The 1970 Chevelle SS

K. Chevelle Package Tray Removal and Installation

posted Jan 10, 2017, 9:09 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 11:53 AM ]

If you have a GM A Body from the 1960's - 1970's there is a good chance your package tray has suffered the fate of the rear window leak.  Our 1970 Chevelle was no different so as part of the rust repair, we removed the old one and installed a new one as part of our restoration.  Because we had rust repair to do we removed our rear window, but if you are only changing out the package tray this isn't necessary so much of this overview can be used as reference for your swap.

The process begins by removing the rear seat door panels and arm rests as well as the seat bottom and back.  This process is not outlined here because it is very well covered in any number of places on the Internet.  With these items removed, you are faced with the cardboard trunk divider.  Note this is an original divider and the black surface faces the trunk.  It is just hung on 2 tabs which will be shown in detail in a bit.  After 47 years it is time for that to be replaced as well, but keep it for reference because the new aftermarket ones have punch outs which need to be matched for your application.
With the trunk divider removed you can now see where the original package tray is glued to the seat back panel structure.  as shown in the dotted yellow area.  Grab the edge of the vinyl and just pull it lose all along the top edge to free it up.  Do not try to remove the old package tray just yet as the sail panels much be removed first.

A closer look also shows the rear window bottom plastic corners that are held in by Phillips head screws.  Remove these to make the package tray removal a bit easier.  Here you can also see how the package tray is held captive by the sail panel.
To remove each sail panel you will need to remove the plastic U channel trim that runs from the base of the quarter window up to the A Pillar.  In addition, you may need to remove the U channel trim that surrounds the rear window in the inside as your sail panel may be held captured by that trim.
With the trim removed, your sail panel will be free.  Do keep in mind that the sail panel may still have its original clip which is attached to the B Pillar structure.

A closer look shows how the sail panel contains the package tray.  There is a "flap" on each end of the package tray which is folded up and runs behind the sail panel.  With the sail panels out and the front vinyl edge free from the seat back panel the old package tray can now be slid out - it is not glued in.
A careful look at the factory original package tray shows the front vinyl edge detail as well as the jute backing that is glued to the back of it.
So now it is time to put the new parts in place.  The first is to place the new trunk divider cardboard back in.  This Chevelle did not have insulation from the factory, just the heavy cardboard, so this is how we are re-installing the items.  The trunk divider is simply hung from two tabs that are stamped into the seat back panel.  The cardboard is hung with the black side facing the trunk.
The next step is to install the jute installation under the package tray.  As seen earlier, the factory package try had the jute backing glued to the package tray.  We have chosen to simply place it and slide the new package tray over it.  Note that the jute is slid under the lip that exists from the trunk filler panel (which should be painted flat black by the way if you have replaced it as we did).
Now it is time to slide the new package try in place.  Fold the end flaps up and apply contact cement on the front edge top of the seat back divider panel as well as the vinyl flap that folds down over the leading edge of the package tray along the seat back top edge.  Glue along the area shown in the red line - a strip about 1/2" wide.
Now the plastic corners can be re-installed at the bottom window corners as well as the sail panels.  Of course if you have a rear deck speaker (as we do) or defrost, the package tray must be cut to accommodate these options.
And finally, with the glass in you now have a nice, new package tray!

J. New Paint, New Vinyl Roof and Assembled

posted Nov 13, 2016, 6:32 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 10:54 AM ]

The Chevelle was re-assembled after the paint was cut and buffed to the point that the vinyl top could be applied.  Because the rear window was taken out to do the rust repair of the rear window channels and corners, it was left out to make applying the vinyl top easier.  The vinyl is wrapped around the quarter, roof and trunk filler panel lips and down the side of the window channel itself, so with no window in the way the job can be done easier.
Now the toughest part of having a new vinyl top installed is getting the trim back on the roof.  Specifically the drip rail molding trim is the tricky part.  Because the Stainless Steel molding is c-shaped in its cross section, you have to apply it to one edge and then force it over the second edge and it can take quite a bit of force which isn't good for very light gauge stainless steel!

