Author Topic: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts  (Read 3469 times)

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Offline aleksanders

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1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« on: June 07, 2011, 11:18:13 AM »
Hi there...

I finally started out the restoration of my 1978 Trans am that I bought about 1 year ago from the US. My name is Aleksander and I am fro Norway.
I found this Trans am on Ebay and took contact with the owner and after a couple of conversations the deal was done.

I thought the car would be a little bit better than it was so I have now finally decided to make this car a show car.
I want a complete frame off restoration. I have allready started out with the disassembling of parts and inspected much of the car.
The owner of the car told me the car was 100% rust free and I must say I am a little bit shocked about that he could mean that.
I will show you with pictures and try to write as much as possible and hopefully you would understand my english.
English isn't my main lanugage so I have little bit troubles explaining everything but I would try to be as clear as possible.
I also hope that you make comments about my project and really help me out when I am going to assemble everything back again because this is my FIRST frame off restoration. I have a 87 Camaro which I have done small rebuilds all over the car the last years but that car is in much better condition than the Trans AM. ;D

Anyway, here it goes.........

Here are some pictures of when the car came to Norway and some pictures the days after:



























Now as you can see the car looked pretty good on the pictures, even though the pictures could have been better. I had some more pictures on my computer which I received from the seller of the car's underbody and everything looked actually pretty good.
Well that was back then. Now I am going to show you the beginning of the Restoration progress.

I parked the car 1 month ago in this garage so this is the last spot for the car before it looks better:





Here is the first bolt being removed from the car by me. My girlfriend took a picture as I started out the progress:


Then the hood was removed:




Then I removed the front bumper and the front bumper reinforcement bar:




Next was the outer and inner fenders on both sides:











Here I have removed the radiator foundation and everyhing around the engine.
As you can see the heater box is also removed so the firewall is almost 100% stripped.
The firewall looked very good by the way:









After this proceidure I went inside the car and started out there with removing the door panels and the seats:











Then after a lot of patience and some bad words coming out of my mouth I managed to remove the dash pad with it's components:








Then I removed the seat belts and all the interior trim so I could take out the carped to check out the most common rust place if you ask me, the floor pans. And this was the point where I was in shock how the earlier owner of this car had fixed the rust. Remember the car was supposed to be RUST FREE  ;)

Here is one of the floor pans:


As you can see there is a simple metal plate lying over the spot where the feet of the passangers should be.

The plate was barely fastened so I removed the plate's on all passenger "feet" spots and here are the result:















As you can see the car is 100% rust free  :o  :o  ::)


Anyway, I have decided to just buy new both of the floor pans and weld in brand new ones so this would be a problem in the future.
After removing all the rest of the interior parts and the headliner the car looked actually pretty well all around.

Here are some pics of the roof when headliner was removed:







As you can see the roof all around looks pretty good. I guess that has also something to do that this is a Hard-top Car and not a t-top.
Which is something I am going to change. I am still considering if I want a roof swap since I already be going to do a lot of body work here.
What to you guys think???... :)
I have been in contact with some guys that sells fisher t-top roofs and I have also read and heard that a lot of people is doing this swap.
Anyway I still haven't consider yet if I am going to do it.


One of my MAIN plans of this car is to paint the entire car black with the SE edition stripes and decals.
I have always wanted to own a bandit and to make that wish come true this is the way to go.


Back to the project again....I started over removing parts from the rear end of the car:





Here are some pics of the inside of the thrunk while removing the rear bumper:





After the rear bumper and lights was removed I found some new spots with rust behind the bumper cover:







Some other places I discovered some rust was the inside of the quarter panels:
Here is a picture but is difficult to see:





Above the rear axle area looked pretty good:






This is as far as I have worked on the car by now. Have only spent a couple of weeks on this so I know I have a LOT more to do in the future when everything is going to be repaired and assembled back again.
The only thing I have done since the last pictures you are seeing here is that I have removed the Pontiac 400 engine from the car and put it in a engine stand. That engine is also going to be rebuilt but first of all the entire body and interior are going to be in shape first.

The frame all around the car looks perfect. Only some spots which will dissappear after sand blasting the entire frame.


I will post new updates as soon as I do something more on the car and I will also need to ask you guys who have done this type of restoration before some questions on how to do each step and so on....
Hope you will enjoy my project :)

Aleksander!

Offline brian c

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2011, 11:51:12 AM »
Looks like a very good starting point. It's sad that you were misled about the condition of the car but I was expecting to see much worse by the way the post started out.

As for the hardtop vs t-top arguement....well its your car but if it were me, I'd leave it be. As nice as the t-tops are, the sun will bake you through the glass tops.

BTW: I like your garage! Wish I had that luxury!!

1978 Y88, '70 455 HO block bored 0.060, TH350, 3.42:1 gears...Oct '08 Fbodywarehouse Calendar - Woot!
1980 Firebird - no engine/tranny... to be pacecar clone

Offline aleksanders

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2011, 12:07:05 PM »
Thanks for responding Brian.

