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Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/21/19 2:47 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse said:
Jerry From LA said:
Recon1342 said:

In reply to Jerry From LA :

The 700R4 is hydraulically controlled. The electronic version is the 4L60E. The two transmissions are otherwise identical.

Oops.  Forgot.  Perhaps a refreshed 700R4 would be the easy button on a four-speed swap then.

I think a 200 4R would be the actual easy button.  IIRC the 200 4R is a bolt-in swap for a TH350, whereas the 700R4 is physically larger and longer.  The 200 4R can be built to stand up to a 3.8 Turbo mill in a Buick GN, so it should be fine for this.  

But yeah, the TH350 will be cheaper and if you're not worried about spinning a ton of revs on the highway forever, probably a better option.  

I'm actually slowly building a '32 Ford Roadster which will run a small block and 200R4 so I'm very familiar with it.  Since I'm not planning on a lot of highway use with this car, I didn't think it was worth the extra $800+ for the OD.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/21/19 4:42 p.m.

Please tell me the  Honda Odity is flamed as well? 

 

Is that a Mini and a 39 (?) Ford in the shop?

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
12/21/19 5:13 p.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman :

I only brought it up because the extra gear would allow either a shorter final drive for extra scoot or more relaxed driving at any speed above 40 mph with a light throttle.  The TH 350 has value as a good quality core so it could bring the cash outlay down on a 200R4.  You have a great plan in place and you're Carl Friggin' Heideman so it's not like I'm trying to talk you off the Big Mistake ledge.  I wondered whether it was a good time to explore an option with a little more flexibility.  Regardless, I'm in as long as you continue to update.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/21/19 5:37 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

Thanks for the compliment!  Your suggestion is exactly what I'm doing with the '32-->TH 200R4 with 4.11s in the the rear. 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/21/19 5:40 p.m.
Appleseed said:

Please tell me the  Honda Odity is flamed as well? 

 

Is that a Mini and a 39 (?) Ford in the shop?

Yes, Mini and 1936 Ford that we sorted out for a customer a few years ago.  

Didn't flame the Hondas.  I drive a Civic Si now and have had thoughts of flames or teeth like aircraft nose art.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/22/19 8:17 p.m.

It's been a productive weekend.  Picked up the transmission and a bunch of additional parts for the project.

Then we started working on raising the front crossmember to lower the ride height.  We're making it in three pieces, starting with the top.

It needed a little bending to shape, so we use a makeshift press brake for that.

We put some bracing in the frame while things are cut apart and made a fixture to set  the new pieces at the right height.

It's about 3/4 of the way fabricated and installed.  I'll share the rest of the pics tomorrow when it's finished.

 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/24/19 4:35 p.m.

The crossmember is done.  I switched from a U-bolt to hold the spring in to a bolt-in bracket made by Pete and Jakes.  With the U-bolt and the new crossmember height, I would have had to jack the engine a little bit to change the alternator belt.  

Before:

After:

During:

I made the top piece first, then the back and front pieces.  After a test fit of the radiator, I realized I needed a "C" notch for the lower radiator hose, so I had some more cutting and welding to do.

Finally, that Pete and Jake's bracket is a real problem solver, but it comes with a plain weld-on bracket and button-head screw and doesn't quite look the part.  So I made a period-looking bracket with rivets so that it would blend in with the rest of the frame.

 

And a close-up of the finished crossmember:

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/24/19 5:55 p.m.

My younger son, Chris, got working on the engine.  He installed the new cam and heads and cc'd everything.  We're at 8.7:1 CR, so that should work out well with our planned boost level.  

In case you're wondering about the weight difference between iron heads and aluminum, we checked:

We used Fel-Pro MLS head gaskets.

We hate to paint those shiny new heads, but we want this car to look period correct, so we will.

 

 

Recon1342
Recon1342 HalfDork
12/24/19 6:04 p.m.

In reply to Carl Heideman :

That’s looking really sharp! Any reliability concerns with aluminum vs iron heads?

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy SuperDork
12/25/19 12:22 p.m.

Awesome!

Love the GRM meets Street Rodder.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse PowerDork
12/25/19 2:57 p.m.

Nice job on the crossmember. I'm doing some of my own x-member mods on my current build. Always love to see how other folks tackle these problems. Great craftsmanship, too!

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/25/19 6:33 p.m.

Thanks guys!

