1969 Firebird Convertible - Page 3 - Team Camaro Tech
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post #31 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 12, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Location: Tomball TX, DeRidder LA
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Driver cowl shoulder panel:
There are many welds holding the cowl shoulder panel to the car. Where ever two pieces of metal meet, GM spot welded the panels. If more than one panel needs to be replaced, consider cutting out the panels as one big chunk. It is a lot easier than trying to remove each individual panel.



The shoulder panel’s inner and upper flange is wedged between the inner cowl panel and the dash panel. This is the most difficult area. There is little room for a drill with a spot weld bit. The car's three layers of metal are difficult to separate. I learned to be gentle in this area because there is no room for a hammer to form the original metal back into place. I had to take the new part out and use pliers to bend the old metal back into shape. Then reinsert the shoulder panel back into place to see where the metal needed to be moved next. This in and out process was repeated more times than I can remember. After the metal was close to being right, I used a punch to finish bending the metal.
There are two or three welds on the upper and lower door hinge brackets. The factory also welded the shoulder panel to the firewall, and on the rocker panel.
The panel is much easier to install than remove.
The dynacorn panel comes as a two-piece unit. The inner part is welded at the locations circled with the red marks. The inner unit and outer parts are welded at the locations denoted by the green circles.



The inner part slips between the firewall and cowl panel. Later I drilled holes in the grey firewall and cowl shoulder panel to weld this area. Notice the 0.25” bolt on the right side of the black panels. It can be used to help hold the two-piece unit together. The hole is much larger than 0.25 inches. The two panels will not fit if the hole is filled with a larger size bolt. Gm did not align the holes at the factory. I wasted an hour figuring this one out. Luckily, I fished the old panel out of the junk pile and my mistake became obvious.





You need lots of clamps to align the inner panel. Make sure both inner and outer panels fit before welding.





Drill some holes and spot weld the inner panel.





Inside view of shoulder panel:



I did not prepaint the panel because it looked like it would be easier to paint on the car. Very little of the inside panel overlaps other metal. I did not weld the outter piece of the panels together becasue I need to paint the inside.
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post #32 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 18th, 12, 02:10 PM
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George
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Patrick,

Great thread....even better pictures! Fixing my cowl, determining a course of action.
You have a lot more challenges happening in your drop top than I have in mine.
Look fwd to your progress

George Kettler
US ARMY Retired
o 70 Elky SOLD 9/2016
o 68 Vette 427, 4 spd ac owner 25 years
o 68 Camaro Rallye Green Vert 327/2004R/3.73
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post #33 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 19th, 12, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thanks. I still need to finish the front of the cowl panel. I plan to add a piece of sheetmetal above the firewall assembly to finish smoothing firewall.

I am planning to replace everything below the belt line.
I thought about buying a dynacorn body shell but the cost was prohibitive. I don't think that I would have been able to handle the shell without a forklift and a lift. I saved a lot of money by buying the parts individually and assembling them myself. So far, I do not regret the decision I made. Many a Pontiac purist might tell me that it is no longer a Pontiac because most of the sheetmetal is made in Taiwan. They might be right. But it is my car and I built it. Sorry, I don't mean to sound arrogant.

I made a list of the parts that I have ordered so far. Most of the parts came from Bel Air Bob. Some of them from Classic Industries. I got a good price on the parts because I made two great big orders to the respective companies.

Description:
Dynacorn
Part #

1. Firewall to floor brace (left)
1046L
2. Firewall to floor brace (right)
1046M
3. Firewall complete assy no heater
1046H
4. Dash panel with VIN hole
1068E

5. Complete trunk floor
1046C

6. Complete door assembly (left)
1076F
7. Complete door assembly (right)
1076E
8. Complete Floor pan
1046A
9. Convertible Rocker panel (left)
1067U
10. Convertible Rocker panel (right)
1067T
11. Radiator Support
1047L
12. Complete Quarter Panel (left)
1066M
13. Complete Quarter Panel (right)
1066L
14. Firebird Tail Panel
1067LA (holes
drilled for "Pontiac" letters)

