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ripleydale

Minni Monte

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I decided to show and tell you guys (and gals) what I’m up to with my Monte Carlo. Minni Monte is an original 402 bucket car that I purchased in Minnesota and drove back through a snow storm to Alberta. Looked ok, ran ok, but creaked and groaned over bumps, and wasn’t much of a tire melter.

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Minni Monte

I started taking it apart a few years ago and I’m afraid if I don’t expose myself to you, I might miss another summer without it running. I’d really like to make the mini meet in Penticton this year, and June is coming up faster than I know. I’ve used many excuses to delay working on this project, and I’d like you all to hold me accountable to move forward.

Starting a Monte project is a little like taking on a Hydra. You cut off one head, and two more appear. I started by thinking about rebuilding a 454 I had purchased before finding Minni. I thought I could build a motor to thrash and not worry about blowing up, and keep the 402 in mothballs. I knew I should look into the suspension since I would have the motor out, and then might as well clean up the firewall and make things prettier, and probably should get rid of the A/C setup and ... well you know how it goes.

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Original 402 and Engine Compartment

I find I’m pretty good at taking stuff apart, but not so good at putting it back together. And when I think I’m going to screw things up, I take a long time to get there. Pulling the motor and tranny weren’t too tough. You have to like working in Monte engine compartments. I can only tell you from experience to take a lot of digital pictures and bag and tag your parts. The photos have proven invaluable a few times, and I often wish I had more of them from different angles.

In the beginning it was mostly thinking about the motor and drive train. I knew I had a pretty good block in a 74 454 truck motor with 781 heads. It all needed to be rebuilt and I remembered rebuilding a 396 when I was 18 with a friend. It seemed pretty easy as I remembered, kind of like putting a model together. I still had my ring compressor and even the 30 year old Crane assembly lube. If the motor ends up running strong and holds together, I’ll tell you it was a wonderful experience and I learned many things while doing it. If it blows up, falls apart or leaks, I’ll tell you I wish I’d bought a crate motor. Time will tell. My research led me to rebuild the 781 casting heads and put in bigger valves. Recent posts have suggested maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. We’ll see. The machine shop did a little porting but nothing too significant.

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Rebuilt%20781s%202.jpg

I decided on a Comp Cams hydraulic roller (XR276) kit that came with everything including the springs. Melling high volume pump, ARP rod and head bolts, Edlebrock RPM Airgap and Hooker headers. Armed with my “Rebuilding Your Big Block Chevy” book, over way too long a time, and with various learning experiences, I eventually rebuilt the motor. I learned that the new push rods were a larger diameter so the guide plates needed to be replaced. I learned that truck oil pans aren’t the same, and that if you forget to put the cam button on, clean the threads of the cam sprocket bolts and holes before installing again. I decided to trust my machine shop after screwing up the rod bearings trying to pull them apart after plastigauging. I ended up going to the US for a single 20 over rod bearing. Edlebrock says don’t use those rubber gasket things on the ends of your intake manifold. Read that a little too late. We’ll see if there’s a good reason to follow that rule after I try to start it up.

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Short%20Block%20Assembly.jpg
Rocker%20Arms.jpg
Mostly%20Complete%20454.jpg

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As I started looking at the front end once the motor was out, it was pretty clear I was looking at a pretty worn out suspension. I knew the springs had cheaters in them, but the state of the control arms was interesting. Restoring the control arms was another long term project/learning lesson where after extensive sand blasting, I removed the old bushings with much effort. I also learned how to remove the original rivets holding the upper ball joint. I wish I’d inspected them more carefully before I spent so much time cleaning worn out control arms. I got another set from my buddy Vaughn, and then proceeded to destroy them trying to install the new bushings. After much consideration, I decided I would get after market tubular control arms. I ended up with CPP because they seemed nice and less expensive. I found out later they mimic the original, and a different brand could have made it handle better. Another lesson. They look nice.

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I had some poly body bushings from an SS I bought, and thought I should put them on this car, as I want to restore the SS to original. So you read the posts, and then off to the garage to see what breaks. I started on the driver’s side and it went pretty well until the one under the front seats. Snapped that one off, but the rest of the hidden nuts came out well. The two at the firewall were another good time. You take everything out of the way, soak them to death with penetrating oil, and then find a really strong friend to jam an open end wrench in there to hold the nut and you go at it from the bottom. No way to do that one by yourself. As I pulled out the driver’s side bushings, it was pretty clear that some of the hardware was rusted into oblivion. I ended up ordering a poly bushing hardware kit and that was the last of my excuses to finish off the body bushings. Sort of a zero point for building the car back up. I cut a hole in the body to expose the cage nut. What a weird looking nut that is. Opened the passenger side hole to try penetrating fluid first, but still ended up snapping the bolt on that side too. All the rest came out pretty well. With various bits and pieces from the original and new hardware kit, it’s all back together. This paragraph might seem like pretty fine progress, but it probably happened over a period of 12 months. You can see why I need help.

