Project Introduction

Project Introduction

Roughly a few decades back, I purchased my first 1955 Chevy. It was a pure stock, 4 door model with a 265 cubic inch motor and automatic transmission. The purpose of the car was for my girlfriend to have something to drive back and forth to school. I think we paid $175 for the car from a used car lot, but the car had vacuum windshield wipers on it and she hated driving it whenever it rained so it didn’t stay around too long. We had some fun cleaning it up and drove it for most of that summer and there’s no doubt that it was actually a pretty decent car.

Next up was a mess of a car that was a combination of sheet-metal and attending paint colors that all combined summed up the next ‘55 Chevy we owned. This one was actually spotted by my wife who was that girlfriend in the previous paragraph, not too long after we had seen the Two Lane Blacktop movie. And of course I was just positive I could turn it into that car on the screen. This particular car had parts from just about anything and everything that you could imagine. Wood 2×4’s were used under the bucket seats that came from something unknown so that you could see out the windshield and the radio was haunted. Kind of like that Christine movie thing, it would turn itself on and off, change stations, play weird songs, all of it very strange. The motivation for this one was a 350/4 speed Muncie transmission deal. The car was actually pretty quick and we enjoyed driving it around although I am sure the seven different paint colors on it made other motorists rather nervous. My wife and I still talk about the times that we would take our baby son to the drive-in, put a blanket on the hood and set him between us. We were dead-broke most of the time, but it sure is funny how we still managed to have a good time. I enjoyed that car probably more than any other that I have ever owned. Of course sometimes those long rear views can have a touch of romantic nonsense that can make it seem better than it really was at the time but none the less, we were doing a-okay.

A bit later on I had the notion that I wanted a full time drag car and the ‘55 was going to be it. We put a hotter cam in the engine, cut two coils off the front end (no, I don’t know why!), replaced the side glass with plexiglass and that was about the extent of the modifications. I would fire up the car on Saturday morning to check it out while every lawnmower in the neighborhood was running, but within about 15 minutes I would have another visit from the local authorities, compliments of a really nice neighbor down the street. We flat towed the car to the drag strip and normally spent our day there chasing one problem or the other. Most of the time the car ran great in the driveway at home, but by the time we got it to the strip we had used up all of our luck. After about one summer of this, I had tired of the “fun” and we had also decided to sell our place and move. The real estate person suggested that we might have better luck if we ditched the weird looking car in the driveway, so I pulled the engine then towed it to a local junkyard and turned over the title. The house sold just a few weeks later, but I’ll never know if getting rid of the car had anything to do with it or not.

So that brings us up to now and how did I manage to end up with another ‘55 Chevy? Well, about 20 years ago I thought that getting into street rodding would be fun, but I wasn’t quite ready to make the jump into the really old vintage tin stuff. However, the 50’s stuff was looking like fun so I found a ‘49 Ford. The only problem I ever had with it was that I wanted it to be a ‘55 Chevy. That’s just a bit difficult as you might imagine. So after having done very little with the ‘49, I decided it was time to sell it and just let the whole street rod type deal go by the wayside. I placed an ad in the local trader paper and to my surprise was contacted almost immediately. During the transaction, I was asked why I was selling the car and I simply said that I really wanted a ‘55 Chevy, but that I also knew that anything decent was completely out of my price range. The person that was buying the ‘49 surprised me by telling me that they happened to own one and wanted to sell it too. We worked out a trade of cars at that point and I found myself owning my third and final 1955 Chevy. This one is a 210 model, 2 door post ~ identical to the model used in the Two Lane Blacktop movie (and of course American Graffiti). I cannot believe my luck in finding one of these and while it certainly is in need of work, it’s no worse that the Ford that I let go, besides, it’s a ‘55 Chevy!!

The build plans call for a large motor, automatic, decent performance that can maybe cruise to the ice cream shop yet do some fun duty at the strip on a Friday night. My wife accused me one time of being a teenager that had never grown up – she’s actually dead right and there’s no arguing the point. But she’s also that same pretty girlfriend that I bought that first ‘55 for -so I think we’re going to be a-okay.

