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BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER.... A's, G's & E's


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    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse

    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:03 pm

    Bear with me... it may take a moment for my thoughts to unravel into the point of a clear question, but I have to get it out! lol

    1st Gen G vans and 61-65 E vans and trucks have doghouses that typically only fit straight engines and appropriate radiators. Seats typically are secured to the floor on the inside mounts via a bent tube leg, which typically is located very close to the doghouse. Add too this that the battery box is usually sandwiched under the driver's seat... modifying the doghouse and floor to accept a V8 is tricky.

    If we first remove the seats from the equation, it seems feasible to be able to cleanly modify the doghouse and floor by expanding the width of the opening of the floor and sides. This way, original bolt hole locations will still enable the fastening of the original doghouse sides to bolt to the floor. While resizing the width, it would be easy to add a transmission hump to the rear panel and floor, as well possibly as a fan to evacuate hot air from the doghouse. Does this part make sense so far?

    Now let's consider the width of the seats... there is not really any room to expand the width of the doghouse lid due to the width of the two bucket seats. So modifications to the panels would still need to form to the original dimensions of the doghouse lid flange, and it's relative location as original to the van, right?

    Let's skip ahead how, and we have a modified doghouse with a V8 stuffed between the frame rails. Now our floor provisions for the seat mounts are likely gone. One method I have seen is the simple attachment of angle iron to the side of the doghouse used as inner seat mounts. However this concerns me, as I don't think that the structure of the doghouse is really designed for the weight of a passenger resting on one side of it. If the factory seat mounts were modified to allow their relocation outboard, I fear they would be flimsy and prone to tilting toward the centreline of the van.

    So here I am, throwing the idea out there in hopes that some brave fabricators may take it on! What if the inner seat mounts were made as one unit... the base being like a u-shaped flange (1/4"?) that would line up with the doghouse bolts that wrap around the front (I think the speed nuts in the floor would have to be replaced with welded nuts and the flange in the floor reinforced possibly), and then steel tubing (legs) could extend up from the base and wrap around the doghouse side contours leading up to a plate for mounting the actual seat to? Possibly with a strap (more 1/4" bent around the front of the doghouse?) to add some support to both the drivers and passenger sides? Alternatively, the legs themselves would not have to be curved around the top contour of the doghouse, but rather run straight up and have a sturdy plate that extends inward to the stock seat mounting bolt locations.

    Here is idea #2 for seat bases... fabricate a new seat base that instead of having separate floor and wheel well seat brackets, uses a one piece seat bracket that bolts to the original wheel well locations and to the floor bolts on the relocated side of the doghouse. Now that the inner support is moved outboard because of the larger doghouse, tieing it to the wheel well bracket provides lateral support! The top plate structure would be sized to fit the regular seat width requirements, and able to overhang the doghouse width beside the lid. No wrap-around issue. would be easier to remove the side doghouse panel which would only require removing one seat and base at a time...

    Oh yeah, the battery box... I think it belongs under the floor.

    What are your thoughts? Any fabricators inspired to weigh in on this? Maybe sketch some ideas? Thanks for reading my ramblings!

    RodStRace
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    Post by RodStRace Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:13 pm

    It's a bit of a ramble, but great ideas come from travels in the mind's wilderness!
    I really like the Dodge's solution, a removable doghouse in sections. If I were to build a G or E, I'd look hard at using this setup.

