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1968 Coupe; SS396; Muncie M20; Detroit TruTrac Diff/3.42R&P; Full Restoration nearly complete
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In December of 2020, we began a restoration of my Camaro, after owning it for 40 or so years. I provided a brief overview in the “New Member Introductions” area of this site, titled “Greetings to Camaro-lovers”, and I am moving to this section to relate the in-depth story of that restoration, for those who have an interest, or suggestions. The length of this story is substantial, especially if we include pictures, so I will be posting it now and then, in bite-size chunks, so to speak. Tonight, I am just going to write the Prologue, which provides both an overview of the project, and a list of the chapters of this “story.” We can leave it at that unless there is a desire by members to read about the voyage taken to transform a rust-heap into an amazing creation. Amazing to me, at least. The restoration should be complete soon, hopefully in January 2023 (fingers crossed). It has proceeded very slowly, for a number of reasons, but what has been done has been done right. So, I will start:

PROLOGUE
I bought my 1968 Camaro in the early 1980’s, and drove it as my daily car for six years or so. I named him “Ricky Camaro” in honor of all the hot-rodders of my youth, who we called “Ricky Racers”. He was a handsome car, as seen here, in a picture taken shortly after I purchased him:
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Car


Six or so years went by from the day he came into my life, and I flew to Alaska for a year or so of work. I stored my car in our fenced-in back yard where my wolf-hybrid pack of dogs lived, at the small farm where I grew up. I believed that their presence would make him substantially harder to steal (see my Avatar for the Dad Dog). Unfortunately, a ground squirrel took up residence in the engine compartment, and my wonder-dogs totally trashed the paint job while trying to dig their way into the car. Adjoining the Camaro script on the Grille Header, one of them actually bit the metal and dented it in:

Automotive lighting Hood Car Motor vehicle Vehicle


I shook my head, unable to be angry with them, and garaged the car. My intention was to restore the interior and give it a paint job. But then, life happened.

Years later, I retired and one day, in the summer of 2020, I realized the car should either be restored or sold. It was clear to me that my skill-set was inadequate to the task, and so Ricky would need to be placed in the hands of professionals. I asked my son whether he would rather get cash as part of his inheritance, or a 1968 SS-396 Camaro, and he answered that he always wanted to learn how to drive a stick. At the time, we lived in SW Washington State. I shopped around for a restoration shop, and ultimately settled on B&R Auto in Centralia, WA. I invited the two owners down to examine the car, and we ultimately reached an agreement to have their shop perform the tasks necessary to restore him to the street in fairly pristine condition. This would require replacing the non-original 327 with a 396 big block I already owned, rebuilding that 396, replacing the Saginaw tranny with a Muncie M20 I also owned, and performing some bodywork where we knew there was rust, including both rear quarters and the floor pan. That would essentially restore the car to its original configuration. Not numbers-matching, but equivalent equipage. The car would be painted, new vinyl on the roof, and the interior would be restored. Tires would be replaced on restored existing wheels, and the radiator would be changed to handle the larger motor. We agreed to a “Not to Exceed” of $50,000.00 and on October 21 of 2020, they showed up and took Ricky to their shop, while we loaded up our home and moved north to Whatcom County:

Tire Wheel Car Land vehicle Vehicle


In my discussion with Bryson and Riley, the owners, I made it very clear that I was more interested in quality than hurry, and it turns out they totally went with that. There were two results to their buy-in: One is the very extended amount of time it is taking to complete the project; the other is the extreme measures they take to restore a Camaro that is substantially superior to his original condition in 1968. In most essential ways, he still is configured in stock form, but there are a substantial number of improvements due both to modern improvements in materials and to decisions we made for near-invisible enhancements. In the process of restoration, they were continually confronted by instances where they could go with a restored old part, or choose to purchase a new part. They invariably chose replacement. Possibly this was more costly, but also, there must have been times when the cost of the new part was less than the labor would have been to restore the old. They stood by their pledge of NTE, but kept choosing replacement. The result is a Camaro that transcends ‘perfect’ and will always serve as a working advertisement for their enterprise.

Project Management is a discipline, a process developed to guide complex projects from beginning to end. A project is divided into phases, and each phase contains large tasks, accomplished by finishing a series of sub-tasks. Project Management teaches us that these tasks are bound by dependencies (“this task can’t start until that one finishes,” for instance), resources (supplies and labor) and timeline. My emphasis on “doing it right” rather than “doing it fast” lowered the value of timeline, and mostly allowed them to focus on dependencies and resources.
We determined that the major phases would fall in these areas:

Tear-down
Analysis to develop game plan
Body work on rotisserie
Sub-frame completion, including motor and tranny
Rear end restoration
Creating a Vehicle (roller)
Achieving first fire
Final body work
Final sub-contractor work
QA and resulting punchlist resolution
Final shakedown drive to turnover


After we had gotten past “Analysis” and “Game Plan”, the Body Shop would focus on the ‘body work’ phase, with cabin on rotisserie, while the Restoration Shop would commence work on the sub-systems of front sub-frame and rear end. Once these parallel phases were complete, the Cabin could be joined back together with Sub-frame and Rear End to become a ‘Roller’ and move onto completion.
 

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This sounds like its going to be a nice restoration..
I am currently doing the same to a 67 Camaro, except I am going to build it back as a 67 RS (I am fortunate to have the skill set and tools to do this myself), the car had to have major body panel replacement and RuSt, (Bad four letter word) so I turned it into a Rally Sport.
Do you have any plans on suspension upgrades, interior changes, etc etc or just going back stock??
As noted in the pic below, I am currently doing 2 projects, one of course is the 67 Camaro, with the other project in the background a 1970 Nova. The Camaro is being rebuilt for my daughter and the Nova is mine.
If you have any questions about the rebuild process feel free to ask, I have been rebuilding cars for the past 30 years and do everything myself.

Keep the updates coming ..
Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire
 

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If you post progress here several will follow along and you will be motivated to go check on the progress which IMO should keep the shop working on it. I hope it goes according to plans. Good Luck!

Jeff
 

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1968 Coupe; SS396; Muncie M20; Detroit TruTrac Diff/3.42R&P; Full Restoration nearly complete
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
OK. I'm going to depart a bit from my plan, and go ahead and post the first two parts of the Project Phase plan, shown earlier in Bold. Specifically, the Tear-Down and Analysis/Game Plan. That will help anyone who is interested to realize this was not going to be a simple project.

