When your powertrain is complete, you can add some functionality and some amenities to your B-Body. This chapter shows you how to incorporate some civility and creature comforts into your Mopar project.
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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As you restore the functionality of your B-Body, it’s worth reviewing various accessories on your car, including the wiper motor, drive links, arms, and blades. An aged and discolored wiper motor can cost several points in judging and can otherwise detract from a clean and attractive engine compartment. Equally, a non-functioning wiper motor can be a safety hazard if ever caught in a sudden rainfall. The base trim–level B-Bodies typically came with a simple two-speed wiper motor; higher-optioned models came with the three-speed. For those cars equipped with a three-speed motor, the armature barrel came from the factory with dichromate zinc plating that can fade over the years.
A cursory search on eBay shows that similar motors in equally rough shape go for a few hundred dollars, so it’s worth having your motor properly restored. This is not the type of job for the everyday automotive enthusiast, so we strongly suggest having the motor professionally restored.
When you send a wiper motor to be restored, the motor is disassembled to assess the condition of all the internal components. For example, rust can collect on the rotator, as the factory shrink-wrapped wire sheathing can be cracked and/or non-existent.
Disassembling the motor starts with removing the plate covering the gear set. Inside of the housing, the lever attached under the cover fits into the mechanism operating the gear. The larger components (the armature barrel, aluminum motor gear body, end plate, and motor plate) must be sent to a plating shop.
A proper restoration shop uses both plastic shrink-wrap and factory-correct nylon sleeves on the wires. Even NOS shrink end caps were used to complete the wiring. Upon reassembly, new brushes, brush springs, wire insulation, shrink caps, and gaskets are needed to not only restore the look but also the functionality of your wiper motor.
The wire windings must be cleaned and rewrapped in new cardboard sleeves. With the armature fully assembled, the two long screws that run the length of the barrel must be tightened. They are threaded into the aluminum motor body. The armature barrel, now freshly plated in dichromate zinc, is polished to remove any surface blemishes before being reinstalled.
The end plate, which was clear zinc plated, is outfitted with new brushes and new brush pressure springs. Before reattaching the rotator to the end plate, the windings are cleaned and wrapped in new wire sheathes. New short-circuit protective cardboard is slipped between the armature base and the rotator before seating the barrel.
With the head reinstalled with a new replacement worm gear and restored shaft (the gear requires a little wiggling to get it back on), all of the components are properly lubed and capped with a new switch plate gasket.
The switch plate, which was correctly plated, is rewired with each of the new wires soldered in their original factory locations.
New OEM-colored nylon and shrink-wrapped wires are installed, connected by NOS shrink cap connections. The plate is topped with a liberal dollop of ochre red sealant. This keeps the soldered wire points from the elements.
Wiper Motor Restoration
If your underdash wiper assemblies need to be rebuilt they can be disassembled, cleaned or blasted, and painted with Seymour’s Stainless Steel paint. Each pivot needs to be cleaned and lubricated so it turns back and forth freely. The nut that attaches the main pivot to the wiper motor is red.
This wiper motor is a three-speed. Your car could also have a two-speed wiper motor that is black; instead of lying flat against the firewall it stands up. These motors are date coded and have the part numbers of the particular application. This motor has a date code of the 251st day of 1969 and came from a 1970 B-Body.
Purchase a wiper pivot seal kit and rebuild the pivots. This is the only way to ensure that you do not have water leaking onto your feet after the wipers are installed. Carefully install the linkage, making sure you have the correct positioning of both pivots and the linkage. Make sure it moves freely. Test the motor and the linkage for proper function before installing the dash.
Red paint remains on the ends of this three-speed wiper motor mounting studs. That is the way it came from the factory. The wiring pigtail plugs into the bulkhead connection box.
This is a correct reproduction wiper fluid bottle and pump. The forward opening of the cap is correct. Some bottles have the cap opening from the rear, which is incorrect. The body of the washer motor is white and cad plated and the ground wire goes toward the front of the bottle and is attached with the front screw. The attaching screws are black phosphate. The cap has the original recess and is not solid. Fluid has not been added and is blue.
Two styles of wiper blades are correct. The most popular is this Anco refill style. The wiper arms have “15B” stamped on them. The only exception is that those for convertibles do not have a stamp.
The correct washer hoses are ribbed and are available as reproduction. Replace the tee and the screws with the new kit. Make sure to seek out the highest quality supplier (such as YearOne or Classic Industries) that guarantees its products.
The washer nozzles go down through the body and come out in the grid of this model. They can be bent so they spray the fluid on the windshield correctly.
In less than a decade, a massive influx of aftermarket and restorationgrade parts have appeared, saving automotive enthusiasts thousands of dollars and hours spent hunting for original equipment. Only a few years earlier, finding replacement parts for an original grille required scouring forums, pages of eBay listings, and rifling through broken plastic and pitted and bent trim moldings at swap meets. Thankfully, companies such as YearOne and Classic Industries have helped to save you time and money.
Some models, including Road Runners and GTXs, benefit from readily available replacement grilles. Others, such as Dodge Chargers, Super Bees, and Coronets, are more difficult to come by. And while the metal frames are available, much of the molded plastic is rare. Because of this, consider purchasing several grilles so you can piece together one suitable grille. Cherry picking the pieces that are the easiest to clean, patch, and repaint can save valuable time and money.
Ranging from very basic to exceptionally complicated, Chrysler B-Body grilles can be as straightforward as a 1968 Road Runner or 1970 Super Bee, or as difficult as a 1969 Dodge Charger or a 1970 Superbird. In the case of the Charger’s grille, a metal frame features twin dual-headlight buckets with adjustable spring-loaded cups. Cleaning the frame requires not much more than a hammer and dolly to straighten up some bent edges and steel wool to scuff the surfaces in preparation for painting.
The key to repairing a split or break in the original plastic is to expose fresh material for the bonding agent. Because some plastic restoration sealants can be pretty pricey, many choose to use a two-part catalyst such as JB Weld to adhere and fill gaps.
Use an electric Dremel to clean up any open or jagged edges. If the cracks are too wide to simply fill in, use small patches of scrap metal to bridge the gaps, adhering them to the back of the plastic panel.
Because molded plastics have a tendency to return to their original shape and contour, much of the split and cracked plastic pieces only need to be coaxed into place before being permanently held back in form. With a pair of tin snips and some spare scraps of sheet metal, some small strips can act as a bridge holding two fractured pieces together.
Take care not to mix the two-part bonding agent too hot; a conservative amount can be applied into the crack itself. By holding the crack closed, a second more liberal amount can be added to the back (which remains unseen to most) where the small metal strip can be applied and eventually covered up. Applying the necessary pressure to close the gap until the compound cures can be done by hand (although that’s pretty time consuming) or with a low-pressure C-clamp to avoid further cracking or damaging your original plastic.
Before the compound is fully cured and while it is still a bit pliable, use a razor blade to scrape off the excess from the visible side of the newly sealed crack. Be careful not to remove too much.
You can wrap a socket in sandpaper for the proper radius and start sanding the now fully cured sealing compound. Start with 60-grit and move to a finer 220-grit to knock down the cured compound. Continue sanding and filling any exposed pours and fissures, patching cracks, and filling in small holes where you find them.
Plastic and Frame Paint
Argent silver and semi-gloss black are the two most common colors found on Mopar B-Body grilles. Obviously, depending on your application, your needs change. A handful of different-widths and sizes of painter’s tape are mandatory. It is much easier to paint each plastic piece individually, so start by coating everything with a spray adhesion promoter. This colorless spray helps bind paint to plastic and is a worthwhile extra step.
We know that it’s difficult to wait for paint to dry, but don’t peel off your tape too soon or you will have to repeat the process. While the chrome and stainless are off being refinished, you can take the opportunity to finish other parts of your grille. This includes cleaning and scuffing the frame before painting it.
If you’re not too concerned with making a 100-point restoration, and really just want to freshen up an otherwise okay grille, spray can repaints can be effective. With a can of paint adhesion promoter, coat the scuffed and exposed plastic to help the paint bond better. Next, with a couple of cans of semi-gloss black and argent silver, mask off each piece in layers, which allows you to paint in stages.
With the entire grille repaired and painted, it is ready for its newly straightened and polished brightwork. Because most of the factory Mopar trim is made in stainless, be sure not to have your pieces chromed but merely polished. Decorative emblems such as the “Charger” script or Super Bee emblems require a finer touch to clean, sand, and repaint. Replacement aftermarket pieces are easily acquired from outlets such as YearOne or Classic Industries.
Not all trim is created equal; aluminum sill plates, a pot-metal side-view mirror and gas cap, stainless door top trim, and die-cast stainless steel trim all require different types of restoration. With the variety of metals in a variety of conditions and lusters, you must evaluate which pieces are worth replacing, re-chroming, or re-polishing.
