1964 Cutlass Hardtop

Old December 5th, 2016, 06:29 PM
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1964 Cutlass Hardtop

Iíve been working on this for a while. I bought my 64 Cutlass in rough shape (no engine, trans, rear end, etc.) I was also missing a fender, both inner fenders, and bumpers. The passenger door was stuck and there were signs of an engine fire which caused the car to sit since the early 80s.


I originally wanted to replicate my dadís 64 Cutlass (330, 4 speed, white with dark green interior) that he had bought brand new when he was a senior in high school. His old car is still around (less than 5 minutes away) and I tried to buy it from the current owner. They didnít want to sell for sentimental reasons.

Iím waiting for my frame and rear end to be sandblasted prior to powder coating. I decided to put my engine together while I've been waiting to kill time. Honestly, I should fire my sandblaster as Iíve been waiting for months for him to get to it. But heís my dad so what do you do? Besides it would have made the holidays awkward, at best.


A few photos of the engine. It looks huge and I think I will have some hood clearance problems. I am months (years?) away from having enough sheet metal around it to know how much of an issue it will be.


I measured from the top of the air cleaner to the flat base behind the water neck where the casting number is. It measures about 14Ē. I was wondering if those of you with hood clearance issues, and even those of you that donít but it's close, could measure what distance you have and how you remedied clearance issues.
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Old December 7th, 2016, 08:00 PM
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I would totally fire that sandblaster...
That would be tough having your dad's old car just up the road. But, it's looking like yours will be pretty killer. I'm no expert but i think you can assume you will have hood clearance issues. This is going to be a cool build...
Therobski and I are both building '64s as well. We'll be watching...
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Old December 9th, 2016, 02:50 PM
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Well, I had to replace the floors, trunk pan and all the braces. In addition I replaced the section in between the tail lights, both post doors, left front fender, and core support. Yours is a cream puff! Good luck.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 08:20 AM
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Here are before/after photos of the core support. It had the typical rust under the battery tray and an inadvertent hot wrench hole from disassembly. I had a 65 core from my parts car with the same rust areas but used parts to patch it. I also used the lower radiator support from the 65 and put it onto the 64 so I can run a taller radiator. Had to add a tab for the center support but otherwise it fit well.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 08:36 AM
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Lookin' pretty AWESOME!

Why do you think you will have clearance issues? It only seems there is about a 1/2" spacer between the air cleaner and carburetor.
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Old December 14th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Olds64 View Post
Lookin' pretty AWESOME!

Why do you think you will have clearance issues? It only seems there is about a 1/2" spacer between the air cleaner and carburetor.

That's why I was looking for measurements of other people's set ups because I really don't know. From what I read the Edelbrock performer manifold adds 1 3/4" from stock height + the 1/2" spacer and I'm at + 2 1/4". Not sure how much the air cleaner adds in height compared to stock. It measures at 3 7/8". The whole set up just looks tall to me.

