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Bringing a bitser back to life

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Floorboard Rust Repair

blog-0876569001419816680.jpgIt has been a while since I have actually been able to string some days of work together. My original plan was to fix the rust holes on the interior of the cabin, put the interior in and then get the engine wired and running. Things changed and shifted and I went digging around and found a lot more rust than I expected. I will now be repairing a-pillars, and a couple of other panels. This means that my overall restoration has greatly expanded.

"Fix the rust holes" looks so much simpler when you watch the TV shows or YouTube videos. When you actually are doing it yourself for the very first time, well, that's very very different. I spent (wasted, frittered away) a lot of time getting my workspace squared away, figuring out how I wanted to work, and then just getting the time to be able to actually work. But now were are almost here.

Then winter got in the way - it was either too cold or too wet to work . . . until today.

I thought there were four holes in the floor pan - but the driver's side turned out to be much worse. That will be for another blog entry.

The two smallish ones on the passenger side are the first to be attacked. After grinding and fixing up the hole, I messed up the first patch and had to make a second one. Bad this was that the first patch was from a section of floor panel that I bought, so I had to make the patch out of 20 gauge sheet. I also had to expand the hole cause I botched that up too.

Outer Passenger Floor   Hole Enlarged And Cleaned Up

This was my first time welding. And my first time fitting up a patch. It was a lot more work that what I expected. The first (second) bigger patch took over two hours to form and it seemed like the last hour was spent trimming the damn patch a 1/16th of an inch at a time. Finally when the patch was set, I started tacking it in a bit at a time.

Outer Passenger Floor   Most Of The Tacks

Outer Passenger Floor   Half Tacked

Some of my welds are kind of cruddy, but I did get full penetration on them. I ground the welds down but I have to finish smoothing them out and then prime and seal them.

Inner Passenger Floor Before

Finished Welding Passenger Floor

Outer Passenger Floor Finished

This took me about six hours to get this done. I'm sore and tired from crouching, bending walking back and forth. My knees are killing me from kneeling on the driveway and welding the footwell is not comfortable or easy. And I'll be doing this again next week!


blog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgblog-0382631001412163482.jpgI finally pulled the trigger and bought the car. Officially, it is a 1969 1600-2 but its really a bitser. At some point the engine, trans and rear end were swapped with a '73 or '74. There is also the dash from a 74 that came with the car, but it seems that the heater box is the original three lever model (I have the newer heater box too)

My goal for the car is to get a reliable driver that looks relatively nice. Basically I am going for a car that I could drive every day (but probably won't) that doesn't look like it is 40 years old. The first milestone is going to be getting the cabin fixed up and the interior installed.

I will be doing most of the work myself with the help of my cousin and whoever else might stop by.

So, here's what's been done so far:

Step 0.0: Purchase and Delivery

Arranged to have it flatbedded home. Easy stuff here. The bumpers and dashboard are loose in the car and I have three boxes of assorted parts in my car. In addition, the trim, seats and door panels were left to be picked another day. I bought the car from my uncle so that won't be a problem





Step 0.1: Clean and Inspect:

I pulled all the assorted parts out of the car. The bumpers look like they might be trash, but I am going to clean them up and give them a final look before I make that decision. That's pretty far down the road. I have a dashboard and instrument panel from a '74 (might be a '73, but I'll just call it a '74). Bonus: there are no cracks on the dash. There are also a bunch of original seals and other bits I haven't looked at closely. There will be an inventory post soon.

Then I washed years and years and years of filth off the car. I was worried that there would be caked on muck and tree sap embedded in the paint. Its not that the paint is in great shape or even good shape, but I did not look forward to hours of scrubbing to get the muck of. Turns out the dirt was just dirt and washed up pretty easily. The paint is OK were it hasn't flaked off or rusted through.

Some before and after shots:










Step 0.2: Soundproofing Removal

Since the cleanup went quicker than expected, I had a fair amount of time left in my afternoon. It was off to the web to find a dry ice dealer. The one I expected to use had closed, but there was an ice wholesaler who had dry ice pellets. I scored the sound proofing in the car, went to the hardware store and got a narrow scraper and then bought 40 pounds of dry ice, could have gotten away with 30 pounds. 20 pounds would have been close. Turns out that I forgot to remove the insulation from under the rear seats, so I have to do this again. And I could not get the sound proofing off the transmission tunnel, so that will be attacked with a heat gun soon.







Step 0.3: Rust Inspection:

Well the plan was to remove the sound proofing, find no rust and then paint and install dynamat or the equivalent. I should have explained this to the car because there is some rust. Nothing too bad except for under the drivers outboard seat mount. That doesn't look bad, its just in a bad spot to get to


Some by the pedal box


Some in the passenger's footwell


And some in the driver's footwell


There is some along the transmission tunnel, but I don't have a picture of that.

Next steps in no particular order:

  1. Inventory my boxes of parts
  2. Remove and bag the parts laying on the dashboard
  3. Fix the interior rust spots
  4. Paint and soundproof the interior
  5. Install most of the interior (except the doors - they need work)
  6. Fix the sunroof
  7. Figure out what to do with the headliner and when to do it
  8. The engine

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