Counting from the front to the tail, the average B-Body can rack up nearly 40 individual brightwork items, including the front and rear bumpers, their accompanying pairs of bumperettes, multiple pieces of grille trim, windshield surround trim, side drip rails, side-view mirror, side-window moldings, vent-wing window frames, side-window seals, door handles, door locks, various emblems (grille, door, fender, quarter panel, rear), gas cap and its base plate, rear-window surround trim, taillight valance surround trim, and taillight lens trim.
Proper brightwork is like good movie special effects; if done right, nobody should notice. On Chrysler B-Bodies, there is far more chrome, stainless, aluminum, and pot-metal brightwork than you might realize.
Polishing and Buffing
Yet, with many original pieces, a Saturday morning spent with a clean rag and a small can of metal polish does the trick. Unfortunately, trying to hand polish the chrome plating on door handles or other pieces often can prove to be difficult or outright unsuccessful. Even passing over them with a buffing wheel on a two-speed electric drill sometimes does not remove the discoloration.
Most aftermarket outlets sell new door handles with chrome push buttons and not black buttons. Be sure you match what your car came with.
Items that do take well to some elbow grease are pieces made from harder materials such as stainless steel and the front and rear window reveals. Buffing these pieces can save a great deal of money and patience, as the front windshield trim (or “reveal”) is currently on a pretty widespread back order, particularly as all bodies between 1968 and 1970 used the same trim.
If they’re in rough shape, it’s worth having your bumpers straightened. Bumpers have a nasty way of rusting from the back if not properly treated. You notice this by a discoloring or yellowing of the chrome from the front. Similar to rust bubbling up through the paint, the only way to remedy it is to strip the plating, address the cancer (media blasting or chemical dipping are good solutions), and replate. If you’re not looking to replace your factory trim with aftermarket pieces, it’s worth doing some due diligence to find a local chrome shop for straightening and buffing.
Most plating shops discount their rates depending on the size of the order. The more parts you bring in, the cheaper it becomes.
Although the aftermarket has grown exponentially over the past few years, particularly for Mopar lovers, enthusiasts have the tendency to think, “I’ll just replace it.” Although that might be a viable option nowadays, the cost can add up.
When tastefully done, brightwork can really make your paint pop. Re-chroming, can be pretty controversial, particularly if you plate items that weren’t originally plated or getting a result that doesn’t match the original product.
The down sides to re-chroming crop up particularly when considering textured surfaces. Original Charger and Challenger gas caps have a brushed surface that re-plating completely covers.
For many project cars, you simply don’t have everything. The drip-rail trim may be gone, removed years ago; a replacement simply needed to be purchased. But that’s not to say that it couldn’t have been restored if necessary.
Drip-rail trim is often uncommonly expensive (about $250 per set). The stainless steel trim actually rolls onto the B-Body’s stamped railing deceptively easily. You can keep the protective blue film on the unit until it is fully installed. Then, when installed and the film removed, you attach the corner piece, connecting the two-part drip-rail trim together.
Reassembly proceeds a lot easier if each of your parts has been fitted beforehand. Re-plating has a nasty tendency to alter the close tolerances of smaller parts. Stainless steel items such as the belt line moldings and drip-rail trim are surprisingly durable and resist more pitting and aging than will softer components.
Many metal polishers can restore old emblems, smaller trim pieces, and taillights. When replacement taillights can cost $150 each, restoring the ones you have might be worth investigating.
The electroplating process has several steps and uses tanks full of caustic chemicals. Certain metals react better than others to the plating process, stainless being the most resistant due to its durability. Each piece is thoroughly washed in an electrified soap bath before being dipped in an acid bath.
Each piece is then submerged in nickel acid before soaking in nickel chloride. When washed, the part goes in a copper bath, and then a final round of washing before a chromium bath. Washing off the residue and passing the part under the buffing wheel, you can see the full luster of the newly plated part.
The pieces are passed under the buffing wheel before being cleaned in electrified baths. Because various metals react differently to the acid baths and bonding agents, each metal has a slightly different process.
Plating the pieces actually helps them stand up better than simply buffing them.
Phosphating (also called Parkerizing) can be done with zinc or manganese; both produce varying levels of gray to almost black (depending on the concentration, age of bath, length of time in the solution, and base material). The biggest difference between the two is the level of porosity at the microstructure level and depth of color.
Automotive hardware is generally made of zinc whereas many guns are made of manganese. Zinc also makes a good base for painted surfaces or can be oiled (sealed) for an attractive gray finish. As an alternative to oil, you can use a water-soluble sealer available from Caswell plating. This sealer can be left natural for a beautiful zinc finish or painted over at a later date.
Phosphating requires a stainless steel or porcelain pot; it needs to be heated to approximately 180 to 200 degrees F. You need to season the bath prior to the first use (one time only as long as you continue to use a portion of your previously seasoned bath for future jobs). This is easily accomplished with iron filings or shavings and a coffee filter.
We first tried a propane camp stove for heating, but found it impossible to keep the temperature from creeping over the boiling point. Now we use a candy thermometer and double-boiler method with a large electric skillet from a garage sale. The skillet has water in it, and the solution is in a stainless pot sitting in the water. Temperature control is good. A Teflon skillet with water and a stainless pot inside works okay, too.
The average home user can accomplish phosphating pretty easily for a minimal investment. The process is convenient and the phosphate can be easily stored in plastic containers for long periods, making it easy to use later to freshen up details. (We tend to refinish even brand-new hardware if it doesn’t have a good finish.) We don’t recommend performing the process in your home; a garage is the better location, with an old stove or electric portable burner providing the heat.
Component preparation can vary but, in general, we blast first and often use a wire wheel for a nice finish prior to plating. The exception is that you may elect to skip the wire polish if you intend to paint the part.
Zinc phosphate is not a great corrosion protector; you may receive a box of new parts that already show corrosion. Zinc’s ability to deter corrosion is largely dependent on the oil or sealer placed on the porous surface.
With the proper products you can replicate almost every finish and know that when you’re done you have a good protective layer against corrosion, as well as a great base for painted items.
One source of phosphating solution is Shooter Solutions. This company claims that the solution is simply darker, but it’s actually manganese. You can obtain zinc phosphate from Brownells. You can source electro deposited zinc with or without brighteners, yellow chromate, clear blue chromate, OD chromate, and black chromate from Caswell.
Prep Your Parts
It takes a little effort to prepare your fasteners, but it’s worth the effort in the long run. Fasteners, such as body bolts, do not need to be restored if they are going to be painted. Just coat them with a phosphoric acid called Rust Cure. Then re-coat a week later, wipe, and they are ready for paint in one week.
Before tossing all of your fasteners in a bucket to get plated, take the time to document each one. You also have to separate the fasteners that are zinc clear, black, and yellow (gold) because they are barrel tumbled separately. Take a picture of each, along with markings on the head, and store in a Ziploc bag with the description written clearly on it. Also weigh each fastener on a digital scale and log it in a notebook. It does take time, but when you get everything back it is much easier to sort things out.
It’s really not that difficult or horribly inconvenient, and this way you don’t confuse yourself with what goes where. When you find a bolt or two that have been forgotten (maybe left on a sub-assembly) they are easy to plate at the same time as the parts that you’ve put in baggies.
Don’t blast; just degrease and dunk your fasteners in vinegar for half-day periods to clean them. Then use a brass wire brush to chase the threads if necessary. Wear gloves to prevent fingerprints.
Because some time may pass between cleaning the fasteners and Parkerizing them, you need to re-clean them. Immediately before dunking in the Parkerizing solution, dunk in acid for a few seconds or minutes, spray with oven cleaner, and dunk in hot water.
Not everything on your classic muscle car is timeless. Sure, the long, sleek lines will survive the test of time, but certain things just are, well, pretty bad. Your original weatherstripping is likely to be very brittle, flaking, or just plain rotting apart. Obviously, it’s high time to replace the old rubber with some new stuff.
Modern technologies offer far better replacement parts than what the original factory equipment could provide, namely in the way of electronics, plastics, and rubber compounds.
Today’s plastic and rubber are embedded with new-age polymers that resist aging, cracking, and discoloring far longer than those from more than 40 years ago. These polymers also improve elasticity in softer contact points (including body bumpers and weatherstripping) and maintain that pliability over the years.
Sealing your cabin from the outside elements is easily done. Apart from insulating the cabin from road noise and debris, weatherstripping also acts as a vibrational buffer, keeping doors, windows, deck lid, and hood from rattling and chipping your paint.
Although most weatherstripping either comes with plastic clips or fits snuggly into channels to hold the rubber into place, a good bead of 3M Weather Stripping Adhesive keeps out moisture, dust, and debris.
