Project Shoestring – Part 1

Wow – I just looked back and it’s been just over two years since I wrote “Project Shoestring Begins”. Where does time go? Well in my case, I, like a lot of active, older people have learned to not sit still too long as it’s a good prescription for an untimely death. And since I am not ready for that one, I keep moving. Since I wrote that post, I have completely, save for the outer walls rebuilt a 3-bedroom house and sold it. That was a 8+ month project – they take a bit of time when you are doing 90+% of the work by yourself. And before I was quite done with that I started on a deck project for an old high school friend. One of those that started off rather small in scope and grew from there. Between weather issues, getting sick a couple of times and attending a wedding in Vegas, that little project went along for about 5 months but the owner was happy and that’s what counts.

So here we are again talking about my 1955 Chevy 210 bracket car. And I am sure there will be interruptions in this project again; it simply cannot be helped but we have made some really good progress. For starters just getting the car over to were I could work on it took a bit of doing along with some weather cooperation. We are back in our wet winter conditions again so you have to pick your days to do certain things carefully. I finally hit a few days where it didn’t rain and the ground actually dried out a bit. I grabbed the golf cart and decided it was now or never getting on with this project. First problem was the car had sunk it’s tires a bit into the ground and the golf cart was having nothing of it. I could rock the car a bit but there was no possibility that the golf cart had enough muscle to pull it out. So I went and got the truck but I had a slight dilemma there as I did not want to pull the Chevy out and have it smash into the back of my truck! I had to be very careful just to ease it out of it’s stuck spot and make sure that I kept any forward motion of the car to an absolute minimal. Thankfully I succeeded and was then able to hook the golf cart to the car to make the rest of the journey up to the garage. Now I admit that sounds easy but honestly I could only move the car about 20-25 feet at a time before I would have to re-adjust the steering of the front tires. Seems that one tire would point straight ahead and the other was about 30 degrees off in a different direction. Once I got the car up to the garage, I wanted to get it cleaned out before rolling it in to a bay but I also have to take one of the race cars out to make that happen.

Front roll pan and lower radiator shield

The following day, I started cleaning up the interior and trunk space. The car came with everything from pennies and hairpins to replacement sheet metal panels. I was happy to see the replacement panels as those will save me a lot of money. And they were a surprise being buried under all kinds of other items. I also started removing the front roll pan that goes just behind the front bumper. All of these pieces are in pretty decent shape and as I get them cleaned up, you will find them for sale in my store area. There was still a lot more debris to clear out of the car but it would have to wait just a bit.

Steering and suspension – gone!

My grandson, Jackson, is now staying with us for a bit and I was happy to find out that he was a willing partner in helping get the car cleaned out. I really wasn’t too sure how it would go but he dug in and helped get not only the debris cleaned up but also got just about all the old wiring removed. The next day, we had some better weather and worked on the car again. My goal that day was to get the entire stock suspension removed from the car along with the radiator and support pieces. We placed the car on jackstands for safety, then proceeded with removing the disc brake kit that was on the car, the entire steering box setup, steering linkage and pulled the spindles off. None of these parts are going to be used by me again. Some stuff will be sold and the rest will go to the metal recycler. We then removed the radiator parts and pulled the a-arms off, top and bottom. Jackson did a lot of this work himself and learned a couple of new tricks along the way.

Next step is getting the body supported and clipping off the frontend

Right now the next steps are a bit confused. With my grandson’s help this part of the project moved along a lot quicker than I expected so as I said before, we made some really nice progress on it. I think I am at a point where I need to move the racecar out of the shop and prep that area to start constructing the new racing frame for the ’55. I am getting pumped up about this car coming together now.

New & Used Parts, Tools, Toys

We just added another page to the blog here. As most anybody that works for a period of time on automobiles, trucks and other things knows, you eventually collect a lot of items. Normally most of this is things left over from a project or a project that didn’t get finished or took a different direction. We also have collected some AFX-HO racing sets and gear over the years,

So, while it’s a touch painful on some items to let them go it’s probably time to do so. We will be photographing what we consider to be the better items and posting them up on our “Store” page for sale and even sometimes just for free. I would prefer that these items get a second chance than to just sit in a drawer or box. So check back often, you might find something of interest to you.

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.

