My 81 - The Green Dream


Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Thought I would post here now that I am finally putting the car back together after it was painted. I will post my paint experience here eventually (It was a long almost 2 year adventure that turned out good).
Now that the weather is getting warmer here I can make some serious progress and want to document it in the hopes it may help someone out.

Enough with the small talk, today I put these 2 pieces that cover the steering box and part of the steering shaft and rag joint.
It was a pain because I had to remove the low pressure hose and of course fluid went everywhere, luckily I caught most in a pan before it hit the floor.
Does anyone put these back on?




Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Didn't do much today because it is cold. I did manage to paint these pieces, they install in the cowl and deflect air to the windshield when the heater controls are set to Max. I painted them in the garage where it was a bit warmer.

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Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
I installed those pieces today. Started the car and put it on defrost, the flap did not open!
With the blower on high I realized air was blowing out of the vents regardless of the setting on the heater control.
Max, AC, Vent, Heat no change where the air was blowing.


So I started looking around starting with the vacuum ball I checked the small hose that goes through the firewall and it practically fell off of the vacuum ball. I took a good look at it and it pulled right out of the firewall.

I found that the end that goes to the vacuum ball has a nipple on the end that lets it mate to the vacuum ball but the nipple, after 40 years was deformed and way to wide for a snug fit. So I did the following:

I got the smallest piece of vacuum hose I had and found that the original hose would fit inside it nice and snug. I also put a piece strip caulk around that joint.(the strip caulk was put on after this picture was taken).


As for the other end of the small hose, I just put it back through the firewall grommet and then sealed it really good with strip caulk. With a heavy wrap of caulk the line will not likely come loose.


I then pulled the large hose off of the vacuum ball and hooked up a hand held vacuum pump and pumped up the ball to about 15 on the scale and it held, so I am pretty certain I dont have a leak.

Started the car, put it on defrost, the cowl flap still did not close, I then realized that flap is not for defrost it is for max air!.
So with the control on Max the flap closed as it should. As a matter of fact all of the settings work, you can hear the air and the actuators working. Heat comes out of the bottom, air comes out of the defrost vents when the control is in defrost etc...
I probably had a small sneaky vacuum leak because of this
So check that small line especially where it hooks to the vacuum ball and where it connects to the firewall grommet.


Staff member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 26, 2004
Bloomington, MN
You are correct.
I just went through all of this to figure out which actuators move in the different settings.

The cowl flap is designed to cut off outside air on the Max A/C setting.
This leaves the A/C system recirculating the air inside the car instead of cooling hot air from outside.
The defrost actuator is the one on the driver's end of the heater box, under the dash.

Glad it was a simple fix on the engine compartment side.


Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Pretty nice day here so I decided to run my front wiring harness I already installed the end that bolts to the fuse box (several years ago). So I was left with this.

Start by removing the radiator cover

I then installed the 4 clips that run under the core support you can see 2 of them installed here

On the drivers side there are 2 more clips one on the fender

And one on the core support in between the headlamp and parking lamp

Dont forget the ground screw, miraculously I left the ground screws in the core support so they were not lost

Same thing on the passenger side 2 clips and the ground strap here is the ground strap and one of the clips the other clip is about 4 inches away towards the fender.

The other end of the harness is for the wiper motor and pump. I haven't installed that yet, my windshield installer man will be coming to install both front and rear windshields in about a month, when it should be a bit warmer.

Finished, here you can see the passenger wires for the headlights, parking lights and fender light I have the fender extensions and front nose all painted but still haven't put them on yet, waiting for warmer weather.


Here is the horn wire I need to clean up my horn and put a coat of paint on it before I hook it up


If I have any trouble with the lights I will double check those two ground screws.


Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Almost 70 here today so I thought I would put my dashtop cover on. My dash was in pretty good shape but had a few cracks. Pretty simple install, I followed the directions which are basically rough up the edges where the glue goes on both the top and the dash followed by a good cleaning. Instructions say to use window cleaner (ammonia based), but I used Eastwoods pre-painting prep.

Before the cap:



After the cap, with weights and tape to help hold it down, BIG improvement.



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Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
5 days, yes 5 days is how long it took me to get my horn to work.

