Right after work ended, I headed down to the auto parts store (where they now recognize me) and picked up a few things.
I was very surprised to learn that the coolant capacity for the Caprice is almost five gallons, so I picked up a few more gallons. I also got a drainage pan, which is a much better substitute for the mop bucket I used last night. I also got a decent floor jack, which will make raising the car a LOT easier when the need arises. And most importantly, I picked up a new thermostat and a new water pump.
The thermostat would be first, seeing as how it's a much smaller job, and could very well be the culprit.
A lot of the work that needed to be done to access the thermostat was stuff I did yesterday, so this was not new ground for me. I proceeded with caution, but with confidence.
After about ten minutes, I had the thermostat cover off, and the old one removed.
Really the most time consuming part was cleaning the gasket gunk off the lid and the housing. That took about 20 minutes. The actual removing of the thermostat and replacing it with the new one took literally one minute.
Here's the new thermostat in place, all ready to be sealed up.
Once it was all put together, I added some more coolant, and took it for a spin. The temperature gauge BARELY moved!!!!!! I must confess, it is an IMMENSELY satisfying feeling to complete a job like that on my own. Though frankly, I did not do it by myself. Without the help of my friends over at the Replica Props Forum and Chicks Love The Car, I would probably still be dead in the water. Huge thanks and kudos to everyone who participated in this work, provided insight and expertise, and most of all the motivation to keep on chugging. Thanks guys!!!