July 22, 2003 - 10:30 a.m.

No concrete, no work. I haven't updated this site in a while, mainly because I haven't done much to the Chevy. The contractor who was supposed to pour my concrete floor for me fizzled out, and working under the car in the driveway is just not my favorite way to work. I've got other things keeping me busy, but I'm eager to get back on the car. Better make a punch list of items I need to tackle:

Brake lines. I have to finish the two new brake lines needed for my single-to-dual master cylinder conversion. Still in process. I have bent the lines and have them in place. I just need to change out the m/c.

Firewall cleanup. I'm not going to do a major smoothing, but it needs de-greasing and painting. It'll be easier to do without the headers, so once the brakes are complete, the firewall is next. It won't be as pretty as I want because the motor is still in the way, but it will look better. It's a driver, remember.

Headers. New coated Hedman Hedders are in the box and await installation.

Gas tank. The tank is gunked up and needs replacement or cleaning.

That will get the car rolling on its own power. There are other important items that need to be taken care of next, for safety and other reasons:

Wheel studs. The IROC rims required spacers all the way around. I need longer studs for safety, there's only a few threads' worth on each lug nut, and I'm not comfortable with that at all.

Seat belts. Gotta install at least four.

Dual quads. I have a dual-quad intake and two small Holley 4-bbl carbs I bought last year off eBay. They'll look really boss on there, too. I had two Carter AFB's and a Offenhauser intake 20 years ago, but the setup was stolen from storage about a decade ago. For the record, I rebuilt the AFBs but had something wrong with the secondary carb. It was pouring way too much gas, I suspect the problem was ultimately my linkage setup. I didn't have the carbs set to open progressively. I had them directly connected. In restrospect, I should have had the first one opening up to half throttle or more before the secondary carb started to kick in. Live and learn. I fabbed the original throttle linkage myself, and was quite proud of it. I had never seen how they **should** be run, and no one I knew had experience with dual quads. The AFBs were neat though, they came from the factory on an early 60s small-block Corvette, according to the part numbers. I had two of those triangular K&B air filters on them, and damn, did they look good.

FUTURE WORK. At some point I'm going to have to repaint the car. I really need to do a frame-off this time, but frankly, I would rather enjoy the car for a while before tearing it apart. Maybe a frame-off in a couple of years. I do have some rust spots that need attention, but for a driver, it'll do fine. I'm not ready to work hard just to tear her apart! Ick!

March 30, 2003 - 9:30 p.m.

While under the hood of my 55 the other day working on removing the headers I located and wrote down the engine ID number stamped into the block. Here's what I found about V04200CRE.

V = Flint, Michigan manufactured
04 = April
20 = 20th day of the month
CRE = 1970 350ci/350TH transmission, 300hp, 4bbl, 4bolt mains
Used in the following body styles:
A = Chevelle
F = Camaro, Firebird (if installed here, it was a 330hp LT1)
X = Nova, Omega, Ventura, etc.

March 30, 2003 - 6 p.m.

I just crawled out from under my Chevy and I'm trying to get the circulation going in my fingers again. It's 40 degrees outside and I'm working outside on my only concrete floor -- our baskeball court. Baby, it's cold outside!

I've been out there about an hour or so trying to get the driver's side header removed from the car. There's not much clearance between the steering box and the header anyway, and my rather feeble memory seems to indicate that both sides came out and went in from the top. The passenger side came out fine once I removed the starter. The driver's side header is a different story.

One of the header tubes was right up against the header anyway, that's how tight the fit was. Trying to remove them out the top didn't work because the headers hit either on the crossmember, the steering linkage or the clutch linkage. I dropped the clutch linkage today and that gave lots more room. However the header hits now either on the crossmember or the top control arm -- just barely but enough to keep it from coming forward.

I don't recall having this kind of problems 20 years ago ... of course, I don't recall lots of things about my days 20 years ago, but that's another story! I've had this car torn down several times, and I don't remember the headers needing to come out under the car.

