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Projects The pressure's on! My '52 Plymouth build thread...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by don-vee, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. Time for a build thread! Finally found what I was looking for, a cheap 49-52 Plymouth 2-door club coupe, and it was right around the corner from my wife's work the whole time! Here she is, in all her glory...


    As you can see, it will need a fair amount of work, nothing I'm scared of, though.
    Now, here's where it gets tricky: we plan on driving this to Viva Las Vegas. Yup, that means only 3 months to get it together, running, safe, reliable, and halfway non-ugly.
    Here's the plans - go through the usual suspension and braking improvements (discs, rear, lowering, etc.), 318 and auto, junkyard interior, patching and bodywork. Might not make it to paint before the end of March, but we'll see.
    I decided to do a build thread, because I feel like it makes me accountable, even if it's to a bunch of people I have never met. I'm going to try to post the things I have done at least a couple times a week. If I slack off, you all can get on my case for being a lazy shit. The winter always has a way of taking all the motivation out of me, maybe this will keep me in line and keep me working!
  2. modelamotorhead
    Joined: Dec 24, 2011
    Posts: 471


    Hope the snow don't slow ya down. Looks like a little frenching on the tail lights and trunk has been done already, and a hole for an antenna. It would look sly with about 3" off the top. Good luck, hope you can make your date, I tend to hibernate in the winter. :D
  3. Yeah, the frenching and shaving, I'm actually not too much of a fan of it. Plus, there's a lotta mud caked on there. I'm thinking way more severe of a chop. There's one floating around here with a 6 1/2" and I think it looks badass.
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 13

    from Enon Ohio

    Looks like mine when I drug it home. This is what it looked like this summer. I'm chopping the top at the present time.
    Why not leave the flat head in it?
    Good luck.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012

  5. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,973

    from Michigan

    3 months to get ready for a safe and reliable 3,000 mile trip. Whew. I know one thing for sure...this winter is gonna go by fast for Wishing you the best. Keep it simple. And have a good time at that there Vegas hootenanny.
  6. Yup, definitely keeping it simple, the chop will probably wait until afterwards. And I wish it was just 3,000 miles. We intend on duplicating the trip we took to VLV this past time, in which afterwards we went to LA, San Diego, and Tijuana before heading back home. Ends up being about 5500 miles.
    I figured first on the agenda is the Explorer discs up front, Cavalier rack & pinion, Cherokee sway bar, Aerostar springs, shock relocation, and installing a Mopar 8 1/4 posi rear I already have. That, to me, is a solid 2 weeks of work. Another couple weeks to freshen up the engine and trans and get that installed. I'm going to order a harness from Rebel Wire, and that should be a couple days to wire it up. Most of the things I want to do have already been done a bunch of times, I can find the tech threads for everything right here, and nothing is too exotic. This is doable, and I just gotta keep grinding away at it.
    Keeping the flathead is a distant possibility, but a possibility nonetheless. The engine is fresh, but I don't know the condition of the trans or rear. I already have a great, low-mileage 318, 904 trans, and rear to go in. I've been building smallblock Mopars all my life, it's what I know best, and it's what I have a million spare parts for, might as well go with what I know. Also, the thought of breaking down in the middle of the Mojave Desert with an engine that I can't find parts for, well, you understand how that could be a daunting thought.
    Besides, that smallblock is just gonna look sweet when I get it painted and polished up.
    Mitch hall likes this.
  7. That is one of the cleanest of these I have seen. VERY nice. I was actually kicking around the idea of running the Mopar rallyes as well, I think they have almost an artillery wheel kinda vibe going on. I was thinking I'd do mine up semi-gloss black with chrome spider caps.
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 13

    from Enon Ohio


    I like the wheels also. Biggest problem I had was I wanted smooth hub caps and could not find any so I made my own. Here is what it looks like in progress with the chop. I have a lot of pics of my build. If you have any questions or problems I would be happy to help.

    Attached Files:

  9. n847
    Joined: Apr 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,706


    Congrats on your find. Now you better get your ass to work!

