Banana Bracket Weld, Fuel Tank, Vapor Canister, Fuel Lines, E-Brake Cables, Rear Brake Lines, Reservoir Lines

   Posted by: kdavis

Long Holiday Weekend = Lots of Progress!

Banana Bracket Weld

After really doing some research on this whole weld-or-not-weld thing with the 3-link upper (banana bracket) bracket, I decided to go ahead and weld it in.

Thanks to a nice mig/flux core welder loan from my brother in law, I was able to weld in the bracket, so no more worries there, and I can add as much horsepower as I want. Having never welded before, the welds are butt ugly, but I ground them down, and they are good welds from a structural standpoint. A little grinding and some paint, and they actually look fine. If I were fussier, I could have cleaned them up even more with the grinder, but I chose not to. Other than one missing bolt that’ll be here Friday, and the final adjustments, the 3-link is now officially installed.


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Rear Brake Lines and Reservoir Tubes:

Once the 3-link was in, I could mount up the rear calipers and discs and finish up running my rear brake lines. I took some time pondering the routing, especially from the master cylinder down to the 4″ tube, and think I found a good route that will be hidden and look nice and clean.

I ended up doing a couple of double flairs on my own tubes (left over bits that I had broken from a longer bit), so I was able to get the lines right where I wanted them. I’m still waiting on my bulkheads (the part between the flex line and the hard line), and I need one coupler, then it’ll all be done and ready to bleed. I ordered a self-bleeding kit from harbor freight that another forum member recommended. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed for no leaks.

I also measured and trimmed up the rubber hoses from the master cylinder to the remote reservoirs in their new permanent position. The fittings on the m/c are simply pressure fit, so a little work with a pair of pliers helps get them into the desired position. I left a nice loop, cut them to size, and clamped everything down.

Note about caliper positions: I found it suggested on the forum that you put the calipers on the front of the discs (vs. the rear as my pics show.) This is apparently more suited for IRS applications, and I found it unnecessary. This was especially true given that I already had my differential cover on, and filled, and swapping the brackets side to side would have been a HUGE pain. If you want to put them there, MAKE SURE you do it before you put the axles in since you have to switch the brackets.


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E-Brake Cables:

The emergency/parking brake cables are a bit of a pain, but nothing that couldn’t be dealt with. I’m currently just planning on using the standard parking brake position. Everyone complains about it since you can’t get to the brake while you’re strapped in, but frankly, I kind of like it out of the way, and I don’t really want to drop another $200 on a lokar handle, new boot, and all of that. Additionally, I like the idea of having my transmission tunnel top as clean as possible.

The main issue I had with the cables was a lack of c-clips for them, and the fact that the whole they run through in the caliper was too deep to get a clip on anyway. I took the grinder and opened up the notch a bit, and then fabricated my own c-clips with some washers. More work than I thought, but better than a trip all the way into town. They’ll work fine just like this.


Fuel Tank and Fuel Lines:

I had already painted the fuel tank cover with some rubberized undercoating, so it looks pretty OEM, and should blend in nicely underneath the car. The install wasn’t bad, but I didn’t realize most guys are using a spacer on the passenger side strap because it’s simply too short to work effectively. After a little rework loosening the bolt, and then some more of my handy galvanize pipe, and I had a nice spacer that worked fine. I elected to use longer bolts as well, which made getting the nuts on easier as well.

The whole process went pretty easily as well thanks to the old standby ratcheting straps (you can use those things for anything,) and the lift.

All of the fittings went in pretty well, although as others have encountered, my fuel pick up tube was a little long. I put a small s-bend in it to take up some slack, and all was well with it.


Full Album

DIY “Vapor Canister” for the Fuel Vent:

The fuel tank has a one-way valve for pressure release and to make sure you can put fuel in it with back pressure. Since I’m running a carb setup, there’s no return line, and some have reported getting some gas smell from this fitting. The solution that others have used is to put a charcoal filter on the end of this line to capture the vapors. I followed suit. Since I had seen anything from a cheap fuel filter, a keychain air filter, and a pipe-bomp looking sprinkler head setup, I figured pretty much anything goes. I had a GM fuel filter that had the wrong fittings on it laying around (wrong for the suburban), so I figured it would be perfect. I was also fortunate in finding parts to an old ice maker that had the exact size tubing and ports I needed, as well as an o-ring and even mounting holes. All I had to do was cut off one fitting, fill it with charcoal from an aquarium filter, and I was good to go. It should work perfectly.


