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Restoration Advice

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    I didn't see a dump bed on the options list in any of my books on Chevy pickups of that year. I'm not sure it much matters if it's factory or not, regarding value. It's a neat feature in and of itself but rarity does not necessarily mean more value in classic cars and trucks....especially in items of utility.

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  • Hi,

    I just bought a 1967 Rolls Royce and the self leveling system is disabled. I am getting wildly different quotes from mechanics as to how much it wil cost to fix it - from five to ten thousand dollars - and also as to whether it is a major or optional repair, some say don't dare drive it until its repaired, yet the system was disabled for over ten years before I bought it.

    Does anyone have any advice or comments on this? The front and back systems were disabled at different times from what I understand from the previous owner. I have also heard that Rolls cars from 1965 to 1967 had difficulty with the self leveling systems.

    I would appreciate any coomments anyone might have.Thanks. Vernon Stepp, Kansasville Wisconsin
  • I have a 1975 Mercedes 450 sl. I did not know when I purchased the car that this particular model and year has significant fuel issues. I have replaced a ton on this car and as we speak it is in the shop again. Here is the problem when I drive the car sometimes when I Park on a slight incline the car will not start and stay running. The ignition turns over ok but the car acts as though it is not getting enough gas. Has anyone else experienced this problem and if so what was the solution. I have replaced the computer the fuel pump and vacumn lines? thanks alex
  • Here's a long one, but I'm a rookie and would appreciate it if you pros could bear with me and offer some advice. I'm looking for some help with what to do with my '72 Chevelle convertible. I don't have the time or knowledge to work on it myself - there's too much to do - so I'm trying to figure out how much it will cost and the most efficient way to get it fixed.

    First, here are some of the problems:
    1) the engine (350 V8, rebuilt 15 years ago) has been leaking oil for some time - bad - and I recently lost compression in one of the cylinders (100 psi in #3, ~140 psi in the rest, if memory serves), but it was running well before this
    2) general overhaul of the brakes is needed
    3) doors hang on the hinges (about 1/2"). They latch, but won't close properly
    4) we did the body work about 10 years ago, and its still in pretty good shape (other than the doors), but lots of small scratches. Also, the work wasn't top quality - paint looks great (still), but some of the lines could be sharper. Basically, I'd be looking for bondo work other than the doors.
    5) I don't know how to really judge the condition of the frame, but there is some rust.
    6) Interior could use some work - carpet is faded, driver seat needs to be re upholstered, door panels could be replaced

    So how much could this cost to fix if I take it to shops and get it done separately, and how much if I get it restored? I'm not looking for a show car, and don't need all factory parts or anything - I want this to be a good looking and (relatively) reliable everyday car.

    My thoughts on cost for those things initially were:
    1) replace the engine - $3000-5000
    2) brakes - $2000
    3) doors - $1000-$2000
    4) bodywork and paint - $5000-8000
    5) frame - I'd leave this alone unless I did a restore
    6) interior - $1000-1500

    I guess that totals to around $12,000-18,500, from my estimate. I would guess that a restore would be $20,000-30,000, depending on the condition of the frame, but with better results. Of course, I pretty much pulled these numbers out of the air (which is why I need your help).

    My questions are:
    a) are these estimates reasonable? and for the individual problems I mentioned?
    b) would it be better/cheaper to simply rebuild this engine, rather than replace it?
    c) does anybody know offhand what options I have if I replace the engine? is it possible/easy/affordable to put a 454 in there?
    d) obviously each shop is different, but any idea how long I could expect everything to take?
    e) I live in southern California, would it be cheaper for me to take my car to Nevada or somewhere else that might have lower labor rates to get it repaired?
    f) anything I forgot to mention, obviously missed, or need to find out to get better help?

    If you made it this far, thanks for your time and patience. Any advice more experienced folks could give would be greatly appreciated, as the sooner I know what to do, the sooner it will be done, and the sooner I'll be cruising down the PCH with the top down.

    Thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    I think your numbers are pretty darn good except for:

    interior---this will cost you more

    doors ---I don't see re-hanging the doors and or replacing the hinges as costing as much as you think

    brakes --- might not cost quite that much, depending on whether you need new brake lines (rust issues) and condition of the drums, etc.

    The BIG problem with your entire plan is this rusty frame business. I would myself hesitate to put a cosmetically restored body and interior on a rusted frame, as this will devalue the car considerably. of course I don't know what you mean by "rust". If you mean surface rust, well this is just a matter of spending a week or two in misery under the car wire brushing it off and re-painting it as best you can---it won't look great but it will look better than what you have.

    But if the frame has actual perforations from rust, especially where the body attaches, this is an ugly thing that needs addressing with a body lift possibly. If the rust in the frame is forward of the firewall, you can do a "front-clip" restoration....just pull off all the sheet metal forward of the windshield, as well as the engine and trans of course, and clean up the frame that way. You'll have a sweet looking engine bay that way, too.

    Otherwise, if you aren't prepared to attack the frame, I'd just do the engine and interior and clean up the body as best you can for now until you're ready to tackle it properly. A badly rusted frame will devalue your car 50% at least.

    Anyway that's my two cents and yes, a good "street restoration" of a '72 Chevelle ragtop will be worth about $25K....add a few K for the 4-speed if you have one and a little more for the 175HP 350/V8. The 1971s are generally worth more $$$ as you know.

    But it's a great car and will always be worth fixing up---but I 'd hate to see you have to do over again. The front clip resto might be a good compromise, depending on where the frame damage is and how bad.

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  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    1) the engine (350 V8, rebuilt 15 years ago) has been leaking oil for some time - bad - and I recently lost compression in one of the cylinders (100 psi in #3, ~140 psi in the rest, if memory serves), but it was running well before this
    If you are fairly mechanically inclined, you can resonably rebuild the engine. Check this site for rebuild kits.
    I have used this company for several years for most the classic Chevrolet engines I rebuild.
    http://www.northernautoparts.com/ProductDetail.cfm?ProductId=148

    To add:
    If this is the origianl engine, DO NOT replace it.
    You are better off rebuilding the original engine.

    2) general overhaul of the brakes is needed
    Most of thses parts are readily available from NAPA or any other name brand parts store.
    Total overhaul of the brake system can range around $1500.

    3) doors hang on the hinges (about 1/2"). They latch, but won't close properly
    The hinges are an easy replacement.
    This site has replacement hinges that are a direct bolt on.
    Hinges are about $60 each. Figuring 4 hinges, $250 plus shipping. I have used Bob's Impala's for a lot of products.
    http://www.impalas.com/product_list.asp?dept=6677&last=4461

    4) we did the body work about 10 years ago, and its still in pretty good shape (other than the doors), but lots of small scratches. Also, the work wasn't top quality - paint looks great (still), but some of the lines could be sharper. Basically, I'd be looking for bondo work other than the doors.
    Find a good body shop that can do the work. Ask for referances and work they have done on similar vehicles.
    Your figures for the body work seem in line.

    5) I don't know how to really judge the condition of the frame, but there is some rust.
    You can do most the work yourself. Knock off any flaking rust and use products from this company.
    http://www.eastwoodco.com/jump.jsp?itemType=CATEGORY&itemID=372
    Eastwood is one of the leading automotive restoration products company.

    6) Interior could use some work - carpet is faded, driver seat needs to be re upholstered, door panels could be replaced
    Southern California has some of the nation's top interior/upholstery shops. Again, ask for referances and vehicles that they have worked on similar to yours.
    As for some of the interior parts, again, see this site.
    http://www.impalas.com/product_list.asp?dept=6146&last=4222
    Carpet kits range around $150
  • Thanks for your help 0patience and Mr. Shiftright. Time for me to put the information to work...
  • I have a "57 chevy that came from the factory with power drum brakes. I installed a power front disk kit and since then my brakes have been horrible. I have good brake fluid flow to all four corners, 19 in. of vac. at an idle, have tried another new master cyl. and another new power booster but nothing has helped. The brake pedal is rock hard, near the top and only travels about a half inch. Even when I bleed the brakes the pedal only travels about a half inch. If I take the master cyl. off I can easily push the brake pedal to the floor. When I bench bleed the master cyl. the piston moves about 1 1/4 in. No matter what I try the brake pedal remains high and rock hard, as if the booster wasn't working. Any ideas?
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    When the pedal is high, it is usually an indication of mis-adjusted brakes. Are the rear brakes drum?
    If so, is there a proportioning valve installed?
    Do ALL of the brakes release or do they drag?

    With the engine shut off and the booster bled (no vacuum in it), how do the brakes feel?
    Who's kit did you install?
  • The rear brakes are drum, and there is a proportioning valve. The brakes do not drag at all. The brakes are rock hard when car is off and there is no vacuum. I have tried 3 master cylinders, and 2- 7" dual diaphram power boosters. Yesterday I installed a new proportioning valve. The vacuum is 19" at an idle. Since installing the new proportioning valve I seem to have good power brakes the first time I hit the pedal, if I take my foot off the brake and hit it again right away it is as if the power booster isn't working and I have to stand on the brakes to get the car to stop. Any ideas?
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 721
    The brakes do not drag at all. The brakes are rock hard when car is off and there is no vacuum...I seem to have good power brakes the first time I hit the pedal, if I take my foot off the brake and hit it again right away it is as if the power booster isn't working and I have to stand on the brakes to get the car to stop. Any ideas?

    That sounds like a vacuum leak either from a line or a "T" fitting.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    I'd have to agree with omarman,
    It sounds like either you have the vacuum hose hooked to the wrong port on the manifold, the check valve isn't working properly or you have a leak in the booster.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    Me, too. Vacuum supply problem.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 5,669
    Might he be able to check a vacuum problem by pushing on the brake pedal without the master cylinder bolted to the booster? If the pedals drops to the floor, there's a vacuum problem. If the pedal's firm, then a linkage/push rod problem.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    I don't have a solution but I do have a question...

    Why would you want to make that 57 Chevy non original?

    Oh, I know, the disks are far superior but the original drums with power assist weren't bad either.

    I love old cars but I'm one of those guys that with the exception of seat belts likes them stock.

    Just curious that's all...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    There's a growing trend...a WAVE actually, to use and enjoy classic cars, and this requires upgrading brakes, suspension, etc. As long as no holes are drilled and the old parts are kept, no harm done to the car or its value.

    The only justification for keeping an old classic with stock brakes, tires and suspension is if you are showing it to be judged. Otherwise, to suffer awful braking and handling, or chronic overheating and bad radio reception for the sake of authenticity seems, to me, and to a lot of other car enthusiasts, as something just a bit too fanatical.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    Because I happen to think that when driven sensibly as one would think old cars would be that the origianl equipment brakes and suspension would be more than up to the task.

    I don't think braking was **that** awful nor did I see many cars overheat unless something was wrong.

    I just hate to see an old car "Mickey Moused" but, that's me.

    These are weekend drivers, not urban battle cars.

    Holes do get drilled and old cars become something other than what they were.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    I see your point. A lot of purists would prefer that they be kept stock.
    But there are a lot of companies now that are making direct bolt on kits for brakes, transmissions, rear ends and fuel injection.
    Most of these kits do not harm the original parts of the vehicle and can be restored easily to stock.

    I've done several modifications to add fuel injjection and they don't harm the vehicle at all.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    Well, if the car can be returned to stock it wouldn't be so bad.

    But, these aren't usually daily drivers. I just don't understand why people feel these mods are necessary?

    A well tuned carb works just fine. Don't tailgate people or try to take turns at excessive speeds and all of these conversions are totally unnecessary.

    These people shouild just use their daily drivers for this.

    At the car shows, I am always attracted to the "survivor" cars and not the "Trailer Queens" that have been over restored or the cars that have been Mickey Moused

    er...modified to make them "better".

    But, again, that's me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    Well of course one must be sensitive to modifications but I do believe these mods are necessary. For instance, a '57 Chevy CAN easily go on modern freeway....but....but...when that brand new Volvo in front of you stops with its 4-wheel power disk brakes, you'd better be about 20 car lengths behind.

