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Old 05-13-2005, 03:16 PM
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My Bel Air needs to go on a diet!

Even though this is in the General Rodding Tech forum, not the engine forum where I've been hanging out, I'll probably get replies from everyone who has commented on my 302 build already, but for anyone who doesn't know the story here's some background.

I need a diet plan for my '54 Chevy. I've pretty much decided I want to build a sweet little 302 that should be good for 400 H.P. (desktop dyno predicts 450) at 6500rpm and 300HP anywhere from 4500 to 9000rpm. I want to back this with a T10 or Muncie 4 Speed, 5.13:1 rear gears and some tall tires.

Problem is that to really have fun with this motor I need to shed at least 430lbs from the Bel Air, bringing it's curb weight from 3430lb to somewhere around 3000lbs (the 302 powered Z28 had a curb weight of 3070lbs). This sounds like a lot, but I've been feeling the weight of every part I've removed from the car in dissasembly and I think it's possible to put it back together 430lbs lighter.

My initial thoughts are to start by fabricating an aluminum floor pan, especially since I have to cut out a lot of it anyway. I also thought about removing the inner front fenders and engine compartment sheetmetal completely or fabricating from aluminum there too. I have also thought about aluminum door skins.

Anyone following my project will know I'm designing a retractable hardtop, now I'm thinking about throwing this out, but the mechanism really won't weigh too much anyway, it's all CNC machined aluminum and it's just too cool to throw out if I can shed weight in other places first. It does however require me to add a heavy X member to the frame when I'm wanting to shed weight, not add it.

I am also thinking about losing the rear seating because it would make the roof mechanism simpler (could probably retract it in two sections instead of three) and with the retractable I have to drop the trunk floor all the way to the ground (well, to the level of the bottom of spare wheel recess) which means I have to relocate the fuel tank. Losing the rear seat would also give me a good place to put a fuel cell.

This all adds up to probably a couple hundred pounds if I'm lucky, but I still need to lose more. I would prefer to utilise any traditional methods that might exist for lightening a frame and body as I'm trying to keep this a 60's era car (I'm claiming artistic license for the retractable roof). What was done back in the day to lighten a car for drag racing or the salt flats? Any ideas?

Rich

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Old 05-13-2005, 09:01 PM
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It is hard to lose that much weight..........except by a little in a lot of places.

My Roadster has a set of aluminum heads........saving about 25 lbs each ..a aluminum intake and a aluminum water pump. It also has the small gear reduction 90 Corvette starter ( about 10 lbs saved ). It has a 9 inch Ford rear end with a Strange aluminum center section. It also has a aluminum driveshaft. The Roadster crosses the scales at 2240 lbs.

All of this costs money.........but not that much more than the heavy stuff if you buy it first. It is a lot more costly IF you having to buy it to replace parts already bought and installed. I put the aluminum stuff on as I built the 32.

Aluminum wheels are also a good place to save weight but I LOVE the steel wheel painted rim look on old Fords so I just have those.

The old street racer rule was that for every 100 pounds of weight you took off the car.............ET reduction in a 1/4 of a mile was about 1/10 of a second. 400 lbs should reduce your 1/4 mile time by almost 1/2 a second.

GOOD LUCK.........

.
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:13 PM
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I've heard that an aluminum driveshaft saves weight. I've also heard that some early to mid 70s chevrolet station wagons have light weight brake drums(but that is of course if you dont already have discs).
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Old 05-14-2005, 05:04 AM
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Thanks guys,

I'm considering fabricating aluminum hood and trunk lids too, together with an aluminum floor, door skins, and losing the inner front fender sheetmetal and the rear seat I might just about be there. Maybe I can find a set of Buick finned aluminum brake drums too.

Does anyone know the do's and dont's of drilling lightening holes in the frame rails without affecting structural integrity?

Rich
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Old 05-14-2005, 03:10 PM
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I have a Pro-street 53 Chevy

back halved...shortened Ford 9" posi rear end with 3.50 gears, built th350 trans with a shift kit, line lock, disc/disc brakes setup...its like driving a tank Dude!!! Gets a lot of looks with the 33"X15":X19.5" rear tires up under the fenders...I don't think I'll ever run it at the track...way to heavy.


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Old 05-14-2005, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tm454
back halved...shortened Ford 9" posi rear end with 3.50 gears, built th350 trans with a shift kit, line lock, disc/disc brakes setup...its like driving a tank Dude!!! Gets a lot of looks with the 33"X15":X19.5" rear tires up under the fenders...I don't think I'll ever run it at the track...way to heavy.


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That's why I'm trying to shed 430lbs. I would love to see pictures of your car. I'm planning to do the same to the rear of mine, maybe slightly smaller rubber but still narrowed and tubbed.

Rich
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Old 05-14-2005, 03:47 PM
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Making weight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuce



It is hard to lose that much weight..........except by a little in a lot of places.

My Roadster has a set of aluminum heads........saving about 25 lbs each ..a aluminum intake and a aluminum water pump. It also has the small gear reduction 90 Corvette starter ( about 10 lbs saved ). It has a 9 inch Ford rear end with a Strange aluminum center section. It also has a aluminum driveshaft. The Roadster crosses the scales at 2240 lbs.

