Hitman's Pontiac Trans Am Forum

Trans Am Photos => Restoration Projects => Topic started by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:50:38 PM

Title: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:50:38 PM

Car:  1976 Trans Am 400 / 4-Speed Car / 38,xxx original miles

I'm in the process of building up my '76 T/A.  Much of the work on the car has already been completed and I'm making this thread midst the second phase of the build.   I'll do my best now to run down it's current state, what has been completed already, what's on the chopping block within the next few months and what's to come down the road.

Current State 2008 -
Quadralink Ladder Bar Rear Suspension
Double Adjustable Rear Coil Overs
Adjustable Panhard Bar and trac bar
Generic Mini Tub Kit
Pro-Touring F-Body 8 point weld in roll cage
Strange Rear end w/ spline
Complete interior restoration
Rear draglite disk brakes

This April (in a few months), the car is going back to the shop for the following work -

Detroit Speed Engineering Front Sub Frame - Hydroformed and Powder Coated / LS Series:
[FONT="Calibri"]http://www.detroitspeed.com/1970-1981-F-Body-products/032011-hydroformed-subframe.html (http://"http://www.detroitspeed.com/1970-1981-F-Body-products/032011-hydroformed-subframe.html")[/FONT]

Pro-Touring F-Body Solid body mounts:
[FONT="Calibri"]http://www.pro-touringf-body.com/chassis_components.html (http://"http://www.pro-touringf-body.com/chassis_components.html")[/FONT]

Detroit Speed Engineering Weld in Sub Frame Connectors:
[FONT="Calibri"]http://www.detroitspeed.com/1970-1981-F-Body-products/010103-subframe-connectors.html (http://"http://www.detroitspeed.com/1970-1981-F-Body-products/010103-subframe-connectors.html")[/FONT]

Tasks asked of the builder come April:
Remove existing front sub frame
Remove existing Engine
Remove existing Transmission
Remove Brake Booster (everything else from the fire wall)
Remove Entire Exhaust System (hangers, clips, clamps and everything else from under the car)
Remove all fuel lines, brake lines, nitrous line, emergency brake line (hangers, mounts etc.)
Remove gas tank and hangers
Remove gas pedal, brake pedal, clutch pedal and patch holes in firewall.
Install new pedals with appropriate spacing for heal/toe from Wilwood
Install solid body mounts
Install new front sub frame
Install sub frame connectors
Prep and paint floor pans and lay dynomat (any type insulation on floor pans)
Mock up T56 Trans. and cut/make T56 Trans. Tunnel
Prep Paint/Wire Bush/Sand Blast underside of car (POR15)
Install new fuel tank

Within the next few years I hope to purchase a Mast Engine (Aluminum Dart block) Supercharged 427ss through a built T56 or TKO.  The next goal of this car is to build a highway riot; a giant smile machine.  After I get familiar with power delivery a four link will replace the ladder bars.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:54:43 PM
Photos of the floor pans being modified to make room for the ladder bars sometime in 2008

Strange Rear End getting hung:

Trac bar/Rear End/Exhaust tucked:

Rear seats and pans being modified:

Mini tub install:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:55:29 PM
These are the photos after the work of 2008 was finished -

Trunk Finished:

Interior Finished:

Wrapped up:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:56:22 PM
Decided to pick up the LS series engine mounts from Detroit Speed now instead of waiting for later.  My builder has an LS1 laying around with a t56.  While I have the interior ripped apart we're going to mock of a dummy t56 and cut the tunnel now rather than later.

This car is never going to be a world beater.  With that I opted to steer clear from an ugly fuel cell and opted for a Tank Inc. tank.  I also picked up there GPA-6 EFI pump (750-1000hp), sending unit, all mounting hardware, straps, strap pads.  The pump is sump mounted.

Everything out the door was roughly $650.00 shipped.