    And really, manual steering on a 60s muscle car is no fun whatsoever, and tons of engine heat wafting throught the firewall on a summer's day isn't either.

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  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    A few weeks ago when I took the 59 Land Rover to the auto show I had something like that happen.

    On the way back I have to go down this long steep hill. I have been on the hill with that truck many times but never when it was 100 degrees out and never after I had already driving for 45 minutes.

    At the bottom of the hill is a stop sign. As I come down the hill I keep it in third for some engine braking to help out the little un-powered drum brakes. It would probably be better to down shift to second but that is a PITA because of the non-syncrho second gear. I can up shift from first to second easily enough but I never really mastered down shifting into second. Every other time I have been down the hill that worked fine but this time was different. As I get to the steepest part of hill I push the brakes a little harder to slow down and I get nothing. I push the pedal to the floor and can just barely keep from accelerating.

    All the ambient heat and the previous 45 minutes of driving must have overheated the brakes. I manage to down shift into second with only a little bit of gear grinding. That slows me down a good bit but I am still going to fast to stop for the sign. I am pumping the brakes trying to get some life back into them and there are still cars in the intersection. I lay on the horn a few times but they are clueless.

    Luckily the hill flattens out enough right before the stop sign that I can slow down enough to stop about two car lengths past the line.

    My whole body is drenched in sweat and its not just from the 100 plus degree heat. I have a death grip on the wheel and I am just sitting there letting my heart rate come down some. At that point I would really have liked some disc brakes.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    That was my point. Stay in the slow land and allow lots of room. Of course, in So. Calif, people won't let you allow any distances between cars.
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    I've had this happen to me many times in driving older vehicles; I'm keeping a safe distance, but then someone entering the street looks and sees an old vehicle and assumes it can't be going too fast, so they pull out in front of me. Of course, I WAS driving the same speed as everyone else, but I can't slow down as quickly, so I have to take evasive action to keep from plowing into them.

    Which is why one of the first things I do when I encounter one of these situations where I have to stop quickly (no matter the age of the car I'm driving) is to check my rearview mirror to make certain someone isn't about to plow into me. One week into driving my new car I came to one of those sudden stops on the Interstate on my way to work, and as I'm screeching to a halt (without hitting anyone, thanks to my 4-wheel discs w/ABS) I check my mirror and I see a guy coming at me who has his head turned looking at something in the passenger seat...and driving something like a '78 Cutlass. I pumped my brakes a couple times to flash my brake lights just in case and braced for the impact, heard the tires squeal and then watched as the guy slid past me in the emergency lane and stopped about a car length in front of me. When every car on the street had drum brakes those cars were relatively safe, because everyone was working with similar reaction times/distances. But driving an older car today on the same playing field with much more advanced cars (and in many cases much less advanced drivers!) puts you at an unfair advantage.

    If a car is too valuable to make these mods to, then realistically it should only be driven on rare occasions (or trailered). If it's a daily driver, it needs to be equipped to survive the daily drive. Given a choice I'd rather see old cars on the street with modern drivetrains/brake/safety systems versus only seeing them in a museum somewhere.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,106
    I had thought about getting my '57 DeSoto converted to disk brakes. Until I found out that it would probably cost about $1800 to get the front brakes done (included upgrading it to a dual master cylinder). Once I found out one of the ingredients for the rear setup was a 1970-74 E-body rear-end, I just about gave up. I don't imagine that there are too many E-body donor cars around, considering that people want those to build their Hemi Cuda clone and such.

    If I had to drive this thing on a daily basis, I might consider it. But actually, when I did drive it more often, I never really had any complaints about how its "Total Contact" braking system performed. Now keeping it adjusted, working on it, etc, is way annoying because it's overly complicated. Two wheel cylinders up front per wheel, plus needing a special puller to get the back drums off do not exactly bring a smile to my face.

    I'll probably just end up having its brake system put back to original spec. Probably a lot cheaper and much less annoying in the long run than digging up Volare copcar rotors, front calipers off God-knows what else, '79-85 Eldorado rear disc setups, an E-body rear-end, and all sorts of other odds and ends.

    As for disc brakes versus drum, what I'm about to say will probably make Walter P. Chrysler roll over in his grave, as he always put a strong emphasis on good brakes...but I swear I can lock up the all-disc setup on my 2000 Intrepid much more easily than I could the 10" non-power drums on my '68 Dart. I think I read somewhere though, that braking ability was never a strong suit of the Mopar LH platform.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    A lot of folks, myself included have put older bodies on newer chassis.
    An example, my 70 Chevy 3/4 ton 4x4 is on a 72 frame.
    The reason, because the 70 had drum brakes.
    The 72 had power steering and power disk brakes.
    While that is a minor example, in the late 70s, it wasn't uncommon for us to find vehicles like 48s and put them on certain Chevy frames, like Impala frames, for the power steering, power brakes and that.

    Recently, there has been an increase in replica bodies going on tubed frames or folks finding body parts and assembling them on different frames.
    While these vehicles end up not being anywhere near stock, they are still very nice vehicles.

    I'm not a purist when it comes to the classics, I grew up as a hot rodder. So I can see people's point when they modify a vehicle. I can also see the purist's point. It is a shame to chop up a beautiful 57.

    But here's the flip side. Usually vehicles I hot rodded (ok, so they were a bit chopped), most were to a point where it would have been extremely costly to restore to stock. Turning them into hot rods was far easier and less costly to do. So it was the natural thing to do.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,198
    For something really strange, I heard early 1950s Chrysler New Yorkers had disc brakes, but not like we commonly think of disc brakes - i.e. a rotor/caliper - rather a disc that presses against the inside of a drum. Did I imagine this or did such a setup exist? I'd also like to see a picture/ diagram of what "Total Contact" brakes looked like as well as the strange disc brakes of the early '50s New Yorker.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,106
    Lemko, I do recall hearing about some odd disk brake setup like that too, on the early 50's New Yorkers. I don't know much about it.

    As for Total Contact braking, I just tried a quick Google search, and couldn't find any online diagrams. I have a '57 DeSoto service manual packed away somewhere though, and I guess I could scan it in for you. Basically, it had an upper cylinder that would press one of the shoes against the drum. I forget if it was the forward shoe or the rear shoe though. The lower cylinder would press the other shoe. It provided more even braking, because instead of applying the bulk of the force at two spots towards the top of the drum, it would apply it more evenly, as the two pressure points would be directly opposite each other on the drum.

    The 1957 DeSoto and Chrysler also used beefy 12" drums, which no doubt helped with stopping power. I think Dodge used 11" drums, and I'm not sure what Plymouth used.

    Just for comparison, something like a 1973 Grand Am or GTO, which probably weighed more than a '57 DeSoto and, with the 455 at least, was probably more powerful, only came standard with 9.5" drums all around. Basically, the same thing the Corvair used to use, but in a package that was probably about 1200-1500 pounds heavier! :surprise: The disk brake option, IIRC, came with 11" drums in back, so hopefully the majority of them were equipped that way!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,669
    I don't think there are but a small small percentage of cars that are "too valuable" to modify. I mean, thousands of people race very...and I mean VERY...valuable cars in vintage track events. My neighbor (old guy) parks his 300SL roadster on the street sometimes...he loves to drive it (real slow).

    Speaking just for myself, someone sheltering a $10,000 very common "classic" car and pleading that it's too valuable to alter in any way....well, that's really stretching it and strikes me, at any rate, as nothing more than an ego trip and making a big ado about nothing.

    Brakes, safety equipment and good suspension are no different to me than life preservers, modern running lights and improved engine in an old yacht or runabout.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    Well, when I had my old cars I must have been lucky because I never had anything like that happen. I limited my freeway driving and I was very careful.

    I just think the dangers of driving a stock, well maintained older car with drum brakes and stock suspension is very much overblown.

    Anything CAN happen I suppose but to me, I like my cars as they were when they were built.

    But, I see the other side too.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,878
    Andre,

    Those were called Center Plane brakes and they were a nightmare to work on and keep adjusted. The rears were a nasty b**ch to beat those drums off.

    When everything was working as designed they worked OK but they weren't Chrysler's high point in engineering.
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