Modifications and Repairs
note: newer items listed last
First of all, let me say this list is VERY incomplete!
I will do my best to fill in pertinent upgrades/changes to the car,
but since I have had it so much has been done that a completed list
may never happen.
- Alternator Replaced.--07/06/1995
First day I had my license I am driving around and notice the radio
flickering. I turn on the wipers and lights and everything dims.
As long as the car is running, power is present but sparing. When you
floor it, power comes back.
I remember calling my dad for a jump while sitting in front of my friend
Alan's apartment in Glens Falls. Mary and me were sitting on the hood of the
car waiting for him to show up :)
Just one in many of the problems I had with this
car as a result of it sitting around in my grandmother's garage for over
Replaced alternator, cost about $175 total. Don't remember the
- Windshield-Wiper motor replaced.--08/1995
After a month, I found I had no windshield wipers. Motor replaced,
cost $125 for parts and labor from Keith at A-2000.
- Brake lines replaced. --08/1995
The first major repair on the car, cost me about $400. I think I got
ripped off, but then again how would I know (or not know). I don't like
Warren Tire!!! I think maybe THREE days before this happened the car
was in for a FLAT REPAIR!!
- Air Condition recharged and core replaced --06/1996
One of my many car preparations for my big cross-country trip.
There was a small crack in the core and all the R12 leaked out. I brought
it in initially just to recharge, but they said they spotted the leak
right away and drained all their R12 back. At that point it was $90 for
the R12 in May. When I had the money, it rose to $110 BUT they kept it
at the quoted price. After the labor, cost me $470 but was WELL WORTH IT!!
Unfortunately my A/C compressor kicked the bucket summer of 1998 during
a VERY HOT period in Western Nebraska. (July 19, 1998 at 1:02pm MDT
to be exact) If I had only known, I could have
saved it. It will cost me about $550 to get air conditioning in that car
- Overall Tuneup. --07/10/1996
In preparation for my first big road trip to Wyoming.
Accident Repair. --05/26/1997
Remove dented inner and outer driver-side fenders, reconstruct/bend back
frame. Put replacement header on, put replacement inner fender and outer
- Alignment from Sears = disaster --08/06 AND BACK 08/14/1997
Don't ever let the stupid incompetent Sears employees do more than
install tires or car batteries, because they will royally F*** up your car.
Some guy was basically banging on something underneath my car for 2 hours
and ever since, my steering wheel column has been shifted over 2 inches.
Everyone I show it too cannot come up with an explanation as to how such
a thing could be done. The steering box mounted to the frame must have been
really fudged with somehow, or something. Needless to say I got my money
back and never trusted Sears to anything again... except tires and a battery
Paint new fender. --04/15/1998 to 05/15/1998
Yes, I waited almost a year before I ever painted the new black front
driver-side fender. Worked on it over a period of 2 months while in
Nebraska. When I'd go to do my laundry, while the dryer was going,
I'd do a coat. Used "GM BEIGE" touch-up spray paint purchased at
Parts America or Wal-Mart. About 4 to 5 coats. Everyone was very impressed
at the outcome :)
Taken mid-April, 1998
Failed clock modification. --November 1998
The stock clock adjuster knob/rod snapped so I couldn't set my clock
anymore. With it being very off, I set out to get something in there
that was suitable. My cheap-minded philosophy brought me to Parts America
where I picked up a nice digital LCD clock for $5. I took the old clock
and broke it out of it's encasing, and stuck this digital clock in. It
worked fine for about a week, but did not live up to it's guarantee... when
the liquid crystal froze inside the clock to the point where it would just
blink garbage characters. Oh well. :)
Replace ash tray track/guide. --November 1998
Ash tray track cracked from stuffing too much crap into the ash tray and
actually THINKING it would open!. Got parts from junk yard cars, installed
fine. Also replaced burned-out light bulb in ash tray as well.
Install new clock. --May 1999
The original clock worked, but the adjustment knob/lever thing snapped, so
I couldn't adjust it. I didn't feel like disconnecting it until the right
time came up (laugh), so I replaced it with the clock out of a 1984 Impala.
