Well I decided if I am going to hook up this thing to a computer I am not going to bother with mechanical advance on the distributor. The first pic is after ripping everything out of the distributor to get it ready to mount the new 7 wire module up to. The module is going to be a bit of a trick to wire up so I will put how to convert the distributor on it’s own page as soon as I get time. The fuel pump and new filters are installed and everything else is about ready to go to try and start it with the new system installed. Now all I have to do is change the oil in it before doing much else, it still has the old oil in it from when I drove it home while it was still a Caddy a few years ago
Archive for V8 Conversion
Well I gave up on getting the quadrajet working the thing was warped to bad and after spending a week trying to get it to run halfway decent and not wanting to spend $300 on a new carb I just went ahead and ordered a Holley Commander 950 system to fix the problems with the carb and ignition at one time The system isn’t hard to install but they don’t give you much in the way of instructions for it. I also will be converting the distributor to a 7 wire computer controlled setup and getting rid of the old mechanical and vacuum advance setup. I don’t like the short wiring harness that it comes with so I will probably end up mounting the computer somewhere in the back. probably in the side where the door latch is, I can make a cover to keep the water out of that area so it should stay dry hopefully.
I also mounted the coolant recovery tank right below the main air purge tank. I have had good luck so far with the cooling system. I let the engine idle when it still had the carb on it for about 30 min and the car never tried to overheat. The fan would kick on at 180 and keep the temp right there without letting it vary by more than a few degrees. The carb was running so bad it would dump gas down the engine if you let it get more than 1500rpm and flood it out and make it almost die so I still have not been able to get the car to move out of the driveway yet and see if it would cool the engine while it was being driven.
After the car show I hauled the car back to the vocational school and we made up a new roll bar. The old one didn’t fit right after the body was on but the new one fits perfectly and just fits under the trunk without a bit of trouble. While it was there we went ahead and made up the trunk mounts and got them on it nice and square. the trunk goes back as far as the first picture shows so it is more than enough to work on it while the trunk it still in place. The front edge of the trunk window opening had to be cut off a bit to let the roll bar sit in it but it clears it just fine now and with the trunk shut you can barely see the bar. I still haven’t gotten the carb to run good yet. I rebuilt it but I must have missed something somewhere because it still won’t run well at all. The ignition advance was a pain to get free but after a lot of WD40 it came loose and turns just fine now.
I didn’t trust it to actually drive the 4 miles to the show seeing how it has only been running about 20 minutes total. It was a good thing I put it on my jeep and towed it there. I drove it on the trailer fine and backing off the trailer it made it another 30 ft and died. I haven’t looked at what is wrong with it to see what killed it but from looking around the engine while it was sitting at the show I know the distributor mechanical advance is stuck and the carb is leaking and half working, it needs rebuilt bad. The car show was ok it was kind of funny watching people look at the car as they walked by from the front then they noticed the engine and you could just see the strange look on their face as they tried to figure out if that was a real engine stuck in the back of that little car
The interior actually doesn’t look that good yet, the seats aren’t bolted down and the carpet isn’t glued down it is all just duct tape and zip ties holding it together.
Well I tried to get it to start but it doesn’t seem to want to start. The main problem I am having right now is the starter is shot and will barely turn the engine over. I got a new one ordered but will be saturday before it comes in so it looks like it will not be able to drive to the car show after all. I got enough of the wiring working to see how well it can run but no lights or anything else hooked up, just the gauges and ignition. It will turn over and backfire a lot but it hasn’t been able to start and run yet.
The dashboard looks pretty good even though the vinyl isn’t glued on well and the steering column needs some paint on it but overall I think that instrument cluster is going to be real nice in the car. The engine seems like a bit of a mess but it is all hooked up good enough to try and start it but so far I haven’t had any luck. The fill tank for the radiator isn’t mounted yet so it is kind of laying around out of the way. Since the car won’t start I guess it really doesnt matter if it is attached or not.
I gave up on the engine for the evening and decided to see what the trunk would look like in its final mounted position. I have it sitting right where it needs to be and it has plenty of room over top of the carb. The last two shots are under the hood trying to take a picture of the bottom of the trunk. They came out bad but if you look close you can see the carb and make out how far away it is from the trunk lid. I have about 4 inches over the carb of clearance so I might put that Edelbrock intake on it and see what happens then with my clearance.
