Saturday, April 30, 2016

Useful Classic Car Carpeting Tools

Useful Classic Car Carpeting Tools
-Alan Arnell

Installing automotive carpeting and padding is a job that is easy and hard at the same time.  To get started is easy, because two of the most helpful tools that we usually have will help you to better install a new carpet in that 1957 Chevy Bel Air. What is hard is being a idiot and cutting the carpet to the wrong size and to take out all the wrinkles in the carpet.

New carpet is one of the best ways to spruce up your interior.  This plush carpet is is a two piece set made for use with bench seats and has a small gap under the front seat as original.  Danchuk # 10563 will work on any 1955 classic Chevy 2-door hardtop with bench seats. -Danchuk

Where most do-it-yourself auto restorers get in trouble is not cutting the carpet to size. All car floor carpet will arrive at your door over sized.   This is good, because you can always cut it down to size.  Whereas, you can never make a smaller-than-needed floor carpet grow to fill an open gap of floor panel.

Acoustic/Heat Barrier installed in my ‘57 Chevy before I put in the carpet.

When cutting a carpeting set, mark where you would like for the cuts to be made with chalk.  Once you have pre laid the carpet set ready to be cut, sneak into your wife’s kitchen to borrow her electric carving knife.  Yes, the same electric carving knife that you used to carve the turkey on Thanksgiving.  Using the knife follow the chalk marks. Don’t be like me. I seem to always measure once and cut twice!  The knife is a fast and smooth cutting device, much better than an exacto knife that I have founds cuts a ragged line.

This is a Special Order Item. By adding this item to your cart you acknowledge this is a "Special Order Item". As such, you understand it is not returnable or exchangeable. We will only accept returns or exchanges on Special Order Items if the items are damaged or suffer from a manufacturers defect. -Danchuk

If you are a totally stock kind of guy, you would first install appropriate padding before the carpet.  Most of us are modifiers and use acoustic/heat barrier with an adhesive back.  These acoustical & heat control mats are ideal for keeping excess heat and noise from your vehicle's interior. In addition to the polyethylene film, these mats have a foil surface that provides direct protection from radiant heat. These mats are great for use on firewalls, floorboards, and doors. The suppressor mats feature a high temperature adhesive backing and are easy to trim for an excellent fit.

Once your carpet and acoustic/heat barrier is cut, it is time to cut out the holes in the carpet to be able to later access the seats brackets, seat belt anchors, etc.  Locate the places that you will have to cut the holes by using a sharp-pointed scribe and mark them with chalk.

Acoustic/Heat Barrier

The old school next step is to, if you have access to one, is a big-old soldering iron.  Push the heated soldering iron though the carpet at the marked locations.  The old boys back in the day braved the smoke and smell for perfect holes right where you want them and no mess to clean up.  Well, I did not have one when I installed my carpet in my Chevrolet 1957-150 2-door sedan. I used the dreaded and hated exacto knife.  Since, I put my carpet in my car I started going to estate sales.  At those sales I found several old timey soldering irons for sale.

100 watt Early General Electric Soldering Iron Type 1-12 110 Volts, 2.5 Amps
This early electric soldering iron was manufactured by GE. The patent dates listed on the handle are Nov.7, 05 - June 18, 06 - May 10, 1910 - Dec. 5, 1911. Length from tip to end of the handle is 15 inches not including the cord strain relief. The tip is 6" long by 1.5" in diameter.

Friends of mine have recommended to me to use an electric drill for the hole making process.  I only used the drill for one hole in my carpet install.  I found that the drill pulled off great big wads of carpet thread that got tightly wrapped around the drill bit.  A more experienced friend recommended the electric knife.  He stated, that the knife worked great for cutting insulation as well and did not leave really bad frayed cut edges.

All and all, for the best installation practices to make that new carpet look like it came from the factory is to make properly-well placed cuts for proper sizing of the carpet.

Newly, installed do-it yourself Auto Carpet.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rust is the Car Guy’s Enemy

Rust is the Car Guy’s Enemy

-Alan Arnell

My friend Neil keeps a hat on the dash of his 1956 Chevy Bel Air that says, “Rust is my favorite color.”

rust is my favorite color.JPG

Rust is my favorite color.

Rat Rods lovers aside, your average car guy hates rust.  I live in Texas.  People here do not understand rust. Where I grew up in Illinois cars started to rust on the showroom floor back in the day.  When I turned 16 in 1974 there was not a Tri-Five Chevy around that was not a rusted hulk in a field somewhere.  I wanted a ‘57 Chevy in the worst way, but thanks a lot for nothing rust, you ate them all.

