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66 Chevelle LQ9/T56 "Project LS-Heap

125977 Views 460 Replies 58 Participants Last post by  Tico66
Now that TC has a Project/Build forum I'll be copying my build thread over here also.

66 Chevelle LQ9/T56 "Project LS-Heap"

Well, it's time I start a project thread as I've got enough parts together to go for it. I'm stuck with the name as my daughter calls my Chevelle the "Heap" since it's been looking rough around the edges compared to the wife's Magnum RT. Hopefully, she'll start seeing things my way as she's wanting to go cruising this summer in the "Heap" so that's all the motivation I need.

Chevelle as it sits:
454 w/T56 and 3:73s
4 wheel drums
Stock interior
15in Draglites with 235/60s on front and 295/50s on back
Quickest 1/4 - 12.89 at 110.5mph with 2.21 60ft
Project Highlights:
LQ9 courtesy of daytonayellaz (Thanks Travis!!!)
Corvette accessory drive for Alt/PS and Kwik for A/C
Aftermarket cam with LS6 intake using LQ9 TB with DBW
(Goal) 400+ hp/tq at rear wheels
Fuel system undecided
OEM computer with modified harness by me
Rebuilt/Upgraded T56 with Pro 5.0 shifter, hoping to use existing McLeod 12in clutch/PP on LS1 Flywheel
4 wheel C6 discs with help from Tobin at Kore3
Non-power master from corvette with Wilwood P-valve
All new brake lines bent/flared by me
SC&C Suspension courtesy of Marcus
Stage 2+ at front
Currie-trac Upper and Lower at back
SC&C springs at all four corners
Hellwig front bar and DSE pro-touring rear bar
19in BBS RS-GT wheels (already have from previous project)
Jeep GC quick ratio steering sector swap
Interior redo with BMW E30 Seats, new carpet, console(?), Dynamat(?)
Goodmark 2in steel cowl hood
Some body work followed by most likely primer until next year....
I got a good start today so I'll start uploading pics tonight.

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Here is the starting point, though this is a couple of years old.

Here is the little one and I checking out a mock up using the BBS wheels over the c6 rotors. I even got a back tire shot even though the rotor isn't one. I definitely think I will need to find a bigger tire for the Chevelle since it's wheelwell's are larger than the bimmer's. I need to wait until the suspension is done to see how it looks on the ground.

BTW, it's easy to see how the Chevelle could be forgotten since it became a storage rack for the wife's stuff. When the baby arrived, the 66 went into hiberation. Fortunately, it's time to rise again....

Here's a another shot of the rear wheel. I've always loved the BBS mesh, but WOW that tire looks small back there.

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First off, sorry for the crappy cell phone pics but the wife and daughter are gone for the weekend, and they took the camera.

Here is the car with all the stuff cleaned off on it. It already brings a smile to my face...

First the hood comes off and then it's time to start draining fluids one last time from the BBC (almost kinda sad really...)

There's the heart of my Chevelle for the past 9 years. She's been alot of fun, but now she's gracefully moving out to allow for a new "big gun" that will be more reliable and mileage friendly on the cruises.

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Well, all the fluids are drained, wire's disconnected, and fender bolts are removed. It's time to pull the front cap to see what I've got to work with.

This picture is of the two body mounts underneath the radiator. They definitely needed replacing since there isn't much left. Neither bolt broke so that was nice. I can't wait to see the rest under the body.

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The front end it coming off. I was by myself so this gave me the opportunity to use my new Big Red engine hoist. This thing is awesome since it's got casters at all four corners. It's easy to move around so it took care of this job in no also didn't require beer to keep working!!:cheers:

It will be much easier to work on this thing now that the front cap is gone. I can't wait for my other part orders to arrive. The original color is also visible now, Lemonwood Yellow. I can't wait to repaint it with the yellow. It will definitely be a wolf in sheep's clothing!!

