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Projects The Best 1955 Cadillac build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by VonBurke, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Double Caddy
    Joined: Feb 2, 2009
    Posts: 689

    Double Caddy
    from virginia

    Sorry about the motor .atleast you were fairly close to have friends be able to get the car for you. the car is looking great . have you been able to figure the motor issues out yet??
  2. Mo$4Ford
    Joined: Sep 7, 2009
    Posts: 116


    Love The Caddy Build, Spent Last 2 Hours Reading Post. Great Job!
  3. claymore
    Joined: Feb 21, 2009
    Posts: 896


    Man that sucks. But give yourself a few days to calm down and you will begin to miss working on it and want to see what it's major malfunction really is. Hope it's not too bad.:(
  4. E HANSEN13
    Joined: Aug 2, 2009
    Posts: 503

    E HANSEN13

    Wow nice job that some of the best work i have seen.. I like alot guys.
  5. Too bad about your engine Roger.

    I was wondering why there were no pictures of your car from Salina. I was afraid to ask about it figuring that when you were ready the story would come out. I knew, if it was there, someone would have shot some pics of it.

    Believe me, we know how exasperating it is to lose an engine, due to a shoddy build, while on the road to a show. I hope your engine guy stands behind his work better than ours did. Fortunately you also had a friend who helped get the car back home to a safe place.

    Keep us posted with the findings.
  6. Arizona Geezer
    Joined: Oct 18, 2005
    Posts: 499

    Arizona Geezer

    What a beautiful car! Nice job, Roger! I know it's a setback........but you'll be up and runnin' in no time! Can't wait to see it in person!
  7. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,394


    Appreciate all the comments...

    Bill and Lori -thanx, a HAMB friend sent an interesting analogy to me vie e-mail, I've asked him to post it here...
    Patrick66-that's why you didn't see me in Salina and you didn't get that ride you asked for, but I was there.
    Slowandlow63-Bill, yeah, I guess "she" decided she wasn't ready.
    Double C- engine guy is supposed to be at my place today (Monday)...we'll know the outcome then...
    Claymore -I'm sure that "desire" will return..."when" is the question.
    Slick50 Ken- you know me too well ...
    ArizonaGeezer-Thanx for the compliment...maybe the Cad's debut will be Moab next April, will YOU be there...??? I hope so, your '56 is looking better each day...

  8. 54delray
    Joined: Dec 18, 2004
    Posts: 823

    from Fremont NE

    Roger, here's that interesting analogy I promised you via email.

    First off, REALLY sorry to hear your story knowing you worked so hard to get everything buttoned up before the Salina Spectacular. But I think the old rear bumper and the silver painted dagmars were a pre-cursor the engine problem. Your car may have been telling you something.

    Think of a fine looking and very classy lady. She doesn't want to go out until she looks just right. She'll spend hours in the powder room or primping in front of a mirror. The results can be stunning. But if you're outside the door, hollerin "dammit woman, are you ready to go already?" there's a pretty good chance you are going to see a tizzy fit.

    Readers of this thread will no doubt agree that your '55 Caddy is a fine and elegant machine. A beautifully done custom! Maybe she was trying to tell you something. Ok, the possible internal engine damage is a major tizzy fit. Perhaps a flat tire or a dead battery would have been more appropriate, but I don't think SHE was ready to "go out". With that beautiful paint and especially that sweet polished grill, I don't think she wanted to make the scene wearing those not-chrome dagmars.

    What, you didn't hear that in the back of your mind when you left that day? "Honey, Do these dagmars make my custom grill look fat?" I'm just sayin .....

    Anyway, I know this had to be like a punch in the gut for you. Hope you get the wind back in your sails on this project when the time is right. I could understand not wanting to turn a wrench on her for a little while.

