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Technical The force is strong...38 Chevy help

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by hurlbird, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    i like to cruise in my 38 all stock car but the 411's and lack of HP make the trips dangerous and stressful. So why not improve the rear end? well you cant really due to torque tube challenges. You need to get a new one which leads to a different tranny and what the heck why not a different engine. 6 or an 8? After a LOT of research it seems like a straight 6 58-63 is best with a choice of rear ends and a T5. I want the interior to look stock. Should I skip the 6 and go with a 50's small block? I have access to a 56 chevy compete v8 drive train. But....
    1. T5 work with a 56 V8? is there another 4 speed that works from that period?
    2. Can I keep my original gauges?
    3. Do I need to make radiator modifications?
    4. Steering modifications?
    5. Can I use the starter button on the floor?
    6. Clutch mechanism still work?
    Anyone done a mild hot rodding of a 38 chevy business coupe? Goal is to look all original everywhere except under the hood. Help.................
     
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    If you want to swap to 5 lug wheels, then you can use the 56 rearend, and get some 49-50 front hubs and drums. If you keep the 56 trans and appropriate rear end ratio, then you won't need overdrive...but you can also get an old original 56 type overdrive, they're not real expensive if you're patient when shopping for one.

    I think you can use the 38 throwout fork, or maybe use a later one.

    Engine mounts...when you get closer, we can help you figure it out.

    Not likely that you can use the original floor starter button if you have a V8, they were used on trucks with the Six through 1959 though.

    The original radiator might work, or it might not. The hose fittings will be rather small. And it's 80 years old.

    You can use the original gauges, although they may not read in the range you want. The oil pressure will be too high, the temp might be ok or a bit high if you use a 180 thermostat. the speedo should work (if it does now), the ammeter will work, but folks will say you need to get rid of it. The gas gauge, if you are converting to 12v you might want to add a 7806 voltage regulator to keep it happy.

    Plenty of folks have hot rodded 30s-40s Chevy cars, they are basically the same from 37-48, with some relatively minor changes.
     
    olscrounger likes this.
  3. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    Thanks. Current tranny is a powerglide. Was there a four speed available for the 265 in 56? Anyone know about the steering solution? Can I use the stock shaft etc?
     
  4. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    One other question.. would a 327 mount the same way as the 265 since they are both small blocks? If so would I just pass on the 265 and go for a 327? Thanks
     
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  5. 24riverview
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 813

    24riverview
    Member

    Yes and no, both the 265 and 327 have provisions for front mounts but the 327 will also be set up for side mounts which is better.
    On the 37 I built for my parents in the 90's I used Stewart Warner electric gauge internals with the 37 faces to get around the oil and temp gauge issue. Stock oil pressure gauge is only 30 lbs which is still how it reads you just know actual pressure is twice what is shown. The stock temp gauge would work but capillary tube isn't long enough.
    Clutch linkage- use the stock fork and either make a new link or just use a chain. Works fine on my 39 for 36 years now.
    Stock steering can work if steering box is in very good shape, it can make some determination in where the motor sits though.
    If the radiator is in good shape have a shop change the necks (or use adapters) and change the cap for a pressure cap. I wouldn't go over a 3 lb cap though. May or may not work, depends on original condition and your expected driving habits. Just compare costs first between new and modified original.
    Starter button- the original probably wouldn't be worth the effort to try and use but there are electric floor mount starter switches that could used to retain the "illusion" of originality.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  6. D.N.D.
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 1,385

    D.N.D.
    Member

    Hey Bird

    Show us a pic of your car, and all SBC mount the same front and rear, the side mounts came a bit later than the 265'

    If you use the 56' engine you can use front mounts, 327' front or side, bell housing bolts are the same pattern

    My 327 was set back 10% so i'am not sure about the steering box as I had plenty of room

    DND

    P.S. Welcome to the H.A.M.B.
     
