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Customs 1954 Chevy 2100 4-dr. Rebuild

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 1953naegle, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    This is a looooong term project that began in the early 2000's and I fully expect it to at least go on for another ten years.

    This was my first car. When I was in junior high, Gone in 60 Seconds had just come out (the nick cage one), and for my personal finance merit badge in boy scouts, I was going to save up for and buy a Mustang just like Elanor.

    My parents came home one day and joked about an old car on the side of the road, but I was intreaged, so we drove out to see a rusty old 54' chevy 4 door in ugly hunter green for $350. I decided Mustangs were just not quite as cool and bought it after talking the owner down to $300.

    A friend with a wreaker towed it over to our family's machine shop and I started tearing into it. I found it had been repainted in the past and they had stripped alot of the stainless off, but otherwise it was still very complete and original. The motor was stiff and wasn't going to start until it had alot of work done. All together, I decided to go for a full body-off restoration.

    This car is a 1954 chevy 4 door 2100, with the old 235 straight 6 and three-on-the-tree standard trans. Very basic options. No radio or heater but it has a clock. The color scheme (which I want to keep cause its frickin beautiful) is "bermuda green" with "fiesta cream" on parts of the dash. The bermuda green is a mildly metalic medium sea green color, and the dash accent is a light green.

    As I got older, I played with some different custom ideas like building it into an Aerosedan or an El Camino, but today, I've settled on it being a restoration with custom upgrades. I'm a details guy and like my customs mild and built like they started with a mint condition car. My upgrades will include 12 volt electrical, engine upgrades, red steel rims (against the original green body), and I'm toying with some custom stainless trim ideas.

    I'm going to scan the photo's I have and get caught up to where the car is today.
     
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  2. low budget
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 5,437

    low budget
    Member
    from Central Ky

    Already been 15 or 20 years and planing on 10 more, whew! I do sincerely hope you eventually get it. upload_2018-10-25_19-34-16.jpeg
     
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  3. low budget
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 5,437

    low budget
    Member
    from Central Ky

    Inspiration:cool:
    upload_2018-10-25_19-46-43.jpeg
     
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  4. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 5,760

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    Looks like you forgot to spray for hood weevils.
     
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  5. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    The front bumper was missing when I got the car. The motor was partially apart, but everything was there. the back end was by far the rustiest. The "Yorktown Motor Co." is an old potmetal used dealer emblem that I want to restore or replace and keep on the car. Both this and my 53' Chevy had the same emblem on the trunk (small world). Last picture you can see the missing mid-line chrome and rear fender shields, as well as some ugly aftermarket hubcaps the car had.
     

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  6. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Gas tank was also gone. The interior was all rotten and faded, but surprisingly intact and original. Even the OEM rubber front floor mat was still there under a home made carpet mat made from that old green porch carpeting. Originally the front floor mat was rubber, while the back had carpet.
     

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  7. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    And this is when disassembly started. The car has always had to be outside, so I kept the doors and windows in for as long as I could.
     

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  8. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Then I started pulling the front fenders apart. Remember too, I went into this with almost zero car restoration experience. I learned as I went (and picked my dads brain too, but I was/am a pretty independent kid).
     

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  9. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Then the motor came out. I remember being surprised at how small the 3 speed transmission was compared to the 235, but before this I had only seen big old truck transmissions in my dad's 53' F-100 and my brothers 59' Chevy Apache.
     

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  10. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    After the motor came out, I finished disassembling the body and began some minor body work (sandblasting and primering). The previous owner thought the motor was seized up and after I pulled it I found the nastiest muddy oil in the pan.
     

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  11. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    I took the motor about 75% apart and found that It could turn over but was very stiff. No obvious damage, but it looked like it had been run with bad oil for years. I did find one of the previous owners insurance card in the glove box from 1989, which I think was the last time the car was driven. Quite a few mud dobber nests fell out of the bell housing too (guess that's normal for Texas though). I had the transmission rebuilt not long after it was pulled and it and the bell housing are 90% repainted. There was a busted gear inside that was replaced. Otherwise it's ready to go once I get the block ready for it to go back together,
     

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  12. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Then the body came off and was on a wood frame for awhile. Had some guys from our machine shop help out moving it.
     

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  13. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    When I got further into the body, I found that the car had been in a pretty bad wreck in the past. The whole rear fender was smashed in about 18" or so. They did a pretty decent job putting it back together, but the structural body bracing was still fairly twisted.

    All up until this point, I had been buying assorted parts and continuing plans to keep this project going... but then I bought the 53' (in my profile pic.) and this thing slowed way down. I decided restoring the 54' was taking too long so I opted to leave the 53' in one piece and focus on making it road worthy (rebuilt motor and most of the chassis, new upholstery, fixed all mechanical elements and seals, etc.) while I did this, the 54' became a doner for various parts.

