Here we go again.....................

Discussion in 'Station Wagon Projects' started by tfvesquire, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Ok all, it's been several years since I posted detail of my restoration of my dad's 1986 Buick Lesabre Wagon that sat unloved for too many years. Unfortunately, that wagon started falling apart within a couple of years after I did the resto and today it looks about as bad as it did before I restored it.

    The woodgrain decal took a crap within a year and half due to the intense sun rays and UV levels. My dad parked it outside most of the time, so the passenger side facing the south took the worse of it. The decal started fading and then peeled off like snake skin. Various things started to go bad or just up and die including the AC compressor, heater core, brake lines, rear window motors, front seat hinge broke, etc.

    Flash forward to this past summer and my dad agrees it's time to get another Buick. Although he would have taken a nice Park Avenue, he did tell me "If you can find me another wagon, I'll take it." Famous last words.

    Well, I found what I consider to be the best garage find of my career: 1986 Buick Electra Estate Wagon with only 19,700 original miles. I bought it from a guy who worked on a film crew and bought the car 16 months ago to use as a background car and occasionally to film out the rear tailgate. He did not know anything about cars and I could see the only things that were replaced were the radiator hoses and the alternator. He did install a cutoff switch because the rear door ajar light stayed on. That's about it. He was don'e using the car and did not want to sell it to someone who was going to hack it up.

    We made a deal and I became the humble owner of this relic. Obviously the headliners are shot along with the bumper fillers. The carb needs to be rebuilt and all fluids changed. The brake lines are rusted and leaking, but surprisingly, there is no rust thru on the car, just surface rust along the frame. The only damage to the body appears to be one dent on the LR door which I popped out, dent on the RF fender which I am leaving and the RR quarter looks like someone got too close and creased the metal. I was able to hammer out a majority of the creases in the quarter panel. The woodgrain is all intact with some small dime sized sections scraped or peeled off. The interior looks untouched with the exception of the dirty carpets and floormats and headliners. Not a faded piece of trim, not a crack in the dash, not a burn mark. Wow.

    Going to post some photos once I clean it a bit and get the basic's fixed.

    Like Al Pacino said, "just when I think I'm done they pull me back in...."

    Ted
     
    fannie and ModelT1 like this.
  2. ModelT1

    ModelT1 Still Lost in the 50's

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    21,605
    Likes Received:
    975
    Trophy Points:
    673
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Central Illinois
    Welcome back Ted. Sometimes it is best to start with a new canvas, or Buick. Good luck on your project.
     
  3. Thirsty islander

    Thirsty islander Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    77
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome back. It looks as though you've got a great car to start off with.
     
  4. OrthmannJ

    OrthmannJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,571
    Likes Received:
    551
    Trophy Points:
    323
    Location:
    Yakima Washington
    It sure sounds like it.
    I'm looking forward to seeing photos of this one.
     
  5. 81X11

    81X11 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    3,950
    Likes Received:
    446
    Trophy Points:
    186
    Wagon Garage:
    2
    Location:
    Round Rock Texas
    Sounds like a winner! Looking forward to pics.

    Oh and remember my Mom bought an 86 Electra wagon new. Not to be a downer, but 86 was the year many folks had issues with the 307, as it was updated with new heads, which have roller rockers, but tiny exhaust ports and super-restrictive manifolds. The 86 models are notorious for using oil/smoking. I would for-sure change the oil often in it. After all these years I hope you have a good one, but the miles are so low... Mom's burned out starting at 30K miles, but Dad did oil changes every 5K miles. Was told on these you need to do them every 3K miles. I would stick to that.

    Best of luck with it!

    -Mike
     
    ModelT1 likes this.
  6. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    20171030_164754[1].jpg
     
    ModelT1 and fannie like this.
  7. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Ok, here is the first photo of the "new" 31 year old wagon after I took it to the car wash and power washed the exterior and engine bay. I have not scrubbed off the years of grime on the body and stainless trim including door jambs. It will need several washings to get all the grit fro inside the window channels and trim.

    Tomorrow the plan is to replace the headliners and see what parts from his old wagon can be swapped out. I was able to locate a NOS set of GM dark blue floormats, power mirror switch, rear seat release bezel, engine temp sensor and a pair of dark blue GM fender monitor housings w/ fibre optic harnesses. I only plan on using the LH harness and housing so if someone needs the RH monitor, PM me.

    I will post more photos as I give this wagon some much needed love.

    Ted
     
    ModelT1 and fannie like this.
  8. Thirsty islander

    Thirsty islander Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    77
    Location:
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Beautiful colour combination. Love the wagon. Keep us posted with pictures love to see other at work.
     
  9. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Alrighty then..........

