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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
66 BADBOY's 66 Convertible Project - CHIMERA

Just wanted to take a chance to post some pics of my build. I'm extremely glad that Steve decided to allow a project/build sub-forum on the site. I think this is going to be a GREAT addition to the forum. I thought I'd give a little background on the project before I started posting pics. I won't have much time over the next few days to get the pics posted here yet (don't worry, you're not missing anything!! LOL) But in case you are really really really bored, you can click on my signature link to see some pics.

I've wanted a 66 Nova ever since I was a junior in high school. After graduation, I bought a decent 10-footer 72 Chevelle....a 66/67 Nova was more expensive than a 72 Chevelle back then, and I just couldn't afford it. But I could afford the Chevelle, and it was enough to keep me hooked on classics forever. But it was time to grow up, and I had to sell the Chevelle to get money for a down payment on my first house 1998, and that was it for classic cars for me for about 8 years.....

I got my Chevy II on 12.23.06 from a guy who was a member on here from North Carolina....and she was a ROUGH car. He already had a lot of the rotted panels removed, but he just gave up on it, and decided to sell it. It came with GM fenders, NOS quarters, Heidts MII front end, and most of what is needed to put it back together......but the trim/window stainless, vent windows, etc were SHOT. Thanks to a good friend of mine, I have almost everything I'll need to put it back together now.

The car sat for quite a while after I got it home. Needed to get some direction on what I wanted to do. The first thing was to build a leveling rack to get the car leveled and squared, and then strip it down to a skeleton. And then it sat for a while again while I changed direction on what I wanted to do.

I originally wanted a non-minitubbed car, SBC, 4 speed auto, with 15 inch wheels. Changed my mind and wanted the minitub, 17 inch wheels, but still with an SBC. Changed my mind again once I saw the potential for LS motors, so the direction became an LS2. But all along I kept thinking about the great times I had in my dad's Cutlass Convertible when he let me drive it back in my senior year at high school. I knew a vert would be a ton of fun, so I also really wanted a vert, and I was no where near being able to afford both.

In 2008, my family took a trip to North Carolina and South Carolina (hooking up with another great Nova guy). Along the way, we hit the Charlotte Auto Fair and saw an orange 67 convertible. And the light went on..........I'm making one. So I changed direction again, and decided my car is the PERFECT candidate to do a conversion on. It's not an SS (no value loss by doing this), the floors are gone (perfect for building a custom frame under there while I replace the floor), and....well, I own it, so I can do what I want!! LOL.

From December of 06 until now (March 2009), the car has only been set on a custom leveling rack that I built to level/square the car, and the framing was removed that the original owner had put in it to secure it while the floor was out. And I started to replace the toe boards with a donor set I got from my friend down in South Carolina, 1966RAT. Once this is done (hopefully by the weekend of 3.21.09), its time to build the frame for it, then move on to the rear frame rails/trunk pan, do the quarters, minitub, and then start the actual convertible conversion process.

So sit back, enjoy the ugly pictures you are about to see, like I said, she's a nasty one. So keep your comments to yourselves!!! LOL. I hope you guys have a LOT of patience, because I ain't fast at body work!!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The pics in this post (Post #2) show how the car was when the previous owner had it. The last pic in this post is the way it was when I took it home.









NOS quarters.....







Her first night at her new home:

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
So to start working on it, I wanted to get it straight, square, and level. I did this by making an adjustable rack to set the car on. I could level the car by raising/lowering the upper adjustment bolts, and also offset the feet for unlevel concrete by raising/lowering the lower adjustable feet.










 

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Discussion Starter #4
The car's inner rockers were pretty rough, so I wanted to replace them. Before I removed them, I fabbed up a bracing system to hold the side pieces of the rear frame rails so they wouldn't move around while the inner rockers were out:




Then I drilled out the original spot welds:



And here's what was behind them.....not too bad!!!:






Master Series Metal Primer:





I replaced the inner rockers with 14 gauge sheetmetal with two 3/4 x 3/4 square tubes laid inside the inner rockers for more rigidity:







Master Series Silver Primer on the side you see, and there's Silver Primer and Black Chassis Coating on the inside. New inner plug welded in place:




The next step is to replace the toe board area. I had these toe boards given to me by a great friend of mine, 1966RAT:



Only had to patch a little bit of the donor piece, and add the spot weld lip back on to it:





I couldn’t get the piece fit in nicely as one whole piece. I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. So I split it down the center, and fit it in that way. I cut it a tad big, and used sheetmetal screws to hold it in place so I could mark good lines:





After re-cutting it, I ended up with a couple spots where gaps are just a tad too big, but I’m thinking it will be fine. This is as far as I got. I couldn’t get out in the garage this week……TOO DANG COLD!!



