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'56 Chevy stuff
Old 08-23-2007, 11:33 PM   #1
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'56 Chevy stuff

We have a '56 chevy 210 wagon that has been in her family since 1960. The 235that was in it lost timing gears in Minden Nevada as we brought it north many moons ago. I swapped in a 216 6, but didn't have the skill or $$ to do a good job. Then bent the hood. It then sat inside in storage for a dozen years or more till we dragged it out and decided to bring it back. Over the last year the body has been massaged, all the desert alligatored paint ground off, all the damage from doing duty as a water hauling rig for horses down in the desert has been replaced, and it has a new coat of paint. Just sprang for new glass all around. Now. It's power train time. I'm thinking that this could do duty as a 4 door/4 person hauler, a trailer puller, a cruise to wherever car, allowing me to retire my '93 BMW 525it work truck for the rentals. The gal and I could then each have a little fun car - maybe a minicooper or a Smart car, maybe a pumped up BMW E30 or a Chery.... The '56 would have to be trustworthy. What I'm thinking is a rebuilt fuel injected 5.7L/4 spd. automatic from a '94 ex-patrol car Caprice. 4 wheel discs would be nice. At about 500# lighter than the Caprice it should perform fairly well, while delivering maybe 18-24mpg city/hwy. Any of you wrenches or ex LEOs got any thoughts? Gotchas? Have to get the rear end ratio on the Caprice - it's been suggested that the 6 cyl chevy rear end won't hold up and a 9" Ford should be substituted.

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Old 08-24-2007, 01:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
We have a '56 chevy 210 wagon that has been in her family since 1960. The 235that was in it lost timing gears in Minden Nevada as we brought it north many moons ago. I swapped in a 216 6, but didn't have the skill or $$ to do a good job. Then bent the hood. It then sat inside in storage for a dozen years or more till we dragged it out and decided to bring it back. Over the last year the body has been massaged, all the desert alligatored paint ground off, all the damage from doing duty as a water hauling rig for horses down in the desert has been replaced, and it has a new coat of paint. Just sprang for new glass all around. Now. It's power train time. I'm thinking that this could do duty as a 4 door/4 person hauler, a trailer puller, a cruise to wherever car, allowing me to retire my '93 BMW 525it work truck for the rentals. The gal and I could then each have a little fun car - maybe a minicooper or a Smart car, maybe a pumped up BMW E30 or a Chery.... The '56 would have to be trustworthy. What I'm thinking is a rebuilt fuel injected 5.7L/4 spd. automatic from a '94 ex-patrol car Caprice. 4 wheel discs would be nice. At about 500# lighter than the Caprice it should perform fairly well, while delivering maybe 18-24mpg city/hwy. Any of you wrenches or ex LEOs got any thoughts? Gotchas? Have to get the rear end ratio on the Caprice - it's been suggested that the 6 cyl chevy rear end won't hold up and a 9" Ford should be substituted.

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Go for it. The '56 Chev rear end will work fine. I use to have a '56 Chevy convertible that I ran a modified 301CID (283 bored to 301; 11:1 forged pistons; 3-2s; Duntov .030-.030 cam; headers; Muncie 4-speed). The nice thing about the Chevy rear end is that it is a drop-out center section like the Ford 9". Easy to have a different gear set handy for playing. I use to alternate between 4.56s; 4.11s; and 3.7s. Never had any problems withe the Chev rear ends - and I abused them.

I am running a 9" Ford with 4.11s in my '40 Ford coupe. But that engine is supercharged besides the usually mods. The Ford 9" is a tough rear end, but over kill for many applications.
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Old 08-24-2007, 08:43 AM   #3
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The 56 came with a 265 and I can remember running with a friend of mine when I was a kid and the cam broke in half. Long time ago!

I would keep the original rear until it blew up. You can do up grades with better axles and carrier if need be. Since your using a standard motor and not some big block HP monster it should last a while.
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Old 08-24-2007, 12:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
...The '56 would have to be trustworthy. What I'm thinking is a rebuilt fuel injected 5.7L/4 spd. automatic from a '94 ex-patrol car Caprice. 4 wheel discs would be nice. At about 500# lighter than the Caprice it should perform fairly well, while delivering maybe 18-24mpg city/hwy. Any of you wrenches or ex LEOs got any thoughts? Gotchas? Have to get the rear end ratio on the Caprice - it's been suggested that the 6 cyl chevy rear end won't hold up and a 9" Ford should be substituted.

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Calmloki,

There are a lot of guys running fuel injections in the tri-fives. The only hiccup would be motor mounts, but I'm pretty sure a little research will cure that. I would bet they have mounts you can buy to make it easy.

