Hydroboost brakes

My brake set up after the restoration was an angled 8" dual booster, a 1" bore cast iron master cylinder with the clevis pin one inch lower on the pedal to improve pedal ratio, 70's big single piston caliper discs up front and 11" Ford drums on the 9" rear axle.

After driving this car with manual brakes for 20 odd years the new power brakes seemed OK but they were not as good as I was expecting. I decided to keep a casual eye out for a second hand Hydroboost unit, luckily one came up on ebay the same week. The kits that are available appeared to be ridiculously expensive so I looked for a cheaper route.

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Removing my old booster

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Ebay Hydroboost with Astro mounting plate

I'd looked on Rockauto and you can get these boosters really cheap at just over $100 but I'd read that they may not come with the master cylinder push rod which are not readily available so I decided to stick with a complete second hand booster. These are the ones to look out for:

Vehicle: Chevy Astro 1990 – 1993
Description: Flat mounting plate with studs that go thru the firewall.
Master cylinder: Mounting hole spacing 3 3/8
Pedal rod length: 6” from mounting face
Pedal rod hole size: ½”
Port H-boost - box 16mm-1.5 (Areoquip adapter FBM2608)
Port H-boost - pump 18mm-1.5 (Areoquip adapter FBM2609)

Vehicle: Chevy Astro 1994 – 1995
Description: Flat mounting plate with studs that go thru the firewall.
Master cylinder: Mounting hole spacing 3 3/8
Pedal rod length: 6” from mounting face
Pedal rod hole size: 5/8”
Port H-boost - box 16mm-1.5 (Areoquip adapter FBM2608)
Port H-boost - pump 18mm-1.5 (Areoquip adapter FBM2609)

My ebay booster came off a low mileage 94 Astro in the UK and was bought for £45, I'd seen others advertised in the UK but they wanted £100 - £150!

First job was to media blast and cut the old pedal rod, cut a new thread and fit the clevis bracket, the old 57 bracket was just the right size.

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I could have used the original Astro mounting plate by welding up and moving the mounting holes but I'd seen some neater solutions online so I copied the shape and worked out my own mounting plate.

My first paper template was a touch wide, a bit of adjustment to the drawing in Adobe Illustrator and the design file was ready to be sent off to be laser cut. I can supply these to order in mild steel or stainless.

I swung the unit upside down so that the reservoir was out of the way of the way of the rocker covers on the opposite side. A dimple on the mounting plate holds the booster in the correct position. I also had to grind a little off the bulkhead hole to clear the big mounting plate to booster nut.

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I went for 6mm stainless which took about an hour and a half to shine up, hopefully that'll be the last piece of stainless I have to polish on this car.

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A lick of paint and it's ready to go. These boosters can differ, some have a long master cylinder push rod for deep bore master cylinders and some have a short push rod. This one's a short push rod, another thing to check before buying the right master cylinder. I was trying to be clever by having a stainless "U" shaped junction on the return line hose, it turned out that due to the "U" shape the steering box return hose put back pressure on the hydroboost return line but more on that in a minute.

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After doing a whole bunch of research it would seem that with my disc/drum combination a 1.25" master cylinder with the push rod on the original 57 pedal hole is the way to go. The best reference I found for your master cylinder options is here. I went for the 70's Camaro option which turned out to be spot on. I found this to be ridiculously cheap at £20 on ebay and came from here, only $16 to ship which took a week and no import charges!

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My booster came with the original master cylinder and I noticed that the booster push rod had a couple of mm pre-load on the master cylinder. My new M/C had a touch more than this so I trimmed the push rod to match.

The inlet and outlet port AN6 adaptors are available here, top service from those people.

My AN6 pressure hoses were made by Think automotive, always top service and highly recommended.

The outlet port has an odd 5/16" barb fitting, AN6 versions of this are available here. They also have an ebay shop.

With everything hooked up it was time to fire her up and bleed the system, instructions are here.

