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How can it be the middle of August already?  Summer just started, and I haven’t gotten anything done!

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate.  The wagon is painted and back to towing duty for the Spartan trailer.  The ’34 roadster is getting there, I’ve solved the hot start flooding issue (fuel boiling in the carbs and flooding) with some Lexan carb base insulators I made.  The turn signal switch wore out in the ’61 T’bird column, I got a new one from Ecklers, but it came with a wire pulled out of the base, so another one is one the way.  I’m hand signaling for now.

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The pretty but never-cold-enough Frigidaire in the Spartan, above, was ash-canned in  favor of new apartment size fridge/freezer.  It’s 110 only, but I added an inverter so we can run it battery while traveling if we need to.  Actually, it stays cold all day with the door shut, so I may not need the battery backup.  The photo shows my last ditch effort to make it work by reducing the cabinet size.  That failed.  The gas absorption conversion we had done was an expensive and disappointing failure, but, live and learn.

The T’bird is all blocked out and waiting for the final coat of high-build and a guide coat, my goal is to have it in color by the time snow flies, so I guess it’s on schedule.  The Riv in the background is waiting, but I have all the interior, the engine is in, chassis done, it’s been designated a retirement project.  I did discover that long board sanding is a lot more difficult than it was when I was 35, so, the Riv now looks like a pretty challenging project.  It’ll keep me busy, anyway.

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I’ve had a moment of anxiety over a new health issue.  At my annual visit to my cardiologist, last week, an EKG revealed a new right bundle branch block.  In and of itself it doesn’t mean much, but in the context of my ascending aortic aneurysm, aortic valve, mild left ventricular hypertrophy and history of an MI, it’s concerning.  Had an echo yesterday, and await the findings.  My plan is to work until next December, when I’m 65, and retire at that time.  Let’s hope that plan works, as I have a lot of stuff to do.   As it’s asymptomatic, I’m hoping that it doesn’t indicate any new, serious issue.

We’re getting ready for this weekends “Relix Riot” at the Gilmore Museum.  This is our favorite, and now only, summer car show, hosted by our pals in the Relix club from Grand Rapids.  After that, camping at the Yankee Springs State Park, a 2 week Michigan vacation and then the Fall TCT rally, and summer’s officially over.   It goes fast, but I’m trying to beat the the clock!

 

 

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It’s always good to lead with a pun, right?  The past month has been a whirlwind of activity, and life has gotten in the way, but finally I think I’m through the stress and have gotten back on the “fun” stuff.

The wagon, which you’ll remember I’d gotten the rust repairs done over a month ago, has been stalled.  We missed my (seemingly easy) deadline of having it ready for the Milford TCT Spring Rally (vintage trailer gathering), and the Muskegon rally last weekend, but today I finally got primer on it.  I’d thought I’d be shooting primer Monday, but found a soft spot on the drivers front fender, down low, behind the rocker molding,  made a patch for that, got the body work finished this morning and 4 double wet coats of high-build primer on this afternoon.

I’m happy with how it looks, although I discovered some pinholes in the filler on both sides, something I’ve never had happen before.  I bought high end, expensive finish filler, so maybe I’m better with the cheap stuff!  It’ll mean a skim coat of some polyester finish putty, but I have to block it all out, prime again, and then a guide coat, so it’s really no big deal.

I think the skirts are killer.

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In other news, we’ve given up on the  period correct Frigidaire fridge in the Spartan trailer, it just doesn’t get cold and stay cold.  We had it converted to propane, and it’s never done a good job.  Well, it’s cold as long as the ambient temps are below 70, but seldom can we rely on that in the midwest in summer, so, it’s going away.  In it’s place, will go an early 50’s GE fridge, that we’ll keep electric only, with it’s original compressor.  I bought it here in Kalamazoo from a nice hot rodder guy who follows me on Instagram.  Plugged it in when we unloaded it and in 2 hours the cabinet temp was 20.5!  I had it cranked WAY up, so I dialed the thermostat down, and it’s humming along a 34 right now.