Companies including B/E Parts, YearOne, and Classic Industries offer full sets of weatherstripping and body bumpers. A tube of 3M weatherstripping adhesive and a roll of narrow painter’s tape (and somepatience) are all you need to get the job done in a couple of hours. Proper weatherstrip adhesive is applied in a two-part process: Apply a thin bead on a clean surface and do the same to the mating surface of the backside of the weatherstripping.
The recommendation from 3M is to wait up to a minute before bonding the two together; the waiting period is to allow the oxygen-activated glue to “kick.”
On the door rubber, the weatherstripping features a series of knurled plastic clips that lock the rubber in place. You can glue as you clip the weatherstripping in place. When finished, simply close the door to apply the pressure necessary to complete the bond. Applying the trunk lid weatherstripping requires a little more finesse, and painter’s tape, to keep the rubber liner in line.
OEM-level restorers note that the seam for trunk weatherstripping is offset by 6 inches to the right from point of center. This was done to better seal from seepage.
When your weatherstripping dries, insert the body bumpers. These act as bump-stops for the doors, hood, and trunk to protect your car’s paint from being chipped and damaged.
With a gentle cleaner, wipe down any excess glue and residue. The 3M adhesive requires a few hours to fully bond, so closing the hood, trunk, doors, and windows when you’re done helps the glue dry faster.
The door glass, seals, window channels, and regulators must be carefully inspected and most of if not all the soft materials replaced. You must carefully inspect the door glass and quarter glass; if it is the original glass, it is in good enough shape to use. After a full restoration the original glass flaws are often magnified next to the fully restored paint and trim.
The two-door post, hardtop, and convertible side glass are all different. None of the convertible glass can be used in either the hardtop or the post cars. The hardtop glass has different trim where the door and quarter glass meet. However, the front door window actuator and glass channels are the same. The quarter glass actuator and window channels are very complicated. Inspect them closely to make sure all of the plastic rollers and guides are in good shape. If they are broken you must find replacements.
The door and quarter glass whiskers and seals must be replaced and are available through many sources. Take several pictures of how these mechanisms and channels are located in your car so that upon reassembly you can install the parts back in their general position, so that final adjustment is easier. Here too, the original factory service manual for your car is a must-have when adjusting your glass and doors. The manual devotes 50 to 100 pages to these installations and adjustments.
If you want date codes on your replacement glass various companies can apply your exact dates to the glass for you. Otherwise all new seals and plastic parts can be replaced with correct factory appearance from many reproduction part suppliers.
The best tip we can give you is to replace any questionable parts now. You do not want to have to do this again after you have completely restored your car.
Remove the glass from the door and the vent wing assembly. Notice the holes for the front slider seal, the lower window mechanism bracket, and the glass stop.
The glass stop keeps the door glass from being raised too far and binding or, at worst, breaking when the door is closed. If it is missing it must be replaced.
This lower glass bracket has been fully restored. After blasting and painting the stainless steel, rest the glass against some glass-setting tape that has been glued in place so it does not break. Replace the clip and secure it by lightly driving the center pin into place, which spreads the clip and secures it to the bracket. Then lubricate the channel with grease.
Blast the window regular and paint with stainless steel paint. Lubricate and test it to make sure it functions smoothly and correctly. If needed, replace the plastic pivot wheel if it doesn’t move freely in the slot of the lower glass bracket. Mount the device inside the door using three bolts. Make sure the threads for the handle are clean and in good shape. Chase it with a tap to make sure the handle screw fully seats.
Inspect, blast, paint, and replace the felt used in the rear glass channel. The bolts that hold this in the door are black phosphate. (If you see them painted body color that is a dead giveaway that the car was painted without being disassembled.) Install them loosely in the door so the glass goes in easily. Adjust and tighten after the vent wing assembly and door glass are installed as one unit.
The rear door glass and mechanism in a hardtop and convertible has several adjustment points. If your glass is functioning well before disassembly take good pictures of these bolts and their position. They will prove to be very valuable upon reassembly.
The rear window glass actuator has many different metal and plastic parts. Inspect all of them for excessive wear and replace as necessary. The spring-loaded wheels that roll along the window guide are usually weak or worn. Hopefully yours are in good shape because they are not reproduced. If yours need to be replaced you must find good used or NOS ones. Again take pictures to aid in reassembly.
Replacement of broken rollers is necessary. Also replace any missing retaining clips. Even if the mechanism is in good condition, disassemble, clean, and lubricate before reinstalling.
Two-piece rollers must also be removed and the mechanism blasted, painted, lubricated, and reassembled. Do not take shortcuts when restoring these pieces.
Vent Wing Window
Often, when cars are entered for judging, judges go immediately to the doors and look at the vent wing assemblies. Just by looking at these assemblies, seasoned judges can tell, almost immediately, if the car was properly restored.
More often than not, cars that have been painted, the engine rebuilt, fitted with new tires, and a nice interior, have the original, but pitted chrome, bad glass, dry hard rubber seals, and scratched stainless. Ignorance about restoring these assemblies causes many to leave them in place and mask and paint around them.
Too often it is a telltale sign that shortcuts were taken, not only here, but in many other places in the car’s restoration as well. Remember, there is a big difference between a restored car and a “perfumed pig.”
The difference a brand-new vent wing assembly can make in a newly painted car is amazing! Here are the general procedures for restoration:
Phase 1: The Assembly
Before removing the vent wing assembly, remove the window lift mechanism, door handles, latches, and seals. Remove the bumpstop on the door glass and roll the window down completely. This exposes the window wipes and “fuzzies” for removal.
Loosen the rear window channel nuts, but do not remove the assembly. Label, bag, and tag all the hardware and store. Be mindful of the plastic plug that holds the bottom of the window to the bracket that engages with the roller lift mechanism.
After disengaging the lift mechanism from the window bracket, remove the bracket by tapping the center plastic plug out of the bracket mount.
You can remove the window with the bracket attached and then remove the mount. Inspect the lift mechanism; many of these are worn out or non-functional and must be replaced.
Taking the assembly out of the doorframe involves some hideand-seek to find all the attaching points and adjustments. On the front of the doorframe two nuts hold a triangular mounting bracket inside the door.
Two large, plastic, flat plugs and one small plug are located on the inside of the doorframe toward the top. In addition another flat plug is located on the bottom of the door toward the front, to access the lower adjustment bracket.
The two nuts are 7/16 inch. The hidden two bolts are 1/2 inch; the small plug hides the Allen-head bolt. This bolt goes through the door inner frame into a small threaded rectangular keeper and is not attached. Under the door, the nut is 1/2 inch. Be sure to spray a lubricant on the bottom nut and threads, and take your time removing this stud. It turns loosely inside an angular bracket attached to the bottom of the vent assembly by two small welds. Often these welds are already broken and the bottom of the assembly is loose.
After removing all the attaching hardware the entire assembly comes out.
Remove the rear window channel, then inspect, blast, and paint it. You may need to replace the felt inside this bracket.
When you slide the door glass out of the vent wing assembly you see a plastic and felt slider seal on the front of the door glass. Most of the time this slider has deteriorated and must be replaced. Sliders are available through Chrysler and are reproduced. They are difficult to install correctly. Take your time.
Upon reassembly make sure the seal slides freely in the vent wing channel. You have to drill or punch out the holes for the pins to attach the slider. Using pliers squeeze the new plastic clips and pins through the hole in the glass and the slider. You have to trim the slider to length.
Phase 2: The Glass
Next you must remove the vent wing glass and chrome channel.
Drive the pin out of the shaft and loosen the screw. Disassemble the pivot; the glass and base easily comes out. You must cut out the old glass mounting tape that holds the glass in the base. Use a liberal amount of penetrating spray. Remove the catch lever by driving out the small pin.
Take care not to lose the special washer.
Have the base re-chromed.
Replace or clean the glass as necessary. Either use glasssetting tape from your local glass shop or use black silicone to secure the glass into the base, and trim when dry.
Buff and polish the pivot or replace as necessary. Be sure to use the round gaskets between the pivot and the glass or breakage may occur.
Phase 3: The Frame
The frame of the vent wing assembly is made up of two distinct units, the front chrome frame and the angled metal and stainless frame.
The rubber gasket can be reused or replaced depending on its condition. Three small posts that have been bent and spread secure the two frames together. Thankfully, there is a pair at each point and the factory only used one of them, leaving the other for you to use in reattaching the frames together.
With a Dremel or drill carefully grind the edges of the posts until the frames can be separated.
The chrome frame must be re-chromed and the stainless on the other frame buffed. Take care buffing the stainless because it is part of the frame and can be snagged by the fast-moving buffing wheel.
The lower adjusting/attaching mount is at the bottom of the frame. In most cases this bracket is busted or missing. Re-welding the bracket to the frame is tricky. If you re-weld it inside the channel it interferes with the sliding glass. So you should spot weld it on the outside edges and dress with a grinder.
When you get the frames back from the chrome shop the process becomes more difficult. Protect the chrome at all costs. Position the two frames back in the original location.
