Archive for the ‘Ford Roadsters’ Category

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It’s always good to lead with a pun, right?  The past month has been a whirlwind of activity, and life has gotten in the way, but finally I think I’m through the stress and have gotten back on the “fun” stuff.

The wagon, which you’ll remember I’d gotten the rust repairs done over a month ago, has been stalled.  We missed my (seemingly easy) deadline of having it ready for the Milford TCT Spring Rally (vintage trailer gathering), and the Muskegon rally last weekend, but today I finally got primer on it.  I’d thought I’d be shooting primer Monday, but found a soft spot on the drivers front fender, down low, behind the rocker molding,  made a patch for that, got the body work finished this morning and 4 double wet coats of high-build primer on this afternoon.

I’m happy with how it looks, although I discovered some pinholes in the filler on both sides, something I’ve never had happen before.  I bought high end, expensive finish filler, so maybe I’m better with the cheap stuff!  It’ll mean a skim coat of some polyester finish putty, but I have to block it all out, prime again, and then a guide coat, so it’s really no big deal.

I think the skirts are killer.

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In other news, we’ve given up on the  period correct Frigidaire fridge in the Spartan trailer, it just doesn’t get cold and stay cold.  We had it converted to propane, and it’s never done a good job.  Well, it’s cold as long as the ambient temps are below 70, but seldom can we rely on that in the midwest in summer, so, it’s going away.  In it’s place, will go an early 50’s GE fridge, that we’ll keep electric only, with it’s original compressor.  I bought it here in Kalamazoo from a nice hot rodder guy who follows me on Instagram.  Plugged it in when we unloaded it and in 2 hours the cabinet temp was 20.5!  I had it cranked WAY up, so I dialed the thermostat down, and it’s humming along a 34 right now.

New gaskets are on the way for the door, and I’ll fix some minor damage to the door tomorrow and get it ready for a new coat of shiny white enamel from Tractor Supply that I have on hand.  I put a 2000 watt inverter in the trailer last fall, so we can run it on the battery (the inverter converts 12V to 110V) while towing and the car or truck alternator will keep the battery charged.  A solar charger and one more coach battery would enable us to go entirely solar and still have the fridge, although we couldn’t use the AC.  It’s going to be a HUGE improvement.

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The ’34 has been running great, I’ve put about 700 miles on it, enough to have the cheap reproduction Harley speedometer (junk to begin with) stop working, the old SW vacuum gauge to stop working (hole in the diaphragm), and tonight, the brake lights to not work.  I also discovered the play in the steering, which I’d blamed on the cheap, reproduction Vega steering box, but turned to be the cheap, off-shore made pitman arm which was slightly thinner than the box was made to use.  That meant the nut didn’t tighten the arm down on the shaft completely, leaving some “slop” between the steering box shaft and steering arm.  Scary.

I “fixed” that with a couple of flat washers that were in the bolt bin, and the car drives like a slot car  now.  I’ll keep my on that Vega box, they have a reputation for being sloppy and wearing quickly, but for now, it seems like it’s all good.  There are always some bugs to work out, but overall, it’s great.

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Our son Craig and his wife Kathleen bought a ’65 Ford Ranch wagon earlier this  spring, and I helped them wire it for a trailer lights, installed a brake controller, fixed the power steering pump and put a new high performance radiator and new hoses in ahead of the sweet running 352.  It looks pretty nice as is, I’ll do a little rust repair this winter for them on the rear fenders and rocker panels, and blend the paint.  It’s got a pretty decent “used car lot” repaint from decades ago that polished up pretty well, and they want the car to be a funky, driver type car, so that makes it easy for me.

We gave them the little “Tini-Home” canned ham trailer, they’ve already used it once, we hope it’ll give them years of family fun, just like it has for us!

So, lots of activity here a Cool McCool’s Garage.  We’ve been to a couple of cruise nights with the roadster, and a weekend of vintage camping with our friends at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon.  June is half over, but summer has just begun!

 

I went to a local muffler shop the other day and got two 10′ sticks of 2″ exhaust tubing, and had them bend a 90 degree in one end of each.  I also bought two steel pack “resonators”, some chrome exhaust tips, and handful of clamps and hangers.

