Taylormade

The Ressurection of Daphne - a 1932 DL

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I'm in the process of looking at material for my car. I found a company in the States that sent me out some samples and I do know they have broadcloth. they are on the Internet.......Veteran Company........veteranco.com and they are based in Los Angeles Ph (323) 937 2233.

ian

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Not many of us get the chance to buy back our first car and I bet you are glad you did. The restoration should be straight forward as most of the nice original features are still there. The body shop should be able to straighten out the damage and the rest should be a rewarding task. When the car is finished you will have the chance to take better care of her the second time around. Being older and wiser you should find a love rekindled and this time I don't think you will take it for granted. I hope you both have a happy future together.

Ray.

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The Deconstruction Begins

I spent a 14 hour day yesterday at Ed’s shop doing what I consider the most unpleasant job in the restoration of a car – taking out the interior. I most cases, I like to tinker with a car when I first buy it; get it running, drive it around the yard, have a little fun. It’s impossible with this restoration as I’m trying to get her ready for the Dodge anniversary meet next summer. I can’t enjoy the usual luxuries of a long, slow-paced rebuild. Not that I’m trying to emulate the reality show BS – this car HAS to be finished in three weeks or it’s the end of the world – but I’m really making an effort to get things done in time, so there isn’t a minute to waste.
I drove the two and a half hours to the shop were Ed is graciously allowing me to work on the car whenever I need to. I figured removing the interior would help all concerned as I can get the seats and panels to the upholstery shop to get that process started, and we’ll have a bare, non-flammable canvas to work on when the body work commences.
As a caveat, this is the first restoration I’ve been involved with where I am not attempting to do “everything.” I was of the school that if I wasn’t hands on with every aspect of the work, I was cheating. I guess I’m older and wiser now. The metal work on this car is way beyond my pay grade. I’m sure my wife and I could do the upholstery and have it ready in a year or two. But I want to drive and enjoy this car in the years we have left, so I’ve contacted good folks who will do the bodywork, painting and upholstery – and at a reasonable price. I’ll be there at Ed’s shop helping with disassembly and any other way that I can, but he will be doing the real metal work. For my part, I’m doing the frame, suspension and mechanical work. If the motor needs rebuilding, that will go to a pro shop. I still really enjoy working on these cars, but I’ve become a realist in my old age.
Anyway, back to removing the interior. I’m still getting past the fact that I haven’t owned this car for 45 years. I know better, but I keep expecting things to be as they were in 1967 when I last drove her. They are definitely not. 40 years in an unheated garage in Connecticut have taken their toll. What’s left of the fabric is so dry rotted it literally comes apart in your hands. The vinyl crumbles at the touch. I could only imagine what critters had left waiting for me under the seats and headliner. The bi-polar nature of the interior still baffles me – half original, half vinyl, as if whoever started the job gave up halfway through.

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The carpet came out first. There was non-original carpet up front instead of the correct rubber mat. It was hiding under a couple of cheap rubber mats. A plus was the discovery of all the door sill plates under the carpet. The back carpet was non-original black and was good for patterns only.

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Next, I tackled the seats. Both bottom cushions simply lift out. The front seat is actually adjustable and sits on two slides bolted to the wood floor. Four screws and it came off. This attachment method would definitely not pass a modern safety test!

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In typical fashion, the upright cushion of the back seat was held on by two bolts at the bottom and hung by two hooks at the top.

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Everything came out very easily with no broken bolts and little effort. I was happy to find the seat springs in good shape with most of their black paint still shiny and intact. This should help out the upholsterer.
With the carpet and seat gone I got my first good look at the floorboards. They were wood from front to back. In the front corner on the driver’s side was a triangular wood piece held on by wood screws. I removed it and found and enclosed space that I believe was the tool storage area. I didn’t know what it was when I first opened it as it contained a mouse nest approximately the size of Connecticut.

