Frame Off Restoration Update 2 – Install

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BIG update! Here’s last weeks progress.


The frame is back from the frame shop, and painting is finished! The results I think came out very well. All the paint used on the frame and the body was Rustoleum Professional semi-gloss black. I know what you’re thinking! But here’s the deal, it’s good paint and whether or not a paint job survives has more to do with prep than the paint. Here’s a summary of this paint’s pro’s and cons, you decide what’s best for you. For the record I preferred Krylon over Rustoleum, but they are essentially the same paint.


  1. Cheap
  2. Available
  3. Very easy touchup and blending in the future. This was my main pro.
  4. Quick cure time.
  5. Easy application
  6. Can be done from home.
  7. Excellent Coverage


  1. Not quite the hardness or chemical resistance of an Epoxy Coat.
  2. Spray cans apply thin coats. 4 coats were applied to combat this.
  3. Overspray. Watch out
  4. Must wait a week to recoat if you miss the 1 hour window, or bubbling will occur.

If your car will be driving in salt or you live near the cost, I probably wouldn’t go this route. I’d go epoxy coat or similar. This isn’t the case for me or this car, so I opted for this route. Again, you decide. I call this a “Fit For Purpose” decision, rather than a “Shortcut”. Either way, there was exposed metal before, so this is much better.

My procedure

  1. Cleaning/prep/removed old seam sealer
  2. Primer coat
  3. New seam sealer
  4. At least 3 coats of paint.
  5. 48+ hour cure
  6. Assembly
Finished Frame Paint Pics






With the frame and Body painted, I was finally able to pick up the new engine.


The new motor was purchase from an Oldsmobile family from Chicago. They were working on a ’66 Cutlass frame off restoration as a father-son project, which regrettably had to come to an end. I purchased the drive train from the family with the promise to take care of their family’s work. The seller was gracious enough to meet me in Louisville Ky, which was roughly half way for both of us.

Engine Specs:
  • 455 early 70’s F block. Currently painted Fusick Bronze. Decked/honed etc.
  • I was told over 5k in machine work. hand machined for improved oil return/flow.
  • Machined/new rotating assembly and new flat top high compression pistons. Nodular N Crank.
  • High volume oil pump and 7qt Milodon oil pan with windage tray.
  • C heads, 5 angle valve job and larger valves, stainless steel valves, hardened seats.
  • Harland Sharp adjustable roller rockers. Tall Valve Covers.
  • Mondello JM-22-25 Camshaft manufactured by Eagle.
    • Intake lift .512, Exhaust lift .523,
    • Intake Duration 274 deg, Exhaust Duration 280 deg.
    • Intake @ .050 230 deg, Exhaust @ .050 236 deg.
    • lobe separation 108 deg.
    • Spring pressure @ seat 110-140 lb.
    • Spring Pressure @ open 290-340 lb.
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM Intake, Rebuilt Quadrajet Carb
  • Turbo 400 transmission, rebuilt ~10k miles ago.
  • MSD Ignition with 8mm wires.
  • Custom Driveshaft.

New 455 Engine Pics
































One of the best parts of the trip was stopping by the Corvette Museum in Bowling green Kentucky and seeing the sinkhole cars!






We met at the Waterfront Park in Louisville on Saturday morning,  and as it turns out, this is exactly when the city was having a big color run, ultra-marathon and other events. The parking was packing but we managed to find a spot for us to make the swap. The marathon girls kept running by whispering “What are they doing, building a robot or something?” All-in all the swap went very smoothly. Afterwards we grabbed lunch and discovered that Joe and I had alot in common. Long lost brothers. We both even worked for the same company (BP) and didn’t even know it!









Suspension Install

Before installing the motor the front suspension had to be installed. The new Ridetech Stage 1 coil over kit up to this point had been waiting patiently in boxes, and was keeping the BMW out in the rain. I plan on writing a separate post as an install walk through, but here are a couple highlights.

