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TECH...53 Chevy T5/ open drive conversion.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tony, May 3, 2008.

  1. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    There's been a TON of question's asked on here regarding stovebolt chevy's, T5's and open drive conversion's..
    I just finished my 53 Chevy today with the help of a good friend, and the use of his shop :), converting from the stock non-syncro 3 speed and closed drive rear end to a S-10 T5 and 56 chevy rear with 3.36 gears and thought a tech post on this may help some other's who may be considering doing the same thing...
    So, here go's...

    First thing was getting the part's in order for the swap.
    After doing some research on adapter's, i talked with Buffalo enterprises, http://www.inliners.org/buffalo/index.htm, and went with one of his adapter's.
    Here's a pic..
    [​IMG]
    When you buy one of his plate's, you send him the front bearing retainer/input sleeve from your trans and he machines it for your application as well...

    I chose his because using his plate, you can retain the stock clutch, bell housing and pedal assembly.. All of which i wanted to do.
    The only custom item needed is a clutch disc with the T5 center and the 53 chevy dia disc..Some application's will also need the input shaft of the trans shortened where it slide's into the pilot bushing as well....that's it.
    First thing to do was remove everything from the car. I needed to get the flywheel and clutch assembly off so i could have a new disc made. A local company, Rochester Clutch and Brake, http://www.rochesterclutch.com/, has been in business a LONG time and is excellent at custom application's...so my clutch stuff went to them for a complete rebuild and custom disc..
    So while that was away, i mocked up the new plate..
    You can see how simple it is in this pic........
    (nice thing about this car is the whole floor tunnel is removable..made this job real easy)
    [​IMG]

    Once that was bolted on, we tried to slip the trans in place only to find i had to cut the center section of the original cross member out. The T5's body being much bigger than the stock 3 speed would need more room..
    [​IMG]

    Once that was opened up, we then slid the trans in place to check both fitment of the trans itself, and also the input shaft to make sure i didn't have to shorten it to fit the pilot..then on to make a new drop out cross member for the T5..
    I got lucky and didn't have to do anything to the input shaft..
    [​IMG]


    I bolted the new mount to the trans and started to fab the new drop out trans mount..
    Here's a pic of it from under the car.
    The motor was supported right from the start, so the angle was set, just needed to fab it up.
    [​IMG]

    Using 3/8 thick x 2" steel plate, we started making the side's to the new mount, welding them to the existing crossmember.. Then we used two more pieces of 3/8 plate as the side mount's, and a piece of 1/8th wall 1x2 rec tubing as the horizontal brace. We drilled hole's though the plate's on the frame, and drilled and tapped the one's for the drop out using 3/8th bolt's to hold it in place.. Then welded the 1x2 to the tapped side plate making it removable if needed..
    On to the next step...e-brake linkage.
    Because we had to modify the original crossmember, where the factory eBrake linkage once lived, we had to make changes there as well...
    We took the original bar, and made a series of bend's in it to clear the new trans..then made a small plate with a 1/4" slot cut in it, similar to the factory pivot point.. That piece was welded to the pass side 3/8" plate that was welded to the frame..
    It was moved rearward and down to both clear the trans body and give enough room for pull in order for the e-brake's operate.
    In these pic's you can see the stock linkage bar now bent to clear ( it used to be a flat plate) and the added piece for it to attach to.
    You can also see the new drop out transmission mount.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    On to the next step.......
    Rear end.
    hang tight..another post to follow.
     
    johnnyknuckles79 likes this.
  2. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    For the rear end, due to cost, and lack of money i decided to use the stock rear spring's for now..
    So, as many people have mentioned, the locater pic's are originally forward on these car's because the rear end does not use a stationary perch, it uses a pivot type perch and mount's about an inch and a half forward of the actual axle centerline, and also about 3/8"inward compared to the later open rear end..
    I had installed drop block's a couple year's back, so what i did was redrill the locater hole's in my block's, moving the rear end further back..[​IMG]

