With a little help from my friends

Discussion in 'Project Progress' started by realrsz, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. realrsz

    realrsz Member

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    I decided to re-do my entire blog because I inadvertently deleted my photos in Photobucket (forever losing the link) and wishing to avoid the hassle and time of reloading and re-sizing, I decided to start over but with some creative editing in the process. So here goes;

    In July of 2011 I bought a 1973 RS Z28. At that time, it looked like a real Rally Sport (hence my moniker) but upon further research using this site, over time I came to realize that it probably wasn’t born a Rally Sport. It is, however a real Z28 and I can live with that (I did verify that before I purchased it). So anyway, I paid $3,800 for it and towed it home. The original engine was in it but it needed an awful lot of work. More about that later. The car is mostly original and about 90% rust free. For a Michigan car, I was very surprised to see how well it looked. The guy I bought it from said he was the second owner, bought it in 1974 and kept it garaged in the winter. After seeing how well it looked, I had no reason to doubt him.

    [​IMG]Bringing it home

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    Before I go too far, let me give you some insight on my crew helping me. I’m fortunate to live in a neighborhood full of fellow gear-heads. We’ve been neighbors for years and better – yet, good friends. Anyway, besides me, there’s Gordy, Al, Ken, Tom and Jim and every Saturday is “Car-Day” in the neighborhood. We work on someone’s car and they supply coffee and donuts in the morning and lunch in the afternoon. The wives know Saturday is our day and they’re all supportive of this hobby (usually going out of their way to make lunch and clean up our messes). This is a great group of guys and their knowledge about cars is priceless. I honestly wouldn’t have attempted this rebuild without them. When I bought the Camaro we were finishing up Ken’s ’73 Vette and were knee-deep in Gordy’s ’66 Chevelle SS so I knew their cars had honors.

    So - back to my project. My goal on the Camaro was always to get it back to stock – the way it looked when it left the showroom. The original engine helped with that decision but also because my first new car was a 1973 Camaro RS that I bought right out of high school. And fate being what it is, that car was Dark Red with a black interior. This Z28 originally had the same color scheme – before the previous owner painted it.

    So here’s the work done since I brought it home. Mind you, we didn’t get much work done initially but as time went on, we finished our other projects and now my Camaro is on the front burner so things will progress more rapidly now.

    First; Al suggested we replace the Brake and Fuel lines. As I removed them I cleaned the undercarriage. Well, you know how that goes; one thing leads to another and before I realized it, we had it all stripped down. Me and Gordy pulled the engine and stored it in my shed. The cylinder bores were all rusty and locked up. I could see that it had one rebuild already. Would it take another?

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    Me (in red) and Gordy.


    After stripping the interior, we noticed a small rust hole in the floor pan, near the left kick panel and another two in the rear seat area. Al welded in a patch in three places and I painted the floor afterwards. It was around this time we also cut out the trunk pan.

    [​IMG]Al, on the welder.

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    I removed the entire front suspension, replaced Ball Joints, Control Arm Bushings, painted the Control Arms, Springs and Spindles. We put on new Rotors, Calipers, Front Stabilizer and Tie Rod Ends and Shocks. I sent my Booster out to Mike at Brakeboosters.com for a rebuild and refinish and was quite pleased with the outcome.

    [​IMG]Before


    [​IMG]After

    We also removed the Rear Axle and had the Leaf Springs rebuilt. The gears inside the Diff looked brand new.

    In the summer of 2015, after rebuilding the Door Hinges, we went to work on the back end. I wanted to replace the Quarters, the Outer Wheel Houses, the Trunk Extensions, Outer Tail Panel and the Trunk floor. Rather than removing all the old metal at once, Al wanted to do one side at a time, using the original tail panel as our reference point. As I said earlier, he’s done this a number of times in the past so I trusted his judgement. We started on right side, which went relatively smooth- not too many surprises. I was able to drill out every spot weld (and there must’ve been a hundred) with the same bit. After I got the right side apart, we test fit the quarter panel a few times then Al welded it in place, along with the trunk drop off and outer wheel house. I followed up by grinding the welds.

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    Al's the welder in the group

    The left side was another story. I went thru about eight bits and still had trouble. It was as if this side was possessed. After finally removing the old panel, we couldn’t get the new one to fit correctly.

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    We struggled for three full days, test fitting that panel before we felt confident enough to weld it in place. After that, it was the Trunk Panel, then the Tail Panel. We had a helluva time fitting that. I bought the original Panel from Goodmark. With each test fit, it seemed to fit differently. We spent two full Saturdays putting it on – taking it off and just couldn’t get satisfaction so I ordered one from AMD. This one fit a little better but we still had some cobbling to do. Now this is where I relied on Gordy and Al. I’m reluctant to bend, shape and heat new metal to achieve a desired outcome but these guys have done this before, so with my trust placed squarely on them, I went for it. With a little cutting, a little grinding and some friendly persuasion from a bottle jack, Porta-Power and two come-alongs, we got that Tail Panel looking better than new.