My first car was a 1969 Chevelle.  Don’t get excited is was not a 396 SS.  It was a 307 cubic inch-dog of a motor V-8.  I don’t care what you do you can never make a 307 fast with bolt on speed auto parts.  When I got the car in 1975 it was badly rusted.  With a teenager’s enthusiasm I fixed the holes with bondo,  blood, sweat and tears.  Talk about a quick fix.  I used galvanized sheet metal that I screwed in place, covered with great quantities of plastic.  I tried to cut the rusted metal out with tin snips the best I could, which was not very well.

My first car a 1969 Chevelle Malibu

I slapped on the plastic and used a body file to get the shape back close to what it had been.  Then by hand, I sanded the plastic filler smooth.  Ignorance is bliss!  

A $100 MAACO paint job, air shocks and mag wheels and I was ready to go.  Actually, the car looked better than it did before I worked on it.  Sadly, 4 years later all the rust holes came back.

Today, even in Texas it is rare to find a totally rust-free classic car to restore.  The old saying goes, “rust never sleeps.”  As I set here typing on my computer rust is eating my 1957-150 Chevy,  The bottom line is that the classic car owner must kill the rust to prevent further damage.

The best way to combat rust is to completely disassemble the vehicle, have it media-blasted or acid dipped, and then apply metal-etching primer to stop the the hated oxidation of auto sheet metal and other car parts.  Sadly, this is not a viable option for the weekend builder.  

My friend Joel faced the rust predicament restoring his 1968 Camaro in 1993.  He searched all over Texas and finally found an unmolested car without rust in Arizona. When, the car transporter dropped the car off and Joel drove in in his garage he found that indeed the body was rust free, however after 25 years even in Arizona he found the car had a few small water leaks.  There was light rust spots in half a dozen spots on the interior floor, and several more in the trunk.  Luckily, the rust was only to the point of wire brushing and spot puttying, not rusted through or in need of replacement panels

1968 Camaro

Years latter, my friend Danny found and introduced me to Rust-Mort.  The product relies on a slight amount of rust present to convert the rust with a hard impenetrable seal and then keeps oxygen away from the rust.  Rust is also known as  iron oxide, ferric oxide and hematite. The substance is also known by its chemical formula, Fe2O3, which represents the two elements--iron and oxygen--that compose rust.  Rust is both a substance and a verb describing the process that creates the substance. While corrosion is the result of oxidation leaching the metallic properties of metals such as iron, copper and aluminum, rusting is specifically the corrosion of iron. The process occurs most often in alloy steel. The brown and red-colored flakes that appear on iron as the metal deteriorates during the process is referred to as rust.

Converts Rust To a Hard Insoluble, Protective Coating
Must Be Rinsed After 24 Hours
Must Be Painted After Use
Prime Before Using an Enamel, Lacquer or Urethane

After using the Rust-Mort Joel painted a top coat of primer, because left exposed to the elements the hard chemical seal will degrade and rust will reappear.  Joel found out the hard way that Rust-Mort works great on rust, and quickly too, but the liquid is like water.  It ran and dripped everywhere. After his first application he covered everything he don't want touched, because Rust-Mort was very corrosive and left a white film. He found that he also needed to wipe off all excess Rust-Mort. Later, after sweeping under the car Joel found out that the overflow dripped on the flow allowing the Rust-Mort to eat a hole into concrete. Woops!

A pint of the stuff costs around $22 here in North Texas.  I plan on buying some when I start on my ‘57, however I am also going to have to replace several side panels where rust has eaten through old repairs and the right-rear corner panel.  I have learned a little bit since I was 16 and feel confident that I will do better auto body repairs to my hobby car in 2016.  I plan on keeping my classic Chevy for many years to come and would like it to be rust free and shiney.



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Sunday, April 24, 2016

1957 A Time Remembered and the 1957 Chevy Bel Air Fits Right In

1957 A Time Remembered
and the 1957 Chevy Bel Air Fits Right In
  -Alan Arnell

In 1957 the buying public enamored with continued growth of bigger taller tail fins on new cars, Automakers styled their cars with  more lights, bigger with more powerful engines.  The average car sold for $2,749. The Soviet Union launched the first space satellite Sputnik. Movies included "Twelve Angry Men" and "The Bridge Over the River Kwai", and TV showed "Perry Mason" and "Maverick" for the first time. The music continued to be Rock and Roll with artists like "Little Richard". The popular toys were Slinkys and Hula Hoops. Some of the areas that would cause problems later were starting to show South Vietnam is attacked by Viet Cong Guerrillas and Troops are sent to Arkansas to enforce anti segregation laws.

