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TH400. Build post,


I've thought it might of of interest to document my TH400 build, hopefully sparking some discussion around of what is best. Like my rear end build, the transmission was originally one of those things "Black art" and best thought as being left to the pro's. I have had very good success with my 12 bolt build, and decided, as a winter project to learn about and build a 400. It's my first trans build, so be patient! I got two books for Christmas on the 400, ATSG Techtran manual, and Building a TH400 from Cliff Ruggles. A must read both books. What I have learned so far is the trans is really quite simple, the complexity is in the engineering. Really, the automatic transmission is a modern marvel The 400 is a good starting point for a newb. I've looked at some service manuals for modern 6 speed automatics, and I can definitely say...forget it!

Also, in the interest of saving time, building it now will allow a quicker install of the big engine in the spring. I'm lucky, my brother in law is taking my HO350/TH400 for his 47 chevy pickup project. I chose the 400 for it's simplicity and ruggedness. At some point I might consider adding a gear vendors overdrive when I win 649.

The trans was purchased off of Kijiji. It looked super grungy, and after asking the seller to read the build plate, it was discovered to be 1968 Vintage, which from research can be a benefit compared to a later model...provided it wasn't trashed inside. The seller sounded honest, so I went for it not knowing anything about the condition...except it spun freely by hand. That's all I knew. No promises.

The purchase and some research done, I dug in,

A good use for the Green Bin. Holds it vertical to drain, and drain it did!

greenbox.JPG

Build plate reads as such;

CD = 68 Camaro 396/402, 350hp.
511 = Build date of May 29th 1968. 511 days past Jan 1st 67.
287263 TH400 built. Interesting...287 thousand TH400's built to this date is 68 since, what, 1965 in the Caddy? GM Hydramatic could really crank out the numbers back then.
Trans was originally mated to a 396, came out of a failed Camaro basket case project, I could cross the partial vin stamped on the case to find out more.

 I drilled off the securing rivet and pulled the plate off the trans as to preserve the original graphic when cleaning the case. I like them with the respective colours. I made that mistake when I cleaned my 67 case and lost the black graphic for 67. The 67 Grande has a CD code 400 in it as well.

plate.JPG

Some internals after pulling it apart. No special tools needed. A couple of pick drivers came in handy to pull the snap rings. Really, no special tools required. Some home made stuff will be needed to pull the spring loaded pistons from the forward and direct drums. The internals seem to be in exceptional condition. The only real appreciable visible wear is on the rear case thrust washer, the center support bushing and some very light discolouring on some of the Steels. All the shaft journals are unscored. Only a little bit of debris in the pan. I'd almost say it was a lightly used original trans owing to all the valve cover oil and dirt on the case. I might have gotten lucky.

internals.JPG

Rear case selective washer and the rear planetary washer (right). Worn. Will replace with a Torrington,

select.JPG

Original 16 element sprag, and the "Good" sprag gear. Older models the gear is billet. Newer are powder metallurgy. Also the older direct drum has a smooth sprag race and will take the upgraded 34 Element sprag.

16 element sprag.JPG

Case bead blasted (outside surfaces only), took 3 hours! I wanted to keep it the natural finish, but it still looked crappy even blasted. Chased all the threads, fine Scotchbrighted the o ring surfaces, took a new flat fine sharpening stone, and with soap and water lightly stoned up the valve body and pan gasket surfaces. Sure enough, there were burrs. Power washed it, masked then painted it with DupliColor New Ford grey. Put the prized emblem back on. 100% improvement..

case cleaned and painted.JPG

The inside,

cleaned inner.JPG

Speedometer driven gear housing after cleanup. 36 to 39 tooth,

speedo driven housing 36 to 39 tooth.JPG

 

The current plan,

Converter feed restriction plug mod
New frictions and steels. Red Alto and Kolene.
Possible additional frictions in the Forward and Direct clutches.
TCI Steel 4l80 Forward clutch hub in place of the cast iron stock part
TCI 34 Element direct clutch sprag in place of the 16 element stock part
TCI Torrington rear thrust bearing in place of the Selective thrust washers
Sprialock Gapless Intermediate clutch and Direct sprag retainer rings.
TransGo shift kit. 400 pro.
All new bushings
All new seals
New forward and reverse bands.
Change the steel output shaft speedo driven gear to 15 from 18. Driven to 39 from 37.
All endplays set.
Deep pan. Summit cast aluminum with filter extension. Hughes performance locking dipstick. 
Adjustable modulator
High quality Coan converter in a conservative stall.

34 Element sprag,

227900 TCI sprag.JPG

Direct drum Gapless snap ring,

sprag ring.JPG

Steel forward clutch hub,

TCI 228300.JPG

I'll post more as things go together. I'm currently building a C Frame bench mount to work on the trans. Nice that GM provided lugs on the sided of the case!

Cheers,

Mark

 



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Good stuff.Should be nice and strong

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Nice job and report      "young" fellows around here are building 4L80E  out of 3/4 ton 2wd vans        I have a 4L60 and a 4L80 in my trucks



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I would have loved a stand alone computer controlled 4L80 Carl, but pricing out a good core, rebuilding it (not for a newb), buying the controller and converter would have been pretty steep. I guess the idea is to use it as it came out of the donor straight to the car. Another issue is it is a little too big for the little B Body tunnel. I still think that perhaps I should have tried, but even a good L60 would have been up there. This build will give me the basics and knowledge for now, and should be plenty strong. Cheers and HNY!.



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Some TH400 build goodies showed up today!

IMG_8365.JPG

I chose the Summit branded rebuild kit, I was surprised it is actually an Alto Products Kit. Summit does this quite often, they rebrand a good name with their own... for cheaper than the brand name. This is always good. The Summit brand deep pan is one heavy piece, and USA made as well. The TransGo kit is the 400-Pro kit. Bought a tub of Dr Tranny Assembly Gel.

Getting close to putting it back together. Can't wait.



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cdnpont wrote:

Some TH400 build goodies showed up today!

Getting close to putting it back together. Can't wait.


 Neither can we! Please post procedure and a lot of pics!!!smile



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Hey Mark, what is the name of that round-shaped part in your pictures?biggrin Quite the "brain game". Organization is key.



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This is great! For some reason I seem to have quite a few of these hanging around my place, one in a 66 with a 396, one in a 67 with a 396, one behind a 1967 327 and one I'm not  too sure of except that it is a 1967 AC car. I've actually got one as well in my 76 GMC motorhome although it is sort of folded in on itself.  Good to have a step by step on these sturdy units although I have to admit that now that I have an overdrive TH700r4 in my 66 It would be pretty hard to go back. 

 



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38 Willys pickup electric powered project

39 Buick (327 with 700 r4)

66 Grande Parisienne 396 with AC (built October 26 1965)

69 Chevy CST pickup

1976 GMC 23'  motorhome



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Pontiacanada wrote:

Hey Mark, what is the name of that round-shaped part in your pictures?biggrin Quite the "brain game". Organization is key.


 The shiny thing on the right Darryl? It's the 4L80 steel direct clutch hub. At first glance, these things seem complex, but the more you read and begin to understand, the less complex they seem. This the perfect winter project for me. Lots of learning, with just the right amount of hands on!



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66 Grande guy wrote:

This is great! For some reason I seem to have quite a few of these hanging around my place, one in a 66 with a 396, one in a 67 with a 396, one behind a 1967 327 and one I'm not  too sure of except that it is a 1967 AC car. I've actually got one as well in my 76 GMC motorhome although it is sort of folded in on itself.  Good to have a step by step on these sturdy units although I have to admit that now that I have an overdrive TH700r4 in my 66 It would be pretty hard to go back. 

 


 Ken, the motorhome ones were apparently HD, but unfortunately they usually are really torn up inside, at least in the bushings and thrusts. The 700 would be a perfect street trans in the B Body, but it's not said to live long behind what I'm about to install lol!



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True enough, I'm only running about 300 horse on a good day.