Regarding the reliability of the heads, our engine guy says he uses a lot of them and recommended them over name brand stuff.  They're Chinese and only $800/pair.  We're using a similar set on the CAM-T Falcon Wagon's 302 and they've held up well there under more boost.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/25/19 6:36 p.m.

I could read this stuff all day. 

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
12/25/19 7:17 p.m.
Carl Heideman said:

There are other forums more appropriate for a car like this, but I like you guys better...so I hope you don't mind this build thread.

I'm glad you're posting about it here. I love these kinds of builds.  Street rods are lots of fun.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
12/25/19 7:35 p.m.
Appleseed said:

If she ends up needing a fan, I saw a neat idea on the H.A.M.B back in the day: use an old 50s box fan to make a shroud, the ones with the rounded corners. Slice and dice it to fit a mechanical or electric fan (works real good at hiding an electric.)

That's a good idea. You could always also just roll your own, using whatever sheet metal you have laying around. That's what I did. 

 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 4:52 p.m.

More progress, and the drivetrain is back in.  I'll give you the highlights here and then fill in some details soon.

Rattle canned the crossmember and it should blend in with the rest of the frame paint with a little driving.

Rattle canned the heads.  We picked up some $22 valve chrome covers at Lane Automotive since we don't want to cut up the Corvette covers for breathers.  They make good masking covers, too.  We just wiped them down with carb cleaner and paper towel to get the paint off.    We'll be searching for cool replacements at swap meets, so these are just temporary.

Mated the engine/trans and got them swingin'.

It's so easy to install an engine/trans in a hot rod.

​​​​​​​

 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 5:24 p.m.

This project has been pretty straighforward, but there have been a few difficult bits that I thought I'd share so that maybe some of you won't have to deal with the issues we've had.  First off, the starter.  The exhaust runs directly below the starter so I've occasionally had the GM hot-start issue when the starter gets heat soaked.  I've tried two or three gear reduction starters in the past and they wouldn't fit for reasons I didn't chase down.  Since I had the engine all apart, I decided to chase this down and get a gear reduction starter to fit.

I don't know my small-block Chevy trivia like I know British, German, and Miata trivia, so maybe some of you can fill in the blanks I'm missing.  What I know is that there are two basic starter bolt patterns, straight across or diagonal.  And apparently some small blocks are drilled for both.  Mine is only drilled for diagonal, which limits starter choice.  After the previous attempts with cheap gear reduction starters, I ended up going to the higher-end with a Powermaster unit that is drilled for both patterns with a 168 tooth flexplate .  The other choice is 153 tooth--a few years ago I did the laborious task of counting my 168 teeth while the engine was in the car and I was trying to get a starter to fit.

And I did weight it to compare to the OEM rebuilt unit that was on the car:

One of the nice things about the Powermaster starter compared to the cheaper ones was that it actually had useful instructions.  They indicated that the starter gear should have at least 1/16" clearance to the flexplate and that there should be .020-.030" clearance within the gear mesh of the starter gear to ring gear.

That is much less than 1/16".  They were actually touching.  A new flexplate solved it--more on that soon.

My other issue was the gear engagement was too tight.  I've tried shimming the previous attempted starters, but didn't really get very far before deciding things were getting too mickey mouse and returning the starters.  Powermaster's instructions said that for some early blocks, it may be necessary to shim as much as .125."  I never would have thought that much shimming would be appropriate, so I didn't try with the previous starters.  With this one, about .090 was the right amount.

My last issue, which I hope isn't an issue, is that when I bench-tested the starter on the engine, the gear would occasionally stay engaged.  I could tell it's because of the internal ratchet springs in the gear, and I figure once the engine starts it will kick back, so it should be okay.  But it made me a bit nervous, so I called Powermaster and they assured me it's normal and okay.

This is an example of it sticking.  It's not hung-up due to misalignment, it's just hung up because the internal springs are tensioning the gear counterclockwise and there is enough friction to keep the gear from sliding back.  Moving the flexplate just a tiny bit makes it snap back.  

By the way, I also tried putting one of those heat blankets on the OEM rebuilt starter and I didn't like it because it was electrically conductive.  I was afraid that someday something would move and it would either dead short the big battery cable (fire!) or engage the starter at a bad time.  So I like the gear reduction solution better.  At least in theory since I haven't had a gear reduction starter fit until now.

So maybe this is helpful to any of you if you're having starter issues.  And maybe some of you have insights I'm missing?