Sputnic and the Soviet Cold War Scare

Technology was being embraced and celebrated.  For example, During July of 1957, test pilot and future astronaut, John Glenn Jr. set a new transcontinental speed record while piloting a F8U Crusader from Los Angeles to New York. He became the first pilot to average supersonic speed during a transcontinental flight and it took three hours and twenty-three minutes to complete. Glenn later became one of the first U.S. astronauts when he was chosen for the Mercury program by NASA in 1959. In addition to being an accomplished test pilot, he became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person to go into space in 1962 aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft.

John Glenn in his record breaking F8U Crusader

The cold war during during 1957 struck fear in the masses living in the USA, especially the school children learning to duck and cover in their classroom  The ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation had a great impact on American domestic life as well. People built bomb shelters in their backyards. They practiced attack drills in all public places. The 1950s and 1960s saw an epidemic of popular films that horrified moviegoers with depictions of nuclear devastation and mutant creatures. In these and other ways, the Cold War was a constant presence in Americans’ everyday lives.

Another family gem of our family traveling through Nevada.  It was a real nice hot day!

As a result, the stakes of the Cold War in 1957 were perilously high. The first H-bomb test, in the Eniwetok atoll in the Marshall Islands, was on people's minds showing just how fearsome the nuclear age could be. The blast created a 25-square-mile fireball that vaporized an island, blew a huge hole in the ocean floor and had the power to destroy half of Manhattan. Subsequent American and Soviet tests spewed poisonous radioactive waste into the atmosphere.

Enewetak, Atoll,  Marshall Islands

Meanwhile, back in the American heartland the populous prospered. Soldiers back from WWII and a 4 year college experience courtesy of Uncle Sam’s GI Bill were making up for lost time making a new spawn of American babies.  1957 was the peak of the Baby Boomer birth years.

My favorite car maker Chevrolet was cruising along after the war’s stop in production of personal automobiles.  The car maker was turning out a line of cars that would eventually be recognized as one of America’s most popular designs.  More than 1.5 million Chevys were produced in 1957.  Actually, Ford made and sold more cars that Chevy in 1957, but the 1957 Ford did not produce the staying power of the general public's fancy as my beloved 1957 Chevy. Chevrolet had a great year in 1957 posting its third best production year for the largest division of General Motors.  

1957 Chevy Bel Air vs 1957 Ford Retractable

Those were the glory years for Chevrolet as the production numbers and their importance has long since faded.  What 50’s lovers remember or like to remember most about 1957 was the simplicity of life and the lack of immediate crisis.  To them, the 1957 embodies those times.

This favorable remembrance of the 1957 Chevy in part is fostered in part to many positive components like economy, styling and power.  The ‘57 Chevy was, some would say, the fuel for the fire of the Muscle Car era. The ‘57 sporty Bel Air symbolized strength to a country anxious about the Soviet Union’s actions in Europe.Fuel injection made it possible for engineers to increase the car’s horsepower, from a maximum of 225 in 1956 to 283 the following year.  Since gasoline was plentiful and cheap, selling around a 24 cents a gallon, few drivers cared about engine efficiency.  Cars not equipped with fuel injection had horsepower ranging from 162 to 270.

One of the most recognized icons in the automotive industry, the '57 Bel Air
Under the hood the V8s got an increase in displacement to 283ci with optional max power output to 283 hp with the Ramjet continuous flow fuel injection.

Ironically, the car’s muscle evolve from an engineering innovation that today is associated with gasoline savings-fuel injections, initially available on Corvettes, fuel injection eliminated the need for a carburetor by monitoring the amount of gasoline squirted into the cylinders.

The car’s “Muscle” reputation was made larger by the car’s leaf spring rear suspension.  The 1957 was that last automobile to feature the suspension system that customizers and car racers loved.  They found it easier to raise and lower the leaf-spring suspension than it successor coil spring system.  

Muscle Car Timeline

Just as the true picture of the 1950’s had become blurred by time, so has one aspect of the 1957 Chevy’s reputation.  Some car guys have equated the muscle image with young men wearing black leather jackets, tight jeans rolled up shirtsleeves and waterfall haircuts.