The Easter Bunny came early this year:



http://www.tanksinc.com/ (http://www.tanksinc.com/)
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:56:47 PM
Typically solid body mounts are required when installing sub frame connectors.  This is because poly or rubber mounts allow too much flex which can result in the welds between that of your sub frame to connector to sub frame weakening/or breaking completely.

I was going to order a set of body mounts from Detroit Speed but they only produce them for 2nd gen Camaros and not Firebirds.  This is because the core support mounts are taller on the Firebird versus that of the Camaro (to make space for the shaker scoop on the T/A) so I went with the only other option which are from pro-touring f body (http://www.pro-touringf-body.com/chassis_components.html (http://www.pro-touringf-body.com/chassis_components.html)).

They're pretty cool.  They can be mounted at factory height to maintain stock appearance, adjusted to lower the body by a full inch or flipped to lower the body by a full 2 inches...essentially wedging the body.  This will cause clearance issues with the inner fender walls and shaker scoop clearance (but I'm going EFI LS7 eventually so I'll have to rig something up when the time comes anyway) so I will likely go factory height or only lower the body by an inch.  I am going to call D.S.E. before I decide.  They are made of aluminum but I'll likely paint them black.

They were $99 shipped, with the bolts included:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:57:14 PM
In order to lower my expenses as much as possible I removed the hood, fenders, inner fenders, core support, bumper, bumper braces, upper headlight/grille assembly, wheel spoilers and lower spoiler myself.  I've been storing the parts in a spare bedroom for safe keeping.

My girlfriend loves this:


These are the factory seats.  They have never been re-upholstered. 
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:57:41 PM
Last night I got around to removing the seats, the center console and lower back seats.  I still have to remove the kick panels, carpet, seat belts and rear deck/speakers (I think).

I may be able to keep the upper back seats in place.  That would allow me to keep the speakers and rear deck in place too.  However I was never happy with the way the rear deck came out.  I know it must have been a pain with the roll cage there but I'm just not happy with it.  I may look in to getting that replaced/re-done down the road.

To clarify, I'm removing the carpet because the sub frame connectors from Detroit Speed are welded in to the floor pans, from both the bottom and inside of the car; so the carpet needs to come out.  I'm also getting a t56 tunnel cut so the carpet has to be removed for that as well.

I plan on keeping the interior out for a while even after I get the car back.  I'd like to prep and paint the inside of those pans myself before the carpet gets laid back in.  I'd also like to find another interior guy to lay the carpet again.  As you can see from the photos below; the carpet was a custom job the last time the carpet was done.  It was glued down so I'm assuming it's going to get trashed when I get around to removing it this weekend.


So much room for activities now:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:58:07 PM
Spoke with D.S.E. today and was notified that my frame is in mid assembly at the moment.  They will be calling me one week before it is shipped to my builder.  It ships freight so it will likely take 4 business days to get from N.C. to N.Y.  It's being shipped with the sub frame connectors too.

I'm planning on getting the car to the builder one week before the frame gets there so the shop can drop the factory frame, motor, trans, driveshaft, rear suspension, all brakes, tank, and everything else under there, sand blast and/or wire brush what they can reach, prep, paint and POR15 the entire under side of the car.

They can then hopefully get the tank mounted and have everything ready for the new frame.

With that I have from now until mid April to get everything else off of the firewall, all wires labeled and accounted for, remove the rest of the interior and that's pretty much it.

It's still pretty crappy outside in N.Y. so it's a pretty miserable experience doing anything in the garage.

I was able to talk to a buddy's father who has a heated and de-humidified garage.  Once I get the carcass back from the shop I'll be storing it there.  Pretty excited about that.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:58:52 PM
Tonight I got around to removing the rest of the back seat(s), seat belts, center console, the entire carpet and doorsills.

I also ended up ordering Detroit Speed's Ls7 engine mounts today so my builder can mock up a dummy T56 and Ls1 for the new transmission tunnel he'll be cutting when I drop it off in mid April/late April.

