My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead. - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 13, 1:43 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Bought this '68 El Camino "Custom" just about a year ago.
Seems the original engine was probably a 327.

It was supposed to have a good rebuilt SBC-400" and TH400 trans.
Heard it run and it sounded good, knew it had rust in all the wheel arches but the floors are excellent.
Paid $1500.00, probably a bit too much but is was supposed to be a driver.
That was sort of true, but the brakes were not very good.

Started to rebuild the brakes, found a cracked lower control arm, ended up with $1500.00 in new suspension and disc brake conversion.
Definitely paid too much.

The 400 was strong at the low end of the RPM range, but gargled and popped through the carb about the time it should have been getting fun.
It would burn a tire into third gear when I first got it, but power seemed to fade rapidly and nothing would cure the higher RPM popping.
It also tended to get a bit hot at idle, oil pressure was dangerously low on a hot day or any day if driven any real distance.
Rebuilt, but then sat, how many years?
Yep, paid too much.

Decided to yank the 400 before it blew up, after an inexpensive rebuild it will go into a customized Willys 4x4 I have.

Bought a used 350" engine for $850.00 from a guy nearby.
According to the pad stamp it is a factory 300 HP 1970 Nova SS engine with 10.25-1 compression using flat-top pistons.
Got it complete from air cleaner to oil pan, including a decent set of headers which do fit the El Camino.
A pretty much period correct engine for this mostly "Old School" build.
Did not pay too much! (So far)

Of course the Nova engine was a leaker, so I replaced a lot of gaskets and also changed the Torker II for a Performer spreadbore.
I intended to use the rebuilt Q-Jet from the 400 engine.

Just before I was to put the engine in I decided to see if it still had it's flat top pistons and looked through a spark plug hole thinking that when it was rebuilt it might have gotten dished pistons.
Nope, I was looking at the side of the pop-ups!
So this thing has to be at least 11-1, turns out to have a pretty serious cam in it too.
No wonder he was running a single plane manifold, and a vacuum can.

After lots of clean-up and paint the "new" engine went in without too much drama.
Some of the header bolts were a bit difficult to tighten, and at least one spark plug is a bit hard to reach.

Out of money so I cobbled together an exhaust using some 40" long glass packs I had laying around.
Finally got it fired up and it sounds pretty nasty!
I'm still trying to dial in the ignition for my 5000' altitude and lead foot driving style.

Had a heck of a time trying to get the Q-Jet to work, it would not tune, take an idle adjustment, or restart after the car warmed up.
Finally gave up and put the Holly Double-Pumper that came with the engine back on.
MUCH better, particularly after I reset the float levels and adjusted the idle jets.
Still some work to do there but it has to wait until I have more jets and such to experiment with.

The bad news has been that the TH400 which seemed to work so well with the 400" engine is crud with this hot 350".
The converter is dragging the engine down before it can get on the cam, it also shifts too soon.
Next week it gets a 2400 stall converter, that should help enough to let me stop manually shifting to avoid stalling at stops.
I'm hoping I will also get my kick-down to operate properly again.
With the new converter I will see if I also need to tweak the governor.

No interest in drag racing, more a get across the state quickly and I control who does the passing type ride.

Cannot be a "Pro-Street" since I refuse to fit giant wheels and an LS engine.
So maybe it's a "Resto-Mod"?
Going for a mid-70's hot rod theme, so kind of a throw back.
Should look like what we used to see in the high school parking lot, with some mostly unseen improvements.

Got a deal on a freight damaged 2" cowl hood at Summit, pretty easy fix.
Think I paid $150.00, good price.

Today I spent $80.00 for enough paint to do the bottom side of the cowl hood, in addition to the $89.00 new hinges cost me.

I also have a good rear clip I bought for the rear skins, and a possible trade to get them put on.
So it should finally start looking decent around fall.

I have the roof just about stripped of three or four layers of old paint, I do not understand why it has so many dents under bondo.

From here on out I will try to post some pics of actual progress, now that some is being made!

There will be a few goodies, SW 200 MPH 5" speedo and matching tach in a Thunder Road dash panel, full gauge set, floor shift, and probably some sort of roll-bar when I get the bucket seats figured out.