    We measured a couple time's and once satisfied we drilled.....
    Only to find it wasn't enough..Neither of us can figure out how we did that, but it was quickly solved and the "new" 56 chevy rear end was where it should be....
    Here's the block on the spring..
    [​IMG]

    Once you have those drilled ( or your axle if you have no block's) Find yourself some 55-57 lower U-bolt plate's/shock mount's, and it's as simple as setting the new rear end on, getting yourself some new U-bolt's and bolting it all together using the 55-57 lower plate's .
    The e-brake cable's will work, but you need to modify the backing plate's in order to use them. The 53's bolt to the backing plate (see pic above at the cable to see the factory mount) where as the 55 up use a clip in style that slide's through a hole stamped into it....I removed the stamped reveal allowing just enough room for the 53 cable to go through and fit flat against the backing plate and drilled new hole's to mount it...then just connected it to the 56 brake arms..
    Once the rear was in, i measured for the new driveshaft.. You do that by measuring from the trans seal at the tail housing to the yoke on the rear end.. Back there you take your measurement from the centerline of where the u-joint cap would be.......flat part of the u-joint cradle.

    Hang on, a little more to go..
     
  3. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    As i mentioned above, the floor tunnel in this was removable which made for cutting the hole very simple...
    I set it on, got under the car and just marked where it needed to be cut...then used a cut off wheel to get it done.
    [​IMG]
    The stock S-10 shifter actually fit's perfect....although it's ugly so it won't be staying too long...but for now it work's.
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, being a column shift car, once it's all gone your left with two hole's in your column........
    There's no way i could leave that, and i wasn't going to pull the column again to weld and repaint it.
    So, i decided my little inline needed a tach..
    I modified the tach bracket so the original shifter mouting hole's would now mount the tach bracket......
    Screwed it down, mounted the tach and ran the wire's through the
    hole in the dash once occupied by the shift rod...
    Clean and functional..
    [​IMG]

    Also, one of the reason's i used the tri-5 rear end was because of the ease of gear swapping.. I have a 57 chevy as well, and over the years have picked up a number of carriers for it...that will work in this as well...
    In a very short time i can swap out the 3.36's to 3.55's, 3.70's or 4.10's depending on where i'm going....
    Many other rear end's work just as good, but unless your swapping to a Ford 8" or 9", changing gear's isn't going to be so simple, or cheep...
    Just a thought.

    That's about it. Tomorrow i'll get some pic's of it all together..rear end, driveshaft shot's..

    After driving it, i can honestly say i'm glad i did this..
    Before, the car would run out of steam around 60 mph, pushing much more than that was pushing the limit of the stock mill with the stump pulling gears and three speed..
    Having a full syncro first is a VERY welcome addition as well.
    And now i can cruise at 70 with the tach just tickling 1900 rpm.........instead of it sounding like the the piston's wanted to swap cylinders...
    I wall say, this does NOT have to be done. I'm very aware that these car's can and have been driven stock for year's with great luck as i have done as well.....but after driving it both way's, i wish i would have done this sooner.

    Tony
     
  4. Boones
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 9,545

    Boones
    Member
    from Kent, Wa

    Tony, nice conversion, should make for a nice run to the showdown now.
     
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  5. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thanks Ken...I've only driven it a few mile's so far but it's a night and day difference..The car is still way under powered, but at least first is a bit shorter and the overdrive make's the best of what's there for highway speed's..
     
  6. Boones
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 9,545

    Boones
    Member
    from Kent, Wa

    compared to everything else you own, its always going to be underpowered with that motor. its got half the cubes
     
  7. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,410

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    Nicely done & well documented/presented.

    Hard to tell from the pics - does that adapter plate have a ring that sets into the bellhousing to locate the plate, or do just the bolts hold the plate on?
     
