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For the record, this is a full copy of my original build from TCCA that I am bringing over here after talking to Bull Geek at the October Meet, so here it is from the get go:


For $500 I saved this 89K Mile car from the scrapyard. The last few years is when it started racking up miles by the son after his mother passed. Those were rough years. This is how it generally sits in the garage:


Well optioned for a '89 compared to my well optioned '97 Grand Marquis, except the latter is in much better condition right now.


It even has digi-dash, but System Scanner has seen its way out, or maybe just its back light (camera decided it didn't want to steady out).


So the battery died. I jumped it off and got it out of the garage and washed it. The previous owner knocked the passenger side trim off and put it back on. With wood screws. angry.gif So my friend and I removed all of the trim except for the front 'SABLE' trim pieces.


My feelings about this, but by the end this should be completely different once it starts running and looking better.


One of the first fixes that needs to be performed right up next to the head gasket is this wonderful repair after a fender bender.

wol_error.gif This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image.


A shop actually charged to do that. WTF.

So this is my laundry list of things that should appear on this project thread:
-Repair head gasket.
-Repair front clip with junkyard clip.
-Replace hood.
-Replace all front headlamp and parklamp assemblies.
-Replace all gas assist shocks under hood, tailgate, and glass.
-Attempt to repair System Scanner on digital dash.
-Repair EATC screen.
-Repair rear windshield wiper; currently non-functional (fuse?)
-Get seat covers.
-New battery.
-New shocks.
-Get proper lug nuts to replace the busted off locking nuts.

Things I might do:
-Replace A/C Compressor and get belt for A/C.

I have all summer to work on this after school gets out and what I make at my part time job usually accumulates fast enough to do most of this in a reasonable amount of time. The Grand Marquis doesn't drink as much gas as most people think, so not all of money goes into its tank, so it means more parts for the Sable and a few mods for itself.

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Exciting things in store for the wagon soon! I'll post more as I know more. Jeff

Okay, let's get re-tracked.   Good news, I've suspended the sale.   Better news, it's not getting parted or scrapped.   The great news, I've priced up full head gasket kits I will probably be or

So going to put head gaskets on, and do what you can with the heads? That should be a nice car. Motor sounded good.

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Went ahead and took a look at the driver's side passenger door to figure out why it didn't work from the outside. It appears the right hand side pivot point has broken. At least on the plus side I found the lock plunger down in the door so I can tell if it is unlocked or not. (Sorry for no photos of this little operation.)

I moved along to the fender bender "repaired" area.

Keep in mind this was done by a shop.

I'd call this a temporary fix on a good day, but this happened in 2011.


The "fixes" removed. This is only some metal bent at angles with holes drilled through them and some sub-standard bolts inserted.

I guess now would be a good time to ask how to properly remove the head light assemblies so I don't do this and rig some crazy looking bolt to hold the light in. For the record, this was so bad it couldn't be aimed anywhere specific.


Sweet Jesus, what the **** is that noise?


So excessive bulb heat, electrical tape, and a junkyard light assembly is not the way to go. Fix it right, even if it is used, don't try to make something like this to fix. Fire hazard everywhere.

Headlight and corner out. At this time I'm also going to say I'm going to replace the fender, bumper (it's tattered on the bottom), along with the hood. See the pool of melted tape?


I even took out the front lightbar while I was at it to look at the damage of the panel that was supposed to hold the head light. Love the giant crack in it. The front lightbar needs some light bulbs right now. Is socket browning normal after 24 years?


Okay, so in terms of body work to be done is going to be the replacement of the hood, fender, and bumper. The trim shall be replaced down the side with some fresher looking trim. I have determined this car has the Dark Titanium Metallic Clearcoat with Titanium leather interior. Some might find the paint color nice, but I would rather change it to black or red during this project. The gray is just too sad looking for me.

Used and abused is all this car screams, but it has life still in it, I just have to get to fighting standards again and adhere to much closer maintenance intervals than my MGM.

