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Thread: 1970 Chevy Nova Project

  1. #1
    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    1970 Chevy Nova Project

    So I'm finally going to get back to work on this car, and I thought I'd try and represent the domestics on this forum with a thread about it.

    It's a 2-door, factory 350 V8, 4-speed manual, power brakes with front discs, 3:73 posi rear end. I bought it a few years ago in mostly original condition. The seller told me it had been raced, which I didn't really believe, but the engine did have a few bolt-ons: full-length headers, Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold, solid engine mounts, Holley 750 CFM carb, and it had been rebuilt at least once so maybe even an aftermarket cam (not that this mattered as I found out later).

    Body is in decent shape for what it is. There are a few dents that will be a bitch to fix, but there is only one semi-major rust spot on one of the rear qarter panels. Besides that, everything is very solid. Interior was all original except for the wiring which had been turned into a rat's nest by a previous owner, but otherwise in good condition except for the seats.

    So my formula for this build is a light car (~3100 lbs.) + manual transmission (factory 4-speed until it breaks, then probably an aftermarket 5- or 6-speed) + approximately 425 horsepower 383 small-block Chevy = lots of fun in the end with a lot of learning along the way.

    I've done some work on it already, but I'll get to that. For now, here's what it looked like when I brought it home:



    The hood hinge on the driver side was messed up, I later replaced it so the hood sat flat.




    The interior:


    The engine:




    This is one of the major dents in the body (right rear quarter, right along the body line ):


    And the other one, at the rear of the car:


    So, as I said I've done some work to it already, but due to going to college full time while working almost full time and a certain issue with my daily driver, I haven't touched it for at least a year. I have now graduated from the university and moved to a place more conducive to this kind of thing, so I'm going to start on it again and this time I hope to get it on the road by the end of 2009 (call it my resolution for 2009).

    More to come.

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    Posting Slut brndn's Avatar
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    Hell yes, I love Novas. My dad has a 71 SS clone. Definitely keep us updated.

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    The first major work done to the car was to rebuild the front suspension. It was literally dangerous to drive because of how loose it was. I replaced all of the original rubber bushings which had all but rotted away with polyurethane, installed new ball joints, cleaned/stripped/painted the A-arms and sway bar, and replaced most of the steering linkage with OEM-style stuff.

    Unfortunately, I didn't take a lot of pictures of this, probably because it was the most horrid task ever with my limited tools and I was too busy cursing.

    Suspension parts before cleaning and old bushings/ball joints:


    New parts:


    Everything functioned well enough after the job was done, but I'm not happy with the supposedly "heavy duty" paint I used on the parts. It chips really easily and I'll probaby have to refinish them. I'll see if I can find any pictures of the finished product.

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    I have lots of Seniority jcLarke's Avatar
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    Best of luck, my dad had a Nova for years but sold it a few years back. I just remember him giving me a pocket knife when i was really young and trying to throw it into the ground and stick for some reason and it bounced and broke his windshield.
    swag

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    So eventually the engine gave out. It was always a little scary, like it would have given out suddenly at any time, for several reasons, so I wasn't really surprised when I started hearing knocking sounds and losing power driving home from work one day. I suspected a spun bearing or two...

    Pulling it out.


    Tore it down and eventually had a few "WELL THAR's UR PROBLEM" moments...

    If you look toward the back of the heads in this picture, you'll notice something a little strange...


    Here's a close-up:


    So... yeah. Massive build-up of shit blocking the coolant passages. Here's one of the heads after pulling them, still with its copper gasket. Check out, again, the blocked coolant passages:


    I can only suspect that the previous owner(s) had dumped some of that copper and/or glass block seal into the coolant at various points, choking these points and causing blockage. I'm honestly impressed it ran as well as it did without overheating too much.

    These are two rod bearings. Completely and utterly destroyed. The metal that came off these circulated through the oil system and messed up some of the other bearings as well.




    Found all of this shit in the oil pan, haha.


    Piston skirts had some issues...


    This is one of the lifters. It's a little difficult to see in the picture, but you should be able to make out a groove worn into the face of the lifter by the cam lobe. The cam is supposed to have a slight taper to spin the lifters in their bores, thus wearing the lifter face evenly and preventing this. So this probably means this cam lobe went flat somewhat early on, maybe even broken in incorrectly. This explains at least in part the lack of power this engine had.


