Jump to content
cowboydanny

31' 4 door sport sedan front end help

Recommended Posts

Working on our action plan for the 31. We plan on doing a restomod. Not chopping any body panels. We r putting a 350 crate engine in vs original inline 6.  Need to upgrade the front end. I would like to keep the solid front axle as it is in great condition. We have a Ford 9" rear end that is being cut down. Throw some suggestions our way please. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tired of these Ads? Register Today!

Hi, C.Danny,

     Since you rashly asked for suggestions, ..."I'm glad you asked!"  Unless you are "married" to the idea of a crate 350, (and who can really say anything against that choice, it is a good one),  I'd think hard about whether I'd be happier in the long run with a Chev 194-230-250-292 , or Pontiac 215, straight six in the '31. Pick your displacement for the power level/economy you want, (Leo Santucci gets close to Bugatti Veyron horsepower from his modified 292 in a 53 Studebaker drag racer, but he doesn't say anything about fuel economy.  Another guy runs mid -eight - second quarter miles with his, in a 36 Chev pickup.) and you'll find the six a more comfortable fit in the tall, narrow engine bay. These sixes are good, good looking, solid, torquey engines, and are appreciated and admired for the fact that they're not another run-of-the mill small block V8, used by everybody and his dog team. To get a bit more unusual, Pontiac's OHC straight sixes could be had with factory four barrel manifolds, which would enable the use of a carb or the FAST-type fuel injection. They're maybe not as handsome as the Chevys, though, so bear that in mind. Everybody will want to look at it, but they've already seen 4,772, 916.7 crate 350s. Ho hum. Intakes in different hot rod configurations are available for the Chev/Pontiac OHV sixes, too, as are headers, dual exhaust outlet manifolds, cams, shiny parts, - you know, your basic necessity extras. The sixes sound wonderful when equipped with dual exhaust - just You Tube "straight six dual exhaust" for a listen. Warning - this could strongly influence your decision.

     You don't mention transmission preference or axle ratio, (or budget) but if you contemplate cruising, a five-speed, maybe even six speed, manual, or an overdrive-equipped automatic, and a low numerical axle ratio (such as 2.73:1) make for a calmer highway experience than other choices. Been there. 

     I have no experience with  solid front axles, but I understand that they can be made civilized for current highway cruising speeds. I like the idea of using yours - they look good. The Speedway Motors catalogs have interesting tips on them, mostly in regard to cars wearing that obscene four letter F word you used about your 9" rear end. Pity, that. But the info would apply to your almost-as-good-as-a-Pontiac car. Hope you have a ball with your project. Work safely. (Takes way less time to protect yourself than it does to heal.)

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C. Danny,

     Where did I get the strange idea that your '31 is a Chev? Not from your post. Excuse me for the cruel injustice. Must be the "inline six" bit. If you'd said "flathead six", I may have caught on - or not.

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen you know what they say about a picture... Well here's the six.

IMG_0616.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here is the eight. The weekend before we bought this car we met an older gentleman that had a 26 Buick with a 350 in it, which fit beautifully in it. There is plenty of room under the hood. Nothing wrong with 6's I have a 4.3 with laker pipes it sounds great, but since I own the 350 already I'm gonna stay that route. But thanks. And once I have this restored I think people will be more impressed with fact that a 31 Pontiac does exist! 

IMG_20150715_170838.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have to check on transmission either turbo 350 or 200. Need to look at the pan if I can get in that corner of my garage.

Edited by cowboydanny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you've made the decision to keep the Chevy V8, if you plan any sort of distance driving an overdrive tranmission (manual or automatic) is a must for fuel economy sake. Stephen's comments about high rear axle ratio (which are numerically lower - a 2:73:1 is higher than a 3.73:1 - not intuitively obvious) are also correct to help in the mileage department, it just won't help you off the line at the local street light.

Also are you going to install some sort of front disk brake conversion for the front to help stopping power? I have a friend with a '35 Ford that we have installed a conversion kit from Speedway Motors.

I mention that since he also runs a 3" lowered straight axle. There are shocks also mounted on it to smooth out the ride. Here is an early picture of the front suspension before he went to the lowered straight axle. This is the stock straight axle.

 

 

 

HPIM2906.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perfect hopefully we can find them for this axle as well. I'll check them out.

