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DJenkins '68 el Camino

14351 Views 143 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  DJenkins
Big milestone! Finished dis-assembly and got the body and frame delivered for acid dipping.

Metalworks in Eugene, OR has a great rep and I was immediately impressed with the care they took in handling the car and parts during the drop off. They are going to do a great job!

Project will get a lot more fun from here on out as it is re-assembly with clean and/or new parts!

Year and Model: 1968 el Camino
Engine Specs and Modifications: Will be GM performance crate Big Block, probably ZZ502
Drivetrain Specs and Modifications: Will be Speedway or Currie 9 inch housing with 3:40 Posi. GM performance auto trans (probably - my son is trying to talk me into 5 speed)
Suspension Specs and Modifications: QA1 level 3 suspension package
Exterior Specs and Modifications: Will be stock(ish) sheet metal. Adding SS hood and badging. Black with white '69 style SS stripes
Interior Specs and Modifications: Stock black vinyl with upgraded buckets and adding console
Electrical Specs and Modifications: All new, upgraded wiring harness
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They spray a rust inhibitor which is good for indoor storage. I will be having it delivered to body shop to begin panel repair etc. Body shop will spray entire thing with epoxy primer.
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Thought I would post an update. Got the body back from dip shop about a month ago. Wow! Clean and rust free. "Rust free" means holes where the rust used to be. At least it is stopped and we can now see clearly what we have and what needs to be fixed.
Body work is underway. New floor pan, new back of cab and rear shelf installed. Next up are both quarter panel skins, dash metal and the "rear seat pan" (same pan that is rear seat floor board for sedan, but on el Camino is it under the front of the bed." Once the body "shell" is done, can move on to doors, fenders etc. Good news is that rockers, doorjambs etc. are all really solid.
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Also had the frame acid dipped. Good thing as it uncovered some rust through on the section just below the battery. I did the patching and welding myself and pretty happy with how it came out. I took 4 years of metal shop in High School becuase it was fun and to get out of "real classes." Turned out to be a valuable skill later in life ;) and it is still fun.
Frame is now at the Powder Coating Shop. Can't wait to get it back, see how it looks and to start assembling the new suspension kit (QA1 Level 3 with Coilovers etc.)
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Progress continues, slooooowly but surely. Frame is now powder coated and I got the new 9 inch housing and rear coil over system installed. Putting new clean parts together is much more fun than dis-assembling old rusty stuff :)
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Also making progress on the body. New wheelhouses and under-bed pan. It was rusty! But not anymore :)
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Just picked up the engine. Pretty excited about it! It'll probably be next year before I can get enough assembly done to actually start it up. But, needed engine and transmission in place to correctly modify the trans hump in the floorboard and wanted to do that before assembly and paint.
And, needed to get the engine picked out and purchased at some point anyway . . .
Hot Cammed LS376, 495HP
Added the Holley mid-mount serpentine kit and Corvette fuel rail covers (cause stock LS motors are UGLY!) and correct Holley wet sump oil pan for A-Body.
Here are full details if interested: LS376/480 495HP Hot Cammed LS3

Already have trans as well, Tremec T56 Magnum 6-speed.

As I said before, way more fun working with all new parts :)

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That's lookin really great! I need a trailer like that!
Thanks! That body dolly was only ~$300 from Eastwood. Well worth it for a frame off project.
Those two square holes that go into the rear inner fender. Mount a electric fan in each side. Then put a screen on top of the plastic storage container. Flip the switch and it will pull all kinds of air through the vents and windows while in traffic while drying the inner fenders and roof when in the rain... You have to put little spacers on the two access panels at the tail lights for the air to exit..

View attachment 132215
I'm going with Vintage Air upgrade. That should do the trick.
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That does look like a nice dolly. I may have to get one when I start my '60 project. It'll have to come off the frame too. What brand is the car trailer? Is it yours?
The trailer is a Bulldog 20', dual axle. I bought it 23 years ago and did a full "restoration" on it before I started the car. Added a 12000 lb winch inside a mounted tool box and a solar charger for the winch battery.

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Minor progress is still satisfying! Putting the 3rd member and axles in was a bigger PIA than expected. And assembling the Wilwood calipers/rotors was a bit finicky as well. But when done it was a moment of triumph to bolt on the rear wheels and see how it looked. Totally happy with it all :cool: Now on to the Speedway 2" dropped spindles, new steering linkage etc. It'll be a "roller" very soon.