    So this engine was toast. It was already at a 40 thousandths overbore so it was completely trashed. I gave the block away along with most of the parts I pulled off to a guy doing a budget build with the hope that he could salvage something (I kind of doubt he'll be able to use any of it).

    Work then began on an all-new engine.
    Last edited by Martel; 1/25/2009 at 8:10 am.

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    Master of Posting pachood's Avatar
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    Although it would have been nice to drive it while you build your current motor, this is good persuasion to get a hot motor back into the car. Just dont rush it so you can get it back on the road.

    I cant believe that motor ran as it is.

    Also, dont forget to paint up that engine bay while you have the motor out. Thats one of my biggest regrets from when I swapped out my motor.
    i like boobs.

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    Senior Member aeo's Avatar
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    This thing is sick. Me and my friend are in the process of building his 1969 Nova. Dropping in a bored out 350. Good luck on your car, one of my favorites.

  8. #8
    I got tha magic rock Finski's Avatar
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    Hands down my favorite year for a Nova aside from the Chevy II. I owned a 70 Nova that just so happened to have magnesium origional cragar SS wheels on it, I ended up selling it after I finished fixing it up.

    You'll have fun with that build

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iNternal View Post
    This thing is sick. Me and my friend are in the process of building his 1969 Nova. Dropping in a bored out 350. Good luck on your car, one of my favorites.
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by FinalSolution View Post
    Hands down my favorite year for a Nova aside from the Chevy II. I owned a 70 Nova that just so happened to have magnesium origional cragar SS wheels on it, I ended up selling it after I finished fixing it up.

    You'll have fun with that build
    You might notice that this car has a couple of Cragars in the back, too. I have no idea if they are magnesium or not, but whatever they are, they are in bad shape. Will proabably give them away / trash them when the car is running.

    Quote Originally Posted by pachood View Post
    Although it would have been nice to drive it while you build your current motor, this is good persuasion to get a hot motor back into the car. Just dont rush it so you can get it back on the road.

    I cant believe that motor ran as it is.

    Also, dont forget to paint up that engine bay while you have the motor out. Thats one of my biggest regrets from when I swapped out my motor.
    Haha, yep. While I had it out and had the new block in the machine shop, I did just that:

    Before picture (you can see the painted, and chipped, suspension components here):


    I took off everything, all the way down to the frame, and took that off too. I stripped and painted the frame, stripped and painted the firewall, and then reattached the frame to the body with new poly body bushings.




    I kind of wish I had taken the time to go over the frame with a grinder and a welder to smooth out the factory welds and strengthen it, but I didn't have a welder It's on my shopping list now.

  10. #10
    Grand-High Poster dr. ten's Avatar
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    like pachood said earlier, i'm amazed it was running. the lack of engine cooling alone that was going on is crazy.

  11. #11
    :homos: Sodo's Avatar
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    No temp gauge? or just wasn't paying attention

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uskrewed View Post
    No temp gauge? or just wasn't paying attention
    No temp gauge. My only way to tell if it was too hot was to listen for preignition

    Edit: Preignition was only a problem once, when it severely overheated one time on the freeway going uphill. That, and maybe one other minor occurrence, were the only problems with overheating. I have no doubt it ran hotter than optimal on average, though.
    Last edited by Martel; 1/27/2009 at 1:14 am.

  13. #13
    New Bitch
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    Nice one mate. I love Nova's and they're rare as rocking horse shit over here.
    Keep up the good work.

  14. #14
    The Fucking King! Jvale's Avatar
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    Cool car, looking forward to the results

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    Like I said before, I've had some stuff done for the new engine. Pretty typcal stuff so far. It's pretty much a cookie-cutter 383 (350 bored and stroked) small-block Chevy build. Aftermarket cast steel crank, OEM late-model rods, hypereutectic aluminim pistons by Speed Pro, 1988 (I think) iron block with provisions for a roller cam/lifters. Compression ratio goal is about 9.8:1 for use on pump gas. So far I have all of the parts machined and finished for the bottom end, next step is buying the parts that will really dictate the power and behavior of the engine: heads and valvetrain. They are also very expensive, which is why I haven't done it yet. So it's in-progress. Here are a couple of things of interest:

    I don't plan on making obscene power or revving past 6,000 RPM with this engine, so stock connecting rods should work fine. But I thought I'd help my chances a bit by pollishing the beams up a bit. The stock casting process leaves a "seam" on the beam, the unevenness of which can provide places for cracks to form. By smoothing these out I'm hoping to make them a bit more durable. As a small bonus, I lose a few grams of rotating mass at the same time.

