Now that you have your project car purchased, documented, and safely stored in your garage the task of restoration can seem overwhelming. From this point forward it is tempting to simply start taking everything apart and tossing it in the corner just like the guys on TV. But that is the last thing you should do. Take your time and take as many pictures as possible throughout the disassembly process. They will help you when it’s time to put the car back together.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, MOPAR B-BODY RESTORATION: 1966-1970. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Remove all the trim, headlights, taillights, glass, interior, and steering column. Remove the doors, hood, and trunk lid. Examine whether the parts can be used, document and bag the small parts, tag the large ones, and box and store them in a dry, secure place.
You quickly realize that a car that is assembled takes up much less room than all of its parts. That means organization is one of the keys to success for a restoration project.
Organize Your Parts
The first thing to do is purchase several sizes of Ziploc bags, permanent markers, boxes of different sizes, and paper tags with a wire that can be attached to large components.
Each part that is removed should be bagged or tagged, sorted, and organized by the specific area the parts came from. If this is your first full restoration it is very easy to label the parts that make sense at the moment, but in two years you find yourself scratching your head and completely lost as to what the part is and where it goes. This is especially true when it comes to bolts, nuts, clips, and fasteners. Do not toss them into a coffee can and think you can put it all back the same way it came off. The description you write on the bag or tag must clearly identify the part.
Next, put the small Ziploc bags in boxes for storage. On the outside of the box write a list of the contents and place it on a shelf. As you bag and tag each part document it as to whether it is an original or a replacement.
The disassembly phase is a good time to start a list of parts that need to be replaced. A spread sheet of part needs is a great way to note where you bought the part, how much you paid for it, and what you still need to find. Do not throw away anything, even if it is not usable. You may need it for reference, or maybe it has a clip that you use later.
The disassembly process depends on how you plan to restore the car. If you have a shop and you are going to do a total rotisserie restoration, everything comes off the car all at once. This means that you must have all the parts labeled and stored according to the specific area of the car. If you are planning a rolling restoration where you take the car to someone else’s shop, you only disassemble the car to the point where it can still be moved.
Therefore, the suspension remains on the car. And if you plan on driving the car while you are working on it you only do one area at a time. An example is to restore the drivetrain first and then tackle the trunk, followed by the interior, and finally the paint. If you are planning on competing at a high level such as the Mopar Nationals or the Antique Automobile Club of America you have to do a complete rotisserie restoration.
Some Materials Require Special Handling
During disassembly you handle different types of materials. Each one requires techniques specific to the part.
For example, the windshield seal is rubber and has a tuck-in flap that secures the glass. Use an anti-corrosion, penetrating spray lubricant such as WD-40 or PB Blaster to soak the seal and let it set for several hours. Never pry on the glass, especially with anything made of metal. You can use a blade screwdriver to pry away from the glass so that the flap is released. Then you can cut the old seal with a box knife and remove the glass.
If the windshield is in good enough shape to reuse, store it standing on its edge and never lay it out flat. This goes for all the glass no matter where it is in the car. If the glass is cloudy around the edges or has scratches that can be seen, replace it. Some kits claim that you can polish out scratches. This really does not work. Completely clean the glass to see if you can reuse it. If not you can purchase replacement glass that can be date coded so it is correct for your car. Soft materials, such as rubber seals and interior panels, are almost always in need of replacement. If you are fortunate enough to have interior and rubber parts that can be reused clean them thoroughly before storing them. You can freshen interior panels by re-dying them with paint by SEM Products, which is specifically made to return the appearance to original.
Dash pads, glove-box doors, kick panels, and interior trim often can be restored and reused. Every original part from your car that can be saved should be used. However, often they are too far-gone and have to be replaced. Even if you do not use a part don’t throw it away or try to sell it. Keep it until the restoration is finished and then decide if it has any value or can be sold. You might even keep it for a future driver project.
Remove all the trim, headlights and taillights, glass, and interior. This includes the removal of the steering column. Remove the doors, hood, and trunk lids. Examine whether the parts can be used and document and bag the small parts, tag the large ones, and box and store them in a dry, secure place. You quickly realize that an assembled car takes up much less room than all of its parts. If you have taken your time and carefully organized and labeled the parts you are ready to proceed to disassembling all the big stuff.
Powertrain and Suspension
If you are doing a total rotisserie restoration you can remove the powertrain completely. The best way to remove the engine, transmission, and front suspension is to take it all out as one assembly from the bottom of the car. When you have disconnected all the wiring, brake lines, fuel lines, and driveshaft, you can support the K-member with a rolling cradle.
Then you can pull the torsion bars. Remove the torsion bar clips that keep the bars securely in the frame rail. They are found at the rear of the bar. Completely release all the tension on the lower control arms adjusters. Use a special torsion bar tool that clamps on the bar and has a long handle, then use a hammer to knock the bar toward the rear of the car. Do not use a vise grips or anything that scars or scratches the bar. The bar can fail if it is marred.
Remove the front tires and wheels and then disconnect the upper A-arms.
Support the transmission with another floor jack and remove the transmission crossmember.
Then, using a cherry picker, attach a strap to the front bumper and secure the car by removing any slack in the strap. Because you still have the rear suspension in place the car can pivot while you raise the front end enough to clear the front suspension, engine, and transmission. Remove the four K-member bolts and lift the car off of the K-member, engine, transmission, and front suspension.
Roll the entire assembly away from the body. Then lower the body onto two jack stands positioned under the front frame rails approximately where the K-member was.
Next put the car up on jack stands on the rear frame rails just in front of the spring hanger. If your car has rear torque boxes they are substantial enough to support the rear of the car.
Remove the rear tires and wheels and store them. Then you can remove the rear end and springs as one unit.
Position the floor jack under the center section of the rear end and remove the eight nuts that hold the front spring hanger to the frame. Remove the rear shackle bolts, freeing up the springs. Be sure to remove the shocks and any brake lines. When you lower the rear end and spring assembly you can pull it out from under the car. Although the car is supported on the four jack stands and the front and rear assemblies are removed you can remove the gas tank and bumpers and anything left on the body.
Use heavy-duty jack stands and always make sure the car is supported properly. If you do not it can lead to serious harm (or death to you and anyone else around the car). If you have a lift in your shop you can easily do all of this in a fraction of the time it takes without a lift.
When the body is secured on the rotisserie you can separate the transmission from the engine, then the engine and the front suspension from the K-member. Remove the springs from the rear end.
Whether you are able to rebuild every part from the car yourself or you farm out many of these main assemblies, you need to make a plan of attack. Without a plan you can easily become discouraged, and, as the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
At this point you have complete assemblies and many, many, parts in various stages of disassembly. The car is on the rotisserie; the engine, transmission, and front and rear suspension are apart and probably very dirty and greasy from years of use. This is the perfect time to rent a high-pressure steam washer. It cleans everything, including the undercoating from the car and parts. It makes a mess so be sure to clean everything outside on your driveway. Wear protective clothes and get busy cleaning all those years of road grime and dirt away.
When you finish you will be glad to have clean parts. You can now identify any inspection marks and document their location and color with pictures.
Written by Mike Wilkins & Mike Wilkins and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks
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