Archive for the ‘Vintage trucks’ Category

Wow, its  been awhile since we’ve updated the blog, and LOTS has happened here!  We’ll take a moment to recap the excitement that’s gone on in the month since our last post:

Old Faithful.

Old Faithful.

 

Get the wagons lined up!

Get the wagons lined

We went on our first camping outing of the year, with the Tin Can Tourists in Milford MI, at the TCT Spring Rally the weekend before Labor Day.  Although the weather was NOT good for the first half of the weekend, we had a great time with all our friends.  The ’51 Pontiac got to flex its muscles a bit and tow the Spartan over, Kim and I both commented on how comfortable it is, compared to the one ton Diamond T truck.  We had an impromptu “Station Wagon Parade” around the grounds of Camp Dearborn, with all our wagon owing pals, and had a ball.

On the project front, the ’59 T’bird has seen no progress at all.  I don’t feel very good about that, but, it’s not like other things haven’t happened.  My friend Ron’s Edsel wagon got an initial spruce up, to take care of the rusty roof, and is now back for repair of all 4 doors, and a little quickie fix of the left rear quarter.  The doors present a challenge, but with a little tack welding, and the use of 3M “Panel-Bond”, we think we have a very acceptable repair for a driver.  The quarter would be better repaired with a patch panel, but Ron is suffering from sticker shock at how much effort (and therefore how much money) the roof and doors are taking, so a correct repair can wait.  It’ll look good, and we’ll take care of the rest when he’s ready.

Lacey door corners.

Lacey door corners.

 

Tack welding patch panels in.

Tack welding patch panels in.

 

Welding completed, 3M Panel-Bond over the weak to seal and waterproof.

Welding completed, 3M Panel-Bond over the weak to seal and waterproof.

 

A good afternoons work.

A good afternoons work.

 

 

In a moment of weakness, last week, I brought home a late 80’s Starcraft motor home.  This brute has only 14,00 miles on the clock, and sports a 454/400 Turbo combo that amazingly fired up instantly on the 12-year-old gas in the tank.  After a lesson in the reliability of 25-year-old tires, I was able to pull it out of it’s resting place and drive it home.  I enlisted the senior “Cool McCool”, my dad Rex, to come along, drive the chase truck, a real treat for him on his 90th birthday!

After getting my eyebrows singed  off seating two tires back on the rims using starting fluid and a match, and changing the right front tire which blew after rolling about 50 feet, we got home with no issues.  The coach has an Onan 6.8KW generator, two slimline roof air conditioners, a big two-way fridge, convection oven, holding tanks, water pump, fittings, lines, fixtures, etc. that we can hopefully use in the soon to be started ’47 Spartan Manor project.  Meanwhile, it’s hidden from view (at least from OUR view) in the back of the lot, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with the fiberglass body once I start cutting it up.  The entire roof is rotten, and much of the left sidewall, from a leak in the rubber roof, so it’s not salvageable,  Kind of a shame, but hopefully it’ll be worth all the effort dismantling it for the parts.  Now we have to decide what to do with the chassis, it’s air suspension, hydraulic leveling system, cruise control, air conditioning, and miscellaneous.

COE ramp truck maybe?

The original "Cool McCool"

The original “Cool McCool”

 

It's home, now what will we do with it?

It’s home, now what will we do with it?

 

Garage wall art...

Garage wall art…

 

You can almost smell it from here...

You can almost smell it from here…

 

So, that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for updates on the motor home project (or come over with your Sawzall and maul and help tear it apart), get ready for updates on the T’bird and the rewiring of the dash and steering column, our latest camping expedition, and all the other activity here at Cool McCool’s Garage!

DSC05585My fiend Ric mentioned today that he and some other local rodders had arranged to meet for a photo shoot at the Park Theater in Augusta.  The theater has been closed since 1996, but owner, who opened it in ’49, and is now 84 years old, was going to light the neon marquee lights, and the local fire department would be there to hose the street down.  Would we like to be part of it?

You bet!

