The History of C-T AUTOMOTIVE

As told by Kent Fuller

C&T started out in 1951 on Moorpark near Woodman in Sherman Oaks, CA by Don Clark and Clem Tebo. The first strokers they did were metal sprayed. They broke a few owing to the fact they weren't very strong. I started welding cranks for them in 1956. Joe Armstrong was the crank grinder, which was a separate business from C&T. It was interesting working there and I ended up with my own department making header flange and motor mount kits. A lot of interesting people worked there while I was there. Made a lot of good friends, some are still alive.

Having passed the test for gas welding aircraft frames, I thought I was a pretty good welder but hadn't done much arc welding. When I asked Don Clark for a job, all he had was welding cranks. Decided I could probably do that It turns out that there is more to it than just welding. The motion of rotating the crank toward you and away from you while the journal is going up and down and around is harder to do than it would seem. We were using Marquette rod at the time, which, if you have arc welded you, know it is a difficult rod to use. Anyway while Don was giving me instructions on how to do the job, he was also teaching me how to arc weld at the same time but didn't know that. Later on he told me that he had gone through about 30 certified welders that couldn't do the job, because of the coordination problem. It seems walking and chewing gum is handy to know. I could do about 4 crankshafts a day. By the time I got to the 4th journal the crank was plenty hot and not too pleasant to be around. I would weld one up like I thought it should be, give it to Joe Armstrong for a rough grind and then take it back to touch up where I had missed and grind down some slag inclusions. The longer strokes were easier to weld because you could see where the buildup should be. The shorter strokes required welding farther around the journal and a more even buildup. Sounds easy but it wasn't. When wire feed Welders came along, things got a lot easier but by then I had moved on down the road.

The really hard part of the job was straightening before finish grinding. The average person could do about 2 crankshafts before they quit the job and went away. You had to put it between centers in an old lathe, transfer it to a hydraulic press with a pair of V blocks, press it to where you thought it should be, then back between centers to see if you had done the right thing. The welded cranks bend along 4 separate planes so it takes awhile to get on to where to bend.

There was a guy names Lester doing the straightening, I came around in his shop to see if he was dragging his butt by the end of the day. Here he was doing arm curls with a Chrysler crank after working 8 hours. I asked him how he could do that; he said he loved the job because he didn't have to pay to go to the gym anymore. He has to get the mains within 300Oth after the rough journal grind because the cranks were supposed to go out 10 under on the mains. Went back to Joe for the finish grind then back to Lester to drill the oil holes. Another, not easy, job. You had to drill from the outside of the finished journal and hit the oil passage which now is on 2 angles because of lengthening where the journal surface was. He missed quite a few of them and I had to drill them out bigger and then weld them up again. All in all, I think we made a pretty good product The hardest cranks to do were Destrokers. Fortunately not many people wanted them. Just a few round track and Bonneville guys. Starting off it was hard to get the rod to the inside of the journal and get good penetration in the fillet. You had to put a bend in the rod and half the time when you got near the bend the flux would fall off and you had to start over with a new rod, The straightening procedure was a lot different, because putting the weld near the center of the crank made it a lot stronger, thus it wouldn't bend in the hydraulic press. What you had to do was use an 8-X rivet gun and beat the hell out of the weld to counteract the shrinkage of the weld. This was a two-man job. Usually good for pinched fingers and burned knuckles. Also took a lot of millwork to get rid of some of the counterweight. The most interesting destroker we built while I was there was a Dodge D 500 engine to go into Clem's sprint car. Clem decided full floating bearings and '54 Ford Truck rods would be the hot setup. He claimed the rods were made from 4340 steel. I think it was destroked to get into CRA sprint car class. I'm not sure about that. The engine looked like a 354 on the outside but was considerably different inside. I think the car only ran a couple times like that. I think I remember the driver didn't like the torque of the short rods and the sudden RPM of the destroker. Time I saw it as Ascot, it picked up both front wheels down the straightaway. Clem ran it at Riverside at a Sprint car road race and I think he parked it after that. Don't know what happened to the engine. When the car was restored, it was back to an Ardun.

I hired Dave Zeuschel at C&T to do flame cutting along with Mel Scoville. I found out later that Dave was only 15 years old with I hired him. It didn't occur to me that he needed a work permit, but his folks didn't say anything and neither did anyone else. I knew Dave from having done a hood for the '32 drag coup of the club he was in. When I went off on my own to do dragsters, Dave took over my job at C&T. By then we had hired a couple welders and Dave supervised that area. The C&T sponsorship came about from just being there. He built the first blown Chrysler in his garage. Mel Scoville may have helped him plan it out.

Prudhomme had bought Ivo's one motor Buick and I had previously installed Mel Scoville's blown Chrysler in Ivo's car so all the stuff was laying around for the driveline, hence, the Zeuschel Prudhomme car. It ran pretty good on gas. Dave decided to build a fuel motor and suggested I build a new car for that motor. I did and that was the ZPF car.



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