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Old 05-09-2017, 12:58 PM   #1
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Chucks 87 GTA

So, I've shared this story my couple of times on here but I figured I would go ahead and make my own thread on my car. I inherited this car on November 17th of 2016 11 days after my stepfather passed away. Chuck was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and after getting half of his left lung removed he got a clean bill of health, just in time to have a rotator surgery. shortly after getting his right shoulder replaced his left went out, bone was to soft to drill in to so, total replacement. couple months later, right shoulder again. needless to say, by this point he was on disability (hadn't been back to work for almost 2 years) and was diagnosed with cancer in his other lung, inoperable. he was give about 5 years to live with chemo twice a week. totally broke from all of the medical bills and depressed he felt completely helpless and hopeless. then one day he got a letter from the disability office informing him that he would get back pay from the 2 years he was off of work prior to applying for it, this raised his spirits a bit and was able to chip away at some of his other medical bills, and other debt. once he got all of his monthly stuff figured out, and got into a routine with the chemo, radiation and fluids he figured he would get a car to work on for the last couple of years he was still here. He was looking for a 1959 Studebaker, and ended up with an 87' GTA. he purchased the car from a guy that lived about 5 minutes from his house for $1900. the first time I saw the car I had no idea what it was, all I saw was the gaping hole in the driver side door, the jacked up fender and the partially tinted back window. 3 months after he got the car he passed away. All he was able to do with it was replace 1 headlight motor, and drove it a total of 6 times. When I found out he left the car to me in the will I was completely dumbfounded and had no real idea what I was going to do with it, my mother made me promise to 1, never sell the car and 2, do whatever I thought chuck would do to it. so, after cleaning out my garage for the first time in 9 years, I picked up the car and drove it home, my wife in the mean time picked up a new toolbox for me and it was sitting in the garage when I got home, and that's where my adventure and third gen education all starts. now keep in mind, im not a mechanic, body man, electrician or anything of the sorts. I don't have the appropriate funds to do a proper rebuild and I never planned or budgeted for it. with that being said a lot of the things I do may not be proper or accurate, but knowing what chuck would have done is the whole motivation behind this build/ restoration.

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Old 05-09-2017, 12:59 PM   #2
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


chucks gta before he passed
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:43 PM   #3
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


beat up fender



jacked up clear coat


missing badge


big hole where the lock used to be
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:45 PM   #4
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

its funny, I thought things like the missing badge and chipping clear coat were big deals 6 months ago, I guess when you start digging the hole the first couple shovel fulls seem heavy but one your a few feet in it seems silly to have worried about it.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


first time the bird is in the new nest


new box from the wife to park next to the firebird
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:50 PM   #6
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

after I got it in the garage it just sat for a few weeks, I had no idea where to start, and that when I discovered TGO, I figured I had a decent source of information to pick through for when, not if, I got in over my head.
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Old 05-09-2017, 01:52 PM   #7
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


before the new support my hatch was literally on crutches


old supports and old crutch. next to the interior of my donor door.


I started with the easy things, I couldn't see out of the back glass due to really old tint, and I couldn't confidently sit in the back because of bad hatch shocks, so with some fingernail polish remover, a fan and a crutch I got to work.

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Old 05-09-2017, 01:54 PM   #8
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, Zech 4:10.

Many stories like yours on this board. Never give up. Keep at it, and one day you will do your stepfather proud! (and mother, and self, and wife)

We're here to help, have been there, and want to give back.
Good Luck
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:09 PM   #9
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Sorry to hear about your Stepdad. He had a vision. As long as you have a good foundation in anything you find, and have the zeal and determination to make it happen, you will be fine.

There's a tremendous amount of information and talented members on here and are willing to help. Just speak up and good luck on your new adventure!!
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:17 PM   #10
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

the reason i got new seats.
passenger side of my old spoiler
at the end of January I saw a post on here for some 1987 trans am gta seats for sale for 450, all original and in perfect condition, only problem they were in Baltimore, I'm in Cincinnati. about a 500 mile difference. I messaged the person that posted them (transaero) and asked him if he could hold the for me for 2 weeks so I could plan out the trip, he did and on February 10, we took off for Baltimore. on the way I made sure to check the local craigslistings and managed to score a new spoiler only about 60 miles from the seats and only $200. best part of the whole trip was that my wife was excited to go and we got to take chucks truck. seemed fitting