The gap here in the trans tunnel won’t actually be that big. I didn’t clamp it tight there yet. It actually lines up great right there when held in place.



Blurry pic, but it lines up nice with the frame rail:

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Driver's side spotted in place:














Welds are all ground down now. I am going to hold off on smoothing it out with filler because I am going to be adding some frame work in this area to help stiffen the car since it's going to be a convertible.




Next step.............CUSTOM FRAME WORK!!! YIPPEE!! Can't wait to get started on this part. Should be some great progress this winter. I've pretty much backed out on a lot of other stuff I've done over the last few winters to focus on the car this time. I am HOPING to have the custom frame work done, the rear frame rails stiffened, the rear seat pan replaced, and the floor installed by spring. The goal is to have the car ready for the quarters, doors, and fenders in the summer. That means its minitub time next winter. HOPEFULLY!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, since the car is going to be a convertible, I need to make the frame lot stiffer than stock. It's going to have a TCI 4 link rear in it too. Instead of using the TCI connectors, I wanted to make something more structural to help with the top being gone. So I am going to use my own 1 3/4" square tubing to go from the TCI rear crossmember and forward into my own frame rails (I call them pork chops because, well...they look like pork chops!!). The frame connectors will be welded into the TCI crossmember, and continuously welded along the pork chop piece. The pork chop piece is 3/16" thick.

I removed the stock front frame rail sections that are spot welded to the firewall, and I need to separate them to get only the piece that attaches to the firewall. I will weld that piece to my pork chop pieces so they can be mounted on the firewall in the stock location. Then I'll add a spot weld lip all along the outer edges of the pork chops so they can be plug welded to the floor.

There will also be another square tubing run along the inside of the rocker panels (which I've already replaced with 14gauge sheetmetal backed by two 1/2" square tubing pieces). Then I will "ladder tie" the rocker tubing across to the frame connectors.









Things were only slapped into place at the time of these pics. I had to run in the middle of working on it that night, and came back a lot later and only had time left to take a couple more pics.

MORE TO COME!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
From the previous and following pictures, this is the pattern that I used for the frame rails:





This is the laser cut metal from the cardboard pattern:





Torched the stock frame rails:






Spot weld drilled the flanges off:





Cut the frame connector pipe to the proper length, and set the cleaned up frame plate in place:










Basically the 1 3/4" square tubing runs the full length from front to the TCI crossmember, so it will replace the frame connectors included in the TCI kit:






The laser cut metal set in place:






Next up, weld the new laser pieces to the tubing and also to the front frame plates. I plan to connect it to all to the floor the full length from front to back. Going to be a bit of work, but it should really strengthen things up.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
With all of the trouble I heard people were having, I figured now is the time to make it easier to run the exhaust past the TCI four link setup. So I came up with an idea.......

I didn't do the plasma cutting or the seam welding. I got too nervous trying to weld a 1/4" pipe to the 1/8" wall TCI crossmember, so a friend of mine bailed me out and welded it for me. I did lay it all out, build the jig, and tack the pipes in place though, so at least I did something!!! LOL



First step, build a jig:









4" diameter 1/4" wall pipe:






Step 2, be fortunate enough to have a good friend with a plasma cutter:








Step 3, set the cut pipes in place. I tacked an angle bracket across them to make sure they stayed in line and level with each other.






I wanted 3/4" to stick out in front and back, so I found a nut and washer 1 that measured 3/4" and placed them under the angle bracket to use as a spacer.







Finished welding, and again, I'm not taking credit for the welding. The same friend who had the plasma cutter also came over after I called him and told him I was worried about trying it. I was way too nervous to attempt it and mess it up. I've never welded anything that thick before, and didn't want to try it on THIS!!

Thanks to Mark for the help!!! There's still some cleanup to do, but the big part is done.




Finished piece with the jig removed. I also took it to get sandblasted. Ready for a coat of Master Series Silver and Master Series Satin Black:






Next up.......rear seat panel replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
And the rear seat panel replacement is done. I had an excellent donor piece given to me by a really awesome Nova Brother, 1966RAT. The piece was perfect for what I needed to do......

Started off with bracing it up before cutting out the panel:







Hired hand:





Got going with a sawzall:





Spot weld drilled the remainder of the seat pan off. The frame rails took some abuse from the previous owners removing the bump stop thingies:






Primed/painted the inside of the frame rails:





Donor section from my #1 dude, 1966RAT:





Fit in place and held by some sheetmetal screws. It was a ton of work to get the piece in there:









Motivational Liquid Nutrition:





Plug welded in:





Welds ground down:





Underside:





Finished product:





On to the rear frame rail stiffening.......
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Since I am going to be installing a TCI 4 link in the car, I decided that it would be nice to have a little more structural integrity for the TCI 4 link to attach to. For those of you that will probably be thinking I'm "Captain Overkill", just remember that I am planning on doing a convertible conversion on the car. And after I saw how floppy the stock frame rails are on these cars, I decided to do some "beefing" up. My main objective is to build somewhat of a full frame for the car.

