Hot Rods

  Hot Rod Jim's Chassis Shop

Aug 16, 2009

       So I had a hard drive crash on me and I lost a bunch of photos of the truck that I hadn’t gotten onto the backup server, o well. So there has been work done I just can’t show it.

       So our goal is improved handling over a corvette but in our PT-57. The C5 Corvette relies heavily on the fact that the large rubber bushing will deflect into less positive camber. Under heavy turning the C5 will see up to 8 degrees of positive camber on the outside tire in the stock configuration. Way too much but the roll center on a C5 is a thing of beauty only moving a few inches through almost any suspension travel or roll. Better for drivers to feel the car but it hurts the possible handling that the car could be capable of with a few minor angle changes and upgrades. Our truck will be being equipped with Pfadt urethane bushing kit front and back so there won’t be any of that deflection and we wanted to get the geometry a little better suited for the particulars of truck.  Longer wheel base, different CG, narrower front track and a few other key points.

       What I’ve done with our car is lower the roll center and remove a large portion of the positive camber gain without getting too much roll center migration. Migration make it harder to feel what the suspension is doing but it also directly related to how much grip you can get out of a car. I’ve cut the positive camber in half during turn in and I’ve relocated the A arms to better accommodate the anti dive needs for the truck. Front swing arms have been moved out to match up with the swing of the rear suspension so the tires will roll together so I can simply soften a corner of the car for improved grip or degraded grip for improved balance. I’m going with all Pfadt upgraded poly bushing and for the sake of simplicity we’ve also switched to the Pfadt coil over shocks for now. Attached are some of the photos of the 3D models we’ve used to get our system dialed out






       Steering arm parts came in from the laser, got them nailed together, I’ll try to get some photos on the knuckle next time. You can see it in the above 3D models.



       BIG thanks to the crew over at Pfadt. Not only did they send me there new aluminum lower mounts they also built special models for me to add into the computer. They even build special radius pieces into the shock so when I check the suspension travel I make sure the Patten Pending Delrin / Aluminum upper mount doesn’t bind up. Huge thanks for that. Next to the shocks are the Sway bar arms from Pfadt. The Rear is going to be the stock C5 width (The C5 rear is wider than the C6) so we can use Pfadt’s stock rear sway bar and the front will be custom cut for our narrowed front end. Check out their website


       IMPORTANT, I miss worded my previous statement about the Optima Battery race and I apologies. We have not been 100% officially invited as the car is not finished yet but I talked with Jimi Day over at FM3 and we have a tentative spot in the race as long as we get the truck done in time. The site should be up soon

       The first batch of Laser Cut Parts are here for the PT-57's frame.  You can see that the frame is designed with keys and center reinforcements to take the loading from the suspension and spread them out across the frame, inside and out, preventing deflection or flexing at the frame rail without making it crazy heavy.  Got it all clamped together then started tacking the other side once I got all the individual parts tacked to both sides I didn’t have any problems and you can see she’s strait as an arrow thanks to the center locks.  






       The Corbeau Forza seats got here Monday. I’m going to put them in my roadster for now and then into the truck if I can’t get a set of the FX1’s. We plan on dyeing the seats silver and embroidering rivets into them to look like old aluminum bomber seats.

       Suspension came back from Southern Powder Coating in Lockhart Texas. We left the ball joints in because I’m waiting on Aaron with Pfadt to get his first batch of their aftermarket upper ball joints in then I’ll swap the uppers and lower out, but for now as mockup these will be fine. The C6 diff up on the table in place and I’ll get the suspension back to the hubs and we’ll get this chassis rolling ASAP.

       NEW SPONSOR, STS Twin Turbo system will help push our little baby around the track. The Side pipes will be hooked up to the waist gates so when we hit that back strait we should see some flames.  Rick at STS has been personally helping us speck and design the system, cam, and tubing arrangement.

- Russell Alexander

June 13, 2009

       We have the new table finished. I spend 3 days tweaking and heat shrinking to make sure the welding from attaching the legs made the table square and level. Plus this metal is not that great from the factory so compensating for that as well. Got the cab up today the bead will be up on the table tomorrow with the rear fender and the big wheels.

       Big change, after tweaking and playing with the C4 bits and pieces plus I started looking at widening the rear end to get some better wheel scrub radius. I was going to need 4” wider rear and the C4 hubs still have almost no scrub angle. From what I can tell it’s .25 degrees maybe, I almost thing there was something under the caliper at one point. Plus the brakes and on and on I’ve decided to just run the C5/6 goodies. I had 3-4 complete suspensions out back, I need to test the C5/c6 differential adapter we’ve built and it’ll be a whole lot easier to set up right. Pfadt sway bars only need to be shortened a little and bow-chick-a-bow-wow we’ve got fun. You can see the Solidworks drawings, this makes life so much easier.

