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Wayfarer's Wagon Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wayfarer, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've had this '53 Chevy wagon for about four years now and have been working on it off and on. I got sidetracked with a truck restoration to sell and putting together a '63 beetle for my wife. I've really been pushing on it for the last few months and am hoping to have it on the road in the next couple of weeks. I've posted things once in awhile, but I thought I'd put together a build thread that I can keep updating.

    I would like to say this was the before picture, but it was another '53 wagon I snapped a pic of in the middle of nowhere:
    [​IMG]

    The car was actually a running, driving car that I was told was restored at one time in the early 80's. It did have a '55 replacement 235 in it, which I'm told only had 14,000 mi. on it when I bought it.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I had originally planned on lowering it and driving it, but the long road trips we take and some input from my wife changed the direction. I swapped in an automatic on an adapter behind the 235, as well as a 10 bolt rear out of a '79 camaro. While working on getting it on the road, I also rewired it, painted the dash and put some new guages in it.
    [​IMG]

    I also went through the suspension, repacing most of the seals, cutting the coils and cleaning and painting everything. I also installed a dual chamber MC using the kit from NCA. I painted the grille white instead of the original black and cleaned and painted the bumpers. I'll have them chromed down the line (the grille now has 7 teeth in it, but they weren't in when the picture was taken).
    [​IMG]

    The car always had some bubling on the tailgate, so I decided I'd grind off the paint, see how bad it was, and fix it. It turned out to be completely gone and filled with chicken wire and bondo. I had new inner and outer lower tailgate skins made at a local sheet metal shop and proceded to replace the bottom of the gate.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When I got the car, it had sheet metal pop-riveted over cut out floors. I was going to wait and just drive it that way, but I decided I had some spare money so I may as well replace the floors. While drilling out the pop-rivets, I discovered that the dogleg areas of the rear doors had alot of bondo on them. After grinding it out, there were pop-riveted galvanized sheets all over those areas too. Here's what was hiding (Apparently, I don't have pictures of the passenger side, but it was almost as bad).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I posted a wanted ad here on the HAMB and desertradrodder hooked me up with the parts I needed from a '54 four door he had in the yard. I had the parts blasted and proceeded to piecing it all together from the inside out. Driver's side:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Passenger side:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I also replaced the floor (Don't mind the fire extinguisher dust, I set the donor seat foam on fire):

    [​IMG]

    I also built a K-member for the frame, just to beef everything up:

    [​IMG]

    My wife and I eventually want to tow a small trailer, so I decided to replace the 235 with an economical 307 that came out of my friend's mom's '69 Chevelle. After a couple of failed attempts at using exhaust manifolds, I finally settled on a 265 driver's side manifold that actually fit. I was against using headers, as I wanted the car as quiet, simple and cool as possible. I mounted the engine with the old Hurst style saddle mounts that are available from Speedway. The engine will be dressed with a 409 air cleaner and I drilled and tapped the rear of the manifold for a PCV so I didn't have to punch holes in the valve covers.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    That's all I have for now, but I'll keep on updating it. My plan is to finish the floors in the front tomorrow and start installing the 400 sq. ft. of insulation I bought from lobucrod. My seats are being reupholstered and are supposed to be done on Friday. Hopefully, I'll get the thing running and driving next week, so I can take it to the exhaust shop. After that, it'll get squirted in primer and hit the road. I plan on painting it over the winter a dark blue with a white top.
     
  2. noisey
    Joined: Mar 3, 2007
    Posts: 59

    noisey
    Member
    from central ok

    Great looking wagon, and nice work. Good inspiration for me and my old wagon project.
     
  3. Moparhead
    Joined: Dec 2, 2006
    Posts: 236

    Moparhead
    Member

    Looks nice.It sure helps to have replacement panels,saves the duplication headache.

    Fuzz
     
  4. Young1
    Joined: Jul 15, 2007
    Posts: 137

    Young1
    Member

    Nice work. I want a wagon now.
     
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  5. Sinister
    Joined: Jan 19, 2004
    Posts: 710

    Sinister
    Member
    from Oregon

    That looks great Jeff. Good thing you found the poor "restoration" attempt now, instead of after you paint it.
     