Carpet Removed/Some status photos:










[COLOR="silver"]- - - Updated - - -[/COLOR]

I just ordered the POR15 trunk and floorpan repair kit.  It comes with a three stage application process. 

Before it gets here I've got to head up to Niagara Falls and pick up seam sealer (for the pans), painters tape, painters paper to protect the door panels and dash, a few masks, paint thinner, some wire brushes and some elbow grease.

Temperature depending, I'm going to go at those pans pretty hard tomorrow and on Sunday with a shop vac and wire brushes.  I need to remove all the loose debris, and rough up the surface of the pans.  Overall they are in great shape for a 41 year old car. 

Only surface rust on the low spots.  Most of the factory seam seal is still doing its job but I'm going to replace them all anyway.  You can tell this thing really only has 38,xxx original miles.

I'll remove the kick panels, and gas pedal tomorrow in preparation for the POR15.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 10:59:35 PM

It might not look like much but that's 6 hours of non stop wire brushing and sanding.  I'm happy I'm doing this myself because it's tasks like this that are best done by the owner.  It's simply elbow grease and time.  Any shop would've taken an equal amount of time or simply gone straight to POR15 without the prep work I'm putting in.

I was hoping I'd be able to avoid taking my grinder out but I think I'm going to buy a few grinder disks and take as much as I can down to bare metal before the Marine Cleaner and metal etching spray go down.  Do it right or don't do it at all.

Pics from the afternoon (all driver's side; haven't touched passenger side yet:

Rocker area - Driver's side; still tidy as hell:

Another of the rocker:

Driver's side pan under seat after sanding/wire brush:

Another of the Driver's side seat pan area (lowest point of the entire pan), only surface rust:

This is the worst area of the entire pan, driver's side foot well area.  That's the e-brake cable leading out to the rear.  The pic makes it look a lot worse than it is; a wire wheel will tidy this up nicely:

Driver's side rear ladder bar channel (between it and the B-pillar) post sanding/wire brush:

Another of the ladder bar channel post sanding:

The only three pieces of factory seam seal that failed in 41+ years:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 11:00:10 PM

What started off being a simple floor pan massaging has turned in to a complete interior tear down, cowl tear down and firewall clean up (inside and outside).  It's turned in to this because I'm going to have a whole two summer's where I'm paying this all off while the car will be ripped apart. 

With it being in that state, and since I'm already this far in it only makes sense to rip everything out, lay new heat shield down, prep the firewall and re-wire the whole thing.

And with that Sunday was more deconstruction than anything else; taking special care not do damage any interior pieces, not to break any clips or clamps.  It's very time consuming and tedious work and kind of a shame because 8 years ago I paid an interior specialist to finish it and now I'm going in reverse to get at everything I need to.

So today I removed all brake lines, fuel line, power steering line, and the main wiring harness that resided forward of the firewall and inside the engine bay.  I also removed the brake booster, heater core, cabin fan assembly, and wiper motor assembly.

I also loosened the fuse box behind the steering wheel, the glove box, most of the air ducting assembly, kick panels, A pillar covers, B pillar covers, roof line trim and other misc. trim pieces.

I also removed the door panels and will be removing the doors this weekend when I have a buddy to assist.  The doors on 2nd Gen F Bodies are very heavy and I decided to replace the door hinges with aftermarket strengthened ones.  I've heard they don't make them any more so if they don't and I need to save the stock ones I want those doors off while my legs hang out of the car for hours on end over the next few years - give those hinges a rest.

I'll also be removing the dashboard this weekend.  I need to do this for a few reasons.  1)  To get at the firewall fully, and 2)  To remove the heater core.  I can't get to that ****er without pulling the entire dashboard out.  If it wasn't for this most of what I ended up deciding to rip today out never would have been considered but one thing led to another...

