Posts Tagged ‘Diamond T truck’


Busy couple of weeks here, getting the winters dust off the Spartan, rebuilding the Diamond T’s brakes, and incidental aggravating things like a new battery in the wagon and a shorted fuel management module in the lawn mower.  


So, the work is done, we’re waiting for the weekend with our Tin Can Tourists friends!

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What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Last night I drove the Diamond T out to the State Park to have dinner with my wife (we’re camping, it’s a “working” holiday, so I was only going for dinner, having to work today).  When I left the house, something in the front of the Diamond T made a “clunk” noise, but I was backing over the edge of the garage’s cement pad and didn’t think much of it at the time, and drove to the campground with out a care.

We got in the truck to go to a local pub, when I backed up to leave our campsite, that same “clunk”, but again, rough ground, bumpy, turning, no worries.

We got to the rangers station and Kim said, “I smell anti-freeze”.  I had just noticed it too, and looked at the temp gauge which was about 260.

Not good.

I went to turn into a small parking area, and the steering wheel turned almost 3/4 of a turn before anything meaningful really happened.
“This is BAD”, I said as we finally turned in and stopped.

Getting out and looking under revealed a waterfall of coolant from the radiator, and the steering idler had come apart, letting the center link drop down and forward, hitting the bottom tank of the radiator, punching a hole in the plastic tank.  It would steer going forward, so we made a big U turn in the parking lot and got back to the main visitors lot.  I called Hagarety Insurance’s road service number, and soon a roll back was loading my prized possession up and hauling it home.

There’s a new radiator in the garage already, and I’ll have to pull the grill shell to swap the radiator, but it could have been worse. Nobody hurt, the truck isn’t bent, and I learned to tighten all the bolts in the steering…

The original "Cool McCool"

The original “Cool McCool”

Let me start by saying that I’m a sucker for a bargain, so when my friend Butch said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that old motor home, I can’t even give it away for scrap.”, he got my attention. When he elaborated, and said it was on a GMC chassis, had only fourteen thousand miles on the clock, had a 454, and would give it away if someone (me) would get it out of his yard, where it had sat, unused and not driven, for 12 years, he reeled me in.

With my dad riding shotgun, and to follow me home, I went to Butch’s place with a battery and little expectation that it would fire up and run. I figured it wouldn’t start, that the 454 was probably seized, or there was so much damage from the tree he said had fallen on it, that it wouldn’t be worth the effort (of course it wasn’t, but I didn’t see that then!).

To my complete amazement, when we hooked up the battery, it turned over about 5 times and fired right up. Of course with the 12-year-old gas in it didn’t run GOOD, but it ran well enough move under its own power, the trans shifted gear, and it rolled forward and back, on three flat tires no less. The tree that had come down in it during an ice storm last winter had poked a small hole in the fiberglass body over the windshield, and cracked the driver’s side of the huge windshield. True, there was a serious leak even though Butch had tried to patch it up as best he could, but there was a dish pan on the sofa to catch the drip that was overflowing, the cabinets over the sofa were already rotted, and there were mushrooms growing in the carpeting. It smelled like homemade sin, mice and squirrels had moved in, filling drawers and cabinets with walnuts and smelly nests of insulation. Black mold clouded the fabric ceiling, and water dripped from places suspiciously far from the damaged on the roof.

We have a ’47 Spartan Manor trailer project in the wings, and while the motor home was a mess, it was FILLED with stuff we could (I thought) use. A nice 8 cubic foot RV fridge that fired right up on propane, a 3 burner stove and oven, microwave, two roof air conditioners, water and waste tanks, lighting fixtures, and beautiful walnut raised panel cabinets that I thought I could re-purpose and put in my enclosed car trailer, which needs storage. Not to mention the 454 which rumbled to life so quickly after its long slumber, belching skunky exhaust, popping and farting trying to run on varnished fuel.

I headed for home with it, actually excited, head full of dreams and all the fun it would be tearing into it. I’ve always used complete cars or trucks for donor vehicles for hot rods, and this would be just a little bigger, but with more useable stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Well, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

The first thing to wrong was that only one of the A/C units worked. No big deal, we only need one. The second, and what has really killed this thing was that the fiberglass and foam body was, and is, not recyclable, and not easy nor cheap to dispose of. Kim decreed that she doesn’t want modern looking appliances, we don’t need a big microwave/convection oven, and the fridge, which did work on propane, didn’t on the electric side, and was deemed by an RV fridge service guy, who fixed the faulty relay and got it working fine for only $40, to be leaking ammonia, and fixing it would cost as much as a new fridge.

Rats.

