Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

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It’s now March 41st, our 98th day of state mandated “shelter-in-place” here in Michigan, after a month of self imposed sequestration.  (Only kidding, it’s really some day in April, or maybe May, I’m no longer sure).  What I know, and appreciate more than anything right now, is the fact that auto repair has been deemed an “essential” activity, I have a Visa card, Speedway, Jegs, Summit Racing and even Amazon Prime have warehouses stocked up with ’52 DeSoto parts I need and UPS and  FedEx trucks are making deliveries.

70242021_10220759892929812_3824282547290898432_nMany of you know that our ’51 Pontiac wagon was totaled last August by some knuckle-dragger who rear-ended it while our son Craig was turning left into his grandmothers driveway.  The car wasn’t repairable (even if it had been, I wouldn’t have wanted it after that), Craig was injured, requiring surgery and the young woman he was pushed into was also hospitalized. When the dust settled and we began the search for a replacement it turned out to be more difficult than I t though.  I found lots of cool old cars that I would have bought, but Kim, rightfully, insisted on another station wagon.

81224098_487308888641585_7682498020574756864_nWe began looking at CraigsList ads, eBay, Hemmings, Bring a Trailer, FB marketplace, the HAMB classifieds, and FB friends joined in, sending me links to cool wagons they found from all over.  One of the ones a friend sent was this, a CraigsList ad from Minnesota for this ’52 DeSoto wagon.   This is the best photo the guy had on the ad, the description was vague, he didn’t respond to the first couple of messages I sent, and never sent any more photos when I asked.

The story was sketchy as well, he’d had the car for 10 years, never had it running, had gotten it from someone who’d done some work but he was unsure, or unwilling, to say what had been done, what the condition was now, and, to top it off, he had moved and the car was 5 hours away from him, in the very western part of Minnesota at his brothers place.  Who wanted it gone.

After a couple of weeks of trying to get more info and photos, continuing the search, I finally got a little response, still not what I was very comfortable with, but we decided we’d make the 660 mile trip to get it, and if it wasn’t worth bringing home, we’d simply not pick up the U-Haul trailer I rented in that MN town, come home and keep looking for the right car.

What’s a couple of days when you’re retired, right?

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When we got to New Ulm, the owner got ahold of me and said he wasn’t going to be able to drive from Madison WI, but to go ahead and meet his brothers at the property, and they’d have it ready.  Evidently his communication with them wasn’t any better, they were surprised that he didn’t make it too, but had gotten the car out of the shed it was in, washed it, replaced a flat tire that wouldn’t hold air, and helped get it up onto the trailer.

It was better in many ways than I’d anticipated, the body looked amazingly rust free, although it sports what has to be one of the worst home-grown paint jobs I’ve ever seen.  The color, brindle brown and tan, is the best part of it, and even that is awful.  Whoever did it went to a staggering amount of  work to do the worst paint job in the world, the engine had been out, and looked like it had new gaskets, everything clean and detailed but dirty from setting, and it has the original interior.  The chrome is as bad as the photos hinted, none of the die-cast, pot-metal trim is repairable, and the huge bumpers are dull under the spray bomb silver.  It had all been removed, painted and replaced though, I admired the effort if not the end result.

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I got busy as soon as it was off the trailer, and got the 276 running by simply adjusting the dual points in the dual point distributor.  They were set incorrectly, it had no spark, which is why the guy never could get it running.  I believe the engine was rebuilt, it has a new carb, starter, generator, fuel pump, all the ignition wires, coil, etc., are all new, and the engine does have new gaskets, even head gaskets, that are not painted over.  It was never run, but it fired up instantly after 20 minutes of tinkering.

Even so, it wasn’t up to what we’re going to use the car for, particularly the awful Fluid Drive and 4 speed, vacuum shift “Gyro-Matic” transmission, so out it came, and I bought the 2018 Chrysler 345 (5.7) Hemi seen above, with it’s HP70 8 speed transmission from a Challenger.  I found out that I couldn’t use the factory wiring harness from the donor car, and bought a MOPAR Crate Hemi wiring harness, and a stand alone transmission controller.  That came from an aftermarket supplier, Chrysler doesn’t support this 8 speed transmission in non-factory applications.  The workaround is expensive, but it’s out there.

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87391868_10222525239902383_54373847880695808_nI’d initially thought I’d use the cars original front suspension, add disk brakes and dropped spindles, but the power steering was huge, bizarre linkage, and would have cost more than simply replacing it.  So, that’s what I did.  The new suspension is from “Speedway Motors”, a “Heidt’s” crossmember, tubular upper and lower control arms, Mustang II style spindles with GM style 11″ rotors and calipers, a T’bird power rack.  I made my own front frame stub, had had the car up on the Salt Flat wheels I’d bought for the ’59 T’bird and never used.

