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Projects Scratch built "Gasser" 57 Vette

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Utahvette, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    Yeah, I know what you're thinkin, How many early Corvettes is this guy going to destroy before this madness stops? I thought it might be interesting to go back in time a few years and recap the build of my straight axle 57 Corvette. The term Gasser is so often misused it's become common place to call any thing, new or old, with more than 4 inches of front tire fender clearance a gasser, so I'll admit that to call my Vette a gasser is technically incorrect, but I think everybody knows what "Look" you're referring to when you say gasser so I'll use it. I didn't take as many pictures of the build as I should have but I will show examples of what I'm talking about as I go. There were some interesting facets about the construction that I think you'll enjoy and may be able to use in a future build of your own. I've wanted a straight axle 57 for several years but just never got around to getting serious about it until I ran across this ad in the local paper. Even then, it wasn't what I really wanted , being a 59 instead of a 57. It had been in the paper a week or so when I decided I had to go look at it and see what it was like. Obviously other people had looked at the car and passed on it because it was to rough for them. Letting your imagination run a bit wild reading the ad you can easily conjure up all these images of the Corvette consisting of so much more than the ad states and therefore being this great find, but in this case the ad says it all. Your basic bare shell from the cowl back with empty doors, deck and trunk lid on a rolling frame. Hey, it's a start. Kinda funny, just 10 years ago there were actual want ads in the paper and now they're all gone. DSCN2025.JPG DSCN2024.JPG
     
  2. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 3,489

    Bandit Billy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Fiberglass car..."scratch" build, funny.
     
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  3. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 8,872

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    So, whatcha say'n binky:D
     
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  4. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    While this isn't the actual car I bought , essentially it's the same thing. You just don't get much for your money anymore when it comes to early Corvettes. I was able to get the owner down a little on his price. $5500 for what you see here. After I got it home it sat around for a few months before I was offered $2000 for the bare frame. The offer came from a guy that was restoring a car with a very rusty frame. They would give me their old frame also. I realized that I was going to cut off the front of my frame at the firewall and modify the rear sections anyway, so all I would be using was the center section, and that's the simplest part to fabricate, so why not sell it and recover some of the investment and build a whole new custom frame. And the frame I was getting, although rusty was straight and would still be usable as a jig to set up my body for assembly. 102.JPG
     
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  5. 63Compact
    Joined: Feb 14, 2007
    Posts: 1,124

    63Compact
    Member

    Keep going
     
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  6. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 3,995

    chevy57dude
    Member

    Any model of '57 Chevy gets the high sign from me!
    Did you get papers with it?
     
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  7. jammer
    Joined: Oct 18, 2003
    Posts: 56

    jammer
    Member

    Don't stop now ! I'm in .
     
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  8. stangman05gt
    Joined: Mar 12, 2011
    Posts: 164

    stangman05gt
    Member
    from illinois

    Any chance the vin on that 59 end in 109543 ? I have been searching for my dads vette for years.
     
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  9. Following
     
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  10. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    So now I have the rear section of a body and no real plan. Then one day a friend of mine stops by with a front upper surround panel for a 57 Corvette in the back of his truck. He had just picked it up at a freight salvage warehouse. It was slightly damaged with about a 6 inch crack above the right wheel well. He said he bought it for $100 and wanted$150 for it. Well how could I turn that down! These things cost about $900 back then, plus shipping. Of course I'll take it. I'm thinking "What a score"! With this I can turn my 59 into a 57 because the body from the doors back is basically the same . Mainly the front end and dash are different. I've got the top half of the dash needed on the new surround and the bottom half is available, so without too much trouble I can build the 57 body that I really wanted. Also, the new panel was of the "press molded" construction. Meaning it was of better quality than most of the other fiberglass parts floating around out there resulting in a nicer finished product. This meant that I would be assembling a multi piece nose like the factory did, a bit more labor intensive as opposed to a one piece "hand laid"replacement part, but it would be a little bit more correct looking from underneath when finished. Not too critical but a nice little bonus. The bad part, looking back on it, was that here I thought I would be saving all this money on the front end because I got such a deal on this panel, but then the individual pieces to complete the nose would end up costing more than just buying a complete one piece nose. I didn't take that into consideration at the time. Oh well, it's not the first time I've been bitten by the "false economy" bug and likely won't be the last. Corvette_1956_1.jpg
     
