Posts Tagged ‘Flat Rod’

What have we done this time Mac?

Well, nothing was done directly to the little flat rod. As mentioned in the title, I did a lot of hunting and gathering. I also saw some family up in Washington State that I have not seen in awhile.

Great. But what new things have you got for US!

Technically, you are reading it. This is what you get, a story of what I did. Ta-dah!

Haha! Okay, on to some of my findings. As you may have noticed, FrankenJeep sort of has a pseudo military, very industrial vibe to the build and I have been feeding off of it quite a bit lately. While I was a work, I was given a menial and repetitive task that allowed me to think of what I was to do next with the little flat rod. Oh boy did I come up with ideas!

Now, in order to keep them from materializing in the real world before I get a chance to do them, I will only mention these ideas when I have the means to complete their fabrication. But, you will get a full inside scoop of all the projects before the rest of the world sees them, if you can just hang tight.


By the way, there is also a set of teasers on the FaceBox. Yep. I finally succumbed to the biddings of the devil and made a FaceBox page so I can get my twerking on!

Check it out at


Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. On behalf of myself and the crew, we’d like to welcome you to flight 5504, nonstop from Phoenix to Ft Lauderdale. Normally, I blackout at around 10,000 feet or so, but I will try not to let that happen…

Haha, I am joking. My captain never said that, but there is truth to the fact that I am currently on a flight to Florida so I may get more training to properly do my job. That has nothing to do with the little flat rod, but I figured while I have some time (3 hours and 40 minutes, to be exact), I thought I would give you an update on what we did yesterday (Sunday, 29May16).

It has been quite some time that I have been talking about bringing home this small block Chevy 400. Well, you should all be pleased to know that I finally did it. YAY! I called up Ziggy and asked would he mind if I came over to get my engine. He had no objections, so Tony and I made our way to get a heart for the little flat rod.

One might think that after all of the simple-gone-catastrophic projects we have taken on over the years, we would know this not to be a quick snatch and grab. Let us just say that is a hard lesson Tony and I have to learn every time we get together. Let me tell you what…

I will start off by setting the scene:

Ziggy lives on just over an acre and a quarter of land. The place has vastly cleaned up over time, but there is still plenty of other things going on around there. The Pirate Ship, some CUCVs here and there, a few military trailers scattered about, a couple of parts trucks… and two boats.

Now these are just bass fishing/water skiing style boats (I really don’t know. I could not tell you the difference; because where I come from, there are only two kinds of boats – submarines and targets), but the whole point is that one of these boats was being used as a storage facility for my engine.

When I say I had to get my Chevy 400 out of a boat, do not get excited and think that I am getting some wham-o-dyne engine. I simply mean that, quite literally, my engine was being stored inside of a boat (that might I add, had two other motors [not including the mounted one {making four motors, for those of you keeping count} for the boat] as well) and I had to get it out of there.

When you are two not so very big guys, a feat like pulling an engine out of a motor boat is actually quite daunting, especially when all you have is a couple of pickup trucks and a cherry picker. Tony and I hauled the cherry picker into the truck, backed the truck up to the boat, and found ourselves some plywood to put between the boat side and the motor.

We commenced a heaving, and hoeing. Readjust the picker. Raise the engine. Lower the engine. Move the chains on the engine. Heave. Hoe. Heave some more. We moved the wood. Moved the engine another two inches…

After two and a half hours in the hot Arizona sun, without food and/or water (remember, this was supposed to be a simple snatch and grab), we finally got the engine out of the boat and into the truck.

Nice one man! But that is not your truck… Yep, now we have to put this engine into my truck. At least that part was not as difficult.

We were able to back the trucks up, tailgate to tailgate; and seeing as mine folds down all the way, vertically, we could just drop the engine into my truck. Well, sort of. We ended up setting the engine down in the bed of the first truck and re-booming the picker. We had it on ¼ ton (all the way out) and we boomed it in to a one ton pick (all the way in). We moved the picker out toward the engine, which was sitting on the tailgate, and then boomed back out, to ¼ ton where we commenced a pickin’. We brought the engine high enough to clear the tire we were setting it on and then swung it over and laid it down onto its temporary final resting place.

For those of you that have never had to spend two and a half hours in the Arizona sun, during an early summer after noon, battling a hot long block Chevy out of a motor boat, trying to put it into one pickup so you could turn around and move it into another…

Wow, when I put it like that, THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY!!

No forklift. No A-frame. No crane. Just two guys, a cherry picker, some trucks and more determination than brains. That was us.

We finally got it. Nothing got damaged. No one got hurt. By the time all was said and done, both of us vowed to never do that again; and originally, we had plans to go back to the house, clean up ourselves and the garage, put the 400 onto the engine stand and start stripping it down for inspection and rebuild.

Haha! Not so fast. Even though there was nothing else to do with the engine (barring the above), and we ran into no further problems, we were so wiped out from the previous experience that we did not have it in us to do anything other than wash up, get ourselves each a super tall 32oz iced tea, head back to the house with some hoagies and… do absolutely nothing. We spent the first 30 minutes in silence, just recuperating, before we did anything more.

After we each had well over 50oz of iced tea (I made some Jasmine/green tea at the house) and ate our sandwiches, we chose to spend the rest of the day inside watching movies, in the dark and comfortable 77°F that was my house. We decided to get a few movies from the Redbox and wanted one of those to be Deadpool.

Remember that “no simple task, left uncomplicated” I often speak of? I promise; it is not me! That is just the way things often work (or more precisely don’t work) out for me.

Well, we went to the nearby grocery store to get the Redbox movies, and I figured we could get it there. Nope. Not on Redbox. Okay, I know the store sells it. Nada. They just sold out yesterday. Oh well, there is another store just up the street, they should have it. Try again guys!

We ended up driving the seven miles to Walmart, braving the twelve street lights and all of the Sunday drivers (remember, two guys with more determination than brains), just in order to spend $20.00 of our hard earned money on a piece of plastic that was to give us direct entertainment only two hours at a time.


You may have noticed there has been quite the gap in progress on the little Jeep affectionately known as “FrankenJeep”. I am hoping to soon remedy that as my truck mechanic moonlights as a metal fabricator.

Craig, at KNI Automotive, has agreed to check out my Dana 44 drop axle conversion project and see if it is something he is willing to tackle on the weekends. I will be dropping it off to him on Monday, so we will see what he thinks.

I did get the truck on the road, not without its little problems, but that can all be read on the J20 build site. This is also my alibi to where I was on at the time of questioning.

I know you are all wondering when I will get off my computer and into the garage to build this darn thing. Well, the answer is – I now have a truck, and a guy looking into building my front end. As soon as I get my truck back from him, I will be picking up the GM 400 and the 12 bolt rear end.

I have also decided to look for a Muncie transmission. If you know a guy, send him my way. If the Muncie thing does not pan out, I still have the TH400 automatic transmission ready for install.

I will let you know what happens with the front axle project as soon as I know. I will also update progress on the little Jeep and how it is doing as soon as we have some new developments.

Now that you have been caught up on the last few months, what are the plans for the little hot rod? Well honestly, everything hinges on… that is right, getting a truck! Yes, I realize I just told you I got one, but this one is not street legal, yet. That is something I have been working on for the past two weeks. Once I get the truck legal, I will be taking the drop Dana to a welder, and I will be getting my 12 bolt rear end home, then we can start fabbing up suspension.

Until then, hop on over and see what is going on with the J20 Build, I think you may be impressed with the progress that is going on over there.

Here I am, on my way to work, and it is just a few days after Christmas. I left home on the morning of the 26th. It is now the 28th, and I just left Dubai, I am currently in Mauritius, approximately 11,339 mi (18,249 km) away from my Jeep… but, I was able to get some new goodies for the build before I left. Check out some of this stuff!

IMAG0515[1]  IMAG0513_1[1]  IMAG0514[1]  IMAG0512[1]

(Thank you Rick! You have been a great asset to the build!) Rick stopped by and dropped off a truck load of stuff for me! This is just a select few of the things he had to give me, I apologize for the MTV photos … I did not make time to properly showcase any of this, as I never meant to even post these pictures, they were only taken so that I could show Nathan and Tony the cool new toys I got. There is something about that steering wheel, that I really like! I think that it is the fact that the leather is all worn and perfectly patinaed. That big ol’ radiator fits perfectly behind my grille, and we are going to make the Hurst shifter handle longer, so that it comes up higher. In case you are wondering, I got two of the side-by-side seats. I plan on covering them in a seabag green canvas, but I will probably pay someone to do that, as I do not have a proper sewing machine in order to get these done they way they should be. If you are wondering what “seabag green” looks like, just think of any United States military member in transit. Or, you can check out this stock photo of one.


What now? Since it is going to be some time before I get back to the garage, I will try and get my administrative duties taken care of while I am not so distracted with all of that garage business. Although, once I do get home, I may need to hold off on the Jeep build, as the Pirate Ship will be requiring my attention due to its restrictive timeline. I will be focusing time and energy to that, until I can put it to a proper stopping point. The Pirate Ship is due to set sail the first week of April, and that means I have a lot of welding to do there. It should not take me too long though, as my welding projects are short, in nature – I just need to weld up the wench’s deck and the poop deck (the aft seating). But all of that is for another blog, this one here is for the FrankenJeep build!

I have most of what I need to make the front drop axle. (Thank you Jerry!) He provided me with the cut up Dana 44 so that I did not need to go chopping up a perfectly good axle. He also hooked me up with the trailer drop axle. Now, I just need to get a hold of some 220V welding, and I can get to axle fabrication! I would show you some pictures here, but the problem is, I do not have it in a comprehensible state. What I mean is, even if I did have photos for you, they would make absolutely no sense, as I only have half a Dana 44 with outers (there is no center to it), and an eight foot trailer axle. I will ensure to get some build pictures for you though.

I do have a new idea, a more concise idea, on how to do the fuel tank/gauge system. I am still going to utilize the 30 lb gas gauge,IMAG0574_1[1] I have just refined its use. You see, I was trying to figure out how turn the flange 90°, so that the gauge faces outwards, towards the rear, instead of sideways. Instead of doing that, I will just mount it to the side of something back there, say… a Jerry can.

I will mount the fuel gauge to the Jerry can, like shown in the photo, and then hard mount the can to the bumper, so it is sturdy. Next, I will grommet the can through the tub of the Jeep, connecting it into the fuel cell. This does multiple things for me. Among them, it solves the fuel gauge dilemma. It gives me a fill point, in order to actually fill up the Jeep, without having an unsightly gas cap cover. It also provides me with a guaranteed five gallons of fuel, and that is good.

When I get home, I should be able to go and retrieve all of my tools. That is a very good thing! I am pretty stoked about that. I should have a fairly decent stock of tools that should get me started, at least I will be able to have most of the tools I need in order to make my jobs easier. I do not know if you are aware how difficult it is to even do maintenance on a vehicle, let alone build one, when you only have a 285 piece tool set (thank you Wes!) and an Estwing claw hammer. My brother hooked me up with a nice tool set a few years ago for Christmas. I have been using the crap out of it, and keeping it clean, ever since. The problem comes when I have more than one person working on the vehicle, and when I need two wrenches, or when I do anything electrical. So, I got a tool box and some tools coming to me, and they should be ready for pick up when I get back.

So, between the work on the Pirate Ship, and the (anticipated) short stay home, I fear that I will not make too much progress on the Jeep when I return, in February. I will ensure that I give you any updates on the projects that I do complete, and I hope to see you here again soon…

Much has gone on here since I last wrote. Actually, this is a milestone at Mad Mac’s! This is the first post I will have written with real followers (that is you!).

Every post prior to this, was written with the hopes that someone may stumble across my little (mis)adventures. But you here, have already done so. You have decided that my story is worthy enough to occasionally fill a slot in your inbox. I thank you for that.

If you are not yet a circus goer, but you like what you have seen here, look to the left and click the “Join the Circus” button. All you need to do is fill in your email, and vi-ola! you only get emails when a new story comes out. So, come on! Support the clowns, and join in on the debauchery!

If for some reason, this is your first time, and you have managed to land yourself here… Well, it is safe to say that you are no longer in Kansas anymore. So, hold tight onto your little dog, look to the upper left corner, click the “Start at the Beginning” button, and prepare to be launched forward, straight into the past! As the saying goes… “The best place to start, is at the beginning.”


