I now have about 85% of the bottom painted, I have just the rear tubs and the small area behind the tubs left to do. Since I found some rust there first new patches have to be welded in, so I will leave that part for later. I sanded, cleaned and greased the bushing holes in the rear frame rails and pressed in the polyurethane bushings supplied with the Hotchkis lowering leaf package. To press them in I used a bolt/nut some large washers and the shackle plates and it took me about half an hour to get all 4 of them in. This set is very complete with all new polyurethane bushings and leaf pads, bigger than stock U-bolts and heavy duty shackles. After pressing in the rear bushings in the leafs (fronts are mounted by Hotchkis) I mounted the rear side of the leaf. I also installed the front mounting brackets to the leafs and new J-nuts inside the frame/body. The J-nuts are well lubed with copper grease so if I ever need to loosen the bolts I can do so without breaking them. Next was re-installing the E-brake cables which I cleaned up and lubricated. Also the LPG fuel line was re-installed, I didn’t put the normal fuel line back in. Exhaust had to go under before the rear axle to make this job easier. I will have to get the system fitted to the new headers so I need to bring it to a shop on a trailer I guess. Now I could roll the rear axle in place using my wooden cart and lift it onto the leafs (which is easier said then done lifting it while on your back under a car). After mounting it I jacked it up in order to mount the fronts after putting the Competition Engineering SFC’s (Sub Frame Connectors) in place. These SFC’s will make the car more rigid allowing the suspension to do their work better and preventing (most) body flex. They tie the front subframe onto the rear subframe which is a structural part of the body, this is why F-body cars are called uni-body cars.
Also sealed the transmission dipstick with some RTV sealant to be sure no leaks will occur here, I made a small bead above the O-ring underneath the ridge which rests on the transmission case.
After installing the plate on the firewall I started grinding the transitions from the plate to the firewall to get it as smooth as possible. I filled the holes left by the temporary screws with the epoxy and sanded it smooth after it cured.
It really started to look good but I am always trying to do the best possible job I can achieve…so my first attempt at body work started. I got me some Bondo (2k filler) and applied it and sanded it down, and applied it and sanded it down again. The trick with this is to keep sanding until you are satisfied. Most of the Bondo is sanded off again, just a small bit remains at the low spots. After this I applied filler primer (from a spray can) and sanded it smooth. Now I saw some more imperfections so I started again on those spots. The amount of time I spent on this job was a lot…I guess over 20hours, but I am new to this and from what I learned next time will probably take shorter. Then I put on a few layers of semi gloss black and all the preparation work showed off.
I use spray cans (no power => no compressor) and I was not satisfied with the black. It finally looked good after many layers but since it is 1K paint it can be wiped off with thinner or damaged by fuel, I did not go through all this trouble for a sub standard quality. The spray pattern from a can is also not very good, a small circle with not much paint and if you spray on more to get the previous layer covered it will run since it is too thin. This means many thin layers need to be applied which however will make it look good in the end. So after all this work it looked good but did not give the protection or have the durability of a 2k paint. Since the car still can’t roll taking it to a paint shop is no option either. I consulted a local (professional) paint supplier and discussed my options. They advised me to have them make spray cans for me with 2K paint, about 2,5 times more expensive then a normal spray can but sure worth the money! From now on I will use these, the spray pattern is like a paint gun, cone shaped with much more paint (thicker) coverage.
The result is far better then with a normal spray can and in my opinion easier to spray on. So the firewall was sanded one last time, 2K paint applied and it is sealed and finished now. It is not perfect but it's no show car, it will still be a driver. For a first timer I still think I did a good job……but I”ll let you be the judge of that.
Next is mounting the subframe back under the car :-) Since the end of this project is in sight I am thinking about repainting my car. It has to be done anyways but I am not sure if I should keep it silver or go for another color. Well…I still have enough other stuff to do before it’s time to decide on that.