I like it a lot. I was skeptical that it would work, but it did -- even
the light works in it ;)
New windshield wiper blades installed.
No-name Wal-Mart brand blades now installed for the third time.
I change them once a year. The Wal-Mart blades work great on this
car, the only problem is they wear out rather quickly.
Highly Recommended: RainX windows at least every 2000 miles.
Switched hood ornament to 9C1. --10/24/2000
My good friend John gave me the hood ornament from his 95 9C1 which he
removed. So, why not put it on the 85 and see how it looks? ;)
Replaced front seat. --10/24/2000
Took a driver seat from a Silver '96 9C1 and replaced the 60 seat from the
60/40 combo. Seat was way worn down and uncomfortable. Took the power
seat assembly off the 85 seat, mounted it to the 96 seat, mounted the controls
to the front of the seat (on the metal frame), and remounted the seat.
Passenger seat coming real soon!
Replaced front passenger seat. --11/18/2000
Got the other bucket seat from that silver '96 9C1 and popped it into
the passenger side. Looks and feels great, and the silver is actually
not too intrusive to the tan color scheme of the interior. Probably this
is due to the silver/chrome highlites of the trim. Should I get seat covers
and a tan console, or a gray console and leave the seats as is? They are
really comfortable and I like the way they look in the car :-)
[more pictures on pics page 3]
Also note the seat-belt clips were replaced with the matching ones from the
- Bought $24 WalMart Grey Console for between seats. --12/23/2000.
Yes, the same console as in the 9C1 except grey.
Replace gray front seats with NICE '94 Tan Buckets. --01/29/2001
This is probably one of the best mods I have done for the car. Now granted,
the grey seats were a vast improvement in comfort, but they lacked in
matching the appearance of the car. These seats kick ass! I am so psyched
now to fix up the rest of the interior to make it look AS GOOD as these seats
do. A big shot out to my new friend and car buddy Peter May in Brewerton!
Note: Seat Belt buckles KEPT grey since Peter obviously still needed his.
You can barely tell since the console pretty much covers them.
Exchange Grey Console for Tan one. --01/30/2001
Had to be done, right? This car is really looking good inside.
Replace driver-side Windshield Wiper Arm --02/15/2001
The wiper arm kept coming off. Too many attempts to run it with heavy snow
on it apparently caused the motor to gouge the metal around the
coupling and the wiper would not stay on anymore. Also, the clip had broken
off. Found a wiper on a junked '85 and replaced it.
Replace gear-shift rubber end--02/15/2001
The one I had was broken in like 5 spots and crazyglued.
The junked '85 I found got pretty-much stripped to pieces by me, and
that piece was once of them that found it's way into my car :)
Install factory Delco radio *with cassette* from another 85 Caprice.
Found a gem of a parts car at a local junk yard. Stripped out tons of parts
including a decent-condition radio with tape deck!! Finally! Also
replaced the climate controls as they are attached to the radio. I didn't
feel like taking them off at the junk yard. Those work a lot better than
mine did as well.
I didn't go with a replacement radio because
the 85 Caprice was radio is designed with the same
trim and molding package of the dash, so unfortunately it was hard
to find a dash kit and radio that will look half way decent.
The old radio dropped in and out, the display barely
ever came on, and it was just a pain :)
Of course the sound is awesome on
the stock speakers. Better than the 9C1's is :)
Replace Instrument Cluster window --03/04/2001
One of the many other parts I grabbed off the junkyard '85. I cracked the
clip on my window when I tightened the screw too much a long time ago.
Moron in GMC pickup backs into me --03/06/2001
Gee, thanks. I go to visit my father who works at a dealership (unnamed)
and he's out clearing snow off cars. A whole group of guys, I pull in and
they all wave. Then this moron gets into the truck they just
cleaned off and proceeds to put it in reverse and floor it. I notice
the reverse lights immediately. Everyone starts screaming at the guy, and
I lay on the horn. He finally slams on the brakes but hits me anyway.
