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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before I begin I just want to sincerely thank all of you for the invaluable information and help you’ve provided me during this project. I’m mesmerized by the wealth of knowledge you all possess and grateful that you guys have shared it with me to help me along. Thank you all, I truly mean it.

I wanted to start this build thread to document and share the project of my 1969 Z28 that has been in the works for a very long time. The Camaro was built in Van Nuys in the second week of February, Fathom Green with green interior, and came from the factory with the Endura bumper which as I understand it was somewhat uncommon. Beyond that I don’t believe there were a lot of other unique things with this particular Camaro. As of August of 2021 I am the third owner. My uncle, who died last year, was the second owner since 1973. As much as I would love to talk about him he valued his privacy and always asked to keep his personal information off the internet, so I will honor his wishes and limit what I write about him. Maybe in the future I will share more.

One of the earliest photos I have, from 1974. Note the original flat hood.

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Unknown year. Has the hood swapped to a cowl hood and was painted a solid Fathom Green. Sure looks cool.
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My uncle and my dad, sometime around 1979 or 1980, photo taken by my mom.
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Here is the Z28 the day I took possession of it. It had been sitting in the same spot for 20 years, and had been more or less off the road for 30 years.
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The 302 had been swapped with a 327 block sometime around 1985, "to drive it around temporarily" while the 302 got rebuilt. Pieces of the 302 including the heads and intake and other bolt-on parts got swapped onto the 327. It ended up getting driven that way until, by my estimates, the late 1980's. The 327 ended up staying in the Camaro for almost 37 years until I pulled it.
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The original matching 302. Unfortunately not stored in ideal conditions. However it will be sent off for inspection and rebuild.
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Despite being slightly dismantled, the interior is in amazing shape. Some things had been replaced, maybe the headliner, but it is still very much clean and stock.
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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
My goal for the Z28 has several stages in it, but the ultimate intention is to bring it back to original, as much as I can and within reason. I realize I am not going to make this a show car, I neither have the ability, the time, or the resources to do so and quite frankly I want this to be something I can drive and not a museum piece that sits around. Its done plenty of that already.

The first stage was just to get it home (a monstrous feat within itself) and get it running if possible. I was able to do that, despite my limited skill, space, and equipment, and am proud I was able to do so, but eventually I wanted to move onto the next stage which was to pull the engine and transmission and have both rebuilt, and make a running car.

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Getting the 302 off the stand and onto a cradle to take it to the engine shop.
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The M21 (also matching) got sent off to a shop to get inspected and repaired. Needed a new 3rd gear assembly, syncros, cluster, torque lock slider and other parts. Took me a while to find a shop, most didn't want to touch manuals, especially older ones, and were even really rude about it for some reason.
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I don't have the original hood, but I still have the original header panel, stripes and all. I've been testing paint on the underside where it won't be seen to see whether I like it or not. Duplicolor engine enamel, low gloss black DE1634. Primed with Rustoleum Rust Reformer.
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I bought a portable sandblaster but not that happy with the results and the process. Also made an incredible mess. Ended up taking two boxes of parts to a local shop who quoted a reasonable price. I don't mind doing a couple parts again later when necessary but it would have taken forever to do and to clean up so having that done by someone else in the meantime is money well spent.
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I had sent the driveshaft off to a shop to get balanced and have them press in two new u-joints and needle bearings. It needed slight rebalancing but wasn't bad to begin with. The guy painted it without asking, I took pictures of the original markings the night before I dropped it off. It looks great but I wish he had asked beforehand.
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Long before I pulled the 327 I had installed all new brake lines, master cylinder and correct date rebuilt brake booster.
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You have a great looking Z. It appears that the body is in pretty nice shape so, if the case and if I owned it, I wouldn't go too crazy with a complete restoration. Imo a survivor condition type is more appealing - just put the 302 back in and enjoy it.
 

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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The firewall and other underhood paint is in pretty bad shape. Was painted at least once before, and splattered with something I can't identify.