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This project is slowly creaking ahead, however school is out and work is still in, so I'll have some more time to mess with this.

Seeing as how I haven't made it to the junkyard yet, I went ahead and made some less than notable fixes, but at least it's something:

-Removed, painted, and re-indexed wiper arms. Haven't gotten new blades yet, however the old frames were there so long they rusted at the joints.
-Wet-sanded and polished corner lights and front lightbar.
-Cleaned the interior thoroughly. I'm sad to say the bucket of water/Murphy Oil Soap turned gray in that process.
-Found how the passenger door handle is broken.
-Proceeding to swap in a set of 1970 Plymouth Valiant horns.
-Purchased running light bulbs for corners and lightbar.

Still on the major to do list:
-Register for the road.
-Get it to the shop for the head gasket.
-Replace hood and driver side fender.
-Replace passenger side hub, a stud and a half have been broken off.

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So the junkyard run was semi-successful, mostly in part because try to find a first generation Sable headlight panel is friggin' impossible.

Fender with mild dent - To be hammered out and filled/prepped.
Hood with paint chip - To be smoothed and prepped.
Badges (In Order) - 1990 'SABLE' from Sable, 2001 'LS' from Sable, 1984 'MERCURY' from Capri.

Missing Still:
Headlight Panel
Side Trim

Here's some work:

Stripped down side (My friend couldn't find his good floor jack and stands, so don't kill me over the scissor jack, but the tire had to come off!):


Took a while before I remembered to get a picture, so the lighting is crap.


Trying PlastiDip on B and C Pillars:


Test run for wheel idea (Corrosion galore, this is still better than what it was prior):


I'm also looking to replace the trashed steering wheel. Who knows how many splines the wheels is so I can compile a list of interchangeable ones. Personally I'd like to see if an LTD or Marquis wheel would fit from the 85'-89' models.

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After a nice visit with Bull Geek, I now have a decent steering wheel to replace the worn out one, along with a few other spare parts for a just in case situation.

Bull Geek told me the steering wheel wasn't mint, I told him it couldn't be any worse that what I already had.


Would you like your steering wheel with extra flaky crust?

Pro-Tip: Leather shouldn't look like that if you take care of it.

A bit of leather conditioner and some ArmorAll for the center pad and it looks pretty good.

Install is easy, however I seem to be incapable of getting a steady shot sometimes.


Here's something for things to come. I paid $4 at a junkyard for this and these retail for around $170. This project is going places.


Today was pretty good all things considered, dealing with driving rain, slow drivers, the drivers without lights on in the rain, and trying to keep time during the trip.

Also, I still have to give my thanks to Bull Geek for letting me stop by to get the parts, it's hard enough finding first generation models, and especially pre-airbag steering wheels!

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Now I usually would have a problem in saying, "Hey, lets go drill some whopping holes in a car!". However, this car was only $500 in junkyard ready condition, and the end goal is to have a one off looking... erm... thing. car. whatever.

So a bit of a back story as to how I got this splendid thing:


Well I went to the junkyard one fine day with a few friends, all of us with different end objectives, however we would attempt to help the others depending on what it was. Well the group was working on getting out the quarter glass on a Fox body Mustang and wasn't much room, so looked for what I could find, aside from the '90 Sable that would be donating a hood and fender soon. I was browsing the aisles and saw a '93 Crown Victoria with a door mounted spotlight, which was strange as most are post mounts. Then I realized this had a crappy black paint job and was an LX (P74) and not an Interceptor (P71), and was "whackered out" to look like an old cop car. Steelies, whip antenna, and a spotlight. I thought since I was doing what ever the the Sable, I might as well do something weird and grabbed the spotlight. It cost me all of $4. These usually retail for around $150+, so I'm doing pretty good at this point.

Now to the install:

I only had one, ONE PICTURE, of a Taurus wearing one, which means a really eyeball job has to be done to mount these. A post install would be nearly impossible due to the small nature of them and the doors' large wrap around they do, so I installed it just the way I found it.

