Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trying to get back at it

Well, it's been tough getting the Camaro back to the top of the project list. But I finally got the garage cleaned up enough to get back in where I left off.

So, I started by getting the drill out and hitting more of these spot welds. The tiny pinch welds on the outer wheel house are a bitch.

You get the idea, right?

The front of the quarter with the door hardware is much tougher on this side. It's almost impossible to see the spot welds. I don't want to tear into it as deep as I did before,so it will be slow going

One other thing I've decided to do is deleting the drip edges above the doors. I was thinking about door-handle deletes, but that just doesn't look right somehow. But I think trimming off the drip edges will clean up the car's lines. And it's not a particularly difficult thing to do.

Stay tuned. I'm really gonna try to get this project back on track.  Let's see how I do...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pathy fixed, Adventures with Garage Doors

Well, I officially hate roll-up garage doors now.  Mine broke.  And it broke beyond repair.  Twice.  After I took it completely apart and reinstalled it (properly).

What it is, is that old hip roof on the garage just doesn't lend itself to roll-up doors.  Not the way this thing is set up.  You can tell the garage originally had barn-style doors, and so I ripped the overhead door out, and with the help of my best carpenter/girlfriend ever, built these up.

I'm going to try rigging the opener to work with these--yes, it can be done, and it's not that big of a deal.  But for now, the old manual barn door style is just fine.  And, an added plus, I bought myself about 18" more garage space.

So now the Miata can live inside again, and I can HOPEFULLY turn my attention back onto the Camaro.  It's been tough, but if nothing else major breaks, I might actually get some work done on that damn car!

The Pathfinder seems to be all fixed up now, too.  I rigged up a small heat shield made of a sandwich of aluminum plates and fiberglass, with a little copper RTV thrown in to keep it all sealed up.  I used short self-tapping screws to get it fastened in.  No smoke, no fire.

The wierd thing is how quiet the Pathy is now.  I never realized how much noise that transmission was making, but it's so quiet and smooth now, I have trouble hearing the engine and hitting my shifts.  I'll have to get a tach to replace the dead one in the dash.  Also, the gearing in the '96 tranny is noticeably taller.  It's a little tough starting in second now, but on the top end, cruising at 80mph is about as effortless as it gets.  So we'll see how far past 225,000 miles that will get me.  Sure is nice having it back in action.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More Pathy Blues, and a new toy!

Well, the Pathfinder really ticked me off.  I got the transmission in, got everything put back together, except the exhaust, and took it for a (loud) drive.  Drives fine, shifts fine, and the transmission itself is a lot quieter.

Problem is, when I bolted the Y-pipe back to the exhaust, and drove the car to work, it started burning something (probably sound insulation and/or carpet) up under the dashboard.  I couldn't really see where it was burning, and it really seemed odd, because the Y-pipe doesn't go anywhere near there.  It has to be something with the exhaust,  but I had just plain had it.

Well, I lost my temper and said to hell with it.  Rented a car, and started seriously looking for a spare.  Ended up getting this sweet little 2006 Mazda MX-5.

If you think this is a girl's car, that just tells me you: A. Never drove one, or B. Have no idea what actual driving is.  It's not blistering fast, but it's quick.  The 2006 NC has about 170 horsepower, but a curb weight under 2500 lbs.  The only thing that will turn or stop faster than this is a sport bike.  There's an ENORMOUS amount of aftermarket support, too.  It's just a simple, durable little car all around.  No fancy BS to break on these.

It is tiny, but not uncomfortable at all.  I have plenty of leg and head room.  And I've been running a lot of unnecessary errands, just 'cause it's so darn fun.  Mine's the 5-speed.  They offered a limited slip with the 6-speed in the fancier cars.  That would be nice, but this is pretty darn good.  It's seriously a shit-load of fun to drive.

Yeah, got the car at CU.  They seem OK for the whole dealer experience.  They were no-hassle, no hard sale bullcrap.  They didn't want to dicker with the price, but in all fairness, they had a darn good price to begin with.  I have no complaints so far.  These pictures are theirs... I hope they don't mind!

I'm going to tear into the Pathy again on Saturday.  Shouldn't be too much trouble to figure out what I did wrong.  Then I gotta give it a really good wash inside and out.  Once that's out of the way, I can get the old tranny back for the core charge, and hopefully can re-focus on the Camaro again. . .

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Long time, no work. . .

It's been a long, nasty winter, and as you can tell, I haven't done much of any work on the car, or posting here.  Lots of things getting in the way of the Camaro project. . .

Currently, I've been sidetracked with the nasty job of swapping out the 5-speed in my Pathfinder.  It's been slowly grinding itself into oblivion, and over the last  couple of months it's got really bad.  I don't have a lot of pictures, but here's one of the magnetized drain plug:

It sure is purty.  But that's pretty good evidence that most of the bearings inside the transmission are grinding away.  It was just a matter of time before one or more of the bearings just plain let go, and I'd be stranded.

