Applicable to All Vehicles

* Replace Your Fuel Lines
* Quick Year Identification

* Alternator Conversion
* Points to HEI Conversion
* Spark Plugs to Use with HEI

* Blower Motor Diagnosis and Repair
* Clock Repair
* Electrical Problem Checklist
* Generator Diagnosis and Repair
* Radios, Speakers, Impedance
* Stock Looking Radio, Speaker Upgrades
* Theft Deterrent
* Wiper Motor Repair

* Cleaning
* Removing Calcium Deposits From Paint
* Removing Cylinder/Head/Piston Carbon Buildup
* Removing Paint Overspray

* Prepping a Car for Storage
* Prepping a Car for Long Term Storage
* Road Trip Home
* Starting a Stored Vehicle

* Differences Between A/C and non A/C Cars
* Radiator Upgrading

* Factory Service Tools
* Online Repair Manual For All Models
* Parts Cleaner
* Putting Out a Carb Fire
* So You Want To Buy That Car
* Importing a Car to Canada
* Classic / Vintage Car Insurance

Submit corrections and additions to this information to The Olds FAQ Compiler.

Replace Your Fuel Lines

Here in Santa Barbara, CA. we're sold oxygenated fuels beginning Feb. 96. My eleven year old Nissan Maxima caught fire while I was driving. Fuel was obviously involved. My son and I just managed to escape. The fire totally consumed the car in minutes. Even the door handles melted. When I found a place to get off the road and attempted to stop I discovered that we had no brakes. The plastic brake fluid reservior had probably melted away by then. I suspect the flexible fuel lines gave up.

Do replace those lines as appropriate.


Many areas of the country are now requiring seasonal or year-round use of "oxygenated" gasoline.

This is gasoline that has been adulterated with Ethanol, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE), or Tertiary Amyl Methyl Ether (TAME).

The stated purpose is to reduce air pollution, but whether or not in fact these fuels do reduce net pollution is under debate. The crucial thing is that these fuels can have adverse effects on the fuel systems of older cars. Here is the information you need to proof your older-model car against the new fuel formulations:

Some elastomers (types of rubberlike material) are fine with oxygenated fuel, some are not. Nitrile does actually have some problems with some kinds of oxy fuels. Silicone is OK with it. Viton is usually OK in it, but some kinds (usually ethanol as opposed to one of the ethers, MTBE, TAME, or ETBE) will soften viton, which causes wonky starting and running because the tip of carburetor inlet needles is. . .viton.

The crucial thing in terms of fire danger is, of course, degradation of flexible fuel lines.

My experience (as someone who's in the state that originated oxy fuels 10 years ago is that the old type flex line, carb-rated, and stamped SAE 30R7, gets soft and gummy and/or hard and brittle in oxy fuels, and that the nylon fuel filters sold by various companies can craze and get sticky/soft in it.

Solutions to These Problems

  1. Replace the flex line in your fuel system - ALL of it - with EFI (Fuel Injection) hose, stamped SAE 30R9. This stuff is good to 900 psi and resists EVERYTHING. Although EFI line should, by now, be available in most reasonably-well-stocked auto parts stores, there are still some clueless counter staffers who will try to pawn-off regular fuel line (SAE 30R7) as EFI hose.
  2. They'll say "It's all the same", etc. Just say NO, you won't accept anything that is NOT stamped SAE 30R9. Throw away the dumb spring clamps. The EFI (solid-band) clamps are best, but the worm-drive clamps will work. DON'T forget the little piece of hose that connects the fuel tank sender to the steel body line!
  3. Use a METAL fuel filter(s). Chrysler's MoPar filter, available at all Chrysler Corporation dealerships, is once again made out of metal in response to the new fuels. NAPA, WIX and Purolator, I believe, sell metal ones whilst Fram still sells plastic.
  4. Keep an extra carb needle/seat on hand, ready for a five-minute change if you should need it. NAPA sells these individually under the Echlin label, but their needle/seats for the Holley 1920, 1945, and 6145 carburetors are not of the correct design and if you have such a carburetor. You should look instead at getting a complete Standard-Hygrade carburetor kit, which does include the correct needle and seat.
  5. If your carb hasn't been rebuilt within the last ~5 years, expect to have to rebuild it before, during, or after oxyengenated fuel season. Newer Standard-Hygrade kits have upgraded soft parts, and are of much higher quality than any other kits on the market.
  6. Worry about the fuel pump if it's more than ~9 years old. Newer fuel pumps have upgraded materials. New fuel pump rebuild kits for 1963 and earlier bolt-together pumps, available from Antique Auto Parts Cellar in Massachussets, have good, resistant soft parts.

Information on remedying the driveability and starting problems that can be caused by oxygenated fuels can be found in the Slant-6 Driveability TechPage.

[ Thanks to Bob, Robert F. Feitt, Slant-6 web page for this information ]

Quick Year Identification

Quick Rules of Thumb for approximating the year of 1960's to 1970's GM cars:

And you can always check the taillamp lenses for the last 2 digits of the year that those lenses were first issued. That should get you within a year or so of the year it was built.

[ Thanks to Andrew C. Green, Paul Elosge, Paul for this information ]

Points to HEI Conversion

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Point to HEI Conversion section for this information.

Spark Plugs to Use With HEI

[ Notice: ]Please refer to the Spark Plugs to Use with HEI section for this information.

Ext. Regulated to Int. Regulated Alternator Conversion

You can accomplish essentially the same protective function for HEI ignitions by using one of the replacement solid state external regulators. But, you still have only about a 42 amp alternator with less output at idle, and you still have the part-finding factor. Ford did this, and MOPAR was darn close - they just used the formerly grounded field on the alternator with the new regulator.

Actually, I don't even think you can buy a replacement regulator from an autoparts store that isn't electronic.

Doing the Conversion
Converting externally regulated GM alternators (pre 1971) to internally regulated post 1971 alternators is a relativly easy affair. This is also a necessary conversion before/during a HEI or other electronic igniton conversion. Also nice if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere and need parts -- 10/12SI units are much more common these days.

Once you've done it, you'll never drive another car with a vibratior regulator and points.

Some Background info
GM Internally regulated units are broken down into 2 models for our purposes, the 10SI and the 12SI. Both can be used interchangably in most cases, and both use identical hookups.

The 10SI is the same physical size as your old alternator. It looks rather simular, except the back is more closed, and the two connectors are horizontal instead of vertical. This unit usually has a steel fan. They are rated from 42 amps to 63 amps as a stock unit. The rating is stamped on the case below the mounting ear.

The 12SI is a higher output version found on many mid-80's cars. It is easily identifable by its slightly larger case, and a PLASTIC fan. This unit will usually bolt in wherever a 10SI will fit. This does not look as close to your old alternator, but it does put out 85 amps at full load and has a increased output at idle. Note that many of these units had METRIC mounting holes. Also note that the 12SI's from GM FWD cars look the same, but will not mount as well. Look under the hood of just about any 82-87 GM with a Olds 307 and you'll find one of these.

If you want a real wiring diagram, look up one for like a 1976 Cutlass.

Either alternator will bolt in place of your existing unit. You may need to "turn" the case to get the 2 wire connector to be accessable on your specific engine.

Assuming you pull the alternator from a junk car, make sure to cut the two prong connector for the regulator from the harness. Otherwise, pick up a connector at the auto parts store. Sometimes you have to buy a harness extender to get it. Kits are available that contain an adapter harness for the alternator plug and the original regulator. I think J C Whitney sells these.

Easy Way

Another Easy Way I found the ultimate and easiest way you can convert your external regulated alternator to an internal model. YEAR ONE sells a plug in conversion kit (Part No. HU30 $13.50). It contains a plug in harness for the external regulator and a plug in adapter from external regulated alternator to an internal regulated alternator. NO WIRES TO CUT. No rocket science involved.

Fancy Way

OK, you said you wanted to retain the external regulator look. No problem!

First, remove the old (or use a spare for practice) regulator from the car. Remove the cover plate. Here's your goal:
  • Jumper terminal F and terminal 3 together.
  • Jumper terminal 2 and terminal 4 toegther.
                            TOP (DOWN) VIEW
                     |                          |
                     |                          |
                     |  10 ga. jumper           |
                     |  -------------           |
                     |  |           |           |
                     |_ F ___ 2 ___ 3 ___ 4 ____|
        Latch  ---->    *     *     *     *
                              10 ga. jumper
  1. Make sure they do not ground anywhere, or are connected in any way.
  2. Make sure to cut the resistors off the back of the regulator!
  3. Check and double check that these are the only connections made!

