Blog Entries posted by pflaming
I forgot about this so better get started. One of the most stated responses to the truck is "Oh, you kept the flathead six."". Two days ago an employ at a tire shop commented " ,those cast iron engines were real s"engines"! And when it starts on the first cycle, they are impressed.
If an engine has run for many an rpm, it will change the insides, most notably the top of the cylinders, for a ring of 'carbon' will build up. This ring reduces the length of the piston's travel. To compensate for that loss several things must happen, the rods must torque a bit, or the bearings must give a bit, or the crankshaft or the piston or some of all of these must compensate for a shorter available stroke.
Eventually, especially when the engine must pull a heavy load, or climb a long hill, or is suddenly called upon to run at significantly higher rpms, or is run hot or on less oil something will give.
Thus the reason to pull the head on an unfamiliar engine and check if there is a ring and remove whatever is there for with that removed, the engine now is able to run it's rpms with full freedom. By assuring that the piston has full range of motion the engine's life is extended.
In like manner the valves, cleaned and seated provides the air flow required thus a cooler temperature and thus less fatigue. Now these improvements do not a new engine make, but they may provide the amount of extended time one needs until a complete build is required or desired.
I find the basics of the mechanical arena as interesting as the infinite details, important as they may be and by knowing and improving the basics I can enjoy this hobby without spending lots of money.
Now if I can refrain from burning down the shop, I may be able to play a bit longer.
Definition: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use, which adds value to an antique or collectible and should not be cleaned.
Patina: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, expecially with age or use, which adds value to an antique, collectible or scarce and should not be cleaned, in some cases, and preserved in other cases.
I grew up in a farm/ranch environment on the edge of the Southern Nebraska Sand hills. Our neighbors to the east and south were miles away, those to the west were closer, yet our closest neighbor was a mile and a half away. It was the late 40's and early 50's and things were not plentiful. We ate well, had a warm house, a good home life, but not many extras.
Most of our toys were made from scrap wood and metal. I made a toy 'self propelled' grain harvester (combine) out of a 12" 4x4, a license plate folded 90 degrees for the header, two pair of large jar lids for the front wheels and a furniture swivel wheel for the rear. We recycled things long before recycling became 'cool'.
I have always liked hot rodding. I had scores of the early "Hot Rod" magazines when I was in high school, the ones that were about 3.5 x 7 inches, small magazines. I dreamed of doing such, yet didn't. As I grew older the skills of body work were not mine and the cost of painting discouraged me from 'restoring' older vehicles.
When I first saw a patina finish truck, then one big obstacle was removed. I appreciate the skill and labor required for a very nicely painted vehicle yet I have a preference for an original surface. I am not all that excited about the faux patina painted vehicles. To me faux is not foxy. So then the patina surface allows me to 'restore' an old vehicle, enjoy the tasks and become a small part of this hobby.
Today I was cleaning small external engine parts such as a solenoid, starter, regulator cap, for repainting. I was using a wire wheel brush and my drill motor. I find it very enjoyable to take a rusty item, wheel brush, sand, etch primer, paint it and make it look nearly new. As I was doing that today it reminded me of my youth.
My point is this. There are two very expensive items in the restoration process, upholstery and paint. That patina surfaces are now acceptable and all sorts of implanted seats will work in an old vehicle, those two items no longer prohibit a novice or one with somewhat limited resources from working with an old vehicle. My philosophy is to bolt off, fix or replace and bolt back on. That way the vehicle is never damaged for someone later who may prefer a finer result.
Often times, progress occurs when we step back a few paces and reevaluate the larger definitions of creativity and imagination.
"It's your truck, make it the way you want it" is a statement we hear quite often. I am adhering to that creed with the repairs on this fire damaged truck. I have never been a 'cookie cutter' person and that has hurt me to some degree. When I was a debate 'coach' in a 10-12 high school of 3,000 students, my teams competed against coaches who were speech majors, most had their MA degrees and some their PHD's. yet my teams beat their teams on a regular basis.
A normal win loss record in those days was 60 W / 40 L. The last three years my team's loss percentage was 95W / 5 L and that included every team I entered in competition. We competed in some 30+ tournaments in 22 weekends, in a five state area. Four of my last five teams earned the privilege to compete at the National Debate Tournament.
My argumentative teaching was NOT textbook but were always within the rules. I never heard one of my teams debate at home nor in competition. I only wrote two debate cases in eight years and both won the State Tournament Trophy in two consecutive years. We then missed one year and then won two more back to back titles. So I do not have a cookie cutter mentality.
A few of you have given me some very good advice concerning what to do with the finish on Phoenix. I have very carefully considered all those suggestions and given them all the respect they deserve. Yet I like the creativity that working with a vehicle allows. So I have chosen to protect this finish with a good cleaning, then with a phosphoric acid etch treatment followed by coats of clear gloss. Clear gloss is PAINT WITHOUT COLOR so it affords the same protection that color affords.
I trust those who have offered my advice will not be offended and that the results will be in some way educational, thought provoking, and enjoyed by most.
