My 81 - The Green Dream

RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
These showed up today, finally. I ordered from Ground Up and after almost 3 months cancelled the order. Ordered from Jolt Parts and they showed up in 12 days. It is cold here for the next few days, but Wednesday should be in the 70's, that's when I will install them. I think I am going to have to grind down some of the urethane around the headlights since the aftermarket nose has much thicker tabs around the headlights than the original. I tried installing my original crusty bezels just to see and they would not go in far enough.
Nothing is easy on my car, but it is on the road this year for the first time since I brought the car home in 2004, yeah it only took me 18 years!
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RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
When I ordered new springs for my car, probably 14 years ago, this is what I ordered, Moog CS580 supposedly for an 81 coupe with AC. I was concerned when I compared them to my original springs, definitely different. 
PXL_20221009_213124321[1].jpg

And after I put them on, Houston, we have a problem, CS580 is correct for my car, not! Lesson learned dont trust the Moog spring chart. I now have Moog 6450's installed and have 15 inches from wheel center to the fender arch.

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When I removed the intake manifold and removed the oil splash shield, I found this. It took me a long time to clean this all up before re-installing the shield. This picture was taken about 15 years ago. The engine had about 118K miles on it when I bought it. Seller claimed to have put new rings on her and had the heads done by NAPA less then 1000 miles ago. After removing the heads and looking things over I believed him. Heads were very clean.
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Just some pics from my 18-year journey with the car.
 
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RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Been driving the car and have put almost 90 miles on her. But the steering sucks, first of all the steering wheel is not centered very well when I am going straight plus there is way too much slop in the steering wheel. When going straight there is no tire movement between 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock so I am constantly fighting to keep the car straight. Also, the car does not return to center very well after making a turn, in other words, it does not re-center itself as good as it should.
So, I started looking around after reading an excellent paper by Jim Shea on centering the wheels on our cars. You can find the paper, and others here --> Jim Shea Steering Info.

First thing I found was my steering wheel was not installed correctly I did not have it lined up with the mark on the steering shaft and the steering wheel. Notice the marks are not lined up

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So I pulled the wheel and got it centered like this
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After that I started looking at the steering components, since I installed all new front-end components, I really didn't find anything loose. But I did notice that when I tried to turn the steering shaft that connects to the power steering gear I could turn it quite a bit, the steering gear turned but the wheels didn't. I think that is where most of the slop is, in the steering gear. So I removed the steering gear and ordered a new one from RedHead Steering gears. My current box is an Autozone rebuilt special by Lars. I am hoping the new one will be better.

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Finally, unbelievably, I never tightened the upper control arm shafts on both sides of the car, I have been driving around with them loose. I don't believe I lost any alignment shims.
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So now I am waiting for my new steering gear, it should be here next week. Once I get everything back together I will report back and let you guys know if things improved at all.
 
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RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Got a package today
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Well packaged in 2 boxes
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Came with a return label for the core return, instructions and new O-rings
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Here she is I hope it tightens up my steering
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I guess I never answered the question, yes I now have a very tight steering wheel, there is virtually no slop in the steering wheel now. I have a lot more confidence in the car now. Driving back roads at 45-50 mph is much better. But I feel like the rear is not stable, probably need a sway bar in the back.
 
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RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Thinking my car has a bit of sway in the rear I have decided to see if a rear sway bar will help. My 81 coupe did not come with a rear sway bar and now that I have upgraded from 14 inch to 15 inch wheels and P225 tires I want to see if a rear sway bar will help.
First, a big shout out to member Suds788 for donating a sway bar and drop links from a 72 Camaro.
After cleaning/scrubbing down everything I applied a coat of Rustoleum to the sway bar, end links and frame rail brackets. I also got new grade 8 hardware and a rear sway bar bushing kit for the 9/16 inch bar. Here is everything I think I need.
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I also needed to source the brackets that attach to the frame rails along with the correct self tapping bolts. My car had the holes drilled for the brackets but they were not tapped. I purchased a set of brackets and bolts from Camaro Parts World. After cleaning the bolts and adding a drop of oil to each bolt I had to screw them into the frame rails. It wasn't too bad I took my time and they eventually went in. Here is what the self tapping bolt looks like
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Here is one of them installed
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After all 4 bolts were done I installed the frame rail brackets. The assembly manual says to install them with the "F" toward the front of the car. Here you can see the "F"
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And here is one side installed the other side goes on the same way with the "F" toward the front of the car
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Next is to figure out how to install the new bushing in the drop link, here is the challenge
PXL_20221209_174413047[1].jpg

First, dont forget to lube the bushing with the grease supplied in the kit
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Problem solved with a homemade bushing installer, a long bolt, washers, sockets and a nut will work, something like this.
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End result is a new bushing.
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Enough for today, my 66-year-old ass is worn out. Next is to figure out how to get the new bushings that attach to the other end of the drop link on the sway bar. Once I figure that ou,t I can continue with the rest of the install.
 
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need-for-speed

Veteran Member
Feb 7, 2003
1,309
Conroe, TX
Great post. Years ago, I installed a rear sway bar (from a Firebird donor car) on my plain Jane ‘79 Camaro. Like yours, it was nice that the holes were already there. I reused all of the old bushings. I will have to check out new replacement bushings based on your provided info.
 

RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Exactly 4 years ago today, my car looked like this. For all you guys who have their cars in pieces like this, you can reach the finish line, if I can do it so can you.
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need-for-speed

Veteran Member
Feb 7, 2003
1,309
Conroe, TX
Did you ever figure our which front coil springs to get? If not, I can try to dig through my papers. Pretty sure mine are Moog too. I went off of someone else's recc p/n and they came out pretty good.
 

RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Did you ever figure our which front coil springs to get? If not, I can try to dig through my papers. Pretty sure mine are Moog too. I went off of someone else's recc p/n and they came out pretty good.
Yes, Moog 6450 gave me a good stance. Currently 15 inches from center of the wheel to the bottom of the fender lip. They did settle about 1/4 inch after driving the car about 100 miles.
 

RickM

Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
888
Gaithersburg, MD
Back on the rear sway bar today since it is sunny here and about 39 degrees.
First thing I had to do is to get the bushings on the sway bar. The bushings have a slit cut into them so that you can open them up and get them onto the bar. There was no way I could do that just using my hands, so I found the biggest screwdriver I could find and used it to open up the bushings. First thing I did was lube up the bushings with the grease that came with the kit.
PXL_20221211_180821906.jpg

Then use the big screwdriver to open up the bushing. Once you get it open like this you can just get it started on the bar and pop it on.
PXL_20221211_181359443.jpg

Bushing installed.
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Next is to lube up the metal sleeves that go into the drop link bushing and push them into place
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Next is to go outside into the cold and install the drop links using new grade 8 hardware
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Next lube the heck out of the bushings that attach to the ends of the bar once that is done the bar is ready to mount.
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First jack up the car after choking the front wheels
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Then after removing the shock plate nuts hang the sway bar
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Then loosely attach the end links
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I then put the car on the ground and tightened everything up. Here is an end link tightened
PXL_20221219_201507341.jpg


And the whole thing is done. I still need to torgue down the shock plate nuts but after that she is done. I will do a test drive in the next couple of days and update this post on if I feel a difference. If anything doesn't look right please let me know.

I'm cold after this think I will have a drink probably one of these
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