We are going for a family cruiser. This will be my wife's car that she plans on driving kids to school in on nice days. Yup she's pretty awesome. She has requested shoulder belts as well if we can.

The next issue to resolve will be the steering anyone have tips on what to look for in that  department. We were given a camaro steering column/wheel with car. But not sure if we'll use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For hot rods, the Vega or Corvair steering boxes are pretty standard, no power steering typically with straight axles.

Camaro column is okay but it may or may not fit your car. Ididit and Flaming River both have columns both column and console shift if you need them, with tilt and telescoping features.

Edited by Frosty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did a little dirty work tonight. Took about #30 of dirt out from under hood. And took a front wheel and hub off. Bearings look good. But most people I've talked to so far say they don't think I'll be able to get new spindles for it and that I should just put a different front und under it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Dan,

     Only 30 lbs of dirt under the hood? That Pontiac has led a sheltered life, hasn't it? I noticed in the engine picture that the six has two cylinder heads - just like your 4.3 and your 350! Or not quite. You must have a problem with the spindles, that you're thinking of new ones. As I said earlier, I have no experience with solid axle front ends. But I wonder, if you still want to stick with the solid axle, whether compatible spindles would be available from places like Speedway Motors. Their catalogs give dimensions you could compare to your Pontiac's. Thinking of driving the car, the tilt steering column is a great feature, just supposing that Mrs. Danny occasionally lets you in the driver's seat, and your dimensions don't exactly match hers. (As to arm length, I mean.) As to non -power vs. power steering, you have to choose your pain. My '53, at over 3600 lbs, was no picnic to steer when I got it, ("No job for a lady" - forgive the incorrectness) and I put power steering on it. Your '31 is lighter, I imagine. The power steering boxes are always bigger and heavier, and there are mounting, hose routing, and pump/belt clearance considerations, but the end result is a nicer driver. A serpentine belt/bracket setup is likely available for your engine, if there's enough under hood room. Lots to think about. But what fun!

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speedway has told me no conversion available for Pontiac. And chevs of the 40s said well Pontiacs were a separate brand at the time so he doubted any Chevy parts would fit. He could be right about parts I don't know, but Pontiac always has been GM I know that. 

Our spindles seem ok, need to be cleaned up. but I thought if we can't find conversion the next step would be new spindles or whole new axle. I'd still like to keep what we have and just replace as little as possible. Steering will take a couple swivels to get It done but it does fit. I've seen it at a local show.

IMG_20150627_195023106_HDR.jpg

Edited by cowboydanny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Danny, 

     Oooh, yeah, that looks great. Is that the 26 Buick you mentioned seeing? What a nice setup! Power steering and everything. I think I see a transmission throttle valve cable at the carb - the lower one - so he's using an automatic. Either he's running two V8s, back to back, or that firewall's CHROME!  Gotta git me one of those. (It'll never happen.) I'm hoping, but not sure, that your engine bay is as wide as the one shown.  Buick,  Olds and Pontiac shared quite a bit by the time they made mine, but I don't know when they started. What you really need to know are  the dimensions - for instance, height of your axle at the king pin hole, king pin diameter, bolt pattern of your spindle to backing plate bolt holes, and sizes of the spindle itself - length and diameters at the bearings. Knowing what you've got, you can intelligently check what suppliers have, whether new, used, Hudson, Corvette, (they  used king pins  up to '62) or ...

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes that's the Buick with a Ford Econoline I-beam front axle and chrome firewall I'm thinking diamond plate firewall my self.

I just want to say thank you to you guys right now. Please keep tips coming and I'll keep posts updated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you may need to find someone who does custom CNC work to make you a custom spindle conversion that mounts to the Pontiac axle/kingpin to (say) a Chevy or Corvette rotor. It won't be cheap, but it maybe cheaper in the long run if you can use Chevy brake parts.

The alternative would be to switch to a Chevy or Ford axle....parish the thought.

Honestly, I would think a competent machine shop be able to fab something up in a piece of steel for you in almost no time for under $500 for the pair. You might have to leave them your axle and perhaps a Chevy rotor and bearings.