    [​IMG]Left side welds

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    After that I noticed my car sat a little too high so I had my Leaf Springs de-arched (twice) to achieve a decent height. Now here’s something to consider; these are the original Springs and when I had them rebuilt (by a very reputable shop in the Detroit area), they told me it was to the original specs. After doing some research on this site I had them de-arched about 4.5 inches. Made a big difference in the appearance.

    [​IMG]Before

    [​IMG]After the (2nd) de-arch.

    During the cold winter months of Michigan, without a heated garage to work in, we focused our attention on recovering the seats. Hey, we can do that in my kitchen, right? So, armed with new vinyl from PUI (bought thru Summitt), a bag of hog-rings and some other tools, we dug into the seats on two different Saturdays. I was very pleased with the outcome.

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    Next, in spring of 2016 it was time to strip the sheet metal and get it ready to prime. The two front fenders were in decent shape. No rust and no bondo. The right door was in good shape, but the left door had too much bondo on it and a little too much rust so we decided to re-skin that door.

    After that, we cleaned the panels, acid-washed them and then primed them. We were hoping to get the rear of the car also under primer but time ran out.

    [​IMG]Al on the DA sander – Tom supervising.

    The right fender needed a little repair.

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    …as did the Core Support.

    [​IMG]Al on the welder.

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    The left fender after the acid wash.

    [​IMG]Deck Lid after the acid wash

    Even though I had a compressor, the boys felt I needed a better (quieter) one, some heavy-duty filters and an exhaust fan so another $600 for the compressor, $280 for the filters and two hundred for the fan and we’re ready to prime.

    [​IMG]They made me install the new compressor in my basement. Keeps it running a little cooler and we don’t hear it in the garage (although this is much quieter than my previous Craftsman)

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    [​IMG]As well as his other talents, Al's a body man and painter. Here he is priming the front fascia, fenders, core support and lower valance.

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    The others are pretty good with a gun too but I'm a novice so after a quick lesson on the gun, I broke my cherry priming my doors.

    [​IMG]Me (in white) and Gordy

    We had two fixtures for the doors, left over from painting Ken’s Vette.

    [​IMG]These worked great.

    In the fall Al and I leaded the quarters where they meet the roof then added something to any bare metal to prevent rust and put the project on hold for the winter.

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    [​IMG]So I learned how to apply lead too.

    We weren’t very pleased with the looks of the Deck Lid to the rear quarters to the Spoiler so we did a little “cut-n-paste”

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    [​IMG]Like I said earlier, this kind of stuff makes me nervous as hell.

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    [​IMG]Al - the consummate welder.



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    After my grind job.

    With the deck lid and spoiler in place – for a test fit – the lines and the gaps look much better. I’d say better than original.

    Now back to my engine. In the fall of 2016 we took my engine to a machine shop in my area, known for doing top-notch engine machining. After inspecting the block he said the only thing he could do was to sleeve the cylinder bores. At $150 per cylinder plus assorted machining costs, the block would cost me about $2400. That’s just for the block – didn’t include machining the heads or the crankshaft (if it needed it). As much as I wanted to have that engine in the car, cost wise, it just didn’t make sense. With crate engines being as cheap as they are, I decided to go that route. But first I want to get some primer on the rest of the body and get this thing in color by fall of 2017.

    More to follow as work continues in the Spring of '17 - getting some color on that bad boy!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  2. 80sz

    80sz Veteran Member

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    Nice thread
     
  3. brooksman9

    brooksman9 Veteran Member

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    Cool story. Great neighborhood!
     
  4. RS1979

    RS1979 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Great group of friends you have in your neighborhood. Good looking work too.
     
  5. Da-bigguy

    Da-bigguy Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Agreed, awesome story and some great neighbours there, want to send them to Houston for me?
     
  6. Canadian Barton

    Canadian Barton Veteran Member

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    Any houses for sale in your neighborhood? I have a 78 that needs attention...lol. Looks great and sure must be nice to have that kind of help.
     
  7. CorkyE

    CorkyE Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Lotta work going on there. :)
     
  8. Zspoiler

    Zspoiler Veteran Member

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    Ah how "retro"I m not really surprised on the condition of the car. Being a Fisher body and the area, its in,.And being a Camaro you now its has been "abused".Its just the nature of the beast.But with all the friends in the neighborhood You shold have no issue you can`t handle ,So have you decided what crate engine you are going for. And what you the wife and your pocket book will permit..Good luck to you..
     
  9. FatnLow

    FatnLow Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Looks like a great neighborhood!! Z is coming together nicely.
     
  10. realrsz

    realrsz Member

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    Thanks for the kind words. I have to admit, there's been a few times in the past that I thought I'd want a newer, larger house but I really don't want to leave these guys and my wife loves the neighborhood. Anyway, we're in the process of priming the Camaro now and I'm running into a few issues - nothing major. And I'm sure everyone on this site can relate to that - nothing worth doing well comes easy. I'll keep you all posted; my goal this year is get it primed, block sanded and get the color on by the end of August. Next spring it'll be the engine and (hopefully) putting it all back together.
     

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