Project Burnout

There is actually a psyche reason for your lack of enthusiasm and it is not uncommon so first off, don’t feel like you’re alone and second stop beating yourself up about it. Some people have mentioned the heat, humidity, freezing air, lack of funds, wife/girlfriend bitchin and so on. All of these add to the pressure that you already put on yourself. And even though you can see a lot of things that you have accomplished, the pile is still just sitting there and your brain actually starts it’s own questions about the project that you are not even conscious about. 

A couple of things that can help you get back to it. Our reasons for doing a project can be numerous – we want to enjoy our hobby, we want to build a car and flip it to start another better project, we want to hang with our buddies and their rides, we want to see the performance improvements, we want to take our wife/girlfriend for an ice cream and prove her wrong. You need to sit with a beverage and spend a few minutes here – what was your reason for the project and has it changed? That process can sometimes rekindle the enthusiasm aspect but rarely will it be enough to keep things going but you need to know your reason. Another thing that helps is if you have any like-minded friends that might come over and give a hand with it. Sometimes having someone else around, even if they’re not mechanically inclined lets you bounce ideas or give you the chance to explain to them why you’re doing some particular item on the car that you’re proud of. You can also make yourself a project sheet, again with the beverage sit down and make a list of all the things that you planned on doing with the project, include the items that are done or partially done. You can break up the list in sections if you wish – engine, body, interior, wiring, etc. and you can do this in a notebook or a pad of paper. Then after you have it all written down, go through and check off the things that are completed – this signals the brain again on accomplishments. Work on your project in small sections and stay with that section until it is completed or as completed as you can take it to at that point. And one last item, move the project if you can manage it. Physically change the position of the project in your work space. This one simple move will give you a completely new perspective on your project.

The last two items are the ones that I use the most when I get a bit of burn-out. My current project is moving slowly but I have put together some assemblies and I have moved the car twice.  Good luck with yours and I hope some of this has helped you out.

Bracket Monza – ReWorked

Started on the lean-out valve setup. I had to do a bit of planning to figure out where I will mount it so it can be easily reached while strapped in. I finally decided that a position next to the floor pinch-weld would work and keep it out of my way. I will need to come up with a mounting for the valve, thinking a small piece of metal welded to it and then bolted down will suffice. I am going to use some Russell braided flex hose as that’s what I have on hand. Lean-out valves have to be -8 AN size as anything smaller doesn’t pass enough air to work very well. I decided to put a bulkhead fitting in the firewall both for safety and not wanting to pass the flex hose through a cut hole. On the engine side, it was a matter of figuring out where on the manifold to drill and tap a hole for the AN fitting. I decided on the driver’s side of the carb mounting and will run a 90* fitting with the hose going back towards the firewall.

Simple 3/8″ Ball Valve
AN-8 Fitting Installed

My next piece of work is going to be a home made primer system. If you’re not familiar with running Methanol, it can be a real dog to get fired up when the engine is cold and when the air temperature is below 50*, it’s even worse. So after years of beating on starter drives, catching carbs on fire from time to time and sucking a gallon or two of alky trying to get some heat in the engine, I am finally surrendering and going the easy route. I have no idea of why I have waited so long to do so.

I found a one litre fuel tank that will bolt in nicely on the support frame for the glass frontend and I will be using -4 stainless braided line to run to another AN fitting under the carburetor. Different setups use various pieces to spray the fuel into manifold but I want to keep it as simple as possible. Right now I am looking at putting a gas carburetor jet inside a AN -4 fitting to act as a spray nozzle. Not sure if that will work but I need something to “spray” the fuel and not just dump it under the carburetor. Behind that will be a one way valve and then the hose line will connect to the output side of a simple 12v generator fuel pump. The inlet side of the pump will of course be connected to the fuel tank. The pump will be operated from a momentary switch that is already part of our switch panel in the car. I believe the jetted fitting will do the job of “spraying” the fuel into the manifold. The operating sequence for this is simple. When I am ready to fire the engine, I will hold the momentary switch for 2-3 seconds to put regular gas in the manifold, spin the engine over and then turn on the ignition. Even on the colder days, the engine should fire up even if it takes a couple of attempts, far easier than the old routine.

