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66 - Shakie

37707 Views 203 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  Austin_Jim

I just joined and am cobbling this thread together to share here from threads I posted in other forums. I got the car roughly a year ago and am building in stages. Basically, I drove the car a little bit as I bought it. Then I did power steering and drove it. Then brakes and suspension and drove it. Recently, I started serpentine belt and will drive it. Then the rest. Below are my posts to other threads.
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Hi all,

Just joined. Thought I share my build so far. Here is what I started with:

- 66 Chevelle
- Non-SS, but the previous owner made it a clone
- A "10 footer" - looks good from a ways, but up close you start to see the flaws
- Didn't want a perfect car as I will be building it with my son and enjoying modifications
- 355 SBC
- 700R4
- Drums
- WAS manual sterring. Just added power steering with Quick Ratio Jeep Cherokee gear box
- 10 bolt rear
- OK interior. Carpet, door panels and headliner are OK, but bucket seats are out of a Ford Edge and are hideous
- Body is alright, but has a few issues (covered by recent paint)
- Suspension is lowered, but all bushings, etc are JACKED

- Steering - check
- Brakes - Baer (almost complete)
- Suspension - RideTech airbags (almost complete)
- LS (not too crazy, probably just an LS3 to start)
- 6 speed manual

In the beginning:

Mod pile from early December:

Stock suspension removal and beginning of front suspension:
Stock suspension and drum:

Coming out:

Stock suspension out:

What the steering arm was caked with on the back of the stock spindle:

Steering arms after clean up:
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Started bending brake lines with a different route due to the header. Still doesn't conflict with upper arm, but I'll still probably redo as it's in a precarious spot:

Brake line across crossmember:

New parts!!!

Had to cut the spring pocket on frame to make way for the bags (I cleaned them up after test fitting, but forgot to take pictures):

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Back together to spindle and caliper bracket:

Brakes and starting rear suspension:
Finished the front end except brake lines:
Blue looks lighter than it is

And started on the rear.
Grinded frame and suspension mounting points and sprayed metal prep:


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Stock rear control arms:

New airbag mount (Attached to rear end):

After removing the rear upper control arms, I found the bushings that are in the rear end for the upper rear control arms were toast. Needed to remove them. Watched a couple videos...tried...failed. Luckily I have a lot of air tools. Here is the aftermath:

Got the rear end bushings done, which allowed me to complete the rear upper control arms. My stainless rear brake lines came, so I was able to get those in as well. I went stainless for the rears for a couple reasons. 1 - who doesn't like stainless? 2 - Because I can order the pre-bents ones for the rear. Since I am changing the master cylinder and adding proportioning valve, no one really makes a Wilwood - stock location lines so I have to bend my own. Since I've never done that before, I figured I'd do the fronts with regular brake lines to get the hang of it and go back with stainless later as I hear it's harder to bend and flare. Also ran the air lines for the bags. And some more rust-proofing and undercoating. So the suspension is all done except mounting the tank, compressors, ECU, controller, and doing the wiring. That is a lot like audio work I used to do for a living, so I'm not concerned about that at all. And the brakes are finished except bleeding. I am concerned about that as I've never made brake lines before and I am sure 90% of them will leak. :p Pictures:

Master cylinder and lines. I'm not too happy about the middle line, so I'll probably change the routing when I go stainless:

More of the lines:

Line across cross-member:

Stainless rear brake lines (front to rear and across rear end to each brake):

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The "ONLY" stuff left...LOL:

More updates to come as I complete stuff. Will probably be a week before I get back to working on anything.
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Next update:
So I have mixed feelings about how the progress is going. We'll start with the update.

Got the compressors, tank, and stuff test-mounted and installed:

Got RideTech wired and calibrated. Is this too low? :D

Can't see, but the header actually sits on the ground. Had to change settings a little bit to have the parking height up a little bit

So I know this all sounds good. And I am SUPER happy about that part. Here's my bigger problem. I got to bench bleeding the Wilwood master cylinder. Their install instructions are poor. So after bench bleeding, I had to take it out of the vice and move it to the car and plumb it...all while brake fluid was leaking from the cylinder. Now this doesn't just mean bolting it to the firewall. That means plumbing it to the proportioning valve. Not a big deal, but fluid was going everywhere. I did that, but also leave it a little loose so I could attach the plunger to the brake pedal. Doing that requires move the plunger and actuating the master cylinder. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except for this:

Notice something wrong with the flare? Bad flare which leaked BAD while I was getting the master cylinder in place. GRRR...I paid extra to get stainless lines. I was concerned with the brake lines I made and flared would leak, but as it turns out, those aren't the ones that leaked...the ones I bought from OPGI did.

So I called OPGI. The guy was cool after I sent a picture and said he would send a replacement. He called a little after and said he checked their other one and it had the same problem. Although I was pissed, I think it's cool that he checked before sending me bad lines again. But that was their last set of stainless, so he's refunding the difference and sending me normal ones. He checked those and their fine. What I am most frustrated about is that I could've driven the car this weekend, but now I have to wait for the new line. Guess I should've made ALL my own lines.

