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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting a build thread to document the restoration and build of my 1968 Camaro I am calling, "Project Penny Pincher". The name came from my wife's idea when I was asking for help thinking of a project name. The end goal is for the car to be a deep copper color, while also keeping the car on a pretty tight project. I will give her full credit because hey, she's pretty creative.

Some of you may remember a few years back when I started a build here that documented my 1976 Trans Am while I was installing an LS1 and 6 speed. I sold it a few years ago to help offset some of my student loan debt. I don't regret paying down the debt, but I do really miss driving a cool car! During the restoration process I learned to have a tremendous amount of patience, but probably most crucial thing I learned was the importance of setting goals and sticking to them. I think that most people can appreciate being on a budget and my car will be the same way and will be done in stages. I am however, going to always be mindful of future upgrades and am not afraid to spend the money where it counts.

The end goal for this car will be an LSx powerplant with 6 speed manual transmission. I want the car to be a deep copper color, with subtle black accents. I also want the car to perform, and handle just like a newer sports car. Unless I can score a smoking deal on an aftermarket front sub-frame, I will be keeping the stocker with upgraded suspension, coilover's, solid body mounts, and etc. The car will likely never be a competitive road course car, but will see a lot of street time. I want it to be comfortable for my wife and my young son (7 1/2 months old). So yes, this car will be getting a "racing" infant seat.

This whole project started when I bought the car from my wife's grandfather who has had the car for around 10 years. It mostly just sat in a garage, with the exception of having a driver's side rocker panel and a pair of quarter skins installed. We negotiated a price, and I brought the car home on 12/12/15. And so my project begins. It is desperately in need of a restoration with some poor attempts at body panel replacement needing to be addressed. The biggest parts that need to be finished are all 4 floor pans, trunk pan, front and rear window channels and replacing the passenger side rocker panel. There are a few other small patches here and there, but overall it's a great foundation for what I am looking to build. Here are some of the pictures from the day I brought the car home.























What's even more amazing is the car came with the original Protect-o-Plate!



For those wondering, it is a plain Jane 6 cylinder originally. So my drivetrain will be a huge improvement!



I am really hoping to have all of the rust repaired and the body in epoxy primer by the end of May 2016. May be a bit ambitious considering I am only working on the car a few hours a week, but I need to set goals for myself.

Thanks for looking,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #2
After having the car for a few weeks and assessed what I needed, I finally got to to work on these floor pans. If the car didn't come with the floor pans already I would have just sprung for a full floor pan from AMD, but since I already have the pans it just costs me time... It had been a while since I had done any welding, so I started with the easier of the 4 floor pans to get my feet wet again. Nothing overly complicated, just a ton of butt welding and grinding. When I first got the car the floor pans were basically set in and tacked, which was apparently how the car was driven for a while. Oh brother.

I took all of 5 minutes to cut off the tack welds and starting fitting it to the floors for the better repair.







Those little clamps sure come in handy!



Once it was ground smooth, I spread a little seam sealer for safe measure. Once I finish with all the floor pans I will cut out the plugs and replace with new.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Once the driver's rear was done, I felt confident in my welding again and tackled the most difficult floor... the driver's side. At first it didn't look too bad, but once I started digging around with the sub-frame removed, it was much worse...







Since the front sub-frame mounts were toast at the bottom, I decided to buy some reproduction parts and splice them into the solid parts of the body. Trying to keep as much of the original body as possible.



This is the patch panel that came with the car. Since it was a one piece and the factory has two pieces where the toe board meets the floor I decided to cut it in half and splice together so it looked more original.



Here is the damage that I found once I got the previous repairs removed. Somewhere along the way someone had brazed in some panels, that I removed. The brazed panels pre-dated the previous owner, and were done fairly well. Despite this fact, I didn't like the way it looked and cut it out. Here is the carnage.



New torque box/body mount panel test fitted.





And here it is burned in.







And the toe board.







 

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Discussion Starter #4
Once the toe board and inner panels were repaired, I moved on to the floor pan. I didn't get any pictures as I was trimming the floor pan, but this is what happens your jig saw hits a can of primer, haha.







After that excitement I moved onto finishing the floor pan install.





And driver's side floor pan done!



I started to list out some of the major tasks that I have to do, and will slowly cross them off of the list. Hopefully this will keep me on track.



I also went with my dad last weekend and picked up this rotisserie for a steal. I'm going to put a fresh coat of paint on it and get the Camaro on it. I need to install the trunk pans and this will make it much easier to weld.



