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1988 Chevrolet Celebrity Wagon
 

2.8 Liter V-6 FWD
4-Speed Overdrive Automatic
Power Steering and Brakes
A/C, ETR AM/FM Cassette,
Delay Windshield Wipers,
Rear Window Defroster

February 16, 2021 - Amazing 65 degree and sunny weather after a week of rain and the 30s got me outside for a few hours this afternoon.  The initial plan was to replace the oil pressure fuel pump switch which I think is causing the hot start issue.  According to the factory electrical diagnostics manual, the switch will interrupt power to the fuel pump when there is no oil pressure, but the switch is bypassed in start.  So it would allow the car to start normally and then starve for fuel - precisely the issue I have.  Unfortunately, the switch is buried under the fuel intake port and coolant hoses and pipes, and I just didn't have enough time for that much disassembly.  So I tried a different tactic - I have changed out the 5-30 oil for 20-50 and will see if the thicker viscosity will make a difference.  I also put the rest of the hardware in the front bumper extension and closed up the minor gaps that resulted from my admittedly sloppy work a few weeks ago.  There has been too much rain to try getting the Celebrity out of the driveway without creating ruts in the yard - I have a concrete man coming to estimate expanding the back parking pad and the driveway access.  I also called on the rear bumper filler - still in production.
February 6, 2021 - The flat black trim on the widow frames is oddly worn for a car that shows almost no other signs of use.  Some low-gloss black paint fixed all that, plus the faded side mirrors. 
February 1, 2021 - My second attempt at a title and tags for the Celebrity paid off - even though it meant driving almost an hour to the Williamsburg DMV.  However, it was worth making the drive as the next available appointment locally was in April! The temp tags will do until I get the '88 WAGN' permanent plates.  Lots of factory literature in now - a near-perfect owner's manual, the preliminary, shop, and electrical factory manuals, and a magazine article on how the Celebrity would be a future collectible.
January 23, 2021 - The remaining cosmetic issue with the wagon is the rear bumper filler - unique to the wagon, as I found out when I tried to match up a NOS sedan filler piece. I was debating trying to make my own filler out of vinyl siding or guttering, but then did a search on the Internet.  Turns out Replica Plastics in Alabama makes the replacement part out of fiberglass for $69.  They are made to order, but mine should be on the way soon.  I also have factory repair manuals, the preliminary shop manual, and some other factory literature on the way.

January 20, 2021 - One of the changes I am experimenting with on the Celebrity are the headlights - I bought a full set of LED bulbs off eBay, but only installed the right side until I could determine if they were actually brighter than the original halogens.  I got my first chance to actually use the lights tonight.  There is not a lot of difference, but the LEDs are cleaner looking than the orangey glow of the original bulbs, so I'll use them.  They have the added benefit of drawing less power.  I also got in spare wheel covers, which  turned out to be far more elusive than I had expected.  After search eBay for a couple of weeks, I finally found some on WalMart.com, which has opened up to include other sellers like Amazon.  I ordered two, and was disappointed in one of the pair that had some road rash and dings (center cap) and both were missing the center emblem. The company immediately sent me their last one as a free replacement - much better.  And I got in a new hood release cable, though the one on the car (which had been hanging up is now smooth and shows no sign of wear. Oh, and no startup issues all day! January 22 - Follow-up - A bit more experience with the LEDs convinced me that they don't work well - they are cleaner looking, but the actual beam is scattered too much.  I went back to the original halogens.
January 18, 2021 -The only real blemishes on the Celebrity were the front right bumper end and the rear bumper filler. A NOS bumper end was included in the sale, but the top and bottom of the part had to be painted body color.  Dupli-Panel doesn't have the Medium Gray 15C metallic paint, and I didn't want to have a mismatch using a color that was 'close'.  Enter TouchUp Direct, a company that provides correct color paint for older vehicles.  As you can see, the paint is a perfect match - two step base coat/clear coat just like the original.  They sent a large spray can of each, enough to do touchup and also paint the rear bumper filler when I get that done.  I used brake cleaner to remove the cloth tape goo, and some Armor All to restore the gloss on the front strip.  I also wanted to do some more troubleshooting, this time installing a new fuel pump relay after it started to act up - except it wouldn't act up!   I let it warm up, drove around the neighborhood, and tried immediately after and then a little later.  The car started right up and purred.  Oh, well. I suppose I shouldn't complain that the car is running great!
January 14, 2021 - I was surprised to get a call this afternoon that the Celebrity was already done. A mechanic who'd not been expected in showed up and knocked the job out quickly.  Unfortunately, the Celebrity still has the stall after start condition when warm.  Very weird - I can start it up cold and drive any distance without a hiccup (168 miles from Delaware, 22 miles from my Mom's) - then I go out to start it after it has sat for a short time and it will start great and then stumble and die as if the fuel was shut off.  The factory manuals are expected any day, which should help me troubleshoot.  Otherwise, the car is amazing.  I got the touchup paint in, and have ordered a couple of spare hubcaps from - of all places - WalMart!  They are working with other companies the way Amazon does. 
January 11, 2021 - Replacing the crankcase position sensor is apparently a very difficult job, especially outside in the driveway. Given it was 27 degrees outside this morning when I got up, I made a call to Great Bridge Service Center, the folks who did the timing chain cover on my truck.  For an estimated $168 they will put a new crankcase sensor in for me.  Probably not until next week, but they are having me bring the car over Wednesday to leave with them in case they get some free time before then. Since the CPS might not fix the problem, I would rather let the suffering be done by someone else! The other items are comparatively easy. 
January 9, 2021 - The new ECU made no difference, so I kept the old one (also a replacement) as a backup.  Next possibility is the Crankshaft Position Sensor.  The computer prom, which has been previously reprogrammed to delete the Air Flow Sensor, gets transferred when you switch ECUs.  That leaves the aforementioned CPS, and then the Ignition Control Module as potential culprits.  Plus, the possibility of oil-soaked wiring.  So, in order, I will be cleaning and inspecting the wiring under the engine, replacing the CPS,  and then the ICU. I added black door edge guard that looks factory, and just got in a NOS rear bumper filler panel for a sedan that I hope I can adapt to replace the wagon's crumbling rear filler. It was all there when I left Delaware, but had a section fall off during the trip back. And the trip to DMV Tuesday was no help - it turned out the Delaware title is so new it has not yet been updated in national records, and I have to go to a primary DMV office to get the tags done.  Oh, well.