Of course this car is a tank!! Only damage is slightly bent-in wheel
well and the trim on the wheel-well bent, likewise.
If you didn't know, you wouldn't notice.
Long live the Chevrolet Beasts!!! |
And people have the nerve to wonder why I am fixing up this car...
They tell me it's an old rustbucket and not worth the money or effort I
put into it. Well, this car will outlast your new import piece of shit, and if something
happens to it, it will STILL work!!
Still, the constant reminder and "hints" trying to convince me to park
this car aside.
Well, I hate to tell them but NO WAY!!
Luckily my dad happened to witness the whole thing. He refuses to blame
the dealership, yet sympathized with me when I reminded him that customers
in VERY NICE CARS pull into their lot in much the same manner as I did, and
if a customer came in and got nailed like that, they'd make a BIG STINK about
... so, he's going to pay to fix it AND the rust spots too!!
I don't think he should have to pay, but I guess he likes his job enough
to the point that he doesn't want to lose it *smirk*.
Install power seat rails/controls to passenger seat --03/17/2001
That goldmine car I parted out last month continues to be of use. Today
I removed both seats from the car. Had to take off the passenger side trim
and chrome to get under the carpet. Was trying to run a wire over to the
passenger side from the driver power but couldn't quite get in there.
So, that wasn't so hard once the carpet was up. Spliced into the orange
positive wire and ran over to the passenger side. Hooked up the jack and
put the interior back together. Mounted the rails first (what a pain but
decided to try it anyway) and tested them, worked fine. Mounted the control
plate onto the seat just like the driver seat. Then mounted the seat to the
rails, and then the controls to the seat. Everything worked PERFECTLY!!!
Install new "used" computer--03/17/2001
One thing I wasn't expecting to do today was put the computer in. Upon
removing the interior parts, I stumbled upon it. Clever place to put it
inside the molding.
I had speculated last fall that the ECM was fried since the "service
engine soon" light stayed on now no matter what, and even attempting a
diagnostic (with paperclip) and battery
disconnect didn't get it to blink or shut off or anything. Before it
stayed on, it would come on and go off... then one night I smelled some
burning-electronic smell... and then it stayed off, and then just stayed
Before installing the new one, I removed the old one and
opened it up. Sure enough, there was a burnt chip on the circuit board.
When the service engine light came on initially, I smelled it and KNEW it
was an electronic component burning.. you just know these things.
I nailed it! ;)
(picture of burnt chip on right)
With the possible chance of frying this one, I thought about
it and decided to go ahead and install it anyway. I came to this conclusion
after deciding thet computer / engine light only came on when the engine
got wet intentionally (like for washing), and I knew it was dry.
Put it in, started the car... no service engine light!!!
I would like to thank Tim Whiting in Montana for sending it to me :)
Attempted power trunk release installation
Didn't work. I assumed the trunk latch assembly was identical on the
cars without the auto-trunk option, but I must be wrong, or mine is bent.
The power trunk unit won't mount in the spot. Will go back to the junkyard
on Monday and look at the "donor car" :)
Power Trunk Release installed! Also glovebox replace and new light
This time had the patience to actually realize how simple it was.
Removed the glove-box and light assembly. Spliced into light
power, ran wire to solenoid. The light and box came from that
85 I got all the parts from.
Got NY license plates
Not really car-worthy information but I did get away with running on
Nebraska plates for a year while living in New York, so... ;)
Installation of 1985 Caprice Instrument Cluster with temp gauge *FAILED*
I set up the odometer on this instrument cluster to a tape deck which read
30 MPH and let it run non-stop for 35 days to reach the mileage that is on
my 1985. It finally got to it this morning, so just as it was 30 miles
from being the same, I started to take apart my dash. Removed the stock
speedo/inst. cluster to install the better one.
Installed it. Nothing worked. The speedo did but the gauges were all out
of whack. Darn. I assumed since they were both 1985's that the
electrical connections would have been the same. Guess I learned.
Install new (reman'd) airpump and Steering Linkage kit (or something like
that) -- 07/10/2001
In order to pass inspection my mechanic insisted an airpump be installed
(what a waste of money) and the bushings in the front needed to be replaced.
