Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Time slips away.

Posted: December 19, 2014 in cars
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I was out in the shop a while ago, working on the tulip panel of the T’bird, when my ancient Makita variable speed grinder wheezed to halt. Aggravated to spend time working on tools instead of the car, I pulled the OTHER non-functioning Makita grinder out of the cabinet and robbed the brushes and power cord from it to make one out of the two.

While doing this, I had some time to think about how long it’s been since I started on the T’bird, where it’s at right now, and how much work is yet to be done before I get it finished. Plus, the ’63 Riviera for Kim is calling me, and I want to start in on the ’47 Spartan Manor, and there is an ever growing pile of parts for the ’27 highboy roadster I want to build.

It seems like a long list.

I felt kind of overwhelmed for moment, then I tallied up in my head the other projects I’ve completed during the time the T’bird has been stalled. It goes like this…

1. 1962 Impala hardtop for Craig, a total repaint and minor mechanical stuff.

2. 1936 Ford roadster, total build, from a pile.

3. 1951 Pontiac wagon, total build.

4. 1948 Diamond T pickup, total build.

5. 1946 Spartan Manor, complete restoration.

6. 1954 Tini-Home, frame up build.

7. Painted Craigs ’68 Mustang convertible.

8. Major body work and repaint on a buddy’s ’59 Edsel wagon.

9. ’76 GMC dually pickup, frame off.

10. Del Ray truck camper for the GMC.

11. 2006 Ford Fusion, a total, for a daily driver.

Plus, myriad other homeowner and maintenance projects on the above, vacations, travel, life in general. It’s a long list, and I feel pretty productive when I stop and think about it. The T’bird will get done, the Rivi will get done, and the Spartan will get built.


Gee, that looks tall...

Gee, that looks tall…

Faithful readers will recall that last week I installed the shine new exhaust headers on the 5.3 Vortec after a little creative work with a touch and ball-peen hammer to clear the steering box and right side upper control arm. The engine is now setting on mounts tacked to the frame, the transmission crossmember is done, but before I weld the mounts permanently, I figured I’d better check to make sure the hood would indeed clear the (high mounted) alternator and very tall intake manifold.

I hung the core support and right front fender, and nervously sat the hood down. In order to have it set down all the way, I had to notch the hoods inner support panel over the alternator, and for good measure, I clearanced the alternator bolt boss on the housing about 1/4″ at the front. The result is an easy 1/2″ clearance between the alternator and hood skin. Hurrah!

Now, I can relax a bit, secure that I don’t have to buy a new, low-profile intake manifold and front accessory drive set up. I do have to get an air conditioner compressor mount, but that’s easy. Now I can pull the engine, install the new oil pan with it’s shallower rear sump, clean the frame and weld the mounts in for good.

It feels good to have it working out!

Nip-tuck on the inner panel right over the alternator.

Nip-tuck on the inner panel right over the alternator.

It fits!

It fits!

Really Brian, really?

I won’t rehash the beginning of this story, except to briefly explain this photo.  At left, you’ll see the Pontiac wagon hitched to the car trailer, in a snowy winter scene.   Most guys wouldn’t even pull a car like this out of the garage for picture in weather like this, let alone for a drive to Detroit hauling an enclosed trailer with another car inside, but not me.  No sir, I am not like other guys!

Constant readers will remember that the brakes failed on my aging Chevy pickup, leaving me with two choices.  Either stay home and miss the Autorama at Cobo hall with the ’36 roadster, or get there last Wed. with the only vehicle I have (that I could get out of the garage anyway) that’s capable of towing, our ’51 Pontiac wagon.  I HATED the idea of driving the car in the salt, but I’d been planning on, and looking forward to, participating in the show that I was going to get there regardless.  It was hitch up the wagon, or just set down on a stool in the garage and cry, one or the other, and I’m too big, and too old for that.  I hitched up, after taking the load leveler brackets off the Spartan and headed out.

Finally, after getting lost and ending up in Mexican Town, I rolled into Cobo Hall’s basement.  A quick rinse with a hose washed the travelling crud off the wagon, and it looked surprisingly show worthy.  I had brought a bottle of spray detailer, some towels and other car care stuff, so it wasn’t too big a job.  I have to say it really looked good under the lights.

