Posts Tagged ‘Old Trucks’

I have been stressing about whether I ‘ll have the Spartan done for this summer,  feeling frustrated that I can’t seem to get anything done.  Then, it occurred to me, as I drove the GMC to the hardware store, that I DO get things done, it’s just that some of the things I do are silly and and take up too much time, and that I may underestimate the time and expense a project will gobble up.

A case in point, and one of the reasons the Thunderbird  and Rivera aren’t  done, and that my Hot Rod Fund is now empty, is my ’76 GMC dually.  This thing has eaten up spare time, project money, more time, and more money, than I care to think about.

It started 4 years ago when I sold my rusty ’00 Silverado, and decided to unearth the GMC from the barn at my dad’s where I’d abandoned it 20 years ago.  We bought the truck, with a 23’ Diamond REO camper on the extended frame when I was selling cars in ’83.  Some guy traded it in on an Escort, and I bought it.  We camped in it, my folks drove it to Florida, but we stopped using it in the mid 90’s, and it had been driven in the barn and forgotten about.  I needed a pickup, to haul stuff in, pull things with, and here was one, all I had to do was dust it off and go

Easy, right?

When I got it out, it started on 20 year old gas, although it ran pretty poorly and smelled awful.  The camper came off, the frame was shortened, I bought a box from Texas, a new hood, patched up the cab corners and shot a unifying coat of Arctic White enamel.

This summer,  after three years of abuse, it got 6 new 16″ tires, new wheels, stainless hubcaps, a new stainless exhaust, and a 3.75:1 rear end to replace the 4.56’s (in a futile attempt to help the abysmal fuel consumption).  The 454, with 22,000 miles runs like a watch, the transmission (after a new governor gear) shifts crisply, I’ve got a plow for winter and camper for summer, so I should be all set for a hauling needs for another 2 or 3 decades.

Maybe now I’m done spending money, and it’ll last another 2 or three decades…

The crew here at Cool McCool’s Garage has had a VERY busy October, but we haven’t gotten anything done on either the Riviera or the T’bird. Instead, we’ve been camping, soaking up art in Grand Rapids at “Art Prize”, and took a trip to Las Vegas to visit our son Craig and his family. He and Kathleen recently got engaged, and we are excited to have our family grow!

While we were with Craig and his family, we drove to Burbank California, and visited our niece Meghan and her husband Ron, and got to meet their daughter Maren. She’s beautiful, and we got to hold a baby! As luck would have it, their home is only a mile from two great hot rod shops, “Hollywood Hot Rods”, and “Old Crow Speed”, so Craig and I took a few minutes and got great tours at both shops. Sadly, for me anyway, the ’59 T’bird under construction at Hollywood Hot Rods, inspired by the same artwork by Eric Black that got me to chop the top and cut up the quarter panels on mine, was out for paint, so I didn’t get to see that.

We’re back home, and today got some long overdue fall household maintenance chores taken care of, and I fired up the motor home chassis, pulled it around to the garage and stripped it of some wiring and am going to (finally) pull the 454 and Turbo 400 tomorrow at the shop at my dad’s place. It’ll be good to have that thing gone, I’m planning scrapping the chassis to help generate some cash to replenish the Hot Rod Fund, which was depleted with the purchase of the 5.3 LS motor and 4L60E trans we just picked up for the ’63 Riviera.

There are plenty of warm sunny days ahead (I hope) this fall before snow flies and the woodshed is full, so we’re ready now to get back at the T’bird, get started on the Riviera, and keep busy during the winter months. It’s gonna be a busy winter!

Stay tuned!

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

 

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

 

I picked up this hot chick!

I picked up this hot chick!

 

My favorite from "Art Prize"

My favorite from “Art Prize”

 

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

 

Hot Rod heaven.

Hot Rod heaven.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City,  a favorite of ours when we're out there.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City, a favorite of ours when we’re out there.

 

Old Crow belly tanker.  These guys have the coolest stuff...

Old Crow belly tanker. These guys have the coolest stuff…

Our beautiful great niece, Maren.

Our beautiful great-niece, Maren.

 

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty's Center in Hollywood.

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty’s Center in Hollywood.

 

The Rivieras new power plant!  5.3 LS and 4L60.

The Rivera’s new power plant! 5.3 LS and 4L60.

 

The Riviera, patiently waiting for it's new heart.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Well, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen

Or so I’ve heard.  Yesterday I decided it was a good to remove the slimline roof A/C units from the derelict “Luxury Traveller” motor home I dragged home earlier this summer.  (Ah, those heady, dream filled days…)  That soon lead to the thought that since I was tearing into it, I might as well keep going, and so, 7 hours later, this was the result.