    So this past weekend I started working on the new wagon and tried something I thought I'd never do -- bend and flare my own brake lines. the guy who my dad relies on to work on his cars is backed up with people getting their cars ready for winter so I decided to give it a try. The only line that needed to be replaced was the main line that runs from the proportioning valve to the rear brake line junction hose (flexible). I was able to carefully remove that line in one piece so I could line up the bends I needed to get it back in place. I was not too concerned with all the intricate bends, but wanted to follow the frame and left rocker as tight as possible. Got it in and rear brakes bled. It was a pleasure to have the LH rear bleeder loosen up with no issues. Never had that happen before.

    Brake light on the dash is still on so I'm thinking it has to do with either the brake switches under the dash and/or the parking brake switch. I located a rather substantial single wire plug harness dangling hear the brake pedal, but despite my best efforts to be a contortionist, I could not get my head and a flashlight under there to see where it goes. It has a green plug end if anyone knows what it would be. I will snap a photo or two the next time I am up there.

    Next was testing the power antenna and auto leveling system. Since the antenna was stuck in the down position I was not getting any strong signal to the radio. I unplugged the switch and used a 12 volt battery to extend the mast. I tried to reverse it to lower it, but it didn't work so I called it a success and left it alone. Now the radio is clear and my dad can listen to his AM stations. :)

    Next was the auto leveling system. While under the car working on the brakes, I discovered the leveler switch was broken off the rear trailing arm so I removed the entire switch and broken piece. The metal switch arm has 2 ball joint pivots, one of which has broken off. I tried to test the leveler compressor moving the switch lever with my hand, but nothing happened.

    Then, I checked the compressor by attaching the leads from my 12 volt battery and can hear a click, but nothing else. I am guessing the relay is shot, but I don't want to invest too much time and effort into this if the leveler switch under the car is also bad. He may just install a set of airbags with a single air chuck valve stem in the license plate screw location and call it a day.

    Next was starting to recover and install the rear headliner section. I quickly realized I had not measured both headliner sections correctly and did not have enough material to cover the front headliner piece. :( The rear section was bent in the middle so my original plan was to glue the middle section to the roof so it wouldn't drop down. Unfortunately, I discovered the headliner sections do not touch the roof, but rather are held in place by the edges of the headliner moldings. When I tried to hold the middle of the headliner up tight to the roof, the edges of the sides would not go into the moldings and there was a huge gap. With the middle of mine being broken (bent) I had to figure out how to secure the middle to the roof, and then have the sides lay down into the moldings. WTF!!

    After a lot of trial and error using various materials like thin paneling, plexiglass, etc, my dad suggested installing a 5/8" or 3/4" thick piece of styrofoam directly in the middle across the headliner panel and securing that to the roof. That allowed the edges to settle down into the moldings. We used a tall garbage can and layers of styrofoam to hold the center up snug to the roof while the adhesive cured. Only time will tell after he leaves it a few days and we remove the can to see if it was a success. If not, I'll probably try a piece of light material with a stronger epoxy and try the same method again.

    I swapped out the front bumper fillers from his old wagon and reattached the missing woodgrain moldings. I discovered the wire wheel covers are held on with a special bolt with a "C" on it. Members on here have told me I can find a removal tool made by Dorman so I am hopeful. There appears to be one or two sellers on Ebay who has cornered the market on these GM hubcap locking tools. Seriously???

    Going to swap out some dash woodgrain pieces, both rear corner bumper fillers (What remain of them anyway) and swap his hood too since I had it painted and it still looks better than the current hood. Needs a good shampoo inside and out, but weather here in IL is not going to cooperate on that one. I found a NOS set of front and rear GM mats for him which along with the new headliner will spruce up the interior.

    Now, it's ready to be driven to Midas for a complete exhaust system and it is definitely due for a tune up.

    Will post some photos after the headliners are completed. Can't believe Thanksgiving is in a week!!!

    Ted
     
    ModelT1 and fannie like this.
  10. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo The Lost Lamb

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,906
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Trophy Points:
    505
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Wow, you're going great guns! Congratulations on the brake line; if you don't know what you're doing, it can turn right into a frustration festival, and that gets expensive. Ask me how I know. Anyway, diagnosing the air ride is a PITA, even for a pro like me. If he never carries more than a couple hundred pounds, the car will do just fine with a pair of coil springs. AC Delco sells springs through Rock Auto, and they'll be likely be the same as or cheaper in price than air bags.
     
    ModelT1 likes this.
  11. fannie

    fannie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2010
    Messages:
    10,870
    Likes Received:
    494
    Trophy Points:
    373
    Wagon Garage:
    3
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hi Ted good to see you back. :wave:

    Excellent find! Nothing like a fresh new 31 year old baby in the yard to get you motivated again. It sounds like you and your dad are enjoying this wagon so far. Looking forward to seeing more pics as you progress.

