My 64 Camino...From the Beginning - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 135 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 15, 1:57 AM Thread Starter
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My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

I've been thinking of writing this up for a while now. Not sure if anybody cares or even where to start. You may wonder why this is under builds, but the car has never been static, always in a state of upgrade and change that still continues. I'm going to try to get the history in first, then move on as things develop.

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, oh wait never mind that was Star Wars. Ok, in 1966 my dad bought a new Chevelle Malibu. He had been looking and considering other cars with more of a "performance" image such as Corvairs and Mustangs, but upon the advice of his senior officer, (he was career Navy) he bought a family sedan with the smallest V8. Not quite plain Jane, though. It was 2 door, 4bbl 283, 4 speed, Marina Blue with black bucket seat interior. And he drove it everywhere. He wasn't one much to hot rod or modify, so many of what we call 'Day 2' modifications never happened. He claimed the original exhaust rotted off after 6 months, and since he had been shipped from CA to Florida, he put on glasspacks with dual exhaust, but that came back off when he came back to CA in 1969. The car still had duals, but with quiet mufflers that weren't going to attract undue attention.

How is this relevant to me? I came home from the hospital in my mom's arms in it in 1974. Ahh, the days before child safety seats.

Seeing as how I was an only child, it became the family car we took many trips in it all over the west coast as well as anytime we went somewhere as a family. Somehow those rumbles from going down the road got to me at an early age and from the beginning, my favorite car was always the Chevelle. Then, in early 1984, after having purchased one of those new Toyota vans, the Chevelle was sold. I was 10 and heartbroken.

As the next few years went by, I still dreamt of cars, specifically 66 Chevelles, and others, I got into Datsun 510s for a while, and Corvairs, and others, but by the time I was 15 there was no choice other than a Chevy A-body. Being in CA at the time, however, meant that anything 1966 and newer had to pass bi-annual SMOG tests. Those were scary, nasty things according to Hot Rod magazine and I couldn't expect to pass at all if I performed any modifications to my vehicle, which I wanted LOTS of! I ws a Hot Rodder after all!

Around the same time, my freshman-sophomore years in high school, I had a good friend who was a year ahead of me who had a 65 Camino. It was ratty, with probably 25 year old original paint, virtually no interior, radiused rear quarters and wide slot mags on the rear. It had a 327 with a 350hp cam and 4 speed of some kind, and manifolds to pipes with glasspacks hanging off the ends just under the doors. It was loud, fast, and I liked the fact that it could haul stuff too.

That's all I have time for tonight, more tomorrow.

Devin

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post #2 of 135 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 15, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Well it's a few days past tomorrow when I had intended to write more, but that's life.

So not much after my 16th birthday I'm hunting for a car. With AutoTrader firmly in hand, I'm searching out anything I can find that looks cool and is in my price range. With some saved money from a paper route and some help from my parents for good grades I can buy a car, but not a project.

First one I really considered was a clean white 65 Camino that was on a small dealer's lot about 50 miles away. It was a 327/4 speed car, red interior and some funky sunset thing in the back window. Overall it was a very clean car, but it drove funny and I didn't know why. Now I know I had bias tires on it.

Then I found a turquoise 64 Camino. It was 50-60 miles away in another direction, but the price was right and it ran and drove. It was a 283/4speed car, sat very low, with 15x4 rallys in the front and 15x7's in the rear. It had full length dual exhaust with glasspacks, and the right sound. The interior was full of dust from the environment it was in, but overall it looked good to an excited 16 year old. My dad came with me to look at it, and seeing my excitement over it, he suggested we find a local mechanic to check it out. We found a guy about a mile down the road, small town, had him spend several hours going over it mechanically and in the end he gave it a clean bill of health. the owner let me take it home for the weekend, with the promise of a pink slip for payment on the following Monday. So after running it around all weekend with my buddies, I took payment out to him on Monday and received in exchange for it a pink piece of paper. Well, it wasn't a title. I had no idea. My dad was pissed. I had no idea what a title was supposed to look like, but what I had received was a transfer slip. It had been through several owners without any of them actually running it through the DMV so there was quite a backtrail to sort out.