In fact, there were many engineering innovation in the ‘57 Chevy, like an improved automatic transmission and a hill retarder that provided better braking during downhill runs.

Chevrolet”s appeal to the youth market was still a decade away and in 1957 adults were snapping up the cars.  Styling was one reason.  Elegance was a key work in the ‘50s and Chevrolet had its share.

Smooth As Quicksilver and Quick As They Come!

Crafty designers built the car to look longer than it actually was.  They lowered the body one inch to emphasize the car’s horizontal sweeping lines.  The borrowed the prestigious look of the Cadillac Brougham, especially its hooded headlamps and tail fins.  The latter were as much in vogue in 1957 as horror movies, pizza and frozen foods.

The ‘50s were known more for looks and impressions than practicality, nevertheless the ‘57 Chevy was practical, too.  Because of it short wheelbase, the car handled well and got nearly 19 miles to the gallon.

For all its 1950’s styling featured on the ‘57 Chevy incorporated some engineering and design innovations that would be necessary in the safety and ecology conscious times to come.  There were fuel injection and good gas milage.  Exterior glass, so vital for better visibility, was upped six inches to 75 inches, and here was more interior room, especially head room

Bel Air Convertible Fuel Injection Convertible 1957

Chevrolet was much a part of its time as it was ahead of it.  Its combination of elegance and muscle, hard and soft, was a perfect metaphor for the contradictory 1950’s.  It is understandable why, into days times, people like to look back and dream about the way the thoughts things were.  And perhaps that also explains why the 1957 Chevy, almost any model, has not only kept it strength in the memory of Americans who owned them, but seems destined to be one of the great classics in automotive history.

1957 one of the great classics in automotive history during a iconic time in American History.

1957 Facts

Cost Of Living 1957-How Much things cost in 1957
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 3.34%, Yearly Inflation Rate UK 3.3%, Average Cost of new house $12,220.00, Average Monthly Rent $90.00, Average Yearly Wages $4.550.00, Cost of a gallon of Gas 24 cents, Bacon per pound 60 cents, Eggs per dozen were 28 cents, HI FI Portable Record Player was $79.95, Children's Shoes $5.95

Popular Culture

Elvis Presley purchases a mansion in Memphis, Tennessee and calls it Graceland
The Cavern Club opens in Liverpool ( Where the Beetle's started )
The Film Jailhouse Rock premiers with Elvis Presley
"American Bandstand" the teenagers chart music show makes its network debut on ABC

Popular Films

The Ten Commandments
Around the World in Eighty Days
12 Angry men
Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Three Faces of Eve

Popular Books
The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
From Russia with Love - Ian Fleming
The Guns of Navarone - Alistair MacLean

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Engine Water Temperature You gotta know what is going on

Engine Water Temperature

You Gotta Know What's Going On

  -Alan Arnell

In Texas it gets hot, damn hot, as a matter of fact. As the Texas old saying goes, “Hotter than a firecracker lit on both ends!” In those blistering hot summer months every car guy wants to insure that the engine of his or her beloved classic car does not overheat destroying the engine.

The factory Tri-Five temperature gauge is very vague and has no temperature numbers on the gauge. The so called numberless panel just has a needle that swings from C to H. It’s a mistake, however, to think that this type of gauge is giving you an accurate readout of your car’s motor temperature. In fact, that middle section of the gauge, between the cold and the hot readings, can represent a wide range of temperatures for the car’s engine.  I question the reliability of the 50’s technology.  This layman believes the Tri-Five dash gauges are not a good as today's newer model aftermarket temperature gauge.

1955 Bel Air Dash Instrument Cluster

1956 Bel Air Dash Instrument Cluster

1957 Bel Air Dash Instrument Cluster

Try towing something, or even fully loading your vehicle with your large friends, and driving up a long incline.  Sure your numberless gauge might show the needle closer to H but what does that really mean? Is the H on the gauge 210 or 250 degrees.  The boiling point of water is 212 degrees, however the radiator is a pressurized system and should be filled with coolant that raises the boiling point.  

The pressure cap on a cooling system is the key to raising the boiling point of the 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. For every pound of pressure the cap provides increases the boiling of point of the coolant mixture 3 degrees. If you had plain water in your cooling system with a 15 pound pressure cap the water would boil @ 257 degrees. If you had a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water the coolant would boil @ 265 degrees with a 15 pound cap. The boiling point would raise to 270 degrees if you had a 60% antifreeze mixture with a 15 pound cap. If you had a 70% mixture the boiling point would raise to 276 degrees.

