In the iconic movie Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed make a mad dash to Texarkana, Texas from Atlanta to pick up a truck load of Coors. Some three decades later, YearOne teamed up with the American Trucker TV series to recreate that special trip - in less than 28 hours of course. And to make the trip even more memorable, YearOne supplied a 600-hp Burt Reynolds Edition Trans Am, and American Trucker managed to find a recreation of the Snowman's famous Kenworth! Be sure to tune in to episode three to see YearOne and American Trucker make the trip they said couldn't be done!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Thrill of Overkill
Story Bob McClurg
Craig Conley of Paradise Wheels, Inc. is one of those guys who likes to think outside the box; and this Twin Paxton-supercharged blow-through, carbureted small-block Mustang is certainly proof of that. Talk about the “mad scientist approach!” “They always say if one is good, then two is better,” says Craig.
Inspired by the twin Paxton-supercharged 427 Cobras created by Carroll Shelby, the idea behind both Conley’s Two-Stage and straight Blow Thru twin-supercharger kits for the 260-302 Ford small-block was to create that all important “wow factor,” while delivering between 10 to14 psi of “safe” boost. First up is Conley’s Two-Stage Paxton reciprocating ball drive supercharger system, which consists of a pair of “SN60”outer cases updated with “SN-2000” fluorocarbon seals, a special CNC-cut impeller and “M50” ball races bolted to a sturdy 5/8-inch thick, 6061 T6 aluminum plate. And, like the single supercharged Paxton setups which were an option on the 1966-68 Shelby GT350s, a Paxton air box – albeit slightly modified – works in conjunction with a boost referenced 650 cfm single four-barrel Holley carburetor. Retail price for Paradise Two-Stage Paxton kit is $3,995 FOB San Marcos, California.
Then there’s Paradise’s SN60 cased, 260-302W Straight Blow Thru Twin Supercharger kit, which features one blower per carburetor. Like the Two-Stage kit, the Straight Blow Thru kit – which shares 95 percent of the same components as the Two-Stage kit – also retails for $3,995 FOB, San Marcos, California. Of course, you will have to go out and purchase a 260-302W dual quad intake manifold like a Blue Thunder, an Edelbrock, or Holley-Weiand, or Paradise can supply you with one for approximately $2,500. “We recommend the 600-cfm vacuum secondary Holleys for street applications, or a set of 600- to 650-cfm Holley center squirters for race setups,” says Conley. It should also be noted that either Two-Stage or Straight Blow Thru kits can be ordered with either the “Paxton Blue” or optional polished SN-2000-style supercharger cases. Vintage Shelby GT350 owners already in possession of an OE Single-Stage SN-60 Paxton supercharger system can purchase the Paradise Paxton upgrade kit for $2,000. Of course, it is highly recommended that the original Paxton SN60 supercharger case be brought up to current spec (at an additional charge).
Conley concludes with “any engine that’s slated for supercharging should have a good set of forged-aluminum pistons – no more than 8.5:1 to 9.0:1 compression – a blower cam with a lobe separation of between 110 to 114 degrees to provide for optimum exhaust scavenging, and a good set of cylinder heads equipped with competition-style head gaskets and head studs.”
Recently, we sat in on the installation of a Blow Thru Twin Supercharger kit onto a 1966 Mustang notchback coupe running a “standard” 8.5:1 compression 289 with a .500 lift cam. Dyno technician Bruce Tucker from JBA Racing Dyno Center in San Diego conducted a series of three pulls with the ’66 on Bittle’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. With Chevron Supreme Unleaded in the tank, and 36 degrees advance in the distributor, the following results were achieved. Optimal horsepower increases were congruent with the increase in jet size, as was the increase in air/fuel ratio. Optimal engine torque registered in at 322 to 329 lbs-ft at 3,550rpm. Not bad either. Now, if you’re looking for a “sweet spot,” (219.9 to 222.5hp at 3,550rpm) from an internally stock 289 would be an ideal operating level.
1 To use the twin supercharger system, if you don’t already happen to own either a Shelby in-line dual quad intake, or a pair of Holley 600s, you’re going to need to obtain both prior to bolting on Paradise Straight Blow Thru dual quad twin supercharger system. Automotive aftermarketers like Blue Thunder, Edelbrock or Holley-Weiand have exactly what you need.
2 The first order of business is the removal of the OE external mechanical fuel pump, which will be replaced by one of Paradise’s high volume mechanical fuel pumps. Next, the alternator is removed along with the fan belt and fan in order to allow the installation of the 8-rib serpentine drive belt crank pulley onto the existing V-belt drive pulley setup.
3 Pulley mounting is accomplished by substituting the series of three OE 3/8-inch factory bolts with three 3/8-inch Allen head long bolts provided in the kit.
4 We see the coil being temporarily unbolted and set aside. It will be re-installed to the new supercharger mounting plate with the coil bracket reversed.
5 The installation of a total of five 11/16-inch hex head studs comes next. Three are screwed on threaded mounting bosses on the right side of the head and two more are screwed into the threaded mounting bosses on the left side of the head.
6 Prior to going any further, it may be necessary to trim approximately 1 inch of material off the heater hose nipple on the water pump to not only clear the inner stud, but also provide enough clearance for the rubber coolant hose. Don’t worry, there will still be enough material left.
7 On goes the bracket which is held in place by a series of six 3/8-16 Grade 8 hex head bolts and one 3/8-16 countersunk Allen bolt.
8 At this juncture, our alternator is re-mounted in position at the underside of the supercharger mounting bracket.
9 The next order of business is the mounting of the supercharger idler pulley to the supercharger mounting plate using a ½-inch bolt.
10 We see the coil being re-positioned and mounted with the bracket reversed to the backside of the supercharger mounting plate.
11 The driver’s side Paxton SN-60 supercharger gets installed, followed with the installation of the air intake duct and K&N conical filter assembly.
