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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
Some updates with pictures!
129617

First picture is where I found out that the gear in the transmission DOES NOT turn. If I turn the cable with a drill counter clockwise from the part that screws into the transmission, it DOES make the speedometer move. So the gear in the tranny is bad (any idea where I can get one?)
129618

2nd pic, as you can see is my instrument panel. The lights work, the volts gauge bounces on turning the key, and then slowly climbs while running. Doesn't get all that high though, not to 13 anyway. Oil pressure seems to work though hard to tell when the needle is broke lol. Everything else stayed the same, although this time pressing on the bottom right corner of the dash pod made the volts gauge jump around. INTERESTING FIND THOUGH: if I turn the coolant temp needle up to say 220 it'll stay there, and then when I turn the key on, it jumps back down under 100 which tells me it does seem to have power! So maybe the sender IS bad? Now what next lol
129619

3rd pic is 2 wire 02 sensor
129620

Lastly, random black wire coming out of the bulkhead connector. I cleaned up the ground by the e-brake really well and saw no change on the dash either. Any info appreciated as always, these are my findings so far.
 

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BKardell, when you come right down to it, our prized vehicles are old! Your vehicle is 39 years old! There is no telling what previous owners have replaced or modified and that is the hard part in getting your gauges, and your 81 as a whole, operating properly.

You seem to have the right temperament and drive needed to restore what is mainly troubleshooting.

Guys: have we established whether his 81 has an ECM? Did 81's have ECM? Some of the pictures with disconnected sensors (CTS, broken Q-jet carb, etc) appear to indicate a non-ECM vehicle. It could well be that this motor was from a later model vehicle which did have an ECM.

As an aside, I am in the process of upgrading from idiot lights to full gauges. This modernization requires swapping out the printed circuit board (PCB) behind the gauge pod. While in LA right before the COVID-19 shutdowns, I visited OPGI and purchased a new PCB (less than $100) along with the water temp and oil pressure sensors. When ordering, be aware and careful because there are 2 different PCB layouts...one is longer and narrower than the other. I will also replace the bulbs with LEDs.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
BKardell, when you come right down to it, our prized vehicles are old! Your vehicle is 39 years old! There is no telling what previous owners have replaced or modified and that is the hard part in getting your gauges, and your 81 as a whole, operating properly.

You seem to have the right temperament and drive needed to restore what is mainly troubleshooting.

Guys: have we established whether his 81 has an ECM? Did 81's have ECM? Some of the pictures with disconnected sensors (CTS, broken Q-jet carb, etc) appear to indicate a non-ECM vehicle. It could well be that this motor was from a later model vehicle which did have an ECM.

As an aside, I am in the process of upgrading from idiot lights to full gauges. This modernization requires swapping out the printed circuit board (PCB) behind the gauge pod. While in LA right before the COVID-19 shutdowns, I visited OPGI and purchased a new PCB (less than $100) along with the water temp and oil pressure sensors. When ordering, be aware and careful because there are 2 different PCB layouts...one is longer and narrower than the other. I will also replace the bulbs with LEDs.
I'm not 100% sure if I have a computer though I do have all the dash lights and plug ins on my carb. Going to keep plucking away and see what else I can find
 

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wtg BK

So the gear in the tranny is bad (any idea where I can get one?)
theres 2 gears in there, drive gear and driven gear, and a retainer clip..
there not allways broke, sometimes the drive gear / clip just
slides down the shaft and falls out..
loosen the bolt/keeper and pull the speedo bullet out,,
see whats wrong, see if the drive gear is still there or not,
and go from there..
little different design, later model pic..
tr 700 elec to cable.jpg

