1957 Chevy Restoration "The Godfather" Part 1

1957 Chevy Restoration  "The Godfather" Part 1 -

      Almost 40 years after I first purchased the `57, I finally took the body off the frame. I didn’t start out to do a frame-off restoration many years ago; all I wanted at that time was to build a “Race” car. I had been running my pure stock `68 GTO and was tired of changing it from street to strip each weekend. I raced my`57 in the F/Gas and G/Modified production classes. With the 265 CI engine (272 punched out), the only thing that left the line before me was a VW… little did I know that gassers of that time period would be so popular now.

I’m building the `57 as close to “how it was” in late `69. Recently I had Jamie Frankland set up the 5:86 gears with a spool for the Olds rear. When I got it back, I got under the car and looked at everything for a minute and I said, “I didn’t work on this 38 years ago when it was dirty and I’m not going to do it now”. You see, back in the late 60’s, I rented a one-car garage and propped the car up on stands. I scrapped all the undercoating and grease off the underside and painted the frame and floor pans black. A song popular at that time was “Drove My Chevy To The Levy…” and I got a kick out of singing it as I scrapped and scraped. After many, many cans of black aerosol paint and one very sore finger, it was all nice and clean. To this day, I still get a kick every time I hear that tune on the radio and I still smell the kerosene heaters. Now after 40 years, the `57 had a layer of road grime and some surface rust so I decided to clean it up a bit.

One fact that I have come to realize is I now need taller jack stands! You figure it out. Anyway, taller jack stands, or take the body off and have full access to the frame and body? As you can tell I went for door number two. I ordered a rotisserie Auto Twirler and after I raised the body off the frame I attached it to the Auto Twirler. Next time I’ll look at the directions and read the part where they say “it’s important to center and balance the body”. It seems that if you ignore this very good advice, you’ll find that the body can be VERY top heavy.The body is off and as you can see the frame doesn’t look all that bad. The paint I applied back then was flaking off but it did protect the metal for all those years. Take notice of the Olds rear sitting in place – neat! The Olds rear was the poor mans choice of rears ends because of the thicker axles and stronger center section. I did purchase Strange Engineering race axles and they were still installed. Someone changed out my spool and gear set and replaced it with a 3:08 posi unit. The axles and posi unit looked brand new! Remember, this car sat in a barn since about 1973 until friends found it in 1995 and I dragged it back to Florida. It sat in my garage until now. Sorry guys, the posi unit went for around $650.

I dissembled the frame; pressure washed it, and applied Gem Rust Killer it dissolves rust, converting it into iron phosphate, forming a tough undercoating which inhibits rerusting. Easy to use, brush or spray, no wash off necessary.. Then you can remove them by lightly brushing with a wire brush: just pour some in a plastic spray bottle and spray it all over. Then let it set over night and the next day all the rust will be black and neutralized. Wear the appropriate eye & skin & nasal protection. Then I used Extreme Chassis Black Primer from Eastwood as it promotes better adhesion and durability on clean, bare, metal surfaces. This epoxy-fortified primer is the perfect foundation for their Extreme Chassis Black. It’s an epoxy formulation that offers improved solvent, brake fluid, chip, scratch and corrosion resistance. You need to wait 15-20 minutes between coats of Extreme Chassis Black and it can be re-coated at any time without lifting. Extreme Chassis Black can be scuffed but not sanded.

Since Eastwood has a great deal on spray guns, I ordered a Devilbiss FinishLine Auto Painting System with Large and Small HVLP Guns. It’s called the Devilbiss Paint Gun Starter Kit. Devilbiss offers a smarter alternative to no-name guns. The set I received included a large HVLP gravity spray gun with 1.3mm fluid tip for top coats, extra 1.8mm fluid tip for primers and heavier materials, and a 600 cc (20 oz) gravity cup (requires 13 cfm at 30 psi) mini- HVLP detail spray gun with a 1.0mm fluid tip. 130 cc (4 oz) gravity cup (requires 8 cfm at 30 psi) tool kit and accessories. It even came in a molded case with a handle. This combo is a fine addition to anyone’s garage or shop. Coming soon... I’m leaning towards moving the leaf springs to the center of the frame rails to allow the use of larger tires. I have photos of the original tires and wheels and could see the markings on the M&H tires. I called M&H and inquired about what size they were. I couldn’t believe that they even called the retired owner to research the info for me. They even supplied me with the compound specs! I didn’t remember that the tread was 8 inches. I think I had 15-inch rims all around: 4” in the front and 7's in the back. I’ll put Cragars all around and get as close to the original size tire as I can. Maybe down the road, I’ll need the extra space that the frame mounted leaf springs will allow.



Eastwood 800-343-9353 http://www.eastwood.com

Auto Twirler 435-752-3921 http://autotwirler.com

Gem Rust Killer - Balandis Chemical Company 713-723-6524 http://gemrustkiller.com


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