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79 Nova Restoration

 
Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 09/26/11 04:54 PM

Here is my 1979 Chevy Nova that I bought in March 2008 with a 10-year old restoration.  Cosmetically it was a sound car when I got it.  The interior needed a lot of work and it didn’t run.  It has a 327 small block Chevy with a Borg Warner T-10 4 speed and a 3.73 posi rear.

I am very sentimental when it comes to the 79 Nova specifically.  My parents had one when I was a kid and I loved it so much they helped me buy one of my own as my first car when I was 16 in 1991.  Every year my dad would take my brother and me to the Sloan Museum Car Show in Flint, MI and not once do I ever remember seeing a 79 Nova there.  I told him I would be the first to enter one and I did enter this one June 2009.  The 79 Novas we had back in 91 never made it to the show since they were our daily drivers (mechanically sound bondo-mobiles, ha, ha).  Back then we didn’t have the money, time, tools, or really the knowledge to properly restore a vehicle.

We lost dad to cancer June 2002 and mom to cancer March 2009.  Dad never got to see or ride in this car, but Mom did before I started tearing it apart.  I asked her what she thought of me rebuilding it in memory of dad and she gave me her tears of approval thus fueling my motivation to take on a project like I've never done before.  Ironically the color scheme (white with black interior) matches what my wife and I picked for our wedding colors in June 2003, black & white with silver accents.  With all that in mind and my wife and two teenage sons helping me build the car, it’s sort of morphed into a family tribute vehicle.

April 2008. First things first, I had to do some work with the help of my father-in-law to get the 327 up and running to include a major tune-up. New distributor, carburetor, starter, bell housing, and convert to a closed PCV system by plugging off the down draft tube and changing out the oil fill tube with twist on cap. I added new valve covers to accept a breather cap on the passenger side and a breather cap with a PCV valve on the drivers’ side. It runs smooth and doesn’t leave a smoke screen behind me anymore. I plumbed the heater core and wired the blower motor so I can have heat when cruising during the cooler days and defog the windshield.

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May 6, 2009.
I had to repair some rust in the center of the hood from the paint peeling because of a carburetor fire with the previous owner. BEFORE.

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May 13, 2009. The grill was busted up pretty bad on the passenger side so I found a used one on Ebay and painted it along with the headlight buckets black. The chrome was already shot and I like the blacked out look better anyway.

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May 14, 2009. I decide to tackle the trunk by grinding every square inch and using roll-on truck bed liner and replace the spare tire. BEFORE.  

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May 14, 2009. I decide to tackle the trunk by grinding every square inch and using roll-on truck bed liner and replace the spare tire. AFTER.

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June 10, 2009. Here's just some of the attention to detail so I'm putting into the car, one piece at a time. The wiper motor after some sanding, primer, paint and I trashed the old grommets and bought new ones. BEFORE.

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June 10, 2009. Here's just some of the attention to detail so I'm putting into the car, one piece at a time. The wiper motor after some sanding, primer, paint and I trashed the old grommets and bought new ones. DURING.

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June 10, 2009. Here's just some of the attention to detail so I'm putting into the car, one piece at a time. The wiper motor after some sanding, primer, paint and I trashed the old grommets and bought new ones. AFTER.

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June 30, 2009. I removed all of the interior and this what I found. You can see the results of the water coming in from the firewall and the kick panels. Luckily the floors didn't rot all the way through and I didn't have to do major reconstructive surgery.

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July 7, 2009. Most of the interior panels were faded and some had white overspray on them. I repainted all of the interior panels with Duplicolor interior/vinyl spray paint and hand brushed the white striping. I replaced all of the weather stripping August 30, 2009.

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July 27, 2009.
Here are my interior floor boards after a whole lot of elbow grease grinding and some roll on truck bed liner.

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August 5, 2009. The car didn't come with an ash tray and since I don't have plans of needing one in this car, why spend the money and time trying to find one right? So I tacked in some sheet metal and filled in the gaps, smoothed and painted it. The nasty looking heater box was removed and painted too.

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August 7, 2009. Here is the new dash pad which was light blue until I sprayed it. I pulled the instrument panel and added some whiteface gauges which are nothing more than water slide decals, but they worked pretty good I think. This was an automatic so I had to cover up the PRNDL. The instrument bezel was also sprayed with the same paint as the rest of the interior but turned out a little lighter. Still looks good.

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August 14, 2009.
Got some new BFG Radial TAs. 255/60/15 rear and 215/70/15 front. BEFORE.

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August 14, 2009. Got some new BFG Radial TAs. 255/60/15 rear and 215/70/15 front. AFTER.

