More new stuff on the website

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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!)

Ball Joints 2.0

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In my last post, covered the Chrysler style screw in ball joints commonly used on Mustang II front ends. Today I want to talk about the Dakota ball joints and some misconceptions being run around the internet. There are a few generations of Dodge Dakotas now, I concentrate on the first two, being 87-90 and 91-96. Both are pretty much the same, the ball joints are exactly the same.

I have run across a few people trying to conflate the 97 up (3rd Gen) Dakota ball joint issues with the earlier First and Second generation trucks. In the 3rd Generation Dodge made quite a few changes to the Dakota’s front suspension. Almost a complete redesign. About the only thing similar is the lower control arm spacing and bushing size (yes, they will fit our kits) and the upper control  arm rear mounting bolt is in the same location. But that’s it. The rack mounting and angles are very different and the upper control arm became symmetrical for cost cutting reasons. The other major changes are in the spindle and ball joints. They bare no resemblance to the 1st and 2nd gen trucks. The ball joints became significantly smaller and the orientation of the lower ball joint changed from tension (pointing up) to compression (pointing down) making dropped spindles pretty much impossible.

 

Have a look at the line up of ball joints here. From Left to right, the 1997 and up Dakota/Durango ball joint, The K772 Ball joint used in most Mustang II type set ups, The K778 joint used in the 87-96 Dakotas (and many other full size cars and trucks) and then on the Right is the K7025 used on the Dakotas and several other full size cars and trucks. Visual confirmation would show you, this is robust stuff. History can confirm that these larger ball joints were not failure prone. Sure, everything wears out, this is why we recommend using premium quality repair parts when building your car or truck. Not only will you see a longer service life, you will get a better ride quality with parts like the MOOG joints and bushings we suggest.

I suppose shocks would be the next topic, stay tuned!

Putting up Customer Rides

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I have a page dedicated to customers that have used our product. HERE

If you would like me to add you to the list, send me some pictures and a description of your build. Anything from K-member legs, brake kits or full chassis builds are welcome.

LA Roadster Show 2015, We Were There!

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What a show. The heat had to be a factor in the low turn out. That and the guys that go in first roped off over 90% of the spaces, leaving many swappers to turn around and go home. I spoke to two guys that demanded their $70.00 back because there were no available spaces. Even on Saturday a large percentage of the “saved” spaces were still empty with yellow tape and cones and maybe a lawn chair and a small pile of scrap metal to guard the space. I cannot see this happening for much longer before they the LA Roadster guys start having to do assigned spaces or at least check that the guys that paid for one spot only have one spot and so forth.

We set up with Hotrod Ron and had a good selection of stuff. The reception to our new fully bolt together ’32 frame was encouraging. The SBC engine saddle was the hit of the show! Now I’m going to have to put them into the store. Look for those items in the near future, but if you’re impatient you can always give me a call.

IMG_20150619_135942We talked with several satisfied customers and even saw Tim Thompson and his wonderful ’32 3W with the first mail ordered Full-X member installed. Of course Dr Marvelus and I had to take the opportunity for a shot of us all together. 2015-06-19 13.55.22

It’s summer time and we are still at it. More new products are on the way.

Headway on the new generation of kits. 65-66 F100

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Right Frame rail A
After squaring and leveling the donor frame from Bill Wilson, I set a Datum at the original Axle centerline. Then Taking careful measurements I can construct a representation in Alibre’.
1965 F100 Right Side Rail B
Added the rear half of the frame from previous. Also changed the way the bumpout for the core support works. Not technically correct but works with my software.
1965 F100 Right Side Rail C
Locating all the critical holes needed for current and future projects.
65-66 Frame assembly A
Alibre’ 12 isn’t as sophisticated as it could have been. Doing a mirror of the Right frame rail wasn’t as easy as a command. I had to re-generate each sweep, boss, and cut the opposite way to generate the Left side rail.
65-66 Frame assembly B
Tried an approximation of the stock transmission crossmember. I may go back and re-draw it. Added the rear body mount crossmember and gussets as well as the forward crossmember for supporting the rear springs.
1030 6566 Crossmember B
Very similar to the 61-64 kits, this one requires a taller boxing plate and different locating holes. The longer boxing plates should solve the problem of the long and unsupported front frame section once the stock Twin-I-Beam crossmember has been removed.

1030 6566 Crossmember C1030 6566 Crossmember A

1957 Oldsmobile build

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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.

Notice the hood fitment and tire locations.

 

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.

Frame clip installed and ready for the engine and trans.
One of our Winged Early Olds engine mounts in place as well as the new shock mounts.

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.

 

Trunk floor coped and frame sections ready to install 
Frame rail sections installed and the rear axle assembled for mock up of the trailing arm mounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

almost done
Dr Marvelus working on the throttle linkage
Engine and brackets installed

 

Fired up and running, next stop is getting it tuned up! Noice the wheel placement now as well as the slightly lower ride height!

 

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.