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Thread: 1989 Cutlass Cruiser

  1. #16
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    Just documenting some of the things I've gathered for it and done over the winter so far. Still too cold to do much of anything in the garage.

    -New tires are in the back, for when I get my rims final sanded. Working on those in the house every now and then.
    -Thanks to a thread here, I fixed my tachometer, and my trip odometer that wouldn't reset.
    -Got a blue maplight dome light from a member here.
    -Got the missing emblem for the passenger side fender.
    -Working on either fixing the ashtray with new rails made from UHMW, or making a totally new bracket for the CD changer face.
    -Got a set of mudflaps with Oldsmobile and rocket logo, since one was missing anyway. Want to minimize stone chips.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans



  2. #17
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    Northwest Lower Michigan
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    Last week I started breaking things loose on the new engine, spark plugs anti-seized, etc. Broke small bolt on cooling pipe atop water pump, drilled out and retapped. Stripped torx locator pin on AC bracket, but got bracket off after mostly drilling out pin. Pin can still be used.

    Since Friday been working on the Cruiser every day. Previous engine swaps for some reason were easier to get exhaust downpipe bolts out. These were a pain, had to use a few extensions and 2 u-joints.

    Old engine is out, working on cleaning up new engine. Painted coolant tubes and oil pan yesterday. Painting exhaust manifolds tomorrow. Cleaning up valve covers and plenum next, then painting block. Oil pan on new engine had a couple dents and rust holes from sitting so cleaned up old pan which was in much better shape. Old engine had water in oil. And as clean as the rest of the car was, the engine cradle and trans was covered in deep sludge and oil. Found some bits of fur or insulation in engine compartment, found dead mouse buried in sludge. Heater and brake vacuum hose had oil film on them. Cleaned all that up. Bottom engine mount was chewed up, got new one. Heater core was full of rust (mostly water in cooling system, drained for winter) so new one is going in while hoses are easier to get to. Radiator is already almost new. Distributor o-ring was supposed to be here today, will change that when I get it, before putting engine in.

    With any luck I'll have the new engine in by Sunday, but I'm taking my time to do things well, so it might be next week sometime. After that, I'll put my gauges back in and dash back together before starting it up. Should change trans fluid and filter while cooler has already been drained, after engine is in and my jack is out from under the trans pan. Also putting on new trans hoses, old ones are cracked.

    Really looking forward to getting this engine done. I'll get some pics. Then I can work on the other things as I get to them. Also found out the passenger front wheelwell plastic has a huge crack and is basically split in two. Pretty sure a guy at work has a plastic welder and maybe we can fix that sometime.
    Last edited by tlc1976; 03-20-2019 at 05:16 AM.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  3. #18
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    Feb 2019
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    1988 cutlass cruiser
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    I just acquired a 1988 cruiser, woody ice blue with same interior. Mine is in unbelievable shape as well and a 2.8. I took that same cluster from a 86 2.5 cierra at the yard. Can you direct me to info I need to get my cluster ready for install. I did go back and pull the two temp senders on the 2.5, one in the block and one on the thermostat housing. I think the oil sender is on the rear of the block and I wasn?t prepared to get that deep that day. I need a hood and want to upgrade my wheels and need the wing nut apparatus for the breather cover. I have not run across an intake system like mine yet in the yard. I like the white, had a white 99 surburban, white is a great color in the southern summers.

  4. #19
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    Northwest Lower Michigan
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    Congrats on a nice find.

    I don't think the senders on the 2.5 are the same as the 2.8. For the 2.8, the temp gauge sender is on the drivers side back corner of the block, going in at a diagonal. #TS197 should be the correct part for this. It has 2 wires, one for the gauge and one for the light. You might be able to rig up another sensor to fit, I've done it a couple times.

    I think the 1987-88 2.8 used 2 oil senders, one next to the oil filter and one on the top of the block on the drivers side, near the end of the camshaft. Unfortunately I don't know which one does which functions (gauge, light, fuel pump control). I discovered this when I put a 1988 2.8 into my 1989 6000. The 1989 engine only uses the one by the oil filter, so I put a pipe plug into the one atop the block.

    The tach from the 2.5 probably won't read right with your 2.8, being a different number of cylinders. If you feel adventurous you can modify it to work, the instructions in a thread here are really good. Which is probably the best bet, since many times these old tachs need repair to read right anyway.

