Hopefully you were able to catch our first installment on the frontend rehab of a '54 Chevy performed by Temecula Rods & Customs (TR&C). It showed the rare, but not uncommon, situation where someone has gotten in over their head--lacking fabrication/engineering skills and over-eagerness can result in a scary front suspension setup. Part I of "Frontal Lobotomy" wrapped up with the reconstruction of the Chevy's framerails and the beginning install of the new RB's Obsolete Automotive MII crossmember. This month, we'll stitch things up with the final welding of the crossmember components, as well as with all of the modifications that were required to utilize an airbag system custom tailored by TR&C.

The installation of the crossmember was a breeze; it was the rebuilding of the rails that was the most time consuming. But once that was done, things went smoothly, especially with the aid of RB's frame template, which allowed everything to go in square and true. The crossmember kit is meant to be a bolt-in deal, but since a lot of modifying was done (for airbag and steering clearance, etc.), the hats and center piece were welded to the frame once everything was set up properly. To further maintain the frame's squareness, small sections were welded at a time to keep warping, if any, to a minimum. The strut rod mounts, though, were not welded in just in case the control arms are ever swapped out for tubular ones.

In addition to the frontend, RB's also supplied a Serious Hardware power brake conversion kit (necessary for the disc brake upgrade), trans mount K-member, and Column Saver in order to use the stock '54 column with the power rack-and-pinion (each mated with Flaming River steering joints). For the brake kit, which bolts in where the stock single-reservoir master cylinder is located, the driver side floorpan directly above had to be raised slightly for clearance. And since the fluid chambers ended up directly below the seat, the decision was made to use a remote-fill reservoir that will be mounted on the firewall. The K-member went in without incident, and the Column Saver literally saved the day, allowing the guys to focus on other areas rather than making them deal with fabricating a custom-made bushing for the stock '54 column. (RB's manufactures them in a variety of different diameters, so if you're running a rack or different type of steering box that requires U-joints but like to keep the column you've got, now you have a solution.)

I'll quickly get into the modifications, and then let the photos do the rest of the talking for the story. Refreshing your memory, the Serious Hardware IFS kit is basic in nature, designed to use OE Mustang II upper and lower control arms, spindles, and even strut rods. First off, the stock spindles were swapped for Heidt's dropped spindles (an option from RB's) for reasons of ultimate lowness. The outside portion of the spring/shock towers--or hats--were replaced with new pieces of metal (allowing for better airbag clearance), while the lower control arm's coil pocket was alleviated in order to fit the bag mounting plate; the top of the bag now mounts to a removable plate that fits flush into the hat. The frame itself had to be notched on the left for the rack's U-joint to rotate without binding, and a Flaming River stabilizer was welded right above. Finally, the strut rods were fit with lower shock mounts as far forward as possible to utilize full travel of the shocks.

Okay, so it took some time, but now the '54 has an undeniably solid front suspension with no "hokiness" or dangerous traits (refer to January's first installment for more on that). What the TR&C boys--Brian, Lane, and Sal--have done is taken an accident waiting to happen and created a solid front suspension with modern brakes and steering. If you've learned anything from this series, hopefully it's the fact that paying more for something done right the first time is a lot better than paying more to have a cheap job fixed later. Having a shop like Temecula Rods & Customs install a proven product like an RB's Obsolete kit is a total win-win situation.

SOURCE
Temecula Rods & Customs
42192 Sarah Way, Dept. CRM
Temecula
CA  92590
RB's Obsolete Automotive
7711 Lake Ballinger Way, Dept.CRM
Edmonds
WA  98026