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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys.
I did an introduction the other day so now I am going to start a build thread on my 55' Gasser wagon build. It will be slow as I am still trying to finish my 48' Willys Jeep project as well. OK, here is the story on my car. In 2004 a buddy of my Dad's heard of this car for sale and went to look at it. He mentioned it to my Dad and my Dad was really into it. He had a 55' 2dr hardtop before I was born and sold it after my sister was born to feed the family. He had always regretted it. Seeing as my dad did not have the means to buy this car or fix it up I decided I would purchase it together with him and I would do the work on it. We bought the car without a motor or tranny so I removed the 350 I had in my 65' chevy II nova and tossed it in the truck. We grabbed a saginaw 4 speed and a 55 belhousing from a couple of other buddies of my Dad. Off we went for a 6 hour drive to where the car was. My Dad's buddy already had it delivered to his autoshop business. We spent a 3 or 4 days getting it together and safe to drive. It had sat in a barn for 20 years and had not been driven since 1984. I dropped in the engine and tranny, wired it up and plumbed it. I then went through the brakes and before long she was ready to drive. Really have some great memories of doing that with my Dad and his good friend. We drove it home and had fun with it that summer and a couple of summers after that. I fixed a few things but never really had the time or money to go through the car like I had wanted to. During this time I had also met my now wife (same year) and you know how that goes. We were married a couple of years later then she went back to collage, we bought a house and then added a little girl to the mix. Needless to say cars and stuff get's back burnered very easy. My Dad ended up tight on money and wanted to sell it but I refused and ended up paying him out. It has sat stored for several years now in my in-laws barn.
Jump to 2014 and here I am. I have been a bit tight on money with my family and my big mortgage. My wife only works part time and is busy being a Mom. I work away from home and typically work two weeks on and two weeks off. I decided it was time to sell one of my too many cars to pay down some bills. (Can you really have too many?) I ended up selling my 65' Nova street/Strip car project to a buddy of mine. That is one less car to store. Being a little bummed that I would no longer have my Chevy II to run at the strip one day I had an inspiration to convert this wagon. My dad had been a huge fan of 60's drag cars and gassers. He took me to the drag races growing up and I loved the traditional door cars and gassers. The new owner of my Chevy II has hired me to do some work on it. I have been doing the wheel tubs and all new trunk floor as well as fuel system on it. Next will be the roll cage. I decided I have put some money towards the bills and I would take any money from the work I am doing and any parts I can sell off, to start gathering parts for my gasser project. I already have a restored and updated 66' Buick Skylark GS to drive and cruise with so I do not feel too bad about making this a street/strip car. My original plan was to use a 6.0L LQ4 that I have along with a turbo to make this a pro touring car. I had thoughts of an Art Morrison frame and overdrive tranny. It would have been cool but cost cubic dollars and just was not practical to really happen. My father in law picked up a 32' Ford fibreglass body and frame rails. He wants to build a traditional 32' roadster and did not want to use the BBC he had in his roadster so I traded him straight up for my built small block out of my 55'. Now having a big block to use more suited going in a drag car than long distance cruiser. I figured the car already had been built with a gasser look back in the 70's/80's anyway so why not work with it? The seats and door panels are done in a square tuft style and the front bumper is missing. The body is solid and needs very little bodywork. I will leave it black and just fix the body as needed one section at a time.
My Dad is really jazzed about the project and I hope to still involve him somehow. I have decided to give the car a name and letter it up as a nostalgia race car. My Wife's grandfather had a gas station back in the day. Her Dad worked for him as a mechanic in the shop as a young man and was the performance tuner there. We think we will "sponsor" the car by her grandfathers business from back in the day "Bill's Gulf Service". Might use her Dad's name as "tuned by" person and maybe my Dad's name as the driver. Because it was a gas station we have decided to call it "Gassed Up" I wish I would have met her grandfather as I am told he was a neat guy. This will be a good tribute to him. It might take me 10 years to get this done but I don't sell things often and I don't give up. I will fit this in with my limited family time and money one way or another. Hopefully I can include my kids along the way too. Hope to share some discussions with you on the whole thing.
Cheers.
Greg

Here are some pictures of it when I was still driving it a few years back. I have already removed the hideously ugly 55' pontiac trim.







