1969 Firebird Convertible - Page 2 - Team Camaro Tech
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post #16 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 12, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thanks for the comments. I forgot to post a photo showing the gap in the patch panel. Brian at Screaming Performance had the the same but different problem with the patch panel. The difference was he had to stretch the gap. I had to shrink it. I wish I could weld like him.
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post #17 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 12, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I would like to thank my neighbor, Greg, who helps me with this project. Greg gets a little excited over this project. My wife laid down the law that we could not work on the car during the weekdays. Therefore, he shows up at the house at about 7:00 am on the weekends. During the weekdays, we stare at the car and plan what we are going to do next. We might drink a few cold pops with foam on top during our discussions. Our wives tell us we sound like a couple of 15 year olds talking about how cool the car will be when we are finished.
Cowl Panel repair:
Our next part to repair of the car is the cowl panel. It is in bad shape. I told Greg the a new part would cost $400.00 and I would no longer have the VIN serial number stamped on the panel. He looked at it and said that we should to repair it. I thought about it a while and decided he had a good idea. If we mess it up, I could always buy a new one and tear out the mistake.









The first thing was to cut the upper dash from the cowl panel. The rust holes were deeper than the upper dash panel. The cowl was rusted down to the thick metal frame.



The cowl panel was cut so that all the rust was cut out and only the lower thick metal frame was exposed. There were a lot of spot welds in this area. This area was sand blasted. Sand blasting did not really clean the area. There must be some seam sealer in this location.




A patch panel was made out of 18 gauge steel. On side was beveled so that it would slip under the cowl panel and sit flush where they meet.




The lower part of the cowl panel was so rusted it crumbled if it was touched. I bent and welded two patch panels together. I had to stretch the panel where the windshield wiper motor is located. It has a small bowl shaped indention. It is beveled on three sides. It is temporally screwed to the original metal.




I applied Eastwood’s Rust Converter to the upper area that was sandblasted. I hope that it will convert any rust that was not removed by sand blasting.



That's it for this week.
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post #18 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 12, 11:18 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thanks for sharing. I may follow your lead and repair my cowl. I'm wondering if it would be useful to buy a new one and cut it up. Or, would the new one be too different to be helpful.

Zeke
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post #19 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 12, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Zekeymonkey,
There is a new cowl patch panel that is available. I have never seen one. It looks like it is the upper part of the panel. I cannot tell if it bends down and the windshield washer mounting metal is part of the patch panel.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Upper-Inner-...3e6e38&vxp=mtr
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post #20 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 12, 03:44 PM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Replace the whole inner/upper cowl as one unit. You'll be glad you did. Since your outer cowl boxes are already removed, it's a sinch to remove the cowl as one piece now.

To install the new one is approximately 14 plug welds. 7 along each side seam where it meets the upper door hinge pillar ends.

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post #21 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 12, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Todd, thanks for the advice. I know that you learned from the school of hard knocks about rusty cowl panels. Like I said before, I have right clicked on several of your photos to save them. Several were of the cowl panel.

I talked it over with my neighbor who helps me. He is still insistant the we continue to repair the panel. He argued that the sheetmetal for the repair is cheap (actually free). And I keep thinking that if I completely mess up the panel, I can cut the cowl panel out and buy a new one. At least this is not a life or death decision.

I decided to contine to repair the panel. It would be good experience and I have lots of time. There is never a point of no return. I can always cut it out if it looks like a Frankenstien repair.

The first thing was to cut out the windshield wiper area rust. I learned on this forum that the wiper motor can be relocated to the driver outer shoulder panel. The fender hides the motor. I might try this.



This gave me access to weld the botttom patch.








The next step was finish removing the upper dash where the VIN number is located. Measure and mark and photograph it's location. Then drill out the spot welds.



Now I sand blasted the front again. It was easy to clean the rust from the inside of the dash with the upper dash panel removed. I used to sand paper to remove the rust from the under side of the cowl panel.







You might notice in the above photos that the jig's cowl bracing was modified. The top horizonal tube was changed so that it can be removed with two bolts. The driver's vertical support had an upper and lower square flange welded to it so that it can be removed with four bolts. With these modifications, I do not need to remove the entire assembly just to work on the cowl. The assembly still supports the passenger side cowl assembly.

