Building one of the world's most absurd commercial chassis hearses (a turbo build thread)

Psychoholic

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I figure that asking questions works good for individual posts but a good build thread is always fun and a good way to post updates without flooding the place.

I'll condense some info in other threads for convenience.

Right now the world's fastest hearse belongs to a guy named Arne and it ran a 9.4 @ 146 mph but it's a station wagon conversion. It is a real hearse and I don't take that away from him but it's not a big body car on a commercial chassis. I think there are maybe 2 commercial chassis cars that have even gone in the 12s and neither of them are in the US so that's kind of the goal (without shedding any weight). It's not a real goal so much as just a fun idea and I love this car beyond words. I've had it since '98, my wife and I drove away from our wedding in it and thanks to VinWiki my car is arguably one of the most famous hearses in the world.


We're building a turbo 472 for her. I have most of the major parts already sitting at the shop right now. We are doing a Bulldog intake, Holley 1000 cfm throttle body, a WORK S475 twin scroll turbo, LS coils, MS3Pro Ultimate ECU, one ridiculously huge intercooler, electric fans, and a bunch of other fun parts.

Here is a video of us machining the intake:

So that brings us to where we are today. Was at the shop yesterday and was supposed to be working on some furniture for a customer but really the recent starter issues were just lingering in my mind and pissing me off so my shop mates (our shop is 3 of us who basically just do whatever we want up there as stress relief since my day job is a bit mentally tasking and stressful. We offset the rent by building industrial style furniture for people but it's a car shop, machine shop, and fabrication shop all in one) were giving me grief about my lack of commitment to the project since I've been amassing parts of well over 3 years now.

We yanked the intake off and just mocked up the new one with throttle body, cut all the plug wires instead of just pulling them off (so I have no choice but to commit), yanked the HEI dizzy out and got started.

Figured out a really cool way to handle cam position sensor. I took an old points style distributor I had laying around and pulled all the guts out of it. We're going to machine out the original brass top guide bushing, open up the housing a bit to make a bearing race for it, then make a single arm (square edge), weld that on, then us a hall sensor to give me what stroke the motor is on. I have a crank trigger wheel off of a BMW we're going to machine down to put on my existing pulleys. I'll be sure to document the process of each of those.

I was a little shocked by the size of the ports on the new intake where they meet the head. The intake is DEFINITELY going to need some porting done but it's aluminum so it shouldn't be as bad as trying to do a set of heads. I wonder if that is why the motor that Courtney/RichardH were building with it made such terrible power.

For now the plan is to just get her running on the EFI setup and get a good NA tune going. Once we've got the bugs worked out we'll start with the turbo build portion. I'm also replacing the existing dash with a 7" touch screen and a Raspi4 running Tuner Studio (you can see the mount I made on the 3d printer on the last picture).

Wish me luck!

Chris (Psychoholic)
 

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Caddylackn

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Right now the world's fastest hearse belongs to a guy named Arne and it ran a 9.4 @ 146 mph but it's a station wagon conversion. It is a real hearse and I don't take that away from him but it's not a big body car on a commercial chassis. I think there are maybe 2 commercial chassis cars that have even gone in the 12s and neither of them are in the US so that's kind of the goal (without shedding any weight). It's not a real goal so much as just a fun idea and I love this car beyond words.

IMO, if it never carried a casket with a body in it for business I would call bullsh.t on it being a hearse. Anybody can make a panel wagon out of a station wagon and add hearse parts to it. That does not mean its a hearse. Any conversion, does not deserve to be in the record books.

As far as most famous hearses, I think it is this one, but that is my opinion. This is the one from Harold and Maude. I do not count the jaguar conversion as a hearse, but it was a cool car. 1604421872357.png
 

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Oh, and the Bulldog was designed to be ported and not a bolt on, so they left lots of metal so you could have options to do standard port or high port. I think they went with the assumption, that if you are here buying this manifold a "little" port matching should be no big deal compared to all the other custom work you are doing in order to need this.
 

Psychoholic

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Hence the 'one of' and not 'the' most famous. :) My buddy Zach's car probably is the hearse with the most pictures taken of it so it's all relative fame. That and $1.80 will get you a cup of coffee at Waffle House. I will say that it has opened up opportunities for being a guest on other things like being a recurring guest on this podcast (my part starts about 41 minutes in): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/driven-radio-show/id1454959789?i=1000491766881

I do love that '59 from H&M. Damned shame what they did with the Jag!

I won't take away from Arne's car not being a real hearse since it was coach built but done on a station wagon chassis. Most likely his was considered a first call car and not a ceremonial hearse like mine or @PSYKO_Inc (his is a combo but with the right landau panels it becomes a hearse again).

