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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
1965 El Camino -
BBC - Stroked 454
Turbo400 (looking for and my go 4L60E)
Ladder Bar Suspension (Auto Weld Pro Street set up)

I have owned this car since 1985, my Uncle Don who bought this brand new in 65' gave it to me when he moved to WA. It was a cool high school cruiser, at the time it had a 400 Pontiac out of a 69 GTO (Salvage yards were awesome back in the day) and was obnoxiously loud.

I started to restore this in 88 while going to school so money was hard to come by as well as time, I ended up having to move it North to my folks place in 93'. The car was 95%+ done, Pontiac and Trans were rebuilt and in the car, body work was done (had a BIL with a body shop) and I blocked my ass off on this thing, had my IROC 16" wheels and Goodyear Gator Backs all polished and ready to go, every piece of stainless trim was polished or new, all the chrome was done. I was at my Dad's place and he was helping me put a new gas tank in and I say "I would like to put a little wider tire under the back of this thing" he smiles at me and the next this you know the body is coming off the frame...

Well after that happened I got married, my job started pulling a ton of hours, I bought my first Sanger Flat Bottom and got a taste of Big Block Chevy power. Next thing I know I have 3 kids, I am tearing down my house, I traded my Brother the Pontiac and trans for Back Ho work on the house (that Pontiac is still alive in his 70 GMC Suburban) now I am on my Second Sanger, then a full restoration of a Spectra Day Cruiser and its almost 2021!

Finally my little 65' is getting some love... I spent time between Christmas and New Years with my oldest Son and my 86 year or Dad getting her dug out and on the way to restoration. The body has been in his shop under a mezzanine all tucked away and the frame was covered up outside. My Dad has racks or steel from all of his years of fabrication building trailers in SoCal as well as being a farmer in Visalia. We get the frame all power washed and in the shop and he says "I have the 6x6 steel rack (think a huge H made out of square tubing) over here and there should be some big casters over here, I think we can build a rolling jig for the frame.

True to fashion everything is exactly where he says it's supposed to be, the H frame has some 2" x 4" long round tube welded to the corners, I find some 10' lengths of pipe in his bone yard that work perfect to sleeve the existing pipe and then slide over the caster that have 18" long adjustable legs on them. A little welding and we have a rolling table that fits the frame almost perfectly. Was fun working with my Son as he has started doing quite a bit of welding at home, he did a great job getting the table squared up.

We hoist the frame up, sit it down and get it welded to the jig and then start getting it stripped. We had the old 12 bolt complete with suspension on a dolly, I had my Son throw it up on Offer UP and 12 hours later we trade a guy out of Hanford a 90 degree Rodack 3/8 impact for this rear end... awesome!! I gave the tool to my Son (Riley) to add to his tool box and I am free form having to move that thing around and we made a new friend.

Once we had the frame stripped we pulled the body out as I wasn't completely comfortable with my measurements and I wanted to roll the new rear end and wheels under it to see exactly where I need everything to end up. Width is spot on, I am going to need to take the wheel tubs almost all the way to the top of the bed and move the axel back a couple inches from stock wheel base. I want this little car low, pics are just below where I think I think it will end up... now just have to figure out how to change a rear tire once its all together...Probably set up a system with an off road style bumper jack to get the thing high enough and let the rear suspension hang low enough to pull a tire off and on.

I have a rear suspension kit coming with ladder bars and coil overs, we have gone back and forth on what type of suspension to run and I went this route based on a friends Chevelle and he has excellent drivability, I highly doubt this car will ever see a race track, this is just a cruiser...

Plan is to get the frame built and the body set back on then bring it home so my boys and I can work on it, its hard for everyone to align with time to make a trip to Grandpa's... but if its in my garage we can spend some good hours together out there.