It's a rolling restoration, no fat cheque-book, unlimited budget, frame-off here.
It's to remain a driver while being built as much as possible.
BowtieGent and 68SuperSport* like this.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #2 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 13, 12:44 PM
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Joe Vega
 
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Good Job, especially on the budget. Takes some skills to pull it off, can't wait for those photos.
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post #3 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 13, 5:27 PM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: No. Nevada
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Just made a deal to get a slightly used two-post lift, $500.00

This will allow me to do a lot more under the car, the creeper and stands bit has prevented me from doing a lot of things.

Still not taking the body off, but new mounts are likely.

Got the smugglers box lid off, planning a second gas tank there.

Pic of where I am starting from before I get too far along.




The 350 engine, not show quality or an LS, but still fun.


Stripping the roof.


Rear arch, ouch!


Rear of front fender, both sides are about the same.
Hoping to patch them?


And the Speedo I will be putting in, the current 120 MPH runs out of dial before I run out of engine!


I will try to keep the pics and progress updated, there will be pauses between infusions of funds.
66SSFan likes this.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!

Last edited by Richard/SIA; Jun 29th, 13 at 7:01 PM. Reason: Add pics.
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post #4 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 30th, 13, 12:06 AM
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Dion
 
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

I Like your Enthusiasm, Nice clean work under hood. Can't wait to see what you do when you get the Elky on your new lift !
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post #5 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 30th, 13, 2:40 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

I did finish stripping the roof.
Still have to do the rear window surround and bed.
Might have got more done but it was about a hundred here and the paint stripper wanted to boil off instead of working.

Looks like I will have to drive if for a while with the rear window out in order to deal with the parcel shelf.
With the side windows down it will nearly be a "Targa" convertible!

Have to decide on and buy my contrasting blue paint so that the roof and bed can be painted ASAP.
Want that done before I get a new windshield.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #6 of 117 (permalink) Old Jun 30th, 13, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Woo Hoo!
Got the bottom side of the hood painted.

Been several years since I did paint, and this was the first time I used an HVLP type gun.
BOTTOM side of the hood made a good place to practice.

I have mixed feeling about this type of gun, less over-spray but I also had a little more trouble getting a good wet coat to lay down.

This is a VERY fine metallic, if you lay it too heavy it separates and looks like "hammered" type paint.
On the other hand it's also fairly forgiving, let it flash then hit it again from a little further back and it's fine.

Used a catalyzed acrylic enamel with high gloss hardener.
Conditions were not ideal, no paint booth and 98.

I got to remember some old do's and dont's.
DO figure out your spray pattern in advance, DO NOT drag the hose through your fresh paint, DO NOT sweat into your fresh paint, etc.

For under hood I am sure it will be fine, but I suspect I may give in and do a color/clear for the outside since I want to be able to buff it out.
Buffing a metallic finish directly does not work well.

The computer may not render the color exactly, but here it is.

471
427L88 likes this.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #7 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 1st, 13, 1:02 AM
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Vince
 
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

not a bad project,
more work ahead.
what color blue is that, looks like a silver/blue/gray tint?

68-Malibu 427bbc/t4oo/3.73-12bolt/pro charger f1-r
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post #8 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 1st, 13, 1:28 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Supposed to be Silvery Metallic Blue from a 60's Jaguar XKE.

Used to have a couple of XKE's, kick myself in the @ZZ twice every Sunday for letting them go.
It made sense at the time, just like selling my '59 El Camino 348, 3-2's, 4 speed car.
Back when it was only worth $1,500, fresh engine and paint included.

Paint shop says this has some purple in it.
Can label says,

UFN:3872967 CODE 22
5A-3785-00-B 1977-1979 Chevrolet
2nd Dimension 5.0

Without a Jag handy to compare with I cannot say if it's an exact match for the color I was really looking for.
Not a show car, close enough.

The contrasting Cobalt Blue roof and SS hood stripes should set it off well.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #9 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 2nd, 13, 9:34 PM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Got the cowl hood on.
Fits just like the original, I think I have a header panel issue.

Floor jack trick is the one to use for installing the hood springs.




At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #10 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 3rd, 13, 4:29 AM
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Love the look of this, those wheels are awesome. What are the sizes of the wheels, backspace, tires and make?
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post #11 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 3rd, 13, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Got the rear window out.
Some work to do on the parcel tray and lower edge.

Nice to have the window out on these 100 days since the AC is not all there.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #12 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 5th, 13, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Got the 2400 stall TC put in today.

