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My '66 Charger Saga So Far

More progress on the Charger, not long now until she is back on the road for the first time since ’86!

The paint is turning out great, and I think I managed to get pretty darn close to the factory Poly color. Took my time and was extremely meticulous cleaning out every nook and cranny on all the components. There were remnants of factory paint, then layers of oily dirt, then a hastily applied coat of “teal” paint that was a crude attempt at Chrysler engine blue. In some areas I was able to simply wipe off the teal paint with a rag due to having zero prep before application. That has all been undone, back to bare metal. Thoroughly cleaned, degreased, primed and painted to the best of my ability.



I have had some tins of One Shot paints for a while, and decided to apply some white to the timing indicator and the balancer. Even though the motor is timed from before disassembly, I have a feeling it may need a tweak now all the components are new and nice. Plus it just looks good having this done.



After pulling the old timing set, I thoroughly cleaned the block and painted the visible areas using the same method as the other components. I installed a new double roller timing set from Cloyes, as the old one had way too much slack in it. To the point that I am convinced it could likely have been the cause of the 3 bent pushrods. Pre lubed it, and go the fuel pump wobbly cup on too.


I completed the dissembly of the tail light housing and trims. 4 of the screws were SEVERELY rusted and no removal effort I made worked. Even drilling them out was a battle, so I ended up slowly and carefully grinding the heads off of them. Managed to do it with almost no contact on the tail light housings, so I am pretty pleased with the result!


My housings are suffering from some flaking of the reflective material inside. Like every other part I have touched so far, I will be refinishing them. I have a reflective silver paint that I will be applying to make sure they function properly and the light is nice and uniform.


I also received the factory air cleaner and will be refinishing that soon as well. Anyone got a recommendation for a filter to drop in this thing? Came off of a ’66 Coronet. This is my first time working with this style of air cleaner. My ’59 had simple frog mouth scoops and I made filter inserts for them.

To anyone and everyone who has come this far in the story, thank you for following along!
After 18 hours of prep and painting...

I got the last of the engine components refinished, most notably the cylinder heads. I also picked up a pair of the "318 Poly" decals as I like the way they looked on a few other cars I saw in person. Next weekend is going to be the reassembly of the engine and I am VERY excited!


I spent a lot of time refinishing the taillight assembly too. The reflective coating was flaking off from inside the buckets, so I spent a while removing the flakes then sanding everything to level out and smooth the surface. After getting them as smooth as possible I gave them a nice even coat of primer.


You can see me in the background of that picture after 10 hours in 98 degree FL weather. I have seen the debate on white versus silver for the inside of the buckets, and decided I liked the idea of more of a "mirrored" finish since that is what the factory had. I have worked with "chrome" spray paints before and been nothing but disappointed, but I used a Rustoleum product and was actually pleasantly surprised at how similar the finish was to the original!


I picked up new stainless 8-32 screws for the trims, as the PO had secured the old surrounds on with aggressive and incorrectly threaded rusty ones. I also added the new Detroit Muscle gaskets for the lenses which fit perfectly. At first I was unsure about them being white, but then when I saw where they sat I figured it made sense rather than having a black line around the lens.


The lenses fit nicely, and from my reminded me of the huge improvement that the new ones made on the '59. I just wish they were the same price! Try $60 instead of $600... I am sure everyone on here already knows it but that Mopar Tax is real haha.


The trims were surprisingly fiddly to get installed, but I got there in the end. I was being extremely careful not to mar the new lenses or chrome. lots of tweaking and adjustment later I got everything lined up relatively well. I did a quick test fit on the car and am pretty happy with the result. Have to pull it one more time to tweak a couple more things, including adjusting the trunk lid, but I am overall quite pleased with the improvement. The taillight now looks as good as the new rear emblem!


Next weekend the wife is out of town again, so we are on to "Mission Rebuild a Poly" which should be fun! I have put tons of work in to make sure it is just right, and I can't wait to see how much happier it runs after all of the improvements. Stay tuned!
Big progress over the weekend, albeit thwarted by half a day of rain on Sunday. Got the surfaces cleaned and prepped, and dropped the new gaskets in place after a final inspection of everything that was about to be sealed up.


A friend of mine came over and helped me lug the heads back on. I am genuinely thankful to the person who wrote the post explaining about how you can slide the rockers to the side to insert the pushrods. I was genuinely baffled until I came across that details, and it made things SO MUCH EASIER! With those in place, I got the heads torqued down to spec thanks to the info on poly318.com and they are there to stay. And yes, I used sealant on the threads!!


I pre-lubricated all of the contact points in the valvetrain, then got everything covered up to keep out any dust and debris. I can't tell you how nice it is to have this engine in the correct color, and with 16 straight pushrods! I still need to go back and adjust the valves, but that will come after I get the front end assembled.


After prepping the surfaces, on the block and heads, I dropped on the new gaskets and used some RTV in the appropriate places, then dropped the intake manifold down onto everything. Got it cranked down to spec with the new hardware, since the old bolts were extremely crusty. I went for Grade 8 with stainless washers to prevent the heads from tearing up the paint. I was not sure which of these bolts needed sealant, so I played it safe and used it on all of them.


I got the new thermostat and housing installed, and the carb was already rebuilt from before the teardown so that just dropped right on as it is. I am thinking I may pull the coil back off and paint that bracket black, but we will see how I do on time.


I dropped on the factory style air cleaner that I picked up on here to keep dust and debris out of the carb, but quickly my OCD kicked in and I pulled it back off to start stripping it back for paint so it can look as fresh as everything else on the engine. Turns out I had a K&N filter on the shelf that dropped right into this air cleaner, so that made things easy!


I still have a couple more hours to put into stripping the rest of the air cleaner and getting it painted up, but I can see the finish line now! Next weekend will be the front end assembly and we should be close to ready for a first start after that.
Looking good !! Another red Charger on the road soon..

My back isn't thrilled with me at the moment, but I am determined to have it running very soon, and driving shortly after that. Should have some of the kinks worked out just in time for the weather to start cooling down!
I'm back! Sorry for the long lapse in communication. Work got crazy and I am now in the process of purchasing a home (with a garage finally!) Here is a super short recap of what I have done recently, I will hopefully get you some photos in the near future!

- I scrapped all the brake lines and the master cylinder, and installed a power/dual circuit one with new lines. Shoes and wheel cylinders appeared to be new aligning with PO's description

- I installed a new dash pad, defrost vents, glovebox and various dashboard hardware

- I re-keyed the whole vehicle so everything matches to one key now

- Completed the final install of the fully refurbished tail light assembly

- Got all of the lights working (mostly) reliably, that was a fun one...

- Adjusted the kickdown linkage and got the preliminary shakedowns taken care of

- Got out to the DMV and officially got her registered and insured

- Sent out the gauge cluster, tach sender, power pack, head unit, and headlight motors for a full service/rebuild up at Todd's Restorations

- Started the process of refurbishing the grill and polishing the miles of body trim

If you guys are interested in more info or specific pictures about any of the above, let me know!