TEAR-DOWN
Once Ricky was staged, the process of removing body panels, interior, engine, front sub-frame and rear end began. The stripped-down cabin was then placed on a rotisserie. As they unbolted the front fenders, they found they were under tension, and once the bolts were removed, the panels sprang away from the framework attachment points where they belonged. A first indication that there were issues that had been hidden.

The demolition continued with removal of the front core support, various body panels and fender skirts. Eventually, the subframe, suspension and the engine were exposed. All interior components were removed, including headliner, sailboards, seats, carpet, and all dash components, including pad. These parts were set aside for later analysis to determine which parts would be restored and which would be replaced. Various exterior parts such as rear springs, brake lines, fuel lines and fuel tank were also removed and stored.

ANALYSIS
Inspection made it clear that this vehicle had been in a MAJOR accident prior to my purchase. Repairs had left it not only looking good, but with no handling aberrations throughout my years of use. Nevertheless, from a restoration standpoint, our initial inspection had missed a lot. There were even multiple penetrations of the firewall, including one that measured over 2” across, in the area where penetration would have probably impacted the accelerator pedal.

Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Bumper
OUCH!!!


This penetration had sheet metal bent at an angle that could only have resulted from penetration originating from the passenger-side front corner of the car. Since such a spear would have had to come through the 396 engine, it was now clear why the engine and tranny were not original. The control arms and brakes had also been replaced, possibly salvaged from a junkyard during a time when the car was still young.

The front sub-frame was no longer rectangular, but could at best be described as a parallelogram. It was clear that it would cost more to restore than to purchase a replacement.

There was now a need to fully evaluate the restoration process. The “good news” was as follows:
  • both doors were OK,
  • the roof was OK,
  • the trunk floor and taillight pan were fine,
  • the basic structure of the cabin was coherent,
  • most of the interior was fine.
  • The firewall was repairable,
  • windshield and rear window frames could be rebuilt
A decision was made that there was sufficient core vehicle to allow us to proceed. We therefore prepared a game plan. I decided that the car would be restored to essentially original configuration. That meant no fancy modern suspension, an interior that looked like it did when new, and relatively minor changes to the drive train. I did elect to retain the Centerline mags, reasoning that if I had bought the car new, I could have made that change right away. Also, I selected a Hurst shifter, even though that didn’t come along until 1969. I just like Hurst shifters. My toy, my joy. Regarding finish, I would retain the original Cordovan Maroon color, with black vinyl top, but not play the stripes game, as I liked the car without them. Finally, I decided I did not want huge horsepower from the 396, but would be happy at around 425HP. I’m getting old, and when I recently drove a modern Corvette, I learned that it was WAY faster than me.

Here, we compiled a list of what was needed. This list was periodically modified as decisions were made or remade. When handed to B&R Auto, much of the car was covered in bondo, with up to 1/2” on front fenders.
  • Examination of the cabin confirmed that the floor pan was rotten (easy to stick a screwdriver through virtually everywhere) and would need replacement, from bottom of firewall to front edge of trunk.
  • The seat supports that would be welded to that floor pan would also need to be replaced, with all seams sealed.
  • It was discovered that the rear deck lid and spoiler were also severely rusted and damaged (lots of bondo) and would need replacement rather than repair.
  • All four corners (fenders front and rear) would need to be replaced, along with front skirts and the passenger-side inner rear fender (i.e. the wheel well).
  • The metal channel required to support windshield and rear window glass was substantially rusted out and would need to be reconstructed.
  • The entire sub-frame was no longer rectangular or even close. It would be cheaper to replace than restore. Sub-frame, including control arms, springs, shocks, disc brakes and backing plates would need to be purchased and assembled.
  • A Red Hat brand fully reconditioned power steering box would be purchased and installed.
  • All steering linkage would be restored through to powder-coat.
  • The rear end would be fully restored, with the exception of axles, which were already near-new.
  • The ring and pinion would be replaced, along with Detroit True-trac limited-slip differential, backing plates and rear brakes.
  • The springs would be either restored or replaced
  • new shocks would be installed.
  • The drive-line would be restored, with new universal bearings.
  • Frame extenders would be installed to cabin floor and rear sub-frame, and to front sub-frame once installed, in order to reinforce cabin structure.
  • Initially the fuel tank was to be reconditioned, but it was ultimately decided to replace it along with all lines up to the engine fuel pump.
  • The engine would be farmed out to Britco, a professional performance engine shop. It would be fully rebuilt, to include
  • internal balance of all reciprocating parts,
  • blue-printed tolerances maintained,
  • fully reconditioned heads (including new valves, springs, guides, hardened seats, and roller rockers)
  • magnafluxed and reconditioned rods
  • new pistons, rings, and wrist pins
  • a new stage 4 cam, tappets and lifters,
  • a fluid balancer at engine front, to complete internal balance
  • new manifold and carb,
  • new HEI distributor (Accel)
  • new alternator
  • new water pump, oil pump, and fuel pump
  • new steel-tube headers (Hooker #2111-1 Super Competition)
  • new clutch and pressure plate,
  • new flywheel (also balanced)
These headers, while more expensive than the standard Hooker model, have a #5-cylinder tube that goes OVER the #7 tube, thus avoiding the power steering box.

Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Hood


The frame extenders were chosen in a weld-on configuration rather than bolt-on. This style of frame connector require a section be removed from the floor, with the connector then welded to that pan, the rear sub-frame in front of the front leaf spring perch, and eventually, the front sub-frame via inner and outer fish plates. This would substantially reinforce the ability of the unibody to resist the power of the big-block, which was working to damage it under hard acceleration.