Thursday morning I was able to detail the roadster, get the spots on the wagon I’d missed the night before, and got my “display” all set up.  Sadly, I couldn’t park the cars next to one another, but it actually worked out better with the wagon where it was.

The wagon ended up with a group of guy’s who’d brought their own 50’s style “living room”, complete with black and white TV, vintage magazines, furniture and a variety of malt beverages.  The TV was  hooked to an inverter and car battery, an MP3 player loaded with vintage cartoons and hot rod movies.  Pretty cool.  Nice bunch of guys, they made me feel welcome.  Thanks Brad and Aaron!

Friday morning, I took some time and went thru the upstairs show, primarily to see this, the “Imperial Speedster”.  A cut down ’59 Chrysler Imperial 4 door sedan.  Amazing, right up my alley.  The down-side is this makes me feel like cutting up another car, when I have several in progress right now!

I took a lot of pictures of this ’64 Riviera, because of the very striking charcoal over bright silver color combination.  This is the color combo I want to put on the ’59 Thunderbird,  I was glad to see a similar car in the colors I want.  I like the color break stripe too, although I think I’ll use dark navy blue and red rather than black and red as seen here.  Beautiful.

I spent all day Saturday in the basement show, talking with people and looking at cars.  Never went upstairs, it was shoulder to shoulder up there.  One of the cars there shocked me when it pulled in, a ’64 Thunderbird that looked VERY familiar…  As it turns out, it was indeed my brother Barry’s old T’Bird, that he and I had driven (lucky us) all the way to Kalamazoo from Manhattan.  As in New York.  Barry’d bought the thing from some slick talking car curbing shyster sight unseen, I’m sure the photos he sent were of another car.  Anyway, this thing had sat 5 years since Barry sold it to the present owner, who decided it was car show material, and had a buddy of his drive it from somewhere in Ohio to Detroit.  With NO BRAKES!  The kid said the emergency brake worked, barely, he thought it was pretty funny.  The car stunk as badly as I remembered from our drive home of rat poop, mildew and oil.  It was displayed with a half-dozen other examples of  cars in a similar state of automotive ruin, looked the Dead End Kids.  Not surprisingly, we saw the car last night in the tunnel under Cobo after the show, hood up, on the shoulder, with the hapless driver and his buddies looking a little concerned.  It was knocking loudly when they pulled out of Cobo, it looked like curtains for the old T’Bird. 

No such problems for us, aside from the fact that as usual I hadn’t bothered to find out when the show actually ended.  Somehow I thought it was all over at 3 pm, but really it ran ’till 8 pm.  This blow was softened somewhat by the fact that we earned a “Major Award”, receiving “Outstanding Wagon” and neat handmade trophy.  That was a surprise and a treat, which took the edge off my bad day on Wednesday getting over to the show.  The wagon was VERY popular with spectators and with other participants alike, so ultimately I wasn’t too disappointed that the truck broke down.  I’m the only guy to ever have gotten a trophy for his tow truck, I’ll bet.

As a treat to myself for the hassle, I had the roadster striped at the show.  I’d always pictured some orange stripes on the car, and the guy who did it was very enthusiastic about putting lines on it.  He helped pick out the right colors, and the results are, I think, the icing on the cake.  Raquel liked it too…

Kim wasn’t as enthusiastic about the striping as Raquel was, but I think she’ll come to like it as much as I do.

The move out went pretty well.  We drove the wagon down to pick up the trailer, then back inside to load the ’36.  That took just long enough to let all the driven cars leave, we were like the fourth of fifth trailer to load inside.  Happily, the ’36 fired right up and it rumbled into the trailer with no worries. 

We drove through some torrential rain, with lightning and thunder, but the Rain-X did a great job.  The car actually looked pretty good this morning, but I took it to the car wash to wash the salt off anyway.  The sun was out, and I’m not planning on any more road trips untill May when the Tin Can Tourist’s meet in Milford at Camp Dearborn.   Note to self:  fix massive leak at windshield wiper towers and trim, and put electric wipers in the car!