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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since Im trying to decide what to buy (gran prix or Bonni not new a used one) once I get my daily driver I want to start working on my caprice and start my project. First thing I want to do is take off the body and clean and rust proof the entire chassis. My question is how does one take off the boddy to leave the chassis bare? Is it really difficult? What would I need? I have a 94 civie caprice. Thanks
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Originally posted by spanky:
take out the body bolts.
Your joking right?

Everything I remember about removing the body from the frame and none of which I forgot about doing it.

Drive car until almost empty of gas, this will help when dropping the fuel tank.

Using a tiny drill bit (large enough for the red tube on a liquid wrench or PB blaster spray can to fit through) drill a hole through the floor pan from inside the car and inside the trunk through the top of each body mount cavity (except front fire wall.) You can feel the metal hump up over each body mount. Spray down through the holes with the PB blaster and do this the day before you begin removing the bolts. The ones under the trunk just behind the rear wheels are usually the rustier of the body mount bolts.
You can spray the front fire wall body mount bolts through hole in the fire wall you will see after the front fenders and wheel wells are removed. When you restore your body, weld plates over these holes and seal them up. Rain water off the front tires splashes into these holes and gets trapped between the layers of metal and this is the rust hole that comes up through the front floor pans.

Remove front clip completely. (Put masking tape on front edge of doors and rear edge of fenders incase they bump each other during removal so to reduce paint damage. Also make note of the amount of spacers used under each of the front clip mounting bolts and the radiator core support to frame body bolts and reuse them in the same positions to help give you a starting point to aligning the front clip to body when your putting the car back together. Jobs like this are greatly helped with a digital camera to go back and reference when putting the car back together.)

Removing the front clip will require disconnect of a/c lines from the evaporator core connections on the fire wall, cruise control module, hood cable release, washer bottle, PCM wires, radio antenna, wire harness routed over the drivers side wheel well that contains the head light wiring, horn, washer bottle, front drivers side wheel speed sensor, etc. The 93 and older models also have a wiring harness that comes out of the passenger A pillar running to the front passenger wheel speed sensor and I forget what other wires are in this harness. My 95 did not have the harness on the passenger A pillar, only the one coming out of the Drivers A pillar.

If you do not want to open the radiator hoses and trans and oil cooler lines from radiator at this point, then you can leave the radiator core support on the frame and unbolt and remove the fenders and wheel wells from in between the body and radiator core support.

Disconnect everything in the engine compartment connected to the fire wall. i.e. heater hose, vacuum line to brake booster, throttle cable, ground wire on back of engine head, wiper motor wire connectors, etc.

Remove black plastic form under dash on passenger side. Under the dash to the right is a large wire connector with a bolt in the middle of it. Remove the bolt and separate the connector. Follow the wires back to the fire wall and look for a vacuum line coming through the same group of wires. Follow the vacuum line up toward the A/C controls until you find it’s disconnect point.
Back in the engine compartment remove the two screws holding this wire bundle to the fire wall and pull the harness out of the body.

Remove two bolts behind license plate that’s holding the fuel fill tube to the body. Disconnect wiring connector for the fuel tank sending unit. There is a metal rod that clips the fuel lines up to the body in the top of the cavity above the rear axle, unclip this before lowering tank. Remove fuel tank straps and lower tank. The fuel line that doesn't have a hose clamp is the vent line and it just slips out of the rubber hose that joins it to the sending unit.

There may be some ground straps from frame to body on the rear end of the frame rails.

Disconnect the wires from the rear axle that are coming out of the rear floor pan on the driver’s side.

Disconnect parking brake cable and remove it from frame or from body. Disconnect trans shift linkage. Disconnect brake master cylinder from booster (you do not have to open brake lines.)

Disconnect intermediate shaft between steering column and steering gear box. (Note very important, notice the warning sticker on intermediate shaft cover about not allowing the steering column to turn while disconnected from the gear box. Remove ignition key and lock steering column in straight forward position and do not unlock the column until it is re attached to the steering gear box.

Remove rear bumper cover.

Now that the body mount bolts have had a day or so to soak in the PB blaster, begin to remove them. If they’re frozen don't force them. Spray again with more PB blaster, then take a hammer and something metal and tap the head of the bolt a few times. Move on to the next bolt and come back to it later. When removing the bolts, stop after a few turns of loosening the bolt and turn the bolt back in a few turns then switch back to loosening them again. This relieves the rust/gunk build up on the threads against the nut.

