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My 1951 Chevy build thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by fbama73, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    I was going to wait to start this until "phase 2" of the car was complete, but I recieved requests to go ahead and start it now. For the record, Phase one was getting it to being a "driveway driver." and phase two is "roadworthy."

    The day I brought her home:

    [​IMG]

    PO wanted to restore it to original. Apparently it was the owner before him that thought shit wheels, stick-on flames and pimpmobile crushed velvet was suitable. It was apparently at some point after one of the shit wheels (I guess they're not bad for something like a S-10, but on a '51 Chevy- pure feces) came off while in motion that PPO decided to get rid of the car.

    Absolute first order of business: lose the pimpmobile interior and stick-on flames!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Better already, and I haven't owned the car for 24 hours!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    Now, I was facing big decision time: The car actually runs, I briefly considered driving it home (about 10-15 miles) How exactly do I proceed?

    My good friend (since we were 5 years old) was given a family heirloom '59 Chevy almost 20 years ago. 62K original miles, but it had some serious bondo bubbling on the quarters, floors and rockers gone, various rust and dents elsewhere. Mechanically, it was darned good. It ran and drove fine. It needed a carb kit and a few suspension pieces up front. We dove right in on the body. During the cold winter months with the quarters cut off at the beltline, we realized that we'd have been smarter if we'd just driven it around for a few months before diving in. Here's a picture of Tim's 59. I post it so all of you can see that a rusty, bondoed to the gills, old Chevy is NOT past my skill set. I'm not in over my head. I may swallow a little water and gasp a bit, but hell- that's how we GROW! BTW- this picture of the Chevy was taken 15 years after we had it painted.

    [​IMG]

    So, in order to not repeat the mistake Tim and I made on his Chevy, I'm going to put mine on the road for a bit before tearing heavily into the body work or drivetrain upgrades. Phase one was turning it into a "driveway driver," which consisted of freeing up sticking clutch and brake linkages, replacing return springs, and getting the charging system up and working.

    Once that was done, it was time to go to phase two- roadworthiness. This was going to consist of tackling everything that made me nervous about the idea of driving it home and made me call the flatbed: I knew the brakes were pretty hinky, the sticking clutch, unknown front suspension, and nightmare electrical.

    On a trip to Northern IN to visit my wife's family, we were passing a junkyard of newer cars, but I glanced over as we drove past. Right next to the gate was a 50 Chevy! We did a quick U-turn and went back to check it out. It was a more door, but it had a good driver's front fender. The next morning, I went back and claimed it as my own.

    [​IMG]

    Yes, I know that the grille openings are different between 50 and 51. That would be a minor issue if I were planning to run either a 50 or 51 Chevy grille, but since I'm not- it doesn't matter a bit.
     
  3. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    OK, backing up for a second. The Chevy was an early Father's day gift. The wife for years has pushed me to start tearing into the '68 Fairlane that has been in the garage since before I knew her. I never did because my tastes have changed, I wanted something older. They knew I'm probably too much of a tightwad to go out and seek a project, but they knew I really wantes to have one. So, the wife and daughter started skimming cash from the family fund in small increments, and also swiped the change jars periodically for several months so they could hand me an envelope full of cash and say "Happy Father's Day- go get a project car"

    They both love old cars, and the traditional scene, so they're all for this project. The night we brought it home, they left shortly thereafter to go to the grocery store. Apparently, they were chanting "We got Daddy a hot rod, we got Daddy a hot rod." the whole trip.

    But- I know that the dark times will come. The times when the body and frame won't be in the same place. It will be easier for them (and me) to keep their eyes on the vision if we have some good bonding time with the car before then. So, I start phase two- getting it roadworthy.

    Safety is not negotiable. We'll go with brakes and suspension first. Start at the back and work forward. I did an inspection of the rear brakes while it was still in the driveway (before the major garage cleaning and reorganization) and about shat myself when I pulled the rear wheels off- it still has the factory assembly line clips on the drums!

    [​IMG]

    Odometer shows 97K, and I had assumed that it was 197K, but this makes me wonder.

