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Author Topic: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build  (Read 18511 times)

ZEFF

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ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« on: January 07, 2013, 04:31:01 AM »
I was hesitant to start this thread but was encouraged by some of the wonderful TAC'ers (thank you!)  I figure there has been lots of '71 build threads- what else do I have to offer?   Well. I suppose I'll let you decide.  Here's what I can offer- I'm a schlub.  I have no special skills, talents, benefits, tools, no great shop and not lots of money.   About a year ago I decided I was going to learn.  So if I can- you can!  I did it in a rather short amount of time so I may be able to offer advice- where a seasoned professional may have forgotten how to talk to a layperson.  What I have are standards.  I have the ability to see, and the drive to be demanding.  When it comes to something like bodywork I see it like this: I can absolutely get pro results.  The difference is the amount of time it takes me.  A pro has the experience, knows the tricks.  I have to make mistakes, go slow- and maybe do it two or three times- but if I remain focussed and insist on quality, my result can be great.

A little more than a year ago I got the itch for a new project.  I have had a few gen 1 cars and loved them- so I wanted another.  I decided I wanted to do bodywork (for the first time) so I got a gen 4 car to learn on.  it turned out great!  http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=54280.0   So, I went hunting for my "real" build and finally found a '68 converible a few hundred miles away.  The catch was: it came with a 1971 firebird, a trailer and a bunch of parts.   The parts ended up being a GOLDMINE (think- one of the most valuable pontiac parts in existance!) and actually paid for the whole deal AND financed the start of my build!  The '68 was TOO big of a project- so I became interested in the '71.   Difficult for me- as I had never dealt with a second gen.  But it became more and more exciting.  So I dove in...



















1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2013, 04:55:08 AM »
Wow- I guess this is the tough part- remembering where I started and what I was thinking 6 months ago.   So, looking over the car I noticed many things.  The car had basically been sitting since 1988.  The body looked pretty decent- no real rust (Arizona) except for in the rear quarter of the driver side and maybe a spot along the rear window.  I was real happy with the panel alignment and gaps.  there was a pretty nasty dent in the front fender.  The valance looked trashed, hood hinges were shot.  It was a vinyl top car and that would DEFINITELY be changing- so the top will need attention.  It looked fairly complete.  The interior had been RAVAGED by the sun and was trashed but mostly complete.  *This is where I learned that 'complete' doesnt help me so much when everything has to be replaced anyhow!  The engine looked dusty but for some reason I was really optimistic about it.  It wasnt grungy or oily or nasty- just dirty... hmm....  I bet it would star without too much help...  but first things first.  I had the car parked on the property of some family but the goal was to move it to my mechanic friends house a few miles away.  The brakes were frozen up on a wheel so it wouldn't roll.  So first job was replace all the brakes, brake lines, master cylinder and power booster.  No real biggie.  Did some cleaning underneath while I was at it.  I cleaned out the interior best I could and realized-  I may be in over my head!  This was no gen 1 and I didn't recognize anything!  (shortly after, I joined TAC :) )  Pulled off the valance as it was just held on by wire.  Planning ahead for the future mechanical work- I added Marvel Mystery Oil to everywhere in the engine I could.  Spent alot of time walking around the car- walking... thinking...  planning.  I then rolled it down to my buddy's house to tear into it.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

77Bullet

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2013, 06:24:06 AM »
Gonna keep an eye on this thread...continue please.

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2013, 06:34:03 AM »
Getting the car to my buddie's house, I tore into some minor disassembly- and found the RUST!   Some rot in both rear quarters and the trunk.  The small hole in the window channel (big surprise) turned out to be major rot.  After pulling the rear window , I found:  in the past the rear window had been blown and someone installed the new one with a chunk of the old left in the top passenger corner.  It didnt seal right so water got in, rotted the window channel, ran into the cab and rotted the package tray and rear seat frame and floor, ran into the trunk and rotted the trunk filler, the hinge area and the trunk pan. *SIGH*   I guess welding is in my future-  so I order a welder and got to practicing!