We fabricated a tool using an old bottle opener - it's something that most everyone does, so really nothing new here.  Just bend the opener in a way that gives you good leverage so that you can move the molding down around the lower edge of the drip rail.  Always start at the back of the drip rail and work forward.  Also, you slip the top of the C cross section on the drip rail and rotate the molding over the bottom.
This process takes time a patience - something that is difficult to do at times.  Also remember, the drip rail molding for the 1970 Chevelle differs if you have a vinyl roof - it's a bit larger in cross section to accommodate the vinyl roof.  Using non- vinyl roof molding on a vinyl roof car just won't work.  We applied the original factory molding back to this car.  It had a few dings and dents that we tried to remove, but because this is a nice driver it has some very minor dings that can be seen at certain angles.  All trim was buffed with a wheel and green rouge before re-installation.
So with the drip rail molding installed, it's time to move to the body molding.  This molding is held on by studs and injection molded plastic clips the top trim snaps over.  It's not complicated and pretty straight forward.  The key is to apply the clips in a way they capture the vinyl as a bit of additional "safety" to keep the top in place.  The factory did it much the same way you see here.
And there you have it, with all the trim back on, a nice, new vinyl roof for the 1970 Chevelle SS.
So with the paint and vinyl top complete, it's now time for the mechanical restoration work to begin!

I. Wet sanding, wet sanding, wet sanding and buffing!

posted Oct 16, 2016, 7:51 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 9:52 AM ]

To get a base coat / clear coat finish just right you really need to wet sand it and then buff it.  Think about it, you started with a block sanded FLAT primer surface, but you added 2 coats of color and at least 2 costs of clear.  No matter how good you are with a paint gun you will have some degree of orange peel built up with that many coats of paint.  Add to that the miscellaneous airborne trash that ends up in the clear surface and you really have to block it down again and buff it.  While difficult to photograph, when you look close in places you can see the tell-tale mottled finish of orange peel.  Just above the fender extension (headlight bezel) there is some.
So to get it flat you need to go through a series of wet sanding steps (with a block) that begins with 1500 paper.  There are plenty of good sources on the Internet to go though the process of wet sanding and we took the approach of going from 1500 to 2000 to 3000 before we did the final buff.  Be prepared for a lengthy process - this step isn't difficult, it just takes time.  It can be a bit discouraging because you take the nice shiny surface and make it hazy with this process so it feels as if you are going backwards (in effect you are, but you end up in a much different and better place).  Here is the body after 1500 grit wet sanding:

It is difficult to see the difference with 2000 grit, so here is 3000 grit - the shine is coming back, especially when viewed at a rather low angle:

A little closer on 3000 grit:

Once the body has been completely wet sanded to 3000 grit and cleaned of the residue, it is time for the payoff - buffing.  3M Perfect-It system is used because it works.  It is a 3 step system of scratch removal, swirl removal and machine finishing. and the results are stunning - this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when the last step is complete.  

Those who are really paying attention will see that the roof hasn't been wet sanded - that is because it will have a vinyl roof put on and we wanted to have as much paint on the roof as possible to protect the metal under the vinyl.  Here are some shots after final buff:

Getting a good reflection shot is tricky with the body contours of the 1970 Chevelle and the very heavy iridescent metallic of Shadow Gray - photographs just tend to look grainy, but hopefully you are able to see what can be done with the painting process.  Now the Chevelle will be re-assembled and sent off for a new vinyl roof.  Once back in the shop the mechanical work on the restoration will begin.  

H. The Chevelle gets a new coat of Shadow Gray

posted Oct 14, 2016, 8:26 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 9:38 AM ]

Masking a car is tedious, but it's an exciting step because it means that paint is imminent.  After all the hours of preparation leading up to paint the finish line becomes very visible.  The Chevelle will be painted with PPG basecoat as well as their 2021 clear.  It's been a very hot summer here and that has lead to many delays in applying the paint, but the time has come.  The car was moved into the booth and put up on jack stands to make access to the rockers a bit easier.

With all the masking complete it was time to wipe down the entire car with wax and grease remover and then tack it off a few times.
The PPG Shadow Gray was mixed thoroughly the gun was filled and on when two coats of base coat - it happens so fast!

Base was allowed to cure for about an hour and then two coats of clear were applied.  This is always the nail biting time because of the possibility of runs, sags, trash and orange peel, but what a difference clear makes.  When the clear-cloud dissipates it's always like Christmas morning.

So now that the paint is applied, the masking off now the wet sanding and buffing can begin.

