Chevelle SS RESTORATION TIMELINE:
April 28-30, 2000:
From Friday night at 4:30 thru Sunday late afternoon, my
younger brother Scott and I began the “ripping & tearing” on the car.
Scott was the last person to drive the Chevelle into the maintenance
Saturday was the day that we had enough items un-hooked
to allow us to separate the body from the chassis. A little scary, since I had no idea how to do this or what to
expect. All but two body mounting
bolts turned freely and were removed. A
bolt at mid-body on the drivers side turned a bit, then the captive nut just
spun in the floorboards. A torch
was used to first melt off the remaining body bushing rubber, and then sever the
bolt. Another bolt, one of the two
at the base of the firewall in the square pockets, also turned. Torch was again used.
At about Noon, the body was lifted off the chassis using
the 4-armed shop lift. A tow strap
was slipped under the body at the rear wheel well, and two chains were used at
the front in the square pockets at the base of the firewall.
After lifting, the chassis was rolled forward and out of the way.
My snowmobile trailer was backed under the shell and it was lowered.
On Sunday, the engine, TH350, cross member, drive shaft,
etc… was removed. During the next
few days, the remaining chassis components like front A-arms, coils, shocks,
steering components, rear suspension, axle, etc… was removed to make the frame
ready for sandblasting.
I thought I would sandblast the frame, axle, and other
stuff myself, and after about 45 minutes on the axle, discovered what a nasty,
dirty, sweaty job that was. I
called in a professional mobile sandblasting company to do the frame.
They made quick work and the frame was taken down to bare steel.
I quickly applied POR-15 chassis black and also painted the rear axle,
front 1.125” sway bar, radiator support, A-arms, coils, brake spindles and
brackets. Since my rear control
arms were almost rotted thru with rust, they were chucked into the dumpster.
I ordered a complete HOTCHKIS rear control arm and brace kit from Summit.
The rear coils will be re-used. Stock
AC Delco shocks were ordered from Ground Up Restoration.
Preliminary chassis re-assembly began, and before long,
the rolling chassis took form. All
steering components were purchased new from Advanced Auto Parts, mostly MOOG
parts. A stock GM NOS rear sway bar
was scored on EBAY, for a good price.
So far, the plan has been to use a LT-1 350/375 Small
Block Chevy engine and a freshly rebuilt TH350 transmission for the Chevelle.
My dad gave me the engine, and I’ve just bought a bunch of dress-up
parts and performed a “quickie” teardown to inspect the rings &
bearings, all of which were still OK and totally re-usable.
I’ve installed an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake, Performer camshaft
& lifter kit, Edelbrock Performer 600 cfm carburetor and HPC Ceramic coated
headers. It wasn’t until January
of 2001 that the plans changed for the engine/trans combo.
Engine was dying to be started, so after installing the
radiator support, radiator, hoses, flex fan, HEI distributor, battery strapped
to the frame with bungee cords, temporary on/off switch cord wired to the HEI,
and making a pushbutton starter cord with alligator clips, along with a gas can
out back, the engine roared to life! With
the Flowmaster 2.5” GM A-body kit installed, along with 50 series mufflers,
this sounded awesome. Little did I
know that things would be changing in another 6 months!
Due to the delay in speaking with Fred my bodywork guy,
he wasn’t ready to take my shell until now.
I drove it up to his shop on the snowmobile trailer and dropped it off.
He placed it up on sawhorses and jack stands.
Progress was very slow, as his primary business is collision, so
restoration work only gets done in schedule gaps, etc…
Every so often I would go up to visit my car.
Fred cut out all the cancer-ridden floor panels, and has welded in all my
new panels. The good thing about
this car is that in the mid 80’s, I had the trunk reconstructed from a donor
car, and hung two full-size GM quarter panels.
The guy that did it “leaded” in the quarters and did an excellent
job. The only thing wrong with the
panels 15 years later was just some surface rust, easily removed.
While cruising EBAY, I found an auction for a ZZ502 GM
crate motor. This was the power
plant that I had told myself I would install “later” when I had the money.
Well, where there’s a will there’s a way.
I got the wife to tell me she didn’t care, or actually she said “
you’re going to do it anyway, right?” .
