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Projects '52 Catalina Super DeLuxe Custom Build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Nikkerton, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Hey all,
    Through all my research I found a lack of info on the early Catalina customs and I decided to contribute a build page for the 1952 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina Super DeLuxe I just bought this winter. I am planning to customize it to the ride I want and am capable of building. I hope this will help someone else out there because there just isn't the resources like there are for other popular makes like Ford, Chevy etc. for this year or car in general. I've reached out to a few guys on here who have Catalinas and they have been very generous with their knowledge so thanks to you guys, you know who you are. I should mention too this is my first classic car or build. I'm generally handy so don't pray for me, but I definitely have been falling back on the pros knowledge for lots of info on what all this original equipment is.

    Start off with a pic of the Catalina showing up to my house a week after I bought it in Wisconsin. I live in Minnesota and this car was actually a MN car originally and still has the '52 plates on it. If you've seen my intro page you know this wasn't driven for a long time and I have TONS of photos of the day I first saw it. Love at first sight.
    IMG-6304.jpg Couldn't be more stoked. Waited one week from purchasing to have it delivered.
    IMG-6308.jpg Where Catalina will rest until its driving (hopefully not too long)

    IMG-6313.jpg IMG-6314.jpg IMG-6315.jpg IMG-6317.jpg Was unbelievably happy to see these waiting in the trunk for me when I opened it. Saves a few hundred on the build. Would have loved to seen a visor in there too but hey, I'm happy with this.

    IMG-6436.jpg
    All the extra chrome that came with the car. I don't know where this guy collected all this from but its from early and later models years than the '52. I will have to organize, clean and identify all the pieces.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  2. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    So here's what I'm working with. Inline 6 cylinder that does turn over by hand. I am going to be pulling this and dropping in a 350/TH350. I hear they sit well in the engine bay next to the steering column that can be an issue and some engines like the 400s which have to be offset an inch for clearance. I'm also fortunate enough to be getting the SBC from a friend who is dropping it off at my house maybe even today. 60168518167--3E5257DD-C857-4761-9900-00F5BD656CD1.JPG IMG-6338.jpg
    I picked up an Edelbrock Performer for $80. I hear it'll increase the engine hp by 5 and another 5 with a solid tuned carb.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
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  3. clean machine! especially for a minnesota car.
     
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  4. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    I removed the 6V battery, sweet looking horns, carb, oil filter, radiator and shroud. 60169133514--F467CB7A-6BDC-4E13-8CA1-612A3042B197.JPG 60169134592--4C8CA63B-6A99-4806-BB45-1CA9DB080FB7.JPG 60179277279--CEBFF250-57C6-4524-A07A-65B2C43AE767.JPG 60179276195--AEF68F55-FBFD-49EE-9A19-C36D52D3ACAA.JPG I detached the exhaust pipe and need to remove it to get to that transmission cross member that bolts to the case.

    IMG-6345.jpg
    Crazy looking horns. Going to try and reinstall these on the wheel area when completed.
     
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  5. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    When removing the carb I bent the vacuum hosing that attached to the manifold. I think this is a vacuum line that helps pull in gas to the carb. Hopefully that isn't hard to pull out/replace/fix/ attach again etc. I've been taking my time and slowly pulling everything apart and reconnecting all bolts and washers to their respective places but this was the first accident in the process.

    I am feeling super fortunate that everything is just coming apart easily with some PB Blaster. Even the engine mounts broke loose with a 3/8 drive socket and most of all the other bolts I'm using a 6" wrench on with no issues. I hope it continues to be this way. IMG-6351.jpg 60179256584--9ED64429-1722-4971-B6D0-099952BF6459.JPG 60179260503--6B998DA6-21C7-4F2E-B44C-850084EA6E08.JPG
     
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  6. harpo1313
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,967

    harpo1313
    Member
    from wareham,ma

    nice . those horns look good there.
     
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  7. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    I had to get a special angled socket adapter to reach the front motor mount under the fan. Here is a pic of the steering column that seems to be an issue with a few of the larger motor swaps. 60179285972--10143DD8-D21D-4BB5-A616-4BA56399CF4D.JPG 60179136778--65E101C6-2B61-49BE-8927-9B2A84B640E8.JPG
     
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  8. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Yeah, it was just what I was looking for since I'm not a body guy. I needed something solid. It's been off the road for 31 years and previous owner painted it I guess in the 80s. So that probably helped with the surface rust.
     
  9. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    I picked up a 1967 Camaro rear axle 2.56:1 which is great for my highway driving. I plan to use this as a daily and I am about 15 minutes down the freeway from work. 25 minutes from Minneapolis and 2 hrs to Duluth/the north shore. Places I frequent often. Apparently the SBC I got is rated at 170hp so it's not like I'm racing anyway.

