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    Ken West

    The following is from a thread started in August of 2011 on the V8TV Forum prior to the Crash. Please excuse anything that does not make sense as I have cobbled this together from other forums from which I have posted. Please read and enjoy. Please post any questions, comments or suggestions as I am always looking for input from others.

    Hello my name is Ken and I have a 1967 LeMans that I obtained through the family in 1992. It has not seen a day of duty since. Yes, that is almost 20 years ago. It has been an on again off again project for many different reasons over the years. However for the past 9 months or so God has seen fit for me to be able get serious about this thing. I have been more than pleased to get busy!

    So here are some pics and descriptions of my near 20 year project:

    This is my oldest son at age 2 when the LeMans made it to my house

    This is him at his wedding last December. He is now 20.

    This is the Lemans as it was in 2005. Mostly rust fighting and interior removal at that point

    Dog house off

    OL trusty 326 and 2 speed tranny out

    Body comming off the chassis

    Body as it sits now awaiting its turn for some work

    Chassis after seperation from body

    Frame stripped of all parts

    Lots of welding and grinding to strengthen frame:

    Frame rails boxed in

    Gussets welded in

    Transmission crossmember cut to length and rewelded

    Preperations and measurments being made for clearencing spring pockets for RideTech suspension parts

    That is where the frame is at this point. The heat here in the DFW area of Texas has been brutal the past few weeks so not much work has been done.

    I have had the 12 bolt rebuilt. New axles, tightened up posi and dress up is all it needed.

    Bought the modified 4L80E

    And the LS376/480.

    Mocking up the engine and transmission and ran into a problem with clearance between the oil pan and engine cradle. See pictures below.

    The pan just buries into the back of the cradle:

    I have a full inch of clearance between the front of the oil pan and the cradle:

    After making several measurements the engine appears to be forward about 5/8″ from original

    Borrowed a trailer from my good friend Shane, a mighty man of God, and loaded the frame into it last night for delivery to the sand blaster this morning.

    Back Saver: 2 grown but young sons come in very handy here. I didn’t do much else other than help guide them. Easiest part of this build so far. Thank you boys!

    Now if you have ever wondered if powder coating is better than regular chassis paint-well in my case it was. I took it in on Friday morning to the sandblaster picked it up Friday afternoon and delivered it to the powder coater and had a 2 stage job done and it was ready Tuesday. Pretty quick and look at the difference.



    I got so excited I had to do some work on the absolute cleanest chassis I have ever worked on so I put the upper and lower control arms on and put the rear end back under it tonight

    All went smooth except for the driver side upper control arm. I had to clearance the inside lower part of the mounting bracket. It interfered with the differential housing and would not line up to get the bolt through. So Mr. Grinder had to be used.

    Here is where the chassis is now.

    Passanger side-Looks like I have a conflict here with a brakeline clamp. Good to see this now that way when I install the disk brakes I will know to run my lines on top of the axle tubes:

    Rear Muscle Bar installed:

    Front view of project as it sits now.

    Ken West

    First, I had to figure out how and where to run the shock valving control cable from the top of the shock and eventually to the inside of the body and under the dash. I wanted to keep it out of the way of brake lines, transmission cooling lines, hot headers, etc. I ended up drilling and tapping a hole for an Adel clamp to route the cable back into the spring pocket and exit with the height control cable. It rus with a big enough loop to not be in the way when it comes time to do a front end alignment. Once that was figured out and done then I installed the upper ball joints and the tall spindles. Then came the very unforgiving but AWSOME looking front Muscle Bar installation.

    So here is where it sits now.

    Here is almost exactly where the AirPod will sit on the trunk “shelf” area in relation to the frame so I put a couple a boards under it for stability and got after it.

    After connecting every wire, cable and airline I connected the system to a battery and let the tank fill. Once it filled up to 150 psi I aired up each Shockwave. I let them sit for awhile to see if I had any bad leaks. Only leak was at the primary compressor on the AirPod at the outlet. A quick trim on the line and reseating it into the connector took care of the problem.

    Next, I started routing all the Shockwave cables and airlines to clean things up a bit and get them closer to where they will be in (hopefully) their final location.

