CUTLASS '87 Cutlass Salon

Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
Bit more work done over the past week. Really still in the teardown phase and also seeing what I ended up with on the two parts cars.

The grey one is a 94. Pretty much a base model. Manual everything, no A/C. Looks like it was hit on the drivers side a bit. It's completely rotted. The frame is completely gone from the rear spring perch back. Trunk is virtually non-existent. The doors aren't great, but not terrible. Mine are in better shape. But the interesting thing for me is that since it's a base model, it doesn't have the wide chrome trim at the top near the scraper. I'm not a huge fan of chrome, so I'm considering trying to use them. the back seat is is good shape, but no front seats. I was thinking that this one might actually have had a 350 put in it, but after checking the casting numbers on the block, it's definitely a 305. I also tried to turn it over with a breaker bar and it's locked up solid. Other than the front header panel, the filler panel between the trunk and the rear window and a few trim pieces hear and there, there's not much here. I'll probably strip this one for a few parts fairly quick and scrap the rest. This thing was full of beer bottles and cans and a few other odds and ends...including an empty bottle of livestock penicillin! Given how long this thing has been sitting it that might come in handy. Based on the paperwork in the car, it's hasn't been on the road since around 2001. And based on some of the special edition cans, it's been accumulating junk since 2003. Good thing is there probably weren't too many mice in this one. Not with the number of shed snake skins I found in it

Special Edition can from 2004 Grey Cup (Canadian Superbowl), Special Edition can from 2003 Rugby World Cup, Livestock penicillin bottle and snake skin found among the bottles (one of many)
PXL_20201129_160029010-COLLAGE.jpg


The two tone blue one is an '85. No engine or trans. Seats are in pretty good shape though, better than mine. But it's a bench seat so...not too interesting to me. Fair bit of rust on the floor and rockers, rear quarter panel and various other places. I was thinking it might be better to restore this body rather than mine, but I honestly think it's a wash. Similar amounts of work it seems. I'll cut out good sections from this one where I can and weld it into mine. Pretty much going to have to build new floors regardless of which way I go. This one was had a bunch of speed parts installed in it and an air lift suspension (at least according to all the stickers on it) Previous owner pulled the engine and trans though. This was full of various stuff. A/C pieces, oil pan full of pushrods, oil pump, bolts galore, wiring harness etc. Mostly junk. There is an older radio receiver from the 50's which is kind of interesting. But this one is going to be my spare trim, bolts, visual reference for awhile.

Trunk (or lack thereof in the '84, Various parts in the '85, lower drivers door and rockers on the '85, bottles in the '84

PXL_20201123_212343383-COLLAGE.jpg


All in all, for $400, I think it was worth it just for the header panel and trim bits for converting mine from vinyl top to hardtop. Plus there's some good sheet metal in spots to fix the bad areas one mine. I'll return the seized 305 to the junk yard and get my $100 core charge back on the 5.3L. And in the end I'll get maybe a couple hundred bucks back for scrap value. Maybe a bit more if I wait a while. Scrap prices around here are terrible right now. $65 (Canadian) per metric tonne. So you might get $100 buck for each complete G-body, Less when you're missing a several hundred pounds of drivetrain.

Other than than, I did some work getting more of the exterior trim off my '87. Got the trunk lid off and pulled the main part of the dash off. SO overall, not a lot of progress this week on the main one. Still want to finish completely stripping the interior before I start cutting out the old section of floor and fabbing up replacement panels and patches.

PXL_20201129_005648488.jpg
 

Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
Bit more progress on the tear down.

Dash is completely out. Also got the rear bumper and related items off so was able to pull all the wiring out of the interior. This pretty much finished interior teardown. Also removed the opera windows.

PXL_20201201_235604849.jpg


Decided I wanted to get an idea of what I'm dealing with on the rear quarter area where you could see cracking body filler. Also in cleaning out the trunk etc, you could see someone had screwed in a patch panel in the left side close to the wheel well. So I was curious as to just what I was dealing with in this area. After stripping the paint, I am getting a better idea of the history of this car.

Right over the wheel opening it's just STUFFED with body filler. You can also see someone had welded in a patch panel there as well but the wheel well has completely rusted through again on the forward section of the repaired area.

