Plans change.

Plans change.

When I bought the Rivera home, I’d initially planned on using it as a home for the 454 from the motorhome which I’d drug home, getting the car running and driving, and then flip it, letting the happy new owner finish it. That plan changed when Kim surprised me by saying she liked the car (actually, she was looking at the parts car, which I’ve already sold) and wanted me to build it for her.

I got excited about that, and the rush then to pull the motorhomes engine/trans seemed not so urgent, and I immediately decided an LS engine and 4L60 would make the car much more enjoyable if we were going to actually DRIVE it, so the plan morphed again. My pal Brad at Morris Rose Auto Parts here in Kalamazoo scored a 5.3 from an ’04 Avalanche for the cause, and it’ll be united with a 4L60 trans, along with the complete under hood wiring harness, fuse panel and PCM from the Avalanche. With a minimum of effort, that gets us a stand-alone harness to make the engine/trans work in the Riviera, with money left over from the parts car sale.

I also decided right away that the car would get a ’65 grill and hidden headlights. The ’63, with its clunky headlights plunked in the grill were a stop-gap design from Buick originally, and since the car is a custom, I didn’t care to use ’65 clamshell lights, which means a complete front sheet metal swap, or tons of work. I saved the headlamp buckets from the Thunderbird, which is now wearing ’63 Caddy lights and bezels, and these fit perfectly in the Rivi fenders, simply stood on end. The lights are visible behind the grill and lens, but no more so than the original park lamp reflectors, so it’s a natural.

Headlamp behind the park lamp grill/lens.

Headlamp behind the park lamp grill/lens.

The ’65 grill, which I got from the guy who bought the other car as a direct swap for an extra ’63 grill/headlamp assembly, doesn’t quite fit in the ’63 front, but a few minutes with a cut off tool to open up the fenders, and some whittling on the lower corner of the new grill with a flap disk (it hit the core support) let it slide right into place. I have to make a new lip on the fenders to fit the grill, but it won’t take long at all, and the difference is dramatic.

This is what the Riv SHOULD have looked like to begin with.

This is what the Riv SHOULD have looked like to begin with.

To say I’m enthused about the project is an understatement, I’m excited, and eager to get going. The ‘bird again has taken a back seat, but I’ll make myself do the little remaining body work on that along with the Riv. It’ll be fine, I’ll get them both done, and, what’s the rush, anyway?

The only drawback thus far is that now that we have the car, every event I now go, there are ’63 Riveras! Why is it that I never noticed them before we had one?

Dear readers,

A longtime follower of “Cool McCool’s Garage” recently posted a comment here, which consisted solely of a link to her Craigslist ad for her vintage trailer.

I am all for entrepreneurship, free enterprise, the American way, and flattered that this person believes our blog is widely read enough to help sell her trailer, but…

My blog is my “Happy Place”, not a place to link ads, post stuff for sale, or try make a buck. If it were, I would be doing it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled nonsense….

Using our I-phone, with poor texting skills, we will the photos speak. In no particular order, Summer, 2014…

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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.

 

Today we listed the yellow Riv on eBay, Craigs list, and the HAMB classifieds in the hope it’ll disappear quickly.  Yesterday the crew here spent the afternoon sifting through the truck load of extra parts that came with the car, and it’s quite a pile.  We’ll keep enough stuff to replace any damaged bits, like the rear bumper, of the blue one (the one we’ve decided is a “builder”), and the rest can go with the yellow one, or be sold separately.

There was a complete set of 4 Guide “T-3″ original headlamps, and they all worked, at least until I tested them a second time, when one of the low beam ones called it quits.  Dang.   Supposedly they’re pretty desirable with the classic Corvette guys,  like $50-60 apiece, so we’ll see if they’ll help move the iron.

I’ve already had offers to trade for stuff I don’t want, which I expect, but nobody has raised their hand and said they’d swap for a ’26-’27 Ford Roadster body, which is what I want.  Oh well…

The pile of parts included enough to replace all the damaged pieces on both cars, minus the missing left front fender of the yellow car.  There is however, two right fronts, so maybe to rights will make a left?  We’ll see…

Meanwhile, now the fun of watching the sale on eBay.  Lots of hits on the car, and several people watching, but no bids yet.  I’m also taking it to the “Relix Riot” next weekend, on the trailer, and would even deliver, to the happy new owner.