Grey Automotive exterior Grille Bumper Automotive design


Finish would be addressed as follows:
  • Underside would be taken to bare metal, other than new pan, which would be already primed
  • Underside would then be coated with OSPHO rust converter, two coats of acid-etch primer, and a surface coat of pickup bed liner from bottom of firewall to rear of trunk, to include wheel wells
  • Cabin would be taken to bare metal where original, inside and out, and immediately coated with OSPHO rust conversion liquid
  • Cabin would then be coated inside and out with two coats of acid-etch primer for adhesion purposes
  • Cabin interior would be coated with three coats each of the three layers of Lizard Skin treatment everywhere that would be covered by panels or carpet, after applying high-solids primer
  • Cabin interior visible areas would then be coated in High-solids “Direct to Metal” primer, with successive coats and sanding until all surface imperfections were removed
  • Cabin interior visible areas would then be coated in gloss black base coat and Matrix clear coat.
  • Cabin exterior would be coated in High-solids “Direct to Metal” primer, with successive coats and sanding until all surface imperfections were removed
  • Cabin exterior would then receive 3 to 4 coats of base color in Cordovan Maroon
  • Cabin exterior would then receive 3 to 4 coats of Matrix clear coat
  • All remaining body panels would not be finished until the body was returned to Body Shop after 1st Fire of engine.
Once the cabin was primed and sealed, the cabin, still in the rotisserie assembly would be moved to the Restoration Shop, where parts assembly would begin. Steps would include installation of the following components and assemblies:
  • mating of sub-assembly to cabin
  • Fish plate mating of frame connector to front sub-assembly
  • Mating of rear end to cabin (adios to rotisserie)
  • front skirts and radiator core support
  • radiator, plumbed to engine
  • vinyl roof
  • headliner and lighted sail boards
  • windshield and rear window
  • brakes, including new lines, new master cylinder and booster, new proportioning valve
  • brake, clutch, and accelerator pedals installed & made functional
  • heater components, to include controls
  • dash components
  • console, to include instruments fully installed
  • all wiring completed and tested
  • fuel tank and lines complete to engine
  • completion and adjustment of emergency brake system
  • drive line restored and placed
  • Astro ventilation system placed and enabled
And so, I'll leave off here for awhile, before diving into the actual restoration. The good news it that tomorrow I hope to hear that all body panels are back on the car, and we are moving on toward completion.
 

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Great story, are you having it all done by a shop or some by yourself. I am in the process of starting on a 69 Firebird for a customer much like yours except the car has no rust and no accidents, a former drag car. Look forward to more of the progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Great story, are you having it all done by a shop or some by yourself. I am in the process of starting on a 69 Firebird for a customer much like yours except the car has no rust and no accidents, a former drag car. Look forward to more of the progress.
Totally done by the shop, but I did supply some of the parts, like 396, Muncie M20 that I already had. They will drive it first 100 miles, replace all fluids, then I will drive first 1000 miles, and return it for total inspection and final change of all fluids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This sounds like its going to be a nice restoration..
I am currently doing the same to a 67 Camaro, except I am going to build it back as a 67 RS (I am fortunate to have the skill set and tools to do this myself), the car had to have major body panel replacement and RuSt, (Bad four letter word) so I turned it into a Rally Sport.
Do you have any plans on suspension upgrades, interior changes, etc etc or just going back stock??
"Rust" is definitely a four-letter word, and we found a lot! Everywhere that metal was taken to 'shiny' (and that was everywhere it wasn't replaced by new panels), it was immediately sprayed with OSPHO rust conversion liquid. We live on the wet-side of the Cascades, in northwest Washington state, and what we think of as "humid", most people call "rain". This is truly the Kingdom of Rust.

Interior was fairly plain-Jane, but it had Tic-Toc-Tach, console with gauges, and fairly rare lighted sail boards. It is staying that way, although I elected, for safety reasons, to purchase modern shoulder-lap belts for the front seats, and am installing a very spendy sound system. Still, I'm using a very modern radio head-end that looks exactly like original.

Regarding suspension, I elected to stay totally true to original design for a big-block SS, but we had to replace some minor items, like front sub-frame, including upper and lower control arms, springs, disc brakes, and coil springs, and ultimately replaced all the leafs in the rear with new ones. I'm spending a substantial sum of money on this restoration, but I have NO desire to try and create a race car. I drove this car every day for over 6 years in the early '80's, with my wolf-dog sitting in the passenger seat , and that wonderful feeling of rude crude power is what I want again. Targus the Wonder Dog is no more, to my great sorrow, but Ricky Camaro is coming back!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is going to be an interesting thread. As a fellow Pacific North Westerner, I liked the comment regarding humidity.
Wow, we're almost neighbors! I'm 17 miles south of the border, in Ferndale. And I guess I should say, sometimes we get blue sky and sunshine here, too. And when we do, there is nowhere on Earth that is better to be, to me. I was a Road Warrior for 16 years, living in my motor home and for a lot of it, towing Ricky on my car trailer, installing all over the US, but also 2 1/2 months in the heart of the Amazon, also the south Pacific, and while we all live on an incredible Blue Marble, here you and I live in the Garden.

A few years back, these two scientists, one a geologist and the other a biological ecologist got together and drew up a map of the earth based, not on arbitrary political borders, but on what they called Biogeographical Provinces, areas of a common ecology and geology. You and I live in a very special one, which they named the "Oregonian Province". It was unique across all the provinces because, as they stated authoritatively, this region, extending from Eureka, California at the south, east to the crest of the Sierras, north into the Cascades, and ending in northern British Columbia, Canada supports the most pounds of life per square mile of anywhere on earth. Hence, "the Garden". Heaven is driving a classic Camaro on the back roads of the foothills of these mountains. The mountains of the Oregonian Province.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
OK, here comes a major add, that will carry us through most of the work on the cabin to prepare it for becoming a roller again.

BODY WORK BEGINS ON CABIN
Once the game plan was created, next steps began with parts procurement as needed. Initially, this included rear quarter panels, and a new passenger-side rear inner-fender. Also, a new floorpan was placed on order.
  • Actual work was begun, to include removal of rear quarter panels, rear passenger-side inner fender, and removal of paint down to shiny metal wherever metal was to remain. This included firewall, as well as windshield pillars, door jambs, etc. As shiny metal was reached, it was immediately coated with OSPHO rust conversion liquid.
  • All surfaces were then sprayed with two coats of etch-primer.
  • Next step was to install new fenders. To create proper placement, both doors were temporarily installed, so that gaps could be established between trailing edge of door and front of rear quarter panel. They were then welded in place, along with the passenger-side inner fender.
  • Once this was done, cross-bracing was installed in the cabin, to maintain structural alignment once floor pan was removed. Once done, floor pan was removed, and new pan was installed. Prior to installing the new pan, ALL holes from drilling out spot-welds were welded closed. X-bracing was then removed and inner surfaces were restored where bracing had been attached.
  • Body work was then started on the firewall, to bring it back to spec, ready for finish coats.
  • Along with firewall work, new seat supports were welded in place inside the cabin, and all seams were sealed with UPOL Tiger Seal Adhesive Sealant.
  • Once complete, the underside was primed and coated with pickup bedliner, to include wheel wells.
Here is what this all looked like:

Wheel Hood Vehicle Motor vehicle Tire

Quarters removed, beginning work on firewall

Hood Automotive lighting Vehicle door Bumper Motor vehicle

Closeup of driver-side quarter plus replacement fender sitting temporarily in trunk space

Hood Motor vehicle Vehicle Car Vehicle door

And a rotten pan, which will leave the car once quarters are back on.