    On to the seat brackets. I understand what you are trying to convey, and I'd suggest you take a look at Jeep Cherokee seat supports. They have to clear a wide tunnel and support the seat. This could be tied to the outer mount points.
    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse 1012or_24_+1997_jeep_cherokee_xj_buildup+seat_brackets

    There are also the box-like brackets that are under the stock B Dodge van seats. These could be cut and fitted so they bolt to the floor, side of the wheelwell and the outer bolts if needed for strength.
    Digz
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    Post by Digz Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:49 pm

    I almost did try your #2 idea on the brackets. The hitch on the G vans is the fact the motor is off center to the right and of course the DH goes with it, also the radiator is mounted in such a way that it sits way above that line across the arc the 2 wheel wells make. In order to get away from the door pillar with a passenger seat it takes alot of reconfiguring of the rad and possibly lower the engine. Im going to suggest this, and I am going to do it on my next one, posistion your seats where you want them and then make the radiator and engine fit that, I had thot I had allowed enough on my custom setup ,, I was wrong ! LOL I do like the 2nd bracket idea tho, but still think it would need some real surgery on a stock type DH to pull it off, at least on the passenger side . I do not know if a 2nd gen DH takes care of the seat issue or not?? I have not measured either of the A's yet to see how they center up, but dodge overcomes some issues by just pulling some pins and gettin the seat the heck out of the way.

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    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:58 am

    Rod, that is the sort of thing that I was trying to imagine... thank you!

    Digz, Rod's pic and the idea of using separate seat bases for driver and passenger would not work well on a 64-66 G? On the E's, the doghouse is a little biased to the passenger side, and I think on the A's as well. Also, it is a bit of a chore to remove the passenger side doghouse panel at the best of times, never mind if you make the doghouse 4" wider! So do you think that maybe a one-piece seat bracket that ties the drivers and passengers together might be better? Maybe instead of the floor piece wrapping around the doghouse, it would only wrap around the front corners of it so that the side and rear panels could be unbolted without removing the seats?

    So if I was to continue brainstorming on idea #1, what if the seat mounts went from wheelwell to wheelwell, with just the top bars wrapping around the doghouse, but the section that bolts to the floor was only sized and secured similarly to the floor bolts of the front DH segment... from the front would be a post to support the front of the seat, and a gusset to support the rear of it.

    Can you guys tell I'm coming out of a long hibernation?
    RodStRace
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    Post by RodStRace Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:16 pm

    I'd want any seat and support to be easily and quickly removable to allow access to the doghouse.
    Wingnuts and studs, pit pins, over center clamps (think T-top or convertible latches) , something that's strong, but easily removed.
    I can't picture a seat mount that wraps around the front, unless you want to mount stuff up there too.
    The outside rail of the seats should be easy, the inside one that overhangs the doghouse needs to cantelever from around the center of the seat to the inside rail . Easier to support it from the outside than through a strong "U" that goes around the doghouse.....
    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse 1963FordEconoline_03_700
    Digz
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    Post by Digz Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:39 pm

    getting seats that I liked mounted in mine was a time consuming and what seemed like an ever changing process. Just to get a seat in it quick to move it around without falling into the engine I rigged up an engine side cantilevered mount to mount the original stock seat. This was on the drivers side.
    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse Seatbr10
    That didnt last long, then I switched it out to the B Van dodge motor home seats with the fixed back, thats where I came up with the hinged idea to allow access to my engine easier. The hinges bolted to the wheel well and the solid tunnel , the rear anchored to the wheel well and the flip part of my DH. the seat hieght was livable, but my back couldnt take the angle of the seat backs, something to consider in any seat plan,, COMFORT, Then I went with the PT cruiser seats and these only work because of the surgery I did to the tunnel and DH to duplicate the wheel well arch anchor points in order to get them low enough to be comfortable and the fact I can tip them and dont have to worry about the arm rest s being in the way. Ok all that aside. The DH, what you can do with that is going to depend on what you do with your radiator, Like you said ,, you will have to widen it at the bottom ,, Is it possible to narrow it at the top?? And recenter it?? My screw up on my custom one was that I didnt think far enough ahead to do this ! LOL I followed the right hand side lnes that my tunnel made with my top, I should have kicked it to the left or made it wider. For some reason this is only letting me load one pic per post but if you have seen any of build pics you can see what I mean on the DH top being to far right. Anyway more food for thought on your Dh ideas ! For your #2 bracket idea I envisioned a nice curved and rolled piece of 1/4" with some cut outs where extra metal wasn't needed, that anchored at the wheelwell mounts that are there or that you can add and then some cool looking curved legs down to the floor over the frame area , the inner bolts for the seat would be cantilevered over those to clear the DH ?? Sure is hard to convey this isn't it ,,lol Oh well its fun to try figuring it out .
    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:08 pm

    I think so too Rod. I was wondering about using something like hinge pins or hitch pins to hold the seat bases down... something like this...

