Archive for the ‘Diamond T truck’ Category

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A friend who lives in California emailed me the other day, inquiring whether I was OK, as he hadn’t heard from me, and hadn’t posted anything here for a while.  I assured him I’m doing fine, in fact, busier than ever, adding to the already crowded project list.  More on that in a bit.

The big news of this past summer is that Kim and I sold our ’48 Pontiac convertible.  This car has been a part of our family since 1974, before we got married.  In fact, Kim was opposed to my buying it, since we were  both in college, and a wedding was on the horizon.  Of course, I bought it anyway.

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Since getting the Diamond T finished, we haven’t been driving the car, it’s been setting in the garage, sort of covered, for three years.  It’s not that we didn’t like it, but I thought it needed some changes, and having built the car three times in over 40 years, I wasn’t enthused about the thought of rebuilding it again.  Our friends Brandon and Liz, fellow Tin Can Tourists members, learned we had the car, and after some conversation and couple of visits, we agreed to sell it to them.  I put a new battery in it, dusted it off, had a sticking front brake caliper replaced, and the car left our driveway with someone else behind the wheel for the first time in 41 years.  They’ve been busy putting their own personal stamp on it, enjoying using it to pull their vintage Trotwood trailer.  We’re happy to see the car being used and loved, not slowly going to seed in the garage.

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Of course, the empty space in the garage, and the sudden positive balance in the checking account was not destined to last very long.  I’d been talking about building a ’27 Highboy roadster for several years, and began now to look for a body and frame.  I talked to several friends, looked again at the beautiful little black ’27, the Frank Mack car, at the Gilmore Museum, and decided a ’27 wasn’t going to work for me in my old age.  I’d seen a ’31 on ’32 rails this summer, and thought maybe a Brookville body on ’32 rails would do, and started adding up the bits.  The totals soon added to more than I’d gotten for the convert, and was getting a little discouraged, when I saw an ad on the HAMB classifieds for a ’34 roadster, pretty complete minus the engine and transmission.  I called the owner, we had a good conversation, I told him I’d get back with him.

Discussing it with Kim, her concern was that I’d suddenly switched gears from the ’27 she’d been hearing (incessantly) about, to this new idea, a bigger, heavier, open car.  I assured her it’d be more suitable for us at this stage in our lives (the stage of needing to be relatively comfortable).  She gave a green light, I called the guy in Connecticut, Bill, back, we made a deal and two days later, by dad Rex, 91 years old, and I were in the Diamond T with the trailer tagging along, on the way to get a roadster.

We drove the 802 miles in one day, leaving at 6 am, arriving at Bill’s house at 10 pm.  Steady construction although Pennsylvania and New York slowed us, but we had no trouble at all.  The next morning we looked over the parts and pieces of the disassembled car, and I was happy with what I saw.  It had been a finished car in the 70’s and 80’s, running a blown flathead, and was featured in Street Rodder magazine in ’83.  Of course I have this issue, and even remembered the feature once I saw the car.  Now wearing a quickie coat of black swap-meet primer over the original burgundy paint, it still has the original lettering “Flying Flathead” on the tail pan.  IMG_6952

imageIncluded in the pile of parts are the original top and upholstery.  The flathead and original chassis are long missing, the cars builder had decided he wanted a coupe, and pulled the glass body, an early Gibbons body I think, and sold it.  Bill had bought it after it changed hands a couple of times, built a new frame, accumulated all the chassis parts to make it a roller, and for some reason, perhaps because like me has three other projects going already, offered it for sale.

Dad and I took two days to drive home after loading (almost) all the parts into the enclosed trailer.  We stopped halfway in Pennsylvania, and headed out early the next day, getting home at 2:30.  I was a little worried about the long drive in the cramped cab of the truck, but dad enjoyed the drive, and even though he’s never been a “car guy” seems enthusiastic and supportive of the project.  He remembers ’34 Fords as being sporty looking cars of his youth, so that may be part of it.

imageTwo weeks later, I haven’t yet unloaded, or even fully inventoried what all I have, mainly because I know if I get it out of the trailer, I’ll be drawn to work on it rather than the T’bird and the Spartan trailer, so, it’s still in the trailer.  I’m excited though, and have located a 700R transmission for the (tired) 350 Chevy I have in the garage, decorated with vintage Cal Custom finned aluminum valve covers and an Offy dual quad intake with two new Edelbrock carbs.  Aside from wiring, I have, I think, everything I need to put the car together.  The dropped front axle we’d left under Bill’s bench, I remembered it in the middle of the night on the way home, he shipped to me.  We’d kicked it out of the way rolling the body and chassis out.

