1969 Firebird Convertible - Page 7 - Team Camaro Tech
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  #91  
Old Dec 10th, 12, 07:22 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Location: Tomball TX, DeRidder LA
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

B pillar repair Passenger Side Part 2 Post 3:
The doorjamb piece was installed on the car. The vertical row of spot welds was used to realign the piece. The quarter panel was reinstalled to make sure the doorjamb was correct.




Weld the B pillar support brace back in place.



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  #92  
Old Dec 17th, 12, 07:17 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thank you to the person who gave this post the stars.

Mini Tubing a Convertible Part 1:
I was hesitant to widen the rear wheelhouses on my car for the following reasons:
1. Itís a convertible. The car does not have a roof; wider tires might cause the unibody to flex.
2. I am not planning to take it to the drag races.
3. It would be easier to install the stock size wheelhouses.
4. Cutting the car might decrease the value.
5. I will have to change the rear suspension.
6. I will have to shorten the rear axle.
7. Trunk area will decrease.
8. Convertible top has less room to fold up when it is lowered.
9. Convertible mechanism arms will have to be modified.


I decided to go ahead and mini tub the car for the following reasons:

1. Itís a convertible. Not many soft tops have the wide wheelhouses. I was planning to stiffen the unibody anyway.
2. I like street cars with wide tires.
3. I am going to have to replace the wheelhouses anyway. So now is the best time to make them bigger.
4. It is a Firebird, not a high dollar Camaro.
5. One of my leaf spring is broken. I plan upgrade the rear suspension anyway.
6. My old 10 bolt open differential axle is too weak. I need a bigger one.
7. I am not planning to carry any luggage.
8. It is hot and rainy in Houston, Texas. Convertible tops are up most of the time.
9. I think that I will be able to modify the convertible mechanism arms.


I bought a couple of Dynacorn wide wheelhouses. They are a one-piece unit. This means the inner and outer pieces are welded together. They are 2.25Ē wider than the stock size. The total width is 15.25 inches. They do not come with a template or instructions like the DSE tubs. I do not know how to install the wheelhouses as a one-piece unit. So, I drilled out the welds and separated them.















I read a few internet links that describe how to install the wheelhouses. TCI has a pdf file and so does the magazine Camaro Performers.
http://www.totalcostinvolved.com/pdf/install/mchev/67-69_Camaro_4-Link_with_Mini_Tub_Sheet_Metal.pdf
http://www.camaroperformers.com/camaro-tech/paint-and-body/camp-0906-1969-chevy-camaro-convertible-wheelwell/viewall.html
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  #93  
Old Dec 17th, 12, 07:34 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible Part 2:
One of the first steps described in the above references state that I should take careful measurements of the quarter panel wheel lip to the frame rail. My original frame rails were intact. The outer wheelhouse had rusted away from the quarter panel.





I knew the quarter panels were bad but they looked ok from the outside. When I looked up inside of the quarter panel, it did not look so good. The previous repair consisted of some sheet metal riveted to the quarter panel. (Does this sound familiar Brandon?) The outside was smoothed over with Bondo. In addition, the wheel lip had completely rusted away. It was recreated with Bondo and duct tape. I do not think that the Bondo wheel lip would be a good reference point.

The second step is to tack weld some brackets to the convertible top bracket. This has to be done before the wheelhouse is cut off. The temporary brackets make sure the convertible braces do not move when the wheelhouse is cut out. I only have a photo of the brackets after the wheelhouses were removed.


I had to come up with Plan B since I have no reference points. The B pillar was braced by the jig. I knew it was in the correct position. Part of the wheel house is welded to the B pillar arch. The B pillar locates the front part of the wheelhouse. The rear part of the wheelhouse has one reference point. It is the distance between the lip of the wheelhouse to the convertible quarter panel inner bracket.



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  #94  
Old Dec 17th, 12, 08:12 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible Part 3:
The most important reference point is the new quarter panel. Most people only see the outside of a car. If the quarter panel does not look good, it does not matter how the wheelhouse looks. So the outer wheelhouse quarter panel and tail panel were installed on the car. The driverís side wheelhouse did not fit into the quarter panelís wheel lip. I cut some 2x4 blocks and use C clamps to pull the two together. The blocks distribute the forces over a wide area so that the quarter panel does not distort. I also used vice grips on the flat pieces where the chrome or stainless wheel lip molding goes.
















After all the work outer wheelhouse is in position. I marked itís location.


Transfer the marks to the outside of the wheelhouse.







Now the outer wheelhouse is in position and it can be used as a reference to locate the inner wheelhouse.
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  #95  
Old Dec 22nd, 12, 09:49 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Cut Trunk Pan and Frame Rail For Mini Tubs.

I have read that some people believe that the frame rails do not need to be cut for Dynacorn wide wheel tubs. This is not true. You will cut the trunk pan and loose the shock absorber mounting point. The frame rails have to be cut and boxed.

