El Camino Central Forum banner

1 - 20 of 36 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Well, finally have a vehicle to build up. I've been working on a 1974 Honda CB550 cafe racer project for almost a year and a half (click for link). That's eaten up tons of money and time. I estimate only about 3 more months and I'll be done.

I've been looking for a vehicle to work on for some time, but really only had the extra funds for it recently. At first I was looking at Corvettes. Had a couple leads, but they wanted too much money for how much work needed to be done. I was close to purchasing a completely original 1981 with a manual transmission (exceedingly rare here on the islands, to find for sale at least). It was a sealed bid from an estate sale. The guy was only expecting maybe $3-4000 for it. I put in a bid of $2500. I was the second highest bidder, the winning bid being $3000. The guy really wanted it though, and we could all tell.

Then I had the great idea of getting something I could haul my bike around if needed. At first I didn't even think about a ute. I wanted something like small Datsun truck or an older F-100. The former is too rare, and the latter is too expensive. I asked an automotive group I'm a part of of what I should be looking at. Someone suggested a small Japanese truck, like a Hilux or hardbody. Those are extremely expensive here because they're so popular. Finally someone said "Why not an El Camino or Ranchero?"

I've always loved G-bodies, so that's what I was looking for at first. The only ones for sale were $8000+. I started looking at other years. One that especially caught my eye was a '68 A-body. I spoke with the guy, asked him a few questions. It didn't have AC, but everything inside worked, including the radio (!), had a brand new factory (butternut yellow) paint job, and was rust-free. I said I'd call him back in a bit, and I did. 15 minutes later to be exact. He didn't answer, so I left a message. I spoke clearly, gave him my name and number, so I know that wasn't an issue. The next day I called him, no answer, another message. That went on for about a week. I didn't give up, but I started looking for others. Sadly there were none. While googling around, I found that Caballeros existed. I search craigslist, and there was one for sale, and looked to be in decent condition. The guy seemed very eager to sell and happy that he had someone calling him. I scheduled a meeting for the next day, test drove it, checked everything out, and liked it. It wasn't worth what he was asking for it though ($5000), so I told him I'm gonna check out '68, then give him a call with my decision.

I finally got a hold of the guy. Well, I should say my mom did. I guess the fact it wasn't my number is what it was. She scheduled a meeting for the next day. Next day came, got some excuse about why he couldn't meet, and same thing the next day. Sunday night came around, and we left him a message about if he wants to sell the damn thing, he needs to return the call, and if we don't hear from him by the next day, I'm going to offer on the Cabby. Monday afternoon rolled around, and of course I didn't hear from him. I called the guy with the Cabby, and he said he sold it, thinking I wasn't interested anymore. That's when I left the '68 a message that I'd rather not repeat in good company.

Well, all my options were exhausted on the island, so I started looking at the outer islands. At first I was reluctant, because I'd have to spend about $200 round trip just to see one, and if it wasn't worth it, it would've been for nothing. Finally decided to go see one. The ad stated it needed some body work, but you couldn't really tell from the pictures. I had the guy send me some pictures, there was one big rust hole in the fender. Easy enough for me I thought, either use a patch panel or a full fender. When I got there, the entire body had rust spots under the paint. Every. Single. Panel. NOPE I said. The frame was rust free though. The guy wanted $2500 for it. No way I was paying that much, especially since it'd be about $400 to ship over. It wasn't that it was too much work, it's that it was grossly misrepresented, and too much work for the amount of money he was asking. About 15 minutes in, he said $1500 out of the blue. That was tempting, but still, I was wary of the amount of rust. I checked out all the other stuff. 5 minutes later, he had $1000 of my dollars and I was driving out of there. As long as it ran, I wasn't going to make a fuss about how it felt.

The engine was rebuilt at some point. The trans feels strong. The brakes are either shot, or are in serious need of a bleeding. The carb needs cleaning. It needs a good tune-up in general. I've never really worked on a car before besides basic maintenance, but I've completely disassembled my motorcycle.
__________________________________________________________________

I picked it up from the shippers today, and drove it home. Would only go up to about 40 before it started bogging down. Anything over 45 it would start misfiring. Not fun, especially since when it happened I was on a hilly two-lane pass with no shoulder to speak of.

I'll try to use this thread to ask general questions, but I may venture into the area-specific forums often.

I'll be uploading pictures soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
In another thread, I had a question about wheel sizes, and how big I could go. Searching didn't provide a definitive answer, but someone had answered on my thread what he had done.

I figured I'd just wait til the Elky got here and do some measuring. I knew the fenders had been flared by the PO, and the wheels were in too far and look awkward.

Well, I got into my driveway, and to my surprise, they were 255s!

