Jump to content

Ava, my grandfather's 1938 Dodge D8 Sedan


Recommended Posts

Well, I'm new here, and I joined the forum to get help on my current labor of love, "Ava", my grandfather's 1938 Dodge D8 Sedan. Ava was parked in 1942 due to WWII shortages, and spent the next 80 years either sitting, or being moved around from barn to barn as my father's farm slowly decayed. It has been damaged by carelessness and wild animals (to include my crazy older brother, who did in the windows) but remains an extremely solid vehicle. It is very complete, and the body is solid with on small rust through in the trunk, where I believe mouse urine ate it away from the inside. It is a dirty, dirty car with a stuck engine, and I am debating on whether to replace the engine.

My goal is to have a driver that isn't ugly. No hot rod and no concours here. My wife and I would love to drive some of the old roads and stop at the local drive ins for ice cream from time to time. And honor my grandfather Herman, who truly loved this car.

Here are some pics of Ava as she saw the light of day for the first time in at least 40 years.

post-87386-143139124941_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124977_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124947_thumb.jpg

post-87386-14313912495_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124954_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124958_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124962_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124965_thumb.jpg

post-87386-14313912497_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139124974_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool car! Can't wait to see it cleaned up a little. There should be loads of information on this forum for you. Luckily, the ram on the front was not snapped off and that the glass is all flat and easy to replace. I have seen instruments on Ebay.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not, the instruments all still function. They are just missing glass. I don't see why I can't just put new glass in and run it like that.

I am in the process of cleaning it up and general messing around.

Drew

Cool car! Can't wait to see it cleaned up a little. There should be loads of information on this forum for you. Luckily, the ram on the front was not snapped of and that the glass is all flat and easy to replace. I have seen instruments on Ebay.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey 120MM, Thanks for the great photo's of Gramp's car. I am happy to hear you will get her going again. Don't let the dust and rust (which there is very little of), stop your progress. You're lucky too, to have a wife that will have a shared interest, my wife has helped out with my old cars that I've dragged home over the years. You will have so much more fun and less worries to have a "driver" car instead of a trailer queen. Be careful around any mice dust, it can make one very sick, so vacuum and clean with a simple mask at first. You maybe taking inventory of the whole car for a while, I do that but don't be overwhelmed. These old Dodges are easy to work on and parts are plentiful still. That '38 sedan is a great looking car, and it will improve as time goes on. Good luck and post any questions you may have. Get a reprint owners manual and mechanic's handbook. They are invaluable for the information you'll need.---Pete.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey 120MM, Thanks for the great photo's of Gramp's car. I am happy to hear you will get her going again. Don't let the dust and rust (which there is very little of), stop your progress. You're lucky too, to have a wife that will have a shared interest, my wife has helped out with my old cars that I've dragged home over the years. You will have so much more fun and less worries to have a "driver" car instead of a trailer queen. Be careful around any mice dust, it can make one very sick, so vacuum and clean with a simple mask at first. You maybe taking inventory of the whole car for a while, I do that but don't be overwhelmed. These old Dodges are easy to work on and parts are plentiful still. That '38 sedan is a great looking car, and it will improve as time goes on. Good luck and post any questions you may have. Get a reprint owners manual and mechanic's handbook. They are invaluable for the information you'll need.---Pete.

I found owner's manuals for 1939, but haven't seen one for 1938. Will the 1939 suffice, or is there a reprint 1938 out there that I am overlooking. I already have a repair manual and parts manual on the way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazing story - as others have adviced: Get the correct shop manual, it's a must. And I would add: Don't rush it, and have a plan before you start to take things apart.

There are several D8 owners (including myself) on this forum with detailed knowledge of this model.

Good luck!

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites
Amazing story - as others have adviced: Get the correct shop manual, it's a must. And I would add: Don't rush it, and have a plan before you start to take things apart.

There are several D8 owners (including myself) on this forum with detailed knowledge of this model.

Good luck!

Tom

Good advice. So far, I've cleaned out the mouse droppings, removed the seats and the hood/radiator, so I could get to the fly wheel. Once I determine whether to keep the engine I have or not, I just want to get it running. I plan on doing one job at a time, while using it to tool around my small town where I live.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some great shots there Drew! There should be specific owner's manuals for the car available. Is it possible to check around in Grandpa's papers and see if it's there? If you can, you may even find other cool stuff like the original bill of sale, service records and such. Never know.

