I have been working on getting the framework done for the new features I want for the website and fixing some of the dumb stuff I had as place holders. Still not done, but happy with some of the progress.
What I received in feed back from customers was navigation on the store, difficulty finding product and such. So my solution is to put multiple paths to find what you are looking for. At the top of the page are categories based on what you have. Not completely finished with them at this point. What I intend is a bit of information, history and links in each and everyone of those by make and year model.
I will also be working on updating and adding new product. So far I’m pretty happy with the new Theme Plugin from www.woothemes.com . Those guys have been more than helpful getting me going after my crash.
Soon we will have some project updates too. We currently have three full on turn-key projects. The 53 GMC is painted. Thank you Cam at Fury in Color! Rick’s 40 Plymouth is making progress, and we took possession of Bob’s 1964 Ford pickup. Look for pictures of that one soon, it’s really eye catching (in a good way!)
Here is the final drawings of the kits for the 1965-1966 F100’s. I am in process of making a few stamping dies and cutting new parts.
Bill Wilson is the lucky guy that gets the first official installation. He brought us the donor frame we have been prototyping with. Last Saturday he dropped off his actual truck frame for installation of the new kit.
Kits are $750 and will come with boxing plates, crossmember and spring towers as well as upper control arm mounting hardware and shims. You will need a donor front end from a 1987-1996 Dodge Dakota 2wd with 4 or 6 cylinder springs. The V8 Dakota springs are best for applications where you want to keep the ride height tall or are running an engine in excess of 750 lbs.
Click the SHOP button at the top of the page, you can order one today!
Latest out of the shop is Ray Castor’s 1957 Oldsmobile. Ray brought us this car last year just before we got really deep into the 51 Chevy PU For Metro AA. It initially came in for some front suspension work. As we are to understand this car was purchased from Desert Valley Auto, same guys with the TV Show. It had already been sand blasted, painted and subframed with an early 80’s GM full-size clip. Most likely an Oldsmobile because ray told us it had an Olds 455 in it. He found a 1958 Olds 371 J2 engine and trans, had it rebuilt and installed by yet another shop. The problem came when he went to put his tires on it, they didn’t fit under the fenderwell very well at all. The tires actually stuck outside the fenders by a half inch or so and the front crossmember was less than 2″ off the ground.
So the first thing to determine was what condition the car was in and what we could do to fix the botched front clip installation. On tear down things became very evident that the persons installing the clip made more than a few mistakes besides choosing the wrong clip for the car.
The entire clip besides being mounted very low on the chassis, was off center a bit and the right side spindle was a full inch behind where it should be as well as being a few degrees off, lower on the Left side. You can see just how high the engine was placed in the chassis. So high in fact that the installer trimmed the upper webbing out of the center X member for transmission clearance. The wobbly engine mounts were pretty comical too. It was about at this point we realized just how hard of a hit this car had taken at some point. There was evidence of a fairly severe diagonal in the whole car.
Next move was to get it on the chassis table and square it up, then start the decision making on what to repair this car with. Of all the choices available, one stood out as something new for me to try. The late 70’s to mid 80’s Jaguar XJ sedan. My friend Scott Zekanis did a similar installation on his 1957 Buick sedan a few years back and has had good success with it. I did my research and found that the Oldsmobile is less than 100 pounds heavier than the Jaguar and had very similar weight distribution. Plus the track width was in the range we were looking for. The stock Olds front had to be close to 59″ wide. The rear axle was right on the money at 59″ so it stands to reason at this point in automotive history that the track widths matched, that and a bit of careful tape measuring and internet sleuthing.
A few phone calls and internet searches, I had myself a line on a 1985 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas. Nice enough car and the price was more than good. Time to strip both cars down, Ray made the decision to use both the front and rear suspensions from the Jaguar (good choice!) as the rear axle in this car was also an unknown. It was stock but if the car was wrecked pretty bad, there might be issues with bent axles or what not. Besides, it just made perfect sense to do a fully independent suspension. Brian and Dr Marvelus AirArced the front clip off after locking the car to the table and Brian and I also disassembled the front and rear subframes from the Jag.
Pressure washed clean and time to start figuring out how to make this all work. This was more work that any of us figured. Still not sure if dropping the engine out the bottom was a good choice or not. Regardless, it came apart and the suspension was pretty decent.
Old clip off, Jaguar front mocked into place, I made my measurements and drew up new frame rails in my 3D software. Made the decision to use as much of the stock Jaguar suspension components as possible. This meant also rubber mounting the front and rear suspensions to give the old Olds the best ride quality possible.
One of the things that was going to make this a difficult build was the owners insisting on keeping the Factory AC and heaters in place. If you will notice the large black box where we would normally hang a power booster from, that is the AC Evaporator case. This didn’t cause us problems for the frame and engine placement.
