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Restoration Journal

April 1, 2002

Returned to the task of door hardware; degreased/derusted/lubricated the passenger door latch, lock cylinder and striker. That was it for the night.

Sometimes I think I'm getting too particular about some of these pieces. There really wasn't a reason to spend an hour on the door latch; it was working fine. But I find it almost impossible to put a part back on the car that hasn't been given at least a little TLC.

That's probably why I'm behind schedule...

April 3, 2002

Soldered some bullet electrical connectors onto the lead of my new light bult sockets for the front marker lights (both of the originals were gone/rusted away). Plugged them into the engine wiring harness; they're ready to go now.

Bolted on the passenger striker (not tight though, as I can't place it exactly until I get the latch in the door). Replaced the chrome button in my replacement handle with the orignal black one, and cleaned up the lever that runs from the handle to the latch. Then I bolted the handle on the door.

I was a little miffed that it doesn't provide a tight seal. Perhaps the repro isn't exactly like the original, but the gap is on the bottom, so it probably won't be a problem.

April 5, 2002

Finished up installing the hardware on the passenger door required for closing/opening it: the lock cylinder and latch. It look a little time getting the striker located so that the door lined up with the quarter when closed, but it wasn't too bad.

I then installed all the same parts on the driver's side. Now I've got doors you can actually open, close and lock!

April 6, 2002

Altered the engine harness for electronic charging. Wasn't a big deal; just followed the wiring diagrams from one of my Mopar tech books.

Then returned to the steering column. Got all the parts/brackets derusted that I hadn't previously done, including the column itself. I'll be painting it with POR as soon as it warms up outside.

April 7, 2002

Cleaned up the bright metal on the steering column (the directional lever and the steering wheel spokes). There was some light surface rust, which I removed by hand with steel wool and WD-40. Some of the crevices in the steering wheel spokes took quite a bit of time, but it looks pretty damn good again.

Masked off the steering column so it is ready for painting now.

April 8, 2002

A very bad night. Large amounts of cursing.

I decided to replace my right tailpipe with the latest one sent from TTI. I can't get the tail pipe out of the muffler. I wrestled with it for 90 minutes, and that bastard just won't come out.

It was a tight fit going in, and having tightened the clamp probably distorted the pipes so that it simply won't come out any more. I'm either gonna rotate the clamp 90 degrees and tighten it again (hoping that will return the pipes to round), or wait for Bear to come over so I've got another pair of hands.

There's nothing worse than spending a night on the car and making zero progress (and raising my blood pressure 100 points). TTI has tried to make me happy by sending replacement tailpipes, but I've gotta tell ya: I don't think they can sufficiently compensate me for all the time I've spent on my back under the car wrestling with this system.

April 9, 2002

Bent the pump-to-carb fuel line. It went surprisingly well. I guess practice makes perfect; I had to throw my first effort away.

Also tried to install my alternator, and discovered it won't fit. I bought a 65 amp unit, and the back side of it was shaped differently because of it. It hit the cylinder head, so I'll have to get a different one.

April 10 - 11, 2002

Took two days of vacation to work on the car. Got quite a bit done:
  • Did some research on how to wire up my electric choke. It seems the best place to power it from is the battery terminal of the alternator.
  • Did some research on what vacuum connections need to be made. I'm fairly sure I've got that figured out now.
  • Installed the throttle return spring.
  • Adjusted the curb idle on the carb. It remains to be seen if the throttle cable will have enough travel to get the carb all the way from idle to WOT. Won't be able to tell until I get the car running.
  • Test fit the coil bracket. I wasn't sure if I'd have to remove one of the brass plugs or not; discovered I don't need to.
  • Cleaned up the hood latch and release lever (everything that bolts to the radiator support). Then I installed the radiator support.
  • Painted (POR and flat black top coat) the steering column, and the brackets that hold it to the firewall and dash.
  • Installed the EVR & ECU. The EVR went where the original unit was; I had to drill one new hole. The ECU went just to the right of the wiper motor. Wasn't fun drilling holes in my firewall, but it all went smoothly.
  • Finally got the roll pin in the left strut rod. I'd been having a hell of a time getting it in, because the angle of the hole didn't allow and hammer travel space. I ended up having to grind it down a bit to get it in there.
  • Cut and installed the vacuum hoses.
  • Installed the battery tray.
  • Installed the steering column, with Dawn's help. Dawn said I should include this tip in the journal: to avoid having to slide the column into the coupler more than one time, make sure the firewall bracket is oriented correctly. Once you get it in place, it can't be rotated!
  • Bolted the coil in place.
There's no reason I shouldn't be ready to fire her up on the 20th...

April 13, 2002

Installed the radiator. Ever since it was recored in '86, it was too wide to install both of the lower bolts. So, I got out the dremel tool and did a little grinding on the radiator bracket. It's now secured at all four corners.

Also isntalled the radiator hoses and clamps.