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Old 05-09-2017, 02:24 PM   #11
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


new spoiler, not mounted but had to get a pic

it needs some work, but its original and no rust.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:32 PM   #12
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is it fixable? idk but were gonna find out


after about 4 hours of sanding... next coat goes on this weekend

now that I had started accumulating some parts, and a bit of knowledge, I had become accustomed to the smell and the feel of the car, was able to figure out just the right spot for the car in the garage, along with my tool box and new tools that I also inherited it was time to really start digging in. I was looking to tackle the body issues, namely the bumper door and fender. I started with the bumper, I did a lot of reading on fiberglass repair, was it worth fixing the front bumper? I had never dealt with fiberglass before but I figured what the heck, if I screw it up to bad I'll replace it. I started digging around TGO and realized it wasn't fiberglass... time to start over, did a lot of reading on PLASTIC repair, figured out that bondo makes a plastic filler for bumpers and asked a couple of questions on kevin g. thread "lets take the guesswork out of plastic repair!!!" and thanks to W.E.G I was inspired to give it a whirl, after all if I really muff it up I can just buy a new one right?
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:38 PM   #13
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



my new seats that we drove 1100 miles for


just realized I mentioned going on a trip to get new seats but didn't post a picture of them.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:43 PM   #14
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


donor door... thank you for your service. you will be remembered...

now that I had some of the body work going it was time to start looking at fixing the big body issues, the fender and door. first I had to source a door. craigslist didn't let me down and I found one about 40 miles from me for $40. after talking to the guy I purchased it from and telling him that I was planning on replacing my existing door he told me that if it was his car he would just cut out the bad spot and weld in a new piece of steel.... I'm no welder, never welded a day in my life. but.... I work with about a dozen of them and at least half of them can actually weld. so I asked around and found a guy that said he would do it for free (thank you Austin).
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:48 PM   #15
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all preped for surgery tomorrow. surgery delayed due to sick welder.


cut out the bad stuff


found the original door lock inside the door


just waiting for the welder and we will be back to normal


first bit of bondo to the door lock

So, after figuring out when Austin was able to come over we settled on me cutting out the doors and being the brave soul to hold it in place while he welded, we got a bit of warp but who am I to complain, I cant weld. on the plus side when I cut out the bad spot I discovered the original lock still attached to the door. so now I have the original locks in the car with the original keys. I also have a spare set of locks from ebay and all the guts out of an 88 trans am door with power lock and manual windows and a big chunk of what used to be a door for me to practice welding with my new welder.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:57 PM   #16
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I must note, I do have a paint and body guy lined up, he knows that I'm going to try to do as much as I can myself and I'm willing to pay the consequences (monetarily I'm sure) if anything I screw up and he has to redo. he offered to do the whole car but a very reasonable price (5000-5500) but I told him I wanted to have the experience of working on it myself. Also, if the car in no 100% perfect I can still say that im the one that did it. And so far it has paid off I think, driving this car after I've spent countless hours working on the body, and engine, working on the rear end, the interior ect gives you a new sort of connection to the car that you can never get from having someone else work on it.
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Old 05-09-2017, 03:01 PM   #17
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


bondo time!!!


first real bath. more bondo to come

while waiting on the welder and after he was done working his magic I started working on the bubbled up spots in the paint, I sanded the spots down to bare metal and got rid of any oxidation on the steel, nothing really rusted, just starting to turn dark grey/ black, not pitted yet. after sanding cleaned the surface off with denatured alcohol the distilled water. after the bondo was sanded I used cheap primer just to cover it, I wont make that mistake again, cheap primer is a bear to sand
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Old 05-09-2017, 03:10 PM   #18
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


mismatched center caps.


new center caps! was previously missing one and had 1 silver one

while continuing to work on random parts of the body (seemed like new spots would pop up every time I looked) I started ordering random little things that I knew I would need, like center caps and lug nuts, I look at it as progress even though its small progress. I decided not to put on the new lug nuts until I could pull off the wheels and put on new brakes. no need to do it twice right?

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Old 05-09-2017, 03:13 PM   #19
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


350 much

snapped a few pics of the engine bay and showed to some guys at work, one of them used to have a firebird and wanted to see what I had. He also gave me some pointers on how to delete the smog pump and accessories, and after some reading on TGO I started the planning process
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Old 05-09-2017, 03:18 PM   #20
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


leaking rear diff seal replaced, nasty black oil replaced as well


resealed the rear diff, sanded and painted up a little bit underneth too

Being kind of stuck on what to do next I decided to figure out what the biggest problem was, and it was the rear diff leak. I had no idea what was involved, I talked to some people, researched on TGO and watched youtube videos. scared witless that i was going to screw something up I started calling around to see if anyone around me could do it, I was chickening out. And then I read a thread on here (im sorry to say ive forgotten which one) about how easy it is to replace the rear diff seal and I decide to man up and give it a try, plus if I screw it up a tow truck isn't that expensive right? so I tore into it and got it done in a just a few hours, also cleaned it up and painted it.