    Then stupidity hit. I decided to part out the 54'. Why, I don't remember. I had a friend haul off the body, and then the realization started to hit that I had lost my "first" car. So I stashed everything away, graduated high-school (had the 53' to drive by this point), served a mission for my church, did some college, got married, and was officially an "adult".

    A few years back I found a guy parting out a 54' 4-dr. bel-air near Austin and I bought the body off of him. I think it was a $200 or something, but parts of it were in better shape than the old body (no wreak), but it does still have some major rust damage to be addressed. I saved the ID plates off of my old body so I can transfer those over. I set the new body on the chassis and loosly mounted the doors and fenders for storage as we were getting really tight on space at out old shop.
     

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  14. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    The most recent progress made on this car since it restarted with the new body, is that I've been OCDing the crap out of all the bits and pieces. While I haven't had room to work on the body or chassis, I've been working off my master checklist restoring all the little screws and washers and purchasing everything in between. Then 3 years ago, we moved out here to Conroe TX, and the car is now sitting behind our new machine shop.

    I'm still driving the 53' around, and the plan is to finish the 54' (while still keeping the bills paid and the family fed), and then it will become my daily driver so I can park the 53' and give it it's long deserved restoration. I'm also helping my dad finish restoring his 53' Ford F-100 in his garage(more on that in my other thread), and I've been pestering my brother to finish his 59' Chevy Apache (which has been disassemble in storage since 2000, so I'm not doing THAT bad).

    We're planning on constructing some additional space behind our new machine shop, and part of that might give us some dry concrete with a roof over us to work on the 54' and the 59'. If not, I'll at the very least build a lean-too so we can keep these projects going. Both our suburban home garages aren't big enough to restore cars in, and mine has a mill, 2 lathes, and a universal grinding machine already in it, so it's plenty cramped.

    In the mean time, I'll post updates while I get all the pieces together. The most recent progress is that I got a quote to get the body sandblasted so I can get it in primer and start welding in patch panels (need a roof over it first though), and I'm finishing the motor in my little garage at home.

    I also talked to our local engine shop today about getting the block cleaned and checked, and it will need to be bored out (not sure how much as I'm waiting for a bore indicator to come in the mail), and I'm 75% sure I'm going to have them mill the top down a bit for compression. That will all run me around $350.

    I'm also shopping for a new cam. I'd like to put a Howard mild racing cam in, but need to decide the specifics of it as it will be a custom job for them. After I can measure the block and get it milled, I'll get all the bearings and new pistons. I have most of the gaskets already.

    I'm planning on porting the head myself and doing a valve job, and I'm shopping for a dual intake manifold and dual headers.
     

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  15. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    20181103_125812.jpg
    So the block is stripped and waiting to go with the crankshaft to be serviced at Teds machine shop here in Conroe.

    I also got the starter back yesterday from Woods Alternator and Starter in Aldine (north houston). I had rebuilt it awhile back (not at Woods) and used it in my 53' but the internals got a sub-par rebuild, so now it's right and ready to go back on the 54'. I have one other spare starter to use between the 2 cars once Woods goes through it.

    I also dropped off my upper grill bar at Superior Chrome in Aldine. I still need to buy a set of teeth and the middle bar, then I'll have a complete grill.

    I scored a Starrett Engine kit on Ebay! I'm excited as complete sets can be as much as $1000. This one I got for $65 since its missing the cylinder gage and some other pieces and whats still there needed some TLC. I've been doimg the measuring tool repair and calibration at our machine shop, which includes alot of old Starrett stuff, so finding the missing pieces, new or used, and getting everything adjusted is right up my ally.
    20181103_125500.jpg
    20181103_125633.jpg
    This kit is a #915, which makes it a basic kit for larger cylinders. It originally came with a 2" to 6" outside micrometer, and cylinder gage, but I plan to add a set of fealer gages and inside micrometer set, making it the delux set.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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  16. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    20181129_003015.jpg 20181129_003110.jpg
    I got my upper grill bar back from Superior Chrome. Looks like they did a great job on it! The back is still very pitted of course, but the visible surfaces are flawless. My original grill was rusted foil thin, so I've been replacing pieces as able. The upper bar was a good replatable core I found with a good support frame attached. I need to finish repainting the frame and then I can rivet it back together. The park light housings are reproductions that I bought 2nd hand, while the park light buckets themselves were the only pieces I salvaged from the original grill. They're fully assembled with proper color and gage of wire, including the "correct" terminals.

    Once I get a replacment center bar and full set of teeth (likely to also be reproductions), I'll have a finished grill!
     
  17. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 4,810

    wvenfield
    Member

    Interesting story. I really like 54's. Had a 54 4 door myself.
     
