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Project Fumblebee - 1969 Coronet Superbee


Well-Known Member
Local time
3:43 PM
Jul 17, 2016
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Grand Rapids, MI
This is going to be a long tail of the car that has been known to be called The Fumble bee. I wish this could be a pure stock car but it is well beyond that. I am looking to make this a fun car and just do a lot of burnouts and have fun with it now.

The base info that we had was that it was a 1969 Dodge Coronet Superbee. It did have the W code to make it one, but it had the A12 hood and it is NOT an A12 car. In its true form it was an equally rear car and it had a 383 with N96 option dual ram air. But the previous owner got rid of that and the pale white color and went to a not available in 69 yellow. It was reported to have 3.91 gears with sure grip. With a little background we move on…

I bought the car in 2015 from a guy who said it sat for a bit and should run. I hopped on the deal and checked it out. It turned over but didn't start. I called a flatbed wrecker and we got it to its new home and I set out to start working on it.

The old 6a mad box was zip tied to the inside fender well. It was corroded, seemingly not getting a signal out. It rattles when shook and not secured right, so it was replaced with a new 6AL and mounted it. I started to get spark to my coil but would get through the distributor, the cap and rotor looked OK on the inside. But the body was again corroded so I bought a replacement. Threw it in and tried to fire up, nothing… I did index the #1 cylinder, and double checked everything else no spark to the plug but did at the cap. I ended up calling an old timer and he knew that there was an air gap for the reflector wheel. I couldn't find this anywhere online. After some checking it turns out it's 0.10, got the feelers out, boom fired right up!

The Car was now running, and all accomplished after only a few weeks of thrashing. I set out to run around the block and this thing had power, and plenty of it, after all it was a 440. It seemed to get into high gear by the end of my 100ft driveway. I thought nothing of it and kept driving around as there was a few people who wanted to see this car. I drove about 2 miles and put it back in the barn. Winter started to fast approach and I made plans to store it at our family farm in the tractor storage barn where I had power for the battery, plenty of rodent control and more importantly room. Since this wasn’t my first time moving a car from location to location that might not make it I had my friend driving my truck close if I needed it. Well I made it the 0.5 miles down the road and the car shut off, I restarted it and it was idling very rough, so I had to keep the throttle on. Made a few turns and got to a stop sign on a back-farm road, it died again. I started it and it ran even worse than last time. Kept going and made it apx 1 more mile down the road for a grand total of 3 miles max and hit a stop sign, died, restarted died, restarted and with the throttle pegged I took off the car was way down on power and like a Goodyear eagle at Talladega a big puff of white blue smoke and silence. I coasted down the road, stopped and got out. There was about a ½” hole in the pan and a long trail of oil behind it, with only a little dripping from the pan. The car did not turn over any more when I tried to bump the starter. Duramax to the rescue and pulled me home the remaining 5 miles. The car was pushed into the corner and left to rot on jack stands.

Clearly at this time I knew the motor was done, I started looking for an entire motor. I am not the most adapt at motor swaps I wanted the entire block and then pull the junk one and drop in the fresh one. I looked all over the web and found a 440 listed for sale in Detroit MI, so my dad and I hopped in the truck and took off. We found it and it was reported as an old motorhome 440. We got it back and in my barn. I tore it all down to get refreshed and since it was a smogger motor a little more updating to the innards, so I can let her eat with the best of them. I get it dropped off to my cousin’s shop who runs two shops a muscle car resto shop and general mech shop. They wanted to do the work. I throw it in their shop and I get a call a few days later. It was a 76 413 NOT a 440. Not a total loss I could rob a lot of the parts I needed off this, so it wasn’t a total loss just a big loss. I kept looking and by now it was Jan 18 I blew the motor in Oct of 17. I located in near my home and more importantly the shop a gold mine of Mopar parts and located a 440. It was one of the coldest days of the winter and we worked hard to get this block in my truck. I took it down the road and dropped it off at the shop. It was a 1965 440 block with crank and mains that was it. Feb came and gone with nothing, March same I called and told them I was over the wait and that it needed to be started on. It was sent off to the machine shop the next day. I went up there and talked to the guy who was to do the work and we laid the plan all out. He said he would have it in about 3 months and it’d be done and assembled, the whole long block.

While the car motor was being worked on I knew that the rear gearing wasn’t right so I set out to get the 3rd member out and re-geared. I pulled it out and brought it to a shop that had a very good reputation and said I want a good gear set that will allow me to drive around town and on the highway a bit and not burn be like what is in it. When we did remove it we found that it had 4.56 gears in it! After some talk we decided to on 3.55’s. It was already a sure grip and that is when I found out there was 2 different versions as I was going to have him replace the clutches in it. I have the cone type so we will see how much longer it holds out before I have to get a new one. While laying out the plan for the gears he talked me into getting the bearings done and switched over to the green bearings. I was all set to go, 2 weeks passed and I threw it all in and no issues from them it was as smooth as could be for this project.