12 The driver’s side forward blow thru bonnet and hose assembly comes next.
13 This is followed with the installation of the passenger side Paxton SN-60 supercharger. Note that this unit is “clocked” correctly to provide proper engine clearance and to prevent any engine installation mistakes. It is followed by the rear air bonnet and air intake hose installation.
14 Next comes the re-installation of the fan and accessory drive belt.
15 Installation of the 8-rib serpentine blower drive belt comes next.
16 The passenger side K&N conical air filter and air filter bracket are installed next, right where the battery used to reside.
17 Installing the boost lines to both superchargers is the final step. Then it’s off to San Diego’s JBA Racing Dyno Center.
18 They’re off and running! Results from the first pull yielded 392.5hp at 5,645rpm at 8.9 psi, and 430 lbs-ft at 4,132 to 4,277rpm at 7.4 to 7.0 psi. The air/fuel ratio remained fairly constant at 10.5 to 10.7.
19 Conley goes underneath the hood, and pulls the carburetors for re-jetting. The second run produced 402.8hp at 5,799rpm at 9.0 psi of boost, and 402 lbs-ft at 5,147rpm at 7.8 psi with an air/fuel ratio of 10.8 to 10.5. After a little more tuning, They were able to coax 414.8hp at 5,799rpm at 9.2 psi, and 391 lbs-ft at 5,075rpm at 7.5 psi. Air/fuel ratios fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.1. More importantly, this little black and orange striped ’66 produced 219.9 to 225hp at 3,550rpm, which is some pretty serious horsepower at street operational levels; especially for a reasonably stock 289!
The article featured on this page is from the March 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.
Less Is More
Especially when it comes to heater and radio deletes
Story Wayne Scraba
Tucked away in the pages of early Chevrolet dealer albums and option lists was RPO C48. While most GM-philes are familiar with option C60, which was the standard air conditioning Regular Production Option in the muscle car era, C48 isn’t quite so common.
That’s because it signifies a heater delete system. Essentially, with this RPO, the factory left off the heater equipment and the buyer received a credit (which ranged anywhere from $30 and change to just under $100, depending upon the car). From a practical perspective, the heater delete system usually went into two different types of cars – those destined for extremely temperate climates and those destined for track duty.
Although the RPO shows up in some 1969 factory materials, few (if any) cars were likely ever built with the option since window defrost systems were government mandated a year before. Nonetheless, you’ll sometimes stumble across muscle cars (and even some not-so-muscle bound examples) from 1969 and earlier with heater delete systems. And this includes not only Chevrolets, but other brands as well. Typically, when a heater was deleted, that meant the complete heater box assembly was gone (on both the engine compartment and passenger compartment sides).
The ducting for the defroster wasn’t installed and the dash mounted controls weren’t included. Ditto, of course, for heater hoses and various water pump/intake manifold fittings. In place of all of these parts was a plate or a set of plates for the engine compartment along with another plate for the instrument panel. Believe it or not, the defrost duct openings in the dash top were (in the case of Chevys) simply taped over with basic covers from the backside (see the accompanying images taken from a 1969 Camaro Assembly Instruction Manual or “AIM”). Coolant fitting ports on the intake manifold and water pump were either plugged or capped off.
Obviously, if you lived in (for example), Hawaii or Guam and you had no need for a heater in your vintage Camaro, then the $30 or so you received as a credit was good news (keeping in mind something like a ’67 Camaro sport coupe had a base price of approximately $2,500, so the discount percentage was reasonable back then). But from a racing perspective, the weight savings were important – one could easily carve at least 15 to 20 pounds off a car with the systems).
Although the actual heater assembly might not sound that heavy, think about the accessory components used to support the heater: hoses, clamps, controls, ducts, and the coolant that flows through the system. The weight reduction from removing the heater and accessory components will probably exceed the 20-pound figure. Likely more critical was the simplicity factor. Given both a radio delete (more below) and a heater delete, under dash wiring was a whole bunch more accessible. On the engine compartment side, it meant engine bits were easier to work on too. And even more important, the lack of a heater speeded up access when swapping engines. That was important when time was a factor.
Radio delete systems were different than heater deletes, and the process was less involved. For most cars, in order to delete the radio, you simply didn’t order one. That meant the hole in the dash was blocked off, no antenna hole was punched in a fender and the engine had no radio interference ground straps.
There were definitely different approaches to radio delete systems. Case-in-point is the late build 1969 Nova that takes up residence in the writer’s garage. That particular car is an unmolested, documented radio delete car. There are no radio ground straps installed on the firewall (but holes were punched for them), the antenna hole isn’t punched in the fender and the dash has a plastic plate covering the radio receiver hole.
Several years ago, we had a 1971 Nova that was also a radio delete car. In that example though, someone had in the past chopped up the dash cluster for an aftermarket radio. To replace it, we scored another cluster from eBay. That cluster was a one-piece job and never molded to accept a radio. Many years ago, we also owned a very late production 1969 Camaro with a radio delete. That car used a bolt-on radio delete plate. We suspect there was a changeover somewhere in time where Chevy switched from dedicated no-radio clusters to simply blocking off the cluster with a plastic plate (or vice versa).
Two decades ago, we paid $1,500 for a pair of beat up original heater delete plates for a vintage Camaro project. The dash plate was supposed to be included, but the seller somehow forgot. We never received it. A radio delete plate was built of unobtanium (if memory serves us correctly, we paid close to $500 for a vintage wood grain Camaro delete plate). Today, you can find brand new delete plates (heater and radio) for a plethora of applications.
1 Set of engine compartment delete plates for first generation Camaros. They also happen to fit third-gen (1968-1974) Novas. As pointed out in the text, in the past we had a set of original GM engine compartment delete plates. These reproductions are exact duplicates (except these don’t require a colossal amount of body work).
2A & B Here’s the plastic heater control delete plate for the dash.
3A & B The cluster is out of our Nova, so we took the opportunity to show you how the heater delete plate is attached. It uses the same hardware as the factory heater controls. The second photo shows a close up of how the original radio delete plate was mounted.