Bear then came over to help me with the exhaust. We tried to remove the tailpipe from the muffler by hand, and quickly gave up. Since the tailpipe was being replaced, we cut the old one off, using a dremel tool and hack saw.

We still had to get the remnants of the tailpipe out of the muffler, so we removed it from the car and took it in the basement. After much hammering and crunching with the vise, we finally got it out.

We re-installed the muffler, and then the new tailpipe. I was extremely relieved to see that the 3rd tailipe lined up with the valence. Hooray! After all this time, the exhaust system is finally done...

We still had most of the afternoon left, so we looked for other 2-person jobs. We decided to install the maroon stripe on the trunk lid. Bear had helped apply the decals on his car, so he knew what to do. It looks really good; nice and flat with no air bubbles.

Next, he helped me aling the hood, which had been crooked for months.

It was a beautiful spring day, so Bear said "let's push it out into the sun". It hadn't seen sunlight in 6 months, so I took some photos:

Last thing we did was put in the engine wiring harness. We didn't have time to actually connect things; we really just laid it in place. I'll take care of the connections this week.

April 15, 2002

Had a revelation at work concerning the alternator. After somebody on the email list asked me if I was missing a spacer, I thought I should make sure I was mounting the alternator correctly.

After checking a couple images, I discovered I was doing it wrong! I thought the ears on the alternator went between the cylinder head and bracket, when in fact one ear goes on the front side of the alternator bracket. So, the square back alternator will fit just fine. Doh!

After getting the alternator mounted that evening (which took a bit of work, because the sleeves were a very tight fit), I then discovered that the bolt hole in the alternator for tensioning the fan belt was stripped out! So I had to remove the alternator. I'll have to get a replacement after all!

Rest of the night was spent on wiring. Hooking things up, figuring out the best routing of wires, etc. I installed the starter relay and got everything hooked up on the right side (except for the alternator, of course).

Didn't accomplish much. I might end up having a late night or two this week getting ready for Saturday (Start Your Engine Day)...

April 16, 2002

Picked up a different alternator during lunch, and installed it at night. After much messing around, decided the easiest way to mount the alternator is by loosening up the bracket, so you don't have to squeeze the sleeves into place

Bolted the ballast resistor in place and hooked it up.

Rest of the night was spent on hoses. Installed my expensive heater hose bracket (from YO), cut the two heater hoses, and clamped them in place. Also clamped the bypass hose in place.

The cooling system is ready for coolant now.

April 17, 2002

Brought the battery up from the basement and put it in the car. After some head scratching and video watching, figured out which wires to connect to the starter relay. Also installed the negative battery cable.

I was able to actually sit in the car and have dash lights!

With just about all the wiring in the car, I secured it to the left fenderwell, and along the front of the car. The wires are still a mess on the firewall, but I can neaten that up after the car is running.

Rest of the night was spent under the car: attached the wires to the starter (that was not fun; very little room with the head pipe right there), routed and connected the reverse light wire, connected the brake warning light wire and tried to crimp the tabs on the steering coupler retainer. I got a couple of them in place, but quit out of frustration.

April 18, 2002

Not many things left to do before turning the key. Picked up a couple of cheap exhaust tips (turn downs) on the way home, and installed them. Maybe we'll use the TTIs someday, but for now I like the turn downs.

Next task is filling up the cooling system. I probably got about 3 gallons in the system when I noticed a leak; the top/center bolt on the water pump. Damnit! I don't need this problem now!!

I drained enough fluid out of the system to stop the leak, and removed the bolt. I loaded the threads up with sealant, but I don't think that's gonna help, since the hole in the pump itself is not threaded.

I replaced the bolt and started filling it up again...and it still leaks. And it's not a slow leak, either.

Sonofabitch. Now what? I'll have to post a couple messages to the email list and get guidance...

April 19, 2002

Well, the concensus advice on my water leaks is: remove the pump and see what the issue is. Christ, I really don't want this less than 24 hours before a bunch of people come over to the house to start it...

Here's my post to the email list explaining the day:

I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to pull the water pump. I didn't know what I would find, but figured it was necessary.

I picked up a spare water pump on the way home, just in case.

Long story short, I took everything apart (radiator, fan, alternator, hoses, etc), and got the pump off.

I was glad and bummed when I saw the problem. The casting had a flaw; the surface area between the top/center bolt hole and the passage for the water was really thin. Using silicone may have helped, but I doubt it. I don't think a good seal was possible.

I was glad it wasn't anything stupid I had done. I was pissed the pump was no good.

So, I put everything back together, using Permatex Ultra Black this time. And the new/replacement water pump.

Filled 'er up. No leaks.

Last activity for the night was rewiring the choke. I had read the battery post on the alternator could be used, but Holley tech support said otherwise. I got out the multimeter and discovered that the battery post was in fact getting 12 volts all the time, which isn't what we want. So I had to send a new wire under the dash for switched power.

