Resto Basics: Bumper Bolt-Up

Ben Williams September 18, 2020 10 No Comments

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Fast Freddie’s Rod Shop at Eau Claire, Wis. , generally has a broad selection of old vehicle restoration and resto-mod jobs filling the store at any particular time. One of the neatest jobs from the works recently included a 1971 Dodge Challenger that the Fast Freddie’s team was switching into a classic SCCA Trans Am road race car.

The Challenger was nicely worn as it arrived in the store and obtained a great deal of body function and rushing mods to allow it to mimic a authentic track automobile, but one of those things that was likely to stay stock was that the factory-type chrome bumpers. The back bumper on the Dodge could not be stored. It was simply too beat up to return to the vehicle, but accredited replacements are offered through providers such as Auto Metal Direct (AMD), which also provided some body panels and floor pans to your Challenger.

A fresh new rear bumper from Auto Metal Direct (AMD) will go on the back of this 1971 Dodge Challenger, which is being restored into a vintage SCCA Trans Am racer. The car received plenty of new metal on the body and floors, and some front-end mods to help cool the brakes and engine, but the bumpers will remain stock.

A new new back bumper from Auto Metal Direct (AMD) will proceed on the rear of the 1971 Dodge Challenger, that has been restored into a classic SCCA Trans Am racer. The automobile received lots of fresh metal on the human body and flooring, and a few front-end mods to help cool the engine and brakes, but the bumpers will stay inventory.

Of class, even the easiest jobs are not as simple as they appear, and also the Fast Freddie’s team wound up with to check fit the new bumper many times, shim it on each side and finally bend the bumper mounting brackets with a tiny hefty persuasion prior to the AMD replacement bumper match just perfect.

“AMD has Chrysler-licensed reproduction front and rear bumpers, and they are as factory correct as you can get,” noted Fast Freddie’s proprietor Fred Kappus Jr. “It’s as long as you are likely to get at a reproduction. Every once in a while you need to bend and tweak and form things like this, however, AMD is a really excellent resource for breeding panels.

Sean Branson eyeballs the new mounting brackets to determine if the existing holes will work. “A lot of times you’ll have to hog out some holes and maybe do a little welding on the brackets,” he said. “ We have an aftermarket bumper and aftermarket bracket, and a lot of times you’ll be just an 1/8 inch off and you’ll have to adjust the holes. This gives you a lot of adjustment left to right, but not as much up and down. “

Sean Branson eyeballs the newest mounting brackets to find out whether the present holes will probably get the job done. “Plenty of times you are going to need to hog some holes out and perhaps do a little welding onto the mounts,” he explained. ” We have an aftermarket bumper and aftermarket bracket, and a great deal of times you will be only an 1/8 inch away and you are going to need to adjust the holes. This provides you a great deal of adjustment left to right, but maybe not as much up and down. “

“There is rather a lot of adjustment from the bumper mounts ) You may observe the tail pan is slotted to your bumper bracket so that you get a up-and-down adjustment and you also receive some side-to-side adjustment. It’s a two-man procedure to get everything setup how you need it, but not overly hard.”

The bumpers were test fitted prior to the Challenger, that had been painted with primer, could select final paint and meeting. The bumpers will come back, clearly, until your system heads into the paint booth, but not until it matches perfectly, gets photographed and then marked so things move smoothly during final meeting.

Having an extra pair of hands definitely makes fitting a bumper easier. Here Peter Schnoor holds the bumper in place while Sean Branson bolts things up under the back of the car. “It’s always nice when you are restoring any of these cars to be able to use the original parts that were on the car,” Schnoor noted. “Unfortunately, this bumper was just bent up and beat up. Forty-five years of being on the road wasn’t nice to it.”

Having an excess set of hands undoubtedly makes fitting a breeze simpler. Here Peter Schnoor retains the bumper in position while Sean Branson bolts up things beneath the rear of the automobile. “It’s always nice when you are restoring any of these cars to be able to use the original parts that were on the car,” Schnoor noted. “Unfortunately, this bumper was just bent up and beat up. Forty-five years of being on the road wasn’t nice to it.”

In that circumstance, the bumper brackets were shimmed using a set of 116-inch spacers on the passenger side, along with one spacer on the driver’s side. When the openings still were not ideal, the team pulled out the “Pogo Stick” drawing instrument, which offers lots of leverage to securely tweak the bumper brackets and flex objects marginally to find all to lined up.

“The biggest thing is just getting your gaps right and making sure the contours on the quarter panels fit the contours on the bumpers,” Kappus said. “All you need are regular hand tools, and you’re gonna want a buddy over with you, so he can hold one side while you tighten the other and help you eyeball it.” 

The goal is to get the gaps to match the angled contours of the car evenly from top to bottom, and have them identical on both sides of the car. This gap is too tight on top, meaning the bumper and bracket are going to have to be pushed out from the car with some shims. “We’re trying to be super exact because we’re doing high-end work for a customer,” Schnoor noted. “But for a backyard mechanic or someone just doing a personal car, most people aren’t going to pick up on it — if it’s off by 1/8 inch, who cares? But if you bring it to a show, the judges and people will pick up on it. Just for an everyday driver, it’s not that big a deal.”

The aim is to receive the openings to coincide with the angled shapes of the car equally from top to base, and also have them identical on each side of the automobile. This gap is too tight at the top, meaning that the bumper and mount are likely to need to be pushed out of the car with a few shims. “We’re trying to be super exact because we’re doing high-end work for a customer,” Schnoor noted. “But for a backyard mechanic or someone just doing a personal car, most people aren’t going to pick up on it — if it’s off by 1/8 inch, who cares? But if you bring it to a show, the judges and people will pick up on it. Just for an everyday driver, it’s not that big a deal.”

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When all else fails, brute force is sometimes needed. In this case, Branson employs a “Pogo Stick” leverage tool to pull the Challenger’s bumper down just slightly on the driver’s side. The adjustment is just enough to get the nice 1-inch gaps all around that the Fast Freddie’s crew was shooting for. The brackets and bumper will be tightened down enough to leave witness marks, then it will be removed for final bodywork and paint. “We’ll put a crush washer behind the bumper to keep it from dimpling during final assembly,” Branson said. “When you come this far, it’s that little bit extra to make everything fit perfectly that can make a pretty big difference in the end.”

When all else fails( brute force can be required. In this circumstance, Branson uses a “Pogo Stick” leverage tool to pull on the Challenger’s bumper down only slightly on the driver’s side. The adjustment is simply sufficient to find the wonderful 1-inch openings all around the Fast Freddie’s team was shooting . The mounts and bumper is going to be tightened down to depart witness marks, then it’ll be eliminated for closing bodywork and paint. “We’ll put a crush washer behind the bumper to keep it from dimpling during final assembly,” Branson said. “When you come this far, it’s that little bit extra to make everything fit perfectly that can make a pretty big difference in the end.”

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