1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:08 pm

Progress!!

Finished welding in the patches where the previous owner hacked holes for speakers. My welding skills got better as I progressed but I still have a ways to go before I want to attempt something that is more cosmetic.

I also tackled the crusty header panel repair. The side of my original panel was good but the bottom where the battery tray was had a lot of rot. I had planned to just make a flat panel and weld it back together. Then I stumbled on to an NOS one on eBay. Paid more than I should have but what the hey. It was not an exact match so I am guessing it was for a Monza. It was close enough and with some persuasion it fit pretty well.

Here is the original post dissection.
header a.jpg
Original piece.
header a.jpg (91.24 KiB) Viewed 179 times


It actually came out easier than I expected. Drilled out about a dozen or so spot welds and it pulled right out.
header 1.jpg
Removed.
header 1.jpg (105.24 KiB) Viewed 179 times


Test fitting. The shape on the bottom was a little different so I trimmed it a bit. I also had to make some replacement pieces for the bottom of the front part of the header panel. It had a number of small rust holes
Header 2.jpg
Test fit
Header 2.jpg (65.22 KiB) Viewed 179 times


I welded it in a bit at a time mainly with welding through the original spot weld locations. I ran a full bead on the two cut edges. I'll grind them a bit but I am planning to put in a new battery tray here so much of it will be hidden.
header 3.jpg
Welded in place
header 3.jpg (85.74 KiB) Viewed 179 times


I need to trim the front edge a bit but I am pretty pleased on the results.
header 4.jpg
Welded in place
header 4.jpg (89.14 KiB) Viewed 179 times
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:18 pm

What an awesome weekend! 70 degrees in NE Ohio in mid February works for me. :th:

Rolled the Formula out for some sun and to warm up the metal so I could hit it with some primer. I still have some metal work to do in the engine compartment but I was starting to worry that the bare steel would start to rust up. Sprayed on some SEM self etching primer.
primed1.jpg
Primer
primed1.jpg (85.62 KiB) Viewed 167 times
primed2.jpg
primed2.jpg (78.89 KiB) Viewed 167 times

It's nice to see some progress. Makes me motivated to keep plugging away a bit at a time.
Formula Spyder.jpg
Formula Spyder or Spyder Formula?
Formula Spyder.jpg (68.93 KiB) Viewed 167 times

Next up is patching the left inner wheel well, the firewall where the AC was mounted, and I need to do something where the clutch cable passes through the fire wall.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:29 pm

This fantastic 65-70 degree weather in February for NE Ohio is motivating me to get stuff done!!

Patched this hole in the left front wheel well. It was crusty but solid underneath the skin.
Hole1.jpg
Hole
Hole1.jpg (78.01 KiB) Viewed 153 times


Made a template out of cardboard.
hole2.jpg
Template
hole2.jpg (65.66 KiB) Viewed 153 times


Cut out some 22 gauge steel and MIG welded it in.
hole3.jpg
Welded patch
hole3.jpg (67.06 KiB) Viewed 153 times


Ground down the welds some. Probably should have done a bit more but the grinder can't get in behind the brace.
hole4.jpg
Grind...
hole4.jpg (63.96 KiB) Viewed 153 times


Threw on some primer.
hole5.jpg
Primer
hole5.jpg (44.92 KiB) Viewed 153 times


Thinking I'll skim it a bit just to make it transparent. Pretty happy with the progress the past week.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby sportriderok » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:17 pm

You should be happy, it's looking good!
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:38 pm

sportriderok wrote:You should be happy, it's looking good!


Thank you!!! My first welds were horrible but I think I have the hang of it now. Still developing the skill for sure!
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:25 pm

More welding repair... The AC unit held a lot of moisture and rotted out part of the firewall.
Blower a.jpg
Rotted
Blower a.jpg (77.46 KiB) Viewed 136 times


I thought a lot of how to fix this. I started by trimming out the worst parts.
Blower 1.jpg
Trimmed
Blower 1.jpg (48.26 KiB) Viewed 136 times


I needed to recreate the bottom part of the blower wheel hole so the Donor Monza was kind enough to supply a piece.
Blower 2.jpg
Donor Monza patch
Blower 2.jpg (60.07 KiB) Viewed 136 times