       As you can see a lot of the simplicity originally planned went out the window with our SEMA invite, oh well.

       Potential project changes, TKO600 or T56 Magnum, Stroke out the LQ4 and a bump to the compression. Carbon fiber goodies here and there to include a carbon fiber driveshaft for reduced rotating mass.

Solid Works Updates



PT-57 on the New Jig



- Russell Alexander

June 05, 2009

       We’ve been rat killing down here and upgrading the shop. New toys and some reorganization move the welding table and getting some of the old Jigs out of the way. We’ve also been researching several parts and dealers.

New Band Saw

       The Big News is that we will be going to SEMA this year and the truck with us. Part 2 we’ve also been invited to the Optima Batter Street Car Invitational’s with the PT-57. That presents a bit of a problem. See, I’m competitive by nature so the original plan of a good driving trailer pulling truck is going to need some modification to make the truck capable of running with the toys going out there. So we’re permanently halting the Meteor Project (Dad’s 57 Hardtop) and sacking some of its goodies for the Truck project. The LS7 we had for sale if you missed it. We’re going to be upgrading to a TKO600 or Magnum T56. LQ4 is going to transform into a 408 Stroker and several other upgrades to the chassis and suspension.

       Cough cough, carbon fiber half shafts and drive shafts, cough cough.

       As for the truck we’ve just about gotten the dash sorted out and hood vents are starting to come together. We’re building a new Jig table to make this project even easier and better so stay tuned.

The Hood Vents (Sorry but my good camera was gone so I took these on my phone)


The Dash



- Russell Alexander

May 13, 2009

       Jim’s been back in the shop more and Billy was told by the doctor if your back hurts then don’t lift that. I swear that kid’s healing rate is ridiculous, breaks 3 vertebra and losses 1” to his height. 5 months later he’s back at his weights and working 7 days with me in the shop, just wow.

       Onto the truck, the Grill is going together nicely, we’ve taken out all the teeth, welded up the seams and slicked them off with marine tex. We’ve welded in holders on the back so we can start shaping the cross hare supports for the front.


       Jim’s been shaping some exhaust tubing for our hood “Exhaust” These will be our heat ducts for the engine compartment and look like the old plane exhausts.

       We’ve found the mother lode of body gods, Terry is in his late 50 and has been doing body work since he was 14. He’s been kind enough to take time out (and escape from his wife) to teach Billy and I tricks to body work. But despite being an old guy he’s up on the latest body world technology too. Front fenders are done and un warped thanks to Terry’s welding tricks. I’ve also rented him a space in the back of the shop where he can do other projects for guys he knows. We’ve also been getting a lesson on how much uni-body suck but that’s another story.


       Personal dilemma, the car will have LQ4 6.0 with a cam (274/274 .556 lift and 112+4 LSA) Long tube headers, 2.5” stainless mandrel bent tubing, TIG’d together, with a X pipe. There will be the turn outs in front of the X on a remote for “fun time” hooked to the side pipes. But my problem is what kind of song to I want the tail pipes to sing out the back while the side pipes are turned off. I heard a ZR1 the other day with Borla mufflers and it sounded rowdy and all kinds of evil but at the same time I keep thinking go with the flow master 50 series. Their more reserved with a rumble of “I’m not stock” to them. I’ve got a set of both right now, Borla for a C5 race car I’m specing out and some Flow Master 50’s going on a 57 convertible I’m doing too. What are the preferences of our members and why.


- Russell Alexander

April 20, 2009

       With the new equipment we’ve obtained and the addition of the laser cutting to our arsenal we’ve decided to scrap the original frame for several renovations making it stronger and simpler to build. The easer to build the frames the lower the price will be.  We’ve started over with the design taking everything to the computer to so we can look at every aspect of the chassis.  This is how we will start playing with sizes and reference them to clearance on the car. Next we’ll take the corvette suspension geometry and plug it into Suspension Analyzer and then find the specific angles and mounting points of for the suspension that will best work for the trucks.


       Parts have been rolling in steadily and work is progressing on the body. The Air Ride bags have been here for some time and we’ve been playing with them but the Air Ride 4100 Level Ride System just got here. You can see the details these guys go though to make sure you have everything. It never ceases to amaze me the quality in each box. You can see the considerably longer bags in for the rear pivot system. The two aluminum bottles on the corner are going to be 2 of the bombs for our bomb racks. These will be sealed and plumbed to act as air tanks for the air ride system.


       These are the tires going onto the PT-57 so we can put all this effort to the ground. The right is a 354/35/R19 for the rear and the left is a 275/40/R18 for the front. (no it’s not the actual tire for the front but I couldn’t get to it right then.)  And a little reference for the guys who’ve never seen a 345 in person.


