Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

BRRRRRRR….

Posted: January 5, 2018 in Hot Rod, Uncategorized
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It’s a relatively balmy 8.5 degrees F here today, which may seem cold to my warm weather friends, but if we keep in mind thats 3 X as warm as it was last night when I came in from the shop, it seems better.  The shop air temp warmed up pretty quickly to 50 degrees, but the floor, the tools, equipment and 4 cars remained a chilly 20 something, which made working not very pleasant, although it was acceptable with a sweatshirt and insulated boots.

Anyway, I got the headlights DONE!  I’m happy, and slightly impressed, with the job I did on the wiring harness.  Everything worked first time, the lights are very bright, the turn signals work (amazing), and I really like the amber glow of the park lights and turn signals.

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The headlights are ’36 Chevy commercial housings, I added a base for Halogen bulbs, and a socket for 1157 park/turn bulbs.  The silvering on the reflectors polished up beautifully with a bit of Wrights Silver Cream, and the hole I initially drilled in the bottom of the left light was easily fixed with a stip of Gorilla tape to the rear, and a small circle of HVAC aluminum tape on the sticky side of the Gorilla tape in the hole.  Invisible behind the lens.  Which very proudly proclaims “Chevrolet” at the top, and “Tilt-Ray” on the bottom.

Just a little hint as to what lurks under the hood.

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Forgive the dust on the car, look past the clutter, do what I do and just let this soak in.  It’s been a little over a year with this ’34, it’s gone from a pile of mis-matched reproduction and ancient, cast off parts to a roller, that’s wiring and upholstery away from being a car.  It looks exactly as I imagined when I started, which sort of amazes me every time I look at it.

And I go out to the garage and just look at it a LOT.

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I won’t re-hash the build step by step, that’s already done here.  Suffice to say that I’ve learned a lot, gotten frustrated, done a lot of steps over, and put a lot of other stuff on the back burner to get this car to this point.  It’s a 40 year long fantasy fulfilled, that of having a ’34 Roadster.

I must say, I’m rather proud of myself.

I’m at the point now where I can imagine Kim and taking an evening cruise in the summer,  color touring on a crisp autumn afternoon, and a cross country trip with the rumble seat loaded with luggage.  Vague fantasy just a couple years ago, now just a few months of tinkering away.  Not that we couldn’t do all these things with the ’48 Pontiac convertible we’d had for 40 years that got sold to finance this, we did, and could have kept on doing those things with that car, but fate intervened and the “next project” beckoned.

imageOur friends Brandon and Liz from the vintage trailer group we belong to had tried (rather relentlessly) to convince us to part with the ’51 Pontiac wagon, but we weren’t ready to let it go.  They even came over to the house to try to convince us to sell it to them, but seeing the convertible in the garage, unused for three years, asked if we’d part with it.  We hadn’t considered selling it, and when we considered the pros and cons of keeping it, and doing the things I thought it would take to make me happy with the car, versus parting with it, having some extra garage space, and the chance to move on, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Brandon has done all things that I wanted to do to the car, it’s rewarding to see it used and enjoyed, as opposed to it gathering dust under a car cover.  I had “built” the car several times, there had been 4 different engines under the hood, several paint jobs, 3 interiors, and I wasn’t enthused about starting over with it again.

Sort of a “been there, done that” kind of thing.

IMG_7188.JPGSo, we’ve moved on.  I’m still using the T’bird as a work bench, storage shelf, and coffee table, and the Riviera hasn’t been touched for almost 2 years.  That’s OK.  Retirement is just around the corner4, and I’ll need some things to do.  The “heavy lifting” and big expenses are all done on both of them, it’s down to body work, paint and interior for both, the things I really like to do, so I think I’m set for activities to keep me busy, and have a pretty interesting collection of cars. when they’re completed.

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So, this is where I am.  I’ve been invited to show the roadster at the Detroit “Auto-Rama” at Cobo hall in February, I should be able to get the interior and have the car wired for that.  It’s flattering to be asked, and would make a good debut, so that is a reasonable and realistic goal.

Now, I just have to stop going out to the shop, sitting in a lawn chair by the T’bird and staring at ’34.  Time’s a wasting!

 

 

 

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A little progress on the Roadster today.  I trial fitted the windshield posts and frame, after re-tapping the threads for the pivot bolt.  Someone had re-tapped them for 5/16 coarse, the correct pivot studs are 5/16 fine on the w/s end and 3/8 fine for the wing nuts, so I brazed the holes full and re-tapped them.  I need to get new studs, as the threads are booggered up on both of them too, but those are cheap.