    I have this thing about not wanting to drill holes if I do not have to. I am always looking at what the factory has already provided and work with that as much as possible. So on the rear I ran the cables and airlines though the holes at the top of the spring pockets using a grommet

    Added a little stress relief and guide to the height control cable with a zip tie. The shock valving control cable dressed and aligned itself nicely without any outside influence other than the snugness of the grommet.

    When the cables and lines come out on the other side they will enter the trunk area directly above and as this pic shows they should enter right next to each side of the Air Pod. This should be an easy route and dress once the body is back on the frame.

    Next came the airlines and cables from the front Shockwaves. I ended up putting a wire loom over each set of airline/cable and ran them through the frame rails to an existing ovalish hole in the rail just before the rear crossmember. I left the shock valving control cable exiting the frame in the front as these cables plug into a box that will be under the dash. I will run the rear ones through the body to the front.

    Believe it or not that and a few little clean up jobs took 5 hours to complete. Here is where it sits now.

    Ken West

    New 12:1 steering box from AGR mounted as well as the linkage. I had a set of Baer Tracker tie rod ends (bump steer reduction) and regular style tie rod ends. Air Ride says there spindles help reduce bump steer so I quess that the amount of usefullness from the Baer Trackers will be minimized. So I have a question for you out there in automotive enthusiast land – Strickly on the aesthetic side which do you like better?

    Baer Tracker tie rod end

    Regular tie rod end

    One on each side for comparison

    Kore 3 brakes starting to go on as well. Man they are alot bigger than the ’67 factory ones

    Almost to the point of mounting the engine and transmission again. Once that is done the body will have to be set again so I can figure out how much pounding needs to be done to the trans tunnel. I will also be able to make up the complete brake and fuel lines as well.

    With the help of my oldest son and my new “Bubbafied” Pastor we did get the motor and trans put in place:

    I sure am glad that I spent the time to loom the suspension wiring and air lines then run them thru the chassis rails. It sure is going to clean things up with only having to have a single brake line running exposed down the chassis on one side and a single fuel line down the other.

    I did not have the time to finalize how I will secure the trans xmember to the perches yet.

    Finished removing the remaining dash, steering column, accelerator & brake pedals, ac/heat system, doors, all wiring and glass with the exception of the rear windshield.

    Removal of the rear windshield and then it will be time to put the body shell back on the chassis for transmission tunnel modifications.

    Removed the trunk lid for the last time

    Then finally dropped the gas tank

    Just have the rear windshield and radio antenna and back on the frame the shell goes.

    I was able to remove the rear windshield, power antenna, windshield washer hoses and outlets, door seal plates and the like last night. I still have to find someone who will loan me there engine hoist and I’ll be able to put the body shell back on the frame. Once I have made the modifications for the transmission then hopefully off to the body shop it goes.

    Inspected the floor pans and gave them the screwdriver and awl puncture test with the following results:

    Driver side front-not to bad

    Driver side rear-not to bad either

    Passenger side front-as expected with the heater core on that side it is bad.

    Fortunately there is no damage in the passenger rear floor pan. YEAH!!!:jump:

    Front windshield channel-top is bad

    Rear windshield channel-the filler plate between windshield and trunk had been replaced before and there is a lot of bono in here. I have a new filler panel to replace this one due to the last repair is not very good.

    Started planning out the interior mods.

    Dash cluster planning

    Also I purchased some seats from a ’06 GTO to update the interior:

    I think I am getting close to the layout for the gauge selection and layout in the dash. I’m looking at Autometer Cobalt gauges. Tach, speedo, water temp, oil pressure, volt, fuel and trans temp. New round a/c vents, push to start button and Ridetech E3 controller and Select Series shock mode button are in place as well. Still looking for the best way to do signal, high beam and CEL lights. I would like to use LEDs for these if possible but I do not want just round lights on the dash. I would still like to have arrows for signals an engine symbol for the CEL and so on. Also, I am looking for a different style headlight switch and dimmer control. All of this to keep in the “old body with modern technology” idea. Any comments or recommendations are very welcomed. – Ken

    I went back to my dash layout and with the help of my son we began to play around alittle and came up with this for a layout. Still have some work to do on it but I really like where it is going.

