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Projects My 53 Build,

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Harris, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Well, I've finally come far enough in my build that it's time for a build thread! I picked up this sweet little '53 Chevy around two years ago, spent a long time collecting parts, and in between work/school/life really haven't had much progress to report.

    That is until recently... Got to hear the motor running for the first time on Friday and haven't been able to get the grin off my face since! For all those guys who are stalled out or burned out on a project (like I had been) there's nothing like a minor victory to help keep you in the fight!

    So, here's the build thread on the Understated Pain In the Ass (temporary name until I can find one more befitting of the hell this car has put me through)

    Started in the spring of 2010 with a craiglist find - pretty much rust free 1953 Chevrolet 2 door - "running" 235 with power glide. Needed a patch panel for the passenger floorboard, and theres a few nickel sized spots of rust - PERFECT starter material! Not too shabby for $2500.

    Planed to do a quick and easy motor swap, get her cleaned up and try to make the LRU - still hasn't happened, but hey that WAS the plan.

    Here she is as I got her - please pardon some of the pics - some were taken with phone others with camera
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  2. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Never uploaded a video, but lets see if this will work

    http://youtu.be/8nFHqMIFwns

    hopefully thats the vid of the original motor starting up, hey I was a happy man! When I picked her up the PO told me reverse didn't work - turned out it worked fine after I hacked up the transtunnel to allow clearance for the three speed shifter the PO had incorrectly installed.

    After the initial purchase funds were really low so had to stick with low buck repairs/mods. First order of business was to try and clean up 50+ years worth of crap on the interior.

    Then I got the misguided impression that I should tackle some bodywork and started on smoothing out the hood - not the hardest thing I've ever done, but n=far from the easiest. I think it turned out pretty damn good...
     

    Attached Files:

  3. kuztomklaus
    Joined: Apr 28, 2004
    Posts: 1,230

    kuztomklaus
    Member

    Congrats on your '53 with '54 grill and taillights. She looks like a solid one. Looking foreward to more pictures.
    Klaus
     
  4. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Around this time I began searching for a suitable engine - yes the 235 "ran" but I was worried about having enough power to cruise comfortably on the highways. I knew in advance that I didn't want a SBC - I just had to be different...

    Found a guy here on the classifieds, A31ModelA - great guy and only a few hours away with a complete 76 Caddy 500 w/transmission - he said it was running when pulled and hey for $250 and the ride it was all mine!

    Now I'll admit she wasn't much to look at, but the idea of cruising around with 400+ ft lbs kinda made me smile....

    So first I tore into the transmission - rebuild kit and shift kit (lots of help from the HAMB and my buddy Joe)
     
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  5. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Ok, having issues with pics... stand by for continuation of build!
     
  6. kuztomklaus
    Joined: Apr 28, 2004
    Posts: 1,230

    kuztomklaus
    Member

    Mmmmmm! 500ci in there. It's gonna be tight, but it's very doable:)
     
  7. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Ok, photos all on photo bucket, Mods - if they're too large please feel free to resize them.

    Here's the motor/trans combo as I got them:
    [​IMG]

    Transmission after a little bit of love and money...
    [​IMG]

    Motor about to be cleaned up...
    [​IMG]

    Motor tear down...
    [​IMG]

    New Cam, used carb (more on that later), new water pump, new timing chain, new ignition (more on that later) - and here she is in all her purty glory. This was of course BEFORE the 3 different fuel pumps! Couple cans of spray paint later.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Still waiting on funds for the valve covers!
     
  8. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    So, now I've got my engine and trans all buttoned up, time to take the old girl over to my buddies shop (little more room than my 1 car garage, and he's got a whole helluva lot more tools than I do!

    [​IMG]

    Engine compartment before:
    [​IMG]

    And after:
    [​IMG]

    A shot of my buddy making careful and precise use of his plasma cutter so that we can every so gently CRAM that huge bitch of a motor in...
    [​IMG]

    Well, she's in...
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Oops, got a little bit ahead of myself there, but at one point I was broke (WOW what a surprise!) but wanted to move ahead with the work, so out came the rustoleum and a roller! Not kidding, but not looking for everyone's bitching about my paint choice - I had lots of time, just no funds...

