Haven’t updated the site for ages, but I’ve still been working away on the truck as often as I can. The running boards I got with the truck were completely rotten so I plasma’d the tops off them, screwed them to the workbench (well the kitchen worktop on two trestles that doubles as a workbench!) and cut new tops out of sheet metal. They were a good lesson on not welding too much at once or you’ll warp it… Which I did. So after cutting it back out and straightening it I took a bit more care. I also made new supports for them as the originals hang below the boards at the back, and they’ll just hit stuff. With some hidden fixings added I gave them a quick coat of primer to keep the rust at bay for a bit and put them on the "to do" pile.
I was also concerned about the nose and the gravel pan, as they both had been worked on and were starting to rust. The nose was dented and twisted all over, and had some bad pitting where the emblem sat, and as I didn’t want the emblem on there anyway, I cut it out, shaped it flat and made a new piece.
Doesn’t sound like much when you say it quickly, but it took hours to get them straight. A quick coat of primer to seal them up, and they too went on the to do pile.
I hated the Intercooler sat way down low at the front of the car, and was convinced that it was going to get a stone through it on the motorway. The tubing also caught on the new wheels at full lock. As I reversed it out one Sunday to work on the truck I decided that was that and took it all off. I connected the Procharger straight to the intake and set about searching for a relatively cheap 76mm intercooler that would fit in between the lower hood lock bracket and the wing. A few months later, and skint, I decided enough was enough and took the lock bracket and the unused as yet AC condenser off, and dropped the old intercooler in it’s place. It looked like it was made to go there, so after making some quick brackets I set about plumbing it in using the old pipework. The pipework needed to go through the two wind deflector panels, which had the horn and alarm sounder on one side, and a relay board on the other. After coming to the conclusion it all looked crap anyway, I cut all the wiring out to re-do it after I’d done the pipework.
With holes cut out of either side, and the hard pipework trimmed and the ends swaged it all went together nicely with a much better run than before. At this point it was time to move on to the wiring. The lamp wiring was extended so that it could pass through the wings behind the deflectors and out of site, and everything put on multi pin plugs so I can remove the core support and swing the wiring out of the way with it. The horn and alarm sounder were hidden, the main fuseboard feed re-run, the MSD box removed completely as I’m not convinced it’s not the cause of a lot of my distributor problems. Washer pump wiring moved, heater controls moved, and the lot run in braided covering to neaten it all up. There is so much on this car I’d do better if I did it again, but I still love it. The only thing left to do at this point was the hood latch. The old latch and bracket are huge, but after some major trimming the bracket cleared the intercooler nicely. The latch will be replaced by a smaller double bear claw one but that was that for the weekend.
With the hood hung back on, it was time to make the guides to save the wings taking a beating as you closed the hood and hold the back of it down when you’re driving!. I bought a set of guides and wheels from a BMW and set about getting them roughly where I thought it should sit. The wheel part was relatively easy, as I just notched the crossmember where the hinges mounted and tacked a piece of flat bar into place. The guides themselves turned out to be a lot tougher. The length of the arms that I made were obviously completely different to the BMW ones, and this left me with too much movement from front to back for the short guides. I tacked on some flat bar at the front to make up for this, and then set about trying to get the angle and alignment right.
After crushing my fingers a million times, and it popping the clamps off as it slid, I bit the bullet and tacked it together temporarily. It sorta worked, but just wasn’t right. At this point I gave up for the evening to have a think about it all. After thinking about it all week, I decided the best option was to make it all as adjustable as I could. I cut it all off and made some brackets that mounted on existing holes in the wings, and slotted the holes so I could move it all about. Happy that it would hopefully work, I made another set for the other side and bolted it all together before climbing inside and adjusting it all to line up as I watched it. After a couple more tweaks to the brackets, it all works pretty much as it should. The sliders are seriously ugly tho, so I’ll draw them out and get a couple of pairs lasered (I’ll do the same to the C10 when and if I ever get on to it!).
