Archive for the ‘Rat Rod’ Category

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of silence please, the ’36 Special has left the building.    The car is now, hopefully, at its new home in Alabama, and we have an empty bay in the garage. 

We met the transporter in Richland last Saturday morning, on our way to Nat’s North, and the Fordillac, seen here being driven by the ONLY other person besides myself ever to get behind the wheel, disappeared into the upper deck of the hauler.   Once the deal was done, I only drove the car twice.  Here, and once to the Gilmore Museum, where I photographed it in front of the new Model A museum. 

Enjoy a few pictures of those two last drives as the car fades into memory.  





























So, that’s it.  I feel strangely liberated seeing it gone.  Some things I’ve wanted to have happen with the rest of the collection can finally get done, and that feels good. 

It was a GREAT ride.

Going, going, gone.

Posted: September 11, 2012 in '36 Roadster, Hot Rod, Rat Rod, Real Hot Rods

Don’t look back.   That’s what I’m trying to do.  Some guy who’d been contacting me on and off for a year now called about the ’36, and in a moment of weakness (or perhaps a moment of clarity, I’m not yet sure), I surprised myself by accepting his (rather lowball) offer on the ’36. 

Why sell it? 

Lot’s of practical reasons.  First off, we have not one, not two, not even three, but 4 other hot rods/customs in the garage, and each and every one needs something.  I want to finish the Diamond T to a level I’ve not taken with a project.  The ’48 Pontiac is crying for a decent interior to replace the awful early 90’s Caddy seats I stuck in it temporarily over 10 years ago, and it needs a new top.   The T’Bird needs the windshield chop completed,  repainted and the original front drum brakes and spindles put back on in place of the LTDII stuff I put on back when I sanded the paint off it.  The ’51 wagon needs a heater/defroster and wipers before we head out on vacation to the Blue Ridge Parkway in three weeks.  Maybe even A/C.

From an emotional standpoint, the roadster had become sort of like my long gone Harley Panhead.  I like it.  I like seeing it crouched in the garage, like it’s ready to go tear somenes head off,  but the reality of driving it isn’t the thrill it was initially.  I’d only put a couple hundred miles on all summer, only filled the tank twice.  Every time I got in it, I wished I’d not channeled it, left a little more suspension travel, gone with disk brakes on the front, quicker steering, a laundry list of things I’d like to do differently.

In other words, I was thinking of building a completely new chassis, which meant starting over.

Faced with the same prospect several years ago with our ’48 Spartan Manor, we sold it, built the ’46 incorperating all the things we wanted a “do-over” for.  The car is the same.  Why re-do, as oppossed to a clean slate start over?

The tipping point was a conversation with my friend John.  He summed it pretty well when he said, “That’s always going to be YOUR car.   Every time this guy shows it, takes it anywhere, people will ask, ‘Did you build it?’, and he’ll have to say, ‘No, some guy in Michigan built it, I just bought it.’  You had the vision, built it, got famous with it in Hot Rod.  It’s still always going to be YOUR car.”

Very true.  I had fun designing it.  I had fun collecting the parts and putting them together.  I even had fun working out the myriad “bugs” the car had initially, and I really had fun seeing it published in Hot Rod magazine, a life-long dream.I even made money, pretty serious money, on it, and that doesn’t happen very often with collector cars.  It’s true the per/hour rate wasn’t as much as had I worked as many hours of overtime, but how much fun would that have been?   It certainly beat what I’d have made watching TV.

Sort of like hitting the Trifecta.

Will I replace it something else?  I’m sure that SOMETHING will come along, after all, nature (and avacant garage stall)  abhors a vacuum.  I have a couple of cars left in me, I just need to decide that will be.  I’ve got a couple of ideas swirling around, but nothing has “jelled” yet.  The “to do” list above is certainly long enough, and something else will probably (definitely) have to go before another project is started. 

We’ll see.

For now,  I’m not regretting the decision to let it go, and we’ll see what happens from here.








