Fixing up a '71 Grand Safari

Discussion in 'General Station Wagon Discussions' started by Vetteman61, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Vetteman61

    Vetteman61 Well-Known Member

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    It's finally time to get started putting The Clam back together.

    IMG_4271.JPG
     
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  2. OrthmannJ

    OrthmannJ Always looking for old ford crew cabs

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    Hallelujah!
    :dancingpa:
     
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  3. HotRodRacer

    HotRodRacer Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And the people rejoiced, and sang great songs of joy.
     
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  4. 101Volts

    101Volts Well-Known Member

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    I was just wondering about the 71 yesterday or the day before, too. :party:
     
  5. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo "Nothing is foolproof as fools are ingenious."

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    You almost have to wear sealed goggles for that kind of work. I once had a blade of grass fly up into the corner of my eye, even though I had safety glasses and a face shield. I farming hate that.
     
  6. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo "Nothing is foolproof as fools are ingenious."

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    Oops...forgot there was one more page of posts. I was referring to the axle strap work. So, how's the Caprice running?
     
  7. Vetteman61

    Vetteman61 Well-Known Member

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    The Caprice is doing pretty good. I've been working on some finishing issues here or there that aren't related to the engine swap, and also enjoying spending at least a few Saturday's not working on it, haha... it was a long haul.

    I got the driver side doors on The Clam adjusted very good, much better than they were. The next step is to get the passenger side doors adjusted. I have a brand new Edelbrock carburetor I had purchased before the accident but never got to install, so I may install that before I put the front end back on. I'm currently rounding up a radiator and condenser. I've ordered the front end sheet metal hardware. I've changed plans a bit and currently plan on keeping the mechanical fan but adding a pusher fan in front of the condenser. Before the wreck, the car would overheat on days when the AC was on and it sat in traffic.
     
  8. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo "Nothing is foolproof as fools are ingenious."

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    Is the mechanical fan hub fixed or a clutch? If a clutch, it might be not fully locking up, or it's leaked out some of the fluid. Also, some A/C-equipped older cars had a 'throttle kicker' solenoid that would kick when the compressor clutch engaged, to keep the engine from stalling under load, as well as add 50-100 RPM to engine idle to get the fan and water pump to spin a bit faster. How is your engine outfitted?
     
  9. elB

    elB Well-Known Member

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    Pontiac didn't use this on B-bodies 1971, it wasn't used until 1977+ cars.
     
  10. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo "Nothing is foolproof as fools are ingenious."

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    Ah, OK. It's been so long since I've dealt with carbureted cars, except my own, I just don't remember. But, would you consider installing one?
     
  11. Vetteman61

    Vetteman61 Well-Known Member

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    This post covers a wide span of time. Back in the summer The Caprice's A/C wasn't working great. It was very hot and humid and sometimes on the highway, but especially when idling in traffic, the air front the vents would begin to get warm. After a lot of testing with gauges attached to the high and low ports, that issue turned out to be the tuning. As it turns out, the tune was setup as though it had a mechanical fan, which was causing the A/C pressures to turn the electric fans on and off at the wrong times. While the A/C system was taken down resolving that issue I went and ahead and had a new A/C line made because the old one was too short. It was supposed to wrap around the coolant overflow, which has a small indentation in the top for clearance, but the hose was just a little bit too short and was causing it to wedge between the hood and coolant tank, which was causing the hood to not close all the way.

    When I took the A/C hose off of the evaporator I found that the threads were destroyed. It turns out the metal threads had not re-cut the aluminum threads properly. The problem is that I'm using the original evaporator from a 1978 Caprice, but a newer style A/C line from a early 2000's Chevrolet S-10 4 cylinder. This is because the 4 cylinder S-10s used a variable compressor instead of a fixed compressor which means that the A/C line has the sensor that is necessary to allow the computer to control the electric fans. The threads on the '78 evaporator are standard size and the S-10 threads are metric. You would think finding the thread and pitch for these fittings would be easy, but I actually found it very hard. The evaporator and A/C line are typically only listed as a whole as their part # and specifications for the fittings on each end is not usually given. I finally was able to find an verify the correct fitting sizes and order two hard lines, cut the ends off, and have them welded together to make an adapter. The reason I made this adapter is for ease of future maintenance. I could have made a custom A/C line or made a custom evaporator, but then if anything ever happened to one of those components I would then have to have another custom one made. With this adapter if I ever need to replace a part I can order the stock part # at any parts house and it will fit with no modification.

