How to: C-Notching Truck Frame Rails

Top Notch - C-Notching Rails From Art Morrison Enterprises

There’s only so far you can lower a vehicle before the suspension bottoms out, or the rearend hits the chassis. We knew when we planned out this ’56 F-100 frame that we’d have to C-notch the framerails for clearance if we were to achieve the desired ride height. Art Morrison Enterprises installed their front and rear suspension at the beginning of the project, while we’d tackle the C-notch ourselves at a later date. That time had come!

When we received the rolling chassis back from AME, there was a little under 2 inches clearance between the rearend and frame, which clearly wasn’t enough. We decided to C-notch the rails by another 4 inches, giving us plenty of suspension movement and room for a bumpstop. However, this would put the top of the C-notch very close to the top of the rails, and given that the coilovers mounted behind the rearend, and thus the rails had to retain plenty of strength, substantial additions to the framerails were required to prevent the rails bending.

We also elected to raise the entire bed floor rather than just a section over the rearend, retaining a factory appearance. This entailed fabricating new mounting lips around the entire perimeter of the bed, as well as a framework underneath the floor, replacing the two factory crossmembers. When finished, to the uninitiated, the floor will appear factory. An added bonus means we’ll have extra room to mount the gas tank under the floor without it hanging down too low.

Truck Bed 2/25

1. The bed still fit on our chassis after the modifications by Art Morrison Enterprises, but the new 20×12 Billet Specialties wheels weren’t going to fit and clear the stock bedsides. The first order of business was to remove a section of the original wood floor.

Miller Plasma Cutting Sheetmetal 3/25

2. Using a space saver wheel and tire as a guide, we used our Miller plasma cutter to remove enough sheetmetal to clear the new rubber.

Semi Circular Cut 4/25

3. Using the space saver ensured a nice even semi-circular cut.

Borrowed Wheels 5/25

4. As we didn’t have the new wheels and tires yet, we borrowed a set of 20×8 wheels. Though not the right width, they were the correct overall diameter.

Checking Ride Height 6/25

5. We quickly hung one of the old rear fenders to get an idea of the ride height. Our calculations had worked out perfectly, with the top of the wheel lining up with the fender lip. The new wheels will be 1-inch further inboard to clear the lip.

Marked Chassis Rail 7/25

6. We marked the chassis rail with the centerline of the rearend, plus the width of the axle tubes.

Removed Bed 8/25

7. The bed was then removed, as well as the rearend and suspension, to prevent the latter becoming covered in debris from the next stage of work. The chassis was set up to be horizontal front to rear and side to side. We also temporarily welded “legs” from the ends of the rails to the floor, which would allow us to see if the rails warped during forthcoming welding.

Clamping Plate In Place 9/25

8. With a level clamped to the sides of the rails, we could clamp a length of 3⁄16-inch plate in place. The same thickness as the rails, these will form the chassis kick-up.

Marked Plates For Cutting 10/25

9. The plates were then marked for plasma cutting the top of them 3 inches above the top of the original kick-up.

Clamping Cut Plates In Place 11/25

10. With two plates plasma cut to shape, they were clamped in place as shown, so their outer faces aligned with the sides of the chassis rails.

Cutting Lengths Of Tube 12/25

11. We cut three lengths of 1⁄2-inch tube we had laying around, to act as spacers, welded them in place, then started tack welding the kick-up plates to the rails.

Checking Kick Ups 13/25

12. We broke out the level once again to ensure the kick-ups were even side to side and diagonally.

Continuing Welds 14/25

13. With both kick-ups in place we continued welding, an inch or so at a time to minimize warpage, and added the top plates as we went.

Transfering Axle Centerlines Outside Rails 15/25

14. With closing plates on the ends, and the welds dressed, we transferred the axle centerline to the outside of the rails…

Marked Area For C Notch 16/25

15. …then marked the location of the axle tubes at the top of the desired C-notch, and marked the shape of the C-notch around that. Not wishing to cut into the AME coilover mount gusset too far, we decided to cut the rear of the C-notch to allow as much of the gusset to remain as possible.

Removed Section 17/25

16. With the section removed using a cut-off wheel, we bent two lengths of 2×3⁄16-inch plate to box in the C-notch.

Plsama Cut Plates 18/25

17. The plasma cutter and a couple holesaws in a pillar drill made short work of these plates, which will be welded around the C-notch for added strength. We opted to do this as the coilovers mount behind the axle.

