Monday, December 22, 2008

With Progress comes Forfeiture

In 1989, I was a sophomore at the University of Arizona. That summer, my neighbor was selling a 1967 Piaggio Vespa 125 Super for $50. I was excited, and bought it as fast as I could. The engine was stuck as it had been sitting for several years in a garage. I took it to Dave's Kart and Cycle in Phoenix. For $250 they got it running. I rode it the following year down in Tuscon. I transferred to Northern Arizona University the following semester. After the first heavy snow came, I knew that Flagstaff was not place for my Vespa. So it got trailered back to my parents' house. There is stayed for the next 20 years. I rode it to my summer jobs. After college, I moved to Los Angeles. I didn't take the Vespa with me. It was kept in the shed at my parents'.

I met my wife in Los Angeles. When we would come back to visit my parents, we would ride it around the neighborhood. Fond memories. My wife, Tammy, has a younger brother named Patrick. When he would come to visit from Missouri, we would ride the Vespa around the neighborhood. I have a great deal of nostalgic affection for the Vespa. That is why it killed me to sell it yesterday. We needed the money to pay for the things we want done to the Pickle. It was the logical decision, but I can't help but to feel a little sad. Well, more than a little sad.

The good news is I sold it to a guy, Boxcar Chris from the HAMB, who is going to leave it in the original condition, not part it out, and ride it. That made it all worth it...

Patrick and me, circa 1996...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The new motor has been located!!

Well thanks to Chris Parese, I have found an engine builder. His name is Ron Deneke of Ron's Just Chevys

Ron has been building engines for a long time. I would much rather buy an engine from someone who builds engines in his garage, than a crate engine from some big company. He is a jack of all trades and is definitely going to be an asset throughout the rest of this build. There are a lot of things that I do not know how to do. Ron will be able to fill in those gaps.

I am putting in a Chevy 350 ci, with 315 hp. There should be plenty of get-up-and-go with this motor. The one stipulation from my Dad was that the Pickle NOT have an automatic transmission. "No self-respecting hot rod had an automatic transmission in my day." So we located a Muncie M22 "rock crusher" 4-speed manual transmission. Although this was a large financial investment, it was agreed that the drive train is not the right place to cut corners. So I have attached a copy of two photo graphs of the new motor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Goodbye to the mill

Well we had a couple buddies come over and help us pull the motor. Chris Parese and Rob Bolvin, fortunately, knew more than I did about pulling motors. So Chris brought over his engine puller. After we finally assembled it correctly, we were off...enjoy the vintage Beasties...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Some Good News and Some Bad News

Well, we shipped the Pickle off to Greenway Auto. It is a small neighborhood repair shop down the street. We drove by it one day and saw numerous old cars in the front bays. So we went in and were initially taken back by the hundreds of photographs of hot rod and customs they had worked on over the years. We knew we were in the right place.

So they looked the engine over, got the stuck rear break hub off, machined a new one to fit, wired the brakes and a host of other things we had neither the tools nor the know-how to complete.

They called a few weeks later and said they had some good news and bad news. They were able to get the inline 6 to run but the compression was crap. I guess that shouldn't have been surprising since the Oklahoma license plate that was on the vehicle was from 1978.

It needed to be rebuilt. And after it was rebuilt, there was no telling in what condition was the transmission going to be. So we were forced to make the decision to put a newer engine in it or keep the old one. The cheaper and more logical choice was the newer engine. So that is what we are going to go with.

It saddens me to lose that stock engine, but the I think the real issue is the ability to reliably drive the car. So, the decision was made.

Below are some photos of the Pickle before it went off to the mechanic. And the video was the brief time we had to drive it as it limped home from Greenway Auto.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Body Parts

I bought some paint remover to see how that would work. It only took off the house paint that was the last coat hand brushed by some previous owner. What it did do, though, was expose the original sea foam green that was the original color of the pickle. Pretty cool.


Well the front right fender of the Pickle was not salvageable. It had been in some previous accident and hammered out by someone who had as much hammer and dolly experience as I have.

So we went to the junk yard down in Casa Grande as seen in an earlier post. We didn't find the fender we were looking for. So I found the web site for East West Auto Parts out in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

They told me they had a 1950 fender and bumper filler. I asked them for a photo since I didn't want to buy it sight unseen. They sent me back an e-mail saying, "No photo, fender is straight and solid."

So I was a little pissed with the reply, but it is hard to find parts like fenders, so I went ahead and bought the two items. About two weeks later, a giant crate arrived with my fender and bumper filler. It was like Christmas.

