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What did you do to your Wagon this week?

338974 Views 2685 Replies 279 Participants Last post by  Fred Kiehl
I'll start.........

Rear brakes.. (the lining separated from the front shoe on the drivers side and toasted the drum..... :mad:)
and I cleaned the winters dust off of the motor!
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Is the Caprice and OCC grille shorter (up and down) than a roadmaster?

I was looking for an OCC front bumper cover like you installed so I could get some airflow to the intercooler and not have it look like a hack job, but comparing the two it looks like the Buick bumper has a recessed area between the headlights whereas the Caprice/OCC is more/less straight across. Also the chrome/black trim differences.

I'm guessing that if I went with an OCC bumper, I'd need an OCC or Caprice grille instead of a Roadmaster? I wonder how that would look?
Yes, you would need the Chevy/Olds grille. I would leave the Buick grille in place because it is unique to the car.

I'm sure you have the skills to come up with something. I know a guy that made a custom bumper that was half Buick, half Mercury Marauder.
To the 94 - Put it on the hoist to give it a good once over from the underside... Lots of rust but all the important things are pretty solid yet.

Pulled all the wheels, adjusted the rear brakes up about a full turn each (didn't seem to change anything?), front brakes/rotors are very new. It needs a tie rod end at least - need to figure out where to stop with it. Tried to fix the underhood light, power to the fuse and out of the fuse block but nothing to the underhood light - Decided to stop digging into this and use my flashlight if I need more light under the hood :)

To the 96 - Put the 12" rear springs in and raised the shocks up 1.5" in an attempt to get the rear end to drop farther so the wheel/tire can be removed. Discovered that the rear end will just hang there bound up on the control arms when it could drop another 2-3 inches. Now I understand why 95wagon (and others) have spherical joints on one end of the control arms. I need to decide what (if anything) to do about this...

Fixed the right front headlight not working (ground wire not connected to ground)

Mounted the last tire to the last rim - tried to balance them and only got one that would balance. First combination had 9lb of road force (very good), 2nd, 3rd and 4th pair had 80+ pounds so that was a few hours spent with no productive outcome. 4 more new tires will be here this week so will try it again this coming weekend. Wheels measure true within a few thousandths of an inch, so thinking it's the tires. Didn't think to take the tire off the good assembly and try it on one of the other rims to confirm until I was driving home.

Got the rear bumper lowered (and body raised) so the tailgate will open. Yet another thing that moved when I tightened the body mounts.

Clearance the exhaust in 3 places that were hitting. Still have a couple more to fix yet. Will address these when the 2nd muffler goes in - Also got the 2nd muffler laid out and plan for install, need another 4" v band clamp but should otherwise be pretty straight forward.

I usually have a bunch of pictures, but really nothing picture worthy this weekend.
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Not exactly the last week, but in the last month I took her camping, and made a bike rack from a "cargo extender".


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This week I did nothing but drive it to work and put gas in it. I really need to wash it.
Another decent weekend of progress...

Finally have wheels and tires that balance and road force out at reasonable values - what a PITA that was. Final values were 8, 9, 21 and 23 pounds of road force - the two in the 20's I put on the back and the 8 & 9 went on front. For passenger cars, anything under 25 is considered "good" The initial batch was in the 80's!

I was also able to get the 2nd muffler installed - Same size/make/model as the other. Made a large reduction in whistle (but still some) and really brought the cabin noise down a lot. Still a nice rumble when you get after it, but sounds much like a stock truck now. An an extra v-band clamp was added which actually made it easier to adjust the "mid pipe" so it clears the floor and driveshaft. The muffler inlet/outlet is designed to slip over 4" pipe, so had to be expanded a bit to slide over the outside.

In hind sight, I should have carefully tapered the outlet down to fit inside the flange instead of over the top as it made it really tough to weld and not interfere with the band around the outside.

It's cozy, but fits and doesn't hit anything.

Took it out for a nice drive (~50 miles) - really a lot quieter inside with the 2nd muffler, 3 places where the exhaust was hitting fixed, the transmission isn't hitting the floor anymore, etc. It's not as quiet as the new-to-me, all stock 94 RMW, but much closer than it was! Re-learned the transmission which helped the shift flare in some gears, but made them worse in others.

I believe I also found the source of the driveline vibration. Seems the driveshaft shop might have missed a step (or two) when they modified the driveshaft...

