Archive for the ‘Diamond T truck’ Category

ouchI’m not sure if, 2 days after shoulder surgery, I would have been advised to go on a weekend camping trip, but since I had my cooling wrap, a full bottle of “Aleve”, Kim kept me well hydrated with sodas and non alcoholic G&T’s, and my reclining lawn chair, that’s what we did.

We went to Muskegon, MI, to the Hoffmaster State Park to a vintage trailer gathering, pulling the Spartan with the Diamond T.  It was well attended, with perhaps 85 vintage campers.  Everything from Airstreams to Spartans, with what seemed like more Shastas than I’ve seen in one place.  It was fun.

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The Spartan and truck were a big hit during Saturdays open house.  We’d intended to count the number of visitors through the trailer, but quickly decided it wasn’t going to be practical.  According to the event host, Brandon Morrison (from whom we had just bought the Del-Ray camper), the park rangers said 500 cars visited for the open  house.  That seems about right.

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It was a fun weekend, if a little cool by the lakeshore.  A welcome change from this weekend last year, when it was over 100 degrees and humid.

Were gearing up for our cross-country jaunt the end of this month on the Lincoln Highway with the Tin Can Tourists, to Kearny (pronounced “Carney”) Nebraska, we can only hope the cool weather continues into July in the entire Midwest!

DSC04853 (1024x768)Every lady likes a sexy new pair of shoes, right?  This one is no different, even if they are a decidedly un-ladylike size 17.   She was wearing a set of hand-me-down Michelon 24575R17’s, and while they had lots of tread life left, they were 6 years old, and kind of wrinkly, run down at the heel, and needing some polish.

A while back, I scored a set of brand new, never mounted BF Goodrich in the same size, load range E, at a yard sale for $200.  Not only was this a complete set, but it was a complete set of 5!  Figuring that was roughly the cost of one tire, I snapped them up, and they’ve been waiting for this moment to be tried on.

Like Cinderella’s slipper, it was a perfect fit, and the princess is now set free!

I was a little uncertain I’d like the rather aggressive tread, more like a work boot sole than a sexy pair of Jimmy Choo’s, but the old girl wears them well.  They look aggressive but not intimidating.  Sort of, “Take me home, big fella, and if you’re lucky, I’ll leave my shoes on”, kind of thing.

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Since I had 5 tires, I made a call to our local wrecking yard, “Go Go Auto Parts”, and scored a matching Dodge 3/4 ton wheel in a polished finish, and had the extra tire mounted up on that.  The beautiful part of this is, that while it’s a hassle to carry a spare in the bed when traveling, the Spartan has the same wheels.  So, one spare fits all.

And, I have to say, it looks pretty bitch’n in the box.

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So, the lady is now completely dressed, and ready for the dance.

Wanna Rumba, anyone?

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This is the LAST time.  I mean it.  5 years ago we towed our ’48 Manor to Milford behind the (then new) ’51 Pontiac wagon, which had previously only been to the muffler shop, and brake shop to repair the seized up right front brake caliper.

On Thursday, we hitched the ’46 Spartan to the Diamond T, and once again headed out into the great wide open.   True, we’d towed the little “Tini-Home” canned ham trailer to Pinckney a week ago, but that hardly counted.  The truck had less than 300 miles on it, had spent the previous three weeks in body rehab and the shop (once again, my friend Ron Penny’s shop, who always seems to be able to bail me out) to make it actually run, before we hitched a 25 foot long travel trailer to it and  hit the road.

No more last-minute, down to the wire thrashing.

It performed flawlessly.  Effortlessly towing the trailer at traffic speed, and delivering, as near as I can figure, almost 16 mpg with the trailer on the hitch.

Confident of my inability fix anything that might possibly to wrong, I packed only a spare tire and lug wrench, figuring anything that happened I couldn’t fix with those things would need a roll-back, we headed out on Thursday afternoon, cell phone in my pocket and credit card in my wallet.

