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1968 Chevrolet Camaro Frame Rail - Frame Job
We Fix Our Folded Floor With A New Frame Rail From National Parts Depot
Feb 17, 2009
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Best of Show Coachworks
San Marcos, CA 92069
Appleton, WI 54912
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1968 Chevrolet Camaro Frame Rail - Frame Job
After removing the right quarter-panel we noticed that the damage to the rear framerail was worse than we thought. It was deformed in several places and, if left unchecked, would play havoc with the geometry of the car.
Before we started cutting away parts off the old frame we tacked in some braces to keep the rear of the car from sagging.
More evidence of the trauma inflicted on our ’68 was this compression bulge in the trans tunnel. Obviously the hit to the back of the car was severe enough to buckle the floor and was never properly fixed the first time.
Given that the back of the car was only pushed in around an inch, we decided to try to pull out the damage ourselves. Dick Kvamme of Best Of Show Coach Works (BOS) started by cutting a hole in the old framerail with his trusty Miller plasma cutter.
With the hole cut, he then mounted an eyelet. This will give us a good leverage point to try and fix the car’s off-kilter geometry.
To make pulling the floor easier, we cut away several sections of the old frame. Hey, we’re going to eventually remove it anyways. If we wanted to pull the floor without weakening the framerail we would need better equipment, like a full-on frame rack.
Dick continued to remove large sections of framerail with the Miller plasma cutter. For now we just concentrated on getting rid of the big areas. We will trim off the flanges later when we’re ready to put in the new rail.
Using a combination of a hydraulic ram and a BFH (big freakin’ hammer) we carefully worked the front section to remove most of the bulge in the trans tunnel. During this procedure we stopped several times to take measurements and check our progress.
Once we had the front where we wanted it, we flipped the ram around to work on the back half. The front of the ram is braced on the same eyelet we added earlier and the rear is up against the last small section of framerail we left in place. With the frame cut away, this area was fairly easy to “adjust.” Again, we stopped several times to check and measure our progress. After all, if we went too far that would just create more work.
With the adjustments to the car done, Dick could then carefully remove the rest of the framerail. He was careful not to remove too much since that would make stitching in the new NPD rail more difficult than it needs to be.
Here’s our new replacement frame rail from National Parts Depot (PN C-12986-13A, $179.95). It has all of the same features of our factory rail including e-brake cable brackets and all of the proper attachment points. Best of all, it feels quite a bit heavier than OEM framerail.
To check fitment, Chris Gordziel of BOS temporarily affixed the frame to the bottom side of our Camaro using several sheetmetal screws. The new framerail fit perfectly and the only trimming we needed to do was on the back end which was about an inch too long. Better than too short.
Using a frame gauge we first cross checked to make sure our work was square. This is critical as an out-of-square car is a nightmare to bolt parts to and align.
We also checked that we had the framerail in level relative to the factory rail on the left side of the car. This is a bit tricky given that the lift isn’t perfectly level, but after a few measurements we were able to tell that we were very close.
Once we were satisfied that our new framerail was in the right location we went ahead and added more screws to hold it in place for welding.
Before welding we used a 3M Scotch-Brite Rolo clean and strip disc to remove the EDP coating from the new framerail and the undercoat and grime from the bottom of Track Rat.
This was the perfect chance for us to try out our new Miller MIG welder. There are larger units at the shop, but they were being used in the other building. This deal is fully self-contained, and at only 45 lbs, easy to drag over to the Camaro. It can run on either 115 volts or 230 volts and has a small self-contained gas cylinder that’s good for up to 25 minutes of welding—more than enough to tack our NPD frame rail into place.
Chris worked his way around the perimeter of the framerail and made small tack welds with the Miller. As he worked his way up to one of the existing screws it was removed, and a tack thrown over the hole.
Remember when we said the new NPD rail was much heavier than the stock? Well, we weren’t kidding. It’s easily three to four times thicker (13-gauge) than the thin material used by GM. This will equate to much more rear stiffness. In fact, we were very tempted to replace the left side with one of the stronger NPD units. It’s nice to see an aftermarket part actually made better than the original stuff.
With the rail tacked in place, Dick finished up welding the framerail in place. The entire perimeter doesn’t need to be welded. After all, the factory rail is just pinch-welded in a few spots.
The last step was to seam seal the entire perimeter of the fresh framerail. In our case we used Lord Fusor 123EZ No-Sag seam sealer. Total time from start to finish, not including the time to fix the floor, was about 10 hours.
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