Gold Lifetime Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Tomball TX, DeRidder LA
Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible
The car needs a complete restoration. I built a jig to replace the numerous body panels. I chose to buy a set of instructions from Joe Amidio. The plans are can be bought from BelAirBobs Inc. or EBay. The plans come with a spiral bound book that shows the step-by-step instructions. The illustrations are in color. The plans have engineering drawings and cardboard templates. The plans and the descriptions are excellent. It is easy to measure the dimensions between the support posts and frame. You do not need a tram gauge. Most importantly, the body fell on the alignment pins with no problems.
The hard part of mounting the body to the jig was to lift the body high enough in order to roll the jig under the body. Mr. Amidio illustrations show six burly men, standing on icy concrete, lifting the body onto the jig. I did not have any ice, so I had to come up with a different plan.
For a person trying to mount a body on the jig for the first time, it can be a daunting task. If the doors or trunk gaps are not even, try to align them the best that you can. Mark the location of the hinges. The first thing to do is to remove everything from the car. This includes the interior, dash, gas tank, drive shaft, brake lines, fenders, front headlight assembly, steering linkage, etc. The only thing left is the front clip with the engine and transmission are still bolted to the car and the rear axle is still installed. The next thing you need is a lot of space. You will need space for the jig, for what is left of the car that is still sitting on its tires, room for the front clip, and room for the rear axle.
I made a wooden rectangle frame to lift the car using the rocker panels as the contact points. The perimeter of the frame consisted of four, 2x4s, nailed on edge. (That almost 8Ē x 4Ē) The length and width of the frame was about five feet by three feet. You will need to fabricate some wooden blocks give the lifting devices more height since the floor jacks and jack stands will not lift the body high enough by themselves.
Slide the wooden frame under the car behind the front clip. Put the two hydraulic floor jacks under the wooden frame on the narrow sides. Chain the engine hoist to the rear bumper mounting holes. The engine hoist will keep the body from tilting since the back is heavy. Jack up the three hydraulic jacks just enough to put tension on the front clip. Install four jack stands under the rocker panels. Remove one of the floor jacks and install it under the transmission pan. Use a board between the jack and transmission pan to distribute the weight. Remove the four front clip mounting bolts. The body will move up when the last bolt is removed since the jack stands are pushing the body upward. The floor jack under the transmission and the carís two front wheels form a tricycle and the front clip can be rolled forward out of the way. Put a wooden block under the transmission cross member and remove the floor jack. Reposition the floor jack under the wooden frame.
The jack stands that are under the rockers should be raised up a notch each time it is possible. If something goes wrong, hopefully the jack stands will prevent the body from falling. Now remove the rear axle from the leaf springs. Some people might remove the axle and leaf springs as one piece. I was afraid I might get hurt with this method. Continue to raise the car. Roll the axle out of the way when you get the car high enough. Remove the leaf springs. Continue to raise the car. When you get the car high enough, roll the jig under the car. The body has to be perfectly horizontal when it is lowered on the jig. The alignment pins on the jig will not allow the body to drop on the jig at an angle.
Buy your neighbors supper who helped you. Bring your woman out to show her what you accomplished.