Monday, December 19, 2011

Ta Da

Well not completely Ta Da but we're pretty much down to the short strokes for having this car race ready. We have a couple of wiring and fuel related issues to work out still and I would really like to focus on doing some interior finishing but that's basically it. Some proper skinny front runners are in order which will mean that we have to trim our fenders and bumper for clearance but that's pretty par for the course. We pulled it out into the light of day to snap a few shots in natural light and it looks killer with the snowy back drop. I'm still blown away every time I walk into my garage and get to pour over our crown jewel. Then my eyes usually roll back in my head like a shark and I just have to fire it up and let the neighbors know that I'm home.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh So Shiny

 Holy crap it's been a long time coming but we finally got the car in paint. Time seemed to stand still working up to the final hours before primer, then everything went pretty much like clock work as we began to spray. Once the colour and clear were down we then had to colour sand and polish the shiny yet dimpled surface which also seemed to take forever. Well it's done now and we couldn't be happier with the outcome.

 We fired the windshield and driver's seat in today and pulled it out into the daylight. You probably can't notice in the pictures with Chris and I but we're grinning from ear to ear like we just ate a whole box of pot cookies. Next on the agenda is to set up the drive shaft and front end angles, set the alignment and truck the car back to my shop for reassembly. Putting shiny parts back on the car is always the most exciting part of any build. The metamorphosis from scrap parts to shiny race car has been an amazing transformation. In case you haven't been following this build from the beginning, we just passed our one year mark since this project began. Pretty freakin' good if you ask me. Now we have to wait until Spring until we can huck it down the 1320. No matter, I look forward to spilling beer on it all Winter long in anticipation of race season.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Still Watching?

Two months since my last post!! I must have been enjoying Summer or something. Well that train has come to a dramatic halt with an influx of cold weather, so it's back to the shop. No photos to display this time around but I will say that we have back painted the hood and scoop and will be mounting it this morning. Chris has the body in nice straight shape and ready for high build. Now it's time to prep the paint booth and start masking the car. The plan is to have our first base coat down by Saturday. I would normally say that it's been a long time coming since the anticipation for paint has been like waiting for Santa (he's real, don't kid yourself) but we're just closing in on the one year anniversary since we started this epic journey.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fender-Wells & Fresh Air

It's hard to show progress on the many hours of block sanding that have gone into this project but it'll all be worth it when there's shiny paint down. We managed to score a set of Hooker "Super Comp" fender-well headers this week from our good friend Handsome Paul. Thanks Paul.

They are meant for a later B-body but we had no reservations about hacking away more tin to make these beautys fit. They also sound wicked compared to the old under car headers, which really have no place on an altered wheelbase car. We also started prepping our hood for surgery which meant that I got to drive the car out into the yard and out of the paint booth. It was great to be able to hop in and flash the beast to life and drive it around some. Nothing really to see on the hood front but we managed to eradicate all of the factory bracing and we will be cutting a large hole in the middle to accommodate the Max Wedge scoop. We're getting closer to wheels up action. All we have to do now is stop breaking our other race car and we can really make some headway.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Abandonment Isuues

 I'll be the first to admit that we've been slacking on the new project but hear me out before you take us off your favorites list. Spring arrived and none of us would have noticed except for the fact that all of our crew started putting their street cars on the road. This also may not have been noticed too much except that they all decided to simultaneously come unglued. This incident also coincided with a looming race season and our realization that our big black wagon still needed a transmission and a host of neglected maintenance. So we pushed the altered into the corner and went to work repairing the rigs that needed our immediate attention.
Now don't get the impression that we haven't been working on the new car. We did manage to get the doors and fenders prepped and primed almost to the point of top coat. They also got hung in their final position which really makes us proud to see the car looking like a car. (albeit a funny one) There has also been extensive body work voodoo performed to make our Frankenwagon quarters look presentable when they have shiny paint on them. There is still plenty of panel massaging ahead of us but we feel like we're making headway and still hope to have some shakedown runs by the Fall.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fun with Fire-up

Especially when it comes to scorching all of Chris' eye brows off. The car sounds like a fried turd in this clip but has since been tuned and tweeked so it flashes with the twist of the key and sounds solid.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Alive!!

We transplanted El Chupacabra to Chris' shop the other day for the final segment of the build. Here we will do the finishing body work, hang the remaining panels, primer and paint followed by re-assembly. Sounds simple enough when you say it like that but in reality it's another monstrous shift to try to get us to the track as soon as humanly possible.