In addition, in my excitement to find a use for the 454, which runs really well on fresh gas, I initially thought I’d build a cool COE transport truck, based on our friend Diana’s awesome ’39 Diamond T 509 she had built to haul her restored orchard tractors to shows. Kim was against this idea, despite her going with me to see the Diamond T COE cab I found, and while I discounted her lack of enthusiasm, when all my hot rodder pals said they thought it was a dumb idea (“But Brian, what are you gonna DO with it?”, was the universal response), I eventually gave up on that plan, and conceived good plan (or, Bad Idea #2) to put the 454 to good use. I bought not one, but two ’63 Buick Rivera’s, to have one be a home for the engine. My plan was to sell one immediately to recoup the purchase price, then drop the 454 between the frame rails, get it running and driving, and sell it as a “rat” semi-custom, and let the happy new owner do the cosmetics, or not.

Bare naked lady.

Bare naked lady.

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

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Anybody see a problem here?

So here we are. It’s mid October, there’s a Riviera project car that Kim is actually enthused about, and wants as her own. Great, except we all know a late 80’s carb’d 454 in today’s world is a poor choice for economy or power, so I spent all the money I got for the 2nd Riviera on an LS 5.3 and 4L60E to put in Kim’s car. Since we’re keeping it, that means bodywork, paint, interior, and having it nice, with A/C, cruise, all the stuff that makes a car comfortable to drive, and expensive to build. Sigh…

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

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

The motor home chassis is STILL here, I haven’t been enthused enough about tearing into it to get the engine out. I did move it yesterday from the side yard (where everyone driving down our busy rural road could see it, and probably soon start complaining to the township), to the front of the garage where I’m slowly getting ready to disembowel it. I salvaged a couple hundred feet of stranded 12 and 14 gauge wire for future projects, miles of black plastic wire loom, and whatever else I could.

I’m going to drive it over to my dad’s shop this morning, 34 feet of bare chassis and motor home floor, and pull the engine there (it’s too wide to nose into my shop and use my cherry picker) with the overhead crane. Then, I’ll drag the chassis to the metal recycler, where all that cool stuff that would make a killer ramp truck (hydraulic level system, air bag suspension, A/C that still blows cold, cruise that works, 19.5 wheels and tires etc) and recoup a little for the labor involved. The body I’m cutting up into little pieces and putting in our garbage can a few at a time, we’re about a third of the way to getting rid of all of it, and the walnut cabinetry, which turned out to be not useable either, is on the brush pile.   At least we’ll get an evening’s entertainment later this fall on a chilly night as a bonfire.

The 454 a buddy wants for his ’55 Chevy gasser project, and is going to swap a set of beautiful 15″ Dayton knock-off wire wheels and tires for it, which of course means I will have to build a car around them.  They will be perfect for the car I’ve been planning and building in my head for a while, a ’27 highboy roadster, track style, dropped floor, fenderless, track nosed.  At least with the 454 gone, I’ll be forced to use a sensible engine for that!

Maybe something like this?

Maybe something like this?

In my youth, I’m sure I’d still be enthused about the entire deal, and it has been sort of fun, although I admit the amount of work was, and still is, sort of daunting. Now, my 60th birthday is right around the corner, and it’s a bit more difficult to keep the enthusiasm up, even though we’ll come out OK, and have a really cool Riviera for Kim to park beside my chopped T’bird (OK, two if count the ’27 highboy modified style roadster those Dayton’s are the foundation for…).

It never ends!

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.

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…

 

IMG_3916

 

 

Longroof alley.

Longroof alley.

 

IMG_3929

 

IMG_3928

 

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?

 

 

 

 

IMG_3906

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Ready.  Set.  Go.

Ready. Set. Go.

 

Since November, I’ve been worried about what the weather, and roads, would be March 6th, after I made the decision to show the Diamond T and the Tini-Home at Autorama.  Blizzards, weeks of sub-zero temps, icy roads, high winds, slush, even keeping the driveway plowed so we could get the trailer and get out were challenges that we faced right up until last Thursday.   It was bitterly cold  at 7 degrees when we got the trailer hitched up and pulled out at 10:30 in the morning, but sunny and clear, and the roads were clear and dry.

The trip over was a breeze, with Kim following in her car (so we’d have wheels),  and we rolled up to the basement entrance on the riverfront at around one in the afternoon.  We had to wait only a few minutes on the street until there was room to pull in, and our little parade rolled into the basement of Cobo for set up.

I had no idea where the show officials had placed us, considering our slightly unusual set up, and was a bit concerned about where we’d be, and how we’d be able to stage the rig.  Turned out, we had the back corner to ourselves, right across from Gene Winfield’s display, which, between the two of us, had to be the busiest spot in the show all weekend.   The downside, if there was one, was that it was directly in front of the restrooms, but the upside was that EVERYBODY walked by, even if they hadn’t intended to come by and look at the truck and trailer.

Ready.   Set.  Show.

Ready. Set. Show.