I e-mailed the seller, and before you know it, he ended the auction and I
bought it over the phone. My
younger bro Scott and I took a road trip out to Michigan to pick it up.
The engine was one of two ZZ’s the guy had.
He has a buddy that owns a Chevrolet dealership and the engines were some
kind of swap in a 2001 dually deal he was involved in.
As you can imagine, things really needed some changing
with this new mill. From the start,
I saw that the oil pan wouldn’t fit in my chassis, so I ordered a Milodon deep
sump kit with pickup. I also
ordered Dynomax ceramic coated headers, another Flowmaster 2.5” kit, March
billet aluminum pulley kit, Edelbrock aluminum long-style water pump, Demon 850
VS carburetor, Mallory Comp 110 electric fuel pump, Triangle Engineering 20
gallon aluminum fuel cell, Hays diaphragm clutch (for stock pedal pressure, the
wife wants to drive the car too).
Other EBAY scores were a Muncie M-20 transmission with
the good 2.52:1 first gear. I had
it totally rebuilt by John Turner in Methuen, MA.
I also installed a new Hurst Competition Plus shifter specifically for a
72 Chevelle with console. A
Lakewood blow-proof bell housing was obtained on EBAY, one of those great deals
on a part never used. I blasted off
the orange paint, and sprayed with black to match the block.
A Hays steel flywheel was bought from Jeg’s.
Over the next few weeks, the rolling chassis was again
attacked and engine/trans was replaced with the Big Block and Muncie components.
Once completed, the project kind of laid dormant, as I was waiting for
the return of the shell.
July 17, 2001:
I knew things were getting close, but the phone call
came from Fred today. “Come pick
it up, it’s ready”! Half hour
later, the body was back in my possession and man did it look great! Fred had painted the whole underside of the car, including
the firewall. The car was “jammed
out” with the final body color MULSANNE BLUE, CODE #26 in the trunk opening,
door jambs, windshield pillar, etc. The
door skins, roof, quarters were in a green etch-lock primer.
July 27-29, 2001:
My brother Scott helped me get things rolling.
I had purchased a set of wheel dollies, so moving the chassis under the
shell was a breeze. We rolled the body into the same shop bay as disassembly, and
lifted it in the same fashion. The
chassis was slid under, and we lowered the shell onto a new set of bushings.
Alignment was easier than I imagined, and all bolts were torqued.
I realize that front clip installation may require loosening these later,
but I won’t worry about that now.
August 3-5, 2001:
A big weekend, starting at 6:00AM and working both days
till around 4:00PM. I concentrated
on firewall items like MSD 6AL install, coil, fuel pressure regulator, Master
Power Brakes booster install, lines, etc…
Wiring harness will come later. Fuel
cell install including pump, filter, also were done this weekend.
August 10-12, 2001:
Wiring weekend! YUK……not
my strong point, however, with all new wiring harnesses bought from NPD, things
went together flawlessly. Forward
engine harness was routed along top of firewall with plastic gutter purchased
from Yr One. Harness was attached
along valve cover studs with rubber coated adel clamps, for the alternator
harness extension and water temp harness extension.
I also installed a restored SS full-gauge dash scored last year on EBAY,
to replace my idiot light, large gas gauge SS dash that was original.
Swap went fast, and everything hooked up easily.
By the end of the weekend, I installed a battery temporarily, and turned
on my key. Nothing smoked, or
caught fire (that’s a good sign) so I attempted a few tests. Wiper motor worked, amp gauge flickered, temp gauge went from
a reading down to dead cold, clock was ticking (and actually keeps perfect
time), so I tried the starter with a very quick bump.
After remembering that the clutch safety switch was installed, I verified
the operation of the starter. Worked
great, sounded even better. Can’t
start the car yet however, no oil or fuel yet.
Dual electric fans were wired in series, thru a heavy-duty relay mounted
under the dash. They are wired thru a 195-degree sending unit mounted into
passenger side head. Mallory Comp
110 electric fuel pump was also wired, using a Barry Grant relay.
For now, the pump is wired thru the ignition switch, but will pass thru
an oil pressure safety switch later.
August 24, 2001:
In my stupidity, I never thought to adjust my clutch
fork pivot ball when installing the clutch, flywheel, bell housing, etc…
Thanks to JeffK and Team Chevelle tech posts, I was faxed the
instructions for this important adjustment.