Ok, fine... but then I go to drive the car and the SERVICE ENGINE light is
on again... oh no!!! The ECM has once again been toasted. MUST find short
Install 6J6 high mount rear window additional brake/turn signal lights
Purchased from a friend who dug them out of a boxy cop car, now installed
into my boxy cop car! Removed rear seat, measured spacing to be even on each
side. Drilled holes and mounted brackets. Ran wires to tap into regular
turn signal circuits. Need to install high-capacity flasher and eventually
wire a switch into them.
Purchased two NEW 9C1 front springs -- 09/15/2001
Got two barely used 9C1 springs for use in the front of the 85. Will
get installed soon!
Fixed computer problem!!! -- 03/02/2002
Thank you Mitch!!! My dad suggested a mechanic he knew from his job at
D'ella Pontiac take a look at my car. I dropped it off at his house in
late December and told him to take his time. Well, after a couple of hours
looking it over, and phone calls discussing what was found, Mitch stumbled
upon some grounding issues with the engine, tightened some bolts, and
low-and-behold the check engine light went out!
Apparently one of the grounds to the engine block was bad, causing
other ones to overload and melt, including the one from the frame to the
battery. This apparently caused the ground load to somehow cross the
path of the computer shorting out the first comp and then short circuiting
the path the ECM on the second "fry".
The car runs awesomely now. All I need to do is install the 9C1 springs
on it, get some tires, and then fix the dents :)
Installed two used 9C1 rear springs -- 05/22/2002
Got two used 9C1 springs for use in the rear of the 85.
Had my friend Gary Meier install them for me. Wow, what a difference!
2 new tires.. -- 05/24/2002
And it's about time! The tires on the back have been on the car since
1997. For now, the new ones are on the back. Until I can get a new
replacement rim, they're stayin there... one of the rims is bent, and
when I had them on the front, the car shook. So, I swapped them to the back.
New plugs Feb 2003
Replaced Starter Feb 2003
Changed air filter and breather Mar 2003 (maintenance stuff)
7/10/2003 -- new front brake pads
10/15/2003 -- inspection passed!
amazingly enough, even with the passenger-side front spring broken,
they passed it. The mechanic noted:
Your e-brake is sticking, your front tires BARELY have enough tread
to be considered legal, and your water pump and radiator is
The radiator has been leaking for over
a year and the rust continues to eat away at the poor car. Also, the
check engine light is once again on. I need to call Mitch!
- New Battery -- 5/29/2004
Sears battery warranty pro-rated replacement. Car wouldn't start. Turns
out it was fouled plugs. Replaced those shortly after.
- Changed spark plugs -- 5/30/2004
Dad came over and we changed the plugs in the driveway. Got it running, still
stalled though. Exhaust coming soon.
- Exhaust overhaul -- 6/22/2004
Catalytic converter completely plugged, reason car was stalling and running
so horribly. Without going into detail, solved that problem. From the
engine pipe to the rear with muffler replaced. $100. Car runs awesome now.
Only problem will be getting an inspection sticker ;)
- Replace spark plugs -- 6/24/2004
The guys at the exhaust place didn't let it warm up and the plugs fouled.
In the middle of the ghetto in Schenectady, had to change the spark plugs.
Got the passenger side done, enough to get it started and get out of there :-)
I'm a pro at it now on this car, can get them all in and out in under an
hour. Those four I had within 25 minutes.
- Replaced radiator -- July 2004
$100 from Napa, slid right in. Amazed that it was identical to the one I pulled out.
- New Windshield -- 08/24/2004
A rock hit my windshield, or a stress crack from water leaking in, or something
on July 30th I think. Comp / glass claim on my car insurance, have a nice,
new, clear windshield now.
- Finally a new hood -- October 2004
Took the hood off the '86 caprice and swapped it
with the hood on this car. I haven't had a straight, normal hood on this
car since early 1997. No thanks, too, to Jay Winters who drunkenly threw
himself on it and dented it in in July while reinacting a car crash.