With a sharp small chisel and hammer make an “X” on the unused post. Then with a punch spread each quarter-section of the post outward.
Reinstall all screws and hardware.
Install the rubber gasket and the vent glass assembly.
Blast and paint the triangular mounting bracket on the front of the door. Attach it loosely and put the Allen head and retainer in place.
Be sure to have the rear glass channel in place and attached loosely with the bolts.
Slide the door glass in the vent window frame and install it in the door as one unit.
Reassemble and adjust according to the factory service manual instructions.
Rear Window Trim 1968–1970
By Restorations by Rick
For 1968–1970 B-Bodies I highly recommend installing new molding clips. Because they are screwed in place they must be installed before the glass. Breaking a used clip while installing moldings can ruin your weekend! Be sure to carefully compare the new clips to your originals. It’s vital that the catch edge of the clip is at the correct distance from the pinchweld.
Start with the lower strips: the one with the stepped end first and then the one that slides into it. The upper pieces are installed last in a similar fashion, stepped one first. These can be a nightmare! The lower corners have a tendency to pop up.
Last, the tool is used to maintain pressure on the trim strip. After an overnight cure, the strip will stay put. Don’t get carried away with the amount of urethane; if you ever need to get the trim off later you want to be able to saw it free without too much effort.
Be sure to tape a towel or thick blanket around the area just in case the suction cup comes loose.
Hood scoops, scallops, and louvers were all used on these B-Bodies from 1966 to 1968. They had an aggressive “bad boy” look, and even when highlighted with chrome and contrasting stripes they were still just there for looks. In 1969 that all changed. On the Road Runner and GTX models Plymouth introduced a cable-operated fresh-air induction system aptly called the Air Grabber. Not to be outdone, Dodge introduced the same system for the Super Bee and the R/T models, in the same exact color, but labeled it the Ramcharger.
Interestingly, the Charger line never received the fresh-air option until 1971 when Dodge combined the Super Bee and Charger models.
The advantage of these fresh-air induction systems was that instead of the engine getting hot air from the engine compartment, it could now get cooler fresh air directly into the engine via a somewhat sealed outside source.
Now that the hoods were modified with the fresh-air induction boxes, the breathers had to also be modified to accept the additional fresh air and funnel it into the carburetor and intake. These breathers, filters, and their lids come in many combinations. Depending on the particular model, year, number of carburetors, and engine size, you could have a variety of air-breather styles.
The hood may or may not have a stripe with the 1969 Air Grabber. The Ramcharger had hood scoops with the size of the engine badge mounted on the side. If the hood had the V21 stripe option it was painted with Organisol. If the hood had the freshair option the screens that allowed the fresh air into the box were always Ralleye Red in color with or without a stripe. If the hood did not have the fresh-air package it had a solid ribbed plate painted semi-gloss black with or without a stripe.
In 1970 the Ramcharger remained manually operated by cable, but the color of the box was changed from black to orange. The Air Grabber changed completely in style and operation. It was no longer operated by a manual cable; it became vacuum operated and the scoop was flush with the hood. When the switch mounted on the lower dash was flipped, the vacuum from the engine went through a vacuum storage canister and caused the actuator to raise the scoop, exposing the menacing “shark” mouth and teeth proudly proclaiming “Air Grabber.”
Thus the ultimate stoplight intimidator was ready to rear its head whenever an unsuspecting challenger revved its engine. In 1970 the V21 hood stripe changed from two equal stripes to three stripes with the middle stripe being the largest.
A vacuum-release solenoid under the dash allows the scoop to always return to its flush-mounted position when the key is turned off. You can also use the toggle switch on the dash to lower the scoop on demand.
Non-A/C Heater Box
One of the important parts of an interior restoration is the heater box/ventilation system. Two systems are available in all cars: the non–air conditioning heater box and the air conditioning/heater system. They are very different and require many different parts to repair and restore.
Several businesses can perform high-level restorations on these units. You can expect to pay a minimum of $600 depending on the shape of your unit. Then, add to that another $100 or more for shipping and the risk of damage in transit.
If you have an air conditioning unit, we highly recommend you have a professional do the work. If you have a non-air unit, you can purchase a kit and do the work yourself. The following are general guidelines to restoring your non–air conditioning heater box.
Evaluate the Condition
The condition of your original box dictates the extent of repairs and the process for restoring the unit. It also helps you decide whether you can restore the unit yourself. The body of the unit is made of thermal plastic with sisal fiber added for strength and has a distinct finish.
If a repair to the box must be made you have to paint it. You can use a kit to refinish it, but only an original box without damage is able to keep the original unique finish. If your unit is damaged or missing parts, it is necessary to either purchase an original in better shape or send it to a professional to do the work. Even then, they cannot reproduce the original finish with paint. If your unit is in good shape you should able to achieve that goal.
Take as many pictures during the disassembly process as possible as reference for re-assembly. As always, clear a nice open work area with plastic baggies and small boxes to put the parts in as you go. You need basic tools, such as a nut driver, razor blade scraper, basic refinishing products (a paint stripper, fine steel wool, and lacquer thinner), and re-assembly products (spray adhesive from 3M).
The heater box kit has detailed step-by-step instructions for the foam installation. Some are pre-coated with adhesive and others need spray adhesive. You can purchase these kits from several sources.
Clean the Box
The box itself needs to be carefully cleaned. If it has been painted before, the paint can be removed by carefully spraying light coats of paint stripper, followed by cleaning with 0000 steel wool, rinsing with water, and then final detail cleaning with lacquer thinner and the 0000 steel wool.
If the box requires more cleaning, it can be blasted with very fine low-pressure glass beads. This also cleans all brackets and the center On/ Off door. You can either mask off and paint these attached metal parts or remove them by grinding off the rivets.
However, if you remove the rivets you have to invest in a rivet gun and rivets that have the “peel type” or “banana peel” spread on the backside. Normal pop rivets do work, but are not original in appearance.
First you disassemble the rear blower plate. The squirrel cage is attached with an Allen head set screw. After removing the screw, coat the shaft with a penetrating lubricant and tap it off using a wooden hammer handle or dowel pin. Do not force it off or try to use a puller, it bends and ruins the balance of the unit.
Test the motor and refinish or replace as necessary. One wire is green and the ground wire is black.
Reassemble after blasting, painting, and testing.
We strongly recommend always replacing the heater core. They are available at your local parts store or online.
Inspect and test the resistor switch to make sure it is in good operating condition. It can also be cleaned with lacquer thinner and 0000 steel wool and painted with clear. It is attached with two small hex-head screws.
After blasting finish the front cover in a gloss or 30-percent-flattened gloss black. The back has a foam layer included in the kit.
Stamp the yellow part number on the cover. You can make your own stamp or purchase one online. Use water-based paint for the stamp.
After cleaning or blasting the case, paint it with a satin or gloss clear to return it to its original appearance.
After blasting all the metal parts, coat them with high-quality stainless steel paint. We recommend Seymour or Dupli-Color Stainless Steel paints. All moving parts, brackets, and both back covers are natural or stainless in appearance.
The finished box not only gives years of service but looks original and gains valuable points at high-level shows. It also sets your car apart from those that do not have this unit correctly restored. It also comes in handy when your windshield fogs up or on a cold night coming home from cruising!
Heater Box Restoration
Many heater boxes are in poor shape. However, they can be restored and made to look brand new. The most important consideration before sinking a lot of time and money into one of these units is the condition of the body of the unit. If it is cracked and pieces are broken off get another core. Some people repair these flaws with fiberglass, but then they must be painted and therefore lose the original finish.
Disassemble your heater box. You can use this photo to account for all of your parts. (Photo Courtesy Chuck Buczeskie)
This engine plate will clean up nicely. Test your engine to make sure it operates correctly.
This heater core backing plate is in very good original condition. Notice that even the fan motor vent rubber hose can be salvaged.
It’s a good idea to inspect the inside of the body of the unit. The distinctive fine white fibers have to be present for the original finish.
Always, always, always replace the heater core. The last thing you want is a leak after the car is completed.
The defrost/floor heat door is completely covered in foam, but is easily removed.
Remove the fresh-air vent control door as a unit. The two foam seals are very difficult to remove and replace. After the door has been removed it can be stripped, blasted, and painted natural metal.
After you remove the defrost/heat door you can strip, blast, and paint it natural metal.
You must bend the frame to remove and replace these foam seals. Take care so that the frame can return to its original shape. This one cleaned up well with a light blasting with soda.
A setscrew holds the fan cage on. Loosen it to remove the fan. Remove the fan motor from the plate, restore the motor, and blast with soda or glass beads.
After everything has been removed from the body of the box it can be lightly blasted with soda. Don’t worry that the color looks light after blasting. Spray it with a satin clear paint and it returns to its original finish, with light-colored fibers showing.
The blower fan can be blasted and painted. Be careful not to move any balancing clips if present. This one only had one clip and nothing was bent.