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38 Willys pickup electric powered project

39 Buick (327 with 700 r4)

66 Grande Parisienne 396 with AC (built October 26 1965)

69 Chevy CST pickup

1976 GMC 23'  motorhome



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cdnpont wrote:
Pontiacanada wrote:

Hey Mark, what is the name of that round-shaped part in your pictures?biggrin Quite the "brain game". Organization is key.


 The shiny thing on the right Darryl? It's the 4L80 steel direct clutch hub. At first glance, these things seem complex, but the more you read and begin to understand, the less complex they seem. This the perfect winter project for me. Lots of learning, with just the right amount of hands on!


I believe you are correct about the 4L80 steel direct clutch hub. Yep that's it.blankstare

I bought the set of (3) vintage mechanic's training books for the 1964 aluminum case Power Glide for cheap off eBay. It makes it look like someday I might actually get up the nerve to rebuild a trans.



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Speedometer calibration stuff,

I received my steel drive gear today from a good USA Ebay seller. It's a 15 tooth to replace the 18. I got the Brown 39 tooth driven from Summit. My earlier output shaft will only take the press on steel gear. The later shafts take the plastic gear and clip, which could be changed in-car with the tail extension removed. Not the plastic but steel, the shaft would have to come out to the bench, so now is the time to make it right. I have no idea what combo I have in my 67 TH400 right now, but I know the speedo was way fast. Not good, puts miles on the Odometer unnecessarily , and the speedo gearset in this 68 Trans comes no where close to my combo.

IMG_8374[1].jpg

Why is the gear painted red, is it a coating? It might burn when I heat the gear to get it on the shaft.  I suppose I could do it cold.

 

Of course it would have been easier to just replace the driven gear, but there is no driven gear available (39 tooth or less) that will work accurately with my 3.55 gear and 27.5" tall rear tire and the 18 tooth drive. I would need a different housing for a 40 and above driven gear, and it still would be off.  Looking at the charts you'll see what I mean.

Here's an excellent link to a calculator page that is said to be the most accurate around. The calculation is so simple it's funny, and the fact that the someone did the leg work on the corresponding charts is excellent. Gear ratio times 20.2, divide by tire diameter. Take that number to the chart. My calculated factor number was 2.607. All the combo's that are possible are listed. Anything below 39 in a TH400 is the 34-39 housing type, 40 -45 is the other. I think these were the only two housings on this trans. I think the TH350 used the 17-24 driven combo's.

NovaResource Speedo link

 

Trans Fluid,

After some research, homework and on the recommendation of my great CARQUEST counterman John, I chose Dex/Merc. There are a lot of choices and opinions on this one, but I trust my guy.

Not too bad $16 for a 3.78L. One can spend that on 1 L of Synthetic! I bought 3. Probably will need more, but at least I have some for assembly...

IMG_8371[1].jpg

Cheers, Mark



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The trans bracket

I'm no welder, but it should be strong,

 

IMG_8384[1].jpg



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Very nice!

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Deep Transmission pan,

Summit branded pan. 2 extra quarts. Super thick and strong looking, so thick I think it would actually strengthen the case. Made in USA. Part # SME-1001R.

Just had to try it on,

IMG_8380.JPG

 

DIY Direct clutch piston spring compressor

In order to change the 3 piston seals, you must compress the spring retainer and springs. This allows you to remove the retainer C clip. You can see the ends of the C clip in the photo.

This is a DIY solution for the Direct clutch. Rod through a hole the bench, a couple of pipe halves and it compresses with little effort. Be careful not to over compress or you will distort the retainer plate. The clip is a bugger to remove without the right pliers. So I just fought with it until I could get behind it with a 90 degree pick and then wind it off. The forward clutch will be done differently as it has a pressed in shaft. so the same idea, but two rods through the bench on either side of the drum.

IMG_8376.JPG

 

 



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wow, looking good!

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Torrington rear bearing and bushing upgrade,

After doing some research I decided to go with the rear Torrington upgrade over the basic selective thrust washers. The bearing is basically a TH350 pump thrust bearing, but I bought it as a TCI item. I think it cost about $40 from summit.