    Laying on God only knows which layer...
    [​IMG]

    Say what you want, but the shine off the finished job even had me shocked!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    kuztomklaus - doable - just barely, but after who knows how many days and nights of fitment problems she's in there to stay, and doesn't really have too many clearance issues!
     
  11. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    And just so everyone knows, sold the original drivetrain to a fellow HAMBer so he could get his ride up and going!
     
  12. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Thanks again to the HAMB classifieds I was able to pick up a Gennie Shifter for the TH400!

    And another friends perseverance really paid off and we got a couple of shifter knobs custom made from Liesure himself!
    [​IMG]

    Another Craigslist score got me a GM 10 bolt with 3.73's and a posh for a whopping $80! So, back over to the buddies shop and up on the lift she goes!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Yes I know I'm off center a bit, but it doesn't bother me enough to justify doing it over again!
    [​IMG]

    Oh yeah, interior shot after cramming motor/tranny in...
    [​IMG]
    Yes the motor rides high, but it was the only way to clear the steering/suspension. Plus it'll help when I try to get this to peek thru the hood - just a little bit...
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Ok, fast-forward to late Feb. 2012, decided to thrash on the '53 to get her up to Austin for the roundup! Simple enough plan, get motor running, install torque converter, wire everything, buy and install driveshaft, install radiator, make an alternator mount... seems simple enough. Boy was I wrong!

    Hopefully here's the video to the first of many failed attempts at starting the motor:
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PNYEGExTkpw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    If not then here's the link:
    http://youtu.be/PNYEGExTkpw?hd=1

    Well, first the starter went out (the only part that wasn't brand new of course). Then while trying to start her the electric fuel pump we were using burned out - luckily the local Advanced had one - so mocked it up, hey whattya know, fuel leak - the entire gas tank raining fuel! Ok, try and start it using alternate supply and found the NEW fuel pump was dead on arrival!

    Went thru another store and finally got a fuel pump that works!
     
  14. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    At this point I decide let the motor stand for a while, replace entire fuel system - from tank to pump! While I've got her up in the air I figured I'd install the front disc swap and new master cal and all new brake lines.

    After completing the brake lines found my buddies flaring tool was bad and every single flare was also bad! ok, move from negative to positive I ordered my driveshaft:
    [​IMG]

    Tried to fire engine again - and again failed miserably! Wanted to load video, but can't find it - anyway it was quite entertaining setting myself, my buddy, his trailer, and the floor of his shop on fire!

    Bad Carb - last time I buy one used off Evilbay... lesson learned! New sexy arrived....
    [​IMG]

    Demon 725, was a bit skeptical given the mixed reviews, but price was amazing so I figured what the hell, gonna cover it up anyway!
     
  15. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    At this point I've got 4 weeks to Roundup, brake fluid everywhere, motor that won't run, and no wiring... and my buddy going on vacation with his family! I talk with a local shop that does hotrods in my town and the owner says he can do all the work I have on my list, have her on the road in 2 weeks all for $600. Sure I say! that'll even give me time to get the exhaust done before I leave!



    Yes, I'm a fool.


    Fast forward to three weeks AFTER the roundup and he finally starts working on my '53.... oh wait, he's never installed a Rebel wiring kit before (all 9 circuits) and just the install of the wiring's "gonna cost you $700" ! HELL NO! I can do wiring, I tell the guy just to keep on with the mechanics, I'll do the electrical afterwards!
     
  16. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    So this past Friday I receive a frantic call with the mechanic telling me to get over to the shop!

    Here she is in all her glory (sorry for the crappy quality, but I only had my phone on me). Didn't want to run her too long since the cam still needs broken in!
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VbjvCx16g-g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Haven't stopped smiling since! Videos only about 11 seconds long, and I've spent at least an hour watching it!
     
