Sunday, September 30, 2007

Learning is expensive

I wound up ordering a new Horn Relay and Turn Signal Switches. These set me back close to $200. I thought I had debugged these issues however after plugging both new parts in, neither the horn nor the flashers worked with these new parts.

After making no progress, I went back to my Hayne's Electrical Manual, and I discovered that instead of applying power to the switch terminal, I should have been grounding it. This was expensive, as I believe my original Horn Relay is probably functioning well. (I saved it and might sell on eBay at some point.) At any rate, the Horn Relay Switch has 4 terminals.

RH-Back -- Horn Switch (activates when grounded)
RH- Front -- Horn
Middle -- Power (12-volts)
LH -- Buzzer Switch

The wire running to the Horn Relay power terminal had no power, and I discovered that this wire, while bundled in the wire bundles running up to the distributor, it was cut and basically didn't run anywhere. On the wiring diagram, this wire should run to the voltage regulator -- which I discovered was missing! When inquiring on the Pontiac forums, I have learned that the alternator that was installed by the previous owner actually has an internal voltage regulator built-in; which probably why the external one that is standard equipment on this car was removed. I rewired this switch to the alternator, reconnected the wire running along the Driver's side fender well to the RH-Front switch (it was dangling) -- and when I grounded the back switch, the horn blared!

Finishing the job of the horn, I had to buy a non-standard cancel cam that has a cut out for a horn peg. This slot in the cancel cam was not actually part of the original equipment, but was actually needed by the horn switch of the steering wheel I bought off of eBay. Seems like that hardware was at least a '69 or maybe even as last as a '70. Anyway, the horn now works from all 3 buttons on the steering wheel. Another part I'll probably put up on eBay one of these days.

The new turn signal switch didn't clear up my flasher problem either. Both the right and left directionals work, but the flashers do not. I was able to get a "flasher" behavior by completing the circuits that I thought should be completed, and this made me think, ok the flasher switch which is integrated with the turn signals. Got the new switch and wired it in, and nothing. Same problem. I went back to the books and everything pointed to the flasher switch. I've already replaced it -- well, at least with a part I got from the previous owner. I bought a new switch and nothing. I had already verified the fuse was good visually, and so I pulled the fuse thinking this has got to be the problem. I tested the fuse with a test-light and the fuse was just fine. Then I tested the fuse box... and that slot in the fuse box seems to be bad. I'm a little confused why a separate fuse is required for flashers, when both sides of the directionals are functional. At any rate, I'm thinking the only difference I can think of is that the directionals only work when the key is turned on, whereas the flashers generally work without a key. Anyway, dead slot in the fuse box, and I have lead going forward.

Fixing the parking brake turned out to be fairly painless. I loosened up the brake line fastener to give the line alot of slack. I added the hanger; one of the parts that came with the car, and the line actually was fairly taut before I got after the fastener. A few turns and the line was fairly taut. Inside a few clicks and the emergency brakes were on.

I tried to bleed the lines, using a one-man's brake bleeding kit. The kit came with hoses that are supposed to fit onto the bleeding screws on the back of the wheel cylinders. The front bleeding screws were too big, and I had to stretch the hoses to get them on. I bled each front, and then each back -- the back screws fit great. I made sure that the master cylinder reservoir did not get more than 2/3's empty and I refilled it after each wheel. The brakes are still spongy and I'm not sure, but I think the fronts didn't go so well. That's stretched hose might have let air back into the lines. I don't know.

Anyway, so 3 remaining issues for inspection. I need to finish the backup lights, get the brakes back in order, and finish debugging the flashers.

All in all a bit of progress this weekend, but I really had hoped to get it further along.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Exhaust

After reviewing my options, and taking the car to a local mechanic, I opted to have a custom dual exhaust installed. Because the car has a Chevy 350 and Hedman Headers, any solution I came up with was going to involve some custom pipe work. After crawling under the car and looking at the condition of the existing exhaust pipes, I decided to replace the whole lot from the headers back.

In researching local businesses, there just aren't that many shops that do custom exhaust -- but I did find C's Auto Custom Exhaust here in Poughkeepsie. I had originally wanted Flowmaster 50s; and was all set to have them installed using "409" pipe, which has a blend of stainless steel for longer life. Apparently though, the Flowmasters were back ordered, so they offered me Magnaflo Stainless Steel mufflers at the same price.

It does sound nice... real nice low rumble taking off and very quiet and smooth at speed. On the short drive home though, I developed a bit of a rattle that is definitely exhaust related... I didn't have any time this evening to crawl under there and see if I can see what is rattling -- anyway, I might have to take the car back to get the rattle tightened down.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One of the aspects of owning an old car is the incredibly strong feelings one has when you do something stupid to it. I was pulling it out of the garage and no other excuse, just didn't get it clear before I started turning it to spin it around.


In the meantime, I've been searching for an exhaust shop that can do custom exhaust in the area -- you'd think this would not be difficult. When I was younger, it seemed like everybody had some form of custom exhaust. From the research I've done, I 'd like to replace the glass-packs with FlowMaster 50 mufflers. Since it is a convertible, I do not want to have reverb (a problem apparently with the FlowMaster 40s) and I do not want to have the loudness of a glass-pack -- although they do sound cool, its just too loud -- well especially since one of them is rotted through.

I have taken pictures of the rear-end for the experts on the Performance Year's forum to verify it is the heavy-duty rear-end. I did find a cast "N" on the snout side, which would make my day.