Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Some Very Cool Tools.

At, there is a boatload of information concerning military radio restoration. Included is a cornucopia of information on the tools used to do this. Fascination stuff for a radiohead or a toolhead.

Above is a 1965 Hardinge HLV-H used for manufacturing missing parts from military aircraft radio equipment. The author of the site also has restored some of the machinery he employs.

Additional tools can be found here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Retrofit Hydroboost Brakes

Traditional power brakes have used engine vacuum to reduce the physical effort required to stop a car. Some high performance engines, because of the design of their camshafts, do not produce enough vacuum to used vacuum-powered brake power boosters. One alternative is to add a vacuum pump to the accessories driven by the engine. Another is to use the hydraulic pressure supplied by the power steering pump to power the brake booster. This device is called Hydroboost and it replaces the vacuum-operated brake booster. It provides more than twice the pressure than a vacuum diaphragm booster.

There are commercial kits to use a hydraulic booster, like Vanco. They offer kits to match the car you are modifying. The most complete kits provide the Hydroboost unit, a new master brake cylinder, a power steering pump and the appropriate hoses with fittings and they are priced at around $900. You can see the parts of the kit by visiting this link. A nice step-by-step installation of the Vanco hydraulic booster is available at Stu-Offroad. It is very thorough and has lots of pictures and useful links to related information. Note that the hydraulic unit itself can be "clocked" by 180 degrees in case you need to route the hydraulic lines differently.

Here's the thing, the Hydroboost units themselves are only as far away as your local boneyard and cost $100 to $200. A list of potential donor cars is at and Off-Road Forums. Re-manufactured units are available from eBay from $150 and up, and new units are also available from the local auto parts stores. The most common unit is an A1 Cardone 52-7359. Your car already has a brake master cylinder, so there's no need to  replace that. All that leaves are the hoses and fittings. The size of the fittings will vary depending on the donor vehicle.

Hydratech Braking Systems also provides all-new-component kits where one option is a "full show" finish on the components. They also offer hose fittings and complete hose sets.

Here is a HOWTO page with lots of pictures created by a customer of Hydratech. It is useful for the excellent pictures and a very detailed dialog about the process.

At the Jalopy Journal, there's a discussion about Hydroboost brakes. A fellow who used a unit from a Lincoln Versailles makes the excellent point that if you are using a boneyard unit, get all the hoses associated with it.

BANGshift offers a HOWTO for a Hydroboost upgrade of your truck or muscle car. Many good pictures.

A DIY HOWTO is provided by The Diesel Stop, and addresses modifying mounting holes to fit the device on your vehicle.

Carl Casanova's 1968 Camaro Home Page discusses, among other things, his homemade approach to adding Hydroboost brakes to his Camaro.  He uses a 1999 Mustang unit which differs from GM units in that the attachment bolts are vertical, not horizontal.

A Corvette Forum discussion claims that the units from a 1994-95 Astro van are adapted to GM cars with the least amount of trouble.

The Hollister Road Company offers a thorough HOWTO of how to adapt these units and includes some nice fabrication tips as well as a hand-drawn illustration of how these are plumbed that is more useful than anything else I've seen. They also include more detailed information about hose fittings.

The forum at 67-72 Chevy Trucks also provides a HOWTO of a Hydroboost (from the Hollister Road Company) installation using a unit from a 2001 Chevy Silverado. The unit itself is identified as an A1-Cardone # 52-7359 that comes with a diagram to identify the ports ($95 plus $44 core deposit). This discussion also deals with fabricating a bracket to suspend the brake pedal. What is discussed here and I have not seen discussed elsewhere is the output pushrod, retainer and spring. These pieces connect the Hydroboost unit to your master cylinder, so they are important.

Super Chevy has an article about installing a Hydroboost unit in a '68 Camaro. The pictures are good, but as a HOWTO, not much help. The unit was provided by, I believe, Power Brake Service. They offer quite a variety of power brakes components.