  6. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've got all the floors done, but forgot my camera. I'll take a picture tomorrow. I did get my seats back from the upholstery lady today. The design is pretty much copied from the front seat in Kirk's "May Cause Dangerous". I wanted cloth on the seating surfaces, so I had a bunch of pictures of seat designs and let my wife pick one. She picked this one and, after not being able to get period upholstery fabric for a decent price, she picked this one. It's simple, works for our use, and is alot fancier than what was originally in the wagon. The lady that did them works out a shop behind her house and did both front and back seat for $520, including fabric and foam. She even treated the fabric with stainguard.

    Front:
    [​IMG]

    Back (The rear seat folds, so it's actually two halves):
    [​IMG]
     
  7. nice work so far! the 307 will be nice upgrade. the one thing gm fucked up on was the steering because their isn't a easy way to convert to p.s. without tons of bullshit!
     
  8. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I finished, sealed and painted the floors:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    And today I started installing my insulation from lobucrod:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Looks nice, will be a lot nicer/quieter than my cars :D
     
  10. deadendcruiser
    Joined: Jul 18, 2007
    Posts: 691

    deadendcruiser
    Member

    Looking great. You make it all seem so easy!:D Keep us posted
     
  11. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I learned a long time ago to build cars as cool and quiet inside as possible. It makes for more comfortable long trips.
     
  12. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,965

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    The ole wagon has come a long ways. I like the way you prioritize projects and picked the upgrades without going crazy. Looks like the car will be useable and user friendly, should be fun.
     
  13. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    This weekend one of my friends came over and we got the tailgate mounted. The old screws were broken off in the body, so we had to redo all the threaded holes that mount the gate to the body. When I replaced the lower part of the gate, I made a strip of steel that was drilled and tapped for the hinge screws and put it inside the tailgate. It sandwhiches the gate between it and the hinge when it's all mounted up. It should be stronger than it originally was. I primed the gate and remounted it on Monday. (the slot is for a third brake light that will be completely hidden once the car is painted. It will also lie behind the Chevrolet badge on the gate):
    [​IMG]

    I also got all the new window tracks and fuzzies installed. I started installing the glass that oldbeet cut for me. I would have it all done, but I can't figure out how to get the glass into the tracks on the rear doors:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I also got some more wiring done on the engine and the linkage figured out to the carb. Here's a pic with my 409 air cleaner:

    [​IMG]

    I hope to get the exhaust done and the engine fired next week, but I'm headed out of town on Thursday, so we'll see.
     
  14. Bilko-1949
    Joined: Feb 24, 2007
    Posts: 124

    Bilko-1949
    Member
    1. GMB

    Nice job, it looks like it will be a nice car to cruise around in!
     
  15. 6t5frlane
    Joined: Dec 8, 2004
    Posts: 2,381

    6t5frlane
    Member
    from New York

    Keep at it man. You make it look easy !! Nice Job !!
     
  16. fef100
    Joined: Mar 24, 2007
    Posts: 168

    fef100
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That looks sweet. It will make a great hauler/road trip car.
     
  17. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A small update, I've been busting my butt doing little things on the car as well as pulling and replacing the engine in my wife's 64 beetle. I've got the entire inside of the car insulated and a double layer on the firewall and floor back under the front seat. I wanted to make sure it is as quiet and cool inside as possible.
    [​IMG]

    I also modified an alternator bracket I had to fit on the exhaust manifold. The holes in the bracket were closer than the ones in the manifold, so I welded up one in the bracket, redrilled and did some welding and sculpting. Everything worked out great and it sits just above the fresh air tube on the driver's side:
    [​IMG]

    I also installed the emergency brake pedal that I pulled out of a '63 bonneville parts car that my dad had a couple of years ago. It fits just right and fits the period of the car:
    [​IMG]

    I also made patterns for the wood floor in the back from the beat up, rotted originals. I'll remake them with quality plywood, but I'm still trying to figure out how I want to attach them to the car and what I want to cover it all with, that's why the back of the rear seat is still bare wood (The holes are for the shocks and fuel gauge sender and are covered with sheet metal covers when it's all done). The car originally had grooved battleship linoleum, something I can't get anymore. I found some ribbed rubber, but it was too thin and I don't really want to take the easy way out with carpet, but I may have to. Any suggestions?