Thanks Uncle Doug

When I was 11 or 12 years old my family made a trip one summer from Virginia to Texas to visit and stay with my Dad’s brother – Douglas Rutherford. This was about a 1500 mile trip in the family car and dad was doing about 500 miles a day – back then with a lot of the traveling on 2 and 3 lane roads, you didn’t make time like you do today on a clean interstate system. During one stop we made I found a car magazine and asked my dad to buy it for me. I can’t remember the name of the magazine anymore but I looked through that book so many times that I guess I was wearing the ink off of the pages.

While staying at my uncle’s house, I slept on a cot in the front room. Television was limited to a couple of fuzzy channels so I continued to look through that car magazine. My uncle noticed and asked if I liked cars – saying yes he went off for a few minutes and then returned with a large stack of car magazines, mostly high performance ones and told me I could keep them. I went to work going through those books and even though I hardly understood anything in them, I didn’t let that slow me down too much.

The first Sunday we were there, my uncle had arranged a family reunion of sorts. Various tables and chairs were put out in the backyard, meat was cooked and it appeared that a lot of Lone Star Beer was consumed. Playing cards was also one of the big activities and I finally got to meet my Great Uncle Charlie – the man that took care of my father when his mom passed away and the man that I am named after. Uncle Charlie spent most of his life as a “mustanger”, rounding up wild Mustang horses and doing the work of a cowboy. When he sat down to play cards, the first things he did was to put his money sack on the table along with his .44 Colt. I leaned over and asked my Uncle Doug if it was loaded – and he said you bet it is. He also told me that unlike the movies, when cowboys played cards you put your money and your gun on the table.

We stayed for about a week with my Uncle Doug and on the way home I continued to dig through that pile of magazines he gave me. Again, I don’t remember the name of the book but there was one that had an article about how anybody could go drag racing – all you needed was a car. I had no idea of this and re-read this article a number of times gleaming every piece of information I could out of it. When I got back home, I started asking my friends about this and some had older brothers that actually raced at the local dragstrip. This was the very beginning of my drag racing life and I owe a big part of it to one man – Thanks Uncle Doug!

Build a Crank Trigger Distributor

Crank Triggers are a very effective way to light the fire in your performance engine. So much so that auto makers adapted the idea to just about everything you have driven since around the year 1995. They use a sensor lined up with a reluctor wheel mounted either on the front or rear of the crankshaft. Timing indication from this location is far more accurate and precise that picking it up from the distributor. Now of course modern engines have either a short coil-to-plug wire or are of the coil-on-plug ignition, all electronically fired from information provided to the computer.

Crank Trigger ignitions for older performance engines have been around for years and normally when a hot rodder puts one of these on their engine, one of the steps is to lock out any advance mechanism on the stock distributor. The distributor essentially becomes nothing more than a “distributor” of the spark energy. This will work just fine as long as the distributor is in good shape and not worn out or sloppy in it’s clearances. In my particular case, I am building a new engine up from bits and pieces and did not have a distributor to start with but looking at the current prices of a crank trigger distributor will make you swoon. Average prices are running between $250 – $350 for a distributor. I will admit it is take it out of the box and drop it in – but where’s the fun in that?

So,, doing a little bit of shopping and spending a touch less than $125 I have a brand new, crank trigger distributor. And I am going to tell you how you can have one too. Now admittedly I am building a Big Block Chevy, if you have a Chrysler or Ford engine or something else, you have a bit more homework to do, but the principle idea is the same.

I started off by looking for a NEW – not rebuilt point style distributors for Chevys. I finally found what I wanted from Rock Auto Parts. A brand new, mid-60’s distributor was available for slightly less than $50. Moving over to Jegs, Summit and don’t ever forget Amazon, especially if you already have Prime membership, I started looking for a MSD Cap-Adapt setup. This certainly isn’t a requirement to build a crank trigger distributor but I prefer these as they allow you to run the larger Ford style distributor cap which spreads out the spark, plus it comes with a spark plug wire retainer system that is a simple, two screw system. The adapter also creates a larger air center which helps reduce the izonation of the air particles within the cap. Each of these items helps reduce or eliminate misfire. And we don’t like our engines to misfire do we?