Reference Picture:


I decided to mount slightly higher than the reference picture, just for preference.



So there was a lot of drilling. Lots. And shavings, there were those, too. And I was compelled to finish this when I got home from work, so my lighting for pictures diminished as well.


It moves so well!



Still forever looking for the headlight and it's aiming assembly. sad.gif


Dat clearance.

Rest position.


At attention.


Mocked up wiring. I'm going to have to find some positive wiring 12V wiring somewhere in the door to tap into or run a wire separately to the fuse box. Anyone got any suggestions on where to tap in at?


Coming up next: Finishing the Plastidip job on the wheels. Corrosion on them is too bad to do the polished lip idea I had, so the center caps will be only uncovered thing on the wheels. Sable Wagon-ceptor? laugh.gif

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I got the "new" headlight today, and I was fairly surprised to see its condition. To tell the truth, I was impressed to get one in such condition.



Especially compared to the hackjob yard one that came with the car.


A quick mock up placement doesn't look too bad, but there still is no mount yet and first generation Sable pieces are difficult to find and disappear quickly.




I'm still happy to say the least.


Soon I'll get some door trim and then prepare to haul it over to the shop to get the head gasket repaired. It's getting towards the final stretch; everything else that follows will just be icing on the cake.

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Some updates (Pictures to follow later):
-Spotlight is wired in! Had to tap into the light wire running to the bulb above the switches on the door for power, so it can only be turned on when the lights are turned on. For whoever posted about the door locks being constantly hot, they are, but the light would lock and unlock the doors when turned on. rolleyes.gif It was funny, but couldn't work with that, so I just went with the next best option.
-Got some vehicle history from it's old mechanic, not so pleasing. I shouldn't rag on the shop from the previous posts as it wasn't really their fault for such a lousy job, but the previous owner. He didn't really want it fixed after the accident, just rigged to be useable. He was a cheapskate on the car and actually asked the shop to half-ass the job, so they did since he didn't want to pay to have everything put back together the right way. Oh well.


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I decided to get some dashboard functionally restored today! Since I picked this car up, the System Scanner was functional but the backlight was burnt out and made it impossible to read the indicators.

I kind of just jumped into this repair. Everything really just pulled out or had a few screws holding the piece in.





Of course I tore into things probably a bit deeper than I should have, but it made it a bit easier for me in the long run to get everything apart.


The back of this style of digidash. There are standard 194 bulbs that fit the sockets for all indicators, however the speedometer, tachometer, and System Scanner had some Ford bulb that I couldn't find in store, but a 194 will fit, however in this case I used LED replacements for the speedometer and System Scanner. There are 10 bulbs: Speedometer, Tachometer, System Scanner, Turn Signals (2), Brake, Oil, Gas Gauge, Temperature Gauge, and a bulb where the plug is for the readout selection panel.



I replaced all of the bulbs as a preventative measure since getting the connectors undone and everything arranged to pull the cluster can be a bit of a pain.

For the record, this photo was taken before the bulb replacement. The blue sockets are for speedo, tach, and System Scanner.



Everything lights up well. Maybe one day I'll replace all the lights with LEDs for brightness and clarity. This was just a test before I closed everything up.


And since I had the car connected to another battery, I decided to get a photo with the parking lights and spotlight on. I love the lights on these cars.


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So continuing the lineage of making this car such a random one off, I decided to change something.


Just a tip? No. Who's got time for just that? Give me a hand saw and I'll make a demon spawn creation that has a one off sound. (FYI, Don't straight pipe your 3.8, it sounds awful. Get a muffler and don't regret the decision like I did.)


In all seriousness, that stock muffler had to go since it was starting to rot at the bottom. My friend and I took turns getting underneath the car and taking a hacksaw to the pipe to get the muffler off. I'll be getting the exhaust hanger put on tomorrow, but this will do for now. It doesn't really drone since it actually exits where it used to, but it does have a decent grumble at low and mid RPMs (Today it finally saw some mild operation around my neighborhood. It hasn't really moved that much since I bought it).

