Fiat 128 Sedan Build for the Bride of Burrito

Discussion in 'Front Wheel Drive Fiats' started by Burrito, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I figure this as good a time as any to start porting my 128 build thread over to this neck of the woods. I'll try to get a few of the updates brought over every day as time allows. It's a little time consuming as I have to change all of the image tags.

    6/9/2015

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    This car came up on our local Craigslist early last week and, after a short conversation and some cursory research, we both agreed that we should drag it home. The previous owner bought the car June 1st 1990; We took deliver 25 years later, to the day! It was parked in 1996 after the head gasket popped and was put into storage until last week.


    This thread should move fairly quickly, unlike some of my others. I'm jumping straight into the rust repair before doing too much with the mechanics. The car is scabby, but very solid, so there might not be too much in the way of sheet metal work here. I'd like to have it ready to go off for paint in two weeks, barring any extreme rust that I've yet to uncover.

    The immediate plan calls for a X19 1.5, 5 speed, and L-Jetronic swap, rabbit struts and coilovers up front, wagon leaf spring and new dampeners out back, fresh paint, and some lows on steel wheels. Obviously brakes and steering components will also be freshened up as things come apart.
     
  2. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    6/9/2015

    This was originally a rubber bumper car. The PO converted it to chrome bumpers at some point during it's tenure with him. As grateful as I am for that fact, there are a few remaining relics of it's previous life as a big-bumper car.

    Just look at all those reflectors, the giant license plate holder, and the scabbed on reverse light. Since we are going for the "Cleaned" look, all this has to go.

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    Since we are lucky enough to have the early bumper, the plate light and reverse light will be easily relocated to their proper locations. The license plate lights are available new for about $25 to my door and the reverse light will be a universal unit unless I stumble upon an early piece for cheap.

    Here's an example of the earlier rear end:

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    Much better!

    So, lets tear it down and see how many holes we have to deal with.

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    Ok. Bumper off, lights removed, and a quick roll call for the newly uncovered holes. 2 for each reflector, 5 for the plate holder, and a biggy for the reverse light. A nice even ten hole job.

    The Darwin fish might make a reappearance later on in this cars life (it is dated 1990, after all), or maybe we will see if there's a booming market for pseudo-vintage Darwin fish on eBay.

    All of the small holes (about 3/8" and under) were filled in with the welding spoon thusly.

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    After a spell we had nine holes filled in, and nine welds ground flush.

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    Awesome, already looking much better. I may have stuck a few of my VTO wheels on there to check clearances, ignore that for now.

    Onto the big hole for the reverse light.

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    I opened the hole up a bit to get rid of the two proud mounting ears.

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    But at some point during the move into the new shop I lost my little surface mount clampy things and the last one of my rare earth magnets. Queue ingenuity.

    I don't need no stinking magnets or cumbersome clamps.

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    I gave the patch a little curve to match the rear panel.

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    After a hundred or so pulls of the trigger and more than a few short breaks for beer and panel cooling we are all welded up.

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    And good penetration on the backside (heh).

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    After about a decade with a grinder, again moving slowly to not warp that wide flat panel, we are all ground off flush. There's a little bobble on the top seam. Nothing a skim of filler can't hide. /media/img/icons/smilies/wink-18.png" class="smiley" alt="

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    That pretty much rounds out the rear panel until I find a plate holder I like (or fabricate something). Next step is rear corner marker shaving and rear quarter panel rust repair.
     
  3. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    6/10/2015

    So, continuing on with plugging up the holes. I made my typical tape template (big thanks to NOHOME on GRM for that tip).

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    Stick it on some sheet and snip it out.

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    As a flat sheet it well and truly doesn't fit so well.

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    So, naturally, hit it with a hammer until it does.

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    Side B fits pretty dang well.

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    Side A does, too.

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    Side A all welded in.

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    Looks good on the backside.

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    All ground off. Again, a little wave, but well within reason. I think I warped it in the grinding process, I will take a little more care on the opposite side.

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    Side B is left at this point for the night.

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    Hopefully tomorrow I can get it all welded in and ground off before moving down to the rear quarters / trunk corners.
     