Yeah I guess the car look good overall, but I was just a little misled about the condition since the owner said the car was rust free.
I Do know that the car is very good starting point though so I am happy about that. It also makes me happy to hear that from others because like I mentioned earlier, this is my first frame off restoration.

This is a project which is going to take some time also for me to restore here in Norway. You can take you prices in US on the restoration parts for example from National Parts depot, Classic industries and Yearone. Add 25% to the price there plus a LOT in shipping.
Then you will have the price that I need to pay  :'(

Thanks for the comment on my garage. Actually it was my grandfathers garage. He built it couple of years ago and used it as a storehouse. Now he had passed away so I have taken over and will use it as a workshop/garage...:)
Aleksander!

Offline golfswithglock

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 12:38:18 PM »
All in all, not a bad base to start from. I'd leave some pretty nasty feed back on the seller's profile. In my honest opinion, T-Tops are a must on a Trans Am. But it's a ton of work to modify your hardtop. Looks like you don't mind work, so I'd say do it. Get those floorpans fixed asap. I may have missed it in the reading, how did it drive when you got it?
RAIDER NATION

Offline kc79ta

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2011, 01:30:31 PM »
Sorry to hear about the rust. Looks like your taking the right steps to get it done right. Great looking T/A. I'm sure you will have it looking even better. Good luck and keep us posted.

By the way your english and spelling are better then most of us here in the U.S.  ;)
Keith

Offline aleksanders

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2011, 02:03:45 PM »
All in all, not a bad base to start from. I'd leave some pretty nasty feed back on the seller's profile. In my honest opinion, T-Tops are a must on a Trans Am. But it's a ton of work to modify your hardtop. Looks like you don't mind work, so I'd say do it. Get those floorpans fixed asap. I may have missed it in the reading, how did it drive when you got it?

I think I want to send a mail to the seller of the car with some of the pictures that I have taken, just so he would see how the car actually was. The car was actually very nice to drive even though all of the bushings and frame bushings needs to be renewed because they were all worn out. I picked up the car in the capitol city here in Norway and had to drive about 400miles to get home to where I lived so I was taking a chance since I didn't know for sure how the excatly was. But the car drove nice all the way and the engine sounds very nice also.

The car has about 95,000miles on it :)
Aleksander!

Offline Nathan_DK

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 03:35:20 PM »
Hei Aleksander!

That looks like a very nice project. I understand your dissapointment with the rust that you discovered, especially when the seller claimed that the car was 100% rust free  >:(

I'm working on a similar project, check it out if you need some inspiration on what to do, and especially what NOT to do!

http://www.78ta.com/smf/index.php?topic=26013.msg337599#new

A couple of pieces of advice:

Don't throw away ANYTHING, until the car is completed. Even the smallest, rustiest part might be important and hard to find elsewhere.

Be sure to install the molding clips around the windshield and rear window BEFORE installing the windows. I did it in the wrong order, so now, there's not enough room to install all of the clips  :-[

Good luck with your project, keep the pics flowing!
'75 T/A 455 T-tops ('77/'79 clone)
'90 Audi 200 turbo quattro 20V

Offline Frode_skj

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 05:27:46 PM »
Hi, sorry to hear of your rust issues :(
but still a nice project :) keeping the car red?
I'm from Norway too, live just outside Bergen :)
"79 Trans Am tenth Anniversary Edition"
"81 Turbo Trans Am"
Sad to see that people part out T\A's :( especially saveable ones

Offline aleksanders

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 06:16:41 PM »
Hei Aleksander!

That looks like a very nice project. I understand your dissapointment with the rust that you discovered, especially when the seller claimed that the car was 100% rust free  >:(

I'm working on a similar project, check it out if you need some inspiration on what to do, and especially what NOT to do!

http://www.78ta.com/smf/index.php?topic=26013.msg337599#new

A couple of pieces of advice:

Don't throw away ANYTHING, until the car is completed. Even the smallest, rustiest part might be important and hard to find elsewhere.

Be sure to install the molding clips around the windshield and rear window BEFORE installing the windows. I did it in the wrong order, so now, there's not enough room to install all of the clips  :-[

Good luck with your project, keep the pics flowing!


Hi Nathan. Thanks for replying to my thread
Nice project you have by the way. It is kind of the same project that I've got.
I didn't know about the molding clips so thanks for that one. My plan was to mount them after the windows are installed but I guess I will put on the moldings first then.

As far as I know now the rust areas are both of the floor pans which isn't so hard to get new one's. And the trunk extension panels.
The trunk pan itself also had some small spots but I guess I could just use metal pieces and weld over those spots.
The same with the rear body panel where the bumper and tail lights are mounted. There were some spots to that I am going to use some new metal and the cut out and weld in process to fix.

I really liked the exhaust system you've got on your car from pypes performance exhaust. I was thinking of buying the same on my 400 pontiac engine. I think I would spare my money and just keep the 400 block. I am gonna rebuild the engine and throw in new heads, a camshaft with a little higher lift and some headers. Then rebuild the quadrajet carb and put on a pypes exhaust. That would probably wake up the engine a bit.