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    The trunk had a leak and the time finally ccome to find it and fix it. The leak was particularly annoying because anytime it rained the trunk floor would get wet, and there was some surface rust there which made anything that touched it instantly filthy and any cardboard or clothing was ruined. When I made my cross country trip I had to get large, plastic totes to store all of my belongings in so they wouldn't ruin. After locking myself in the trunk with a big shop light several times and having Dad and April spray down the trunk with a hose I located two separate issues. One issue was that the holes around where the taillights go through the rear valance panel were leaking. Apparently the shock of the wreck caused all the old, brittle sealant to break loose. I removed the taillights and cleaned the areas thoroughly.
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    I also cleaned the taillight buckets, which took quite a bit of time to remove all of the nasty sealant from not only the taillight holes, but also the washers around the mounting bolts. Fortunately the old rubber gaskets were in decent shape and I coated both sides of them, as well as the mounting bolts, with a new tube of the same sealant I used for the heater box. When I got everything reinstalled I still had a small leak on the passenger side so I had to remove that entire side again and start all over, making sure to add a sufficiently liberal amount of sealant to do the job. Messy and tedious, but it completely stopped the leak.


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    Another issue I had was that on the driver side there was a leak coming from an area that was hard to determine. One of the times while locked in the trunk, Dad was spraying water and then couldn't get me out. The trunk key takes a special touch to get open. Fortunately I've taught April how to do it and she was home so he finally went inside and got her and she was able to get me out. The problem ended up being that the old seam sealer had cracked during the impact of the wreck. It wasn't visible, but it was leaking. In the picture below there is a visible seam inside the trunk lip. The picture below is after I removed all of the old seam sealer.

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    And here the picture below is after adding new seam sealer. The seam sealer I had wasn't brand new and so I had to cut the tube in half with a hacksaw and apply it with my finger instead of with a caulk gun. As a result, it didn't turn out as smooth as I would like, but it won't really make a big difference after I paint it back to body color.

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    After this I had one more mystery leak still coming from the top right corner of the passenger side of the windshield. This baffled me because I had just had a new windshield installed right after the car was repaired from the wreck and the car had been stored since then. I had thought perhaps the roof had holes in it and the old vinyl top was letting water through, but I'd since had the top repaired and a new vinyl top installed. I was pretty confounded. While helping me search for the leak my dad had the idea of using compressed air to look for the leak instead of running water. By using compressed air, and spraying water with a mix of dish soap from a spray bottle onto the area we were able to find that it was in fact the windshield that was leaking. I ordered some Windo-Weld from 3M and we attempted to seal the area, but it didn't work. I took the car to the body shop and had the guy there remove the window and he found that the company that installed the new windshield didn't do it properly and the top right side had never actually sealed correctly. Since this was back sometime around 2016 or so when I had this done it was way past warranty, even though the car had been stored all that time. After replacing the windshield correctly that took care of that leak as well.
     
  12. Vetteman61

    Vetteman61 Well-Known Member

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    Now that The Caprice was relatively "done," despite some minor things like a new door handle, replacing the plastic ring in the steering column that broke off last February in the 5 degree temperatures when I was installing the new turn signal with cruise control for my cross country trip (having cruise control for a 4000K mile trip in 5 days was worth every miserable moment of laying upside down in the floorboard in weather so cold I had to keep the digital camera in my chest pocket so it would work), and a few other odds and ends things, it was time to, at long last, bring The Wagon, The Clam, back from the dark recesses of the trailer from which it has slept for what has now become many years. My father-in-law was in town one weekend, and while he was there I called Dad and made use of the extra manpower, and Dad's four wheeler to help me move the '37 into the car trailer and The Wagon into the garage. I also rented a storage unit for the '31, because I am absolutely sick and tired of working on cars out in the weather.

