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.
Jar or bottle with a screw on top Piece of solid brake tubing Rubber hose that fits the tubing JB Weld
Drill 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.
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.
I hope you enjoy this little item and please share the article with your friends.
This is my son Phillip’s newest project. The Mazda Speed that he has raced the last few years is also his street ride, go to work car, etc. and it was getting to the point that the car’s performance, while improving was eventually going to break something. That “something” would probably be pretty expensive too.
The Camaro was found on e-Bay and also just happened to be located locally so picking the car up should have been an easy exercise. The engine had a bad knock in it, but the car would start and move under it’s own power. We hooked up our trailer and headed over one Saturday morning for what ended up being a bit of an adventure. The car was located behind a fenced area and there was pretty much no where to park the rig, so as I drove around trying to find a place to land, my son started working on getting the car cranked up. One problem we had was that the battery we had with us was a top post and of course GM in it’s wonderful weirdness uses a side post arrangement. We finally got it cranked and running by my holding the battery cables to the battery terminals and walking along side of the car as he drove it to the edge of the street. At that point we couldn’t get out on the street as everytime we tried, a car would show up and once again, the engine would shut off! We then decided that we would be better off pushing the car down the street to a side street where our rig was parked. That worked out well, so we lined up the car with the trailer ramps, went to start the car and started having problems getting it cranked. Geeezzzz, does this never end?
Finally after ditching the air cleaner and putting a bit more bite on the battery cables, the engine decided to cooperate, but once again as we tried to get it up on the trailer, it kept shutting off. We were not sure how long the engine was going to run with the knock in it and kept expecting a rod to come through the side of the block any minute. Our last shot was for me to hold the cables on the battery as he drove it up the trailer ramp with myself stepping up on the trailer in sequence with the car! Mind you the hood is raised a bit so he’s going uphill onto the trailer with very limited visibility and honestly I really am getting to old for this stuff. And then my other worry as he was gunning the engine and sliding the clutch was that the car would go flying into the back of my truck!
But all ended well, we tied the car down and headed back to my garage to begin the Camaro’s conversion into Rutherford Motorsports’ newest race car.
I actually tried this before and failed miserably at it, I believe I got three, maybe four articles about the Camaro Project re-posted and never got any further with it. The original articles were written in basic HTML and most of the writing was done a day or two after that segment of the project was finished. My goal at the time was two-fold. One, to document the build of a home-built racing car along the lines of the articles I used to read in Car Craft Magazine and Popular Hot Rodding and two, to provide whoever happened upon my website back then maybe a little bit of help with their project. Yes, this is a story about a Camaro, but I hope you will always understand that the wheels go around and the pistons go up and down no matter what the manufacturer’s name is on the vehicle. You can learn something – always.
The Camaro is still being raced today by my son, Phil. In fact it was in a 64 car shootout at Virginia Motorsports Park tonight as I write this. At this moment, I am not sure how we fared but I know the Camaro and my son but up a good battle for the prize money. In a few short years the Camaro will transition to a new driver, a new generation will take the wheel and I believe the car will continue to be a winner. My granddaughter is patiently waiting for her time to come – she’s already a racer and it’ll be a very proud moment for me when she takes that first lap in The Camaro Project.
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.
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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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. The last one 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: https://oil-change.info/
So that’s it for my oil change tips. If you enjoyed this article please share it!
Well, as I previously mentioned interruptions happen and they just can’t be helped, or either I have finally given up worrying about them.
Other than trying to keep the car covered up with a car cover that kept getting blown off during the normal windy part of the Spring season, there hasn’t been very much done. We sold just about all of the front end sheet metal, the spindles and old disc brake setup plus a handful of other parts that came with the car that we are not going to use. We also had some leftover stuff that went to the recycler and I basically found out that I spent more in diesel fuel than what the metal was worth. Lesson learned.
I also came up with a novel idea of saving most of the repair panels that came with the car. As most of you know, vinegar is a really good rust remover – it just takes time. I measured the largest piece of sheet metal I had and then using some 2x4s and a piece of leftover 1/2″ plywood constructed a rectangle box that the sheet metal would fit in. I then took some heavy plastic and cut it so that it was larger than the box and doubled it. Using the plastic as a liner for the box, then putting the sheet metal in along with a few gallons of vinegar and then covering it with the second piece of plastic, I had a low-buck de-rusting facility. I let the sheet metal soak for about 3 days, then flipped it over and let it soak a few more days. At that point, I took it out and hosed it off. I wish I had taken photos of it but the sheet metal came out almost perfectly clean. I dried if off with compressed air, then used a can of spray rust reformer (Rustoleum Brand) and coated both sides of the sheet metal. I had 5 pieces to do, so I just kept repeating the process. These panels are going to save me a lot of money as a lot of the sheet metal around the rear wheel area is shot.
