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Restoration Journal

February 1, 2002

Well, I spent several hours on the exhaust today. Here's the update:

The Good:

  • Sam at TTI clairified that the head pipes are used for all body styles, but the rest of the system is A-body specific
  • The instructions do state that "for some applications" (it would be nice if they would've been more specific), it may be necessary to cut 2" off the head pipes
  • After loosening the bolts at the manifolds, my earlier problem went away (kind of). I was able to spread the head pipes wide enough to start inserting the H pipe.
The problem was that I was only able to insert the head pipes about 1.5" (out of a possible 3") into the H pipe. I sat down and worked out the geometry, and figured cutting a couple inches off the head pipes would help.

So that's what I did. After the nightmare of installing the passenger side head pipe, I wasn't about to remove it again, so I cut the 2" off with the pipes still on the car, using my Dremel tool.

That helped. I was then able to insert the H-pipe about 2.25", which will have to be enough.

I moved onto the muffler/tail pipe. The muffler and hanger went on without too much trouble. And actually, the tail pipe wasn't too much trouble either.

So now, on the passenger side, I've got pipe all the way to the valence (I'll save the driver's side for some other night).

The Bad:

  • With the H pipe in place, the head pipes don't fit quite as well as they used to. The driver's side comes within a millimeter of the t-bar. I don't imagine that's s problem, but it's closer than I prefer.
  • I can't get a perfect seal on the passenger side head pipe at the manifold. It's close, but I am able to get a .007 feeler gauge between the gasket and the pipe flange.
  • The mid-pipes come very close to the floor pan. Less than .5". I'm hoping that's not a problem.
  • The tail pipe sits too high and inboard. It's very close to touching the rear valence, and it doesn't line up with the contour for the factory tips. The contour is in line with the frame rail; the pipes are 2" or 3" inboard of that.

February 2, 2002

I was pretty burned out from the previous day, so all I did was clean up the left rear seatbelts. When I'm preparred to install the driver's side hanger, the belts will be ready to go in the car.

February 4, 2002

I wrestled with the exhaust again. The results were pretty good.

After considering exactly what problems I was having, I decided shortening the cross pipe in the "H" would help things. So, I took everything off the car (except the head pipes), and cut 1.5" off the right mid-pipe where it inserts into the left mid-pipe.

I then put the H-pipe back on the car. Things were better; I was able to fully insert the head pipes into the H-pipe, and the driver's side head pipe has adequate clearance at the T-bar now.

Surprisingly, the seal at the right manifold doesn't seem to be any better. I'm starting to think that's not the result of fit problems, but something else.

I hung the right muffler and tail pipe; I also now have adequate clearance between the mid-pipe and floor pan.

February 5, 2002

In an effort to get a good seal at the right manifold, I loosened the bolts at the left one to allow some movement. It worked; I snugged down the right hand bolts, and it's a good seal now.

Next, I bolted in the remaining rear seat belts, so I could hang the left muffler. I then got the remaining muffler/hanger in place. I didn't put the tail pipe on, as I'm waiting to see how TTI wants to handle the issue of the pipes not lining up with the contours in the valence.

Only one more fit problem remains; the clutch fork contacts the left head pipe. That may or may not be a problem...

Last activity for the night was installing the Chrysler throttle linkage adapter on the carb. It's better than my cobbled together solution, but I still need to adjust something to achive wide open throttle.

February 6, 2002

With the exhaust system on hold, the next big project is the dash. But before I can do that, I'll need to install the windshield wiper system. Spent the entire night degreasing/derusting the pivots and arms (all the moving parts from the interior of the car).

These part will never be seen, so this really wasn't necessary. I'm just being anal about restoring every single part of the car.

February 7, 2002

Installed the wiper motor and linkages under the cowl. Also installed the insulation that's between the heater assembly and the firewall.

You wouldn't think those activities would take 2 hours, but they did!

February 11, 2002

My replacement parking brake struts (aka "brake bars") arrived over the weekend, so I was finally able to install the rear brakes. No major problems to report; it was pretty easy after reading the FSM and having helped Bear with his the previous weekend.