    The Wagon sees the light of day for the first time in several years.

    [​IMG]

    Before I could even begin moving the cars into place I had to take on the huge project of getting the garage ready, which meant a lot of organizing. Our girls learned to ride bicycles this summer and so I finally convinced Dad to get his bicycle out and start riding it. This was the bike he had when he was 15 and it was in a garbage bag in a rusted heap under his house. It's a 1959 Western Flyer. I stole it about 9 years ago and completely restored it so he could ride it and then he was too afraid to use it so he kept it at his house hung from the ceiling. I finally brought it over to my house and mounted it on my ceiling so he could come ride with the rest of us and the girls this summer. We rode all the way into town several times and on one outing rode about 15 miles. With that mounted up high and out of the way I moved on to cleaning and organizing the rest of the garage, which took about 3 weeks to get to the point that I could start moving the cars around. In anticipation of this project I also finally invested in some decent lighting. I really should have done that sooner.

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    To make a long story short, finding wheels that would fit the '37 ended up being a huge ordeal that took about a month. I bought a set of wheels that had hubs that were too small. Then I had a guy use a plasma cutter to cut out the hubs, but then the wheels were too small to fit around the disc brakes. A neighbor had two old wheels with tires on them in his woods so he let me have them and another guy had a set in his dad's barn and he let me borrow two of them. Finally, the car was mobile.

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    It took most of the day but we finally got the two cars to trade places.
    [​IMG]

    Before I can jump into to current progress on The Clam, I need to do a little catching up. First we need to go back about 4 years prior. After scouring the entire world endlessly I finally found a front clip to a '71 Pontiac, bought it, and had it delivered to my house. The last updates of The Clam show me working on putting in patch panels and drilling holes for the woodgrain trim for that front clip. The hood from that front clip ended up being in bad enough shape the body shop advised that I find another, which, another long story short, I finally did. I then had all of the braces, supports and fender wells powder coated. Then I took all of the body panels to be painted 1973 Pontiac Verdant Green.

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    I came home without the hood, because at this point the hood I had was unusable so I had to find another one.
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    Eventually, I did find a straight hood. I had this one painted flat black on the bottom side, and yes, I did have it strapped down during transport.
    [​IMG]

    Back in the present day, it was time to start getting the car in order. One thing to address was this rotted cowl drain. I was able to find another one online, but the bottom of the new one is rotted out. I'm unsure yet if I will be able to repair it. Pictured below is the completely rotted old one. I have since found out that these tubes were not used on all models, and later models had a simple drain "window" that allowed the water to leak out.
    [​IMG]

    Another issue that's going to need to be addressed are the dog legs, the passenger side being by far the worst.
    [​IMG]

    I was never satisfied with the door alignment so I took them all off and started from scratch. The first time around I had put some caulk-strip under the hinges to try to seal them better and prevent rust. This ended up not being a great idea so I cleaned the area while the hinges were off.
    [​IMG]



    One big difference between now and when I built this car the first time is that our daughters didn't exist the first time around. In fact, I was in a barn removing the windows from this car when I found out April was pregnant with our oldest daughter. Our youngest, Luella, has taken an active interest in working on and building things and has asked on multiple occasions to help with the car. Naturally, things slow down a lot when you're allowing a 5 year old to help, but of course it's worth it.

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    Dad came over and helped with the alignment of the doors. The driver side went pretty smoothly, but the rear passenger side is very problematic. It will not adjust correctly. It was this way when we got the car, but I plan to try to correct the issue.

    [​IMG]

    No matter what you do, this is the absolute best you can get the lower dog leg door gap, and even then it throws off the other areas to get it here. The plan is to align the door where it should be and then when the dog leg is removed for rust repair, weld it back to for a correct door gap.

