1969 firebird convertible with photos - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 4th, 17, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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1969 firebird convertible with photos

1969 Firebird Convertible

I was bidding on a car last night. From what I can tell from the photos and talking to the owner, it needs the following in body parts:
Quarter panels
Tail panel
Rear bumper
Complete Trunk pan
Complete Floor pan
Fenders
Possibly a firewall
Front valance panel
Door skins
New convertible top

The owner stated it needs a complete restoration. It runs but it will not stop. (Brakes are bad). The convertible top works. The gauges and speedometer work, headlights work, radio has no sound.

The next morning, I got an email telling me that I won! What am I going to tell my wife? Should I send flowers? I will have to get the car shipped to me.

I hired Get-Ur-Dun Trucking Company to deliver the Firebird. The driver, who was president and CEO of the company, loved the car. He said he has hauled other cars in worst shape.

Four sets of neighbors came out of their houses to see the one-ton pickup with a long trailer parked in front of my house. All the men neighbors loved the car. All the women neighbors hated the car. One man wanted to buy my car on the spot. Another one wanted to buy one like it but his wife told him that he could not. He offered to help me work on the car. The six-year-old neighbor twins were fascinated with the manual window handles. They never had seen a car that did not have electric windows.

The driver was an interesting character. It is a shame he lives in another state. He talked about splurging that night and getting a hotel with a shower because he slept in his truck for two days. He had many stories. One of his previous customers refused to pay him because he did not like the used car he bought sight unseen. Another one only viewed one side of the car on eBay. Later, when his car arrived, he found out it was wrecked on the other side. We talked maybe for two hours and drank some homemade beer on the patio with a few of the men neighbors. My wife was inside with the women neighbors. She kept staring at us through the kitchen window and talking on the phone. I think she called everyone she knew to tell them about our new car. Later, I found out she hid her jewels and money in the house because she thought I was going to ask the driver to spend the night at our house. He got a call from the dispatcher, his wife, and left to pick up a car on the other side of Houston.

The convertible top flew off during transit. It was old and dry rotted. You need a screwdriver to open the trunk. It needs many body panels replaced because of rust. The engine runs good and the transmission works. The points and plugs are new, the oil was new and the radiator coolant was green. There is no telling the last time the engine was started before the tune up. The engine was pressure washed possibly to hide an oil leak. I drove it 200 feet and the wheels did not fall off.


I think that I have a combination of mismatched engine parts. The car should have a 350 CID engine. I checked the engine block number. It is 22927YT. It does not match the VIN serial number. The motor mounts are the 1969 and older two bolt version. The block could be a 400 CID. The heads are for a 350 engine and it has a 2-barrel carburetor. Talk about sucking air through a tiny straw!! It does run and does not make any abnormal noises.
[IMG]FBBD 6 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

