On the grille
I had a several problems with the assembly of the grille. One of the problems is the car arrived with the grille missing so I was trying to put the grille in the car without having seen how it was originally. Another problem is the owner is cloning this ’69 El Camino back to a ’68. The cars are very nearly the same, except for the grille, so I had some trouble with parts that looked the same but were just different enough so that they wouldn’t interchange. But the biggest problem is the grille is composed of at least 20 different pieces. I pity the guys that had to build this thing on a moving assembly line back in 1968.
Anyway, after realizing I was in over my head I called Collin Hinshaw at Ausley’s Chevelle Parts. What Collin doesn’t know about Chevelles, and by extension, second and third generation El Camino’s, really isn’t worth knowing. He stopped by the shop this afternoon, looked at the parts I had, and made a list of the pieces that were missing or incorrect. Later in the evening, he stopped by the shop and showed me how to put all the parts together into one assembled grille.
Unfortunately Ausley’s didn’t have a couple of critical pieces, so we weren’t able to finish the assembly of the grille tonight, but Collin’s knowledge got me over the hump so as soon as the two missing parts arrive I can put the grille together.
The first photo shows a couple of the corner pieces of the grille in place. This is about as far as I got before I started running into problems.
In the second picture Collin (left) is in the shop helping us test fit the pieces in place. Not everything went together quite as well as I hoped. This car has a mixture of OEM (Original Equipment Manufactured) NOS (New Old Stock … basically left over original replacement parts) and reproduction parts. When these classics are rebuilt using reproduction parts they don’t always go together quite as well as one would like.
The third photo shows Collin (right) and Chris working to see if the corner molding is going to fit properly. They didn’t and new holes had to be drilled for them. This is where Collin was a tremendous help because he could say, “Make this work here like this.” and I could then make it work. Without his expertise I would wondering if something was assembled incorrectly, or if I had the wrong part … or it just didn’t fit properly and needed a little persuasion.
In the fourth picture you can see Chris doing a little persuading on a part. Look out the windows behind him. See how dark it is outside? That’s right … we are so cool we wear sunglasses at night.
In the fifth picture I am cutting a template to mark where some holes need to be drilled in the valance. I’m not sure why the valance doesn’t ship with the required holes already drilled, but it doesn’t. You can see me drilling the holes in the valance in the sixth picture while Chris (left) and Collin (right) hold everything in place.
Finally, in the seventh picture, we are putting the grille into the car … and it still didn’t fit. It was close, but the brackets Chris worked on earlier need some more work, but in a different place this time. You can see me working on the bracket with a die-grinder in the eighth picture.
While we didn’t get the grille installed tonight, everything has been test fit and aligned. Once the missing brackets arrive we will be able to finish getting the grille into the car and check that off the to-do list.
And that is a good thing. I don’t have enough hair to keep tearing it out like that.