G. The paint begins with jambing the Chevelle and parts

posted Oct 14, 2016, 8:01 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 9:11 AM ]

The Chevelle was primed with Epoxy to seal the metal and the final "tuning of the body was done.  Fortunately this is a no-hit car and the sheet metal is pretty much as it left the factory.  The areas of rust repair were metal finished and some filler added to blend and a few door dings were straightened out.  With that work done the car was primed with PP 2K Primer Surfacer (Urethane) and blocked to 400 grit.  A second coat of Primer Surfacer was then applied and the entire car blocked to 600 grit.
This Chevelle is a Shadow Gray which is a metallic color.  As such, the exterior body panels need to be shot all at once.  So the jamb areas of the car as well as associated body parts need to be painted in a separate step.  First the body was masked to expose only the door and trunk jamb areas.  To reduce the hard edge effect of masking, tape was overhung on the edges to create a bit of an air dam so when you are painting the paint feathers in and this allows a soother transition for when the exterior is painted.
Once the body shell was painted in base coat and cleared the parts were then prepped and jambed as well.

With all parts painted and cleared the Chevelle was reassembled and gaps set for the base coat / clear coat of the exterior.
Now that jambing is complete, the car can be masked and readied for its exterior coats of PPG Shadow Gray and 2021 Clear

F. Ready For Epoxy Primer

posted May 29, 2016, 12:47 PM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 9:03 AM ]

With the rust gone and everything down to bare metal the decision was made to use epoxy primer as opposed to etch primer.  This was at the recommendation of the PPG technical service people who feel that with their product line they prefer to avoid etch primers when using the base coat/ clear coat system.  It is very likely that others disagree, but we tend to follow the vendor's rules.

The car is a really solid example of a 1970 Chevelle SS.  It is a no-hit car with just a bit of moderate rust.  The floors, cowl and trunk are perfect with no rust and with all the paint off the car it shows well.  

The trunk was then sprayed with black epoxy primer in preparation for finishing it with the authentic Black/Aqua splatter paint.

So now it is a matter of doing some body work to touch up the patched areas, fill some 46 year old door dings and then the parts will be shot with 2K primer/surfacer, blocked and prepped for PPG base coat / clear coat in its original Shadow Gray.

E. Media Blasting Complete And The Rust Is No Longer Hidden

posted May 29, 2016, 10:38 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 8:53 AM ]

It's funny how so many people who have a car that exhibits some small rust areas say "It's just surface rust - no big deal."  Well, there are cases of surface rust for sure, but most times car bodies rust from the inside out.  It is also clear that rust is usually found in places where water can be trapped for periods of time.  Both fenders on the 1970 Chevelle had rust in the lower section behind the front wheel as you can see from the pictures below.  While we don't have pictures with the paint on, many would have said it was just surface rust.

The good news is that this is very repairable because the quality of after market patch panels is quite good.  Goodmark patch panels were used (in truth, the panels are made by CHL Auto Parts in Taiwan and marketed by Goodmark, Sherman and others).  So why rust there?  Well it starts with the fact that it's behind a tire which is constantly throwing water back if driven in the rain, but the GM engineers didn't do us any favors with the design of the fender either.  Once you cut the rusted area away it becomes clear why this area is such a problem on most all cars that are 45 years old.

The fender inner structure acts as a wonderful trap for leaves, dirt and debris which tends to hold moisture for a very long time.  So with water and iron you get iron oxide which is rust.  And in this case it is surface rust, but on the inside surface - which then makes it through to present itself to the outside surface.

So the process to repair this problem is really pretty straight forward.  If doing a full patch (as done here) you want to ensure that you do two things - first you want to get all the bad metal out and the second is you want to make the cut on the CONVEX surface as opposed to the concave surface.  This is important because doing the finishing would is far easier on a convex part of the pane.  You do need to make sure the cut line is below the length of your patch panel so that you can cover your work!

Before you make your cut you will want to make a template of the contour of the fender edge that meets your door.  Now some believe it is bet to make this patch repair with the fender on the car so that you can match the door edge and rocker - that is ideal, but you can't always do that.  So in our case we made a reference mark on the fender and then made a template before we made a cut so that when we weld the new patch on we can use it as a reference.

With the bad metal removed, the next step is to cut the patch panel about 1" longer than the cut on the fender.  In addition, you need to cut the patch at the break along the wheel lip a few inches and bend the wheel lip forward so that you can slide the patch up into the fender.  The patch panel will now overlap the fender and this is what you want so that you can mark a scribe line on the fender to make the final cut for you butt weld.  Here is a shot of the butt joint after scribing and making the second cut on the fender.  NOTE: To do the scribe you need to use the wheel lip trim piece as a fixture to hold the fender and patch panel in proper orientation because once you remove the fender skin from the reinforcing structure it will move.  To ensure you have the correct amount of metal there for the fender to hold the proper shape once rewelded the scribe has to be done with the two pieces clamped to the trim contour!