Bracket Monza – Reworked – II

Did a bit more work on the lean-out valve and getting closer to finishing it. Finished putting the AN fitting in the intake manifold. I had stuffed it with sales flyers from the supermarket, taped it until I was sure no metal shavings could get into the plenum and once I drilled and tapped the hole, ran the daylights out of my shop vac cleaning and cleaning…. it’s amazing what an expensive race engine will make you do!

I then drilled the firewall for the bulkhead fitting and mounted it. I still need to weld a bracket to the ball valve and while I am going to use the Russell flex hose in the cockpit, I decided to use a piece of Stainless Steel hose on the engine side. I need to make up both of those hoses, but I like to get everything mounted where it’s going to be before making the hoses.

I moved on to changing out the rear end lube so that I can wrap up the work at the rear of the car. My wife just loves the smell of that stuff too so I caught a bit of flak when she got home. Oh well, not like I do it every day. The drain plug on the rear end had a drip in it that was driving me crazy but I think I got it this time. 3-4 wraps of Teflon tape (the good stuff, not that thin junk Lowes sells) and some Teflon paste over top of it and I haven’t see a drop out of it for hours now. Dropped in two quarts of Valvoline Synthetic 75w140 and she’s good to go.

Next is doing a little bit of filling in the backside edges of the rear fender panels to keep rocks from getting under the slicks. A number of the tracks I visit have their share of gravel in the pits and toting pebbles up to the staging area is not unheard of. I also need to finish off the end plates on the rear wing of the car. I had some on it before but I didn’t like the looks of them so I removed them. I also built four braces for the wing using some aluminum, hardened tubing and clips. A kit cost about $150-$170, I built what I needed for $15. The last couple of items that I need to get done is a piece of tubing for the rear end vent and I have a couple of places where the aluminum tin paneling around the cage tubing has some gap in it. I want to fill that to try and reduce the tire smoke coming in the car.

The weather was hot and humid today so staying out in that mess and getting anything done was tough on the old body. I made a bunch of little work episodes out of it and got the hoses made and mounted. I still need to make the bracket for the valve but I have the valve in the position I want so it worked out okay. I tend to like to break the welder out when I have multiple pieces of work to do. Right now I need to make some string light holders for going around the swimming pool, I need to do some welding and cutting on the ’55 front end piece and I need to weld a bracket to this valve.

I put the carb back together after making a few changes that I hope will work out. i really need to get the idle leaned out on this deal, its way too rich. I decided to make a switch on the spacer I am using. We have one of the anti-reversion units under the carb now but I want to try an open hole spacer and see what happens. If I get a chance an A-B-A test would be nice.

I also received the fuel tank I am going to use for the primer system today. Not bad really and it’s going to work just fine as soon as I figure out the whole spray deal going into the intake plenum. I am thinking now of placing a gas jet in the line just as it enters the intake so something else I have to do a little engineering on.

Brake Bleeder How To

You’ve probably used something similar in the past or maybe every time you need to bleed the brake system, you have to get someone help you with the chore. I built a brake bleeder for just a few dollars and it’s a huge assist in getting the brake bleeding done when I am working on the car by myself.

Brake Bleeder

Parts Required:

Jar or bottle with a screw on top
Piece of solid brake tubing
Rubber hose that fits the tubing
JB Weld

Tools Needed:

Drill bits, 3/16″ and one the size of the tubing

I found a suitable jar at the Dollar Store for $2, the brake tube, rubber hose and JB Weld were on hand. Even if you had to purchase those items, you are probably under a total of $10.

The first step is drilling the holes. The first one for the piece of brake tube should be in the center of the lid. The second which serves as both the vent when in use and storage for the rubber hose can be placed where it is convenient. The next item is using the JB Weld to hold the brake tube in place. I used a clothes pin on the bottom of the lid to keep the tube in place while it dried. Just make sure that you have the bottom of the tube about a half inch or so off the bottom of the container. You want to be able to see the air bubbles escaping while bleeding the brakes. I didn’t want the tube to come loose either so I used JB Weld on the top and bottom of the lid around the tube – I wasn’t very neat about it either.

