Riviera Custom, Light ‘em up.

Posted: November 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

Wow. I struggled with where and how to mount parking lights and turn signals after I moved the headlights. My first thought was to cut out the blanked out area behind the fins in the lower part of the bezels, but I thought it’d be too difficult to do well.

I was wrong.

I drilled a hole at each end of the blanked area. And sliced it out with a diamond cut off wheel in the grinder. A little touch up of the finish and polish, they’ll look perfect.

After that I made mounting brackets for the rear seat and set the original speaker grill in the armrest.

One step at a time.

But wait, there’s more…

Posted: November 20, 2018 in Buick, Riviera
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I was having trouble with the idea of hiding the beautiful headlight nacelle’s behind the (admittedly graceful) front bumper.  I toyed with the idea of cutting the bumper ends off and grafting them to the center, so it “floated” between the fender tips, but that seemed like it’d still hide the lines Bill Mitchell laid out for the car 55 years ago.  What to do?  A little masking paper gave me an idea…

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Why do I even need the bumper?  It’s strictly an ornament, in fact it bolts to not only frame, but the sheet metal fenders, AND, the fragile die cast bottoms of the headlight tower grills. Even a tiny bump would take out the whole front end.  Not only that, the soft curve of the thin bumper clashes with, and mostly hides, the crisp, sharp lines every where else on the front end.  Why not just eliminate it, and let the design of the that front end stand on it’s own?

So, a couple of hours later, the paper pattern turned into:

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The bottom valance panel, the part of the bumper that bolts to the fenders and headlamp tower grills, remains as a “rolled pan”.  I made a simple filler panel, from the valance panel under the grill, that’ll bolt (it’s clamped on for now with Vice-Grips) to that.  It was a very easy panel to make, all straight bends (which I did over the edge of the bench with a couple sticks of 1/4″ 2×2 angle, some Vice-Grips and a rubber mallet as a brake).  That chrome piece will get painted body color, which will let me fix the little dent where one of the original bumper guards got tweaked.  I have some extra door stainless trim pieces that’ll make a nice trim over the little “flat” I added to the valance panel extension were it meets the Riviera’s original part.

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I’m pretty proud (obviously) of my design, which focuses the eye to the headlamp nacelle’s and the wide ’65 grill.  The bright Halogen headlamps will be fine behind the grills and plastic lenses, as the grills are so close the bulbs.  Shining on the shop wall, they look like they’ll be more than adequate for actual night-time driving.

The only drawback to this modification is that now I don’t think the original pale blue color, which I’d decided I’d use, won’t look right with this new, rather sinister look.  Which means, I guess, that the door jambs and cowl will now have to painted some other, suitably menacing, color.  Maybe gunmetal grey, satin?

I can’t believe I just said that, but it would look great with the black leather interior I have for the car…

I’m approaching my 64th birthday in a couple of weeks, Thanksgiving is coming right up, and I’m pretty thankful for my wonderful family,  beautiful grandson, great home with a (semi) warm shop, a collection of some pretty neat cars, a couple of fun projects, time to devote to them, and a wife who supports this obsession of mine.

The Riviera is coming along pretty well, the brake conversion is done.  I got the correct pins, and the spindles and brakes are on the car for good.  Lines are next, and the new master cylinder needs to go in.  I pulled the original gas tank, and have the poly ’93 Cadillac tank that was under our old ’48 Pontiac convertible to replace the original.  A new sending unit and Walbro fuel pump compatible with the pressure requirements of the LS is an easy swap, then lines for that, and the car will be, hopefully, a runner.  It turns over with the key, all the systems are “hot”, so I think I’m getting close.

I’m very happy with the headlight installation behind the parking lamp towers in the fenders, it’s a HUGE improvement of the clunky, last minute botch the factory did with them in the grill.  The ’65 finally got the clamshell lights, and the clean grill (I used a ’65 grill), but this will be a good, low dollar substitute for that one year only, complicated and hard to find conversion.

I used the headlight buckets that came out of the ’59 Thunderbird (which were replaced by ’63 Cadillac units), the were on the shelf, complete with the Halogen bulbs.  I’d originally thought of new projector style bulbs, but they ‘re expensive, they’d be hard to adapt and make the adjusters for, and might look odd behind the lenses.  This seems to be a more sensible approach to what’s going to be a period style car.

Happy Holidays everyone, get out in the shop and make something!

 

Name that part…

Posted: November 3, 2018 in Riviera, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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More specifically, name what vehicle it came from, so as to be able to obtain the missing caliper pin, and maybe a set of shoes in the future.

I’d had these on the shelf, saved for who knows how long, from what I remembered as being an ’83 Chevy conversion van that I’d bought for it’s 350 engine.  It turned out I didn’t use that part of it, but I did use a bunch of other stuff from it for the Diamond T, the front suspension, the gas tank, the master cylinder and power booster, steering box and and so on.  I remembered saving the front spindles and brakes, having swapped the 5 bolt, 1/2 ton parts for heavier, 8 lug 3/4 ton pickup items when I put the suspension in the Diamond T.