Mounting Strengthening Plates 19/25

18. Here’s how the strengthening plates will mount. We’ll also weld around the circular cutouts, maximizing the added strength across the welded joint. This is why we ground the welds on the outside of the ’rails.

Completed C Notches 20/25

19. With the C-notches done, and the remainder of the bed floor removed, the bed was placed back on the chassis.

Fabricating Floor 21/25

20. Astute readers will realize that the original floor would not clear the C-notch, and we’ll either need a raised section across the center of the bed, or what we consider preferable, a flat floor, raised to clear everything. We started fabrication by clamping lengths of thick-wall 1-inch box section on the outsides of the bed to ensure it remained straight.

Replicating Lips 22/25

21. We wanted to retain a stock appearance to the raised floor, which means replicating the lips that the original bolts to along the lower edge of the bedsides. We used 1x1x1⁄8-inch angle, and copied the mounting holes over. Of course we had to file each one square individually, in order to use the stock-style carriage bolts.

Fabricating Under Floor Framework 23/25

22. We also needed to fabricate an under-floor framework, as the two stock bed-wood crossmembers were now redundant. We used more 1×1-inch box section, and welded them to 1⁄8-inch plates welded to the lower bedsides, with gussets. The new floor will be 4 inches higher than the original, and the wood will sit on the new crossmembers, and bolt to the angle.

Fabricated Triangular Mounts 24/25

23. We then fabricated four triangular mounts that weld to the crossmembers and bolt to the chassis rails. Front to rear gussets were deemed unnecessary as the forward-and rearward-most mounts will prevent the bed moving in either direction.

Completed Frame Work 25/25

24. The completed framework. We won’t cut the lengths of angle or the braces on the outer bedsides until the new wheelhousings are in place.


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Posted in Truck

’59 Fuelie Corvette After 44 Years

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Side View View Full Gallery

Michael Prince could hardly contain his excitement. He’d heard stories of his father’s ’59 fuel-injected Corvette all his life, and now he was the winning bidder for the car, walled up inside a barn for 44 years. As Prince stated, “I had to chain saw trees that were 16 inches in diameter.” Then, once inside the barn, Prince had to tear down wooden walls the owner had placed around the ’59 Vette to keep lookie-loos away from his treasure.

But, the story gets even stranger. For most of his life Michael Prince actually knew the owner, Carroll Johnson. “There was a period of time of about three years, from 2004 to 2007, when I saw him almost every work day.” The two worked for Prince’s uncle. Many times, Prince would ask if he could take a look at it or if he’d be willing to sell it.

Johnson wouldn’t say no. Instead, he would “just walk away.” Growing up, Michael heard stories from his father about the Snowcrest White, fuel-injected/four-speed Vette. Right after buying the Vette, his father “promptly removed the hubcaps and chromed the wheels and added chrome center caps to complement the wide whites.”

“He told me about running the car on Mulholland Dr. I’ve got pictures of the car with drag racing trophies sitting on the hood and the decklid.” The ’59 was a winner at the dragstrip, but wasn’t as dominant when the ’60 Corvette fuelies came out. So, Michael said his father explained how he and his brother simply went to the Chevy dealer and bought the improved ’60 model fuel-injection unit. Suddenly, he was competitive again and back on top.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Front Window 2/6

The ’59 Vette was walled up inside an inner structure inside a barn.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Engine Bay 3/6

The engine was originally fuel injected, swapped out years ago for a four-barrel carburetor.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stock Interior 4/6

The interior was stock, but obviously tarnished by time.

The ’59 was a piece of family history from long ago and far away that intrigued Michael, who was born in 1967. His father had “a barrage of cars: a ’57 Chevy, a ’58 Chevy, a ’65 GTO. Dad was from a little town called Campobello, which is just north of Spartanburg, S.C. He moved back there, from California, in the early 1960s and took the Vette with him.”

Soon, the ’59 Vette was well known around the area. Harold kept the car pretty much stock. In 1963, Pontiac introduced the Grand Prix and Harold “had to have one.” He traded in his ’59 Vette. One of Harold’s childhood friends, Carroll Johnson, hustled down to the dealership to purchase the ’59 Vette. Johnson replaced the fuel-injection unit with a four-barrel carburetor and painted the Vette blue. He traded the chromed wheels for a set of aluminum mags.

