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1961 Impala 2 door hard top mild custom

 
Old 12-01-2016, 08:04 PM
  #61  
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The driver side inner rocker has been fitted, installed and welded in solid. This is a huge step as I can now focus on removing the remains of the old floor and setting the new in place vs. fabricating missing parts.

Inner rocker temporarily installed with sheet metal screws. This isn’t permanent, it’s just final fitment as the part is now plug welded to the vehicle.





I mentioned before there are several minor cosmetic differences in the replacement floor vs. the original (at least for 1961). Most won’t notice these things, however if you were trying for a 100 point restoration it may become a problem for someone who is OCD and really knows their stuff.

Driver side factory outer floor seat brace (rusty) compared to the same area on the replacement floor. You can clearly see a brace under the seat rail that doesn’t exist on the replacement floor. The nuts are now installed in the cross braces (bottom one I removed previously) which theoretically eliminates the need for this brace. I just realized in the image the holes don’t appear to be the same distance apart. I will have to measure this and verify but I admit it could be the angle I’m holding the original piece.





Restoring an older car is like being an archeologist as you never know what you will find. I spend a lot of time wishing my car could tell stories about all the oddities and adventures it’s been through. Between the layers of paint and sometimes random bits inside or between the body panels there is always a story – like this little gem. It was stuck between two body panels and spot welded in so it had to happen at the factory. Maybe it was Friday and someone was celebrating a bit early.







Also in this session, I cut the brace off the seat floor and installed two more welded nut washers as I did on the main floor cross brace. This required another thankless session of drilling countless spot welds. I believe the spot welds were about every 1.5 inches and the panel is almost six feet long. Essentially the same as earlier on the front floor, but I somehow managed to not take a single image of the process.





Short, but important session from a progress standpoint. I test fit the seat pan brace to the pan itself with self-tapping screws. Once positioned how I wanted, I finished welding the seat pan floor brace together. This image shows everything sheet metal screwed together.




I drilled out the spot welds for the rear seat vertical braces.





The last thing I accomplished this session was beginning the cut out on the rear seat floor. At this point it was 10:30PM and I had run below 90 PSI of air (plasma cutter’s minimum) but didn’t want to cycle the compressor (it’s a big 60 gallon and loud) so I called it a night. You can see in the following image the soap stone line marking the area to keep me on track. To the right of the driveshaft is as far as I was able to go, so the passenger side will be completed during the next session.

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Old 12-01-2016, 11:52 PM
  #62  
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Non photo worthy action: I replaced the door pins and bushings while I had everything apart.


Finished cutting out the entire floor using my plasma cutter. This is an amazing tool that makes quick work of cutting out complicated shapes in metal. Just make sure the things in Itís path are things you donít want or need.















My plasma cutter in action:



With fairly clear access to the frame, I decided to run new NiCopp fuel line and anchored it to the frame in several points. I loosely followed the outside the tunnel route for the factory fuel line. My previous fuel line was the late model OEM nylon line, but I wasnít happy with how I ran it because the body was on the frame when I did the job. NiCopp has been the method of choice the entire time, but wasnít practical at the time I installed the engine.


After the fuel line was run, I test fit the rear seat floor pan and attached it with sheet metal screws. Everything fit with minimal fuss which makes me happy.

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Old 12-02-2016, 06:35 AM
  #63  
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Wow!!!.............The dedication and Talent you are showing is really "Impressive".......Great Job !!!!!


Ken
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:28 AM
  #64  
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Great work. I have to ask a question since you seem very proficient with the spot weld cutter.

Of all the cutters that are out on the market today, which one do you use and about how many spot welds do you get removed before they are no good? Where do you get the cutter from?
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Old 12-03-2016, 03:23 PM
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Thanks Ken. Hopefully this car will be with me on Power Tour in a year or two and we can meet in person.

Originally Posted by aggie91 View Post
Great work. I have to ask a question since you seem very proficient with the spot weld cutter.

Of all the cutters that are out on the market today, which one do you use and about how many spot welds do you get removed before they are no good? Where do you get the cutter from?
Thanks aggie91.

I have used a few different methods for cutting spot welds over the years with varying success and post cut cleanup / rework. This time I used a different style than I've previously used at the recommendation of another fabrication guy. These spot weld cutters look like an odd drill and are cut on both sides. The tip has almost a pyramid shape that allows the cutter to self center on most surfaces and wings on the outer edge. Hopefully the pictures I've included will explain this a bit better.

To cut all spot welds on the floor bits shown above and all the spot welds on the car itself during this job I only used two of these drills. I kept using one side until it wasn't cutting well then flipped it. I believe I finished out the job only using half of the drill pictured. On average there was a spot weld about every 1.25 inches and the panels were around seven feet long and five feet wide. Each brace I cut out included two rows of spot welds the full width of the panels.

The awesome thing about this type of cutter is there is zero prep work needed to plug weld the panels back together.

