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Technical New to the custom world, need help making car safe and cool

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by young_gun2000, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. daddy_o's_diner
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,769


    I love to see the younger guys getting involved and do everything I can to encourage them. That said, I agree with 57jofomopar. Spend 1/2 the money on a daily and the rest on the project car.

    If you have your heart set on daily driving the Plymouth, I'd definitely suggest to clip it with a modern front suspension, steering and brakes. Re-power it with a small block Chevy and a 700r4. Well I'm sure some won't like that answer, you need it to be safe and rock solid dependable.

    Clip it, re-power it, re-wire it and roll it with pride.
    missysdad1 and 57JoeFoMoPar like this.
  2. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,647

    from omaha ne.

    318 and a 904...screw that chevy crap.
    partssaloon and oliver westlund like this.
  3. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,647

    from omaha ne.

  4. nailhead terry
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,449

    nailhead terry

    If you do a mopar small block headman 78500 headers help a lot flat collectors you have to use a mini starter but on a mopar everything is tight on the drivers side I have them on my 48 dodge truck with a 360 magnum
  5. Crocodile
    Joined: Jun 16, 2016
    Posts: 117


    Way too simple to be the cure (usually), but try pulling the starter out. If someone tried to crank it with low battery voltage, it may have engaged and then not turned the engine.
    I got a 8RT Ford that was rebuilt few miles before the F6 was parked from a friend's brother. They destroyed the clutch trying to pull start it, and ended up parting the truck out. Soon as I pulled the starter, spins like a champ!
  6. I agree with Jim here.
    If you're sure the clutch disengages and / or it's in neutral , and the starter is not stuck, start taking it apart.
    If it's had water or moisture in the cylinders, freeing it up won't help you much, except for taking the pistons out.
    It's going to need to be re-honed and new rings, at a very, very minimum, with what you've got planned for it.
  7. stubbsrodandcustom
    Joined: Dec 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,045

    from Spring tx

    I will say this, every disc conversion kit out there right now i have seen changes your front track width. If you are planning to lower a little bit take that into account. I had to redo my custom disc kit on my avatar due to a fault by me 10 years ago, this time its over engineered and utilizes the factor spindles and hubs, just removed the brake drum from the hub, got a 99 dodge avenger rotor, gm metric calipers, and some 1/4" plate that offsets to the back to align the caliper on the rotor.
    I have heard of the scarebird kit taking some work to make it fit. The rusty hope stuff looks better engineered for a bolt on.
    Surfcityrocker likes this.
  8. Peanut 1959
    Joined: Oct 11, 2008
    Posts: 1,492

    Peanut 1959

    I'll add my voice to the chorus of people advising you to spend half of your money on a reliable newer car (even if it is only as a back-up), then use the other half to start digging into the Plymouth. You won't regret it.
  9. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 10,237


    Sorry I hadn’t read you other reply’s but here is my two cents. I would sub frame it or a total Chassis swap. The running gear would not be traditional but who cares what’s under your car as long as you are driving it and safe. My Merc is channeled over a ‘78 Cougar running gear. When I bought it I had to drive it everyday for years, it was safe and dependable. Congrats on your purchase and thank you for posting the thread. Kustoms can be built on a budget and can be used on a daily basis. Good luck keep us posted with the progress.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    richards69impala likes this.
  10. Dwardo
    Joined: Aug 1, 2017
    Posts: 58