New gaskets are on the way for the door, and I’ll fix some minor damage to the door tomorrow and get it ready for a new coat of shiny white enamel from Tractor Supply that I have on hand.  I put a 2000 watt inverter in the trailer last fall, so we can run it on the battery (the inverter converts 12V to 110V) while towing and the car or truck alternator will keep the battery charged.  A solar charger and one more coach battery would enable us to go entirely solar and still have the fridge, although we couldn’t use the AC.  It’s going to be a HUGE improvement.

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The ’34 has been running great, I’ve put about 700 miles on it, enough to have the cheap reproduction Harley speedometer (junk to begin with) stop working, the old SW vacuum gauge to stop working (hole in the diaphragm), and tonight, the brake lights to not work.  I also discovered the play in the steering, which I’d blamed on the cheap, reproduction Vega steering box, but turned to be the cheap, off-shore made pitman arm which was slightly thinner than the box was made to use.  That meant the nut didn’t tighten the arm down on the shaft completely, leaving some “slop” between the steering box shaft and steering arm.  Scary.

I “fixed” that with a couple of flat washers that were in the bolt bin, and the car drives like a slot car  now.  I’ll keep my on that Vega box, they have a reputation for being sloppy and wearing quickly, but for now, it seems like it’s all good.  There are always some bugs to work out, but overall, it’s great.

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Our son Craig and his wife Kathleen bought a ’65 Ford Ranch wagon earlier this  spring, and I helped them wire it for a trailer lights, installed a brake controller, fixed the power steering pump and put a new high performance radiator and new hoses in ahead of the sweet running 352.  It looks pretty nice as is, I’ll do a little rust repair this winter for them on the rear fenders and rocker panels, and blend the paint.  It’s got a pretty decent “used car lot” repaint from decades ago that polished up pretty well, and they want the car to be a funky, driver type car, so that makes it easy for me.

We gave them the little “Tini-Home” canned ham trailer, they’ve already used it once, we hope it’ll give them years of family fun, just like it has for us!

So, lots of activity here a Cool McCool’s Garage.  We’ve been to a couple of cruise nights with the roadster, and a weekend of vintage camping with our friends at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon.  June is half over, but summer has just begun!

 

I went to a local muffler shop the other day and got two 10′ sticks of 2″ exhaust tubing, and had them bend a 90 degree in one end of each.  I also bought two steel pack “resonators”, some chrome exhaust tips, and handful of clamps and hangers.

I hung the tubing temporarily under the car after welding the header flanges on, and fired it up.  It was evident that mufflers were going to be redundant, so, the car now has straight pipes.  I like the way it cackles under throttle, it’s pretty mellow going down the road, and, best of all, I did it myself.  I did put a little “bow” in the pipes by putting a 2×4 between the pipes and the frame in the center, and jacking the back up until the pipes hit the gas tank.

Now, on to the top.

…or so says Neil Young.  Kim has been asking me to fix the (tiny) rust blisters on the ’51 Pontiac wagons fenders for a couple seasons, since she got a Celebrity Choice pick at Autorama in Detroit with it last month, I figured I’d better get it done.

Of course, it was way worse than it looked at the surface.  Here’s how I fixed it:

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So, I made some new fender skirts while I was at it…

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And the doors were rusty too…


Now it’s ready for primer and paint.

Seriously?  It’s April 4!  This is not roadster weather!  28685851_10216425438251154_8388987590613026421_nActually, I don’t mind, because I’m not finished up yet anyway.  We have driven the car a couple of times, it has 20 miles on the odometer, enough to find a couple of little bugs that I’ve taken care of (the shifter selector shaft seal, and a radiator hose that wasn’t quite tight enough, which I fixed, but now the gas gauge isn’t working), and I still need to get the canvas on the top made and get it licensed, but, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

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I had “Fly’n Brian” painted on the tail pan at “Motorama” at Cobo Hall, in a tribute to the cars original name, “Flying Flathead”,  where we debut the car. I’m very happy with that, although the casual observer won’t know the story.  I also got the set of steel ’49 Chevy wheels blasted and painted,  ad the wide whites (seen in the first photo) mounted, and I have to say I like that look.  It actually drives pretty well with the bias ply tires too, so, I think we’ll like it both ways.  The little 283 boils the skinny bias plus all the way through second, which it won’t do with the big, sticky radials.  Fun.