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The stench this unpleasant discovery gave out was overpowering. I quickly donned rubber gloves and a mask, but even after I cleared everything out the smell remained for the rest of the day.
With that out of the way I tackled the floorboards. As I attempted to remove them the going got quite a bit rougher. The floorboards are held in place by bolts that pass through holes in the wood and into metal tabs on the car frame. Years of upper New York State snow and salt had done a number on these bolts and most of them refused to budge. Ed came to the rescue with an impact wrench and we broke everything loose in short order. Notice the hole burned in the floorboard above the muffler. We found several sheets of asbestos nailed to the bottom of the board. OSHA alert!

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With the exception of the front floorboard, all the rest were in pretty good shape. I was surprised how well they had held up. I still plan to replace them all with marine plywood just to have a little peace of mind as they are the only thing between me and the road.

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Interestingly, the footboards are solid steel, very thick gauge and in two pieces. They had surface rust but it appears they will clean up well. There may be a few pinholes in the lower piece, but nothing that can’t be repaired easily. You can just see them at the top of this shot.

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Now I had my first look and the frame – greasy, dirty, but everything looked solid. There were no rust holes or any damage. A very beefy frame – new for 1932 – with a large, heavy X-section stared back at me. I found it interesting that there were no metal cross-braces in the body. It was open from the cowl to the back seat pan. Everything in between was simply wooden floorboards. I figured there would be a brace between the door pillars, but the Dodge Brothers engineers apparently believed the frame was more than strong enough to keep everything in place.

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At this point, I took a lunch break and contemplated my next course of action.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)

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It would be a real shame in my opinion to toss out the original floorboards. They have made it this far with no issues. How do you access the battery, I see no removable window like the earlier cars.

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There is a photo of the battery area above where it shows him removing the floorboard in the front.

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I found excellent upholstery material I needed from a company called SMS Fabrics in Oregon. They had perfect matches of broadcloth for my '51 Cadillac. I paid around $60/yd at around 1997. They're still in business and have a website.

I've subscribed to your thread. I can't wait to read more about the restoration.

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It would be a real shame in my opinion to toss out the original floorboards. They have made it this far with no issues. How do you access the battery, I see no removable window like the earlier cars.

I don't intend to toss them out. They aren't bad, but suffer from a really crummy undercoating job that must have been done in the 50s. Sanding that off may do more damage than I'd like - or the wood can take. Also, the glue in these boards is 80 years old and tends to start failing, leading to delamination of the wood. Just as a safety matter I think replacing them - in exactly the same pattern as the originals - is the way to go. The battery is accessed by a metal cover in the floorboards.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)

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I found excellent upholstery material I needed from a company called SMS Fabrics in Oregon. They had perfect matches of broadcloth for my '51 Cadillac. I paid around $60/yd at around 1997. They're still in business and have a website.

I've subscribed to your thread. I can't wait to read more about the restoration.

Thanks for the heads up. I've sent samples to SMS and LeBaron Bonney. I've got my fingers crossed they'll come up with something.

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I don't intend to toss them out. They aren't bad, but suffer from a really crummy undercoating job that must have been done in the 50s. Sanding that off may do more damage than I'd like - or the wood can take. Also, the glue in these boards is 80 years old and tends to start failing, leading to delamination of the wood. Just as a safety matter I think replacing them - in exactly the same pattern as the originals - is the way to go. The battery as accessed by a metal cover in the floorboards.

Thanks for the info, metal cover, interesting, I will have to go back thru your pictures and see if I can find it.

I am admittedly a bit sensitive when discussing florrboards, mine did not come with the original boards and it was only by some stroke of something ( I cannot say luck ) that I found someone hotrodding their car which carried the same bodystyle as my own and I was able to get the boards out of his. If it had not been for his car my own car would still be missing many impossible to find parts.

I could be wrong but I would be interested to hear if the original floorboards were held down by a machine threaded screw maybe 2 inches long with a bit of a point on the end. The point was to puncture the original felt lining that was laid down in narrow strips on the underside of your boards to help stop squeaking as the boards shifted slightly under motion.