The body mount bushings directly over the rear axle up in the shock tower cavity do not have bolts, the rubber bushings is just sandwiched between the body and frame. On one side of the car there is two bolts under the fire wall. Next one is just in front of the B pillar. Next one is just in front of the rear wheel well. Next is just behind the rear wheel under the trunk, and the last one is just in front of the bumper mount under the trunk.

I'm sure at this point there is something or things I've forgotten, so once you begin to lift the body off the frame, first raise it only two inches or so and then stop and check to see what was forgotten and still attached to the body.


It’s been about two years since I've done this so I'm sure I've forgotten something.
How about others that have done this review what I've written and add corrections and missing info and then we can make this a sticky. These cars are getting old enough that more people are going to be interested in full body off restorations.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I knew I'd forget something.

Remove fuel tank exhaust heat sheilds from the body. The heat sheilds get caught on the frame and will get bent up as the body comes off the frame.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by BigB9000:
Sounds good to me, only I didnt use PB-blaster, I just impact-wrenched them off, no problem at all.
I'm glad your bolts came out easy. It may have something to do with being in California.

My 93 Caprice originally came from Tennesse and wasn't two bad. I only had one bolt brake and it was the one right behind the rear wheel. It was a real pain to get out and I'm glad it was only one bolt that broke. I have a 95 9C1 that came from Chicago and every bolt but two broke. The car and frame ended up being to far gone to use anyway.

The PB blaster is a better safe then sorry precaution. It really helps to get rusted bolts loose and letting it soak for 24 hours or more makes a big difference.

Some of the body mount bolts I removed were rusted until the shoulder of the bolt was about half its original size. When I put the body back on the frame, I coated the threads of the new bolts with antiseeze and coated the shoulder of the bolts with thick wheel bearing grease. Since my car hasn't been painted yet I know there was a possibilty that I might want to take the body back off again. If money wasn't an issue, I'd put the body on a rotisserie and have the whole underside media blasted and coated with Line-X. But my budjet turned out to be a spray can of undercoating.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
...yeah, I didnt even have that.

so you reused the origional bolts? All of mine where like that too (the shoulder of the bolt was about half its original size) I also reused them, but not because I wanted to, I didnt have any time or $ to get new bolts.

so to the reader; buy new bolts and body mounts.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I did reuse original body mount bolts, but I didn't have to use any of the rusty ones. The wrecked 95 Caprice was not even driven in the rain by the older couple that owned it. The frame was still black with all the wax pen codes on it. The bolts were like brand new. The two bolts on the drivers side fire wall were bent from the wreck and I guess thoses two on the 93 were not rusty or else I got them from a third car, I don't remember now.

My car has the damaged gold fender and front door on it now. The wreck I had last month busted the glass out of the passenger front door and even though the gold door was damaged, it still had glass and appears to seal up weather tight to the body. I've got white doors now, I just need to find a front passenger fender. I'm just glad the damage was limited to bolt on parts and didn't hurt the main body shell. A guy in a GMC Envoy leaves his lane and cross over right in front of me to stop at his mail box. I swerved left and our passenger sides clipped. His insurance is still denying fault. He lied and said he had been sitting at his mail box and I just hit him. He left his lane right in front of me, but there were no witnesses so for the time being I turned it into my insurance to get the money to fix it. I'm still going to keep fighting with the other guys insurance but since the police didn't issure him a ticket for being on the wrong side of the road, I doubt I get anything. My insurance estimated the damage at $1290. His insurance apprasier considered it totaled and if they would except fault and pay the check would have been $4000 and I would still get to keep it. Man I wish they would except fault.



 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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From the some time in Impala SS forum "B.C." time - before crash. I didn't write it, I just saved it. Use instructions at your own risk, I'm not endorsing them.

Drive car until almost empty of gas, this will help when dropping the fuel tank.

Using a tiny drill bit (large enough for the red tube on a liquid wrench or PB blaster spray can to fit through) drill a hole through the floor pan from inside the car and inside the trunk through the top of each body mount cavity (except front fire wall.) You can feel the metal hump up over each body mount. Spray down through the holes with the PB blaster and do this the day before you begin removing the bolts. The ones under the trunk just behind the rear wheels are usually the rustier of the body mount bolts.
You can spray the front fire wall body mount bolts through hole in the fire wall you will see after the front fenders and wheel wells are removed. When you restore your body, weld plates over these holes and seal them up. Rain water off the front tires splashes into these holes and gets trapped between the layers of metal and this is the rust hole that comes up through the front floor pans.

Remove front clip completely. (Put masking tape on front edge of doors and rear edge of fenders incase they bump each other during removal so to reduce paint damage. Also make note of the amount of spacers used under each of the front clip mounting bolts and the radiator core support to frame body bolts and reuse them in the same positions to help give you a starting point to aligning the front clip to body when your putting the car back together. Jobs like this are greatly helped with a digital camera to go back and reference when putting the car back together.)

