We have updated our Privacy Notice, you can read the updated document here
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

1979 Holden 1 Tonner Ute resto

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 986 ✭✭✭ Daved_XB

    Welcome to a new thread about working on another rusty old piece of ****e from me… the difference this time is that I don’t own this particular rusty old girl, this is my mates 1979 Holden HX 1 tonner Ute….


    Now for me I prefer the look of the more traditional Ute style which has the complete rear section as part of the body like below (the one in this pic belongs to my painter) but I do like most if not all old cars so I think she’s cool


    Now my mate, lets call him Bryan… because that’s his name bought this about 2 years ago now I guess & he & I have been doing little jobs on it ever since but it does need fair bit of work to get her to what he wants ultimately. He went for this 1 ton design as he does woodwork for a hobby & the large flat tray means that he can have a cool old classic yet use it as a practical workhorse if & when he needs too. The people he brought the car off claim to be “racers” & even have a family named racing business sticker on the ute… I assume it’s greyhound racing as they knew **** all about cars as far as I can tell…. But more on that the further we get into this thread as we fix stuff.

    He made the mistake of telling me about some structural rust that he found when he was replacing the passenger side seat belt with a new unit, the inner lower section of the B pilar where the cab side meets the floor had some bad rust… so I wanted to fix that for him as I didn’t like the idea of where that rust was it’s not just unsightly body skin stuff but actual structural potentially… so he brought the ute over & gave me permission to attack it with a grinder & make a patch..



    This was going to be very awkward to get too with the car fully assembled but not impossible… I tried working on it with just the passenger seat out but in the end I decided to pull the door off as there was some rust bubbling thru just above the top door hinge also & I figured I’d fix that too




    I do like the way you can use the tray back to store parts as you go… this job started as all rust repair jobs do with some CAD work, so I cut out the cardboard to get the right shape that I needed & then went about turning that cardboard aided designed patch into steel.. I went with the harder to work with 1.6mm plate steel as this the superstructure of the car & not just the thin outer panel skin.



    Coated it in weld thru primer & also drilled some holes to allow me to plug weld it to the good strong sections of the superstructure




  • #2

    Test fitted & it goes in nicely…


    Clamped it in & set about welding it in



    Then primed it..


    Now that was a very simple job & in theory that should have been it… but I’d noticed a bobble of rust along the top of the sill panel… so I quickly phoned Bryan & asked for permission to grind that back & have a look underneath, since we all know that rust is like an iceberg, if you can see the tiny bubble on the surface then it’s probably proper ****ed underneath… in this case that’s sadly exactly what it was…


    I rang him back & asked if I could grind a bit more paint & what was now clearly bog off to see how far this went… he mumbled something questioning the validity of my parents’ marriage but told me to go ahead…. it didn’t get any better


    Now the “racers” he’d bought it seemed like nice people & they claimed to have “restored” this car… but I found that this rust hole had been packed with fiberglass & I mean DRY fiberglass tape… they didn’t even try & make it hard, just packed it in & bogged over it


    It looked like the sill beneath was in a bad way too.. so I rang him back & asked could I cut this section out & repair it… he agreed but I could tell in his voice he was beginning to regret his life decisions of letting me neat the car & he suggested that I should **** off & stop ringing him & told me to just do whatever I would do if it was mine



    Seeing how bad the top of the sill looks here & knowing I had a free hand here I quickly cut that out too… this allowed me to inspect the inside of the sill which was actually in great shape


  • #2

    I was also able to trim up the back side of my previous repair & make sure that was good & solid… I cleaned out the sill & coated it in a rust treatment & then set about making a patch panel… again went with 1.6mm plate for this bit too


    I did this in two stages, I made up a section to go right in the back to fully box in the previous repair, it was uber awkward to get into it to weld so it’s not the neatest job & I can’t linish back the welds but it’ll never been seen & its strong & safe so that’s all that matter really



    Making the sill top plate was really simple as it was just two bends..



