El Camino Central Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a 1969 El camino who's front end has been wrapped around a tree. I removed all the fenders , hood, grille etc. to access the damage. The driver side of the frame is bent up. I would say it is about six inches of the frame. I took it to a frame shop and the guy told me to just get a whole new frame. Another guy said, oh i'll do it for $800. Why does one person think they can do it the other say's no? I've been looking for a parts car for some time to no avail. Here is my question. Can I swap out a chevelle frame to my El Camino? If so, just a 69 or can I do a 68 as well? I am really new to car composition...so here is my next dumb question. I had a friend ranting on about how he thought it had a sub frame and this makes things easier. What does that mean and how does it make things easier?
Also, I am wondering if this is an option. Can I cut that part off of another car and weld it on to mine? I understand this will compromise the integrity of the frame but how much?
Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Hey El Flowne 69,

Sorry to hear about your bender . . . here's what I can tell you after many years working in different body shops:

A frame can be fixed within reason. Depending upon how much the rail is kinked or "Z'ed" over itself, it may or may not be worth repairing. The biggest issue is not necessarily whether or not it will be straightened and "squared up" again (although this is of paramount importance), but how much structural integrity is left after it is heated, re-bent in shape, welded where splits happen, etc. I have seen frame rails that were heated to remove a bad "accordian" style bend - the rail was the correct length and square when repaired, but the waves were still in the rail. If the same car is in another accident, the repaired rail could collapse with much less pressure than in the original accident due to the repair.

I'm sure finding another Elky to replace your frame would be a bear to do. However, it is possible to have the front section of the frame replaced as long as it is cut at the factory welds where it meets the straight rails below your floor. Since the frames are assembled this way in the factory, it can be re-spliced this way again. This should be done at a frame shop, welded properly by a professional as a bad alignment will result in poor structural integrity and possibly a twist in the frame. If you look under your car, you can see where the front portion of the frame "slips" into the straight frame rails and is welded. This is the only proper way and place to splice a frame. Don't let anyone tell you that they can cut off 18" of rail and butt-weld a section on - although I have also seen this done, I would not recommend it.

I believe the front section of the frame (forward of the firewall) is identical to a 2-dr / 4-dr / wagon Chevelle / Malibu, so it may be easier to find a donor car if you cannot find a whole Elky frame. The other cars mentioned should all have different wheel bases than the Elky, I'm sure other members can verify if this is true. If you can find a donor car in the junkyard, have them cut off the donor frame way back from the factory welds (like under the rear doors) that you will be replacing. The frame shop will need to trim out the frame themselves.

As for the "Sub-frame", that is a term used for a car with a partial bolt-on frame attached to a Unibody cnstructed chassis. A perfect example of this would ba any Camaro from 67-81. They had a front-half bolt on frame, held on by four large bolts under the floor and the rear of the car had a "Unitized" frame consisting of welded sheet metal frame rails, applied directly to the body. All Elkys from day one have been built with a full bolt-on frame from front to rear.

You are embarking upon dark waters sir - use great caution and utilize a professional if the frame-splice is the only repair available. Finding a good frame would be the best chioce for the repair. Either way you will have to pull the frame off the body to make ther reapir or replace the whole frame.

As for finding a frame - check this out:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2453543848&category=6153

Sometimes you can find partial cars like this one for what you need as long as shipping is not a huge issue. The car shown is a 72, I'm not positive, but I believe the back half and frame are the same as yours.

Good Luck and let us know how you make out . . . . .

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Great response Dan, excellent information.

They just had something similar to this on the new program Rides on TLC, where they replaced the front frame section of a Mustang. That was quite interesting, and one heck of a final product.

Thanx for the input!

Lee
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Thanks Lee,

I grew up working in my Dad's body shop - although I do not do body and frame work for a living anymore, I still like to keep my hands dirty.

I have seen so many botch jobs and bad "backyard" body and frame repairs that I am so glad to share these experiences to others. There are lots of ways to do things right and even more ways to do them wrong. I know how difficult it is to put your hard earned money into repairs and Framework is not just cosmetic, it is about your safety.

The learning curve can be a real bugger (and painfuuly expensive) with no experience. This website is a great place for giving and getting that helping hand . . . . .

I saw that episode of "Rides" - Troy Trepanier's shop? They were building the eBay Mustang? Sweet ride - many of his cars have graced the pages of Hot Rod in the past couple years - amazing detailed vehicles that can be driven - what a concept, huh?

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
I to grew up around cars, my dad still has a used car lot, he's 78 and it gives him life! 8O

Same here on keeping the hands dirty, sorta like that backyard mechanic all my life, only more expensive toys today. Working on an off frame with my 74 (pics in the 4th gen).
So far the frame looks super straight, but I won't really know until the body is off.
Do you have any recommendations on frame paint or bushings. I plan on going with POR15 and original equipment with the bushings. But have been contemplating poly? Thoughts?
Thanx,
Lee (Caveman)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Hey Lee,

Your dad is 78 and still into it - good for him Dude! Mine just retired after 40 plus years owning a Body Shop and he is done - it has taken its toll on him. Luckily, I got out of it professionally before it just became "work" so I can't get enough of it . . . .