All the mounting hardware bolts are rusted. The inner fender has a rust hole.
[IMG]FBBD 7 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 9 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I added brake fluid to the master cylinder. It leaked out as you can see on the vacuum reservoir. The master cylinder piston walls were scoured from rust so the O rings could not seal. I bought a rebuilt master cylinder and put it on the car. Now the brake fluid leaks out the brake line that goes to the rear brakes. The brake line was rusted. One front brake works. I could not get the hub off of the other front brake to see what was the mater. The lug bolts were rusted to the brake drum.
[IMG]FBBD 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The power steering pumps worked!!?? No leaks no whine.
[IMG]FBBD 14 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I have never seen a hood rust along the edges. This must be an exclusive phenomenon that happens only to cars from up north.
[IMG]FBBD 17 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The front end looks ok. I need a new lower valance. The chrome headlight moldings are pitted. The chrome bumper looks ok. All the headlights work. They are the original T3 type.
[IMG]FBBD 19 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The driver fender is rusted out. I need a new one. The driver rearview mirror just flops around. The mirror is pitted. The driver door is rusted along the bottom.
[IMG]FBBD 22 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 23 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The driver quarter panel need to be replaced.
[IMG]FBBD 25 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The rear bumper needs to be rechromed. The deck lid lock is missing. Someone applied Bondo over the two mounting holes that hold the lock in place and then repainted the car. The deck lid has rust holes in the corner. Some creature packed this area with rock wool? The nest must have gotten wet. The strap that is touching the concrete is one of the gas tank straps. The strap mounting bracket on the trunk pan is rusted out. A coat hanger helped hold the tank in place.
[IMG]FBBD 26 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The passenger quarter panel has some rust bubbles. A few months in the future, I was joking with my neighbor about my rusty car. I kicked this area with my boot and my foot went through the metal.
[IMG]FBBD 27 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The passenger fender and door are in the same shape as the driver side.
[IMG]FBBD 29 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The interior is in surprisingly undamaged shape. None of the upholstery is torn. There is some mold on the headrests.
[IMG]FBBD 31 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 40 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 59 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The convertible top mechanism is rusty and the paint is peeling. The header bow has rust holes in it. The windshield header molding that touches the convertible top header bow has rust holes. The top’s hydraulic pump and pistons work. The neighbor twins tested it for me many times.
[IMG]FBBD 38 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 42 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The steering wheel leaks oil. Old plastic does that. After it leaks out, it becomes sticky. The center console has a rectangular hole cut into it. I don’t know why. The dash is cracked in many places. Speedometer and idiot lights work.
[IMG]FBBD 43 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick

Last edited by tp_smith; Aug 4th, 17 at 08:54 AM.
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post #2 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 4th, 17, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Continuation of Introduction:

The trunk pan has rust holes in it. All four cocktail shakers are on the car.
[IMG]FBBD 45 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 48 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FBBD 50 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The plastic knob is missing off the seat adjuster. The still plates are corroded.
[IMG]FBBD 55 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I wanted a project. I definitely have one.
My sister-in-law asked me how much money I had to pay my wife to sit in the car for the photo below. My in-laws said she does not look happy. She will be happy when I get it running.
[IMG]FBBD 61 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I took my wife fishing to help calm her down. We went to a hunting camp outside of San Antonio, Texas. It was near a town called Pipe Creek. When it is not deer hunting season, the owner lets people come and fish. The house we rented was over a 110 years old. The walls were literally 12 or 14 inched thick. They were made of some sort of adobe stucco mud. Pipe Creek Ranch | The Lodge
It had not rained there for almost a year. You can see how dried up the pond was in the background. The river that runs through the land was almost dry except for some deep pools. The fish were still fat even though there was a drought. Their heads were not larger than the bodies. We were fishing for black crappie. The bass kept jumping on my hook. My wife caught sac-o-lait so she was happy. They say it is catch and release fishing but the manager allowed us to keep a few to eat.
[IMG]FISH 2 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]FISH 3 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]
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post #3 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 4th, 17, 03:57 PM
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

I like it, good luck with your new project.

1969 Camaro ProTouring build
350 Tuned port, 700R4
Moser 12 bolt
mini-tubbed - resto in progress; painted fall of 2018

1969 Camaro X-55
350 4 speed, black with white hockey stripe
White interior
Completed resto in 2018
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post #4 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 4th, 17, 05:47 PM
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Patrick - Nice project for sure a ton of work, and I like the color which is weird since I was never a fan of green Pontiac's as a kid.
The top was green as well?


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post #5 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 5th, 17, 06:09 AM
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

It is amazing on how nice and complete the car looks while every panel has rust issues! The edge rust on the hood looks the same as when pine needles got stuck in the gap and held water

Congrats?

Kevin


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post #6 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 17, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

It had a green top that was a little lighter color than the car. The owner said duct tape covered a hole in the top. Vertigo Green was the most popular color for this car in 1969. Times have changed.

The original owner was very honest about the car. Every question I asked, he answered truthfully. He did not volunteer any extra information. I knew the car was in bad shape when I purchased it. It seems like every F body car I looked at needed quarter panels and a floor pan. I wanted something I could cut up and not feel guilty. I wanted to see if I could build a car.