    I trimmed all the rusted bits off the corner section I’d cut off & welded the good clean piece back in… sadly I’m just not good enough to have made this whole complex section in one piece



    Then I set about making the patches to replace the missing metal… I got to use my new uber long clamp for the first time, I now own a larger more varied array of clamps that all but the largest of German BDSM clubs I reckon


    Don’t let how simple this little curved section is fool you… it curved in two different directions & was blood hard to get right… but luckily I had the chrome sill trim to use as a guide to be sure I got the profile right



  • #2

    Then it was the much simpler straight flat front piece… I have to admit I sat back with a fresh cup of tea at this point & I was pretty bloody pleased with myself, it almost looks like I knew what I was doing… well if you squint anyway



    I love how good shiny metal looks but sadly you have to paint it… so I did


    Now as I have a horrible affliction that means I can’t leave old cars alone I went around to the drivers side & pulled the chrome trim off….


    Hmmmm….. that’s not looking good, but I’m sure it’ll get better once I’ve hit it with the grinder…


    Bugger… looks like the exact same work needs to be done on this side too… Now the engine needs work on this Ute as it’s got more rust issues on other sections of the body so I set about a plan to convince Bryan that doing little jobs every few months on this car is not the right way forward & I used all my fancy sales pitch training to get him to agree to let me pull this thing apart & fix all the body work for him… we’ll pull the motor too & get my engine builder to rebuild that to a spec that Bryan chooses… so once I have the engine back in the GTO & I have some space back I’ll get Bryan & his son over & we’ll strip the Ute down…. & of course I’ll update this thread as we go….

  • #2

    Ooh excellent :)

  • #2

    don't think I've clicked follow so fast before on a thread :)

    What spec is the engine currently?

  • #2

    It's a Holden V8 engine, as in it's not a Chev V8 rebadged & fitted like they've been doing the last 30 years... its a 308CI so just a hair over 5 liters.. the greyhound racers have fitted a big cam to it as they where doing a spot of drag racing with it & the cam is too big for day to day driving so it has to go... the rings are a a little shot too as she blows smoke so the whole thing will be stripped down & rebuilt.. most likely it will get a hone & new rings, hopefully the pistons, rods & crank are all reusable... the cam will be swapped for something that idles at less than 1200RPM & actually produces vacuum.. & the heads will be rebuilt with hardened valve seats for running unleaded pump fuel

  • #2

    Japers your a gluten for punishment.
    Fair play

  • #2

    Zebrano wrote: »
    Japers your a gluten for punishment.
    Fair play

    Well he's a mate & I have kind of an idea what I'm doing... so I couldn't watch him paying a panel shop thousands to do something that I can do for free

  • #2

    Daved_XB wrote: »
    Well he's a mate & I have kind of an idea what I'm doing... so I couldn't watch him paying a panel shop thousands to do something that I can do for free

    Well then you're not a mate- you're the best mate ever!

  • #2

    Right… so we put in a long day on Sunday & made some really good headway with the Ute.. Bryan was over with his almost 13yro son who’s taken a massive interest in this project & who worked really hard with us to start the strip down… little does he know that he may well be on the road to future financial ruin now if he takes up cars as a serious hobby…

    Usual stuff, drain the coolant whilst spilling just enough in different spots under the car so that you get to lay in small pools of it at different times during the day as you’re undoing stubborn bolts etc.. then we pulled the bonnet & the bonnet hinges off to give us more room to go disconnecting all the front end wiring & anything connecting the engine to the car



    Unlike with my projects I insisted that we label everything this time, every wire is labelled as to where it lives & all the bolts are put into small containers & marked etc… for my builds I had just relied on photos & now a few years later this method of using my memory backed up by photos has failed.. so we are doing this one properly, once we had the rad out I decided that we would look to pull the whole front clip off the Ute


    Being under the GM umbrella the old Holdens of the day are also designed that you can unbolt the front guard (or wing or fender, depending on where you live) along with the inner guard to give you clear access to the side of the engine… you can also unbolt the whole front support panel.. this means that an engine & gearbox can be lifted only a few inches & then just pulled out the front… it makes removal & refit of the engine & box as a unit real easy… so off with the guard


    We’ve left the inner guard bolted to it for now



    Not having ever stripped down one of these before & not owning a workshop manual & having our hands too filthy to be bothered googling where all the bolts are we spend some time trying to find all the nuts & bolts.. top tip they hide 4 on the front guard, two you get to from inside the car & two as it bolts to the front… we got lucky in that they all came out in the end, I did fear some rusty fights that would end in a sheared bolt but that never happened… next off was the bumper & then whole front panel




    The parts pile on the back of the Ute was growing..