Johnson drove the car for 5-6 years in the area and took it with him on a move to Atlanta. There, the car suffered front-end damage. When Johnson returned to Campobello in 1969, many potential buyers kept stopping by trying to buy the Vette. So, Johnson pulled the car into a barn on his parent’s farm and eventually virtually entombed the classic Vette to keep prospective buyers away.

Michael Prince told us, “Everybody knew this fellow had bought it from the dealership after my dad had traded it in, and boarded it up inside a barn. It was not unknown, but it was certainly unseen.” When his parents died, Carroll Johnson and his brother moved into the old home place on the farm. His brother died earlier and Carroll died in 2013, leaving 21 cars and all his possessions, including the Vette. He had no family and no will. His cousin liquidated the estate.

The cars and estate attracted a lot of attention. Michael Prince wanted the Vette and teamed up with his brother David and uncle to bid on a lot of 12 vehicles that included the ’59 Vette. Corvette enthusiasts in the area did not know the ’59 was a fuelie. Bidders could “take a peek” at the old Vette through a door in the barn, but they could not actually get into the space to touch the car and really check it out.

Michael’s dad died three years earlier. He had “wished to get it back,” and had asked Carroll about buying it. However, Carroll was a buyer and never a seller and Michael said Johnson “wouldn’t talk to him [his Dad] either, about the car.” It was with high anticipation that Harold’s son, Michael, cut down the trees to clear a path and then tore down the walls to reveal the Vette he’d dreamed of all his life.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Rear View 5/6

Prince took down the inner walls to reveal the Vette.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Side View 6/6

Prince could hardly believe he would finally own the ’59 his father bought new so many years ago, and which he had heard about his whole life.

“Neighbors and people who had heard about the car for all their lives came out to see. I think that they were almost as excited as I was to see that the car actually did exist.” Michael was surprised by how much the Vette had degraded, from “the years sitting in a dirt floor barn as the home to squirrels, ’coons, and field mice.” I wondered about the fuel-injection unit. Yes, Michael found the fuel-injection unit in an adjacent room in the same barn, where he also found the tach-drive distributor.

Another surprise was the original engine was not in the car. Michael and his uncle Jerry hunted through multiple barns on the 60 acres for the 283. He could not find the engine until later when his uncle talked to “this old fellow named Cooter,” who was close friends with Carroll. Cooter led them to the matching-numbers engine in another barn on the property. The ’59 has both tops, a Wonderbar radio, and came from the factory in St. Louis with the 290-horse fuel-injected 283. “I’m pretty sure it has Positraction, too,” Michael said.

He plans a complete restoration, but just got the car. One more mystery remains. As of this writing the next thing he plans to do is get the trunk open. Legend has it that Johnson rounded up N.O.S. parts to fix the front end and those components are supposedly in the trunk.

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Posted in General Motors, Interesting Stuff

The Best Damn Camaro In Town

Rear Passenger Side Top ViewWhat happens when you combine one of the most notable muscle car collectors in North America and a super-rare GM prototype racing engine—an engine tweaked by one of the greatest driver/mechanic/designers to grace our nation’s racetracks—and then you give the collector full reign to do whatever he pleases?

Well, this collector car guru found a numbers-matching 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Rally Sport and joined the engine and car in a harmonious relationship of tire-shredding torque, straightaway-ripping horsepower, and road-course handling. It’s a fine union between big-brand product development and late ’60s racing tech.

Flash back 20 years. Car collector Carl Dwiggins of Conover, North Carolina, at one time or another had owned virtually every rare muscle car built. One day he got in touch with a certain fellow in California who had a knack for finding rare vintage iron. The discussion led to an engine he had recently bought at auction at Smokey Yunick’s “Best Damn Garage in Town” in Daytona, Florida. It was a rare prototype that Chevrolet had been working on with Smokey for the Trans-Am racing series. Carl wound up trading a ’58 Buick convertible for the engine, but he just had to have it.

It was Chevy’s Vince Piggins who set the wheels in motion to develop this exotic engine back in June 1968. Its main focus was a set of modified hemispherical-chambered aluminum heads. Each head contained massive ports you could literally put your fist through. A set of 2.05-inch intake and 1.94-inch exhaust valves was installed to increase air/fuel and exhaust flow through the heads.