  4. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Largely text update:

    Last night I got the passenger rear cornermarker patch all welded in a partially ground off. It's coming out nicely. I'll grab some pictures of that once it's all finished up.

    Since I had a helper for the night and the $600 X1/9 has disappeared, we thought it would be wise to put a bit of time into the stock lump. The possibility of pushing off the engine and transmission swap for a few months is pretty likely, so I'd like to hear the stock motor cough to life before A. throwing money at it or B. condemning it to life as a boat anchor. Maybe living with the tiny stock engine and 4 speed will make us appreciate the halfway modern 1.5l FI setup more.

    So we tossed a battery in it, put it on the charger, and made sure she had some oil in the crankcase. Lights on the dash! Cool. Turn the key. Nothin'.

    Ok. Pull the fuses, clean all the contacts with a little tiny brass wire wheel in the drill and scotchbrite the fuses. Reinstall fuses, note that far right fuse is popped, replace with new. Fuel pump runs! Raw fuel leak at the carb. Fix fuel leak.

    Turn the key. CLICK. Hmm. Grab a long drift and a big hammer and bang on the starter for a few seconds. Pull the spark plugs so it doesn't have to fight compression. Wert, wert, wert. She slowly cranks over, now we are getting somewhere. Stop cranking for a few seconds. Wertwertwert. Faster this time. Wertwertwertwert, now she's cranking at full speed. Radical!

    Check for spark. No spark. 12v at the 15 terminal on the coil. Good. Oh, E36 M3. This thing has points. I'm 28, what the berkeley do I know about points? They suck, that's about the bulk of it; electronic ignition is a gift from Science. Some cursory internet research ensues. Testing. More testing. Toss in a spare coil. No change.

    Clean every electrical contact between the coil and plugs, including points. "I need a good 12v test light if I'm going to be working on analog stuff", I finally admit to myself before turning in for the night, dejected and without spark.

    I think I have it narrowed down to a bad condenser at this point. I'll grab a set of points, too, just to be sure.

    Ordered wheels. $180, plus $60 shipping.

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  5. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    fun with Fiats

    Always nice to see guys working on 128s. Wish my welding skills was up to your level. I run a 1500 with a carb in my 128 wagon. Unlike youngsters like you I prefer changing jets to looking at a VOM to solve induction issues. I do run electronic ignition though.

    carl
     
  6. Gromit

    Gromit Low Mileage

    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    wow!

    Great work, I hope to be traveling down the same path once I can find a suitable sedan.
     
  7. Karfrik

    Karfrik Albert

    Location:
    FtWorth Texas USA
    suscribing!!!......and can you tell us what yr is it then?....and any pics on how the early rear bumper is mounted?.....thanks
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
  8. Kevin Channer

    Kevin Channer True Classic

    Very nice build! I look forward to seeing more. I might add one tip, If you do source a X19 1.5 F.I. or carb motor, the 5spd trans will not be usable to you. It has a different lay out , "backwards" to the 128/Strada. You can use a Strada 5spd, and perhaps a Yugo 5spd with modifications.
     
  9. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    In reply to Karfrik: The car is a '74. I'll try to grab a few pictures of the bumper mounts this evening.

    In reply to Kevin Channer: Yeah, I realized that a few months into the project. Naturally, it wasn't until I was laying under an exxie in a junkyard that the differences in the transmissions were so stark.

    I apologize for leaving you guys hanging for a few days. My week ended up being a fair bit busier than expected and I haven't had much time to dork around on the internet. I'm off work all next week though, so I should be able to get you folks all caught up to date on the project.

    Here's a little bit of foreshadowing:

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  10. Karfrik

    Karfrik Albert

    Location:
    FtWorth Texas USA
    No rush, whenever time permits.Thanks!!
     
  11. Agnelli

    Agnelli True Classic

    Location:
    Marin County, CA
    let us know what you need

    Super cool, Yugo 5 speed plus the requisite sway bar! If you need a perfect Ducelier distributor to get the existing drivetrain running, give a shout. Your new points may do the trick, but in case not....
     