  18. Latigo
    Joined: Mar 24, 2014
    Posts: 593

    Latigo
    Member

    Enjoying your project. The '54 is a great car. Drove a 2dr for years as a daily driver. Wish I still had it.
     
  19. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    So with the aid of my dandy Starrett engine kit, I measured my cylinders to find that they're all within .002" top to bottom with no taper, however the front and back sides of the bottom are not as shiny as the rest of the bore, and the lip I could feel near the top of the cylinders was a .012" to .015" deep groove worn in about 3/16" wide. The bottom edge of the grooves tapers off quickly. So I'm going to ask the engine shop to bore the cylinders .020 oversize and shop for appropriate pistons and rings. The top of the block is pretty rough, and I'd like to raise compression without extensivly reworking the valves or recessing the pistons, so I'm thinking milling .100" off the top and rechamfering the cylinders would do.

    I cleaned the crankshaft and lightly polished the journals with emery paper (to get past some light rust and dirt). My initial measuring didn't show any wear. I'm going to give it another pass and if it's within .001", I'll save it the trip to the engine shop and focus on re shimming the main bearings when the block comes back.
    15464024753441531148228.jpg

    I'm going to order an aluminum timing gear (old fiber one chipped a tooth when crank shaft was removed), and I'm passing some data back and forth with Howard Cams to get a custom "mild street" cam made. My main goal with this motor is to increase mid range HP and acceleration. I want to have some fun with it, but it won't be racing.

    I also drug the body/frame over to a better spot to work on. It's on concrete and closer to air and power connections. Until I can build a shed for it, I'm going to move forward sandblasting, primering, and welding, and keep a tarp over it. Texas weather is far from ideal to have sheetmetal outside, but perhaps that will just be motivation....
     
  20. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Here's the cam specs I got back from Howards:
    .435/435 valve lift
    220/220 @ .050
    255/255 advertised duration
    110 lobe separation
    106 intake cemterline
     
  21. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Slow and steady.
    15478787398911410369511.jpg
    Got the instrament cluster bezel and speedometer rim replated. The speedometer is done, and now I'm working on the gauges. I still need to test the gas and fuel gauges and install a voltage drop on the fuel guage. I was hoping to fix the temperature gauges broken sending wire, but will probably just wait for a good used one to come along. I'm going to order new glass with my next parts order. The clock and aluminum insert were "borrowed" by my 53' as it's clock had a broken main spring and the insert was a little corroded. I've since polished up the insert and plan to swap them out. The 53' one has white turn signal arrows, while the 54' has green arrows. Details details. The broken clock will likely get replaced as I already had one clock repair shop look at it and pass. One other detail will be painting the outside of the bezel to match the dash. I left it unpainted on my 53' and decided that it looks better painted, blending the surfaces together.
    1547879429595962882959.jpg
    The front bumper will be the next replateing job. The guards are pitted but solid, while the bumper has some rusty scratches, but is very clean and straight otherwise, so hopefully the 5 parts won't cost an arm-n-a-leg to plate. This bumper I found on ebay a few years back as the old one was missing when I got the car. I already have new steel rivets to put it back together when it comes back. Some guys replace them with 3/8" bolts.... but I'm not that guy.
    15478796828851928700434.jpg
    I'm impatiently waiting for my block to get back from the machine shop. It's like Christmas eve all over again. Their measurments jived with mine, but they said they may have to bore it out to .030, instead of .020, but that's ok as I've held off buying pistons and rings. I did pick up an old Zim piston vise though. Might not use it regularly, but it'll find a bench corner to bolt to.
    1547879990511-1629129721.jpg
    The grill frame is done and riveted back together. Just need those teeth and center bar now. I'm also welding up some rust holes in my hood latch asm. If it dosn't turn out well, I'll be on the lookout for another, then I'm going to try cold-galvanizing it. I don't like how flashy the chromed ones look, and I'm afraid paint will let it rust to easy once it wears down. Galvinizing is original, so I'll try that.
     
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  22. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Doing some planning for my motor rebuild/improvments, and I'd appreciate any input.

    As I posted previously, the car won't be a racer, but I'd like to have some fun with it, BUT it will be a daily driver. Most days it will just be taking me the 1 mile to work and back, as well as some free-way/high-way trips. I'm hoping to also do some long and short road trips around the country. I really want to keep the car basic (no power steering, drum brakes, no AC, etc.) and use/maintain it how it would have been done 60 years ago. That whole plan/philosophy could use it's own thread, so for now we'll focus on the drive train. I'll add too, that most of my knowledge about classic performance is coming out of California Bills "Souping the Stock Engine." (... and the internet of course.) So the basic principles I'm applying to this motor include, 1. The stock arrangment will produce the most economy by 1954's design, and any improvements will sacrifice something from somewhere, 2. Increase intake and exhaust flow to improve acceleration, 3. Raise compression to improve fuel usage, and 4. Change cam grind to improve mid range performance.

