Archive for the ‘Roadsters’ Category

This ’34 is testing my skill set.  Today I went to ALRO steel and got a piece of 20 ga. stainless to make the dash panel.  I got a piece WAY bigger than I needed, thinking it’d come in handy to make something, sometime.  I stopped at my buddy’s house on the way home and borrowed his bead roller.  Great plan.

The first thing that happened was that I laid the panel out, and then rolled the bead on the mark for the outer edge, thus making it 1/4″ too big, and it hung below the dash.  Damn.  So, I laid out another, cut it, and while rolling the bead (the 20 ga. stainless really taxes the bead roller), I wandered off the line and ruined it.  So, I cut out number three, no problems, got the machine finish on, cut the holes for the gauges with a brown blade in the cut-off wheel.  All the gauges dropped in save one on the far right, so I began to carefully open up the hole with the cut-off wheel.  Not carefully enough though, I slipped and ended up with a big divet (look over the ammeter)imageuploadedbyh-a-m-b-1485298479-997388that the bezel doesn’t cover.

So, I’ll cut out panel number four, use up the last of the piece of stainless, and spend another day doing it all over again.  If I had the right tools for the job, it’d save me aggravation, but I’ll be more careful with the next one.

On the plus side, I did manage to make the package tray/seat back brace without any wrong cuts or trips back to Menards for more pine.  The seat looks great in the car, the support makes the body much more solid, so I have managed to move ahead.





’34 Roadster updates

Posted: January 4, 2017 in Hot Rod, Roadsters, transportation

img_0955The holiday season is over, and it’s time to update the blog.  Progress on the roadster has been steady, if slow, but there is progress.

I’ve gotten the frame DONE, unless you count priming and paint.  I thought I was done yesterday, but my friend Matt Lesky posted some photos of a ’32 chassis he just finished up, and that inspired me to make a couple changes on the ’34, even if it’s not on a level equal to what “Ionia Hot Rod Shop” does.  This extra detail isimg_0961 gussets were the “X” member joins the perimeter rails.  I’d thought it need a little extra, but wasn’t sure what to do until I saw Matt’s work.  So, that’s now done.

I also ordered a bunch of trinket parts from Speedway to mount the Houdialle shocks I saved from the Diamond T truck, and a new front spring.  Faithful readers will remember the mock up shot, which clearly shows the front WAY high, considering a reversed eye spring and dropped axle.  I selected, after much anguish, a Posies reversed eye, reduced arch spring.  Initially I was going to use a mono-leaf, but was concerned about the reliability of a single leaf, made probably in China, and opted for a US made piece.  I also sectioned, or flattened, the front crossmember 3/4″, so I should be quite a bit lower than it was, and planned “rubber rake” should take care of the rest.

img_0952I bought a quart of acrylic enamel in the color I decided on (you’ll have to wait to see what that is!),  and as soon as I can get a day when I can heat the shop to near 60, I’ll paint the chassis parts, brackets, radius rods, axle, and rear end, the frame, and get the chassis assembled.

It’s exciting!



Yesterday, on a Facebook page devoted to traditional custom cars (we know it’s traditional because they spell it with. “K”), someone posted some photos of several vintage Cadillac customs. Following suit, I posted one of our long gone ’56 convert, a car that really initiated me into the world of “customs”. The car gave me confidence in my abilities and sense of style, I was and still am, proud of it.

Several people then “shared” the photo to their pages, which is flattering. Since I’m a bit of an attention seeker, of course I followed links their pages to see them, and read comments.

Predictably, some of the comments were less than complimentary. “I don’t like the tires”, to “Painted chrome sucks”, and so forth.  Of course my feeling were a little hurt, and I thought, “Really?”  It was the 80’s, and the car was sort of cutting edge at the time.

Several witty and cutting replies came to mind, from “…and the horse you rode in on.”,  to “Let’s see YOUR car”, to some even less refined. I paused for a second before hitting “Return”, which is NOT my usual habit. I must be getting more mature.

This pause made me wonder Why it is that people feel free to express every negative feeling they have in this way? It’s not just the cloak of anonimity of the web, I’ve heard it all in person at car shows and events as well. People seem to think if it’s out in public, their myopic viewpoint needs to be heard, especially in the example of a custom car, by the owner/builder. My wife always cringes when I let these dopes have it car shows, saying it brings me down to their level.