That brings me to where I am currently. I am really hoping to push and get this body rust free and in epoxy primer by May 31st.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This will be the drivetrain for this car. It is a 01 LQ4 6.0 from a 2500 Chevy pickup with around 130k miles. I got it with the intentions of rebuilding as it had an initial knock that would go away when driving. More on that later. I plan to build an engine run stand to make sure it's sound before I install it in the Camaro. Here it is when I got it.



Stripped it down to what I will be using.







The pictures make it look much worse, but there are no ridges or scoring. Everything seems tight and I am going to chance it and try and run it as is.





And here it is today waiting for me to get further along with the build on my Camaro.



I got a smoking deal on these Fbody accessories with under drive pulley and stainless bolt kit. $210 shipped!





Had to drill the lower boss for the low mount alternator.





Here is the accessories roughly mocked up.



And here is the reason that I am leaning towards the engine being sound. This two piece flywheel may have been causing a little sound!





And the transmission that I will be running is a 1998 Borg Warner T56, that was swapped out for a guy who was upgrading to a trans that will handle 1000 hp from his turbo LS!





Just pulled the tail shaft to make sure everything looked ok. No shavings or anything that looked unusual.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's time to take this build to the next stage. My dad's buddy gave us a killer deal on this rotisserie, just needed a little paint. I'm hoping to build the mounts for it this weekend, and possibly get my car on it. The rotisserie will make welding on the car so much easier.

Before:



During:







After:



The paint turned out ok, but there are a few runs. I'm not too concerned since it looks 10x's better than before. If anyone has any advice once my car is up on the rotisserie, they would be well received. The only experience I have with them is what I have read.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I got a little more done on the floor pans/ front torque box this weekend.





Don't pay attention to the rust around my work area, it will be addressed all at once. When the car gets on the rotisserie I am going to clean up and spray everything at once for a uniform look.





I didn't get any pictures, but I have partially installed the toe board. I had some fitment issues at first, but got that all straightened out. Just need to finish up the spot welds and then I can get the pan installed.

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I was able to get into the garage yesterday to get some work done. The toe board on the passenger's side gave me a lot more trouble than I was hoping, as I kept burning through no matter what settings I put on my MIG welder... Anyway after I got the panel to a point where I was happy, I called it done. Primed and painted it.



I ground down the really large high spots, but I am going to leave the welds for strength. I don't want to grind them smooth and end up with a weak spot.



Here is the floor pan, that I have test fit and is very close to burning it to the body.



That's it for today's update. I'm hoping to have the floor pans completely done within the next few weeks. I think that if I can keep up this pace, the car will have the rust completely repaired by May 31st.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quick mid-week update. Since it is a process for me to get out in the garage to fire up the welder and grinder, I thought I would start on some other items that have been bouncing around in my mind. After much research and great past experience with GM fuel pump assemblies, I decided that the best bet for my fuel system was to source a 5th Gen Fbody pump. They are much shorter than the 4th gen pumps(meaning that it will fit in a stock 1st gen tank), and can support well above 400 hp, and don't require any baffling, so for me that is a win-win-win! After talking with Carl at Vaporworx, I bought his kit to modify the stock assembly to run constant, vs. in stock form that would require a PWM.

So after searching around for my tank options and keeping my budget in mind, I have decided to modify my stock tank rather than the stamped Rick's tank that is all set up for the 5th Gen pump assembly. The tank that came in my car has been replaced somewhere along the line and is in very good condition rust wise. So the plan is for me to add a recessed panel into the front sump of the fuel tank, and add a factory style fuel pump mounting ring for OEM reliablity.

Here is what I am starting with. It is a 2011 SS Camaro Fuel pump assembly from a 53k mile car. I scored this on ebay for $59 bucks free shipping! Later, I will show how to modify the pump with the Vaporworx kit.



With a little research and looking around at different tanks, I found that the tank from a '07 Colorado has the same exact mounting ring dimensions as my LS3 pump. After a quick trip to the pick-a-part, my sawzall make quick work to get this little guy out!



After sketching out some dimensions and seeing what would work with this pump and the mounting ring, I had my game plan.



I wanted to get the mounting ring as round as I could, so with some "engineering", I was able to come up with this method. I was using the inner circle as my template, and fixed my grinder into position. It worked great!





Next up was getting the gasket surface as flat as I could. After giving this some more thought, I decided to use a similar method. I used my phone's level, and got the grinder perfectly level both side to side and front to back. I mounted it in place, and slowly worked the surface. Since I am going to use a Viton(r) gasket, it should take up some of the imperfections that this surface has. Overall, I was very pleased with the results from my makeshift methods... or whatever you want to call it.