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At the rear is a 2001 Ford Explorer 8.8″ rear, 3.73 gears, Limited Slip, and disk brakes.  I put it 2″ blocks, the ride height is just about perfect on the stock springs.  Those still have their factory sheet metal jackets, are greasy and look good to go as is.  The cardboard skirts are a nice touch too, don’t you think?

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One of the first things I bought after getting the car home was this ’59 Imperial grill.  The original DeSoto grill teeth are, in my opinion, awful, and the chrome was gone.  I thought this echoed the “toothy” look, the chrome is pretty nice, I like the horizontal grill bars behind it, and it fits the opening perfectly.  I also bought the missing rocker moldings and a decent driver quality chrome gravel shield for the left rear fender.  I mocked up the front sheet metal the other day to fit the grill, and make sure inner fenders cleared the new engine.  They didn’t of course, but only needed some minor trimming to make it look like the 5.7 was made for a ’52 DeSoto.

The heavy stock bumpers are not going back on, I’m thinking ’49-’50 Chevy bumpers would look much lighter and won’t break the bank.

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I picked a color called “Dark Garnet Pearl” from “Kirker” paints in single stage urethane, and got the firewall painted the other day.  The wiring is started, note the new PCM on the firewall.  The battery will move to the right front inner fender, behind the core support.  The car came with a new “Rhode Island Wire” wiring harness in the correct linen wrapping, so I’ll use that for the lighting and original parts of the car, the engine’s harness is self contained and you can see all that will show of it in this photo.  The PCM I think I’ll make a cover for to disguise it as maybe part of the original ventilation system, which actually was in the spot it now occupies.

93021960_10222949267302803_1145373975757455360_oI have a “Vintage Air” heat/cool/defrost unit that arrived yesterday, That fit up behind the dash with a little trim on the lower lip.  I’ll have to lose the factory lower dash valance panel, but the slim vent cover, seen here, occupies much of that space, and actually looks pretty good.  There’s a complete extra dash which has all the missing trim I need, a radio delete plate and prettier gauges, so it’ll all get nicely finished.

I’m very happy with the dial shifter, mounted on the dash here where the ashtray had been, and proud of the little fiberglass bezel I made for that.  I tried to make that mimic the instrument pod bezel, which will all be painted body color.  The steering column was an extra bit the guy had, it is from a ’54.  I think I’ll leave the shift lever on as a disguise.  The wheel is beautiful, translucent ivory plastic with just one minor crack.

This is how I’m dealing with my enforced social isolation.  I’d actually be doing much the same, but I am ordering things, parts, that I’d have simply run to the auto parts store for before.  I’m sure that when this Covid crisis is over, life will be different, drastically different for some, but we’ll adapt.  We’re fortunate (Kim just retired at the beginning of this crisis) to not have to worry about our jobs, financially we’re secure, but we do miss our friends and most of all, or family and grandson Milo.

This will pass, and when it’s all over, I’ll find some other project.  That Hemi under the bench is calling, it wants to be used in a hot rod, maybe a Model A couple on ’32 rails…

 

 

I’m approaching my 64th birthday in a couple of weeks, Thanksgiving is coming right up, and I’m pretty thankful for my wonderful family,  beautiful grandson, great home with a (semi) warm shop, a collection of some pretty neat cars, a couple of fun projects, time to devote to them, and a wife who supports this obsession of mine.

The Riviera is coming along pretty well, the brake conversion is done.  I got the correct pins, and the spindles and brakes are on the car for good.  Lines are next, and the new master cylinder needs to go in.  I pulled the original gas tank, and have the poly ’93 Cadillac tank that was under our old ’48 Pontiac convertible to replace the original.  A new sending unit and Walbro fuel pump compatible with the pressure requirements of the LS is an easy swap, then lines for that, and the car will be, hopefully, a runner.  It turns over with the key, all the systems are “hot”, so I think I’m getting close.

I’m very happy with the headlight installation behind the parking lamp towers in the fenders, it’s a HUGE improvement of the clunky, last minute botch the factory did with them in the grill.  The ’65 finally got the clamshell lights, and the clean grill (I used a ’65 grill), but this will be a good, low dollar substitute for that one year only, complicated and hard to find conversion.

I used the headlight buckets that came out of the ’59 Thunderbird (which were replaced by ’63 Cadillac units), the were on the shelf, complete with the Halogen bulbs.  I’d originally thought of new projector style bulbs, but they ‘re expensive, they’d be hard to adapt and make the adjusters for, and might look odd behind the lenses.  This seems to be a more sensible approach to what’s going to be a period style car.

Happy Holidays everyone, get out in the shop and make something!

