Project Camaro – Vintage – Part VI

The work that we have been doing lately really takes it’s toll on you. Not only is it physically demanding to a certain extent, but when you’re dealing with sharp objects and high voltages, you need to pay some attention to the safety aspects. We always wear eye and hand protection when working on any part of the project. If you have ever had to have a small piece of metal removed from your eye, you’ll not want to do it again. Welding involves being cautious not only with the electrical power but also the high heat that is generated. Play it safe, this whole car crafting deal isn’t worth a bean if you’re 6 feet under!

One of the things that I try to do is not get caught up in working on one part of the car continuously, it gets boring to me and sometimes you have the tendency to rush things. I like to move around the car and it’s different parts working on bits of it at a time. As we finished up the other day, we squared away our distributor for the engine. It started out as an older points style unit that was in good shape. We removed everything, stripping it down completely and then putting it back together with just the parts that we needed. The unit now will be perfect for getting the spark from the coil to the plugs – just what we wanted it to do. Plus, finishing an item like this helps recharge the batteries a bit, you get the feeling that yes – you really can complete this massive project if you just break it down to smaller pieces.

[Update – 2015 – The distributor lasted about 5 years before it started showing serious signs of it’s age. While it still handled firing the engine, a new MSD unit was installed with the latest engine refresh.]

We have started to pull apart the 355 Chevy engine that is going to power this car. We built this engine a long time ago for another project, but never used it. The block is a 4-bolt main unit with a good GM forged steel crankshaft. The rods are stock units that were re-worked and fitted with ARP bolts along with a set of flat top pistons. We’re not using them in this motor so keep checking eBay as some of this stuff is going to end up there and it’s in great shape. As we are now building a high-compression, roller cam engine, we need to pull the motor down completely and start over from scratch. But that’s okay, we need the diversion from the other car work.

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We only had Saturday of this weekend to do any work on the car, although I plan on doing a few things during the upcoming week to catch us up a little. We did manage to get the engine completely torn down to the bare block, so the next work on it will be a bit of clean up grinding, some work on the oil passages and main saddles, plus a hot soapy wash. We will follow that up with compressed air to get all of the water out and wiping down the critical areas with WD-40 to stop any rust from forming.

We installed new control arm bushings in the a-arms and then Phillip installed them on the car, but we got hung up a bit trying to get the Moroso Trick Springs back in place. Without something to compress them, they simply aren’t going to go back into place easily and that’s after we took the advice of some other racers with these cars and shortened them one coil. We need to make up a tool to get the springs compressed to a shorter length and didn’t have the raw materials on hand in the garage.

Grinding and sanding body filler definitely makes one heck of a mess. We also applied another coat of filler to the gas tank door area, but it still needs just a little more to finish it out. The lower section that we have been working on got a second look and our thinking now is that we might be ahead of the game if we just cut the panel out and weld in a replacement one. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but that area has a lot of highs and lows that are going to take a lot more hammering to get leveled out.

We cut out a small area in the trunk recess to drop the 5 Gallon Jaz fuel cell into, but the metal strapping that we picked up to make the mounts for it ended up being about a sixteen to large to work correctly, so it’s back to the store again for something that will work. We had a lot of this going on this week, everything we did seemed to reach a certain point and then had to be stopped due to some part not working or not having the right pieces to finish it up with. Just part of car crafting, but still a royal pain in the butt!

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For additional articles on Project Camaro, please check the category titled “Camaro”.

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