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66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:01 pm

Hello fellow vanners. Im new to the site, but and old van guy at heart. I learned to drive on an old Econoline with 3 on the tree...and have been in a van ever since. 20 years ago I found a 66 Chevy exactly like the one my Dad had when I was a kid. Finally I'm getting to the restoration. The engine and trans are out for rebuild so I'm getting to the next stage of the project. Brakes and suspension. M1D has been very helpful with the disc brake conversion...still waiting on some details on the rear. Hoping for disc's all around, but we will see what happens.

Here is where I could really use some help. On the suspension, I am thinking of flipping the springs for a lower stance. Along with some helper air bags to get it perfect. Am I on the right track?? I have seen pics of some show vans that are slammed to the ground...are full air bags better? is there a better way to improve the ride height?? I need some advice from folks who have been thru and done this before. Obviously there are not kits available. I still want it to ride and drive well, yet trick it out.

Additionally, the fuel tank. Surely I need to replace or treat...does anyone sell a replacement or do I clean and treat the existing tank?

Thanks for all help and advice!
Brother James, North Carolina
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1371
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Vantasia on Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:43 am

Welcome...do some thread searches here and at site called VCVC Vintage Chevy Van Club, there are several threads showing how people lowered by flipping axles on the springs and what else has to be done when doing this like steering, shock mounts etc...IMHO, unless you are going to a high powered engine, you don't need rear discs, fronts and rear drums should be fine for normal cruising and driving....no new tanks made, there is an effort underway at other site to get them made, but never took off. Most tanks, no matter how far gone can be saved. Find a good shop that can dip it, weld up leaks, get dents out, most radiator shops also do tanks. Very hard to adapt other tanks without a lot of work, its an oddball size and nothing seems close, even 2nd gen tanks require frame modification. I had mine re-worked by a shop and its fine. Many threads on this here...They can be patched if leaking. Best to get dipped and then left uncoated inside, coatings not really needed, more trouble than worth, they came uncoated from the factory, a slight orange patina inside is normal. Senders can be rebuilt too and a few sell new ones. Good used tanks come up for sale every few months here and on eBay usually in the $150-250 range. But look into cleaning yours, easy to drop and check. The filler neck hose is an uncommon size, like 2-3/8" but it can be found online in 3-foot lengths or by the foot/inch from a few special shops, google it, auto stores only sell 2" or 2.5", you should replace all the rubber at this point including brake hoses too....
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1371
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Vantasia on Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:45 am

Here's a lower my van thread
http://vintage-vans.forumotion.com/t30428-question-on-the-commonly-asked-how-to-lower-my-van?highlight=lower+van

Its up to you but personally, I like the look and stance of our vans riding high with a slight rake from larger rear tires and smaller front tires, not into the slammed lowrider look. The high ground clearance is nice and the view is great...but there are many opines on this for as many owners as there are here!
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:03 pm

Thanks Vantasia! I appreciate your time, advice and experience. I have so much to get done all the info offered saves me so much time and effort...Like not doing exhaustive searches trying to locate replacement fuel tanks. Mine is actually very decent...just a touch of rust inside.

On the disc brakes all the way around...I'm just thinking time and $. I feel like I could install new discs in the rear for the same money as rebuilding the original drums...and have a considerably better system.

Still undecided on the lowering. I don't dislike the way it looks as is, yet if I'm going to all the trouble and money for the rest of the van...why not drop it a little for a sportier stance. I will read those links you forwarded.