4 This is a look at the front (face) side of the cluster with both the heater and radio delete plates installed. As you can well imagine, eliminating both the radio and the heater makes the space under the dash positively spartan. That’s why racers love delete systems.
5 On the firewall side, the flange originally punched in the firewall for the heater core will often have to be bent slightly to clear the delete plate. A couple of additional holes will have to be drilled (in factory terms, “pierced”). It’s spelled out in the factory Assembly Manuals.
6A & B It’s no big secret that behind the firewall (passenger compartment side), a jute backed insulator pad was installed on cars such as the Nova and Camaro. If you look closely at this reproduction pad you’ll see that the heater opening is punched out, but included. To install it on heater delete cars, you simply apply a bit of adhesive to the backside (between the pad and the delete plate). Keep in mind the balance of the pad is attached with a series of push-in plastic fasteners, which are also included.
7A, B & C Chevy laid out the installation of the heater deletes in both 1969 Nova (7A) and 1969 Camaro (7B and 7C) Assembly Instruction Manuals. If you look closely, you’ll see where a simple black cover was taped from the backside of the dash to block off the defroster ducts in the dash. Black tape was also used to cover up the square heater hose clamp hole in the passenger side inner fender as well as on a couple of locations on the firewall. Things were certainly a bunch simpler then!
Chevelle Radio Delete Panels
Chevelle Firewall Heater Delete Panel
Camaro Firewall Heater Delete Panel
Camaro Radio Bezels and Delete Panels
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The article featured on this page is from the March 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.
Handling a Big Fish
Better stopping and steering in a typical E-body
Story Tommy Lee Byrd
Whether you’re restoring or driving an old car, rubber bushing dry rot, bearings wear out and ball joints take a beating all their life, so there’s no escaping this aspect of old car ownership.
Rebuilding the suspension will certainly improve your car’s handling and general ride quality, and it can all be performed in your garage at home. Mopar relied heavily on torsion bar front suspension in the muscle car era, so you’ll be working with the same equipment, with most Mopar machines of the ’60s and ’70s. That doesn’t mean parts will interchange, but it’s the same basic layout.
You’ll need to find a source for restoration parts, which isn’t difficult with today’s long list of aftermarket vendors. Rather than picking through the individual parts, it’s usually easier to buy a complete rebuild, like Eric, the owner of this ’72 Barracuda did. He bought a disc brake conversion and front end bushing kit. The brakes come with brand new spindles, and it’s pre-assembled for super easy installation.
Parton also handled the installation of these parts, but it does require a few extra hands if you plan to remove the K-member. Parton went this route, as the K-member needed a few modifications to accommodate a Hemi engine. After bolting the modified K-member to the chassis, Parton spent a few hours installing piece after piece until the Barracuda was back on its wheels. Now that it’s complete, the Hemi can be installed and Layne can start having fun with this ’72 Barracuda, with added confidence, thanks to the fresh suspension and disc brakes.
1 Before the front suspension is disassembled, the engine bay is coated in degreaser and pressure-washed. It’s always nice to have a clean surface to work on, rather than fighting with grease and decades of road grime. Disassembling the front suspension was an easy chore for Johnny Parton, as he’s reworked a few Mopars over the years. With the K-member removed and everything out of the way, Parton can begin rebuilding each component. The loose undercoating can be scraped off and a wire brush will be used to clean the area as much as possible. It’s a good time to apply fresh paint or undercoating to the area.
2 When the Barracuda received its Lemon Twist paint job, the front portion of the chassis was treated to a few coats of black paint. Its regular black base coat, with two coats of clear, had a flattening agent mixed in for a semi-gloss look.
3 All of the suspension components were sandblasted, including the K-member. The upper control arms are now fit with new ball joints, which are screw-in units. Parton spot-welded these into place just to be safe.
4 The lower control arms are clean and ready for rebuilding. This is the most difficult part of the rebuild if the correct tools aren’t employed. The pivot shaft needs to be pressed out, as does the bushing and bushing shell.
5 With the new parts installed, it’s time to spend some time painting the pieces. Parton used semi-gloss black on the K-member and gunmetal on the control arms. Dupli-color Acrylic Enamel spray paint does the trick.
6 After the lower control arm bushings are installed and the pivot shaft is pressed into place, the lower control arm can be mounted to the K-member. Parton installs the strut rod bushings and leaves the retaining nut loose for now.
7 Now is the time for a few helping hands. The K-member is heavy and awkward to hold, so it’s a good idea to have someone on each side, while you get the bolts started. A jack can be used, but it’s not quite as steady. With an impact wrench, Parton tightens all of the K-member bolts. You may want to use a long breaker bar to tighten the bolts if your air compressor at home isn’t up to the task.
8 The strut rod nuts can now be tightened, so Parton used the impact wrench to take care of business in a quick manner. Attaching the torsion bar retaining nut was a team effort, but Parton tightened it and installed the cotter pin.
9 The discs come pre-assembled with a new spindle, so installation is super simple. The kit comes with the calipers and brake pads already in place, so it’s a matter of opening the box and bolting them up.
10 After hanging the new spindle and brake assembly on the lower control arm, Parton slides the upper control arm into place. With help from his brother, Parton attaches the spindle to the upper control arm. The lower ball joint is in place right out of the box, so he makes sure it’s tight and installs the supplied cotter pin.
11 The brake kit also comes with the rubber hoses, so Parton slides the clip onto the original tab, and attaches the hose to the hard lines. Then, he can tighten the fitting on the brake caliper to finish off the brakes. Parton can now install the shock absorbers and the sway bar. Parton puts the Barracuda on the lift to double check everything and make sure there’s no interference. To get the car back on its feet, Layne chose a set of 15-inch rallye wheels, which fit over the disc brakes perfectly.
12 The front suspension is finished and it’s great to see the car rolling on its new wheels. The new disc brakes and front suspension were all part of the car’s restoration, and we’re sure Layne is excited to go for a ride.
The article featured on this page is from the March 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.
Fun in Any Year (Part 3)
A hands-on approach to bringing back a C3 chassis.