More later,

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post #3 of 135 (permalink) Old Aug 1st, 15, 11:55 AM
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Great story! I hope to see more! I'm 16 now and I'm still on the convincing the parents and saving money stage(as you said, times were different). I look forward to see more!

Regards, Mason.
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post #4 of 135 (permalink) Old Aug 7th, 15, 1:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

So on with my story. Within a few days of bringing my car home I went down to Kragen and bought a Sun Super Tach II for about $50. My dad warned me against installing it on the column and looking racy to attract attention, so my buddy with the 65 showed me a trick that it would fit in the clock hole and the spacing of the holes on plumber's tape (the metal stuff) was distanced just right that it would hold it in place. With that done I was content for a little while.

About a week after that I was home in the afternoon before I had to go to work and heard a squeal and a crunch out in front of the house. Upon further investigation, it turned out that a neighbor from 2 blocks down had come around the corner too fast, lost control and plowed right into the left rear of my pride and joy. I was heartbroken. He was uninsured. And I still didn't have a clear title in my name. I have pictures, but they're not loaded on my computer.

It took several months and lots of threats from my dad and the previous owner to get the title straightened out. Since the driver who ran into my car was uninsured and I had just bought it, my insurance agency paid me what I had paid for it once I had a title, but that had taken all summer.

Now it was early fall, I had a wad of cash in my pocket and I was on the hunt again.

Devin

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post #5 of 135 (permalink) Old Aug 7th, 15, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

I don't remember what I looked at first, but there were a number of vehicles I checked out. There was a 57 GMC 1/2 ton that a young guy had. He was maybe 18-19, still older than me. He said it had a reverse pattern shift in it, so after looking it over I let him drive. Little did I know that was just a granny 4 speed, starting in 2nd. I looked at a first gen Monte Carlo, always liked the looks of those, but the deal wasn't right and it had to be smogged anyway. I went back and looked at the white 65 on the dealer's lot again. When I called the owner said wait a few hours because he had to bring it from somewhere, but when I got there it was on the front line and the engine was cold. I don't know why he lied to me about that but it made me suspicious so I passed on it yet again.
There were others I looked at too, but none worked out for one reason or another.

Devin

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post #6 of 135 (permalink) Old Aug 22nd, 15, 2:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Finally after months of searching I went to look at one more 64 Camino. I had found it in the AutoTrader, one grainy black and white picture and short description. It looked like everything I could want, I even waited a few days after finding it because it was too close to ideal and I was intimidated.

The ad said it was red with black SS stripes on the hood, 327/4 speed, black bucket seat interior and American mags. What more could a young guy want? After contacting the owner, my dad and I went out to look at it the following weekend.

It was about 30 miles east of us, away from the coast in the more dry inland area. Not all was as great as I had hoped once we got there though. The paint had a nasty gouge on one of the rear quarters from a parking lot skirmish, the sheetmetal in the front didn't line up properly because it had been in an accident at some point, the 327 turned out to be a 307 2bbl, the seats were in sad shape, and the heater hose was looped because the core was shot.

The seller was about the age I am now, 41, with a few kids and deep into tri-5 Chevys. He had 4-5 if I remember right. This Camino was the oddball, and he'd decided he needed a daily that he could haul his kids too.

Overall, it was a solid driver car that needed some help. We took it out to the same mechanic that had checked out my first one for a thorough going over and he didn't find anything significantly wrong. So, after some negotiations, it was mine.

I drove it home sitting on a phone book because the seat springs were sticking through. The previous owner had had the seats done in Tijuana, and on his was across the border coming back, the border patrol had cut the backs out of them looking for drugs. Getting the seats re-done was first on the list. Other things that were taken care of pretty quick were a trip to San Diego Speedo-Tach to get a speedo cable made up and calibrated and getting the heater core replaced. When I got the car, it also came with a quart of matching paint, and so I had the rear quarter fixed. Since these were primarily all safety things in some form or another, and I was young and my dad wasn't into working on cars, all this work was paid for rather than me doing it myself.

