Archive for the ‘Squarebird’ Category

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Progress on two fronts today! Finished up the floor repair in the Riviera, got that all primed, And, got the Lincoln door buttons in the ’59 T ‘bird too! I’m super stoked about both projects, the ‘bird looks great with the smooth, handle-less Lincoln door buttons and it’s nice to not see the shop floor through the Rvi ‘s floor pans.

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'47 Spartan Manor

’47 Spartan Manor

I moved the ’47 Spartan up from its hiding place way back in the woods, next to the temporary garage the Tini-Home is taking its long winter nap in.  Here, it’s possible to run extension cords from the shop to start pulling the panels out (I’ll save the corner panels for patterns), and it’s close to a brush pile, to dispose of said panels.  It’s exciting planning the work and the new interior.

Continuing the planning and getting ready for work, I moved the T’Bird over in the shop to the opposite side, where I can work on the driver’s side, as opposed to it being up against the junk covered bench on the other side.  In doing so, I was painfully aware of a major styling gaff I was overlooking before.  The newly shortened roof exposes what had been the old package shelf area.  This is about 6 inches now outside the rear window, and while it looks natural with the roof off, it looks wrong with the top on.  So, I think I’ll have to pull the tonneau cover off, shorten it, weld the cut off rear section the body, and create a new lip for the back edge.  I sort of hate to cut into this finished panel,  but I think it’s going to make a big difference in the look of the car when it’s painted and done.

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Bumper bolts, that is.  I decided today that a custom should not have the heads of bumper bolts showing, so I spent most of the afternoon shaving the front bumper.  Straightened out a little tweak in the right side bottom rail, which deformed the grill opening enough to look a little off, and kept the grill form-fitting easily.  A couple of hours with the Port-O-Power got that much closer, and I was so inspired I straightened out a couple of slightly tweaked grill bars.  It looks OK, so I think it’s good to go, albeit with a little more work.

The front bumper looks so good, I’ll have to give the rear a closer shave as well, it’s got WAY too many holes in it.That’s a project for another day.  I thought I’d get some filler on the bumper today, but didn’t get too it.  Lot’s of winter left for fabrication…

Now you see it...

Now you see it…

 

Now you don't...

Now you don’t…

 

A little more dental work in order for the grill...

A little more dental work in order for the grill…

 

Now I have to fill all the holes in this!

Now I have to fill all the holes in this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day three of fitting, cutting, welding, fitting, and re-fitting of the ‘Birds front bumper.   Hard to believe the amount of work to get the bumper to actually FIT the body, but the difference will be worth it.

Now it FITS.

Now it FITS.

 

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The gauntlet has been thrown.  Two other guys on the HAMB message board building custom Squarebirds, are considering showing at Autorama in Detroit for 2015.  One of them a pro-built car that inspired me to get busy on this and finish it up.  Never one to back away from a challenge, I took this as a challenge to get the car done, and finished to a level that’ll make it worthy of showing off with some rarefied company.

Not to give anything away, but a teaser of PART of the proposed trio of cool…

Eric Blacks artwork

Eric Blacks artwork

Mine, as of now…

Full Custom sled version.

Full Custom sled version.

 

So, let the thrash begin.  See you in Detroit!

 

It’s probably even more boring looking at photos of welds, than it is running dozens of feet of weld on one panel, and then grinding them down, but it’s this monotonous work that makes a difference.

Today I finished up the welding on the much modified front bumper, and then ground all the welds down. I spent about 6 hours at it, enough that now, my back aches from hunching over the bumper, and my hands are achey from holding the grinder. The bumper however, looks great!

Tomorrow I’ll pull the bumper off and straighten out the lip on the valance panel between the hood and bumper, It has some damage I didn’t get all worked out the first time around. Now, with the bumper tucked up close, the imperfect gap is quite apparent. I’ll make it right this time.

Imperfect gap from damaged valance panel is very apparent here...

Imperfect gap from damaged valance panel is very apparent here…

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One of my friends from the HAMB did a photoshop image of my T’bird a couple weeks ago, with the bumper fitted flush to the body, gapped like a door or deck lid. This, you may recall from an earlier post here, but if not, it got rid of ugly, 3/4″ gap the factory thought was acceptable between body and bumper. I’d trimmed the bumper in an attempt to make it fit better, but it was still wrong.

After, courtesy of James D.'s photoshop skill.

After, courtesy of James D.’s photoshop skill.

A false start yesterday towards accomplishing this feat of metal magic left me with no cut-off wheels, no shielding gas for the MIG welder, and no 02 in my torch set. That left me with plenty of time to plow the drive, my folk’s drive, and gas up the GMC, but I got nothing done on the ‘Bird other than set on a stool and stare at it, trying to figure out how to do what had seemed so easy in photoshop.

Today, I made progress. A trip to Tractor Supply re-stocked my gas and hardware, and I got busy cutting up the bumper.

