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Big redo of the old bucket


Well-Known Member
Staff member
OK, I'm gonna try to keep a diary here of the work on my bucket. It's been almost 20 years since built, and has gone thru 3 motors, several dash mods and minor upgrades, but I felt it was time for some real changes before I get too old to do it myself. First, a few pics of it before:


Motor has a B&M 250 blower w/4bbl. Interior is original and getting a little ratty and was never very comfortable.

The plan: 1) raise the motor and tranny about 1-1/2 inches, doubling the present ground clearance. Tired of banging pans. 2) replace the induction with a big Potvin blower and port EFI. I've had this system on the car several times, and this time it will have a new ECU and other upgrades. 3) New interior, with a different look and very ergonomic. 4) New electrical system.

Hope to have it all done by cruise time here in MN. Have already started and will post more pics as work progresses.
It's going to be fun to watch this rebuild.

I'll be jumping around the project as I get the urge and the parts, so don't be surprised if one minute we're doing interior and the next electrical. To prepare for the project I removed the battery, drained all the fluids, pulled the oil pan and removed the windshield, dash and steering wheel. Taped all the body edges and covered everything I wasn't working on. First I wanted to raise the motor and tranny. To do that I'll rip up the rug and cut out the hump:

The TH400 is a big unit, but has taken 20 years of abuse with no complaints, so I'll hang on to it. Next I remove the bolts on the tranny mount and the motor mounts, then situate jacks under the tailshaft and the first main bearing. The motor and tranny are parallel to the frame and I want to keep it that way, so I use a digital level (what a great gadget) to check the angles. To check clearances and looks, I'm temporarily hanging the Potvin/EFI on the motor:

Before I removed the old induction, I marked the distributor and rotor to get the timing right later. Then start jacking... and I have to trim the floor opening to make room for the tranny. Note: fiberglass dust goes everywhere, so wear protection; I use a full-face respirator. And cover the wife's car or you will be punished. Checking the angles, and oops, the frame angle has changed? Yep, removing the weight of the motor/tranny has altered my reference angle. So I put some hardwood spacers in the 3 mounts and lower the weight back onto the frame. Check angles, jack up, more spacers, jack down, check angles and spacing, repeat as needed. I know a guy with a CNC mill (nice to have friends with benefits) who will whittle some nice pieces to replace the wood spacers.

All the project pics will be at Feel free to browse my other albums of car shows and stuff. And let me know if you have any shortcuts, tips, questions, know any crazy rod chicks in MN, etc. I'm winging lots of this and the collective wisdom of the bucketeers will be most welcome.
Suit up (heavy gloves, crowbar, pliers) to remove the interior. Pull, rip, and out it came:

Then used chisels to remove the hardwood pieces that were glued to the body as anchors for the upholstery. To clean up the surface, I tried sandpapers until I found a disc that looks like a mutant Brillo pad:

Chucked it in the die grinder and it eats fiberglass, glue and wood splinters like crazy. And it's cheap and doesn't clog like sandpaper.
Those disc's are great aren't they. Sent my daughter to the store for some flapper dosc's and that's what she came back with. They eat rust real good too.

I've used a buch of those disks on the coupe, its about the only thing that will take off the 87 year old laquer. Potvin blower... wow cool factor is off the charts
The old interior was well done, but the short flat bench seat wasn't comfortable; it was a long reach to the steering wheel, and all my weight was on my tailbone. And I was ready for a new look. I wanted bucket seats in my bucket, fancy that. I looked at TEA's, but a pair of their buckets start at $1300 in cloth. One day I was wandering around Sam's Club while the BW shopped, and I plopped down in an office chair. Hmm...feels good, modern leather and chrome, lumbar support, memory foam...$80 on sale? Leave off the arms and the swivel base...measured and two of them will fit the T like a T:


I made a "fitment test appliance," or FTA in NASA-speak, but it just looks like a board to me:


...mounted a seat to it, sat in it and messed with the height, tilt and position until I was happy. Took dimensions to build the "cockpit restraint assembly, personnel," or CRAP (OK, I promise no more), a wood box glued, screwed and bolted to the body to support the two seats. The box will be 1/2" MDF top and bottom and 1x6 pine sides and supports:

Will use 3M Marine Adhesive Sealant 5200, specialized for wood and fiberglass, to glue it to the floor and sides. There is a hole in the passenger side to access the battery in an aluminum box dropping beneath the floor. The space inside the seat box can hold gloves, tools, etc.
I'm going to finish the body interior real smooth, primer and paint it with Eastwood's Chassis Black, a semi gloss which looks like black anodize and will be used on the motor too.
I like the office chair idea. Something to keep in mind when I get my body. Looking forward to your progress.
Got the bottom of the seat box about ready:


Hole at top is for brake proportioning valve, holes at bottom for cables and wires from dash and motor; they go thru the frame. A few more holes and I'll glue and bolt this piece in place.

Moving to the motor, I've been saving these nice two-piece valve covers:


Decided to install them. But even in SBC world, not everything is a bolt-on. The heads had some projections that hit the covers, so I had to grind those down. And to keep cast iron dust out of the motor, I had to mask it all off:

Surgeons get big bucks for this kind of operation. Used a Dremel, the die grinder is too scary in such close quarters.


All put together:


Painted the top half Eastwood Chassis Black. I like the contrast with the polished bottom. Gonna make the whole motor black & aluminum. How about those trick wood motor mounts?

Coming attractions: been saving this billet oil filter:


It has a SS mesh inside, you just rinse it out and put it back on.
Decided to reuse some of the electrical system to save time (can't miss the first cruise!):


Cut a hole for the u-joint, since it is slightly higher than the floor now. And two holes for body/frame bolts that will now also grip the seat box.
Quick update. In my quest to remove all color from the motor, I coated the red distributor wire retainer with Plasti Dip:


It will need another coat. It's a rubber coating, like you might put on tool handles, comes in a spray can.

Here's the old electrical panel, which was under the dash against the firewall and hidden by a false interior firewall:


I have to transfer all the functionality, plus some new stuff, to a new panel behind the seats. I'll reuse the interior firewall as a toe board.
Here's something you don't see every day:

I think I attached a PDF that explains it. If not, you'll have to wait until I get could be a very long wait.

New motor mounts:

This is destined to be the next big craze. I've decided to make a limited run of these for those of discriminating taste. Pine is standard, but cherry, mahogany or any other wood can be had for a very large additional charge.

I almost threw out the bases of the office chairs, but had an idea while trying to squat (67 isn't the new 30) to work on the car. Cut a circle of MDF and mounted it to a base:


Added a lip to hold a magnetic cup and a few holes for tools, and presto! A custom shop stool with adjustable height.

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