    I'll stick my nose in. What you want to do is awesomely cool. The fact that your fiancé is down with it is even cooler. But it's not really practical now. It may be better or worse depending on what the traffic and weather are like where you live, but certain things have changed. In the 70s and 80s I frequently drove Hudson Hornets as my only car and it worked better then because you could buy things like 6-volt headlights and bulbs readily. Those sorts of things don't really occur to you but automotive technology has changed drastically and that is reflected in the kind of parts you can buy "right now", not to mention the fact that most garages aren't well equipped to handle such an old car. As others have said, these cars require intensive maintenance even when everything is right. Get the owner's manual for your car and see what the mileage intervals are for routine things. You will be amazed at how often you have to adjust brakes, for example, or clean and reset points (a lost art). And in cold weather it is not unusual for those cars not to start, especially on 6 volts. When I was young it was a neighborhood routine that all the dads on the street were helping each other start their cars just to go to work, because invariably somebody's car wouldn't start. I often think about how it would be to do my current commute (100-120 miles round trip) in one of my old cars. I would literally have to spend every weekend working on it. So, the suggestion to spend have on a fairly late model beater and the other half on fixing up your "real" car, is a good one. That would keep your interest alive and allow you to drive it to work when you feel like it. I'd start with a complete brake overhaul and upgrade to front disks. That's my .02.
  11. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 976


    I won't comment on the on the engine aspects of your build but as far as the custom part goes....
    Lowering these cars is pretty simple. Blocks in the back and new coil springs in the front. Skirts would add to the look as well.
    Simple body mods would be to to fill the hood and also remove some of the trim. I also like the looks of the 49 Plymouth ripple bumpers over the 50 and should be a direct bolt on. How far you want to take it is entirely up to you. Maybe a Tuck and roll interior??
    If you do go for the daily driver I would up grade to a newer electric windshield wiper system as I think these were still vacum.
    Good to see another MOPAR custom coming. Here is the 49 Doge I am currently working on. Stock and now... IMG_4485.jpg ga8v5xmtkwo55nl4gaujw6tru2jnerpk.jpg A bit more done to it then you may want to do.LOL It's chopped and sectioned.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
    classiccarjack and kidcampbell71 like this.
  12. ShortyLaVen
    Joined: Oct 13, 2008
    Posts: 612


    I'll chime in as another young guy. When I was 18 and just out of high school (2012) my girlfriend and I packed up my '66 Buick and hightailed it to Sacramento where I got myself 40k in debt going to school. So you're already 50k ahead of that bad move LOL!!! I didn't have a "new" car of my own to be a daily driver until this last year when I really needed a winter car after moving to Minnesota. I mostly drove my '53 Packard all through highschool, and also had my '66, girlfriend's '68 Poncho, and my mom's '63 Merc aside from that. They were all daily drivers, and the Merc was just the ol' family truckster for us. I say if you really want a safe daily that can handle the commute just fine, maybe look for a 60s car that is already a driver. You could find something pretty decent for 3-4k, and then put the rest into the Plymouth and make a weekend cruiser out of it.

    I drove both that same '63 Merc, my '64 Comet, and then my '60 Chevy (when it still had the 235) over 115 miles per day for almost two years when I lived in Phoenix. They all did great. The Comet was the best of the bunch for that type of driving. It had a cammed 200 six with a C4 and somewhere around 3.50 gears. Hummed along just fine down I-10 and up the Bee Line Highway at 3,200rpm and got over 20mpg!!! 60s cars like that are the best of both worlds to me, as they are still not a Toyota, they have great styling, and by '64ish they are pretty well mechanically modern.

    If you are going to daily the Plymouth, parts for those sites are easy to obtain. I think they used those engines in a lot of industrial applications for about of years. I have installed a few Scarebird brake conversions and they are great. I think if anyone has had issues with them they probably ordered the wrong kit or didn't know exactly what car they were working on as there are some subtle differences with spindles and such. I did one a few years ago on a '55 Plymouth (not exactly the same as yours but is still more similar than the later 50s stuff). It uses I think Ford Probe rotors and S10 Blazer calipers. It didn't really stop any better or worse, but was worth it for the tapered roller bearings alone, and for future serviceability.