Which I left home in my work pants back pocket…

My eye was glued to the temp gauge, and ear to non-existent noises that would bring us to a grinding, screeching, halt, but none of the above happened.  The truck performed exactly as it should, keeping up with traffic, immune to cross-winds, bow-wake from passing semi tractor trailers, garnering “thumbs-up” from passing cars and delivering us to Milford without a single hiccup.

The truck was a big  hit at the TCT gathering, and at the Bakers Restaurant “Cruise-In” on Sunday.  Several people asked me if it had been “…some sort of fire truck…”, and more than one person asked “What did people do with them?”

Really?  What do people do with pick-up trucks nowadays?

I’m still basking the afterglow, ears ringing a little from the (glorious) exhaust note, but had to share a little of the weekend.


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DSC04642 (1024x768)It may be big, but it sure is ugly!  Actually, I kinda, OK, I REALLY like the ’62 Del-Ray we bought from fellow TCT member Brandon.  He was kind enough to deliver it for fuel money this morning, and I was happily surprised to see the camper looks better in person than the pictures he had of it.

While it’s not the “Sky-Lounger” model, it’s still pretty tall, as the picture shows.  The front overhang has the cool panoramic windows, similar to our Spartans, which is what I like about it.  And, it’s pretty “Over the Top” in a funky, early ’60’s way.

It’s what Don Draper would go camping in, if Don Draper camped,  and there were an ample supply of Crown Royal.

We tucked in my Dad’s shop, setting on 55 gallon drums and the three jacks, until I can make some jack extensions that’ll allow me to get the GMC dually under it, then, we’re going camping somewhere!  The interior is all birch in very nice shape, the original dinette cushions are intact and useable, although the mattress in the bunk needs replaced.

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In other news, the Diamond T is all gassed up, bikes in the back, and ready to roll to Milford, Spartan in tow.  I polished some of the paint on the truck yesterday where I’d hung a curtain in the clear, and the back of the cab where the clear was orange peel-y.  It looks better.

The bikes fit the mounts very well, and the spare tire (fits truck and trailer) lays on the bed floor under them.  Plenty of room.

I filled the cab’s hide-em strip at the roof with some taupe vinyl which matches the interior this morning.  I had gotten used to seeing the open seam, with screw heads showing, and sort looked past it, but it looks MUCH better now.  I can’t think of anything else I have time to do except pack my bag, and we’re off!

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I will be ready for a G & T when we get to Milford, the official TCT beverage!



DSC04528 (1024x768)Just got off the phone with my friend Ron Penny (who is now my BEST friend!), and the truck will be done by noon!  Turns out, it had a completely dead 02 sensor, on the right side, and, surprise, I’d missed plugging in an important something or other in the wiring harness when I built the harness.

Imagine that, roughly 200 little plugs, on a harness I built from 2 junk yard harness’ and I miss one…

“How big a shoehorn did you use to get that thing in there?”, he asked, “That thing is PACKED.  You did a REALLY nice job with that build.”

Coming from Ron, a guy who’s a very accomplished builder, on a pro level, and someone I’ve known for 30 years, that’s a real compliment.  Made me feel pretty good!

So, I’m heading in after lunch to pick it up, I’m excited to drive it, and plan on a “Debut” at the Gilmore Cruise night tomorrow with the truck and a VERY shiny Spartan trailer behind it.

DSC04537 (1024x768)Step 1.  Open your checkbook and hire someone else to do it for you.  Since I don’t have an extra $4,000 lying around, and I find myself with an extra couple of days worth of time, I’m once again tackling it myself.

It’s actually not bad, since it’s been polished three times prior to this.  It’s been two years on the last polish, and while it looks pretty good, it does look better with a quick polish.  You can see where I quit (from exhaustion) just aft of the rear wheel, where the swirl marks end.

Since 10:30 this morning I’ve done the entire street side, front below the windows, and the curb side to here.  Have yet to do the back panels and the front cap.  I’m not touching anything above the drip rail or below the side rub rail.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up the side and back-end, then I have to rub those areas down with a towel sprinkled with flour, the best thing I’ve found to get the polish residue off, and then hand polish with Nuvite “Nu-Shine” final glaze.  Those two steps get rid of 90% of the swirl marks, and I can live with that.  It doesn’t have to perfect to be fun.

