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Projects 1950 Fleetline Deluxe build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by RUSS BUCKLIN, Jan 16, 2020.

    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

    Hi all,

    I'm about to start on a long delayed build of my great grandfather's 1950 Fleetline Deluxe 2-dr. Looking for some advice/opinions here. At present the plan calls for:

    1) Complete rebuild of front suspension
    2) Disk brake conversion
    3) Replace steering box with bolt on rack and pinion
    4) Replace rear axle with Ford 9 or S-10
    5) 4-link rear, weld in or bolt in, not decided yet
    6) 12v conversion

    Undecided about:

    1) Restore body or keep original patina under satin clear. Issue is great grandma couldn't pull out of the garage with banging into something with the rear wings. Both dented, bondoed, dented again etc.

    2) Drivetrain. At present there is a nearly zero mile 216 in the car that I do not plan to use. In storage I have a 1953 235 fully rebuilt inside and out by Action Machine in Seattle. So, the question for drivetrain, mod the 235 with dual carbs/exhaust, electronic ignition etc or sell/trade for a comparable small block 8. What do you guys think? I plan to drive the car a fair bit including some semi long road trips.

    Auto or manual trans? Personally I like rowing gears so was leaning toward a T-5 5spd but then the convenience of the auto is appealing too. Thoughts?

    3) Interior. Recover original seats or redo with buckets/console etc.? Plan to stay with stock dash configuration and gauges, refinish all surfaces and maybe rebuild gauge internals.

    At some point in the future I will consider going with an Art Morrison chassis and LS motor. If I do that I would like to have a really good rolling/running frame and drivetrain to pass on to someone else's project.

    For the moment that's about it, I'm looking for any and all thoughts and opinions about direction to take this build. Please, no "just build what you like" thoughts, I get that, but I also have not done this before and many of you all have so looking to benefit from collective experience.

    Thank you all in advance for your time and thoughts.
  2. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,197

    from Idaho

    Russ, I think you're trying to build a street rod. Quite a few of us around here would tend to go with using most of the factory Chevrolet, such as splitting the manifold, cutting coils, rebuilding the suspension using '53-'54 parts, etc.
    This method retains the personality those early Chevs have … all new stuff castrates them.
  3. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,114

    Jalopy Joker

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    scotty t and nochop like this.
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle


    I get what you're saying, but I've never been a hotrod guy, more always into small european. For this car I want a cool, reliable car that will keep up with traffic, stop and turn. The car resides in Seattle and the traffic there is legendarily bad and most of the drivers worse. If I do decide to take it on a longer road trip it will have to make it over mountain passes and through warmer states without overheating or bogging down. Do you guys think the 235 can accomplish this and be reliable as well? Years ago I had a 59 Chevy Panel that came with a rod knocking 235. I replaced that with a 283 2bbl and a muncie 4spd and was pretty happy with it.
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

    Joined: Sep 15, 2005
    Posts: 142

    from CW, Ohio

    Check out Walton Fabrication for chassis and engine kits, very well engineered and very good people to deal with
    Joined: Jan 7, 2016
    Posts: 1,907


    If it is driveable, I would drive it for awhile, hit a few cruises and car shows with it, and check out the "scene". You may get inspired to do some things with the car that you hadn't considered before. I made the mistake of blowing apart a car I could have driven while working on parts of my "build" and have had nothing to drive since. I wont make that mistake again!:eek:

    Subscribed to follow your journey....
    luckythirteenagogo and scotty t like this.
  7. old 49, slitely updated, drove it everywhere, have fun with yours, lets see some pics.
    my cars.jpg
    joeangelo and Jalopy Joker like this.
  8. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,852


    Your 235 can be reliable for long trips. My brother drove his 58 Chevy pickup from Michigan to Arizona when I lived there and towed an O/T monte carlo back on a tow dolley over the rockies. Not fast but he did it. He put over 200,000 miles on that truck with a 3 speed on the column.
    I like those Chevys with a one piece Olds windshield. Olds 324 Hydro. Black , lowered with tasteful flames. Black and white tuck and roll interior.
  9. cometman98006
    Joined: Sep 4, 2011
    Posts: 221


    Well here is my 2 cents. My '41 chev has a slightly upgraded has 327 with a 350 turbo trans that does everything I need and I'm happy. My son has a '48 chev lowrider with a 235 and original 3 speed trans and although the car is beautiful I wouldn't drive it to Everett. You'll need to do something about the rea end gearing preferably getting rid of the torque tub drive shaft and put in something with a 3.5 or so ratio cus at 60mph it will sound like it's coming apart with the original ratio.