The next two items on the list kind of go hand in hand but one of them might not be needed for your setup. I am running a Crane mechanical roller cam in this engine and need the bronze distributor gear that works with that type of camshaft. If you are running a standard type production cam or an aftermarket unit that is a hydraulic or mechanical flat tappet cam then you can keep the stock style gear and save a few bucks. You also want to setup the end play on the distributor and will need a shim kit – I went with the Moroso version as I had used their kit before and knew what I would be getting. I ended up setting this distributor up to .009 clearance but anything between .010 and .020 should be good. I am also getting ahead of myself a bit but that’s okay.

With all of the parts gathered up it is actually time to start tearing stuff apart. All of the following can either be deep-sixed or passed along to someone that still deals with points style distributors. The cap, rotor, points, condenser, vacuum advance canister, all of the wiring, the mounting plate for the points and condenser, the advance weights, advance springs and the advance/points cam all have to go. I didn’t bother to weigh all of this stuff but there’s bound to be at least a pound of stuff here. Now to get some of these parts off, you probably already figured out that you need to drive out the roll pin on the distributor gear, remove it, the spacers and pull the shaft from the distributor body. And this is where a welder will come in handy although it is not absolutely required. You will notice with the shaft removed that the advance plate/points cam is a separate piece. You need that piece to hold the rotor in place so I recommend that you fit it back to the main shaft and then on both sides of the oval shaped piece at the top, you tack weld the shaft and the advance plate together. Lacking a means of welding, you could also drill the two pieces and insert a small bolt/nut to lock them together. I have not done this myself so you will have to determine exactly where you can put the bolt without interfering with the rotor button attachment.

Once all the junk is out of the way, you can put a little bit of grease on the shaft, slide it back in and start figuring out how many shims you will need to tighten up the clearances. For the most part, this is a bit of trial and error, but one thing you can do is find a punch that has the same diameter as the roll pin and put that in place to hold the gear on while you check clearances with a feeler gauge. That beats driving that roll pin in and out.

With the clearance set, the next step is to install the MSD Cap-Adapt System. Rather easy as the main part of the system aligns just like the original distributor cap and and is held in place with the same type of push and turn 90 degree arms. Now you can mount the MSD rotor button in place but first check the clearance on the center part of the rotor. MSD now includes a cardboard guide that is sort of a go, no-go type gauge. I found my latest one to be bent down a touch too far. New MSD kits have a couple of choices for holding down the rotor button now, I decided to use the Allen head bolts that came with the kit. And finally the last piece is the Ford style distributor cap. Align the tab and snap the spring metal retainers in place and you’re finished.

What you now have is a fully “functional” crank trigger distributor. Which really kind of makes you wonder why they charge so much money for the darn things. When using a crank trigger setup, the distributor has one job and that is to distribute the voltage out of the coil coming into the center terminal of the cap to the terminals of the cap that are connected to the spark plugs. That’s it. No timing function, no dwell settings – nothing. When setting up your crank trigger, you will set the timing by moving the pickup in relation to the magnet on the crank mounted wheel. You will install your distributor so that you are lining up the rotor pointing to the selected spark plug terminal of the cap. A better way to determine that this is as precise as possible is using “Rotor Phasing”. Search that phrase on the Internet for additional information.

So there you have it – a quick and easy build that saves you at least a $125. Plus you probably had a little bit of fun with the build and you can be absolutely certain that you are going to get the maximum amount of power from your crank trigger setup.

Just Thinking

I was thinking which sometimes isn’t a good thing.

Back when I was a kid pumping fuel at gas stations (16,17,18) I remember Amoco was selling the only unleaded fuel at the time. But also around this time most of our engines were in the neighborhood of 9.8 – 11.1 compression ratios and there wasn’t a lot of pinging and banging going on running the stuff. So now I am wondering what were they putting in that fuel to prevent pre-ignition and why we can’t have that today?
Also, it’s been a rumor I guess for a long time but I worked a Sunoco station for a bit and if you remember there was a dial on the side of the pump that would allow you pick the octane level you wanted. Sorta foggy now but I think the pumps ran from 140-260? Anyway, the whole deal was two tanks of fuel (one hi-test and one regular) that were being mixed right there at the pump. I worked this station mostly on Thursday – Sunday nights and on Friday and Saturday night I would lock out the outer pump to pure hi-test or 280 as it was referred to; no lower octane fuel was mixed with it. I would charge an extra $1.00 per 5 gallons that was pumped and had guys lined up in and out of the gas station. I made a little extra spending money and the guy that owned the station was impressed with how many gallons of gas I pumped every weekend once the word got around. And again, why doesn’t somebody do this now?
Lastly, I was wondering what happened to all of the gasoline, motor oil, battery and anti-freeze commercials that used to be on television? I think the last thing I can remember now is Shell running some commercials about the amount of detergents their fuels contained and their cleaning ability. Other than that one, it seems like its been a very long time since these type of commercials were out there. So the question I have is have the vendors of these products simply decided that either the motoring public isn’t really all that interested in any difference between manufacturers of these products or do they simply sell so much of their product that there is no gain in advertising it anymore?

