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04-19-2007 10:56 AM brakes, tranny & distributor
It has been awhile, but I have managed to fix some old problems and find some new ones.

I got distracted from the truck by a bike that I built while living in Connecticut. Now that I am back in Indiana, I want to get back on the road.

There was a persistent problem of knocking under load, which turned out to be the old HEI. It was advancing past 50 degrees. I replaced it with a fancy rebuilt HEI and an Accel coil. The engine seems to be running smoothly and pulling strong at all RPMs now.

I spent a lot of time re-doing the brakes. I ended up rebuilding the master cylinder. In the process I manages to screw up some lines, so I ended up replacing most of them. It turned out that the line to the rear brakes was intentionally or accidentally mashed flat, so there little or no pressure to the rear brakes.

Once I replaced the line, my pedal went nearly to the floor. I tried to adjust the rear brakes, but the adjuster was seized. Once I go the drums off, I realized it didn't matter. On one side the shoes were worn completely away and it was just metal on metal. Probably the result of burnouts and other hijinks.

After ordering some parts (It amazes me that parts that fit so many years and bodies, like all Chevy rear brakes from 51-72 Chevys and parts for small block Chevys, are considered to be special order now and are no longer stocked at any parts stores in town. I am not even 30 and I remember I could get almost anything for my 70's muscle cars off the shelf when I did those a few years ago) I managed to replace the shoes & hardware on both sides and made my brother turn the drums. I've got solid brakes and a good pedal again.

While I had it on stands, I checked up on transmission. It loves to leak like a sieve. I suspected it was from the rubber lines that ran to the aftermarket cooler, so I plumbed in some steel lines. It gives me more piece of mind, but it still leaked like crazy. I took a closer look at the kickdown cable. I noticed it was an aftermarket piece that has that stupid fake braided cable thing going on and where the cable housing joins the mount on the transmission, it was just loosely crimped in. I put some sealing tape all around it and it seems like that fixed the leak.

I thought I had a transmission problem, since it wasn't up-shifting, but I tracked it down to the shifter. In preparation, I managed to score a really cheap 700r4 and compatible ratchet shifter. I am debating installing the shifter on the leaky 350 until I swap the whole thing next summer, but I am un-decided.

I forgot about the gas tank leaking when it was full, so I got a quick reminder the other day. I need to take care of that one of these days.

Sometime while it was in storage, the left windshield seal dried out to the point that the glass is slipping out and threatens to fall into the cab one of these days. The good news is that I found some reproduction seals, but I have been putting off paying the $50 for them.

All in all, I think I can muster the cash to get a junkyard electric fan (It ran pretty hot last summer I drove it. That may have been due to the way-advanced timing, but a fan with a shroud couldn't hurt) and windshield seals to get it together enough to make it to Beatersville in May. Maybe I will see you there.

  [Entry #4]

06-23-2004 03:25 PM It runs, what else can you hope for?
I got things put together the night before the first show. It won best unfinished, but there was only 1 other car in my category, not bad for the first show. Below is my celebratory burnout. Later that weekend I realized 2 things. The gas gauge I installed wasn't working and running out of gas at 4 in the morning in the rain in the middle of the road on a blind curb is kind of terrifying. After some investigation, somehow the Power and sending wires I was so careful to get right were actually switched. Scrap 1 new gauge and old sending unit. I have also run out of funds to replace them and that pesky voltmeter, so I will have some pretty sweet empty hole in my dash at the show this weekend. I have also had some trouble with the tank (leaks when I am over 3/4 full), so I am debating holding up a liquor store to get a fuel cell and sending unit to mount in the back to match a new gauge.

(click photo to enlarge)
  [Entry #3]

05-17-2004 01:20 PM The last 2 weeks on the 40 Hudson Pickup
I remounted the seats w/ 2 inches of lift instead of 4. It is a pretty good compromise, I can see over the hood and I can see stoplights.

I got a fire-wall mounted spoon pedal from Mr. Gasket. It is OK, I am not usually a big fan of hunks of Chrome, but that is the way most accessories come. At leat it is in a comfortable place. If you order one of these, beware, they don't come with a cable or any hardware.