The only parts for a ’34 Ford that are cheap…

The w/s frame itself I decided isn’t good enough to have plated.  I found two more pinholes, which I can braze full, The posts, new bronze castings, I buffed, and I sort of like them as is.  Which isn’t correct, but I’m out of funds for chrome, so I’ll run ’em as is, with the w/s frame painted, until I can get the posts chromed and new frame.

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After months of watching that on-line auction site, today I spotted a re-chromed, but slightly damaged ’34 grill.  The bottoms of the bars are tweaked, but I think I can straighten them, and since I’m going to paint the bars anyway, it won’t mater if the chrome is damaged in the process.  The chrome on the surround looks really nice.  On a genderless car, the grill shell is the focal point of the whole front of the car, so bad chrome really hurts the whole car.

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The dash insert is in, and gauges floating in the holes.  The water temp gauge has the Bourdan tube nipped off, I have a parts store electronic gauge I’ll take t he guts out of and put in the SW housing and face.  I have a fuel gauge, a small one, that I need to figure out where to put, and the ignition and headlight switch have to go somewhere too.

The gas tank is mounted, front and rear spreader bars fitted.  Headlight stands and front shocks mounted too, all with stainless hardware that I buffed up before putting the bolts in.  The headlight buckets are on the stands, I have to polish the reflectors and wire the new Halogen bulb sockets.

Little by little…

Cool McCool sells out.

Posted: October 28, 2017 in New car, Uncategorized
Tags: ,


We’ve done it.  Gone bourgeoisie after an unfortunate traffic shunt totaled Kim’s ’09 Fusion.

Stopped for a school bus (evidently it’s hard to see bright flashing red lights on a big yellow bus) a young girl piled squarely into the back Kim’s car at a brisk clip without slowing down.  Fortunately there was no one ahead of Kim, so she was shoved ahead without being driven into the back of someone else, but her car is shortened by several inches.

The truck that hit her, a newer Chevy half ton 4×4, is probably totaled too, but the cars did what they are supposed to do and soaked up the impact.  No one was injured, and Kim was able to drive the wounded Fusion home.

Yesterday we bought a beautiful 2014 Chrysler 300c AWD.  Yes, it has a Hemi.  Not an SRT, but its  smooth, tomb quiet and faster than anything we’ve owned.  It’s a velvet hammer.

We love it, but I worry we will no longer want to take a rattling, drafty, noisy, rough riding station wagon or old truck across the country.  There is something to this comfort thing…

Back in Black.

Posted: October 25, 2017 in Hot Rod, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The roadster is now, for the first time in 30 years, one unified color.  I’m thrilled with how it looks, the single stage urethane paint laid down like glass.  I’ll color sand and polish it, in the words of my friend Bill McGuire, to give “that buttery glow”.
The next job, aside from putting it back together without scratching it all up, is to turn the front Ford hubs down to fit the Buick brake drums.  The drums I had were worn, broken fins, I bought one last summer, and will swipe one from the Riviera for now.  

It won’t be long now!


Now the fun job of blocking out the primer.  The car is going to be black, so it has to perfect, even though I’m going to age the finish a bit.  I want it to look like a nice car that’s getting old.  Which it is.


I use a long block with 120 grit, self adhesive paper.  This gets the ripples out, shows low spots and knocks down the high spots.  I didn’t shoot a guide coat on this first coat, I’m taking enough off that there wasn’t a need.  I found a couple areas that need a little  icing, but it was pretty good. After the next coat of high build (I’m using Nason 2K urethane), I’ll dust a coat of red oxide and then use 220 followed by 360, wet.  


It won’t be long before I get color on now, provided I get a break in the weather and walnuts don’t keep bouncing through the shop doors!

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Without being too maudlin, this is a reference to Tom Petty.  Writer, musician, fellow baby boomer, who died of a heart attack just a couple days ago.  I’ve been casual fan for decades, always admired him because he not only made music I liked over the years, but he seemed to follow his heart, and made the rest of us happy doing so.  Simple, unadorned, straight up rock and roll.  No frills.  No unnecessary adornment.  He didn’t guild the lily.  I like that about him.

