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TECH: Camaro Clip in your 58 chevy-in one day!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by LUX BLUE, Dec 15, 2006.

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  1. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    So, as alot of you know, I am a major supporter of the camaro clip swap into a chevy truck. I have threatened to Post a tech article on how truly easy it is more than once, and yesterday, it was time to do another. Cliff (57Firedome) recently picked up a pretty good example of a middle fiddies Chevy truck.-A 1958 Apache Delivery.
    [​IMG]

    The prep consisted of about an hour of measuring...
    wheelbase 115 inches
    rocker height 15 inches (yuck.)
    kingpin to floorboard-31 1/4 passenger,31 1/2 drivers side (something was bent!)
    distributor cap (from center of cap) to firewall-2 1/2 inches


    our first order of business was to remove the welded on front sheet meta, and the clapped out 307. since that is pretty standard stuff, and even a reasonably intelligent primate (such as myself) can figure it out without going to the manuals, I will skip the "gory detains. Yes, it involved a sawzall, and yes, is sucked. the entire thing was the aftermath of living with various welders for several years, so there was lots of this awesome work involved.
    [​IMG]

    so once all that was removed, we started by removing the "primary" crosmember- the one the bellhousing bolts to. since it was 6 peices of angle iron,2 peices of stainless 1/2 rod and the original crossmember all welded together, I opted to remove it via Gas Axe. nothing to save there. once it was removed, we trimmed out the Rivits for the rear spring perches and remainder of the crossmember with the torch and an air hammer.
    [​IMG]

    once we finished that step, we welded a chunk of schedule 40 across the framrails to stabilize it, and give us a place to put the jackstands.

    The "chunk O'pipe" is more important than it would seem, because without it, you can't move forward to the next step, which is where the real fun begins. I always start with cutting the steering tube and shaft off as close to the box as I can. after that, I cut immediately behind the box on the drivers side framerail, and immediately behind the bumpstop on the passenger side rail.
    [​IMG]

    after that, we clean up the bottoms of the truck frame, and the top of the camaro frame. no need to get all excited about complete cleanliness here, just bare metal to weld to.

    The next step is to weld up the front of the drivers side body support and remove the rivits that hold the clutch arm in place-these are cool looking, simple peices that could potentially make for a clutch pedal assembly on your hot rod, so don't torch 'em.
    [​IMG]

    Here is where I make my own changes to the chassis- I have never liked how far back the tire sits in the fenderwell on these trucks, so I lengthen the wheelbase 2 inches to better center the tire. this is established by using all the previous "length" measurments and adding 2 inches. however, it is a little tricky with the camaro clip because the way that modern independant suspension changes the caster angle-by moving the upper control arm around. measurments at the ball joints instead of the kingpins will screw you. what to do?

    use the shock mount holes instead-they are centered with the spindle. easy work from there on out.

    we made a template of the camaro clip (where the arch begins and ends) then establihed a measurment from the shock holes to the "ears" on the clip. (they would be the forward mounting holes for the camaro body) we then used the "ears" to place the frame. -knowing that amount of length is what makes it easy,because you now haveplaces to measure to and from that line up with one another.

    once we got the magic number (in our case,28 1/2 inches from the box to the shock holes) we placed the template and cut the rails-this time we cut a little forward of the template linea and followed it up with a grinder to ensure a clean weld.we then hoisted the clip into place and held it there with 4 monster c clamps so we could measure more-lots of "measure 23 times and cut/weld once" here.
    [​IMG]
    I also sawzalled the end of the shaft off at this point so it wouldn't stab me in the head...again. once we liked where it was sitting (it's pretty easy to get "side to side" set on these-the insides of both sets of framerails line up like someone thought this was supposed to happen- we welded the rails together.
    [​IMG]

    no super duty welder needed,by the way- you have a total of about 3 and a half feet of good solid weld on steel a little over 1/8 th on an inch thick on both sides of the weld. we used my little Miller 135xlt to avoid burning holes through it, and can say with no fear that it is held together better than either of the previous frames.

    the next part is easier than it should be. the Camaro clip's steering shaft lines up almost perfectly with the truck cab. problem is, there is n't a support bearing at the bottom on the column! soooo. you have to install one. after several different attempts at using roller bearings with the same inside diameter as the shaft and outside diameter as the tube (1 of which will always have to be changed,rest assured) I came across these little jewels-the bottom support bearing from a 69 chevy pickup. now, I know every one of you knows where somewhere there is a 67-73 chevy truck, I wouldn't think these are hard to find items, and they save about 4 hours of crap if you can get one-they look like this.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    the bearing part is waaay down at one end of it-which means it can be welded onto the tube without killing it. after that, I made a sleeve for the camaro side from some tubing I had laying around. 11/16th outside diameter, 3/4 inside diameter (roughly) pounded it into the stock camaro u-joint and welded it into place.

    after that, I shortened the steering shaft and slid it into the sleeve in the camaro shaft, ceneterd the wheels, centered the steering wheel and welded it together- I realize it makes for a p.i.t.a. if you want to remove it, but I feel better knowing it's welded construction.
    [​IMG]

    about the only thing I did to change the column is move it a bit farther away from the driver, and made it "pitch" more towards him-it has power steering,remember?- which is accomplished by moving the column "up" in it's mount hole. after that, you have to make a bracket to stabilize the bottom of the column, but since anyone that is gonna do this will have a different take on how to do it , I will leave it to them. but aside from that, it's done.

