When it comes to restoring your super Chevy, there are certain things you know you can do without, and others you can't. In the case of a more desirable car, such as this L78-equipped SS396 '69 Camaro convertible, there is not much you would forsake regarding the restoration process. Such was the thought process of Melvin Benzaquen and his Classic Restoration Enterprises crew. This lucky first-gen F-body was undergoing a full-on restoration, and we tagged along as the car underwent the blocking and jambing portion of the build.
The car in question is, as stated, an original 375 hp 396 Camaro drop-top. The car was Olympic Gold at first, but had been repainted black. Now that the car was in Classic Restoration's hands, the color would once again be changed, this time to Daytona Blue. This particular car was in good shape, making for an easier time when it came to working the body panels in preparation for the ensuing slathering of color.
Before any work was done, the doors and quarterpanels were misted in a light coat of prime
Before any sort of color or primer was laid down on the flanks of the Camaro, the car was misted with a smidgen of primer to prepare it for block sanding. Block sanding reveals any high and low spots in the body that need to be corrected.
"Block sanding the body makes all the previous work arrow-straight," explains Melvin Benzaquen, Classic Restoration's owner. "If the block sanding process is omitted, the paint will look wavy and not have depth. This is a critical process that will reflect the many hours of work that have been performed up to this point. This step is time consuming, though, meaning it will require many labor hours, so some shops may omit it. It is equally important no matter what the color is, but the darker colors reflect the work more than the light ones."
As for the time frame, that depends on the size of the car, among other factors. "Generally, block sanding takes about three to four days," Benzaquen continues. "It depends on the size of the car and how good the bodywork was done."
In addition to blocking the car, Classic Restoration also jambed it. By jambing, we mean the door and trunk jambs were primered, painted, and clearcoated separate of the rest of the sheetmetal. "The edges of the car and the doors cannot be properly painted while on the car," he comments. "Also, the edges are much cleaner if you can paint them prior to painting the car." Before the jambs were painted, though, the crew laid on the front end, fenders included, along with the doors and the hood, to set the gaps. "If we were to finalize the alignments after the car is painted, the areas being adjusted will scratch the paint. The measurement we are looking for is even and consistent gaps throughout."
With that in mind, stay with us as we check out how to block sand and jamb a big-block Camaro.
Martin proceeded to commence sanding with the long block, running it lightly over the pass
To avoid taking off a load of material in one shot, Martin used 320-grit sandpaper through
Once the portion of the door above the bodyline was sanded, Martin went below the bodyline