PROJECT W-31 DONE

Part 3: Re­build­ing the chas­sis

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Drew Hardin Pho­tos: Ken Garner, Stephen Mi­nore & Al­lan Stein­bock

In case you are see­ing our Olds project car for the first time, here’s a brief in­tro­duc­tion. This 1970 Cut­lass W-31 has been owned by Oldsmo­bile ex­pert Stephen Mi­nore since 1993. He showed it for a brief time back then, drag raced it, then de­cided to re­turn it to stock form in the late 1990s. But cir­cum­stances worked against the project (life hap­pened, as we so of­ten say) and the car sat, par­tially dis­as­sem­bled, for the bet­ter part of two decades.

In 2017, Mi­nore worked with part­ners Ken Garner and Al­lan Stein­bock of Garner Cus­toms and Restora­tions in Braden­ton, Flor­ida, on the restora­tion of what be­came an award-win­ning 1972 W-30. Dur­ing that project, Garner and Stein­bock of­fered to help Mi­nore fin­ish his W-31, and we were in­vited to tag along. We in­tro­duced the car to read­ers in our Oct. 2018 is­sue, and the tech sto­ries kicked off in our Nov. 2018 is­sue with the restora­tion of the rearend. For this in­stall­ment we will go through some of the steps taken to re­store the frame and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents.

The process starts with the sep­a­ra­tion of the car’s body from the frame, and the re­moval of all the com­po­nents bolted to the frame, in­clud­ing the up­per and lower con­trol arms, front and rear sus­pen­sion parts, steer­ing box, fuel and brake lines (and their re­lated clips), and so on. Mi­nore’s long­time friend Thomas McClosky was tasked with per­form­ing the frame sep­a­ra­tion and re­mov­ing all items from it. Then the W-31 went to Cheshire, Con­necti­cut, to an­other of Mi­nore’s con­tacts, Wal­ter Damm, who sand­blasted and painted the frame. The frame then sat for a cou­ple of years in Damm’s garage un­til the Garner crew gath­ered up the car and all the parts in Septem­ber 2017.

More sand­blast­ing and paint­ing of the up­per and lower con­trol arms was done in Flor­ida. The W-31 was treated to new up­per and lower ball joints, con­trol-arm bush­ings, in­ner and outer tie rod ends, sleeves, a cen­ter link, and coil springs. One part that Mi­nore has been hold­ing onto for his car is an orig­i­nal, un­worn, 1970 idler arm as­sem­bly, as he be­lieves most of the re­pro­duc­tion ones look a lot dif­fer­ent.

He also went to Ground Up Restora­tions, lo­cated in his back­yard in Nau­gatuck, Con­necti­cut, for some of the front-end com­po­nents. As you might guess from its web ad­dress, SS396.com, Ground Up of­fers a vast sup­ply of items suited for the Bowtie crowd, but Mi­nore uses the com­pany reg­u­larly for parts that are com­mon to most of the A-Body cars from GM’s di­vi­sions. For in­stance, most in­ner tie rod ends are pro­duced with the grease fit­ting fac­ing to­wards the frame, which could present an in­ter­fer­ence prob­lem. Ground Up of­fers a cor­rect, in­ward-ori­ented grease fit­ting lo­ca­tion on the in­ner tie rod end that du­pli­cates a stock in­ner tie rod.

As­sem­bling the front-end com­po­nents can be tricky, so the boys at Garner Cus­toms worked to­gether to in­sure their own safety as well as the pro­tec­tion of the re­stored parts dur­ing re­assem­bly.

“The process starts with the sep­a­ra­tion of the car’s body from the frame”

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