    I will post soon on how to fit the front tinwork (again, incredibly easy work) and motor install soon.

    Enjoy!
     
  2. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,053

    40Standard
    Member
    from Indy

    thanks for the tech. i guess the same would be good for the 55-57 chevy pick-up?
     
  3. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 5,725

    Gotgas
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from DFW USA

    Nice.

    How much can you expect this to drop the nose?

    Also, if '57 Firedome knows of any '57-58 DeSoto 2dr hardtops, have him give me a call. :D
     
  4. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    yep. I think the chassis is the same for a couple of years earlier than that,too.
     
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  5. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    forgot about that-this interchange, with uncut springs is worth about SEVEN INCHES- and your oil pans are are still at "drive me over a cinderblock" height. (The bumper,however is a different story.:D )
     
  6. speedaddict
    Joined: Sep 28, 2002
    Posts: 2,399

    speedaddict
    Member
    from Austin, Tx

    is the 60-87 truck front end measurements way off so the camaro is better to use?
     
  7. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    ??
    the "bolt on independant" truck front end is about twice as difficult to install- and mounting the box is a BITCH. (they work for a while, but tend to tear the framerail out) not to mention that to get this low requires about 5 times the outlay in cash-dropped springs, dropped spindles, shorter shocks, the works- and in the end, it rides like a covered wagon.

    with the camaro clip, you still have the options for all of the above-and it will still corner and ride nice-7 inches with a "factory" feel is a nice touch. and simple parts get it even lower easy-2 more inches in a spindle drop means 9 inches total-when combined with a shortish tire, the rockers are at that point like 3 inches from the ground-but the crossmember is still sitting nearly stock.

    and if you wanna get really low, airbags on the truck frame still wont go as low as bags on the camaro frame- and the camber isn't as excessive when aired out, either.
     
  8. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 26,537

    squirrel
    Member

    mostly, the wheel openings in the fenders are shaped a bit differently so you may not want to lengthen the wheelbase so much as you would on a 58-59.

    the reason you have to move the wheels forward on the 58-59 is because of the shape of the wheel opening, it's straight up and down at the front and angled at the back, so when you move the wheel up relative to the opening, it appears to also move back. hard to explain, easy to see if you put a fender over a tire/wheel and move it up and down.
     
  9. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,984

    fab32
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks for posting this. I've done several of these and as much as people rag on frame clips in certain situations they make a lot of sense. I did my first one back in 1980 I believe. it was on a dare and I had never seen it done. The install is still on the road, 3 owners later, and about 100,000 miles. the first engine was a 396 followed by a 454 and now it's got a 350 tuneport. The last install required a slight spring chop to bring the nose back down.

    Frank
     
  10. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    I can see what you are saying. The Camaro clip is a great thing in the RIGHT application. That said, there are plenty of WRONG applications as well.

    This one is easy...my starfire was HARD.
     
  11. speedaddict
    Joined: Sep 28, 2002
    Posts: 2,399

    speedaddict
    Member
    from Austin, Tx

    lower...i like lower...which one did you guys do awhile back that was a pain...the starfire??
     
  12. buzzard
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 4,329

    buzzard
    Alliance Member

    Has Cliffy been by to see it? I'll swing by tomorrow to check it out.

    Weird thing is, I'm more impressed that you goons can work a camera than I am the actual clip swap.
     
  13. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    yeah...I built it in such a fashion to get it as low as possible...with stock suspension height and a good scrub radius.

    The one that was a son of a bitch was converting a stock 58 box to a power steering box. it took almost 3 days. fun stuff too, like having to install side motor mounts, change the exhaust, 4 or 5 trips to the junkyard, and the end effect?

    it was a tiny ,itty bitty bit easier to turn.

    my official standpoint on ever,EVER doing that conversion again is simply...

    FUCK that.:D
     
  14. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    I do have opposable thumbs, you know. and I keep at least one of them out of my nose.

    Clif is standing behind me. he's real excited-I know because he rewarded me with 4 pouches of malasian coffee.
     
  15. Thanks for posting this up, finally we got it in picture format. After the many many discussions. The one I did was so simple, and went so fast, but it was before I had a digicam.

    Squirel is absolutely right about moving the wheelbase out at least 1/2 if not a full inch to more center the wheel in the wheel opening of the '55-59 trucks. Otherwise the wheel looks to far back in the opening. Don't ask how I know.
     
  16. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 14,897

    Roothawg
    Member

    Hey Lux, do you have a pic afetr it is finished? I have a 58 Apache that I have to do soon.
     