Using a foam kit, follow the directions to install all the foam seals. Some have a peal-and-stick design and others must be sprayed with glue and attached.
After blasting Seymour’s Stainless Steel paint, install the peal-and-stick foam seal being careful to follow the edge of the plate so a tight seal is achieved after assembly.
Install the new heater core and secure it with the correct clear cad-plated screws.
Install the painted and foam-covered defrost/floor heat door.
Install the temperature control door frame and door.
Pay very close attention to the black phosphate tang that causes resistance when the vent door is opened. Without this tang the door is loose.
The back side of the fresh-air door is completely covered, unlike the front side that has the middle of the foam seal cut out.
Install the fresh-air door assembly with all the correct foam seals. Be sure to check for proper fit because the mounting holes have some play.
Inspect your restored and assembled fan motor, blower cage, and plate. Be sure it has the correct wire colors, locations, and connectors.
Hook up a 12-volt power supply and test run the assembled motor and fan cage. If it is installed correctly it does not rub on the housing.
This is a correct heater box finished all the way down to the under-dash wiring clip with rubbercoated tips.
Be sure to use the correct clear cad-plated slotless screws to assemble the heater box.
The only thing left to complete the heater box restoration is the front cover. Mount the fan-speed resistor with special screws. It is made from a brown fiber; clean it lightly and test it to make sure it works.
Remove the resistor and sand the finish or completely strip it of paint if necessary.
Paint the cover gloss black using single-stage enamel.
Every heater box had a part number stamped on it in yellow paint. Many heater boxes in restored cars are missing this stamp. It is located under the dash frame. You can take a picture of the original stamp and measure the height of the numbers and have a local stamp maker create the correct stamp.
Apply a liberal amount of medium yellow water-based paint to a note pad.
Spread the paint with your finger making sure you leave a layer on the pad.
Using even pressure practice on the pad several times until you are comfortable with the feel and satisfied with the results. Too light a pressure and the stamp will not be uniform. Too heavy a pressure and the numbers will be hollow in the middle and heavy around the edges.
Attach the vent grilles and the large rubber vent seal. You now have a complete, original, functional heater box unit ready to install.
The back side of your heater box should have all the white foam seals, the thick rubber heater core seals, and the correct gold cad-plated attaching shoulder nuts with serrated washers that are seen from the engine compartment when installed. (Photo Courtesy Chuck Buczeskie)
Install the final floor heat deflector. Your heater box assembly now looks brand new and original, and also functions like new. (Photo Courtesy Chuck Buczeskie)
In the same way that a different set of skills is required to restore the engine verses the paint, the restoration of your car’s interior requires yet another set of skills. We have seen some fantastic mechanics absolutely butcher the interior of a car, while a talented painter may not be able to assemble an engine. By following the “how-to” guidelines and tips in this section, and with a little patience and a few basic tools, you can reproduce a factory-correct cockpit that is functional, comfortable, and beautiful.
Whether you painted your car body yourself using our guidelines or had a shop shoot the color, the interior has some special areas that need painting. Even though almost all the interior metal is covered with carpet, a headliner, or door panels, you must mask off and paint some areas. You may also have to use some vinyl dye on some soft parts that are not reproduced and may have come from another car that even had a different-color interior.
If you haven’t already masked off and painted the door interior panels, now is the time to do it.
If you have a post car, the inside part of the post matches the color of the upper door panels. The A-pillars match the dash color. The rear seat upper panels also match the upper door panels. The metal and vinyl headliner trim matches the headliner color. The package tray trim matches the headliner trim color.
Make sure you have done your research as to what is correct for your car’s interior. The interior codes are on the build sheet and the data plate.
You find a basic design of the kick panel in most of these 1966–1970 cars. They are all molded plastic with a grain on the surface. The original panels were plastic that was molded in the color of the interior. You have to be certain of the variation and color that were original to your car. All, no matter the color, have insulation behind them, lap over the doorjamb, and cover all the way down to the floor.
The sill plate then goes over the bottom tab of the kick panel. The kick panels have usually been scuffed over the years. If you only paint them you may still see the scuffs.
Reproduction panels are available for most cars, but to save money they are all produced in black. You can paint them to match your original color. If possible, it is better to have panels that are molded in their original color (Such as OEM or from another car) because a black panel that is painted a lighter color appears black when scratched.
Behind the door panels is a plastic vapor barrier. This is a sheet of heavy plastic held in place with strip caulk. It served a very important purpose: It prevented water seepage into the cavity between the exterior body panel and the interior sub-structure. Attached to the interior metal structure was the door panel with fiberboard backing. Without the plastic the door or interior panel became wet and warped.
Over the years door panels were often removed and the plastic tossed aside. During a certain period a favorite place to put additional speakers for the 8-track stereo was in the door panel. All of this means that you can very seldom use the original panels of the door and rear side panels. Fortunately, all of these panels are reproduced.
These models have different levels of trim so be sure to verify your car’s original style. All the trim is attached with push-in clips and are easily removed and reinstalled.
If you don’t have salvageable panels, sources such as Legendary Interiors restores original door panels and parts, saving enthusiasts from being “stuck” with old vinyl or padding. Simply ship your upper and lower door panels to their Newark, New York, facility where skilled craftsmen and women strip off the factory vinyl covers and yellowed, brittle foam and rebuild your panels from the ground up. Starting with the bare-metal base, Legendary’s techs clean the surfaces and reapply a new coat of glue before attaching the pre-molded replacement foam.
Legendary already has replacement vinyl covers pre-molded to match pre-sculpted foam. They simply align the replacement cover with the base plate, glue the two surfaces together, and heat until they bond. It sounds a lot simpler than it looks, and it takes a skilled hand to do it right. The vinyl is stretched drum-tight and smoothed of any wrinkles before the edges are trimmed and glued down.
The final touches to the upper door panels retain the deluxe interior option’s splendor, such as the chrome door lock ferrules and replacement “cat whiskers” window felts.
Although you might hope to have your originals restored, the factory cardboard panels are typically so aged that Legendary suggests replacing them completely and offers a variety of kits for DIYers.
New panels require popping open the holes for clips and cutting the vinyl for window regulators and armrests. The holes for them are perforated in the backing for easy removal with the small tool included in a Legendary kit. A skilled hand with an X-ACTO knife or razor blade can cut the holes in the vinyl from the backside with no problem.
Although our door panels lined up nicely in front, the rear quarters took some finagling to get aligned. Remember, these cars were built by hand, not by computer-controlled machines, so if it doesn’t quite fit, it might just be the car.
Most Mopars came off the assembly line with a clear plastic covering that separated the exposed cardboard from moisture and the elements.
The carpet on these cars almost always needs to be replaced. Many cars (and the majority of cars with 4-speeds) had black carpet, even with a different-color interior. A good rule of thumb is that a 4-speed car should have black carpet unless you can prove it came with carpet that matched the interior color.
Most reproduction carpet rolled up in a box for shipment. It is molded to fit the floor contours, so it must be laid out flat in the car as soon as possible. The rear section goes in first; the front section is installed second and overlaps the rear piece. Some people install sound-deadening material first even though the factory did not. If you choose this sequence the sound deadening will be less visible after the carpet is installed.
When you have the carpet positioned correctly find the holes for the seat belts, the seat track holes, the 4-speed hole if equipped, and the dimmer switch hole. Use a soldering iron to sear the hole completely through the carpet. Then take a screwdriver and push it through every hole to hold the carpet in place. You can use a soldering iron to sear the holes for the belts and seats through the carpet as well.
Trim the sides near the kick panels, the front area where the pedal lever attaches to the firewall, and the rear floorpan area where it meets the side panel as necessary. Then wait until you have everything installed and bolted down before trimming the door opening. The dimmer switch has a plastic grommet provided with the carpet. The factory did not use one but instead cut the carpet and pushed the switch up through the hole.
Watch for the foam gasket that goes between the floor and the carpet under the base of the gas pedal. Sometimes the jute backing that is glued on the carpet must be trimmed so that this important seal fits and seals out any moisture from under the car. The carpet is never glued in these cars. When everything fits, you can trim the door opening right to the raised edge of the pinch weld. It doesn’t overlap this edge. Then install the doorsills.
Original doorsills are usually in bad shape and cannot be reused. New ones are available but be sure to buy the best ones you can find. Some are made very poorly. Also check to see if the sills you buy include the correct screws. If the screw holes in the new sill plate do not align exactly you may have to drill one or two new holes. A restorer often uses a larger screw to attach the plate when the hole is too large for the original screw. Because enough room is available to move the plate forward or back without causing any fitment problems, it is preferable to drill new correct holes.
A narrow carpet hold-down strip runs between the rear seat and the doorsill. It attaches with a screw in the front and one in the back. Many people do not have one and are not aware that it is missing. These strips are called two-door B-Body scuff plates. They help to hold the carpet down along the bottom edge of the rear side panel.