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August 20, 2009.
I pulled most of the front clip off to access the firewall better and trace where the water was leaking into the interior from. As you can see, I don't have a garage so I have to rely on Mother Nature's mercy in Michigan to get my work done.

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September 5, 2009. New wiring was a MUST! I figured with the interior out and the front body panels off why not do the wiring and fuse box while I have easy access. As I was removing all of the old wiring I found why I was having so many electrical issues. The 30-year old wiring was snapping like pretzels! It's a GM 12-circuit kit by Painless that I ordered through Jegs and it was simple to install. Notice I didn't say easy?!

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September 10, 2009. Here are some before and after pictures of the after market gauges. I replaced the volt and oil gauges just so all three would match and painted the chrome gauge pod black then a MUCH needed tachometer. Eventually the tachometer will be mounted on the custom center console that I haven't built yet placing it in front of what used to be the ash tray. The tachometer bezel will also be painted to match.

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September 20, 2009.
As for the shifter, I bought the boot at Auto Zone and found that the chrome, although it looks nice, will blind you while driving when the sun hits it. So I painted it white to get rid of the glare and help break up some of the solid black interior. All black was looking too plain to me. The new curved shift lever made reaching 3rd gear a lot easier, but was too long so I cut it down.

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January 23, 2010.
There was nothing wrong with the old radiator except for being what I consider an eye sore for a restoration project. The new radiator is made by Champion Cooling and came with the dual electric fans. I also added some braided hose sleeves. BEFORE.

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January 23, 2010. The new radiator mount bushings for the new aluminum radiator.

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January 23, 2010. I had to trim them to fit.

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January 23, 2010. New electric fans to keep the new aluminum radiator cool.

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January 23, 2010. All the cool new stuff for my new cooling system.

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January 23, 2010
. A shot of the radiator out of the box.

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January 23, 2010.
There was nothing wrong with the old radiator except for being what I consider an eye sore for a restoration project. The new radiator is made by Champion Cooling and came with the dual electric fans. I also added some braided hose sleeves. AFTER.

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March 20, 2010. I took my transmission into Al's Trans & Gear in Burton, MI for a complete gasket seal kit and output bearing. They inspected, cleaned and even repainted it for me all for a very reasonable price. BEFORE.

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March 20, 2010.
I took my transmission into Al's Trans & Gear in Burton, MI for a complete gasket seal kit and output bearing. They inspected, cleaned and even repainted it for me all for a very reasonable price. AFTER.

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March 21, 2010. Since I already had the transmission out, I decided to put in a new clutch kit and flywheel. Here are pictures of the old and the new.

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March 21, 2010.
I replaced the downdraft tube neck with a plug to hopefully stop the oil from leaking all over the back of the motor and blowing into my bell housing onto my new clutch.

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May 6, 2010. I found a set of reupholstered seats on Ebay and installed them today. BEFORE.

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May 6, 2010.
I found a set of reupholstered seats on Ebay and installed them today. AFTER.

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May 24, 2010.
White smoke and no power = I blew something or other. I just finished pulling the intake and heads off of my 327. I still need to disassemble the heads further, get everything cleaned up and inspected for wear, cracks, etc. Hopefully there's no damage to anything but the gaskets/seals.

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May 28, 2010. The heads have been disassembled, cleaned, and I took everything to the local machine shop to have them looked at. Good news! No cracks or bent rods/valves so I put the heads back together. Here are some pictures of the heads and valves after I cleaned them.

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May 28, 2010. I made sure I kept track of which head bolt went back into which hole by numbering them according to the torque sequence.

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May 28, 2010. Here are the valves before I cleaned them.

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May 28, 2010. Here are the valves after I cleaned them. Only one a slight burr that needed to be knocked off to keep it from sticking.

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May 29, 2010. Today I put the heads, pushrods, rockers, etc. back on the block. My next plan is to pull the carb off of the intake and clean/detail the intake and get it back onto the motor. Here's what the motor looks like now.

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May 30, 2010. Today I cleaned and installed the intake, carb, distributor, and headers. Here’s what the motor looks like now.

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October 7, 2010. I fired up the Nova and drove it to the gas station to fill it up. She wouldn't start after gassing her up. I checked and there was no spark. The next day I checked and the problem was a faulty ignition coil resistor. At least it was a simple and cheap fix.

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Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 09/26/11 05:20 PM

August 12, 2011. Beginning of the tear down process in preparation of the upcoming full restoration.

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August 12, 2011. I built a stand to hold my fenders so they don't get damaged or bent out of shape.

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August 12, 2011. Here is my Borg Warner T-10 4-speed with aluminum bell housing. The transmission only has 661 miles on it since it's rebuild. I plan on replacing it with a 5-speed.

