Here are some photos of a real nice 9C1 Caprice with an LT1 engine that was completely underwater in a spring flood. I though someone might enjoy reading of my efforts to get it running once again.

My friend bought this 1995 9C1 at a county auction back in 2004 and never got around to doing much with it. In April of 2005 our area of New York suffered unprecedented flooding. The creek rose higher than ever before, inundating this guy's home and all his possessions. The Caprice was underwater to the dome light if not completely covered. It took well over a week for the water to go down leaving a thick layer of mud and sludge on every level surface. The crankcase was full to the top of the dipstick with muddy, brown, contaminated creek water. The frame is washed full of mud and gravel and there is more mud packed in every crevice.

The car sat, untouched, through the winter of 2005 with the crankcase, intake, heads, all the air ducts, etc, etc, full of water. Obviously, it had frozen solid for several months! I recently obtained the car for whatever parts might still be usable on my 9C1. I began by pressure washing under the hood, the trunk, and inner door panels so I could see what I had. There were sticks, leaves, mud and trash stuck every where. Although the photos don't do it justice the mud on top of home plate and on everything else under the hood was close to 1/2" thick! Plus, it didn't just wash off as there must have been an oil slick on the flood waters that made the silt turn into a sticky clay like substance. What a mess! I drained about 6 gallons of muddy water out of the oil pan and then refilled the motor with 5 gallons of kerosene. I pulled the four main fuses before putting in a fresh battery and then reinstalled the fuses, one by one. The four way flashers came on first. They must have been on since the car was towed back in 2004. The dash powered up - only 127,000 county police miles. The radio plays quite awesome although it seems like only the rear speakers. Maybe the fronts are full of mud? The wiper motors, window motors, and power seats were dead but at least they didn't short out when I tried to turn them on. I was sure the car would just short out and burn some wiring once I installed the battery but, surprisingly, there were no problems. The fan belt was rusted fast to the pulleys so I took that off to reduce any drag on the motor when I tried to crank it over. The throttle plates were stuck fast in the bore. I had to use a piece of wood and a hammer to get them to open and then I had to hammer on the accelerator cam to get them to close again. It took a lot of penetrating oil and elbow grease to get the throttle loose enough to respond to the gas pedal. The intake dripped a white, watery residue that must have been the remains of all the water that had evaporated over the last 18 months. The intake ducts actually still had water trapped in them! Not surprisingly, the solenoid only clicked when I turned the key but I asked my son to work the key while I watched the balancer and it seems like there was an almost imperceptible amount of rotation every time he turned the key. I put a wrench on the balancer as he bumped the starter and over the course of the next 15 minutes we managed to get most of a revolution before it would finally turn no farther. It took me a while to realize that I must be trying to compress water on top the pistons as the intake and heads had been completely full at one time. I pulled all the plugs and got sprayed with quite a bit of water and kerosene but then the motor actually turned over pretty quickly. I drained the kerosene and refilled the crankcase with 5 quarts of oil and then spun it over for a few more minutes without the plugs to dry it out. Once I reinstalled the plugs the engine would sputter and fire a few times and then backfire a few times but at least it turned over. I was sure the Opti must still be wet and full of condensation but, after alternately cranking and resting and using some starter fluid to help dry out the plugs...

Yes, it was one heck of a cloud of smoke for a while and there were huge puddles of muddy water under each tailpipe but eventually the exhaust cleared right up. Occasionally a little water vapor from the driver's side that may mean a cracked head but the right side is perfectly normal. AMAZING MOTOR! The scanner shows no codes. The cooling fans even still work although they are caked with mud and vibrate terribly. In the one photo you can seem my son trying to blow the mud out of the radiator with the air hose. There were clouds and clouds of it that never washed out completely. I reinstalled the serpentine belt and the power steering, alternater and charging system seem to operate normally! One of the transmission cooler lines had a hole in it that had let some water into the tranny so the fluid is a frothy pink mess. I clamped the hole and added a few quarts of new fluid and this car will move around the yard under its own power although it may not shift on the open road. There is a little valve clatter in the motor but that could clear up after a few oil changes as there must still be lots of moisture inside that block. The only abnormality seems to be a very high idle (3000rpms?) that seems to be slowly increasing. Maybe something froze and pushed our a manifold gasket? Could be water in the gas but it seems to run to good so the fuel system must have remained sealed and the fuel in the tank is good yet. I know this motor and all the accessories can't really be trusted to drive again but it must be rebuildable? What to do with it? I really have no plans it was just a challenge to see if I could get it to run again after sitting full of water and silt for 18 months. I was certainly impressed!


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