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Peeling Back the Onion

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By: George Giroux 



Think we all have heard that expression before and recently I found out and continue to find out how true it is…well bought the 67 RS/CC Convertible back in the Fall of 2000…found it down in Fort Lauderdale from a couple who had it for almost 11 years (wife originally from Groton, MA…think that why she sold it to me to send it back home)…car came with lots of original documentation to include copy of original Bill of Sale and that all important Protect-O-Plate.  Owners did lots of research and said that this was a number matching car and that I was now the 7th owner…Anyway back to the Onion Story…

Been wanting to do something about the transmission since it has a 2-Speed Powerglide which is supposed to be indestructible but not really a great tranny to do some long distance driving as it will Tach around 3200 RPMs at 60 MPH.  So I toyed with the idea of going to a 4 or 5 speed manual but got lots of opinions that should look at the 700 R4 Overdrive.  Also been watching it leak oil for some time and figured be good to have the engine looked at and while thinking about all this lets get a new exhaust system.

So I finally talked to Bill Douglas and asked him if he would be interested in taking on the project and of course Bill never say no…just the kind of guy he is…so about 2 weeks ago I brought the Camaro done to Bill’s garage and we started talking about what we wanted to do…well knowing Bill it was easy for him to decide..lets do it all at once since we will have it I agreed.  So I dropped Mike Sullivan an email and asked for his opinion on the Tranny and Exhaust system since he had done his 67 some time ago.  Mike pointed me Gardner Exhaust in New York and Bowtie Overdrives for the tranny in California. 

Next day I picked up the phone and gave them a call and both where extremely helpful in going over what I had in the car and gave me what I needed to complete each job.

Oh so you wondering still about the onion…well that is where Bill comes in, seems the more he went to ready the car the worse things got…first was a really bad leak at the rear main seal and by the time he got the motor out and to the machine shop it was nothing but wonderful news…engine needed a complete refresh..well she is pretty old…the sub frame was in bad shape so had to order a repair kit…the muffler was shot and sounded like a baby rattle and we still not done…

At time of writing this the new tranny has been delivered…the exhaust system shipped and on its way and oh did I mention had to get a new rebuilt date coded Water Pump?  Yup that too…and it just arrived yesterday…plus I getting boxes everyday from Rick’s First Gen, Year One and other companies with parts and pieces…The motor should be back from the shop this coming week and once Bill gets things ready he told me to come with my work cloths and prepare to spend lot of time under the car while it up on the lift cleaning the undercarriage and painting it…Well tha tit for now will keep you posted and let you know how it all comes out…Until then lets pray for a great car season cause I be looking forward to some long rides with the top down (maybe)











Well In the words of the late Paul Harvey (1918-2009)…”And now for the rest of the story”….The onion we were talking about last time got so big it had a name of its own…Yes the motor needed a complete internal make-over as well as a good cleaning and paint job…Oh according to Bill Douglas the motor wasn’t “junk” but it was a “hurtin puppy”.  The frame, oh yes, was sad…just about every mount hole was bad and there were some interesting dents underneath leading Bill to think somebody ran the car off the road at some point in its life.  So plates where welded on and evened out…frame sanded, primed and painted.  The exhaust manifolds which Bill blasted before shipping out to Jet Hot came back and looked like new. 

Next was the arrival of the new water pump and oh yes the power steering rag-joint coupler was broke and had to be replaced.  Did I forget to mention that back in 67 GM was having a problem with the motor mounts due to the engine torque and the initial fix was a safety lift stop cable which I had on my Camaro.  Well when Bill pulled the motor we found that both of the motor mounts were cracked. Good thing I had the fix in place!!  So new motor mounts were ordered and installed.

So after all this we finally got the sub-frame done, installed the motor and tranny and into the car it went….The under carriage had already been cleaned primed and painted.  At this point it was slowly and methodically putting Humpty Dumpty back together.  Bill then took the Driveshaft to Montrose Machine in Wakefield, MA to be shortened and balanced.

Parts blasted, primed and painted including the air cleaner and the radiator the end was looking close.  A few bits of Bill’s magic to make things work without destroying the original parts was all that was now needed.  However, to save the original shifter I ordered one from ShiftWorks out of New York which fit just nicely and retained all the looks of the original. 

And yes the day finally came when we were ready to take the car to D&S Transmissions in Chelmsford, MA for the pressure tests to initiate the 700R-4 warranty.  From there it was a tweak here and a change there to get the car shifting and running smoothly.  One more thing…one night Bill was reading the paperwork that came with the tranny and found in order not to void the warranty he had to install an inline filter on the return line and run it for a minimum of 100 miles to be sure no lose debris got into the transmission.

Now with the warm weather here I will be putting the car thru its gentle paces to break the motor and transmission in.  Speaking of break-in the machine shop gave me six quarts of Joe Gibbs Racing Break-in Oil to be used for the first 500 miles.  And being the curious sort of person I contacted (via email) the Techs at Joe Gibbs Racing and asked about the oil and what to use after the break-in period.  To my surprise I ended up exchanging a few emails with the famous Lake Speed Jr.  He told me that the older motors need the zinc that is in the break-in oil as well as the JGR regular/synthetic Oils and gave me a recommendation for use once the break-in period is over.   So that big ole onion finally got completely peeled. 

I would like to thank the following folks:

First and foremost Bill Douglas for his professionalism, wisdom and his patients with me


Lake Speed Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing

Chris Chandler, Bowtie Overdrive

Eric Gardner, Gardner Exhaust Systems

The folks at Jet Hot Coating

Don at D&S Transmissions

Randall at Precision Machine and Balancing

Bob Byrnes, Montrose Machine, Inc.

And all of Bill’s friends who came by the garage day after day for their humor and comments


The Beginning 


George Giroux