    You might also like to look for a factory OD parts car to get all your trans parts from. I think they probably used a Borg Warner R10 or R11. Stock the OD cars would have used something like 4.11s, but with your higher gears from a non-OD car you would have the same final ratios as you do now, plus overdrive for the highway. Once you update the bearings I don't think 70-75 in OD would be too bad, and still have the revs up in the middle 2000s. If you
  13. gsnort
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 171


    Welcome. Keep the Plymouth, and buy a more contemporary used car for 5K. That means you have 5K for fixing that Plymouth and enjoying it for a long, long time. Heck, you might be able to give it to your grandkids.
  14. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 488


    Hope you had "tough skin".....
    Bunch of crotchity old men on here(like me) who are not Politically Correct. We had rather give it to you "un-filtered" and maybe save you some heartache/headache/buttache and or money OR maybe keep you from kill'in yourself.
    We were all pretty much "young-and-dumb-and-full-of-come" too and looked at the world a little differently than now.
    Lotsa good advice on here.
    None of us can quote you the odds of marriage survival (at such a young age) many times you make it to work on many breakdowns...or what caused them...etc.
    Just be careful and think with that thang between your shoulders.
    Hutkikz likes this.
  15. proartguy
    Joined: Apr 13, 2009
    Posts: 293

    from Sparks, NV

    As owner of a ‘51 Plymouth I would suggest a couple things. First is gearing. An overdrive or 5 speed really changes the game. Second is brakes. The old set-up works ok if properly adjusted, which is pretty often. I used Scarebird brackets and suggest parts without grinding. He does seem to periodly change his product to use different rotors and calipers. Did mine about 10 years ago.
    The downside in daily use is the maintenance of the kingpin style front end, lube every 1000 miles. Changes to the front shock setup and sway bar results in a nice driver without a clip or frame swap.
    Old Plms are great cars, well built, comfortable and dependable.
  16. oliver westlund
    Joined: Dec 19, 2018
    Posts: 677

    oliver westlund

    i drove a 54 ford all through high school (graduated 2007) and took it on many 3-4 hour roadtrips, i would consider an engine swap if i were you, flatheads just werent made for 65-75 mph every day. for 10k you shouldnt have ANY trouble swapping motor and trans! u think some of these guys are too used to having 10k engines built haha i have refurbished engines at home that i got cheap out of running cars or on stands off craigslist. a full rebuild at my local machine shop is only 2k-2500 that is of course a mostly stock rebuild. no roller rockers or aluminum heads or anything. its doable man. dont get discouraged, just look at what engine and trans options other guys have stuck in their 50's be methodicak and do tons and tons of research
  18. xhotrodder
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 1,510


  19. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,328

    from SW Wyoming

    There are a couple of threads on here about installing front discs, one used all junkyard parts from an Explorer, with flame cut brackets that the OP posted a template of. I believe that thread actually covered a '48, but that should apply to yours. You can lower it an inch or so in the front by relocating the spring plate that is attached to the lower control arm, and you can use F1 front shock mounts to relocate your front shocks. Have you had any time to look at your engine yet?
  20. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 1,169


    Cars from the 50s had a life expectancy of 70,000-80,000 miles, and that was when everything was new, and well maintained. At 24,000 miles a year, it will be pretty rough in 3 years, if its been rebuilt and everything has been well maintained.

    My 48 Plymouth has a 90s chassis under it. I have driven it 50,000 miles in 6 summers. It has been well maintained, and everything on the chassis was rebuilt when the car was built. There are things I need to do to it this year.

    My point it, you really need to get past the early 2000 model years, and maintain it well, to have a vehicle that will survive long at 24 K miles a year, if it is your only transportation.

    A back up ride is a solid plan that is a great idea, and one I have never regretted. I agree with the others, if you don't already have reliable transportation, spend 1/2 your money and buy one.

    Past that, modern disc brakes in modern traffic is a must. Relocate the upper shock mount. If you can save the flathead, an OD or OD trans would be a good investment for those days you want to travel faster then 60 mph. If the flathead proves to be questionable, I wouldn't bat an eye at many modern V6 or V8 motors and their attached OD transmissions, I'd probably add a modern rear end with easier to deal with brakes as well. Once the driver status has been met, customizing would be the next step. Its a lot more fun to drive these old cars as fun rides then it is as a means of a transportation requirement to get someplace at a specific time. Gene
    'Mo likes this.
  21. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,150


