This is the story of the LS1 swap in my 1968 Camaro Convertible as it was originally posted on MySpace.
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If you don't already know, I'm in the process of putting an aluminum 5.7L LS1 V8 and T56 6-speed transmission into my 1968 Camaro Convertible. Yes, I'm finally doing something to the Camaro instead of just talking about it. At the moment, it's more like I'm in the process of ordering parts and organizing my garage.
I picked up an engine and transmission from a 1999 Camaro SS on Ebay. I won the auction on the 4th of July while I was watching fireworks with Dan and Morgen. <3 eSnipe.
I spent the past two weekends cleaning up my garage and finally have room to work, and my toolbox in order where I can find tools. I think I'm about 80 percent done gathering parts... except for all of the ones I've forgotten :). By the way, does anyone know how to enter a percent sign on this blog without it getting munged?
Anyone want to buy a Chevy 350 and TH350?
Yesterday we pulled the old engine out. It's great to have friends :) -- we got 2-3 weekends of work done in one afternoon. Pics are at http://www.blown.net/ls1swap/.
Anyone want to buy a Chevy 350 and TH350?
I got the new subframe bushings and steering box installed, and I rolled the car out of the garage yesterday to hose out the engine bay. I would have dropped in the new engine today if I didn't have to work (and wasn't hung over). Actually I didn't have to go into the office after all, but the engine is still sitting on the stand.
The engine is off the stand, the clutch is installed, and the transmission is reattached!
The engine is installed! Well, the front mounts at least, no crossmember yet... and it has to come back out :(. I spent about 6 hours today fighting with the engine and transmission to get them far enough back drop onto the frame stands. It turns out there were two things in the way--the heater core and the wiper motor. Both are destroyed now. The heater core was plugged anyway so no big loss there, but I wasn't really planning on replacing the wiper motor. So about it coming back out. The reason it was so hard to get in was that I used Hooker mount plates, which put the engine way too far back. I've got about 1/4 inch clearance between the heads and the firewall. I'm going to switch to different mount plates, and haven't decided which yet. Probably ATS--their parts are really nice.
So every muscle in my body is sore now, and I can barely stand up. Even my hands hurt! I rolled the car in and closed the garage doors and didn't clean up at all. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough tomorrow evening to push it back out and clean up, but it'll probably be Tuesday or Wednesday.
Wow, a whole month since the last update and not much has changed :(. So I bought a set of Autokraft mounts last week, and tried to put them in last weekend. As long as I had the engine out, I also went back and tapped the missing oil pan bolt hole in the block. '99 F-body LS1's didn't use that hole, but Kurt at Autokraft said the Autokraft pan would leak without it. So I got the Autokraft plates on dropped the engine back in. Except it wouldn't drop down on the stands properly :(. Through a dozen iterations of pulling the engine and dropping it back in, with some discussions with Kurt at Autokraft and people on ls1tech.com forums mixed in, I finally got the engine mounts bolted in. It turns out I had two problems. First, I was using the Energy Suspenion pre-load plates that came with the ES mounts. It turns out you're supposed to omit those with this style of adapter plate. Second, a lip on the ES mount was hung up on the frame stand and I had to grind off that lip. Tyler at ATS clued in me late Sunday night that grinding was required on some cars. He also clued me in that the Autokraft plates were basically a copy of his plate design. I should have just bought ATS plates in the first place. If you're ever doing an LS1 swap, buy parts from ATS! Their parts and support are top notch. Next major headache is doing brake lines on the rear end and running fuel lines--I hate running hard lines :(.
Haven't touched the Camaro in two weeks. I really need some motivation to finish it... and to actually stay in town for a weekend without throwing a party.