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September 3, 2011.
I pulled the engine with some help from my son.

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September 3, 2011. Most of the front end is now in my basement.

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September 17, 2011. Removed the brake master cylinder, power steering gearbox, and the fuel/brake lines attached to the front subframe.

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September 24, 2011. Just pulled the frame off of the Nova.

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September 24, 2011. Just pulled the frame off of the Nova. Ok, I don't normally pose for the camera but since this is my first frame off restoration I had to do it.

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September 24, 2011. Here are the body mount bushings. The rubber is cracked completely through and the metal sleeves on the bushings are rotted away. To think this is what was holding the frame onto the car!

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September 25, 2011. I removed the front suspension from the frame.

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Here's the frame with most everything removed.

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waynep7122
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 1130
Joined: 08/09
Posted: 09/26/11 05:22 PM

one thing.. when putting this back together..

you will want to know that on the forward body support brackets that stick out.. you see the 2 large holes where the body mounts went..  did you notice the smaller holes outboard  of those...

those are almost always for the subframe alignment to the body...

usually a steel rod is inserted into each hole to verify that the sub frame is aligned with the body... when you tighten it...

sometimes you can use a straight sided pin punch..  sometimes you need something a little longer..

this lets the guys working under the car at the factory know that they have the subframe aligned when they are tightening it up.. so the guys putting the front sheet metal on know it will fit properly..  

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Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 09/26/11 05:25 PM

I didn't know that, thanks Wayne Laugh  

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waynep7122
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 1130
Joined: 08/09
Posted: 09/26/11 05:35 PM

wow... going all the way...

you might want to take a tape measure..      go straight across the gap between the upper control arm mounting brackets.. on the inside where the shims fit..

there is a specific distance between those...   some cars are effected with cross member sag... causing problems when the time to do a proper alignment is...   it also makes in extreme cases hard to get a motor mount bolt through the frame brackets.. goes good on one side...    won't fit without a big pry bar on the other..


take a close look at dimension C..    30 9/16

Nova Crash Diagram  

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chevelle83
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2280
Joined: 11/09
Posted: 09/26/11 06:50 PM

glad to hear your doing well mike!!  nice to see you bringin the nova up to the next level.

the tear down is looking good, you shouldnt have any trouble getting it back together.


Hey check out my thread    "1986 K10 restoration"   me and my brother did the tear down and assembly and had a friend that is a real body and paint guy paint it.  

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idrivejunk
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 5119
Joined: 12/09
Posted: 09/26/11 07:08 PM

This is awesome, I love to watch. Cool  Good to see you back Mike  Smile  Nice neat teardown job, let me pull up a lawn chair!  
idrivejunk

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redneckjoe69
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2337
Joined: 03/10
Posted: 09/27/11 12:43 PM

keep the pics coming Mike.  i look forward to seeing your restoration.  heck, your car looked great to start with in my opinion. Cool  

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Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 09/27/11 05:49 PM

Awesome schematic Wayne.  I'll put that to good use.  Any and all help is appreciated especially since this is my first time.  Breaking the cherry sorta speak.  Some of you remember my head gasket job I did a while back.  Another one of my first times.  I learn fast and pay attention to detail and feel confident enough.  Of course I have an awesome support group here.  So far the hardest part of this tear down was pulling the coil springs.  Yes I used spring compressors so I wouldn't catch one in the forehead.  

Chevelle, I'm definetely going to check out your K10.  Yeah, my Nova has treated me well and it's been fun driving her for the last 3 years, but she deserves the full treatment and some upgrades along the way.

IDJ, it's good be back.  Miss ya man!  I'll keep detailed photos of my progress.  I know it's not going to happen over night, but I'll be patient and make sure it gets done right.  You know me, neat clean and organized.  You should see my colletion of well labeled zip lock bags I have already.  Oh, if you're ever in my neck of the woods, I have a lawn chair and beer with your name on it.

Thanks Joe, it did look pretty good, but remember white hides a lot.  I've done a lot of the work already.  I've done the interior already so all I have to do is remove it again when I'm ready to do the body so I don't mess it up.  All the wiring and fuse block is new too.  

Slowly but surely I'll get there.  My goal is to have a better than new car when I'm done.  Stronger and of course faster!  

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waynep7122
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 1130
Joined: 08/09
Posted: 09/27/11 07:39 PM

i don't know what you are planning with the control arms...

but you will want to read this article on replacing the bushings...


http://www.chevyhiperformance.com/techarticles/0711ch_control_arm_bushings/viewall.html


you are probably going to want to invest in some kind of NON rotating head vice...

i don't know if the 30 buck versions from harbor freight will work.. but they might...

keep the receipt..  

