This page shows upgrades to the El Camino from 2007-2008.

July 2006 the car got a name: 'Elkenstein'
There are so many parts on it now, from all sorts of different vehicles. Even though it dies once in a while, it keeps coming back to life.

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'Elkenstein' in Car Craft April 2008

See this page for a year in the life of Elkenstein.
January 2006 to February 2007
Blown head gaskets, blown engine, new engine, electrical melt downs, computer swaps, catastrophic failure of the new (rebuilt) engine at 1000 miles.
March 2007 to November 2008 (This Page) The rebuilt engine, rebuilt again, small tweaks, new rear end, gear change after that.
January 2009-December 2010 Surgery slowed down progress for a couple years. Back at it now and making progress.
Projects in 2011 New lights for the turn signals, headlight upgrade, Serpentine system swap, New body Mount Bushings and Fuel pump.
Projects started 2012 New Overdrive Transmission.
Projects beginning 2014 New Wheels and Tires, Big Brakes, Ignition Switch.

March 11, 2007
I brought the motor and heads back from the machinist. Jim Adrian - Adrian Competition Engines, West Chicago, IL

Jim worked this engine over like it was going in to his own car. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all his hard work. He is a master craftsman, and I am lucky enough that he was coaxed out of retirement to help me with this.

He loaned me the cradle, and engine stand to help get it back together.


I prepped the oil pan for primer and high temp paint

Cleaned off the heads to put back on
Oil pan is painted, and drivers side head is on
Both heads are on now
Another angle
Casting numbers
Stamping by the Timing Cover
Casting numbers on the back
These are the old bearings
 These are the old rings


These are the intake bolts. I am trying a suggestion from Carrie, using O rings and washers to keep the oil from weeping up the threads. Permatex Black Form a gasket is on there too, as always.

I spent the morning getting the intake on, and getting the Transmission bolted up.
Swinging the block in to position.
All ready to drop in. Plugs, Knock sensor, Temp Sensor, Fuel Pump Block off plate, Motor mount brackets, are all on.

The Engine is back in the car!!!!!

Tom called me after reading last night's email, and offered to come by. He came over at about 6:30, and (as always) was a great help. Thanks Tom!

A friend of my son Nate's named "Lunchbox" created these graphics on the new air cleaner lid from the yard. I installed it on the car after Mom's weekend at the University of Illinois where it was being kept. The 350 is in gold leaf.
This is the hitch cover I have now instead of the bow tie. We got it on the visit to the University. Most of the students are upset that they are phasing the Chief out. We bought everything with it. We think it's silly. I believe it shows respect to the heritage of the region, and is not degrading to the race at all.
3/30/2007 It's ALIVE!!!!

Got it running about 2 PM today. The first try proved that you can't let a battery sit from October to nearly April, and expect it to start a car.

After charging, it ran great. I ran it for about 10 minutes, then changed the oil and went for a drive. No leaks. Runs better than EVER.

I have been playing with the timing to get rid of some Ping (detonation). After backing it way off, then bringing it back up till I hear the detonation, then backing it off till it goes away, I have a comfortable timing adjust met. It runs fantastic. Can't wait till 500 miles, another oil change, and hit the gas real hard.

Fine tuning is in the works. New runs using WinALDL are here. Jared burned me a chip that raises the TCC lockup point 10 mph. Works great.

Now just need to work on the timing and fuel curves.

As of march 2007, Elkenstien will no longer be required to take an emissions test. (great news)


I have been getting some tire on fender rubbing while backing, with the wheels turned to the left. I think somone probably bumped me an a parking lot, and it's pushed in a little bit. That, and a combination of new tires with lots of rubber thickness. The clearance without suspension travel is less than a sixteenth of an inch.

Here is the solution I fabricated with some conduit. (loosely fit to the bumper bracket bolt)
This is the driver's side. You can see the selected bolt better. I decided to do both sides, even though the passenger side was the only one with the issue, becauseit's so much stiffer with the brace in.
This is both brackets before paint.
After paint....
I have a half an inch clearance at the closest point now. Much more rigid too.
 New design for a spacer between the throttle body and the cold air intake modified air cleaner.

Sent to my Step Dad at Bruns Machine in Cedar Falls, IA.

This was the result. Turned from a piece of steel tubing.

It fits PERFECT.

Thank You to Richard Schmidt!

Very stable now when you shut the hood, and the pressure from the foam seal on the hood pushes on the air cleaner. Plans are to polish this piece, and engrave it with something cool.
This is the spacer tightened up and ready in the new computerized engraving machine at State Street Jewelers in Geneva, IL.
Almost done!
This is the result. I put some gold highlights on the bow tie, and black on the text.