For now it doesn’t look good for getting this thing to the car show under it’s own power so I probably will be skipping the show this year unless someone brings me a car hauler to pull it to the show on. I don’t know of that counts as a trailer queen car or not
Things are starting to come together. I kind of figured I would start at the front and work my way back putting things together that it needs to be able to start and drive around. Once I get most of the basic stuff put on and working then I can start on cleaning up the holes in it and making it more car like and not so much like a pile of junk parts welded together.
I managed to get all the body bolts back in it somehow or another, some of them are impossible to get to now with all the extra junk in the way. I ended up on a few of them putting some duct tape over the box end of a wrench with the nut held in place and fishing it up through a small hole and trying to hit the end of the bolt while the bolt was being turned with a ratchet. The front ones aren’t as bad as they used to be. There is a big hole cut all down the side of the body so that makes them simple to mount up now.
With the body mounted in place now It is time to start on the front end. I cut the lower part off the car and tried the radiator and it fits perfectly in the hole with no problems at all. I know there usually has to be something wrong but it actually bolted right up! The radiator took all of 15 minutes to get set in there so I figured I might as well go ahead and mount up the battery tray. I wanted it in the front passenger side under the headlight to try and get some more weight on the front end. I messed around trying to come up with a way to mount it solidly and decided on having two bars run across the front of the car and mount them back to the crossmember. It worked out great that way the back bar now protects the radiator from anything on the road and the front bar is a good place to make some brackets to mount the front body work to. I ran two other bars back to the crossmember and bolted them together in case it ever has to come back apart it should be able to I hope.
Tomorrow I hope to finish the front end up and start on the back end and hopefully have everything together and ready to start it up by Wednesday or so. Even if it doesn’t get started by then I should still be able to get it to the car show on sunday so everyone can finally see what has been done to it over the winter.
Well the gas tank was easy to put on once I got it back. I just cut out some straps and put it together. I will have to pick up some rubber and put under the straps but it will do for right now. The trans cooler ended up being in a slightly strange place but it seems to work out ok the way it is mounted. I just have to attach the lines to it now unless I can come up with a better way to mount it but so far it looks like it is going to stay where it is.
Once I got the tank mounted down there wasn’t any reason left to leave the body off it so I got it sort of back on the car. The bolts holding it down are near impossible to get to now with all the extra bars and pipes everywhere now. I have a bolt or so on each corner holding it mostly together and straight but I figure it will take all day to get the rest of them in it. at least the good thing about the way it is coming together is that there will be more room inside the car with the body mounted a inch higher on the frame than it used to be. I will be working all day tomorrow just to get those stupid bolts in it. I almost want to take the floorpan out of it just to make it easier to get in the inside and hook everything up but I will probably just leave it on and not mess with it.
I got all the fittings on the gas tank and stuck it in place to see how well it fits. There is plenty of room around it so mounting all the rest of the junk back there should be no problem. I might even have enough room to put the side windows back around the tank so I don’t have to leave them home or on the passenger seat while riding around. The sending unit is about a inch off the bottom of the tank so I will have about 1 gallon of gas left when the gauge shows empty, that is enough to get me somewhere if I let it get to low on gas I will hook the tank up and mount it in the next few days. I hope to get the car running by weekend but it doesnt look like that is going to happen just yet.
The first pic just shows what the car looks like as of now, it is kind of a mess. The easiest thing to do with all the tools when working on it is just throw them inside the car so it probably has 200lbs of tools and scrap laying on the floor of it now. The part that has kept me from getting much progress done on the car is that rear suspension and brake system. I finally got it all fitted together and nothing is hitting anything else. those coil overs are just maybe a quarter inch from rubbing the A-arm but no matter how hard the car bounces they dont rub so that is enough for me to not mess with it anymore The rear brakes are in and working, the only thing left is run the parking brake cable out to them and then the brakes are totally done and ready for the road
Well it was a tight squeeze getting those copper lines ran in the side of the car but I think they will work out just fine like they are, I just need to attach them and not leave them laying loose in the side of the body. The brake lines were a pain to get flared, no wonder everyone just buys lines already flared, it probably took a few hours to flare every line and cut it to fit. The last picture is on the side of the car you can see the spot where the upper body bolts to so the brakelock will be just under the dashboard. The rear proportioning valve will be a little bit out from under the dash but I don’t plan on letting it stick out to far of the panel so it should be no problem. I thought about putting the proportioning valve in the trunk but it would be a pain to adjust it and get it set right so I did it the easy way and just stuck it in the side of the car where it can be messed with while driving. All that is left for the brake lines is to attach them down so they are secured, I don’t think I will put the mounts on them till after the rest of the junk is in the front end in case something has to be moved around.
well I finally decided on the size of the tank. I made it hold 14 gallons of gas. Instead of making it thinner and keeping it at the same height as the cardboard one I made it shorter and kept the same size bottom. It looks like it will work out pretty good like that and should have no problems fitting everything around it that size. I also finally got my copper pipe fittings so I can make the radiator lines. The only thing left now to build before I can bolt the body back together is the radiator surge tank and put the steel brake lines in it.