My wife's Impy SS has the LT1 you refer too. It's an awesome engine, trustworthy, and has excellent longevity. Many of the ex-law Cappys end up as taxis, since the drivetrain is so dependable. The only bad thing about the LT1 is the distributor (Optispark as it's called) is mounted below the waterpump, and can be troublesome. Don't rule out a new crate motor, either. You can buy one, fuel injected or not, plug and play right out of the box, from GM.

I wouldn't worry about the rear end under the wagon, unless you plan on wringing it out on a daily basis. DW's Imp has 3.08 gears, which is great for road trips. If you used an O/D trans, you could utilize a bit shorter gearing, and maximize your torque curve while keeping some highway manners.


edit:
Awesome ride by the way. I'm jealous. Good luck with the build. Thanks for the pics.
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56 rear end
Old 08-24-2007, 04:55 PM   #5
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56 rear end

this is Mr BBBAMI - I'm not familiar with the original rear ends on the 56. You might think about a 10 or 12 bolt Chevy. The 10 bolt is probably plenty for your engine and either would give you a good selection of axle ratios.

The Ford is good but I'm one of those "all in the family" guys. No Ford parts on a Chevy and vise versa with the exception of the early Fords with Chevy small blocks!
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:33 PM   #6
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Glad to see there's a Mr. BBBAMI.

I don't know how easy it would be to put a 10 or 12 bolt into a 56.

My 73SS has a 10 bolt and it's a bit of work to put in a 12 bolt but it has been done. Last year for a 12 bolt in a chevelle was 72. My SS 454 has a 342 posi which is what it came with.

Not sure of the ratio in the 56 with a 6 cylinder but I'll bet it's in the 3 series becaus of the weight and the under powered engine. A higher ratio is the only thing that would get her going.
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:49 PM   #7
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The 10 bolt 8.5" 'corporate' axle is fine for my own '40 coupe with lightly modded 350/350, and except for most lacking posi (but can find with) should be a good choice for a ride like yours -- they are cheap, easy to find, and instead of rebuilding/fixing if it breaks, cheaper just to go find another from a Camaro. If it were me, I'd use the one you got for a while, and just be careful to 'stress test' <smile> close to home, until you can sure it's up to the task.

The 10 bolt came in my 1971 SS 396, and held up just fine.


Posi 10-Bolt Upgrade Install - Tech Article - Chevy High Performance Magazine
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:13 PM   #8
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Did a bit more research (surfing, reading, deciphering option codes, listening..). This '56 came with a 235 6 cylinder - i didn't realize that the 8 cylinder of the time was a 265ci. Since it was a 3 speed it had a 3.7 ratio rear end. The '94 Caprice has a M30 trans - a 4l60e, which seems to be a computer controlled 700r4. In any case, a 4 speed overdrive trans that feeds a 3.08 rear end. While I'm awful tempted by the idea of running the stock drum brakes and rear end it seems like that would be major overkill in the torque department and the engine would be spinning pretty fast on the highway. Initial looking around found a ring/pinion set for about $250 - but then it needs to be set up, new bearings etc.. Was quoted about $700 to narrow the Caprice rearend and weld on spring perches + $150 to make the ebrakes work. That would give the car a ratio that worked for a 5-600# heavier car plus disc brakes in back - if we decided to go away from the leaf springs at some point in the future we would have a more advanced starting point.
This Caprice has about 130,000 miles and no power - we will either go with a rebuild (I'm hoping we get lucky and find a wiped cam or burned valves and can leave the bottom end alone). Full rebuild for this roller cam LT1 would be about $900 less than a crate engine at the gal's dealership price. We went in and talked with a car builder today - Lotsa choices!
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:45 PM   #9
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The 700r4 has an overdrive if I remember correctly so I don't think the 3.7 rear will be too bad. I would leave it alone and do it last after all the other stuff is done. Hey, if the 6 cyl. came from the factory with the 3.7 I don't see how the V-8 and overdrive will have a problem.
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Old 08-24-2007, 10:35 PM   #10
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id leave the old rear end in there til it blows...if it does. throw an overdrive trans in there....and youre set....i think.

if not, i'd go with the aforementiond 10 bold 8.5" rear that was in soooo many cars in the 70s/80s. cheap from a junkyard in good condition...posi even
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Old 08-28-2007, 01:26 PM   #11
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I'd run the factory rearend. I think you will like the 3.7 gearing plus the overdrive from the 4l60e. The gearing will help your lower end torque. You can save the $850+ of rearend work until you decide you don't like the factory rearend/OD setup.

Impalassforum.com has LOADS of LT1 buildup information if you are interested
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Old 08-28-2007, 03:38 PM   #12
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id leave the old rear end in there til it blows...if it does. throw an overdrive trans in there....and youre set....i think.

if not, i'd go with the aforementiond 10 bold 8.5" rear that was in soooo many cars in the 70s/80s. cheap from a junkyard in good condition...posi even
Sounds like a plan..........
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