20201203_194043.jpg


The C-pillar area was showing quite a bit of rust in the area where it transitions to the trunk. While stripping you could see there was a lip there. exposing it to bare sheet metal, you can see the gold line was exposed. Following that it flows over the rear quarter into the trunk area, and then follows up the C-pillar and then goes forward maybe about an inch below the factory roof seam. There's another line on the B-pillar near the bottom of the window.

20201203_194033.jpg



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All in all, looks like this thing had a rear quarter replacement at some point in its life. But the panels were brazed on instead of welded. Some of the rust issues seem to be as a results of that repair. But the rust over the wheel opening (and in the trunk, I suspect are unrelated to this replacement. Given the deeper rust areas in the section and onto the roof, I'm going to cut out what I can from one of the parts cars and weld it into place.

couple other problem spots seem to be the base of the A-pillars. While it's rusted and heavily pitted, it still solid in that area. I think all I'll be able to do there is get as much loose rust out of there get as much epoxy in there as I can and then use cavity wax.

Finally, in starting to cut out section of the floors, the body mount area in the drivers' footwell needs some rebuilding as well.

Definitely turning out to be more work than I originally expected, but I can't say I'm surprised. I was thinking to build a simple rotisserie to ease the body work, but I'm going to have to get the body mounts sorted first before I can consider that.
 
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Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
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Ottawa, Canada
Been over 6 months since I updated this and unfortunately, just not that much to report.

I had planned on taking several weeks off over Christmas in order to get a bunch of work done. Then the wife decides, "Well, since you've got all this time off, why don't we renovate the upstairs bathroom?" :cautious::cautious::cautious: Which of course took way more time than expected blah blah blah.

All in all though, that was good investment because while she got her bathroom, I finally get to build my garage, which I've been wanting for way too long. Not too bad of a trade. I think she also realized that with my Cutlass semi-permanently in the garage now, she no longer has a place to park her car. :LOL:

So I've been spending a bunch of time planning that, estimate building costs for stick frame vs steel etc., choosing a vendor, building permits etc. Even though I'm in a rural area surrounded by forests and cornfields, I am still within the boundaries of the city. And in their wisdom, the city decided that they wanted a drainage plan to make sure I wasn't going to flood the adjacent forest with my garage :wtf:.

Anyway, I've got my permit finally, just waiting on my foundation guys to give me a start date. Went with a steel building, 30 x 40 x 10. Center of the building will be tall enough for a 2 post lift. Building is being delivered July 12th and hopefully the foundation will be in by then.

So after doing all that, plus the regular spring time maintenance and stuff etc. I did get some time to work on a few things Cutlass related. Oh, and we got a new puppy....that's not any extra work at all....

One of the things with getting the new garage, is I'm having to move a 10 x 20 temporary carport where I've kept my tractor and some car parts, including the 305 and trans I pulled from the Cutlass as well as the 5.3LS I had picked up before Christmas. So that stuff needed to get out of there.

Given that the 305 had some headers on it, and some 'nice' blue spark plug wires, I figured I'd make sure nothing else was done to it before sending it off as a core charge. checked the casting numbers on the block and talking to a few locals, turns out the 305 may be roller cam engine - possibly worth a bit more than scrap value. Also wanted to pull the rocker covers off to check the casting numbers on the heads etc.

Given the engine had likely caught on fire and looked like this:
u6oYRWhW8M--XoystDWX89ujJLQ8Cd6eSm63FmW31ghi7WJCI8oMv6e6cI7br-eXJgTL5h3JsAvtFJVi9tXhP8q37S-7AXQ4NE0tW3AuwAicDvJVzTNmLiPqOFKERx5gxfJuJ01SyQY=w2400


The heads look pretty good, no sludge or build up:
sG8XtzEFs_FU7qVPpoAfh5ienYcQPWZZzym_bkbYmzqlafc556kjX2oWDTj4uVHFSNjlePk53XqM90oxwRWiKlvumB4ncHmNZKzDAHI2lWR4_sdBMna5rSlXjvMBkh5Cr0EoM86Dzbo=w2400


Couple of people seemed interested if it was a roller cam engine, but after a bit more tear down, the block is machined for a roller cam, but it's definitely flat tappet (no pics). I've got someone interested in buying the heads, but other than that, the rest of it going for scrap soon enough.

