Posts Tagged ‘Diamond T trucks’

Oh no, not THEM again!

Oh no, not THEM again!

 

Last Thursday, the staff at Cool McCool’s Garage managed to leave work early and head out to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners for the “Red Barns Spectacular” show, held on Saturday.  Since we here at the shop are getting older, we need a couple of days to gear up, then a day or two to wind down from event, so we wanted to get a head start on the weekends activities.

 

We’d moved the Spartan in on Wednesday evening after the cruise in at the museum,  had the awning up  and fridge plugged in.  Anxious to begin a weekend of  festivities, we quickly made the first round of cocktails, and watched our friends Jay and Angie, then Butch and Pam roll in and get set up.  As  you can see by the photos, a bad day camping is better than a good day at work…

Let's race...

Let’s race…

This is more like it...

This is more like it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay had been working hard all week preparing his Tiki-Bar, and the results were not disappointing.  The smoking Tiki heads set the mood for the entire weekend.  Now, where’s the TCT Fun Punch?

The Gods have spoken!

The Gods have spoken!

Belly up to the bar!

Belly up to the bar!

In the morning after aspirin and caffeine, Friday was all about kicking back, catching up with friends, and watching the campers roll in.  The grounds are perfect for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or just relaxing and catching up with friends.  By evening, there were 25 rigs under the trees, the grills were fired up, the Tiki-bar was smoking, beverages flowed and the party started.

JaKe and Tami's '53 Chev BelAire and Scotty.

JaKe and Tami’s ’53 Chev BelAire and Scotty.

The crowd gets bigger!

The crowd gets bigger!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning Jake and Tami introduced us all to turkey cooker omelets, which was such a hit that we’re all going out this week and getting our own turkey fryers.  (We actually have one, but it was lent out and never came home, so a new one is on the “must have” list!)  After breakfast, the days activities were prowling the swap meet for that much-needed item, checking out each others campers, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones.  Over 2,000 cars, and thousands of spectators made the grounds a busy place.

 

Fixing our omelet.

Fixing our omelet.

 

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

 

Boil 13 minutes and eat!

Boil 13 minutes and eat!

Breakfast is ready!

Breakfast is ready!

After breakfast, time to check out all the trailers and cars…

 

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Longroof alley.

Longroof alley.

 

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Beautiful GMC coach, owned a totol of 4 hours!  On it's maiden voyage with it's new owners from Traverse City, to Gilmore, then back to Wisconsin on the Badger.

Beautiful GMC coach, owned a total of 4 hours! On its maiden voyage with its new owners from Traverse City, to Gilmore, then back to Wisconsin on the Badger.

 

This only gets 30 mpg.  Cross country trip, anyone?

This only gets 30 mpg. Cross country trip, anyone?

 

 

 

 

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Tini-Home,  big fun.

Tini-Home, big fun.

 

After a long day in the sun, once again the Tiki-bar was put into action, and the good times rolled.  We had a chance to play a little harp with Butch’s brother-in-law, a very talented musician whose guitar work more than made up for our lack of skill on the harp…

 

More cowbell...

More cowbell…

 

Sunday morning another omelet festival, and it was time to pack up and make the long journey back home.  If it were any further than 2 miles, I think we’d still be there recovering.   Jay and Angie left their  Airstream at our place, and will be back in two weeks for the “Relix Riot” show at the museum, so we’re baby-sitting for them.  I just plugged our Spartan in the yard, turned the fridge back on and collapsed.  Hopefully I can rest up enough at work to be ready for the Riot, and get the trailer re-loaded for the next high-octane weekend!

 

Angie gets her omelet on.

Angie gets her omelet on.

Breaking camp.

Breaking camp.

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

Lets see if this photo ends up shared as much as the wagon and Spartan!

Rolling past the new Lincoln museum.

Rolling past the new Lincoln museum.

The Cadillac building, as seen through the Cadillac of trucks windshield.

The Cadillac building, as seen through the Cadillac of trucks windshield.

 

So, that’s it for now.  In two weeks it’s the Relix Riot, we hope to get the Riviera’s home by then (have I mentioned the two ’63 Riv’s soon to arrive at Cool McCool’s Garage?), the motor home still needs to get dismantled, so there are lots going here.   Stay tuned for more updates, and news as it happens!

 

 

 

 

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!

For the past month I haven’t gotten any one task DONE on the truck, so it felt good today to actually go out and FINISH something.  I’d bought a pair of ’47-53 Chevy truck bumpers from “Chev’s of the 40’s” a month ago,  today went out and got the mounts made front and rear, and temporarily mounted the bumpers.

