Steve's Oze Rod Shop '37 Ford Roadster Build PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve DiFranco   

I've recently taken delivery of a life long dream project.  An Oze Rod Shop '37 Ford Roadster kit car has been delivered to me for assembly (you will find their web site link in our Web Links menu).  I've watched these kits for a few years now, and finally my dream has become a reality...sort of.  Actually, you will be watching my dream become a reality.

Oze '37 Ford Roadster

Some of you will be able to "throw in your 2 cents worth" into the build as I go along as well.  All of you backyard mechanics can cheer me on or throw electronic tomatoes at me by sending an email to the "contact us" section of this website.  For those of you who are building an Oze kit and using this article as a guide, read back through every once and awhile as I will update previously written areas to improve the content and the clarity....and fix mistakes.

Before going to the "Read More" section, this article is copyright protected with all rights reserved by  It cannot be reproduced in any way, in part or full, without written permission from or Steven DiFranco.  By clicking on the "Read More" button, you are aware of the copyright protection of this article.


Delivery day is here!

A very professional gentleman driving a big semi truck delivered my new project car.  Four straps held the car securely in the back of the big rig.  As you can see, the tires are just junkyard stuff to allow the unfinished car roll around.  The car made it safely from the factory in Canada, over 15 hours away (now they come from Cincinnati Ohio).

It's tough to see from this picture, the doors, trunk, hood, and other parts were silver duct tape sealed for extra protection during shipping.  The gas tank (polished stainless steel) was carefully packed in a cardboard box in the trunk.  Front and rear window glass, brake pedal interior parts, and more were carefully packed inside the car.  The electric windows are installed in both doors and completely wired for you.  Fiberglass inside door skins are also included in this kit.

The semi-driver was very talented, backing into this dock the first time!  You will need either a tilt-bed tow truck or a semi truck capable loading dock at your delivery location.  I was lucky enough to have a friend with a loading dock.  As the driver backed up, the semi trailer just barely "kissed" the rubber bumpers on the loading dock.  Pushing the car out of the trailer was very easy.  Kicking the front tires for steering was the only "issue".  This was needed because the steering rack is shipped separately from the dealer.  There is no steering wheel or steering column included in the kit.

Before sending the truck driver away, take the time to inspect your new hot rod.  It is best to inform the driver of any damage or missing parts.  My car arrived in perfect condition.  The driver will take pictures of the car to verify that it arrived and in good shape. You will also sign a document that your car did indeed arrive in tip top shape.

A special thanks to Tim and Tammy Taylor of Taylor's Custom Street Rods in Cincinnati Ohio for helping with this project.  Charley at Taylor's has been a big help as well.  I couldn't have done this project without their help and guidance.  I should also disclose that Oze Rod Shop doesn't have anything to do with this review/assembly page.  As a matter of fact, at the beginning of this project, Oze didn't even know I was working on it.  I'm sure someone will tell them at one point.

Finally, the car is "home".  Well sort of.  Another friend, John Gelsimino, has allowed me to store the body in his warehouse until I finish the chassis.  Fenders, running boards, hood, and trunk lid will all be removed before lifting the body off of the frame.  See further down this article for the pictures of these parts being removed and the body lifted off and put on a roll around dolly that can be used to move the body around during the painting process.

It's hard to see in these pictures, but the gel coat quality is superb.  I didn't see any pin holes in the mirror smooth finish.  This is the third unfinished kit from OZE that I've seen and all of them have had the same great gelcoat/fiberglass bodies.  I've made a few fiberglass molds and parts, and one of the reasons that sold me on this kit was the way they designed and manufactured the parts, thick fiberglass, not a lot of excess resin, and angled and/or rolled edges on the fenders and running boards make for a very strong part.  The picture shows an inside view of a rear fender to prove my point.

This car has a huge interior.  There is a full length console that I ordered with the kit.  The suicide doors may take some getting used to due to the long step over the wide running boards.  Remember to plan suicide door safety locks into your building budget, they will be a must for any car with suicide doors.

Even the long legged folks will fit nicely into this spacious ride.  The footbox is wide enough for normal shoes, but no larger.  You can see by the picture below, that there is a lot of steel inside this car.  Even the hinges for the doors, hood, and trunk are super heavy duty.  This picture doesn't show the rear interior liner that fits just behind the seats.

Sexy lines, even with junkyard trash tires.  The removable hard top is integrated into the body design beautifully.  From a distance, it's hard to tell that this is really a roadster.  Two small screws in the front of the top along with two levers by the side rear of the top release it for easy removal.  The kit comes with a hard top inner liner, making the finishing of the inside of the hard top a breeze.

This build will take some time.  I suspect 2 years or so for completion.  Most of the delay will be financial in nature.  I promised the "war department" that this dream wouldn't destroy the family finances.  Unless you are extremely financially well off, I suggest you do the same.  Keep checking back here for more updates and pictures.

Ok, the warm and fuzzy "I got a new toy" feeling is over, it's time to go to work on this project.  Are you ready?  Let's go....

Unpacking the car

Upon getting the car, you will find that it is stuffed with the parts and pieces needed to work on the build.  Depending on what you ordered with your specific kit, there will be more or less stuff inside the car.  Compare what you specifically ordered with what you received before going on.  For those of you who haven't ordered a car, but are considering ordering, spend the extra money to have the car delivered to you as you see it in the pictures - partially assembled.  If you take it apart and take notes and pictures, putting it back together will be very easy.  If you order your car pre-assembled, and you don't take notes, put fasteners in labeled bags, and take pictures, you've wasted your money.

You open the suicide doors by pulling on the wire that is sticking out of the inside of the door.  This wire will be your "door handle" for quite some time. Inside the car will be your glass package, console, brake parts, air bags, brake pedal, and some smaller bits that are stuffed into the side of the interior.  Take a moment and label these boxes with a Sharpie, as it may be some time before you get to them.  There is a "kick" plate that goes under the dash along with a covering panel for behind the seats (seats not included).  These need to be removed from the interior as well.

Once the interior parts and pieces are removed and marked, you need to get into the trunk to remove the box that contains the gas tank. To do this, you need a friend to stand at the rear of the car while you get into the car, face to the rear, and put both your arms into the holes on each side of the plywood bulkhead.  As you push up on the trunk lid, your lovely assistant can grab the lip on the trunk to raise it.  While you're searching for a wrench to remove the trunk lid, use a 2x2 to hold the trunk lid open.  This trunk opening method saves you from scratching the crap out of the trunk lid by trying to "pry" it open. Please be careful, as with all the parts of this car, the trunk lid is quite substantial (heavy).

To remove the dashboard you will need a square drive bit to undo the four screws holding it in place.  There are two screws on top of the dash and two screws that are under the dash that fasten into the steel cross bar shown in the picture.  I didn't say hex or allen style bit, I said a square bit.  I may change the style of these screws upon mocking up the interior later.

Before starting to remove body parts, find a couple of friends to help you.  My friends, John Gelsimino and Jim Westfall were kind enough to lend a hand on "body disassembly" day.  Thanks guys.

If you have a lift in your garage, the removal of the fenders and running boards will be easier than crawling around on the ground.  I chose the tried and true method of crawling around on the ground on top of a big piece of cardboard.  Even without a lift, removing the fenders an running boards were pretty straight forward and easy to do.  Remember that fiberglass particles can make you quite itchy.  I would suggest a long sleeve shirt and gloves.  I'm typing this the morning after I removed the parts and my forearms are still a little itchy.

We started by removing the rear fenders.  The bolts are simple to find and easy to get at.  Oze supplied grade 5 bolts to hold the fenders onto the car; this gives you an idea of Oze's commitment to quality.  One quick tip, upon removing the rear fenders, leave the top fender bolt until last, as t will help you hold the fender up until you are ready to pull it off the car.  We removed both rear fenders before moving on.  I put the bolts and washers into plastic bags purchased in bulk from the local "buying club" type store, stapled or zipped them shut, and marked them as to their contents with a magic marker (Sharpie).

The running boards are the next to be removed.  Please be careful removing the running boards, as they are supported partially by the rear fender which is not on the car anymore.  I left the rear running board bolt in place until all the other bolts were removed.  Again, this is to help support the running boards so they don't fall or get damaged in the removal process.  When you remove the running boards, you will be surprised by some big washers falling to the ground as you undo the bolts that hold the running boards to the frame. These washers were in between the running boards and the frame as spacers or shims.  In some cases there were one or two of the big spacer (fender style) washers between the running board and the frame.  You will have to fit these appropriately when you re-assemble the car.  Don't forget these washers when you re-install the running boards during final assembly!  If you pull the running board tight to the frame in re-assembly, you could crack the fiberglass!

I put these spacers into a labeled bag along with a note on what to do with them.  All of the "bolt bags" will be put into a "bolt box" that will be labeled as such.  Steve at Oze Rod Shop tells me that since these cars are all hand made, the shims between the body and the frame are used to ensure better fit between the body and the doors, windshield frame, trunk, and roof.  He also told me that more washers are usually used in the rear to help make the doors match up to the windshield post. 
A little extra time during final assembly will be needed for sure.

The front fender has the hardest bolts to get at.  A little patience is needed to get to the farthest front bolt, but it does remove without too much fuss.  As with the rear fenders, we left the center bolt in the front fenders to help hold it in place until we were ready to lift the fender away from the car. Removing the hood will make access to the front fender bolts easier.  Be careful of the stainless steel grill as you are bending over to get to the fender bolts.

The one thing that the guys and I said after the the fenders and running boards was "It's a bunch smaller!".  Without it's fenders the car looks dramatically smaller. As a matter of fact, the car takes on a whole different look.  While the car got dramatically smaller, the parts we took off got dramatically bigger sitting on the shop floor!  As a matter of fact, I had to make four trips from the shop to home with the parts loaded into my minivan.  I'm hoping that the shelves in the barn haven't "shrunk" when I start putting the parts on them for storage.

Look how small the car looks now!  The stainless steel grill is also done extremely well.  No sharp burs on the edges, everything is very tidy and done to a great level of detail.

In the close-up picture of the front suspension you will see a fabricated steel "stand-off" that supports the car before the airbags are installed.  This will be discarded once airbags are in place and working.  This front suspension is made extremely well.  Heavy duty, beautiful welds, and properly engineered Mustang II style.

The next part of this project will be to remove the front "clip", unbolt the body, the making of a rolling body dolly, and finally the body removal for storage. Stay tuned.

For those of you who are following along with your own build, take the time to set all of your fiberglass parts out into a nice hot sun for a day to help finish the curing process.

Pre-body removal work

Before the body gets separated from the chassis, you will have to figure out where to put the body.  The body is big and bulky, and it needs work to be done on it.  Storage and "move around" ability are two of your concerns.  Tim at Taylor's in Cincinnati (check our Web Link tab for their website) uses some neat welded steel dollies that they use for bodywork prep and painting.  Most of you may not have welding equipment or the extra cash to make an all steel body dolly.

I decided to build a wood body dolly once I read a great article on doing so in the April 2008 issue of Street Rodder Magazine.  It was in the "Tech" section and written by Wayne Scraba.  I read the article and realized that I had most of the supplies to build this dolly already.  The only thing that I had to buy was some extra hardware and wheels.

I'm not ashamed to say that other than dimensions, I virtually copied Wayne's great design.  Made from scrap 2x4's and 4x4's along with some 3/4 inch scrap plywood makes for a VERY strong, and very economical (ok, I really mean "cheap") cart.  The plastic bag hanging from the cart reminds me that I need two more nuts and some extra screws from the hardware store.

I adjusted the overall size of my wood dolly to be sure it fit the Oze body and it would also fit on my ATV trailer.  My final size is 70 inches long by 44 inches wide.  The height is 12 inches.  This dimension will work for me.  You may have to adjust the final dimension to fit your space, body type, or trailer size if needed.   Shimming and bolt down points will be made when the body is actually placed down onto the dolly.

Since this photograph was taken, I've installed a single 3 inch drywall style screw into each joint to act as an extra measure of security.  Probably overkill, but it makes me feel better.

This all wood body dolly is easily able to be disassembled for storage and transportation (ie loan to your "too cheap to build on themselves" car buddies), and is really worth the few hours and very few dollars to build.

The picture showing the wheel assembly show a 5 inch swiveling wheel that supports 500 lbs..  All four wheels swivel.  Tim at Taylor's tells me that the body alone for the roadster weighs a total of about 600 lbs. (hardtop weights 800 lbs.).  That means the wheels I chose will support 2000 lbs. total.  That is plenty of safety factor.  I thought the foot operated brake on each wheel was a good idea.  You can see the carriage bolts and some of the wood screws holding the 3/4 inch plywood in place.  More screws on these pieces of plywood will be added once I get back from the hardware store.  Yes you can see my motorcycle in the background.  I told you I was a car and motorcycle guy.

Another close-up picture shows the inside corner detail of the all wood body dolly.  For those of you who are "perfectionists", remember that the floor you will roll this dolly around on is not perfectly level, so your dolly only has to be close.  Being close to square is good enough for this econo-body dolly.

Time to pull the body off of the frame

Start the final preparation by removing the grill and the one piece nose section.  Be very careful with both of those pieces, the grill is expensive and the one piece nose can be fragile.  The two "L" shaped tubular steel supports are the next to go, as they are fastened to the main body sides

At this point the removal of all of the body to frame bolts can be easily done.  Please note in the picture, the two arrows point to the absolute farthest rear two body to frame bolts.  These are longer than all the other body mount bolts.

Proper location of the lifting straps is key.  I didn't want them to contact the fiberglass body in any way.  This was in preparation for the re-installation of the body while painted.  Verify that your strap of choice will withstand the weight being lifted.  The roadster body alone is supposed to weigh 600 pounds.  After putting the body on and off during the mock-up process, four reasonable able men can lift the body with little problem.  We guessed that the body stripped down weights closer to 300 to 400 pounds.  Four or five strong friends can lift the body without a problem.

Please note that the rear decklid hinges are stainless steel.  These will polish up real pretty with a little effort.

I used the hook on a heavy duty motorcycle tie down to hook onto the steel structure behind the already removed dashboard.  Once all four straps were securely attached to the car, we centered the Heli lift truck (you can use another brand of lift truck if you so desire) over the centerline of the car and attached all four straps to a hook on the forks.  All the slack was taken up by lifting up on the forks.

I can't stress enough how dangerous this can be, both financially and physically.  Please triple check the hook positions, bolt removal, and clutter around the area.  Also, keep your hands and feet from below the body.  George and John are giving our plan a once over before the lift.  As the lift was taking place there was a lot of communication between all of us to make sure everything was going as planned.  Save the beer for after this whole operation is complete.  We learned later that a forklift was "overkill" for sure, but it was an easy way to save a back injury.

The body was gently and very slowly lowered down onto the dolly.  Just before set down, we noticed that we needed the 2x6 across the back of the dolly to support the back of the car.  Even without bolting the body down it was very secure and stable on the dolly.  Before moving it around, the 2x6 will be screwed down and the body will be bolted down both front and rear.  It will be bolted down in places as to allow bodywork and paint while still on the dolly.

Rolling the body around on the dolly affirmed the design and utility of this cheap and easy to build body cart.  With the body removed, you can see the locations of some of the body spacer washers that are placed between the frame and the body.  You may find single or double washers.  Take pictures and notes of their quantities and locations.

Body on Trailer

As you can see, the body dolly rolls onto a small ATV trailer.  Because of the extra height of the dolly, clearing the side rails was not a problem.  Make sure the suicide doors are securely closed and hooked together during transportation on the trailer.  I left the cross board longer to act as a step, just in case I need to get into the car while it's on the trailer.

The frame is finally at my home workshop.  With the help of another buddy, Mark Adams and his son Johnny, we trailered the bare frame to my garage at home.  After unloading from the trailer, but before putting the chassis in the garage, I used an air hose and broom to clean all of the itchy fiberglass dust form the chassis.  Eye and lung protection is mandatory for this.

As you can see, everything is bare metal.  Transporting the car in an open trailer on a rainy day or storing it outside in this condition would make a rusty mess to work with.  At this point, you have the body off the frame and you should have the following ordered or in hand:  Engine, gearbox, rear center section, brakes, and brake lines.  This will allow you to start work asap.

Mock up starts

The mock-up stage means that the car will be assembled without any surface coatings like paint, powder coating, and plating.  Then it will be completely disassembled and all the appropriate surface coatings will be applied. The car will be final assembled with the piece of mind that everything should fit together properly.  If you don’t have the patience to assemble and re-assemble a hot rod, find another hobby, or pay someone to build the car for you.

Make sure your powder coater will plug any threaded holes to prevent you from having to re-tap these holes. Plugging any non-threaded bolt holes will be a time saver later as well.  You may have to run a tap into any threaded holes to be sure no powder coating has boggered up the threads.

The first item to go into the chassis is the fuel tank. As you can see from the picture, it is polished stainless steel.  I went to my local Tractor Supply store and purchased some junk bulk washers, bolts, and standard non-nyloc nuts to use in mock-up.  The size I used for the tank install was 3/8”.  The bolts to hold the tank in place were just snugged.  I noticed that there was some dirt inside my tank, this will have to be cleaned out completely before final assembly.  Take note that the rear lip of the tank goes on top of the rear frame rail and the front lip of the fuel tank goes in front of the bracket.

The picture of the tank top shows what the holes and spuds are for.  The big hole in the tank to the right is an inspection hole, a plate cover, gasket, an screws are included in the kit.  The small hole is for the sender, which is a standard unit, sometimes supplied with your fuel gauge.  The next hole to the left is for the fuel pickup line.  Note the angle on the bottom of the pickup.  You will have to trim this to fit the depth of the tank.  The hole all the way to the left is for the tank vent and the brass nipple/assembly also holds a device that won't allow fuel to come out of the vent in case of a vehicle rollover.  This stainless steel tank will not need any type of liquid sealer that is used in the custom motorcycle industry.  Tim at Taylor's tells me that these tanks are pressure tested and they don't leak.

To temporarily install the rear air bags, I went to my local Napa store and bought an adapter along with an air valve to allow me to fill up the bags along with checking them for leaks.  Teflon tape was used to seal the threads during mock-up. These adapters and valves were used in both the front and rear air bags. The picture shows the adapters in a front air bag.

Raising the car up by the center of the Ford 9 inch rear end allowed me to remove the steel stand-offs used in place of the air bags during delivery.  I used some extra junk washers to space the air bag bolts as I didn’t want to use the supplied lock washers at this point.  The bottom bolt in the rear air bags was spaced with a couple of washers as well.  I used just a little bit of air in the bag to extend it slightly to allow easier installation.  Bolts were just snugged.  The picture shows the orientation of the filler nipple in the hole of the chassis.

This nipple and adapter will be replaced with the parts from the air ride system when I’m ready for it.  A quick note about tire gauges, they are more accurate in the ranges that they were designed for.  An ATV gauge that is designed to use 5-15 lbs as it’s range will be more accurate at that pressure range than a normal tire gauge that is designed for automotive use at approximately 25 to 35 lbs.  I put about 10 lbs of air in the rear bags after installation, to check for any leaks.  They held air perfectly, and it was kind of fun to see the chassis move up and down with the air pressure.

As with the rear, the front of the chassis was raised from the center, the stand-offs were removed, and the bags installed.  Cheap, bulk washers along with the same junky nuts were used to make mock-up easier.  10 lbs of air was put in the front bags, just like the rears.  No leaks, just like the rears.  On my car, the bolt holes in the suspension arm were a tight fit on the front upper air bag holes.  When I disassemble these parts for powder coating, I will ream these holes slightly to allow for the thickness of the powder coating (or paint if you are going to paint your frame parts).

The steering rack was next.  My particular rack is a power unit from Napa (part number: 22-203F), which is for a Mustang II.  Please note that these power steering racks for Mustang II's need about 900 psi of pressure from the power steering pump you choose.  Make sure that your particular pump puts out the correct amount of pressure, or your power steering will feel "jittery".  Billet Specialties power steering pumps/kits can be ordered with an optional "low volume" pump, which should work perfect.  You can also use one of the fine aftermarket brand new steering racks as well, your choice.

The bolts for the rack were in the box that held the air bags.  I purchased some junk non-nyloc nuts for mock-up.  Remove the steel bar that ties the two spindles together and bolt the steering rack in place as per the picture.  The rubber "T" shaped inserts go into the rack with the flanged part of the rubber insert going into the rack from the back.  The bolt that holds the rack in place goes in from the front of the car with the washer and nut being captured inside the "U" shaped bracket.  When you tighten this assembly down, it scrunches the rubber insert to capture the rack, while allowing some sort of vibration isolation.  Bolt the ends of the rack to each spindle with supplied rod ends.  Don't worry about wheel alignment now, this is just mock up.

I'm not looking forward to the next step for two reasons.  Reason number one is that it will be very yucky and messy, reason number two is that the center section of the rear end is one heavy mother.  Oh well, let's move on.  Jack up the car and put a sturdy jack stand under each side of the rear end.  I tried to put them as wide apart as I could for extra stability.  I also put a chock in front and behind the front wheels for an extra margin of safety.

Remove the wheels and what you will see is the axle being captured by a plate and four bolts.  These plates are to be removed if you are using a Wilwood rear brake kit.  This will be covered on final assembly, so not to worry now.  An open end wrench will easily remove the four nyloc nuts retaining the axle assembly.  These axles were supposed to be 28 spline which will be fine for a cruiser.  If you are going to build a fire breathing monster, 31 splines might be the better choice.  My car accidently came with 31 splines.  I found this out after I tried to assemble my 28 spline center section.  Now I have to give the center section back to the builder and have him change it over to 31 spline at my expense.  Do yourself a favor and check your splines by counting them to verify the number before you order your center section.  Learn from my "assumption" (read as mistake).

After removing the four nyloc nuts, it is an easy pull of the axle to remove it from the housing.  These axles are side specific, so don't mix them up after removal.  With both axles out, the rear end housing has to be cleaned out on the inside before installing the pristine new center section.  While I'm talking about the rear end gears, I went with a 3:70 rear end with limited slip which was built by Harry Hammond in Cleveland Ohio.  You can contact him at: (440) 237-4299.  His quality of work is excellent, and his prices are very good as well.  I got the luxury of watching Harry change my rear end from the 28 to the 31 spline to match my axles.  It was very cool watching him set the contact point of the gears.  He noted to me that checking the acceleration and deceleration contact points is critical.  My contact points were both dead center of the gears.