Thanks so Much! I welcome all info anyone wants to offer. I will try to post some pics as improvements happen

Brother James
NC
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samsvan

Number of posts : 380
Location : Sarasota, Fl.
Age : 54
Registration date : 2014-09-04

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by samsvan on Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:56 pm

Brother James, I like the look of these vans lowered too. However, after getting mine down a couple of inches, I've learned and realized a few things you might want to consider. If you're going to keep the straight axle on the front, you can only lower it so far before you start limiting the amount of travel before you bottom out the axle on the frame. I had to modify my engine crossmember to clear the tie rod. Also, your tires will bottom out in the wheel wells. You can't modify the wheel wells without getting into the doors. Also, you're sitting right on top of the wheel wells so If you're tall, you will need to install a sunroof for head clearance. There's also the steering geometry. AZDon is in the process of making his drag link an adjustable one (I think). I need to do this with mine because as mine sits now, it turns way sharper to the left than it does to the right.
Flipping the axle on the rear end will drop it enough so that you will have to C notch the frame. Instead, I moved the leaf spring perches and shackle mounts up to retain the stock leaf spring pack. Again, it's only lowered a couple of inches.
For my gas tank, I went with a "Tanks, Inc. 53CGX". I got it with their electric fuel pump and a 30 ohm sender. It took a little bit of modification to mount it but not bad. It's an 18 gallon tank so it's 2 gallons bigger than stock.
I went with rear discs too. I had them installed so I don't know any specifics but I know they stop the van. They would look good too but I put old school steelies on for wheels so you can't see them.
To lower the van, I think most guys just remove a leaf or two at each corner. That would be your cheapest option and it would be easy to put it back to stock if you start having issues. To take it a step further, look at Ridetec's "Air over leaf" system for a supplemental air bag system to retain the original load capacity.
Any questions, just ask, Sam
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:31 pm

Hey Sam, Man thanks so much for the info. You are right on with my thoughts...not looking to slam the van to the ground, just drop it a touch to set a nice sporty looking stance. Enough to close up some of the space in the wheel wells, yet not so much I worry about banging the frame or bottoming out the tires in the wheel wells. And especially throwing the steering geometry off.

So here is the question...take a couple leaves out? Or flip the springs to the bottom and install the Ridetech helper air bags?? Which ever route, I'm thinking the same all the way around...then hopefully all the geometry stays the same. I'm concerned if I remove springs, the suspension becomes too soft. I'm not installing a v-8, just rebuilding the original 6. With a few mods of course for more horse power and have some growl from the exhaust.

I'm hearing everyone say get the caliper bracket from M1D for front disc brakes...but no one seems to support discs on the rear, or where to go for advice. And I'm kinda wanting to make the entire decision and purchase at one time with the entire conversion in mind.

Certainly I'll hot dog it a little bit...but definitely not drag race where I've got to have rear discs. Just seems while I'm under the van, do it all at one time.

Did you install sway bars? They seem like a good idea so I'll need to do as well. Think I'm all good on the gas tank. Mine ended up being in pretty good shape minus some minor rust inside from not being used in many years.

You have been through all this...tell me what you think!

Brother James
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samsvan

Number of posts : 380
Location : Sarasota, Fl.
Age : 54
Registration date : 2014-09-04

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by samsvan on Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:56 pm

Brother James,
I was thinking you could take some springs out and see if your good with how it looks then decide if you need the air bags or not for load capacity. They would basically take the place of the springs you removed without raising the van back up to stock. Look at AZDon's recent posts about what it takes to flip the axle on the front end. It's not that simple. The drag link will need to be dealt with even if you just drop the front a few inches if you want to center the steering. I'm just living with mine for now but it's on my list of things to do.
I think the disc brake conversion on the rear is a choice more than a necessity. The fronts were a must for me and M1D has done all the r&d and machining to make our lives easy. The rears use older K5 Blazer parts if I remember right and the conversion is pretty common.
With discs, you will have to switch to 15" rims. Also, when you lower your van you will have to get wheels and tires that will fit inside your wheel wells. I went with Wheel Vintiques 16 x 8" wheels all around. I got them with a 5" backspace so they tuck in nicely. Check out my thread in the members showcase to see how mine sits and look in the Between the Seats G section to see what I did to make the crossmember clear the tie rod.
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uncle ron

Number of posts : 80
Location : orange,calif.
Age : 70
Registration date : 2012-05-31

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by uncle ron on Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:49 pm

