Archive for the ‘Scrap metal’ Category

The original "Cool McCool"

The original “Cool McCool”

Let me start by saying that I’m a sucker for a bargain, so when my friend Butch said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that old motor home, I can’t even give it away for scrap.”, he got my attention. When he elaborated, and said it was on a GMC chassis, had only fourteen thousand miles on the clock, had a 454, and would give it away if someone (me) would get it out of his yard, where it had sat, unused and not driven, for 12 years, he reeled me in.

With my dad riding shotgun, and to follow me home, I went to Butch’s place with a battery and little expectation that it would fire up and run. I figured it wouldn’t start, that the 454 was probably seized, or there was so much damage from the tree he said had fallen on it, that it wouldn’t be worth the effort (of course it wasn’t, but I didn’t see that then!).

To my complete amazement, when we hooked up the battery, it turned over about 5 times and fired right up. Of course with the 12-year-old gas in it didn’t run GOOD, but it ran well enough move under its own power, the trans shifted gear, and it rolled forward and back, on three flat tires no less. The tree that had come down in it during an ice storm last winter had poked a small hole in the fiberglass body over the windshield, and cracked the driver’s side of the huge windshield. True, there was a serious leak even though Butch had tried to patch it up as best he could, but there was a dish pan on the sofa to catch the drip that was overflowing, the cabinets over the sofa were already rotted, and there were mushrooms growing in the carpeting. It smelled like homemade sin, mice and squirrels had moved in, filling drawers and cabinets with walnuts and smelly nests of insulation. Black mold clouded the fabric ceiling, and water dripped from places suspiciously far from the damaged on the roof.

We have a ’47 Spartan Manor trailer project in the wings, and while the motor home was a mess, it was FILLED with stuff we could (I thought) use. A nice 8 cubic foot RV fridge that fired right up on propane, a 3 burner stove and oven, microwave, two roof air conditioners, water and waste tanks, lighting fixtures, and beautiful walnut raised panel cabinets that I thought I could re-purpose and put in my enclosed car trailer, which needs storage. Not to mention the 454 which rumbled to life so quickly after its long slumber, belching skunky exhaust, popping and farting trying to run on varnished fuel.

I headed for home with it, actually excited, head full of dreams and all the fun it would be tearing into it. I’ve always used complete cars or trucks for donor vehicles for hot rods, and this would be just a little bigger, but with more useable stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

The first thing to wrong was that only one of the A/C units worked. No big deal, we only need one. The second, and what has really killed this thing was that the fiberglass and foam body was, and is, not recyclable, and not easy nor cheap to dispose of. Kim decreed that she doesn’t want modern looking appliances, we don’t need a big microwave/convection oven, and the fridge, which did work on propane, didn’t on the electric side, and was deemed by an RV fridge service guy, who fixed the faulty relay and got it working fine for only $40, to be leaking ammonia, and fixing it would cost as much as a new fridge.


In addition, in my excitement to find a use for the 454, which runs really well on fresh gas, I initially thought I’d build a cool COE transport truck, based on our friend Diana’s awesome ’39 Diamond T 509 she had built to haul her restored orchard tractors to shows. Kim was against this idea, despite her going with me to see the Diamond T COE cab I found, and while I discounted her lack of enthusiasm, when all my hot rodder pals said they thought it was a dumb idea (“But Brian, what are you gonna DO with it?”, was the universal response), I eventually gave up on that plan, and conceived good plan (or, Bad Idea #2) to put the 454 to good use. I bought not one, but two ’63 Buick Rivera’s, to have one be a home for the engine. My plan was to sell one immediately to recoup the purchase price, then drop the 454 between the frame rails, get it running and driving, and sell it as a “rat” semi-custom, and let the happy new owner do the cosmetics, or not.

Bare naked lady.

Bare naked lady.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for it's new heart.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Anybody see a problem here?

So here we are. It’s mid October, there’s a Riviera project car that Kim is actually enthused about, and wants as her own. Great, except we all know a late 80’s carb’d 454 in today’s world is a poor choice for economy or power, so I spent all the money I got for the 2nd Riviera on an LS 5.3 and 4L60E to put in Kim’s car. Since we’re keeping it, that means bodywork, paint, interior, and having it nice, with A/C, cruise, all the stuff that makes a car comfortable to drive, and expensive to build. Sigh…

The Rivieras new power plant!  5.3 LS and 4L60.

The Rivera’s new power plant! 5.3 LS and 4L60.

The motor home chassis is STILL here, I haven’t been enthused enough about tearing into it to get the engine out. I did move it yesterday from the side yard (where everyone driving down our busy rural road could see it, and probably soon start complaining to the township), to the front of the garage where I’m slowly getting ready to disembowel it. I salvaged a couple hundred feet of stranded 12 and 14 gauge wire for future projects, miles of black plastic wire loom, and whatever else I could.