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We drove it to the Gilmore Car Museum before Cobo on a sunny March day, and I’ve driven my grandson Milo around the yard a few times.  He approves, and we’re looking forward to a summer of fun with this little roadster.

It’s gonna be a blast!

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I’m “done” enough at this point to call it good, at least to take it to Detroit for the “AutoRama” in two weeks.  The interior is indeed finished, with the exception of hooking up the turn signal indicator light in the dash, and a couple of screws in the carpet to hold it in place.

You can see the black knobs for the safety latches.  Those were ordered from Summit a day and half a go.  Super fast shipping, and they’re pretty nice quality, certainly nicer than the barrel bolts I had bought at the hardware store…

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Yesterday I had cut and bound the carpeting, which is just an indoor/outdoor area rug I ordered from Home Depot.  It’s all synthetic, no backer, and I used bubble wrap “Reflectix” insulation rather than jute padding under it.  It should be very forgiving weatherize, and the chocolate color compliments the saddle interior.  And, it was $18.00.

Winning.

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In addition to the upholstery, I re-chromed (again) the rusty but repaired windshield frame, and got that installed, complete with the newly cut down glass.  I’m not particularly happy with the gasket, it’s so loose in the slot in the frame that I had to glue it in with some silicone, but it seems to be staying put.  I trimmed a little against the posts so the windshield frame snuggles right in between the posts perfectly.

From Home Depot I also bought a 4×8 sheet of white “FRP” plastic to make the trunk panels from, if I have time next week I’ll get the trunk upholstered and carpeted too, but if I don’t get to it, we’ll leave the trunk closed.  It’ll be a nice bonus if it’s done (I’m sure I will), but it’s not a priority at this point.

The big decision at this time is how best to title and register the car.  I like to title it as a ’34 Ford, but the cost of a title may be a factor.  Otherwise, an “Assembled” title would work, I’d have to put temporary bumpers and windshield wipers/washer on for that, so we’ll see.

See  you in Detroit in two weeks!

 

Today’s task was to go to AutoZone and spend my Christmas money on transmission fluid, wax, hand buffing compound, tire cleaner, wheel cleaner, fuses, and other miscellaneous stuff.  (Of course I didn’t get a three prong flasher, number one on the list…).  I added 2 quarts of trans fluid, and backed it out of the garage into the (almost) sun.  IMG_3668

It was then that I could see that I wasn’t done buffing and polishing!  The paint is single stage  urethane, and has fully cured, meaning it’s pretty hard.  I wet sanded it with 1200, then 1500, then like 4,000 on my DA, which left a pretty uniform satin finish.  Then I buffed it with 3M Heavy Duty Rubbing compound and wool bonnet, washed the car, and then used a foam pad and 3M machine finish glazing compound.  If I’d done all this when the paint was still soft, lets say within a week of shooting it, it’d have been much, much easier.

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As it was, I had quite a few “hazy” areas, that needed a lot more polishing.  So, out came the buffer, foam pad and glazing compound, and I hit most of the car again.  I also hand rubbed the character lines, door and hood edges, as I didn’t want to cut through the black.  I’d originally planned to intentionally cut through into the red-oxide primer beneath,  to make the paint look old, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Call me crazy…

Now however, I’m very happy with the results, the paint looks deeper, and has a somewhat “softer” shine, a bit less “plasticky” than the uncut urethane.   I got supplies to detail and spiff the car for its debut at AutoRama in Detroit in one month, like tire dressing, some Meguires liquid wax, spray detailer, wheel cleaner for (very hard to clean wire wheels), Armor-All wipes for the interior and so on.

 

 

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I ordered some little stuff for the interior, some welting, Common Sense snaps for the saddlebag style map pockets in the doors, vinyl tack strip, and metal spring clips to hold the trim panels on, as Kim hates using screws and trim washers.  I don’t mind that, but she is right, it’ll be a more finished look.

So, it’s coming down to the wire.  The car runs GREAT, it looks as good as anything I’ve ver built, it seems to drive OK, at least up and down the drive, the brakes and steering are tight and feel really good.

See you in Detroit!