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Discussion Starter · #281 ·
Oh, and I plan to install an updated spare tire that will acutally fit my car. I upgraded disc brakes in teh front and I know the 15" spare tire will not fit over the big calipers. So, I bought a matching AC Torque Thrust 105 wheel and a Nitto Spare tire that can be used for the front or rear on wither side as a spare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #282 ·
I finally solved the riddle with the PCS steering wheel display cutting in and out of power. It uses the horn button for power, but the connection rotates on the turn signal cancel cam. I replaced it and still intermittent power. So, I thought maybe I could just install a capacitor. But, I could not get it to charge, maybe it was defective.

The solution was rather easy. I realized that the spacer behind the paddle mount was larger than the NRG adapter. This gave the slightest amount of room to run a power wire inside. I tapped the power wire from teh GV switch, drilled a hole through the adapter so the wire could past and viola! I now have constant power and no need for a fancy high dollar clock spring or slip ring that I struggled to find that would fit this application. I am very happy with how it turned out.

I also started on the alternator New System wiring. I hop eot get a little more system power. I typically run about 13v when driving and 11-12v when at idle. The fiurst step was to mount a Hot Start Ford type remote solenoid. It has to be grounded to work, doh. That took me awhile to figure out. You also have to pull the ignition wire from the GM starter solenoid and mount this to the S position on the solenoid. Then I had to run a jumper from the spade connector on the starter solenoid (where I removed the ign wire) to the starter main power wire from the battery.

Here are a few photos



The capacitor failed. I could not get it to charge. I was likely doing somthing wrong but i gave up.
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Plan B, I noticed that the spacer was larger than the NRG adapter. So I can run a wire through this. I had to drill a hole so the wire can pass into the center of the steering wheel where the wires are located.
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On my first attemp, I mounted the wire in the wrong direction. Argh, it all looks right when sizing it up, but I crushed the wire and had to soder in a replacement and try again.
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Now I have it correct. The wire is on teh back side and not crushed. The wires turn with the wheel with no pulling. The coil cables give slack so the wheel can turn.
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Test trial and drive and all is working great. Now I can use the paddles without the power interuption which would delay the shift and my rpm would hit 6000rpm.
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Here is a look at the New system wiring for alternator hookup. I hope this improves my charging and maintaining the voltage over 13v.
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The first step was to mount a hot start remote solenoid. This is still in test, so wires are not loomed and shrink wrapped yet.
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After getting a flat in my other vehicle, I decided I need to take action and make sure all my rides have a workign spare tire. The Elky had a 15" spare and this would fit the rear but not the front so I bout a 17" rim to match the others. Got it painted up and mounted with a slightly smaller tire compared to the front. A Nitto N555 G2 225/45R17. This is a directional tire, but I dont care. It only needs to be in place for 100mi or less in most cases. It will fit all four wheels and get me home.
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I can slide it into and out of the car without removing any panels. Just what I was hoping for.
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Discussion Starter · #283 ·
The New system install went well. I also added a couple ground junction blocks to keep everything tiding and organized.

Alternator New System-1 I cut out the old wiring for the three wire alternator which has been replaced with a one wire 150amp alternator. The ground junction block was installed and there are only 3 wires on the horn relay now.
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Alternator New System-2 The main feature of the New System is a replacement of the factory splice at the front drivers corner by the horn relay to the firewall next to the brake booster. The splice is the location where the charge is monitored in the 3 wire system. With that gone, the splice was cut out and the alternator wire goes to the junction on the firewall. The main power dash wire is cut back and added to the junction. This is now the new location of the monitoring of charge, rather than the battery. The wire sizing, length and routing is critical to this system install.
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Alternator New System-3 A Ford type hot remote starter solenoid islocated next to the battery.
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Alternator New System-5 Here is the other ground junction box. These small devices are a great way to clean up the clutter. Just note that they are plastic and not grounded. So, they can be used for ground or power connections. But, you need to feed it that primary source.
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Alternator New System-7 This is the factory wiring with the external voltage regulator harness. All of this mess was cut out.


Overall, the MAD System is available online and has lots of detail for anyone lookign to improve their charging system.
 

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Wow Scott, I really appreciate your effort to document your work and really envy what you have accomplished. A beautiful car/truck. One thing I missed seeing, in looking at almost all your post, was bushings for the frame/body. I don't know what the El Camino engineers intended the for the life of our bushings but I can't imagine that there is a single El Camino out there with original bushings that doesn't need them replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #285 ·
Thanks. I am glad you are enjoying th ejorney too. I have not replaced those bushings. I think my father-in-law did this back around 2000, but I am not sure. In fact, I am not even sure of the condition. I will check them out soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #287 ·
how many bushings and how do you do it? any concerns about not getting it aligned correctly?
 