Edited by 1930 (see edit history)

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Damage found
After lunch it was time to examine things and see what needed work. It’s always interesting to me to see what you find under all that old upholstery, dirt and grime. As I said before, I found the door sills under the carpet. They weren’t even screwed down in the back - amazing that they survived. I also found the steel battery cover under the carpet. Phil told me he thought it was gone and I’d have to make a new one. That was a nice surprise.

I took off all the door panels and received an unpleasant shock when I looked at the rear passenger door. Ed, my body guy, already expected it had been damaged at one time, possibly by flying open at some point – they don’t call them suicide doors for nothing.


This is what I found. Ed and I tried to decide what had caused this. Our two theories were: 1. the door blew open and was damaged and had been repaired by a total hack, or 2. the glass had been broken (maybe by the door blowing open) and the idiot who replaced it didn’t know how to remove it correctly and cut apart the door to get it out. Either way, it’s a mess. That top weld is a lapped weld. Ed will cut it all apart and weld it up correctly, also taking out some metal damage on the door skin around the hinges. Other than that, all the doors looked good – no real rust, the bottoms were solid and everything was where it should be.


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I then noticed that only one of the four doors still had its stop attached. This was a strap that extended out when the door was opened and stopped it before it bent back on its hinges. Steele Rubber carries them so I’ll be ordering four.

Next up was an examination of the lower door sills on the body. As I mentioned in a previous post, the passenger side sill was badly rusted, but the driver side looked okay. WRONG! Some gentle probing with a pick revealed rust in both sills. They will have to be replaced. This was a little discouraging. I knew the fenders would need a lot of work, and the dents from the ice fall would have to be addressed, but I never saw this coming.
Ed was very reassuring, telling me that this might have been a problem a few years ago, but since he got his new pullmax machine, he can make a set of dies and reproduce the sill with no problem.

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We plan to cut the section along the green line from cowl to the rear area…

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…and then replace the area marked in green.

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The rust did not develop from a concentration of mouse urine as we thought earlier. It turns out this area was designed as a closed box. Over the years moisture tends to condense in a space like this and slowly rust it out from the inside. Dodge Brothers engineers created a very strong structure, but it’s very design eventually resulted in its failure.

All this means that after Ed finishes the fenders and top work, I will remove the fenders slash aprons and running boards at his shop and we will lift the body off the frame and make the repairs. To save time, I’ll take the fenders to the painter so he can get started on them.

I removed the cover above the windshield to get a better look at the space behind the big dent in the roof. Two problems – first, another mouse nest. A really nasty one creating even more odor.

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Second, there is a double wall in the body in this area and it’s spot welded together. This means that Ed will have to carefully cut a section of the inner wall away, make the repairs and then weld the section back together. Like I said, the metal work on this car is way above my pay grade.

The rearview mirror is not original, the support looks correct, but someone grafted a modern mirror onto it. If anyone has an original mirror, let me know.

Taking down the black vinyl headliner – I still can’t figure out who had that bright idea – revealed still another massive mouse nest infestation. It was raining you know what. Boy was I glad when that was done! All the wood looks good, so the top replacement should go smoothly. Notice there is no padding left - the mice used all of it for thier nests.

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With everything bagged, photographed and labeled, I packed it all into the SUV and headed home. Next trip will be to retrieve the gas tank, free up the rusted bolts on the running boards – which will have to be replaced – and take off the rear luggage carrier so I can get it to the painter.

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Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)

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Very, very neat to have your first car back! One lets these things like first cars go and you never see them again!

I'll be following your progress with interest.

Keith

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. . . The rearview mirror is not original, the support looks correct, but someone grafted a modern mirror onto it. If anyone has an original mirror, let me know. . .

Years ago I got a reproduction mirror from N/C Industries in Sayre, PA for my '33 Plymouth. They mostly do windshield frames but they also carry 33 and 34 Plymouth and Dodge reproduction parts. If the '32 Dodge mirror is the same or similar to the '33 and/or '34 one you might want to check with them.