April 20, 2002

We fired her up today! Unbelievable - it runs!

For those of you that have read this journal, or anybody that's undertaken a complete restoration, you probably know how I feel right now!

Christ, it's been a lot of work. Lots of nights. Lots of cursing. Lots of money. Lots of aggravation. But also the feeling of accomplishment that comes with taking on a big project like this and being successful.

Having put this car together, and knowing how many things have to work correctly for it to fire up...well, let's just say I'm utterly amazed.

All the gauges and sending units work, even! Given how rusted the gas sending unit was, I thought that was shot, but I was wrong.

The tach works! The engine didn't overheat! It charged the battery! I'm in shock.

The only thing that wasn't perfect is a couple small coolant leaks. But I'm sure they won't be an issue. There aren't any oil leaks.

A recap of the events:

After putting 5 gallons of 115 and 5 gallons of 92 in the tank, we primed the oiling system. Then we installed the intermediate shaft and distributor, trying to make sure everything was aligned/pointed in the right direction so the timing wouldn't be hosed.

We filled the fuel bowls, and tried to turn her over. It wouldn't turn over. We tried for about 30 minutes, not quite knowing what was wrong. Was it electrical? Was the starter shot?

We did all these things:

  1. removed the spark plugs to see if we could turn it by hand; we weren't able to
  2. tried 3 or 4 different batteries
  3. got it rolling and popped the clutch to make sure it wasn't seized from sitting

We were starting to think the 34 year old starter was done for. I had visions of putting this off until another weekend, after replacing the starter.

Then, Scott and Bear suggested something I've read here a couple of times: give the starter a couple light taps with a hammer. I'm not sure what this cures, but that's what Scott did while I turned the key...

It turned over! All right; we're in business!

Well, after replacing the spark plugs, it was just a matter of cranking on it and playing with the carb until we got it going. Only took 1 hour 45 mintues from when we started.

Later in the afternoon, I even took it for a very short trip down the street.

What a beautiful feeling.

April 24, 2002

Took a much needed break from the car, if you call 3 days a break!

Installed my new trunk lock cylinder. Had to toss the original one because the key was lost long ago.

Also did a little wiring testing; I rigged up grounds for the lights in the rear (the tail light housings are still at AllTrim). Things worked better, but not perfectly. I'm not gonna worry about it until I get the front parking lights in, as I don't know if they're required for things to work properly. I also don't know for sure if everything was grounded properly.

Clamped the exhaust tips in place, and tightened the bolts on the springs. They had been loose as suggested by ESPO, but now that the car is actually mobile, they should probably be tight!

April 25, 2002

Played around with the clutch linkage a bit. Maybe it's just from using hydraulic clutches for 14 years, but it seems difficult to get a smooth engagement of the clutch. Messing around with the amount of play at the fork didn't help, so I guess I'll just have to retrain my left leg.

Rest of the night was spent on the front suspension. It was riding low with all the stuff that's been bolted on the last few weeks, it was really toed out, and camber was way negative. So I changed all those adjustments; when I do take that first trip to the alignment shop, the car will be drivable at least.

April 27, 2002

Cleaned up the basement. It had become a mess again...

Started working on the door hardware. I cleaned up (steel wool, WD40 and Simple Green) the right vent wing frame. Actually spent most of my time reading the FSM and looking at the video tape I shot when I took the doors apart.

Came to the conclusion that the window and vent frame need to go in the door together, so there are other things I'll need to do first. I think I'm embarking on another little project here: getting the door and quarter glass back in the car. I wouldn't be surprised if this takes a couple weeks...

April 29, 2002

Watched video and examined the weather stripping/metal that runs next to the headliner by the doors; the area that the windows seal against when rolled up. I planned on installing those pieces, but then realized I could in fact install the windows first. I just wouldn't be able to adjust them.

Having previously cleaned up the vent wing frame, I moved onto the window itself. The usual treatment of WD40 and steel wool had the stainless looking good in no time. I also scrubbed out the bracket the regulator inserts into and put fresh grease in it.

Following the instructions in the FSM (which is not how I took them apart), the vent wing frame and window go in the door as a unit. I bolted the rear window channel in the door, and then got my lovely wife to help me get the window assembly in the door. It went pretty smoothly.

I don't have it adjusted yet, but the passenger door glass is now back in the car!

April 30, 2002

Degreased the regulator, and then put fresh grease on it. Then installed it in the passenger door. Went smoothly.

Next task is to align the window. Before doing that, I needed to install the roofrail weather stripping. So I cleaned up the stainless steel that holds it, as well as cleaning the weather stripping itself. Then I installed both on the car.

I was able to get about half way through the adjusment instructions in the FSM. I couldn't go further because I can't get the weather stripping positioned so that the window actually slides into the channel in the stripping. I'm not sure if I have the weather stripping installed properly or not.