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Projects Turning a lemon into lemonade - Very rusty 55' Chevy onto a Caprice frame...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by RacerRick, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Hey_Pauly
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 330

    Hey_Pauly
    Member

    Nice build. Good luck with it.
     
  2. 52pickup
    Joined: Aug 11, 2004
    Posts: 833

    52pickup
    Member
    from Tucson, Az

    Looking good! Great to see you're sticking it out!
     
  3. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 7,348

    flynbrian48
    Member

    And you were going to give up! Don't you feel better now? You can now say you can fix ANYTHING! Looks like it's gonna work out great. Keep after it.
     
  4. Rick, just looking at the wagon you are dealing with, you would have been really happy with my 57 delivery. Your wagon looks like the one I am building for a friend. His frame wasn't that bad, although the body needed every patch panel known to man and then some. I even had to cut the body through the A pillars and in front of the rear seat riser and slide another 55 parts car in there to eliminate some of the rust issues. I almost have the body beat.

    As for using the spare tire well, don't bother unless you are going to car a space saver spare as they are too narrow to put any modern tire and wheel in there. Better off to leave it off and forget the wagon dogbone tank too. Just use a blazer tank under the rear where the spare tire well was. New tanks are available fairly reasonable at Canadian Tire. Just a thought, as that is what I am doing with the 2-door wagon I am building. Pat.
     
  5. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    I would have loved to get your poncho SD, but couldn't swing the cash to buy it since I had already bought this one.

    I haven't even started on the body on this one. It will take a while.

    I am going to use a space saver spare (have a couple of them kicking around) and the stock dog bone tank it looks like. I am going to make a covered well on the passenger side for storage since that space is unused. The dogbone gas tank is not too expensive either.

    I am building this one with a mild drive train so I can drive it anywhere. As soon as the floor is done, I am pulling the motor and trans to finish cleaning up the frame, and de-uglify the little 305.
     
  6. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 7,033

    Gotgas
    Member
    from DFW USA

    Rick, to my eyes the whole body needs to move forward about an inch. The front and rear wheels would fit in their housings a little better and the engine would be a little tighter to the firewall. No matter what, you are doing a great job saving that old girl and not spending a fortune to do it. Looking good, keep it up!
     
  7. Rick, I agree with Gotgas. The body needs to slide ahead. Maybe split the difference front to rear. Might not look as bad. Pat.
     
  8. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    There are no holes in the frame for the cross members yet, so its not hard to slide the car forward or back. i will do that once I get all the cross members in and the body can support itself on the frame.

    In these pics, it looks like the rear wheels are forward a bit, but they are actually in the same position as stock. I marked the hub centerline on the body before I pulled the old frame out and have this rear axle in the same spot. I have been thinking of bumping the body a bit forward on the frame for looks however. The rear wheel wells are going to be radius'd so I am more worried about how the front looks than the rear.

    The front wheels are about 1" forward of stock here because of the extra 1" of wheelbase of this frame.
     
  9. lorodz
    Joined: Jul 26, 2009
    Posts: 3,728

    lorodz
    Member

    good luck ya got a lot of work ahead ..looking good though...
     
  10. Radio Joe
    Joined: Jan 9, 2007
    Posts: 306

    Radio Joe
    Member

    I am really excited to see this- attached below are some pics of a 55 WAY further gone than yours. I was actually considering doing something similar to it and making it either topless or a pickup truck.

    I was going to find a modern frame save as much of the floor and firwall as possible and mate whats left of this body to it.

    I know its MORE than alot of work but this 55 is FREE and they aint making them anymore. Just think of all the experience I will gain with my metal work and welding:rolleyes:

    Keep us up to date!!!!
     

    Attached Files:

  11. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    Well, yours is probably worse than mine. My roof at least wasn't caved in, and it had all its glass! Your price is definatly better though!

    These caprice frames actually fit very well.
     
  12. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,187

    edweird
    Member

    This ones got a 84 corvette frame. He just took the body panels off , lengthen the frame and lowered the 55 body in place. Uses vette dash, wiring and everything. It belongs to a friend of mine and is for sale.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Stevie Nash
    Joined: Oct 24, 2007
    Posts: 2,999

    Stevie Nash
    Member

    $2500?!!!!!! But I know where you're coming from, even my car looks good from 10' in a picture. I'm sure it was hard to tell if you bought it site unseen.
     
