The Big Freeze – Jeep Part 2

Time, that’s all we need is more time.

I had reached an interesting point in the project where the engine was in, some of the accessories were bolted into place and I was faced with a lot of wiring decisions to make and execute. Usually on a car project you can start feeling pretty darn good at this time as once wiring is done, its usually only a few more steps to firing the beast up and sealing the deal.

img_1217Anyone that was in the mid-Eastern United States from about the end of July to late September can tell you that this was a brutally hot and humid weather period. On a normal summer day, I might go through a couple of t-shirts but this time around 4-5 was more the norm than not. And anyone can tell you that it takes a ton out of you just to bend down and check the air pressure in a tire when the temperatures and humidity are staying that high too. So things slowed down a bit. I tried my best to either work on the Jeep early in the day or sometimes late at night, but that didn’t always work out.

But the real show stopper was another project. This one has been in the works for a very long time and is an upstairs area that was a walk-up attic. I started putting walls up, finishing flooring, installing electrical and insulation years ago but with other things taking a higher priority it was always a situation of working on it when I had some time or was just in the mood to mess with it. The finished area is about 750 sf and has a central room, dropped bedroom area and a small storage closet.

One of the things that was needed was finishing off the wallboard for the ceilings and the bedroom area. We had an opportunity to hire some people to take care of that and the snowball effect kind of took over. Unfortunately the people we hired were not very good at the actual finish work and while I am not great at it, it had to be done. There were endless days of putting mud on and sanding it off trying to get everything straight. Then more time for painting and finishing up a few electrical outlets. Next it had to be trimmed out along with getting that trim painted so that the carpet could be installed. Overall and pretty much right in the middle of this crazy weather, we spent about 8 weeks getting it to the carpet stage. This was also 8 weeks that the jeep project didn’t make progress.

So we fast-forward back to the Jeep and it’s a mad dash to figure out the new wiring that had to integrate with the old stuff. A lot of wire tracing and probing with a light tool was going on with sometimes the results just not making any sense. I finally reached the point where everything “seemed” to be ready to go, so our initial test was just spinning the engine over – and it did, continuously. The Chinese had struck again, a brand new starter solenoid sourced from Advance Auto Parts would engage, but not release. Each time I tried it the starter stayed engaged until I pulled the battery cable. So it was back to the store to exchange it for another one. The new one worked and I moved on to attempting to get the engine started. I filled the carb bowls with fuel, gave it a few squirts and hit the key, nothing. No pop, spit or any kind of attempt to fire up. Okay, we need fuel, air, compression and spark – that’s it and I was sure of the first three. So I took the number one spark plug wire and connected to my little homemade spark tester (an old spark plug welded to a ground clamp), spun the engine over and nothing. No spark – brand new Pertronix distributor out of the box. I decided maybe the coil was the issue, it too was a Pertronix piece to match the distributor. I borrowed a known good MSD coil and still – nothing. So I marked the distributor where I had it installed to make it easier to line it back up and pulled it out. I went through the wiring on it to see if anything had been knocked loose but no luck with that either. I then decided to set it up on the bench and test it there to see if I had made a wiring error but that didn’t produce any spark either. So it was arrange for the return of the defective one and obtain a new one. Round Two to the Chinese.


While waiting for the distributor to show up I moved on to finishing up the new gauge installation. I installed mechanical oil pressure and water temperature gauges replacing the factory supplied electric units that were basically non-functional. I also had the exhaust system to install. The engine was equipped with a set of Hedman Headers for the engine conversion and I obtained a 2″ exhaust kit from Speedway Motors and Turbo style mufflers from Jegs Automotive. There was some cutting and welding to be done getting things lined up and in place but overall the worst of if was finding room along the transaxle on the passenger side. It’s tight even for a two inch piece of pipe. The next piece that had to be reworked was the shifter mechanism. With the additional width of the V-8 engine, the original piece that translates the movement of the shifter to the transmission was about 5-6 inches wide. I cut it down to about 3 inches and welded it back together plus made a plate to hold the lever for the engine side.


At this point, everything that needed to be done was done – I just didn’t have any way to fire the engine.

Next: Where is that UPS guy??


Car Enthusiasts Forums

Over a long period of time, I have read and posted on a lot of different forum groups. All of them have been car related and either in the category of trying to provide someone help from my own knowledge or obtaining information about something that I am working on. There can be a wealth of information on some of them but others sometimes make you wonder where the car hobby is actually headed. It is the latter that has me really concerned.

Small Block Chevy – Jeep CJ5

Bad information is sometimes worse than no information at all, especially if it leads someone down an expensive path of mistakes with their own project. But like most things in this world, it seems that if you repeat it often enough and long enough then somewhere it becomes truth. Trying to challenge these “truths” can be quite the undertaking, almost to point of being Quixote in nature. I do try however whenever I can to gently and nicely straighten out someone’s misinformed mindset. Maybe if I just save one? I am never really sure that I am successful but at least I get an “E” for effort I suppose. As an example, one of the more entertaining rants followed another forum poster’s extremely well done installation of a remote filter and oil cooler installation. I have actually used this information to provide this upgrade to my own JDM (Japanese Domestic Manufacturer) vehicle along with two others. Uninformed individuals swore up and down that this upgrade would destroy the engine, that the engine’s oil pump would break and that the cooler oil would wreck havoc upon the engine. Overall, a lot of nonsense. Anyone that has a sports model of these vehicles, one that has an oil temperature gauge (whoa, wait a minute – the manufacturer thought that an oil temperature gauge was important on a sports model – maybe there is something to this?) understands that keeping the oil temperature within a certain range is important to the life of the engine. It doesn’t take but a small amount of vigorous driving to push the oil temperature upward very quickly. Hotter oil is thinner and therefore more at risk of allowing that dreaded metal-to-metal contact that is so detrimental to the internals of an engine. But according to those other individuals, the pump was never designed to push oil through lines and coolers and such, it would surely snap the oil pump’s driveshaft at the worse possible moment. But did any of them notice that the factory offers a kit to do the same exact thing? That the factory does not offer a bigger, heavier oil pump? Maybe we can put two and two together? Nope – doesn’t happen. This information about the install was posted about 5 years ago and to this day still gets negative posts in response.

And that leads me to the next thing in this hobby. While I certainly understand some hesitation in trying something for the first time or the thought that if this messes up, it’s going to be expensive to fix – I don’t see a lot of people venturing into the unknown. And I am starting to see this as a cultural thing. I don’t want to buy that aftermarket hot rod part without being completely convinced that it is going to fit perfectly without me having to do anything else. This appears to be the mantra of the new style hot rodder. Even the ones that should know better have suddenly picked this up recently. A post I just read last night was along the lines of, “I want to put a Chevrolet LS engine in my classic mid-50’s Chevrolet, but I don’t want any problems and I see that no one makes the pre-bent fuel supply lines now.” “What do I do now?”  Well, I guess your quest for a late model powered mid-50’s vehicle just came to a screaming halt. To me, there is something wrong here but I am often reminded that this is “okay”. And I guess it is in the general sense of things. Inside, I am sorry this person cannot proceed however maybe it’s better that they didn’t bother too. I don’t have the answer, I am just happy that I am not that type of person.


Mustang – Left Turn, no maybe the Right Turn?

Progress on this Mustang project is slow, well maybe slow is not the exact word – almost at a halt would probably be far more accurate. Recently my son decided to move to another house which meant we needed to pack up everything and that included the Mustang of course. Good news is that we were able to finally drag a lot of the leftover stuff to the curb and dispose of it, bad news was it was a real pain to get the car moved from one location to another – and it was only about 2 miles between them.

Just to keep it short, it took us three attempts to finally rent one of those small tow dolly deals to even start getting the car moved. Our first two shots at it and both of the dollys were broken and could not be used, then we had to wait a few days which meant we had to borrow a pickup from a good friend. Then all the tires on the car were flat so it was a nice little drill to remove, inflate and replace them. Getting it ON the dolly was an experience that I do not want to repeat, nor was getting it off the dolly and into it’s new home. But at the end of the day or week – it was finally there.

So, left turn, right turn? In the last post on this project I talked about switching the 302 from fuel injection to carburetor. That still left us with the stock Ford AOD mess of a transmission, so after some searching around a GM Powerglide can be used by installing an adapter plate – okay. But then it was kind of why stop there, we were already talking about stroking the little 302 to get more cubes out of it but we were still short of a normal 350 Chevy engine without all of the extra work. So – and here is where the Ford purists will start screaming – I decided to go the whole deal – a small block Chevy and Powerglide transmission – no adapter plate required. Yes, motor mounts have to be built – not a biggie and a transmission mount too – again, no biggie. Bottomline is that I can build a stout little Chevy in my sleep at this point, we have spare stuff and it allows us to share information among all four of the race cars. I also have the small block Chevy – complete motor – so the costs just went down significantly.

Early hot rodders used to swap powerplants to gain an advantage over the competition. I am not sure we are really doing that here but it makes sense to me to stick with something we know and have on hand. Plus I believe we have just made a major leap forward in the progress on this project.

hot-rod-engine-swap-liftThis picture courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine shows a ’50s rodder swapping a Cadillac engine into his fairly new 1956 Chevy.