Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GNRS Only A Month Away

The grandest indoor show in Los Angeles, the Grand National Roadster Show, starts Jan 27, 2011 (for me anyway).  That is 'load-in-day', and perhaps the best day of show actually.  It is an action packed day, filled with the hassle and bustle of car owners prepping there pride & joy for the main event --3-days of show.
It also a great time to meet new car people & car owners without the huge crowds, obstructed views, velvet stanchions, and intense popcorn smell.

Oh, you haven't heard?  Daytons will be there, in the Suede Palace, where the coolest old hot rods are on display.

Two years ago my other roadster was there.  But it wasn't "good enough" to be inside and was stuck outside in the rain.  That show was memorable though, perhaps for the wrong reasons.
This year is a little different, Daytons is my golden ticket inside the Suede Palace!  Who's going to say NO to such a crowd pleasing hot rod?  Maybe it won't be the coolest in the Palace, but it will have it's champions.

The rains lately have sort of had put a damper on the pace of the getting-readiness.  But I was able to have the new front tires installed over the weekend.  Bill's 50 year old Firestone grooved tires where showing their age --not a good thing with tires.  And rather then continue to risk damaging the priceless wheels at every drive, I finally bought some replacements from Coker Tire.

The differences are small.  The old tires were 5.50-16, the only new 16" reproduced are 5.00-16, so they are slightly smaller.  I could tell right off the change in looks.  Considering all the hours I spent staring at the car, studying it's every detail, a smaller tire is obvious --to me.  The new are smaller and rounder, the old were wider & flatter (cracked & chipped too).

Re-capped bias tires from Inglewood Tire Service

Another thing I had to do was fix the spare rear wheel, the ones with the big, fat meats.  The tubes inside had deflated and the valve stem has fallen inside the tire.  Maybe I could have fished the valve through the hole and tried to inflate them.  But I decided to just put in new ones rather then possibly waste more time.

You're are going to have to wait to see these on the car.  I'm saving them for the show only.

Before I end this post I have to mention a great wheels shop I discovered just recently.  Pico Wheels Service, not your average tire shop, they are a specialty wheels shop.  They may be the only people I would have trusted (besides myself) to work on my priceless, old Dayton wires, and irreplaceable rear tires.  Family owned & operated since 1920, I have to give a big thanks to Garry (grandfather) & Chad (grandson) for a great job.  They'll be balancing the wide-5 wheels on my track-T soon (because they have the adapter).

Here is my original roadster parked at the 2009 GNRS. Next to me is the Model A of Jordan Graham from Santa Ynez, CA.  
This was Thursday, it rained the next two days.  I had fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why I Need A Garage, Reason #22:

Now only two days into a solid week-long rainstorm, this happens!  

Also, don't keep a Model T on a Radio-Flyer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home-Made Hairpins

Not happy simply using split wishbones, I had to make my own suspension parts.  I'm aware that none of the cars in my earlier post, Dirt Track Inspiration, had hairpins.  But in actuality, many did.

The roadster-racer was basically one step down from Sprint & Midget cars, and some parts interchanged.  I am going to assume that guys who were racing roadsters, also watched the Sprint action, and took away some of what they liked about those cars.  Then adapted what they'd seen to their home-build racing cars.

For me, fabrication is probably the most fulfilling parts about hot rodding.  I may not have all the tools I'd like just yet.  But I have the basics, and that is all I really need to make a driving car.  And with the recent addition of a oxy-fuel torch, cutting & bending heavy metal just got a lot easier --although a band saw would be nice sometimes.

To start, I used 3/8" cold-rolled steel plate to make batwings which I then welded to the front ends of a severed Model A wishbone.  You might be asking, "Why hairpins instead of split 'bones?"  Well, the hairpins are caster adjustable --somewhat important on a racing car.  Split wishbones have fixed caster.

Total tools I used: pipe bender, oxy/acetylene cutting torch for the 3/8" steel (could have used a hacksaw or band saw instead), bench grinder, hand files to finish & shape, drill press, MIG welder, and 5/8"-18 thread tap.