    Stock rod (top) to rough grind (bottom):


    Rough grind (top) to smooth finish (bottom):


    One of the primary obstacles in building a 383 Chevy is that the increased stroke puts the bolts one the big end of the rods within striking distance of the cam in one or more cylinders. You can solve this by using a small base-circle cam, and/or grinding part of the bolt head off. I opted for the latter. Here's a before and after:





    I've decided to postpone finishing the engine for money reasons and will instead focus on less expensive but more time-consuming tasks, probably in the following order:

    Tear down the rear suspension and clean/strip/paint the rear frame rails
    New leaf springs/bushings/shackles/hangers in the rear
    Drain, remove, and clean the gas tank (possibly ditch the stock tank altogether and install a cell in the trunk)
    Strip and primer the inside of the trunk, make sure the metal is solid
    Install a battery box in the rear for later battery relocation
    Depending on how brave I am, I might try mini-tubbing it at some point in the above steps

    Will also be tackling the rest of the interior, namely the rear seat and upholstery
    Will probably tear out my shitty carpet job and redo

    That should keep my busy for a while and let me save some money for the rest of the engine.
    Last edited by Martel; 1/29/2009 at 6:36 am.

  16. #16
    I got tha magic rock Finski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martel View Post
    Thanks


    You might notice that this car has a couple of Cragars in the back, too. I have no idea if they are magnesium or not, but whatever they are, they are in bad shape. Will proabably give them away / trash them when the car is running.
    Original mag ss wheels are ultra rare and very sought for, couldn't tell you why i didn't take them off before i sold it.

    When i picked mine up it had previously had an engine fire and had no carb on it, upon fixing everything and tossing a carb on i found out both head gaskets were blown. it was a fun project.

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FinalSolution View Post
    Original mag ss wheels are ultra rare and very sought for, couldn't tell you why i didn't take them off before i sold it.

    When i picked mine up it had previously had an engine fire and had no carb on it, upon fixing everything and tossing a carb on i found out both head gaskets were blown. it was a fun project.
    Here's a couple of pictures of one wheel. Sorry the close-up is kind of blurry, I just ran out there and snapped these real quick.





    You can see the paint flaking off and the rust on the steel rim. But anyway, can you tell if they are mags?


    OK, on with the update:

    Here's the car in its new home. I know it's not really relevant to the build, but I'm super excited to have it in this garage. Excellent lighting, gigantic compressor, overhead air hoses and extension cords, work bench, and all the tools I will ever need.


    Trunk is a lot better than it looks. Solid metal, no holes and strong.


    Dropped the gas tank last night, full of about $30 worth of bad gas No leaks, but I'm 75% sure I won't be reusing it. Left over is a nice big work-space for the supsension job.


    Worked on stripping the car tonight. Took out all of the seats, the rest of the dash, all of the wiring, the carpet I put in a couple of years ago, the upholstery, headliner... Everything except for the steering column and some other random pieces up front, and the door panels/mechanisms because they aren't critical yet. The gray paint on the floor is something I did a couple of years ago to make sure the floors were solid.







    This is one of the rear quarter windows. The mechanism for rolling it up/down is broken somehow (on both windows) and I have to figure out how the hell it works before I can fix it. Chiltons was zero help here.



    Tomorrow I'm going to order the new rear suspension. Hotchkis leaf springs, hangers, shackles and pads, with a 1-1/2" drop. I've decided not to attempt to mini-tub the car; it's a bit beyond my goals right now and would just waste time.

  18. #18
    I have lots of Seniority Graphite's Avatar
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    mmm, those wheels would look sexy with a nice sand and polish job.

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    Bad-ass Member Martel's Avatar
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    Found this while sanding/stripping/de-rusting the trunk I didn't see it before because there was a layer of rust over it... I was stupid to assume it was solid just because I didn't see any holes previously.



    Also uncovered this from the inside. I knew it was there but not that it was this bad. There used to be foam there (you can still see some of it there below the problem area) which probably trapped water against the panel. Wonderful.



    From the outside:



    Rear suspension should be here in a few days.

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    Somewhat Poster thesnowboarder's Avatar
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    sorry to hear about the rust, other than that it looks like a fun build!

    Good luck!

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