So with the front frame going the way it is, I wanted to do something really strong for the rear that would blend well with the TCI four link. I came up with an idea for a way to stiffen the rear frame rails, and got some work done on it last weekend. Here's what I got so far.....

Started by cutting a length of 1 1/2" square tubing




Got out my Tractor Supply bought pipe bender:







And bent the tubing to follow the rear frame rail curves.









As you can see, the new tubing will fit really well inside the TCI upper shock mount and the TCI crossmember. I think getting the two TCI pieces tied together with this tubing will really stiffen things up. It should also give a nice transfer of torque through the TCI stuff right into a rigid tubing rather than just the stock frame rails.











There's a big gap at the top of the frame tube because of a plate that is in the TCI shock mount. Never mind the smiley faces, I was having fun with my kids.....






Here's the plate that is in the way:




Here's the place the plate used to be in the way. Plasma cut out:




Cleaned up the remnants of the plate, and it fits much better now.




I still need to trim off the ends of my tubes to follow the angles of the TCI shock mount, but you get the idea of what I'm trying to do. I am going to tack the tubing to the TCI stuff, and then remove the "unit" as one piece from the car, and fully weld it all together. Put it back in the car, and weld the tubing to the frame rails in a few places.

Then the next step will be to put some 1/8" thick plates all along both sides of each frame rail to tie them into the tubing. I will basically have to shape the new plates just like the frame rails, only 1 1/2" taller to go over the sides of the new tubing. Then I'll weld the new plates at the top edge of the frame rail and along the bottom of the tubing and also weld it at its ends to the TCI pieces. That will make all of this one continuous piece basically from the front of the car all the way to the back because the tubing I used in the front frame system will also be fully welded into the TCI crossmember. This is as close as I can get to having a full frame.

I will probably just do some good stitch welding for now, and fully weld it all when I get the car on the rotisserie later. Much easier that way than welding while lying on your back!!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I got all the sideplates cut and tacked into place yesterday. I am going to wait to fully weld them on the bottom side until the car is on a rotisserie.

I started with a coil of thin flexible copper. I used it to make a template of the curves in the frame rail:







Once I had the curves, I laid the copper down on posterboard and traced out the frame rail template, cut it out, and put it in place. There were a couple adjustments to make:






Then I set the template on my 1/8" sheetmetal and traced around it:




And then I used the copper again as a guide for the plasma torch (my hands aren't steady enough on their own yet!!!):




The outer passenger side set in place. I was a bit concerned at how big it looks, but after looking at other pics of other cars that have the same stance that I am going for, you won't be able to notice it at all:




And the inner piece of the passenger side. I had to notch it out around the rear shock mount brace:




Today I got started on the passenger side mintub. I'll get the pics posted soon......
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I got out in the garage last night and today. I fully welded the side plates to the frame connector/frame rails. Had an issue with the weld heat making it bow, but I got that taken care of with my tube bender.

The next step was to take some 2x4 rectangular tubing and shape it to follow the floor and wrap it under the 1 3/4" square tubing.......


Here's the area I'm stiffening:







Made a template that followed the floor:











Plasma cut it out on my 2x4 rectangular tubing:





Set it in place over the 1 3/4" square tubing. Here's the entire frame system from front to back:








And here it is installed. I'm going to use some 18 gauge "angle iron" (basically 18 gauge sheetmetal.....1 1/4" x 1 1/4" by the length of the frame system) and plug weld it inside the frame system with the one edge sticking out under the floor to plug weld to the floor. This will allow the entire frame system to be fully attached to the floor from front to back. Should be plenty stiff this way!!











Next step is to do the other side, and then to fully weld the 2x4 pieces to the 1 3/4 tubing (they are just tacked in there for now) and then do the plug weld lips.
 

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This is a "concept" drawing that I came up with to kinda show what I'm attempting to do. The red parts are the plug weld lips. The blue is the 2x4 tubing, and the grey is the frame rail that I built in the last thread. It was tough to draw, and what I messed up in the drawing is I didn't make the red plug weld lips come down into the inside of the 2x4 tubing. I plan on using my shrinker/stretcher to make the 18 gauge angle brackets follow the curves of the top of the 2x4 piece.

 
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