Archive for the ‘Gilmore Car Museum’ Category

My friend Bill McGuire reminded me gently that I hadn’t updated my blog lately.  Indeed it’s been a while, I guess I felt as though I hadn’t gotten anything done worthy of writing about, but several of my hot rodder buddies this weekend at “Relix Riot” told me they don’t know how I get so much done.   So, here’s the latest:

I’ve gotten the counter tops and shelves all banded in aluminum edging done.  It looks great.  Unseen, the dump valves are installed on the grey and black tanks, and the inner door panels are back on.  Kim, my wife, has the curtains done and is starting on the upholstery for the dinette.  

We’ve been busy helping our son and his family with some home improvements in thier new home and moving, and spending quality grandparenting time with our grandson Milo, more important than working on old trailers and cars.  

Taking time out for some fun, we hung out at the Gilmore car museum this weekend with friends at “Relix Riot”, the biggest little car show around.  We got to combine that with some “Milo time” as well, it was a great time despite a wet Saturday afternoon.   Lots of folks attending the show have vintage campers, we combine hot rods and camping, and had a private party after the show with music by the “Moonrays” last night after the clouds departed. 

I guess I do get a lot done.


In the Cadillac building, a beautiful recreation of the Cadillac approved Art Deco dealership building design from the late 30’s.

Since my hip replacement a little over a week ago I’ve been going over to the Gilmore museum every day for a walk.  I’ve graduated to being able to use a cane, rather than walker, which is good,  although it does make me rather sore later on.  Going through the museum at my forced slow pace enables me to notice things I’d normally breeze right on buy.  My visit yesterday was focused on the Model A museum.  I admit I’m not very enthused about Model A’s, particularly in stock form, but the versatility and adaptability of this humble depression era car is amazing.  From family transportation, to marine, medium duty truck, and even aircraft, the reliable little Model A kept America moving during the tough 30’s, into the 40’s and 50’s, and continues today as restored and hot-rodded little Fords are still going strong.

A break in the still open “Blue Moon Diner” was a welcome stop for a root beer float.  The museum was very busy, but I managed to belly up the much counter and get an empty stool to enjoy my float.

Stay tuned for more hip replacement recovery, rehab and fun.  I’m hoping to be able in the next couple weeks to be able to a little light work on the Spartan trailer project.  For now I still need to use a cane or walker, but as rapidly as this seems to be progressing I should be back at it, at least in a limited way, pretty soon.

Thanks for visiting, see you next time!

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The restoration (or “fixing up”) of an old car is a matter of repairing and refurbishing all of the worn out and/or broken parts, making them work like they should, and then, depending on your own taste, making them look like new, or as close to new as makes you happy, again.  It’s one step at a time.  Today I made several big steps forward.

The Riviera I’m building for my wife had an issue with the passenger door glass, it flopped inwards when the door closed, didn’t fit right, and the power window motor was shot.  Happily, I have an extra pair of doors, and robbed the spare door of the parts I needed.  The window motor works fine, but sadly, the die-cast arm on the window regulator that was the cause of this floppy-ness was also broken on the donor door.  Since I had an entire extra regulator, I cut one of the steel arms off it that happen to be exactly the same length as the broken die cast one, managed to save the shouldered rivet that makes the hinge pin that it pivots as the window goes up and down, and put it all back together.  It works fine, and cost ZERO dollars.

I got the new “Southern-Air” A/C-heat unit mounted on the inside of the firewall too, and adapted the shiny new dash vents to the Riviera’s original housings, on each side of the dash, and the long narrow  original one in the center of the console.  The defroster tubes are also mounted temporarily, so I’ve go all done that I can do until I get the new console (sourced from the guy who bought the parts Riviera I sold) and start permanently putting the car together.

Next up, put some butyl duct-insulation (same stuff as “Dyna-Mat” but about a quarter of the price), on the floor and insulation on top of that.  A buddy uses shiny mylar bubble wrap insulation in all his builds, so I’m going to use the same thing, with maybe a second layer of butyl duct insulation on top of that.  I want the car quiet and cool.

After that, I spent some time sorting out the wiring harness, as I need to sort out the switched and constant hot feeds to wire the new ECM for the LS engine, and I got all the windows to go up and down.  The drivers power seat needs some work to free up the mechanism, but the motor runs, so it should be repairable.  The headlight, tail-light and wiper circuits all work, so I won’t have too much wiring to do, as the original wiring is in good shape.

I’m very happy with this afternoons work, I got a lot done, and made progress on several aspects of the build.  As soon as I get my re-shaped oil pan and the air suspension stuff, the car can start going back together and get ready for paint!

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The defroster plenum will get the tubes sealed in with  my second favorite thing, duct tape.

The defroster plenum will get the tubes sealed in with my second favorite thing, duct tape.


from the firewall


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.



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!

Buck Boudemans '27 roadster.

Buck Boudemans ’27 roadster

Since it was so cold today, -5 yet at 1030, I wasn’t very motivated to go out to the shop,  Instead, I went to the Post Office, did some errands, filled up my “Milusion” for $1.77.9 (thank you Saudi Arabia for trying to drive US and Canadian oil producers under), and had lunch at the Gilmore Museum.  While I was there, I took some photos of my favorite things, and though I’d share what’s brewing in my head.  As if I needed another project…

Part 1.  The ’27 Highboy above was built by my late friend Buck Boudeman.  He was into Miller Indy cars and Stanley steam cars, but took time out to build this killer little roadster a couple of years ago just for fun and to drive to local cruise nights.  I like lots of things about it, and it has been haunting me for a couple of years.

Frank Mack '27.

Frank Mack ’27.

Part 2.  The Frank Mack ’27.  An Autorama winner in the early 50’s, built by then high school kid Frank Mack from junkyard Ford parts.  It’s unchanged, unrestored from its original incarnation, and it personifies a post war Hot Rod.  I’m going to blatantly steal ideas from this, Bucky’s car, and the following…

Cotton Werksman's "T".

Cotton Werksman’s “T”.

When I was in High School, in ’72,  reading “Street Rodder” and “Rod & Custom” instead of studying, Cotton Werksman’s Ardun powered T was burned into my brain.  This scooter is one of three that he built with a buddy, is now owned by a very nice guy from the Detroit area, and still lights my fire.  I prefer the swoopy ’27 body of the other two cars over the little ’17 T bucket body, but the space frame, quick-change and sprint car front really get my blood boiling.

Rumpity Rump...

Rumpity Rump…

I bought a ’93 Chevy conversion van several years ago, thinking I’d put the TBI 350 in my Diamond T.  The engine ran OK but had 175K on it, and rather than rebuild it, I bought a Vortec 6.0.  I did use the vans front suspension, gas tank, and some other stuff so I got my moneys worth, and the 350 has been sitting on a cradle since.  A couple of weeks ago, I was at my buddy Crafty B’s shop, and he had this dual quad set up and no name finned valve covers for sale.  The price seemed right, and I came home with them, and 30 minutes later, the TBI was in the trash and the Offy 360 and AFB’s were on the engine.  Another buddy noticed the carbs, and come to find out, they’re original 409 dual carbs, and despite missing the choke, needing to be rebuilt and some minor cosmetic damage, they’re quite sought after.   I sold them on eBay for enough to buy a pair of new Edelbrock carbs and freshen up the 350 with a cheap-O rebuild kit, so that’s all good.  It’ll need a conventional distributor and a 700R4 trans to replace the 4L60E, because I don’t like a stick shift, but it’ll be plenty of motor for a 2,000 lb. roadster.  And, cheap.

I have a ’36 Ford front axle and wishbones from the Fordillac, and another friend said he’d give me a Ford 8″.  Sadly, it’s not a quick change, but the price is right.  The 454 from the derelict motorhome that ate up all my spare time last summer I traded for a set of Dayton rim laced knock off wheels and hubs, with new bias ply tires.  I have a Mustang steering box, so I’ve got most of the suspension, steering, brakes, wheels and tires.  I just need a body and time.

Now, I need a pile of steel tubing and ‘glass ’27 body, and I have the beginnings of a ’27 based on, and inspired by, the three cars above.  My plan, if I can turn a pile of mild steel tubing into a “bird-cage” style frame like Cotton Workman built on his garage floor, a ’27 with a dropped, full belly pan like Frank Mack’s car,  with a deep foot well (unlike Bucks car with a flat floor) that’ll be comfortable, light, powerful with the rebuilt and mildly modified Chevy 350.  If the space frame turns out to be beyond my primitive measuring and fabrication skills, I’ll just build a ladder type frame that mimics a ’32 Ford frame and put a floor pan/belly pan on the bottom of the rails.  A little heavier, but simple and easy to build compared to the bird-cage style frame like Cotton’s car.

I’ve always loved ’27 Ford roadsters, we had a full fendered one 30 years ago, and I miss the fender-less ’36 Fordillac, so this will be a good combination and tribute to those cars.   I may have to sell something else I love, if only because really, 6 old cars, three vintage trailers and one wooden Chris Craft is all the hobby stuff one couple needs, so if anybody needs a ’48 Pontiac convert street rod with an LT1, I have just what you need…

Sanding, sanding, sanding...