The hood was perfect except around the edges. The cowl panel next to the windshield did not have any rust. Pine needles.... interesting.

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post #7 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 7th, 17, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Garage Addition

Now I have an excuse for a larger garage. I always wanted one. I contracted a company to bust out the back wall of my detached two car garage. They poured a new foundation behind the existing garage that was 17 feet wide x 21 feet long. They put up the shell, roof and cement board siding. They did a good job. I added two windows and another door.

[IMG]EXT 1 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 4 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 5 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I changed out my breaker distribution panel from 125 amp to a 200 amp service.

About this time a hurricane decided to blow through town. My Firebird was parked at the storage facility outside in the weather with a tarp over the top. The rain and winds would have destroyed what was left of the interior. I actually drove the rust heap to the storage area and back home. I got it up to 40 mph. I had one front drum brake that was working. The photos below show the car back home with all the yard stuff in the garage that would have blown away from the winds.
[IMG]EXT 19 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 20 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 21 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]EXT 22 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

We survived the storm. We did not have power for 20 days. Hard times seem to bring out the best in people. Everybody did their best to help each other. I must have fixed eight generators after the storm. Please drain the gas tank and run the carburetor dry before storing a generator for years.

I planned to finish the addition before bringing my car home. My plan did not work out and I had to work around the car because of the storm.

I added three 240 volt plugs in the walls for my welder. I added another one for my compressor and a 4-wire 220 Vac plug for my generator. I ran 120 Vac wires for the receptacles and lights.
I ran water lines for a future sink.

I bought a used compressor off Craigslist. I build a closet for it. The walls are made of dense MDF panels. The walls are stuffed with fiberglass insulation and old carpet padding. Gray foam that is shaped like an egg carton is stapled to the inside of the closet walls. I cut a hole in the back wall and installed a louvered panel so the compressor can draw cooler outside air. There are two 6.78” muffin fans on the top of the back wall near the motor and compressor pump. They blow the hot air outside. The fans turn on when the compressor cycles. The compressor stays cool in the closet and it is quiet.
[IMG]ext 23 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I ran ¾” air lines in the ceilings and walls. There are two circuits. One is for air tools and the other is for my paint gun. I reused the black pipe that I originally used for my natural gas generator during the storm. The pipe was used for the straight runs and I used copper for the bends. There are brass nipples where the iron is connected to the copper pipe. The pipe makes a compete circle in the attic. The circle is tilted so the furthest point from the compressor is the highest. This will help the condensation drain back to the compressor.

I installed sheetrock and floated it. I made some cabinets much like the ones in the original garage to keep the floor from being littered with junk.

This car is getting expensive. I have not started working on it.

Patrick
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post #8 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 17, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Disassembly Part 1

I took over 150 photos of the car. I will need them when I start to reassemble the car. If anyone needs a photo how something is supposed to look, I probably have one.
I started taking the car apart. I think the driver door rear view mirror holes are different from a Camaro. Check the mirror door hole pattern before you buy used Firebird door to install it on a Camaro or vice versa.
[IMG]dfb 7 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I had to take the seats out with a ½” impact wrench because of the rusted bolts. The cushion springs had surface rust but they were not broken.
[IMG]dfb 3 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The original owner was about 80 years old when he sold the car. I think one of his kids drove the car for a while. Someone cut holes in the back of the bucket seats and installed Realistic (Radio Shack) speakers that were made about 1978.
[IMG]dfb 16 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I think some creature was living under the back seat. He liked to collect little round nuts that don’t grow where I live.
[IMG]dfb 4 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The window fuzzies are rotten.
[IMG]dfb 6 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I took many photos of the convertible top mechanism. This was the most intimidating part of the car for me.
[IMG]dfb 11 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 13 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 14 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 18 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 19 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 20 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I removed the convertible top as one complete assembly and stored it in the attic.
I removed the carpet. The floor has rust issues and holes that did not come from the factory. It had been repaired before with sheet metal and rivets. I did not anticipate the rockers being rusted out. Both rocker panels will have to be replaced.
[IMG]dfb 26 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 27 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 29 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 30 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The windshield header molding is rusted. The windshield frame was ok. Look how tight the stainless steel trim is supposed to fit.
[IMG]dfb 36 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Another nest was found behind the glove compartment.
[IMG]dfb 38 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 39 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I laid a towel on the floor so the rust won’t give me lockjaw. I removed the dash, gauges, heater assembly.
[IMG]dfb 40 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