  14. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    Man - all that rust makes a desert rat like myself a bit woozie! I've heard of It before but had not seen that much in one place! Congrats though on continuing this project, your getting there. I do have to agree about sliding the body forward an inch though. It's always amazed me to find how far "off" some original cars are as far as wheelbase goes. Might as well put it where it looks good and call it done! Best of luck, and I'll continue watching for updates.
     
  15. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 6,006

    koolkemp
    Member

    Lookin good Rick !! I am glad ya kept it (since it was too far for me to go and get it lol) Cant wait to follow your progress. Have you thought about makin a fake sedan delivery with it? I know i would :D
     
  16. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    Its staying a wagon for now because all the rear glass is good! Less work for me!

    I know of a guy selling 55' nomad parts....I am very tempted!
     
  17. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    I spent the weekend in the shop working on the 55'.

    All the cross members are made, all the extraneous holes in the frame are welded up, and I had to start on the body work.

    [​IMG]
    One of the cross members I made.

    I decided that the inner rear quarter structure isn't solid enough to weld the crossmembers to, and need to be replaced. But to replace them, I might as well have the lower portion of the quarter panel in place so I can box it right down to the rocker, so the lower quarter patch panels needed to be installed.
    The inner wheelwells are also bad at the lower part and will need to be patched at least.

    So, thats what I did on the passenger side. Its all butt welded in, and I started metal finishing it. Its oil canning in one spot so I have to take the torches over and shrink it.

    [​IMG]
    Here is the el cheapo replacement panel clamped in prior to welding. Took an hour with the hammer, dolly, and anvil to make it fit, and I still cut off the jamb area because it was just crap.

    I wasn't too worried about how it looked at the lip since that is going to be cut out when I radius the wheel wells anyways. I also replaced the bottom third of the inner structure since it was rusted bad. Its now some sturdy 16g sheet down to the rocker panel pinch weld. This is how much I cut out.

    [​IMG]
    Look ma - no lower inner quarter structure!

    I started stripping the crappy black paint on the quarter also. Whomever painted the car, never even washed it. I am sanding seeds, globs of dirt, and crap out of the paint. The original paint is underneath the black.

    [​IMG]
    This I started stripping the paint here, and have started dressing the welds on the quarter.

    So, this week I have to pick up the drivers side rear lower quarter front, and both outer rocker panels. I will just make the inners from 16g since I have most of a sheet laying around still. I hope to have this stuff installed over the upcoming long weekend.


    After I replace all that stuff and the lower portion of the rear inner fenders, I can finally weld in all my crossmembers. Then its just make a floor, fix the cowl, fix the inner roof structure above the passenger middle window, and the main body tub is done. I might have everything but the cowl done by october. Then its just fix everything else.

    I am toying with the idea of sliding the engine back 2 inches to make more room in the front and get the engine closer to the firewall. If I do that, I can install the ST10 trans on the original TH700R4 mount. I wanted to replace the rear with a posi unit 8.5" ten bolt (as soon as I find one cheap) which would require a new drive shaft anyways.

    I need to figure out what seats I am going to use before I make the floor, since I will have to put in cross bracing for the seats. I am thinking a set of Ford Explorer buckets and rear seats. They have no brand badging, the rears fold down, and are cheap and comfy. They even look like they might fit nicely.

    Sorry for the bad pics, it seems like my camera is dying.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  18. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 6,006

    koolkemp
    Member

    Cool ! Cant wait to see some pics.
     
  19. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

  20. Lookin' good!
    At first the project looked like a garage potato, but you're bringing it to life!

    Stay in it!
     
  21. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 6,006

    koolkemp
    Member

    Awsome Rick! You realize I am living vicariously (sp) through you lol!!:p
     
  22. C'mon man! The suspense is killing me! We NEED updates!
     
  23. junkjunky
    Joined: Aug 19, 2009
    Posts: 110

    junkjunky
    Member

    Don't feel bad about cuttin it up,anyone can "restore"an old car,it takes a man to cut on up.Cut that Pontiac body off the floor pan & put whats left under the 55.
     
