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Great read, takes me back to the Mopar Mag articles of the early 90's, when I had my first B body (69 Charger SE). Always enjoyed those early tech articles that leaned more on reusing and/or taking parts from 1 vehicle to make improvements on another. Best example I can think of was taking larger disc brake parts from a C body (Cop Car) and installing them on my B body Charger....good times for sure.
Realizing the path I was on, wanting to continue enjoying the car but stay within safety rules and preserve the car, Todd and I took on the task of fabricating and installing subframe connectors, and while we were at it...it was definitely overdue for a roll bar.
I didn't feel great about doing 120+ mph in the quarter mile on fuzzy 1969 seatbelts, so upgrading to a real 3" race harness was something I actually looked forward to (other than the 2 year expiration nonsense).
The roll bar started as a kit from Jegs, to which I added curved rear bars in case I decided to install the back seat at some time later. The floor needed work anyway so I had no problem cutting it out of the car, weldeing in outriggers from the frame rail to the rocker sill, and placed the bars on the outriggers.
This all happened before the major mishap with the C body and it's repair.
Todd did the structural work, I did most of the floor. To be more honest, I did the uglier spots in the floor...he did the
nicer looking ones.
One unusual thing, the main hoop laid back to visually match the angle of the trim strip in the glass....this was one of my better ideas. Not only does it somewhat conceal the main hoop visually from the side but it also more closely matches the angle of the seat back.
The fire extinguisher is really a street item/where the vast majority of time is spent.
It is removed when running at the track (as I don't want to risk it getting loose in there).
It wasn't long after the C body repair I finally acquired my own welding rig and started down the road of repair and fabrication
on my own. One of my first projects was a new exhaust for the GTX.
Got to a certain point and, I'm not entirely sure if something snapped or exactly what happened, but in the end decided to chase the dream a little harder. In '19 started a 572 Street Hemi build, completed in '20. Fired up on 4/26/20 (Hemi day). My personal definition of "build" means I did all was able to/everything except balancing and machine work (which I'd also love to do if I had the equipment, training, and experience which I don't).
The 572 probably deserves it's own thread but I don't know if the interest is there. The cost of a few items discourages so many from even investigating what it takes to do one that they give up. I know I did too for many years.
Interestingly or maybe super boringly, I'd also titled the car on 4/26/89.
31 years earlier. I don't remember doing it intentionally on that day, but maybe I was making a note to myself of a dream that may or may not have been fulfilled later.
I'll beg forgiveness in advance, for (more than likely) re-posting these pics on a future April 26th.
Before I embarked on the 572 project, I took this mockup picture and referred to it repeatedly. Assuring myself as a Wedge guy my whole life (LOL) this is what I really wanted as a next step, knowing I was opening a huge can of worms. When I finally decided I was going to chase it, a few friends got a text message with this picture.
Like the whole car, every piece on the engine has a story. The heads on the mockup were repairable, but to some people trash: Both had dropped valve seats, mangled chambers and so on. The block was a barely (less than an hour) used 4.50 bore piece from 2008, an MP customer called me and wanted to get rid of. Water pump and housing are like new items from ebay. The reproduction intake-I was working at MP when Jon Clark kicked off the reproduction intake with Edelbrock, he told me the price it was selling for (MSRP: $250: Even if I never use it, I'll hang it on the wall for that price) and I ordered one the day I noticed them in PDC inventory. The reproduction valve covers, only $90 shipped on ebay...they had two tiny scratches in the wrinkle finish and were considered blems, and touched up perfectly with VHT rattle can. There's more but you get the idea. I'd been collecting deals for years, and still am but to a much lesser degree.
I twisted my own arm with this picture.
It didn't take much self-convincing to get after it.
Couple weeks after the big fire up on 4-26-20, my employer of that time announced that they were going to continue remote work for me for awhile to come. How much more motor trend on demand, you tube and netflix could I binge watch? Decided I should use the extra time and money available wisely and needed to keep moving on the car.
Planning a motor plate installation, wanting it to look good and knowing there was a small weak spot on the right front frame rail that needed to be repaired + the original right apron looking like swiss cheese, I started out telling myself "I'll just clean up the front end sheetmetal, make sure the rail is good and strong for the motor plate install, and I'll start getting it ready for engine compartment paint + engine swap. Surely I'll get half done with that and then they will call us back to work in the office".