On The Alternator

Step 1: Remove the wires from the plug connector on the 10/12SI unit. This can be done with a pin or small screwdriver to relase the tab that hold the connectors in the plastic shell. If you want to cheat, just cut the wires off the old connector and replace "splice" for "insert" in steps 2 and 3 below. ;^)

Step 2: Remove the wire from the old alternator connector that went to the F terminal. It should (usually?) be BLUE or GREEN. Insert this wire in the new connector so it connects to the #2 terminal of the new alternator.

Step 3: Repeat step 2 for the other wire; the wire for the old R terminal goes to the #1 terminal on the 10/12SI unit. This is usually a WHITE wire.

You may find that the old terminals are corroded or burned. Now's a darn good time to replace them.


Fire up the car. The alternator should start charging immediately if you've hooked up everything correctly. If it does not, here's my checklist, in order:
  1. Connector on the new alternator is secure *AND* making good contact. If you used your old terminals then this is probably the bad point.
  2. Check for +12 volts at terminal #2 and BAT with the ignition OFF.
  3. Check that the generator light works.
  4. Check for +12 at both terminals on the harness with the harness disconnected from the regulator.
  5. Email me and I'll try and help.

I've done this swap several times. I didn't come up with the fancy way until after I had way to much time on my hands and had nothing else to do. The first way works fine and I use it on my beater cars. The second method works nice for a non-100-point resto vehicle. Heck, it's fooled more than a few guys around here.

I have never done this swap on a car with factory guages (amp or volt), but I can't really see any reason WHY that would present a problem. You might want to also consider putting in a heavier wire from the alternator to the battery if you're going to run a 12SI. I cooked my 10ga wire at one point. They make conversions to convert a 12SI to a 120 amp alternator if you really need the juice. Of course, just be careful when doing ANY kind of wiring work in your car. Use common sense; don't splice the BAT wire with lousy crimp connectors - SOLDER THEM! Dirty connections make heat - CLEAN THEM. I've seen really nice cars trashed with bad wiring work, or worse - wiring fires.

Keep in mind I'm the same guy does electronic ignition conversions by using the points to trigger a Mopar spark box. Sacrilidge? Next thing to figure out is how to make the new CS-series GM alternators work on these old cars.

More (really bad) Ascii Art:

                                   (WHITE wire)
           |------------------- To R terminal of old alternator harness
           |    |-------------- To F terminal of old alternator harness
      - - -|- - |- - -             (BLUE or GREEN wire)
    -      *    *      -
  -        1    2        -      Back view of 10/12SI
 -   *                    -
  -   BAT --------------------- Same connection as old alternator
    -                   -
      - - - - - - - - -
[ Thanks to Bob Handren, Bob Valentine, John Foster, John Pajak for this information ]

Blower Motor Diagnosis and Repair

Before ripping everything apart, though, follow the wiring and check the connectors. When a blower motor dies, it usually gives you plenty of howling and squealing warnings. With a bad connector, it will abruptly quit, or lose just the low or high speeds.

With the ignition on, but the engine not running, and the ventilation selector in any position other than OFF (select HEAT or VENT for now), move the dash fan switch in and out of the HIGH speed position. If you can hear the high speed relay mounted on the firewall (over the power brake booster - early models) clicking, your dash switch is probably okay.

Leave the ignition on, and the fan switch on a fairly high speed, so you can wiggle wires under the hood until the blower comes to life to pinpoint the bad connection. If you can reach the blower itself, find the two large wires plugged onto it, a purple high speed wire and the black ground wire. The purple one probably has a rubber boot over its spade connection; the ground wire is probably a spade lug with a black plastic connector and a squeeze hook lock holding it on. Work them both to see if they're solid.

Also find the resistor pack nearby; this will be a three or four wire connector plugged onto a little panel screwed into the underhood heater case. The connector is really tight and may need a screwdriver to budge, but check that it's not rotted. Unscrewing the panel will reveal two or three resistor coils on the inside (in the airstream for cooling); check that they are intact. These function to run the motor at the different speeds (aside from HIGH).

Get a test probe and check for voltage too. Check that the ground is good, then test the purple wire supplying the blower, and work backwards until you find the problem.

If the fan doesn't work on "Hi", remember there is a fuse in the wiring near the firewall among all the other wires that may be busted. But it is only for the hi setting. The other 3 speeds will still work if it's out.

The high speed of the blower is not run through the dashboard switch directly since the current flow would melt it -- heck, on some cars it melts anyway, but that's probably not the problem. As far as the dash switch is concerned, the current going through the High position need be only strong enough to close the contacts on the high speed bypass relay, which is mounted under the hood in the vicinity of the blower motor on the right (passenger's) side of the firewall. The power to actually run the blower on High comes from a separate wiring harness leading from the engine.

Find the bypass relay under the hood near the blower. It will most likely have four wires on it: two thin and two fat (usually red). Test to see if the relay's okay: it should audibly click when someone switches the fan to High with the ignition on. Rest a fingertip on it to feel for the click if in doubt. It probably will, so now we move on to check the wiring.

One of the fat red wires will lead off towards the engine. Follow it. It will probably lead in company with two or three other wires through an in-line wiring connector; this connects the harness from the blower area of the firewall to a harness attached to the engine. Unplug this connector.

What you will probably find is that the contacts for the large red wire have melted the connector somewhat. The easiest repair for this is to push the connector back together (the other wires going through it are probably still all right) and solder a 10-gauge jumper wire around the connector, so that the high current for the blower does not need to go through the melted connector. For best results you should take the time to solder the connection, not just crimp, or at least use very good quality terminals if it's likely that you'll need to unplug it later. That should fix it.

The blower motor is slightly covered by the right-side fender and is kind of behind the inner wheel well on the passenger's side. I have not replaced a Cutlass blower, but in fixing a LeMans blower of that year, I was able to do it without removing the hood, fender or tire by unbolting the bottom edge, and wedging the fender and wheel well out of the way with a couple pieces of wood.

If you must remove the fender, it's a good idea to take the tire off the car. It's not necessary, but it's worth the effort. After the inner fender is out you can remove the blower motor. I think there's maybe five small bolts that hold the blower in. Be careful not to torque the bolts too tight when you replace the motor. The blower mounts in fiberglass and it's easy to strip out the holes.

[ Thanks to Andrew C. Green for this information ]

Clock Repair

Standard Remedy
The quickie repair for clocks that just get gunked up (e.g. it's really hard to even turn the hands using the knob) is to fog the mechanism with WD-40 through the backlighting holes in the back of the case (or after you've disassembled the case, if possible). Squirt gently, not too long and not using the extension tube on the spray head.

Does someone repair for reasonable price?
Hemmings Motor News probably has a bunch of folks offering this service, plus quartz conversions.

Clock is running fast or slow
Depending on how much correction you need, the regulator is adjusted by corrections of 20 minutes or more, so backing it off by 12 hours is supposed to get you a major correction in speed.

Another method is to take the clock out of the case and make an internal adjustment. The back can be removed if you remove all of the nuts on it, including the connector tab. Hold the face plate and slip the case off. Within the clock mechanism there is a small brass looking tab that moves CW/CCW. Move it a very small amount, and re-energize the clock to see if you need to move it more or less in the other direction. Probably should let it run overnight to get a good sense of the effect.

This clock design is based on a spring and the spring is probably influenced by temperature. For instance I've seen the clock go from running slow to running fast on a hot day.

I've got it close (within a couple of minutes every 24 hours), and I just reset it when I get in the car. The other choice is to quartz it.

[ Thanks to Andrew Green, Steve for this information ]

Electrical Problem Checklist

  1. Grounds, grounds, grounds. Automobiles use the chassis, block, body panels, and everything in between for ground - the negative side of the battery. As the car ages, the electrical connection (or continuity) between these various parts starts to crap out (rust, road goo, etc.).
  2. Bad sockets can short the circuit. Some sockets are aluminum, which when they touch steel, cause oxidation, causing increased resistance, intermittence, and a bum circuit. Cleaning and some dielectric grease or a seperate ground wire will solve the problem.
  3. Related to #2: Shorted or crunched wiring with the same effect.
  4. Fasteners that have accidently hit wiring, grounding out the circuit.
  5. Broken, melted wiring.
[ Thanks to Michael R. Frederick for this information ]

Generator Diagnosis and Repair

I recall an old mechanic reminding me to polorize the generator. He did state that it was very important to do.

Alternator conversion
I believe it goes like this:
Giant screw terminal: To battery, to charge it. Others are labeled 1 and 2 or R and 2.
1 or R: To/from brown wire, for idiot light.
2: To/from battery, again. I have had success just jumpering this right to the big screw terminal, which is going to the battery anyhow. But the diagrams all show it running separately to the battery + terminal.