We opened the crate and the first thing I saw was a giant patch of bondo,

and a dent under the light. I also noticed that the bumper filler was very different from the one we had. I knew immediately that it wasn't the right year. I looked at the fender and saw that the hole for the running light was different. I then saw the part number on it. It was about a 6-digit number that ended in "52." my Dad remembered that the part numbers from the Casa Grande junk yard all ended in the year of the car. So we pulled out the shop manual and discovered that the chrome on the fender matched that of the the 1952 Pontiac. We were pissed. Mom was the cool one that kept us from hiring an assassin in Oklahoma. The "straight and solid" comment pissed me off as much as the parts being the wrong year did.

We broke out the tape measure and started to see if things lined up. They did, with the exception of a few holes that could be drilled out anyway. I still called to raise hell. They offered to take the parts back, but said they would work. I don't think that they saw the "point of my argument."

The fender is held on with a combination of bolts and screws. The screws all came out relatively easily. All of the 58-year-old bolts snapped off. There were a few rivets that we took the cutting wheel. That was pretty cool. Sparks everywhere.

The fender did end up fitting. There are some slight differences. Most of them will be hidden. The only really noticeable one is on the length of the fender that meets the hood. That part of the seam is angled back a little more on the '52, but we decided we could live with it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rebuilding the Generator

One of the next things we decided to do was to rebuild the generator. I ordered the rebuild kit with all of the others. The great thing about these kits is that they do not come with instructions. So for the operation to be successful the three of us must combine an examination of the parts from the part to be rebuilt and the bag of new parts, to see what similarities exist between old and new parts. Then the exchange is made...and then...hope the car doesn't explode when we try to start it.

The generator rebuild kit seemed simple enough. I was composed of two new brushes and two new bearings.

And although the generator appeared buried in rust, it was easy enough to remove.

Any kind of model number has long since faded away. But it was out, and that was good.

The brushes are held in place by a spring loaded arm that presses them against the copper coils of the doo-hickey that spins in the middle of the generator. Those were easily replaced once we figured out that the metal sleeve around the generator needed to be on to affix them to those arms.

But to replace the bearings was another story. The face plates needed to be removed. To do that we needed to get the pin that held the pulley on off of the shaft in the front.

On other cars, the pin just sits in the slot. We used a vice, vice grips, liquid wrench, a hammer and an F-16 air strike to try to get the pin out. The pin actually started to have small chips begin to come out of it, so we cried, "uncle."

Fortunately, the generator has little holes covered by latched that allow someone to drop "8 or 9 drops of oil" down these holes so that the bearing could be lubricated. So we just oiled the old bearings and that was the best we could do.

This last week I continued to shed the pickle of its green coat. And look for a new green with which to replace it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Milner's walk through the junkyard

We are in desperate need of some parts. The front right fender is trashed. The Pickle was in an accident at some time and the front right fender was smashed and crudely repaired. I don't think its salvageable. Also, we took the back-up lights off and found that the bezels were completely rusted through. Also not salvageable. So we took a trip to Deer Valley Auto Salvage

We drive to Casa Grande since, we later discovered after a wasted trip to the north Phoenix location, that is the yard that has the pre-1959 cars.

There were thousands of cars all in some state of disassembly. As I walked with my parents, we had instantaneous moments of excitement as we would point and call out the different makes and models we recognized. I was besieged with numerous stories my parents had about specific cars and their life experiences they had with them. They would also point out the differences in body styles from year to year. It was great.

As I looked at the rows of vehicle lying in this yard slowly rotting away, I had a moment of nostalgia, thinking about how each car had its own story. I would imagine the original owner buying the car off of the lot, and being so excited to get it home and take some loved ones for a ride. I would even think of different life events that took place in those vehicles. Now they are left abandoned in that yard. I felt somewhat responsible as a human being for their current plight.

We came across an old panel van. It had "Whiting Bros." on the door. My parents became excited and said, "That used to be a gas station, God, I haven't seen those in a hundred years."

They also had motels. This is a drawing of one from Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona.

Unfortunately, all things pass, die, and fade away....

And from the yard....

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Putting a Face with the Car

One of the days when I was working with my parents on the Pickle, they told me about the time of year when all of the auto manufacturers would release all of the new models of their line. It was a really big event. Entire families would get dressed up and head down to the local dealership. There would be spotlights that lit up the night sky to attract people. Folks would go down to the dealership just to LOOK at the new models, to see what changes in body styles and features there were.

Those days are long gone. Gone also are the days that car owners took pictures with themselves next to their car. My parents explained that everyone took a photo of the car they had with themselves standing by it or sitting in it. They said that people just don't do that anymore.

I thought about what they said. It took me back to my very first car, a 1975 VW Bug. I couldn't have been more excited. I took a ton of pictures, but none of me with the car. How sad.

I did a little search on the internet and here are a few photos I found. 'Seems there is a long history of people taking pictures of themselves with their car. When did it end? I am guessing it coincided with the first plastic bumper.

Some traditions need to be kept alive...