House of Hacks

Sunday, May 13, 2018

1965 Buick Skylark project car build - Preparation


In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley starts to pull a project car build out of mothballs. He has plans to do a rebuild and restoration on these classic muscle cars.

Playlist to other vehicle related episodes:

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, go subscribe and click the bell to get notifications.

There's a playlist containing videos talking about the House of Hacks' values.

And here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to 1965 Buick Skylark project car build - Preparation

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing
Incidental: Backed Vibes and George Street Shuffle


Hi. Harley here.

I'm out in the garage today for what's probably going to be a prequel for a much longer, probably multi-year, series.

If you look over here, I've got, underneath all these boxes, there's a car buried and back in the corner behind that car, there's another car buried.

Both of these are project cars that have been sitting on the shelf for way too many years and it's time to start working on them.

I want to primarily start working on the one that's back here in the corner but in order to get to that one, I need to get the one in front to be moveable.

So, the purpose of today's episode is to get this unburied and get it runnable. It hasn't been driven in a number of years since the battery went flat and wouldn't start it.

So I need to get a new battery. I need to change the oil in it.

I should probably check the gas in it; put some fresh gas.

Put air in the tires. That sort of thing.

I just need to get it so I can move it around the yard.

I may end up selling it at sometime in the near future.

But right now, the goal is to just get it moveable so I can get access to the one in the back.

So, let's get started.


[Time lapse]

OK. I got the first level of stuff off there and see, there really was a car under there.

You couldn't really tell before, but I've got a convertible and a coupe.

I don't know if anybody else organizes this way but the way I do it is I tend to move things into piles and then shuffle the piles around and progressively reduce the number of piles I have and get each pile organized individually.

So, over here, I have something to go to the basement.

I've got a pile of trash that goes in the trash can.

I've got a whole pile of cardboard that for some reason had been getting saved and needs to go in the recycle bin.

I've got a pile back here that goes to the garden shed and a pile that goes to the garden storage.

I've got a pile here that goes... I don't know what to do with that yet. That stuff from the old truck that we used to store in there that we don't have room for in the new truck, which is a project in and of itself, try to figure out better storage in the new truck.

And over here we've got stuff that should go in the back of the Jeep for emergency preparedness stuff.

And over here is project things that need to go down to the basement. And I've got a vacuum pump in there, so that needs to go to the basement too.

So now the next step is to start organizing these individual piles.

[Time lapse]

OK. So I got a good chunk of things done.

Those are my wife's projects back here in the background. I need to talk to her about what we want to do with that stuff.

But I got all the cardboard off and got piles sorted.

Some of it was just a matter of moving piles to other places for future... to deal with in the future. Still need to figure out what to do with some of that stuff.

I do have quite a few things now to deal with down here that are stacked underneath the vehicles and around the back. So I need to figure out what to do with that stuff but that's going to be for some other time.

My wife's home from the activity she was working on and we're both hungry so we're going to go get some food and I'll probably tackle this either later this evening or tomorrow or next weekend.

A couple days ago it was 85 degrees and sunny. Now we've got drizzly and 55. Typical Utah spring.

Anyway, last week I didn't get as much done as I was hoping to which you know is pretty typical when you're working on projects.

But I did get all the boxes off the top of the car here, so we can see there really are two cars here and today I want to try to get all the stuff that's around underneath these things so that I can get to them and work on them and have space to actually get the project going here.

[Time lapse]

This is some of the stuff I had stacked around the car. It's track lighting that I was able to get out of a building that was being changed. It was a strip mall and one business was moving out and left this behind, the new business coming in didn't need it and so I was able to go in and scavenge this material.

I'm going to be using it for project lighting for videography in the basement so I really need to get this put together and in use.

[Time lapse]

And I've got the obligatory cute cat picture as Smoke is out here trying to help me.

[Time lapse]

So this is kind of an interesting little device that was given to me.

It weighs well over a hundred pounds I'm sure once it's all put together.

But it's got a motor in here, and a drive mechanism here that's chain driven with gears and a power supply.

It runs off 110 and it's got these tracks that go on each side of it.

It's designed to carry refrigerated vending machines up and down stairs. So those vending machines weigh 12 to 14 hundred pounds and so it's really, really heavy duty.

It also has these kind of outriggers on it that slip into these ports on both sides for additional maneuverability.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with this. If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.

One interesting thing is it does not steer. It's designed to just go up and down stairs, as I mentioned, and so it only goes straight. There's no steering mechanism on it. So, in order to use it for some other application, it might require some engineering.

I'm not sure if it's worth trying to salvage anything off of this or what I'm going to do with it.

So, like I said, leave a comment below if you have any ideas.

[Time lapse]

These cardboard tubes are another thing I could use some help with. If you have any ideas what they could be used for, I'd love to hear them down below.

I though about maybe a telescope project with a little bit of it, but that's only going to use probably not even a whole one of these and I'm not sure what else I'd use them for.

They're too good to be thrown away though. You know how that goes.

They're smaller than the concrete forms that are used for fence posts and things like that. I think they're cores from something like carpet or paper rolls or something like that; that's about the size that they are.

Another idea I have for those tubes is to make some storage for all the long scrap metal I have in the corner of the workshop.

[Time lapse]

I got everything cleaned up from around this thing.

I'm ready now to try to start getting it running. That'll be the next video.

If you're interested in this series or other car related videos, there's a playlist up above.

And until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

See the AMAZING difference shock absorber replacement can make


Are you wondering what difference new shocks can make to your vehicle's handling? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows how to replace them and graphs the amazing difference from before and after shock replacement.

