January 2004 - The seats are at the upholstery shop. I'm having them redone in cloth instead of vinyl. The vinyl was too hot and uncomfortable in the summer heat. I've also started working on the doors. I have the glass, hardware, and such removed from the passenger side door and will soon be cutting off the rusty section of lower door skin and welding on the new patch panel.
This photo shows the rust bubbling up through the old bondo along the lower edge of the passenger side door. The driver side door looks about the same.
Here is the bottom edge of the passenger side door with all the old paint and bondo stripped off to reveal lots of rust holes.
July 2004 - I had planned on finishing the doors over the winter but I got busy with some other projects instead. So now I am finally getting around to cutting out the rusty areas and welding in the patch panels.
Here's the passenger side door with the new patch panel welded into place.
July 2004 -And here's the primered door ready to be put back on the car. I used an angle grinder with a "flap disk" to grind down the weld. I've found that these work much better than the rigid grinding stones for sheetmetal/body work because they don't gouge into the surrounding metal. After grinding, I applied a skim coat of Evercoat Everglass filler over the weld seam and coated the inside of the patched area with 3M undercoating. Then I finished stripping the old black paint off the rest of the door, filled some minor door dings with body filler, sanded it all smooth, and sprayed on a couple coats of primer. Finally, I repeated the whole process with the driver side door.
August 2004 - The newly re-upholstered seats are back in the car. What an improvement in terms of both looks & comfort! The above photos also show the freshly re-painted door jambs. While I had the doors off, I took the opportunity to strip the old black paint from the door jamb areas and re-paint them with the silver metallic that I'll eventually use on the whole car. When I put the doors back on, I also installed some new weatherstrip, glass run channel, and window felts ... no more wind whistling in around the doors & windows!
August 2004 - Here is the latest photo of the car. I plan to continue doing the body work a panel at a time so it may be another year or two before I finally get it ready to paint.
August 7, 2004 - I purchased another parts car. It's a 78 4-door, 6-cyl/auto that was in an accident (hit a moose). The former owner started to fix it up by welding on another roof, replacing the hood, etc. but ended up giving up on it. This car has some really nice looking bumpers that I plan on using on my 77. It also has a tilt steering column that I plan on swapping into my 77 as well. After bringing it home and taking a closer look under the car I was surprised to discover that it has an 8.5" 10-bolt rearend (most 76-79 6-cyl Novas have 7.5" 10-bolts). It has 2.73 gears and I'll be using it to replace the worn/noisy/leaky 2.56 geared 8.5" that's currently in my 77.
August 14, 2004 - I removed the tilt steering column from the above mentioned parts car, cleaned it up, and gave it a fresh coat of semi-gloss black paint. I also removed the steering column, instrument panel, and old cracked dash pad from my 77 in preparation for some upgrades. The dash pad will be replaced by a good used pad I salvaged from a parts car. The steering column will be replaced by the tilt column, and the instrument panel will be replaced by an "econominder" gauge cluster I purchased on eBay. This factory gauge cluster includes a voltmeter, temperature gauge, and a fuel economy (vacuum) gauge. Strangely enough, it doesn't include an oil pressure gauge so I removed the clock (which didn't work anyway) and modified an aftermarket oil pressure gauge to fit in the opening.
August 21, 2004 - The tilt steering column and gauge cluster swap is finished. Here is a page with more details about the gauge conversion. The steering wheel is from a 1988 Celebrity Eurosport and came with a red Chevy bowtie emblem that just happens to match the red interior.
September 4, 2004 - I pulled the 2.73 rearend from the above mentioned 78 parts car and gave it a good cleaning. The brakes appear to be the originals (still had the flat retainer nuts holding the drums). They're pretty well worn out so I'll be replacing them with the fairly new brakes currently on my 77.
September 12, 2004 - I gave the rearend housing a light sandblasting to remove the surface rust and old paint. I installed a new cover (they're still available from GM for under $20) and painted the whole thing with a couple coats of semi-gloss black POR15.
September 18, 2004 - The brake lines on the rearend looked "okay" but since I already had them off for sandblasting and painting the housing I decided to replace them. I purchased a couple sections of 3/16" armored brake line (has the coiled wire covering like the originals) from the local CarQuest and used the old lines as bending templates. I also installed new wheel cylinders and a new flex hose.
September 19, 2004 - I pulled the rearend from my 77 in preparation for installing the replacement. I haven't removed the cover to have a look inside yet but there is definitely something worn out since there's quite a bit of free play in the pinion shaft before the axles start to move. The pinion bearings are rather stiff too.
I was originally planning on re-using the original rear leaf springs. They had appeared to be in good condition but when I unbolted them from the rearend I found that both main leaves were cracked right near the centerbolt hole. I also found both centerbolts rusted off. Rather than order and wait for a new set of springs, I salvaged a couple of good main leaves from the springs off the parts car that donated the rearend and put the springs back together with some new centerbolts.
September 25, 2004 - The rearend swap is complete. I didn't notice much difference going from 2.56 to 2.73 gears. However, the "new" rearend sure is a lot smoother and quieter ... no more "whirring" and "clunking" noises.
October 30, 2004 - I finally fixed the carburetor! Ever since I've owned the car it's had a sticky throttle that would catch at around 1000 to 1500 RPM. When I rebuilt the carburetor a few years ago, I discovered that the problem was a bent throttle plate that was catching on the throttle bore. I straightened it out as best I could but it didn't entirely cure the problem. I could never get the idle mixture set correctly either. I had to leave it a bit on the rich side or the engine had a tendency to stall when coming to a stop or going around a sharp corner.
A few weeks ago I came across another old 2GC carburetor while cleaning some junk out of the garage. So I took the baseplate off, cleaned it up, and swapped it onto the carburetor that's on the car. What a difference! No more catching/sticky throttle and it idles a lot smoother. The throttle response seems to have improved as well.
Winter 2004/2005 - The trunk lid on my 77 has some rust starting to break through along the lower rear lip. My recently acquired 78 4-door parts car has a much better trunk lid. It is rust free but does have some dents and dings. So I removed the parts car's trunk lid and fixed it up over the winter. I'll swap it onto my 77 next summer.
Continue on to Page 5(July 2005 - present ... Quarter Windows and Trunk)