 Yesterday we finished up some loose end wiring and secured a couple of fuel fountains then fired her up. It was really gratifying to hear it run even though it was through stinky gas. Fire-up went reasonably smooth since this is basically a "broken in" motor with new heads on it. We pretty much hate the under car headers but until we can find time to build some fender wells we'll have to live with it. She even decided to lash out and burn Chris' eye lashes and eye brows with a bellowing back-fire in the form of a fire ball to the face. Don't wake up the baby Dragon!!
Videos to follow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In The Hole

Well we managed to finally get our our big block pushbutton 727 transmission from our friend and Wagons of Steel South team driver Mark Maez. Mark is a professional transmission builder out of Tacoma and usually builds strange and exotic transmissions but being a Mopar nut like us, he really knows the ins and outs of our beloved 727s. This is a seriously critical piece to our puzzle and not something that needs to get skimped on. While motors and diffs will inevitably explode and be used to keep boats from floating away, we hope that this unit will last a long time. Not that transmissions don't grenade on a regular basis but it's good to know that this one is starting with beefy new parts and should laugh in the face of our mild black-up mill. Mark also sold us a bitchin' high stall converter that is again designed for a way higher output motor but should work good with our lower HP 440 for starters.You're the man Mark!!!
Now that the "Super-Trans" is in the house we wasted no time mating it to our mule 440 and hanging it from the picker. We also went ahead and bolted our motor plate in place to see where it would line up for some custom brackets. The beefy aluminum motor plate is clearly engineered to accommodate dropping an RB engine into any application of vehicle so there was some pretty aggressive trimming to eliminate the "snow plow" affect.
We considered setting the engine back farther but without considerable fire wall mods we would only gain less than an inch so we opted to go with the factory mounting location...for now. Using some 1/4" angle iron, we welded brackets for the plate on the top of the front frame and bolted the plate to it. There was also some calculating for bolt-ons on the plate itself for things like the alternator and coil which will be fastened directly to plate. Then we hacked it up to fit our needs. It's pretty exiting for us to see a complete power train sitting in it's new home since the humble 318 Poly vacated the premises two years ago. The final outcome looks pretty outstanding I think and really brings a lot of elements together for the project.

 Just over a month remains until the first test & tune at Thunder Mtn. Will we make it? I do my best not to bet against my own horse so I say "Hell Yah!!"


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mule

We finally got down to business with our first test subject aka "The Black-up". This motor has been in the family for quite some time and has never received the respect that it deserves. It's basically a '77 truck motor that probably expected another year or so of faithful utilitarian duties before getting parked in a field and returning back to the Earth. Nothing could be further from the truth. A bunch of freakazoid gear heads picked it up and decided to stab it into their race car that had a wounded mill. It then got unceremoniously over carbureted and hauled to Spokane raceway where it was hot lapped until the main bearings fell away like cigarette paper. The black-up was then freshened with a forged crank and got stabbed into my Polara tow wagon to haul our 6000# race program to Mission raceway. This journey went swimmingly well for the first 3 1/2 hours before the cam decided to seriously give up the ghost and break into three equal pieces. Pretty much one of the worst engine sounds I have ever heard. Back to the shop to be cleaned out and stored under a bench for several years.

Fast forward to the present day where these same group of hooligans are yet again in need of a big block to flog after spending all of their dough on building some whacked out altered wheelbase wagon. An injected 500+ inch monster will eventually live between her fenders but not this year. So for anyone who has ever built a race engine (or any engine for that matter) you know that cleanliness, preperation and a plan of action are key ingredients to making an internal combustion engine stay in one piece. I spent days getting everything ready and finally last night we put it all together. This will never be a serious horsepower machine at maybe 9:1 compression but we've got some good bolt-ons to scavenge every ounce of power to make this disrespected big block into a descent little (big) mill.

After some basic block prep we were ready to button up the bottom end. We added a crank scraper and a one way oil screen to keep things from getting too frothy down low and we topped (bottomed) it all off with the best stock pan in the collection with a weld-in steel oil baffle. Hello budget.

Next we moved onto the top end where we bolted on the mildly massaged 440source aluminum heads. These heads are a closed chamber design so should help out in the low compression department as well as having a nice flow characteristic and weight savings.

Finally, we topped off the evening by bolting on the low rise dual quad that we will also be testing. It's a dual plane design which is more of a street intake but it also houses two carbs so we'll see how it works out. We'll also be experimenting with a couple of 2" Offy spacers. Failing that we will probably just bring our M1 intake to the track with our old trusty 950 double pumper since an intake swap is only eight bolts.

