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Ecklers AutoMotive
Username Post: 1956 Bel Air        (Topic#355177)
mrrmrenfield 
Poster
Posts: 4

Reg: 02-10-19
02-10-19 08:50 PM - Post#2759599    

Hey all! I just picked up a 56 Bel Air two/ten.

The car is in great shape but not perfect - exactly what I wanted for a nearly daily-driven car.

As far as I can tell, the car is all stock with original parts. (repainted with original colors).

It does need a few things I would like to do to it and I am looking to everyone here for opinions and suggestions....

It has a decent oil leak at the rear seal where it meets the transmission. (This is the two barrel carb small block)
- Sound like a leaky rear main seal to you guys?
- How crazy would I be to buy a crate motor for this car? (assuming the bottom end needed to be rebuilt?)

The Speedo does not work (hovers at 0mph, then at highway speeds, hovers at a ambitious 110mph)
- What should I look into to fix this?

The temperature gauge does not work at all
- Is this possibly a fuse or would the panel for this be bad?

None of the dash panel lights up when the car lights are turned on (they are supposed to right?
- Am I going to have to pull the whole dash to get to this instrument cluster or is there a way to pull the speedo/temp/gas gauge cluster?

The wipers don't work (but seem like they want to) they just weakly go up about halfway then give up and go back down.
- Where should I start in looking to fix this?

As I drive this car a lot, I would like to get power brakes, and likely disc brakes at that.
- Any suggestions? Any kits that a average joe can swap out/install in the garage?

Thanks all!!!



 
Ecklers AutoMotive
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-11-19 07:06 AM - Post#2759606    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

Congrats on the purchase of your 56 and welcome to the forum. We all love 56s. How about a picture or two? I have some ideas about some of your problems.

Yes, I believe you have a bad rear main seal. If the engine is in good shape, it is worth pulling the pan and replacing the seal. That would be a lot cheaper than a crate engine. That said, if you want more power or if the engine is tired and ready for a rebuild, a crate engine might be just the ticket. I replaced a tired, high mileage, Camaro TPI engine in my '53 with a carbureted Blueprint 350 and never looked back. It was money well spent.

First thing I would do on the speedometer is pull the cable. It may be frayed or need lubricant. Check the routing of the cable housing too and be sure there are no kinks anywhere. If that looks okay, then you may need a new or rebuilt speedometer head. After disconnecting the cable housing from the back of the speedometer try to spin the speedometer from the back and see if the needle moves normally. If it seems hard to turn or does not spin freely, the speedometer head may be bad.

Temperature gauge could be either the gauge or the sender. Is it a mechanical or electrical gauge?

Dash lights are controlled with the headlight switch. They should come on at their brightest when you turn the knob all the way counterclockwise and diminish in brightness as you turn the knob clockwise. If they do not come on the rheostat in the headlight switch may be bad and replacement of the switch may be in order. However, there could also be a loss of power or ground to the instruments so that would also be a possibility. I've never pulled a 56 dash cluster so someone else will have to help with that.

Sounds like you may have vacuum wipers. You may have to replace your wiper motor or have it rebuilt. There are conversions to electric wipers available if you would prefer that. There are people around who rebuild vacuum wiper motors. Check around.

As far as power brakes go, that would be very easy. A 1963 Chevy power brake master cylinder and booster is a bolt on for your 56. There are kits available to convert to discs but that would require a different master cylinder. I did the 63 Chevy swap to a 57 Chevy I had years ago. Worked great. The 63 master cylinder is a single reservoir cylinder and most prefer a dual for safety purposes. If you go with discs you will need a disc/drum master cylinder with dual reservoirs.



Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
mrrmrenfield 
Poster
Posts: 4

Reg: 02-10-19
02-11-19 10:17 AM - Post#2759622    
    In response to GreatNorthWoods

Thanks for the info!

Lets see here...

- I am going to pull the speedo and take a look at that. Does that involve pulling the whole dash, or can i just unscrew and remove the gauge cluster?

- The temp gauge is the original one in the dash so... not sure yet (just learning this car!)

- Ah, I will give the knob a turn (I just pulled it out with the two pull clicks, never thought it might rotate too...)

- I would rather do the electric motor wipers. Any suggestions on a kit? Otherwise I will just look out for whats new and available...

- Great info on the brakes! I will take a look at what I can find.

Thanks!







 
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-13-19 05:27 AM - Post#2759798    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

Sorry, double post.

Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-13-19 05:28 AM - Post#2759799    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

She's a beauty. Love that color combination. I do remember pulling the dash instruments from a '57 but it was many years ago. You definitely do not have to remove the whole dash. You can remove the speedometer cable and housing by reaching under the dash and unscrewing the housing from the speedometer head. Then there are some screws you have to remove from the cluster and it should come out. Maybe someone who has done this recently could chime in here and be more specific. I believe 1956 was the first year for an electric temperature gauge. After you have the instrument cluster out you will find that the temperature gauge is easily replaced. Check with Danchuk, Classicchevy, or others for a replacement. Check with Newport for an electric wiper system or you might find a good used original one on Ebay. Good luck!

Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
TR56210 
Poster
Posts: 64

Reg: 10-28-18
02-13-19 09:34 AM - Post#2759813    
    In response to GreatNorthWoods

Nice car!

I know I am spending your money here, so hang in there with me.

Order

Electric wiper
Headlight switch
Temp sending unit
Dash gage bulbs
Speedometer cable
Ignition switch
And new radio, for wife valentine 🎁

Once all in hand, especially if you are a large frame person, take five minutes and remove the front seat.

Dash gage comes out in one unit. While there change dash bulbs, just because. Temp gage could be lose connection or tired sending unit. Headlight switch and ignition switch, consider preventative maintenance.

A screw driver, paperclip and pliers is about all you need to do this. This approach solves the problems you mention and prevents future problems and should take about two hours tops.



 
mrrmrenfield 
Poster
Posts: 4

Reg: 02-10-19
02-13-19 11:49 AM - Post#2759830    
    In response to TR56210

Great! I was hoping to not have to remove the dash.

Ok, yeah, I will pull it this weekend and take a look at whats there. Then probably follow your advice and get a few new switches.

Howe hard is it to replace vacuum wipers with electric ones? Just a bolt on replace or do i need to add any brackets or mounts or the like?



 
TR56210 
Poster
Posts: 64

Reg: 10-28-18
02-13-19 01:07 PM - Post#2759838    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

I don’t know, my 56 had electric motor. My assumptions are you need to plug vacuum at source and run KO power. Certain that the how to will be in the instructions or can get advance look at your parts source online before you buy.



 
4dr 57 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4576
4dr 57
Loc: Texas Hill Country
Reg: 11-10-04
02-14-19 05:19 AM - Post#2759903    
    In response to TR56210

nice looking car!!
Spare yourself some grief when you change brakes.
have a 4wd brake set up put on. Wilwood if possible.


It's all good. mostly




 
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-14-19 05:24 AM - Post#2759904    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

If I remember correctly, the original electric wiper motor bolts right into the same space the vacuum wiper motor did. All you would have to do is run a 12v power wire to it with an inline fuse and some kind to switch to operate it at the dash. You could even use a toggle switch mounted under front edge of the dash. I assume an aftermarket system like Newport or others would also bolt into the same space but I cannot be sure since I have never installed one.

Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-14-19 05:38 AM - Post#2759906    
    In response to 4dr 57

I agree with the 4-wheel disc brakes suggestion. I have 4-wheel discs on my 53 Sport Coupe and I love them. However, I have a Nova rear end and relatively inexpensive discs are available for that rear. I think I paid about $400 for mine. There are kits for stock 55-57 Chevys for front and rear discs but they are a little pricey at around $1200-1500. How deep are your pockets?

Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
mrrmrenfield 
Poster
Posts: 4

Reg: 02-10-19
02-14-19 09:37 AM - Post#2759914    
    In response to GreatNorthWoods

My pockets are not crazy deep, but I feel like there are a few things that if I got, the car would be a great amount more fun to drive.

Brakes are one of those things.

I have 100% plans on getting the all four disc hydraulic brake setup for this car, I just need to figure out which kit to get.

I am planning on calling these guys to help select an option for this car.
http://www.classicperform.com/fullsize.htm#1

Has anyone installed a disc brake system on their own in the garage? How hard was it?

If not, does anyone know of a good link to someone who does a walkthough?



 
GreatNorthWoods 
"5th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 948
GreatNorthWoods
Age: 76
Loc: Littleton, New Hampshire,...
Reg: 03-31-02
02-15-19 06:49 AM - Post#2759975    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

I'm beyond the age where I can do all of of my own work anymore so I had my local garage install mine. It only took a few hours and was not excessively expensive.

Vern

1953 Chevy Belair Sport Coupe - 355 Blueprint Engine, 700-R4, Vintage Air, EZ Wire, Ididit column, Cruise/Tilt, 59 Vette Steering Wheel, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Posies Springs, Coker Radials, Nova 10-bolt, Mustang II front, Continental Kit


 
Algoma56 
Contributor
Posts: 708

Loc: Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Can...
Reg: 03-14-05
02-15-19 06:54 AM - Post#2759977    
    In response to mrrmrenfield

Original electric wiper motor bolts in place of the vacuum unit. It is controlled by the slide switch and cable like the vacuum ones. You'll have to get power to it, one lead. There is some adjustment on the control cable right at the motor; you'll see that when you install it.
Instrument cluster comes out of the dash. Been a while since I worked on one, so I can't recall how many screws, etc.



 
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