I had to use the spacer for the air cleaner wing nuts to clear the carb. They were resting on the float level lock screws and the air cleaner wouldn't seat without the spacer.
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Old December 14th, 2016, 03:47 PM
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I have a 67 400E , performer and a Dean Oliver Q-Jet in the 64 F-85 no clearance issues
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Old December 14th, 2016, 03:48 PM
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Using a drop base air cleaner bottom
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Old December 15th, 2016, 05:29 AM
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Well, if you put the engine in and have hood clearance issues you might have to change your air cleaner. I wouldn't let that stop you from going ahead with your plan though.
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Old December 20th, 2016, 06:53 PM
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The valve covers have that nice flat area that someday may be engraved. Until then I thought that a decal would look nice. I originally got a air cleaner decal for the "Rocket 455" but when I cut them to fit I wasn't happy. I took my ideas to a small sign shop and these are what he came up with. The actual decals won't have a background but the letters/numbers will be individual pieces. I kind of like the slanted Rocket with slanted numbers. Any opinions?
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Old December 21st, 2016, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rpinnt View Post
I kind of like the slanted Rocket with slanted numbers. Any opinions?
I think those are SWEET! Do it, do it now!
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Old December 21st, 2016, 05:41 AM
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Very cool project! I prefer the standard, non slanted letters and numbers!
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 11:42 AM
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The voting resulted in a tie between the slanted and upright and I can't make up my mind at this point. I had him make both sets for only $10 more than just one.
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Old December 23rd, 2016, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by rpinnt View Post
The voting resulted in a tie between the slanted and upright and I can't make up my mind at this point. I had him make both sets for only $10 more than just one.
That's the ticket. Once you have them in hand you can compare the decals before installing with the engine right there.
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Old January 4th, 2017, 11:57 PM
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I got both versions of the decals. After a lot of consternation, I went with the upright version. I must say it looks slick. Next step will be scuffing them up and putting a clear coat down.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 12:13 AM
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I've got the body braced and I'm waiting (impatiently) for the frame to get blasted. It just gathers more rust as it waits. He realizes that heís not getting paid (at least I hope he realizes it) so I canít complain too much about the lack of progress. I see that yet another project has leap frogged mine. But working on a Torino before the Olds? Thatís so not right.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 05:22 AM
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Those valve coves look cool!

Hopefully your frame gets blasted before too long.
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Old May 12th, 2017, 07:12 PM
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Progress!

I thought that with global warming it was supposed to get hotter. But it seems that hell has frozen over; Saturday my stuff got sandblasted after only 6 + months of waiting! Thursday morning I took the parts to the powder coater (5 miles from my dad's place.) They asked if I was in a hurry and I told them that I wasn't. 6 hours later they said the stuff was done! Of course I wasn't able to pick it up because of work but looking forward to Monday when I can bring it home and start putting things together instead of tearing apart.
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Old May 21st, 2017, 06:49 PM
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Frame's back

I got the frame home on Monday. I might be biased but it looks great. For the price of the powder coating I could not buy the paint let alone have someone spray it.
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Old May 21st, 2017, 06:50 PM
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I also sent along my modified core support: It is the correct 1964 with the lower radiator support from a 1965. Simple alteration will allow a 3" taller radiator.
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Old May 21st, 2017, 07:08 PM
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Putting stuff on

I couldn't wait to start putting things on. Ran into a few problems, some solved some not yet.


The lower control arms came with one of the arms having the bushings reversed. Quick phone call and they said that they would replace it or I could just press them out and swap them myself. Easy enough except when I let go of the handle for the press to catch the falling bushing, the handle decided to also come down and clocked me in the head. At least it didn't bleed and there was no one around to witness it.


Before powder coating I had preassembled the rear end and found that my welded on brake tabs interfered with the sway bar. The rear end had already been powder coated and I had to cut them off, move and re-weld. I had it sandblasted and re-powdered, this time in gloss black to match the frame. Now I have discovered that the moved tabs now interfere with one of the shocks. I ordered OPGI brackets that will move the bottom of the shocks inward 3" so we'll see. I don't think it will work and the brake tabs may have to come off. There will not be a 3rd powder coating on the rear end. Touch up paint will have to do.


The front is also being a pain. After assembling the front upper and lower control arms I went to install the shocks. They have an oversized body and won't fit through the hole in the lower control arm. Options are to disassemble and install spring with shock inside, modify the opening in the LCA, replace the LCA with a aftermarket piece or replace the shocks. Hoping for a low dollar fix so I'm leaning towards installing the shocks with the springs and hope I won't have to change them anytime soon.
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Old May 21st, 2017, 10:25 PM
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Nice job so far. I'm going to start on my 64 Cutlass Convert this week. I found a running complete 330 to put in it for now.
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Old June 1st, 2017, 04:09 PM
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More problems

I had ordered the shock relocation brackets & they showed up a week later (so much for paying more for faster shipping. Monday I went out to work on it (20 minute drive) and when I got there no brackets. Appears that I left them at home. I was curious so I had opened the box to take a look and apparently didn't replace the contents. Did have the empty box with a lot of packing paper though.