Carpet is one of the easiest interior projects you can do by yourself. Companies, such as Legendary Auto Interiors, offer molded carpet kits that are cut and patterned specifically after the factory floorpan and require minimal trimming, if any, to fit. You can use a clean soldering iron to burn the edges of your seatbelt holes so the loop carpet doesn’t continue unraveling.
The seats for all four years and models share many identical parts and design aspects. You basically have the bench seat, bucket seats, buddy seats, and power seats. The convertible models feature unique rear seats.
Seats before January 1969 do not have headrests, but even the bench and bucket seats after January 1969 all have headrests.
You usually find two levels of interiors in each model. Be sure to research what your car came with on your data plate and make sure you purchase the correct style.
All these seats have a metal frame with S-springs that are almost always worn out or busted from years of abuse. Seat tracks bolt through the floor and “Fiber donuts” rest between the floor and the track.
The bench seat has a wire that goes from the driver-side release latch through an adjuster in the middle of the front seat frame. It then attaches to the passenger-side seat track.
Each bucket has its own release. The seat tracks are specific to the model and year and are difficult to tell apart. Most of these are rusted and supplies of them are becoming scarce. They are not reproduced, and even bench seats are harder and harder to find. This makes being able to restore what you have a necessary process to get your car back on the road.
Unless your car has low miles it is best to completely disassemble the seats. After removing the seat covers, the foam, and the burlap padding, examine the seat frame and springs. Replace any broken springs or parts of the frame that need more support. Your local upholstery shop can sell you springs and clamps. If your frames are in really bad shape it is best to strip and paint the frames and take them to a professional for repair.
Examine all the padding and replace as necessary. Foam kits are readily available for most bucket seats but few are available for bench seats. Again, unless your seats are in very good shape it may be best to take them to a good upholstery shop. If you only need to replace the seat covers and everything else is in good shape, almost anyone can install the covers with good results.
Seat covers are held in place by many hog (or pig) rings. Pay careful attention to where these are positioned so that you can correctly install your new covers. You need a good set of hog-ring pliers and at least one or two large boxes of rings.
New seat-foam kits include step-by-step instructions to install the seat foam correctly based on your particular seat. Be sure to have some new razor blades and spray adhesive handy.
When you receive your new seat covers lay them out in the sun or in a warm room. This helps relax the shipping folds and wrinkles before you install the covers.
Seat and Seat Cover Restoration
During disassembly carefully document all parts. Here is an example of a seat belt guide in a 1970 Plymouth bench seat. This feature is unique to this B-Body and care must be taken to remove it without damaging the part. If your plastic seat belt guides are still flexible and not brittle they can be disassembled without breaking. Notice the location of the hog rings that hold the seat cover to the frame.
After removing the back of the front seat examine the pivot to see if it is in good enough shape to support the new seat or if it needs to be replaced. This is a big stress point and vital to the operation of the seat when accessing the backseat area.
After removing all vinyl, foam, and padding and any old hog rings, blast and paint the seat frames semi-gloss black. You can then install new padding and foam, followed by new seat covers.
An original swatch of seat material confirms the color of the new seat covers from Legendary. Unless you have a black interior the colors of the different parts of the interior vary. This hinge cover is whiter and the armrest is a bit darker than the seat cover.
If your headrests are in similar shape as these you can restore them: Replate the posts, replace the chrome trim strip, and clean and re-dye the vinyl. If your vinyl is damaged or cracked you have to buy new ones. Fortunately they are now reproduced and can be purchased on eBay or from several distributors, including P.G. Classics.
Here are the new seat covers using the new hog rings to attach the covers to the restored seat frame.
Stretch the covers and attach them from the inside out. Atttach the corners like this. Notice that only a foam pad base appears on the rear seat back.
Use burlap to reinforce the seat bottom. The springs should have been restored and replaced so you have a comfortable seat that supports your body weight.
The sides of the seat frame have extra springs that support the seat and keeps it from collapsing under the weight of the occupant.
The back upper and lower seats are the easiest ones to re-cover. If you have never done any upholstery work before start with these. Notice the hog rings along the bottom holding the cover in place attached to the seat frame.
The upper and lower front seats are more difficult to re-cover because of the latches and headrests. Lay out the new covers so that all the piping follows the edges to end up with seats that are not only functional but beautiful.
The rear seat mounting clips must be in good shape. They are reproduced and available from many sources. To remove or install the seat bottom you must press the seat inward and either lift upward or apply downward pressure.
Do not forget to replace the fiber seat divider that goes between the trunk and the rear seat. It hangs on the upper seatback hooks. The bottom is not secured but hangs freely.
Most of the time the seat belts and shoulder belts in original cars have been completely neglected. They are either missing or have been lying on the floor or underneath the rear seat. The chrome is rusty and the webbing is hard and faded, and the clips and retractors barely function. The date code and part number tag are also missing, or torn and faded.
Shoulder belts were not even installed in many of these cars, and because they are difficult to remove from the clips over the door, were seldom used. The restoration and replacement of this life-saving equipment is very important.
The first thing to do is inspect the belts and decide if you are missing any of them. The rear seat should have enough belts for three people. If you have a bench seat or buddy seat with buckets in the front, you should also have belts for three people. If your car is a 1969 or 1970 shoulder belts are standard. The shoulder belt configuration is different for 1969 and 1970.
In 1969 cars the buckle is on the shoulder belt and snaps into the tang that is mounted with the sun visor for storage. The rest of the belt is held into place with an elastic band with a snap. In 1970 cars the buckle is on the seat and the tang and belt rest in two clips above the door.
If your car has all of the belts and they are in good shape you can clean them with Simple Green. You can then use 0000 fine steel wool to shine the chrome pieces and remove any grime. You can also repaint the buckle and re-dye the webbing if needed.
If you are missing a few belts you can find them at swap meets, at online “for sale” locations, or at online auction sites. The belts can be re-dyed if you find the missing ones in a different color.
If you do not have any seat belts or shoulder belts you can find complete original sets for sale. Just be sure to check your factory service manual so you know which belts your car originally came with from the factory.
If you have all the original belts, you can have them rebuilt to original appearance, even down to the correct date/part number tags. One source that provides all the necessary services is Ssnake-Oyl. Their standard of work is on the highest level and if you are serious about showing your car they are the best way to go. They also have complete sets that are already restored ready to ship if you are missing your originals and all you have to do is install them.
Of course, you can always buy a complete reproduction set of belts for your car from suppliers such as P.G. Classics. They have many sets for many applications in stock and ready to ship. These belts are not exactly like your originals and they do not have the date/part number tag, but they are very similar and are much less expensive than sourcing an original set.
The bolts used to secure the seat and shoulder belts are gold cad in finish and come in various shoulder depths depending on where and how many belts are mounted to the bolt. Originals are usually rusted and must be replaced.
A car that has been repainted with the door latches and catches on tells you if a true nut-and-bolt full restoration was performed on the car. If the person who restored the car did not take the time and expense to remove and replate these parts you can count on find corner cutting elsewhere.
The door striker plate on the doorjamb has as few as one and as many as three plates between the striker and the doorjamb. These help with striker and door-latch fit. It also has nuts that float in metal pockets inside the quarter panel. This also helps with correct adjustment of the door. Sometimes these areas are cracked from years of door slamming.
The best way to repair the door latch body-mount panel is to cut it out and butt weld in a replacement. The striker and attaching screws are silver cad plated. The latch is gold cad plated. Convertible models have an upper latch that is spring-loaded and helps to reinforce the door-to– quarter panel fit.
Inside the door several rods connect the door latch to the door lock knob, the door key, and the interior and exterior door handles. These are passenger-side and driver-side specific. The clips for these are also specific, are plastic, and are often broken. A hook mounted inside the door is for the rod from the interior door handle to the latch. This rod has a sleeve so that it does not rattle.
Unless your door latches are in great original shape we recommend you have a professional shop rebuild and replate all of the latches and strikers.
Hanging a headliner in a Mopar is as easy as counting to six. A sequence of six metal bows stretch across the width of the ceiling, helping the soft material keep its arced shape.
Two smaller bows do likewise for the massive C-pillars, while serrated teeth at the windshield and snap-in retainers on each side keep the headliner taut.
For cars such as the Dodge Charger, Daytona, and Superbird with long, rakish C-pillars, the headliner requires that special triangular panels glued directly to the headliner or a clip installed into the inner roof liner. You can also use pre-wrapped panels that attach to the inner liner over the headliner, both securing the headliner and looking great.
Trim for the hardtop and the post car is completely different. You need a notch in the trim so that it fits against the post. To help find all the screw holes in your new headliner simply install them before you glue it in. Just slit the material with a razor blade so the screw head comes through the material.
Of course, the C-pillar cardboard plates are available two ways: bare or covered to match the headliner.
