Now that I have the driveshaft solved, it's time to start working on final placement of the engine and transmission. I'm going to make mount platforms for the front, this lets me not cut the frame, I'll just have to drill a few holes in it. More on that later.
I looked in to cutting down the original transmission crossmember, and bolting it in to it's original mounts on the frame, but test fitting it quickly showed that I'd have to cut away almost half of it before it would begin to fit. Quickly obvious to me that I'd have to fabricate a new one.
Using the original as a guide, I figured I'd make it out of identical pieces of 1/8" plate steel, boxed together with strips.
Underneath the car, I measured and made a quick, very rough drawing of what it would look like.
Drawing it out full size on cardboard, I could see that it wouldn't be sturdy, and would take a long time to make.
Under the car again, I could see that a straight-across sturdy bar would probably do the trick, and it wouldn't have to be curved at all. Since it's an X frame, it doesn't need to be very long, or made of overly heavy material.
Inspiration struck, and I figured out how to make it quickly, and out of free material that I already have laying around here. My favorite way.
Using the sawzall, a few minutes later, I had these peices cut from scraps. The center mounting tab won't be as long as shown here, I just figured I'd get the crossbar part finished first so I'd have a better idea how to make the tab.
Following advice that a one-piece driveshaft could be used from a later model car, I went to the yards and did lots of measuring. Fairly quickly I discovered the big 1980s vintage GM wagons have a 58" shaft, which I thought would be perfect for my project.
I then discovered that all of them are bent, from the forklifts the yards use to move the cars around with. For $10, I picked one up anyway, so I could use it as reference to bolt everything up with.
I was told I'd have to notch the frame near the rear of the shaft tunnel, so I was ready for that, but when I got it home, I realized where I was with this idea....that I'd have to cut my frame, get yet another driveshaft, and another conversion U-joint for the rear. Paying to have my original driveshaft cut started to look like a better idea again. For some reason I thought this was a $350 expense that I was trying to avoid.
I learned that having a driveshaft cut costs less than $100, so I had it done (while I waited, no less) at A-Line Driveshafts in North St. Louis on Bulwer Street.
Here's a pic of the donor van's yoke on the Impala's driveshaft. I had 3 and a half inches cut from the front, and a new carrier bearing installed, for around $100.
But the trips to the yard weren't entirely wasted. I saw this incredibly humble '62 two door hardtop at Taylor's, which still had a front seat frame, and the bottom half of the rear seat. Mine is soft and crunchy like the Cutlass' was, so I picked this one up for $10. For another $20, I took the tattered front seat too. The white 4 door car in the background is a '65 Impala, which gave up it's foam front seat cushion for my project.
The Impala driveshaft is shown on the left, and the donor van's shaft on the right. Although the sizes of the yokes look dramatically different, the center shafts appear to be very close in size. I hoped the yoke from the van driveshaft would fit the Impala driveshaft, and it does, sorta. I was afraid I'd have to spend big bucks and have mine cut, welded, balanced, etc, but not the case.
After a very brief search, I discovered the "conversion U-joint", and had it in my hands an hour later. It costs about $30, and I picked it up at Car Quest. It has different size bearing caps on each axis. This difference can clearly be seen in the third photo, with the conversion unit on the left, and the standard replacement on the right.
This morning I installed them both. It required a little extra work because my shaft was so rusted, and the yoke holes were bent and rusted. With the cutting torch, I heated the ends of the loops for the yoke, and beat them back in to place with a big hammer and center punch. I then used the tiny grinding wheel on the Dremel tool to clean up the grooves so the retainer clips would fit in. I also installed a new standard U-joint in the center. The carrier bearing looks nearly new, so I'll leave it alone for now.
I lifted the donor van's engine and transmission, still attached together as a unit, and set it in place as close as I could to its future home. It doesn't fit.
I removed parts as I went, to get it closer, the transmission cooler lines, the exhaust manifolds, both engine mounts. I wanted to leave as much of it together as I could, to get an idea what kind of clearance issues I'm going to have.
I thought the engine mounts might be a direct bolt-in, but they aren't. The engine will have to sit forward of the stock location, probably by about two inches, or it will touch the firewall. I learned this by picking the engine up, bolting the mounts to it, and the stands to the mounts, and then just kind of sitting it where I want it on the crossmember. I eyeballed the driveshaft, and it looks like lengthwise, it might be close. Time to figure that out next, before I can mount the engine, or fabricate a transmission mount.
This fender is just one of many parts I still haven't found a temporary home for as this project begins.
This Impala has some problems. Yeah. None of us saw THAT coming....
The front corners of the cowl, inner rockers, outer floor braces on this car are practically gone. The previous owner did some incredibly low quality repairs on them, they look like something out of an automotive horror/slasher film. People Who Work On Cars But Actually Hate Them, or something. But hey, I was the over-enthusiastic goof that actually paid money for this car.
The frame near the idler arm is rusted away all around it. This warrants a good all-over examination of the frame front to back, to see what I'm really in for. I suppose it's possible that the rest of it could be so bad that the car is not worth fixing. I don't expect that to be the case.
The driver side body mount has collapsed. The metal stand for it on the frame appears to be bent down a little. Thank God it's not rusty here too. The rear body mounts, placed amazingly enough by GM, INSIDE the rear wheel houses, are non-existant on this car. I didn't look at the frame or under-body behind the differential, there's only so much heartbreak a man can take in one day.
The center section of the frame, is a large, heavy, giant X-member, it has no side rails. I've never had a car constructed like this, definitely something different for me. The X part of the frame looks to be in good condition.