Tag Archives: vintage

  • Remember the bench seat? Forget it, because it's gone next year

    1963 Chevrolet Impala Sport Sedan (Photo courtesy General Motors)

    I remember my family piling into my mom's 1963 Oldsmobile 98, with its huge bench seats covered in plastic! Both the front and back seats were benches, so you could fit up to 6 people in the car. Most cars had benches back then, with only sporty cars featuring the much cooler bucket seats.

    Now bench seats will be only a fond memory, as GM has announced that it will no longer offer the bench seat option on 2014 and later Chevrolet Impalas.

    Perhaps you didn’t even realize that any manufacturer was still putting bench seats into their passenger cars...evidently even some Impala buyers were unaware of that, since just 10% of purchasers chose the 3-passenger bench option.

    So those benches will be gone from passenger cars starting next year, but if you'd like to relive the memories of one writer who understood what the bench seats meant to teenagers, check out the Wastegate Blog here.

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  • How to Build Custom Cafe Racer Motorcycle Handlebars

    I've had my hands full with my four wheeled projects lately and I haven't been giving my little "cafe" motorcycle; a DKW RT125 much attention. I recently decided to build a set of clubman style drop bars for it. My problem with off the shelf parts are that I usually end up modifying them or they just aren't quite exactly what I want for my projects. I decided rather than wasting $100 or more on a set of bars I may not like the dimensions of, I'd build my own from scratch. Below is the cliff-notes version of the build. Hopefully this can give you some guidelines to follow on your own build.

    Above you can see the riding position on the bike with the original handlebars and the custom seat we made in the last tech series.

    I started by taking some 1/2" round steel bar and bending two identical halves into a rough shape that I liked and welding them together in the center. I took dimensions from some other bars that I liked and tweaked them to my liking. I decided that I wanted a pretty aggressive drop and a slight sweep forward to get into a sportier riding positon. This concept is the same basic way I'd be building the real bars.

    We started with 7/8" DOM tubing for the bars. DOM tubing is a seamless piece of tubing and is the strongest option for making something structural like a set of bars for your bike. DO NOT skimp and try to use thin conduit or anything like that, you're putting yourself and others at risk! We then took a piece of TIG filler wire and recreated the first bend in the tubing we needed from our round bar template. This allowed us to use the filler rod as a guide when we were making the first bend. We marked out the length of material the bend would take up and set the tubing with the starting line at the center point of the bottom roller in the Eastwood Pro Former Tubing Bender. We then pumped and bent the tubing until it was just a little further than the bend we needed on the TIG rod guide to combat the spring-back of the metal when the pressure was relieved.

    Once we had our first bend we slide the tubing into the stem and checked to make sure that it had the drop I wanted. Here you can put the tubing back in the bender to tweak it a little further if need be. We then marked out the length and center of the next bend to give us the first half of the bars. Depending how close your next bend is to the first you may need to spin the tubing around and come from the opposite direction as the first bend (just remember which way you want to bend!). At this point you also need to make sure that the tubing is set so that your next bend is parallel to the first bend. If you want some slight forward or backwards rake to the bars you could make this second bend just a little off from parallel, but it's tough to replicate multiple times. Again I bent the tubing to match our guide and we test fit it again to make sure that the we had the shape we were looking for. This is where you can stand back, squint your one eye shut and get an idea of what your bars will look like. Take a break, grab a snack, crack open a drink and get ready for the tricky part of this project next.

    This is where it gets tricky and I'll admit I ruined some material and had to start over a couple times. When you begin marking out your next bends they need to be perfect to allow for them to match AND you need to make sure all bends are parallel. With a good measurements, a helper to keep it all straight, and a little bit of luck, you could make a set of bars out of one piece of material. I decided after a couple attempts to make the bars out of 2 separate pieces and then sleeve, and weld them together. This also allowed me to keep my bends as close to the side of the forks as possible since I could trim them to size. I chose to shave down a piece of tubing that slipped inside the 2 pieces we bent and used the MIG 175 to join them with a plug welds, followed by butt welds with the TIG 200 DC . I left a gap so that I could get the TIG torch into the gap and melt the inner sleeve to the bars and also enough room to add filler to make it a seamless joint.