I finally made some fucking progress! The transmission crossmember is installed, the headers are installed, the clutch master cylinder is installed, and I cut a new hole in the floor for the shifter. The crossmember didn't quite fit becuase it hit the floorpan. I did a floorjack clearance modification to the floorpan and now it fits fine :). The right side header fit great. The left side hit the steering box in two places and the pitman arm, of course. A few whacks with a hammer took care of that, although I managed to hit finger with one of those whacks and take a nice chunk out of it. Amazingly I was able to feed the header down through the top instead of up from the bottom. I don't think I would have been able to do that with the Hooker engine mount plates. On the other hand, I wouldn't have had to beat the hell out of the #3 & #5 header tubes if I had stayed with the Hooker plates. Amazingly, my old exhaust looks like it'll line right up to the LS1 headers. I just had hack some of it off with the Sawzall, and all I need now is a tailpipe expander to hook it up. So moving back top side, I dusted off the cutoff tool and cut a new hole in the floor for the shifter. I had to do another hammer modification to a reinforcement that ran under the floor at the back end of the shifter. I still need to weld that up so it's boxed again, and weld a plate over the old shifter hole. And POR15 all of it. Next I bolted in the clutch master cylinder, and drilled and tapped the pedal to hook up to the ATS pushrod on the slave. I didn't feel like bleeding it tonight, so I didn't connect it to slave yet. I started to put the brake booster back in, but it hits one of the coils--I'll have to order a smaller booster. It feels damn good to actually get more than one task done for a change.
And the slow progress continues... a couple of weeks ago I order a Hydratech hydroboost unit and installed it, and this weekend I fabbed up some rear brake lines and a bracket and installed them on the 9-inch. I also crawled under the rear and hit all the bolts on the springs/shocks with some PB Blaster to prep for swapping the rear end next weekend.
And it's still going slowly... too much fucking travel lately, but at least it beats going into the office. Anyway back to the Camaro--today I cleaned up my garage a little so I could slide the back of the car over a couple of feet so I had room to work on the rear end without rolling the car out of the garage. I got the old rear end dropped this afternoon, and just need to swap the springs and shocks and I'll be ready to slide the new Strange 9-inch under it.
Fuckin-A, finally made some major progress with help from DMack and Clinton. After 6 hours of fighting with it, the new Ford 9-inch is now bolted in. Last weekend I had dropped the old 10-bolt, but I hadn't completely removed the leaf springs. It turns out that removing the front end of the leafs was a lot more trouble that I had planned on. The leafs bolt to the torque boxes, and the torque boxes bolt to the frame rails with clipnuts into the rails. You can't remove the springs without removing the torque boxes, and all of the clip nuts broke. We ended up cutting holes in the floor to get to the nuts from the top with a socket (and later to install new nuts/washers). After those two hideous cuts with the cutoff tool, I got smart and went to Home Deport to buy a couple of 1.5" hole saws. I only ended up using one of the hole saws--the Rigid bi-metal hole saws hold up to steel a lot better than I predicted. Next headache was removing the hardened bolts that attached the spring to the torque box. The right side was a bitch. Dave was able to drill out the head of it, and then it wouldn't go through that direction--we assumed there was a lip on the bolt at that point. So we try to cut the other side of the bolt with the Sawzall, but that just destroyed a bunch of Sawzall blades--the bolt was harder than the blades. Then we tried cutting the nut itself with the Sawzall. That worked OK until we hit the bolt, and promptly destroyed another blade. Finally we switched to the cut-off tool, and it ground through the remainder of the nut with much less drama, and after a lot of cutting, grinding, beating, and pressing, we finally got the spring out of the right torque box. The left side same out a lot easier--we we able to break loose the nut with a couple of breaker bars and an a cheater pipe. The rest of the reinstall went pretty smoothly, and only ran into two more minor snags. First, the old shocks were mounted using a crossbar instead of the correct bucket. So I need to order some upper shock mounts from Rick's, no big deal. Second snag is that the left brake caliper is sitting where the shock needs to go, so I need to remove the bracket, rotate it to the front side of the axle, and replumb the left brake line. I haven't looked at how much trouble that'll be, but I'm hoping it's as simple as it sounds and I'll get it knocked out on Sunday.
