Posts Tagged ‘Station wagon’

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Well, it’s over.  The search for an early 50’s station wagon to replace the wrecked ’51 Pontiac wagon ended with this ’52 DeSoto.  A friend in Windsor sent me the link to an old CraigsList ad from Wisconsin for this car.  Several fruitless attempts to get a responses finally ended up with a phone call from the owner.  A deal was struck, and this weekend Kim and I are going to New Ulm, Minnesota (not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there) to pick it up.

We’ll decide what the mechanical upgrades will be for sure once it’s here, but at this time the (tentative) plan is for a late mode 5.7 or, if I can justify the extra money, a 6.4 Chrysler Hemi and transmission, disk front brake conversion, and modern rear axle, probably a Ford Explorer.  That would give me disk brakes all around, the same 5 on 4 1/2 bolt pattern so we can keep it looking original on the outside, and all new under the skin.  The little 276, while it’s nostalgic and very, very cool, would be great to display with the hood up at car shows and cruise nights, but now what we want to be traveling with towing our Spartan.  Maybe a new roadster…

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The car has its original 276 “Firedome” Hemi, which, according to the owner, hasn’t been started in the 10 years he’s had it, but was purported to be a “good runner” when he got it.  (I dunno, I think I’d have gotten it running, but that’s just me)  It does turn over and, he says, has compression.  The brakes he said he had rebuilt and replaced all the lines, so it at least has brakes to help load it safely.

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He has the missing headlight rings, the only missing bit is that right park lamp housing.  The chrome is unknown, having been painted over with silver paint by the previous owner, but we can see original chrome under the paint on the grill teeth and bumper guards, so I’m throwing caution and common sense out the window and hoping for the best on the big heavy bumpers.  The paint is also claimed to be original, with no body work evident aside from some uncomfortably vague reference to “some work” having been done to the pan under the tailgate, but it raises and lowers with out issue (he says) and the crank-down rear window works.

I guess I’ll go with all that for now.

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I am not crazy about the dark mustard-brown color, but it’s supposed to be the original finish, and it looks intact and pretty good, at least in blurry photos.  I do like the tu-tone treatment, the ivory roof and window frame panels both Kim and I like.  She’d like it done in a Honduras Maroon, so that can be done as we’re going to hot-rod the car anyway.

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These cars, and slightly fancier cousins the Chrysler wagons, have really lovely interiors with ribbon grain mahogany rear panels and floors, accented by polished stainless rub rails.  We both really like that treatment, which I’d copied in our own Pontiac wagon.  This is the car as it sets now, it’s worn and you can se the panels need replacement, but that’s simple.  I think I’d like to do the door panels to match, with a vinyl insert for accent as opposed to all upholstered.  The seats I vision in an alligator print vinyl, in a tobacco color, which is how the Chrysler wagons were done.  Should be pretty.

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I found this NOS “Car-Pac” wood and aluminum roof rack.  They’re still made, and I’ve talked to the company that builds them.  I can buy this one for half the cost of new, including the clamps and pads, but I have to get the car here to measure, because these are NOT universal fit, but a tailored to the specific car they will be used on.  I’ll get dimensions of the roof when it’s here, contact the company, see if this one will fit, and if it does, buy it, if not, probably buy one new, as these guys have been so helpful with information.  It’d look great on the car, and match the interior perfectly.

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The Riviera project, which I was working every day on, suddenly became a chore.  I put some feelers out, and the guy who bought the other Riviera I got with mine stepped up and is buying it as a project.  He has a restored but wrecked one that needs a frame, so his plan is to pull that body, put on the chassis under mine with the Air Lift suspension and LS drivetrain, and probably the nice under dash A/C unit as well.  I offered it at less than I had in those components.  If I’d finished it, I’d still lose money, and more of it, so now is the time to let that go and clear the decks.

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I also sold my ’76 GMC Dually pickup, to some friends from Finland who have a vacation home in the states.  After I got the Ram done, there’s no need for it, and I don’t want to see it just set around.  They’re happy, I’m happy.  Everybody wins.

So, everything changes, retirement marches on.  Winter is more than half over, we’re excited for the changes and new adventures.  Stay tuned, there’s lots more to come!

