Chris' '68 Charger R/T restoration

RT68440

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Hey guys, Im a new member of the forum. Some of you may have seen my intro thread, but for those of you that haven't, Ill do a quick recap. My name is Chris and I have been restoring a '68 Charger on and off for about 7 years now. My dad bought the car for us to work on together back in 1998 when I was a freshman in high school. It was a nice 10 footer and it ran great. My dad taught me basic mechanics on it. We rebuilt the brakes, put a cam in it and headers and exhaust. Eventually we had the motor rebuilt, so we restored the engine bay back to original (previous owner rattle canned the engine bay and had everything that unbolted chromed). We drove the car here and there, but my dad was never fully satisfied with it because he always noticed the flaws with it. My dad has never done body work and has never welded, so we just lived with it. When I was 22, I attended WyoTech and learned how to weld and do body work. After I graduated, I got a job at a hot rod shop where I still work. After a few years of working there and cutting up and modifying parts to make things fit, I had enough nerve to start restoring the Charger in May of 2009. I started at the rear of the car and removed the quarters, trunk floor, rear valance and tail light panel. I discovered that the rails had some pin holes at the rears, and instead of patching, I decided to just replace them. So I made a fixture out of 1" square tubing to the original rails, and removed them. We bought a set of clean southern rails and got them installed. I then installed an AMD rear cross member, lower valance, valance corners that I had to cut the crap out of to make them look like they should, 1 piece trunk floor and trunk floor extensions, and I sectioned in lower inner wheel housings and the outer wheel housing lips out of AMD pieces. We bought a set of CBD full quarters a few years ago. I have tons of pics of the rear sheet metal replacement, but pics are all on my dads camera, so I will have to get them and post them up.
My girlfriend (now wife) bought a house in May of 2010, about a year after I started working on the car. So a couple days a week I would stop by my parent's house and work on the car. It was really slow going and basically took me most of the 6-7 years to rebuild the rear of the car working maybe 2-3 hours a week on it. I have a Mustang that is a street/strip car that Im always messing with, so my garage was always consumed with that. This past year my parents built a house and my mom was not having any cutting/grinding/dust in her new garage, so this was a good opportunity to park my Mustang over at their house and bring the Charger to my house to speed up the process a little. Plus my garage is a two car and my parents old house was only a single car. So, I made up some dollies at work and loaded up the Charger on my bosses trailer and took it over to my house. This was just after New Years 2016. Ive torn into the front of the car and have made much more progress in the last two months than I have in 4 summers working on it at my parents.
Here are some pics showing moving the car to my house and the front metal work so far:

Pulling it out of my parents garage. This is the first time that its been outside of this garage sine it drove in under its own power in 2009:



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Loading it on the trailer:

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On the way to my house:

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In my garage:



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I am replacing the front rails, so the first thing that I did was get it up on jack stands and pull the K member and torsion bars out. The K member and front suspension has never been out of the car, so a lot of PB blaster, torches and taking my time not to break anything was the name of the game:



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Rot in the rails:

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With the K member out, I made a fixture for the front of the car out of 1" tubing. I then started by removing the inner aprons and the core support:

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I started removing the floor of the car to expose the torsion bar cross member so I could separate the front rails from the cross member. The cross member looked fine from under the car, but after I started peeling the floor away, it was apparent that the cross member would have to be replaced:

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I added more bracing to the front of the car just to be sure:

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Then, out came the cross member:

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So it was pretty obvious that the inner rockers were going to need some love. So I removed the seat braces and cut more of the front floor away to expose all of the inner rocker to see how big of a patch needed to be made:



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The seat braces will need some patch work, but overall they aren't terrible, so Im going to fix them. I soaked them in the parts washer at work then glass beaded them to start my work on them:



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I started on the passenger side rocker. With the inner rocker exposed, I marked out where I wanted to patch it and cut that section out. I took the old piece to work and made a new piece on my lunch break. I brought it home, tacked it in place, welded it up and ground it. Then I did the same exact process on the drivers side:

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Drivers side:

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With the rockers done, it was time for the cross member. I ordered an AMD piece, and waited a week for it to come in. Once it did, I wasn't too happy with the fitment. The flanges were pretty far away from the inner rocker which I was ok with fixing, but after taking some measurements I realized that the slugs that the torsion bars slide in to were at totally different angles then the stock piece:

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I decided to return the AMD piece and look for an original. After finding a clean cross member (thanks Jamey), I cleaned up and straightened the flanges, fixed the chisel marks from breaking the spot welds, and drilled my holes. The used piece literally dropped back into place. So this week I am going to blast it and get it welded in:

Test fitting the cross member:

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After doing some prep work:

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So that brings me up to date. I will keep this thread updated and thanks for looking!
 

gdrill

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Welcome, I missed your intro thread but this really speaks volumes! I'll be watching this one come along. Nice work you're doing there. I think you have some skills!
 

daytona kid

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Great work.. Your's was a little worse than mine.. Good to see another one coming back... 68's rule! :headbang:
 
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HEMI-ITIS

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Lookin good!! Keep up the good work!! There IS light at the end of the tunnel:icon_sunny:
 

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MT_Mopar

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Nice project Chris. I like your car and you've got a great setup to work on it now. That is cool you work at a shop doing the same kind of thing.

You do some good work, keep it up! and post pics of your progress.