[COLOR="silver"]- - - Updated - - -[/COLOR]

Firewall/Engine Bay:  Heater removed, fan assembly removed, wiper assembly removed, brake booster removed, fuel line cut forward of firewall, brake lines removed forward of fire wall, Speedo disconnected, wiring harness (engine bay portion) removed.






The only issue so far that I can't get past is the last bolt holding the master cylinder on.  I stripped it and then took a reciprocating saw to it but it's still snug as a bug.  I'm replacing the entire assembly with a manual brake system from Wilwood so the shop will just take a torch to it and get it off.

Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on March 26, 2017, 11:00:51 PM

B Pillar trim removed:

Passenger Door Panel and A Pillar removed:

Passenger B pillar trim removed:

Drivers side door panel removed and steering wheel:

Drivers side door jam and underside:


Passenger side door jam and underside:





Cowl area condition:





Fuse box disconnected.  Will be replaced by Ls7 harness.  This will all get re-wired; one by one:

Tired suspension:


Time to bag and tag:
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 01, 2017, 06:21:54 PM
3/31 -  Weather blows.  In preparation for blasting and spray, disassembly continued: 

Car leaves for engine/trans. and final strip on April 18th.  As of April 1st, I still need to remove the dash, some wiring and heater core.  I may even get around to dropping the tank and what remains of the fuel and brake lines if I feel comfortable enough getting her off all fours and on to jack stands.  We'll see.

On 3/31:  I removed the rear deck, speakers and a few misc. trim pieces.  A buddy stopped over in the afternoon to assist in the removal of the doors and storage.  They are heavy as hell.  The Ring Brothers make a reinforced hinge for second gens for about $700.  I might pick up a pair later this year.  Grab them while you can.  They are the only alternative to repo OEM.

I planned on getting the dash out on Saturday but weather was too shitty to work outside so we pulled the doors off and quit for the day.  I have another friend driving in from out of town to assist with the dash either on Sunday or sometime this week.  Fingers crossed for less rain.







D.S.E/ Ls7 Engine Mount:




Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 05, 2017, 10:28:17 PM
4/5:  Staged car for tank, fuel line, e-brake, and brake line removal

I've been putting off getting the car on four jack stands for many reasons.  It was mainly because getting a car off of all fours is downright terrifying.  In addition to this and after reading countless F-Body threads I've become aware that lifting an entire end of an F-Body is the preferred method (mainly because of the uni-body construction).  An F-Body without its doors is even worse.

Some body flex can occur when lifting these cars at one corner at a time.  Obviously my roll cage assists in defending against this but it's still mildly concerning.  With it in first gear I lifted the front by the sub frame cross member (both front wheels at the same time) and placed my 2 3 ton jack stands in place on the second notch (so probably 15 inches in the air) under the lower control arms.  In order to ensure they were seated correctly I took a hammer to the base to ensure all four feet were flush with the concrete.  I then rocked each corner to ensure it wasn't going anywhere and tossed an old 9 inch wheel below the motor and pulled out the floor jack.

Next, I grabbed a 1 inch thick piece of maple and placed it between the differential and floor jack, and raised the rear.  I then placed wheel/tire ramps below each rear tire instead of jack stands.  Threw another wheel below the rear shock towers and rocked the whole car in every direction making sure it wasn't going anywhere.

Anyway, I picked up a siphon pump and two wheel ramps from Harbor Freight.  There was roughly 19 gallons of 95 octane in the old tank.  Luckily my Jeep was on a half tank so I fueled it up and then took the remainer to my lawn mower, my girlfriends car and my neighbors.  The Harbor Freight siphon pump I picked up is a great deal; worked like a champ ($6.49).





My plan for this weekend is to remove the dash, tank, lines, truck carpet, rear bumper, lights, heater core, steering column and some misc. crap.

