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Kurk_Kurk

My '78 Firebird Esprit

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This seems like a good place to post a log AND receive feed back incase i do something dumb. Here, we have my Firebird, passed down from my grandmother so i'm the second owner. The earliest photo i have of this car is from the rear diff repair after a very bad accident one night about 4 years ago. Note the black door. over the years, i've changed it up and pretty much ruined the car. I've always wanted something unique, hence the teeth, L88 hood and phat tires. 

Now it's about time i tear it all down and start over the right way. The car will be built up to handle corners and the ETC. Hopefully i'll have it on an actual road coarse after all is said and done. 

Before i do anything custom to this car, i need to weld in new rear sub frames, floor pans and try to straighten the body again. Afterwards, i plan to twin turbo the 355ci engine i have because i'm aiming for 650hp or somewhere around that place. I would like a QA1 suspension upgrade as well and lower it about 1". Oh, and thicker tires. 

 

In a few days, i'll have the car in a carport tent and the building will begin. 

DSC_0059.JPG

PSX_20180128_165707.jpg

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Sounds like it will be quite the build! Look forward to seeing more.

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I'm with Ringo, I can't wait to see what you do to it.

One question -I realize the answer is probably cost related and how deep your wallet is, and that is a good answer.

Have you considered putting an entire new chassis under your car? Schwartz Performance has a entire chassis, not just subframe connectors for the 70-81 F-bodies.  I think an entire chassis would be much stiffer and responsive and better suited to the amount of horsepower and suspension parts you want to through at this car to make it a G-machine/autocross beast. Food for thought.

http://www.schwartzperformance.com/1970-1981-f-body-camaro-firebird-chassis-full-frame/

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18 hours ago, Frosty said:

I'm with Ringo, I can't wait to see what you do to it.

One question -I realize the answer is probably cost related and how deep your wallet is, and that is a good answer.

Have you considered putting an entire new chassis under your car? Schwartz Performance has a entire chassis, not just subframe connectors for the 70-81 F-bodies.  I think an entire chassis would be much stiffer and responsive and better suited to the amount of horsepower and suspension parts you want to through at this car to make it a G-machine/autocross beast. Food for thought.

http://www.schwartzperformance.com/1970-1981-f-body-camaro-firebird-chassis-full-frame/

I've actually looked into that a while ago. It was a first step sort of thing but the price tag is $5k and im most likely going to be using the Spit'n Glue bank after i weld in those damned sub frames.

However, i figure some homemade frame connectors could do the same thing anyway keeping the body stiff as well as some small roll cage. Right?

 

Welp, i wrote that before clicking the link because my naive mind thought i knew what you were talking about. That price is way more than the frame chassis i found for the 2nd gen Fbody. If only i could remember where i found that...

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Trust me, I understand the limits one's wallets makes on the best of projects. Most of us haven't hit the lottery and can ill afford a six or seven figure car.

I'd go with a pre-fabbed subframe connector kit from a reputable supplier in order to save yourself a lot of pref-ab work time. Ditto on the roll cage - especially if you don't have a tube bender - get a kit made for your car that someone else did all the engineering work. You will have enough work ahead of you just installing both kits and tweaking the interior.

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Oh yea, I've got enough work alright. i don't even know how to weld yet, but im going off the metaphor "pushing spit with a stick" ontop of that welding, i gotta find new body panels, trunk and floor pans. Just found all that out recently. I even have a huge hole behind the driver side red marker light that shines through to the trunk. The rear fenders around the wheel are rotted, good thing i plan on a small, custom wide body design. 

i got a carport tent coming in, so i can set that up next week and get the car out of the rain and potential hurricanes for the season. I'll be throwing down a large heavy duty tarp to park the car ontop of, since i can't park on direct grass because moisture. 

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2 hours ago, Kurk_Kurk said:

Oh yea, I've got enough work alright. i don't even know how to weld yet, but im going off the metaphor "pushing spit with a stick" ontop of that welding, i gotta find new body panels, trunk and floor pans. Just found all that out recently. I even have a huge hole behind the driver side red marker light that shines through to the trunk. The rear fenders around the wheel are rotted, good thing i plan on a small, custom wide body design. 

i got a carport tent coming in, so i can set that up next week and get the car out of the rain and potential hurricanes for the season. I'll be throwing down a large heavy duty tarp to park the car ontop of, since i can't park on direct grass because moisture. 

