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 My '89 Caprice Wagon Project

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BoxWagon

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PostSubject: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:24 am

Well after seeing some of the projects some people had been posting I felt motivated to show mine. Being away from the car at college, my work is limited to a few days a month if I'm lucky. The icing on the cake is the fact that my entire summer will be spent training as a marine engineer on a steam ship sailing around the world, unfortunately the wagon will sit completely idle. My budget is non-existent and work is slow going.

Note: I'll will provide alot more information and photos than alot of people will care to know or see. Who knows, maybe someone will find it interesting or helpful.

This is what I started with. I hated the tints. They've been gone for a while now.



Overall the car was great for the price.



One thing the car had going for it was the 350 under the hood. Not perfect but I preferred it over the stock 307. As far as looks, its started out pretty ugly. More on that later.




The first thing I decided to do was try to stop the upper control arms from rusting to nothing.



Relaxing Friday nights.



After alot of prep, I got a few coats of paint on as a temporary solution. Both sides were done.



Next I attacked the side rocker panels. They were in good shape but could use a freshening.



After all the prepping, (notice tints are gone)



Hard to see but it looks better then what was there previously.




Next I decided to spruce up the grille a bit. Before



After I painted the sides of the verticals black.



Next I started under the car. This and one other spot was the extend of the rot for the entire car.



After a little work and before some paint.




Next I went back under the hood for some more little things. This was the inner fender before.



After some wire wheeling.



Afterward.



I did both sides. And the battery tray.






Now for the goodies. A new set of valve covers, gaskets, a breather and a new air cleaner.



New fel-pro thick gaskets on.



I stripped down the old hold downs and refinished them. I'm not a fan of the wing bolts, but I'm pinching pennies.



Remember before?? Because I try not to.


After.

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BoxWagon

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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:25 am

After doing some going over of the mechanicals/control systems of the car I began to realized more and more how the previous owner that swapped in the 350 really didn't know much. The engine came from a '86 Suburban. The carb was used from the 307, its a Feedback Quadrajet, meaning it utilizes the Computer Command Control (CCC) system. The HEI distributor was original to the engine not the car. While not a huge deal, it causes some complications when trying to run a Feedback (CCC) carb with this model HEI. Although I'm not against a properly tuned and preforming CCC system there is not enough of the system left in the car to warrant trying to salvage it. For this reason, I bought a non-Feedback Quadrajet to rebuild and switch the system over to a complete non feedback step up.

The entire wiring harness was hacked up, there were no sensor inputs anymore. All the emissions system and A.I.R. stuff was removed. There wasn't even an O2 sensor on the car. This causes the car to run in an "open loop" mode since the computer believes the sensor is just heating up after a start up. Without this input, the carb runs full rich all the time for the primary metering rod adjustment, making it terrible on fuel. Without the computer, the torque converter will also not lock at highway speeds since the solenoid relies on CCC input. This also doesn't help gas mileage. To fix this I'll be wiring a lock up circuit that will run off a vacuum switch.

In the mean time I purchase this carb to rebuild from ebay for $25.


This particular Q-jet, although it looks like a feedback carb from the grey solenoid it actually is not. The solenoid is a dual capacity accelerator pump shot for cold starts. This model is also a less common 800 CFM Q-jet. This carb is original to a truck and also has the correct TV cable bracket for an OD transmission.

Once I opened it up it wasn't too great, but not horrible.




Since I was away from home for a while at school I rebuilt the carb in my dorm room, the roommate wasn't happy about the smell of carb cleaner Mad .

Here's it during the final stages.



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BoxWagon

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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:26 am

While I finished the carb rebuild I knew that there will be much initial tuning to do once the carb is in place. To save frustration, I figured it was best to do my timing and giving the ignition system a once-over while the car actually ran. Carb problems tend to diagnose very similar to ignition problems. In order to check my timing some what accurately I need to know my engine RPM. I was in need of a tachometer anyway since dash doesn't have one. While I was on the gauge mindset I bought a water temp and oil pressure gauge pod. I don't like to trust the idiot lights, especially after the engine was swapped out.