And then with the 5.3L, figured I might as well get it on a stand rather than just sitting on a pallet. And being it's a junkyard LS, figured I might as well take a closer look at it. Before I pulled I did check it to see if it turned over and it rotated fairly easily. Original plan was to just clean it up, put in a cam, tune, and that's about it. When I want more power, I could look at heads intake etc at that point. I stripped the accessories off, and dropped the pan. Was not happy with what I saw. There were a couple sizable pieces of metal in there. Couple thin bits maybe 3mm x 3mm or so. Definitely looked like bearing material.

Given that, figured I better check out it out a bit further. Pulled the mains and the rod bearing off. Bearings themselves are not good at all. Here's a couple of the main bearings:

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Few of the rod bearings are in similar condition.

Crank doesn;t look too bad though. Need to put a mic on the journals to see if it's within spec. It feels smooth, nothing you can catch a finger nail on.

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Not great, but I still didn't find anything that would account for the pieces I saw in the oil pan. Next guess is the cam bearings but I haven't been able to cam the cam retainer plate off. One of the bolt is seized and broke my t-40 impact bit. Probably going to have to weld a nut on to it in order to get it out, but I get a feeling there's going to be some ugliness there in there.

I did decide to pull the heads off too. Cylinder walls and pistons seem fine. Lots of carbon build up.

I guess LS swaps ARE corny:

20210623_180650.jpg



Definitely not what I was hoping for for an LS Swap. I was hoping to get something with a decent bottom end that I could just clean up a bit and send it. But I'm sure glad I checked out more thoroughly. I should have dropped the pan in the junk yard.

At this point I'm not sure it's worth even putting more money into this one vs. going and grabbing a different one. Looks to be at least $600 for new seals and bearings. And if that crank needs to be machined well....

Anyway, you got to pay to play right? Not going to stress out over it for the time being. I'm a long way off from putting an engine in and getting it running. Need to get my garage built and then hopefully can spend some time on getting the shell itself into a non-Flintstone like state.

Check back in 6 months for another update ;)
 
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Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
It's been forever since I really did much work on this. Over a year since I actually touched the car itself. too much other stuff just got in the way. Bathroom renos and I decided to build a separate garage which I have been dreaming of for years. And that took took up most of the summer and fall. Yeah, I could have done some work on it in the meantime, but I as also thinking to myself, "hey, I'll have a garage soon, so why not wait until I have more space?" Quite a bit of the garage build is documented over in the the "What did you do to your shop today?" thread. It's not completely finished, but I did decide to get out and do some stuff on it.

Put it up on the lift to get a much clearer view of the bottom of it. It was as bad as I remembered. didn't get pictures of that stuff, but pulled out the exhaust, driveshaft, dropped the fuel tank and got a real good look at the frame. Frame is actually is surprisingly good shape given the condition of the rest of the body. I don't think it needs much more than a good cleaning and a coat of POR-15 or something.

The whole back drivers side quarter area is rusted really bad. The quarter is as shown above in previous posts, and the rust extends well into the trunk area. I did find a lower rear quarter available on this side of the border for a pretty reasonable price $300CAD including taxes and shipping. So ordered that and well see if I bother to get replacement panels for the driver's side trunk area and/or floor pans. this is meant to be a driver, not a factory restored original. Fabbing up floor and trunk pans is much cheaper than replacement panels. Whereas as a large exterior body panel for a few hundred is a pretty good investment IMO. But we'll see how it goes.

I also started looking at the rear seat area on the drivers' side to try and come up with a plan. There was still another piece of galvanized sheet metal in there. The below is the kind of quality workmanship that went into this thing. A piece of galavnized sheet metal, what looks like fibreglass drywall tape and silicon. All good body shops get all their supplies from Home Depot right?

20220222_180231 (Large).jpg


And these are the sins that piece was hiding. Area is completely rotted out. Seatbelt mounting was barely holding on there. Body mount there is placebo at best. Part of the inner rocker needs to be replaced, but as you move forward it seems solid enough. But this whole area in the back seat needs to be made. I've never seen replacement panel for under the rear seat. And all the replacement floor pans I've seen don't quite come all the way up and weld directly to the inner rocker.

20220222_180222 (Large).jpg


So decide to try my had at making a piece to repair that area to start. Had 'invested' (or at least that's what I told my wife) in some metal forming stuff last year. Bead Roller, shrinker\stretcher in anticipation of doing this kind of stuff. Other than playing a bit with some scrap pieces I've never really used this kind of stuff before. But I figure might as well practice on piece that will never be seen.