  8. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thanks Ernie.
    The plate does have a ring machined into it to locate it on the bell housing. I didn't take a pic of the front side of. The bolt's are also used as well as they have very close tolerances.
    The large ring you see machined into the rear side of the plate is where the bearing retainer fit's into as well to locate the transmission.
    Another thing needed to be done is ream the mounting hole's of the transmission to 1/2"..
    When the trans is slid into place it's a tight fit having both the retainer and bolt's locate it.
    Even though this is just a steel plate, i was very impressed with the accuracy of the machine work and how well it all fit together.

    Tony
     
  9. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 5,868

    TagMan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    As usual, Tony, you did a great job on the swap and you're going to LOVE having the O.D. available.

    Looking forward to seeing it.
     
  10. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thanks Tag....
    Got about 100 mile's on it today with only a clutch adjustment made..
    Still getting used to having so much gear.. Before it was laboring to go 60, now i'm finding myself speeding all the time...

    Back up for those considering a swap like this.
     
  11. Tony,

    Does this mean the chevy is gonna make the trip to the showdown?
     
  12. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thats the plan...i'll be driving it daily til we leave to shake it down and find any problem's if there is any...hopefully everything's good to go.

    Tony
     
  13. Long overdue post, and will help me out a bunch too... now what can we do to the title so people can find it in searches? (T5 is too short to search for)
     
  14. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 814

    52HardTop
    Member

    [​IMG][​IMG]Tony, you will find Buffalos work is always first rate. I have used many of his parts in my 52 and a 51 convertible I am doing. Also his plate makes up for the extra length of the input shaft. So the T-5 input shaft should not need to be shortened if using the Buffalo adaptor. I have to say this was one of the best swaps I've ever made for my car. I did remove my stock cross member and instead used the Waltons bolt in. Even though it is advertised as for the auto trannys only, I was able to use it with very little modification. It was also used to reinstall my stock emergency brake brackets.
    Dominic
     
    racer gentry likes this.
  15. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thanks, i hope it does help out, even if it's a little...i myself spent a LOT of time trying to research this and did come up with some good info, but no actual post of doing one..
    I was hoping for a tech week to post it so it didn't get lost because of the fast pace of this place but just wanted to get the info out.
    I put the open drive conversion in the title to help in the search area but i know what your saying..Just couldn't think of anything better..

    52Hardtop, very nice..
    I'll be doing more business with Buffalo when i need part's for this..Not only are his product's very nice, but i was very pleased with the way he treated me..
    I remember him telling me about the plate spacing the trans back, but he had also given me some written info saying i should check the input shaft length..certainly no big deal though, it's always good to test fit.

    Tony
     
  16. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,410

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    I put a link in the T5 Tech! Good stuff - thanks for sharing!
     
  17. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Cool Ernie..thanks!
    Your tech link's were helpful to me with this swap as well...

    Tony
     
  18. rustypipes
    Joined: Sep 30, 2004
    Posts: 977

    rustypipes
    Member
    from san jose

    Awesome Tech Tony!
     
  19. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Thanks Rustypipes..
    back up one last time for those thinking of doing this....then it's gone forever....ok, not really :)
     
  20. Big Tony
    Joined: Mar 29, 2006
    Posts: 3,590

    Big Tony
    Member

    Nicely done and good detailed write up. Those big ol homemade access panel are nice to have huh.... I did the same thing when i converted mine over. Good Luck dude.
     
  21. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Yeah they sure are handy..Nice thing about this one is it's factory..So i didn't have to cut the floor up..
    I'm not sure if it was all of them, or just stick car's but i'm glad this one had it :)..
    I'll be doing another tech post within the next couple week's concerning this car as well.
    Even though the way i put the rear end together is working fine, my spring's need new bushing's and they are original, so this past monday i ordered a rear suspension kit from Walton's.
    I didn't want to spend the loot, but i want the car right and just bit the bullet and decided to go that route..
    It's a simple swap, but again it may help someone to actually see it done..