And the final result.





For the final installation, it will have a Viton(R) gasket sealed up between it and the recessed panel I will be putting on my fuel tank. I will make a ring that will fit inside the tank that will bolt everything down.

That's all for now.

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Got some time in the garage last night. Finished up the Passenger's side install of the floor pan and got it painted up. The paint was still a little wet, so it will get even more flat once it's dry.







Making progress and crossing things off of my list!



Ryan
 

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It's been a few weeks with little progress on the car. I haven been working to get the mounts made for the rotisserie. I decided to make my own mounts for the rear leaf springs for the rotisserie rather than purchasing them through the various other companies that sell them. Here is the car with the front end mounted to the rotisserie:





Here is the rear mounts that I am working on. I would have finished, but ran out of MIG wire.





Here is one of my better welds. Not perfect, but I have been working on the appearance of the welds as well as the quality.



I also bought the materials for the recessed panel that I am making for the fuel pump and sending unit. I will be making a panel similar to the one that Rick's offers on their tanks. It may not look like much, but I think it will come together nicely when it's finished.



All for now.

Ryan
 

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Well after a few weekends of working (only a few hours each weekend), I was finally able to get the mounts built and installed on the rotisserie. The body bolted up very nicely, and I was able to test out the rotation. I was debating whether or not to even put my car on it as I was mostly done with the welding on the floor pans, but what a difference it will make welding! I was very impressed with the ease of how it rotated with minimal effort. It is going to make welding on the bottom side of the car SO much easier. I am looking forward to getting back into the groove of burning in the floor pans for good!







Now that the rear end is out and I can get the car in better light, I was pleasantly surprised with the condition of the rest of the under body. The only rust that I found additional (which I already knew about from crawling under the car) was the very end of the frame rails on the driver's side. I think it was mostly due to the trailer hitch that was mounted to the frame rails at some point during it's life. I bet it was a towing machine with that I6 haha.







Just need to add this to the list of panels that I will need to replace. I hope to make more p
 

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I didn't take any pictures of the passenger side rear floor pan as it is just the same as the others. I am 85% finished with it, just have to finish some grinding and smoothing out of my welds. I got side tracked and decided to see what was going on with this passenger side rocker panel. I know that the previous owner added some "homemade" panels, but didn't think that they would be made of a very thin tin. I was able to easily bend it by hand...







How not to repair rocker panels 101

No updates for progress on the car this weekend. Instead, I went with my dad to Spring Carlisle like we do every year. I was able to score some nice pieces and negotiate some great prices. It was a nice break from welding and rust repair.

Here are some of the parts that I picked up.

Lightly used Right Stuff brake booster, with 1" bore master cylinder and brake clevis kit.





And a picture to get an idea of how high it will tilt in relation to the firewall. I may opt for the DSE bracket with the lower angle. I also test fit the clutch bracket for the T56 hydraulics. It should all work together nicely.





It is some forward thinking, but I found some of these Moser c-clip eliminator brackets at a vendor station, and it should be a good shim for the F-body LS1 rear brake swap.



Universal fuel level sender for my tank project. Brand new.



I had to buy them together, but got an LS6 valley cover and steam vent crossover. They look to be either new, or very lightly used.







Lastly, I picked up some RS reverse lights, some 67 RS tail lights, and an extra pair of bezels. They aren't in perfect shape, but would be good enough to run. Especially if they are tinted, or blacked out.







I know that some people will disagree that I shouldn't put the 67 tail lights on a 68, but I like the single 67 RS tail light look better than the double.

All for now. Hope to get some more repairs done in the next week.

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am finally done with the floor pans, and as they say hind sight is 20/20. I definitely should have just opted for a full floor pan rather than messing around with butt welding 4 full floor pans. I would have been much further ahead time wise. Live and learn I suppose. Here is a shot of the floor with a quick coat of primer to prevent any surface rust in the short term. Eventually it will be stripped and coated.



I got halfway done with stripping the floor pans of the undercoating and decided to change gears and work on the back half of the car. Next was to remove the trailer hitch mounts that someone very poorly welded to the frame. No surprise that upon removal I found more rust, but unfortunately it was a little more severe than I had originally anticipated. Shopping around for some replacement frame rail patches now.