Uses a bit of craft type paper to sketch out the corner. Basically needed to make a kind of U channel. There's a return on the rocker panel side for attaching to the inner rocker panel. And then another return on the other side into the rear passenger footwell area. Transferred my sketch to a piece of 20 gauge. Straight line alone the one side if the return for the rocker, Curved line is the profile in the corner.

20220222_182953 (Large).jpg


A sheetmetal brake would have been perfect and quick for doing the return. But that is not something I have - but do definitely want. Therefore, ended up using a tipping die with a poly urethane wheel on the bead roller to get the bend started. got it to a bit more than 45 degrees. Not exactly straight, but neither is the rest of the car. It's a manual bead roller, so it's a bit of a challenges to crank with one hand and guide the piece with the other.

20220222_191314 (Large).jpg


Had to bend the rest of that return flange over with just a hammer on the edge of the work bench. The curve on the other side made the process a bit more difficult. The return to the footwell area isn't quite as sharp of a bend so rather than using the tipping die, I just used the upper die for a bead along with the urethane wheel to give it a bit softer of a radius. The curve complicates it in that you can only bend it over so far before it starts to distort the panel. I used the stretcher along the flange in the curve to get the distortion out and then continued to bend the flange over with a hammer. Took a bit of back and forth between the hammer and the stretcher to get it bent over enough and to get the profile.

Final product comparing to the rusted out piece that I cut out of that corner. Might have to get it over a bit more in the corner, but it's not super critical to me. So much has to be replaced in that area that I'm not necessarily trying to match to existing contours everywhere.

20220222_194648 (Large).jpg


I won't say this is the final product. It'll need a bit of tuning, but certainly good enough to use as a reference to start building other pieces that need to hang off it. And for determining how much other stuff needs to be cut out and remade in order to have solid steel to weld to.

20220222_194851 (Large).jpg


And finally, piece set in place as a test fit. Not perfect yet, but gives me a starting point for the rest of that footwell area.

20220222_194722 (Large).jpg



So not a ton of stuff, but feels good to actually do something on it. It's going to take quite some time to get this back on the road, but hopefully I can keep on it and start making some regular progress.
 
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Rktpwrd

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Feb 2, 2015
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Nice work, nothing to be ashamed of there. We all have to start somewhere, and you’ve done the hardest thing, taking the first step. Your skills will progress as you become more comfortable with it and your confidence increases. Stay with it, each small milestone achieved are great morale boosters.
 
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Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
I feel like this is turning into the slowest build in history. Everything seems to take priority over getting some work done on my car. Summer outdoor projects, parties, BBQs, work travel, projects for the wife, vacation, I've got a friend building a cottage...it just never ends.

And now since I have the garage with the lift, it's amazing how many friends I have :D

But I have been able to make some minor progress on it lately. It's getting dark early, so now I can use the excuse that it's too dark for yard work so I might as well work in the garage.

Still mostly peeling back layers so that I can start with some decent metal to start building back up. I've bought replacement floor pans, a rear drivers' quarter panel and some of the trunk panel pieces. Right now trying to get to a point where I can maybe start thinking about considering putting the floor in. I've got the two piece floor pans, so right now focusing on the drivers' side. Pulled everything off to the inner rockers, including the front body mount. You can see that there's going to need to be some work done on the frame side mount holes as well.

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Front Drivers' body mount - or what's left of it.
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Most of inner rockers weren't too bad, but pretty heavily pitted. Decided to pull that off too. Frankly it's a fairly simple piece to remake and I wanted to make sure the inside of the outer rockers weren't all rusted out too.

Inside of the outer rocker is probably 8/10 Some minor pitting, but it cleaned up fairly well. Got some rust converter in there and will top coat it. But should be able to build the inner rocker and get that put back in there. Challenge is going to be the front body mounts (#2) and the reinforced section where the body mount #3 and the seat belt bolts up. The section of that piece where the body mount is and the seat belt mount isn't that bad. But where it extends along the sill towards the front and back is pretty rotted.

1666709560690.png
 
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Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
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Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
Did get a bit more done on it. Made up the inner rocker for the drivers side. My bead rolling for the bottom flange isn't perfectly straight, but it'll do.

1667221401172.png


Also managed to strip the passenger side down to the inner rocker. It's in better shape, cleaned up fairly well. Solid enough that I don't feel like it's justified in ripping it out and replacing it.

