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Episode Transcript

(Marc)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Marc)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we get down and dirty with a junkyard axle and plop it under the rear of our dragstrip Caddy. Plus we'll give the interior a grim upgrade but what we find lying under the seat will give you chills. Now on Detroit Muscle. [ engines revving ] [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Hey everybody, welcome to Detroit Muscle. We're part way through the resurrection of our Cadillac hearse here. Let's just say we're trying to get a 6,000 pound car to do what 6,000 pound cars are not supposed to do, and that is go quick down the drag strip. We're kinda stuck in purgatory now, kinda half way. We've added a ton of power under the hood, a shot of nitrous, and we upgraded the transmission with a shift kit and sprinkled on a couple of other goodies like side pipes and a fuel cell.

(Tommy)>> What we haven't touched is the brakes, suspension, and rear axle. You can tell that all of these are engineered for the rider, not the driver. So we're gonna cure all those illnesses today and get started back here.

With the rear axle up under our hearse it has some good going for it but not a whole lot. First off it does have a factory pos in it, and I would imagine it's in there because of this scenario. Can you imagine this old car off the beaten path on a soft grassy spot? Absolutely, so having that pos would be an added benefit. Now with our gear ratio that's in this thing it's what I call airplane gears. It's real long legged. If we were gonna stretch it out on the interstate it'd be perfectly fine, but since we're gonna take this thing down the dragstrip some deeper gears are in order and there's not really any aftermarket support. So we can't swap those out. The next thing is the brakes. This thing's got drums and shoes. We're looking for something a little bit more efficient, and swapping over to a disc setup can be pricey and labor intensive. So this has got to go. [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Well I like to give Tommy a hard time and tell him if you want to fix up a GM put some Ford parts in it. Well we're doing that again today, but instead of a nine inch rear we're actually doing a 9.75 rear out of a first gen Expedition. I know what you're thinking. Why a truck rear? Well there's a long going off of this thing. It's got that big ring gear. It's got a pos unit, 3.73 gears already in here from the factory, and massive 13 inch disc brakes out back that will blow those drum brakes away. There are some drawbacks though. It's got several mounts that we're gonna have to cut off. This was a four link with a pan hard rod, and it's got perches here for coil springs. We're probably gonna have to cut most of this out of the way, but for a $200 investment I'll do a little torching and welding. [ MUSIC ] We're using our oxy acetylene torch to do the heavy cutting. This is a tool we don't use that often in the shop but it's definitely something handy to have around. [ torch hissing ]

(Marc)>> With the brackets cut out of the way we'll grind down the leftovers with our four and a half inch disc. [ grinder buzzing ]

(Marc)>> The goal here is to get the majority of the metal removed. Then we can follow that up with a flapper wheel to smooth it out. [ grinder buzzing ]

(Tommy)>> Looks like you're making some pretty good progress there bud.

(Marc)>> No thanks to you.

(Tommy)>> I appreciate all your contributions, and since you're all gussied up I need you to whack them pads off.

(Marc)>> Alright. [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> After getting this thing skinned back it's ready to find its new home. [ MUSIC ] Recycling our old bracket and some hardware makes locating this thing a walk in the park. [ drill buzzing ]

(Tommy)>> From the factory our old Cadillac cam with these little rubber bumpers that were here on the top and bottom side of the leaf spring. They were designed to dampen and control vibrations for better ride quality, but with the purpose that we're going with old big hearse that's not necessarily good because that would cause some deflection. So them things are hitting the trash can.

(Marc)>> With that said we've got the axle sitting pretty much where it's gonna live but we've still got to dial in the exact location. We've got to measure it side to side. Make sure it's centered in the car, and then also set the pinion angle, but we can't do that second one yet because we want to make sure that the car's sitting on the ground, the suspension completely compressed, and sitting at ride height. Not gonna be able to do that for a while. So we might as well move on to getting the rest of our suspension and brakes installed. [ MUSIC ] Up next, a suspension setup that will shockingly improve grip on the dragstrip.

(Tommy)>> Our big block Caddy is gonna make a significant torque number, and with us taking this thing down the track we want it to have the best passing review as possible. So what that means is we need all the traction that we can get. Now normally when people think about traction they think about the back side of the car with a massive slick when in all reality up front is a truck load of it. What I'm referring to is weight. If we can get some of what's up here to shift back there whenever we smash on the skinny pedal that'll do us some good. The way we're planning to do it is relatively economical, and that is with some drag racing shocks, but one slight snag. They don't make a direct application for a '76 hearse. Can you believe it? There's really no need in it. We're gonna get that old one out and we're gonna make something happen.