    They are nice looking cars especially the fast back and are comfortable. Good luck ,don't know where in Seattle that you are but with the traffic here you stay in town and traffic won't let you get over 50 MPH.
  10. lo-buk
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 280

    from kcmo

    I would not put clear over the patina I do not like that look, my 2 cents worth.
    Roothawg and scotty t like this.
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

    All good thoughts. It's true that it's hard to get over 50 around here, but even at that speed the car, as it is configured, would be dangerous to drive in traffic. Simply won't turn or stop. 1950 was one of two years with the infamous Huck brake system and it is awful under the best of circumstances. At the bare minimum this car will get upgraded brakes, steering and suspension. If I go with the 235 I may stay with 6 volts, but I worry about the lights being dim. Anyone have any thoughts about mating a T-10 5spd with the 235? I'm pretty sure there is a bellhousing available for that. The torque tube rear will come out in favor of either a ford 9 or chevy S-10 rear with proper gear ratios.
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

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  13. Reading your opening post I just hope you get more focused and some better input than you currently have. My current advice is Do Nothing Yet. You don't have a clear plan. 4-Link is a Fools move for a good highway vehicle. R&P is just an; I don't know any better; kind of comment. Art Morrison? You are Shitting us, right? LS motor, if you go that combo direction you better have 30 K in the bank being you said you don't have the Skills to do the work for yourself. And that won't include Body and Paint. I've done this for a living and now retired and post 70.
    With the way this reads I feel anything that includes a 6 cyl isn't going to get the job done for you. You want a Highway Hauling Hot Rod. So build it and be done. Leave your rear springs alone. 350- 700-R-4 and an S-10 rear end. 12 Volt is just a smart move at that point. When you get that done see what your Wallet (you've already spent over 10K)feels like then tackle the steering and brakes. A little common sense and what's there has worked well enough for 70 years and will still be just fine as long as you don't over drive it. Big Heads Up. Your opening statements read like most Guys that can turn a Vehicle into a Large pile of pieces that never goes back together. Don't do that to yourself much less your Grandfathers Car. Follow the KISS method and you and the Car will be just fine.
  14. T. Turtle
    Joined: May 20, 2018
    Posts: 198

    T. Turtle

    Welcome first. The reason for some of the comments you got is that this forum is a traditional one so that any blatant street rod mods are frowned upon. Now if that's the route you want to take, please be prepared to be flamed (not from me, but I'm a laid back sort of guy lol). What I noticed however is people are far more understanding if what you do is trying to improve the car like they used to do it back then, with the odd sensible modern mod being tolerated.

    With that in mind I'd say sticking with original suspension but with new or up-rated bits (bushes, springs, shocks, steering), converting to disks, fitting a 5sp and a modern diff will keep the puritans off your back. The 235 can be hopped-up to real 180-200 hp relatively easily and this to me is enough if what you're looking for is a nice cruiser which can mix it with modern traffic. The above changes will not drive you into financial ruin. Just drive the car and have fun, you can worry about the body later.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
    Pist-n-Broke likes this.
  15. RMONTY
    Joined: Jan 7, 2016
    Posts: 1,907


    I will add that grandmothers and housewives drove these cars as well as businessmen back in the early 50s, so if the steering isnt to your liking, you can easily swap in a 1953-54 steering column and have smooth as silk steering due to those years have bearings instead of bushings in the column/box. The front end rebuild kit will set you back up to $600 if you go with a 100% rebuild.