  • #2

    Figured we didn’t need to take the other wing off just to get the engine & transmission out so I lay in strategically placed pools of coolant & trans fluid & undid the tailshaft & the trans mounts & speed/shifter cable & then we hooked the engine up to the crane & played the game of testing the tensile strength of what ever bits you’ve overlooked & forgotten to undo..


    Turns out we hadn’t missed anything.. easiest engine removal ever with the front clip off, definitely doing this when I start the Camaro resto



    Now just need to undo everything that’s bolted to that drivers side guard & unbolt that


    Right well that’s all the hanging panels off then… the front half of the chassis looks really good, actually the front panels look good too (won’t know for sure till I take the paint off) I think that it’s really just the cab itself that in a bad way with rust



    Last job was to separate the engine & trans


    The trans looks like it’s had some work, I think that’s an aftermarket or at least very new bellhousing on it & the torque converter is definitely not stock.. I’ll pull it off to see if there are any markings on it that might explain what stall it is etc..


    The engine itself is just a mass of oil leaks, I don’t think that there is a single seal on it that isn’t leaking…


    But it’s on the stand now, so it’ll get drained of what little oil is left in it & then we’ll strip it down to see what needs doing to it depending on what Bryans HP/reliability goals are


  • #2

    Daved_XB wrote: »
    ..... so I lay in strategically placed pools of coolant & trans fluid .....

    Enjoying this build already :D

  • #2

    Because I have multiple projects on the go… I needed to play muscle car tetris again, so I’ve parked the Ute & it’s parts in the corner now as it will probably be a few weeks before we get back into it…



    The next steps will be to completely strip out the interior & tear down the engine…

  • #2

    "strip out the interior" that's going to be a fun game looking at the rust you already found

  • #2

    "strip out the interior" that's going to be a fun game looking at the rust you already found

    Oh yes... the cab is going to be in a bad way, but maybe I've inhaled too many welding fumes but I'm really looking forward to getting the cab fully stripped so I can see just how bad she is... I'm excited

  • #2

    A little more progress has been made on the Ute project now… we’ve started pulling the engine down to see how good/bad it is & to see what needs to be redone. Now of course what needs to be redone will be determined by Bryans performance goals & his budget… so we pulled the heads off



    The heads look fine.. lots of carbon buildup to be cleaned up clearly & if they are to be reused then they will have hardened valve seats cut in to allow for running on unleaded fuel without the need for any lead additives to protect the valve seats. It’s a little hard to tell from the darkness of the pic below but the cam lobes have more wear on them that I expected to see, but we believe they drag raced this Ute so I expect that the wearing is do to heavy loading & poor oiling… the oil galleries in the block are not great, they have a lot of crud built up in them & they would have been impacting oil flow for sure


    Took one of the crank caps off to check the bearing shells & removed a piston too for the same reason & you can see that the bearing shells are burnt & have some scoring.. luckily the crank is fine & will come up as good as new with a light linish.


    With the piston out we could look at the bore & it’s not great but not terrible, there is some pitting & some minor scoring.. depending on how the others look we might get away with just a rehone.. but I suspect that it will need a slight overbore (it’s a virgin bore, so heaps of room to go oversize)


    Now where the ****up fairy may well have visited is in how the heads had been last put on.. some of the head bolts came out easy & some needed my big braker bar as even my big ugga-dugga gun wouldn’t break them loose, the torques were all over the place… now the Holden block has a design feature I don’t like & that’s that two of the head bolts on each side are cast into tiny buttresses that protrude into the intake space… seen here between the bulges that the pushrods run thru


