End in Sight?

Well after more months than I care to count, the Monza is just about ready to go out the door finally. Sure, there are a few bits to take care of but the list is getting shorter and doing so rather quickly. At this point, I am really waiting on other people more than just facing a pile of parts and work.

Over the last few weeks the bodywork was finished, a coat of Petty blue paint was applied, all of the connections for the engine were completed such as radiator, hoses, fuel lines, vacuum lines and even spark plug wires. The transmission had to be backed off so that we could install the flexplate, convertor and the starter. Most of it went okay but we found that with this aftermarket block and the smaller 153 tooth flexplate, the starter had to be ground a bit to clear the block. Nothing huge but again it’s the details that matter.

We also had our first attempt at building the headers for the engine and I must say that they turned out pretty good. They are not equal length but after doing some reading, I found out that equal length headers are actually pretty rare birds. I believe we are within a couple of inches so I am satisfied with that and hopefully they will make good power. Our next task was grinding out the header plates to match the exhaust ports and moving some of the brake lines on the left front of the car at the master cylinder to keep them away from the header heat.

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Lexan was cut for new windows except for the windshield. I outlined each one about an inch around the perimeter with black paint and mounted them with stainless steel button head screws. The rest of the interior was installed along with a new electric shifter arrangement and RPM switch for selecting the shift point.

One of our friends is helping out with doing some TIG welding on the wheelie bars and track locator bar. I had to mock up the wheelie bars to figure out where the mounts go on the rear housing, then pull it back out and do the finish welding on that. With that accomplished I was able to finish up the brake connections at the rear, put lube in the rear finally and then get the brakes bled out. One of the changes I made when doing the bodywork was filling in the old vent area in front of the windshield. While that turned out good, it also meant I had to find a new way to fill the master cylinder. There is a firewall of course in the car that has a top plate that sits under the aluminum dashboard. So I cut a hole in the top of this to access the master cylinder and made up a plate to screw back in place to cover the hole. With the brakes finished, I then put the aluminum dashboard back in and the interior is complete.

One item that I have to figure out is getting the hood scoop sealed to the carburetor. There are a couple of options, one is to put a plate on the carb and seal it with foam to the scoop or build a plate that mounts to the bottom of the hood and sits down on the carburetor. Either way the hood scoop doesn’t do much good without being sealed to the carburetor.

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Update – I wrote the above back around the first of June. This is now the middle of July and the car has been finished and made a couple of trips to the drag strip. Our first two shots were less than spectacular and it’s a long story but I failed to read the camshaft card information that was given to me. Messing up the firing order of the engine will definitely cut the power output but as it turns out, maybe that was a good thing. We only picked up about .40 over the runs with the previous engine in place and as you have read there have been a ton of changes made to the car so that was certainly disappointing. But once we figured out the camshaft information, we had an entirely new animal to deal with and the chassis of the car became the center of our attention. We next attempted to try the car out with a test and tune at Coastal Plains dragway located in Jacksonville, NC. As it turns out this is more a street event for them and the track preparation is minimal at best – this along with a lot of new horsepower was not the ideal situation for us. We had problems right off the bat with the carb being gummed up with a gel and trying to get it to idle or just drive around the pits was tough. We lucked out in being able to borrow a carb from the Camaro and while it was rich, it did get us going. Initial launches of the car had us going for the fence almost immediately and even reducing launch RPM did not seem to have much impact. We finally decided that our best plan was just to try and get to the 60 foot mark with the car and not go any further under power. This allowed us to make a couple of adjustments to the ladder bars that finally allowed the car to launch straight. Unfortunately, on the last launch the driver decided to run it through – kind of a bad mistake as the car went to the right, then left, right and finally into the left lane of the track. We discovered that we had a leaking overflow bottle that was putting down some water under the right side of the car. I also believe that we need to make a front spring change as the car has zero rotation front to rear and the rear shocks are positioned too far down and need to be raised.

Currently we are not sure when our next session will be as we want to make these changes and with the current weather situation, we either are getting rained out or the heat is so oppressive that tracks are cancelling events.

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