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S. Paint Complete, The Reassembly Begins

posted Nov 15, 2015, 6:05 AM by Dane Belden   [ updated Nov 15, 2016, 11:53 AM ]
The reward for painting the car is always the reassembly stage where you can really see the reward of the work an preparation.  The hours of preparation, wet sanding and then buffing really pay off.  To review, the entire body was media blasted to remove the 4 layers of paint and to do this the fenders, doors and tailgate were removed.  Each component was then prepared and painted, so there is quite a bit of reassembly in this case.

The first panels put on the Shop Truck were the doors.  Because the hinges were rebuilt, the process was basically begun from scratch.  Keep in mind that there is quite a bit of hinge adjustment - front to back, top to bottom and in and out.  Because the fenders are put on after the doors are hung, the alignment begins by adjusting the door to quarter panel fit along with the door to rocker fit. Once these lines are parallel then you begin the in and out adjustment to get the body panels to match as close as possible.  There will likely be additional adjustment required once the front fenders are on, so be prepared to revisit this area.  This process took about 4 hours and really takes two people.
Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering
It is difficult to photograph the gap at this stage because the striker and latch are not on the car and it has new weatherstripping on the door, so the door won't close and stay in the opening, but the photo above shows the result.  Also keep in mind that the quarter panels were welded on the car with the doors on to ensure good body line fit once reassembled.

The tailgate was then assembled and installed.  This process was much more straightforward.  Here you do need to have the back corner bed molding installed to establish the correct height of the tailgate on each corner.  There is no gap adjustment for the tailgate - you basically get what the El Camino was born with from the factory if you didn't replace your entire inner bed (which we didn't).
Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & EngineeringDane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering

Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering
You will notice that all of the chrome bed trim has been installed in these photographs.  This is a fairly involved process if you have replaced your quarter panels and back bed panel as was done here.  The corner moldings need to all be re-established as does the horizontal trim that run under the back window.  This took the better part of a day to do on this El Camino.  Here you need to be overly careful not to scratch the paint as it can happen quickly as it did with us.  We ended up with a scrape the size of a grain of rice which will have to be blended - a process we will undertake once everything is re-assembled and the risk of more "mistakes" is gone.  

Also installed with the tailgate were new tailgate straps and springs as well as the body to bumper seal - the originals were very dried up and cracking, so out with the old and in with the new.  Most of the original chrome trim was installed with the exception of the 2 horizontal pieces under the window and on the cap of the tailgate - these were NOS GM parts.  There is a great deal of "chatter" about the poor fit of reproduction bed chrome, so it was decided to use NOS GM metal.  As difficult as it can be to put the bed trim on it isn't clear that there really is an issue with reproduction trim not fitting well, or it is just the trim in general is finicky.

The rear bumper as well as the front fenders were put on today and the final gaps set, that is until the hood goes on.  It could be that the radiator core support will need to be moved some for a good fit of the hood which may necessitate more tweaking of the gaps at the door.  Nonetheless, all is well thus far.  The door internals were put back and the latches and strikers are set so now the weather strip can be properly compressed allowing for final panel alignment.
Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering
Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering
Dane Belden, Belden Speed, Belden Speed & Engineering



The speakers were sent out to get re-coned and were installed along with the dashpad.  The next step will be the installation of a new windshield and rear window which will be coming up!