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Old 05-09-2017, 03:40 PM   #21
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Did you add the Anti Slip Additive when you changed the diff oil?
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:36 PM   #22
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I have not, I got the gasket and fluid from O'Reillys and they didn't have any additive nor did they mention anything about it. if it's a must I'll order some tonight.
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:37 PM   #23
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Sorry about your step-dad, will be following along with your GTA.
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:50 PM   #24
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



donor car all the way in Indianapolis.
found this donor car for the fender, it was in Indianapolis, about a 200 mile trip, but well worth it.
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:52 PM   #25
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



new fender transplanted into the gta, lead to all sorts of alignment problems with the hood, headlight, bumper etc. that's something I'm still working on, but it's getting closer.


new fender on the car, the fender to bumper bolts suck...
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:55 PM   #26
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



new cold air intake, heat shield still to come

I added a new intake, the existing pump was squealing pretty bad so I knew I had to do something with it. I know it's not the best but is gotta be better than factory
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:17 PM   #27
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I know chuck would not have done the intake, he was trying to keep the original smog equipment, but I think this is a better option and it looks a lot cooler. he also was planning on just shaving the handles since the lock was gone, but I've never heard anything good about shaved handles so even though that was his vision I'm still the one that's going to be driving the car so I have to make some changes so I'm comfortable with it. I did the same thing with the brakes, but that's coming up in a little bit.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:24 PM   #28
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


I purchased these brakes for the car, he would have kept factory style, whatever they sell at AutoZone, but I knew the passenger side caliper was frozen, the rotors were worn pretty bad and the pads were rusted, so I figured I'd get a little bit of style to go with the new brakes. do they work any better than factory? well only one side of the factory brakes were working, so yes, they work better than factory. do they work better than factory when factory are working properly? if I knew what properly working factory brakes were like I wouldn't have had to buy these.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:36 PM   #29
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



new powerstop brake kit, black lug nuts and center cap
these are the new brakes installed, I still need to do the back brakes, when money is available that's up next. well, I think I have this up to date not including all of the body work, the hours of sanding ect, but that's boring stuff, if I think of anything else I'll post it up. things I know will be on the near future (next 2 weeks or so) fixing the center console, fixing the gaps around the hood (ongoing fight) and trying to figure out how to tackle the spark plugs and wires (this one has been in the research stage for months) cleaning the engine bay more (seems to be some sort of wax build up on everything) and cleaning up the battery tray. I'm sure something else will pop up to distract from this list but progress is progress, it all has to get done eventually.

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Old 05-09-2017, 08:25 PM   #30
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I think Chuck is happy looking down at the car.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:44 PM   #31
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Great story and progress jworks!

You're doing great finding parts, especially the seats and spoiler.
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Old 05-09-2017, 11:03 PM   #32
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Quote:
Originally Posted by jworks View Post
So, I've shared this story my couple of times on here but I figured I would go ahead and make my own thread on my car. I inherited this car on November 17th of 2016 when my stepfather passed away. Chuck was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and after getting half of his left lung removed he got a clean bill of health, just in time to have a rotator surgery. shortly after getting his right shoulder replaced his left went out, bone was to soft to drill in to so, total replacement. couple months later, right shoulder again. needless to say, by this point he was on disability (hadn't been back to work for almost 2 years) and was diagnosed with cancer in his other lung, inoperable. he was give about 5 years to live with chemo twice a week. totally broke from all of the medical bills and depressed he felt completely helpless and hopeless. then one day he got a letter from the disability office informing him that he would get back pay from the 2 years he was off of work prior to applying for it, this raised his spirits a bit and was able to chip away at some of his other medical bills, and other debt. once he got all of his monthly stuff figured out, and got into a routine with the chemo, radiation and fluids he figured he would get a car to work on for the last couple of years he was still here. He was looking for a 1959 Studebaker, and ended up with an 87' GTA. he purchased the car from a guy that lived about 5 minutes from his house for $1900. the first time I saw the car I had no idea what it was, all I saw was the gaping hole in the driver side door, the jacked up fender and the partially tinted back window. 3 months after he got the car he passed away. All he was able to do with it was replace 1 headlight motor, and drove it a total of 6 times. When I found out he left the car to me in the will I was completely dumbfounded and had no real idea what I was going to do with it, my mother made me promise to 1, never sell the car and 2, do whatever I thought chuck would do to it. so, after cleaning out my garage for the first time in 9 years, I picked up the car and drove it home, my wife in the mean time picked up a new toolbox for me and it was sitting in the garage when I got home, and that's where my adventure and third gen education all starts. now keep in mind, im not a mechanic, body man, electrician or anything of the sorts. I don't have the appropriate funds to do a proper rebuild and I never planned or budgeted for it. with that being said a lot of the things I do may not be proper or accurate, but knowing what chuck would have done is the whole motivation behind this build/ restoration.
Subscribed, so sorry for your loss. I kind of acquired my 87 GTA through the loss of my mom. She was a country girl and was into 4x4s. She took her own life 2 years ago and I bought her old blazer. Drove it for awhile, repainted it but it hurt me Everytime I drove it so I stumbled on my GTA and traded the Blazer for it. Mine was in very bad shape but I got it to daily driver status right now. So much knowledge and willingness to help on TGO. Love this forum and all the helpful members. Don't worry about Chuck being proud when your finished, he already is.
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:58 AM   #33
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


