The Trick Dipstick

Here's a little something for you to do on an otherwise nasty winter day while the SS sits until the first warming rays of the springtime sun. You've removed the stock air cleaner and associated crap for a cool looking, billet aluminum air cleaner, and dressed up the remainder of the engine bay by shaving the AIR tubing and adding headers. But now, your dipstick is poking up like the family jewels of a Viagra addict, staring you in the face on its now extra-long tube.

Time for a little customizing, since you don't have the money for a $70 Lokar flexible cable dipstick after running the credit card up to it's limit on Christmas toys for your little rug rats, and in turn receiving ties or some other needless crap of the sort instead of truck goodies. Let's take a look at this simple procedure. If you can weld or braze, you are ahead. If not, you hopefully will have a buddy that can weld or braze. Failing that, you'll need to do a little cold metal trickery to get this to work.

First, you will need to make sure your oil pan is filled to the proper level. A good measurement is to have the oil level right in the middle of the cross-hatches on the dipstick, which will give you a baseline for cutting cross-hatches in the new section of dipstick.

Now, decide how you want to position the dipstick. You'll probably go for a low mounted design, one in which you can remove the entire upper half of the tube (it is a 2-piece design, with an O-ring seal to the pan). So, proceed to remove the upper half of the dipstick tube once you have removed the dipstick. The lower portion of the dipstick remains in the pan, for now. You will notice that the upper mount for the dipstick is a very long, ugly, and cumbersome bracket that appears to have been designed by the typical late-model GM pencil pusher; you know, the ones that were (foolishly) unlocked from their chains in the GM building's dungeon and turned loose on the Aztec and Avalanche (and, unfortunately, the '03 full-size pickup). Cut this bracket off of the tube, as it will come in handy later on. The piece of tube is now sized conveniently enough to fit into most garbage containers.

Now, remove the C clip on the dipstick tube in the pan, and grind off the flare on the upper end on it. The tube is enlarged near the end, and a flare was put on it to aid in slipping the other piece in. Since the flare is no longer needed, but the enlarged portion is, simply grind off the flare using a grinder or hacksaw and file. Once you're finished, shoot some degreaser or carb cleaner all over the tube, especially inside, to flush out the filings.

Now comes the fun part. As the tube is bent at a 45* angle at the upper part of the tube, you'll need to bend the tube so that it's got somewhere close to a 10* bend on it. Then, replace it in the pan. Make sure the O-ring is aligned properly, or you will greatly expound your vulgar word vocabulary in attempting this relatively simple measure. I'd recommend picking the O-ring (which will invariably stick in the pan grotting) out and sliding it on the tube manually. You'll now need to get a bracket on there to secure the upper part. The tube should align roughly close to a header bolt hole, and be at a similar angle to the header flange. Remember that remnant piece of bracket? Time to add it back on. If you can weld or braze, cool. Cut the bracket to 1½", from rounded tip to cut end, align it with the chosen bolt hole using a header bolt, and tack weld it on. Remove the tube assembly and complete the weld, smoothing it before final assembly. If brazing is the method of choice, then mark the bracket on the tube, remove both pieces, and braze as necessary, again smoothing the area before final assembly. Lastly, if you do not have access to these two excellent methods, the bracket will need to be cut about 1" longer and rolled over the tube. Again, install the bracket and tube and mark the tube where the bracket will be installed. Remove both, and using a vise, grip the tube and bracket firmly. Hammer the bracket around the tube, being careful not to kink the tube in the process. It should end up wrapping around the tube at least ¾" of the circumference of the tube. Finally, pin the tube using a couple quick blows of a hammer and sharp punch. Round off any sharp edges prior to installation.

Any way you assemble it, you'll need to paint it, so clean it off with some rubbing alcohol and shoot it with your favorite red, black, white, chrome, or aluminum high-temp paint. After it dries, stick it in place. Don't forget the O-ring or C clip on the pan.

Now comes time to chop the dipstick itself. Take about 9" off of it. Then clean it, insert it into the tube, remove it, and exactly mark the oil level with a sharp tool, and wipe it off. Then, lay the discarded piece next to the dipstick end, position the middle of the cross hatch pattern in line with the mark on the dipstick, and mark the upper and lower limits of the cross hatch. Reinsert the dipstick to check the marks. The oil level should be approximately in the middle of the marks. If it is not, readjust the marks as necessary. Discard the piece, and using a thin file or hacksaw with fine teeth, cut new cross hatch marks into the pre-marked area. If the dipstick needs to be cut down any more, trim it down, and bevel the tip like the stock tip. Now, install it and check the oil level. It should be approximately in the middle of the cross hatch area.

Now, you have a trick dipstick, saved $70, and have yet another cool mod to be proud of. No test drive needed for this little custom job, but still feel free to go out and wake up the neighbors with a John Force style burnout.