Hood Motor vehicle Automotive tire Bumper Automotive exterior

A screwdriver could be pushed through the pan in front of either front seat and rear bench without effort. A trouble light on under the car turned the interior into a great star map of who knows what galaxy. Two round holes on the passenger side of the firewall are still unexplained to me. I don’t see them on other similar pictures of ‘68’s.

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting Automotive exterior Bumper

This inner fender turned out to be too rotten to keep, so was ultimately replaced.

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting Fender Bumper

Construction commences, with new inner fender, passenger full quarter, all gapped to the door which was temporarily hung for alignment purposes.

Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Bumper Tread

Driver-side full quarter. Visible is the top seam at attachment to roof. This is one of a VERY FEW areas where metallic Bondo was used. Otherwise, body panels were trued with many layers of high-solids direct-to-metal primer and sanding.

Gas Fixture Automotive exterior Composite material Metal

This is one of my favorite pictures of the thousand or so taken during this restoration. I ask myself how often a person can take a picture of the inner roof of a vehicle from underneath the vehicle? The cross-bracing was put in as cheap insurance to keep structural integrity while cabin was suspended on the rotisserie without the strength of the pan attachment holding things together.

Automotive tire Bumper Motor vehicle Wood Automotive exterior

Waiting for a new pan, Ricky dreams of structural integrity returning…

Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive exterior Gas Machine

Ahh, the pan is back, and Ricky Camaro is feeling so much better! It’s difficult to see how much work was needed to get here. The original pan was removed by drilling out the incredible number of tack welds attaching it to the cabin. Then, once removed, every drilling was filled in with a welder, so the cabin regained full metallic integrity. Only then was it ready to receive its new floor pan.

TO BE CONTINUED...
 

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I'll have to say the full floor looks better than the old one!! LOL

Looks like the tear down phase is going well, Did you have rust rot in the quarters , is that why you went with full quarters??
I'm also guessing that the roof skin was in good condition?? So what else is getting replaced, sheet metal wise that is?? Front toe panel / Front cowl / Upper dash area?
The car actually looks pretty solid once you got the clothes off (old Paint & Bondo)
Moving right along ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
First, answers to your questions:
Quarters were bad news, rust wise, as was the passenger-side rear inner fender. Front fenders and skirts were repairs from a major collision that pre-dated my ownership, and were also replaced. Roof was good, much of the uni-body was sound, and all the front panels were good, and their lack of bondo meant they probably came out of a wrecking yard or dealer parts counter. Entire front sub-frame was no longer rectangular, and we replaced the sub-frame, control arms, disc brakes, springs, and steering box. This car is going to be better than new, as we purchased only high-grade ore in our choice of replacement parts.

OK, some clarification. In the first paragraph of this thread, I tried to make clear that this restoration has been continuous since January of 2021. We are approaching a full two years, and what I just posted tonight took place in those first six months. I am hoping to ultimately post the full journey that will end when I sit behind the wheel of my vintage '68 SS-396 Camaro. My hope is that will occur in the very near future. Because I have gone to some lengths to capture this voyage, I am unable to just post it here, and in fact wasn't sure it would be welcome, in terms of how much storage it will take on the forum's servers. On that first posting of this thread, I listed what is in essence a proposed table of contents for the thread. It looks like this:

Tear-down
Analysis to develop game plan
Body work on rotisserie
Sub-frame completion, including motor and tranny
Rear end restoration
Creating a Vehicle (roller)
Achieving first fire
Final body work
Final sub-contractor work
QA and resulting punchlist resolution
Final shakedown drive to turnover


Tonight, I finished most of the third line item: "Body Work on Rotisserie". I had to stop as the forum only allows 10 photos per posting. Photos bring the story to life. I fear my words mostly just get in the way.

While the body work I detailed tonight was taking place in the Body Shop, a complete new sub-frame with rebuilt 396 and Muncie M20 was being assembled in the Restoration Shop. Along with that, they were rebuilding the rear axle/differential assembly. Line items 4 & 5, along with finishing Line item 3 will be my next posting, but again, that all took place in 2021. And I suspect that again, I will have to stop before finishing. The 396 deserves a lot of pictures, as you will see.This restoration is taking place in a very small shop that does very good work. When they took on the project, I stressed that I would rather have their work done right then have their work done fast. My car, as a project, is one of many that keeps their lights on, pays their wage, and hopefully generates some profit.

While my Camaro, who I call Ricky, came to me with a small block Chevy motor and a Saginaw 4 speed, we have substantial clues that it started out life as an actual SS-396. I bought the car sometime between 1979 and 1982. I'm getting old, we've moved several times, and 1982 is the earliest paperwork I have showing ownership, but when I try to rebuild the timeline of my life, I keep coming p with 1979. It was relatively young when I bought it, and had been through what turns out to be a really big wreck. What I do clearly remember is the seller making it clear that before the accident, it was a big-block SS. It was very well repaired, and has been in my possession ever since. It still retained much of its original equipment, including 12-bolt rear end, multi-leaf rear springs, 6K red-line Tik-Tok-Tach, and underneath the post-wreck paint job, we found factory black paint on the tail-light panel. Black paint on non-black 1968 Camaros was only done on SS-396 versions. In any event, it has been restored to that configuration.

We performed first-fire break-in the week after the 4th of July, and I hope to take delivery sometime in early 2023. If the Administrator determines I am taking up too much storage, I will understand, of course. I drove this car for 6 years, every day, and really, that's all I want again. First generation Camaros are wonderfully rude, crude, and powerful beasts, without refinement, but with maximum pleasure, like you get from driving a 1960's era racing go-kart. Hah!

If you would like a demo of what a 396 sounds like with Hooker headers but no exhaust, go to the Facebook page for B&R Automotive at this link: and turn it up!
 