The lights work,
although this time pressing on the bottom right corner of the dash pod made the volts gauge jump around.
if I turn the coolant temp needle up to say 220 it'll stay there, and then when I turn the key on, it jumps back down under 100 which tells me it does seem to have power! So maybe the sender IS bad?
Now what next lol
theres 4-5 or different power sources in the pod, but only 1 ground,
dash light power, gauge, turn indicator, clock,
so if the Gauge fuse power goes thru a light, switch, gauge,
all the power wires are connected thru the ground, sometimes
you get a lower voltage back-feed power.. just sayin electricity is strange..

you can put a ohm meter on the temp sender, see if it changes from hot to cold..
the range is like 1500 cold to 50 ohms hot.. could be several things..
i'v seen the wire break inside the insulation from vibration at the terminal too,
and could just be the dirt and oil on the sender grounding out the signal,,
or the sender to the block ground thru the sender threads..

the fact that the volt gauge bounces around when you wiggle the pod
says your getting closer, the connection could be better,,
could be wiggling the volt gauge too,,
or could be the power or the ground or the signal wire in the pod connector..
.
.
as for having a computer and it working or not ??
check the Distributor, see if it has the big extra 4wire connector going to
the computer harness that goes to the pass side firewall under the AC box..
the other connector goes to the distributor cap/coil in the cap..
and usually the distributor will-NOT have a vacuum advance can..
hei comp plug.jpg

more pics cant hurt..
might save some of our questions later too..
 

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Discussion Starter #26
wtg BK


theres 2 gears in there, drive gear and driven gear, and a retainer clip..
there not allways broke, sometimes the drive gear / clip just
slides down the shaft and falls out..
loosen the bolt/keeper and pull the speedo bullet out,,
see whats wrong, see if the drive gear is still there or not,
and go from there..
little different design, later model pic..
View attachment 129629


theres 4-5 or different power sources in the pod, but only 1 ground,
dash light power, gauge, turn indicator, clock,
so if the Gauge fuse power goes thru a light, switch, gauge,
all the power wires are connected thru the ground, sometimes
you get a lower voltage back-feed power.. just sayin electricity is strange..

you can put a ohm meter on the temp sender, see if it changes from hot to cold..
the range is like 1500 cold to 50 ohms hot.. could be several things..
i'v seen the wire break inside the insulation from vibration at the terminal too,
and could just be the dirt and oil on the sender grounding out the signal,,
or the sender to the block ground thru the sender threads..

the fact that the volt gauge bounces around when you wiggle the pod
says your getting closer, the connection could be better,,
could be wiggling the volt gauge too,,
or could be the power or the ground or the signal wire in the pod connector..
.
.
as for having a computer and it working or not ??
check the Distributor, see if it has the big extra 4wire connector going to
the computer harness that goes to the pass side firewall under the AC box..
the other connector goes to the distributor cap/coil in the cap..
and usually the distributor will-NOT have a vacuum advance can..
View attachment 129630

more pics cant hurt..
might save some of our questions later too..
JJLT1,

your expertise is appreciated. I work today and will begin more teardown/ testing once I am home. Will give everything you mentioned a shot and will update with pics and statues of what I find. Thank you again JJ. Stay tuned 🤓
 

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Discussion Starter #27
UPDATE! After pulling apart the dash and tracing the problem using continuity all the way to the circuit panel behind the cluster i did some checking and VOILA! Coolant temp gauge is in working order. Minus some broken needles (adds to the character) she's good to go. Can't thank you all enough. Now to track down some oil leaks, and driver side ticking issues. The list goes on 😂
 

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Yes, Bkardell, your perseverance and patience is paying off!! Good Job!!

As I mentioned, these cars are old and so are all of the plastic pieces in the housing. Be careful because they will break easily. Here's one tip I learned a while back. When re-installing screws into plastics, turn the screw slowly counter-clockwise until you feel a slight click or bump--that is the beginning of the old thread in the plastic. Once you find the beginning to the thread, proceed slowly and gently tighten the screw...do not over-tighten. You want to find the old thread path because, otherwise, the screws may cut a new thread and further weaken the attachment point.