[ Thanks to Chris Witt for this information ]

Radios, Speakers, Impedance

NOTE: The examples are based manufacturer's specifications for representative equipment. While the information is accurate, always check the manufacturer's specification for your equipment and adjust any calculations as necessary.

Some advice for you when testing a radio, especially the oldies:

1) Speaker Placement. Besides replacing the existing speakers with new ones, you may want to add additional speakers (see below) at other locations. Just a couple of minor things to keep in mind. Low frequencies are non-directional. That is they radiate from the speaker pretty much in all directions. Mid and high frequencies ARE directional, so it's easy to tell that a sound is coming from one channel or the other. Where you place the woofers doesn't matter a whole lot ~ it has little effect on the "stereo image". (This explains why you find a lot of "dual-coil" woofers that you hook both left and right channels to.) But where you place the mids or tweeters WILL effect the image. The bottom line is: you can mount the larger woofers anywhere they'll fit and the smaller mids and tweeters in locations best suited for stereo. See also Radios and amplifiers, below.

Speaker terminals are usually marked with a plus (or a dot - usually red) and minus. This designation is to help you to get your speakers all hooked up "in phase". This is, so they are all moving the in same direction at the same time. Failure to observe this will result in some of the sound waves cancelling each other out with a noticable loss of bass response.

2) Speaker resistance is more properly called impedance. Resistance is only a direct current (DC) measurement. Impedance is the effective resistance to a changing signal like alternating current (AC) or an audio signal. It cannot be measured with a simple ohmmeter. A speaker's impedance, in ohms, is plotted across it's frequency operating range. Somewhere in the lower frequencies, usually around 100 Hz, there is a peak in the impedance where the natural resonant frequency of the speaker is reached. Following this resonance, the impedance will dip to a low value before slowly rising again. This "dip" just after the resonant peak is the speakers nominal rating. So "8" ohms is only an approximate minimum impedance ~ a guideline.

For the record: there is little difference between a 8 and a 10 ohm speaker (there are 4, 6, 8, 10, 16 and a few oddballs). An "8 ohm" speaker, as noted above, will vary its impedance through it's operating range. The general tolerance for common electronic components is plus or minus 20%. So 8ohms and 10ohms are just within that 20%

It is ALWAYS safe to go to a higher impedance speaker to replace a lower one. This is, you can replace a 6ohm with an 8, a 10ohm with a 16. It is NOT safe to use a lower one in place of a higher one unless it is within the 20% tolerance noted above. Therefore, it is OK to replace a 10ohm with an 8 but NOT OK to replace an 8ohm with a 4 (unless the manufacturer says so).

3) Speaker systems fall into two broad catagories: Those that use crossover networks and those that do not. Crossover network speaker systems use a type of filter that separates frequencies into two or more bands each of which is routed to a speaker specifically designed to handle that band. These are also refered to as "2-way" or "3-way" systems. Classically the speakers themselves are called the woofer (bass), the mid-range, and the tweeter(highs). If you use a system that comes from a manufacturer with multiple speakers (such as coaxial speakers) and it is rated by the manufacturer at 8ohms, you can consider it to be one speaker with that impedance. Single speakers that do not use a crossover are called "full" or "wide" range speakers. They are just what the name implies: a single speaker that covers the entire frequency range. The full range speaker is less expensive with poorer high and low frequency response; the 2 or 3-ways give better response but at a premium. (also see Piezo Speakers, below)

Multiple speakers (including 2 and 3-ways) can be hooked up in parallel, in series, or a combination of both.

Hooking up the speakers in PARALLEL will DECREASE impedance. That is, two 8ohm speakers can be hooked together to create a 4ohm impedance. Remember than decreasing impedance (increasing load) will usually cause an amplifier to put out more power.

The math used to calculate the impedance (represented by "Z" - don't ask why) of parallel speakers gets a little tough but here goes:

Zt  =     1        1        1
        ----  +  ----  +  ----  +  etc...
         Z1       Z2       Z3

So an 8ohm and a 4ohm would be:

       -------------            1               1
Zt  =    1       1    =  ---------------  =  -------  =  2.67 ohms
        ---  +  ---       0.125 + 0.250       0.375
         8       4

The good news is when hooking speaker of the SAME impedance in parallel, simply divide the impedance by the number of speakers. For example: hooking three 8ohm speakers in parallel gives 8 / 3 = 2.67ohms. MAKE SURE THE AMP CAN HANDLE IMPEDANCES LESS THAN 4ohms! And make sure you hook the positives (or dots) and negatives as shown:

       |         |------------------[-]AMP
       |         |
       |         |
       |         |
       |         |
       |         |

Hooking up speakers in SERIES increases the impedance. That is, two 4-ohms can be hooked together to create an 8-ohm impedance. Remember than increasing impedance (decreasing load) will usually cause an amplifier to put out less power. The math is simple, simply add the impedances: an 8ohm and a 4ohm equals 12ohms. Make sure you hook positives (or dots) and negatives as shown:


4) Piezo Speakers: Most of the speakers we have been discussing and most of the speakers you're likely to run across are called "dynamic" speakers. They have the typical cone, voice coil, and a magnet on the back. But there is another type around called a "piezo" speaker. These use a crystal element to generate sound rather than a magnet/coil/cone. These are almost always found as tweeters. Piezo tweeters are small (so you can stick them anywhere), require no crossover, usually have a fairly high power rating, and have a very high impedance ~ usually about 100ohms. The nice thing about this is you can hook several up without overloading the amp. Hooking two 100ohm piezo tweeters in parallel to an existing 8ohm speaker would give a total impedance of about 7ohms ... a safe bet. (A 2" piezo tweeter from Radio Shack is only 5 bucks, cheap enough for an experiment.)

If your considering adding additional tweeters, use a "main" speaker that has a little too much bass or a woofer ~ which will be balanced out by the added tweeters.

5) Radios and amplifiers are rated by their manufacturers with the maximum continuous power (RMS) output and a minimum speaker impedance in ohms. The maximum RMS power may often be rated at differing loads such as 25 Watts RMS per channel at 8ohms and 33 Watts RMS per channel at 4ohms or with only a single rating. Since amplifiers will produce more power at higher loads (lower impedances), a single rating usually reflects the maximum power at the lowest impedance the amplifier can tolerate. If the specification states 33 Watts RMS at 4ohms, we can be pretty sure that the amp will deliver a maximum of 33 watts RMS into a minimum impedance of 4ohms. Unless the manufacturer specificly states that the amp can tolerate an impedance lower than 4ohms, DO NOT ASSUME YOU CAN DO IT.

Please note the amplifier ratings discussed are presented only as an example. Actual specifications vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from model to model. Consult your owners handbook or user's guide for the actual specifications of your equipment.

If, as discussed above, you hook multiple speakers or speaker systems up, the question becomes which speakers get what power. If the amp discussed put out 25 Watts RMS at 8ohms and you paralleled a single 8ohm speaker with a second 8ohm speakers, the amp, as specified by the manufacturer, will now put out 33 Watts RMS at the new 4ohm impedance. With two 8ohm speakers, the answer is simple ~ each speaker will get half the maximum power. This would hold true even if they were hooked in series (though the amp would put out less power at 16ohms).

If, however, you hooked up an 8ohm and a 4ohm speaker in parallel (and assuming the manufacturer says it's OK), the picture becomes a little different. Lets' assume the amp will now put out 36 Watts RMS at our new 2.67ohms impedance. The power will now be split between the two speakers INVERSELY proportional to their impedances. That is, the 4ohm speaker would get 24 watts and the 8ohm speaker would get 12 watts. Therefore the 4ohm, getting twice the power, will be louder than the 8ohm ~ something you might want to remember when considering where to mount them.

If you hooked up an 8ohm and a 4ohm speaker in series, the power will now be split between the two speakers DIRECTLY proportional to their impedances. If the amp now put out 18 Watts RMS at our new impedance of 12ohms, the 4ohm speaker would get 6 watts and the 8ohm speaker would get 12 watts. The 8ohm would now get twice the power of the 4ohm and will be the louder speaker.

6) Adding new life to old radios (especially if the output transistors keep quitting ~ see below) without sacrificing the OEM radio (or the points) is too stash a power booster out of sight. Even a cheapie like a Spark-o-matic (what-a-name) probably has better specs than the original radio. Note that the input impedance (what you'd hook you radio's outputs to) of the booster is usually pretty high, 100 ohms or more, so they present no loading problem to an old radio. You can hide them anywhere if you're worried about appearance and they usually have the added benefit of being able to drive larger loads such 4ohms or less.

