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Old 10-10-2017, 02:02 AM   #1
RobinHood
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1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Been a lurker here using all the valuable information on this forum for about 2 years now, I feel that I have gotten far enough on my project that someone might want to look at it.

First off, I need to thank everyone who has helped me work on this truck so far. So many people have been massively inconvenienced and helped me out with time and resources because they know how much this truck means to me.

My grandfather was a massive Chevy truck collector his entire life. He primarily collected the 30's era cars and trucks, and even had an article written about his expansive collection called "The Great Idaho 1932 Treasure" in Generator and Distributor magazine. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money he has bought trucks from people on this forum multiple times. The trucks were always there on his lot when we visited, but I didn't actually realize the extent of his collection. When he passed away we suddenly had well over 50 vehicles to take care of and I ended up keeping this one, not really sure what I was going to be able to do with it. He had cars and trucks from 1932, Advance Design, Task Force, 60s and up, cars like Nova, Impala, Caprice, Camaro, and El Camino, and an assortment of Jeep and Dodge stuff that nobody knew what it was.

So after trucking it down to Southern California from Northern Washington on a trailer, I set about figuring out what I was going to do with it. Being 18 just about to start my first year in college while working certainly made it more difficult, but didn't dampen my excitement at all. Initially, I though i would just slap a 350 in it and drive it around. After 2 years on the project, I laugh when I think of that now. I'll start off with a picture of the truck on the trailer as we sat on the side of the highway for 8 hours with a blown wheel bearing that caught a tire on fire.
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:31 AM   #2
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Right when I got the truck back home, I really though about what direction I planned to head with it. The initial thing that attracted me to the truck was the tribal scroll pinstriping reminiscent of lowrider/ hotrod style muscle truck, so I planned to start tearing things apart and see what I got.

The thing you have to understand is that to this point, my mechanical skills really went about as far as regular maintenance on my Honda. I am very mechanically inclined, and I am also a Mechanical Engineering student at University of San Diego, however I have absolutely no practical experience working with cars and I was about to dive in to a frame off rebuild of this crusty old truck.

Daunting, right?

I started with the engine, actually. No, not the rusted over 265 small block that I threw in the bed of the truck for the drive down just because it was there. I mean the engine that I would use for the truck. Initially, I thought an LS swap would provide the best benefits compared to cost that I was looking for at the time. However, I knew that my grandfather would have a carbureted engine because he still drove carbureted cars his entire life and didn't own a motor vehicle made after the late 70s.

So, I went with the obvious, tried and true choice since time began, the 5.7L Chevy 350 Small Block. I found one in a running truck on craigslist that fit the specs and the price I was looking for. I dragged my buddy down to go check it out. The guy was doing a 6LBT4 swap in his C10 and started the 350 up for me. No noises, wierd smells or sounds that I could tell and I agreed to come back the next weekend to pick it up. Little did I know that when I returned, the seller would not have it pulled and ready as agreed. We fought for about 6 hours in 100+ degree weather to get it pulled and loaded up.

The 350 got a full teardown. The engine ran great in the truck, and the cylinder widths matched "in spec" for out of round and wear, so it got cleaned up and re-ringed and resealed. Initially, I set the timing set matching up the 2 biggest triangular marks on each of the gear teeth. After hours of fighting a sputtering, backfiring test run, I pulled the cover to learn that in fact the 2 very small dots were actually the ones needed to line up. Learning lessons along the way, right?

I used a knockoff aluminum high rise intake because it was the first one I found that seemed relatively fair priced and added a carb spacer to adapt the squarebore pattern to the spreadbore Q-Jet pattern. At the time, I didnt realize that this would mean basically a complete loss of low end torque and reduced engine vacuum, but live and learn. It is still on the engine. A chrome valve cover and air cleaner kit and gloss black engine paint finished it off for now.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:04 PM   #3
RobinHood
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