Here is what I had to deal with

  1. My horn relay was wired wrong. I am sure I did it when I replaced the dash harness. The horn relay connector along with the key alarm buzzer which is part of the fuse box did not come with the new harness, the whole fuse box did come with the new harness but the connectors for the relay and buzzer had to be reused from the old harness. So I had the ground wire and the hot wire for the horn reversed, I figured this out because as soon as I installed the relay it engaged and stayed engaged to the point it got very hot. I fixed the wires which was a major pain but still the horn did not work.
  2. The horn which I tested and spent several hours cleaning and painting, did not sound so good but I figured it was good enough, wrong. After I fixed the relay wires I could manually engage the relay (by removing the relay cover), and the horn would sound but after doing this several times the horn quit. I figured something in the wiring went bad again so I spent several hours checking everything with no luck. Instead I gave up for the day and ordered a new horn. After hooking up the new horn it worked and sounded like a horn should nice and loud. So turns out the original horn went bad on me I should have known the way it sounded, kind of like a sick pig.
  3. The next problem turned out to be the ground wire for the relay. Nothing wrong with the wire but it turns out the horn switch plunger on the turn signal switch (the switch under the lock plate and turn signal cancelling cam) was bad. I pulled out the button that rides on the cancelling cam and found that the spring underneath the button had burnt and broken, probably from the fact that the wires on the relay were backwards since the ground wire had 12 volts on it when it never should.
So I found a replacement spring that worked and put it all back together. Now I have a horn, it is not an original horn and that is not what I wanted since I am trying to keep the car as close to stock as possible but it was only 10 bucks and no one sees it anyway.

Nothing on my car is easy.
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Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
I tweaked my back during my workout last week so I didnt feel much like working on the car but I am feeling better and got back to it today.
First in anticipation of installing carpet I got it out of the box and am letting it relax a bit before I attempt the install

I also painted this piece that helps hold down the carpet around the steering column

I had already installed the package tray but had not folded down the vinyl that goes behind the rear seat back, pretty easy job just took a little time cleaning up the old glue and remnants of foam. Here it is all glued down

Next I attempted to install the trunk divider board with limited success. It seems to fit fine on the drivers side but needs some trimming on the passenger side since there is a big bump in the metal on that side. I'm going to have to take it out and trim it. I guess the seat back will kind of smash it down against the metal when I put it in. Also, am I putting this in backwards? Does the jute side go inside the car?

I pretty much have my dash together except for the gauge bezel, I painted it recently and have started putting the silver accents on it.

I wired an aux port on my original radio and bought bluetooth adapter that plugs into the cable. I plan on running the cable underneath the console and drilling a small hole in the console storage box where I can plug in the adapter, for now though it is sweet I can play music wirelessly through my phone and it sounds great. The adapter only costs about 15 bucks and uses bluetooth version 5 so sound quality is great. I wanted to keep the original radio and this helps to modernize it a bit.

Couple of console pics, ECM is underneath the radio mine is an 81 keeping the stock CCC system. I have the correct radio knobs just using these for the time being. The thin gray wire that you can see next to the shifter is the aux port cable.



I put the outer window sweeps on a few weeks ago, initially I tried installing the thin chrome bead style that I ordered from the Parts Place. Sadly I can not recommend them, I could not get them to install with the rubber lip laying on the outside of the door. So I ordered the thick chrome bead style from Camaro Central and they fit much better. Although the 81 should use the thin chrome bead style I like the look of this one better and the rubber lip lays down nicely on the outside of the door.

Hopefully this car can soon be back on the road after years and years of work.
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Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Well today was a nice day so I got back at it. First thing I did was put the rear seat back in. I re-upholstered it last summer it turned out OK, not great but for an novice not too bad.

The first time I tried to get it installed things did not go so well. I bought one of those trunk divider boards and there is no way you are going to get the seat to lay down unless you trim the heck out it. I ended up having to cut out almost 1/4 of the board along the bottom and along the left passenger side. The board is stiff and does not want to conform to the trunk wall behind the seat back.

In preparation for putting the carpet in I had to get the rocker wire guards in. These have been sitting in my basement for at least 10 years! I cleaned them when I took them out 10 years ago, used a rust converter on them then painted them with Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator. Surprisingly they still look good after 10 years. New ones cost $150.00 which is ridiculous for 2 thin pieces of metal. I even managed to find the correct screws for them, that was a small miracle. Before I screwed them down I decided to put some Kilmat I had left over underneath them. I even remembered to mark the screw holes for the sill plates


And here they are screwed down, nothing exciting but one last thing before carpet.



Carpet is not going to be fun, it appears I have a lot of holes to mark and cut including the high beam switch and the seat belt warning wire that runs underneath the drivers seat, you can see it in the picture above.

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