1966 BB El Camino - Chevelle Tech
El Caminos El Camino & Sprint

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post #1 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 9th, 16, 5:32 PM Thread Starter
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Bruce
 
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1966 BB El Camino

In this case, BB stands for the name I started calling it soon after I purchased it in 1983 (Black Beauty). It also indicates this El Camino is a big block. Originally, equipped with a 325HP 396, M20 4-spd, 3.31 Posi, A/C, tilt wheel, black paint, and a black bucket seat interior.

This build thread is long overdue as I have been making some slow progress over the years, but recently have been able to make this EC a priority. It was a joke that this car (and other project cars) would become a retirement project. Well, it happened, I retired earlier this year and have been able to reach a milestone, with a completed rolling chassis. The engine and transmission have been completed and will be installed soon. I will provide updates and some historical photos as I make progress.

I rolled the EC out of the workshop today for a photo opportunity and to turn it around, getting ready for the engine and transmission installation. You will see that this is not a pure restoration, but sort of a resto-mod. It was originally intended to be a straight restoration. I think being a real big block El Camino deserved that, but I wanted to drive it and enjoy some brake and suspension updates. So you will notice that it has 4-wheel disc brakes from a 98 to 02 Camaro with 17 inch aluminum rally style wheels. Less noticeable are the suspension changes. I have installed .9 inch tall upper ball joints with modified stock-appearing upper a-arms, and changed the front sway bar to 1.25 inch, and drop springs. I have stored all of the original parts for future installation, if that ever happens.






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66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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62 Corvette 327/360HP (original RF engine and Fuel Injection) (future restoration project)
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72 Chevelle wagon project

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post #2 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 10th, 16, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

I just finished updating a thread showing how I modified the upper a-arms for the tall ball joints. Here is the link.
https://www.chevelles.com/forums/16-b...ml#post9398041
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My Build Thread:
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post #3 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 16, 1:44 AM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

You're looking good here Bruce. Must be nice seeing it coming together finally.

Tom Terrific or Terrible Tom, depending on the phase of the moon, passing cosmic rays or other factors not fully understood except by my wife.
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post #4 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 16, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

It is great to see it coming together, Tom. And nice to have all the parts in one place. Pretty soon, I will have space in my workshop again. I am hoping to have the drivetrain, fuel system and exhaust system installed by the end of January, and then move the chassis to my house garage, and get back to painting the body. Right now the chassis is being stored under the body.

Here is a little flashback. It was several years ago that I had sandblasted the frame. I sprayed it with black epoxy primer and top-coated it with a blend of Rustoleum gloss black and semi-gloss black.

Yesterday I was working on the brake system. The front and rear disc brakes and brake lines are installed, but I needed to install a new distribution block that would connect to a dual master cylinder. I will be using a 60s Corvette style disc brake cylinder. I bought a very nice retro-fit distribution block and dual cylinder lines from In-Line Tube. I fit very very well with the stock original lines, but I had a clearance issue with the clutch cross shaft. The distribution block is modified with the added separate rear connections to rear side. I needed to move the block forward to get clearance for the clutch. I modified the mount to move the block forward. Here is a photo showing the new block compared to the original 66 block, and another photo showing the modified mount and positioning.



Here is a link to a post I did on installing the rear disc brakes.

https://www.chevelles.com/forums/16-b...6-12-bolt.html

I ignored the front brake installation because there is plenty of info elsewhere. But I will mention that I used the original front drum spindles. The abutments need to be centered over the rotor using 1/4 inch thick adapters. To center and square the abutments I needed to install a washer in the lower mount and the upper location needed to be machined. I don't have a mill, so I used a bench grinder to relieve the adapter bracket, using a micrometer to keep track of the thickness. Here is a photo showing the washer in the lower and area that was machined.
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66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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72 Chevelle wagon project
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post #5 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 16, 3:03 PM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Whoa! That's WAY nice!
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post #6 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 13th, 16, 10:42 AM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

nice

67 El Camino ZZ 383 > FI-Tech F.I. / 700R4 /12 Bolt Posi 3.73s / P/S P/B A/C
" Rancheros the Other Short Bus"
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post #7 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 16, 11:07 PM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Looks great, Bruce. Guys like you are great inspiration for me to start another Elky project.