Edited by Frosty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan, 

     There are disc brake conversions out there, at a price, for later Pontiacs - Starbird comes to mind as one source. I wonder if the spindle-to-backing plate bolt pattern changed from the '31 to the '40 Pontiac. (Lower control arms from '52 Buick Specials interchange with '40 Buick Specials, so maybe Pontiac didn't change dimensions back then just for the fun of it, like manufacturers seem to do now.) The toughest part in the disc brake conversion, I think, is the caliper mounting bracket, the next being the inner bearing fit to the spindle. Kit suppliers have designed the brackets, and spacers for the bearings, to adapt common (often Chevy) calipers, rotors, and bearings to the spindles. Pictures of the brackets, in catalogs and on websites, tease me with the possibility of making them up from flat stock. Cutting torch, grinder, welder, drill press, tap set - how hard can it be? (Said the guy who has only thought about it.) Probably need to decide first on the rotor size, and caliper. Inexpensive trial fits could be done with used parts, and pipe/tube for trial bearing spacers. Sound like fun?

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan,  Just for the halibut, since you've got a drum off, why don't we compare your spindle/backing plate bolt pattern with my '53's? Wanna?

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slapped her back together that same day, but I'm sure I can still do that next time I go out there. Need to put a neutral safety switch and tie rod sleeve on our 1960 El Camino. so that will be doable while I'm working on that too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Danny, 

     I measured the spindle/backing plate bolt pattern on my 53 Pontiac at 4 1/4 vertical and 3 1/4 horizontal. So you can compare yours, if you're so inclined. 

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I Started tearing apart the 31. Got the dash out, hood off, rat off, fender wheel locks off and 75% of the fender bolts removed. 

IMG_20160820_120004120.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Danny, Sounds like fun, except the 25% of fender bolts that didn't come. I see the nose of what I'm guessing is the El Camino - great color, but I don't see any oxy/acetylene or oxy/propane tanks. Heat is a great persuader, when available, for stubborn fasteners. Have you seen the inductive coils used for heating seized fasteners?  I haven't, only on video. Looks amazing, and no flame or tanks or hoses  or fuel cost or rental. Or helmets or bulky gloves or wayward sparks or tip cleaning. But probably more limited, in what they can reach, than a torch.  

Looks like lots of free space on your firewall for creativity. Master cylinder, heater hoses, windshield washer fluid reservoir, A/C filter/dryer/accumulator, mural, graffiti...

Watch out for that tear in the fender - it looks like it wants to tear clothes and hurt people.

Has Mrs. Danny said yet what color you want it? Was it dark blue or black to begin with?

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didnt have the rest of bolts out cause I ran out of time that day. They are just small 1/4 bolts and easily accessible so I'll likely just cut the off. The main ones came right apart. Amazing how good old steel is. 

Car was black from the few places with paint left. We are doing antique white w/blue fenders and running boards and a blue accent stripe that climbs up to roof. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

 

Edited by cowboydanny
Wrong topic moved to my main build page

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Dan,

     That 350 sure looks as if it could motivate the Pontiac along, if it really had to. Nice to see some progress. Is the rear end you're planning on using wider or narrower than stock? I'm taking a guess that the original Pontiac wheels won't work with it - might have trouble with the torque the 350 puts out, even if they fit. Plus they need tubes, and are narrow.  What are you planning to use for wheels?  Maybe wheels with different offsets are available to accommodate the  different differential width, if that proves too snug either way.  I see the post "Wrong topic moved to my main build page" - how do I find that?

Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2017 at 3:22 PM, Stephen Young said:

Hi, Dan,

     That 350 sure looks as if it could motivate the Pontiac along, if it really had to. Nice to see some progress. Is the rear end you're planning on using wider or narrower than stock? I'm taking a guess that the original Pontiac wheels won't work with it - might have trouble with the torque the 350 puts out, even if they fit. Plus they need tubes, and are narrow.  What are you planning to use for wheels?  Maybe wheels with different offsets are available to accommodate the  different differential width, if that proves too snug either way.  I see the post "Wrong topic moved to my main build page" - how do I find that?

Stephen

Stephen see link i just added above. I am using a 4wd s10 rearend that had disc brakes and limited slip. It is only 2" wider than my stock unit. So 1" conversion plate on the fronts will maker line up. For now i have some ar-762 rims but there is a company that builds new rims to look like originals and even fit original center caps. That is the end goal. Like to build a skinny set that will fit in fenders as well as full size yet skinny donuts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Tired of these Ads? Purchase Enhanced Membership today to remove them!
×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.