Brake Bleeder with old, used brake fluid

Using the bleeder is simple. First you want to put enough clean fluid in the container that it covers the bottom of the tube by at least a 1/4″ when it is sitting on a level surface. The other end of the hose will connect to the bleeder fitting. You just crack open the bleeder fitting, then slowly pump the brake pedal. Depending on your system, you can probably pump the pedal 3-4 times before needing to refill the master cylinder with fluid. The beauty of this system is that you can watch the bubbles escape the system and as you release the brake pedal, brake fluid is drawn back into the fitting keeping you from pulling air into the system. This basically replaces having to open and close the brake fitting between pumping the brake pedal.

When you are finished with the bleeding job, place the used fluid in something that you can take to your recycle center. Never reuse old brake fluid, the damage to the system isn’t worth the cost of a pint of brake fluid.

And a shameless plug here but if you would like to have one of these but are not so interested in building your own, they are now available in my store. Just click the Store button at the top of any page to purchase your own.

Old brake fluid

I hope you enjoy this little item and please share the article with your friends.

The Valve Lash Story

If you want to start an argument, walk up to a bunch of racers and ask the BEST method of setting valve lash on an engine – bring your chair and popcorn because it can be quite entertaining.

Hot, cold, running, dead silent, EO/IC, firing order, aluminum heads, hydraulic, solids, roller rockers or stock rockers – the list and variations are lengthy. Heck even this article will probably generate some heat just from people reading it. One of the main things that you need to do is decide what’s best for your engine. If it’s a mild, stockish engine then setting valve lash is probably not even a concern for you. But if you have a engine that is pushing the edges of stay togetherness then valve lash is an important art. It can also help you analyze whether the cam you have in the engine is the one the engine really wants for your current combination.

I used the EO/IC lash technique in the past and if you’re not familiar with it, it means Exhaust Opening / Intake Closing. The idea is that on the cylinder you are setting lash on, you watch the exhaust valve as you turn the engine over, either by hand or with a bump switch connected to the starter. When the exhaust valve just starts to open, you can then check the lash setting on the Intake valve. Next you cycle the engine again and watch for the intake valve to just start closing, then set the lash on the exhaust valve. All is good save for the fact that some of the newer “close-lash” cams and even the old Duntov cam for Small Block Chevy motors can leave you with valves that are a bit closer to the piston that you suspect. In most high performance engines the biggest issue is the piston chasing the exhaust valve as it closes down. Normal rule of thumb is that we want to keep about .100 inch between those two items.

My preference in valve lash setting is to bring up each cylinder to TDC, then adjust the valve lash on both intake and exhaust valves, then move to the next cylinder. Some people say that this takes much longer than the EO/IC method but I don’t think it does and you can use it on any engine, from a single cylinder unit to a 12 cylinder Ferrari engine. The catch for a lot of people is that they do not have the crank damper marked in 90 segments or they can’t read it very well. I have resolved that issue with a homemade tool and it allows me to set all of the cylinders on one side of the engine, then move to the other side and set all of those cylinders. It has shortened the time for a valve lash job and I find that I do it more often now which is certainly a good thing. Of course this is engine specific but for the cost of an old distributor cap, you can make your own tool.

Valve Lash Setting Tool

I took an old distributor cap and using a hole saw cut out the center of it behind the plug posts. I then took a parts marker and marked each post with it’s cylinder number on both sides according to the firing order of the engine. Once this is in place, I simply watch the distributor rotor and when it points to the cylinder I want to check lash on (or run a leakdown test on) I’m ready to go. I can be on one side of the engine and check cylinders 1, 3, 5 & 7 then move to the other side and check 2, 4, 6 & 8. As I said it goes fairly quickly. In the photo above, the rotor is pointing at the number 3 cylinder, which indicates that it is at TDC.

Keeping a check on valve lash in a performance engine can give you a warning that something is going wrong or even point out that something has gone wrong. Late last year, I ran the lash on one of our SBC engines and found that I had broken the exhaust spring on the number 2 cylinder the previous weekend. Just another item in your maintenance arsenal to help keep that expensive engine running it’s best.

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Oil Change Tips

I just finished changing the oil and filter on one of our daily drivers and realized that over the years I have changed up the way that I perform the work to make it as hassle free as I can, yet still save money doing it myself.

Given that I changed the oil and filter on my first ride over 50 years ago, it’s probably not strange that I have changed a few of my habits but there are still a few items that I stick to no matter what happens. The main one and a lesson I learned from my Dad was if you’re changing the oil, you change the filter. As he said one time, “why would you add a quart of dirty oil to the clean oil?” He’s correct of course and for the cost of a quart of oil and filter, it doesn’t make any sense to not change the filter with the oil change.

My favorite tools at the moment for changing oil are rather basic:

  • Correct sized wrench for the oil drain plug
  • 15 Quart drain pan with a drain nozzle
  • Large pair of water pump pliers
  • Good sized funnel
  • Clean rag or paper towels
  • 5 Gallon metal can with cap

A couple of those items might need an explanation. I need the 15 quart drain pan to handle the diesel truck I have. The engine takes 13 quarts with another 2 quarts in the filter. If you do not have this situation then a smaller drain pan can be used, I would get one with at least an 8-10 quart capacity just to avoid spillage. I use the large water pump pliers to remove about 95% of the filters that I change. I got tired of filter wrenches that slip, bend, break or simply can’t get a filter off. The water pump pliers have not failed me yet. And you don’t need anything expensive but make sure to get some that will fit the largest filter you think you will encounter. If you prefer a specific tool for the job then I have to recommend Texton Oil Filter Pliers. They make tools that last and do the job right, they will be the last pair of oil filter pliers you ever need to purchase. The last item is the 5 gallon metal can with a cap. I drain all of my old oil into the metal can and when full, I recycle the oil at my local center. Trying to use the old 4 or 5 quart bottles that the oil came in is an option but I just prefer the metal can and it’s a number of oil changes before I need to empty it. A good source for the cans is a automotive paint and body repair. A lot of thinners come in 5 gallon cans – they usually have a few empties sitting around and just one will last you a very long time.

And speaking of 5 quart containers – a lot of oil today comes in that size versus the previous 4 quart containers. But what if you have an engine that only takes 4 quarts? My little tip for this is easy. Prior to pouring the fresh oil in the engine, I look at the side of the container – almost always marked with quart and litre numbers. If I need to put 4 quarts in the engine, I sit the container on a level service, take a Sharpie marker and mark the “1 Quart” mark. This way I can pour the fresh oil in the engine and as I get most of it in, I can keep bringing the container upright and checking the Sharpie mark at a glance. When I am finished, I take that Sharpie again and write the name of the vehicle on it (we have a couple of daily drivers) before putting it on the shelf. At the next oil change and assuming I haven’t had to use any of that left-over oil, I put that single quart in first and then mark the new container at the “2 Quart” mark. One quart from the old container and three quarts from the new one. Eventually I will end up with a container that has 4 quarts in it and then I start over again.

While I am under the hood or under the car, I take a look around to see if any issues are developing and check fluids, topping up things as needed. The last thing I do is to record the oil change. There are a number of ways to do this; you can keep a little notebook in the glovebox or the manufacturer may have provided a maintenance guide, you can create a spreadsheet on your computer or in my case I use a specific software to track maintenance and repairs. I use Automotive Wolf – a good program that gives you a lot of options and is very reasonably priced. If you have a lot of vehicles to keep up with, it’s worth the few dollars.

My last tip is a website that I recently found. Are you not sure of how much oil or when you should change it? Try this site:

So that’s it for my oil change tips. If you enjoyed this article please share it!

