Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The POR-15 is on the subframe.  I will top this with a coat of black enamel, as the POR-15 is not UV resistant, and no one wants a bright silver frame.

Coating the inside was a beast.  I still need to go over that again.  This is accomplished by zip-tieing a small sponge to a thin pole.  You dab the sponge in the paint, and run it up and down inside the frame.  It's not too tough, but it's hard to hit some spots, and impossible to hit others.

You could make the argument that powdercoating would've offered more coverage, but I have never been impressed with powdercoating.  The POR-15 is far more durable.

The best thing about this, is that this is one of the first things that can go in the "build-up" column, versus the "tear-down" column.  Very exciting.  You need these little things to keep up your motivation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's a long road yet. . .

This weekend marked some good progress on the car.  I have the interior 90% stripped out, with only the dash/firewall area left to go over.  I want to take my time with that.

I did find one more tiny rust spot in the floorboard that will have to be repaired.  It's in a really bad spot, up on a 3-way corner of the driver side kick board.  I haven't wire-wheeled it to see what the real extent of the rust damage is yet.  Not looking forward to that.  But I still shouldn't complain.  I'm really lucky that the floor wasn't completely rotted out of this car, given the amount of time it spend out in the weather.

I also took the rest of the glass out of the car.  Removing the rear quarter windows took a little time to figure out, but was easy once I got a good look at it.  I didn't see any reference to this area in the factory assembly manual, so I didn't have much to go on.

The headliner stripped out fairly easily, and from looking at it, I don't think reinstalling the new one will be much trouble.  Also, on a very positive note:  The roof supports only have some very minor surface rust.  I was worried that they'd be completely rotten, too.  That's a stroke of really good luck.  So as it stands now, I should be able to get away with replacing the roof skin.

One sad note is the area between the rear window and the trunk.  Don't know exactly what that's supposed to be called, but it's another common problem area in these cars.  It will have to be replaced.  But in the scope of things, that should be one of the easier repairs to make.

I also ran into the old lead body filler at the quarter panel/roof seams.  I took a quick stab at removing some of the lead, just to see how difficult it will be.  It's not hard, but I'll have to take care not to burn the hell out of myself doing it.

Next on the list:  I need to get some 1" square tubing to make body supports for the roof replacement.  I think instead of reassembling the front end to make the car easier to deal with, I will just move on and try to complete the body work before I do any re-assembly.

I also need to move the car a foot or two away from the back wall of the garage.  Haven't quite worked out how to do that yet, but it shouldn't be too difficult.  Probably just a matter of getting it on the floor jack and easing it out.  Then I can move on to the trunk area, and see what I'm up against there.  I'm hoping it will be OK.  I've checked on the trunk a few times over the years, and it always looked like it was holding out.  But I won't really know until I tear into it.

Found some nice parts I'd stashed away in the interior.  A pair of sway bar links that came with the poly bushings I put in the front end.  I also have a set of polyurethane ball joint caps.  The replacement headliner and door panels, a chrome valve cover for the 250, and a set of replacement mirrors for the doors as well.  I believe there are a few more parts stashed in the trunk, but I don't have an exact inventory.  Yet.

I also got a coat of POR-15 on the subframe.  Really, I should've been completely done with the frame, but for some reason (lack of humidity???) the POR-15 took all day to cure.  When I painted my A-arms, it cured in a couple hours.  Don't know what's different, but I checked this morning, and it was all cured up.  I'll go over it once more probably tomorrow, and that will be all done, ready to go back on the car.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting the hang of it, sorta.

I got the subframe mount repair bits in the other day, and welded one in.  I took a bunch of pics, to try and detail the process.  It's really not too tough, just takes some time.

The first thing to do is line up the repair piece. You want some kind of indicator of position.  Here, "top" was plenty, as there wasn't too many other ways this thing could go on there.  YOu can just barely see I've traced the piece with a black Sharpie.  Could just as easily use soapstone, but Sharpies smell better.

There you can see the tracing.  You can see how rusted the mount is from here.  Not good.  The new mounts will be much stronger, and a much tighter fit.

Next, you cut out the old nasty stuff.  My cut here isn't too clean on the inside, but I fixed that with a nice flat file I keep around.

Fitting the piece after you cut takes a little time.  You want the repair piece to be completely flush with the frame.  The magnets help to hold the piece.  They're not very strong, but they do OK.  I'll probably pick up some stronger magnets in the future.  These are nice because they can hold the metal at several different angles.  All you need is enough hold to place your tack welds.

Those be the tack welds.  I also tacked it on that other outside corner, to make sure the  piece doesn't move as the metal tries to contract/expand as it's welded.

Now, despite myself, I almost got a half decent bead going there on the top.  I found that moving faster and watching the puddle helped a great deal.  It's important to be comfortable, and not to strain.  I have an awful tendency to hold the welding gun with a Death Grip, and that's just not necessary.  You want to be nice and relaxed, and let things flow instead of forcing them.

You'll note the white/yellow color on the metal.  These repair pieces are galvanized steel.  You want to take care with galvanized metal, because as you weld and cut and grind it, it gives off some fairly nasty dust and gas.  It's advisable to have a well-ventilated area, regardless of what you're welding.  There are always fumes, and if you're welding with inert gas, as I am, that stuff is heavier than air, and will collect around the floor.  If you're not careful, you can just kinda asphyxiate yourself and never know it.

