Chevy Tri Five Forum banner

1 - 20 of 169 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Well folks, here we go again!

In the early 1970's, I put together a pretty nice 56 BA hardtop, mostly by bolting together the parts and with a lot of detailing. I even had a guy install a Corvette IRS, and I drove it that way for a few years. But eventually I wanted to change it up. I really didn't want to completely tear down the car again, so I bought this car in Riverside, California, way, way back in 1976. (We set up the picture on the day we got home from California, of my "old" 56 with my "new" one still on the trailer.) I had what I thought, at just 22 years of age, a build plan to create a really cool ride; a full on custom with complete Corvette suspension, an electric tilt front end, and it absolutely HAD to have a supercharger. So once I had it home, of course I immediately tore it all apart, right down to the last nut and bolt. I was able to purchase a totally burned out 1970 Corvette (on the ground in front of the body), so I had all the suspension components I would need, and I also scored a one piece seamless frame to hang everything on. I got as far as having a welder friend of mine graft the 'Vette front clip onto the seamless frame, but soon came to the sad realization that without having welding skills myself, nor a job that paid a lot more money, I was in way over my head. So the car sat for a while.

I'd pick at from time to time, and collected parts whenever I could. By the time the 80's rolled around, I was back into it big time. By then, I'd had the body Redi-Stripped (which revealed quite a few demons), and the chassis dialed in by a local builder, who also installed the independent rear suspension. I decided to leave the engine mounts in the stock Corvette location, and I'd notch the firewall as necessary. I mounted an engine block, and set a dummy blower case on it. By the time I'd "notched" the firewall, there was nothing left of it. So I knew I would have to do something differently, and was trying to figure out just what to do, when divorce put the entire project on the back burner. And that's where it sat...again. At least I didn't lose the car.

Some years later, with a new wife (who I've also still kept) and now with a bunch of kids, I was able to get some things done on the car, but family commitments, self employment, and budget were always in the way of making huge progress. I did buy a MIG welder, and learned how to grind off all the mess I made. I solved my blower clearance issues by moving the entire firewall back about 6 inches, which led to moving the dash, seat, and entire floor back an equal amount. I seem to be a glutton for punishment. I also managed to get the tilt nose to function. But to move forward, I needed more fabrication skills than I currently had. That was in 1997, and the last time I did any work on the car.

Fast forward to today. I've picked up a few skills while giving my panel truck a complete makeover, and even more during the frame off build of Niner Nomad's (Arlen's) project Snobad. The kids are all grown. I'm 66 years old. After 44 years, it's time to get this project DONE!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Bill!

One of the biggest surprises after Redi-Stripping the body was an awful lot of rust in the roof area. Also, over the years in storage, someone or something managed to dent the heck out it, almost as if they'd jumped all over it. Honestly, I can't say if this happened 30 years ago or 10. All I know is that after stripping, rust was the only issue. With so much damage, I thought it best to just replace the whole darned thing. Thanks to Cliff Waldron (Cliff's Classic Chevys) who was able to find me a near perfect replacement two years ago. Since then, it's been sitting cross ways on the hardtop. With the car now moved into the shop, it was pretty obvious I should tackle this step first. This isn't something I've ever done before, but it seemed fairly straight forward. Take lots of measurements and brace the body before making any cuts, think about where those cuts should go, mark and cut them as carefully as possible, and devise some sort of method to make lining up the pillars easier. I braced the body with rebar, and made matching cuts on both the donor roof and the car, using a 3" zip wheel. I had to break out my trusty hacksaw to reach the centers of the rear posts, but other than that it was easy. After help from my son to lift off the old roof, I fashioned four simple tabs of 1/8" steel (cut from scraps of square tubing), and plug welded them into the front and rear pillars. Arlen came over to help with installing the new roof, and the tabs worked out just fine. All four corners needed some trimming to get the roof to sit at the perfect height, which I expected. It took a bit more tweaking, clamping and hammering to get the profiles of the posts to line up before they were tacked together, but all in all it went smoother than I anticipated. I've got some more finish welding, and a lot of grinding to do tomorrow, but that's one big step over with!!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
66,712 Posts
good read, cool project and neat pics. thanks for sharing, enjoying this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,968 Posts
O my 🤔, I will be following this one . Most certainly a miracle you still own it , so do it 👍.
Back in the day you had quite the vision for her . And plenty of cheap 🍺
Stretch
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,840 Posts
Since you have to replace the roof, you may as well chop it an inch or two.. :)
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
64,828 Posts
Getting stuck right into the build, lucky you still have it, should be a great build once done
 