    That car is cool btw. It could be bitchin really easily. Good luck with it!
    flatford39 and Pist-n-Broke like this.
  16. You've gotten some great advice. Please follow it. Don't mess up your grandfather's car by digging in too deep and getting over your head. Keep it simple! I speak from experience, I messed up big time 20 years ago. I spent a lot of money, bought a lot ofof parts and never got the car finished. I finally sold it for a huge loss. It's still waisting away in a buddies barn. That's no way to treat grandpa's fleetline.
  17. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,852


    A 5 speed swap will allow you to cruise at highway speeds and add more mid range acceleration by using those extra gears.
    Help with the brakes make sense in the distracted driving era that we are in.
    An S-10 rear end would be lighter and will take all the power that a 235 would throw at it and be cheaper than a 9 inch Ford.
    Having driven many of those cars and as former owner of a 51 2door hard top with a GMC 6 cylinder
    I always liked the way they drove.
    Ridden in back seat of a 54 Belair 4 door as a child and never noticed we could not keep up with traffic . Then later in life my dad drove a 59 Biscayne with a 235 3 speed and he drove it 20 miles a day one way to work every day and he cruised at 65-70 as the speed limit was 65 at the time. It had a 3.08 gear . He drove that car until I got drunk as a teenager and totaled it out.
  18. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 18,629

    Staff Member

    0BE6B9C4-5BB2-449C-96EE-02902158FDC9.jpeg F1EDA7E5-FCFB-4B24-A8DF-1BA4DE29499B.jpeg I did a 52 Chevy back in the eighties and swapped in 54 235 and used a powerglide rear end( just the ctr section) that gave me 3:55 gears and cruised great at 70 mph
  19. ol-nobull
    Joined: Oct 16, 2013
    Posts: 1,477


    Hi & welcome. Nothing wrong with a 235 for great cruising My 46 Chevy Coupe has one and my avitar shows the engine. Bored 0.060, 268 grind Clifford cam, Clifford dual intake with two 2 barrell Weber carbs, Clifford shorty headers, Hei, 12 volt, etc. With a 255 rear end it will run down the hwy all day at 70 mph and give me 20 mpg at 65 MPH. I drove it all over Texas with that set up without problems. Then like a fool I converted to a 350 tranny and a 56 chevy pickup rear end with 205 gearing. Millage dropped to 10 mpg & local shop made a disaster of modifying crossmember below tranny.
    Not long after the trany conversion I got rear ended & that shut me down. Hope to be able to begin the rebuild on it later this year and if so It will include going back to manual shift and 255 rear end and ditching that dang 350 tranny..
    Good luck with your rebuild.
  20. This is pretty true for the most part. To be clear Chassis work was my main stay both street and race. I've hand built many a tube chassis start to finish as well as upgrades on stock chassis. For me it was always helping a Customer end up with better than he expected once in the Car and on the Road, Often times Down the track. We all have dreams but they are seldom exactly what reality brings forth. My avitar is a prime example of not exactly what you think. Other cars of mine like it has taken several Customers from, "Here's what I want you to do" to, I didn't know that could be done. Letting Him as well as his Wife drive them generally changed things as well as sealed a deal. This sight won't let me go into details just due to it's guide lines and I agree with them ( I also like the simple stuff).
    Bottom line is you don't need to Kill your bank account to have a Grate Old Car. Again, do some hands on home work before you lift the Hood off that little Rose. Ask people to take you for a ride, feel how a car hits the road, How does all that modified M-2 Crap actually go around corners and over the Mountain roads. Do you want to build a car your Wife (assuming you have one) simply won't drive? Nothing is worse than having 60 to 80 K in a static show piece unless all you want is something to talk about. Finding someone up in Seattle that has a done car with an Art Morrison chassis under something shouldn't be hard. Talk to them because the guys at Morrison are first and formost full of Sales pitch. That's how they make a living just like all the rest of the aftermarket suppliers. Be smart and do it once and go drive it.
  21. I sold GM Performance Parts the last few years I was in the business. About the LS, nope and nope. Sure they have great HP potential but then you will be like everyone else, quick and easy (and not cheap) solution. To use a page from the '54 I had in the late 60's/early 70's I would change the rear axle, mine was a '57 but there are more choices today. Engine, I would build a 327 with three deuces, maybe a 283. Always liked the 327 better than the 350, that's just me though, always felt the shorter stroke gave it a bit of an edge in the RPM department. Transmission, I'd seriously consider a reworked 2004R if you are set on A.T., manual, I'd go traditional with a Muncie, there are new ones being built and you can find them with a little hunting. Nothing like listening to the "Muncie whine" in the gears, screams nostalgia to me. Brakes, Scarebird front disc conversion. It's not a gymkhana car, you could live with the factory steering, I did that in my Chevy and the 383 Chrysler under the hood a bit less than the 235 did. You could go R&P or maybe a early Camaro or Nova subframe if you want later power steering. One thing I never looked into was possibly using some C1 Corvette parts in the steering, if memory is correct the ratio was a bit different, there should be a few of those pieces on the market from the guy that restomod their cars.
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