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post #9 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 17, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Disassembly Part 2

Overall the wiring harness was in excellent shape. The only splice were the taillights. The plugs did not crumble when I took them apart and the wire’s insulation was not cracked. I marked the plugs with either tape or little note tags with strings. The note tags were bought at a Staples store. They provided a description and location of the item. The bolts were put in used Zip Lock bags. The fuse block was rusted.
[IMG]dfb 41 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 42 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 65 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 66 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

As I took the car apart, rust would fall off of the car. At the end of the day, I would sweep up maybe a half gallon of rust. This went on for months.
[IMG]dfb 45 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I took photographs of the car to show how everything fits together. This later proved to be valuable. The deck lid torsion bar is an example of a valuable photograph.
[IMG]dfb 46 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 47 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 49 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 50 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 135 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 134 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I removed the front nose piece that the headlights mount into. I kept the assembly as one great big piece so I would not have to remember how it fits together in the future. I mounted it on the wall.
[IMG]dfb 117 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 120 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 146 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

A convertible car has a rain gutter that is under the cloth top. Mine was broken and repaired with duct tape.
[IMG]dfb 130 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I removed the windshield and the fenders.
[IMG]dfb 138 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

There are two secret VIN numbers on the car. One is under the heater blower motor and the other is on the cowl panel. Both numbers matched the VIN serial number on the dash. The red/white arrows show the locations.
[IMG]dfb 139b by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

When I removed the windshield washer motor there was a rust hole under it.
[IMG]dfb 105 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The outer cowl panels need to be replaced due to rust.
[IMG]dfb 92 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]dfb 94 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]


I removed the doors and left the window assembly intact. The door will protect the glass during storage. I removed the steering wheel. I striped the car completely. The subframe is still mounted on the car with the engine and transmission. The rear end and leaf springs are still on the car.


I ordered the large sheet metal parts for my car from Bel Air Bobs. He used to be very active on this forum. His shipment came on three pallets.
Below are items I bought from Mr. Bob on the initial order. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the parts that I bought. This spreadsheet is valuable. I will order small parts that I won’t need for a long time so that I can get a discount on the overall order. The spreadsheet has the item and its location in the garage. This list has saved me a few times from ordering the same part twice. Do you know which box your bumper bolts are stored? Where is this box?

FIREWALL COMPLETE ASSY NO HEATER
DASH PANEL WITH VIN HOLE
TRUNK FLOOR COMPLETE
DOOR ASSEMBLY LEFT
DOOR ASSEMBLY RIGHT
FLOOR PAN COMPLETE
ROCKER PANEL RIGHT
ROCKER PANEL LEFT
RADIATOR SUPPORT
CONVERTIBLE HEADER BOW
REAR BUMPER
FRONT VALANCE PANEL
INNER FENDER LEFT
INNER FENDER RIGHT
FRONT DOOR JAMB PATCHES PAIR
BATTERY TRAY
WHEELHOUSE INNNER/OUT 15.25" RIGHT
WHEELHOUSE INNERN/OUT 15.25" LEFT
QUARTER PANEL LEFT
QUARTER PANEL RIGHT
TAIL PANEL
OUTER SIDE COWL PANEL ASSEMBLY LEFT
OUTER SIDE COWL PANEL ASSEMBLY RIGHT

I ordered the smaller parts from Classic Industries. They used to offer 20% discount plus free shipping for orders over $1000.00. They don’t do that anymore.