DSC04523 (1024x768)“Shouldn’t” you be working on the truck, now that it’s all fixed?”, you ask?

The answer to that is that I’ve exhausted my limited diagnostic skills, even with the new scan tool I bought.  I’ve replaced the MAF sensor, the plug wires, the fuel pump, the 02 sensors, cleaned the plugs, replaced 4 of them, and it still runs ragged, fussed, fuddled and worried myself sick, with no real improvement.  I give up.

This morning I drove it in to Kalamazoo to my friend Ron Penny’s shop, “Woodward’s Garage”, and left it there for them to fix whatever boneheaded thing I’ve overlooked or screwed up.  Actually, it didn’t run too badly, but following me Kim said it was occasionally puffing black smoke from the right hand side, and it was missing.  Which explains why I can actually watch the needle on the gas gauge going down…

So, it’s been left overnight in Intensive Care, while the trailer goes into rehab here in the driveway.  The Big Brown Truck delivered a shiny new bumper and the hood corner rubbers today, so when Ron is finished making it run, I can put that stuff back on.

Time for a beer.

DSC04508 (1024x768)It’s the Mummy!  No, wait, it’s the Invisible Truck!, No, wait, it’s just the Diamond T swaddled in masking paper to repaint the damage caused by the Lokar neutral safety switch!

After a VERY frustrating morning getting a quart of color (the body shop supply place who mixed the original paint is out of business, nobody now carries that line of paint, the code on the can wasn’t cross-referenced in ANYBODY’S chart, requiring me to go home, pull the tailgate, and have it scanned for color), but I finally started painting about 1:30.

It went really well, or at least, until I got to the clear, when I hung a curtain in the fender.  It’s OK, I laid plenty of clear on top so I’ll be able to sand it out and  buff it (That’ll buff right out…), but otherwise everything looks great.   Perfect match on the color, which, if I’d had the GM truck code I think it’s a 2005-6 color, probably wouldn’t have matched, as the color as scanned met NO existing formula.  I got it now though.

I spoke with the good folks at Hagerty between coats, and a check is in the mail for the damage.  I’m VERY happy with that, and while I’d rather have not had to have done all this extra work, at least it’s covered.

So, Thursday I hope to get it all put back together, and we’ll start driving it.  I can also sand and polish the fender, and get started on the rest.  It’s all going to be OK.

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DSC04500 (1024x768)Whew.  The bodywork is DONE, and the damaged front fender, grill shell, and passenger door are ready for paint.  I spent all day blocking, wet sanding, blocking, and wet sanding some more, I think the parts are perfect.  Again.

The truck is back in the shop with the front fender off, the entire truck is (almost) all masked off, there’s about an hours worth of masking to finish before I can paint.  I’ll have to get a quart of color, there’s lots of clear-coat, so I think I can get it all in color again tomorrow, if the weather cooperates.  If not, it’ll wait until it’s warm enough.


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The passenger door will get painted from the green belt line down.  This is an easy way to mask, I won’t have to try to blend the paint, and the little dip in the character line will be a good place to hide the tape break in the clear coat.  It’ll be fine.  This door had some sanding scratches anyway, and I had thought I’d repaint it later this summer anyway.  No time like the present.



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Likewise, the back of the cab had a flaw at the lower left corner of the window opening, this was where I’d welded the tab in the cab to hold the back of the seat.  It made  little dimple that looked bad.  Add to that a deep scratch, through the clear down to the primer when I installed the rear glass, and that panel looked bad.  Again, the green belt line is a good place to stop painting.  On the sides, where I stopped sanding, are the joints where the cab sections are joined, these make a natural place to break the paint as well, so again, no blending.

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Both of the fender trims for the bumper brackets were damaged when the brackets folded over, these got fixed, and I welded new studs on the right hand one as two of them had broken off when I took the panel off.