At 7:30, we met half a dozen other local hot rodders in front of the theater, and waited for the “right” light.  This was tricky, because that lasts only for a minute or so, and we had to jockey the cars around so everybody could a shot of their own car if they wanted.  With the help of the Augusta Fire Department and their bank of halogen lights on the pumper, we made the “right” light last much longer than just that instant at dusk.

It was lots of fun, we all got some great shots, and most of them are going back tomorrow to do it again.

DSC05608Kim and went to the movies there many times when we were dating, and continued to the the shows until the theater closed in ’96.  The last movie I specifically remember seeing was “Billy Jack”, but I know we saw others after that.  The theater lobby is very mid-century hip, the long, thin brick fireplace was always going, and the owner, always in a black tuxedo with a red bow tie, was the usher.  His wife sold tickets, and the rest of the family sold popcorn and sodas.  It was a great place.

Come along as we go back to the movies…

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Canners giving the secret sign at Kearny, NB.

Canners giving the secret sign at Kearny, NB.

We’ve done it again.  Fifty  people, nine dogs, with 2 veteran RV’s, one ex-Dead-Head hippie bus, two hot-rodded trucks, a bone stock “survivor” ’53 Buick and 21 vintage trailers, headed out across the Midwest on a 2400 mile tour of Americas Heartland.

Here’s a re-cap of the highlights of the trip for us.  It’s not a mile by mile accounting, just some pictures of the good memories we made with our TCT family.

We gathered in Ashland, OH, on the third weekend of June to start our journey, coming from Florida to the south, and Ontario to the north.  The first stop was (in retrospect) maybe the nicest, on the grounds of a Vo-Ed center.  We had shade, grass, ample electric hook up, and port-o-johns.  While we lacked showers, water hook-ups or a dump station, it would prove to be, thanks to our hosts, the most relaxing stay we made.  The beautiful rolling green hills of eastern Ohio were a great background for the vintage trailers, trucks and RV’s.  The hospitality and enthusiasm of the people who attended the open house was welcoming.  For me, maybe the best stop of the entire trip.

Sandy and Helen's Cree, Dawns '66 Nova and Scotty, Matt and Brians "Stanely".

Sandy and Helen’s Frolic, Dawns ’66 Nova and Scotty, Matt and Brians “Stanley”.

Brian and Kim's Diamond T and Spartan Manor.

Brian and Kim’s Diamond T and Spartan Manor.

Coincidentally, the ATHS was having a regional truck show in town, so on Saturday morning Kirk, Craig and I all jammed into the tiny cab of the Diamond T and headed for the fairgrounds.  Lets suffice to say that the three of us were “cozy” for the trip!  It was a fun diversion, with not one but THREE other Diamond T trucks.  Two 201 pickups, and a bigger 509 with a grain mill on the back.

Kissin Cousins.

Kissin Cousins.

Unrestored 201

Unrestored 201

I will leave out details of our stop in Mansfield, OH, and the visit to the penitentiary there.  Suffice it to say, it wasn’t my favorite part of the tour.  Lets just say I wouldn’t do well in prison…DSCF2248Image

Goshen Indiana is a prosperous looking town just east of Elkhart, and Kim and I stopped for a soda and mid-day rest.  In the town square is a little fortress, supposedly built to dissuade crooks in the bootlegger days of the roaring 20’s from enjoying a soda or robbing the bank across the street.  It looked imposing, and by report had a 50 caliber machine gun mounted in the turret at the top.  We did not attempt any heist, but paid for the sodas instead.

Police fort in Goshen IN

Police fort in Goshen IN

Lunch-counter in Goshen, IN.

Lunch-counter in Goshen, IN.

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At the RV Heritage Museum in Elkhart, I was tempted to search for a veteran heavy truck to build my own version of Mae Wests housecar, but that thought faded after we left.  Strong storms through the night shook the campers in the parking lot behind the museum where we were encamped, and had us leaving in cloudy, rainy skies the next morning.  A couple of the rigs got a little “cranky”, requiring some impromptu  repairs, that ended up needing professional intervention.  Thank goodness our pal Mike Greene was there, his shop close by with expert help, advice, and specialized service.  One Onan generator, one fridge that didn’t cool, and one leaky door, all better thanks to Mike and his crew.  Thanks, buddy!

Mike Greene, watching me cobble a weatherstrip job.  He did offer me a job...

Mike Greene, watching me cobble a weatherstrip job. He did not offer me a job…

RV Heritage Museum, Elkhart, IN

RV Heritage Museum, Elkhart, IN

"Behula, peel me a grape."

“I can fix this.”

As always, the visit to the museum collection left me wanting to build something, but since I have no place to store a vintage house-car, that isn’t going to happen.  Besides, we already have 4 vintage campers, how many do two people need?

Pierce Arrow house-car.

Pierce Arrow house-car.

"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to se me?”  Mae West’s studio house-car.

Then, it was on to Elgin IL.  We’d made an attempt at Mike’s shop, to staunch a leaky entry door, and were a little late leaving, so chose to take I-80 through Chicago-land.  A good choice of routes, as Rt. 30 through Joliet is evidently not the quickest way to get around the Windy City…

From there, things sort of blended together for me.  Perhaps if we lived in a big city, the drive through the mid-west would have been more entertaining.  Living in rural America, it was mostly like driving around our neighborhood.   That, combined with my lack of keeping a daily journal, makes it hard now to remember where everything I took pictures of was, and what town was where.  So, here are some random interesting things we saw along the way, somewhere in Illinois and Iowa…

Mike and Frank were not there.

Mike and Frank were not there.

Preston's station, Belle Isle, IA

Preston’s station, Belle Isle, IA

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Lincoln Highway bridge, Tama, IA

Lincoln Highway bridge, Tama, IA

King Tower Café, Tama, IA

King Tower Café, Tama, IA

Somewhere in Iowa...

Somewhere in Iowa…

Crossing the Mississippi in Clinton, IADSCF2340

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Kate Shelly Bridge.

Kate Shelly Bridge.

Closed traffic bridge just upstream from Kate Shelly bridge.  Kim did not jump off this one...

Closed traffic bridge just upstream from Kate Shelly bridge. Kim did not jump off this one…

Mile high Trestle

Mile high Trestle

Regan's boyhood home.

One of the many murals along the way.

One of the many murals along the way.

Once in Kearny, we were fortunate to find ourselves in what was, for that part of the country, a little “cold spell”.  Temps were in the low 80’s rather than the usual high 90’s to 100’s, and we were (relatively) comfortable at the fairgrounds camping area.  One thing the fairgrounds did provide was a 360 degree view of the constant fireworks around the city on Saturday night.  It looked like everybody in town bought a thousand dollars worth of fireworks, and started setting them off all around us.  It was quite a show.

Coke sing in Kearny

Coke sign in Kearny

"Camping" in Kearny, NB

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Miss Nebraska.  Really.

Miss Nebraska. Really.

Kirk and I took a side trip to Marquette NE to visit a guy from the HAMB (Hokey Assed Message Board).  His shop/man-cave is a 1911 Ford dealership, and after we found the place (his directions were, well, let’s just say “sketchy”) we had a great time and a nice visit.  He has a great collection of cars and automobilia, and hands down, the coolest work bench on the planet.  Thanks, Mayor Dennis!IMG_0707

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Coolest work bench ever

Coolest work bench ever

Back in Kearny, we found a repair shop with a beautiful neon sign out front of the art deco facade, and a vintage fire truck inside they were restoring.  The owner, Dan, was very friendly and happy to let us climb all over the fire truck and make siren noises…
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Vroom!  Vroom!

Vroom! Vroom!

Kim and I had been given a Spartan trailer brochure from the 1950 Spartanette by a local guy, whose Aunt had bought it new in 1950 and lived in it untill her death just a few years ago.  When he brought it to us, he’d told us that the trailer was still in town, and right where his aunt had lived.  The property was bought by a landscape nursery, he didn’t know what they were doing with the trailer, but it was still on the property.  We had no trouble finding it, it was just down the street from Bill’s Liquor Store  (a place we visited often during our stay!).