I'd traded Dean for three other fenders years prior. One had a failed/amateur dent repair to the front and needed considerable finesse applied. Another was really clean, but was the wrong model year (68). The third one was in rough shape but was the correct year....it was used as a "parts fender" for the ashtray, side marker hole, and grille bracket to convert the one 68 fender to 69. Doing that was educational.
After I roughed these replacement fenders in, I stripped the fenders that came off the car and found them paper thin. I stripped them, repaired the rust on them just for the practice, shot a couple coats of epoxy on them and sold them locally dirt cheap to a nice young man.
I have detailed pics of the '68 to '69 Fender conversion on my Fakebook to help out anyone contemplating such a thing. Maybe it'd make more sense to just buy new reproduction stuff, fix them and be done with it, but I intended to use these parts for at least 20 years, so might as well make it happen.
Got a "new" ( to me) spray gun, started working with that with mixed feelings.
Repaired several dents in the grille support, strippped and epoxy.
The hood was done previously in the separate thread....I am not 100% sure I will use it as it was intended as a "learning" piece at the time.
Also bought a couple quarts of inexpensive single stage, solid paint, mostly to experiment with the spray gun but also for the vehicle underbody for practice. I started considering color selection and had fun vacillating between a handful of favorites on Fakebook. It was pretty surprising how emotional some people would get about the color.
In the end I got an inexpensive, no name spray gun off Amazon, which had a lot lower air consumption and ended up being better for my purposes. Later on I got an LPH400 for exterior clear, love that one/it makes me look better than I am, but the Amazon gun is a workhorse for most anything I throw at it. I should probably sell the DeVilbiss, it just sits there.
Nothing fancy going on, just a clean up. Stripped, minor issues repaired, few coats of black epoxy, black Summit single stage topcoat. Try to use 2-part urethane and/or epoxy products wherever I reasonably can.
The car originally came with the small rectangular fender turn signal indicators (the indicators themselves were missing when I got it, but it had holes in the fenders in those locations).
I never liked the rectangular indicators much so I took the liberty of adding the bullet style indicators which look way better to me, and I used this site to find the location/dimensions of the mounting holes.
I got to a certain point.....Right about here....
And then my employer announced remote work would continue for a year, then they would re-evaluate. Mind:Blown
On one hand, borderline depression:
The gym (where I'd gone 5 days a week since 2013) Shut down entirely.
My band, that had booked the most incredible and super busy festival season in many years, lost every single gig the remainder of the year.
February 2020 I'd lost one of my best friends to a heart attack.
Several acquaintances passed after catching CV19. Several also caught it and lived but it gave most folks quite a scare/couple ended up hospitalized.
Immediate family members had major health crisis as well, not related to the C word.
Things were kind of bleak.
On the other hand I had extra time because the nightmare commute was gone, still had regular paycheck coming in + have extra because fuel expenses were reduced to practically nothing.
Needed to keep going and do the logical next step: replace more bad metal on the car like I always wanted.
Decided to ease the financial side of it a little by selling off a portion of the parts hoard.
Offloaded alot of things and spend every cent + more of the proceeds on sheet metal.
Pretty soon, the big brown AMD boxes started showing up, and they kept coming for a long time.
Even back then, Mopar metal was often on backorder, so I got what I could when it was available. The first one I waited for it to show up on the website before ordering....next time I just backordered it and put myself in line for the next shipment.
I'd just started on the journey when AMD introduced the 3" wider inner wheelhouses.
From the start I intended to incorporate a mini tub into the job, so this product helped and came along at the perfect time.
The trunk floor itself was still fairly solid. I applied POR15 to it in the early '90s but the product failed and the metal rusted more underneath the coating. I blasted it clean, patched it and used epoxy and it had been fine for close to 20 years.
Unfortunately the rear crossmember needed replacement, and because of the way the trunk floor is attached to it, it was simpler to just replace the whole thing + would add quality and a nicer appearance to the job. After a little experimentation I found I was able to install the one piece trunk floor without cutting out the two down bars. I surgically removed the 6" plates on the bottom, flexed the bars upward as far as they would go (maybe 1" before hitting the roof structure) and held them up with a ratchet strap.
Then, with 1 quarter and wheelhouse assembly removed, the trunk floor installed from the side. Of course mockups of the quarter and wheelhouse, repair of the all the metal behind the quarter and so on were included in the deal.