Harry did also emphasize to me not to scuff up or damage the "O" ring on the OD of the axle bearing.  He says that this is easy to do and will cause leaks.  Another thing that can cause leaks in your rear axles is to not put in the axle seals that are suppled with the kit.  You will see this seal install on final assembly.  You've been warned.

Clean the inside of the rear end with a solvent of your choice, keeping in mind proper ventilation and risk of fire.  You can wrap a solvent soaked lint free rag round the end of a broom stick or piece of metal to reach all the way into the center.

Once the rear end housing is cleaned out (the yucky part) it is time for the heavy part, installing the center section of the rear end.  This part is directional, so take note.  Since we are still in mock up, the center section will go in place without the gasket and with only a few nuts to hold it in place.

As with the rear end housing, clean the axles, including the splines.  A light coating of grease on the splines will be needed to install them properly into the center section.  Tighten the four nuts of the retaining plate to retain the axle.  Do this for both axles.  For now, re-install the rear tires and set the car down on the ground.

When I ordered my Oze ‘37 Ford roadster kit, I specified that I would be putting a small block Chevy motor in it. The motor mounts welded to the chassis by the factory were specifically done for this motor choice.  To attach the motor to the welded in mounts you need to buy rubber isolated mounts.  Some motor mounts are urethane instead of rubber.  It will be your choice as to which to choose.  You could also use solid mounts if you’re an idiot or masochist.  If you are using a blown motor (which I am not), you will probably need solid mounts.  Check with your particular motor builder for proper guidance on motor mount selection.  While we’re at it, we also need to address the transmission mount as well.

The motor mounts can be ordered for a 1966 through 1967 Chevy Nova with a small block Chevy.  Napa, Federated, or Autozone should be able to fix you up.  I ordered one set of motor mounts that were made in India from my local Napa store, part number: 602-1054. These looked crappy in the box, they felt crappy in my hands, and they would look crappy on my nice hot rod.  These Indian made motor mounts look as bad as computer tech support from India is.  You will find a neat solution to this problem if you read on.

The transmission mount is the next issue to be dealt with.  My transmission is a Tremec TKO-600, model number TCET4618.  This is a 5 speed with an 18% overdrive.  I purchased this from the nice folks at Keisler, who supplied the hydraulic clutch, bellhousing and assorted accessories.  One important note about the rear bottom mounts of the Tremec, one set of holes is M10-1.5 size and one set is 1/2"-13.  For the transmission mount listed below you will use the inner holes that take the M10-1.5 size bolt.  My mock-up bolt was 40 mm long, but I think the final length will be about 35 mm.

For the transmission mount, Tim at Taylor’s Performance (see our web link) suggests a Federated part number: 2378. This is a 700R Chevy transmission mount.  I was told that a 4L60E mount could be used, but I didn’t verify this.  Jeff at Keisler says you can also use a transmission mount that is for a 67-81 Camaro that had a Muncie 4 speed or a Borg Warner Super T10 gearbox.  I didn’t verify this info. The bolt pattern of this Federated 2378 mount fits the bottom of my Tremec transmission perfectly, and it also fits the two slotted holes in the frame perfect as well.  Tim suggests that there may be some hole slotting of the chassis transmission mounting plate needed upon final installation. Have a good file or die grinder ready on installation day.

As with the motor mounts I mentioned above, this transmission mount is one of those made in India “high quality” units.  I did notice on the box of this transmission mount it says: Made in China Wait a minute, the box says made in China and the part inside says made in India?  Nice.  I’m sorry, but my hot rod kit was expensive, and it will cost even more to finish it, I’m not going to skimp on important parts like the motor or transmission mounts. Keep reading.

Frustrated with the made in India tranny and engine mount quality I found, I started to check in the Summit Racing catalog and I tripped over a motor mount and transmission mount kit by Energy Suspension. Their part number for the motor mount and transmission mount kit is: 3.1120R. This kit was Summit part number: ENS-3-1120R.  My kit came what looked like cad plated, but for those of you who are building a show car, you can get chrome plating at an additional cost.  The picture shows the transmission mount with the two silver colored bolts that are M10-1.5, the gold colored bolts were supplied with the mount kit.  This is a huge difference in quality over the made in India junk. This quality American made mounting kit was also not that much more expensive than the garbage mounts. I also purchased a motor mount bolt kit, part number: ARP-430-3102, and the Chevy mount to frame bolt kit, part number: ARP-130-3105.  As with the motor mount kit, ARP bolts are first rate.

At this point of the build, you have to start thinking ahead; way ahead.  What type of wiring harness will you use, and how many circuits will it have?  What type of air/heat/defrost system will you use, and where will you route the hoses and wiring?  You need to start thinking ahead to try to eliminate "issues" later on in the build.  I've found that a few trips to car shows and rod runs to see how others solved some of the same issues that we all will encounter.  I've taken dozens of pictures of dozens of cars and stared and stared at them for a long time trying to learn all the different ways to solve problems.

Motor install day

Installing the "heart" of the car is a big deal.  It is the first "big" piece to be mocked up. I was a little excited to say the least.  Please ignore the butt-ugly orange color of the motor, it will be repainted before it goes in the motor for the final time.  No sense scratching up a good paint job during mock-up.

Before installing the motor, you must decide how to lift it.  It's too heavy for you to manually do it, so a motor hoist or "cherry picker" is in need.  I was lucky to have a friend (thanks Bill) give me one that just needed a little jack oil and that was it.  Please note that if you do buy or borrow a hoist, you may get into some difficulty with the height of it's legs fitting under the car.  I had to fill up the air bags and use my floor jack to jockey the chassis up and down.  Yes, I could of put the whole car up on jack stands while installing the motor, I just didn't feel safe doing that. A lower profile engine hoist would of saved some time, but in the end it was no big deal.

Another piece of equipment that turned out to be a lifesaver was an "engine leveler" (Jegs part number 555-80048).  This little beauty will help lift the motor AND the transmission as a unit and level to the ground.  Think through the lift carefully before you do anything!  This is a very dangerous procedure, think and take your time.  Beer drinking should be left for AFTER the lift is complete.

My motor was on a set of roll around legs.  The first step was to bolt the bellhousing to the gearbox.  For those of you who are familiar with Tremec gearboxes, you know that there is a time consuming alignment process that is MANDATORY before you actually drive the car.  For mock-up, I've skipped this step.  I will perform the alignment procedure while I'm waiting for the frame to come back from powder coating.

Once the bellhousing and  gearbox are mated, lift them onto a low floor jack (with your legs, not your back).  Jack up the gearbox/bellhousing combo until it is the same height as the motor.  Carefully align the two, and jiggle them together.  Bolt the engine and the bellhousing together.

It's time for you to take a moment to think through the "lift" process.  I decided to use the "Engine Leveler" I mentioned earlier.  I also decided to use four pick-up points on the heads instead of two.  I also decided to space the chain off the head with some oversize nuts and washers.  Analyze where the chains are going to go so they don't damage your distributor cap, wires or valve covers.  Again, think, think, think.  Once I had this figured out, I installed the engine leveler and hooked up the hoist.  I had the motor mounts, and wrenches ready.  I guessed as to how far back I had to crank the engine leveler, it was about 3/4 of the way towards the gearbox.  As I gently and carefully lifted the motor/gearbox I made sure my chain wasn't tangled or fouling anything on the motor. At this point, I cranked on the engine leveler to make sure that my engine/gearbox assembly lifted level as a unit.  Once it was in the air and level, I carefully unbolted my roll around mounts and put on the motor mounts.  Leave the bolts about half loose at this point, it will help you later.  I also took the long bolts that fastened the motor mount to the chassis and put it on the frame ready for quick use.  Make sure that the bolts in the transmission mount have been removed as well.  Keep your feet and hands from under the motor/gearbox at all times during the lift process, always think safety.

Once the motor is safely "lifted", start to carefully roll your lift towards the chassis, analyzing your "angle of attack" so to speak.  My big hoist just barely fit under the car allowing the motor to just barely get into position.  I slowly lowered the motor down, bit by bit, making sure everything was going ok.  I had to take care that I didn't rip the fuel pump off towards the end of the install, it was that close.  The loose motor mounts will help you get things lined up quite easy.  Once the long bolts are holding the motor in place, wiggle the motor/gearbox to install the transmission bolts loosely.  Tighten up the six motor mount bolts and then tighten the transmission mount bolts.  For mock-up, I'm not going to put nuts on the long mount bolts, as there is going to be some fitting and fussing to get exhaust parts to fit.  For this stage of mock-up, I used the junky motor mounts.  I will check the fit of the good ones when I lift the motor out.

After the motor was installed, I took a break to inspect my work.  Very cool.  Now it's time to start to fit the other bits.

Headers are next.  These are Patriot Tight-tuck headers.  I didn't put any coating on them yet, because I just knew that they would have to be "massaged" for something.  I was right.  A little torch heating and gentle hammering was needed to allow clearance for easy spark plug removal.  Not a big deal.  On the driver's side I had to remove the plug wire loom that was installed to fit the headers.  Also note in the picture how tight things are on the driver's side near the engine block.  I used a small cone shaped stone on an air powered die grinder to slightly radius the corner edge of the engine block.  It didn't take much to give the extra clearance needed for proper clearance.

On the passenger side it is quite evident that a mini-starter will be needed in place of a full size starter.  A Powermaster mini-torque starter will do the trick.  The passenger side exhaust will also need the same "massaging" to allow for the bolts to connect the header to the downpipe.  Again, not a problem, just another issue to be dealt with.  Normal hot rod stuff.

As you can see by the photo with the exhaust pipe running next to the oil filter, quarters are a bit close.  Make sure your oil filter wrench fits on the filter before deciding on the final exhaust pipe set-up.

Richard Yanus at Done-Right Engines came up with this little strap idea to secure the left rear spark plug wire and keep it away from the headers.

A mini starter will be necessary for this car.  I chose a Powermaster, because I was told that it was good quality for a fair price.  It fit greaat during mock-up, except for the right hand side exhaust.  As you can see by the picture, I will have to "massage" the pipes that Tim at Taylor's Performance made for me.  This will entail heating up the offending section and tapping with a metalworking hammer.  I also took the corner of the starter's bracket and removed some aluminum to give me more clearance.

If your starter fit is too tight, you can go to a Hitachi mini starter.  This would solve lots of space problems.  I'll keep you posted as to my final choice.

The stainless steel muffler tabs are 1/8" inch thick with a gusset of equal thickness on the back side.  A mild steel tab is tig welded down from the chassis tube.  Stainless Works rubber insulators allow the exhaust system to move a little without transferring vibration to the chassis.

Brackets in Place

This picture shows the location of the brackets in place.  Since I'm using a Tremec five speed manual transmission, I have no need for the brake pedal and master cylinder/booster bracket that came on my frame.  I will be using a Kugel clutch and brake pedal with master cylinder/booster assembly that will be mounted inside the car.  In retrospect, I should have had Oze omit these two brackets, it would have saved me two hours of time.

Brackets Removed

These are the two brackets removed.  The frame and tube that they were connected to were ground off with an electric grinder, then metal finished smooth with a file and sander.  It's like the brackets were never there.  A grinder with a cut-off wheel is very dangerous, please wear gloves and a face shield to protect yourself from the shower of sparks that you will generate.

Here's a little tip that will be cheap and make an hot rod build go easier.  Go to your local hardware store, or auto parts store and purchase some brass NPT brass plugs in the following sizes: 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch.  With these cheap little plugs you can check the sizes of fuel pump holes, carb holes, and fuel tank inlet holes.  I keep these brass NPT plugs in little plastic bags that are labeled with the appropriate size.  You could even scratch the sizes in the top of each plug.  This tip will make ordering of lines and fittings neither a question or a problem.

Bodywork Starts

I wrote earlier in this article that you should start planning ahead to order some parts and pieces to help make the build move along smoothly.  I didn't know how truthful that statement really was.  In some cases, receiving parts can take weeks and sometimes months.  These are weeks and months that painfully delay the build.  If you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter, and some of your work is done outside, this can be a problem.

At this point, you should have decided on the type and size of seats that you want in your car.  Pontiac Fiero seats make for a nice seat choice.  Originally, I had chosen two seats from a newer (M2) Mazda Miata.  The newer Miata seats are slightly more comfy than the older M1 style Miata seats.  I found my new seats on ebay for $270., which is very reasonable.  They recline and came with the sliders installed.  I would have to mock up some floor brackets for proper seat height.  Not to worry about the color of the seats as they are going to be recovered in material that will match the interior.  I can recoup some of my seat money by reselling the old covers (leather) back on ebay.  Since choosing the Miata seats, I've changed my mind and went with 2006 Chevy Z06 Corvette seats.  These mount flat, fit perfect and feel much more snuggly on my bottom.  Most of all, they look cool as hell.  You'll see them in final assembly.  Either the Miata or the Corvette seats will work fine.  Tim Taylor (the kit manufacturer) likes to use Pontiac Fiero seats.  The design of my interior calls for taller seats with integrated headrests, so the Miata and/or Corvette seats will be a better choice for me.  When choosing your seats, the width of the bottom of the seat is critical, as this car is quite cozy inside.

What can help eliminate the frustration of waiting for parts is to start the bodywork.  This is a messy, time consuming task, that can be done in the driveway if you desire.  As with any other task in hot rod building, safety is first.  Eye protection, breathing protection, and gloves will be mandatory.  I understand that there may be some of you who will disagree with my methods.  The methods I will use were taught to me by a Pro PPG supply shop and a former PPG instructor, so things should turn out ok.  If your methods are different, please use them instead.

The fist task is to wash each body panel using either Dawn dishwashing liquid in a bucket of water, or a good quality car wash soap that has no wax in it.  I used Dawn.  Rinse each panel inside and out with water.  Since it was 85 degrees the day I was doing this work, drying the body panels was done without a rag.

After washing and drying the body panels, mold release and waxes need to be removed from each panel.  You will use one lint free rag wet and one lint free rag dry for each panel.  I used PPG DX 103 Multi-Prep.  You can't omit this step.  The instructions state to use DX103 before and after sanding.  You want to make sure that your wax and grease remover is fiberglass compatible.

I used an air powered DA sander with an 80 grit pad to scuff the surface of each panel inside and out.  The inside of the panels will need to be scuffed up as well to allow undercoating to stick.

Extra care is needed to reduce the mold seams with the DA, as it is quite powerful.  I got the seams close with the DA, and then did the final smoothing with a block sander with 80 grit paper as well.  For this sanding step, I didn't use the highest grade sanding disks.  Note the hand, breathing, and eye protection.  I know that I should have my arms and legs covered, but it was 85 degrees and very sunny.  Even after a cold shower, I'll itch for a few days!

Seam Sanding

This is a great picture showing the difference between untouched mold seams and partially done ones.  You don't need to "dig out" the seams to fill them properly.  Jeff at Taylor's says just to sand them flat with the 80 grit, then with a wide spreader, fill any areas that are low or in need of attention.


In the picture below, note the difference between a prepped fender and one that I'm just starting on.

Fender Comparison

You must be very careful around detail areas, corners, and sharp edges with the DA sander.  I took the chicken's way out and used the same 80 grit paper on a hard foam (Durablock) sander and another piece of 80 grit stuck to a piece of mouse pad to finesse these difficult areas.  Sweaty, hair legs in shorts combined with fiberglass dust makes for a good time.


A special thanks to my wonderful wife Linda for taking these pictures of me.  I couldn't have done any of this build without her help and support.

Once all the panels a sanded inside and out with 80 grit, wash them down with DX103 one more time.  Remember to use one "wet" rag and one "dry" rag per panel even after sanding.

Before the primer will go on, Evercoat Quantum Premium Finishing Putty will be used to fill any pinholes and minor problem areas around the mold seams.  This stuff sands super easy and offers two catalysts, one for high temp (over 80 degrees F) and one for low temp (below 80 degrees F).

The mock up portion of this build will jump around a bit for many reasons; time, money, and weather.  I will re-organize everything in a logical order at the end of the build.  For now, you will read the  build as it happens.

I had the opportunity to get a bunch of family and friends over to help lift the body onto the frame to fit the steering column and to find out where to weld in lap belt tabs.  Without the doors, and trunk lid, the body weighed about 300 pounds.  Four strong people could lift the body very easily.  Removing the doors, and using the hinges as "handles" made the lift easier.  Watch our for your hands and fingers as you set the body down onto the frame.

I used a Bosch Roto-Zip to open up the hole, but a drill or sander will work fine as well (Mike Sprinzl picture).  As you can see in the picture, we slid the body back and supported it as we did the trial and error method to finalize the hole position.

Routing gearshift hole

The first thing I did was to measure as close as possible for a hole to clear the gear shift.  As you can see by the final hole, a little elongation was in order to allow the body to fit down on the frame.  I will make a slightly closer fitting cover for the gearshift opening once I know for sure what I'm doing to finish off the interior.  Not a worry for now.  Please use breathing protection while working with fiberglass.

gear shift hole

Body on Frame

Placing the body back down onto the frame answered lots of questions (Mike Sprinzl picture above).  It also showed one issue that will have to be dealt with.  As you can see by the next picture, the distributor is VERY close (read as touching) the firewall.  After looking at the motor mounts and the tranny mount, I will be able to get about 1/8" clearance just by gently moving the motor forward by spacing the motor mount to the front and using the slotted holes in the transmission mount to my advantage.  Problem solved.  Or, as you will see in final assembly, I've installed a MSD distributor with a small coil that I'll hide somewhere.  You'll see that the extra clearance is for sure worth the extra effort.

tight fit

Rainy or cold weather is the perfect time to do some work that can be done either in the basement or a heated garage.  I chose to do the headlight bucket install in my basement workshop.  I used the following tools: shop vac, Dremel (corded), Permagrit sanding drum, jig saw, Sharpie marker, masking tape (low tack preferred), eye protection, and of course a mask to keep from inhaling the fiberglass dust.

The headlight assembly is from Juliano's and the polished stainless rims are from Yogi's.

The first step is to note that the gasket is directional to the headlight bucket.  It is evident after looking at the top of the gasket.  As per Juliano's, even though the headlight buckets are directional, you can install them in either side of the car.  There is enough adjustability to make this a non issue.  Cut these holes before you apply any sound deadner inside the fender.  Commercially applied sound deadner like Linex is a pain in the butt to sand off!

I used low tack masking tape to carefully fasten the gasket to the front fender.  If you don't have low tack masking tape, you can "dull" regular masking tape by sticking it to your jeans a few times.  The lint on your jeans will dull the tape slightly.

With the cork gasket removed, you can see where the opening needs to be cut out.  DO NOT DRILL THE HOLES YET!  I promise you will move these holes once you trim the hole to it's proper opening size.

My first headlight opening was rough cut with a jig saw.  Fiberglass will wear out jig saw blades real fast.  This opening took two used blades to cut out.  My second headlight opening was cut with an air powered hack saw.  This was a MUCH better method.  A Perma Grit brand sanding drum was used on a corded Dremel to open the hole to the line.  Wear eye and breathing protection.

It will take LOTS of trial and error to fit the headlight bucket flush to the fender.  You will have to align the point at the bottom of the bucket with the point in the fender.  At this time, place the stainless steel ring on the bucket and do a final alignment on the bucket.  More fussing and trimming will be needed to align the point at the bottom and the crease in the top of the stainless frame with the crease in the fender.

Once you are sure of the proper alignment of the bucket and stainless rim, mark and drill the holes to mount the bucket.  I will probably not use the cork gasket between the bucket and the fender.  Silicone will do the sealing and allow the bucket and stainless frame to sit more flush.

If you drill a hole to mount the bucket and realize that you don't have enough fiberglass to bolt to, you can make a scrap metal plate for the back of the fender to "sandwich" the fender between the plate and the bucket.  This clamping plate along with silicone adhesive will make this headlight bucket very difficult to remove.

Here is one of the rear fenders with the hole cut for the tail light.

At the time the Linex was sprayed inside the rear fenders I wasn't exactly sure what type of tail light I was going to use.  This meant sanding off the Linex.  Not fun, even with a 40 grit sanding disk on an air grinder.  You will use a few of these disks!

I made a fiberglass "bucket" by covering this tail light from a Victory Vegas motorcycle with lots of shiny packing tape to protect it.  This fiberglass "bucket" will be trimmed to fit, then bonded to the back side of the fender (that's why I had to grind off the Linex).

Here's the Victory Vegas light setting in the fender.  A little more work will make this fit just fine.

Steering install

You will need to choose a steering column from one of the suppliers listed in the magazines for you steering column, universal joints, etc..  Mine is from Flaming River.  Whichever column you choose, it really should be a tilt style to help with getting in and out of the car.  These columns come in different finishes and styles.  I chose the key to be on the column, a GM style.  This allows me one less item to put on the dashboard.  You will need the steering column, a universal joint to come off of the steering rack, a universal joint to come off the bottom of the steering column, a universal joint to be somewhere in the middle, a spherical support bearing, a column drop, a pivoting floor cover, and the "D" rod to connect the whole mess together.  You will also need to go to your local hardware store and acquire two pieces of 48" long wooden dowel rod (mine was 3/4") to use as mock up shaft.

I found some second generation Mazda Miata seats on ebay and modified the mounts to sort of sit flat (checked with a level from under the seat).  I mocked up the seat risers with plywood to get me at an approximate height of about 9 inches from the floor to the front of the seat.  This is an arbitrary height.  I was lucky enough to know the dimension of a my buddy Don Duncan's '34 Ford seat height.  Since Don and I are about the same height, this would be a good starting point.

A mock up steering wheel needs to be made from a piece of PCV pipe and wood.  I checked the inside dimension of my column drop an purchased a piece of PCV pipe that would allow a close fit inside the column drop.  I cut a circular piece of masonite that was about 15 inches in diameter, which I screwed to a block of wood I jammed inside the end of the PVC pipe.  All the wood pieces were secured with drywall screws.

As you can see in the photo, I secured the column drop to the cross bar with some C clamps.  I found the approximate center of the seating position.  After I took this picture, I marked the position of the column drop with a Sharpie for future reference.

After finding the basic position of the steering column, trace around the end of the PVC pipe on the firewall with a Sharpie.  Then put a "dot" in the center of the traced circle.  Drill a small hole at the dot, 1/8" or so.  This will allow you to have a look at where the column will come out of the firewall allowing you to tweek the hole position now, before you cut a big hole in the firewall.  Once you're happy with the location, open up the hole so your PVC steering column will go through the firewall.  Again, check the approximate position of the end of the steering column.  This position will be close to the head and/or the headers.  Remember, your universal joints can't be mounted with an angle of more than 30 degrees.

Speaking of the universal joints, before going any farther, take the dowel rod you purchased and sand "flats" all the way down each dowel rod.  This will save you from cutting flats on the ends of each "experimental" piece as you go.  I ran my dowel rods through a sander to get the flats.  I'm sure you know a woodworking buddy who has a sander or planer to help you with this.  The dowel rods need to be a contact fit inside the universal joints, not too much slop.  Trust me, you will go through both pieces of the dowel rod, experimenting with all the different ways to route the steering shaft.  It's better to waste a few dollars of wood before cutting the expensive stainless steel "D" rod that will be your final steering shaft.

To make things simpler, I cut a gauge out of scrap plywood that showed me my maximum deflection of 30 degrees.  I strongly recommend doing this, it will make your life very easy during this procedure.

As you can see in the picture, I still have a few degrees of "fudge" left.  You can also see that I marked my final mock up steering shafts with a Sharpie.

To drill the hole in the motor mount for the spherical support bearing, I had to remove the headers.

A very close, but not too close a fit with the headers installed.  Do you see a problem?  To change the rear spark plug, I will have to either remove part of the steering column or try to change the plug with an open end wrench from the bottom.  Welcome to hot rodding.  A small price to pay for a properly routed and installed steering column.

I had to notch out the motor mount to get the steering shaft angle that I wanted.  A hole in the motor mount plate would of been smarter than the notch.  I will have to weld in a support in to close off the notched hole or remake that plate.  I'll make that decision once the frame is dismantled in preparation for powder coat.  I will make a template before I remove the mock up wood steering shaft.  This will be mandatory.  I probably would have welded in a support even if I drilled a hole in the plate.  It's tough to see in this photo, but I had to machine the jam nut on the spherical bearing almost in half to get the proper height.  I will shorten the threaded portion of the spherical bearing at final assembly time.

With the steering column in place, I can finally start to see how the interior is going to come together.  My next step will be to position the pedal cluster, gas pedal, dashboard, and the valance behind the seat, to see how the whole "package" is going to fit together.  Initial observations tell me that with the footbox being VERY small, I will have to make careful choices on my clutch and brake pedal position, including allowances for carpeting and sound deadening material (yes it's that close).

Pedal Cluster and HVAC Install

Have you heard the phrase, "10 pounds of s@#t in a 5 pound can"?  This is exactly what you are trying to do when you set out to install a HVAC unit and a Kugel hydraulic clutch, and power brake booster set-up under the dash of an Oze car.  Steering install was important to do before anything else.  Keep in mind that you will be adding insulation (such as Dynamat) and carpeting around your pedals, so lots of forethought and planning will be needed here.  As a matter of fact, I probably remade and redesigned brackets three or four times until I found a design that I liked.

I kept moving the Kugel pedal assembly to the left until I could fit the Vintage Air HVAC unit without it contacting anything.  I had to weld a .250" thick bracket to the metal upright on the left side to bolt the Kugel bracket to.  The clutch master cylinder clears the side of the car by less than .250".  It is very close.  I also had to round the front of the pedal cluster bracket to clear the back of the dashboard.  I had A to Y Machine round the bracket by the brake booster for me.  I also used some angle steel to strengthen the right side of the pedal cluster mount.

Points to take strong note of are to place the pedal bracket as far forward as possible to allow the brake booster to clear the back of the dashboard, and to make shure the heim joints on the pedals don't foul your mounting bracket.  You will also have to re-bend or re-weld the pedals about 2.5" to the right.  You will do a lot of "tack weld" joints and trial fit of the pedal cluster bracket, brake booster, HVAC unit and the dashboard, until everything fits.

While the three HVAC brackets look complicated, they weren't.  As you can see in the picture, I made a few marks on the inside of the firewall to layout my proposed brackets.  The long bracket in the back offers the least support, and needs to be flexible to allow fitment of the mounting bolt into the back of the hvac unit.  The side vertical steel brackets that come with the Oze car kit are easy to remove, which allows welding to be done much easier.  The short front bracket I welded to the crossbar is strong enough to keep the HVAC unit from wiggling around.  The back two brackets are slightly angled towards the firewall for more dashboard clearance.  Neither of the back two brackets or their mounting bolts touch the firewall.  Remember that the back two brackets will have to clear sound deadening material.

As you can see, somehow it all fits.  I slotted the bolt holes for the HVAC unit to allow a little "fudge" in the mounting, that's why you see it a little crooked.  I'll level it out when I mount it for keeps later.  The HVAC unit in the picture is a Vintage Air Mini Gen II w/defrost.  I haven't figured out the routing of all the hoses yet.  That should be fun.

I chose a diamond shaped bulkhead plate for the heater and air conditioning hoses because I liked the way it looked, and it's compact in size.  Carefull planning is needed to make sure that you can fit the hoses to the bulkhead plate AND that you can get the hoses from the bulkhead plate past the hot exhaust inside the engine compartment.
As you can see in the picture, I was lucky that I could make all the hoses fit.  You can see a variety of hose types in this picture.  The thin air conditioner hoses are Aeroquip EZ lock style fittings and hoses.  These hoses are SO flexible that they can easily bend around a pop can.  I needed that due to the fact that I had to fit all this stuff in the right hand kick panel.  The only hose I had to have crimped by my local shop was a 7" long air conditioner hose.  The Aeroquip EZ lock style uses a special pair of pliers to lock the fitting on to the hose.  This is a very slick system.  All the hose fittings will have their internal O-rings installed after final installation.  The heater hoses will have their clamps installed at final assembly as well.  This tiny corner of the car had about 20 hours in thinking, trying parts, and re-fitting parts to get all this stuff to fit.  What you can't see in the picture is the support piece for the dryer that I welded to the body steel upright.  Upon final installation, I'll use two metal clamps to hold the dryer to this vertical support.

As with everything else, this bulkhead just barely fit, allowing me an easy run past the headers.

I had to move both the pedal arms 2 1/2 inches to the right, keeping the approximate center to center spacing.  This was too much to bend with heat, so I had a local fabrication shop help me with this task.  They charged me $75.00, and it was well worth it.  I will clean up the welds even though they won't be seen under the dashboard.

As you can see by this picture, I have plenty of clearance to the steering column.  The pedals will be hand made and offset to the right of the pedal arms to keep an even look.  You'll see the pedals during final assembly.

Since the master cylinders for the brake and clutch system will need to be filled/maintained, the dashboard will have to be removeable.  The two screws holding the dashboard located on the top of the dash will not allow the dashboard to be removed once the windshield is installed.  This wil cause a problem servicing the master cylinders.  Not to worry, I have a neat fix for that, you'll see.

These are the parts I used for the throttle pedal assembly, bracket and return springs.

I had to shorten the 24" stock cable sheath with a cutoff wheel on a Dremel tool to fit.  The cable was shortened with some heavy cutters.  You will have to locate the throttle pedal assembly inside the cockpit before doing this step.

This picture shows the need to place the console into the cockpit for final placement of the throttle pedal assembly.  I won't be using the stock throttle pedal due to the tight confines of the footbox.  You can also see in this picture that I bonded a 1/2" thick piece of plywood as a backer to the steering column dress up end that is inside the engine compartment.  I used a bonding material that is used to adhere a fiberglass bathtub to plywood.   Home Depot had this stuff in their caulking aisle. 

Even though all three pedals miraculously fit in this footbox, I decided to make the stock console thinner to allow just a touch more space.  Remember that there will be covering or carpeting that will take up some room as well.  A little extra room might not be a bad idea.

As you can see from this viewpoint, the throttle pedal arm is really close to the left console side.  Not only will trimming a few inches off the width of the console help with this problem, but I think that the console just looks too fat for the tight confines of this car.

A little care taken in laying out even lines will allow you to cut nice straight lines.  I used the grinder with a thin wheel that you see in the picture.  Yes, I used breathing protection while cutting this fiberglass.  I then used blocks of wood underneath to screw the pieces together.  Once I'm happy with the thickness, I will fiberglass the console back together again.  It is polyester fiberglass, so using the proper resin and hardener will be needed.

Doesn't this look better?  The width of the console allows more room for the throttle pedal and it just plain looks better.  Once it is fiberglassed back together and covered with material, you will never know I chopped it up.  Ignore the aluminum bracket between the bottom of the dashboard and the top of the console, I was just using it to hold the dash board in place.  The Mazda Miata seats fit perfect with the console in place.

Brake line fabrication and installation

A lot of money is being spent on this project, so I figured that I shouldn't skimp on important areas.  One area in particular that needs to be first rate is the braking system.  For the lines, my only choice was stainless steel lines by Classic Tube.  These guys just know what they are doing and they make first class products.  I mated their 3/16" stainless steel line to Earl's -3 AN fittings.   I also decided that since the braking system of any car is so important that I would get the best flaring tool, which also came from Classic Tube.  I'll cover the actual flaring process in MUCH more detail shortly.

Let's start with some brake line flaring FACTS.  Boy did I find alot of FICTION on other web site forums!  The first and most important FACT about -3 AN fittings is that the flare angle is 37 degrees.  This is not my opinion, I called the nice folks at Earl's and since they are the fitting manufacturer, they should know.  Brake line ends can be single flare, double flare, bubble, and more.  The FACT is that you CAN use 37 degree single flare or 37 degree double flare for -3 fittings.  A 37 degree single flare tool is quite inexpensive, while a 37 degree double flare tool will set you back about $300.  You are spending a bunch of money on your project, a few hundred extra dollars for the proper tool is a no brainer.  I was told by the folks at Earl's and Classic Tube, that if you take the few seconds of extra time per flare and use double flare, your joints will be bullet proof for quite some time compared to a single flare.  Again, this is FACT, not my opinion.  How about another FACT?  According to Classic Tube, a DOUBLE flare is the only one that is DOT approved.  Wanna learn how to do a proper 37 degree double flare on stainless steel brake lines?  Sure you do, read on and enjoy the pics and the 37 degree brake line flaring FACTS.

The first step is probably the most important, cutting the stainless steel tubing properly.  It must be square and flat.  An easy way to guarantee a perfectly straight cut is to use a fine tooth hacksaw with a pair of the clamps from Classic's Tubing Flare Kit to be a cutting and filing guide.  These clamps are hardened steel, so you can't hurt them with a hack saw or file.  To make the cut, I use vise grips to clamp the brake line in the clamps, and cut with a fine hack saw.  Please don't use a tubing cutter, die grinder, or any other powered cutter.  The hacksaw with a little oil as a lube will cut quick and easy.  After making your cut, keep the brake line clamped tight and use a large flat file to file the cut end perfectly flat.  Again, you won't even leave a mark on the clamps because they are hardened.