The fronts were a little harder than I’d thought.  The original bumper mounts were a little to short, so I lengthened them.  There was also an interference problem, in that with the radiator shell mounted, the rear bolts were totally inaccessable.  “Solved” that by welding 5/8’s bolts to the inside of the frame and trimming the back of the left hand bracket 1/2″ to clear the steering box.  I made some extensions to support the outer ends of the bumpers,  and it all ends up looking like factory issue.

The rear was much easier.  I made a reinforcement bar from the same 1/4″ x 3 flat stock the front brackets were made from, and made simple stand offs to weld onto the Reese hitch mount plates.  The rear bumper is tucked up fairly tight to the rolled pan, looks great, and the hitch reciever is just below the bottom of the bumper.  Perfect!

The Chevy bumpers look right at home on the Diamond T.  Being rather plain, they look stock, and they are certainly an improvement over the huge, heavy aluminum channel “tow truck” type bumpers it had on it when I got it.

Now, it’s starting to look pretty classy.  I’m about ready to pull it completely apart and start painting, so here’s one last look before it’s spread all over the shop!

This past couple of weeks, I’ve been sort of “under the weather”, and haven’t worked on the truck, or any of the other projects I need to get finished.  It’s no fun to be ill, and I feel badly about not getting anything done (particularly about the “Millusion”, a totalled Mercury Milan I bought and fixed for a daily driver, as it’s insured, I’m making payments from my Hot Rod fund on, and not doing me any good), but I have had time to collect my thoughts a little, the weather’s getting better, and I’ll get more done when I feel better, so it’s all OK.

One thing I did do was find, on ebay, some absolutely beautiful stainless steel door garnish moldings, purchased as a “buy it now” from a guy in Oregon.  In the course of corresponding with him about the sale, he told me he had some other Diamond T pieces, including a pair of very rare stainless steel windshield frames.  Most of these trucks, and all of the post 1940’s had plain black rubber around the glass which served as the frame and seal for the crank out windshields.   He sold them to me, complete, for a very reasonable price, and I got them a couple of days ago.   As I understand, only the ’38 and ’39’s had these available, in the “Deluxe” trim, had these trim pieces, so they are very, very scarce.   These pieces, combined with the rather elegant stainless steel gauge panel I made,  effectively change the cab into a “Deluxe” version, which is what I want. Since it’s not a faithful “restoration”, it doesn’t matter, I want it pretty and to fit the image in my head of how it should look.

During the course of our exchange of emails about these pieces, the seller told me he’d just sold his ’38 Diamond T 201 pickup truck at the Barrett/Jackson auction out west.  I asked him if he minded telling me what he got for it.   He didn’t mind at all, and told me it sold for $95,000 plus a 10 percent buyers premium, a grand total of (gasp!) $105,000.  He followed that up with the statement, “I wouldn’t have paid that much for one.”, which sort of explains why to sell it, I guess. 

Excited, I told Kim about this, I suppose to not only justify or rationalize (to her and to me) spending what argueably could be money put towards my (rapidly approaching) old age, but excited that one of these old trucks could be worth that much money. 
“Wow,”, she said, “…maybe you should have left it stock.”

I hate to admit it, but that thought had occurred to me as well.  I’ve sold, cheaply, the (siezed) original engine and transmission to a guy in Missouri, and the axles, wheels and tires to a guy in California, who hasn’t come to get them yet.  So, the pieces needed to return the truck to it’s original mechanical condition are no longer here.

The plan from the outset was of course to build it as a trailer puller, something more suited to dragging the Spartan around than our old Pontiacs.  I knew these were pretty rare, and very unusual, but I had no idea that one could be worth that much, and honestly, the thought of it being worth as much as our house never entered into my mind.

I did, when I first got it here, think of leaving it mechanically stock, just get it running and putz around here with it as a sort of novelty.  It had a kind of attractive “patina”, and would have been an interesting, if impractical, conversation piece. When the engine turned out to be siezed into immobility, that thought evaporated, and the plan to build it as an original appearing, but modernized, truck to pull the trailer became the guide.  Besides, my “real” pickup, a 2000 Silverado, has over 120K miles on it, is getting rusty, and doesn’t look right ahead of the trailer, so I’d need a truck sooner or later anyway.  I thought that having this unusual truck to drive in the summer would make more sense than buying an new one, having it depreciate, be more fun, and would be worth more when we want to part with it, than a 10 year old “new” truck.