 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The plan right now.

Front Suspension.
I have picked up an I beam axle from a 62' Ford F100. It had had a recent king pin rebuild and leafs springs added to the truck before the owner had stripped it off for a mustang II front end. It should work great. I will be lopping the front frame off and making a new subframe with rectangular tubing. I will put together a cross steer setup. I have started a disk brake conversion for the front axle that I will post later.



Rear Suspension and Axle
The car already has a 12 bolt axle from a Chevelle installed so I am going to plan on running with it for now. I had been told it was a 3.23:1 gear but I suspect more like 3.55:1 from when I drove it. It was a factory posi. I will pull the cover and check the ratio one day. I do have a 65' mustang 9" available as well but would need gears, posi carrier, axles and brakes to make it work. It has 28 spline axles. It is narrow but will likely be left for a later upgrade at best as it would cost bucks to put together. I think I will move the leaf springs under the frame and either make a floater axle kit and ladder bars or go with Cal trac bars for traction. I will see how that plays out. The chevelle rear brakes will work fine as is.

Body
The car has a solid body that will need minimal work. I will need to weld up the holes from the ugly Pontiac side trim that was on it. I will remove the bird from the hood and smooth that out. I think I will leave it bumperless in the front and will not hesitate to cut inner fenders for fenderwell headers, hood for a tunnel ram and rear wheel wells for radiused openings and large tires. I will make decisions and implement those mods as I go depending what is needed to make things work and get the look I am in search of. I will leave the car black, possibly satin black and then letter it up as a nostalgia race car. Only rust repair I know of right now is the hat sections underneath the body from body mount to rocker panels. I will fix that and whatever else shows it's ugly head.

Interior
I will pretty much leave it alone other than maybe new carpet and windlace. It also needs new door seals all around. I will also likely add a roll bar and for sure some seat belts. I would also like to redo the cargo floor in the back.



Engine/Transmission

I have a low mile (about 10,000 mile) 489 cube Gen 5 stroker 454 engine that I have traded my small block for with my Father in-law. I will be removing the peanut port heads and truck camshaft. I have worked out the compression from the original build sheet just changing the combustion chamber size to my new heads and it should be about 10.18:1 compression. When I sold my 65' Nova I negotiated a set of 088 rectangular port iron GM heads with the deal. I have already stripped and started porting those. I also have a Engle 670/670" lift cam 304*/304* solid roller cam to go with the heads. Will look for a tunnel ram or maybe the edelbrock performer RPM air gap dual 4 intake. Will be going with fenderwell headers for sure. I have a lakewood bellhousing and Ford toploader to go behind that. I suspect this will be impressively quick but might not be really streetable for long trips. Should be fun for a saturday night cruise in though. My only race plans would maybe be the Nostalgia drag weekend at my local track and maybe a trip or two to the Friday night street legal drags. I will post some engine buildup when I get to it.

Tires/Wheels
I have some old 15x4" Cragar SS wheels with 165 VW radials for the front and will use the current 15x8" Corvette Rallys in the back with a set of Hoosier 29x9x15" tires on the back for now. Will likely put some pie crust slicks on when it is actually drivable. I think think that will give me the look I want.




Here are some examples of my inspiration.