The trailer indeed was still there, and looked like it did the last time that lady had shut the door.  Mailbox still out front, electric cord still plugged in, propane tanks out front.  It looked very cool, but it was Sunday, the store was closed so no one to talk to, and, even if they gave it away, it was $2,000 away from home.  Fun find though, and the brochure and owners manual from it are AWESOME!

Imperial Spartanette

Imperial Spartanette

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Let's just hitch it up and go!

Let’s just hitch it up and go!

 

A visit to Kearny isn’t complete without a visit to the Classic Auto Museum, located in the Cabela’s complex, and we took it in as a group with the rest of the TCT travelers. It seems I have good taste in cars, because a twin of our ’48 Pontiac convert was there, along with a ringer for the only car I’ve ever regretted selling, a white ’59 Ford Skyliner Retractable, and a ’71 Ford Country Squire exactly like the one Kim’s folks had when we were in high school.

'48 Pontiac 'vert.  Same color as ours.

’48 Pontiac ‘vert. Same color as ours.

'71 Country Squire.

’71 Country Squire.

Friday, it was time to pack up and go.  We caravanned with Kirk and Beth, and stopped in Lincoln NB to see Speedy Bill’s “Museum of American Speed”.  For me, this was the highlight of the trip, it was amazing.  Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to publish pictures  of the collection, so you, gentle reader, will have to take my word that it’s a collection of race cars, speed equipment, toys, pedal cars, Indy cars, sprint cars, midgets, and Miller engines the likes of which you’ll never see in one place, anywhere.  I can show you a picture of us at the parts counter buying $60 worth of T-shirts and signs to save $20 admission to the collection.  Speedy Bill is a smart business man!

Image 3From there, it was on (almost) to Des Moines, where Kim and Beth were able to score us sites in a REAL campground on a the 4th of July weekend, with shade, grass, water, and electric.  It was a nice stop, a great place to kick back and reflect on the trip, and get ready for the 500 mile trek home the next day.  Good job ladies!

Look at those big smiles!  Those are some happy campers, right there.

We headed out early in the morning on Saturday, we’d initially planned going to Peru Indiana, and visiting Dan Pipers “Vintage Campers.com”, but when we looked at the map, it was as far there as it was to just go on home from Des Moines.  So, after a brief discussion, we all decided we’d been on the road long enough, and headed for Chicago-land.  We blew through in the afternoon with no trouble, no traffic, no problems.  At the Michigan Welcome Center, we stopped and bade good-by to our friends, and headed on home.Image 1

It was a good trip.  The Diamond T performed flawlessly, on what was basically a shake-down run.  Well, other than an initial low power steering fluid leak, which magically stopped after adding a little fluid.  We got an average of 12 mpg, which was a little less than I initially thought we were getting, but pretty good considering we were towing our house on back roads, into the wind.  No troubles, other than I admit it is a little loud, and A/C would be nice.

Image 2Would we do it over?  I’d have to say yes.  The journey was not the trip itself, but the experience of doing it with our Tin Can Tourist family.  As with all families, there are occasional disagreements, conflicts and minor aggravations, but in the end, it’s still family.  We met some new folks, got better acquainted with some people we didn’t know very well before, and became close friends  with some.  Certainly I wouldn’t have picked central Nebraska in July for a vacation destination, in a parking lot, but it was fun.  We ate some killer barbecue, got to meet Miss Nebraska (who seemed to be every bit as nice as all the other Nebraskans we met), and saw some really cool old stuff.  I even began to like the trains.

Happy Trails!

Happy Trails!

Image 18We’re relaxing just west of Blair, NB at the Armstrong Co. Fairgrounds.  It was another day long thrash to drive about 150 miles, but perhaps starting the days travels at a winery was part of the problem…

Image 16We left Boone and the fairgrounds next to the railroad switching yard (Fun fact.  Did you know railroad yards have their own smell?  It’s creosote and hot brake linings.) and backtracked about 10 miles east to the town of Madrid (that’s MADrid, for you non-Iowa natives) and paid a visit to Snus Winery.  Yes, Snus, rhymes with Zeus, winery.  It was a fun way to start the day, we sample some very good Iowa wines, VERY good Pinot Noir, and came home with a couple of bottles.  Sharp eyed readers will note that I am holding the bottle in my right hand, but we weighed it and it’s less than two pounds.  Dr’s orders!