I took the El Camino to the High School to use the lift. I took the exhaust off from the test pipes back, and Tom and I shook the chunks of exploded catalytic converter out. They have been rattling, and I suspect cutting down the flow of the exhaust for a year or so. I could not have gotten them out without his help, and the height of the lift. One piece would clog a high percentage of a 2" pipe. See the quarter?

Thank You Tom!


I met Rick Houston in Naperville, IL. We couldn't manage enough time to enjoy dinner together, but it was good to meet another list member in person.
We loaded up the 3.73 rear end in the back of the El Camino.... He said it was complete... shocks & all!

Rick accepted my rain check for a meal on another trip to town.

Thanks to Cindy for Taking pictures!

New 3.73 Rear axle before reconditioning
After having brake line tabs welded, and paint
Cover in silver paint
Inside view, with sealer cleaned up
Here is the rear axle on 9/22/07. I have replaced the axle seals, sealed the rear cover, removed the brakes, installed the new upper control arm bushings. The new brake lines are sitting there for looks.
I have the wheel cylinders on now, and the new brake lines.
Closer look
The rear cover is sealed up too
These are the Speedometer gears for the 350C Transmission tailshaft, gasket, and bullet with new O rings. 8 teeth on the drive gear, and 22 teeth on the driven gear.

The Rear was installed, and worked a little too great. Plenty of tire melting capability, but it will not be comfortable on the highway. I decided to change to a 3.23 gear set to make it a little better on the highway, at least until I go with an overdrive transmission some day.


What you see here is a set of 3.23 gears that were $25 on eBay, with 16K miles on them. I'm waiting for the kit to get them in the car. The driven gear will have to change to 20 to get the speedometer right.

Now I have everything it takes to do the swap. You see the gears, seal, cover gasket, inner bearing, crush sleeve (I have 2, just in case), 20 tooth gear for the speedometer to convert from the 3.73, gear oil, and 4 matching bolts for the U-joint straps. I have been running odd bolts on this forever.

The only thing I have to do, is to get the shim from the pinion on the car, and put it between the new bearing and the pinion gear. I will need to find a way to pull the old bearing. I don't have a puller that will work. The pipe you see in the picture, is what I will use to press the new bearing on the pinion shaft.

This is new territory for me, but I'll try anything once. (almost)

I have a good feeling about the 3.23 ratio for what I want the car to be like.

Thanksgiving Day 2007
I convinced my son Nate to go with me to an undisclosed location to get some burnout pictures. This was the last trip out with the 3.73 gears.

This is a smaller version of the Burnout animation at the top of the page, with more frames.
November 23, 2007
I took out the gears to change to the 3.23 gear set. This was a first for me.
I had to improvise on removing the inner bearing shim on the pinion gear with the 3.73. What you see is a 2x wooden frame, with some plate steel. I ended up having to put another wood block under the front piece because when I hammered on the pipe cap at the top, it bent the metal. I should mention, that I ground arcs in to the metal pieces to get under the bearing a little more. I did not reuse this bearing. Also, I should have kept the pinion nut on the top, because even though I hammered on the pipe cap, the threads were still distorted, and I will not be able to get a nut on the 3.73 pinion again (without machining). I saved $45 at the machine shop, but will pay to get the threads fixed. Poor people have poor ways (to quote my Mom).
It had been said to me, that I can get really close to the right adjustment, by using the exact shim that went with the pinion gear in that housing. This proved correct. Getting the new crush sleve to tighten up was a real bitch in the space I had under the car. I used my biggest breaker bar, and gave it all I had till it snugged up, but didn't bind at all. I had just a touch of resistance, and tried to duplicate the feel of the old one before it was removed.

This is the new ring gear bolted on. It is not in the manual (anywhere that I could find in Haynes, Chilton, or the GM SM) but the threads are reverse on the ring gear. Doesn't everybody know that? (but me)

All went back together just fine, with no leaks. It was really cold out, and a smart man would have put the gear lube in the house to warm up. That took a while! Nate proved once again that it will still melt the tires. I have a lot better driveability now, and great power in all the ranges, at any speed. It may not be the greatest on the highway for gas, but the RPM's are not over the top with the 350C like the 3.73 gears were.

I love it.

  See the next page of continuing work here

Projects January 2006 to February 2007     March 2007 to November 2008  January 2009-December 2010  Projects 2011
Projects in 2012-2013   Projects 2014