Story Chris Petris
Images Stephanie Petris
Like any good wedding, preparation and planning makes our trepidation-filled day easier. Our planning started with installing our A/C, interior and exterior components.
Wiring for our radiator cooling fans, MSD ignition, etc. also made good sense with the engine and chassis out of the way. New aftermarket two-gauge battery cables will be installed after the body drop. Originally, we planned on installing the cables before the body was in place. Our concern was crimping the supplied terminals to the cables once they were installed.
Extenuating circumstances required us to fit the cables for length with the body installed. We would have to fit the battery cables then remove them for crimping. This is why it is important to plan the assembly as extra work is created from lack of or poor planning. Stepping back and thinking out the best plan of attack will ease the aggravation factor and possibly save dollars in the long run. Replacing the positive battery cable is no easy task on a completely assembled 1968-1982 Corvette. This information reminded us that we should attack the battery cable assembly and installation right after the body drop.
The Body Drop
We were ready to lower the body down onto the new rubber body mounts. Why use rubber body mounts not urethane? We wanted to avoid an even harsher ride from the already installed urethane suspension bushings. GM used four rubber body to chassis mounts with shims on each side to correct for any build differences. We usually try to record how many shims came out of each position and put the like amount in place.
This theory does not always work when corrosion has eaten up the shims or they are corroded into one big lump. Our situation was the original body mount bolts were loose (never tightened at all) from the original factory build. In fact, there was a rubber mount and bolt never installed, allowing the shims to fall out from the factory build. We would have to install shims as close to what we could determine was correct as a starting point. After the body is dropped we can add or remove the necessary shims.
The idea is to avoid body and front-end fiberglass stress while maintaining proper door gaps. We also need to look at the front fender to door gap when positioning the front bumper support. The front bumper support/crash bar is used to hold up the front fenders at the radiator core support area.
Once the body shims are installed, both doors should be checked for correct operation. When the doors are closed or opened, they should not drag or bind. This is where you should be looking at notes from the pre-disassembly phase of the project. If the doors worked fine before disassembly, they should now. We do not want to try and correct a poorly fitting door with shims if it fits poorly from worn hinges.
In our case, we had a good door fit on the passenger side with good tight door hinges. So we shimmed the body on the passenger side until the door opened and closed properly with good body fit lines. The driver door was another situation altogether; the door hinges were loose and the door was sagging from our pre-inspection.
Stocking up Shims
If you are working on a lift, drop the chassis down on the tires and roll it back and forth to settle the chassis. Do not try to use the body mount bolts to close a gap between the mount and chassis. Shims must be used to fill the gap or fiberglass structure damage can occur. Use the two line-up holes in the body sill plate area and chassis to align the body on the chassis. Use never-seize on the body mount bolts — who knows, you may be the one taking them out again one day.
We found that there was clearance for shims between the body mount and the two front chassis mounts. This was with the body sitting on the mount in front of the rear kick-up. We should use the mount in front of the rear kick-up as the starting point. Does the rear-most mount behind the rear wheel have shim clearance also? Any way you look at this situation, if the original body mount shims are not available for reference, you need to juggle things around until the correct combination is found. After the body mount shims are corrected, the mount bolts are installed and tightened.
Our final body mounting adjustment concerns the front end fiberglass. From the front of the doors forward, there is no rubber mounting used. The radiator core support has the inner fenders fastened to it. Front bumper supports have provisions for the radiator core support to sit on and be shimmed accordingly.
Over time, the front bumper support can drop, stressing the front end fiberglass. This is a really bad thing, as pressure is applied to the front fender bonding areas at the firewall. GM used a triangular-shaped fiberglass mount by adhesively bonding and riveting it to the upper firewall. The resulting stress from the mispositioned front bumper support loosens the triangular-shaped mount. The mount rivets loosen, allowing water to leak into the cockpit. It is common to see a wide gap at the upper front fender to door as the front bumper support slowly drops. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on how much gap there is between the upper front fender and door.
Once the body and chassis are shimmed properly, the tough part is over. We install the crash bumper hardware, then the urethane bumper covers. Once the major components are installed, we check the basic front and rear alignment. We want the vehicle weight to be close to maximum when adjusting any alignment components.
At the front end we are concerned with toe-in by measuring between the center of the tires front and rear. Somewhere around zero to an 1/8th of an inch toe is good. That means that the distance between the center of the tires is exactly the same, or the front of the tire is no more than 1/8-inch closer than at the rear of the tire.
At the rear suspension, we usually install the shims that adjust the toe-in with equal amounts on either side of the trailing arm bushings. The rear camber adjusting cams are adjusted to keep the wheels straight up and down. These adjustments will get you to the alignment shop without eating up your tires.
Finishing the Fitment
There are a lot of electrical connections to make next. The majority of connectors are proprietary to avoid incorrect connections. Be sure to connect the ground cable from the engine to the frame or risk damage to many metal cables or wiring. We have seen automatic transmission selector cables melted because they were used for engine grounding during starting. The ground load has to go somewhere if the ground cable is not connected.
Now on to the final underside pieces to install, like adjusting and aligning the exhaust system. Our shorty headers were installed before the body drop while we could easily access the engine. Now we can install our exhaust with the body in place to avoid floorboard to body interference.
Installing the steering column coupler and checking all the suspension/steering components for tightness should be next on the list. Brake hard lines can be connected and then the system bled. We try to finish each system individually to avoid leaving bolts or lines loose. We finalize the brake system by bleeding them to avoid a disaster. Fuel and coolant hoses should be connected before a final check of all systems.
Always check all fluids before making any attempt at starting the engine for the first time. Make sure that the automatic transmission selector cable is adjusted properly (if equipped) before starting. If, for instance, the selector cable is out of adjustment at the transmission, the engine will start and the transmission will be in reverse. This happens more often than you might believe. Worse yet, if the transmission is not full of fluid, when you add the final few quarts with the engine running, the transmission goes into reverse with you chasing the car.
