1973 Electra - Resurrection
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Resurrection of the Dead

The page is all about the process of resurrecting my 1973 Electra from it's long state of suspended animation. I parked it when the engine failed to produce more than 5psi of oil pressure at idle when the engine was warmed up, and it has sat quietly in my side yard awaiting time and money for me to get back to it. With the arrival of a decent rebuildable 430 engine, and space in my driveway to do the work, the time for this project has arrived.

Here's the basic plan of attack:

  •  Rebuild 430 engine and prepare it to be installed
  •  Remove 455 engine and store away on a stand
  •  Remove existing transmission and store away - tag it as operating correctly
  •  Clean engine compartment thoroughly
  •  Rewiring work in engine compartment
  •  Install 430 engine and previously rebuilt TH400 transmission
  •  Remove dash, instrument cluster, radio, and heater/AC system
  •  Remove seats and carpet
  •  Clean interior thoroughly
  •  Repair rust hole under dash
  •  Reinstall and adjust heater/AC system
  •  Rewiring work under the dash and in the interior
  •  Install new carpet
  •  Install rear seat
  •  Fix passenger's side front seat
  •  Install front seats
  •  Reinstall dash
  •  Complete front brake job (new rotors, calipers, pads, and front wheel bearings, and bearing seals)
  •  Complete rear brake job
  •  Replace side window seals


Day One - Initial Assessment, Begin Teardown

After getting this beast out of my side yard and into my driveway, the first order of business was getting it on jack stands, assessing the over state of things (such as the unexpectedly advanced rust on the hood), and beginning the teardown process. The teardown was a pretty basic start - the carb was removed, the engine lifting plate was installed, the coolant was drained, the radiator hoses removed, all vacuum lines removed and/or disconnected, all engine wiring removed, the heater hoses disconnected, the trans cooler lines disconnected from the radiator, the fan and fan shroud removed, the radiator cover removed, the radiator removed, and the tires removed. I also disconnected the AC compressor from it's mounts and tied it up out of the way so I don't have to break the connections on the AC hoses - I'll deal with that later.

The good news is the coolant was still green, and the system is pretty full, the radiator looks good (though a bit crusty inside), and even most of the hoses seem OK at least for the initial start-up of the new motor. The tires also seem to be in OK shape - no obvious flat spots, still holding air, and the rubber seems to be in decent shape with no signs of "age cracking" on the sidewalls.

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Day Two - Drain Fluids, Remove Driveshaft and Wiring

I didn't have too much time to work on the car, but I did managed to drain the engine oil and transmission fluid, remove the driveshaft, unbolt all the torque converter from the flywheel, and remove all of the engine compartment wiring. I even got a tiny bit done on the interior - mostly pulling wires in through the firewall and cleaning out some old trash from the last time the car was driven. Check out the picture below to see how long (tall) the driveshaft on this thing is.

I did find out the my earlier wiring attempts don't pass muster for what I know today - for starters, I used adhesive electrical tape on the harness and it was a very gooey mess after 5+ years. So it's good to get started on this. I also poked my head under the dash and was truly aghast at my earlier wiring job. Everything was badly crimped terminals, most of it in the same wire color, and it was all poorly routed with no connectors to disconnect things - I had to cut a few things to disconnect the various harnesses. Ugh. I'm glad I'll be re-doing the entire dash wiring as part of this work.

I also removed the cheap aftermarket delay wiper controller box I had previously installed, and naturally, I disassembled it to see what was inside of it. It turns out it's a simple 555-based timer circuit that drives a multi-pole relay, with the various relay poles controlling what's on when. I'm going to have to reverse engineer the circuit as it seems to work pretty well for non-depressed park wiper systems.

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Day Three - Engine and Transmission Removal

This was the big greasy one - the original 455 engine and the replacement TH400 transmission are now out of the car. The engine is resting quietly on an engine stand for a future rebuild, and the transmission is sitting on the floor waiting to be used someplace else if needed.

I had to remove the oil filter so I could get at the passenger's side motor mount bolt, so there was a bit of oil drippage in various spots, which required some cleanup. The transmission even managed to not drool anything on my driveway - that's a first for me. The engine did decide to drain some antifreeze out of the block and onto my driveway, but that was easy enough to clean up. Remarkably, the exhaust nuts came off without anything breaking. Other than a barked left knuckle, it was an uneventful and relatively easy engine and transmission removal, especially considering that I did it by myself.

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Day Four - ???

I wonder what I'll have a chance to do next?


What's Left To Do?

Stuff left to do includes:

  • Getting more done on the design of the custom wiring and getting a final design.
  • Creating the new custom wiring harnesses using the original harnesses as a starting point.
  • Removing the dash and interior wiring.
  • Removing the heater/AC system.
  • Removing the seats and carpet.
  • Re-installing the driver's front seat so the car can be moved if needed.
  • Degreasing the engine compartment and fogging the frame rails with a quick coat of black paint.
  • Rebuilding and installing the 430 along with the previously rebuilt TH400 trans.
  • Getting the new engine running properly.
  • Rebuilding the rear brakes with new shoes/hardware/cylinders.
  • Rebuilding the front brakes with new rotors/calipers/pads/front wheel bearings/bearing seals.
  • Remounting existing BF Goodrich Radial TA tires on Buick Ralley rims.
  • Installing BF Goodrich Radial TA tires and Buick Ralley rims on the car.
  • Installing new window and door seals so the car is weather-tight.
  • Getting the rust issues around the rear window fixed.
  • Replacing the front windshield.
  • Fixing the rust hole under the dash in the bottom of the air plenum.
  • Fixing any rust in the floors.
  • Installing new sound deadener.
  • Reinstalling the heater/AC system.
  • Installing the new custom wiring under the dash and in the interior.
  • Installing new carpet.
  • Installing the rear seat.
  • Fixing the passenger's side seat to work again and reinstalling the passenger's front seat.
  • Getting new covers put on the front seats.



Comments? Kudos? Got some parts you'd like to buy/sell/barter/swap? Nasty comments about my web page so far? You can email Mike or Debbie.

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Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM