Archive for January, 2011

Shop air

After getting the cutting torch and drill press I was in the mood to solve another problem I was having at the shop. Not enough air.

I have a 30 gallon Craftsman compressor that I bought a few years ago for the house. When I moved into the shop I took the compressor with me with the idea that I would eventually replace it with a larger compressor.

When my dad and I had our shop we had a 5 HP 60 gallon compressor and a media blast cabinet. It was great but the compressor wasn’t a true 5 HP and it would struggle to keep up with the compressor, or keep a dual-action sander running. So I was looking for a real 5 HP or larger.

I wanted a Champion compressor, but those things are really expensive and buying new would really cut into my truck budget. But since Karen turned me on to Craigslist, I thought I’d look for a slightly used one.

Boy did I luck out. Not long after I started looking, a used Champion came up for sale on Craigslist. It was in Garland and was just refurbished by an air compressor company and looked to be in great shape. I took an hour off for lunch with the idea of driving over there and making what I thought was an obscene offer. Well they took my offer and now I had to get my new compressor over to the shop in Fort Worth.

When I got to the shop I was able to locate a neighbor who had a fork lift and they were kind enough to unload it for me in the shop.

Compressor

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Cutting torch & drill press

Last week I had finished prepping the sides to the frame rails and was ready to lay down the 2” x 1/8” flat-bar that would serve as the top and bottom of each frame rail. After trying to bend the flat-bar I realized I would need some heat to make the job easier and to keep the flat-bar in shape while I tack welded it together.

After pricing what a new oxy/acetylene torch was going to run, Karen started looking for me on Craigslist. She found a guy in Cresson, TX who was selling one. He also had a 18” Delta Drill press for sale which I also needed. I only had this small 10” drill press at the shop and while it was functional, it just didn’t have enough oomph to do what I needed it to do.

Since Monday I was off for Marlin Luther King Day, we drove out to Cresson to pick up the new tools.

He told me he was near the “old Pate Museum” and I asked why he used “old”. He told me that the family has shut down the museum at the end of 2010. A couple of months back I was thinking about going out to visit the Pate Museum. I remember going to Pate with my family when they used to have the Pate Swap Meet held out there. I must have spent a lot of summers in my childhood going to Pate. It was always my favorite swap meet and it must have been my dad’s because I remember us going numerous times.

We picked up the tools and dropped them off at the shop before heading home.

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Hood Hinges

Today started off cold and wet and after an unsuccessful attempt at buying a cutting torch I couldn’t do much with the frame so I decided to work a bit on the truck.

My neighbor Jaime came over and we replaced the hood hinges and put the hood back on the truck.

The previous owner told me that the hood hinges were for the 53-55 F-100 and by looking at them side-by-side, I would have to agree that they are not the same.

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I purchased these last year along with the door locks and striker plates. These needed fine thread 5/16 nuts which I didn’t have, so off to Arrow Bolt & Supply to pick some up.

While I was there I decided to pick up some nylon (locking) nuts as well. (man I really need to take more pictures for my blog posts)

We mounted the hinges and started to hang the hood when we ran into problems. The hood has captive nuts where the hood bolts connect the hinge to the hood, but over the years I guess they had rusted but someone in the past had cut out the captive nuts.

Taking the hood off again I took some fender washers and welded the 5/15 nuts to them (picture?) and then welded it to the hood (pictures?). After dressing up the welds we were then able to attach the hood.

Here’s where we ended up today.

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Drivability

In addition to working on building a new frame, I also want to get the current “version” of the truck running so I can have some fun with it.

So over the Christmas holidays I worked on the truck trying to get it to pass state inspection. I’ve been carrying tags and insurance on it since I purchased it, might as well finish the last few steps to make it street legal.

On the first day back at the shop my plan was to focus on getting the truck running. When I bought the truck it was running but the owner wanted to keep his carburetor so over the last year I had picked up an Edelbrock 1406. This is a mild carb with an electronic choke. It was easy getting it installed but then I ran into issues with the throttle cable.

I didn’t have the fittings to connect the existing throttle cable with the new carb, so began a search to get all the parts I needed. After several months I had purchased a Lokar Throttle Cable, Lokar Throttle Bracket, Lokar Kick Down Cable for the Turbo 350 transmission and everything mounted, but I was having problems with the throttle petal. It turns out that what I thought was original was in fact the throttle petal from the 1970ish Chevy that the engine/tranny and suspension came out of.

I’ve tried to modify the throttle petal to fit, but I just don’t like the way it mounts and it was affecting the throttle by binding and keeping the throttle return springs from doing their job.

Anyway, while I still have this throttle issue to work out I met one of my shop neighbors. He’s a mechanic and agreed to give me a hand getting the truck to idle correctly. He messed with the mixture screws and the idle adjustment screw as well as timing to get the old 350 running fairly well.

Now I was getting motivated, I had the engine running where it would drop into idle allowing me to put the truck into gear, that’s when I pressed on the brake petal and realized I had no breaks, er brakes.

Jaime, my neighbor, and I talked and we worked out a deal where he’d replace the front brakes. It’s been a while since I worked on drum brakes and while I felt I could have replaced the brakes, I didn’t have the tools and I really needed to make some progress on the frame rail jig.