I learned that there are a lot of small parts that need to be ordered to supplement the installation of a larger part. Here are some examples:
1. A complete floor pan
a. Needs (2) Bucket seat mounts.
b. Convertible long brace that goes from rocker to rocker
c. Convertible short braces (2) that are “L” shaped
d. Convertible oval shaped pans that weld to the floor and firewall
e. Floor pan oval shaped plugs
2. Tail panel
a. Inner valance
3. Quarter panel
a. Trunk drop off
b. Outer wheel house
c. Deck lid weather strip channels
d. Deck filler panel
e. Wheel molding
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post #10 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 17, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Unibody Jig Construction and Modifications Part One

My car needed a complete restoration. I have read the other build projects on this forum. The other builders constructed some sort of steel or wood frame to hold the car together while parts are being replaced.
There seems to be a trait that is common to many of the build threads. The builder strips the car down and then starts cutting parts off the car. Then he realizes that extra bracing is needed when a part is removed. So, he starts to add some reinforcement. Sometimes the builder eventually realizes that a full body jig is needed for the project.

I understand this thought process. The new owner is excited about his new toy and he might not want to admit to himself he bought a rust bucket. Buying plans for a jig, buying steel, and constructing a jig takes time and money away from the car. The construction of the jig can be intimidating. I assumed the jig must be perfect. Everything must be straight and level and all the measurements must be exact. I never built anything with that level of precision in my garage. The jig is supposed to be temporary. What does one do with it when the car is finished?

These arguments are stupid. I knew my car was a hunk of junk when I bought it there is no need to be in denial. I paid $70.00 for the plans, the steel cost me $170.84. The castors were free in my case. My jig cost about $250 dollars. That is a drop in a bucket on what I will ultimately spend on the car to restore it. The jig saved me time in the restoration of the car. When I cut and removed a piece off the car, nothing moved. For example, I don’t have to worry about the “A” pillar moving and the ultimately the door will not close. If a reproduction part is not manufactured properly, I know the problem was with that piece and not the rest of the car. Welding the jig was a great learning experience. It is much easier to learn to weld thick metal. Later, as my welding skills improved I could weld thin metal. I would have blown holes in the thin sheet metal if I first started learning to weld on the body of the car. I made my jig with square tubing, a welder, tape measure, framing square, and a level. The jig was built to an acceptable level of precision with these simple tools. What should I do when the car is finished? Buy another car and rebuild it.

I chose to buy the set of instructions from Joe Amidio. He now has a website
Home

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 to roll the jig under the body. Mr. Amidio’s 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. I had removed 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 subframe with the engine and transmission still bolted to it and the rear axle installed. The next thing I needed was a lot of space. I needed 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 8” x 4”) The length and width of the frame was about five feet by three feet. I fabricated some wooden blocks for spacers to give the floor jacks and jack stands more height. They would not lift the body high enough by themselves.

I slid the wooden frame under the car behind the front clip. I have a hydraulic floor jack and I borrowed another one. I put them under the wooden frame on the narrow sides. I chained my engine hoist to the rear bumper mounting holes. The engine hoist kept the body from tilting since the back is heavy. I jacked up the floor jacks and engine hoist just enough to put tension on the front clip. I installed four jack stands under the rocker panels to make sure nothing falls. I removed one of the floor jacks and installed it under the transmission pan. I put a board between the jack and transmission pan to distribute the weight. I removed the four subframe mounting bolts. The body moved up when the last bolt is removed since the jack stands are pushing the body upward. The floor jack under the transmission and the car’s two front wheels form a tricycle and the front clip can be rolled forward out of the way. I put a wooden block under the transmission cross member and removed the floor jack. I repositioned the floor jack under the wooden frame. Now it is time to go higher with the body.

The four jack stands that were under the rockers were raised up a notch each time it is possible. If something went wrong, hopefully the jack stands will prevent the body from falling. I removed 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. I continued to raise the car. I rolled the axle out of the way when I got the car high enough. I removed the leaf springs (with a cutting torch). Nothing is left of the car but the unibody. I continued to raise the car. When I got the car high enough, I rolled the jig under the car. The body must 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.

