Passenger Side Kick Panel Installation for AC 70-81 Firebird / Camaro

The 1970 through 1981 Firebird, Trans Am and Camaro’s have a special passenger side kick panel for air conditioning. It incorporates a special vent door which recesses into the cowl area of the firewall. Installing the cowl requires the use of butyl rubber to seal the gap between the kick panel and the body panel.

Inspired from this thread Kick Panel Leak Fix from Trans Am Country Forums, I used sound deadener around the opening to create a roof about 2″ deep around the top and 1″ border around the sides and bottom to help direct water flow around, rather than in, the kick panel hole. I used about 12″ x 6″ of aluminum faced deadener (ThermoTec, but any brand would work), cut into strips. I overlapped the sections like shingles would be over lapped so water would run down the deadener like a roof. I also made the horizontal side closest to the firewall curved in about 60° inward to compensate for the angle of the vent door in the kick panel.

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I then used 3m strip calk butyl rope around the perimeter of the opening, as the factory used before installing the kick panel.

I got the fasteners from my local hardware/fastener store (The Andersons), they are special screws with a floating washer. I believe they are 5/8″ long with a #8 thread. The actual vacuum vent used I believe two #14 machine screws.

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Two of the screws were nearly impossible to get to with the HVAC box already installed. I did a little research and found a special offset ratcheting screw driver made by  General Tools tool number 8075, it worked well for the tight situation. There is a Craftsman version of the same tool, I suspect it is made by General for Craftsman. It’s definitely a tool to have around for tight situations like these. Only thing, you need to be very careful how much you ratchet down, you can apply a lot of force that you otherwise would not apply when using a normal screw driver.

Project Trans Am for February 2013 – Intermediate Shaft, Floor Shifter and Dashboard

February was one very busy month, the amount of time I got in the garage shows. Sorry only one picture this month.

Intermediate Shaft Painted

On the second week of February we had one of those 49 degree winter days, so I used the opportunity to paint the intermediate shaft. It came out excellent. I used Dupli-Color etching primer followed by Dupli-Color engine enamel cast gray. It looks pretty darn close to the natural metal finish.

Floor Shifter Installed

While I finish installing the insulation on the floors, I went ahead and installed the floor shifter. I also painted the top plate, which I will install when it comes time to install the center console.

Shift Lever

Dashboard Preparation

I started preparing the dashboard for reinstalling into the car. While test fitting the dash cap I got last summer, I noticed I had a gap fitment problem. I then took the spare dash I have in the crawl space and tested the cap on that dash, and it had the same problem. I called the dash cap company and within3 days they got back to me and said they would send me a replacement cap in the coming week.

While I got the dash out and apart, I also fixed the grab handle mounting so the handle is nice and tight. I used some scrap pieces of plastic I had for other projects to reinforce the backing of the grab handle mounting tabs.

I’m currently taking measurements of the space above the glove box to see if that would be a good spot to mount my 4 port fuse box that I plan on using for both the radio constant power and power windows. This 4 blade fuse terminal will be wired directly to the battery/alternator, providing plenty of power for the windows and stereo. If my plan works, the fuses will be mounted above the glove box, so only someone who knows to look would know the fuses are there.

What’s Next

Believe it or not, I have 6 more spots I want to put small patches of insulation on the floor. Once that’s done I will be installing the carpet, kick panels dash, gauges, center console, steering column and front seats. I expect to have all of this done in March leaving April for working on the engine and transmission.