    [​IMG]

    I also secured some brake lines, finished most of the wiring and tidied up some other loose ends. It's coming together, if slowly. I plan to have it totally finished and painted for debut next spring. I put the seats in just because they were taking up too much room in my garage. Anyone want to come over and help me strip the old paint?
     
  18. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    It's been too long since I've gotten a chance to work on the wagon. I coach high school football, which eats up all my time in the fall and this year I went right into coaching middle school Volleyball. My plan was to get alot done during Christmas break, but the record snowfalls and the fact that the wagon is in the shop at my parents' house, has curtailed those plans. The sheriff cancelled school today, so I got another day off and spent half of it in the shop.
    As you can see from the other pictures, there was alot of rust hidden by questionable bodywork. I've been slowly replacing all of it and now only have the lower quarters and wheelwells to do.
    [​IMG]
    I bought patch panels for both of these, but who would've known that wagons have longer lower quarters than other '53s?
    The wagon:
    [​IMG]
    The patch panel:
    [​IMG]

    The only way to fix it was to cut the panels and add an inch:
    [​IMG]

    With the piece added (I just tacked it together with the mig, I'll grind off the primer on the patch and gas weld the rest of it). It's now the right size:
    [​IMG]

    There was also rust in the lower, inner quarters.
    [​IMG]
    I haven't found a patch panel for this piece, so I thought I'd make one. I made the pattern today and I hope to make the pieces later this week, if I can get access to a brake and bead roller.
    [​IMG]

    Hopefully, I'm back on track with the car and it will be in primer and on the road this summer. I may even get it into paint if I get ambitious and nothing else comes up.
     
  19. Gambrinus
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 35

    Gambrinus
    Member
    from Vette City

    That is so cool. I love old wagons!
     
  20. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I know it's been forever since I've posted an update and mostly because I haven't done anything on the car. We bought a new house last spring and I completely redid the whole thing, hence not alot of time to do much else. Anyway, no pictures, but I hit a milestone today, I finally have brakes!! Now time to work down the checklist before I can start and actually drive the thing.
     
  21. Boones
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 9,545

    Boones
    Member
    from Kent, Wa

    Congrats, I missed this post the first time threw but it sure looked like the path I took with my wagon (yours had a little more rust then mine did). sure miss that car... are we going to see it on the road this summer?
     
  22. The Hank
    Joined: Mar 18, 2008
    Posts: 779

    The Hank
    Member
    from CO

    Looking real good man.
     
  23. midnight auto parts
    Joined: Feb 1, 2007
    Posts: 59

    midnight auto parts
    Member
    from tn

    looking great-- i have always wanted a 53 or 54 wagon. had a 54 sedan delivery and hate i sold it. anyway great work
     
  24. 6mopar7
    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 38

    6mopar7
    Member

    Loved reading & seeing your photos of your wagom project.


    John
     
  25. I went and looked @ a 53 wgn in L.A the day before I bought my 59 El Camino. Thousand dollars & no rust. BUT.. completely torn apart. The owner swore it was all there, didn't trust 'em tho'
     
  26. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Boones, I'm hoping you'll see it on the road this summer. I'm a little pressed for time as I work and as of today, also became a full time student. The plan is to put a halt to the metal work and get it running so I can actually drive it this summer. I'll work on the bodywork and adding a mustang II front end over next winter.
     
  27. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,988

    fab32
    Member Emeritus

    an excellent example of getting a semi-solid candidate back into sevice. I especially like how thorough you were chasing the rear dogleg rust damage right to solid metal and doing a lasting repair. The effort to not take shortcuts in areas like this will reap dividends in a car that will give years of service vs one that will have reoccuring problems in a couple of years.

    Frank
     
  28. Hi
    Are you running a sbc or a six in your wagon?, if so where did you get the driveshaft? did you get one from a junkyard and have it modified? or did you have one made?
    thanks
     
  29. wayfarer
    Joined: Oct 17, 2003
    Posts: 1,787

    wayfarer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've got a small block in it. The driveshaft came from the same Camaro I pulled the rearend out of, but I had it shortened. I'm back on the car and putting together the Mustang II for it.
     
  30. GaryB
    Joined: Dec 19, 2008
    Posts: 3,530

    GaryB
    Member
    from Reno,nv

    super nice wagon,suscribed
     

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