Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Posted: September 12, 2019 in Buick
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Wrecked.  That about sums up summer here at Cool McCool’s Garage.  Life is like a car crash, you’re rolling along without a care in the world, things are great, and the next thing you know, you’re on the Tilt ‘O Whirl, thinking about throwing up over the side.

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Our ’51 Pontiac wagon was destroyed by an idiot (said idiot seen the upper left corner leaning on his weapon, er truck)  in a moment of inattention (he said he wasn’t on a cell phone, but admitted  he wasn’t looking at the road ahead) who slammed into the car while we were waiting for traffic to clear turning left into my mother in law’s drive on M-43 in Delton.  The impact pushed the car head-on into oncoming traffic.

Losing the car, which we’ve had and loved for the past 12 years, was blow that is only slightly softened by the great service from Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.  Ultimately, we’re thankful  no one was killed, it was after all, just a car.

So, what does one do after that?  For me, it’s been difficult to get going on anything.  I suppose there was a bit of depression involved (my mom passed away July 9th, a week after her 89th birthday, and we’re dealing with the aftermath of that and my elderly father), so it’s been rather hard to feel enthused.  I have the T’bird nearly ready for paint, but the need to replace the car that we use to pull our Spartan trailer with seems more urgent than anther fair-weather cruiser, so I’ve pushed myself into action on the ’63 Riviera that’s been gathering dust in the back of the shop.

That seemed like a better plan than spending the insurance money immediately on a car similar to the Pontiac, with retirement looming, and five other old cars taking up space.

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The car has a 5.3 LS/4L60 combo, the wiring is done, the suspension is done, the gas tank is in, the interior is started, and the simple custom work I did hiding the ugly headlights and removing the front bumper is roughed in.  It should be a great tow vehicle, although my wife Kim is not certain she’s going to like it in front of the trailer (it’s admittedly a completely different style), it should be a very comfortable and competent tow pig.

Plus, TV Tommy Ivo towed with a ’63 Riviera, it was good enough him it ought to be good enough for us.

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A couple of hours had the front clip off, the car reduced to several big piles of parts.  Look at all that wiring!  Yikes.

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The engine hadn’t been cleaned before I  put in, mostly because my drive is gravel overgrown with sod, it’s impossible to roll an engine on a dolly or hanging from the hoist out to degrease and clean, so with having it in the chassis, up on wheels, makes that possible.  A couple cans of “Gunk” degreaser and the power washer (which amazingly started right up), had the engine clean enough for a car the  hood will never be open on.

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A seemingly simple chore I wanted to do after the front sheet metal was off was to align the sagging passenger door.  These cars have incredibly heavy doors, with removable out skins for access to the window motors and regulators, the right hand one dropped at the rear, hanging up on the striker, and the gap wasn’t even.  I thought it’d be easy, thinking it needed to have the hinges adjusted at the cowl, but it turned out someone had broken three of the six bolts holding the hinges to the door (where all the adjustment is), taken a fourth one out, leaving the remaining two only finger tight.  So, the door moved around on the hinge, putting it out of alignment.

I was able to drill all the broken 5/16th bolds out of the hinge plate with the door in place on the  hinges and re-tap them.  It was a bit of a challenge, and they may not be perfectly aligned as the drill couldn’t quite be square because the hinge was in the way, but it’s now adjusted properly, all six bolts are in and torqued down, the door didn’t have to come off, and we’re moving forward.

I’m going to give the wagon’s visor to my pal Jake Moomey, who’s going to lend a hand with running the brake, fuel and A/C lines, which will be a big help, and boost my enthusiasm.  We’d been talking about selling one or more of the cars as we move into retirement, so the way to look at the wagon is that we’ve sold one.  We wouldn’t have sold THAT one, and it isn’t the way we WANTED to sell one, but, that’s the bottom line.

We’re moving forward.

 

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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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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!

 

Seriously?  It’s April 4!  This is not roadster weather!  28685851_10216425438251154_8388987590613026421_nActually, I don’t mind, because I’m not finished up yet anyway.  We have driven the car a couple of times, it has 20 miles on the odometer, enough to find a couple of little bugs that I’ve taken care of (the shifter selector shaft seal, and a radiator hose that wasn’t quite tight enough, which I fixed, but now the gas gauge isn’t working), and I still need to get the canvas on the top made and get it licensed, but, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

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I had “Fly’n Brian” painted on the tail pan at “Motorama” at Cobo Hall, in a tribute to the cars original name, “Flying Flathead”,  where we debut the car. I’m very happy with that, although the casual observer won’t know the story.  I also got the set of steel ’49 Chevy wheels blasted and painted,  ad the wide whites (seen in the first photo) mounted, and I have to say I like that look.  It actually drives pretty well with the bias ply tires too, so, I think we’ll like it both ways.  The little 283 boils the skinny bias plus all the way through second, which it won’t do with the big, sticky radials.  Fun.

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We drove it to the Gilmore Car Museum before Cobo on a sunny March day, and I’ve driven my grandson Milo around the yard a few times.  He approves, and we’re looking forward to a summer of fun with this little roadster.