One last long stare at the BBC, I'm expecting great things from the LQ9 so no love is lost here..:nopity:

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Nothing new on the car tonight, but I got the BB454 gone to open up space in the garage. I got a lot of use out of it over the years, but it was still tough letting it go considering the fun I had with it along with the money spent making it the way I wanted.

I touched base with Travis today on the LQ9. He's got three engine's to prepare for shipping ahead of mine, and then he'll get my LQ9 ready.

I spoke with Tobin again at Kore3, and I ended up ordering his billet hubs for the front. After speaking with Moser regarding my original hubs, I just couldn't justify spending that much to re-drill a 5x120 pattern on top of shaving the diameter, shipping both ways, and new bearings, etc. I spent more for the Kore3 parts, but I won't have to worry about them cracking at some point due to the extra stress from re-drilling. Tobin is good people, if you want Vette brakes, give him call!!

I still need to get the rear pulled to decide on what I want to do with axles. I have the same concern regarding re-drilling the 5x120 pattern, but I can't afford both the axles and Kore3 hubs at the same time. I'll put this part off until next month unless I get some additional unneeded parts sold fairly soon.
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Not much done on the car as I'm waiting on parts, but it has felt like Christmas over the past couple of days.

Here's the starting point for the firewall. My car is an original A/C car so I want to keep it that way. I won't have A/C from the start, but once it's running and moving around I'll use the Kwik bracket to get it going.

Here are the two front body mounts that are visible. These are fortunately being swapped out for Energy Suspension mounts. Once I have the engine placement decided, I'll pull the body off to clean/sand/paint the frame. It will also make it easier to run new brake and fuel lines.

Here are a few items from I bought that arrived this week!!

Kore3 C5/6 brake brackets and lines, plus a Wilwood P/V. The shifter is a Pro 5.0 that I scored off of LS1tech for cheap!!

6spd ball with line lock button, lower boot

Plus, thanks again to MuscleRodz for the free Seal-4-Good Header gaskets!!! :twothumbs

Once the pics were taken, I stacked the new parts along with the rest. Obviously, ignore the drum

Until the engine arrives, or the Kore3 billet hubs and axles, I'm at a stopping point for the engine/brake conversion. I'll start working on seat brackets this week so as to knock them out.

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It's been awhile since my last update, but between traveling due to work and ordering parts not much time has been spent on the car.

I've got quite a few new things so I'll show the eye candy first:

New Moser axles with dual patterns (5x4.75 & 5x120) with 12mmx1.50 studs and machined for C6 rotors (the box underneath is the Edelbrock LS Headers)

LS6 intake with 28.8lb injectors and rails

Currie Upper Control Arms

Nickel-Copper brake line (I hope I can get the fronts done with

Finally, a box of POR15 to coat the frame, lower A-arms, firewall, and floor (The wife has commited to helping roll it on the front half of the frame now, and then the rest when the body is lifted off)

On order and not received are front suspension rebuild parts from NAPA (Spicer!!), Hotchkis Tie Rod Sleeves, and Umi Rear Frame Braces.

I'm looking hard at the RCD Black Revalved Bilsteins rather than the Yellow/blue HD models from SC&C. I'm just not digging the gaudy colors that are standard on those shocks. Update - Decided to go with Varishocks all around since I only want to do this once...

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Eye candy aside, I got the driver's seat situated where I wanted it. Some welding will still be required to make it final, but I want to lay out the passenger seat first.

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So far the weekend has been about stripping the front suspension off the frame so that I could start cleaning it up for painting with the POR15. My original plans were to fit the LQ9 first and then pull the body so the frame could be powdercoated, but it's not in the budget.

The cheapest I could find was $700 and I don't have a truck/trailer to get it there and back. So....I'll sand the frame and paint it myself with the wife's help. I've researched the POR15 quite a bit, and I'm pleased with what I've read when proper preparation is utilized. Working for PPG, I know all about prepping the surface for paint so no fears here.