Nice
 

Darius

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Looking great! I KNOW that level of pain, but, I also know the level of satisfaction now that I am actually driving mine. It took me 8 years Bro so keep after it, it WILL be worth it!
 

69 GTX

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This is the toughest part for sure. Once the steel is hung you will be over the hill. Great work.
 

RT68440

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Not too much progress tonight. Im picking up the sand blaster from my parents house tomorrow so Im waiting to blast the cross member before I weld it in. It was a warm 70* evening and there was a thunderstorm rolling through, so I thought Id go out and spend some time in the garage and enjoy the storm. The quarter panels were bare metal and got pretty rusty over the last few years. So I decided to DA the rusty hand prints off of the quarter and wipe it down with WD-40. The way that the car is positioned, this is pretty much the only panel that I can do without having to move the car, but after seeing it finished I will be doing the other side, roof and rear of the car ASAP:

BEFORE:





AFTER:







 

Darius

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You could damn near clear coat that qtr and call it done, looks bad *** bare like that.
 

RT68440

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Well, little more progress. I grabbed the sand blaster from my parents house the other night. I ended up getting 90% of the inside of the cross member blasted. I just wanted to get the heavy stuff out as the car will be getting acid dipped and e coated ultimately. I sprayed some weld thru primer on the areas to be welded and clamped it in place. I welded the ends to the rocker at the usual spot weld locations, then I did a seam weld on the insides of the cross member to give it some added strength:













 

pat1969charger

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I recently had a similar issue tryin to fit my aftermarket torsion crossmember and your post made me opt to send mine back and search out an original piece. Looking good, glad to see another saved!
 

RT68440

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Thanks! I have had to modify every single aftermarket piece that I've installed so far to some extent which is to be expected, but structural pieces like frame rails should be replaced with original IMO
 

RT68440

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Spent a couple more hours messing with the Charger today. I removed the passenger side front rail and mocked up the new one. I had to straighten out some of the flanges to get it to sit flush against the torsion bar cross member, but Im very happy with the fit. The rail bolts right in to my fixture which is a relief! So now Im going to clean up all of the flanges and mating areas and get it ready to weld in.

Old rail out:







Scraping off some of the undercoating in the cowl/rocker cap area. Looks like the undercoating did its job in this area:





Ill have to fix this area. Getting into this area with my drill was difficult and it was hard to get a straight shot with the cutter, so I got it the best I could and then chiseled the rest of the flange for the lower splash shield off which made it kind of funky in that area:





Put the new rail in the fixture to check the fit:

















Im hoping to get it welded in within the next few days, then I can start working on the passenger side

On a side note, here is really the only picture that I have of the Charger before I tore it apart. This was around 2007-2008. We barely took any pics of the car the entire time that we had it. This picture is with my uncles 1969 Shelby Mustang. He bought the Shelby in 1998, the same year that we bought the Charger. He had a shop restore it immediately after he bought it, so this was after his restoration. We had a ton of pics of the two cars from that day, and his computer crashed a while after losing all of the pics. The pic is crappy because its a picture of a picture, but it gets the idea across:

 
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RT68440

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Time for an update. I got the passenger side front rail prepped and installed. I ran into another problem area that I didn't expect to, so that is getting addressed before I move on to the drivers side rail.

Cleaning up the rail. I welded up the holes in the flanges from the spot weld cutter and straightened all of the flanges. I also scraped the undercoating off of the rail:







I had to make new flanges on the splash guard that connects the rail to the rocker. The originals were torn off from removing the rail from the original car:







All of the spot weld cutter marks welded up and ground smooth:











Front edge of the inner rocker repaired and ready for the rail:



Rail welded in:













So this brings me to my next area. I was scraping the undercoating from the edge of the firewall that's in in the wheel well. I wanted to clean the area up since that rail is now installed. I ended up finding a little rot where the layers of the cowl come together with the firewall. So I dissected the area and will be making pieces to fix it:

Scraping the undercoating:







Heres the problem area:









So I started removing the bad area one layer at a time:











That's where Im at right now. I am going to take my pieces to work and make some new ones and patch the area back together. Then its on to the next rail!
 

Xp29h

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Great project and great work. Keep it up!
 

RT68440

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Spent some more time on the firewall area. Its been a little slow going because with the weather turning nice, Ive been getting the yard in shape and I got my Mustang out of winter storage to do a few things to it to get ready for the drag strip this year. I got my patches made and got everything welded in

I had to remake the rear of the flange that the inner fender welds to. So you can see that the piece is fixed and im welding it back to the rest of the flange:



Making the firewall 90* piece:





Firewall piece welded in place and welded to the inner fender flange:



I ran out of welding wire, so that's why there are still some gaps in the seam in this pic:



Made my piece for the next layer. This is the floor of the cowl if that makes sense:



Then I welded it in and ground it:









Made sure to incorporate the little 90* bends at the edges of the patches to match the rest:



The last piece to go back in was the front of the actual cowl. This piece wasn't in bad shape, but I had to cut it out to gain access to the rest of the bad area. I glass beaded the piece and had to make a new section of flange from the inner fender bracket to where it connects to the rest of the firewall:



Then I welded the bracket that connects to the inner fender with the stud on it back to the firewall/cowl:





Then I welded the rest of the front firewall/cowl piece into place:





And got the area ground and cleaned up:









I have a couple holes to fix in the plate that connects the inner fender bracket on the cowl to the inner fender, then that can get welded back on and then I can get my fixture bolted back in place and start removing the drivers side rail!
 
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