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It's a rolling chassis now! Got the front spindles (2" drop from Speedway) and hubs, disc brakes and steering parts all put together. After working on the suspension with all new parts and body off, makes me never want to crawl under a car again :)


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That's a sweet looking chassis. Looking forward to seeing you guys get the body on it.
Me too! That will be a big day.
WOW you have brought this a long way in 6 months since you started this post, and it is looking good! I can safely say that if I had my Camino to build again, I would go with an 8 or 10 spd auto.
Thanks. I ended up going with Tremec T56 Magnum Six Speed. Should be fun.
Time to put the motor in! I had a local speed shop do the bellhousing/block alignment for me (critical for Tremec T56!) and then it was ready to go.
Here is a time lapse video (2.5 hours in 30 seconds) of my son and I doing the install:
Now that it is in, I realize I'm going to have to get different motor mounts. It sits too low, oil pan only has about 1/4" clearance and the power steering pump pulley to the steering box about the same. I think there are "tall" mounts available. Any input welcome. It is all trial and error, right? Anyway, it looks good sitting in the frame!




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That is wicked nice. What kind of steering box are you using? What size willwood brakes and rim size? The combo looks great.
Steering box is Saginaw 605 from Lee's Lee Power Steering Components - Motorsports High Performance Steering, I worked with them to get the best ratio and resistance for what I wanted. Not the cheapest, but they are the absolute experts.
Front brakes are: Wilwood 140-7675-D FDLI 12.19 Inch, rears are Wilwood 140-7140-D FDLI Rear Brake Kit, New Big Ford 2.50 Offset. Rears are a little weird because I put in a Ford 9 inch housing and had to have the internal drum system for parking brake. Luckily, this is not that unusual and Wilwood had the right setup. Note that Wilwood's universal cable system is needed to make the parking brake work. I found that out AFTER I popped for a full GM replacement set that would not work :confused:
Wheels are US Mag U104, 18X8 in the front, 18X9 rear.
I am so jealous of that chassis! It look spectacular! Makes me want to pull the body off of mine and do the same....minus all the work and cost involved. I feel like that would be a bit of a speed bump 🤔
Sign down at my local, and very friendly, speed shop: "Horsepower is measured in cubic dollars."
Ain't that the truth?
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Progress! It has been a year since I started. Sometimes feels slow, but much of the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

-New quarter panel skins installed, and new under bed well and brace.
-Put back on the frame and brought it home. It is out of "body shop prison!"

Next I will pull it back off the frame, shoot
it all in Epoxy primer and shoot the undercoat.
Then will start on blocking out quarters and cab and then front end Sheetmetal.




Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Motor vehicle
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Window
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I'm getting too old to lay on my back and spend hours on the underside ;)
So . . . I popped for a rotisserie. Not too bad, $999 for the Tuxedo 3000lb model (plus shipping.)

Ya know, working on cars is more fun when you have the right tools!





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progress on underside

Got all the underside repairs done and then got it prepped and sprayed epoxy today.
All of us DYI guys who dream of painting our own cars have visions of laying down color and then clear like glass.
The truth is that is only 1% of the job. The rest is hours and hours of tedious prep; welding, grinding, sanding, and then doing it over.
But it is all joy! (Mostly)

Had some metal work to do on the bed braces (about 8 spots like this to repair):


I got them done satisfactorily and then moved to spot welding in all the nuts for bucket seats and seat belts etc.
Then, grinding and sanding and grinding and sanding to get ready to shoot epoxy.

Here is what I started with:


I started out determined to sand off all of the EDP from the replacement panels.
As you can see in the next picture, I got the belly pan done . . . it was really hard!
And then I asked myself "if this paint is stuck so well, why am I sanding it off?" I did the thinner test and no color came off, so I switched to just sanding the EDP with 180 really well.
The picture doesn't look bad, but as we all know, epoxy needs a good scratch to adhere to. Can you see how many nooks and crannies there are under the bed and supports? HOURS!!!
Also, you may notice the "doughnuts" spot welded on the body mount pads. Some had pin holes so I decided to put a patch on all of them. Can't hurt.

Here it is, prepped and ready to spray epoxy (everything really is sanded, just some shadowing in the picture):


Oh, and here is my super cool "strip curtains" booth in place and ready:


And, it is epoxied. 2 really good coats.
Tomorrow I will do the inside of the cab and then this week will massively coat every joint with seam sealer and then shoot Raptor on the underside and the cab interior (most of it.)
Totally stoked with the progress!

And, the folks on this forum who encouraged me to get the rotisserie are my hero's! It made this whole phase way easier and more enjoyable. Each coat involved 4 rotations and it was super easy.

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