The interesting thing is that the transmission end of the driveshaft shouldn't have been touched. All they had to do was shorten it and put the different yolke on the differential end. Maybe it was this messed up from GM? Maybe they shortened it on this end and fubared the fitup? Maybe they didn't balance it at all? Not sure - it's out of the car and headed back there to see if they'll fix it or not. Otherwise will try somewhere else.

Need to drop the back another 1.5" or so, unfortunately the springs are already at zero preload at full extension. I can go with a 14" spring, but only have ~1.5" of adjustment left on the coilover - would have to drop to 200 lb/in to make up the difference which seems too low of a rate. The 300 lb/in springs really helped the rear harshness over bumps compared to the 450's that were in there. There is a slight tire rub on the left front when turning and breaking that will need to be investigated.

Keep plugging away at all these little details...Will hopefully get a nice chunk of time to work on it over thanksgiving and knock out a bunch of things.
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Not exactly the last week, but in the last month I took her camping, and made a bike rack from a "cargo extender".

Joe - Sharp looking wagon!
Nice driveshaft!!!
Looks like the mess a local shop did to my 5" Silverado shaft the first go around.

If you are concerned with spring clearance at full droop, Google
Coil over tender springs
As good as any

When are Tender Coils ok to use? | AccuTune Off-Road

My personal experience, is only with the flat soft tenders to keep the stack in place at full droop or in pits on air jacks.
Have not worked with the multiple rate setups .
Some of our springs are near 2000 inch pounds so as you can appreciate , VERY short.
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Awesome, that makes perfect sense - so the flat spring goes solid in "normal" conditions, but keeps everything together at full extension. That's what I need.

I may have to go back to a 10" spring since I'm guessing this spring stacked solid with the spacer is a couple inches tall at least.

2000 lb/in - that's short torsion bar territory! Guessing there's a high motion ratio there.
Big aero down force
One of the cars ( rarely run anymore) has sliding skirts' that drag on the ground
One, the ratio is backwards in the front . Spring moves more than wheel.
The giant rate springs rarely used, but there


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I put a steering box, and drag link in my 92 OCC (White Elephant) on Thursday, and took it to a shop for toe in, and centering the steering wheel (I do not have a toe gauge that works with the stock aluminum OCC wheels, or I would have done it myself.). The manager tried to tell me the right tierod end was bad because it rotated on the ball. It has no play in it, so I told him that I would take it home and swap it. He decided that he could do the toe-in anyway, so I let them do it. The work was good, but expensive. I find the people who see an older person, and try to sell them a line of BS are fun to put in their place.

The Starship is acting up again. Overheating in 5-7 miles. I have replaced everything except the sender, and radiator. The sender seems to be accurate with my laser temp gun. so I am going to get another radiator.
A bunch more little things...

Got the driveshaft back from the driveshaft shop where they fixed the previous imbalance. Car is now much smoother at speed.

Used a air/oil bottle jack and lifted the car by the body at the driveshaft tunnel right where there is a reinforcing rib under the front seats. This made installing the new driveshaft much easier than the 15 minutes of puling/prying that was done to remove it before. Another consequence of tightening the body mounts after everything fits...

Swapped rear springs again and installed the spring tenders mentioned above. A really nice secondary benefit of the spring tenders is that it makes height adjustments much easier when the suspension is in full droop. You're just working against the 5 lb/in spring instead of 300 lb/in. The rear ride height is about where I want it as shown in the picture below, just need to verify suspension travel is there.

Put a bunch of interior trim pieces on, cleaned a lot more stuff out of the inside. Folded the 2nd row seat up for the first time in almost 7 years!

Put a used set of rear glass struts on so now that stays up on it's own now which is nice.

Replaced the 2012 steering wheel clock spring so now the airbag controller is happy and I have cruise control which is nice. Still have an ABS light and codes for implausible front wheel speed. Front wheels read ~45 MPH while the rear reads 60 MPH. I don't know why the software engineers didn't consider the possibility of a continuous power brake or drifting where the front wheels can be 25% slower than the rears :). The solution to this is likely to have front toothed wheels made with 33% more pulses so it matches the rears.

Still have a small coolant leak dripping off the downpipe so should find/fix that someday. Hoping it's something simple, but likely the heater core?

Drove it another ~50 miles, filled it up with fuel and re-weighed it (both before and after). No mileage numbers yet, but will be able to get some next time I drive it since it's now completely full.