As it turns out, the thing was built both much worse than I thought motor home construction was done, and much better at the same time.  I thought the thing was stick and staple framed, and simply cut through the body in what I though would be manageable chunks, leaving the roof intact to cut up once it was all down.

Great plan.  But…

The “but” is that the framing (?) of the coach was very thin wall aluminum tubing,  every 2 feet, around the windows, roof vents, down the center of the roof and at the tops of the walls/roof joint where were two stacked together.  Sturdy, and yet flimsy, all at the same time.  Between the framing is 2″ blue foam board, bonded to luan with a vinyl face on the inside, and luan bonded to very thin fiberglass sheeting (brand name, “Filon”) on the outside.  A leaky roof had led to water running down the left front corner and right rear, to the point that the luan inside and out, was completely rotted away, along with a few scraps of lumber where it was evidently too difficult to cut and from aluminum for structure, and a colony of carpenter ants had turned about a third of the wall at the right rear to a giant ant farm.  It was awful.

The Sawzall, with new demo blades, didn’t notice much difference in resistance to the very thin aluminum (I thought I was cutting through 2×2’s), and at the top, behind and above the driver seat, my roof cut and upward wall cuts didn’t quite meet.

I thought this would simply tear apart, not knowing it was really aluminum I was cutting though, and when I tugged on the pull strap with the GMC to pull down the house, the cab, still attached to the roof, came with it.  The  “welds” (if you want to call them that) on the aluminum tubing “studs” were so poor where they met the one laying down at the floor, that they simply popped off, and the cab pulled completely loose all the way to the front.

This complicates the rest of the destruction a bit in that now I have to  work under the partially collapsed cab to remove the gauges and enough of  the wiring loose in order to keep it operable (it still starts up and runs) so I can get it moved close to the shop (where the tools are) in order to pull the engine/trans and strip the rest of the stuff off it I can use.  Like  the “Onan” generator, air suspension, and leveling jack system.

So, that’s what happened yesterday.  Today I’m going to try to cut up the big chunks of wall and roof so I can stack them up, and so they won’t kill the grass in the back yard, and get ready to attend the “Relix Riot” this weekend.

Stay tuned for more progress on the motor home demo, and on the (hopeful) sale of the yellow Riv today…

Mural cut out of the left side.

Mural cut out of the left side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This'll look real good framed and hung over the couch in the living room!

This’ll look real good framed and hung over the couch in the living room!

That looks like...

That looks like…

A huge ant farm!

A huge ant farm!

1, 2, 3, now PULL!

1, 2, 3, now PULL!

Oh my.  That wasn't supposed to happen.

Oh my. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Might as well keep pulling...

Might as well keep pulling…

And,she's down.

And,she’s down.

 

Faithful readers will remember that for reasons known only to myself and an excess of disposable income, last summer I bought a mid 60’s “Del-Ray” truck camper.  Why, I have  hard time explaining, but it certainly looks neat in the back of my GMC dually, and it might actually get used someday.

We had it stored for winter in my Dad’s shop, whose roof a couple of weeks ago partially collapsed from snow load.  In order to clean up and rebuild, I had to get the camper out, and it’s now setting in the back of the GMC,  with the plow on the front and chains on the rear tires for plowing.  As it’s setting in my driveway, and the weather was decent today, I made a trip to Home Depot, spent my Christmas gift card money, and got some vinyl trim to finish up the new ceiling I’d put in last fall.

I’m happy with the results, and while I need to figure out how to finish up the front windows and get a couple more sticks of trim, it looks really nice now.   Still on the “to do list” is the center cushion for the booth, mount and plumb the new water tank and demand pump, and some “Panel Magic” or “Liquid Gold” on the cabinetry and paneling, but it’s useable and looks pretty cool now.

What will we do with it?  Well, a trip up north would be fun towing the Chris Craft, and we certainly could use it for camping and some short trips, but I really haven’t figured out what we’ll do with it once it’s finished.

I’m sure we’ll think of something.

The mighty "Del-Ray" Imperial 90.

The mighty “Del-Ray” Imperial 90.

From the bunk, looking rearward.

From the bunk, looking rearward.

Ceiling trim.

Ceiling trim.

Looking up from the door forward.

Looking up from the door forward.

Galley.

Galley.

The dinette.

The dinette.

That's a good look'n man.

That’s a good look’n man.

Sometimes here at Cool McCool’s Garage, we go through the archives for interesting artifacts to share.  This weeks find are long-lost photos of my grand-dad, Amos McCool, decked in Soo Woolen hunting garb, with his pride and joy, a ’48 Diamond T pickup.  Every self-respecting country squire needs a stylish set of wheels, right?

