Shiny Objects

The theme of our latest foray into the workshop was bling bling, as we sought to make some noticeable headway in the absence of new tires. While the Cut-dawg continues to roll on may-pops, it is well on its way to getting its groove back if our Tuesday night thrash is any indication. In this installment, you will learn how americanrevolution gets the shine on like professional, as well as how to keep your cool when problems arise.

We shall cover the problems first. A great man (actually I think it was Joseph Stalin, who was not so great) once said that sometimes it is necessary to take one step back in order to take two steps forward. We prefer to take no steps back, but we find that the choice is rarely left to us when it comes to hot rodding. And so it was, as our work session began, that we determined it necessary to rectify the problem posed by insufficient lighting in one corner of the workshop. New lights were henceforth installed. And we were immediately unhappy. Lights have a way of exposing problems heretofore unnoticed, as in the case of the paint we sprayed under the hood “with so much abandon” as we discussed last time. We found that it actually did not look fine as a result of a bad case of fisheye that promulgated throughout the sprayed underhood areas. This is the result of poor surface preparation, which is a byproduct of being in a hurry. This in turn results in us having to do the job twice.

Enter sandpaper. Take note of how we attacked the radiator surround, inner fenderwell, and frame with 220 grit paper. Unless you seek a show-quality finish, no finer grit is necessary for things to look presentable. Once we complete the sanding, several light coats of Krylon semi-flat black will be applied instead of the reckless thick single coat approach americanrevolution foolishly utilized previously. And it will look good.

(more after the jump)

Note the polyethelene (plastic) inner fenderwells, another example of the goodies we inherited with the car. Remember, never paint polyethelene, because paint has approximately the same adherent qualities to this plastic as water does to oil.

So now that we are well on our way to solving that problem, we can talk about the next one we encountered–a big leak. We truly did not see this one coming. The general smell of lubricants and solvents is not uncommon in workshops, even clean ones like ours. But something was little overpowering at times, and at last we found out that the tranny is leaking. It must have been the puddle extending from underneath the car that finally garnered some attention. The unsettling thing is that americanrevolution performed a tranny fluid and filter change before the car came into the shop, and it has not been run since. We opted to react with the “that’s a problem for another day approach.”

The third problem is the fact that our tires are probably still growing on a rubber tree in South America. But you already knew that. So on to the fun stuff.

The fun part of a project is getting the parts ready for reassembly. Generally, some of these parts will be modified, revamped, or otherwise renewed before reinstallation. To bring back that shiny new look, a wire wheel/buffer was brought in courtesy of Big Block Ray to make the job easier. The first candidate was the nasty old alternator, a genuine Delco Remy OEM piece. The aluminum case showed the usual oxidation and grime-staining, which was no match for the mighty wheel of steel wire. See the before and after pictures, and notice how the after picture demonstrates that too much shiny equates to cheap, amateurish finish. It has since been bathed in a nice coat of our favorite Krylon semi-flat black in pursuit of a more understated look.

The wire wheel was exchanged then for the buffer, and the real fun ensued. Since the vast
majority of the parts we will be polishing are aluminum, we chose buffing compounds matched for softer metals. Ideally, a separate buffing wheel should be used for each compound, but we determined to get by without buying an extra $7 wheel. It worked beautifully on the aluminum parts, namely the carb-to-intake adapter. The perimeter was cleaned up with the thicker compound, then the fine compound brought up the sheen dramatically, making the polished aluminum look almost like chrome. To finalize the adapter, the mating surfaces were block-sanded to ensure a leak-free fit, and the inside surfaces were roughed up with a fairly coarse grade of sandpaper to disrupt airflow and thus facilitate better air-fuel atomization. The theory sounds good at least, and americanrevolution insists that this little trick will be worth at least a hundredth in the quarter!

Because the buffing session went so swimmingly with the aluminum parts, we determined that it had to work just as well with the few chrome components. So out they came, and americanrevolution got busy. Unfortunately, our decision to not purchase an extra buffing pad turned out to be crucial mistake, as the coarser compound left over from earlier left some indelible scratches in the chrome. The final product turned out nice nonetheless, and when you see the final product you probably will notice these scratches only because we pointed them out here.