    Some challenges I am going to have to overcome on this axle are it is mono leaf instead of multi-leaf. It is setup for 2.5" wide springs and the Catalina is 2". I just measured the Camaro axle today and it is 43" exactly from the center to center of the leaf perches. I didn't crawl under my car to measure my axle yet as I was in my work clothes this morning. According to Carnut this axle is 60" wide so that should allow me to not have wheel rub.

    As you can see it doesn't have drums and the back plates are trash. I'm going to remove the 4 bolts that hold the back plate. It looks like I will need to then pull the axle shafts. I'm crossing my fingers there are no C-clips in this dif, and then I can attach back plates for discs. I do not have staggered shocks in the Cat so I was going to buy this Speedway kit. I could get used parts or try and source them from a junk yard but it is Winter in MN and my research concluded people were saving $60 to $85 dollars on used parts. I'll just order new and be happy with that.

    The axle was $200 and it got a shit ton more expensive with the discs, leaf adapters, and I'm praying no fab work with the perch positioning. I hope it was worth it for the gearing I really wanted and the width. Oh and I got this year axle so I can lower the car 4" with out drive shaft rubbing the floor. The pinion housing and flange on this differential is lower than the original and makes a good swap candidate on many rear ends for lowering springs or blocks. IMG-6361.jpg

    The wheel bolt pattern will now be 5x4.75" instead of my 5x5" on the Catalina. I will get the same upfront bolt pattern eventually when I switch to front Discs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
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  10. quick85
    Joined: Feb 23, 2014
    Posts: 2,135

    quick85
    Member

    I'm digging it just as it sat on the trailer. It has a great look. Sounds as though
    you have sensible plans for it. Good luck. The '49 below came up for sale just
    down the road from my home in Illinois. I believe it was priced at $3500.

    IMG_1719 - Copy.JPG
     
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  11. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Yeah I don't plan on modifying anything on the outside or inside the cab of the car. I just want to upgrade the engine, suspension, brakes and go to 12V. So, maybe I just say make it more safe? Ha.
    Nice, that's the first year. Pretty badass looking especially with the visor. Too bad the grill is missing. That may be a hard one to source for the new owner. Yeah, mine was asking $3900 and we settled on $3500 and delivery from an hour away.
     
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  12. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Picked up a 1ton foldable cherry picker for $100 online. I'm excited my hood opens so high, I may not need to remove it when I pull the engine. 60179281918--2D1165A0-1610-4CB8-802E-57B8EFB64A91.JPG IMG-6360.jpg IMG-6370.jpg
    I had to saw the muffler on each side to remove the exhaust pipe. I cut the exhaust pipe as close to the muffler and it was headed straight back at that point because I hear people like seeing the exhaust with an engine while purchasing. They can just go straight back or attach a muffler from there. But here is all the crusty rust that just fell off the car frame while sawing the muffler. I will definitely be sealing the frame with rust proofing. Any suggestions on frame sealant?
     
  13. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    A look at the brake master cylinder. I just kept zooming out for perspective. I will be running a dual diaphragm power brake booster and dual reservoir for the front and rear discs. Once I pull the motor I will determine if I will run a remote reservoir or remove the heater box on the firewall and do a firewall mounted brake booster. Leaning towards the firewall but then I need to get after market heat which then I may as well get cooling too....$$$ 60179125728--D8D5AEBA-9693-4BD6-9B5F-2104F1A44F0B.JPG 60179135369--D641AE3B-139E-48AD-85E6-95AFB5AA2D97.JPG 60179136778--65E101C6-2B61-49BE-8927-9B2A84B640E8.JPG
     
  14. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    It came. Already so happy I spent 20 bucks on this manual. RockAuto had it cheaper than Amazon including shipping. There is loads of info. I've always loved reading manuals. I just like to know how it all works and the correct way to maintain the car. IMG-6380.jpg IMG-6381.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
  15. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Not quite sure why the P was scraped off or maybe its supposed to come up with something else when shifted into park? assuming there is a park? IMG-6346.jpg
     
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  16. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,262

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    First 6 cylinder Custom Catalina I've seen. Most buyers of upscale Pontiacs bought the 8 ...
    Your car parks in reverse, there's no park position.
    Too bad you can't use the hydro - it has a personality you won't get to experience with the later trans ...
     
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  17. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    I know, I haven't seen any with 6's and most forums talk about the 8's. You know how Poncho guys are they really want you to run the flat 8 but maybe they'll cut me some slack on the SBC swap because it's a 6. HA!

    Parks in reverse eh? I'm going to have to digest that one for a minute. Yeah, I really tossed around the idea of getting it going and driving to just pay homage to the engine, the car, the whole history but after sitting for so long and the brakes were not hooked up I was like like well...if I want to get this thing street worthy by summer I need to start working on tearing it down now. One thing I have a little bit of regrets on already is not hearing the 6 run.

