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Fordolet Stumbles… Recovers!

3 Mar

Had a couple of small glitches show up with the engine. When I tore it down, I did what I thought was a careful visual inspection of the pushrods, and they looked good. I checked that none were bent, and the lengths were all fine.

Then, rechecking them prior to installation, I found that one rod-end showed some slight galling, which I had missed. So I had to order a new set. They finally came in, and I started putting stuff together.

My ring compression tool chose that day to come apart, so I had to wait to get a new one, as installing the pistons without one would be….impossible.

When that arrived, I started again, and after I got them all in and started torqueing them, found that the engine wouldn’t turn over by hand nearly as easily as it should. So out came all the pistons, for a good ring inspection, and I found a problem with one oil scraper expansion ring. I was able to trim that, fortunately, ’cause we had no desire to pay another $135 for a new ring set, and nobody sells them individually.

She went together fine then, and turned over nicely. Got everything torqued to specs, and continued working on minor stuff, while waiting for the new polished Weiand Street Warrior intake manifold to arrive, along with the Edelbrock cast aluminum valve covers and some trim chrome.

Originally, I was going to go with the black powder-coated Edelbrock Performer, but they didn’t have the one we wanted in black, so it was the Weiand. It should look pretty good under the 650 Edlebrock Thunder AVS carburetor, and between the Edelbrock valve covers, though.

That stuff arrived today, so Sunday, we can make a little more progress on the power plant. (click to enlarge)


Distributor and water pump

Alternator ready for chrome kit

350 cid engine build

Gerardo putting together the starter

More next Sunday, folks. She’s gonna look almost as good as she runs!

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The Project: ’54 F-100 with a Chevy 350, Built!

10 Feb

I’ve been promising to post some pics of the ’54 Ford pickup I’m helping my brother-in-law build, so here ya are… the 1954 Fordolet! (click to enlarge photos)

As purchased

Love at first sight!

1954 F-100

Could use a little work

We didn’t take a bunch of photos before the tear-down, unfortunately. Let’s just say that the chassis is about a mile away, and the body panels are about 15 miles beyond that. The drive train ain’t leavin’ my sight, though!

When we got the truck, it had a 351 Cleveland with a C6 tranny in it. But the 351 didn’t give me the options I wanted, so we unloaded that, and went instead for a 350 4-bolt main that we took out of a motor home, complete with the 400 tranny. When I tore the engine down, I was VERY pleased to find it almost new. It literally looked to be barely broken in!

After a few days hunkered over the computer, shopping parts, I started slapping her back together.

350 cid 4-bolt main

First, some paint work

350 cid 4-bolt main

Posing for posterity

Of course, I had to check out the 400 transmission, too. Again, we struck paydirt…. like new! So a clean-up and some paint seemed to be in order.

400 transmission after cleaning and paint

Looks a little better now

And this is where we work all this magic…

The workbench

Gets a little crowded at times

The chassis is being sandblasted and primed, and when we get it back, we’ll be chopping the front end out and replacing it with a Volare front end, for the disc brake and power steering mod. Then we’ll set the engine and transmission in place, and weld up the new mounts and various brackets. Pull the engine back out, paint the chassis, and back in they’ll go!

The body is going to take the longest, as we’re chopping the cab down about 4-1/2 inches, customizing the bed, shaving the doors, and installing a front-tilt hood mechanism. We’re having that done outside, though, as it’s not our “area of expertise”. When all the body work is done, it’ll be time for paint.

My BIL is having second thoughts about paint, now. Originally, we were going to go with flat black, accented by black chrome. Now he’s re-thinking that, and may go with a two-tone paint job and conventional chrome.

I don’t really care, as I’m more interested in performance than appearance. ‘Sides, I’m not the one that has to drive it.

More pics to come, as the work progresses.

Change of Plans

22 Jan

If you caught this September post, then you’ll understand why I’m a little frustrated. Originally, we intended to build a 351 Cleveland to power my brother in law’s ’54 Ford pickup we’re restoring. I checked out the block and determined that it needed to be milled .030″ over. I started ordering the parts, and when I got to the pistons, I hit a wall.

