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Cranky Motorsports
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I had been looking for a while to get a new project car as I haven't had one in 2 years. It's not that I don't have ANY projects because I have several tractor resto/upgrades going on currently, but the car projects are something I want to do with my kids too. I had been looking at 2wd S10's, Novas, and basically enything that had a good body and was around $1000-1500.

I had found a 1986 S10 that the body had been off, frame was painted, all new bushings, springs, and better rear end, was already set up for a V8, and was pretty straigh, rust had been 'fixed' already, but it was a 2 seater, and I really wanted something for the family.

I found a 2 door 1975ish Chevy Nova 2 door, straight 6, TH350 car, and my dad had looked at it a couple years ago, and said it had no rust and was solid, however, the paint looked good and the car was toast. Its gonna be reclaimed by the earth soon... Rockers were gone, leaf spring mounts were rotting off, floors were junk, trunk pan was junk, front control arms were paper thin... It was a turd, and had whole dead mice in the interior. NASTY.

After that one dropped off my possible list, I started looking at other novas, malibu's, caprice's, impala SS's, and couldn't find anything I wanted. Found a couple ratty vette's that had been sitting for 10+ years, so I know the frames would be junk...

Then I came upon an ad on Facebook Marketplace, and it was 1953 Bel-Air sedan, and didn't look too bad. Guy wanted $1300 for it, and after messaging back and forth several times, I find out the guy builds tube chassis frames and suspensions for all kinds of stuff including my cousins mud truck, and the guy said if I show up with $1000 cash and my trailer that would buy the Bel-Air. My wife said "If it's a bel-air or a Vette you can buy it" so the whole family piled in my truck and we went to look at the car.

The trunk pan is rotted, but not too badly, the floors need a little help, but they're fixable. The car looks like at least 2 people worked on body work on it over the years. Some of the body work was done well, some was done realllllly poorly. It came with just about all the chrome, has both bumpers, all the glass (couple windows are cracked though)

So what is my plan with this car? Kind of a hot-rod barn find patina look roadkill style build. So what will it be? a 1953 Sedan with a 305HO from a Monte Carlo in it, I have a 2 speed powerglide for it, and I need to get a rear end. It still has the original rear end with torque tube in it that won't work with the trans I have, so I am looking for a S10 4x4 rear axle from like a 2000's S10 and I think I have found one for a good price with springs, but it's 2 hours each way from me... I plan to maybe either put 2 bench seats in it from S10's or something similar, or I may put 4 racing bucket seats in. I guess it all depends on what I find that strikes my fancy on any given day.

It will be a very cool cruiser, not a speed demon, probably will ride like crap as I plan to raise the rear up about 3" and I will probably leave the front suspension in for now. The front springs are super stiff, but hey even in 1953 they had a sway bar! So it's legit...

anyway, here are some pics for starters...

I already have the whole nose off, the trunk lid off, and I am starting on ripping the rear end out of it too.
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #2
I also emailed Rustoleum to see if they would sponsor me for paint on this car, as I buy a lot of their paint anyway, and I plan to use it on this one as I did on my C10 many years ago.

We'll see if they get back to me...

I go my old sweet ansen sprint style wheels back from my cousin too, I had those on my hotrod C10 and my sonoma, and on my caprice too. So I have had these for a long time, and they are perfect for this build.

The car came with the fender skirts too, but I don't plan to use them. I may keep them, I may sell them, not sure.
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #3
heres a few more pics

I had made a comment to a buddy of mine that it looked like they put bondo on with a spatula, and they did... It was in the car...
 

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That looks like it will be a fair bit of fun! Wheels look really good on it. I am curious though, why a 2-speed instead of something like a TH400? I've only ever driven one 2-speed car and it probably wasn't a good example (the whole car was pretty worn out), but it wasn't something I would have considered choosing.
 

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I love the lines on these rides. I've often envisioned making one a poor man's two door. Great stance............those rear "fenders" are just classic!

Nice score, congrats!
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #9
That looks like it will be a fair bit of fun! Wheels look really good on it. I am curious though, why a 2-speed instead of something like a TH400? I've only ever driven one 2-speed car and it probably wasn't a good example (the whole car was pretty worn out), but it wasn't something I would have considered choosing.
the 2 speed was available, and inexpensive. Fluid inside was still clean and sweet not burnt. The final gear in a Powerglide is 1:1 just the same as a TH350 or TH400, so highway cruising will be fine, just won't get off the line as fast. I'm not worried, easy enough to change if I hate it.

I got a rear end from a 1979 trans am with 3.08 gears, drums look new, brake shoes look new, hardware is still gold in color, and the brake lines and one wheel cylinder are new (although the line is crushed from the guy removing the rear end). I got a set of leaf springs from a 2003 ish S10 pickup, they look very new- still have the part numbers painted on them- they may actually be replacements.

Next I have to get wider spring perches and weld them on the frame so the newer springs will fit because the original ones were 2" wide, and the new ones are 2.5" wide (3" at the bushings).