  7. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,193

    belair
    Member

    265 will not have side mounts, but the 327 will. The 327 will also have the front mount holes like the 265. So you can mount the 327 like the 265, but you can't mount the 265 like you could the 327.
     
  8. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    Is one engine considered "better" than the other? Can I assume side mounts may get in the way of the steering? I have access to a T5 as well. Is this a better tranny option. Has hydraulic clutch. Good info all. Thanks
     
  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    The T5 kind of ruins the whole oringal 56 driveline thing :) but you can use it. You would need to figure out the bellhousing setup you want, and how you plan to mount everything. the 56 used a bellhousing mount for the engine/transmission, no crossmember under the back of the transmission. And the engine also had front mounts. The bellhousing mounts took most of the weight. The bellhousing that would come with a T5 would not have these mounts, and mounting a 265 by the front mounts, and a rear trans mount, is a bit flaky...to me, at least. Then again, a cast iron powerglide isn't much of a transmission, either.

    Sounds like you have a lot of good questions, and it'll take a while for us all to help you figure out what to do. Keep asking, you'll get it figured out eventually.

    Steering may or may not be a problem, depending where you put the engine, which exhaust you use, etc. Some times the steering box gets moved over to the side a bit to make more room.
     
  10. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 5,951

    TagMan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Hurlbird,
    The Master Deluxe rear axle in '38 Chevy's was a 4.22:1 ratio. Find one out of a Master model - they're 3.73:1
     
  11. robtlor
    Joined: Dec 7, 2010
    Posts: 118

    robtlor
    Member
    from Lincoln NE

    You said you have a torque tube drive line, you also said current trans is a powerglide. I dont think you can do this. Bob
     
  12. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    He has the original 38 driveline in the car now, and is considering swapping in a 56 engine, that has a powerglide on it. He'd have to change the rear end also. The T5 would replace the powerglide, and would probably be mated to the 56 rear, or some other rear if he doesn't have the 56 rear available (don't think he said if he has that or not).
     
  13. robtlor
    Joined: Dec 7, 2010
    Posts: 118

    robtlor
    Member
    from Lincoln NE

  14. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,193

    belair
    Member

    Both are great engines. 265 would have a few more specific, 265 only (more ore or less) parts. The manifolds have smaller ports, the infamous oil groove in the cam, and surely some others. The 327 would be my choice. Both are cool engines, would dress up about the same, weigh about the same, and are very traditional transplants. The 327 will also have an oil filter that reall works. The 265 had an add-on that wasn't all that good. 327-more torque, more easy horsepower.
     
  15. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,020

    David Gersic
    Member
    from DeKalb, IL

    If you side mount the engine, you can add a trans crossmember. A 350 will fit, so the 327 should as well, one way or another. Might want to replace the radiator with a new modern one that can run at full pressure.


    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  16. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    55 had a bypass external type oil filter, 56 was the same as the newer engines (canister, same as used through 1968ish)
     
    belair likes this.
  17. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    So then skip the T5 and get a Muncie or some other 4 speed? This rear has 3:55 gears. I imagine this set up would make a huge difference compared to where I am now. Would this also solve the mounting issue?
     
  18. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    I did not know that. does this make a big difference on the road?
     
  19. Paint
    Joined: Nov 18, 2005
    Posts: 297

    Paint
    Member

    The stock steering box will work fine if you use center dump rams horn manifolds.
     
  20. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    I recently went on a 3500 mile drive in an Edsel, which is a big car, it has a 292 V8 and 3 speed with overdrive, and 3.55 gears, and little 14" wheels and tires. Not half way through the drive, the overdrive quit, so the rest of the trip was in normal non-overdrive 3 speed mode. The car did fine, it cruised down the highway at 70 with no problem, all the way home. Used to be, that 3.55 was considered a highway gear. And if you slip your mind back 50 years or so when you drive your old car, you can still consider it a highway gear.
     
