Disassembling the Body
With the engine and trans removed the next order of business is to disassemble the body so repairs and modifications can be accomplished.
It might help at this point for me to define a few terms that I'll use when talking about this build. There are three or four terms that people generally use when talking about building a car. First is "Restoration". Everyone knows what that means and there is no reason to re-define the term. Another is "Clone". This to me describes a build that is meant to deceive. A "Clone" is a car built to fool someone into thinking its an original for purposes of resale. Not something I would do. Next is a "Recreation or Tribute" build. This build is meant to pay homage to the original. It may include some modifications but generally it captures the essence of the original without attempting to deceive. And finally there is the "Restomod". This term is pretty much self explanatory. A restoration that includes modifications that bring the car up to near late model standards.
OK, with those terms defined we can continue with this "426 Street Wedge "Tribute" build.
The first order of business was to remove the glass. The door and quarter glass were removed but the mechanisms were left in place. These will be removed and rebuilt later. The windshield and rear glass was next. Removing these without damage was no easy task since the rubber molding had been in place for 50 years and was hard as a rock. However, patience persevered and both were successfully removed and stored away. A quick note here.... a factory service manual is essential, not only for glass removal but for any disassembly or major work on one of these cars. If you don't have one to refer to, you're just shooting in the dark in most cases.
Overall the body is in good condition, given its age. I knew going in that both the driver's and passenger's floor boards had been repaired with fiberglass but I was surprised to find fiberglass repairs in other places as well. Here's a couple pics of the floors. I'll be removing the fiberglass repairs and replacing the floors with steel replacement panels. Although these repairs took some effort, I have to ask myself why the original owner didn't just patch these areas properly with steel. Fiberglass adds no strength to a unibody and could in some circumstances actually be dangerous allowing the unibody to flex more than it should and fail. That would definitely ruin your day.
After all the exterior and interior trim and door panels were removed I started on the dash. I will say this.... removing the dash with the windshield in place might be possible but it would be extremely difficult and I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Luckily I had removed the windshield prior to starting this job. The instruments, radio, switches and knobs were all removed first and then the dash came out easily. Once it was out I removed and disposed of the heater and blower assembly. The only other mechanical system that was removed was the wiper motor assembly. I left the pedals in place for now.
One of the fiberglass repairs I hadn't expected to see was on the right side in the previous picture. I suspected there might be a patch needed on the passenger's side of the firewall because there was a hint of rust in this area. You can see the area in this pic.
This is what I found on the inside. Once again, not the way to properly patch rust.
There was one other area where I suspected rust damage. The driver's side windshield cowl is a common place that will rust on these cars, and finding a hole cut out for drainage and some silicone channels to divert water from the wiper arm and a small hole in the windshield channel were good indications that trouble lurked below.
When the dash was removed I found a large fiberglass patch directly under this area. When I removed the fiberglass I found Swiss Cheese. This is the worst area on the car. A patch panel is available for this area but taking some time to fabricate one out of sheet steel will save the $100 it costs. Not hard to do but it will take a little time.
A couple rust areas were not the only problems with this car. There is damage to the driver's side rear roof section where it was hit by a large branch of falling tree. This damage is cosmetic only and may require some relief cuts to get the metal back into position, but once again its not all that bad.
The final problem areas are these.
I had never seen these before and I'll bet you haven't either. These are aftermarket seat belt shoulder harness mounting brackets. Another one of those "Why on earth would you do that?" questions pops into mind. At any rate, these will be cut off from the inside and the holes in the roof will be patched.
During the disassembly process I also removed the wiring harnesses, gas tank, tail light assemblies, all the chrome and stainless trim, battery tray and several small electrical components in the engine compartment.
Prior to removing the suspension and mounting the body on a rotisserie, the floors need to be repaired to stabilize the unibody. I'll be doing this with the car sitting on the suspension and with the doors installed. This will insure the unibody does not flex while the patch panels are being welded in place. The panels have been ordered and the next update will show their installation and how I'm going to build my own rotisserie.
Check back often for more updates...
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