    After I had the pieces welded together I test fit them on the bike and marked out where the levers, throttle, and grips would sit. With everything marked out I could cut the extra length off of the bars. For most modern bikes the throttle is all one piece and you can just slip it over the bars and fix it in place. On my bike I needed to cut a seat for the throttle slide to sit in (the little aluminum parts seen in the pics above).

    With the bars welded and cut to length, I installed my throttle, grips and levers. The final look is exactly as I wanted and the riding position is how I wanted it. The bars still allow for full turning radius and fit me pretty well, so I'm pretty happy with them. Now that the bike is just about how I want it to look I can button up some mechanical repairs the bike needs and then make a small rear bobbed fender and the bike is ready for the road! Stay tuned, I'll show you how to build a simple rear fender for your bobber or cafe racer from scratch with Eastwood Tools next!

    -Matt/EW

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  • Nick C., Sr. Content & Engagement Marketing Manager- What Makes Us Tick

    My favorite Eastwood product is the powder coat system. When I came to Eastwood (I started out by doing my Penn State internship at Eastwood), I worked with the HotCoat Powder Coating Division. After Mark R. showed me the basics and benefits of powder coating, I was hooked. I’ve powder coated everything from hood hinges, carburetors, VW engine tins, to the gas tank for my ’62 Bug.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Firewall Fabrication and Some Packard Donor Parts

    Now that we're starting to settle into our new workshop and photo/video studio here at the Eastwood headquarters, I've been able to turn my attention back to making progress on Project Pile House. At this point the truck has the silhouette that I've been envisioning, but it just needs a lot more rust repair and final finishing of the body mods, and some more associated work I've got on my to-do list. I've decided I want to take a break from some of the visual enhancements and get back to making the truck closer to being roadworthy. This includes making a new firewall that fits around the Chevy 350 crate engine from Pace Performance and the Chevy TH-350 transmission from TCI Transmissions.

    Our new tech-help guy Mike was eager to help me extract the old firewall. Mike has years of body shop experience and knows his way around a grinder and jumped right on board with chopping up the truck to make it better! Make sure you welcome Mike if you call or email and speak with him, he's a great addition to the Eastwood family.

    Now with the firewall cut out I can start making some templates to make a new smooth firewall for the truck. I'm still undecided if I want to run some beads around the perimeter from 18 gauge or if I want to use some thicker 16 gauge and make the firewall completely smooth. Like a lot of things with custom cars, it'll take some standin' around and eyeballin' things to figure out what looks best. Once I've got a template made up, I'll move on to the real thing out of steel and I'll be sure to post the process here on the blog as I progress!

    I also hit up my favorite local junkyard to rummage around their classic car section and see what sort of goodies I could find for Pile House. I'm not a fan of billet accessories on this build and I wanted a steering column housing and steering wheel that I could customize and keep it looking period correct. I settled on a late 40's Packard column housing that has a cool oval housing and intergrated turn signal switch. I plan to shave the shifter hole (I'm running a floor shifter) and smooth it out before mounting it up. I think I can make a custom steering shaft that fits the S10 steering joint and box on the chassis and integrate it to fit the Packard housing. I've started by gutting the surround and now I can start modifying it to fit into the new firewall. I'm still on the hunt for a steering wheel that grabs me, I feel like I've looked at just about every steering wheel from the 30's-60's at this point!

    Stay tuned, with the weather warming up I'm itching to get Pile House on the road this summer!

    -Matt/EW

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  • Moving Shop, A New Drivetrain and A Lot of Inspiration.

    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!

    -Matt/EW

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