Another buttock clenching moment gingerly edging out of the garage into a busy road with new brakes but all seemed OK but the slightest touch on the brakes nearly sent me through the windscreen. Even worse was the fact that the pedal was slow to return and the brakes dragged for a couple of seconds after releasing the pedal. With a bit more research I found that this is a common problem on hydroboost conversions and is usually due to a return line flow restriction. The original return hose barb fitting had a tiny pin hole so I drilled this out to improve the flow. I also put a "T" junction into the steering box return line rather than my "U" shaped fitting. This solved the pedal return problem. I also read that the ideal is to have a separate return line from the hydroboost and the power steering box into a dual return power steering reservoir but that would have meant buying more parts.

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I'd read that with hydroboost the brakes can feel really odd until all the air has worked out of the system which they did.

Now I've been out for 50 odd miles the grabbiness has gone and I can't believe how good the brakes are. Along with power steering this counts as the biggest improvement I've made to the car, total cost for the change was about £140.

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57 years of the 57

Well this was the big one that spurred me on to get the car finished and we made it. What a cracking weekend it was and what a sight seeing Chevrolet's finest all lined up down the track. A credit to the hard work of the organisers and all those that made it.

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Night cruise

Me and Dave Meyer had a notion to have a night time cruise. A small gathering of Tri-Chevy's and a Buick set off from Chelsea bridge at 3am on a 25 mile cruise down the Kings Road, around West London, out to Heathrow ending up at Heston services. Apologies for forgetting all the names of those involved. I remember the two Dave's who planned the route, Mick, Lee and Lisa, a cracking time was had by all. Thanks and credit to Dave Meyer for the film at the bottom and the pic of our car.

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Thanks to Dave Meyer for this vid

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First Show

I'd sorted most of the initial teething problems and the sun was out so it was off to the Damn Yankees show at North Weald

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Problems

Finally on the road. I can't deny it was an unusual experience, it was a bit like when I first drove it around the block for the first time on East 22nd st in Tucson, Arizona. The car now looked even better than it did way back in 1989, I wish I could say the same for myself. Now with power steering, power brakes and a front sway bar it felt like a completely different car. After the initial euphoria and the first buttock clenching spin around the block I quickly encountered some problems, some worse than others.

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First problem I faced which turned out to be a big one was the steering box. It was a Delphi 600 gear modified with a couple of mounting plates to fit tri-fives. Apart from the 605 boxes this was the only thing available at the the time which sods law was just before the 500 boxes came out. It was pouring oil out of the top plate which turned out to be a duff 'o' ring. I couldn't quite get to it with the box in place so I ended up taking it out, lucky I did.

When I took the pitman shaft out a bearing race fell out. On closer inspection it was clear that the whole lower pitman shaft bearing was completely missing apart from the old bearing race. This was supposed to be a modified, remanufactured part proudly made in the USA, my arse. The original vendor was long gone, maybe they'd killed some people with their parts and are now hopefully festering in some unpleasant sweaty Jail.

After a day's research to find out what I had, I discovered the box was a modified Jeep Grand Cherokee unit. I found a power steering specialist in Grenwich who didn't bat an eyelid, had the parts in stock and fixed it in a day. Top service and highly recommended.

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Next problem was cooling, I'd fitted a 16" Maradyne puller fan from Speedway motors. It was correctly fitted and wired with a fused relay etc. and it lasted 40 miles. Utter garbage, don't touch Maradyne fans they are crap. I was guided towards 57 owner Graham over at Serck services for a replacement Spal Fan. They expertly modified my Ally rad to mount the fan and this worked fine so highly recommended. It was the end of August and surprisingly hot this year and I found that plodding around congested London that the fan was on nearly all the time. Although the setup worked OK I really wasn't happy about the fan being on all the time so I decided to go back to a mechanical fan.