One tiny gotcha - the brake hardware kit had two sets of retaining pins, one set being about 1/4" longer than the other. I tried the long ones (easier to install the spring), and on one side they rubbed the inside of the drum. Those must be for the 2.25" brakes from the 70's. Moral - if you get both, use the short ones.

February 12, 2002

Adjusted the rear brakes. Took quite a bit of time, as I'd never done it before. Turning the adjuster with screwdrivers takes a little practice. It was also difficult to determine when the brakes were dragging as opposed to just driveline friction, given that it was about 20 degrees in the garage. Makes for thick tranny and differential fluid.

February 13, 2002

Finally finished securing the front->rear brake line. The hole for the clip in front of the left/rear tire had been blocked from the body work, so I had to do a little fabricating.

I then struggled with the retaining clips for the rear parking brake cables. I don't know why (perhaps the new cables aren't like the old ones), but trying to get them installed was a real struggle. I eventually gave up; I'm gonna get some washers instead, which seems like a better solution anyway.

Having decided to have a functioning braking system before working on the dash, I then installed the two brake lines that run from the master cylinder to the distribution block.

Next thing to do for the brakes is to install the calipers. So, I went downstairs and got them out of their box. During the months since I cleaned them up, they grew some light surface rust in the bores. So, I used WD-40, steel wool and the dremel tool with various attachments to clean them up again. I then installed the piston seals, dust seals and pistons, and bolted the halves together. I got one caliper done before going to bed.

February 14, 2002

Got the remaining caliper cleaned up and assembled. Next step will be to bolt them on the car and get the lines/hoses hooked up.

I sure hope my rebuilt calipers (I rebuilt them) don't leak.

February 15, 2002

Installed the right caliper on the car. Went pretty smoothly. Did learn one thing, though: connect the bracket, the hose, and short line that runs from the hose to the caliper before putting the caliper on the car. Trying to get that all connected once the caliper was on the steering knuckle was a bit of a pain.

Also realized that the new hoses that came with my hardware kit are useless. The brass fitting on the hose needs to have one side beveled in order for it to work with the caliper bracket. The replacement hoses aren't beveled.

Luckily, I have a set of hoses that came with my calipers, but one of them has a small cut in it. Hopefully just the rubber is cut, and not the interior passage. I'll find out when I put fluid in the system...

February 16, 2002

Bolted the left hand caliper on the car. Now I'm ready to install the master cylinder and bleed the system.

Also took care of my e-brake cable problem that I mentioned on the 13th. I bought some washers with the appropriate ID/OD, and they worked like a charm.

February 17, 2002

Time to install the MC. First step was to remove the push rod from the old MC, which was more of a struggle than it should've been. I had to use some heat. After installing it in the new MC, I bench bled it, following the instructions that came with the MC. Went pretty smootly; didn't splash fluid all over the place or anything!

Time to bolt the MC onto the car, which went fine. I stuffed a sheet under the MC when I removed the bench bleeding fittings and screwed in the brake lines. A small amount of fluid was lost, but not much. I did get a drop or two of fluid on the inner fender; makes me happy I went with silicone, which doesn't eat paint.

Next step is to bleed the system. I decided to try gravity bleeding. The rear system went well. The front didn't. Even after opening the bleeder on both calipers, the fluid wouldn't drain out of the reservoir. Not quite sure what to do next...

February 19, 2002

Bolted the MC pushrod to the brake pedal; time to see if a little pressure will fill the front sub-system with fluid. I had Dawn twice pump the pedal 3 times, at which time I noticed fluid leaking from the distribution block. Uh oh.

It appeared to be leaking from the fitting for the line that runs to the front reservoir. What the hell?

Thinking that there was a blockage in the distribution block, I resigned myself to removing it, which sucks, because I had the rear sub-system bled, and this would introduce air into those lines. So, I removed it, which was a pain. Now that the t-bar and head pipe are in place, there isn't much room for hands in that area.

I was surprised to find that the distribution block was not clogged. All passages were clear. Damn! I didn't need to remove it. I then checked the other front passage. I was able to verify they were clear by blowing air (with my mouth) from the bleeders all the way through the lines that attach to the distribution block. I now know there aren't any blockages.

So, I re-installed the distribution block, which was a true PITA. Lots of cursing. Getting those fittings screwed in with the limited space was not fun.