Once the engine is running, top off the fluids and let the engine run until the thermostat opens and recheck the coolant level. Check the feel of the steering, is it tight? Does the brake pedal feel firm? What about the emergency brake; does it feel tight stopping after about 15 to 17 clicks on the ratchet locking mechanism? Try putting the transmission in gear; do you feel a bump going into reverse and drive? If the trans goes into gear OK, go back and forth between forward and reverse a few times. Go out and check the transmission fluid level and add if necessary. If you have a manual transmission, does the clutch feel correct with 1½ to 2 inches of free-play at the clutch pedal? If the free-play is correct, try putting the trans in gear and slowly letting the clutch out. Does it engage smoothly? Check the ground for any fluid spots. If not, we are very close to that first drive to test all our major work.
The Road Test
The first road test should be about checking the feel of the brakes and steering first. Take off easy and apply the brakes. There should be a full pedal, with plenty of stopping power. The steering should be tight with no major pull if you put the shims back close to where they were. If all goes well, the next trip will be to the alignment shop and then a Saturday night cruise.
No matter how careful you are, there will be a few minor glitches to take care of on the first few road trips. Don’t feel bad, as that is common when you do any major restoration like this. We make sure the owner understands that we will take their Corvette on a long road test to avoid as many surprises as possible. Once we have any minor issues resolved, they receive the car. This avoids any hard feelings after major service work is performed. The feeling of a properly restored, upgraded chassis is unforgettable and now, you can go out and enjoy!
1 Shorty headers are installed with Earl’s pressure master header seals. These header seals really work for 100,000 miles without blowout. Header bolts don’t require frequent tightening either.
2 We decided to reseal the A/C components while we had the chance. Our A/C plenum evaporator case assembly can be installed later, but it sure is easier when the chassis is out of the way.
3 This line-up tool is used to align the chassis to the body on the passenger side sill. There is another line-up hole in the body and chassis on the driver side at the front of the door sill. Both line-up holes in the body have red plastic plugs in them.
4 The body mount rubber cushion and bolt is installed now that the chassis and body have been aligned. We tighten the bolts after all the cushions and bolts are installed and threaded at least three or four turns.
5 Now we can put all the bumper crash pieces in place using new hardware. We disassembled all the rear bumper impact components to clean and paint them. This is where a photo can be very helpful with the multiple pieces involved.
6 Almost looks like a complete Corvette again. The rear bumper cover is installed and adjusted to fit the body lines.
7 The underside has the positive battery cable installed after removing it for checking length. You can see how tight this area is. The sooner this cable is installed, the better.
8 We used an aftermarket crossmember for our 700R4 overdrive transmission upgrade. It is necessary to move the emergency brake pulley to avoid driveshaft contact.
9 The crossmember is really helpful in many ways, allowing ample room for just about any exhaust system we choose. We used stainless steel fuel and brake lines for long life. Using stainless steel will also prevent fuel line internal corrosion from the ethanol in the fuels we have in use today.
10 We wanted to be able to shift our overdrive transmission into first gear, so we replaced our original detent on the shifter.
11 Our new electric cooling fans will be powered at the starter using a fuse link for protection. Once we fit all the wires, they will be covered with black plastic wire loom. The shorty headers allow plenty of clearance around the starter, keeping heat away.
12 We’re ready to install our rear exhaust hangers on the Magnaflow mufflers. We decided to use a complete 2½-inch diameter exhaust system from headers to mufflers for easy installation.
13 The radiator, shroud and cooling fans are a complete unit and like the exhaust, drops in place of the original pieces. Our new Blueprint engine will be adequately cooled with this assembly even when the A/C is on in the hot summer months.
14 For our ride to the alignment shop, we are installing equal amounts of shim at the trailing arm. Don’t forget to install at least enough shims to keep the trailing arm from moving side to side. You’ll have the scariest ride of your life when you accelerate and let off the throttle if you don’t.
15 Chip Foose wheels allow plenty of room for the upgrade to Wilwood calipers and drilled rotors. Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires will make a smooth high speed ride when we are cruising in overdrive.
16 We were hoping to wrap up our project but we encountered this previous accident damage. All the front fender reinforcements were loose. Some were completely broken loose, like this one. We used 3M product 8115 to bond all the reinforcements then we’ll smooth it off for painting around the edges.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The article featured on this page is from the March 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.
Your Basic Carbs
Steps to rebuilding or repairing a carburetor
Story Earl Duty
I’ve been rebuilding and repairing carburetors since 1964 and over the years I’ve been asked (by numerous car folks) one simple question; “Can the average car guy rebuild a carburetor at home?” The answer — in most cases — yes. Note I said in most cases.
Just as there are many variations to the term restoration, there’s any number of variables to carburetor repairs. Let’s start with a simple question. Does your carbureted vehicle have a hesitation on acceleration — poor engine idle, backfiring through the carburetor (especially on hard acceleration), or poor fuel mileage? Then the following information will give you the basics of rebuilding a carburetor, where cleaning of the unit and the installation of a minor carb kit should more than likely cure those problems.
Can I cover all carburetors and their associated gremlins in the span of one story? Of course not – one story cannot cover every carburetor. But if your carburetor has the normal age related woes, then this info should get you up and running again. First of all – and I can’t stress this enough – how’s your memory? Installing a rebuild kit in any carburetor requires that somehow you remember where all the parts and tiny pieces go. A little brain-fade on your part maybe, then pull out the digital camera (or a note pad) and document the process from the very beginning.
During this carburetor basics story, I’m going to use any given number of different carburetors for demonstration purposes. And in all my years of rebuilding these air/fuel dispensers, I’ve learned one thing: A carburetor, is a carburetor, is a carburetor. They all work on the same principle, they’re just physically different.
Visually inspect the unit. Do you see any broken parts such as linkage, the choke system or throttle shaft? Is the throttle shaft binding? If so, stop right there and find a company that offers carburetor overhauls and/or rebuilt units. Check throughout your current issue for vendors. If you find nothing broken or binding on the carburetor and your vehicle simply runs bad (due to the aforementioned carburetor symptoms) then in most cases a minor rebuild will fix the problems.