fuses


I posted this picture in the electronics section here where bob88gta, cheerio, tootie pang and a few other helped me figure out why my radio, door locks and a few other things were not working, turns out that my CTSY fuse was blown, I'm still no sure what caused it, I'm thinking it was due to loose connections on my battery, this car has the side mount battery, no post on the top, and the neutral side screw was stripped out pretty bad, so that got replaced.
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:09 AM   #34
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


rpo codes

some of these updates are out of order, but as long as I get everything out there I guess it shouldn't matter to much, most of it is little stuff.

with some help from drew and paulo57509 I was able to decipher the pro codes, some of them I could not find on the old interweb. its kind of new how back in the day you could order specific options and completely customize the cat car you were buying, it seems like now you get to pick from base model, slightly better than base model or the super deluxe everything trimmed in gold model. I wonder how many different option combinations were actually possible in 1987?
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:30 AM   #35
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

My condolences for your loss, may his spirit live on.

Looks like you have gotten a pretty good start on that build. With some work that TA can be better than new.
Subscribing.
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:36 AM   #36
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


out cruising with my daughter


this was a couple of weeks ago when my daughter was on spring break, took the day off to go cruising with her in the firebird. we went to the movies and did some burn outs in the parking lot. funny story, we passed a white formula on the way to the movies that day and she asked me if it was a snowbird. I asked her why it would be a snow bird and she informed me that since our car is red it makes since to call it a firebird, so the white car must be snow bird. this lead me into asking her about all of the other colors and this is what I got
black= black bird
blue= blue bird
grey/silver= metal bird
yellow= sun bird
brown= (sorry guys) poop bird
green- grass bird.


back to the formula, there is a good chance that if that car is still sitting there by the end of summer I may need to get a bigger garage, because I plan on stopping by to ask about it.
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:17 PM   #37
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

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Originally Posted by jworks View Post
with some help from drew and paulo57509 I was able to decipher the pro codes, some of them I could not find on the old interweb. its kind of new how back in the day you could order specific options and completely customize the cat car you were buying, it seems like now you get to pick from base model, slightly better than base model or the super deluxe everything trimmed in gold model. I wonder how many different option combinations were actually possible in 1987?
Yep, seems like the car companies used to work for you back in the day. Now, you take the **** they're pushing, like it, and shut the hell up.
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Old 05-11-2017, 08:34 PM   #38
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA



[I]so, on my list on things i wanted to tackle was the battery tray, when i replaced the bolt going into thr battery I noticed rust around the edge of the battery so i decided to pull the battery out and this is what i found. this is a pic from after I sanded and used a steel wire brush for about 20 minutes. so I've decided it can't be cleaned up enough to be usable... so I pose a question, how do I go about repairing this? this is the first problem that I've run into that I don't have an answer to. I think ive pretty much settled on the fact that I'll have to cut out the bad and weld it new. so, I think I've got 3 options buy a sheet of steel, pray a little and hope I can get some of the shape right? use aluminum since it would be easier to bend to the correct shape (I couldn't weld it in though, maybe rivet?). or use a flat piece of steel, and maybe weld in little angles to hold the battery in place? keep on mind I have never welded before, but more than willing to try since this is a spot that's pretty well hidden.