Read on the Forum here about how to get Build Records from "Chrysler Historical Services". That will tell you a lot about the origins of your car. There are a few '38 guys here on the forum that have been very helpful to others. Pick their brains!

If the engine has frozen from rust while sitting, pull the plugs and get some penetrating oil in there so it can sit and soak for a while. You may be ultimately surprised.

Curious about the finish? I understand a good soaking with "CLR" (Calcium Lime Rust remover) on the outside may get rid of enough of the thin rust to show the paint. Resist the urge to sand or steel wool in it for a bit. The "CLR" may do its thing and you will see the original finish! Just soak and rub it in with terry cloth towels. See what comes of it.

You are off on a great adventure! Have fun! Oh, by the way, PHOTO EVERYTHING in detail! You will love yourself later! ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Some great shots there Drew! There should be specific owner's manuals for the car available. Is it possible to check around in Grandpa's papers and see if it's there? If you can, you may even find other cool stuff like the original bill of sale, service records and such. Never know.

Read on the Forum here about how to get Build Records from "Chrysler Historical Services". That will tell you a lot about the origins of your car. There are a few '38 guys here on the forum that have been very helpful to others. Pick their brains!

If the engine has frozen from rust while sitting, pull the plugs and get some penetrating oil in there so it can sit and soak for a while. You may be ultimately surprised.

Curious about the finish? I understand a good soaking with "CLR" (Calcium Lime Rust remover) on the outside may get rid of enough of the thin rust to show the paint. Resist the urge to sand or steel wool in it for a bit. The "CLR" may do its thing and you will see the original finish! Just soak and rub it in with terry cloth towels. See what comes of it.

You are off on a great adventure! Have fun! Oh, by the way, PHOTO EVERYTHING in detail! You will love yourself later! ;)

Now that's what I'm talking about. CLR on terry cloth towels to bring back the paint. Never would've thought of that, and I need something to do while the money for each part of the project recharges.

I was deliriously happy just to have the original title and registration. I am going back up there next weekend, and will look around some more.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Try to keep/save the original engine, it would be a shame to have it sat preserved all these years just to one day lose a major original piece of itself. Great looking car

That's Plan A. But if plan A doesn't work, there is at least one forum member with a free turning engine.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Now that's what I'm talking about. CLR on terry cloth towels to bring back the paint. Never would've thought of that, and I need something to do while the money for each part of the project recharges.

I was deliriously happy just to have the original title and registration. I am going back up there next weekend, and will look around some more.

So, I tried the CLR trick on part of the hood, and it worked well. That's the good news. The bad news, is that I was led to believe the car was originally maroon and the surface rust and pile o' dust made it that light brown color. Well, the paint wasn't maroon. The original color of the car was that hideous light brownish/copper/bronze-ish Dodge made some of their cars. (Shudders....)

We'll keep it the same as we get it running and make it drivable, but someday it's getting a new coat of paint.

Link to post
Share on other sites
We'll keep it the same as we get it running and make it drivable, but someday it's getting a new coat of paint.

Until then, it may actually be looking shiny! ;-)

Once you get your "Build Record Card" copy from "Chrysler Historical", you will know the original color for sure!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on the new project!!!!!!!!!

I just picke a 38 up a few weeks ago.

I unfroze a diesel engine by using Marvel Mystery oil and auto trans fluid (about half and half) pour some in the spark plug holes and let sit for a few days. Put it in high gear and rock it ot loosen it up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, great story! I just two nights ago did a deal with my Uncle to get hold of my Grandfathers old farm truck which has been sitting in the shed since he passed back in '90. I can't wait to take delivery in about month. (I now need to build a bigger shed....) Fantastic that you are doing your Grandfather proud 120mm.

Looks like a pretty decent car you've got there and I hope you have luck with your engine. It would be nice to keep its original "heart".

Love that front bumper too.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Until then, it may actually be looking shiny! ;-)

Once you get your "Build Record Card" copy from "Chrysler Historical", you will know the original color for sure!

Yep! Shiny is better than not shiny.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Congrats on the new project!!!!!!!!!

I just picke a 38 up a few weeks ago.

I unfroze a diesel engine by using Marvel Mystery oil and auto trans fluid (about half and half) pour some in the spark plug holes and let sit for a few days. Put it in high gear and rock it ot loosen it up.

I'm glad you gave that suggestion. I was trying to use a 1 13/16" socket on the hand crank nut on the front of the engine. I'm afraid of breaking the bolt, frankly, I will def try your suggestion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm glad you gave that suggestion. I was trying to use a 1 13/16" socket on the hand crank nut on the front of the engine. I'm afraid of breaking the bolt, frankly, I will def try your suggestion.

