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Project Phoenix

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Inherited first 56 from my Grandpa when I was 13. It was so rusty it took me 3 years to get it road worthy. It was a factory 312-225hp-'4bbl-dual exhaust-heavy duty Fordomatic 3-spd auto. It was a 4-door post, police interceptor model my dad picked out for HIS dad when my dad was home from Germany on Army leave on 1957. Factory black paint and padded dash with seatbelts. It was a really hot car for a 16 y/o. Second one was a factory black 2-door post 292-4bbl-dual exhaust with a 3 on the tree with factory fender skirts. I sold the first one when it re-rusted after new paint. I sold the second one because the wife was always pissed that I always worked on the car. Still married after 25 years, but she still hated my cars. I hated that I could never get rain water to stop getting into the carpet. My z has same problem. I was meant to drive cars with moldy carpets! That Fordomatic was great: rubber in gears 1and 2. Tranny was so tight you could push start it.

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Pay close attention to the inside of the cowl... very problematic area on Z's. I've had to address rust in there several times. 


Also you will find a fiberglass patch around the driver rocker panel under the side skirt. I remember helping my dad with that when I was first learning how to glass.

Looking good buddy... keep it up!



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Thanks Ed! 

About that fiberglass patch under the side skirt. I found that one a wile ago.... and I got a mouth full of it. When I was crawling under the car to work on the rear subframe, I spotted what appeared to be a massive spider egg-sack on the side skirt, inches from my face. I was thinking about how I did not want to touch it when I notice it started to move. Naturally, I did what most guys would do that hate spiders, I swung a 17mm wrench at spider and egg-sack. With the foresight of an ape, I managed to get dislodge this fiberglass patch and get a face full of the dust, rust, and pineneedles that had been on the rocker above my face. 

It was fun, I had junk in my eyes, and I knew I hit spider but had no idea what happen to this spider and could not look around to confirm where the spider was before I shimmied my rear end out from under a car that I wish I had lifted a few inches higher...  I really hate spiders!


Anyway, Still striping away on the body of the Z. Got the rear up in the air and pulled the passenger side suspension and the drivers side strut.

P1070659_zpsb8f329f8.jpgP1070661_zps0aa1bbd5.jpgSpent most of Saturday cleaning up around the house and the garage. Got my sand blaster and air compress out. Looking to tackle a few rust spots and blast them first so I can start metal work. I still have yet to find my metal working tools, so I might be back on clean up and unpacking for a few days this week. 

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Back at things, Been doing small things every day to keep it up. For the past week I have removed the drivers' side rear suspension.


As you can tell by the amount of paint chips, most of my time was spent removing paint. 

I took a few moments to hook up my sandblaster and blast with the walnut shells. My air line has a leak from an old hose. Because of this my air compressor had a hard time keeping up with the sandblaster, and it would keep getting clogged. Instead of just wasting my time, I will come back to the blaster when I have a new hose. 


The rust is a bit worse than I thought. But it looks like it is fairly concentrated to the one spot,

Alright, now for the best part of the week.

P1070675_zps7e42ffa5.jpgP1070676_zpsab28b8a2.jpgI finally got one of those pesky side-skirts off. It was not fun. 11 rivets, tons of fiberglass resin, and some kind of glue on the corners that was really annoying.  

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The Good: Side skirts are off! 


The Bad: 


And The Ugly:


I was actually going to use a picture of a massive amount of spider sacks that had been hiding under the side skirts for the ugly... but the picture did not come out right.... and I got rid of them before I took a moment to look at the picture. I really hate spiders (see post 28)

Edited by AkRev

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Took some time this past week to set up my garage, fix the hose to the air compressor, and tested out a few spots on the car.

My attempt with walnut shells was really slow on the fire wall.


It was slow, but it was working.

I then moved to the passenger side of the car. I could not get the walnut shells to get through the POR 15. I went replaced the walnut shells with other products and went to town. The POR 15 came up and took the car down to metal like I wanted. 


There was a few areas that I took a putty knife to be able to get some kind of seam sealer that had been smeared all over the side and then painted over. (Looked like factory paint layer)


Over all this was about 30 min of work (wish I had more time). Excited to start getting the engine bay striped, patched, and primed.