I hung the tubing temporarily under the car after welding the header flanges on, and fired it up.  It was evident that mufflers were going to be redundant, so, the car now has straight pipes.  I like the way it cackles under throttle, it’s pretty mellow going down the road, and, best of all, I did it myself.  I did put a little “bow” in the pipes by putting a 2×4 between the pipes and the frame in the center, and jacking the back up until the pipes hit the gas tank.

Now, on to the top.

Today’s task was to go to AutoZone and spend my Christmas money on transmission fluid, wax, hand buffing compound, tire cleaner, wheel cleaner, fuses, and other miscellaneous stuff.  (Of course I didn’t get a three prong flasher, number one on the list…).  I added 2 quarts of trans fluid, and backed it out of the garage into the (almost) sun.  IMG_3668

It was then that I could see that I wasn’t done buffing and polishing!  The paint is single stage  urethane, and has fully cured, meaning it’s pretty hard.  I wet sanded it with 1200, then 1500, then like 4,000 on my DA, which left a pretty uniform satin finish.  Then I buffed it with 3M Heavy Duty Rubbing compound and wool bonnet, washed the car, and then used a foam pad and 3M machine finish glazing compound.  If I’d done all this when the paint was still soft, lets say within a week of shooting it, it’d have been much, much easier.

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As it was, I had quite a few “hazy” areas, that needed a lot more polishing.  So, out came the buffer, foam pad and glazing compound, and I hit most of the car again.  I also hand rubbed the character lines, door and hood edges, as I didn’t want to cut through the black.  I’d originally planned to intentionally cut through into the red-oxide primer beneath,  to make the paint look old, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Call me crazy…

Now however, I’m very happy with the results, the paint looks deeper, and has a somewhat “softer” shine, a bit less “plasticky” than the uncut urethane.   I got supplies to detail and spiff the car for its debut at AutoRama in Detroit in one month, like tire dressing, some Meguires liquid wax, spray detailer, wheel cleaner for (very hard to clean wire wheels), Armor-All wipes for the interior and so on.

 

 

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I ordered some little stuff for the interior, some welting, Common Sense snaps for the saddlebag style map pockets in the doors, vinyl tack strip, and metal spring clips to hold the trim panels on, as Kim hates using screws and trim washers.  I don’t mind that, but she is right, it’ll be a more finished look.

So, it’s coming down to the wire.  The car runs GREAT, it looks as good as anything I’ve ver built, it seems to drive OK, at least up and down the drive, the brakes and steering are tight and feel really good.

See you in Detroit!

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Wisdom from my buddy Jake Moomey.  He’s right.   The stance on this car is perfect, the result of a flattened (almost too much) ’40 Ford rear crossmember, and ’49 mono leaf rear spring,  a flattened stock front crossmember, a 4″ dropped axle, and a Posies “Superslide” reversed eye “Super Low” spring up front.  The frame rails are notched front and rear, and it’ll probably settle an inch after being driven.

Then, it’ll be perfect.

For those who don’t care for the  Dayton rim laced wire knock off’s, I have this to say…

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Too bad.  In addition this set of 14″ slots and G7814 Bias Belts, I have a set of 15″ ’49 Chevy wheels with stock hub caps (the car has a 283, and ’36 Chevy headlights, the BowTie is fine), some 8.00×15’s for the back and 7.20×15’s for the front.  That should make the “purists” happy, not that care.  I plan on running the wires most of the time.

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I’ve gotten started on the wiring, the battery is mounted in the trunk and the cables are run to the starter, and I”

I’ve sorted the wiring out in the ’61 T’Bird steering column, figured out which wires are for the neutral safety switch, turn signals and back up switches, so that much is done.  Before too long I should be able to fire the thing up and hear the 283 through the open headers.  The brakes need to be bled, so after those two tasks are complete, it’ll be a runner.