It’s gonna be a blast!

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I’m “done” enough at this point to call it good, at least to take it to Detroit for the “AutoRama” in two weeks.  The interior is indeed finished, with the exception of hooking up the turn signal indicator light in the dash, and a couple of screws in the carpet to hold it in place.

You can see the black knobs for the safety latches.  Those were ordered from Summit a day and half a go.  Super fast shipping, and they’re pretty nice quality, certainly nicer than the barrel bolts I had bought at the hardware store…

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Yesterday I had cut and bound the carpeting, which is just an indoor/outdoor area rug I ordered from Home Depot.  It’s all synthetic, no backer, and I used bubble wrap “Reflectix” insulation rather than jute padding under it.  It should be very forgiving weatherize, and the chocolate color compliments the saddle interior.  And, it was $18.00.

Winning.

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In addition to the upholstery, I re-chromed (again) the rusty but repaired windshield frame, and got that installed, complete with the newly cut down glass.  I’m not particularly happy with the gasket, it’s so loose in the slot in the frame that I had to glue it in with some silicone, but it seems to be staying put.  I trimmed a little against the posts so the windshield frame snuggles right in between the posts perfectly.

From Home Depot I also bought a 4×8 sheet of white “FRP” plastic to make the trunk panels from, if I have time next week I’ll get the trunk upholstered and carpeted too, but if I don’t get to it, we’ll leave the trunk closed.  It’ll be a nice bonus if it’s done (I’m sure I will), but it’s not a priority at this point.

The big decision at this time is how best to title and register the car.  I like to title it as a ’34 Ford, but the cost of a title may be a factor.  Otherwise, an “Assembled” title would work, I’d have to put temporary bumpers and windshield wipers/washer on for that, so we’ll see.

See  you in Detroit in two weeks!

 

Today’s task was to go to AutoZone and spend my Christmas money on transmission fluid, wax, hand buffing compound, tire cleaner, wheel cleaner, fuses, and other miscellaneous stuff.  (Of course I didn’t get a three prong flasher, number one on the list…).  I added 2 quarts of trans fluid, and backed it out of the garage into the (almost) sun.  IMG_3668

It was then that I could see that I wasn’t done buffing and polishing!  The paint is single stage  urethane, and has fully cured, meaning it’s pretty hard.  I wet sanded it with 1200, then 1500, then like 4,000 on my DA, which left a pretty uniform satin finish.  Then I buffed it with 3M Heavy Duty Rubbing compound and wool bonnet, washed the car, and then used a foam pad and 3M machine finish glazing compound.  If I’d done all this when the paint was still soft, lets say within a week of shooting it, it’d have been much, much easier.

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As it was, I had quite a few “hazy” areas, that needed a lot more polishing.  So, out came the buffer, foam pad and glazing compound, and I hit most of the car again.  I also hand rubbed the character lines, door and hood edges, as I didn’t want to cut through the black.  I’d originally planned to intentionally cut through into the red-oxide primer beneath,  to make the paint look old, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Call me crazy…

Now however, I’m very happy with the results, the paint looks deeper, and has a somewhat “softer” shine, a bit less “plasticky” than the uncut urethane.   I got supplies to detail and spiff the car for its debut at AutoRama in Detroit in one month, like tire dressing, some Meguires liquid wax, spray detailer, wheel cleaner for (very hard to clean wire wheels), Armor-All wipes for the interior and so on.

 

 

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I ordered some little stuff for the interior, some welting, Common Sense snaps for the saddlebag style map pockets in the doors, vinyl tack strip, and metal spring clips to hold the trim panels on, as Kim hates using screws and trim washers.  I don’t mind that, but she is right, it’ll be a more finished look.

So, it’s coming down to the wire.  The car runs GREAT, it looks as good as anything I’ve ver built, it seems to drive OK, at least up and down the drive, the brakes and steering are tight and feel really good.

See you in Detroit!

Coming out.

Posted: January 24, 2018 in Hot Rod
Tags: , ,

It’s out!   A week ago I fired it up and drove it up and down the drive, a short trip but at the time there wasn’t any coolant in it.  I’d had a struggle getting an aftermarket swivel thermostat housing to seal, and ended up using a stock Chevy housing.  I’d already made a two piece upper hose, I just had to trim it a bit and rotate the bottom end to meet the stock housing.  It looks better too.

Yesterday I color sanded and polished the entire car, managing to not ruin the mediocre paint job and turn it into a fairly good paint job.  Now, on to the interior, which I have the (almost) matching saddle color vinyl for the door panels an other trim panels.  My wife had the idea of using waxed cotton duck for the map pockets I planned in the doors, a good idea.  She ordered the material, and it’s here, so we’re making progress.

Looks like “AutoRama” in Detroit in 5 weeks is a go!  The last time I took a roadster to the show using the ’51 wagon as tow vehicle in February they asked me to show the wagon, and brought home a “Best Wagon” award.  26734254_10215900573529864_4846526211666753433_n26731719_10215900573929874_62562354409401805_n26904724_10216018020265959_5778631264168061356_n