1969 Firebird Convertible - Page 5 - Team Camaro Tech
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post #61 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 12, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Truss,

The photos are not necessarily in chronological order. The planned time line for my project is the following:
1. Cut out Driver rocker panel
2. Replace driver A pillar
3. Repair cowl panel
4. Replace firewall
5. Replace driver shoulder cowl panel
6. Repair driver b pillar
7. cut the middle out of the car
8. position frame rails
9. install floor pan
10. install trunk pan
11. install trunk rear inner valance
12. replace driver rear wheel house
13. install passenger rocker panel
14. replace passenger A pillar
15. Repair passenger B pillar
16. install convertible floor pan reinforcements
17. replace passenger rear wheel house
18. replace passenger shoulder cowl panel
19. install tail panel
20. install quarter panels
21. install rear suspension
22. remove from jig

I am just a shade tree mechanic. So my order of changing parts is probably incorrect. Basically, I started from the front driver corner and worked my way out to the rest of the car. I replaced the parts in the above order becase the first ones were so badly rusted they did not provide any support to the rest of the car. I did not start with the frame rails because they were still strong.

Before I cut anything out, I made notes in a notebook with hand drawn illustrations and measurements. I cut the car in chunks. Where two panels meet, I did not separate them. An example would be the trunk pan with the frame rails still attached. This method proved to be valuable because I still have an example of how the two parts are joined together and I have the exact dimensions in case I forgot to jot them down.

Your order will be different from mine. I stared at the body on the jig for days before deciding what to do. It was intimidating to me when I made the first cut. But after making it and sliding the replacement rocker in place, I could tell that it was going to be possible to join it to the old metal.

I think that most professionals replace both rockers first. The rockers are the main supports on the unibody. I guess another method would be to keep your car intact and build a replacement body on the jig. That way you have a complete example for reference. I did not have that much room. My rear axle is in my wife's flower bed behind the garage. One tire is almost flat.
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post #62 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 12, 10:39 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Honestly looks like you did an awesome job. I am getting ready to tackle mine and feel the same as you in terms of the daunting task. I did think the pics were in order but my mistake. So you did do rockers first. I kind of thought that would be the way to go. But you know I am at that unsure place right now. I do know that the jig is the way to go....my plans should be here fairly quickly I hope....then i will build the jig to put the car on. I think I have all the parts now with the exception of a full trunk. I ordered everything seperate then people started telling me that the best way is as a unit vs piece by piece...I agree. I think i have alittle more room than you but not much...the only down fall for me is that before I got this car i had completely renovated my garage with new cabinetry and checkerboard floor. Thanks so much for being patient with my questions
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post #63 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 5th, 12, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Truss,
I have always wondered if anyone actually took the time to study the photos. I am happy to see that you noticed the timeline of the photos were not in order. This tells me you are serious about your upcomming project. I hope you are following several build projects on this fourm. Take the best ideas and procedures out of each one and use them as a guide and reference. If you have any questions or need more photos of a certain area I will be happy to help.

I spread a tarp down in the back part of my garage to help from ruining my unsealed concrete floor. Dirt gets between the tarp and floor. When you start tearing your car apart, rust will fall on your floor. When you start to put your car back together, weld slag will fall on your floor. At the end of the weekend I use my leaf blower to blow out the dust. The driveway has turned a redish brown from the metal filings turning to rust.
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post #64 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 5th, 12, 09:06 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Keep up the good work Patrick. Excellent work so far!

68 Camaro SS 396 - 468 BBC now, M21, 12 bolt 3.73 coded housing but w/ 3.31 gears.
Looking for 68 Camaro with body number NOR 181016
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post #65 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 6th, 12, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thank you Byran. It has been fun so far.

Fix Frame Rail
The passenger frame rail was too short where it connects to the rear inner valance. There are three flanges at the end of a frame rail. I cut off one of the vertical flanges that was bent outward. This flange is normally welded to the inner valance. I made an extension out of scrap angle iron. Two angle iron pieces made the sides and the upper flanges that connect to the trunk. The bottom of the extension was made with some flat stock. I made the patch a little long. That way, I could cut the patch a little at a time until it was the right length and the angles where it joins to the existing frame rail and valance was correct. It was difficult to weld inside the little hole where the patch meets the frame rail flanges because the mig tip was too big. I welded the outside to get better penetration. I proceeded to grind the weld down. I wasn’t paying attention and ground down some of the new metal. I then had to fill the cavity with weld and grind it down flat.








I added a cap to the outside of the patch to mimic the frame rail flanges. I did not see any reason to weld three flanges. The flat square piece sticks out from the frame rail just like the flange that I cut off earlier. Once the inner valance is in place, all anyone will see is part of the cap that mimics the flange. The cap fits flush with the rear inner valance.



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post #66 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 6th, 12, 05:44 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Looks good! Seeing your car on Sunday has me more moviated to get mine home.

Brandon
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post #67 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 6th, 12, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Bryon,
I apologize for spelling your name Bryan.
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post #68 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 6th, 12, 08:09 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Patrick, no problem. It happens...