Trunk first- I dropped the fuel tank (since I wanted to clean it out and replace the fuel lines anyhow) cut out the old and welded in the new.  My first welding experience...  I used way too much argon and had messy, messy welds.  Just means lots of grinding... which turned into too much grinding and then re-welding.  Learning!  It also gave me a chance to clean some under the car.






I know some of you "east coast"ers  will laugh at my silly rust- but here it is:





I cleaned the areas up with a wire brush and Eastwood's "PRE" cleaning spray.  The green you see is their zinc based 'internal frame coating'.   This area under the rear window i didnt weld.   Instead I used the POR15 Floor Pan kit that comes with fiberglass and POR15 Rust encap.
...cant find a pic...

the rest of the window channel was welded traditionally:







passenger quarter:







...the driver's side was worse with rot in the drop off panel.  I opted to clean the drop off, treat it with por15, fix the weak spots (swiss) with the por15 floor pan kit, and then weld on the quarter patch.







« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 06:37:01 AM by ZEFF »
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2013, 07:29:47 AM »
Nice work!

personally, I'm up for another 71 thread!  :cool: :cool: :cool:
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


richduty455

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2013, 07:54:58 AM »
(think- one of the most valuable pontiac parts in existance!)

what was it?
Our Current Birds:
70 Ram Air III auto
71 455 HO T/A auto white (pop's 1st car)
71 455 HO t/a auto blue (pop's)
71 formula 455 HO auto (little bros)
73 SD 455 auto
74 SD 455 auto (pop's)
77 T/A
78 Y88 ws6, w72 4speed 79k
79 TATA 400 4spd 38k orig (pop's)
79 trans am 350
80 y84 455HO doug nash 5 spd
80 T/A 400 pont auto
84 L69 auto areo T/A
94 firebird 3.4 t-top daily
97 WS6 lt1 au

dlocke

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2013, 11:04:07 AM »
Hood & complete RA-4 assy.????
DJL

ryeguy2006a

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 11:43:23 AM »
(think- one of the most valuable pontiac parts in existance!)

what was it?
That is what I was wondering too? My first thought were RA V Heads.

Great project by the way. Nice foundation to start with.

1976 Trans Am LS1, 6 speed, C5 Brakes, LS1 rear 12" brakes, and much more...SOLD
My Build: http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=24465.0

New project: 1968 Camaro LS6, T56, Speedtech, Hotchkis, DSE, Z51 13.4" front brakes, LS1 rear disks, etc.
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=74591.0

richduty455

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2013, 11:59:49 AM »
That is what I was wondering too? My first thought were RA V Heads.

i guess they're somewhat valuable....although everytime I go into our house garage to get something out of the freezer I see a used and nos set of those darm'd things
Our Current Birds:
70 Ram Air III auto
71 455 HO T/A auto white (pop's 1st car)
71 455 HO t/a auto blue (pop's)
71 formula 455 HO auto (little bros)
73 SD 455 auto
74 SD 455 auto (pop's)
77 T/A
78 Y88 ws6, w72 4speed 79k
79 TATA 400 4spd 38k orig (pop's)
79 trans am 350
80 y84 455HO doug nash 5 spd
80 T/A 400 pont auto
84 L69 auto areo T/A
94 firebird 3.4 t-top daily
97 WS6 lt1 au

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2013, 04:17:04 PM »
(think- one of the most valuable pontiac parts in existance!)

what was it?
That is what I was wondering too? My first thought were RA V Heads.

Great project by the way. Nice foundation to start with.