Shit, the year is almost over and the Camaro still isn't running yet. Traveling and partying are seriously interfering with this project. In other news, I made Silver Medallion on Delta last week. Back to the Camaro, at least I'm making more progress now. This weekend, I got the the shocks installed, the rear sway bar installed, new rear brake lines run, and the rear brakes hooked up. It turns out that I couldn't just flip the caliper bracket around on the left side, but if I took out the lock washer (and used loctite instead), I had about 1/16 inch clearance between the caliper bolt and the shock. I'll have to see if it hit after the first test drive. If it hits, I'll countersink the caliper and use a countersink socket-head bolt. I would have done that this weekend, but you can't buy bolts like that at a hardware store or NAPA. The tools at Denny's Driveshafts never responded to the email I sent them two weeks, so I still don't have a driveshaft--I need to remember to call them during the day tomorrow. Next up on the to-do list is fuel lines, fuel pump wiring, fuel line wiring. Then wire the engine and gauges, replace the harmonic balancer, install the radiator, install the driveshaft, hook up the exhaust, hook up the power steering and hydroboost, recheck/torque a ton of bolts, replace the oil filter, fill the fluids, and fire it up.
Damn, I may actually get this thing running soon! I got the hard line installed for fuel before I went to Nashville for Christmas, but accidentally deleted the pictures without uploading them. Or left them in a folder that I can't find. No major loss--there's nothing particularly cool about the new fuel line. I also put the sender in the tank, and wired up a stub harness for the sender and pump. I've been sick since Christmas, so no progress after that until today. First up today I ran a power wire for the fuel pump, basically from the tail lights to the headlights. I ran it through the same path as the rest of the trunk wiring, which required removing the rest of the back seat and some more interior pieces. That went pretty smoothly, and I moved on to the fuel system. The next thing I needed to do was put AN connectors on the hard line. I HATE trying to flare tubing, so I used Swagelock compression fittings on the stainless hard line. These fittings are good enough for 3600PSI compressed natural gas, so they should work great for a 58PSI fuel injection line :). Next up, I picked out a spot for the Corvette fuel filter/pressure regulator in front of the tank and bolted it through the trunk floor. Installing the tank was a bit of headache. I started out trying to balance it on a floor jack, but the bottom of the tank is sloped so I couldn't get it all the way up and straps on it with just the jack. The way that finally worked was to lay down on the creeper behind the car, rest the tank on my face, roll under the car, bench press it into position, then try to hold it up in the middle one-handed and get a strap around it with the other. That's the way I always did it with the stock tank, but the new stainless tank with internal pump weighs a LOT more than the stock tank. With the tank in place, I measured for the soft lines between the pump and FPR and then dropped the tank again--I can't get to the top of the tank to attach the lines while it is installed. I fabbed the lines with Aeroquip socketless hose and fittings. This socketless stuff is COOL--cut it with a knife and then push the fitting in, that's it. One trick I figured out is that if the hose is cold, it's a LOT easier to install the fittings if you take it inside and warm it up under the hot water faucet for a couple of minutes. Slapped the lines on the tank, bench-pressed it in place, strapped it in, and hooked up the FPR. Before calling it a night, I made another hose to connect the hard line to the fuel rail under the hood. The fuel system is now complete except for the tank tank filler, which is first up tomorrow.
