Archive for the 'Collector cars' Category

An appearances thing

Monday, May 17th, 2010
Glen Looper with my RENU repaired gas tank

Glenn Looper with the Corvette gas tank

What do you do when the best looking thing from your car is your fuel tank?  That is my temporary problem.  I picked up my “RENU”ed tank from Looper Servicenter in Rockville, MD – http://www.loopersc.com/ – on Friday and it is embarrassingly fine looking.  All of the rust holes have been repaired, the inside and outside has been AL oxide blasted, and all has been coated with “RENU” formulated polyvinyl coatings and lifetime guaranteed.  Working with the owner, Glenn Looper was a great and informative experience.  He possesses many years of automotive repair experience and was full of great tips and links to other resources.  Glen also takes the time to make sure you fully understand the repair process, and he keeps you informed throughout the process, so you can make do or not do decisions along the way.  He even took the time to video tape the leak test so I could appreciate how many holes I actually had in the tank.  He takes in work from all over the country and has lots of experience with classic cars.  Bring a fat wallet, but expect to get a first class job.

Readers of my previous blog entries know that I have been obsessing about “originality”.  This seems to be a Corvette owner thing, fostered by obsessive attention to “numbers matching” and all sorts of other unhealthy for your driving “bones” attitudes.  The deeper I climb into the Corvette rehab the more apparent it becomes that I can have either a driver or a show car, with no middle ground.  I believe that committing to the RENU repair on the gas tank was enough to get me past the ambiguity and commit me to the driver path; so good news there.

The other thing that the “clean enough to swill beer from” tank does is increase my incentive to get on with the clean up and repair.  The rest of the car can definitely look this good.  The fuel lines are currently soaking with carburetor cleaner.  Next I will blow them out and then replace all of the flexible lines and the fuel pump.  Even though the car has not run since I rebuilt the carburetor, I think I will pull it apart and replace all of the gaskets and diaphragms, just to ensure that all of the degradable parts in the fuel system are brand new.  Check out below to appreciate the kind of gunk that collects in old fuel lines.

Fuel line gunk

Fuel line gunk

FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Is there a Survivor in there?

I have been congratulating myself for resisting the temptation to “over restore” the Corvette, and rather to make it a real “driver”.  I do not want to end up with a “garage queen”, too nice and too costly to drive and not friendly enough to sleep with.  As I have been getting into making the car roadworthy, I have also reminded myself that it is pretty original, given that I bought the car new.  So I know exactly how few things have been changed out in my 40 plus years of ownership.  Enter the “Survivor” concept.

Survivor is a category of classic car ownership that defines a car that is nearly completely unchanged from the day of delivery: original driveline, paint, interior, etc.  Sounds pretty simple and my car is pretty original.  So I had begun to think, why not try to maintain that survivor status as I get the car back on the road.  Both NCRS  http://www.ncrs.org/ (National Corvette Restorers Society) and Bloomington Gold http://www.bloomingtongold.com/ (the premier Corvette show and judging organization) have “Survivor” categories.  (Bloomington Gold has a copyright on the term and claims to have invented the category).

My last blog entry talked about the build sheet I found on the gas tank, and that prompted some research.  And that’s where I nearly jumped from the frying pan of over restoration into the fire of change nothing “Survivor” status.  Along with other research, I had an illuminating and scary email conversation with Dave Burroughs, the Bloomington Gold Survivor guru.  The bottom line Survivor repair/restoration philosophy is “don’t do anything!”; although somehow the car needs to be returned to running condition.  Do no painting, remove no torn decals or build sheets, replace no parts, don’t even wire brush the rust.  Yikes, another “garage queen”, but one that looks and drives like a car that hasn’t been touched in 40 years; because that is exactly what it would be.

So, here I am, suspended somewhere between the frying pan and the fire.  But what the heck, that is exactly where I want to be.  If I want to mount new, softer shock absorbers, or a lifetime stainless steel exhaust, or clean and paint the engine compartment,  or mount tires that provide decent traction, I’m going to do it.  This driver is for getting my “Yeee Ha” on!

Provenance

Monday, May 10th, 2010
Vehicle build sheet

Vehicle build sheet

I discovered a fortunate historical footnote when I dropped the gas tank on the Vette.  A copy of the original build sheet was attached to the top side of the tank.  I felt a bit like an archaeologist breaking open an old Egyptain wine vessel and discovering an ancient papyrus.  GM used some darn good glue to attach the sheet to the tank; all my efforts to remove the sheet without destroying it were unsuccessful and I’m guessing the Smithsonian would laugh me out of the building if I took the tank to them and asked them to remove it.  Well, at least I have some clear pictures of the sheet, and the data certainly corresponds to equipment on the car.