I also bought a stock GM clutch fork, as the Lakewood piece was
apparently causing some of my adjustment problems too.
So, on Friday night, the “backtracking” work began.
I pulled the drive shaft, tranny, cross member, can, and replaced fork
and adjusted pivot stud. By the end
of the evening, I had everything back together and could finally push in the
clutch to free the car from being in gear.
August 25, 2001:
I had a hard time sleeping last night, in anticipation
of the “big start” today. I
installed radiator hoses, fluid, primed the oil system, filled with 7 qts of Pennzoil
20W/50, put 5 gallons of fresh super unleaded into the fuel cell, purged the
lines by un-hooking line from regulator and putting into a plastic can, hooking
up the battery once more. With
nothing more to stop me, I took a big breath & keyed the starter. The massive ZZ502 roared to life on the first tap of the key.
I had already turned on the key to prime the fuel bowls, and with a quick
twist of the distributor the engine purred.
September 1-3, 2001:
Rear brakes were installed, even though I struggled with
them. All the pictures I could find
in Chilton’s or GM Service Manuals showed the parts but didn’t exactly match
the hardware kits I bought from Ground Up Restoration. I eventually figured things out and successfully installed
all the parts. Some minor
adjustment to the shoes will be required once the car is drivable on the road.
Over all, the brakes seem to be working very well.
The ZZ502 creates a good amount of vacuum, and every time I remove the
lead from the brake booster, a sufficient amount of pressure is released.
I designed a fuel cell vent by running a –8AN line
from the roll-over valve upwards, across the underside of the rear deck, and
then down thru the trunk floor using a 90-degree bulkhead fitting.
Under the trunk floor, a short piece of –8AN line and a K&N mini
filter lets the fumes exit under the car. All
lines were assembled using Aeroquip hose ends and braided stainless line.
The oil pressure safety switch that controls current to
the electric fuel pump was wired. This
involved simply intercepting the wire that runs from the IGN circuit on the fuse
panel, on its way back to the BG fuel pump relay.
Another lead from the safety switch runs down the small post on the
starter solenoid. After wiring, the
correct operation of the switch was verified by turning the key to the “on”
position, and the pump did not start. When
the engine is started, and oil pressure exists at the switch, current then flows
to the fuel pump. Even the bright
red “OIL” warning light in the bottom of the tachometer works correctly when
no oil pressure is sensed.
Rear bumper time. I
purchased an original triple re-plated Chevelle bumper on ebay recently, and it
was time to install. Placing next
to my old bumper, I removed the mounting brackets, sandblasted, primed and
painted. While waiting for the
paint to dry, I transferred the light buckets to the new bumper and drilled the
holes for the SS emblem. The bumper
was wired with a new rear lighting harness from NPD, and bolted to the car.
The intermediate harness was installed and hooked up, all rear lights
I wired the sending unit for the fuel cell with a good
ground, as well as running a wire into the rear lighting harness to the gas tank
lead. The fuel gauge worked
perfectly, as this was the last gauge in my restored SS dash to confirm its
operation. Just to confirm the
sending units accuracy, I got two 5-gallon gas cans of fuel, added to the almost
empty cell, and the gauge read half full. Looks
to be working and reading accurately!
I then wired my reverse lights from a two-lead harness
that was under the dash. I wired
down to the shifter, hooking to a plunger-style switch that John Turner
installed during the rebuild of my Muncie M-20.
The backup lights worked perfectly.
The front bumper brackets were removed from my original
bumper, sandblasted & primed, then painted. I ran out of time to install the new reproduction front
bumper, also acquired via EBAY.
Next I tackled some dash bulbs that didn’t appear to
be working. Now, all the gauges
have a working light bulb and the dash looks great when I shut off the shop
The last thing I did this weekend was to change the oil
& filter. I replaced the start
up oil with a fresh change of Pennzoil 20W/50 and a NAPA Gold 1060 filter.
September 8, 2001:
New reproduction front bumper was installed using new
bumper bolts and freshly sandblasted & painted brackets.
Final adjustment will be done after fenders are installed and shimmed
September 15, 2001:
I'm finding it a bit difficult to focus on this project
today. The events of last Tuesday are making work on the Chevelle
difficult. I sort of feel guilty working on it....