FYI:  A good temperature for a classic Chevy engine is usually 160 to 180 degrees. If you reach 200 when siting, but the temperature reduces when driving that is O.K.

Any car can be damaged by overheating. Overheat the engine enough and you will blow a head gasket and be in for an expensive repair. A car’s temperature gauge should accurately inform you of the coolant temperature so you may know when to make adjustments to stop the engine’s overheating.  If your engine overheats but the head gasket do not blow the high temp heat soak into the cylinder head may cool too quickly after the engine is shut down.  This rapid cooling of the heads will produce cracks between the cylinder and water jackets of the engine.
After an engine warms up and little bubbles appear in the coolant like this that indicate a blown head gasket.
Coolant in the oil that causes your engine oil to become a milky chocolate milk which is a sure sign that there is a blown head gasket.  Other signs are if the engine is running poorly (skipping, hesitating, or lack of power). Another symptom may be excessive pressure in the crankcase causing extreme blow by out the oil cap or engine oil seals.

White exhaust smoke is one sure sign of a blown head gasket

I prefer to have a metered gauge for the coolant temperature on the dash, rather than a stock Tri-Five gauge or warning light.  I regularly look at the coolant temperature gauge and the voltage and oil pressure gauges while I drive. I know where the gauges’ needles should sit while driving.  If I see something abnormal I can jump on the problem straight away.

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu fuel gauge warning lights

A better coolant gauge can also indicate problems well before anything mechanically needs to be fixed. For example, in an engine where the temperature rises while travelling at highway speeds is a concern.  The gauge at speed should be reading close to temperatures shown at idle.  When is was 16 years old my 1969 Chevy Chevelle had this problem.  I found after inspection of the engine fan by wiggling it up and down that the water pump shaft could be move up and down and had worn out bearings.  The pump’s impeller was not allowed to pump enough coolant at speed to adequately cool the engine.

Chevelle SS 396

Later in life I owned a 1978 Chevy Corvette Pace Car. I discovered from the metered gauge that the car was running cold. This fact told me that the thermostat was stuck open. This is something that I would never have known about without a proper gauge.

1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car

There was also the problem back in the good old days in cars with only the warning light.  If you lost the coolant out of the engine’s cooling system the light wouldn't come on, because there was no hot coolant to tell the warning light switch that it was hot.  A temperature sender just sitting inside a hot manifold with no fluid will not trigger some warning lights and older gauges may not be sensitive enough to show the problem.

Installing a Water Temperature Gauge

Water temperature gauges come two different in metering methods. You may buy a gauge that either gauges the engine temperature by electrical or mechanical means.  

Electrical Gauge

  1. When installing an electrical water gauge, a special sending unit must be installed to the engine.  Small-block Chevys have pipe plug fittings in each cylinder head and most intake manifolds.  
  2. Before starting the installation drain the the coolant before removing the plug.  
  3. A 18-gauge wire is used to create a suitable ground for the electrical gauge.
  4. Connect the sending unit to the terminal marked “S” for sender on the gauge.
  5. Connect a switched 12-volt source to the terminal marked “I” for ignition.  
  6. The wire to the engine will be routed through the fire wall.  A rubber grommet must be used to prevent chaffing.

AutoMeter Water Temp Gauge Wiring Diagram

Engine Coolant Temperature Sending Unit Sender

Mechanical Gauge

  1. When installing a mechanical water gauge a special sealed tube relays engine temperature information to the gauge.
  2. The fitting will require a larger hole in the firewall to route the tube.  
  3. With mechanical temperature gauges pass the tube through the gauge panel first. a rubber grommet must be used.  If you don’t you might have hot water spraying on your feet.

Mechanical Water Temperature Gauge - Stewart Warner Deluxe

Find a good location for the gauge so that the engine water temperature is only a glance away and out of sight and out of mind.

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Texas Classic Chevy Experience will post blogs about: Hot Rods, Chevy, Chevrolet, Drag Racing, Car Shows, Classic Cars, Custom Cars, Muscle Cars, How to Tech. posts, Dallas Area Classic Chevy Club, Texas Muscle Car Challenge, Tri-Five Nationals, Lone Star Chevy Convention, Classic Car lists, Classic car links, Spotters guides, Car Shows, Swap meets, Book reviews and More.

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