Addendum:  I should also add to the list of things to be done that the Chris Craft needs a new bottom,  much of the decking replaced, and new seat covers.   There’s also the “new” ’47 Manor in the back yard that I promised the orignal owners I was going to restore.   I need to re-build (again!) the pump for the plow for the GMC, after all winter is coming, and I’d really like to re-hab Craigs Mustang convert.  All of a sudden, all that money seems to be spent…

…the mice work all day in the garage without guilt (not that I usually feel guilty about that!)  While Kim is off camping without me, I spent today working on the Diamond T for the first time in almost 8 months!

I drove the ’36 into Auto-Zone and picked  a pair of tie-rod ends, shocks, and a steering idler.  It’s getting hard to remember what the various components came from, I’m going to have to make up a little owners manual.  The counter-girl was a little confused when we kept jumping from a ’93 G20 Chevy van to a C2500 pickup to get the pieces, but I remembered correctly and everything was correct. 

For those of you keeping track, the front crossmember and control arms are ’93 G20 3/4 ton van, the ball joints, spindles and brakes are from the same vintage 3/4 ton Chevy pickup.  You’d think that they’d share the same parts, but NOOOO.  The van has 5 lug rotors (which look the same as 1/2 ton pickup and full-size car), smaller ball joints, but much heavier tie rod ends.  Out back, the rear is a Dana 70, probably from a mid 70’s Dodge, it’s narrower than a standard dually rear, so perhaps it’s a commercial chassis unit, who knows.  I’ll have to find out when I rebuild the brakes I suppose.

Anyway, the new parts went on without a hitch.  I put the flex hoses on the front, and spent a little time noodling out how to plumb the lower radiator hose, which has to take a rather convoluted route from the right side outlet, out the fender liner, down and behind the center-link and then to the left side lower outlet on the radiator.  It’d be nice to find a pre-formed hose with the proper 90 degree bends at both ends, so I’ll have to spend a little time in the auto-parts store looking at some. 

Next up, brake lines, measure up for the driveshaft, and get that pesky lower hose for the radiator.  I have the mid-ships driveshaft I took out of the GMC when I shortened it, and if I’m lucky, it’ll be a donor for the yokes, and if I’m REALLY lucky, it might even fit, or be able to be shortened to fit.  We’ll see.  I have the glass all cut, but need to order the windshield rubber and paint the inner frames before they go in.  Once all those little tasks are completed, I can drive it in to Muffler-Man for some pipes, and we’ll be ready to roll.  That is, after the paint is cut and buffed out, the interior completed and carpeted, and some other loose ends wrapped up.  I’m publicly stating right here I will not start another project untill this is done, so I have witness’!   

Here are a few pictures of todays garage scene, notice the thick layer of dirt from setting since last summer after it was painted, which makes me feel kind of bad.  I shouldn’t feel too bad, because in that time, I built the GMC dually, and the Tini-Home.   

Stay tuned to “Cool McCool’s Garage” for more progress, and to make sure I don’t forget I said I wouldn’t start anything else until this is done.  Keep a brother honest!




I seem to be at the stage where I can work all day, and nothing new to show.  So, no new pics, but I do want to keep this up to date. 

I’ve worked many hours this weekend on the wiring harness, and that’s a slow, tedious, unglamorous job.  It didn’t help that I smoked the voltmeter yesterday, inadvertantly hooking the hot feed to ground.  I was able to swap in the guts of the GM voltmeter from the old conversion van gauge panel, so that saved about 75 bucks for a new gauge.  Works fine, and I’m happy to have saved it. 

 I spent today getting the fuel gauge working.  I’d hoped that the SW gauge would work with the GM sender in the tank, but alas, it was not gonna happen.  Not compatible.  So, out came the tank, and after purging it with exhaust from the wagon, I cut a hole for the SW sending unit and got that installed.  The gauge works perfectly.  Now all I have to do is replace the 15lb fuel pump with a 60lb one, which looks like it’ll be an easy task.  I may try to get a Chev pickup pump from my buddy Brad at Morris Rose Auto Parts, and adapt it to my tank rather than buy a new generic one. 

This week I’m going to order some ’37 Ford tailights,  get them mounted, mount the headlights to the front fenders so I can finish up the wiring harness.  Then, brake lines, finish the fuel lines, and get the ECM reflashed so I can fire this bad boy up!