Weld the upper patch panel. Plug welds at the top, very small stitch welds at the bottom.



I had to use the hammer and doly to form the bottom patch to the panel.
I smoothed the bottom patch with Evercoat fiberglass filler. It supposed to be water resistant.




Prime the cowl, inside dash and windshield. With the big hole in the cowl is was possible to spray the area inside the cowl panel. The top patch panel will be completly covered by the upper dash panel.




The hard part will be to cover the wiper hole. This is the part I am worried about.
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post #22 of 658 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 12, 10:44 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

You did an awesome job on that cowl I must say. Nice work! The experience here will certainly be an asset to getting the rest of the resto done. Keep it up!

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post #23 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 12, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thanks Todd. It was frustrating at times.

Upper Dashboard Panel:
We replaced the dashboard panel this weekend. The 69 firebird panel is the same as a 1968 camaro. The 69 camaro panel is different. If anyone needs a 69 camaro panel, I have one that I cannot use.
Overall, the 68 panel is similar to the original. The dynacorn replacement panel VIN mounting hole is not exactly parallel with the vinyl dash pad. The original panel has square holes punched into it at the front section. The replacement has none. The vinyl pad covers the square holes. Most importantly, the dashboard panel could not be welded in exactly the same location as the original.
I punched two rows of holes in the window section of panel. I removed the paint in this area on the cowl panel.



I punched a row of holes in the front section of the panel. I lined up the replacement panel to the same locations as the original. I tack welded a few spots on the panel. I installed the vinyl dash pad. It did not fit! The replacement dashboard panel was too high on the passenger side. I rechecked the measurements, reviewed the photos of the original dashboard everything seemed to be ok. I broke the welds on the front section of the panel. Now the panel was only tack welded on the windshield side. I reinstalled the vinyl dash pad. The tightened all the cap screws and inserted the vinyl pad into its square holes along the sides of the dashboard. I then crawled under the dash, pushed up on the replacement panel, and marked the locations with a Sharpie. I removed the vinyl pad and used some bolts and nuts to line up the Sharpie marks and locate the front of the replacement panel. The passenger side was definitely lower than the original.
I would have never been able to install the vinyl pad if I welded the panel in the exact location as the original.
The next photos show the plug welds ground down and the final location of the replacement panel.




The next photos show the windshield plug welds grounded down.





Cowl Panel:
I made a patch panel to cover the huge hole in the front of the cowl panel. It is beveled on two sides The bottom part of the panel meets the inside of the panel at 90 degrees. It does not fold up like the original.



I installed the replacement firewall just to see how it looked. It is easy to see the jig modifications to the cowl panel brackets as mentioned earlier. Removing the driver side cowl jig brackets allowed the firewall to be slipped into position.


I removed the firewall and finished welding the panel in the cowl panel. The bottom of the cowl panel where the two patch panels meet was welded upside down. The welds were ground down and rewelded to get rid of the pin holes. I sanded down the primer to get rid of some imperfections that I found in the cowl.



This photo show the inside of the cowl panel where the patch panel is located.



Photo looking up under the dash where the cowl panel was patched. The rusty piece is the brake pedal bracket.


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post #24 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 12, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Firewall:
Most of the body parts for a Firebird will fit a Camaro. The procedures to install the parts should be about the same. I hope this thread will also help Camaro owners. I wonder if anyone is reading this thread since it is about a Firebird and it has so few replies.
Most of the body part’s labels only show it to be a Camaro part. One has to be careful to order the correct parts for the red headed stepchild Firebird. Bel Air Bobs does not advertise that he sells Firebird parts but he was happy to help me.


The two vertical members of the jig align the firewall’s sub frame holes. The jig’s bolt heads are cut off and are threaded onto welded nuts inside the jig’s vertical members. The ½” bolt sticks up out of the jig and goes through the 3/4” cage nut. I messed up the threads on the bolt when I dropped the body on jig. It is difficult to thread a nut on top of the cage nut assembly in such a tight area. If I ever use this jig again, I need to modify this part of the jig.