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After some research on the ideal set up on the trifive.com forums I settled on a Derale 17" fan #17117 , Stewart stage 1 iron water pump EMP-12103, Hayden clutch fan #HDA-2747 and an aluminium fan shroud from Ecklers. Luckily we were in Florida at the end of August so I had Summit deliver to the villa and we picked up the fan shroud at the counter at Ecklers. The fan shroud needed a bit of a trim to clear the fan but it all works perfect, sits at 180-195 degrees on the move and just over 200 stuck in traffic. Blog2861 Blog2864

Next bother was a vigorous fuel leak from the sender unit gasket which really wasn't on as I'd filled the tank and tested it before I put it in. I didn't fancy seeing 10 years work going up in a raging inferno so this needed immediate attention by dropping the tank. Taking stuff off that I'd just put on was becoming tedious daily life.

The rubber sender unit gaskets they sent out at the time were really not fit for purpose. I hear Danchuck have finally got their act together on this and now supply cork gaskets. I couldn't wait for one from over there so a call to Gosnay's engineering in Romford tracked down some old cork gasket material. They sold me about 10 yards of the stuff for about ten bob, cheers lads.

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I took this opportunity to calibrate the tank sender by carfully filling the tank to exactly half full and bending the sender to suit the reading on the guage. This was a complete waste of time as it's a still gallons off a true reading. Shortly after I ran out of fuel on the M1 with a quarter of a tank showing on the guage! I'm not taking it back out again so I bought a matching red 10L petrol can for the boot. At least it doesn't leak anymore.

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First fireup

Crikey it's finally alive. Paul who used to own a '69 Ford Cougar joined me under the hood checking the fuel lines whilst my wife Helen was on the key and checking the oil pressure. After patiently putting up with this build over the years Helen was quite excited that it all worked. 

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Final checks

With the steering done I'd now run out of excuses not to fire this thing up. I'd checked it all over time and time again but I'd built the motor 8 years ago and was expecting an epic, youtube failure lurking around the corner.

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A proud moment, the first gallon of gasoline is poured. Time to check and invest in some new fire extinguishers.

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Alignment

After a day googling the subject I tackled the steering alignment initially using a laser level and string.

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It's the first time I'd used a bubble gauge. To get the wheel angle right I spotted my cam degree wheel hanging up in the garage. I'm not planning on degreeing any more cams in the near future so it was quickly modified into a wheel angle plate. I'd made some notes on how many shims were on the suspension before I took it apart but according to the guage it was a now a mile off. I started from scratch again with the A-arm shims. Turned out when it was finally on the road it feels and handles spot on, I will get it checked on the computer alignment at some point.

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Interior

I started with the headliner and the first job was soundproofing. There's a ton of bewildering online advice about soundproofing products, some are cheap, some ridiculously expensive. I went for silent coat which seemed to get good reviews and was cheaper than Dynamat.
The vinyl headliner had been rolled up in the loft for eight years so looked a right mess when it was first hung, I warmed it up then just left it hanging for a few days to let it loosen up.
It took a couple of days to get it in this state repeatedly heating it up with a heat gun and re stapling over and over again. The staples didn't want to stay in the new tack strip.
All done, the last of the interior stainless was polished and fitted which wasn't easy. I should have trial fitted all the stainless and made the holes before fitting the headliner.
Now having two kids meant that 3 point seatbelts were now an essential feature. The back ones were straightforward enough but what to do for the front belts in a two door coupe? I initially thought I could make do with lap belts but I'd watched a depressing documentary about the history of car safety development in the US. This featured a section about 50's cars, a detailed and disturbing account of the carnage that the steering column and steel dash could inflict on the human body. Apparently the glove box doors were perfect for removing knee caps. One way or another I decided inertia reels had to be the way to go in the front too. The neatest solution I found was in Australia! John had worked out this solution. I modified this slightly, measured up and ordered a set from Quickfit just up the road in Stanmore. With swanky chrome fittings these were very expensive but it is very high quality kit and looks the part. Once I got around to fitting them they did need some alterations. Quickfit made the changes while I waited and free of charge, top service and highly recommended.
The fronts were tricky, the hardest part was routing the belts though the modified rear arm rests. I welded up the ash tray holes and cut a thin slot for the belts.
It's not a perfect solution as the belt routes up to the shoulder but it's less than a 45 degree angle, they work well and are substantially safer than lap belts.
On top of a layer of silent coat I used this to keep the racket from the 383 down so I could stand a chance of hearing the Retrosound radio.
I'd painted the seat hardware way back so it was good to unwrap those and get them back on the seat.
The seat shells were a sod to cover, how Ciadella do these without getting any creases on the corners I don't know. I gather they are shooting a tutorial on how to cover these and can now also supply softer vinyl material to help but it's too late for me. I'll be interested to see how they do it.
I demolished some of the door card pins whilst trying to put those on. They didn't line up with the slots in the doors so I had to order more pins from the US which took 10 days. I then carefully marked where they should be and glued some new ones on the cards, another example of repro stuff that doesn't fit.
I had a repro rubber mat for the trunk carefully rolled and stored in the loft for a few years. When I brought it down it completely fell apart so that was one of the worst repro parts I've ever had the misfortune to waste money on. Luckily I'd bought a trunk carpet from Ciadella which matches the interior so in that went along with the new spare tyre and restored jack. The whitewall radial won't fit in the wheel recess unless the tyre's flat! Looks like I need to keep a foot pump in there too.
With the seats in the interior was pretty much finished and also freed up a lot of storage space in the garage.
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Odds ‘n’ sods

