Mile Post 370

Mile Post 370
Mile Post 370

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Future Repairs, Preventative Maintenance and Modifications for The GEZROKET

I'm blessed with the GEZROKET, the 1996 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Elite II sedan that I bought from the estate of Mrs. E. Blaney.  I'm not rich monetarily, so this car isn't just a leisure hobby that I can take out and "play with" when the urge occurs.  Nope, this car is a Daily Driver.  Besides, what is the point of having a "museum piece" and never driving it?  If a car is new, the seals in the Engine, Transmission, Wheel Bearings, Air Conditioning, Master (brake) Cylinder, Wheel Cylinders, Rack & Pinion Steering Unit, Power Steering Pump and Power Brake Booster (not to mention the GM DexCool debacle, where the intake manifold gaskets fail, allowing coolant to cross pollute the lubricating oil), the seals will eventually leak.  The oils, fluids and grease keep the seals lubricated and swolen.  On a car with mileage, the seals are worn (some to near the point of leaking), so letting it sit is a recipe to create multiple fluid leaks under a car.  Things on a car eventually wear out or to the point of needing to be replaced.  That's no big deal.  Such is the life of a Daily Driver.

So here are the Repairs, Preventative Maintenance and Modifications that I'll be doing to the car:
  • Replace the coolant level and coolant temperature switches.  Repair and Preventative Maintenance.  While the Coolant Temperature Switch is still functioning, after replacing the coolant outlet tubes on the intake manifold (that run the "bypass coolant" into the heater core) and refilling the radiator with DexCool coolant, I started getting a "Low Coolant" message on the Message Center of the car.  Checking the Coolant Expansion Tank and the Radiator tanks, the coolant was at the factory preset level. plugged my U-Scan Bluetooth Receiver into the ALDL (Assembly Line Data Link - a port where the computer data for the Powertrain Control Module, Anti-Lock Brakes and Air Bag Safety System can be accessed from the CAN Bus, the Controller Area Network, the computer network in your car), turned the Bluetooth on and selected the Bluetooth U-Scan Receiver and opened the Application (Program) on my smart phone.  Selecting my car and the "Live Data" option, I could look at the data the PCM was receiving from the Coolant Temperature Sensor.  On a 95 degree (Fahrenheit) afternoon, cruising at a steady state 35 mph, the coolant showed a rock steady 189-190 degree (Fahrenheit) reading, proving that the flow of coolant to the sensor is steady and constant.  So I can only assume that the Coolant Level Sensor has failed.  I'll replace the Coolant Temperature Sensor at the same time, as I'll have to replace some coolant and the "bonnie scot" within me reminds me to be frugal and a Good Steward of my money, by adding new coolant only once.
  • Repair the torn Leather on the Driver's Seat and Door Panel.  Cosmetic Repair.  There's a company the school system uses to repair seats on their buses, Creative Colors International.  It's a mobile operation,.  The local operation is run out of a Chrysler Mini-van.  The work doesn't look bad.  The  color is very close.  They do both Leather and Vinyl Repair.  The technician gave me a quote of $150 to repair, redye and restore/recondition the seats and the driver's door panel.  He's also recommended "Perone Aerospace Leather Conditioner," which is approved by Boeing for their leather pilot's seating.  I'm going to "pull the trigger" on this sometime in November.  
  • Replace the damaged driver's side heated, electro-chromatic mirror with a standard heated mirror.  Repair.  R. Blaney, the son of the late owner of the GEZROKET, had already picked up another power, heated mirror, without the Electro-Chromatic Dimming Feature, to install on the car, before his Mom died.  He generously gave me the mirror, when I purchased the car from his mother's estate.  All I have to do is to open the door panel, unhook the electronics to the power mirror, remove the old mirror, replace the mirror and plug in the power harness for the mirror motors and heat, test the mirror for operation and reinstall the door panel.
  • Have the Ignition Keylock serviced.  Preventative Maintenance, assuming I get to it before it fails.  The car is now 20 model years old and my keys are numerous, causing excessive torque on the lower teeth of the lock mechanism of the Saginaw steering column.  The mass of the keys tends to be too great, where the keylock will fail over time.  This will need to be done by a locksmith.