There are some VERY mild pistons available in the standard bore. But virtually anything more than .010″ over was not to be found. I could have milled .015″ over and used some custom rings, but for a high performance engine, that’s not a good idea. Besides, I couldn’t find any that would give me more than 9.5:1 compression ratio. I was thinking more of something like 11.5 to 12.0:1.

I did find two shops that custom forge pistons, and figured there was a chance they’d already have the tooling to build what I needed, to keep the cost down.

Both have gone out of business.

So, back to the drawing board! I decided to look at either a 302 cid Ford or a 350 cid Chevy. I didn’t like the options available to me with the 302, and I know the 350 has a boatload of options, so we did a little shopping and last week, we pulled a 4-bolt 350 out of a motorhome, along with a 400 automatic transmission and the drive train.

Wednesday, I tore the engine down and mic’d it, and found it was like new… less than .003 wear anywhere. We returned the 351 parts, and reordered new parts, which arrived yesterday. So here’s the plan:

  • 11.88:1 domed pistons to match the 64cc heads
  • stock crankshaft
  • 280 degree, .480/.480 Comp camshaft
  • conversion of timing to gear-drive versus chain
  • Edelbrock Performer int. manifold #27013
  • Edelbrock Thunder AVS 650 cfm carburetor, man. choke, # 18054, ball burnished
  • Engine and heads to be canary yellow
  • Int. manifold, valve covers, air cleaner and timing cover to be black powder coat with hi-polish alum. accents
  • Custom billet pullies and mounts, converted to serpentine system
  • Hi-volume oil pump

The truck is being painted flat black, and all chrome is being converted to black chrome. Haven’t decided on the rear end gearing yet. Shaving the doors, converting the hood to a front-tilt, and converted the front suspension to the front end off a Volare for power steering. I’m going to open up the transmission to see how it looks next week. I really hope it’s solid, because I HATE rebuilding auto trannies!

I figure that’ll keep us busy for a few weeks, at least. 😉

351 Cleveland Build-out Should be Fun

27 Sep

My brother-in-law bought himself a little project the other day, and has enlisted my help in restoring it. It’s a ’54 Ford F-100 stepside pick-up, which is really in pretty good condition. It’s been stored inside, has very little rust, and the body is intact.

A bonus… at some point, someone had dropped a 351 Cleveland into it, which will be my part. We still haven’t decided whether we’ll use that, or opt for a more economical small-block 302, and sell the 351. If so, I’ll probably go ahead and rebuild it anyway, just ’cause! I figure if he decides to sell the 351, we can get enough for it to pay for the 302 block and a good chunk of what he paid for the truck, too.

And then, I’ll get to build the 302, too! I’ve never done a small-block Ford V8, and the 302 offers a lot of options. If I can talk him into getting rid of the semi-automatic transmission that came with the truck, then I’ll grab a 4 spd. standard and beef it up a little. Should be a fun few weeks.

The even better part… I’ll be doin’ the part I like, while he’s stuck with all the welding, grinding and sanding on the chassis. We’ve already picked up a Mustang II chassis, and will be integrating that front end into the ’54, once I get the jig built.

And the very best part of all… we’ll be doing the job at his place, so HE can listen to HIS wife bellyache about the dirt, noise and clutter for the next few months, instead of ME having to put up with it.

Hoo-boy! I don’t think the poor guy has a CLUE about how much he’s gonna suffer for this! Been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it!

I intend to take a lot of before-during-after shots, and will be posting them now & then. Especially some choice pics of his wife raising hell about it.

Ah…. life is good!

If Life Gives You a Lemon…. REBUILD it!

25 May

Several years back, I bought a Mitsubishi Galant in an auction. It had been a company car, so although it hadn’t been treated very well, it had at least been maintained. After making the winning bid, I paid, and headed down the road for home.