    Brake shoes weren't worn out, mainly because the rear seals had leaked, and they were well lubricated. Gave it new shoes, new seals, and rebuilt the cylinders. I had no problem getting the hard lines loose from the cylinder blocks, but I decided to replace every inch of hard line (brake AND fuel) while I was there on principle. With every piece I took off, I was glad I'd made that call. Nothing was leaking, but everything was about to!

    After a bitch of a time getting the banjo bolts to seal at the rear wheel cylinders, It was time to back her out and swap ends in the garage to start on front brakes and suspension. Brakes felt a LOT better than before!
     
  4. Awsome!
    Best of luck to ya.
     

  5. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    Ok, let's get one thing clear- I'm a good mechanic and electrician. I do it in factories for a living. But, what I love most about old cars is the sheetmetal work. Fixing the rust and restyling the body will be the most enjoyable parts of this Chevy for me. Probably even more fun than driving it when it's done. So- I will, from time to time, tackle something small in the sheetmetal department when the mechanical stuff is driving me nuts, or if I don't have parts. The weekend I met Gene Winfield and Voodoo Larry, I was still fighting the banjos on the rear brakes. Screw it- time to do some sheetmetal work. Nothing major, but SOMETHING! Start decking it.

    [​IMG]

    This will also happen during times when I don't have extra cash for parts. I'm budget building, make no doubt. The girls never deny me anything I want for the car, but I want to do it with as little impact as possible on the family funds. To that end, I've been selling off some bits and bobs that I've collected over the years, and the 68 Fairlane is on the market, too. I've also been building cornhole game boards and selling them. This is almost as much out of a personal challenge more than necessity, but it's my car, and I'll do it like I want to, both in styling, method and finance.

    On to the front suspension and brakes. After raising it up and doing a quick shakedown, I found that I have a good bit of play in the steering box, but all of the steering linkage (tie rods, drag links) seem tight. That might be good. I also have some play in the kingpins, but everything else on the control arms seems good.

    Decision time. What sort of front end do I go with on the car- there are enough choices to make your head spin: MII, Jag, clip the front, go with a whole frame swap, or go stock? I analyzed what was important to me. What can I see myself doing with the front end in the next ten years? I MAY want to go with disc brakes at some time, but not right now. I MUST lower it now. I MAY want to airbag it somewhere down the road. Power steering is not that important to me.

    I can do all that I want with the stock front end. The car is already engineered for it, and mine isn't in bad shape (or so I thought). And if anyone asks, I'll say I put a Corvette front suspension under it- '53 Corvette!

    Tear the whole thing down for close inspection and repair. Brake assemblies into the trunk for now, Kingpins off (bad thrust bearings is where that play was coming from), start scraping 60 years of caked dirt and grease from the control arms so I can remove them....

    OH SHIT!

    [​IMG]

    That's not good!

    Of course, thanks to the HAMB, it also wasn't a problem for long! Fred (Paintcan54) PM'ed me that he had a pair of lower control arms for a 53 Chevy lying around in his way, and if I wanted them to come get them. So, last week, the daughter and I spent an afternoon with Fred and his son. I got to meet a couple of great guys, and I hope he someday has a need that I can help with, because he refused to take any money for the control arms. Fred, if you're reading this, I don't care if you just need someone to help paint the house or sweep the garage- if you need help with something I AM THERE!

    So, now we're at this point, and the thread is current. I should have done it before now, but I really don't want to go further until I have a factory shop manual, which I ordered last night. This is what you see if you open my garage door:

    [​IMG]

    I'm in a bit of a mundane phase, and this isn't as glamourous as it will be when I get to cutting, welding and chopping. But, it may help someone in some way, and it's for that reason that I started the thread now. I always contend that message boards such as the HAMB are equally for making friends and sharing knowledge. I welcome all suggestions and if I can answer any questions, fire away. This build thread is nothing but self-serving crap unless I help someone with it.
     
  6. poorboy
    Joined: Feb 8, 2003
    Posts: 1,437

    poorboy
    Member

    keep up the good work! what are the plans ultimately as far as styling goes?
     
