The third time is the charm.

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Roadsters
Tags: , , , ,

A friend on FB suggested that a full width stainless dash might “flow” better than the small center panel, and lots of people, including my wife, thought the two side panels were just too “busy”.  So, back to ALRO steel I went and  had them shear me a 2’x4′ piece of mirror polished stainless (I got extra, in the likely event I screwed up along the way) and I got busy.



It all went well, I stayed on the layout line with the bead roller borrowed from my buddy John.  I laid out the machine finish lines with a Sharpie and a straight edge right on the metal, followed the horizontal lines to keep the vertical spacing on, and just eyeballed the spacing as I moved right to left.  I like doing this, it’s fun, and the difference in layout, spacing, and whether one moves right to  left gives a different look.  It also makes mistakes VERY obvious, but this looks pretty good.  In retrospect I  maybe should have laid it out and machined it flat, then rolled the bead and polished the machining off the bead, but I can try again if I feel ambitious, it’s time to move on to the next big thing.

That turns out to be getting rid of 40 years of wear and tear on a fiberglass body.  The rumble lid didn’t fit right, it scuffed the body panel below the lid, which left marks in the paint.  The way this was built, there was no adjustment, either in the hinges to body (they were bolted to the plywood body brace, no slots in the holes), or the rumble lid to hinge.  How the guy got the lid bolted on was a mystery, there was NO access to the inside of the lid, he somehow got nuts, but no flat washers or locks, on the 1/4″ bolts.  I cut an access hole with a hole saw in between the hinge bolt holes, and can just barely reach them.  That took about an hour, but time well spent.

There was a hole in the body at the tulip panel just ahead of the rumble seat lid for a gas filler (the tank had been inside behind the seat), and one on the left side for an antenna.  I prepped those spots and filled them with ‘glass mat and resin, and ground the (very thick) purple acrylic enamel and lacquer primer down to raw glass all along the tulip panel so I can shape it and the lid to match.  The body didn’t match the curve of the lid, so it’ll take some filler.

The doors lacked exterior handles, a common thing guys did, and still do, a smooth “shaved” custom trick, but I wanted them on this car to make it look like a “real” car.  The latches are probably reproduction Ford pieces, and the interior handles (which were with it) were mounted on little stubs of 1/4″ square stock, and were floppy and loose.  I had a pair of ’34 door handles, and drilled holes through the door skin using the latch hole as a template.  That was fine, but the way the latches are made, the handle “drooped” at about a 30 degree angle to the belt line bead.  I was scratching my head as to how to  clock the handle correctly, and a fellow on the HAMB said “Why not just clamp the shaft in a vice and twist it?”  Doh.  That was the trick, the handles look great, the interior handles are not solid, one more thing done.


In the pile of bits and pieces that Billy O gave me with the car, there’s an original, steel cowl vent, which I’m going to use.  Happily, this body has a working cowl vent, the steel one will be one more detail that will make the car look like a gennie Ford car.

The firewall work is almost finished, a skim coat of glaze today will take care of a few pinholes and sanding scratches.  I really like the trio of (hopefully functional) gauges I put in the center, an old early 60’s thing guys did to make “tuning” easier, but probably more just to look cool at the drive in. I have a vintage tach in the center, a vacuum gauge and oil pressure gauge, again, stuff that was in the car, just as “hole fillers” in the dash.


Once the little bit of bodywork is done today, I’d like to get the engine cleaned up and ready to paint.  In just a few short weeks, the weather will start to warm up, and I hope to have everything ready to paint and assemble.  My grandson Milo wants to go for a ride!


  1. Keith says:

    Very nice! Been following on the HAMB as well. Like the full dash panel look. Are you going to stick with the T Bird steering wheel? Any thoughts of using a banjo style wheel?

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