Hemi engine under the hood, jet engine in the trunk! (Photo courtesy KBTX.com)
Like other car aficionados, Joe Wilkins brought his ’39 Ford to Doug Leopold at Classic Collision and Restoration in Bryan, Texas to rebuild the classic from the ground up.
"Big project, no big deal, but this was a little bit of a bigger project," said Leopold.
That's because Wilkins didn't ask for a "typical" restoration. Joe wanted something extra special. Besides the Hemi engine to be installed under the hood, he wanted an additional engine in the back...a jet engine.
"Building this kept me young and it was a real break from reality in the laboratory," said Wilkins.
Incredibly, Watkins sometimes uses his Hemi Jet Ford as his daily driver. "I've even got air conditioning in it, a stereo; I've taken it to the store to get milk and bread," said Wilkins.
The tailpipe has an afterburner that develops thrust beyond what the car can produce through the wheels. No one's sure yet how fast this Ford can go, but Joe will tell you its cost was in the six figures. Joe plans on taking the Hemi Jet ’39 Ford to Utah next year to see if it can be first street legal car to hit 300 mph.
Watch the video and read the rest of this story here.
It's been a while since I last updated everyone on the status of Project Pile House. Unfortunately things have been stalled a little because of some major construction going on inside of the Eastwood headquarters. About a month ago we started building a new photo/video studio and also a separate "dirty work" area. This meant that Pile House has been trapped in limbo as we built the new shop. Previously we had our video and photo guys and myself sharing a space. Anyone that knows anything about expensive video and photography equipment knows that they do NOT like dirt, dust, paint, or sparks.. all of which I was producing regularly (go figure!). We've been stalled a bit working on our projects, but this new move will be great and allow us to bring you better quality and more frequent technical videos and pictures. I snapped a few pictures along the way and soon you'll notice the new surroundings in our pictures and videos!
Since I haven't been doing much work on the truck, I've been trying to gather some key parts and also figure out my goals for the truck for this summer. Anyone that remotely knows me will know that I have trouble sitting still and especially if I have an unfinished project. It's been tough not making on progress on the truck, but it's allowed me to wind back some of my plans for the truck in order to get it rolling for this summer. I want to be able to drive this thing at some point in the summer, even if it's late in the summer. I've decided to try and get the major rust, rot, and mechanical portions of the truck taken care of , finish all the current body mods I've made thus far, and get the truck in primer for the summer. Then next winter I can get the truck where I want it for paint. I recently learned that our Urethane Primers can be tinted with our Single Stage Urethane paints to get away from boring gray. This is great because I was already thinking about doing some sort of custom satin paint job using our Rat Rod Satin Clear, so it will give me an idea if I really like the look.
With trying to get the truck on the road this summer, I had to sort out what I'm doing for a drivetrain. In a previous post I had shown a small block chevy V8 I had scored from a local hot rod shop. Turns out they were less than truthful about what the engine was and its condition. Once I dug in I realized I had been bamboozled. So after some angry phone calls I got rid of the boat anchor and got my cash back. I decided I didn't have time for dealing with unknown used engines and we started making some calls to some of or friends in the industry to see if they could help. Our friends over at Pace Performance just so happened to have an engine that had been "roughed up" by a delivery driver and was returned. After some discussion, it turns out the engine was only damaged superficially and it just needed some bolt-on parts replaced and I'd be in business. We struck a deal and it arrived so quick I didn't even have time to give our warehouse workers a heads up that there was a "Big Box" coming for me. They were less than impressed to say the least (sorry guys!), but we got it moved into the shop with the truck. I ended up with a GM Performance 602 (SEALED) CIRCLE TRACK RACE ENGINE, 350CID 350HP with some light bumps and bruises. Turns out this engine was destined for Rusty Wallace racing before it was roughed up by the delivery driver. After I ordered a couple parts, I had the damaged parts replaced and the engine on the stand ready to be built up.
With the engine sorted out we called our friends over at TCI Auto and had them build us one of their "Street Rodder" TH350 Automatic Transmissions with a "Street Rodder" Torque Converter. Again these items arrived extremely quick and I was surprised how well it all was packed! This drivetrain combo should be extremely streetable with the room for improvement if I get bored with it. I plan to use the truck for a cruiser and do some light towing with it, so I should be more than ok with this combo.