    I have been trying to meticulously remove everything so I can sell a complete engine with all the goodies including the Hydra-Matic. I hope someone will appreciate it.
     
  18. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 1,509

    oldiron 440
    Member

    The one thing you might want to do is use the original rear springs, modifying the car to except the Camaro springs is far more work than modifying the axle to fit the springs. You can replace the springs with new if needed.
     
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  19. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Yeah, I was planning on running the original 2” sized springs and not the monos. I found a pair of lowered -4” leafs new from EATON Detriot Springs. St. Louis Springs was about the same price at $350. My current springs are sagging like hell so I was just going to get new ones and incorporate the drop with them instead of blocks.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
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  20. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,673

    flatford39
    Member

    That car is an actual steal at $3,500.00. Congratulations you lucky guy.
     
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  21. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 915

    52HardTop
    Member

    Maybe you should take a look at what Posies Spring has to offer? I was able to use the same stock width on the stock mounts and shackles with a new set of dropped springs from them. I also used the early Nova/ Camaro rear with 308s gears. Later on I swapped the rear gears for a new ring and pinion with 373s.
     
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  22. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Never heard of them. Will checking that out for sure! That sounds great.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  23. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 915

    52HardTop
    Member

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  24. Billybobdad
    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 924

    Billybobdad
    Member

    The stock open driveline rear end should handle a mild SBC so why change it now? It has worked for me in the past on the application.
     
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  25. Bird man
    Joined: Dec 28, 2009
    Posts: 577

    Bird man
    Member
    from Milwaukee

    Ya know, if you are going with a sbc & Cuh-mara stuff, why not just buy a Chebby?
    It's a handsome car, me thinks it deserves better.
    Also a '57 Pontiac 3rd member will bolt right in and offer the option of a Posi & better gear ratios than would the 41-56 Olds/Pontiac rear.
    Actually, the OHC 6 would be bitchin' in there.
     
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  26. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Mainly to drop the ride height without rubbing but also a good gear ratio. Looking for that 4” drop that will help suspension drift but also give a nice look of course. I think I have 3.63 ratio in the rear axle but I’m not totally sure. My current springs are sagging heavily but in decent shape to ride with. I could just use new springs and blocks and keep the rear end for now. All reasonable for something I’m trying to get on the road by summer.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
  27. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Yep, good question. That would be my first choice, I looked at getting a ‘48 fleetline, 51 chev, 53 bel air and even a 49 Ford Custom and a 53 Ford Mainline but all included too much body work, mainly rocker replacement or trunk pans and one had a dead guys signature on the buyers line of the title. So, after looking since August, and I mean LOOKING like hrs or driving hrs of searching online, calls, messages, I saw this Catalina and I never thought I’d be getting a Pontiac but it just felt right and was in such good shape for my budget. Honestly, i think MN is a bit plagued for cars in good shape because of the road salt and time of course but yeah I was up for the challenge. I know I’m tearing this apart in a way but regardless of what I got I would be customizing it in some way.

    Thanks for the knowledge drop on the ‘57 rear end. Obviously I haven’t done anything to the back yet and I’m wondering if I got the correct rear axle so I’m considering all options still. I hear those '57 rear ends are all grabbed up too because of the racing gear ratios. It would be a pretty specific find. Hoping to pull the engine this weekend then focus on the axle details.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
  28. Nikkerton
    Joined: Dec 5, 2019
    Posts: 82

    Nikkerton
    Member

    Do you know if my original drive shaft will mount to a TH350 and the original rear end? Will the yoke slip into the Chevy TH350 and will the length be right? I haven't found anything about these Pontiac drive shafts. Best wishes maybe. I have wiggle room on mounting it sounds like. I haven't bought the mounts yet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
  29. Nik...good read here on Phil's 51. Might get some ideas fwiw.
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/mild-custom-51-pontiac-chieftain.1171852/
    The copper tube that broke provides heat to the thermal choke on the carb. Can be easily replaced if ever needed again.
    I would go over the wiring closely. 70 year old wiring is just begging for many issues from rusted terminals, frayed wires waiting to short out and just way too many issues down the road.
    Beautiful car, you did well on the acquisition. What size tires came on a '52?
     
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  30. Surprised everyone beat @Rocky to this Pontiac thread. :)

    He's a great source for obscure Pontiac queries that I would never know. Especially that era. Sounds like Bird Man is also.

    Your Pontiac Catalina is not something you see very often. Be cool if you can keep other mods' needed for your driving purposes ... to also be something you don't see very often. :cool: Big "Pontiac engine" fan.

    Gotta' do what you gotta' do though ..
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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