1970 Buick Electra
I picked this car up from another member of my local Buick club chapter for the measly sum of $100. He had already grabbed the 455 engine and TH400 trans and will be grabbing the wheels/tires and front brake drums, but this car has solid floor pans (which I desperately need for my 1970 Electra convertible) along with a bunch of other odds and ends I can use - such as a trunk lid and hood without any rust on the leading/trailing edges, and front fenders with corning lights in them. It also has a much nicer hood latch mechanism than mine does (easier to use) and some options mine does not have that can be easily transplanted such as the cruise control and the six-way power front bench seat.
The options I have found on the car are listed below, with the ones that are not on my 1970 Electra convertible shown in green. Not too bad for a $100 car I originally looked at because the seller said the floor pans were still solid and that's the biggest part I need for my convertible...
I apologize for the fact that some of the pictures are out of focus; I recently bought a new digital camera and I'm still having some trouble convincing the auto-focus to focus on what I want it to focus on...
It's really not in bad shape. Other than wasted carpets and a moderately funky smell in the interior due to a leaking rear window and a trunk full of junk (including the remnants of the final trip the grocery store in this car's life), if this thing still had a motor and trans in it, it would be worth cleaning up and saving. Lucky for me, the engine and trans are long gone - so I get a parts car! Note the distinct lack of rust around the exterior of the car - particularly the hood leading edge, trunk trailing edge, and front fenders. Even the rear wheel skirts are in great shape. Looks like I made out on my $100 parts car.
Carpet And Seats Removed To Inspect Floorpans
This was the true test of the reason for buying this car. Once the power system for the front seat was tested, the front and rear seats were removed, and the carpet and sound deadener pulled up - would the floor pans prove to be in usable condition? Well, they're a bit worse than I'd hoped for, but they are still intact everywhere except under the rear seat. Woh-hoh! They do have a good bit of surface rust, and some flaking, but they are intact and structurally sound. I've been kneeling and sitting directly on them as I work on the car, and no signs of bending or buckling have showed up, so I'm calling this a suitable set of donor floor pans. The area under the rear seat is wasted - you can see the pinholes in a few of the photos. While I was vacuuming out the remnants of the interior, whole sections of the floor pans under the rear seat were actually flaking off - not unlike peeling the layers off an onion - and getting sucked into my shop vac. It was weird and cool at the same time. To illustrate how much the rear window area leaked, check out the aftermarket speaker that was sitting in the trunk below the rear package shelf - if you look closely, you will see that is is filled with water, including the small tweeter! Somehow I doubt it's salvageable. :-)
My plan is to gut the interior of the car (while carefully tagging and storing the parts I plan to re-use vs. the ones that are up for sale), then clean, de-rust, and re-prime the floor pans while they are still in the donor car. That way I can stop the rust from progressing and have them ready to cut out and install in my convertible after I get a new convertible top is installed. Think about it this way - the floor pans are the same size as the passenger compartment of this beast - where are you going to be able to store something that big and bulky until you need it all while protecting it fro the weather. Yep, the car stays weather-tight (or at least as weather-tight as it is now :-) until I'm ready for the floor pans. I'll probably do the same with the hood and front fenders. No sense storing it on the ground and risking mangling it when it's in a perfectly good storage location right now mounted on the car.
Dashboard Removed and Parts Inventoried
This was the first big job to get done - pulling the dashboard and sorting out the myriad parts it contains. I will be using a good number of these parts on my car, right down to the various dash supports. Mine are also suffering from a case of surface rust, so I will take these and sandblast them, paint them, and store them until I'm ready to re-assemble things on the convertible. The various pictures here are intended to help show me how various parts were installed in the car and how the related to one another - sort of a pictorial assembly manual. A year or more from now when I go to re-install this stuff and it's all clean, painted, and shiny - these pictures will be all I have to go on to tell me how this stuff goes back together. I sure hope my website doesn't crash and burn before then... :-)
I came across some interesting stuff while doing this. One was that the key buzzer wire was cut at the base of the steering column. Another was that the turn signal lever that should have contained a button for the cruise control and had a wiring harness coming out of it and going down the steering column - it was simply missing. The instrument cluster, while largely intact, was very fragile in areas - particularly at the mounting points along the top and for and for various mounting points for things like the left side AC vent - and anything metal was pretty rusty from the amount of moisture that had gotten into the car. The trip odometer doesn't work - or at least won't reset - but it is locked in at a pleasant 777 miles.