The rear bumper/hitch assembly is ~135 pounds and hangs as far back anything can - that and a full tank of fuel give it a pretty decent weight distribution. I've got stock numbers in another post which I'll edit in later.

Stock (with me, 100lb of stuff in the car and 1/2 tank of gas)
  • Front: 2360 = 47.7%
  • Total: 4940
  • Rear: 2560 = 51.8%

With Duramax/6L90E swap (with me, my 7 year old son, 200lb of stuff in the car and 1/4 tank of gas)
  • Front: 3000 = 56%
  • Total: 5360
  • Rear: 2360 = 44% - Missing rear bumper and hitch which is easily 100lb [edit] 135 pounds per the galvanizing place [\edit] at the very back of the car

With ~1/4 tank of fuel (guessing based on 22 gallon capacity and adding 15 gallons below) and the bumper/hitch all together
  • Front = 2940 = 52.3%
  • Total = 5620
  • Rear = 2680 = 47.7%
I added 15.4 gallons of diesel to get it full
  • Front = 2920 = 51%
  • Total = 5720
  • Rear = 2780 = 49%

Transmission still shifts for crap in some gears, others are just fine. Still have an occasional rub on the left front - nothing obvious, but haven't looked too hard.

Did some really bad painting on some light surface rust on the roof. Just something to keep it from getting worse, nothing to be proud of other than it's white like the rest of the car.

There's still a few vibrations to track down - the $8 motor mounts might not have been the best choice :). There's something in the lower oil pan that makes a nice rattle that I should investigate as well.

Still a lot of little things to do, but it does feel nice to be in the part of this project where I can enjoy the last 6.5 years of work :).

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Worked on both cars this weekend...

To the 96, the accelerator pedal was kind of cobbled in place. Moved more up/down than forward back and you had to pull your foot back a couple inches to reach the accelerator pedal when transitioning to the brake pedal which is kind of awkward and un-natural so I decided to fix that. Not a particularly difficult job, but tedious. At least 84 times back forth from under the dash to the bench/welder. It's not pretty, modified the 2012 bracket with scraps that I had laying around and stacks of washers welded together, but it is functional.

Paint makes everything look better :) Fits like a glove and the transition from brake to accelerator pedal is right where it should be and natural feeling.

Also drilled an extra hole in the hitch ball mount so it fits much closer to the bumper - still plenty of room

Too far out

Much better

Lastly on the '96, pulled the tone ring off one of the front rotors so I can find a way to get 33% more teeth on it. Looks like a powdered metal part. Hoping I can find someone/somewhere to wire edm one out with more teeth. Else see if I can find one with the right number of teeth and modify/adapt it to work here. It's a simple enough part, could probably laser it out too. It came off much harder than I anticipated - Quite a bit of torque on the 2 jaw puller plus lots of heat from the torch before it finally popped, then a steady (hard) pull the rest of the way off.

On the '94, I hit a deer on the way to the shop this morning - ruined a perfect grille, hood, hood ornament and antenna :(. I unplugged the power antenna motor before turning the car off so hopefully I can find a new mast and the motor/cable/etc is still good. Stupid deer...

Proceeded with an oil change and coolant flush. After 5) 3 gallon fill/flushes it was mostly clear/murky water coming out so called it good enough and filled it up with 2 gallons antifreeze and ~1.3 gallons of distilled water.
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Slow but steady progress on the 96

I started on the trailer wiring - Started at the back and ran the 7 conductor cable through the frame and popped it out up by the left front wheel to go up into the engine compartment. The 2012 underhood fuse block has separate relays and fuses/circuits for trailer connections so am taking advantage of those. That way if the trailer wiring shorts out or something it doesn't effect the vehicle. This will be a relatively involved project as there are 5 wires that need to go through the firewall and some of the dash will need to come apart again to access the BCM (I wish I had thought of this when I did all the rest of the wiring). In the end it will be good since I'll have extra "ports" for additional wiring in the future, but for now it's a bit of an overcomplicated mess for trailer lights :).

Had some great help on the ring terminals in the back!

Also was able to put the better hood and grille on. It fits and closes with the hood liner installed, but it's really close under there! Just a random bit of trivia - they put the hood light in two different locations on the B-bodies. The original 96 hood liner didn't line up with the "new" hood's holes for the light. The 1996 hood had 2 sets of holes in it. Not a big deal, just drill a couple new holes, but was a bit surprising to me. Hood liners are different too as a result.