How Much Should an Oil Change Cost?

To help support our racing habit, I sell Amsoil products on my other site – Superior Motor Oil. Sales on the site are spotty at best as it has gotten difficult for small websites like mine to get to the first 1 or 2 pages of a major search engine unless you are willing and able to spend a considerable amount of money advertising with them. So I was wondering about a different angle and the idea of “how much does the average synthetic oil change cost” came to mind. I searched on that idea and what I found was eye opening. Depending on your location in the county the average runs $55 – $100 for a normal 4-5 quart change with filter. Coupons and special promotions can knock that price down a little bit. There is no mention of brand names pertaining to the oil or filter but one has to assume that the oil would at least be one of the national brands as would the filter, so if you can find a local shop at $55 and you loath the idea of changing oil yourself then this appears to be a reasonable deal.

Amsoil oil products are what I like to refer to as a “Boutique Oils”. In comparison to the national brands, it’s rather expensive but right in line with other similar oil products such as Royal Purple, Redline or Mag-1. While a 5 quart jug of 5w30 Mobil-1 will run you about $30 at most auto part retailers, $30 is only going to buy you about 3 quarts of Amsoil 5w30 Signature Series oil. Five quarts of Amsoil 5w30 Signature Series is going to cost $46.00. The best upside to this is the change interval length. While most of the car manufacturers are now recommending oil changes at 10,000 miles, Amsoil Signature Series is designed to go 25,000 miles. Going the same length of mileage on the national brand oils is going to cost at least $75 so the cost of $46 for Amsoil is a savings of $29 plus you’re also be saving the cost of the additional filters, installation labor and the lost time you incur while waiting for your vehicle to be serviced. Now I realize that a lot of people are going to frown on the thought of going 25,000 miles on an oil change and I have to admit that it is an unusual idea. You should  consider the fact that not so very long ago, oil change interval recommendations were at 500 miles. Then as oil, filters and the technology in engines improved, those change intervals began to lengthen to where they are now in the 10,000 mile range. Amsoil has simply taken it to the next step before anyone else and their Signature Series oils are now ready to go 25,000 miles. One other thought is even if you decide to stay with your manufacturer’s recommendation, should you run into a situation where you go beyond that recommendation, with Amsoil in your crankcase you have nothing to worry about.

So going back to our original question, “How Much Should an Oil Change Cost?”, I believe it simply depends on the vehicle, the normal use of that vehicle and the confidence of the owner in the products that they are purchasing to maintain their vehicle. If we can say that the average motorist puts 12,000 miles a year on their vehicle then $46 and the cost of an oil filter over a 2-year period looks like a good savings to me.

 

 

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.

Project “Shoestring” – 1955 Chevy 210 Sedan Begins

Project “Shoestring” – 1955 Chevy 210 Sedan Begins

 

Project Shoestring has been in the works for so many years now that it was beginning to be an unbelievable idea. As I noted in the project introduction – Project Details, the line on this car has changed over time and whether that is good or bad remains to be seen. The car was never a good candidate to be restored and while I like looking at restorations, my heart has never been in putting the labor and money into them. The one attempt that I made with an early Corvette caught so much flak for having an aftermarket part on it from the snobs of that world that I lost all interest in ever attempting it again.

So currently I am finishing up a house flip with a few minor details that should be accomplished within the coming week – which is another reason I am writing this – as that major project concludes it will allow me the time and resources to finish up a couple of other vehicle issues and move on to this project for the coming fall and winter months. My goal is to have a running vehicle ready for the first test and tune sessions come mid-March. I work slowly so that is a major commitment on my part. I will turn 65 in January of the coming year and while I plan to drive my dragster for at least another 5+ years, I see the ’55 as my retirement ride for the coming future. Slower yes, but consistency is the key and getting back to the drag strips in a heavy dose is extremely important to me. I feel like between weather issues and the house flip that I completely lost this current season which was certainly not my plan last winter. I guess we have to see what happens this coming year but I am going to do everything I can to make this happen.