       The Transmission got painted then we noticed the case had that ear cracked on it, taped it with a hammer and chased it down. We’ll clean it up and patch it back up later. The motor and transmission goodies all came in a few days ago too. The custom PTC torque converter, custom cam, dual valve springs, titanium retainers, all the gaskets and bolts that would need to be replaces also come with Thunder Racing's swap kit all shown here.

       The 6.0 is in another chassis having headers fitted right now but the next set will be the same. We get the LS1 Street headers from LG Motor Sports then modify them to clear the transmission. Their tight and clear the steering linkage beautifully, plus there stainless.

- Russell Alexander

April 14, 2009

       We’re back on the truck hot and heavy. Check out the renderings by Ben Hermance of Hermance Design. Check back soon for more updates.

February 2008

       We’ve finished the prototype frame and we’re working on the final versions. With lowering the truck this much inner fender modifications are un avoidable.  The firewall was recessed because of the 6.0 coil packs and intake.  A small block or an LS1 with low profile intake will fit with no issues providing your radiator is not too thick.

July 2007

       We’ve just picked up our 57 Pickup. This 57 was a State truck for some time and is beat up pretty badly. The motor was removed but the rest is stock.

The Concept

          The truck, PT-57, came to us like most projects, old and in need of some TLC. With our regular shop truck on the fritz, we decided this truck needed to take the roll of our new propose built shop truck.

  • The Goals:
    • Handling
    • Comfortable for daily driving
    • Lowered stance
    • Towing capability
    • Gas mileage
    • Reliable
    • Affordable
    • Look cool
    • Still be fast enough to run circles around any other street legal truck out there

              And so the list was made and we started the same way we always do: scrap the frame and everything under the car since it wouldn't begin to handle the task at hand.  1957 technology was fine back in ‘57 but today’s roads require a different type of car, to keep up with traffic, be safe around others and not break the bank with parts doing it.

              The design started one day when Billy said “The front looks like a mouth.” “Like a P-40 Warhawk almost” Jim added looking at the Flying Tigers jacket I was wearing, given to me by my grandfather. Ben Hermance of Hermance Design helped us out with a rendering based on all our ideas and the results are the images you see here. Wider rear fenders for added wheel and tire size without cutting into the bead. The hood exhaust ports are heat vent for the engine compartment. Rifled head cover for the side pipes. The car will be detailed with old Army type print, warnings and logos all over the truck and plate lines and rivets to look the old war birds and go with the nose. For the name PT-57 was selected for the Pro-Touring movement and the number if for the year of the tuck.

              Looking at the handling and the “not breaking the bank” aspects we started with the C4 corvette suspension as our base. The next two problems we killed with one shot. We wanted to sit low and still support a trailer on the back. The answer was simple - Air Ride. The air bags would allow us to raise and lower the truck depending on the weight.  Using Air Ride Technology’s Level Ride system the truck would do it automatically based on the current weight of the truck. We would not need to manually adjust the system every time it changed.  Now a minor problem arises, the Shockwaves will only carry 2000 pounds each/4000 pounds total across the back, and that’s not compensating for loss of spring capability due to shock angle. Not enough spring rate for the changing weight of the trailer and the weight of the truck. We expect the truck to weigh no more than 3300 pounds and the most we’ll see is a trailer and car combo no greater than 7000 pounds. So we will build a pivot system giving our rear Shockwaves a 2 to 1 power ratio allowing the back of our truck to be able to support up to 8000 pounds and not apply any extra stress to the Shockwave units.

              Our power plant and gear box came from a ¾ ton Chevy box truck with the GM LQ4/Vortex 6000 6.0 engine and 4L80E transmission. These two will provide a solid combination of power and reliability for the work truck.  Shane at Thunder Racing helped spec out a camshaft and torque converter combo to work for the truck to give us that sound and a little extra power for the top end when the trailer comes off. Shane had PTC (Performance Torque Converters) build one of their hard core race converters with a mild stall to complement the cam. This will take a little load of the motor for idle and day-to-day driving but still be beefy enough to pull the trailer when needed.   A custom exhaust system will be developed with long tube headers and full dual 2.5” exhaust. For normal driving it will port out the back of the truck but it will also have electronic cut outs for the side pipes when we want the car to get a little more rowdy.  The pumpkin will have a 3.08:1 gear ratio to keep us in the “good gas mileage” range with 1600 RPM’s at highway speeds.  Braking will be taken care of by a set of C6 Z06 Corvette binders. Transmitting that grip and HP to the ground will be a set of Z06 Corvette wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport tires.  

              Follow along as the PT-57 comes to life!

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