    It's not a question of guys spending 10K on engines, you can call up Jegs and get a crate engine delivered to your door for less than $2000 with zero miles on it. It's guys who have been there and done that speaking from experience about trying to daily drive an old car and bullshit you have to go through to do it. My high school car was a 57 Bel Air with a 283, and I can tell you that engine (which wasn't locked up btw) wouldn't have lasted 2 years with that kind of milage on it. Every cold start was an issue, and you'd have to sit and wait for the car to warm up before you'd have a steady enough idle to drive off in gear. No OD relegates you right lane driving on the highway, even Econo-shitboxes are blasting past you with the better gearing. Fuel economy will be terrible, and will be a significant cost of ownership. And face reality, if you're going to try to get the flat 6 running, you're going to break down constantly. Personally, I'm not going to let an unreliable car fuck with my ability to get to work and earn a living, and your school/employer isn't going to give a shit about your awesome car if you roll in late because you had car trouble.

    You're also going to appreciate the disposable nature of a regular daily driver. You're going to damage the car by that kind of daily use. Rock chips, door dings, chipped windshields, small fender benders.... this shit happens. And it sucks more when you care about your car.

    Depending on who you insure the car with, you may also be violating the terms of your policy by daily driving the car. This is a point that hasn't been brought up yet in this thread. Most classic insurers do not want you daily driving your classic car, and require you to maintain a modern daily driver as a condition of the policy. While some like Grundy don't have milage restrictions, your car must be garaged and be a pleasure driver, not a daily. If you have to file a claim and they find out you're daily driving it, they can lawfully disclaim coverage, potentially leaving you with the cost of legal defense and nobody to indemnify you if you're the one on the receiving end of a lawsuit. That's a place I would not want to be. So you're put into a conundrum; insure the car with an standard auto policy that usually won't give you an agreed value, or insure it at agreed value with a classic policy and risk having no coverage. A lose/lose.

    Then the final issue is that you have to be honest with yourself as to your skill set. Are you an advanced mechanic or fabricator, an hobbyist, a total novice...? I will tell you from experience from having V8 swapped these years of Mopars, a V8 is not a drop in. You'll need to lose about half of your firewall and chop through 2 big ribs in the firewall that are also your front body mounts. Then you'll have to switch over to 12v. Not impossible of course, we put a 318 in a '52, but if you don't have a substantial amount of skill and tools at your disposal you'll find yourself in over your head almost immediately.

    We don't want you to become discouraged, and its a lot easier to power through problems when you don't need to rely on the car to get you from A-B.
    46international likes this.
  22. oliver westlund
    Joined: Dec 19, 2018
    Posts: 677

    oliver westlund

    i never had to do anything to my 54 ford other than regular maintenance but it DID only have 80k original miles. thats why im saying he would be in good shape if he swaps motor, trans and potentially even rear diff. ill tell you one thing, in my 54 ford I WAS HAVING A BLAST every where i went. i dont enjoy econo cars, i get where hes coming from. i think whether its possible or not is really going to come down to what kind of a deal he can find on parts and how capable he is. to me in my area, this kind of project would easiest happen by buying another car with the entire drive train you want... just an opinion though. i look at things differently because i am cabable of doing things some people cant too. i can rebuild a trans or an engine, i can get custom drivelines for cheap, i have a lot of connections everybody doesnt necessarily have so what i know is just what i know
  23. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 40,954


    LOL I know right? When I was 18 I worked as a welder for 80 dollars a week bring home. That pretty much paid the bills. I worked on cars on the side for diaper and hot rod money. We passed on a 250 dollar (I had that much saved in my hot rod fund) running/driving '54 Corvette. It needed tires and a top. We had tires and it was June. We passed because we didn't think we could come up with top money before the snow flew. :oops:
  24. Nothing is more true than this!
  25. I drive 100 miles a day to work and back and until last year I did it in a '91 Ford festiva, at first it was getting 50 mpg but 16 years later with over 400K miles it was down to about 42 mpg. It got to the point that every other weekend I was doing something on the car brakes, exhaust, front end work, tires, etc... I would not want to think about the maintenance required on a 1950 car doing that.
    Like others said, buy a cheap commuter car that gets good mileage, I bet you will end up with more money to spend on the Plymouth in the long run.
  26. classiccarjack
    Joined: Jun 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,408


    This oughta stir up the neigh sayers!!!