I was meeting George for lunch today, so I didn't want to get dirty this morning. What can I do without getting dirty? Dash wiring. The new gauge cluster and the OBII connector are both hooked up now, except for the wires that need to splice into the computer under the hood. Those wires are run, they just aren't spliced yet. With that done, I decided to find out if this new driveshaft fits. Good news: it fits, and it's bolted in now. With the driveshaft done, I decided to try to hook up the exhaust. GIANT HEADACHE. It took me about 2 hours to get the left side on. Problem 1: I needed to trim the pipe. The Sawzall was a complete debacle last time, so I used a cutoff wheel this time. I think I prefered the Sawzall jumping all over the place to the face full of molten steel filings I got from the cutoff wheel. At least I was wearing safety glasses. Problem 3: the exhaust would not push rearward at all, so I couldn't get it over the reducer. It turns out there was a hanger on the tailpipe next to the tank that was almost straight fore-aft and welded to the frame. It took a combo of the cutoff wheel, a giant chisel, and a hammer to bust it loose. I only smacked my hand with the hammer a couple of times. Problem 4: I needed to expand the exhaust pipe to slip over the reducer. I bought a 2.5" tailpipe expander, but this is some really thick exhaust tubing and even with the 1000ftlbs titanium impact, I could barely stretch the tube. I finally ended up putting a 1.5 inch slit length-wise in the tube and then hitting it with the expander--that worked, and I think the Walker band-clamps I got should cover up the gap.
Actually it's the 6th, about 3am but I wanted to file this under the 5th. Exhaust is connected (poorly, but it'll get me to a muffler shop). Transmission is wired and filled with fluid. Hurst shifter is installed. Clutch master is hooked up. Oil pressure and water temp gauges are hooked up. Missing E-clip on the gas pedal is fixed. Relay bracket is fabbed, and half of the relays are wired. I should at least be able to power up the electrical system Saturday, and if that goes well, I may get to fire the engine.
Same deal as last night, it's really 3am on the 7th. I got sidetracked this afternoon by Dave and Brian and had to go burn through a few hundred rounds at the shooting range. I don't think I'm going to get the Glock 21. Maybe a Glock 19. After spending the afternoon socializing, I had to run around gather parts this even and didn't touch the Camaro until after 7pm. Tonight I cleaned up the relay mounting and finished the PCM wiring. The PCM wiring took a lot longer that I had planned. In the morning I'm going to check the car thoroughly for loose wires, then put a battery in it and see if I can talk to the PCM with my laptop (via HPTuner).
Well, it's still not running. But it's really close! I finished the wiring today, put on the new plug wires, installed the O2 sensors, tracked down a couple of mystery connectors that weren't plugged in, mounted the PCM, relays, fusebox, and clutch reservoir, and installed the dipstick and throttle cable. So far I've only run into two minor issues with my wiring. The first was that I had the logic backwards for the Check Engine Light--it's supposed to be ground-switched instead of hot-switched, which was easy enough to fix. The second was the park/neutral safety switch that the previous owner had spliced into the starter wire. I had to go back and unsplice that. I fired up VCM Scanner and it saw the PCM first try! The PCM had set 3 DTCs due to components I had removed. Next I fired up VCM Editor and dumped the current config, made my first attempt at customizing the config for my car, and flashed the new calibration into the PCM. With the new calibration in place, I cranked the engine until I got oil pressure. No more DTCs yet. I could have put some fuel in it and tried to start it, but I haven't leak-tested the fuel system and I'd rather do that outside! I don't need to be spraying gas all over my garage, so I have to wait until the rain is gone so I can push the car outside.
Unfortunately it's not all good news. The shifter is sitting in neutral right now, but I found out the hard way (the last time I bumped the starter) that the transmission is still in gear. Something is broken inside the transmission :(. Luckily I let off the starter really quick and the car didn't jump off the ramps that are under the tires right.
It runs! I bled the clutch last night, pushed it outside s morning, put some gas in it, and it fired right up. I've got a bit more work to do before I can drive it around the block (install the radiator, bleed the front brakes, bolt in a seat), but fuckin-A it runs!