15. Convertible header bow
1049K
16. Rear Bumper
1049E
17. Front Valance Panel
1047P
18. Front Inner Fender (left)
1039ZB
19. Front Inner Fender (right)
1039ZA
20. Outer Side Cowl Assy (left)
1073L
21. Outer Side Cowl Assy (right)
1073R
22. Battery tray with clip
75-10643
23. Rear Wheel house 15.25" (right)
1041FC
24. Rear Wheel house 15.25" (left)
1041GC
25. Frame Rail (left)
1068S
26. Frame Rail (right)
ebay
27. A pillar door jamb patches (left and right)
28. Trunk drop off (left)
29. Trunk drop off (right)
30. Trunk gutter 3 pieces
31. door handles assembly
32 door hinge rebuild kits
33. Floor pan convertible large brace
34. Two Floor pan convertible small braces
35. Two convertible seat frames
36. Floor pan plugs
Total price:
$4,781.00
Shipping charges:
$ 269.00
Total shipped
$5,050.00


A complete dynacorn body costs 12,496.00
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post #34 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 19th, 12, 03:47 PM
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George
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I buy from Biscay's south of Olympia, WA or Evergreen Musclecar in Auburn. Between the two, everything I need has been available for local purchase...except a cowl!

George Kettler
US ARMY Retired
o 70 Elky SOLD 9/2016
o 68 Vette 427, 4 spd ac owner 25 years
o 68 Camaro Rallye Green Vert 327/2004R/3.73
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post #35 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 12, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Cowl Panel Smoothing:
I ground down the plug welds on the newly installed panels and sand blasted them. I sanded the primer because after a week new paint will not stick to old paint. I spot painted the panels.



Now I need to finish smoothing the firewall. I decided to cut a piece of metal that was the same thickness as the firewall. The new metal will butt up against the upper part of the firewall and extend up to the top of the cowl panel.









Then I trimmed the upper part of the new sheet metal






I asked a question in the body shop section of the forum on how to fasten the metal to the cowl. John, Vintage 68, was very helpful. He told me to cut the top of the new panel 1/8 ~ ¼ inch shy of the radius of the top of the cowl. Then weld the top. The top welds need to be ground down to blend with the radius. I can do this part.
But how to I fasten the bottom section? I know that I need to paint both sides of the new metal to keep the overlapping sheet metal from rusting. I plan to plug weld and spot weld where the firewall and the new metal meet. The original cowl had an arc along the bottom where the firewall is welded to it. The arc has an indentation in the metal. I am not sure how to fill this area. I am afraid that if I leave an air gap there the metal will warp when welding or rust later on. Filling this area with weld would take a pound of wire and I would surly warp the metal. I thought about make little flat top mountains of weld in the indentation where a plug weld goes. Panel adhesive would be applied between the mountains will fill the valleys.
If anyone has an idea, please submit a response. I scared I am going to mess up big time.




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post #36 of 657 (permalink) Old Sep 29th, 12, 06:12 AM
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Todd
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I am really enjoying this thread, keep up the good work!!
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post #37 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 12, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thank you miner 49er. You from California?

Cut the middle of the car:
Most of the professional build projects I have seen on the internet change both driver and passengers rockers and then replace the floor. I can see the reasoning behind this approach. The rockers are the strongest part of the unibody. If they are mounted first, then everything can be built around them. My jig will need more mounting points that will hold to the “B” pillar, and upper trunk area in place. I am afraid that if I cut the passenger rocker out, I will not have enough support for the rest of the car.
The old floor pan no longer has any structural integrity. The previous owner paid someone to cover the rust holes with 20-gauge sheet metal that were riveted to the floor. Then some sort of black goop was used to seal the seams. (I have the original receipt.) When I walk on the floor, it feels very spongy. I have already cut one third of the floor away so that I could install the firewall. The only thing floor and passenger rocker are held together with is rust and black goop.
I my case, the passenger rocker still provide a lot of support for the “A” and ”B” pillar sections. These areas are not completely rusted out. The passenger rocker is held in position by three mounting points connected to the jig.
Therefore, I decided to cut the floor out. I ran into the frame rails at the rear of the floor pan while cutting. The floor also is also welded to the trunk pan. I plan to replace the frame rails and trunk pan. It is easier to cut everything out rather than surgically separate metal that will be replaced later.
I added more support for the trunk hinge area before I started cutting the back half of the car. A convertible does have the support of a hardtop roof. The trunk hinge area and convertible brackets would collapse without external support. The two new vertical members are fastened at the bottom of the jig with three bolts. The top of the vertical members have a 90-degree bracket that connects to another horizontal bracket that spans the width of the car. These brackets poke through the drain holes of the trunk pan and are removable. The brackets are paint marked so that they can be put back into place after they are removed. When they are not used, a strap that that is fastened to the garage’s roof temporally holds the trunk hinge in place.
I also added two horizontal tubes stacked on top of each other. They are welded to the back brackets that hold the frame rails. They function as a reference point for measurements.










