The Olds’ – Part 2

The Olds’ – Part 2

Olds at the Pavilions - 2021
The Olds’ at the Pavilions in 2021.

The Book Connection

The first book was published in April of 2009. It sold it’s first year’s forecast in about 6mos. As this was the first book I’d ever had published, I had no idea whether that was good or not. My publisher, CarTech Books, was so elated with the sales they asked me to write a follow-up to it. They came to me with the idea of including it in their all-new Project Series so the book would feature all kinds of projects. The book was to be titled Automotive Electrical Performance Projects.* Which projects, that was up to me. I elected to attend the SEMA show in Las Vegas (2009) to get some inspiration. I had a pretty good idea of what to cover but little did I know one meeting at SEMA would yet again chart a new course.

I walked into the Holley booth, book in hand, simply to check out the latest go-fast offerings. In short order I found myself having a conversation with one of Holley’s EFI engineers, Doug Flynn. Doug took the book from me, “What’s this?” He thumbed through it, looked up at me and asked if I had ever thought about writing about converting from carburetion to EFI. I had not. But, Doug piqued my curiosity as I was already seeing examples of this being done at local events, albeit not well. [Keep in mind that this was 2009 so there were very few aftermarket EFI systems on the market – certainly nothing like today.] Doug explained to me that their biggest challenge in tech support was overcoming the electrical nightmares that most customers had gotten themselves into. In short order it was decided that this would be a topic for the new book. Doug asked, “Do you have a vehicle you can use?” Why, yes I do!

*Ultimately, this book would be renamed Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems Vol. 2: Projects when we revised it in 2015.

The book was to build off of the knowledge attained in Automotive Wiring and Electrical Systems and put that knowledge to use to complete various common projects. The projects would start off simple and by the end of the book, you’d become an expert. The Olds’ was used for numerous projects in the book:

Project 1 – Adding an Interior Light Circuit
Project 2 – Adding Turn Signal and High-Beam LED Indicators
Project 3 – Servicing a 40 Year Old Headlight System
Project 4 – Upgrading a 40 Year Old Headlight System
Project 9 – Determining the Output of an Alternator
Project 10 – Upgrading the Alternator
Project 14 – Install a Complete Aftermarket Electronic Fuel Injection System

Here are a few excerpts of a few incredibly in-depth chapters.

Books like these take about a year for an author to produce – this one was to be 192 pages and feature 500 (in focus!) photos and numerous hand-drawn diagrams. I had been working for myself since February of 2009, so I just worked it into my schedule. Let the fun begin. As I began calling around to all of the shops in the valley looking for the parts I would need to complete the projects in the book, I found out that nobody really stocked anything. After about the third call, I hung up the phone and smiled – I would become that guy, I just had to figure out how. I had plenty of time, knowledge, and resources but I lacked the one thing a startup business with inventory requires – money. Also, I had a commitment to keep with my publisher to have the book done and into their hands for editing by the beginning of 2011. And guess what – I got it all done on time.

The EFI Conversion Project went so incredibly smooth! I’m still running the same system today – although the antique TBI units are due to be swapped for a more traditional plate with injectors with dry throttle bodies. Regardless, there’s just no going back to carburetors for the Olds’ . . .

The CE Auto Electric Supply Connection

The moment I completed my part, I began working to establish an automotive electrical supply company. CE Auto Electric Supply became reality in March of 2011. I started the company with $100.00 and never looked back – true story.

This was an opportunity to use the Olds’ as a platform for product development. Our Battery Relocation Kits were the very first kit we offered which required a product development process. I took what I had done in the Olds’ previously, fine tuned it with best-in-class products which lent themselves to ease of installation, then fine tuned it further by installing the kit in a few different vehicles myself – a Fox Body Mustang and a 1965 Chevelle. In addition, I set a friend up with a kit for his 1964 Nova and got all of his feedback on how well the kit fit and worked. This process was instrumental in determining the right parts, the correct procedures to build and package the kits, a bill of materials, the assembly documentation for production, correct installation procedures from which the photos would be the basis of the installation manual, etc. Four kits were the product of this process – our 1/0 AWG and 2 AWG Deluxe Battery Relocation Kits as well as Standard versions of each.

The second kit we offered like this would be our Headlight Relay Kits. Again, the Olds’ was the guinea pig and Project 4 in Automotive Electrical Performance Projects lit the way . . . OK, that was bad. Then, I borrowed a friend’s ’55 Chevy and his wife’s ’69 Camaro and installed Headlight Relay Kits in them both to fine tune the variables. This was the basis for two kits – our HRK1 and HRK2 Headlight Kits for vehicles with Sealed Beams. The original HRK2 is shown below – the right two relays.