For the body of the hairpins, I used 3/4" tube that has a 1/2" ID.  The tie-rod-end end is 7/8" heavy-wall with a 9/16" ID. This is to be threaded for the use of 5/8" male tie-rods.  I luckily had some scrap of this tube, apparently it's not made any longer.
The 3/4" tubes were bent on a 12-ton pipe bender I recently purchased from Harbor Freight Tools.  You'll be seeing more bends in the future.

Shopping for clevises I wanted wasn't easy, because the selection isn't so great.  Typically, the threaded end on a male clevis is either 5/8" or 3/4", so matching a male clevis with a tube IDs available isn't easy.
I also didn't want tube that was too big or too small. Otherwise it might look out of scale with the rest of the car.
A stop by Specialty Ford Parts in Rosemead netted these female clevises; also nuts, bolts, & threaded studs.  Jim Gordon says they are the last of 'em, sorry fellas!  I've never even seen them in catalogs, because they are old --drilled for safety wire too!

All that is left now is to trim and weld in the threaded stud and install on the car.  Unfortunately, the sun goes down early and I can't weld in the dark --next weekend.

After welding it together, I threaded the tie-rod-end tube while in a vise & split the tube with a saw.  Rather then a locking nut, I'll use a tie-rod clamp.
And eventually, I'll get the whole thing chromed.

Update, Jan 1, 2011:  The rain let up long enough that I was able to finish the welds and give the hairpins a light paint job.
I added a fancy angled piece of tube to the middle  of each side to add extra strength.

I don't need to modify the spindle steering arms now.  The drag-link can go through the hairpins rather then over or under split bones.

I'm currently working on the frame brackets...

Update, Feb 22, 2011:  Frame brackets are complete, check out my post; Hairpin Frame Brackets.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Your door is ajar... Your door is ajar...

We all should be proud of the cars we drive.  But sometimes we can't blame ourselves for embarrassing things our cars do.  The exhaust can smell bad, or a light is flickery --not so bad.  Driving on a flat tire is bad, it would make a grown man scrunch down in his seat.  Then there is the backfire --although rare, it is really-really bad!

Maybe most embarrassing of all, something people never let you forget, and children will point and giggle!  Yes it's --flying doors!!

You're pulling into a drive-in or show and a door, on the opposite side of the car, swings open as if to expose your car's weakness for a cheap laugh --nooo!

THIS CAN BE PREVENTED!!  Mindless door swinging may occur due to worn or broken latches, panel misalignment, or just plain forgetting to close a door fully --you silly person.  Then when you are driving along, or making a turn, or driving up or off a driveway, the body may twist just enough to launch your door into the open breeze.  And it's an especially bad problem on old roadsters, let me tell you. 

In my case, is was a misalignment problem.  The rear quarter panels and door didn't meet properly causing the passenger door pop open on the slightest bump or twist of the body.

So last week I used my last two use-them-or-lose-them vacation days from work to fix Daytons 'haunted door' problem. 

 The fix requires a strap placed diagonally across the inner trunk that would 'square-off' the rear of the body.  I made a strap using 3/16" cold rolled bar, heated & bent to form hooks & loops, and used a store bought turnbuckle for adjustment.  I made a bracket to attached it at the top to the quarter-to-upper panel seam.  At the bottom, I anchored it to an old piece of angle iron welded to the subframe (used to support the gas tank.)

<<<< BEFORE                      AFTER >>>>

 I know it doesn't look like much.  But that little bit has it made all the difference

By tightening the turnbuckle, it brings the driver-side upper quarter closer to the passenger-side lower quarter, squaring the body just enough to close the door gaps.  Now the wide gaps are lessened,  the result is better door latching and no more embarrassing door flying.

It took me two whole days to make that parts, install them, and relocate the gas tank a couple of inches from where it was before.  And I finished it just in time to take the car to the Petersen Swap Meet the next morning at 6.  Boy, what a load off my mind!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blown Apart

I really wish I could have stood further back for a wider view of the mess I can create in a weekend.