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First, answers to your questions:
Quarters were bad news, rust wise, as was the passenger-side rear inner fender. Front fenders and skirts were repairs from a major collision that pre-dated my ownership, and were also replaced. Roof was good, much of the uni-body was sound, and all the front panels were good, and their lack of bondo meant they probably came out of a wrecking yard or dealer parts counter. Entire front sub-frame was no longer rectangular, and we replaced the sub-frame, control arms, disc brakes, springs, and steering box. This car is going to be better than new, as we purchased only high-grade ore in our choice of replacement parts.

OK, some clarification. In the first paragraph of this thread, I tried to make clear that this restoration has been continuous since January of 2021. We are approaching a full two years, and what I just posted tonight took place in those first six months. I am hoping to ultimately post the full journey that will end when I sit behind the wheel of my vintage '68 SS-396 Camaro. My hope is that will occur in the very near future. Because I have gone to some lengths to capture this voyage, I am unable to just post it here, and in fact wasn't sure it would be welcome, in terms of how much storage it will take on the forum's servers. On that first posting of this thread, I listed what is in essence a proposed table of contents for the thread. It looks like this:

Tear-down
Analysis to develop game plan
Body work on rotisserie
Sub-frame completion, including motor and tranny
Rear end restoration
Creating a Vehicle (roller)
Achieving first fire
Final body work
Final sub-contractor work
QA and resulting punchlist resolution
Final shakedown drive to turnover


Tonight, I finished most of the third line item: "Body Work on Rotisserie". I had to stop as the forum only allows 10 photos per posting. Photos bring the story to life. I fear my words mostly just get in the way.

While the body work I detailed tonight was taking place in the Body Shop, a complete new sub-frame with rebuilt 396 and Muncie M20 was being assembled in the Restoration Shop. Along with that, they were rebuilding the rear axle/differential assembly. Line items 4 & 5, along with finishing Line item 3 will be my next posting, but again, that all took place in 2021. And I suspect that again, I will have to stop before finishing. The 396 deserves a lot of pictures, as you will see.This restoration is taking place in a very small shop that does very good work. When they took on the project, I stressed that I would rather have their work done right then have their work done fast. My car, as a project, is one of many that keeps their lights on, pays their wage, and hopefully generates some profit.

While my Camaro, who I call Ricky, came to me with a small block Chevy motor and a Saginaw 4 speed, we have substantial clues that it started out life as an actual SS-396. I bought the car sometime between 1979 and 1982. I'm getting old, we've moved several times, and 1982 is the earliest paperwork I have showing ownership, but when I try to rebuild the timeline of my life, I keep coming p with 1979. It was relatively young when I bought it, and had been through what turns out to be a really big wreck. What I do clearly remember is the seller making it clear that before the accident, it was a big-block SS. It was very well repaired, and has been in my possession ever since. It still retained much of its original equipment, including 12-bolt rear end, multi-leaf rear springs, 6K red-line Tik-Tok-Tach, and underneath the post-wreck paint job, we found factory black paint on the tail-light panel. Black paint on non-black 1968 Camaros was only done on SS-396 versions. In any event, it has been restored to that configuration.

We performed first-fire break-in the week after the 4th of July, and I hope to take delivery sometime in early 2023. If the Administrator determines I am taking up too much storage, I will understand, of course. I drove this car for 6 years, every day, and really, that's all I want again. First generation Camaros are wonderfully rude, crude, and powerful beasts, without refinement, but with maximum pleasure, like you get from driving a 1960's era racing go-kart. Hah!

If you would like a demo of what a 396 sounds like with Hooker headers but no exhaust, go to the Facebook page for B&R Automotive at this link: and turn it up!
From the sounds of your post this Camaro brings back amany memories. This to me is what the old muscle cars are about, remembering the old street races on Saturday night, going places with my friends and of course picking up girls and going to the drive in, the sights and sounds and the feel of the old steel. Glad to hear your journey.. I hope you will be able to ride again very soon..
 

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1968 Coupe; SS396; Muncie M20; Detroit TruTrac Diff/3.42R&P; Full Restoration nearly complete
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah, in 1968 I was a freshman in college, and driving around in a 1957 Karman Ghia with a whopping 36 horsepower... I named it "Gutless Wonder". But I had a room-mate that had a Daddy able to buy him a brand new '68 Z-28 and a hook was set. I still remember how that little nasty 302 could wind INSTANTLY into incredible RPM's. Whomp, whomp, whomp!
Years later, I passed Ricky, sporting that beautiful Cordovan Maroon paint with black vinyl top and Centerline mags, and the number $3000.00 on his windshield, and he joined up then and there with me and my wolf-dog. We were a show! I can remember doing a job in Las Vegas and we would cruise the Strip and heads would turn. "Wow! Look at that muscle car!!!" I still smile at that memory. And job transfers were a trip. People would gather around when I stopped for gas. Here is the only picture I still have of leaving one job and heading for another:

Sky Plant Motor vehicle Vehicle Tree
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
SUB-FRAME COMPLETION, INCLUDING MOTOR AND TRANNY

While the Body Shop had been working on the cabin (quarter panel install, floor pan install, and various body work), the Restoration Shop was not idle.

The 396 big block engine was transported to Britco Automotive Machine in Centralia for a complete rebuild. This was accomplished to satisfy the long-block portion of the list shown in the Analysis section above. Work included a complete balance of all reciprocating parts, fully reconditioned rods, new pistons, rings and wrist pins, major head work, including hardened seats, roller rockers, new valves and springs, etc., a new cam (Engine Pro #1636), lifters and tappets, and new oil pump. A very smiley plant…

At the same time, the Muncie M20 was taken to a transmission shop that is qualified to work on this era of transmissions. There, it was disassembled, and all gears and bearings were verified. This tranny had been restored immediately prior to the Camaro storage period, and had no miles on it since that work was done in the early 90’s. The only thing found wrong at this time was a mangled speedometer gear, and this was repaired during reassembly. Here is a nice shot of the innards of an M20 Muncie that is healthy (for now...):


Motor vehicle Gas Machine Auto part Nut



Finally, all steering components that would be re-used were sent off to be restored and powder-coated.