Not that I’m anywhere near the artist (or particularly musical) as Tom Petty, and I don’t want to flatter myself too much here, but thinking about it, this car is my equivalent to the kind of music Tom Petty made.  It’s simple and clean.  Like a good chopper,  and a good authentic hot rod, there’s nothing there that doesn’t need to be there.  It’ll reflect my taste, the cars that influenced me and made an impression when I was a kid in the late fifties and early sixties, looking at car magazines in the grocery store while my mom shopped.

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I’ve always loved ’33 and ’34 Fords, particularly a fenderless roadster.  The line of the hood and the inner fender as they sweep back into the rocker panel, which is not flat on top of the frame, but dips below the frame (making these cars channeled from the factory) in a graceful arc that I think is lovely.  Without fenders, that line is accented and amplified, the signature feature of these cars.  Likewise the angle of the grill, hood and forward edge of the doors is unique and beautiful  (albeit it dangerous), and “matches” that rocker panel/hood sweep.

I’ve wanted one for 40 years, saved Street-Rodder magazines with ’34 highboys on the cover, and feature cars, including this very one, for almost that long.  It sounds trite but it’s a real dream come true.  That it’s in my garage, tantalizingly close to being finished, amazes me every time I see it.  I feel fortunate to be able to own this car, proud of the skills I’ve gained over the years that enable me to build it, and thankful my wife Kim supports me and my madness.  She didn’t complain when I sold the ’48 Pontiac convertible we’d had since before we got married, that financed this, nor when I dropped more than half of the proceeds of that on a trailer load of mis-matched and cast-off parts that became this car.

Thanks Kim.  I love you, and not just for this.

Getting primer on it today was a huge step forward.  I’m hoping to get color on it before the weather cools down, so that this winter I can get all the rest of the work done and have it ready for next spring.  It’s been a little more work than I anticipated, but not horrible, and so far I haven’t run up against any huge obstacles.  At least none that I couldn’t work out.

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There are lots of little details I really like about the project, things that I think will separate it from other ‘glass bodied ’34’s.  Not there are tons of them around here, but there are a couple.  Like a good Tom Petty song, it’s identifiable and recognizable, but different and unique at the same time.

That’s my hope any way.

 

 

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It’s fall here at Cool McCool’s Garage, but that doesn’t mean we’re sipping pumpkin spice latte’s, or drinking cider and and eating donuts.  No sir!  We’re sanding our fingertips off!  I’ve been block sanding, filling little imperfections, and block sanding some more on the ’34 roadster, trying to have it in color before the weather cools off.

The body is looking pretty nice, which it has to be because the planned color choice will magnify any and all flaws.  Since the car has been painted a couple of times, and I didn’t strip all the old paint off (a decision I hope doesn’t come back to bite me later), it’s been a challenge.  The two color coats of what looks like catalyzed acrylic enamel (with a primer in between them) don’t feather very well, they simply chip off and leave an edge, I’ve been filling those spots, and other boo-boo’s, with icing.  I’ve sanded off all of the Spot and Glaze putty I thought would take care of those spots, and gone to the icing.

It works much better.

22050129_10215047289398294_5175394114002160653_nThe “chicken’s feet” I added to the wheel wells are finished.  I decided I didn’t like the little “tails” I’d left on the horizontal bead, so I took those off, and have the fender wells finessed and ready.  I didn’t know that ’34’s have flat wheel well panels, only ’33’s have the beads, and mine are “reversed”, but I like them and that’s all that matters.

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The nice thing about a ‘glass body is that any mistakes are pretty easy to remedy with some resin, matting, and filler, and the belt line bead is a good example.  The cowl bead didn’t line up very well with the hood, so I “fixed” that key moving it down the body about 14″.   Easier than hammering and welding, for sure.  Likewise the door sill on the passenger side was weird, so some long strand reinforced filler built up the missing bead just fine.

We won’t talk about how I dropped the passenger side door and chipped the back lower corner off, that I’d “fixed” from it’s exiting the car when the door came unlatched in it’s former life.  I’ll mix up some resin and chop some mat to fix that, don’t tell anybody…

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I repaired both hood aprons (or inner fenders, whatever you want to call them), they’d both had the corners broken off and lower edges mangled, and are good as new now.  The headlight stand on the left (F100 pickup shock mounts I cut up, missing in this photo) I had to tweak a little as the headlights (’36 Chevy Master) didn’t line up just right, and I had to heat and twist the brake pedal a little to allow some room for the gas pedal, but all the “build” stuff is now DONE.  I think…

In other news, the new springs I put under the Spartan turned out not to be the correct rating, they “settled” on our trip last weekend to Milford MI and the fall TCT Rally.  They flattened out so far as to let the eye rest on the bottom of the frame rail, bottomed completely out, actually opened the eye up on the rear spring hangers!  I was shocked, they ‘re 5,000 rated Dexter springs, obviously not enough.  So, I ordered two new 6,000 load rated springs (well, I MEANT to, but evidently I didn’t check “2” in the quantity box, so I’m waiting on the other one to get here) and have to get that back together for our last planned trip in two weeks

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There’s always something!