Just for the hell of it, I tried gravity bleeding the front again. No go - it just won't go by itself (I had both front bleeders open). So, next thing to do is use the pedal again. Hopefully there won't be any leaks...

February 20, 2002

Time to try pedal bleeding again. First thing to do is see if the distribution block is still leaking. I crawl under the car while my wife presses the pedal. Damn! A few drops of fluid on the distribution block. Where is it coming from? At this point I shift my gaze up, and see that it's not coming fromt he distribution block at all! The rear fitting on the MC is leaking, and dripping on the distribution block! Doh!

That's unfortunate. I'm very glad it's not the distribution block, but my efforts removing and re-installing the distribution block the previous night was a complete waste of time.

So, I snug down the fittings at the MC, and the leak stops. Time to bleed the system; first the right front. No problem - after a couple cycles of "pump-pump-pump-hold, turn bleeder, tighten bleeder" I've got air-free fluid coming out the tube.

On to the left front. I had a couple small leaks here; one where the hose meets the caliper and one at the transfer line. But after torqueing those fitting down a bit more, the leaks are gone.

Next we bled the rear sub-system. No problems, although the left/rear bleeder needs to be quite tight before it stops bleeding. We had a small leak there while bleeding the right rear that I had to clean up. I sure am glad I'm using silicone fluid - having to go through this process and making sure you didn't get a drop of brake fluid on any paint anywhere would've been horrible.

Put all the wheels on the car, spin the tires and have Dawn hit the pedal: working brakes! Whoo hoo!

I wouldn't be surprised if one or two small leaks surface once the brakes are used for real, but I'm sure they will be easily fixed. I was especially happy that neither the caliper pistons nor proportioning valve have leaks. Having rebuilt the calipers myself, that's what I was most afraid of.

A very good night! Haven't taken a pic of the engine bay since the wiper motor and MC were added:

February 21, 2002

Time to return to the exhaust system, since the replacement tail pipes from TTI showed up a couple days ago. I put the left tailpipe on the car and could see immediately that they were going to work. Hooray!

I spent the rest of the night trying to put the finishing touches on the system; getting all the pipes located correctly and clamped in place. I spent much time on my back under the car. By the end of the night the left side of the system was great from manifold to valence. Good clearance everywhere, no problems with the t-bar or valence or floor pan.

The right side is another story. The tail pipe comes very close to the gas tank in a couple places (but it's not touching) and the muffler is extremely close to the differential yoke. I think this is all the result of having narrowed the H pipe. So, I need to figure out a way to slide that entire right side outbound an inch or so...

February 23, 2002

Loosened all clamps/hangers and the bolts from the head pipe to the manifold on the right side of the car. I then widened the H-pipe about an inch or so and clamped it in place. This gave me the extra space I needed between the right muffler and differential yoke. It's not a lot (maybe 3/4"), but given how sturdy the TTI system is, it will be enough.

I then clamped/tightened everything back down, so that the exhause system is completely installed (except for the tips). I only have a couple minor issues left:

  • the right tail pipe isn't centered in the valence contour
  • I can get a .005 feeler gauage between the right head pipe and manifold; hopefully that won't be a problem
  • the left head pipe is only about 1/16" from the torsion bar

February 26, 2002

Decided to tackle the head pipe/t-bar clearance issue. I unbolted the engine mounts and lifted the engine with a 2x4 between the floor jack and oil pan. There wasn't as much play as I expected; I was probably only able to scoot it over maybe 1/8".

Not being satisfied with that, I loosened the appropriate clamps and narrowed the H-pipe about 1/2". I was worried this would cause the right side to move inward also, causing muffler/yoke clearance problems, but it didn't.

That gave me a little more clearance at the t-bar; a total of just under 1/4". People on the list say that will be more than adequate. I clamped everything down, tightened all bolts and said "I'm done with the exhaust! Whoo hoo!!".

February 28, 2002

Started the dash restoration process. Removed, in this order: speaker, vent hoses and vents, radio, glovebox liner, glovebox door, wiring harness.

One of the pins on the circuit board either was broken, or broke when I removed the connector. Apparently this isn't an uncommon problem, and should be fixable.