    Tony
     
  22. KANE MCAFFER
    Joined: Jun 4, 2008
    Posts: 306

    KANE MCAFFER
    Member

    Thanks! I am doin the same in my '49. Helpful!
     
  23. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,820

    53sled
    Member
    from KCMO

    It is nice. You will like.
    The adapter would be especially helpful to those who have front engine and mid mounts, you could leave the engine bolted in place.

    I used a later bellhousing and trimmed my t5 to fit.
    What did you use for a drive shaft? I bucked up for a custom made one.
     
  24. Bigcheese327
    Joined: Sep 16, 2001
    Posts: 6,656

    Bigcheese327
    Member

    This is a great tech piece - now if someone would just do the same but figure out a way to keep the torque tube and the stock rear axle. Ford guys do it, why not Stovebolt guys?

    -Dave
     
  25. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    I had a new drive shaft made for this rather than go for a junkyard one and have it shortened. For the money it just isn't worth fooling around.
    The torque tube idea isn't a bad one, however my own thought's on it were pretty simple.
    Larger u-joints, better gear ratio option's than what was offered in the enclosed drive lines and using the 55-57 rear end allowed me to swap gear set's at any given time simply by dropping out the center section and tossing in another..
    Honestly this swap has made this car into a modern day real world driver. It has much better low end pull even with the higher 3.36 gears and the overdrive makes it super easy to keep up, or pass highway traffic without over revving the mill.
    It made the 600 plus mile trip to Pa for the Showdown smooth as glass even keeping up with the rest of the group running bent 8's..i will admit, it took me longer to catch 'em, but once it was rolling and 5th gear came along i was right there with 'em :D

    Thanks guy's for the words on the tech..i hope it come's in handy for those thinking of doing it themselves.


    Tony
     
  26. Rhino Ray
    Joined: Oct 27, 2008
    Posts: 7

    Rhino Ray
    Member

    This is the most helpfull post, I'm going to print it out and use it as I'm in the middle of the same project. Thanks!
     
  27. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    Cool! Glad it was helpful..:)
    I still think it was one of the best changes i've made to a car..it really made driving the car much easier in today's crazy traffic..not to mention it's much easier on the little 235 at highway speeds..
     
  28. i have been to steve's (buffalo) shop in stanwood on numerous occasions and pre 54' chevy cars and trucks are his real speciality. now if somebody could just make a reasonable power steering box.
     
  29. Keith English
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 400

    Keith English
    Member

    Does this swap require the adapter? I am putting a 235 out of a 57 car into the 53 and I am going to do the same. I have heard from several diffrent people that you do not have to use an adapter and that you do? Like you I am wanting to keep the stock clutch. Is the adapter only used so you do not have to shorten the tranny input shaft? Sorry for all the questions its just that i want all the info I can get before I tear into it. I also have printed this thread so I will have it when the time comes. thanks for posting.
     
  30. Tony
    Joined: Dec 3, 2002
    Posts: 7,311

    Tony
    Member

    To the best of my knowledge the only way to use the stock clutch linkage is to use the stock bellhousing. That's where this adapter come's into play. It allows you to do just that, and spaces the trans back a 1/2" so there is no need to modify the input shaft.
    There are other way's to go if you wanted. A chevy truck bell from the early 60's will bolt to the inline, and has the bolt pattern needed to use a late model 3,4 or 5 speed trans. These truck's where But it's the style with a hydraulic slave cylinder so i believe you will have to fab the clutch linkage/hydraulic system. Probably not a big deal, but i can't say because i havn't done one yet.
    I bought and still have the bell housing from i beleive it was a 62 Chevy truck because initially i was going to go that route, until i heard about Buffalo..
    For what it cost's, and how easy it is, i couldn't see screwing around with anything else.......
    It was that straight forward and simple..

    Tony
     

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