Tips, Tricks & Specs

Tips and Specs

Tips I have learned; (use at your own risk)

| Ground Wire | Sway Bars | Mechanical Fuel Pump | Water Pump | Bumper Molding Restoration | Wet Sanding Paint |

ALWAYS carry a spare Ballast Resistor!

You never know when you are going to need one of these. (Also known as an External Coil Resistor) And if it gives up when you are at a cruise or a show, you are going to have a tough time finding one when you need one.  So, for a few $$$ you are better off just getting one and putting it in the glove box. One symptom of a bad resistor is the car will start and run but only while you are holding the key in the START position.  As soon as you release the key from the START position, the car will stop.  And you do not want to run the car with the starter engaged, so don't try driving the car with the key in the START position.  (I say this because I know someone who did a great deal of damage to his car i.e.: broken bell housing, trashed starter, broken flywheel, etc. by trying to do this).

Add a Ground Wire

These cars are old.  So, add a ground wire somewhere between the engine and the chassis.  I have mentioned it in another area, but I feel this one needs to be restated.  Between rust and corrosion (unless you are building a frame off resto) between the engine and the paths to ground can cause you trouble.  You can easily burn up an accelerator cable because electricity will take the easiest path to ground and it is better for you to decide what that path is going to be instead of what part the electricity will sacrifice...and you KNOW it will leave you out in the middle of "nowhere".

Sway to the music...

Not the curves.  If you do not have a rear anti-sway bar on your Charger, I highly recommend adding one.  Drilling into the frame can be a little hair raising, but the rest of the installation is really simple.  You will feel the difference IMMEDIATELY!  I remember having one on my original Charger but this one did not have the rear bar.  Adding the anti-sway bar makes this car really sit down and play nice around the curves.  These are available aftermarket and I am sure that the set up is very similar.  You may need to buy a couple fine thread nuts for adding the plate(s) to the spring mount bolts, but otherwise, the kit I got seemed complete with clear instructions.  Another tip; Make sure you grease the inside of the bushings that come in contact with the bar BEFORE you install them on the bar.

Mechanical Fuel Pump Replacement

This is not an original tip, just one that I learned and thought to pass on to anyone who may be installing or reinstalling a mechanical fuel pump.  I know this works for the 440, however it may or may not be applicable for other engines.

The 440 fuel pump uses a push rod (not one of the valve push rods...this one is different but it's function is the same) to activate the arm on the pump.  This rod rides on a lobe on the camshaft to push the arm on the pump.  There is a hole beneath the fuel pump opening in the block and if you go by the book, it will tell you to remove the plug in the block and use a screwdriver to hold the pushrod in place.  One trick that I saw and later used successfully was to use some grease on the end of the pushrod that goes into the block to hold the pushrod "UP" and in place while you are installing the fuel pump.  The grease on the end that goes onto the engine should hold the rod in place long enough to get the pump in place.  Do not worry, the grease will wash off inside the engine from the oil that will be hitting it.  This will make sense real quick if you are installing the pump while the engine is in the car.  Otherwise, it can be a wrestling match to get the rod to stay in place while installing the mechanical pump.

Water Pump Replacement Tips

While this mainly pertains to the 440, I am sure that some of it will apply to other engines as well.

The 440 uses a 2 piece pump and housing combination for the water pump.  I noticed that the bolts that hold the pump to the housing go through water in a couple places.  This is true for a few of the bolts that hold the to the block as well.  Accessories may mount to these bolt and replacing an accessory means removing one of those bolts.  This is where some Teflon tape comes in.  I wrapped the bolts with Teflon tape before replacing them (BTW I bought all new bolts and/or polished up the ones I was reusing.)  I know that you could use Teflon thread sealer or silicone to do this but I have found that the Teflon tape works better since it does not have to 'cure' before it is usable.

I bought the Aluminum pump from Mopar Performance through Jegs.  I was surprised how rough the casting was around the edge.  Since I have a buffing wheel set up on my variable speed bench grinder, I have different wheels and compounds that I use for buffing out metals, I wanted to polish the edge that will be exposed after I install the water pump.  I used an orbital sander with 220 grit paper to take down the rough casting and then buffed it out.  It came out very well.

As for many gaskets you may replace, it is usually best to use a "high Tack" type sealant on the "PART SIDE" and appropriate silicone on the block side (valve cover gaskets, water pump, thermostat...).  This will allow the gasket to be removed without the gasket sticking to the block. This also makes scraping the gasket material easier since you can usually move the part around to get a better angle and you do not have to worry about scraping gasket material and silicone into the block.  Using Silicone on BOTH sides can cause problems...especially with things like the valve covers that have a long distance between bolts.  I have actually had the gasket buckle towards the valve train and not notice it until I had oil gushing all over the place and a ruined gasket.  Using the "High Tack" on the cover side will help the gasket stick to the cover when you need to remove it in the future and will help keep it from buckling when you install the valve covers. 