RV Repairs

Along with getting a variety of projects done, both large and small plus getting “Project ShoeString” moving along, there is also the need to get ready for next season. That’s where some work on the RV is essential. Our rig is a 2008 Forest River unit that is 32.5 feet long, uses a Ford chassis and Ford V-10 engine. Towing our 28 foot race trailer, the RV actually does a good job of it although our excursions into the mountainous areas has been limited to a few runs out to Bristol, Tennessee. Over the years that we have owned it, a number of things have happened. Small accidents have left it marked with damage, bits and pieces have failed and at times it has been neglected for long periods of time. I have a short list of items that need repair and a separate list of items that need maintenance. With the recent nice weather, I have tackled a couple of items that include repairing the fresh water tank and re-working the water supply system so that it is easier to maintain and hopefully a bit quieter. The water tank developed a small leak that took quite a bit of time just to discover it’s location. Unfortunately it was on the bottom of the tank so the entire supply system had to be removed, the cover door for the basement bay had to be taken off and then the tank was pulled out. This is a 75 gallon tank that rests on a plastic supporting framework with a piece of OSB between them. The OSB didn’t stand a chance against a long term water leak and was thoroughly soaked and rotted. I repaired the small leak I found in the tank with a soldering iron, melting some plastic into the small hole and then covering the entire area with a generous coating of clear silicone. To help the adhesion of the silicone, I roughed up the area around the leak with 220 grit sandpaper. A new piece of plywood (not OSB) coated with two coats of oil based porch paint on both sides should hold up a bit better should we have any leaks in the future. My next move is to put the water supply system back in which includes the water pump in a fashion that makes a bit more sense than the helter-skelter version that was factory original. I also wanted to find a method of isolating the vibrations of the water pump and am searching for a large piece of dense rubber.

The next item is the electric steps. These have been repaired in the past when they suddenly popped out on a two lane back road and caught the side of a bridge piling. It wiped out both steps and bent the arms badly plus broke the plastic trim piece around the steps and damaged some of the lower body work on the coach. I was able to find the repair parts I needed for the steps and put those back together, but I had to purchase the trim piece from the dealer and have yet to do the body work. That is going to take a small amount of fiberglass work along with some touch up painting. This time around the connection between the step slide mechanism and the motor came loose and the electric motor actually cracked into two pieces. I find it almost funny that the various RV repair part vendors online wanted hundreds of dollars for a replacement motor when it is nothing more than a power window motor from a car or truck. The trick is to find out which car or truck matches your step motor. A really good source for this information is Bob’s Guides. I was able to find out that for my steps, the power window motor from a 1992 Ford Bronco was a good fit. I had to drill the mounting holes out to the next larger bit size and mount the GM style connector to the wiring harness but it was a bolt-in after those mods. And, it only cost me $32 including the shipping plus the motor is brand new, not a rebuilt one.

Another RV item is basement lighting and by that I mean 12 volt lights in the basement compartments. I only had one compartment that had a light in it and when I needed to find something in the others at night, I had to make sure I had a flashlight with me. I purchased four plastic lights with on/off switches from Amazon for about $20 and plan to run them off of the engine battery. I have additional compartments on the RV but I put them in the compartments that I normally use for storage items and I also put one in the power bay. It will be nice not having to fish around in the dark for a power connection in the future. I plan to simply string all the lights together, run the power side of the circuit through an inline fuse and connect it directly to the engine battery. The engine battery tends to stay in better condition than the coach batteries so I can count on having light available when I need it.

A few other items that are going to be addressed before winter is a good wash and wax job, the yearly roof inspection, clear coating the headlights, and replacement of the vinyl strip that covers the roof binding connection. It just looks ugly. Hopefully before the weather catches me, I can get that body work done and maybe shoot a little touch up paint.

And lastly – that’s Theo in the lead picture, one of our Yorkies riding shotgun as we left Galot Motorsports Park in N.C. and headed home last year.

RV Repairs – Part II

Looking back over the previous post about repairs, I actually feel rather good. I got a few more things done, but not all of them that I had on my list. Right now in central Virginia, we are closing in on late November and the weather is getting colder almost by the day so there are some items that will just have to wait until spring time.