All that had been accomplished within the first few weeks of my ownership. It didn't take long before I was doing more, myself. The tach that I had put in my first one went in. The car had come with a Hurst shifter, with a crystal doorknob as a handle. I bought a T-handle and gave the doorknob to my girlfriend's mom because she liked it. A trip to the junkyard had netted me a Q-jet and 4bbl intake off an early Monte Carlo, that I then rebuilt in Auto Shop and installed. I also found a set of 15x7 rallys in the junkyard to replace the American mags because they were 14's and fake.

I had grown up with stories from my parents and their friends of running SCCA rallies in SoCal in the mid to late 60's and early 70's before I was born. I wasn't allowed to race my car, but modifications for improved handling were permitted. I had seen an article in Hot Rod magazine called Knuckle Sandwich, where a guy with a GTO had done a bunch of modifications and was running corners with new Corvettes. His outfit was called H.O.Racing. I initially bought front springs from him, and put 255/60R15s all the way around on those 15x7 rallys from Super Shops. The front springs dropped it about 2", so with help from a friend, I cut the rears, but too far! So I then ordered the rears too.

There was something weird about the rallys too. The nubs to retain the center caps were worn out on all 4 wheels. I painted them black and ran them that way for a time.



I don't have many pictures from the early years, film cost money and I was more interested in going fast than documenting what I was doing. I was that long haired kid on the fender, my cousin was in the bed.

Swap meets were all over SoCal then, I used to hit them regularly. Eventually I met a guy whose business was rally wheels and I bought a set from him with nice new trim rings and caps.

That 307 was acting tired by now, smoking some after idling for while (little did I know it was just typical Chevy valve guides) so I had a guy that built an engine for a friend build a 350 for me. I was only allowed to increase cubic inches because the 350 was the most common engine for the previous 20 years or so. My high school shop teacher also ran an engine shop and he set me up with a Crower solid cam that I had put in. I set the lash on that thing 2-3 times a week because I couldn't tell the difference between a loose rocker and a header leak! I also ended up swapping on a Holley 600 on an adapter plate through a deal with a friend of mine. Boy was that responsive compared to the Qjet!

One of the problems with the wide tires on the front was that they would rub if I turned and hit a dip at the same time. I could do either independently and it was fine, but not both and there was a corner near my house where I did that constantly. Rather than just go a couple sizes smaller in the front, I stepped it down to a 14x6 in front with 215/70R14s. No more rubbing, but now my headers scraped over speed bumps.

More to come.

Devin

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Last edited by Dean; Aug 10th, 17 at 9:20 PM.
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post #7 of 135 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 15, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

This next bit has been difficult for me to write, so it has taken a while to get together.

All was going well until a couple of months before my 18th birthday, when I got into an accident. It wasn't may fault, and I won't go into details here, but suffice it to say that it still has lasting effects today.

The nose of my car was damaged, and it wasn't driveable. The hood was bent in half, one fender was damaged, the bumper wasn't recognizeable and the grille was destroyed. I think it may have gotten the radiator and fan, too since I seem to recall the water pump being replaced. I had it towed to a local body shop for repairs and added in some cash in order to get the whole thing repainted. I had it towed in Feb. of 1992, got it back in the end of May, and it still wears the same paint today. I have some pics of the damage somewhere but they're not loaded into the computer.

Around that time a friend introduced me to a mechanic that would become my friend as time went on. Probably late 1992, he helped me swap out my heads, as the valve tips were wearing out so I found a set of L82 heads, had another friend recondition them in his night school classes and bolted them on, and shortly after that we changed out the solid cam for a hydraulic from PAW's house brand, SSI. Now, I knew nothing about cams at the time, so I went looking for a little more lift than I had and ended up with a 292/.488/114. Basically an RV cam. Combined with the flat top pistons and 76+cc chambers, it had to be around 8:1, looking back. I also swapped on a 780 vac sec carb I had gotten from another friends' dad. This thing was a turd until 3500 rpm, but with blown out cherry bombs bolted to my headers and shortie pipes ending at the rear axle, it sounded awesome to an 18yr old kid.

