VOLUME XXI,  NUMBER 12 - DECEMBER,  2019

Dead on 

Project LS-10 Part 2: It is starting to look like a race car!

I left off on the first phase of the Project LS-10, presented by S&W Race Cars, QA1, Quick Performance and Schaeffer Oils, with the S&W frame kit welded to the original S10 frame. It was remarkably easy to keep everything straight and aligned -- and I credit S&W with good instructions because I have never built a “frame-off” race car.

 

I want to mention that we used the QA1 Pro-Coil shock and spring setup on the front suspension. It is easy to install and use product. After a talk with tech support at QA1 we chose the double-adjustable coil-over shock, and their special conical spring fits into the original spring pocket. I used this same type of setup on my Olds Cutlass and it was awesome. Simple bolt-in installation.

The front QA1 Pro Coil-over double adjustable shocks and spring kit. No fabrication and this setup is an easy bolt-in replacement. Will give us an economical way to change spring rates, right height and control the extension and rebound speed of the front suspension.

 

First thing I did when the frame was ready was to put the cab back on the frame. We are using an Energy Suspension cab mount kit that has polyurethane bushings. These are stiffer than the OEM bushings which were pretty much dried out and very soft.

 

Next up was getting the box floor cut out so it would clear the S&W anti-roll bar we installed. If you want to keep the original floor it is very simple to do so. Just use the Panhard bar setup and it will clear the stock S10 pickup floor. The S&W frame has box mounts pre-welded that are designed to use the stock box mounts. Because we cut across the bed into the wheel well, we will be installing a set of aluminum wheel tubs in a later article. We retained all the original box mount crossmembers so we can utilize the stock bed mounts.

 

I installed the 4-link components to make sure everything fit and it was flawless. Thanks, S&W Race Cars.

 

I unwrapped the four-link bars, rod ends and bolts. The easiest way to start is to simply make all bars the same length. I simply made a fixture out of 2x4s and made sure they were the same length with rod ends installed. On initial assembly, coat the threads on the rod ends with an anti-seize treatment or some light grease; it will make your life easier when you need to adjust the bars, trust me.

 

I slid the empty 9” Ford rear end housing that S&W built under the truck and started bolting up the four-link bars. I wanted to make sure I had all the hardware I needed and that everything fit. It was literally a perfect fit.

 

Did not have to file or ream out one hole, and all the correct bolts, spacers and Ny-loc nuts were in the packages. Thank you, S&W Race Cars, for making this a “complete kit”. With it all bolted together I started on the optional “anti-roll bar” kit. It included all the brackets, the splined-torsion bar, billet aluminum ends and the correct hardware. The S&W rear frame kits come with the brackets for using a Panhard-bar, but we felt since we are going to drag race only the anti-roll bar option was a little better choice.

I wanted to get the correct ride height so I made a cheap (like $2.00) struts drilled for 13.5" to simulate the rear coil-overs. Just wanted to make sure everything fit and cleared and this allowed us to finish the anti-roll bar fabrication work.

 

We ground the Panhard bracket off the rear housing so we could make room for the right-side brackets. A little grinding on the brackets to get them to match the curve of the front of the 9” housing and we could start the trial fitting. Normally, these brackets fit perfectly on the backside of the 9” housing but we had S&W put a rear housing brace on it, so we moved the anti-roll to the front on their recommendation. The first thought I had was to keep the anti-roll under the floor of the truck bed but getting the arms located was going to be difficult. Once I decided to take the anti-roll over the frame I had it tacked in place in about an hour.

If you look under the nut at the top of the photo you will see where I ground the Panhard bar off the S&W rear end housing. This gave us more room for the anti-roll bar to be mounted above the frame in front of the housing.

Trial fitting the anti-roll bar mounting tubes.

Finished the welding of the anti-roll bar mounting tubes.

This is one of the bushings I had to lightly hone to get the torsion bar to slide in. The bushing "tightens up" when you do the welding on the mounting tubes. Was a 20-minute easy little project.

