Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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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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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!

 

I went to a local muffler shop the other day and got two 10′ sticks of 2″ exhaust tubing, and had them bend a 90 degree in one end of each.  I also bought two steel pack “resonators”, some chrome exhaust tips, and handful of clamps and hangers.

I hung the tubing temporarily under the car after welding the header flanges on, and fired it up.  It was evident that mufflers were going to be redundant, so, the car now has straight pipes.  I like the way it cackles under throttle, it’s pretty mellow going down the road, and, best of all, I did it myself.  I did put a little “bow” in the pipes by putting a 2×4 between the pipes and the frame in the center, and jacking the back up until the pipes hit the gas tank.

Now, on to the top.

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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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!

BRRRRRRR….

Posted: January 5, 2018 in Hot Rod, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

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It’s a relatively balmy 8.5 degrees F here today, which may seem cold to my warm weather friends, but if we keep in mind thats 3 X as warm as it was last night when I came in from the shop, it seems better.  The shop air temp warmed up pretty quickly to 50 degrees, but the floor, the tools, equipment and 4 cars remained a chilly 20 something, which made working not very pleasant, although it was acceptable with a sweatshirt and insulated boots.

Anyway, I got the headlights DONE!  I’m happy, and slightly impressed, with the job I did on the wiring harness.  Everything worked first time, the lights are very bright, the turn signals work (amazing), and I really like the amber glow of the park lights and turn signals.

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The headlights are ’36 Chevy commercial housings, I added a base for Halogen bulbs, and a socket for 1157 park/turn bulbs.  The silvering on the reflectors polished up beautifully with a bit of Wrights Silver Cream, and the hole I initially drilled in the bottom of the left light was easily fixed with a stip of Gorilla tape to the rear, and a small circle of HVAC aluminum tape on the sticky side of the Gorilla tape in the hole.  Invisible behind the lens.  Which very proudly proclaims “Chevrolet” at the top, and “Tilt-Ray” on the bottom.

Just a little hint as to what lurks under the hood.