    I think 1988 was the last year for the cable driven speedometer, so you should be good that way.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  5. #20
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    Feb 2019
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    1988 cutlass cruiser
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    If you can link me to the tach thread that would be great. A 1988 cierra at the yard actually had the electronic speedo version. I looked for it on my return trip but did not see it either. I had pulled it and tossed it in the back seat. I might run across another if forum members are interested. At 30 bucks out the door not cheap. One of the temp units I pulled had a 2 wire packard connector and the one in the block was single stacon. I ordered cat back exhaust for mine. Waiting on the tailpipe. Went with stock quite. Summit price matched rock auto. I also found front loaded struts on amazon for 52 each/only 1 available. Summit matched that for a pair also so about half the 120ish retail. The rock auto Gabriel?s I put on the rear seem weak. Maybe it needs the struts to be right. I was thinking I would have to get an alignment even replacing loaded struts, is that right? I was going to just deal with it till I wear out the existing tires unless alignment holds with loaded struts. Can you verse me on the better hoods to look for and I assume nothing but an olds hood interchanges? Thanks for the advice.

  6. #21
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    Northwest Lower Michigan
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    https://www.a-body.net/forums/showth...Cluster-Repair
    This was the thread I used to repair 2 different issues with my cluster, including the tach.

    The temp gauge sender has 2 wires coming off it. With a 2 place connector. One wire is for the temp light, and one is for the temp gauge. The one currently in my Cruiser came from a 1989 Grand Prix. It has one wire for the gauge only. I stuck the connector together good enough to try it out for awhile and run my gauge. I had another from a Beretta once in my 6000 which takes the same sender as the Ciera. I had to swap the wires to make my temp gauge work while fitting the connector.

    Yes you need an alignment after loaded struts, since the strut-to-knuckle bolts are a main part in alignment. Especially with new struts because you don't have dirt/rust marks where the bolts used to be. You can get it close by leveling the car on a pair of jackstands, securing down the brake rotor and putting a level on it, and adjusting the strut-to-knuckle connection until the rotor is plumb before fully tightening the big bolts. If the car was in alignment to begin with, that will get you close. You could go a step farther and lower the car, run it back and forth a little, straighten the steering wheel, and carefully sight down both sides and adjust the tie rods until the wheels look parallel. This is poor man's alignment which is what I do. But the tie rods are usually EXTREMELY stuck, so I'd recommend take it to a shop and let them deal with that when they do the alignment.

    Pretty sure only a Ciera hood fits, and only certain years. What's wrong with the hood? Is it kinked from the poor design prop rod? Get a prop rod from I believe a 1992-96 Ciera, it is very similar to the rod on the 6000. Much better design and it will bolt right on, and hooks nicely into one of the existing hood holes.

    Put the new heater core in the Cruiser tonight. Found the old one was leaking a bit so glad I replaced it. More difficult since last time I did one, considering I'm older and have bad discs in my lower back. Though it might also be because the car was on ramps. Also lost my nice thinwall 7mm socket, after fighting with my other one, ended up grinding it down to a thinner wall. Exhaust shields and crossover are being painted now, will clearcoat the cleaned up valve covers and plenum top tomorrow. Every time I paint something, the rest of it looks worse so I want to paint more parts. But I have to do it after hours at work where it's warm enough. Distributor o-ring was brittle, glad I replaced that. Proper temp sender from Rockauto will be here tomorrow.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  7. #22
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    Northwest Lower Michigan
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    Just about got everything ready to drop the engine in. Valve covers and plenum turned out nice. I'll post pics when I'm done, the off site pic hosting is a real hassle. Tomorrow I'm going to paint the EGR base with the exhaust silver since I've got some left over. That's it for the paint. I decided not to paint the block. The front will be almost totally covered up with things, and the back won't be seen. It would take a long time to get warm enough to do that anyway.

    The AC/dogbone bracket torx locator bolt that I stripped, I figured out a good fix. I got a M10x1.25x40mm hex bolt from the parts store. Then at work I used a piece of 14mm round stock 1 1/16" long, and drilled a 25/64 hole through it so the thread engagement is the same as the stock part, and only has a few thousands of clearance to the bolt. It stands out enough where the bracket clears the hex of the bolt, and also clears my 17mm socket. The original bolt shoulder was .551 OD, same as 14mm.

    Today I used a stiff plastic bristle brush to clean the oily muddy mess out of the looms. They dried out pretty nice with all the junk out. Then put the heater lines back in. Then replaced the trans lines. One of the aux cooler nipples snapped. Thankfully I saved the aux cooler from the 6000 wagon I scrapped, so I found it, straightened the fins, and swapped it in. I also swapped the injectors from the old engine, as I know they run good and haven't been sitting for years. The previous owner said he replaced them and indeed they look newer, and the ends don't look like the factory injectors, but they ohm test at 12 just like the other ones.