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Body Bushings and Hardware Kit

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Cage Nut Exposed

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Spent a lot of time pulling bits and pieces off the engine compartment to clean it up and paint things. Lots of time scraping, sanding, wire brushing and other methods to clean the various parts. I can see that doing a true frame off restoration on the SS is going to take a lot of time and commitment. Fortunately I ordered a few different kinds of paint from Eastwood before Alberta put some ban on their import. I had some chassis satin black which I used on the firewall and things like the rad support, and some cast grey that I used on the steering box and spindles. I used POR15 on the frame. I also used the zinc dichromate cad plating paint kit on the brake booster and lid, as well as a few brake parts. I should have done that in the summer, that’s for sure. Fumes are toxic in my pretend basement paint booth.

Painted%20Master%20Cylinder%20and%20Boos


I pulled the old carpet and was surprised by the state of the floors. I thought they were quite solid but after a fair amount of work with a wire wheel, I had identified the areas with rust holes. I don’t have the ability or tools to weld the floors so my theory was to fibreglass them with POR 15 as my resin. The stuff seemed to dry like cement on the frame and my skin, so I thought it might stay better than fibreglass resin. I’ll be putting fatmat on the inside and I plan to put some undercoat on the bottom of the car beneath the repairs. The holes explain the “leak” that kept getting the carpet wet. I have it painted in POR 15 and ready for the fatmat, but I want to cut the hole for the 5 speed and sort that out first.

Floor%20and%20Rust.jpg

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Nice progress! Can't wait to see the finished project.

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Nice work! Great write-up too. I think after replacing body bushings and rebuilding your big-block, everything else is a piece of cake! laugh

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Kelly,

 

Thanks for exposing yourself! wink

 

Looks like you are making good progress but sounds like you are getting a little down on the project. Hang in there my friend, you will get it done. Putting it all back together and getting it running and driving proper are very time consuming.

 

I know everybody says don't set a time limit on your projects, but I do!!!!

 

I find that if I say I need "xyz" done in two weeks it motivates me a little more and I seem to find the extra hours to get it done. Then I set a timeline on my next step. I find breaking it down into smaller projects helps.

 

Anyways its looking great and keep us posted!! Call if you need anything.

 

See you in Penticton. cool

 

Vaughn

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Nice progress there. Thats the way these old cars are, one thing snowballs to another.

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Kelly Nice job. I went through the same thing as you on the body, 1 thing after the next. I havent even started the motor yet, i am sure that will be fun. Like Vaughn said hang in there, you have great progress going, keep it up!!!

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Thanks for the encouragement. It helps. Cleaning and painting some front end stuff today like the hood release and brackets. Thought I’d show you some of the A/C delete work I did. Not a lot of call for A/C up here, but I know I’ll miss it if I try and get to some of the Western Meets. I remember driving through Washington in a 72 Monte at about 110 degrees. You kept the windows closed because the air was too hot. Like many things, I had the parts for a while, and I think it was from OPG. It fit very well and didn’t pose any issues in the conversion.

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AC%20Delete%20Prep.jpg
Blower%20AC%20Delete.jpg

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Nice work Kelly,so how tough is it to replace the body bushings without removing the body? I'm planning on tackling the same..........

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wow great job It brings back so many good and bad memories of doing my car I had the very same problem with my body mounts and did just what you did. hang in there it will get done and you will spend more them planned if that was even a thought. I remember telling a friend I dont know how I am ever going to get this back together, I did not remember where thing went even from the pics and labeing I did but funny thing, one thing followed another the car went back together and all I had left was the old parts I replaced. But can anyone tell me why I saved some parts I or no one will ever want or use. LOL keep up the good work I finished mine just 2 weeks before the eastern meet in june 11 carsile it was my first trip out of the area made it to and from no issues met a great bunch of fgmc members and now enjoy the car when ever I can, we still had no snow and it was near 60 so I was out crusing sat a week ago. dvae

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Nice progress! I see 502 emblems - did you build a 454 or 502?

 

You are inspiring me to do my body bushings.......

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Dave M and others, you give me hope.