Installation in a Nutshell
With a few tricks of the trade and a fair share of patience, headliner installation is a job that can be done by an amateur with professional results.
The first step is to make a sketch of the positioning of everything fastened to the headliner. This includes items such as the rearview mirror, visors, seat belt clips, coat hooks, shoulder belts, dome lamp, etc. Several pictures can be very helpful, too.
Take your time and use the following guidelines. We haven’t scrapped one yet, but we’ve come close!
After removing the original headliner, be sure to note the correct order of the bows. They are different and must be reinstalled in their original place. If they were previously removed and mixed up, they can be laid out side-by-side and sorted for position. Your A-pillar cover and front windshield trim should match the color of your dash, whereas the headliner trim matches your headliner color.
If the car already had the headliner removed, be sure that the dome-lamp wiring is in place correctly, and if your model has brackets for the shoulder belt clips check that they are present as well. The visors should match the color of the headliner. The shoulder belts and belt holder clip normally matches the interior color. However, in the case of a white-interior car, the seat belts and shoulder belts are black; the shoulder belt clips are also black.
The new headliner comes folded in a small box. The headliner may be laid out and warmed in the sun to relax out wrinkles, but it is not absolutely necessary.
Slide the bows into the listing pockets and center them. Carefully trim the listings so that about 1 inch of the bow is exposed. (Do this step outside of the car.)
Now move the headliner with bows into the car. Place the rear-most bow into the hanger clips. The rear bow has two small wires with hooks on the ends. One end hooks on the bow and the other presses into a small hole in the rear-most roof crossmember. One wire retainer is used per side. We like to hook them slightly inboard so that as the headliner is stretched to the sides it pulls them straight.
Continue placing the rest of the bows, working forward.
Use about a dozen or so small spring clamps to secure the headliner edges without stabbing it onto the gripper teeth. (Some refer to these as pony clamps, the ones with the orange-dip coating on the tips and handles.) These clamps allow you to work your way around the headliner gradually pulling it tight and eliminating the wrinkles.
Start in the rear by verifying that the centerline marked on the headliner is lined up with center of the rear window opening. Pull the headliner rearward and clamp it in place. Do not press it into the gripper teeth yet.
At the front verify the centering and pull the headliner forward and clamp it in place. Again, don’t press it into the gripper teeth yet.
Now work down the sides, pulling the headliner gradually from each side, clamping it along the way. As the headliner is pulled outboard, the listing pockets need to be re-trimmed. Approximately 3/4 inch of bow should be exposed up to the roof-side crossmember. Be consistent with this dimension so that the point where the side-to-side stitch seam curves is the same down the whole side. Continue pulling and clamping around the perimeter until the headliner is taught.
When the entire headliner is tight check that the front and rear side-to-side seams are straight. Unequal pulling can make them uneven; this is easily corrected by readjusting.
Small tight creases from packing folds come out easily with careful heating. Overheating melts the material. Practice on a scrap piece if you’re unsure how hot you can make it. It’s also important to keep moving around with the heat to prevent overheating any spot. Time in the sun also relaxes these packing folds.
Starting at the rear, pull slightly and press the headliner material onto the gripper teeth. Start in the center and work toward the outsides.
Repeat this step on the front edge.
The sides must be glued with trim adhesive. You can brush on the glue or use a special glue gun with a pinpoint spray pattern. Glue between the clamps and install headliner clips at each seam. Trim the edges to approximately 5/8 inch.
Remove the clamps as each section is dry enough to hold the headliner in place.
Trim and glue down areas in front next to the visors. Pull out any soft wrinkles by the visor corners as you glue.
Tug on the headliner to eliminate wrinkles and push it down onto the gripper teeth in the sail panel areas. Additional glue along the bottom may be needed.
Trim around all edges, being careful not to cut too close to the teeth.
Refer to your drawings and pictures to locate the domelamp position. On many cars, the dome lamp can be attached at the front or the rear of the center roof crossmember. Be sure you have the right place, then make a small slice for the wiring and socket to pop through. Only trim the slice large enough to allow the lamp to be screwed on without distorting the headliner.
Cutting a large opening is not necessary or recommended.
The visors, mirror, etc. can be located by feeling through the material to find the indents for the screws. A small needle can also be used to locate the screws. If you put the screws in before you installed the liner, they are easy to find.
All electrical components are important and cannot be ignored. Any issues must be addressed, and items repaired or replaced with quality replacement parts that are similar to the originals in appearance and function. More cars are destroyed by re-using old, faulty wiring, gauges, relays, and fuse boxes than anything else.
And that brings up a good point. Always carry a good fire extinguisher in your car. It can mean the difference between replacing wires in a small section of the car and a total loss of the car due to a catastrophic fire.
Headlights on these cars were never Halogen-style bulbs. They were sealed-beams, either made by Westinghouse or General Electric. Actual date codes are stamped in ink on the backside of these bulbs. Working original bulbs are hard to find but are worth the effort. The wrong headlight bulbs can easily cost you four points in a judged show.
Taillights are also important and must function in the running light, turn signal, and stop light mode. Parking lights or front turn signal light also must function and have the correct color lens and bulbs. Some have clear bulbs with colored lenses while others have clear lenses with colored bulbs.
Side-marker lights must also function correctly. The exception was in 1969 when Dodge and Plymouth were able to get around federal requirements by using front and rear reflector lenses. The government quickly put a stop to that in 1970.
Dome lights, map lights, glove box lights, console lights, underdash lights, and rear seat lights must function correctly. Tracking down all these wires and getting them to work can prove to be a frustrating and time-consuming effort.
You must be able to read a wiring diagram and have an ohmmeter and a test light to work on them. If you have power to the socket you must also have a good ground. Often the lack of a good ground keeps these small but important lights from working.
It is best to replace all wiring, wire looms, and connections with new reproduction wiring. The old wires in these cars have deteriorated over the past 40-plus years. With age these wires develop additional resistance; when they are again used in the operation of the vehicle they can heat up and cause a fire.
The new reproduction wiring harnesses are well constructed and look exactly like the originals. They have new connectors that save you hours of frustration trying to track down a bad connection. When they are replaced you never have to deal with them again; you can spend your time enjoying the car and have peace of mind knowing it’s safe from potentially dangerous wiring problems.
Dash restoration should be done right the first time because lying on the floor with a droplight trying to fix an under-dash problem is no fun. And having to do it more than once is just plain torture.
The following general steps are a good reference for this important process.
Remove the windshield and steering column.
Unplug the wiring harness that runs alongside the driver’s kick panel to the rear of the car.
Five special bolts hold the upper part of the dash and two hold the lower part. Loosen the two lower bolts but leave them in place. They help to support the dash until you are ready to remove the unit from the car.
Remove the upper bolts and use a 3-foot piece of heavy wire to keep the dash from falling into your lap as you disconnect the remaining wiring. The support wire can be threaded through the bolt holes in the dash and the body where the dash attaches, then twisted together, leaving an access space between the dash and the car.
The engine wiring harness should already be free of the bulkhead connector. Clips hold the bulkhead connector to the firewall; they must be compressed from the engine’s side of the car. Then the connector releases to the inside of the car.
Disconnect the heater and vent control cables from the heater box. As always, save, bag, and tag all the attaching clips and screws. They really slow you down if you lose them on re-assembly.
Make sure everything is disconnected from the dash assembly including small items such as the antenna cable from the radio.
When the dash unit has been disconnected, you can remove it in one piece. Lay it aside on a work table with a blanket for protection (or fashion a jig to mount it) while you disassemble, replace, repair, and reassemble the dash.
Now everything under the dash can be evaluated, cleaned, stripped, and replaced. Remember, this is probably the first time these areas have seen the light of day in many years.
Depending on your car’s options you have several areas to address during the restoration of the dash unit.
The wires and connections of the under-dash unit are, without a doubt, the most important wiring in the entire car. A short in the under-dash wiring is the easiest way to burn your car to the ground.
For safety’s sake, do not ever bypass the fusible link with a hard wire. It is the main connection between the battery and the dash. Many car fires are caused by owners who removed or bypassed the fusible link, or by faulty dash wiring.
The aftermarket offers many reproduction under-dash wiring harnesses, all with the correct wires and plugs. Replace it now and never have to worry about it again.
Gauges, Switches, and Control Panels
We suggest having your dash cluster and switch panel bench tested and cosmetically restored. These gauges are usually yellowed with the plastic faded, and the chrome is almost always pitted.
Send these components to a professional shop that restores these gauges. Replace any switch that does not work. Nine out of ten times you have to replace the headlamp switch because the dimmer coils are bad.
The lettering on the switch panel can be restored by painting it with semi-gloss paint. Separate a brand-new eraser from a number 2 pencil, dip it into some water-base white paint, and dab it on the raised lettering.
With a little practice you can have a professional-looking panel with correct lettering. This technique can also be used on the heater controls.
