Chevy TH350 – Fixing the notorious kickdown cable leak

The kickdown cable port on the TH350 transmission is a common issue.  This week, I decided to put an end to this leaky madness.

In Japan, especially in the city, there are so many traffic lights and stop signs, that the kickdown can actually be completely removed.  That makes it really easy to cap.

The plastic cable mounts needs to be removed.


The cable the actuates the internal kickdown mechanism will also have to be removed, and that can only be done by dropping the pan.


Once the pan is removed, the cable can be accessed.  Use some pliers to twist the cable off the lever.


The Plastic mount is what we need to properly plus the leaky port.  I used an M7 x 1.0 Tap, a transmission fluid safe o-ring and M7 plug to create a custom cap.


I used the O-ring on the bottom side, where the mount mates with the transmission body.  Leave the top hat shaped seal that was on the mount to begin with.


I also coated the threads on the plug with Permatex black RTV sealant.


With the new cap in place, the leak was completely cured, and the transmission could be filled to the proper level.


Ford Model A Engine Swap – L Head – 4 Banger


Last Month I had the opportunity to swap out the original L-Head Engine on a 1931 Ford Model A Sedan with a souped up Rebuilt 4 Banger.  It was a bitter sweet experience because the car use to be mine, and it was something I always wanted to do but couldn’t afford.  To understand how I felt, Imagine yourself working at a really expensive jewelry shop, and all of a sudden your ex-wife walks in with her new man and they pick out the biggest Diamond in the shop and she walks out with it on her finger and smirk on her face.  Yeah, that summarizes it pretty well I think.  Ha, Ha!!

The car was in really good condition to begin with, but the engine was getting pretty haggard.  No smoke, but no power.



Once completely out, take advantage and inspect your frame and suspension parts.  Replace any parts that are worn out and make any repairs to the frame as required.  I applied rust converter and primer over all the exposed metal parts because Japan is a killer when it comes to Rust!






I made room and carefully set out all the parts I removed.  I like to use cardboard to lay parts down because it keeps things from sliding all over the deck.


Then I inspected all my new parts and made sure I had what I needed to continue.



The new Floating Engine mount installation manual was unclear about using the front engine mount.  I found out that it is absolutely necessary.  Not really sure why it’s called a floating engine mount if it’s not really floating, but oh well, you live and learn.  Below you will see what I am talking about.  The front mount isn’t even included.


The original bell housing from the old block was used to mount the new Mitchell trans to the Upgraded L Head.


The humidity in Japan is really bad, so everything must get a coat or two of paint.


Then the real fun.  Time to drop it like it’s HOT!

The pressure plate and clutch were pre-installed by the guys over at H&H, so I just slapped on the bell housing and new Trans and off I went.  Notice the angle I have the engine at.  Really helps when setting it in doing this alone.


I used fender covers while lowering the engine just in case, but they are not really required because of all the room you have.  Just remember to have the rubber donuts and hardware for the engine mounts handy.  If you can get someone to control the engine hoist during this step, it will make your life allot easier.


Once it’s sitting pretty, Time to check the radiator clearance.  If you are using a 4 blade fan, be aware that there are two types of fans available.  One has the blades that run flush to the front of the pulley and the other has an offset that pulls the fan blades back about 1/2 an inch.  You want the fan with the offset for Roadsters, Coupes and Sedans.  The flush type fan is for Trucks, and it will rub on the Radiator.  Unfortunately the radiator mounts are not easily modified on this particular car, so I recommend getting the right fan blade.  Also make sure the fan is not cracked, it will cause you more pain and hard ache later if you install a cracked fan.  Just take my word for it.


Another part that required special attention and fabrication was the throttle assembly.  I made one out of scrap metal I found lying around the shop.


Mounted nicely and works as intended.  What more could you ask for!?!

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Be sure to check that the rubber block is still in place between the rear cross member and the rear mount.


Stay tuned, next week I will go over replacing the ring and pinion for higher speeds and better acceleration.