    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse EC0T

    So you are already a few steps through this process, Digz? So would an inner bracket like that, unified to the wheel well bracket work in a G?

    When thinking about shopping chopping Laughing up my DH, I am contemplating that I would first make a horizontal cut a couple inches below the DH lid. That way after widening the DH, I could rebuild it so that I can get away without having to modify the lid at all... would just need to build out the "ledge" that extends out to the new width of the bottom of the DH. From that, I can imagine the inner seat bolts (the ones in the top of our new-fangled bases) would curl around the new DH shape, and maybe be accessible from underneath... so can either just remove the seat, or the seat and base as one piece.
    Digz
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    Post by Digz Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:24 pm

    I havent done that bracket, but may on the next one, I already swiped the Dodge version of seat mounts with the pins, if the seats have the flat layout on the rails its pretty easy, but you still have to watch seat hieght if you get anything bulky in the cushions.
    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse 1-2-1114
    4 pins and the seats come out.
    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse 12-30-12
    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:54 am

    AWESOME! cheers
    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:07 am

    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse 1232806131_EJPWH-L

    Who's is this? Crowen maybe? Just thought it might be ideal here in the topic.
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    Post by Guest Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:25 am

    Thats mine. I used a gas tank cut in half to make the extensions. Looks factory.
    Twinpilot001
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    Post by Twinpilot001 Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:31 am

    Cool Idea!! Gas tank extensions!!! cheers
    RodStRace
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    Post by RodStRace Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:12 am

    Gotta think outside (and in) the box!
    Any well-formed metal that will work is fair game.
    Think about all those old barbeque lids, wheelbarrows, anything that was deeply drawn and will hold it's shape.
    As shown in kmarque's example, you often don't need the doghouse widened all the way up, just from the frame rails to above the valve covers.
    For a good idea of what you really need, have the engine and radiator all in position, then cover it all with something that's an inch thick or so (for air flow and clearance). This is the minimum shape you need to duplicate in metal and have it removable for servicing.
    sasktrini
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    Post by sasktrini Mon May 02, 2011 9:15 am

    Cool! Great tip, Rod!
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    Post by gmp Sat May 14, 2011 10:43 pm

    glad to see others are thinking about how to make room in these big little doghouses.. hope i can bring some insight to this thread in the future when i start moding mine.
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    Post by chester42 Sun May 15, 2011 7:07 am

    Here is how I mounted the Fiero seats in My 64 G10. 2 x 1/4 flat bar on DH and an angleed bracket on wheelwell. No adjuster to keep as low as can be as wife and are same height.Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse Hpim1812

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    Post by Twinpilot001 Sun May 15, 2011 7:28 am

    Nice!! Thanx
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    Post by AzDon Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:12 pm

    I'm intrigued by this thread even four years later!.....I'm just getting started on a 69 model 108 chevy.....I'm considering moving the engine rearward 18 inches, down 2 and re-centering it.... I visualize leaving the front half of the doghouse in place, but cutting it down so I have more seating options and can sit in line with the steering column......I'd lay radiator and coolers back and use electric fans. The hatch part of the box would  be the rear half and I'm thinking a third-gen chevy doghouse lid here..... This van is rust free and I'm still building the courage to start cutting, but after pulling spark plugs, I'm sure I want better access when I swap engines......I was in the garage earlier looking at the 3/4 plywood doghouse I made for my daycruiser 15 years ago using bevels, screws, epoxy and fiberglass resin and thinking HMMM...... It's not even insulated and cuts engine sounds and heat considerably!
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    Post by dan nachel Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:07 pm

