Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some progress

I've slipped in a vacation and had some additional house work which has delayed some of my efforts on getting this car inspected. I just haven't had the time I would like to work on the car, but I suppose, priority-wise, I am working on the right things.

I have however had time to be scouring eBay for 68 Lemans/GTO parts; looking for interesting ideas and getting a feel for how expensive certain things are. I've picked up:
  • A working GTO Rally Clock which will install into the 3rd empty dash hole. There are really two ideas for this hole, the Rally Clock, and an in-Dash Tach. I opted to search for a clock since I am wanting to put a GTO hood on the Lemans (although no GTO emblems or such) and I think I've opted for a new hood tach, since I have an HEI distributor upgrade.
  • A used dash face bezel which does not have the radio holes cut out. My dash has a modern box cd/radio cut into it, and this dash bezel will allow me to restore the dash to a more original look should I desire to do so.
  • 66-72 New York State License Plates which I hope to get put on the car soon. The key factor will be whether or not the number is available, and I did not verify this prior to buying the plates -- they seem to go pretty easy on eBay -- if I cannot get the number registered (because some else is using a different years plates with the same number) then I'll just put these up for sale again and buy another set later.
  • 3 rear GM seat belts for $72; which I've actually installed. I soaked the original seat belt bolts in the penetrating catylist, and put some anti-seize lube on them. The seat belts are used and not show quality. I guess I'll keep my eye out for a really cheap deal, but show quality belts are going for anywhere from $175-$350 dependent on quality and what's actually in the package.
  • An engine compartment hood light.
  • New NOS GM door lock stems. The car came with some cheezy "dice" stems.
  • A wood-grained upgraded GTO steering wheel (not the hardwood model which seems to go for about $500). This replaces a very ugly Grant "racing" steering wheel and really the interior a much more stock, natural look.
After installing the seat belts, I took my girls to the drive-in last night which was really cool. We did good getting there and back -- however, in driving back, the headlights went out for an instant (driving lights still on) and then back on... and then again a second later. Drove it straight home and obviously have something not quite right there. My guess is the grounds to the headlights aren't quite solid and it causes it to fail intermittently. Also, after watching two movies running the stereo and some internal lights, the battery was just barely able to crank the motor -- luckily the car likes to start right up and it didn't turn out to be a problem. I would expect a battery charge to hold longer than that, although the battery is supposed to be only a few months old.

On the inspection front I have the following left:
  • Replace the mufflers. The hole in the driver's side muffler really adds just a bit too much "ambiance" to the sound for me; and it probably isn't too, too wise driving the car around at this decibel level. I am leaning towards FlowMaster 50-s because I want the car a little quieter than the 40s (since its a convertible) and because the 50-s look like they come in a size I can just plug replace the cherry-bomb glass-packs that are on it now.
  • Adjust parking brake. I've been under the car a couple times and in looking at this issue, it seems that I'm missing a cable hanger, which may be in the box of parts I got... I've seen an s-shaped wire floating around, which looks suspiciously like the cable hanger.
  • Horn and Flashers. When Larry was here, he put on the stock steering wheel, but the horn mechanism doesn't quite match, and we are thinking the steering wheel really is a '69 and the horn relay seems to be slightly different, which seems to require a notch in the receiver stem to hold the mechanism in place -- something apparently the '68 didn't need. Also, I have traced the interior wires to the horn to terminate inside the engine compartment and that has to be run inside the passenger compartment and wired to the horn. Haven't debugged the flasher issue at all, but I have already noted that I've replaced the flasher unit in the dash already, but didn't correct this issue.
  • Backup Lights. I'm still only 1/2 way through getting the backup lights wired.
Other issues that I am limping along with and need to get corrected:
  • Engine leak. The thermostat housing is leaking and needs to be addressed. Should be trivial when I get the time. It does need a tune up as well.
  • Transmission leak. I still haven't addressed the transmission leak, but in reading forums and such, the TH-400 seems to be prone to leak, and I'm thinking that the next step is to look at what it will take to replace the dip stick shroud.
  • Read End leak. I need to identify my rear-end -- it is a 10-bolt, but I don't know if it is the heavy duty kind, and I have no idea what kind of gearing is in there -- posi or whether it is stock gears or upgraded to 3.55 or higher. I suspect it is stock 2.93 because my RPMs in 4th gear at 60 is a little over 2,000. If the rear-end gear was higher, like 3.55 or so, I would think the RPMs would range from 3,000-3,500 at 60.
  • Door Locks. I do not have keys to the door locks; I have ignition and trunk keys. I need to have copies made of the keys I do have, and I plan to go to real locksmith and get his opinion on what the best options are. There are plenty of complete replacements on eBay, so it's really a matter of trying to figure out what the easiest plan of attack is. One option will be power, remote locks which I am interested in pursuing.
  • Rear Light Sockets. I still sorely need to replace the rear light sockets to make them much more reliable.
I won't even list the upgrades that are running through my head.... one thing at a time -- its easy to let your mind wander... I really want to keep things realistic and to-date, I just haven't lots of time for much work yet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seat Belt Bolts