So now back to the truck and thank you for reading this far.
If I recall correctly the discovery of fire was one of the most helpful discoveries in the education of man, the invention of the wheel the second. There is a gigantic difference between fire and the wheel. Fire is a natural action to be discovered the wheel was invented.
According to reports from the early explorers, the grasses in the North American Plains were knee and waist deep before they were plowed under. With that much matter and nothing to eat it all, after a winter's covering of snow that would be a thick mat which would not allow anything to grow through, so how then did the grass survive? Fire! Not only were the plains renewed by fire, so were the forests. Scriptures state that gold is refined by fire. They also say that at the judgement man kinds' life accomplishments will be tried the same way. Now those could be metaphors, yet they carry a serious meaning.
When a fireman looks at a fire, all contents to him are fuel; not precious antiques, or papers, or trucks. The only thing that is important is to control the fire and then extinguish it. The only fuel the firemen at our fire did not go after were rounds of ammunition. When they started to pop, the fireman looked me up.
Before a fire the owner's possessions are valuable, some priceless. Yet after a fire, when the clean up begins the fire separates the important from the mundane. We clean our buildings and often times we don't really clean, we just reorganize putting less valuable items further back into the room, rafters, or attic. There they may eventually become fuel!
There were items I found that at one time I could not discard yet after the fire no longer had meaning. After just a quick thought they were tossed. They had served itheir purpose.But what survives does become important.
For example, in one pile of debris taken out by the firemen and tossed in the back yard, I found wrapped in wet newspaper a porcelain nativity scene, complete with animals, shepherds, wise men, Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus, God incarnate, lying in a manger, not one arm or horn or finger was broken or cracked. It reminded me of a verse in Matthew 28.20 where Jesus said, "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world [garage]"!
Two things in closing. I did not realize how hard it is to get soot off of my hands, if so there, then the same everywhere else. No wonder the smell of a fire lingers so long, and finally how a fire draws out one's friends. I hope I am worthy so that my friends stick to me like the soot.
My paternal grandfather was a farmer/pastor in the early 1900's. My grandmother was known for her life of prayer. One summer afternoon they had a major hail and wind storm. This was in Western Nebraska. The next morning at the breakfast table, Grandma noted, "Well Henry, we've got a lot of praying to do", to which Grandpa said, "No, we've got a lot of work to do!"
When I was in high school we put up hay on a large meadow. Some neighbors hayed the meadow next to us. In the morning we could not mow hay til the dew dried off. Elmer, the neighbor would periodically grasp a handful of hay and twist it. When a sample was dry he would say. "Well Paul, the sooner to war; the sooner to peace". So now I've got some work to do and a war to be fought. With the forum soldiers along side me the battles will be won thus the war as well. I think the kitty died of smoke, that will be a tough one.
The fire is ironic because I was doing a thorough cleaning before I continued, just to prevent such. When I clean I throw trash in one direction and good items go on a large temporary table. Clean rags here, dirty rags there, and crying towels over my shoulder. I was rebuilding a couple of carburetors in the area where the fire started and so I wonder . . .
I have an engine on a stand in front of the truck so it certainly protected the grille. One tire is down the others still up, maybe not safe anymore, but holding air. The wires in the cab are toast but the steering wheel is fine, I suspect the gauges will be suspect. So new wiring harness, not interested in cutting and pasting, and anything rubber or plastic as well.
I can feel the adrenalin starting to fade so going to take five. Then plan my next seven weeks so I can get the truck ready to drive to the BBQ. Guess then I will name her Phoenix. Maybe everyone can bring a couple rattle cans of paint and we can paint it Saturday morning.
While testing a starter on a 56 flat head, I explained and demonstrated how electricity works to my nine year old grandson. First I explained to him that a power outlet in a house is connected to a large network of lines which go back to some electrical power generating source, such as a water turbine.
The I showed him how one can move power from an outlet via a battery charger to a battery. I showed him how the charger did nothing until we plugged it into the outlet and then how the positive and negative clamps would then spark. We attached those clamps to a six volt battery and showed him how the needle indicated that energy was moving from the outlet into the battery. And finally how that we could prove that by touching a wire from the positive pole to the negative pole and a spark would occur which meant that we just let a little bit of energy escape from the battery.
Then we looked at the starter and and its motionless engaging gear. When we put two wires to the starter and that gear spun, his eyes were wide open. I then had him put his hand on my wrist and we repeated the action; then his hand on my hand then my hand on his wrist and finally he did it himself. When he touched that hot wire to that starter by himself and that gear spun, he was one excited little boy.
Tomorrow I will teach him that the starter is an electric motor and how that small motor turns over a LARGE engine. Later when the L6 is running, we will learn how the electricity flows from the generator to the spark plugs and etc.
Next week is going to be a fun week, and all because some eight years ago I picked up an old truck sitting on the side of the road and learned how to become a novice hobby mechanic. My success though is also the success of the many who have helped me and who continue to do so.