I finished the dash by installing a Retrosound radio as these had good reviews and they have a bezel and knobs that look like the original. These were on sale at Moss Europe at the time so I snapped one up and ordered the bezel and knobs from Jegs as they were cheaper. It also has a separate SD card, USB reader and ipod jack input which I hid away in the glove box. I optimistically wired it all up and turned it on expecting great things, it sounded shite. Any volume setting above number 15 was met with horrific distortion. After much deliberation, emails and lost hours with my head stuck under the dash the problem was tracked down to the redundant rear speaker connections touching behind the unit. Once I'd sealed these off the sound was marvellous. Well I say marvellous but the old rockabilly that I mostly listen to sounds pretty rough even on the finest equipment.
With the engine bay pretty much finished it was time to put the fenders on, they were a nightmare to line up with the cowl and the doors.
I'd always struggled with the hood hinge to fender brace flapping around and scratching the paint which always struck me as a useless design flaw on the 57. I made a couple of simple stainless plates to cure this.
The doors at the front are a bit too far out on the cowl so I'll try and adjust these in a touch, along with the the fenders. I'll do this when the cars finished when it's out the garage and I've got room to open the doors wide to get to the bolts.
We've got a small trailer for our camping kit so needed a tow bar. After a google search I didn't find any solution that I was realy keen on for the 57. The answer was sitting on our daily car, our 2006 Dodge Magnum R/T has a vertical receiver hitch that is hidden behind the plastic bumper so hats off to Mopar for that. I made one up in similar fashion which you can't see when the ball mount's not fitted.
This shot features my homemade car dollies, they came in very useful.
With the bumper on you can only just see the receiver
I picked up my one piece front bumper from Vehicle and General who are highly recommended. It has a couple of thin patches where it's a touch yellow so it'll go back at some point but it's fine for now and it's now on the car so it's staying put.
More shiny stuff to put on, I'd suddenly started to get some more shelf space in the garage.
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Glass & side trim