One of the projects I had given Larry was to see what can be done about the seat belt bolts. Those damn things were frozen solid and as I've previously blogged about, I'd tried even a propane torch to loosen them up. He made two suggestions: the first was we needed a 1/2 inch breaker-bar and the second was we get a 6-sided 13/16ths socket, rather than the 12-sided one I had. The 12-sided socket tends to round the edges of the bolt heads and a 6-side one would grip more of the bolt. I zipped down to Auto Zone and they had several length breaker-bars, and I went for the longest one (24-inches) having already done battle with the bolts and lost.

The bolts actually protrude through the floor pan and are open and accessible underneath. Larry had got under the car and scrubbed 39 years of grim, dirt and rust off of the visible parts of the bolts. He then shot some PB Penetrant Catalyst on them and let them sit overnight. The next morning he was able to spin 3 of the bolts fairly easily. The last one was a pain, but would spin about 1/4 revolution and stop. Larry sprayed some more penetrant on the bolt, wait 20 minutes, spin it another 1/4 revolution and it would stop. After a few iterations of 1/4 revolutions, it finally let loose and came out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Look before you leap

My mother and step-father have been out the past week from Ohio and in the interest of keeping Larry busy, I've given him a few things to do on the Le Mans. The very first thing I wanted to get started on was to install the replacement quarter-window on the driver's side. I had scoured eBay and other vendors and finally found a replacement at Chicago Muscle Cars, an eBay vendor. It cost $75 for the replacement glass and $40 for the sash and weatherstripping -- all used, from original GM A-Body convertible. This window was missing when I purchased the car and is a top priority to fix and I was very excited to find a replacement!

The window came in great shape the past week and I've been waiting to get the opportunity to install it. We removed the backseat and pulled the back interior armrest panels. Behind the armrest panel, is a regulator access panel which lets you reach into the body and position and adjust the quarter window as shown in the picture below.

At any rate, when we pulled the access panel, surprise! The original quarter window was actually between the regulator and body panel inside the quarter panel. Holy smokes! I can't believe a window that size could hide down in there. Any rate, after cleaning up the rollers, we removed the top two and the bottom regular bolts, removed the top window stop, and loosened the bolts surrounding the crank. We were able to hit the 3 rollers on the regular slides and get the 'regular lift arm roller" into "sash channel cam" as seen in this diagram. It was helpful to have two sets of hands for this operation, but probably could be done with someone alone with more patience than I. In order to see how the stop was properly positioned, we wound up having to pull the interior and access panel off of the passenger side as well. As it turns out the window stop was improperly installed on the passenger side, and we addressed this before buttoning it back up.

In the diagram, (looking down on the window) you can see the top two adjustment bolts clearly in the cut outs and you can actually make out the bottom bolt as viewed through the access area.

After lubing the rollers and regulator slides, the quarter glass was moving up and down freely. We had to adjust the window at the top two bolts and bottom bolt on the regulator to get the window at the right angle to be flush along the side of the driver's side window as well as the stop to ensure proper height. Before we buttoned up the interior, we backed the car out of the garage and put the top up. My top doesn't seal on either side of the quarter glass and it appears the weatherstripping is either improperly installed or is for the wrong GM-A body style car.

Larry has been busily working on other things that I will post a little later. I guess the morale of this story is, look before you leap. I had assumed I would need a quarter glass replacement when the car actually was hiding the original. Until you actually tear into the car, you never actually know what you're dealing with. I could have saved some money by having torn apart the interior and access panel prior to ordering the replacement parts.