Wednesday, July 28, 2021

1956 Pontiac Wagon Redo, part 1.

A little over a year ago, I picked this '56 Pontiac wagon up for a personal vehicle.  It was running and driving with a 350/350 combo and a Camaro subframe.  The car is fairly solid with very little rust.  I knew there were some issues mechanically, but I told myself that I was just going to drive it and enjoy.  Well, one thing led to another and it turned into a project.  Isn't that how it always goes?

Overall, it wasn't terrible.  The engine ran well but nothing was cleaned up when it was installed.  The car did have a new wiring harness, but like everything else, it need some attention.  Ultimately, I wanted a good reliable driver that I could load the family in, hook up the camper and have a fun weekend.

The more I investigated, the more that I was unsatisfied with the installation of the subframe.  So out came the engine to address a laundry list of issues.  The Pontiac frame was quite a bit wider than the subframe where the legs come down.  Instead of cutting the legs off, there were copious amounts of angle iron used to bridge the gaps.  The X-frame was cut fairly severely and the transmission cross member prevented any exhaust being able to be tucked up out of the way.  Luckily, the subframe was installed squarely so it didn't need to come completely out.

Working on one side at a time, the subframe rails and excess angle were cut off.  1/8" thick plate was use to blend the remain subframe into the original chassis.  The X-frame was rebuilt so that a new transmission cross member could be built that allowed for the exhaust to pass through.

On Pontiacs, unlike tri-Five Chevys, the heater was located on the firewall on the drivers side and the pedals were mounted under the floor board.  I assume whoever installed the subframe, installed a set of swing pedals and power booster.  As you can see from the pictures, it required addressing as well.

At this point, where do you stop?  I was in it all the way, so why not fix everything?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Volvo 240 LS Swap

Finally, I am at a point where I can spend sometime on my own projects.  I picked this 240 wagon up about 8 years ago from a really nice old lady.  She made me promise that I would take care of her car when I bought it.

I used it as a daily driver for about 4 years.  It was extremely reliable, a little quirky and was awesome in the snow.  While on my way home one evening it just shut off at a stop light.  After pushing the car into a parking lot, it was found that it had no fuel pressure.  Apparently, the fuel pumps...yes, there are two fuel pumps...are know to go bad.  I initially looked at fixing it but for the price of the fuel pumps and the effort to change then, I bought a 5.3l out of a 2004 Tahoe.  At the time, there were only a couple 240's that had been swapped and it looked like a fairly easy ordeal.

So, out came the original 2.3l and I dove head first into making a fun, reliable, standard shift daily.  Well, after a couple months of working on it, customer's projects kept coming in.  I eventually push it out beside the build and it sat for 3 years.

Before pushing it out, I was able to get the engine bolted in, completely rewire the car, figure out the majority of the hard stuff like accessory drives, exhaust and mount a clutch pedal.  Initially, I wanted to run stock truck manifolds but the flanges interfered with the frame.  At the time, the aftermarket manifolds weren't readily available, so I decided to build some headers.

The 5.3l actually fit in the engine bay fairly nicely.  The steering shaft is a bit tight but there is enough room there to make it work.

I couldn't find a radiator that fit, so, a little trimming was necessary.  The tanks were eventually all welded up and a support placed on the bottom side.

One of the downfalls with Volvo 240's is the wiring.  I did not want any wiring issues so it was completely rewired with a new aftermarket harness.  I did have to purchase the 133page volvo wiring schematic manual to figure out how to get all of the original switch to work with basically a GM aftermarket harness.

Here it sits after the 3 year hiatus beside the shop

The headers were finished and sent out to be ceramic coated.

The truck 5.3l pans are extremely deep.  I had to take about 2" out of it to get everything to clear.

With the engine out, why not add a new cam?

Initially, I am using a T5 out of a V8 Camaro.  Yeah, I know it won't hold up, but I have several and it will at least get the thing on the road.  I will eventually go with a Tremec.

It couldn't have gone in any easier...

Here it currently stands.  It cranks and has oil pressure.  Onto the fuel system next.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

1950 Olds engine swap...

A very nice '50 Olds came into the shop to get some engine mounts and transmission mount fab'd, but of course, it didn't stop there.  The engine is an all new small block Chevy with a vintage 471 blower and a Tremec 5 speed.  It's pretty tight in the engine bay, so we modified a set of C10 headers to work.  We also addressed several other little issues while the engine was out that was done from previous engine installs.

That's a whole lot of engine to cram into a stock engine bay...

The front mounts and cross member were all fab'd from 1/8" steel plate. 

The passenger side header from a C10 fit without issue, the Driver's side was a different story.  The steering box, steering column, master cylinder and clutch linkage were all in the way.

There is still some work to do but it is in and will clear the hood without issue.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

'36 Ford roof...

I decided about a week before the Race of Gentleman event this year that I wanted to finally go.  The plan was to drive the '36 3 window that I had replaced the lower half of the body several years ago.  However, the forecast for the drive was rain and with no roof insert, that would be miserable.  So, I needed to build a roof, even if it was only temporary.

Someone over the years attempted to install a sunroof.  It appears that they used a hatchet..

In order to hold it in, I first need a frame.

Once I had the frame, I rolled a piece of aluminum sheet on the English wheel to get a nice crowned panel.  The edges where then folded over the framed.

It's way more waterproof than before!

'65 Mercedes Floor repair...

We had a customer drop off a '65 Mercedes 220 SE that had some previous floor "work".  As you can see, the owner wasn't too pleased with the quality of what was done. 

Here is the previous "work"...I understand that it all gets covered with carpet, but...

Everything had to come out.  The owner actually was able to find replacement panels that made it a bit easier.  However, with most patch panels, they are not quite big enough.

As with most floor repairs, it is always worse than what it first appears.

All patched up as close to original as we could make it for the budget we we given.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

'46 Chevy Truck...

I met this customer several years ago when he started putting this truck together.  His grandfather bought this thing new and it has been on his family's farm every since.  His goal was to get it back together but still use it like a truck.  He definitely wanted a 5 speed for it and so I rounded up all of the parts he needed for the swap.

Well fast forward 3 years later and the truck is all together and on the road.  However, it handled like a stock '46 Chevy truck and was legitimately scary to drive over 60 mph.  So, with a little help from Fatman Fabrications, we installed a new front end and addressed a bunch of little issues.

Here it was when he drove it over.  Overall a fairly respectable looking old truck.

Even though the original front end was completely rebuilt, there was a lot of wear in the steering components...

Before the Mustang II could be put in, the frame had to be boxed...

The rack interfered with the original front cross member and original front motor mount.  This forced us to move the motor mounts to the side of the engine.


The inner fenders also interfered with the suspension hats.

There were a lot of little things that needed to be done like fix an AC leak and recharge it.

Not much difference on the outside, but it drove like a completely different vehicle.  I wouldn't hesitate to take it cross country now.