Most of the original glass was de-laminated and shot to bits so another trip to Russ Pepper to pick up a new set. I wobbled between the grey tint or green for a while but went for the green in the end as this seems to suit the red and has a more classic look. After a bit of homework on Chevytalk.com I picked up the correct width of glass setting tape on ebay and tackled the re-chromed side frames. I'd had them chromed years ago at the London chroming company, they were jaw droppingly expensive and not that great quality so I won't be going back there again. The vent windows were the hardest as the frames were a bit distorted.
I was worried about the screen rubbers as they'd been sitting in the loft for 8 years, they seemed OK on a trial fit. Another UK tri-Chevy owner is an expert on Chevy glass, he kindly took a day of his time to come over and put the front and rear screens in. A big thanks again fella, I would have really struggled to do it myself.
I spent a boring day fitting the headliner tack strips, best way I could see of doing this was to screw them in.
The stainless trim on the rear glass was a nightmare, one length is slightly distorted but it's in there and it'll have to do.
So good to get the side glass in and some shiny stuff on there. Aligning the side glass is a dreary slog, I still haven't got it spot on as the vertical rear quarter window seal drags on the front door glass. No idea how to stop that, a temporary fix was to trim the seals back with a scalpel. The door flippers needed no end of adjustment to get the things to work properly.
The door vent stainless was a really tight fit on the front cowl. I blame the new door skins, I should have trial fitted all the stainless before welding the door skins in place as I had to grind metal off painted doors to get everything to fit, nightmare. I was proud of the door vent stainless restoration as these had been badly damaged in the US when someone must have tried to break the vent window open with a screwdriver.
New quarter inserts are a serious investment at over $500 a pair but are fabulous reproductions. My original old lower rear quarter trim was beyond repair as in my youth I'd managed to muller them on various gate posts over the years.
The finish on the repro side stainless isn't great and they all needed a polish, they're also thinner than the original so wherever I could I used the original pieces. k
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Interior – Seats

I'd recovered the seats about 22 years ago when I first bought the car and didn't have too much bother at the time as I'd left all the original padding in place. This was now all in a shoddy state so everything needed to stripped off. A lot of the drivers seat springs were broken so they were repaired and off they went to the shot blasters. They then had a coat of satin black which didn't do much for the lawn.
I'd bought a complete interior kit from Ciadella interiors in Phoenix AZ. Their interiors are outstanding and highly recommended, Gina is the one to talk to and is very helpful. Don't believe that Youtube comparison of Ciadella versus Cars Inc. interiors it's nonsense. I had my kit shipped back via New Jersey by Russ Pepper at R+R Imports. Russ is a great, reliable bloke to deal with and has shipped everything back that I needed that was too big or fragile to ship by USPS. I'd carefully photographed everything as I took the car apart so first job was to replicate the Hessian support.
I'd also bought the two different densities of foam from Ciadella but I expect you could match and get this cheaper in the UK. I stuck this down with spray upholstery glue off ebay which worked really well.
Front seat half done, using new foams I found the whole interior a very, very tight to fit, I also found a few new muscles. Ciadella have some good interior fitting videos here. Silicon spray on the foam and inside the covers really helped get them on, I also used some proper hog ring pliers.
My wife Helen got the sewing machine out to replicate some of the hessian details, these bits are never to be seen again but I thought they might as well be done right.
The back seat back was the hardest to fit, those 90 degree corners were a sod. I did manage to break the thread on a couple of corners but Helen expertly re-stitched them through the existing holes so you'd never know. I must have measured the position of those button holes a dozen times before shoving them though.

I'd followed Ciadellas video on how to do the two seat backs and they made it look so easy, the reality is very different and I did struggle. Tricky bits were getting the foam on the top corners the right shape. Pulling the covers down to the bottom was a two hour wrestling match, lots of profanity again but I won in the end. With the benefit of hindsight I should have cut the holes for the rubber seat stoppers at this point but I didn't and had to find those buggers later. I don't think I could do vehicle upholstery for a living, it's too hard.

 