I had a hard time finding a cable for the throttle, I called around bike shops and nobody had 15ft cables. I found a few places that sold a 50ft roll of cable housing but they didnt have any cable. I finally found out by trial and error that #2 and #3 picture hanging wire looks exactly the same and fits right in the cable housing. I went to a hardware store and picked up a 25 ft roll of each. the #3 was a bit to tight for such a long run so I used the smaller #2 wire and it worked perfectly. With a 50ft roll of cable I had more than enough to route it anywhere that was keeping it from having a sharp curve in it and still keep it out of the way.
The shifter cable was not to hard to get on there right. I had to order a 12ft cable and ended up welding the new pivot arm on the old one since it was already welded on and there was no way to take it off. that also gave me a good spot to bolt the cable mount bracket onto the pan. I only stuck one bolt in it for now, I will have to take it apart when I finish up the rear suspension so no point in doing extra work now I figure.
I tried to make a cardboard gas tank and see how well it fits. with a tank this size I will have plenty of gas but I haven’t added up its size yet to see how much gas it will really hold. I am trying to get 15 gallons so if it is more than that I probably will cut it down some to make more room for other stuff. I know that 1 cubic foot is 7.48 gallons so I will measure the tank next time I think about it and try and figure out how much it holds. The only problem with the tank sitting there is that the only way to take it out is to have the body off the car. I might be able to take it out by cutting the rear firewall but I really would rather not do that. It is a good spot for the tank other than not being able to take it out easy.
The bottom row of pictures shows the new rims. The backspacing on the new rims is 7 1/4 inch. that is plenty to put the tires under the fenders. I noticed one problem though, the upper ball joint grease fitting is not going to clear. I can either grease it up then just seal the hole with something else or try and fit a smaller grease plug on it. I will have to look around and see what I can come up with for that. The rear brakes off the eldorado fit the front rotors and mounts just fine but they are way to close to the cv joint on the axle. I will try grinding down the extra metal on the caliper and hopefully that will fix the problem.
On the first two pictures you can see where I planned on mounting the brake and throttle pedals. I ended up cutting part of the tube to allow the master cylinder to mount. I was thinking it might be a bad place to cut the tube but considering all the other tubes right around that area it ended up being no big deal. The pictures on the second row shows the pedals mounted and the front brakes finished and hoses ready to connect the hard line to. The pedals ended up being in just the right spot the way they are set up now.
The lower row of pictures show the rear coil over I managed to get mounted. The bushing on the bottom end was to small to fit over the stud on the A-arm so I had to grind it out slowly to make it fit. The spring barely fits inside the suspension but it is just far enough away that nothing is rubbing against it. If the suspension had a lot of travel it would have hit something but since I put 850lb springs on the rear it takes a pretty good bit to make it move far. I will have to mount a bump stop and a travel limiter to keep the arm in a good location and to keep it from moving far enough to allow the spring to hit something. I should be able to keep about 2-3 inches of travel on it though so I am not worried about it.
I will hook up the rear brakes and finish off the rear suspension next. After that it can have the brake lines hooked up. I will have the steering and brakes finished at least now all I have to do is finish the other million things on the car and I might be able to take it for a drive.
The top row pictures show the new floorpan. I cut it out of 16 ga. steel. instead of welding it on the car I bolted it by drilling and threading holes in the lower frame tube. That way I can bolt it on and it is as strong as welding but it can be taken off whenever I need to. I know from the last time I build the car that gluing and welding everything solid seems like a good idea when you build it but having to work on it later when something breaks is a real pain when nothing comes apart easy. I primed the bottom of the car with gray primer then sprayed rubberized undercoating over it to protect it. This isn’t so much a show car as a daily driver so undercoating might not be the best looking stuff but it is sure stronger than paint.
