Posts Tagged ‘highboy’

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Forgive the dust on the car, look past the clutter, do what I do and just let this soak in.  It’s been a little over a year with this ’34, it’s gone from a pile of mis-matched reproduction and ancient, cast off parts to a roller, that’s wiring and upholstery away from being a car.  It looks exactly as I imagined when I started, which sort of amazes me every time I look at it.

And I go out to the garage and just look at it a LOT.

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I won’t re-hash the build step by step, that’s already done here.  Suffice to say that I’ve learned a lot, gotten frustrated, done a lot of steps over, and put a lot of other stuff on the back burner to get this car to this point.  It’s a 40 year long fantasy fulfilled, that of having a ’34 Roadster.

I must say, I’m rather proud of myself.

I’m at the point now where I can imagine Kim and taking an evening cruise in the summer,  color touring on a crisp autumn afternoon, and a cross country trip with the rumble seat loaded with luggage.  Vague fantasy just a couple years ago, now just a few months of tinkering away.  Not that we couldn’t do all these things with the ’48 Pontiac convertible we’d had for 40 years that got sold to finance this, we did, and could have kept on doing those things with that car, but fate intervened and the “next project” beckoned.

imageOur friends Brandon and Liz from the vintage trailer group we belong to had tried (rather relentlessly) to convince us to part with the ’51 Pontiac wagon, but we weren’t ready to let it go.  They even came over to the house to try to convince us to sell it to them, but seeing the convertible in the garage, unused for three years, asked if we’d part with it.  We hadn’t considered selling it, and when we considered the pros and cons of keeping it, and doing the things I thought it would take to make me happy with the car, versus parting with it, having some extra garage space, and the chance to move on, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Brandon has done all things that I wanted to do to the car, it’s rewarding to see it used and enjoyed, as opposed to it gathering dust under a car cover.  I had “built” the car several times, there had been 4 different engines under the hood, several paint jobs, 3 interiors, and I wasn’t enthused about starting over with it again.

Sort of a “been there, done that” kind of thing.

IMG_7188.JPGSo, we’ve moved on.  I’m still using the T’bird as a work bench, storage shelf, and coffee table, and the Riviera hasn’t been touched for almost 2 years.  That’s OK.  Retirement is just around the corner4, and I’ll need some things to do.  The “heavy lifting” and big expenses are all done on both of them, it’s down to body work, paint and interior for both, the things I really like to do, so I think I’m set for activities to keep me busy, and have a pretty interesting collection of cars. when they’re completed.

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So, this is where I am.  I’ve been invited to show the roadster at the Detroit “Auto-Rama” at Cobo hall in February, I should be able to get the interior and have the car wired for that.  It’s flattering to be asked, and would make a good debut, so that is a reasonable and realistic goal.

Now, I just have to stop going out to the shop, sitting in a lawn chair by the T’bird and staring at ’34.  Time’s a wasting!

 

 

 

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21151264_10214775325199359_3743655163660864024_nBuilding a car, or any project, is an overwhelming task if looked at in the whole, but it’s really just the completion of a multitude of little tasks.  When the last task is done, the car is done.  Like eating an elephant, it’s one bite at a time.

This past weeks tasks started with cleaning the shop, throwing away a Herby Curby full of trash and scraps, and taking care of tools.  With that chore done, I set to making spreader bars for the front and rear of the chassis.  The rear was simple, a straight chunk of heavy wall DOM tubing and two oval shaped brackets, but the front was a little more complicated.  Getting the angles cut to give the “V” shape to clear the grill, and drop an appropriate amount was a challenge, but I’m happy with the result.

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The plumbing for the car is DONE:  Brake lines, fuel lines, and radiator hoses.  I found preformed hoses and cut them down for both the upper and lower outlets at the local auto parts store.  The transmission cooler lines had me stumped, I tried one entire afternoon to make them from rigid 5/16″ line, finally after ruining one, and ending up with some clumsy looking ones I found that the radiator fittings were 1/8″ pipe, and I still couldn’t hook them up.  I went back and got some some soft copper line I could bend by hand, some rubber trans cooler lines, two brass hose bibs the right size, and got the job done in about 20  minutes.  It looks good too, not like it was made by a blind monkey.

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img_2829The seat riser got rebuilt, a clearance bump in the trunk (rumble seat) floor for the differential was made, and I added a couple layers of ‘glass mat and resin to the buggered up corners of the hood apron/splash shields.  The hood and grill shell fit is reasonably close, (REALLY good by ’34 Ford standards!), and I’ve got the ignition wiring done enough to fire it up.  My goal this week is to get the body prepped for paint and in high build primer, and the hood and little parts in color.  It’s tantalizingly close to being a real car!

img_2201I got the instructions for the ’34 Roadster the other day, so I jumped right in on it!  Sadly, I repeated what I used to with model cars, and the full size equivalent of getting glue on the windshield, and am now mopping up the mess.

I had ordered some 5/8″ LH jamb nuts for the front shock links from Speedway Motors, and some rear shock mount steps.  The order came today, and all excited to hook my Houdaille front shocks, I made the connector link (5/8″ LH all thread) and opened the pack of jamb nuts.  They wouldn’t screw on, and it was obvious when I looked, they were RH jamb nuts.  On top of that, I only ordered one shock stud, thinking they came in pairs, so a couple of errors on that order.  I need to get some steering shaft and a couple of U-joints anyway, so it can be steered, so I’ll be calling tonight to set things righ

Meanwhile, the trans tunnel  I made out of cardboard is ‘glassed, it looks and fits fine.  I succumbed to peer pressure and swapped the single 4 bbl. intake and Holley carb for the ancient Offy 2-4 intake and the pair of Edelbrock 500 carbs I bought for it.  I ordered a small diameter electronic distributor, wires and coil which should be here tomorrow, so that’ll be ready to fire up.