The convertible has and extra bracket welded to the wheel tub that is not used on the coupe. Also, the convertible back seat brace is very different from the coupe. Other than that, minitubbing a convertible is very similar.

I tried to make a template to help me make the cut. I was not successful. The templates I tried to make were not a flat piece of cardboard. They had to bend around the curves of the wheel house and go up and down on the curves of the trunk pan. The template would have to be three dimensional. I think a template can easily be made after the wheel house is installed.

One of the previous photos showed part of the trunk hinge bracket removed. I left the upper part of the bracket where the torsional bars mount.




The convertible mechanism bracket was also removed. I broke the spot welds where I previously welded the two extra brackets and drilled out the spot welds on the B pillar. The spot welds give reference points so that the bracket can be later installed in the exact posistion it was removed.





The convertible rocker has a flange that is next to the floor pan. It has to be cut off.



I ended up just cutting a little at a time until the inner wheelhouse fit. The trunk bracket was my nemesis during the whole ordeal. It blocks the inner wheelhouse from fitting until the hole is completely cut. The photo below shows the bracket and the next cut I will make.




Eventully I cut the frame rail and trunk pan enough so that the wheelhouse fits. I bolted the inner and outer wheelhouses together.










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  #96  
Old Dec 22nd, 12, 11:56 PM
fordpowerjoke fordpowerjoke is offline
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Jeff
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Nice work Patrick. Looks like a ton of work but you have made huge progress since bringing the car home!
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  #97  
Old Dec 31st, 12, 12:17 PM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible Patching Frame Rail Part 4:
I cut the trunk pan a little at a time. Shown below is the first cut. I was surprised to find that the interior of the metal of the trunk pan was not painted. I thought the pan was dipped into the EDP paint at the factory. The paint must have been sprayed. Inside the hole, the metal was bare and a little rusted. I bought a can of self-etching primer and sprayed into the hole. Maybe it did some good.


The amount of metal removed looks to be the same for both the DSE and Dynacorn tubs.


I cut some bar angles to reinforce the hole cut into the frame rail. Two pieces of angle steel were used because the frame rail starts to slope downward as it progresses to the rear of the car. The angle pieces were drilled with holes. The pieces were plug welded to the frame rail and to each other. They extend well past the actual hole.


I cut a piece of flat steel to fit on the bottom of the frame rail. It also extends past the hole. Not shown but this piece was welded to the angle steel installed previously. Now I have made a channel beam. I cut two pieces of metal to join the sides of the frame rail. At this point, I have made an open-ended box.

Two pieces of 3/16 inch steel plate were used to cover the frame rail hole. They had to be bent to follow the curve of the wheelhouse. I heated them with a torch and bent them with a hammer. The round pipe was used as a form.


The first steel plate slips inside the new steel in the frame rail. The curve of the 3/16 plate touches the bar angle inside the frame rail. This is where I made a mistake. I previously welded the bottom flat piece to the angle piece. The weld bead interfered with the steel plate. I had to grind down the weld in the area where the curved plate buts up against the angle steel. The inner steel plate was welded to what I call the open-ended box and to the edges of the frame rail. This inner plate boxes in the hole. Not shown but a second piece of 3/16 steel was welded on top of the first one. The second pieces was ground down to match the thickness of the frame rail metal and to follow the contours of the wheelhouse. I think my welder was set too hot. This method is different from other posts. I hope that boxing the inside of the frame rail and adding the second curved plate will strengthen the cut. There are no visible patches on the outside.


A little 16-gauge triangle piece was welded above the frame rail. The other bigger hole to the left has an inner piece of metal. The patch was cut to match the big hole. Also, the patch had a few holes drilled into it so that the inner metal could be welded to the patch.



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  #98  
Old Dec 31st, 12, 12:26 PM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible Adding trunk flanges Part 5:
When I cut the trunk pan, I did not leave any extra metal for a flange that fastens to the wheelhouse. They are necessary because this is the main area where the wheelhouse is welded to the trunk pan. I cut a strip of 18-gauge steel. I bent it to match the contours of the wheelhouse. I tried to get it as close to the wheelhouse as possible. Notice that it sticks up above the floor pan. It sticks up because I did not want to accidently weld the wheelhouse to the floor.




The strip of steel was spot welded to the floor pan and the wheelhouse was removed.




I finished welding the strip and ground it down flush with the floor pan.


The flange at the rear of the wheelhouse was created the same way. This method gave me tight seams. The imperfections and waviness of the cuts were eliminated because the weld bead filled in the holes.


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  #99  
Old Jan 1st, 13, 07:11 PM
rugby rugby is offline
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

That looks like a lot of work for 2.25"!!! looks good!

From talking with my dad the rivits on the qtr was the way they used to fix them. rivit a new one on and bondo over them.

