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Techin’ In With Fletch - September 2013

Tech Advise From The Expert

By Dan Fletcher

Multiple Questions
I have several questions regarding my ’69 Camaro. I am not a mechanic and my mechanical skills are somewhat limited, but I love muscle cars. I bought my car about 17 years ago when I was only 20, so I guess that kind of dates me. I am hoping you can give me some answers, along with any opinions, suggestions, and advice you may see fit.

I live in Wisconsin so the car is stored during the winter months, but last summer I installed Heidts tall 2-inch drop forged spindles, all new Hotchkis front and rear shocks, and Hotchkis sport leaf springs with a 1.5-inch drop. I also had Hooker long-tube headers professionally installed at the same time. The problem I am having is when I hit a bump in the road, the front end scrapes. The gentleman who installed the headers suggested I put the original spindles back on. I lowered the front end to give car a more aggressive look and improve handling, and really don’t want to raise it back up. Is there anything I can do to fix this problem if I elect to keep the drop spindles? Here are a few things I was thinking of doing:

A) New front springs (original springs still in car)
B) New bump stops
C) Going to bigger tires. Currently running 15s, but was thinking of going with 17- or 18-inch tires.

Next, I’m currently running a 350, and the engine was rebuilt in 1994. It has low miles, but I think it may have a bad head gasket. The block is a four-bolt main from a ’74 Chevy truck that has been bored 0.030-inch over. I upgraded the intake to an Edelbrock with a Holley 650 carb two years ago. If I decide to rebuild the motor, I would like to add some horsepower. I would like to run somewhere between 375 and 500. I don’t race my Camaro, but want to have a little juice under the hood. If I do a rebuild, I have an auto tech from a tech school that showed interest in rebuilding it.

I was thinking of aluminum heads. What budget heads are out there that would add horsepower? Under $800 a pair would be great if possible. What type of cam would you suggest with my current set up and for a street car? What is better on a budget, a rebuild or new crate engine? That is all for now. I did not drive my Camaro much last summer due to the frontend situation. I have saved money over the winter and am ready to order some parts and hopefully get it back on the road.

My goal is to have a turnkey collector car so when the weather is nice I can hop in and cruise. Thanks for any help you may provide.

Jason Freeman
Via email

That’s a lot of questions for one query, but here goes. To keep the car from scraping the ground on bumps, obviously increasing ground clearance or inhibiting downward travel are really the only two options. Seeing as you’ve already said you don’t want to move the car up, that basically eliminates option one. Two of your solutions fall into category one, new springs or bigger wheels. I seriously doubt that you could get a spring rate that was different enough such that at the same ride height it would be so stiff as to stop downward travel. You could potentially get a significantly stiffer shock, but it would probably ride so bad you’d need a chiropractor after the first time around the block.

Wheels, obviously a 17-inch wheel with the same profile tire, would gain you an inch of ground clearance, but it probably wouldn’t look right, so you’d wind up in the same place with a shorter sidewall tire for aesthetics. The third, new bump stops, falls into the inhibiting downward travel column, and might have some legs. Again, it’s not going to promote a real smooth ride, but “growing” the lower snubbers such that the car would basically sit on them in a static state should help to keep it from moving down.

There’s no right or wrong answer to the build it or buy it engine query, and I’m generally a big proponent of the bolt-in efficiency provided by the crate motor solution. But if you have a competent person willing to give up free labor, I’d probably rebuild what you already have. A million different people offer top end kits to do just what you want, and here are a few choices from our friends at Summit http://www.summitracing.com/search/year/1974/engine-size/5-7l-350?keyword=cam%20and%20heads .You’re getting a proven package with a cam and head selection that’s known to work properly together, basically eliminating all the guess work. I’m thinking that a little over 400 is plenty of horsepower for your stated application, so choose accordingly.


EZ EFI Swap
I have a ’92 Camaro RS with a 305 TBI and a 700-R4 non-electronic controlled automatic that has just surpassed 200,000 miles. I would like to swap in a crate 350 and dump the obsolete factory computer for an EZ EFI, but I also want to maintain the original factory look, including the dash gauges. I know that TCI has a torque converter control kit to replace the TCC functions of the original computer, but so far I have not been able to get a definitive answer as to whether anyone has a kit to send a signal from my tranny’s speed sensor to the speedometer without the factory computer. Anything you could find to enlighten me on this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all the valuable info you have given us over the years.

Jim Robinson
Via email

It never ceases to amaze me; what I think is going to be the most straightforward of questions can turn into a quest like no tomorrow. Yes, as you referenced, TCI makes a set up to handle the lock up functions of the converter, no problem there. See the following link on Summit’s website http://www.summitracing.com/parts/tci-376600. The kit for factory speedo without factory computer, well, not so much …

I did my basic research without much success, so then I started calling folks in the biz looking for some deeper insight to what was now appearing to be a predicament without an answer. I wound up speaking to my friend Marc Erickson, director of motorsports, at Auto Meter. Marc said that they didn’t make a product for such a scenario, but he turned me onto a specialty company that he was confident could supply you with a solution.

So I dialed up Roger Luckow, owner of Speedometer Service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they specialize on cables, gears, gauges, and general speedometer solutions. Roger informed me that your speedometer wants to see a 4,000 pulse per mile square wave signal. Apparently, and this is somewhat Greek to me, your vintage of 700R4 emits a 4 pulse sign wave that the factory computer converts to what the speedo wants. While there does not exist a kit, per se, to do what you need, Roger can in fact make what you need to successfully use your factory gauge with the EZ EFI system. You can check out their website and get the proper contact info with the following link http://www.speedometersolutions.com/.

Editor’s note: We’ll be addressing this with a story in an upcoming issue. Stay tuned.


Got a restoration question that’s been puzzling you? Send it to:

[ m ] Super Chevy, Fletch, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
[ e ] questions4fletch@yahoo.com
[ f ] 813/675-3559

By Dan Fletcher
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