I actually drove it around the block last Sunday night after I got the radiator hooked up. The clutch didn't disengage properly, and drops of a mystery fluid hit the windshield. Today I bled the front brakes, re-bled the clutch, searched for the source of the mystery fluid (couldn't find it), trimmed and mounted the fans, fabbed up the air intake, and recalibrated the PCM to work with my tach. I took it up the street again, and got stuck in 3rd gear. I finally got it out of 3rd gear after a few minutes, and headed back to the house. I tried 4th gear on the way back and it seemed to work OK. I checked for leaks, didn't find any, and figured that I could go for a longer drive since 4th gear is working. Right now my theory on the mystery fluid is that it was coolant that I had spilled filling the radiator. So I went up to BP and threw a few more gallons of gas in it, then over to Autozone to get a grease gun, and then back home. The clutch still isn't fully disengaging :(... but the engine runs great! Can't wait until the rear end gears are broken in so I can really get on it :).
So I haven't done much work on the Camaro lately. I had decided the next thing I wanted to do was put in the carpet, and I need a warm and sunny day to lay out the carpet and let it soften up so it would lay down on the floorpan properly. I finally gave up on the weather and put the old carpet back in temporarily, and bolted the new seats in. Maybe I'll get to drive it Thursday if the weather is nice. In other news, the transmission is still broken, the clutch still isn't disengaging, the mystery fluid reappeared the last time I drove it, the seats still don't fit quite right, and the right rear tire is flat.
So the I've got almost 200 miles on the Camaro now :). The trans/clutch are still FUBAR, but it's still fun to drive. I LOVE the new seats--only bad thing I can say is that I now HATE the seats in my Mustang. And of course the LS1 just fucking ROCKS!
I won't be driving the Camaro again for a couple of weeks though... it's taken apart again. A couple of weeks ago I broke my turn signal switch on the way home from work, so I decided it would be a good time to upgrade to a tilt steering column. I ordered a rebuilt tilt column from Rick's and put it in, but it had a couple of weird issues: 1) the tilt action seemed to move diagonally instead of straight up and down, and 2) the right side of the steering wheel seemed to be closer to the dash than the left side. I posted about it over on the camaros.net forums, and a couple of days later I get a reply from Jim Shea who is a retired GM Saginaw Power Steering engineer who designed a lot of the steering components in the first generation Camaro! Jim knew exactly what was wrong, and it would require completely disassembling the internals of the steering column to fix it. So, the the steering column came back out and got shipped back to Rick's for an exchange. While I'm waiting for the steering column, I figured it was time to go ahead and deal with the transmission problems. I yanked the trans out this afternoon, and I'll get it shipped off this week to SixSpeedsInc in Houston for a rebuild.
I might put the new carpet in while I'm waiting for the trans if we have nice weather on a weekend, and I'm thinking about going ahead and redoing the stereo and speakers while I have the carpet out. I still need to order some wheels and tires, and fix the missing windshield trim. The tires and windshield trim make really nervous driving on the highway. The tires have been on the car since 1995, and old cars rely on the windshield trim to hold the windshield in--it's not glued in like on modern cars. I've got new Borla mufflers on order too, so once I get the trans back in, I'm taking it to an exhaust shop and getting some new pipes made.
Anyone know an exhaust shop in the Atlanta area that does really good custom work?
So I got the T56 shipped off to SixSpeedsInc and they got it torn down last week. It had quite a bit of damage:
- All of the 1-2 slider keys had fallen out and/or broken
- A couple of the 3-4 slider keys were broken
- 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and reverse gears were pretty much destroyed
- magnets had been removed (sign of a previous poor-quality rebuild)
- snap ring came off of 6th gear
The slider keys weren't a big surprise, but the forward gears were. Amber from SixSpeedsInc said it was typical of what they see from heavy street racing abuse. I'm upgrading everything so it should hold up a lot better this time :). I'm a little worried about the engine now though--it's obviously been abused too, and I'm guess it may have been sprayed (there was a fuel pressure sender mounted to the fuel rail...).