    Both my crank sensors have hardened o-rings, but are otherwise fine. So going to get a couple o-rings tomorrow. Thinking about ordering a camshaft cover seal, just because it's easy to get at now and if it ever leaked, the engine would have to come out.

    Just taking my time with this one, enjoying doing this in a garage for the first time. My other 2 engine swaps were in the dirt. My yard is still deep with snow and my driveway is still a bed of ice, so I'm not in a hurry to drive the car anytime soon. It's not bitter cold anymore but still cold. I have a diesel fueled torpedo heater which heats it up pretty good, but it's costing me a lot in fuel. Yesterday I picked up a woodstove with outside air kit which I will install over the summer, as I have 5 acres of free wood. I've heated with wood most of my life.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  8. #23
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    Oct 2013
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    Northwest Lower Michigan
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    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door 3.1, 1989 Cutlass Cruiser 3.1
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    Using Imagevenue now. Nice super basic site which works on my slow connection. Nice that I can actually view my own thread in full now due to the thumbs.


    Empty engine bay. All cleaned up (at least the areas I can't get to with the engine in).


    New engine front. Ready to go in, so less plenum and any parts that could break on the way in.


    New engine rear. Ditto.


    Sanded and clearcoated plenum. Most of the black paint was missing. So I used a sharpie before clearcoating it.


    What's left of the old engine. Had water in the oil, oil in at least one cylinder. Whole thing was a sludgy mess. Been cleaning up all the individual parts as I go.

    Other than getting pics, didn't do much tonight as I'm waiting for the painted EGR valve bases to dry. Put the new o-rings on the crank sensors and tested both, they are good. The tensioner pulley was fine but noisy, so I used a grease gun needle and shot grease behind the bearing seal. Nice and quiet now.
    Last edited by tlc1976; 03-27-2019 at 12:39 AM. Reason: New pic hosting site
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  9. #24

    Pontiac6ksteawd's Avatar
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    If that bearing is noisy, I would just replace it. Its just a matter of time before it does fail now.
    Brian - Carpe Diem

    I dont have to love my president, or any god, to love my country!!
    More people have died in the name of "God" than in all wars combined thruout history
    01 Pontiac Aztek GT AWD 125k - 04 GMC Envoy SLT XUV 192k - 05 Buick Rendezvous CXL Sport Plus 61k

  10. #25
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    It wasn't noisy with the engine running. No squeals, chirps, anything. No binding or excessive play. It was just dry when spun by hand, so I gave it some grease. I thought about replacing it but it's easy enough to get to where I can replace it down the road if needed.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  11. #26
    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlc1976 View Post
    No squeals, chirps, anything......replace it down the road if needed.
    Penny wise...pound foolish. My driving is rural, with about 12 to 45 miles per trip one way, mostly, so I ain't got time for preventable breakdowns.

    If I lived and drove within a city of modest size, I might consider skinflint ways.

  12. #27
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    If there were any signs of it actually being worn out, then I'd have put on a new one no question. But it was in great shape other than needing grease. Even the seals were still nice and pliable.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  13. #28
    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlc1976 View Post
    needing grease.
    I'm fully aware of Bearing OEMs only putting a little dab of grease on their products. For vehicle OEMs, they spec out how much grease will be applied. I've seen industrial type bearings shoot craps within one year...due to a lack of grease.

    Front wheel hub bearings, for instance, can last more than 250,000 miles, but many run dry around 100,000 miles, and/or within ten or so years.

    For a daily local driver, there's nothing wrong with being a skinflint, but for dependable "over the road" usage, I don't want to deal with preventable breakdowns.

  14. #29
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    Engine almost done. Need to install radiator and airbox (airbox currently getting painted). This weekend I will change the trans fluid and filter while the coolers are already drained. Was going to change it last year but never got a chance with everything going on.

    I've been cleaning up every part before I put it back on. When the snow is gone and it's warm enough to use the garden hose, I'll clean all the rest of the underhood surfaces really good with engine cleaner. Then it will look as good under the hood as it does everywhere else. Also want to replace the underhood insulation at some point, before it gets hot out.
    Last edited by tlc1976; 03-30-2019 at 03:46 AM.
    1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
    1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
    1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
    1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
    Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

  15. #30
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Great progress! The cleaning and detailing is so laborious in a project like this, but it is the most visually appealing. It also makes future diagnosis and repairs so much easier, without immediately getting filthy and greasy. I don't even like to open anything dirty for fear of internal contamination anymore.
    Jerry

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