All of this costs money.........but not that much more than the heavy stuff if you buy it first. It is a lot more costly IF you having to buy it to replace parts already bought and installed. I put the aluminum stuff on as I built the 32.

Aluminum wheels are also a good place to save weight but I LOVE the steel wheel painted rim look on old Fords so I just have those.

The old street racer rule was that for every 100 pounds of weight you took off the car.............ET reduction in a 1/4 of a mile was about 1/10 of a second. 400 lbs should reduce your 1/4 mile time by almost 1/2 a second.

GOOD LUCK.........

.
Yeah I agree with Deuce in that it is saving weight a little in a lot of areas..one has to decide just which way to go..lots of custom features weigh pounds so all the nice tuck and roll goes to be replaced with some Kirkey or similar race seats..the interior support structure goes away to be replaced with some lite tubes just enough to hold things together..inner fender panels..Good by..Radiator support ..in the junk pile..make a lite tube support for that..build a chassis like a morrison super car..those are a lot lighter than the 53/54 frame..

The radio/CD player/tape deck..Nope

So it is design choices to be made as part of the planning..and remember lite weight costs cubic dollars..

Aluminum race shocks are about twice the price of steel shocks..Steel street rod spindles are 149 and the aluminum sprint spindles are 224 according to my catalog..

Bottom line is yeah the weight can be taken down but it takes some tough choices...

My centavos on this one..

OMT
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Old 05-14-2005, 04:03 PM
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I think I have to decide just how badly I want to lose those pounds. Those are some tough decisions. My problem is that I want two contradictory cars in one. I have been told that the classic customs of the 50's were way more show than go. Well, I want both, I want the show and the go. I want my Kandy, chrome, tuck n roll and trimmings to do a quarter mile in the mid 13 seconds.

I don't have to be told this isn't possible, I already know that, but you're right, I have to make some decisions now, in planning stages before I get too far along in building the car. I'm in such early stages of building at the moment that I can still go either way.

Thanks OMT, maybe that's the kind of realism I need at the moment.

Rich
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Old 05-14-2005, 07:31 PM
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well if you want better HP/weight ratio and you cant take some weight off, then get more HP. i dont know if your engine is already built, but that might be a possibility? how about a fiber glass hood?
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Old 05-14-2005, 09:05 PM
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you could go with a fiber glass front clip and replace all those body supports w/ aluminum
hell go w/ a all aluminum body
not sure how much difference w/ electric pwr steer
elect H2O pump
get wills 36 to make you 1 of those aluminum I beam front suspensions
fiberglass leaf springs

didn't they make a 302 block all aluminum???(IDUNNO)
ok now i'm just babbling

sr66
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Old 05-15-2005, 02:08 AM
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Well, I just heard from a guy that has a '53 that weighs in at only 2830lbs with a half tank of gas. He's done nothing special to it, all Chevy sheetmetal, iron engine, stock suspension, only he removed some of the inner front sheetmetal, removed all glass but the windshield, and it has a pair of lightweight bucket seats.

If that is the case, maybe I can build my contradiction after all. He says that when he adds the rest of the glass and interior insulation it ends up at about 3000lbs.

So, if I've got an aluminum floor, that's probably good for 80lbs. Aluminum trunk and hood lid would be good for another 150lb easy, those things are heavy, aluminum doorskins, maybe another 40lbs. That's about 270lbs, that should afford me one bench seat, rather than the two buckets, door panels, a headliner and carpets.

I may have to lose my retractable roof though

There's got to be more lbs to be sqeezed to make room for that, I just have to find them!

Rich
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:09 AM
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hmmm, it seems to be headed toward "cruiser" status... 5.13s are going to be pathetic for mpg... I would recommend stroking the sbc to a bigger displacement and using a more modest gear ratio to get decent mpg and performance
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Old 05-15-2005, 03:24 PM
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I have pictures....

in my photo album...check it out!!!


Tazz


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Old 05-17-2005, 12:57 PM
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What about the bumpers?

Depending on space, you might be able to utilize more modern aluminum bumper backs (with modification) and build custom aluminum or fiberglass bumper covers that look like the originals, but still provide impact resistance at a weight savings.

Weren't the grilles on those BelAirs made up of cast metal? Those would also be good candidates for replacement with something lighter.

Also, the big metal dash might be replaceable with something made of fiberglass and the steering column could be replaced by an aluminum model.

Coilovers appear to be smaller and lighter than the standard shocks and springs. Using aluminum suspension components could lighten the overall vehicle as well as reducing the unsprung weight. Your choice of transmission will also have a lot to do with weight - manuals tend to be lighter.

Don't know if there are lighter batteries around, but it might be worth shopping around with a scale to find a comparable battery that weighs less.
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Old 05-17-2005, 01:18 PM
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Another way to look at this Rich is to move some weight around. Any weight that you can move to the rear of the car, not only takes weight off the front, but also adds traction.

Stuff like the battery in the trunk really helps with weight transfer.
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