Installed new dome light switch in drivers side door.
While driving across parking lot, the car died.
I removed the air cleaner lid to discover that no fuel was being squirted
into the engine. I then checked the
two in-line fuses at the fuel pump relay. Both
were fine. Next, I bypassed the oil
pressure safety switch located at the back of the engine block. This sent a full 12V back to the relay. In checking the leads on the relay, and verifying that a full
12V was being fed into the fuel pump, a pump seizure was revealed as the
problem. The next day I removed the
pump from the car, and once again checked to see if it would turn over by
attaching the wires directly to a battery.
The pump would not operate, just spark.
I called Summit, and the pump was shipped back for a free replacement.
Looks like a bit of downtime till the replacement pump arrives.
October 27, 2001:
Picked up the “jammed out” fenders and inner fenders
from body guy today. I was able to
install the RH pair, however I discovered that there is a problem with either
the new door skin or new rocker panel. When
the fender is bolted to the car, there is excessive gap between the leading edge
of the door skin and the trailing edge of the fender. The problem is that the back edge of the fender is tight
against the rocker panel. I believe
there was a mistake made when the rocker panel was welded in place.
I need to bring the body guy into the loop for his input, but it
doesn’t look good. Another repair
may be in order.
November 3, 2001:
I decided to install the LH inner fender and outer fender today. This side went together like a dream. I've concluded that the RH rocker panel has been installed too far forward, thus creating excessive fender gap. I called Fred, and he admits that he may have rushed thru the step of rocker installation on that side. So, the car needs to go back for a correction of the rocker installation. On the plus side, I discovered why my alternator seemed to be overcharging. It turned out to be as simple as a lack of ground for the voltage regulator. Once the fenders were installed, a ground then existed for the VR and my alternator stopped squealing, and putting out a proper 14.5V at an idle and at speed.
December 2, 2001:
Here's one of those "totally un-necessary" parts that adds nothing to the cars functionality. I ordered a high-tech clutch activation rod & adjustment rod with threaded tubes and teflon-lined heim joints. It replaces the stock parts. Installed quickly and easily.
December 6-9, 2001:
I had the Chevelle transported on a roll-back tow truck to my body guy today. Over the weekend, Fred repaired the incorrectly installed passenger side rocker panel. I also want him to do my front fender gap adjustments. After returning the car to my shop, it's time to move on to hood, front lights, door glass & latches, windshield and rear glass installation. Paintjob should be scheduled for sometime during January or February, 2002.
I've installed a JAZ 45-degree short fuel cell filler neck with cap. What a major PITA that was to install....but whatever! I've also sandblasted, primed & painted my hood hinges. The hood has been installed, however I need to fine tune the fender gaps and hood side gap by shimming my fenders out. One thing that had been nagging me was whether my 4" K&N air filter element would interfere with my domed SS hood. I am using a Mr. Gasket 1" phenolic spacer to insulate the carb from manifold heat, so combined with a K&N drop down base, I thought things would be OK. The hood closes just fine, and does NOT contact the exposed threaded rod used in retaining the air cleaner. When closed, the air filter element is almost completely inside the cold air box portion of the hood. I've also installed the original battery tray (I had planned on using a billet aluminum clamp-down style unit that works with the Optima battery, but chose not to modify things there) so the battery is now secure.
Over the weekend on 2/17, I installed an AutoMeter Phantom 2 5/8" mechanical oil pressure gauge & single panel. It came with red & green "rubbers" that slip over the included bulb. This adds colored tint to the running light....chose the red one & it looks pretty cool. Need to plumb the line next. I also installed the braided steel LOKAR dipstick tube. I had heard on TC that Lokar dipstick tubes had fitment problems, I didn't experience this at all. Fits good, looks great.
I've fixed several things that had been ignored till now. The horn was not operable, and I suspected it had something to do with the relay. This horn relay is difficult to locate new, but I did find one at www.automobilearchives.com and installed. After realizing that the new Grant steering wheel horn button needed to be wired with both wires, the horn worked! Then I went on to install a second electric fan relay. As the fans came on, after about a couple of minutes of running, the fuse would blow. A phone call to SPAL tech line confirmed my suspicion that each fan needed its own separate relay. After testing, they seem to be working properly. Currently, I'm having trouble with the stock in-dash tachometer working with the MSD 6AL box. I purchased the recommended tach adapter & installed per instructions. The engine would crank but not start with this device installed. Kind of puzzling....unhooked the unit to get the car to run again.