This is one of the extra horizontal beams welded to the jig. They were originally intended to hold the rocker in place and provide a pivot point so that one man can install the rocker. They also give another reference point for the firewall alignment.



Install the brake pedal to help align the panel at the top. This is a very important step. The top of the firewall panel moved away from the cowl panel by ¼”. I missed that the firewall was slightly bowed during shipment. The brake pedal made it obvious.


I installed the rocker panel for the last time. There was a large gap between it and the firewall. I had to use several screws to pull the two pieces together. They did not want to go together because the two panels were rigidly held in place by the jig. It took a half a day and several broken bolts to pull the firewall and rocker together. The bolt holes had to be slotted because I had to move the metal in two directions.



The top of the firewall was punched with 5/16” holes and plug welded.



The triangle part of the rocker was plug welded to the firewall.

The A pillar patch was welded to the rocker.


This is an inside view of welded portions of rocker and firewall. The welds look terrible in this photo. I had to redrill and regrind the welds down and then weld again until they looked acceptable. This was a difficult area to weld. There are a stitch welds on the rocker triangle to firewall. The A pillar square hole was plug welded around the perimeter.


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post #25 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 12, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Rocker alignment measurements:
The following measurements need to be correct before welding the rocker panel:
The first one is the bottom of the rocker flange to the other rocker flange should be 47 inches. The entire length, front to back, should be 47 inches.


The A pillar’s front flange to the rocker panel should be about 4 inches. The word “about” is an important word in the sentence.



The front of the quarter panel wheel well should line up rear of the rocker. The door bottom should be parallel with the rocker. The door and quarter panel were temporarily installed to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.


If the bottom horizontal beam of my jig was level, the rocker was level. The rocker should run parallel with a level surface. A bubble level is all you need for this measurement. I am not completely sure if this is correct measurement.
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post #26 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 12, 01:52 PM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Don't worry. Some of us are reading the thread. And please keep posting. Of course, I'm a bit of Firebird guy. I've got my 67 Firebird thread on the forum. Of course, I've stalled out on it due to other things around the house, work and grad school. And, since I'm moving so quick on the 67 I just purchased a 68 Firebird to rebuild too.

Zeke
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post #27 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 12, 06:53 PM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I've been reading also. Great pics. I guess I am slightly ahead of you with my 68 convertible, so I am very interested in the work you are doing. I had the same problem with my driver's side rocker not "reaching" the firewall. The passenger side seemed to fit fine. Also, I have one question. Did you weld the bottom flange of the firewall to the rocker? (The part that the floor sits in.) I've been staring at the picture and it almost looks like it was welded. I just wanted to save you from a headache in case you accidentally welded it. I apologize if I'm seeing it wrong.



Great thread. Thanks for posting. It seems like you're having fun!

Tim

My 1968 convertible build:


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post #28 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 12, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Tim,
I did weld the area where you are questioning. I did not think about the floor. I thought I was finished welding and rewelding and grinding and regrinding in this area.

I guess I will have to crawl back into my little hole between the firewall and floor with some sort of cutting tool.

Thanks. I appreciate your help.


Mr. ZekeMonkey,
Work, grad school, now two cars???? You got a lot of irons in the fire!

My neighbor just finished law school and he worked at the same time. His wife and kids never had much interaction with him for two years.
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post #29 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 12, 08:44 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I have been following along!.... self proclaimed Camaro guy and closet Firebird guy. Guess I better come out of the closet soon since I only have my 68 firebird anymore...Someday I will land another Camaro in the shop. I keep waiting for the right one at the right price and they never seem to coincide.


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post #30 of 658 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 12, 09:18 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by tp_smith View Post
Mr. Tim,
Mr. ZekeMonkey,
Work, grad school, now two cars???? You got a lot of irons in the fire!

My neighbor just finished law school and he worked at the same time. His wife and kids never had much interaction with him for two years.
Not to mention the two kids and the wife. I don't get to spend the time I would like to with them when school is in session. But, they still have to come first and sleep and cars have to come last. Luckily, I may be done with school next summer.

Zeke
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