The body of the car is back on it for a while so I can line it up and get the lower body bolted down to the frame. I don’t have it shown on the pictures but the upper and lower body is bolted together solid. I plan on putting the trunk lid on it’s latches and supporting the back of it with something. I can then do a final check on getting the body sitting perfectly square then drilling holes in the lower tube and threading it so I can bolt the body down solid to the car. Once I get the lower part sitting square I will probably take the top half off and try and mount up the brakes, shifter, pedals, radiator, steering, and seal the lower section to the floorpan.
The last few pictures are with the trunk lid stuck on it sort of straight. The 3rd from the end picture shows the wheel and how far it sticks out with 3.5 inch backspacing on the rims. I flipped the rim over and it was around 6-7 inches backspacing in the last picture. The tire will just barely be under the car. I can go ahead and order the rims now that I know what will fit. I also have a picture of the clearance on the air filter. with the trunk in place it has about a inch of clearance. Overall everything fits about the way it is supposed to so my only real concern now is with the exhaust and what to do with it.
The frame has some paint on it now at least so it is protected and won’t rust to bad I hope. I used some paint I had laying around and decided that it looked decent with all those bright colors on it. I didn’t have enough yellow to do much more than the front suspension but yellow might be a bit much for it anyway.
I put the rear suspension back together, all except for the upper A arm bolts, they were all broke off so I will have to find some more of them somewhere. I will definately need to get a 4 wheel alignment done on it as soon as it is back on the road, the wheels are pointing all different directions. if you look at the last picture you can see where the old steering box would have fit on the Eldorado. I cut it off and welded a plate on the steering assembly to fix it in place. there are a few braces under the engine that can’t be seen. All the braces are there to help hold that link in the exact spot it was originally so the rear toe can be adjusted on the tie rods and it won’t bump steer on the back. At least that is what the plan is, I won’t know for sure till the first time on the road.
well the car is finally home now.
I got the radiator yesterday so after gettting the body off the car and on its side I can try and figure out the best way to mount it. I think where it is at will be good but there is no way a fan is going to fit on the back of it so I will have to make an air box and have the fan on the other side of the crossmember probably. at least that way I can put 2 or 3 fans in it instead of one.
I decided to leave the car outside under a carport to work on it, that gives me a lot more room and the cold weather is all but over so it might be faster to get it back together outside. First thing I need to do is to get the suspension all finished up and completed. after that I can remount the body on it and maybe bolt the floor pan under it. I am debating on leaving the floor pan off until the wiring is finished to make it a lot easier to get under the dash but I have not decided on that part yet. I am replacing the rear ball joints and cleaning and repacking the bearings. I can fit the back brake calipers from the Eldorado onto the rear end of this car so I will even have a parking brake setup that works. The front suspension is good the way it is the only thing needing changed is the springs have to be cut off a lot to lower the car down to the ground. The way it is the front end probably has around 9-10 inches of ground clearance.
well the frame looks almost exactly the same as last time but there has been a lot of work done to it. All the welding is done now, the trans mount is solid and all the tubes are welded together. The floorpan should be in tomorrow and it won’t take much to weld it together and finish up the frame. I think there are 2 diagonal bars that we are going to add from the dashboard bar down to the crossmember to add more strength to the frame but other than that you could probably connect a steering wheel to it and drive it like it is
I ordered a radiator from McCulloch Fabricating in AZ to fit the front of the body. I gave it a 1/2 inch of clearance around everything so it should just fit in with rubber isolators to keep vibrations away from it. I called and talked to them a while, they know their stuff and can make a radiator for about anything, he didn’t even think I was insane when I told him what I was building.
If you look at the last picture you can see how far the back tires stick out. that outer rail is 1/2 inch inside the body so when the body is on the car the tire will be about 3 inches to wide. The rims I have on it are 3.5 inch backspacing so if I go with the 7.75 inch backspacing rims it should fit about like original. I still am going to wait on ordering them until the body is back on the car just to make sure I don’t get the wrong spacing. My new gauge set came in, I ordered this set from Dakota digital, it is a nice setup and came out being about the same price as new analog gauges and sending units.
I should be bringing the car home this weekend if all goes well and the floor pan metal actually shows up on time…..
Well maybe not completely finished but all the rails are in place now, The only thing left is to finish up a few welds and wait for the sheet of metal that is to be used for the floor pan. The floor is going to be made of 16 ga. steel and welded to the lower tubes. the position of the floor should be in the same spot as it was before so I won’t get any extra headroom. At least it forces you to wear your seatbelt so you don’t hit your head on the roof every time it hits a bump.