Definitely makes the car behave better.
Ran out of gas three blocks later, I think it's time to replace the faulty sending unit.
"E" is at about 1/4 tank.
Hopefully the trailer hitch will not be a problem for getting the tank out.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #13 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 16th, 13, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
Posts: 430
Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

Turns out, not out of gas.

Secondary float stuck, fuel all over the engine!

Tinkered with it, then took it to a pro today.
He says the jets were way too fat, he's local and will get them much closer.

Maybe with a carb that is jetted reasonably close and has working secondaries the car will finally drive as it should?

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!

Last edited by Richard/SIA; Jul 16th, 13 at 12:43 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #14 of 117 (permalink) Old Jul 20th, 13, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
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Re: My rusty '68 "Custom" rising from the dead.

A step forward and a step back.

Got the rebuilt and re-jetted carb put on and was tuning it when I suddenly saw smoke coming off the headers.

Seems I got one of the engines where Chevy decided to save 2 per engine by not tapping the external oil galley for the plug above the oil filter.
So of course it is now leaking.

Hard to fix with the engine in the car.
I created a tool to pop out the old plug, it is somewhat accessible from inside once the oil filter adapter is removed.
I will tap it for 1/4 pipe and a brass screw-in plug.
I live in Nevada, losing this plug on a drive and being stranded could be deadly.
Heck, it could be dangerous anywhere, oil on the exhaust is a good way to start a fire.

What I got to hear of the rebuilt and re-jetted (Down ten jet sizes!) carb sounded very good, much more responsive and I am sure I will feel the secondaries come on now.
Another carb problem was that Holley had not drilled a fuel passage in the secondary metering block.
No passage, no secondary squirt!
Carb guy tried to drill it, the bit broke, $50.00 for a new metering block so that I could keep my four corner idle.
And my float was not stuck, it sunk when it filled up with fuel!
Maybe due to the fermented corn sugar in our gas?
Also got the carb identified for size, 700 CFM.

Disappointed that the car still dies going into gear from a 1000 rpm idle.
I have some funds coming in next week, time for a floor shift with lock-out until I can put in a real trans instead of this TH400 slush-box.

It's about killing me that I still cannot drive this car!

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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post #15 of 117 (permalink) Old Aug 11th, 13, 2:35 AM Thread Starter
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Richard
 
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Location: No. Nevada
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A little more progress.

Never determined for certain where the oil leak is coming from.
Seems to be above the filter, but this synthetic oil is such a very light blue it is almost clear and it is very hard to track a leak back to the source.

Found a used $130.00 (shipped) Performer RPM to replace the Performer and adapter I have on the engine now.
Good time for it since I'm resealing the manifold anyway.
Dirtier than I had hoped but the bead blaster made it look almost new.
On Edelbrocks advice I used VHT clear on it, the finish turned just a shade more grey than the bare metal but I am assured it will not turn yellow.

Also fitting some load spreader bars to the valve covers.
Hoping this cures the leak and also gets me a little better performance, this engine and cam want to rev it up!

Also got a start on dealing with the rubbing sound from the front when I back up. Never hear it going forward.
Cannot see a source for it, but I gave in and spent $200.00 for some 15"x7" rims for the front, and matching 15"x8.5" for the rear.
Genuine vintage American Racing "Kidney-Bean" wheels, same style as what I have now.
Hoping a 1" increase in diameter will not be too noticeable.

Put a lot of effort into cleaning them up and polishing, still not show quality but that's fine as this is a driver.
I did do one little detail item for the rims.
After cleaning them up I masked off the polished area's and painted the rough cast portion the same color as my main body will be.
This eliminated the old stains showing up and sealed the rough casting so that they should be easier to clean in the future.
I remember guys doing this back "In the day" even if most just used black paint.
Pics once I get some tires on them.
Also trying to make some adapters to put on the NOS three ear spinners I found.
Yah, I know, spinners are not the current style, that IS the point, this is a retro-ride!

I may also turn some spacers on the lathe to make these wheels "Hub-Centric" before I put them on.

Still need to pay for a floor shifter and find some bucket seats.

I did start on removing the replacement skins from the spare bed I bought.
Trying to cram as much as possible into what is left of our too short summer.

At these gas prices I want it 100+ octane, leaded, and my windshield washed!
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