I bought this SunPro one and installed it. I like the style and it gets the job done.



These are the cheap gauges I bought from Summit. They actually look pretty good. I know that people shy away from mechanical oil gauges, but I'm not too worried. I'm replacing the line they sent with the gauge to some steel braided AN- line.


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BoxWagon

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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:26 am

I figured that if I had plans to install headers, (I did from day one) I should do it before tuning the carb. Less work in the end. So I bought some from Summit. They are generic passenger car headers, Summit model G9001. From what I have learned, they are really just cheaper Flowtech 11100FLT headers. And cheap is good for me.

The entire install took 4 hours, I did it completely solo since I had off of school and was to anxious to wait for my brother to get off work. They fit great! No real clearance issues, no denting, bending or grinding. Some bolts were a pain to tighten, as expected. The starter had to be removed as well as the dipstick tube and most spark plugs. Re-installing the starter after the headers were in place was the hardest part, especially the shims.

What I started with






More goodies.



New vs. old



I did not use a lift, though it would have been nice. Just ramps.



After the install. Notice I cut the old bracket above the power steering pump down in size and refinished it.


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BoxWagon

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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:27 am

Once the headers were on I began to work on my timing adjustments. I recurved the old HEI to get help the advance come up a bit quicker. With the stock springs and weights the full advance isn't reached until about 4500 RPM, which is a bit out of a stock 350's powerband.

Before.



After.






My initial and mechanical advance is fine now. The only thing left was the vacuum advance. This canister isn't adjustable. I ordered an adjustable one but I have not been home since then to install it.

Since I can to a standstill with the timing adjustment that day I decided to tackle some more cosmetics. I decided to paint the frame rails. I started with one of the most visible parts, the arches above the rear axle.

Before. Not bad, but could benefit from fresh paint.



Prepping.



Finished.






Next was the bottom of the rear rockers. I saw some surface rust and decided to remove the rear trim.



I decided to remove the rust and lay down some new paint under the trim.



Painting.



Not going for looks, this will be completely covered by the chrome trim.





This has got me started on removing all the other trim and fixing the issues. Since the old circular trim clips were metal and rusted I order replacement plastic ones online and I'm just waiting on them.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:31 am

I like this thread. A lot.
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sherlock9c1



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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:25 am

Looking good! I have many fond memories of the '86 wagon my folks had.

Wow, those stock manifolds would probably flow pretty well if they didn't have those gargantuan AIR pipes killing the flow on those turns.

If I may make a couple of suggestions:
1. Changing the heater hoses to black will make a huge improvement. Looks like University of Michigan was under that hood!
2. Paint your rear drums before they get any rustier. Duplicolor makes a caliper paint that has held up great even through Syracuse winters on brake drums.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:54 am

Great story and very nice looking car! You've done a lot of nice things to fix and improve. Now this would have been a great Wagon of the Month story.

I'm guessing you go to the Maritime Academy, have a great summer.


Tom C.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:12 am

it looks real clean nice lines
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:25 am

Nice work. The Keystone Classics are cool and not seen too often.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:31 am

BTW, that's a pretty cool summer job you have - make the most of it! I always wanted to do that for a summer (sail around as a marine engineer).
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:16 pm

Thanks for the compliments and suggestions. I do go to a Maritime academy and I love working on ships. Right now I'm just not getting paid. In due time though.


sherlock9c1 wrote:

If I may make a couple of suggestions:
1. Changing the heater hoses to black will make a huge improvement. Looks like University of Michigan was under that hood!
2. Paint your rear drums before they get any rustier. Duplicolor makes a caliper paint that has held up great even through Syracuse winters on brake drums.

I have planed on getting rid of those hoses for the longest time. They drive me crazy. Eventually.

As for the drums, I really want to do a disc conversion with stock sedan rear discs. I know there's some machining of backing plates which wouldn't be a problem. I have access to a lathe and I'm not too bad on one. I still have a lot more research to do, I know its done but I'm not interested in swapping to a sedan axle. Too many problems there. Seeing as this may be far off, I might as well paint the drums.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:50 pm

Nice job so far,agree on the keystones. they look right on the box.