For mono radios, simply hook the speaker output from the radio to BOTH left and right inputs on the booster. Just make sure you hook them in the same direction, don't cross the wires. This won't give you stereo but it will sound a lot better. You can get a (sort of) stereo-like effect by placing woofers in one end of the car, like the rear deck, and the mids/tweeters towards the front. It won't be stereo but it will have the effect of spreading the sound around a bit and give it a bigger "feel".

A word about old radios that keep quiting: If you are taking your radio/amp back to the shop evey couple of months or so to have the ouput transistors replaced, here's a tip: The amplification stage just before the output stage is called the output driver. When the output transistors short, they usually put a pretty good whomping on the driver transistors. When it goes to the shop, the tech checks the outputs, finds them shorted, replaces them, fires it up, it works, hands it back, and collects his money. BUT... the drivers have been permanetly twisted by the shorted outputs and will operate slightly out of spec. This causes the outputs to run a little harder than they should so they fail a few months (rather than many years) later. The next time, tell the technician to humor you and change the transistors and any diodes in the driver stage of the offending outputs. Before I started doing this, I had WAY too many systems come back to the shop. Once I started changing the drivers along with the outputs, they almost never came back. ~ The Voice of Experience.

7) Speaker Testing:A simple way to check to see if a speaker is functioning is to disconnect the amplifier leads and hook a 1.5v battery across it. It should click everytime you put the juice to it. No click = ka-ka. 8) Repair: Delco radios are apparently pretty simple to repair if you know electronics. The output transistor (DS-515) goes bad and replacements are getting hard to find. They cost from $15 to $25 each. A radio repair shop should be able to do an alignment also if it is needed.

I have been lucky with a little independent radio repair shop in town. He sells CB and ham gear, burglar alarms, small appliances, a little bit of everything; I'm sure most towns have someplace similar. If there's a local shop in your area give them a call. It may save you some $$.

Any questions? The eMail address is at the end of the FAQ ~ Mike

BTW, I don't recommend any particular brands. Too much depends on the listener. If it sounds good to you it IS good even if your buddy hates it ~ and even if it was made by RonCo.

[ Thanks to Mike Frederick, Greg Beaulieu, Esko Ilola, Bobby for this information ]

Stock Looking Radio, Speaker Upgrades

A "reverb set" is an electronic box that is mounted in the trunk to cause a delay in the sound from front to rear, thus giving an echo effect. The speaker grill may not contain a speaker as they were an extra cost. A speaker switch on the instrument panel or a switch on the right hand radio knob should indicate a factory rear speaker installation.

The speaker can be accessed by taking the seat bottom out & then releasing the back. A 6 x 9 speaker can be installed if one is not present. Don't forget to use 8 ohm speakers w/a factory radio of that vintage.

Depending on how good (read: expensive) a system you want, I can think of several ways to go. If original looks are important, you can get an existing 1968 radio retrofitted with modern internals. Check out the Classic Car Radio company for an illustration of what they can do (they show a 1969 Olds radio on their page):

As for speakers, that is trickier. The front is a 4x10, the back is 6x9 (assuming the convertible is the same as the hardtop). One clever solution I've seen is in Year One's catalog: they take a 6x9 frame and fit two smaller-diameter speakers in it, giving stereo sound. Not sure how good they would sound though. Since a 1968 4-4-2 wouldn't have carpet on the door panel bottoms you're out of luck with that solution. I have seen several 1968s with the front or rear panels cut to fit speakers and frankly I don't think they look very good.

One option might be to take the 2-in-1 6x9 solution for the rear, and mount 2 front speakers *under* the dash firing downwards. There is enough room there that it should be possible. That would give you 4-speaker sound that would be fairly invisible. You would never be able to shatter windows with the bass, but it might serve the purpose.

First, what are your intentions for mounting the main stereo unit? Do you want to put it in the dash, or do you purposely want to hide it in the glovebox for originality/anti-theft? If you want it in the dash but don't relish the though of cutting the original dash, the radio mounting plate is a bolt-in which is easily changed. Do you currently have a blank radio-delete plate in the dash? These are fairly rare, as you may imagine. I would suggest you get another radio mounting plate (all 1968 to 1969 are the same) and use it as the basis for mounting your aftermarket unit - this way you don't have to cut your original. I don't know if you plan to use a traditional two-knob unit or one of the newer digital units, but in either case, I'd suggest fabricating a new metal plate to fit inside the chrome lip on the radio mounting plate. You can then cut this new plate to fit your new stereo unit while cutting out the factory mounting plate underneath to clear. Paint the new plate with black wrinkle paint to match the dash.

If you do want to mount the unit in the glovebox, simply fabricate brackets as required. The drawback, of course, is that this makes it almost impossible for the driver to access the stereo while driving. Does your car have a console? If so, consider mounting the unit in the console glovebox for accessibility.

As for speaker mounting, since you don't want to cut the car, your options are obviously limited. Easiest is a surface-mount speaker enclosure. Many units are available today with excellent sound quality. If you are careful in selecting the location for these units, the screw holes will need to be inconspicuous should you wish to return to stock.

If you decide to cut, see if you can find and interior shop to use a hole punch to perforate (in a nice round pattern) the vinyl where the speakers go. If your doors have carpet, that will need to be punched too. This is the route I went with my 98, but I also cut the dash and put some 2" tweeters up there (great sound, but nowhere near original and I can't go back with out welding.)

If you do not want these obvious speakers to show, your other alternative is to mount the speakers in a way which doesn't show, but also doesn't require cutting holes in the interior. One method I've seen is to mount the speakers in the cowl vents behind the fresh air grille in the kick panels. Obviously this is less than ideal, however I recall an article in Musclecar Review where they talked about an enclosure which was available to protect the speakers from water when mounted in this way.

Another thought is to mount the speakers in the doors behind the factory carpeting in the lower part of the door panel. This still requires cutting the door sheet metal and the cardboard backing for the door panel, however the carpet should not be touched. In this way, the interior would still look stock.

[ Thanks to Greg Beaulieu, Joe Padavano, Bill Culp, Chris Fair for this information ]

Theft Deterrent

Theft Deterrent

For those that may be financially handicapped, here's a handy, dandy (that is, cheap) theft deterent:

12v going to coil --------------------+
                           +-----+    |
12v from ignition sw ------|     |    +------=
                           |     |    +------=
                           |  R  |    |
                           |  E  |    +--------- to ignition coil
                           |  L  |
                           |  A  |    +--------------------+
                           |  Y  |    |                    |
                           |     |    +-------=            |
                      +----|     |    +-------=            |
                      |    +-----+    |                    |
                      |               |                    |
                      +---------------+-----(pushbutton)---+-- ground

When the ignition is turned on, the relay stays deenegrized until a ground is made through the pushbutton. When it is pushed, the relay will energize. The lower set of contacts will maintain the ground; the upper supplies juice to the coil. The next time the ignition is switched off, the relay deenergizes again -- until you push the (extremely well hidden) switch again.

Back when I was a student at MIT and had my 68 442 on campus (in the car-theft capital of the world - metro Boston), I actually used the same removable steering wheel concept as the Grant unit. The difference is that I had installed a 70-style factory 4-spoke wheel on my 68 (the hub fits the steering column but is slightly larger in diameter - I lived with it, but it turns out that the 68 three-spoke wheel hub can also be used with the 4-spoke wheel). With a simple Phillips head screwdriver, I was able (with practice) to pop off the horn button and remove the horn contact and wheel within about 90 seconds. You may want to install a toggle switch to disable the horn while you do this, especially when reinstalling the horn button.

The beauty of this arrangement is that you have a factory steering wheel (OK, a non-correct 4-spoke in a 68, but it really looks good. This would also work with the correct 68 3-spoke "wood" wheel), without the questions of the adaptability of the Grant unit. In addition, if someone really wanted to steal the car, they could go and buy a Grant wheel. Good luck trying to find a factory 4-spoke that easily. I actually came up with this idea in 1978 (long before the Grant unit was on the market), after my 67 Cutlass daily driver had been stolen and I was forced to pull the 68 442 out of storage and drive it. I also added a hidden kill switch under the dash, just in case. The only drawback is that on two occasions, the rocket scientists who tried to steal the car (before realizing the steering wheel was missing - DOH!) got even by ripping off the stereo (and busting up the dash in the process). Fortunately, at the time a 68 dash was still available from the dealer. I finally resorted to hiding the stereo, which solved that problem.

[ Thanks to Mike Frederick, Joe Padavano for this information ]

Wiper Motor Repair

Wiper motor removal, washer pump repair, and wiper delay module removal on G-body is covered here, but most of this should apply to other cars as well. The motor, washer pump, and wiper delay module are all removed in one unit. The wiper motor is on the driver's side rear corner of the engine compartment. The black plastic cover on the front houses the wiper delay module and the washer pump slides in on the bottom of that. While it's theoretically possible to service the pump or delay unit on the car, it's much, much easier to remove the whole unit first.