I made it nearly ten miles before coasting to a stop on the shoulder. The engine was fine, but the transmission had ceased to transmit. A tow truck and $150 later, I had it dropped off at the most reputable transmission shop in Long Beach, CA, where they relieved me of another $1,250 for a complete rebuild of the transmission.

Two weeks after the one year warranty expired, the Galant once again coasted to the side of the road, and I once again had it towed to the same trans. shop. The owner admitted that it by no means should have failed again, and expired warranty or not, they would fix it, charging me only for “hard parts”. THAT little exercise cost me $750!

Eleven months later, almost to the day, she again (note the gender assigned… need I explain why?) settled on the shoulder, and this time I had it towed home. Yep… transmission again! That time, I decided I would do the job myself. I had rebuilt automatic trannies before, but usually avoided them, for a major PITA. I paid $75 for a Chilton’s Shop Manual, so that I could do the tear-down and build a parts list, and found 165 pages of exploded view! The transmission had more than a 150 hydraulic control valves, and 365 check valves! Instead of the normal wet-disc transmission style that had served man so well, for so long, Mitsubishi had decided instead to outfit the ’75 and ’76 Galant with a cup-clutch style transmission, such as is common in forklifts. Another effort to exact revenge for a couple of mushroom-shaped clouds, no doubt!

As long as I was rebuilding the transmission, I decided to rebuild the engine at the same time. That, at least, was something I had more experience in! When I got into it, I found that the overhead cam journals were on the verge of wiping, showing evidence of little to no lubrication. Again, the Japanese mega-company had decided that lubrication was of no great consequence, so they had eliminated the journals from the force-fed oil flow, and allowed for gravity feed from the head, through passages around the size of a #2 hypodermic. For those of you not in the medical field, that’s really freakin’ SMALL! I managed to find a retrofit kit at CarQuest to restore pressurized oil flow, and finished my rebuild.

Finally, after three months, $1,730 and a LOT of empty beer cans, I finished the job, drove my smooth running Galant to the nearest Ace Hardware, and bought a FOR SALE sign for the back window! I figured I only had limited time before the transmission underwent its regularly scheduled breakdown, and I was determined to unload that lemon before it happened again!

A young fella knocked on my door one day, expressing interest, and after careful consideration, and a good bit of negotiation, we settled on a trade. I got his ’67 Chevy pickup and $700, and he got a headache, looking for someone to infect!

Interesting to note… in 1977, Mitsubishi decided to return to a more conventional design for their Galant transmission. I have no idea if they ever decided to lubricate the camshaft.

Several years back, I bought a Mitsubishi Galant in an auction. It had been a company car, so although it hadn’t been treated very well, it had at least been maintained. After making the winning bid, I paid, and headed down the road for home.

Made it nearly ten miles before coasting to a stop on the shoulder. The engine was fine, but the transmission had ceased to transmit. A tow truck and $150 later, I had it dropped off at the most reputable transmission shop in Long Beach, CA, where they relieved me of another $1,250 for a complete rebuild of the transmission.
Two weeks after the one year warranty expired, the Galant once again coasted to the side of the road, and I once again had it towed to the same trans. shop. The owner admitted that it by no means should have failed again, and expired warranty or not, they would fix it, charging me only for “hard parts”. THAT little exercise cost me $750!
Eleven months later, almost to the day, she again (note the assigned… need I explain why?) settled on the shoulder, and this time I had it towed home. Yep… transmission again! That time, I decided I would do the job myself. I had rebuilt automatic trannies before, but usually avoided them, for a major PITA. I paid $75 for a Chilton’s Shop Manual, so that I could do the tear-down and build a parts list, and found 165 pages of exploded view! The transmission had more than a 150 hydraulic control valves, and 365 check valves! Instead of the normal wet-disc transmission style that had served man so well, for so long, Mitsubishi had decided instead to outfit the ’75 and ’76 Galant with a cup-clutch style transmission, such as is common in forklifts. Another effort to exact revenge for a couple of mushroom-shaped clouds, no doubt!
As long as I was rebuilding the transmission, I decided to rebuild the engine at the same time. That, at least, was something I had more experience in!