Around this same time I had met a couple of guys that liked to show together, each had a Chevelle SS and an El Camino, one guy had white 65s, the other had aqua 67s. They were both quite a bit older than me, but welcomed a young guy to join them. I cleaned up mine the best I could and lined up next to them at some local shows, kinda cool, red, white and blue. At some point around early 1993 the guy with the 65s was parting out a "race car" that had a 4.10 posi 12 bolt rear. By today's standards, that car was nice! I wish I had bought the whole thing! Anyway, I bought the 12 bolt from him, early model, narrow one, I think for $100.

So now I had a 350 that I thought was hot stuff, 4 speed Muncie and 12 bolt 4.10 and fresh paint. Interior was mostly original but still decent. I was running all over SoCal to car shows and had an interesting problem on my way one time.

Super Chevy Show was in Bakersfield. I didn't have much cash, but a buddy wanted to go too and had some killer coupon for a hotel, so we didn't have to come up with much other than fuel and food. Didn't realize how far Bakersfield was from San Diego. Not far into the trip, we had stopped for gas and, being the idiot I was, was hammering gears going onto the highway, managed to break the clutch ball on the block side. Sheared it clean off. I managed to drive the rest of the way there with no clutch, using the starter at each stop light to get us going. When we went to the show the next morning, I was scouring the swap meet looking for the unlikely chance of finding a clutch ball. There was 1 there, and only one, in the side of a 409 block a guy was trying to sell. The block was empty other wise but that thing had a golden glow around it. It was mine for 2 bucks. I never had my wallet out so fast! By a continued miracle, I was able to work the existing stub out of the block with my fingers and a pair of pliers and got the new one installed. That stupid thing is still in the car today!

More still to come

Devin

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post #8 of 135 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 15, 1:40 AM
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

nice ! brings back good memories !
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post #9 of 135 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 15, 5:27 PM
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

So this is all from memory?


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post #10 of 135 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 15, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Quote:
Originally Posted by b&b's69 View Post
nice ! brings back good memories !
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by haughty View Post
So this is all from memory?
Yeah, all from memory, but I can't tell you what I had for breakfast!

I know there's stuff I've forgotten. Somewhere in there I bought a used set of headers from a guy. Don't remember where I met him, but I remember meeting up with him at a cruise night I used to attend that was about 45 minutes from home. They were half flattened on the bottom tubes, but I got them for $25 and new ones were $99. I saved big considering I was only making 4.50/hr. I installed them in auto shop in high school, I think my senior year.

Somewhere in the year following my senior year, I made it out to Carlsbad raceway as a participant. I had been there previously as a spectator, but now was my turn and I thought I had something to run. Boy, was I let down. First run was in the 16's, don't think I got better than 15's that day. I'll post up pics and times soon, can't load them right now. Carlsbad Raceway is gone now, another victim of high property values in Socal.

I had a buddy taking pictures from the bleachers that day on my camera. Some time later, my dad asked me if I had any film that needed developed since he was taking some in. I did have that roll, and when it came back he had looked through it. Boy, was I in trouble. I wasn't supposed to be racing, remember.

More later,

Devin

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post #11 of 135 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 15, 2:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

I was hoping to be able to edit my previous posts to add pictures, but can't seem to figure out how.

First one:





These are the only pics I have of it, after it was hit. It was bad enough that it buckled the passenger side, hence the second pic.




This is the keeper, not long after I got it.



And a little later, once I had the Rallys on it


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post #12 of 135 (permalink) Old Oct 2nd, 15, 2:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Another time a buddy of mine and I spent an afternoon and wasted a roll of film taking pics of our "trucks" together.