    Bill H
  9. NoSurf
    Joined: Jul 26, 2002
    Posts: 4,104


    It was great to see you in Salina. Sorry you had problems with your new Caddy. I am sure you will overcome this adversity. It's a great looking car.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  10. 1931av8
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Posts: 389



    I had to read your tale twice to fully appreciate all you said. I certainly understand your frustration in not getting to Salina...but really your theory that you were getting BENEFICIAL devine guidance. Take it for that, re-energize, then you will be better prepared to go back and fix that:

    One single item of thousands that were accomplished on this car that happened to stop you dead in your tracks...

    ...that being the one little "wrench in the works" that was missed, likely by accident, and probably of no fault of anyone that has had a hand in this build.

    Best to pull yourself off the ground, dust yourself off, and get back on with living the Kustom life you have chosen. I know you are capable of it (getting up after taking a slug in the gut)...I have read your books!


    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,901


    Kool car, bitchin story/stories. I do have a question though. Is there a reason that the steering u-joints aren't phased, or did you align them since the pic near the beginning? Did I miss that? I see this often and wonder why it gets overlooked, clearly you have the knowledge and discipline to do things the right way. I'm impressed with this car overall and didn't expect to see that. Not picking or dissing your gig, just askin...
  12. Very well said Bill (54delray).

    Some folks think we're nuts talking about cars having feelings and emotion (maybe we are!?!?!) but it a real thing for us car guys (and gals).

  13. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,776

    from DFW USA

    Roger, this is my favorite build thread on the Hamb, probably because you built one of my all-time favorite cars and did it in a really slick, tasteful way. Sorry to hear about your engine troubles man :(

    On a selfish note, I'm glad to know we'll get at least one more update though :D
  14. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,394


    They are aligned correctly. No, you did not miss it...the pix you saw were during the mock-up and making sure the column aligned correctly and the u-joints/shafts were going to miss the header. That was previous to the engine coming out... I didn't shoot pix after.

    Thank you for the compliments.

    GotGas -Thanx, good to know you enjoy my ramblings (and the build)...and yep, maybe even more than one update...!!!

  15. shooter54
    Joined: Apr 25, 2006
    Posts: 5,145


    just wow.

    amazing build and stories. thanks for sharing. beautiful car.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,901


    I should have just assumed that seeing not only what you've done but what you were willing to face and overcome in the process. Done right, that era Caddy is a bitchin kustom, and yours is just that. I was diggin the color change too.
  17. hellonwheels
    Joined: Jan 16, 2007
    Posts: 668


    What an absolutely amazing build and a fabulous car. I admire your restraint and poise in the face of a dissapointment like that, can't honestly say I would have as good an attitude as you have, but still, wow what a Caddy!

    Can't wait to see the finished product.
  18. Captain Morgan
    Joined: Dec 13, 2009
    Posts: 192

    Captain Morgan

    Roger, I dont know if Ive said it before, but you my friend definitely have a way with words. Every time I read one of your posts (or short stories ;) ), it feels like I'm right there with you. Your detailed posts are only second to the to the degree of detail you show in your Cadillac. I can only hope mine comes out as clean as yours is someday.

    Hey Bill, you ever contact these guys? They are a little farther away than the places I had been looking into, but if the job is quality and the price is right, I cant see any reason not to give them a shot.
  19. So... did the engine guy show up??? :(
  20. SlowandLow63
    Joined: Sep 18, 2004
    Posts: 5,953

    from Central NJ

    I did not, but I have saved the info for future endeavors.
    Joined: Aug 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,222

    from Colorado

    Hay Rog are you over walking around like a zombie?You looked so drained and frustrated in Salina after your big let down.You worked so hard all year getting ready for Salina. We were all waiting for the debut of the new Caddy. We will see it later. I saw the great color photo of Dans Caddy in Goodguys. Tell Dan we all say congradulations.
  22. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,394


    Yep, I'm back to being close to normal (???) again...and...

    Well, Sean, the Caddy engine builder showed up on Saturday morn…and the prognosis is not good…so let’s just call this update:

    The verdict is in…
    The engine comes out…

    Yep, no ‘bout a doubt it…it’s toast.

