I haven’t been outside to work on the Roadmaster much over the last little while. It’s been too darn cold for the most part, and I’ve been nursing some back problems. I moved the Pontiac out of the garage and cleaned up in there a little bit. I’m a bit of a hoarder and the garage is packed full of electronic equipment from my various adventures. These are all items that I had planned to sell on eBay. Most of them are either not selling, or too bulky to ship so there they sit, getting in the way of my automotive projects. The garage is pretty tiny, so I installed a wall mounted tire rack to store the Roadmaster’s summer tires on. Needless to say, the following morning, my back was very displeased at having had to do all that work. I’ve been just chilling and surfing the ‘Net shopping for parts and seeing what other folks are doing to resolve some of the problems I want to address when the warmer weather arrives. After the transmission repair, it’s tough to justify shopping for parts but, at the very least, I’m getting a good shopping list ready.
The transmission wound up being a pretty major repair. The guys as Mister Transmission here are top notch. Cory and Ken have been handling drivetrains here for over 20 years and seem to instinctively know what needs to be done. I called them to set up a time and they took the wagon in an hour later. Once I spoke with Ken, I knew that the Roadmaster was in good hands and I didn’t mind leaving it there for a couple of days. Following the diagnostics, Cory gave me a call at work to deliver the bad news. I believe the exact quote was “I have no idea how this car got here under it’s own power”. It seems that the previous owner had done a bit of disguise work to make me believe there weren’t any issues. Based upon the damage that they found, the pan should have had way more shavings in it than it did, and the fluid had clearly been changed recently. It seems I got suckered. I knew I would want to do a lot of work to the car, and that would include the transmission, but I had hoped to putz away with the little cosmetic things that I could do on my own for a while before a major expense cropped up. After the repairs, Cory was more than happy to explain what had been done, and give me more insight on the upgrades that I had asked for. No reason in putting the transmission exactly back the way it was if I can make a few improvements at the same time…right? I’m a pretty big fan of stock vehicles, so I’m not looking to go hog-wild but if I can make the transmission operate a little better and/or last a little longer then that’s what I’ll do. Ken and Cory knew right away what I was looking for and upgraded the critical parts to some that will operate a little above the OEM part specs to keep the temperature down and they added a shift kit to get rid of a little of that slushbox overlap and make the gear changes a little smoother. The bill was pretty hefty, given that I’ve only had the car two months, and it seems this particular Roadmaster is going to make me work for my operational comfort level. In all, I’m happy knowing that I’ve at least made some improvements to the car rather than just having it suffer through the winter before I can start making changes in the spring/summer.
I’ve been visiting RoadMonster.org a lot lately. Not only is the Roadmonster easily the nicest stock-looking Roadmaster I’ve ever seen, Stewart’s other projects are all top notch. If you love seeing cars well cared for, and appreciate attention to detail, then this is really worth checking out, not only for the Roadmonster, but Stewart’s other cars as well as his tips and tricks.
My parts list is growing, and I’m keeping a task list of small items that I want resolved on the Roadmaster when I get to it. The car is really in good shape, but wasn’t particularly well cared for apart from regular maintenance and yearly undercoating. Some of the stainless trim on the body has been wrinkled. It looks like the car has been hit in several places, but only enough to damage the stainless trim. I’ve not found evidence of any accident reports and the car itself looks undamaged but the trim is badly dinged in spots, it’s really strange. I’m hoping to get all of that smoothed out and polished or replaced as need be. I would really love to remove the wood trim and get it recoated. The peeling vinyl is really beginning to bother me. The gang over at StationWagonForums.com have some stellar tips on repairing/replacing the wood trim so commonly found on wagons. It’s not dissimilar to the household faux-finishing you see on the Home & Garden shows, but I really want to have a go at it anyway.
In all, I think I just really want/need to give it a good cleaning. The engine compartment and carpeting are absolutely filthy. During my electrical troubleshooting, I found that there is some floor pan rust under the drivers side carpet so I’d like to get the seats and carpet out of there and get that stripped and painted or cleaned and sealed with Rust Encapsulator as soon as I can to avoid any problems. Certainly the underpad needs to be changed as it has been wet a long time. Hopefully the super powered Carpet Cleaner over at Griot’s Garage will clean the carpeting for me and that will go a long way towards making the car look new again.
I found a few cool details about my Roadmaster over at CompNine the other day. It seems that just over 8800 Roadmaster wagons were made in 1994. Of those 8800 only 308 of them were built for the Canadian market. Canada requires a metric speedometer, daytime running lights, and a few other safety features. Of the units that were shipped to Canada only 22 of them had the same paint colour as mine. I haven’t figured out just what is different yet, but it seems that out of all of the 1994 Roadmaster Estate’s out there there were no others built with all of the exact same options as mine. It could be something as simple as the original purchaser opted to order, or not to order, floor mats or something silly like that, but it’s kinda cool to think that it might practically be one of a kind.