1667221537713.png


I did find a '78 Cutlass Cruiser in the local U Pull yard about 10 minutes from my place. Went over on Thursday to check it out. The floors are in surprisingly good shape. Not perfect though. Actually a shame it ended up at the wreckers, it's probably in better shape than what I started with. I went after work and did manage to get the rear cross member that goes under the rear seats and the sills and side parts of the floor are in pretty decent shape. But didn;t have enough time or battery in the sawzall to finish getting it out. goign back today to try and get the rest of what I need.
 

Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
Thread starter
Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
Went back to the junkyard this morning to grab the pieces I needed. This is the photo when it first went into the yard. By the time I got to the front clip was already gone along with some of the interior bits.

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And by the time I was done with it....

Again, seems like a shame to cut it up. But it gave its life so another may live. And frankly, once it's in the yard, it's getting crushed anyway

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My haul ready to go to a its new home. You can see the area below the A-pillar where it meets the rocker isn't great, but the rest of it is in pretty good shape. Only real rust on the floor was in the passenger footwell.

1667232027309.png


Also managed to pick up this header panel over the weekend. I had one, but not in great shape. And definitely didn't have a full set of grills. It's got a few blemishes - but probably 8/10 overall. Thought it was a good deal at $220CAD

1667231806956.png
 
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Hurricane77

Greasemonkey
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Nov 11, 2020
192
63
Ottawa, Canada
Been a few weeks, but still at it. Actually feel like I'm making some progress, but there's still quite a bit to do. Still have a whole bunch of other things around the house that need doing, but just trying to get some work done on the car here and there to save my sanity so that I don't feel like it's a waste of space/time/money.

I would really like to get the floors in it, so I've been trying to focus on the periphery stuff in order to get those back in.

Been working on stripping down the driver's sill piece that I pulled from the junk yard. It's not perfect, but it's in far better shape than what I pulled out of my car. It has rusted right through just ahead of the one body mount position right beside the drivers' seat. The brace for the body mount looks fine. Cut out the bad piece, cleaned up what I could on the inside of the brace and put some rust converter in there. I've since made up the replacement patch and welded it in. Was really struggling with my welds until I realized that I still had the 0.035 flux cure wire in there. Some guys can butt weld 20 ga with that, not me. This part required another small patch towards the rear of the piece and you can see on the left where I was a bit over zealous with the sawzall. At this point, this piece still needs to be stripped down and primed before it gets welded in.

1669301997404.png


This is the passenger side piece of the same. Still in the process of stripping it down to to just the sill portion. But same problem in the same area. This side is a bit worse than the driver's side. But again, still better than what was in the car to begin with.

1669302402401.png


Bad out of focus picture of where the floor meets the firewall. This had rusted out pretty bad too maybe a couple inches up from that seam. Mostly on the passenger side. So when I cut the sill out at the junk yard, I grabbed this part as well. I've marked where to cut out the old rusted stuff

1669302565423.png


And the new (old) piece welded in.

1669302631425.png


Also managed to strip and primer the inner and outer rockers. Not so much that i needed to do that yet, but I wanted to prime a few pieces before welding them in and had mixed up way more primer than I needed. I wanted to prime before welding so that there's protection inside the seams where stuff is spot welded together. I don;t feel like weld through primer would do that great of a job to prevent rust long term. You do have to clean off the primer in the spots you want to spot weld, but overall the epoxy primer does hold up pretty well while welding.

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Also got some of the smaller bits and pieces for the seat mounts etc primered as well. Again, not urgent, more just trying to use up the rest of the primer that I had mixed up.

1669303106028.png


There's still lots to do:
- Finish stripping and repairs passenger sill
- Clean and prime both sills prior to welding those is.
- there's a bit of remedial cleaning and repairing and priming right at the front of the main body where the body mounts will get attached
- Floor get welded in along with seat mounts and inside cross member
- repair and replace rear outer cross member
- Some remedial repair work on the floor in the rear sear area along with pretty much the whole drivers' rear wheel housing and lower quarter panel.
- Trunk floor repair including body mounts
- rust repair around the base of the A-pillars. Mostly the sheet metal. The thick structural plates appear to be in good condition.
- There's some rust perforations along the top of the windshield
- replace the drivers upper quarter panel around the rear window
- replace the rear drivers part of the roof where the landau top was

And then there's all the rest of the frame and mechanical stuff....
 

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