  11. scotty t
    Joined: Aug 31, 2007
    Posts: 1,667

    scotty t
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Indiana H.A.M.B.ers

    So you already converted a 56-7 to the newer dash now you're going the other way with this one? The purists will choke on this!!! If you get a chance post some pics of your other creations please. Hot rods ta hell, the other 57 and "hopefully" others that I'm not aware of. I'll be following along to see what magic you work into this one.
     
  12. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    You're right , but that's just the way it goes sometimes when you're working with junk.
     
  13. scotty t
    Joined: Aug 31, 2007
    Posts: 1,667

    scotty t
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Indiana H.A.M.B.ers

    I can’t think of a better way to use those old carcasses, there are more than enough restored vettes out there!
     
  14. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    Now that I've settled on a 57 build I needed to come up with a look. Being somewhat partial to the gasser trend I started searching for inspirational pictures. Something that had the right look and the all important stance. Having a fairly extensive magazine library to draw from I began flipping through thousands of pages looking for just the right car. I found it, or close to it, with a version of this shot. The version I used didn't have the girl in it but was obviously from the same photo shoot. I really liked the look of the original car but it was just a little too "showcar" for my tastes, and I'm not a big fan of tall scoops(although this one is really cool looking). I want to see where I'm going. I had just picked up a photo editing program so I altered the photo to more closely match my vision of what I wanted my car to look like. Even stuck my head in the car. I pictured the paint a metalflake yellow at the time. This was the general appearance I was after. 22042243_355866531505253_2968360048581160815_o.jpg DSCN2033[1].JPG
     
  15. Your posts are the best..... keep it coming!
     
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  16. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    With just the rear body section minus doors, trunk and deck lid, the tub is pretty easy to move around by myself. I connected two creepers together with some 2x4s to build a rolling cart to set the body on. Since it was so easy to flip it over I thought now would be a good time to clean the bottom so it would be just a little bit nicer to work on and look at in the future. After I got it upside down and cleaned it up, it occurred to me that at some point I'm gonna have to build a frame for it, and what could be easier than doing it now, upside down. I made a trip to the local metal yard and bought some 2x4 steel. I think all the metal cost $130. Just cut the pieces and lay them on the floor and tack them together. Man it went together so smooth! I cut and laid out the frame from the firewall back in a couple of hours giggling the whole time. It was genius! 571.jpg 572.jpg
     
  17. VonWegener
    Joined: Nov 19, 2009
    Posts: 757

    VonWegener
    Member

    Wonderful!
     
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  18. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    I couldn't fabricate the front portion of the frame yet because I didn't know where the nose was going to be in relation to the front rails. The next thing to do was temporarily mount the body back onto the straight, but rusty frame and hang the new nose on it. Using the rusty frame as a guide, I could get the pieces aligned correctly to ensure I didn't end up with a misaligned nose or some other unforeseen problem. Once it, the inner skirts and dash were glued into position I removed the body and once again flipped it over and set it on the creeper cart. Somewhat following the angles the factory used, I built the front frame section. One thing I'd like to point out in the picture is the way I positioned the spring pads outboard of the frame rails. I did this for two reasons. First, by doing so and just tack welding them in place I could adjust the final ride height after the chassis was fully loaded by grinding the welds off and moving the pads vertically up or down on the side of the frame to get the perfect stance. Secondly, I discovered from experience that reducing the distance between your spring pad and the king pin greatly reduces the leverage the axle has to bend outboard of the spring pad(were they usually bend). As long as you have adequate tire to spring clearance when turning I don't think you can go to wide. Remember, in this case short and stiff is better than long and flexie. You can see what I'm talking about in the pictures below. The middle picture shows the long leverage the axle will have on the spring pad. The bottom picture shows a more desirable setup. Sure you can make the axle stronger by inserting stiffeners into it or changing the materials in order to withstand the narrower spring stance without bending but with a little different engineering that shouldn't be necessary. cropped front.jpg download.jpg 54art1.JPG
     
  19. I never wanted a corvette till I came across your build diaries!
     
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  20. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 9,816

    AHotRod
    Member

    Very cool !
     
