'66 Imperial Convertible Rebuild: A Fresh Start

Member's Projects & Restorations

  1. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    Okay - I'm going to attempt to keep this to one thread, as easy as it is to start a new one for every different issue that arises. The original delivery thread just has too much angst in it or, more accurately, reminds me too much about the unloading incident. Time to move on to the meat 'n taters of it.

    After getting it hauled home Thursday, I let the car sit until Saturday. Wife and daughter were off to buy groceries and such, so I strayed off the reservation a bit instead of doing yard work and other chores. Got it started up, again with the aid of fluid, and moved it around a bit - carefully, since I discovered the wet rear wheel coinciding with no brakes.

    Did a little 'sample' cleaning on the chrome just to see how well (if at all) it would come back.

    Hopped inside and played with all things electrical, right in my wheelhouse so to speak. Discovered that many of the problems are related to sitting idle for 31 years. Imagine that. The rear driver's side window would not go up but I discovered it would go down more. Not the desired result, but at least the motor was good. Pulled the switch panel, switch is rough. But by applying some pressure to the connector and pushing the switch, eventually the window came all the way up. Success!

    Moved on to the courtesy lights. Nobody home. Same with the map light. And dash light. Turns out every damned bulb I've pulled so far is blown and looks to be original. A plus - at least they should all be a simple fix.

    Wipers work, horn works, aerial went up and stayed there. Locks make a nice noise under the dash but no workie in the doors.

    Moved on to the directional signals my buddy had mentioned were non-functional. Grabbed my trusty Fluke meter and checked for voltage at the flasher plug. Sure enough - 12 volts in each position. Picked up the flasher unit and noticed it rattled inside. Huh...not supposed to do that. Hopefully another easy fix as soon as the flasher and bulbs arrive.

    Worked on the aerial yesterday evening. Couldn't find my electrical spray contact cleaner so I used the next best thing, the trusty standby: WD-40. Shot some into the switch, worked it up and down, no joy - up only. Reached around through the missing glove box area (did I mentioned the missing glove box?) and did a Stevie Wonder appraisal of the wire connections. A bit of wiggling and - downward motion! Worked the switch a few more times and wiggled the wires, it now appears to be working reliably. Waking Up An Old Car 101.

    Here are a few photos of the progress, including some quick chrome cleanup and voltage measurements from the flasher plug. And whatever else looks interesting.

    Next: Questions

    MirrorB4.JPG MirrorAfter.JPG Right.JPG Off.JPG Left.JPG
     
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  2. commando1

    commando1 Mr. Normal FCBO Gold Member

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    And so it begins.
    Godspeed. :thumbsup:
     
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  3. Zymurgy

    Zymurgy Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    I will enjoy watching your progress. The chrome looks like it cleaned up pretty well.

    My 300 sat for 32 years, before I got a hold of it. I was surprised how well things cleaned up. First thing I did was completely redo brakes and fuel system, and chase down all the electrical gremlins too. :)
     
  4. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    Now for the questions. I have a few, one just became more pressing due to the wx.

    The damaged trunk lid has a bit of extra gap in it now, so I covered it with plastic this morning when the rain started. Decided to go out a while ago and see if there were any leaks inside the car from bad seals or such. Thought I might get in and watch those groovy wipers work. Opened the door and it was raining inside the car, just over the passenger front seat area. Seems the waterproof roof ain't so waterproof no mo'. Hauled out the trust blue tarp and covered it for now, but as I discovered previously, this is not a long term solution.

    Question #1: Where to get a waterproof cover to fit a Imperial 2 door coupe or convertible. Preferably something that will let inside or under car moisture out.

    Still with the trunk for a moment. I tried in vain to get it open Saturday using a small, flat pry bar to assist. In doing so, probably 3/4 of the large dented area popped back out (Bonus!) and looks much better. There's a little up and down play in the lid as well as some side-to-side wiggle room, but I can't get it to open. The PO opened it with the key as he was never aware of the push button in the(missing) glove box, which I assume is for remote opening of the trunk. There is voltage at the button and it shows continuity when closed, but nobody's home at the latch.

    Question #2: Without major drilling and blasting, what is the best way to get the trunk open? I'm guessing either it's jammed or the latch got scrambled from the considerable impact with the tree. Once it's open I can realign the latch as needed and test the actuator if there is one. There's also a set of fiberglass pieces for the parade boot sleeping in there which I'm itching to see.