Replacement of the entire fuel line is not going to happen.  GM cleverly routed a large part of the line inside of the boxed frame rail.  Great for off road excursions, but impossible to replace, short of a “body off” restoration.  Fortunately that line is in very good shape.  So, only the flexible lines and the fuel pump will be getting replaced.

Two questions for knowledgable readers:  Does anyone know of a trustworthy, within driving distance, cleaner/restorer of fuel tanks?  And can anyone recommend a powerful solvent that works well for cleaning “in place” fuel lines?

In appreciation of Never-Seez – 67Vette continued

Friday, March 26th, 2010
Chaz's garage space

Chaz's garage space

Never-Seez is the third pillar of the mechanics Trinity.  A Bigger Hammer (Father), Duct Tape (Son), and Never-Seez (Holy Ghost).  The bigger hammer breaks what’s stuck, duct tape fixes what’s broke, and Never-Seez (a waterproof, non-hardening, rust inhibiting lubricant) insures you never do that again.

Car manufacturers would never use Never-Seez.  It would raise the cost of a new car and reduce the cost of repairs – a no brainier for them.  But for those of us who like to work on our own cars, we would never reassemble a repair without the liberal use of Never-Seez on every fastener we lay a wrench to.  Have you ever tried to change your own flat tire and discovered that even when you stand on the lug wrench it won’t come loose?  Yep, no Never-Seez.  OK, you don’t like to fool with your own car.  Have you ever assembled your kid’s swing set and then had to use a hacksaw to disassemble it when they left for college?  Yep, no Never-Seez.

There have been books written about bigger hammers and duct tape, but not to my knowledge about Never-Seez.  Well ok, maybe you have never browsed that section of Amazon.com, but trust me this is a significant gap.  Remind me of this thought when the Vette is finished, but meanwhile don’t tell Henry Petroski – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Petroski .

So where does this thought train take us with the Corvette?

My first step in starting the Corvette is to make sure it will turn over.  Since it hasn’t run in more than 10 years, it’s likely that the pistons may be a bit frozen in place.  So, I am treating the engine with another automotive wonder drug,WD40.  I plan on a liberal soaking of the cylinder walls with WD40, while I attend to other items in the fuel and ignition system.  Yesterday I removed the spark plugs for the WD40 treatment.  Now I know you have all been waiting for this, but NO SKINNED KNUCKLES!  Never-Seez certainly did the job on those spark plugs.  Bigger Hammer, Duct Tape, Never-Seez, Amen.

No engine compartment is ugly, but this comes close.  But cosmetics are later

No engine compartment is ugly, but this comes close. But cosmetics come later

An original Corvette anticipating return to action

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Chaz's 1967 Stingray

Chaz's 1967 Stingray

Today is a very good day in my world of cars.  After many years of procrastination and several months of glacial preparation, I have laid the first wrench on the Corvette.  In time (estimates later, but reality is when rubber hits the road) 67Vette will be mixing it up with all of those homogenized, drive-by-wire, cell texting, modern day cars. Ah, the pleasure of being involved with the car rather than the peripherals. Meanwhile, I plan to get reacquainted with an old friend, one bolt at a time.

My Corvette is a 1967, convertible, 427 ci., 390 hp., 4 speed.  I can’t recall any options except, perhaps for the AM/FM radio (rarely used as the more satisfying exhaust note is just a throttle mash away).  I purchased it new in the fall of 1966 and have accumulated about 120K miles (the odometer failed long ago and I only was able to keep track of the miles by my “frequent” gas purchase records).

As far as provenance, I have been the soul owner.  It’s been run hard.  It’s very quick to 100, but the short rear end limits top speed (a good thing since the front end begins fly at about 120.  No surprise that Corvette’s sprouted front end spoilers with the next model change).  It was autocrossed and rallied extensively, and has run fast on Sebring, Watkins Glen, Cumberland Airport, and Marlboro raceways (not in sanctioned races, just autocrosses or “bandit” runs after the officials had departed).  Early on, late summer Sunday night returns from the beach were supremely entertaining.  It was also used for everyday transportation for many years; some residents on Gorman Road, in Howard County, MD may remember my morning bonzai runs on the way to work.  One could hit triple digits by catching the last corner before the bridge over I95 just right.  Yeee ha.  Now that was a workday stress reliever!