-Moon Garage

Replacing Seals on a McLeod Hydraulic Throw Out Bearing

There are a handful of advantages to Hydraulic Throw Out Bearings (TOB for short) over the traditional Mechanical type, but today we will talk about the Hydraulic TOB pitfall, “The Seals!!”

There is a surefire way to know when your TOB is dead or on it’s way out.  A puddle of brake fluid under the bell housing is as sure as you can get.

The car arrived with an empty TOB reservoir, after filling it to the correct level and operating it a couple times, it did not leak.  Hmmm….   So I was determined to find out WHY!!

I hooked up my micro camera and pointed it right at the bright red McLeod TOB.  No leaks to be seen.


Fired up the engine and saw the seals leaking only when the engine was running and the clutch was held down for more than 2 seconds.  Unfortunately, that would not leave a “Big Puddle” but more of a “Dripping Trail” which is not so easy to discover.

The Kit was ordered and transmission was dropped.

The bearing itself was showing signs or heat discoloration.

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It seemed a better time than ever to change out the clutch and pressure plate.

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The seal kit is actually quite simple, just be sure to change the seals in a clean environment and Do Not use Grease on the seals.  Use Brake Fluid or ATF.  Whatever was in there to begin with and what you plan to use in the reservoir, should be the same thing!

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By the way, something I learned about 5 speed TREMEC transmissions.  The manufacturer recommends GM ATF Fluid in the case, but a good source pointed me towards using Mobil motor oil instead.  And I must say, the car runs smooth as ever.

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Learn To Stripe and Letter like a Pro – Part 3 (Final)

So now we know how to properly maintain and use our brushes. (Part 1)

And we know the basics of handling the brush. (Part 2)

So now lets talk about symmetrical images.

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There is a very interesting method to this art form that requires time and patience to perfect.

First thing to consider is your position to the canvas.  When possible, Start from the center and brush from top to bottom and from the center outward.  Start on small flat surfaces.IMG_0402FullSizeRender 7


Every stroke on the left, must be immediately followed by the mirror image on the right.

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“Wildman” recommends following the pattern in single strokes.  Left stroke, Right stroke……. This rhythm will insure the strokes resemble each other.  Working from short memory rather than having to remember several strokes.

If you have trouble with proportions and visualizing space, use a water soluble pencil and draw a grid to help as a guide.

IMG_0397It will take some time to get use to the mirroring, but lots of practice is sure to pay off.FullSizeRender 5

For all your pinstriping needs, stop by Area-1 in Honmoku, Yokohama.  “Wildman” is usually brushing on something and can help you pick the right tools to get you on the right path to becoming a pinstriper!

Learn To Stripe and Letter like a Pro – Part 2

This week I will share some good advice direct from “Wildman” to get you moving along with your brush technique.IMG_0240

In Part one of the 3 part Pin-striping series, We discussed the best brushes to use for absolute beginners of the pin-striping art, and also the correct way to load and store your expensive brushes.

This week, we are tackling some if the skills and techniques required to make your work look good from the start.2015-05-07 10.00.40-1

“Wildman” recommends to stay small and simple to begin.   Grab your tools and a Sketchbook.  A nice spiral type sketchpad would be best since you could flip thru the pages and see your progress all in one place.

By “Simple”, we mean lines and single curves.  Start by painting straight lines, making sure your lines are even width from start to finish.  Get a feeling for the brush and find the right position and angle to hold the brush.  Speed will also affect the overall look of your line.

In his “How To” book, (only in Japanese), he explains this in more detail.FullSizeRender 3FullSizeRender

The same goes for lettering.  Try to start with simple straight fonts.  Making sure your stroke width stays smooth and even.  As your straight lines improve and you feel confident, only then should you attempt curved fonts.IMG_0238IMG_0239


Cursive is probably best to avoid at first.  Learn to crawl before you walk, and good habits will become natural.  There is so much of “Wildman’s” Art all over the Area-1 Shop, Garage and company vehicles that it will blow your mind.  Feel free to pick his brain if you stop by the shop in Honmoku.