    Lastly (for now) - Brakes. I had planned to drain the fluid and refill with new, but had given some thought to old rubber seals, lines, etc needing replacement too. The now-leaking rear wheel settled all that. With the good wife and daughter riding in and using the car, it needs to be safe. New wheel cylinders, hoses, lines if needed, and a rebuild kit for the master. Why? Because I'd like to get away from the single reservoir if possible, just not sure what will fit since it has the Auto Pilot cruise unit closeby.

    Question #3: Where should I buy replacement brake parts? Have seen a lot online. I don't want bargain basement Brand X from China to save a few dollars, but I also don't want to pay twice as much for an item from Seller A that Seller B offers for less, if that makes sense. I've seen Raybestos and other old name brands for sale cheap. It's been decades since I did a brake job though, and many old names have been bought up by foreign companies who sell shoddy replacements.

    The plan right now is the get the brakes and fuel system done. Have located a new tank and sender at Van's, pump has already been replaced. The brakes need a complete overhaul.

    After those two items are taken care of, the remainder of the fluids (oil, coolant, transmission, steering, differential) will all get changed out. That should get the old girl back on the road!
     
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  5. Len Z

    Len Z Member

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    How did you cleanup that mirror?
    Nice job!
     
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  6. bluefury361

    bluefury361 Old Man with a Hat

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    I'm getting excided for you now. Sounds like your on the right track so far, (start with the simple stuff), progress to the necessary stuff, (brakes, exhaust, tune up, hoses & belts).
    Bending and prying are the only ways I know to pop the trunk. Going to need body repair there anyways.

    You might want to check out Rock Auto. An on line parts supplier for all things mechanical. Easy to use menu, you select the level of part quality from name brands, one stop shopping, very reliable, & fast shipping. Great return or exchange program. Beats relying on the computer geek at the parts store these days.
    I'll be following along and will offer any help/advise I can.
     
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  7. 65sporty

    65sporty Old Man with a Hat

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    If you remove the rear seat is there enough room to sneak between the bracing to get into the trunk? It would be nice to be able to get a pair of eyes on the latch to see what it's doing.
     
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  8. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    Yeah, that's the way to do it.

    Even if you can't get in there all the way, get enough extensions on a socket and unbolt the latch.
     
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  9. Mr C

    Mr C Senior Member

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    I wish I had electrical system aptitude. My 68 has a few electrical gremlins...

    x3 pop the rear seat to access the trunk latch.
     
  10. Jim 68cuda

    Jim 68cuda Active Member

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    I agree, remove the rear seat. Since its a convertible, there will be a vinyl top well, but you can probably prop it up to see underneath. If the top motor is in the way to keep you from crawling back there, use several extensions on a socket wrench to reach the two bolts holding the latch in place, or make use of your custom all purpose #4 tight space tool operator (the 4 year old daughter) and send her back into the trunk with the socket wrench.

    For brake parts and mechanical parts, start with Napa (Napa brake parts seem to work well and are probably made by Raybestos). If Napa doesn't have what you need, try other shops that have Wagner brake parts. Shop on line for parts you can't get locally. If you order everything on line, the chances are high that you'll get parts that are defective or don't fit. Not that buying locally reduces those chances, but returns and exchanges are much easier.

    With a convertible with a leaking top or leaking window seals, you do want "water proof" not breathable for your weather protection. What I suggest is a small plastic tarp to just cover the roof (from cowl past to the area past the top well and from door handle to door handle). Then cover the whole car, including the tarp, with a breathable water resistant car cover that will allow moisture to evaporate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  11. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    I will certainly welcome any and all advice, hints, or 'wth were you thinking?' comments, as I'm sure I'll make mistakes along the way. Wouldn't learn anything otherwise.

    If I can figure out how to get the seat back out without tearing the boot or that vinyl piece Jim, I'll try the extension approach. There's a cross brace between the sides that hold the top motor, looks like a big X. Will need to procure more extentions though, as I have enough to cover maybe 4-5 inches. As always, thank you for the tips on parts, too. I bet you know a bit about the motor/pump, cylinders, and hoses for the top with all the convertibles you have.

    Len - I cleaned up the chrome with Windex and 4 aught steel wool. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Steel wool in common form(think Brillo pad) is very abrasive, but the higher grades like #0000 and #00000 are more for polishing. Still, they're not for everything and require care if used. Thinly-plated objects come to mind.

    Steel wool will leave behind residual steel bits like grit or dust as they break down in use. This can cause rust and other issues if not properly cleaned up. I usually wash well then spray or wipe with WD-40 or such.

    Though it looks and is a lot better, there are still small pits and other blemishes where the chrome was damaged by the pot metal beneath. But it's a lot cheaper than re-plating at this point for a car that is destined to be a driver.
     
