Originally Posted by jones'n4chrome
Originally Posted by Accordion
Some of what I do may never be considered safe, but I have been living in vehicles for over thirty years. I have yet to blow myself up.
Are you sure about that? I thought you got blown up working under the hood of your Chevy motorhome....I think Bob was involved somehow as I recall?
Oh well, it's good to see you and your thread are still going strong.
Chuck, you have a good memory. It was, however, not me that blew myself up. It was Bob that blew me up.
Here is the story:
THE ENGINE INSTALL: It was in Azusa,California (part of LA) where Bob found the 1966 Chevy truck camper. I was, at that time, living in a 1980 Chevy van. Bob had already found his 1963 Chevy (factory built) camper.
He suggested that I get something bigger than my van to live in. So we go see this guy we affectionately called uncle Bill at his "shady" street corner used car lot.
There was a 1966 Chevy pickup truck with a 10 foot truck camper that someone had done a nice job of permanently installing. It had a 327 engine which had blown a timing chain.
Uncle Bill wanted $2500 for it. He had a mechanic there who was working on installing the new timing chain. Well, Bob and I hung around for hours while Bill assured us that the repair job would fix the problem.
So the "shade tree" mechanic finally gets it put together and goes to fire up the engine. All that happened was a lot of sputtering and a couple of loud pops. I looked at uncle Bill and said that the engine was not going to work.
At that point, he accepted defeat. I knew right then it was time to make my move and get this truck for cheap, so I offered Bill $800 and two banjos. I think the banjos clinched the deal because when I mentioned them, his eyebrows raised. It was a done deal.
I think it was at that time that Bob and I rented a car hauler trailer and towed it to the parking lot of the apartments where Bob was living. Before Bob got his 1963 Chevy, he had a 1966 VW camper van. We parked the 66 Chevy next to that.
Obviously, I needed an engine now. I looked at remanufactured engines at auto part stores, and was going to get one but a friend (probably Joel) said that that was not a wise move. He said that sometimes there is a difference of 30 thousandths diameter between cylinders on those. He suggested that I go see William Loe in Northridge.
William Loe built most of the engines for the stock car racers at Saugus Speedway. I took a trip down there and talked to him. I told him that I wanted a strong engine that would run on regular gas. He built a 383 stroker, which is a 350 block with a 400 crankshaft.
He made it so the compression was 9 1/2 to one so I could use regular gas. What I got from him was just the lower end. I had to get my own valve covers, intake manifold, and carburetor. I used the original "ram style" exhaust manifolds, and I think also the heads.
William Loe charged me $2500 for the work he did. So I haul this motor back to Azusa and now I am needing a place to install it. Bob and I go see Uncle Bill and ask him if we can use his car lot to do the install. He said that it would be OK. Now the work begins.
I had never installed an engine before, so I enlisted the help of Bob and Joel. I rented an engine hoist. We all met at Bill's and the work began. Unfortunately it rained the three days it took us to finish the job. Bob and Joel and I arranged our vehicles so that we could stretch a tarp and make a tent where we could work.
I suggested to Bob that we attach the transmission to the engine and install them both together. It made sense at the time. Well, as hard as we tried, they weren't going to fit in there while they were attached. Being determined to do it this way, I came up with a solution.
I said to Bob, "I'm gonna take a Sawzall and cut the floorboard here and make a flap so we can get this thing in" Bob laughed. He thought that was ridiculous. But I DID cut it and we bent the metal out of the way, and we were able to get the engine and tranny in. Then I just bent the metal back.
Finally the engine is in, and we have the hood installed as well. We are all excited about starting it up. So I crank it over and nothing happens. I figure that the distributor is not in the right place. So I ask Bob to do the turning over of the engine as I try all the possibilities of the distributor placement.
Naturally, after several tries to no avail, the intake manifold becomes full of gasoline. NOW HERE IS THE FUNNY PART. I was telling Bob to turn the key on and, if it didn't start, turn the key off. All that Bob could see of me, who was sitting in the engine compartment, was through the small slot under the hood when it was open.
Apparently there was some miscommunication. I thought the ignition key was off,( but it was still on) So I go to change the distributor to another position and as I am pulling it out, I say to myself "what a pretty blue spark"
It was at that moment that a humongous explosion of fire comes out of the distributor hole. It looked like the trail of a rocket taking off.
Fortunately, I was sitting on the fender. The blast sent me rolling off the fender on to the ground. Now, keep in mind the limited view that Bob had inside the cab. He said to me afterwards, "Oh my God. I blew Rudy up!!!"
Funny thing is that I did not receive any burns. I guess my quick reactions saved me. My quick reflexes is probably why I was a good boxer in my youth. So that is the day that Bob blew Rudy up