March 9-10, 2002:
Saturday morning I got to work on the old girl from 8:30AM till 5PM. A lot was accomplished and more is planned for tomorrow. I began by finding a spot to tap into the engine for my oil pressure gauge. I decided to use one of the two "pan rail" ports that are plugged off. These are intended for using a external oil cooler. Earlier in the week, I had ordered an Autometer braided steel -4AN line for the gauge. I had to use a reducer bushing & 90-degree elbow on the block that I got from a local hardware store. After drilling a hole in my firewall, the line was hooked up to my gauge. The ground & hot lead to the gauge light was then wired. Now I've got a reliable & cool looking (red internal light) oil PSI gauge in the car. Next, I tackled one of the items I dreaded....door glass & mechanicals. Actually, due to a donor door being available, it went really quick & easy. Both doors now have their glass & latches installed. On Sunday, I installed both front light buckets, even though they need to be removed & painted separately during the paint job. I wanted to confirm all lights worked properly. I was experiencing a "fast directional" indication using the blinkers. Assuming it was a defective flasher unit, I replaced it. Still, the blinkers were operating fast. After doing a search on Team Chevelle's Electrical & Wiring forum, I found a post from someone with similar problems. Apparently, there are two flashers on my car...one on the fuseblock (the one I replaced) and another under the dash near the radio opening. When I replaced the second flasher unit, everything worked flawlessly! GO TEAM CHEVELLE !!! Then I installed my "Be Cool" catch can on the front side of my radiator support, on the passenger side. The grill will conceal it when installed. Next came the heater hose install. Operation of the heater & defrost was confirmed. They both blew hot air perfectly.
March 30, 2002:
After a couple weekend break, I'm back to tackle the addition of a couple of RPO's that my car did not leave the assembly line with. First, I purchased a "courtesy lighting" harness with bulb cups from another TC member a few months ago. These are plastic light sockets that attach to the bottom of the dash assembly, and shine light down onto the floor where your feet are as the door are opened or when the headlight knob is turned to "interior ON" position. The harness was out of a donor car, fit perfectly, tapped directly into my fuse panel under BAT port, and tied into my existing dome light trigger switches. Next I went on to install an EBAY part picked up in the last couple of weeks. This was a remote trunk lid release mechanism complete with a dark green pushbutton. After testing & cleaning the latch mechanism, it was bolted into place. A 12V trigger wire was run along the interior floor, up thru the passenger side kick panel area, and up to the top side of the glove box. I decided to mount my activation switch on the "roof" of my glove box. It's a really slick location, and should prevent any accidental openings while cruising. For a 12V source, I simply tapped into the orange wire leading to my glove box light switch. I also added a trunk compartment light, activated by a mercury switch. The rear lighting harness actually has a short 12V lead with protective plastic sleeve from the factory. I ran a wire from the light thru the interior of the trunk lid, exiting thru a small hole by the lid hinge. It taps into this 12V lead & works great.
April 6th, 2002:
I installed a small series of special screws that are used to attach the window molding clips to the rear channel. At one time or another, the original "nail head" studs that came from the factory came up missing. These screws were present along the front windshield frame, but missing on the back glass frame.
April 13-14, 2002:
I bled the rear brakes using my new hand-operated vacuum pump w/reservoir. Seemed to work great. I also installed the correct emergency brake cable hooks. After adjusting my rear brake shoes, more bleeding was done. Finished off the first day with an oil & filter change. On Sunday, I tackled the rear suspension. I installed a set of Hotchkis 2" lowering springs, Edelbrock ho-hop bars and KYB gas-adjust shocks. The car definitely sits lower now. The front springs will be changed out probably next weekend. A result of doing this was almost ZERO pinion angle on the rear drive shaft u-joint! One negative result was that my P275/60-15 BFG Radial T/A's now scrub the inside lip of my quarter panels. I rolled them back with an adjustable wrench, now there is no interference. The day's work was successfully confirmed by doing a spirited smoky burnout, with NO wheel hop whatsoever! YEAH BABY!