While this work was being done, many parts were ordered, including:
  • complete new sub-frame with all control arms, new springs, new shocks, and new disk brakes.
  • Red Hat fully reconditioned power steering box and pitman arm
  • New master brake cylinder and booster
  • New 3-core Champion radiator
  • Engine bolt-ons, including
    • Edelbrock Performer 2-0 Intake Manifold
    • Edelbrock #1906 Carburetor
    • Murray Water Pump
    • Accel HEI Distributor
    • ‘Power Premium Plus’ Alternator
    • Fluidampr external fluid Dampener
    • Hooker steel long-tube Headers – ceramic coated
    • Custom Valve Covers
    • Custom Air Cleaner
  • New Rear End parts, to include
    • Ring and Pinion at 3.42 ratio
    • Detroit TrueTrac limited slip Differential
    • Backing plates
    • Brakes
    • Shocks
    • Springs
    • Bearings
  • New Drive train parts, to include
    • McLeod steel flywheel (balanced by Britco)
    • McLeod Super StreetPro Pressure Plate & Clutch Disc
    • Hurst ‘Competition Plus’ Shifter

As parts arrived, the sub-frame was assembled, including all steering components.
Hood Automotive tire Trunk Bumper Motor vehicle


Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Tread


When the engine long block arrived, the external parts were installed while it was on an engine stand. The result closely resembled this:

Tire Vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tire Hood


I say “closely” because we ultimately went with a different model of Hooker headers.

Once complete, it was joined to balanced flywheel, pressure plate, clutch, and transmission while hanging from a cherry-picker, and the entire assembly was installed into the completed sub-frame. The result looked like this:

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Automotive lighting


When I visited, I squatted down behind the back, ran the Hurst shifter through the gears, making appropriate engine sounds, much like any 6-year old would.

Here is a nice closeup of the Hurst shifter after it was installed and adjusted to spec:

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive fuel system Automotive exterior Rim




REAR END RESTORATION

The Restoration Shop prepared the rear end assembly for painting and finishing, and sent it to a specialty shop for installation of the new ring & pinion and the Eaton Detroit Truetrac limited slip differential and axles. The Truetrac is spendy, and not rebuildable if there is an “oops”, but MUCH better re bias transfer than the original Eaton, plus eliminates the clutches that wore and dried out if not regularly used, and needed specialty oil. Once it was received back, they attached backing plates and brake assemblies, along with refinished drums. Finally, the new leaf springs were installed. It was then set aside to wait for the cabin to be transported from the Body Shop. Here is a shot of the new ring & pinion mated to the Eaton Truetrac:

Wheel Gear Crankset Bicycle part Automotive tire
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
SHORT-LIVED MARRIAGE OF SUB-FRAME TO CABIN

When the cabin was again in the Restoration Shop, it was met with a completed sub-frame with engine and tranny, and a completed rear end with leaf springs.

The front sub-frame/engine/tranny assembly was then attached to the cabin.
Vehicle Car Tire Automotive lighting Motor vehicle



Unfortunately, once this was accomplished, it became apparent that there was inadequate clearance between the Accel HEI Distributor and the firewall, preventing distributor rotation, and the solution would require that a “dish” in the firewall be fabricated, and the firewall would then need to be refinished. We were NOT going to perform the time-honored "beat the firewall in with hammer and steel" solution...

BODY SHOP WORK RESUMES ON CABIN

Accordingly, the cabin was unbolted from the sub-frame, reunited with the Rotisserie and the cabin was wheeled back to the Body Shop. Once the dished-in area was finished and the entire firewall was repainted, the Body Shop decided to complete the painting of the cabin while it was still on the rotisserie, freeing up the Restoration Shop to work on other projects.

In the Body Shop, the cabin was painted, and clear coat applied. Unfortunately, an area of the rear passenger-side fender showed what might be a grease-print from a hand that probably occurred over in the Restoration Shop, and was missed, so the entire cabin was scuff-sanded and repainted a second time.

Brown Rectangle Tints and shades Font Wood




Examination of this second paint job revealed that the clear coat had run in several places, perhaps due to mid-winter temperature issues. Attempts to wet-sand it down to level resulted in sanding into the base coat, so the shop decided to paint the entire cabin yet a third time. They say ‘third time’s the charm’, and so it was. The coats were beautiful, and the shop elected to not wet-sand the cabin until the final assembly when the other panels would be added to the mix.

Automotive parking light Vehicle Hood Automotive lighting Car



Note roof has two coats of sealer over DTM primer, waiting for vinyl cover. Also, black paint on the tail-light panel done the way it was built, except we don’t remember the area between the panel and the trunk being black. We went ahead because we liked the look, and once again, my toy, my joy. Also we used gloss black rather than semi-gloss. Same story.


MINOR CHANGE-ORDER

Just a parenthetical insert here. When the big block was first installed in the sub-frame, the #5 header tried to get personal with the steering box, and the solution at that time (while I was 200 miles away) was to take a hammer and ‘persuade’ it to be clear of contact. The next time I visited, I noticed the beautiful Hooker Header all beaten in on the #5 tube, and told the owner that while I understood, I was less than pleased. Apparently, he agreed, because the next time I visited, there was a new set of Hooker Headers on the engine, with the #5 tube routed OVER the #7 tube, and so nowhere near the steering box. Nobody asked me and nobody told me, I just noticed. When I checked this out on the Hooker website, I found the new headers were an upgrade to what Hooker calls their “Super Competition” Headers (PN #2111-1HKR), substantially more expensive alternative. Like I say, nobody asked me, they just went out and bought another set of headers, at greater expense, and donated the labor to make me happy. The new ones look like this:


Wheel Tire Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle


And the steering box now looks lonely but will stay cooler.