I got off my ass and did a little more work to the car this past weekend. I yanked the 13 year old Alpine receiver out of it, and replaced it with a new Kenwood with MP3 and USB support. I still need to come up with a cleaner way to mount it though--it's kind of loose and still has the same gaping hole around it that I had with the Alpine. I massively cleaned up my dash wiring while I was in there too, fixed the ashtray bracket, and plugged the light back into the AC controls. I also installed my trunk mat, and removed the bellhousing, clutch and pilot bearing. I hadn't been planning to pull the clutch, but Amber suggested I switch to a bronze bushing because the roller bearing tear up too quickly.
I'm still waiting for another tilt steering column from Rick's. It's on backorder... need to call them in the morning and get a status update. If I don't have the tilt column by the time I get the trans back in, I'll have to toss the non-tilt column back in it for a while. Good thing I hadn't thrown it on Ebay :).
Weekend before last I installed yet another tilt column from Rick's First Generation. This one is clocked wrong too, but it's a lot closer and I can live with it for now.
Last Friday I finally got my transmission back from SixSpeedsInc after a huge debacle with DHL. SixSpeedsInc had typo'd my address as Airington instead of Barrington, so instead of calling me or the shipper, DHL just guessed at what the address would be, and kept trying to deliver it to Arlington Dr. I stayed home from work last Friday to wait for DHL, and by noon they still hadn't showed up so I checked their online tracking page. The tracking page said they had attempted delivery at 10am that day! I checked my door, and nothing on it, so I give them a call, and eventually get through to a live person. That's when I discovered they were trying to deliver it to the wrong address. The DHL rep told me she'd have them send it out on another truck, and they'd call me to confirm that. So I sit at home the rest of the day, and 5pm rolls around and I still haven't heard back from DHL. I call up DHL, and after 10 minutes of busy signals I finally get through to their customer service line. The rep puts me on hold and calls the Norcross center to find out what the deal is. It turns out that they have to send a "special two-man team" because my packages is so heavy (143lbs), and they won't be able to deliver it until Monday. I ask if I can come pick it up, and he says I can pick it up anytime before 7pm that day. So I hop in the Mustang at 5:15pm on Friday to drive across Holcomb Bridge to Peachtree Industrial. Traffic sucked, and it took me about 45 minutes to get over there. At least the weather was awesome for driving with the top down. So I finally get to DHL, go up to the counter, and find out they haven't pulled my package for pickup yet. The lady says she'll get someone to pull it, and then disappears into the back. 45 minutes later some guy finally comes out with my transmission on a pallet jack, and follows me out to my car. I grab the transmission box myself and throw it in the back seat of the Mustang. The DHL guy looked kind of stunned.
So I finally get home and unpack the transmission. Problem 1: the wooden frame used to hold the trans inside the box is split in half--shipping damage, someone had dropped it HARD. Problem 2: SixSpeedsInc was supposed to have included a new pilot bushing, and they forgot to include it--at least they didn't charge me for it. I dropped Amber at SixSpeedsInc an email, and she replied that the wooden frame will absorb most of the impact when it gets dropped like that, and as long as the transmission case isn't cracked, it should be fine. She also apologized about the bushing, and told me to get one for a '69 Camaro with a Muncie 4spd.
Saturday morning head over to Napa to pick one up, and they don't stock that pilot bushing--only pilot bearings. The next closest parts place is Northpoint Chevy, so I hit the parts department over there. They said they couldn't help me because their computerized catalog doesn't go all the way back to 1969, and they don't have the old paper catalogs. So I head over to VatoZone, and they have 3 of them instock. When I get home, I look up the Motormite part # that I got at VatoZone to see what application it's supposed to fit--pretty much every Chevy vehicle with a small-block V8 through 2000. I go home, pop the bushing in the freezer, eat lunch, then go beat the bushing into the crankshaft and reinstall the clutch and bellhousing. I converted one of my floorjacks to a poor excuse for a transmission jack with a block of wood, and tried to stab the transmission into the clutch and pilot bushing. I gave up after an hour to get cleaned up and go over to Alisha's.