They’d  been sandblasted, the spindles primed with epoxy, I kept them thinking I’d use them someday, on something.

Evidently my memory is unreliable, as when I went to O’Reilly’s to get a replacement caliper pin (one had gone AWOL in the shop during the 10 years or so I’d been shuffling them around), and we couldn’t match it with what I thought they were.  A set of oversized GM pins were ordered as they were the correct length overall, but when they came they didn’t work due to difference in the head and length of the threaded shank.

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A trip back to the store today and a VERY patient counter-man revealed they are really mid 70’s full size Cadillac parts.  The pins are available, the calipers themselves are not, at least from O’Reilley’s,  For the life of me I don’t know where I got these, what I intended them for nor why I saved them.  I do remember, vaguely, deciding the set of van spindles and brakes weren’t worth saving, and taking them on a scrap run, thinking these were the same parts.

They aren’t.

They DO fit the Buick ball joints, and I CAN get the missing pins I need, they have a brand new set of shoes and the pistons are free and don’t leak, so I’m  using them.  I’ve got the spindles mounted and the right side all assembled, the left I’m now waiting for the pins.

The moral here is twofold: 1.  Don’t use what you have on hand just because you may have it on hand, and, 2.  If you save something, label it to identify what it is and put it away carefully so as to not lose difficult to find bits.

Of course, I won’t heed my own advice, and I still don’t remember how I got those…

 

Where does the time go?

Posted: October 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

I see that it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted here, but it’s not like I’ve not been busy. Our late summer/early fall time was busy with vacation and family fun around Michigan, so the Thunderbird still isn’t painted, but I’m not worried about it.

It’s supposed to be fun, right?

Since it’s been getting cool, and I’m not painting the T’bird, I cleaned the shop and uncovered the ’63 Riviera. I’d wanted to put disk brakes on the front, and while cleaning found a set of what I think are ’93 Chevy van spindles and brakes. With a little modification of the lower ball joint boss they bolt on. Convenient because, a) I had them, and b) I had swiped one the aluminum drums for the roadster.

This should work very well, I’ve also got a disk/drum master cylinder and proportioning valve, so everything is on hand. I had a brief panic moment when I opened the Buick’s trunk and the air conditioning kit pieces I thought were in there weren’t, but found all those on the storage shelf. Not working on something for a year leads to confusion. Happily I hadn’t lost or tossed out any important new parts.

So, I guess I’m ready for winter. I’d still like to get the T’bird dash painted, so it can be installed. The rest can wait.

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Wow.  It’s October 3rd already.  Where did the summer go?  What happened, and why didn’t I get all the things done I thought would be childs play back in April?

To review, as shown above, I got the roadster (sort of) finished, and drove it.  A LOT.  And fixed it a little, but mostly, drove it.

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We went camping.  A LOT,  8 weeks all told, including a great 2 week trip in northern Michigan the past couple of weeks.  It was great to be away.

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We explored lots of new (to us) wineries, brewpubs and distilleries.  Here we are, with Kim’s sister Julie and her husband Ken, at “Glass Creek” Wines in Hastings, right in our backyard.  GREAT Michigan red wines, a nice surprise!

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We went to a couple of cool car shows.  Here at Gilmore Car Museum at the “Relix Riot”, being chauffeured by my grandson Milo.  Time well spent.

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Spent more quality time with Milo, still at Relix Riot, here with his dad’s wagon.  They surprised us by showing up!

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Oh, I did get the wagon painted, and a new exhaust system after it blew out one of the original 10 year old mufflers on the way to Port Crescent.  For more camping.

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Changed the wheels and tires on the ’34, and managed to keep them from falling off.  Which puts a kink in a romantic evening cruise…

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Went to world premier movies and skyped with Hollywood elite.  Originally from Flint.  As part of the crowd, but, hey, it counts.

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Bought lift tickets and rolled down a ski hill on a wheeled cart.  Doing that again!

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Saw beautiful sunsets and mastered the art of being in two places at once.  That’s me, left, and right.

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Got marooned on a deserted island with our best friends, and was rescued in time to go to a dance.

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Got a cat.

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Did manage to (almost) get the T’bird painted.  I did get it blocked, primed, and blocked again, now, one more coat, more sanding, then I think it’s possible I can get at least the dash and door jambs painted.  Or not, doesn’t really matter.

So, that’s where summer goes.  It seems like it’ll never get here in February, but before you know it, it’s October, and winter is closing in again.  The seasons fly, but they’re full of fun, family, and friends, and that’s the most important part of the whole year.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come, it’s early, and it’ll be summer again before we know it!

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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!