Posts Tagged ‘Jeep Project’

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.

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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:

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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.

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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…

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:

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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!!]

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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!

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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…

So, what have we been up to lately? Um, not much. It is really gnarly out there! Been in the 100s here and there, and when it wasn’t hot, it was busy monsooning, and when it wasn’t doing that… I was camping with the boy.

I know… He is making excuses so he doesn’t have to work. Well, sort of. Yes. And no.

“Really, what has been going on?” you may ask yourself.

Well, the Navy SEALs have a saying – “Proper prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance.” Suffice it to say that I have not properly prepared for this project, and therefore I have produced piss-poor product. My apologies. Really.

What am I to do about this? Well, I am starting by admitting my fault, writing down my plan of action, and turning to. Actually, I have been hung up on this 4bt turbo diesel. As much as I want one, it is just not in the cards right now.

So, what are my options? I can wait around until I get the money to buy one – as we can see, that is not working out so very well, or I could take this opportunity to use my resources and just get something done – and that is what happened.

I came to a realization after talking with my buddy, David (who has the uncanny ability to make me come to my own realizations and figure out actual conclusions about what I need done, thus putting a fire under my ass – a sort of Jiminy Cricket, if you will). We were talking about a multitude of different things, when the subject of my hot rod came up. I had mentioned that I was hung up on this turbo diesel, but when I came back from Spain, I would have the cash to buy one.

That would be great, but in doing so, it would negate the whole “budget build/rat rod” aspect if I go and spend $3500 on a drivetrain.

That brought me to thinking of other options. As it turns out, I have a perfectly capable AMC 360 sitting in the garage. A smogged, slug of a V8 that currently produces about 160hp. Not really that impressive, but, it is approximately the same weight as a 4bt. This means that I can build the rig, drive it around, have some fun (with my cheap ass rat rod). Later on, when I have the money, I can upgrade to the diesel, even if I have to drive a slug around until I can afford the new motor. Or will I?

Thanks to the internet, and the sick minded (I mean like minded), I have found that my problems have been answered, and I have been proven wrong. I won’t have to drive around a slug!

This engine has been sitting around for no less than two years, so it won’t be a drop in, plug-and-play. I will need to rebuild it. While perusing the interweb for rebuild kits, I stumbled back onto the International Full Size Jeep Association forum, and found a budget build AMC 383 Stroker, starting with a 360, for an extra $650 over rebuild cost.

Thank you Greg! He was able to build a 400+hp bruiser of a motor, for about the tune of $1200! I am definitely capable of swinging something like that. Take a look:

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So, this is my new mission. When I come back from Spain, I will be stripping down the motor and getting it ready to use this recipe. Basically, what he did was machine the motor to accept small block Chevy 400 pistons. Here is a quick rundown of how it works:

 

Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-11-18_1[1] Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-11-28_1[1]Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-11-39_1[1] Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-11-39_2[1]Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-19-49_1[1]Screenshot_2014-08-24-22-16-36_1[1]

For the full write up, go check it out at the IFSJA forum: http://www.ifsja.org/forums/vb/showthread.php?t=110924

So, I have a new direction and some more homework to get done. I did find out there is a disc brake conversion for that 12 bolt, so that is something that will be coming up later on. I also decided that I wanted the edges of the c-notches to be ground down. So I started that today, with good progress!

This just a quick sketch of what the whole thing will look like. I will be getting a couple of 7″ grinders to help cut through the nasty stuff before I come back over it with the 4.5″ and a flapper disc.

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I am off to Spain for work, but after I come back, I will have some new updates. That first weekend I am home, we will be having a wrenching party, and I will let you know how it all works out.

Until next time…

And where have I been spending my time lately? Well, to speak the truth – a lot at work, a little bit at the house, and even less in the garage. If you didn’t know, I work on an oil rig, and I am gone for nearly a month at a time. So it is not like I get paid to work on this thing all day every day. But, that does not mean I have completely shirked my duties in the build. I got something done! Well, sort of… I got something mostly done.

So, I haven’t gotten as far on the build as I wanted to. What is it that I did get accomplished, you may ask?

I got most of the frame welded up. Earlier, I showed you my monster C-notches. Well, I got them (mostly) installed, I need to weld three more plates onto it, and I will be good to start work on the suspension. Tony and I had to do a lot of framework, in order to get these things to sit properly.

See?

IMG_1041[1]IMG_1040[1]IMG_1039[1]IMG_1038[1]

These are not “before and after” pictures, they are left side/right side pictures. There was a crossmember we had to cut out, and there was a lot of boxing in of the frame that needed to be done. But after all that work, we were able to place the notches, and get them ready for final install.

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If you remember correctly, my C-notches came to me as multiple pieces of CNC cut metal – (4) “C” pieces, (4) outer strips, (4) inner strips, (2) uppers and (2) lowers.

The idea behind this is to place the “C” where you want it on the frame, and tack weld it there. Place another “C” in the exact same spot, on the other side of that frame rail, and tack it there. When the placement is good, simply weld it all up, boxing the outer part of your “C” with the strips, before cutting the frame and boxing the inner part. Vi-ola! An 18″ C-notch.

MORE PICTURES!!

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Tony got to cut the frame portions out of the notches, seeing as I had just done all of the welding. I didn’t want him to feel left out.

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Now, I have never called myself a welder, and I know that there are many a man (and woman too) that could weld better than that, but… The name of the project is “FRANKENJEEP”, and it is a rat rod! It is my first real build, and I am allowed a little bit of leeway here. As long as it is functional, and safe… I am not too worried about how it looks.

Plus, you don’t get to do things this when you are worried about pretty…

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Yup. I gave it a tramp stamp. Actually, Jaiden gave it a tramp stamp, that is his handwriting. Some time ago, when he was first learning to write, I had him write out his ABC’s with a Sharpie. I had him write them three times each, upper and lower case. I then scanned them into the computer, jumped on to Photoshop and took the ones I liked the best and created the word “FrankenJeep”. Afterwards, I took a yellow crayon and “traced” out the letters onto my bumper before following them with the MIG gun.

That is the gist of what I have accomplished since we last spoke. I know it is not the “final product” you were all waiting for, but I have also been trying to get some other things in order. For example, my neighbor Chris, has come up with an ingenious idea of a rolling bar – a 1969 Chevy flatbed pickup truck, with the back of it converted into a bar. It goes by many names, the Buccaneer’s Bowtie, and the Patina Cantina… but mostly, it goes ambiguously as – The Pirate Ship. I am to be doing the welding on it, but that is not my story to tell. *I will try and get some spy photos for you though.

We also had to repair an A/C condenser problem (on a Honda, ugh). We did a brake job on Tony’s Mazda, and I have done some minor upgrades to the little Neon. Sorry to disappoint, but the Neon is my commuter car, and I cannot afford to take it out of commission just to go all Tim Allen on it. As much as I might like to… but hey, I get a solid 35mpg out of it, there is really no reason to change any part of that. I did get some new (to me) headlights for it. I scored a pair of projector headlights for $60 at the local yard. Pretty stoked about that! Plus, they came with smoked turn signals. That is, like 5hp each… or something.

AND… the teenager just came back from Washington! That is cool, but, the last year of “I don’t know where this should go, so let’s put it in his room” went to the garage. That means I get to clean up the garage… again.

I have also been doing a lot of hunting for ideas, and trying to figure out some problems, before they give me too much grief. I have been sourcing new parts and other potential parts to see what I can get, and what I can do for this… A lot of homework, really.

An example of potential problems? I found out that my tub dimensions are 60″ outside width. My AMC 20 axle, lug to lug, is 60″. At first, I thought that would work out, but then I realized that doesn’t work at all. Not without one or two inch spacers, and a wicked backspacing, like zero. That is something I want to avoid. Stupid looking, custom wheels. [|>–o–<|] (*my poor attempt to illustrate improper backspacing on an axle)

So back to the drawing board, and I find that a Chevy full size axle is 68″. That gives me four inches on each side of the tub. Guess what? My neighbor just happens to be a Chevy guy with a line on these. Done and done. He also informed me about ensuring that my drive height does not make my driveline perfectly parallel with the differential. I never thought about it before, but I guess that the needle bearings are not meant to free float, and so you need to pitch your diff up or down just a bit to keep that from happening.

As you can see, even though I may not be in the garage working on this thing, I am always working on it. So, until next time…