I had spent ages making a reverse tilt hood mechanism as I didn’t have the original hinges, and thought it would be a good idea. Happy with it all I’d taken it back off and stuck the hood in the shed ready for the day when I’d be working on it. In the meantime I re-made the core support it all sat on so I thought I’d better re-fit it and check it still worked, and add some rollers and guides for the firewall edge of it. I got all the brackets back on, dropped the hood on, and climbed under the wheel arch and over the frame to get inside and bolt it all up. It was out by a mile. I spent the next few hours adjusting the arm lengths (it’s all rose jointed) and checking it all before I decided that it was never going to fit. I had to cut some of the core support cover so that the arms didn’t fold against them, and then extend the arms slightly so that the rose joints were not right at the very end of the thread. With it all done, it sits pretty nicely but is out about a centimetre or so when the hood is open.
I couldn’t open the door to look at it all properly as it was pouring with rain, so I’ll have to hope for a dry day next weekend and have a measure of it all to check. I have the guide plates and wheels off a 3 series BMW reverse bonnet to put on there to guide the hood in, which should also save my fingers being crushed hopefully!
I got the Bel Air out of the garage as normal to work on the truck, and left the door open for some fresh air. While i was working away on the truck I kept looking at the bumper on the Bel Air and thinking how much it bugged me. I didn’t like the gaps between it and the body, the fact it was up on one side where the hanger was bent, and the overrider indentations. Apart from that I loved it!. I hit a bit of a snag with the truck which needed a think, so as I went in to make a cuppa, I decided the time had come for the bumper! With it dropped off and on the floor, I set about breaking off the bolts for the hanger from the wing
They turned out to be rusted solid, and even after letting them soak for an hour, I had to snap them off with a long bar. With it off, I hit the crap out of it in the vice until it was roughly the right shape again. With it back on loosely, I balanced the bumper on a jack and pushed it back as far as I could. With a bit of trimming on the brackets, I got it flush against the frame horns. Happy with it’s new position, I took it back off and trimmed the brackets to go over the massive rivet on the horn, then set about cutting out the dent for the overrider. I kept measuring it and putting a straight edge on it as I did it but it’s got a few low patches in it which I reckon will take quite a bit of work to get out. I’ll have to see if it can be filled with braze or similar before chroming, or buy an anvil! I’ve moved the mounting bolt holes 4cm (just over an inch and a half in old money!) further forward, and I’m happy with how it sits now. Will weld the bolts on and fill up the other holes next week. An enjoyable bit of random work.
I needed to come up with a way of holding the intercoolers in place, whilst still letting plenty of air through them. I decided that I’d re-shape the wind deflector panels around the intercoolers to hold them in place on the one side. I’d already bent one into shape, so re-bent it with a lip at the back and test fitted it. I was happy with how it came out, so I made a tunnel for the wing edge to slot into, and made new lips for the top edge to hold it all rigid. Happy with how it all looked, I did the other side and filled in the original mounting holes for the nose.
With that done, I needed to come up with a way of holding the other side in place. I settled on some bits of box section and angle bolted to the core support which should be plenty strong enough. When I actually get around to painting it I’ll put some foam pads on the mounting surfaces to clamp it all in without squishing it. Hard to see in the pic, but it’s held both sides and there is a bracket to hold it up at the bottom too. I guess the only way it could move is upward when i go over a bump, but I’ll put some foam in and see if I need a top bracket.
I don’t like the ’55 nose as much as the ’56 nose, and as I had both I decided on the ’56. The mounting tabs are in different positions to the ’55 and half the mounts would be in the intercoolers with my new setups. I’d cut them off and moved them previously so now needed to get it mocked up and drill new holes in what was left of the wind deflector panels. I had a massive clear up in the garage, and slid the truck over sideways on the dollies so that I could get to both sides (and my workbench finally!) and set about putting the front on again. I’d re-made the core support since I last had it all together, so was expecting to have to tweak it all to fit again. It was pretty close, but just needed a tiny tweak on the one side to get it all lined up. With the wings hung, and the core support cover in place it was slightly further out than I thought, so I bolted the gravel pan in too and tightened it all up before cutting trough a few tacks and moving the support on the passenger side. With that all done, I bolted in the side lights and clamped the nose in place before measuring all the gaps. With a bit more moving around, I was happy with the position of it all so broke out the drill.