I figured out that my gauges didn't work because the fuse is blown. I checked for a short in that circuit and traced it to the voltmeter. There was only 1 ohm of resistance between the + and - posts on the gauge. I don't know if this caused my initial electrical fire, but the fuse saved me this time. My gas gauge was also junk.

I sprung for an Auto Meter gas gauge. My fuel sender is at 110 Ohms when it is full and 0 when it is empty. The only range I could find that was close to this was a 0-90, so I went with it. It shows VERY full, but the empty is true and that is really the only reason to have a gas gauge.

I wanted to go cheap on the Voltmeter, since it is only a voltmeter and I didn't feel like spending $35 on a matching Auto Meter. Sun here I come. I can't believe I had to special-order a plain jane Sun Voltmeter from Autozone (my speed shop doesn't even order that junk). They had plenty of those Tuner white-faced crap in stock, but I thought they look really silly. I should get it tomorrow.

I also ran into a rough idle problem last week. I put up a whiny post that got no answers, probably because it was just me whining about not wanting to rebild the carb. Upon further investigation, I discover that the right bank was DUMPING fuel into the intake and it did not respond to the idle mixture screw on that side. $50 for a rebuild kit and floats put me back on track (the rebuild only took an hour). I need to change the oil for a 4th time in a month (see the Oil Pan problems in the previos post) since it is probably loaded with gas. I ran the truck so long while it was dumping I must have been washing out the cylinders, I hope I didn't do anything permanent.

If I am lucky this might be enough to get it running for this season. As long as nothing major goes wrong, I may be able to afford shaving the handles and getting into the tranny and the rear end next winter.

  [Entry #2]

05-17-2004 01:03 PM Background on the 40 Hudson Pickup
My pride is the truck. It is a 1940 Hudson/Chevy. The cab and frame are 40 Hudson. The hood and front fenders are one piece and tilt forward. The bed is hand-fabricated. The front suspension is early 70s GM, the rear is a ’55 Chevy with stock gears. The engine is a ’74 Chevy small block 400 with a TH350 auto-trans. Someone put a lot of time and love into it before I got it. It must have been done in the 70’s-80’s but it is not as bad as the rods of that period. The cab has bee smoothed into the Chevy hood, the bed was hand-made, the running board have meticulous drain holes. It came with a Weiand single-plane manifold, a Holley 4-barrel, and 202 heads. I love it, but it has not run for more than 20 minutes at a time since I bought it.

It seemed too good to be true when I test-drove it over a year ago. It ran pretty strong and looked pretty smooth (I don’t know much about body work, but I knew it was a Bondo-buggy, and I didn’t care). When I got it home and drove it around the block, I noticed a lot of smoke coming off the headers. The trans cooler fittings were leaking: easy fix. Trans leaking was still a problem, but I noticed that the speedo cable was disconnected, so I hooked it up. The leak went away and I got the original Hudson speedo to work. I still had a lot of oil burning off the headers. I noticed that the rear seal on the intake manifold was pushed out. This is not a hard fix, just kind of a pain in the ***. To make it worse, one of the bolts seized. I went through a lot of money on an impact wrench and air compressor (which I probably needed anyway), but the runners were too big to get an impact socket on it. I ended up drilling it off.

Then the carb started in on me. I hate Holleys and this one was a shiny (why would you make a carb shiny?) 750 Vac. Secondary that just dumped way too much fuel. I had a 650 double pumper on the shelf that I rebuilt years ago. I had it on my old Nova, and an idiot at a shop over-torquesd it and broke off a corner of the throttle plate. They charged me $60/hr. for him to destroy my carb (This is Jeff’s Automotive in New Carlisle, OH if you wondered.) Anyway I had a guy at a boat repair place that was good at welding aluminum and they fixed it. When I put it on, it was still dumping fuel, and I couldn’t get the adjustment right (did I mention that I hate Holleys). Around this time I also noticed that the intake had a leak on one of the intake runners.