I cut the top lip off, all the way along. The bumper was then hung on the car, leveled and centered. I decided the bumper needed to tilt forward a bit more than stock, to better match the new headlight eyebrows, so I simply let it fall forward and down about an inch on the mounts. They have slotted holes for adjustment, so this part was easy.

Bumper mounted, sans top lip.

Bumper mounted, sans top lip.

I cut some reliefs in the corners, and at the rear, so as to allow me to bend the metal to fit the body, and to follow the line of the wheel opening. Which it didn’t before. Then, I cut the top lip, now a separate piece, into six sections. Each end, the transition curve from end to the center, and two center sections. I started tacking the lip onto the bumper, with spacers of the same gauge steel, back onto the bumper. The gap ranged from half an inch at the rear of each bumper end, to an inch and an eighth at the center, the result of tilting the bumper down and forward.

A little gap to fill.

A little gap to fill.

Fitting the bumper back together.

Fitting the bumper back together.

Gap filled.

Gap filled.

When the pieces were all fitted and tacked in, I ground the welds down the right side, to see how it’d look, and compare it to the artwork that inspired all this work. I think the end result is great, again subtle, but very different from how it came from Ford in 1959. A few hours welding up the seams, then a few more grinding disks to cut the weld beads down, and little skim of filler should have it looking like it should have to begin with.

What do you think?

Looks like an Angry Bird.

Looks like an Angry Bird.

This fits MUCH better.

This fits MUCH better.

The bumper now completes the wheel opening, flush fitting.

The bumper now completes the wheel opening, flush fitting.

Looks like James's rendering now!

Looks like James’s rendering now!

It’s the coldest weather we’ve had this year, and it’s supposed to last another two weeks. I and the rest of the Cool McCool’s Garage team could have gone to New Orleans, Las Vegas, to Florida, or even to Melbourne AU to visit family and escape the cold, but NO, we stayed here in frigid Michigan. Instead of lounging on the beach in Florida, staying at a swanky resort in Vegas, eating red beans and rice in NOLA, or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I’m here, sanding the quarter panels of the T’Bird.

I must be crazy.

That may be, but when it’s done, I’ll have a cool car!

Pleased with the results of my hard work so far, the car is almost ready for primer. I’m very happy with the Caddy headlights, the reshaped quarter panels look like they should have been that way in the first place.

Just what customizing should be. Subtle, but significant changes that enhance the cars lines.

Quarter panel ready for primer.  Almost.

Quarter panel ready for primer. Almost.

Scowling.

Scowling.

Left side.  It even matches the right!

Left side. It even matches the right!

Somebody should clean up the shop.

Somebody should clean up the shop.

Oh, the humanity. New Years eve, or rather, early New Years morning we were stricken with the dreaded Noro-virus, the 24 hour bug, or in the common vernacular, the pukes. We’ll spare you the details, but the acute misery lasted from about 3 am until 3 in the afternoon. After that, some clear liquids finally stayed put, and late in the evening, a cup of soup tasted pretty good.

Called in to work the next day as well and kept a pretty low profile, and even today, we are not completely “normal”, whatever that is. Once the outside temp got above zero though, a fire was stoked up in the Cool McCool’s Garage shop, and the T’bird got some love. The front bumper is now delightfully devoid of any turn signal/park light holes, and looks great.

Look Ma! No holes!

Look Ma! No holes!

Smooth as a baby's bottom now.

Smooth as a baby’s bottom now.

While the shop was warming up, the old GMC started right up and we got the driveway plowed out. By the time that was finished, it was a balmy 50 degrees inside, MUCH better than the outside temp of 13. Brrrr.

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Cool McCool's World Headquarters.

Cool McCool’s World Headquarters.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

The might '76 GMC.  Just rolled over 20K miles.  Nicely broken in.  2wd with chains.  Who needs 4wd?

The might ’76 GMC. Just rolled over 20K miles. Nicely broken in. 2wd with chains. Who needs 4wd?

Tomorrow we’re supposed to get a little break in the weather with a high near 30, then back into the deep freeze next week with single digit temps for highs. We may have to open a southern branch office…

While the snow fell on my ’51 Pontiac, moved outdoors so as not to get it completely trashed by grinding dust and dirt, I got the windshield trough DONE, the rear bumpers completely welded, and got started grinding the miles of welds down on the rest of the body changes.

It’s tedious, but it’s got to be done.

I also stood back and admired the car’s new lines, and I have to say I REALLY like it. I think the profile is much improved, everything flows nicely and the new work compliments the tonneau cover. It’s going to be great.

Now, more grinding…

3/4 right rear.

3/4 right rear.

Tonneau cover flows into trunk lid.

Tonneau cover flows into trunk lid.

Windshield trough done.

Windshield trough done.

Reshaping the dash pads.

Reshaping the dash pads.

Wagon out in the cold.

Wagon out in the cold.