Speaking of paint. It has been a long time since I painted a car, it appears that products have changed. If you have any recommendations on an automotive etching primer that works well, please PM me or drop a reply for others to read. 

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It has been a crazy week. My wife and I just had our 4th child (boy). Most of week was spent helping out around the house and with the newborn. I was lucky enough to get a few moments to work on the Z.

Started off by draining the gas tank and cleaning up around the garage. Then I moved back into blasting the engine bay. Only surprise was with the drivers side area. I had mentioned back when I pulled the fenders that I found rust around the pinch weld at the top. The part that I did not see was how the rust went down into the cavity below it and rusted out around the seam below. The POR-15 and undercoating on the other side hid the damage from me until I blasted.


But things are moving along very well.



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Thanks Tamo3,

I must admit, I was drooling over your rims the other day. Those things look amazing. 


Got small pockets of work done.

Pulled the gas tank.


And I also spend a few minutes every day blasting away.


The POR-15 has been challenging to get off to say the least, but it is coming off!

Tested out blasting off some of the undercoating. It did not work as well as I though it would.


Going to hit it with a putty knife and a heat gun and I will report how that goes. 

I know my progress has been going slow, but things will pick up a bit here shortly.

Edited by AkRev

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It has been bad weather for the past bit, so I have turned my attention to cleaning up the engine bay. 

Got a $5 spot weld remover from Harbor Freight and started removing the spot welds around the brackets in the engine bay.


Next up, working on the core support and more blasting. 

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This is where I you decide that have a vision, or I am just plain crazy. Possibly I am both.

Ran into a few issues this past week that I decided needed to be taken care of. 

The one that upset me the most, the car was off square. I thought about getting the framed pulled... but then found the next problem. rust was way worse than I thought by the driver's side core support area. It has a patch panel, and POR-15 holding it (along with about 20 layers of paint to cover it.)

Finally, one thing that has always bothered me is the tightness between my thick aluminum radiator and the engine, to the point that my fan shroud really was not that effective.

On to the carnage;

Drilling out the spot welds.


Passenger side removed, lots of spot welds at fun angles. 


Now for the ugly side.


If you look you can see the patch I was talking about in the last picture. Almost time to break out the welder. 

My stopping point for the weekend. 


Edited by AkRev

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I would be lying if I said that I did not entertain that thought a little on Friday when I pulled the measurements. It was a 1/2" inch off square. I pulled out my 8 foot level to confirm, for some reason the passenger side was high by about an inch.  

To be honest though, I have yet to hit a problem on the car that I feel like I can not handle. Plus, the car does have a lot of sentimental value.


I do have some good news. I got the car to square back up. After I pulled the upper half of the core support, the car "relaxed" and started pulling different measurements, it was only a 1/4" off at that point. With a few bricks, ratchets, two 2x4s, and a jack, l was able to get the car within an 1/16" in measurements.(high firewall drivers side to low cross-member passenger side and the opposite pull starting high firewall on the passenger side.) This method is something I am not proud of, but it worked... somehow.


For those that are wondering, I pulled off the most back woods frame pull. I supported all parts of the car by getting the car off of jack stands and placing it on bricks on the ground, shimmed to keep the car from rocking and strapped down the car. Then put a scissor jack on the passenger side frame rail (this was the "high" side.) On top of the jack I had two 2x4s in a T shape, a few indentations in the ceiling drywall and a few adjustments of bricks and shims, my car started pulling good measurements.

I do not recommend doing this over a real professional with a frame puller. I did this so I can at least move on, it is still not perfect, and after I patch everything, I will still take it to a professional friend that has a frame puller. 


Now its time for me to make my wife Mother's day breakfast. 

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Forgot to answer Ed's question on here for those that are wondering. 

I pulled from multiple areas, the most telling was comparing high firewall drivers side to the frame rail on the passenger side at the core support. Then comparing that to the complementary measurement from the passenger side fire wall. To confirm (and since my front windshield was out) I also measured from upper drivers side of the windshield area to the strut tower on the passenger side and so on.  