There are, of course, several YouTube HOWTO videos on Hydroboost conversions. YMMV

Car Done provides an installation guide in PDF format, which includes some useful diagrams and a trouble-shooting guide.

GM Fullsize offers a HOWTO using a boneyard-sourced Hydroboost unit and hoses from Autozone. This is probably the most thorough guide to the pats needed and the procedures needed I've seen.

Speaking of AutoZone, they offer a Hydroboost Repair Guide with illustrations, testing and troubleshooting information.

Hot Rod Magazine offers a very brief HOWTO, but the pictures are worth viewing. It seems similar to the Super Chevy offering above as well as this one from Car Craft, Mat 2011 by Douglas Glad, which was the first article to bring it to my attention.

Also of interest are electric-powered brake boosters (not very reliable) and the very intriguing electric power steering units popular on small foreign cars.

While a used Hydroboost may be the way to go as far as price is concerned, there may be issues such as a worn-out or malfunctioning unit which may be problematic to troubleshoot.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Miracle of 12V Relays

Do you want to wire your car so that the Accessory circuit stays on until you open the door after you have turned off the ignition, like many modern cars? Built your own remote start system? Control headlights with a latching relay?

This page at The 12 Volt explains how to do that with standard 5-pin 12-volt relays. The entire site is dedicated to similar "tricks of the trade".

At, this page provides an overview of automotive uses of relays. This page also offers links to other useful pages, including headlight relays, assorted car wiring diagrams, auto wiring basics and a fix for power windows that use those stupid "wiring eliminators" in the door jambs.

Here, mechanical latching relays are explained.

GM-style power window switches are Dorman 901-018 or 49243 and the special pigtail is ACDelco PT185. A wiring diagram is found here.

A 12-volt latching relay is here.

Neutral Safety switch operation, wiring and installation information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

O-Ringing the Block and Heads for Higher Compression Engines HOWTO

I found some useful advice in this forum thread from user AK's REX.

"To my understanding o-ringing the block or the head prove to be about equally effective. That said I would say it depends if you want to have receiver grooves machined. The most conventional method is to machine and o-ring the block, then machine receiver grooves opposite the o-rings in the heads. I guess it can probably be done in reverse fashion as well.
As far as the receiver grooves are concerned, it not only helps in high compression and or boosted applications, but helps wet motors from losing fluid which is a common problem with copper head gaskets. It allows the o-ring to literally push the gasket into the receiver groove to provide a better seal. Speaking of copper gaskets here is a bit of info from SCE regarding this stuff;
O-ring grooves may be cut in either the block or cylinder head. When using copper head gaskets thinner than .050, O-ring height should be no more than 25% of gasket thickness. For instance, the proper dimensions for an .043 thick gasket using .041 wire would be; a .038 to .040 groove width (provides a .001 interference fit), and a .032 groove depth (leaves .008-.010 of the wire protruding above the deck). This machining can be done at most high performance machine shops.

When receiver grooves are necessary, alignment of O-ring and receiver groove is critical, as is the depth and width of the receiver groove. Generally receiver groove depth should be 75% of the O-ring protrusion and the receiver groove should be 1.5 times the wire width. Example: If the O-ring is .041 wide and .015 above the deck; receiver groove should be .012 deep and .060 wide.

While the machining of O-ring and receiver grooves must be done by a machinist, the installation of the O-ring wire can be done by anyone, using common hand tools. When tapping O-ring wire into the groove, use care to avoid denting the wire. SCE provides an O-ring installation kit, (SCE PART #31542) which includes instructions, an installation tool and O-ring wire. When cutting stainless O-ring wire, file the ends square to provide the tightest possible seal."

Source: NASIOC Forums

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Heat Insulation Spray-on Coating Alternative to Lizard Skin.