    Saturday morn, 8-7-10, we opened the garage door…the Cadillac saw the light of day for the first time since July 22…it struck me right away as I opened the door- damn, that’s a nice looking Cadillac. Hey, that’s mine…!!! Ever do that…??? See just a portion of your car somewhere and say to yourself - “That’s nice...!!!” It struck me that I did a nice job on the car…too bad it doesn’t (didn't...???) run…!!!

    Well, I fired it up and let it idle for a while to warm it up…from the minnit I fired it, the rod knock sounded worse…after idling for a few minnits, Sean chimed in: “Sounds like a rod bearing.”

    “I figured it to be…think the crank is hurt…???”

    “Prolly didn’t do it any good,” Sean said.

    “So I gotta pull it then…???”

    “Yeah, we need to clean it all out, get whatever is causing the problem cleaned out of it. You’ve got a remote on this, right…??? Ya know, I hate remotes…that’s prolly what caused it…there was prolly dirt in the line or in the remote itself when you put it back on. Did you clean it well before you stuck it back on…???”

    I said I cleaned it…I just didn’t know how well was well.

    “No matter, at this point,” Sean said. “It doesn’t make any difference just now what happened to it to cause the spun bearing. I just want to make it right for you. The best thing to do is pull it all down and start over…I’ve got a short block at the shop I just got done…I can let you have that one and I’ll use your heads, manifold and pan when you get it out.”

    “You’ve got another ready?”

    “Yep, I like to keep one or two ready to go. When can you have this one out…??? I can prolly have that engine ready to go back in inside of two weeks. You’ll have to paint it tho.”

    I said I wasn’t in that big a hurry…I was just getting over my "mad" cuz most of the summer events were over and I didn’t want to do a hurry-up job to pull the engine and end up scratching or chipping the new paint. I said it’d be some time in this month and I’d have it out.

    So, Sunday morning, I decided to go study the engine in the Caddy. I opened the garage door, again, and said to myself; “Self, it’s not going to heal itself, it’s not going to get any better until you get to work and if you want to drive it this fall, before the snow hits. NOW might be a good time to start on it.” Of course, as usual, I was correct…!!! But after talking to Sean about the remote oil filter…and then to my bro, I thot why not try to raise the engine enuff to eliminate the remote oil filter? Now would be the time to do that. When I first put the engine in, I’d put on a 425” oil pump to aim the filter toward the crank in an attempt to miss the tie rod (that was accomplished, but the knuckle that holds the tie rod to the spindle hits the bottom of the filter)…that’s the major problem, it hits the tie rod when I make a left turn…(if I didn’t have to make left turns, I’d be OK with it the way it is…!!!) BUT, life’s highway doesn’t allow for right turns only all the time…

    Half of it is pulled apart in this shot...

    With that in mind, I started at the front, on the grille at 9 AM… my bro Dan, had taken his Caddy to a local mall show and I didn’t feel like going, I was still dwelling on what my engine guy said. I set to work, I pulled the bumper, pans, grille, radiator and radiator support to scope it out. At about 1:00 I was done and only had the hood to remove. Dan got back at about 2:30 and helped pull the hood and the front fender. After scoping it out, it looks like I can raise the engine enuff to get it above the knuckle…I need only an inch to miss the knuckle and that’d make Sean the engine builder happy. I’ll have to build a couple of new motor mounts and raise the tranny a like amount, but I’ve got plenty of room in the tunnel to accomplish that…

    The "offending" part...I figured a 'remote' was the way to sometimes hurts...!!!

    When I first put the engine in, I wasn’t concerned about using a remote…I’d seen several of them on other engines other people built and asked about them…never heard any negatives about using a remote. So when I built the motor mounts, I wasn’t too concerned about the filter missing the tie rod. But now, a remote appears to be a problem with Caddy engines since their oil pump is external. Fortunately, I’d bought a blu-printed oil pump from Maximum Torque Specialties when I first put the engine it, I’ll have Sean put that one on this new engine.