    Well once we had the heads off we could see that the side of one of these buttresses has sheered off… this is clearly not a good outcome


    Now we do have the broken piece too


    BUT welding cast iron is not a simple task… also I’m not sure that we can weld/repair it & then have it drilled & tapped so that it can take the torque retaining force required for a head bolt. My engine builder should be here on the weekend to start the GTO so I’ll ask his advice before reaching out to my local machine shop.. but it’s possible that this tiny fractured piece of metal may mean that this block is now a wine rack or a coffee table going forward…

  • #2

    Would it be possible to drill deeper into the block and tap the same length of thread as was there before?

  • #2

    No, that’s not an option.. since this is a buttresses or a web casting section. If you look at this section side on you can see where it angles back sharply just below the break point.


    If you look at where the screwdriver blade is placed here you couldn’t drill any lower than that or the drill bit would drill out into fresh air, the tap that would have been used here would have bottomed out at that point.. so we can’t drill it any deeper, it’s weld it up & re-tap or nothing I think.


  • #2

    Balls, there goes the easy option

  • #2

    Mate, I always enjoy your threads. Its great to see the work going in to these old cars. Have you a youtube page?

  • #2

    chris435 wrote: »
    Mate, I always enjoy your threads. Its great to see the work going in to these old cars. Have you a youtube page?

    Thanks, glad you like the threads. No, I don't have a YouTube channel... I have thought of doing one a few times, but like most people I don't like seeing or hearing myself on camera plus I always figured it would be a lot of effort to film & edit a channel for the 6 or 7 subscribers I figure I'd get & then there is the added pressure of people expecting content every week etc...

    I also wonder if all the "big" work that people might have been really interested in seeing is already done now on the XB & the Challenger?

  • #2

    At the end of the day people who enjoy watching those videos watch them because they like the work being done. Theres a really good fella called Mymechanics on youtube who doesnt even speak and does a load of lathe work.

  • #2

    Right this old girl has been sitting for a while now, so time to get back into giving her some love... first up strip out the interior, so seats & center console need to come out

    Then pull the carpet & underlay out... Fingers crossed that what we find under here it good as there is some mold in here on the underlay from what I assume was a heater core leak.

    A bit of surface rust, but I'm very happy with how it looks, you can see above that the front section of the floor has already been replaced, so I guess it rusted out before.

  • #2

    Removed the rear window from the Ute today, it had been glued in at the corners... you can see why, it obviously you can see how it was leaking in those corners 

    There is a lot rust on the flat edge too that will need to be fixed up before the glass goes back in

    There is also some bad rust in the rear panel section, not sure why it's so bad in only one spot... but just glad it's only one spot I guess

  • #2

    Next job was to remove the dash, this is a job I normally hate on old cars as things tend to be brittle & it's so easy to break something that's made of pure unobtainium.. but this all came out pretty easy I guess

    First step, drop the lower panel 

    Then the gauge surround  

  • #2

    Next job was to drop the steering column & get that out of the way  

    Then removed the metal frames that hold all the gauges in 

    Then finally the dash pad is the last bit...

  • #2

    The front window will have to come out too... so first up the trim has to come off, the side vertical trim is just held on by screws

    The top & bottom strips are held on with the usual clips that all Muscle cars at least seem to use 

    But with the correct tool it's easy to get them off with no damage

  • #2

    There has been a rust bubble on the cowl that's been annoying me forever, so I quickly got ahead of myself & ground it back to see what was under it... you know it's going to be good when you have this much bog to grind thru...

    This is going to be fun

    There is no metal under the window... it's all bog... I just wonder how bad it'll be when I have the glass out & I can get right in there with the grinder 

  • #2

    I hate wiring & removing wiring from cars is no different, in that I hate that too... but I've been careful to label things correctly & not break anything 

  • #2

    Next up the heater needs to come out... on the XB this lived inside the car under the dash & came out in one piece, but Holden did it differently. First you unbolt the front section off

    Then you go inside & unbolt the back half

    Right so that's the heater & all the vents out

Society & Culture