Not everyone has the same mechanical experience so its hard to predict what someone might do to solve a problem. If you were to force the socket chances are good that you will break some rings or do other damage. Please ask many questions.

We have plenty of suggestions

Link to post
Share on other sites
Not everyone has the same mechanical experience so its hard to predict what someone might do to solve a problem. If you were to force the socket chances are good that you will break some rings or do other damage. Please ask many questions.

We have plenty of suggestions

I shall. My order of priority, right now is to get the engine unstuck, gas tank removed, inspected and returned to service, and get the ignition system rebuilt to serviceable so we can see if it will run. Critters have eaten most wires, but nothing looks so complicated that it cannot be rebuilt or replaced. I will pry start a different topic for each question, though, as this thread can get unmanageable, fast.

Sorry for the confusion, I should have said shop and parts manual

No problem; I just find it interesting that owner's manual reprints are so plentiful for 1939, and am wondering if that's because Chrysler took over that year?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of interesting stories, I used a car carrier that I borrowed from my brother. Our ancestral home is in Northwest Iowa, and I live in Central Iowa, so that's a bit of a hump. I arrived at the family farm, only to discover that the H&H trailer that was promised to me was missing a grease hub, and that particular trailer used proprietary hubs. My dad's farm is a veritable junk yard, so I went from trailer to trailer, looking for a hub that would fit. We spent a good 2 hours looking for, trying out, and discarding grease hubs, and as it got hotter and hotter, we got more and more frustrated. Finally, we sat down next to the already loaded trailer, and while drinking a cool drink of water, I was admiring Ava, sitting on her "not to be moved" trailer home, and my eyes rested upon the axle hub.

No. It can't be. I took the valve spring compressor I was using as a field expedient calipers and measured the axle hub on the front right wheel of the Dodge, and it measured pretty darned close. I removed the hub with a large screwdriver, and sure enough, it fit perfectly to the trailer hub.

I cleaned and repacked the trailer bearing, and it was down the road we went.

I think my forehead was pretty flat from slapping it. For those that are wondering, a 1938 Dodge axle hub fits an H&H trailer.

Link to post
Share on other sites
...and am wondering if that's because Chrysler took over that year?
Chrysler actually bought Dodge in 1928. It is just the "Dodge Brothers" name that went away in 1938. Not really sure why it is so hard to find 1938 Owner's manuals though. But now that you have the word out, I'm sure others will be watching for you too.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, on the stuck engine, I had a motel A with a stuck engine and I put a lot of oil and stuff in the plug holes and it didn't do any good . finally found out it was a stuck valve, you might want to check them out. Just take the cover off and pry them up if one stuck it will stop the engine from Turing over, Bill

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes whatever you do just dont force it, have to find out why or where its stuck. Also once you get it un-stuck ( not that you wouldnt think of this yourself ) but be sure to change the oil before trying to fire it up as all the stuff your putting down the cylinders will eventually wind up in the pan never mind the fact that its prob. all sludge down there anyway.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love to hear stories like yours where an original (if neglected) car is kept in the family. In time, you will be glad that you kept the original engine. If you have the original log book, it's good to keep the engine number the same. There is no need to replace the engine. When the engine is freed off - and it will free up eventually, may I suggest you resist the temptation to get it going as a priority. In my opinion more will be required than just an oil change which I presume you would do first.

The piston rings will have rusted to the bores and that is probably what is stopping it from turning over - that rust will best be removed. When you strip the engine, take the opportunity to replace the rings. An examination of the bores and the bearing shells (I presume this model had them) will give you a lot of information about the condition of the engine. I would replace the shells as a matter of course even if the crankshaft does not need regrinding. While you are about it, check out the oil pump for wear and make sure oil passageways are clean. Also take a look at the timing chain and tensioner which may be worn on a high mileage motor.

An old engine needs the correct oil because modern oils contain powerful detergents which will scour out sediment and carbon deposits that will do your new bearings no good at all. You should be able to obtain a gasket set for your car fairly easily. A crankshaft rear main bearing seal will probably be required as this is a common source of oil leakage.

Just a few suggestions which will hopefully save you time and expense later on. Once you get into it, you will soon become familiar with your car and if you are already mechanically proficient then you will please forgive my assumptions.