 

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Once again, I’m not as far along as I’d hoped, but I’m making steady, if slow, progress on the ’34.  I’v gotten a big chunk of the final body prep done, it’s almost ready for primer.  Next week is another camping outing with the Spartan, so no work on the car next week,  but, it’s all fun, right?

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I cleaned, detailed and blocked of the breathers on the old Cal-Custom valve cleaners I scored a couple weeks ago, the engine looks, I think, pretty dramatic and period perfect.  If it runs OK with those two carbs I’ll be even happier.  If it’s too much carburetor, I’ll pull the dual quad intake and put the single back on with just one carb and it’ll still look OK.  I have friends who can help me sort out the bugs if it ends up being beyond my skill set.

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The crowing touch on the engine bay has to be the beautiful stainless steel headers, stupid cheap at $76, including shipping.  Much better than the flaking Jet Hot coated ones I had, and cheaper than blasting and painting them, and stinking up the house baking the header paint in the oven if I did.  Right Kim?

Finally, I bought a few trinket parts at Nats North last weekend at the swap meet, and a couple things from the vendors.  The best thing, and the one thing from the swap meet, was a Southward heater housing, which I plan to put an electric heater behind for the car.  Or, a small heater core if that doesn’t pan out.  Happily, I didn’t need much as it looks like vendor support at that show is on it’s way out.  That’s a topic for a whole ‘nuther discussion, but suffice it to say that, unless you wanted new roofing or gutter guards, you were NOT to shop multiple vendors for street rod goodies this year.  NSRA has some work to do…

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In other news, the Spartan has a new pair of springs, to replace the sagging, rusted, nasty originals.  I’d put a new Dexter 7,000# axle  under it, but foolishly thought I’d save some work by using the original springs.  The right one started sagging after one use, and bottomed out HARD on the frame, despite re-arching it and adding one leaf.  The left side also bottomed out, so I bit the bullet and installed the (shorter) springs that had come with the axle.  This required making a “spacer” to mount the original hangers on, a
“C” notch for axle clearance, and a day laying on my back in the gravel drive under the trailer, but it’s all good now, and ready to roll.  This is why the roadster is not in paint right now.  At least, that’s my excuse…

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from “Cool McCool’s Garage”!

 

 

21151264_10214775325199359_3743655163660864024_nBuilding a car, or any project, is an overwhelming task if looked at in the whole, but it’s really just the completion of a multitude of little tasks.  When the last task is done, the car is done.  Like eating an elephant, it’s one bite at a time.

This past weeks tasks started with cleaning the shop, throwing away a Herby Curby full of trash and scraps, and taking care of tools.  With that chore done, I set to making spreader bars for the front and rear of the chassis.  The rear was simple, a straight chunk of heavy wall DOM tubing and two oval shaped brackets, but the front was a little more complicated.  Getting the angles cut to give the “V” shape to clear the grill, and drop an appropriate amount was a challenge, but I’m happy with the result.

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The plumbing for the car is DONE:  Brake lines, fuel lines, and radiator hoses.  I found preformed hoses and cut them down for both the upper and lower outlets at the local auto parts store.  The transmission cooler lines had me stumped, I tried one entire afternoon to make them from rigid 5/16″ line, finally after ruining one, and ending up with some clumsy looking ones I found that the radiator fittings were 1/8″ pipe, and I still couldn’t hook them up.  I went back and got some some soft copper line I could bend by hand, some rubber trans cooler lines, two brass hose bibs the right size, and got the job done in about 20  minutes.  It looks good too, not like it was made by a blind monkey.

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img_2829The seat riser got rebuilt, a clearance bump in the trunk (rumble seat) floor for the differential was made, and I added a couple layers of ‘glass mat and resin to the buggered up corners of the hood apron/splash shields.  The hood and grill shell fit is reasonably close, (REALLY good by ’34 Ford standards!), and I’ve got the ignition wiring done enough to fire it up.  My goal this week is to get the body prepped for paint and in high build primer, and the hood and little parts in color.  It’s tantalizingly close to being a real car!