FI is long gone and dash don't work

J Body General Discussion

  1. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    I can see this going a couple of different ways: One is a defective cluster (or wiring). The other would be powertrain electronics related.

    Is there a computer attached to the air cleaner and is the computer wiring attached to it?
    81 Imperial Underhood.jpg
    It doesn’t have to look identical to this.
    BudW
     
  2. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    Darth

    From the (short) long and convoluted history of this car;
    -Possible original owner or second owner tried to live with the FI and instead of having the factory fix it, parked it for about 2 decades (my guess is around 1985-87, probably after the factory guaranty expired).
    -Previous owner twice removed (PO -2) bought the car and tried to fix it by installing an Edelbrock 4-bbl intake and a Holly 750 double pumper. Plus cut out everything electronic that was involved with the factory FI system. Naturally it ran like a turd and he gave up on the project.
    -Previous owner whom I bought it from traded PO -2 for the car, marked the known wiring that had been cut by PO -2 and taped the to the firewall. Then installed an Edelbrock 650 electric choke 4-bbl and a complete Lokar throttle and kick down cable linkage. Plus a Direct Connection electronic distributor and orange box. But due to the fact that he is now 83 and is having a hard time driving (and not really able to sort out the dash issue) sold the Imp plus he's starting to unload his mini junk yard of cars.

    So, now it's up to me to figure out if I can make the factory dash work or to replace it with analog gauges (factory or aftermarket).
     
  3. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    BudW

    I'll get a picture up soon but none of what is in your picture is on my car.
    It's now a billet air cleaner on top of an Edelbrock carb.
     
  4. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    The story on post # 22 explains a lot.

    Good news is it is fixable and is most likely caused by the (lack of better term) butchered under-hood wiring harness.
    You even have a few different routes in which to fix the wiring issue.

    In my opinion, I would either find either a "carbureted" Imperial instrument cluster OR a Cordoba/Mirada cluster (non-digital). The cluster was part of the change over from FI to carburetor – so to get it to work, you will need either cluster mentioned above.

    I might recommend finding a good (used) FMJ under-hood wiring harness and adapt it to your car – then swap out the harnesses. Most M & J-bodies are computer controlled (computer that hangs off the air cleaner). Sense your vehicle is no longer computer controlled, you will need to remove some of the wiring (but not a hack job, as before). A person can then (better) tie-in the current electronic ignition system – as well.

    As far as FMJ under-hood harnesses go, there are two main type differences. One has the (square) bulkhead connector on firewall by brake booster.
    Square BH Conn.png
    This is a picture from Aspen500’s fine automobile. Note: it is hard to see the black square on the dark blue.

    The other type has a round boot where the harness goes through the firewall – with a (square) bulkhead connector underneath the dash a short distance later.
    20181207_142527m.jpg
    Note: the black "X" is the starter relay and yellow arrow points to the brake booster.

    Both types have a bolt that attaches/disengages both halves of the bulkhead connector.


    It is best to start off with a harness with same bulkhead connector like you currently have (whichever style it might be). At that point – what I like to do is to get a cheap 4x8 foot sheet of plywood (pegboard or other will also work) and a desk to work on – or make support so wood surface is up/down (like a wall). On the board, take some nails or long screws (screws might work better) at the points where the existing harness branches off and lay your harness on it. Having it this way makes it easier (in my opinion) to re-tape things afterwards – which makes for a much cleaner underhood. Doing this without some support, or on the car, can be a royal pain in the rear.
    Harness repair.png
    The red circles are nails/screws.

    If you send me a PM/conversation, I can show what exactly which wires/connectors will be needed on your harness – once I see some pictures of your underhood and what/which (and location) ignition system you will be using.
    BudW
     
  5. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    Ok, now that most of the holidaze are past I have a moment to post pictures of what my Imp looks like under the hood. 20181219_123001.jpg 20181219_122952.jpg
     
  6. Darth-Car

    Darth-Car Well-Known Member

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    Ouch!

    The lesson here is never under estimate what people may do to a perfectly good car. :(

    You are going to have to check those wires for current. It is hard to see what they are connected to, but if you have a factory shop manual the wiring diagram section will be your friend, because the original wire color will tell you what these wires are supposed to do. Then it will be a matter of finding out is there someplace to route these wires to make them functional? You have a lot of wire tracing / testing ahead of you. I have always enjoyed wiring projects, but I know that most people shy away from them. Good luck.
     