Fuel Lines:

For the EFI guys or guys running an electric fuel pump in the tank, the preferred route for fuel lines is just opposite of the rear brake lines, running on the passenger 4″ main tube.

I’m running a carb with a mechanical fuel pump (on the driver’s side), so I decided to run mine on the same side as the brake lines, and ran down the driver’s side 4″ tube, just on the outside of the brake lines. I then crossed along the main brace behind the bulkhead. I connected this to the flexible rubber line, and anchored everything down with clamps. It’s not as pretty as some others I’ve seen, but it’s all hidden anyway, and should work fine, and it is well protected.

On the engine side, I basically just bent around the 4″ tube, then came up, and pointed right at the location of the fuel pump. I’ll just jump that gap with a small piece of flexible fuel hose (same as at the tank side.)

I still need to trim up the new OEM style fuel filler hose and put on the FFR rubber connector (to accommodate a different angel to the filler on top of the body.


Next Steps:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my engine parts show up this week, and I know the last of the brake parts will be here. I plan on getting the brake system finished and bled next weekend, which means the tires and wheels can go on, and she’ll be a roller!

If the engine parts show up, I might start working in that direction, but it’s more likely I’ll concentrate on starting the wiring since it’s easier when everything is out of the way. With no EFI/Computer to worry about, the engine bay stuff is pretty straight forward, so I can run the front end items without the engine in.

As always, all pics can be found here:

3 Link Retro Fit Install, Last Step for Compressor Enclosure, Remote Brake Reservoir Mount

   Posted by: kdavis

I’m finding it’s great to do this blog entries, it gives me a chance to look back and get a real sense of what I got done over the weekend. I was thinking I didn’t get a lot, but looking back now, it was a pretty big weekend.

I had hoped to get both the 3-link installed and the fuel tank up, but alas, just the 3-link is in now…but…THE 3 LINK is IN NOW! ;-> That’s pretty exciting.

I’m learning more and more that with each step of this project, there’s always a step 1, step 2, etc, and between each of those, there’s this whole other set of steps a-z required to get it done. In the case of the 3-link, it involved modifying the chassis, fabricating my own spacers from pipe, a couple of trips to the hardware store (10 miles away), and some creative use of an angle grinder, drill, and ratcheting tie downs.

3-Link Install (Retrofit – Frame Mods not FFR Installed)

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The kit can be ordered from FFR directly for $550 plus shipping ($40 for me, the bracket comes in a HUGE box. It’s important to note that they also send you a battery relocation kit, additional limiting straps, and new axle mounts. In my case, none of this was needed since I had them all with my new kit, and at least for me, the brackets were the same (not sure why, the kit was ordered with 4-link.)

There is a great set of instructions from HOZR on the 3 link installation here. There are some missing pieces to it due to some changes, but it’s way better than the FFR instructions, which are also outdated. This document doesn’t reference the steps required for retrofitting a car that was originally setup for 4-link, either on the road, or new from the factory (like mine).

The pictures I used most, which were awesome were found here.

Between those 2, if you’re looking for instructions on installing your 3-link, you should be pretty well covered. The following were missing or different with my configuration, and probably for others whose car is originally setup for a 4-link solid axle:

1) Upper Control Arm Mounts – If you’re thinking about ordering a 4-link with the prospect of maybe going 3 link later…save yourself some trouble and just go 3-link. This was probably the hardest part of the process, and also made me a little sad cutting up very nice welds and powercoating. You have to remove the upper control arm mounting bracket completely. The FFR instructions and other pics I’ve seen for the retro kit show the upper arm bracket for the 3 link as the old style, which just had the 2 bolts for the down-bracket. The new style weld in and retro bracket also attaches to the passenger side frame for additional lateral support. This means all of the 4-link bracket has to come out, and the welds ground down flat.

