Listen to her purr

November 6, 2016

The next steps after the exhaust were to get all the wiring connected (that I could at this stage) that was required to run the engine, namely the starter, distributor, alternator, ignition and all the ground points.  Also finally got the right sized serpentine belt, which looks good.20161027_195335

The wiring went fairly well, with just a bit of research being needed.  Having siblings and a father who are much more electrically inclined certainly helped in the process.  Spark plug wires have never looked so good.20161029_180107

Next step was the cooling system.  Unfortunately since I have ordered this in 2 stages, stage 2 contains the grill which is what supports the radiator.  Since I didn’t want to wait, I rigged up a solution that will do until I get the grill at the end of the year.

Still a bit of difficulty in routing the water pump bypass line and where I am going to tie into the manifold, but it will do for now.

Got the engine cranking, primed, and filled with oil and water.  We were about to try to start it up, but decided to get a oil pressure gauge to make sure we were still seeing enough oil pressure which delayed us by a week.  Once I had the pressure gauge rigged up dad came over and we gave it a shot.  First couple tries we were having issues with fuel not being pulled in since the lines were all empty.  Priming the lines sorted that problem but highlighted another… fuel leak!  After avoiding blowing ourselves up and fixing the leaking offender we had the beast up and running!  Ill see if I can upload a video on facebook or somewhere else, but she sounds good and runs pretty smooth.  I think I need to adjust the timing a bit, but everything seemed to be running well.






Exhaust Install

October 2016

Its been a while since the last update, been working on getting the exhaust in and finally got it sorted after some corrections from FFR.  wp_20161014_21_28_19_pro

I must say that working on the exhaust on the lift has made it much more convenient for fitting everything in, especially since FFR has designed a pretty impressive system that sandwiches the exhaust completely in between the top and bottom tubes of the lattice frame.


Initially I had an issue with the first pipes fitting since I apparently got an old run of pipe which had the flange welded on the wrong end.  I spoke with FFR and they promptly sent me out a new set of pipes which all fit pretty well.  You can see the mirror polished stainless steel which looks pretty awesome.  I am sure anyone looking at the underside of the car will appreciate it.  6 mounts and some cutting and grinding to make sure they were flush with the frame top and I had the exhaust in.  I think I still have a bit of adjusting to do since they arent as far back as I would like, but we will see how they fit on the body.

I have the pipes centered up in the rear instead of split because thats the only way I can clear the IRS mounts.  However, I think they look pretty good close together like that.  I have about 3/4 of an inch between the mufflers and the floor panel, so hopefully it wont get too hot, but the insulation should help with that.

Next up, finish some of the wiring and start this bad boy up!

Shiny parts make more power

October 8-9, 2016

This weekend was an accessory weekend.  Got the pulley system installed and the alternator and A/C compressor in… it all amounts to a lot of shiny polished aluminum and chrome!

I needed to measure out a serpentine belt, so I rigged one up with an old ratchet strap and will use it to find me the right size.



Also got some more of the wiring connections in and tried to finalize the fuel system.  I learned how to make up braided stainless hose connections without any of the special tools required, just need to figure out how to fit in the fuel lines with radiator hoses and bypass lines.  You can see one of the flexible lines that I made up and ran attaching to the fuel pump in the picture below (I also installed one of the headers to start fitting up the exhaust but didn’t make much project because the brother and friend decided to interrupt with beer… jerks…


On Sunday I got the fuel tank and aluminum shelf underneath it installed, a bit of fitment issues, but I think it will be ok… its only full of flammable liquid.


I think I am about ready to order phase 2 of the kit so I can get some seats and a steering wheel, but first… get this thing running!

Engine Install!

October 1, 2016

So a pretty big milestone for Delores occurred, engine install time!

Last minute (one week) before installing the transmission, I decided to change from a mechanical clutch to a hydraulic clutch to avoid the issue with trying to push a clutch fork with a cable.  Something about physics and only being able to put tension on a cable.  Went with a McLeod hydraulic throwout bearing, some people reported leaks, but it was on a different model and from several years ago.  The unit appears to be well build out of billet aluminum, so after some trial, errors, measurement checks, and spacer removals, Dad and I got the TOB installed on Friday.


Saturday morning started early and Dad was nice enough to stop by to help out.  The install went surprisingly quickly and easily.  I guess it helps that there is nothing else installed and that there are no body panels to get in the way.

Final step was to have someone pick up the transmission and lift it into place since our lift is a bit short on reach (see dad in the final pic).  We got it all mounted up except that the transmission was about an inch and a half too low.  Thinking at first that FFR had messed up the frame, we were pretty bummed, however I remembered 2 random spacers that I didn’t know what they were for.  Turns out they were a perfect fit!   So FFR had it all perfect, we just shouldn’t have doubted (however the instructions were a bit vague).  Final pic is it looking pretty good, my power steering needed to be rotated down a bit and the mounts needed a bit of widening, but other than that it was smooth as it could be.


Engine buildup

Assembling all of the new parts onto the engine has been fun and about 75% successful.  The first step in the process was to assemble the front accessory drive serpentine system with the short water pump that I had ordered.  Unfortunately the March Performance kit that I ordered did not fit the new “fast burn” heads that the SP350 I bought has, so after a call to Summit, they are going back for a refund and the new brackets are on their way.  The March Performance kit seems to be pretty high quality products and their tech support was very helpful, however, since these systems don’t have automatic tensioners, we will see how well they work once I put power through them.


With that holding up the front end assembly, I turned my attention to the bellhousing/clutch/transmission.  I decided to follow the instructions and dial in the bellhousing to make sure I wasn’t out of tolerance for the runout of the transmission (0.005″).

Unfortunately we discovered that I was a decent bit outside of that tolerance.  Amazon prime to the rescue!  The offset dowel pins arrived in 2 days and were enough to bring me back within tolerance.

Other installs that occurred were the fuel pump, engine mounts, clutch, and final bellhousing install.


At the same time, I had gotten it in my head that I wanted to polish the firewall so it wasn’t just a dull aluminum when you open the hood, so after stealing dad’s buffer and buying some aluminum polish and pads online, I went to work.  The end result picture below doesn’t do the process justice and makes it look easy, but I am happy with the result.  Certainly not a mirror finish and there are still some scratches in it, but I can see my reflection and it looks a lot nicer than before.


About half way through all of those rivets I was regretting not finding an air rivet gun… my hands still hurt.

The fun bits

Bought the engine, transmission and associated bits off of  They have extremely helpful technical support, fast shipping, and great prices.  I am not getting any kickbacks from them, but if I can call up their tech support and the first guy I speak to can tell me what clutch he is running in his Nova and his experience with the different options that are out there, and then help me sort through the 17 different items to make sure they will all work together, that is impressive and helpful to me.

It took many iterations matching up all the input and output shaft diameters, tooth counts, clutch diameters, mounting arrangements, and hp/torque capabilities before I was ready to pull the trigger.  Impressively enough, everything was arriving at the house in a week.

wp_20160907_18_29_24_pro-1The first delivery was mainly boxes, which Kristy managed to haul in (lifting a 70lb transmission!).  The picture to the left is about half of the deliveries (cat for scale).






The next big delivery was the crate engine which came by UPS freight.  The delivery guy didn’t want to try and squeeze his delivery truck down my driveway (weaksauce) so we used his liftgate and pallet jack to unload it into my truck and then I backed it down the driveway without many ideas of how to get it out of the back of my truck.  That evening, Dad was nice enough to come assist in the offload and using the engine crane that he and I bought a while back (I still owe him my half, don’t remind him) we managed pretty well, although there were moments of doubt.