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. Either way it's been a crazy summer and I've had my head down and decided to work on making the truck a drivable project rather than a garage ornament. This means I took some of my focus off of fine tuning gaps, minor dents, etc, and focusing on making the truck mechanically complete. I figure I will need to work out the bugs and I'd rather scratch primer than a nice shiny paint job working out the bugs.
I began with only the foam mock-up block and the TCI transmission installed in the truck. I was ready to get the Pace Performance SBC crate engine in the truck. I started by removing the front end of the truck, installing the TCI torque converter, ring gear, and transmission to the engine. I then hung them on the 10 Ton Engine Hoist and attempted to drop it into the truck. This is where my first problem popped up.
If you look closely in the picture above you can see that the oil pan on the engine wasn't your run of the mill SBC pan. This engine was originally meant for a circle track race car and had a deep sump oil pan that was much larger than standard. I was excited to have a nice baffled pan with extra capacity, but it wasn't meant to be. The pan wasn't playing nicely and hit the front chassis cross member. After a lot of cursing, lowering and raising the engine, and scratching my head, I admitted defeat and pulled the mess back out of the truck. I had to buy a stock oil pan and remove the fancy race pan.
Changing an oilpan on a small block isn't too bad with the engine out normally, but I had forgotten this engine was meant for a "SPEC" circle track series where everyone had the same engine and it was "sealed" with tamper-proof bolts by GM Performance. These little round head bolts have no spot for a wrench or hex key to grab. They even have mini barcodes on them that can be scanned to assure they match the engine they were manufactured for! Since I couldn't get a set of locking pliers on the small tamper-proof oil pan bolts I needed to use an old mechanics trick and weld a nut to the head of the rounded bolt. I decided to fire up the TIG200 AC/DC to fuse some nuts to the heads of the tamper-proof bolts. This allowed me to crack them loose with a wrench and move forward without damaging anything. I replaced those bolts with some OEM spec pan bolts and I was back in business with a factory oil pan.
With the engine installed the 2013 Eastwood Summer Classic was only a week away and I again changed gears (I do this a lot!) and decided to strip all of the surface rust and old paint off of the truck to so I could seal the base metal and make the truck one color. I used our large 7 Inch Stripping and Cleaning Disc Kit to remove the old paint and surface rust and leave myself with relatively clean metal on the cab and front clip. The bed of the truck unfortunately was too rough to just strip the surface rust from, so I opted to pull out the 100 Pound Media Blaster and blast the entire bed. This did the job well, but it also allowed me to discover some more hidden rot on the bed and fenders that's a bit bothersome. I may decide to tackle making a new bed and rear fenders down the road as this bed will take an immense amount of work to make it 100% straight and nice again.
Once the body was stripped I decided to coat the entire truck in Black Rust Encapsulator. The truck was stripped to 99% bare metal, but parts of the truck had pitted metal that still had some light surface rust in the pits. Rust Encapsulator gives me peace of mind that the minor rust in those pits will be encapsulated and sealed from spreading. During the stripping and encapsulating process I got a care package from our friends over at Coker Tire that included my wide whitewall Coker Classic Tires and OEM style chrome steel wheels with spider caps. Once I bolted some wheel spacers on, the stance is EXACTLY how I had envisioned from day one. The truck still has the retro style I wanted but with a touch of custom styling and LOW like I prefer all of my vehicles. I can say rolling the truck outside for the Summer Classic with a new look, the right wheels and tires, and the new drivetrain installed was a great feeling!
Once the Summer Classic craziness was over I took a week or two break on the truck before I came back to working on the bomber seat project I hinted at in the last update. I've been busy working on the project and we've been filming the process along the way. I can't wait to show off cool projects like this that you can accomplish with some imagination and a few key Eastwood tools. Below are some sneak peaks of the bead rolled, hole punched, and riveted seat pan. I also have been doing some welding with the Eastwood TIG200 DC to attach the custom seat pan to the original Dodge seat frame. I just have to finish assembling the center console and attach it to the seat and Pile House should have a custom bomber seat to sit in shortly!
I've most recently received a batch of parts from JEGS and I've been working on getting the truck ready to start and move under its own power. This means mounting up the Lokar throttle pedal, B&M street rod shifter, making plug wires, etc. I've been taking pictures along the way and I'll give you guys some tutorials on mounting up some of these parts here soon! I'm hoping to get the truck to start up in the next month. I'll be sure to check in and let you see and hear her come to life for the first time! Thanks for following! -Matt/EW