Well, what do you think? Am I crazy? My Dad and most of his buddies love the idea. Only 1 is not happy. He is the one that found the car for us and helped us originally put it together. He says the car is too nice to make a gasser out of. I don't much care what he thinks. It is mine. I would have preferred he was happy for me but whatever. I am sure he will be impressed when he sees it done. I am an aircraft mechanic and I like to do nice work. It will turn out well. I am looking forward to the conversations. I will post what I have been working on so far when I get the chance.
Cheers.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Front Axle

I scrounged Craigslist and spotted a F100 Axle that a guy had pulled from his 61' F100 unibody. He had removed his axle to install a mustang II suspension. He had said that the previous owner had done a basic restoration on the truck not many years ago before he picked it up. He was told that the springs were fairly new and the king pins and brakes were quite recent. Everything looked solid and I paid him $200. Sure enough the brakes were near new and the kingpins seem perfect. I had no intensions of running the drum brakes though. The specs for the 61' through 64' F100 axle were 53.5" Kingpin to Kingpin with a 32.25" spring centre to spring centre. I measured the wheel flange to wheel flange as best I can and it was pretty much 61.5". Just what I was looking for. With my plan on running skinny Cragars and 165R15s I wanted a wide axle to keep the wheels out near the outside of the wheel well. I am not a big fan of the narrow track width and skinny wheels. My Axle being a 61'F100 seemed like it might be a little difficult to come up with a disk brake setup. I found that speedway had a calliper bracket to hold GM Metric Callipers but it was supposed to work with later 1970s F150 rotors with integrated hub. I figured the easiest thing to do was to fit a GM rotor over the F100 hub and re-drill the bolt pattern. After going through the Rock auto catalog I came up with a couple of options. I ended up going with the rear rotor from a 80' Trans Am.http://http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=1279408&cc=1250705 I also picked up the lug studs for the same application to go with them. I pulled the hubs and drum brakes off my axle. (the previous owner had no cotter pins on the hub nut. Yikes!) I then stopped by to visit my good buddy and we did some machining on the lathe. First we welded up the old lug stud holes then we chucked the hub in the lathe and machined the hub register down to the 2.79" trans am rotor register and then turned the OD down so the Rotor hat would fit over the hub.

Before

After


With Rotor

After talking with my father in law about my plans and what rotor I had used he mentioned he had a complete rear disk brake kit removed from an 81' trans am sitting in his stash of parts (he even had rotors but I had already bought new) So he gave me the calliper brackets and a second set of rotors. I am going to modify the calliper bracket to bolt to the F100 spindle then use front GM metric callipers. I plan on modifying the calliper brackets and sorting that out next time I am home. Hopefully my plan will work and my post might help someone else as I could not find much info on such a swap.
Cheers.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Over the summer I had been trying to find a bargain priced tunnel ram for my engine. I ended up with a single 4 barrel Offenhauser 360 turbo thrust power port intake for $100. Bummer that it is only a single 4 but I am going to mill the top off of it and convert it to dual 4. I have never been a fan of single 4 tunnel rams and I do not have a single carb large enough for my application. I am away working again so I hope to try and make some calliper brackets next time I am home. Here is a picture of my intake.



I think this intake should perform reasonably well for my street strip application. I will collect some of my info and do a post on my engine plans here shortly.
Cheers.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Engine Plans

