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!