The Vette is not a virgin.  I have previously completely rebuilt the engine and the brakes.  I have experimented with various ignition, tire, suspension, exhaust, and fuel delivery setups.  The original parts that are not on the car are preserved, but I have no intention of getting anal about a “numbers matching” garage queen.  The memories of driving are just too vivid and fun to do a restoration and then not drive it. I pretty much completely know this set of wheels from the inside and the outside, so I think this process will be like turning the pages of a favorite long lost diary.

Stay tuned for updates.

Yeeh ha!

For those of you who are first time visitors, you can read about the origin of this blog if you click into the October 2008 Archives at the right of this page.

The Hudson of Coincidence, a Doug Adams experience

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

My current photographic project —  http://chazimages.com/current-projects.php — is putting more meat on the bones of my Automotive Art Forms  http://chazimages.com/sculpture.php.  These classic cars are beautiful to look at, but they also all have interesting and unique histories.  That entails more research on new entries and sharing of that history along with the images.

 

So, just the other day, I was working in the garage when one of the neighborhood walkers stopped to chat.  I knew he was a kindred spirit when he identified as a Corvette Stingray the shrouded shape in the shadows of my garage.  He further validated his credentials when he listed some of his former rides (my favorite, a Fiat 500!)  My current neighborhood has not seemed as “car aware” as my last.  Cars here seem to be more like appliances or status symbols; where as, back in the old neighborhood a lot of the Saturday afternoon socializing revolved around cars and garages.   But now, a ray of hope!  I  don’t know if I will ever find a garage buddy to share beers and wrenches again (unless Peter Egan moves into the neighborhood), but at least I know there is “car talk” to be had.

 

Ray (the neighbor walker) was full of information about local car shows and other interesting automotive resources.  And most remarkably and coincidentally, he is the source of the “Hudson of Coincidence”.  He sent me a link to a You Tube automotive subculture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB6apYb5mJI&feature=email , “TheOriginalWheelsTV.  Chuck Derer, the producer, has recorded interviews with numerous car fans and made them available on You Tube.  They are at least as interesting as those by Jay Leno on Jay Leno’s Garage, but without the annoying lead in commercials.

 

The “Hudson of Coincidence” occurred when I viewed the You Tube clip on the Hudson Italia.  What an interesting, unique, and rare car.  And it so happens that I was at the time struggling with an image from an AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) show of a couple of years ago.

Wouldn’t yah know it, it’s a Hudson Italia.  True to the You Tube clip, it’s in the original, and only factory color, Cream.  This is a very rare car; only 26 were built, and only 5 are known to exist today.  Luck would have it that I now have seen 2 of the 5.  There you have it; a lucky conversation, a fellow enthusiast, a cool new link, progress on my Automotive Art Form histories.

Car Collector silly season

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

How can this Garage Envy blogger resist tuning in to at least a few minutes of a Barrett- Jackson, or a Russo Steele auto auction?  He can’t.  This is Garage Envy in full bloom.  These enthusiasts are living out each or our fantasy’s  of owning a piece of our own automotive past.

 

Car auctions go on all year long, but without major racing series events to distract me, now seems to be the time that I pay most attention to auctions.  I was first dismayed to see the continuing trend of emphasis on American  muscle cars in the broadcast auctions.  If you read the collector rags, the full gamut of cars are changing hands, but muscle cars are apparently what draw the TV audience.  It’s really awesome to watch the prices some of these cars are pulling down this season; there seems to be no recession in the car collector  community.

One thing I am having trouble sorting out is that many of these cars are too nice.  They get pushed onto the auction block with gloved hands, doors and hoods are gently opened and closed, polishing cloths are always at hand.  These cars are “garage queens”.   They deserve to be driven.  Maybe only gently and on sunny days, but they need to be out there burning up some miles.  Preferably at yours or my hand.  That’s why Jay Leno’s brand of collectorship is at the core of Garage Envy’s  focus; his cars get driven.

I have a personal prescription for the “too nice to be driven” restorers, emulate the ancient Navajo rug maker strategy of allowing a small mistake to remain in the finished work.  That way the result isn’t too perfect to use.  My own  Navajo experience at restoration included an Austin Healey with a “perfect” paint job that had a rocker panel rust breakout shortly after completion and a Karman Ghia that nicked the door jam when being backed out of the paint garage.   Believe me, those restorations rolled up plenty of miles after completion; probably aided by their lack of perfection.

So I stand by waiting for a call from any of those successful auction bidders.  If they want a bit of that perfection to be rubbed off of their “garage queen”, I’m their man.

Less than "perfect" Austin Healey

Less than “perfect” Austin Healey