Q. I'm building a '56 Chevy truck. This will be a driver, but I want to give it some unique character underhood. Do you have any ideas for dressing up an engine or the engine compartment?
Via the Internet
A. Well, the sky is the limit here. You can certainly buy a lot of bolt-on accessories to enhance the engine compartment, like finned aluminum valve covers and air cleaners, as one example. You can get catalogs from many of the advertisers in this magazine that will list literally thousands of items you can use to dress up your engine compartment.
While these accessories are great, if you want something that nobody else has, you might consider going in a completely different direction. Many trucks that are being built in a modern style make use of a custom-fabricated cover for the top of the engine, which can be painted the color of the body or a contrasting color. While I am always interested in beautiful custom-fabricated sheetmetal pieces, in many cases, I prefer seeing the mechanical complexity of the engine, with all of the components detailed in an unusual manner.
Just to get your creative juices going, you'll see a picture here that shows an alternator that has been given a totally unique treatment, by drilling a pattern of holes in graduated sizes. I saw this at a recent car show, and didn't get the builder's name, but this is just one example of how you can give your truck a completely unique look by going in a direction a bit different from the norm.
This is a great example of thinking "outside of the box" for detailing an engine compartme
Q. Ron, I have a '48 Chevy 3100 truck I traded for doing some TIG welding. The body is nice, but someone who thought they knew what they were doing welded a Nova front suspension onto this frame. They got it off center and notched it out for the Nova steering box, taking away the roll in the frame as well.
I have a '92 Camaro chassis, and I could graft the front clip of it onto into the truck frame. I have a lengthened fire truck chassis, but would like some proper input on tackling this, for safety sake. I have numerous years in metal fabrication, doing industrial and structural welding (emergency service apparatus manufacturing and repair) so I am confident I could tackle this.
The other route is to make my own frame from 2x3x3/16 tube. What would you do, and how would one go about this correctly? Any input would be appreciated. I look forward to your articles; they challenge my knowledge and skill.
Via the Internet
A. I don't know how close the '92 Camaro frame is to matching the frame of your '48 truck. The key here is to select a clip that has a fairly close match, with both framerails being nearly the same width. While you can add enough steel to bridge virtually any mismatch, it's better to start with a clip that is reasonably close to the dimensions of the original frame.
When grafting on any newer frame clip to an older frame, there will be a certain amount of mismatch. Newer framerails are generally wider than the earlier C-section frames, and standard procedures of adding gussets and fishplates can safely accommodate small discrepancies. I'd imagine the same techniques you use on a fire truck chassis would be adequate for your current project.
As far as making a new frame, that's probably going to be more work, but the advantage is that you can position the rails exactly where you want for whatever engine, drivetrain, and suspension systems you want to use. The standard size for most aftermarket truck frames is 2x6 inches. In certain situations 2x4 tubing might work near the ends of the chassis, but 2x3 simply isn't up to snuff.
Of course you want your frame modifications to be completely safe, since any failure of the frame, or the suspension clip you're adding can have severe consequences, and cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, endangering anybody in harm's way!
You can email your questions to Professor Hammer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to Professor Hammer, c/o CLASSIC TRUCKS Magazine, 1733 Alton Pkwy. #100, Irvine, CA 92606. You'll receive a personal reply! We'll print your name and city unless you request otherwise. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking processes, and he offers an ongoing series of workshops across the nation covering all aspects of metalworking. Check them out online at www.covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and their free catalog of DVDs. Phone 800-747-4631, or 831-768-0705. You can send a request by mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd. #105, Freedom, CA 95019.