My next trick was to figure out how to get the chassis out from under the car. I admit I stewed on this problem for a number of weeks before I stumbled across another hot rodder online that is working on a Nissan 280 Z. He had constructed legs with dolly wheels and then bolted them to the Z allowing him to move the body of the car around his shop. With that inspiration I took an old piece of rectangular metal tubing I had and cut two legs that would fit at the outer parts of the firewall. I already had some very heavy duty rubber caster wheels and mounting plates. I welded the mounting plates to the tubing and put the wheels in place. I was hesitant to bolt these to the firewall as I think there might be too much flexing, so I decided to weld them in place. I am going to cut out a great deal of the firewall so a little extra grinding later on is not an issue. That took care of the front part of the car, but the rear was still a question mark. After looking things over, I decided that due to the weakness of the remaining floor that it might be a good idea to keep some of the frame under the car as additional support for the body.
I have a set of car roller trays – the type that have four casters and you put them underneath the tires of a car, then you can push the car around the garage. I took two of them and two more pieces of the tubing and tack welded the tubing to them with the idea that I can cut the frame just in front of the leaf spring shackle to remove the rear frame section and set the remaining center frame on these modified rollers. One problem is that they are a bit too short in height. I am going to have find some additional metal and add to this set of rollers before this part of the plan can be executed.
Next was moving the car to a suitable working area – which I am sure my neighbors are not totally thrilled about but I do keep the car covered up when I am not working on it. I decided that the front end of the driveway was flat and safe enough to continue. We used the remaining set of rollers and put them under the rear tires, then with the front leg rollers on the ground we were able to move the entire car by simply pushing it. It’s amazing what the power of a wheel can do for you! With it moved into place, we then supported the frame with jackstands right behind the original transmission mount. Our next move was to get out the plasma cutter and start cutting through everything that was holding the front clip to the rest of the car. It took a bit but after cutting through support pieces and then slicing through the frame just in front of the transmission mounts, we were able to separate the clip from the car. Mission accomplished! And just so you know, the “we” in my statements here is my son Phil and myself.
With the front clip off the car, it sure does look a lot shorter. The main reason for doing this is that I already have a number of parts that fit the front end clip. Tubular A-Arms, replacement bushings, ball joints, racing shocks and springs, 2″ dropped spindles, new steering arms, disc brake kit and a new manual rack and pinion from a SN95 Mustang. Switching to some other aftermarket front end would not only cost additional funds but I doubt if I could recover 50% of the money in the parts I now have on hand. Weight wise, this clip is heavier than a Mustang II replacement and certainly more than a strut front end. But again, the Mustang II front end would be in the area of a $1000 and the strut version would run about $2000 or more. I believe I can trim quite a bit of weight out of the clip and actually make it stronger than it is in factory stock form. Looking at a stock ’55 Chevy front end one has to realize that the engineers of the time had several things to deal with in the design. Starting at the front of the clip, they were providing a place for the heavy front bumper to attach to and supporting it in such a way that it could survive at least a low speed crash and protect the occupants of the car. They also provided a mounting for the heavy radiator, the radiator horse collar and the front roll pan. Moving back from there, we encounter the front crossmember which was designed to provide mounting for the a-arms, shocks, springs and front half of the engine/transmission combination. In 1955 the engine/transmission assembly was supported at the front of the engine with a mount on each side and just at the front of the transmission where it mounted to the engine – again with a mount on each side. This put quite a load on the front crossmember. Moving back again, we have the frame rail area supporting the steering box on one side and providing a mounting point for the idler on the other. We also have a mount for the cross shaft to operate the clutch.
No matter how you shake it that’s a lot of heavy lifting for the front clip of the car. My plan calls for cutting back a lot of that starting with the front rails that support the bumper and modifying a good portion of the center of the crossmember to now support the rack and pinion. The bottom of the crossmember has a very heavy plate surface that I assume was to handle any minor collisions with the road surface back in those days too. I will also be removing side mounts for rubber jounce pieces that are no longer needed, removing the radiator support piece, cutting out the support of the clutch cross shaft and then rewelding the upper a-arm supports and the frame rail where needed. I may also cut down the height of the rear part of the frame rail to match up with 2×3 tubing of the main chassis beams. A rough estimate is that I can remove about 10-15% of the weight currently in the front clip. There are also a number of areas in the front clip where pieces were hot riveted together and then some additional welding performed. I assume that on the assembly line that the rivets were intended to hold the pieces together in alignment prior to the welding operation.
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.
I hope you enjoy this little item and please share the article with your friends.
Recently we found a 2000 Ford F150 Supercab for my grandson Jackson. Overall the truck is in decent shape, runs well and has the normal wear, dents and dings associated with the mileage on it. The previous owner supplied us all the repair records that he had and it appears that maintenance and repairs have been handled when the need arose.