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Finally!  The 283 is nestled permanently between the frame rails!  It was a bigger job than I’d anticipated, since I’d had things only loosely assembled before, I had to move the bolt holes back on the engine mount pads on the frame a quarter inch, but it’s good to go now.

I think the cream color firewall with the three gauges looks incredible, and the low mount alternator gets rid of that ugly lump up on top of the engine.  I opted to leave the single 4-bbl Edelbrock Perfomer intake on for now, I’ll put one of the new 500 CFM E-carbs on and get the thing sorted out before I tackle getting dual quads sorted out on a 283.  One thing at a time…

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I have enough cream enamel left to paint the ’59 T’bird wheel, which will tie that into the color scheme.  I dig the red engine and polished aluminum against the cream firewall, and the little dual quad air filter element looks better than the bug ugly chrome air cleaner the engine came with.  It’s starting to come together.

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When the tires were mounted on the Dayton wheels, the high pressure blast used to seat the bead blasted a couple big hunks of chrome off the right front rim.  I was bummed, but had been considering media blasting and paint the wheels anyway.  Then, a buddy suggested a product called “Rub and Buff”, sold in hobby shops as an ersatz silver leaf.  Probably powdered aluminum in a waxy base, the stuff worked amazingly well.  From five feet away, it’s almost impossible to spot the “repair”.  I’ll probably end up getting one new wheel from Dayton Wheel, but for now, I’m good to go.  The car is going to sport some light “patina” overall, so, this isn’t out of place.

I’m getting excited.

17861698_10213285226827831_7196399856735939171_nThe first, and I mean the FIRST guy who asks if this is “…one of those kit-cars…” is going to get one of these bronze windshield posts shoved right up his arse.  Up until yesterday, I had the posts and windshield frame just loosely bolted on, and no hinge bushings in the posts, and it looked reasonably OK.

Until I tightened things down a little.

Then everything was all kinds of off.  The left had post stood up several degrees more vertical than the passenger side, and didn’t lay right against the cowl.  The windshield bound in the  pivots with the bushings in, and the pivot stud would barely go through its hole in the (apparently twisted) left side post.

It was awful.

I ended up spending the afternoon getting these reproduction posts to fit the cowl of the who-knows-how-old, unknown maker fiberglass body, and accept the original, but chopped two inches, windshield frame.  Some (OK, a LOT) of “finessing” with a 4″ angle grinder on the bottom of the post flange, a little work with a hole saw to allow the mounting bolt some wiggle room, some time clamped in the vise with some precision re-shaping with a big Crescent wrench, and “Ding-Ding-Ding”, we have a winner.

That was after I made new brackets on the cowl brace to move the steering column two inches to the left and down a half an inch because the wheel was in the wrong place, and the brake pedal hit it.

This car has been a series of challenges to make things fit properly.  I started with the doors.  Broken hinges.  Poorly mounted latch hardware.  Nowhere near enough bracing.  Turnbuckles to twist the doors into submission.  Shimming the body on the frame for gaps.  Remounting and aligning the rumble lid hinges.  Filling and finessing the fit of the rumble lid to the body and tulip panel.  Making cowl to frame mounts (a vital part of old Ford body alignment that this car never had).  Getting the Rootlieb hood to fit the Argentine reproduction grill shell, and then getting the hood to fit the cowl AND the grill shell at the same time.  The splash aprons, which are still going to need a bunch of Mar-Glas and ‘glass mat and resin to fit  properly.

And that’s just the body.  I built the frame too, not having ever dealt with a buggy sprung Ford chassis before.

It’s been humbling, but fun, and great therapy.  I’m actually a little sorry to have it close to paint and being done.  Except for doing the interior, and a new top, and trimming the trunk, and  the exhaust, and…



Lots of work don the ’34 this week.  The firewall notch to clear the 283’s distributor is glassed in.  I used a chunk of a heavy cardboard shipping tube as the core and glassed in both sides.

While I had resin mixed up I reinforced the sills in back of the doors.  The body is braced with white oak, but it looked like just one layer of mat over this piece, and it was cracked and delamininating.  So, I ground away all the “loose” stuff, drilled some holes in the oak for resin to penetrate, laid up three layers of mat, it looks more substantial.  All went well.

The rear axle, a ’55 Chevy with 3.70 gears, is all cleaned and ready for paint.  The frame is also ready for paint, as are all the rest of the chassis components.   The front end has a new Posies “Super Glide” spring, this one is a reversed eye, reduced arch, and is 1/2″ shorter than the one that came with the car.  It turned out to be  a Speedway spring, a sort of Posies “knock-off”, which made the car set much too high in front.  I have a flattened ’40 rear crossmember and a mono-leaf, which gave the car a “taildragger” stance.  I flattened the front crossmember almost an inch, which along with the new spring should drop the front 3″ from where it was.  I may take a leaf out of the front spring as well, but will drive it a little and let it settle before I do anything.

I made a pan hard bar for the front, using some threaded tubing from Speedway and two heim joints with studs.  Because the frame is upside down, I ended up mounting it backwards, that is, the fixed end on the passenger side, and it’s supposed to be on the drivers side.  So, I cut the little mount tab off and made a new one for the correct, left, side.  In addition I bought some shock mount brackets that mount below the radius rod/perch bolt, and 4 5/8″ heim joints to make shock links for the Houdaille front shocks.  I need to get some 5/8″ LH all thread rod to complete these.

It feels good to make progress.   Next up, I’m going to get the 283 cleaned up, painted, get the dual quad intake on, and then paint the frame and chassis components.  Spring is only 6 weeks away!