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In other news, I’ve started stripping the interior of the ’47 Spartan Manor in the back yard.  From Brandon and Liz we have some vintage 9×9 floor tiles in a nice gray/green, and some black and red to sprinkle in at random.  I want to get the floor repaired, there a couple of soft spots under windows in the rear, and flooring down before cold weather.  Once the floor is in, and the new front windows in, the trailer becomes its own workshop, and the goal is to have the wiring, plumbing, walls and cabinetry in by spring.  Once that’s done, finishing the interior and polishing can be done by next summers camping season.

We had the boat out this summer, and found its leaking so badly that the pumps can no longer keep up.  In fact, in a two-day period in the water without being used, the battery had run down and it wouldn’t start.  Underway, the rear pump was overwhelmed, and water filled the bilge to the floor.  The problem turns out to be a loose rudder post, due to decades of over tightening the bolts and pulling them into the wood, and a bad chine plank, which I’d short planked 26 years ago.  It’s so soft I could push my finger through it (I could, but didn’t).  So, it needs to have a new bottom, which is going to have to wait until other things get done.IMG_6951

Speaking of getting things done, I finally have primer on the Thunderbird.  I had planned on having it in color by now, but summer came and went working on the car at all.  It really looks good all one color, even grey primer, and I’m enthused again.  Now the tedious job of block sanding, re-priming, blocking, guide coating, re-priming before color goes on.  And, what colors to pick?  We’ll see, we’ll see…eblackdesign_1_13 IMG_6953 IMG_6954Kim’s Riviera may be on hiatus, but we have big plans for it as too, so, keep checking in, and keep reminding me to keep up with the blog so you’ll know I’m OK!

Kim approves the proposed color for her Riviera!

Kim approves the proposed color for her Riviera!

My wife Kim and I visited the Gilmore Car Museum (practically in our backyard) last week, where I showed her their beautiful original ’63 Riv, in the light silver blue I’d envisioned our (OK, HER) own Riviera, and she approved.  Now, the push is on to get both it, and the ’59 T’bird done and ready for paint when the weather warms up.

To that end, I made a trip to the nearby village of Plainwell, where there’s a Do-It-Yourself media blast business.  For 20 bucks, I blasted all the front suspension bits, brought them home and got them painted.  I made a rather ingenious (I think) paint rack of two step ladders and my extension ladder, to hang parts from, it worked very well.

While the paint, rattle can enamel from Tractor Supply, dried, I pulled the front bumper off the T’bird, tack welded a small tear in the seam where the left front fender meets the filler panel between hood and bumper, hammer and dollied a few little ripples in that panel where it meets the bumper, and got a thin coat of reinforced filler on the panel.  Tomorrow, I’ll finish that, do the final work on the front bumper, the quarter panels behind the wheel wells, and the body work on that will be DONE!  Feels good.

Primed.

Primed.

Glossy black!

Glossy black!

We also made a decision about our fleet of cars, we’re going to thin the herd.  It’s tough to part with anything (and of course it’s not sold yet), but we’re going to try to sell the Diamond T 201.  I want to rehab the ’48 Pontiac convert (seen in the above photos) that’s been languishing in the garage too long, set aside from money for our rapidly approaching retirement, and finance my planned ’27 Ford roadster project.  We’ll see what happens…

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

The original "Cool McCool"

The original “Cool McCool”

Let me start by saying that I’m a sucker for a bargain, so when my friend Butch said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that old motor home, I can’t even give it away for scrap.”, he got my attention. When he elaborated, and said it was on a GMC chassis, had only fourteen thousand miles on the clock, had a 454, and would give it away if someone (me) would get it out of his yard, where it had sat, unused and not driven, for 12 years, he reeled me in.

With my dad riding shotgun, and to follow me home, I went to Butch’s place with a battery and little expectation that it would fire up and run. I figured it wouldn’t start, that the 454 was probably seized, or there was so much damage from the tree he said had fallen on it, that it wouldn’t be worth the effort (of course it wasn’t, but I didn’t see that then!).

