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Reconstruction of a '34 Chevy Master Coupe


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For those of you who hate to see a car "wasting away"...I have had one of my 1931 Dodge coupes since I was 15 years old. I am now 56. It was my very first car. It is still only half restored. Between having children, a divorce, loss of job, moving and other circumstances, it may never get done. Oh well...it's mine and I can dream. I may have the chance to finish it. If I don't, at least I have saved it from getting chopped and rodded.

I have one which sort of falls in Keiser 31's category. It is a 1934 Chevrolet Master coupe. My uncle bought it in 1943. In about 1945 he either sold it or gave it to my dad who drove it until about 1950-51. It was then parked behind the equipment shed on my grandfather's farm. The wheels went on a hay wagon. The seat went on to my grandfather's buggy. We played in it as kids. It was still fairly complete then. I went back in 1979, then 1989 to show my kids where their grasndmother had grown up. By then it was only a shell. Have a peek at what time does.

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I then started doing some research, in books, on forums especially the VCCA and decided to attempt to rebuild the car. How bold the innocent! First thing I did was gather the wood, identifiy each piece, shellac it so it sort of stays together and figure what I was missing. The plan was to redo the wood structure in softwood to reconstruct the body on it and not damage good hardwood with welding, grinding etc.

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Should I continue this on a separate thread?

Pat :)

Yes, without question. This is the forum for just that type of story telling. There is a lot of interest in witnessing the rebuilding and/or resurection of varied types of projects, not to mention providing motivation to those observing and inspiration to those posting the results of their efforts. I for one will be watching if you decide to post your project here. Good luck no matter what your decision is. Scott...

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I had started this in the Sticky thread-The new "current restoration projects", postings 62,63,66,68,69. Looks like I was in the wrong place for a long description.

After the heap was taken apart I set out to find the missing pieces. I found a crushed town sedan in a farmer's windrow locally. A coach on an abandoned farm about an hour away. Five fenders in an old scrapyard. None of it very promising. My wife wasn't impressed. :rolleyes:

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I also found some headlights and wheels at a flea market. A grille shell in a friend's garage and a pair of fenders complete with running boards. Well, the fenders turned out to be for a Standard as well as the headlights. Some of the wheels weren't for a '34 at all. I soon recognized that the qualifier "fits '34 Chevrolet" shouldn't be taken at face value. I started seeing the question asked on eBay postings; "Is it for a Standard or a Master?". Clearly, this wasn't leading anywhere. :confused:

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Following up on a lead, I contacted a gentleman who would take some of that stuff in exchange for the correct stuff. So I loaded the frame from the car in the windrow, the Standard fenders and headlights and off I went to New York State. Turns out he was cutting up a body for the quarter panels so I got the roof panels I needed as wellas a trunk lid, front and rear suspensions, more wood patterns and odds and sods. :)

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At about that time I was called to work. I found an ad for a Close coupled sedan, Canadianese for a Sport Sedan. I bought that. Then another one for the drivetrain af another car that someone rodded. So now I had two drivetrains, two sidemount hardware sets, and a few other things. I never did get his luggage rack though. Also, one of the farmers on my pipeline route had a pile of white ash , sort of grayed and weathered but well cured. I was now ready to start.

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I started with the wood. I copied what I could from the originals. Some parts were missing one end but when we could find the middle, it was feasible to repeat the mirror image. I had to order what I couldn't reproduce, however I ordered one of each and made a copy whenever thee were rights and lefts.

Pat :)

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Once I had the wood pieces done I started experimenting with assemblies using hard points such as the dash, rocker panels and the body mounting points on the frame. Lo and behold most of it fit. I even have evidence of blood being shed on the windshield header. :)

Pat

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Well aren’t you the master woodworker. Nice work. I’m glad that you made the decision to post your restoration efforts here. If you haven’t noticed already there appears to be a decent following of your posts of which I’ve been one of. I’ve not quite figured out how far you're along on your restoration project or if you're recapping the restoration that you had already completed. But to be sure it makes no difference as it is good reading and we all want to see how this story ends and if the pictures to date are any indication I’m sure it turns out with a happy ending. I’ll be watching, Scott…

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Scotts_ DG8, you are correct that I am recapping but the project is not finished. If you look closely it takes place in three different garages. I moved all this stuff twice in 4 years.

The Durant roadster that Willys 77 is talking about will make a nice project for someone. There are pictures of it in the Durant forum.

I am not that good a woodworker as there is a definite difference of quality between the pieces I made and the ones I purchased from Dave Entler. However they fit, that's what matters. I keep reminding myself that I'm not doing a Pebble Beach Duesenberg here.

Here's a few more. When I saw the coumpond curves of the side roof rails I figured I'd have to purchase the other side as well. But I managed to get it close using a hand plane and an old spokeshave. :)

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I had obtained some instructions on how to assemble the wood structure. It suggested starting with the cowl, and once you had the door openings straight the rest just adds on to it. So I placed the hinge pillars and the windshield header in the cowl with the idea of mounting the cowl to the car as a starting point. The passenger side wood wouldn't find its place in the sheet metal. Turns out the windshield post had been severely dented and the outside had been filled with lead which is visible in one of the photos. A fellow hobbyist who is also a bodyman suggested that I use the cowl from the sedan as it was sound. That was a departure from my initial plan of using as much material from my dad's car as I could. But sometimes reason has to prevail. :(

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At about that time we moved to the property where we are now. The first order of business was to knock the old garage down and build something more suitable. That took the better part of the summer of '05. Not much work went on on the car during that time.