Playlist to other vehicle related episodes:

2005 Chevrolet Silverado shock kit: (Affiliate link)

Step-by-step 2005 Chevrolet Silverado shock replacement videos:
Front shocks:
Rear shocks:

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, go subscribe and click the bell to get notifications.

There's a playlist containing videos talking about the House of Hacks' values.

And here’s the most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Before and after shock replacement: the AMAZING difference

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: Hot Swing
Incidental: Zap Beat


When I bought this truck and I was test driving it, I knew it needed some shocks. At least that was the first thing I told myself.

I took it to my mechanic right after buying it and had all the fluids replaced and asked him to take a look at the shocks. And he said the shocks looked great.

Later I took it to get the tires replaced at a tire store and they also said the shocks looked great.

But in driving it around since I've bought it, I don't think the shocks are great.

So today, we're going to replace these shocks, great or not, and see what difference they make.

Let's get started.


Hi. Harley here.

As I said in the intro, my 2005 Silverado has what I think are bad shocks. If it's not bad shocks, it's bad springs, but I'm pretty sure it's shocks since those typically go out much more frequently than the springs do.

But first we're going to drive through this intersection that's close to my house that for me is a real indication that the shocks are bad.

So we're going to put a fixed point here on the screen and as I go through the intersection there's a bump in the middle, when we hit the apex we're going to start tracking this and see what kind of rebound we have as we go through the intersection onto the main street and things level out.

So here we can see exactly how bad things are.

After the shocks are replaced, we'll run through the same intersection again and put them side by side so we can kind of compare and contrast the differences between the old shocks and the new.

OK, I've got two pairs of shocks. These are the fronts. They have a stud coming out the top.

These are the rears. They have two places where the bolts go through on top and bottom.

You always want to replace shocks in pairs: the front pair, the rear pair. I found a place on Amazon, I'll leave a link down in the description below, where they sell a kit of four: two fronts and two rears.

I've never run Bilstein's before but they come highly recommended by both my Uncle and my Dad who have used them on trucks and RVs that they've owned. They really swear by them.

The front Bilstein shocks have two bushings. This one's bigger around. It also has thicker... It is also made of thicker metal and all it is is rubber right here. This one goes on the bottom because it's thicker, it's holding all the weight of the vehicle on the shock and is taking the majority of the impact, so the thicker one goes on the bottom.

Then the thinner one has this little bushing in here and a spacer and this is used to keep the shock centered inside the hole for the upper control arm. And it's smaller around and thinner metal so it's the one that goes on top.

When it's all assembled, that'll go through like that, the shock will be going up through the bottom here and here in the middle the upper control arm will be sandwiched.

For tools, for the front on the top, we'll need a 9/16th inch wrench and locking pliers to be able to hold the top post of the shock from turning as we loosen the nut.

And then for the bottom of the front and both bolts on the back, we'll need either 21mm or 13/16ths inch sockets or wrenches, to take the bolts apart.

Hopefully that's all we need. If we need more than that, it means we've got a rust problem and it's going to take more force. Hopefully we don't run into that.

OK, this is the top of the shock: the body of the truck, the tire, the shock itself. The shock has threads on it with nuts that hold it to the body. In this case we have a jam nut and the main nut that holds it on. The new shocks just have a nylock washer so the locking mechanism is built into the nut itself.

So I'm going to hit it first with some penetrating oil. And we'll let that sit for a couple minutes. I'll hit all four shocks with penetrating oil, top and bottom, to hopefully make the job a little bit easier.

OK. I'm not going to go through everything step-by-step with every little bolt that gets turned and removed and everything like that for these shock changes. It's really pretty simple.

There's the bolt on the top of the front shocks. There's a bolt that goes through the bottom of the front shocks. Those need to come off.

There's two bolts that go through the top and bottom of the back shocks. Those come out.

Everything drops out. You put the new ones in.

[Good shock: note how hard it is to press down and how slowly it rebounds.]

[Bad shock: note how easy it is to press down and how quickly it rebounds.]

[Shocks should not be this easy to move by hand!]

Putting the new ones in usually is a little bit harder because they've got more tension on them since they're not worn. Also, the rubber bushings are new and sometimes take a little bit of finagling to get them in the mounts. But once you get them in, get the bolts put back on, it's really pretty straight forward.

This particular project took me about an hour for each of the front shocks and an hour total for the two back shocks. The back shocks, there's just more room, it's easier to get to, there's less things to work around with the front suspension and it just went faster.

The new shocks did have more spring tension in them and so I did jack the truck up a little bit to unload the suspension a little bit, make it easier to get the shocks mounted properly.

And here's the footage from going through the intersection after changing those shocks.

You can see there's just a huge, dramatic difference between the before and after images here. The before had a whole lot of rebound. It really took a while for the suspension to settle down.

The footage from after changing the shocks, we can really see that there's much more dampening going on. There's not all the rebound going back and forth and back and forth forever down the street. It's much more stable.

I have driven around a number of miles since changing these and it's a different truck. It has made a very dramatic difference getting the new shocks in and those old shocks were definitely just completely toast. It was almost as if the shocks weren't doing anything at all.

So, I'm really pleased I made these changes.

I did leave links down below for this particular model truck for another channel that does have very detailed step-by-step instructions on how to change both the front and the rear shocks on this particular model truck, if you need that information.

If you have another model truck or car, Google around, I'm sure you can find detailed information for your particular model.

I've got a playlist up here for other car related videos here at House of Hacks.

Thanks for joining me on this creative journey that we're on.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!