So while I worked on the frame rail jig, Jaime worked on replacing the front drum brakes. He did this in short order and when it came time to bleed the brakes, we just couldn’t get any fluid out of the bleeders. Trouble-shooting this we realized the flex-lines were bad, so back to the parts store to buy new ones. After arriving we again tried to bleed the brakes – and failed. Trouble-shooting some more we realized the master cylinder was bad. You guessed it, back to the parts store. This time we were finally able to get the front brakes bled and I could now drive the truck in and out of the shop.

The next day since I had a running and driving truck I also had a truck with 3 flats, or slow leaks and the one good tire had sat in the brake fluid from when the brake cylinders went out and I didn’t like the look of that tire. So taking the 4 wheels off, I went to Discount Tires and had 4 new tires mounted and balanced. I’m not going to use the Centerlines on the truck when I’m finished with it, so I just bought some general tires to get me around.

Now things are really starting to come together, until the next day. Went in that morning and noticed that there was water all over the floor. Jaime came over and we went over the engine, we noticed that the coolant was more mud, than water. So we took off the lower hose and flushed the radiator and the engine. Man what a mess. It must have ran for 5 to 10 minutes or so before clear liquid was coming out. So now we were looking at coolant and a lower radiator hose. When flushing the engine we took off the thermostat housing and noticed that it didn’t have a thermostat. Man why are people so cheap. These things are only a few bucks. So off to the parts store to purchase a lower radiator hose, coolant and a thermostat. Also decided to replace the plugs since the previous owner was using a Holley 750 on the old 350 and it was just running too rich and had fouled the plugs.

Once we replaced the lower radiator hose, put in a new thermostat and filled the radiator with coolant, we started the engine and got it up to temperature. This is when it started to squirt out a stream of hot water out of the thermostat housing.

That’s right, back to the parts store for a thermostat housing and while I was there a new radiator cap. One more try. This time everything held and it was looking and sounding much better. Or so I thought.

The next morning, another pool of water greeted me when I went to the shop. Jaime again came over and we traced it down to a leaking water pump. Should have figured with all the mud (rusty water) that came out of the engine when we did a flush.

I talked it over with Jaime and we agreed on a price and he would replace the water pump and while he had it up on his lift he’d look at the rear brakes. I could have replaced the water pump myself but since he had a lift and I was really wanting to get further along with the frame jig, I decided to pay him to replace the water pump. This went without a hitch and the next day I got the truck back with the parts replaced.

Now I’m thinking this is getting close to the point where I can get it inspected. That is until I remembered that the doors were held in place by a screen door eye and hook. No way was this thing going to pass. Good thing that over the last year I’ve owned the truck I was aware of this issue and had purchased new Door Locks and Striker Plates from Mac’s.

Here’s some before shots of what he locks looked like.

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There should be a star shaped gear on that gaping hole. This is what keeps the door closed.

I ended up pulling out the entire side window mechanism. I didn’t need to do this to replace the door locks, but I’m eventually going to replace the windows with single glass and not the glass/vent window combination that is original.

I’m not going to mess with the windows now. I don’t want to get too far ahead working on stuff that I’ll just have to take off when I really start working on the body, that is, once I get the new frame built. For now, I just want to do enough to make the truck safe to drive and street legal.

That about catches me up with the current state of the project. I’ll do a better job of posting more frequent updates to keep these from being so long.

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Frame Rail Jigs

Now that I had the frame rail blanks cut out I needed to start working on the frame rail jig. This is the contraption that will allow me to weld up the two frame rails from it’s parts.

I wanted to use 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch plate, but after pricing a full plate, I didn’t want to spend that much money just on the jig. So off to Westex Metal Recycling to see what I could find.

I found about 16 feet of 3/16 inch plate that was 14 inches wide and of various lengths. This wasn’t that bad in price, though there was a lot of surface rust and they had a slight curve over their lengths. I did all I could to try to flatten out the plate but I couldn’t get it flat enough. That’s when I decided I’d use angle iron to reinforce the plate to straighten it out and give it added rigidity.

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Here I’m laying out a piece that is 14 inch by 48 inch that I’m prepping to weld the first angle iron to. I decided that I would use one angle iron on the bottom that I would line up with the table and clamp to the table rail to keep the jig from moving. The other angle iron I would weld on top of the plate to give it additional rigidity. Here’s a diagram that shows what I’m talking about.

Frame Rail Jig Structure

As I was laying out the angle iron it struck me that I would need to keep the ends of the jig from moving around so I offset the angle iron about 1/2 inch. This gave me a “tab” and on the adjoining piece I would offset the angle iron by 1/2 inch giving me the “slot”.

Here’s a shot (blurry) showing two pieces already welded coming together.

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And another showing the fully assembled jig with the original frame rail laying on it.

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From this I started laying out small tabs of 3 inch by 3 inch angle iron that I had cut. These were to be used to define the shape that the rail blanks would fit within.

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After welding all the tabs to the jig, I removed the original frame leaving the space where I’ll build the new frame rails.

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