When I put the dash back together earlier this year, I did not have the radio ready to install. Since it requires quite a few parts of the dash to come out to install it, I just sort of slapped it together. Also, I wanted to swap out the "wood" trim that came with the car to the style that was in the '77-'78 Eldorado. I already had the door panels with the later trim installed so since I had to take so much of the dash apart, I could install the new trim at the same time as the radio install.
The main wood trim panel had to go in before the radio knobs can go in so I had to prep it for install. There is not a huge differences between the two parts but just enough that I had to make a hybrid of the two piece that I have. First thing that is different is that the map light mounts to the trim on the '74 piece and it mounts to a separate bracket inside the dash in the '77 part. The other difference is that the '74 part is painted black on the underside and the '77 part is not.
I decided that I was going to swap the '77 wood insert over on to the '74 chrome backer. The '74 backer was in better shape than the '77 piece anyway. The '77 insert has a crest, wreath, and a emblem that are pinned in place and stick all the way though the backer through molded in holes. There are no holes in the '74 piece.
I marked the locations of the pins, drilled clearance holes, and then glued the insert to the backer. The factory had used a combination of tiny staples, tiny nails, and tape to hold the inlay on, all of which I had to pull out before I could glue it.
After the glue set up, I was able to bolt it back in and install the radio knobs.
When I mounted the radio, I did not hook up the speakers. This radio uses an odd combination of 10 ohm speakers up front and chassis ground speakers in the rear. All of them were shot and had to be replaced. I replaced them with modern speakers and then ran a pair of line level speaker lines to an external bluetooth amp. Up front it has a pair of 3 1/2" speakers in the dash up at the windshield.
In the rear, It has a pair of 6x9s, rear facing and firing in to the top well. They are in a tight location and I tried but I could not get a set of normal 6x9 speakers to fit. What I ended up doing was getting a 6x9 to 6-1/2 adapter that mounted the 6-1/2 offset. This gave me the clearance I needed.
I ran all of the wiring back to the console and mounted the amp under the rear storage area which I promptly forgot to take any pics of. I had already run a power wire for the amp so it was just a matter of bolting it in and making the connection.
With the new trim mounted, I also replaced the old map light. It had cracked and just fell apart. The replacement did not have the proper blacked out section but that was as easy as painting it at the molded in line.
I was also having intermittent problems with the auto headlights. While I had things apart, I pulled the module and mound that one of the relays had corroded contacts.
Smoking was a big deal back then. There are four separate lighters and ashtrays in this car. Since this is a convertible, all of the armrest mounted ones were rusted, some to the point of being almost completely gone. The one on the front passenger door though was special. It and the ashtray were lighted. I started by pulling apart the entire lighter assembly and cleaning everything.
I had to sand blast the contact and the copper base before they would go back together.
The big difference between this lighter and the others is that there are notches in the side of the housing for the light bulb housing.
With the housing in its proper location, you can snap the bulb housing in.
There are two holes in the housing, one to light the lighter, and one to light up a window in the ashtray.
I cleaned up the contacts on the bulb and everything lights up like it should.
This is one of those "small projects" that I let spiral way out of control. I don't even remember what I was actually trying to do when I started this but the "might as wells" took over. I think I was going to just do some bodywork on the drivers side fender. To start out I took the fender off. I decided that I wanted to clean up the suspension so that led to me taking the inner fender off also.
I cleaned for a while and decided that all of these suspension parts would be much easier to clean if they were not attached to the car. I pulled the upper control arm, the knuckle, the complete half axle assembly, the brakes, the tie rod assembly, and the end link. The only thing I left was the lower control arm and that was mostly because I did not want to deal with the torsion spring. The frontend of this car is very similar to the front end of an '80s and '90s full sized 4x4 Chevy pickup.
When I pulled the knuckle, I found out that the low ball joint was going bad. It was the factory part so it was riveted in. You really should have the control arm off of the car to grind the rivets out but I managed.
