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Discussion Starter #1
Father and Son 1976 Nova Build

Note that I am going to catch up on documenting the build so the first posts are from the last few months...may take me a few days to get it all caught up to where we are today Feb 2015 and post the associated pictures

In the summer of 2014, my son and I started talking about projects we could do. We eventually ended up talking about what car he wanted first. He was getting ready to turn 14 and so as we talked the discussion turned to older cars and restoring one. If we did it right, we could probably restore a car in 2 years in time for him to drive it by 16.

A little background...we have ZERO experience restoring cars and only general handy man random projects experience but that has never stopped us before...heck I took a welding class 30 years ago in high school and we have changed the oil before and worked on our dirt bikes...so with all those quals...no problem...let's do it.

Well we started looking and looking and looking, all the usual places, Craigslist, ebay, magazines, Thrifty Nickel etc...our limited budget kept getting in the way of all the dream cars (ie 69 Charger or Camaro) so we lowered starting standards and broadened our make, model and years search. Nova's started to look like a real good possibility.

August 17 2014 - a $1000 1976 Nova showed up on craigslist locally so we shot over to look at it.








It was mostly there we thought, so we bought it on the spot and picked it up the next day. It was not much to look at and we had no idea if we had overpaid or got junk or what...we figured if it was a disaster, we could clean it up some take good pictures and hopefully break even given some of the junk we had seen for sale that we had passed on.

Initial images - Rainy day of course, muddy yards, what fun...using boards to keep it from sinking into the mud and more...







Loaded up and ready to take it home


Next week or so was spent trying to figure out what we had bought and of course where to put some of the stuff in the garage so we could move it into the garage.


The natural place for the transmission...

Any one know what this block number (K0417T4X) decodes? I searched and could not figure out the decoding of the T4X. It is a V-8 350 made in Canada on April 17 but never did figure out the
rest. I used this site: http://www.nastyz28.com/sbchevy/sblock.html
 

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Very cool! I want to do the same thing with my kids when they're old enough. I'm looking forward to seeing this project unfold. Your son will tell the story of pushing it out of the mud for years to come. Keep the photos coming!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Aug 30th

August 30 2014
Moving into the garage
So we decided that we would cohabitate the garage with everything else and just make it work. So just ignore all the random stuff on the shelves etc. Just part of life without a real shop. Luckily our garage has a little nook in the back corner that we turned into a workbench area about a 1 1/2 years ago when we had a gokart for a while and we acquired some tools that year such as a vise, bench grinder and a flux core welder.
GARAGE DAY




Yay got it done...in 2000 hrs or so he should be able to drive it out instead of just sit in it and imagine :)


Probably our biggest problem early on was trying to figure out what to start on...What's first???? Also discovering quickly the number of missing pieces, plastic parts, interior pieces, etc etc. Also finding few if any Nova's in junk yards, few reproduction parts and very expensive (for our budget) used parts. Going to start a list of items needed and figure out best approach.


We removed the rear bumper so we could have more room front and back in the pretty short garage...but now what...decided lets get the engine out


Got the bumper and headers off and misc other stuff...very dirty and rusty from sitting for over 10 years in a back yard


The core support for the bumper does not come out easy. Also found out the little tiny air compressor from years ago ain't going to cut it. Need a big one...


Engine
Found a cheap brand new engine stand on CraigsList


The seller told us it was a V-8 and that was all he knew about it...it was leaning against the firewall since the transmission was in the trunk


Reaching to remove the mounting bolts.


 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Pulling the Engine

SEPT 2014
Cleaning up, Engine Removal and More
Cleaned out the interior, and put the white bucket seats and rear seat, plastics, door panels etc in attic for now. Floor pan is ok in the back, but both sides in the front are bad...someone riveted in a piece on the drivers side




It was a nice day...so decided to see if the headers were good and just how bad the bumpers were...Rust removal on headers and bumper.