Keep posting on you project to Nathan. Nice with some inspiration :)

Aleksander!

Offline aleksanders

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2011, 06:21:11 PM »
Hi, sorry to hear of your rust issues :(
but still a nice project :) keeping the car red?
I'm from Norway too, live just outside Bergen :)

Hi there Frode. Thanks for responding to my thread. Nice to hear that here are other guys from Norway to. I guess you agree with me about the price on the parts here in Norway?...I live about 1 hour from Ålesund by the way so we are not so far away from each other.

I think I want to paint the car black like the smokey and the bandit car. I've always wanted that type of car and since I found this one so close to what I wanted for a reasonable price I bought the car with the painting plans already planned.
I am still wondering if I am going to do a rood swap or to keep the hard top. The hard top itself is in perfect condition so there is a chance that I am going to keep it. We will see with the time. I still have some stripping left with the car before the body is ready for bodywork....

Do you have any projects going on Frode??? :)
Aleksander!

Offline Frode_skj

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2011, 12:58:08 AM »
Will be a nice car when it's done, that's for sure:)
I got my 79 TATA, that's not so much to do with, except the interior, and fixing up the trunk to presentable condition :)
Also I have a little bigger project, in my 81 Turbo Trans Am, but I don't have a garage place for that one :( So it will not be a frame off at this moment at least. Will just get it running and get it registered :) Ålesund aint so far away no :)
"79 Trans Am tenth Anniversary Edition"
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Sad to see that people part out T\A's :( especially saveable ones

Offline aleksanders

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2011, 03:04:37 AM »
Hey there. I need some tips of what to do with the rusty rear area on my car.
The floor pans in the car are being replaced for sure but I am still confused about what to do
with the trunk and rear end area.

As you can see there is some rust on the tail panel witch goes around and on to the center trunk panel.

And the trunk extensions on the sides are also pretty rusty.
What do you guys suggest for fixing the rear tail panel and the center panel in the trunk area??
Replacing the panels or try to fix them with telding in new metal???

I don't have a ny good tools for shaping metal at the time but I can buy that of course.

But I think the best result would be to replace all of the rusty sheet metal with new ones??
The only problem is that the shipping quotes from US are killing me with the big body sheet metals.


Aleksander!

Offline 79taman

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2011, 04:52:01 AM »
Aleksanders, Adding new floor pans is the way to go on this project, I don't have an answer for you on the trunk rust but my Uncle Tom always said, When in doubt just change it, In your case he would probably tell you to change the trunk pan if you are not happy with just a patch job, Myself I am a bit of a perfectionist and I can't stand the thought of my expensive paint being sprayed over a patch when I could have replaced the whole section...My project is in much worse shape than yours, I guess for you it wouldn't be so bad if you had been told the truth in the beginning, Either way it is what it is and you can make it even greater than it ever was, I am looking forward to your build so I can learn from it as I have learned from many builds before yours so be encouraged my friend and build your American dream from Norway!!! ;D
Joey
Link to my project!

Offline brian c

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2011, 09:19:18 AM »
IF it were me, for the tail panel (where the tail lights and bumper bolts to) I'd simply cut out the rusted areas and weld in some replacement metal. It doesn't have to be perfect as it will be hidden by the bumper. Much simpler too especially if your other option is to have parts sent to you across the pond which I'd wager is rather expensive.

Same for the trunk floors as its mostly flat steel which appears to be in areas that are readily accessible.

Of course if you're trying to do a concourse restoration and metal working isn't your thing, then by all means order the replacement panels as its the way to go ;)

1978 Y88, '70 455 HO block bored 0.060, TH350, 3.42:1 gears...Oct '08 Fbodywarehouse Calendar - Woot!
1980 Firebird - no engine/tranny... to be pacecar clone

Offline Greenbird76

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Re: 1978 T/A Restoration finally starts
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2011, 10:21:15 AM »
      Alexanders, Im sorry you were misled by that previous owner and that you could not really inspect the car before purchase.  All in all the car looks very complete and in great restorable condition.
      I just replaced the tail panel, inner tail valence, trunk estensions, 21 inches of each frame rail, and rear quater extensions on my car. (The rear quarter extensions were held on by red Duct tape when I bought the car!  LOL)  I did it in my garage with basic power, air tools, jck stands and ramps.  A good set of spot weld cutters is a great small investment.  They are small hole saws that fit onto a regular drill.  I could of patched the tail panel as mentioned above, but I wanted my car to look as original as possible and wanted every bit of rust off the car so I removed and replaced all the rotted panels using mostly donor pieces.  The inner panel, for instance is not repopped by anyone yet and must be gathered from a donor.  This is the inner section of the tail panel right behind the gas tank.  The only part I had to by new was the tail panel.  The floors are any easy fix.  Mine actually only needed 2 small patches and some plug welds.  How is the trunk pan? 
     Check out my Photo Bucket page-( http://s1184.photobucket.com/albums/z340/greenbird76/  ), it has hundreds of pictures and follows the build right up to this October.  My car is a 1976 Firebird Esprit.  1974-1978 tail sections are identical so if you need any help just ask.