Last edited by jworks; 05-11-2017 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:59 PM   #39
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Replacement battery trays are available. You use a spot weld cutter to drill them out. Remove the old tray and spot weld in the new one.
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:59 AM   #40
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

thank you noemissions, Ill have to look into that, I'm sure that's going to look a lot better than whatever I could come up with.
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:05 AM   #41
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


bubbles forming in the clear coat

also discovered this last night, there are bubbles forming in the clear coat even though it has been in the garage since the day after Christmas. starting to think maybe they sent over a little bit of van vuys paint to norwood just for this car (joking of course) hopefully this fall none of that will matter and it will all be painted.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:56 PM   #42
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


so, I don't have a spot weld drill, so I figured what the heck, I have a grinder, it can't be that hard. I've learned 2 things, 1 a grinder probably won't work. 2 I should probably wear shoes when grinding. any tips on how to get the tray out would be awesome
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Old 05-15-2017, 09:15 PM   #43
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

Quote:
Originally Posted by jworks View Post
but knowing what chuck would have done is the whole motivation behind this build/ restoration.
Your wife and mother are already encouraging you.
The car is just a vehicle (profound pun) for you to make them proud. They aren't going to know all the details and frustrations you are going to have to put up with. They (including Chuck) want to be proud of you - that's the end game. The car is just the vehicle to make them proud (the work of your hands; the choices you have to make). Who you become in the process (of the car's restoration) will make everyone proud including yourself.
I didn't know Chuck, but he would envision a quality build that reflects the quality of the builder's character. So my advice is to not sweat what he would want or not, but to build your own character and let the car be an outward reflection of your inward growth and strength. I'm pretty sure he would be happy with that! - your wife and mother, too! Then take care of it and maintain it.

A cutting wheel will take that off, that's how I did it. I did not replace the tray because: moving the battery to the pass side is better for handling (weight distribution), and I used the opening for my air cleaner to go down into that space on that driver's side. But, you can always replace and use a battery mat to prevent further corrosion.

Good progress, so far.
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:13 PM   #44
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I'm pretty sure that Harbor Freight has a spot weld cutter.
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:41 PM   #45
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

talking to one of the welders I work with he said if I cut it out square (rectangle) and get the size he would make a recessed battery tray 3 or 4 inches deep out of stainless that I can rivet in place. interesting option, I wouldn't have to paint it (which flame red metallic paint is seemingly impossible to come by) and I think the stainless would look pretty cool

Last edited by jworks; 05-16-2017 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 05-17-2017, 12:08 AM   #46
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

It wouldn't rust +++++.
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:08 PM   #47
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA


so, while attempting to get the battery tray out (again) I noticed what looked like what used to be a bolt in the middle of he tray, thinking that this is possibly part of what is holding the tray to the car I proceeded to round it out with a socket, get mad and grind off. much to my surprise after the bolt was gone my car dropped a ball.... literally.
I have no idea what this is, but I think that the rubber hose on it should go to one side of the 't' that I had posted elsewhere. any input on what it is, and if it is necessary would be awesome.
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:01 PM   #48
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

its a vacuum canister. Its purpose is to store vacuum so anything vacuum operated (like the hvac, cruise, ect) can work smoothly. It is needed for perfect operation of said components, with that being said, i have removed the vacuum ball from many thirdgens with no side affect. It is supposed to be plumbed to a manifold vacuum port. generally tee'd off somewhere, check your vacuum diagram on the hood.
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Old 05-23-2017, 10:13 PM   #49
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

so I made some progress today, while contemplating a new way to attack the battery tray today I decided to start rummaging around some of the tools I received from chuck. It didn't take long before I put 2 and 2 together, when i drove the car for the first time there was a lowes bag in the back seat, guess what was in it... medium and thick steel sawsall blades. its been 6 months and hes still teaching me. so the majority of the tray is gone and we are back to good steel, i was going to go fancy and get help with the new tray but decided that this is my project and what better place to start learning to weld than in a spot that will be covered with a battery? plus if I screw it up to bad I still have extra Walsall blades and friends that weld. battery tray mostly removed
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Old 05-23-2017, 10:19 PM   #50
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Re: Chucks 87 GTA

I traced down the t that the vacuum hose from the canister went to and to my surprise one of the hoses went to the windshield washer tank, so I figured it wasn't working anyways, I removed the t and traced it back a bit and removed the hose that was attached. also traced the line going to the tank and figured out where is was supposed to go and found the tip of the pump? that the hose went to was broken off, so that was ordered, hopefully on 7-10 business days I can wash my windshield. windshield washer pump and motor
broken bits on the windshield washer pump and motor
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