Okay, we're back.

For those of you who don't know, and who care, and are still reading even after both our extended downtime and our even more extended lack of updates, I'm not only an old man, but I'm also a full-time college student. This semester sucked; all my free time was spent either studying, doing homework, or fretting over the possibility of failing a class. It seems to have worked, as I didn't fail anything, but it did prevent much real work on the car.

The semester ended last month, so I've got some stuff done since then (but didn't post because the site was down, go figure).

Current plan is to take care of the front suspension -- I bought a set of AFX spindles out of the tax return, but of course the car wasn't ready for them as of the last update. Still isn't, but it's a lot closer.
If you recall, the engine needed to be removed to create the notch for the AC lines. I started by cutting out the metal for the notch, and then cleaned all the grime and paint and rust off the frame.
Of course, once you take something to bare metal, you really should prime it so it doesn't rust.
The primer I used was the Tractor Supply enamel primer. I really, really, really wish that when we were househunting we'd found a house where the heater pilot wasn't in the attic above the garage, and the water heater pilot wasn't in a closet off the garage -- this would have been much easier had I been willing to spray.
I do not know if I should have used a hardener in the primer, but it's too late to fret on that now. Obviously, I didn't use any.
With the primer getting closer, it was time to fill the notch. Started with some 1/8" thick bar stock of the correct width.
(Alternate view)
Not that involved to cut the sides as well. Learned several neat things here. The first was that it's better to worry about frame work before you convert your MIG over to use .023 wire; the second was that I shouldn't be trying to weld at all when I'm having feed problems (the little nylon screw that holds the spool on kept tightening down and not allowing the wire to feed). That is my excuse for these ugly welds.
Still having feed problems. You'd think I would have stopped and tried to figure out what was going on earlier. The wiring going to the TIG does not really support me running at the amperage level I'd need for this -- but then I realized, the TIG also does stick welding... so that's what I did. Here, you see that the outer edges of the notch are filled in (in some areas).
And then I tried to clean up the ugly crap weld in the inside.
And then I applied primer.
And then I applied more primer.
Eventually, the whole thing was in primer.
Next up - the lower control arms. These had seen better days - the POR-15 I'd applied when I reworked these back in '99 or so really didn't stick all that well. Wasn't too worried about the cost of replacing the ball joints and bushings -- the previous ones I'd bought were from Autozone with their lifetime warranty.. so after quite a while of digging, I found my receipts for the ball joints (one from 2000, one from way back in 1991). I didn't need them; Autozone's records go that far back. I took all the front end components I had receipts for up there - all the tie rod ends, the lower ball joints, the tie rod sleeves, and the bushings. They only had one bushing and the two lower ball joints to replace mine with - they gave a cash refund on the bushings, and I kept the tie rod ends and threw them in the parts washer.
I'd picked up a ball joint service set from Harbor Freight a while back. It worked decently, but the clamp-thing wasn't big enough. Luckily, I have a press (although I used the vise as much as I used the press)
And with the LCAs cleaned off, they too got thrown in the parts washer.
Then, off to the sandblaster.
They cleaned up pretty good. Could have sworn that I took pictures of them after I put them in primer, but I can't find them now.
Steel racing bushings! But wait - a problem: my LCAs have an oval bushing, not the larger round one. Luckily, I have a local circle-track store (it's a huge store) - Smiley's Racing. Walked in there, someone asked 'Can I help you?', I told them what I needed, and they told me it'd be on this aisle, in a red bin on the right. They were wrong.. the oval bushings were in a cardboard box to my left, but still, I was able to buy the bushings and go home with them instead of having to pay shipping. I like patronizing local shops like that, hopefully they'll have more stuff I need.
So I've received word that my clutch rebuild is complete and the clutch is on its way back to me. I'll really need to have the frame ready to put the engine back in before the clutch shows up, so today was frame-day. Paint is low-gloss black Valspar implement enamel (also from Tractor Supply) that I did use the hardener in. This is first coat; the beigey-yellow primer shows through in a lot of places..
Another view of first coat, with crappy job on the LCAs.
This is second coat. Coverage is much better here.
We used a roller for part of the second coat, it helped a lot. I'm not all that happy with how the paint came out in general. I probably should have sanded the primer before calling it good, and like I said above, would have been a lot better if I'd sprayed instead of brushed.
Attached the engine mounts to the frame in their new location, with nice and spiffy grade 8 bolts. Frame is ready, except for the whole lack-of-suspension thing.
So we assembled the tie rods. The centers are the Hotchkis tie rod sleeves - I bought these used a couple of years ago, nice to put them to use... and I bought the boots with the proceeds from returning the worn bushings to Autozone.
Found a problem with the new lower ball joints -- they're not the Moog problem-solvers repackaged; they're a loose fit. I welded them in, don't reckon they're going anywhere. (went back and welded more after this pic)
Upper control arms are on order. Once they're here, I'll install the springs and spring adjusters, as well as the LCAs and some shocks.. I still have to figure out the proper shocks to use, so the shocks I install will just be the red-ryders I had before.

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