I’m going to drive it over to my dad’s shop this morning, 34 feet of bare chassis and motor home floor, and pull the engine there (it’s too wide to nose into my shop and use my cherry picker) with the overhead crane. Then, I’ll drag the chassis to the metal recycler, where all that cool stuff that would make a killer ramp truck (hydraulic level system, air bag suspension, A/C that still blows cold, cruise that works, 19.5 wheels and tires etc) and recoup a little for the labor involved. The body I’m cutting up into little pieces and putting in our garbage can a few at a time, we’re about a third of the way to getting rid of all of it, and the walnut cabinetry, which turned out to be not useable either, is on the brush pile.   At least we’ll get an evening’s entertainment later this fall on a chilly night as a bonfire.

The 454 a buddy wants for his ’55 Chevy gasser project, and is going to swap a set of beautiful 15″ Dayton knock-off wire wheels and tires for it, which of course means I will have to build a car around them.  They will be perfect for the car I’ve been planning and building in my head for a while, a ’27 highboy roadster, track style, dropped floor, fenderless, track nosed.  At least with the 454 gone, I’ll be forced to use a sensible engine for that!

Maybe something like this?

Maybe something like this?

In my youth, I’m sure I’d still be enthused about the entire deal, and it has been sort of fun, although I admit the amount of work was, and still is, sort of daunting. Now, my 60th birthday is right around the corner, and it’s a bit more difficult to keep the enthusiasm up, even though we’ll come out OK, and have a really cool Riviera for Kim to park beside my chopped T’bird (OK, two if count the ’27 highboy modified style roadster those Dayton’s are the foundation for…).

It never ends!

It’s been in the  upper 70’s to mid 80’s here all week, the grass is green, the trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming.   You might expect the warm weather has resulted in huge progress on the main project here, the “Tini-Home”, but just like our shop watch dog is doing, I’ve taken time to stop and smell the flowers.   What fun would spring be if I spent it all in a tiny little trailer inside a messy shop?

Yesterday I had big plans.  I was going to help Dad replace some shingles on the shop roof, pull the snow-thrower off the tractor and put the mower on.  I was going to get the trailer out of the shop to work outside, finish up the interior trim, maybe get a coat of varnish on,  get the wiring finished up and clean up around the shop.   Lots to do!

So,  I got out and went over bright and early to get started.  Happily, he had other plans, and said we could do that (the roof) some other day.   I had driven the GMC in order to haul away the junk.  To pull the trailer out and get to work, I needed a trailer hitch, which meant it needed a rear bumper.  One thing lead to another, I ended up spending most of the day building a bumper for that.  Not on a list of urgent “need to get done NOW” things, but it had been somewhere on the list.

I had the massive aluminum channel,  a 5/8’s thick 12″x4″ slab,  that had been the front bumper on the Diamond T,  two 7′ long pieces of 9×3 quarter-inch steel that had been the frame reinforcements on the GMC in its former, stretched state, and the hitch receiver that had been on its rear bumper.  All this was whipped up into what I think is a pretty neat, practical, and very purposeful looking bumper for the GMC. 

I’d had to rebuild the ancient Quadrajet on Tuesday (called off from work), as it was flooding and leaking fuel, and gotten an actual exhaust system under the truck, so it runs great and is actually quiet enough to have a conversation  (the conversations usually run toward the “What’s that smell?”) with unlucky passengers, usually Kim.  It seemed important to get a bumper on it.  This was also a good excuse to get the ’36 out, wash it and go for a ride to Tractor Supply to get the 3/4×3″  grade 8 bolts that I needed to hold the bumper on.  And just drive around a little in the warm sunshine with the top down!

The trailer did get some attention too, between all the goofing around.  I had to figure out how to make the slightly curved small side window fit the flat side.  It had over a half-inch of “bow” at the center.  I simply cut partially through the aluminum channel frame and pushed the window flat, being careful not to push too hard and shatter the tempered glass.  That worked great, it fits much better.

Next up, I needed to figure out how to attach the window, and the big front window, to the trailer body.  They had aluminum trim/retainer rings, but these were intended for a different wall thickness, and the black-coated trims didn’t look “right” in the vintage interior.  I ended up making some retainer trims from the same quarter-inch paneling as the interior, which worked great and fit the style.  Most of the other interior trim is done as well, so hopefully by tomorrow afternoon the interior will be all finished up and varnished. 

Today’s plans call for a trip to the metal recycler to get rid of the scrap metal, a stop at the landscape store for a truckload of mulch for Dad,  work on the interior of the trailer, and then the Gilmore Garage Works.  Busy day here at CMcC’s Garage, better get moving.  Just like Ari, I seem to have a short span of attention…

The answer is, $312.68, if you  strip it, then push it into the woods and leave it for 20 years!  

On Wednesday I borrowed a neighbors skid steer and loaded the sad remains of this on my buddy’s car trailer (it’s good to have friends who have equipment!) and hauled it to the metal recycler.  It was so rusted it broke into three pieces, the front half, the rear half, and the driver’s side of the cowl and door.  That didn’t matter over the scales, as it and the rest of the scrap metal I could pile around it brought $312.68 at the going rate of $190/ton.   The increase in property value alone was worth the effort, let alone the extra money, which I’m going to spend on a new aluminum radiator for the ’36 Fordillac. 

I should’ve taken some photos, especially of the skid steer stuck in the field behind the garage. I’m lucky to have gotten out without borrowing a REALLY big tractor!