Tools you’ll need
Basic hand tools, wrenches, screwdrivers, compressed air (nice to have, but optional), ratchet and sockets plus a metal parts cleaning pan are needed. Caution: have proper ventilation, wear eye protection and use chemical resistant gloves when using compressed air or any cleaning chemical.
Due to the fact most carburetors have a gum and varnish buildup on the interior and exterior, spray cans of carburetor and/or choke cleaner work well for cleaning the parts (most carburetors require two 16-ounce cans). I’ve found that brake cleaner in aerosol cans not only cleans well, it evaporates quickly.
Need parts? Rebuild kit, choke spring, floats, etc.? Throughout this magazine you’ll find vendors offering parts for your project. Tip: have those parts ordered in the early stages of disassembly.
Start by removing all upper bowl cover screws and attaching linkage. Be sure to record or document their locations for reinstallation. Remove the float and test. After the float has been tested, locate the carb ID numbers and order parts; they can be either on a tag attached to the unit, stamped on the bowl cover, or stamped in the base (where the throttle shaft is located). If all else fails (no tag, no numbers visible, etc.), when ordering the repair parts, have available the year, make, model and engine size of the vehicle.
If the float checks out OK, or you have a replacement, continue with the teardown by removing the lower base-to-bowl screws (if equipped) and record their locations. Remove any rubber parts from the carburetor. With everything disassembled from the carburetor and neatly laid out on the workbench, you’re ready for clean up.
Place each separate component of the carburetor in the metal drain pan and using proper eye protection, spray with carb cleaner until gum, varnish, and dirt are removed. Again, using proper eye protection and compressed air, blow out any and all orifices.
When a carb main jet is impossible to remove or in the absence of compressed air, I use the supplied nozzle extension that comes with the aerosol can of carburetor cleaner to remove gum, varnish, and debris. Caution: proper eye and skin protection is mandatory due to the fact this chemical (under pressure) can blow back into your eyes and/or onto exposed skin! I have also used a small piece of stiff wire to verify clean passages.
Make sure to match new gaskets with the old originals to guarantee exact fit. The proper float level is critical to any carburetor, so follow directions supplied with the rebuild kit. It’s also a good idea to soak any new leather accelerator pump in gasoline just prior to installation.
I personally like to paint a carburetor purely for the aesthetics. Also, when painting any carburetor parts it’s extremely important to have those parts spotless and the metal warm to the touch (not hot). A light coat is all that’s necessary. A good way to warm the metal is with a hair dryer. The color I use for factory aluminum look is “Duplicolor Aluminum,” part # DE 1615. The gold paint I use is “Duplicolor Instant Gold” and to paint a cast iron carb base is “Duplicolor Cast Coat Iron.” The linkage and retaining screws get painted with “GM Duplicolor Light Gray EDSGM435.” These paints can be purchased at most well-stocked auto parts stores.
Before you reconnect the fuel line, clean out the line with compressed air (or spray carb cleaner) and install an in-line fuel filter. What’s the point of going through all this and then re-introducing dirt back into the carburetor? Will the basics I’ve listed solve any and all carburetor problems? No. But at the very least, it’s a good starting point. If for any reason you have apprehensions about taking on a carburetor rebuild, don’t start it. Purchase a rebuilt unit from one of the many suppliers located throughout this magazine.
1 A carburetor with miles and time on it will typically have a gum and varnish buildup (inside and outside).
2 In a perfect world carburetor ID numbers will be clearly stamped on the carburetor base, on a tag, or top cover.
3 If you hear a sloshing sound by shaking a brass float close to your ear it’s defective and needs replaced. Note the gas being squeezed out of this float.
4 If you want to double-check a brass float, submerge it in hot tap water (held by needle nose pliers) and watch for air bubbles.
5 In any given number of carb rebuilds, I’ve used small stiff wire to clean jets and passages.
6 Using the supplied spray nozzle extension on an aerosol can of carb/choke cleaner can extract dirt and debris.Caution:proper eye and skin protection is mandatory due to the fact this chemical (under pressure) can blow back into your eyes and/or onto exposed skin!
7 After installing a new float there will be instructions and data in your rebuild kit for resetting the float level and drop. This is critical to any carburetor.
8 If bowl plugs are removed for any reason, Teflon tape (or paste) can be used to seal the threads from fuel seepage.
9 This image shows a stiff wire can be inserted through a main jet for cleaning (via a removable bowl plug) and how it will exit through the venturi area.
10 With everything disassembled and laid out on a workbench, parts cleaning is next.
11 Any new leather accelerator pump should be soaked in gasoline prior to installation.
12 Age related grit and grime will work its way into every orifice of the carburetor.
13 Any good carburetor rebuild kit will supply necessary parts, exploded view of the carburetor, and technical data for adjustments.
Testing a Float
For brass floats, I use a combination of two different procedures. I hold the float close to my ear and shake it back and forth; if I hear a sloshing sound, it’s bad. I find a replacement. If I hear no sloshing sounds, I then hold the float with a pair of needle nose pliers (by the metal arm) and submerge it in a container of hot water. If the float is defective, air bubbles will rise to the surface. Again, I find a new replacement. Check the float/floats at the beginning. Don’t waste your money trying to repair a carburetor with a bad float. Also, certain floats can be next to impossible to find. No float available? Search for a rebuilt carburetor.
To test a fiber or plastic float — they must be weighed and compared to the weight of a new one. I use a postage meter for weight comparison. And, don’t let anyone tell you that a fiber float can’t soak up fuel and become overweight. As a rule of thumb, I replace all fiber floats for any carburetor rebuild where they’re used.
The article featured on this page is from the February 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.
A hands-on approach to bringing back a C3 Corvette chassis.
Story Chris Petris
Images Stephanie Petris
We left off last month with a ’77 Corvette in multiple pieces that needed attention. The daunting task ahead is to prep, paint and assemble all the pieces that are back from the sand blaster.