I cut the car in three big chunks:
1. What was left of the floor.
2. The trunk divider.
3. The trunk pan.








I threw the new panels in place just to see how they looked.


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post #38 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 4th, 12, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

When I first started working on this car, my wife demanded that I do not work on it during the weekdays. I agreed to this. I never told her but one reason was Swamp People and Duck Dynasty was on tv at this time. Now I cannot find either show. Now when I come in the house, she is watching a singing contest. Oh, this show never seems to end. I am going to have to renegotiate our agreement.
I remember the first time I turned on Swamp People. My wife came out of the kitchen and sat down next to me. “They are speaking Cajun!” She did not use the word Cajun; there is another expletive term that I might be censored if I mention it. She looked at me and asked, “Where are these people from?” I told her “I think he is from Pierre Part.” She said, “Isn’t that by New Iberia?” I responded, “Well sort of, I don’t believe there is a road from Pierre Part to New Iberia. You have to go through Plaquemine”. All of the sudden her accent kicked in big time. Everything they said, she would repeat it. I forgot to mention she is from Lafayette, Louisiana.
As we continued to watch the show, she would get so mad because they would pass up good fishing spots. She will jump out of chair and start talking to the tv. “Look at them, they obviously can’t tell they are passing up a bream bed”. “Why don’t they have any fishing poles?” I cannot repeat what she would say when they ignored a sak-o-lait deep water spot. Obviously, my wife likes to fish. We fish the Atchafalaya Basin, the same area where they are fishing for alligators.
I think it was two years ago they had auditions for Swamp People at Prejeans Restaurant, which is just north of Lafayette. I really wanted to go. I did not have any tags so I knew they would not consider me. But, I really wanted to see who crawled over the Henderson Levee and made to Lafayette for the auditions. I know that would have been a fun filled and interesting day.
They also had an audition in DeRidder at Coach Doyle’s restaurant. From what I was told, they were not necessarily looking for alligator hunters but for people similar the cast on Duck Dynasty. They made it to the right place. I remember, one time a friend of mine from Ville Patte (South Louisiana) visited DeRidder (North Louisiana). He told me that everyone was dressed in camouflage and looked like Elvis. I looked at him and said, “Well, you did go there during deer season!” He responded, “Yes but I was in town.” I looked at him a little confused because there are deer in my hometown.
My whole point of this post is that you cannot make your wife a car widow. Do something she likes. I am not suggesting watching a singing contest. Take her fishing. Go out kill something and drag it home. Don’t make her clean it. Do not speed all your time in the garage. That hunk of rusted metal will be there the next day.
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post #39 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 10th, 12, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

The floor pan sort of fits the contours of the firewall.


The gap between the driver rocker and floor pan is even.



I made a mistake when I welded the firewall. I welded an area where the floor slips between the rocker panel and firewall. I had to cut the weld where Mr. Tim (tjqimp) suggested. I used a Dewalt Sawsall with a metal cutting blade.

I did not take a photo but I punched holes in the floor pan where the floor pan overlaps the firewall. I punched holes along the bottom flange where the floor pan meets the rocker panels. I scuffed the EDP paint on the floor pan, trunk pan, and new frame rails. The four pieces were primed.

Frame Rail Placement:
I placed the frame rails on the jig. The frame rail is held in place by two alignment pins that stick up out of each vertical member. The new frame rail will only move around on the pins less than 0.25”. It is a little difficult to use all of the Fisher body measurements to align the frame rails. The jig blocks access to one measuring point.
Frame rail alignment measurements:
  • Align the rear of the frame rails distance from each other. The measurement “Inboard edge of side rail at centerline of shackle bolt hole” is 42.88 inches. This one is easy to accomplish on the jig, as long as the jig is built correctly. Just center the alignment pin in the hole.
  • The diagonal measurement, “Center of Master gauge hole in side rail and a point at inboard edge of opposite side rail at centerline of shackle bolt hole”, should measure 66.68 inches. I think a tram gauge is needed for this measurement. This is the difficult measurement because the jig’s pin is sticking up through the master gauge hole. The Fisher Body specs show only one diagonal measurement. I assume the other diagonal that measures the opposite points is the same. I could not get an accurate measurement of this dimension.
  • The measurement, “Center of master gauge hole in side rail should be 33.5 inches”. The jig’s forward alignment pins lock this measurement down. They are 33.5” inches apart. This dimension is the distance between the leading edge of the two frame rails. I just centered the alignment pin in the frame rail hole.
  • In an earlier post, I mention that I added two square horizontal tubes to the jig. I used them as a reference point. The diagonals between the center of the square tube to the front of the new frame rails where it butts up to the new floor pan should be the same. I used these two measurements in place of the Fisher diagonal measurement described in step 2.