Like any used vehicle, we found a few things that we wanted to correct and hopefully make it a bit better. We cleaned up the truck, wiping a couple of decades of dirt, lint and who knows what out of the interior and gave it a wash job. Some elbow grease and Mother’s Mag Wheel polish restored a good look to the stock rims. Inside the interior we found that the cup holder was no longer playing nicely and it appears to be a normal problem with this line of trucks. The tension spring at the back of the cup holder is only held in place with a couple of melted plastic rivets. They eventually break, the spring falls down and the cup holder refuses to work. We found the spring laying on the bottom lip of the dash, drilled a couple of 1/8″ holes and riveted it back in place with aluminum rivets. Works just like new now. We found that the electric outside mirror switch had failed too. A new switch was popped in place and another issue was resolved. One more thing we found was that the driver’s door window was making some interesting sounds as it went up and down – especially down. Even after taking it apart, we were never positive about why it made the sound. Anyway, a new window motor and track assembly took care of the problem.
Next on our list is the point of this story – lighting, as in headlights. As you can see from the picture, like most 20+ year old units they have seen better days.
Now, obviously we don’t won’t to spend crazy money for parts left and right but headlights are important and especially ones that you actually use. It’s best to be able to see down the road and for someone to see you coming. We decided on some units from Rockauto Parts. They weren’t the most expensive ones that they had but they looked good when they showed up and they will do a good job for us.
But here’s the tip and to be honest no matter how much you spend on replacement headlamps or tail lamps you can do this to them. One of the bigger problems with aftermarket headlamps is that they commonly get moisture in them a lot easier than your OEM units. Although over time, the OEM units will suffer from this problem too. The actual problem is where the clear part of the plastic mates with the rest of the light housing. When they are manufactured, there is a glue that is used to put the assembly together – it’s basically crazy glue or Cyanoacrylate. If enough of it is used the odds are that there won’t be any leaks or holes in the seam where moisture can enter the light assembly. But, if there’s not enough used or the work is a little sloppy then that could lead to a problem down the road. So what I do is a little bit of preventative care. The first step is to take some masking tape and go along each side of the seam between the clear plastic and the rest of the housing.
What you want to end up with is a space between the pieces of tape on each side of the seam of about an 1/8″ or so, it doesn’t have to be exact, but you want to make sure that the seam is totally exposed. Now here’s the tricky part – if you’re married or have a girlfriend it’s probably going to be easier but what you need now is some clear fingernail polish – preferably a quick-drying version. If that resource doesn’t work out for you, then you’ll just have to go a store and visit the make-up counter. I understand thatthis can be very unnerving for most of us, but you have to have it to complete your mission. And remember if they have a fast-drying version, that’s the one you want.
Once you have the clear polish, you can take and paint the seam with it all the way around the headlamp, you want a minimum of two coats and three is better. Allow each coat to dry completely before starting on the next coat. Once you’re done, let things sit for a good hour or so, it should be thoroughly dry by then and you can remove the tape.
As you can see from my photo above that you can’t even tell that you put polish on them, but adding the polish to the seam will help prevent getting moisture for years and years to come.
Lastly, if you have a decent set of headlamps and they have gotten some moisture in them, you can save them. It’s bit of work but noting to bad. You’ll have to remove the headlamps and you should clean them off good just to keep any debris from getting into the lamp openings as you will need to remove the lamps. You will also need a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Pour out any water moisture that has accumulated in the lamp housing. Pour a bit of alcohol into the lamp unit, swish it around and then pour it out. Try to get as much out as possible, then position the headlamp to let any remaining alcohol evaporate from the lamp holes. Alcohol has an attraction to water and usually the water will evaporate with the alcohol. You may need to repeat this several times depending on how much moisture was in the headlamp. Once you have the headlamps “dried out” you can perform the clear polish trick but look for any major separation in the headlamp unit parts. If the separation is large, you might need to fill the seam. In this case a gel-type Cyanoacrylate will work best and then you can seal them.
I hope you enjoyed this little tip and please share with your friends. Next up for the Truck is a new sound system and speakers installation. We have a couple of good tips for that installation to get the very best out of your new system.
Simply said, I have copies of plans for T-Buckets & Hot Rods. The first set is known as the Youngster Free T-Bucket plans that are limited to the building of a frame for a T-Bucket. Actually a very good set of plans with all the detail you would need for building a chassis.
Click “Youngster T-Bucket Plans” below.
You’re going to love this one! Nineteen chapters of information about how to scratch build a hot rod. And while the information is about the build of a “hot rod” there is a ton of information that will relate to any car build that you happen to be working on or just dreaming about building.
Click “The Scratch Built Hotrod” below.
The other sets that I have are far more detailed, going into every aspect of how to not only build a good chassis but also the body work, interior, engine and drive train. Electrical information is a bit sketchy but it’s a decent outline. This one requires your e-mail address so that I can send it to you. Make sure you provide a good email address and put “HotRod Plans” in the subject line on the contact form.