  • Upgrade the factory headlights with a Daniel Stern Light kit that includes a new wiring harness, and relays to get maximum electrical power to upgraded lights in new factory lenses (which will increase the light by about 80%).  Upgrade Modification.  Daniel Stern offers custom made wiring harnesses or will sell you the materials and instructions to let you build it your self.  I'm O.K. on working with electricity, just not 100% confident in my ability.  However, a friend, who is a Mechanical Engineer and very confident in his Electrical Abilities has convinced me to give it a go (I hope that He'll double check my work, before I decide to plug the harness into the current lighting harness).  So purchasing the kit and building the Lighting Harness is going to happen in the near future. 
  • Replace the seal on the sun roof (as the rubber is original, cracked and tearing) and repair the headliner (to repair water damage, due to the failing sunroof seal and previously stopped up sunroof drain).  Repair and Restoration.  I have to find someone who can replace the Sunroof seal, adjust the Sunroof and repair the headliner (the guys who I wanted at a well known local Upholstery shop claim they're too old and just F___around the shop - to which I claimed that I too, was becoming and old F___er and I wanted older guys who knew what they were doing to repair/restore the car - without success)
  • Replace/Repair the Exhaust.  Preventative Maintenance.  The Exhaust system seems to be hanging down just slightly under the car, to a point where it's noticeable when looking at the car from the rear.  However, when I've the car up on ramps to change the oil, everything looks O.K..  So, it's time to have the exhaust system reworked.  I want something that will reduce the exhaust back pressure.  An upgraded (larger diameter) but quiet exhaust system will relieve the back pressure will allow the engine to make better torque and get better fuel economy.  However, I need to find a balance here that will give the car a "slight exhaust note," without making the car obnoxiously loud and miserable to take a long trip in it. The factory "sport tone exhaust might be the best option.
  • Install light window tint on the side windows (and maybe the rear window) to help to protect the Leather Interior and better allow me to see the digital instrumentation during times of high glare.  Upgrade Modification.
  • Then I'll add the FE-3 Suspension (mainly springs, but also apparently a different front anti-sway-bar) and then assess whether it's worth the time and money to purchase and install an aftermarket Rear Anti-Sway Bar. ADDCO makes an aftermarket 7/8" rear anti-sway bar.  Upgrade Modification.
  • Sound System Upgrade Modification.  My current radio is a Stock GM head unit with AM-FM-Stereo-CD and Cassette Tape.  It is the forerunner to what would later be called Concert Stereo Sound.  It's a great system and the sound doesn't distort when played at high volume.  I may upgrade it in the future with a new Double DIN car audio head unit with AM-FM, Stereo, HD Radio, CD, USB INPUT, as I would like to try HD Radio.  However, with steering wheel audio controls, this might become a project that I don't want to do.  
  • Finally, I'd like some more power for this large car.  Upgrade Modification. The logical choice is a Supercharged GM 3800 Series II V-6 and 4T-65-E HD Transaxle, as other large GM "C-Bodies" (Buick Park Avenue Ultra) cars used this drive train combination.  It should be a simple swap, grab the engine, tran-saxle, wiring harness, radiator, and PCM from a donor (wrecked) car and install it.  However, when electronics are swapped in any car, things are never simple.  Sometimes (as is the case with the GEZROKET), the better transxle, GM RPO Code MN7, a 4T-65E-HD that will reliably handle the 280 lb.-ft. of torque that the Blower Buick 3800, is different from the transaxle in the GEZROKET, a 4T-60E, which uses engine vacuum to modulate the "Lock-Up" of the Torque Converter Clutch.  This is all controlled by the Powertrain Control Module with the 4T-56E and 4T-65E-HD transaxle variants.  I would rather have the LS-4 V-8 engine that was available in the "W-Body" cars (Chevrolet Impala SS, Monte Carlo SS, and Buick Lucerne Special Super).  The LS-4 V-8 engine was never available for the big C-Body.  The only V-8 that was available in this chassis was the Cadillac North Star, available in the, Pontiac Gran Prix GXP.  Complex and troublesome in the earlier Cadillac Sedan deVille's, it wasn't noted to be that reliable.  So I'd be blazing new trails with this Powertrain swap.  I'm keeping my options open and that LS-4 V-8 dream alive (it is lighter than the normally aspirated Series II 3800 V-6 and should get equivalent highway cruise economy when the Active Fuel Management cuts 4 cylinders off! and being lighter, it should promote better handling for this large car.)

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