Now make sure that the contours of the fender lip as well as the door/rocker edge are correct and once they are you tack, check again and then you can finish the weld.

So some grinding and a bit of filler and you are back to good.  A few other things to mention, the rust in the structure was wire brushed off and treated with phosphoric acid.  It was then primed prior to rewelding.  Once the metal finishing is done the area that was worked on will be shot with 2K epoxy primer before the filler is applied.

As can be imagined, some minor rust was also found in the door skins, a small bit in the rockers and some forward of the rear wheels in the quarters (there were silver dollar sized rust holes in the quarters behind the rear wheels which were patched with metal years ago and still very solid.)  In all of these cases the root cause was trapped debris that was allowed to stay wet and be a site for rust to begin.  In each case the affected metal was removed, areas treated with phosphoric acid, primed and new metal welded in.  

     See the debris packed in the rocker??

D. Rear Window Channel and Sail Panel Corners Repaired!

posted May 6, 2016, 7:22 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 4:27 AM ]

With the vinyl roof off and the trunk filler panel removed the removal of the rusted metal and fabrication and replacement of new metal was completed.  Currently there are no rust patch panels being commercially reproduced for either the window channel profiles or the sheet metal surrounding the bottom corners of the rear window for GM A-Body cars. So you have just two choices - the first and expensive method would be to purchase a reproduction quarter panel and cut the areas from it to use as patches and the second is to fabricate your own to fit.
For those who are interested in making their repair we can supply both rear window channel patch panels as well as bottom corner sail panel patch panels for your 1968-1972 Chevelle.  For more information go to our "Chevelle & Monte Carlo Rear Window Rust Restoration" page or simply CLICK HERE.  Those patch panels were used for the following rear window rust repair..
The degree of rust damage was better than most A-Bodies of this vintage, here are shots of the Drivers and Passengers sides after everything was removed (vinyl roof, trim, rear window, package tray and trunk filler panel).

With the "truth" now exposed, the fabrication and installation of the required patches was preformed.  It required new window channels - a full quarter one on the passenger side and just the bottom corner on the driver side.  An area about 5" was also replaced on the passenger roof channel.  In addition, the bottom corners of the tops of the sail panels were replaced as well as a portion of the passenger side quarter where the rust had progressed.  Following are pictures of the highlights.  Additional installation tips are available for a free download on our "Technical Center / Downloads" page- you can get there by CLICKING HERE.

The results are good with a bit more metal finishing and a skim of filler and the patched areas will be invisible.  The trunk filler panel will be welded in after the body is media blasted - this because of the surface rust that is evident on the package tray panel that the trunk filler welds over.  The entire area will be epoxy primed and then the panel can be placed.

The next step is to begin the media blasting process.  The hood, fenders and doors will be removed and blasted (along with the trunk lid that has already been removed).  Any areas of rust that are uncovered on those parts will be addressed and then the roof, quarters and door jams will be blasted.

C. Beginning The Body Restoration - Rear Window Channel Rust

posted Apr 5, 2016, 4:39 PM by Dane Belden   [ updated Apr 5, 2016, 4:48 PM ]

Dane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, 1970 Chevelle SS, Window Channel Patch, Rear Window RustDane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, 1970 Chevelle SS, window channel patch, rear window rust

The original vinyl roof remains in place and aside from some minor separation on the passengers side rear it is in excellent condition.  Unfortunately what lays under it is not so pristine as you can see by the raised bubbles on the edge of the sail panel - signs or rust.  There are also some sign of rust stains in the trunk, but fortunately, no rust damage in the trunk itself, just stains from up above.

With some trepidation the vinyl top was removed - a process that was remarkable easy because the top itself was a bit brittle and the adhesive somewhat decayed.  What was revealed wasn't near as bad as it could have been, but to see the whole picture the trim as well as rear window and package tray must be removed.

Dane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, 1970 Chevelle SS, window channel patch, rear window rust

With everything stripped out here is the extent of the damage.  The passenger's side window channel shows rust over the entire quarter panel and the rust made it into the top of the sail panel all the way over to the ridge where the top and side of the sail panel meet on the quarter.  The driver's side was not nearly as bad with rust concentrating in the bottom corner and some pitting on the top plane of the sail panel.  There was also some weak area in the passenger side roof window channel that needs repair. Finally, the entire channel of the trunk filler panel was heavily pitted and will need to be replaced.