CREATING A VEHICLE

The cabin was once again wheeled to the Restoration Facility. Intent was to carry it through to First Fire of the engine, and then return it to the Body Shop for final finish and assembly. A number of tasks needed to be performed to get it there:
  • The subframe was once again aligned and bolted to the cabin. This time clearances were ideal
  • The rear end/leaf springs assembly was bolted to the back spring perches, and the Camaro was once again a roller
  • Drive line was installed from transmission to rear end
  • Rear shocks were installed
  • Front fender skirts were installed
  • Radiator Support was installed
  • Radiator was installed and plumbed to engine
  • Headlamp housings and headlamps were installed
  • The fuel tank was coated with pickup bedliner and installed, with sender
  • Fuel line was installed and routed to the engine, where it was plumbed to fuel pump
  • Brake line was installed and routed to engine compartment
  • All dash controls (wiper, ignition, headlights, lighter) were installed
  • Console was installed and oil pressure gauge was plumbed to engine
  • Ammeter was exchanged for voltmeter
  • Speedometer was installed and cabled to transmission
  • Tik-Tok-Tach was installed
  • Heater components were installed and connected to controls and plumbed to engine
  • Dash pad was installed
  • Wiring kit was installed, and all lights and gauges were installed and tested
  • Power cables were run to trunk and left coiled, for future battery
  • Signal cables were run to the trunk and left coiled, for future audio amps
  • Car Stereo head-end was installed and cabled
  • Marker lamps were left dangling but temporarily equipped with LED bulbs and tested
  • Horns were installed and tested
  • Master brake cylinder and booster were installed and plumbed to lines, fluids added, and brake lines and slave cylinders bled
  • Clutch linkage was installed, adjusted, and confirmed to actuate throw out bearing and clutch forks
  • Accelerator pedal was connected to carb and confirmed to enable full range of throttle
  • Vinyl roof was installed
  • Headliner was installed, with domelight; domelight tested OK
  • Sailboards were installed and sailboard lights tested OK
  • Seat belt roof anchor locations were marked for later install
  • Frame connector fishplates were tacked to front sub-frame, for later completion
  • Steering column was installed and connected to steering box
  • Steering wheel was attached
  • Turn signals were tested OK
  • Tail-light assembly was installed and tested OK
  • SS Gas Cap installed
  • All fluids were topped off
Here are some representative pics:
Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Motor vehicle


Car Hood Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design


Vehicle Steering part Car Motor vehicle Steering wheel


Replaced Tik-Tok-Tach, still with redline at 6K, but original speedo with odometer the way I parked it, at 43,995. Probably without a wrap, as I bought the car fairly young, and didn’t put huge miles on it, as it was local transportation at various job sites.

At the point of completion of all these tasks, Ricky Camaro was ready for a major event: first fire break-in of the big block. We were required by the engine builder to use Driven BR (break-in) oil, and must use Driven formulation that is specially made for old muscle-car engines throughout warranty period in order to preserve warranty. Yay, Joe Gibbs!

FIRST FIRE & ENGINE BREAK-IN

Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Automotive tire



I coordinated a time to come down and view the first time the 396 was fired. In honor of the occasion, I even went out and bought a new shirt:

Outerwear Shirt Sleeve Grey Sportswear


Britco had provided a procedure to follow, that consisted of a 25-min run, with sustained RPM’s of 1800 alternating with 2200, and a series of ‘splashes to 2500 every five minutes or so. The engine started within a single revolution, leading me to suspect there had been some prep before my arrival, although the block was cold when I felt it. The idle was set too low, so it quickly died, but Cliff turned it up and after that it ran fine. They left it idling while Cliff verified timing and locked down the distributor. He then moved the portable tach into the cabin for Bryson to monitor and the engine quickly found 1800 RPM’s. When idling at 800, the engine was VERY unhappy, as the radical cam had intake valves overlapping exhaust valves, but the moment it went over 1K, it became incredibly smooth, validating the internal balance. Cliff busied himself initially with topping off the power steering reservoir, and then brought out an infra-red temp meter and for the duration of the run, inspected various potential hot-spots, none of which materialized. After the shut-down, Cliff stated “that was the coolest break-in that I’ve ever done!” and Bryson responded with “that’s probably the smoothest motor I’ve seen!” Cliff responded “yeah, it felt like glass on top. It sounded rumbly but it was smooth up here” as he tapped the intake manifold. I was 20 or 30 feet away, filming the entire sequence, so they were not saying this for my benefit. It was just their exchange after an exciting experience.

Bryson noted a few statistics on a scrap of paper and handed it to me. It showed oil pressure sustained between 40-55 psi, voltage stayed between 12.9V and 14.2V DC, and temperature never exceeded 189 degrees F. Further, no abnormal oscillations or vibrations, and idle was set for now at 780 RPM, but they may elect to go up a bit, given how uneven it is now. In conversation, he mentioned that the floor board under the accelerator pedal stayed mildly warm, even though the collector was dumping out right there, and the jute backing and carpet are not installed. He believes that once the exhaust system is complete and the interior is finished, heat will not be an issue at my feet. Kudos to Lizard Skin.

During the next few days, the car was driven around their parking lot, to test brakes, clutch and gears. It was then driven back to the Body Shop, to resume final steps.

Now, it gets interesting...
 

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Really enjoyed reading your thread. Please keep the updates coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
OK, we will finally come to the present with this addition:

FINAL BODY SHOP WORK

Initial work back in the body shop consisted of bolting all remaining body panels back on, along with doors, engine hood and trunk deck lid/spoiler.

Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire


Gaps were verified, but an issue was revealed: Although the hood and front grille header were original, the factory engineer who designed the grill header apparently didn’t talk to the engineer who designed the hood. The grill header is so much wider than the hood that the gap between each side of the hood and its adjacent fender became wider at the front of the car than at the back where it meets the cowl vent grille. This has been seen at various shows, and is visible as a gap that grows in pictures of Ricky taken before this project began. We elected to perform some additional work by cutting out a small slice of metal on each side of the grill header, making it shorter to maintain a constant gap on each side.

Automotive lighting Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Vehicle



When all gaps were approved, the body panels, hood and rear deck lid/spoiler were removed, to receive final primer/sealer/paint. When that was done, all panels were in position to be wet-sanded and buffed to final finish, at which point, the car could be bolted together.

Here are some pictures of that process:
Hood Motor vehicle Fender Automotive tire Bumper


Textile Wood Yellow Tints and shades Comfort





Once body panels, doors, engine hood and rear deck/spoiler were painted, color sanded, and buffed, a number of tasks remained before the car would journey to final subcontractors.

But first, desire for perfection intervened. Inspection of the driver’s side fender revealed a couple small dents, and the hood, once painted was found to not be “perfectly flat without ripple” so both pieces were scuff-sanded, and these imperfections were repaired, so we went from beautiful paint to this:
Floor Flooring Table Aircraft Tripod


These guys seek perfection!