Summarily, in one night we made considerable progress in spite of some mild setbacks. We are certainly on the cusp of more breakthroughs in the renovation process, though the holidays doubtless will break up the momentum a bit. You will know all the latest as it happens, and first and foremost when the tires arrive with much pomp and ceremony.


We apologize for the lack of updates in the past week-plus. Of course we could admit to being too weak to brave the unseasonably cold weather that South Texas has experienced of late, but then that would be disingenuous because the shop is heated. We could also admit to being just too lazy to go thrash on Project Cut-dawg after a 10-hour day at our real jobs. But we’re gonna blame it on the vendor. After our extensive research we chose the Road Hugger G/T to become the tenuous link between massive torque and asphalt on the Olds, eschewing the pricier BFG Radial T/A due to the fact that we anticipate the tires be, well, short-lived. Alas, our vendor, so happy at first to sell us tires, now laments our choice of a special-order tire that happens to be on national backorder. We lament the choice now as well; in the meantime we wait for that phone call announcing the arrival of our much-needed meats.

In other news, instead of farming out the polishing of underhood bling, TeamRiewe will shortly take delivery of a polishing wheel to bring the massive Demon carb up to snuff along with a few other shiny bits. On a darker note, the semi-flat black paint that we sprayed in the engine compartment with such abandon seems to have dried to a nice satin patina that should contrast nicely with the more glorious underhood goodies.

Check back for an update early next week. If the planets align just so we might have some new tires by then. In the meantime, leave comments on what we’ve done so far or what you suggest as we continue the buildup. AmericanRevolution is all ears!

Grippin' Foam, or How Big is Too Big?

AmericanRevolution is totally pumped about the potential of Project Cut-dawg, a.k.a Not-Your-Father’s-Olds.The first big weekend of Project Cut-dawg madness was one filled with some key upgrades (already!) and some research on upgrades to come. And, as always there is with the reconstruction process, there was some down-and-dirty cleaning and scraping of gunk, old, paint, and the various other related unwelcome substances that we so often find affixed to the surfaces of neglected cars. Before that story is told, however, it is important to recap some key completed tasks that were glossed over in the last installment.

During our first test drive, everything more or less checked out, save for the annoying tendency of the cheap chrome dipstick tube to pop out of the block and the fidgedy action of the Hurst ratchet shifter. The latter concern could be partly (wholly, actually) attributed to the driver’s lack of any experience with these devices. Nonetheless, all seemed okay until the unmistakable scent of overheated brake shoes began to hang heavy in the air followed by a disturbing emission of smoke from the rear wheelwells. As a result a rear brake job was performed to make the car driveable.

Then the car sat for three m0nths until space was made in the workshop. Before the project began in earnest, it was deemed essential to erase from the landscape that hideous tri-colored primer work of avante-garde art that passed for a paint job. The Cutlass was given a quick bath followed shortly by an authentic rat-rod primer spray (monotone, thank goodness) from our resident von Dutch a.k.a. Big Block Ray.

That prelude brings us to now, where the action is picking up considerably in anticipation of an early-January completion date. This weekend, after a mildy extravagant shopping spree on Saturday we got to work for real.