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I took advantage of presidents day and headed to my Dad's. The rear of this frame is tweaked a bit, no collision issues probably to factory standards but what the heck lets make it all good. I was able to position the frame so everything was level (1/4 to 5/16 twist on the rear corner) and boxed the back sections of the frame where the gas tank used to bolt to the rails. Once it was all welded it sure stiffened that up, almost spot on. I was really blown away at how clean this frame is, it's been outside since 95', it was covered well but still I was nervous...all I used was a wire wheel on a 4.5" grinder to clean it up, the first picture is after just a minute or so of hitting it with the wire wheel.
I was hoping to retain the stock bed floor in this thing even use the original wheel tubs but sectioned out, unfortunately with as low as I want this to sit and using a 30.5" tall tire, I will be cutting the floor out to clear the center section and the sectioning up to the cab for the Ladder Bars. Next trip I will be making a new frame section to go up and over the rear end, I have some 4x2 10 gauge steel that we will be using, I picked up a bunch of foam poster board and ran them thru the table saw to make templates with, the stuff works great and hold a good shape. I am wanting to build this new frame section and box everything in before I cut the old rails out, helping me stay square and level
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The 12 inch is gone. Which rear end and axles did you use for the narrowed rear end?
I learned after I traded that 12 bolt that it was a fairly sought after unit... ill call it Karma as the young guy who grabbed it had a pretty rough year so what the heck. I have a ford 9" housing, right now I just have the cut down stock axels in the housing for mock up, I will be working with a friend who builds this stuff to decide on the axels and third member.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I got the ladder brackets welded on the rear end and cross member welded in with brackets burned in as well. The benefit of this being an El Camino frame is the reinforced frame thru the middle of the car, allowed me to cut pockets and drop the cross member in with a lot of metal to weld to. Next trip ill hang the frame on its side and weld up the bottom of the brackets on the cross member and gusset them up nice a solid. I am a **** welder at best and working upside down or under the weld is a no go for me. once We have the car home ill take the rear end to a friend of mine and he will jig it up and finish all the welds on it to make sure we keep it straight. Hoping to start on the frame rails as well next trip and then cut the old ones out. Originally I had planned on using the stock frame rails and just moving them in 8" but I need to raise them 4" as well so might as well just make some new ones. My plan is to get the rails built and in while leaving the old ones in tact. Once we get everything solid we can cut the old stuff off and assure that the frame doesn't shift at all. I am planning to have the body back on this thing by May so a couple more trips to the farm. I also got to be a cowboy Saturday night as a couple of steer got out of the pasture and we had to wrangle them out of the orange grove and Amond orchards.... ya not a life for me those dam things are sketchy....
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Had some fun and made some progress this weekend on the 65'. I used some foam poster board and ripped off strips on the table saw then mocked up some 2x3 tubing. The stuff worked great and we were able to get both frame rails in and best of all cut the old ones out. I wanted to make the frame rails out of one solid piece, notch and bend as needed. I don't possess the metal skills to do that, the first upright has a little compound angle and I just gave up and made these out of two pieces. Next trip I start reinforcing everything, plates and straps are on the menu, once I get the top wrapped up we will roll this thing over and go at the bottom side. A little more intrusive than I wanted I am going to have to raise the bed floor for sure but I really want this low so that is what we will do, more than likely getting into the trans tunnel as well.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I had work up in the Central Valley of CA this past week, was able to hub out of my Folks place and get some time with the the 65'. My box of parts form Auto Weld is now empty! I still need to build a few braces and then finish weld and strap some things down but a couple more days and we put this thing on the ground and try to figure out how to set the body over this, I think it will be as easy as putting on wet jeans.
  • Connected the original frame to the new rails, stiffened the thing up nice and should be pretty stout. 3/16 plate with a bend in it and its burned in nice to the original frame.
  • Built the pan hard - track locater set up, works smooth as the suspension moves up and down with the hoist.
  • Welded the coil over brackets to the housing, should say tacked them in as everything on the housing will be fully welded up on a bench with the rear end in a jig and clamped down. Realized that the shocks we longer than I had anticipated, did not want to hassle with returning them also I will tow my flat bottom and i needed some spring rate back there. I had to build a perch for the cross bar, I am raising the floor anyway so what the hell keep stacking it up.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well the old Girl got sidelined again... We helped moved my Daughter and her Husband move to Montana in early May, started traveling again for work pretty heavy, did an engine swap in a friends flat bottom, Played a little with our boats bit over summer and I work in the candy industry so this is our Super Bowl right now!. I am thinking it wont be until December that I can get back up north... I am chomping at the bit the get the body set down on the frame and transport her back to Long Beach to finish up. I sound like a little girl complaining, it hasn't been too bad a we had a fun Summer :)