 

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Wow.  It’s October 3rd already.  Where did the summer go?  What happened, and why didn’t I get all the things done I thought would be childs play back in April?

To review, as shown above, I got the roadster (sort of) finished, and drove it.  A LOT.  And fixed it a little, but mostly, drove it.

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We went camping.  A LOT,  8 weeks all told, including a great 2 week trip in northern Michigan the past couple of weeks.  It was great to be away.

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We explored lots of new (to us) wineries, brewpubs and distilleries.  Here we are, with Kim’s sister Julie and her husband Ken, at “Glass Creek” Wines in Hastings, right in our backyard.  GREAT Michigan red wines, a nice surprise!

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We went to a couple of cool car shows.  Here at Gilmore Car Museum at the “Relix Riot”, being chauffeured by my grandson Milo.  Time well spent.

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Spent more quality time with Milo, still at Relix Riot, here with his dad’s wagon.  They surprised us by showing up!

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Oh, I did get the wagon painted, and a new exhaust system after it blew out one of the original 10 year old mufflers on the way to Port Crescent.  For more camping.

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Changed the wheels and tires on the ’34, and managed to keep them from falling off.  Which puts a kink in a romantic evening cruise…

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Went to world premier movies and skyped with Hollywood elite.  Originally from Flint.  As part of the crowd, but, hey, it counts.

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Bought lift tickets and rolled down a ski hill on a wheeled cart.  Doing that again!

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Saw beautiful sunsets and mastered the art of being in two places at once.  That’s me, left, and right.

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Got marooned on a deserted island with our best friends, and was rescued in time to go to a dance.

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Got a cat.

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Did manage to (almost) get the T’bird painted.  I did get it blocked, primed, and blocked again, now, one more coat, more sanding, then I think it’s possible I can get at least the dash and door jambs painted.  Or not, doesn’t really matter.

So, that’s where summer goes.  It seems like it’ll never get here in February, but before you know it, it’s October, and winter is closing in again.  The seasons fly, but they’re full of fun, family, and friends, and that’s the most important part of the whole year.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come, it’s early, and it’ll be summer again before we know it!

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It’s always good to lead with a pun, right?  The past month has been a whirlwind of activity, and life has gotten in the way, but finally I think I’m through the stress and have gotten back on the “fun” stuff.

The wagon, which you’ll remember I’d gotten the rust repairs done over a month ago, has been stalled.  We missed my (seemingly easy) deadline of having it ready for the Milford TCT Spring Rally (vintage trailer gathering), and the Muskegon rally last weekend, but today I finally got primer on it.  I’d thought I’d be shooting primer Monday, but found a soft spot on the drivers front fender, down low, behind the rocker molding,  made a patch for that, got the body work finished this morning and 4 double wet coats of high-build primer on this afternoon.

I’m happy with how it looks, although I discovered some pinholes in the filler on both sides, something I’ve never had happen before.  I bought high end, expensive finish filler, so maybe I’m better with the cheap stuff!  It’ll mean a skim coat of some polyester finish putty, but I have to block it all out, prime again, and then a guide coat, so it’s really no big deal.

I think the skirts are killer.

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In other news, we’ve given up on the  period correct Frigidaire fridge in the Spartan trailer, it just doesn’t get cold and stay cold.  We had it converted to propane, and it’s never done a good job.  Well, it’s cold as long as the ambient temps are below 70, but seldom can we rely on that in the midwest in summer, so, it’s going away.  In it’s place, will go an early 50’s GE fridge, that we’ll keep electric only, with it’s original compressor.  I bought it here in Kalamazoo from a nice hot rodder guy who follows me on Instagram.  Plugged it in when we unloaded it and in 2 hours the cabinet temp was 20.5!  I had it cranked WAY up, so I dialed the thermostat down, and it’s humming along a 34 right now.

New gaskets are on the way for the door, and I’ll fix some minor damage to the door tomorrow and get it ready for a new coat of shiny white enamel from Tractor Supply that I have on hand.  I put a 2000 watt inverter in the trailer last fall, so we can run it on the battery (the inverter converts 12V to 110V) while towing and the car or truck alternator will keep the battery charged.  A solar charger and one more coach battery would enable us to go entirely solar and still have the fridge, although we couldn’t use the AC.  It’s going to be a HUGE improvement.

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The ’34 has been running great, I’ve put about 700 miles on it, enough to have the cheap reproduction Harley speedometer (junk to begin with) stop working, the old SW vacuum gauge to stop working (hole in the diaphragm), and tonight, the brake lights to not work.  I also discovered the play in the steering, which I’d blamed on the cheap, reproduction Vega steering box, but turned to be the cheap, off-shore made pitman arm which was slightly thinner than the box was made to use.  That meant the nut didn’t tighten the arm down on the shaft completely, leaving some “slop” between the steering box shaft and steering arm.  Scary.