SEPT 7 2014
Mike our neighbor loaned us his engine lift

Looked and looked for bolt holes on ends of the heads but there weren't any? Finally found places to secure the chain


Yay we figured out how to disconnect everything and get the engine in the air


Oh more stuff to disconnect that I didn't see :)


Sweet success


And on the stand
 

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Discussion Starter #5
September and October 2014

SEPTEMBER 2014

Cleaning Bucket Seat Rails. Figured out that not all the parts are there for them :(
Someone had removed them from the seats and the floor and didn't keep all the parts. Grrrr...More parts shopping needed.



Took picture off the rear end...looks like it is original. Some of this car is original some is not.



24 SEPTEMBER 2014
Decided to remove the front fender today. We took lots of pictures as we went. All bolts went into marked Zip Loc bags etc. Hoping to limit the amount of frustration when we go to put it back together months
and months from now.




Two spacers go here...we will see if I need more or less when it goes back together :)


Yes...we got it off :)




Hmmm...this lower front is going to be a challenge to fix. Plan on doing that much later after I tackle some easier stuff first.


More rusted and Rotted out areas. More fun to come. It looked like an animal had filled it full of leaves, acorn shells and stuff....




Yay...found a good deal on a compressor on CraigsList at about 1/4 of new price!!! That was one heavy air compressor to lift and move. Going to need to get 220 outlets added...which means a new subpanel. More $$$...



Welding
Found out very quickly that a very inexpensive flux core welder with only two settings DOES NOT WORK for this project. Found a different Mig Welder on craigslist that hopefully will work much better. The seller demonstrated it and I was impressed...of course he was a career welder and I am a complete novice.


And what do you do with a new welder...try to run random ugly beads on any scraps you can find...or bumper parts :)


some 22 gauge steel...practice butt welding a corner that I cut off welding it back in




Seems like I have a lot of grinding in my future :)


Where do you keep your newly cleaned hood springs???
On your freshly painted headers of course...
right above the transmission you wonder what you are going to do with
and mixed in with a ton of random other stuff :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
26 october 2014

26 October
Colder weather so time to mess with the engine and see what we have.
First time for everything, never taken one apart before. We just took it slow and did not have any issues so far.



Double Hump heads or as google tells me Camel hump or fuelie heads with a stamp of 3782461 and J 5 5 which I think means October 1965 manufacturing date based on this http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/wiki/SBC_cylinder_head_identification
Don't really know if that is good or bad or not, but as long as they work we will be happy :)




Four Bolt Main


Unique raised or 'domed' pistons??? High Compression? Bored and Marked as .040 over




CAM - (COMP CAMS 12-242-2 226) which I think is the Xtreme Energy http://www.compcams.com/Company/CC/cam-specs/Details.aspx?csid=86&sb=2




Not sure how much further we are going into this engine...supposedly it ran at some point, so we may just put it back with fresh gaskets etc. Opinions?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Rust and more rust

Nov 2014

Rust and More Rust
So after more practice, decided to start welding and rust repair on something 'safe'. The inner fender wells.
There was a little hole, so I tried to weld it up...of course I quickly learned that the entire area was paper thin and needed fresh metal. So I cut it out. You can see on the cut out piece the welding attempts on the rusted then metal.


Made a patch piece. A while back I went to a pick and pull junkyard and found a $20 clean fender so I would have some sheet metal to patch with.




Tacked it in and then ground off the welds


That is it for tonight...hard to grind it off with a 4 1/2 disc. I need a die grinder or some tool that can get into curves I think. I tried a dremel and ate through a stone wheel for it super fast and did not make much progress.

Suggestions for grinding off welds where a angle grinder can't reach?

Still do not have an air compressor. The big nice Ingresoll Rand did not work out for quite a few reasons and I resold it, so I am looking for a different one.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Painting Block

November 29 2014
Engine is clean but ugly, so we decided to paint the block red.








