Hydraulically Actuated Clutches FTW!

A few weeks ago, I began preparing my truck for future upgrades because when I start making real horsepower I don’t want it to explode into a million pieces.  Project #1 was upgrading injectors to larger ones (650cc).  I won’t actually be using this extra fuel yet, so for now I had to tune out about 30% of the fuel to make it run at a normal air/fuel ratio.  Once the injectors were in and tuned properly,  I took it for a ride down the street.  Much to my surprise, my truck felt amazing!  It felt that way right up until the clutch started slipping and smoking. :(   I knew that I was getting close to the limits of my clutch, so I immediately started project #2, which is where this story really begins…. » Continue reading more of this post…

Car Builds: Before and After Pictures

When building or restoring a car, you absolutely HAVE to take pictures.

Here are my top 7 reasons why:

1) Without pictures, nobody will ever believe that you did any of the work (unless it’s terrible, then they will believe you 100%).

2) You will never remember how things originally went together. That extra bag of bolts needs a home!

3) You can hold the photo up against your car and say “look guys, before and after”.

4) It can remind you where you came from, and how you got to where you are.

5) You can look back and laugh at the horrific work you did toward the beginning of the project.  Remember when you couldn’t weld?

6) You can post them on the internet and show off all of your work to the world.

7) You don’t realize it at the time of the photograph, but there is always weird stuff going on in the background. It is fun to look for!

If you are saying to yourself “This guy is right, I don’t have any pictures of my cars…”, grab a handful of camera right now and go take some pictures.  I promise you that you will appreciate it down the road.  Just imagine how cool it would be to see all the cars that your parents had throughout the years.

Got before and after pictures?  I want to see them! Post them up or Send them to me: jnutt@1aauto.com

See! Rust isnt so bad after all.

Most car enthusiasts hate rust with a passion, because once it starts it never seems to go away.  However, growing up in Massachusetts, you quickly realize that cars without rust don’t exist in our area, and rust is just a part of life.  Naturally, I want to do everything in my power to have a rust free car, and last summer, I found some rust hiding in the deepest darkest regions of my 1964 Chevy Impala.  Describing where this metal came from is somewhat tough, but I’ll do my best.  Ok, imagine a 1964 impala (sweet right?), now open the gas filler door.  You see the filler pipe with the gas cap on the top of it.  Surrounding that pipe is a piece of metal that is welded to the inside of the outer wheel house.  This is THAT piece!  Naturally water collects in there and rots out the whole area.  I wasn’t having that so I tore it all out and began the rebuild.

First I removed it from the car and evaluated the situation at hand.  The outer perimeter was completely rotted out and needing replacing.

Not pretty from any angle

Edges rotted out

I then cut all the edges off of it and began making replacements from flat sheetmetal.  You can see where I welded the new pieces in on the back side in the next picture.  With some of the compound curves, there is some metal stretching and shrinking involved.  This can be done with hammers and dollies if you are really good, or you can buy yourself a metal stretcher & shrinker to make the job 1 million times easier.  In any case, new pieces were then welded in and ground down to make them pretty again.

Back side before the welds are ground down

Looking complete again.

Front side after some grinding

Then I decided that the easiest way to clean it up completely was to blast it with some extra fine sand.  So blast I did.

Blasted

Tada!

With a little bit more massaging after this picture, it was completed, and then spot welded back into its happy home.  See, rust isn’t so bad after all!

How To Replace Chevy S10 Shock Absorbers

I have owned more Chevy S10 truck’s than I care to admit.  The one thing in common with all of these trucks is that they all needed shocks.  I don’t know if there is a shock eating gremlin that comes stock with these trucks or what, but they don’t seem to survive.  As you may have guessed, Here at 1AAuto, we show you how to do it!

The Reincarnation: My Turbocharged Minitruck

Yesterday we reviewed the riveting tale of the triumphant rise and epic fall of my first truck. Today I am presenting you with what I am calling “The Reincarnation”.  With my first truck solemnly resting in a junkyard far beyond the point of no return, I found myself in desperate need of that missing flame that my Dodge Ram 50 and I once had.  I needed to have the heart and soul of my first truck, but with heaping gobs of horsepower, more interior space, and a clutch pedal.  To me, that would be pure perfection.

Being a fairly typical gearhead, I get a thrill when I open my hood for people and surprise them with a power plant that they don’t expect.  I’m not talking about Chevy engines in Fords though, that is still bizarre to me…  I am talking more about upgrades within the same genre.  Like a Dodge minitruck with the same make fuel injected, turbocharged, DOHC engine where a carbureted loaf once puttered.  Doubling or tripling the factory horsepower and getting more than 1 horsepower per cubic inch intrigues me. It’s even better when it appears like the vehicle came that way.  Onlookers begin to question their own eyes.

As you may or may not know, a Dodge Ram 50 truck is really the same as a Mitsubishi Mightymax truck so most parts are interchangeable.  Mitsubishi built them for Dodge in the 1980′s and early 1990′s using all Mitsubishi parts, and Dodge decals.  So, I figured that if Dodge equals Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi built 220 horsepower turbocharged Mitsubishi Eclipses, then I could potentially get a 4G63 turbo Mitsubishi Eclipse (DSM) engine swapped into a Dodge Ram 50.  Simple! With some bolt on upgrades, I could be in the neighborhood of 250+ horsepower, and I liked that thought, a lot.

One day, many years ago, I was hanging out on some local automotive internet forums when a kid asked if anybody needed parts from a 1989 Dodge Ram 50 Extended cab.  I wasn’t actually looking to buy a truck at that time but I sent him a message anyway asking if he had the whole truck and what was wrong with it.  He quickly responded letting me know that he had the whole truck, it was in great shape, but had a hole in the engine block.  It was currently sitting in a parking lot and it needed to be gone ASAP.  Could this be my new Ram 50? I thought.  “Oh and 1 more thing” he said, “it’s free and has a clean title”.   Yes, everything had officially fallen into place.

I picked up the truck the following weekend, and it was exactly what I had been dreaming about for years.  Clean original paint, macro (extended) cab, low mileage, straight body, very little rust, it was perfect in my eyes.  Within days, I had ripped the junk engine out and grabbed an engine from a 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse.  I dropped the 4G63 into it’s new home with custom motor mounts, and a variety of other custom accessories.  Wiring, plumbing, cutting & welding was intense for a couple months, and at the 3 month mark, the truck was drivable.

Driving it brings back all the happiness and memories that I had in my first truck, but now with more tire burning gross displays of horsepower, and 5 gears to shift through.  I have been driving it for several years now, and it never lets me down (unless I deserve it).  It starts every time, runs smooth, and generally loves to be a usable truck again.

Current list of modifications:

- 1989 Dodge Ram 50 Macro Cab 5 speed truck
- 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse 4G63 Engine. DOHC, turbo, intercooled, ~18psi.
- 1985 Mitsubishi Montero Limited Slip Differential, 3:55 gears.
- Cadillac Escalade 17″ wheels
- Custom clutch
- 1987 Dodge Ram 50 2.0L 5 speed transmission
- 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse FWD Flywheel
- Custom driveshaft, motor mounts, radiator pipes
- 1991 Mitsubishi Mightymax waterpump
- 1993+ Mitsubishi Mightymax Grille + Bumper

After my first truck’s lesson, I can’t see myself ever getting rid of this truck.  The fact that it will get sideways at 40+ mph is enough to scare me to death and make me keep it forever.

The Triumphant Rise and Epic Fall of my First Truck.

I would expect the editor of any automotive blog to have owned and driven a massive number of vehicles to give some kind of legitimacy to the blog itself.  For that reason, I feel that it is my duty to the readers to own and drive as many vehicles as possible, and for that, I thank you.   Between my own personal automotive obsessions and working as a technician, I have driven hundreds of cars, each with it’s own intricacies, oddities, and personality.  How trustworthy are my gearhead opinions though?  Why continue on this automotive journey with me if you don’t even know where I have been?  I think at this point in our internet relationship, it’s time that you learned about the triumphant rise and epic fall of my first daily driven vehicle.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I really loved that truck more than I can explain.  Something about it was special to me, though I am still unsure of what.

Triumphant Rise:

When I was 15, I had about $500 to my name from dogs chasing me my newspaper route days, and I knew that the pinnacle of life was knocking on my door.  I was getting my license soon.  Sure I already owned 1 car, which will undoubtedly come up in future musings, but I needed a car that I could actually drive daily.  A car that moved under its own power, maybe something with wheels and a running engine.   After harassing my parents for a while, they finally agreed to let me get a second car a little early.  (Thanks Mom and Dad).  I immediately ripped through the “Vehicles for Parts”, and “Antique Autos” sections of the local Want Advertiser searching for the perfect older car to drive daily. A Dart would be cool, I thought aloud… or maybe an Iroc, OH how about a 1939 Studebaker, that would be really cool too..

The weeks steadily passed and my parents shot down every dumb idea I had, thankfully.  Then my mom came home one day and said that a person that she knew had a 1987 Dodge Ram 50 for $500 that needed some work.  Initially, I wasn’t so sure, but within a day or two I had found pictures of some Ram 50′s in MiniTruckin magazine that made me fall in love.  I scrounged up every last penny I could find, and I bought it.  It was the beginning of a very special relationship.

The first thing I did when I got it home was to rebuild the carburetor.  That’s what you’re supposed to do right? It took a few tries, but I got the carburetor back on the truck and got it running again, albeit only slightly better than before I had touched it. Nevertheless, I pressed on.  I changed fluids, fixed exhaust, and even fixed the leaky power steering.  After an eternity (a few weeks) had passed, I got my license and began driving my newly improved Ram 50.  We quickly became great friends, and each weekend, I would spend endless time improving different areas of her:

- Removed rust and rot
- Straightened all the metal
- Added bucket seats
- Lowered 3 inches
- New tires, polished chrome wheels
- Absurdly loud stereo system
- Tinted window
- Bug guard (they were cool then)
- Tonneau cover
- Custom frenched license plate in the tailgate
- Painted neon green brake drums and calipers

The Epic Fall:

It was beautiful on so many levels, and perfect for cruising the beaches. Rust free, dent free, and just a really astonishingly clean truck.  Although the local law enforcement were not fans of my tailgate, it really did set my truck apart from the rest. Mine was special.   After about a year of driving the truck, I began thinking irrationally.  For some unknown reason, I decided that I could not handle the slowness of the truck any longer, and I needed a faster vehicle.  What an idiot! I put the truck on the front lawn for sale for $1000 obo, and a guy I knew gave me $800 cash for it.  He then drove away my original $500 purchase price, about $1000 in upgrades, and thousands of hours of making it perfect. All because I was an idiot.

Years pass, and the truck vanishes from sight and everyone’s memory but my own.  It was only a year after selling it that I had realized the mistake that I had made. I constantly dreamed about turning back time, but without a Delorean, I just couldn’t.  I jumped from one car to the next to the next, desperately trying to find the magic that my little Ram 50 and I once had, but the magic just couldn’t be found.  It was gone for good.

Months turned to years, and my brother and I needed something to do one hot summer day. We decided to challenge the junkyards in a game of mud, oil, and grease.  It was always a great time and would have been again, but destiny had other plans.  There she sat, my beloved 1987 Dodge Ram 50.  Smashed on every corner, missing wheels, and another truck sitting on her roof.  I felt sickened.  Something I had worked so very hard on was now crushed right before my eyes.  It was truly an awful feeling that I would not want any other gearhead to go through.  I reluctantly approached the truck knowing full well that I had done her wrong.  A silent heart felt apology was in order as I slowly meandered my way around the back of the truck.  My custom tailgate, the green drums, the lowering blocks, the interior, the tint. It was all still there, just horrified in every sense of the word…. I spent a few minutes thinking about all the great times we had, snapped off some pictures for memories, and then shamefully walked away.

Amazingly, this saga didn’t end that day in the junkyard, but “The Reincarnation” is a story best left for another day.  Anybody interested?

Electrical Gremlins 101.

Recently I acquired an automotive engine wiring harness that needed some serious love and attention.  The previous owner had apparently stirred the dirty pot of electric gremlins, allowing them to surface from the deepest, darkest bowels of the vehicle.  After seeing it with my own eyes, it became my obligation to write a “how-to” on how to successfully breed automotive electrical gremlins.  The previous owner of this wiring harness had perfected this lost art, and I didn’t want the information to become lost again for all eternity.

Step 1) Use Scotch Locks to splice a few extra inches of wire in.  That’s not what they are intended for but hey if it works, it works.

Step 2) Now solder some frayed wires together with zero flux or penetration.  If possible, just “plop” a dab of solder on the 2 wires, but not too much, this isn’t not meant to hold for more than a few days.

Step 3) Cut open a few important wires, run them through a blender, then leave them open to the elements.  This will allow for sparks, fire, and other forms of excitement.

Step 4) Add T-Taps, lots of them.  The goal here is to damage as many wires as possible, and this will get you well on your way.  Remember that moderation is not a word in your vocabulary.

Step 5) Find a connector that goes to something important, like a Mass Airflow Sensor for example, and cut it off.  Now, ever-so-gently twist the wires back together.  As soon as that is complete, pull them apart again, and lightly twist them back together in the opposite direction.  Don’t bother shrink wrapping them or taping them, it won’t be necessary.

Step 6) Your car won’t run soon anyway, so why not start early by ripping off the fuel injector connectors.  One? Nah, go for 2 or 3, at least.

Step 7) This is the final step so pay very close attention.  Find a ground loop connector, preferably with multiple wires going to it.  Now grab the nearest pair of wire cutters, and cut the entire thing off.  Quickly put the loop in your pocket, and do whatever you need to do to make sure it is never associated with the wiring harness again.

If you want to successfully breed electrical gremlins in your own (or maybe a friend’s car), these are the steps you need to take to complete the process.  Completing every step won’t be necessary because just one of these steps will cause endless hours of enjoyable electrical gremlin chasing.

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