The last thing you'll do before you remove the stainless brake line from the clamps is to use a drill to chamfer the inside of the brake line.  Do a little at a time and make sure it's even.  I'll use a jeweler's 10x magnifier to verify that my chamfer is even.  This picture shows the brake line removed from the hardened clamps used to guide the hack saw and file.  It is much easier to leave them in the clamps for this step.  The clamps were removed and this photo was staged for clarity.

Using a small file by hand, put a chamfer on the outside of the brake line end.  Work slowly and carefully, inspecting with a magnifier.  Use compressed air or a small brush to make sure that all filing swarf is removed from the brake line end you're working on.

Now it's time to make the initial part of the double flare.  Using the hydraulic flaring tool from Classic Tube, insert the proper size (brake line diameter) hardened clamps into the tool, slide the brake line into the clamps and be sure that they are perfectly flush with the inside end of the clamps.  I use a washer held flat against the clamps, pushing the brake line till it stops against the washer.  Tighten the clamps into place making sure that the clamps are even with each other and level in the hydraulic flaring too.

Insert the proper size (diameter and degree) "male" die into the flaring tool, spray a little oil on the die and the end of the brake line and the male die.  Close the hydraulic valve on the flaring tool, carefully thread the die into the end of the brake line and then squeeze the handle on the flaring tool until you can't squeeze it any more.  Open the hydraulic valve and unscrew the male die to release it.  If you look at the end of the brake line you'll see a perfect start to your 37 degree double flare.

Remove the male die and insert the 37 degree cone into the flaring tool.  As with the male die, spray the cone and the end of the brake line.  Close the hydraulic valve not the flaring tool and carefully screw the cone die into the end of the brake line.  Once the cone die is properly seated into the brake line, squeeze the handle on the hydraulic flaring tool until it won't squeeze anymore.  Once this step is completed, open the hydraulic valve on the flaring tool and unscrew the cone die from the brake line.

Unclamp the brake line from the flaring tool and remove the brake line and inspect your work with the magnifier.  If you did your job correctly, you will see a perfect 37 degree double flare that should be bulletproof!  I would suggest spraying some brake cleaner inside the brake line and around the ends you flared and blow out any leftover filings or swarf to prevent contamination.  After using this procedure, my flares turned out perfect every time, yours can too.

You did remember to put the two blue parts on the line before flaring didn't you?

A stainless steel "through the frame" brake line adapter is used to bring the bake line from inside the frame to outside.  This is a picture of the right front of the car.  To be DOT (Department of Transportation) approved any brake line outside the frame has to have either crimped or swedged steel ends on it.  You are able to use any type of an adapter at the caliper.  The stainless steel "through the frame" adapter is positioned approximately half way vertically on the frame.

You also notice that the line is retained by rubber coated stainless steel clamps that prevent the brake line from rubbing on anything on the frame.

This is a picture of the left (driver's) front brake line.  As you can see, the line came from the right front into a "T" so it can go to the left front caliper.  The other side of the "T" will allow the line to go down the frame side to the Hurst Line Lock.  I've marked all the holes that I need to weld closed before the frame goes to powder coat.

The brake line that comes from the right of this photo comes from the "T" that came off the driver's front brake line.  Between the front brake line "T" and the Hurst Line Lock, I've installed a Wilwood 2psi residual pressure valve.  If you are installing your master cylinders high in the car like I am, you don't need these residual pressure valves.  They will only be used if the master cylinders are mounted under the floor.  In final assembly, you will see that I will be omiting both of these residual pressure valves.

This valve prevent fluid drainback in disk brake applications.  This will be only needed if your master cylinder is under the floor.  You will see in the final assembly, I have removed both of these, as my master cylinder is behind the dashboard.  I've left this picture and information in the article for those of you who do the under the floor install of the master cylinder.  The 90 degree elbow that points to the right will send the front brake line back into the cockpit to the master cylinder.  Note all the caps on the lines to keep them clean.  The brake line coming from the left is going to the rear brakes.  The Hurst Line Lock will act as my "parking brake" and will function on the front wheels only.  I will weld in three "spuds" to screw the Hurst Line Lock to.

To get to the rear brakes, a simple bend routes the line under the frame tubing, while still keeping the line as far away from the muffler as possible.  I used quite a few of these 10-32 stainless clamp/screw clamps to make sure the brake line doesn't rub on the frame.  They came from Jeg's.

The Wilwood 2psi residual pressure valve can be mounted horizontally or vertically.  As with the previous residual pressure valve, this one will be omited in final assembly due to the master cylinder being mounted up high behind the dashboard.  See the new brake line routing in the final assembly section.  This photo shows how the brake line is traveling to the rear brakes.

The brake line from the front of the car pass to the rear and into a "T".  The part of the "T" that points downward will get a crimped braided pre-make brake line which will head to the caliper.  The other side of the "T" routes the line in a crazy pattern to the right rear of the car.  This was a challenging line to bend.  Everything is in the way!  You could go over the top, but you'd have the air bag and shock bolts to deal with.  With this routing, you only have to make sure you clear the shocks.

The right rear brake line ends up into a bulkead 90 degree -3 AN fitting.  Simple welded brackets will be much longer lasting than a pop riveted bracket.  When the frame is stripped down I'll turn it over and weld the bottom of these brackets.

Frame Prep Before Powder Coating

After complete dis-assembly of the frame, it's time to prep the frame for powder coating.  Powder coating of the frame will give a longer lasting, more durable finish than paint, as long as it is done correctly.  We'll talk more about proper powder coating later.

Every sharp edge on the frame and all brackets, a-arms, rear end, etc. need to have their sharp edges radiused by filing or sanding.  This is done because neither paint nor powder coating will stick to a sharp edge.  Putting a slight radius on the sharp edges will allow the paint or powder coating to actually have a thickness at the edge instead of being just barely there.

Every edge needs to be gone over to ensure no sharp edges.  I used a file to knock the hard edge down, then I cleaned it up with an air die grinder with a 60 grit disk on it.  I worked my way from the 60 grit to 80 grit, and then finally to 120 grit.  I went through a few dozen of these sanding discs in each grit to compete this task.  120 grit was as far as I went because the powder coat needs something to bite into.

I invited a few of my trusted "backyard engineer" buddies over to talk over the seat belt and seat retention problems.  They all basically agreed that some sort of plate system under the seats was the proper answer.  I took all three ideas and melted them into what you see here.  Steel plate of 1/4" inch thickness bent at 90 degrees, then stitch welded to the frame.  The top horizontal surfaces are 1/8" below the bottom of the body to allow for sound deadening material and shim spacers.  This "system" will allow me to pick up the inside seat belt or seat mounts darn near anywhere I want with whatever seat or seat belt style that I choose.  Obviously, this system hasn't been proven in a wreck, so you are responsible for your own design (life), I take no responsibility or liability for the functionality of this design.

Prepping the frame and rear end housing took me a whole Saturday to do properly.  Most of the chassis is TIG welded, but the rear end was MIG welded, which left some splatter to clean up.  That's why you see my one hand without a glove, I would use it to see if I cleaned the welding spatter from the rear end housing.  In the picture you can see two 90 degree air powered die grinders, one was set-up with 60 grit and the other was set up with 80 grit.  DO NOT TRUST THE POWDER COATING COMPANY TO CLEAN UP THE EDGES OF YOUR METAL PARTS.  If you do the prep yourself, it will be done properly.

When looking for a quality powder coating company, start by getting some advice from friends.  Ask detailed questions.  "What surface prep do I need to do before I bring the parts to you?  What is your warranty?  What chemical pre treat do you use?  Do you bake the parts first before applying powder?  Do you plug any holes?  How do you protect bearing surfaces?  Can I see examples of your work?"  These are just some of the questions you must ask.  Also, for every part you deliver to the powder coater, have an inventory list of what is being dropped off and then check them off when they are being picked up.

I found a great powder coater just a few miles from home.  Actually, my sandblaster is a few miles from home and the powder coater is 1/4 mile away from the sandblaster.  They were able to work together and get the parts moved from the sandblaster to the powder coater without my help.  A lucky break for sure.

It was great to see that rusty frame turn into beautiful new metal again.  This picture was taken in the powder coater's spotless shop.

All the "little bits" sandblasted and ready for prep at the powder coater.

While the powder coater is doing his thing, you need to be prepping some parts with a proper paint job.  After using paint stripper and a wire brush, all the Chevy orange was gone.  The block was then blasted twice with cheap lacquer thinner.  A light mist coat of self etching primer before the PPG DCC paint applied over PPG K-36 hi build primer made the motor look wet.  The powder coater made me a test piece of steel that I took to my local paint supplier to have him mix me up a quart of matching paint.


The third member gets a coat of paint as well.  It's hard to see from this picture, but the inside of the yolk has been taped off before paint.  The clamps will get painted with a rattle can.

My welding rack and some coat hangers make for a tidy paint rack.  These bits were degreased, sanded, then misted with self etching primer before their k-36 primer was applied.  A light tack coat of DCC then a single top coat equals perfection.

Final Assembly Starts

I've waited more than one year to say those words!  You would think that the "challenges" would be over, right?  No, they aren't.  If you can't deal with the challenges (this really means problems and delays), you shouldn't be building a hot rod or any other vehicle.

As with the mock-up, I will be jumping around on the final assembly.  As things move along at a more brisk pace, the different areas of assembly will be finalized.

Everything is back from powder coating and it looks great.  Be prepared to scratch stuff,  you will do it for sure.  Get some touch up paint, you will use it.  If your powder coater didn't plug your threaded holes, you will have to run a tap into them to clean them out.  This step isn't optional.

After the differential came back from the powder coater, I took some extra time to make sure that any sandblasting media was removed from inside the axle tubes.  Brake cleaner, rubber gloves, and paper towels did a fine job.  I sprayed the inside of the diff housing with some WD-40 to prevent rust.

The next step is REALLY important (mandatory).  Even though the axle bearings have small "O" ring seals on them to prevent the differential lube from leaking out, YOU MUST INSTALL THE REAR AXLE SEALS INTO THE DIFF HOUSING!  The axle will leak if you don't install the seals supplied with your Oze kit.

A seal driver which I got as a set from Jegs, black RTV for a little extra insurance, the seal, and a hammer are needed to properly install the rear axle seals.  Please note that you got two types of seals with your OZE kit, one set for the rear axles, and one set for the front spindles.  There is a distinct size difference in the seals so you won't have a problem figuring out which ones go where.

The rear axle seal has some sealant on it (the red stuff you'll see in the next pics), but a very thin coating of black RTV will ensure no leaks.  I squirted a little RTV in the axle housing where the seal will end up and then I just smeared it smoothly around.

This part is VERY important!  What you are looking at in this picture is the OUTSIDE of the rear axle seal.  This is the part that the seal driver will press against.  Another note on the seal driver, it must be as close to the outside diameter (O.D.) of the seal as possible.  This is the strongest part of the seal.

The black RTV is in place, and the seal is pushed in place to this point with your fingers.

