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Old 08-18-2005, 04:44 AM
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top chop, and channelling advice?

Ok guys, it's soon coming time to hack into my '54 Chevy 4dr and magically transform it into a 2dr retractable hardtop version of the Moonglow. So I am busy contemplating to what degree I should hack into various areas.

First off, the top chop. I'm thinking a somewhat conservative 4" in front, 5" in rear, with a 10" section out of the roof's length, probably coming out of the forwardmost part of the roof where the contour of the roof section is most regular (and where I can cut out a lot of existing damage). Now, I recently saw in a magazine a 50' Ford 2dr sedan with 6 1/2" off in front and 10" in the rear with the back glass laid back and it looked beautiful. Not sure though if the that radical of a chop will look right on the '54 Chevy. I figure you can always chop a certain amount, look at it, and adjust it more, but never put metal back (not very easily anyway).

I also know about the problem with cutting the Bel Air's curved back glass, so I'm not cutting it. It will just dissapear below the new extended trunk lid. The trunk lid will hinge backwards and be extended the 10" or so that is coming out of the roof length and it's edge will meet the back glass with the roof up and the trunk lid closed.

Second, due to a lack of access to dropped spindles and modified suspension components that you all enjoy in the US (and a tight budget), I have had to think outside of the box to get the car low. Airbags on all four corners is a given, but keeping the stock IFS stock means either Z'ing the frame forward of the firewall with all the associated steering linkage and engine /trans mounting nightmares that come with it, or simply channelling the body down over the frame front and rear which sounds like a much better idea to me. It gets the car low while I don't have to cut into my frame and I get to keep the IFS geometry exactly as it came from the factory, stock height spindles and everything. I am worrying a bit about clearing the tops of my six Holley 94's with the hood, but some measurements and calculations will confirm if this will be a problem or not, I think there must be heaps of space under that bulbous hood.

Between the chopped roof and raised floorpan there will be less space for the driver (me... I'm 6'2") to climb in and sit comfortably in the cockpit, and less room between my knees and the steering wheel / dash with a stock height seat, but I figure that since I am losing the rear seat altogether, and I have to fabricate a new front seat anyway, I can build the seat closer to the floor, the back more reclined, and with the increased legroom required to comfortably reach the pedals in a more sports car style seating position.

I've had the pleasure of experiencing the joys of a Ferrari 575 Maranello about a year back, and it had a very low seat, reclined back and was very comfortable even for a tall(ish) driver such as me. Only thing I'm thinking is I might need to extend the steering column of my '54, and maybe employ a smaller steering wheel.

A '54 Chevy is not a Ferrari 575 Maranello, it doesn't have a V12, F1 six speed sequential shift gearbox, composite chassis (the list goes on), neither could I possibly ever compare the two, but it had me thinking of possible solutions to a higher floor pan and lower roof.

On a side note, for those that have been following the conceptualization and the build itself, I've decided for certain that the entire floorpan from trunk to footwells will be hammered out of aluminum, as well as the hood (to the original stock contours), the door skins, and probably the trunk lid. I'm contemplating fabricating new front fenders from aluminum too, but it depends on if the originals turn out to be salvageable and how ambitious I feel for metalforming. The steel ones aren't that heavy if I leave out a lot of the inner sheetmetal but I do want to get the curbweight of this car down as much as possible.

So, back to the chopping and channelling, I'm thinking 4" front, 5" rear on the roof and 3 - 4" of channeling front and rear, about what I might get with 2" dropped spindles, cut coils and blocks out back. Whatdyathink?

I must be mad.

Rich
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Old 08-18-2005, 04:58 AM
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Very ambitious plan there Rich.....One observation though, and correct me if I am wrong. I think that if you are chopping the top and the windshield and rear window are sitting in the same location, you will have to lengthen the roof, not shorten it......
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poncho62
Very ambitious plan there Rich.....One observation though, and correct me if I am wrong. I think that if you are chopping the top and the windshield and rear window are sitting in the same location, you will have to lengthen the roof, not shorten it......
You are right, if the rear window was sitting in the same location the roof would indeed have to be lengthened. For my modifications though the position of the rear window will be more than 10" further forward than it is stock because by lowering the roof and maintaining the angle of the windshield post the whole roof will be brought slightly further forward as well.

The trunk lid will be lengthened with a panel contoured to fit in the resulting gap rear of the back glass created by the shorter roof.

Hope this makes sense.

So what do you think of the 4" front/5" rear roof chop and 3 to 4" channelling? too much or too little in your opinion?

Rich
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:13 AM
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Sounds good.......................it's not too much. Maybe, you can sketch or photoshop it before you "hack" to see what it will look at. Or maybe someone on here could.
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:17 AM
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Yeah, I'll give it a go. I don't really like the word "hack" now that I've used it. Sounds a bit too barbaric, anyway, thanks for the opinion.

Rich
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Old 08-18-2005, 08:18 AM
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Rick, the only concern I have (if I understand your plans thoroughly) is leaving the back glass stock but recessed. How will that work with the retractable top? If I am not mistaken the Moonglow had a back glass out of a '48 Merc or something like that (or was that the La Jola). It was a smaller, flatter, and didn't need to be cut.

Brian
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Old 08-18-2005, 09:38 AM
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Rick, I would be concerned about the depth of the body if you channel it. Are you going to have enough room for the top after it is retracted. How thick is the top going to be once it is folded up and are going to have enough room to close the cover. Just my thoughts.
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Old 08-18-2005, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IROC100
Rick, I would be concerned about the depth of the body if you channel it. Are you going to have enough room for the top after it is retracted. How thick is the top going to be once it is folded up and are going to have enough room to close the cover. Just my thoughts.
VERY GOOD point. The entire car has to be studied when doing these mods.

Brian
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Old 08-19-2005, 02:25 AM
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Thanks guys,

Those are some good points, I guess there are so many different design aspects to this project that it's hard to ask a question relating to only one modification without giving info about the whole car.

The stock size back glass shouldn't be a problem as when retracted it ends up all the way at the back of the trunk and actually ends up laying down above the main roof section.

The frame will have to be kicked down drastically rear of the axle allowing the trunk floor to be dropped all the way to the level of the bottom of the original spare tire recess (fuel tank will be replaced with a cell where the back seat should be).

All in all the geometry, clearances and volumes of the trunk area shouldn't be adversely affected by a 3 or 4" channelling (at least not where I need it).

I taped up the proposed cutting points for the 4" front and 5" rear chop on the roof yesterday. It's hard to tell without actually cutting it, but 5" out of the back seems as though it might be a bit too much, most of the back glass dissapears completely. I need to put some more time into generating some scale drawings and make sure I have it right. I'd rather chop it less and have the lines right than go too far and just have a mess. I wonder how much Moonglow was chopped?

I also discoved that the 4" chop out of the front already brings the whole roof 3.14" forward, which only requires another 8.86" to come out of the roof length to bring the back window a whole 12" further forward than it started out. Again, this might be too much.

Anyway, first step as far as actual work is concerned is to replace the rockers, cut out the rotten floor, drop the body 3" or so over the frame, and fabricate the new floor. I'm not going to cut into anything until I have all this planned out.

Well, I'm on my way out to the garage now. I really appreciate your thoughts and advice, keep it comin'!

Rich

Last edited by rlackey; 08-19-2005 at 02:36 AM.
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