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Ant’s 3W build

Rather than recount the whole series of the build here, I want you to follow the link over to the HAMB by clicking THIS HYPERLINK

You will get to see the whole build from beginning to end on how we build a custom fabricated hot rod.



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Power Steering Upgrade

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.




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Arizona Deuce Day 5

Started by my other Dad, Ron Olmstead, this show is turning out to be quite a thing. Now run by George Walker (also former customer) it is held at the Sanderson Ford dealership.

Arizona Deuce Day 5
Sanderson Ford Starliner Diner
5111 West Maryland Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85301

Saturday, October 29 10 AM to 3 PM

And Joel and I will be there with Anthony’s 3W and a few of our rear K-member legs will be on display. Stop on by and enjoy the cars and see Anthony’s car in person before it goes home to Alabama.

phone pix

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Killing the myth of the Grade 5 bolt.

There are so many old wives tales inside of the hot rod world. It particularly makes my blood pressure rise a bit to see a semi-mainstream media publication let one of their editorial writer, who happens to own one of the most recognized hot rod name brands, continue to enumerate and lend legitimacy to those myths.


Most of these are pretty harmless, but to state that a grade five bolt is preferred over a grade 8 bolt when mounting suspension components is really dangerous. This from the September 2011 Goodguys Gazette,. written by Brent Vandervort.


In actual fact, Grade 5 bolts are often preferred over Grade 8 . A Grade 8 has a very high tensile strength, but can be brittle. In applications such as suspensions, a very high number of load/unload cycles can produce work hardening, which produces an immediate, or catastrophic failure. It’s often much safer to use a Grade 5 bolt which will bend, thus providing a warning, rather than a Grade 8 bolt breaking without warning. As long as the Grade 5 bolthas been sized large enough to take the expected load, we don’t want to trade toughness (resistance to stress cycles) for the ultimate tensile strength of the Grade 8 fastener.


While he did leave himself a caveat with the statement of properly sized hardware for the task at hand, this subject has been debated and discussed on numerous message boards. Google for yourself and read the threads if you are interested.

I have read numerous pages of information regarding this subject because logically it never made sense that a “softer and malleable bolt” GR5 would ever be superior “than a hard and brittle bolt” GR8. What in the hell is the purpose of even making bolt with higher gradings than the 5, why would anyone make a brittle bolt?This makes no logical sense.

And furthermore, the issue of toughness. Why would a bolt of a lower grade be “tougher” and therefore more resistant to stress cycles than one of a higher grade that is stronger in tensile strength? Again, this make no logical sense.

Well, when logic fails the observations of these wives tales something is obviously wrong. Using this reasoning, an even lower grade bolt than a 5 might even be preferred because its even more malleable therefore tougher, cough. I can visit websites like SAE and BoltScience and get true and factual, means tested information without the hotrodder spin.


Please, if you are even remotely interested in this, open and bookmark these websites and tables.


The Engineers Handbook

Bolt Science


This thread on Pirate 4X4 is a very enlightening read, posts #9 and the response from Billavista #11 fit the discussion to a T. And here is the summary if you don’t care to click:


Then there’s fatigue strength. Bend a piece of metal back and forth a bunch of times; it may not break right at first, but it will break eventually. For any given metal, there is a fatigue limit, which is lower than the ultimate load. Below the fatigue limit, bend it as many times as you want and it won’t break; above that, it will eventually break. Again, in general, the higher the ultimate strength, the higher the fatigue limit.

Finally there’s impact loading. This is tested by notching a steel bar and hitting it with a hammer (very precisely, of course). This is the one case where a softer steel might do better, as harder materials tend to be more brittle. However, for most of our applications it’s not that important (unless you’re running a snowplow or trying to snatch a stuck Jeep out with a chain instead of an elastic nylon strap), as the suspension tends to damp out and spread loads below the sharp spike necessary for impact failure. Also, even grade 8 bolts aren’t all that brittle; after they’re heat treated to get the ultimate strength up they’re tempered to bring back the impact strength. Impact strength might be an issue if something’s loose, so that it shifts and bangs around before it hits whatever is stopping it (i.e. the loose bolt).

Conclusion: grade 8 bolts are stronger in virtually any application on a Jeep. Whether you need that strength, and want to pay extra for it, is another issue (though I bought some 5/16 grade 8’s yesterday for $0.60 each; grade 5’s were only ten cents cheaper). There may also be situations where you may want the bolt to fail before the expensive part it’s holding breaks, but that’s another issue. ”



As Billavista said, Grade 8 bolts are stronger. The scientific data supports it and real world testing proves it. Brent is wrong and has done damage to the hot rod community for pushing such an ignorant myth.

I have a challenge for proponents of GR5 being better suited for suspension use to find one or more makes of mass produced cars or trucks that use lower graded hardware on suspension components, take a picture and send them to me or post them here or somewhere public where we can see the evidence.


It is far more important to size and properly torque your hardware than any chemical or mechanical thread lockers can overcome.

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New and updated products: 1932 Ford rear K-member legs

There is a renewed interest in the K-member legs and have had several requests to update them and also make them work with the 3W and Sedan dropped floor pans. Well, here you go!

These systems are designed to be bolt in and non-intrusive to the stock frames. NO welding or drilling holes are necessary. They pick up on the existing stock transmission bolts and the rear fender bolt holes in front of the axle.

I got around to updating the existing flat floor legs with the missing front center brace. This works with either style of legs.

Click this text for the flat floor image: 1932 Ford K-member system FLAT FLOOR


1932 Ford Stock floor K-member

Click this text for the stock floor image: 1932 Ford K-member system STOCK FLOOR


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Shawn’s 64 Volvo project

1964 Volvo P44, rust free and fairly clean!

Shawn wants to build one serious little street machine/pro-touring monster out of his high school ride. He’s had this little P44 for decades just waiting for its day of glory. The plans were for a supercharged or turbocharged GM LS series engine and heavy duty overdrive automatic, 18 ” wheels and some wide but low profile rubber. Front suspension was a tough one for us. This car is only 60″ wide inside the fender lips so with some modern wide rubber under it, even with modern positive offset wheels the axle widths are going to be narrow. To try and get some handling, stay within budget and still get the engine and exhaust in place, we made the decision to use later SN95 Mustang front struts and knuckles with a coil over conversion. The rack will most likely be a narrowed Mustang II rack from Flaming river.

We did a bit of brain storming and decided to build a 2X3 Box tube frame for it and try and keep as much floor intact as possible. But with the tire selections for the rear and the needed engine set back the firewall, some of the floor and the rear wheel houses had to go.


Fabricated body mounts

This was the first car to get set up on our brand new fabrication table and the table has worked out very well. Brian fabbed up a set of body stands after cannibalizing our old pull post hardware (that we never used) for the pinch weld clamps and a bit of hard 3/4″ fine thread all-thread rod. Leveled out and secure to the table both Brian and I made some dimensions and planned some routing for the frame rails. Napkin sketches in hand, I headed for the computer and Brian started cutting out the firewall and old transmission tunnel. The engine (6.0L from a Silverado) got cleaned up a bit and mated to the Craigslist find, rebuilt 4L60E trans and propped up in place.

Checking engine location and radiator clearance

Pretty tight fit against the radiator. We ended up pushing the engine back two inches inside the new firewall line so we had enough room for a radiator and some electric fans. There might just be enough for an intercooler too!

Shawn and I discussed the methods of adding power to this 6.0 and turbocharging seems like a natural. Amazing amounts of power and street friendliness that just can’t be matched by roots or screw superchargers. This is after all a car that has to do double duty of hooning and daily driving AND have the occasional road trip across country thrown at it.



First draft Volvo frame draft



While Brian was working on the car, I started rendering the frame and producing a cut list and dimensions. I created rails and tubes to pick up the mounting points for the front bumper brackets and core support. I use the core support as my datum in this case. From there I created planes for the front and rear axle center-lines and the ZX plane is the table surface. This way we can work between the real parts and the computer rendering and have some consistency.

I finally decided on wheels and tires after doing a few hours of research. Since we are using the the Mustang struts it was a natural to use a set of Mustang Bullet wheels. I found several sources for them in 18X9 and 18X10 and they had a 24mm and 22mm positive offsets respectively . I was able to to punch in some numbers and render a facsimile of both wheels as well as some rubber skins for them.

