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TrailTestedMFG 07-18-2019 10:26 AM

Project Paddy Wagon | '89 Grand Wagoneer Build
We recently sold our 1969 Wagoneer Build (Build Thread Here) and it's time to start the next project! My good family friend was looking for a new home for her 1989 Grand Wagoneer and we jumped on it. Riley and I got married a few weeks ago and were trying to come up with a build name. Riley is Irish (and commonly referred to as a potato) so now that he is stuck with me for life the Paddy Wagon seemed pretty fitting.


1989 Grand Wagoneer

AMC 360 & Auto Trans

205k Miles

It runs and drives at the moment and is fairly clean. It was a chauffeur's vehicle for a high end hotel in Lake Tahoe for the early part of its life. It seems to be well maintained but does have a little cosmetic rust. The first thing I do to every rig is give it a good wash, buff and wax. It's amazing what can be hidden under a layer of oxidation and dirt! Next up will be to repair the saggy headliner. We're going to plan the build as we go, but as of now we're thinking LS swap, possible axle swap, lift kit and then drive the heck out of it.

TrailTestedMFG 07-18-2019 10:49 AM

We're both 6'2" and the saggy headliner was driving me crazy. Not only had the fabric separated, but the cardboard had also warped from a previous leak.

On the previous build we had no board and had to make one from scratch. I really didn't want to have to do that so I looked into alternative options. People have mentioned a marginal success rate with getting it wet and forcing it flat for a few days. I wasn't keen on the idea because if any moisture got back in it would just warp again. I called our local upholstery shop and he recommended using resin and fiberglass to reinforce it. Seemed worth a shot?

After laying a layer of resin and fiberglass on the back side of the board we sandwiched it between two layers of Melamine coated in a thick layer of carnauba car wax. We screwed the two boards together to force it flat and left it overnight.

When we opened it up the next morning it was almost perfectly flat. We didn't do too thick of a layer of fiberglass so it seems like it will still be able to bed slightly to fit the subtle curve in the roof.

The fabric is arriving today so I'm hoping to have them installed again by this evening!

SOLSAKS 07-18-2019 10:59 AM

I had just found out about the trail tested rig you built for the race a few days ago,.......

that being said, this wagoner is in good, capable hands with you guys !

just noticed your town's name

and I am old E-nuff to be reminded of "pinky tuscadero" on happy days tv show !

headliner looks like it will do well, good job !...

and GOOD LUCK on the new project ahead.

dave in NC:drivin:

TrailTestedMFG 07-22-2019 10:57 AM

While we had the headliner down I added some roof rack reinforcement brackets, re-sealed anything that may be leaking and added some Dynamat to the roof panels. On the last build I adhered Reflectix straight to the interior of the roof panel... but later learned it needs an air gap to work properly. So this time I adhered the Reflectix to the back of the headliner board, which should allow for an air gap between the roof panel and the headliner and help with insulation.

Then I applied the fabric to the board, using a clean paint roller to smooth it out. I wasn't a fan of the dark fabric overhead, so I swapped it out for something lighter.

Wrapping the overhead console was a PITA, and didn't turn out perfect. However, I'm happy with the outcome, especially for the total cost ($100). Next time I would be even more careful when installing it because we did end up with a few finger indentations in the foam.

SOLSAKS 07-22-2019 12:59 PM

dang, looks great.
the idea of using the roller
to press fabric without making dents is ingenious !
thanx for the tip !

enjoying the photos from this project.

keep us informed.

thanx !
dave in NC:drivin:

SJTD 07-22-2019 05:07 PM

Another thread with pichers getting blocked by the firewall. :banghead:

Where are you hosting your pics?

miracleed 07-23-2019 08:18 AM

congrats on getting married. that headliner looks awesome.

TrailTestedMFG 08-13-2019 03:46 PM


Originally Posted by SJTD
Another thread with pichers getting blocked by the firewall. :banghead:

Where are you hosting your pics?

Dang! I am currently hosting them on imgur.

rang-a-stang 08-25-2019 11:40 PM

Sweet work! That yellow wagoneer you guys sold was awesome. Those cantilevered shocks were amazing! Looking forward to this one coming together!

TrailTestedMFG 09-10-2019 10:17 AM

We just got back from our 3 week honeymoon adventure through Oregon and Idaho. We almost didn't come back, but a few awesome projects were calling our name!

While Riley unloaded the donor chassis we picked up before we left I worked on attaching the new hood insulation. It is a 5.3/6L80e from a 2012 Suburban. I warned him it was probably going to roll down the driveway with the technique he was using, and as I was typing this it took itself for a run and took out one of our storage containers... Woops!

I know what you are all thinking, and yes I am definitely saving the wheels for a future project ;)

TrailTestedMFG 09-12-2019 02:09 PM

We spent most of the day thinning out the wiring harness and cleaning it up. Next we dropped the motor in and while we wait for the Novak mounts to arrive are going to continue working on wiring. We want to try and integrate as much of the original dash as possible.

rang-a-stang 09-12-2019 05:20 PM

Dang! Sweet goat!

TrailTestedMFG 09-25-2019 08:53 PM


Originally Posted by rang-a-stang
Dang! Sweet goat!

Thanks! That's Uncle, our resident OSHA inspector.

We have been putting some long days into the Wagoneer the past week and have some great progress! This is the point in the project where I get horrible about taking pictures so feel free to ask if there is something in particular you want.

For time and simplicity sake we decided to go just go with the Novak motor mounts. The fuel tank arrived this morning (from a '96 2 door blazer) and Riley was able to find some goodies at the junkyard to fab up a mount with.

This afternoon we were at the point where we could try starting it and after playing with the ECM in HP Tuners we got her to fire right up! Everything looked good so we are now working on cleaning up the engine bay, looming wires and mounting accessories.

bluehwy 12-13-2019 09:35 AM

She on the road yet?

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