I know that the old frame rails fit on the jig’s alignment pins with no issues. Knowing this, I am sure the new frame rails are very close to being in the same position as the old ones. I have read in other posts that the Fisher body specs dimensions can be different from the actual measurements of a Camaro/Firebird. I do not have a tram gauge. A tape measure can be a crude device since the metal strip bows if it is suspended in air. I am hesitant to provide my actual measurements because I have read on other posts that the reproduction frame rails can vary in size. My dimensions are probably unique to this one car but they are very close to the published specs.
I would never attempt to replace the frame rails without some sort of jig to lock them in position. If I was going to replace a complete trunk pan, it might be prudent to brace the frame rails or build a jig.
A few photos of the upper part of the trunk hinge bracing.














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post #40 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 16th, 12, 06:28 AM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Floor Pan
Replacing the floor pan is straightforward process if your car is on a jig, and everything that surrounds the floor needs to be replaced. Just punch a bunch of holes in the pan where it is going to be welded. Drop the pan in place. Plug weld the holes to the adjacent metal.
I bolted the floor pan to the jig where the sub frame normally attaches. I had to stand on the transmission tunnel to spread the floor pan enough to line up with the new rocker and jig attachment points. I had to use a handful self-taping screws to pull the firewall metal to the floor pan. I cut the floor pan flange at the firewall because there was too much metal along the transmission tunnel. Then the gap was squeezed together.


I clamped the floor pan to the rocker panel flange. Between each clamp is a hole that needs to be plug welded.


The floor pan fit the new frame rails perfectly. Only two screws were needed to pull the metal together at the top of the frame rails. The forward part of the frame rail has a lower flange and two side flanges. Two holes were drilled in each flange and screwed to the floor pan. I think some people call this area the torque boxes. After the pan was screwed and clamped in place, I started to weld the holes shut. The extra row of holes in the floor pan outside of the frame rails were a mistake in measuring.

















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post #41 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 16th, 12, 10:40 AM
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Tim
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Looks great...(damn it, you just passed me!!!)

Tim

My 1968 convertible build:


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post #42 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 16th, 12, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Patrick
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Tim,
I have a lot of work to do before I catch up. Your trunk pan is welded in place. My trunk pan is still flopping around on the frame rails. I can drive a Mac truck between the trunk pan and frame rail gaps. I noticed you had the same problem. I have been reading your build project and learning from your experiences. That is why I am catching up.
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post #43 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 16th, 12, 05:02 PM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Patrick,
Yeah, we've been experiencing the same problems. I thought I got the gaps tighter on my trunk, but when I started welding, I noticed that some spots were not as tight as they should have been. I ended up hammering down the trunk pan to meet the frame rails in order to avoid burning through. So, now I have a bunch of "dents" in my trunk where I welded. I know it's just the trunk and the splatter paint will probably hide some of it, but I wish it would have come out better. Living and learning!

I wish I would have used small bolts instead of sheet metal screws in certain spots where the trunk/floor meets the frame rails. You can tighten them up a little more than sheet metal screws. I did use them in a few places and I was happy with the results. Keep up the good work.

Tim

My 1968 convertible build:


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post #44 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 12, 09:08 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Looking good even with the fitment issues and "dents"

I'm up here in Magnolia if you ever want a second set of hands.

Robert

67 SS under construction
10:1 383, TKO600, Moser 4.11 12 bolt, Hotchkis, Rushforths, Flaming River, etc.
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My build thread:
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post #45 of 657 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 12, 10:17 AM
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wayne
 
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Wow, great job on posting photos of your progress, I just found this and have spent the last 1/2 hour rolling through your thread.
My boy and I are each working on 68's One Camaro and one Firebird so this will really assist us. We will have to tear into the FB a bit more than the Camaro as the FB has a little more rust. Its hard enough to find time to pull wrenches let alone take the time to take photos and do the write up like you have done.

Keep up the good work...it's appreciated up here in Canada
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