Lights in the basement compartments were a priority for me since it was getting to be a real headache trying to find things in the dark. All of those are finished now and it was certainly worth the work involved. Also in the area of lighting, I switched out some but not all of the lighting inside the RV to LEDs. The main reason was to provide some level of lighting but not burn the batteries down so badly using the normal incandescent bulbs. I also had to make a few minor repairs as the sprayer for the kitchen sink snapped in half and a few of the glass panels in the cabinets had started to come loose. I guess the rock and roll of the RV takes it toll on everything bolted down.

I have a few more things that I can get done this winter, but it will be limited. I have already winterized the unit for the off-season and the engine battery had to be replaced just as we entered the Fall season. On our trip out to Bristol in July, I had an issue with what I thought was the transmission shuddering but it has turned out to be related to the engine and the coil-on-plug packages. Cylinders 3 and 8 are showing quite a number of misfires so one of the things that we will be doing is replacing all of the coil packs and putting new plugs in. This is not a pleasant procedure as these engines have some issues with spark plug changes and it is a tedious process to prevent any problems with the change.

I also need to take a look at the A/C compressor as it continues to make some noise after about 15-20 minutes of operation. I think it is the clutch package and it might need to have the air-gap in it reduced. Not sure yet but I do need to find out. We also need to verify that the rest of the A/C system is in good shape.

Another item is the headlights. Like all plastic housings, these have reached the point where they need to be sanded and clear coated. I lucked out and discovered that the headlight units are actually stock units for Ford F-150 Pickups so I was able to order to new housings for about $75. The downside is that the builder of the RV used pieces of plywood to build a shelf for the light housings to mount to and these are starting to fall apart from moisture damage, so I need to take out everything build and seal new mounting platforms and then I can put the new headlights in place. As a bonus, I am also going to put in a set of relays for the headlights so that they will get as much voltage as possible and wire in a dash mounted switch that will allow me to operate the low and high beams together for better lighting on some of the dark roads we travel. I am also going to sand and clear the old headlights and put them away as spares so I can just swap out the next time when my new ones get dull.

There’s always a list of items that need attention, all you can do is keep checking them off.

Low-Buck Starter Switch

So I was in need of a remote starter switch on a recent project I worked on – a 67 Volkswagen. I didn’t want to go and buy one – not even sure I could have found one in this day and age but it would make figuring out the car’s problem a lot easier.

I rummaged around a bit and while what I came up with works, you don’t have to come up with the same items to get the same result. The following is my list of bits and pieces that I used to make my starter switch.

Old prescription bottle
Piece of leftover extension cord
Push button switch
2 Terminals
2 Electrical clamps

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bottle that would fit the push button switch, then drilled another hole in the bottle cap to fit the extension cord. Next was attaching the wire to the switch. The extension cord piece I had was about 5 feet long, you can make it any length you want. The cord was a 3 conductor piece and I cut the covering back about 8-9 inches. Again you can make yours longer or shorter as needed. I also cut off the ground wire as it would not be needed. I crimped terminals on the remaining wires and attached them to the push button switch with the provided screws. You can also use a toggle switch if that is what you have available.

You then place the switch inside the bottle and fasten it in place, then put the cord (or wires) through the hole in the cap and attach the cap. The last thing to do is attach the electrical clamps. I had a few that had been cutoff of some other item in the past – I constantly do this before tossing things out as it might come in handy someday. I soldered my wires to the clamps but you can also just attach them with other methods. Some clamps have a way to crush the wire to them, others have a screw on them that hold the wire.

So, using the starter switch is pretty easy. One clip goes to your positive battery post and the other clip goes to the connector on your starter solenoid that would be the “S” terminal or Start terminal. With the switch connected you can now “bump” the engine with the starter to perform valve settings, or spin a new engine to bring up oil pressure before starting it or it can be used to help you perform a compression test. You can also use it to diagnose a starting condition and determine if the battery might be marginal. It has a lot of uses and not just for the starter either. Not sure if that switch for the wiper motor is faulty or not? Connect this switch between the battery and the 12v input terminal on the wiper motor. If the wiper motor operates, there’s a good chance the wiper switch is bad.

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