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post #8 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 15th, 16, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Thanks, guys! I appreciate the positive feedback. I hope that people will find my build to be informative and inspirational.

I am still preparing to install the engine and transmission. I had planned to install them Tuesday while my son was off of work, but found out that one of the engine mounts was incorrect. The box had the wrong part number in it. So that is being replaced by Amazon. I have the parts staged and ready to go.


I am also working on the fuel system getting ready to install a new fuel tank. I will post photos of that soon. I am also planning to do posts on the transmission and engine that were previously completed.

I thought I would talk about the 12 bolt while waiting. My El Camino had a 1967 12 bolt in it when I bought it. The original owner told me that during the first year he owned it that the posi didn't seem to be working, or didn't have a posi. He told me that the dealer swapped the the posi rear end out of a new 67 El Camino. So he said, and the rearend that was there was a 1967 with a 939 casting and a CF code indicating 3.31 posi. The Protect-O-Plate indicated that my El Camino originally came from the factory with a CF coded rearend, which would be a 3.31 ratio with positraction. I found that a previous owner had changed the gears to 3.55.

I wanted a 66 rear end in this truck so I sold the 67 rear housing after stripping it of everything but the bearing retainers. An empty housing can be shipped Fedex, under a 100 lbs.

I found a 66 rear end being advertised here on Team Chevelle. The owner, in Salt Lake City advertised it for $200, must pickup, won't ship. I sent him a message offering an extra $100, plus cost of shipping if he would strip it down and ship it to me Fedex. I soon had my housing. The housing was very nice except for holes that had been drilled in the shock supports to relocate the shocks for that day 2 jacked up look. These holes were easy to re-weld. The housing was actually a few months too early for my car and did not have a CF code, like my original. It had a CW code, 3.31 open, that was the standard rear in a SS396. But I had kept the posi out of the 67 housing and it would fit in this 66 housing. The 1966 housing casting number ended in 745 and had flat spring perches. So this rear end would look fine under my El Camino. This being an early 66 housing, with an August casting date and a September assembly date, it had only one hole in each spring perch. Later 66 housings, have 2 holes in perch. Not sure why the extra hole was added, my guess it that it was for spring alignment purposes.

I sandblasted this housing several years ago and painted it cast iron gray. The factory painted the completed rear ends black, but I like contrast, and was modifying the car anyway. A month or so ago I rebuilt the rear end. I bought a new installation kit, yoke, axles, solid spacer, and an Eaton service kit with steel discs and shims for the posi.

I rebuilt the posi with the Eaton kit, part number ETN-29403-00S from Summit. This kit includes the shims needed for tuning it per the Tom's Differential video. A link can be found on the differential forum. I re-installed the original 200 lb springs, since this will be a street car, but were unnecessary when tuned per the instructions from Tom's video.

I installed a solid spacer in the pinion rather than use a crush sleeve. The solid spacer comes with shims that allow the pinion pre-load to be adjusted and then the pinion needs to be torqued to 125 ft lbs, per the instructions. Others recommend up to 200 lbs of torque with a solid spacer. It takes a few iterations to get the right set-up, but once done you remove and replace the pinion to replace pinion shims or seals, and just re-torque when done. And you don't have to crush a sleeve.

I posted photos of my gear pattern on the differential form. Members were very helpful in interpreting the patters and suggesting changes in pinion shim and backlash. I couldn't have completed this rebuild myself without the help of these TC members. Thank you! Here is a link to those posts and quick photo for those that don't want to check out the post.
https://www.chevelles.com/forums/33-t...ck-please.html




I finished the final installation of the pinion seal, yoke, and final torquing of the yoke. I needed to install the Camaro brake backing plates before installing the axles. Axle endplay needs to be checked, before installed and sealing the rear cover. If you have any reason to remove the axles later, wait to seal the cover. Here are some photos of my completed 12 bolt.