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Surface rust everywhere. Unusual for a southern California car, especially one that spent much of its life in a garage, but it spent a lot of time on the coast.
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I'm testing primer on the firewall, VHT high temp primer. So far it seems like it's sticking well to everything.
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There was a lot of grease and road grime in the engine bay to say the least. This is after I spent a while just scraping it off with a putty knife.
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My empty shoebox with just what I scraped off.
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I ended up cleaning the engine bay by hand several times with brake cleaner, simple green, engine degreaser, and other cleaners and tools BEFORE pressure washing it twice. Still had to use wire wheels, sandpaper and cleaners to get surface rust and residual grease off. Here it is with one coat of VHT high temp primer. For now I'm doing the engine bay and will redo the suspension and steering later on as part of a different project.
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Some "before" and after pictures. I had already done some work before taking pictures and ended up wet sanding with CLR on the rusty areas. I used Rustoleum Rust Reformer and may prime over it with VHT for added protection.
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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The "original" steering box proved to be an issue. Like many things on the car, it apparently had been replaced at some point, likely when the 327 was installed if I had to guess. The rag joint was bent and toasted. I had replaced the extremely loose pitman arm prior, which helped steer the car in an actual direction, however there was still some slop that I figured I would correct by replacing the steering box and rag joint in the future (now) with. That and steering linkage when I end up getting to that point in the project.

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These look like numbers on a junkyard part. I believe it was originally off another '69 because of the stamp on the top and because the yellow letters from the junkyard indicate so. Despite it being correct, there was an issue with getting the steering wheel centered beforehand when I replaced the pitman arm. The "new" rebuilt box and new rag joint appear to have corrected that issue, for whatever reason. Maybe it was something internal to the junkyard box, that it was taken apart and put back together weird. I don't know enough about these things.
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I had help test-fitting the remanufactured steering box into place to see if it lined up and everything, then took it back down for additional cleanup and paint. I do not know when this box was manufactured, the date stamp up top is painted over. I actually have two remanufactured steering boxes to choose from. I may look closely at both to see which looks the best and if either have a correct (or correct-looking) date stamp up top. The junkyard '69 I may send off to get rebuilt and refurbished and set aside for a future project if I someday decide to make everything correct. Right now though my priority is get it back on the road and have fun with it.
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1969 Z28 Camaro X33 Tuxedo Black
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175 Posts
Good luck with your project and put the splash shields on before the engine goes in if you have any intentions of installing them. Especially, get the one under the brake booster. The others are manageable if the engine has been installed.
 

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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I decided to remove the radiator support to paint it rather than try to paint it in place. I should have removed it and the front clip before I pulled the motor, which would have made the removal easier and I would have had more pieces to take to the sandblaster. Oh well, at least now I can get more painted and have it all ready to put back in when the engine goes back in.


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Got primer on the firewall. Waiting for my paint to arrive in the mail. Someone mentioned the splash shields earlier, I’m just going to paint them and forget about them. It doesn’t hardly rain where I live and I don’t plan on driving the Z28 when it does so I’m not that concerned about them.

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Some things like the headlight housing were pretty dirty and will get cleaned up and painted also. I may have some replacement pieces because I got tons of brand new replacement hardware with the Camaro, for the restoration project that didn’t end up happening until now.
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The radiator support bushings were in terrible shape. Glad I’m replacing these soon as well as the other body bushings for the front end.
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Apparently the front license plate bracket was replaced with a GM replacement part at some point. It may be missing from an earlier photo, maybe a ticket or two caused it to return.
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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Had some problems with the engine bay paint I discussed in another thread. Ended up getting it sorted out, mostly.

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The front valence and front fender extensions needed some work. They had been repainted as the rest of the car had at one point, and were peppered with sand or gravel or something in the past. I removed them and the bumper brackets so I could strip the paint and undercoating off using paint stripper, a scraper, and various wire wheels. There was a bit of rust between the subframe and the bumper brackets also. The goal is to try and get as much of this done as necessary before the engine goes back in so I can button it all back up and look decent. The rest of the body work will be a separate project.