Close.   This is the one thing i have been apprehensive to discuss.  I want to use real numbers during my build thread as i have gotten some great deals on parts and want others to know that there are good buys out there if you are patient.  i have not yet disclosed the details of my find- but here it is:    the previous owner was planning a drag car build- back in the mid 70's mind you.  he gathered alot of over the counter performance parts.  it turns out that alot of these parts were also sourced by carrol shelby back in the day- so they ended up being very sought after as original for cobras.  I got really great money selling guage packages, suspension parts and even a high dollar fuel pump.  There was also a nearly perfect set of '68 GTO buckets and a set of vintage drag wheels.  The real shock came when i opened a particularly heavy box to find:  a set of heads.  They were in EXCELLENT shape and were original- couldn't have been run much.   turning them over i noticed- round ports.  my pulse quickened and i ran to check numbers... i had to recheck 6 or 7 times because i couldn't believe my eyes.  1969 RAM AIR IV.  I have been a collector of pop culture and comic books most my life and have always dreamed of a find like this.  now is my turn.  this is the first time i have told this story.  some time in the future i will probably start a thread about "jackpot finds"  and tell this story publicly.  for now it will remain buried in my build thread.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2013, 04:17:04 PM »

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2013, 04:42:38 PM »
*So, by this point in the build I was getting anxious to hear the engine run.  I pulled the spark plugs to oil it up and saw clean plugs.  The engine turned by hand- all signs good!   While the fuel tank was out I cleaned it and painted it with 'tank tone', replaced the sending unit and lines, and focussed on the carb.   It was a 2 bbl! hehehe.  That means a new intake (Edelbrock alum) for a 4 bbl and whatever carb i had sitting around (soon to be a Demon).  Had the radiator flushed and picked up a repro shroud.  Replaced hoses and belts.  New valve covers and air cleaner.   Went to fire it up.... NO PROBLEM!   It cranked right up and came to life- NO smoke, NO stink!!!  I can't believe it!  runs fantastic.  I have yet to put a bunch of miles on it, but I am impressed!



1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

Waygonner

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2013, 12:02:25 AM »
Thanks for starting the thread...interesting stuff!

You mentioned using an Eastwood product earlier. I was looking at their single stage urethane paint and wondering what the quality of it is. Do you have much experience with their stuff?
'78 TA 400 Auto Flat Black Trans Am

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2013, 03:03:04 PM »
i'm a big fan of eastwood products, but i only do everything UP TO paint.   I have no experience with it. sorry.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

roadking77

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2013, 07:04:25 PM »
Neat story and sounds like a great find. A friend of mine in the antique business says there is one major find if you look long enough. I believe you found yours, congrats. Looking forward to your build. btw, I have used alot of Eastwood products and am very happy with them.
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2013, 01:55:47 AM »
Glad it runs well, thats a huge +  :cool:
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2013, 01:55:47 AM »


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mrbandit

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2013, 07:02:10 AM »
That does sound like a great find and I know you are beside yourself with all of those rare items.
1979 Firebird v6 3spd manual (they do exist)

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 04:59:48 AM »
* At this point in the build  I needed to make some decisions- I know it seems like a weird time, but thats how it came down.  What is my plan with this car?. ..   I decided to keep the dark blue interior as I am tired of doing black.  I dont like the blue on blue- so the 'lucy' goes.  I figure i will go white -possibly with a blue stripe to tie it together.  I want to keep the formula hood but add a spoiler to the rear.  My children insisted on me leaving the wheel spoilers off, as they feel some kind of ownership here.  :lol: I like TA fenders and i have no loyalty to the 1 yr only 71 fenders- so, that goes on the list.  I hate vinyl tops- so that is going.  I will clean it up- but not go 'frame off'.  I dont plan on rebuilding the engine until it needs it.  So- thats the plan-  i want a perfect body, like new interior, solid drivetrain- and when the need arises i will restore that.   Now for a shopping list.  I found a guy locally who sold me 2 PERFECT trans am fenders for $100 each and threw a spoiler in for another $50.  The front bumper is pretty bad- after researching all about the endura i decided to go fiberglass.  I figure it will clean up and paint more reliably.  Found a nice one for about $125.   Pretty much ALL of the enterior needs replaced- so an order goes off to Year One.  Found a BEAUTIFUL Camaro console for about $60 (i'll make it work!).  The dash was REAL bad- I decided to go with a dash 'cap'.  Mine was SO bad that i had to get a donor just for the cap!  that ran about $40.

wearing 1 new  fender-



Since I'm going to be doing everything at the same time, with no garage, i also need  a plan of how to progress- this is where it got REALLY hard!  I needed to clean out the interior and start restoring it, while finishing rust repair, hanging body panels and getting the car driveable all at the same time.  I know the best way is to finish all of the mechanical- then body and paint- and finally interior.  Again- with no garage that is tough.  I figure i will get the car into nice interior first- and then i can work on the body while im using it for a 'sometimes driver'.