    [​IMG]
    On the first time around I took this car to the best carb guy in the area. It's been too long now for me to remember exactly why, but the end result was the QuadraJet that I have has an issue that rebuilding will not fix. I had ended up buying a new Edelbrock 650 carburetor. When I recently got the car back in the garage I began reading up on the carburetor issue and found out that a QueadraJet is a spread bore carburetor, meaning the butterflies in the front are a different size than the rear and an Edelbrock is a square bore, meaning the butterflies are, roughly, the same size front to rear. This means that my intake manifold will not accept an Edelbrock carburetor without an adapter, and then hood clearance becomes and issue. After reading up a lot on my options I ordered a new Edelbrock Performer intake, which is somewhat of a snowball into ordering a lot of other parts. I'm not looking for performance, but rather a good, reliable, easy to tune carburetor with decent low end torque for daily driving capabilities. I have since found that opinions on how to achieve this vary greatly and no matter what you choose many people on all sides are going to openly voice how stupid they think you are.

    [​IMG]
    I had forgotten just how many brackets this engine has on it. Each accessory seems to have a least three brackets if not more. Fortunately, taking the very heavy cast iron intake off is much easier when there's no sheetmetal on the car. Of course many digital pictures will help when it comes time to put them back in place, otherwise it can be a pretty big puzzle. I believe I'll likely end up having all of the brackets powder coated to match the other parts I had done years ago.

    [​IMG]
    Prepping the intake for paint was no small feat, and finding out a decent paint to use that wouldn't flake off was harder than I'd thought as well. I ended up going with a two stage, high-temp primer from Eastwood that I will follow with regular Pontiac Blue engine paint. Luella helped me clean the surface and prep for paint. Here, compressed air is used to get rid of the lint.

    [​IMG]
    I realized after cleaning the intake that I had forgotten to transfer over all of the fittings. I broke them loose and Luella finished removing them. I wished I had remembered to do that before cleaning the intake.

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    I also almost forgot that the new intake is aluminum, something that's easier to remember when you go to pick it up. I used aluminum anti-seize on all of the fittings for when the day comes I need to take them out.

    [​IMG]
    With all of the fittings transferred to the new intake, I taped off all of the holes and cut off the excess.

    [​IMG]


    It was the kind of day where if you stay in the sun the temp wasn't too bad, but if you were in the shade it was very cold. As a result, the intake got very cold while I was taping it off. Too cold to apply paint, so we had to bring it inside and warm it up while I punctured the two-stage primer can and got it ready to spray. Luella got the aluminum up to temperature while I shook the can.
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    It was warm enough in the sun that we were able to take the intake outside and paint it, and then we brought it back inside to dry.

    [​IMG]
    I also remembered that back when, I had an exhaust leak at the manifolds but I didn't remember which side. They were already looking pretty bad so we removed both of them. I have new gaskets and I'm also going to have them sandblasted and prepped with some better coating so the finish will last longer.

    [​IMG]
    While the intake was off I looked down into the heads to check out the valves and when I did I noticed something that caught my attention. The intake valve on cylinder #2, passenger side front, was covered in rust and crud. It was the only valve like this. I haven't yet figured out what would have caused this. The gaskets don't show signs of having leaked. There is no way water got into the carburetor while it was stored and even if it had, it wouldn't have only effected this one cylinder. Perhaps the intake manifold has an internal crack? I'm not sure, but I'll be investigating further to try to learn more.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. kevdupuis

    kevdupuis Membrane

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    The best of times, when they want to help.
    Just think, picking her up at school and she points out to her friends that she helped dad fix up the car.

    Some of my earliest memories are hanging over a fender watching my father working on his 65 Dodge wagon.
     
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  14. Bruce2799

    Bruce2799 Active Member

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    Wow, what an absolutely amazing rebirth! Good luck!
     
  15. U-WANT1

    U-WANT1 Active Member

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    Ha! Didn't know you were on this site too. This is Eric, ls1nova71 from LS1Tech. I'll have to go back and read through this thread, looks like it may take a while!
     

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