Monthly Archives: September 2012

Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Roadblocks

The last sentence of my previous post proved to be a bit of a jinx – I thought all I had left to accomplish was installing the dipstick, reattaching the modulator line, and rig up the kickdown linkage.  With the to-do list dwindling, I figured it would be no sweat to have the car running this week.  Alas, much like the best laid plans, that didn’t happen due to a combination of bad luck and work I forgot to include in that to-do list.

I decided the car deserved an oil change, so that was accomplished easily enough.  The vacuum modulator line couldn’t be installed until the dipstick tube was in place, so I opened up the new tube I purchased many months ago and got to work.  I got everything lined up… and the tube end wouldn’t fit in the transmission!  After much swearing and attempts with both brute force and finesse, I determined that the tube was slightly oversized for the hole – apparently the Taiwan chrome was applied a bit too thick on this one.  I attempted (poorly) to grind it down to size and scuff it up with emery cloth and got basically nowhere.  After consulting with a machinist at work, we decided there was no fixing it and I was going to have to buy a new one.  This whole process, which should have taken about 15 minutes, had now taken up two days.

I got back under the car last night and had the second new dipstick installed in about – gasp! – 15 minutes.  With that finally out of the way, I reinstalled the modulator line, fixed a broken engine ground wire, and cobbled the exhaust back together with the help of a few adapters and a coat hanger (it’s going to be loud for now).  I finally ran out of steam at about 1:30AM, with the remaining tasks to simply lower the car from the jack stands, top off the oil, transmission fluid, and gas, and hook up the kickdown cable to the carburetor – which might take some field-expedient fabrication skills on my part.  I can see the finish line at this point, but I’m starting to think it might just be a mirage.


As Seen on Craiglist – 1968 Chevelle 300 Deluxe

This is almost too good to be true – at this price, it might be a scam.  But, as the seller mentions, this is the very definition of a clean slate.  A white, two-door post, bench seat, straight-6 car with steel wheels and dog dishes means you could go any way you wanted with it.  You could put a big block in it and make an SS 396 replica, or you could put a high-revving small block in it and spend a fortune in the Global West catalog and turn it into an autocross machine, or you could leave it as-is and keep it as a time capsule.  Personally, I’d go for a mix of the three, and leave it as-is cosmetically, put in a modern LS engine, throw some money at disc brakes and new springs all around, and make it a nice little sleeper that you could just as easily drive cross country.  Either way, it would be a whole lot of fun.

Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Late Nights and Near Disasters

After last week’s post, I was able to get a well-used but not rusty crossmember from a fellow old-Pontiac-0wning gentleman on Craigslist, and spent some time this week working on the car.  I got a new filter and gasket installed in the transmission, maneuvered the new-to-me crossmember into place, and got everything bolted down.  Before heading to bed, I decided to reinstall the driveshaft so I would quit running into it while scooting around under the car.  I lubricated the new seal in the tailshaft with some old transmission fluid that was pooled on the ground, lined up the splines on the output shaft, and slid the driveshaft yoke into the tranny.  I rolled myself to the rear of the car and lined up the u-joint with the pinion yoke and hand-tightened the nuts holding the shaft to the rearend.  I noticed that the driveshaft seemed a little high, so I rolled back to the transmission and saw that the driveshaft was rubbing on the floor of the car (I later determined this was the result of an odd and unnecessary adapter plate that was between the mount and the body of the replacement transmission).  Puzzled, I started spinning the driveshaft and wiggling it around, hoping it was somehow out of alignment with the tranny, when I heard a clunk come from behind me.  I looked back in horror as I saw the caps from the u-joint lying on the ground – I was in no mood to collect hundreds of tiny needle bearings from my cracked and filthy garage floor at nearly 2AM.

Luckily, the tiny rollers stayed put in the caps, so I quickly jammed a knee under the driveshaft while I pushed the caps back on, then finished tightening the retaining bolts all the way.  Disaster averted, I decided to call it a night.  Up next, dipsticks, modulators, and kickdown linkages.

Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Progress!

My God, has it really been four months since I posted anything about the Tempest?  Yikes.  Well, having finally purchased a new daily driver, sold the Caddy, and survived a newborn and my wife’s sister’s wedding, I made time to get back under the old car and get the transmission project restarted.  A little help from my father-in-law made me realize that, for whatever reason, the new transmission wasn’t going to clear the exhaust, even though it is dimensionally identical to the old one.  Apparently gravity was enough of an aid in getting the old one out, because the only way the new one was going to squeeze between the exhaust pipes was if I was somehow able to levitate it in place and turn it on a 45 degree angle.  I resigned myself to the fact that the exhaust was going to have to go.  I soaked the manifold bolts in penetrating oil for a few days before realizing they weren’t going to come out without a torch and more finesse than I was willing or able to apply.  So I bit the bullet and cut the pipes off with a cutoff wheel as far back as I could.  Once the tranny is installed, I’ll cobble the exhaust back together enough to make the car drivable and then get a new exhaust installed in the Spring.

Meanwhile, with the exhaust out of the way, I was easily able to get the tranny mated up with the engine all by myself.  I quickly hand-threaded the bellhousing bolts in enough to secure it and got the crossmember lined up at the back of the transmission.  Two problems immediately became apparent – one, the crossmember sits too far forward to allow me to remove the oil pan, so I’ll have to do that with the tranny supported by the jack, not too big of a deal.  Second, however, I discovered that my original crossmember had shrunk by about two inches when I removed it (in other words, the ends had rusted off), and I can’t stretch it to fit into the new rubber cushions and mounts that I bought way back in the winter.  So I’m off this evening to look at a used part that came off of somebody’s parts car, and hopefully that will get me back on track.

With that squared away, all I have left to do is replace the tranny filter and gasket, mount the new crossmember, fix a broken ground strap, bolt the flywheel to the torque converter, hook up the shift linkage and speedometer cable, reroute the vacuum line for the modulator valve, modify the throttle linkage for the kickdown cable, hook up the driveshaft and the exhaust, change the engine oil, and fill the transmission.  No sweat, right?  At this rate, I’ll have it together just in time for Thanksgiving.

As Seen on Craigslist – 1966 Chrysler 300

The later Chrysler 300s don’t have nearly the following of the 50’s ones, but that’s not to say they aren’t nice cars.  This metallic blue example is priced right for a big block, unrestored car, and would make a great Sunday cruiser.  These are the types of cars that people used to aspire to own – it was sort of the Lexus of its day – so it’s kind of neat to be able to buy one for less than the price of a well-used Camry today.  It’s not a convertible, or a Hemi, or a suicide-door Lincoln, or a fintail Mercedes, or any number of other collectible old luxury cars, but it’s still cool in my book.