I wanted to get the car back to my house to do the bulk of the interior- so this is where the order gets tough.  I need front and back windshields to drive it home- but,  I want to get a headliner in it while the windshields are out.  The plan becomes: Gut the interior- fix any rust- coat the whole thing with POR15, clean the inside roof, install sound deadening in it- install the headliner, paint the dash, get windows in it, get some wheels, then throw a bucket back in and drive it home.

Gutted interior- and a new steering wheel! :)





New headliner and windshield-



My first headliner and it came out great!  My one big regret is that i didnt 'foil tape seal' between the patches of sound deadener under the headliner.  This may come back to bite me in the booty...  there is already one little spot where the black rubber has dripped down onto the headliner and is showing through the little holes...

skipping ahead a little in this pic- but:  the car with new wheels now at home and ready for some work!

 

1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2013, 04:47:10 AM »
* Sorry if this thread is running by quickly.  It's a little tough recounting this in hindsight- soon, I will be caught up to real time.  I'm happy to answer any questions along the way.

So, now I find myself in an odd spot.  I have the car at home with new windshields and a new headliner, but otherwise gutted.  I spent ALOT of time walking around the car, looking... thinking.... trying to find a path for action (thanks alot OCD!).    The path I decided on is very unorthodox.  I wanted to work on the interior AND strip the body down at the same time.  If I was going to put all of these new interior components in, I wanted to be sure it would be safe from the elements.  That means weatherstripping- a touch usually saved for last.  But if I was going to put in weatherstrip I would need to remove the drip rails and trim, clean the old stripping out, prep the jams and edges and primer.  That is where I started.  Pulling all the trim and stripping and cleaning.  Then, epoxy primer on all edges, replaced all trim and install new weatherstrip.  I then finished cleaning the floors and coated them with POR15.  I picked up some "Thermocoustic" sheets from Eastwood for sound and heat.  Some people prefer to use smaller pads of the sound deadening in strategic places- that is fine, but I decided to go overboard since I live in the desert and needed extrem heat protection as well.  I completely covered the floor and up the firewall, the trunk divider and package tray, and went extra heavy on the wheel wells.  Then installed new carpet.  I also put some thermocoustic pads inside the door shells (against the in side of the outer skin) as well as covering the inner door behind the door panels.  I used about 3 boxes and they constantly have sales on it- sometimes with free shipping.





I then went ahead and turned my attention to an item that had been troubling me- the roof.  It had some problems from it's former life as a vinyl top and was showing surface rust among the leftover adhesive.  WOW!   what a chore cleaning that all up!  I also began stripping down the entire body to bare metal.  I know I probably should have considered blasting, but I sorta like doing it by hand- watching the layers go away, telling you the story of EVERYTHING that has happened to it.  Each section was put in epoxy as it was stripped.



Simultaneously to the body stripping, I began work on some of the interior sub-assemblies.  Starting with the bucket seats.  They were pretty rough and had been covered with some cheezy replacement interior- meaning TWICE the hog rings to cut.  I got them completely tore down and then spent some time cleaning and repainting the seat frames.  I picked up some "zig-zag wire" to replace some broken springs.  I then replaced the foam (with interior springs) and installed new seat covers.  Thanks to PUI's online video tutorials, these came out fantastic!  The last few wrinkles will dissappear once the car has sat in the hot sun for a while.  I also cleaned up the seat tracks and got them moving again, then repainted them and greased the bearings.  Installed new plastic backs and hardware.





