Project Pile House

    Watch as Matt puts this Rusty woods-find back on the road. This will not be your traditional build!

    • How to Install an Aftermarket Shifter on a Chevy V8 and TH350.

      When building Project Pile House I've pretty much discarded all of the original mechanics and I've been building from the ground up. I've already installed a SBC (small block Chevy V8) engine and a TH350 automatic transmission in the truck. Next I needed to install a universal shifter that would work with the changes I've made and look "right".  Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • Project Pile House Late Summer Update

      Last time I checked in on Project Pile House I had just gotten done welding floor pans in and rebuilding the rotten door jambs. Since then I've been really busy and I have been slacking on my updates here. I have been posting regular updates on Instagram if you want to follow along feel free to check the #pilehouse tag or view the pics on your desktop HERE.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • Early Summer Project Pile House Update.

      With the floor pans made up I decided to move outwards and tackle the rust in the door openings. The truck door sill on the drivers side was rotted away and the front of the door opening/jamb was rotted pretty bad. In fact the lower portion was almost non existent.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • Building A Custom Steering Column for Project Pile House

      Now that the custom firewall was welded into Pile House I could work on making the truck finally steer from inside the cab. This is one big step to making Pile House an actual vehicle rather than a piece of "garage art".

      Packard Steering Column Housing

      Pile House (like many hot rod and customs) is a collection of all sorts of parts. This means that there wasn't going to be a steering column that would be a bolt-in option. One of my favorite things about custom cars and trucks is that there are no real rules and you can use whatever you have the imagination, tools, and skills to make fit. I want to keep the truck looking "old" even though it is sitting on a modern Chevy S-10 chassis so I chose to mix some vintage parts with some universal parts from Speedway Motors. I covered the supplies I got in one of our last posts. The crown jewel for this part of the project is the unique late 40's Packard Column housing that is a flattened oval shape.

      I started by taking the bottom half of the S10 steering joint and removing the rag joint and splined portion that mates to the steering box. I will be utilizing the modern S10 power steering so I decided to keep the steering box as well. After I got the rag and slip joint removed I went to my local auto parts store in the "Help!" aisle and got a rag joint repair kit. These little kits are less than $20 and will get rid of the slop in your steering when using this style GM steering damper. I opted to use grade 8 hardware instead of what came with the kit, but otherwise it is just a matter of drilling or grinding the heads off of the studs and reinstalling the new rag joint.

      Once I had the joint rebuilt I slipped it onto the Speedway column shaft and tack welded it in place with the MIG 175.

      I then marked out the location where the column would go through the new firewall and I used our new prototype Eastwood Hole Saws to make a hole just a little larger than the opening for the column support bearing. I want a clean firewall so I opted to stich weld the column support behind the firewall.

      Once the column was run through the firewall I had to use the Speedway Motors double jointed steering knuckle to get it to match the position of the original steering column under the dash. I again opted to put this behind the firewall under the dash to keep the clutter out of the engine bay. I chose to drill holes with the Eastwood Drill Bit Index Set in the ends of the knuckle to install bolts through the column so it could be split for maintenance. This is especially important since the steering column goes through the V8S10 headers.

      With the column in place and cut to length, I installed it in the Packard housing. I then temporarily tack welded the original steering wheel to the column so I could set the angle of the wheel and column when sitting in the truck. This was a good excuse for me to sit in it and make engine noises and pretend to shift.. admit it, we all do it in our projects at least once!

      Once I found a comfortable angle for the column I used the Eastwood Adjustable Profile Gauges to make a paper template to match the shape of the Packard housing. I wanted to clamp the column from underneath and reuse the original mounting holes under the dash like the original column used. I made up the box and used the Eastwood TIG 200 to weld it all together. I drilled some holes in the pieces to match the ones in the dash already and ran some hardware up through my new column clamp. The result is a sturdy column and Project Pile House steers from inside! I'll be making the final modifications to the column when my steering wheel shows up from ebay. I ended up going with a period correct wheel from another make, it should look pretty cool when mated up to my new column.

      Stay tuned I'm moving onto making new floors, kick panels, and repairing more rust. We're still waging war on the rusty demons this truck has!


        Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • Welding the custom firewall and making a custom transmission tunnel

      In the last update I had finally made the firewall a 3 dimensional part and I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel for this part of the project. Since then I've decided it would be a good time to tackle the first part of the transmission tunnel. I made it a bit tough on myself with how I "framed" the engine with the set back in the firewall. It looks great mounted up, but the shape was much different than what the transmission tunnel or hump needed to be. It took me a lot of head scratching, sketching, and standing around staring at the firewall to figure out how I was going to connect these parts. Below is the way that ended up working for me.

      I knew I needed some shape in the hump and I wasn't going to be happy with angular transitions. I'm also no Ron Covell, Gene Winfield, or any of the other wizards of metal shaping, so I decided to make the hump out of 3 major parts. I pulled out our Panel Beater Bag and Plastic Metal Shaping Mallets to rough-in the shape I wanted. This is a scary process if you've never done it before. Even though I've done this a few times before, I'm still a bit apprehensive when I start beating the crap out of a helpless piece of flat metal to get the "shape" (and I use that word loosely) I want. I start by drawing out a pattern in the area where I need the most shape and choose a mallet that suits the amount of shaping I need to do.

      The key is to keep your hits very close together as you work around in the pattern you've drawn. Depending on the hammer you use and the pattern you've hit the metal in, it should start curve or crown rather quickly.

      After the 3 pieces sort of resembled the shape I was going for, I moved over to our new prototype Bench Mount English Wheel (watch your June/July catalog and Emails!) and rolled the hammer marks smooth. After a few passes through the english wheel the hammer marks and irregularities quickly disappear and the panel started to take shape.

      I worked the panels a little more in the wheel until I had three pieces that would make up the transmission hump. I also made a few small transitional pieces to connect the firewall recess and the transmission hump in the corners to connect everything together and welded it all together.

      With the firewall and transmission hump all one piece I reinstalled it for the final mockup. I had one of our tech guys Ed O. help me get everything in place and make the final adjustments. You can see below that there were some raised areas in the original firewall that wrapped up over the cowl and remnants were left after cutting the old firewall out. These raised sections stuck out and didn't match up with my new, flat firewall. Ed took a set of Eastwood Aviation Metal Snips and cut on either side of the raised area. He then took a Fairmount Body Hammer and Heel Dolly to flatten out the raised area and shape it to match the new firewall.

      Once we got all of our gaps correct, I used the Eastwood MIG 175 to stitch weld the firewall in place. After the panel was welded in place I took the Angle Grinder and a 60 Grit Flap Disc and blended all of my welds.

      Now with the firewall welded in place the cab is much more solid and the engine bay is a million times cleaner. Next I need to tackle making a custom steering column and building some floors for Pilehouse. It's a great feeling putting clean metal in place of weathered, rusty metal! Thanks for watching, hopefully you can come see it in person at the Eastwood Summer Classic this July 13th!


        Click Here To Read Full Post...