  17. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

  18. 31-5window
    Joined: Aug 19, 2007
    Posts: 217

    31-5window
    Member
    from Michigan

    Lookin good man!! keep posting the pictures
     
  19. A31ModelA
    Joined: Oct 13, 2006
    Posts: 1,004

    A31ModelA
    Member

    Boy she sure looks pretty now.. Far cry from that disgusting Orange huh? Hey don't lose my lift plate. lol That is my favorite one. :)~ She sure is looking good.. I am really glad you could get her going.. Hey Whats the deal with the Flat head (cough cough i need one) lol hehehe


     
  20. Smokey2
    Joined: Jan 11, 2011
    Posts: 908

    Smokey2
    Member

    Harris,
    If It were'nt fer Bad Luck,


    .............You'd Have No Luck At ALL !

    Me '53.........The more I work onit,
    tha' worser it gets . Smile, an Keep
    On Keepin' On !

    Smoked up, In tha' Great Smokey Mts. of 10-E-Cee :eek:
     
  21. Boones
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 9,445

    Boones
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Kent, Wa

    Harris, now do a cherry red rattle can job on the body of the car and you got a coupe version of my wagon.. shiny white on top, splotchy red bottom..
     
  22. Brog
    Joined: Jul 7, 2011
    Posts: 208

    Brog
    Member

    Looks gorgeous, that motor is golden!!!!! (no pun intended)

    I'm planning on doing a similar build once my truck is done, subscribing to this one
     
  23. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Sorry Boones, I'm pretty set on painting the body a light tan color. You can see the paint test of the drivers side in one or two of the pics.
     
  24. EnragedHawk
    Joined: Jun 17, 2009
    Posts: 866

    EnragedHawk
    Member
    from Waco, TX

    Sweet! I like the 54' tail lights on there, I was never a fan of the 53's. I can't get over the roller paint job on the roof, it looks awesome! I'm digging the Caddy engine too.
     
  25. firengine103
    Joined: Oct 7, 2004
    Posts: 616

    firengine103
    Member

    Remember the 343! Retired FD, 53 Chevrolet Club Coupe
     
  26. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Actually gave the 343 to a buddy as a retirement gift!

    Enragedhawk- thanks man, that roof took quite a bit of work, and don't let anyone tell you $50, by the time I was done I had around $125 in it. Of course most of that was due to my own trial and error. Only used the roller for the first 4 coats and the last 2. For the other 5-6 coats I used a cheapie china freight spray gun. Worked well but the coats were too light. Of course using the gun I was able to lay down 2 coats a day!
     
  27. chopperwolf
    Joined: Dec 10, 2010
    Posts: 61

    chopperwolf
    Member

    Looks great Harris. I've got your old motor up and running, put an offy intake and dual carb set up. Just starting on the brakes now. A buddy of mine and I had stopped working on our rides since we knew they weren't gonna be ready for the Round up, and got to work on his Dad's 56 more door hard top, so we could have a car for the show. Been working on the 53 since we got back. Keep us posted. Subscribing.
    Rick
    343, We'll never forget.
     
  28. mrconcdid
    Joined: Aug 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,051

    mrconcdid
    Member
    from Florida

    Love those 53/54 chevys
    If you you care to see how I put my caddy motor in my 53 check out my build thred I ran into alot of the same issues, would be glad to answer any questions. link in my signiture below

    Looking very nice so far

    Godspeed
    MrC.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  29. Harris
    Joined: Feb 15, 2007
    Posts: 881

    Harris
    Member

    Damn MrC, I went through your build thread and had flashbacks! I really didn't want to recess my firewall that's why reads the motor, plus I can't wait to see that scoop poking up through the hood.

    I do have to ask how was your drive with all that power I can't wait to find out for myself?
     
  30. 45_70Sharps
    Joined: May 19, 2010
    Posts: 297

    45_70Sharps
    Member

    Awesome build you've got going.
    I've thought about a 472 or 500 in my 54. No idea what I'm going to do yet.
    I'm just going to get mine going stock while I get the body in order and build a supply of cash to upgrade the power and suspension.
     

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