Car gets shipped out on Tuesday.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 06, 2017, 11:33:16 PM
I finally got an estimate of what it's going to cost to have it tossed on a rotisserie, blasted, SPI epoxied and then painted.  Budget depending, I was hoping to have the undercarriage, interior pans, and interior trunk each/all blasted/SPI/and painted.

As it turns out...just having it tossed on the rotisserie and having the undercarriage blasted/SPI and painted is going to cost ~$2,000.  So, while I may be able to afford the interior pans and trunk as well...the budget is a little too tight for comfort at the moment.

Undercarriage is definitely going to happen.  Still waiting on my builder to give his final quote for the sub frame instal/sub frame connectors and t56 tunnel quote.  After I get that I'll be able to assess if I can afford the interior pans and trunk massage as well.

Getting really excited now!
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 06, 2017, 11:33:50 PM
4/6:  Removed rear bumper, tail light housings, nitrous line, loosened brake lines and fuel line (just waiting on fuel tank drop to remove brake and fuel lines completely).


Title: Re: '76
Post by: NOT A TA on April 07, 2017, 08:15:04 PM
Have you considered making some wheel cribs? Ramps and jack stands make me nervous, stopped using them for most jobs many years ago.

(http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff292/NOTATA/Brads%2069%20Camaro/009_zps6e4616aa.jpg) (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/NOTATA/media/Brads%2069%20Camaro/009_zps6e4616aa.jpg.html)
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 09, 2017, 11:14:39 PM
I've seen those before on other build threads.  I'll end up making those too once I get the car back and start running hard lines, laying lizard skin on pan joints and what not after the media blast.

Definitely worth the time for sure.

Thanks again for another good bit on insight.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 09, 2017, 11:15:41 PM
4/8:  Dropped gas tank, all fuel lines, brake lines, all wiring of 'back-half',
 trunk carpet, and rear plate holder -

Upon dropping the tank and pulling the trunk carpet I found one small rust hole in the trunk pan.  I'm very disappointed.  I didn't expect to find anything warranting metal repair.  I have a few options.  Option 1 would be to just patch it with option two being replacing the entire pan.

I flooded the trunk pan with brake cleaner to loosen up as much of the carpet glue and trunk tar as I could in preparation of what direction I decide to take tomorrow.  It's difficult to explain where the hole is but based on all aftermarket replacement pans I've seen for sale...I don't think those pans even 'cover' this section of the trunk where the hole resides.  I may have to have this hole patched in addition to biting the bullet and having the whole trunk pan replaced.

I'll pick up a few grinder wheels tomorrow and dig in to it after I remove the dashboard.

I took a ton of photos of the underside to send over to my sand blaster/metal repair/paint guy to give him an idea of what we're working with here but they are all close ups and not really worth posting on here/a forum.  Here are a few of the tank, lines, trunk and this damn rust hole.






The trunk pan seems super thin.  The bottom of it (looking at it from the bottom) is rust free.  Whatever rot developed originally originated from within; not from salt/water/exposure to the elements; old age is what did that pan in.

I foresee the grinder wheel only worsening the hole(s).  But, if the grinder does/did...sandblasting sure as well will too.

Overall I can't be too upset.  I spent a good 30 mins picking and poking under that car today.  No other MAJOR concerns looking forward to the blast.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 09, 2017, 11:16:34 PM
4/9:  Removed Dash and all wiring -

Today a buddy of mine and I removed the Dashboard and all wiring from the car.  There is not a single wire/cable in that car any longer.  Other than a few clips and retaining cable braces it's as stripped as I can take it prior to handing it over.

I may remove the rear disk brake disks prior to handing it over depending on how that may or may not complicate the rear wheel spacing in the mini tubs.  I'd also like to remove the rear wheel spoilers too.

We worked for 7 hours straight making sure to disconnect every wire from its source in the dash; opting not to hack and cut wires like cavemen - as these tear downs usually end up turning in to.  It required a lot of patience and attention to detail.  Taking dashboards out from this generation requires going based on 'feel'.  You push, pull, tap and listen closely...listening to when those old clamps are either about to break, snap or properly break loose.