·
Registered
Cocke County, TN. 55 Bel Air Sport Coupe
Joined
·
7,748 Posts
Looking good! Do you use a windshield to line things up?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Yes, Stretch, plenty of cheap beer! Back then you couldn't buy Coors beer in Canada, so we stocked up while we were in Cali.

No chop, Gary. I'm gettin' too old to duck my head!

Thanks, Tony! Just lots and lots of measurements from all directions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I went over all the welds today, touched up where necessary and ground them all nice and smooth. I noticed that the spot welds on the driver side sail panel bracket had popped loose, so I fixed those as well. Very little, if any of these areas will show after all the trim is on, but this is the way I like to finish things. Not a fun job for sure, but it's done. I'll likely be moving on to the firewall area and flip front end next.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,631 Posts
Very cool read and a really great project!
I totally understand how life can put obstacles between you and your project.
Can’t wait to see you make progress! (y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
The tilt front end I've envisioned since day one has always remained the same. Electrically operated, all steel construction, using as many factory original parts as possible, with the lower half of the fenders left attached to the body when it's open, and the seams to be virtually invisible when closed.
I started out today with the intention of altering the openings in the inner fenders for the upper control arms. As you can see in the pictures, they sit further back than the stock ones. But.....I wasn't 100% sure of how much of the inner fenders would remain going "up" with the front end, and how much (if any) would be trimmed off and stay fastened to the firewall. That would have to be determined by exactly where the cut lines fell on the fenders.
So I had an extra cup of coffee, pulled on my big boy pants, and after about 2 hours of planning, measuring, and generally making my brain hurt, I started cutting up fenders. I want to leave some working material on each side of the cuts, so I'm chopping up 4 fenders in total. The 2 "best" ones are the ones bolted to the front end assembly, so I began with the loose ones I'm using for the lower rear sections. For accuracy, I used my jig saw instead of the zip wheel. I really don't want to screw up 4 good fenders! After slicing up the first two, I folded the top edge on the driver side. I've got it mocked up for it's first test fit. Tomorrow I'll get side two done, and hopefully begin on the remaining fenders. This is going to require a whole bunch of finessing, but it's already looking promising!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
Super neat project, Dave! There are a couple tri-fives in my area with tilt front ends, a great eye catcher at shows especially when there's a power adder on top of the engine.
 

·
Stainless Trim Restoration
Joined
·
9,588 Posts
It will be interesting to see how you incorporate the ends of the extended dash into the door garnish.......been there once before myself.

Glad to see you have started on it again.

Mikey
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
The jury is still out on those dash ends, Mikey. If you've got a picture of how you dealt with them, I'd love to see it.