I Need to get different motor mounts too for the frame and the motor.

Its slowly coming together.
 

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Looks like it'll buff up nice eventually James!..one of my late friends had a nice '50 Chevy with the original 235 straight six & 3 on the tree..

The PowerGlide is a rugged transmission,rail dragsters used them,so did circle track dirt racers,granted their not as quick off the line as a TH350 or 400 is,but they do have the lowest first gear ratio out of them too,believe it or not..
I've owned several of them and used to travel hundreds of miles at a time in the cars that had them,and never had a bit of trouble with any of them..they all had a cool whine in park or neutral,I recall..

I have a 70's vintage Th350 short tail that came with a 307 V8 I bought a few months back,I don't know if its any good,but the fluid in it is clean and doesn't smell burnt--it does have a small hunk of the bellhousing missing though ,it appears the dipstick tube jammed against it when the engine was hoisted out,and it lost the bolt hole above the dowel pin,but I think it would not even be missed if you went to use it..
If I knew it was "good" I'd be tempted to put in place of the 700r4 in my 4x4 Suburban,it'll bolt in if you use a spacer on the tail..



I kept a TH350 with a lock up converter for a spare for my van,that came from a '86 G-10,it has the 9" tail housing ..been sitting a long time now,worked good before I pulled it,not sure if it would now though..

I saved a TH400 from a '74 Monte Carlo I had ,that had a 454 factory,been holding onto it in case the one in my plow truck craps out,its a short tail,but I'm pretty sure the output shaft is a tad too long to bolt right up to the transfer case,it would probably have to be swapped for the 4x4 version..

I have an extra 3rd seat for my '85 Suburban that might fit that car,if your interested too..

You can buy new spring perches for the rear axle at speed shops,also I have seen them for trailers at Tractor Supply too,that might work..
 

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That there's worth fixin'
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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #12
Robert, stinks that TH350 got dinged up- it may be ok for a easy drive now and then, I wouldn't put it in anything I was gonna thrash on...

Rick, I got trans dapt motor mounts for the 53 coming. it slides over the frame, and you drill 3 holes per side, and it bolts on, and you can weld it as well. I will probably just bolt it with three 3/8" grade 8 bolts per side to hold it on, and it should be fine.

I got a whole lot of work done this week. trunk pan s almost all fixed, I got the brake booster and master cylinder bolted in the to the frame, got the factory rear end out (for sale cheap with springs and everthing if anyone needs one), got my new spring mount parts in and working on mocking them up, and I ordered all the parts I need for my motor assembly- The block was a little disappointing because my buddy that I got it from, I knew had a bit of work done to it years ago, and it was done by a few guys in their teens- so the lower end was put together by a shop, so the bearings and everything are fine, but the heads had 2 different brand bolts holding them on, the motor has a 280H comp cam in it with stock valve springs, so I am replacing those, new keepers and locks, new pushrods (cause I didn't have any), and should be a decent motor.

The lower cyl walls have some visible scoring, but not enough to catch your finger on, so I plan to just run it for now- It is a 305, and I don't want to bore it out, as that adds much more money onto it. My buddy that I got it from has a 350 in pieces I can have, but it would be the same deal, I would need better pistons, and the cyl to be gone through, so that adds $700+ easy to any build. My plan on this build is to try to put it together for under $3500 total cost, and I think I can pull it off. I sold one of my tractors to help pay for it, and I have another for sale, maybe one more after that.

heres some more pics...
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #13
heres a few more pics... despite the scoring (again I say minor minor) the lower end of this motor is immaculate. I'm super excited to get this thing back together once I get the rest of my parts in
 

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Not knowing much about complete motor vehicle engine rebuilding you said the cylinder walls had minor scoring and you were going to run it for now; does that mean you are going to hone them or leave as is? Just curious as this is a very interesting project. Thanks and good luck with it.
 

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That there's worth fixin'
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Those Torque tubes were pretty weird. My 54 had that too. I think that time frame 53/54 was at the end of their usage. Looks like you're having fun and getting a lot done. I'm subbing this one!
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Not knowing much about complete motor vehicle engine rebuilding you said the cylinder walls had minor scoring and you were going to run it for now; does that mean you are going to hone them or leave as is? Just curious as this is a very interesting project. Thanks and good luck with it.
I am not taking the pistons out and honing. I plan to re-assemble as is. For the record, it is not the right or recommended way to put a motor together.

I saw this motor run, and helped pull it out of the car it was in. Had great compression in all cylinders, and I know the bearings in the lower end have less than 4000 miles on them, so I am willing to take a risk on the light scoring thats in there, also I am rebuilding the heads with new springs, keepers, locks, rocker balls and lock nuts, and all new pushrods and lifters as a few of the lifters were tarnished as well. Most of the issues in this motor were due to it sitting for several years after being built on a stand, and not turned over regularly. You can get tarnishing, rust, rings stuck etc if you don't keep it filled with oil and turn it over regularly. I usually put oil in the spark plug holes so there is some on top of the pistons which will help it stay in nice shape even if it sits for a long time.

this is a video of the motor running.