  7. Looks like your having fun so far! It's gonna look good when done.
     
  8. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    I suppose I should have mentioned it earlier., Some details are still unresolved, and anything could change according to my whims. It will, of course, be a traditional style custom. With a few exceptions, I want it to look like it just popped out of a time machine from the 50's or 60's. The purest of purists will find things to take exception with, and that's fine.

    For certain- at least a 3.5" chop. Partially nosed, but I like the hood bird and plan to leave it. Not sure what to do with the seam where the bullnose trim was. Debating whether to smooth it or peak it. Decked. Extend the rear quarters at the bottom. Not sure what taillights, but they won't be '59 Caddy or '51 Chevy. Most likely, I will french and inset lake pipes. The visor will almost certainly stay. I'm not the biggest fan of shaving- I will leave the chrome around the greenhouse or replace it with Pontiac chrome, and may leave the door handles. I may, depending on what grille I decide to go with, french the headlights, but I may not. Not sure on what bumpers I'll use, yet. Skirts are something that's on my mind, but I really want Radirs, so I may not skirt it so I can show the rear ones off, too. Of course, it will be lowered for now. I may bag the rear or all four corners later. For the grille and taillight treatments, I want to do something traditional, yet different. Something that works, yet something that will allow the car to stand out if parked in a line with a bunch of other 49-54 Chevies.

    Driveline- It will be swapped out. I thought about it long and hard, and I'm pretty well settled on hot rodding a bigger six. I'm currently torn between the true to tradition older sixes (but no dip oilers) and the less traditional, but easier to find parts for, cheaper, 7 main bearing newer sixes, like a 292. I will stick with a manual, but will move the shifter to the floor. I'll swap to an open driveline, and then hope to find a restorer who needs a 216 and the driveline.

    The interior is one place where I'm pretty well settled. Even though the color may not go, I plan to leave the dash in the original faded paint (with some pinstriping accents.)- I love the patina! Tunes will be out of sight. I love the stock dash, and really want to use the original gauges if possible. Leaving the push button start is a must. Probably go with some cool knobs on the controls, and I want to keep the parking brake handle in place and functional. Black and white roll and pleat upholstery of the original seats, and I'll make my own door panels. My car was a very low optioned car- it has a defroster, but not a heater. Not sure if I'll add heat, but right now, I say no. I even plan to leave the ancient compass screwed into the factory clock delete plate. I HATE dash compasses as a rule, but this thing has got to be 50+ years old- so it stays. Not sure what, but I'll probably swap out the steering wheel.

    Paint will probably be semigloss black with candy blue roof and scallops, with heavy flake. But who knows how many times I'll change my mind between now and time for paint.
     
  9. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    Well, my manual still isn't here, so no progress on the front suspension. But, there's PLENTY to do, and this weekend was busy for the car. Nice thing about an old car, even your area of focus is stalled, there's still plenty of work to be done somewhere else in the meantime. Most of the time spent this weekend was actually spent on my ass behind the wheel of my truck.

    Got up Friday morning, and the girl and I drove to Chicago (well, Carol Stream, actually) A gentleman from another msg board had this for sale:

    [​IMG]

    How's THAT for barn fresh: it still is covered with bat shit!

    Last night, I stripped everything out of the old door, and today:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The previous pics of the car don't show just HOW bad the old door was. With the new angles, you can see just how fooked it was:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am saving every remotely usable piece from the old door, and will even be cutting off the window frame. Some things I need for the new door, but there are a lot of bits and bobs that will just go into a box, waiting for someone who needs them. If anyone here has a need for any small door bits, hit me up and see if I can help.
     
  10. E HANSEN13
    Joined: Aug 2, 2009
    Posts: 500

    E HANSEN13
    Member

    Looks like your off to a great start bro keep it up...
     
  11. bt34
    Joined: Dec 22, 2006
    Posts: 288

    bt34
    Member

    Hiya, this is a kool thread, please keep at it...
    Pic is my 51, currently resting while I finish my F100.
    cheers bt
     

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  12. sheerterror
    Joined: Jun 7, 2010
    Posts: 18

    sheerterror
    Member
    from VA Beach

    just picked up a '51 chevy myself. subscribed!
     
  13. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    ^ I hope there is (or soon will be) something in the thread that will be useful to you.
     
