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Old 12-06-2015, 10:08 PM   #1
Advanced Design
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56 BelAir LS swap quick look

I bought this 56 Chevy from a friend 12 years ago. It had been built in late 80's with a 1974 Corvette IRS, chrome axle shafts, chrome upper control arms and splash pan.

It was equipped with a 350 sbc and THM 350.

The car handled horrible due to the rake and the IRS set up incorrectly.

Here is a before.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:14 PM   #2
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Back in 2010 a friend talked me into doing an LS swap and I am really glad he did.

I'll share the pictures I can find as I was pretty focused on completing the update quickly as we had an event in Iowa and South Dakota to go to. So as a result I don't have lots of pictures.

We put the car on the lift and took out what it didn't need. Glad to get rid of the IRS too.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:24 PM   #3
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

While I had zero plans to build any kind of a show winner, I did want to make what we were doing look nice. We took the car to a buddies body shop to have the firewall painted.

You can see the CPP engine stands I used for the engine mounting.

We also completely stripped the suspension for a rebuild and repaint.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:27 PM   #4
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Firewall came out decent enough for this car. We also added a Borgenson power steering gear box. You can see the painted engine in the back ground.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:33 PM   #5
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Replaced the IRS with a Ford 9 with new center section 3:70 and posi.

Bought leaf springs from CCI Ecklers in Florida. They were too soft and the car settled all the way down on the hangers under normal load. CCI was no help really, so I had St. Louis Spring company make a set with a 2 inch drop.

By the time I noticed the spring problem it was a Wednesday afternoon and the following Monday we were leaving for Iowa and South Dakota in the car.

St. Louis had the springs done and ready for me to pick up on Friday. They worked perfect!
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:46 PM   #6
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

The engine is a 5.3 from an 01 Silverado and we switched to a car intake for a better look in this car. I used the GM Performance Parts Corvette accessory drive package. The AC needed to be mounted high with KWIK brackets as it wouldn't clear the frame.

Bought a new Camaro pan and machined the sump area enough to clear the center link, then had aluminum plate welded on to close the hole we left. This was before Holley pans and I thought the S & P pan was too pricey.

We used Camaro exhaust manifolds and bought new heat shields from GM for a better look. Note, the little bolts that secure the heat shield were $10 apiece so don't lose them.

Don't have any pics of the 4L60E transmission but you know what one looks like.

Also remounted the steering tilt column with a new rag joint. I made a new base for the column before I figured out you could buy one.

I don't have any pic's of the VA unit going in though it was very slick.

And I moved the battery to the trunk.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:51 PM   #7
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Hauled the 56 to friends shop that talked me into doing the swap. He did a first class job on the PSI harness install and PCM tune. He also installed the Pypes stainless steel exhaust, and the Dakota Digital gauges.

I used a Spectra fuel injection tank from Rock auto. The Rock Auto guys were great when the sending unit and pump failed after 1,500 miles. We used an AC Delco pump and it has been fine for 3,500 miles now.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:58 PM   #8
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

After a little blood, lotta sweat and some money the car was ready for its maiden voyage.

We left on an 8 hour drive that first Monday of the trip with 40 shake down miles on the vehicle. It performed really well all through Iowa and into South Dakota then back home until the second trip to Indy when the fuel pump failed.

Like I mentioned, this car is only a 10 footer and it is a blast to drive. It handles well, stops decent with the Corvette master and four wheel disc brakes and gets lots of friendly waves plus thumbs up.
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:43 PM   #9
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Fun to drive.
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Old 12-07-2015, 12:08 AM   #10
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Thanks for posting. It is always good to see other projects.

Dwight
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Old 12-07-2015, 12:26 AM   #11
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

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Thanks for posting. It is always good to see other projects.

Dwight
Very welcome Dwight. We have lots of fun with this one.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:13 PM   #12
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Now this is a good thread too, although I got sidetracked looking at your Burb threads. I have been looking at Burbs some. We are HRPT Long Haulers form the past. I'm ready to do it again.

The Grandkids are the reason we got the Blazer and it has worked well. Our oldest daughter ane son in law have always ran with us. He has built some nice rides too. Work has gotten so crazy lately he doesn't have time to go.

When We lived in New Athens, IL in 1968 and 69 my dad had a 53 Burb. I worked on that thing a lot, but he sold it when we moved back here.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:31 PM   #13
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

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Now this is a good thread too, although I got sidetracked looking at your Burb threads. I have been looking at Burbs some. We are HRPT Long Haulers form the past. I'm ready to do it again.

The Grandkids are the reason we got the Blazer and it has worked well. Our oldest daughter ane son in law have always ran with us. He has built some nice rides too. Work has gotten so crazy lately he doesn't have time to go.

When We lived in New Athens, IL in 1968 and 69 my dad had a 53 Burb. I worked on that thing a lot, but he sold it when we moved back here.
Thanks Davischevy. Yeah, I have a thing for Burbs and tri-five Chevys. We bought the Burb for HRPT and also hoping the kids with grandkids would want to take it to shows. And we've had the 56 on parts of the HRPT for two years.