This work at a minimum included the following tasks:
  • Installation of doors and door handles
  • Installation of door seals
  • Installation of door registers and glass
  • Installation of rear quarter registers and glass
  • Installation of front fenders and fender extensions
  • Installation of cowl vent grille, grille header, front grille and valance panel
  • Installation of external mirror
  • Installation of engine hood and all required hardware
  • Installation of headlight bezel and aiming of headlamp
  • Installation of hood locks
  • Installation and cabling of AM/FM antenna
  • Installation of trunk lid and spoiler
  • Installation of all chrome trim, including engine hood fake vents
  • Installation of fender-to-radiator support braces inside engine compartment
  • Restoration of wheels
  • Installation of front and rear bumpers
  • Installation of license plates
  • Installation of internal mirror and both sunshades
  • Installation of ash tray and glove box
  • Installation of rear speakers
  • Dimensioning to enable front speakers in future
  • Template for rear seat back to enable future subwoofer mounting board
While fixing these imperfections was being attended to, some progress occurred. Doors were installed:
Tire Wheel Car Automotive parking light Vehicle



And remaining finished panels were installed as well:
Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Hood


Then, all side windows with regulators and seals were installed and adjusted:
Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Hood


As of today, 1-8-23, the first eight of these bullets (bolded) are complete, although the gap adjustment between fender and hood and front grill header and hood are still being adjusted. Here is where we are at as of today:

Wheel Tire Vehicle Car Automotive tire




Gaps need some adjustment, but Ricky Camaro is starting to look like a car, finally!!!
 

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Going to be great looking car!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Great story, are you having it all done by a shop or some by yourself. I am in the process of starting on a 69 Firebird for a customer much like yours except the car has no rust and no accidents, a former drag car. Look forward to more of the progress.
Wow, I cannot imagine a car with no rust! And I suspect it's a rare 1st gen Camaro/Firebird with no accidents... I knew when I bought it that mine had been in one; I just had no idea how major it was!

But, a confession of sorts. There is a bit of work I will perform once the car returns to my garage. I have two issues that I am not asking B&R Automotive to completely solve. One is an audio system, and the other is an attempt to assist honest people to remain honest people (by preventing them from relieving me of possession of Ricky Camaro). B&R is performing a large fraction of the audio solution, while I perform additional steps and a professional car stereo technician finalizes the deal.
The keeping people honest deal is all on me.

So, first the audio. I purchased fairly high-end stereo components, even though the result might not be audible given the exhaust system making its own type of music at speed. If so, the jokes on me. True, big block tunes will be subdued to some extent by the 3 layers/3 coats per layer of Lizard Skin Sound Deadening/Heat Insulation, but possibly the audio will be best appreciated when parked. The system will consist of 6½” speakers in the doors, separate tweeters in the doors, and 6X9 triaxial speakers in the rear deck, plus a sub-woofer mounted in the trunk and firing through the rear seat back. I elected to go with the Classic Autosound USA-740 radio for now, with signal leads run to the trunk for both the 6 speakers and separately, the sub-woofer. Amps will be mounted in the trunk, and powered by a 2nd battery, also in the trunk. I also elected to spend an absolutely absurd amount of money on it all.

So, the B&R Auto fraction of this story consists of them installing the radio, mounting the six non-bass speakers, running signal wires (2 sets) from radio to trunk, running all speaker wires from the trunk to the six speakers, and running two #4 AWG fine-braid power wires from engine compartment to a loose coil in the trunk. They have also terminated these two power cables in the engine compartment, with battery-return bolted to the engine, and +12V terminated on a 100-amp fuse block on the passenger fender skirt. Oh yeah, also an AM/FM antenna, cabled to the radio.

Once Ricky comes home, I can work on my fraction of this audio project.. I will permanently mount a trunk battery, and cable it to the two #4 power wires and also to a fuse distribution block and ground bar. In the engine compartment, I will insert a battery-isolation device downstream from the 100 amp fuse block. This isolation device blocks trunk-based DC from interacting with the engine-compartment battery, but still allows the alternator to provide charge voltage to both batteries. In the trunk, I will fashion and mount a vertical panel on the trunk side of the rear-seat metal, sealing the trunk (and its road noise) from the cabin. This panel will be made of ¾” high-density particle board. It will be covered by 1X6 Maple boards on the trunk side, beautifully finished. Mounted on this partition will be a sub-woofer facing into the rear seat back, with its trunk-side enclosed in a particle-board box, again covered in Maple. Also mounted on this partition will be a 6-channel power amp (unbelievably expensive) for the six speakers, and a second single-channel power amp for the sub-woofer. Finally, the trunk side of the two 6X9 rear-deck speakers will also be similarly boxed. A view from outside the car, with trunk deck-lid raised, will show the battery in a strapped down base and cabled to the two #4 AWG power leads and with two leads supplying battery and return to a permanently mounted fuse block and ground bar. Also, you will see the two amps mounted on the maple wall, and the three boxes containing the subwoofer and 6X9’s, covered in Maple. I will be responsible for that construction.
Once the install is complete, we will visit an audio specialist who will verify the integrity of the install, apply power, and perform adjustment to the cross-over network and frequency equalizer portion of the main power amp. The result should be awesome sound, hopefully audible over the big-block rumble. There is a bit of history involved here as well, as a friend and I milled this maple over 40 years ago, using a “Mobile Dimension” sawmill.

So, how do I propose to keep honest people honest? I realize I cannot prevent a true professional car-thief from “liberating” my car. He or she will bring a wrecker, and just load it up and drive off. Or, car-jack it. So, my concern is more with the hot-wire or ‘master-key’ level predator. I can defeat such a one if they aren’t feeling destructive.
An observant reader might have noticed, in the second picture of this thread, a round device mounted in the engine hood, with a round key lock in it. This is one of a pair of hood-locks, with relatively pick-proof keys. Back when I drove Ricky all the time, I would raise my hood, remove my coil wire, and lock the hood whenever I parked the car and left the area. Now, I have purchased brand-new versions of the same hood lock, and you can view the holes in the hood where they will mount, in the picture right above this current entry. The hood locks engage receivers bolted into the radiator core support, and make it very difficult to raise the hood. True, I have no coil wire to remove, BUT I intend to cable the battery return (“minus”) lead from the battery to the engine block through a “Battery Disconnect” that effectively removes ALL DC voltage from the engine compartment. You cannot hot-wire a car that has no battery path between ‘plus’ and ‘minus’. The trunk battery does not supply power back to the engine compartment, so cannot be used. The Battery Disconnect is activated by a remote control switch on my key ring, so I don’t even have to unlock and raise my hood.

Oh, and a third thing it will be on me to do: apply graphene-based ceramic coating to the beautiful paint job, vinyl roof and tires, once the paint is fully cured and no longer gassing. Graphene is amazing stuff: the strongest substance known to humanity at present. Basically, a carbon nanotube laid out flat. Great way to wax your car.
 
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