My original drills were 8mm but I bought 6.5mm drills since all my spot welds were small. This allowed me to work slightly faster and only take the material I needed. I found my original locally years ago, but the three pictured were purchased on amazon for around $15. Search for Century 17765.





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Old 12-03-2016, 11:07 PM
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Non photo worthy action: I spent a lot of time cleaning the remains of the original floor from the firewall pinch weld. The location and angle make this a bit of a challenge.

I was able to fit the passenger floor panel. This panel did not drop in nearly as easily as the back seat pan. I spent a lot more time trying to make this panel fit properly. I switched my plan of attack a couple times and the panel almost fell into place.












Time to test fit the driverís side.

I thought about it and decided the best idea would be to install the driver and passenger floor at the same time then make adjustments as necessary. If I get too excited with a single panel, I wonít know how it relates to the next panel which could turn into a disaster. As such, I fitted the driverís side panel and made some notes on areas that require trimming or adjustment.

We have a floor! After a bit of trimming and adjusting I ended up with the floor screwed down and looking good so I called it an evening.







Next session Iíll weld the floor in and remove the sheet metal screws currently holding it together. I find it scary that a bunch of sheet metal screws holding the replacement floor panels together feels more solid than what I took out.
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Old 12-04-2016, 06:36 AM
  #67  
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I know what saying about the screws, at one point I think my whole car was held together with them, looking good!
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:25 PM
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Funny how you buy a car and think it's solid only to discover otherwise!

Thanks a bunch.
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:26 PM
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With the floor welded in solidly I did a ďlittleĒ test drive. My little test drive ended up being around 120 highway and city miles plus a cruise in. Hahaha.

As I stated earlier, the floor was mostly a drop in, but there were some pitfalls:
ē For 1961 Impalas, the floor at the driverís side far left 3 inches or so of the foot well is shaped differently and will need to be modified. There is a hump in the replacement panel that doesnít exist on 1961 models.
ē For 1961 Impalas the inner rocker rails are slightly different and your inner rockers will either need to be reused or these will need to be modified slightly.
ē I found it easier to install the floor in sections as my car was too rust damaged on the passenger side to attempt to remove it from the frame and place on a rotisserie.
ē For the purists there are some minor differences between the replacement and a production floor. These wonít matter unless you are massively OCD. I.E, if you know how many spot welds were specified for an area (or areas)Ö
ē The front seat location (I pictured in a previous post) has nuts welded to the cross braces in the floor, yet in my photo they appeared to be off. The front set of holes are about an inch forward of their true location (where mine were on my original floor) As such, my seat would not bolt to the floor without modification to the floor (or seat, I chose the floor).
ē The floor did not come with the six plugs needed for the factory drain holes.

If you have the skill to install a full floor, none of these will change the outcome Ė it only delays your final product of you arenít aware of them. The biggest annoyance is the forward seat mounting points were not even close. Had I realized this before the floor was installed it would have been an easier fix. Oh well, thatís life.

Overall the car feels stiffer and more solid over bumps and curves. I can even stand in the back seat passengerís side and not worry about actually falling through for the first time in 20 years.

Now I need to fab up the four convertible only middle body mounts and get them installed.


New floor, same ratty interior. Haha




Lower rear seat brackets.

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Old 12-04-2016, 12:33 PM
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This sessionís task was tackling the four additional body mounts only the convertible cars receive.

When I installed the floor I took the time to create threaded inserts for the body bolts to attach and welded these to the inside of the floor braces. I covered this detail in a previous post but if you have questions, just ask. To make life simple, I decided to use the previously welded in nuts to position my body mount bushings and accompanying frame side tabs Iím fabricating in relation to the body itself.


Step one is to determine how big the mount needs to be and what the shape will be. I like to use scrap cardboard for this task.





Once I get the shape adjusted, itís time to transfer it to the material Iíll be using. In this case, Iím using 11 gauge as itís fairly close to the frame material.





First batch of material cut out. I used MY (haha) plasma cutter to make quick work of the semi complex shapes in 11 gauge steel and the drill press for the holes.





This is the final position check on everything before I begin to weld the pieces together. This tool uses magnets to hold the material so I can concentrate on getting a good solid tack or two - super easy.






Finished product for the front mounts. Rinse and repeat for the rears.















Finished product installed Ė pre paint.





I took a quick spin around the neighbourhood and was simply amazed how much stiffer the chassis has become. I never understood why these body mounts werenít standard on all x frame cars.
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Old 12-04-2016, 06:58 PM
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Impressive work on the floor! I've enjoyed catching up and look forward to the next updates.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:32 PM
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Floor looks good, I can't wait to cross that off the list on mine.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:22 PM
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Thanks guys.

The floor install wasn't that difficult if you have medium fabrication skills, take your time, brace the car well and make lots of measurements and notes. Custom building the parts I needed to attach the floor to the rest of the car body occupied most of my time on that install.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:32 PM
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I tidied up some wiring and re-installed the ethanol content sensor I removed when I replaced the fuel line during the floor install. If you arenít familiar, this allows the computer to read how much ethanol is in the fuel and calculate how much fuel and timing to add or subtract.