A unique cross-ram, dual-four-barrel manifold was cast to fit the cylinder heads. Special oversized 12.5:1 pistons were developed to reach the 305ci displacement limit of the Trans-Am series. Even the block had subtle touches: It was relieved in order to clear the large exhaust valves. Inside, a specially designed camshaft was installed to kick the big valves. The prototype hemi small-block was topped off by magnesium valve covers that look like they would fit even a big-block, due to the canted-valve arrangement.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z 28 Hemi Head 302ci Small Block 3/8 In the thick of the Trans-Am pony car wars, GM experimented with a hemi-head version of the 302 small-block in a quest for more power. Ultimately the idea was scrapped, and the prototype mill fell into the hands of Smokey Yunick. Even ol’ Smokey couldn’t make the design work, so the hemi was set aside in his “Best Damn Garage” until it was auctioned and eventually made its way into the yellow Z.

Unfortunately, all did not go well with the buildup, but Chevy Engineering did learn a lot from the design. The short-stroke 302 was found to be overventilated due to the oversize intake valves, decreasing the velocity of the incoming fuel charge. Thus, the engine just couldn’t get the density of air and fuel it needed to produce the expected power levels. Though there was a slight increase in horsepower, the torque curve dropped, thus changing the race 302’s potent power band.

The engineers concluded that the hemispherical head package did not offer enough power gain to justify the cost of the expensive aluminum heads. When GM finished its best efforts with this setup, Smokey Yunick got a chance at further development of the hemi head design. Unfortunately, even with Smokey’s prowess, the final decision was to axe the program. Fortunately for Chevy fans, Smokey kept this engine. Though it didn’t quite reach the results that Chevrolet wanted, it was still a very potent race-ready small-block, itching to be retrofitted in a pony car racer.

Once Carl had the engine in his possession, he went to Dave Tinnell of Edmonton, Kentucky, for a transplant into something worthy of its pedigree. Dave had pioneered some high-end restorations over the years, using his skills on a number of the rarest Chevys. Yenkos, COPOs, ZL1s, LS6s, and many others from Carl’s extensive collection had been worked on or restored by Dave.

After discussing the matter, Carl and Dave hatched a plan to build the ultimate Z/28 that never made it off a Chevrolet production line, using a ’69 Z/28 Rally Sport that Dave had bought earlier for the car’s chassis. It would serve as the ultimate moving engine stand for Smokey’s prototype hemi motor.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z 28 Interior With Yellow Houndstooth Upholstery 4/8 Here’s something you don’t see every day: yellow houndstooth upholstery. The Z/28 originally came with black vinyl, but Carl and Dave opted for the brighter seat covers during the car’s restoration.

Dave went through the Daytona Yellow Z/28 with a fine-tooth comb during its resto. When was the last time you saw a yellow houndstooth interior? Even though this car came with black vinyl upholstery originally, the bright skins really look at home in the yellow Camaro.

The interior is complemented by a rosewood steering wheel, a console with gauges, and a factory tachometer in the woodgrain dashboard. Other Bow Tie exotica on the Camaro includes an ultrarare fiberglass cross-ram hood to fit over the dual four-barrel carburetors, an NC8 chambered exhaust system, and radio and heater delete plates. A set of original Firestone Sports Car 200 tires was sourced to fit period correct Torq-Thrust wheels, giving the car the ultimate Trans-Am racer look.

Now, every restoration has a problem or two, and this one was no different. While working through the engine, Dave found that the 302 needed a set of valve cover gaskets, a pretty rare deal since these were experimental heads. Carl called Smokey (the build was done years ago, when Smokey was still alive) to see if he had an extra set lying around. Luckily, Yunick had one pair remaining, but he wanted something in return, namely a four-barrel intake for a ’55 Chevy. Like two kids at a baseball card swap meet, the two agreed to trade parts.

Smokey’s attention to detail was legendary, and Carl experienced it firsthand when the gaskets showed up. Two pieces of wood were used to form a box. One side had the exact shape and depth of the gaskets routed out of it. Once the halves were screwed together, there was no way the “unobtainable” gaskets could be hurt.

Another delay was avoided when Carl decided to hijack a transmission from the restoration of a ’69 Yenko Camaro that he was doing at the same time. He must have had a nice in-house supply shop, to say the least.

The Camaro’s current owner, Fred Phillips, first saw this car for sale in the spring of 1990, but back then he could not agree on a price. He didn’t leave empty-handed; he bought a super-rare ’69 Rally Sport COPO Camaro that he still owns today.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z 28 Front Top View 5/8 A rare fiberglass cross-ram hood was fitted during the car’s restoration to clear the engine’s dual four-barrel carbs.

