Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - Rust and MII IFS Kit

On the way home with my new truck, I lost first gear in the trans (I could not keep it in gear with 2 hands and a knee braced on the dash), smoked the oily clutch, and could only run for a mile at a time (which I eventually traced to a bit of fuel hose stuck in the fuel inlet of the carb). The fuel pump was spraying oil everywhere. If the carb was the only problem I would have fixed it roadside, but compounded??? I called a flatbed. This changed my plan of driving it for a while to get a feel for what I wanted to do. I dove right in and tore it down.

Somewhere along the line the entire drivetrain had been changed out to a 230/3speed, open driveline with 3.90 gears. I decided to go IFS, SBC, 700R4. Now I wish I'd kept it as it was, rebuilding as necessary, but that'll have to be the next one. I didn't think to take pictures until it was pretty well apart. There would have been some funny ones of me trying to remove a 400 lb sheet of steel diamondplate from the bed. It fit like a glove and the bedsides tapered in towards the tailgate so it wouldn't slide out. Trying to tilt it up, it hit the screw heads holding the fender, so the fender had to come off. With jacks and 2x4s I finally got it up on edge. I was concerned it would get away and take out the bedside or the cab but I got lucky. It is now a loading ramp for a friend's horse trailer.

[I should have looked closer. I saw a little of the these fixes from underneath. Now I now that if I see a little rot in the corners, and poor patching, it is probably all gone. Even more important - check the frame where the K-member attaches, just behind the cab. I will start with a better truck next time.]

Some may criticize my plan, but my intention is for this to be a daily driver. And daily as in spring, summer, fall, and WINTER. Road salt and all. It's taken fifty years, in Iowa and Illinois, before a major facelift was required; another fifty and my grandchildren (to be - I'm in no hurry to be "Grandpa") and great-grandchildren can worry about doing it again.

[It has been a great driver for 3-1/2 years but it is showing it. And I became a Grandpa in November, 2005!]

Anyway, I got it taken down to what you see here over two weekends. It wasn't too bad, but thats from someone who's been fighting rusty nuts and bolts for nearly thirty years - "Let's see, that'll take a 9/16" socket - and a torch, a drill, and a grinder." The photos don't do justice to the truly diaphanous nature of the rusty metal. I've had thicker Kleenexes. Two rubber floor mats and the insulation kept my feet from going through the floor. I removed the engine, trans, and front suspension in preparation for installing the IFS.

Some previous repair work consisted of sheetmetal PopRiveted over the rusty stuff and lots of caulk.

I ordered my IFS kit from Progressive Automotive. The kit is well made, is marked for correct installation, and came with good instructions

[I did make the mistake of not measuring and marking where I wanted the axle centerlines before I took it apart. Big mistake. Before removing sheetmetal, mark where you want the axle centerlines. Drill a small hole in the frame so it can't be ground off accidentally.]

The A-arms are tubular and do not require the Mustang strut rods. The C-notches are for rack clearance. I also purchased a small (100amp) MIG welder to do this job, since a local shop wanted thousands to do it. It was a very good investment, but I should have spent a little more to get a bigger and better quality unit. Live and learn. I practiced on scrap metal under the guidance of a neighbor who welds for a living, then jumped in and did the front end. I cleaned and derusted the front frame prior to the install, and never missing the opportunity to do something backa**wards, I POR15'd it too, only to grind and burn half of it off. (IMPORTANT NOTE-- Believe it when it says not to get POR15 on your skin. My hands were black for a week. Good thing I'm not a surgeon). I was worried about screwing this part up, so I did lots of measuring and remeasuring before I clamped it down and tacked it in.

[But I screwed up anyway. See Ebrake - Grille

I got everything in place then did final welding, realizing then I should have had a bigger welder. Cranked all the way up, I get good penetration but can only weld 2" before it thermal cycles and shuts down for 2 minutes. Pain in the dupa and I couldn't get that nice continuous bead look because of the stopping and starting. I should have removed the cab so the frame could be rolled over. Upside down welding is hard, and it would have made the cab repair easier too.

But it turned out ok, and my neighbor says I needn't worry about it falling out. He must be right - I tugged on it pretty hard and it didn't budge ; ) I used POR15 on the front suspension to keep it looking nice.

The brakes, included with the Progressive kit, are mid-80's Camaro and I opted for a stabilizer bar and power steering. When I got to the engine compartment, I decided I didn't want to mess with a PS pump. Went manual and it's fine. I kept the original steering wheel. It looks proper in the truck and a smaller one would make parallel parking with manual steering more interesting.]