So here is where I started with the truck. After talking it over with many people, and due to the fact that the original truck was a 3/4 ton versus the more common 1/2 ton parts availability wise, I decided to shoot for a frame swap. It seemed like it would give me the best combination of modern ride technology and the look I was going for with the truck. After looking around online at what some others had done, I decided that the s10 frame would be just too narrow to live under the 57. I did see people mentioning C10 as a viable candidate, however, so I began to look for one of those. After a couple weeks, I ended up buying this already built up 82 C10 frame. It had all the bushings and ball joints done already and that narrowed 12 bolt posi with mickey thompson sportsmans would look pretty good tucked under those stepside fenders. The measurements seemed to add up, so I had it towed to my place and was honestly pretty impressed at what I got for what I paid for it.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:19 PM   #4
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Dropping in the engine was pretty straightforward. As far as transmissions go, I knew I wouldn't be able to live with the slow shifting super heavy granny low 4 speed sm420. I traded a burnt out th350 core for a newer and slightly "tighter" sm465, which I used to mock up for the drivetrain. I had gotten a decent amount done on rust removal and metal panel replacement on the cab, so after measuring from the center of the front tires on the original frame, I transferred that over to the newer frame to locate the cab mounts. I added 2 inches to this measurement to account for the wheel sitting lower in the wheel well in relation to the fender, as many people on this forum have mentioned. Attaching the cab mounts was as easy as drilling and bolting them on after I got the measurements. In the front, the mounts sat 3 inches low, so I used body blocks to get them sitting right in relation to the rear so ths body would sit level with no major "rake". It was about at this point I started to notice the issues coming up with using this frame.
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:36 PM   #5
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

nice truck with another great back story...
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:54 PM   #6
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Looks great! I got my 59 when I was 17. I'm 38 now and am building it for the second time.
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Thanks for checking it out guys!

Around this time that I had gotten the cab swapped over and the engine dropped in, I began to notice some fitment issues that I would be facing. The first and most unsolvable in my opinion would be the front tire track width sticking outside of the fenders by about an inch per side. Now, thats not a huge difference, and I could change that with backspacing or possibly cutting down the control arms, but after mocking up the front sheet metal multiple times I knew I really wanted those front wheels tucked inside and under the fenders.

After I had finished my first year of college and I was headed to Officer Candidates School for the United States Marine Corps and the truck really went on the back burner for the first part of my summer while I was gone for 1.5 months. When I got back, and started getting back on the truck again, I knew that I probably wouldnt be able to use the frame to get the result I wanted. So I put it up for sale, and luckily got what I paid for for it.

While I planned my next move for the chassis, I spent some time starting on removing and replacing the extensive cancer in the cab. I initially replaced both toeboards and floor sections with new 16ga sheet. As I progressed, I realized I should just replace the entire firewall to get that smooth custom look, rather than spend weeks filling holes and massaging the metal just to get it reasonably straight. I designed it out of 3 sections of sheet, with the middle section being set back for enough valve cover clearance. I also spent some time trying to repair the corners, but the compound curves were just too much and I decided I would buy the repair panels and do both of them together. I also shaved the drip rail all the way around the cab.
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:20 PM   #8
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Looks like a ton of work on the cab. I didn't see any bracing so hopefully the cab didn't skew on you while it was cut apart.
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Old 10-10-2017, 07:40 PM   #9
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

I did not use any extra bracing as I did one side at a time for my first shot at replacing the floors. I thought that the rocker step and the whole other side of the cab would be enough to hold the one side floorboard in place. I did the firewall with the goal of having it completely smooth and flat, minus the brake master cylinder and clutch master. The new cab corners were relatively easy to install, I just taped off the area I wanted to replace, cut the patch panel to fit, tack welded it in all around, and ground it clean.

After the whole floor had been sealed up and I was satisfied with the firewall, I sprayed POR15 on the underside of the cab and on the inside floor and back wall area. There will be a few areas to go back and touch up after I start the painting process.
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Old 10-10-2017, 07:51 PM   #10
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

I knew I still had to do something about the frame. For these trucks, it seems like it is either Mustang II or clip the front with a 70s muscle car subframe clip. For me, Mustang II was just way too expensive. I found this 77 Camaro/Firebird front subframe for a steal and figured that it would give me everything I wanted for the front ride without too much complexity. I replaced the control arms bushings, ball joint boots, sway bar bushings, repacked wheel bearings, painted calipers, motor mounts, and scraped off 30 years of engine gunk. I chopped off the front of my original frame following a guide found on the internet and mated the 2 frame sections and welded them up. All in all, they lined up perfectly and I decided to weld them stack-style versus the No Limit style because of the larger drop it would give the front end. I'm pretty happy with how the ride height came out but I cut the springs slightly too far and it only has less than an inch of travel, so I still need to get a paid of new springs to try again.
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:08 PM   #11
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

As far as the rear end, the 3/4 ton rear end with 4.57 something gears just wasnt going to work out. I found a narrow 10 bolt Chevy rear end complete from drum to drum that I decided was perfect. The seller said it had been gone through, and the price was so low even if I didnt end up using it there was no reason to pass it up. I inspected it briefly and the ring gear set appeared to be okay as well as the oil and the bearings on the axles.