I drop off the block, heads, and about every misc. part I could find in 3 large crates and walk away. May and June both pass and not a word from the builder. By this time, I was a little agitated and went up to see him. He was warned by one of the other guys in the circle that I was not happy. He was ready for a fight and started yelling and cussing the second I saw him, he even threw some of the parts around like trash (mind you I didn’t need or want the old fuel pump that was leaking I had a Holly Red Pump for years on my car. We talked it all out and came up with another plan and an even better one. Forget the 906 heads I got Edelbrock Victor Jr ones. Turns out my crank is bad too, so I needed a new one of those on top of it all. He had a line on a crank and I pick up everything. July comes and goes I haven’t heard from this guy. I text him and he keeps giving me excusing and saying that he has race engines that need to be done and that “ no one climbs the list” I saw the list and it was completed prior to my block and a 340 that was sitting under a cover that was “ done” so I had tough words for him to include calling him out on a “ last min job” that was not on this list. I was told to “go f+++ myself and get my s+++ and go someplace else.” I did just that. I called another shop in town that I had used before for work on my truck but never a full build. They were willing to take the job on. There was some other things that happened here and there parts wise I found a good deal on W2 rockers and before we noticed that the Victors use a hard offset we were going to use them, I will sell them off ( haven’t yet) I found a screaming deal on H-bar rods and pistons but it turns out they were for a stroker kit so they just got sold off for a little more than what I paid for them.

I take all my stuff over there and the only thing that the previous yam bag did was an initial 30 over bore, honed my rods and installed the ARP bolts on them. I explained everything to him and he said 3 to 4 weeks he will have it done. I leave, 3 weeks go by and I call the shop and say “hey I have a motor being worked on there and it’s been a while and haven’t heard anything” the reply was a snarky “how long is a while” I stated it was 3 weeks and she got the builder. He didn’t even start working on it yet. He said due to his vacation time, his partners and blah blah blah. We talk and 4 more weeks. So now we are into Aug to try and get it done. I keep tabs on him and we are making timely progress. I get a call during a meeting and saying that the heads I supplied are closed chamber, and that the pistons he had ordered are domed. This was at the final checks he found this out. I explained that this was a big big miss on his part and that he should have caught this sooner. He had to mill each of my Keith Black pistons for this. I get the block and heads assembled and we’re down the road back to the shop.

I drop it off and ask my cousin how long? He said 3 days we can have it all painted carb-pan, cooling fan to trans on. I take off and get by brother and we set to tear out the old one. 3 days goes by and not even a drop of work got done. In fact, 2 weeks go by. I understand that there were a few big events for a full resto shop to get to with their stuff. I was really hoping that I was going to make it to Roadkill Nights in Detroit with this thing but that was NOT going to happen. We get it the finer things done, it was painted and ready. I get my car up to his shop and why not he has all the right tools for this not just some like me. We spend a few weekends and many nights in the shop.

While at this shop we had lots of trivial things like these heads have not been seen by the shop they usually use the E-Street heads or OEM ones since they are more of a resto shop by the power shop. We found out that it needed a whole install kit, but it would work with my M1 intake that was on the old engine. I said I am running low on funds as I had other issues come up at the home that needed to be fixed and I ripped the old heads off to sell anyway and had cleaned up and ran them over. A nice set of 516 heads, we wasted no time and threw them on and started the reassembly. I had more weekend work to do and I showed up one day and the entire block was in the car, a few of the accessories are mounted and I was tickled pink, we all where! We had to attach the torque converted to the flex plate, but my cousin was on cruise control and had installed the rad, all the accessories and was saving this hard job for me. I got under there threw one bolt in and went to work to get the others. I couldn’t do it because no starter on it, and too much stuff on the front so we had to wrestle that 400 lb. starter in place. After that he tells me he planned to put the Dakota starter on there and oh well. We bump starter around and get the bolt in. well the flex plate I supplied to the builder turns out to not be the one he used, and I had to “massage “the holes under the car I got the carbide bur out on the 90-degree air tool and put a pry bar on it and touched the holes open a bit. Then we got it ready for the headers. We fought for about an hour and didn’t get one on. We flat tow it about 2 miles down the road where he has a lift, and this is his general mech shop. We work there for a few more nights and get it started, running cam broken in and ready. There were a few other little issues that popped up but nothing that was life ending. fter another month of delays I back it out of the bay and take it down the road. I arrived after work and found this thing in the air and had the pipes all in. We got it on the ground wires all on and set to go. We set to prime the carb (a BRAND-NEW Holley carb 850 CFM that blew the bank out at $700) We get the distinct smell of fuel and see it running down the line. We head home, the next night we have new hard line and throw it in. Start the process again and no fuel in the carb. We tried everything we could link of and thought the pump was dead. Turns out after I suggested many more times that we pull the bowels off and the needle was stuck on BOTH bowls. We get good flow and fired it right up. We broke in the cam and called it a night. Next night was the big one. I got my friend and we headed up to the shop with only 1 truck. We had to finish the stuff of importance, fine tune timing, fluids double checked, throttle spring, mount the new msd box again etc. We get that all done and ready to take off. I back the car out and do a little forward/back motion to get out of the shop pad and wait for a break in traffic and take off slowly. The last words my cousin said was “be nice to it but don’t be nice”