[ Thanks to Tom Lentz for this information ]


DO NOT!! DO NOT!! DO NOT!! use oven cleaner, or acidic or caustic dipping on aluminum. Oven cleaner is not compatible with aluminum, since it is made up of mostly NaOH, or sodium hydroxide, which is a strong caustic. Even 10% solution would corrode the surfaces, not to mention leaving an aluminum hydroxide pasty waste film. It would spell trouble. Acids, if it is extremely weak acid, like diluted citric, or something, may clean stains, but here again, you run the risk of damage. Oven cleaner and acid dipping will cause discoloration.

If it's pretty dirty, glass bead blast it. Don't sand blast it! Sand blasting will make it look good but it will be rough, and all dirt will show and not come off. Glass beading is the way to go on this, you'll be amazed at the results. Glass bead blasting gives it that just cast texture. You will find, however, that the finish is somewhat brighter (for lack of a better term) than the original as-cast finish. In addition, material is definitely removed. Be careful not to remove too much material!

How about some aluminum wheel cleaner? Since the intake is off the engine, it can't damage the engine paint, and it's definitely designed to not damage the aluminum. Just follow the directions on the bottle. Might try a wheel cleaner that is compatible with painted wheels.

While caustic dipping is OK for cast iron, avoid its use on aluminum. As an alternative, I've used Naval Jelly for Aluminum (can you still get this stuff?). It is apparently a mild etchant (read: acid) which removes all corrosion and discoloration from aluminum. You paint it on with an old brush and hose it off after letting it sit for a few minutes. Note that any dirt or grease should be removed with a high pressure water blast prior to using the Naval Jelly. Also, be careful, as the original Naval Jelly is for steel; be sure to get the correct type. Do not apply this with the manifold on the engine, however, as it will surely damage the engine paint and will likely splatter onto the fenders.

On a 71 Cutlass that I had, the aluminum manifold (which originally had been bead blasted prior to installation) would start looking kind of grungy after a period of time. About once a year I would pull the manifold and give it the Naval Jelly treatment. This resulted in a brand new-looking manifold for a fraction of the cost of another bead blast. In addition, I didn't need to worry about the repeated bead blastings eroding the markings on the manifold.

About the aluminium intake cleaning -- use TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) -- soak whole intake in a solution of TSP and water - not too long though because it will eat the aluminium.

Then use some neverdull or Eastwood Nylac to preserve the shine. I used a bead blaster (glass beads) on an aftermarket intake and it worked very well. It can be shined up with some aluminum wheel polish and a dremel tool with a small polishing tip. Works wonders in the hard to reach areas.

Also check out

[ Thanks to George Lesperance, Rob Turner, John T. Blair, Terry Teague, Bob Barry, Mike Rothe, Joe Padavano for this information ]

Heres one solution for cleaning those old dingy washer fluid and coolant tanks, and maybe a lot of other plactics. Try several denture cleaning tablets. You know the ones for removing stains from dentures.

[ Thanks to for this information. ]

If you have cleaned pretty well, but still have a stale odor or just want to freshen it up a bit, there is a product on the market by the name of Febreeze. It will take any kind of odor out. We have 2 cats and a dog, they all like to lie around on the furniture. So I just spray with the Febreeze and it takes ~ALL~ odor out. Works great on cigarette odor too. Just spray on let it dry and you are good to go. And as far as cleaning the seats, if they are cloth, I just take soap and water to them, or you can use the commercial carpet cleaners on them. Just remember to let them dry good or you will end up with a wet butt.

[ Thanks to Pat Hadwin for this information. ]

Removing Calcium Deposits From Paint

Vinegar removes calcium or lime spots left by hard water, and it will remove the same that leak through cement and stone. It works like a charm! It just dissolves spots that were impervious to everything else. The secret is to use fresh vinegar on the rag ever few strokes since it loses its effectiveness after a little while. The chemical reaction with the calcium, lime and minerals reduces the acidity of the vinegar. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as you wipe the car down, as the paint will get scratched.

Removing Cylinder/Head/Piston Carbon Buildup

I've done various things to get the carbon out of an engine, generally along the lines of hi-revs in low gear at highway speeds, sometimes in conjunction with a bottle of Rislone "Karb-Out" in the gas tank.

A slow stream of water: Use a spray bottle, and spray the water over the carb (not in it) while running the engine at high idle. If the water is sprayed directly into their carb, you are taking a chance of getting little minute stress cracks in the block, pistons, heads, and intake! The water should be "MISTED" over the top of the carburretor!

Combustion Chamber Cleaner: This is the manufacturer's method. You buy a can of top engine cleaner, available in the spray or pourable variety, and use it according to the can's instructions. I also hear that if you inject a couple of spoonfuls of combustion chamber cleaner into the cylinders via the spark plug holes and let it sit overnight, then take it for a good long run, that you can remove even stubborn buildup.

Sea Foam: Works great. Costs about 5 bucks.

Tranny fluid: Pouring slowly into the carb with the engine hot and revs held high. Not sure this is such a good idea.

How can you tell if you've succeeded?

Large clouds of black smoke, when you floor it or race the motor after application.

Other precautions

The car will start to stall when you begin misting the water over the top of the carb. Just keep pushing the throttle at the carb. If you get a black cloud, you have succeeded, if you get nothing, there wasn't anything there to begin with.

Always change plugs and oil after doing this.

[ Thanks to Greg Beaulieu, Dennis Heinle, Michael R. Hall, Dave for this information ]

Removing Paint Overspray

Cover, cover, cover, cover anything you don't want to be ruined!!!

DON'T try to take thinner to vinyl unless you can completely redo it. Generally, the base color is part of the vinyl, but the shading, or designs, or whatever, are put on with a printing process, then overlaid with a printing of clear (guess what?) lacquer. The printed and clear are both lacquer, with the clear being both protective and a way of getting the proper gloss (or lack thereof, whichever is desired.)

Carb cleaner: It removes overspray instantly, but keep it away from paint.

Paint reducer: Worked great.

Bon Ami: Recommended in GM owner's and service manuals. I imagine it does no harm. Dampen a cloth and apply the baking soda to the cloth, making sure the soda became absorbed with the water. Rub the area firmly. This will do such a good job that the glass is almost spotless. I did the outside as well and it worked great. And you know what, the glass came out unscathed, and the dash unharmed. What damage could baking soda do!

[ Thanks to Greg Beaulieu, Fernando Proietto, Andy Green for this information ]

Prepping a Car for Storage

Not driving a car will wear it faster than normal. Special precautions need to be taken to reduce this wear of unuse. These suggestions are for long term storage, and most apply to short term storage as well.

Protecting Engine

Short & Long: Your local Marina or boat mechanic would be a good source of info for this. Marinas perform this task every winter for the boats they store. Marinas should sell an "engine fogging" spray that you spray into a running engine which coats the cylinders with a light oil for storage (and kills the engine in the process, you just leave it after it's killed).

Leave the oil in (prevents corrosion of internal parts). To this end, I'd run the engine at operating temperature for at least thirty minutes before shutting it down. This allows water that has accumulated in the oil to vaporize and leave the engine, thus reducing the likelihood of corrosion from this source. It is very important that the engine is hot enough (20 to 30 minutes) to dry out the accumulation of excess water, and the water that accumulates in the exhaust at start up. New antifreeze every year is recommended, and the best time to put it in, is just before long term storage, not after. You have the advantage of storage with all of the anti-freezes additives in unused condition. Make sure the coolant is at least 50% antifreeze, and no more than 60% antifreeze. And check it periodically, like just before it freezes.

Long: Probably the most important thing you can do is to remove each spark plug and squirt some oil into each cylinder to prevent the pistons from rusting to the cylinder walls and seizing the engine. Then put the spark plugs back on finger tight. When you go to start the engine again, remove the plugs, squirt some more oil into each cylinder, and replace with fresh plugs.


Short: If you let the car sit all winter, remove the battery and keep it off a concrete floor. Put a trickel charger on it.

Keep the battery off concrete because it provides a good source of cool moisture. The concrete floor, usually a garage floor, will be chilled at night by the ground below to a temperature lower than that of the surrounding air, at which point condensation starts to form. Condensation forming on the case of the cold battery from the surrounding air (especially in a garage with running cars, pumping out high-humidity exhaust daily) will serve as a low-resistance path from one terminal to the other.

If nothing else, remove the negative (-) cable at the battery to keep the clock from draining the battery. Disconnect the negative battery cable if storing in an unheated building. Disconnecting is optional if the car is being stored in a heated building. Long: Definitely remove the battery. It will probably be worthless after a number of years of sitting anyway. This will keep the battery tray from being eaten anyways.