The correct positraction tag says 'positraction" rather than 'limited slip" and uses a filler plug that has a lip to retain the tag. The non-posi filler plug did not have the lip. This CW coded housing would not have a tag and special plug, but I added them to this housing because I added the posi and want the rear to look as if it was original to my El Camino which did have posi and the tag.
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66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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62 Corvette 327/360HP (original RF engine and Fuel Injection) (future restoration project)
66 Corvair My son's project. Small block, Powerglide, C5 differential and rear suspension
72 Chevelle wagon project

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post #9 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 16, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Yesterday was another milestone. My son was available to help me install the engine and transmission in the chassis. The engine was completed 3 years ago and had been wrapped and stored.

The weather was nice yesterday afternoon so we rolled the engine, on the engine stand, out of the workshop and installed the flywheel, disc, and pressureplate, and then lowered it into the frame. The transmission and bell housing assembly were then installed.





Here is some information about the transmission. The transmission in my El Camino was replaced by the 3rd owner during a period of time that he had the EC in Illinois. The transmission was a mongrel made up of various year parts. I came across a 1966 Muncie at a swap meet many years ago. It was being sold by a reputable rebuilder here in the Phoenix area and had been rebuilt. It was pricey but it had the same exact assembly date as the original that came in my El Camino; it had a P1119 assembly date, exactly the same as my P-O-P indicated. It also had the correct side cover and housing extension. The only problem with this transmission was that it was a M21 close ratio, I needed an M20. I couldn't pass it up, so I bought it. The partial VIN on this transmission (6K124765) is 7092 cars before mine. I had 3.55 gears at the time, and figured it would be OK. Later I traded for a set of 3.31 gears and really wanted to make it into a M20. I had a 1969 M20 and was considering swapping the gearsets.

Then I discovered Autogear. Autogear was making new Muncie gearsets, including new versions with different gear ratios. I bought a gearset they called M21W. This gearset used an M20 input with a ratio of 2.521, and new 2nd and 3rd ratios of 1.726 and 1.346, respectively, and with a new matching cluster gear. This had the first gear I wanted and the 2nd and 3rd were spaced like a close ratio so there wasn't a big drop between 3rd and 4th. I bought it from Paul Cangialosi, who called it M20SS. This gearset is no longer being made, but it is very similar to the ratios in the M22W gearset still made by Autogear. I installed this gear set in my transmission with a new install kit and a bunch of other new parts including reverse gears.
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66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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62 Corvette 327/360HP (original RF engine and Fuel Injection) (future restoration project)
66 Corvair My son's project. Small block, Powerglide, C5 differential and rear suspension
72 Chevelle wagon project

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post #10 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 16, 2:20 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Let's talk about the engine. My El Camino had a service replacement block in it when I bought it. It was a 406 block from 1967 and had a cast crank with a 1968 casting date. 1968 was the first year for cast cranks and they were only used in the 325HP engines that year. The original owner had no explaination for the 67 block, and the 2nd owner (a lontime friend of mine) was surprised. He had rebuilt the engine in the early seventies, but remembered putting the original block and crank in the engine. I suspect he had actually exchanged the crank, but the block remained a mystery. The rest of the engine appeared to be original to the EC. The build date for the truck was 12B and the P-O-P shows the engine assembly code as T1207ED. The engine would have been stamped EDH, but the POP doesn't show the H. The heads are both cast L65, intake is K185, waterpump is L65, flywheel is J195. I was given the original distributor and aircleaner. Carburetor was replaced. All of the sheetmetal appeared original and had a salmon tipped dipstick. I believe the engine was all original except for the block.


I sold the 406 block to a N. Carolina Chevelle collector who was going to put it in a 1967 El Camino.

I bought a 3855961 block with a K155 assembly date that was originally installed in a 1966 Caprice. The story from the seller was that his friend was a service manager at a Miami, Florida dealership and that he bought the Caprice new and later swapped a 427 into the Caprice. This block was obtained from the estate of the service manager. The service manager had also owned a 1965 Z-16 and still had the block from that car. It had been replaced with a smallblock and Z16 was later rear ended, and totaled. The friend obtained both blocks from the service managers estate.


Three years ago I started rebuilding this engine. I met Tom Mobley, the moderator on the engine forum at this website who convinced me to get it done. Kudos to Tom for helping me accomplish this dream. Tom showed me how to do it and lead me through all the steps of verifying things like piston to valve clearance and the right way to adjust the valves. Completing this engine has inspired me to complete the car. Thanks, Tom!