By the way, a couple of years later, I renovated the basement and used up the rest of the white ash in a staircase.

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I then proceeded to remove the cowl from the sedan to use instead of mine since it was so much better. I also had one bright idea. Since the front doors of a sedan are the same as those on a 5-window coupe, I might as well take the side roof panels along with the cown since they were almost nonexistent on the coupe.

I had it blasted & primed before mounting it. ;)

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Next the cowl was attached to the front of the main sills using the pre-drilled holes.(yellow arrow). Then the hinge pillars and dash crossbar were installed. Then the hinge pillar was screwed to the main sill. At this stage the sedan posts and the old roof rails were removed and the new stuff was installed with the lock pillars being located first with a rocker panel then a door. Once it looked like it was going to fit everything was tied together.

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Sure is a lot of work going on here. The good though is having a new workspace for this project and from the pictures a rather nice space too. Good pictures on the garage not to mention your stairs down to the basement which appear to have turned out nice. Looking forward to when the back end meets up with the front end and the car starts to take shape. Good job. Scott...

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Thanks Scott.You are right, that project has been a lot of work. Looking back on what I have done I question the wisdom of attempting it. I just hope to complete it before I bite the dust. It must look amateurish compared to some of the great skills showcased on this forum. The first one I read through was Dean's 29 Hupmobile. That just blew me away. And Mr. Zimmerman, wow!!! However, you'll see that even while learning as you go you can still get some results. Even if you have to do some things three times.

Pat

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landman, yu are my hero!! my first car was a 34 chevy master tudor with the trunk on the back. as i remwmber the trunk was not removable. drove it all thru high school, sold it in 1953 still a good car. the wood in the doors was "loose" but they worked.

i think you are doing super work and you are one brave man to take on a project that involved. i will follow your progress daily. thanks for posting, it helps us older guys keep going.

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Thanks Raywilks and Ben. As we go you'll see how things get almost beyond my skills here.

As per the instructions, once I had the cowl where it was supposed to be and the door openings of the correct size then it was mostly a matter of assembling the wood on my way to the rear of the car. That went pretty well. I used the decklid opening gutter to sort of determine the size of the hole. Then I put the trunklid on to see how it all fell together. The trunk opening side rails actually ended up connecting with the rear cross sill although I had to insert some lineup bars and wiggle and pry a bit.

In the upper left corner of "Body wood 2A" you can see two darker pieces in the beltrail/quarter window area. Those are the only pieces of original wood in the car.At least from my dad's car. There are a few pieces from the sedan in the doors.

Then I realized I had only one rear roof rail bracket for a coupe. So I cobbled the other one out of a sedan part. :)

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After the skin was on, I began looking for thing to fix. There was a shotgun hole (green), at least three bullet holes(pink), a crack at three of the trunk opening corners (yellow), a crack at the bottom center of the rear panel. Both rear corners were gone as well as each quarter panel behind the doors. The moisture had gathered in those areas with leaves and lord knows what else. The passenger side wheelhouse moulding also had a hole right in the bead. Of course the inner wheelhouses were swiss cheese and half the roof wasn't there. So there was in fact things to fix. One photo shows my first welds ever on the trunk corner cracks and one of the bullet holes. For a first time I think I did OK. Only two of them had to be redone. :rolleyes:

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Pat,

<O:p</O:pWell now there is a shape and obviously both a lot of work to get there and still a lot of work to go at this point. The good news is that your efforts and skills are showing as you’ve already accomplished more than most would every attempt. Great job for sure. You mentioned that we’ll see some things that may get beyond your skills, what I’ve found is that that’s only the case if one doesn’t forge ahead expanding their skills. It can get scary at times but with a little patience and guidance you might be surprised at what one can accomplish if they are up to trying. Again, great job to this point. And you wondered if you should post this effort, I for one am very happy that you did. Scott…

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Well Scott, thanks for the vote of confidence. It's just that my stuff looks so crude compared to the slick work one sees here. Anyway, the attached pictures show the patching of the passenger side rear corner. I used part of the sedan roof panel which had the right curve. You see, I have no English wheel and all those other goodies. The white lines in the picture "patch panels 3" show where I flanged it. I didn't trust myself with a butt weld yet. And I figured that after 50 years in the field it might not be 18 gauge anymore but more like 22. I had a similar one on the other side as well. I also did the shotgun hole at that time but for some reason I have no photos of it. :)

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In order to replace the inner rear fenders I cut the ones from my car inside the mounting nuts. I cut the ones from the sedan outside the mounting nuts. The idea was to use the hole of one to line up with those of the other and somehow trim them out later.

One of the wheelwells from the sedan needed a patch. Being in the patch business I made one. And welded it in on plastic sawhorses no less. No need to tell you the rest of that story.

For the time being, I just bolted them on.

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Now, here I have to digress a bit. The day I was cutting the whellwells off the coupe with the sawzall, my daughter came in & took a picture. She said she wanted to show her friends what kind of hobby I had. So I left it at that. She then took it to a photographer along with a photo of my dad taken more or less when he owned the car and had his picture ghosted over mine. It looks like the ghost of my dad watching me work on his car. They had that mounted in a frame and gave it to me for Christmas. Needless to say, I was totally speechless for several minutes.

That picture hangs in my garage and is my motivation.

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