It has been said that it takes a lot of money to restore a vehicle. There is a lot of truth in that statement, but it is not the final truth. I have found that patience is money! The most obvious item I needed was the '52 grille. That grill has eleven (11) pieces to it. The park light mounts are water traps so they rust out fast and thus are hard to find. A good rear bumper is another allusive item. Few trucks were sold with bumpers so there are not many available and most of those that are are not usable.
So I decided I would look for the hard to find parts early, before I needed them. If one impatiently buys these parts the price of rebuilding a vehicle skyrockets. So when I discovered these were very expensive (on ebay, for example) I just kept my eyes open.
One day someone posted he was looking for a rear bumper, a forum member in the San Jose, CA. had one he was willing to give away because it was 'damaged', that is, it was not pristine. The seeker turned down the offer so i put my name it. Since I have an original patina finish, this bumper was ideal for me. In short I got the bumper free. I have a friend who does a lot of business in the San Jose area and he put the bumper in his pickup and I even got it home freight free.
One evening someone posted a '52 Dodge Logging truck for sale. If no one was interested he was going to torch it and sell it for scrap. I offered him $200 clams for the grille and anything else I needed from the cab. He agreed and I got my grille, the headlight buckets, dash knobs, and one windshield glass.
Now I must regress a bit, In an earlier post I showed a red hood. My garage opens to an alley and I made the mistake of leaving my upper hood out and it grew legs. I found the red one in the Lodi, CA area for $100 clams. When I got it home and removed the paint, underneath was the same color blue as my truck. So I changed grit numbers and took it off slowly. Some of the red was stubborn so I left it, "patina flame!".
Now back to the grille. It was white when I found it. I took it home and put a high pressure steam cleaner to it and underneath was RED. Now that matched the red 'flames' on the hood so I left that paint on and the red grille fit into the paint scheme.
My point is, look down the road shop ahead of your need and you may well find those hard to find parts at a reasonable price and thereby significantly lower your resto investment.
Aristotle's instructions for a complete exposition starts by stating that background information is prerequisite to a full understanding or a full explanation of said topic. So a brief bit of history is in order.
Some eight years ago, a friend and I were returning from scoping out a couple of lakes for potential fishing holes. On the return, via a different route we saw this truck sitting on the side of the road. We turned around out of curiosity to check it out.
It had sat in that spot for 17 years, and the lady at the door wished someone would haul it off. I offered to do so for $200. 00 and she liked that. So the following day we returned with a trailer and took it home. It then sat for another three years. Little by little I worked on it, doing simple things first because I have never worked on cars. I decided that I could remove, fix or replace, about anything so that became my mode of operation. Below is what I hauled home.
Then I found the p15-d24 forum and started to learn a few things. Greybeard was a patient, knowledgeable teacher. He became my first mentor. With his guidance I restored the engine.
I found the head and manifolds in the bed. So when I got it home, I pulled it and put ATF in the cylinders, as it seeped down I would add a little more. Finally I got it started, then I tore it apart and rebuilt the top, pistons, rings, valves, head, etc and ended up with this.
And now it looks like this.
To be continued
I showed our Comcast serviceman my car project. When he walked into my shop, which had become quite cluttered because I have three projects going, his first remark was "Wow,what a man cave!" When I told my wife I showed him my shop, she said to him, 'I never go out there, he cleans it periodically but it's usually cluttered again". The serviceman, a young man of mid 20's said, "a man cave is not cluttered as long as one can walk through it". Now that is a smart young man.
I'm currently working on a '54 Plymouth Suburban. He really thought that was a cool car. He had never seen a 50's two door wagon. By the way, everyone likes this car. I will keep it close to stock. I will put in a '56 Plymouth engine, overdrive tyranny, disc brakes up front, 3:73 differential, 87 T-bird bucket seats, slightly modify the dash, shave the hood, add AC, and go 12 volt wiring to name a few 'upgrades'.
With overdrive and a 3:73 rear axle it should get 22-24 mpg on the highway and cruse at 70 mph. This will then become my daily driver and replace the B3B
I bought a '56 Plymouth engine in Fresno, a 90 mile round trip. WIth the 3:73 differential, that 800# engine did not slow down the old truck one iota on the return ride home it ran very smooth at 65 mph. Stopped for a taco at a roadside 'kitchen'. One of the best taco's I've eaten. The owner/cook liked the truck. Found out he was born in 1952 so same age as the truck, neat. Another one of the priceless intangibles of driving an old vehicle.
This was my first test run with my truck. I took my grand daughter along. She loved every minute of the ride. The park is about 50 minutes from our house. Our house is about 500 ft above sea level; Sequoia National Park is just above 6,000'. I figured if the truck could pull that hill it was good to go and it did.
At the park a visitor and his son, from Germany, came to my truck. They were all excited to see it. The son said he had seen pictures but never a real one and to see one out of a museum was even more exciting. I took their camera and took a picture of them by the truck. They were thrilled.
Will keep adding stories, stay tuned.