Over all, I took tons of measurements to confirm. All of the measurements showed that going high on the drivers side to low passenger side would give me a shorter measurements. The most telling measurement was from the upper windshield to the strut towers. I would get about 5/8" difference. 

At the moment, the windshield to struts are giving dead even measurements. There is about an 1/8" to 1/16" when I pull from the firewall to the frame rail at the cross member.  


Correct me if I am wrong, but my main focus is to get the suspension in line. I figure that the body panels can absorb any slight differences as long as the differences are only vertical due to the size of the mounting holes. Horizontal measurements are consistent and do appear that when I reassemble the hood and fenders that I will be able to keep a constant even panel gap around the hood. 

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More tear down. 

Got the lower core support removed today. Here is a picture of all of the spot welds that I had to drill out, and two that I missed. 


As soon as I cut the last spot weld, the front of the car relaxed and spread out about a 1/4" over two feet. 


After I removed the lower core support, I decided that I needed to trim a little more off for the radiator.


By doing so, this will allow me to remake the mount for the radiator. I will move the radiator forward 2-1/2" and down about 3-1/2"

In measuring everything, it looks like I will be able to mount up to a 4-1/2" thick core for an intercooler, or a 3" core so that I would be able to run a condenser. I am leaning toward not installing a.c. in the car. 

Here is a small idea of where I am planning to mount the radiator. Looking for feed back with peoples experience with how close to mount the intercooler to the radiator. I am assuming about 1" would be enough to keep heat saturation down on a road car.  


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Got a few moments to try and patch a few trouble spots.





Got everything smoothed down using a 60 grit flap disk. Got one small high spot that I will have to work a little due to overheating. Pleased with how it turned out. Going to keep going then go back and lead it. 

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Small updated, my brother in-law came over on Saturday and wanted to get some sheet metal experience with a wire feed welder. Wile I was off cleaning up he took a stab at patching a few holes over on the firewall.





This was his first time using a wire feed on thin metal.

Other changes, I finally took the time to remove the rear flares. The flares had been glued and riveted, then had layers upon layers of fiberglass on top of it. 

Passenger's side. 


Driver's side 


One semi-surprise was found on the drive's side. My guess is that the rear hatch or antenna leaked and started rusting out back quarter panel. It looks like years ago the rust was cut out and then attempted to be repaired with fiberglass.

It did not hold up as well as I wish it would have. 


Edited by AkRev

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Do not want people to think I have given up. Still working on the car every chance I get, It is only for a few moments about every other day.

Getting things ready for paint, started block sanding and DA sanding the top of the car, got most of the engine bay patched up, and a few parts ordered and on the way. 





Edited by AkRev

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Time always goes by too fast when life is crazy. 

Been block sanding the car and prepping for paint. Got the kick to the shorts last weekend when I went to the paint store. My plan was to epoxy the car, do some minor skim coats on top of the epoxy and then to 2k prime and block sand. Well, thanks to the EPA, not an option now. It is now illegal to spray epoxies,or high VOC content in my area, and that rule started last month.


So, now I have a change of plans and need to move faster than I am. 


New Plan:

Get the rear flairs cut

Install the rear flairs. 

Do all of the body work on the main shell before temps drop into the 50's.

Prime the car with DTM2035 Surfacer (4:1:1 mix) over metal and body work. 

Then get the car on the rotisserie to work on the underside for the winter time. 


So yesterday I got back at it. Started off by re-installing the S14 subframe and putting my rims and tires on for the car. (Rims - XXR 526 / Tires (rear) - Falken FK452 265/40z R17)


Pictures Pre-Cut:




So with only an hour to work, I decided to pull the tire and freehand cut the fender.

Could have been better, half way through I realized I could cut higher, so I did. That did not make it look pretty though. 


Ran out of time (as you can see the sky is dark outside of the door now) to cut the front section back. However, I did take the time to check how the S14 subframe traveled.


It travels forward and up mostly as I expected, It moves forward about an inch over three inches, toes in about 3/4" and cambers quite a bit. I now have a good start to start working on the flairs. 

It has been a long time since I have practiced my fiberglass skills.... this might be the train wreck that you can not look away from. 

Edited by AkRev

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Took some time yesterday to clean up the cut around the tire. This time I used a string and marker, so it is actually a radius style cut.