Over-all a great evening of wrenching and since we were all still pretty wired we took it down to the pub for some live music, pool and libations. Damn, I have a good life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dashing Good Looks

We finally settled on a colour to off-set the Ivory on the body and wanted to showcase some of it in our interior. The dash originally had a pad on it so was full of holes for mounting it, plus there were other holes drilled throughout the top for speakers and the like. I set to work welding up these unwanted vacancies and then set to work laying body filler over the whole thing since it was pocked and marred by surface rust. Once that was looking nice and smooth I layed down some primer and went to work on the steering column, hood scoop and other dash related items giving them the same treatment. Since I ended up brushing on some of the single stage ivory paint in the interior with reasonably descent results I thought I would try this with the blue. Huge mistake!! It turned out looking like crap and I had to sand everything down to smooth again. What a total waste of time and energy. O.K. I'm over it.

Next we sprayed all of the now re-primed and paint ready items out at Chris' shop where we set up a makeshift spray booth. This time the blue went down like it should, showcasing a little micro-flake. Chris then went to work on his tendinitis by colour sanding and laying out some clear over the now smooth blue. It turned out great and today I got it all installed with the retro-fit guage cluster, steering column and current steering wheel plus a few other bolt-ons to make everything look like a real car. We're planning on using the heater panel to house some of our toggle switches and I still need to make a radio delete plate but it's all coming together nicely. I also cleaned and lubed the pushbutton shifter controls and they now operate free and easy with pinky pressure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Steering Contest

It took some engineering but we now have a fully operational and reasonably adjustable steering system. It is a cross steer system so it will most likely have a similar bump steer to the Dodge van that most of the parts came from but it won't be as bad as doing a near steer set-up. We messed with the toe angles for a while to get them in the ball park but caster has to be corrected via steel shims between the leaf packs and axle pads. This bit of fine tuning will take place on Chris' "space age technology" alignment rack back at Babe's Automotive. We checked out some factory steering box mounts from some of our other wrecks of the same era and decided that the mount that we designed was suitably over-built. The manual steering box came from a factory V8 '65 Valiant that I parted out a few years back. It's a standard ratio box and feels tight and responsive. We even managed to use the Valiant pitman arm in our design. One more necessary piece of the puzzle banged off. So lets see, it steers and stops. What's missing? Oh yah, go power!! That part will be ridiculously exciting and will be happening sooner than later. Or should I say sooner than body work. In case you haven't noticed I really don't care for body work, or dry wall for that matter. The results are rewarding but it's so boring.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stop Mocking Me!!

During the course of building a car from scratch you tend to do everything at least three times. Plan your attack, fabricate the parts, mock them up with surrounding parts to make sure everything jives then take it all apart for cleaning and paint. Finally when everything is completed and shiny it can all go together, hopefully for the last time. Here we are test fitting the our seriously modified fenders to make sure that we have clearance for our tires. Keeping in mind that the front end will lower an inch or two once we add 600+ pounds of big block to the equation. The other thing to consider in the nose dive effect that occurs when the brakes are applied hard at the end of the track. There are no interference issues for straight line action but the return road often comes up sooner than you'd like and is generally a pretty sharp corner. Keeping this in mind we decided to take a "safety slice" out of  the lower corners. We're also planning on eventually scoring some Super Cushion front tires which are about two inches taller than the existing fronts. Since I had the fenders in place it seemed silly not to test the bumper, grill support and grill. Additional mounting holes were required and it's nice to get them all drilled before final paint.Now take it apart and get to work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tick, Tick and Tick

Just banging things off the list in anticipation for Spring since the snow is receding every day. Now watch, it will snow a foot over night. Any-who, we completed the fuel system tonight, running 1/2" aluminum line from the fuel cell to the pump and filter and all the way up to the nifty aluminum fuel log that Chris constructed. Everyone is really happy that he's been practicing his aluminum welding. From there we will be running braided steel line with one regulator for each carb but not until the motor is in place.

We then moved on to stringing the cables for the emergency brake system. Why on Earth would you run an E-brake in a race car I find you asking. Well, when you tend to trailer your car for hundreds of miles in order to find one flat stretch of track, your car tends to bounce and wiggle along the way. Since the original E-brake worked perfectly it seemed a shame not to put it back in place, just a bit shorter since the rear axle now lives a foot forward.
After that we proceeded to fabricate mounts for our 90/10 front drag shocks, also from Calvert Racing but not adjustable like the rears. We'll have to clean up all the fresh welds then touch up the paint before mounting them for real. The list is getting shorter which means that I can no longer procrastinate doing body work. Kill me now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's a Roller

Well we finally got the car off of the rotisserie today after finishing the fuel line from cell to pump and up to the new fuel rail that resides on our inner fender, using 1/2" aluminum line. We also strung our heavy guage power wire from back to front and finished plumbing the brake system which we in turn bled.