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I think it's 14 all together. and there are number of things on YouTube. If you do it sooner you save yourself or the next guy a lot of trouble. Or if you do it later, as in my case, you use all the mechanic words you've been saving and may even invent some. I can tell you waiting 39 years is waiting too dang long. My guess is that around the 12-15 years should be the max but I'll defer to the gear heads with more experience.
 

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Did you get your Craftec cover today?

Did I tell you that I was stationed in OK for 3 years?
I used to drive south to North TX, so that I would have a North TX accent rather than OKee talk..
I learned how to be nice to those Texas young ladies. First, they are all young ladies. Talkin' nice to them can get you little favors, but don't try to take advantage of them. I hear the voice of a good lady from TX and my phone voice slips right back to north TX.

Did you send them a picture of your El Camino? Did you tell them your El Camino was supercharged so it needed to have it's bed cover quick to make it even quicker? They tolerate and anticipate a little bragging. Did you pay for sooper dooper freight? On the piggy back train that goes the Southern Border Friendship Route and runs 24 hours a day to the coast? Or did you go through the snow in the steep Colorado mountains on twisty roads?

Yep, yep, sure, sure, you will get yours before I do. Mine has special aerodynamic style modifications that I cannot disclose not offered on the website. Did you get the optional parachute?

Hehehehehe.... I'll give you a couple car length head start on that shipping.
Look at that. The yellow lights are lighting up on the tree.
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How's that for early Monday morning smack talk?
 

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Scott, you are doing a great job, that's teaching me. I enjoy reading and learning from your work. Thank you.
 

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Two UPS truck lengths head start.

The driver of the brown truck said, "Hummm, I don't think I ever delivered here the last few years".
Look at that, there are boxes in the bed of my '70.
"Yes, those are real boxes. Guaranteed! What do you mean they might be like fake time slips?"
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Discussion Starter · #292 ·
Thanks 78 Elk. The past year went by so fast. I'll need to put together a tobale of contents so I and others can quickly find what they want to.

Old Bear,
I did get the cover. I have to wait to install since i just returned from vaca and have to work out of town this coming week.

Please post pics when you get yours installed. What is the special mod you had done? Is it really a parachute? What is the aero package? Now I feel like yours will be better than mine and I didn't know about the options. 😢
 

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Glad you got it. Craftec folks are easy to work with.
If you look at my cardboard box, watch for the change in sharpie tips. That will separate the true flat bows option from the "ribbing".

With a 3.08 peg leg, I did not need an aero package or parachute. Although I have been collecting info for HkdUp87 for his '85 drag truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #294 ·
I see, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #295 ·
Craftec Cover Installation​



This is one of those fantastic values that I regret not doing years ago. The cover adds protection to the bed and cosmetics. It also makes for a great support if you use a car cover, which I do during the winter months.



I tend to modify everything I buy and this is no exception, but I do want to say that the quality of this product is amazing! Everything fit perfectly. The vinyl cover stretches over the rails and tucks into the groove as it should. The stitching, seams, seals, instructions and parts are all perfect. The hinge rail that mounts to the front of the bed fits the existing trim support holes without drilling new ones. Even the cover itself fit inside the bed trim and over the tailgate perfectly. It was not too long or too short or kicked to one side. It was perfect. I worried about drilling into the bed, but the locations for the supports were perfectly described in the instructions and the measurements provided for where to locate them were again, perfect. I would highly recommend this cover to anyone. It comes at about 1/3 of the price of a fiberglass cover and was in stock and arrived within a week of ordering. I highly value fit and finish. This cover does not disappoint. A true 5 star product!



The major modification I made was that I wanted a flat cover, no arched bows. I probably would have lived with the standard arched bows, but I would have been unhappy with the look. If you look at the photos on the Craftec site, the covers look flat and that is what I was expecting, but they likely are not flat. My cover sits perfectly flat now and looks fantastic. I live in snow country, and I am confident that my cover will easily hold 4” of snow fall without causing the cover to sag. I don’t plan to test this out, but it may happen in the next couple years and if so I will report back on how it held up.

I blame Old Bear for the extra cost and time (2 leisure days while watching and cheering the Olympics) that this mod cost me, but I also thank him for bragging about his flat bar upgrade, which sparked me to go down a path I was not thinking about when I made the purchase. The arched bows are intended to push the vinyl up a little bit (3/4” at the highest point) to prevent sag in case it rains and over time when the vinyl stretches. However, I did not like the look of this so I called Beth at Craftec and she had advised me that they sell flat bars and some customers had success with adding a metal sheet to provide additional support. So, this is the route I decided to go. The cover uses three bows and they are all slightly different lengths. The flat bars are made from the same aluminum square tube stock as the arched bars. So, I decided to try and straighten my bars instead of ordering new ones. If I failed then I would call Beth back. I am happy to report that I was able to bend the bars back to their flat state, but they are not perfect. If I were to do it again or advise anyone that wanted to add the metal support sheets, I would suggest ordering the flat bar option, which is not available online. You need to call in that special request order.



