Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity had graffiti painted on our box truck and I took on the task of getting it fixed. I approached a body shop in a neighboring town to inquire. While there I asked about working on the 54. They referred me to a neighboring business that likes to do unusual projects. November last year they began work on it. They have recycled an astounding amount of hardware from the 88 Ramcharger and installed it in the 54. It hasn't been cheap but considering the lack of progress for years this is a refreshing change. At this point the 54 moves under it's own power and stops as well. It now has power rack and pinion steering and power brakes. Speedway Motors supplied the cross member and IFS parts to make it happen. There isn't much left of the Ramcharger and the 54 is looking better and better. Next step to fix the rusted 54 rear fenders and drill out lots of broken bolts from the removal of interior side panels that have since been restored.
I've contacted the garage in the next town over to request a quote on replacing the stock front suspension with a IFS kit from Speedway Motors (much cheaper than Kugel due to no chrome or polished steel). I've done the measurements and the research I know about. I expect I'll eventually be asked to volunteer it in this process. We will see how long it takes for them to ask for same as an indicator of the shop's reliability.
While I haven't visited the garage mentioned in the last entry, I have found that one of the resources I was considering has dropped their Facebook page leading me to believe they are no longer a reliable resource. The garage in the neighboring town is still in the running. In the meantime I have found a parts supplier that is willing to supply what I need for the first phase of the reconstruction of the IFS.
The 54 Panel had been sitting in one spot so long vegetation had grown where it shouldn't so I splurged on a tow strap and pulled it to clearer ground. The front clip body parts were removed from the bed and floorboards. Then I blew clean the floor with compressed air to see what I have to work with. Without all the crap obstructing my view there's a lot of work to do on the floors. Also, the exterior has deteriorated some from the Florida weather so a tarp will cover it for now.
Before I realized getting the truck on the road would be so expensive I had dreams of an expensive custom paint job. After reality set in I've decided the paint can wait and to go with a rat rod look. Using rust encapsulating chemicals is out and scotchbrite and clear coat is in for now. However, essential rust must be repaired beforehand which means front floorboards, interior rear wheel wells, and rear fenders. Most of the rest is done!
My search for affordable work space continues. I recently discovered a new garage in Deland called "The Shop" that claims to do all sorts of custom work. I'm researching their reputation. They seem to have a genuine interest in my project but suggested that I could assemble a cheaper IFS by ordering it piecemeal vs as a kit. The cost of the IFS is the major hold up now so I'm investigating. This has lead me in several directions.
A friend has confirmed that while kits are more expensive, much of the engineering and preliminary headaches have been eliminated and concise instructions are provided. Plus there is technical support. At the same time "The Shop", advises me that I can lower my costs by ordering the IFS kit piecemeal. Naturally they are eager to assemble the order for me since I have neither the experience nor the facility. Another friend advised me to ask around at local car shows about this outfit since no one seems familiar with them. This lead us to discover Alfords Pro Street Customs, Inc in Orlando. I think I can learn a great deal from visiting them. Hot rodding, always a learning experience!
Car guys know other car guys so I'm still pushing the Habitat for Humanity's Cars for Homes Program I talked about in an earlier post. The truth is funds to build more affordable Habitat housing in the area are scarce these days so not much building has been taken place and things have, for the most part, been quiet at the Habitat Warehouse which has turned out to give me more time to focus on the 54. Actually, we had a scare that the building the Habitat Warehouse rents would be auctioned and the Warehouse would have to move out. I've been out pricing warehouse rental property with an eye out for property that might double as workshop space of the 54. I began comparing the price of workshop rental space with the cost of building a concrete slab on my property near my house as a work platform. Lots to consider! Still undecided.
Nevertheless, the process has motivated me to face the reality that, at the very least, I need more storage than the bed of the 54 and that of the Ramcharger to progress. Local commercial rental facilities have affordable pricing, some more affordable than others. Sooner or later I must decide if the cost savings of doing it myself will outweigh the cost of hiring out certain aspects of the entire project. For example, I can pull an engine, transmission, and rear end with borrowed/rented tools and transport them to storage but can I unload them and reload them as needed? The vendor that installs the Kugel replacement IFS may want input on whether they want those components on site for fitting prior, an issue yet to be discussed. A steep learning curve for those not having done this before. I'm not giving up yet!