Once I got both sides removed, I moved on to poorly patched trunk pan. Same deal with the floor pans, they crudely cut out the rusted panels and simply trimmed the panel, lap welded a few spot welds and called it a day... it took me 15 mins to cut the whole panel out. A few of the "spot welds" weren't even attached to the car!





Doesn't seem like a lot of progress, but I am glad to finally be done with the floor pans. I feel like I am now on the downside of the rust repairs.

All for now.

Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #15
No progress on the car this weekend, but I did get a lot of parts that I needed. Since discovering the rear frame rails needed some attention, I decided to wait to install the trunk pan until after the new rails are installed. I was scouring the internet, and came across an ad on eBay for a set of new/used frame rails. They are new and never installed, but have been sitting on a shelf for a long time. I picked the repair panels for $125 shipped. They should be here for next weekend.



I have been looking for a solid 12 bolt, and got a call from a friend who was able to pick one up. Now it was just a matter of negotiating a price. He offered it to me at a price that I couldn't turn down, so I now have my complete drivetrain. The rear is complete, but has the lazy wheel 2.43 gear ratio. I will likely swap that out before the car is on the road again, but having a functional rear end is better than not.









My dad recently upgraded to rear disk brakes on his 71 Chevelle, so he gave me the complete rear drums. I will eventually upgrade to the LS1 rear brakes, but until then, these will get me by.



He also upgraded his exhaust, and was getting rid of that too. I know that it's for a Chevelle, but I will be getting an X-Pipe kit and will use the rest of the exhaust to run together.



I did quite a bit of running around this weekend, but it's all for the greater good. I also realized that since I discovered the need for frame rail patches, that will delay my goal of a rust free shell by May 31st. I still think that I can have it all done early June, but time will tell.

Thanks for looking,

Ryan
 

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Another small update. I was able to get out in the garage for a few hours on both Friday and Saturday nights. No surprise, I found more rust. I decided that the best way to get to the rust around these braces, would be to remove the braces, patch the floor underneath, and then re-weld. It is time consuming, but much cheaper than replacement panels.

Here is the trunk after I cleaned up all of the welding slag from the previous bad repair.



Before I can start refitting the trunk patch panel, I had to address these rust pockets under the bumper braces. I had to go through the time consuming process of drilling spot welds, and salvaging this brace so that I could re-use it.





Maybe it was being sleep deprived or that I am just crazy, but after I drilled out these spot welds it kinda looks like the shape of Homer Simpson. Doh!



I cleaned up the bracket, but realized that I should wait to weld these until after I install the sections of rear frame. So I moved, on.



Here is the driver's side, with the same rust... I was a little more impatient with this side and got a little more excited with the air chisel.



Now, I am no professional fabricator by any stretch of the imaginination, but I was pretty impressed with how I shapped the patch panels on both sides to replicate the original. I used only a ball peen hammer and a 1" piece of flat steel that I have on my bench. That pocket is needed as the bumper bracket dips down into that area.



Just like the other side, I am just tacking the patch in place to wait for the replacement rails to be installed.





The replacement frame rail sections should be here today, so that will be on my agenda for next weekend. is getting both of those replaced so that I can continue moving forward. Looks like with the recent discoveries of the additional trunk panel rust and frame rail sections, my May 31st deadline will be far exceeded. Maybe by the end of summer, I will have the body into epoxy primer.

Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So for the next stage of this rust repair, I had to make some changes to my set-up. With the complexity of the rear frame rail repair, I didn't feel that the car would be best suited to stay on the rotisserie. I decided the best route would be to removed the rear rotisserie mounts, and prop up the rear of the car and support it on the solid parts of the frame rails. I wanted to get as close as I could to the solid portions of the frame, while also leaving some room for myself to work. I made sure to get the car as level as I possibly could, and I got it within .01 degrees.

It worked out great, now the hard part. Removing and replacing the rear frame rail sections...

I will take the picture later*

I didn't get any good pictures of what the frame rail looked like before, but here is the passenger's side for reference. The driver's side was in slightly better shape, but still Swiss cheese and needed replacing.



Now, I have been somewhat intimidated by this next repair, as I have never done anything like this before. I have had a lot of time to think about it, and watched what others have done in the past. My first thought was making sure that I was starting with a car that was square and true. After searching around the internet, I came across several schematics of what the measurements should be for my car. I used these to carefully measure and verify that everything was square. I then used this as a guide for when I welded in the new pieces.



My 4 1/2 grinder with cut off disks made quick work of this section of frame rail. To my surprise, it was even more rusted on the inside of the panel as well! I am now very glad that I took this step and replaced these rails. Here is what is left of the carnage.