  21. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 904

    vtx1800
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    IMG_0525.JPG A friend from high school bought a 38 Chevy coupe in about 1962, the original engine was a little weak, so he had a local farm shop swap in a 56 six cylinder with the stock drive train. He is still driving it, and in 63 or 64 he drove from Iowa to California, worked awhile and then drove back to Iowa after he got his draft notice. It's not a high speed cruiser but............it seems ok on the hiway. The only advice I'd give would be to use the 53-54 Chevy passenger car brakes to the original spindles as the design of the later brake is a little better. I ran those on my 38 for a number of years and they worked great (with a 57 Chevy rear end). Here is a picture of the car over 50 years after that trip.
     
  22. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    great suggestion on the front brakes...
     
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  23. Paint
    Joined: Nov 18, 2005
    Posts: 297

    Paint
    Member

    I too ran 54 Chevy brakes on the front of my 37 with a 57 Chevy rear end and 67 Camaro master cylinder.
    It stopped just fine.
     
  24. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,217

    F&J
    Member

    Can I ask what type of roads you want to cruise. and long or normal trips?

    I really like old cars that do well on State roads and back roads but only some occasional short expressway drives.

    I'd keep it simple, if that was what my car looked like. I'd go with the newer 6, no V8, then if the 3.55 is used, a non-overdrive is sweet setup.

    A closer ratio 4 speed helps, if you go on steeper, or long grinding hills on back roads, as you can downshift and not be revving as much as a 3 speed in 2nd.

    Preference really, is the whole V8 thing, and may not be worth the work or possibility of gas going way the heck back up where it was.

    .
     
  25. ol-nobull
    Joined: Oct 16, 2013
    Posts: 1,331

    ol-nobull
    Member

    Hi. My two bits worth is that you have an original car and likely will keep it looking that way. My 46 Chevy Coupe is stock interior & exterior & what I did was I changed to a 3:55 ring & pinion in the original torque tube rear end and went from 600/16 bias to 700 R 16 on rear tires and to 600 R 16 on the front. Still has reasonable stock appearance as my Coupe was a bit low in the rear anyway and this just leveled it out. Went thru the brakes & it stops fine. An upgrade on shocks is in its future.
    On my engine I took out the original 216 and put in a 1957 reworked 235 Chevy 6 with a street cam & bored 0.060 and dual carbs & exhaust.
    Now it will safely cruise down the Hwy at 65 MPH running around 2500 RPM with NO problems & when engine was not broke in it gave me 16 + MPG on the Hwy at 65. Not sure what it is giving now as I cannot check mileage unless I hook up my GPS as the Shop lost the Spedo converter I purchased & I will not get another until car is totally finished as it just might still show up & do not need 2. How much more engine could I need if it will do all this????? NONE. Keep it simple & make it fun to drive unless you plan to race the car.
    Those Coker bias look alike Radials made it drive like a totally different car.
    It looks stock until I raise the hood & then at least I kept the original theme with an inline 6.
    Jimmie
     
  26. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    great picture and will upgrade. I assume it keeps the six lugs?
     
  27. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    I wish I could accomplish what you are suggesting. I cannot however change my rear end ratio or I would which has caused all of this reengineering being discussed. It does however sound like 3:73 were an option on the Master 85's, if so maybe that is the first stop and see if that makes a big difference. If so then head to a straight six upgrade? Now where do I get the 3:73's? do I need just the gears or the whole axel? Thanks for all the discussion!!!!
     
  28. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    37-48 chevy cars had 6 lug wheels. 49 and newer cars had 5 lug wheels. Truck all had 6 lug wheels until 1971.
     
  29. hurlbird
    Joined: Oct 4, 2016
    Posts: 30

    hurlbird

    so the 54 brake suggestion above is being made WITH the 57 rear end then.... which keeps the challenge unsolved
     
  30. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,319

    squirrel
    Member

    You can use 51-59 truck hubs and drums on 51-54 car brakes and spindles. Or use the truck brakes, which might be easier, since they had beam axles, instead of independent suspension.
     
    Jerrybigbird likes this.

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