This is what I started with:

Then once the suspension was gone, I had my starting point for cleaning....

After about 4 hours use with a knotted wire attachment on my grinder and a wire brush on my drill, I ended up with this

Here is a pic of the cross member before and after, pretty incredible after a few hours

Now, I must take a moment of silence. My grinder of 6 years suffered an unfortunate fate during the cleaning stage.........................Now then, a picture for the ages

I'll go back and brush the areas around the bolts holes just a little more, but the frame is just about good enough for POR15. I've seen many vehicles painted in the plants that started out with more surface rust than this on them without issues. Once the metal is cleaned and PO4'd, it will be ready for paint.

I'll need to make a trip to the store tomorrow to pick up another grinder so that I can finish the right front frame along with the area behind the steering shaft. It's all that's left before starting the metal prep stage.

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On Tuesday, I'll be giving Marcus a call to order the Stage 2+ kit along with the SPC springs and Hellwig front sway bar. After paint, I'll get the front suspension assembled before playing with the LQ9's placement.

I also forgot to mention that my Mast LS oil pan arrived and the Hurst roll control showed up today. Therefore, while I'm waiting on the suspension parts to arrive (including the Kore3 billet hubs), I'll start practicing my flares for the brake lines.

I finished up sanding the front frame after pulling the steering shaft. I lost some of my day chasing parts and such, but I still got it to a point that I'm happy with it.

I still need to hand sand some parts of the frame that the wire wheel couldn't get along with a grinding wheel to get rid of weld splatter, but it should be about ready for cleaning multiple times to ensure that 45 years worth of dirt, grease, etc. are gone before the Metal Ready and POR15 is applied.

I'll be picking up my GC steering sector and rag joint tomorrow from Advance Auto, and my front end components will be in Wednesday. While at NAPA, I'll buy some primer and cast iron paint so that I can paint everything to protect it and offset the black frame when finished.

Per my call to SC&C on Friday, there will be a 2-3 week wait on the SPC Stg2+ arms and springs so I made the decision today to go ahead and lift the body now rather than later. This will give me a chance to sand and paint the entire frame at once, and then assemble the suspension and brakes with plenty of access. I'll also use this time to run brake lines line to the front of the car.

Based on feedback from others, I'll most likely drop the LQ9 and tranny into the frame before the body goes back on it. Hopefully, this direction won't bite me later.

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Well the front two body mount bolts are out. One came out clean, and the other snapped off in the cage nut. I'll fix it once the body is off the frame while I'm removing the original undercoating.

I decided to PB blaster the others a few more times before trying to remove them. I may just spend the week spraying bolts hoping for good luck this weekend.

Now that the Chevelle is stripped in front, I've been soaking body mount bolts for the past week. I was planning to lift the body off the frame this weekend until I found this.....

I knew I had some issues at the wheelwells, but I wasn't prepared for how bad the trunk floor actually was. At some point, someone used fiberglass to cover the rust and must have used 4-5 cans of splatter paint to cover it sufficiently. When I started working on the body mount bolts, I knew something was up when rust powder started dropping all over.

I'm wondering what should I do at this point. I'd rather pull the body off and finish the frame, suspension, and fuel/brake lines. Do you think the new panels will need to be welded in first to avoid body alignment issues, or could they be replaced after the body is back on the frame? I don't want any body issues and I'm not sure I've got the skills for this big of a job, but the car's not very mobile right now.

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Well, after 24 hours of being irritated with my discovery, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. This also gave me an opportunity to try out my new air chisel!! I've researched it since last night, and I feel I'm capable of doing this since it's more spot welding than bead welding.

Once the gas tank was removed, I started grinding the floor to locate the spot welds and I found that what I initially thought was trunk liner turned out to be fiberglass strips overlaid multiple times. Therefore, all the grinder did was create white powder and smoke. Therefore, I decided to pull out the recip saw and cut out the larger sections that were barely hanging on, and then used my new air chisel to take out the spot welds from above or underneath.