I think bagged trucks look pretty good, but I dont think that the impracticality of an airbag setup is something I would want on my own truck. I decided to go for a static drop created by taking out some of the leaves from ths spring pack along with a lowering block in the rear. I decided to create a step notch from some 3x6 frame tubing.

Before I started the entire frame teardown, I knew that my frame had a slight curve in it in ths middle section of about .5-1" from tip to tip. I wasnt sure whether this was out of the realm of normality for these trucks, and how it would affect the step notch I was making. I certainly didnt want the truck to dog track down the road later on.

To make the step notch, I welded in a support, cut the frame section on top, welded in each step notch, then cut out the remainder of the original frame section. I added 2 2x2 steel tubes for crossmembers on the top of the step. Overall, I think that it is plenty strong and it lets the rear end be about as low as I want it statically without having to worry about an air setup.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:45 PM   #12
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Looking good. The camaro front ends are perfect for these trucks. I put an 81 camaro clip in mine using the same method.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:29 AM   #13
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Thanks, I think the camaro swap was the way to go. My clip was out of a 77 Firebird, I believe, but I got it for such a good deal and the parts should all swap over for the most part.

The person who built this truck before really upsets me in a lot of ways. Every patch panel on the truck was a piece of sheet metal brazed on with bronze and slathered in a thick coat of bondo. Both cab corners, fender eyebrows, doors, rear front fenders, rear fenders, and parts of the roof pillars were done in this manner. Replacing the sheet metal and fully de-rusting every surface has really been where I spent most of my time so far. Here are some pictures of the fenders that I cut out and replaced the sheet metal on. I know alot of guys would throw these away and buy repops, but I have much more time than money available to spend on the truck at this point, and I really enjoy doing everything I can myself. Both rear sections under the cross brace on both front fenders and the fender corners were rotted out. I outline the section to be replaced with masking tape, cut it out, use paper to create the exact patch panel, weld it in, and smooth it out. I think while both of the body gap lines will need some tweaking to get perfect, that it came out pretty good.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:44 AM   #14
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

As far as the drivetrain goes, I really wanted to stick with a manual tranny. This really only gives a few options, as we all know. Either stick with the original sm420, which has few gearing options and really wont perform like desired, or shell out $1000-$1500 for a t56 out of an LT1 or LS camaro. Niether of those options seemed super appealing to me, and i was able to find a World Class t5 out of a 90s camaro. I knew i had to have the World Class, but I was still very unsure about the ability of the gearbox to handle the torque of a 350 with any sort of longevity. I wasnt very impressed with how the gearbox seemed strength-wise when i was going through it. I did swap the input shaft to a 10 spline from a 14 spline original so i could use a standard clutch however, using the input shaft from a Jeep t5 and swapping that first gear synchro to the older brass style instead of the fiber lined later style in order to match the taper of the synchro- race. The swap was completed by cutting down and tapering the input shaft pilot snout for chevy dimensions. I did rig up a very reliable and sturdy shifter relocation to move the shifter forward for use with a bench seat, however I really wasnt sure I wanted to stick with the t5. I posted it for sale and quickly was able to sell it for much more than I paid for it and the parts to swap it over for use with chevy, and make a little extra money for my labor so I wasn't too bothered.

A couple months down the road, while still checking craigslist every couple days looking for a good deal on a t56, I found a guy selling an S10 NV3500 with the 4.3 vortec v6 that he had actually pulled from a TF truck himself. I was able to buy the tranny and engine together and sold the engine for much more than triple what I paid for both, so I was pretty excited and I had heard while not bulletproof, the NV3500 was likely to be able to handle the torque from the 350, had correct shifter location, and had the all important overdrive 5th gear.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:07 AM   #15
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

