Before the Restoration

After the Restoration

After the Restoration (2018)


Restoration Journal

Car Dolly

In-Dash Tach

Send Me Email

Watch a Clip

Have a Listen



Barracuda Owners Email List

Restoration Journal

August 1, 2002

Got back from vacation and had the pleasure of opening a big box with my restored front end trim. I had sent the headlight bezels and grille surrounds to AllTrim last year.

They look great, except for pitting on the ring that encircles the headlight. At first I was upset, but then looked at the work order and realized rechroming them was not part of the work order. Unless you get your face right up to the headlight you'd never notice it anyway.

Here are some pix of the parts right after unpacking. The closeups show the pitting in the pot metal.

August 2, 2002

Started working on getting the grilles put together. I need to restore/refurbish the parking lights and the plastic grille (the vertical fins) myself; I didn't send them in with the other parts.

First thing to do is the parking light. I took it apart and did the usual process: Simple Green where necessary and WD40/steel wool on the chrome. I also polished the lens.

Here's a shot of the finished product next to the other one as it came off the car. A little elbow grease goes a long way!

August 4, 2002

Over a year ago I made an ebay purchase for grille parts. I didn't really need them (at least I didn't think I did), but the price was right. Boy am I glad I did; I ended up using one part and I could've used another.

The chrome frame that surrounds the plastic grille from my car had some serious pitting on top. The part from ebay was in overall better shape, but had some pitting in a more conspicuous spot than my original, so I used my original one. Again, WD40 and steel wool (and actually some fine sand paper where the pitting was bad).

Next, I realized that my original plastic grille had a couple broken fins! I'd never noticed that before. So, I used the one I bought on ebay. It was completely intact, but the paint had been lost somehow (whether it was stripped or just from age, I don't know). So, I had to paint the replacement one. Flat black all over, followed by a paint brush with chrome paint on the leading edge of the fins. It turned out well:

Next was a couple hours of cleaning up the studs in the chrome frame. They were very rusty and getting off the nuts involved a torch. Then I wire-wheeled them and bathed them in WD40.

Finally everything was ready to go back together. Here's the various parts before going back on the car:

Finally time to install it all on the car. It went fairly smoothly. Trying to get all the studs inserted in the header panel holes provided a couple challenges, but nothing too bad. There also isn't much room on the back side of the header panel for tightening the nuts, but it's not an ordeal.

The finished product! Man, I love the '68 grille:

August 6, 2002

Got the right grille cleaned up, assembled and installed. Pretty much the same process as the left side, except I didn't have to paint the plastic grille. I used the original piece, and the paint was still in good shape. And to my amazement, the colors I used to paint the left one are a perfect match, so they don't look different at all.

I also painted and installed the hinge for the cargo/trunk divider panel. I wanted to put it on because I noticed wind in the car was lifting the rear edge of the carpet on the cargo floor, and I didn't want the glue to come loose.

August 7, 2002

Drove the car to work. Thought I'd take some grille shots in the daylight:

Not much done on the car tonight. I secured a couple of the grille surround studs that I wasn't able to the other night (I ran out of the correct size nuts). Other than that, I just kind of inspected the car; wiped oil off the block and tried to determine where the valve cover is leaking (I wasn't able to)...tried to snug down one of the brake line fittings at the distribution block that is still slowly leaking...made sure the water leak at the neck is fixed (it is; there hasn't been any fluid there in weeks)...dusted the car and covered her up.

August 12, 2002

Did several little tasks tonight. First of all, I lowered the fast idle on the carb. It had been between 1500 and 2000, which was overkill. I think I lowered it to 1200 or so.

Much to my chagrin, I noticed that the light in my tach was not working. I can only guess that the bulb burned out, which pisses me off because it's brand new and I'm not about to rip out the tach to fix it. I checked the wiring, and it seems fine (in fact, I soldered that wire into the dash lighting system, so there's no way it's a bad connection).

