Thursday, June 16, 2016

Back to the Body Shop

Here we go for round two. The Nova has been enjoying the salty air for two summers and winters and a few of the under-the-skin cancers have popped through the paint and bondo.

The metal repairs around the windows are holding great but the rust in the roof that was not treated (We never took out the headliner... read fail.) popped through and needs some new steel. Also the lousy paint job on the hood failed miserably so we are going to strip the whole car down to bare metal and (hopefully) fix it right.

This car will not sit outside at the beach again... somebody is going to have to get a garage!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Give me a Break

The Master Cylinder and Power booster bailed. If its good enough for Popular Hot Rodding its good enough for me, so we put in a CPP Front Disc / Rear Drum kit in the Nova.

Since the car was at the beach with no garage and no tools to bleed the breaks handy, we will-called the parts at Classic Industries in Huntington Beach and had the swap done at Pep Boys in Costa Mesa. They almost got it right, but after a second trip to Pep Boys the car is stopping again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back to the Beach

The Nova headed back to the beach today. Is there more to do? Always. But you've got to enjoy them for a while between projects and there are a few things I need to do on the old girl who finally gets her place back in the garage.
Our version of Scooter and the Big Man.

"Hey Dad how about an LS2 swap?"
Father and Son bonding. "I've fallen and I can't get up."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Coil Overs for the Front

After driving the Nova for a few weeks it became apparent that the front end had settled a little too much with the 2" drop spindles and the 2" drop pocket in the A-arms, the springs settled and the ride height dropped to the point the passenger tire would rub on turns. Since only driving in a straight line was not an option I needed to resolve the issue. With an extra 1" of lift and taller bump stops are needed.

Lift Options
The easy fix would be spring isolaters on top and bottom of the springs which should give me an extra ~1" of suspension lift. The challenge with this is, since I am are right on the edge of the ride height if there is any more settling, I'd be right back in the same boat.

An interesting alternative would be Adjustable Spring Spacers from All Star Performance Racing.These would allow me to dial in ride height and the pockets in these a-arms would be the perfect spot for these to sit. For only $40 this is a poor-mans adjustable suspension. My only observation is... these do not appear to be adjustable on the car. My guess is you would need to drop the lower a-arm to turn the base also there is no lock nut to keep it from rotating.

Another option is to pick another spring. The big challenge with that is we would still be guessing at what the final ride height would be.
I decided to go with a set of QA1 coil over shock/springs. These offer the advantage of being able to dial in the ride height on the car.

The installation on these is pretty straight forward. My advice is to definitely buy the wrench set and the thrust bearings. I got the non-adjustable shocks (this is to adjust how stiff the shock valving is the ride height is adjustable with the coil-over). In addition, I also highly recommend using the anti-seize as recommended in the instructions.

After removing my old springs and shocks the QA1s are a simple bolt-in. After assembly and putting anti-seize on the bearing washers and the threads, first I attached the shock at the top of the shock tower. Then I fed two long bolts from the bottom of the a-arm up through the feet on the shock and I put nuts on the bolts to keep them from falling out. I put a floor jack under the lower a-arm and compressed the shock and spring while guiding the lower ball joint into the spindle.

The long bolts guided the shock right into place so I could removed the temporary bolts and install the QA1 supplied bolts and aircraft nuts. After securing all the bolts to attach the shocks the real fun started.

QA1 sells a pair of spanner wrenches that fit the upper and lower nuts. Turning the wrench to raise the ride height is an exercise. The instructions recommend raising the nut to the mid-point for a stock height. Since the Nova car was sitting about an 1" lower than I would like I cranked the shocks up to 3/4's of the way. But when I put the car down the ride height was just slightly higher. So I cranked the springs all the way up when I put the car down it was in the same place as before and the springs were coil bound! In essence I had just compressed the springs. I cranked the spring back down to mid way and called it a day.

The next day I called QA1 and they told me either the shock was too short and I was getting shock bind or the springs too weak and they could not lift the car. I was concerned about the shock length because of the pockets in the lower a-arms the shocks sit 2" lower than stock. I had ordered the 350 lb springs which were recommended for a small block Chevy. Update: These were too weak and would not even lift the car, so we ordered and installed a set of 450 lb springs. 

After considering getting shock extenders, I came to the conclusion that when the shocks are on and the car is jacked up the suspension left the tires with a 3-4" gap between the top of the tire and fender well. This would mean I should be able to raise the car that high with the spring before the shock reached its full extension. The shock length was not the problem. The next day I called Summit and had them ship me a set of 450 lb. springs.

While I waited for the springs to arrive I removed the QA1's and sat the suspension all the way down to just before the tire would contact the inner fender well. I found I needed a 2-1/8 bump stop as opposed to the 1" bump stop that came with the a-arms. A quick run to Pep Boys resulted in a pair of beehive bump stops from Energy Suspension. This is the perfect height and will insure we bump before we rub.

Once the springs arrived we reassembled the shocks with the new springs. Here's Scooter (my son) re-attaching the shock and getting ready to try out the cool spanner wrenches to crank up those springs. I figured I did the first set he could do these. After adjusting the nuts to just under 1/2 way up the collar we put everything back together, put the wheels back on and the car and it sat down right were we wanted!

With everything reattached and torqued down, we took the Nova for a spin around town and everything felt great with no more rubbing. Right now its maybe 1/2" too high, but we are going to leave it to see if it settles. We can tweak it in a few weeks if needed. Tomorrow its back to the alignment shop for a final adjustment and we should be good to go! Bottom line... order 450 lb QA1 springs for your SBC Nova.

After another quick home alignment, we took the Nova to the alignment shop for a "tune-up". This time I slid the tech a $20 and he quite frankly... nailed it.

Power Steering Pump Replacement

This weekend I replaced the Power Steering pump with a Cardone remanufactured Power Steering Pump part number 20-6000F. This was a pretty straight forward swap with the exception that the high pressure fitting was a female end (top arrow) and my hose requires a male fitting. This was no big deal as I wanted to used my modified fitting and higher pressure plunger from the pump mod so this was swapped on the bench.

The big drama was the low pressure fitting points down (bottom arrow) on these pumps and this ran right into the frame / engine cradle. The solution was to cut the low pressure line where it would come straight out the back. Since this fitting just uses a hose clamp, I double clamped it and hoped for the best.

The test drive was great. The squeal is gone and I can steer with one hand again and there are no leaks. If you replace your steering box, plan on replacing the pump as well.