After spraying POR 15 chassis black on the frame and underside and floor of cab, I applied butyl rubber and aluminum insulation to the entire floor of the truck. I fabbed up a transmission tunnel cover with the appropriately located hole for the shifter handle for the NV3500. The shifter handle for the NV3500 stock is ugly 90s rubber style, so i chopped off the stick and welded up a new stick for it. I have decided to re-make it with stainless steel instead of the mild that it was initially made of. The entire dash got sanded down and filled in with patch panels with the goal of a smooth dash minus the dash cluster. I am using an 80s Camaro steering column with a steering wheel found at my grandfathers place for now. The column still may need to be shortened for optimal steering angle, but it works well as is. I plan to replace the gauges in the dash cluster so I am able to run an electric speedo with the NV3500, but I will also likely run a 3 gauge panel that will drop down below the dash in the center. I still need to figure out the emergency brake, whether it will be a pedal style or a hand style.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:19 AM   #16
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Everybody knows that the door fitment on these trucks is horrible. The way my doors fit now is the product of probably 2 weeks total just getting them to fit reasonably well. The gaps in the rear are too wide, and the body gap lines are clearly going to take some massaging to get reasonable. I installed bear claw latches because my stock latches were just trashed and i could barely open and close the door as it was. I rebuilt the hinges, but not with the stock replacement kit. The hinge pins looked way too flimsy and I knew i wanted these hinges to have as little play as possible. I reamed out the hinge pin holes and used grade 8 bolts and delrin bushings and washers as spacers and greased them up pretty good. They had very little play and made it alot easier to get the doors on.

I cut out and replaced the bottom hinge plates in the door, both of mine were cracked and rusted out completely. The bottoms of the doors weren't terrible, but I will probably end up replacing the tin at the bottoms of both sides.

The bearclaws were alot easier than I though they were going to be. I used the body lines on the doors to line up the height I needed, located the striker pin, and used the pin to locate the latch center itself. I added a slight degree up because I assume once the weight of the glass is added they will want to sit down more. More than likely i will have to re-adjust them at that point in time. Both doors close nice and easy now on their own with no slamming or pushing required.

A far as handles go, I am likely going to drop the stock handles. I am not super in to the idea of electric poppers, so I am looking at trying to fabricate a flush mount frenched in style fly-out handle or button. The hardest part is the fact that I really would like to stick with key locked doors.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:25 AM   #17
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

I did start some work on that iconic 57 only "Egg Crate" grille. I welded the entire outer lip flush to remove the seams in the metal. I think I am going to try to implement the "floating" style with the vertical cross supports removed and the grille center section floating in the middle. If anyone knows how this is done and is willing to share, I would love to hear it.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:46 AM   #18
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

ptc floated a 57 grill in his 56...looks great...should be same principal ...youll need something in back to support the center...paint it black so it don't show. ...remove the vertical supports...and there ya go....http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...663322&page=30
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:14 PM   #19
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Here's another grille for inspiration...

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Old 10-14-2017, 09:27 PM   #20
RobinHood
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

I was able to get some new springs and shocks for the camaro front subframe to try to get the ride the way I want it. I chopped enough off to give it about 3-4 full inches of lower control arm travel. They came with a pair of new shocks as well, painted to match. After installing them, I don't really like the ride height. I will need to figure out a way to drop the height of the front sheet metal in relation to the frame. Right now the frame is perfectly level, I am thinking with a slight rake I could get the front to drop down slightly.
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Old 10-23-2017, 01:34 AM   #21
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Finished up shaving the parking lights and worked on some dents and smoothing out the rear panel of the cab this weekend.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:07 PM   #22
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Great history with the truck. Just catching up with the build and will be tagging along. Kudo's to you for jumping in and learning as you go. Good luck with OCS.
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:39 AM   #23
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

Finally showing some more progress after a couple weekends. I found a Posi-Traction 80 Camaro rear end for a steal that I picked up and started to rebuild it and clean it up to get ready to paint. Ive gotten a lot of the body work done on the firewall and cab corners and rear and its finally starting to look good.
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Old 11-24-2017, 11:25 PM   #24
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

After swapping the new posi rear end in, I decided to repaint the entire frame while it was out. Ended up going with a charcoal grey that contrasts well with the red suspension bushing parts.

Started getting the gaps set on the doors. I welded on a piece of 1/4" round onto the trailing door edge and the top of the jamb and used a straight edge to start getting the gap continuous and straight.
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Old 11-25-2017, 05:25 AM   #25
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Re: 1957 Chevy 3600 Mild Custom Build

RobinHood

Great story on the truck... Fun, fun, fun.

Strong work, it's evident that you and not burdened by hesitation.

Looking good, rock on brother.

Keep on keepin on

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