First on the agenda was the tire problem. A number of constraints have conspired to render this a complicated issue. First, we want the fattest tire possible for maximum traction, as the mighty 455 provides gobs of torque that can only truly effectively be harnessed by a pair of heated 12-inch slicks based on our seat-of-the-pants assessment. The second constraint is perhaps the most constrictive–we are going to stick with wheels that came with the car. The stock Olds units measure 15×6 in the rear and 14×5.5 in the front, which really cuts down on our selection. To answer the obvious question, we want to keep costs in line and also to maintain the “Real Wheels” look, so new hoops are not an option. Admittedly, AmericanRevolution briefly considered getting a lift kit and a set of 24s from Rent-A-Tire for a wacked out crossover look, but too many rap videos got him burned out.
Based on experience we determined that a 235/60/15 would probably be the largest possible tire fitment for the rear, but our highly intelligent tire vendor (we actually really love these guys) insisted that a 255/60/15 Radial T/A from BFG would fit. As it turns out, they weren’t lying. It did fit–like a very tight glove that is. We measured the clearance between the tire and the frame at barely 1/8 of an inch. Clearly, the slightest deflection during cornering would incur a very unwelcome rubbing situation. So, 235/60/15s it is.
And for the front? Those stylin’ 14-inch Olds rally rims get 205/75/14s skinnys for the drag racing look. Look for pics of the completed tire package next time. While we’re on the subject, we have a question: white letters out on tires, or not? Email or comment with your opinions. It might affect that crucial decision, one we have yet to make.
Next on the agenda was the elimination of that OEM steering wheel, which was not only unfitting a race car but doubly undesireable due to a nasty coating of sticky decomposing plastic. Thanks to this new Grant unit, the driver/pilot won’t be grippin’ grain but he or she will be grippin’ the appropriate wheel for the job this car is meant for. A note to DIYers: Installation of an aftermarket wheel is a fairly simple task, but don’t forget the correct installation kit and good steering wheel puller; and on GM vehicles, be sure to accomodate the horn contact tube before tightening the new hub down. Yes, we learned the hard way. But look at the pics. It was definitely a key upgrade. (more following these pics)

Finally, with these issues sorted out, the dirty part commenced. The engine compartment is in our opinion the showroom or the trophy case as it were. If you are sporting big horsepower, you gots to do it in style under the hood. To that end, engine accessories and various easily-removable items have ended up in a pile on the floor as preparation is made to repaint the engine bay and the engine itself. Our rule for painting the frame, fenderwells, firewall, etcetera, is this: If its not a show car, do NOT use gloss black. Its tacky. A semi-flat black will keep things in check under hood while a yet-unannounced color will dominate the massive engine. Of course, the Edelbrock intake will retain the bare aluminium finish, which has been refreshed already with a serious carb-cleaner treatment. The classy Mickey-Thompson cast aluminium valve covers will return to the vintage black once the engine is repainted. We assure readers that the engine repaint will make the eyes pop to some extent. Be ready.

The top priority as the project continues is new rubber at all corners, which should be fairly simple now that sizes have been settled upon. A close second is completing the engine compartment detailing. That may take some time depending upon what exacting level of detail AmericanRevolution deems is approriate. Look for the next installment soon. We’ve got deadlines to meet!

We welcome your input in this project. Please hit us up with your questions or comments. You can email us or simply leave comments. Thanks!


AmericanRevolution has confirmed the sale of the Red Camaro in the previous post, which means the Red Army is officially a thing of the past. AR does retain the 1985 Z-28, which those in the know know will never be relinquised under any circumstances, save for the dreadful possibility of another theft like the 2004 event that dealt it such a drastic setback in development. Despite the demise of the Red Army, AR is keeping up the RPMs so to speak as its newest project is set to be unveiled.

Enter the Cut-dawg, a 1979 Olds Cutlass that is not your father’s Oldsmobile though it may have been in a previous and less flagrant iteration. The Cut-dawg was retired from grandma-grocery-getter status by Fast Times, a performance shop in the DFW area whose existence is evidenced only by the bumper sticker on the car (If you know anything about these guys please leave a comment or email AmericnaRevolution). One might mistake it for an ugly old primered Cutlass save for the MASSIVE scoop protruding from the hood!

Mods are numerous, including but certainly not limited to the following: A street-prepped 455 with Mondello upgrades, custom-fabricated full-length headers feeding an H-pipe dual exhaust muffled by a pair of Flowmasters, a trunk-mounted fuel cell connected by braided stainless hoses equipped with AN fittings, an electric fuel pump, a line-lock system, and a Hurst ratchet shifter. Everything was done professionally by the aforementioned speed shop; however they never finished it. Nonetheless the previous owner took it to the streets in search of unsuspecting prey. He claims to have beaten a Henessy Viper once and other exotics on numerous occasions. It supposedly ran a best time of 11.7 in the quarter on 9-inch slicks at Academy Dragway.

The newly-christened Cut-dawg has been sitting for some months, and while its typically starts right up, it has some issues that must be attended to prior to hitting the street, not the least of which is the lack of road-worthy tires. AR intends to address these as the project now begins in earnest. Stay tuned for updates.