Getting back to gauges...because of this thread, I fiddled with my gauges this weekend and installed the new PCB. It was kind of nerve wracking removing and reinstalling the clips that make the connection between the gauge pod and the PCB. Luckily, I had collected several dashes over the years and was able to swap stuff around. I didn't get around to installing the water temp and oil pressure sensors but I am glad to see voltage/recharge readings in lieu of nothing. Both the water and oil gauges are pegged to the right until I get the sensors installed.

Question for Bill and JJ: My new water temp sensor is a single wire while my old, current connector has 2-wires (yellow and black). Is the switch over as simple as using only the yellow wire with a spade connector? As for the oil pressure sensor, the new sensor has only a single connector while the old connector has 4-wires. Because my '87 has a computer, is there an engine cut-off circuit when oil pressure drops? Again, since the new oil pressure sensor has only a single wire, which one do I use and how do I address the other wires, if indeed, there is an engine cut-off circuit?

My apologies to Bkardell for tapping into Bill's and JJ's expertise. BTW, is Kardell your last name? What's your first name... I'm Blaine. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
wtg BK
when you get to the trans/speedo youll need to know what trans..
look at the pan and count the bolts..
link> Trans ID

and thin flat tooth-picks for the broke gauge needles ..

ticking could be a exhaust leak, or a rocker arm, maybe ??
I am planning on getting under there and making sure all the exhaust bolts are tight, as well as upon a cold startup checking for leaks before the motor gets hot. Also, going to try listening to the valve cover with a stethoscope to see if that's where all the noise is coming from!

Yes, Bkardell, your perseverance and patience is paying off!! Good Job!!

As I mentioned, these cars are old and so are all of the plastic pieces in the housing. Be careful because they will break easily. Here's one tip I learned a while back. When re-installing screws into plastics, turn the screw slowly counter-clockwise until you feel a slight click or bump--that is the beginning of the old thread in the plastic. Once you find the beginning to the thread, proceed slowly and gently tighten the screw...do not over-tighten. You want to find the old thread path because, otherwise, the screws may cut a new thread and further weaken the attachment point.

Getting back to gauges...because of this thread, I fiddled with my gauges this weekend and installed the new PCB. It was kind of nerve wracking removing and reinstalling the clips that make the connection between the gauge pod and the PCB. Luckily, I had collected several dashes over the years and was able to swap stuff around. I didn't get around to installing the water temp and oil pressure sensors but I am glad to see voltage/recharge readings in lieu of nothing. Both the water and oil gauges are pegged to the right until I get the sensors installed.

Question for Bill and JJ: My new water temp sensor is a single wire while my old, current connector has 2-wires (yellow and black). Is the switch over as simple as using only the yellow wire with a spade connector? As for the oil pressure sensor, the new sensor has only a single connector while the old connector has 4-wires. Because my '87 has a computer, is there an engine cut-off circuit when oil pressure drops? Again, since the new oil pressure sensor has only a single wire, which one do I use and how do I address the other wires, if indeed, there is an engine cut-off circuit?

My apologies to Bkardell for tapping into Bill's and JJ's expertise. BTW, is Kardell your last name? What's your first name... I'm Blaine. Thanks.
Brandon Kardell is the name! And not a problem, I am glad the thread was of help to you and your Elco! Its nice to meet ya 🙂
 

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there is places where a stethoscope works good and there is
places where the old 3or 4ft piece of heater hose works better, try both..
.
.
When re-installing screws into plastics, turn the screw slowly counter-clockwise until you feel a slight click or bump--that is the beginning of the old thread in the plastic. Once you find the beginning to the thread, proceed slowly and gently tighten the screw...do not over-tighten. You want to find the old thread path because, otherwise, the screws may cut a new thread and further weaken the attachment point.
very good tip, everyone should write that down..