We could have possibly saved a few bucks by wire brushing, sanding or scrubbing on all of the steel/iron pieces. The problem is, time IS money. Even those of us who believe the adage “I’ve got more time than money” can spend more money than they realize. We call them consumables in the business. Items like sanding discs, wire brushes and blasting sand for instance, have a limited life span. We would require plenty of consumables to get even close to the raw finish the sandblasting provided. Then consider this, squeezing air into a tank costs more than you typically think in electricity and compressor wear. If you have ever had the pleasure of sandblasting many pieces of iron during a hot summer day you realize the value of this service. Professional sandblasting companies use proven equipment that takes hours compared to days, if not weeks, that it would take us to do the same work. Certainly there are good sandblasters available for home or occasional shop use, the key word being occasional.
While the parts were away, we still had plenty of small pieces to prep for reassembly with our small bead blast cabinet. For the most part, there were no surprises when we inspected the sandblasted pieces, just some tape to remove and plenty of washing. To backtrack a bit, we used a good quality duct tape to cover any area that we didn’t want to be blasted. We wrap the machined surfaces of all chassis components a few times to keep the grit off of them. Another thing that we do is remove any oily sludge off of the pieces before blasting to prevent oil contamination on the raw metal pieces.
Momentum is Building
Once the parts are inspected, the cleaning begins with a thorough washing using a citrus-based cleaner to remove any blasting media. This is the most effective way to assure no blasting media is left behind to mix with any of our fresh lubricants. We have to work fast as the citrus-based cleaner and water rinse causes an immediate rust haze to form on our blasted pieces. We clean a piece and then apply Ospho or metal treatment to eliminate the haze and prevent further rust formation. We are careful to use Nitryl gloves for two reasons: skin protection and keep the oils in our skin from contaminating the prepped pieces. One of the worst possible scenarios is to let the blasted pieces get wet or leave them unprotected for a long period of time. All the hard work of blasting is for naught, more work will be required and the raw surfaces can be damaged extensively.
The chassis itself takes a while to prep, so plan on spending the day alone on the frame to make sure you can do all the cleaning and metal prep before you call it a day. We spent three long, hard days prepping all the pieces and the frame for painting. The prepped pieces were hung in our impromptu temporary spray booth to keep them dry and dust-free as possible. We applied our first coat of urethane primer to seal all of our steel/iron pieces. Zinc chromate primer was applied to the few aluminum pieces to assure that our topcoat would adhere well. The majority of pieces received a two-part urethane black top coat. Cast iron coat was applied to all the cast pieces to give some contrast.
When you are into a major project like this there are many choices to make, including which suspension bushings make sense. Rubber bushings work well for many years without any squeaking or groaning. Rubber deteriorates over time and allows flexing of the suspension components. Urethane bushings are durable, providing tight suspension control. Rubber bushings twist their rubber material for suspension component movement while urethane bushings act more like a bearing. The urethane bushing has freedom of movement throughout the entire range of suspension travel. The downside is, urethane bushings ride harsher and make some noise depending on the weather. We considered all the factors, deciding on urethane suspension bushings with rubber body mount cushions. This combination allows a tight suspension feel with smooth ride. We also had to consider the differential mount cushion material. Knowing that there would be no hard-core racing in the ’77’s future, rubber made more sense to mount the diff. Using urethane differential mount bushings would remind us every time we put the transmission in gear with a noticeable bump.
Instead of bolting the upper and lower ball joints in place, we used rivets from Zip Products to secure them. GM has used rivets in many areas of Corvette assembly over the years and this was one of the few rivet bucking tools we didn’t have. The rivet back-up tool we purchased holds the rivet in place while our air hammer peens the ball joint rivets.
Now that the pieces are arriving, we can move ahead with assembly after prepping all the threaded holes. Chasing all the threaded holes with thread taps eases assembly allowing proper tightening. After cleaning all the threaded holes in the frame and components they were washed carefully and oiled.
After three days at the assembly bench, we had the trailing arms, axle shafts and differential ready for installation. We installed all of our urethane bushings in the suspension components. This approach to sub-assembling components before installation makes it easier to assure correct assembly. Working at the workbench with pieces in your face so to speak lets us see each piece clearly and how well they fit. Once the sub-assemblies are completed the frame assembly goes quickly, making the project a little easier mentally. Planning is the key, however you approach the project.
We decided to start hanging the front suspension assembly on our chassis. We replaced the upper and lower control arm hardware with correct pieces from ZIP Products. Bolt and nut fatigue is inevitable after 33 years. Why chance the most important fasteners on the chassis? While we’re on the subject of fasteners, when corroded rusty bolts or nuts are cleaned with harsh cleaners or blasted, they will corrode very soon afterward. Original equipment bolts and nuts have various coatings to prevent corrosion. There are a few ways to preserve the factory finish. Brass brushes typically don’t remove the coatings. Mineral spirits and bristle brushes also are kind to the bolt coatings. The other approach is to apply a coating to the squeaky clean fasteners. When we have fasteners that are difficult or almost impossible to find, we apply paint to seal the surfaces. The paint is applied after installation and torquing is completed.
Our next task is to hang all of our sub-assemblies on the rear of the chassis. We used stainless steel fasteners for the trailing arms to avoid the same difficulties we had removing the original steel bolts. Another trick or tip is to apply grease to the bolt shank where it goes into a component. The grease keeps corrosion from forming and allows easier removal in the future. Once the suspension was installed, the new stainless steel fuel and brake lines were secured using new clips and fasteners. We decided to increase the original quarter-inch fuel return line to five-sixteenths just in case fuel injection is in any future plans; much easier to make the fuel line change now than wait until the body is in place on the chassis.
The ’77’s owner mentioned that his Foose wheels were wide open and he really didn’t want the factory iron calipers showing through them. The caliper change was understandable. Wilwood was the owner’s choice and how could we disagree? Wilwood calipers not only look great, they would enhance the brake system. Their 6.3-pound aluminum calipers front and rear keep a few pounds off the spindles. Wilwood kept the caliper piston diameters at the GM spec to assure pedal feel and travel would feel the same and, the stainless steel caliper pistons will keep them trouble-free for years to come.