April 19th-21st, 2002:
Started the front suspension changes on Friday night after work. In only 2.5 hours, I had removed & installed the front Hotchkis 2" lowering springs & KYB gas-adjust shocks. I also mounted a new set of BFG P235/60R-15 tires to my American Racing Torq-Thrust D wheels. Now, there is no more tire scrubbing. On Saturday I mounted a new center dash speaker into the old frame, then bolted to the dash. I've decided to re-use my original MONO dash pad, so a thorough cleaning was in order. By Sunday night, the car was ready to get its windshield & rear glass installed. I'll be calling Portland Glass on Monday AM for an appointment.
April 26, 2002:
Two techs from Portland Glass (Jamie & Tim) came out today & installed a front windshield and the rear window into the Chevelle. These two guys are PRO's and did an excellent job on the install. Next, I will need to install the door weather-stripping pieces so the car can be wet-sanded during the paintjob. Stay tuned......things are definitely coming together!
April 27, 2002:
Weather-stripping installation on the trunk, doors & roof rail. Using 3M adhesive, I've been able to install most of these. Some minor adjustment of my door glass will be required, so they seat into the new rubber when cranked up. I spoke to Fred the body guy today, and we're still on track (just barely) to paint the Chevelle during the week of 5/13. Interior install is scheduled on 5/28 and the appointment can't be easily rescheduled if we miss it....
May 4, 2002:
In preparation for inspection, I've installed the seatbelts temporarily. On Monday, 5/6, the inspection should be performed, so I'll be able to finally drive the Chevelle on the road! I will then schedule an alignment at Sugarbush Service Station with Bentley Hoyt. I spoke to him last week, and he is looking forward to working on the car. During my first time driving the car, I'll check for proper engine coolant temps, speedometer accuracy (comparing it to another vehicle driving in front of me), and will also stop by the gas station for a first-time fuel up with my trunk mounted fuel cell. This is all being done so that Richard Pitonyak can drive my car up to the body/paint shop on 5/13 while I'm away.
May 9th, 2002:
Alignment went very smoothly. Bentley took the car right at 8:00 AM and I stayed the whole time. He set the Chevelle up with me being the primary driver. I then stopped off at Fred's to verify he can take the car on Monday for 2 weeks of paint work. The car was dropped off on Tuesday May 14th.
June 13th, 2002:
Well, things with the paintjob aren't progressing smoothly at all. All dates were missed, including the interior installation appointment which was cancelled all together. I will do interior install myself after paint is done. I spoke to Fred today, and he's in the middle of another restoration over the next 2 weeks. He PROMISES me that after that my Chevelle will be priority #1, and that he'll have it done by July 10th. This will give me two days to install the interior and get it ready for a club car show on Saturday the 13th.
July 1st, 2002:
The Chevelle is in the paint shop, and seems to be ready for wet sanding. The roof has been completely stripped to bare metal, using chemicals. Some filler has been used to occupy a low spot or two. Pics are up on the "Body & Mounting" page of the site. More to follow. Thursday is the 4th, so no work on that day, but Fred says that he expects to shoot the car with paint later in the week. Looks like 7/10 finish date is very possible!
July 2nd, 2002:
More pics on the "Body & Mounting" page....the body is in primer & should begin wetsanding tomorrow. Stencil kit needs to be looked at and a White stripe color chosen.
July 5th, 2002:
Several small parts are now painted, including the underside of the hood. I chose to paint the underside of the hood as body color, instead of factory black. I believe it looks nicer, and since this car is "modified" and won't be entered into any stock class competition, it doesn't matter anyway. Hood flapper door, headlight buckets, bottom of grill are all painted Mulsanne blue. Fred is confident that he will shoot the car with paint on Monday 7/8/02. I dropped off the SS stripe stencil kit and we discussed how they should be aligned. I gave him a couple of photos of Chevelle stripes I downloaded off the internet. He also has the GM assembly manual to help in the alignment.
July 8th, 2002:
Stopped off to take some more pics today. Fred had already completed the final wet sanding of the body, and applied a coat of adhesion sealer. He painted the hood & trunk area white, then began to apply the stencil kit to block off the white for the application of the base coat (Mulsanne Blue) which is going onto the car as I type this. I'm headed back to take some BLUE pictures on my way home from work. I'll post the pics into the new section of my site, "Finished Car Pictures" tomorrow AM.