    Next I have been working on adapting the 2006 GTO seats to the LeMans. On the front I cut out the factory front brackets. When I did I found that there was a captive nut on the outboard side of the floor for what I presume was for a bench seat. It just so happens that it is in the perfect position for the outboard rail to attach.

    So after a bunch of measuring and shimming on the inboard side to make the seat level it turned out that the captive stud bracket that I had cut off the outboard side with a little modification was the perfect thickness to level the seat. So after having my son put the seat in and setting in it at various positions I finally marked and welded in the bracket on the inboard side.

    This is what one side looks like without the seat in on the passenger side:

    I had to cut the brackets of the seat rails in the back because they made the seats sit way to high. I am having some new ones made. When I get them back and installed I will post that as well.

    So hear are the lovely bride and myself pretending to cruise:

    Next I began looking at the back seats. I had seen on the web were someone had put these seats in a 68 model and had the car body lower seat brackets cut out of the newer GTO and used them. I have not had much luck finding a body locally that anyone is willing to cut up. So I started searching again and found where someone else just modified the bottom seat frame to work with the existing body brackets in a 68 or so Firebird. So that is the approach I am taking now.

    After stripping both the upper and lower frames of the foam and leather I began looking at placement, mounting and what modifications it was going to take to get there. This is what I have found so far.

    The seats will need to be cut apart as they are too narrow as an assembly to even come close to being able to use any of the oem bracketry in the 67.

    The seat bottoms on the inboard side fit with the floorboard quite nicely. However the outboard side not so much. So this area will need to be modified to get the seat bottom lower and closer to the floorboard:

    This hoop and the turn rearward in the floorboard bracing are the big offenders here:

    I think I will be able to modify the seat bottoms to fit the floorboard and also I think I will be able to weld in a rod to be able to use the front hold down brackets. I mocked up what I will need with a piece of old brake line:

    I also noticed that I might be able to use the rear hold down bracket as well doing the same thing by welding in a rod between the seat bottoms in the back and that rod will be covered by the console I am planning on having between the seats.

    Next I began to see how the seats would line up with the ones in the front if I were able to figure out how to use the 67 upper hold down bracket where the upper and lower seat come together. The placement is a little to the outboard side but not bad. I think I will continue in this direction as well.

    This is basically what one side will look like but the whole seat will be about an inch lower.

    Well I finaly think I have figured out and made all but two modification to get the rear seats installed.
    In this process I had to remember that the modifications and final installation must incorporate a way to de-install the seats at a later time if need be. This took me lots of time as I am a very simple thinker and this was a more complex challenge than I originally thought it would be. I hope it all works as planned and the seats stay in place like they are suppost too!!!!

    I have only been working on the passenger side so far so here are some pics of the modified seat frames for the passenger side as compared with the OEM drivers side:

    Upper rear seat frames. The only modification was to cut off the extra rod between the two seats after separation.

    Lower seat frames. There are several modifications on the passenger side as compared to the OEM driver side.
    Here you can see the rod that I welded in to take advantage of the existing forward seat bracket.

    Here I turned one frame around to show the difference where I had to flatten out the side rods so the frame would sit in it’s new location better.

    Here you can see were I did the same thing to the side rods on the other side as well as remove the loop of rod that was used to locate and fasten the seats in the 04-06 GTOs.

    Here you can see the shape modifications I made to make the rear loop reach the rear connecting point and put some tension on the new rod that goes through the existing seat bracket in the Le Mans.

    The idea, and so far what has worked up to now in many mock ups, is to put the bottom part of the seat in first. I know what you are thinking, this is totally opposite of the norm, and you are right it is! You can also see that I cut out the original upper seat attachment screw bracket. I will weld it back in its new position where you see it below behind the upper and lower seat frame loops.

    Install the upper seat into position comes next by locating the frame “hangers” in the slots I made just below the break in the package tray. You will also notice the rear glass set back into place so I could test this procedure and make sure there was enough room for both installation and de-installation without hitting the glass. It will be tight and it will take a little finesse but it can be done.

    I will cut a piece of flat stock and weld it to the lower frame hoop and use it as a washer and locater to make sure the seat bottom sits all the way down. The screw will run though this washer and the upper frame loop to secure the seat in place as a unit.