I only wish the rear seats had gone so smoothly!  As I tore down the rear seatback, I could see where the leaking back window created some rust issues with the seat frame.  I cleaned it up and treated the rust.  I ran to the store to pick up some new foam (expensive!) and some round stock to weld in to the really bad spots.  As I was getting ready to start welding, I realized I should tear down the seat bottoms also, to make sure they didn't need welding also.  Good thing I did!  The seat bottoms were trashed under the covers.  I realized I needed to find a replacement rear seat.  Most online sales had super high shipping because of the size, so I checked out my old nemesis: craigslist.  I found a guy selling a full set of seats so I ran to check them out.  He had a BEAUTIFUL set of 1981 red Pimilco seats, front and rear.  He wanted $100- DONE DEAL!!  I was thrilled!  I got home and pulled the nearly perfect seat tracks off and sold them on ebay for about $200.  I then gave the buckets to a buddy to use on his project.  It seemed like a shame to tear these covers off of the rears- but it was neccessary.  They looked like they had never been sat on!   I pulled the covers off and checked out the frame- WOW! perfect shiny metal!  A quick spray of paint and they were ready.  I wouldn't even need the seat foam I bought because these molded foam pads were so nice.  So after a short sidetrack due to a rattlesnake hiding under one of the discarded seat covers (  :shock: )  I began the chore of installing new covers- what a chore!  They kinda were fitting goofy, leading me to question- are these rear seats really the same?  Are they interchangeable?   I got the covers to fit in a way that i don't think will show hogrings- but they definitely seem different.  I then installed some newly painted interior trim including rear armrests and sail panels.  Time to fit the rear seats- and...  they ARE different!   The '81 seat is a bit more narrow and allowed the shiny foil of the thermocoustic to show from the sides.  It isnt TOO bad so I used some 3M spray adhisive and layed some trimmed carpet strips behind the seat.  The seat bottoms also fit a little weird- they were super loosey goosey, so i wrapped the bar that latches into the floor with carpet pieces to help it tighten up.  It should be okay as I don't expect to use the rear seat much anyhow.



Here is a shot of one of my donor seats- I just want to point out that there ARE great deals out there if you are patient and willing to JUMP on them when you find them.

1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2013, 06:39:27 AM »
Those seats look pretty good.....the fronts are in amazing condition.
Since you aren't returning to a cordova top, let me know if you want to sell set of molding trims that run around the rear edge of the vinyl top.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2013, 05:34:29 PM »
* The nex "sub-assembly" I tackled was the dash.  My original was SO bad that I decided to get a donor.   I got one cheap even though it was for a newer car and had the radio cut.  I had already pulled the dash and left the ac controls etc. hanging in the car.  I decided to go with a "dash cap".  I am a little worried that here in the desert (read 120 degrees!!!) it might not hold up in the sun.  I guess we'll find out.  I went straight off of Fbodywarehouse instructional videos- they are awesome!!   I took a razorblade and cut down the bigger cracks and splits from the original dash.  The donor was gray.  I painted the cap first (dark blue) and placed it over the hard dash to see where it would not overlap and need painted.



I then painted the dash where I needed to and glued the cap on.  It really went pretty smooth.  I also cleaned up the brake handle ac vents and ashtray.  The chrome vents were a bit worn so I decided to paint them black instead of buy new.  It will match some of my other formerly chrome dash pieces- like, ignition cylinder, turn signal lever and whatever else I come across. :)  While the dash was out I tried to install a center dash speaker.  The one I bought I couldn't make fit so I decided to not bother.   Stock appearance isn't that important to me.  I figure I'll make something work later on.  I also learned ALOT about the AC ductwork in these.  A few of my pieces needed to be repaired and I was missing the common pieces- behind the console and under the steering wheel.  Even though my AC isn't working and may not work for some time, I figured I may as well get it all put together right for the future.