I “fixed” that with a couple of flat washers that were in the bolt bin, and the car drives like a slot car  now.  I’ll keep my on that Vega box, they have a reputation for being sloppy and wearing quickly, but for now, it seems like it’s all good.  There are always some bugs to work out, but overall, it’s great.

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Our son Craig and his wife Kathleen bought a ’65 Ford Ranch wagon earlier this  spring, and I helped them wire it for a trailer lights, installed a brake controller, fixed the power steering pump and put a new high performance radiator and new hoses in ahead of the sweet running 352.  It looks pretty nice as is, I’ll do a little rust repair this winter for them on the rear fenders and rocker panels, and blend the paint.  It’s got a pretty decent “used car lot” repaint from decades ago that polished up pretty well, and they want the car to be a funky, driver type car, so that makes it easy for me.

We gave them the little “Tini-Home” canned ham trailer, they’ve already used it once, we hope it’ll give them years of family fun, just like it has for us!

So, lots of activity here a Cool McCool’s Garage.  We’ve been to a couple of cruise nights with the roadster, and a weekend of vintage camping with our friends at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon.  June is half over, but summer has just begun!

 

Today’s task was to go to AutoZone and spend my Christmas money on transmission fluid, wax, hand buffing compound, tire cleaner, wheel cleaner, fuses, and other miscellaneous stuff.  (Of course I didn’t get a three prong flasher, number one on the list…).  I added 2 quarts of trans fluid, and backed it out of the garage into the (almost) sun.  IMG_3668

It was then that I could see that I wasn’t done buffing and polishing!  The paint is single stage  urethane, and has fully cured, meaning it’s pretty hard.  I wet sanded it with 1200, then 1500, then like 4,000 on my DA, which left a pretty uniform satin finish.  Then I buffed it with 3M Heavy Duty Rubbing compound and wool bonnet, washed the car, and then used a foam pad and 3M machine finish glazing compound.  If I’d done all this when the paint was still soft, lets say within a week of shooting it, it’d have been much, much easier.

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As it was, I had quite a few “hazy” areas, that needed a lot more polishing.  So, out came the buffer, foam pad and glazing compound, and I hit most of the car again.  I also hand rubbed the character lines, door and hood edges, as I didn’t want to cut through the black.  I’d originally planned to intentionally cut through into the red-oxide primer beneath,  to make the paint look old, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Call me crazy…

Now however, I’m very happy with the results, the paint looks deeper, and has a somewhat “softer” shine, a bit less “plasticky” than the uncut urethane.   I got supplies to detail and spiff the car for its debut at AutoRama in Detroit in one month, like tire dressing, some Meguires liquid wax, spray detailer, wheel cleaner for (very hard to clean wire wheels), Armor-All wipes for the interior and so on.

 

 

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I ordered some little stuff for the interior, some welting, Common Sense snaps for the saddlebag style map pockets in the doors, vinyl tack strip, and metal spring clips to hold the trim panels on, as Kim hates using screws and trim washers.  I don’t mind that, but she is right, it’ll be a more finished look.

So, it’s coming down to the wire.  The car runs GREAT, it looks as good as anything I’ve ver built, it seems to drive OK, at least up and down the drive, the brakes and steering are tight and feel really good.

See you in Detroit!

I’ve been forced to upgrade my WordPress account to accommodate more memory, so, as a Christmas present to myself, I splurged and added more memory, more features I don’t fully comprehend, so you, faithful reader, can suffer along with me and all the shenanigans here at Cool McCool’s Garage!

Here’s the latest video of the Roadster NOT shucking the fan belt at WOT (a study in frustration trying to determine the correct size belt, then the challenge of actually finding one in stock somewhere).  In addition, I ordered a pair of rear wheel cylinders, a new Stewart Warner mechanical temp gauge in the correct 2 5/8″ diameter to replace the one I tried to rebuild using a cheap gauge as donor, and a speedometer cable.  I ordered them at 4 pm on the 22nd, they were delivered at 2 pm the 23rd!  That’s excellent service, and the cylinders are Raybestos, made in USA, at the astoundingly low price of $5.97 each!  Free shipping too, props to Summit Racing!

We’re relaxing in front of the tree, our presents to each other are opened, we basking in the glow of the fire (and a couple of Mimosas), so  to all our friends, Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading and following along!  Stay tuned for lots more fun this next year, and look for new stuff here with all the widgets, features and improvements at the site!

It’s Alive!

Posted: December 16, 2017 in Hot Rod, transportation
Tags: ,

​What I did yesterday…