We Read It
Sheet Metal Bible
This book landed on our desk about a month ago, and we've been perusing it ever since. It is a definite easy read and provides tons of good information without feeling like a textbook, or the actual Bible, for that matter. Information is presented in a series of vignettes detailing a few different builders making a variety of parts using steel and aluminum, from motorcycle tanks to Alfa-Romeo valance panels, and it is cool to watch sheets of metal get twisted, hammered, heated, shrunk, stretched, and rolled into shape. Yes, there are some expensive tools used in some of the processes, but there are a lot of clever, low-buck things used as forming devices, too. The best is an old tree stump one of the metalmen used to put a curve in a motorcycle fender (he also uses the seat of a wooden bar stool as a hammering block). There is plenty of good information on gas and TIG welding, too. Have a look.
How Much: $29.95
Learn More: Sheet Metal Bible, by Timothy Remus; Wolfgang Publications; Stillwater, MN; WolfPub.com
Carbs for Mods
What It Is: Carbureted manifolds and distributor conversions for modular engines
Why You Care: Yeah, so the engines are huge and hard to swap into early unibody cars, but that shouldn't stop an ambitious builder. Electronics, on the other hand, can trip up even the best of us, and coming up with an engine management system for a modular swap can be enough of a hassle to keep people away. The guys at Jail Bait Cycles & Rods are fans of the mod motor and are advocates of swapping them into things. To facilitate that, they've designed a sheetmetal manifold that bolts to the engine's existing lower intake, and they can make it to fit any carburetor bolt pattern. Jail Bait also makes a kit that allows you to bolt a distributor to one of the cams through a fitting in the timing cover. With a carburetor and a cam-driven distributor, there is no need for an ECM, expensive sensors, or laptop tuning to keep you from putting a mod motor in your car.
How Much: They'll sell it all for $1,099.00.
We Say: Now get to work cutting out those shock towers.
Learn More: Jail Bait Cycles & Rods; Republic, MO; JailBaitCyclesAndRods.com
Engine Hoist Helper
What It Is: The Pivot Plate from Mac's Tie-Downs
Why You Care: Make engine R&R a breeze with this new thingy from Mac's Custom Tie-Downs. You just bolt this sucker to your intake manifold and crank it to the angle you need to get your engine and trans out without scratching your firewall, fenders, front valance, or shins. The Pivot Plate was made to accommodate most two- and four-barrel carburetors, and adapters are available for LS and other fuel injected applications. It will lift up to 1,500 pounds.
How Much: Pivot Plate costs $149.95. Prices for the adapters vary between $50.00 and $150.00.
We Say: This is the tool used in the Car Craft Engine Swap Challenge at Holley's LS Fest.
Learn More: Mac's Custom Tie-Downs; Sagle, ID; 800/666-1586; MacsCustomTieDowns.com
New, Better, Faster
What It Is: An attention-grabbing headline
Why You Care: Because MSD has totally redesigned America's favorite spark box. The 6A and 6AL have been around for longer than some of our readers; it's a staple of the industry and one of the first bolt-ons guys with distributors do to their cars. The new 6A and 6AL are fully digital, so they take less current to operate but deliver more power to your plugs and can maintain that power through 15,000 rpm. The footprint is the same, but the height of the boxes is lower than the outgoing versions, and the connector is changed to a locking-type, sealed clip. On the AL, the rev limiter is now controlled by a dial rather than those little pushpins.
How Much: Don't know, their BUY NOW! button wasn't working yet.
Learn More: MSD Ignition; El Paso, TX; 915/857-5200; MSDIgnition.com
Take Back Control
What It Is: A mechanical throttle-body from Ford Racing Performance Parts
Why You Care: Because it replaces that annoying electronic throttle-body on '05-and-later Ford engines. This is awesome for race cars and engine swappers alike because you don't need to rig up the electronic accelerator pedal. Several versions are available from FRPP ranging from twin 62mm blades to twin 65mm blades. There's even a huge oval blade version. This will work on all 4.6 three-valve and 5.4L GT500-based engines, but you have to use a pre-2005 factory ECM or an aftermarket system.
How Much: No info yet. The electronic version sells for $679.95. We'll guess it's more affordable than that.
We Say: It's an NHRA-approved replacement for the electronic throttle-body.
Learn More: Ford Racing Performance Parts; Dearborn, MI; 800/367-3788; FordRacingParts.com
Fullsize Muscle Truck
What It Is: Hotchkis' complete suspension package for C10 trucks
Why You Care: While Tech Editor Smith gets to work on Project Sten, the compact muscle truck, you can get to work building its big brother. A C10 can look awesome when it sits right, wearing good wheels with big, wide tires. Make that thing handle with Hotchkis' new Total Vehicle Control system. It includes just about everything you'll need to totally transform the old parts hauler into a cool ass-hauler. Check out the tubular upper and lower A-arms, the monster sway bars, custom springs and the Hotchkis/Bilstein shocks. The press release promises supercar handling and a perfect, slammed stance. Build it and send pictures.
How Much: $5,280.95
We Say: Can't afford a muscle car? Build a muscle truck.
Learn More: Hotchkis Sport Suspension; Santa Fe Springs, CA: 877/466-7655; Hotchkis.net
Threaded Exhaust Clamps?
What It Is: Pro-Clamp exhaust couplers from Juliano's
Why You Care: We were intrigued by these things, but we're not sure how practical they are. Juliano's sells these interesting couplers in diameters up to 3 inches. Paraphrasing from company's literature: They allow the system to be easily disassembled to accommodate muffler changes or periodic polishing of the exhaust system. That kinda makes us think this is more for show cars. They look really cool, but we wonder how they would stand up to daily driving. A definite advantage to these couplers is the tapered seat design. It seals completely with no gaskets to blow out. Plus, they are made from 304 stainless steel, so with a little antiseize on the threads they'd give you years of trouble-free, and leak-free, operation.
How Much: Prices start at $100.00.
We Say: You can use a spanner to undo your exhaust instead of a torch.
Learn More: Juliano's Hot Rod Parts; Ellington, CT; 860/872-1932; Julianos.com