I got one fender marked out and cut, and folded the edge with my fancy "hunk of steel clamped to the bench" device. I attached the molding and was happy to see that it protruded from the edge about as much as I had allowed for. To disguise the diagonal cut at the bottom, I had originally planned to use 210 paint dividers, mounted backwards. That way it might look odd to see the extra moldings, but they'd work to cover the gaps, and still be somewhat factory original in appearance. But in reality, they only fit so far forward that the lower portion of the fender would be hanging out by a mile, and I didn't want that. To make the idea work, I cut a section of wheel lip from the leftover fender pieces, and shaped it to look like the 210 trim, but longer. The part in the picture is very, very rough, but it shows me that it'll function. I'll make a pair of nice ones and eventually have them chrome plated.
Before diving into side two, I decided to hang the fender back on for a trial fit. As soon as it was bolted on, I realized I'd have to trim the inner fenderwells in order to close the front end. The cuts have been made, but those raw edges will require some fine tuning. Now that it's closed, I can see that the fender is slightly twisted outward, so I'll have to deal with that. I can also see that setting all the gaps is going to take some serious effort. The folds on both halves of the fenders are just preliminary at this point. I'll be adding re-inforcements and some bracing, and I'm quite sure that alignment pins will be needed at the rear of the fenders. All in good time.
20200922_122907.jpg
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Haven't made a great deal of progress over the last couple of days. The fenders are going to need some extra support where those cuts were made, so I'm having the local sheet metal shop bend me up some hat channels. I'll post pictures when I get them. In the meantime, I got completely stalled when I tried to set up the linear actuators that were supposed to lift and close the front end. I bought them quite some time ago at a swap meet, figuring they'd be a slick way to operate it, but the geometry just won't allow it. I've been trying to calculate if longer or shorter versions will work, but the answer is always the same; the front end will go up to about 45 degrees, and that's it. While 45 degrees looks okay, it puts that pointy end of the fender right in the head smacking zone (for short people, like me) or eye poking zone (for taller ones, like Arlen). I finally figured out the solution this morning. What I need is an electric screw jack mechanism, with a threaded shaft about 16" long, and a threaded collar that can be attached independently at whatever height I desire. I found a picture on the interweb, and it's very similar to the seat adjusting mechanism used in Cessna aircraft. So I called up my buddy, Mike, at Victoria Air Maintenance, and he's pretty certain he has just what I need. I'm heading out to see him this afternoon.

Yesterday, when I was feeling frustrated, I decided to test fit something else. When they first came out, I thought Larson Engineering valve covers, with the Corvette emblems, were the coolest covers on the planet, but way back then, they were too expensive for my limited budget. They weren't manufactured for very long, and are few and far between. Several years ago, I found a pair on eBay, the only pair I've ever seen up for sale, so I grabbed them. They are definitely large, and I had to chop quite a bit away from the firewall for clearance. But the firewall is already going to need a bunch of work, so what's a little more? Besides, these covers look amazing when they're polished!

I also got a call yesterday that my Max Jax 2-post lift had arrived. Thanks (again) to Arlen & his truck, it's now inside the shop, awaiting assembly and installation. After all these years, I'll finally be able to lift the body on and off the frame (without calling over a dozen bodies), and work on the chassis without laying flat on my back. SWEET!!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Struck out at the airport. Although Mike had several motors similar to what I need, none of them had long enough threaded shafts. He was good enough to let me borrow one, which I had hoped I could just show to someone, and they'd say "oh yeah, you need part number such and such". The couple of places I stopped in at were not helpful at all. "It's for doing...what??" Never mind junior, it's probably your nap time. I'm going to need one with a shaft length of about 14" -16", so I began searching the net. What I thought should be easy has turned into a small nightmare, and I finally gave up looking. I'm either going to have to try making the threaded shaft longer, which I know will involve a machinist, or completely re-think how I'm going to get the system to function. VERY frustrating!
For a break, I switched lanes and went virtual shopping for supercharger kits. Turns out that may also require a change of plans. The 6-71 case I've got mocked up and the valve covers are interfering with each other. My first thought was to go with a smaller Weiand 177, but they don't come with a provision for anything other than a single 4 barrel carb. I want to run a quad side draft style induction, so the Weiand is out. B&M used to make a compact case that accepts dual fours, but it would appear that they're out of production. I started looking into what The Blower Shop has to offer, but my eyes told me I had already spent more than enough time staring at the screen.
So I bolted the passenger side fender back on, unbolted the seat and shoved it back as far as I could, removed the dash (only held on by a couple of rivets and Clecos), and pulled out the steering column. If I'm going to get that firewall notched and stitched together decently, I need way more working room.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
How 'bout the scissor jack concept? It, too, involves a threaded shaft and could perhaps still function similar to what you already have in mind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,560 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Thanks schovil69. The scissor jack was something I was considering. In fact I measured a couple of them at the parts store to see which size would work. I'd just discard most of the jack to pirate the workings. I'd still have to adapt a motor to it. There are 12 volt scissor jacks out there, but (so far) I haven't found any locally, and the ones on the web pages don't show overall dimensions. My biggest concern would be the quality of the screw mechanism, and how often I could run the things up and down before they'd start to wear. But the basic principle is exactly what I believe will work. Dave
 
1 - 20 of 169 Posts
Top