I'm leaving a inch lip at the rear of the car as I'll spend the time grinding to uncover the spot welds for the back half due to it still being solid as a rock. It appears my gas tank braces are covered with surface rust, but they seem solid when hit was a ice pick. I used a wire knot wheel on the pass side to see how it looked, and I believe they may be saved. The body mount braces are both trashed so those got added to the shopping list. I won't add the side caps to the floor at this time as I'll save those for when I get new quarters installed as those are definitely beyond least for now. :smoke:

Once I have the new trunk floor in, I'll work on the inner wheel wells since it appears they are the only wells that will need replaced.

Here is the boss checking out my progress. She gave me 10 weeks to get the LQ9 conversion done, and she's not relenting even with the newly discovered rust.....

She's been a great side kick handing me tools and cleaning the garage, but she has strict requirements that all the "dirty" stuff is my job alone!! She's looking forward to taking it to shows and autocross events so I'm leaning on her for motivation.

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I got a lot done this weekend as I was able to spend the majority of both Saturday and Sunday in the garage. I got the body separated from the frame.

I also got the 12 bolt pulled this weekend which was the last step to getting the frame completely stripped.

The rear needs a lot of cleaning to be ready for paint and install of the new Moser axles and C6 brakes. I'll most likely set it aside for now and work on the frame as the front suspension is all new so nothing is needed for install except for the frame to be cleaned and painted.

I forgot to take pics this weekend, but I got my goodies in from SC&C, NPD, and my billet hubs from Kore3. I'll get pics this week and upload for everyone's entertainment.

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This weekend I planned to finish the frame no matter what!! This will be my last chance to work on it for the next few weeks as I've got to work on my "Honey-do" list for the house (it was the deal!!). Therefore, last weekend and yesterday was spent finishing up the grinding and sanding on the frame in preparation for paint. The wife even volunteered to help me paint so as to get it done by my deadline!!:cheers:

Here is where I started yesterday morning after my work last weekend; the frame again in the driveway awaiting my attack!!

To give everyone an idea of how far I've come, here is a shot from the back before I got started. There is a lot of surface rust and grease/oil/grime, you name it!!

This is what it looked like when I got finished cleaning it, though I had to go back and work on that crossmember above the axle a little more. It was pretty much 45 years of grease and oil...

Once the cleaning was done, I used the Marine Clean to get all the contaminants off the frame before painting. I ended up cleaning it three times with the "MC" before I was satisfied that it was clean enough. I definitely don't want to have to do this again. Once that step was complete, I hit it with Metal Ready to get the Zinc-PO4 coating on the frame to help the paint adhere. Here is a couple of before paint pics.



I called the wife, and true to her word, we started painting the frame. She worked on the inner frame rails while I painted the exterior and crossmembers. The wife is a great painter and only got a couple of drops on one arm, while I killed a shirt and a pair of shorts during this step. It's safe to say my hands will have a darker "tan" than normal for about a week. LOL

Finally, here is the finished frame.


Wide Angle:

I've still got to clean and paint the rear axle and front lower arms so I'll touch up the frame under the jack stands at the same time. I'm definitely glad to have this task behind me. I'm really looking forward to assembling the painted frame with new chassis parts. I can't wait!!!

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After two weeks of "honey-do" lists for the wife and attending RTMC as a spectator, I wanted to make the most of my one day on the car.

I started on front end with the intention of getting the entire front suspension installed. I ran into a few hiccups along the way that I'll point out as I go.

First up was getting the SC&C Stage 2 kit installed with the SPC springs. I've got Varishocks DA for the front suspension, but without an engine there was no way for me to install the shocks inside the springs. I want to finish this build so nothing risky is worth it so I used an internal spring compressor to get the springs in. Once the engine/trans/body is install, I'll pull the front back apart to install the shocks since it will be easier to do with weight up front.