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Learn To Stripe and Letter like a Pro – Part 1

As most people know, the Moon Automotive Garage is also the home to Pro Pinstriper “Wildman”.  It is a great honor to work along side “Wildman” and see the awesome work he does on a daily basis.



Starter Kits can be a bit pricey, they don’t have everything you really need and include brushes and paint you won’t really use to begin with. 

In Part 1 of this 3 part series I will cover picking the right brushes for basic lettering and line drawing, correctly preparing the brush for use and the correct way to store your brushes.

Part 2 – Line Drawing Techniques and Tips

Part 3 – Lettering Techniques and Tips


Lets start by getting all our Basic Supplies together.

For Lines, pick up a Mack -Series 20- Size 00.

For Lettering, use a Mack #3 Lettering Brush.

For Paint Reducing One-Shot Paint Reducer.

For Brush Cleaning Lacquer Thinner (Local Hardware Store)

For Brush Storage Kafka Preserving Oil.

and last but not least One-Shot Paint.

It is also worth mentioning that you should get some small paper cups to mix your paint and reducer, they will also come in handy when it comes time to clean your brushes.IMG_0135

First thing you need to worry about is getting the right paint viscosity.  And although it is not rocket science, it is not a simple task either.  “Wildman” recommends to start with about 80% paint to 20% reducer for Summer and 90% paint to 10% reducer for Winter.  These calculations are not set in stone, but rather a starting point to find a good mix.  The actual mixture is affected by many factors including temperature, humidity and condition (shelf life…) of paint.  With that being said, be sure you shake and stir the paint thoroughly before adding any reducer.

Wether you are lettering or lining, it is very important to load the brush with the right amount of paint.  The entire bristle part of the brush should be full of paint.  The brush will take a slight sag effect when the brush is properly loaded.  Let the excess paint drip off, then your ready to stripe.  It may require a couple wipe strokes on the lip of the cup to get the right amount for your specific needs.   Pinstriping is all about feeling the paint flow, so weather will play a part in how much paint to use.  (Part 2 will cover line drawing techniques and tips.)IMG_0137

To clean your brush, use Lacquer Thinner.  Be sure to use enough so that the brush is as clean as possible.  Use a soft cloth or lint free towel to lightly pinch the bristles dry.  Do Not pull the bristles as they will pull the brush apart and render it useless.

The bristles on almost all high quality brushes are made of some sort of animal hair.  So you need to use preserving oil to keep the hair strands from splitting.  Leave the brush soaked in oil and put it in your tool box.  Best to keep the brush flat while in storage to prevent damage to the bristles.kafka Before the brush is used again, the preserving oil must be cleaned off with Lacquer thinner.

Once your brush is clean and wiped dry with a soft lint free towel, the brush can be re-used.

Feel free to stop by the Moon Garage and chat with “Wildman” about Pinstriping or Vintage Toys!

1960 Chevy Impala – Convertible Top Hydraulic System

When it comes to Automotive Maintenance among many other things, the humidity in Japan proves to be a powerful force of destruction.


Water build up in this hydraulic system caused the hoses to rot from the inside out and ultimately fail.  The reservoir was also internally rusted.


The original system used brake fluid to power the hydraulics.  This type of mechanism should be flushed regularly with fresh fluid to insure you get the longest life possible, especially around humid environments such as Japan.  The new pump was re-installed and lines were carefully routed.IMG_9948


 You can tell the fluid is in desperate need of change if the fluid color is milky.  Fresh fluid should be clear.

Later systems use Automatic Transmission Fluid or Hydraulic Fluid.  The system I used to replace the faulty kit required Dexron 3 fluid.

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It is critical to insure that the hoses are routed in a manner that the top mechanism and cylinders do not come into contact.



After all is checked for clearance and the system is air-bleed, the top should be adjusted for window clearance.  There is a 5/16 square head bold used to adjust the top sag.