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More progress on the trailer brake controller wiring on the 96. Trying to find a spot to run wires through the firewall was tougher than I thought it would be. I finally settled on using the old throttle cable hole which will do a couple things - First and foremost, it'll plug a hole I forgot and should quiet things down a little bit more :). Secondly it'll make it easier to clean up where the mouse chewed up some of the firewall insulation years ago.

I'm not super excited with how close to the turbo it is, but as mentioned before, not a lot of options...we'll put some heat reflective covering on it and it should be fine. It's the hole just above the braded line center of the picture.

I glued the nut to the firewall so I could get a good trace of what needed to be cut out - easy to see, but to get two hands up in there is kind of tough! I ran the two wires from the BCM across the interior while the glue was drying.

The hole needs to have a "D" shape to it so the connector doesn't turn - I traced the full perimeter inside the nut and was able to get a sawzall in there and cut about 20 radial cuts out to the line. Then use a pliers to break off the slivers that were left, then use a half round bastard file and smooth it out. Kind of a PITA, but came out looking better than I thought it might...

The connector chosen was a "24" series shell from Deutsch, Amp, Molex. This particular one has 23 size 16 terminals (DT for those familiar with Deutsch lingo), each rated for 13A continuous. There are several versions of this connector series that have more/less terminals of various sizes. I think upwards of 50 size 20 terminals (DTM) and ones with a mix of 20, 16 and 12 terminals (DTM, DT, DTP), so lots of options here should this particular one not work out for some reason.

Everything except the ground for the trailer brake controller goes through this connector. For power to the controller and power out to the brakes, I used a pair of 14 AWG wires for each circuit. This gives ~11AWG of copper (if there were such a thing - more than a single 12 gauge, but less than a 10 gauge) and a theoretical (conservative) 26A through the terminals along with a bit of duplicity which never hurts my feelings. Still plenty of leftover positions for future expansion as well.

All the under the dash wiring is done save for connecting the wires to the brake controller itself. I've still all the underhood wiring to complete yet next weekend.

On the 1994, I put a new thermostat in since the old one seemed to be stuck open - took forever to warm up and you could feel the air temp cool down when at a stoplight. Wouldn't get up to temp unless you were driving it non stop on the interstate for at least 45 minutes. Hopefully this fixes that. The old one was pretty slimy...The new one doesn't have the little pin-in-a-hole bleed so that should help too.

I should really figure out the wipers while all this wiring is exposed so I don't have to take it all apart again :)
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On the 1994, I had to break into it. Stopped to fill up with gas at the Co-Op at ~6:00AM, it's 21F outside with a nice 10-15MPH breeze. Get out, shut the door, start the pump, get back in to warm up, pump clicks off, get back out, put the nozzle away, get my receipt, all doors are locked with the car running :(. Must have bumped the lock switch when I got out the last time. Wandered around and finally found an old 5 gallon bucket lying behind a building that still had the wire handle on it yet. Straightened it out save for the hook at one end - was able to pull the passenger front door out a bit get my leatherman pliers wedged in there to pry it out further. From there I was able to get the wire around the door seals and down to the unlock button on the door and press it. There was ~3/4" of the wire left sticking out of the outside to manipulate - barely enough!

Found some old pink fiberglass wall insulation that was being thrown out, ~8 feet long and ~6" thick. I used 4 pieces of this to fill both rear body cavities to try and get rid of some of the road noise since it's all rusted through back there. It helped quite a bit so that was cheep and easy.

On the 96, I got a lot of little things done, finally feel like I'm in the home stretch with this project. I finished the trailer wiring, save for replacing one damaged connector and locating the brake controller once I get the interior all back together.

The plan was to use circuit breakers in place of the fuses so if the trailer has an issue, there's less things to deal with. Unfortunately, I didn't consider that these wouldn't fit in the OEM fuse block due to the fact that they're thicker than the standard ATM fuse. I considered (briefly) trying to widen the groove in the fuse block, but decided not to go down that route. We'll just use the fuses that are in place - Fix Until Broke strikes again :)

I was also able to get the frame behind the grille modified and installed. I was expecting this to be a much bigger deal than it was given the intercooler that's in there, but all in all, it went pretty easy. I've more pictures to take of the secondary hood latch release lever and such (next time I'm in the shop). All I really had to legitimately modify was the back side of the frame itself so it wouldn't hit the intercooler. I cut off the excess that's behind the grille and that's really it.