The main issue I faced was trying to get an angle grinder to the welds with a cut off wheel. My sawzall is an 18v rechargeable, but my metal blades weren’t sharp enough (too lazy to make another trip to the store). I ended up cutting the main parts out, then going back and cutting the smaller stuff out, then following again with the grinding wheel. Took me a couple of hours to get it all done and ready to go. I can’t imagine doing this while laying on the ground, and I was especially thankful for the lift.

I was originally going to take the DS one out too, but after all that, I’ll just use it for mounting position for brake and fuel lines, etc.


2) Retrofit Bracket Installation – (this bracket is actually very well designed, and bolted up very easily, probably the easiest part of the whole prcess.) The instructions from the websites above are for cars that already have the main 3-link bracket installed, so they didn’t account for the installation of the 3 link bracket. This was actually pretty straight forward, but a couple of gotchas here as well:

a. Leave on the upper bolt locations (trunk area), it’s best to leave the front bolts out while you get the 4″ frame connection marked and drilled. This allows you to rotate the bracket against the 4″ tube, mark, then drill, then rotate back to bolt in. You can then easily put the other bolts in. The instructions say not to tighten these at that time, which I didn’t, but after it was all said and done, I didn’t really see why this was true, so either way could probably work.

b. I found it helpful to run a ratcheting strap around the 4″ tube bracket bolt location so I could force it into position to mark it. This allows you to get it into a position so you have easy access underneath for the nut, etc.


3) Banana Bracket Brace Pumpkin Hole and Bolt – That sounds like a messed up Thanksgiving dish… ;-> This is a common issue, but the hole in the pumpkin (if provided by Ford) don’t always line up with the brace from the banana bracket. It’s very easy to solve, all you have to do is enlarge the hole. The supplied allen head bolt is also both wimpy, and too sort. I just replaced it with a longer and better bolt.

4) Upper Banana Bracket Brace – Not really an issue for me, but worth noting. This is somewhat of a debated topic, both whether you must weld the banana bracket into the axle tube and/or add an upper brace to keep the bracket from slipping. For relatively low HP cars like mine, the brace and sandwich force should prove sufficient, but you can either fabricate a brace, or buy a nice heim-jointed one from VPM. It connects from the pumpkin ears to the banana bracket where the upper link connects (via a longer bolt.) It’s $115 though. The prototype for this was made from steel stock, however, so it might be possible to do that cheaper. I’m considering this still and talking to my buddy Mike about it since he’s had the 3 link on his car for 5 years now.

5) Shock Spacers – There are spacers used for the panhard bar and upper link that are included. My shocks (coil overs) also needed spacers (all do), but they didn’t come with them. So, I made my own. I went down to the hardware store and picked up a 12″ piece of 1/2″ steel pipe, and measured and cut it to size. I also beveled the ends where they connected to the heim joints to prevent binding. I made 8 of them for $3, so can’t beat that.


6) Limiting Strap – it seems that depending on your shock choice, these may or may not be needed. In my case, on the driver’s side, when the shocks were at full extension, the axle was actually resting on the 3-link bracket. Not a huge deal when your slowly lowering it on a lift, but a pretty big one if you happen to get airborne and it slams into it at full force. Unlikely, but since I had the strap, an easy solution. I used the upper shock mount bolt, then I used the original 4-link bracket itself as mounting points. I lifted the axle to the position I wanted (about 1/4″ of clearance so I could maximize suspension travel) with the ratcheting strap, and drilled and bolted it in. The space between the bracket and axle tube was too small, so I bent it out a bit, just enough for a nut. Then, I cut a bolt short to fit perfectly, and it all went in great.


Other than that, between the FFR manual, HOZR’s pdf, and the items above, the 3-link is pretty straight forward.

Final Product:

Again, all of the pics are here:

3 Link Install Pics

Brake Reservoir Mounting Bracket

I decided I simply didn’t like having my brake fluid reservoirs on the firewall. They just didn’t look right there, and I was worried they’d ultimately be in the way. So, after looking around, it seemed the next best location was right in front of the driver’s foot box. So, a very easy mod, measure and bend a piece of strong aluminum, drill a couple of holes in the 3/4″ tube, and there you go (of course, wait for the paint to dry too!)

I made mine so I can unbolt the assembly if I need to, even with the body on, and just used some screws and nuts to hold it in place. It’ll work fine, and I like how the tubes from the master cylinder to the reservoirs are short and easy to route.