Good job.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:45 pm

sherlock9c1 wrote:
If I may make a couple of suggestions:
1. Changing the heater hoses to black will make a huge improvement. Looks like University of Michigan was under that hood!
And the braided cover on the radiator hose. Getting rid of that is free. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:08 pm

GN1220 wrote:
And the braided cover on the radiator hose. Getting rid of that is free. Very Happy

Meh. It fits with the 80s car and the wheels. I could go either way on that.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:33 pm

Wow, wicked nice box man. Looking good. Keep up the good worki.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:29 pm

Nice box wagon man! Aside from the heater hoses and braided upper radiator hose, I dig it. Those rims are classic. Good call on ditching that eldelbrock air cleaner. I've heard horror stories about those air cleaners.
Also, that tint looked really bad (it was also installed upside down.)
Where did you get those valve covers? (I need new ones for my caddy....mine are warped and leaking oil which doesn't smell good)
Also, can you give some more info on the process for blacking out the sides of the slats in the grille? I'd like to do something similar with the grille on my caddy.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:59 pm

Thanks again guys, I will definitely keep the thread up to date. The only problem is the fact I won't be doing anything for awhile, but as soon as I do I'll update. I'll be removing the radiator hose cover too. Just another thing that gets put on the back burner as I prioritize my limited time on with my car. I know it doesn't take long to remove, but when I only have a few days to work on my car before going back to school I tend to focus on rust stopping and getting it running well.


Kevin, I've been following your build and I'm glad there's other younger guys(college students) like me not dumping money into their Hondas. Its a rare thing to see unfortunately.

The valve covers were bought at my local speed shop, SK Speed. This is there website.

http://www.skspeed.com/SearchResults.aspx?CategoryID=Engines+_and_+Components&SubCatID=Valve+Covers+_and_+Dress-Up+Kits

They have the covers there, you might be able to find them cheaper some where else online but SK has some very fair prices. The quality is great though, they're powder coated and pretty thick. You will not have to worry about them warping and in conjunction with thick gaskets (if you chose) you should be set.

As for the grille, I really wish I took more pictures of the process. Since a new grille for my car can be had for about $30 I wasn't worried about ruining it. Have you ever heard of Plasti-dip? Its not exactly new but I know some people don't know about it. You can find black spray cans in Home Depot. If you haven't heard of it I suggest looking into for any future re-finishing applications. Its a cool option for somethings and not so much for others. Its very durable when applied right and peels when you need to remove it.

Anyway, there had to be a better way but I just sprayed the entire thing with Plasti-Dip. First I removed the grille and I cleaned it using denatured alcohol. The Plasti-dip peels off as long as there is enough layers of it. I sprayed a few heavy coats of it over the entire grille. Once it dried I used an exacto knife to cut the edge where I wanted to separate what I want to keep covered and what was staying. (I can't really explain it too well for some reason, just cut with the knife were you want your edge of the black) Doing this took forever and made my fingers ache for days. I had maybe 3 solid hours of just removing the Dip from where I didn't want it. If I was to do it again I would have tried taping it were I didn't want it. I would still use the knife to cut along the edge of the tape though.

Sorry I'm no good at explain that, lol. Not much of a help. Maybe some visual help here.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=856571

or here.

http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/2nd-gen-tacomas/235145-blacking-out-grill-emblem-plasti-dip.html

-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:18 pm

Gotta agree with a earlier comment,Love those Keystones....Keep up the good work!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:10 am

Great thread, Tony.
I like what you're doing; keep it going!

I can't believe you were able to save that Q-jet. When I saw the picture of that float bowl, I thought it was beyond hope. Nice work!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:26 pm

Awesome progress Tony,keep going like you have been and the wagon will be done in no time!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:29 pm

Thanks guys. The Keystones have really grown on me. Initially I had some plans to replace them but I think they fit the overall style of the car quite well, so they're gonna stay. I still haven't been home yet since I last left off. Not being able to work on it is killing me.