Your abilities and your work so far are inspiring. I will be following this thread, and honestly I like 69 Firebirds just as much (somedays maybe more) than Camaros.

68 Camaro SS 396 - 468 BBC now, M21, 12 bolt 3.73 coded housing but w/ 3.31 gears.
Looking for 68 Camaro with body number NOR 181016
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post #69 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 6th, 12, 03:55 PM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Looks like you solved the ol' "short frame rails" dilemma well. Curious to know if your rear trunk vertical surface that the tail light panel welds to is bowed or not. Looking at it from the side of the car. Mine needed a little "attention" to make it fit correctly. Keep up the good work!

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'68 Sequoia Grn V8 Cpe--Building now!(too)
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post #70 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 8th, 12, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Oh Todd, now I am worried again. The lip on the trunk pan bends up at what looks like 90 degrees. Should it be bent a an angle? When I installed the tail panel, I had to pull it back to line up with the quarter panel. I installed the trunk lid and the gap was too large between the quarter and trunk lid. The trunk lid seemed to close correctly but the weather stripping channel was missing and obvisiouly the weather stripping was not installed.

Brandon, I want to see your car when it comes home. Hurry up, get that garage clean!
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post #71 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 8th, 12, 08:43 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Silly question... only because I don't see it in your pics,.... but did you install the cross rail (inner tail panel) before the tail light panel? Silly question I know... but I have to ask. Also-- did you test-fit both quarters, cross rail, and the tail light panel before welding? Was there such a gap then? Test-fitting is the key here.

*If you did test it with the cross rail panel, you may have to slide the cross rail panel back more so that the top edge of the tail light panel will lean forward more and meet the quarters. You mentioned you had to pull the tail light panel forward to meet the quarters properly... just an idea. If that's the case and sliding the cross rail back more helps, you'll need to trim the rear edge of it so the tail light panel meets flush to the rear trunk edge. There is sometimes extra metal left on these repro panels that will need trimming to fit. Mine did...

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Last edited by 6781camaro; Nov 8th, 12 at 09:07 AM.
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post #72 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 13th, 12, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Rear Inner Valance or Inner Tail Light Panel Brace:
I did not buy this panel with my initial order of parts because I did not know it existed. I had a revelation when I pulled the tail panel out of the box and there seemed to be something missing. Oh well, another $65.00. The old one had seen better days.


The new panel did not follow the contours of the trunk pan. I drilled a hole in both pieces and pulled them together. I drilled holes in both the trunk pan and inner valance so that I could temporarily fasten them with sheet metal screws.

I spot primed the previous welds and primed the new panel. I screwed the inner panel to the trunk pan.

I took the panel back off and punched holes in the new brace along the surface that meets the trunk pan. I originally wanted to drill holes in the trunk pan. That way, I could weld from the top. The trunk pan has little braces in the top that would prevent the welds from being ground down. Therefore, I had to weld the panel upside down.

I reinstalled the quarter panel and tail panel to see if the new inner valance will line up. It seemed to fit ok after a little work.


One thing that I noticed was that the factory shifted my original tail panel to the right. The bumper bracket bolts that fasten to the trunk pan are 3/8”; but the holes are drilled ˝”. This allowed for some wiggle room for adjustments. It was easy to see when you look at the area behind the license plate. I wanted to try to make the car as symmetrical as possible so I used ˝” bolts to align everything.




I plug welded the valance to the two frame rails, the two trunk pan braces, and along the seam where the valance meets the trunk pan. I welded the hole closed that I made earlier to pull the two panels together. This was one of the easier pieces to install.

If you are replacing the complete trunk pan and tail panel, don’t forget to buy this extra piece.


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post #73 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 13th, 12, 06:46 AM
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

I just noticed that your tailpan does not have the holes for the Pontiac letters. Are you going to put them back on or leave them off?

Brandon
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post #74 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 13th, 12, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

When I ordered the tail panel, I asked for one that had the holes drilled for the letters. What I got was one of the first tail panels made. The first ones did not have holes drilled for the Pontiac letters and they still had two extra bolt holes the Camaro bumper. I plan to install the letters and weld shut the holes so that no one will confuse it with a Camaro.
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post #75 of 684 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 12, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Passenger A pillar:
The passenger A pillar needed to be repaired like the driver side. The repair process was the same.

The replacement rocker was fitted in place. The first cut was made below the hinge bracket holes.



More material was cut off because the first cut was too low. The hinge support bends at a slight arc towards the center of the car. I wanted the new patch seam to fit snuggly against the hinge support bracket. A second cut was made just above the bottom bracket holes. The bracket is flat in this area. Sorry for the photo being sideways. I rotated it but this forum insists that you tilt your head on some photos.



Not shown, but the rocker was reinstalled and the new patch was put into position and bolted to the jig. I used some masking tape to mark where the patch needed to be cut.



Once the patch was cut it was fitted in position. I did not take a photo but I installed bolts with flat washers into the hinge support to pull the patch flush with the original metal.



Weld the two together and remove the hinge support bracket. Then grind down the welds.



I cut some of the metal from the patch panel that I did not use. I welded the little pieces to the back side of the patch to reinforce the joint.


Prime the panel.
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