I have heard nothing but good comments about POR 15. Although I have not used it yet, I would recommend it based upon other's comments. Make sure all the prep is done to the letter - clean the frame to remove any and all grease (Steam or pressure wash would be a good start with a good degreaser solvent). I have seen lots of comments on this forum about engine cleaning - check those out as the same rules apply for the frame. For hard to remove spots, use a paint scraper and Prep-Sol or a similar product to break down the grease and oil. Scrape all loose or flaking paint and/or rust flakes as the paint will not get past them. Use the Metal-Ready pre-prime step that the company sells and finish the frame. Sounds like POR 15 can be used as a prime coat or a topcoat, so you can finish right over it if desired. Needless to say - any frame rot should be repaired properly and not simplly painted over (this stuff may stop rust, but it will not make up for a weakened frame).

As for the Body Bushings, it depends upon what you are looking for in the overall performance of the finished car. Urethane or Poly bushings are much harder than the factory bushings and will allow less body twist in the turns if you are going that route. However, they will transfer more road and engine vibrations from the frame to the body. The factory bushings are softer and act as a vibration buffer so the ride will be queiter and better on the bumps. Some say that the difference is nominal - if you have a loud exhaust system, the car is already louder and will vibrate more, so it may not make a difference.

If you are going the Poly/Urethane route - make sure you know what you are getting when you order the car "Kit". Many companies do not sell you the hardware like the bolts and washers - only bushings. Also - make sure the bushings are the same in design as the factory ones. Most of the older GM body bushings are two piece with a molded washer and steel center "tube" that the bolts go through. Many Poly/Ure suppliers say their product is the same, but they are not. I'm sure others on this forum have gone that route and could tell you which companies are best for the right kit. Make sure all body bushing bolts are replaced using only hardened bolts (stainless as an alternative?).

When changing out the bushings - take a good look at the frame / body mount "ears" on the frame. From holding water for so long, many times the part of the frame that is sandwiched between the bushings gets thin or rots right out. If this is the case, you should weld in a new piece of metal with the correct sized hole drilled into it to accept the bushing. I have seen people merely sandwich huge washers over and under the bushing as a fix, but it always allows the bushings to shift as they are not hard mounted.

One more thing - very important: When removing the body bolts - DO NOT use a pneumatic wrench. Many times the bolt is rotted between the bushing area that you cannot see and the bolt shaft is half the thickness it should be. A pneumatic air wrench (like the ones you would use to remove wheels) will snap these bolts in a heartbeat and then you are left trying to figure out how to get out the threaded half. Use a 1/2" drive ratchet or start with a breaker bar and turn out these bolts slowly.

Have fun gettin' greasy

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Thanx for all the great info Dan! Especially on the body bolts, I did plan on using air on them 8O Yeah I've thought about what to do if a bolt broke, this could become a real chore.

I bet your Dad was ready for retirement after 40 years, I'm sure his body (lungs especially) have paid the price. A lot of experience there, I'd like to have just a smidgen of his knowledge on body work.

I was pulling all the wiring out last night and I'll tell you, the wires going to the rear can get tough if you don't watch what's going on. I got em hung up between the body and inner fender well and had to take my pool stick bridge and work it out. Just wasn't paying attention, didn't pull the plastic vent from the door jam at first, couldn't see what was happening.

Have you had any chances to work with "painless wiring?" I'm considering doing the whole car with it.

Again, thanx for all your input, great to know there are folks like yourself out there to help.
I've also received some good feedback for Elky Pete, man check out his website if you get a chance. http://elcaminocentral.com/users/elkypete/index.htm I think this will get you to it......
Later,
Lee (Caveman49)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
342 Posts
Hey Lee,

No problem on helping out - that's what we're all here for. I don't have all the answers, but I've done the trial and much error, so if I can prevent some of the pain that I have endured in others, there may be less wrenches being thrown against the far wall of the garage . . . . Trust me when I tell you - I learned many things the hard way like using an air-wrench on body bushing bolts.

Yes, my dad was more than ready to get out of body work. He kept his shop small over the years and in the end, all the manual labor and the toxic nasties in the air were enough. He is in amazing health for one who has done this for 40 or so years. He taught me the trade very well. Interesting, I excelled in body and paint and my dad was a natural at frame straightening. What that man could do with a frame straightener would blow your mind.

Painless Wiring - I would highly recommend their product. I know a few people who have used the harnesses on their rides and it has made a world of difference. I will be purchasing a harness for my 60 - there is 40 plus years of butchery under the dash of mine, so I would rather just go with new. For the price - you can't beat them. One small fire in your ride and you will be wishing you did it right. Just the age of some cars warrants a full replacement, not to mention the "modifications" that others made before you owned yours . . .

I checked out Elky Pete's website - couple sweet rides there - he seems to know his stuff. I am putting together a site to post here as well (can you say FREE webspace?)- good to see who and where the crazies like us came from with their rides. There is a fine line that separates passion from obsession - I believe it is important to cross over as often as possible.

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
I agree Dan, there is a fine line, but sometimes it is almost insane! Yep I've thrown a few wrenches in my younger day, but try not to anymore, just go about it a little more methodically, like using this website :)

When the wife and I went to the Daytona Turkey Rod Run this past Nov.
there was one individual selling the painless with 20 circuits for 160.00 dollars, and at the time I hadn't cross that line yet.....so didn't buy.
But if I see him or get a decent deal on a set in Feb. at the Multrie Ga swap meet, I'm going for it.

It is a long process doing this resto (especially one person), and from what I see and read from folks that have done it, they always seem glad that they went with the full resto. There's another fellow I have comms with occasionally, Garry at http://www.scaldinghotelcamino.com/ he has done a fantastic job as well on his 75 elky, and has been very helpful.

I just wish some of you were a little closer so I could cruise over and check out your work and get some pointers first hand. It always helps me to do that touchy feely thing instead of reading, you know what I mean?

Later,
Lee (Caveman49)
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top