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Wiring

After plenty of research on www.chevytalk.com I bought an American Autowire classic update kit. It's hard to fault these kits as every wire is clearly labeled and the instructions are superb. There's also forum tech help if you have any questions along the way. I'd recommend you buy a proper terminal crimping tool and maybe some spare terminals as you don't get any spares. The only change I had to make to the kit was adding a fan relay, some anti theft trickery and changing the rear indicator circuit to add a tow bar socket. This is the main loom which was a bit daunting as a first timer to this kind thing.
The fuse panel goes in the same spot as the old one...
Not to be rushed at this stage, the point where wires need to be cut. I don't really want to see any of this stuff again so for good measure I soldered all the crimped terminals
I'd recommend you put the loom plug in the firewall before you re-fit the fender. I lost about a day trying to get this in with the fender on. After considerable profanity I gave up in the end and took the fender back off. This is the offending article...
I finished it all off with braided cover wrap and shrink tube on the ends.
I must admit I had a cracking time doing the wiring, especially the bits where my head wasn't stuffed up behind the dash.
The local model shop had some Humbrol satin black, white and dayglo paint to finish the clocks. I patiently stuck new odometer number decals on the dials with superglue and mastered the shuffle required to get the odometer back to zero for the first time in 57 years. My speedo bounced around all over the show before so I'm hoping that after oiling etc. this will be OK.
I'd planned some modest sounds for the car, just two decent speakers in a new pair of ABS kick panels. After a bit of googling I made some wooden enclosures which fitted OK and worked well although the speakers do touch the handbrake cable.
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Axle, steering, cooling

My Ford 9" rear axle housing needed centring so this went down to Zane Llewellyn at Zannetec. Zane did a cracking  job, very reasonably priced and also supplied a pair a strange axle shafts. Paul Mitchell over at GS Autos rebuilt the diff, Paul sadly passed away last year which was a shock, he was a great bloke who always had time to pass on knowledge.

After reading an Ecklers Classic Chevy guide several times I gingerly took the angle grinder to the steering column to modify the column gear change mechanism and length for the Delphi 600 steering box.
This conversion worked a treat but I used my own measurements before cutting down the column.
The problems I had were centring the steering box on the hole in the body, getting the steering shift column to shift smoothly in the column shift ring up at the top, also the horn wouldn't earth once the rag joint was in place. I later swopped the gear change linkage to a Lokar one which works really well.
With a big new ally radiator mounted in the 6 cylinder position for a bit more room I thought the 383 should run cool enough. Nothing fancy with a single speed fan mounted on a flat stainless sheet seemed like a tidy solution.
I wondered whether to mount the transmission cooler under the front slash pan but settled on the front of the rad. I liked the look of hard lines rather than braided hose so after a couple of attempts I got the bends right.
I got the propshaft back from Recoprop in Luton. The old prop was really dented and damaged so the simple brief was a) to shorten it and b) put a new tube on. They got the length right but used the old dented tube! They took another two weeks to put it right and another trip to Luton. It's not the first time they'd messed up on work for me, never again and not recommended.
The stainless tanks are superb, I'd fitted the sender and test filled it before it went on the car as I'd had problems with the sender mounting leaking in the past. Also, the filler tube 'O' ring between the tank and filler neck doesn't fill you with much confidence. With the tank on I discovered that the drivers side exhaust ran disturbingly close to the tank. I had visions of the whole rear end of the car including my family nuked in an epic fireball so the exhaust came off for about the sixth time to cut and re-route. Another example of parts that really don't fit and another day lost.
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Paint

I'm scarred for life when it comes to the paint. After much deliberation I thought I'd commissioned one of the best painters in the country to paint my 57. Despite my unswerving patience and diplomacy, three re-negotiations on price, multiple promises of completion dates he persistently failed to do anything to time frames and agreed budgets. Thinking back he only phoned me twice in all the time he had the car. In the end I cut my losses, went up there with a trailer and a couple of mates and took him by surprise and got my car back unfinished. All in all a painfull experience I've only just touched on here. Having owned classic cars over 25 years I though I could weed out the bad guys but clearly not, time to move on. Another body shop kindly took it on at very short notice which was good of them. They put paint on the rest of the car but failed to know how to get a panel straight and also didn't appear to know how to flat and polish a car properly so I did it myself. I finally found a paint shop to finish the front end properly. I wish I'd found these guy's earlier as they were only a couple of miles down the road in Hornsey N8. In my experience Vale Cottage Motors have been the only people that have done exactly what they said they would do to a very high standard, excellent work and a family owned business. Their spray booth isn't big enough to take a complete 57 but if you have a smaller car or just panels to paint I highly recommend them. Body only painted at this stage, at the time of this photograph I was guaranteed that the car would be finished within 2 months, not surprisingly it wasn't.
More of the car now painted at the second paint shop and on its way home.
Finally home after SIX years!
I set about flatting the paint with 2000 wet and dry, what a tedious job.
Buffed up a treat, happier days...
I've since managed to put a couple of scratches in this whilst putting the glass in.
The finish on the dash was rubbish so that needed doing again.
All the bolt on red stuff took ages, especially restoring the steering wheel which took about 4 days. Picked a hot sunny day to do these but had a job of keeping the wasps away.
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Body back on the frame

