JP75

1953 Pontiac Chieftain 4 Door

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Okay so my timing is of a little bit. It took a little longer than I thought to get the frame painted. I went with the POR15 system and so far I am impressed. The first major part done I can not wait to start on another part. I think I am going to work on the leaf springs and the rear axle next.

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I made some more progress i wish it could go faster but, with the long hours at work and the hunny do list the Pontiac has to wait. I have the left rear spring completely taken apart. The metal gators were a bit of a challenge the metal is not very thick and I was afraid I might mess them up. Once I figured out how they work they came off fairly easy. The ends were packed full of Moore County sand. Old hard grease and sand kind of make a concrete rock that I basically had to beat off the spring at the ends of each gator. I cleaned up all the leafs and they look okay a little bit of rust on the trailing end and some very shallow grooves I will have to sand out but other than that I am very happy with there condition. I do have two questions for the Pontiac enthusiasts. In the 2nd picture there is what looks to be burlap rapped around the spring. Is this burlap? If not what is the fabric and were can I get more? The last picture of the clean springs they look to be painted blue. Is this an illusion or were they really painted blue? I was thinking about painting them black but, when ever I get the chance to be authentic I do try. Okay that was 3 questions.

One last thing I do not have a picture of it but, it is the best $7.00 I have ever spent and I want to share. I as watching a You tube video of a guy restoring a 1941 Plymouth (may be a different year) and he showed a crock pot he had filled with Marine Clean and water a 1-1 mix. He was putting dirty greasy parts in it turned it on and walked away for about an hour and when they came out he washed them off with water and they were clean. I had to try this I found an old large crock pot at Goodwill and I have been cleaning parts ever since. I'm sold any time not spent with rags, wire brushes, cleaning chemicals and spending hours cleaning parts is a win for me.

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Hi it has been a while since my last post. Work has been made I have been cleaning and painting brackets for the frame that will never see light again once the body is back one. A lot of work but has to be done. I have completed a task I was dreading I have removed and installed all 6 of the rear spring bushings. It turned out to be fairly easy.

The right rear leaf spring is back together and on the frame the left spring is painted and once I have the gaiters cleaned it will be completed and can be put back on the frame.

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The rear axle is almost back together. I just finished painting the axle housing. The hogs head has a new pinion seal and has been painted orange. It seems a bit strange but when I cleaned all the crud off of it there was a lot of orange paint left. The manual makes mention that this gear ratio is also marked with orange paint so it’s orange. Once the axle is mounted back on the frame I am going to take another shot at pulling out the axle seals. Hopefully with the axle stationary I'll be able to break them loose.

The bearings and ring gear are all in great shape. Some of the joys of having a low mileage car. I am still debating the axle bearings only because they are sealed. They seem to be fine from the smooth constant resistance. I think the grease has not hardened but I cannot be sure. I am open to the opinions and experiences of others on this topic.

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Ugh!!!!! Working on my last leaf spring and the last spring clamp tab broke off. Not going to be able to install the left spring this week end. I have spent the last hour looking on line for a replacement with no luck. Lots of replacements but, nothen like the original. Does any body have one laying around they would be willing to sell? I'll post a picture later tonight. If not I guess the search will begin or I'll end up making a replacement. Oh and did I mention Ugh!!!

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Well I think I have decided to make a replacement. It doesn't seem to be too complicated. Hopefully the local home improvement box store has the correct thickness of metal required or it will have to wait till next week to get to a metal supplier. post-88992-143142159414_thumb.jpg

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There are tons of those clips on Ebay, but I am sure that your local NAPA can easily get them for you. They just need to know the spring size, L/W, that you are looking to wrap.

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Ah progress. I know it's not much the first major parts are back together.

The hogs head is not permanently back on yet I still need to locate a inch pound torque wrench that can measure 10-12 inch pounds. These things seem to be a rare as hens teeth. I have only found them on the web and they are not cheep. I replaced the pinion seal and in my great wisdom I forgot to mark the nut so now I have to be extra careful to get the preload correct or I see a major rebuild in the future. Right now it is just tight enough to take the slack out. The manual gives directions on how to do this with the added step of marking the nut prior to the removal so I am going to take this very slow and tighten and test until the torque wrench reads 10-12 inch pounds while rotating the pinion.