I place the wheels and tires on plane and was able to measure for the rear axle. It’s pretty narrow at 47.5″ wide wheel flange to wheel flange! But now I had data and could start rendering the bit for locating the rear axle, coil overs and linkage. We are going to use a torque arm rear suspension. It’s what I know and it’s reasonably compact and very street friendly. So far guessing my antisquat line, I’m coming up with 139% antisquat and for now that’s good enough. I of course have designed in some extra holes for future adjustment.



Sorry folks, Shawn had to pull the project. Finances for this project dried up.

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Just gimme some traction!

Kevin brought his pro-built ’32 Roadster to us to solve a traction issue.

He had the car built a few years back by another shop here in town. When they set up the car they used common street rod parts but set them up at a ride height they were not intended to be used at. The rear was set up with a triangulated four link and Aldan coil overs. Even with sticky slicks, he couldn’t get decent 60′ times due to the tires dancing and skipping around.

We set the car up on the rack and started measuring things and found he had -65% anti-squat! It’s a wonder he could drag race this car at all. We even tried doing a smokey burn out but could barely leave black marks on the pavement. Notice the exhaust getting pinched between the lower bar and the frame.

We discussed our options and Kevin decided to ditch the under car exhaust for a cone/lakes header arrangement and that freed up the under side for our favorite, the torque arm. I crunched some numbers and determined we needed to shorten the rear links and also raise them about 2″ from their original mounts. With the 39″ long fabricated torque arm and new lower mounts (plus a new panhard) we were able to deliver a 138% positive anti-squat!

Kevin took the car out for a test drive and was very pleased at how much more controlled the car felt. The dancing deuce is no more!

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1963 Corvette fan shroud fab

Chuck’s Speed Center brought us a nifty fab job for this super 70’s built Corvette. First off we really liked this car, a bit rough around the edges and big fender flairs over wide rubber covered “daisies” all hiding a healthy high compression big block backed by a Tremec TKO five speed. There was tons of chrome under the hood but the poor radiator just wasn’t cutting it. The guys over at Chuck’s installed an aftermarket radiator for a ’65 but the fan shroud for the same just didn’t work.

I attempted to make the stock chrome shroud work,  it was too chopped up and didn’t fit that well. I made a few cardboard patterns and a false start but ended up with this nice little bit of aluminum. Fits very well and pulls some serious air through the radiator now.

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Rat Rod Repair

Jessy came to us with his newest acquisition, a 1927 ish Chrysler sedan. It had made the rounds a bit, something about this car going 127 on the salt and being solid build and not a “rat rod” in the description. Well, I suppose you can say anything in this world but I can assure you this car was not capable of exceeding the posted speed limit on our inter city freeways. Jessy complained about the dreaded “DEATH WOBBLE”  that had suddenly reared it’s ugly head.

I took the car for a drive after measuring and giving the car a once-over. Like hitting a rev limiter at 56 MPH the front end started to shake, not a tank slapper but a wheel dance! Both front wheels started hopping in an alternate leap of joy consequently scaring the crap out of the occupants they are suspending. Not good.

We tried a few tricks but the front end was poorly thought out and worn out. The axle we assume is from an early 60’s Chevy van, the brakes were Volvo?  The leaf spring they chose to use was for a trailer and rated far too stiff for automotive comfort. The shocks while normally acceptable were mounted in such a way they could not control the wayward wheels. You can see someone added a panhard rod to try and tame the issue to no avail. It had to die, we killed it. No other choice.

A face only it's mother might accept
Wes giving the old axle the heave ho!

SoCal forged axle, Bilstein chrome mono-tube shorties and some other choice bits were spec-ed. We trimmed back the frame to give it a more streamline appeal instead of the no-buck and low thought styling it currently had. We tried to use a stock Model A axle, undropped with a set of modified 1935-1940 Ford front wish bones. Because of the mounting point locations and the ride height of the car we had to ditch the idea. Just didn’t look right.

So with consultation of the owner we decided to go with the new So Cal forged dropped axle and upgrade to the Lincoln style drum brakes. Just a few hours of labor and the wave of a magic wand POOF! We had success. A 6″ shorter wheel base, now 115 inches long, slightly wider track width, improved brakes and most of all it actually drove nice.