 

January 3, 2021 - I took the Celebrity to let Fred, the former Buick Dealership mechanic who bought the Reatta, hook up his diagnostic tester. Everything checked out perfect - all the numbers where they were supposed to be - and then it didn't want to restart.  A check of the fuel showed 40 pounds of pressure at the rail, dropping to 30 when the regulator kicked in, so it sure wasn't a bad fuel pump. He also checked and found out that the ECM Prom which controls the computer had been updated to ignore the Air Flow Sensor, an early recall.  That leaves just the ECM itself, which is a known issue caused by age - 32 years can loosen solder joints. Apparently, the time we spent fiddling with the fuel rail and connections under the hood just allowed the ECM time to cool down.  Happily, a remanufactured ECM is available over-the-counter for about $130, and is an easy replacement.  You have to reuse your existing Prom and cover.  I'll pick the ECM up today and install it later this week when the weather is less wet!
January 1, 2021 - One item that the seller pointed out was the Idle Air Control Valve, noting that it was 'probably original' - I am wondering if he had some issues and thought that might be the culprit.  The IACV was inexpensive and readily available, and when I replaced the old unit I noted the screws were a bit loose.  The car started up fine and after letting the computer get reset to the new part, idled smoothly. I also bought some cheap carpet mats and license plate frames, and dumped in a can of Seafoam.  My DMV appointment is Tuesday, thanks to having discovered they were opening DMV Select offices, and my favorite office in Poquoson was one of the two in the state! I also installed black door edge trim that looks factory, and ordered some touch-up paint.
December 29, 2020 - The Celebrity had some trouble today - after an uneventful 168-mile trip from Delaware yesterday and multiple short hops today, it suddenly didn't want to start.  The cure seemed to be bleeding the fuel injector rail, which really doesn't make much sense.  Obviously electrical, the car ran great and started up fine a few times, then had the same issue an hour later with the same apparent cure - bleeding the injector rail.  Once fixed, the car runs great with no hesitation or issue - it is just a startup thing.  Something to work out.  I am very glad Buddy Chip chose the van over the Celebrity - he doesn't need more headaches, and I have two regular drivers. Oh, and the Celebrity managed better than 28 mpg on the trip yesterday.
December 28, 2020 - "Oh, I'll never win this car with such a low bid."  Famous last words, especially when you actually make that 'too-low' bid.  This 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon echoes one of my Mom's favorite cars ever - same year, make and model, and even similar in color.  It was advertised as a relatively low-mileage, two-owner car that had been garage-kept, in excellent condition throughout. The original idea was to buy the car for my Best Friend, who needed something with more room and reliability than his MGs. However, I also did not want to risk giving him more trouble, and gave him the choice between the Celebrity and my 2003 Dodge van. I got notification I had won the eBay auction on Christmas Day, and coordinated picking it up from Delaware today.  Happily, the car turned out to be as advertised, exceptionally clean and running like new.  Everything works as it should, and while there are some scratches in the paint, no rust or dents mar the body, and the interior is great.  The ultimate test came from driving the car 168 miles home - not a hiccup or stumble.  While I have not checked the figure yet, I expect mileage to be at least 28 mpg.  The car is a great driver, and is also an excellent example of family cars from the eighties. What I know of the history is that the original owner was a lady who kept the car garaged, and had a cover put on the front seat when it was new.  Her husband had a Cadillac sedan which she started driving after his death, leaving the Celebrity mostly unused. The seller bought the car from her estate to use as a taxi for his 'Air B&B'.  He had the fluids flushed and replaced and ordered a NOS bumper end for the right front bumper which was the only damage to the car.  He also replaced both sets of tailgate struts with correct GM parts so the rear window defroster would still work. However, since he is located near the beach, he ended up buying a Jeep so guests could go ON the beach and no longer needed the wagon. The car was listed on eBay a week before Xmas, ending on the actual holiday, which probably limited buyers.  Oh, and Chip went with the van, which made us both happy.

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