    Hi Guys,

    First, all comments much appreciated, even the mild rebukes. Second, this is not a wallet build, I grew up wrenching on cars like this and have done everything I've asked about here myself with my own hands. I'm not good at engine or tranny internals so i do pay for that, otherwise it's all on me (and my reluctant son :))

    I'm aware of the reasonable HP numbers for the 235 and already have a parts list from Chev's of the 40's to put the car together with a split exhaust, twin carbs and HEI ignition. I would love to hear more from anyone with experience in alternate cam options. My original plan was to raise performance with all period parts. My main issue is I am not well versed on the reliability of the 235 over a long haul and I do not want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere if I can avoid it. Honestly, stuffing an LS in there is really more than I want to spend, swapping in a junkyard Vortec 5.3 is tempting but probably way more work and mods to the car than I want to get into. So I will most likely go with the 235 I already have unless a trade for a well sorted 283 or 327 comes along.

    The steering box has to go, too worn and won't adjust any further. I found a pretty simple R&P option that bolts in so no cutting and welding. I will not drop a different subframe in, the original front suspension is good enough for any use I will put the car to. The rear end and front brakes are gone, period. The Huck brakes were and are horrible, a two year only choice before GM abandoned them in favor of the Bendix. The front is getting disks, the rear I'm open to disk or drum depending on what rear end goes in there. if I find a nice 50's rear with decent gearing and bendix drums that will be fine.

    Trans, period Muncie/Saginaw four speed or later T-5 5 speed? Here I would like more input. Has anyone had experience with both in modern traffic? Cruising at hwy speeds 70+, will the 4 speed wind the motor to high?

    As far as the comments recommending homework before tearing in, yes, that is why I am here asking these questions and sounding like an idiot (I'm not. But then, that is what an idiot would say...). I am also aware of the number of projects that get started, had unrealistic expectations, cost overruns etc and never get finished. I'm not that guy so no worries there.

    Thanks again y'all and please, let's keep the discourse going, I want to make some decisions and start accumulating parts.
    ST63, Stooge and Pist-n-Broke like this.
  23. Rusty Heaps
    Joined: May 19, 2011
    Posts: 606

    Rusty Heaps

    I'd recommend installing the 235, swapping rear ends with open drive, swapping the front suspension with a '51-'52 for the Bendix brakes, and a 12 volt conversion. The transmission with which ever you're comfortable with. I personally dislike manual trannys in heavy traffic, but that is what I have at the moment. And don't toss the 216 if it's a usable engine. There are still people who do use them, including one in my avatar.
  24. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,471