Plan on investing in a bunch of welder's blankets too then. If you are going to be doing a lot of this work outside in a car port, you have to protect your car and your neighbor's cars from stray sparks that could set things on fire. Good thing that virtually all the body panels you need are reproduced these days too. 

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Have been doing welding and fabrication for 40 years.....Everything from paper thin aluminum to six inch thick Core 10 structural steel.....Would highly suggest that you take a basic welding class at a local community college or something before even attempting to start...With the thin galvanized metal most cars are made of it is really really easy to do alot of damage really really quick...Would be time and money well spent plus you can use it to make money.....

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14 hours ago, TWO LANE BLACK TOP said:

Have been doing welding and fabrication for 40 years.....Everything from paper thin aluminum to six inch thick Core 10 structural steel.....Would highly suggest that you take a basic welding class at a local community college or something before even attempting to start...With the thin galvanized metal most cars are made of it is really really easy to do alot of damage really really quick...Would be time and money well spent plus you can use it to make money.....

I agree with Two Lane on this one. Guitarsextreme (a.k.a GE) makes money, from time to time, by building Model A, Model T, and '32/33/34 Ford roadster chassis on the side.

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I mean i have welded before and i did pretty good with a mig welder on my first try so i doubt it could be too difficult. Ill be starting with small body panel patches to get a feel for what I'm doing. 

I found a problem already though, at 15-25 mph i have a weird side to side wobble out the rear end. I have no idea what can cause this since all its done is sit for 2 months. The only thing i can thing about, is the one wheel with 3 lug nuts holding it on. Hmmmmmm.

I'll also be posting on instagram if anyone wants to see more of the bird's current state. Just find kurk_kurk

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Check your tires. See if you have a flat spot on tires or worse, maybe one of your tires has had a steel belt separate. You are looking for a visible blemish in the tire.

I had this happen once on a my '80 Buick Regal. It was my daily driver at the time and it would wobble at low speed and stop at higher speeds. I bad a broken steel belt and I had to replace the tire. In my case it was my right rear tire.

Edited by Frosty

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Well, i don't have a flat spot. but one of my tires is like, making a U shape. Pretty sure that might be the problem then. 

Aside form this, the driver side wheel sticks out an entire 1" more than the passenger side rear wheel. I don't remember if it's always been like that, but if i can't fix that, i guess i could use some spacers to even it out. 

Weather has been pretty shite so i haven't had a chance to strip the parts off. Still waiting...

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Sounds like one tire needs replacing for sure.

As for the driver side being wider than the passenger side, what are the tire measurements on both sides? If the tire sizes are the same, then I'm guess the back spacing between the two rims is different and you need to get two consistent rims.

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On 9/12/2018 at 12:49 PM, Frosty said:

Trust me, I understand the limits one's wallets makes on the best of projects. Most of us haven't hit the lottery and can ill afford a six or seven figure car.

I'd go with a pre-fabbed subframe connector kit from a reputable supplier in order to save yourself a lot of pref-ab work time. Ditto on the roll cage - especially if you don't have a tube bender - get a kit made for your car that someone else did all the engineering work. You will have enough work ahead of you just installing both kits and tweaking the interior.

 

On 9/13/2018 at 6:10 PM, TWO LANE BLACK TOP said:

Have been doing welding and fabrication for 40 years.....Everything from paper thin aluminum to six inch thick Core 10 structural steel.....Would highly suggest that you take a basic welding class at a local community college or something before even attempting to start...With the thin galvanized metal most cars are made of it is really really easy to do alot of damage really really quick...Would be time and money well spent plus you can use it to make money.....

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been buried in work this year, sorry! 

Let me first say this, if you effectively stiffen the chassis of that year bird you will be amazed at the handling performance! That said as an overal choice, frame connectors are last on the list!

The back third of the car is just sheet metal, even the portion that looks like frame. The true strength of the back portion of those and the first gen was in the floor, just after the spare tire to the connection of the horizontal floor. There are actually three layers of floor welded together with different angles to each piece and void space in between. The weak point is the unsupported floor from the forward spring perch to the subframe, which is the reason for the frame connectors. 