We ran out to Julian for apple pie one day, about 1 1/2 hour drive just for fun. Wish I had the gas money now I did then:





Then there was the day at the dragstrip I got in trouble for. These are the pics that my dad had developed:















That guy in the yellow Camaro and I were running pretty much side by side until I ran out of rpm and he left me by probably 20 mph! Carlsbad Raceway is now closed and forever gone

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post #13 of 135 (permalink) Old Nov 14th, 15, 12:23 PM
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Interesting post, totally reminds me of my adolescence except in sunny California and not Wisconsin. That yellow Camaro looks like the Hot Rod magazine project car.
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post #14 of 135 (permalink) Old Nov 23rd, 15, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Ok, it's been too long since I've written more, but I try to put it up in good sized chunks and I don't always have the time.

My next big deal was moving North. Way North. Almost as far as you could go and still stay in CA. I wasn't fit for city life, even though I had grown up there. I moved to a rural logging town near Eureka. I acquired an apartment on the second floor of a historic building, built around 1900, that had a few businesses on the first floor. Upstairs was way up as the ceilings were at least 10 feet.

A short time later, still chasing that SS396 moniker, I bought a 396 in pieces from a guy about 45 miles north of me that had advertised it in the local paper. It turned out to be a 402 block and early (66) 396 oval heads. I took it to the local machine shop who then performed every machining operation possible to the shortblock, as that was all I could afford at the time. I took it home to my apartment and put it on a stand in my bedroom. I put the best I could buy ( to my knowledge) in that motor, forged 11:1 pistons, L78 cam, good bearings, etc. A few months later I had the heads done and dropped them on. So now I had a complete iron long block 396.

Then came the opportunity to move to a house. I had to move this thing down 30+ stairs to get it out. Boy, was that fun.

I continued working on that motor until it was complete after the move. I had a garage now, but rent was costing me a little more and I had to buy all the stuff to change over from the small block that was in my car. Finally, after about 2 years I was able to install it.

I did it at a buddy's house who was better equipped for tools than I was. I don't remember any drama in the swap so it must have gone pretty smooth. Somehow we moved my car back to my place before firing it off for the first time.

The first firing did not go well, however. We lit it off, all excited, and it ran for about 30 seconds. After that it wouldn't crank over. Little did I know the carnage I had created.

Since this was the first engine that I had built, I had no knowledge of checking things like piston to valve clearances. The machine shop had ground and re-used the factory valves, which then came into contact with the pistons because they had no valve reliefs, and shattered the valve heads on a couple cylinders. The chambers in those heads were small enough that there wasn't room for the material from the valve heads and the pistons squished out and cracked the block.

So here I am, new motor mostly junk. I contacted the machine shop that did the work, who swore up and down that he had told me to check v/p clearance. I'm burned, I walk away. Short time later I head to the "other" machine shop in town. I bring in all my broken junk, we review the situation and he agrees to sell me a 4.250 bore block, and for a small fee, trades me out my cast 3.76 crank for a steel one. All machine work is agreed upon, including upgrading my existing heads to 2.19/1.88 and a Comp 292 cam. Pistons were Silvolite hyperutectics. So now I'm building a nasty 427.

A month goes by. Then 2 months. Then 3 months. Then 6 months. Finally about 10 months later I finally get my engine.

Life had changed for me in the meantime, I had gone from being a young single guy to meeting a girl, and then moving in together. I was frustrated, but not able to do anything about the time it took. I had taken a job at a local service station that didn't pay enough, but it was work.

Finally I got the 427 installed and running. I proudly drove it to work a few times, but I couldn't afford to keep gas in it. Went out to the track a few times in that condition, but was trying to run it on street BFG's and there was no traction to be found. This would be in about 1996-1997.

More Later,

Devin

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post #15 of 135 (permalink) Old Dec 31st, 15, 2:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My 64 Camino...From the Beginning

Time for more of the back story.