Now it's actually starting to look like a car again and we're beginning to empty boxes of shiny new items which is always really exciting. We installed our Calvert Racing nine way adjustable shocks as well today and started building  some of our steering components. This will be our next big Wednesday mission. Until then I will continue to prep the doors, then move onto the fenders that appear to still require some clearancing. Here you can see the driver's fender mocked up and it almost contacts the tire. We don't plan on running these tiny fronts so bigger rubber will definitely have an interference fit.

Sausage Party

 Get your mind out of the gutter. Chris has been perfecting the art of homemade sausage making lately and I have been firing up my little Brinkman smoke'n'grill the past week or so since I discovered that our local hardware store has a stash of lump charcoal in their basement. It seemed like a no-brainer for a casual Sunday afternoon of wrenching. The outcome was spectacular with some whole seed wine mustard that I have been saving for just an occasion.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mad Progress

Back from holidays and ready to rumble. Though a few more days swimming in the Caribbean wouldn't have been the worst idea. Now that there is paint down on the car we can start bolting down some parts that have been shelved for a long time and free up some shop floor space.

  We got the front brake system including the line lock, master cylinder and wheel cylinders all plumbed in with new steel and flex lines. Finding replacement drums for our van axle was looking like a futile chore but we remembered that the drums from my '67 Polara were also 11" so Chris excavated them out of a snow bank and turned them up on his lathe. We'll get that all assembled next week.

Next we finished welding in the eight point roll bar so the car is officially safe and hard to get in and out of. The front straight axle assembly and rear axle housing with super stock springs are all mounted in place and I made some aluminum straps to mount the fuel cell.

Visualizing this car go down the track this Summer is seriously motivating the project along. At this point there are around a dozen sub-projects that are happening simultaneously to achieve the final goal. It seems a bit confusing at times but being able to check big items off the list feels good. Our next big goal is to see the car off the rotisserie as a rolling chassis. It won't be long now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

First Paint

I'm going on vacation to Jamaica tomorrow so we decided to pull out all the stops and try to lay down some final colour paint on the undercarriage, engine compartment, door jambs and interior. Getting to this stage has been frantic since there is always another patch to weld or more undercoat to chisel away but now that the paint has been applied there's no going back. (like we ever would) We prepped the shop as best we could with poly and buckets of water to soak down the floor in an attempt to minimize the dust. The in-floor heat just evaporated it in about ten minutes though. Regrettably, my poor exhaust fan was just not up to the task of keeping the fumes at bay so it was a fairly toxic environment to say the least.

 Chris laid down  the epoxy primer on Tues night and it pretty much went on like tarry undercoat. This morning I woke up with the birds and spent a good five hour shift spraying on two heavy coats of Chrysler Ivory off-white for some fairly descent coverage. Having the rotisserie is a real bonus for this kind of work and really allows access to every angle.

When I get back everything will be nice and cured so we can start plumbing in the fuel system and all of the brake lines. There is still a ton of body work in our future but being able to start putting new parts on the freshly painted carcass is awesome.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheater Slicks

We just got our brand new cheater slicks from Hurst racing and they look killer!! Hurst racing is owned by a father/son team out of Oregon City that reproduce nostalgia racing rubber for hyper-enthusiasts like us. They are a small operation that treat every customer individually with professionalism and pride of craftsmanship. I spoke with the son Cody on the phone for nearly an hour and he turns out to also be a hard core Mopar dude. He comes by it honestly and told me the tale of how he was actually conceived in the back of a '64 nine passenger Polara wagon. We have no choice but to like him. Cody set us up with a set of pie crust 30x10x15 radial slicks, he threw in the cheater grooves and double buffed the sidewalls so you can't see the lettering from the donor carcasses.

We went ahead and painted up out 15x8 cop wheels with a twist on the traditional pie slice paint on black or half black and half body colour. The decision was made to do two opposing  pie slices to look something like an hour glass. I think the effect is achieved, now I can't wait to mount them on the car. It's little milestones like this that really help to push the motivation factor up. Seeing all of the pieces come together and eventually go to their respective homes on the car will be really gratifying.