I had assembled the front end (again.) I decided to put the shock inside the spring during assembly and it worked out OK. My process for the front end was to use threaded rod through the shock mount to compress it enough to get the spindle on. So the shock just sat loose inside and then I had to thread it through the upper mount. Not too bad but good luck changing them.


Right now the adjustable upper control arms are resting on the frame. I'm hoping that once the engine, tranny and body are mounted that it settles. We'll see. Other option is to mount the ball joint to the bottom of the UCA instead of the top. That may give me a good 1/4" more plus I could shim it if needed. Don't want to take it apart right now.


I then put on my front brakes and wheels. I remember someone smarter than me telling me that I would have issues with the Rocket Racing wheels and the brakes (Wilwood C5) that I was going with. Turns out they were right. I had to get a wheel spacer to get the spokes off of the caliper. I wanted the smallest spacer that I could effectively use so I ordered a .090 and .197 hoping to use the thinner. No go on the thin one and the thicker one wasn't enough either. Right now I'm running both spacers and it is working. Not sure if this is the permanent fix but I'm not replacing the wheels or brakes.


I started to assemble the steering linkage. I had planned on rebuilding a Grand Cherokee steering box but after watching countless videos on it I started to doubt my ability. Then I found a rebuilt one on Rock Auto for $70. Should be here later today. Since I had already tore mine apart I couldn't use it as the starting point. So I just copied the lengths of the tie rods that I was replacing to get it close. Except it isn't close. On the drivers' side the inner and outer tie rods have bottomed out inside the tie rod sleeve and I still need about an 1" to attach it to the center link. I will wait for the steering gear to see if that solves it.


Today I tried the rear shock relocation brackets. Must only be for an original GM rear because I couldn't get them to work on my John's Industries 9". Luckily I had opened the sealed package to read the instructions and take the brackets out so now I'm not sure if I can return them. Won't hurt to ask.


So I cut off the brake tabs and mounted the shocks. Then I welded the new tabs on where they were not in the way. I'm not impressed by my welding but they will hold. A couple of coats of gloss paint and it doesn't look that bad.


My dad wants his shop back so it has to come out this weekend. Not sure if I'll bring it home and have it in the way here or put it into my shipping container storage there. I really need my own building.
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Old June 1st, 2017, 04:29 PM
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I did not alter my 64 core support. I bought 64-65 GTO aluminum radiator from Champion, little modification to the top plate, its a bolt in. Has the same dimensions as the 64 radiator.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 09:46 PM
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I just cut my 64's lower support and welded in some 2 inch plates I bent to look like the stock bracket. used a 65 3 core then. And a small strap to extend the grill support bracket to the now lowered rad support. Really wasn't hard. Dig 64 4 speeds. Just put a toro 425 in my 64 4 speed. I know, no toro manuals. Crank was drilled.
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Old July 30th, 2017, 03:00 PM
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Dad's Cutlass

To quote Don Henley "I got the call today, I didn't want to hear."


Actually it was Friday but I digress. The owner of my dad's cutlass called me and said that he was considering selling the car. I had tried to buy it a few years ago but he didn't want to sell it then. That started my own search for a 64 Cutlass. I found one and I have been slowly working on it.


You would think this was great news. But I have sunk so much (don't tell my wife) into my car that I don't know if it is financially feasible to buy another, even if it is my dad's.


The engine seized up last August so it has been sitting since. It is not the original 330 but a mid 70s 350. He said that he still has the original engine. I don't know why it was swapped out 20 years ago.


But looking it over there are some real plusses to getting the car:


The body is in pretty good condition. There is the normal rust above and behind the rear wheel well. Mine has one good side but the other side is pretty bad. My rear window frame is also rusted out on all sides including the roof. Dad's car is solid there. My hood was warped by an engine fire, dad's is straight and even has all of the hood letters intact.


I didn't want to pull up the carpet but the floors feel pretty good. the trunk floor and wheel wells are in much better condition. The interior is pretty good and the steering wheel isn't all cracked like other 53 year old steering wheels that I've seen. You can definitely smell mouse in the car but has been sitting on a farm for the last year. All of the exterior trim is there including the wheel well trim and rockers.


And it is a factory 4 speed.


Minuses? Money. I asked him what he wanted for it and he didn't have a number, "make me an offer." I hate that. To those of you who may eventually sell something - do your homework and know what you want for it and say so. If it's overpriced, fine we can both move on. If it's reasonable maybe we can work it out.


So I didn't make an offer. I'll think about it and ask him next week if he has a number. I don't want to price the car for him.
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Old August 27th, 2017, 11:50 AM
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Roller coaster emotions

I finally got the price for my dad's car. It was a lot more than I was hoping. I was sick to my stomach thinking about it but came to the realization that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. My daily driver will be paid off in September so it's basically another year or so of payments.


So I made him an offer on the car and he said that he would think about it for a couple of days. I hadn't heard anything for several days so I called and left a message. He sent a text saying he no longer wanted to sell it. I replied that I would pay full asking price and to reconsider but there has been no response.


If I was sick before this tops it. I don't know what else to do. I'm thinking of sending a letter telling him that I still want the car and will be willing to wait for him until he decides whether he will sell or keep it. I don't want to put any more resources into the body of my car knowing that the other car is still out there. I've got the money sealed in a package in my safe so I won't be tempted to spend it on other things. I might also tell him what I have planned for the car along with photos showing examples of what I have gotten done so far. I even found an old photo with my dad posing with his car when it was only a couple of months old (my new avatar.)


This sucks. In September I begin my 4 month rotation on nights for work and it's looking like I won't have anything to work on.


53 years later and he still dresses the same?
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Old September 17th, 2017, 01:31 AM
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It's Home!

The owner of my dad's car called again and was now ready to sell. Thursday I picked it up and brought it home. I am amazed at the condition of the car for being 53 years old and a daily driver in the rust belt for much its life.


I figured it was a once in a life time opportunity to buy it, and although I spent more that I wanted to, I have no buyers remorse. My wife however is less than thrilled at the smell that now permeates our garage. With the mouse smell, moth *****, and air cleaner it is quite the medley.
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Old September 17th, 2017, 08:56 AM
  #29  
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Congrats on getting your Dad's old car back! Not many people have this kind of opportunity!
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Old September 19th, 2017, 11:38 PM
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Original post

Originally Posted by rpinnt View Post
I measured from the top of the air cleaner to the flat base behind the water neck where the casting number is. It measures about 14Ē. I was wondering if those of you with hood clearance issues, and even those of you that donít but it's close, could measure what distance you have and how you remedied clearance issues.

Now that I have my own assembled car to measure it appears that the clearance issue is going to suck. I measured 11 5/8" and it looks like the air cleaner stud (which doesn't need to be that long) and the front of the air cleaner hits the hood when closed. That leaves me with a full 2" too much engine, air cleaner and spacer to squeeze in there.


Help!!?
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 11:54 PM
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I have gone back and forth on restoration or making it the way I want. Aside from the fact that my dad ordered the car himself and its condition there really isn't anything special about it. Factory 4 speed with bucket seats but no console, no AC or power steering or power brakes. It doesn't even have exterior mirrors.


So I have decided to make it my way. I have my boxed frame from my other project with discs, new suspension, power steering and posi 9" rear. I have my 461 built but it was set up for an auto trans. I was planning on having it broken in on the dyno at the machine shop anyway so I guess I will have the crank drilled for the manual trans. Sure wish I would have thought of that before the engine was assembled but the original plan was a th400 (also freshly rebuilt and now gathering dust.) My engine builder isn't keen on taking the crank out but I feel it is the best way. I'm sure he will charge accordingly (probably has a boat payment coming up anyway.)


My "new" frame doesn't have the brackets for the z-bar and I have Hooker headers that wouldn't allow it to fit. Option 1 is to go with ARH headers and the original linkage. Option 2 is a hydraulic clutch. I am leaning toward option 2 as it would be about 1/2 the cost of option 1.