Bumper Molding Restoration

This seems to be one of the things that aftermarket folks just seem to ignore.   I have seen many folks putting the bumpers back on these cars without the bumper to fender moldings.  While I can understand not putting the "knee buster" bumper extenders back on...I really think that putting the bumpers back on the car without the bumper moldings really looks bad.  Of course that is just my opinion but if you are interested in reconditioning those old moldings, read on.

You are going to need the following:

* Lacquer thinner ( I use the cheap fast stuff for this and other stuff like cleaning out my spray guns, etc.)

* Single edge razor blades (a box of 100 is pretty cheap and should be available from your local NAPA or hardware store)

* Latex Disposable gloves (I buy these by the box...you will go through quite a few gloves, a box should be about $9.00 - The lacquer thinner will eat the gloves pretty quickly but you want to protect your hands from the lacquer thinner.)

* Lots of old rags - CLEAN!!!

* Sandpaper - (a few sheets of something between 180 and 400 grit)

* Gray vinyl paint

*** (optional) Clear Satin (or flat) automotive urethane or other clear SATIN or FLAT spray paint (urethane based) with UV blocker.  Make sure not to get the tinted clear urethane.  You want this stuff to be clear and have UV blocker.  Most urethane or "current technology" automotive paint fits the bill.

First, you have to remove the bumper fillers from the car. And when you do, you might break off the small bolts holding on the corner pieces to the top of the bumper. Mine broke because they were all rusted and just snapped right off...but there is a fix. You will need some 3M trim adhesive and you will be able to "glue" them back to the tops of the bumpers. Since they are already stiff from age, they should lay down and the adhesive just makes sure they stay down...after they are cleaned and painted.  You could also use the 3M double sided tape, but I believe it puts too much of a noticeable gap between the bumper and the filler.  This does not happen with the trim adhesive.

In a well ventilated area...

Using the rags you have, wipe some of the lacquer thinner onto an area that is workable...usually about 6"-12" at a time. Let the thinner soak on the part for awhile. If it dries, just wipe on some more. You should be able to rub the area harder each time you put some thinner on, just like you were scrubbing it. If all if the weathered surface is gone, great.. If not, this is where using a single sided razor blade comes in. You will want to SCRAPE the surface you are working on about a 30 - 40 degree angle. You are basically pulling the top of the razor blade towards you while the sharp side is trailing along behind. You do not want to dig deeply into the rubber (actually neoprene). You just want to remove the 'dead' stuff on the surface. You are working on exposing "new" surface under the oxidation so the paint will stick to the bumper filler.  For some areas that do get a little scraped too much, this is where the sand paper comes in. You can use sandpaper to remove some of the oxidation in areas that were hard to get to with the blades.

Once you get the weathered surface removed from the bumper filler pieces, one more quick wipe with lacquer thinner. Let them dry completely (usually only about 15 minutes). Then onto paint. You will want to use a gray vinyl paint for the color unless you can find a medium to dark gray metallic paint, but it HAS TO BE VINYL PAINT! Gray is easier to find. ;-) After 1 or 2 coats, let that dry. If the car is going to be parked outside or a daily driver, you will want to use a clear satin over the gray paint. Usually 2 coats of each is plenty. You will want to wait 20 minutes between coats. I used 2 coats of gray and one coat of clear satin since my car is in a garage. Remember, 20 minutes between coats. Paint needs to "flash off" before being recoated. Any more than 20 minutes and you will have to wait 3 days to recoat...and by then there will be dust and dirt on the parts. So, 20 minutes between coats.

You should wait 3 days before putting the bumper fillers back on the bumpers and end pieces. That will give the paint long enough to begin curing. It will take about 6 months for it to completely cure.

The paint should not really have issues with cracking since this bumper filler is usually fairly hard after 30+ years.  The only places that I have been able to really flex the fillers is on the lowest portion of the end fillers.  This is where the sun was not as direct and perhaps that is why they still retain some flexibility.

This also works on the headlight surrounds.  They were made of the same material as the bumper fillers and the same technique will restore those "rubber" pieces to acceptable condition.  Remember...this is not going to give you "Concourse Quality" results.  However, I believe you can get better than daily driver to 'cruise/local show quality' results.

Wet Sanding paint

Here are the high points:  Keep everything clean - Do NOT use your bare hand to sand - Sand in the direction of the vehicle travel -  A few drops of dish soap in the water

First let me say that you should use great caution if you are wet sanding paint.  You CAN NOT wet sand single stage metallic paint. DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT IT!  You should use care in wet sanding paint.  Go slow and check your work area often.  I do not take any responsibility for your results.  I can only help guide you in the effort.

