Saturday, August 25, 2012

100th Blog Post, The Charger Rides Again

Welcome to my 100th post on this site. It's been a long time and I know that I have recently focused soley on the Charger but if you look back, I have written a lot of different posts over the years.
So today I decided it was time to get the Charger's floor pans in by means of welding. The closest place that had a welder was my Uncle George's house 11 miles away. 11 miles, a distance the Charger had not driven in 10 years, could the car even make it? I didn't know but I was going to find out. Don't worry, I got insurance on the car before I drove it just in case. The inspection on the other hand.......well, I figured if a cop wanted to chase me around the country side, in a muscle car, on the roads where I learned to drive and had been driving on since I was 10 years old, then he would be welcomed to do so!!! And after he easily caught me, I would just go ahead and pay the fine. The point is, I was willing to risk it. My dad followed me in his truck in case the Charger didn't make it and needed to be towed home. The Dodge was built to drive and I know cars don't have minds but if this car did have a mind, it wouldn't have known what kind of rough shape it was in, because it drove just fine the 11 miles to my uncle's house. On a straight strech I got out the camera so you can see what riding in the Charger was like. It was noisy, dirty, smelly, and I loved every second of it. Keep in mind it had no floors! Floors do a wonderful job of keeping those deadly fumes out of your car, just so you know. The Charger made it with no problems whatsoever I'm happy to report and now sits in my uncle's garage where it waits to have the floor welded in, then it's off to a body shop to get the body work and paint job done! (Oh and, if you're wondering I only got it up to 65 during the trip because I wanted to take it slow for it's first trip.)

Thanks for reading my 100th post and check back for more updates on the restoration of my 1974 Dodge Charger!

New Battery, New Battery Tray

This is embarrassing but look at the before and after shot of the old battery "tray" and the new battery tray, can you tell which is which? A blind person with his eyes shut could tell you I needed a new battery tray. Yes, that's a block of wood that served as part of the old tray and I hate to say it but that was the strongest section. Makes you wonder how anything can get that bad. I can assume that a leaky battery and possibly water getting in and sitting in the tray at some point in the past led to the tray getting that rusted. The bolts were so rusted that when the old tray came out, they stayed bolted into the car! They were so rusted themselves that they couldn't even be removed, I had to install the new battery tray on top of them until I can get my grinder and cut them out. The new battery went in the new battery tray, was hooked up, and the Charger started right up no problems. I let it get warmed up because it was about to do something it hadn't done in ten years.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Charger Idle

I took this clip when the Charger was idling. The camera didn't pick up the nice sound like I had wanted, but if anything this is proof that the problem was a bad battery this whole time. If you think the rear valance looks rusted out and ready to be fixed, you'd be right, I'm glad the new one is in a box a few feet away just waiting to be put on! Notice the tail pipe, I feel it looks lonely back there all by itself, well that's ok, there will be two of them soon enough. Also check out the engine bay's horrible yellow color, that was the original color of the car. What they were thinking in the 70's I'll never know.....

New Starter Solenoid

So the new starter was installed today, the solenoid and the starter come together so when you change one you change both, which was good because I wasn't sure what the problem really was. You can see the difference in the brand new starter compared to the original. Turns out it didn't start once the new starter was installed. Scratching my head, all I could think was what I was thinking 5 weeks ago, the battery is no good. All the signs pointed to the battery, other than the mystery of how come when jumped the car still wouldn't start. Determined to prove myself wrong, and even having to tell my dad we are only doing this to shut me up, after he continued to insist it wasn't the battery, I unhooked the battery to swap it for another one I knew worked out of my truck. Some sparks flew and then it was completely dead, I guess it wasn't the battery after all, but then what was the problem??? Staring down at the starter looking back up at me the problem might have just been looking me in the face....
new starter

An exposed wire! Could this be the problem? After a taping it up we tried the Jeep Cherokee's battery, the Jeep fired right up when we turned it on, so the battery was good for sure. Once in my Charger and all hooked up the Charger fired right up, roaring to life as it loves to do. Ah-ha! The battery, and after weeks of thinking it was a bad battery but listening to everyone else. Just to be sure I turned off the Charger and it started right up again. A new battery is now at the top of the list. Some may say I wasted money on a new starter, solenoid, and alternator but lets face it, those parts were new in 1974. Needing to be changed or not they are 3 less parts I have to worry about for the near future. I said if something needs to be or can be replaced on this car it was going to happen, and I know those parts weren't first in line, but their time was coming soon, so it just happened a bit early. The Charger's body work is now becoming my first priority, I can't take too much more of looking at that old primer paint. Not to mention my plans for the wheels, interior, and the engine/exhaust system have to wait their turn until all the body work is complete.
old starter

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cutting Floor Pans Video

Here is a video clip of my dad cutting the floor pan, featuring my brand new angle grinder, which, I might add, worked perfectly for this job. Cutting floor pans is not an exact science, you can be sloppy and still be alright at the end of the day. The floor pan itself was more than enough to cover the areas of rust, so we cut it to fit better and because we didn't need all of the the new pan. It's nice to know that even if it looks rough or ugly it's all going to be covered in primer paint and then padding and finally the brand new carpet, hiding all the imperfections the new floor may have. When it comes to the floor it isn't about the looks.

Cutting, Fitting, Placing the Floor Pans

Getting the floor pans into the Charger is a fun and challenging project, now replace the word "fun" with annoying and the word "challenging" with headache ridden. In all honesty after market parts rarely fit perfectly like factory parts and so I wasn't surprised, not to mention the Charger's entire floor didn't need to be replaced, just certain areas, and so waste not, want not. Makes a big difference though!
Some things I learned while cutting metal floor pans were, number one, you wouldn't think tiny red hot flaming shards of metal flying at you and landing on your skin would hurt, but they do. Number two, metal getting cut is VERY loud. And number three, when metal is rough cut, its very sharp and it WILL cut you. Now that I am cut up, deaf, and burned, the floor pans are cut into shape and fit! They now can be added to the Charger. I haven't decided if we will be welding the new floor into place, which is what I would like to do, or if we will pop rivet them in. Either way works but welding them would be ideal. If we go the welding route we will have to get the Charger to a place where we can actually weld it. Outlaw driving the Charger is getting to be a habit.

New Alternator, Old Problems

Finally a weekend without rain! Although it was cloudy all day and looked as if it was going to rain at any minute, it held off and I was able to get some work done. I installed the new alternator, not as simple as everyone makes it out to be but even so it's only a several minute job. With some help from my Dakota in the way of a jump, the Charger roared to life on the first try. I suppose it was the alternator after all....or was it? The Charger started just fine on it's own several times until it just plain wouldn't start. Even a jump wouldn't get it going and I was back where I started. Now the list includes a voltage regulator and a new starter, two parts I have narrowed the problem down to.
I also added the thermostat using gasket sealing cement. Can you see where the thermostat is supposed to go in this picture? The big open hole without a radiator hose is a hint. Either way I am getting closer to getting the Charger up and running.