Ray

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi, on the stuck engine, I had a motel A with a stuck engine and I put a lot of oil and stuff in the plug holes and it didn't do any good . finally found out it was a stuck valve, you might want to check them out. Just take the cover off and pry them up if one stuck it will stop the engine from Turing over, Bill

Dad mentioned something like this. I need to examine the shop manual to see how this is done.

Yes whatever you do just dont force it, have to find out why or where its stuck. Also once you get it un-stuck ( not that you wouldnt think of this yourself ) but be sure to change the oil before trying to fire it up as all the stuff your putting down the cylinders will eventually wind up in the pan never mind the fact that its prob. all sludge down there anyway.

Yessir; most of the wiring is gone, and I'm assuming it needs a new coil and/or carb rebuilt, so will be changing the oil.

I love to hear stories like yours where an original (if neglected) car is kept in the family. In time, you will be glad that you kept the original engine. If you have the original log book, it's good to keep the engine number the same. There is no need to replace the engine. When the engine is freed off - and it will free up eventually, may I suggest you resist the temptation to get it going as a priority. In my opinion more will be required than just an oil change which I presume you would do first.

The piston rings will have rusted to the bores and that is probably what is stopping it from turning over - that rust will best be removed. When you strip the engine, take the opportunity to replace the rings. An examination of the bores and the bearing shells (I presume this model had them) will give you a lot of information about the condition of the engine. I would replace the shells as a matter of course even if the crankshaft does not need regrinding. While you are about it, check out the oil pump for wear and make sure oil passageways are clean. Also take a look at the timing chain and tensioner which may be worn on a high mileage motor.

An old engine needs the correct oil because modern oils contain powerful detergents which will scour out sediment and carbon deposits that will do your new bearings no good at all. You should be able to obtain a gasket set for your car fairly easily. A crankshaft rear main bearing seal will probably be required as this is a common source of oil leakage.

Just a few suggestions which will hopefully save you time and expense later on. Once you get into it, you will soon become familiar with your car and if you are already mechanically proficient then you will please forgive my assumptions.

Ray

Will be sure to check the engine over; when the car was parked in 1942, it had/has 35,000 miles, actual. While most everything should be in good condition, will be sure to check it out thoroughly. I really appreciate the suggestions and tips, though. It's been awhile since I wrenched on an engine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Like Bill said, remove the valve covers, take the wooden part of a hammer handle and push down the valves ( you are pushing down against the force of the valve spring so it takes a little effort ) and make sure they do move.

Do this one at a time, they should all move, some more than other because some of the valves will be open because at the time it was parked and running the intake and exhaust valves were doing their deal to either let fresh air/fuel in or the exhaust was letting some of it out.

Either way though they should all move just a little at least

Link to post
Share on other sites
Like Bill said, remove the valve covers, take the wooden part of a hammer handle and push down the valves ( you are pushing down against the force of the valve spring so it takes a little effort ) and make sure they do move.

Do this one at a time, they should all move, some more than other because some of the valves will be open because at the time it was parked and running the intake and exhaust valves were doing their deal to either let fresh air/fuel in or the exhaust was letting some of it out.

Either way though they should all move just a little at least

I'm assuming the valve covers are on the right side of the engine on an L-head? And wouldn't the valves push up?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats funny, when I wrote that last post I had just finished watching worlds smallest engine video again and yes I had overhead valves on my mind. Yes you are correct, remove the side covers and there you will have access to the springs and the rest of the valve train and yes they move up and down.

You could also get one of the hand held valve spring compressor tools ( see vintage tools on e-bay ) and compress the springs and see that the valves have plenty of wiggle room.

Edited by 1930 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
I like you avatar by the way, what exactly are you holding, looks like a cat and I am a cat/animal lover

Yessir, that is my second to last kitty in Afghanistan, Simba. He was too friendly for his own good, and was euthanized by the Army. In my real job, I am an Ethnographer, and just spent a touch over three years living and working in Afghanistan.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thats funny, when I wrote that last post I had just finished watching worlds smallest engine video again and yes I had overhead valves on my mind. Yes you are correct, remove the side covers and there you will have access to the springs and the rest of the valve train and yes they move up and down.

You could also get one of the hand held valve spring compressor tools ( see vintage tools on e-bay ) and compress the springs and see that the valves have plenty of wiggle room.

