Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - E-brake/Grille

Yup, I've been busy. Getting the Corvair to daily driver status took some time. And, I spent two weekends doing this. What's different, you say? Well, I don't seem to do anything once on this truck and I wasn't even going to admit this, but since you all come here for a good chuckle anyway, that front axle is 2" farther rearward now. I did a trial fit with a boneyard tire & rim and realized that I had screwed up again. It cleared OK, just looked like heck. I don't know how, but I think I may have forgotten to compensate when I choked up on the tape measure. Started at 2" instead of the hook, but forgot to add the 2" back on to the number. I contemplated the work involved, cussed myself, and almost let it slide. But leaving a mistake like that is far worse than correcting it; every time I walked up to the truck it would be laughing at me. Cutting out the IFS was a booger - those welds are hard. A carbide grit blade in the Sawzall, a cut-off wheel, and the angle grinder finally got it out. Set it up again the right way. Due to the kerf and the tapering of the frame rails, I had to weld filler plates to the crossmember for a snug fit. Lots of extra work - I also filled the old C notches, shortened the steering column, and remade the brake lines so it all is correct now.

[Before disassembling the body on the next one, I'll mark the axle center line and drill an identification hole that can't be sanded off]


OK, so I didn't get clever with the fender brace. I notched, bent, reinforced, and welded up this angle iron bracket. I had thought of just raising the end of the rod, but decided it was better not to introduce a new vertical force component. I'd read the hoods were tricky to align, so I didn't want to make matters worse by pulling up on the fender as well as in. The flange of the bracket sits just under the air cleaner and engine torque rotates it away from the bracket. Just for peace of mind, I added a circular cutout, not shown here, so it won't hit on the rebound or if the engine shakes. I also added two bolts to the firewall near the 90 degree bend It is solid. I used a piece of 3/8" rod threaded on both ends instead of cutting the original rod. I can still use the original measurements for adjusting.



I modified the core support to lower the radiator to get the fan closer to center and to get clearance between the fan and lower radiator hose. I notched the lower inside corners of the support and ground the flanges on the radiator. I installed the radiator with the flanges inside the u-channel, instead of on the engine side as original, to get the needed clearance from the fan. This required installing the bolts from the front, so I drilled clearance holes in the front of the channel and used socket head screws.

And I could have skipped all that if I had decided on an electric fan sooner.


I have about 3/4" clearance from the fan to the rad and to the lower hose. The hoses I picked out of a Gates Buyer's Guide after taking measuerments of what I needed. Thanks to Randy and crew at Master Auto.
This pic also shows the homemade upper alternator bracket and the manifold water heat tubes snaking under the header.





Bled brakes don't look any different so no pics there. Lots of wiring that doesn't show either. The power brake pedal arm was tapped 1/2-20, so I removed the plate from the stock brake pedal and welded a matching stud to it. The pedal pad is stock and matches the clutch.
I picked up a nice looking e-brake handle on Ebay. It was advertised as 20's to 30's Chev, but I liked the look. It mounts to the floor, so I added a reinforcing plate under the floor to beef it up.



Rear cables are 79 Camaro. I cut the frame brackets from the old Camaro spring seats, fabbed an equalizer from the original truck spring shackle, and a return spring bracket from a piece I found in one of my coffee cans. I thought I was so durn clever when I used my daughter's old Corvair clutch cable as the front cable (replaced because I had it apart, not because it was bad.) Pulled the brake the first time, hard, and "OWWWCHEEWOWWA" smashed my fingers between the release and the handle when it hit the seat as the cable broke. Did it again (!) with 5/16 solid rod since I had a straight shot.
Pic to the right shows the rear cable and bracket; pic left is the equalizer and front rod. I ran the rod through an eye to keep it from rattling.
The driveshaft I got from a 91 S10 and it fit with no mods. My truck is a 52-66-74-79-81-86-91 now. At least.



If I hadn't taken it apart, I would have sworn this grille came from a different truck. Just unbolting the sheetmetal after 50 years is like taking off a pair of tight britches. Everything relaxes and they ain't going on again easily. Compound that with rust and crash repair and instead of "I'll just throw the grille on now", it was an all day affair. I used a 2x4 to spread the fenders to get the lower rad baffle in, and in the now World Famous Chuck's "Do It Twice" method, I had to pull the headlight buckets to get the top screw into the end. My scratch awl and Phillips screwdrivers got a good workout trying to align the holes. The screws above the park lamp housings were fun to get in. One of the park lamps had to come out to get the screw in above it. Thinking now, it may have been a good idea to switch to a stud. I might try it next time. There are 50 some screws related to the grille/baffle installation. Can you imagine Detroit doing that today? I try to get all the bolts started before tightening any down, but in some places I had to tighten one down to hold everything in place to get a neighboring bolt in.



I modified the already modified park lamps for turn signals. The 1157 sockets had been mounted so the globe was at one end, with the socket entirely inside the housing. I repostioned them to maximize the effectiveness of the Fresnel (silent "s") lens. I drilled a hole and tack welded the socket coaxially with the center of the Fresnel. It is as deep as I could pull it back without a spacer. The filament isn't quite at the focus of the lens, but it is much better. Illuminated, the lens fills nicely.



She has a face again.



Upper rad baffle installed



It took a tool or two to do this part of the job. Something to keep in mind when choosing paint: If you pick a common color you can get rattle cans anywhere for touchup. She acquired a few scratches during installation of the grille, but I touched them up right away.

Not that it matched very well


The hood is bolted in place, but not yet aligned. I got help from my daughter, brother, and dad to get it on. It was easier than rigging a 2x4 setup to hold it in place while I got inside the cab to start the bolts. Bumper was easy. Looks more and more like a truck. Soon.



Still trying o get the bottom of the door to close all the way. I'm trying to bend the lower hinge; this is the before shot.



Clamped the hinge in the vise and used the rear bumper bracket (hardware store channel) as a lever bolted in place. The channel was used to raise the bumper to clear a trailer hitch. They also put a notch in the bumper for clearance. I just bought a replacement, with brackets, on Ebay. I didn't want chrome and was planning on painting it, but it looks so nice I can't bring myself to take the DA to it. I'll decide when it's together. Easy enough to pull it off for paint.



Brought it in a good 1/2" but still didn't fix the problem. The front of the door came out an 1/8" instead.
If any real body men are reading this for a laugh, any tips would be appreciated. I'm going to try the 2x4 wedged into the hinge trick, but I'm concerned that I'll just bend the cowl and not the door.
Notice the welding boots. My neighbor is surprised that I weld in shorts and a T-shirt, with sandals on. I get a little burn now and then but flesh heals. Got a welding "sunburn" on my legs doing that bracket. Just lets me know that I'm alive.
Next installment - more hood and I weld up my own dual exhaust.