 

Trial fitting the anti-roll bar has one little “thing” you need to do. You will need to hone out the bushing where the torsion arm fits. I used some 60-grit emery cloth slipped into a slotted shaft on a air-powered die-grinder. You could make something similar with a piece of small tubing, cut a thin slot in it and use a drill to spin the emery cloth around inside the bushing. Took about 20 minutes to get it to slip in. I put a light coat of wheel bearing grease on the shaft when I installed it. We have not cut the vertical tubes to length yet so we could weld them. We decided to wait until we had the LS-10 sitting on the tires and suspension. It will be a 30-minute project to cut the correct length and weld the tube to the tube-end and assemble it.

 

Now I was getting close to starting the roll-cage installation. I started on the bodywork I knew needed to be done. New rocker panels, new cab corners, minor rust repair over rear wheel openings and the roof had some minor hail damage. Finished those things and laid on two coats of high-build primer. I waited about three days and block-sanded the entire truck looking for any small dings and “bad spots”. Needless to say; I found a lot of places that needed some work. The next five or six afternoons were spent getting the body ready for what I hoped was the last double-coat of high-build primer. As of now I am very satisfied with the final bodywork and fit of the new aftermarket fenders and radiator support. At $41 for each fender and only $90 for a new (rust-free) radiator support it was literally cheaper to replace them than try fixing those parts.

Sneak Peek of the rear BAER Brakes. We probably will start out using just one caliper per side but we can definitely put a lot of WHOA on the LS-10 when the engine program demands it.

These are our "budget-oriented" rear wheels. 15x14 with 4" backspacing. Fit was perfect but we have some work to do to get the 5/8" studs and spacer/washers installed. More on that in the next episode of LS-10.

This is the view with wheels. I am pretty sure those wheels will "end up RED" but the jury is still out on that decision. I agree the new Weld double bead-locks and V-series fronts are super cool BUT...I can build a lot of truck for the $3500.00 those wheels cost and in the end they are all basically just a round tire carrier.

 

We received our wheels from Jegs. Nothing fancy in the wheel department with our budget so you will not see V-Series Welds or bead-locks. I think all four wheels were just a tick over $600.00 for the set and I had a set of used 13.5x32 Hoosiers off the Olds we are using as “test fitting tires”. To get the rear tires on we will need to get the axles and third-member ordered. As I am writing this article, I just received the axles and the rear-end is arriving today from Quick Performance. Complete coverage on the rear-end will be in Phase 3 LS-10 tech article in a few weeks.

 

Now it is time to wipe down the roll cage tubing to get the oily residue off the tubing so it can be handled without causing such a mess. A few rags and some lacquer thinner and the tubing is ready.

One of the cab corners we replaced due to rust. Used aftermarket repair panels and the fit was perfect.

Right cab corner finished.

I found some light hail damage on roof and a little "torch/cold rag work and some block sanding got it all "smoothed out".

Box prepped for second coat of high-build primer.

 

LS-10 has been finished up as far as body repair and primer. We are going to wait until it is running and has been track-tested before applying the RED urethane and clear. Hopefully, it will be all shiny in June of 2020. Lots to get done this fall and then Andy gets to do wiring, fuel system and LOT of other stuff this winter.

 

We just started fitting the pieces and figuring out how to get it braced to the frame this week. The next tech article will go into details and some tips we can offer those of you that want to do a project like this at home. We have not used any special tools or equipment to get to the points we are. Basic hand tools, some body tools I had from 30 years ago and a lot of battery-operated drills and drivers, yes, but it has been a pleasure so far. It is a lot of work and you need to stick with it but as you start to reassemble the parts it is very satisfying to see the hard work coming along and turning out really nice.

 

Before I go any further, I want to take a minute and thank some people who are supporting what is likely my last race car build. At 68 years old, this crawling around under and over a S-10 is not getting easier! My wife, Barb, for her endless support of these “projects” and the time she knows it takes. My son, Andy, whose tool and die experience is super helpful in thinking things through and for his “welding” skills. Thanks to S&W Race Cars, QA1, Quick Performance, Schaeffer Oils and Trailer Toad for the support that should have the “Project LS-10” on track about mid-season 2020.

 

Watch for updates here on Drag Racing Online and S&W Race Cars Facebook page. 

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