Image 17After that we drove west on Highway 210 a short distance to the High Trestle Bridge trailhead, and walked about a mile to the bridge.  This is a train trestle, built in the 70’s and abandoned in the 90’s, tracks taken up, leaving just the giant piers.  It was then sold or given to Rails to Trails” group, and a beautiful concrete roadway was built over the Missouri river, about a mile.  Image 19Steel arches over the bridge represent area coal mine shafts.  They are sometimes illuminated at night, which looks spectacular.  Concrete arches decorated with dark stones in veins representing the layers of soft coal in the area stand at each end of the roughly 1/2 mile long-span.  It was beautiful looking out over the mighty river, swollen and muddy, racing under the bridge.  A very fun diversion, and a great way to spend an hour or so.

Image 13From there we continued on down the Lincoln Highway to the little farm town of Jefferson IA.  It’s the prototypical midwestern late 1900’s town, laid out in neat squares, with beautiful brick storefronts.  It’s also the county seat, and has a typical county courthouse building in the main square.

Image 12In front of the courthouse is a bronze of Abe Lincoln, seen at left.  Just to the west of that, in stark contrast to the 1900’s look and feel of the rest of town, is a 14 story tall bell tower, very 60’s modern.  We rode the elevator to the top observation deck, and the view of the (very flat) surrounding country side was beautiful.  The docent told us we could see beyond the county in all directions, and pointed out the massive concrete grain silos in every surrounding county’s large towns.  The thought occurred to me that they could have saved the money and just put bells on a grain silo, but that would sort of take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?

We did look down at the street and see our Diamond T and Spartan at the curb from Image 11a very different perspective.  I noticed that the roof needs polishing…  Can you spot it in the picture at left?  A stop at the dairy bar right across the street from the truck and trailer netted me a delicious root beer float, and Kim a strawberry malt.  We left recharged, and headed back out for the rest of the days travels

Another fun fact.  In the afternoon on the prairie, the giant wind machine cranks up, and gale force winds greeted us on the  highway as soon as we got away from the shelter of the towns trees.  Which explains why they planted trees in the towns and around homesteads.

It was so windy, and we drove straight into it for a ways back north to Rt. 30, that I was afraid it would blow the big plastic window out of the front of the Spartan.  Happily, it held against a 50 mph headwind at 55 mph, and we (mostly) stayed in our lane for the rest of the day.  For a few miles, on a couple of occasions, we were lucky to pace freight trains on tracks right along the route that blocked the wind for us, but mostly it was a tussle.  Once I got used to the way the truck handled, and realized how much (or little) I actually needed to steer to keep it on the road, it wasn’t too bad.  At least we didn’t get blown off the road, or into oncoming traffic.

We had wanted to visit the De Soto National Wildlife Refuge, the sight of a bizarre shipwreck recovery.  In the 1860’s a paddle wheel river boat rammed a snag in a river bend and immediately sank, taking with her all her cargo.  All the passengers and crew were saved, and most spent the nigh on shore, after the crew reportedly tore lumber from the ship and built shelters, also salvaging the ships cook stoves and provisions.  They had a tasty hot supper, I suppose.

The ships cargo, supplies bound for the west and gold rush, were largely lost, and the ship itself soon filled with mud and silt, and was simply left on the bottom of the 12-20 foot deep river.  The river then changed course, leaving the wreck, with it’s cargo (including over a thousand bottles of champagne!) became buried under 20 feet of earth, miles from the current river channel.  It was found in a cornfield in the late 60’s, forgotten for over 100 years.

There is a nice display of some of the recovered artifacts, although most had to be removed a couple of years ago when the river flooded visitor center.  We had to make a whirlwind visit as the museum was closing, but it was still VERY interesting.  A good stop.  Image 10

Tonight we will once again be lulled to sleep by train whistles and the rumble of the tracks, before we head out tomorrow for Kearny. We’ll be there over the fourth of July, so we’ll have a chance to see the sights (?) there at our leisure.

