I wanted to clean all of that grime out from under the car and pressure washing seemed to be the best solution. Unfortunately, the back wheels were off and the car was on jack stands inside the garage. I would need to pressure wash inside the garage. I bought some painter’s plastic and taped it up all around the car. I placed some 2×4’s along each side of the car and tucked the plastic under them. Now I was able to lift up a section of plastic and pressure wash the underside. All of the gunk was channeled outside from under the front of the car.
Time to formulate a new plan,
- Remove some parts
- Clean them or renew them
- Put the parts back on
- Always keep the car in a drivable state
I figured the best place to start was the rear end. I’ll pull off the rear axle and have it rebuilt. Meanwhile I’ll order up some new leaf springs and have them ready to install when the differential comes back from the shop.
To remove the differential, I needed to unbolt the U-bolts securing it to the leaf springs. I also needed to detach the emergency brake cables which meant I needed to disassemble the rear brake assemblies.
The emergency brake cable looks tricky to remove. There is a strange clip that locks it into place after it’s pushed through the backing plate. I ended up sliding an appropriately sized washer over the end of the cable. I pounded it over the clip to the face of the backing plate using a box wrench, a hammer and any old socket wrench socket. Once the washer had contacted the face of the backing plate, the little fingers on the clip were pressed inward enough for me to pull the cable through the back.
Time to move to the driver’s side. There were only four wheel studs on this side. That has always bugged me. Been like that since the day I got the car.
I disconnected the drive shaft from the differential which was unbelievably simple. I couldn’t believe just four little screws held it together. Finally, I unbolted the U-Bolts and the rear axle was free to move. I set my floor jack up under the center of the differential (some folks call it the “pumpkin”) and jacked it up. Once it was high enough for the backing plates to clear the leaf springs, I wheeled the jack to the side and inched the differential a few feet to one side so that one backing plate cleared its adjacent leaf spring. I then lowered the jack and rested one end of the axle assembly on the floor. From there, I was able to lift the other end over the other leaf spring and lower it down onto the floor.
Blech! Filthy. And look what someone did with that brake line. I guess it needed to get replaced at some point and the mechanic didn’t have one the right length so they used one that was too long and just bent it to fit.
Here is an assortment of small parts that came off.
I got this car back in 1986 when I was 18. I bought it from my mom who was the second owner. The original owner was a friend of hers from work who drove it out to L.A. from New Jersey.
I’ve rolled the odometer a few times since I took ownership and have easily put a quarter of a million miles on it.
In 1992, I had it painted by Guy Hill Cadillac. They were recommended to me by a friend who worked there. They stripped it down to the metal, did some minor body work and painted it with a 1993 Ford green called, “Medium Seafoam Poly”.
Here’s how it looked after I got it back (took 3 months!)
The car looked great but felt old and tired. The suspension was a little saggy, the rear end was a little noisy, engine a little rough. The interior certainly showed its age. The engine compartment was an eyesore and the underside was full of grime spattered on due to leaky seals. Nevertheless, it was my daily driver until 2004 when I got my new Prius. It sat on the street for a few years weathering the elements. The paint job eventually faded, the clear coat peeling off. I decided it was time to part with it and listed it on Craig’s List. The calls quickly started coming in and each perspective buyer was asking strange questions. “Is the right passenger door in good shape?”, “Does it have all of the chrome moulding?” I realized these folks were going to part it out. It wasn’t going to go to a good home, at least in one piece. So I removed the listing from Craig’s list and moved the car to the garage. Some day, I thought, I would restore this car myself. The cats soon discovered it was a “safe” place to perch.
The car sat in there for eight years and more and more junk got piled on top of it until eventually it was hard to spot amidst the clutter.
In early January, 2014 as I was struggling to get something out of the back of the garage, I realized that the car would just sit there forever, taking up space unless I took action and commence the long restoration process. So on January 19, 2014 I made a plan:
- Clean out the garage
- Install good lighting (so I can see what I’m working on)
- Install a utility sink (to clean car parts)
- Install hanging storage racks so we can put stuff up high and free up floor space.
I stuck to my plan. By February the junk was removed from the garage, new lighting was installed, a functioning utility sink was in place and the car was ready to move into position. I installed a new car battery, sat in the driver’s seat and inserted the key in the ignition. I pumped the gas pedal a few times and turned the key. The engine cranked over several times but failed to start. After some quick diagnosing I discovered that the needle valve in the carburetor was stuck. Some quick tinkering fixed it and with smelly old gas filling the bowl, I tried again. Vroom! The engine started right up and the garage quickly filled up with nasty old burnt gas smell. I quickly put ‘er into gear and pulled out into the driveway!
Here’s where I discovered reverse no longer worked. I had to rev the engine pretty hard while in reverse to get it to inch back into the garage. Tranny is likely low on fluid. I killed the engine and sighed. I did it. I took the first step. I am now ready to begin this long adventure!