First and most important is to keep everything CLEAN!  I can not stress this enough.  If you pick up dirt or debris while you are sanding or if you do not thoroughly clean the area(s) you are sanding, you will put deep scratches in your paint that you may not be able to remove.  When you are sanding an area with #1500, #2000 or higher paper, you will feel and or hear a piece of grit or dirt.  It will make a scratching sound.  Stop IMMEDIATELY and clean the area and your sandpaper/block (more on the sanding block later).  Continuing on without getting rid of the debris will damage your paint.

Second:  DO NOT USE YOUR BARE HAND TO SAND YOUR PAINT!  You need to equalize the pressure your are applying to the sanding procedure.  If you sand with your bare hand, your hand will put uneven pressure on the areas you are sanding and you can end up with subtle ridges in the paint.  You can even end up missing many spots.  So, use a sanding block made for wet sanding.  You should not use a wooden block for most wet sanding and stay away from those hard rubber or plastic blocks.  Again, you will only do more damage to your paint than you are fixing.  Meguiars makes a nice wet sanding "sponge" of sorts (Meguiars part # E7200 ) for wet sanding.  I found them at my local auto body supply shop but I believe you can also get them online.  They are about $3-4 each so get a couple.  You will want to at least buy one for each grade of sanding paper you are planning on using.  Some folks say start with #1000 grit.  I have found that grit to be way too abrasive so I usually use #2000 and just use a little more elbow grease and patience.

Third:  While I am on the actual sanding technique and supplies, another point is you want to always sand in the direction of vehicle travel.   You do NOT want to sand in circles or up and down!  Sand back and forth along with the flow of the vehicle (ie: front to back or back to front).  This sanding technique will help you to hide any ripples you may sand out.  If you go around in circles, you will never be able to follow the direction of the sanding marks to round off the edges (which is what you are trying to do when you attempt to remove a scratch and sand or buff along the scratch).  You also want to use the longest stroke possible, short little strokes will be uneven and can cause your results to be uneven and there are greater chances of missing a small area.

Fourth:  4-10 drops of dish soap (no reason to be concerned with removing the wax...you want to remove any wax build up) to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle.  You will use ALOT of water/soap mix if you are sanding an entire car.  You are going to use this same solution for wetting your sandpaper before you start sanding.  You are going to want to let your sandpaper "soak" (you can spray it down and keep it wet with the spray bottle) for at least 15 minutes before you begin sanding.  If you do not allow the paper to soak, you may have some hard edges of the paper that can put seep scratches in your paint.

The soap changes the skin tension of the water and acts as a lubricant for your sanding.  It also helps flush away the sanding "dust" and helps keep your sand paper from loading up.  It took me about (5) 1/3 sheets of #2000 grit paper to sand my entire '73 Dodge Charger.  Keep the area you are sanding and the paper wet.  You will also want to use a small squeegee from time to time to check your working area.  Usually, if the area has orange peel or other irregularities, they will show up as glossy.  You will want to keep sanding the area until the orange peel or irregularities are almost gone (go slow).  If you are sanding a non-metallic paint you want to stop before you see the color of the paint in the sanding 'slag' or on your sandpaper.  If you are sanding a single stage paint, you will see some color but you should inspect the area closely.  You do not want to sand the paint through to the primer.

Other tips / Comments:  I found #1000 and #1500 to be too aggressive, but I am a patient person and it shows in my results.  I used to put my finger on the car and I could not see my shoulder clearly.  Now I can clearly read things on a wall 10' away using the same procedure.

Paint on a car is very thin, you want to go S-L-O-W!  You can usually go back and touch up an area that needs a little more sanding but you will be in trouble if you sand away too much.  Keep in mind that the next steps are to compound, buff and polish the car so if you have slight irregularities left after sanding, they me come out with compounding, etc...

Read everything you can about wet sanding and buffing/polishing automotive paint that you can.  That is what I did BEFORE I even bought the sand paper and the rest of the tools to do my paint. I gained a great deal of tips and techniques from reading what others had done that produced positive results.  That being said; do not believe everything you read.  I had read on one board where someone said he used gasoline on the paint.  Another said he started with #400 grit paper!  I do not believe that #400 grit paper should be anywhere near the finished paint.

Be VERY careful around the corners and the edges.  I taped mine off so I would have an guideline to stop at.  Most edges and even body lines have very thin paint on them and will not stand up to sanding so be careful around these areas.  Edges will also sand faster because you have less area supporting the paper and the force you are sanding with.  This causes the paper to cut very quickly in these areas so, be careful!

I will add more as time permits.