While we waited for the calipers and disc pads to arrive, we set the engine in place, coupled to a fresh 700R4 O/D transmission. Routing large diameter exhaust pipes through the crossmember exhaust opening, then past the 700R4’s pan is quite difficult.
Edelbrock carburetors have never been factory installed with a 700R4 transmission. We would have to do the trial and error method. This can be death to a good transmission and any TV issues can cause poor shifting and clutch failure.
The body will be ready for installation after some items are attended to on the firewall and underside of the body. One other thing we certainly did not want to forget was to install the positive battery cable in the trans tunnel. We’re installing an upgraded Taylor battery cable kit that requires custom fitting. The custom cable fitting may require us to remove and install the cable a few times to get the correct length. Battery cable removal is much easier with the body separated from the chassis. Before we drop the body the A/C firewall pieces will be restored. The owner removed the A/C evaporator and plenum leaving us a clean firewall ready for installation of restored pieces. After we restore the A/C pieces they will be installed and the body is ready for installation.
The owner certainly put plenty of hard work into the engine compartment and underside of the body. This saved the owner dollars out of their wallet, but as we said earlier, you have to consider the time and effort you put into the project. The entire engine compartment was cleaned, primed and painted the eventual exterior color. Under the car, the same hard work was performed by the owner cleaning and prepping for urethane truck bed liner spraying. Using the bed liner as sealer and protection makes sense. Before the bed liner could be applied, the owner reinforced the floor with a coat of fiberglass mat and resin. There were no major corrosion perforations, just some small holes here and there. Applying fiberglass to the area made the structure solid and ready for the bed liner, which was applied inside and underside to completely seal the floor pan. Rocks and stones typically won’t harm the bed liner, keeping the floor pan in great shape for years to come.
The body will be installed in the following weeks and the wrap-up of all the necessary connections will be completed. Still plenty of things to think about and keep on track, making sure we have all the final pieces we need. Our planning has paid off and we’ve been careful to keep the owner aware of costs and expectations.
So far we have held to our numbers well and expect to come out close to our budget. The extra dollars spent on pieces were all upgrades, while labor costs have been close to what we planned. We did have an issue with our sandblaster with some extra charges. As we explained earlier, it’s a tough job. When you realize one of us would have to clean the pieces it makes the up-charge easier to swallow. The ’77 will be new in the respect of the drivetrain and upgraded at less than half the cost of a new base Corvette.
1 Our air powered die grinder does the hard work cleaning the U-joint cup bores. This takes practice. We remove just the paint and corrosion to avoid loose U-joint cups.
2 Urethane bushings make assembly so much easier. We are sliding the bushing out of the housing. The bushing sleeve that rides on the control arm is pushed out first using a socket to ease it out. Make sure the socket is a smaller diameter than the bushing or it will become wedged in the bushing.
3 We use a shop-built support that fits tightly between the control arm bushing mount areas to allow press installation of the bushing housing. The support fits closely to the control arm shaft as the housing is pressed into place. Do not forget to install the shaft before installing the bushing housings.
4 Like we said earlier, we easily push the bushing in after lubing it with Energy Suspension supplied grease. The bushing sleeve is next after a liberal coating of the specialty lubricant.
5 The anvil that the rivet presses against bolts to one of the lower control arm bumper mounting holes. Our air powered hammer with a rivet press chisel easily peens the rivet into place. No chance of bolts coming loose.
6 We always replace the control arm bushing retaining hardware with Grade 8 fasteners, which GM used. Then we apply Loc-Tite and torque to factory specs to avoid a major incident. If the control arm bolt backs off and comes out, the control arm can come off the control arm shaft.
7 One of our upper control arm to chassis bolts was bent and the others would spin in the chassis. This means the alignment guy would be very aggravated at alignment time. You can just barely get on to the bolt head to hold it if a shim change is required. We spot welded our new Grade 8 hardware in place to stop the spinning.
8 We are ready to start assembling the rear suspension and driveline components. The first step is to clean all the threads to allow proper bolt torque. Thread cutting lube should be applied to prevent galling the threads as you clean them.
9 Even our shock bolts receive attention from the torque wrench. Make sure the shock bolts are installed from the outside of the chassis. If the bolts are installed from the inside, the body will not allow bolt removal once it is in place. The torque wrench is on the nut of the fastener in this photo.
10 The trailing arm bushings require shims to give them a slight tension. Be careful! You have one chance to get the shimming correct. The washer is locked in place with the tool provided in the kit.
11 This is why you might want to consider having a professional do the trailing arm bushing set-up. The tool pictured allows us to check for proper bearing clearances without pressing the bearing in and out repeatedly.
12 Our bearing packer, with fresh synthetic chassis grease, forces the grease into the rollers. This is what you want to see, the grease coming out between the rollers not smeared on the outside of the rollers.
13 Light oil is applied to the bolt threads to prevent corrosion and assure proper tightening. Longer bolts with shanks passing through chassis components are coated with grease to prevent corrosion.
14 Once the bolts are installed, the bolt head is cleaned and a coat of the appropriate color paint is applied. The paint prevents corrosion forming on the bolt and eventually causing rust streaks.
15 We use a piece of exhaust pipe that fits the cap and catches the edges for the installation. Or, we could hammer on the new dust caps, denting them all over.
16 These are the pieces required for a true restoration of the steering box. Replacing all the wear items assures a tight feel without rough spots. All of our steering boxes are refilled with 75-90 synthetic lube for smooth, long-lasting steering control.
17 Now that’s a good looking set of calipers! The Wilwood front and rear caliper kits are direct bolt-on with all the necessary attaching hardware. Goodbye heavy iron calipers!
18 This temporary shelter is a lifesaver. The pieces can be painted and then left to dry for as long as necessary. Our shop floor is clear of the pieces, allowing us more working room without worrying about paint damage until we need a specific piece.