I should also mention that there is a new addition to Cool McCool’s Garage.  It’s Milo, the shop cat, seen here in repose behind the wood stove.   He’s a kitten that showed up under the bird feeder around Thanksgiving, that I’ve adopted.  He kept hanging around, trying to ambush birds and amusing us trying without sucess to catch them.  After a couple weeks of feeding him, and trying to coax him out from under the deck, he suddenly let me hold and pet him.  In fact, he went from feral to annoying in about 24 hours.  I can’t walk from the house to the garage now without tripping over him.  It’s OK though, so far I’ve taught him to hunt his food dish and hang out at the back door.  He doesn’t mind being kicked at all.  I put him in the warm shop tonight, he knows a good thing when  he’s got it.  Didn’t try to get out into the cold at all!

It may not look like it, but this is progress!  Two days worth, in fact.  I may be the worlds slowest electrician, but as of now, the Diamond T has switched headlights, tailights, park and turn signals.  The fuel pump relay clicks,  the in-tank pump runs for the correct two seconds when the key is switched “On”, and the engine cranks over on “Start”.  The ignition is hot, so I’m pretty confident it’ll fire up.  I’m so jazzed about this, I had to stop and update my blog.

I was pretty worried about this, as all the information I got was gleaned from a couple of websites, and you know how trustworthy free internet advice is.  In addition, Chevrolet made frequent changes in the wiring harness’ between years, models, 4×4 and 2WD, along with running changes that don’t always show up in the diagrams I printed out.  Happily though, it seems to be all good. 

Now, just imagine all the wires shown above routed into harness’ and neatly run behind the dash, in an organized and tidy, workman like fashion.  We’ll see if that vision can become reality, or if it’ll look like all my other Hot Rod wiring, a disaster waiting to happen!

I’ve always like engine turning, and try to have some in all my projects.  It’s fun to do, looks good, and people seem to like it.  I’d made a gauge panel for it last winter, but due to a layout error, it didn’t fit the dash properly.   Not thinking, I rolled the bead on the perimeter mark, which made the panel 3/4″ to wide, and the bottom hung of the edge of the dash.  Duh.

So, inspired by my buddies Roadster’s Auburn dash insert, and some photos I took of Auburns and Dusie’s at the Gilmore Museum this past summer, I designed and made some new inserts today.  Like the Diamond T Deluxe cab dash, I made side panels to match the center panel, and did a machine finish on them all.  The bead rolling went much easier than I’d thought, I was able to make a raised bead on the polished stainless, and have nice crisp corners.  I like ’em!

I decided to make the pattern a little bigger than the original one, and used a bigger mandrel to make the swirls.  Hard to get in the corners, but the mounting screws will take up the blank space, and it’s under the deep “eyebrow” of the Auburn-like dash anyway, in the shadow.

The gauge layout will be the same as this, with the speedo and tach on the outside, the four smaller gauges in the center, and the blank area in the middle will have the light switch, wiper control, dummy choke and throttle knobs, and ignition switches.  The new panel is much crisper looking than this one, and I laid the pattern out better.

Ok, forget the gobbeldy-gook and seemingly meaningless symbols and click on the Youtube link to see what Hot Rodding is all about!  (I thought the clip was longer, I’ll do better next time!)


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It’s official.  I am a bad influence on otherwise productive and motivated people.  I have a long, long list of things I have to get done, both on my Diamond T project and things around the homestead, but instead of doing any of those things, I unloaded the ’36 from the trailer and went for a long ride.  Not only did I spend all day goofing off, burning fossil fuel, but I also dragged my buddies Dennis and Matt away from  their work.  Which, in retrospect, wasn’t really that hard!

We hung out at Dennis’ shop, where hopefully he can get the fingerprints and drool I left on the aluminum interior panels of his RPU.  Then lunch at a little diner in town, and cruised around taking pics of our two dissimilar, yet somehow the same, old Fords.  

 Nose to nose.

“Are they kit cars?”

In front of the track at the Ionia fairgrounds.

Worlds coolest leaf rake.

“The Wall”.  Ionia State Prison.  Matt was a little freaked out about pulling the cars onto the grass here, and we all thought it best to shoot and run before we attracted any attention.  Like they’d be hard to spot as prison break get-away cars…

Keep your eyes on the road, and both hands upon the wheel!