    I sure like those cars. I would update the brakes (always and first), hop up the 235, and maybe go with the 5-speed, if regular 70+mph trips are in your future. Around town, a three-speed will be just fine. Do the 12 volt conversion, maybe an open driveshaft, and call it done. I wouldn't cuss R&P, my dad did his 57 Chevy, just because he wanted to. If it solves the steering box issue, more power to you. I wouldn't do a MII change-over, though. All the other stuff is, in my opinion, trying to keep up with the big boys, being able to say "Yeah, it's an LS" or whatever, just to be one of the cool kids. The 235 has a cache' all it's own. Rap it out in second gear and tell me I'm wrong. Paint it, PLEASE. Patina, if original, has a certain amount of appeal, as it offers some kind of provenance to the survivor status of the car, but clearing over it, or putting an uber-chassis and engine in a patina-ed car comes across as faking it or trying too hard. For what it's worth, I have a 55 Chevy 2 door with fantastic (here's your stupid phrase of the day) "authentic patina" and it's going to get new paint, interior, already has disc brakes, and that's all I'm going to do to it, although the 5-speed is VERY temping. Good luck, you have been given the best advise some of the smartest guys around can give, (me excluded) hope you do the old girl right. Best of luck.
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,470


    Cool car

    on my 50 fleetline I went with a 261 with all the bells n whistles
    T5 trans
    2nd hen camaro rear end
    Jag clip ( it’s a bolt in)
    Chassis engineering rear leafs
    Kept the body n interior original
    But lowered the car substantially
    Guy who bought it and finished it said it drives incredible.
  26. Russ; It was good to read your last post, lot's of insight for us there. Glad to know your a Hands on guy with some knowledge.
    So maybe a 235 will be just fine for you. as for worrying about being reliable my thoughts are. If you have a good solid long block the rest is just using proven pieces to keep you on the road. Given that fuel, ign and cooling is about all that can ruin a day. For me with the twin carbs just make sure they are Ethanol ready and you should be just fine. Past that and with the HEI I can't see anything that's not reliable. No doubt you'll address the cooling system while under the Motor change. Now you should be as good as day one when the car was new. No worries that I can see.
    When it comes to the Tranny, if you decide on a manual my preference is the GM A-833. It works just like any 4 speed but 3rd is One to One and 4th is Overdrive. Really simple, very compact, no adapters or special clutch needed and very cost effective. You can also use the stock column shifter should you like. A standard Hurst floor shift would also look right at home.
    Just food for thought from the outside looking in.
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

    The long block is a fully rebuilt 53 235 by Action Machine in Seattle. For my money, the best machine shop around here. They built my brother's 6 second race motor and it's been fantastic.

    Chev's of the 40's sells a twin carb setup with modern carbs that should handle any modern fuel. I don't think they're webers but I don't recall the brand.

    I was thinking about the 4-link rear to add a little lateral stability. I'm not trying to build a canyon carver but I would like to handle a curve without getting all tail happy. If there is a way to do that with leafs and shocks, I'm all ears.

    For trannys, I don't mind driving a stick in traffic. The fun of rowing the gears the rest of the time is a worthwhile trade off. I am fine with 3, 4 or 5 speeds, but need to make sure the gearing between the trans and the rear is correct without having to crack the trans open. Looking for bolt in solutions for simplicity and cost.

    Definitely going with floor shift, see earlier comments about rowing the gears, just isn't the same on the column :)
    Pist-n-Broke likes this.
  28. HotRodWorks
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 258

    Alliance Vendor

    If the 235 is built correctly, it should be reliable. The original carbs and ignition are typically the most finicky. I ran a single progressive two barrel (Holley/Weber) and HEI on my 235 for years. Single exhaust and
    5 speed transmission. Very trouble free.
    I have since put dual carbs and Fenton headers on it. 20-22 mpg and will cruise all day at 75 mph.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Joined: Sep 18, 2017
    Posts: 118

    from Seattle

    HRW, very nice clean installation. Which do you prefer, the progressive webber or the duals? Also, what brand carbs are the duals?
  30. If space and easy to do is of any help I took a photo for ya. We all know you can put a Muncie 4 speed in the 49-54 Cars without any floor pan issues. For me the shifter location would also be a consideration. Here is the GM Overdrive 883 version with the Muncie above it.
    20200117_114859.jpg Note that the Reverse shift arm comes out through the bottom of the gear case, not in the Tailshaft and it also has a speedo drive gear much like the Mopar unit. Makes them easy to spot at a Swap Meet. I paid $100.oo for that one after inspecting it.

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