    Sent from my DROID device using the TJJ mobile app
  10. I hear Jeep Cherokee rears are the way to go for ease of install / availability. I went the hard way...took a bit of effort. Scarebird does a great disc conversion kit (have it in mine now), and look at what Shadowmtnkustomz did to his car - his build thread is RIGHT up your alley. I'm looking forward to watching this build unfurl.
  11. ...good luck on your project, I'll be following your build.
  12. ALTAFR
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 13

    from Enon Ohio

    I also had a fresh 218 flathead so I used a T5 trany. $500.00 encluding adapter, clutch and the transmission. I installed a 8" Ford rear end out of a Granada. It bolted in with no alteration for $125.00. Drive shaft was $100.00. I put over 5000 problem free miles on the car this summer. On road trips I averaged 24 mpg at less than 2000 rpms and cruised at 80 mph. Hard to beat.
    The car also won a six cylinder challenge at the local drag strip. (Beat the chevys)
    This motor has been manufactured for many years and used in commercial, farm, military and auto applications. My point is you can buy parts any place.
    I don't see many of these around here so keep the build coming.

    Attached Files:

    hotrodbob likes this.
  13. Sigh, well, I promised an update, so here it is...


    On a brighter note, I had the day off work yesterday, so I made it a junkyard day before the snow hit. I scored the Cherokee sway bar and the brakes from an Explorer, which was the easy part, since you can't swing a dead cat around in a junkyard and NOT hit a Ford Explorer. These things were everywhere. I even held out to find one with brand new front brakes on it, which I found right away. Yup, calipers, discs, and pads, all look like they had only a couple miles on 'em before the Exploder gave up the ghost. Total cost - about 50 bucks for everything.
    I tried to score the steering rack but got nowhere fast before the yard siren went off, alerting everyone to closing time. Ah well, next time.
    Also, on a side note, my usual yard seems to have quadrupled the size of their old car section! A lot of the stuff is picked pretty clean, but there's still some gems to be had. I counted at least ten 49-52 Mopars in there. They have stuff from the late 30s on up through the 70s, and the place is dirt cheap. Shameless plug - EZ Pull, New Ringgold PA.
    As soon as I can nudge the Plymouth into the garage (tried today, my van just spun its tires trying to push it) I'll start some real work and give all you a proper update.
  14. n847
    Joined: Apr 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,706


    Hey I got my brakes this week...I got all new from loaded calipers, rotors, and coil springs for 120.00 but still can't beat 50.00! Hey did you notice any 46-early 49 Plymouth's out there? I'm looking for a decent grill and grill opening sheet metal to replaced the hacked up one on mycar.
  15. Yeah, there are a handful, but unfortunately, most of the sheetmetal I saw was toast. I was hoping to find front sheetmetal and grille from a 49-50 for mine (my front clip has seen better days, and I'm kinda diggin' the earlier grille) but I didn't see anything that was even remotely useable.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  16. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,717


    What a great car! A very ambitious plan to get it done in 3 months, but if you've got the time and $$$, you may make it to VLV. Good luck with the build.
  17. I always wanted to use a 49 ford back window in mine. Glendale on this page has a real nice chop on his 51 Plymouth.
  18. Time? Money? Who has those??? Stupidity and starry eyes is what I have a lot of!
    Nah, seriously, the car was cheap, I have 75% of the parts, and I'm down to working part-time now. It's ambitious, but everything I want to get done with this car has been done a million times (318 swap, discs, rear swap) so the info is out there, and it's all pretty straightforward. As long as I don't get too anal with things being perfect and pretty, and I just concentrate on things being together, reliable, and safe, I think it's a realistic undertaking.
  19. I am excited to follow along on your thrash!

    It sounds like you have a good plan, and this isn't your first rodeo.

    Good luck!
  20. Great to see another old Mopar so close to home. I'll be watchin for you at shows next year! :D
  21. Quickie update for the day - test fitting the Exploder discs!


    I made the test bracket out of 3/8 plywood, and it fit perfect. I had to grind a tiny bit around the edge of the hub itself to get the disc to fit on, but other than that, everything clicks on perfectly like they were Legos. I used the swap tech outlined in this thread:

    I figured I didn't have to show everything, since it's all pretty much exactly as described in the tech thread.
    Funny thing, when I went to remove the old brakes, it looks like the previous owner had rebuilt the drum brakes, they looked like new. Ah well, something for the sale bin.
    Anyway, off to my buddy's shop (equipped with a plasma cutter, lucky bastard!) to make up the real brackets.
    I feel accomplished! Happy New Year folks!
  22. falconvan
    Joined: Apr 2, 2008
    Posts: 1,054

    from festus, Mo

    Looking good! These are cool old cars; glad to see some more 50's Mopars hitting the road. Subscribed!
  23. Mother Nature has shined my way and decided to raise the temperatures a tad above Arctic Tundra fare today, so out with the old, in with the new!
    I decided to work on the rear, since I'm still waiting to cut those plates for the front brakes. I know a ton of folks say to use the Exploder rear, but I had me a nice Mopar 8 1/4 SureGrip (posi) out of an '84 Dodge Diplomat cop car taking up space in my garage, so why not use it?
    Boy, am I glad I did. What a snap this one was. The old rear was 60 3/4" drum face-to-drum face, the new one is 60 1/4". Excellent, a little more wiggle room for some 7" wide rims, since the ones I want to use only come 7" wide. These cop car rears also have big 11" brakes and highway gears, 2.94 for the 4bbl equipped cruisers, and 2.24 for the 2bbl. Mine is the 2.94. Perfect for the long-distance cruising we intend on doing with this car.
    On a whim, I went to Tractor Supply and, lo and behold, found a set of spring perches in the trailer parts section that worked PERFECT for this application. They're Carry-On Trailer brand, part #647, 5200lb spring mount. They are right on the money, 3" axle diameter, 1.75" spring width. Cost? $9.99! Sold!


    The original perches have the bottom mount for the shocks, so I will just fab up a piece of heavy angle stock to make up a new mount on the bottom spring plate. I am also going to make up a set of drop blocks out of heavy 1.75" square tubing, stacked and welded to make a 3 1/2" drop. Obviously, longer U-bolts are in order.
    The width in between the perches is exactly 40 inches. That's inside of the perches, not the centers. Don't bother using any part of the pumpkin as a centerline reference point, everything is offset.
    The rest is cake. Line it up even, weld it on, pop it in. Now I have a posi, big brakes, modern U-joint yoke, and highway gears for some freeway flyin'!
    On another positive note, my buddy Mark gave me a set of brand new shocks that he never got to install on his 80s Dodge van before he junked it, and wouldn't ya know, they are a dead-on perfect fit, both front and rear! Thanks, Mark!
    And all before sundown. I feel like Mr. Get Shit Done today!

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
    martin53 likes this.
  24. Hey Altafr, just curious, what's that rear bumper overrider you're using? Looks pretty rad.
    Joined: Feb 9, 2009
    Posts: 22


    Yep got the same rear in my 49 coupe. Cop car parts are good and mine only needed brake shoes and in she went. I've got a 2:94 suregrip and averaged 22 mpg with my 318 and 904 on a trip to Allentown to visit my parents. Stay warm bro, I spent 30 years up there.
  26. That's exactly what I'm hoping for. I'm building this 318 for max mileage, so if I can get it comfortably in the 20s, I'd be stoked.
    Got any pics of yours?
  27. Been a week or so, guess it's time to update things. The rear is now in with the 3" lowering blocks. I was going to do stacked 1.75" square tubing, but apparently finding 1.75 with .250 wall is impossible, so I went with 1.50" square with .250" wall. Still looks righteous!
    Got my buddy Pete and his dad over here yesterday to pull the engine and trans...


    Question...I know the flathead sixes have a decent following and there are people that would want it, so I definitely don't intend on scrapping it or anything, but what about the 3-speed, driveshaft, and rear? Are these wanted by anyone, or are they considered heavy, clunky things destined for scrap? If anyone needs any of 'em, I'll let 'em go for scrap price or less, just to move things along.
    So, engine is out, trans is out, front springs are out and awaiting the Aerostar springs, front disc caliper brackets are cut, upper shock mounts are cut, and things are movin' along! It's supposed to be testicle-shriveling cold this week, and I promised my wife I'd get our new kitchen sink installed, so this week may only be half-assed work, but she keeps talking about Viva and keeping me motivated!
  28. n847
    Joined: Apr 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,706


    So what was the easiest way to drop the springs out? Did you need to compress them or were you able to just drop the lower arm?
  29. 29Jay
    Joined: Aug 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,101

    from Ft Worth

    What year is your 318? We are building a '54 Plymouth in my shop. It is getting a '63 318 Poly and 727. It had the 6 in it... so we know we will be doing some fab work on the mounts. Also we used the Fatman A-Arm and scarebird disk kit.
  30. It was a piece of cake, since the springs are not pre-loaded. Basically, put a jack under the lower A-arm and lift the vehicle. Remove the thru-bolt and lower the vehicle onto a jackstand, allowing the lower A-arm to drop. The spring comes right out without any violent reaction.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013

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