Cool thing they really enjoy it and has been good family time for all of us this summer.

I've noticed every where we go it is mostly middle age folks and older that gravitate to the 56 and younger folks really like the 72 Burb.

Here is when we took a run to Indy to an LS event.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:33 PM   #14
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

And here we are on the way back about 2 hours from home when the fuel pump provided with the Spectra fuel injection tank failed with 1,500 miles on it. That is my good friend that convinced me to swap to LS.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:40 PM   #15
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

The other issue with the Spectra tank was a persistent leak at the fuel sending unit. After several failed attempts, I learned over on the tri- five site a cork gasket is preferred, so I tried that this last spring. Also added new rubber coated washers for under the screws. Seems to have worked so far.

The B & M ratchet shifter is now on a parts shelf, replaced with a Lokar unit that works really well. The console is gone and we've been considering going back to a bench seat. Even bought one, though after stripping it down it is too rusty to use.
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Old 12-08-2015, 11:24 AM   #16
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Original Tri Five folding seats are hard to come by.

Have you ever done the Good Guys show at Des Moines? That is one of our favorites along with Cruisin the Coast.

If you make a show in southwest IL or southeast MO, let me know and we might try to make it. We don't go to compete, we just enjoy the people.
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Old 12-08-2015, 11:28 AM   #17
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

BTW; wife in the trunk and a friend that looks like you just ran over him. Am I sensing a theme with this car?
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Old 12-08-2015, 03:41 PM   #18
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

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Originally Posted by davischevy View Post
Original Tri Five folding seats are hard to come by.

Have you ever done the Good Guys show at Des Moines? That is one of our favorites along with Cruisin the Coast.

If you make a show in southwest IL or southeast MO, let me know and we might try to make it. We don't go to compete, we just enjoy the people.
Yep, if we do decide to go back to bench it will be a new one from Glide engineering.

We haven't done Des Moines though we have friends out there that go. It is too close to July 4th and family stuff back home.

Trophies...bah...we just like to meet people, look at and talk about cars. Would be cool to hook up!

Here is a shot of the event I busted butt to get this car ready for. A bunch of us made stops across IA and Sioux Falls SD over a week time. We had a great time back in 2012 on this one.
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Old 12-08-2015, 03:45 PM   #19
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

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BTW; wife in the trunk and a friend that looks like you just ran over him. Am I sensing a theme with this car?
LOL...could be!

It was funny when the fuel pump went out. Of course I had just filled the tank for the trip home. My first thought was where do I leave this while I go home for a truck and trailer.

My buddy, who is a class A Chevy tech, wondered where the closest parts store was. He wanted to drop the tank and fix it right there.

We used the truck and trailer!
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:10 PM   #20
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

I have an all original 71 SS 454 Chevelle. Last fall we decided to drive it to Cruisin' The Coast. Our friends had left early and we were going to hook up with them in Vicksburg. We were having a great time, stopped at Hoot's for Bar B Que in McGeehee then on down and hit I-20 in Tellulah, LA. Half way between Tellulah and Vicksburg the car just died. Not a good place to break down.

The story about how we got towed is a book in itself, but we got the car on a rollback and into Vicksburg and to a guy we found In the NSRA Fellowpages.

I was trying to figure out how to get the car home when I went down to the guys house the next morning. I pulled the air cleaner off and we were standing there wondering where to start. I said "it might start" and reached in and hit the key. It roared to life. I diagnosed it to be the coil and jumped in and ran to O'rielly.s.

We ended up staying in Vicksburg another day getting a wheel bearing changed on my buddies 55 Chevy and had one of the best days of the trip.
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Old 12-09-2015, 12:05 AM   #21
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

davischevy - good call on having AD starting this post!

Doug - Awesome!
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Old 12-09-2015, 12:22 AM   #22
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Nice job on the LS conversion. That has to be night and day difference..
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:09 AM   #23
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Davischevy -- Great story there...and in a 454 Chevelle to boot. You nailed it with the description of the challenges to get there. The journey is fun, even if a little nerve wracking at times. I just looked at the Fellowpages sitting on my desk today.

Wayne - it was a good idea Davis had. And it kept me from cluttering up your thread! I wish I had more pictures on this one and I was more focused on busting my butt to get it done on time. And thank you!

Thanks MP&C. The swap made a huge difference in enjoying the car. It won't win any trophies but it has sure won our hearts.

The friend I bought it from lives 5 hours away and he hadn't seen it for 12 years until this last August. We went for a little cruise, I nailed the throttle and he said he about wet himself. Plus he was grinning ear to ear. It never ever ran that good before.
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Old 12-09-2015, 10:32 AM   #24
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

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davischevy - good call on having AD starting this post!

Doug - Awesome!
I am thoroughly enjoying your "barn find" thread, but, I just thought this 56 deserved it's own.
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Old 12-09-2015, 11:01 AM   #25
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Re: 56 BelAir LS swap quick look

Thanks davischevy and I agree, AD's 1956 Chevy needs to be shared.
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