Here is the right front with the Kore3 hubs installed:

Here is another shot of the hubs, those are a work of art and very light!!

Once the right side was done, I switched over to the left since I had the arms install fresh in my mind. I also wanted to get the "art" of fighting the lower bushings into their pockets behind me.

After the arms and spindles were on, it was time to install the Kore3 brackets for the C6 calipers. The instructions were clear so this was a non-event.

Here is the completed left side:

With the tire/wheel installed:

Moving to the right side, rotor and caliper installed:

Finally the tire/wheel on the right side:

Once the tires where on, it was time to start bolting in the front end components I got from NAPA. The steering box is a fast ratio box from a 98 JGC, and the pitman arm from my original manual box won't fit. I'll have to take some measurements to verify, but I'll need to hit the yards or ebay looking for a p/s pitman arm to bolt on. The rest of the parts went on fuss-free, and those with critical eyes will pick out the Hellwig hollow front bar in the mix:

Here's a token shot of the Hotchkis sleeves. Much prettier and easier to work with than the stock sleeves. I'm also very impressed with the Hellwig bar as it was lighter than I expected. The Hammertone finish looks good with the black frame/arms and the cast iron finished suspension parts:

Finally, here is a final shot of the right front to help visualize the wheels;

Now that the front is done, I'll start on the rear axle when I get back on the car in two weeks. The axle will need to be cleaned and painted before install, but I'll finally be able to get the axles out of the box that Moser sent me.

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Well, I was able to get back on the Chevelle this weekend after a two month hiatus. I tried to make the most of my "off weekend" from the "honey-do" list.

I set a goal for the frame to be a roller by the end of the weekend....

I started off getting the rear in a workable location. I got the old axles pulled and the backing plates removed so I could start cleaning it up for paint.

Fast forward past several hours with a wire wheel and sandpaper, and you end up with the axle looking much better with 2 coats of paint and new bushings.

In between coats of paint, I worked on installing the Currie upper and lower control arms along with support braces. I got the lower control arms from Tom (tommycomfort, Thanks!!) so I know they are experienced racing pieces!! The support braces are Umi.

Once the paint was dry it was time to get back on the axle. It was getting late in the afternoon and looking like rain was coming so I got out some boxes with new parts and started assembling.

I started by installing the Kore3 brackets for the rear C6 brakes. The instructions are fantastic so this part goes quickly.

I got Moser axles with the dual bolt pattern like the front. Extremely nice pieces!!

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The C-clips went in easily, and the pin was a non-event. I'm starting to get worried as it seems everything is going together too well. Doubts aside, I started installing the rotors followed by the abutments and calipers. This C6 stuff is nice, and I like the OEM durability.

Left Side Done

Right Side Done

Here a shot of the right side completed with wheel. I really like the BBS's for their simple, elegant design and the fact that they aren't seen very often on PT cars.

Once both wheels were on, it was time to drop the axle off the jacks and make a roller out of it.

I had one more piece to add, but I need the axle installed first. Thanks again to Tom for the quick help when I got stumped on the install. It's great having friends to text with pics when needed!!!

Once the bar was in, I had a great feeling. I still need to add the clamps on either side of the sway bar, but I'll need to move the C-hangers slightly inboard to get them to fit right. The picture makes the bar look off center, and I ran outside thinking I had screwed up. I figured this was payback for everything else going smooth. Even so, I've measured that thing half a dozen times, and it's dead on center though it still gives me fits visually. LOL

The sway bar was the last piece, and I now have a frame as a roller. That was indeed a good feeling.

Well, the weekend is over. I'll be back on house upgrades next week, but walking through the garage will be so much sweeter now. I need to get another Mast pan ordered so I'll do that shortly, but I really need to work under the body scraping undercoating until the pan arrives. Not only that, I need to figure out what I'm going to do with the firewall. The AC setup is sold so I need to fab a panel or buy a premade to smooth it off.

So many things left, but I'll feeling really good right now!!

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