The block has been zero decked so that I can use a standard .039 thick head gasket for proper quench. The original 702 heads have some of the smallest combustion chambers and measured about 101CCs. I was looking to have a 9.0 to 1 compression ratio so I could burn pump gas. Piston selection isn't great for 396s so I found L2240 forged pistons that had 0.180 domes that could be cut to about .100 for the proper compression ratio. The machinist that did the block and heads also cut the piston domes.

I discovered during engine mock-up assembly that the piston domes didn't clear the combustion chambers. I had to modify the domes to clear. I used a Dremel to modify the first piston as necessary and then made a paper template and marked each piston top with magic marker. Every piston had to be modified until it wouldn't touch the head, without a headgasket in place.




I used a hydraulic roller camshaft in this engine with Morel lifters and roller rocker arms. I machined the rocker arm locks on the exhaust valves so the original covers would clear everything. I am also using the stock timing cover with a nylon cam button. Big Block timing covers appear to be plenty thick enough.






The camshaft in a 1965 or 1966 Big Block engine had to have a grooved rear journal and the bearing has to have 3 holes, for the oil to get to the rocker arms. Very important. I had my machinist groove the rear journal of my Crower hydraulic roller camshaft.

I also had the machinist mill the carburetor mounting surface on the intake manifold. Big block intake manifold of this vintage have a feature that uses exhaust heat to heat the carburetor. The carburetor requires a stainless steel gasket to protect the carburetor. I chose to plug this feature by drilling and tapping for a couple of oil galley plugs. I will still use the stainless gasket to provide a flat surface for the normal gasket on top and for original appearance. Sorry, I thought I had a photo of this but can't find it. I will get a new photo of this the next time I have the top of the engine exposed.

66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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62 Corvette 327/360HP (original RF engine and Fuel Injection) (future restoration project)
66 Corvair My son's project. Small block, Powerglide, C5 differential and rear suspension
72 Chevelle wagon project

Last edited by AZCamino; Dec 21st, 16 at 3:17 PM.
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post #11 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 16, 1:18 PM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Interesting engine build info. Did you do any porting? What kind of HP and Touque do you expect considering the cam and valve train changes? I have been considering such changes and a little porting of on the heads.


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post #12 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 16, 4:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Hi Jim,
Pretty much a stock build with no porting. More like a 360HP than a 325HP. A little more power at a higher rpm to make it more fun with the manual transmission. Cam is mild; a Crower 01401, 213HR222. It will use a restored 585cfm carburator as original, and be dressed with the original 325HP air cleaner.

I did port the exhaust manifold a little bit. I got rid of the big bumps just inside the openings, used for the A.I.R. plumbing on California cars. I left the outside untouched.

The second owner of the EC had a Crower Monarch cam in the 396. Tom found this cam in the clearance section at Crower and I thought it would be perfect for this build and keep a little of the Crower history.
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66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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66 Corvair My son's project. Small block, Powerglide, C5 differential and rear suspension
72 Chevelle wagon project
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post #13 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 16, 12:55 AM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Bruce,
Attached are my 'Camino pix we talked about in the other thread.
All stock except for the stance, rims/tires and exhaust. EJ code L34 396/350, K19 smog, M21, C60 A/C, PS, PDB, PW, TW, headrest buckets/console, tach and gauges with speed warning.

Great progress on your 'Camino! No car wears black paint better than a '66 Chevelle IMO.

Bill W
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A few '67s and a '66
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post #14 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 16, 1:49 AM
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Great thread and great job, Bruce!!

Looking great, Bill!! I totally agree with the 66 Chevelle black paint comment.

Jealous of your shop!!

1967 SS396 138/Turbo 400/Convertible/Bolero Red/Black bucket int. (My driver)
1969 Z/28 X77D80 Hugger Orange/Black Vinyl Top/Black int/Original born with drivetrain/DZ302, M20, 3.73 posi/3 owner car
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post #15 of 80 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 16, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 BB El Camino

Thanks, for the comments, guys!

That is a beautiful El Camino, Bill. Looking forward to the day mine is completed. It is inspirational to see cars like yours and to see build threads like Len's.

66 El Camino 396/325HP 4-Spd
My Build Thread:
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72 Chevelle wagon project
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