I also got to working on the dash bezel and gauges.  I took the gauges all apart and cleaned them up.  I realized quickly that cleaning the dash faces wipes the printed numbers off, so I got careful real quick.  As bad as they looked, they all cleaned up nice.  I buffed the lens out with some plastic polish and replaced all the bulbs.  The bezel was RAVAGED by the sun (see earlier pics).  It was nice otherwise with no rust so I figured I would re-cover it.  I picked up one of those overlay decals- *BUZZZZ*!!  Big mistake.  Apparently the earlier woodgrain dash bezel has a different form to it.  On the later bezels, you pop out the trim rings and the face is nice and flat and easy to cover.  Not the case on the older ones.  Mine had a bit of shape into the trim rings which made it impossible to overlay.   So, I picked up a nice dash bezel for about $50.  Cleaned up the rust and painted the back.  My chrome trim and top plate was nicer on the original, So I transplanted them.  The woodgrain on the ac controls was also bad- but I just decided to clean them up and paint them black.  I then installed it all and began "the battle of the wiring" to get it hooked up properly.







It all looks really good- I am happy with it.  I still have to find a way to get the glove box door to close and line up right.  If worse comes to worse I will just close it up permanently.   Who needs a glove box?! :)
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2013, 05:34:29 PM »

Jack

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2013, 06:48:15 PM »
Looking real nice. I see you also gave in on the 71 fender vents and went with TA fenders.




Regards, Jack

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2013, 07:20:01 PM »
Looking real nice. I see you also gave in on the 71 fender vents and went with TA fenders.

yeah- i like them better- if i didn't have such a nice formula hood i would go full TA
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2013, 01:15:17 AM »
Nice work...that interior looks awesome!!!!!!!
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2013, 05:23:45 PM »
Nice work...that interior looks awesome!!!!!!!

thanks Leigh!  I know its not all proper and correct- but its coming out nice.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2013, 05:43:41 PM »
*  Next up:  door panels.  Again, an example of my gen 2 ignorance.  Pieces I don't recognize and prices I dont understand  :lol: .    Started by tearing down the door and cleaning inside and out, then cleaning any rust and painting the inner shell.  I had to repair the bottom door stop and replace the felt window guides.  I bought the little adhesive felt replacement pads- but I'm not thrilled with them.  I don't think they'll last.  I got all new door components from yearone.  Fbodywarehouse videos were very helpful with the install process and I picked up some hardware from them.  I decided instead of a water shield behind the panel, I would just completely cover the door with sound deadener sheets.   When my parts arrived, I made a quick discovery that the bottom door armrest panel did NOT match my original.  Nice that the parts catalogs list this as a 70 - 71 lower door panel when it is apparently a Camaro only part!  I decided to use it anyhow and painted it to match my interior.  I didn't have the hardware to connect the lower panel so I just lined them up, made holes with a pick and ran screws and washers from the backside.  I also found that the brackets on the door shell were all wrong for this lower panel.  I eliminated one of the brackets, and moved the other so it would line up with the screws through the armrest area.  The bracket also neened the screw holes elongated to match up.  When mounting the panel I found that it is quite a bit different from other gen 2s and there wasn't alot of info around.  Basically, each door gets 4 of the nylon plugs with metal clips along the top and then screws around the rest of the door.









...the armrest pad is just sitting on the panel in the pic, the color is a little off- i may also try some trimming to be sure it fits tight.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

BAN

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2013, 09:48:21 PM »
Roof looks fantastic for a vinyl top! Looking good!

77 Pro Street, 454 BBC, 8-71 Dyers, back halfed.
77 455, E headed, roller, 10.5:1 475hp/575lbs
71 T-37, 350.

nocturneTA

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2013, 10:49:55 PM »
very impressive work, I like it.   Interior is looking fantastic.    I would have expected a lot of rust under the vinyl top.  keep up the good work.

LS1 / 6SPD /  3.90 gears / C-5 Brake kit   Etc...

Jack

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2013, 10:54:25 PM »
Looking very nice, I really like the dark blue seats and door panel. I would not worry about the extra screws, I did the same thing but since my interior is black I was able to paint the screws before installing (they blend in very nicely).