I bought my neighbors supper who helped me. I brought my woman out to show her what I accomplished.

The photos in this post are not in chronological order. I decided to show the jig and the modifications to the jig at the beginning of this thread and have it all in one post.

Below is the only photo of my jig without the car mounted. The two wooden blocks on the right are used to raise the jack stands higher.
[IMG]JIG 1 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I decided to buy the Joe Armidio plans because his design uses guide pins to locate the front subframe mounts in the firewall and the rear frame rails. The guide pins on the firewall mounts are ½” bolts that go through the 5/8” cage nut. The first photo shows a nut and flat washer holding the firewall to the jig. It is hard to see on the second photo but the guide pin is inserted in the guide hole on the frame rail. You can see it by looking through the square hole where the cage nut is hanging. Many jig designs do not precisely locate these alignment points. Instead they might have a horizontal tube that the frame rails rests. The frame rails can just slide around on the tube.
[IMG]JIG 2 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 3 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The jig has two more posts that the rear subframe mounts can screw onto. The posts have a nut welded onto a plate. I used a ½” bolt to fasten the rear subframe mounts to the floor pan. There are two more posts that support the frame rails near the tail panel.
[IMG]JIG 5 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 4 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

There is a removable bracket that screws into the “A” pillar nut that holds the bottom of the fender to the car.
[IMG]JIG 6 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

There is another removable assembly that bolts onto the cowl panel.
[IMG]JIG 20 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

All of this is a very good design. I added extra bracing and a few minor modifications to the jig. I made the changes because my unibody was badly rusted and the convertible needed extra bracing. In this thread, I will show the changes and try to explain why I added the extra bracing.

The first bracing I added was a triangle shaped tubing that connected the A pillar to the windshield to the B pillar. I added the tubing because the rocker was going to be replaced, the floor was rotten, and the firewall was rusted. I was afraid the windshield frame would move when I started cutting the old metal out. I made a mistake of spot welding the tubing to the outside of the unibody. I found out later that my doors would not fit because the tubing was in the way. I had to break the welds and move the tubing to the inside of the car so my doors would close. The three red arrows show my mistake in the photo below.
[IMG]JIG 7A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 8 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 9 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I added a horizontal brace to tie the two triangle tubing pieces together at the back of the car. A yellow strap is wrapped around the brace in the photo below.
[IMG]JIG 9A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I added some “C” shaped tubing that connected the triangle brace to the jigs frame. I added this tubing because there was nothing left of the bottom of the B pillars. This helped hold the B pillar in place while I replaced the rocker and floor. This brace is removable if needed.
[IMG]JIG 10 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 11 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 13 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick
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post #11 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 17, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Unibody Jig Construction and Modifications Part Two

The basic jig design really does not have any alignment points if the rockers are going to be replaced. The convertible rockers were large and heavy. I welded a small piece of metal to support the bottom of the rocker. The metal is fastened to the jigs vertical pillar. This little piece helped me align the front part of the rocker to the right height. The length of the piece was cut so that the edge was just barely long enough to support the rocker. This helped me adjust the width of the rocker so that it was not too far inward or too far out. The little bar provided a much-needed pivot point so I did not have to bear hug the rocker in place. I would rest the front of the rocker on the metal piece and then pick up the back end of the rocker to get it in place. It also provided an alignment point when I replaced the firewall.
[IMG]JIG 26 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 27 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 28 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The rocker was also held into position with another bracket that bolts to the seat belt mounting hole. This bracket located the rocker in exactly the same position as the old one. I had to cut the floor to be able to use it. This could be a problem if someone is changing the rockers and keeping the original floor. In my case, I was going to replace the floor anyway. The bracket is inserted into a square tube that is welded to the jig. It is removable.
[IMG]JIG 14A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 15 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 16 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 17 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I welded some tubing at the rear of the rocker to support it. The top of the tube had a captive nut welded to the tube. A bolt was screwed into the assembly to support the bottom of the rocker. It only adjusted the height of the rocker. It did not align the rocker laterally. The bottom of the rocker is at an angle so the flat washer that was welded to the bolt only touched the edge of the rocker. Its use was very limited.
[IMG]JIG 18 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I made and extra bracket that bolted to the jigs A pillar removable support and went up to the top door hinge bracket. Look at the first photo below. The new rocker is not welded to anything. The front part of the floor is gone. You can see daylight through the rust holes in the cowl panel. The firewall is missing. Being a convertible there was no roof to help support the A pillar. The original First Gen cowl bracket might be able to support this area. I had to remove the First Gen cowl bracket to slip the firewall in place. This bracket just made sure the A pillar and related parts did not fall down when I remove the First Gen cowl bracket.
[IMG]JIG 31 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 32 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 33 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 34 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 35 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 36 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 37 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 38 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 39 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick
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post #12 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 17, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Unibody Jig Construction and Modifications Part Three

