I was thinking about building my own transmission mount until I came across Chassis Engineering Inc's website (319-643-2645 in Indiana). They have a transmission mounting kit that welds into the stock tranny mount or a universal tube crossmember mount for mounting Turbo 350, Powerglides or standard transmissions into the 54 Chev. I liked the idea of keeping the stock crossmember because it is part of a k style support system and reinforces the frame rails.
I figured that since the tranny mount couldn't move, I would work on it first and then install the motor mounts which can be positioned anywhere along the frame rails. This logic turned out to be a little bit of luck on my part as you will soon read.
I had some minor rust holes in the tranny mount where the K members touched it. 46 years of dirt and moisture really promotes rust. Fortunately, it was very small areas and could be cut out to solid metal. A 1 1/2" plate of steel was placed from the inside and welded beneath the holes. This way the K member could sit flush and hide the holes like it hid the rust.
The Chassis Engineering Inc's T350 mounting kit is pretty slick. The only thing that I had to modify was to add another centered hole for the stock rubber tranny mount that came with the tranny. The CE tranny mount is made for their tranny mount rubber.
Here's how you install the CE tranny mount. First you weld on 2 side plates to the stock tranny mount.
Plates welded onto stock mount
Next you cut out the exposed portion of the original tranny mount. I used a combination of 4 1/2" grinder, die grinder, dremel tool and hacksaw to cut it out. It wasn't as difficult as I expected. The steel is surprisingly soft and a new hacksaw blade cuts through it quite easily.
Piece that is cut out
Next you clean up the cutout area with a grinder and fit the top plate. Once fitted flush to the rear of the crossmember, weld everywhere.
Top plate welded in place
The last step is to make it look beautiful. Grind and paint with rust proof paint. It's ready for installation.
Painted and finished crossmember
I was using the original Camaro rubber tranny mount and had to drill a center hole for it exactly inbetween the the Chassis Engineering mounting holes. They had drilled holes for their own rubber tranny mount which used 2 bolts instead of the Camaro's single center bolt.
I went to work to reinstall the crossmember and ran into a few snags. The first was that the frame rails had twisted inward from the vertical without the center crossmember. They weren't sitting perfectly vertical. This made it impossible to slide the crossmember back in. I had to loosen up all the body mount bolts, reposition the jack stands and use my hydraulic jack to apply pressure at the outer front body mount to "twist" the frame vertical.
After a little bit of elbow grease (1 hour), the crossmember slid (politely put) into place. A new problem arose: the frame rails were 1/2 a bolt hole too far apart. I could bolt up the passenger side but not the driver's side. The question was how to move the two frames closer together. I had all the tools for jacking, separating and lifting but none for pulling together something.
A come-along would of been ideal but no such luck. I was going to rent one but being cheap and not about to let something like this get the best of me, I sat down and looked at my resources. I ended up using a tow chain with its hook connected to the passenger side rail, hung under the car. By trial and error, I found the right link position for creating a loop at the end of the chain using a nut and bolt. This allowed me to use a crowbar to pressure the two rails together. A stack of 2x4s slipped under the crowbar handle, allowed me to keep up the pressure and install the bolts. Yeah, I know a friend would be nice but this was on Tuesday morning and I prefer to work alone.
Tranny mount installed finally!
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