Sunday I decided to go out and find a real transmission jack with adjustable tilt. I hit Northern Tool, and they are out of stock. Then I try Sears, and they don't even make a Craftsman transmission jack anymore. It's cold and wet outside and I'm supposed to go over to Jerry and Tricia's that afternoon, so I give up on getting anything done that day.
Monday I decided to try something different that I'd seen people do with Muncies and Saginaws. I went to Home Depot on my way home from work and picked up some longer bolts to use as guides to line up the trans, and a long bolt with threads all the way down with two nuts (jammed together) to use as an adjustable-length bolt to crank the trans onto the bellhousing. I got two floorjacks under the trans and managed to get the angle right and get the guide bolts installed. I tried to muscle it up the guide bolts, but couldn't get it to budge and decided to try cranking it together with the adjustable-length bolt that I had rigged up. When I started cranking the trans onto the bellhousing, I remembered that I had to do the same damn thing when I had assembled the engine and trans on a stand the first time I had done this! It worked, and I got all of the bolts into the trans and call it a day.
Today I got the trans bolts torqued, installed the crossmember, installed the driveshaft and torqued the rear straps, bled the clutch, reconnected the exhaust, filled the trans, installed the shifter, replaced a blown taillight fuse I had noticed last week, reconnected the battery, and set it back down on the floor. Some notes on bleeding the clutch... I filled the reservoir to the brim, opened up the bleeder on the slave and let it drain down to the normal full level. Then I put a vacuum pump on the reservoir, and let it sit at 15inhg for half an hour to suck out the rest of the air in the system. It worked GREAT! Perfectly solid pedal the first time I hit it! So I took it up to BP and put 5 gallons of gas in it, and it made the trip fine so I passed the house and went on up to Taco Bell behind Northpoint Mall to get some dinner. I heard a strange pop from the right front suspension when I turned onto my street on the way home--I'm not sure what it was, but my first guess is that the sway bar bracket bolts stripped out of the subframe.
Now I need to fix the cancel cam in my steering column, replace the brake master cylinder, install the subframe connectors, fix the broken x-brace bolt and reinstall the x-brace, and go get my new Borla ProXS mufflers installed.
The Camaro has been on jackstands for a couple of weeks. My new AGR power steering box blew a seal with less than 300 miles on it. I yanked it out and sent it back to AGR, but they haven't gotten around to looking at it yet to figure out why it let go.
So it's been a while since I've written much about the Camaro. It seems like it's been sitting on jackstands forever. AGR supposedly shipped my repaired steering box earlier this week, but it hasn't shown up yet. I did finally get an explanation on why it blew. After sitting on the box for almost three weeks, they rebuilt it with new seals and it blew again when they tested it. Apparently there was a snap ring groove that was buggered up and the snap ring wouldn't seat all the way in it. So they re-machined groove, reassembled it, retested it, and supposedly have shipped. We'll see when it finally gets here...
In the meantime, I did some other work on it. I FINALLY got around to putting my new carpet in it. Replacement carpet is a pain in the ass for old cars because it never fits right, and they make it a couple of inches oversize so you have to trim it. And the worst part, you have to cut your own holes in it for the seat mounts, shifter, etc. Given that it doesn't fit right, it can be pretty damn hard to tell where to cut the holes, and you only get one shot at it. I missed on the shifter hole :(. I went about an inch too far to the right on the initial cut. I tried to make it work as-is but I'll have to get the car out in the sun to see if I can get the carpet to sit down since I shifted it over about 1/2 inch. A slightly bigger shifter boot would help too--the one I put on it for now is really too small.
I also put a cheesy hump-hugger console in it. I haven't decided what I'm going to do permanently for a console, but I need some storage space until them!
The Camaro is driveable again!
AGR finally shipped out my steering box, and it was sitting on my doorstep when I got home Thursday night. I got the box bolted in that night, but didn't get the left header and exhaust reinstalled until today (Sunday).