To my complete amazement, when we hooked up the battery, it turned over about 5 times and fired right up. Of course with the 12-year-old gas in it didn’t run GOOD, but it ran well enough move under its own power, the trans shifted gear, and it rolled forward and back, on three flat tires no less. The tree that had come down in it during an ice storm last winter had poked a small hole in the fiberglass body over the windshield, and cracked the driver’s side of the huge windshield. True, there was a serious leak even though Butch had tried to patch it up as best he could, but there was a dish pan on the sofa to catch the drip that was overflowing, the cabinets over the sofa were already rotted, and there were mushrooms growing in the carpeting. It smelled like homemade sin, mice and squirrels had moved in, filling drawers and cabinets with walnuts and smelly nests of insulation. Black mold clouded the fabric ceiling, and water dripped from places suspiciously far from the damaged on the roof.

We have a ’47 Spartan Manor trailer project in the wings, and while the motor home was a mess, it was FILLED with stuff we could (I thought) use. A nice 8 cubic foot RV fridge that fired right up on propane, a 3 burner stove and oven, microwave, two roof air conditioners, water and waste tanks, lighting fixtures, and beautiful walnut raised panel cabinets that I thought I could re-purpose and put in my enclosed car trailer, which needs storage. Not to mention the 454 which rumbled to life so quickly after its long slumber, belching skunky exhaust, popping and farting trying to run on varnished fuel.

I headed for home with it, actually excited, head full of dreams and all the fun it would be tearing into it. I’ve always used complete cars or trucks for donor vehicles for hot rods, and this would be just a little bigger, but with more useable stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

The first thing to wrong was that only one of the A/C units worked. No big deal, we only need one. The second, and what has really killed this thing was that the fiberglass and foam body was, and is, not recyclable, and not easy nor cheap to dispose of. Kim decreed that she doesn’t want modern looking appliances, we don’t need a big microwave/convection oven, and the fridge, which did work on propane, didn’t on the electric side, and was deemed by an RV fridge service guy, who fixed the faulty relay and got it working fine for only $40, to be leaking ammonia, and fixing it would cost as much as a new fridge.

Rats.

In addition, in my excitement to find a use for the 454, which runs really well on fresh gas, I initially thought I’d build a cool COE transport truck, based on our friend Diana’s awesome ’39 Diamond T 509 she had built to haul her restored orchard tractors to shows. Kim was against this idea, despite her going with me to see the Diamond T COE cab I found, and while I discounted her lack of enthusiasm, when all my hot rodder pals said they thought it was a dumb idea (“But Brian, what are you gonna DO with it?”, was the universal response), I eventually gave up on that plan, and conceived good plan (or, Bad Idea #2) to put the 454 to good use. I bought not one, but two ’63 Buick Rivera’s, to have one be a home for the engine. My plan was to sell one immediately to recoup the purchase price, then drop the 454 between the frame rails, get it running and driving, and sell it as a “rat” semi-custom, and let the happy new owner do the cosmetics, or not.

Bare naked lady.

Bare naked lady.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for it's new heart.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Anybody see a problem here?

So here we are. It’s mid October, there’s a Riviera project car that Kim is actually enthused about, and wants as her own. Great, except we all know a late 80’s carb’d 454 in today’s world is a poor choice for economy or power, so I spent all the money I got for the 2nd Riviera on an LS 5.3 and 4L60E to put in Kim’s car. Since we’re keeping it, that means bodywork, paint, interior, and having it nice, with A/C, cruise, all the stuff that makes a car comfortable to drive, and expensive to build. Sigh…

The Rivieras new power plant!  5.3 LS and 4L60.

The Rivera’s new power plant! 5.3 LS and 4L60.

The motor home chassis is STILL here, I haven’t been enthused enough about tearing into it to get the engine out. I did move it yesterday from the side yard (where everyone driving down our busy rural road could see it, and probably soon start complaining to the township), to the front of the garage where I’m slowly getting ready to disembowel it. I salvaged a couple hundred feet of stranded 12 and 14 gauge wire for future projects, miles of black plastic wire loom, and whatever else I could.

I’m going to drive it over to my dad’s shop this morning, 34 feet of bare chassis and motor home floor, and pull the engine there (it’s too wide to nose into my shop and use my cherry picker) with the overhead crane. Then, I’ll drag the chassis to the metal recycler, where all that cool stuff that would make a killer ramp truck (hydraulic level system, air bag suspension, A/C that still blows cold, cruise that works, 19.5 wheels and tires etc) and recoup a little for the labor involved. The body I’m cutting up into little pieces and putting in our garbage can a few at a time, we’re about a third of the way to getting rid of all of it, and the walnut cabinetry, which turned out to be not useable either, is on the brush pile.   At least we’ll get an evening’s entertainment later this fall on a chilly night as a bonfire.