While driving I had the car shift through the gears a few times nothing hard just like I had to merge in with traffic on a 55-mph road and then there was a pop and white smoke all out of back and some under the hood area. No power again and I coast to a stop. I get out look and see no hoses off look under the car and there is bright green coolant flowing out of the header collector. We flat tow it back to the shop about 1 mile away. We are beat, and heart broken, and we leave it for the night. We didn’t see any water in the oil, or anything else so we thought it was the 516-head leaking. I had a little money left so I said “forget it “and I bought the 440 source 1.6 ratio with offset rockers (on sale), Hughes has the install kit for the Victor heads, and new short tube headers at the direction of my cousin. All these parts are set to arrive by 10-25-18. Last night I was on shift at the fire department and I get a call from him, he has another show this one in Chicago to go to and needs to get his mint Dart there, but we needed to know. He tore the head off and it turns out I blew out the wall of the #2 cylinder. We

This motor is done done done….and I am right back to square 1 I am going to trailer this car home, throw it in the barn and start the search again.

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Good car for a resto-mod if you are so inclined. Though it will look good the way it is going down the road (without the white smoke).
I got the car home and this is the damage. I got the new block set and going to drop it off in a few hours

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Block is at the machine shop

Also it started to rain and my dog found a place to wait out the storm.

I usually update as I work on it on instagram using #fumblebee so if you happen to have the ham you can see there first then I will usually update here too

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Is that a broken piston???
I think I see a block heater in place of one of the core plugs.
Oh yeah....GREAT name for the car. Clever. I like smart and clever people. :thumbsup:
Some of the old pics. From the build

The failure was the mopar purple cam breaking somehow. You can see it broke hard and somehow a part of a connecting rod made it in the valley. My brother is a heavy truck mech and convinced to help me. I keep it cheese as always and that was the block on return from the builder with the alum heads I didnt use(I will now)

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The states of assembly. Had to replace the old alum linen with new. A few other selfies, massaging the header a little more

Really good oil pressure and the face of failure immediately after I found the coolant is pouring out of the header collector.

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The new block as I brought it home.

Last update I will also try and take some pics of the old block and add it here. It is a 1965 block and not many people have seen one this new I guess so I'll see what you guys on the internet say

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I was digging around the car today and was hoping to find the build sheet/broadcast sheet no luck

Not a ton of work in the mi winter....

I got the motor pulled out of the car, disassembled and all the parts that are worth reusing at the machine shop.

7 rods survived, UAE tech and I worked out a deal for new forged pistons so they are def a stand up company.

Waiting for the machine shop to be done next week( as reported)

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With the heads not playing well with the rest of the system I opted for some dirty cheap alum heads. I moved the old block to my basement( wife wasn't too thrilled when she saw the next project down there)

These are " speed master/ proformer" knock off edelbrocks and seem to be not toooooo bad.

They checked out level from the machine shop side so no skimming needed. The push rod clearance is ok from the factory I needed to shape it up a tiny bit 8$ in a reamer(Craig's list buy) and some time worked.

I didn't have a crank since I sold the one out of the latest doner block so I had to get creative to check clearance and length. This is a junk stock cam and stock lifters not the good stuff. And turns out I'll need to cut these things for an overall length of 9-5/8 min and since I don't have a gasket and pumped up lifters they Will be a tiny bit longer, as they run.

The wipe is using 440 source 1.6 ratio offset rockers. Their adjustment screw should leave about 2 full threads above the nut when pumped. The wipe clean on all 4 corners and seems to not need any shims.

As for budget I'm not using the billet block hold downs. So I will be using all 50 shims in the kit for the side to side movement using the oem hold downs. I can't say they are 2 or 3 on each side because each hold down is different ( the benifit of using the machines hold downs)

And lastly I found a good deal on a 727 out of a 69 b body that might be full of neutrals or all 3 speeds so I got a rebuild kit from Orilies auto who had it on the shelf!! ( by far best auto parts store around, Napa is worthless for anything but oil and even then) I might try takeling the rebuild with the help of YouTube later this month

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Got the block from the machine shop on Friday, spent sat getting it to the basement to assemble the rest of the block.

The block will be assembled here at home then painted and installed at the shop

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