I guess she’s right. From now on, this kind of unconstructive criticism I’ll let slide. It doesn’t matter, I do things for me, not someone else.

And besides, they couldn’t do it anyway…

DSC05020 (1024x768)Being off work while recuperating after my recent shoulder surgery is both good and bad.  Good because I have time (while I’m not supposed to be doing things involving moving my right arm) to socialize with my hot rod pals, and bad because socializing with my hot rod pals makes me itchy to start a new project.  Which, I promised Kim I would NOT do until the chopped ’59 Thunderbird is painted and turned into money to finance said project.

DSC05013 (1024x768)Yesterday morning I drove up to Caledonia to my friend Kirk Brown’s (AKA Crafty B) shop for geezer coffee.  Not only did I get to see the remarkable progress he and Jeff have made on the car (seen at left wearing its fresh coat of powder blue paint), but my friends John Hall and Jeff Bell were there too.  Plus, I got to park up front with the cool kids!

Kirk’s roadster is a former drag car, which sported some of the worst cobbled up, 40-year-old body modifications ever, that he and Jeff have transformed into a work of art.  Kirk makes a living whittling out cast aluminum hot rod parts, and the car is (going to be) a rolling catalogue of the coolest stuff he makes.  From nose to tail, the car is decked with Crafty B parts that give tradition a new, razor-sharp edge.  Check it out:

DSC05018 (1024x768)DSC05019 (1024x768)Not only is the ’32 inspiration for my own next project, but it’s also reaffirming to know I’m not the only guy who has to paint everything twice!  It’s easy to color sand right down to bare metal, isn’t it Jeff?

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As if the roadster getting painted and coming together (in a staggeringly short period of time), the cars in the parking lot added to my lust to start my own roadster project.  I hadn’t seen Jeff Bell’s ’32 three window since he’d painted it in a beautiful shade of red that looks like glossy red oxide primer, and John Hall’s ’34 three window with its fresh flattie.  He’s planning another cross-country trip this summer, and said he was tired of wiping oil slung out of the wheezing engine fogging the windshield.  Too bad he put the hood sides back on!

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Jeff, John and I went to Caledonia for a late breakfast (OK, second breakfast for me!), and I got them to stand still long enough for a picture in front of their cars, and some old fire-truck, to take their picture.

Seeing all this hot rod creativity in one place makes me itch to start on the project in my head, a ’27 roadster on Duece rails, but I promised Kim nothing happens untill the T’Bird is completed and cleared out of the shop.  So, as soon as my arm is up to block sanding and holding a paint gun, it’s going to get done.  In its place, a pile of parts will appear that’ll make me forget about the recently departed ’36 Fordillac, and actually (unlike it) be comfortable and capable of some long distance touring.  The plans are complete, I just need the parts and garage space to build it.

DSC05014 (1024x768)Thanks for the inspiration, and for letting me park with the cool cars up front guys!

DSC04611 (1024x768)It’s hard to keep focused (as evidenced by the slightly blurry picture at left) on what Hot Rodding is supposed to be about.  How it started, why it started, and how the hobby got where it is today.  Go to any cruise night or car show, large or small, around the country, and it’s sometimes hard to pick a “Hot Rod” out of the over-chromed, over-wrought, candy colored (or the 80’s pastel colored, tweed interiored disasters the owners can’t afford to re-do) examples of “If a little is good, too much isn’t enough” cars, art cars, and outright messes called “Rat Rods”.

What is Hot Rodding, anyway?

Dennis Lesky, of “Ionia Rod Shop”, along with the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo, MI, has put together a stunning display of important Hot Rods and Customs, that were trend setters when built, and like true classics of any art form, are still relevant today, that ought to answer the question.

The backdrops for the cars are covers of the iconic “HOT ROD” magazine, which, like the cars, still exists today, and while it may struggle in the new electronic media age, still manages to hold on to its roots, and is still relevant.  The stunning examples of Tom Fritz’s Hot Rod oriented artwork, blown up to life-size,  accentuate the cars, and bring them to life.  Brilliant.