Stay tuned!

 

It was a darkened stormy night at the RV Heritage Museum in Elkhart, IN.

20130625-194758.jpg Thinking ou friends were outside rocking the trailer to scare me, I looked out yje window and saw them all standing in front of John Culp’s trailer.

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Turned out, it Was a thunderstorm with severe winds rocking the trailer! We took shelter in the museum, had a nice supper and viewed the trailers. It was great fun…

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Morning dawned overcast with threatening skies. Kim and I, Sandy and Helen, Nd Mike and Courtney went to breakfast, the headed to Mike’s shop to (hopefully) fix a leaky door in the Spartan. Brian and Matt were already there having their generator repaired. Thanks to Mike Greene’s generosity, we’re all back on the road again!

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We all took I-80 from Mike’s place to Geneva IL, which turned out to be a very good decision. We arrived with no stress, while everybody who took Rt. 30 arrived late, hot, and a bit frustrated! The great pot-luck supper smoothed over any still ruffled feathers, we’re all ready for another day of travel tomorrow through Iowa.

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PS, forgive the typo’s, I’m using our IPad, and unaccustomed to typing on a touch screen….

DSC04528 (1024x768)Just got off the phone with my friend Ron Penny (who is now my BEST friend!), and the truck will be done by noon!  Turns out, it had a completely dead 02 sensor, on the right side, and, surprise, I’d missed plugging in an important something or other in the wiring harness when I built the harness.

Imagine that, roughly 200 little plugs, on a harness I built from 2 junk yard harness’ and I miss one…

“How big a shoehorn did you use to get that thing in there?”, he asked, “That thing is PACKED.  You did a REALLY nice job with that build.”

Coming from Ron, a guy who’s a very accomplished builder, on a pro level, and someone I’ve known for 30 years, that’s a real compliment.  Made me feel pretty good!

So, I’m heading in after lunch to pick it up, I’m excited to drive it, and plan on a “Debut” at the Gilmore Cruise night tomorrow with the truck and a VERY shiny Spartan trailer behind it.

DSC04537 (1024x768)Step 1.  Open your checkbook and hire someone else to do it for you.  Since I don’t have an extra $4,000 lying around, and I find myself with an extra couple of days worth of time, I’m once again tackling it myself.

It’s actually not bad, since it’s been polished three times prior to this.  It’s been two years on the last polish, and while it looks pretty good, it does look better with a quick polish.  You can see where I quit (from exhaustion) just aft of the rear wheel, where the swirl marks end.

Since 10:30 this morning I’ve done the entire street side, front below the windows, and the curb side to here.  Have yet to do the back panels and the front cap.  I’m not touching anything above the drip rail or below the side rub rail.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up the side and back-end, then I have to rub those areas down with a towel sprinkled with flour, the best thing I’ve found to get the polish residue off, and then hand polish with Nuvite “Nu-Shine” final glaze.  Those two steps get rid of 90% of the swirl marks, and I can live with that.  It doesn’t have to perfect to be fun.

DSC04523 (1024x768)“Shouldn’t” you be working on the truck, now that it’s all fixed?”, you ask?

The answer to that is that I’ve exhausted my limited diagnostic skills, even with the new scan tool I bought.  I’ve replaced the MAF sensor, the plug wires, the fuel pump, the 02 sensors, cleaned the plugs, replaced 4 of them, and it still runs ragged, fussed, fuddled and worried myself sick, with no real improvement.  I give up.

This morning I drove it in to Kalamazoo to my friend Ron Penny’s shop, “Woodward’s Garage”, and left it there for them to fix whatever boneheaded thing I’ve overlooked or screwed up.  Actually, it didn’t run too badly, but following me Kim said it was occasionally puffing black smoke from the right hand side, and it was missing.  Which explains why I can actually watch the needle on the gas gauge going down…

So, it’s been left overnight in Intensive Care, while the trailer goes into rehab here in the driveway.  The Big Brown Truck delivered a shiny new bumper and the hood corner rubbers today, so when Ron is finished making it run, I can put that stuff back on.

Time for a beer.