Removing the front clip will require disconnect of a/c lines from the evaporator core connections on the fire wall, cruise control module, hood cable release, washer bottle, PCM wires, radio antenna, wire harness routed over the drivers side wheel well that contains the head light wiring, horn, washer bottle, front drivers side wheel speed sensor, etc. The 93 and older models also have a wiring harness that comes out of the passenger A pillar running to the front passenger wheel speed sensor and I forget what other wires are in this harness. My 95 did not have the harness on the passenger A pillar, only the one coming out of the Drivers A pillar.

If you do not want to open the radiator hoses and trans and oil cooler lines from radiator at this point, then you can leave the radiator core support on the frame and unbolt and remove the fenders and wheel wells from in between the body and radiator core support.

Disconnect everything in the engine compartment connected to the fire wall. i.e. heater hose, vacuum line to brake booster, throttle cable, ground wire on back of engine head, wiper motor wire connectors, etc.

Remove black plastic form under dash on passenger side. Under the dash to the right is a large wire connector with a bolt in the middle of it. Remove the bolt and separate the connector. Follow the wires back to the fire wall and look for a vacuum line coming through the same group of wires. Follow the vacuum line up toward the A/C controls until you find it’s disconnect point.
Back in the engine compartment remove the two screws holding this wire bundle to the fire wall and pull the harness out of the body.

Remove two bolts behind license plate that’s holding the fuel fill tube to the body. Disconnect wiring connector for the fuel tank sending unit. There is a metal rod that clips the fuel lines up to the body in the top of the cavity above the rear axle, unclip this before lowering tank. Remove fuel tank straps and lower tank. The fuel line that doesn't have a hose clamp is the vent line and it just slips out of the rubber hose that joins it to the sending unit.

There may be some ground straps from frame to body on the rear end of the frame rails.

Disconnect the wires from the rear axle that are coming out of the rear floor pan on the driver’s side.

Disconnect parking brake cable and remove it from frame or from body. Disconnect trans shift linkage. Disconnect brake master cylinder from booster (you do not have to open brake lines.)

Disconnect intermediate shaft between steering column and steering gear box. (Note very important, notice the warning sticker on intermediate shaft cover about not allowing the steering column to turn while disconnected from the gear box. Remove ignition key and lock steering column in straight forward position and do not unlock the column until it is re attached to the steering gear box.

Remove rear bumper cover.

Now that the body mount bolts have had a day or so to soak in the PB blaster, begin to remove them. If they’re frozen don't force them. Spray again with more PB blaster, then take a hammer and something metal and tap the head of the bolt a few times. Move on to the next bolt and come back to it later. When removing the bolts, stop after a few turns of loosening the bolt and turn the bolt back in a few turns then switch back to loosening them again. This relieves the rust/gunk build up on the threads against the nut.

The body mount bushings directly over the rear axle up in the shock tower cavity do not have bolts, the rubber bushings is just sandwiched between the body and frame. On one side of the car there is two bolts under the fire wall. Next one is just in front of the B pillar. Next one is just in front of the rear wheel well. Next is just behind the rear wheel under the trunk, and the last one is just in front of the bumper mount under the trunk.

I'm sure at this point there is something or things I've forgotten, so once you begin to lift the body off the frame, first raise it only two inches or so and then stop and check to see what was forgotten and still attached to the body.

Remove fuel tank exhaust heat sheilds from the body. The heat shields get caught on the frame and will get bent up as the body comes off the frame.

http://www.bigb9000.digitalkeg.com/bbc/95dcm/
 

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Doing this was a lot easier than most would think. I didn't have a lift and just used my floor jack and what a gentleman recommended to hold the body ( I went another route, Beam blocks are better). Didn't need the PB Blaster method, bolts were not loose, they were snug. To anyone attempting this, do not be afraid, it's a nice thing to do over the weekend and truly accomplish what you want to do with your rebuild project.
 

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I am about to start work on another B-body. Rust free. I have to remove/replace the engine, trans, rear axle, fuel tank and do work on the rear suspension. Is it worth removing the body? Also, how high do I need to lift it to roll the undercarriage out?
 

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if you have access to a 2 post hoist i would say go for it. aside from that i'd only do it if you're restoring or swapping frames. keep in mind with the fuel tank out of the way doing diff replacement/service and suspension work becomes much more accessible.
 