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  21. jammer
    Joined: Oct 18, 2003
    Posts: 56

    jammer
    Member

    Purple , I'm with you !
     
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  22. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 9,816

    AHotRod
    Member

    Hi Bob :)
     
  23. jammer
    Joined: Oct 18, 2003
    Posts: 56

    jammer
    Member

    Happy Fathers Day , Glenn & Everybody out there
     
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  24. verno30
    Joined: Aug 25, 2008
    Posts: 964

    verno30
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  25. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    When laying out the front frame rails I made sure to line up the frame with the opening in the firewall for the steering column. I didn't want to have to buy expensive u-joints for the steering box if I didn't have to. As with my other builds, I'm very cost conscious(cheap ass). Not that I would necessarily cut corners on anything important, but if there's still a good way to do it cheaply I'm gonna choose that way. On the subject of the steering box, one late night I was working on the front suspension and grabbed the box to mock up the mounting bracket on the side of the frame. I walk over and hold the box up to the side of the frame and I'm puzzled by the lack of fit. I mean it doesn't even come close. What the? In fact, the box is totally wrong. The mounting holes are on the wrong side. How could I have messed up so drastically? It took longer than I would like to admit before I realized I was working on the wrong side of the car. With the car upside down the sides are reversed. Duh! I was trying to mount it on the passenger side. I quit for the night and went to bed. r20007.JPG
     
  26. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    For the rear suspension I chose to go with coil overs and ladder bars. I like the look of ladder bars and by using coil overs I would avoid the binding that leaf springs will give unless you are using housing floaters(an added expense). The coil overs are inexpensive from Summit and have an added benefit of being light weight compared to a pair of leaves . About this point I decided to try to keep weight down whenever it was reasonable to do so. When presented with two choices I would try to chose the lighter option if the cost wasn't prohibitive. Like the starter. I needed to buy a starter and the cost wasn't much different so I bought the mini instead of the big one. I used a corporate 10 bolt from a 1970s Firebird for the rear end. After mock up it was determined it was too wide by a few inches. The tires would stick out more than I wanted. Looking in Summit again I found that stock replacement axles for a Grand National Buick 10 bolt were just the right length so I narrowed the housing myself to fit. With the rear end assembled minus axles, I cut off the ends about 2 inches from the outer end and stood the housing on end. With the new axle dropped into the housing I could see how much to cut the ends down to fit. With the trimmed ends and backing plates slipped onto the new axles I dropped them back into the housing to check the final fit. Being C-Clip style axles the length was pretty critical to get right. Once satisfied with the fit I beveled the edges and mig welded the ends on while making sure the brake backing plates were square to the housing. After nearly 10 years of use they seem to be fine. r20009.JPG
     
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  27. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 31

    lumpy 63
    Member

    Man I love it! I'll be following this one! A straight axle early vette is on my bucket list:)
     
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  28. LM14
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 994

    LM14
    Member
    from Iowa

    I would sure consider moving those coilovers. Long ways from the contact patch to the spring. Will make the shocks very soft and there will be very little resistance to any roll. Straight behind the ladder bars would be a much better location. Just a thought.

    SPark
     
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  29. Utahvette
    Joined: Sep 4, 2012
    Posts: 193

    Utahvette
    Member

    You're absolutely right except with ladder bars there is virtually no roll. All the springs do is hold up the car. Very good point for any other setup though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
    loudbang and chryslerfan55 like this.
  30. Kiwi Kev
    Joined: Apr 24, 2006
    Posts: 7,347

    Kiwi Kev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Awesome project. Look forward to following your progress!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018
    loudbang likes this.

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