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Real-life condition #2: Slight uphill, freshly paved (dark) road, low beams
192232
 

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Real life condition #2, Same spot, high beams
192233
 

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"80% brighter!" marketing wank. I cannot tell the difference. I dont know what brand is the old bulb (came with the car), but I cannot tell the difference in between left (wagner) and old (whatever brand that is, looks GM original install) that I left in the driver's side headlight.
192234
 

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I am taking the Starship in for a few redos, and to fix the leaky quarter glass, at the paint shop this week. I hope to get it back in a week or two. It spent a year, and three months there the last time. I hope the shop gets too it promptly.
 

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I am taking the Starship in for a few redos, and to fix the leaky quarter glass, at the paint shop this week. I hope to get it back in a week or two. It spent a year, and three months there the last time. I hope the shop gets too it promptly.
Don't know what it is with body shops taking a long time to do their work. Mine took a year in the shop as well after a 6 week estimate. Just last week I got it back from another shop that did the full wetsand and polish. They quoted me 5 days and it took two weeks. Regardless, its home now. LOL

Hope yours doesn't take that long
 

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I guess that they think you will hesitate to bring it back if they keep it for a long time, even if there are discrepancies. They get their money, and adios. The shop I went to has some personel issues as well.
 

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If any solace for you both the rest of us get 'free' learning curve based on your unfortunate experiences. I've seen the before-after of Fred's and it looked like T. Rex and Thor's hammer had a field day with the entire left side. I recall Dan's was subjected to special malfeasance at the shop (?had to get the cops involved with its rescue??). I recently had occasion to take the Cady in to patch 2 doors after altercation with a Tahoe. Of 3 licensed shops, 2 were booked out for 4-8 weeks, and one said they could get it in after just a few days, but their lot was loaded up. Plus super sketchy (i.e. "It'll be X with a receipt, but X-$100 for cash") I didn't know from all that whether I'd actually ever see my car again. lol A 4th shop was Highly recommended but said he didn't want the work since he's doing so many $XX,XXX classic and custom jobs. (you gotta love the current 'good' economy)

My take is that too many shops love the chance to load up their booked work by promising quick attention while knowing you have little recourse after its been held captive in their lot and they know they won't even touch it until muuuuuch later.

I did notice something with those 3 shops that there could be 12-20 cars inside, but almost none over 10 years old. Quick in-n-out assembly line for newer ones must mean our antiques spell trouble and go to the back burner.
 

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Yeah, where I screwed up is I paid up front. I've never used a body shop before, so I had no idea how it worked. I thought it was the way it was done. Come to find out that you should never pay for the repairs 100% up front because you've eliminated any reason for them to do anything from that point on - and they have your car. I actually learned a lot more from that whole f-ing mess. Probably worth a post in and of itself.
 

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I supplied all of the sheetmetal to repair my car within 2 weeks of the wreck. It took 8-10 months for them to get around to replacing the quarter panel. I challenged the owner of the shop with the fact that I thought he afraid to do the job...it got installed shortly after that, with a little bitching about alignment. I think they overbook, because once they have the car apart, you can not easily take it somewhere else.

One of the techinques I know is to have a "past due date" penalty. E.G. If they do not deliver on the day promised the cost to them will be $x per day. If they say they do not like that, say, then give me a date that will not incur a penalty for you...but stick to the penalty clause. If it is a parts issue, supply the parts.
 

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Yeah, where I screwed up is I paid up front. I've never used a body shop before, so I had no idea how it worked. I thought it was the way it was done. Come to find out that you should never pay for the repairs 100% up front because you've eliminated any reason for them to do anything from that point on - and they have your car. I actually learned a lot more from that whole f-ing mess. Probably worth a post in and of itself.
I gave them a portion up front. Toward the end I had to come up with another $1500. The guy wanted it all, and I held $500 until the car was in my hands. That finally got it done. He said he needed it to pay his employees, and that is not my problem. He asked me if I did not trust him, and I said "NO".

A payment for stages of finish should be worked out 25% for teardown, 25% for body work, 25% paint prep, with a 25% final payment when finished. I usually do not trust anyone with more than $5, and even then I really do not expect to get it back.
 

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Yeah, like I said - I did everything wrong when I had my work done. I stroked the shop a big check and said "call me when it's done". I learned a lot over the next 13 months.
 

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........
I actually learned a lot more from that whole f-ing mess. Probably worth a post in and of itself.
As I'm sure of exactly the same AFTER someone has undertaken to attempting an insurance settlement by dealing directly with the other driver's carrier. Unfortunately even with comp my own 'just recently married into the family' DIL did just that. Figuring I'll be living around her (hopefully for life lol), I was Ssssoooo gentle and kind in considerately describing to her just how flaming daft, and absent even 3rd grade critical thinking, that is. She's young but pretty quick on the ball and I believe she learnt more from that grand screwover than any boomer preaching from me.
 