Sorry that the pictures aren't great...I couldn't move it out of the garage to take good shots at ride height, parked height and max. And I can't give an opinion of useability of the RideTech Level II airbag suspension yet. I need to fully test.

More updates hopefully soon.
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Next one:

Finally got the Chevelle running (well, more importantly stopping) under it's own power. I've had it done for a while, but the weather hasn't been good to take her out, or I've been traveling. At any rate, here's a minor update. Got the new brake line for the rear installed, bled the brakes and did some other minor stuff. Took it out today and cleaned her off here's some pics.

Low as she'll go:

Next up is the interior. I have Corbeau seats, RideTech Tiger Cage, new carpet, American Autowire, Guard Dawg keyless ignition, Dynamat, AutoMeter Carbon Fiber guagues and 5pt harnesses. Just need to order dash panel from ABC Performance, Steering column (any suggestions?), door cards and headliner. Then striup it all, have the interior painted and start adding parts. Hopefully start all that next month.

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Small update today. Been driving the car here and there as I was hoping to before major sections of the build. A small issue came up a couple times with the airbag setup. I am relying on the pressure in each bag and the ECU from Ridetech to determine ride height and the height at start-up and predetermined settings (lowest parking height, ride-height and highest height). Unfortunately, the ride height at startup seems to vary...the amount of pressure in each bag is getting to the right psi, but the actual height of the car was different sometimes. Kinda weird, but I can kinda understand it. So I ordered a set of Ridetech's height sensors, which are mechanical sensors that provide a voltage reading to the ECU depending on what the sensor is reading. Those will go on next.

In the mean time, I've been working on the undercarriage a bit. Now keep in mind that this is and will not be a trailer queen, super show car. I am building a nice car that handles, stops, accelerates well that looks good, but I won't be afraid to run on something like the HotRod Power Tour. I don't want to have to worry about a rock bouncing up and scratching the undercarriage, etc. So with that, I'm just kind grinding down most of the surface rust on the bottom, cleaning it up, spraying rust-reformer and then rubberized undercoating.


After rust-reformer, but before rubberized undercoating:
Still need another coat to get everything covered

Looks like I have some holes to weld up and then also fill the holes for the seats that the previous owner put in.

Getting there

More pictures after the rubberized undercoating on...
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Finally got some pictures uploaded after undercoating.

Underside looking much better:

Added the ride height sensors. Still need to re-calibrate, but so far it's working well.

Finally, working with ABC Performance to build a new dash. I sent my specs and some details. He sent me a picture of one he had done before. I modified it and sent what I needed changed. You can see my changes by looking at the horrible photoshop'd stuff. I moved the starter button to the gauge panel under the water temp gauge. Putting (8) switches to the right of the steering column. Building out the section for the Vintage Air control panel. Using the same vents for air as in the picture. I am using the exact same gauges (coincidence). Adding one more LED between speedo and tach for check engine light when I put LS in. Then adding vents for air above the radio.

Super excited to get the dash back so I can have the interior painted and put the roll cage, gauges, carpet seats and new wiring in.
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And now we're up to speed. I currently have a March serpentine kit installed, but ordered the wrong electric fans. Once I get that buttoned up, I'll get more pics posted.
Nice looking car. Looks like a lot of fun. Keep the updates rolling.
Thank you sir. Will update as often as I can. :thumbsup:

I don't know about the 10 footer statement, the car looks pretty damn good to me Jim!! I look forward to your updates and I think it's great you are building it with your son:beers:

Thank you Mike. I've read through your build thread as well. TREMENDOUS car. :hurray:
Car looks nice!

Those are the same brakes I am considering along with the smaller (SS4) 4 pistons in the rear. How do you like them and what master cylinder are you running?
So far, the brakes are great. I still need to work on adjusting the proportioning valve as I am still running drums in the back. I won't change the rear brakes until I move to an LS as I'll have to change the rear end at that point.

I am running a Wilwood master cylinder with their proportioning valve and no booster.

I'm re-fabricating the left side of a dash similar to your design but haven't come with a good design for the right side.

What are your right side plans?
The right side will be mostly stock. I'll be putting a leather-covered piece on the section above the glove box. I am having ABC Performance actually make the dash. They have been amazing to work with and are accommodating the customizations I asked for perfectly. You can check them out here - dashboards.html
Tony G is a helpful guy and he has some very nice products. I have used a lot of ABC pieces so far with my build and I have no complaints.

Yes, Tony and his son have been tremendously helpful. I kinda wish I would've gone with their tubs and frame modifications for a larger tire, but when I did the body bushings, I was just getting into welding and wasn't confident enough to do those mods. Maybe on the next one when I'm more experienced at welding.

Update time. Quite a bit has happened. If you read before, you will know that my plan is to do this car in stages. Do one area, another, drive...etc.

Well I was getting a noise in my H20 pump and I am not quite ready to move to LS until the winter, so I went out and got a serpentine kit for the 350. BEAUTIFUL. Put that on and drove around a bit waiting for the dash to come in so I could take it all to the painter to paint the inside. The interior is next on the list. Paint, seats, complete wiring, RideTech Tiger Cage, steering column, etc.