Note that to get the steering column and brake pedal support out, I had to remove the power brake booster and master cylinder. They are being safely stored away for use in another possible project - converting my 1958 Buick Special to a more modern dual master cylinder braking system. Even if they are only used for mock-ups and initial system testing, they are working now and basically free, plus I can use them as cores if (when) I buy new parts to install on the '58. Waste not, want not...
Door Panels, Wiring Harness, and Remaining Interior Bits Removed
Yanking the door panels, the wiring harness, and the remaining interior trim was pretty simple. No real surprises here other than how hard it will be to get the wiring harnesses out of the doors - that will have to wait until I either take the doors off the car or remove the front fenders to get access to the leading edge of the door better. There is simply no room to get in between the door and the body to remove the rubber "tube" the wiring runs through in between the body and the doors. And I need to get the door wiring out relatively intact - the power seat wiring that I want to use goes through it. Yay.
Engine Compartment Components and Heater/AC System Removed
Again, more relatively boring stuff. It all came off easily and I was able to get the hood release mechanism off in one piece - it's a bit nicer of a style than mine (a running change on the production line, perhaps?), so I'll be using it. The nastiest part here was standing in the engine compartment to get to the AC box bolts - the front crossmember, sway bar, and steering center link were covered in some really nasty spooge that I tried very hard not to get on me. The actual bolt and part removal went smoothly, and by laying a large rag across the crossmember, I was able to sit on it while working and not get my jeans greasy. The rag was a total loss, but it gave it's life for a good cause. :-)
Wheels, Suspension, Gas Tank, Underbody Components, Taillights, and Bumpers Removed
Time for the fun stuff. The car is now off the trailer and up on jack stands in my driveway. The wheels/tires along with the front brake drums came off the car and are going back to the fellow I bought the car from - that was part of the original purchasing agreement. The rear taillights and bumper came next, then the gas tank. The gas tank in particular looks quite good - exactly what I was hoping for because mine has some small leaks. I pulled the float assembly and looked into the tank with a flashlight - no crud in the bottom and no visible rust. Score! I even found what looks to be the original build sheet tucked between the gas tank and the body. Even better, I was able to remove all of the gas tank attaching hardware (straps, bolts, cage nuts and clips) without damaging anything. Lots of time with a small wire brush and a liberal hosing down of things with PB Blaster works wonders at times.
The rear axle was a bit stubborn, but it too came out without much effort. When I took that out I found the automatic level control valve - see the pics for a close-up. The shocks in it were standard-issue gas shocks and the original air shocks were long gone. I saved all the level control bits in case I do decide to re-use them. I also removed all of the wiring from the trunk lid along with the power trunk release and lock mechanism while I was working on the back of the car. The fuel and rear brake lines came next - I saved all of the little clips and attaching bolts so I'd have plenty of spares for my car later on. Even the little clips that held the rear air line to one of the gas lines where it ran down the frame rail got saved, except for the one that took off for points unknown when I tugged on the air hose line the first time.
The final thrash went by pretty fast. I started by removing the front sheet metal, doors, and glass. Along the way I cleaned up and primed the floor and trunk sections I wanted to save. It turned out that the drivers side floorpan was too wasted to save. The core support and inner fender were very rusty under the battery tray area, but I saved what I could, if only to be used as a pattern for a replacement chunk of metal to be crafted by hand since pretty much nothing is reproduced for this car. I also found some unexpected rust on the bottom rear section of the driver's side front fender - it was behind the lower trim piece so I only found it once that was removed.
On the subject of removing the glass, I found out that only the windshield fits the convertible, and I managed to crack that getting it out. Blech. The other 4 pieces are available for anyone who needs them, though. I even managed to get the trim off without serious damage except for the upper windshield trim pieces which got totally mangled and thrown away.
I got lucky and found a build sheet between the gas tank and the trunk floor, and managed to get the grunge and tape off it so I could read it. I plan on decoding it to find out if it's really for my car or not - it'll be a good "dry run" in case I find the one for my convertible when I take the gas tank out of it. If I can find enough information to do the decoding, maybe I'll create a web page about decoding these things.
Here are the as-removed and after cleaning pictures.
Here are two scans of the build sheet.
The good news is that there are a lot of small odds and ends up for sale that I will not need from this car, so ask if you want something. I saved pretty much everything. The bad news is that it's been a while since I took this car apart, and not much is left.
This was car #22. The first car someone called me about to tell me I should buy it. The first car I bought intending to use major body pieces on another car for rust repair. My first experience towing with my own car trailer.
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Page last updated 12/27/2011 10:23:21 AM