I’m trying now to find material that matches the seat upholstery.  I’ve gotten one sample from about 10 that is close, which may be close enough, since the seating surface and bolsters of the seat don’t match anyway.  It may be fine on the door panels, kick panels and top well, certainly close enough for the trunk.  Top color is still undecided, it’s either black/tan or tan/tan.  I’ll decide when I order the material.

I’m really happy with how it looks on the ground, it’s been setting on jack stands for months.  This is the first time it’s been on it’s wheels on the ground since paint, so this is another big step forward.

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly, and nothing makes me jollier than working on the Hot Rod!   Everyday is like Christmas lately, with the Big Brown Truck or the mail-lady bringing me little trinkets and presents from Speedway Motors, eBay and Vintage Ford Parts.  If I’d make a list and order everything I needed at once, it’d be less shipping but also less fun getting stuff delivered.   I will say that of all the things I’ve ordered, only one thing has disappointed, and that was the windshield gasket, a “Mr. Roadster” part, I ordered from Speedway.  It is totally wrong, doesn’t come close to fitting the original Ford frame, so I have to get another one, probably from Steele.  Oh well.23755451_10215478035886687_5139613326768938365_n

 

Yesterday my pal Jake Moomey turned the Ford front hubs down to fit the good Buick aluminum brake drums.  The car came with a pair of drums fitted, but one was no good, the (steel)  liner was paper thin, and the pilot holes in both were slightly off center, they had a tiny bit of run out.  I bought one,  stole one from the ’63 Riviera (it hurt to pull the the drum off the Riviera, but I have another one for it), and we (well Jake, I watched) turned the hubs down to fit the Buicks smaller pilot hole.

It felt really good getting the car back up on all four wheels as opposed to setting on jack stands with the front wheels simply mocked up the stands.

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Jake has a ’49 Chevy Tin Woody wagon project, and along with that came a ’49 4 door sedan parts car.  It has 5 original Chevy 15″ wheels.  I’m buying the wheels, which gives me a third option for wheels and tires.  I have the Dayton knock-off wires, for a contemporary look, the 14″ chrome slots and bias belted wide whites (shown above), for an early 60’s vibe, and the Chevy 15’s for a post war traditional feel.   I have a nice pair of 7.20×15 Cokers that’ll be perfect up front, and will be looking for a pair of 8.00×15’s to mount on the other pair for the rear.

Neither sets of whitewalls will be suitable for long distance driving, but the Daytons and radials will be perfect.  Since the car has a Chevy bolt pattern behind the knock of spliced adaptors, a space saver spare in the trunk, a jack and lug wrench will serve as “one size fits all” spare tire.  We had flats twice with the ’36, and with different bolt patterns on each end, no trunk room, bias ply tires and tubes, it wasn’t a very practical set up in case of tire trouble.

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I’m down to the final fitting and finish stage of the build, so the long up coming winter will be just the right amount of time to get things fitted and finished.  I had the top bows on, but loosely mounted.  With the mounts firmly bolted on, the top bound slightly folding, and had to forced to fit behind the seat back in the top well.  Not good.

It turned out that one of the mounting holes I’d drilled in inner body structure (that I built from photos found from an old Street Rodder Magazine build on line) was slightly off.  That fix turned out to be as simple as a new hole a quarter of an inch rearward and up, which let the top irons stack without binding, and pulled them back just enough to clear the seat and drop into the top well perfectly.

I’ve made patterns for all the interior panels, and just have to make them now for the trunk, which will be upholstered to match the interior.  No rumble seat cushion plans at this point, we’ll use it as a (very spacious) trunk.  The rumble lid actually seems suited better hinged at the rear for loading and un-loading.  If at some point I want seat cushions, we can add them at any time.

I’m still going back and forth daily on the color for the top.  Either black or tan will look good, so I can’t go wrong either way.  I’ll probably decide as I’m ordering the material. Tan would look good with the whitewall tires, black would be good with the chrome spokes and blackwalls.  The interior will be tan, the existing seat, and the top likely won’t be up very much anyway, so I don’t know why I’m agonizing over a decision.