Cool. I have one of those already; I was using it as a ersatz calipers just the other day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I checked to see that the valves were moving, and they all are. Well, one of them is hanging up a bit in the "up" position, but it moves, and I can deal with that later, when I am worrying about getting the machine running. I took some more pics of the process.

post-87386-143139134081_thumb.jpg

As you can see, The pictures show a progression. I had to take a picture of the rubber, as the tires are still holding air, despite almost having disintegrated from sitting flat for literally decades (1942-ish?) They aren't the original tires, but that's the last time anyone remembers the car running, so that's our guess.

I've been dumping copious amounts of penetrating oils in the spark plug holes, and this was the first time we took it off the blocks and tried to rock it back and forth. This brings up a question.

What is the shift pattern of a Dodge? is it a normal "H" with reverse being the top left? So high gear would be bottom right? Or is reverse bottom right?

Now that we know it's not valves, we'll continue to dump stuff down the spark plug holes and rock it back and forth in 3rd. In between times, I'm going to start dismantling the doors and trying to fix the windows, so it will be ready from glass some day, and pull the gas tank and get that serviced.

Any other suggestions?

post-87386-143139133617_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133633_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133897_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133908_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133918_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133929_thumb.jpg

post-87386-14313913394_thumb.jpg

post-87386-14313913395_thumb.jpg

post-87386-14313913396_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133971_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133981_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139133991_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134003_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134013_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134024_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134036_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134047_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134058_thumb.jpg

post-87386-143139134069_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

On the stuck engine: Considering the amount of work you will have to put into the car, I would stop guessing and pull the cylinderhead now. Then you can evaluate the condition of the cylinder walls and also free up the stuck open valves pouring oil down the stems.

Question: The picture showing the passenger side of the firewall.....I see the two hoses to the heater but also a "can" with a valve(?) inside. What is that? Never seen one before.

Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, I checked to see that the valves were moving, and they all are. Well, one of them is hanging up a bit in the "up" position, but it moves, and I can deal with that later, when I am worrying about getting the machine running. I took some more pics of the process.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]149867[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149868[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149870[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149871[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149872[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149873[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149874[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149875[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149876[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149877[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149878[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149879[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149880[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149881[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149882[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149883[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149884[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149885[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149886[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]149887[/ATTACH]

As you can see, The pictures show a progression. I had to take a picture of the rubber, as the tires are still holding air, despite almost having disintegrated from sitting flat for literally decades (1942-ish?) They aren't the original tires, but that's the last time anyone remembers the car running, so that's our guess.

I've been dumping copious amounts of penetrating oils in the spark plug holes, and this was the first time we took it off the blocks and tried to rock it back and forth. This brings up a question.

What is the shift pattern of a Dodge? is it a normal "H" with reverse being the top left? So high gear would be bottom right? Or is reverse bottom right?

Now that we know it's not valves, we'll continue to dump stuff down the spark plug holes and rock it back and forth in 3rd. In between times, I'm going to start dismantling the doors and trying to fix the windows, so it will be ready from glass some day, and pull the gas tank and get that serviced.

Any other suggestions?

I would keep doing as you are doing and see if you can free up whatever is stuck, if not having any luck after letting it sit a few days ( and then maybe a few days more if not in a rush ) than you may want to consider pulling the head.

You are already doing the fuel tank so take a look at the fuel lines, are they junk ( rusty ) run something thru them and see that they are clear and do the same with fuel pump and carb.

While waiting for the penetrating oil to do its thing keep yourself busy maybe with other things like this.

Check the rad, does it hold fluids, disconnect the upper and lower hose, stick a garden hose in the rad and the block and flush it out.

Pull the oil pan, I bet you will find all sorts of nasty down there. Rinse it out with kerosine and set it aside until we are sure you can un-stick the motor.

Pretty much no matter what might be wrong with the engine to make it stick can be dealt with and for a whole lot less work and more than likely less money ( in the end when you consider all the details ) than replacing it so try and get that pinned in your head so that doing all of these other less exciting jobs will be more fun.

Theres alot of other things I am sure I am missing like pulling and finding new ignition components and cleaning up what dosent get replaced.

Pull that air cleaner and rinse it out, is that oil bath cleaner, I am assuming it is. Dont know much about late model

Consider draining the crap in the tranny and rear end and replenishing it with new, all this stuff takes alot of time and I bet if you were to take all my suggestions here you might be finished one week or two from when you read this.

If that dogone cylinder head isnt free by then you will at least know you tried your best and since most other things are taken care of you will feel better about putting a bit more time into pulling that head.

In my opinion though dont start dismantling too much at one time, take each and every project one at a time and finish it before moving onto something else.

Have fun

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...