As you TAP the seal in place with the hammer and seal driver, you will hear a distinct sound.  Once the seal finds it's seat, the sound will change to a more "solid" sound that tells you that your work is complete.   After the first few taps, make sure you are driving the seal in place squarely.

Today was a fun day.  Christmas decorations made out of stainless steel from Totally Stainless.  This is exactly how your shipment of stainless steel fasteners will come for your Oze kit.  Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming!

Will you look at this!  Bagged seperatly in the same bag AND labeled as to where it goes!  Totally Stainless rocks.  I'm not dreaming, this is Totally Stainless reality.

Totally Stainless makes assembly a dream.  Look at how the suspension bolts are packed!  These guys are serious about stainless steel fasteners.

Before mating the gearbox to the engine, install the hydraulic clutch line if you are using a hydraulic clutch.  It will be a real paiin if you don't do this now.  These cheapie little wood dollies saved my back.  Well worth the few dollars they cost.

After performing the bellhouseing alignment procedure outlined in the instructions from Kiesler (mandatory), I painted the bellhouseing in one step polyeurathane paint to match the powdercoating.  Totally Stainless bolts and adjustable pins hold the bellhouseing to the block, which was also painted to match the frame's powdercoating.


With lots of safety precautions, the engine and gearbox are installed and secured with Totally Stainless fasteners of course.  I'm hoping to find just the right air cleaner at Good Guys in Columbus, or another car show.

As with all of the other fasteners, Totally Stainless bits were used throughout this build.  Remember to use Anti-Sieze!  The extra quality is WELL worth the extra money.

These were the trick motor and trans mounts I wrote of earlier in the build.  Yup, Totally Stainless motor mount bolts.

While I'm on the subject of Totally Stainless,  I used their locking stainless steel bolts to hold my coated headers securely to the heads.

After installing the motor and gearbox, it's time to install the rear end goodies.  Wilwood brakes were used on all four corners.  Please note the stainless steel safety wire!  YOU CAN'T OMIT THIS STEP.  Please take your time, read Wilwood's (or whoever you use) instructions and put your braking system together carefully.  It took me a full 8 hour day to assemble/safety wire all four corners.  Remember to degrease the disks before installing the brake pads.  You may have to fuss a bit with the spacers that center the calipers over the discs.  Extra spacers come with the Willwood kit.  I actually had to machine the smallest spacer down a bit to get even spacing.  No big deal.  Also, use common sense when running the braided brake lines.

From the outside the way cool Boze Wheels and brake set-up make all the work worth it. 

We've been here before in mock-up.  Now it's just a matter of re-assembly.  We'll set pinion angle a little later.  The rear end seemed to get ALOT heavier when you don't want to scratch it!

It's starting to look like a car, isn't it?  Those big Boze rear wheels along with the HUGE rear tires weigh a ton, but they sure do look good.

See that blue plastic thingie by the rear wheel?  This is a bolt and nut size checker I got from Totally Stainless.  Invaluable and worth 10 times the price.  I'm sure that I will have worn this thing out by the end of the build.

See the notepad hanging off the frame rail?  At the end of a work "session" I make "to do" notes or write info on where I stopped.  Very important.


Just as with the rear, lots of care is taken on proper installation of the braking system. This is the left front during assembly.  The paint on the front airbag is drying, so I've temporarily used the standoff that came on the car during delivery.

All of the nuts, bolts, and washers are of course, Totally Stainless, even the long suspension bolts.  Remember to use anti-sieze.  I can't emphaize this enough.

After installing all four wheels, I was a happy camper.  It was the exact look that I was after.  Wait till you see how the silver, black and red will all tie together with the finished design.  I wish I could draw, so you could see the finished design that's in my head.


Yes, I know there are a bunch of things still loose.  At this point, I will go over EVERY single front end nut and bolt before calling things done in the front end.  I wish the paint on those airbags would hurry up and dry.  You'll see farther down the article that I've had to go with a 90 degree fitting out of the frame bulkhead to clear the airbag.  The braided brake likes MUST NOT touch the airbags or they will wear through.

In the mock up stage, I used the Schrader valves screwed directly into the airbags.  At this point in final assembly, you have to think many steps ahead before the body goes on.  How is the airline for the airbags going to get to the back of the car?  How are wires from the front of the car going to get to the back of the car, and vice versa?  In the case of the air bags, I installed the permanent airline fittings into the tops of the airbags, and ran the line to the back of the car, installing the Schrader valves again in a temporary way until the air ride tank and electronics are installed.

A "raceway" inside each frame rail can save lots of headaches later.  This is .750" inside diameter waterproof flexible conduit that I got from Home Depot.  It was about .50 cents per foot.  This stuff will hold it's shape and not crush, shutting off your wire path.  Installation was a bit tricky.  First, I had to run a "metal fishing wire" all the way through the frame to the back.  I hooked the metal fishing wire to .50" inside diameter flexible conduit and pulled it all the way through the frame.  I then taped the .50" id conduit to the .750" id conduit and pulled that back through the frame.  I tried this many different ways, and this was my best solution.  You're probably wondering what the hole is for?  This hole corresponds to a hole I put in the frame just behind the front cross member.  I pulled the .75" id conduit forward before I cut it to length, drilled out the hold a bit oversise, then slid the conduit back into the frame in it's final position.  Remember, I said you had to think ahead?

After both ends of the plastic conduit are trimmed, use a rubber lined stainless steel clamp to hold the conduit in place.  This conduit will take the front airbag airlines all the way back to the trunk area to the air ride system.  The driver's side conduit will hold a 10 gauge ground wire for the radiator fan.  These fans pull a TON of juice, so a big fat dedicated ground run all the way back to the battery will eliminate a future headache.

You can see that I've run the front airbag airline through the frame and up and around the suspension upright.  I've used fuel line to protect it.  This is not the final set-up of the front airlines.  I've left the airlines just a bit long and they will be given a final trim when the front body work is installed.  You can see that I had to raise the airbag inlet line for clearance.

The fuel tank needs to be vented.  A completely open vent can cause some problems with clogging, so using a fuel line filter in the line will prevent that.  I ran the fuel line vent forward out of the trunk compartment (you don't want gas fumes in the trunk which is connected to the passenger compartment) with a short hose dropping from the fuel line vent next to the rear tire.  You can also see the airline fitting and airline in the top of the left rear air bag.  I have the line running into the trunk area because that's where the air ride components are going to live.

This picture shows tons of information.  Overkill on the line protection?  Yes, but this is one case that more is better.  After 10 years of SCCA road racing, I learned volumes about reliability.  If you even think that something will rub through and cause a failure, protect it.  If the item is important, brakes and fuel as an example, double protect it.  I will put another split piece of black fuel line around the edge of the hole in the frame that the fuel line goes down into.  I ran the rear suspension full up and full down to ensure that nothing rubbed or pulled.  Look close at the rubber lined stainless steel clamps around the fuel line.  I went oversize on these clamps and then wrapped a slit piece of fuel line around the fuel line before putting the clamp around it.  Double redundancy relating to abrasion protection is concerned is very important, as braided line will just about wear through concrete.

You can see the stainless steel clamps that I used to hold the braided fuel line.  These are oversize to allow the fuel line to be covered with slit fuel line and then clamped.  The black coating is from one of our great sponsors, DEI.  This coating allows incredible protection from the heat generated by the muffler.  DEI has a HUGE selection of products to help with all the insulating chores that are involved in building a hot rod.  I will use LOTS of DEI products in the final assembly.  Check their stuff out, it's first rate.  I wouldn't use it if it wasn't (sponsor or not).

This overhead view shows tons of good information.  You can see the flexible conduit that I've run through both frame rails.  It will be cut on a bias and tucked into the sides of the frame rails.  You also see the rubber coated stainless steel clamp that I secured the fuel line with (from Jeg's or McMaster Carr).  I enlarged the holes in the sender plate from 4mm to 5mm to hold that clamp more securely.  Only use a two flute tap going into stainless steel.  Use lots of tap lube and go slow otherwise you'll break off a tap.  Stainless steel is challenging to tap.  Thanks to our sponsor A to Y Machine for these helpful tips.  You also see LOTS of abraision protection on everything.  You can also see the vent line sending any fumes away from the trunk compartment.  Don't forget to run a ground wire from the ground stud on the fuel level sensor to the frame or battery negative.

I've had the box of parts for the front of the motor for over a year, and I've been itching to put them on.  Nice and shiny, huh?  DON'T BUY THE SHINY PRETTY STUFF FOR THIS CAR!  You can barely see the shiny bits with the Oze car, so don't waist your money and polishing time.  Please don't get me wrong, the quality of this set up is first rate, but the polishing will be very time consuming.  If you are silly enough to buy the aluminum shiny bits, take the time to coat them with someone's preservative to buy you some time before having to repolish them.  The coating process is a pain in the butt as well.  I chose the "V" style belt for ease of replacement reasons along with the fact that you can't appreciate the single belt with this car as everything is covered up.

In this picture, you can see the final routing of the fuel line from the carb down to the mechanical fuel pump.  Did you see the mistake?  How about the 100 psi fuel pressure gauge on a non-fuel injected motor?  I put down the wrong part number on the order.  The 0-15 psi gauge will be fine for this lump.  The next project has an injected motor in it, so this gauge will be of use later on.  Do you really need a fuel pressure gauge on a small block Chevy?  No, I actually needed to gain some space to clear the water outlet on the intake manifold, so I figured that the gauge would look cooler than a silly spacer.  The fact that my gauge has a carbon fiber dial and is liquid filled IS overkill.

I've been nagging you about "thinking ahead" during this project.  The fuel line routing is a perfect example of why you really need to think through the final assembly very carefully.  Before running the fuel line from the carb to the fuel pump, I had to take into consideration the water line coming from the water pump to inside the car (blue cap from under the air conditioning compressor), the hose from the water pump to the bottom of the radiator (it is stuffed with the red shop rag), and the water line from the top of the intake manifold to inside the car (blue cap on top front of the manifold).  Things are getting busy in a very small space.  Actually, the radiator overflow tank will reside on this side of the engine bay as well.  I haven't figured out where I'm putting that thing yet.

I used a larger diameter version of DEI's heat protection wrap around the fuel line near the headers.  Overkill?  Maybe, but much safer than without.  The red paint dots tell me that the fittings and or nuts and bolts are tight for sure.  Before the body goes on every nut, bolt and fitting will be triple checked even if it has a red dot on it.

The fitting with the blue protective cap is a stainless steel 4" extension coming out of the water pump.  Even if I would of installed a normal water line fitting before installing the other front end components, I wouldn't be able to tighten the water line fitting.  This extended stainless steel fitting solves two problems with ease.

A swiveling, stainless steel 45 degree water neck uses an O-ring for sealing.  You don't need to polish stainless steel as much as you do bare aluminum.  Hmmmm.

You must match the flow control valve to the pressure that your power steering rack likes.  I had to change mine.  The gold colored flow control valve came stock in my power steering pump and it was rated at 3 GPM.  As per Tim Taylor, this 2GPM Flow Control Valve will eliminate "jittery" power steering.  The silver colored valve with the protective blue cap is the new one.  You can see the packaging from the new valve in the background.

Richard from Done Right Engines reminded me not to forget this harmonic balancer bolt when installing the front end goodies.  Torque it properly and use Loctite.