So here is what I have and what I plan to do with it. I traded the current small block 350 that is in this car to my father in-law for his 32' Ford Build. It is a stout little motor that powered this car well but my father in-law really wants a small block. It had ported Camel hump heads with a solid LT1 cam and 10.5:1 pistons. It was a good trade for his big block and I have nowhere near the money tied up in it as he had with his big block. He built the big block for his 92' chevy dually for towing. It performed well for him but he wanted more and gave up on towing with a Big block. He pulled the motor and dropped in a cheap 454 runner then sold the truck and bought a cummins Dodge. Probably a good decision in the end and now I have ended up with that great engine. I will give it a new life of drag race torture instead of towing torture. This engine has a Scat stoker Crank and Rod kit with forged Keith Black pistons that have a 20cc dome. It was all nicely machined and assembled but a reputable shop here in our area. It had been balanced as well. He ported the stock small oval heads and a small high torque cam in it. It had been calculated at 9.65:1 compression. I will be removing the cam and lifters as well as the heads. I have a set of 088 GenV rectangular port heads that I had received to sweeten the deal that I made selling my 65' Nova. They were on a 502 in a jet boat and had about 50 hours on them. With their 118cc chamber I have calculated my compression at 10.18:1 compression. I picked up a used Engle solid roller cam. It had just over 200 miles on it. It is specked at 670/670" lift, 304*/304* advertised duration and 264*/264* @ .050. with 110 Lobe centre. The cam came with the matching recommended valve springs and roller lifters. I think that should give it a nice rough idle and give me in the 600hp range. Add to that my recent purchase of that Offy tunnel ram and a set of fenderwell headers it should be fun. I still need to find a distributor and need to pick up a thrust button for the cam and timing cover that can handle a thrust load. I would like to get the gaskets and have the engine assembled over the winter.
I spent a bunch of my spare time porting the heads over the summer. I have some pretty good time to kill sometimes while I am away at work. I am on a forest fire fighting contract in the summer and am a mechanic on a Bell Huey helicopter. We can be busy but sometimes sit for a week in the rain. It is always good to have projects to keep us sane so I usually bring something. I was tinkering away on these heads for a few weeks. I did not do much other than clean up the combustion chambers with some smoothing and unshrouding of the valves. I smoothed out the bowls under the valves and took the step out of the short side radius. For the intake runners, just squared up the sides of the ports and marked any alignment mismatch so there was a smooth entry. I will not open up the intake manifold ports to match as the head intake runners are overly large and I do not need any more runner volume. If anything I should be epoxying the runners up. I dropped the heads off for a fresh valve and seat grinding. They turned out great. I had a two angle cut on the valves and 3 angle cut on the seats. I ended up getting the valve guides trimmed down for a high lift cam and positive valve seats. I had the heads planed for a good sealing surface and to gain back a little compression from the chamber cleaning I did. I installed the springs that came with my cam and some brand new tool steel keepers. I definitely have put a few hours in on them. Glad I could do it all on my work standby time. Nice to collect wages and still work on your stuff. LOL. I think the heads will perform well for the budget I have. It is not really easy to see but here are some pictured of my heads.


I have also cleaned up the port misalignment between the upper and lower plenum of the tunnel ram.



Fun stuff. I love working on engines. I can't wait to hear this one. I might have to put together a run stand so I can hear it out of the car first. :)
Cheers.
Greg
 

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Great build, and I like how well you've planned it out also! It always helps to have a plan done, and small details can always be refined from there. The tunnel ram is a good one, even with a single carb. But considering the engine and cam you've chosen, I think your idea to go dual carbs is a good one, as that BBC and big cam will appreciate the extra gas and air needed to feed it!
Thanks for starting this build thread!
 

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bloody hell - that's a very impressive written and photographic start to a project build!
I'm already in awe of you!
you certainly have a concise build plan and are focused way more then me :)
this is going to be fun to follow.


mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So now my most recent progress. I found another frame on Craigslist. This guy had this frame thrown in with a 55' he bought. It had been sand blasted and painted a lovely purple and was used on a car in the past. It is really good shape. I dragged it home on my dirt bike trailer for $300. I have actually been looking for a frame for a few years but just never could find a reasonable deal. This one will work great.



I am going to buck the front off of it and make a rectangular tubing forward frame. I will be able to pre-fab the whole chassis and still leave the car assembled. It will be nice to do it that way. Once I am done building it I can just grab my sander and give it a quick clean up and paint. No sand blasting to do. Now I have to come up with a plan for the rear suspension. I am kind of thinking of leaf springs under the frame with a floating axle mount and long ladder bars. I will have to do some thinking. I need to find some nice long leafs on craigslist or at the pick a part. I am thinking jeep cherokee or maybe astro van. There are dozens of them in the pick a part.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
A couple of weeks back I picked up a set of 15x8.5 with 3.5" Backspacing Aluminum slot mags for the back end. They were pretty rough but cheap. They are Superior "superdrags" They had pretty bad curb rash on the outside rim lip. Yesterday I went by my buddy's shop and we chucked them on the lathe and cleaned them up. They look pretty good now. I am going to clean them up some more and paint them. I see some guys paint them up in a gold finish to look like the mag wheels with the dow coating on them and I see others paint them a greyish colour to look like oxidized Mag wheel. I could polish them but they have some pretty deep gouges in them and then I would have to maintain them. I think the right paint finish will look great. I like the price so far at $40. Here they are before.