When I replaced the firewall, I really did not want to remove the cowl support brackets. The problem was that if I did not remove the bracket, they blocked me from getting the firewall in place. I cut the top horizontal bar off and welded two brackets to it. The top bar now uses bolts to hold it in place. The bolts make it easy to remove. I cut the driver side vertical bar. I welded two plates where I cut it and now this bar is bolted together in the middle. This modification allowed me to remove the driver side bracket and slip the firewall in place.
[IMG]JIG 21 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 22 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 23 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 24 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 25 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The First Gens cowl bracket assembly is removable. The tubing fits inside the larger tube that is welded to the frame. Over time, the two tubes stick together. I welded a small scrap tube to the assembly. This is where I hit it with a hammer. The scrap tube prevents me from bending the assembly when I bang on it with a hammer.
[IMG]JIG 29 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

There was nothing left to support the back of the car when I cut out the floor, frame rails, and trunk pan. I had to add some extra bracing to support the back end of the car.

I made two vertical supports that bolt to the jigs frame and holds up what was left of the rear of the car. The top part of the vertical support fits into the deck filler panel. A short horizontal tube is bolted to the top of the vertical support. The other end of the short horizontal tube is bolted to another long horizontal bar. The long horizontal bar is welded to the edges of the car. The long bar is used to keep the back end of the car metal from moving laterally. The top horizontal bar also provided a reference point for the backseat brace.
[IMG]JIG 40 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 41 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 42 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 44A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 45 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 48 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 58 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The vertical support sticks through the trunk pan drain holes. The top horizontal tube had to be bolted together so that it can be removed. If I welded the two pieces together, I would not be able to remove the vertical support through the drain holes.
[IMG]JIG 52 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 47 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 49 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 50 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 57 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The tubing had white paint marks so that it can be removed and reinstalled exactly in the same position.
[IMG]JIG 50A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 51a by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick
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post #13 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 17, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Firebird Unibody Jig Construction and Modifications Part Four

I wanted to install the rear suspension while the body was still on the jig. The First Gen jig bracket that fastens to the front of the frame rail prevented me from installing the front leaf spring brackets. I cut the bracket tubes and removed it.
[IMG]JIG 60 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I welded two ½” nuts to a plate. I welded this plate to the bracket that I previously removed.
[IMG]JIG 61 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 62 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 63 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I welded two more plates to cover the tubing that was left on the jig after cutting. The plates have 1/2” holes drilled into them. Two bolts go through these plates and are screwed into the welded nuts on the bracket. All of plates are 3/16” thick.
[IMG]JIG 64 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG]JIG 65 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Now this bracket is removable. I wish I had done this modification when I built the jig. You are going to need to do this if you plan to install the rear suspension while the body is on the jig.
[IMG]JIG 66 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I never did this modification so that I can rotate the car on its side. The wood is just a template. Google “tip over jig” for examples. This jig could become a rotisserie.
[IMG]JIG 78 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The jig plans show a wire that travels along the centerline of the jig. The centerline is a good reference point. Unfortunately, the wire would get in the way if I was working under the car. I wrapped yellow electrical tape on each horizonal beam at the centerline of the car. The electrical tape is impervious to sandblasting. I also used it to mark the removable brackets.
[IMG]JIG 70A by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 71 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The jig can be easily elevated. I used six jack stands and placed them near the castors.
[IMG]JIG 75 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]JIG 76 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick
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post #14 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 17, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Removal of the Driver Side Rocker Panel