I figured the easiest way to fix this would be to weld in a plate over everything first. Next I will cut the holes from the inside under the dash. I plan to weld a few more spots inside too.
Blower 3.jpg
Plate
Blower 3.jpg (68.22 KiB) Viewed 136 times


I need to fix the welds on the left of the plate and then I will grind them all flat. I'll prime it once all that is done. Then I will need to fabricate the fresh air intake box under the dash. Another buddy send me a chunk of firewall with a non-AC blower wheel box. This is the same shape as the AC one so I should be able to use it and just cut a hole for the flapper assembly.

I feel like I am making a lot of progress with this unseasonably warm weather. :th:
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:24 am

78 degrees in NE Ohio yesterday and supposed to snow today. :(

Trimmed out the holes in my firewall repair. Still need some cleaning up but I'm liking my progress. I hope to remake the fresh air intake for the AC today and get that welded back into place.
Holes cut.jpg
Holes cut.jpg (11.77 KiB) Viewed 116 times


I was really concerned about the A pillar on the Formula when I got it home. I assumed I'd need to cut the entire piece out and weld in a new one. Apparently, the previous owner was driving the radio and drifted off the road and into a solid steel mailbox. Smashed the pillar good. The more I looked at it I realized that there was an outer skin over the frame so I drilled out four spot welds and made a couple cuts with the cutoff wheel.
A Pillar 1.jpg
Smashed A-Pillar
A Pillar 1.jpg (89.81 KiB) Viewed 116 times


The skin came off pretty easy. It was pretty crusty inside which was surprising to me.
A Pillar 2.jpg
Crusty
A Pillar 2.jpg (54.4 KiB) Viewed 116 times


There was one bit on the frame that was bent but I took the hammer and dolly to it and straightened it out.
A Pillar 3.jpg
Straightened
A Pillar 3.jpg (51.69 KiB) Viewed 116 times


Used the grinder and some sand blasting to clean it up a bit. I'll prime the inside and use some weld through primer before welding in a patch from the donor Monza.
A Pillar 4.jpg
Cleaned
A Pillar 4.jpg (81.75 KiB) Viewed 116 times
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:42 am

Nearly complete on the firewall repairs.

The AC held moisture and rotted out part of the firewall and completely destroyed the fresh air intake.

Intake 1.jpg
Before
Intake 1.jpg (95.08 KiB) Viewed 101 times

A buddy sent me a chunk of a non-AC car's firewall to use. The box is nearly the same shape but doesn't have the hole for the flapper assembly. I took my flapper assembly and laid it onto the non-AC box. I marked out the general hole location and cut, test fit, trimmed, test fit, cut some more, and got it to fit pretty well. The new box was welded in with a number of spot welds onto the firewall and inside the cowl.

Intake 2.jpg
After
Intake 2.jpg (99.78 KiB) Viewed 101 times

Once welded in place, I painted the inside (after it was stripped) with an oil based Rustoleum for protection. I will seal it up the rest of the way with a quality seam sealer.

Intake 3.jpg
Painted
Intake 3.jpg (62.44 KiB) Viewed 101 times

Next up, is repairing the area where the clutch cable passes through the firewall. It was cracked and rewelded before I got the car. It's still cracked and looks pretty bad.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:17 pm

Tackled the A-pillar issue today. I really thought I'd need to cut out the whole A-pillar. Fortunately, I just needed to remove the skin part and graft in another one from the donor Monza.

Pillar 1.jpg
Donor pillar
Pillar 1.jpg (34.83 KiB) Viewed 91 times

I tried to make the gaps as close as possible but they came out a bit wide. I had to fill some with welding.

Pillar 2.jpg
Fitting
Pillar 2.jpg (90.53 KiB) Viewed 91 times

After welding and grinding and welding and grinding I got it as best I could. Could have been better but once I put on some filler it will blend out good. Still want to get the whole car blasted before doing any real body filler work.

Pillar 3.jpg
Grinding.
Pillar 3.jpg (89.56 KiB) Viewed 91 times

Before and After.