  14. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    OK, time for an update. Progress has been a bit slow the past month. Putting back some of the disposable income for our Smokies trip in October. And, this sweeheart funnelled away some more of the Chevy cash

    [​IMG]

    I've been lusting for an Ellis since I first saw one. The deal on this one was too sweet to pass up! On to the car:

    When I last left things, there was a pile of front suspension parts under the front bumper. The upper control arms, spindles and spindle supports were fine, just needed cleaned and painted with rust encapsulator. Lower control arms were WASTED, but the HAMB came to my rescue- Fred (Paintcan54) saw the pics of my smoked arm and PM'ed me with an offer of a couple lower arms that were in his way. Wouldn't take any money for them, either.

    I cut one coil from the springs, and then had them shot blasted to reharden the surface of them.

    [​IMG]

    Paragon provided new shocks, lower inner shafts and bumpers, sway bar bushings and seals. Chevs of the 40's provided a new kingpin set, a replacement lower shock mount, and sway bar links. I sourced locally all new grade 8 bolts for the sway bar bushings and lower inner shafts, and all new grease zerks. Today, I got the last of it all put together.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Fred- once again, MANY thanks for your assistance! I hope seeing those arms cleaned, painted, and on my car gives you a bit of a smile.

    With that done, it's on to the front brakes and steering!
     
  15. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    Been a while since I've updated this, but I have been working. Got the front suspension and brakes all finished.

    I had the springs shot blasted to restore their springiness, and cut a coil to lower it. Net result= it doesn't sit any lower!

    [​IMG]

    Oh well, I can always cut more. I think I'll wait until after I get some proper wheels and tires on it, though.

    And I've been acquiring parts. With old cars and parts, you get the deals when you find them, even if you're not ready for the goodies at that point.

    Picked up these hubcaps back in November

    [​IMG]

    And picked this up today- 235 and 3 speed from a running '55 Chevy.

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, it's pretty complete- even got an extra starter, generator and new cap/rotor/points with it.

    [​IMG]

    And what's cool is that buying the engine helped two cool projects: the motor will find its' way into my '51, and the guy I bought it from will use the cash to help turn the '55 into a gasser.
     
  16. low-n-slo54
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,920

    low-n-slo54
    Member

    Cool man. I'm glad you have the skills to keep it alive!
     
  17. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    I'm still building away. I don't post each step on here anymore- I document it in my blog.

    http://51kustom.blogspot.com/

    I'm tearing into the very worst part of the car these days. I welcome any constructive comments and suggestions.

    But, just being honest, if your best suggestion is "find a better car," or " that thing is too far gone," you're better off telling it to a hammer. Not only is the hammer smarter than I am, it will listen to that sort of talk more than I will.
     
  18. BadLuck
    Joined: Jan 7, 2006
    Posts: 3,055

    BadLuck
    Member

    cool build! your making some good progress, gonna keep my eye one this one... keep at it, it will be worth it at the end :)
     
  19. keep us posted
     
  20. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,826

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Yep, keep us posted on the progress. I like the idea you have for the car so far.
     
  21. bdotyoung
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 50

    bdotyoung
    Member
    from New Jersey

    Nice thread. I recently got a 52. Subscribed!
     
  22. RICKY~RICARDO
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 405

    RICKY~RICARDO
    Member
    from Milwaukee

    Nice work so far man keep plugging away :)
     
  23. gsport
    Joined: Jul 16, 2009
    Posts: 678

    gsport
    Member

    it's been about five months since ya last reported... any updates???
     
  24. fbama73
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 989

    fbama73
    Member

    I'm still chugging along. Between this, and two other forums, I'd be running three build threads and having to type everything out three times. So, in the interest of efficiency (laziness), I just do one blog, and link it in my signature.

    I'm hoping to get some progress over the holiday weekend. We're only comitted to one family gathering on Thursday. The wife and the daughter will be cleaning the house for Christmas decorating on Friday, so I plan to barricade myself in the garage! Hoping to get the drivers side center body brace and rear footwell in and start fabbing the sides of the seat riser and front footwell. Big swap here on Sunday, too.
     

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