The new kit required the upper shock mount to be drilled to 1/2″ (or was it 3/4″?). It’s about 3/8″ or so stock I believe. Installation was fairly straight forward at this point. The lower control arms required some massaging to fit into the lower frame brackets, which is fairly expected. Once the upper and lower arms were bolted on, the coilover could be installed. The new polyurethane bushing were lubricated with lithium grease where required, but are accessible for the future as well. One nice thing about poly bushings is that the car does not need to be at its resting height for final torquing, since the bushings aren’t pressed into the controls arms or frame. They can simply rotate as required.

The really tricky part was installing the disc brake conversion kit with these new Ridetech Hubs. Since new hubs were being installed, the old hubs had to be completely disassembled. This was a good time to re-pack the wheel bearings and clean everything up. I should have painted the calipers also but I was rushed. The kit disc brake caliper brackets interfered with the much larger hubs, so they had to be trimmed using a death wheel and some precise measurements. All-in all, the results are great. The new ride height is about 2″ lower than stock, which is a bit lower than I’d like, but better than the high factory truck look in my opinion. Look at the size difference between the old and the new HD spindles!










Motor Install

The motor was moved into the garage from the truck once there was finally enough room, which took a few days. The frame and body had all the final last minute items completed, like re-attaching brake line brackets, fuel lines, paint touch-up and bolt torque checks. The new body mounts were installed and torqued, and lug nuts torqued.

Here’s the Big Man checking out the goods.





The motor was installed and immediately there was a problem. The Milodon pan was hitting the frame crossmember, which prevented the motor from resting on the mounts. This took us a bit to figure out, but finally the decision was made to remove the motor.  Upon measuring, it was immediately evident that this pan was about 2 inches deeper on the round section of the pan in this area compared to stock. After a-lot of deliberation and input, the pan was “Massaged” to a more stock shape. This area of the pan did not have any pickups, windage trays or similar which would interfere. Once complete, it was time for attempt 2.

The second motor install was assisted by “The Filiatrault’s”. Everyone said with the aftermarket pan attached the transmission had to be separated for install. We proved them wrong. Instead, I removed the body mounts in the front of the car and lifted the body ~4 inches. I removed the transmission crossmember. This allowed the motor to go in fairly well. The tall valve covers were VERY close to the brake booster, and the distributor was VERY close to the firewall on install, but we got it done.

I used stock rocket 350 engine pads and matching P/N 2261 mounts. The trans needed new brackets for the linkage and kickdown switch on the Pedal. Note, sold me a bracket P/N G240151 that supposedly fit a 72 Cutlass with a THM 400 trans. It did NOT. Based on input, some have theorized that this is a Chevy/GM bracket, which is different that the required olds bracket. P/N CSB40 from appears to be correct; We’ll see.

The Install (Attempt 1 and 2):
















The Headers OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t fit right out of the box. They never do. However, they were surprisingly close considering the tight fit. The headers needed tweaking in three areas. The headers are DNA racing 316 stainless with a 3 inch collector.

Passenger Lower Control Arm

The header tube was touching the bolt/nut on the rear passenger lower control arm bracket. The header was removed, torch heated and bashed until it fit.

Passenger Side Heater Box

The heater box was too close to the upper header tube and would have melted. In similar fashion the header tube under the heater box was massaged until ~0.5 inches of clearance was achieved. Even still, reflective heat tape will be used on the bottom of the box to protect it.

Drivers Side Brake Distribution Block

The headers on the drivers side passed too close to the brake distribution block. The lines and block were relocated to the top of the frame. This required drilling and tapping a new hole for the mount bolt as well as bending the brake lines. Bending these brake lines certainly made me uncomfortable, but they’ve since been pressurized and seem OK. No header bashing required! I could have bashed the headers enough to clear, but decided I’d rather the brake system be further away from the heat.


The fender liners have also been painted and are ready to install. The next steps are to rebuild the steering box and heater box and get the radiator core support back from the fabricator. Once those are done, it’s time for final assembly and engine startup!

Share your thoughts below!