However, like a beautiful woman who steals your heart the moment you lay eyes on her, the hemi Z was never far from Fred’s mind. About 10 years ago he got another shot at the car, and he was finally able to purchase it, along with a beautiful ’80 Motion Camaro, from Charley Lillard of Woodland, California.

There is no other Z/28 that sounds like this ’69. With the 12.5:1 pistons and the chambered exhaust, the raspy note is unlike anything else on the street. Smokey would be glad to know that his motor is still alive and riding inside a true American classic.

If you ever find yourself near Calgary in western Canada, you can tour Fred’s collection of American muscle and European sports cars by inquiring at

At a Glance
1969 Camaro Z/28
Owned by: Fred Phillips, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Restored by: Dave Tinnell, Edmonton, KY
Engine: Chevrolet prototype 302 hemi-head V-8
Transmission: Muncie M22 4-speed manual
Rearend: 3.73 gears
Interior: Yellow houndstooth bucket seat
Wheels: 15×7 American Racing Torq-Thrust
Tires: E70-15 Firestone Sports Car 200
Special parts: GM/Smokey Yunick hemi-head prototype 302ci small-block engine, radio/heater deletes, fiberglass cross-ram hood, NC8 chambered exhaust


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Posted in Industry News

Roadkill Episode 40: The Crop Duster!

Roadkill Episode 40: The Crop Duster!

As if the the guys at Hot Rod didn’t already have enough of them, David Freiburger, and Mike Finnegan uncover another Roadkill project car! Even better, it’s one of Freiburger’s forgotten project cars. The Crop Duster is the result of multiple trades with an old buddy, and around five years of neglect in the dirt of a grape farm. With General Mayhem relieving its motorhome 440 from duty in exchange for a blown Hellcat motor, Freiburger knew exactly where the 440 could find a home. The trick is, they need to head the farm ran by Steve Dulcich, editor of Engine Masters Magazine, to drag the Duster out of the field, and then attempt to adapt the 440 to the Duster in five days. There might have been some butchered headers, an ill-advised homemade driveshaft, honest bodywork, and a few upgrades in the process. Then it’s was off to the chassis dyno and the drag strip to see how well the Crop Duster flies! Thanks for support from MSD Performance and from Optima, the new Official Battery of Roadkill!

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Posted in Videos

Last Stage III Camaro by Nickey Chevrolet heads to auction

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

From the late 1950s onward, Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, Illinois, built a reputation as one of the country’s go-to dealers for high performance parts, and later, turnkey cars. When the Camaro debuted in 1967, Nickey claimed to be the first to drop a 427 V-8 between its fenders, and into the 1970s did a brisk business in selling modified Camaros (and other Chevy models). When Nickey Chevrolet became Keystone Chevrolet in December of 1973, the production of modified cars at the dealership ceased; next month, a 1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro, believed to be the last one built by Nickey Chevrolet, will cross the auction block in Indianapolis.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

To be clear, Nickey Chevrolet ceased building high-performance cars in December of 1973, but at the same time Nickey Chicago opened its doors. Started by former Nickey Chevrolet vice president Al Seelig and former dealership parts manager Don Swiatek, Nickey Chicago continued to sell parts, tuning services and complete cars until the business shut down a second time in 1977. Even this wasn’t the end of the Nickey name; about the time that Chevrolet revived the Camaro in 2010, Stefano Bimbi  reopened Nickey Chicago, specializing in modifications to the latest generation of Chevrolet Camaros.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

The original owner of the yellow 1974 Camaro carrying VIN 1S87K4N128358 had read about Nickey’s performance modifications, and wanted a car of his own for high-speed highway cruising. Ordered in Type LT trim, the car was delivered to Nickey Chevrolet on November 17, 1973, and the conversion took place immediately after. As GM was no longer supplying assembled L88 V-8s by this point in time, Nickey ordered an L88 short block and the components required to build the engine in house.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