I then got the car off the ground to check drivetrain geometry. I built a homemade tool as described in "Chrysler Performance Upgrades" to measure my u-joint angles. It worked very well. I found out that I'm a little out of spec: I've got 2 degrees at the tranny (should be beteen 0 and 1) and 1 degree at the rear (should be 2 or 3). I don't know if these current measurements are just a little off or if they are "very bad"; I'll have to do some research. But I imagine I'll shim the tranny mount. Hopefully that will take care of the rear angle also.

I also checked the fluid in the rear, and inspected the u-joint, just to make sure that the humming I hear from the rear end isn't caused by lack of fluid or a loose u-joint. They were both fine

While the car was up I also adjusted the parking brake.

August 13, 2002

Corrected my driveshaft geometry. I got all 4 wheels off the ground again, and rechecked my measurements. They were consistent with the other night, so I unbolted the tranny from the mount and jacked up the tranny with the floor jack. I slid 3 washers between the mount and tranny on each side, which amounted to about 3/8".

I lowered the tranny back down, and checked the angles again. I now have only .5 degrees difference at the tranny, and around 1.5 or 2 degrees at the rear end. The rear end should be 2->3 degrees, but that's close enough for me.

So now things are in spec, which makes me happy. It was probably ok to begin with, as I never had any vibration. The only thing I'm not real pleased with is using washers for shims. It's probably ok, but I'd feel better if I used a plate of steel that ran the entire width of the tranny mount.

August 15, 2002

Started cleaning up and organizing the right quarter interior parts. Glued a couple cracks in the A-pillar molding...shined up the stainless molding for the cargo area, the opera light and the pieces above/below the quarter door panel. Also scrubbed up and Armor-Alled that door panel. Also cleaned up a window crank that will be used back there.

The grinding/sanding/painting of the panels themselves need to wait until the weekend, when I can be outside with some sunlight. All my weekday activities are after the sun has set...

August 16, 2002

Only spent about an hour on the car, and to tell you the truth, I don't remember what I all did! I glued the water barrier for the right rear door panel in place, and also installed the right A-pillar molding. I'm not sure what else...

August 17, 2002

Derusted, cleaned and painted all the right/rear interior panels. Where the rust was scaley, I used the wire wheel. Any surface rust was covered with POR15. Then the public-facing sides of all panels were primed and painted (flat black on a couple pieces, gloss black on the rest).

August 18, 2002

Installed all the right/rear interior panels. It went very smoothly; I don't know if this was due to experience of having done the other side already, or if these pieces just fit together more nicely. For the first time in a long while no regulators are visible!

I'm not gonna give specific details. It was the same procedure I followed on the left/rear parts.

Except for the lack of a back seat and carpeting, the interior is all but done...

August 19, 2002

Added some gear oil to the differential. I had put 2 quarts in it originally, which didn't fill it up. It took another 1/3 quart.

Then I changed the oil and filter for the first time since firing it up. Also wiped down the block while I was under the car. I think the right valve cover is leaking from both the front and rear, although it isn't bad.

August 20, 2002

Didn't spend a whole lot of time on the car. I pulled the distributor so I could take it to a local guru to have it recurved (if it needs to be).

That didn't take long. I spent most of my time searching for oil leaks. I've been very confused lately, as there has been oil on both the front and back of the block, and it doesn't look like it's coming from the valve cover. If it were, there should be some oil on the exhaust manifold or its gasket.

Well, afer removing the distributor, I noticed a trace of oil between the distributor and oil pressure sending unit. It's hard to say for sure, but I think there may be a small leak in the silicone intake gasket. Closer inspection of the front of the engine revealed the same thing; I think the silicone at the right/ront corner of the intake is leaking.

I'm glad I found the leaks, but pissed it's the intake. To really address it, I'd have to remove the intake and that's something I'm just not willing to do right now. My plan of attack is to apply a couple shop towels to the areas in question, and verify they are the source of the leaks. If they are, I'll try to find some way to seal them without removing the intake.

August 21, 2002

Took my distributor to a local engine guru. He spun it up while I was there to see what the current numbers are: 30 degrees of mechanical advance, and all in by 2000 RPM! Good for drag racing, but not for street use. He took a bunch of info from me (cam, carb, intake, etc) and he's gonna recurve it.