The 454 a buddy wants for his ’55 Chevy gasser project, and is going to swap a set of beautiful 15″ Dayton knock-off wire wheels and tires for it, which of course means I will have to build a car around them.  They will be perfect for the car I’ve been planning and building in my head for a while, a ’27 highboy roadster, track style, dropped floor, fenderless, track nosed.  At least with the 454 gone, I’ll be forced to use a sensible engine for that!

Maybe something like this?

Maybe something like this?

In my youth, I’m sure I’d still be enthused about the entire deal, and it has been sort of fun, although I admit the amount of work was, and still is, sort of daunting. Now, my 60th birthday is right around the corner, and it’s a bit more difficult to keep the enthusiasm up, even though we’ll come out OK, and have a really cool Riviera for Kim to park beside my chopped T’bird (OK, two if count the ’27 highboy modified style roadster those Dayton’s are the foundation for…).

It never ends!

The crew here at Cool McCool’s Garage has had a VERY busy October, but we haven’t gotten anything done on either the Riviera or the T’bird. Instead, we’ve been camping, soaking up art in Grand Rapids at “Art Prize”, and took a trip to Las Vegas to visit our son Craig and his family. He and Kathleen recently got engaged, and we are excited to have our family grow!

While we were with Craig and his family, we drove to Burbank California, and visited our niece Meghan and her husband Ron, and got to meet their daughter Maren. She’s beautiful, and we got to hold a baby! As luck would have it, their home is only a mile from two great hot rod shops, “Hollywood Hot Rods”, and “Old Crow Speed”, so Craig and I took a few minutes and got great tours at both shops. Sadly, for me anyway, the ’59 T’bird under construction at Hollywood Hot Rods, inspired by the same artwork by Eric Black that got me to chop the top and cut up the quarter panels on mine, was out for paint, so I didn’t get to see that.

We’re back home, and today got some long overdue fall household maintenance chores taken care of, and I fired up the motor home chassis, pulled it around to the garage and stripped it of some wiring and am going to (finally) pull the 454 and Turbo 400 tomorrow at the shop at my dad’s place. It’ll be good to have that thing gone, I’m planning scrapping the chassis to help generate some cash to replenish the Hot Rod Fund, which was depleted with the purchase of the 5.3 LS motor and 4L60E trans we just picked up for the ’63 Riviera.

There are plenty of warm sunny days ahead (I hope) this fall before snow flies and the woodshed is full, so we’re ready now to get back at the T’bird, get started on the Riviera, and keep busy during the winter months. It’s gonna be a busy winter!

Stay tuned!

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

 

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

 

I picked up this hot chick!

I picked up this hot chick!

 

My favorite from "Art Prize"

My favorite from “Art Prize”

 

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

 

Hot Rod heaven.

Hot Rod heaven.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City,  a favorite of ours when we're out there.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City, a favorite of ours when we’re out there.

 

Old Crow belly tanker.  These guys have the coolest stuff...

Old Crow belly tanker. These guys have the coolest stuff…

Our beautiful great niece, Maren.

Our beautiful great-niece, Maren.

 

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty's Center in Hollywood.

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty’s Center in Hollywood.

 

The Rivieras new power plant!  5.3 LS and 4L60.

The Rivera’s new power plant! 5.3 LS and 4L60.

 

The Riviera, patiently waiting for it's new heart.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Dear readers,

A longtime follower of “Cool McCool’s Garage” recently posted a comment here, which consisted solely of a link to her Craigslist ad for her vintage trailer.

I am all for entrepreneurship, free enterprise, the American way, and flattered that this person believes our blog is widely read enough to help sell her trailer, but…

My blog is my “Happy Place”, not a place to link ads, post stuff for sale, or try make a buck. If it were, I would be doing it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled nonsense….

Oh no, not THEM again!

Oh no, not THEM again!

 

Last Thursday, the staff at Cool McCool’s Garage managed to leave work early and head out to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners for the “Red Barns Spectacular” show, held on Saturday.  Since we here at the shop are getting older, we need a couple of days to gear up, then a day or two to wind down from event, so we wanted to get a head start on the weekends activities.