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Okay, so I went ahead and started getting the headlights in after the header panel replacement.



I don't have the passenger's side in yet since it still has to dry out after I washed it out. Moisture is no good inside the lens.

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he Sable finally is getting some lower dress, and nothing says "Lets dress up" than some 1987 trim from a LS Sedan.



Black/gray combo is what I'd been looking for, but these 26 year old sides were fairly worn, pitted, discoloured, what have you.

Primer, Paint, Clear is the order of the evening and should be finished tomorrow.



The wagon's bumpers will receive the same treatment with black uppers and gray lowers.

Now the fun part. Some time between 1987 and 1989 (maybe this just applies to the wagons) but the trim on the LS models went from a single, solid piece to a two piece set up. The narrower bar on top for 1989 was a separate strip and used to be held on with the nubs on the door while the larger lower trim was held on to the bottom by bolts in the door.


The doors however still have the holes for the older style trim. The old style trim used those little plastic things that are in the holes that I took from the donor car as the '89s didn't need them since the trim doesn't mount in that fashion. The '87's trim mounts via clips that push in and pop into place and are easily removed in the same fashion.



The only similarity is that the lower part of the trims are identical where they screw in, however the older trim does not line up exactly with the upper screw holes, since the newer trim uses two pieces and are a bit higher.




At this point I can either drill new holes or simply remove the tabs that hold the screw on points. It'll stay in place regardless.



Partial mock up with one of the unpainted trim pieces.



The trim is just high enough to cover all of the nubs where the upper trim for the '89s should be, however it would seem my biggest issue to tackle will be the rear trim piece as it may not be long enough to properly fit without modification since the trim came off of a sedan.

Other news:
A new battery still may be in order along with new lightbulbs, but all the systems still seem to be working okay and the tailgate popper seems to be working to unlatch the tailgate now. The gas lifts I ordered are terrible and will be sent back, they cannot support the tailgate or lift glass. Will it be on the road before Christmas? I don't know.


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Today was a fairly nice day to work on the car some more, so I decided to tackle a dashboard project since I plan to go back to the junkyard tomorrow and needed to see if a swap I had in plan was feasible.

I was considering doing a HVAC control swap from EATC to rotary dials if it was a simplistic swap, but I had a feeling after seeing the rotary dial dash down at the yard the actuator setup would be an issue. In this case it was once I pulled everything apart, however was actually met by a nicer surprise.

This is the EATC system used in the first generation dashes like mine.


Like most of my gauge cluster was previously, the screen is not functional. I originally believed it was back lit by something non-replaceable unless done as a unit and finding a system would be difficult since 24 year old parts are hard to come by, until I read what was on the unit.


Aw yiss! cool.gif

It almost seems as if Ford was waiting to see if anyone would even bother checking these things. One quick parts store run I and I come back with these:


Just got to pop the bulb and socket back into this hole:


It works! But the car's battery is extra dead so pressing anything causes everything to flicker and reset (that's also why it's so dim).


Also while dealing with this issue, I decided to swap out defroster switches because mine loved to turn itself ON.


Also, when I first went to the junkyard, I grabbed some extras from the '87 donorj5i4.jpg


I guess the donor car's previous owner was guessing about the speed a lot. I checked the bulbs and the speedo and tachometer were burnt out.

Also, since the EATC seems to be rather uncommon, I did snap some photos of the interior of the box. There are a total of three bulb housings inside the box, one to the left of the center, and one to the right of the center, and obvious the center bulb which had to be replaced. Bulb size is Type 37.



Top without cover:


Center Bulb and Socket:


Center Front, bulb out of socket:


Right Side Circuitry:


Left Side Circuitry:


Rear Coils:


Hope this helps anyone who might have one still.

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Wow, very nice!