I ran the top up and down a couple times then let it sit for awhile to let the air bubbles escape.  Then ran it thru a couple more cycles.  Working great!!

Happy New Year! -Moon Garage 2016-

The Mooneyes Family would like to wish all our friends and family a great and prosperous 2016.

Most of you may have already heard the Good News, we have been approved to have the HRCS 25th Anniversary show at the Pacifico Yokohama again for 2016!  It will be a Huge Event for sure!

Many people may be wondering what is the deal with “Save the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show”.

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To be honest, it has more to do with the politics behind the show, and every year our show is closely monitored to make sure things don’t get out of hand and noise levels stay below a predetermined threshold.  Year after year, we have managed to stay within our bounds, thanks to people like you.  Your continued support is always appreciated.

The Tentative Date for the 2016 Hot Rod Custom Show is December 4th, 2016 (Sunday).

-Other useful dates for 2016 are as follows-


DATE: Feb. 21, 2016 (Sunday)-

EVENT: 16th Hot Rod Razzle Dazzle

WHERE: Honmoku Hilltop Park in Honmoku, Yokohama

DATE: May 15, 2016 (Sunday)

EVENT: 30th Annual Mooneyes Street Car Nationals (SCN2016)

WHERE: Odaiba, Tokyo

DATE: Sep. 11, 2016 (Sunday)

EVENT:11th Motorcycle Swap Meet (MSM2016)

WHERE: Odaiba, Tokyo

DATE: Sep. 25, 2016 (Sunday)

EVENT: 19th Annual All Odd Nationals (AON2016)

WHERE: Odaiba, Tokyo


If you are in Japan during these dates, please stop by Area-1, Moon Cafe or the Moon Garage in Honmoku, Yokohama for more details.  We have friendly English speaking staff at your service.

The Garage has some big projects planned for 2016, including Hot Rod makeovers and complete restoration of a 60’s style VW Buggy.  Pictures and posts will be updated on this blog as projects progress.

Feel free to stop by and say “Hello”, “Hola”or “Konichiwa”, if we don’t speak your language, we will find a way to communicate!

1932 Ford Roadster – Powerglide to TH350 swap

The Powerglide transmission in the 32 Roadster started acting up.

Rebuilding was one option.

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The old 1956 cast iron power glide.

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We had a TH350 sitting around, so rather than mess around with the old boat anchor, we opted for the swap.

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The swap required a special adapter plate to accommodate for the starter and modifications were made to the shift mechanism.

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After all was put together and torqued up.

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It was time to take her out for a spin.  What a difference.  Power and fuel consumption improved dramatically.  Hopefully drop a more appropriate 3 speed manual sometime next year.  Stay Tuned for that!



Brake Inspection – What to look for on Drum Brakes

Drum brakes have been used on cars since the beginning and are still widely used on a various make and models.

So here are a couple of things to look for when your brakes are acting up.

First thing the customer noticed was that the emergency brake was not engaging with the lever fully pressed.

It was obvious that the emergency brake cable was not adjusted in a long time.


Be sure to clean up the threads before the anything else.


With the drums off, clean up and debris and brake dust -USE A DUST MASK and GLOVES.

Brake dust is one of the many things you want to keep out of your lungs!!

Visually inspect for Broken Springs, Leaking Wheel Cylinders, Excessive Grease, Loose Hardware.


From the looks of the Brake Shoes, I could tell the full surface of the shoe was not making contact with the inner drum surface.  Which will wear out the brakes faster than usual and cause noisy or jittery braking.

Looks like this shoe was jumping around in the drum.

The surface should be smooth and evenly worn from top to bottom.  Unlike this!!


The Drums are still nice and smooth, and since this is only an inspection and nothing was broken I used some 400 grit sandpaper and just gave the drums a quick wipe.  No cracks or visual irregularities were visible.

The use of a Micrometer is requited to check brake drum tolerances.  If the drum walls are beyond limits



Good practice is to re-grease inner and outer bearings.  Don’t forget the dust cap, not pictured here.



 -Moon Garage-