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I’m going to paint the back of the valence and fender extensions and just leave the front in primer for now.
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I had two replacement steering boxes to choose from. In a perfect world I would rebuild the junkyard 1969 box, and I may still, but I just chose the best looking remanufactured one and it will suffice for now. I also replaced the rag joint and I believe I finally corrected the offset steering wheel issue. The steering seems tighter, just testing it on jacks, seems centered as it should be and turns equally to each side, which I’m happy about. Any more slop in the steering will now be in the linkage somewhere, which I’ll work on later as a greater front end project that will include the front suspension, bushings, etc.
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1969 Z28
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Been getting ready to sort out the issues with the shifter. The linkage was reversed when I got the car, and the shifter itself is full of road grime. It's the original Competition Pro from the factory as far as I can tell. It worked when I drove the car, but was filthy. I've ordered replacement bushings and a rebuild kit. Meanwhile, I picked up a 10ga piece of steel and made myself a mounting plate so I could attach the transmission to my engine stand, which is a bit more civilized than having it roll around on the sawhorse/plywood temporary "workbench" I have set up for parts. I have limited space in my garage and have to work outside. Fortunately I have a yard with enough space to move things around.
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This is after pressure washing and lots of brake cleaner and solvent. I'll be taking it all apart and replacing worn parts.
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I've also been going along and painting different parts before they go back on the car. Some got sandblasted, others I stripped myself. I had a problem with a sandblasting company that I took some parts to, their equipment kept going down and they ended up having my stuff for a couple weeks, far longer than they told me it would take. They ended up only doing one box out of three I had dropped off, gave it all back apologetically and charged me nothing despite my insistence to pay for what they blasted, but they refused. So it took longer than I wanted but I got work done for free, and it was all the little stuff with weird angles that would have been harder to do myself.
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I've been assembling parts for when I send the 302 off to the engine shop, and realized the cam that was in the engine was an LT1, not the original 30 30. There is some argument that the LT1 is better, but since I'm trying to do an around-the-town-occasional-driver restoration and not building a race car I'd rather just put it all back to stock specs, as much as reasonably possible within time/money/logistical constraints. Maybe I'm an idiot but I had a hard time finding a 30 30 cam, or one built to original specs. I happened to find this Elgin E901P that was advertised as such and it looks like the numbers are the same. This is probably the wrong place to ask but if anyone thinks this is the right or wrong cam as a replacement for the factory cam, I'd love to know.
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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Finally got it all together and got the engine sent off to the shop. Hopefully good news that the block can be reused. Fingers crossed. Luckily the shop is close by. I wish I had done this sooner, they gave me a 4-week timeline, depending on parts availability.
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In the mean time I pulled the heater core out to replace it. It's the original, dated February of 1969 just like the car, and was full of rust and garbage. I took it to a radiator shop who cleaned it out and tested it and said it would hold pressure. They also touched up some soldering. Surprisingly it did not leak when I had it in the car and hooked up. I wanted to reuse it since it was original, but had two different replacements that came with the car, one stock-type and the other aluminum. The shop recommended against the aluminum one. I had both of those pressure tested as well. I tried to install the OE-style one but it would not fit so I installed the original with a new firewall gasket after cleaning out the box. Funny, there was leaves in there from a jacaranda tree that was out in front of my grandparent's house that no longer is there, where the Camaro used to be parked under. I know it's just trash but it reminds me of when I was a little kid, playing out there with my grandparents and it brings back fond memories.

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Anyway, taking out and reinstalling the heater core was an incredible feat. I'm still not even sure how I got it back in, magic or something. I'm glad I did it without taking off the fenders, which I probably should have done and just replaced the blower motor also. Someday I will regret that but for now I'm done dealing with it. If the original heater core ends up leaking I will just do a bypass and deal with it in the future during a future restoration. For now I'm trying to get this car back on the road. If it does end up leaking fortunately it doesn't really get that cold here and I almost never need defrost, and I don't plan on driving this car when it does so I'm not that concerned about it if there's an issue.
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I took the shifter apart and cleaned it all up and put it back together. My first time doing such a thing, seems like there's as many parts in the shifter itself than the transmission... maybe more.

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Mocking it up on the stand, getting the linkage set and testing it out. It will come off again for the install but should be set correctly. So far so good.
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The carriage bolt on the shifter had worn partway through. Unmarked, so probably grade 2, the replacement one is grade 8. I replaced a couple more parts in the shifter but most were reused. I did not take the two springs out, it cleaned up and I left it that way because I wasn't confident about getting it all back together if I did. It seems to work smoothly without doing so.
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The nut I got in the replacement parts without threads. Nice quality control these days.
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I'm slowly figuring things out and realized why I didn't have reverse lights, because the rod to the reverse lockout was missing. Yet another piece to track down, but I'm glad I figured it out and it's not electrical, which I'm terrible with.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I took the flywheel in to a nearby clutch shop which inspected and resurfaced it. They said the ring gear looked in really good shape. January 20th of '69 seems to be correct for a 2nd week of February car. $40 for a resurface is a lot better than buying a new one.