- Change Passenger side Spark Plugs (again). -- January 13, 2005
They love to foul up, don't they? :-) The only warm day we had in January,
I climbed under the car and got it running again.
- Fix driver side front tire -- March 21, 2005
Lost air, went flat, and I ended up driving the tire off the rim.. luckily
in a parkinglot going less than 1 mph. Put the spare on, drove
it to wal mart, had them fix it and balance both front wheels. $19
- Repair shock mount that broke off control arm -- June 26, 2005
I lucked out on this one. This broke sometime in May and I couldn't
really drive the car because of it. The shock broke down out of the
control arm. It would scrape against the ground if I hit a bump. My dad
and me broke the shock out finally and dor $40 had a guy weld a fitted piece
of metal onto the control arm. I was able to put a shock back in. :-)
- Front Brake Job --July 8, 2005
$83.95 for rotors and silver (one grade up) brake pads. Drove it to my
sister's house in Mayfield. My brother-in-law Ron and I stood out in the
rain and did the brakes. Car stops great now, smooth and evenly.
Plugs changed on this car 3 times between January and August 2005:
Apr 15, 2005, Aug 12, 2005, January 2006.
- Choke Pull-Off Switch --February 13, 2006
$40 part to get the car to stop fouling the plugs. Total bill $70-something.
Wonder how much damage the engine has sustained over the last 2 years I've
had to rev the piss out of it to get it running. Oh well. Runs alright
now. Idles a little low, but hasn't stalled. Gas mileage went way down
on the highway. If anyone knows any quick fixes for that, I'm all ears.
I also changed the air filter and PCV Valve on the car at this time.
- Tie Rods --March 9, 2006
Car was due for inspection. Brakes are good. Spring, despite being
broken by one coil, is resting fine. tie rods though, not good.
Overall cost $276 to get tie rods replaced, and inspection.
- Water Pump --April 2007
My nephew who is studying to become an auto mechanic came over and
we did the water pump in my car port during a rainy cool spring day.
$35 for the pump, $10 for some Orange hand cleaner, and some time.
All buttoned up, working great!
- Major tune up --April 2007
Plugs, wires, cap and rotor, oil change. Runs a lot better now. Still over-fueling
a lot, so... next thing on the list
- Carbuerator Tweaked --May 2007
Paid a old-time mechanic $30 to tweak the settings on the carb. Runs great now!
- Timing chain! doh! --May 19, 2007
Drove the car to Binghamton to go to DMV to get plates for my latest vehicle
purchase, the 1993 Buick Park Ave. Car died 2 miles
shy of DMV, and within 100 feet of the border of Binghamton. Timing chain
went. Car was running like a top. I am going to fix this when I get a chance,
hopefully in the next 2 weeks!
If that is successful, I will get the springs fixed (finally) and get it
inspected and start driving it again!
- Timing gears/chain --July 12/13/16/17, 2007
- tore the front of the engine apart
- ran to autozone and advanced a lot and then ACE the helpful place once to rethread the crankshaft
- went to the junkyard for a harmonic balancer cost $30 (that they tried to charge me $50... 30 was too much as it is)
- tools broke. lifetime warranty. still need to bring that back :-D
- jack put the fan on and said he helped 8-)
- Since then up to now --July 17 - Sept 27, 2007
- timed it a few days later - timing gun 70 - distributor wrench 8-10
ran, but it ticked.
- brought it to Devon's house and he flushed the radiator
- changed the thermostat and gasket and coolant temp sensor
- rocker arms changed
- valve cover gasket (only the one side)
- new cheap walmart battery
- pulled the steering column apart
- the lower radiator hose replaced (spare in trunk). it then got sick after a test drive and threw up on the ground (antifreeze)
-- hose popped off
fix steering column and front springs and get ready for inspection
Stuff to do:
One broke now, passenger side.
Likely due to reason above.
The worst hail storm I have ever experienced, and this car survived it
without a broken window!
Paint fading, rust appearing, holes forming EVERYWHERE!
Car pulls to left as always. Not worth messing with until springs and shocks done.