The object wasn't just to make it pretty, but to make sure the structure was going to last. Everything behind the quarters was repaired. I fabricated the replacement inner rocker on the right side from 16 gauge/thicker than OE. The left inner rocker only needed a small patch and was not as bad. Also you'll see the right outer rocker has a couple welds and is bare metal for no apparent reason.... that rocker patch is a donor item from a '66 or '67 Satellite my buddy parted out many years ago, that I had saved for this project for a long time. Truthfully outer rockers would not be super difficult to fabricate on a brake, but I don't have one....so this was the plan for many years before I was able to do the project. nothing like using original metal, to repair original metal.....when practical.
Mockup, trial fit, correction, noting what will need to be corrected later (plenty) and repair of everything behind the exterior parts takes alot of time to do correctly. I made it a little more difficult on myself by insisting everything behind the quarters be prepped and coated with black epoxy before installing the exterior metal.
You'll notice a notch cut out of the roof skin, I did that so I could access the structure underneath. Whoever at Lynch Rd who spot welded the right quarter on, went apeshit and put about 18 spot welds in one spot. Who knows, might have been someone being trained, maybe the machine was screwing up, or who knows what. That metal tore a hole when I pulled the quarter, so I had to cut that ugly area out and patch it.
I wanted enough safe clearance for a 31" + tall tire if desired but I wanted to maintain the wheel lip, so I incorporated a pie cut in the outer wheelhouse + quarter panel in the area where clearance is tight and where many drag cars are cut out.
There was a certain point I decided the wheel lip was very important to the look I want to achieve so I had to keep it. This limits me a slightly for tire section width, but not a whole hell of a lot, and the changes I made are barely noticeable from even a few feet away/looks close enough to stock for me.
The measurement taken is with a 29x11.50 Hoosier quick time pro tire, which specs at 29.3", so I should definitely have the desired clearance + a little extra.
I'm thinking around a 12 or 13x31 tire will be no problem, and am liking the idea of the 31x10.50W tire size since that meets the dimensions almost exactly.
For now I am keeping the stock width 1968 date coded Dana 60 gone through and installed about 20 years ago, but that could change in the future.
Bad pics because they're screenshots of videos. New weld tabs fabricated for the rails after the rear crossmember was removed, ends of frame rails repaired, everything cleaned up etc.
The rails have a surprising amount of "spring" in them when not attached to everything else, which when the attachment points are removed may cause some to panic and/or wish they had welded 1000 pieces to brace things so they can't move. Really no need for that. If you measure where everything goes before you cut it, everything just flexes/springs back into place. You clamp it or hold it with screws and weld it back together exactly the way it was.
I had the quarters held in mostly with screws and a couple tack welds, and started attempting to clean up the roof. I think I was using a nasty twisted wire wheel or 3m clean and strip disc, and the damn thing went right through the metal. I tried another spot, and it did the same thing.
There isn't much that imparts an "Oh $#!t, what the hell have I done?" emotion quite like cutting the roof off your car LOL.
But at the same time I knew I had to stay confident, keep working on it, and plan to fix any problems found along the way. And anything not familiar with repairing, learn how to do it then and there.
I wanted to keep the drip rails intact since there was nothing wrong with them.
I asked around and was told there was absolutely no way I could remove the roof skin without either cutting the drip rails off too, or individually drilling each spot weld in the roof skin. I didn't want to do either of those things so I cut the roof off around the edges like a tuna can, leaving a strip of metal attached to the spot welded areas. Then cut the strip, and used a grinder on spot welds on the strip to weaken the metal, and peeled the strip back a little at time while doing it. Grind several welds down, peel the metal back, repeat. Get the whole strip off, then grind back the remnants of the spot welded material.
It worked well since the roof was pitted so super thin I had no interest in saving it.
A little Rust bullet + mockup of roof skin.
(I prefer rust bullet over POR15).
Overall the mockup showed the amd roof skin fit amazingly well, the only problems were at the rear window opening flange. The quarter panels were also not quite correct in that area. I notice many people cut and weld the metal in that area to make the parts fit, which would work. To me it did not seem far enough off to require cutting so I used a piece of 3/16 steel and a big hammer to wail on the inside corner, and pound it down into the correct shape, on both the roof skin and the quarters, in the rear window opening area. Then held in place with sheetmetal screws until the time came to permanently attach came.