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At risk of redundancy, if you're gonna lift the body off the frame of a RUST-FREE B-body, you should seriously consider:

1. BOX THE FRAME! Cannot stress this enough (pun intended).
2. Body Bushings (especially the ones you'll notice GM intentionally left missing).
PolyGRAPHITE has all of the advantages of polyurethane, and none of the drawbacks. I've heard of some wacky creative solutions based on the fact that our frames basically date all the way back to 1977.
3. Either a tow hitch, or anything that ties the rear frame horns together in the same manner as a tow hitch.
It's about frame rigidity, towing is strictly optional.
4. Dick Miller Racing Rear Triangulation Braces. Removes stress from the rear upper control arm connection points.
5. Altering the rear antisway bar so it functions on the axle vs the frame instead of on the rear control arms.
6. Front Swaybar Reinforcement Plate. Functions like a 'wonderbar' by tying the front frame horns together.
7. (Something else to add more rigidity to the front frame / suspension that I apologize for forgetting).
 

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Thank you all. I decided to leave the frame on the body and remove components the typical way. Marky, I do plan on doing most of that at some point, but a project with too much work never gets done.

In related news, I just finished reinstalling the transmission crossmember on a '96 Impala; I had to use a floor jack (and a lot of wood) to gently lift up the driver's side body enough to get the crossmember to slide in between the frame rail and body. There was just no room otherwise. Another friend said that was likely due to the body bushings sagging / squashing over time.
 

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… a project with too much work never gets done.
Truer words seldom spoken.
Reason why I reiterate upgrading the frame specs is mostly because these cars are 26 years old.
Typical performance spring shock and antisway bar upgrades are detrimental to our cars' longevity.
The seven atypical mods above both improve handling and help our cars last even longer.
 

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At risk of redundancy, if you're gonna lift the body off the frame of a RUST-FREE B-body, you should seriously consider:

1. BOX THE FRAME! Cannot stress this enough (pun intended).
2. Body Bushings (especially the ones you'll notice GM intentionally left missing).
PolyGRAPHITE has all of the advantages of polyurethane, and none of the drawbacks. I've heard of some wacky creative solutions based on the fact that our frames basically date all the way back to 1977.
3. Either a tow hitch, or anything that ties the rear frame horns together in the same manner as a tow hitch.
It's about frame rigidity, towing is strictly optional.
4. Dick Miller Racing Rear Triangulation Braces. Removes stress from the rear upper control arm connection points.
5. Altering the rear antisway bar so it functions on the axle vs the frame instead of on the rear control arms.
6. Front Swaybar Reinforcement Plate. Functions like a 'wonderbar' by tying the front frame horns together.
7. (Something else to add more rigidity to the front frame / suspension that I apologize for forgetting).
198623



'87' Olds Custom Cruiser donor frame for my LS swapped '84 Caprice Wagon. (I had an incident with a phone pole) Please tell me more about front swaybar reinforcement plate(s)?
 

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#twoweeks, #6 is most important to you, but this post is for everyone.

1. Obviously wagons skip this step.
2. I am not willing to testify that I have witnessed how many body bushings wagons have as compared to sedans, but wherever you can upgrade the bushings to polyGRAPHITE (previously missing or not), the better.
You already probably know enough about which vehicles share these frames, so use all that info to find a kit that includes every possible bushing. Or, just buy them individually.
Don't go TOO stiff on the bushings, don't forget the washers, etc.
3 & 4. Pretty much self explanatory.
5. If these are temporarily out of production, you may need to fab these yourself.

6. Front swaybar reinforcement plate ties the front frame horns together, like a tow hitch does for the rear frame horns.
While steering, the frame twists.
It's not just our suspension geometry, or merely cornering forces.
You can actually steer while parked and compare the frame's relative position to when the wheels are straight.
The less play in your steering box and steering linkage, the more obvious it will be.
There are instructions floating around on how to make one, but if you choose to buy one, it's worth it in terms of steering response alone.

(7. There's another front frame reinforcement I can't remember. Someone here at the ISSF knows what I'm on about.)

Probably redundant to mention that sedan frames are not as rigid as wagon frames.
The following experiment assumes UNreinforced frames.
Open a front door of a sedan and a wagon, then jack them both up in front as high as the jack will go.
a. the wagon's rear wheel WILL eventually come off the ground, probably before the jack runs out of lift.
You do not want to jack up a sedan in front high enough to lift the rear wheel off the ground (or vice versa).
b. it's very likely that if you jack up the sedan high enough, the sedan's front door may well not latch closed.
Wagon's front door will latch closed without issue. (If not, problem …)

Plenty of otherwise roadworthy sedans are driving around with stress cracks in the middle of their unboxed frames …
 
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