Now is the time to decide whether or not to restore your original radio, upgrade it to modern components with original appearance, or replace with a new unit. The original radio is often long gone and the radio dash plate has been cut to mount a cheap aftermarket unit. Because this is about restoring your car to original appearance, the best answer is to either purchase a new unit or have your original radio upgraded with modern components.
Another popular option is to have your original unit rebuilt and then wire in a removable modern unit with CD or MP3 capabilities. No matter what you decide you must replace the speaker and make sure the radio receives and changes channels as it did originally.
Reproduction antennas are available through many online sources. Each year from 1966 to 1970, changes were introduced in the face and the knobs of the radios. The 1968–1969 thumbwheel units are interchangeable. The Plymouth radio says “Chrysler” on it and the Dodges specifically say “Dodge.”
You find variations in the style and type of dash pads each year of the 1966–1970 Plymouth and Dodge B-Body. Some of these pads interchange from one year to the next (as with the 1968 and 1969 Plymouth models). However, be aware that even if the dashes appear to be the same, some differences can catch you off guard. A good example is the ignition switch and hole in the dash of a 1968 Plymouth B-Body; it is smaller than the same part and hole in the dash of the 1969 Plymouth.
Different models of the same line of cars featured different levels of dashes as well, such as a standard dash versus a Rallye dash. Dash pads are often cracked. If that is the case, they must be restored or replaced with originals. Reproduction pads are available, but most of them have small differences, such as in thickness or finish that set them apart from original parts. Whenever possible use original parts and refinish them.
All of the years of grime come off with a thorough cleaning with lacquer thinner. Repair any problems in the back of the pad with black silicone. Check for any scratches and scrapes and smooth them out with a fine file or sandpaper. Then, for a black dash pad use SEM Landau Black. It correctly duplicates any interior black vinyl parts. Spray several light coats and let them dry.
SEM offers other colors in their line so you can match the color of your original parts. If you do have to buy reproduction parts most of them only come in black or white. We suggest starting with white if you want to match a light interior color and black for all dark colors.
Heater and Vent Controls
Every car, no matter the year, has the same basic layout of the heater and vent controls. Bench test the unit to make sure all of the controls function normally. The tabs and faceplates are reproduced, but the original can also be restored. If you have extra units to use for parts you can almost always restore one unit to full function. Verify that the switches work and that the cables move freely.
Vent controls are under the dash; reproductions of these are available as well. They must be replaced if they’re not in good condition.
Most models feature a fiber insert that has an access flap to the fuse box. These are reproduced and are easily replaced. Some models have a glove box light; it must function normally. The inside of the glove box door’s appearance is as important as the exterior.
Also, now is a good time to mention that if you do not have the original owner’s manual, get one. If you show the car at a high level the judges will look for it.
The dash’s metal frame, unless in pristine condition, should either be sanded or cleaned, or better yet, dipped and stripped. One of the most difficult steps in the restoration of the dash frame is identifying the holes that were originally in the dash and the ones that have been drilled over the years. The best way to tell which type you have is to look at the backside of each hole. Most factory holes are finished, whereas owner-drilled holes have a rough back edge.
If your car has a 4-speed the dash has a reverse light. The same goes for an Air Grabber car. Depending on the year, an under-dash cable or a vacuum switch actuates the Air Grabber. All other holes must be welded up and finished for paint.
Painting the dash is very straightforward, except for the specialized finish that all dashes had from the factory. The steering column and the ashtray cover is also painted with the same finish. All colors of dash paint included an additive for a suede finish to eliminate any reflective glare from the sun.
The original paint formula and additive is hard to find so sometimes you have to settle for a close match. It resembles the feel of 100-grit wet/ dry paper. The dash vents are painted with regular semi-gloss enamel.
Either tape off the tag if it is in really good shape or remove it by grinding off the rosette rivets from the backside. Strip the tag and repaint with semi-gloss black. ECS has the dry transfer Chrysler logo, and the original-style rivets are available online from many different resources. After the dash is painted reattach the VIN. It will look incredible!
When the dash is out is the time to completely replace and restore all the insulation, heater box, emergency brake assembly, brake and clutch assemblies, and wiper assembly. Everything is accessible and easy to work on. Several types of insulation is used under the dash. The glue on upper pad insulation and the fiberboard-backed insulation are all available as reproductions; not all of it is. Save what you can’t find as a reproduction and reuse if possible. When everything has been restored and all the under-dash assemblies installed, it is time to install the restored dash assembly. We suggest that the same techniques used to remove the dash be used to reinstall it: Set the unit on the two lower bolts; use a heavy wire to hold the dash in place until all the wires and cables are connected. Lift and push the unit into place and attach the five bolts.
The dash, along with all parts of this assembly, is the command center for your car. In addition, it is the focal point for your eyes from the moment you slide into the driver’s seat. I cannot stress enough the importance of thoroughly detailing this vital assembly. Make sure every part of every area works as originally intended. Not only is it a thing of beauty, but all operational aspects of the car flow through this central command center.
Remove and disassemble the pedal assembly (if you have an automatic transmission) or the clutch and pedal (if you have a manual transmission). Blast and replace the bushings. Test the taillight switch and replace it if necessary. The pedals are natural metal with semi-gloss black paint three-fourths of the way up the shaft.
The emergency brake assembly is attached with two bolts from the inner wheelwell. Remove it and the cable. Blast and refinish the entire brake assembly.
The area behind the emergency brake assembly needs to be stripped. A plastic retainer and metal clip dipped in rubber holds the taillight-wiring bundle away from the dash. Unfortunately, no reproduction clips are available currently from the aftermarket, so you must seek out original parts
You may have several types of insulation under the dash. The glue on upper pad insulation and the fiberboard-backed insulation are all reproduced. This insulation is original; save it if possible.
Access to the wiper linkage enables you to replace the seals and end link. This is a good time to send your wiper motor off to be restored.
Remove the fuse box and clean all the connections with a wire brush. NOS fuse boxes are available if yours is too far gone to reuse.
After removing everything from the dash either blast or dip strip the frame. The paint for these dashes is unique in finish and in color. It is a low-gloss black with a suede additive and best results are achieved with a spray gun. Dashes of another color also have the low-gloss finish. This finish correctly reproduces the OEM finish.
Each year of Plymouth and Dodge models has a different dash pad. Inspect your originals and if at all possible restore them. Reproduction pads are often different from originals. This pad could be trashed, but with patience and the correct products it can be saved. You can repair the backside with black silicone.
If your pad has no cracks it can be restored. Clean with lacquer thinner and remove any small imperfections with a fine file or sandpaper.
Years of use leave some very tough stains. Use lacquer to remove them; they must come off for the paint to stick.
This is the best dye/ paint to match the original finish of a black dash pad. Spray several light coats to produce a show-quality result.
After cleaning and painting, the dash pad looks fantasic.
The detail and appearance of an original unit cannot be found in a reproduction pad. With the correct process and product it is better than new.
You can splice and repair the original harness, but we recommend replacing all under-dash wiring of these cars.
This brand-new, tested, correct, and complete underdash wiring harness will never have to be touched again.
You can make a homemade jig to mount your dash and be able to access the front and back. You can work on a table, but only on one side at a time. Also, with your dash mounted you do not have to worry about scratching or marring it.
Your new, working, reliable, tested dash is now ready to go back in the car. ESE and Associates can rebuild your dash to completely original specs.
This is a rare B-Body convertible switch. Notice the added label from the factory. The other lettering was done with a fresh pencil eraser and white paint and looks factory original. Always replace the switches if their finish or function is not correct.
Radios varied from year to year and must be restored along with the heater controls. The heater control buttons are reproduced and match the originals exactly. That is great because most of the time they are worn from years of use and are not restorable. This is a Plymouth 1968–1969 thumbwheel radio; it reads “Chrysler” on the dial. The Dodge version says “Dodge.”
This is a 1970 Plymouth radio. It was a one-year-only style and very difficult to find in working condition.
This 1970 glove box has an owner’s manual. The door opens downward and is brittle plastic instead of durable vinyl. From year to year, the latches are different and cannot be used interchangeably.
Don’t forget to restore the brake backing plate inside the engine compartment. It is painted semi-gloss black no matter the car color. The foam seals are white and are installed after paint.
The manual reverse light is mounted on the dash and must be in working order.
Manually operated fresh-air systems were available on 1968–1969 Dodges and Plymouths. The red handle to open and close them is mounted under the dash beside the vent cables. In 1970 a vacuum-operated fresh-air system was available. It has several lines running from the canister in the engine compartment to the relief valve, then to the switch, and back to the engine compartment. Make sure this all works before installing the windshield.
The Rallye dash was an option on some Plymouth and Dodge models and came standard on other models. (Photo Courtesy Chuck Buczeskie)
Written by Mike Wilkins & Mike Wilkins and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks
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