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Restoration Journal

March 1, 2002

Finished tearing down the dash. Got everything removed so the frame is completely bare. The only thing I haven't touched is the instrument cluster and bezel.

Here are the various pieces laying around:

March 3, 2002

Continued working on the dash. I'm restoring/cleaning up up parts in a haphazard manner. Whatever happens to be closest is what gets worked on.

Today I cleaned up the dash pad pieces (Mr Clean and a sponge, followed by Armor All), the map light switch, cigarette lighter, ignition switch and ash tray. Supplies for those pieces include Simple Green, sand paper and steel wool.

I was very happy with how the pot metal pieces are cleaning up. Luckily there's no pitting, and after a little elbow grease with the steel wool, they look like new again.

March 4, 2002

Disassembled the bezel/gauge cluster. Took me a little while to come up with a way to remove the retaining nuts for the switches that go through the bezel (flasher, head lights, wipers). Finally got them off using a small hammer and a punch to turn them.

Cleaned up those switches and their knobs. They look great now. Started painting a small rusted area on the ash tray.

Also painted a small area of the dash frame with SEM Trim Black to see how it matched the original. It's extremely close, if not exact, so that's what I'll use to paint the frame.

March 5, 2002

Decided to start the bezel refinishing project. Dawn decided to help tonight!

First thing to do is remove the plastic lenses from the bezel. We accomplished that by using a dremel cutting bit to saw off the edges of the plastic "mushrooms" that hold everything together, and then trimming them the rest of the way using a small utility knife.

Worked very well, although Dawn put a couple scratches in 2 of the lenses. We're hoping some plastic cleaner/polisher will remove them. She felt very bad about it.

Painted the tops of the gauge center cones with chrome paint. The black portion didn't need to be touched up. They look pretty good.

Also tested the speedometer. I used a drill to turn it. I had vague memories of the needle being shaky, so I wanted to see if it could be fixed now. Upon testing though, the needle was quite steady, so if it's not steady in the car I'll know it's the cable or tranny.

March 6, 2002

Continued working on the bezel. Picked up some clear plastic cleaner on the way home to remove scratches on the lenses. It was working, but it was taking much time and many applications, so I resorted to rubbing compound. Being more abrasive, it reduced the scratch quicker, but also scuffed the plastic a bit. But by following that up with cleaner and then polish (yes, 3 steps), they are nice and clear again.

Dawn did the same process with the other lens that was scratched. They're not perfect, but pretty good. I don't think the scratches will be noticeable after things are re-assembled.

The majority of the night was spent sanding the bezel in preparation for painting. Just trying to remove any old, flaking paint. Spent 90 minutes on that alone, with probably an hour left before masking/painting can begin.

Removed the wood graining also, and used some solvent to remove the adhesive. I'm not putting it back - I'm not a fan of wood grain in general, and that cheap decal just looked cheesy any way.

March 7, 2002

Finished sanding the bezel. Then masked it for painting the black section, and put a couple coats of Trim Black on it. I think it will look pretty good. That took pretty much the entire night.

Also polished the remaining lens, so they are ready to be re-installed.

March 8 - 10, 2002

Continued working on the bezel. Not much to say - lots of masking, priming and painting. Very time consuming. Got the argent and black areas done; still need to do the chrome areas and restore the lettering.

After spraying the black:

After spraying the argent and some black touch up (I didn't do a good enough job masking and got some primer overspray on the black):

Completed glovebox piece (except for clear coating it):

March 11, 2002

Masked for and painted the chrome sections of the dash. Took all night, as the masking is quite involved.

After painting I removed the masking tape and a small area of the argent came off with the tape. I was pissed. I'm not about to mask everything again to try to fix it, so I'll be using a paint brush.

Overall it looks pretty good. There are a few flaws (most of which probably only I can see), but I'm happy with the results. It sure looks better than when I started. Obviously not done by a professional, but I did save a couple hundred bucks doing it myself.

March 12, 2002

Decided I wouldn't be able to live with the dash if I touched it up with a paint brush, so I masked everything up and tried to fix the messed up argent area. It turned out ok - you can still see the flaw, but it's much better than if I'd used a paint brush.