The body bushings weren't too bad. I pulled or broke everything on one side. Then I loosened or broke everything on the other side. The tough ones for me were the firewall mounts, mostly because I needed someone strong who knew how to hold a wrench. As noted, I ended up cutting holes to find the other side of two of the cage nuts. There is actually a little bump in the floor pretty much directly over the nut so easy to figure out where to cut. I started small using a cutting disc on my dremel tool (also handy to cut off wheel bearings stuck on spindle) and then enlarged when I could see where things where. So with one side out and one side loosened, I just used a 2x4 and a jack to lift up the body (frame resting on 4 jack stands). Tried to put the 2x4 under stronger parts of the body, but at the back, there isn't much room. So I pushed up the body, and pulled out the rest of the bushings, starting at the back. Ended up moving the jack about 3 times per side to get the clearance I needed to remove all of them. I didn't want to put too much pressure on the floor. I used the poly mounts so I lubed them with some silicon brake grease where ever there was poly and metal. Put the one side back together, again loosely, and then pushed up the body on the other side and repeated the process. I had to play around a bit on the rad support to make sure everything lined up but that might just have been my car. Torque everything down once you get it back together.

The kit bolts were smaller than the originals, so if you're going back into your cage nuts, you need the original bolts. I had enough of mine that cleaned up well so I reused them. For the broken cage nut and the two on the firewall (which snapped too), I used the bolts from the kit. Not sure why they only provide 2 nuts, when the bolts are too small for the cage nuts. I ended up using all the kit washers and quite a few of my originals too. Based on the sad state of my originals, I'm really hoping to notice the difference. Bushings in the control arms are bound to help too. smile.gif

The motor is a 60 over 454 which I think is 468. I bought the valve covers with some other heads (anyone need peanut port heads? - another learning experience). I understand it's just a sticker and I can get the 454 one from GM or aftermarket. Hoping I don't have clearance issues with the brake booster.

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After purchasing a nice torque converter for my new setup, I switched gears in my head, and decided I wanted a standard. I converted a Monte when I was a teenager to buckets and a console 4 speed. I shudder to think how I mounted those seats. I was thinking about Muncies, but they seemed very expensive around here. I started looking at Tremec 5 speed conversions and eventually ended up going with a Keisler RS500 setup. I got everything I needed to convert my automatic console into the 5 speed.

Installing the pedals went pretty well. My next goal was to mount the hydraulic clutch cylinder on the firewall. The Keisler instructions said the mount for 68-72A bodies had to be inserted from the inside of the firewall. I didn’t quite get it at first, but the odd lip on the outside of the firewall would need to be modified to make it sit flat. It does seem easier to create the hole so you can pass it from the inside. The existing holes match but you need to drill them out a bit for the bolts they provide. After a few attempts at things, I ended up using the cutting wheel on my dremel to hack the right hole in the firewall plate.

I also learned how to install and remove the brake master cylinder assembly through repetition. Once so I could drill out the old holes for the firewall plate, and once more when I realized I had to mount the hydraulic clutch fluid reservoir somewhere, and behind the vacuum booster was a good spot. I’ll connect the brake lines when I really believe I’m done taking that thing off. The fitting on the clutch master cylinder from the reservoir needs to be rerouted a bit to clear the booster.

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Firewall%20Plate%20Clutch%20Hole%20Hack.
Clutch%20Master%20Cylinder%20Mounted.jpg
Clutch%20Master%20Cylinder%20Mounted%20I

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Nice! I would love to have a 5/6 speed in the Monte!

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4%20Speed%20Hump%20and%20Cutout.jpg

I haven’t spent too much time on the Monte lately, at least not that shows. I built an oil priming tool out of an old distributor, I’m cleaning up the wiring (say a prayer) and I finished cutting the hole for the 4 speed hump last weekend. Vaughn had a nice shot of an original from the bottom that helped me a lot in deciding what I was going to cut. I’m hoping I don’t need to adjust it.

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Here’s my console with the 5 speed plate and the shifter. Every time I see that shifter I can’t help but pick it up and go through the gears making car noises like a little kid.

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One of my next steps is to mount the bell housing and check the centering on the crank. I’m hoping that will happen on the weekend.

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RS500.jpg

Here’s the transmission. You can see the CSC (Concentric Slave Cylinder) on the input shaft. This replaces the fork and the throw out bearing from the stock setup.

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nicepost

 

Wow, nice work. I gotta admit I didn't open your thread until now because I thought it was about a "model" of a Monte, like as in plastic when I first read the title "Minni Monte".

 

Nice pics and write up about it, keep them coming... cool

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nicepost

 

Wow, nice work. I gotta admit I didn't open your thread until now because I thought it was about a "model" of a Monte, like as in plastic when I first read the title "Minni Monte".

 

Nice pics and write up about it, keep them coming... cool

ditto Keep up the nice work. That is going to be a nice setup!

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