Brother James, I removed 2 leafs and it dropped my front enough that I was bottomed out on the rubber bump stops , replaced bump stops with short ones (11/16 " ) haven't noticed any difference in handling . I'm running old 6 x 14 five spoke mags with M1dadio brackets , did have to grind a little off the calipers . Uncle Ron
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sandyvan

Number of posts : 404
Location : San Diego, CA
Registration date : 2011-03-13

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by sandyvan on Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:24 pm

uncle ron wrote:Brother James, I removed 2 leafs and it dropped my front enough that I was bottomed out on the rubber bump stops , replaced bump stops with short ones (11/16 " ) haven't noticed any difference in handling . I'm running old 6 x 14 five spoke mags with M1dadio brackets , did have to grind a little off the calipers . Uncle Ron

Uncle Ron that is one sweet van!!!
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uncle ron

Number of posts : 80
Location : orange,calif.
Age : 70
Registration date : 2012-05-31

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by uncle ron on Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:32 pm

sandyvan wrote:
uncle ron wrote:Brother James, I removed 2 leafs and it dropped my front enough that I was bottomed out on the rubber bump stops , replaced bump stops with short ones (11/16 " ) haven't noticed any difference in handling . I'm running old 6 x 14 five spoke mags with M1dadio brackets , did have to grind a little off the calipers . Uncle Ron

Uncle Ron that is one sweet van!!!
Sandyvan , Thanks . I've owned my van since 1970 .
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:51 pm

Thank you Uncle Ron! that is the exact look im shooting for...and with out the the issues of geometry with steering and sway bar clearance. Perfect! You and so so many others have been super helpful.

I have a really good start for the first two weeks. Pulled the motor and trans for rebuild, yanked the gas tank for cleaning...all the emblems and bumpers. Even have the suspension torn down for new bushings and gaskets. M1 hooked me up with some brackets and many parts on order to get started putting it back together.

Thanks All!
Brother James
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Scott

Number of posts : 1466
Location : Anoka, MN
Age : 47
Registration date : 2008-05-20

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Scott on Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:43 am

Welcome to the site,

Any chance you can post some pictures of the new van?

Pictures of you old one would be cool too.
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chevbone64

Number of posts : 188
Location : Skokie, IL
Age : 28
Registration date : 2012-09-15

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by chevbone64 on Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:49 pm

Brother James, i plan to lower my 65 as well with minimal fab work to major components. I had my buddy weld on after market spring perches right under the factory ones. I have not got to the front yet but Im planning on getting the leafs "De-arched" hoping i don't have to mess with modifying the steering. I also plan on using air shocks all the way around.

Killer van Ron, love how it sits

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Edoz

Number of posts : 18
Location : Tulsa, OK
Registration date : 2012-09-30

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Edoz on Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:11 am

As for the replacement gas tank project over at VCVC, it's still happening. Smiley finally got a prototype, approved it and they're looking at a delivery date later this year.

http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/27189-Ending-the-Gas-(tank)-Crisis/page10
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:58 am

Very Cool! I did pull my gas tank and it actually ended up being in very good shape...minus the varnish smelling gasoline inside! Getting it treated now...Engine and trans soon ready to reinstall. Currently on suspension, from much advice decided on pulling to of the short leaf springs to drop the ride height just a touch. M1D has sent extensive instructions on disc brake conversion...and his specialty brackets already shipped and soon to arrive. Tons of new bushings and rubber on order to replace as much as possible while the van is all apart.

Thinking ahead to the body work...which is not in too bad shape, does anyone know of a source for door handles? Or is it best to send off to be re chromed? I have found most all the light lenses and housings...except headlight bezels.

Tons of paint options...I've even considered wrapping the entire van with some large graphics. Jury still out. I did see some wheel/ tire info on the source page. Love the 17's which would work great in clearing the new brake calipers.