Yes we had a weiand 142 blower on a 305 with a non-blow through carb :) it was FUN to drive
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #18
Those Torque tubes were pretty weird. My 54 had that too. I think that time frame 53/54 was at the end of their usage. Looks like you're having fun and getting a lot done. I'm subbing this one!
Thanks Rick! Yeah, I have been working like 2-3 hours at a time, a couple days a week to try and juggle family life and work. I hope to have it driving before the winter- not be done, but at least move under it's own power.
 

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Cranky Motorsports
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Discussion Starter #19
Ya, good idea about the motor... Really Id just run it also. Not worth putting much into a 305 really.. Fix the heads up, and run it.. save the money for building a fresh motor from a better starting point.
I really like 305's- don't know why everyone gives them such a bad rap... In the 80's GM used some cams with soft metal, and some oil pumps that tended to get weak, and the cams would go bad, and then oil pressure would drop, and you could spin connecting rod bearings... I've seen the same thing happen with 350's in the era. These actually were decent motors- 56 or 58CC heads, flat top pistons, about a 9.5:1 compression ratio, and with a decent cam and some minor headwork, easily can get over 300HP, and use less fuel because a smaller displacement. I will take all the free 305's people dont want :) I like doing stuff with things other people hate. Thats why I love Onans so much.
 

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The 307's had the same "bad reputation" too James,but 90% of the ones everyone called "junk" only suffered from flat cam lobes,and 350's were so readily available then used for cheap money,most guys just scrapped the 307's..

I owned several of them,and had no issues at all with them once a new cam was installed..one I had was in a '68 Caprice Estate Wagon that had only 65,000 miles ,but the cam had several dead lobes..

I put a Sealed Power cam in it that was close to the same specs as a Duntov 30/30 can GM used in many high performance small blocks and the thing ran sweet..it had a Powerglide,and 3:08 gears,so no burnouts were possible though..it would wind up to 65 mph in low though!..

My '81 G-10 van has a 307 from a '73 Chevelle in it I bought for $100,did nothing but put a new timing chain & steel gears in it,and put it in..it runs good,but it always has smoked a little at higher RPMs..with 2:73 gears,it does not see high RPMS very often though!..that engine was the last year for a 307,and it has EGR,was rated at 115 HP,I think the 250 six I removed had more HP and torque,but I like the V8 better..

Now I have two more I bought cheap--paid $80 for the "unknown running condition" 1971 one with the TH350,and another supposedly "nice runner" 1970 one for $140,but I'm lacking most of the pulleys and only the '71 had exhaust manifolds,and they are the "ram horns" that wont work in my later GM trucks..
I have yet to try firing either one up ,I'm hoping they wont turn out to be junk,or have bad cam lobes..

The 305's cylinder heads are small chambers and a lot of guys put them on other small blocks to boost the compression ratio,and low end torque..small valves meant they were limited at high RPM's but for street use,they were great..one of the strongest small blocks I ever drove was a 400 small block with 305 heads,it was in a '69 C-10 pickup with 3:73 gears--it could chirp the tires going into second gear at a fast idle almost efforlessly,it was hard not to squeak them!..

Does that Trans-Dapt motor mount use the holes on the front of the block for the motor mounts instead of the brackets on the sides,like most 55-57 Chevy's did ?...those bolt holes on the passenger side go into the fuel pump push rod area,so be careful not to use bolts that are too long,and you will want to dip them in indian head gasket shellac to seal the threads,so no oil will ooze out of them..
We sold a few factory '57 Chevy engine mount brackets at the junkyard,I think Trans-Dapt copied the factory ones,but GM's were beefier..

As for that TH350,yeah,it sucks some doofus busted the bell housing--but if it worked OK,I think I'd risk using it as-is--years ago I blew a TH350 to pieces in a '67 Impala,and had NO money,but my friend had a TH350 from a Buick he removed to upgrade to a TH400,and said I could take it--I was going to look for an adapter,but my older brother told me 4 out of the six bolts will line up to a chevy block,only the two upper bolts were different bolt spacing..
I installed it with only 4 bolts,and drove that car thousands of miles with no issues,but the 283 V8 in it was pretty tired and it had 3:08 gears,so I wasn't going around doing hole shots with it !..you never would have known it was "missing" two bolts..

My big concern with the missing chunk is the dowel pin area lost its full circle on that side--if both dowel pin areas were intact I'd have no fears using it as-is..it still would probably "live" even the way it is though...only "fix" for that would be to chop up a junk Th350 bell housing and try tig welding in a patch,or cut the bell off and use a blow shield ,but that would cost more than a good used TH350 probably..
I'm reluctant to install that TH350 in anything,then find out its a P-O-S though..
If I were younger I would..
 
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