Yesterday was pretty productive. Lots of new parts ordered including but not limited to the single most expensive sensor I think I've ever bought (reaaaaaally slick Bosch oil pressure/temperature sensor). I was happy when I drained the coolant that it was the cleanest I've ever seen. I think I'm going to order a new radiator because mine is leaking very slightly and having it redone is 2/3rd the cost of a new one. Got the gas tank out and drained. Going to have to weld on it a bit so I can open up the sending unit hole to put the new 455 lph Walboro fuel pump. We're going to run -8 line from the tank and use the existing -6 line as the return.
 

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Psychoholic

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So I went on an adventure yesterday and came back bearing lots of goodies!

Ended up buying 3 freshly remanufactured ATK built transmissions. The top of the picture is a late model 4L60E (that's going in my buddy's C10 project we're LS swapping) and the other 2 are 4L80Es. The middle one is most likely the one I'm going to put in my car. Looking at some info online the output shaft on that one is a 'heavy duty fixed' yoke so I need to look at it again to see if it takes a bolt in it. There is a slip in a mid-shaft bearing between the front and rear driveshafts so I think that would be fine. The bottom one looks to be a 4WD (based on the little stubby output shaft). I'm going to end up selling the built TH400 that is in the car now (Sid Neal built it for me a few years ago and probably only has 1200 miles on it - it's built to handle at least 700hp and it's a long shaft obviously out of a hearse) so if you need it hit me up. Also going to sell the 4WD one so if you guys are interested lemme know.

This is the logic: I'm going to turn that stock commercial chassis caddy rear end into a yard sale the first time I stand on it when the turbo is on so I'm going to have a 9" built. If I'm having a rear end done I don't want to do go back with a 2.93 or 3.15 gear like is in it now and I don't want to be pulling 4500 rpm at 100 mph if I go with a 3.73 or something. Soooo I needed more transmission gears.

Now to go through the arduous process of getting all of the supporting parts like adapter plate, transmission controller for the Megasquirt, I'll probably just build a new crossmember, and of course having yet another set of driveshafts built.

IMG_7999.jpg
 

PSYKO_Inc

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Damn this thing's going to be a beast! Can't wait to see some dyno pulls on boost, and some big raunchy burnouts! Looks like you've got the same game plan as me, but about 30 steps ahead and a much bigger budget lol. Also, would you mind showing me the routing for the gas tank filler hose? My 66 uses a 58 Cadillac style gas tank with the filler in the drivers side (which I believe was used up until 69 or 70 on the comm chassis cars) but yours looks a lot like a regular 72 Deville/Fleetwood tank with the filler neck cut short. My tank is completely shot, and a repro is around $500, but I just saw online that there's a 70 Deville at the local U-Pull-It, which is really rare here in the rust belt... I'll be heading there tomorrow to check it out, so if there's a way I can make it work, I'll see if the tank is any good on it and probably grab it, along with the engine, trans, front brakes, rocker panels, and anything else I can get my grubby mitts on lol.

Edit to add: how's the hood clearance with that Bulldog intake? I've got an MTS, which I believe is the same casting as the Bulldog, but even with the deepest drop-base air cleaner I could find, it's looking like it'll be really close to hitting the hood. Going to wait until I get it driving again before I swap intakes, but I would really prefer not to cut the hood if I can help it.
 
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Psychoholic

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I wouldn't say the budget is all that good other than I have been spreading out buying shit over the course of a few years and a good bit of horse trading to get stuff for a good price. You'd be borderline offended if you knew what I just paid for those 3 transmissions! I need to sell one of them so I can pay for the extra shit to make it work in the car (the control box from megasquirt is $500!).

So the fuel line does run down the left side (driver) of the car but I routed it differently when I put the -6 line in originally. I'm going to be moving everything back to that side here soon since the new pump is a 450 lph pump capable of over 100 psi I can't run ye olde trusty Summit pump I've had in there for years. It will be nice to not hear that monster sounding like a cam girl when I'm waiting on line pressure to come up. If you're looking for a tank I honestly would think about something other than the right one for this car. The way the filler neck is positioned you have to get really creative with the filler hose which is even harder to find than the tank because it was only used on commercial chassis cars and they haven't made them since Carter was president. If you can find something with a top fill instead a rear fill you'll be much happier.

Speaking of fuel stuff the rest of all the fittings and stuff showed up today finally. What I'm doing is running an in-tank Walbro 450 lph pump with -8 line all the way to the engine. When I'm close to the engine it hits a splitter to a pair of -6 lines that then feed each fuel rail (6AN to 1/4 NPT), come out of the fuel rails into a single -6 line that goes into the regulator (with pressure gauge) and then -6 return line back to the tank. There isn't enough room on the sending unit hole (and the float is attached to the very small pickup tube) so we're going to have to cut a hole in the tank and weld a mounting plate. Not super thrilled about welding on a gas tank but as we say in the south 'it be what it be'.

