RichardSIA New Reader
7/3/16 2:16 a.m.

As listed in my garage I am doing an El Camino a bit differently than any other I am aware of. Not a dragster or a "Pro-Street", maybe a Resto-Mod with high speed travel and handling the main focus while retaining a classic 70's look.

Made some actual progress on the El Camino JAG IRS install! Ideal had to yield to practical in a couple of respects.

Lowered rear ride height l.00" to only 8" to the frame bottom just ahead of the kick-up. GOOD. Lowers center of gravity for better handling. Helps to get my engine to sit normally for it's designed angle. Brings the lower trailing arms for bracing the bottom of the diff into an almost strait line horizontally. Brought my main diff mount up on the frame rails. BAD. Increases the bend I need for the upper forward reaching diff mount reinforcements. Reduced compression travel to only 3", maybe 3.5"

Here is an actual mock-up of my recent progress. Main mount will be bushed at the ends. Shock mounts and their spreaders are tacked in place. Mounting points for the forward facing upper reinforcement are tacked in. Lots of clearance for brake components. Plan is adjustable shocks on the front and air shocks to level the ride when I have a load in the back. The round tube behind the diff is a mock-up for possible reinforcement of the rear lower diff. 30* black bars are my fixed points for shock simulation at ride height.

I have to bend tube for the forward reinforcement. Despite my desire for light weight I seem to be overbuilding this. I hope the added weight at least helps to balance me out front to rear.

NordicSaab Reader
7/3/16 5:58 a.m.

In board brakes!!!

very cool. pictures of the rest of the car?

RichardSIA New Reader
7/3/16 2:09 p.m.

"Rest of the car" is in pieces with large chunks of the body skin missing. Want to complete the chassis before putting the body on new mounts. Want it on the new chassis before final fitting of rust repair panels. Genuine frame-up build.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
7/3/16 2:13 p.m.

I'm glad you made it over here. Remember seeing some posts about this project on another forum.

RichardSIA New Reader
7/16/16 6:51 p.m.

Good thing dismantling is the easy part! Pulled my spare IRS to pieces today. LCA mounts to the diff appear to measure at about 11* pinion angle so I must not be measuring them correctly. The good news is that they are only drilled once, so all I have to do is reverse them and drill as I like for the correct pinion angle.

The 3:31 diff appears to be in good shape, just wish it was a power-lock. Someone had been at this rear before, what we used to call a "Hammer mechanic". So I have to replace my inside pivot pins. Do shop around, I found the same part at prices ranging from $18.00 to $55.00 each. At $55.00 each I would have made them on my lathe, at $18.00 I will probably just buy them. Also have to buy bearings and seals for the rebuild. Prices on those are pretty consistent and it's worth noting that EACH SIDE takes four needle bearing sets, so the total for both sides is EIGHT, not four as might be assumed. Prices for these parts appear pretty consistent across vendors. Going for the best U-joints I can find, whichever those may be.

Metal bits are going to be boring old black, might end up silver but I tend to think of the suspension as not being a visible part and I've never seen anyone keep a chrome one polished up properly for very long.

Still debating LCA reinforcement, I'm not going drag racing and it does look like I will have a low mount Watts Link.

Main question now becomes do I rebuild the 350 I have (Fairly cheap, more torque but lower RPM) or finish the hot screamer 327 build for fewer shifts on the twisty roads but less practical for long trips? I really need an overdrive trans.

TheEnd New Reader
7/16/16 7:49 p.m.

Sweet. I have a 70 El Camino and I'm thinking about going irs as well.

I say go ahead with the 327 and add a 5 speed.

RichardSIA New Reader
9/17/16 7:29 p.m.

Got the ex-Nova SS (1970) 350 apart. Still has cross-hatch in the cylinders, has to have been "Rebuilt", but not by anyone who had a real clue (Stock heads with NO port work).

Surprised to find it's a 4-bolt block! Even better, looks like I can rebore for my 327 .040 pistons. Any point to trying to preserve the original block stamping? Not original to a '68 El Camino but does carry the desired flavor of a car modded in the 70's via engine swap? Now I know why they call them "Pink" rods. Pistons appear to be cast TRW (Boo, Hiss!) with no visible oversize marking. Cam is an Elgin E-901-P copy of the solid lifter 302 Z28. (GM #3849346) I looked up the iron heads, 64cc and good for their day. This engine had a single plane intake when I got it, I switched to a performer RPM but was not happy with it either. Now that I know the cam I understand the SP manifold and why the automatic was so bad even after changing the TC. Cam looks new, I think I may reuse it. ( And I'm ¢heap!) Have a set of Browfield aluminum heads to go on it. Also a Victor Jr. intake matched to the heads. So I think it should be pretty healthy but a bit high spirited when done.