You can weld the front portion to the subframe, but the back portion is connecting to thin sheet metal! No matter how you try to connect it or what you connect it to, the final stress point is thin sheet metal. I have seen more guys use frame connectors to stiffen that area and in the end after continued use it tears the adjoining sheet metal somewhere as a result of continued stress! 

The only effective why is to build either a full frame or as I did three different times. Build a frame that runs from the front subframe to the back of the car, ending at the rear inside valance panel. Depending on what type of rear suspension you want will determine the frames configuration. 

 

This first picture is of the 1969 Z/28 full frame it was a different configuration as it was built to race on road courses.

BD0D7C91-0792-4FAB-8070-38F89AC56E1C.jpeg

1974 Z full frame completed

DCFB604F-7CFB-49F6-B79F-70B512EDA240.jpeg

Body being installed

7C863AF7-CF48-4E46-9516-B85BC75C2267.jpeg

shot of the 74 frame being built, 69 in the back

D87ADA51-E623-4AF1-AACE-5B01FB56B13A.jpeg

Continuation of the 74 body

B6713ECC-9F4A-4B92-8594-6B800FAFE475.jpeg

74 finished 

08F2F6BD-285C-4BC1-A25B-F1ED5EDC3C01.jpeg

An other shot of 74 frame

07C08A76-9802-47BA-8DD9-675E14AE53B3.jpeg

Edited by Last Indian
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Good luck with this project! Keep pictures coming thru the process.

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5 hours ago, Last Indian said:

 

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been buried in work this year, sorry! 

Let me first say this, if you effectively stiffen the chassis of that year bird you will be amazed at the handling performance! That said as an overal choice, frame connectors are last on the list!

The back third of the car is just sheet metal, even the portion that looks like frame. The true strength of the back portion of those and the first gen was in the floor, just after the spare tire to the connection of the horizontal floor. There are actually three layers of floor welded together with different angles to each piece and void space in between. The weak point is the unsupported floor from the forward spring perch to the subframe, which is the reason for the frame connectors. 

You can weld the front portion to the subframe, but the back portion is connecting to thin sheet metal! No matter how you try to connect it or what you connect it to, the final stress point is thin sheet metal. I have seen more guys use frame connectors to stiffen that area and in the end after continued use it tears the adjoining sheet metal somewhere as a result of continued stress! 

The only effective why is to build either a full frame or as I did three different times. Build a frame that runs from the front subframe to the back of the car, ending at the rear inside valance panel. Depending on what type of rear suspension you want will determine the frames configuration. 

 

This first picture is of the 1969 Z/28 full frame it was a different configuration as it was built to race on road courses.

BD0D7C91-0792-4FAB-8070-38F89AC56E1C.jpeg

1974 Z full frame completed

DCFB604F-7CFB-49F6-B79F-70B512EDA240.jpeg

Body being installed

7C863AF7-CF48-4E46-9516-B85BC75C2267.jpeg

shot of the 74 frame being built, 69 in the back

D87ADA51-E623-4AF1-AACE-5B01FB56B13A.jpeg

Continuation of the 74 body

B6713ECC-9F4A-4B92-8594-6B800FAFE475.jpeg

74 finished 

08F2F6BD-285C-4BC1-A25B-F1ED5EDC3C01.jpeg

An other shot of 74 frame

07C08A76-9802-47BA-8DD9-675E14AE53B3.jpeg

That's some nice work..

Class A......

Edited by TWO LANE BLACK TOP

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On 9/25/2018 at 6:08 PM, TWO LANE BLACK TOP said:

 

That's some nice work..

Class A......

Thanks Two Lane! The “74”, which was the frame that was in the driveway and garage, was a fun car once the full frame went under it. It was my wife’s so I made it more docile. Still it was a really excellent handeling car. It was very quite because I used 1” square tube in a square pattern attached to the frame and made a double wall floor with foam in between. That particular “69” Z was my all time favorite car. The car would pull 1.25 g’s in a 300’ skid pad test, the CG was lowered 5” and RC was lowered 13” yet still rode quite nice. It was an 11 second quarter car and so much more. I use to explain it as, the car drove like it was an extension of me. Just plain fun!