Speaking of proper torque, if you try to torque the harmonic balancer bolt down properly, you could strip the bolt in the nose of the crankshaft.  Not a fun fix.  The "stock bolt" is about 2" long, and the aftermarket bolt is just shy of 2.5" long.  Spend the extra money here, it's much easier to buy the longer harmonic balancer bolt and sleep better at night.

I was having some problems getting the steering rack straight and not having the bellows on the rack hit the frame.  I found that this bracket (the one being pointed at with the red tip) was about 1/16" longer than the other bracket.  The frame is already powder coated, so cutting the bracket off and re-welding was not high on my list of solutions.  Read on for the answer.

This aluminum bracket had enough "meat" on it to mill the extra 1/16" off to square everything up perfect.  The rack is now straight, and the bellows don't hit the frame in full bump or full droop.  Another note about this aftermarket power steering rack, the aluminum bracket was not installed parallel to the other fixed bracket on the rack.  This is easily fixed.

If you remember way back when the car was being dis-assembled, there were big washers between the frame and the body on the driver's side only.  Steve at Oze told me that these were to help body alighmnent.  As per normal hot rod building practice, some sort of insulator or "welting" is usually put between the frame and the body to help eliminate squeeks and rattles.  Instead of welting, I decided to use slightly firm rubber.  I put 1/16" thick on the passenger side and to eliminate the shim washers, I used 1/8" thick on the driver's side.  Of course I can shim more as needed.  The rubber was purchased from McMaster-Carr, and based on how poor the adhesive was, it had been on the shelf for some time.  I used 3M 377 spray adhesive and it worked like a charm.  I know my holes for the body mount bolts are a bit ratty, but it was 100 degrees in the garage, and nobody will ever see these holes.

I could of used store bought truck bed liner on the running boards, and all four fenders, but I decided to use what I feel is the best product out there.  Linex of Streetsboro Ohio did a fabulous job.  There is a Linex franchise near my home, but after talking to both companies, driving about an hour was worth it for me.  Linex of Streetsboro Ohio had more hot rod/fiberlass experience.

When cutting one of the tail light holes in the rear fenders, you can see the incredible thickness of the fiberglass, AND the Linex thickness.

I strapped the body on it's dolly to my lift and used plastic taped up and around the body to make a very small "paint booth" in preparation for sanding the bottom of the whole body with 80 grit sandpaper and then spraying the whole bottom of the car with two coats of Lizard Skin.  You can't use anyone's bed liner, even Linex, close to heat (mufflers) or it will get soft and gooey.  The Lizard Skin coating will protect our backsides from the heat of the mufflers that are directly under the seats.  My "paint and sanding booth" idea worked perfectly, keeping dust and overspray contained directly under the car and not all over the shop.  It was 85 degrees when I did this and to say it was uncomforatable in the "paint booth" with safety glasses and a respirator, would be an understatement.  It took from 9 AM to 6 PM complete the job, including clean up.  I was going to turn the body upside down on the dolly, but my brilliant wife came up with this plan that worked better.

Yes, I know my edge got a little rough, it will get cleaned up with a bit of sandpaper once everything dries.  I'll be spraying the Lizard Skin on the inside of the firewall later.

I temporarily fit the front fenders to the nose, traced where the fenders would mount, taped everything off and rolled on store bought bed liner on as sound deadner and protectant.  DON'T DO THIS, YOU WILL HAVE TO RE-DO IT.  The roll on stuff (the name with a dash), was not the same quality as the Lizzard Skin material.  This will be scuffed up, and re-shot with Lizzard Skin.

I did the same thing to the rear inner fenders.  Again, use the Lizzard Skin instead of the roll-on stuff, you'll be much happier. This will be a re-do as well.

Before spraying the Lizzard Skin on the interior, scuffing with 80 grit is recommended.  I know, I know, I missed a few spots.  I got tired of sanding, then I took a picture.  I'll finish it.  As with all fiberglass sanding, proper eye and breathing protection are mandatory.  A word about the paper I used to protect what I don't want Lizzard Skin to get on.  Lizzard Skin is water based, so you don't have to use high dollar masking paper for this part of the project.  This stuff came in a few different widths, and it was about $3.00 per roll at Home Depot.

I spoke with my upholsterer and wondered if he would have a problem bonding to the Lizzard Skin.  He wasn't sure, so he suggested that I leave him a border to bond the headliner to.

Don't forget to "pretty-up" this lip that the trunk seal will slide over.  It's quite irregular from the molding process.  It's much easier to make it's thickness uniform now, not having to worry about your pretty paint job.

Here is the interior competed with the first coat being the Lizzard Skin SC (sound control), then the Lizzard Skin Ceramic heat coating.  I will be covering the whole interior with DEI self adhesive sound deadening and heat protection as well.

I'm running an electronic speedometer, so the wires had to get from the right side of the transmission to inside the car.  Abraision and road debris can tear these wires, so I protected them with 3/8" fuel line zip stripped with triple redundency.  These wires will enter the car by the passenger footwell so I routed them to that side of the gearbox.

1/2" fuel line wraps around the transmission to pick up the neutral safety switch wires that will go through a hole in the fuel line.  I'm very comforatable that these transmission lines will be properly protected.  I may use the back up light wiring to activate a rear facing camera, I haven't decided yet.  The two connectors that can be used for the backup camera or backup lights are a NAPA part.

It's finally starting to look like a hot rod!  I was like a new Mom checking over a new born.  I was crawling all over the car to see if things were rubbing, fitting, or if ideas worked.  No problems found (yet!).  The wires dangling behind the front wheel are the wires from the gearbox - speedo, reverse lockout, and wires that are for backup lights or camera.  I will spray the inside of the nose section with Lizzard Skin SC to protect the paint on the outside from heat generated by the motor.

I decided to mount the battery in the passenger compartment to keep it away from the fuel tank.  A 3/4" plywood "tray" supported by 90 degree steel and a 1" x 1" steel square tubing welded to vertical brackets.  The rear mount for this tray is made up of two 2"x2' 90 degree steel brackets that bolt to the body mount holes and to the plywood tray.  I bolted a 90 degree 1" x 1" steel angle to the back edge of the plywood to prevent any flexing.  Those of you with a keen eye will see a small space between the vertical brackets and the rectangular side tubing.  This is to allow door frame adjustment.  Obviously, I'll disassemble and paint this set up.  How strong is this tray?  My 190 pounds jumping up and down on it didn't cause an issue.  A subwoofer box will be mounted to the passenger side of this plywood tray allowing the speaker to fire downwards through a hole I've yet to cut.  A hidden audio system will be mounted on the other side of the battery.  All of this, including the tray, needs to be shallow enough to clear the fiberglass piece that goes behind the seat.

This angle shaped piece is the driver's side bracket that will hold the dashboard by the side, not by one of the top screws.  It is made up of three pieces of steel Tig welded together.  I started with the piece with the holes in it, then made the short piece which is angled (tacked, then bent to fit, then finish welded), then I added the longer end piece (again, tacked and then bent to final angle after a test fit).  This last piece took the longest time, as it's final contour was shaped by trial and error.  The sheet aluminum template that is taped in place with blue tape gave me a rough idea of location and angle needed.  Washers and/or another plate will go between this mounting bracket and the upright it's bolted to to give me lots of assembly adjustability.  I will put a piece of rubber between the bracket and the dash to try to eliminate vibration.  A countersunk screw will hold the dash in place.  Once I drill the mounting hole, I'll Tig weld a nut on the inside of the bracket.  Don't panic if your brackets look a bit different from one side of the car to the other, as the inside of the dashboards will vary in thickness from side to side.

Remember that I mentioned that I need easy access to under the dash because of the master cylinders?  My friend Bill suggested mounting the dash from the side and eliminating the top dash mounting screws that you won't be able to get to once the windscreen is mounted.

Access to the fuel tank sender, fuel line, fuel tank vent, and the fuel tank access panel is a must.  I cut the holes in the body with one of those roto-zip style tools with the bit set very shallow as to not destroy any of the lines under the body.  I cleaned up the holes with a drum sander.  Next, a few minutes with some .050" soft aluminum, and an english wheel made these removeable covers for these very important items.  I'll metal finish these and either velcro them down around their whole perimiter or use some sort of blind fastening system.  If you live in the country like I do, these covers can prevent one of natures little furry creatures from finding an expensive winter home.

The trunk latch is next.  My limited budget doesn't allow for one of those fancy electric lifts, so a conventional bear claw style trunk latch is my choice.  I am going to make it electronically activated with a manual override.  The red arrow shows an extended tab that I welded onto the trigger arm of the bear claw latch.  This will allow me to hook up a manual cable to open the trunk just in case the actuator or wiring fails.  This system is one half of a tailgate/tonneau electric latch kit from Watson's.

During re-assembly, you may change plans for many reasons.  I did for sure.  This is usually not a problem, just relax and think about the issue/problem.  I found that other people may have had your/my exact same issue/problem.  A quick perusal through one of the many catalogs you've collected will find a solution.  I'll also go back and look through the zillions of photos I've taken to get "inspiration".  Dont' be surprised if I change/delet a photo or two from this article.

At this point, you are getting very close to putting the body on the frame.  There are still many things to get done before this happens.  I'm a "work list" kind of guy, so that's what I've done to make sure that all the important tasks are complete, so I don't have to spend a bunch of time under the car tidying things up.  For example:  Finish brake lines, air lines run to rear of car, battery cables to front of car, install front air bags, pinion angle set, engine oil fill, trans fill, rear end fill, grease front tie rod ends, string alignment, body mount rubber installed, wires run from transmission up to the motor, underside of body is undercoated, and most important, a nut and bolt check of the stuff that's under the body.  See what I mean?  Your work list will expand even more once you get the body on the chassis prior to doing bodywork.  Door alignment, hood and trunk latches, dashboard alighment, and more.

Even though I've got a bit more work to be done before thinking about upholstery, my wife and I paid the upholsterer a visit to find out what he must have completed before the car goes to him for the interior work.  It was fun looking at fabric swatches and examples of patterns for the doors and seats.  It was also a good idea to look at the other cars in the shop and see what they had done before the interior was completed.

Please check back often, and if you are following along during your build, please re-read a section pertaining to what you are doing, as I will update both pictures and/or text as new information comes along.  Pictures and descriptions will be updated as work progresses.

One last interesting point of building a hot rod.  Not only have I met some great people, but the help and support I've received from old friends and new friends has been wonderful.  This is an added bonus of this hobby.  In alphabetical order I would like to thank: Mark Adams, John Adams, Brittany Adams, Donovan Arnold, Josephine DiFranco, Joseph DiFranco, Linda DiFranco, Don Duncan, John Gelsimino Sr., Tom Georgian, Alice Ghostley, Bill Glavac, Jack Leventry, Tom McDuffee, Bob Meyer, Felice Orlandi, Dan Osborne, John Ours, Jr. Audrey Ours, J.P. Ours, Milt Pavlisin, Michael Regan, Dave Rigotti, Joe Rossman, Rich Sprinzl, Tammy Taylor, Tim Taylor, George Tipton, Jim Westfall, Tom Wood, Richard Yanus, and more to come, I'm sure.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 09:31
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