The minor mod I made to this project was painting the cab hinge rail (11) and the hardware that is inside the bed. This includes the shock mounts, latch mounts and all the screws. In hind sight, I did not paint the Cover hinge rail (1), but I should have. There is only a small piece of this showing, but I know it is there. Someday I will go back and paint this black. So, if you are doing this mod and want to paint the parts that will be seen to match the interior color of your bed then these are the parts to paint. Most people have chrome trim so the factory aluminum pieces will be fine for most people, but all my trim is black, so I blackened these pieces.





Okay, on with the photo tutorial and more details about the modz and this install.









Craftec Cover Install-1 I bent the arched bars straight. I tried using a heat gun to soften the metal but this did not seem to help. I just used careful brute force to bend them. Each bar had a small dimple, but the end result is that the bars have about 1/8” of lift instead of the original ¾” at the center.
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Craftec Cover Install-3 The instructions are very good, but wordy. I had to read each several times to be sure I understood the details. There is also a very good video instruction, but this video is for a typical truck bed and not the 68-72 El Camino which has several unique parts and steps. In this photo you will see that I chose to assemble the frame in the living room which watching the Olympics. Most of the assembly is done with the frame upside down. Once all the parts were assembled I turned the frame right side up so I could install the metal sheets.
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Craftec Cover Install-4 I found 36” x 36” aluminum sheets at the Home Depot for $22 each. I bought two sheets and used a jig saw to cut two of the four sheets down to size. My dimensions for the whole sheet is 72” x 57” This size worked great for me as it allowed for the sheet to overlap the side rails. I also had to move the center bow bar towards the rear about 3/8” from the original marks so that the top sheets and bottom sheets had a place to rest. Once I got the sheets in place and made adjustments to the center bar, I marked these sheets for future reference.
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Craftec Cover Install-7 I cut each of the 4 corners. I started with the jig saw, but this was difficult since the area to be cut was so far on the edge that the whole sheet would bounce and vibrate. I ended up using metal shears and this was fast and straight. Perfect for the small corners, but the jigsaw is still best for the large cuts. I was planning on using rivets, to secure the sheets to the frame, but this would have taken a lot of time and may have caused a little raised section where these are located. So, I decided to use aluminum flashing tape. This was an excellent choice, fast and inexpensive. It is also super thin so it does not take up any valuable space. Once I was happy with the fit, I used a file and steel wool to clean up all the edges. Then I placed the sheets back into position. These sheets will be taped, so the edges do not need to be perfectly straight. I had gaps of about 1/8” at the biggest point. Not bad.
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Craftec Cover Install-8 Here are the finished top sheets in place.

I actually taped the top left and right pieces together on both sides. Then I taped the bottom two sheets together, both sides. Then I laid the top section on and taped it to the frame. I only used two small tape pieces attaching to the middle bow. In hind sight it would have been fine to tape the whole length. I then taped the bottom section into place and taped the edges. The last step was to tape the middle section which binds the upper to the lower sheets. The only piece not taped was the top piece which rests against the cover hinge rail. I did not want too much bulk in this area since the vinyl cover will pinch it into place. In hindsight, tape here would have been fine. The tape is super thin and barely noticeable at all.
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Craftec Cover Install-9 Now it is time to install the vinyl cover. It was pretty straight forward, but as you can see in the photo, I marked the location for the latch handles but I forgot to install them. So, I had to untuck the cover and pull the tail gate rail off to slide in the handles. Later, when I reread those wordy instructions they did provide a tip for adding handles later on where you can do it without removing the tailgate rail. Doh, another wasted half hour. You can also see the underside of the bed cover with the metal sheets in place. This is solid and when I pick up the cover it is not too heavy at all. I was able to install this by myself. It was super solid feeling too.
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Craftec Cover Install-15 Once the cover is done, now it was time to fasten the cover hinge rail to the bed of the el Camino. Inside the car, there are two nuts that hold the bed rail trim in place. Remove these to remove the trim piece. I had to drill out the holes to 5/16” as recommended. Then I installed the hinge rail cover into these factory holes and everything looks seamless.
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Craftec Cover Install-18 Here is a look at the cover hinge rail in place. The hardware provided was a perfect match. I am glad that I blackened this rail to match the rest of the bed trim. If your trim is chrome then the alum finish will look nice.
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Craftec Cover Install-20 I marked the location of the shock mounts exactly as instructed and this turned out great. The flat edge of the mount will sit against the rail trim and this meets the 1” parameter as instructed. So, that was easy to install. I was dreading drilling my bed, but with the painted mount, this looks great. I would recommend that you paint your mounts and the screws the same color as your bed color. Mine was obviously black so a no brainer here.
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Craftec Cover Install-33 The last step in this install was to mount the latch brackets. I painted these black too. You need the cover installed and in the down position to do this. The brackets sit perfectly against the side rail trim and this was another perfect fit from Craftec that did not require any adjustments on my part. As you can see in the photo, I just lined up the bracket and closed the latch. This pinched the bracket into the correct position. I marked the holes, drilled and placed the hardware. When I tested it, perfect! I have to push the cover down slightly to engage the handle and this keeps a nice tight fit without any bounce or rattle.
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Discussion Starter · #296 ·
The remaining photos show the fit and finish.

