The last time the Kookie Monster did its job was almost two years ago. It made the drive to the 2007 NSRA nationals like a champ. Once at the event the champ became a chump. Find out what happened there by clicking here.
Several people worked very hard all weekend in a blistering heat wave and in the end it made the drive home.
Knowing that the 454 had served for more miles than anyone should expect from a heavy-duty car hauler the decision was made to go for broke and swap in a new crate engine. Norm decided to bring the Monster to Razorback Rides for the upgrade.
Thats Norm removing the tow strap. Didnt know the Puke Truck was so powerful or that the Kookie Monster was so tired.
Theres a lot of stuff in there, are you guys sure you know what youre doing?
A visit to Wood Motors in Harrison was next on the agenda. A crate 502 intended for truck applications was selected as the new power plant. Jim Hilton took the order and also arranged for a few extras. Jim is a performance car builder and really knows Chevrolet parts, if youre looking for factory components give him a call. A set of head gaskets was added to the order. Head Gaskets? The folks at Razorback Rides suggested that this engine would benefit from a little porting.
A few days later the engine arrived and the Puke Truck brought the new piece to Razorback Rides. The heads were taken off and it was easy to see why Norm was advised to have a little work done prior to the installation of his new engine. As delivered there were large steps where the port transitioned into the throat area. Another issue that Norm was told to expect was razor sharp edges in the chambers. These sharp edges can contribute to detonation issues.
The heads were treated to a mild port job and the chambers were deburred. The 80-20 rule applies here. 20 percent of the possible effort produced about 80 percent of the possible results. For racing application the point of diminishing returns are routinely passed. Best bang for the buck was the goal here. Nothing exotic, but still effective for this application.
Thorough cleaning is essential to protecting the engine. Even a small amount of grit left on the heads could shorten the valve guide life.
Another recommendation from Razorback Rides was to upgrade from head bolts to studs. It was easy to see that a big block Chevy has a rather large expanse between the head bolt in two places per head. Switching from bolt to studs results in the best possible clamping force to maximize head gaskets life.
Why is Norm smiling? He just saw his new engine produce 70 PSI of oil pressure on the engine stand.
Norm decided to add another upgrade to the project. The cast iron exhaust manifolds were replaced by tubular headers. Sanderson came though with a beautiful set of ceramic-coated shorties. These headers were so nice that when fitment issues came up it was decided to make the Monster fit the headers rather than stick with iron manifolds (or make the headers fit the truck). The issues were not a problem with Sanderson, but rather the nature of the Kookie Monster became apparent. The Monster was not originally equipped with a big block and it is a very tight fit in the engine bay. Razorback Rides anticipated this situation and decided to do some test fitting before pulling the old engine. This was fortunate because the frame had to be notched and reinforced. Not too difficult in an empty engine compartment but it would not be possible with an engine in there. One engine mount need reshaping, the transmission cooler lines had to be replaced and rerouted and the starter wires had to be extended and also rerouted. A bit of extra effort but there was never any doubt that the new Sanderson headers had to be included in this engine swap.
Inspection of the fan belt alignment made it clear that the accessory brackets need a little tweaking. The situation became even more fun when it was discovered that the old heads had 3/8 holes for the accessories and the new heads had 7/16 holes. Norm offered to do a parts run so that Razorback Rides could stay focused (and productive).
The old transmission cooler dangled by a few cable ties. A much larger cooler is now supported by a custom bracket assembly.
Since the new headers looked so good Norm said that it would be a shame to splice them into the rusty old exhaust system. Another recommendation from the folks doing the work was to switch from the existing " H" pipe system to an "X" pipe style. Typically "X pipes do what "H" pipe system do but often they do it a little better. More low-end and better sound reduction. Low-end torque is very important in a heavy vehicle like the Monster. Based on the horsepower and rpm range of the 502 a 2.5" diameters system was fabricated. It was welded from mandrel bends and a universal "X" pipe kit. How many trucks have exhaust systems that look this good? Whats with the extra bends? Norms creative side made a request, "Six inch side pipes running from wheel well to wheel well please." Typically side exhaust consists of a short pipe from the exhaust manifolds to the pipes and a glass pack is used in the side pipe. Razorback Rides has some chassis dyno experience with that type of system and feels that it is not the most efficient exhaust style. The design of the Monsters chassis allowed for a modern/efficient system with low restriction Flow Master mufflers before the functioning side pipes. It required a lot more effort than a typical side exhaust system but everyone agreed that Norm is worth the trouble (especially Norm).
Several options were explored for hanging the pipes. Ultimately exposed hangers were chosen. Razorback Rides suggested that some type of decorative skull or a Norm head would look good at the top of the hangers. Norm agreed and told them," Sounds like a lot of work, make sure they all look the same." A nice shop, but they just dont know when to keep their mouths shut. After a many hours of cutting, welding and grinding, heads and hangers were ready. When Norm saw the results he knew exactly what to do. A quick phone call to Steve Tracy at Advanced Plating had the path ready for some really slick chrome. Everybody was very pleased with the end result. As Razorback Rides had planned, the pipes mounted in a very simple way once all the details had been fabricated.
In time for the NSRA Springfield event the Monster was back on the road (temporary turn downs instead of the side exhaust). The first dive for Norm was with a full load. The hills between Lead Hill and Springfield were no problem for the new engine. Mileage improved too. Not a bad conclusion for an engine swap.
During the event in Springfield Norm was so happy with the way the hauler now hauled that he had another idea. "Hey, you guys did a great job with the engine, do you think you could paint it?" Razorback Rides has a new booth but the Kookie Monster is more than just a little too big to fit. Two 100 rolls of masking film covered most of the things in their fab building while the Monster received a new paint job. Norm did not want to go overboard so he requested a basic flat black paint scheme. Razorback Rides said the difference in work between a flat black job and pearl blue with red and yellow flames was not great enough to justify the monochrome approach. Norm said keep it simple till the day he saw it painted. Norm was quick to say, " I knew blue with flames would look fantastic". Razorback Rides offered to spray a quick coat of flat black over the vehicle if that was really what Norm wanted. To be polite Norm said "No, thats OK."
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. First off with the old.
Once stripped, the Fiberglas nose and fender flares proved to be less than 'perfect'.
Rivets are a real pain.
Condensed to a few photos, it looks easy doesnt it?
Could this be a staged photo?
Back to reality....
The paint and body supplies came from Modern Parts in Harrison. These people know paint and were very helpful to the project. Fun to deal with too. That's John and Dana from Modern Parts with Norm, you should be able to figure out, who's who.
Back at Wood Motors, Jim came out to see how "his" engine was doing. Kind of like a proud papa.
This is what the whole effort was for and after 15 years the hauler looks good enough to park near its cargo.
The new headlight lenses from Sacramento Vintage Ford really cleaned up the front.
Norm had one thing to say after taking it all in, "Hey, can you guys make a custom grill for it?"
This was unexpected. At its first pearl appearance, the Kookie Monster was invited to park with Kookie II during the show. Bet that would not have happened in flat black.
With the Hauler running great and wearing fresh paint, you can expect to see it and it's cargo at car shows in the near future.