Regards, Jack

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2013, 11:33:32 PM »
No one repro's the correct lower door panel for our cars....its a pity. Camaro one looks good, though.
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


superdutybob

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 08:12:09 AM »
Looking very nice, I really like the dark blue seats and door panel. I would not worry about the extra screws, I did the same thing but since my interior is black I was able to paint the screws before installing (they blend in very nicely).

Maybe switch over to black phosphate screws so they don't stick out so much!
Having a Super Time!
Bob

Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 08:12:09 AM »

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2013, 05:58:23 PM »
Looking very nice, I really like the dark blue seats and door panel. I would not worry about the extra screws, I did the same thing but since my interior is black I was able to paint the screws before installing (they blend in very nicely).

Maybe switch over to black phosphate screws so they don't stick out so much!

I dont mind the scews showing- i kinda like it.  although black would look nice.  they are the proper screws with the little trim rings on them.  My original problem with them was just determining how to hang the panel on the door because most tutorials go over later doors that use the plastic clips.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2013, 06:22:25 PM »
*  Unfortunately, I dont have alot of pics of the console restoration- although it wasn't very involved.  My original console was a disaster (becoming a common theme here).  I picked up one off of ebay for $60 that was BEAUTIFUL- like perfect!  It had no padded glove box lid but the box itself was okay.  When it arrived I noticed that the top pocket area was different than my original.  Eh- I thought maybe it was from a different year.  Upon closer inspection I found some cracking starting on the plastic in places from the inside.  I took and reinforced it with some plastic strips and epoxy wherever I could.  Noone will see the inside anyhow.  What a shame that such a nice gray console was going to get painted- but it needed to be blue, sooo...   I picked up a new padded door (eh- almost matches color) and rebuilt the inner glove box.  I also picked up a new shifter bezel.  "The Parts Place" seemed to be really well priced for alot of this stuff!  My original shifter cleaned up nice and nothing needed replaced.   I tried to test fit the concole and found out that the brackets that mount under the dash weren't correct.  That's when  I realized that this must be a Camaro part.  I used a dremel to cutt off the bracket that didn't match.  I found that when all bolted down it wouldnt really matter anyhow- it fits pretty tightly under the dash.  The console was, however, standing a little tall off of the floor.  It seems that I had too much epoxy around the mounting lip where the console meets the shifter.  I tried to use a little grinding stone on the dremel to reshape that lip underneath and remove some of the epoxy- and that's when I did it!  OOPS!   One little slip through shifter cutout hole and I bumped the top edge of the console.  AACK!   Here a perfect console with no blemishes or cigarette burns, and I go and goof it up!    Thats exactly what it looked like, a cigarette burn.  I put a drop of E6000 glue on it and let it dry and then touched it up with the blue paint.  It looks pretty good- but I know it's there!  I then monted the console, box and shifter bezel.  It feels like the console still sets high off of the carpet a bit.  Maybe it will settle in.  I dont think I will miss the proper pocket or the seatbelt holders.





  I also installed the shoulder seatbelts- wow are they weird!  It took alot of research to figure these out.  I cleaned the belts really well and then had elastic straps sewed onto  them.  Then they were mounted to the headliner with a new plastic cover, elastic loop wrapped around the front hook (repainted) and then the buckle clipped into the new (ridiculously priced) little plastic clip.  If I was thinking straight I would have just opted to go with lap belts only...

1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2013, 01:11:29 AM »
Nice...car is really going to look great!
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


Jack

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2013, 07:35:49 AM »
I'm really liking the dark and lighter blue contrast also you were lucky enough to find a one year only console with seat belt holder/rest bracket. Looking really nice.




Regards, Jack

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2013, 03:09:25 AM »
***WOW!  What a slacker I am!!  Well, here is some updated info...

First:  a couple of pics (a few months old) of the car all one color.





...not much real body work done at this point (other than the sail/roof join changing over from vinyl top) just getting it into epoxy.