Our Vehicle Grounding Kits were yet another classic example – ideal when installing an aluminum radiator, Electronic Fuel Injection, or both in any vehicle which was not originally equipped with it. My Olds’ was already grounded correctly based on practices that I’d developed all the way back to the early 1990s. So, I took what was in the Olds’, developed a kit I believed would address 99% of the applications, and we installed the very first kit in my buddy Robert’s 1970 Big Block Chevelle.

Each of these kits began to sell immediately upon putting them on the website. We still sell them all today and we’ve sold thousands since introducing them! The Olds’ still has most of the prototype Battery Relocation Kit in it. The Vehicle Grounding Kit got upgraded when we dropped in the new motor (that’s Part 3) as none of the cable used for the prototype was our brand (we didn’t begin selling our own brand of cable until 2013). The Headlight Relay Kit got integrated into the all-new Power Distribution Center I designed for the Olds’ when we installed the new engine. However, I kept the prototype kit just as it came out of the car as it was such a pivotal product for us. It worked as good the day I removed it as the day I designed it.

A Third Book!

Project 14 in the 2nd book was very timely. CarTech Books felt like that deserved a book of its own – one where we could devote the entire book to the topic versus a single chapter. But I needed a break and CE Auto Electric Supply had just taken off! CE Auto Electric Supply was me, myself, and I, until 2015! Ultimately, I found a way to sleep less, signed the contract, get all the projects done, and it was published in July of 2014. This book you know as EFI Conversions: How to Swap your Carb for Electronic Fuel Injection.

Again, the Olds’ was used for numerous projects in the book:

  • Rebuilding the top end of the engine and the relationship this has to the existing tune
  • Adding increased functionality
  • Converting to 14 Volt batteries – which necessitated the installation of a Fuel Pump Speed Controller

Rebuilding the Top End of the Engine

I lost the flat tappet cam at around 12,000 miles. 9 of 16 lobes were wiped. Although I was running Valvoline VR-1 racing oil, the zinc within it was simply not enough to prevent this. Oh well – time to make it better! So, off came the heads and I took them to Beck Racing Engines for the full treatment. Valves were upsized to 2.25/1.90, the runners worked, and the chambers massaged slightly. These were original LS6 heads, so I didn’t want to go hog wild and destroy their resale. Fortunately, BRE’s machinist was very familiar with them and he did them up right. We also took the opportunity to convert to a much larger hydraulic roller. Frank said to me, “Buddy, it’s gonna’ be a different animal.” No truer words were spoken!

Although Frank encouraged me to swap out the ’80s Crane Gold Rockers for something modern when I reassembled the top end, I didn’t have any more money to throw at it. So, I did keep and run them for a while. At least until I lost a pushrod cup on #3, which caused mass carnage. The new top end made SO much more power than the old combo that it was nearly impossible not to blow the tires off and bang the limiter any time you got into the throttle – no matter how much finesse you used. After doing this a few times, all absolutely unintentional, it bent a bunch of pushrods, broke the lock in the girdle, and absolutely destroyed the girdle on the driver’s side. After Frank and I pulled the intake manifold off to remove all the parts in the valley, it was upgrade time! So, the Comp Camps rockers and poly locks replaced all the antique stuff. Doh!

Adding Increased Functionality

I took the opportunity to develop a prototype of our 2-Speed Dual Fan Relay Kit for EFI Applications and showcase that in the book. Today, that kit is by far our best selling Fan Relay Kit! As with the headlight relay kit, that found its way into the newly installed Power Distribution Center but I kept the original for posterity – shown above on the original under-hood power center.

I also added an Aeromotive Fuel Pump Speed Controller (FPSC) to manage the speed of the fuel pump. That’s really an excellent addition to any street driven vehicle with a big fuel pump and a return style fuel system. It also goes hand in hand with the conversion to 14 Volt Batteries.

Converting to 14 Volt Batteries

I did two different videos on this topic. Here’s the first one, and the 2nd one is easily accessed via the same channel. I did these videos a VERY long time ago!

Really, it all kind of seems surreal as I tell the story. The Olds’ will always be part of the goings on here and I’ll never sell it. It sits in the shop with us as a constant reminder of what it is that we do – get our customers out there enjoying their vehicles. Other forms of go-fast have leapfrogged ahead of roots blown big blocks. Rest assured that the Olds’ will always have a blower sticking through the hood, no matter how archaic that becomes.

Along the way, the Olds’ logged some 22,000 street miles with the original bottom end of the engine – a testament to Ron & Junior’s efforts! I sold the long block to my buddy Seth and he’s got a 6-71 Weiand blower to go with it . . . that should be fun in his 1957 Chevy truck. The Olds’ is a driver and I get it out every chance I get during car season (which is Oct-May here in the Desert). I’ve even driven it over the West Side – yes, on the slicks.

Part 3 will feature the building of the new engine, dyno time, an engine bay freshen up, the installation of the new engine, and all the new electrical goodies we used from our catalog to make it all happen! So, stay tuned.


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