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  7. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    I can’t disagree with that.
    For my own projects – on a non-time pressing matter, I don’t mind taking time to check every wire, checking for both shorts and open circuits. On time-pressed events (ie: wife’s car won’t start, and she wants it fixed . . . yesterday) then I must seek other avenues.

    In your case I see added electrical parts (driver’s fender) and subtracted electrical parts (passenger side and firewall) – so there will be some electrical digging, needed.

    First, I would get a FSM (Factory Service Manual), like this one (the first one I found on eBay with both books – but you might have several other options) https://www.ebay.com/itm/1981-Chrysler-CORDOBA-IMPERIAL-Workshop-Service-Shop-Repair-Manual-Set-OEM/352358147867?hash=item520a2ea71b:g:GnIAAMXQjWtROm9W:rk:10:pf:0 .

    I have a heavy feeling the items needed to make it work, has been hacked off the existing harness – so finding the exact “hack” and then finding what part(s) is needed to get it to work correctly might be a time-consuming job. I would be tempted to find a “good used” harness to adapt your existing electronic ignition onto – for it might be a lot less time spent.

    The Washer bottle is missing, and I don’t see the pigtail(s) for it. I “think” the A/C wiring is missing a pigtail or two (I don’t exactly remember what ’81 A/C parts are used) – in the expansion valve area. Most of the missing items on firewall are emission related and are not missed (unless you live in an emissions inspection area) – but those missing electrical pigtails might be part of the problem.

    There is a bird’s nest in the drivers rear area that is a, um, a “!!!” and I’m not sure what to say about it.

    Those blue squeeze (with priers) tap-type electrical connectors are not good for automotive usage – for so easy for corrosion to occur and cause problems a short time later (but work semi-great for used car dealers to get a car off their lot, before the car lot disappears).
    03207692942.jpg

    Good news – it is fixable, and the rest of underhood area looks great.


    On an unrelated note: I saw a car on the June 2018 Oklahoma City Mopars car show, that someone brought a mostly original Imperial. He removed the non-working original fuel injection throttle body and bolted on a newer pickup (pre-magnum) FI system (throttle body and computer) onto it and car ran great. The Intake is the same and he still used some of the original parts (except for wiring harness, fuel pump a couple of other minor items) – but at first glance, it looked original.

    The pickup computer (originally firewall mounted) was placed behind the grill. The air cleaner parts (and hubcaps) he kept in the trunk and took out for display.

    I took more pictures – but these are the only ones I have with me.
    20180609_122350r.jpg

    20180609_122744r.jpg

    20180609_123050r.jpg
     
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  8. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    Yeah, I knew I was in for the long haul on this. I have the factory service manual (came with the car) and some of that bird nest has been tagged, so I can take it from there.
    I have to admit one part of me wants to just pull the factory dash and build something "factory" looking that uses all Dakota Digital gauges and call it done. And another part of me wants to figure out how to make some form of factory gauges work because I am always fixing other peoples "good intentions".
    This car is never going to be stock again. I love to modify and tinker too much. The "long" plan is to swap in a 408ci BluePrint Engines engine and Holley Sniper EFI. Back it with a A518 OD auto and either 3.23 or 3.55 sure grip rear.
    I want to use this car as one of my daily drivers and to try and take it on the Hot Rod Power Tour this year.
     
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  9. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    Did you, by chance, get the old air cleaner or any of the old FI parts?
    BudW
     
  10. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    Sadly no.
    The above engine compartment shot is how it came to me other than a couple of busted up "spare" dash clusters.
     
  11. Darth-Car

    Darth-Car Well-Known Member

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    Now that is interesting. I wonder what they thought they could pull off once they hosed the original dash?
     
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  12. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    I was thinking about purchasing those from him – if he did have them. The air cleaner base won’t fit much of anything else. The lid will, though.
    Sense he doesn’t have them, it doesn’t matter.
    BudW
     
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  13. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    I'll take a picture of all the "spare" stuff I got (not much) and let everyone comment in case there is something useful I have and don't know it.
     
  14. Poly

    Poly Well-Known Member

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  15. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    I was starting to look at these for my rat-rod Caddy I am also building. That would be a better place to sort out if I like it and if it would work. :)
     
  16. Poly

    Poly Well-Known Member

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  17. Norse

    Norse Active Member

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    Heya Poly

    I was. Volare77 (Mike) already hooked me up with a set.
    Thanks though!!
     
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