One of the best tips that I picked up on while researching the best methods for this repair, was people would drill out the factory spot welds all the way through the trunk floor. What that does is acts as a guide template for the replacement rail. It worked great, as I was within a 1/4 inch on the first trial fit.



I only wanted to replace the sections that were bad, so that required cutting the rails in about half.



Here is one of the intial panel fitments. It fit great, and only required minor trimming to fit correctly.



The only real complaint I had about the panels was the rails were about 1/8" wider at the bottom than the factory rails. I bought them second hand on eBay so I am unsure of the brand. I also got them at half price, so I can't really complain either. After giving it some thought, I found a simple solution. I cut a small pie shaped section out of the bottom side rail and pinched it together. Once tacked with a spot weld, it fit just as it should.



I didn't get pictures as I was busy working away, but I used a small section of the rails that I cut off and put plates on the inside of the rails so I had a good guide and also made the repair a little stonger. I plug welded the plates to the factory rail and the replacement piece. Sorry for the picture, I didn't have the flash on.







Now that the frame rail was welded in, I could reinstall the rear bumper brace.



The driver's side rail was done enough for now. Once I reinstall the rotisserie, I can roll it over on the side so that I can get a flat weld on the sides of the frame rail. It is so much easier to weld on a flat surface that on your back!

Moving on to the passenger's side. Again, didn't get any pictures of the before, but you get the idea. Here is the picture with the rusted rail removed. I used the same technique to drill out the factory spot welds and use them as a guide for re-installation.





That was as far as I got this weekend. I was able to get out into the garage two nights as we had a long weekend with Memorial Day. With everything else in life being so busy, the only real time that I can sneak into the garage is after everyone else is sleeping. And when you are awake from 5am -9pm, then work in the garage from 9pm - 2am-ish, the next morning is rough when your toddler is waking you up at 5am. I can only do that once a week usually but with the long weekend I pushed for two days. Once the rust repairs are done it will be totally worth it. Until then, my weekends are fueled by coffee haha.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Not as much progress as last week, but still progressing forward. I finished the frame rails and am now working on installing the trunk

Here is what I didn't get a picture of when I installed the other rail. I added a reinforcement plate to the inside of the frame rail and plug welded on both pieces of the rails as well as butt welded it down the center. It helped tremendously on lining up the rails as well. They both fit in there very nicely, with minimal trimming. Very pleased with the install.



Shots of the rail being installed.





And the rail finished up. I still need to smooth out the side of the rail with a flap disk, but otherwise it is a very clean install. Very pleased with it and it has stiffened up the rear of the car more than I expected. Now that it's done, I am glad that I opted to replace rather than patch. As long as you take your time, the job really wasn't too bad, just a lot of measuring to make sure the fitment is spot on. My measurements were dead on both sides when I was done according to the diagrams I had.

I starting fitment on the trunk pan next. I am getting the hang of marking and trimming these panels now, so I am getting much quicker. You can see that I drilled out all of the holes for the braces to be spot welded to the fuel tank support rails. It was tedious, but well worth a quality repair.



And this is as far as I got at 2:30am.



Luckily our baby slept in until almost 7am, so that was a much better sleep than I was anticipating. He's usually up by 5am. All for now.

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Late update, but I was able to get into the garage for a few hours Friday night. Made more progress on getting the trunk installed. After all of the welding that I have done on this car, I am really starting to get a hang for getting the butt welds just the way that I want them with minimal grinding. Here are a few pictures.

I was able to get the replacement panel plug welded to the fuel tank supports.



Starting on one side and working my way to the other.



I couldn't help it, I had go break out the flap disk and see what it looked like. I was very happy with how smooth and almost invisible the repair appears! Very happy with my progress.



Here are some picture of the 90MM LS2 throttlebody. It is in really good condition and I got a great deal. Thanks Pro-Touring.com!!







I keep plugging away at the welding, and slowly keep purchasing parts that I am going to need in the future. Hopefully, I will intersect at a point in the not too distant future where I am finished with the rust repairs, and all of the parts I need to get the drivetrain installed.

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Not much to show, other than lots of welding. I was able to get another good section of the welding done, and am finally nearing the end of this fun.



I cut the rear section of the trunk pan a little too short, so I have to add a small section across the back side to fill it in.

.

I am going to get all of the welding done, then go through and grind it all flush. I was able to get a few more items crossed off the list of things To-Do. I am waiting to get all of the welding done before I make a new list.

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Ryan
 
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