Keegan's Pacer Project (Archive)

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Update! - I have created a 'project' area for my '68 VE Sedan. For those that are interested, check it out here!

This page was created to show everyone how VH Pacer #916 has been going in its restoration.

Latest updates:

22 December 2004 » Fixing a few engine problems
03 May 2004 » Engine buildup and painting engine bay
18 February 2004 » Started on the engine side of things
09 February 2004 » Polished and painted mags
06 January 2004 » Cut, buffed and waxed the paint
28 December 2003 » Progress of the painting

Questions, Comments? Feel free to send me an email!
22 December 2004 - Fixing a few engine problems

Well it has been a long time since the last update. A lot of things have happened since then with the car and my life - I've now finished the last semester of my degree and so have time to spent on the old girl over the end of year holidays. I'm not sure if anyone reads this either and so 'project updates' have not been a high priority.

Since the last update I have installed HEI ignition and replaced the 4 BBL Holley 600 'new generation' carby with a 600 vacuum secondary 'normal style' carby. I got the new generation one off E-bay and it was shit. So I forked out and got the current one new from Holley direct to avoid any troubles. I put it on out of the box and it went well with only minor tuning required to suit the 265. The HEI ignition system uses a Bosch module and a Bosch HEI coil that is OEM equipment on the VK commodore engines. I hooked it up with a Chrysler electronic distributor (OEM), bypassed the ballast resistor and voila, it now has a stronger spark throughout the rev range at a constant 12 volt. The difference between the HEI and what I previously had was impressive, it was more than I expected. I definitely recommended this upgrade. I will put up some pictures when the engine is back in and the above mods are reinstalled!

I pulled the engine out 7/12/04. This was for a few reasons:

  • major slipping clutch on medium to hard launches
  • valve bounce at higher rpms due to stock (new) 80 lbs. valve springs
  • oil leak out of gearbox selectors (replace O rings)
  • oil leak out of rear seal on gearbox, through new seal installed in May
  • oil leak through rear of sump, where it goes over the crank (rubber seal)

As well as the above, after pulling the engine I also discovered a leak in my timing cover, a couple of the " bolts had snapped their head off from age and/or too much torque. I also had a leak from the head gasket (oil / coolant).

As of this update, I have:

  • bought a PBR RPM clutch kit to fix the slipping clutch
  • bought a new flywheel because the other one was too thin to be machined
  • bought some 130 lbs. performance valve springs
  • replaced the O rings in the 3 speed selectors
  • replaced the rear gearbox seal and added some sealant to help
  • pulled off sump and added sealant to the rubber seal
  • pulled off the head and have cleaned the block
  • have got the head machined so the new valve springs can be fitted

And that is about it for now! I should have the engine back in the car in a couple of days or when I get back from a holiday to sunny Queensland, depending on how much luck I have.


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3 May 2004 - Engine buildup and painting engine bay

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18 February 2004 - Started on the engine side of things

I have located a 265 head and have started to work on it. The valves were pulled, all bits were removed and the head was blasted with glass bead to bring the head down to bare metal again. The springs and retainers also received a quick blast in case I can use them down the track a bit. The valves also were blasted very finely at low pressure to remove scale. Currently I have removed the head studs that wanted to move, and the rest I am drilling out.

I have also started to seriously look into my engine, to build it up before I chuck it back into the old girl. Its the original pacer block so I am keen to keep my modifications relatively mild - I don't want to go breaking this block. Using a micrometer I have measured each bore in 4 different locations, and there is minimal wearing and no lip. Out of all the measurements of the different bores, the worst variation (from original) was 3 thou. This co-incides with what I was told when I bought the pacer, which was that the car had been sitting for 10 to 15 years in its lifetime. There are minor marks in the bores from the rings, where the engine has sat and there are slight 'stains' in the bore. It may just need a hone and some rings, or perhaps an overbore of 10 thou. I will most likely let the engine builder decide what needs to be done.

I pulled the balancer, water pump, timing cover, timing chain and camshaft sprocket before dropping the oil and removing the sump. The camshaft has some strange pitting in some of the lobes, which I can only assume is due to the engine have been sitting for some period of time. It looks like I'll be needing a regrind at least, or I may opt to go for a new billet cam - I'm not sure at this stage. I'm not sure what spec cam I'm aiming for either, probably something along the lines of E38 or a modern version of the E49. Something that can run with a 4 barrel and a bit of head porting.

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9 February 2004 - Polished and painted mags

The rear end of the car was jacked up so the wheels were off the ground. This made it easier for polishing the wheels. The polishing kit was one that was purchased from Bunnings, and it contained two polish blocks (hard and soft) and two applicators that attach to a drill (again, hard and soft). Leaving the wheels on the car made it easier for polishing the larger surfaces of the wheel and also meant I could do it sitting on a crate (not breaking my back...). The first, hard compound was used to remove minor scratches and pitting in the surface of the alloy. The pad was pressed down enough so that the wheel turned freely, enabling easy access to all parts of the rim without having to move.

Once this part of the polishing was starting to take shape, I could start to see a shine develop in the alloy. After the second (soft) pad was used with the soft polshing brick, an instant chrome like effect was achieved as it wiped away the first polish and removed minor swirl marks that were created by the first polish. I was pleased with the effect! Once all surfaces had been touched, I pulled the rim off and scrubbed it down thoroughly with Jiff to remove any excess polish and to generally clean the wheel and tire. The white text on the tire really came up well with a bit of Jiff - no need for using a white pen on them to re-whiten the text.