Pics soon to come!
Brother James
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Edoz

Number of posts : 18
Location : Tulsa, OK
Registration date : 2012-09-30

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Edoz on Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:59 pm

Brother's Truck Parts has all the interior door handles, but I don't think anyone is repopping the exterior handles. You'll likely be stuck with salvage & rechrome.
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1371
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Vantasia on Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:50 pm

Ditto, handles, no new ones...just keep looking and horse trading for a set of really good used ones or get them re-chromed, can be done but not cheap, plenty of online and well known chromers around the USA that do pot metal, look for a magazine called Old Cars Weekly or look in Hemmings Motor News to find them. When you say treat the gas tank, just get it clean at a shop and then leave the inside un-treated steel, it will have a slight orange patina when you get it back from the shop. According my old school shop pro, he said that is the way they came from the factory, plain steel untreated steel, if it was cleaned properly, it will take another 30+ years for it to rust enough to flake off and clog your fuel system! Stay away from any interior coatings, all of them seem to have bad ethanol stories, check into it...sounds like you're well on your way to a cool van!
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:47 pm

Uncle Ron, You are the Bomb! I'm impressed with your tech savvy advise posting pics. Thank you! This is is a pic of my new work van..."Money Maker" as she is affectionately know! Bought her in Oct '16....already put 50k miles on her...and she still smells like new! lol, She is my 3rd, 352k on the first one, 595k on the second.






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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:56 pm

Pics of the 66 Restoration. Right out of the barn to the shop. 20 years of anticipation!
Thank to all for advice and help!!







[url=https://servimg.com/view/19745819/2][img]https://i11.servimg.com/u/f11/
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sandyvan

Number of posts : 404
Location : San Diego, CA
Registration date : 2011-03-13

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by sandyvan on Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:27 pm

Man that looks solid!!
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:59 pm

Thank You!! Im super excited...have a table full of parts, about to pull the leaf springs to begin rebuilding all the suspension. The plan is to remove 2 leaves for a slight drop in stance, replace all the bushings...then begin all the brake work. I mocked up all M1D's brackets, calipers and discs, and they look awesome! Perfect fit. Rebuilt engine and trans in the corner...all painted up and ready to install. This site and all the info folks have replied with has been so helpful and valuable. Thanks to All!!
Finally getting to do all the things I wanted to do to this van since I was in my 30's!!
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sandyvan

Number of posts : 404
Location : San Diego, CA
Registration date : 2011-03-13

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by sandyvan on Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:43 pm

Don't forget Donivan's single to double master cylinder conversion! And look out for cracks in the fuel filler hose - I found mine on my prior van when I filled the tank all the way up!

Keep the pictures coming!
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1371
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Vantasia on Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:28 am

sandyvan wrote:Don't forget Donivan's single to double master cylinder conversion! And look out for cracks in the fuel filler hose - I found mine on my prior van when I filled the tank all the way up!

Keep the pictures coming!

That hose is an oddball size, 1-3/8" diameter. Can be found online at this site, sold by the inch so you can get just what you need precut. I ordered an 8-inch piece and it was perfect. Don't try to clamp down a piece of 1-1/2" from an auto store, will leak... also don't use radiator hose, ethanol will eat...
http://www.fillernecksupply.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhs_Fzsm91QIViiSBCh0S1AlVEAAYASAAEgK_KPD_BwE
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1371
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Vantasia on Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:37 am

And one more thingie....install 3-point seat belts! or at the very least lap belts...with discs, the van may stop great, but you won't! and on a 1st gen, 64-66, that glass is closer than you think
LOL.... plenty of options here, lots online, surplus US Army Hummer kits work great, all over eBay, easy to make mounts behind the door pillar and gussets behind the seats....
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Brother James

Number of posts : 12
Location : angier nc
Age : 52
Registration date : 2017-07-11

Re: 66 Restoration, Advice Wanted

Post by Brother James on Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:14 pm

I'm def in on the seat belts! Never have been in a serious accident...but was busted twice in one month by NC's finest! Cost me 500 bucks!! I've gotta look up Donivans master cylinder conversion. I opened the box with the new dual master that was on M1D's list of must haves...and it's huge. I'm facing cutting a good bit of the floor out and its very close to the front sway bar. I'm sure it will work, but less may be more!

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