It was a GREAT afternoon, many thanks to my friends Dennis and Matt, for playing hookey from  “The Ionia Rod Shop” to enjoy a beautiful November afternoon in two roadsters.   I don’t think we could have spent the day doing ANYTHING more worthwhile or productive!

Finally!  After what seems like months, I got out and actually accomplished something on the Diamond T!  (OK.   It hasn’t been months, I have worked on it a little lately.)  The rear fenders are finished and actually bolted to the bed sides, and the running boards are nearly finished. just a little finish work yet on the seams (I made extentions to have them extend between the front and rear fenders).   It looks pretty good.

Todays job was to make mounts and straps for the gas tank.  I had two strips of 18 ga. stainless sheared and made the straps from that.  The tank I’d blasted and painted a few days ago with “Cast Finish” paint, which looks pretty nice again the black frame.  I used the ends of the tanks original straps (from a Chev G20 conversion van I took the front suspension from), and simply folded the other end back on itself, and bolted that end to the frame.  Simple.

The tank fits neatly between the frame rails, although I need to make some permanent spacers to go between the tank and frame.  The fuel lines exit over the side, so there needs to be a gap for them to pass thru, and the tank has a bulge on the top for the pump/sender.  It would hit the box crossmember.  No problem.  I have some white oak that was the original spacer between the frame and flatbed rails I’ll rip up.  It’s “patina’d”!

I also welded up the seams on tailgate frame.  The gate is made from a section of 3″ DOM tubing, sliced in half, to make the roll at the top.  This is welded to the 2″ square mild steel tubing that makes up the main part, which has insert panels inside and out.  It weighs a TON, but I won’t have to worry about anything denting the top!

Then, I made some filler panels to box in sides of the open tubing.  This turned out really well, I’m pretty happy with the way the gate looks. 

The handle is a garage door handle from the hardware store, and the latch is from a Ford Ranger pickup.  There’ll be a set of hood stainless and the Diamond T brass plaque just below the handle.  This will match the  hood trim, and will give the tailgate a finished look.  At least, that’s the plan.  You can see the rolled pan below the gate and the sides of the box in this shot too.  I like it.  A lot.

I cut some strips of aluminum bar stock to make running board trims from, and laid them on the front section.  They’ll look fine with the ends tapered, the sharp corners rounded over and polished.  I’ll make a short set to put on the boards in front of the rear fenders.  The rear of the boards I had to modify a little to fit the fenders after they were bolted on, the boards were touching  the glass fender.  Strange to have to modify stuff I made to fit, but the fenders weren’t finished and bolted on when I made the running boards.  I gues they moved a little.

Tomorrow I hope to get the gas tank mounts finished up, the spacers cut, and see if I can fit the lines I scavenged from the Silverado 2500 that the 6.0 LS came from!   The goal is to complete one task every time I go out to the shop and work on it.

Well, there’s no kerchief, and Mamma got no cap, but the ’36 is officially stowed away for the season in its portable garage.  The end of the season, sort of sad, no?  The Chris Craft and Spartan are already winterized and nestled in their winter abodes, leaving the ’48 and ’51 yet un-packed.  I did drop the insurance on the ’48, so it’s sort of put away, although I need to unhook the battery and cover it up.   The ’51 I’ll drive untill snow flies, when it’s nice out.   No driving to work, the deer are too thick.  In fact, I hit one with the “Milusion” on the way home the other night.  Hoof mark on the bumper, and thankfully it didn’t slap the side of the car, although it did get spun around.  Bad for the deer, lucky for me!

Here’s the car going, going, gone for the season…

So, there it is.  Sumer is officially over, it was fun while it lasted!  I like the idea of having the car stored, but ready to go and in a mobile garage.  It’s out-of-the-way, it’ll stay clean, and it’s accessible with a little work (or snowplowing).   Now, I can get to work on the Diamond T and Thunderbird!  And fix the power steering leak in the wagon, add the airsprings I’ve had for it for three years, fix the U-joints in my Silverado,  and all the other stuff I”ve put off all summer.