Doing this simple mod, requires that the new rear bushing be pressed into the case leaving approx. .100" left sticking out into the case. This is to allow the new bearing and any shims to have something to register on. I ditched the narrow TH400 rear case bush and went with a 4L80e pump bushing which is significantly wider than stock. This will help limit the journal loss from the bushing being pushed into the case. The 4L80 bushing differs from the 400 only in that it does not have a central groove or exit grooves out each side. I pressed it in with the oil groove facing inward to feed the Torrington. You can punch out the old bushing, but the new one must be pressed in. You will probably distort the new one if you pound it in especially the 400 as it is quite delicate. I used the MacGyver threaded rod and a combo of old bushings and stuff to get it in. Red Loctite to retain it. Oh, and make sure the case journal does not have two raised protrusions from the factory bushing being staked in place. If yes, clean them up with a small file.

Research tells me this is in all a cheap and trouble free mod worth doing.

Torrington in case,

IMG_8396.JPG

The old Selective setup the Torrington replaces,

IMG_8355.JPG

TH400 compared to the 4L80 pump bushing,

IMG_8401.JPG

TH400, 4L, Different grooving.

Capture.JPG36002-01_edited-1.jpg

4L on the output shaft journal. Sits right down on the shaft to plate radius no issue. You can see this bushing uses up pretty much all of the shaft journal. The 400 leaves quite a bit unused. Oil feeds the bushing through a passage and hole in the shaft journal.

IMG_8402.JPG



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Bushings,

I changed the small bushing in the end of the Mainshaft, and the two in the Sunshaft. Easy. All 3 are the split type, and can be gotten behind, collapsed in and pulled out. The Mainshaft must get driven in as the bushing hole is blind, the Sunshaft job can use the threaded rod. The large center support bushing is fussy. Using the rod, I pulled the new one in against the old one. Got all of it in which leaves about .5" of the old still in at the end. Easy, again as it's a split bushing. Crush it and pop it out. But make sure the new one is set to align with the oil hole before you pull it in. You miss the hole with that huge square opening and you're in trouble. Also, make sure the new bushing is lubed and sits EXACTLY on top of the old before starting the push. If all is well you'll get a nice "pop" just after you begin, signalling all is progressing well.

Threaded rod passes through Princess Auto bushing removal fitting (that fit perfect), through the bushings and support, through a support pipe, then through a hole in the bench and through a plate. Vice grips on the nut on the bottom. Lube on threads and washer.

photo.JPG Sorry for the crappy phone shot.

Tailshaft bushing replacement,

MacGyver rod, nut, heavy washer, black pipe section, bushing fitting (fit perfect). Rod through plate in vice, nut and vicegrips on bottom. Easy.

IMG_8394.JPG

Planetary endplay ,

From a Sonnax Transmission article,

Front Planetary to Rear Planetary Play
While there is no reference to this clearance in repair manuals, setting it correctly adds durability and life to the gear sets. The right endplay here will prevent excessive fore and aft movement under torque, preventing wear and quenching gear noise.
Assemble the rear gear sets as you would to install them in the case, including the center support. Use a suitable holding fixture to secure the assembled gear set upright (a vice works well). It is virtually impossible to get a dial indicator set up here, so we are going by experienced feel in this case. Lift up and down on the top planetary to center support (Figure 7). If excessive play is discovered, this clearance can be adjusted by using a selective four-tab washer between the gear sets. Set this up between about .008" and .015", with .010" being the sweet spot.

Sonnax image,

Figure_7.jpg

So I'm now at the point of trying to tighten up the "Float" of the forward planetary as per the Sonnax article. Correctly assembled, all Torrington's correct, and using a 4 tab metal rear thrust washer between the planetaries, and a new bronze washer between the forward planetary and center... I'm seeing excessive play. I can't really dial indicate, but it seems quite sloppy. The next obvious step would be to shim under the 4 tab using a combination of Sonnax 34006 shims as seen below, or a thicker 4 tab, which neither I have on hand.