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It has been one those weeks it seems like everything I touch goes to pot. Sorry no new pics. Parts I thought were good have turned out not to be so good. I have a bushing that will not torque down on the left upper control arm. It appears it had broken loose at some time and the hole is now larger than the bushing. Good news is I have a lead on a used part and may be able to pick it up this Saturday. The worst has ended up being my differential. I broke down and purchased a inch pound torque wrench and slowly set the Pinion preload. However this went horribly wrong. I have the rotating drag at 10-12 inch pounds using the old bearings like the book states however it did not turn smoothly it felt very choppy and clicked. So I took it all apart. Turns out I have two bearings that have pits (not the cause of the choppy turning and clicking) in the rollers and now the biggest concern is the crush sleeve I can not find a replacement. I could use some good advise on locating a new pinion compression sleeve and if they are not available what other options do I have. I am sure GM had to share this part on something else? One last thing does anybody who lives near Winston-Salem NC know of a shop that is good with old diffs.

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Things are starting to head back in the right direction again. My last two hurdles I spoke about on my last post have been resolved. I was able to locate a replacement upper control arm at a local salvage yard. Its not as nice as my original but, at least the bushing will tighten. I consider that a win.

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I re-installed the hogs head today hopefully for the last time. I will have to wait till the car is back together and can go for a road test to know for sure if I got it right. For a part I was not planning on rebuilding I ended up having to take completely apart to replace two bearings and the crush sleeve. So far I think I got it right.

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It is great when things come together. I am following your progress closely. I am doing a '52 Catalina, and you are a few steps ahead of me. I can watch your progress much like an instruction manual. Good stuff!

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Hi I need some advise in regards to shocks. I have been taking advantage of some of the nicer days this winter am hopefully going to be completed with the chassis this spring and I have started looking at shocks. I had a bad experience with the local parts store with my wifes van and when I have the Pontiac back on the road it will be to late to return them if I do not like them. I am afraid they will be too soft(problem with van) or way to stiff hurting the ride I have heard so much about. Several sites have a suggestion but, I would like to get the advise from people who actually have and use a 50's car on who they have used and what they recommend. I am not afraid of taking advantage of modern technology to improve on the handling as long as it does not hurt the ride.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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on my '53 Pontiac chieftain custom catalina, I bought years ago four new Gabriel adjustable E shocks, they have three settings, regular, firm, and extra firm. extra firm makes the car ride like a truck. I plan on removing the E shocks, and installing the NOS set of four delco shocks.

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Finally it has been nice enough to compete some tasks that are worth sharing. The front suspension is just about done. The left side is complete and after I paint the lower control arm and the right side will be back together. Two rims are cleaned and painted. I hope to take them and have the new tires installed next weekend. I hope to have all four wheels done and back on early next month. I bought a new fuel line and brake line from Inline tube. Installed both not great but, I made them work. The brake line kit fit much better than the gas line. The gas line needed a lot of help to fit properly but, I won and I think it will be fine. It nice to start to see some real progress.post-88992-143142475129_thumb.jpg

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More progress some of the big parts are starting to go back together very exciting. The right side suspension went back together this weekend only a few more parts and the front suspension will be done. I sill need to find left hand threaded wheel stud and get it pressed in before I can paint the left drum. The right drum is back on more so to get it off the floor and the mental wow factor. It will have to come off later there no brakes in the drum yet. Even though the wheel cylinders were not leaking and stopped the car when we towed it home I did find pits were the seals will travel so I think it is time to retire the original parts and get new cylinders.

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Two wheels blasted and painted. Two more to go and I still need to find a spare rim. The two painted rims had dried for a week so I took them and had the new tires installed. I was very nervous I just new the new paint was going to flake off. All went well and I could not pass up the chance to pull out one of the hub caps. It needs a lot of polishing but, very motivated to keep working.

