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!


The Fordolet Project Continues

13 Feb

Did the heads today… lapped in the valves, new double springs, to match the 280 degree, .480/.480 cam.  In a couple of days, I’ll go back over and finish putting in the crank, camshaft, pistons and timing gears. Had a couple of distractions today, so didn’t get as far along as I had hoped.

Found out the body work is all done on the cab and bed. Chassis should be done by next weekend, and I want to have the engine ready to mount, so I can lay out the mounting modifications. Who’d a thought that Ford didn’t allow for mounting a Chevy engine in their trucks, eh?

(Click to enlarge, but be warned, they’re large files)


'54 F-100 chassis

The chassis before chopping it to add the new front end

We want to close up the C-channel frame with some stainless sheet metal before painting it. Makes for nice clean runs for wiring and brake lines.

Heads like new

Heads are ready to go!

I had hoped to finish the heads, and install the pistons, crank and cam today.  Just wasn’t to be, I guess. Ah well…. it’ll still be there tomorrow!

Cleaning a piston

Taking a "break" to clean up a piston for a custom ashtray

Not much of a break, but once I get started, I like to keep on… getting back up to speed ain’t as easy as it used to be!

351 Cleveland

This is the 351 Cleveland we pulled out of the truck

The 351 ended up at the dump, as we couldn’t find anyone interested in it, and it was taking up too much space. Pity! A great engine.

'54 F-100 bed

How the bed looked when bought

As you can see, the bed was pretty rough. When we’re finished, it’ll be red oak, with polished stainless, boltless deck runners. The tailgate will have invisible latches, instead of the stock chains and hooks.


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. 😉

Fishing the Gulf, Australia (as I recall it)

19 Dec

Here’s another guest post by my good friend, Pat Davis. He does paint a pretty good picture with words, for an Internet entrepreneur!



We arrived at the High bank for a few days fishing. This was back around 1972 on memory. It must have been around that year because Jacky, My brother, Bob’s eldest, was about 6 or seven and her younger brothers were still pretty small.
Shark's fin

Bob was stood on the bank surveying the murky waves lapping at the base of the bank wearing his usual bush attire, a pair of shorts. On memory I’d say it was another couple of hours before low tide.

There was a large splash in the water and Bob took one step closer to the edge of the bank to take a look, lost his footing and dived head first into the Norman river. We were not far up river from Karumba, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and as a general rule, swimming in these waters was not recommended.

“What’s he doing?” shouted Mary (Bob’s Wife) as Bob disappeared below the surface.

I took a quick look in the water and saw one huge fin and large grey bulk. I merely shouted “IT’s F#$@#NG BIG”. Mostly, I am not one lost for words but on this occasion that was about all I could manage. These were the only words or thoughts that could reach my tongue.

Bob must have not heard me correctly, later he told me he thought I had said. “IT’s A F#$@#NG PIG”.

Pigs are always welcome meat and excellent to catch when out bush so when Bob surfaced with the thought of ‘pig in the water’, he stretched up to the top of the bank and grabbed his sheath knife, then disappeared once again under the murky water. Pigs are occasionally found in water, generally having ended up there by accident, and they’re quite vulnerable to a hunter in water. And fishing was hunting.

Shark circling

Mary was wearing what I called her ‘hula skirt’, It was a bright red Mexican styled skirt with crisscrossed shoulder straps attached. It was quite short, also quite sexy in a floppy, comfortable sort of way. The straps clung to her top half, so it was a good look for the bush.

The moment Mary realized it was a huge shark that Bob was confronting, she did the silliest, bravest, stupidest thing that I had ever seen, and to this day I have no Idea what instincts drive this woman… she simply hurled herself from the high bank and landed slap between the eyes of the huge shark that was at least 3 feet longer than she was.

The Hula dress slid up over her head as the force of hitting the water ripped the dress from her, leaving the straps of the dress up underneath her arms pits in a crisscrossed fashion. The shark had managed to swim right through the body of the skirt, leaving Mary attached to the shoulder straps. One further tail stroke from the shark wrenched the straps from under Mary’s arm and slid the straps down to Mary’s wrists and the cross-over design locked together as the pair of straps came together from opposite sides of Mary’s wrists. On reflection, I could have retired that day if I had a movie camera because in those days, Mary looked a lot like a young Elisabeth Taylor… except she was a bit more ample at the top.

The shark thrashed about, moving forward in a circle with Mary almost doing a naked body surf in its wake. It’s still a vivid and exiting image re-run I can tune into at any time in my old memory… I’m sure I could have sold that bit of film.

Bob still seemed to be totally unaware that he was not facing a wild pig that had found itself a little bit out of its element and seemed totally intent of bagging it for the barbecue, and as Mary body surfed passed him in the murky waters he caught a glimpse of her leg and grabbed it.

“Gotcha F%$#ING PIG!’ he shouted as he lifted the arm with the knife to stab the pig.

Mary had managed to free one arm and was just in reach of Bobs face as the shark turned around. She slapped bob firmly and fair as he surfaced – and shouted “Don’t you call me a FU#%;^@…” but that sentence never finished as the shark dove with Mary’s arm still firmly locked on.