Fuel Tank

Short: Don't leave your fuel tank empty. In fact, it should be topped off to prevent condensation from forming which could rust the tank. Use a fuel conditioner to retain the octane. Long: Drain the gas tank and empty the fuel lines, including the carburetor. Short & Long: Get a bottle of fuel preservative (many brands are available), pour it into the gas tank, and fill tank absolutely to the brim with fresh gas. Run the engine for a few minutes (usually the drive home from the station is enough) to distribute the preservative-treated fuel throughout the system.

Suspension, Tires

Short: It's best to move the car, i.e., drive it once or twice a month. There are pros and cons to putting the vehicle on jack stands. Placing the stands so the springs are unloaded (under the frame, not control arms) will keep the weight off the springs over the winter. It might be good to keep the springs compressed though.

Short & Long: According to the factory service manual, the A-body frame is reinforced for jacking at two locations. Your front stands should be placed under the frame rails (NOT the sheet metal) just aft of front wheels. If you get down and look at the frame rails, you will notice a reinforced area at the corner behind the front wheels. On non-convertibles, this reinforced section is fully boxed, with the long straight sections under the rocker panels actually an open "C" section, however on convertibles the frame is fully boxed all the way back. Similarly, place the rear jack stands just forward of the rear wheels, at the reinforcements where the lower control arms attach to the frame.

Note that this type of support will leave the suspension unloaded (springs expanded), which I would not recommend for storage. I think it would be better to keep the springs compressed at ride height, primarily to prevent stressing the rubber bushings in the suspension.

The reasoning in this regard is this: the factory service manual requires the suspension attaching bolts to be torqued with the weight of the car on the wheels. The reason for this is to lock the bushings in the "unstressed" condition at normal ride height. A little engineering here, so bear with me. The suspension bushings are made of concentric steel sleeves with a rubber - or polyurethane - material molded between them. If you were to grip the inner and outer sleeves and torque them relative to one another, you would torsionally stress the rubber. If left in this condition for a period of time, the rubber will deteriorate from the load - thus the instructions in the service manual to torque the fasteners at normal ride height.

Storing the car with the bushings loaded (that is, the suspension at some position other than ride height) can lead to degradation of the bushings. I'd recommend instead supporting the car under the front suspension arms and the rear axle. This will keep the weight of the car on the springs and will prevent excessive load on the bushings.

Or alternatively, why not put junkyard wheels and tires on the car instead of lifting it? You may "flat-spot" the junkyard set of tires - no big deal. If you store the car in a garage and for some reason you had to move the car to get at something, or in case of fire, you could just push the car out (even if they are flat). If the car is on stands, you get to watch it burn.

Moisture Absorption

Short & Long: The biggest enemy of a car sitting for a long (more than a month, but less than a few years) period of time is moisture. There are two things affected by moisture: your engine and your interior. Put some sort of desiccant (drying agent) in the interior and trunk. Seal the air cleaner and close all vents if pests are a concern.

For your engine, simply cover up the openings. On a 1968, the only openings to the engine are the air cleaner inlet and the exhaust pipe. On earlier cars you had the breather tube, but with the PCV system the crankcase is closed. On a car I stored, I used a baggie held over the opening with a rubber band. The only other place to beware of corrosion is on the points in the distributor. You can always remove them and keep them safe inside, or simply replace them if they are corroded in the spring.


Try your local hardware store or superstore for little tubs of white stuff that is designed to reduce dampness, mustiness, mildew, etc. in basements and other such areas. Silica drying packets also work, and you can renew their moisture absorbing power by nuking them in your microwave.

Shell made a substance called V.P.I. paper (vapor phase inhibitor) which could be used. Laying down a lot o' newspaper in the interior and in the trunk will help absorb excess moisture. Be careful with ink transfer from the newspaper, and check and replace it once in a while.

Also, there are crystals called blue-dry that start out blue, turn pink or clear as they absorb moisture, and then can be baked in an oven to turn them blue again. I don't know where the latter are sold other than head shops; they are used for storing methamphetamine (at least, that's what my buddy who knows about these things told me.:)

If you live in an area of substantial humidity, leave the windows a bit cracked too. Maybe the best way to keep moisture from building up and affecting your interior, is to air it out when possible.

A product called Di-Gas will prevent and even kill mildew in a car in storage. This is a powdered material (mostly paraformaldehyde) that sublimes as do moth balls. It is made by Vapor Products, P.O. 568395, out of Orlando, Fl. Cost about $1.80 per bag in 1994. The only draw back is that it saturates plastics, and takes 2 days to air out. You can drive the car immediately if necessary, but you will want to have your head hanging out the window. None the less, there will not be any musty odor in the car no matter how many years it is in mothballs, nor will you have any crawling critters.


It is not good to store a primered car outside. Primer is not good for protecting the metal without some type of paint over it. The primer is actually porous and will allow moisture to get to whatever metal is under the primer. Short & Long: You can cover the car with an opaque plastic cover, this can be kept off the paint surface with some 1x2's laid across the car, with some foam between them and the car. Or you can splurge for a genuine fitted waterproof cover. If your paint isn't new, however, I'd just recommend laying a tarp right on the car, and tucking it in all around so it doesn't blow away in a Nor'easter. Put one of those soft car covers over the car, to protect it from light. It should also retard mechanical damage due to human errors and other mishaps.

Outside Storage

Storing a car outside should really only be considered if there are no other options available. Long term outside storage will ruin a car, no matter if it is Arizona or Kentucky. Consider the cost of storage against what you will have to repair.

Short & Long: Ideally, you want a surfaced and well drained location. Gravel is better than grass or mud, but the underside of the car will suffer greatly on either. A cover and vermin protection is a must.

First, DON'T cover the car with a tarp or other plastic or watertight covering. Moisture will condense on the underside of the tarp, increasing humidity dramatically and leading to increased surface rust and probable mustiness inside the car.

I don't think I'd want to put wood (or any other organic material) between a cover and the car. It'll trap moisture, begin to rot, and the little buggies will move in real soon. Take the cover off after a few weeks or months have gone by and you may find a whole new neighborhood has sprung up under there. Depends on your local climate, of course, but I would use plastic pieces as spacers if possible.

Second (and, unfortunately, this comes from direct personal experience) DO NOT park the car under trees or anywhere that leaves or other debris like that can accumulate on the car. Dead leaves have a way of migrating into the most obscure areas, like the bottoms of the front fenders and under the chrome trim around the windshield and back window. Naturally, this debris will retain water, leading to accelerated rusting.

My suggestions:
Get a breathable cloth (not nylon) car cover. Spend the money and get a good one. Wash the car before parking it and put the cover on it. Yes, the car will get wet, but it will also dry as rapidly as possible.

If you must park under/near trees, consider stringing a tarp up over the car. This will keep the leaves off the car, yet allow for oisture to evaporate.

This might sound radical, but if the chrome around the windshield/back window is currently installed, consider removing it to prevent debris from building up under it and leading to the dreaded pinchweld rust (if the car is in primer, then these parts may already be removed). Also, remove the stainless steel strip at the base of the windshield.


Short & Long: Vermin inhibitors are also a good idea on the inside of the car. Your greatest worry will be rodents who set up shop in your upholstery and perhaps chew the wires under the hood. You might want to consider mothballs (at least for under the hood), mothballs may leave an odor in the interior that's difficult to get rid of later.

A bar of Irish Spring soap works well. Break the bar in two and place one piece under each front bucket seat. The soap's smell will disapear when the bar is removed. Even though you can get rid of the smell quickly, it is still strong enough to keep away the critters. As for the baking soda, I have not heard of it but it couldn't hurt to try.

Short & Long: Maybe shoot some grease on the hinge points (hood, trunk, doors, etc.), and latches, and anywhere else that may have bare metal from use. This will help prevent rust buildup from under-use.

Wash and wax. Put 35 lbs of air in the tires.

Since I park on a concrete floor, I place 4 squares of aluminum foil under each tire to protect the rubber from the effects of moisture and concrete (someone told me to do this and it doesn't seem to hurt, though I don't know if it's necessary).

[ Thanks to Tom Lentz, Steve Paulson, Ed Atlee, Travis McWaters, Tim Churchill, Cliff Feiler, Charley Buehner, Andrew C. Green, Joe Padavano, Ken Pilidis, Bob Barry, Daniel A. Gulino, Nick Augenstein for this information ]

Road Trip Home

After months of searching, chasing down parts cars instead of decent candidates for restoration, and finding the ad just one buyer too late, you have the title to your new Oldsmobile! Now, how are you going to get it home? Trailer it? Not if the car is located a few miles away, but maybe if it's more than a day trip away.