See that nasty white stuff?  I wish they wouldn't send these out galvanized.  I'm going to POR-15 the whole frame, anyway.  The black streak is where the weld has penetrated through.  I have the welder set at 3 on the power, and between 25/30 on the wire feed.  And I have the gas set at just under 20 cubic inches/minute.

After some flap-disk fun and games, the repair ends up looking OK.  It feels much stronger than the old one, too.

So that's all there is to welding in a replacement piece in that frame.  I'm only going to do the same mount on the other side of the frame.  I do have replacement pieces for all of it, but the other subframe mounts are good to go.

Floor Pan Blues

Well, I was hoping to skate by on the floor pans, but it turns out a smallish chunk of the right (passenger) side needs to be replaced.  I jacked up and blocked the car a little higher, so I could get in there and wire wheel some of the old undercoating and surface rust off.

Here's a pic of the left (driver) side.  Looks bad, but it's solid.  My guess is that on the right side, someone used the floor drain or rocker as a jacking point, as this area is a little bent up.  That's all it took to make room for that nasty tinworm to move in and eat up the steel.

I was only intending to do the areas around the subframe mounts and rockers (that area beneath the door).  There was much more damage to the right side than I saw earlier.

The nice thing is that the damage doesn't extend up into the rocker itself, or up into the floorboard of the car.  It's localized right at along the edge where the rocker meets the floor pan.  So I should only have to replace a single section of the panel.

It's not a bad thing, all in all, except for having to be crawling under the car to cut/fit and weld in a patch panel.  It will be good practice for the rear quarters and roof replacement.

Note how I have the car blocked up.  I wanted a little extra security, so I used a 6"x8" pressure treated beam held up on some jack stands.  This is fine for inspecting the area, and pretty safe for working as well.  But when I replace the floor panel, I'll have to do something else.

This is one of those times you wish you could afford a rotisserie.  But, I actually have an idea for doing the work on the floor from another online camaro restorer.  Looks like he put some heavy-duty stands on the back axle, and then made a brace between the subframe mounts on the cowling.  Then he jacked the whole car up with a cherry picker.  I may try that out.  Or not.  It ain't the best idea.

Could see about renting a rotisserie, but I'm not sure there's anyone around who would have one.  That might accelerate the process, as I'd have to completely strip the car and mount it up.  Have to think on that.  I guess I could build one, but my fabrication skills are mediocre at best right now.

Oh, and the garage is MUCH cleaner.  I spent some time straightening it up and moving out some trash.  It's awful nice to have a clean(er) place to work.  I was actually able to walk around the car and find some shit I was looking for the other day.  Incredible.

I do need to dump out my toolbox and reorganize it.

The repair panel for the floor is ordered.  Should have it in a couple days.  I will detail that process as it moves forward.

Things that make you go, "Hmmm"

Got my master chassis fastener set in a few days ago.  In a word, it's impressive.  And worth every penny.

The box is full of tiny, labeled bags for each smaller subset of fasteners.  There are things in there I didn't even know came off the car in the first place!  Check it out.

Anyway, I would regard this as a "Must Have" for someone doing a restoration.

I also received the body and radiator support bushings, which await my completing repairs to the subframe, which I'll post part of here in just a minute.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Impatience is not a virtue

Well, I thought I had the frame all ready to go, but looks like there's more to do before I can get it painted up.  The two rear body mounts are much more rusted than I thought, and they will have to be repaired.  Choices are to either fabricate new sections, or order repair parts.  I'll probably to a little bit of both.  While I'm at it, I will likely take a closer look at the other end as well.  I've already welded in some extra support for the center mounts, and they should be fine.

The A-arms are partway done.  I need to hit the bottom sides with the POR-15, and then finish coat them.

Pics will follow.  In the meantime, here's a wicked cool video of a twin-turbo 68 Camaro on the track.

Update:  Frame repair parts are ordered.  Should have them late this week or early next.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Continuing frame and front suspension prep

No pictures this time.  But progress has been made.  I ordered a set of repair washers for the body mounts on the subframe.  They weren't bad enough to really need repair, but I'd rather not have to tear the subframe out of the car again.  These pieces weld onto the underside of the mounts, reinforcing them without changing the geometry of the frame.  I'll have pics of the process of welding them in.

I've also ordered a master chassis fastener set and body bushings from Rick's Camaros.  Total was about $330.  But I shouldn't have to buy much of anything more as far as fasteners go.  That will allow me to replace ALL of the old nuts and bolts.  I just ordered reproduction rubber body bushings--opting out of doing polyurethane this time.  I do have all-poly in the suspension.  I put all that in a long time ago.

Prep continues on the A-arms.  I have one left, then I can get them painted.  I'll need to get the disc brake conversion set ordered, springs and shocks.  I won't likely buy all that at once, but I'd like to get the chassis rolling again, so I can wheel it out and get going on the back end.  In a perfect world, I'd have a shop big enough to just tear the whole thing apart all at once.  But I think this will work.

One last thing, I ordered a quart each of the POR-15 Marine Clean, Metal Prep and POR-15 silver.  I think that should be enough to finish off the frame and suspension.  Hopefully, it will leave me enough to repaint the firewall and do some work underneath the car.  The floorpans, etc. . . were so 'clean', that I think it would be counterproductive to strip and recoat them at this point.  But I will strip and recoat everything around the body mounts.

I will start making up a list of actual expenses here soon.  I'd like to have all that documented.  Not from a budgeting standpoint, but as a point of reference for what something like this actually costs.