The main body was now straight and in primer and ready for having the firewall, dash and boot area painted before going back on the frame.
I'd gone through a phase of thinking I'd like the car in Turquoise. After much deliberation I plumped for red again but fancied a richer red than the "orangey" GM Matador red. After months at looking at red cars I'd narrowed it down to about 3, a Fiat, a Rover and a Morris red. After checking the three paint chips at the paint shop I ended up chosing a Honda flame red! I only made that decision after painting a spare 57 wing that I have in 4 shades of red.
It took me a whole day to get the body and door gaps right with it back on the frame. Even with all the welding sorted the 2 door hardtops bend all over the place when adjusting the body mount shims. I never did get the door gaps as good as when it was off the frame.
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100% Digital

I finally went 100% digital yesterday when I reluctantly gave away by last stock of Agfa Record Rapid paper, fabulous stuff back in the day. I guess the enlarger now needs to go too.
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Stainless restoration

Hi Folks, this one's a bit long-winded but I made a lot of mistakes on the stainless restoration early on so hope this helps someone going through the same thing.

I'd read the book "How to restore metal auto trim," spurred on by the fact that it had a 57 Chevy on the front cover dripping with fabulous shiny stainless. Dull reading indeed but armed with my new found knowledge I got stuck in to my 57's stainless with a vengeance. The books' techniques for getting out the dents worked fine for me but beyond that I quickly found that after many cock-ups, much profanity and near loss of limb using my amateur polishing kit I discovered some quicker methods that worked for me. Whether the same methods will work for you I really can't say but here goes.

Getting the dents out is pretty straightforward, lay the piece face down flat on a variety of shapes of wood and gently tap the dents out with various sizes of small, round ended metal rods. I never used a hammer direct on the piece as it's too hard to control where you are hitting. Work in a circle around the edge of the dent first, then work towards the centre.

INTERIOR TRIM DISTORTED ON THE SCREW HOLE AND COVERED IN SCRATCHES

Once it's as flat as flat is possible it's now time to work on the shiny side to get it straight. On a curved damaged area wrap some 120, or 180, or 240 grit paper around a curved piece of wood and with as FEW STROKES AS POSSIBLE get the stainless flat (as you would with body filler). This is initially very distressing to say the least as you are seriously messing up your stainless! The aim is to get the metal flat taking as little metal off as possible. This is about as hard as it gets, practice on some old parts but you'll find the original stainless is actually quite thick. If you tickle about using finer grit paper you won't get it flat. After much trial and error and a lot of hours wasted I would ONLY recommend you do grit sanding by hand on the complicated curved parts that may be damaged or have deep scratches. Using a DA sander WITH THE ORBITAL OFF from then on is the fastest ticket to shiny stainless. I found using coarse polishing mops and compounds through to finer ones tended to put more scratches in and painfully slow with amateur kit. On all the flatter parts like this, after tapping out any damage or dents I went straight to the air DA sander with the orbital OFF. Using as fine as possible DA sanding discs 120, 180, 240 (ideally 240) do a couple of passes ONLY over the repaired area to get it flat. Needless to say go at it too heavy and you've ruined your expensive trim. SOME 240 GRIT AROUND THE REPAIRED DIP ON THE RIGHT HALF, AND STARTING WITH 320 ON THE LEFT

Moving on, a 240 or ideally a 320 grit will swiftly get rid of any deep scratches on any piece. On a used straight part I always started with a 320 pad to get the worst scratches out first, tickling around with anything finer you're just wasting time. After 320 then move up to 400, then 600, then 800 over the whole length of the stainless. What I found is that as you move up through the finer grits moving in the opposite direction to the last, you can easily see any scratches disappear and at 600 grit you are starting to polish the part with the DA better that a coarse mop and polishing compound.