To be able to weld on the frame requires completely taking apart the car, only having to put the car completely back together before the sun goes down on Sunday.  Monday through Friday the heap of parts has to be covered. It's to shield against the elements --not to mention it's a barrier from the nation's "Second dirtiest city (Los Angeles) in the US." according to an article my wife read in the NY Times today.  Bakersfield being the #1 dirtiest in America.  Good for Bakersfield, how often are they #1 at anything.

Not having a garage is a drag to say the least.  I'm still happy to have a secure place to build car. But seeing some people's garages can depress me.

By the way, it only takes two to lift the whole body off and onto a table.  It weighs about 200-250 pounds I'm guessing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dirt Track Roadster Inspiration

These are a few of my favorite roadster photos I've collected from the web.  I've used them to help me, along with some old publications, as inspirational material for my latest build.  Click on any picture to zoom in.
All of these cars were build in local garages for local events.  I doubt any were build by full-time  professional 'car builders'.  These builders were your local shop mechanics, that could modify & tune their cars while servicing his neighborhood clientele.

In future posts, I hope you'll see some of the best elements of these cars adapted into my very own T roadster-racer.

One of my favorites is the photo above; two Ts battling it out before packed grandstands. A common event in some parts, especially in California.  Driving up on a competitors tires was unfortunate, and extremely dangerous to say the least.  I'd hate to have a tire hit me in the back of the neck!

I'd just have to say, I'm in love with that T above with the hood & deuce grill! So simple looking, almost toy like.

This is another favorite, Phil Weiand's T.  Driven at race tracks all over LA as well at El Mirage dry lake bed.  It was painted gold (I like gold...) with chromed wheels which was rare for the 50's.
The engine is set back for better weight distribution, with a suicide front end, and a belly pan.  Pieces of bumper bolted to the rear radius arms as smooth tire deflectors.

This one is similar to Weiand's. But this time driver/owner is unknown.  I like the stock type hood, looks great with the 32 grill, and this one visibly has a deuce frame as well.  A very clean looking car. The exhaust is under this car, it changes the look of the car a lot from Phil's above.

Here is another 26/27 T, although not in great shape.  I like this car because I thought I'd use a rear bumper bar like this. It's simple, yet serves a purpose.  Check out the hand grooved tires --for dirt track traction.

This car was driven by Ike Hanks.  It's another Model T, pretty basic, it's made of parts commonly found at any wrecking yard of the time.  Here you get a better look at a suicide front end or 'bulldog' perch.  Rolled-tube Nerf bumper bars in front & on the rear radius arms.

Although the driver in the above picture is named Hanks, the driver in this photo (Chuck Ceder) has a striking resemblance to one actor named Tom Hanks.  Don't you think?  Click on the picture for a better look.

I added this picture because the car is so rough looking I had to show it.  To a lot of guys it was only important that the car ran.  In fact I've seen some rougher cars, this one is a '27 T roadster welded together.  His rear tire looks as tall as the one on my car.

Another '27 T,  and it seems this car has seen some action!  It has a pretty well used Model T on a beat Model A frame. Well at least he has a sponsor, so he's doing ok.
Quite a few guys would compete for fun of it, sponsor-less.  But having a garage or business back you helped. As long as you could keep up with better teams, you could keep racing.
He probably, minutes earlier, took the license plates and headlights off the car.
And speaking of sponsors, here's one team that has it made!  I see some expensive race parts on this very clean roadster, other then the new tires & paint, there are those pricey Kinmont early disk brakes.  I don't know who Suds Sutherland is exactly, but he looks like a pro to me.  It's hard to believe, but this type of car was high-end for the day.  And many famous race car drivers who's name we are familiar with today came from humble race track this this one.  Parsons, Rutherford, just to name a few.

Here is another clean, purpose-build roadster. 

This car is particularly special to me, because there is a rare photo of it's interior (below).

Here you can see the belly pan as the floor.  Sparse safety equipment, only a seat belt and basic roll bar.