We didn't break a single tab, clip, clamp or anything.  Not a single bolt or nut as been misplaced or unidentified.  I'm extremely proud of this.

I didn't have enough time today to dig in to the trunk pan although I wanted to.  I simply ran out of day light.  Weather was perfect.  Couldn't have been happier with today's teardown.

Thank you for following.

















Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 09, 2017, 11:40:11 PM
Hey John,

Here are a few pics of the undercarriage so you have a better idea what we're working with (in reference to our PM).  I know it's difficult to know where each photo is/what each photo is of but most of these are of the same area and essentially of the same sections.  They are all of the rear section behind the rear axle...where the gas station mounts.  These are the primary areas I'm concerned that the blast will compromise.  I hadn't originally planned on digging this deep but since I'm here I don't know if I should go full force/go through with the sand/media blast or not?!
































Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on April 14, 2017, 09:42:05 AM
4/11 to 4/14:  The waiting game -

Nothing too significant to report; well nothing very positive at least.

- I removed the rear wheel spoilers, the rear Strange Disk Brake calipers and hardline.
- I wire wheeled spots of the rear trunk pan that would require patch work if I decide to go that route.
- I wire wheeled portions of the under trunk area and under (inside) tail section area as well.

Now I'm not a body guy but from what I can see and from what the trail of rust is telling me is that there are truly only three portions that would warrant patch work on the entire underside of that car (all surrounding the trunk pan to tail section panel seam).  From what I've read and researched from the help of a few fellow F-Body guys, and articles I've come across is that replacing the trunk pan, rear cross support and re-installing the tail panel is an extensive process yet common place for all 2nd gens. 

The silver lining in my case is that "if the tail panel is rusted...this ALWAYS warrants cross member replacement".  My tail panel however is in prefect condition (at least on the outside it is).  Even the interior lining to the bottom portion of the tail panel is in perfect condition.

I'm not opposed to paying for a complete new pan and cross member support/section if this is in fact needed but again I'm leaving that to the professionals before I start drilling out spot welds etc.  I do however think I may be able to get away with professional grade patch work/repair.

The other thing, and quite disappointing actually is that my Detroit Speed Engineering hydroformed powder coated front sub frame is delayed...and by a lot.  The lead time was originally 6-8 weeks.  It says this on the website.  I've called one time each week in week 3, 4, 5, and now 6.  I've been told time and time again that everything was on schedule.

So, yesterday I called D.S.E. (week 6) to check up on the status of the frame because my builder wants the car 1 week before the frame arrives for metal repair work and the t56 tunnel (my builder WAS going to pick up the car from my house on the 18th).  The 18th would have been exactly 7 weeks since I placed the order...essentially giving my builder one week plus 3 days shipping time.

Anyway, yesterday a D.S.E. representative told me that the frame rails...the actual freaking frame rails are not even MADE yet.  I'm not talking about not having been shipped to D.S.E. or just not powder coated...but they are not even MADE yet (D.S.E. outsources them).

He goes on to tell me that they are planning on the 28th now.  Then they get sent to D.S.E. for assembly with the cross member support.  Then it gets powder coated.  Then suspension, steering and final assembly gets completed.  Then it ships.  So it turns out that they are planning on mid or late MAY now PLUS SHIPPING!

So 6-8 weeks of lead time means nothing I guess.  More like 12 to 13 weeks.  I am not happy.
Title: Re: '76
Post by: OD_Simple on December 27, 2017, 03:55:17 PM
12/27:  Update

I haven't posted for a while.  Many delays.  I got the car back from media blasting.  I can't say I'm thrilled with the result.  I'm very happy with the undercarriage and interior.  I'm a little disappointed with the firewall, cowl, and trunk result.  I'll end up having to take a wire wheel to the firewall and cowl areas that I'm not happy with.