1949 Chevy Deluxe & 1954 Chevy 210 MARCH 2017 UPDATE
The engine rebuild of the 1954 Chevrolet Two-Ten has been proceeding at a slow pace. The exhaust valve guides had too much play and had to be replaced, new ones were purchased from Summit Racing. The steering column and steering box were removed and disassembled. A rebuild kit was ordered from Ecklers, and new bearings from obsoleteautoparts. The steering column shaft worm was badly worn, this probably had something to do with the fact that the steering box didn’t have any grease or fluid in it when the car was purchased.
The engine needed some new parts as well, since the previous rebuild over twenty years ago was not done to specifications. The rocker assembly was worn out, and in bad shape, but I found a new old stock one on E-bay, and have since brought it down. The face of the crankshaft lobe was worn, and babbit material was poured in to bring it back to original specs. The bolts and washers on the bearing caps were not original, and I have placed an order for new ones from ARP. New rims were purchased on eBay, they are five spoke, 15×7 in front, and 15×8 in back. I plan on putting Cooper Discoverer AT 225/70 on the front and 255/70 on the back, they are aggressive SUV tires, but they are the tires the roads in Havana, and the rest of Cuba deserve! The front and rear bumpers were taken to a shop just outside Havana to be restored and re-chromed.
The 1949 had all its brake cylinders replaced with new ones, the original Chevrolet in front, and Russian Volga 26 in back. The brakes are much improved from when the car was purchased, and while the car does not stop on a dime, it does stop on a half dollar! Next up will be a new master cylinder, ordered from National Chevy Association. The new ignition coil went bad one day, fortunately I had a replacement laying around, and have since ordered a new Accel coil for improved spark. The fuel tank was replaced when the old one developed a leak, and then the new one also started to leak. The new one was made in Havana, and it is of terrible quality. I may have to bring one from the U.S.! The 1954 210 will be getting a Hamilton Fuel Injection system with dual GM TBI units, and a custom program. It will probably be the only classic Chevrolet in Cuba with an original engine that is fuel injected.
As you can see, restoring a car is not easy in Cuba. None of the auto parts stores sell anything for American cars, new or old, and finding parts in general is difficult. The only cars that are relatively easy to find parts for in Cuba are Russian Ladas, and other Russian models. Anyone looking to restore an old Chevrolet or Ford must bring everything from somewhere else, and Cuban customs charges exorbitant duties on these parts.
Please stay tuned for more updates as the restoration of these American classics continues at a slooooooooow Cuban pace!
By Frank Gonzalez