One of the well-known spray-on heat-shield products is Lizard Skin. From their website, “LizardSkin Ceramic Insulation (CI) is an advanced spray on thermal coating that consists of a water-based composition of high-grade acrylic binders with ceramic insulation particles to create a thermal barrier.” The Material Safety Data Sheet (commonly referred to as the MSDS) can be found here.

This sheet shows the composition of Lizard Skin as:

1 - Water 7732-18-5 40-50%
2 - Resin Polymer 00-00-00 20-30%
3 - Trade Secret Insulation Media 10-20%
4 - Carbon Black 1333-86-4 5-10%
5 - Extender Pigment 1317-65-3 1-5%

It’s relatively expensive at $200 for two gallons. They sell a special gun ($120) to spray it on although it can be applied with a brush or roller.

It's possible to make your own for much less cost.

1 – High solids white latex ceiling paint.

2 - Acrylic Polymer Resin - increases paint flow and durability. One source is Acri-Flow from up to 1 pint per gallon.

3 – Glass Microspheres  - One supplier is, mixing at the rate of one quart of spheres per gallon of paint, but some sources indicate that as many as 3 quarts of spheres per gallon should be used.

4 – Carbon Black pigment is added to give Lizard Skin its distinctive purple/black color. Any color - or none at all - is OK and can be sourced at your local paint store.

5 – Calcium Carbonate (pulverized dolomitic limestone) adds bulk and texture, sourced at Amazon or hardware stores.

To Spray
You can rent an airless paint sprayer. Use the largest tip available (.019-.024) and remove the filter screens from both the suction tube and inside the handle. The application thickness should be that of a credit card.

For Heat and Noise ControlApply the Lizard Skin-type spray-on coating, then add squares of DynaMat or similar product when fully dry. It's not necessary to cover the entire panel in DynaMat like they show you in the car magazines, small squares or long strips will do just as well.

Out-of-the-Box Alternatives to Lizard Skin
Hy-Tech SC#1000 Sound Control Coasting appears to be a product similar to Lizard Skin for both sound and heat control.


There are several forum discussion threads about various substitutes and application details.

Alternative Lizard Skin

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A more efficient fan shroud

Volvo has developed and patented this idea for their over the road trucks, but there's no reason it can't work on smaller vehicles. The ring surrounding the fan is fixed to the engine block so the ring can be much closer to the fan blades and so i more efficient. Not obvious from the diagram is that the fan shroud is a flexible material, sealed to the radiator and the ring.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Preventing Over-heating and Corrosion In Your Car

For hotrod, sports cars and older cars, especially cars that are infrequently driven, overheating and corrosion are all too common problems.

Many people are surprised to learn that the traditional 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze is not the most efficient way to cool your engines. Water alone is the most efficient medium, but there are two problems associated with water as the only coolant. First, water will freeze in the winter and usually cracks the engine block. Second, antifreeze includes corrosion inhibitors and water pump lubricant, both necessary for you cooling system.

Here's how to get around those problems.

  • Replace your drain petcock with a sacrificial zinc anode or have an appropriate-sized bung added to your radiator. These anodes are commonly used in marine engines and - surprise - the hot water heater in you house uses one. It's proven technology and you can buy them at boating supply stores or Amazon.
  • Add a surfactant like Water Wetter, available at auto parts stores. This product reduces the surface tension of the coolant keeping bubbles from forming, increasing coolant to metal contact and improving the transfer of heat to the coolant.
  • To replace the corrosion inhibitors and water pump coolant, just add a bottle of  the very same thing, also found at auto parts stores.
In the spring, drain the coolant from the system, add the above ingredients to refill your radiator and top off with distilled water (never tap water - too many minerals and electrolytes that will cause scale and corrosion). Most importantly, write down how much water you use to fill the radiator because when cold weather is upon us in the fall, drain one-half of the water and replace with anti-freeze whether you will be driving your car in the cold or not.

Every Spring: Lather. Rise. Repeat.