It’s an inspiring display, and there is guaranteed to be a car there that made an impression on  you as a child, that set the hook and reeled you in.   If you’re not a “car guy”,  there’s one that will do so now.  Cotton Werksman’s “T” is the one that did it for me, back in the late 60’s or early 70’s in “Rod & Custom”, and my jaw dropped when I saw it in the flesh.

I promised Kim I wasn’t going to start another car until the T’Bird is finished and sold.  I’m sticking to that promise, but the seed was planted for that next project after seeing this collection of cars.

Enjoy the pictures, and better yet, make a trip to the Gilmore Museum, and get back to what Hot Rodding is supposed to be.

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DSC04161 (1024x768)Continuing our trend of visiting friends shops rather than getting anything done in our own,  we start the new year by visiting “Crafty B Nostalgic Speed” near Caledonia, MI. 

Kirk Brown, aka “Crafty B”, is shown here holding his latest creation, a cast aluminum ’32 Ford grill, and it’s screen inserts, up to his ’32 roadster project.  The car, a long forgotten X-drag strip warrior from the ’60’s, is being brought back to life in Kirk’s shop.  The grill shell is the latest in his line of  cool cast aluminium goodies that he markets.  This car will also sport his own Hallock style windshield, although we didn’t get to see it.  The parts are being cast a local foundry Kirk uses.

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Above left, Kirk examines the rear of the much abused ’32’s body, which he relieved of a set of bobbed fenders that had been welded to the quarters.  While it’s fairly rust free, it suffered from a casual approach to metalwork in the past.  In addition to the welded on and mudded in fenders, the car had been channeled by hacking the floor and subrails out with a torch, and rear quarters pushed outward by about 4 inches, again by  just torching away the factory bracing and pushing the sides out with a jack.  Never fear, Kirk and his friends are getting the body squared up, braced up, and getting it ready for street by spring.

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Shown above is his ’32 three window, again saved from a former life of drag strip abuse, having more or less been wadded up into a ball and left for dead.  It too will sport LOTS of one-off aluminum goodies from Kirk’s inventive parts inventory, including the replica E&J headlights, matching tailights, an absolutely beautiful tilt steering set up.  In addition to those bits, the car will sport a 6.71 blown Buick nailhead engine and a 5 speed.   Like the trunk-lid?  Kirk also punches louvers on a (naturally), home-grown louver press. 

DSC04159 (1024x768)It’s always fun to visit Kirk’s shop, whether it’s during his every-Friday morning  “Geezer Coffee” and shop open-house, or any weekday when he and his friends are working on the latest projects.  There’s always guys dropping in to help out, get work done on their own, or his projects.  That’s what Hot Rodding really is, good friends getting together to turn neglected junk, and bits of metal into works of art.

Thanks for the welcom, and the  inspiration Kirk!


Posted: February 22, 2011 in Hot Rod, Roadsters

I’ve got jeans, favorite car t-shirts, underwear and socks packed, the roadster is clean and strapped down in the trailer, the truck will be insured tomorrow, so I guess it’s SHOWTIME!!  I’m heading for Detroit on Wed. for the Autorama!

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  If that’s true, a thousand words without a picture is sort of wasted, which is what I realize the last post was.  I didn’t show the actual riser I made, so here’s a remedy for that.   The upholstery looks winkled because;

a)  It’s not attached to the seat foam, just laying on it, and;

b) I had to trim the foam a little to narrow the cushion.

  I’ll simply add a little poly batting behind the leather, and pull the cover tight and attatch it to the plywood base I need to add.  Batting will crush when the doors are close, but fill out the cover when the doors are open.  The seat cushion needs a base frame, to hold it in place in the sheet metal pan.  The battery is under the seat, where it was originally, so the cushion has to be “loose” in the frame for access when service is needed.

Here’s a shot showing the Guide turn signal I saved from the ’48 Pontiac…

…and this one showing the really cool Diamond T horn button, which I’ll have my name engraved into.  When ordered new, Diamond T engraved the owners name, after the words, “This Diamond T custom built for…”  Pretty sweet!  Thanks to “Banjeauxbob” from the HAMB!