With the fuel line hooked to the tank and wiring to the solenoid it’s ready to fire up.  Now that brakes are all finished I can bleed the lines.  The steering column and wheel are finished and mounted, and the dash is lacking only a new Stewart Warner manual temp gauge.  The (rather clunky) aluminum gas pedal and throttle cable arrived yesterday, so the list of things to do is getting shorter every day.

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I’m (sort of) committed now to having the car in the basement at AutoRama in Detroit at Cobo hall in February.  That seems like a very reasonable goal now, and a good place to debut the car.  For a Christmas present to myself I’d like to have it to the point it’ll start, steer and stop,  and get the paint cut and buffed.  Anything I get done after that, upholstery and top, is optional to get it to Detroit for the show, but a good thing to aim for.

Cheers, and Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Without being too maudlin, this is a reference to Tom Petty.  Writer, musician, fellow baby boomer, who died of a heart attack just a couple days ago.  I’ve been casual fan for decades, always admired him because he not only made music I liked over the years, but he seemed to follow his heart, and made the rest of us happy doing so.  Simple, unadorned, straight up rock and roll.  No frills.  No unnecessary adornment.  He didn’t guild the lily.  I like that about him.

Not that I’m anywhere near the artist (or particularly musical) as Tom Petty, and I don’t want to flatter myself too much here, but thinking about it, this car is my equivalent to the kind of music Tom Petty made.  It’s simple and clean.  Like a good chopper,  and a good authentic hot rod, there’s nothing there that doesn’t need to be there.  It’ll reflect my taste, the cars that influenced me and made an impression when I was a kid in the late fifties and early sixties, looking at car magazines in the grocery store while my mom shopped.

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I’ve always loved ’33 and ’34 Fords, particularly a fenderless roadster.  The line of the hood and the inner fender as they sweep back into the rocker panel, which is not flat on top of the frame, but dips below the frame (making these cars channeled from the factory) in a graceful arc that I think is lovely.  Without fenders, that line is accented and amplified, the signature feature of these cars.  Likewise the angle of the grill, hood and forward edge of the doors is unique and beautiful  (albeit it dangerous), and “matches” that rocker panel/hood sweep.

I’ve wanted one for 40 years, saved Street-Rodder magazines with ’34 highboys on the cover, and feature cars, including this very one, for almost that long.  It sounds trite but it’s a real dream come true.  That it’s in my garage, tantalizingly close to being finished, amazes me every time I see it.  I feel fortunate to be able to own this car, proud of the skills I’ve gained over the years that enable me to build it, and thankful my wife Kim supports me and my madness.  She didn’t complain when I sold the ’48 Pontiac convertible we’d had since before we got married, that financed this, nor when I dropped more than half of the proceeds of that on a trailer load of mis-matched and cast-off parts that became this car.

Thanks Kim.  I love you, and not just for this.

Getting primer on it today was a huge step forward.  I’m hoping to get color on it before the weather cools down, so that this winter I can get all the rest of the work done and have it ready for next spring.  It’s been a little more work than I anticipated, but not horrible, and so far I haven’t run up against any huge obstacles.  At least none that I couldn’t work out.

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There are lots of little details I really like about the project, things that I think will separate it from other ‘glass bodied ’34’s.  Not there are tons of them around here, but there are a couple.  Like a good Tom Petty song, it’s identifiable and recognizable, but different and unique at the same time.

That’s my hope any way.

 

 

Hot Rod!

Posted: April 4, 2017 in Ford Roadsters, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I finished up the headlight stands today and got the lovely splash aprons mounted below the hood.  Even though the hood is raw steel, the body is flat black and the splash aprons are purple, you can see the beautiful sweeping line of the hood, splash apron, headlight and tire make that flows down and back to the rear wheel.  The bottom of the body doesn’t lay flat on the frame like a ’32, but drops down  below the frame, to follow the hood line.  It’s beautiful, and it’s why I built a ’34 rather than a ’32, or the ’27 I was originally going to build.  I love it.17634448_10213207746090861_6471970211750891650_n17757432_10213205080984235_1940985273489453503_n17757509_10213207745850855_5432272209028145714_n17757562_10213207746570873_2864557533850458756_n