    In addition to standard rebuild steps (bearings, gaskets, etc.), I'm in the process of, or planning on the following:
    .100 mill off top of block
    Bore cylinders .020-.030 over
    Ported head
    Howard mild racing cam
    Aluminum timing gear
    Mallory dual point ignition
    Fenton dual exhaust with steel-pack mufflers
    (?) Dual intake (really want an old Tattersfield, but may settle for another make).
    Single barrel Rochester carbs
    Dual oil bath air cleaners (old buicks should fit the application)
    12v electrical and alternator (better amps, but mostly to help with emergency parts availability and jump starts)
    Update ring and pinion gear (not settled on ratio yet)

    I thought about shedding some weight off the old cast iron flywheel, but decided adainst it due to the negative effects at low rpm idle (stuck in traffic).
    This engine already uses aluminum pistons and full pressure oil, so it's got that much in favor already.

    Driving my 53' with it's all stock 235, powerglide, and chassis has given me alot of respect for the old drivetrain. Sure there's no anti-lock breaks and I'm not going head-to-head with any Mustangs, but you get a feel of how to drive, and you learn all the different sounds and vibrations. It's fun!
     
  23. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    I havn't been documenting my projects lately, but they're progressing. Lots and lots of details. One example is the hood hinges for the 54'. One side had a busted shoulder rivet, so I turned one on the lathe. Once I spray a little more cold galvanize over it, you'll never know it was broken. I like how the cold galvanize spray looks on some of these parts. It's pretty close to the OEM finish. I welded up some rust holes in the hood latch, and the cold galvanize covered it up very well. The powdery finish can/does rub off, but it dosn't chip or scratch like a flat grey paint would.
    20190805_121228.jpg 20190805_121228.jpg 20190805_121103.jpg
     

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  24. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Sandblasted the front splash pan, did some dent removal, welded about 1/2 of the rust holes, and now I'm waoting for the first coat of primer to dry.

    This panel took some hits in the past and had some body work done. There was a thick sheet of bondo on the middle left that I blasted away to find an area that had been MOSTLY hammered straight. I'm smoothing it out some more and the primer helps show what I have left to do. Hopefully there will be very little bondo on here when it's done.

    I bought my first batch of green paint too, as well as a gallon of damp-proof red primer and some satin black for the inner fenders.
    1567045404062-2120283091.jpg 15670454596271473432537.jpg 15670454835282098515001.jpg
     
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  25. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,177

    325w
    Member
    from texas

    If you want to eliminate the clock I'll send you a clock delete. But only if you use it.
     
  26. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Thanks for the offer! I've considered leaving it off as I'm already leaving out a radio and heater, but am undecided....

    The heater is a hard choice though. I'd rather not have all the extra sheet metal and cables under the dash, but I know I'll regret it some frosty mornings. The car actually had a small aftermarket "Arvin" heater which is in decent shape, but kinda blocked the right vent and didn't have any defroster ducts. I might put it (or another small one) back in if it will mount more naturally and can tie into some defroster ducts.
     
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  27. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    Forgot to post that I got the block back and have new .030 pistons and rings ready to go in. Once I have some new bearings, cam, and some other small bits, the short block will go together fast. (Note in the picture the crank is resting on some pieces of wood inside the block)

    Also got my front bumper back from the chrome shop and riveted it back together. They're finishing up the guards.
    1567143576332-2120283091.jpg 15671436105221473432537.jpg
     
  28. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 212

    1953naegle
    Member

    1698_AGT17-850x591.jpg download.jpeg 54-Lincoln-Capri.jpg smokeys+hudson+hornet.jpg
    Thought I'd post pics of some cars that are inspiring my build. I don't follow racing all that much but I like when stock car racing really was "stock" cars, with all the stainless and everything. And something about red steel rims just means business. When I see cars with alloy rims, they look cool, but I get the same vib as when an "old guy" is trying to shoot hoops with the youngsters. It's impressive but out of place. Steel rims just fit the old styling more naturally in my eyes.

    This car is going to be a driver, but I want to give it an old "stock car" vib. I'm trying to stick with traditional upgrades to the engine and am even getting matching stickers for the quarter panels or glass. I'm not 100 sure how to do it yet, but I want to take the stock paint sceme and add a little to it. I'm yet to settle on a name, which will help finalize the exterior paint.

    Also, being a 4-dr. kinda wouldn't have been first choice for a racer, but they make better drivers IMO. Leaving off the radio, heater, etc. help with keeping things minimal however.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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