Also, Nice to see another Essex and wagon owner in here! :)


Love the progress done to that car :D

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I had to move the Sable today after letting it sit for a prolonged amount of time because the neighborhood has decided to finally (after many years of doing nothing) start telling people to get things straightened up around houses and having an un-plated vehicle is apparently "unsightly". I knew I could get a ticket since they warned me that they would have the police out hunting unplated and expired tagged vehicles. HOAs are assholes, FYI.


The bigger issues from this tiny move were a bit suprising, and rather worrying at this point.




It's pissed two fluids I directly know of, power steering and oil. The power steering was whining something fierce when it was pulled out of the backyard the first time and was non-operative going back in. It was awful manuevering it to say the least. The oil still has the chocolate milkshake thing going on, yet the coolant is a healthy green, suprisingly.


Running the motor seems to be the biggest issue. Fires up fine and still steams from the tailpipe, yet now I have a bigger issue. There is underhood steam that I haven't fully diagnosed, but it was noticable this time and it wasn't running long. I did a quick check of the oil fill hole and the top end was dry. Why is dry? I don't know. Is there something even worse going on under that Essex? Possibly.


So from what I can gather today, these are the problems I know of:

-No power steering. Must find leak.

-No oil visible towards the top end. Why?

-Steam from underhood. Must find where.

-Parking lamp is out.

-Clock light bulb is out.     ---Brian, I must say this irony after us having spoke about that at the meet. It was fine before! :icon_lol:


I need to diagnose the issue with the P/S leak and the top end issue before I take any action about the headgasket at this point. If it turns out to be something severely broken or disabled that is rather costly (obviously besides the headgasket since I intended to fix that), I might have to give up the run here. I don't want to, but sinking too much money into a useless return will not be a smart idea.

Edited by Kodachrome Wolf
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I didn't do it. :ph34r::P

Clock bulbs: http://www.rearcounter.com/E6DZ-13B765-E-parts212880.html I recommend calling Green Sales; they had the best price and service when I bought some replacement bulbs.

OK, with the power steering you'll first want to check the lengths of rubber hose found on both the pressure and return lines, the Teflon O-ring seals where both lines connect into the rack & pinion assembly, and the connection points where they both go into the pump/reservoir. Otherwise, the fluid reservoir itself is another common point for leaks if it's cracked.

Oh, and take Machausta up on his offer to come help diagnose your Essex troubles ASAP. You won't regret it. ;)

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The oil still has the chocolate milkshake thing going on, yet the coolant is a healthy green, suprisingly.


Running the motor seems to be the biggest issue. Fires up fine and still steams from the tailpipe, yet now I have a bigger issue. There is underhood steam that I haven't fully diagnosed, but it was noticable this time and it wasn't running long. I did a quick check of the oil fill hole and the top end was dry. Why is dry? I don't know. Is there something even worse going on under that Essex? Possibly.


So from what I can gather today, these are the problems I know of:

-No power steering. Must find leak.

-No oil visible towards the top end. Why?

-Steam from underhood. Must find where.

-Parking lamp is out.

-Clock light bulb is out.     ---Brian, I must say this irony after us having spoke about that at the meet. It was fine before! :icon_lol:


I need to diagnose the issue with the P/S leak and the top end issue before I take any action about the headgasket at this point. If it turns out to be something severely broken or disabled that is rather costly (obviously besides the headgasket since I intended to fix that), I might have to give up the run here. I don't want to, but sinking too much money into a useless return will not be a smart idea.


I can point to where the head gasket will be blown...right in the middle where the coolant port and exhaust header are closest together. Its like magic.


Its time to take out the top end of the motor, with OHV its not *that* difficult unless you plan on pulling the block to have it decked...


Once you have found the PS fluid leak, use Mercon III instead of PS fluid, its thicker and just works better. Essex heads (and complete engines) are easy enough to find if its a cost/return situation.

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I like the Essex, has a very nice sound to it when accelerating and passing people up :)

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