December 13 2014
Another warm day so now we are painting the heads as well








and yes I sprayed my driveway. Got it off though...it is now a very clean spot on the driveway...probably more noticieable now ha ha...rubbed some dirt in it...almost looks the same

And done for today. We think they look much better, hopefully the VHT paint will hold up.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
December 2014

DECEMBER 2014
Old Bondo fender repair work from some previous owner...


After we removed the Bondo and cleaned up...it looks like Swiss Cheese


Decided to weld the holes closed.








I used a copper pipe union smashed flat or a slightly flattened copper pipe nipple to put behind the hole before welding. Seemed to work...got the idea from the video from Mike Finnegan at Hot Rod - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huPdLOIA438







Getting there...LOTS of grinding and rewelding and checking for pinholes etc. Then I got to the edge and there was no thickness to the metal...paper thin...so stopped for now until I can cut out and
replace...wish I had seen that sooner :( I would have saved a bunch of time, frustration etc....Learning the hard way or maybe the best way.


DECEMBER 2014
Pulling Drivers side fender


More temporary yard decoration :)


Gas tank is out...it started leaking very slowly and had a nasty varnish type smell. Will buy a new one I guess. Glad that smell is out of the garage.
We found the original build sheet on top of the gas tank. Hard to read but could tell from it that the white seats and blue paint were original. We saved it and one of these days may try to clean it up to make it readable.



Beautiful December day out and Stripping oil pan

nice and shiny

So why not make it red too...


Time to do the other inner fender.
BEFORE




AFTER we spent a lot of time with the wire wheel stripping rust, spraying with Klean-Strip Phosphoric Prep & Etch etc...





JANUARY 2015
Putting on some primer on the inner fender


Back to patching up the swiss cheese fender...More welding and determining how much to patch


Gotta love what I have in the background on some of these pictures...old books from when the kids were little. I have got to clean up



Using my new welding clamps my daughter gave me for Christmas :) Maybe I will have better results and fewer burns on my fingers


Tacked in


Ground down...Almost done...


My son got Hammer and Dolly set from his aunt and uncle for Christmas, so time to learn how to straighten this mess out a little or start over...going to look at it for a few days and decide what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Continuing to work from front to back

JANUARY 17, 2015

Removing Passenger side A-Arm...this was more difficult than we anticipated. Funny part was that the cotter pin removal was probably most time consuming...it did not want to come out. Sure wish we knew the correct order of parts to remove :)...so we basically started at the top and worked down. Goal is to completely refresh the front end using as many of the existing components as possible with new bushings etc.

Still don't have the electrician here to get the 220 hooked up to the compressor...sure am glad that we have an electric DeWalt Impact Wrench...it works great.

Starting point...everything caked in dirt, grease, rust etc...not sure what we are doing...thank goodness for youtube and StevesNovaSite for some pointers:





Got off the upper arm. HOWEVER...Getting the ball joint to remove required multiple trips to the computer to watch Youtube videos. Thank you all who have documented tips and tricks out there. With some trepidation we followed the advice of one videp who suggested hitting the knuckle with a hammer until it released...seemed questionable. About 50 light taps did nothing...hmmm...watch again to be sure...10 or so much harder taps...still nothing...5 more quite hard hits and pop out it came...amazing. No pictures of us whaling on it with the hammer but here it is after removal.


Cleaning them up and removing most of the grease, crud, dirt and rust. Nice sunny January day


How in the heck are we going to get those ball joints out? They are riveted in? Do I have to rivet in replacements?


Finally finished the two inner fender wells. This was good to have something 'done'. These were our first experiment work in welding on sheet metal, stripping, painting etc. Put them in the attic over the garage where I have added some flooring to store all the stuff we aren't working on or that is 'done'. Learning how quickly free space gets filled with random parts.

We think they turned out ok for what they are...no more rust holes and nice black looking :)
Not sure if we will think the same thing in a year or so when we pull them out to put them back on, but they look good enough for now.
 

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This is so cool!
I will for sure be subscribing to this thread.
Your son will remember this forever!