July 9th, 2002:
IT'S BLUE BABY !!!!!! Check out the latest pics on my new page "Finished Car Pictures" on the site's main page. She looks awesome! Tuesday the car is just curing, and on Wednesday Fred will wetsand the clearcoat, then perform a final buffing. I pick up the Chevelle on Wednesday late afternoon. I'm taking off the next two days to work solely on the car in preparation for a Saturday club car show. All exterior emblems, trim, etc... will be completed, and if there is time I will tackle interior installation.
July 11th, 12th & 13th, 2002:
For the last three days, I've been installing all the exterior items like front bumper, grill, grill trim, emblems, hood plates, pins and cables, rear quarter panel marker lights, trunk lid emblem, all window chrome trim, roof rail gutter trim, hood emblems, wheelhouse chrome moldings, door handles, and more. Unfortunately, the interior isn't installed due to a time crunch for my car show tonight, 7/13/02. But, with the exception of only the cowl induction flapper door and the "SS" and "502" fender badges, everything else is on. I've very carefully washed the car, and its ready for the show! CHECK OUT THE LATEST PICTURES ON THE NEW PAGE CALLED "FINISHED CAR PICTURES" LISTED ON MY MAIN PAGE.
July 16th, 2002:
Well, I've decided not to install my interior myself. Having seen the professional, high-quality workmanship of RICHMOND UPHOLSTERY owned my Mike Lemire in Richmond, VT, he gets the job. I've scheduled it for the 7th of August and it will take about 4 days. If it goes as well as the bucket seats and rear seat halves he already did for me, the interior will be better than new when it returns.
A slight problem developed over the weekend, and has already been resolved. After the car show (non-judging club show, lots of compliments!) my wife and I took the Chevelle for a short cruise. Not long into the drive I noticed my battery began to dwindle, barely getting it back home before dark. Turns out the alternator wasn't charging at all. A quick replacement of the piece with another one solved the problem. I've been enjoying some short "romps" over the last couple of days. I even got to drive it on the Interstate so I could begin getting the data necessary for a speedometer drive gear swap. I measured the time it took to drive exactly one mile, with the speedo reading 60 MPH. I did it twice, and both times came up with 48 seconds. That translates to a 20% underdriven cable speed. I will need to remove and count the teeth on my current cable gear, then buy one with 4 teeth less. That should increase my cable speed by 20% and get the speedometer correct. Oh, what fun!
July 20th, 2002:
Today I installed the "SS" amd "502" fender emblems. The layout was critical to getting these placed in the correct place and getting them straight. I used manilla folder stock to draw layout lines, then using my GM Assembly Manual, locate the three holes per "S". In making this template, all that was necessary to install on the car was to make two reference lines from 20" up from the bottom of the fender, and 5" forward of the back of the fender. From there, minor adjustments to the holes were marked out using a dial caliper. Once the template was in place, punch marks were made and the holes were drilled. I chose to use emblem barrel nuts instead of trying to get nuts on the backside of the fender. After the "SS" emblems were placed, the self-adhesive "502" emblems were centered and pressed into place using the width of a piece of masking tape as a spacer. Pictures are up on the "Finished Car Pictures" link off my main page. Check 'em out! Well, its off to a dinner cruise tonight, hope the old girl doesn't break down on me....
July 27th, 2002:
I spent time today installing my door locks. With my huge mitts, getting inside the door to install the two short bolts that hold on the door handles was a real treat! But, with a bit of luck, everything went together fine. Now, the doors open better (due to the pushbutton rod being adjusted better) and can be locked/unlocked with the new keys. Tomorrow is my brother's day....we need to work on getting his '68 Camaro SS running better, then replace his TH350 dipstick tube and change the pan gasket. We plan on changing out his intake gasket set, try another distributor and carburetor.
The Chevelle is scheduled to head out to the interior shop late in the day on August 7th, so before that I need to reinstall my door weatherstripping and gather/inventory all my interior parts.
August 7th, 2002:
The Chevelle has been dropped off at the upholstery shop for installation of all the interior parts & pieces. I'll be picking it up on Friday 8/16. Pix will be posted upon its return!