So, the question that’s been rattling around in my mind now is, does it make more sense to hot rod a vehicle that, restored,  might be worth as much as my house?  Is this project akin to hot rodding, say, a Duesenburg or a Cord?  I could have kept it “original”, sold it, bought something else, either another older truck to build, or even a new one, had money left over to invest for retirement or rainy day.  This of course is assuming that I’m capable of building a a car (or truck in this case) to that level, which I think I can do, and that the economy won’t deteriorate any further.  It’s a pretty tough market right now for collector cars, 100K for an old Diamond T pickup is serious money.

On the other hand, the value of this project, from the beginning, was to build something that fits our lifestyle, that we can use and enjoy.  I won’t have as much invested, by a long way, as if I’d gone out and purchased a new 1/2 ton pickup, and it’ll certainly be more fun to drive.  Part of me, the aging hippy part, says that if I persue a goal strictly for money or profit, that I’m “selling out”, or being greedy.  Bumping around in an underpowered, rough riding, hard steering, slow stopping old truck with no heater or airconditioning doesn’t sound like much fun, but I guess that getting 100K at the end of the ride might take some of the edge off the impracticality of it all.

Of course, it’s all a moot point now, since it’s firmly headed down the Street Rod path.  It’ll look, to a casual observer, like an original old truck.  The box is different than the original would have had, it’s got the wrong grill, windshield frames, and the drivetrain is modern, but it’s still going to have an antiquey look and feel.  It’ll look great towing the Spartan, it’ll be (reasonably) comfortable, and should ride and drive pretty much like a new truck.

 The value of something, I feel, comes from how much enjoyment we get from a thing, not how much it’s “worth”.   I’ve never bought a car as an investment, but more for what I could see in it as as a hot rod or custom.  I don’t know if I can honestly call them art, but the artistic and creative side of building one is the fun part for me.  I guess art is what I say it is, so maybe they ARE large, rolling sculptures, they certainly seem to the medium that has chosen me.   I know that individualizing a car limits its appeal as a commodity, but we’ve always been able to sell one when we are ready, so it hasn’t been an issue.

Also, one could argue that the truck is going to live another life, certainly better than slowly sinking into the Southern California desert soil like it’d been doing for the past 30 or 40 years before I got it.  Certainly saving it in any form gives it more value than rotting away to the point of no return, doesn’t it?  I think so.

So, another one bites the dust.   I read many years ago in an ad in “Cars and Parts” for some old Ford, “…saved from Hot Rod butchery.”  The seller obviously had a low opinion of Hot Rodders and the quality of workmanship of some does leave a lot to be desired, but I don’t think I’ve “butchered” a car beyond being saved.  If at some point in the future, I decide to cash this one in, I think it’ll still have wide appeal, if not as a dust catcher in a collectors warehouse, but as a reliable old friend, something you can put your dog in beside you,  maybe an old motorcycle in the back, an old trailer hooked up behind, and head out down a dusty road for a good time. 

That’s what we’re going to do with it, how much is that worth?

So, since I’m not “settling”, yesterday when I went out to work on the truck, the first thing I thought was, “Why did I mount the base of the steering column that way?”

I’d used the bottom of the van column’s bearing and mount, just because that was the way I’d had the van column mounted. It had two “ears”, and I’d made a heavy bracket to bolt those to. It was clumsy looking, and would have made the hole in the firewall hard to seal, and hard to trim or carpet around. In addition, the column was actually a little bit too short.

I pulled the column back out, cut the jacket off, cut the inner shaft off, lengthened them both 3″ in order to get the column itself through the firewall and into the engine bay.

The new floor mount is simply a 6×6 piece of 18 ga. with a hole cut in it for the jacket to pass through, which I hammered a flare into, at an angle, which fits (more or less) precisely the jacket. This is welded to the column, and is in turn bolted to the floor and firewall.

The result is a tight-fitting, very strong lower column mount that’ll be easy to seal and to trim. I also shoved the column down about an inch and a half, moving the steering wheel closer to the dash. Much more comfortable than the “wheel in the chest” position of the original.

That part went well, but I did manage to break the little “tangs” off the inside of the steering wheel which hold the  horn button on.  I though I had it rotated around far enough to pop out, but NOOOO.  So, I have to fix that.  The  new horn button, an original that never had the original owners name engraved in it, does look pretty cool, well worth having to fix my minor gaffe.

Todays project is to pull the new engine/trans, and cut some notches in the front crossmember for the motor mounts.  I have to do this as the stock LS1 ‘Vette style mounts have a very thick oil filled biscuit, which has to have a level base, and the crossmember is angled.   So, that’s the plan.

More news as it happens.