I sold the TH400 which did NOT work with this cam. Putting in a Muncie and 3.54 rear. Cannot really go to lower gears as it's to be a street car. I will be looking for ways to shave some weight. Muncie is at least 50# lighter than the TH400, going to an aluminum flywheel too.

My main engine question now becomes weather or not I can just run this cam or is there a newer grind with clear advantages really worth the extra $$? The whole build is intended to be a bit vintage, so this cam appeals to me.

Last question for today, who makes some lighter lifters at a good price?

bentwrench Dork
9/18/16 8:07 a.m.

Lowering a suspension below its designed ride height negatively alters the roll center.

It would make more sense to raise it for parking bumper clearance....

RichardSIA New Reader
9/18/16 1:20 p.m.

The TH400 went away yesterday, so I'm now fully committed to a manual trans.

Determined that the 350 crank I have is cast. Also looked up what I have into the 327 lower end part$.

After spending all that I don't know why I even considered keeping the 350!

Still have to make a final cam decision. Shooting for 400+ HP which seems fairly easy with the Brownfield (Early AFR)heads, Eagle crank and rods, KB pistons I have so far.

Frustrating that I need to delay assembling the engine as the body and chassis are not ready.

RichardSIA New Reader
9/24/16 6:43 p.m.

Progress keeps being interrupted, but today I scored a Gear Vendors overdrive for only $500.00! Looks mint but of course has the wrong adapter set. Correct set will be about $900.00, so not the fantastic deal it would have been with a Muncie adapter. I like this over a T56 or such as it keeps the vintage Muncie in place and does not require radical mods to my floor. Plus I get to spend the money a little at a time instead of needing a couple of grand all at once.

RichardSIA New Reader
3/7/19 12:28 p.m.

May be time for an update?

Basic intent is a '68 El Camino that would be "Pro-Street" if I could stand the looks of modern wheels and an LS engine.

So I guess this is just a "Resto-Mod" with 15" wheels and a .040" over 327 and Muncie/GV overdrive.

Not a lot of physical progress lately as I am not immune to the usual "Life" getting in the way issues. Closed my old business, moved house, smaller shop, etc. But I have bought a few parts, solidified "The plan", and am about to have some $$ to work with so have been shopping and sending some parts/cores out for the Pro's to do.

Since an aluminum block is unobtanium for any sane price I decided that a fiberglass front clip would be the best way to remove weight from the front of the EC. And about half the price too!

I will be ordering from soon as they are the only company I could find that sell a stock appearing fiberglass nose. Plan is to make it a tilt front so I can work on the engine and suspension much easier like my Triumph GT6.

Still cannot just write blank checks for everything I want, so I am concentrating on the "Big Ticket" items such as the fiberglass front clip, pistons, cam/lifters, Brownfield aluminum heads rebuild, GV Overdrive adapter, and rear 4.27 Powerloc Jag diff build.
Still much more than I "Should" be spending but if I continue to wait for "The right time" none of it will ever happen.
Most of the rest of this build will not need items costing over $500 each so should be manageable via regular funding.

The good part of having to wait on the funding is that it allowed my lust to cool a bit so I do not get too carried away and go broke this week.
Need to keep some reserve funds and wait on some of the other upgrades such as distributor-less ignition and R&P steering.

Updated engine recipe, most of which I already have, some items I am about to buy*.

"010" 4-bolt 350 block, 4.040" bore.
Eagle 3.25" stroke crank and 5.7" rods.
Forged JE Pistons #147752 with .220" removed for -5.5cc and just under 11-1 compression*.
Brownfield aluminum heads with 64cc chambers, reputed to be the same as early AFR. Currently at "Heads by Rick" in 'Vegas.
Intake is 4x44 IDF Weber individual runner setup.

Cam* is Crower Pro-Street level 4, #00323. 3000-6900 rpm basic operating range, .528/.545 valve  lift on 114 degree lobe center.
Flywheel is a Hays 20-130 American made 14 Lb. aluminum, 68T.
If the HP calculator I used is any good this engine should make about 400 HP+- near the 7K RPM limit I've set for it.

Gear Vendors adapter core has been received, now just need $750.00 for the Muncie adapter*.
Heads arrived at "Heads by Rick" so in a few days I should know flow numbers.
Small progress is still better than none. Looking forward to actually turning wrenches soon. 

Probably my last American car build so I'm not holding back on it, less than practical as a daily driver but it WILL be driven as often as possible.

Silver State Challenge and Virginia City Hill-Climb are part of the goal.



RichardSIA New Reader
3/7/19 12:44 p.m.
bentwrench said:

Lowering a suspension below its designed ride height negatively alters the roll center.

It would make more sense to raise it for parking bumper clearance....