Air Compressor Sound Abatement Enclosure – Final Addition

It occurred to me that in order to easily check and change the oil, and to clean the air filters on the air compressor, it would be way easier to have a trap door on the upper front panel. So, I took the panel off, took the jigsaw to it, added an old frilly draw pull and a couple of hinges, and there you go, instant trap door. So, the enclosure is officially completed now.


This is Thanksgiving week, and other than t-day itself, I’ll be here at the house by myself with the mutts, so I’m looking forward to continuing the build. Next on the list will be putting the rear brakes on, getting the fuel tank assembled and installed, and then running the rear brake lines and fuel lines. I’d love to have this all done this week. We’ll see how it goes. Mike Forte is supposed to be sending the rest of the engine parts, so before you know it, the engine will also be in!

New Air Compressor and Sound Abatement Enclosure

   Posted by: kdavis

Finally found a nice 60 gallon air compressor (Husky 3.2HP 60 Gallon from Home Depot, made by Campbell Hausfeld) for a decent price, so Kenzie and I got up way early on Saturday morning and made a 6 hour round trip up to Great Falls and back to pick it up.

The guy had been using it for a couple of months, so it’s basically a new unit. I changed the oil, cleaned the filters, hooked it into the Rapid Air system and fired it up. WOW, that thing is LOUD! Bummer. But, it seems unless you drop about $3k on a 2-stage very low rpm commercial air compressor, this is just the nature of the best. I had set my expectations too high.

Never fear, though, it’s nothing a few hours and some scrap lumber and carpet can’t fix!

Having already built a sound abatement enclosure for my generator, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to build for the compressor, so I went to work.

My major failure in my plan was that I neglected to account for the tank itself, and it’s ability to act as a giant speaker. Although I had enclosed the head unit of the compressor, which is the source of the noise, the tank itself actually transmitted that noise even with the head enclosed.

So…back to the drawing board and a full enclosure was built.

Here’s the summary of the final product. I am very happy with it, and glad it won’t make me pee myself every time the compressor kicks on.

I would call this a major victory.

Noise Reduction = SUBSTANTIAL

Cost - $0.00 (if you had to buy all new lumber, I’d figure 3-4 8′ 2×4′s and 2 sheets of 1/2″ 4×8 OSB, plus some 3″ and 1″ wood screws.)

Time – 3 hours (including rework, if i had done it right in the first time, it would have taken 2 or less.)

I finished up the rest of the enclosure last night, and tested it out. I’ll put all three videos in here just for easy comparison, but man, what a difference.

Knowing what I know now, the best way to build this out is to frame from ground to a couple of feet above the compressor head. If you’ve got the ceiling room for it, the easiest way would be to just use all 8′ pieces. Mine is in the corner, so it limits the back lumber.

All wood surfaces are lined with old carpet (which you can get free, check craigslist, or just call your local store, and go pick some up at the next install). I put in a trap door so I can still get to my drain. The floor is also sitting on a big piece of carpet and then additional pieces under each foot. The only surface not covered are the 2 wall surfaces.

The top has a hole cut out for the 110v kiosk fan, and I have holes for my Rapid Air piping. The fan runs all the time, but I’ll probably just unplug it unless I’m going to be doing a lot of work and the compressor will be kicking on and off. For a basic refill, it’s totally unnecessary.


Video: – Video camera is the same, with some variance in the distance.

No Enclosure:

Head Only Enclosure:

Full Enclosure:

Summit Heater, Breeze EzePak Cool/Radiator

   Posted by: kdavis

As I continue to do a bit of workaround while I wait for my engine parts and 3-link to arrive (ordered last week…happy birthday to me,) I am working my way around various parts of the car.

This weekend, I started the Summit Heater install. There are several heater options for this car, from hot rod heaters to a couple of variations on the factory five heater. I elected to go with one from Summit Racing, which has almost 2x the reported heat output (28k btu’s) and it’s roughly the same size. The only downside with this option is the lack of dedicated defrost vents, but nothing that can’t be corrected with some creative ducting.

I haven’t seen many write ups for the summit install, so I thought I’d be a little more detailed on it for those that might need the info.


Here’s the heater I bought:

It’s actually on sale right now, $15 off.