my old, current connector has 2-wires (yellow and black). Is the switch over as simple as using only the yellow wire with a spade connector?
87 wiring is different, never had one, I don't have a book/diagram..
usually
the yell/blk connector on the intake is for CTS coolant temp sensor for the computer,
it just goes to the ECM not the gauge on CCC Carb and V6 EFI cars..
the gauge or temp light should be a green wire, on the sender or switch in the head..

oil pressure sensor, the new sensor has only a single connector while the old connector has 4-wires. Because my '87 has a computer, is there an engine cut-off circuit when oil pressure drops?
oil pressure switch by the distributor on a
V8 CCC Carb was a 3wire switch for the oil light, choke light
and/or a engine warning light, I forget..
the oil switch would kill the choke heater with the key on and no oil pressure..
the oil pressure had its own sender with 1 tan wire, down by the oil filter..

the V6 is different, maybe a 4wire switch, never had one..
on a V6 EFI and later V8 EFI cars/trucks i'v had, they have no choke so it powers
the fuel pump / relay also, fuel pump gets power/relay trigger from the ECM too..
.
.
PS.. I really hate this new reply editor sometimes.. ok most of the time..
I think I lost something in there, but cant remember what it was..
better than the old one tho, it would delete the whole post when you hit post reply..
 

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Glad to meet you Brandon. You'll learn and find a LOT of help on this site.

Thanks for info JJ. Good to know, '87s are different. I'll look around for specific tach info. As I was reading your response, I recalled that there are 2 water temp sensors and I had looked at the wrong one. Like our cars, age brings along memory lapses. :ROFLMAO:

Wasn't aware of an oil sensor down by the filter. I'll look for it and decide how to install the new sensor which is the size of a small tomato paste can. You are correct regarding V6 with EFI having an cut off to fuel pump. I restored a '92 S-10 and rebuilt the V6 with TBI. I really like that feature.

Stay safe guys!
 

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Discussion Starter #34
there is places where a stethoscope works good and there is
places where the old 3or 4ft piece of heater hose works better, try both..
.
.

very good tip, everyone should write that down..


87 wiring is different, never had one, I don't have a book/diagram..
usually
the yell/blk connector on the intake is for CTS coolant temp sensor for the computer,
it just goes to the ECM not the gauge on CCC Carb and V6 EFI cars..
the gauge or temp light should be a green wire, on the sender or switch in the head..


oil pressure switch by the distributor on a
V8 CCC Carb was a 3wire switch for the oil light, choke light
and/or a engine warning light, I forget..
the oil switch would kill the choke heater with the key on and no oil pressure..
the oil pressure had its own sender with 1 tan wire, down by the oil filter..

the V6 is different, maybe a 4wire switch, never had one..
on a V6 EFI and later V8 EFI cars/trucks i'v had, they have no choke so it powers
the fuel pump / relay also, fuel pump gets power/relay trigger from the ECM too..
.
.
PS.. I really hate this new reply editor sometimes.. ok most of the time..
I think I lost something in there, but cant remember what it was..
better than the old one tho, it would delete the whole post when you hit post reply..
UPDATE!

I have a driver side exhaust leak right after the manifold where it meets the down pipe which is good news! I'll soak those bolts and get after a new donut gasket in short order. Took it for a test drive the other day and she got a little warm (225ish) and so I brought it home to find the fan clutch was TOAST. Replaced it, and no issues now. Stays around 180-190 ALWAYS. NOW, NEW PROBLEM WAS FOUND. The car surges/stutters under light acceleration around the 1-2 shift which is really weird. I can floor it at 50, and she takes off just fine. Under light acceleration though around that 1/2 shift it surges and seems to lose power. I don't have any catalytic converters, going to do spark plugs today (even though they look to be okay). Im not sure where else to look. If it has something to do with the tranny fluid which is super clean and pink, the kickdown cable maybe? Hard to explain but its surging around the 1/2 shift and its like power comes in and out. Just wondering if anyone has experienced anything like this before. Will update again after new spark plugs, thanks
 

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Don't mess with the trans cable yet (this could control line pressures in transmission and can cause serious issues if set wrong). This seems like a fuel problem. There are idle, off-idle, power, accelerator circuits,etc. in the carburetor. On your carburetor, it looks like it is electronically controlled also. I would try some fuel cleaner in a tank of gas as a quick easy first step. Wait for some experts to weigh in here.
 