    Here is the whole seat frame installed. I still have to cut and weld in the flat stock to the lower frame and relocate the original hold down bracket and weld it in.

    I am also going to trim some of the foam from the upper seat as there is too much there and it pushes hard against the body frame rail the runs between the floor and the package tray. After a couple of test cuts it looks like a kitchen electric carving knife will work great for this.

    I will update again when I have a finished product. Ken

    Here is the lower seat frame with the flat stock washer welded in along with a couple of ugly additions to the cross rod. I put those on because the seat bottom wanted to wonder a bit from side to side this keeps it tight against the seat bracket.

    Here the foam has been trimmed from the seat back to better fit up against the body.

    I did have to trim one upholstery clamp to fit the modifications to the lower seat frame.

    Here are a couple of shots of the finished passanger rear seat. One shows the relationship of the seat to the OEM arm rest which I currently plan to use.

    I finally got started on the driver side rear seat.

    All was going very well until I broke my tubing bender just before needing it to bend the cross rod. Well that’s where the old saying comes from “Use the right tool for the job”. I just don’t have the right tool and the cheesy light brake line tubing bender just did not stand up to rolled steel rod.

    So this is where I stopped today.

    I finally had the time over to get the driver side rear seat install done. It went fairly quick as I knew what I was up against and just did the same as for the passenger side rear seat.

    I formed up the cross rod for the lower seat bracket, cut the side to side holding rods and the flat steel washer. Once that was done I cut out the original scew in bracket. Then all that was left was some welding.

    Lately it seems the only time I get to work on the LeMans is on holidays. So I guess I will finally give this project a name: “Project Patience”. By definition this name fits the project well: patience/ˈpāSHəns/The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. 20 years, lack of money, lack of time when money is available, and plenty of bloody knuckles, burns and sore joints and muscles. After thinking about this project it makes me wonder why I enjoy it so much???????

    Well anyway I was able to get the front seat rear brackets welded in and all the seats in for there last fitting before body work. My welding skills have not improved at all with the long layoffs so you will have to excuse the mess.

    The cart I made for the body to sit on has worked out well but it did not like the bump at the entery between the drive way and the garage. So one wheel ripped out back in April or May. I will take some time and get it back in working order.

    This was the last thing to do with the body before trans tunnel “beat out”. I also need to finishing out the engine, exhaust and drive shaft. Once all that is done then to the body shop it will go.

    Once it looked good then I secured it all down with the foam and covers off.

    Here it is installed as a complete seat.

    The accessory drive kit and the Kwik Performance AC Bracket showed up on my door step yesterday so last night I went back to work and installed them.

    So here is the answer to the most asked question I have heard – Doug’s Headers.

    I choose to try these for both ground clearance and fitment. From reading a lot of post on this and other forums the Edlebrocks ground clearence was a big issue and the Hookers seem to have a few fitment issues. The Doug’s have great ground clearance and have only one fitment issue that I have read about-That being steering column clearance. Mocked up here is how they look:

    Passenger side tight but do not hit anything

    Driver side we shall see about the steering column-I may have to message the 3rd tube a little

    Ground clearance

    So what is one to do on Sunday afternoon when you are out of parts and have come to a stand still on your project but you want to be out in the garage?

    Burgers and Football anyone?

    Finally found a engine hoist to borrow and took the time over the Thanksgiving weekend to beat out the transmission tunnel were needed.

    Step 1: Use 2 engine hoists and raise the body way up in the air and place 5 cinder blocks on both sides of the front. Then pass a 4×4 though the top of each block:

    Step 2: Lower the front hoist to place the front of the body onto the 4×4:

    Step 3: Disconnect front hoist and move out of the way then roll chassis under body:

    Step 4: Reconfigure hoist and lift off front of body off the 4×4 and remove same. Then begin lowering body onto chassis. This is where wheel dollies are worth the money as you can adjust the chassis as the body tends to move while lowering it:

    Step 5: Thank your helpers. In this case my 2 sons-Thanks again Michael and Nick!

    So back to the reason for this exercise. I found that in addition to the rear cooling line clearance issue that I knew I was going to have I found the following as well:

    The front cooling line, the rear speed sensor, and the tail housing had clearance issues:

    Here are the results after an afternoon of hammering, lowering the body, raising the body, hammering, lowering the body to check work, raising the body and on and on and on:
    Some of these pics are not very good but it was kinda hard getting a good pic in focus while under the car.