And the Duct kit:

Step 1 – Cutting the Hole

My first heater choice was the old-style FFR heater. After cutting the hole out of the firewall, I decided to switch to a higher output one, which meant I thought I had some patchwork to do.

Surprisingly, the hole needed for the summit heater is almost identical to the one for the FFR one, so no patching or cutting was needed. If you do need to cut the hole, simply locate it on the passenger side, check for clearance for the dash side of the heater box, mark, measure, and cut the hole.

Step 2 – Disassemble Heater Halves, Add Weather Stripping

The heater comes in 2 parts, the big heat exchange box, and the blower assembly. There are many ways to install these, but with the limited behind-the-dash room, the best procedure seems to replicate the FFR heater, which is to split the 2 sections of the heater assembly with the exchange in the dash side, and the blower on the engine side, with the firewall sandwiched in between them.

I was concerned that the plastic-to-aluminum seal wasn’t going to be very good, so I elected to use some weather stripping around both sides where the heater halves contacted the firewall. This should make for a better seal and help to keep the crud out of the cockpit as well. I had to replace the included screws with longer ones, as the weather stripping made it another 3/8″ bigger gap.


Step 3 – Mark and Drill Mounting and Plumbing Holes

I just measured the holes from the through hole location, which worked fine. In retrospect, I think it would be easier to use a cardboard cut out as a template for all of the mounting holes and through hole. Cut and drill out the holes, transfer to the firewall and cut and drill there.

Step 4 – Mount Heater to Firewall

The lower part of the heater is held in place with a slide-in bracket. I found it easier to mount the dash-side heater exchange with this bracket first, then add the rest of the blower assembly after.


Step 5 – Wiring, Controls, Plumbing (see later post)

Once the engine is in, I can complete the plumbing of the heater, and the controls and wiring will be completed following dash installation. I’ll add more about that later.

Breeze Automotive EzePak Cool Radiator Installation

Rather than try to piece together a bunch of parts for the cooling system, I took the relatively easy way out and bought a full cooling system kit from Breeze. This kit is awesome, and installation was straight forward, parts are quality, and everything fits well together.

This is the kit I’m using:

The kit comes with pretty much everything you need, from the radiator and shroud, all the way down to the rivets. The only thing you need to complete it is an electric fan, which comes with the FFR kit, or can be purchased separately.

The install is fairly detailed, so I won’t go into it too much here. I still need to finish up the lower adjustable mount that came with it this week. This is a huge helper in the install as the other mounting method requires you to use temporary zip ties and finish the install later once the body is one. With the lower support kit, the radiator assembly is part of the chassis, so go-karting can be done with all parts permanently installed.


Decisions on Interior:

I also made a fairly important decision on the interior this week. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to go with the stock black interior or to spend the money on upgrading to tan.

I did some more research this week, actually found a great alternative…two tone tan and black. Randy (chevycobra) did this in his interior, and I think it actually looks pretty cool. It’s something a little different, and because I’m already in need of carpet (with the footbox mods, I can’t use the stock stuff), there’s a “savings” of about $500-$600 in going this way (not using new seat covers, new dash, and tranny cover material.)

I’m still exploring my options for door panels, and may end up making my own, we’ll see about that. I like Herb’s door panels, but I’m not sure if the tan he offers is the color I’m looking for.

Randy’s Car:

Front Brake Lines Installed, Side Pipes Painted

   Posted by: kdavis

With the Halloween weekend, not much progress, but did manage to get the front brake lines installed, which included a fairly complex set of bends to get the 60″ brake line from one side of the car to the other.

I got a little fancy and tried too many bends, so consequently, I broke the first line. I can pick up an extra one locally, so not a big deal, and the 2nd one went in without nearly as much frustration.

I also got my side pipes painted with Rustoleum Ultra BBQ paint. It’s more of a satin/semi gloss finish than the flat black, and looks awesome. It’s almost a perfect match to the black powder coating on the chassis and the roll bars too. So much so, I actually did some touch up work on the DS roll bar. It had some marks on it from shipping boxes. It all looks great.

Next will be the rear brake lines and fuel lines. It might be time to put the car up on the lift so I can run those a little easier, and I can also finish up the foot box bottoms from underneath.