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Not sure what happened to January, but it's February already!!! I typically get a lot done over the holidays due to time off work and ability to be at the shop, but this year that wasn't the case. I was able to spend a few days in the shop, but not the typical 10+ that I usually do. Sill, I was able to make some good progress on the front and rear suspension over the last 6 weeks or so.

I purchased the XCUT 5222 reamer mostly due to its price and delivery.
It worked very well - I clamped the spindle in the vice, chucked the reamer in my cordless drill and with an extra ball joint in hand to use as a gauge, I went to it.



Slow speed (maybe a couple hundred RPM), a good bath of WD40 and it went pretty quick. Maybe 60 seconds of actual cutting was all it took - I was surprised at how little material was actually removed to fit the 5/8 ball joint. I was way more concerned about it than I needed to be, it's really not a big deal at all. No chatter, no binding, etc. The WD40 would actually "float" the ream in the hole and you'd have to let some of it run off and you could hear the drill load up and start cutting as the lubricant went away.

The surface finish is really good - very hard to get a good picture of it, but there are a few below anyway. It looks a lot rougher than it is, it feels smooth to the touch, nothing that would catch a fingernail, definitely as good as the original finish and it hasn't had a ball joint tightened down in it yet.





The ball joint fits well, no rocking or slop, nice and tight. There's a little more room to go on the bottom (you can see the end of the taper in the picture) and the top threads have ~2 threads down in the taper as well so plenty of room to pull it tight or even if I have to ream it out a little more, no problem.



Once this was done I was able to actually connect the upper and lower control arms and run it through the full range of motion. This was a good thing to do because I discovered that the compression bump stops on the control arms were not tall enough. This resulted in the upper ball joint being the thing that limited the suspension travel in compression and right next in line was the tie-rod on the frame. Neither was a good scenario to have.

Showing full compression with the ball joint at full angle limiting the suspension travel


And in the same position, the bump stop was not even close to contacting the frame...


I Speed Tech bump stops (Energy Suspension part number 6041) have a 3/8-16 male thread on them and just thread into a tapped hole in the control arm. This will be simple I thought - Just buy the OEM style bump stops (Energy Suspension part number 6139 (9.9150G)) that are an inch taller and screw them in the same hole (after grinding off the alignment pegs) - Done!

Nope - Not that simple...The holes are to far "in" on the control arm and the taller bump stops don't contact the frame as they should...




So, I was planning on removing the control arm, drilling/tapping different holes which would make the sway bar linkage hard to remove, etc - way too complicated. One of the guys at the shop suggested to put them in the frame instead of on the control arm. Well, that's a good and simple solution - so that's what I did.

It turns out that I could put two bump stops in - one forward and one rearward. The frame is only ~1/8" thick and I didn't want to futz with nuts inside the frame, so I swaged the frame to the proper predrill size for 3/8-16 threads (which happens to be 5/16" diameter) and tapped them that way.

Marked them out and drilled an 1/8" locating hole


Used an air hammer with a 5/16" bit on it, sharpened like a pencil...




And in about 3 seconds I had a nice 5/16 diameter hole in the frame


Run a tap in it...


Screw in the bump stop and it's done!



And a shot of what it looks like inside the frame


And complete - ready to bump some stops...


Same thing on the front - they're within 1/16 of each other contacting the control arm at the same time.


Tried to get a shot of the two of them together - hard to see, but they're there


Now I can finish my front sway bar mount/frame reinforcement and verify full travel again and then weld everything up. More on that later - Next up, rear coil over clearance
 

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So the rear coil overs also had some minor issues to resolve as well. I believe the wagon's have some additional bracing that the Impala SS's don't have and possibly a slightly different shock mounting angle as well.

Here's the OEM shock at full extension


And when you put a 2.5" coil over in it's place - there's some interference on the front...




Also, the lower adapter brackets didn't want to line up well without putting a lot of bending load on the upper mounts...
It's supposed to go here...


But wants to go here...


So, to get it to hang roughly in the right place, I added some washers to the top mounting bolts to push it forward so there's not so much stress on the bushing. No pictures of this (yet).

To get the coil spring to clear the frame, I used the trusty air hammer again and just rolled up the area that interfered.






The below picture also shows that there will be good location to put the sway bar end links up to the frame as well. I'll probably use the hole between the slot and the spring.


I did run the rear end up/down through it's range of motion to make sure there's always clearance. I'll probably hammer on it a little bit more after I get the rear end out and there's more room to get in there.

The other side is close, but does not touch on the exhaust - and there's still room for the airbags in the original coil spring locations too.
 

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Working on getting my front suspension mocked up and installed. Front frame brace/swaybar mount was recently finished up as shown in these posts...


One thing that I've come to find is that I'll have an extra 3/4" of damper compression travel that will be unused due to having to limit the travel so the tie-rods don't hit the frame. I had initially setup the mounts so that the suspension would travel from bump stop to bump stop and am kind of working backward from there.