I hope to do the same with my kids when the time comes for me to have them.

My plans are to build mine with the help from my father and 2 brothers for now.

Looks great!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
1977 Nova Parts Car

JANUARY 25, 2015
Well as I have mentioned and as most of you know there are almost no available nor reasonably priced parts for trim, plastic, dash, bumper filler, etc. etc. After making a list of parts and probable prices, it quickly became clear that the only way to afford all the used parts that are missing on this car was to find a parts car.
I made it a daily mission to search for a parts car that had 90% of what
we needed on it. Most were either out of our price range or too far away. Missed quite a few locally which told me I was not the only one in this area in the same predicament with a 4th Generation Nova.

Had I known what I know now, I would have probably waited initially for a car to restore with the majority of trim in place and not worried about engine and transmission and other easy to acquire items.

Finally, found a 1977 Nova Hatchback that looked pretty good about 60 miles from here. Went and looked at it, it has majority of what we were missing and appears to have better sheetmetal where ours is rusted out, dented etc etc

Got it home. Here you can see it with the 1976 Nova in the garage in the background.






Red Interior of 1977 Nova




Unfortunately the red plastic is rotted in random places, maybe where it had lots of direct sun...it just crumbles into dust...anywhere it is pink...it is really loosely held together 'dust'




Straight six with majority of AC components there (missing compressor) Also note it does not have a brake booster but does have front disc brakes?

We hooked up a battery and got it to start and idle.

29 JAN 2015
So the 1977 Nova has a 3 speed in it with the straight six...it used to be 3 on the tree, but someone before us started down the path of replacing the column with an automatic and was probably going to move
it to the floor. So the transmission is not connected to the column at all.

We spent a lot of time deciding whether to swap cars, in the end it ended up being hatchback vs trunk...Trunk won out.

Another question we are pondering is, how would that 3 speed manual trans work with 350? We have a TH350 auto in the 76 Nova but are intrigued by the posibility of converting to a manual? We already have more than we can probably get done. Try it or leave alone?
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
February 1, 2015

Ball Joints and Brakes
Both ball joints are shot as far as I can tell. Going to have to figure out how to replace those, all the bushings etc. Not sure what additional items will be needed. I will search here and see what others have done.
Is this a good choice? Energy Suspension 3.18117R?



Brakes appear to be original. Keep and rebuild or get new?



And that catches us up to date on the project...progress is slower than we want. Hopefully I did not bore you to tears with all the pictures and details...

.
 

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I have had all energy suspension bushings in my 1975 nova for about 7 years now. They work great and don't make any noise. Really tightens up the front end.
 

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Be sure to spend the extra money on the small tub of energy suspension specific grease if you use the poly bushings. When I put those in I coated every surface they touched with a very liberal coating of it. I have heard all the stories about poly bushings squeaking, and wanted my nova to not be in that group. I only get a slight squeak from one of the control arm bushings after it has been sitting for a while.

It looks ok from what I can see in the pics, but how is your radiator core support? Those usually rot out around the lower mounting points and in the places where the multiple plys come together.

As romancommander stated before, with the ball joints just grind down the head of the rivets and push them through. The factory used the rivets to hold the ball joints in place so those are more than likely the factory pieces. The new ball joints will come with bolts to attach them to the control arms.

It's nice to see another new project on here, don't get discouraged by the parts situation, keep cruising ebay/craigslist and don't be afraid to look on here for parts too.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Great project.

For the ball joints, grind the rivets off, punch them through, then bolt the replacements in place.
Thank you. Does it matter if I punch them from the top down or from the bottom up?
Do the bottom ball joints need a press to get them in/out?
 

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Thank you. Does it matter if I punch them from the top down or from the bottom up?
Do the bottom ball joints need a press to get them in/out?
On the upper ball joints I prefer the grind the tops of he rivets off the punch them through the bottom, but no it doesn't matter. An air chisel is the tool of choice for punching.

Yes the bottom ones need To be pressed.
 
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