 

Our rig seemed to be a popular attraction, as we had a line of people at least ten deep all weekend long.  I had to wait in line to get in and get our lunches ready, and Kim kept busy all weekend answering (the same) questions from spectators.  We saw lots of our Tin Can Tourist friends, lots of our hot rod friends, and made lots of new ones.  The trailer is a huge draw, and seems to be an attainable, achievable goal for folks of all walks of life, especially in contrast to the seven-figure show cars upstairs,  the period hot-rods and customs downstairs, and un-driveable art-cars that I tried to ignore.  People are drawn to it, many people related happy childhood memories of family camping in one “…just like this one, except it was a Shasta, and a ’65, and blue…”.

Typical line of people to see in the trailer.

Typical line of people to see in the trailer.

 

Kim noted that people walked right past the truck to see the trailer, which would have made me feel bad, if they both didn’t belong to us.

There are lots of different things to do at Autorama besides people watch and look at cars.  I took the opportunity to get my hair cut by Jason from “Berkley Chop Shop”, and got my rockabilly on a little.  It was fun, and I thought it turned out good.  I tried to keep it “high and proud” all weekend, and did pretty well, although I’m not dedicated (or vain) enough to spend a lot of time combing a Pompadour.

 

You got your hair did!

I get nervous with clippers.

 

You got your hair did!

You got your hair did!

 

Being right across from Winfield’s boys cutting the lid off a ’61 Ford Starliner was fun, although it meant frequently cleaning the paint dust, grinding wheel dust, metal, and acetylene soot off the truck all weekend.  It was just like being at home, with the smell of burning metal, welding, smoke scorched under coating.  The noise made a little hard to talk on Saturday, but we managed.  Watching the 85 or 86-year-old Winfield bouncing around, directing work, showing the crew what needed to be cut, from where, and how much, reminded me of my own father, who at 89, acts just the same.  It was indeed almost like being at home.

The legendary Gene Winfield, still playing with cars.

The legendary Gene Winfield, still playing with cars.

 

If you want it done right, do it yourself.

If you want it done right, do it yourself.

 

To create, first you have to destroy.

To create, first you have to destroy.

 

After the grinding, cutting, hammering and mayhem across the aisle, answering (over and over and over again) the same questions from people about the truck and trailer, it was fun to get around and do some gawking of my own.  I find that I’m increasingly disinterested in the glamourous, over-wrought Ridler contenders upstairs and drawn to the simple, traditional cars I remember seeing in the magazines of my youth.  I still like to look at a car and think, “I could, and should, build that.”, and came home with lots of ideas for the next build.  Of course, I still have to finish the four projects I have going right now, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

Following are some photos of things that I liked.  See if you can guess what car is brewing in my head now…

IMG_1291

 

Small.  Light.  Simple.

Small. Light. Simple.

 

A REAL Olds J2 in our friends Chris and Jan's '29 roadster.

A REAL Olds J2 in our friends Chris and Jan’s ’29 roadster.

 

The quintessential chopped Model A sedan.  Perfect.

The quintessential chopped Model A sedan. Perfect.

 

Normally, I don't care for cars so low the rear tires are taller than the belt line, but this is an exception.  Ricky Bobby's chopped sedan.

Normally, I don’t care for cars so low the rear tires are taller than the belt line, but this is an exception. Ricky Bobby’s chopped sedan.

 

Tone on tone paint.  Subtle, classy, and perfect on this '62 Chev.

Tone on tone paint. Subtle, classy, and perfect on this ’62 Chev.

 

Smooth Chev. Fleetline.  Understated, simple, and clean.

Smooth Chev. Fleetline. Understated, simple, and clean.

 

My good friend Crafty B putting the wheel spats on his outstanding "Crafty B '32"

My good friend Crafty B putting the wheel spats on his outstanding “Crafty B ’32”

 

Showtime!

Showtime!

 

Old trucks.  I like them too...

Old trucks. I like them too…

 

Old Cadillacs.  Love 'em.

Old Cadillacs. Love ’em.

 

OK, I'm embarrassed to admit I like this too.

OK, I’m embarrassed to admit I like this too.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Ridler winner.  And answer to the question, "How do you make a '64 Riviera ugly?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Ridler winner. And answer to the question, “How do you make a ’64 Riviera ugly?”

 

Well, that’s all for this years Autorama for me.  It’s too much at both ends of the automobile spectrum, but it’s fun, and it IS important.  There’s something for everyone, and if I don’t personally care for this years winners, (or ANY of the Great 8 for that matter), lots of people did, and the work is inspiring.  Even if the result doesn’t appeal to me.

I’ve also come to grips with the inclusion of the “art-car” invasion downstairs.  I understand the aesthetic, even if I don’t like it, and while it irritates me that some of the uneducated public think that these things represent hot rodding, I hope enough people look at them, see whats wrong, and then turn and look at REAL car and grasp the difference.  I also understand that both styles draw people to cars in general, keep people interested in car culture, and hopefully will inspire them to build their own car.  It’s all OK.

I’ve already decided that my goal for the ’59 T’bird is to have it done and debut at Cobo next year.   I think I’d like to have it downstairs, and hopefully have it stand out, an example of what someone can do on their own, with the help and inspiration of their friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.