It seems to be a waste of damper travel to let it go unused, so the plan is to lower the upper shock mounts by ~1/2" (leaving a little room so it can't bottom out). This will provide more extension travel (about 1" at the wheel due to the motion ratio of the control arms). Hopefully next time I get to work on the car, I can get these cut and re-tacked in, then articulate the front suspension through it's full range of motion one last time (hopefully!) and be able to weld everything in and install the springs!

Once the front end is done, it's on to the back end - Pull the rear end to sandblast/paint, sandblast the floor/frame on the back half of the car, design and install hitch/rear frame brace, install rear control arms and swaybar, then paint everything under there. Hoping to get all this done by Memorial Day weekend to attend a car show/cruise. Not sure if I'll make it or not, but it's a goal to work toward.

Trying to get it to the point where any work on it is "weekend work" where I can drive it as is, and finish up little things on the weekends. I've been saying that for a year and a half, but it feels like it's closer than before - Light at the end of the tunnel!!!
 

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So, with everything in and able to fully articulate, I jacked up the control arm until it was firmly in to the bump stops. Not quite lifting the car up, but probably about 1/2 way there. As you can see, there is a bit of damper travel that is unused, around 5/8"



So, I traced out the original mounting location on the frame, cut/broke the tacks off and shortened it up about 1/2" or so.


I mocked up the suspension again, jacked it up to firmly engage the bump stops, compressed the damper all the way, then pulled it up ~1/8" and tacked the brackets in place again.

You can see the red lines and previous welds where it used to be


Shaped it to generally fit the frame well...





And then welded it in...


I tried to fill in the voids and get as much surface area contact to the frame as practical to distribute the load throughout more material.




Once this was done, I was able to mount up a tire to the Wheel Fit tool and see what hits where...

The orange circles are where it hits at full compression and/or full steering lock with a 265/40/22 on a 9" rim with 5 3/4" backspacing (or -19mm offset). This was the offset that cleared the outside the best and only had minor interference on the inside as shown below.

Most of the areas are where I made room for the 4" air intake. There's a bit of excess room available there so I'll likely just pound some of it back out. The other area where the bolts are is to mount the Fuel pump and AC receiver which may require a bit more thought as to how to make it clear.







The handy bit of info from this is that many 6x5.5" rims from GM trucks/SUV's have a +31mm offset. Most adapters to get from 6x5.5" to 5x5 bolt pattern are 2" (51mm) thick. So if you like the flush wheel look, they should more/less bolt on with commonly available adapters.

I have NOT verified this combo will work/fit/etc and I could have a + offset mixed up with a - offset, etc.

I'm thinking of going with a 265/50/20 which should be the same 30.5" outside diameter, just a bit narrower tread width (0.4") and roughly 1" more sidewall height (per side). It will also have the corners a bit more rounded with the higher aspect ratio so hopefully give a bit more clearance in places. I've got one of these tires on the way to fit up and see how well it fits.

Getting closer each weekend!
 

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Made some more progress this weekend...

Was able to get the 265/50/20's sized up and clearance the inner fenders where necessary. They're not 100% rub free at full compression and full steering lock, but I'm comfortable with where they're at. If they touch, I'm guessing there will be bigger things to worry about (famous last words!)



The 265/50/20's have a "softer" shoulder compared to the 265/40/22's and are otherwise almost identical in size. This helped a lot with clearance.


With that done, I was able to finally put the coil springs on the coil-overs. I used a nice spring compressor in the shop. Makes a very dangerous job safe, fast and easy.




And done! Well, the easy part anyway....


Had I known how much preload that they needed, I would have done this on the compressor instead of by hand with the nuts on the bottom. There's a lot of preload there, but I did the rough math and it shouldn't go solid. These are 750 lb/in springs compressed from 9" free length to right around 5" when resting at ride height. That's a lot of turning 1/6 of a turn at a time (20 threads from where I started to get it to ride height, 1/6 of a turn at a time, each side).






There's one of these coming next week to see if it fits looks/feels like I want it to. I'm not super crazy about the look, but it's growing on me a bit the more I look at it. Best thing is no spacers/adapters needed. We'll see how it looks with a tire on it and mounted on the car.



Almost done with the front suspension - this is taking longer than I thought...
 

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The above wheel is a lot closer to the 80's turbine wheel than I thought...





Maybe next weekend I'll be able to get a tire on it, put on the car and see how it looks. Maybe I can make the Buick center caps fit?

This weekend hopefully I can get the wiper circuit and solution figured out.
 

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The above wheel is a lot closer to the 80's turbine wheel than I thought...





Maybe next weekend I'll be able to get a tire on it, put on the car and see how it looks. Maybe I can make the Buick center caps fit?

This weekend hopefully I can get the wiper circuit and solution figured out.
What is wrong with your wipers?
 
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