Now that I got the body on the jig, where do I start? I circled the car for days looking at it. I decided not to cut the panels where the jig mounting points are located. I would replace something outside of the twelve mounting points.

The driver rocker panel was in bad shape. It was almost completely rusted away from the floor pan. It was still connected at the A pillar location. The B pillar was rusted away. Therefore, I decided to attack this piece first. The first photo shows the A pillar rusted. The metal plate with the two screws are the beginning of the jig brace that will ultimately connect the jig to the upper door hinge bracket.
[IMG]driver rocker 1 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 2 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 3 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 4 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 5 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I cut out the driver side rocker. I cut part of the quarter panel to see how the rocker was connected in this area.
[IMG]driver rocker 6 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 7 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The front part I just cut it out in big chunks. All the surrounding metal will have to be replaced.
[IMG]driver rocker 8 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 9 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

There is no good metal in the “B” pillar.
[IMG]driver rocker 10 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 11 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I mounted the new rocker on the jig braces. There is nothing on the car that is worth welding to my new rocker.
[IMG]driver rocker 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 13 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 14 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 15 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 16 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 17 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]driver rocker 18 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I am going to have to fix something else before I can weld the rocker in place.

Patrick
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post #15 of 301 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 17, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1969 firebird convertible with photos

Repair of the Driver Side “A” Pillar Part One.

The A pillar is rotten where it connected to the rocker. I ordered a patch panel from Bel Air Bobs.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 1 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

The patch panel looks good. The fender bolt at the bottom of the panel is smaller than original. There is a large gap between the rocker and the patch panel’s lip. I will have to trim some metal from the patch panel to close the gap.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 2 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 3 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 4 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 5 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Here is my dilemma. Where do I cut the original A pillar? I studied other people on this forum build threads. Most of them cut the original metal where it meets the end of the patch panel. They used the entire patch panel. I was afraid that I might accidently cut off too much metal. Then I would have a big gaping hole between the patch panel and the original metal.

I decided to make my cut under the top hinge mounting holes. Here are my reasons: If I cut too much of the original metal, I would have to order another patch panel. I would be out of $60.00 but I will not have to deal with gaping hole I created on my “A” pillar. This location might have a little more strength because the hinge mounting plate will be plug welded above and below the patch panel’s butt joint. The door hinge will partially hide the weld joint if it looks bad.

The black line is the top of the patch panel. The white line is where I will cut the original metal.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 7 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 8 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 9 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Years later after I installed the patch panel, I had to enlarge the hinge mounting holes to align the door. I noticed that the patch panel holes were a little off from the original when I rewrote this build thread. I should have matched the holes when I installed the patch panel. The photo below show the upper holes. The bottom ones were also off.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 10 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I put white electrical tape on the patch panel along the line where I will make the cut.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 11 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

This is how not to align the patch panel. There are too many clamps! I learned to use the hinge mounting plate that mounts behind the pillar to pull the flat pieces of the metal in alignment. This will align the middle of the butt weld. The outer bends can be aligned with clamps. At this point, the hinge backing plate has been removed. I sandblasted it and the sandblasted the inside of the remaining part of the “A” pillar and painted it.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 12 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 13 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 14 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

I used some of the discarded metal that I cut off the patch panel to make a reinforcement plate. I welded the plate behind the butt joint. Surface rust appeared just one day after sand blasting.
[IMG]DAPILLAR 15 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 16 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 17 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 18 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]DAPILLAR 19 by Patrick Smith, on Flickr[/IMG]

Patrick
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