Even with that wide of a tire, I still had 3" of clearance :yell:



The fenders are flared out way more than I initially thought. A whopping 3"!

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I'm still not sure ultimately what direction I want this build to go in. Since we don't have a track here (at least for another few years), I'll just be making it into a comfortable cruiser that I can take when my bike is down or it's raining, or I just want to have a night out with the girlfriend. Bench seat and column shifter make that work out just fine :nana2:
_________________________________________________________________

Stuff I plan to do immediately:

Wheels on the back and tires all around - The rear fenders have been flared to 3" out. What's on there now on all four corners are 255s on 15x8s. In the rear with the flared fenders, there's still 3" of clearance to the fender. I plan on getting a set of 15x10s with either 275 or 295s. The wheels will be Corvette Rallye wheels, btw.

Suspension rebuild - The suspension is absolutely shot. I can grab ahold of the bed and shake it side to side with about 2-3" of movement, I can bottom out the front suspension just by pushing down on the fender, and it just generally feels scary in corners. Getting a full front rebuild kit, graphite impregnated polyurethane something or other. Gonna use Bilstein B6 HD or KYB Gas-A-Just shocks all around with Moog springs, variable rate in the rear. Also replacing all the bushings in the rear to prevent any side-to-side movement to avoid any unwanted body/frame/suspension-to-tire contact. I'll only have about 1" of clearance to the frame/suspension with the wider wheels in the back.

Fix the damn radio! - I hate hate hate driving without music. I'm hoping to get the stock radio working again, and just put a basic name-brand amp/speakers in there.

Door hinge repair kit and driver side window motor - Both doors sag and make it so the window doesn't seal to the weatherstripping. The driver side window motor doesn't work, so I have to do the window by hand. That also means the window doesn't stay all the way up, compounding the weatherstripping issue. Dat rain and slightly musty interior. Also the door panel is off so it's ugly.

Full interior - What's in there now is some ugly 70s big pimpin plush interior... but it looks like whoever did it didn't have enough money to spend on a nice one, so it's kinda eh. It's just generally old and tired, and needs replaced. The dash only has one crack and is fixable. I'll probably be going with a high-quality DIY kit in tan, and have my interior buddy (has the same bike as me and I'm helping him tune it) do the rest, something classy but simple looking. The seat belts will also be replaced, because they're worn out, don't retract, and the passenger side doesn't want to come out.

Bodywork !!! - There's lots of small (1-3" diameter) rust spots under the paint everywhere, so it's going to help me learn some body skills. I'm not in a hurry to paint it, so it'll likely be half worn out black and half primer until I'm done with everything and satisfied with it.

General maintenance and tune-up - I've been working on this the last few days. Today I'll be rebuilding the carb and hoping it's tuned right when I put it back on. If I have enough time, I'll swap out the brake fluid, coolant, and do an oil change. I have to do a compression test first though, because I don't feel like taking the new spark plugs back out after they're in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
I am not sure but that "Plush" interior you mention is also in my 77. I think they may have come from factory like that. The PO had changed my engine and tranny out from a 305 w/powerglide to a 350/TH350.

The misfiring you mentioned at 45 MPH and above may be as simple as your carb needing adjustment of air and gas mixture, or just a bad carb.

Does your 77 still have the 305 in it?

PFlo/Paul:beer:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Hm really? PO said his son or the guy he got it from had that interior done up. I guess it made sense in the 70s to use that interior :p Even more of a reason to replace it.

I have a feeling that the misfiring is indeed a carb issue, but I'm doing a complete tune-up anyway. Have the carbs torn down and thoroughly cleaned, but the kit I got from the parts store turned out to be for a 4MC, and my carb is an M4MC. Have to wait til tomorrow for it to arrive from a different store. That's kinda setting me back, but at least I can replace the coolant and brake fluid. The coolant is low and brown, and the brake fluid is dark as night. After I get everything back together, I'll be firing her up to check timing, then an oil change. That should wrap up the basic maintenance. Over the next few months I'll be doing the stuff I listed in that list.

According to the VIN, it has a 350/TH350. I don't have any experience with SBCs (or any car engine for that matter, I started off as a motorcycle guy), but it looked kinda small. I tried checking the numbers on the rear of the block, but I'm either not looking in the right place, or the distributor is in the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
929 Posts
Just when you flush the coolant, install a new thermostat and radiator cap, along with a thermostat housing gasket, all of that is very cheap insurance and I do it whenever I do a coolant flush, although I usually get cars when they're overheating :dontknow:. Welcome, and we like pics :beer:
 

·
Silver Contributor Participating Member
Joined
·
461 Posts
On my '73 454, the engine number is at the top of the extreme front of the block, I think around the waterpump someplace. And even the big block looks small to me under that hood!
Good luck with the car, 4th gens are great...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Euch, one step forward and two steps back...