UP TO 600 AND STARTING TO POLISH THE PART WITH THE DA

Even on a couple of new repro side trims that I bought (which are thinner and not that great) I went over them starting with 600 to lose any flaws to get them as shiny as the rest. After 800 I finished off with 1000 pads which should leave it scratch free with a dull shiny finish. If you find the odd scratch still there it's a case of going back to the finest grit that will shift it and work back.

NEARLY THERE WITH 800 and 1000

Finally, I'd then buff to get a full shine with a loose mop and white compound. I've no idea what this compound is as I bought a huge brick of it 30 years ago at some car show but it works. After a good clean I'd finish them to a near chrome finish with another loose mop with blue compound.

FINAL BUFFING

It may seem nuts to scratch up your stainless with a DA but time and time again I found this much quicker than doing the same thing with various mops and compounds. A few more tips. I made a steel stand for the cheapo (but very reliable) Clarke polisher as I found it less messy polishing in the garden as the stuff gets everywhere. You'll get through a lot of DA discs, I found the velcro ones less prone to flying off, buy in bulk. Wearing leather gloves and proper safety kit is essential, polishing the long bits is especially dangerous.

In conclusion, if you can afford it get someone else to do it! I couldn't afford it and mine took weeks, I still can't believe just how much stainless is on a tri-chevy and how long it took. If you do choose to have a go it is tedious but the trauma eventually wears off when you start to bolt all that shiny stuff back on knowing that you did it. Hope this has been useful, any questions just ask. FINAL RESULT

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Chassis finished

With the frame now painted in 2K satin black it was another long round trip and a trailer rental to fetch it back to London. I'd bought a 3.25 ratio Ford big bearing 9" axle from a bloke up near Santa Pod. He'd fetched around 20 of them back back from the US East coast so I had a lot to choose from at £125 each. I found the old 3.55 ratio a bit revvy with the old 327 so I though the 3.25 would be about right with the 383, an overdrive box was out of my budget. I was so busy looking at axle ratios that I stupidly didn't notice that the gear case was too far offset on the width of the axle! I had to get this altered by Zane over at www.zannetec.com. He did a fine job at a much lower price that some other well known UK chassis works including two new Strange axle shafts. I used a couple of ratchet straps to pull the axle to the correct spring height to get the pinion angle right.
I'd sprayed the box sections with Dinitrol, I was in such a mess with this stuff that I didn't take any pictures. The headers had plenty of clearance at the steering box.
I had no end of trouble getting the exhaust to fit, this all had to come off again several times when the body went on. Another case of parts supposedly made for a 57 Chevy that must have been tailored on a completely different car.
Everything sorted for now. It was so good bolting clean shiny stuff together fo a change.
Time to take it all back to the paint shop, by now I'd sold the Chevy Tahoe and bought a Dodge Magnum Hemi. This was a lot more fun to drive but didn't have a tow bar so Scottie took it back up North for me. Great service, he looked after my pride and joy as if it was his own. It was great to see it rolling back on it's wheels. These are wider repro steels that clear disc brakes that have the dimples to hold the original hub caps. This is the stock look I was after.
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Bodywork begins

With the frame brackets and mounts all sorted it was taken back to the paint shop to be shot blasted and painted in epoxy primer and 2K satin black, the rotisserie came in handy again.
I was hoping the old doors would be OK with only minor rust in the corners, this inevitably turned out to be worse than it looked so new door skins were shipped over at crippling expense.
Floor pans were a sight to be seen at this point...
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