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 5:50 p.m.

Difficult bit #2--the flexplate.  Even though I'm certified to repair automatic transmissions, I've done little more than change the oil and filters in them, so this project has been a bit of an education for me in trans selection, torque converter selection, and now flexplates.   When I found the starter clearance issue, I deduced the only logical thing could be a flexplate that is too close to the block.  I called NAPA and a flexplate for my engine was only $27!  So they sent it over and it solved my clearance issue.  But only 5 of the 6 bolts would fit back into the crank; even NAPA lets us down on parts quality from time to time. 

At that point, I decided I better get a good one so I ran back to Lane Automotive.  For those of you not familiar with Lane, they've got just about as much stuff as Summit, Speedway, Jegs, etc. and they're 40 miles away from me, so it's nice to drive down and touch the parts before buying them sometimes.  Plus their counter guys know their stuff and always have given me good advice.  But I digress.

I walked out with a $95 TCI flexplate that was a little thicker than stock, looked much better made than the $27 flexplate, and I figured it should match my TCI trans and TCI torque converter nicely.  

Another digression--I find so often that mixing and matching aftermarket parts frequently creates bad fitments.  It must be due to stacked tolerances (or maybe just bad tolerances).  So I try to stick to a single vendor for a component set if I can as it seems to cause less of these problems.

Back to my new flexplate, which I was feeling would completely solve my starter problem.  Flexplates, like clutch disks, can get installed backward.  So TCI laser engraves theirs to tell the customer which way to install them.

So it's about 9:00 at night, and I'm looking at this flexplate, and I'm pretty sure that if I install it the way TCI says, it's backwards.  But I'm also not very experienced in flexplates, so I'm thinking I must be wrong.  Plus the old flexplate didn't fit, so maybe it was installed backward.  I have a small-block Chevy core engine sitting on the storage side of the shop and I checked its flexplate.  It was installed the way I'm thinking is correct, so I decided to call TCI in the morning.  But I was wondering, am I crazy or stupid here?  I've seen lots of mistakes like this from vendors, but this one has a pretty good reputation and everything else was so professionally done and packaged.

Long story short, I didn't even finish asking the question when the guy from TCI said they had a bunch of flexplates go out that were marked wrong.  So I took a paint marker and painted over the etching, then wrote "marked backward" on the flexplate, then installed it.  I hope that paint is still there years from now when the next guy takes this thing apart.

I called my sales guy at Lane and told him about the issue.  He said they had 30 of those flexplates in stock (well, 29, since I bought one) and that they were going to pull every one out of the box and check them.  But this is going to drive some people nuts and probably some people are going to get to pull their cars apart because they'll follow the marking.

Edit:  The main reason I put these details in this update was because I googled to get a good picture of the flexplate orientation.  I found a lot of messageboard posts with descriptions, but no good photos.  The photos below show the transmission/torque converter side of of the flexplate.  It's got raised spots for the converter bolts and the lip on the center hole points toward the transmission/torque converter.  This is the $27 NAPA flexplate, not the TCI one.  But they all look about the same.  I hope these help someone who's confused like I was.

 

 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 5:56 p.m.
JoeyM said:
Appleseed said:

If she ends up needing a fan, I saw a neat idea on the H.A.M.B back in the day: use an old 50s box fan to make a shroud, the ones with the rounded corners. Slice and dice it to fit a mechanical or electric fan (works real good at hiding an electric.)

That's a good idea. You could always also just roll your own, using whatever sheet metal you have laying around. That's what I did. 

 

Nice!  You might notice a little sheet metal fabrication equipment (like an English wheel and a Pullmax) in the background photos at Eclectic.  I'm assuming you did this more grassroots than we do.  Very nice job!

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
12/27/19 8:14 p.m.
Mad_Ratel said:

Ok that's t I must be an old guy now.

I've never liked old hot rods. Except yours looks awesome and fun and I want a ride.

 

Why does it seem like everyone of them has a Chevy motor though? 

The California Kid had a Ford.  And I point this out because it may well be the most iconic hot rod ‘34 (‘33?) on the planet.  It was Pete’s.  The yellow one was Jake’s and had a lot more suds thanks to a nailhead Buick.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/27/19 9:27 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

That cover makes me miss the demise of  Rod & Custom. And treasure to issues I have.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 9:35 p.m.