The transmission mount came out well. cutting that old piece of frame off the car made the back end look a lot better. we used the old mount and a part of the old frame where the mount bolted to and welded it on top of the mounting plate on the trans. The part of the transmission plate that was cut off was used and welded to the new rail that went over the top of the bellhousing. with it set up this way I can still unbolt the transmission mount if I ever need to and take the transmission out easily. It should also clean up the back end of the car a lot when I get that chain cover cleaned up and painted, it will be the only thing visible out the back of the car probably.
The front suspension is completed and welded up solid. the upper rails that go where the old frame mounted are welded to the crossmember then plated on the top and bottom to make it even stronger. the lower tubes are notched out and fit on the crossmember and welded on solid. The only thing that was hard to get just right were the strut rods on the lower suspension arm. It took a little bit of messing around but it came out ok and they are very strong and should have no trouble with any kind of load I can put on them.
the frame hasn’t changed much but a lot of other odds and ends have been taken care of. I got the front rotors with a chevy bolt pattern on it and the rear rotors have been redrilled to a standard chevy pattern. once I got those rotors mounted, I put the wheels on it so it would be easier to move it around and work on it. The back wheels are sitting like that since the upper a-arms do not have any bolts in them they are just sitting in their mounts. with the back wheels on it it is easier to see how far off the backspacing is on the back tires. I will have to have at least 3 more inches of backspacing to get them under the fenders. I will order them as soon as the car is home and I can make sure of how well the trunk lid fits over them first though. I was hoping that I could get away with around 3 inches more since that puts me in good shape for a few different rims that have offsets near 6-8 inches. I can even order some more centerline rims like the ones I have on it with a 7 3/4 inch backspacing. Those will put the tires just an inch wider than what they started out as.
I also am sure that the transmission mount has to be moved now. You can see how it looks on that first picture. Once I got a measurement from the back tires then it is obvious that the bar is to far back and it is going to have to be moved to over the top of the bellhousing. It will work out better there because it will give me a place to mount the transmission cooler and oil cooler without having them in the way of anything else or having a chance of getting them hit with rocks.
I ordered a set of 850lb springs for the back end. I figure the front is way to stiff with the springs on the front from that old pinto so I might as well make the back ones match it At least I won’t have to worry about a sway bar on it for a while.
Here are a few shots of the progress on the roll bar. the bar fits just behind the body and the trunk lid will shut on it. The engine subframe is finally getting some extra strength added to it and the car feels good and solid the way it is now but the side bars that go in the lower body still have to be added and the bar going inside the dashboard needs added still.
The frame should be done next week unless something else comes up at the school and they get sidetracked. there are only 4 bars left to add and maybe some extra bracing here and there. after the bars are added the floorpan and gas tank are all that is left and it will be ready to bring home and finish up. I figure other than getting a radiator I should have all the parts I need to finish it except for the little stuff like hoses and wiring.
The rear rotors have been taken over to the machine shop class and they are going to drill them out to the standard chevy pattern. Once the rotors are drilled I will put the tires on it so it can be moved around and worked on a lot easier.
Don’t drool to hard looking at these pics
The body is placed on it to see how things are going. Just imagine what this thing is going to be capable of considering the power to weight ratio. I know it looks terrible with all the old grease and rust on it but first things first. I have to make sure it runs good and is halfway controllable before I go and powder coat and paint everything that isn’t chrome. I will probably drive it looking about this dirty this summer just so I can cut and weld on it and get everything right before stripping it down in the fall and cleaning and painting the whole thing.
One thing we have decided is that the gas tank will be better in the back. we are going to use 1/8 inch aluminum to build a tank and go for around 16 gallons in size. The caddy rotors are the wrong bolt pattern, they were 5 on 5 and centerline doesn’t make the rims like I had on the car in that size. I had to take the hubs and rotors over to the machine shop and get them to drill them out to the standard Chevy 5 on 4.75 pattern. I will have to order new back rims with a 7 3/4 backspacing to put the wheels in the same spot they are now, I will wait till after the hubs are on and the body is completed before ordering the rims to make sure of how they will fit.
The rear trans mount is going to have to be cut off. It sticks out to far and will be in the way. We came up with a good way to move the mount to the top of the old mount bracket. It will be done soon hopefully and you can see pictures of it in a few days. It will also give me a nice solid place to mount the oil and trans coolers. I hope in the next few days the rest of the roll bar will be done and the chassis will be near completed.