  12. 128kid

    128kid Courtney Waters

    Location:
    Essex Junction, VT
    I tried the GVX swap on my '76 sedan years ago. The car was lowered and the stock 128 bar would hit the 5th gear cover on the trans in bump. I tried to install a GVX bar but found that the arm lengths were different, by about an inch.

    128:

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    GVX:

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    I did drive it that way for about a week (rubber hose on bar for cushion). The gearing was noticably lower on the freeway but my stock-ish 1290 could barely pull it. Definitely go for a 1500 with the trans swap.
     
  13. 128kid

    128kid Courtney Waters

    Location:
    Essex Junction, VT
    Awesome work! I've got similar parts and plans for one of my sedans so I'm quite interested to see how yours turns out.
     
  14. Jeff Stich

    Jeff Stich True Classic

    Location:
    Norco, CA
    Yugo 5spd swaybar

    Yep, same as I found out; 128 bar on top, Yugo 5-speed bar on bottom:

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  15. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I'm apparently a busy man!

    Well, it's become increasingly obvious that I'm never going to find the free time to port the entire build thread over, so here's what we are going to do: I'll just drop the link to the full build over on GRM here (and in the first post on this page) and start mirroring updates and posting on both forums from here on out. Capisce?

    https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1974-fiat-128-sedan-for-the-bride-of-burrito/102542/page1/

    Hopefully I will have the age old question of "How do I mount a Yugo swaybar to my 128 Sedan?" all figured out tonight. :thumbsup:
     
  16. Gromit

    Gromit Low Mileage

    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    cheers!

    Thanks! now I know i need to find a 128...
     
  17. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Better late than never.

    I couldn't ignore the swaybar dilemma any longer. It turned out to be a little more work than I had anticipated, but it is mostly done now. For those of you not in the know, the Yugo swaybar is about an inch longer that the 128 bar. If you were to try to install in the stock orientation you would end up with fairly extreme negative caster. So, here's one way to mount the more bendy 5 speed Yugo swaybar to a 128.

    Drill the rivets out of the stock swaybar brackets and hack one ear off.

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    Uhhh, add some pieces.

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    The lump on the bottom bracket comes from the stock bracket. The stock bracket material is 10ga, I used .125" flat strap because that's what was in the scrap bin...

    You can kinda see where I'm heading here. Move the swaybar mounts forward, regain some caster.

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    Here's the proposed installation.

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    After some profiling, grinding, filling old holes, and making new ones we have a pretty good looking bracket.

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    After some powder coat.

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    And bolts.

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    And a motha' truckin' swaybar.

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    I still need to make 2 small brackets out of some 12ga to space the nuts out flush with the little lip here

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    I did have to massage the lower valance ever so slightly to clear the swaybar in its slightly more forward position.

    Once I know that everything is copacetic and this actually works I will gladly post dimensions so other 128 dorks can do the same, if there's any interest.
     
  18. fiatfactory

    fiatfactory Steve Cecchele

    Location:
    Western Australia
    Clean solution...

    128's are notoriously weak in the front end (once you install more powerful engines) and as you have excellent fabrication skills you should give some thought to some front end strengthening, plating gussets and triangulations at the weak points... much easier to do a "stitch in time, and save nine" while the front end is square...

    SteveC
     
  19. Burrito

    Burrito Daily Driver

    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    So I have heard. I'm hoping that a fairly standard 1500 isn't enough to tear it up in the short-term. I'll be monitoring it pretty closely for the first few thousand miles; if it starts to come apart or tear spot welds out, I'll leap into action. I'll tell my wife to refrain from any big drag style launches...

    At any rate, I plan to do the front end reinforcements when the car comes apart for rust repair and paint next year. I'm thinking something similar to what Myte128 did to his Sedan over on T124, but with a Burrito flourish. :)
     
  20. fiatfactory

    fiatfactory Steve Cecchele

    Location:
    Western Australia
    I rallied one for a few years back in the 1980's, and reinforcing the front end was needed, as it began to crack up badly after only two events.

    If you want any tips on how to do it, send me a PM.

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    SteveC
     

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