I had to include one picture of a car that has many of the characteristics of the race cars above, but made for the street.  I hope my car will be somewhere in between this and the cars above --leaning towards racier.  Although my car may never actually see a track I still want it to look like it could have been competitive in 1952.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New 'Stones for the T

My plan for yesterday was to post pictures of the T with the new tires.  I got a little sidetracked, thanks to Ryan and the HAMB. The Hot Rod Disorder got more views yesterday then all of September & October combined.  As well as three new public followers and I hope a few more bookmarks --welcome aboard guys, I'll try to keep you entertained.  And to everybody else, thanks for sticking with me.

On Sunday I got a few minutes to repair the new tire tube I busted and re-mount the front tire on the rim.  I could then put all the tires on the T for a look-see.  The other wheels in older posts were only temporary rollers, your average 16x4" wide-5.  These wheels you see today are the ones I really had to search for patiently.

The fronts are hard-to-find 16x3.5", and the rears are even harder to find 16x5" only made for 1939-1942 3/4 ton Ford trucks.  The tires are 8.90 in the back 5.00 up front.
The difference in size is immense! It's really pushing the boundaries of what was used in the 1950's.  Fortunately both tires were available back then. But really only the richest race teams could have afforded the newest Firestone offerings in race tires.  Your average 'run-what-you-brung' kid at the track drove in on hand grooved, balding, second-hand tires --or so I've seen in pictures.

You may also have noticed the car has seats now.  Yes, they are real WWII fighter plane seats, or "bomber seats".  I bought a matching pair from an aircraft restorer.  One good seat is hard enough to find, a matching pair? Nearly impossible... nearly.
As good as they look together, they don't both fit into a tiny T roadster cab.  If this were a '32, they'd be swimming with all that space!  But if you'll remember, I'll only need one, it's a "race car".  So I'll save the other seat for my next racer.

The key to making these tires look good is ride-height, the car has to be low. These tires are almost too intense, but they are growing on me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ed Gallagher Is Building A 32 Roadster

I have mentioned it before, my personal good friend Ed (and fellow A-V8ers member) is building his very own 32 roadster hot rod.  It's going to be a full-on traditional ride, of course.  He's staring with an og. deuce frame.

I originally met Ed at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank just after he bought his first '28 roadster.  I was well along in the build of my first Model A/V8 at the time and we struck accord over our same tastes in Fords.  To his dismay, Ed is currently stuck in Denver Colorado.  But he will return to LA someday he says, he  loves it here.

Now that Ed has graduated to 32s and he has just begun documenting it in "So You Want To Build A 32 Roadster?", click the name to read his blog.  Then bookmark it, and follow along as he builds it from the ground up.

My Survivor on the H.A.M.B.

I receive a high honor today from Ryan, the creator & proprietor of the Jalopy Journal "Hokey Ass Message Board", or the HAMB for short. I have spent many hours reading and contributing to discussions in the forum, and made a few new friend as well. So being the center of attention, even for a short time, feels pretty cool to say the least.

I have to thank Ryan for taking time to write about "Daytons".  Not many receive this honor, I am one of the very lucky few.

Click here to read the whole article... if you haven't already.

To read more about the car, you may also want to click on the picture of it in the column on the left.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My New Hot Rod Model

Hot rods… hot women… they look great together, right? 

Not always.

In the beginning (most of us don’t remember) there were drawings of beautifully unrealistic women, in pastel colors, gracing the walls of your mechanic’s garage offices.  Then photography took the place of pen & ink.  And then we had pictures of ‘pretty girls’ holding speed parts, like a Mallory distributor, in a full-page prints in Hot Rod Magazine, circa 1949.  That was as risqué as it got for Hot Rod. 

OK, if you think of it… have you really, I mean really found any girl posing beside a car that sexy?  I mean some are hot, but rarely super-hot, and never ultra-hot like Carmen Electra!  For me, there has always been something odd about the women that pose with cars in magazines & hot rod shows.  Is it just me?

Now don’t remind me about the 80’s, teased hair, swimsuit “models”, with wrist & headband, leaning over a Pro-Street Camaro.  I checked, and it wasn’t hot.  Maybe Farrah Fawcett, did it for you?  Personally, she’s not my type. Big-Bird hair was never my thing.  What was hot then, is only ehh at best today.  Boy, things have changed.

OK, so stay with me here. 