Here is how it looks after a couple passes on the lathe.



Some guys say they have had good results with Titanium grey or Cast Iron finish engine paints. I am going to look for some samples and pick a colour. I will post my finished results when I get them done.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
So far I have just been working on little side projects till I get all my parts ready to start on the chassis build. One of the little projects was modifying my Offenhauser tunnel ram into a dual 4 barrel version. First I milled the top of it off.


I then took a piece of 1/4" aluminum plate and trimmed it to fit the top.



I then bonded the plate to the top with some aviation Hy-sol hi temp structural adhesive along with a few aviation counter sunk screws to hold it down while it dried. After that I added some 4 hole carb spacers for my carb flanges. I put heli-coils in for the carb studs.



I think it is turning out pretty good. I still need to decide how to clean it up a bit better. I don't really want to polish it again as the glue and different top will not turn out great. Might just clean it up and finish it in aluminum coloured paint. Hope it performs well. I don't see any reason why it won't. I will try to share some more stuff soon.
Cheers.
Greg
 

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The intake looks great! Good idea to use the carb spacers to make up the mounting bases. You might have an issue with engine mounting, and carb angles with the perfectly flat bases. Most intakes have an angle built into them to allow for the 3-4 degrees of down angle on mounting the engine. Might have to adjust the float levels slightly lower with a flat mounting surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The intake looks great! Good idea to use the carb spacers to make up the mounting bases. You might have an issue with engine mounting, and carb angles with the perfectly flat bases. Most intakes have an angle built into them to allow for the 3-4 degrees of down angle on mounting the engine. Might have to adjust the float levels slightly lower with a flat mounting surface.
Yea, I had thought of the angle issue. I thought I would see what it looks like installed then consider if I need to do anything about it. I figured with side hung floats on Edelbrock AFB carbs it would be less of an issue. Worst case I will angle mill the carb spacers down to the 3 degrees. I thought I would start with the easy route first and see how it goes.
Greg
 

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Angle cuts will help, but then the carb studs will be at a different angle, so might create a misalignment of the carb and manifold. Might have to also open up the holes in the carbs also, to ensure they sit aligned with the intake. Or open up the 4 hole top to be one open plenum, where it wont matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It has been a while but I have managed to get a little work done on my project. I worked on my disk brake conversion for my F100 axle. I ended up mounting up the rotors and putting the hubs on the spindles. I then made a template for the calliper bracket out of some 1/8" plate steel so it was easy to work with.




I gave the template to my wife's cousin as he has a pattern burning business. He burned me up two plates out of 3/8" plate.



Now i just need to do some final cleanup and drill the holes and I will soon have my disk brake calliper brackets.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The only problem I have come up and I found when I mounted up the callipers was that there is a bit of runout on the rotors. One was about .008" and the other was about .030" runout. I ended up putting the hub with the higher runout in the lathe and tried to true it up a bit better. I still ended up with .008" or .009" runout. The hubs have some hard spots in them and just don't want to cut clean. I decided that I would attach the rotors to the hub and just take the whole hub/rotor assembly to the brake shop and get them to do a clean up pass with them assembled. I drilled and tapped the hubs then counter sunk the rotor holes so I could attach the root to the hub with some 1/4" counter sunk screws. I just need to drop them off at the brake shop for a clean up now. Bummer to have to do the extra step but I do not want pulsing brakes. This should solve the problem.
Greg