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I’ve been busy this past month and half working on our son Craig and his wife Kathleen’s ’65 Ford Ranch Wagon.  Craig bought this car a year ago in Detroit, from a Craigslist ad.  It was an unfinished, apparently abandoned project, the 352 supposedly freshened up, ran great but no brakes and typical rust on the bottom edges.  The body had been off and frame repaired, very well done.  They drove the car all summer after having the brakes gone through by our friend Baron, pulling their canned ham camper,  trips to the UP, camping throughout lower Michigan, and evening runs to the A&W.  Mechanically great but definitely needing some bodywork.

56945981706__5bf62540-be6e-4d9d-855b-3f0427f3cb4eI got it in the shop in January, and started working on the body.  It’d been the victim of a “used car lot” type “repair” years ago, plastic about an inch thick that was letting go around the wheels, the dog-legs were gone, and the bottom 4″ of the tailgate were AWOL.  In fact, the left side hinge had torn loose, causing the right side hinge (die-cast) to break from the extra load.  I bought a shrinker/stretcher set from Harbor Freight,  made my own sheet metal brake from scraps of steel I had, and set to work making the dog-legs, lower quarter panels and wheel openings, and bottom of the tailgate.

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I knew how much work it was going to be, the only surprise was the top of the right front fender, which had some blistered paint that turned out to be cancerous.  I’m pretty proud of the repair to that, and the wheel opening flare and dog-leg panels, all complicated compound curves and beads which I was able to make accurately with my limited tools and a sheet of 20 gauge.  From there it was a matter of grinding down what seemed to be miles of weld (which Kim helped with, holding the dolly in back of the weld while I hammer welded the joints.  Thanks Kim!) and then the rather tedious job of filling and then sanding, filling, sanding, filling, and sanding until the panels were perfect.

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I wrapped up the bodywork today.  There’ll be some little spots I’m sure that will need a tiny bit of finessing that we’ll find as we prep for paint, but it looks really, really good.  I’m proud of the job, it was fun expanding my skill set, and very gratifying to do something for Craig and Kathleen.  The deadline for paint is the first part of May, they’ve got reservations for the Tin Can Tourist Spring Rally with us the third weekend of May, and plans for lots of fun this summer with the wagon, which will now look as good as it runs.

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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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How can it be the middle of August already?  Summer just started, and I haven’t gotten anything done!

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate.  The wagon is painted and back to towing duty for the Spartan trailer.  The ’34 roadster is getting there, I’ve solved the hot start flooding issue (fuel boiling in the carbs and flooding) with some Lexan carb base insulators I made.  The turn signal switch wore out in the ’61 T’bird column, I got a new one from Ecklers, but it came with a wire pulled out of the base, so another one is one the way.  I’m hand signaling for now.

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The pretty but never-cold-enough Frigidaire in the Spartan, above, was ash-canned in  favor of new apartment size fridge/freezer.  It’s 110 only, but I added an inverter so we can run it battery while traveling if we need to.  Actually, it stays cold all day with the door shut, so I may not need the battery backup.  The photo shows my last ditch effort to make it work by reducing the cabinet size.  That failed.  The gas absorption conversion we had done was an expensive and disappointing failure, but, live and learn.

The T’bird is all blocked out and waiting for the final coat of high-build and a guide coat, my goal is to have it in color by the time snow flies, so I guess it’s on schedule.  The Riv in the background is waiting, but I have all the interior, the engine is in, chassis done, it’s been designated a retirement project.  I did discover that long board sanding is a lot more difficult than it was when I was 35, so, the Riv now looks like a pretty challenging project.  It’ll keep me busy, anyway.

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I’ve had a moment of anxiety over a new health issue.  At my annual visit to my cardiologist, last week, an EKG revealed a new right bundle branch block.  In and of itself it doesn’t mean much, but in the context of my ascending aortic aneurysm, aortic valve, mild left ventricular hypertrophy and history of an MI, it’s concerning.  Had an echo yesterday, and await the findings.  My plan is to work until next December, when I’m 65, and retire at that time.  Let’s hope that plan works, as I have a lot of stuff to do.   As it’s asymptomatic, I’m hoping that it doesn’t indicate any new, serious issue.

We’re getting ready for this weekends “Relix Riot” at the Gilmore Museum.  This is our favorite, and now only, summer car show, hosted by our pals in the Relix club from Grand Rapids.  After that, camping at the Yankee Springs State Park, a 2 week Michigan vacation and then the Fall TCT rally, and summer’s officially over.   It goes fast, but I’m trying to beat the the clock!

 

 

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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!

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Cool McCool’s Garage, where we don’t just wear green, we DRIVE it!