As delivered, the Nickey Stage III Camaro’s V-8 came with cast iron heads for durability, instead of L88′s usual aluminum castings; 12.5:1 compression; and a Holley 4053 780 cfm carburetor perched atop an LS6 intake manifold. Given the car’s road-centric mission, it was ordered with 3.23 gearing in the Positraction rear, which would have been a suboptimal setup for dragstrip use but probably yielded slightly better fuel economy. The original owner held on to the Nickey Camaro for the next16 six years before selling the car to Rocco Lucente around 1980.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Lucente reportedly drove the car for a few months before parking it in the basement garage of his mother’s house and pulling the engine, intent on making a few revisions to improve driveablility. Other projects took priority, and the car sat disassembled for the next 28 years, until Lucente’s mother forced the issue. Placed for sale locally, the car was found by Stefano Bimbi, the man behind Nickey Chicago’s latest rebirth, who quickly cut a deal for the Camaro and soon after sold the car to Mike Guarise.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Guarise sent the Camaro to Muscle Car Designs for a complete restoration and build to “Day Two” specifications. Making it quicker off the line, 4.56 gearing was added to the 10-bolt Positraction rear, a set of Lakewood traction bars were installed and air-adjustable Gabriel Hi-Jacker shocks were fitted. Inside, the carpeting was replaced, but most of the remaining interior parts are said to be original.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Shown at the 2013 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, the Camaro scored 999 out of a possible 1,000 points, enough to capture the award for the Best Chevrolet in the Modified class. As for proof that this was the last Camaro put together at Nickey Chevrolet before the operation moved to Nickey Chicago, that’s a bit tougher to come by. Still, the car has been certified as a genuine Nickey build, and the date of the 427 conversion makes it highly unlikely that any further Stage III cars were assembled after this. Given the car’s show-ready condition, 33,000 original miles and place in muscle car history, Mecum is predicting a selling price between $135,000 and $175,000 when the car crosses the stage in Indianapolis on May 16.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro. Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions.


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Posted in Auction News, Interesting Stuff

Giving Roadkill’s Vette-Kart a competitor!

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

Have you ever wondered what life would look like if you had X-ray vision? Well, don your most flattering set of undergarments and climb into this Dodge Viper SRT-10 project. You’ll match the candid birthday suit motif, and you’ll be driving the most awesome modern Mad Max Go-Kart ever.

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares1

This 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Convertible started life as any new sports car – on a dealer’s lot, perhaps having a few butts sit in its cushy leather before some aging 10-percenter finances it over the course of six years, leaving it to his wife in the divorce in year four, right after the warranty runs out.

This car in particular, had a slight boo-boo that gave the issuing insurance company reason to declare it a total loss, although the seller says the car comes with a clean title. Right. According to the seller, the frame was damaged but set straight, and barring some body panels and some minor body work, this car is good to go. I’d have other plans.

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

Here’s what I’d do: Fasten some universal trailer lights to the back, put some enclosed headlights for the front, and zip tie the license plates on. To my knowledge, there’s no law that says your car has to have body panels, right? That is, if the seller’s description of the car is up to scratch. Here’s an excerpt:

“This vehicle was involved in a collision which slightly pushed the left hand frame rail back. As you can see from the pictures provided in the link above, we put the vehicle on our frame machine and pulled the rail back into place. The rear frame near the passenger roll bar also show some dents. This is not an un-hit frame but it is very useable”

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

If I had the disposable income, I’d pay the reasonable price of entry for this 500+ horsepower go-kart. There’s a good chance that you could make it into a running and driving clean example of a modern Viper with the missing body panels, or you could just act out your 12-year old fantasy of making a death machine that whizzes, bangs, and pops with the aesthetics of a midnight forest fire. Amateurs need not apply.


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Posted in Industry News

How to Fire an Engine That’s Been in Storage

How to Fire an Engine That's Been in Storage

Car Craft recently helped a friend pull a 1955 Chevy out of a yard where it had been sitting for more than two decades. The tires had sort of flat-spotted by growing into the ground, and the keys were long gone. The ’55 had been such a deal because it had an oddball 305/TH400 combo that had been swapped in after the original motor had nuked years ago. But the current owner warned us that the 305 had smoked like hell while driving from Idaho to California decades ago, explaining how it ended up getting parked for so long.

While the 305 was planned to just be a stopgap until the ’55 got a 377-cid aluminum-block Donovan engine, we still wanted to get the thing running. With years of an unknown history, we decided to run through a checklist before firing it up for the first time. Other than a set of $450 Weld wheels from Craigslist so it could roll around, the ’55 was just as it was pulled out of hibernation. Here’s what it took to get an unknown motor and transmission combination running and driving again.