The next step was to paint the jelly holes. Two stripes of 50mm masking tape were used per jelly bean hole, placed on the front side of the rim. Once the tape was stuck down hard, the valve was masked and the holes were degreased. Red enamel paint was sprayed into the holes through the back of the rim. Last time I did this, I only did two light coats and it didn't work well. This time I did 4 or 5 coats per hole with a gap of roughly 30 minutes between coats. They came up well. Once all rims were done, the tape was removed and the centres were painted with matte black paint by brush. Next, each rim recieved a minor rub down with some Autosol metal polishing compound to give the alloy a bit more shine (nothing too significant) and to remove any overspray from the red and the mistakes from the black.

Next, the old screws that hold on the previous caps were removed. Some screws were stuck in the mag, and using a convential drill bit to get out the screws resulted in the drill avoiding the steel screw and diving into the alloy surrounding it. Using a 1/8" diamond drill bit fixed that up good. Next, all mags got their speedy caps which were held in by stainless steel screws that I had purchased earlier. I'm happy with the final look.

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6 January 2004 - Cut, buffed and waxed the paint

The car was left for days to allow the paint to bake and get hard enough to cut it back. There was orange peel in the paintwork, more in the horizontal surfaces than anything else and so it was cut back with 1600 grit sand paper, along with heaps of soapy water.

The car was buffed to a deep shine with a polishing compound using a handheld buffer to assist with putting the polish on the car, and then the polish was removed by hand. We decided to do it this way as the buffer we were using was unable to properly remove the polish from the car easily, and worked significantly better putting the polish on the car. It also saved us the elbow grease of trying to get the depth of shine required (when putting on the polish) by hand. Some area's did not come out too well, mainly the vertical surfaces like the doors and guards and so I went over these area's later by hand to get the desired depth of shine.

The next stage was just applying a bottle of pure carnauba wax to give it a little bit more depth, but mainly to protect the overall paint work.


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28 December 2003 - Progress of the painting

It all started with pulling off a few panels and sanding back the car. The first panel was the boot, and then the rubber was cleaned up around the edge. We were not planning to remove the doors to start with, but after thinking about the fact that the insides of the doors were to be painted, we decided we may as well do a proper job. The position of the hinges were marked, the doors were removed and sanding began after the door holes were masked up with plastic. Every panel was sanded, a few 'troublesome' area's were dealt with appropriately and green primer surfacer was painted inside the door area's to try and make any obvious defects show up. The green primer was also sprayed on the boot and the inside of the doors.

We decided that to truly see how the car fared overall in terms of what was needed for surface preparation, and so we painted the entire car in one colour - grey filler primer. Around the doors was reasonable and so these area's were painted orange to start with. In hindsight we probably shouldn't have done these area's just yet, as we had a few problems a bit later with orange, black and clear overspray going around the edges of the doors on the freshly painted area's underneath the doors. Once the boot was scrubbed down and degreased it was also painted orange. Whilst there is a black carpet mat in the boot at all times, it was necessary to be done as the old paintjob inside the boot was extremely rough.The hinges were soaked in kerosene for numerous days before being cleaned by mechanical methods. They were then sprayed at the same time as the parts around the doors.

The underside of the bonnet was not in good condition, but as the engine bay in its entirety was going to be left until a later date, a decision had to be made whether or not to pull it off and do it properly. In the end , the bonnet was removed and the underside was attacked with very strong degreaser to get rid of the numerous years of build up that was there. Well worth it, as now I will be able to be able to open the bonnet to people! As the doors were off, they got given a fine and time consuming detail. All the felts, rubbers, glass and the insides of the doors were masked off before they were painted in gloss black. Once hard, the black was masked off to paint the orange. Next we put the doors back on, attempting to find the scribe marks on the car and doors through the thick and glossy hemi orange paint. Once everything lined up, it was time to move the car into a more dust free area to spray on the hemi orange. We managed to get 3 coats of hemi orange on the car using roughly 6 litres of paint. Next was to apply the stripe stencil set.

We started at the rear end of the car and proceeded forwards following the curves of the car and the layout of the stencils. Unfortunately the stencil set was not as good as I thought it would be, and in fact some area's did not line up correctly and some parts of the stencil were not supplied at all, despite being required. One such area was across the boot. No stencil was given for the thin black and orange stripe across the boot, and so we used one of the incorrect pieces that was supplied and cut it with a straight edge to obtain the required missing piece.

The next part was where the lines of the car, and measurements taken from an original unresprayed VH Pacer, did not align correctly with the stencil set. If I had applied the stencil set exactly as it was supplied, the lines going up from the rear 1/4 that start to cross the boot would have not been parallel with the rear of the boot. In fact, the lines would have gone across the boot on both sides - but fortunately I was able to place down most of the stencil before bending and cutting the stencil lines to obtain the proper VH pacer look on the top of the rear 1/4's. The next let-down was that the "HEMI 265" sticker that goes on the bonnet (of all VH Pacers) was not supplied with the $300 VH Pacer stencil set. However, the other 3 stickers (rear of car, 2x rear 1/4's) were supplied thankfully.

After the stripe masking and the bonnet masking (thanks Snappy) was completed, the stripes were sprayed on the car along with the rear end, in matte black. We used roughly 3 litres of paint to do this. Whilst we had all the orange still masked off, we then proceeded to paint the gloss black around the door windows. 16 hours later, and we were spraying clear. We managed to get 6 coats of clear on to it, which consumed about 8 litres of clear.

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