Driving, instead of trailering the new acquisition, could be a fun trip. Road Trip!! It will be something you will surely remember forever, hopefully all about the good times driving the new Olds addition. The info below is meant to hopefully reduce the gotchas involved in such a long trip with an unfamiliar car.

OK, fly out, with a small set of tools adequate to do most jobs (this can fit into one of those 3"x5"x12" tool boxes). Bring your ohm/volt meter. Pick the car up, then at the local department store, obtain,

  • 2 cases oil
  • $24
  • 5 qts trans fluid
  • $ 8
  • 2 gals anti-freeze
  • $ 8
  • 2 gals distilled water
  • $ 2
  • 1 pint brake fluid
  • $ 2
  • 1 pint ps fluid
  • $ 2
  • 2 qts gear oil
  • $ 4
  • 2 up to ½" hose clamps
  • $ 2
  • 2 up to 1" hose clamps
  • $ 2
  • 2 up to 3" hose clamps
  • $ 2
  • 1 can penetrating oil
  • $ 3
  • form-a-gasket RTV
  • $ 3
  • duct tape
  • $ 2
  • electrical tape
  • $ 1
    Total: ~ $65

    These items should allow you to "limp" the car to a service station, or get it home. Anything not used on the trip will get used when you start going over the car. While you are at it, and since the car will probably need new ones, purchase the high quality belts now. Or take along a pair or two of pantyhose to make that emergency belt (put these in a brown paper bag so no one sees them!

    Get the oil changed, maybe the trans fluid also. Maybe replace the fuel hoses and fuel filter. Maybe have the wheels and drums pulled to check for axle/wheel cylinder/caliper leakage. Have this done somewhere that will let you look under the car for other gotchas.

    When you get the car, check the fluids and condition of belts and hoses. Warm the engine and take a look around for leaks and at fluid levels. Check the battery and alternator output with your voltmeter. Drive about 10 minutes (to pick up the above items), and take another look for leaks and at fluid levels. Check alt. output. After a continuous drive of 20 or 30 minutes, take another look. Check alt. output. Check again in another hour. At this point you should have a confidence level in how often you need to stop, check and refill. Of course, if it leaks/burns enough in 20 minutes to need a refill, that should be your check interval.

    [ Thanks to David Brown for this information ]

    Starting a Stored Vehicle

    Stored for a Short Amount of Time

    Taking a car out of storage is, as the saying goes, the reverse of putting it into storage, if you preped it for storage.

    Stored for a Long Amount of Time

    Note: For improperly stored vehicles (those stored more than a year or two) or for a very thorough check, follow this and the short term section.

    First, check the oil level to make sure there's something there. If there is, it's likely some kind of black sludge. If there's not enough, add some until there is. Next, throw a battery in it and see if it will turn over. Don't try and start it (and in fact, disconnect the coil wire in case it tries to be helpful, and actually starts), just see if it turns over. If it turns over, stop and change the oil and filter. Make sure you drain it completely. Undoubtedly, there will be a ton of thick stuff in the bottom of your oil pan. Your best bet would be to drop the pan, clean it, and re-install it. Might be a good idea to install a new oil pump at this time also.

    Your best bet is frequent oil changes. After my initial change, I changed it again at 500 miles, 1,000 miles, 1,500 miles, then 2,000 miles. That's just to clean out the gunk.

    Plan on making these oil changes no matter what; at least two, 500 miles apart. Fresh oil will bring out an impressive amount of sludge the first time through, making the second change a necessity. If that oil goes black real quick, change it again. Consider that each change costs you maybe the price of a case of beer (depending on your brand), which is pretty cheap engine insurance.

    I also add a can of Engine Restorer (some sort of oil additive that supposedly removes varnish and restores compression). Though some people are of the opinion that oil additives do more harm than good, I'm not sure that the crankcase flush is in the same category as these additives. It's pretty much solvent to thin the old oil and (theoretically) dissolve sludge. The "miracle additives" however, such as Slick-50, are more concerned with allegedly treating metal surfaces, etc. Your interest at this point is purely in sludge removal.

    Make sure you check the other fluids (cooling, brake, tranny, etc.). You'll definitely want some fresh gas. You'd probably be wise to install a new fuel filter. It wouldn't be a bad idea to install an in-line fuel filter somewhere between your gas tank and fuel pump, unless you want to clog up your fuel pump with debris from the tank. I'd recommend checking both filters after your first tank or two of clean gas.

    Change the transmission filter, and flush all the old fluid out. This makes an incredible difference, and it will extend the life of the transmission like nothing else.

    Check the U-joints, and all the other driveline components. Change the tranny fluid and clean the pan. Changing the seals is a good idea too, but that can wait.

    I think that it's safe to say that something is going to break/leak/burst/fall-off/catch-fire/have-I-missed-anything the first time the car starts; then the first time the car moves; then the first time the car goes on a trip, etc. Accept this before you start, and it will be a lot less painful later.

    After you get the engine running, replace the spark plugs, wires, distributor cap/points/etc. Then break out the timing light. You should also check the fluid in the rear end.

    Even if you drop the gas tank and clean it out, there will probably be lingering debris that will detach throughout the first few weeks of use. I would run your tanks down as low as you dare to clean out all the stuff that settles to the bottom. I would also, for the first few tanks, add some fuel additives. Pick the ones that clean your carb injectors, reduce valve-ping, etc.

    This should get you going for a while, but sooner or later (probably sooner), you'll most likely have to change the gaskets/seals in your engine and tranny, as they've probably dried and shrunk, and will have begun leaking profusely. I don't recommend using additives that supposedly restore those leaky seals, because they only work temporarily, and they probably just gum things up. It's also a given that you car will need rebuilt. One day you might pop the hood and find a big puddle of bubbling gas on your manifold; or worse yet, a raging fire!

    Other things may start to go out before long: water pump, brakes, etc. If your master brake cylinder was too far below the fill level, you'll probably have to rebuild that one or get a rebuilt one. If you're going to keep the car original, I'd rebuild the original one, because the new rebuilt ones, probably won't look the same.

    At any rate, you've got a lot of work ahead of you if you want to avoid a major overhaul in the near future. But believe me, it's a lot cheaper to do all this stuff than to have an engine overhauled. That, and most of it will have to be done anyway! If you're engine still turns over, you should be in good shape. I've been driving my car for three years since I finished doing all that, and haven't had a single problem since.

    P.S. - I also recommend thoroughly back-flushing the cooling system. If there has been any liquid in it for a number of years, it's gonna be severely corroded. Check your thermostat at the same time, and replace if necessary. Check the thermostat by dropping it into boiling water and see if it opens up.

    [ Thanks to Greg Kalkhoff, Andy Green, Blaine Sanders, Bob Barry for this information ]

    Differences Between A/C and non A/C Cars

    Things that would/might differ between an A/C and non-A/C car:

    This is just an overview, and not all of the above would necessarily need to be changed necessarily, but should be considered.

    Here is the difference between air and non air water pumps. The air conditioning and heavy duty cooling systems used a longer nosed water pump that had a smaller diameter pulley. The non air cars had a shorter nose, lighter duty water pump. Engine CID has no bearing on this. Don't run that tiny triple groove pulley if you are looking for performance. They steal GOBS of horsepower! Get the small crankshaft pulley and larger waterpump pulley.

    Non air cars with heavy duty cooling systems run the A/C water pump with a ultra rare 2-groove large pulley that has the deeper offset. I found this out the hard way when I ordered a replacement pump for my non-air 1970 W-30. I drove the parts guys crazy when I kept on complaining that my non a/c equipped 442's water pump wasn't fitting! We finally used a A/C water pump and everything lined up!

    [ Thanks to Andrew C. Green, Tony Waldner for this information ]

    Radiator Upgrading

    The G-body Cutlass came with 2-row and 3-row radiators. Upgrading from a 2 to 3 row is almost a drop in fit. A 3-row is probably only a few bucks more than the 2-row, and if the manual shows the 3-row to be the same dimension, order it. This would probably also apply to other models as well.

    The only thing that needs to be done to make the three row radiator fit (car had A/C too) was to trim the rubber mounts (attached to the top radiator support) that hold the top of the radiator. The 3-row had bigger tanks. The rubber mounts for the 2-row were shaped something like this:

                     <-- nipple to hold the top part in.
       / _____________________            \
      /_/ (rad top fits here) \____________\

    Part of the rubber need to be cut out with a hack saw to make the 3-row fit.

