My Nova

page 18

June / July 2013

First modification I had to do to the shock tower was to drill a hole for the later model idler arm. This idler arm has been modified with a bearing kit which replaces the original rubber bushing. The bearings make for less slop (tighter steering) and will reduce the effort to steer. I will need to install the other part of the kit in the center link later. After measuring I drilled the hole with a hole saw, I was glad I didn't have to do thath upside down under the car! There was a small bulge in the surface where the idler arm mounts, probably to let water run out of the front frame rail, which I had to grind down because it interfered with the idler arm. Once that was done I closed up some unneeded holes in the shock towers and went to work on the left front.

Somewhere in it's lifetime the Nova has had some damage which was repaired but not in a way I like it. The fit between the shock tower and radiator support wasn't great and one of the mounting holes didn't line up. The metal looked okay on the inside of the motor compartment but was wrinkled on the outside so it was obviously smoothed with bondo. I cut out the damaged part and made a template with cardboard since it is easy to cut and fold. Once this was done I transferred the template to metal sheeth and cut it to size. I had to make 2 folds so I went to my painter to use his metal brake and got clean folds quick and easy. After fitting numeral times and final trimming I drilled holes for plug welding and cleaned up the areas that needed to be welded. I am just starting with welding and still need a lot of practice before I will be able to do visible bodywork but I got this job done. The most important thing I did was take my time for fitment and preparation which I think made the job easier. I tried not to rush and keep the heat buildup down to prevent warping the thin metal and ground down the welds to clean up afterwards. It did feel great once the repair piece was in and that I did it myself :-)

At first I thought it would be cool to have this car without power steering/brakes and run it like it was in the old days. But this car won't be like it was 50+ years will have modified suspension, big brakes, overdrive manual transmission, comfortable seats and a nice stereo. Thinking about it I came to my senses and realized a car with wide tires and no power steering wouldn't be fun, especially when parking it. The original power steering for the Nova is an outdated system and even if I was going to put it on would require a lot of parts that are not available here in the junk yard to go hunting for Nova parts. Recently a new power steering box became available on the market but this would also require a power steering pump to be mated to the motor and new hoses and besides that a lot of money. After some research I decided to go for an Electric Power Steering (EPS) unit from an Opel Corsa (GM compact car). I sourced a unit on Ebay UK and also found an electronic control box that simulates the speed pulse signal. This unit has an adjustment knob with which to amount of assist can be adjusted.

At first I wanted to cut up the original steering column but I found out the turn signal switch is not in the top but along the column actuated by a small cable. This means I could cut the column but lose the turn signal switch, not a good option. I looked for a newer column with the turn signal switch in the top but without an ignition lock/key. The one I got was from a 1980 Chevy Van (I was told) and the good part is it is also a tilt column without any play in it. I disassembled the column and cut the lower part of the column tube to use for mock-up. The Opel column is bolted to the EPS unit so I cut that part of of it and tack welded the tube to it. After test fitting in the car a few times I rotated the motor up about 45degrees so it is partly hidden under the dash. Then I made some brackets, welded one to the pedal box and bolted the other to the EPS so it is adjustable. Again test fitted it and I am happy with how it sits so started measuring the length for the coupler shaft. I temporary mounted the shocktower so I could mount the steering box and measure where to cut the original steering shaft which is attached to the steering box. After cutting it I filed the shaft to a "double D" so it would fit the Corsa coupling. Only thing left was to shorten the coupling shaft which was not too hard. Next was shortening the tilt column and then welded the it to the bracket. I mounted the steering shaft, measured and cut it to length and started on attching the shaft to the coupler. First I drilled 3 holes and put in steel pins to prevent the shaft from rotating within the outer tube of the coupling. For safety I also welded the 2 pieces together. Between each step I assembled and checked everything for alignment and clearance. After cleaning and re-greasing I mounted the steering shaft back to the tilt column. With the column mounted to the EPS bracket I can just mount it to the EPS wit 4 bolts, the shaft coupler slides into place over the splined input shaft of the EPS. I didn't have to buy additional parts since I could use the couplings that came with the EPS unit. I welded an extra mounting point for the EPS unit to the pedal box so it is fixed and it's weight is supported.

GM steering wheels up to 1968 are mounted different compared to 1969 and later which I found out when I mounted my steering wheel on the newer column. It did fit since the shaft diameter and splines are equal but the turn signal cancelling cam was clocked wrong. I decided to modify my steering wheel and copied the the hole for the horn button contact on the cancelling cam from the steering wheel that came with the new column. By doing this I drilled halfway through one of the threaded holes for the steering wheel puller so I filled that part with 2 component metal repair and when it cured I drilled the hole again. Now I still needed threaded holes for a puller so I used the 2 small threaded holes for the 62 cancelling cam which is mounted on the bottom side of the steering wheel. I didn't drill all the way through so the wheel could still be used on an old column (if ever needed) and then used my thread repair kit to put in "helicoils".

Also mounted my new small tachometer on the column and the assembly was ready for the final test fit in the car. I will need to disassemble some parts and touch up the paint but after the final test fit with all components in place I can say the mechanical part is done. The electrical part I will do at a later stage when more components are mounted under the dash so I can see where to mount the control units.

I bought new wheels some time ago which was a set of 17x7 fronts and 17x8 rears thinking I would get them to fit but found out later the 8inch would be too wide for the Nova's narrow wheel wells. Two weeks ago I saw a similar set for sale and I contacted the seller if he would be interested in swapping my 8's for his 7's which were used just 100km max, his 8's were still in the box. I just paid for the tires and we swapped which makes my life a lot easier and the other guy is able to sell a set of 4 new 8" wheels so we were both happy. Just shows it never hurts to ask, worst thing someone can say is "no".

I had some time left when I went to the garage to test fit the power steering so I decided to scrape some dirt from the underside of the body, not very much but it's a start.

My to do list for the coming time has the following jobs noted: blast and paint the shock towers/radiator support and redrill the rear axle..... So much to do, so little time :-)



You can reach me by e-mail at: