WELCOME TO MY BLOG
All sorts of stuff in here - mostly the story of the restoration of my 57 Chevy which I bought in Tucson, Arizona way back in September 1989.
Once back in the UK this two door hardtop was my daily runabout for many years until the UK weather finally took it's toll and one of Detroits' finest needed a total restoration. What I thought was going to be maybe a two year job turned out to be 10 years work on and off. Start to finish here's the story of how I got on - I hope it's of help to any fellow Tri-five owners thinking of doing the same, I wouldn't fancy doing it all again.
Any questions please drop me a line via the contact form.
My brake set up after the restoration was an angled 8" dual booster, a 1" bore cast iron master cylinder with the clevis pin one inch lower on the pedal to improve pedal ratio, 70's big single piston caliper discs up front and 11" Ford drums on the 9" rear axle. After driving this car with manual brakes for 20 odd years the new power brakes seemed OK but they[...]
Well this was the big one that spurred me on to get the car finished and we made it. What a cracking weekend it was and what a sight seeing Chevrolet's finest all lined up down the track. A credit to the hard work of the organisers and all those that made it.
Me and Dave Meyer had a notion to have a night time cruise. A small gathering of Tri-Chevy's and a Buick set off from Chelsea bridge at 3am on a 25 mile cruise down the Kings Road, around West London, out to Heathrow ending up at Heston services. Apologies for forgetting all the names of those involved. I remember the two Dave's who planned the route, Mick, Lee and Lisa, a[...]
I'd sorted most of the initial teething problems and the sun was out so it was off to the Damn Yankees show at North Weald
Finally on the road. I can't deny it was an unusual experience, it was a bit like when I first drove it around the block for the first time on East 22nd st in Tucson, Arizona. The car now looked even better than it did way back in 1989, I wish I could say the same for myself. Now with power steering, power brakes and a front sway bar it[...]
Crikey it's finally alive. Paul joined me under the hood checking the fuel lines whilst my wife Helen was on the key and checking the oil pressure. After patiently putting up with this build over the years Helen was quite excited that it all worked.
With the steering done I'd now run out of excuses not to fire this thing up. I'd checked it all over time and time again but I'd built the motor 8 years ago and was expecting an epic, youtube failure lurking around the corner. A proud moment, the first gallon of gasoline is poured. Time to check and invest in some new fire extinguishers.
After a day googling the subject I tackled the steering alignment initially using a laser level and string. It's the first time I'd used a bubble gauge. To get the wheel angle right I spotted my cam degree wheel hanging up in the garage. I'm not planning on degreeing any more cams in the near future so it was quickly modified into a wheel angle plate. I'd made some[...]
I started with the headliner and the first job was soundproofing. There's a ton of bewildering online advice about soundproofing products, some are cheap, some ridiculously expensive. I went for silent coat which seemed to get good reviews and was cheaper than Dynamat. The vinyl headliner had been rolled up in the loft for eight years so looked a right mess when it was first hung, I warmed it up then[...]
I finished the dash by installing a Retrosound radio as these had good reviews and they have a bezel and knobs that look like the original. These were on sale at Moss Europe at the time so I snapped one up and ordered the bezel and knobs from Jegs as they were cheaper. It also has a separate SD card, USB reader and ipod jack input which I hid away in the[...]
Most of the original glass was de-laminated and shot to bits so another trip to Russ Pepper to pick up a new set. I wobbled between the grey tint or green for a while but went for the green in the end as this seems to suit the red and has a more classic look. After a bit of homework on Chevytalk.com I picked up the correct width of glass[...]
I'd recovered the seats about 22 years ago when I first bought the car and didn't have too much bother at the time as I'd left all the original padding in place. This was now all in a shoddy state so everything needed to stripped off. A lot of the drivers seat springs were broken so they were repaired and off they went to the shot blasters. They then had[...]
After plenty of research on www.chevytalk.com I bought an American Autowire classic update kit. It's hard to fault these kits as every wire is clearly labeled and the instructions are superb. There's also forum tech help if you have any questions along the way. I'd recommend you buy a proper terminal crimping tool and maybe some spare terminals as you don't get any spares. The only change I had to make[...]
My Ford 9" rear axle housing needed centring so this went down to Zane Llewellyn at Zannetec. Zane did a cracking job, very reasonably priced and also supplied a pair a strange axle shafts. Paul Mitchell over at GS Autos rebuilt the diff, Paul sadly passed away last year which was a shock, he was a great bloke who always had time to pass on knowledge. After reading an Ecklers[...]
