Today I worked some on the inside brace for the grille shell. As I mentioned, I wanted to keep this brace rather than just cut it out but that meant it would need to be moved forward to clear the new condenser. That would be simple enough, but in order to install the grille it must be slid into place over the top of the brace from the inside of the grille shell. This means that the brace also needed to be removable, so that's what I set out to do.
First I made this mock up brace to make completely sure that the real brace would need to be removable. I was able to physically put the grille in place with this temporary brace installed, but it was a very, very tight fit and could possibly cause some scratched paint or bent metal so I decided to make the brace removable. I'm sure if I ever have to remove the grille again I'll be glad I did.
By this time I've been working on projects long enough that I have a small box of scrap metal I've kept from the left overs. It comes in useful for things like this. I dug out another old piece of smaller angle iron and cut it up.
I made two small tabs from the angle iron and measured and drilled a hole, then used some self tapping screws.
The first arm looked like this
After they were both done I needed to find some metal to connect them.
I screwed the parts together and used the brace as a handle for welding the tabs on.
Since the shape of the original bracket was flat on the back and round on the front I didn't have anything to exactly match it. I know it will be 100% hidden from all sides but if I open this thing up in 5,10 or 20 years I don't want to see some hacked together piece of metal and wonder why I didn't do it right the first time. I used part of this old fairing mount I bought for my motorcycle a while back. I found it on craigslist and dad bought it for me in Florida since he was on vacation at the time. He drove and picked it up then brought it all the way back to Tennessee and it turned out to be way too big for my motorcycle so I sold it and bought the smaller one I have on the bike now. This mount came with it and is cut and welded back together so it's just scrap metal.
I cut a relief in the end of the pipe so I could compress it and then cut off the ends to fit inside the tubing.
It pulled a little bit as I welded it. It was so hot outside combined with having to wear the welding jacket I finally got to the point where I was more concerned with getting out of the heat than with finishing this project so I got it welded up and I'm going to wait to grind it smooth and shape it up later.
This is how it will mount now. In my near heat stroke delirium I almost welded the tab on backwards where the screw head would have faced forward, making it impossible to remove it once the grille is in. It is very easy to remove and with the brace out the grille slides in even easier than before and without the hassle of worrying about bending or scratching anything.
I put both fenders on and begrudgingly trimmed away parts of the grille shell and inner fenders to give them the appropriate clearance over the spring perches. After I got all that finished I was able to begin mocking up the radiator, one of the parts of the build I have been really dreading.
This brace in the front interferes with the new air conditioning condenser, located on the front of the radiator, so it will have to be cut. Most guys seem to cut these out but I am going to reshape it so it will still be there. I think I will have to make a center bolt in piece to the brace because the grille must mount from the inside before the radiator goes in and must slide into place behind the brace.
After I had the fenders, grille shell and inner fenders bolted on I had to go back and shave a bit more from the grille shell, as indicated by the line drawn here.
After some test fitting I realized I would have to trim some of the bottom pan out of the grille shell for the bottom of the condenser to have clearance.
I also had to notch the bottom of the grille shell pan a bit more to clear the transmission cooler lines, which, since the transmission cooler and radiator are made together, exit out of the bottom of the radiator.
I was very scared that I was going to have clearance issues with the radiator and it would cause all kinds of problems, possibly causing me to have to completely switch front drives and change to a Corvette or Firebird style. As you can see, I wound up having plenty of room, which is good because I will also have to fit the electric fans between the engine and radiator. I also found that although it will be a tight fit, I will be able to run my cold air induction from the original 265 style breather over the top of the radiator, which will bring in cold air from in front of the radiator rather than drawing in hot air from behind it. These fuel injected motors are very sensitive to the air temperature coming into the engine.
Dad and my friends Nick and Daniel came over to help set the body back on. Normally we all have a pretty flexible schedule but for some reason it took about a week or so to get everyone free to be able to come by on the same night. Moving everything out of the garage was no small feat.
Here we are deciding our plan of attack. April took pictures for us.
And this is where the grunting started
Even with 4 guys this thing wasn't light. What made it so bad was the fact that there was no good spot to get a good hold of it.
A little bit more
A little fine tuning and it was right on the money.
April captured us admiring our handiwork
And post-hernia inspections
The transmission dipstick was hitting the firewall, but other than that I was very glad to see that there weren't any other parts of the engine hitting the firewall.
It is close, though.
I'm surprised that massive transmission fits up in that hole.
Unfortunately, the Lokar shifter plate is hitting the very back of the floorboard. Another 1/16 of an inch and it would have been fine. I'll have to cut this out, which won't be a huge problem since I'll have to make a new cover for this area anyway.
April got all artistic on us when we weren't looking
I'm getting absolutely sick of lugging these doors around from one side of the garage to the other. They are super cumbersome.
Here's a shot of the car.
And afterwards we couldn't help but prop the fenders up to see what it might look like if it were a real car.
After we finished we wound up standing around in the garage and talking to 9 or 10 o'clock that night, talking about cars and telling stories.
Daniel is real big into drag racing. He currently runs a 77 Trans Am that's a strip-only racer as well as an old RX-7 with a Chevy 350. He's also building a '68 Charger pro-street and just recently acquired an old 60's rail dragster that he's rebuilding. He's showing us pictures of the newest dragster he had just gotten that week. It's a Chevy Vega with a huge motor in it. What's cool about this one is it's also street legal. He traded his motorcycle for it straight up.
The next day I spent most of the day reorganizing the garage. To mock up the grille shell I reinstalled the top chrome hood strip to make sure I got the distance and angle correct. If you look at the bottom corners of the grille shell you'll notice they're contacting the shock towers and this is causing the grille shell to bend inward. This is where some trimming will have to be done.
I bolted the fenders on while doing my alignment so I sat the hood pieces on just to see what it looked like. For the first time it actually resembled a car and it was nice to get a glimpse of what the final goal might eventually resemble.
It's been quite a while since I posted any updates so I'll have to go back and see if I can remember what was going on by looking at the pictures.
April was on summer break so she helped me run the remaining fuel lines. We had to make some support tabs for the fuel line brackets to mount to so April made part of them. We started with some of the left over angle iron pieces from the cattle trailer project.
All we had were scraps left over so April cut them up and put a 45 degree angle in them so I could weld them together.
After I welded the pieces together April shaped them up then I welded them onto the frame. I wasn't very happy with the welds. I couldn't get a consistent ground to the frame for some reason, but they'll do more than fine to hold these tabs.
While I was working on mounting the parking brake April measured, marked and drilled the holes for the brackets. That task was actually much more difficult than it sounds.
When I finally got the parking brake bracket where I wanted it I drilled the hole for it in the frame. I then found that mice had not only been in the headliner and the trunk, but also all the way up in the frame and had decided to remodel the insulation in the car. There was so much in there that before I could drill the back side of the hole I would have to stick my drill half way in, turn the bit, and start pulling out more and more insulation. It felt like it would never stop coming out.
Here's our handy work, before the holes were drilled. These look pretty simple but going from angle iron to lengthened, drilled, welded mounts took about half a day just for the three mounts we had to make.
And after the line brackets were installed
The parking brake bracket had the be mounted first because as you can see the fuel lines had to run side by side on top of it to clear the body. This was our 3rd and final bracket.
As you can see these lines had to swap positions a few times along their path, switching between side by side and stacked positions. It made the bends somewhat of a challenge, but I think the end result turned out decent.
I also ran the hard line from the front of the filter/regulator up to the point where it will connect with the flex line, which will run from the frame to the fuel rails on the engine.