Chuck the Truck's 52 Chevy - Dash,Engine, & Primer

The dash had been cut for an add-on temperature gauge and drilled for turn signal indicators, switches, fuses, and a radio. Despite the updated running gear, I want the truck to look stock inside so I plugged the extra holes.

I went to a friendly, neighborhood junkyard and put in an order for a 350, 700r4 trans, and a Camaro 8.5" rear end. A week later I got the call that they just got a donor for the engine and rear end, a 79 Z28 that just got wrecked. They delivered both plus a 700r4 from an 88 pickup. Since it was a running engine, I was just going to clean it off and paint it. Well, best laid plans and all that, I noticed that the fan and fan clutch took a good hit in the accident and it was leaking oil, so it couldn't hurt to pull tin, take a peek, and regasket. Rolled it over on the stand and water (no antifreeze) ran out - not good (This is December in Illinois). A chunk of piston skirt in the pan? Oh well, a little rebuild won't hurt. Stripped it down, and off to the machine shop. Degreased, magnafluxed, and I had a junk block and 2 junk heads. All cracked, the block a huge freeze crack just below the deck. I should have seen it before I dropped it off.

Back to the yard, no problem, we'll get you another runner. In the meantime, a buddy offered that he knew someone giving away a 4-bolt block and he could bring it over the next day. Sure, sez I, but when he dropped it off it looked like it had been sitting at the bottom of Lake Michigan for a decade. The machinist agreed that it was too rusty to even consider. The boneyard came through with another runner and despite my efforts to just paint it and drop it in, I couldn't leave well enough alone (I do like engine work) and tore it down too. Off to the machine shop and another cracked block, this time at the end of a head bolt boss. By now I'd spent a lot of money on junk and was thoroughly disgusted. Several weeks of cogitation and I decided it was an omen to NOT put a V8 in my truck. I tried to locate the six that came out (I was really dumb and got rid of it too soon), but it was long gone. The guy I gave it to did however have a 250 that came out of a runner (that's the story - I never saw it run). It would bolt up to that 700 trans so I took it.

[I really like the 250 and with current gas prices I'm not complaining about consistent 20-22 MPG, albeit with a light right foot.]

Ok, Chuck, just clean it and paint it. Well gaskets. And a water pump just to be safe. Oil pump only $25?, OK sell me one. Got the pan off and saw runner yes, but they could have changed oil more often - pretty sludgy. Just peeked at the cam - pretty worn - and before I knew what was happening it was all apart. It is now at the machine shop. Previously someone misused a ridge reamer (I've never used one since I learned during my auto parts store days it's more often a misused tool) and the cylinders require a 0.060" bore to clean up. The head needs intake valves, all the guides, and hardened exhaust seats too. The crank just needed a polish. Good thing I brought in now, rather than after a month on the road.

[45000 miles and she's running great. No rattles, and just a quart between oil changes.]

I painted up the exterior parts while everything was at the shop. Reading the can of Hi-Temp paint for the exhaust manifold (off of a 292), I realized I didn't have a 600 degree oven necessary to bake the paint. I improvised with my burning barrel. The coals were really gIowing - it was a windy day. I think it worked well.

Stripping the cab, getting ready to prime it. It was recommended that I prime before any filler work, so I'm trying it that way. The primer is PPG NCP271, a two part, corrsion resistant primer. It went on beautifully. I still haven't figured out which holes in the firewall I'll need. Looks like swiss cheese.

[And I still have holes. I should have welded them all up and drilled what I needed. And epoxy primer next time too.]

Something I learned along the way is that the hardener for the NCP (and the Concept color as well) has a shelf life of 14 days after opening. I had bought a quart can and read that as I was opening it, but knew I wouldn't use it all in that time. Clever me, I sealed the partial can hardener in a Ziploc bag. As usual, it came back and bit me. I used the last of it about a month after priming one of the doors. Looked ok, but as I was sanding it a chunk flaked off. It had no cohesiveness. I should have stopped then, but I went ahead with the interior color. I then layed down the outer body color, thinking all was fine. As I removed the masking tape the interior paint and primer came of with it. Bummer. So I have one door to do over, but I learned to buy the small cans of hardener. They are cheaper in the long run.

[Second thoughts (3 months later):I just noticed the access covers for the doors are RUSTING! Granted, I grabbed these at the last minute, knocked the loose rust off, and primed them, but if the stuff says anti-corrosion, I expect miracles. The back side, primed only with the NCP is showing rust. I'm not sold on the NCP; next time I'll use epoxy primer. 01/08 - I still haven't stripped that door, but I'm planning on fixing it and repainting the whole truck. Stupid! I should stopped right then and fixed it.]

The cowl panel shows up better in gray.

The passenger side shows how deep the factory recess is for the cowl panel joint. It was leaded at the factory, but I haven't done lead so I'm using a short strand glass reinforced filler (Kitty Hair) for everything but the final scratch coat

The Speedometer Shop converted gauges. The faces are silk-screened not decals. The chrome is perfect; the glass is new. I am very pleased with the quality of work, and I am anxious to see them in action.

They have been great in actual use and I have long forgotten the cost.

This is the well-built and complete master/booster assembly from Classic Performance. The bracket replaces the existing column brace.

Now that I'm putting it together, the stock brace will fit also, for addded stiffness, but it does make access to the gauges trickier. 01/08 -- It is working great though, with no sign of stress cracks in the firewall. In the Summer of 07 the booster developed a vacuum leak. I contacted Classic Performance to buy a replacement and they replaced it no charge under Lifetime Warranty. Great company! I'll buy more from them.

I was surprised by the beefiness of this unit. It is SOLID, no short cuts here. It comes complete with the combo valve mounted next to the master. A test fit is due soon, but I won't install it until the cab and firewall are painted.