    I got crucified for having a Plymouth 6 banger with drum brakes. With some good modifications to the engine, and proper gearing, the Mopar six is totally adequate for daily driving. I drove mine as a daily driver for over 10 years, averaging 30k + the first 6 years. Then I built a 1959 Dodge and shared miles between them both. The drum brakes never let me down. I adjusted them on every oil change, and my pedal never got low. I NEVER experienced brake fade neither, but my vehicles were manual transmissions, the engine would aide in breaking, and I drove sensibly, preventing overheating my brakes. I had my share of panic stops here in SoCal, trust me on that statement....

    I was in my twenties then, and I still have that Plymouth today... I am almost 50... And yes, that six is STILL in it. I can't kill it!!!! And I have tried, have witnesses to prove it! LOL. My 340 6-pak nor my 383 will never be put in this car until I decide to just pull out the Six. If it ain't broke, don't fix it is a good Moto to live by.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  27. classiccarjack
    Joined: Jun 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,408


    I must add this note, my car never has stranded me. My "Modern" cars have. Bailing wire, a spare set of points, and some spare spark plugs don't do a damn thing if your computer craps out. My Plymouth is my back up car. I now have a job that requires close to 80,000 miles a year to do. I buy modern OT throw away cars, not because I am worried about breakdowns, but because I love my Plymouth and want to preserve it. I have more $$$ now, and can buy the modern plastic shit boxes to use as tax write offs... None of my other vintage makes were not anywhere as reliable as the Mopar six. I have owned a lot of different cars, GM's, Ford's, Jap cars, and Euro cars. None of them had the reliability I experienced with the simplistic Mopar inline sixes....

    It's not my opinion, just my personal experience. I started out a Chevy guy, then a Ford guy, then it was Pontiac, then Datsun, then Mopars. I just can't believe how tough a Mopar is. This is why I became a loyal believer. I get made fun of because of my car preference. But then I am always helping my buddies fix their broken crap. LOL

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Frankie47 likes this.
  28. hkestes
    Joined: May 19, 2007
    Posts: 534

    from Plano, TX

    I drove my 48 Plymouth coupe with a 230 flathead and R10 OD as my daily driver in and around Dallas for about 6 years. I did upgrade the brakes with the Rusty Hope disc kit and entirely rebuilt the front and rear suspension, rear brakes and installed new master cylinder and brake lines. I had also changed over to an HEI distributor and 12 volts.

    Made several trips from Dallas to the HAMB Drags in Joplin, MO which was about 750 miles round trip. Had one issue when the car had to be hauled home from Durant OK because it broke a valve. Other than that kept the maintenance up and had no issues.

    Chrysler built the flathead sixes up until the mid 60s and parts are available at NAPA / O'Reilly etc. They may not have them in stock, but can get them there in a day in most cases.

    IF you make yours a daily driver then I would strongly encourage you to do the disc brake swap/upgrade of the entire brake system and add an overdrive. Either the R10 which is a direct bolt in and running a couple of wires for the solenoid/governor or a T5 swap from an S-10. The T5 is going to be more readily available, but the R10 is a much easier install.

    Here is the 230 that was in my car.

    Before I added the head.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
    harpo1313 and classiccarjack like this.
  29. Puka
    Joined: Dec 29, 2011
    Posts: 20

    from Arkansas

    Welcome you man! As for advice, once you get that motor unstuck, the first think I'd do is upgrade you brakes. Manual drums are the worst it but, they aren't the best either. Us older guys grew up with them so we just, know how they act but for a younger fellow like yourself, I'd say upgrade them to the best thing you can afford and go from there.

    Again, welcome and good luck to ya
  30. classiccarjack
    Joined: Jun 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,408


    Damn! Very nice!!!!

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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