I decided that as long as I was pulling the intake I would ditch the single-plane (which is for sale), since I plan to dive this thing on the street, and they aren’t so great at lower RPMs. My brothers ’71 Malibu felt a lot more powerful when he put an Edelbrock Performer RPM on his 350, so I went with one of those off ebay. When I got it I was pissed. It looked kind of bright on the listing, but I figured that the flash just washed it out. No, the guy spray-painted it. He painted an aluminum intake silver. He claimed it was a “high-temp sealing enamel” and that he had done this on several intakes that he sold and no one else had complained. My rat-rodding sensibilities were outraged. Spray-paint is for bodies, not parts. It is made of a metal that doesn’t rust, just let it look like metal. By the time I paid to get that crap sandblasted off and took shipping into account, I could have bought the intake new.

As long as I was pulling the intake, I decided to replace the carb as well. I am a fan of Cater AFBs, since I messed with muscle cars for so long. I had one on my Nova and my brother had one on his Malibu and they were both very fast cars. The unfortunate part is that I had a lot of trouble locating one. I guess Carter was bought by Federal Mogul, and they don’t make it easy to buy them. I compromised and got an Edelbrock 600 (manual choke of course). While I was at it I put in an MSD 6AL box that I ebayed a few years ago and never put in the Nova.

This car/intake swap/ignition upgrade put the truck out for a long time. When I got it done, it wouldn’t start. I ended up replacing the starter (not the problem, but I regret nothing) and the battery. Problem fixed, it ran, which caused another problem. I was a little surprised when I saw blue sparks under the dash, but I knew that the wiring job was patchy. Some of it was 60 years old and it had been converted to 12V and reworked several times. I knew it looked bad, but did not know that there wasn’t a single fuse in the whole system. When the black smoke billowed out from under the dash, I knew I was in trouble. I managed to shut it down and pull the battery terminals, but it was pretty bad. I knew that I needed to replace the electrical system at some point, but I did not know that it had to be that soon.

I spent several weeks running a whole new system. I still can’t believe how much I dropped on random pieces as I went through, but I replaced every wire, socket and bulb. It gave me a chance to make the truck mine. I ditched all the multi-switches, like ignition and headlights and put in a switch panel with several single throw switches and a push-button starter (tough). I also discovered that I really like working on it every day. It felt purposeful and it is a good way to hide from people. I did a really clean job on everything until I got to the dash. I may have gotten too excited & sloppy. I may fix it later, but maybe it is impossible, since there is so much stuff in there.

It started right up at the moment of truth (It also helped that I manually, dialed in the timing, since I screwed it up when I had the distributor out during the intake swaps. It died about 5 minutes in. It turns out the positive terminal was routed too close to a header and it grounded out. Easy fix, but it put me back another day.

After I fixed that, I noticed a new problem. At some point, the dipstick tube broke off in the block and the guy siliconed it back on. I decided to fix it right. Unfortunately this meant dropping the pan to pull the broken piece out of the block. This went OK, but I had to decide between 2 front seals for the pan. I chose right, the guy before me chose wrong, so he distorted the pan with a thicker seal. When I put it back together there was a regular drip at the front, so I had to get a new pan. I got a plain one (I need to rant about how ugly chrome is later) and painted it flat red, the accent color I chose while doing the wiring.

Putting it back on went pretty bad. I haven’t lost my temper in a long time, but I did while I was under the car, holding the pan up with my chin, and trying to start the corner bolts (the tabs were thicker than the other pan, so it was a pretty hard feat). I managed to get it back up after cursing everyone and everything I knew. There are no leaks now.

Now I am putting the seats in. They were bolted to the floor when I got it, which looks cool, but makes it impossible to see over the hood. I am raising them 4” with some steel stock, but I have been running into some snags with making them fit. I finally decided to mount them on the stock rail on the floorpan as well as the holes where they were mounted to the floor.

The first testdrive revealed some flaws in my seat placement. The seats are too high, so I have to stoop most of the time to see. I guess I need to lower them again, and the pedal is a pain. It is on the firewall, so it is easier to push with my hand than my foot.

(click photo to enlarge)
  [Entry #1]

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