As long as they were fairly close, and on the way to return my buddy’s trailer…

Here’s some more photos of the “pile”.

Parts is parts.

Parts is parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at this yard, filled with fabulous prizes!

Look at this yard, filled with fabulous prizes!

 

Trailer load of trouble...

Trailer load of trouble…

We’ve done it again.  Embarked on another entirely new project while the Thunderbird remains unfinished.  As usual this was too good a deal to pass up, so today was spent driving the GMC back and forth to Grand Ledge to haul home not one, but TWO Buick Rivera’s, a ’63 seen here on the trailer, and a ’64.  Both are sans engine and trans, having been long ago stripped of their 425’s for hot rod projects.

The ’63 here is inexplicably missing it’s left front fender, but there are two (?) right front fenders.  (Evidently, to rights don’t make a left…)  It has every option available at the time, automatic headlights, tilt, cruise, leather, wood trim on the door panels, etc.  The interior is wasted, but happily, replacement upholstery is cheap, at least in vinyl.  The trunk is filled with all the missing trim, and duplicates of all the hard to find pieces.

The body is fairly solid, great by Michigan standards, and I have a good 425 Nailhead for it in the shop that I got from another buddy.

 

 

 

On the ground at my buddy John's place.

On the ground at my buddy John’s place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trunk full of treasure.

Trunk full of treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The '64

The ’64

 

This one is the ’64, and like the ’63, it’s missing it’s 425.  It has a vinyl interior, and is the “standard” trim level, which means it doesn’t have the wood grain inserts on the door panels, but it does have the correct shifter for a turbo 400 in the console, which is good, factory A/C, and tilt wheel with that beautiful fluted aluminum column.  It also has air in all four tires, which is also good, as far as rolling it around the yard is concerned.  The missing parking lamp bezel and trim are in the trunk, as are all the other trim pieces not on the car.  It has what looks like an aftermarket installed vinyl top, which is in tatters.  The rear bumper is slightly tweaked, but there’s another one in the pile of parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yard art.

Yard art.

 

The exhaust pipe is hanging down because when I pushed it off the trailer, the resonator got hung up in the dirt and broke the rubber strap, so it’s dangling, but the rest of the exhaust system is complete and intact.  The floor pan has a little rust in the drivers side footwell, but no rust visible anywhere else underneath.  There’s a matching wheel in the trunk, and Uniroyal Tiger Paw tire has air, so who knows why the one mismatched wheel and tire, but, they all roll, so it’s all good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parts is parts.

Parts is parts.

 

In this pile of parts in the back of the truck are two complete doors, with the wood grained door panels intact, with glass and power windows.  There are three front bumpers, one rear bumper, two right front fenders, one extra door skin (they bolt on to the inner door panel), two front hubs, one brake drum, and a pair of front exhaust pipes, never installed on a car.  In the trunk of the ’63 are two grills, 4 headlights, 4 parking lights, 3 backlights (rear window glass) a pile of quarter panel trims, wheel opening trims and body emblems.  Oh, and an extra pair of side door glass and tracks.

The plan at this point is to sell the ’63, along with the extra parts, the 425 engine, and a good running Chevrolet 350 TBI engine and 4L60 trans as a Riviera “Kit” car, to fund building the ’64.  Not that the ’64 is more desirable, but it’s got the correct shifter and console for a Turbo 400 transmission, what is (happily) what’s bolted to the 454 engine in the motor home that I’m parting out, that will plop nicely into the Riv.  Which, in reality, is the reason I brought the Riv’s home, simply to have something to put the 454 in, which therefore justifies hauling IT home.

Or something.

 

So, stay tuned for progress on this latest project to get in the way of the Thunderbird completion.  Actually, a Riviera is a good garage mate for the ‘bird, since the Riviera was developed as a competitor to Fords 4 passenger, luxury coupe, the Thunderbird.  They’re both iconic mid-century American “performance” coupes, so it’ll be fun to have one of each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!