Dane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, 1970 Chevelle SS, window channel patch, rear window channel rust Dane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, window channel patch, rear window channel rust
Dane Belden, Belden Speed & Engineering, window channel patch, rear window channel rust

With the assessment complete, the work can now be planned.  Currently there are no reproduction patch panels for A-Body (Chevelle) window channels and window corner body sections.  The trunk filler panel which has the bottom window channel is available as a reproduction and one will be used for that portion of the restoration.  The remaining pieces will be hand fabricated and fit to the body prior to installation.  So the work required is:
  • Left and right quarter panel window channel patches need to be fabricated to be welded into the original sheet metal once the rusted metal is cut out
  • Small roof window channel patch is to be fabricated and welded in after the rusted area is removed
  • Passenger's side top of sail panel patch fabricated and welded in after the rusted area is cut out
  • Drivers side top and small area of side of sail panel patch to be fabricated and welded in where the rusted area is cut out
  • A new trunk filler panel will be purchased since it is available as a reproduction piece and the original panel removed and the new panel welded into place.

B. Before The Restoration Begins, A Bit More About The Car

posted Mar 4, 2016, 2:58 PM by Dane Belden   [ updated Oct 16, 2016, 9:18 AM ]

Belden Speed & Engineering, Dane Belden, Belden Speed, 1970 Chevelle

After Belden Speed & Engineering was formed the car that really started my passion for cars came home.  My father was the Shepard of this car from 1984 until 2015.  I cannot state how important he is to me and how important is was to saving this 1970 Chevelle SS.  

After graduating from college in 1980 I started on a career that took me away from seriously working on cars.  While most of my peers sold their cars of their youth, my father willingly held on to both my Chevelle and my 1959 Corvette.  His passion for cars, love of his son and space to accommodate my cars over the years is what has made possible the restoration of this particular Chevelle.  

During the time my father had the car in his care he did more than house it.  In 1999 he decided to restore the mechanical systems of the car which included rebuilding the engine and transmission as well as new exhaust system.  He also had some cosmetic work done on the car to preserve it so that a future restoration could be done.  Well, the future is now.

This is an honest two-owner SS Chevelle, with my ownership approaching 40 years!  It is a no-hit car with matching numbers and is largely a survivor with 115,466.5 original miles.  The plan for the car is to bring it back to how it left the Oshawa, Ontario factory on November 13, 1969.  While there will be a great deal of labor in doing so, chasing of parts isn't an issue as it is complete so the restoration will be faithful.  

The original owner of this Chevelle has been contacted and we have had an opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves.  With luck, if his travels bring him to Williamsburg he will have an opportunity to see it again.  This car was custom ordered for his wife as her "go to work" car - she was a teacher and luckily married to a car guy.  In the world of high-end SS Chevelles this really isn't all that special.  It has the 396/350 engine with the TH400.  It was ordered Shadow Gray Metallic without the factory stripes and it has a bench seat (they were newlyweds after all).  What is special about the car is its known history and how it has shaped the lives of the two owners.

Because this is a Canadian car, its history is easily traced.  You can contact GM Canada and provide them a VIN and a check ($58.30 in 2006) and they will send you the information about the car - you can see that data below.
Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering, Dane Belden, 1970 ChevelleBelden Speed & Engineering, Belden Speed, Dane Belden, 1970 Chevelle
click or each page to see it expanded - use the "back" button to return

So while this 1970 Chevelle SS may not be a highly optioned car, it is very original and its documentation and history is very well known.

The plan for restoration will begin with the obvious rust repair.  As will almost every GM A body car of this period, the rear window is showing signs of rust in the window channels.  While there are rust stains in the trunk, there is no issue with the trunk floorpan.  Is is due mainly to my father's care for those many years.  While it wasn't on the road from 1984 to 1999, it was always in a garage.  When I purchased the car in 1977 there was evidence of this window leak and while I used RTV to try to seal the window (by "used RTV" I mean I literally ran it around the trim on both sides to try to seal it to the glass and body.  Hey, I was a kid - what did I know?).  

There is no other rust visible, but the body will be taken to bare metal and it will  be repainted in the original Shadow Gray Metallic (code 17).  Mechanically both the front and rear suspensions will be completely rebuilt as the original bushings are still in the control arms.  At this point there is no plan to do a body-off restoration as the condition doesn't warrant that, but time will tell when it starts coming apart.  Check back for details as major work will be documented and an abbreviated overview of it will appear on this site.

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