Image 2157

you are probably going to want a decent handled 32 ounce ball pein hammer...

Image 10083

you might want to invest in a better quality hammer than whats at HF. with a forged head.. not a cast head...

i have one i bought in 1979.. still use it almost every day..   got one of the import versions also.. head chips away ...

you will want to be sure to recall that you want to tighten the upper and lower control arm bushings ONLY with the car at ride height..  so the bushings won't be in a twist at ride height..  which will cause them to fail quickly..  

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Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 10/01/11 06:19 AM

Very cool, Wayne, thanks!  I'm thinking polyurethane bushings all around the car.  Control arms, body mounts, leaf springs, etc.  I've considered swapping the control arms out for a set of tubulars or just stripping and powdercoating the stocks.  Problem is, I haven't found a set of tubulars that will work with a 79 Nova.  I want to keep stock ride height.  I'm not interested in lowering the car.  

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idrivejunk
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 5119
Joined: 12/09
Posted: 10/01/11 07:10 AM

Global West has you hooked up, Mike!  Laugh  Geometry changes but not necessarily ride height.

http://globalwest.net/1975-79nova.html  
idrivejunk

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Mikes79
Big Block power for the win
Posts: 998
Joined: 07/09
Posted: 10/02/11 05:26 PM

ID, that's like a candy store online for me right now!  You know how long I've been researching suspension upgrades for 4th Novas and I've never heard of Global West before?  Too long.  Any tips when I put it back together concerning tow in/out and how to determine how many shims and where to put them on the upper control arms?  

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idrivejunk
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 5119
Joined: 12/09
Posted: 10/02/11 07:13 PM

Aw man, a buddy of mine had a 78 and it seems like he got some stuff from there so I surfed it and lo and behold ... there ya go, don't hurt yourself or go blind looking at that stuff. I'm sure you can put the Nova on rails using their upgrades.

On eyeball alignments, I ain't much. I usually put back what shims it had and drive it to an alignment shop for a "four wheel" alignment (not that they can adjust the rear wheels but they need to reference the thrust angle). I'm sure GW can tell you all you'll need to know about setting up the new goodies, if the instructions are vague. I say that but we know thats not always the case. I've never installed tubular control arms, just some lowering stuff. My best tip is find the OLDEST alignment tech you can, take it to him when you're done, and chances are your ride will drive like poetry in motion. Get a printout of the specs, and try to have the same guy re-check the alignment after a year or so. You may get the "Our machine doesn't go back that far" response at some shops. You need a guy who just knows what drives good. Gonna be real similar to what works in a Camaro.

Wayne's link on doing bushings is a good one, I like it.  
idrivejunk

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chevelle83
I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2280
Joined: 11/09
Posted: 10/02/11 10:00 PM

Icon QuoteMikes79:
ID, that's like a candy store online for me right now!  You know how long I've been researching suspension upgrades for 4th Novas and I've never heard of Global West before?  Too long.  Any tips when I put it back together concerning tow in/out and how to determine how many shims and where to put them on the upper control arms?

mike,,,, put all the shims back in the control arms that you took out when putting it back together.

when you replace all those bushings, and ball joints,,,, they will NOT be like the factory ones any way so the toe, caster , and camber will be waaaay off.

 when I rebuild a suspension I put the shims back, then use a nylon string, get a helper to hold it at the rear of the car, pull it across the center line of the tires on the face side, and bring the string close to the wheel adjust the steering box to the center,,

then pull the string tight and bring it close to the wheel, you will be able to tell where the toe is ONLY   adjust the tie rod sleeve to bring it to where the string contacts both sides of the tire at the same time.

do the same thing with the opposite side of the car,,,,, with out a lot of tools and the know how to set up the caster and camber  properly   you cant do it at home.

using the string it will get you to the alignment shop safely,,,, pay the money and watch them do it.

the caster, camber  it what allows the car to follow the road properly and maintain the proper tread contact to the ground.

the camber is what makes the wheel return to the center when you turn and let go of the wheel,,, the weight of the car makes that happen.

the caster is set to keep the tire square with the road,,,

notice when you turn the wheel on your daily driver,,,,it tilts the tires into the turn,,,, that tilt is the degrees of camber that forces the wheel straight while driving.


if set up properly you will seem to never need to rotate the tires,,,,, cause they will all wear almost the same,,,,,,,
 
 most chevys will do that,,,,,, all mine do  cause I rebuild the suspensions cause that is cheaper than 1 new set of tires!!  Smile  

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