Then it happened - removing the masking tape from the chrome ruined that paint! Damnit! So now I'll have to reshoot some of the chrome. I'm gonna wait at least a couple days to let the argent harden so that hopefully I'll be done after that.

Also painted the lettering on the bezel. It turned out pretty well; there are a couple spots I'll have to touch up with black. I ended up using a brush and dabbing the paint on.

Also painted the dash frame and glove box door. Use some sandpaper on the back side of the dash frame (there was some rust from mice living back there), washed it down, and then used almost the entire can of SEM trim black. I think it will look very good.

March 13, 2002

Touched up the lettering on the bezel; I had gotten the silver in a couple places it shouldn't have been. Covered it up with some black.

Re-assembled the glovebox door. Use a hot glue gun to reattach the Barracuda script emblem.

Last activity for the night was cleaning up the gauge housing; it needed a little scrubbing to remove all evidence of mice...

March 14, 2002

Organized all the dash bulbs so I can make a trip to a store to get new ones. They're all being replaced, even though they all still work, except for the map light.

Repaired the broken pin on the circuit board. I cut a #16 nail approximately in half, inserted it through the board and remnants of the old pin, and soldered it in place. Should work fine.

Also cleaned all the contacts on both boards and verified all the circuits are good. I'm getting close to putting everything back together...

March 15, 2002

Repainted the chrome areas that got ruined when removing masking tape. Masking everything took quite a bit of time. Also refurbished the radio: removed some light rust on top of the case, got some dirt/mice gunk out of the case itself, cleaned up the chrome portions of the face with steel wool and polished the plastic over the dial. Turned out very well.

Pix of the completed bezel, but before clear coating:

[9/27/03] - Many folks have asked me what paints I used on the gauge cluster. Here are the particulars:

  • argent - Dupli-Color Wheel Paint (Steel Finish)
  • black - SEM Trim Black
  • chrome - Krylon Chrome

March 16, 2002

Went out and bought a new speaker and some replacement defroster hoses. I then bench tested the radio/speaker. I was rather surprised it still works! And it even sounds half way decent.

I also clear coated the bezel. Here is the final product; note how the chrome no longer looks chromy:

Time to replace the gauge lenses. I used the method Dana, from the BOG list, suggested of re-melting the plastic posts that hold everything in place.

March 17, 2002

I bench tested all the gagues before putting them back in their housing. I applied 3 volts to them, which should take the needle up to about 60% of maximum reading. I also bench tested the voltage regulator. I'm now convinced they are in working order.

So, I was now able to bolt the bezel to the gauge housing, and then that assembly back onto the dash frame:

Next, I started bolting things back on; ash tray, cigarette lighter, switches. Before long I'll be ready to hook the wiring harness back up. Hopefully in a couple days I'll be putting this thing back in the car.

March 18, 2002

Picked up a pair of retaining ring pliers on the way home and used them to snug down the switch retaining nuts. They worked well on 2 of the 3 nuts; the washer one turns real hard for some reason, so I'll need to find a different solution for that one...

Dawn cleaned up the contacts on a replacement circuit board The Junk Yard Hero sent me (thanks Aaron!). We then swapped it for my original which had the broken pin repair.

Dawn replaced the bulbs in the sockets that turn into the circuit boards, and we installed them. I've only got 6 of the 8 I need, and one of them is busted, so I need to find 3...

Last activity for the night was installing the vents, speaker and radio. Almost ready to replace the wiring harness now.

Oh yeah - also bolted in the tach!

March 19, 2002

Painted the glovebox door hinge, then installed the glove box. It took quite a bit of staring at the hing/door/dash frame by me and Dawn before we figured out how it all went back together.

But after a while, I had it all screwed together. I'm not real happy with the fit of the door, but I can tweak that once it's mounted in the car.

Only thing left to do is re-install the harness; first step is to wipe it down to remove 30 years of dust/grime. Then I started checking all the wires for continuity; got about 1/3 of the way done before calling it a night.

March 20, 2002

Finished checking the entire dash harness for continuity. Just followed the wiring diagram with my trusty multi-meter. All wires are good!