  24. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    lol - I haven't been great at updating the last week or so because I have been busy. Back to school is the busiest time of the year for the company I work for.

    The last weekend is August, I got the rocker panel in and the door aligned. I had to take a come-a-long and pull the cowl back into position since it had sagged quite a bit while it was still on the original frame. The formerly 1/2" gap is now much better and now the door stays closed! After I had it all aligned nicely, I pulled off the door and welded in the rocker.

    Ugly Door gap, not to mention the door doesn't stay closed!
    [​IMG]

    This fits a little better. There is a 2" come-a-long behind that door pulling the cowl back into position.
    [​IMG]

    Rocker is in!
    [​IMG]

    The first weekend in September - I could only work on the car one afternoon. I did get the driver side quarter panel in however. I am replacing the quarters because I have to replace the inner structural panels on the quarter panels. They are rotted, and thats where the new cross members have to weld to! Once this side is in I can weld in my cross members after making sure everything is lined up properly and actually attach the body to the frame properly!

    Good thing I am doing it this way, other wise the doors would be way off from the cowl sag that I fixed last weekend.

    Here is what I started with...
    [​IMG]

    Little bit of cutting so I can butt weld it in...
    [​IMG]

    All welded in! Went much better than the other side!
    [​IMG]

    This is why I am doing the quarters and rockers before anything else - this is how much of the inner rocker I had to cut out to get solid metal to weld to!
    [​IMG]

    This last weekend I didn't get anything done. I was at the Barrie Automotive swap meet. I did alright getting parts over the last week. I did get the entire front splash pan, lower fenders, hood latch assembly and brace, a pair of quarters for my 57' Pontiac, a pair of grungy 15x4 cragars, a pair of 15x7 cragars, a 57' Ford 9", and some new tools.

    Anyone need a decent set of 15x7 Cragars? I really need 15x8 or 15x10.
     
  25. torchmann
    Joined: Feb 26, 2009
    Posts: 787

    torchmann
    BANNED
    from Omaha, Ne

    On your back seat...
    My neighbor is building a tubbed 54 chevy 4 door wagon
    for a back seat he got a bench seat from an 80's to 90's ford pickup maybe it was a back from an explorer.. anyways he pulled off the seat cover and foam, narrowed the frame and a buddy of his reworked the foam and narrowed the seat cover. stitched it back up and now it fits in the back
     
  26. atomickustom
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 3,408

    atomickustom
    Member

    Which steering column are you going to use, the '55 or the Caprice? If you don't use the '55, can I have it and the wheel? (For a reasonable price)
    I like the looks of it for my '51.
     
  27. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    I am probably going to use to 55 column. I did keep the caprice column but I doubt I will use it.
     
  28. Lumpster
    Joined: Apr 2, 2009
    Posts: 38

    Lumpster
    Member

    Great work on that lower quarter panel. My 57 was about in the same shape as your 55. I was dumb and cut the original quarter after the door bend, only to find that the replacement panel didnt have the same bends. (If I said I was a novice, I'd be giving myself too much credit) . Now, I have to replace the B pillar....ugh!
     
  29. joel torres
    Joined: Mar 22, 2009
    Posts: 824

    joel torres
    Member

    i am in the same boat with my project i slapped it on a montecarlo chassis i stretched still finishing it up
     
  30. RacerRick
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,753

    RacerRick
    Member

    Only worked on the car one day on the weekend. Had other stuff to attend to.

    I did get the twist out of the cowl and the drivers side door opening pulled back to size. the two in come-a-long and some screw jacks from a nissan worked perfectly.

    I even test fitted the door and set the gaps. It was one of those days with lots of fiddling, measuring, and fiddling some more. The door fits nicely now with good gaps, but then I had to take it off to start fitting the rocker. This side is much more rotten than the passenger side and the lower part of the cowl needs a lot more metal replaced.

    No pics because it really doesn't look like I did anything, but at least the car is now straight and square. Once the rocker is in I can install the crossmembers and remove the jungle gym inside.

    But hey, its progress.
     

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