    I spent the rest of the afternoon looking it over figuring out what I was going to have to modify. I think I’ve checked it out well. In order for the whole engine to go up, I’ll have to modify the shift linkage, but that one is easy since it’s directly below the arm on the column…it’ll just need shortening a small amount. Up front, I’ll have to build a new radiator shroud since the engine (and fan) will move up, and that’s relatively easy cuz it’s only sheet metal…and I’ve still got paint left. The major challenge will be the exhaust…the headers are fine, but the pipes below them will have to be modified/lengthened…I don’t think I’ve missed anything else…but I’ll have to think and study it for a while…

    One more fender to'll get done sometime this week.

    The wagon you seen in the background is a project Dan and I picked up a few months ago…it’d been sitting inside a guy’s garage since 1983 (less than two miles from my place)…it’s a 1960 Pontiac and it's only got 73,000 miles on it and is in wonderful shape. It’s a Catalina Safari nine-passenger wagon and it’s a rust free ColoRODo car, having first been licensed in Pueblo when new. All the glass is in great shape as is the interior (altho the driver's side will need some new vinyl put in). We put the new whitewalls/wheels on it when we got it home, the stockers were simply bald roll-arounds.

    Apparently the P.O. didn’t know too much about Pontiacs as the brake master cylinder was off the firewall, all the brake shoes were down to bare metal, all the brake lines were loose from the drums and there wasn’t a drop of fluid left in the system. I surmise the brake lights weren’t working…and he thot "fixing" the master cylinder would solve the problem. It’s no wonder they didn’t work…the reason for that was the brake light switch was toast…

    Needless to say, it’s all healed now with all new parts…brakes are good.

    The rear tailgate window power motor was missing…we went searching and found one in Nebraska…seems like the motor quit working some time ago, so the P.O. tore it all apart, including all the wiring and the switches trying to figure out why it wouldn’t work. Once we put the motor back in, sorted out the wiring, hooked the switches back up and hooked the electrical to it…and held down the safety switch on the side of the tailgate…the window went up and down fine. It appears the stock plastic “tab” that held down the safety switch when that tailgate closed had broken and disintegrated years ago…he wasn’t aware of that small item. I put a small bolt in to activate the switch when the tailgate is closed and it works wonderfully now.

    Just to give you a couple more samplings someone that doesn’t know anything about a car shouldn’t attempt to fix an old one…we removed the dash cap (to have it recovered), the screws that held the chrome trim on were missing…we couldn’t figure out what held it on til we removed the side moldings…under there was two more screws…hmmmmmmm…that’s why he didn’t finish the job...didn't think to look there...!!! After the dash cap was removed, I find the radio is wired wrong…all the wires ran to a ground screw at the bottom of the dash…including the hot…no wonder the radio wouldn’t work….!!! I did notice that all the dash bulbs were missing from their sockets, have no idea why those were all gone…and both ash trays were full of old stale cigarettes….

    The radiator in the car is not even close to correct…the stock one has provisions for the heater hoses…the one that’s in it does not…the stock radiator has tranny lines running into the bottom of the tank, the one that’s in it does not. We found a stock radiator and shroud in a ColoRODo Springs yard…and it’s down getting re-done right now.

    Anyway, enuff about that old Pontiac…suffice to say, it’ll make a cool cruiser when we get it back to near stock and running/driving.

    Right now, I’ve got to go find some metal to build new engine mounts…I may get this thing back together in a month or so…

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  23. Too bad about the bearings crapping the bed. It is good to know what happened. It sounds like your engine guy is going to make good on the whole thing, that is cool.

    Something tells me you might have it done a bit quicker than a month or so.....once you get going on it things should fall into palce quick for you.