    I made mine much like kmarque did but I cut the sides off the doghouse and moved them outward. Then I used sheet metal to make the part he did with the gas tank, so the corners on mine are square. The epanded part of the doghouse is behind the front bolt for the inboard seat mount. Where the seat bracket turned down for the rear bolt, I cut it off level with the expanded side panel and welded a bolt into the end and drilled a hole in the top of the expanded part. Then I put a nut under. The bracket is still removable just like the stock one, just reaching the rear bolt by wrench inside the dog house.
    Digz
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    Post by Digz Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:38 am

    I have one I moved the engine back 14". Will end up with a 8-10 " drive shaft depending on where you measure it. The engines are off centered to keep the drive line straight as the pinion is not at center. Savages 65 RatTrap also has the engine moved back and is a runner. Check his threads out on it.
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    Post by AzDon Mon Jan 02, 2023 8:50 am

    This thread was four years old when I first commented on it in 2015 during the beginning of my 108 build.....
    I'm sure everybody that was in this discussion either figured something awesome out or they didn't and we all moved on...
    I got a tremendous amount of inspiration from this thread (and the courage to start cutting) and cannot even express how much this community has inspired me to keep moving ahead...I'm not sure where I'd be without the inspiration...

    For me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for doghouse and seat orientation to solve all the issues I'd seen in the past in early chevy vans....
    I didn't even have a completely clear picture of all the details, but I created on the fly and got a result that I'm happy with...It started with cutting away the rear third of the box and 18 inches of floor behind that and determining where the engine/trans would be and building the enclosure and seating to fit properly and seal and for it all to be quickly and easily removable for ease of servicing.....
    My driver seat sits squarely in front of the steering column with pedal ergonomics that suit me perfectly......
    I've got dozens of pictures posted here:

    https://vintage-vans.forumotion.com/t59138-azdon-s-108

    I'm a lousy artist, so the only way that I felt I could communicate my intentions effectively was to build them out and explain the pictures...

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    Post by Digz Thu Jan 05, 2023 10:30 am

    Idea for stuffing V8's in a narrow doghouse Ready_10

    This was my first doghouse and tunnel. After realizing my back couldn't live with the straight backed seats I had I re-cut to fit in PT Cruisers. Best thing I ever did. If they aren't fun to drive.. ya ain't gonna drive them.

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    Post by dix Thu Jan 05, 2023 2:26 pm

    digz good to see ya here. missed ya at the nats


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    Post by Digz Tue Jan 24, 2023 7:03 pm

    Yeah Dix, I was ready to go but my back said otherwise. July and into August was a bust for me to do anything. I mean I had it 90% packed and everything! Not sure on this year yet, that'd be quite a haul in the 65. Van would make it ... not sure I could ! LOL
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    Post by AzDon Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:03 am

    Digz-
    Your doghouse pics are what inspired me to start cutting away my original doghouse and pushing forward on a doghouse design that would ultimately work best for me...

    I had previously built a doghouse for my original first-gen that had the sides attached to the rear and found it to be too big, heavy, bulky and cumbersome to pull out of the van, when needed. so I was forever working around it instead....
    I built the one in my current van to have removable side walls, so it can be easily removed in sections.....
    It's a 108, so I built the seat mounts atop the front 2/3 of the existing factory box, which is plenty wide, but now has a flat lid across the top of the side bells that the seats partially sit on top of...
    One of the most gratifying things about building a van is that they were crude and incomplete from the factory, so a builder is EXPECTED to create something "custom" and "bitchin" beyond the original blueprint.....
    The downside is that very few off-the-shelf parts can be sourced, so fab skills are mandatory...

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