When I did the engine swap for my friend in her boat we ended up using the engine I had ear marked for the El Camino, real basic BBC, all torque not a high horse power motor, I am not a racer but I like to look fast and just cruise around. I was building a pretty stout 496 for her but I couldn't get parts, so the 496 will now go into the 65'. What kind of transmissions are you guys running, I would like to stay old school and away from electronics, but I want the thing to live...Originally I ran a turbo 400 behind the Pontiac I had in this back in the day, was thinking of going that route again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The most ignored project ever got some attention, hopefully it wont be another 9 months before we work on her again! Flipped the frame on its side and upside down to finish welding everything up, good thing too as we flipped this over I saw all the bugger welds I did trying to weld upside down, Thank the lord for grinders! I boxed the front mounting points for the ladder bars, these should be pretty solid now. I typically make any bends in a hydraulic press, it works well if you have a couple brackets that are the same because you can set them together and mirror them pretty goo. I was really tired last night and I just used some good old heat for a final bend, I love moving metal like that, very satisfying. Trying to head back up the End of February and we will fit the Body! Very excited its been a while since those two were together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
As I get ready to put the body back on the frame I was trying to remember what year I actually separated this combo to start with. My beautiful wife is also a master of photo files, after a about 10 minutes of looking here you go... holy smokes Jan of 1996 this came apart, February of 96 the bed was cut for the tires and that is where it stopped until last year. Wow, I am lucky my Dad didn't toss this thing out. He was just finishing his shop at the time, a couple pics you can see there is no concrete yet. The ElCamino still had the GTO and turbo 400 in her as well. Good times pouring all that mud in that shop....
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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Body is back on the frame, went down fairly easy, ended up cutting out more bed than had anticipated and had to cut into the back of the floor pans to get the new cross member to suck up. Sat down nice, I had only modified the two rear mounting locations and we hit them spot on, I was breathing a little better after all the bushing bolts snugged up.

She looked pretty funny at first as I had the shocks in the lowest position, a little too low, I still have 3 to 4 inches of settings back there but we just put her right on the center to see where we are at. The Front end was sitting so high it looked like a gasser, I had a 396 on a stand up there that needed to come down for a rebuild, I had new frame mounts and engine mounts so why not, i dropped the engine in this morning and she leveled out, I think once all the sheet metal is on we will be good with just a slight rake.

By the end of Feb I am hoping to have her home so its easier to work on, my buddy has a huge enclosed trailer, he letting me take that up for an easy transport home. We will separate the body again, finish up all the mechanicals on the frame and keep on plugging away at her.
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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Well she is home, now I have no excuses... My buddy let me borrow his big Hallmark trailer and his F350, I have a need for diesel now, could have been a very expensive trip for me... brought back a 351 Clevland that had been sitting for a while, going in a friends 69 Mustang.

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
When I rolled the 65' on the lift I realized that this stupid idea of a pro street that git into my head as a teen ager bit me in the butt again. The tires are too wide for the ramps, these things run pretty low air pressure and the inside of the tire was sagging pretty good. not sure if it would goof up the tires so I built a pad so the tires have full support. I am thinking of building another one to slide up and down the can to put a bottle jack or something on to lift the car if needed when on the lift.
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Stopped being lazy and was working near the house this week.

Got the body back off the frame so we can fire this project up again. My old lift worked perfect to strap the body to the ramps and lift her up. With both ramps on I could not get the lift all the way down as its to narrow to straddle the car, ran out of space at about 1/4 down on the doors , the result is I had to pull the tires off to roll the frame out as i couldnt get the height I needed.

Then I set her down on the old trusty dolly, this thing has made the rounds with my family for probably 50 years, start to roll her out and oh no, too tall, roof won't clear the cross bars... missed by 1.5"... OK, modify the dolly and some block and we are out!

Rear end goes to a friend on Saturday to finish welding, he has a jig that he locks everything down with and finishes it off, I also decided to shorten it a bit more. Its funny as I have read a lot of posts with folks stating that the left side of the car is 1/2 tighter, I really didn't give a lot of thought to it as we built everything new and its pretty spot on. Well guess what, the frames are not what was off but the body is off, my left side is a half inch tighter than my right... Hummm:oops: We we can fix that.
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