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Here are a couple of shots of my mirror. it appears to have the original base with a more modern mirrior grafted on.

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As far as the wood floorboards are concerned, these photos should illustrate the problem. Moisture has started to delaminate the wood layers. They are good for patterns, but not really safe to use. The two back boards might be saveable, but I'm afraid sanding off the undercoating would damage them.

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Notice the undercoat on the bottom of this board. It has soaked deep into the exposed layer of wood and would be almost impossible to remove with out tearing it up. The hole burned through it doesn't help, either.

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This is the battery cover. I have no clue if it is original. Someone drilled a new set of screw holes in it at one time.

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Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)

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Yes, your mirror has the original base and brackets. I can give you measurements and photos of the mirror later today.

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That mirror base looks the same as the one on my '33 Plymouth.

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Yes, your mirror has the original base and brackets. I can give you measurements and photos of the mirror later today.

Thanks, that would really help. Did you get the hood measurements I sent?

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I guess the floorboards have seen better days, thats a shame, the undercoating prob. helped things though being oil based. I doubt that the original battery cover screwed down, you also mentioned that the tool compartment lid did the same I think? I doubt this was original as well, on my own car and what I am familiar with seeing on these cars is a lift off cover, a piece of wood cut out to the correct holes size with a finger hole to pull it out easily.

I am sure Phil will tell us what his car has in it to clarify.

The mirror bracket does not look like my own but with dimensions and maybe a correct picture I would not be surprised if the glass was interchangeable. It looks like it snaps into tangs, hard to tell from photo.

I am not sure ( but would like to confirm ) if DL originally used a rubber mat up front or carpet, I would guess a mat in the front and carpet out back as my own car did.

Either way I would look for special little retainers within the original boards that would have held whatever was there from shifting around every time you would move your feet. They did not as I am sure you know glue down these materials, could not have been held under the sill plates as you would need to remove it every now and then to access compartments.

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Phil's car has the original rubber mat still in place. The pattern matches the rubber on all three pedals. Carpet was only used in the back.

I have collected everything - and mean everything - I found as I disassembled the car. There was some sort of material between the frame mounts and the wood floorboards, to prevent squeaks, I'm sure. The floorboards fit together with notched edges and the entire floor was in there tight before I removed it.

I remember a story my father told me about his dad - a grumpy guy that hated to stop for bathroom breaks on long driving trips. With four boys in the backseat (named Tom, Dick, Harry and Don if you can believe it) he instructed them to lift the floorboard and do their business through the hole. All this at forty miles an hour! Not to mention what the car following thought of it all.

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Thanks, that would really help. Did you get the hood measurements I sent?

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Yes and I will compare them with what I have.

Here is what I have found out.....the 1931 hood hinge has alternating tabs and not a wide, chrome hinge cover over two hinges as the 1932 does. The rearview mirror should be 6" x 2 1/2" x 3/16" thick glass. The edge has a 1/8" flat area and a 1/16" 45 degree bevel around the front.....

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Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)

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A bit of good news, Phil Kennedy found the rest of my mirror - the glass and the other attaching parts, so that problem is solved. Thanks for the help everyone.

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I don't know if this battery box cover is unique to the '32s but here are some pics and a plan in case anyone else is interested in making one. There is a 1/4" drilled hole for a thumb screw to screw into the wood frame and hold down the battery cover. Note the diagonal creases to add stiffness.

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Was there a nutsert of some type in the floor as a receptacle for the thumbscrew Phil?

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Was there a nutsert of some type in the floor as a receptacle for the thumbscrew Phil?

There is a nut affixed to a bracket which is nailed onto the underside of the plywood floor. In the last of the attached pics, I held a mirror under the floorboard to show the nut and bracket.

There is a hole drilled through the floorboard which aligns with the nut and a hole in the metal cover plate. While I've been guessing that there was a bolt with a thumb screw end, I don't have that part, but it seems logical not to have to get out a wrench to access the battery. But, maybe you did? Whatever type bolt it was, it probably ended up on some roadway long ago!

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