Not an issue as I'm MOUNTING the suspension at the height I need rather than mess with the geometry.

RichardSIA Reader
4/20/19 12:02 p.m.

Time for an update.

Basically sold my former business, cashed out the remaining inventory and may now have a couple of hours a day for myself!

Putting too much of the proceeds into the El Camino but feel I have to do the big ticket items while I can pay for them.

So the the fiberglass front end is ordered, it will be converted to a tilt front as my XKE was.

Custom JE forged 10.75-1 pistons are paid for.

Brownfield aluminum heads are at 'Heads By Rick' being rebuilt and flowed.

Muncie M20 to Gear Vendors overdrive adapter is ordered.

Jag IRS center will ship to Hamilton Automotive for a 3.92 gear set and rebuild of the Power-Loc diff on Monday.

Still lots more to do and to buy but remaining items will be under $500 each so not such intimidating obstacles.

I've also selected my cam, Milodon road-race oil pan, etc. but will wait a while to buy them.

For now I'm working on making space in my too small 1200' shop.

Please search on my name for a lot of cars, parts, and tools listed for sale.

RichardSIA Reader
5/10/19 11:57 p.m.

Got the M20 and GV back today.

Was supposed to just be a "freshen"of the Muncie and install the OD.

Turned into a full rebuild of the trans with a new second gear, synchros, etc.

AngryCorvair MegaDork
5/11/19 6:59 a.m.

This thread needs more pictures!

TheRX7Project Reader
5/11/19 8:24 a.m.

Gotta love "project creep"! MOAR PICS

RichardSIA Reader
5/11/19 10:52 p.m.

New mini-starter and Hurst shifter with linkage from the sale table at Summit Racing.

Just over $200.00, less than half of retail.

Paid for with funds recouped from the sale of the stock front sheet-metal I'm replacing with fiberglass.

RichardSIA Reader
5/21/19 2:33 a.m.

An update, with pics.

Got the GV fully mounted to the M20 trans.

Makes a pretty long setup, no wonder some users worry about drive-line angles.

Not an issue with my Jag IRS setup.

Hurst shifter from Summit fits fine but the "Bargain table" linkage they included is for a 73-77 Camaro.

I have another set of linkage, somewhere, time to dig it out.

Also got my new full custom 10.75-1 JE forged pistons today.

They cost more than most of the cars I've ever bought!


preach New Reader
5/22/19 11:32 p.m.
RichardSIA Reader
5/31/19 9:24 p.m.

Progress, very slow progress.

HBR completed rebuilding my Brownfield heads with the Beehive spring upgrade.

Also flowed a set of ports so I will know what I have.

Next week I take my block and JE pistons to the machine shop to see if the block needs additional honing for the forged pistons.

frenchyd UberDork
5/31/19 10:07 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

Needle bearings are a unneeded complication. Just make brass bushings.( with grease paths ground into them)  They will last many times longer and take next to no time to machine.  

Towards the end I just used aluminum and it worked fine.  

The problem with needle bearings is only one or at most two take the vast majority of the load. Since the arch the suspension moves in is so limited the load is concentrated on a very small area and wear is rapid even if heavily greased

RichardSIA Reader
8/24/19 11:30 p.m.

Got the final tab on my custom built Jag IRS center section.
Over $3K with shipping both ways!  
Should be back in my hands at the end of next week.
Never planned to spend so much but this is what happens when you decide not to limit yourself for what is probably your last personal hot-rod build. 
Could not have done it all at once, gathered the parts slowly, then had the work done.
Completely rebuilt Jag IRS with Power-Loc, 3.90 gears, new rotors, Wilwood calipers, parking brake, and a custom tie-plate on the bottom.
Still need to do the hubs and carriers. 

So I officially have much more into the rear than I paid for the car which is on track to be the most expensive U.S. car build I have ever done! 

Misplaced my camera, pice when I find it.

frenchyd UberDork
8/25/19 12:06 a.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

the rear suspension axles need to be level for proper geometry. You’ll notice the links from the diff to the hubs go downhill from the center to the hubs.  You can shim the mounts to get proper camber. Because I ran stiff springs on the race car, I found it best to have 0 camber at stock tide height.  I’ll look up the suspension geometry for the sedan for you if you want. 

When the rear end squats under hard acceleration the rubber bushings will help keep the camber near 0 without a massive change in toe.  ( you have to do some tricks to achieve the same thing on a race car where the whole rear end is solidly mounted).  

Those rubber bushings are both a blessing and a curse.  For example as you go over railroad tracks or on particularly bumpy roads there is a little bit of rear end steer going on.  Nowhere near as bad as the stock El Camino/Chevy rear end, but the later IRS used after about 1990  with the outboard brakes and a single shock per side, is better. 


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