From Kalkaska MI, where big snow is a given every winter, these must have been some exceptionally big banks.  Let’s take a look back in McCool history…

The bank must have harder to climb than he thought...

The bank must have harder to climb than he thought…

There, made it.

There, made it.

Smile, Amos.

Smile, Amos.

The set up for this is that a couple of days ago, while plowing pushing snowbanks back along the driveway (I’d run out of room to push snow), it was obvious that the plow blade was swinging to the right every time a little pressure was put on that side of the blade. The plow has a relief valve that allows it to swing to prevent damage when LOTS of pressure is put on one side or the other, as in hitting a curb. I didn’t think I was pushing hard enough to trip that safety valve, but it had to be, right?

I pushed pretty hard on a bank out by the road, the blade again swung hard right, and when I backed up, it disappeared from view with a “clunk”. That couldn’t be good…

I got of the truck and the problem was obvious. The plow blade pivots at the bottom had rusted out, and the blade had fallen off the A-frame. It had been swinging right because the left hand bracket had broken first, and had been bending the pivot pin on the right hand side.

Damn.

So today, instead of going the Kalamazoo swap meet, I went to ALRO steel for supplies, and spent the afternoon fixing the plow. Got it all done in time to sweep the new 6″ of snow from the drive, and we’re ready for more!

Rusted plow.

Wait, this is supposed to be on the front of the truck!

Wait, this is supposed to be on the front of the truck!

IMG_1018

New bracket and pivot pin.

Cool McCool himself, almost ready to plow.

The plow is back together, the drive is plowed, and it’s still snowing. We’re ready now, and didn’t’ need any old car parts anyway!

This can't be good...

This can’t be good…

Last night around 9:00, in the midst of our family Christmas gathering, a huge limb came crashing down on the roof, grazed the family room windows, and brought the festivity to a grinding, screeching halt. We had no idea that almost half an inch of ice had accumulated on the trees, and when it suddenly got quite windy, it was too much for big old cherry limb to withstand.

Everybody pretty quickly got out, cars started, windows scraped, and cleared out. I had parked Kim’s Fusion and my Milan in the drive and turnaround for the shop, directly under a big Walnut, and decided I’d better move them out of harms way. Good thing I did, because a big limb let go on that about 30 feet up, and fell right where the cars were parked.

Our cars had been right where this limb is now.

Our cars had been right where this limb is now.

My bother-in-law Don, my son Craig (who’s home from Las Vegas for the weekend) and I got the old Onan generator out of the back of the garage, and in position in case we lost power, which seemed pretty likely, as the weather was worsening by the minute. We had a house full of guests, Kim’s sister and her family, as their power was already out. Not so for us, and the party kept going ’till 1:00 am.

Sometime early this morning, the power went off, making getting the generator out a good idea. If the battery had been any good, it’d have been an even better idea, as we ended up having to jump it to get it started. It ran pretty ragged at first then seemed to smooth out once it warmed up. That lulled us into a false sense of well-being, as it stalled several times, and was almost impossible to get started.

One needs quality, well maintained equipment to prepared for emergencies...

One needs quality, well maintained equipment to prepared for emergencies…

The culprit turned out to be the Onan’s original, 45-year-old fuel pump diaphragm, which was completely disintegrated. Because the pump is below the level of the fuel tank (which had probably 3-year-old gas in it), and the plunger was working, it would pump a tiny amount of fuel up to the carb. Not enough to keep it running however. A trip to AutoZone netted a new 12V fuel pump, which we replaced with no trouble. Of course the power cam on immediately after that. Well worth it though, because the power went back off after half an hour, and has been off since.

It’s running great, no hiccups, and the wind has stopped blowing. We have a tremendous amount of damage in trees and limbs down. I’ll have to rent or borrow a Bobcat or end-loader for the clean up, as there are dozens of big trees that have to come down, and a huge amount of limbs to cut up and clean up. It’ll be getting very cold again tomorrow, so the ice will stay on. Bad when we get more snow.

The good news is no cars damaged, no damage to house from the multiple limbs falling on it, and the veteran Onan generator is working like a champ. Our cat, Milo, must have traumatized by the constant crash of limbs and ice, as he was MIA all day, and finally came out from under the deck only at about 5 pm for some supper. We did seem to gain a new pet, a young opossum that appeared to be unfazed by the storm, who’s been nosing around the bird feeder and backyard. Normally I’d shoot it, but hey, it’s Christmas, and he looks hungry. Spirit of the season and all…

Let’s hope Consumers Power gets us back on-line for Christmas!

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I had to jump the Onan with the GMC, as the battery is junk for the generator.

I had to jump the Onan with the GMC, as the battery is junk for the generator.

We lost some trees, but gained an opossum.

We lost some trees, but gained an opossum.