When I was in college I had met a guy who professed to have body skills and a love of old cars. We were in the process of creating a factory-appearing steel cowl induction hood in this time, using a rust free 64 flat hood and a rusty cowl hood from a 69 Camaro. I was running my car hoodless due to the intake I had chosen and the adapter that was necessary for the carb. Didn't want to cut a hole in my matching painted hood.

Eventually I picked up some 28x9 slicks and started pulling some better E.T.'s, down in the low 13's with 60' times less than 2 seconds.

Among other things life had brought to me I had become a homeowner, and needed to make some room in the garage, so I had ordered a shed from Sears. My closest is about 25 miles away. I was notified when it came in, and decided to run up and pick it up in my Camino, the closest thing I owned to a truck. This was in June 1999. I had my son with me, he was 3 months old at the time. Babyseat was all buckled in the passenger seat and off we went. Made it about 4 miles from home and something went wrong. the engine wasn't running right. It still felt strong, though, so rather than call for a tow, I turned around and headed home.

Upon removing the valve covers I found that the inexpensive roller rockers I had bought had a pin work its' way out of the roller tip and come down on the retainer and released the intake valve on one cylinder. I pulled the head and found that I had gotten away with no damage to the piston, but the valve was bent. I had my machine shop replace the valve, but during the interim, I had found a set of rectangle port heads for sale on the internet. Gotta have those, right?

So I stepped up and bought these "LS6" heads, supposedly needed springs, and ready to run. Took them to the machine shop, 10 out of the 16 valves were bent, valve guides were worn out and they weren't hard seated as advertised. More money spent. New guides, hard seated, 16 new valve since he couldn't match the old ones and I supplied the springs recommended with the cam. Obviously needed to change the cam too. Real high performance cars run solid cams, so I ordered a blueprint grind of something, was supposed to be 425 hp 427, .520 lift, 242*@.050.

But the carpet was original, tattered and dyed. Might as well pull it out too. And the wiring was giving me trouble. It had been hacked on by every previous owner who needed an aftermarket stereo and a CB. And for some reason I don't remember now I pulled off all the front sheetmetal, too.

So it sat. Disassembled. I had no money. I had no time. I had a little boy now, who was good for a couple hour naps in the afternoons. I was working a lousy graveyard shift at the lumber mill. I found a little time to work on the hood now and then, but that was about it. Then we had another baby on the way. Needless to say, not much work was getting done. I wanted to, but couldn't find the time or money. Wife and I worked opposite shifts to save on child care, but that hurt our relationship. Not much after my daughter was born in 2001, we split.

Somewhere in there, I had found the funds to purchase a wiring kit from Painless. I was very intimidated when I opened the box and had the huge coil of wires. First one friend, then another had started to install it, but in time I got frustrated in waiting and decided to go after it myself. I didn't have any clue what I was doing when I started, but once I got to looking at it one wire at a time, This One Needs To GO Here, it made sense after a while. Using a low power soldering iron, I didn't leave any butt connectors in it.

As time went on, I met a lovely young lady who encouraged my automotive hobbies and I was able to make further progress. Another thing I had been working on was aftermarket gauges in the stock housing. I had taken the existing panel and cut it out from the back and added a 1/4" sheet of aluminum cut to shape with a full set of aftermarket gauges, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to stick for more than a short time. Eventually I ran across a company called Haneline, who offered custom molded dashes to fit a 64-65, in engine turned, but only offered smaller gauge openings. I gave them a call and talked to them, requesting what I had tried to build, and they agreed, but wanted m=to measure mine as samples. When I asked about matching trim for the glovebox, again, they wanted a sample, but it came out just right.



Another thing I had done in the down time was to install Dynamat on the entire floor. I did it over a period of nights one winter, cutting every piece to fit, and that stuff doesn't bend or contour well when it's cold! I don't have any pics of it, but I drove it that way for several years.

I finally got it back together ienough to drive in the spring of 2006. 7 years off the road was a long time and I was very excited to be able to drive it again. I had a solid lifter 427, M21, 4.56 12 bolt posi and had greatly missed driving my car.

More later,

Devin

Just an El Camino
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