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Brandon, if your carb is a Quadra-Jet that could be your problem. A QJet carb has different fuel circuits for low and high speed situations. Try some carb/fuel cleaner in the gas tank. If that doesn't clear things up, maybe time for a carb rebuild or replacement. If you do decide on a replacement, check with Mountain Man Carbs.

 

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Discussion Starter #38
wtg BK
might need to soak them for a week or so, may take some heat too..
if you have a impact turn it down, and bump the nuts in and out to work them loose..

check for vacuum leaks too, lots of hoses on there they get hard and brittle / crack..
Don't mess with the trans cable yet (this could control line pressures in transmission and can cause serious issues if set wrong). This seems like a fuel problem. There are idle, off-idle, power, accelerator circuits,etc. in the carburetor. On your carburetor, it looks like it is electronically controlled also. I would try some fuel cleaner in a tank of gas as a quick easy first step. Wait for some experts to weigh in here.
Brandon, if your carb is a Quadra-Jet that could be your problem. A QJet carb has different fuel circuits for low and high speed situations. Try some carb/fuel cleaner in the gas tank. If that doesn't clear things up, maybe time for a carb rebuild or replacement. If you do decide on a replacement, check with Mountain Man Carbs.

Turns out that starting cheap is always the way to go. Took my father in law on a ride (has owned over 60+ cars, many from the 70s-80s back when you could pick them up for $50 and drive em till they died!) He said, "it sounds like you are starving for fuel, have you checked your fuel filter?". We pulled that thing out, and it basically fell to pieces. The inside of the filter looked like someone had painted it with tar! $1.99 later and VOILA! SHE RUNS LIKE A MILLION BUCKS!!! I will replace this new fuel filter with oem one soon, just want to make sure i clear all that old gunk out first. I have a good amount of seafoam (my personal favorite) in the gas tank and now in the fuel pump, lines and carb. Beyond happy with how the project is going so far, and can't wait to enjoy the hell out of this thing. Now to find some leaks (I know the timing cover seal is leaking, as well as power steering leak but the lines look dry? Maybe a seal?). Overall, for buying my first classic car, I dont regret 1 dime of the money I paid. Thank you all for the help. Will continue updating as time goes on 😀
 

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Congrats Brandon!!! You will definitely enjoy driving and getting all the looks, mostly admiration of folks who know it is an El Camino.

Keep on Crucking!
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Update!
The old girl got some new aesthetic parts under the hood and I love the way it looks! It had an oily, old 9 inch wide, 2 inch tall round filter on it which I upgraded to 10x2.75. Also got some new valve covers and gaskets as mine were quite rusty and beat up! Now, the bad news. Something must have been knocked loose or who knows while I was replacing the air filter assembly or the valve covers. I removed the breather hose that went from the passenger side valve cover to the air intake and plugged the new intakes hole, and put a breather filter in the valve cover. The driver side is installed and pcv plugged in just like it was. WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID, it has a poor idle. Its not awful, but enough to shake the car at stoplights as well as you can hear the exhaust kind of popping and quietly puffing like it's idling poorly. What's the easiest way to go about this? Its not like I did deep surgery. I checked the egr valve and it appears to be tight to the intake manifold (don't know if that could be the issue even??). Anyway, some diagnostic wisdom is welcomed, as what I will probably start by doing is spraying carb cleaner around vacuum hoses once it's completely cooled off (likely in the morning) to see if it revs up or dies. I appreciate it in advance, thanks everyone

129874
 
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