                      <-- nipple to hold the top part in.
       / ________________________________ \
      /_/                     **removed**\_\
    [ Thanks to Tom Lentz for this information ]

    Factory Service Tools

    These are the service tools referred to in service manuals. The ones with a "J" prefix are by Kent-Moore. Addresses and phone numbers for Kent Moore in the US and Canada are:

    Kent-Moore (USA)                Kent-Moore (Canada)
    29784 Little Mack               5466 Timberlea Blvd.
    Roseville, MI 48066-2298        Mississauga, Ontario
    (800)345-2233                   Canada L4W 2T7

    I called the US number just for the heck of it, and asked about the availability of rear end pinion setting tools for "B", "P" and "O" rear ends. I took the "J" numbers right out of my 1967 service manual. They are still availble! Some of the numbers were changed and combined which reduces the number of items needed.

    [ Thanks to Bob Handren for this information ]

    Online Repair Manual For All Models

    Go to the garage at for the on-line repair manual.

    You can find a listing of all recalls and summaries of technical service bulletins affecting your car on-line at

    [ Thanks to Tom Lentz for this information ]

    Parts Cleaner

    I've got limited garage space and fundage, so I had to come up with something small and cheap. Here's what I put together:

    Degrease step #1:

    5-6 gallon tin wood preservative can with tin cover that came with a gasket to seal against the can filled with 3 gallons of cheapie paint thinner ($5)
    Degrease step #2:
    3 gallon plastic pail with cover filled with 2 gallons of detergent degreaser (I used Farm&Fleet Jungle Jake brand. Something like Simple Green cleaner, but lots cheaper) ($10)

    So, I scrape as much goo off as I can, then let them sit in step #1 for a while. A old toothbrush (stop now!) is used to help loosen up those stubborn spots, and the piece soaks some more. When ready, it's off to step #2 for a quick soak and rinse with water.

    I figure most of the junk will settle out of the paint thinner and I can probably pour the good stuff off to clean out the junk. The cans stack. I suppose you could get fancy with parts baskets for small stuff. Maybe one of those lint traps would work well.

    Keep the lids on when stored or soaking, especially the paint thinner! Be careful! NO SMOKING! NO FIRES! Soak items larger than the can outdoors, in your near presence!

    [ Thanks to David Brown for this information ]

    Putting Out a Carb Fire

    To put out a fire in the carb, get in the car, mash the gas pedal to the floor and hold it there, and crank the engine. The fire will get sucked down inside the engine (combustion chambers), where it can do no harm and will go away! This really works!

    [ Thanks to Dave Paulison for this information ]

    So You Want To Buy That Car?

    Leave your phone number and name. I usually ask them to stash it in the glovebox just in case they decide to get rid of the car. Get the head casting ID, at least, that'll tell a lot about the drivetrain.

    In determining the condition of a car, the Price Guide states:
    6: Parts Car: May or may not be running, but is weathered, wrecked and/or stripped to the point of being useful primarily for parts. This is an incomplete or greatly deteriorated, perhaps rusty, vehicle that has value only as a parts donor for other restoration products.

    5: Restorable: Needs complete restoration of body, chassis and interior. May or may not be running, but isn't weathered, wrecked, and/or stripped to the point of being useful only for parts. This car needs everything. It may not be operable, but it is essentially all there and has only minor surface rust, if any rust at all. While presenting a real challenge to the restorer, it won't have him doing a lot of chasing for missing parts.

    4: Good: A driveable vehicle needing no, or only minor work to be functional. Also, a deteriorated restoration or a very poor amateur restoration. All components may need restoration to be "excellent," but the car is mostly useable "as is". This is a driver. It may be in the process of restoration or its owner may have big plans, but even from 20 feet away, ther is no doubt that it needs a lot of help.

    3: Very Good: Completely operable original or "older restoration" showing wear. Also, a good amateur restoration, all presentable and serviceable inside and out. Plus, combinations of well-done restoration and good operable components, or a partially restored car with all parts necessary to complete it and/or valuable NOS parts. This is a "20-footer". That is, from 20 feet away it may look perfect. But as we approach it, we begin to notice that the paint may be getting a little thin in spots from frequent washing and polishing. Looking inside we might detect some wear on the driver's seat, foot pedals and carpeting. The chrome trim, while still quite presentable, may have lost the sharp, mirror-like reflective quality it had when new. All systems and equipment on the car are in good operating order. In general, most of the vehicles seen at car shows are No.3s.

    2: Fine: Well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original. Also, an extremely well-maintained original showing very minimal wear. Except for the very closest inspection, a No.2 vehicle may appear as a No.1. The No.2 vehicle will take the top award in many judged shows, except when squared off against a No.1 example in its own class. It may also be driven 800-1000 miles each year to show, on tours, and simply for pleasure.

    1: Excellent: Restored to current maximum professional standards of quality in every area, or perfect original with components operating and appearing as new. A 95-plus point show car that is not driven. In national show judging, a car in No.1 condition is likely to win top honors in its class. In a sense, it has ceased to be an automobile and has become and object of art. It is transported to shows in an enclosed trailer, and when not being shown, it is stored in a climate-controlled facility. It is not driven. There are very few No.1 cars.

    [ Thanks to Nick DiGiovanni for this information ]

    Importing a Car to Canada

    I picked up some info on this a while back. It's not totally straightforward. Revenue Canada has established something called the Registrar of Imported Vehicles ( that handles this. Call 800-511-7755 for info. They charge a fee in the $210-$260 range for certification to let you bring a car in. The certification requirements include things like recall certification, metric labels, and if later models are involved, things like daytime running lights. The brochure says something contradictory; in one place they say most vehicles should be able to be certified with no problem, but later they say that some vehicles can never be certified because of their design. I think most of these would be late models; if you're looking at a classic car none of this may apply.

    The only Olds that is declared inadmissible is the '88 to '91 Eighty-Eight sedan with door mounted seat belts. There is also a list of Oldsmobiles that are admissible only if they are equipped with reclining seats at both front passenger positions (why this is I have no idea). Otherwise they are not admissible to Canada. The list is:

    '87-'92 Cutlass Calais sedan '90-'96 Ciera '90 Custom Cruiser '93-'95 Achieva

    And the '94 Cutlass Supreme sedan requires replacement of the seat tracks with Canadian seat tracks.

    You need stuff at the border like title documents, drivers license, and some evidence that the vehicle meets US safety standards (usually a label on the car). The trickiest part sounds like proof that any recall repairs have been done. You pay your fee and get 45 days to get the car certified to standards.

    Better call 800-511-7755 before you go too far.

    As long as the car is 15 yrs or older you have no problems. You pay duty + GST thats about 15% after you convert your US purchase to Canada. After 25 yrs just GST. Get your purchase notarized at a lower cost and you'll save $$$.

    A note about Canadian built cars regarding engine use:
    I don't think there was any law to the effect of not allowing non-Canadian built engines to be used in Canadian build chassis. Although I'm no expert on the US/Canada Auto Pact that allowed stuff to cross borders untouched by customs duties. Prior to the pact coming into effect in the 1960s, I presume there were duties levied on US-built motors and other components when they crossed the border, so that may explain why they made Canadian Pontiacs with Ch*vy drivetrains. The practice continued for some years thereafter. Actually it is quite easy to spot a Canadian Pontiac of this vintage (up to the early 70s) because they do not have the wide-track front tread since they use a Ch*vy chassis. Looks kind of dumb, to be honest.

    My Cutlass was built in '67 and has a 350 Rocket that I would guess had to be made in Lansing even though the car was built in Oshawa. Why 1980s vintage G-bodies made here have 305 Ch*vys in them I cannot understand, though it is certainly accurate that they do. I don't know if they ever made Oldses up here with the 307. Maybe it was just easier to go with what they had available within the plant.

    [ Thanks to Greg Beaulieu, Rob Lewis, Thomas Martin for this information ]

    Classic / Vintage Car Insurance

    Here's some more stuff on insurance. This is not a complete list. I can't remember which is better, but I think an agreed value policy is better than stated value policy. The one where you need to have an appraisal completed is better, I think.

    There's an excellent article on collector car insurance in the July issue of "Automobile" magazine. The article also provided the following list of collector car insurers:

    Acordia Insurance Services 800-648-1600
    American Collectors Insurance 800-360-2277
    Condon & Skelly 800-257-9496
    The Gorsline Company 716-232-3725
    Grundy Worldwide 800-338-4005
    Hagerty Classic Insurance 800-922-4050
    Heacock Insurance Group 800-678-5173
    K & K Insurance 800-548-0858
    Leland West InsuranceBrokers 800-237-4722
    Parish Motorsports Insurance 800-274-1804
    J.C. Taylor Antique Auto Insurance 800-345-8290
    [ Thanks to Howard Hosenbold for this information. ]

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