There are three hot rods that I've always loved:  Those two, and Tom McMullen's 1932 Ford Roadster (with a 4-71 blown SBC).  There are elements of all three in my car, but my car will never be anywhere near as cool as those are.

 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/27/19 10:00 p.m.
gumby said:
Carl Heideman said:   I'm the one who's been drinking PBR since before it was cool.  I used to say it was the best beer for three reasons:
  1. Cheap.
  2. Just as good warm as cold.
  3. Won't run out because friends won't drink it.

Hipsters have weakened #1 and #3, but #2 will hold true forever.

Among other things we agree on, it seems our logic on PBR is perfectly aligned as well laugh

With the drop in price, I have seen many hipsters switching to Hamms. Good for them I say; leaves more PBR for me

I just remembered a PBR-related piece of trivia about my car.  To my knowledge, it's only been in a magazine (barely) once.  There was a picture of the grille in Rodder's Digest (which was the GRM of street rod magazines back in the day) and the previous owner had put a PBR bottle cap in the crank hole.  Gerry Berger from Rodder's Digest was on the the PBR bandwagon at the time and that's why the picture was in the magazine.  The bottle cap just happened to have a 1934 Ford behind it.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/28/19 4:55 p.m.

More details, if anyone's interested.   When I wire cars from scratch, I try to do a very tidy job and I'm strict to keep my wires very orderly.  When I build a loom, my goal is to be able to remove or add a wire to the loom easily if I ever have to.  I run all of the wires parallel to each other and try to have them exit the loom at right angles.  Rather than covering everything up with tape or sheathing, my favorite method is to lace the harness the way they did it in old airplanes:

Wiring like this is very easy to troubleshoot and service and looks beautiful when done well.  Here's a great example (not my work, just a picture I grabbed off of the internet):


This was the first car I ever wired that way.  Now, when I wire hot rods, I use the old-style lacquer-braided wiring and waxed string as shown above.  When I did this car, I used normal vinyl-insulated wiring and zip ties instead of string.  Zip ties are much easier to use, but just don't look as nice.   The wiring has never let me down, but it always looked too much like a trailer wiring harness to me.  It's not worth rewiring the car with lacquer-braided wiring, plus it's a 1970's era car that wouldn't have been wired that way.  So I decided to just get some okay looking sheathing to tidy things up a bit more.  I considered using reproduction Ford-style sheathing, but I would have had to cut a lot of the terminals off to slide the sheathing over it.  Fortunately, there's some pretty nice split sheathing on the market these days that looks pretty similar to the old Ford stuff.  I bought a bunch of different diameter sizes from Painless, but it's available from a lot of places and all over Amazon and eBay as well.  

The stuff with the red stripes is the original-style Ford sheath.  I thought the Painless stuff was close enough.  It's a bit shiny, but it should dull down easily.

So here are a few before and after pictures of cleaning up the wiring.  I also never liked the nylon P-clips I used on this car, so I switched to aluminum ones.

If you're wondering about the heat shrink on the alternator wiring, the red/gray is because I always put a fusible link in at the charging post.  The one at the white wire covers up the diode I installed to make the car shut off since I don't have an ignition light on the dash.

Here's what it looks like under the dash.  It's ok, but not as tidy as I do now.  I'm not going to change it since it's functioning just fine.

I'm always looking for ways to improve wiring installations.  Anyone have any secrets they want to share?

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
12/28/19 5:30 p.m.

Another detail.  Let me know if you want me to stop. Since the blower had a new pulley setup to replace the harmonic damper, I had to make a new timing pointer.  I didn't take pictures, but when the heads were off, I used a dial indicator on #1 piston to get a really accurate TDC location.  I then made two temporary pointers out of sheetmetal strips and bolted them on the back of the engine.  Each pointer referenced a tooth on the flexplate, which I marked with a paint marker.    Then I moved to the front and installed the new front pulley.  It had a timing mark groove in it, so I just modified the old timing marker to point to the groove.  I use a dial-back timing light, so I only need TDC as a reference.  I moved the marker down one set of bolt holes on the timing cover and used tin snips to cut the new pointer into it.  I cut off the old degree marks because they won't be accurate with the smaller pulley.  Also, they don't go high enough anyway.  I'll probably be timing this to somewhere around 32-36 degrees BTDC, all in.

  

And I'm happy to report that everything packaged well with the crossmember modifications.  It's tight, but I will have room the change the belts.

 

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