-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:28 pm

That car is doing everything right (except the 4x4 stance Razz) and I love the progress! You do some nice work! It's good to see a college age guy know how to rebuild a carb and re-curve a distributor! 99% wouldn't even know what those were! Mad props to you, dude.

Keep us posted! I love it! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:02 am

Thanks for the compliments, its much appreciated. Cars are my passion and after working on a few different ships now I have a different outlook on working on cars. After pulling injectors and pistons on a few 16,000 hp diesels and rebuilding the governors, rebuilding a carb doesn't seem too difficult. I'm pretty much willing to try to fix anything on my own now. Which may not be a good thing. Wink But I'll take it over the average college student who can't even change their own oil.

I have to agree with you on the 4x4 stance. Apparently the owner before mine was planning on doing one of those "donk" cars so the springs were just the first step. Luckily he ran out of funding and I rescued the car from destruction through poor taste.

I have plans of lowering it. Right now I've been keeping my eyes open for some Impala SS springs for the time being. I would just run them with the stock shocks, not really the best idea but the car will likely only see about 1k miles before I graduate and have money to play with. Eventually I will switch to some nice aftermarket springs and shocks.

-Tony
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PostSubject: One More Boxie Detail   Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:50 pm

Don't forget to pull the trim on the door side/underside of the A Pillar. There's a seam that GM closed with factory gumbo that sometimes fails and lets water into the base of the pillar. You won't know it until it's too late if it leaks. Ask me how I know. If you pull it now and recaulk/putty the seam up now, you won't rust it out there. Nice looking wagon and a worthy project!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:32 pm

So I'm finally done with my long summer at sea and back for my last year of college. Once I got off my ship I had only a few days to work on the car before going back to school.

I didn't do as much as I would have liked to. I finally finished the all the ignition timing adjustments.  Once this was complete I removed the old feedback Q-jet and added the rebuilt one. After a little tuning the car is running great. I'm just fine tuning the secondaries a bit.

I also changed out the v-belts, I'm working on preparing it for inspection. Not much new, but its good to be back working on it.  




Oh, and I removed that braided radiator hose cover.  Still waiting on replacing the blue and yellow hoses though.




-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:53 pm

Sharp car! Glad it's coming along still.

Good luck in school!

-Mike
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:31 pm

Good luck at school and the car is looking great! Also, you can slam that thing on its nuts for cheap with Moog springs through amazon. I just ordered the 5662 front springs and CC501 rear springs for 110 bucks shipped. Not bad! Those would drop you about 5-6 inches from where you're at now!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:06 pm

I'm thinking about those springs that price. Have you run into any problems running those?

-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:10 pm

Nope, I love em. Check out Ray's wagon. He just lowered his with those. Here's my old fleetwood on those front springs with eibach's (similar drop) out back.



Here's Ray's wagon (on right).
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:39 pm

Would recommend springs. Do it, man!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:44 pm

Those cars look great! I think you guys may have convinced me. Do you think I should replacing the shocks too? They have some life left, my budget is tight. I only plan to put about 1000 miles in the next year on it before I do some major renovations. Do you guys think about using the same shocks?
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:09 pm

This thread delivers!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:29 am

I'm ordering the springs soon. Do any of you guys have the numbers for the coil insulators? Anything else I should be looking at purchasing?
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:49 am

Moog K160044 for the insulators.

It's reasonably straightforward. If you rent a spring compressor at Advance, even if you lower the control arm and don't use it, it comes with the tool to do the shock top nuts for the front.

Enjoy lowered life.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:07 pm

Lower it! Wonder what SS springs would look like on a wagon (given the cantilever effect of the big ass)
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:28 pm

One last question, you guys have been a huge help and I really appreciate it. Do you think there will be enough travel left in the old shocks to handle the drop? I'm probably looking at 4 to 5 inches of drop, at least. I would just go under the car to take a look and get a rough idea, but the car is at home, I'm stuck at school. Anyone runs these with stock shocks? I'm thinking I'm probably going to have to order shocks too.

-Tony

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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:35 pm

I LOVE your wagon...looks awesome!  