Brandon
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  #100  
Old Jan 8th, 13, 08:07 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible: Modifying the Wheelhouse Brackets Part 6:
The convertible mechanism bracket that was removed previously has to be modified to fit the wider wheelhouses. The trunk hinge bracket also has to be altered. All of the write-ups that I have read just gloss over these modifications. To me, these modifications were just as difficult as cutting the frame rail.
The convertible bracket consists of two pieces that are welded together. I was gentle when separating the pieces. I did not want to have to deal with bent brackets that will not allow the convertible top to operate in the future. Notice the two holes where the captive nuts are located. I think the factory used an oxygen acetylene torch to enlarge the holes.


The rusty bracket was cut along the red line. The rest of the bracket was ground down where the green marks illustrate.


The bracket was put back on the car to determine if I had ground down the bracket enough to fit the wheelhouse. The extra temporary brackets help locate the convertible bracket in its correct location. I used the broken spot welds on the temporary brackets as a reference.





After a lot of trial and error, the bracket was ground down enough to fit tightly against the wheelhouse. The flange that was cut off was welded back on the bracket. In addition, the two brackets were joined back together.





The modified bracket was welded back on the car.
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  #101  
Old Jan 8th, 13, 08:45 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mini Tubing a Convertible: Modifying the Wheelhouse Brackets Part 7:
The trunk bracket has to be modified.




I just cut the top off and punched new holes at the top. When I took this bracket off the old wheelhouse, I had to drill a spot weld that was on the edge of the bracket. Now the bracket has a ragged edge. I used a piece of copper bar to fix the ragged edge with weld. The copper bar gave me a straight edge since the weld would not stick to the copper. After grinding down the weld and making a second pass the bracket looks a lot better.







The outer wheelhouse was welded to the car. The inner and outer wheelhouses were welded to the B pillar. And the outer wheelhouse was welded to the trunk pan flanges.






This car is gona be Bad to the Bone! (If I ever finish it)





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  #102  
Old Jan 8th, 13, 01:24 PM
zman1969 zman1969 is offline
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Patrick, I just found this thread and read alot of the posts and few of the pics(I have alot blocked at work so I'm a little in the dark, i plan on looking at this thread when I have time at home. now with all that I am really impressed to see the amount of time you took to detail this online here for us that are unaware how muck work goes into sheet metal repairs - alot have no idea of what it takes or why so much $$ to do body repairs. I grew up in Chicago's suburbs and rust is horrible and we throw salt down to aid the auto industry in the need for replacement cars. your posts about your wifeand fishing was quite good and humorus. I too am building a 69 Bird and had my bodyman mintube and flare the rear wheel wells it got stuck in bodyjail until he gave up on it. It will be a TA clone with tires and LS power plant, I had another setback - the city gave me a permit and now I have been all over a 30x30 shop, had a contracter do concrete and framing, roofing - my son and i are doing insulation, sheetrock, tape and bed and the painting just started -I cant wait to pull a car in (and on a lift!!) start working in my new shop. keep up the good work!! and thank you for showing all of us what it takes
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  #103  
Old Jan 9th, 13, 06:22 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Mr. Zman,

A 30x30 shop should give you plenty of room to rebuild your car. I only have a typical suburban detached 2 car garage. I made an addition to the back of it. The original garage is 21x22 and the addition is 17x21.

I hired someone to make the shell. I installed the electrical, pneumatic, and water lines. I insulated and sheetrocked the walls and ceiling.







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  #104  
Old Jan 9th, 13, 07:31 AM
sgthawkusmc sgthawkusmc is online now
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by tp_smith View Post
I noticed you closed in your air compressor. I thought about doing that, but aren't you afraid of it over heating? I love your addition. I've been thinking about doing something similar. I have two cars in the garage during the winter along with my 69 on the rotisserie at the front. Too tight... 26x30 gambrel. I'd like to go back 20' and put a lift in the addition. Someday.
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http://www.camaros.net/forums/showth...33#post2703833
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  #105  
Old Jan 9th, 13, 09:32 AM
tp_smith tp_smith is offline
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Patrick
 
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Default Re: 1969 Firebird Convertible

Thank you.

The compressor is completely enclosed. The doors and sides and roof are stuffed with fiberglass insulation and some old carpet padding that I found on the side of the road. The back side of the compressor tank has some old sound deading material. The walls are made with MDF boards. If you look carefully, the inside of the walls in the cubicle are lined with some grey foam squares.

You cannot see but on the back wall behind the compressor, there is a louvered vent at the bottom to allow fresh air from the outside in the cubicle. On the top of the back wall, there are two 6.5" muffin fans that turn on and turn off the same time the compressor cycles. They exhaust the hot air to the outside. The wall that I cut for the intake vent and fans are covered with louvered grills and they face a wooden fence so no one sees the holes. It works pretty good.

Now if I can only make my die grinder quieter.
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