First issues with any vehicle project is finding the room to work on it. I am fortunate to have a 3 vehicle garage that honestly can only house 2 cars at time for all of the other bits and pieces in the way. The upside is that my youngest son moved to his new house so that is freeing up a lot of space that I have not seen in about 2 years. As I mentioned I have a couple of other vehicles to take care of first but one is an on-going slow project that runs and moves under it’s own power and the other is simply shooting some paint on my dragster body panels. Now that the weather is improving a bit, that should become a reality soon.

So with an open space available now, and the ’55 sitting at the edge of my property it’s time to move it inside. I don’t want to see snow on it again this year and the only thing I need to wait for is to get the ground dried out to where I can pull the car up to the garage and get it in place. At that time, I will probably question my sanity about starting another project but what the heck, it’s the last one and the one that I have been planning for a very long time. Another plus on this project is I have probably 90%-95% of what I need to complete it. That’s a big, big plus in itself.

 

 

Converters, Measurements and Dial Calipers – Oh My!

Converters, Measurements and Dial Calipers – Oh My!

It’s a bit funny but I have probably explained the following procedure to a few friends a half-dozen times in the last few weeks. And honestly unless you too are a diehard drag racer using a GM style automatic transmission and converter setup, the information here is probably worthless. But then again, to a lot of those that do use that setup there seems to be a huge mystery to this procedure. Actually it’s all rather simple. Why this might apply to some of the latest GM stuff, I am specifically talking about Powerglides, TH350s and TH400 transmissions. And this procedure should be used every time you have the transmission serviced or maintenance on the converter performed. You should also use it if you are changing the flexplate for the engine or the bell housing/transmission case.

First things first. The convertor has to be seated properly in the transmission before anything else can happen. I like to call it the  “3-step drop”. What needs to happen is that as you place the converter in the transmission, you need to make sure that the splines of the transmission are engaging the internal splines of the converter and that the converter hub properly seats within the drive tangs of the transmission fluid pump. It’s actually pretty easy although some converters can be a real bear getting them to make that final seating. What you will feel is that the converter “drops” or moves back further on the input shaft as you rotate the converter back and forth. The first drop is almost negligible and is simply the converter hub aligning itself with the outer portion of the transmission pump. The next drop is significant and typically moves the converter back about 1/2″, this indicates that those splines have now engaged each other. The last and final drop again is about 1/2″ and will be the hub engaging the fluid pump tangs. Now at this point, the converter is completely engaged in the transmission but if you were to run it this way, you would find that you will destroy your transmission pump in quick order. This brings up the procedure that needs to be used.

With the transmission installed in the car and bolted up properly to the engine, it is time to take a measurement. Depending on the combination of flexplate, the thickness of the converter mounting pads, the bell housing or transmission case and whether a rear engine plate is used, this measurement needs to end up being somewhere between .125 and .187. With the converter still pushed back into the transmission, we want to measure the distance between the flexplate and the mounting pads of the converter. The easiest way I have found to do this is to take a set of feeler gauges and insert a stack of them until the stack is just snug between the measurement points. Once you have that measurement, you can then take a dial caliper and measure the thickness of the stack or lacking a dial caliper, you can add up the feeler gauges. This measurement will be the distance between the flexplate and the mounting pads of the converter. As an example, let us say the measurement is .234 – well that is a little bit too much as if we were to pull the converter forward and simply bolt it to the flexplate, we would run the risk of pulling the converter hub out of the drive tangs for the fluid pump and in turn we would have an inoperable transmission. What we need to do is a little bit of math. If our desired minimum clearance is .125, we deduct that from the measured distance, which in this case is .234. That leaves us with .109 as the excess distance. We now need to find some hardened washers or spacers to take up the extra clearance. Using the dial calipers again, we should be able to find washers that come close. You can also do this with feeler gauges although it is a bit awkward. Again as an example lets say we find 3 washers that are .090 in depth – three are required for the GM transmissions and we want to make sure that they are all the same. That still leaves us with .019 extra clearance but if we add that to our desired .125, we come up with .144 which is well within the maximum amount of .187. We can now bolt the converter to the flexplate with the .090 washers between them and we have the proper clearance for the transmission to fully perform its job function.