There doesn't seem to be any way I can get my current air cleaner set up to clear the hood. I bit the bullet and ordered a different air cleaner that has a drop base. Of course I couldn't find an oval one with the drop base that I liked so I went with a round one. I'll toss some paint on it (after I check for clearance) and hopefully I'll like it.


Not sure if I will have the rust repaired before putting the body on the new frame or after. I had decided on a dark grey exterior color with black interior before I acquired my dad's car. Now I don't know. I think I want to keep the dark green interior (if I can find the correct bucket seat covers) but maybe go with a black carpet instead of the green.
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Old September 23rd, 2017, 08:15 AM
  #32  
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Reminds me of my project, love it.
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Old September 24th, 2017, 11:32 PM
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On my 64 Cutlass with a 455 Olds, Torker and Holley 800 you must remove the stud from the chrome molding in the center of hood as mine hit it. Yours may not you'll find out.
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Old October 13th, 2017, 12:05 AM
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Not much progress

I haven't got to do much on the car lately. I did get my new air cleaner and it should fit. The air cleaner top spins on until tight. I had gotten the stud the right length but was thinking with variations in air cleaners the fins might not always line up when the top lid was tight. So I ordered a nice billet air cleaner nut and drilled through the lid of the air cleaner. I think it will be much easier to keep the fins lined up this way. Now it is just waiting to be painted between the fins.

In a feeble attempt to appease the wife because of the smell in the garage I began to clean out the car. I didn't get far before giving up but I did notice that the shifter porch has been altered significantly for the Hurst Indy shifter that is in the car now. I recently acquired a 4 speed console that I am planning on using if I can figure out where to put the mounting brackets. The console won't work the altered porch and I'm not a fan of the Indy shifter look and want to replace it with one that looks more like the original.

I looked to the aftermarket for a replacement porch. OPGI has plastic ones for a 1968-72 that they say could be used on a 65-67 (not a 64?) but would have to be modified to be used. Ames Performance has steel ones for 64-67 GTOs. Parts Place shows a metal one for all of the 64-69s. Has anyone used any of these? Or would I be better off trying to locate an unmolested original porch?
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Old February 1st, 2018, 12:50 PM
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Little progress

My night rotation is over and have been working days for a full month. Haven't gotten much done on the car. I finally picked up the original 330 engine from the previous owner. It was missing the water plump, exhaust manifolds, and distributer. It did have a steel 330 flywheel with it but my dad said that he had put in an aluminum flywheel in when he owned it (for faster revs.)

I took out the blown up 350 and found parts of a broken rod and piston in the oil pan. The crank has a few nicks and a large gouge. The good news is that it had the 1964 water pump on it. I'm hoping that the exhaust manifolds and distributer are also original to the 330.

I hadn't got the car back into my garage after I removed the engine and it is still sitting on a trailer out in the elements at my dad's place. It was 23 degrees below zero on New Years day and of course there had to be a blizzard last week with 15" of snow. Need to clean out the garage and get it back home.

Today I took the 461 back to the machine shop to have the crank drilled for the pilot bushing for the 4 speed. I had considered removing the crank myself but figured I would be on the hook for any problems at start up whether it was related to anything I did or not. I guess it's only money.
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Old June 1st, 2018, 03:43 PM
  #36  
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Still waiting

The engine went back to the machine shop on February 1st. A couple of weeks ago I checked and found that they had drilled the crank for the pilot bearing. Instead of taking it back home I brought the parts that I had removed and reinstalled them there. It only took a little over an hour and now it is prepped for the engine break in on the dyno. I was told probably a week and it's been two with no word (I told him I wanted to be there for the actual dyno pull after break in.)

While waiting I reevaluated my air cleaner choice. I had started with an oval finned air cleaner that had been painted. Because of the needed spacer there was no way it would fit (still available for sale if anyone is interested.)

I then got a round finned air cleaner which fit and once painted would probably have looked fine.