    Front cooling line

    Rear cooling line

    Rear speed sensor

    Tail housing

    I also expected that I would have a clearance issue with the steering shaft and one of the header tubes and as expected I do:

    So now I need to buy a gas tank, wheels and tires, drive shaft, engine and transmission computers and harnesses, gauges, radiator and fan, A/C system, transmission shifter, steering column and wheel. Figure out all the installation and mock up. Then disassemble and begin body work.

    I purchased a Tuff Stuff 9″ Dual Diaphram Power Booster and mated it to a Willwood Master and adjustable prop valve that mounts right under the Master Cylinder.

    I had to make the hole in the firewall a bit bigger for the rubber boot to fit but other than that this mock up was very easy.

    I also ordered some wheels finally. I originally thought I would purchase the Night Train wheels as mentioned earlier in this thread but while looking through the Rushforth website I kinda took a shine to these:

    Then I saw this pic of a Chevelle with the wheels on it and in a similar style paint scheme that my son and I have been throwing around and the descision was made: Super Spoke with black powder coated centers and bright hoops.

    They should arrive in late Sept or early Oct so I have some time to get the brakes back on it and find some used tires to mount.

    The Rushforth wheels did come in last year or maybe the year before. But anyway knowing things were not going to move along quickly I put used rubber on them so I would not end up with brand new performance tires with flat spots or dry rot by the time the car was ready to use.

    I have also run most of the brake lines, mocked up driver side Lokar e brake cables to see what I will need to do to connect the pedal cable to the brake cables as well as mocking up the Magna Flow exhaust to see how much will need to be removed from the center pipes to get the crossover in the proper location.

    Since this project has taken so long to get to this point and will take quite a bit longer to complete, my plan is to get the chassis running to prove all is well before moving on to the body work, interior and remaining electrical.

    So I will tackle the fuel tank next followed by finishing up what is left to do with the accessory drive. After that tackle the cooling system. If things do not change there I will use and external trans cooler with a fan unit and use the trans cooler in the radiator to cool the power steering. Next will be plumbing everything up and the engine/trans wiring and ecu install.

    V8 Staff


    Mike Clarke

    As soon as I saw the pic of your son, I totally remembered this project. I like where it’s heading. It should runs like a scalded dog and turn like it’s on rails!

    V8 Staff

    I really like the direction of the rear seat on this one… (among other things.. ) Looking good!

    Jon Shields

    Awesome thread on a long and dedicated build… Love the car. Nice detail on the seat mods. Excellent work.

    Ken West

    Thanks Jon!
    It has been a long one for sure but I have enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks to Forums such as this one and people so eager to help and share like Kevin, it allows a untalented guy like me that loves cars to do a fairly complicated build in his own garage.

    Jon Shields

    I’ve got two projects like that… “I will start on it when…” When the boy starts school… When the garage is clean… When the truck is fixed… When the lawn gets mowed… Seems like there is always something.

    V8 Staff

    Yeah, there are a million things that pop up just when you want to get started!

    Ken West

    Getting started was not a problem for me. It’s all the other things in life that have popped up over time that keep putting the brakes on this build. Life definitely has its challenges!

    V8 Staff

    Ken, do you plan to pressurize the oil system on the LS before you light it off? Somewhere we have pics of the pre-oiler we made to make the initial startup easier on the engine. It’s a common thing for these to wait a long time from the day they are delivered until they are started for the first time.

    Ken West

    I was going to follow the GM instructions but if you can pass along the pics and some instructions that would be great!

    V8 Staff

    This is the tool, but don’t expect to figure it out from this pic, LOL.


    I’ll get some details for you and post them up.

    V8 Staff

    Trevor says: It’s a emergency portable air tank with a pipe fitting welded on the bottom, some hose running to a universal oil filter bracket, through the filter, to a hose that has an adapter to fit into the oil pressure sender hole. Fill the tank with the appropriate type and level of oil, connect hose to engine, add air to tank, remove air from tank when all oil has transferred to the engine. Install oil pressure sender, crank engine without starting to ensure pump isn’t dry. Start engine.

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