In looking at the front motor mounts (they're stock, and apparently the original 48-year-old mounts), and they look very squashed flat. There are four rubber "biscuits" and one looks like it's totally flat. I order replacements and have them ready to go in because I think possibly the flattened mounts (particularly the driver's side mount) are cutting my clearance for the header. A small variation of 3/8 inch is magnified by quite a bit by the time you move out a foot or so to the side of the head. If the weather is warmer this week I'm going to go ahead and replace the biscuits on the mount. While I'm at it, I'll see if I can raise the motor a bit and get the header clear.

I have a set of Hedman Elite headers ordered for the car. I really didn't want Hedmans, I wanted to use Thermal Tech 3/4 headers. I found out when I called them that they won't work with stock motor mounts because of the bellhousing tabs. I would need to add side mounts and a tranny crossmember to use the headers. I decided that was too much trouble, though it would be a worthwhile mod later on. The 3/4 headers fit better than the Hedmans, which hang below the frame. Lots of Tri-Fivers on the Chevy Talk Web site have lowered cars, and they can't run Hedmans or other headers that hang below the frame, which includes most of them on the market. I'm interested in getting the car on the road this summer, so I'm not inclined to take the more complicated route.

The paint on the car is in fair shape, though the closer I work around it, the more I see it needs. Still not a bad paint job for 20 years old. The biggest things I need to fix before painting include the door skins, surface rust by the rear window molding, and the lower trunk opening corner, which was fixed with bondo. I need to fix both floorpans, and I'll probably do that this fall myself. So many more panels are available as repro, it's amazing.

Regarding my headers, I posted a query on Chevy Talk. My new headers will be here this week, so I have time to regroup -- and warm up. I need to finish my brake line mods while the headers are off, it's a lot easier to do that way. I've thought about detailing under the hood too, because it's flat easier to work without the headers (again) in the way.

Watch this space for more news soon.

Jan. 23, 2003

Since my last update I've begun the process of replacing the original master cylinder with a double one. This requires adding some brake lines (or more correctly, doing a little replumbing). The great thing about it is the parts are all regular stock at your local auto parts store. There's no fabrication of lines, no flaring tools, nothing more than a wrench (and in my case, some Liquid Wrench).

I've had lots of other things to do besides work on the Chevy, so it's been on the back burner since September. The Chevy sat outside in the weather until last month, when I moved it inside. I hadn't started the car in months, but all it took was a squirt of staring fluid to prime the carb and off she went. The plugs in the bottom of my Quadrajet leak, a common problem, so everytime you try to start it after its been sitting a while, you have to fill the carb back up with fuel. The clutch needs adjusting, its way too low, and the brakes need fixing, but that's in process too.

Once I had her started, she sounded great. The thing doesn't idle right, as though there's a vacuum leak, so I had to keep it at 900 rpm or better, but she settled down to a nice rumble. I can't tell you how good it felt to feel that horsepower underfoot. For the first time in nearly a decade, I drove the Chevy under power when I moved her inside. It all came back to me ... the lopey idle, the way the front end raises when you woof the throttle in gear... of course I didn't have any brakes beyond the emergency brake, so I couldn't do much. With the new IROC rims and tires, she handled well, what little I drove her. They're not real flashy, but for they're good for what they cost me.

I changed the steering wheel a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to put in a tilt column, but this was cheaper. I'm not a small guy, and the large aftermarket steering wheel was pretty tight quarters (it always has been). A replacement one (slightly smaller) gave me extra breathing room without a pricey column replacement.

My next chores are to find a shop in Louisville to rechrome the inner window sill trim pieces and my Sun tach housing. It's the old original Sun tach and works fine, its just the housing is showing a bit of rust. I really like the new Autometer tachs, but this old Sun is an original 60s item, and I like the look. When the weather breaks, I will finish plumbing my new master cylinder as well.