I bought a new 02 sensor for the left side, as that side was running rich, and the engine had a weird “stumble”.  That was easy to install,  it runs noticeably better now.  While the right fender was off, it was easy to put a new thermostat in and refill the cooling system as well, a difficult job with the fender on.  I also put the heat shield on one of the new spark plug wires that I’d missed.  Those are almost impossible to access with the fender on, so it was a good time to do that too.

So, a weeks worth of work, and I’m almost back where I started.  I haven’t heard yet from Hagerty, but I’m forging ahead.  Tomorrow I’ll order the new bumper, and get that on the way.  Hopefully be able to put some miles on it in the next couple weeks to make sure all is well, then it’s ROAD TRIP!

DSC04498 (1024x768)This is depressing to me too, but I’m trying to stay positive about it.  The truck is in primer, including the mangled front fender.  Hopefully by the end of tomorrow, I’ll have all the primer blocked out, and everything ready for color.  Or, blocked out and ready for another several coats of primer.

I found some spots today on the front fender that weren’t up to snuff, and took care of those.  It hurt to sand the passenger door down fix the (tiny) ding where the wood stove handle hit it, but I did it.  The back of the cab had a  flaw that bugged me, and I’d put a deep scratch in the paint installing the rear window, so that got repaired as well.  The tailgate has some sanding scratches, and there’s a little work that should be done on the hood, but those things can wait until I have more time.  I REALLY want to get it done to go to the TCT event the end of May, and the little stuff can wait until after that.

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I have lot’s of block sanding and prep to do before it’s ready for color, and I doubt I’ll get it all sanded and polished, but I at least want to get the crash repair done, and MOSTLY in color before we head out.  Right after that I’m having my shoulder injury repaired and I’ll be out of commission for a time, but the important stuff I want to get done before that.

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We’d planned on going to the Michigan Modernism Expo tomorrow, but I’m going to have to beg off, stay home and work on the truck.   There are LOTS of things I’d rather be doing right now, but this is taking top priority.  No word yet from Hagerty on the exact amount they’re going to allow for the repair, and not surprisingly,  no response from Lokar, who’s shifter and faulty neutral safety switch caused all this mess.  Oh well, I’m going to soldier on and get it done and worry about the insurance settlement later.

DSC04482 (1024x768)This is progress?  In a word, yes.  The fender had to come off, both to finish the metalwork, and to then to spread and sand the filler.  Not only would there been a (very good) chance of putting some scratches in the cowl and grill shell with the coarse sandpaper, but I’m too old to sand a fender standing on my head.

Yesterday I bought some high-end filler, and I have to say that the difference is amazing, both in the ease with it spreads, but the way it sands.  It’s very easy to work, and saves MUCH time.  I’ve always bought inexpensive “light-weight” plastic filler, which costs about $20 a gallon.  This stuff is over forty dollars a gallon, but the difference is amazing.  And, because it works easily,  I think I used less to get the fender and grill shell damage finished.  Of course, if I was better at metalwork, I’d spend even less, but I’m getting there.


DSC04484 (1024x768)DSC04485 (1024x768)I also bought some 80 and 120 grit long board paper on a roll, that’s adhesive backed.  It lasts MUCH longer than the stuff I’ve been using, and again saved my hours of labor getting the fender finished.  I now have enough paper to last for a lifetime at the rate I’m going.  I have the T’Bird to finish up, and Craig’s Mustang to refinish, so I’m sure I’ll use some of it on those projects.  Then, who knows?

DSC04486 (1024x768)So, I’m almost ready to shoot primer.  That will have to wait for the weekend, but I think I can get it done if the weather cooperates.  I was a bit apprehensive about how I’d do blocking out the filler, with my shoulder hurting as it does, but it went OK.  I’m having a torn biceps tendon repair in a month, and this has to be done before that, and the TCT Rally in Milford in May.  Then, two weeks of R&R, and it’s off on the Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour with the truck and the Spartan.

Gotta get busy!