I also starting mocking up my flair. 

This is the part I like, this is the point where I find everything useless in my garage to start cutting it up into a flair like shape. 

Things found in my garage might include shingles, cardboard, aluminum tape, and my new favorite - plastic covers for fluorescent lights.


Step one, toss about an inch think of roofing shingles on the rear tire.

Step two, make a nasty shape out of cardboard. 



I did warn you that this could be the train wreck that you might just have to watch. 


I will say that my whole point of doing the cardboard was so that I could trace the shape on to the plastic light cover. 


And here is where I ran out of time for the day. 




The top is flexing down at the moment. That is why it looks a bit off square. My plan is to cut the front lip that will hold the inside shape of the flare today or Saturday. 


Edit: I should note, the new rim and tire setup is much taller than my older set of rims and tires, because of this, to maintain the ride height, I had to raise the rear suspension. The problem with this is that I have adjustable toe and leading arms, but not an adjustable camber arm. So in the pictures the tire has the correct toe, but the wrong camber. I am compensating for the future camber adjustment as I build this mock flair. 

Edited by AkRev

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Few things to update on. I never did show the picture of when I went back and re-cut the rear quarter.


In this picture you can see that I did a few things, the black paint is a rust conversion primer. I used this on all of the areas that I was worried about rust. I also attached the inner fender to the rear quarter skin using two layers of 8oz fiberglass. 

After a few days, I got around to taping off the quarter.


Hit it with rust conversion primer and then the next day with the rubberized undercoating. 


Now for the things that changed. After collecting a few opinions from friends, family, and my wife. I change the look of my flair. At first I wanted to mimic the stock lip and make it look something like this.


But I wanted something different, and after standing next to a 350z, the dim light got brighter. I decided that I wanted a flat lip.... for some reason I just a Sum41 song stuck in my head. So, I get out the heat gun and go to town. Got it to look great and then called it a night. By the time I looked at it in the morning it looked like crap. 

So back at it with a heat gun, and this time, I got smarter, I used shims to hold its shape. 


It is hard to tell from that picture, but this is kind of the lip I am putting in. 


It has a flat face to the lip, gives a little bit more of a distinction. Also, at the same time, the lip will tuck in.... Hard to explain, but I want the top of the tire covered, and then a small sliver of the tire exposed as it goes down. 


Best example of this would be a RWB. You can see how the top is covered then it slightly tapers in near the bottom and exposes the tire. 


And my stopping point for drivers side. 


Will pick up on the passenger side and catch it up.

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Cough... cough... wheeze.

These things collect dust fast.

Been working on a few side projects, one neat side project is my brother-in-law wanted to do some powder coating. He found an old refrigerator and found a way to convert it into an oven so we could powder coat large objects like a sub-frame.


As for an update with the Z, I got the passenger side flair done and then decided that I needed to work on the under side of the car. As an accountant by trade I did what most accountants do and use the cheapest way possible to do something.


Exhibit A: 


$28.63. (side note, the broom is not holding up the car)

One of the many reason in doing this was to check all of the angles one more time on the rear differential, glad I did. some where along the way I had the nose of the differential 3/8 of and inch higher then the back. This would explain the slight noise I would hear from the rear end on deceleration.


Back at it I adjusted the mounts one more time and everything lined up. Next up, the frame rails. This should be fun....


That is the only part of the frame rail that is rusted through. I will get that welding job started this week. 

Edited by AkRev

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Quick update.

We have a metal supply store a few miles from our home. Wile I was there, I found some 3" x 1" rail. I realized that I wanted this to patch up the frame. Then the fun part, they only sold 10' or 20' lengths, and the 10' was $45 and the 20' was $55. So I got 20' with the intent of doing this. 


I always disliked trying to jack this car from the side, normally I would have to lift the car up with a cheap scissor jack so I could fit my jack underneath, it would always run into the side skirts if I tried without lifting it a bit first. 


I got it all welded up on the main rail. Now I need to cap the end under the car and then I will run the front up the firewall a bit to help stiffen the car a bit.


My welding is improving, this has been a great opportunity to get in some time with my machine. However, I am still getting a fair amount of splatter. Any tips are always welcomed. 


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