Craftec Cover Install-22
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Craftec Cover Install-23
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Craftec Cover Install-24
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Craftec Cover Install-26 The straps are intended to hang over the bedrail. I have these out too far just for practicing. They work great. You just pull the strap and it opens the latch handle. You need to lift the cover in order to open the tailgate.
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Craftec Cover Install-28 The cover is open. You can see the aluminum metal sheets here. I did all my markings on the top surface knowing that the bottom surface is actually the display surface.
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Craftec Cover Install-30
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Craftec Cover Install-31
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Craftec Cover Install-32
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Craftec Cover Install-34 Here you can see the straps are only out about 2" and hang on the top of the tailgate rail. I found it to work best if I place the straps over the rail just to the side of the tailgate. Then I close the tailgate and then slide the straps into the correct position.
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Craftec Cover Install-35
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Overall, this was a fairly easy but time consuming project because of the modz I made. This product is very high quality and if no modz were to be made, I would expect most people could install this in an afternoon. About 2-4 hours. It requires basic tools and can be done by one person. You do need a large clean space to build the frame and not get the vinyl dirty or scratched/torn. Other than that this is one of those projects that I consider boring. Which is always a good thing! You can drink lots of beer and because everything is so precise it will be hard to screw anything up. I don’t think I cursed one time. Most of my projects are much more exciting than this one and REQUIRE lots of cursing.
 

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Very cool. I was interested in this product for my 1968, when I get a little further on the restoration, so I was really glad to see your detailed review of it. Thanks very much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #299 ·
Well, I received notification from Summit Racing that the TCI transmission has shipped from the manufacturer. This is about 45 days ahead of schedule. Stoked about that. The car has been sitting in the garage for the past month. It will be nice to get it back on the road before summer is over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #300 ·
Update to share.

The TCI transmission arrived and got the car into the shop. They got the new tranny installed and they ran into a problem when they went to bolt up the Gear Vendors overdrive unit. The shop gave me a ring to let me know that the TCI ransmission, TH400 with 9" tail has a 32 spine outputshaft. The orignal transmission has a 27 spine shaft. When looking at specs, there is no mention of the output shaft at all, so I was confused on how I made a mistake when ordering the transmission.

So, I made some phone calls today and this is what I learned. This will serve as a good reference for others and me as well as I tend to forget small details and often refer back to my modz pages for those details.

The TH400 transmission with 9" tail is quite rare. The most common is with 32 spline output shaft in a 4" tail. These are often in trucks. The 9" tail version TH400 is often used in larger trucks with a longer wheelbase. First off, the "original" transmission I had in the El Camino was obviously not OEM with this car. I am merely using the nomenclature of "original" to signify that this is my starting point, not the TCI tranny. What I learned is that my original tranny is not a TH400 at all. It is acutally a TH375. The 9" tail housing was even stamped TH375 and I just thought it was a universal part. The TH375 is typically used in cars and has a smaller output shaft, about 1/18" diameter with 27 spines compared to the heavy duty TH400 which is 1 3/8" with 32 splines. The TH375 uses the same TH400 housing which is why it is easy to confuse them. The TH375 is more commonly found with 9" tails for long wheelbase cars like a Cadillac.

So, I am happy for the fact that the TCI TH400 has a larger output shaft as is heavier duty. The dilemna is what to do now. Do, I replace the transmission or the GV or what? So, I made a phone call to GV and got lucky. I also learned some more. The Gear Vendors overdrive unit is what it is. There is no rebuilding it to match the tranny. This was not the problem. The problem is that the GV has a coupler that is matched to the transmissionoutput shaft. I kinda forgot about this since it has been so long since I installed it. So, for $250 GV is going to send me a new coupler with shim kit, gasket and some other small parts. I also learned that I can reuse the GV adapter and that a true TH400 with 9" tail is truly rare. In fact, GV said that they don't make kits for this setup because it is so rare. Their kits are to match a TH400 with 4" tail to the GV unit. Nonetheless, Dave spent some time in the shop to find a couple that woudl work for my aplication. In order to make everything fit, GV did advise that the output shaft of the TCI transmission may need to be cut down so that the parts line up and fit properly.

I gave the shop a call to let them know of the ngood news and hopefully we can get this all done in a week or less.
 
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