 

We’d moved the Spartan in on Wednesday evening after the cruise in at the museum,  had the awning up  and fridge plugged in.  Anxious to begin a weekend of  festivities, we quickly made the first round of cocktails, and watched our friends Jay and Angie, then Butch and Pam roll in and get set up.  As  you can see by the photos, a bad day camping is better than a good day at work…

Let's race...

Let’s race…

This is more like it...

This is more like it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay had been working hard all week preparing his Tiki-Bar, and the results were not disappointing.  The smoking Tiki heads set the mood for the entire weekend.  Now, where’s the TCT Fun Punch?

The Gods have spoken!

The Gods have spoken!

Belly up to the bar!

Belly up to the bar!

In the morning after aspirin and caffeine, Friday was all about kicking back, catching up with friends, and watching the campers roll in.  The grounds are perfect for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or just relaxing and catching up with friends.  By evening, there were 25 rigs under the trees, the grills were fired up, the Tiki-bar was smoking, beverages flowed and the party started.

JaKe and Tami's '53 Chev BelAire and Scotty.

JaKe and Tami’s ’53 Chev BelAire and Scotty.

The crowd gets bigger!

The crowd gets bigger!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning Jake and Tami introduced us all to turkey cooker omelets, which was such a hit that we’re all going out this week and getting our own turkey fryers.  (We actually have one, but it was lent out and never came home, so a new one is on the “must have” list!)  After breakfast, the days activities were prowling the swap meet for that much-needed item, checking out each others campers, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.  Over 2,000 cars, and thousands of spectators made the grounds a busy place.

 

Fixing our omelet.

Fixing our omelet.

 

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

 

Boil 13 minutes and eat!

Boil 13 minutes and eat!

Breakfast is ready!

Breakfast is ready!

After breakfast, time to check out all the trailers and cars…

 

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Longroof alley.

Longroof alley.

 

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Beautiful GMC coach, owned a totol of 4 hours!  On it's maiden voyage with it's new owners from Traverse City, to Gilmore, then back to Wisconsin on the Badger.

Beautiful GMC coach, owned a total of 4 hours! On its maiden voyage with its new owners from Traverse City, to Gilmore, then back to Wisconsin on the Badger.

 

This only gets 30 mpg.  Cross country trip, anyone?

This only gets 30 mpg. Cross country trip, anyone?

 

 

 

 

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Tini-Home,  big fun.

Tini-Home, big fun.

 

After a long day in the sun, once again the Tiki-bar was put into action, and the good times rolled.  We had a chance to play a little harp with Butch’s brother-in-law, a very talented musician whose guitar work more than made up for our lack of skill on the harp…

 

More cowbell...

More cowbell…

 

Sunday morning another omelet festival, and it was time to pack up and make the long journey back home.  If it were any further than 2 miles, I think we’d still be there recovering.   Jay and Angie left their  Airstream at our place, and will be back in two weeks for the “Relix Riot” show at the museum, so we’re baby-sitting for them.  I just plugged our Spartan in the yard, turned the fridge back on and collapsed.  Hopefully I can rest up enough at work to be ready for the Riot, and get the trailer re-loaded for the next high-octane weekend!

 

Angie gets her omelet on.

Angie gets her omelet on.

Breaking camp.

Breaking camp.

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

Rolling past the new Lincoln museum.

Rolling past the new Lincoln museum.

The Cadillac building, as seen through the Cadillac of trucks windshield.

The Cadillac building, as seen through the Cadillac of trucks windshield.

 

So, that’s it for now.  In two weeks it’s the Relix Riot, we hope to get the Riviera’s home by then (have I mentioned the two ’63 Riv’s soon to arrive at Cool McCool’s Garage?), the motor home still needs to get dismantled, so there are lots going here.   Stay tuned for more updates, and news as it happens!

 

 

 

 

That's a good look'n man.

That’s a good look’n man.

Sometimes here at Cool McCool’s Garage, we go through the archives for interesting artifacts to share.  This weeks find are long-lost photos of my grand-dad, Amos McCool, decked in Soo Woolen hunting garb, with his pride and joy, a ’48 Diamond T pickup.  Every self-respecting country squire needs a stylish set of wheels, right?

From Kalkaska MI, where big snow is a given every winter, these must have been some exceptionally big banks.  Let’s take a look back in McCool history…

The bank must have harder to climb than he thought...

The bank must have harder to climb than he thought…

There, made it.

There, made it.

Smile, Amos.

Smile, Amos.