Sonnax 34006-05, .005 shim,

31671018123_e36d95c987_n.jpg

What I've found is that 12 bolt (probably 10 as well) carrier side shims will fit exactly between the 4 tabs of the metal planetary thrust washer. While the shim doesn't encompass the entire surface area of the thrust washer, it gets most of it, while the ID is smaller, it still doesn't interfere with the sun gear and it's made of a durable high carbon steel. I figure the shim should stay in place no trouble as the thrust washer is tabbed anyway. Anyone who has done a 12 or 10 bolt rear end likely has a good assortment of these hanging around. I had a decent collection of thicknesses from the last two rear ends I did. I just thought they might be of use someday, and we all know there are plenty of thicknesses usually left over. Use what you have if you can I say!

12 bolt leftovers,

32441480266_e60fefa5a7.jpg

Shim behind 4 tab,

32441482016_dbf9a1a06d.jpg

Shim and 4 tab in the rear planetary,

32103561550_2a58b465c9.jpg

 

Rear Section endplay,

So, having all the bushings in place to allow measure, I was now free to move towards setting endplay. 

Basically, at a minimum, you are installing the stack as you see below into the case. I eventually clipped the output shaft into the rear planetary (not seen), as it stabilized the output shaft side to side when installed.

From the bottom,

  • Output shaft
  • Torrington
  • Main shaft
  • Torrington
  • Sun gear
  • Torrington
  • Concentric Sun shaft over Mainshaft down into Sun gear
  • Center support

IMG_8395.JPG

Got my new Speedometer gear on. Heated the old and it dropped right off. Heated the new (and burned the paint a little) and it dropped right on!

So, set a shim under your new rear case Torrington (or choose your selective washer). Install your pre lubed rear band now. Lube all your bushings and bearings and begin dropping the pieces in. Be absolutely sure your 3 factory Torrington's are in the right position and the Sun gear is the right side up. Seat everything with spinning it, then and lube install the center support ring. Make sure the ring is fully seated into the case lugs. Taper on the ring faces up, or to the front of the case. Turn the output shaft, and inputs to make sure it turns reasonably easy and free. I bought a tub of Dr Tranny assembly goo. A must have for this job imop. Sticky enough to keep things from falling out of place.

Great product...

Dr.JPG

Bolt a robust plate to the case end using one of the tailshaft bolt holes. Mount a magnetic dial indicator on the plate. Square it to the shaft end. Pull down on the shaft. Zero the indicator. Push the shaft back up into the case. Repeat numerous times until you an get a repeatable number.

IMG_8406_edited-1.jpg

Gotta love this tranny bracket! I can't imagine fighting with the thing sliding around on a bench. This is the way to do it!

Anyway, the rear tolerance needs to fall within .007 to .019 according to the ATSG book. Some say as low as .005. I got a good repeatable .012 using a .010 shim behind the rear Torrington. I had all the parts in and out about 10 times to make sure everything was installed correctly. I'm getting pretty good at it, and can now remove and install the rings with ease!

 

Anyone with anything to add, tips, comments, please do!

Cheers,

 

 



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Center support and Intermediate Clutch

Did the 2 lip seals on the intermediate piston, the 1 in the drum. Reassembled the two halves with 3 the piston spring inner depressions meeting the 3 pockets in the support. It's pretty obvious this has to happen for it to fit. Used sections of various sizes cut out of a plastic 4L oil bottle to assist the seals into place without cutting them. They are pretty fussy. Go easy. The large lip seal will have a tiny part number to the inside of the lip. For the Intermediate piston the part # will be 8623143. The Direct and Forward piston seals will be 8623101. The size between the two parts are different, but sometimes its easy to get them mixed up. All the smaller seals are pretty obvious.

Capture_edited-1.jpg

 

Installed the 4 Scarf cut Teflon seals into the support grooves.

IMG_8462.JPG

Ensured that the Teflon seals were correctly overlapped at the scarf cuts, lubed them, installed the bronze thrust washer, upper Torrington washer with goo into the support, then installed the support orienting it in the proper case lugs, making sure it was properly bottomed. Spun the rear unit until it dropped in fully. Lubed and installed the support retaining C ring, opening kept at the 9 o'clock position when looking to the rear. Made sure it was fully bottomed in case lugs.