02 Fire Extinguisher 2/17

Before starting, we made sure we had the basics on hand: a towel to sop up fluids and, of course, a fire extinguisher. Starting up a vehicle that’s been sitting for a while could mean fuel leaks, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

03 Checking The Oil 3/17

We started with the most basic of questions: does the engine have oil? Even if it does, there can still be issues. Water contamination is a common problem, so if the oil is runny or milkshake-colored, it’s best not to even start the car. Ours looked OK, at least for a few seconds of running.

04 Transmission Fluid 4/17

The trans fluid was next, and at this point, we just wanted to make sure there was any ATF in there. When it came to actually driving the car, we checked it in Drive with the brake on to make sure it was still full when the fluid was circulating inside the converter.

05 Radiator 5/17

It’s no fun getting sprayed with cooolant, so we checked the radiator, as well as the hoses, for any large leaks. Although the top of the radiator (borrowed from a Mopar application) was bashed in to clear the hood, it still held water, which was good!

06 Good Battery 6/17

You might be cranking for a while when you first try and fire up an engine, so it’s always good to have a fresh battery on hand, a battery charger, or at least another car and a pair of jumper cables. The borrowed battery we used to start the Chevy had 735 cold-cranking amps, which was more than enough to fire the little 305.

07 Oil Pressure 7/17

One of the few fancy tools we had for our backyard test session was an oil pressure gauge that came off of “some long-forgotten project.” We removed the original sender by the distributor and plugged in the mechanical gauge.

08 Carb Stud 8/17

To spot fuel leaks and other potential problems, we started the engine without the air cleaner. Before doing so, we made sure the carburetor stud was tight, and we took the air-filter wing nut off. The last thing you want is to see either of those falling into the carb of a running engine.

09 Coil Jump Wire 9/17

Because the ignition key was long gone, we had to do some creative wiring to crank the engine, including using a jumper wire to power to the coil. A regular key ignition will be reinstalled when the vehicle hits the street.

010 Belt Tension 10/17

It’s also a good idea to check that the belt(s) is not frayed or cracked. Getting pimp-slapped by a belt flying apart at 2,000 rpm would be no fun.

011 Plug Wire 11/17

You can crank an engine all day, but it will never start if your distributor isn’t in the right spot to fire the engine. We checked for No. 1 versus distributor position the old-school way—by pulling out the No. 1 plug, verifying top dead center, and making sure the rotor in the distributor was pointing roughly in the right direction. While this isn’t exact, you can usually get the timing close enough to get the engine to start. Make sure to keep your face away from the carburetor to avoid backfires (ask us how we know).

012 Carb Linkage 12/17

It’s common for old engines to have gummed-up throttle linkages, so we made sure ours rotated freely and snapped shut when we let go of the throttle arm.

013 Spark Plug Tester 13/17

Spark-plug checking tools are available at most auto-parts stores. They plug into the ignition wire just like a regular spark plug, and if clipped to a good connection to ground, will generate a loud, visible spark each time that plug is supposed to fire. When we cranked our engine over, we could actually see the gizmo sparking away, so we knew the ignition system was working, at least.

014 Gas In Float 14/17

Filling up the carburetor’s float bowl before trying to start the engine will prevent prolonged cranking needed for a mechanical pump to fill the carburetor itself. We used a syringe to fill our Quadrajet’s float bowl with gas. Remember that gasoline vapors are extremely flammable, so check for leaks. If you see any, shut the engine down immediately.

016 Fuel Filter 15/17

A see-through fuel filter can be very helpful in making sure fuel is getting up to the carb. While we could see that the fuel pump was working and providing fuel, we also could see rust was making its way into the filter, so the fuel tank would eventually have to be dropped and cleaned (later).

017 Oil Pressure Gauge 16/17

Depending on how long the engine has been sitting, you may want to remove all the spark plugs, add a few drops of oil into each cylinder, and crank the engine for a few revolutions before enabling the ignition, thus preventing a dry-start condition with the piston rings. At this point, we powered up the ignition and fired the engine. Once it started, we immediately checked the mechanical oil pressure gauge, which read about 40 psi with the engine running at 2,000 rpm. Since this was well within the 10–15-psi per 1,000-rpm guideline, we knew we were in good shape.

018 Engine Running 17/17

We’d checked and double-checked everything, and now our 305 was alive! There was a good amount of smoke (which we expected) but no knocking, ticking, or any other internal noises. It also didn’t leak anything after running for a few minutes, which was surprising. While we’re still a long way to having the Chevy be a running and reliable daily driver, and least we know we’re on our way.


Written by Jason Sands – A Backyard Guide to Starting a Neglected Engine

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