Woke up this morning, had to wait for the distributor cap/rotor to come from another store, so I decided to mess with the brakes.

First I need to swap out the brake fluid.

Jack up the front end on jack stands, pull off both wheels, spray the bleeders with penetrating fluid, and set up my vacuum bleeder. First bleeder I do (driver side) has already been rounded off. Great. Spent about half and hour rounding it off even more. Sprayed the banjo bolt with penetrating fluid and moved on to the next side. Next bleeder came out after about 15 minutes of cursing. I suck out enough to drain the master cylinder mostly of fluid, and realize there's a TON of sediment at the bottom and the master cylinder is leaking. I checked online to see what's in stock at the local parts store. A rebuild kit is just as much as a new cast iron master cylinder. Guess which one I picked. I spray the hard lines where they meet the master cylinder, then go to pick up the master cylinder and distributor parts.

Get back, undo the first line, and I realize something's odd. I'm turning the nut and the line is spinning with it. It rusted and broke off from being disturbed. I follow the line to see where it connects, and have to get underneath to see where it ends. When I get under there, I realize the floor pan looks funny. Yep, that rusted through too. On my way out from under there, I see the bottom of the door (on the inside) completely rusted out.

So now I'm inside and all cleaned up with a broken brake line, lines full of air, a partly disassembled distributor, and I don't even know if I rebuilt the carb properly.

Why can't people take care of their stuff?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Am I able to edit the title of my thread? I already searched and found that editing isn't possible after the first hour of posting, but hopefully the title is different?

Anyway, been having lots of headaches with this thing. Literally every time I fix or work on something, something else becomes an issue.

I rebuilt the carbs, and I'm not sure if I did it right because it's not running right still. While I did that, I decided it'd be a good idea to change the spark plug wires since I'm changing the plugs anyway. While doing that, one of the connectors on the distributor cap broke, so I had to replace the distributor cap. Since it's a wear item anyway, I went for the distributor rotor as well.

Well, I finally got all that stuff together, and tried starting it. It wouldn't. It would backfire through the carb (even caught fire), and did a typical gunshot backfire from the exhaust. Obviously the timing was off. Checked the rotor at TDC#1, it was 90° advanced. Not sure how or why, but it was. After about 4 hours and 3 brains, we finally got it to fire up. Took a bunch of rearranging plug wires, trying to reposition the distributor (which only seems to go two ways, and they're 180° off each other). That's when I found it doesn't run right still. It idles a bit rough, and doesn't want to rev. I'm STILL waiting for my manual so I can go through the carb again, but this time with instructions.

On to the brakes. Day one, I try to undo the bleeder screws. One comes out with about 10 minutes of effort, and the other doesn't come out at all. I was just about to give up, but my dad stepped in. It took hammering on 3 progressively smaller sockets to get it out. The bleeder screw doesn't even look like one anymore. So finally after getting that out, I discover that the brake pedal will go all the way to the floor, and takes an eternity to return, and trying to return it with my foot was met with a lot of resistance. I figured it was just a bleeder issue. Day two, I finally try to bleed the brakes. Actually, I was trying to swap out the brake fluid because it was dark brown. I got all the stuff out of the reservoir, and realize that there's a TON of sediment and gunk in the reservoir, and the MC was actually leaking. I checked the local parts store, and the rebuild kit is as much as a new MC. While replacing the MC, one of the brake lines was so rusty that it just broke right off at the fitting. Day three, my dad and I spend about two hours cutting, bending, compression fittinging, and wrestling a new line in. Day four, I can FINALLY bleed the brakes. That's a big NOPE on that one. The replacement bleeder screws I got don't seat properly and let fluid out when completely tightened down. I got ANOTHER set of replacement bleeders, this time the catalog said they're the correct ones. Well, they seal, but they need to be tightened down so much that it feels like I'm going to strip out the threads. Tomorrow will be day six, and I've decided since these calipers are probably all gunked up just like the master cylinder, I'll be replacing them, along with the rear wheel cylinders. For about $125 I'll have a completely rebuilt brake system, sans the 6 other brake lines and the booster. If that doesn't fix it, I'm going to flip (the vehicle upside down).

I still have to figure out my carb issue. Could be something as simple as vacuum leaks (some of the hoses are kinda old and none of them have clamps. Or it's more likely I improperly assembled it and the choke or something isn't dong what it's supposed to be.

If I can't figure it out, I'll come groveling here for some help, or worse yet, may have to take it a ... mechanic :cussing:

[Edit] I see that I already posted about this, but this is more detailed and in slightly better chronological order, even though both separate events overlap.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Awesome!

Sup brah,
Your Elky is looking good so far! I have my '74 and it looks pretty much like yours except the Flintstone holes in the floor pans (my next project). I have some 4th gen stuff (hood, inner fender well, camel hump heads, and some other stuff) should you need anything. I need to make room for my Camaro stuff LOL!
I'm in Wahiawa so hit me up if you need something!
Kden
Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,188 Posts
Good Luck keep working at it will get their
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
571 Posts
DIMITRI:
step back and take on one project at a time. Start with reading up on the firing order and how to achieve correct top dead center,( 1st cyl on drivers side) than check disrtibutor for proper orientation in block , rotor should be pointing toward left rear carb bolt, if not bring motor to top dead center, remove distributor and re-align rotor,may need a screwdriver to rotate oil pump shaft( in hole in block where dist. was at ).Go from there and install plug wires according to firing order 18436572 odd numbers on driver side even on passanger side than attempt to start,if it backfires it's still off a tooth or more. if it runs adjust timing with a light see manual for proper degrees.
Next on to carb, cheaper to get a rebuilt from a reputable scorce than attempting something your uncertain of.
But basically just do one project at a time until it's finished and all will work out.
just ask us we know !!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Bonos, between the three brains, we got it fired up and the timing dead on. As for the carb, I've been working on my motorcycle for over a year and I've done everything to it, it's completely torn down all the way and just waiting for some parts to return from the mainland. It makes me feel helpless not being able to work on my own stuff. I may just bite the bullet though and get a Mountain Man qjet, and take the core return time to figure out how to rebuild mine.

Attila, don't worry, I've got a Flinstone hole in my passenger floorboard, it's just covered up by the carpet. The passenger side is maybe big enough for Bam-Bam. I may be interested in that hood if it's a stock steel one with little to no rust. Got any pictures of what you have left over?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
280 Posts
ohhhhhh baby,
looks like you got your self a goodin!
My $.02
never be affraid of spending money on brake systems.. worth their weight in gold.
Mind you, i have no idea what your budget looks like, but if the underbody is as rusty as you are saying you might just want to look into getting a full brake line/fuel line set (alot better than fixing them as they fail, and alot less heart attacks).
inlinetube.com is a great company and has awesome products very good resorce for any stock/custom break line. Rubber brake lines, and caliper/wheel cylinder rebuild kits can be had for good prices at rockauto.com and if you take your calipers to a machine shop they can re-chamfer the bleeder seats. sounds to me like the last owner really reeefed on those bleeder screws and distorted the seats.

If your missfireing under heavy acceleration, id suspect plugs wires timing... but if your at a consistant speed and it missfires as you gradually start pulling higher RPM (highway speed) id suspect fuel delievery... if your carb rebuild dosent help check fuel filter/fuel line flush/ tank fulsh (might have a heck of alot of rust in the gas tank as well as under the car).

Take her as she comes, one day at a time bud, youll get there!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I bought pretty much everything to replace the current brake system, except the proportioning valve, lines, and booster.

I was misfiring under acceleration at higher RPMs. I tested it in 1st (auto) and it would want to cut out at higher rpm, not necessarily higher speed. What direction is the fuel filter supposed to go in? Like the little rubber check valve lookin thing. I'm pretty sure I got it in right, but I want to make sure. I ran some fuel system cleaner through the tank when I first picked it up, so hopefully it cleaned out the lines a bit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Got the timing dead on, 8 degrees BTDC. Not sure if it's at 600RPM though, I have to get my friend's strobe gun with a tach readout. I still suspect I have a carb issue. I'm waiting on my manual (it's been about two and a half weeks, I suspect it's on a boat coming here, rather than a plane), to see if I can't figure out how to properly rebuild the carb this time. If not, I'll just pony up the cash for a Mountain Man carb. Oh, and I still have to check for vacuum leaks.

Other than that, I had an issue with my brake pedal return EXTREMELY slowly, like 30 seconds +. At first I suspected it just needed bleeding. After the issues I described in my previous posts, I ended up replacing the rear cylinders, front calipers, master cylinder, and all the pads/shoes. That didn't fix it so I took a look at the power booster. Vacuum-wise, it checked out. Took it off, and sure enough, the rod was the culprit. Ordered a new one off Amazon because none of the parts stores stock them. Well, now I have an almost completely new brake system (just proportioning valve and 6 of the 7 lines are old), and I didn't spend TOO much.

I'm getting ever closer to taking her out on the road. I'm STILL hoping that a full tank of good gas will fix it, but I'm not holding my breath.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Hood

Yo D,
I'm going to pm you some pics of my extra hood. You planning on keeping te fiberglass one you have? I'd be interested if you are thinking of parting with it. :beer:
Aloha,
Ken
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
Top