1956 Chevrolet BelAir Car Restoration Project - Part 3
Steve Nicholson has over 20 years' experience in the body and paint field and started Classic Body Works in 1992. He and his crew will be working through the restoration of this 1956 Chevrolet BelAir and has agreed to share their experience with Second Chance Garage readers. For restoration tips, be sure to visit Steve's tech tip blog, AutoRestoration101.com
We now have the body of the car disassembled and everything has been "tagged and bagged." We put most all of the parts into large plastic storage containers. All of the nuts, bolts and fasteners were placed into plastic sandwich baggies. We used to write parts on the plastic bags with a permanent marker, but the markers tend not to be permanent. So, using a tip we picked up from Second Chance Garage, we now write a description of the parts and where they were used on paper and place it into the baggy also.
Removing trim parts from old cars is often confusing if you are not familiar with how they are attached. I know from experience that it's real easy to bend a good trim piece if it doesn't come off easily. When removing trim take your time. If it proves difficult to remove and you get frustrated, take a break and work on something else for awhile. Come back to it and think it through carefully. When possible, check shop manuals or any other information that describes how the pieces is attached. Stainless trim is getting harder and harder to find and aftermarket trim just doesn't fit like the original trim.
The side trim was carefully removed using a putty knife to pop the clips from the holes in the body. I covered the end of the putty knife with masking tape to protect the trim. You will need to pay special attention when removing side trim because some of the fasteners are bolted or screwed to the body. On this car each end of the door trim was bolted and also the front of the quarter trim.
The rear glass upper trim corners are fastened to the body with a threaded clip and the nut is hidden under the rubber trim on the inside of the car. A special trim tool was used to remove the stainless trim at the top and bottom of the rear glass. The tool gently releases the clip from the trim allowing the trim to be carefully pulled off. The glass rubber seal was very brittle so we decided to cut the rubber away with a razor blade to remove the rear glass.
The windshield trim is a little different from the rear glass trim. The bottom windshield stainless is attached with one center clip on the cowl, one threaded clip that has a nut under the dash and a clip on the lower corner. You first remove the nut under the dash and then carefully lift the trim and slide each end off of the clips. Once each lower piece is removed you can access the screws for the corner trim pieces. After the corners are removed, the screws for the upper trim are exposed. The top stainless trim is attached to the rubber seal and can be removed along with the glass. When removing the headliner, it's a good idea to number the headliner bows from front to back so that they can be re-installed into the correct positions. They are usually different lengths and it greatly eases the installation if they are in the original order.
When we removed the headliner and seats we found some mice nests. So before proceeding to do further work on the car we decided to roll it outside and spray it out with the pressure washer.
The doors, hood, front fenders, glass and interior have all been removed from the car. The engine is still in the car and will be removed later. After we had everything taken apart we started carefully looking over the body and noticed that the right rear floor had a metal patch installed at one time. Both front lower quarter panels had been replaced and the left rocker had a slip-on rocker panel riveted on over the old rusty original. The right front floor had more rust than expected so we will be replacing it as well. The rear tail panel and the rear-most portion of the trunk floor also previously had major rust repair.
Our next step will be to repair the structure of the car before it is placed on the rotisserie. We made a list of sheet metal parts that are needed for the repairs and the car's owner agreed to pick them up for us. More to come!