Ethanol content sensor.





Alcohol percent in my HP Tuners log.




I was running the car testing the ethanol content sensor and everything was looking pretty good until I walked to the front of the car and saw this...




I had been losing coolant at a very slow rate for a long time I couldnít find the leak. I checked the hoses and over the past several months rarely discovered an occasional loose clamp, yet the coolant was low. I finally eliminated everything but the radiator which was new when I installed it (so why would it be bad, right?), yet amazingly has a small hole in it. Of course the hole is a place between the fins and not on the face where I can TIG weld it closed.





Well shucks. I have another radiator I only used for mockup but itís a completely different style.

New radiator in packaging and only used for mock up last year.

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Old 12-05-2016, 10:24 PM
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Of course I canít do anything the easy way. Here a simple radiator swap turned into a cam swap. The cam swap turned into a Gen III to Gen IV cam conversion. Sprinkle in a new water pump with different port locations, different design radiator with different port locations requiring new radiator hoses, a full tune, etc... You see where this road leads.

Summary of this sessionís work / progress:

ē I discovered a leak in the radiator.
ē Swapped the radiator.
ē Swapped the water pump
ē Swapped cams
ē Swapped crank pulleys
ē Custom made radiator hoses
ē Moved my overflow
ē Swapped transmission coolers
ē Swapped timing chain covers to Gen IV style
ē Wired the cam pickup in the timing chain cover


With the radiator out, the water pump and crank pulley can be easily swapped in preparation for future updates. With that mindset, I pulled the cam as well and replaced it with one that Iíll need for the future.

Being on a time crunch but not wanting to pull the radiator twice (I hate antifreeze) I yanked apart the entire front of the engine, swapped cams, timing gears, timing covers and water pumps.

I reassembled everything and hit the key thinking my previous calibration would be close enough to light the engine off. Happily the engine fired up without hesitation and idled without help. I could tell it needed a re-calibration pretty badly but it is running is good. You canít tune an engine that wonít run and this is running well enough for me to make adjustments. A few tweaks with the laptop later and I was rolling pretty well down the road. Off to tune.


Front of the engine torn down. Notice the valve covers, rockers and pushrods are missing.




New LS9 cam next to the old LQ4 cam - old cam lobes look perfect Ė happy day.







Water pump comparison Ė left is 1998 Ė 02 F-Body, right LSA. Immediate differences: smaller pulley depth and water outlet has been moved. Less obvious: the provision for a tensioner / idler for the supercharger is present.





New radiator installed





New water pump and three row crank pulley





All buttoned up and ready for a test drive.




Thanks as always for looking.
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Old 12-06-2016, 02:37 AM
  #76  
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Looking good. Is the LS9 cam a proven step up performance wise vs stock cams with cathedral port heads?
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Old 12-06-2016, 05:21 PM
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Alway interesting updates. Nice progress.
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Old 12-06-2016, 07:26 PM
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Thanks Wayne.

Originally Posted by Jimbo1367 View Post
Looking good. Is the LS9 cam a proven step up performance wise vs stock cams with cathedral port heads?

I don't know, I'm not running cathedral port heads. I have always had LS3 heads and intake on this engine.

I will say there was a seat of the pants feel upgrade with the cam swap and the car sounds different. It sounds different enough that friends who heard me drive up with the new cam asked what I changed before they knew I swapped cams. Most thought I changed the exhaust as the tone was slightly more aggressive.


Short rundown on the engine at this point in the build:

1999 6.0 iron block with long crank (former iron head engine) - lots of miles
2010 Camaro LS3 heads
New GMPP LS3 intake, rail, MAP and 42 lb injectors
eBay 90mm drive by cable throttle body
2002 F-Body oil pan
LS9 cam
LS3 cam cover
LS2 timing gear
new LS3 intake rockers and rocker stands, used 6.0 exhaust rockers
springs and valves came with the heads
ethanol content sensor
1999 blue / red (P01) PCM
2002 Suburban flex fuel OS
Tuned by me using HP Tuners
2007 - 2013 Corvette acessory drive
LSA water pump
LSA crank pulley
1999 junkyard V6 4L60E
stock converter
junkyard external transmission cooler
Walbro 450 in tank pump

Last edited by gofastwclass; 12-06-2016 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:51 PM
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The LS9 cam, LSA balancer and LSA water pump swap was groundwork for the next project. Fitting the LSA supercharger Iíve had sitting on the shelf for most of the last year.

I removed the LS3 intake in preparation.







LSA supercharger base installed.





Injectors installed in the new fuel rail.





Main LSA complete supercharger installed, now I need to fabricate various small pieces to make everything work with my Corvette accessories.



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Old 12-07-2016, 12:15 AM
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Nice build. I'm planning a 6.0 with L92 heads with either an LS3 intake or LSA blower. How well does the fuel composition sensor work? I've always wanted to add one to a build I think it'd be very useful. Any tuning difficulties?
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