As I was saying, much has gone on here since I last wrote. In fact, I have gotten one Dana 44 axle and my Dana 20 transfer case traded for a hopped up TH400 automatic transmission (thank you for the hook up, Rick!). I sold the AMC 20 rear end to a guy that was a day late to buy my NP208 transfer case (sorry Jerry, your buddy Tad got there a little bit before you did, but I do appreciate the hook up with that vacuum operated D44 and the trailer drop axle*).

I went through the garage, like a tornado, and cleaned up a lot of the clutter that was congesting my work area. IMAG0474

Those bins were empty when I started cleaning.

I have a few items left over from the Transmission Shaft Swap Calamity, which I am hoping to relieve myself of very soon, (mainly the two TF727 automatic transmissions). I still have various Jeep parts, and that damn Nissan motor, lying around. I do have some guys coming over to swap and trade with me, so that will also help open up the garage a bit.

Some things I had, I was not able to swap for anything worthwhile, except cash. But that worked out really well too, because I was able to get a jump on some of these killer Christmas deals and buy Mad Mac’s some tools!

Jaiden was telling us that he did not want anymore tools, when he got presents. When we went to Sears and walked into the tool department, that was remedied quickly… “Woah! Look at this tool box, Dad!” he said, grinning. “Ooh! Can I get these?!” he asked, excited. Since then, he has been dropping me subtle hints that he wants a tool box, “Are we going to Sears to get me a tool box?” he asks as soon as we are in the car. And I have to tell him, “No, Jaiden. We are just taking you to school. It is Monday. You have class today.” That kid is hil-arious!


Chris got me welding on the Pirate Ship… Oh, why the hell not! Here you go…

Some spy photos of the Patina Cantina:

IMAG0495 IMAG0493

If you remember correctly, I mentioned something about this in June, in the Getting Started post. If you do not remember, this was Christian’s idea. He had a 1969 Chevy 1 ton flatbed pickup truck laying around the yard, and started drinking. When a thought came to him… like lightning – “What if we drank on the bed of the truck? No… What if there was a bar on the bed of the truck? Yes!” And, we went to work, like little busy bees, or carpenter ants! As I was working there, doing whatever it was I needed to do, his wife Liz came about and exclaimed, “Oh, a pirate bar! Cool!” When asked why she thought “pirate”, she simply said, “Because you look like a pirate, Jon!” and there it was: the Buccaneer’s Bowtie was born.


Now, I have told this tale to many a man, and nary a one can wrap his brain around such a daunting feat. There are those that still wish to contribute. These Kings of their various lands give what they can, to support a just cause… Belligerence and pilfering? No, not that one! A kickass pirate ship bar! (Thank you for the pirate recruiter’s flag John!)

You see, Chris supplies the truck and the rum, he also does all of the wiring and specialized engine work (but that is secondary in importance to rum). Sean works the carpentry, and spacial engineering (spAcial, not special). I am there to provide positive pirate imagery, I also do some welding and metal work. We even got Nathan in on the pirating! He got to weld some seat brackets in the aft end (we are on a pirate ship you know, there is no back end), Nathan even came up with some new ideas for the Wench’s Deck, up forward. Hopefully, he will be around when we christen it for its maiden voyage. I think that will be the perfect time to break out my stash of 30 year old Captain Kidd rum that I got in Gran Canaria.


I got a proper (i.e. running) 350 motor, from a 1984 GMC truck (that other one was in pieces, plus it had an electric fuel pump), and I still have that 12 bolt rear end. Now, I still have yet to put them in the garage, but that is actively in the works, and I am hoping to have them in my possession before I leave for my next hitch.

Let us see what materials we have: Motor? GM 350. Check! Transmission? TH400, with a street/strip shift kit and a kick down. Check! Axles? 12 bolt rear / Homebuilt trailer drop/Dana 44 hybrid. Check! and Whoa, not quite! Frame notched? 18 inches. Check! Air bags? Got ’em! Suspension? Same as the ‘bags – got it! Steering? Nope! Tub/body? It’s thereWiring and electronics? Not even a thought yet! 

Yeah, I think I have everything under control!

*I am sure you were curious about the little asterisk after the shout out about the axles. No? Surely you noticed it! Well I shall explain it anyhow… because I am dying to tell you!

You see, hot rod guys like to use a front axle that drops the suspension, keeping the front end low – a drop axle.

It looks something like this: yhst-92388287498660_2253_13408816_1

When it is placed on the car, it looks something like this:Screenshot_2014-12-10-20-39-00_1

My goal is to use a drop axle from a trailer, splice it and weld the spindles on from a Dana 44. That should make a Jeep-worthy drop axle! It should be pretty burley when it is finished. I must remember to get before/after (AND during) photos.

Well, that is what I have for you, as of now. I will get some more pictures once the garage is cleaned up better.

Until next time…

I finally got back from work, and it has just started to cool off here. It was in the high 90’s today.

My plans for this month:

1) Prepare the frame for suspension – This means that I will be grinding smooth all of the welds on the frame, in order to make it presentable to the public.

2) Get my 12 bolt axle home so I can mock up the suspension – Pretty self explanatory here. The axle currently resides at a friend’s house, it will serve better purpose in my garage.

3) Prepare my engine to go to the shop for upgrades – I have found a shop that is close (enough) to me and is willing to do my engine work. Actually, this shop has greater plans in store for my engine! I was going for a 383 stroker, but he talked me into a 409, I am not complaining. Of course, this here, is the guy that was talked into supercharging his Impala! All that took, was my neighbor buying me a 3800 Series III top end with supercharger using the money I gave to him to buy me some new heads. Eh, who am I to turn down a supercharger? Also, who am I to turn down a better engine build?

As you might have guessed, more horsepower is not a difficult sell to me.

Anything new? But of course!

I got a new (to me) gas gauge! Nothing in this world is truly free, and my “free” gas gauge was no exception. We could look at it like… I spent 336 hours working it off – not including the 30 hours, and 11,050 miles of flight time! Or, we could look at it like… I went on a working vacation and made new friends, obtaining a gas gauge in the process!


My plans are to strip off all of the paint, and then mount this to the rear of the tub, facing outward, and plumb it directly to the fuel cell. I will need a lot of reinforcement for this gauge, as it still weighs over 30lbs!

On our maiden voyage, I will just fill the cell until it is topped off, and then I will drive the hot rod until I run out of gas. After I figure out how many miles I got out of the tank, I will subtract 25-50 miles, and just drive by my odometer.

When you have owned as much crap as I have (of the 30 something vehicles I have owned, maybe ten of them had 100% completely functional gauges), you find it very easy to work around not being able to use things that many people take for granted. Things like fuel gauges, and air conditioning, and steering wheels.

Okay, well I suppose I never had many issues with my steering wheels. Nope, I lied! I had a ’72 Ford pick up truck that had steering wheel problems – the retaining nut came off and so did the steering wheel. So there you are, crap!

Anyhow, I must give a shout out to Elvis Ramirez Torres, and Luis Yavé Ortega Hernández from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. For if it were not for Elvis, I would have not been able to get this top cap welded on, and if it were not for Luis, I would not have been able to tell Elvis that I needed to get this top cap welded on!

You see, while I was at work, I was removing an oil tank. I saw this level gauge, and thought it would make a kick ass fuel gauge. What I didn’t take into immediate consideration is the fact that the gauge weighed about 90lbs!

True story.

Well, I talked with the welder and his interpreter (Elvis & Luis), and we figured out how to cut it up and re-weld the cap to it. I got all the cutting and grinding done, so that Elvis just had to come in and weld it all up. He told me that I need to be careful with it, because it was delicate. He said he tried a different electrode, and the cap just fell off! So he got this one working, but was afraid it might still be too fragile. I tried to explain that it was just a vent cap, and that it would not see any pressure or stress, but he insisted on warning me to be careful with it.

Hell, what do I know? When someone is that adamant about their work, and they are explaining the precautions to you in a different language (than what you are used to speaking), I find that you generally go along with it.

Don’t worry Elvis, I will be careful with it. I would hate to have to go through the airport with that gauge again if I broke it! (Luis, would you please translate that for me? ¡Hola, Por Favor Señior!)

So, I suppose it is time for me to get off the computer, and into the garage. We have a hot rod to build! I will keep you posted on my progress soon.

Until then…