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  12. Jim 68cuda

    Jim 68cuda Active Member

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    Don't know about the Imperial, but the convertible boot usually slides in to a metal track mounted on the seat back. When you remove the bottom of the back seat (usually by pushing down and back on the lower cushion on each side to release it from a couple of floor mounted hooks), there should then be a couple of nuts or screws visible below the seat back. With those removed, the set back (if its like most 60's Mopars) should lift up and off of hooks that hold the upper part of the seat in place. If the boot is attached to the seat back, it will come out with that upper part of the seat cushion. since the top well itself is just vinyl material, you should be able to lift it up out of the way. Just hope the trunk isn't full of stuff that will be in the way of removing the trunk latch.
     
  13. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    Took a look Jim, and you're right, of course. There's a metal channel right across the back of the seat that the boot is attached to. Hidden well from the top but visible from beneath.

    The seat back acts like it's already unhooked at the bottom since it seems to pivot when pushed or pulled. No doubt operator error on my part trying to remove it initially. The last mopar seat I removed was from the family '68 Coronet 4 dr probably late 70s-early 80s. I remember having to push down and back at the same time which sometimes took a few tries to get the bottom to pop free.

    Did go out yesterday evening to install some new bulbs but discovered the battery was dead as Caesar. Must've left something on as it was completely charged and holding a charge fine before.

    Things are still soggy out there from the rain so I probably won't get back to it until the weekend. Need to go find some long extensions for my ratchet set, too. Shouldn't be much in the trunk beyond the spare tire and parade boot pieces which are bagged up.
     
  14. Ripinator

    Ripinator Senior Member

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    Dayum! That mirror and antenna came out great!
     
  15. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    After taking the bottom of the seat out, you should see where the top part attaches at the floor. It might be screws or bent tabs... or they might be gone. The you lift straight up to unhook it. They are a little tight and easier to do with the top down. The boot will come with it and you'll see how to detach that if you need to.
     
  16. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    Maybe they put the bottom screws back in but didn't tighten them, which is why I can rock the seat back but not lift it up. As soon as I get some time I'll give it a try.

    I'm actually kind of surprised at the space inside, even with the top up. I'm 6'2" and can move around in there pretty well.

    Top currently doesn't work, though the pump runs. Seller mentioned a leak in a hose, so that's on the short list after brakes, fuel tank, and fluids.
     
  17. garyh

    garyh Active Member

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    Is that a Mass. inspection sticker on the right side of windshield ?
     
  18. Boomer

    Boomer Active Member

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    It is indeed, expired the last day of June 1986. Found a receipt from Meineke Muffler dated 8/2/86 in the door arm rest compartment. It went into storage sometime around then and came out this past spring/summer. Hence the 'awakening' process.

    Speaking of which, I made a little more progress today. The Weather Guessers said last night that the remnants of Hurricane Harvey would be arriving tonight through tomorrow and into Sunday, and knowing the roof needs to be covered, I opted to try my luck.

    Had to recharge the battery due to a new short somewhere. It's been on the Battery Tender a couple days now and was around 80%, so with new bulbs and flashers in hand, off I went.

    Plugged a bulb into the passenger door pull, on came the courtesy light. Tried one in the drivers side, no joy. Switch works as it activates the passenger side, so I'm guessing it's a ground issue due to having the handle off for repair. Could also be a bad pigtail.

    The map light must have been designed by someone with tiny fingers. I could barely get the blown 1004 bulb out and there was no way I was putting a 90 bulb in as a replacement. I suspect the larger glass envelope on the 1004 was selected for a reason: slightly more purchase when installing. I did push a 90 in temporarily and it lit with the courtesy lights, which is good.

    New 1891 bulb in dash, no joy. Haven't cleaned socket or checked wiring yet.

    On the the directional signals. Installed a replacement 224 flasher in the socket, turned the key to ACC, flipped up the lever and 'tink-tank tink-tank' away went the left signal. Got out and checked, both lights working. On the the right, same result except the green dash indicator ist kaput. I'll bet it's another blown bulb. But both outside lights work, a big plus on the road to passing state inspection.

    Hoping to get the back seat removed for an inspection of the trunk Sunday if wx permits. Hopefully I'll be able to reach a good distance into the trunk with a ratchet. Looks like the better part of 3 feet otherwise, that's a lot of extensions!

    Photos of progress attached. Also a shot of some dead limbs that fell nearby. Need to get it moved sooner than later. Door Light.JPG Map.JPG Left Signal Dash.JPG Left Signal Rear.JPG Left Sginal Frt.JPG Limbs.JPG
     
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  19. Mick

    Mick Member

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  20. Mick

    Mick Member

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    Great post. Good luck!
     
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