Front end finished to a stopping point, we turned our attention to the rear suspension. It really surprised us how well the whole Jaguar IRS fit while still in it’s cage. I determined that to rubber mount the stock Jaguar rear cage, a section of frame rail would need to be replaced and a bit of the trunk floor coped in for the new bit of frame rail.
The stock Jaguar trailing arms are critical if you intend on rubber mounting the cage like we did here. If you leave them out you will get some serious tire shake or worse. We also installed this rear axle with 3º of pinion up which goes against all the internet experts out there. I am not willing to just follow trends, so actual investigation went into doing this. The three degrees up not only allowed for a better driveline angle for our universal joints, it also gave us a tiny bit of anti-squat! Yeah, traction is cool!
The wrap up was fairly boring stuff, rush to finish meant the camera phone was in my office out of harms way for the most part. We had a custom made radiator done, rebuilt the core support, ran brake lines, installed a hydroboost system with the stock Jaguar master cylinder under the floor, built an exhaust system that snaked it’s way through everything and made engine brackets to hold the air compressor and alternator properly. Didn’t get any final pictures before it left, but if you attend the Goodguys shows, you are likely to run into this car.
The little bit I got to drive the car was pretty darned cool. Very smooth, very controlled. I think once Ray gets the engine and transmission sorted out, he is going to have one hell of a daily driver on his hands. You can say I am a believer in the Jag conversions. Not an easy job compared to other popular choices out there, but for an ambitious home installer or a customer that wants pretty much the best of comfort and good handling this is a solid choice.
It’s official folks, we are back building the Dakota kits. The 61-64 F100 kits are shipping and we are hard at it to bring out the rest of the model years within months.
I have put a ton of hours tweaking the design to make this one of the easiest kits you have ever installed. While it looks similar to the last version of the kit, this one is 100% new. Made from 10 gauge Cold Rolled steel, 3/16 HRPO it uses high quality materials for the structural elements similar in grade to what your original frame is made from where others are using inferior grades of steel and having to make up the loss with thicker plate and tube.
I did a complete redesign of the upper control arm pocket which should make the installation much easier and more adaptable to things like air springs. I am going to be working on a coil over version of this in the coming months that won’t require cutting the frame section away. This means an innovative and cost effective control arm set! In the mean time I heard your desires to ditch the slotted upper control arm adjusters in favor of GM like shims. The hardware and a fistful of shims is included in the kit.
I am still working on the lower control arm bumpstop update, those of you who jumped in early will get the update from a dude in a brown truck in the next week or so!
Still quite a few guys think this kit is expensive, yes it isn’t cheap. Good things are rarely cheap. But stay tuned for updates. As the popularity of the kits increase I will be adding features like the aforementioned tubular control arms, air springs, anti-roll bar kits and such. I am also going to be working on production. Stamping and forming dies will speed up production and I will be passing the savings on to you guys.
Need one now? Click the button, fill out the forms and we will ship one to you right away!
Larry V dropped off this 1956 Thunderbird a while back for us to do a power steering upgrade and install a tilt steering column. Very cool little ride he has here, so nice that Rick Amado spotted it in the back room during our open house and had to shoot it for one of the magazines. Lowered with Jamco springs and shocks front and back. Stock running gear and brakes but someone removed the stock hydraulic assisted power steering ram and installed a smaller diameter steering wheel. The smaller wheel made ingress and egress slightly better, but made steering this machine a bit more difficult than it needed to be.
I drew up a couple of ways to put power steering back on this and Larry made the decision to go with Gearhead Cruiser Products and their 605 Power steering conversion and a Flaming River tilt steering column. The PO’s were placed in mid November, hopefully ahead of the holiday rush and before our open house party. There was confusion on the order with Gearhead, somehow I forgot to add the steering gear to the order but Theresa caught the mistake early enough and corrected the issue. I also spoke with Flaming River on the steering column to make sure we got the correct column. When the column arrived just after Christmas, it was for a stock steering gear application. Very nice part but would not work for the situation and not what I had ordered, got an RTA and returned the column for the correct one.
I received the power steering pump and hose kit from Gearhead shortly after receiving the wrong steering column. Decent enough bracket and nice quality hose and fittings.
The correct steering column showed up the just before the new year and the steering gear showed up on January 4th. All the parts here it took Joel just three days to disassemble the original steering system and install the new stuff. Everything went very straightforward and the instructions from Gearhead were very decent. Joel had to create a notch in the fan blades to clear the snout on the power steering pump and the odd way Gearhead attaches the bracket to the engine required a bit of shimming to get the belt to line up. Outside of that there were no other issues of installation. The results are very noticeable, steering effort is very modern and ingress is much more comfortable with the tilt column.
We did have a small leak on the steering box after we got the system bled. A simple tightening of the adjuster stopnut on the sector shaft cured the issue. The little ‘Bird is good to go!
Thank you to Theresa @ Gearhead Cruiser Products for the very professional service. Our customer is sure to be satisfied with the quality of the new power steering.