Jacky, tiny as she was, looked on her dad as a super-hero. She jumped up and down shouting to Bob, “Can we keep it? Can we keep it? Can we keep it?”

Bob, seeing his daughter perilously close to the edge of the bank, only managed to shout at her as best he was able – “GET BACK TO THE CAR!” But the sound was muffled by the water and the splashing and the general confusion and it seemed that Jacky thought that ‘this fish was a keeper’ and that her dad had said “GET THE PAN FROM THE CAR”. Bob did keep a large bush frying pan in the boot of the Holden.

By this time, Bob was well aware It was not a confused pig he was chasing… instead it was a 3 meter shark and as Bob turned to face the shark once again, it completed another small circle, entangled and angry. Bob and the shark had finally seen the light and both now seemed content to view each other as the ‘kill’ target.

Jacky then arrived at the bank carrying the large fry pan. Seeing the shark raise its head out of the water and opening its jaws at it approached her dad she too dived into the water following what must have been the same crazy instincts obviously inherited from her mother. The fry-pan collided with the inside of the sharks jaws as they snapped shut, the sound of breaking teeth sounded like pebbles on a stormy shore line. The shark’s mouth clamped firmly with teeth embedded into the steel pan with the handle protruding outside of the jaws… the handle still firmly held by young Jacky.

The shark seemed to have lost a bit of energy and the blood in the water suggested that Bob had managed to inflict a few severe wounds because the shark went deadly quiet and the thrashing stopped and the Norman river went quiet… quiet enough to hear a car approach, a door slam and a fellow approaching.

“Catching any?’ the fellow asked.

Bob found his footing on a mud bank a few feet up river, grabbed the frying pan handle still protruding from the shark’s mouth and gave one almighty tug pulling the top half of the shark onto a mud ledge a bit closer to the bank.

Mary shouted, “Jacky! Get out of the water! You know the crocodiles will get you!”

Then Mary turned to me as she climbed back on to the high bank . “YOU!” she shouted. “You owe me a new frying pan”.

Bob turned to the fellow and answered his question. “Just the one, mate “

Operator’s Guide for Janet

9 Dec

I got an email the other day from an old friend Down Under. Pat lives in Queensland, Australia, spending part of his time enjoying the peace and quiet on the veranda of the Kalkadoon Hotel in the quiet Outback town of  Kajabbi.

He’s a wordsmith of some repute, and an Internet entrepreneur through and through, with a half-dozen websites to his name. He sent me along a guestpost, and said if I was interested in running it, to feel free.

I’m interested. In fact, I hope I can convince Pat to grace Ramblings with his presence on a regular basis. Did I mention, he’s also a Madman of the first order?



Operator’s Guide for Janet

by Pat Davis

Never confine her to the house, she is a free spirit meant to be living in a world of rescued puppy dogs and cats caught in a tree.

She is content paddling naked on some floating thing, down a wild river with her eyes searching for the grassy bank that she has never seen before, or a tree where she can frolic amongst the fallen leaves.

Confined to a home she will want to polish it, and when she cannot make it shine she will turn bitter and sour.

She does not need a home, she merely needs a place to shelter should the breeze turn cold when she feels sleepy. A tent, a blanket, any temporary dwelling that she can cast aside when the morning sun speaks to her the way it does. A hat, a coat, a shawl to keep her warm is all she ever needs, with someone to turn to and say “Did you see that ” or “can you feel it”.

She does not require copious amounts of food but it should always be strange or weird in some way, she will happily accept the last slice of stale bread if it is served on a mountain top where she can look upon the clouds below.

She lives best a little hungry, never let her squat and indulge for more than a few days or she will once again get the urge to clean and polish and once again when she cannot make it shine she will turn bitter and sour.

She needs to dance, you might catch her skipping in a supermarket or twirling at a bus station with her hands held high like a ballerina in a pirouette . . . just smile at her if she finds you looking. . . she never frolics without your company.

Never give her anything but freedom, or she will be overcome with the desire to polish it, and when she cannot make it shine she will turn bitter and sour.

She needs to give her total self, always be close enough to be there when she needs to give. If you are not there she will polish your absence until it shines, and she might not see you when you return. . .

Pat Davis, at home in Kajabbi

Pat Davis, at home in Kajabbi

Keep Smilin’, Kid! ;-)

7 Dec

I lost a friend today. A very special friend, whom I had come to care for deeply, whom I respected a great deal… someone whose absence will be sorely felt.

Rachel Hunnicutt-Knight, after beating her leukemia down twice, lost her final battle at 2:55 this morning. She is now at peace, no longer in pain… growing no older. But she didn’t leave us unmarked, even those who never had the pleasure of meeting her. Her courage and cheerful spirit inspired people all around the world, as she fought the disease that had tried twice unsuccessfully, to defeat her.

As saddened as I am by the outcome of her battle with cancer, I refuse to cry because we have lost her. Instead, I am smiling, because we had her for a short while.

Rest in peace, Rachel. You are missed by many.

And keep smilin’, kid! 😉