I never was looking to find a model I wanted to pose with my cars or even to write this posing until today. Then I found her!

Yes, I’m married, and very happily.  Wendy understands this is shop talk --she’s cool like that.

So today I was looking for an old varsity jacket to buy on ebay, when I happened upon this lady modeling vintage clothing that she sells on ebay too.  This is the woman I want to pose with my cars!  But she doesn't know it yet.  She's the "Sexy-Cool-Nerd", we all want to meet.  You see it too!
OK, she isn’t ultra-hot, I'll say super-hot for sure. Look at her!  I’ll bet she’s smart too.  And not because of the glasses, she has a business.  She's fully hot rod worthy if I have ever seen one.  The clothes, the tattoos, the attitude!  She's got that, "I don't care" sexiness is what sells today.

Here goes nothing: I would like to extend a personal invitation.  Lady (I can't find your name anywhere), if you are ever in Hollywood please pose with my vintage hot rods.  I even know a real professional photographer.  It would be really, really awesome, I promise. I think this could be a great business move too. You can wear whatever you want –as long as you bring the glasses!

AJ Elias

"The Middle School Counselor"
"The Loose Baroness"

"The SR-71 Mechanic"

"11 Herbs & Spices"

"Da'Strict Attorney"

"Mama's Wittle Helper"

She has other 'looks' and you can really buy her clothes, find it here: Vintage Is The New Black

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hot Rod Trunk Warning Label

Take it from personal experience, you don't want this to happen to you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daytons' Wire Wheels

I have received a personal request that I share some details about the Dayton Wire Wheels mounted on the hot rod… called ‘Daytons’. Fred wants to see how & what mounts them to the axles. I have to oblige him because I don’t get many requests. Actually this is my first --thank you Fred.

First a little history lesson:

"Founded in 1916, Dayton Wire Wheel was quick to establish itself as a premier designer and manufacturer of wire wheels. The company continues to design products today.

From the beginning, Dayton Wire Wheel set a high quality standard for the automotive industry. The Wright Brothers depended on Dayton Wire Wheel, Henry Ford chose Daytons, as did Charles Lindburg for the Spirit of St. Louis. Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg rode on Daytons, along with nearly thirty other makes. Dayton Wire Wheels were also put to the test for thirty years of racing in the Indianapolis 500. Many British and Italian sports car owners choose Daytons, and lowriders hop and dance on Daytons. Street rod designers and builders have discovered Daytons and Harley-Davidson owners ride on American Wire Wheels made by Dayton."

Earlier, I contacted Dayton Wire Wheels to see if the serial numbers stamped on the hubs could shed light on the exact age of the parts. Unfortunately, all records from this time period were lost, but they could tell that they were made previously to WWII. I also had the opportunity to speak with Pete Eastwood on an occasion. He’s an authority of vintage parts, and also a race car driver. Pete placed them from the late 30’s early 40’s era as well.

Once popular with most forms of racing, the particular wheel on my hot rod are today relegated only nostalgic or exhibition racing. And while Daytons made today serve as a novelty on customs and low riders, they are making a comeback in some street rod circles. In fact, the 2009 Detroit Autorama Ridler award winner, “Duecenberg” wore Daytons.

The only tool you need to mount & dismount a wheel is a lead hammer. Friction does the rest by keeping the cap on and thus the wheel. It also takes a little trust in 90-year-old technology. Three diameters of tooth patterns were manufactured, 6", 7", & 8". This car uses the 6" pattern.
You have to hammer the cap on until it no longer spins. Then re-tighten after 25 miles of driving. Right & left side caps spin on & off differently to prevent loosening while driving.

There was a lot of planning, some welding, and smidge of machining to mount the adapters to the 40’s ford drums. I may never know who did the actual work, but it looks to be sound craftsmanship. Perhaps it was Bill after all. The downside of having such cool wheels, is that the mounting adapters make it even harder to remove the brake drums then it is normally!

Finding replacement parts, like a caps for instance, would be nearly impossible. So extra care & handling has to be taken at every step.

Few people would do what it takes to adapt these wheels to a Ford today, that’s one of the reasons this car is so special.