    Either way, good luck on it and DON'T SCRATCH IT!!:D

  24. 1931av8
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Posts: 389



    Glad to see that you are back into it again! Sorry, though...about that engine prognosis. However, glad to know that you have a plan with a potentially happy ending. I am liking your analysis. I have also had to do a little engine relocation after finding my first version dragging the pan a little. These are the trials of building without instructions!

    Love the Pontiac! That is quite a find. I have the same feeling about people doing auto work that they shouldn't. That '62 Corvette of our also came with pretty scary wiring. The PO bought a battery with positive and negative reversed from stock. Then went to great lengths to "make it work". Shortly after buying it (we spent our efforts making sure that numbers matched...not assessing life-safety), I went out to the garage and it wouldn't start. Turns out that one of the cable terminals that didn't really fit right right reached over and contacted the top holddown. It had arced and burned a hole in the battery top! Prolly while we were driving it. :eek: Had enough alternator to get us home without any indication that all was NOT RIGHT! Could have burned the car and potentially the garage it is stored in.

    Now...I disconnect the battery on everything I have that I don't have complete confidence is completely right.

    Glad to have you back! Look forward to future reports.

    BTW - K&K Salvage in Commerce City (Adams City?) is a good source for steel and other metals if you don't absolutely need to know composition.

  25. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,394


    Hahahahaha, I can just envision instruction sheets scattered all over the garage: "If, after setting the engine of choice in place, you notice the oil pan scraping the new paint off and dragging the floor when you try to move the vehicle, remove the engine, replace the engine mounts and re-engineer." my case the instruction sheet read: "If, after firing the engine and taking it out on the highway for the first time, you hear strange internal noises coming from the vicinity of the oil pan, pull safely off the highway, turn the engine off and call a tow truck. Please allow several hours for them to get there. When the vehicle is safely in your home garage, please remove and replace the entire engine."

  26. 1931av8
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Posts: 389


    Teach me to read those little books from the 50's. Great article on Z'ing frames. Took it to heart. Too bad they didn't discuss the ramifications. You either scrape the pan or get intimate with the transmission.

    In my case, I had clearance. But not enough to pass the "cigarette pack test". Newly fabbed motor mounts, new transmission relocation (hard when clearancing for 3 peddles and a steering column), and off and running! Michelle (my wife) has it right. There were a thousand ways for me to build that truck and I picked the hardest. Heck of an initiation into this club.

    40haftun likes this.
  27. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,394


    Three pedals and steering column don't allow much room around an emergency brake...but when it's all said and done, those one thousand ways will seem paltrey when you get it and drive it...

    Besides, the later Cadillacs usually always had an automatic tranny's easier.

  28. 1931av8
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Posts: 389


    Especially tight since it is a Model A. Now compressed with a channel and a chop... Here is a build photo giving you some idea. No accelerator peddle yet when this was taken.


    The steering column was originally lower at the fire wall. Decided that that would not work. Raised it. Now more room for my fat feet. Slightly more room than a Porsche 911 that I drove once. Had to take my shoes off in that thing. Steering wheel had to be reduced from 15" to 13" diameter to clear my knees. Parking brake is Model A unit. It lives on the passenger side. Concessions are necessary if you want a ride.

    I understand why one would prefer the room of a Cadillac for those long trips. After I get all bent up driving this, I will get hot on the '50 Fleetline. Much nicer driver than this buggy sprung wagon! Learned a few tricks from you in your build. Won't need those instruction manuals after all!
  29. mad-cad
    Joined: Oct 31, 2004
    Posts: 723


    Good stuff Roger, Sean will make it right,some man hours will be used up ,but non of your fun tickets in the wallet will be burnt.
  30. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 11,622


    Kool to see that you making progress. I hated that you didn't make it out to Salina but
    for some reason God didn't think that it was time. When you get her back on the road
    it will be the purrfect time. Keep the faith brother the Caddy will be worth it......

    Thought that it was Kool that Dan's Caddy was on the billboard coming into town. Did
    ya get any pictures of the Caddy parked beside the sign? It would have made a kool pic.

    Happy Trails, Mick

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