I'm scarred for life when it comes to the paint. After much deliberation I thought I'd commissioned one of the best painters in the country to paint my 57. Despite my unswerving patience and diplomacy, three re-negotiations on price, multiple promises of completion dates he persistently failed to do anything to time frames and agreed budgets. Thinking back he only phoned me twice in all the time he had the[...]
The main body was now straight and in primer and ready for having the firewall, dash and boot area painted before going back on the frame. I'd gone through a phase of thinking I'd like the car in Turquoise. After much deliberation I plumped for red again but fancied a richer red than the "orangey" GM Matador red. After months at looking at red cars I'd narrowed it down to[...]
I finally went 100% digital yesterday when I reluctantly gave away by last stock of Agfa Record Rapid paper, fabulous stuff back in the day. I guess the enlarger now needs to go too.
Hi Folks, this one's a bit long-winded but I made a lot of mistakes on the stainless restoration early on so hope this helps someone going through the same thing. I'd read the book "How to restore metal auto trim," spurred on by the fact that it had a 57 Chevy on the front cover dripping with fabulous shiny stainless. Dull reading indeed but armed with my new found knowledge[...]
With the frame now painted in 2K satin black it was another long round trip and a trailer rental to fetch it back to London. I'd bought a 3.25 ratio Ford big bearing 9" axle from a bloke up near Santa Pod. He'd fetched around 20 of them back back from the US East coast so I had a lot to choose from at £125 each. I found the old[...]
With the frame brackets and mounts all sorted it was taken back to the paint shop to be shot blasted and painted in epoxy primer and 2K satin black, the rotisserie came in handy again. I was hoping the old doors would be OK with only minor rust in the corners, this inevitably turned out to be worse than it looked so new door skins were shipped over at crippling[...]
I'll throw in some colour pics from now on although I tend to see everything in black and white through a camera. I bought my alternator and power steering pump brackets from Alan Grove as I like how simple they are and I'm not a big fan of tons of billet. They come in bare steel though so I had to get them chromed in the UK. The valve covers[...]
The old powerglide mounts had been burned off with a torch and the frame was really butchered in the past (not by me I might add) which needed patching. I also added a steering box support bracket at the top for the Delphi 600 steering box which I'd bought way back. Just after I'd done this the new cheaper 500 series steering boxes came out! oh well. Before and after...[...]
When I bought my 57 it had a 1967 350 HP small journal 327 and big valve fuelie heads. I'd researched the original GM cam and high compression pistons and worked out what it was. It was lively enough but despite the car mostly having to plod around London I'd recently taken a shine to the 383 kits. I sold the 327 which went a long way to building a[...]
Once the strength was back in the body it was bolted up to the rotisserie, this was made using some plans I found here: credit to www.57rustbucket.com John's website and 57 restoration was an inspiration and cracking reference for anyone attempting a tri-five restoration. Not sure what happened to John at 57rustbucket as his 57 build just stopped. Not for the feint hearted, that's a lot of money dangling upside down.[...]
Once the bulk of the welding was done at the body shop it was time to lift the body off the frame. Partially shot blasted to make the welding easier, made a note to weld up the parcel shelf speaker holes as they would look a mess in the boot. Plonked down on a trolley before going on to the rotisserie. Time to pick up the rolling chassis to take[...]
Time to shed 40 odd years of paint. What a mess. Rocker panels and the fronts of the rear fenders done. All the floor brace ends needed replacing.
After many years the UK weather had finally taken its toll. The rocker panels and all the usual spots were starting to rot and the 57 was starting to look a sorry state so it was time to sort her out. I'd now moved to North London, built a proper garage and now had a budget. Little did I know how much I'd have to stretch that budget. I had[...]
November 1989, registered, taxed, MOT'd and home in London. My garage in Manor Park East London was only big enough for my Mk11 Consul so the 57 was out on the street. I was lucky it never came to any harm. After about a year I very nearly sold it as I'd seen a stunning 58 Impala in Arizona. That deal fell through and the price of the Impala went[...]
September 1989, fed up with driving a MK11 Ford Consul I took out two bank loans and headed off to Arizona to find a 56 Chevy two door coupe. I couldn't find a 56 at the time but stumbled on this white 57 just off 22nd St in Tucson AZ. It was owned by a guy who owned an auto paint shop which was handy as I wanted a red[...]