Here's the before picture - this is the bottom of the frame closest to the bumper. You can see on the right where it mounts to the triangle brace on the hood and everything (above in the picture) beyond that was cutoff square.

Here's (the other side) cutoff

And the result of how it fits with the intercooler

More pictures next week of a few more modifications and the finished product with the grille.

There are a bunch more things that aren't really picture worthy (yet) that I worked on.
  • Foam between the intercooler, condenser and radiator so all the air has to go through them instead of sucking in through the sides
  • Electronic Leveling Suspension brackets were de-rusted, painted and installed with the sensor - Link to control arm coming next weekend
  • Updated all the schematics for the wiring modifications so it's all in one place - This has been essential when troubleshooting or adding circuits like the trailer wiring.
  • Tightened the inner and outer tie rod ends to take out some play in the steering
  • Front inner and outer fenders were messed with a bunch to try and get some more tire clearance. This ended in frustration with marginal (if any) improvements. I'm considering going to a 255/55/20 tire instead of the 265/50/20 that is on there now. It's 3/4" narrower tread and 1/4" taller in diameter. The taller diameter is no problem (desired actually), but the extra ~3/8" on the outside will make a huge difference in clearance to the inner fender.

If anyone has tips on how to push these fenders up/out, I'm all ears. I tried rolling the fenders with a piece of pipe between the tire and fender and all it really did was make wrinkles in the inner fender :(. Not sure how the guys with 26" rims and frame dragging on the ground do it - Maybe they don't have inner fenders? The outer fender actually has plenty of room for the tire, but the inner gets in the way since it goes in more than it goes up.

I really need to get on those wipers...and those ABS rings with 33% more teeth.
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T-shirt Service Vehicle door Space Windshield

Guess Who's back (well temporary), back from South Korea for a few weeks. I pulled the big baby out of storage, and I almost forgot how to drive her. But we are back together and it's time to get back to work.

I've been watching you all over the past 18 months and you guys are doing real awesome things especially the duramax swapped wagon"I am loving it".

I order a few things, going to rebuild the front suspension, grabbed some belltechs drop spindles and shocks, and some bushings and ball joints. Going to lower her right this time, got a few other things in the making. But over all glad to be back with my wago.
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View attachment 196905

Guess Who's back (well temporary), back from South Korea for a few weeks. I pulled the big baby out of storage, and I almost forgot how to drive her. But we are back together and it's time to get back to work.

I've been watching you all over the past 18 months and you guys are doing real awesome things especially the duramax swapped wagon"I am loving it".

I order a few things, going to rebuild the front suspension, grabbed some belltechs drop spindles and shocks, and some bushings and ball joints. Going to lower her right this time, got a few other things in the making. But over all glad to be back with my wago.
The drop spindles push your wheel out 1/2 inch. You may get some interference on the front fenders.
The drop spindles push your wheel out 1/2 inch. You may get some interference on the front fenders.
Yeah I was reading your post about it earlier, I hope its not to bad but if so I will either move the fender bolts or modify the fender wells.
Not sure where the week went - it's Thursday night already!

Picking up from almost 2 weeks ago - Here's the hood latch push rod mechanism. The rod is 1/8" ER80S-6 TIG filler. The whole thing needs to be removed, de-rusted and painted, but this is how it's mocked up.

You can see the stack of washers that was put on the back of the grille bracket to push the bottom of the grille out just enough to clear the intercoooler.

Now, catching up to last weekend, I made the decision to remove the 265/50/20's and go with 255/55/20's which are ~3/4" narrower and ~3/4" taller. This made a significant difference in front fender clearance while compressed and steering. The extra 3/8" of ground clearance and ~25 RPM reduction will be good as well (1275 RPM @ 60 MPH).

He can't quite get them on/off the rim (heck, I struggle with it!), but wants to help anywhere he can :)

There was some "reshaping" of the lower back side of the front fenders/inner fenders, but relatively minor. I'll try to get some pictures of that this weekend. There is much more clearance all around and at decent steering angles. I can run a finger between everything in most cases. I really like the look of the wider tire, but practicality wins out in this case. Not much of a visual difference at ride height.

This weekend I'm planning on getting the rear level sensor & linkage finished up, some body mount corrections, maybe a realignment on the front due to a little mishap (oops), change the 23 pin connector that got damaged, re-program for the larger diameter tires so the speedometer is correct, maybe see what I can do for getting some horns installed - plenty to do!
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