It took a fair bit of measuring and moving to get it all lined up and back together, which was a pain in the ass as it’s only a foot or so from the garage door which has a C10 stopping it from opening….. I gave up in the end and dragged it diagonally in front of the other door and got the last few bolts drilled and fitted. Really happy with how it all looks, can’t wait to put it all together properly.
I’d decided to fit the ’56 nose that I had instead of the original ’55 one. Both were in pretty poor shape, so it was a lot of work either way. I marked up all the dents, and put it against a flat surface to see how badly it was twisted. Pretty badly was the answer. After a fair bit of bending and twisting I was happy with the way it sat, so took out all the dents. There were lots of holes for grommets etc that I’d rather move to other places, so I filled these in while I was at it. The nose mounts flush against the wind deflector panels, and on a ’55 the headlights stick out. On a ’56 the headlights are recessed, and there is a recess in the deflector for them to sit in. As the intercoolers needed to go where the recess was, i needed a plan ‘B’.
I bought new headlamps with LED sidelights which are quite shallow, and after some measuring decided I could cut the backs of the buckets flush and still have enough room for the wiring. Some careful cutting and welding later (and some time in my latest toy from eBay, a shot blast cabinet) and they were done. Happy with it all, I took them back apart and gave them a coat of rattle can primer before carrying on with the nose. The tabs are in a different position on the ’56 nose compared to the ’55 nose, and only half of the mounting holes are available with the intercoolers in, so i carefully cut off the tabs and made new ones for both sides. Should be fun mounting that by eye!
I finally got round to ordering some sheet steel to make the trans tunnel and a few other bits. So with two sheets of 0.9mm at the ready, I set about it. I planned to make a square-ish tunnel as it would be relatively easy to do so folded one up out of cardboard before commiting to metal. With it sat in place, I hated it. More cardboard later, I had one that was angular that I thought would look good and started to fold it up out of steel. Not long into it, I decided I didn’t like that either so that became a pile of spare for patches. At this point I’ve had enough, so decide to close off the edges and make a cone to cover the top. With the big ruler screwed to the bench, I drew out a few cones and picked the one I liked the best. With it cut out of steel, I gently formed it over my leg and the edge of the bench with my hands. It came out really well, so I drilled some holes and cleco’d it to the closeout panels.
I then spent ages trying to get the shape of the top half of the cone plus the tab in one piece. In the end I gave up as the jaw of the shrinker wasn’t deep enough and made the tab with a flange to weld onto the top cone. A few hours of messing about with cardboard and I had the top cone cut out of metal and the whole lot cleco’d together. After marking where it all overlapped, I hammered a small lip on the edge of the cone to make it rigid before re-assembling and putting a few tacks on. A few tweaks, and I set about welding it together with the MIG as I was too lazy to set the TIG up. It all ended up solid, but not the prettiest bit of welding I’ve ever done. It’ll be under a carpet so it’s hardly the end of the world! A few screws to replace the two cleco’s that held it in place and called it a day for now till I can cut the other side of the firewall to suit.
As the first piece of the new crossmember took me ages to cut out with a grinder, I decided to splash out on a double mitre saw to do the rest. After measuring for the drop on the other side, I set the saw and cut up a block of wood as a test. It was pretty much spot on, so I cut up a piece of box section. I still had to cut the notch out with the grinder, but it was still a million times easier. I measured down to my scrap guide, cut out the drop pieces and tacked them in. I cut it back off, moved it around a bit, trimmed it a bit and eventually got it to sit pretty much where I wanted it (the ends of the frame are different lengths it turned out).
With it all tacked in, I cut off the scrap guide. With another piece of 2×4 tacked in between the two, I had a crossmember again. Next up was the frame for the radiator itself which the slam panel sits on. I took the angles off the inside of the wings (they have panels that bolt across) and set the angle on the saw to match. A crossbar and a few tacks and it was a complete piece. The X5 radiator had mounting tabs on the top edge, so I ended up making a crossbar for them, which I’ll eventually use to mount the fans from too. I cut the slam panel in a few places to make it easier to work out where it all had to sit so I’ll have to repair that too. Nothing too major tho.