(Marc)>> A little bit of SeaFoam Deep Creep will help penetrate that rusty shock hardware, and Tommy's favorite tool coupled with a ratcheting wrench, and the hard part's done, and underneath the lower mount comes out with a single bolt. [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Those old front shocks come out a whole lot easier than I was anticipating, and for any of you guys who've had to wrestle them things out you know what I mean. Now up front we're gonna be running a set of the 90/10 Lakewood Industry shocks. These will give us the maximum amount of lift whenever we smash on that gas pedal to plant that back side of the hearse. Now out back we're gonna be using a set of their 50/50, and this is what those numbers mean. A 90/10 shock extends rather quickly while the compressions stroke is much slower. A 50/50 compresses and extends at a similar rate with both actions. So when we leave the starting line we want the car to lift in the front while the rear compresses a bit to load the rear suspension. Then while moving down the track the front will slowly start to come back down and this allows the car to maintain traction as we make our pass. Without this action the tires won't bite as hard and we could simply just smoke them coming off the line. Let's get started on the front. Now looking at these things side by side they're basically the same except for this end. We're gonna press this sleeve out, try to get in there, and then we can move forward. The arbor press sure does make this task a whole lot easier. If you didn't want to reuse this old stuff you could use a piece of tubing but you'd have to make sure that it had the proper o-d and i-d, but since these old shocks are junk it just makes sense to reuse them. That got it. [ MUSIC ] Now this upgrade has been straight forward, and now we just need to cinch everything down. On this upper mount the rule of thumb is you want to tighten this nut until that lower grommet is squished out enough that it's the same diameter as that washer. [ MUSIC ] To get these rear shocks up under the Cadillac I'm gonna have to do some modifying. What I've hit is it's about two inches shorter than that factory one. As far as the compression length it's really close. It's only about a quarter inch or so off. That's not worth fooling with. So I'm gonna have to come up with that extra two inches somewhere. Let's do a little measuring to see where we're at. We're at 19 inches. This isn't gonna work. The suspension is loaded, meaning it's compressed, and our new shock is 18 and three quarter fully extended. So that means we would have no out travel or down travel. So we've got to determine whether we want to move this one up or that one down, and that one there is gonna be the one we're gonna cut on. [ grinder buzzing ]

(Tommy)>> In situations like this we could make a new shock mount but since the factory tab is welded onto the frame it's just as easy for us to cut them off and move them down. [ welder crackling ]

(Tommy)>> Since we're gonna be putting this thing under a lot of stress we made a couple of little gussets, and all that's left is to burn them in. [ welder crackling ]

(Tommy)>> The rest is pretty straight forward. Just like this old Caddy is going to be when it hits the dragstrip. [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Coming up, how bad are the brakes on this old Caddy? Well let's just say we found a replacement that's plug and play.

(Marc)>> Well we're making great headway on our Cadillac hearse. We've got drag shocks in it on all four corners. We got our rear end installed. We haven't set the pinion angle yet but like I mentioned earlier we're gonna wait until the car is on the ground to do that, but as for the brakes they need some attention. As you can see these rotors are very rusty. This isn't just surface rust. They're pretty heavily pitted. This thing sat in a junkyard for who knows how long. Several years probably. We may be able to get those resurfaced but it's really not worth it. Just want to replace them, and besides we want to do an upgrade. As for the pads they're not in great shape either. The friction material's worn almost all the way down and the backing plates are rusty. So we decided to go to EBC Brakes for one of their pad and rotor kits. This is their Stage 5 Super Street kit which includes dimpled and slotted rotors that are corrosion protected with a geomet coating. As for the pads, well these are the Yellow Stuff. You've seen us use these before. This is a full race pad that's also capable of street use. It's got great bite from cold. So it's ideal for your daily driver that you take to the track from time to time. If we're spending money to upgrade our rear this is a great place to do it. [ drill buzzing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Let's see what we've got here. Let's get these pads off of here. They're actually not as worn as I thought they were. Probably 50 percent but they are pretty rusty. This slide is loose. Let's check the other one. That one's frozen but we may be able to free it up but we need to check the piston, get it compressed. Nope, the piston's frozen in the caliper. This is very common, especially on junkyard rears. We could probably rebuild the caliper but I've got a better solution. [ MUSIC ] So this is a Duralast remanufactured caliper that we got from AutoZone. It's made to meet or exceed o-e specifications. This thing's completely rebuilt, all new parts. Already lubed up, ready to go on the vehicle, and we even upgrade the hose as well because our hoses were already trashed, which again is typical with junkyard rear ends. So this is what we're gonna use to fix up our brakes. We're gonna have a brand new brake system here in the rear of our Caddy. [ MUSIC ] [ compressed air hissing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> We'll slide our new rotor on. Then we can remove the old clips and replace them with the new ones that came with our calipers. We slather on a little disc brake lube and install the new caliper. [ MUSIC ] [ drill buzzing ]

(Marc)>> Another cool thing about these Duralast calipers is not only do they have new brake caliper bolts but they also have a new banjo bolt pre-installed with the copper gasket. So all you need to do is install your hose and tighten it down, and you're good to go. [ MUSIC ] Well since we switched to disc brakes we're gonna have to re-do our lines back here. I'm gonna go ahead and mount this hose on the frame, make some new hard lines, and once I get that terminated this'll be ready for some wheels and tires.