Intermediate clutch,

Used the original wavy steel which was .069 thick, measures .111 to the top of the wave. Very good and unburnt, I cleaned it up with Med then fine Scotch bright, then fine steel wool. Circular pattern.

2- .099 Kolene steels

3- .091 Red Alto frictions

Stock top retainer plate cleaned up the same way as the wavy steel.

Used the TransGo heavy duty intermediate C Clip retainer (comes in the Pro 400 kit), I think it's actually a Chrysler 727 part. Much more robust than stock. Set the opening at the 9 O'clock positon looking back.

All Combined, using feelers I get .052 clearance between the top friction and retainer plate. The top plate actually has .016 clearance to the clip, so it will move when setting the gap. The intermediate clutch calls for a largish clearance to prevent oil drag. .052 with the wavy should be good. The wave washer has about .020 spring to it to provide some cushion. I don't really want any harsh shifting. There are a million trains of thought here...I chose the one that's supposed to work well for a streetcar. The Alto Products kit I bought comes with the thicknesses to actually replicate the stock stacks. I could do an extra friction in all the clutches, but it would require thinner frictions and steels, and likely involve the machining of the pistons and retainer plates. This way suits me fine.

Wavy steel, 3 frictions, 2 Kolene steels, retainer plate. With lube. Frictions soaked for 20 mins.

IMG_8428.JPG,

 

Steels and Frictions, Retainer plate, clip and the forward band in place. Line up the splines by hand as close as you can at this point. Makes it a little easier when installing the Direct clutch sprag hub into the Steels lugs. You can just see one of the 4 orange Teflon seals in the center tower here.

IMG_8431.JPG

 The above image shows the clutch retainer ring gap in the 9 O'clock position. It actually should be at the 3 o'clock opposite of the center support retainer ring. Since corrected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Direct Clutch

Did the 2 lip seals on the intermediate piston and the 1 in the drum. Installed the HD springs provided in the TransGo shiftkit.

Added the TCI 34 Element sprag and the AC Delco 4L80 Spirlock retainer (part # 8675558) to the drum. Won't fly off like the stock C Clip might. I can see the stock one doing just that, as it's pretty loose and feels weak. The Spirlock is a little fussy to get on, but it's said to be a must do for any decent 400 build.

IMG_8412.JPG

 

 So now it's a matter of getting the right combination of Steels, Frictions and Wave to bring the clutch clearance to about .030.

 



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Great info and read!! Keep it coming,a great resource and info for anyone wanting to tackle down the road.

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Thanks for hanging in to those who care! This has to be one of my favorite projects ever. One I absolutely have to complete lol. More fun than Seats.

 

Anyways,

A little image of interest for those who might attempt the task.

Here's a shot of the minimal tools req. for the TH400 Build. Out of all of them, the big handle med/large Slotted screwdriver and the small Stanley 90 degree pick are tops.

32458658811_1052f53444_c.jpg

Really, not much more than this. But of course you'll need the bench bracket still.

panamerica.jpg

This pan is ridiculous,



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67' Grande Parisienne. Ex Ottawa USSR Embassy car, 67- 68.
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Uber Guru

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The ready rod with the 2 collars looks like a cam bearing tool I made? Same tool with diff collars? Did you buy the collars or have them made? Think I have everything else except the clam shell/split collar(whatever it's called,beside needle nose). Also, have alum inserts for my vise,where did you get the alum V groove soft jaws? Thx Jim

 

IMG_8395.JPG



-- Edited by hawkeye5766 on Sunday 29th of January 2017 01:07:12 AM

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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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The collars are from a 6 pce bushing seal installation kit. Princess Auto. Cheap. Stock threaded rod. Clam collars are just a section of cut down stainless pipe. Magnetic Soft Jaws are from Summit. Had them for years, a must have for any bench.



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6977017306_dfca361bfc_m.jpg
 
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