As I was driving around, I noticed low oil pressure once it got warm, but mostly when I was on the brakes. First thing that popped into my head...bad main bearings. Oh crap. Time to move up the time table on the LS. However, I figured I would pull the oil pan just to see if something happened I could fix. 'Cause when I put in the LS, then I'm doing the 6sp, then I gotta do the rear end, and the snowball effect happens. So my nephew was down this week and he's a gearhead, so we decided to pull the motor to get the oil pan out. The pick-up was sitting in the bottom of the pan. It fell out of the pump.

So we welded it to the pump and put everything back on with one of those fancy Fel-Pro one piece gaskets. Pretty nice item. While we were there, we swapped the headers for mid-length instead of long tube which hung down too low (when the Air Ride was all the way down, it actually sat on the headers). Also swapped the transmission mount. The old one was TRASHED. All that got done (2 hours to pull the motor, 1 hour to clean and put on new gasket (we took a few breaks), 2 hours to get motor back in).

So we go to fire the motor after re-adjusting the timing. It fired right up and sounded wicked with straight headers/no exhaust. However, we noticed oil pooling at the front. Another OH CRAP moment. And a "I am a dumbass" moment. Apparently, there are two types of the Fel-Pro gasket. One with a thicker front area and one with a thinner. We got the thinner one...and needed the thicker one. SO we spent the whole day pulling and putting the motor back in, only to be defeated by a gasket that was too thin RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR FACES. Not sure what to do.

Eventually an LS will go in and I don't expect to drive the car more than 500 miles before I do that. So do I:

1. Pull the motor (AGAIN), get the right gasket, and re-install

2. Clean the crap out of the front seal, get "The Right Stuff" and cake the crap out of it to get seal

3. Say f'it and start with the LS

March serpentine kit and new Derale fans:

Power Steering reservoir:

New Dash from ABC Performance:

Motor hanging out:

Dang shame we got it this far out, back in...only to be defeated:

What to do...?
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If you don't have everything for your LS swap yet, I would definitely spend an afternoon and pull the motor again and change the pan gasket. Enjoy the car as much as possible until you are ready and have all the parts for your LS swap.

I'm in the middle of a nut and bolt build and the most enjoyment I get out of my car lately is imagining what it will look like "someday". I live vicariously through some of my buddies on here and I have to say it sucks:)

I've been watching your build. You do AMAZING work. Please keep posting...I am learning from your thread. And thanks for the advise.
Pulled the motor this weekend and put the right oil pan gasket in. Also found another bonehead move. When we welded the oil pickup to the pump, we welded it at an angle too low. I know, I know - stupid of us to not measure the distance between pickup and bottom of the oil pan. As it turns out, when the front gasket was too thin, the "Right Stuff" on the front would've temporarily fixed the issue. BUT, with the pickup too low, it was hitting the pan, not allowing the rear to seal. So I ground down the welds, pulled the pickup, cleaned it and re-welded it at a better angle (don't laugh at my welds).

Round two (getting faster at removal):

Re-welded (don't make fun of the welds :)):

Back in:

Added fluids and nothing leaks so far. Traveling this week. Should be able to start it this weekend and report back as to whether or not I can drive it to the exhaust shop to marry the new shorty headers to the exhaust and then to the painters to paint the interior.

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Thanks Mike!!

Small update. So far, so good. I had a small leak and I started freaking out, until I realized that I didn't tighten up the oil filter enough. I was having a hell of a time yesterday getting it started until I realized I installed the distributor slightly off. Once I nailed that down, she fired right up. But it is LOUD with straight headers and no exhaust. Next step is to test drive it close around my house, then get it to the exhaust shop to connect the new shorty headers to the current exhaust. Then off to the painters. A couple pictures of it out of the garage and LOW. I can now drop the front lower as the short headers offer WAY more clearance than the long tube.

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As the saying goes, "There are welders, and there are grinders." Well, I am definitely the latter. Hell, I'm not sure I'd call me's offensive to both 'welders' and 'grinders'...and any metal worker...and anyone who has even seen a welder. I haven't touched a welder in probably 20 years, but I figured I'd give it a whirl. Now mind you, I would never try my hand at a quarter panel or something visible or that I wanted to look nice. But the previous owner of my 66 had put in these hideous seats and put holes all over the floor trying to get them in. Since I'm changing the seats, I figured I'd plug the holes before grinding the floor, coating it and laying down some Dynamat. The welds don't need to be pretty since they'll be covered and they aren't anything structural.

Here is what I started with:

Don't mind the floor seam. It's another from the previous owner that I'll have to attempt to clean up and seam-seal.

First, I tried just adding material with the welder, then grind it down. Here how it started:

And how those ended up:

That was taking too long - weld, grind, weld, grind, etc. So I decided to do a couple by just cutting out a small piece of metal and stitching that in. It went WAY faster, but I don't think it looks as good. But I'm not too concerned about that. This is a driver and it'll be under everything:

Hoping to get the rest of the floor done this week so I can get the car to the painters for this inside paint. My pile of parts (seats, wiring, steering column, TigerCage, carpet is starting to get bored sitting in the garage instead of the car. :)
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