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Left-hand thread studs: Try Rock Auto. Believe Dorman makes them?

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Making some good progress. The front suspension is just about done. Working on cleaning up the steering box so the drag link will not have to be supported by jack stand.

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The last major piece that is holding up completing the front suspension is the left hub. I have been trying to replace a broken wheel stud and I just found out why all of the replacement wheel suds that were supposed to be direct replacements were too small.

I thought the stud hole was not damaged when I removed the broken stud many years ago. I finally took the drum off of the hub and the reason I can not find a replacement stud that fits became clear. What I found was the portion of all of the studs that press into the drum is flared and has a much larger diameter then the part of the stud that is in the hub. When I pushed the broken stud back through the hole the stud enlarged it. So if you have to replace a wheel stud on a 53 54 Pontiac check the stud first.

I have decided to replace the hub. I think I have found a good one and it should deliver next week.

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Started to mess with the engine and transmission once the front suspension is complete the engine and transmission will be next on the list. I opened the engine gasket set I bought years ago who would have thought a Fellpro head gasket would rust. I guess this would be considered trash now. One more thing back on the need list.

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In the old days once the studs were pressed into the hub a swedging tool was used to flare out the protruding part of the stud to make sure it was tight and never came out. When it became necessary to remove the stud, a special cutter was placed over the stud and the flare was cut off before pressing the stud out. If the flare wasn't removed, it enlarged the hole, as you found out.

I worked in an auto machine back in the day and did a million of those tasks. If the hole wasn't to sloppy, I could take a center punch and hit close to the hole and all around the hole, to expand the metal and in effect, make the hole smaller so the hub or drum wouldn't need to be replaced.

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Learned something and I thought I would share because I am sure there is another thrifty (okay cheep) person who my think a 64 year old sealed wheel bearing is still good. By dumb luck I discovered mine were trash. In an earlier post I said both sides turn fine with a bit of resistance as if the bearings were pushing through good grease. I had the rear all back together and resting on the wheels for several months. I put the rear back on jack stands to take the wheels off for paint and the for some reason I tried to turn the left rear wheel. It did not turn and had locked up solid. After thinking I messed up something with the hogs head I removed axle and discovered it was the wheel bearing. I cut the bearing off and the grease had dried up and the chunks had broken loose and locked the bearing up. So long story short both bearings will be replaced.

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No Jack stands!!!

All 4 wheels are now painted and all new rubber has been installed. I hope to have the steering column back together and installed this weekend. It will have to come off again when the body is put back on but, once installed I will be able to roll the chassis outside for a good wash and properly clean the garage.

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Started cleaning up the engine. I have started tackling the low hanging fruit. The valve covers are easy to remove, clean and paint. I was able to paint them this week with the correct Pontiac green. I have waiting to see what this was going to look like. I am very pleased.

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Even though the engine was supposed to have been rebuilt I believe I have decided to disassemble the majority of it and do some checking while I have easy access.

I do need some help how do you remove he valves? Overhead valve set up no problem and i am sure this is very similar just up side down. The shop manual talks about replacing valve seats and adjusting the valves but, It does not tell me how to remove them.

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I have decided to replace the timing chain. I do not know if the slack in this chain is normal and I have not been able to find a spec to check but, it just seems excessive. I have tried to measure the amount slop and it seems to be in the range of 3/8 of an inch of movement.

If any body has an opinion on this I would be pleased to hear it.

The gears do not seem to be warn and I am still debating if they need to be replaced. I have seen several kits with new gears and chain but, I am not sure of the quality. I am afraid of some made in China junk that will self destruct. I have seen NOS chains that seem to be the best option so far.

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hi, to remove the valves, you'll need to use a large C clamp type valve spring compressor, i don't believe that your timing chain has excessive amounts of play, but while you have the engine open, i would go ahead and change it or the complete timing set. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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when removing the valve springs, i like to have the straight eight laying on it's left side with a block of wood to keep the block level.

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