1957 Chevy Restoration "The Godfather" Part 2

1957 Chevy Restoration "The Godfather" Part 2 - Floor Pan Repair

       To keep the build articles in the correct order we’ll backtrack a little and show you how we were able to get the floor panel repairs accomplished with ease. Back in the late 60’s when I first built this gasser, no concern was given to the size “Hole” cut in the floorboard for the trans shifter. I went with the “one Size Fits Japan” approach and just hacked it out to about 10”x20”. I must have been thinking that at some point in time I may want to remove the transmission from the interior of the car…  Silly me. Photos 1-2

   I was going to purchase the replacement trans hump repair panel (obviously I wasn’t the only one to hack out the floorboard like a glass bottom boat) till I saw the price. Luckily, I only cut out the flat area and didn’t need the floor contours that the new panel had. This allowed me to go out and get a piece of sheet metal the size I needed and just shape it to the curved floorboard

     Eastwood has these handy clamps that hold and position the sheet metal panels for welding. I found that once I cut the panel close to the size I needed I could fasten one side and curve the metal over and draw my cut lines as needed. This worked VERY well since I had to bend the panel as I went. The clamps tabs are the perfect width and space the panels at the correct distance apart to ensure a great weld. It took me awhile to attain that “Great Weld” part only because I tried to weld ½ inch or more at a time instead of tacking small spots all over. I finally got the hang of it and stitched the panel in. I must say that the Lincoln Mig Welder was very easy to operate and I got the hang of it quickly. If I had practiced a little more and not jumped into it I would have saved myself some grinding and re-welding. I will get Eastwoods magnetic Copper Butt-Weld Backer plates to use as a hands-free backing support in the future. They go on the back-side and help you make better and easier welds - especially when your welding holes. Photos 3-8

Eastwood Clamp Info

      Innovative panel-alignment clamps make it easier for you to position flat or curved panels for precise butt welds. Intergrip panel-alignment clamps work like miniature butt-weld clamps that align panels edge to edge and surface to surface, leaving an ideal 0.040” gap for full weld penetration. Clamp the sections together, tack weld, and remove the Intergrip welding clamps for final welding. The result is a clean butt weld that requires little grinding, and is less likely to trap moisture.

* Miniature butt-weld clamps align panels edge to edge and surface to surface with the appropriate 0.040” gap

* Helps you produce clean welds with minimal grinding

* Intergrip welding clamps are a must for long-lasting panel repairs

* Easy 3-step process

Hanging the front suspension

      Classic Performance Products supplied the front-end rebuild kit we’re installing today which included the upper and lower Control Arm bushings and Ball joints. I want to restore the Godfather as close to original as possible. I had installed ball joint spacers in the late 60’s, they were cast aluminum but after 30 some years are now pitted and dirty. I searched on the internet to see if I could score some NOS spacers like I had - NOT the C clamp type - They were prone to breaking and I believe NHRA outlawed them. Photos 11-14

 Ball Joint Spacer Info

     I scored by locating Roger Valente from West Orange, NJ on e-bay. He manufactures and sells these spacers that have not been produced in over 40 years! These are brand new and fit all `55 to `70 Chevys. They are designed to allow the front end of the vehicle to rise further under acceleration and deliver a better weight ratio to the rear tires. It allows the front end to rise as much as 6” under hard acceleration for maximum weight transfer. They can be used for street or strip. These are made from 6061-t6 aircraft quality billet aluminum. These are cad designed, CNC. The kit comes with all grade 8 bolts and hardware and instructions. They do not change the stand still height of the car or the normal driving height of the car. They are $89.95 plus shipping. You can reach Roger at 973-752-9261 or E-mail hotchevy60@aol.com. Tell him Cruisin’ Style sent ya. Roger says they take 20-30 minutes a side… Photo 15


Installing the Ball Joints and spacers

      I can believe that if you are just assembling the parts as I am. Will take a little longer if you have to start from scratch.

     We pressed in the upper and lower control arm bushings and then bolted the ball joints and upper ball joint spacers on. Let me tell you - this is much easier working on a bear frame then with the fenders and engine in place. Photo 16

      Here’s a nifty trick to install the upper control arm bump stop - you can press this on as hard as you can all day and it will not pop onto the hole. It only took me a half-day to find that out… To remedy the problem I put a very small notch on the plug just like on a self tapping sheet metal screw and then just twisted it in - worked like a charm.

      With the ball joints and spacer installed I went on to the installation of the dreaded coil springs. Coil springs can kill you if you do not use extreme caution in their installation. First I attached the lower ball joint to the spindle turning down the castellated nut to cover all threads but to leave extra room so I could attach the upper ball joint and then just tighten the nuts to draw them together. I used my coil spring compressor and then placed the spring in place and lifted up the lower control arm with a floor jack. I was at a disadvantage because there is almost no weight on the bare frame to give you a little advantage or stability. I did not like how much compression I had to use with my 40 year old tool so I ran a chain from the frame to the lower control arm to keep the spring in place “Just in case”. I WILL get a new coil spring compressor before I attempt to replace coils again. That done I installed the 90-10 front shocks supplied by Mr. Gasket.

         Next month... Front disk brakes supplied by Classic Performance Products, side motor mounts, rear suspension including Lakewood Traction Bars and J -bolts... CSM


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

Classic Performance Products 800-760-8541 http://classicperform.com



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