August 16th, 2002:
Words cannot describe what awaited me when I picked up my car today! Ever since I've owned this car, the interior was shot, the floorboards were shot, etc... Picking up the Chevelle, with all its NEW interior parts installed, was like getting your first new car at a dealership. The interior parts were fitted and installed to perfection by Mike Lemire at Richmond Upholstery in Richmond, VT. While I was away on a vacation, he painstakingly transformed my gutted interior into "better than new" condition. Items installed include the headliner & insulation, rear package tray, trunk divider board, sound deadener, carpet set with attached insulation, kick panels w/speakers, dome light wiring & bezel, door panels, rear panels, handles, crank knobs, "SS" emblems on doors, center console, 4-speed top plate, courtesy light panel on rear of console, new rear view mirror & mounting post and finally the re-upholstered bucket seats and rear seat halves. The finishing touch was to place a new set of "The Hearbeat of America....Yesterday's Chevrolet" embroidered floor mats.
As I pulled away from the shop, the car seemed much different sounding inside with all its new parts. It even seemed to drive better! Check out the interior pictures posted in the "Interior Pictures" section of my site.
August 29th, 2002:
I purchased a set of 3-point retractable shoulder harness w/lap belt system from ANDOVER RESTRAINTS, INC. http://www.andoauto.com/seat_belts.htm and installed tonite. The belts used all three stock mounting positions, therefore no modifications at all. The retractor mounts using an "L" bracket, the inner belt is housed in a hard plastic sleeve, and the shoulder harness mounts to one of the two factory bolt holes. Very quick & easy install...pictures are loaded onto the "INTERIOR PICTURES" page on my site.
October 30, 2002:
The Chevelle is 95% finished, but the 5% remaining isn't preventing me from driving the car & having fun. So far, I've taken her to Burlington a couple of times, with steady coolant temps and smooth driving qualities. The stares and thumbs ups are endless. As the cruising season is almost over (we had snow last Saturday) I'll be putting the car into storage in the next week or so. That will free up the garage bay where I've restored and parked the '72 SS starting back in April of 2000. So what will become of the empty bay? Why starting in on another resto of course! I purchased a '71 Chevelle 2-door hardtop Malibu back in the summer of 2001, and my plan is to restore it using a Pro-Touring theme. In a nutshell, the car will incorporate the most high tech suspension & driveline possible. Parts from companies like Hotchkis, BAER, Global West, American Racing, BF Goodrich, Richmond, Moser, Denny's Driveshaft, Lakewood, Centerforce, GMPP, Recaro, Holley MPFI, Dynomax, Flowmaster, Be Cool and Edelbrock will be plastered all over the car. A velour interior is planned, to replace the stock vinyl panels & seats. The instrumentation will be a custom designed dash using a panel of either brushed aluminum or carbon fiber, filled with Autometer Phantom-Series gauges.
Anyway, the only things left to do on the '72 SS are: windshield squirter plumbing & hoses, cowl hood flapper door & parts assembly, headlight adjustment, rear seat ashtray installation, console lock install, Custom Autosound AM/FM/CD Changer installation, tachometer repair (hasn't worked at all),....that's all I can remember right now.
I plan to buy another domain name for the website that will document the restoration of the '71 Malibu into a Pro-Touring gem. I've checked the availability of a few choices like 71ChevelleSS.com, 71ProTouring.com, 71ProTouringChevelle.com. Stay tuned for the reports on the new project. I appreciate all the assistance I've gotten while performing the restoration on the '72 SS. Team Chevelle members have been a valuable resource for questions along the way. Some of you have commented on the website, and for that I say "Thanks"!
The work has begun on the '71 Pro Touring theme Chevelle. I've even started another site to document the restoration just like this site. Here's a link:
May 25, 2004:
I will be attending my 2nd Chevelle-abration car show in Nashville next week! The Chevelle hood was dropped off at the body/paint shop this morning to have the cowl induction flapper door striped. Since it was not installed during the paintjob back in July '02, it needs to have the white applied and then cleared. Should be back on Friday and I leave for TN on Tuesday AM at O-dark-thirty! Not much else to report on the '72 Chevelle SS, as my main focus lately has been on the new '71 Pro Touring Chevelle project. So, for now, there are car shows and lots of "horsepower therapy" sessions with the '72 SS. Enjoy your summer...I know I will!