In the near future I want to mount the TCI transmission to the "mockup" foam block and get my old firewall and floor cut out. From there I can fabricate new rust-free panels to replace them. Once we get the cab solid we can move on to media blasting the inside of the front sheet metal and treating and sealing it. Then I can turn my attention back to the bed. I want to have Pile House moving under it's own power for the Eastwood Summer Classic this July, so I have a lot of work to do. Expect regular updates again here soon! Thanks to all that have been following along or given suggestions, we appreciate it!
We've been VERY busy since our last update. We've decided that the best way to fix the body damage in the inner fender was to remove the 5.0 engine from the Mustang. As we dug in we found all sorts of holes drilled in that side of the engine bay from someone using a slide hammer to pull the dents and never filling the holes. This will be a great time to freshen up and paint the bay while we're "in there".
Since we made the decision to pull the drivetrain out everyone has been arguing over what we should do when we put an engine back into the car. Some ideas we've heard range from mild to wild! We've heard supercharging, turbo, refresh and bring back to stock, a new crate engine, even a wild naturally aspirated engine build (big cam, port and polish, lightened and balanced internals, etc). We're still undecided, but I admit it would be good fun to see what sort of power we could get out of a cheap custom turbo setup on the stock 302 with Eastwood tools (give that TIG 200 a workout!). So we decided to do a compression test on all eight cylinders in case we keep the engine or use it as a base. Surprisingly all cylinders were pretty close and within spec. With the high being 145PSI and the low being 130PSI, this engine has faired better than many other fox body Mustangs out there!
Now with those numbers recorded, Nick and I tore into the bay removing everything that needed to come off to remove the drivetrain. We're a little behind schedule, so we pulled out the Eastwood Air Tools to get the job done a little faster. We didn't run into that many rusty or seized bolts, but we were surprised that few we did run into, the Composite Twin Hammer Impact Wrench broke them loose with ease. With the use of the impact wrench and the Eastwood Composite Air Ratchet we have the engine hanging by only a few bolts. We're hoping later this week to try and pluck the lump out of the bay and drop it on the engine stand.
While Nick and I worked on the engine bay Lisa, Amanda, Kevin, and Randy worked on getting the interior taken apart. This area was as dirty and abused as we expected, but Lisa did find a few surprises when she was removing the drivers seat. It turns out that someone had ripped or destroyed some of the seat mounting locations in the floor and made some pretty unsafe repairs. Under the right rear drivers seat bracket they had stripped out the mounting hole and drove a larger sized bolt into the floor pan at about a 45 degree angle. This was a pain to get out! Then she found that in the front someone had ripped out the front left mounting point of the drivers seat. To repair the area they used some painters tape (yes you read that correctly!) and a piece of aluminum plate they shoved into the hole to drive another incorrect bolt into. We're still unsure how they got the plate into the hole. but we imagine a BFH was in the mix!
The crew got the interior pretty well stripped, the bumpers, rear quarter windows and sunroof removed so far and the car really is in shambles. Some may think the Mustang is ready for the junkyard but we see a fresh slate to start over and give this car a new lease on life. Next we hope to get the engine out and start to tackle the body damage. Repair panels are just starting to roll in from CJ Pony Parts and we can't wait to get these quality repair panels installed!
If you have an idea what we should do for our new engine, please drop us a comment and let us know you're thoughts! Thanks for following, now get out there and build something yourself! -Matt/EW
We're always elbow deep in projects here at Eastwood, and while tearing down an original 350 SBC (small block v8 Chevy engine) we decided to document the process. Since the engine had never been apart before, we decided it would be a great test for our Eastwood Air Tools and our new, growing line of Eastwood Hand Tools. Along the way we snapped a few shots of the process.
With the heads removed and the cylinders cleaned, we can check the short block for any damage to the cylinder walls, cam, etc. before deciding if we want to send this off to the machine shop for a full rebuild, or just a DIY ball hone and refresh.
The disassembly took about 30 minutes with the help of these new Eastwood tools and sure put a beating on them! Now we have to decide how far we want to Hot Rod this ol' 350 engine!