(Tommy)>> One thing that you may run into if you're doing an odd duck conversion like we are on that Cadillac as far as the rear is finding a set of wheels that's gonna match front and rear and the attitude of your ride. Luckily for us we found this jewel. This is a stock wheel that would come on an F-150 but it would be the spare. This is Ford's attempt to save some cash. Now like I mentioned we wanted the front and rear to match, and Summit had exactly what we needed. This is a US wheel that they offer as a rat rod series, and with a splash of color on these, maybe some pin stripes, and even some chrome lug nuts that'll church it up a bit. Now I just need to clean, scuff, and we'll be ready to paint. [ MUSIC ] We're gonna spray these down with some wax and grease remover because of the potential contamination that may be on them. Then a little hand jiving with a red pad will prep the surface for our paint, and one more wipe down and she's ready to go. [ MUSIC ] I'm gonna spray on two coats of Summit Racing's jet black base coat, and then two coats of clear. I want those wheels to be as shinny as a new penny. [ MUSIC ] We're gonna mix up a few ounces of paint, add our reducer, and a small splash of hardener. You want to make sure to mix this thoroughly. [ MUSIC ] And now it's ready for trigger time. [ MUSIC ] Painting wheels can be a little complicated because of all the curves and opposing angles. The trick here is to make sure everything is covered with a nice even coat. [ MUSIC ] After a few minutes to let this flash off we're ready to start our second coat of black. [ MUSIC ] Once that's dried it's time to spray on our shinny. [ MUSIC ] Now we've got to let our goodies in the booth dry for a little while so that we can handle them, and while they're doing their thing I'm gonna tell you about the rear tires that we're gonna be running up under our Cadillac. I went to Summit Racing and picked up a set of M&H Racemaster d-o-t approved tires. These are a 275/50 R-17 that are 10.5 inches wide. They're gonna fill up that steel wheel we're gonna be running, and it's gonna look pretty killer when we're all said and done. [ MUSIC ] [ air hissing ]

(Tommy)>> Now the next thing I'm gonna do with this tire machine is add my pin stripe. It's time to do some painting. I know most people don't use them for this but this rotating deck's gonna help. [ MUSIC ] Now it's nice looking piece. Now we've just got to get it up on the car. [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Up next, we dig out the seat in our Cadillac hearse to make room for some racing buckets but what we found along the way was an eerie surprise.

(Tommy)>> Well this journey of us resurrecting this old Cadillac hearse has been quite a unique situation, and I have to say I'm so glad that we're getting dangerously close to the end of it primarily because I'm running out of clever and creepy sayings to describe this thing. It's kinda killing me.

(Marc)>> Well the one thing we haven't touched would have to be the living room here, and it leaves a lot to be desired although it is pretty comfy and retro looking. We need to upgrade the dash a little bit, maybe with some gauges so we can keep an eye on that engine, and then also our seat here. It is cushy and it looks cool but it's not gonna provide the support we need, especially driving down the dragstrip. So this thing has to go. I can get this couch out of here and maybe I'll find some treasures between the cushions. [ MUSIC ] [ drill buzzing ]

(Marc)>> Well I already found some treasure and it wasn't coins between the cushions. Part of a latex exam glove box, and it's definitely got some age to it. Can't wait to see what else we find under there. [ MUSIC ] Well I didn't find any coins between the cushions like I thought I would but there's plenty of treasure to be had here under the seat. Now earlier I found that box that was for latex gloves. Check this out, an actual latex glove that's been under here for I don't know how long. I don't like touching this with my gloves on. Then you've got a flat head screwdriver, pair of pliers. Don't know what that's for, and then there's several flowers in here. You can pretty much guess what these were for. Anyway I'm gonna leave this mess for Tommy to clean up. He's the one that loves this car so much.

(Tommy)>> I am rather fond of this old thing. So I had to show the interior some lovin'. We went to Summit Racing and got a pair of their universal sport seats. They have black cloth on them and that's gonna look as snazzy as a brand new tuxedo inside of there, but before we go to fabricating I've got to do some house cleaning. [ vacuum humming ]

(Tommy)>> I found some goodies as well. You guys check this out. This is from an old funeral home from Greenville, Tennessee, and it appears to be some aspirin and some smelling salts. [ MUSIC ] Now to get our seat mounted requires a few pieces of metal. The manufacturing process is simple. Some flat bar, some tubing, and some metal gluing. [ welder crackling ]

(Tommy)>> I had to fab up these little feet that I'm gonna bolt to the bottom of our seat tracks. Once I get them tight this thing's ready to go in the car. [ MUSIC ] [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> With our seat snugged up we'll complement our interior with an impressive tach and move on to the steering wheel. You know sometimes people can feel like they're chained to bad decisions, but when they're chrome plated it makes them alright.

(Marc)>> This buttons up our Caddy hearse. The next time you see this rolling coffin it'll be speeding down the dragstrip with deadly speed. You can follow along and catch our day at the track at Powernation TV dot com.
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