Tag Archives: ratrod
Auto enthusiast John Findra doesn't work on real cars. He's a model builder, and much of his business comes from customers who'd like custom model replicas of their favorite old cars. But for fun, he builds classic car models and then "un-restores" them! "Underhauling", as opposed to overhauling.
John says we live in a world where perfection is so tantamount to success that "perfection almost becomes boring. A car in its original state is a man-made idea of perfection, but when you take that car and put it out in nature, nature now takes over and creates its own perfection. Nature has its own way of reacting to metal and rubber."
John's research takes him into overgrown fields and old barns, two of the best places to find old, abandoned, rusted-out cars. He brings his camera with him, so he can document the pattern of shattered glass, the shape of the rust holes, the way paint peels, how rust drip lines form. Then John goes back to his workshop and creates model cars that reflect the reality of "nature's perfection" (see an example in photo above).
Watch the video, courtesy of Etsy, by clicking here. You'll also find several of his "un-restored" classic models available for sale on that page.
With all of the S10 suspension and steering components up front replaced with new Proforged parts, we needed to make the rest of the chassis and suspension look as good as the parts we put on. We decided to remove the stock Chevy V6 drivetrain first. We got some help from one of our friendly forklift drivers in the Eastwood distribution center to lift it out. The removal went pretty smoothly, but the cleanup was another story though!
With the engine out and the mess cleaned up, I could now check tire clearance when lifting and dropping the air suspension. It quickly became evident that the tires were contacting the front cab corners when dropped. To make room, I made notches in the cab corners with the Versa Cut Plasma Cutter. With those rough cuts made, the suspension now has its full range of motion. Later on I will be making mini-tubs in the cab corners that close up the notches I cut, but still allow the tires to tuck when dropped. More on that project a little later down the road.
Next we rolled the truck outside so we could clean and detail the chassis. I started by removing the steering box and giving it a good clean and detail with the help from Chassis Kleen and Detail Gray.
With all of the bolt-on parts removed from the front of the S10 chassis, I moved on to cleaning and prepping it for paint. The hero of this job was our new Rust Brushes. Once I had them hooked in the drill it only took about 15-20 minutes and 2 brushes to get all of the scaly rust and messy grease off. I also found it was handy to keep the "worn out" brushes and use the pointy ends to get into the hard-to-reach spots that a fresh brush couldn't reach.
With the major debris cleaned off, I hit everything up with Chassis Kleen, and PRE before applying Rust Encapsulator. The Encapsulator will stop any of the light rust left on the chassis from growing, and also gives a uniform finish to build off of. I then applied some Satin Chassis Black for the final tough finish. Even though I use Chassis Black quite frequently on other projects, I'm still amazed at how well this stuff sprays out of the can and how tough it is. Only problem now is that it makes all of the dirty, original parts around it look worse! I just have to keep reminding myself this is just a driver and not a show car build!
Now that the front clip is detailed, I can move on to test fitting the mockup block and V8S10 conversion bits. Watch this space for more on that here shortly. Thanks for following!
Now that we have the cab and front end sheet metal mounted and they are a "bolt-on" affair, it's time to start tackling the job of making bed mounts, as well as stretching the bed to fit the chassis. I initially was going to shorten the chassis to match the original Dodge wheelbase, but after some time of staring at the truck, and pictures of other trucks, I decided that I think I dislike how "unproportioned" these old short bed trucks look. After some measuring of the truck, and looking at pictures of other trucks, I think the overall appearance of the truck will look more "balanced" with the front of the bed lengthened to meet the cab.
So today we chopped out the metal that was fouling the chassis from the original bed floor first, then once we dropped the bed down we found that the S10 gas tank was hitting the bed and not allowing us to move it around freely. After removing the tank we got the bed sitting about how we wanted it height-wise, and tacked up some metal rods to hold the front part of the bed at that ideal height. We also added some cross bracing inside the bed to keep it from twisting while we are chopping it up and locking it into place. This should be a great exercise to hone my metal brake and bead rolling skills that I need some freshening up on! Check out the pictures below, and keep an eye here on the blog for a lot more updates to come.