I'm the old fart I guess....I would agree lowering it a bit would really make it rock, but while I love the "dropping it on it's nuts" look....I think you give up some utility. I dunno.

Watch me lower my Fleetwood though, I swear it's tempting (especially after seeing Crovo's Fleetwood pic)

  Chris
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:24 pm

So I ordered the springs last night. Can't wait to put them in. I'm planning on installing them the on the 28th. That's the soonest I'll be home. Just need to get through the next week of classes without going insane.

-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:58 pm

take before and after pics!
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:48 pm

So the springs are in and the install was fairly easy and straight forward. I did take lots of before and after pictures with my camera including measurements.  Unfortunately I was running late to leave for school and never got to upload them. I did, however, have the few pictures I took with my phone. So I'll show those, I didn't take pictures during the install since I was covered head to toe in grease and did the job solo.


Springs:

Front



Rear





....And the car.


Before



After






Before






After















Overall I'm thrilled with the results, by far the best $110 I've spent on the car. The front is a little high in relation to the back. I'm going to wait until they settle and I replace the shocks. The rear shocks are the air adjust and they don't hold air for any extended period anymore. When I charged the rear shocks a little the rear came up about an inch. I may consider cutting the front coils.


-Tony
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:27 pm

WOW that's a bigger improvement than even my car was!

Looks great! Gotta love budget mods Smile
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:45 pm

Lookin good Tony,went from looking like a offroad wagon to a awesome wagon.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:59 am

Welcome back to Earth! Razz Looking good.
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PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:19 pm

That. Looks. AWESOME! Smile

Did you end up going with the moogs?
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BoxWagon

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Join date : 2012-12-11
Age : 26
Location : Long Island, NY

PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:41 pm

Thanks guys, I'm really liking the new look. It could always be lower though, but for now its great. I did use the moogs that were suggested. I also did install a jeep steering shaft, but don't have pictures. I'm pretty pleased with that too.


-Tony
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BoxWagon

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Join date : 2012-12-11
Age : 26
Location : Long Island, NY

PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:26 pm

So last weekend I managed to get a sway bar for free. My brother was getting rid of his 92 beater Crown Vic and he offered the bar to me. I ordered the bushings during the week and installed it this weekend.

The sway bar before:

 

I wire wheeled it down and prepped it for paint. I checked my paint inventory and only had red, and some metallic grey which I ended up using.  It came out pretty nice and its under the car anyway.

With the new hardware and paint:



Now heres where I have a question. Since the car is lower now The geometry of the sway bar was way off. The end links I had were about 5 inches long and in reality I only needed about 1.5 inches at most. It wasn't going to work.

So I flipped the sway bar upside down. Is there any problem with that?




Aside from it looking wrong and it blocking the diff cover a bit. I ran the suspension through full travel with the jack and there's no clearance issues and the end link geometry is near perfect all the way through. If my suspension goes that far anyway I'm worried about losing the springs, not the sway bar.

Any thoughts? I'm not too well versed in these manners yet. The function remains the same either way so it shouldn't matter, right? Like I said, no clearance issues and I don't care it's about 1.5 inches from the diff cover. I'll take the sway bar off for differential work. I took it for a drive and there was no problems.

Depending on what the consensus is I may have to just stop being cheap and buy the new end links to flip the bar around. So far I only have $25 dollars into this mod, I could probably manage a little more.

-Tony
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BigBlackBeaSSt

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Join date : 2009-08-01
Age : 52
Location : Lewisberry, PA

PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:06 pm

Looks great!!
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BoxWagon

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Join date : 2012-12-11
Age : 26
Location : Long Island, NY

PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:12 pm

Thanks! This truly is one of the best cheap mods!

-Tony
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Fred Kiehl

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Join date : 2009-11-13
Age : 69
Location : Largo, FL 33774

PostSubject: Re: My '89 Caprice Wagon Project   Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:16 pm

If you have any problem with the rear springs falling out when jacking the car, weld a 3-4 inch piece of exhaust pipe to the top spring perches. It will keep the top of the spring from falling and guide it back onto the perch.
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My '89 Caprice Wagon Project
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