I finished that up pretty early, and decided to finally fix the sway bar mount that had stripped out the holes in the right frame rail.
So it's been a while again since I blogged about the Camaro. I've been driving it pretty much every day the weather has been nice--over 750 miles on the odometer now! It's still running great, although it seemed a little slow on GA400 the other day. I tracked down that power issue today, and it turned out that I had about 3/4" of slack in the throttle cable, which was only giving me about 90% throttle angle floored. I fixed that, and I also finally finished trimming the carpet and reinstalled the door sills and kick panels.
One thing I've learned in the past 750 miles is that the urethane- coated mohagany steering wheel may look really nice, but it blows for driving, especially if your hands get sweaty. I'm going to replace it with something with the leather rim.
Last month I took the Camaro on a tour of muffler shops of North Fulton and South Forsyth. I think I found one that I like, now I just need to take a day off of work and get my ass up early enough in the morning to get it done. And I need to order some V-clamps.
Wow, I havenít blogged about the Camaro (or anything else for that matter) in almost 6 months! I havenít done much work on the Camaro since I last posted. Itís driveable, so Iíve been driving it when the weather is nice instead of taking it apart.
Back in January I started to think about getting some work done on it, but I had way too much crap piled up in my garage to do an work. I sold a ton of parts on craigslist, built some shelves, and cleaned up a bunch. I still have more cleaning to do, but at least I can move around in there now.
So this past Saturday I finally got a bug up my ass to do some work on the Camaro. And I realized that since I was going to use Dynatech flanges on both sides of the mufflers, I could do almost all my cutting and welding on my workbench instead laying under the car. By my second flange I got half-way decent at being able to lay down a bead with the MIG. Iím running gasless though so thereís a ton of splatter, and turns out my MIG regulator wonít bolt on to my keg CO2 bottle.
Anyway, the new mufflers and tailpipes are on. I still need to trim the tailpipes--they stick out about a foot past the back of the car right now. I did get to drive around the block tonight after bolting on the last tailpipe. The Borlas are a LOT quieter at idle and cruise than my old Flowmaster 40ís, and the Borlas are pretty loud at WOT.
My Camaro project for this spring is to install a Vintage Air GEN-IV air conditioning system in the Camaro. I got started on it about 3 weeks ago. Pics are at http://www.blown.net/camaro68/ac/.
Things I've learned so far:
- some threads make it sound like you can remove the old heater/fan cover without completely removing the fender if you pry out the inner fender with a 2x4. DON'T DO THIS--those instructions only apply to replacing the fan, not getting the box out. REMOVE THE FENDER OR YOU WILL BE *REPLACING* THE FENDER AFTER YOU KINK IT.
- VA's brackets seem to be pretty poorly painted and scratch easily. It'd probably be a good idea to strip and repaint them.
- VA uses a lot of cheap looking sheet metal screws. I substituted stainless machine screws where possible, and stainless sheet metal screws where it wasn't.
- When using a cheap Home Depot stainless sheetmetal screw into a new hole in mild steel sheetmetal, run a normal steel sheetmetal screw through the hole first to cut "threads" in the hole. The mild steel seems to be harder than the HD stainless screws.
- The VA center vent looks really cheesy. I bought a repro factory AC center vent and rigged the ducting.
- SoffSeal's replacement felts for the astrovent housing isn't even close to the correct size. It's about twice as thick as it should be, and way too wide as well. What I did was trim the rear piece to the correct width and glue it in. Then on the front, I only used 3 little strips of about 3/16 x 3/4 instead of running it all the way around. I'm not sure yet how well that's going to work, but it seems OK now.
- When marking holes under the dash or installing the defroster ducts, blue masking tape is your best friend! Tape the the template or duct in place while you mark/drill/screw.
- For retaining the vent wheel in the center vent, so far it looks like JB Welding some plugs behind the vent seems to be the way to go. I tried making some press-fit plugs, but they kept coming loose until I finally JB Welded them.
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