With the original engine for the car I also got the original air cleaner with the air cleaner plates. I thought that the red was a good contrast. I got a repop air cleaner lid and matched the color. The original air cleaner plate is not perfect and seems to be glued down to the air cleaner. Apparently they don't reproduce the 1964 plate so I went with a 1965. Only difference on the 1965 plate seems to be the lack of the red stripe on the inside ring on the and the "Oldsmobile" is more of an arc than round.
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Old July 20th, 2018, 10:30 PM
  #37  
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4 speed conversion problems

I got the engine back from the machine shop after having the crank drilled for the pilot bearing and put on the dyno. I had decided to install the engine and deal with the disappointingly low dyno numbers later after I see how it feels to drive. Hopefully just a tuning/timing issue.
I had installed the headers before putting the engine onto the bare frame. The driverís side install is overly complicated by my choice to use a modified LS oil dipstick. The header had to be spun around before the dipstick would clear. No way to do it with the engine installed.
I had to remove the passenger side header and oil filter housing to get the engine installed onto the frame. For a while I wasnít sure I was going to get the header back on but it finally did go.
My frame had been boxed and set up for a TH400. As soon as I got the engine and tranny close I knew that there was no way the ďadjustableĒ crossmember would adjust enough to fit. The trans mounts have been welded to the frame and the frame powder coated. Options are to rig a mount where the trans meets, cut and move the brackets, or add new brackets. I made a quick call to Hellwig (makers of the Frame FX kit) and they are sending new brackets. I will add them to the existing brackets. For the ultimate adjustability I am thinking that I will cut the ďearsĒ off of the brackets where they would meet and have one long mount for extra adjustability.
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Old July 20th, 2018, 10:34 PM
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4 speed conversion problems, pt 2

I struggled for at least an hour to install the flywheel dust shield. I finally measured the 455 crank and found that there was no way the dust cover (original to the car w/ 330) was going to fit. I hit it with a hole saw and die grinder and it now clears. Of course it had been powder coated but I donít think it will be an issue.
I need to figure out how to prep the engine for winter storage. The dyno ran only water through the engine. I need to either completely drain the block or to somehow add antifreeze to it. I would have stored it in the garage at home but we bought our 16 year old a car (Olds Alero!) and Iím sure when winter rolls around he would rather have it inside.
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Old July 21st, 2018, 07:36 AM
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What brand of headers? On my F-85 build, the Hooker header install was tight but they fit. At the time ( body not on car yet) I dropped the motor down just touching the frame pads on the cross member, still on the hoist. Installed the headers and then tightened up everything. When you install your steering column you will very little room between one of the header tubes but it should clear. I think these early A-body's frame rails are about 1.5 inches narrower then 68 on up, causing some of these fitment issues. FYI-This week I put a DEI-010384 mini starter heat wrap type shield on. One of the header tubes almost touches the solenoid causing the heat soak, that fixed that issue. I will be anxious to see how your stock gas tank will fit with the boxed frame. I boxed my stock frame only to cut a bunch of my handy work back out in the rear. I could not get my gas tank back in. It has to be slightly angled up on one side then move it center in order to get it installed. This tank was a new repo from Canada could have been just a bit wider.Very nice work your catching up to me! It's blazing here in Dallas supposed to hit 112 today. This is my hobby, that said I'm not going out to the shop until it cools off!! Keep going....
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Old July 21st, 2018, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by therobski View Post
I will be anxious to see how your stock gas tank will fit with the boxed frame. I boxed my stock frame only to cut a bunch of my handy work back out in the rear. I could not get my gas tank back in. It has to be slightly angled up on one side then move it center in order to get it installed. This tank was a new repo from Canada could have been just a bit wider.
My gas tank is from Tanks Inc and is EFI ready. I've had it for a couple of years and have never opened the box. I think now might be a good time to open it up and take a look. The way things are going I might as well plan on more cutting on the frame to make it fit.
The headers are Hooker's, I remember a number stamped on the inside flange but not what it was. I think I can determine if they are Competition or Super Competition by measuring collector length.
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