Pillar 4.jpg
Before/After
Pillar 4.jpg (124.69 KiB) Viewed 91 times

I'll be travelling for the next three weeks for work so probably not much will get done. :( I do plan on hitting a yard next week for parts and hope to pick up some parts from a buddy on the third week.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby sportriderok » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:06 pm

Man, Kevin, I admire your determination! I'd love to try doing half the stuff that you are, but I always chicken out. I love your attitude, "Oh well, just cut it out and weld a new piece in." Your posts are very inspiring to those of us with stalled projects.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:21 pm

sportriderok wrote:Man, Kevin, I admire your determination! I'd love to try doing half the stuff that you are, but I always chicken out. I love your attitude, "Oh well, just cut it out and weld a new piece in." Your posts are very inspiring to those of us with stalled projects.

Thanks! I had planned on working on my red coupe (my profile pic) but I was afraid to take it apart. This one, no fear on taking it apart! :lol:

It is coming along. I have a lot more little things to do on it before I'll really feel like I'm making serious progress. I hope to patch the clutch cable area on the firewall next. The cowl needs some serious blasting and cleaning. The floors are the next big project which won't be too challenging but I am considering getting my brothers bead roller to make them look somewhat original. The doors need work (don't they all?), there is one hole in the left quarter, and dent in the right quarter. I have several sets of fenders but all need some work. Still scrounging some parts but I have a hood, another header panel, and a steering column on the way.

I still plan to put it on a rotisserie so I can strip the underside. I want to get that cleaned and painted then rebuild the front suspension with AJE a-arms, S-10 spindles, and upgraded brakes. Still need to decide on a rear end. I think I need to upgrade to something bigger but still want to use a torque arm. I'd like to build a 12-bolt with the torque arm mount which isn't cheap ($600 just for the housing center section). The torque arm will need to be modified to be a cross member mounted version or tunnel mounted since I am changing the transmission to a modern 6-speed.

Still need to finalize on engine/transmission but really planning the LS3/6-spd manual. May opt for one pulled from a wrecked car since the Connect-and-Cruise one I want is $12k+ and would still need an accessory drive which is another $1k+.

Ah...I need to win the lottery.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:18 am

I spent some time yesterday sandblasting out the inside of the cowl. Sadly, there are a number of small pin holes in the cowl that will need to be addressed. I am thinking metal prep, POR-15, and maybe a thin layer of fiberglass and resin. It is too thin to weld up the holes but I may be able to patch from below to a degree. I do think I need to line it with something as I would fear missing a hole here or there.

cowl2.jpg
cowl2.jpg (72.37 KiB) Viewed 46 times

Note to self: find a more solid car next time. :lol:
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby Monza Harry » Sun Mar 05, 2017 4:11 pm

Kevin I don't think you will be happy with the FiberGlass repair in the long term. There always seem to be delamination issues due to the differential expansion and contraction rates. While that is pretty thin for welding you might consider brazing, that would then be a "period correct" repair :lol: ! I remeber seeing on "Muscle Car" [?] the host filling in the pitting on a former "Vinyl Roof" car with brazing rod and a TIG welder, I haven't seen it done in person or tried it, but a $200 Horror Fright invertor Tig might just be the answer, it will be tough to get in there though with out peeling of the lid or worse yet upside dowm from inside! :bang: :cuss: :censored: Now off to search out that techinque. Harry
Harry added Later wrote: Here is a couple of links not as much info as I would like, but enough for me to get "Brave" on some scrap for a "prctice run" Harry http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/tig ... azing.html http://www.weldability-sif.com/media/si ... razing.pdf https://ca.search.yahoo.com/search;_ylc ... s&ei=UTF-8
Last edited by Monza Harry on Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby RedFiveKBS » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:16 pm

Harry, maybe I can talk my brother to come TIG it up. He has all those kinds of toys.

I think I will give the POR-15 patch product a try. It sounds like it would be perfect. Then I'll put down a coat of POR-15 then prime & paint.

por15 patch.jpg
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Re: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Formula: Project Phoenix

Postby Kenova » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:40 pm

How much work is involved with pulling the top of the cowl off as Harry suggested?
If it wasn't in the way you would probably find it a lot easier to do the repair.

Ken
My other car is a Nova.
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