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It has been a while since I have posted any progress. It has been tough getting a whole lot done the last couple of months. I did get a project out of my hair that will let me get more focused on my car. I had a 65' chevy II that I sold to a friend. It took me most of a year to do a bunch of work on it for him. I did a complete truck floor and wheel tubs along with a steel firewall where the back seat was. I also did a fuel tank for it, bucket seat brackets and a roll bar so he can of some racing at the track. He finally picked it up and took it away so now I have some more room. That work also gave me some cash infusion to pay for more parts for my 55'. Having the Chevy II gone has allowed me to pull the 55' out from the back of the barn and put it out in the open shop where I can do something with it. It was nice to get it out in the open and wash the 6 years of dust off. So far I haven't done any ripping and tearing on the car and I have still been working on small pieces that I can take out with me on the job to tinker with while I am on stand by. It has been hard to find the time while I am out working as we have been having quite a busy fire season right from the get go. I have been busy keeping the helicopter running or chasing it down as we have been moved from town to town. I start to feel like a gypsy packing up and moving to work the next fire. I will do a couple of more posts with some pictures of my little achievements over the last few weeks.
Cheers.
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Now for accomplishments on the car. I mentioned that I had a whole bunch of pieces burned for when I build my ladder bars. I did find the time to drill all those pieces and I just need to start some sub assembly of the axle floaters. I also picked up the rod ends and thread inserts for them so that is a project I can get into over the next year here. I also finished up my disk brake calliper brackets.and just need to paint them up. I did some cleaning up of my axle and was hoping to drill it but never managed to get the time yet.



I also cleaned up and painted my Edelbrock rocker covers. I did them in black wrinkle paint and they turned our awesome. Only downside is I just picked up a brand new Crane stud girdle set off Craigslist a coupe of weeks back. It was a screaming deal at $100 cash. It hadn't even been unpacked from the plastic in the box. They will work great to help hold my valve train together with the big roller cam and stiff springs I have. The downside is my valve covers are not tall enough. I made a template and am having my friend burn me some 1" valve cover spacers to clear them. Even with the spacer I will need to cut out the breather baffles inside the Edelbrock valve covers. I might make some different ones to keep the oil out of the breather but I will see. I am thinking the stud girdle might be all the baffle I need in there. I will post some pictures of that when I sort it out. For now here is how the Valve covers turned out. I think they look awesome.



I made up my steering arm to connect the drag link to the axle as well. I cut and spliced the factory arm to make one. I had my professional welder buddy Tig weld it together and it looks totally factory. I just hope the shape works out OK as I am a long way from mock up of that part. The way I have it pictured in my head it should work out. LOL.



I picked up a set of Patriot BBC fender well headers for my car. I decided they had to be white. I scuffed them up and gave them a few coats of VHT flame proof header paint. They look bitchin' but I am sure they will be a pain in the ass. Hands have to be spotless clean to touch them.



They are all little steps that are not direct to the main project but it is progress. I just do the things that I can find time to do or are practical to do at this time.
Greg
 

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Just got a chance to look through your thread. Really great work, and it seems to be a real solid car to start with. I really love the body style, hard to go wrong with a 55 Chevy wagon. Keep up the excellent work
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks guys. I know it is slow and scattered progress but I am trying. It is tough to get the time to do much with busy work and a young family, not to mention lack of funding. I am just working on what odds and ends I can find time to deal with. I am posting what details I can to keep the thread moving. It should get more interesting when I finally start frame and suspension fabrication. Hopefully I can do some of that over the winter, if not then going into next spring and summer. My father in law just built a 4' x 10' heavy duty frame table that can be levelled and whatnot. He has frame work to do for his 56' Ford Victoria gasser and he is also building a 32' Ford roadster. I plan to use that table for my 55' frame when I get a chance. I will do a thread on his 56' Ford for him when he gets to it. He is not really too computer literate.
Greg
 
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