Kurk Kurk, I wish you the best in whatever you choose.

Edited by Last Indian

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Posted (edited)

Alright, looks like i made some progress for phase 1 of the restoration. The whole front fenders, bumper and hood are all off and the guts are fully exposed. So much to the point where i can see how every. single. bushing. has been dry rotted and dusted out of place. The body mount bushings? they fell out finally, rotted away and feeling like a wet paper towel. Unfortunately, while trying to tackle the body mounts, on the first turns i felt the bold starting to 'rub' you know, the tell-tale sign that the rusted bolt is about to break. So now i wait for new bolts to come in before going any further with that. pretty sure i need to work one side of the frame and then the other, lifting the body up just enough and etc. fun times. 

I can, however, go ahead with control arm bushing replacement since i think that's where the illusion of a 'bent body' is coming from. Not to mention how i now have all the room in the world to work on it. Little by little. 

And i would love to have a full frame like you have there, but i simply have no idea how to do that. the most i'll end up doing, is cutting out the entire back seat and trunk out and turning that into a reinforced cage section since.. it's all sheet metal there anyway. I'll create a bunch of room back there to play around with. let my creative side out for a bit lol. 

So if anyone knows, i need to know the bolt size on the body mounts. I know it's a 15/16, grade 8 bolt, but i dont know the thread or length i need. Any help?

UntIl NeXT tImE

IMG_20181007_111754_530.jpg

Edited by Kurk_Kurk

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So this is actually a pretty big deal, we got the old body mount hardware and rubber all out for the replacements!

They have never been touched since their day they rolled off the factory assembly line, as with most of the parts on the car. This is a really big deal because one day when me and my Father had to replace the flywheel, we put the jack stand under the trans and pumped it up for engine alignment, the whole car would bend and creak from the firewall and forward. It was about to accordion itself, really, with how much it bent. that was because of these worn out bolts. 

With the new Energy Suspension rubber bushings and hardware in place, the whole thing barely budges from it's position.Which gives me the whole 'i told you so' attitude because my father keeps telling me the car is 'unsaveable' 

But seriously, look at how awful these bolts got. I drove around with these for about 4 years, yikes. 

20181020_140949.jpg

20181020_155640.jpg

20181020_162456.jpg

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Don't kick yourself about the shape the body bushings are in. As I tell everyone - time, UV, dirt/grim, and chemicals are the bain of all rubber products on a vehicle. On a friend's '68 Impala, I saw nearly a half inch of shrinkage from the deteriorated stock bushing to the new replacement. That had a huge impact on door and fender alignment.

I am glad that you now understand the importance of replacing these components and what they will mean to tightening up the car as a whole, down the road.

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4 hours ago, Frosty said:

 I saw nearly a half inch of shrinkage from the deteriorated stock bushing to the new replacement. That had a huge impact on door and fender alignment.

 

Ah crap. That means my doors probably aren't lined up either. i had to install both  with the shot body mounts after the accident.

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I understand. You may have to tweak them a little. Align the doors first, before moving forward to the front end and fenders 

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 Would also highly suggest replacing the pins and bushings in the door hinges before attempting to line the up the doors.....Unless they're completely worn out..(holes wallered out and obolonged) in which case  you'll have to replace them.........

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13 hours ago, TWO LANE BLACK TOP said:

 Would also highly suggest replacing the pins and bushings in the door hinges before attempting to line the up the doors.....Unless they're completely worn out..(holes wallered out and obolonged) in which case  you'll have to replace them.........

I took a look when i got home yesterday. Oh boy, are they rusted out and bent. Driver side was expected, but the passenger side bolts and hinge were bent out of shape. Lots of angry passengers over the years ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ thanks for the heads up!

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17 hours ago, TWO LANE BLACK TOP said:

 Would also highly suggest replacing the pins and bushings in the door hinges before attempting to line the up the doors.....Unless they're completely worn out..(holes wallered out and obolonged) in which case  you'll have to replace them.........

Agreed - the large 2nd-gen and 3rd-gen F-body doors are notorious for being heavy and sagging.

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