When I first got the car, I did a little work on the front end just to make it safe to drive. One of the things that I replaced was the half axle (actually both of them). The outer boots were shot and they had sprayed grease everywhere. The axle itself though looked good and did not pop or click so I just put it (them) on a shelf. The replacement axles cost a grand total of $60 for a new axle. How good could a brand new $60 axle actually be? They certainly did not look as heavy duty as the OEM part so I decided that I would try my hand at rebuilding the outer CV joint and putting the OEM axle back on.
To start with, you have to remove the outer CV joint. It's held on with a snap ring.
Next you have to pop the balls out of the cage. To do so, you have to rotate the cage far enough to get the ball to pop up out of it's race.
Once you have all six of the balls out, you can pull the inner race and cage out of the housing.
And then, you can rotate the inner race and pop it out of the cage.
The wheel bearing had a little bit of a crunchy feel to it. It's not a sealed bearing like a modern FWD configuration but it's not exactly like a '70s style wheel bearing setup either. The bearings will slide out of the knuckles but the hub is pressed into the bearings.
There are seals on each end of the bore that have to come out.
With the bearings pressed off of the hub, I was able to clean them up and found a damaged outer race and several of the rollers were galled up.
I sanded it down (I won't do that again) and then painted it.
I got so much grease, dirt, and rocks out of the inside of the wheel that I had to get it rebalanced. The wheels on '70s luxury cars are supposed to have what are called "CAX" weights. They have not been made in a very long time so you have to horde them if you can find any. The difference between the CAX weights and the normal weights is that they are offset so the wheel covers can still pop on the wheel. If you use regular weights, the wheel covers will fly off when you are going down the road.
You may ask, why not use stick on weights? If you have not noticed by now, the Eldorado uses very odd positive offset wheels. That odd design does not work well with the stick on weights.
The whole car was undercoated with what appears to be melted down metallic gold crayons. In some places, it just flakes off if you look at it funny and in other places, a blow torch would not move it. It also looks like it was put on with a garden hose in places.
Even lacquer thinner did not do much more than clean it.
I finally settled on a combination of paint stripper and mineral spirits and even that took forever.
There was the smallest amount of surface rust on the end of the mounts.
After I finished the cleaning and sanded it, I primed it, concentrating in the places that will see the most wear.
I then painted it black and put it back on the car.
Next up was to paint the fender. I have been watching lots of videos on painting, body work and how to get super smooth panels. I decided that I wanted to hammer and dolly all the dents out and see just how good I could get the panel. I also wanted to try and skim coat the entire fender to get it really smooth. It seems that the passenger side was parked against a wall in the barn it was in and they walked by the drives side and banged shit on it every time they walked by. There were about 6 dents total on the passenger side and I counted 17 dents just in the drivers door. I started out by marking all the dents on the fender. Lots of shallow dents all over the panel and one big one near the edge.
I had also bought a stud puller so I could pull the deeper dents. It worked well and I had gotten the big deep dent by the edge mostly pulled.
And here is where things went to hell in a handbasket. This is fuck up number two. Things were going well with the dent repair. I had most of the small ones taken care of with either the stud puller or a hammer and dolly and all I had left were some big shallow dents just to the rear of the wheel well opening. The hammer and dolly were not doing much and the stud puller was not the right tool. I had been watching some videos on heat shrinking panels so I said "what the hell, lets give it a shot..." Bad idea. I heated a small area and BOMP!, it oil canned in about 1/2". I managed to shrink it back with a hammer and dolly but apparently, I had not learned my lesson and I promptly did it again. Long story short, I fucked up the fender to the point that I was not going to be able to fix it.
I chalked it up as a learning experience and managed to find another fender locally. It was not great but it was serviceable. It had rust on the bottom like my passenger fender did but rather than patching it up, I just cut the bottom off my newly fucked up fender and welded it on the replacement fender. It was a good choice as it was a bit more rusty in that area than at first glance.
The biggest mistake I made with my fender was not understanding the difference between a real dent and imperfections in the panel from the stamping process. I was trying to fix a stamping imperfection by stress relieving when there was no stress to relieve. This introduced stress into the panel and it spiraled out of control from there.