Then I re-installed the harness. Not difficult; there were a couple things that I wasn't sure about, but all I needed to do was review the video tape I had taken and I knew what to do. I also tested as many things as I could, like the instrument lights, radio, glovebox light, etc. Everything I tested works.

March 21, 2002

Wired up the tach. Spliced the instrument light and power wires into the radio. As far as I know that should work properly.

Also clamped the defrost hoses to the vents. Except for the upper dash pad, it's ready to install.

March 22 - 24, 2002

Installed the heater box in the car, after glueing the mystery piece of insulation in place. Folks on the email list told me where it needed to go.

On Saturday, my lovely wife helped me install the dash, after I completed a few last minute tasks (cleaning up the bolts that hold it in place, bolting on the upper dash pad, etc).

The actual installation went smoothly; here's what we did:

  1. Get the dash placed on the two lower screws, to support it
  2. While she held the dash to stop it from rotating and falling on the floor, I connected the heater controls and heater wiring
  3. While I supported the left side of the dash, she removed the screw on the left side
  4. I then lowered the left side of the dash a bit to insert it over the studs on the bracket that's welded to the firewall, then raise it back into position
  5. She then replaced the left hand screw
  6. At that point, just rotate the dash forward and attach it to the cowl
That seemed to be a pretty painless way to do it!

The rest of the time spent on it over the weekend involved connecting all the wiring and testing that things still worked. I was also now able to test things like the heater fan and the wipers, which work!

Oh, yeah - also clamped the defrost hoses to the heater box.

It was a good weekend, but not perfect. While doing all this, I banged a ratched against a valve cover and the interior side of a door, leaving marks each time. Not the end of the world, but I hate marring nicely painted metal.

I also broke the clips off the wiring harness where it connects to the bulkhead connector. Stay tuned for a possible repair...

Last activity for the weekend was cleaning up the basement, which was pretty messy after 3 weeks spent on the dash. I also starting cleaning up door hardware (I want to get the handles installed), and discovered I'll need new handles. I hadn't looked at the originals in over a year, and they are pitted badly enough to warrant replacement.

March 25, 2002

Not much time spent on the car tonight. I cleaned up the driver's side door lock mechanism; simple green with a brush, rinse, WD-40, lithium grease. I spent most of the night trying verify it works, and I still can't figure out how to lock it.

Bought a new antenna bezel and door handles on Ebay. Saved $40 compared to Year One.

March 26, 2002

After doing nothing but the dash for such a long time, I'm having trouble getting started on the next mini-project. Tonight I was thinking about the steering column, so that's what got worked on.

Just derusted/degreased/cleaned all the brackets and bolts associated with the column. I'll need to paint the bracket that mounts to the firewall. Got everything except the column itself cleaned up.

March 28, 2002

Cleaned up the rear wiring harness; everything necessary to put it back in the car. Lots of small tasks: wiping down all the wiring w/ soap & water, soldering some wires, cleaning up tail light sockets so they shine again, cleaning all the contacts, testing bulbs, cleaning up the high-beam foot switch.

The left rear marker light socket was in rough shape. I cleaned it up as well as I could; I'll need to find a replacment spring and electrical contact, as the originals were rusted away.

March 29, 2002

Installed the rear wiring harness in the car. Since I don't have my tail lights yet, that really just consisted of laying it in place, bolting in the dimmer switch, and connecting it to the dash harness.

Spent the rest of the evening inspecting my new engine harness. I compared it to the old one (which had all the wires labeled when I removed it), to make sure it seemed identical. It does, so I labeled the wires on the new harness accordingly. Hopefully installing will be very straight forward.

Also removed the positive battery cable from the engine harness and cleaned it up.

March 30, 2002

Did some technical reading to understand what modifications I'll need to make to the engine harness for electronic ignition. Realized that it's really 2 separate modifications: one for electronic ignition and one for the charging system.

I'll have to pick up an electronic voltage regulator for the charging system aspect, but I already have the electronic ignition parts. I spliced a single wire of my 4 prong ECU into the wiring harness. That should be all that's necessary.

Also degreased/cleaned up the negative battery cable and the block-to-firewall ground wire.