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I asked about these little cracks and the clutch shop said they're normal and being this size are nothing to worry about. Since I'm not going to race the car, street only, I'm not really worried.
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I haven't decided whether to paint the bellhousing or polish it up. I know that neither are correct in general since it was over sprayed, but this bellhousing had paint over the entirety of it. You can still see remnants up to where it connected to the transmission, I stripped off most of it already. In my second post in this thread you can see the entirely orange bellhousing. Maybe it was replaced at some point, not original to the car, but the GM part number is correct. I'm leaning toward polishing it so it looks raw.
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I'm a little annoyed, I ordered a resurfaced flywheel and brand new Delco pressure plate and clutch kit from Heartbeat City, who decided to never send the flywheel (but charged me for the shipping for it) and sent me this set from Sachs. According to the shop it is good quality but I wish these sellers would be forthright rather than just substituting something without asking. Had I known I would have just had the clutch shop rebuild the pressure plate I already had for less. I may still do that, but will decide later as the engine will be at the shop for a couple weeks anyway.
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The clutch shop also sold me a bronze pilot bushing, said it doesn't squeak like the steel one in the kit. I'll take their word for it.
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You mentioned the LT1 and the 30.30 cams. The original Z28 cams are not a street friendly cam. They are only happy when you are cranking out high rpm's. Something us old guys dealt with back in the day. I wouldn't want a stock built 302 for cruising and street driving purposes. But it's your call and you will be the one driving your Camaro. Things seem to be moving right along and doing them in stages is a wise decision. Gives you time for planning future steps while working on other areas. And it helps to control space and clutter. Good luck with your project.:)
 

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1969 Z28
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You mentioned the LT1 and the 30.30 cams. The original Z28 cams are not a street friendly cam. They are only happy when you are cranking out high rpm's. Something us old guys dealt with back in the day. I wouldn't want a stock built 302 for cruising and street driving purposes. But it's your call and you will be the one driving your Camaro. Things seem to be moving right along and doing them in stages is a wise decision. Gives you time for planning future steps while working on other areas. And it helps to control space and clutter. Good luck with your project.:)
Thank you. I’ve weighed the pros and cons of the cam situation in all sorts of scenarios and decided to try it stock. I understand it’s not very street friendly, and kind of just want the whole experience if you know what I mean.
 

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1969 Z28
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I hope you put the surfboard rack back on (y)
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I might have to find one just to take some new/old comparison pictures one day, even though I don’t surf or have that rack in the photo. I know the people who live in my grandparents old house now, guy has hot rods and rock crawlers, I’ll see if he’d let me take some photos when it’s “done”.
 

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Thank you. I’ve weighed the pros and cons of the cam situation in all sorts of scenarios and decided to try it stock. I understand it’s not very street friendly, and kind of just want the whole experience if you know what I mean.
I know exactly what you mean. It will definitely be a fun experience. I didn't mean to sound as though it was a bad choice, just letting you be aware of the in town driveability just in case you had never driven one before so you wouldn't be frustrated. You can always drop a gear if you need too.
 

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1969 Z28
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268 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm expecting the engine back probably next week, the shop updated me and said the engine block, the crank, and the heads looked good and could be reused. They were just waiting on parts but still on schedule. I'm quite excited and it finally actually seems real, like I may have it all back together someday soon.


I ended up painting the bellhousing orange. I know that the factory just did overspray on them but this particular one was painted completely orange. It is a correct part number and I don't think it was ever taken off and re-painted, so I don't know what the deal is. I also painted the fork and installed a new boot. I never could get the ball stud out but it looked fine so I left it. No point in destroying the bellhousing in the process. I used antisieze on it.

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Lots of little shrapnel damage inside the bellhousing. Apparently my uncle grenaded a clutch at some point, there were pieces everywhere inside.
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Been slowly painting parts when I get the opportunity. I sent off some additional parts to another sandblaster, hoping to get them back in the next couple days.
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I had two of these clutch linkage boots for the firewall. I chose the thicker of the two thinking it would be sturdier but the rod doesn't slide in and out easily, it kind of just holds on and crumples when the rod retracts into the firewall. Not sure if that's normal or not, if so I can see why these end up shredded.
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Apparently the soviets made Camaro parts. Only kidding.
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I have the original 4053 correct dated Holley. It is in pretty poor shape. The threads on both bowls where the fuel lines connect are stripped out, all the screw heads are stripped, it looks like it was dropped, messed around with, had pieces cut off, picked apart and left somewhere where it rusted. I'm not judging, but it's going to take a lot of effort to get it working again. The other carb that came on the 327, a 6619 that looks like it was cobbled together isn't amazing either, it leaks, the choke is frozen up, it's filthy and I don't know what was done to it. I'm thinking of buying a "close to stock" Holley (probably a 3310) and just using that for the time being while I attempt to restore the original, which will take a while, but it's the right thing to do.

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1969 Z28
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Got the parts back from the sandblaster, they did a decent enough job.

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The headers seem original and correctly dated. Not sure if I will coat them or leave them raw.
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The blaster left a texture as expected. I could have stripped it myself and it would have been smooth but oh well.
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I had some time today so I started painting the pieces I got back. Been slowly getting everything ready to put back together once I get the engine back.
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The original heat riser vs the spacer I ordered. Not sure which I'll use. It might not make much a difference because it doesn't get cold here. If anyone has any thoughts let me know.
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