A before and after pic of rebuilding the taillights:





...no real magic here.  the lenses HAD to be replaced.  also gaskets.   The trim was polished up the best it could be and then repainted on the edges.    The compartments were cleaned and repainted.  One of them had some damage at a socket hole.  I patched it with some fiberglass filler and then made a hole template from an undamaged hole.  Then I layed the template on top of the patch and cut a new socket hole.  I'm happy with them.

Picture of the finished trunk:



Boy, does that splatter pain hide the trash, or what?!?!   Certainly not perfect, as this was my first ever attempt at welding (I think it's earlier in this thread).  The trunk started REAL bad and had to be cut out and new metal welded back in.  One interesting thing about the splatter paint- the manufacturer recommends using 2 cans I think, and it's not real cheap.  What I did was paint the trunk with a can of cheap black lacquer paint and then topped it with the splatter- it only took half a can!   I then sprayed it with clear.
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2013, 04:05:02 AM »
**So, I'm pretty much up to real time with my project here.  I recently finished a chore that has been scaring me to death since I found it.   There was a weird gap above the passengers taillight.  The driver side is fine.



At first a friend of mine was trying to convince me that it was just the result of high tolerance of factory variances, but upon further inspection, and once the car was disassembled, I also could see that the 'lip' along the bottom edge of the trunk was also bent higher as it got to the passenger side.   I also found some brass, so I figure it must have been repaired (badly) at some point.







...you can also see a little "step" on the deck lip next to the passenger taillight.   I'm sure there is a better way to repair this, but this was my 'greenhorn', 'don't know any better' fix.  And yes, it was SCARY to do!

I used a cutoff wheel and cut a thin strip of metal out from along that little step and around the taillight.





Then, with the area more flexible, I bent that bottom trunk lip down on the one side and also forced the gap closed that would be above the taillight.  Then welded it back again.





After welding and grinding I always like to hit the are with some Allmetal to fill any little misses.  Here is a pic showing the initial headway made.





...and after some filler:







So. there it is!  A really scary repair accomplished by a layperson!   I'm sure a pro would have some criticism for me- maybe I should have cut the factory spotwelds and adjusted that way- but this was what made sense for me.  Hopefully it will be okay long term.  The little 'step' is gone now and beautiful.  The taillight gap looks proper, and the trunk lip is where it belongs, also allowing the trunk lid to sit down better (although someone adjusted the lid to match the 'old repair', so it will now need adjusted). I think the dingy taillight trim in the picture keeps the gap from looking as good as it is now!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 04:15:07 AM by ZEFF »
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

Jack

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  • 1971 Esprit TA Clone W72 1972 Formula 68 350 HO
Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2013, 05:31:18 AM »
Nice work - it is getting there, I like the trunk and tail lights. Did you re-chrome the bezels?




Regards, Jack

ZEFF

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2013, 05:53:57 AM »
THANKS!  no rechroming needed!  (thankfully)   they were barely pitting just on the inside grove along the black paint line- so I had to sand a bit anyhow for pain adhesion.  that sanding cleaned up the pitting and the paint covered it.   they buffed up okay- certainly not perfect, but I don't know how decent the repros are...
1971 Firebird 350
1968 Firebird 400 4 speed convertible
1967 Firebird 400 4 speed
1994 Formula Ram Air
1994 Dodge Viper

*previously owned*
1967 Firebird 455 convertible
1994 Firehawk

SMFS_Fear_Mii

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2013, 06:36:45 AM »
looks like the restoration is going nicely. for most of us i dont think its the matter of making money off of the project. i think the simple fact of saving the birds life and putting it back out on the road as a nice car again. hope the rest goes well with it 8-)
1979 Trans Am. 403 auto. but at least its numbers matching?
my build thread http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=60987.0

LeighP

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Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2013, 07:02:47 AM »
Very neat...be proud of yourself!  :cool:
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


Re: ZEFF's 1971 Firebird Build
« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2013, 07:02:47 AM »
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