Sanding, sanding, sanding…

Feeling a burst of creative energy and ambition, I went out to the shop and actually accomplished quite a bit today on the T’bird. I (almost) finished up work on the lengthened tulip panel (between the trunk lid and backlight), and on the shortened tonneau cover. After I’d gotten most of the sanding done, I put the tonneau cover back on the car, set the top back on in order to check the fit and alignment of the panels, and to get a visual of how the car will look.

The result, I think, is that it looks fantastic. The shortened top and tonneau cover now meet right where the backlight (rear window) will be. The car looks SO good with the top on, with the tonneau cover inside, that may be the primary way I use the car, although it looks KILLER without the top too.


Right side.

Right side.

In addition to that, I took a close look at the fit of the rear bumper on the driver’s side, and decided that I did NOT need to cut the bumper apart (again), but that there was enough adjustment in the brackets to take care of the “droop” at the leading edge of the bumper where it meets the body. It’s much better now after adjusting. I also took some time at the right side quarter in back of the wheel opening, where the new character line for the quarter and fender skirt didn’t quite match up. A little tweak here, and a little more ‘glass reinforced filler there, got the line right where it should be. With the car on the ground, there will be a shadow that would have made the little mis-alignment almost unnoticeable, but I know it’s there, and since I’m doing body work, it may as well be “right” before paint.

While filler was setting up on the quarter panel, I started to finesse the seam on the roof where the backlight was moved forward, and on the front bumpers weld seams. A couple more days of filling and blocking will have the car ready for primer, and I can move on to replacing a couple of pieces of rotten fuel line, get the brakes bled, and finish up the wiring behind the dash for the new, original gauges and switches. It’s coming along!

You sexy beast!

You sexy beast!

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….

Using our I-phone, with poor texting skills, we will the photos speak. In no particular order, Summer, 2014…



















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…





Longroof alley.

Longroof alley.






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?







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!





They say it’s not what you know, but WHO you know, and I know some interesting people! The past couple of years I’ve been involved as a mentor in the Gilmore Car Museums “Gilmore Garage Works” program for local young people. It’s a chance for kids to get involved with the old car hobby, learn some life skills, and see a side of life they might not otherwise have a chance to be part of.

Plus, I get to hang out with my friends, make “road trips”, and otherwise goof-off on a chilly winter day.

Yesterday was one of those days, when I got invited to tag along as the Garage Works gang loaded up on the short bus, and headed for Ionia Michigan, to visit Dennis and Matt Lesky at “Ionia Hot Rod Shop”.

Dennis and Matt, as usual, had a couple of very cool, traditional hot rod builds going on for us to see. Dennis showed us the Brookville ’32 roadster they’re building with their trademark oval and rectangular tubing inner bracing, a killer ’32 RPU lakes style modified, and Dennis’s own ’32 RPU project. As always, their philosophy of keeping it simple, using imagination and craftsmanship as opposed to simply ordering bits from a catalogue, is an inspiration for both the young people, and us grizzled old veterans.

In addition, they have a reason to sweep up the shop, and take a break from the usual day-to-day “grind”!

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

Dennis, holding court.

Dennis, holding court.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt's "mistake".  Don't toss that trunk mount panel away, I'm stealing that idea...

Matt’s “mistake”. Don’t toss that trunk mount panel away, I’m stealing that idea…

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford?  We think so...

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford? We think so…

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a '32 frame.  Buzz-box welding on the shop floor?  I don't think so!

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a ’32 frame. Buzz-box welding on the shop floor? I don’t think so!

As an added bonus, Matt and Dennis then took us just down the road to another Ionia shop, “Wing’s Auto Art”, where their specialty is (extremely) high-end muscle car restoration. The shop is home to some of the country’s best muscle cars, with several in-progress builds for us to see. Pontiac’s were well represented, with three early 70’s Trans Am’s, a 68 Firebird, and ’68 GTO in various stages of build. In addition, the shop itself was worth a visit, itself a testament to good planning and vision. Thanks to Nyle Wing, owner, for allowing us to stop by!

Now, THAT's a  nice garage.

Now, THAT’s a nice garage.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

'73 TA SD.  This what 60K gets.  A car needing a frame off restoration.  These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

’73 TA SD. This what 60K gets. A car needing a frame off restoration. These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

If you think "Fast and Loud", with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again.  13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

If you think “Fast and Loud”, with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again. 13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

It was a GREAT day, thanks Dennis, Matt, and Nyle, for opening your shops, and sharing your time with a bunch of kids and old duffers! Now, I think I need to go out and clean up the shop…