In the evening, I figured this would be a good time to neaten up the engine bay wiring, with the distributor out of the way. 60 minutes and lots of electrical tape later, I was done. I had a fair amount of taping to do, as I had modified the harness electronic ignition and charging. Plus a couple bonus wires for the tach and electronic choke.

Last thing I did was apply some more RTV at the rear intake/block joint. I'm not sure if there's an oil leak there (or if this will fix it), but this was the time to address it, since the distrbutor was out. I also put some thread sealant on the oil pressure sending unit, just in case the leak was coming from there.

August 22, 2002

Picked up my distributor over lunch. The new specs: 24 degrees mechanical, all in at 3200. 12 degrees of vacuum advance. He said initial timing should be between 10 and 12 BTDC, and that manifold vacuum should be used for the distributor advance.

In the evening I re-installed the distributor, and verified that the car would start. That's all I could do, as I don't have a timing light (will be borrowing one this weekend).

August 24, 2002

In anticipation of setting the timing, I created my own piece of timing tape. I ordered some timing tape at a local parts store, but they had to special order it, and it's not in yet.

So, I took measurements of the damper, determining the relationship from inches to degrees, etc. I also double checked the TDC mark I put on the damper to make sure it was accurate. You see, the damper/timing chain cover are for a 73 block, and those marks are obscured by the lower radiator hose. So, I had to make another mark on the dampe so that the timing could be checked from the passenger side, using the timing bracket from my 318.

Taking these measurements and applying the tape is a PITA. With the pulley and fan belt and crap in the way, access is limited.

August 25, 2002

Bear came over to help with setting the timing. He brought a borrowed timing light, and a vacuum gauge. We checked where it was before we changed things, and it was too far advanced. We set the initial timing to 10-12 degrees, just as I was told by the guy who recurved it.

The subsequent test drive went very well! No more pinging! It used to ping going up hills in 4th gear, and also when you would hammer it when cruising at low-rpms. Not any more.

I was worried I might lose some bottom end power or throttle response, but apparently not. The car starts easier now also. No change in operating temperature.

We also checked manifold vacuum. I've only got 8" at idle, which I know is low. I assume this is due to the lumpy cam. I don't have any accessories that use vacuum, though, so that's not an issue for me.

Later this week I'll be putting some 93 octane in it to see how it runs. I'm not expecting to be able to run on 93, but I don't think I'll have to use as much racing fuel as I have been. It will be interesting to see if mileage increases also.

In the evening I installed new shift rod clips. I bought a bushing/clip set, but found that the bushings didn't fit. I believe some shifters used bushings, while others did not. Apparently mine doesn't use them. But it was nice to replace the original clips; they were thin and worn from rust.

Last activity for the night was installing the passenger side headliner molding.

August 26, 2002

Derusted and put a coat of POR15 on the horns and their brackets.

August 27, 2002

Put a top coat of gloss black on the horns/brackets before going to work.

In the evening, I changed both the tranny and differential fluid. I was wondering if the wrong diff fluid might be causing the noise back there. After some posts on moparts.com, I decided to change to synthetic. The same folks convinced me to change the tranny from 40W to 80W90 gear oil.

Changing the diff oil was messy and stinky, but it went pretty smoothly. I used a suction gun to remove as much of the old oil as possible.

Last activity for the night was installing my freshly painted horns. They look very nice, and they sound great! Nice and loud; none of the tinny "beep-beep" that you get with today's cars.

August 30, 2002

Restified the windshield wiper arms. Steel wool/WD40/elbow grease, as usual. Then moved onto the security panel (the panel that folds down and separates the interior from the trunk). I got the trim removed and carpeting removed before bed.

I also used some wood glue to fix a couple places where the plywood was cracking. I applied a couple clamps and let it dry overnight.

August 31, 2002

Continued working on the security panel. Derusted and painted the metal trim pieces. Scrubbed down the trunk-facing side of the panel, to help get rid of the mice smell. Most of the night was spent applying the new carpeting. I used a combination of staples and small nails to hold it in place. Then I re-installed the trim pieces.

It looks quite good. Ready to bolt back in the car...