  17. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    Sheesh!
    I just did it yesterday (well, day before...) gimmie a minnit,mains!

    actually, I still need to get the rear axle flipped, wheels that don't lok like kaka, and 2 of the same sized tires up front. and I need a motor and trans for it. My "mock up" chreefiddy ain't got no guts!

    so in other words...right now it is only like 5 inches lower due to no weight in the subframe. if the light gets better, I will throw the tin back on and shoot a few shots.
     
  18. btmatt
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 227

    btmatt
    Member

    Lux

    Question regarding the clip installation. You did not mention maintaining proper caster adjustment for the clip. Was the frame leveled and the clip leveled on the crossmember? I clipped my "57 years ago and have always questioned whether I did it right in regards allowing enough caster adjustment. Thanks
     
  19. buzzard
    Joined: Apr 20, 2001
    Posts: 4,329

    buzzard
    Alliance Member

    Lux's computer crashed yesterday, so he won't be on for a bit. I think he said he was bringing it to the computer fixer people today.
     
  20. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 26,537

    squirrel
    Member


    probably depends on how the back of the truck sits, eh? if the truck is level, caster should be at stock setting if you put the clip parallel to the frame. If the back end is up, so the truck is raked, then caster will be less.
     
  21. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    precisely. the beautiful thing about it is, when the ass comes down so the drop matches, the caster (on the previous 3 jobs anyhow) has been stellar.- but I also try to void much "rake" at all- I like them to sit really level. I figure if you wanted to, you could make *minor* adjustments to the pitch of the clip- but I would rather see someone make the adjustments to the "stock" camaor measurments instead- they have an incredibly large range of adjustability, and even if you manage to dial in extreme rake, they have an entire host of parts to make the caster and camber angles right. but it really should not be neccecary, they have something like + or- 5 degrees from "center" which is actually about 3 degrees of caster to begin with.

    8 degrees, with i.f.s would be HARD to turn .
     
  22. ive always thought that M2 was a really easy swap, but i dont always like to see it in trucks. i like how there is so much weld surface on this. and how its all one contained unit. i just dont have the balls yet to cut up a good frame. what year of a camaro did you get your clip from? thats the style i would want, just because it has the small ends on the clip that can tuck up against the bottom of the original frame. one last question, what did you do about the frame being a little bent?
     
  23. low springs
    Joined: Jul 10, 2003
    Posts: 2,501

    low springs
    Member
    from Long Beach

    good job.... what's the width on the camaro clip inside and out?

    thanx
     
  24. thrasher
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 350

    thrasher
    Member

    i did this in my 57 chevy truck, used the stock camaro trans crossmember which bolted in and a column out of a 70s van. dropped an engine in, hooked up the steering and i was done. its alot easier than it looks as long as you make plenty of measurements.
     
  25. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 14,897

    Roothawg
    Member

    Did I miss what year Camaro was used for the donor parts?
     
  26. thrasher
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 350

    thrasher
    Member

    Second gen camaros, the first gen work too but are scarce and rarely come with disc brakes.
     
  27. Firedome
    Joined: Jul 21, 2005
    Posts: 270

    Firedome
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Austin, TX
    1. THE YAY-HOOS

    This one in particular is out of a 77 Trans Am....

     
  28. btmatt
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 227

    btmatt
    Member

     
  29. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    not to mention that first gen is rear steer. and the subframe itself is different in several places.
     
  30. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,411

    LUX BLUE
    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    straightened it.:D

    all of the second gen camaro/firebird clips share the same geometry.

    z28, formula firechicken and Trans am get goodies-high ratio gear boxes, DAMN large sway bars, and some have these cute little braces that run from the crossmember to the frame extensions (which are rare as rocking horse poop 'cause they didn't work with headers, and had to be removed to get the starter out...and seldom got bolted back on.)

    I will take the pepsi challenge with ANY mustang 2 front clip any day of the week-and it has everything to do with roll center.

    a Camaro clip's roll center is (roughly) in the center of the camshft on a s.b.c.-meaning the vehicles tires are planted extremely well- a M2's roll center-lowered, beefed up,however you want to build the silly thing- is 35mm below the surface of the earth- picture standing on an upside down triangle. the tires act less like traction points and more like "outriggers"- the fact they are round is all that makes the damn thing turn at all. -I didn't make this up, it is all explained in Chassis Engineering By Herb Adams of Addco suspension (and Trans am Series racing fame)-which basically means he is smarter than me, and I took his advice and it has always paid off.

    here's the funny part.G.m overdeveloped the front end, and underdeveloped the rear suspension, so they "switch ends" pretty easy in a stock format.

    Ford underdeveloped the front end and overdeveloped the rear end, and has the same result. instant accidental donuts.

    the G.M. A body (cutlass, tempest,skylark,chevelle) has the best of both worlds-what amounts to a triangulated 4 bar out back with the same general design as the Camaro front end-Viola!

    the stupid things stick like glue.--where did g.m. get the basic idea for this marvel of engineering?

    it is the REJECTED ford rear suspension design.:D
     
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