    Again :Welcome: back.
     
  12. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Ok, so far so good with the rear headliner staying up, but only time will tell once it goes thru a series of climate changes. I contacted the headliner company several times to obtain additional material to cover the front headliner panel, but they have yet to respond. I would just go ahead and order some more on Ebay, but since I contacted a seller personally to see if they had any additional parts for the wagon outside of Ebay, they sent me a notice that my account is suspended for a week which means I cannot buy/sell or contact anyone. That means I will have no idea if the company is trying to reach me in response to my emails. Seriously??

    I just hope I can get the few remaining repairs completed before the snow flies here in IL. Good news is my dad was able to literally make a tool to remove the hubcap locking bolts and he is just going to replace them with 1/2" bolts so there is not an issue down the road with trying to locate the correct tool. If anyone needs any of these special bolts with the "C" stamped on them PM me.

    My dad also pulled the radiator because it was seeping and decided to replace it. He was pleased the radiator cooler lines came right out without any fuss. That would be a first in my book for a 31 yr old vehicle with the original radiator. Once he gets the radiator back in it will be a trip to the muffler shop to replace the exhaust system from engine to tailpipe. Don't know if they can salvage the catalytic convertor, but if they can that would be a great savings. I told him it needs a complete fluid exchange and a tune up.

    He's decided to install airbags in the rear and bypass the air ride compressor. He has them on his other wagon and swears they are reliable and offer a decent ride quality for the price. He's not hauling heavy trailers like he did before so it's a no brainer.

    After I swap all the parts I need from his old wagon, I will be posting it on Craigslist locally. I haven't decided whether I will be posting it for sale on here as well. If I do, it will probably be listed in the range of $750 to $900.

    Ted
     
    ModelT1 likes this.
  13. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    UPDATE**

    Ok, received the additional headliner material and that should be a simple install once I carefully remove the front headliner piece. I ordered the correct headliner clips only for the center headliner molding which will serve to secure both front and rear pieces. Hopefully, I can remove the front section without having to pull any of the moldings and simply slide it back towards the rear, recover it and then carefully slide it forward in place.

    I found a pair of rear air bags that insert into the rear coil springs. Looks like a simple install once I get them inside the springs. Will probably work best to warm them up inside the house and then get one in place at a time before they get cold and stiffen up. On Ebay for less than $100 shipped. That will solve the rear suspension issues. Not going to mess with the auto leveler system now. I am grateful everything else seems to be working properly so far.

    My goals for this weekend are to:

    1. Finish the headliner install
    2. Complete the parts swap from the old wagon including rear bumper fillers, hood and the best wire wheel hubcaps between the two wagons.
    3. Tighten up both power mirrors and install replacement driver mirror switch if I can get the door panel off
    4. Clean and lubricate all windows
    5. Install the rear airbags if they arrive in the mail on time
    6. Give the exterior and interior a thorough cleaning

    Happy Thanksgiving to All!!

    Ted
     
    ModelT1 likes this.
  14. tfvesquire

    tfvesquire Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    32
    Wagon Garage:
    1
    Location:
    Chicago
    Well, so much for detailed planning. I have not touched the wagon while the weather here in IL was unseasonably warm and now I have to resort to using my infrared heater inside the cabin this weekend to complete the front headliner install. I am hopeful that I can get the last remaining repairs in before the snow flies and my dad decides to put the car away until the spring.

    Top on the list is the following:

    1. Complete front headliner install and swap woodgrain dash bezel
    2. Install rear airbags and air lines thru license plate.
    3. Swap out decent parts from his old wagon: (hood, rear bumper fillers, wire wheel covers)
    4. Finish undercoating frame

    I was able to locate an original one piece rear tailgate bumper filler that I am just going to shoot with adhesion promoter and then rattle can spray it with dark blue metallic. The LH and RH rear fillers are still usable from his old wagon so if I can get them off using a hairdryer without snapping them in two I'll install them this weekend.

    I also bought a complete roll of OEM GM woodgrain decal so I can cut a few sections to do some minor repairs in the spring. I wish I had a heated garage to thoroughly clean it up, but maybe one of the hand car washes here can do me a solid.

    Looking forward to getting a new exhaust system installed and get this behemoth back on the road.

    Will post some photos and updates after this weekend.
     
    ModelT1 likes this.
  15. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo The Lost Lamb

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,906
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Trophy Points:
    505
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Ah, you committed the auto enthusiast's cardinal sin: you blew off car work in the warm sunshine! Don't feel bad, I'm guilty of it myself.
     

Share This Page