'd like to install a Z28 dash since having the tach so far off to the left is a little awkward, but this will do for now.

I only had a spare Trans temp gauge but will probably use it for coolant. Will convert the oem dash gauge for the water pump temp, using the dual-output sender from the Scott Mueller article, and use the aftermarket gauge for the head temp signal. This is another way for me to ditch the iPhone OBD2 scanner, which I use frequently to read water pump temps along with RPM. Will be converting to OBD1 so I'll need to ditch the wifi OBD2 scanner at some point.

Had to spend quite a bit of time fixing a bunch of shoddy wiring that I had been doing over the years, a bunch of "quick" wiring jobs start to add up and it looked pretty terrible. Re-loomed all the wires I have coming from the interior to the drivers wheelwell area. Took some time and patience but turned out decent.

Before:


After:


I have some more that needs attention, but this is a decent start.

While I was in the area, and had the PCM pulled to re-pin the tach signal for the new tach, I did some troubleshooting on my manual transmission TCC lockup switch that I installed a few years ago. I have this on my 9C1 and did an identical install on this '96 wagon, however the force-on signal to the TCC has never worked on it. Checked my circuit and all is good. Dug into the 1996 wiring diagrams... and found the culprit. I didn't know that the 96 cars have two separate TCC signals from PCM to transmission. My 95 only has a TCC apply signal, but the '96 has two: an "enable" signal as well as the apply. So at some point I'll re-wire my stuff for the '96 signals. Not a big deal, just have to run the manual-on signal from my switch from the current circuit to the different pin on the car.

I don't even really use this manual TCC often at all, but having figured out something that didn't work does feel nice.

1995 wiring diagram on the left, only one TCC enable/apply wire from PCM (tan/black)
1996 wiring diagram on the right, separate "enable" and "apply" signals from PCM (tan/black is "enable, brown is "apply")




After this, I got the car lifted up on stands for a higher stall converter.
I have a Edge 3000 stall sitting on the shelf, so it would be put to good use here. Starting to realize that I have way too many good B-Body stuff "sitting on the shelf"... I assume I'm not alone here.

 
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Details/link to the dual output temp sender?
It’s the LT4 sensor.
edit: correction it’s GM PN: 10096181
Local parts stores also supply their house brand version as well (example: Duralast)


Link:

But do keep in mind that I feel this is only good for “adding” the signal, not replacing the head temp signal. I’m still planning on running the head temperature gauge, just on my aftermarket system.

check below thread from Marky Dissod regarding still needing a head-temp signal:

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You might want to look at the applications for the 10096181 three terminal sensor before calling it the " LT4 " sensor.
Ah, yes your correct, I misspoke here.
I remember it being for a non LT1 and got mixed up when seeing the thread titled LT4. It’s for some early 2000’s cars. Either way check for GM # 10096181 equivalent and you’ll find what you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No work last weekend unfortunately due to being sick. But the delivery guys have been busy over the last week.

LE1 heads, LE custom grind cam, Earls AN fittings to fix oil cooler lines, new radiator, ClearImage tubular trans crossmember, ClearImage export pipes, new tensioner pulley, new coolant reservoir, some other misc odds and ends. Phew.

Shipping box Motor vehicle Wood Automotive design Floor
 
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