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 summitracing.com.  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.


Wheels and Tires

Mid Sept 2016:

This post is going to get a bit long my process to pick out wheels and tires, so if youre just interested in what I ended up with, go to the picture at the bottom.  However, you should feel guilty that you aren’t experiencing the full journey with me and are taking the easy road out.

Picking out the exact wheels and tires that I wanted was a process that was a whole lot more work than I was expecting, from creating spreadsheets to convert wheel and tire specs to actual dimensions, to figuring out exactly how big I can go and still fit the tires in the fenders, and picking a style that reflects the hot rod that I am building, it too many hours and many selections before I finally clicked the purchase button.  I had originally wanted retro wheels like Torq thrust IIs from American racing (google them) in 18″ in the rear and 17″ in the front, but after seeing some 18″s and 17″s in the wild, I decided those weren’t big enough, so I moved up to 19″s in the rear and 18″s in the front.  Unfortunately, American Racing doesn’t make wheels in 19″ diameters, so I was either forced to find a different design or use a smaller wheel… Different design indeed!  So my search began anew and after looking long and hard for 11″ wide rim in the rear, which unfortunately pushes you into custom wheel territory for which I did not have the budget.  Another issue  in the search for wheels, was that all websites assume they know better than you and force you to pick a vehicle so they can tell you what fits (an issue I am running in to with parts also).  Eventually, I managed to find Niche Targa wheels in the sizes and widths that I needed at the price point I wanted.  This was a big departure from the “retro” look I was going for before, but I once I got into it, I liked the idea of doing something different and I think they will look pretty awesome.

Picking tires for this beast was an equivalent pain in the ass, mainly because tire dimensions are flexible when it comes to what wheels they will fit on and since the tire wall height is a function of tire width it was a lot of trial and error to make sure I wasn’t exceeding my envelope defined by the fenders.  Eventually I decided that the widest I could squeeze in the rear were 295mm (only 11 inches wide… I know disappointing), and in the front were 245mm to give it a bit more of the stagger that I wanted.  Options weren’t too plentiful for the tire wall heights I needed, but I ended up selecting Bridgestone Potenza Pole Position S-04’s which had good reviews and a good price.

So now, for what you all have been waiting for….

Disregard all the trash below the car, I had just finished unboxing a large amount of parts and that was the best storage spot… don’t judge me.

Not a Structural Engineer’s Strong Suit

Early September:

I haven’t posted in a while, so this and the next few are a bit of catchup posts to get us current to where I am at with the car, apologies for my delinquency to all my adoring fans.

At this point I had ordered the engine, transmission and all the bits associated in addition to the wheels and tires, but had none of it to work on, in addition to that the back brake kits were still MIA (more on that later) so I started laying out the wiring harness and tried to figure out what all these so called “wires” are and where they needed to go.


The ron frances harness comes in a large box which appears daunting at first, but with each area bundled by groups and labelled (front harness, rear harness, dash harness, etc.) and each individual wire labelled with its purpose (horn ground, ignition, etc.) its possible for even my electrically challenged self to understand.  I started laying out the harness and zip tying to the dash, connecting the front and rear harnesses and routing them on the frame, and then I installed the fuse panel (after changing out the flasher solenoids since this hot rod has LED tail lights, fancy!).wp_20160905_19_45_48_pro


Everything went pretty well, but I haven’t started connecting wires yet, so I am sure there is still a lot of room for me to screw things up.  In the meantime I also installed the horns so they wouldn’t be visible once the grill is mounted.


Next post are the shiny things!

Front Brakes and Brake Lines

August 17-18, 2016

The build of the brakes started at the end of the suspension build up, with the exception of the rear brakes (still missing mounting brackets since they are on back order).  Assembly of the front brakes went smoothly with all parts coming together quickly and correctly.

Enlisted the help of the brothers for running the brake lines, Jordan helped out with the front lines and Collin with the rear lines and certainly wouldn’t have gotten the routed without their creative solutions.  After a decent amount of bending and a bit of unbending, I finished up the connection points to the flexible lines and mounted the brackets.

The end result was pretty clean, we did a nice job on keeping the bends in line with the frame and they look good.  I did learn my lesson after a couple mishaps to tape the fittings to the end  so that they don’t slide to the wrong end and you end up bending an entire run and realize that you have to very carefully unbend everything to slide it back to the other endWP_20160827_10_27_38_Pro

Kristy got tired of me being out in the garage, so she stopped by to see what was going on, but the rules of the garage are that if you are hanging around you are put to work!


Suspension (and a couple other bits)

July 2016 – I kicked off the build with the suspension as the very large and very detailed manual told me to do, and since I didnt feel like being contrary, it worked out well.  Initially I had a couple key suspension components back ordered with Factory Five (known as FFR here on out), but they were delivered a couple weeks after I started and I had plenty to work on to get my feet wet.

First step was to paint all of the unpainted suspension components, I used Eastwood Extreme Chassis Black gloss coat and primer.  Many other builders have had all of these components powder coated which would provide a much more durable finish, but I was eager to get going and hadnt budgeted it, so although I may regret it, I got started with the improvised drying rack below:


The suspension went fairly smoothly outside of a couple minor issues that kept delaying me since I didnt have any full weekends to work on and was only progressing it in the evenings after work.

August 2016 – By August I had all the parts painted, the back ordered items had been delivered (except the rear brakes due to FoMoCo screwing up orders) and I was moving along.  We managed to get the rear center section in with the assistance of one brother, one father, 2 ratchet straps, and a pry bar due to some dimensional issues with the mounts being a bit too close together.  However, since they are all bushing mounts, they should be ok, although I am not sure I will be able to get it out, but I will cross that bridge if I come to it.


The weekend of August 20th and 21st was the first full weekend I had to work on the car and managed to get the front suspension, steering, and brakes installed and the rear suspension, CV shafts, and hubs installed so it was a big milestone with only minor injuries and a few pulled muscles due to torquing requirements.


I would like to thank the two tools that made this possible, specifically the “Adjuster” and that sweet sweet car lift that makes getting underneath this frame so much faster and easier.


Next up I need to buy some wheels and tires and get going on the brake lines and steering column.


A New Project Begins

April 2016 – I think Kristy finally got tired enough of me talking about building a Factory Five Hot Rod that she just told me to shut up or buy it, so we talked about it and pulled the trigger on the first phase.  Giddy doesn’t begin to describe my behavior when I got the email saying that my kit was ready.  In a strange effort to avoid shipping costs and a desire to see the Factory Five shop, Kristy and I decided to rent a trailer in Houston, pull it up to Massachusetts, pick up the kit and drive it back down to Houston (a quick 3,000 mile trip!).

Since I was going to be doing a lot of work in the garage, in Houston, in the Summer I decided to do a couple upgrades (which were included in my project budget) prior to picking up the Rod.  These included: A/C, insulating the garage door, and best of all a childhood dream of mine… a car lift!

We kicked off our road trip over the 4th of July weekend with a long haul to Cincinnati to visit her Sister and Brother-in-law, a quick stay, followed by another long haul up to Boston, and another quick stay up there for the 4th.  Once we made it to the Factory Fiveshop, we got a tour from the team up there, loaded up the truck with the help of the guys and headed off for Kentucky, another quick stay and then a final run back to Houston.WP_20160706_09_20_52_Rich

We made it safe and sound with minimal damage to the goods (one seal on the IRS center section got chewed up after rubbing against the frame for 1,500 miles, but it was easily replaced.)


So with the frame safely in the garage, and the other half of the garage completely occupied by boxes of car parts, the adventure began…