Revision: One-Bravo (A.K.A. “We Don’t Sell Those Parts in These Parts”)

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Yes, you heard right… ANOTHER ENGINE REVISION! As it turns out, there are a lot more logistics to building a hot rod than just “Slap it together and let her rip!!”

As I mentioned last time, there is a shop in town that specialized in AMC, and that is true. But after doing more research, I found out that it was going to cost me anywhere from $3-10k to get where I wanted with the AMC 360. If you remember correctly, that brought me right back to the problem with the 4BT, I didn’t want to spend $3000 on an engine for this build. I have other builds in store for a 4BT, but this one was supposed to be more along the lines of a “budget build/rat rod”, and dropping $3 gees into a motor just does not make a lot of sense.

So, I will be going the way of General Motors. Yep, the tried and true Chevy 350 / TH400 is what will make my little rod go VROOM! I know, I did say I had an AMC 360 and I also have a TF727 (an AMC automatic transmission). The problem came when I went to the parts stores looking for… Parts. I could not find any off the shelf, anywhere! So I asked around to see what I could get delivered. An example follows:

[Me to the guy behind the parts counter at the auto parts store]: “Do you guys have a gasket rebuild kit for an AMC Torqueflite 727?”

[Parts guy taps away at his computer]: “… Nope. We can order one. It is $120.”

[Me]: “Man, $120! For $150, I can order a shift kit from Summit, and have a hop-up kit delivered to my house!”

[PG]: “Yeah, I know. We just don’t carry anything for that. I am sorry.”

[Me]: “No worries, I get it. What about parts for an AMC 360?”

[PG]: “Um… Spark plugs, wires, Oh! An alternator…”

[Me]: “Never mind, I get it. Thank you anyhow.”

——–

That was the beginning. In case you didn’t know, my TF727 came out of my 1984 Wagoneer. The same Jeep I got my AMC 360 from. That Jeep was 4WD, and I need a 2WD transmission, so I started looking for a 2WD Torqueflite. None were to be found, at least none under $300. Then I find one on the Craigslist: “TF727 – $150” and I go check it out.

Of course, the first thing I notice is that his is a Chrysler, and I need an AMC. The starters are opposite. But after some calling around (which we won’t even get into the incompetence I encountered with that call) we finally found out that yes, TF727 is TF727, whether it be a Chrysler or an AMC. All you have to do is switch out the shaft. Sounds easy enough!

IMAG0379 Same lengthIMAG0376 Same tail bolt patternIMAG0378[1] Same shaft

It was about the same time that I got as far as taking off the tailshaft housing on the 2WD Chrysler, when I found this on the interweb, from allpar.com:

parts_1[1]

Do you see all those little itty bitty parts and pieces? Now multiply it by two, and try to figure out which goes where! I am not saying that it is impossible, but… Why? And, Really??? Is it really worth it to go through all of this, just to make my transmission work? NOPE. Why not? Because after all the trouble I put into making this transmission work, I still need to order parts from a catalog, or get them second hand. Neither of which I want for a flogging machine.

“Well, you are still going to spend money on a Chevy 350!” You are right, but… I got a Chevy 350. For free!! Yep. That beautiful backwards luck of mine, hard at work again. And, I got a 2WD TH400 for $100. And, I sold my AMC 360 for enough to cover the cost of a transmission. AND, he didn’t even want the whole engine, so I ended up with more parts to sell in the end. Thanks Larry!

Since I have converted to a complete GM system (with the exception of my front end), I can go to the grocery store and buy parts for my engine and transmission. Okay, maybe not the grocery store, but those of you here in The States understand what I mean… For those of you abroad – GM, Holden, and Opel are basically the same company. I hope that helps you understand that a bit more. Parts are cheap and plentiful, but still quality. That is why I will be going with the Chevy 350/TH400 set up.

Now, my good friend, Nathan, brought up a good point: “A slap-stick auto, huh? Wouldn’t you rather have a 3 or 4-speed, with overdrive?” Well, Yeah! But, I have a right hand drive, and that makes manual transmission linkages difficult. Yes, I could get a hydraulic conversion kit, but there I am again, spending money where it need not be spent. I will, however, be hanging three pedals, and all of that will come at a later time. Right now I need to get back into the garage and start grinding!

You are probably wondering why I have yet to finish the grinding. Well, mid-frame, I got the idea to start working on the transmission. I stopped grinding and… Well, you got some of the story up there. I ended up with an open engine and three open transmissions. Not really a good place to be sending thousands of red hot little tiny pieces of metal. So that put me in pause mode, then there was the Mazda 6/Neon fiasco.

—— Explanation of Time Lost (a.k.a. The Great Stereo Debacle) ——

Tony is not allowed to drive his car any more. It (the car) is scary. It has 300+,xxx miles on it, the wheel fell off, and it makes too many moans and groans when moving. Basically, he needs the whole subframe of his Mazda 6 replaced. So, he is now driving the Neon, and since I have started work in the Canary Islands, it sits more than anything.

Anyhow, his Mazda 6 did come with a Bose stereo system. We thought it would be cool to have that in the Neon. “This shouldn’t be hard at all… a couple of speakers, some wire, a head unit, stock amplifier…

Uh, no. Not at all. After 20 hours of stripping out the two vehicles, the only thing we got accomplished was a good vacuuming of the Neon. Chris came over and asked what we were doing. We told him, and he laughed at us. Later on, he needed speaker wire, and I asked what gauge he needed. “I am wiring my sub” he said. I took him to the Mazda and showed him the speaker wire we retrieved from that system. He decided it would work and asked what the speakers laying on the floorboards were. “Those are the Bose speakers? Mind if I…” Have at it dude. We are literally going to throw them in the dumpster.

Very long story short(er), Chris ended up with a kick ass sound system in his K5. We learned that it worked for him, because he had an aftermarket amp and was powering the speakers with it, where we were trying to swap the whole system into a vehicle nearly ten years older and failed to realize the Mazda stereo was wired through the car’s computer.

Now, we could have powered the speakers with the aftermarket head unit, but that was not the only issue we ran into. His Bose speakers were too deep to fit into the front doors, and it kept the windows from rolling down. Until we converted it over to electric windows, we couldn’t make the rings come out enough to compensate for it, without hitting the window crank. Then, the rear speakers, for the Bose unit, are 5″x7″. (Actually, they are not. But they are close enough to stay out of an argument over semantics.) The rear speakers for the Neon are 6″x9″. And then we found out that you cannot run the subwoofer, unless you have the stock amp, which does not run without the stock head unit, which you cannot run without the Mazda 6 computer…

Between the Great Stereo Debacle and the Transmission Shaft Swap Calamity, I learned that if you are not going to swap same for same, and use the whole system… Well, stand by, because it will be a bumpy ride!

——

So, now that I have buttoned up all of the transmissions, and sold the engine, I can now continue on with my grinding. I have one more weekend before I go back to Spain. I will let you know how far I got, with pictures for proof, before I leave.

Until we meet again…

——

[Edit: I ended up having to pack up earlier than I thought. We did not get done with everything for the frame fabrication, but we did get a great start! I do have a few pictures of the boy doing what he likes to do best – GRINDING!!]

IMAG0354[1] IMAG0356[1] IMAG0355[1]

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