You wouldn't believe how tough it was to find a decent donor transmission in the junkyards.  There were plenty of automatics, but few 5-speeds.  And the ones I did find had as many or more miles than mine (225,000).  But I got lucky, and found a 1996 Pathfinder with only 130,000 on the clock.  It had been smashed up on the front pretty bad.

Just to note; Any V-6 Hardbody or Pathfinder was a valid donor.  Most of the parts on these vehicles are completely interchangeable, although the 4-banger powertrains don't interchange with the V-6 stuff.  There are literally bazillions of VG series engines out there.  The donor I found was the first year of the unit-body pathfinders, with the VG33E.  Later VQ series engines aren't interchangeable with the earlier stuff.  I've also heard that the 5-speeds in the 80's/90's 300Z's will also interchange directly, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

Anyhoo, getting the tranny out of the donor at the junkyard took about 5 or 6 hours.  It was rotten, and you only have what tools you can carry, so it's extra tough when you don't have something you need.  Plus, having the front end smashed in really made it tough to get to a couple of bolts that go in backwards, from the engine side into the bell housing.  The worst part was breaking the bolts loose on the drivelines.  They just didn't want to let go, and there was almost no room in there.

I figured removal and replacement on my vehicle would be straightforward, and easy.  But it's been nothing of the sort.  There are a ton of parts in the way, including 2 cross members, and the torsion bars for the front suspension.  You also have to pull a section of the exhaust out (Y-pipe).  The transfer case will not come out with the torsion bars/crossmember in the way.  Period.  The transmission is heavy, but manageable.  The transfer case is something else entirely.  It's gotta weigh a lot more than the transmission, and is just almost impossible to wrestle around.  I ended up buying a low-lift transmission jack from Harbor Freight.  There's no way this is a one-man job without one.

Anyway, at the present time, I have a new clutch installed, the replacement transmission and old transfer case back in the truck.  I still have to bolt up the clutch slave cylinder, re-index the torsion bars (which I've never done before), reinstall the crossmembers, and front/rear drivelines.  Then re-fill the transfer case with some nice GL-5, and refill the trans with GL-4 (the detergents/solvents in GL-5 will eat the synchros).  None of which is too tough, except for the exhaust.  I had to cut one of the bolts loose, and I'll have to drill that out and replace the bolt.  Unless I get mad, and just weld the bastard.  I expect to have it all done later tonight, unless I did something horribly wrong.

Then we'll see how many more miles I can squeeze out of the Pathfinder. . .  It really needs a bath inside and out, too.  Sure, at 225,000 miles, I could kidney car it, but I think it has a lot more left in it.  And it's been hands-down the best overall vehicle I've ever owned.  You always hate to loose the good ones.

On the Camaro front, I still need to order the passenger quarter panel and roof panel.  Money's in the bank, so it's just coming down to my lack of gumption.  But with the weather turning nice again, I expect to be back in full swing in no time.  I can move the Pathfinder out of the garage for the spring and summer, then spread out and get cracking again.

I did do some more web-searching for 4200 Vortec engines.  They can be had used for about $1500 at the most (some significantly less than that).  I'd still rather have a complete donor vehicle, but that just may not be practical.  If I run across one, I'll snatch it up, though.  Sure would be nice to have the engine, transmission, computer and wiring harness all together all intact.  But I got a long ways to go before I have to worry about that. . .

Hopefully I won't go so long without an update next time.  Sorry to keep you waiting.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I just realized how neglectful I've been with the blog, and this car project in general.

The winter/holiday season is always a little rough, and I've made ZERO progress on the car.  The RH quarter is off, and I still need to clean up the area and prep for installation of the new quarter.  Last winter I got a few days to get in the garage and do some work, but this winter I've been pretty lazy.

So, thanks to anyone still looking at this.  I will have updates.  My hope is still to have the quarter done, and start on the roof (or finish both) before the winter's out.  I'd really like to start re-assembling the car this summer.

I have the feeling that re-assembly will go fairly quickly--depending on how my finances hold up.  This year is looking pretty grim all-around.  We got fair increases at work, but income taxes are up, property taxes went way up, and I'm certain that everything is about to get a lot more expensive for all of us.  We'll see how tax returns go, but I'm guessing those will be a lot thinner as well. At the risk of offending you all, I gotta say I sure hope the people who re-elected Barry the Magic Negro are happy.  You got what you asked for.

Thankfully, most of the work on my car can be accomplished with a little hard work.  I hope the major expenses will be limited to the engine, front brakes, and suspension.  I won't worry about the interior until I have all the mechanical stuff settled.