The attached pics are only about half of the fittings. Let the record show that doing anodized 6AN and 8AN fittings everywhere with braided line is freaking expensive!
 

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PSYKO_Inc

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Wondering if I could weld something up out of 1-5/8" or 1-3/4" exhaust pipe for a filler neck, and just use short rubber couplers to connect it... So far the closest fit I've found is the K5 Blazer/Suburban or G-series van tanks, but they're both taller than stock so I'd have to modify the mounts to bring it closer to the floor so it's not hanging down too low. There's also an 80s G20 at the yard, might grab both and see what fits better.
 

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I used this in my 56 gmc fit under the bed between the frame rails. Sender had a setup for a carb or f.i. both available from rock auto. This site is expensive.


Ciao,
Mario
 

48Austin

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Hope you're not going with the bathtub intake gasket and aluminum intake. Don't work to good.
 

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@PSYKO_Inc That is EXACTLY what I did. I took my original fuel filler hose to an exhaust shop and had them bend me one up. Used a few couplers to go between the filler on the car and the filler tube on the tank. Honestly it's pretty damned ghetto. It works but it's less than ideal. If you an find a tank that can fill from the top you'll be a much happier camper.

@48Austin you talking the valley pan? Not sure I have much of an opinion on them. Do they fit poorly? I've had one under my Edelbrock for 15+ years without any issue and I've got a brand new one in the box but if the general consensus is that they are crap I might ditch it.
 

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When selecting which of those 4L80 cores to use , be sure to pick the one with cooler line ports arranged one front , one rear. Not two up front like older TH400. The later style that I described has much better lubrication control to critical components.
 

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My 66 uses a 58 Cadillac style gas tank with the filler in the drivers side (which I believe was used up until 69 or 70 on the comm chassis cars) but yours looks a lot like a regular 72 Deville/Fleetwood tank with the filler neck cut short. My tank is completely shot, and a repro is around $500, but I just saw online that there's a 70 Deville at the local U-Pull-It, which is really rare here in the rust belt... I'll be heading there tomorrow to check it out, so if there's a way I can make it work, I'll see if the tank is any good on it and probably grab it, along with the engine, trans, front brakes, rocker panels, and anything else I can get my grubby mitts on lol.
Lucky for us, GM used similar size gas tanks in a whole series of vehicles, so there are many options. Most GM gas tanks are the same width, the variations are in the depth, length, and where the filler pipe is.
You need to measure: distance between the frame rails. Overall depth of the tank. Being a hearse, I am sure there is plenty of space in the length department. Then is looks like you need a top inlet on the side of the tank.

I would check: If you want big capacity (30 gallons) check Suburban gas tanks, for a smaller tank (20 gallons), the chevy blazer tanks (80s & 90s) are popular in swaps. Both of these are top inlet on the side. I think the blazer ones are HDPE plastic, so a junkyard one would work. I wouldn't buy a junkyard steel gas tank unless there was no other option. The suburban tank will be much deeper and may hang too far down.
I bet you that just about any 60s or 70s wagon gas tank would work that has the side inlet tube. Find one that fits, then buy a new cheap repop, then just modify the filler tube as needed. New repops are usually cheap but the shipping can be pricey.

I paid under $100 for a new 33 gallon gas coated steel gas tank for my Bronco recently on amazon with free delivery.
 

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Here is a video of the work I did on my car last week. @PSYKO_Inc you can see the fuel filler I was talking about and some really good shots of the tank with all the room around it.

 

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Here is a video of the work I did on my car last week. @PSYKO_Inc you can see the fuel filler I was talking about and some really good shots of the tank with all the room around it.

Looking at your tank filler tube, I wonder why the filler tube is just not in the back behind a flip up license plate? That seems the easy way to do this. Must be a hearse thing.
 

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I've wondered about that a bunch too. I assume because maybe because funeral directors are almost always in suits and leaning over isn't dignified? Certainly would make my life easier if it was in the bumper. I'm going to end up having to weld the current tube up, make a flange on top and cut in a plate to mount the new pump.
 

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Starting on the fuel system and got the rails cleaned up and tapped (had to buy a special 1/4" NPT tap). Starting to look REALLY purdy.
 

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Psychoholic

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It occurred to me that I've never posted pics of the money maker (taker). This is my Work S475 dual scroll for my build. That last one picture with the random object in it is a Raspi4 to show scale of the inlet. Also is a picture of the ridiculous air-to-air intercooler core we're going to be building out.
 

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Darius

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Got a big enough inlet there, Butch? DANG!!!

I've never seen a turbo volute expand like that before either. Interesting design. I need to look at the flow capabilities of that unit.

bro. "impressed," d
 
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