Removal of the gas tank, the aerodynamic panel between the gas tank and rear body edge, the rear axle, rebound straps, clutch linkages, emergency brake linkages and lots of other little stuff was hard work made much more difficult by the presence of about 1/4″ of accumulated crud. The crud is a mix of grease, road dirt and dust, oil, undercoating, and other debris hardened over the years by continual wetting and drying, heating and cooling. In many cases I had to use a screwdriver and wire brush to expose the bolts holding an assembly together and clean the treads so I could get it apart. I can’t complain too much about this crud though because it protected the metal in these areas from the elements and kept it free of rust.
The tools I used for this job were a 3″ wide putty knife/paint scraper with a sharp edge, a dull pocket knife, a wide bladed screwdriver and a course bristle wire brush. Before climbing under the car I put all 6 of my jack stands under it in case I shook it loose with my scraping, I don’t want to end the project prematurely by having the clutch pivot mounting bracket pierce my lung when the car slips off of a stand. I should add that I wore a respirator, eye protection, gloves and a ski cap. Even with this safety equipment I usually went home with dirty fingernails, eyes red from frequently fishing chunks out of them that got around the glasses and black snot (sorry, I have allergies and blow my nose a lot…). The hat was not so much a safety precaution as a practical way to keep from having to shampoo 6 times to get all the junk out of my hair, like I did the first night.
I started in the most accessible flat areas and worked my way into the corners employing the various tools as needed. The crud scrapes off pretty easily and the undercoating usually goes with it, revealing bare shiny metal. Laying on your back and scraping above your head while wearing all the necessary safety equipment is very hard work. I frequently stop and let my hands and arms rest.
Another shot of what I am up against. The little bracket seen right in the middle of this picture didn’t have anything going through it. Good thing I have a few SS’s in my neighborhood I can look at to find out what it is for. If I didn’t know what I was looking at I would say this was surface rust. It’s rust colored dirt.
Like an archaeologist on a dig I am excited by this find. Look at how well preserved and clean the body is under all this crap. The hole in the upper left hand corner is where the rear suspension spring lives. The shock goes through its center and there is a big rubber bellows that keeps under-car stink from getting in the cabin while driving.
An observant reader will point out that the rear axle is present in this picture but absent earlier. This was my test area to see how hard it would be to remove all the crud. Right after this I began removing the parts mentioned in the first sentence of this post.
This is inside the passenger side rear wheel well looking toward the front of the car at the weld seam where the rocker panels tie into this part of the body. No rust other than surface rust in this area is a pleasant surprise.
I probably spent 20 hours under the car before it was acceptably clean. A lot of the seams and corners in the under body had thick black putty pressed into them, probably applied by Bertone to protect from moisture, deaden road noise and make my life hell 47 years later. I didn’t weigh the debris removed from the car but it was probably two 5-gallon buckets worth and I will guess 50 pounds.
The next step is a trip to a serious professional sand blasters shop to get the whole car striped down to bare metal. I know, why did I do all this work that presumably the sand blaster could have done much easier before getting the car blasted? I wanted to see what I was up against rust-wise before I spent $800 on blasting and I was told that the stuff on the underside is very time consuming and difficult to remove by blasting and that my scraping would save the blasters a lot of time and media, and thereby save me a lot of money. I’m glad I did it at any rate because now I know the underside of the car very well.