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The Ressurection of Daphne - a 1932 DL


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Yes, it was Phil's first car, too. He probably has a much better claim to nostalgic ownership than I do - I only had it for two years and he managed to hold on to it for 46. But, as I've said before, something about this car has always fascinated me and I'm glad it's come back to me after all these years.

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There is something about it when you first see a car. I remember walking into the guy's shed who owned my car and even though most of the panels were missing and no engine he had the radiator shell sitting loose on the front. I loved the shape and had to have that car !

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There you go. If you haven't experienced it it's impossible to explain. Seeing all the work you've done - work I still have to do - I'm sure there were many times when that original infatuation turned a bit darker as you struggled to find a solution to the endless problems that seem to turn up during a restoration. I've already had a few unpleasant shocks and I'm only a month in!

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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My biggest shock was when we had all the panels temp bolted up and couldn't figure out why the gaps on the bonnet were way out on one side. When we investigated we found that the chassis was literally bent from one end to the other approx 20mm. Doesn't sound much but it threw the alignment of the bonnet out enough.

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My biggest shock was when we had all the panels temp bolted up and couldn't figure out why the gaps on the bonnet were way out on one side. When we investigated we found that the chassis was literally bent from one end to the other approx 20mm. Doesn't sound much but it threw the alignment of the bonnet out enough.

Approx 24.5 MM to an inch so it is quite a bit

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Approx 24.5 MM to an inch so it is quite a bit

Inch is currently defined as exactly 25.4 mm. Not many people know we are on a stealth metric system in the US since our inch is now based on metric units. :)

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Yeah, they had to put the chassis in a hydraulic ram. The guy who did it said it was one of the toughest chassis he's had to straighten ! Go ole Dodge engineering !

Makes you wonder what it went through to get so badly out of whack to begin with.

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Yeah, they had to put the chassis in a hydraulic ram. The guy who did it said it was one of the toughest chassis he's had to straighten ! Go ole Dodge engineering !

They are tough frames but also very weak depending how you look at it. They are riveted together ( like alot of full frames vehicles still in use today ) so when being pulled they give a lot. Its just a general rule of thumb that for instance if a frame is swayed over 1 inch one would have to pull it a minimum of 2 inches plus to compensate for the flexibility.

One trick that is used to over come this is to pull it waay over and then weld a bead at the nearest moveable crossmember. Once pressure is released more often than not it will stick where you need it to be.

I have measured full framed Chevrolet vehicles right off the car hauler ready for delivery too your showroom floor and have had them 20 and 30 mills plus out of whack in at least one direction. Chevrolet makes a very poor/sloppy product always have in my opinion.

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Inch is currently defined as exactly 25.4 mm. Not many people know we are on a stealth metric system in the US since our inch is now based on metric units. :)

I have never heard it described that way but yes that is a good description.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, my wife and I found fabric from LaBaron Bonney that comes very, very close to the original. I'm still struggling with the correct shade of brown now that we discivered the dirty tan is just a faded remnant of the original. I have very good, unbleached examples of the fabric used on the door panels and up above the rear seat. The LB fabric possibly has a little more of a greenish tinge to it than the original, but it's very close. The nap and weave of the fabirc is the same, so we're in good shape there.

Try as I might, I can't find a good, unfaded example of seat fabric. Mine is too faded and stained to get much real information out of it. In fact, i was beginning to think that perhaps the seats were a tan shade, but that didn't make much sense with dark door panels. Naturally, the 32 sales literature shows interiors with tan fabric, so who the heck knows at this point? (And Phil Kennedy pointed out to me that the same literature shows a DL with a green floor mat and that clearly isn't correct). Phil also sent me a few shots of some unfaded areas on his original car and, sure enough, there was that brown shade peeking out in a few places.

You can just see the brown at the inside edge of the seat.

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So we are going the dark brown route. And if I find out I'm wrong after dropping 1500 bucks on material, I'm going to wander into the woods behind our house never to be seen again.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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Well, my wife and I found fabric from LaBaron Bonney that comes very, very close to the original. I'm still struggling with the correct shade of brown now that we discivered the dirty tan is just a faded remnant of the original. I have very good, unbleached examples of the fabric used on the door panels and up above the rear seat. The LB fabric possibly has a little more of a greenish tinge to it than the original, but it's very close. The nap and weave of the fabirc is the same, so we're in good shape there.

Try as I might, I can't find a good, unfaded example of seat fabric. Mine is too faded and stained to get much real information out of it. In fact, i was beginning to think that perhaps the seats were a tan shade, but that didn't make much sense with dark door panels. Naturally, the 32 sales literature shows interiors with tan fabric, so who the heck knows at this point? (And Phil Kennedy pointed out to me that the same literature shows a DL with a green floor mat and that clearly isn't correct). Phil also sent me a few shots of some unfaded areas on his original car and, sure enough, there was that brown shade peeking out in a few places.

You can just see the brown at the inside edge of the seat.

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So we are going the dark brown route. And if I find out I'm wrong after dropping 1500 bucks on material, I'm going to wander into the woods behind our house never to be seen again.

I'd be careful with the fabric if it has a green tinge to it. It may get greener with sun exposure and age.

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I've been wondering whether you'll find a matching seat and door lacing. Do they have that in brown, too?

Yes, they have a matching brown with a slightly darker pattern woven in, but it's from SMS, not LB. I'll get some close-ups and post them tomorrow.

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I had a similar problem with the seat fabric on my '41 Buick. I was torn and completely faded, except where the sewing seams were, and I was able to get small sample of unfaded material there.

Anyway, I've been following this thread, and I think that its' so very neat to get you car back after so many years, and bring it back to it's former glory.

Keep up the good work!

Keith

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A huge day yesterday. I got up at 6 AM and made the 2 1/2 hour drive to Thomas Restorations and Fabrications in central Missouri. A nice, warm, sunny day. Arrived at 9 to find Ed Thomas and Daphne waiting for me on the lift.

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This was my first chance to get a good look at her underside. Lots of surface rust and more than enough grease to lube six cars, but everything looked very solid and intact. The frame appeared straight and the rust was surface only.

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We removed the gas tank and managed to get it off without damaging the two straps that hold it to the frame. The smell of varnish inside was overpowering. We took it outside and shook it - a mountain of red rust dest spewed from the filler. Although the outside metal of the tank looked solid, with that amount of rust inside, I fear some holes will appear once I give the tank the treatment. I took the tank home with me and plan to fill it with molasses to get the rust out. More on that later.

I also removed two small side pieces by the windshield that I learned are supposed to be woodgrained. My grain guy has been waiting for them as he wants to do all the parts in one shot to keep the color accurate and even.

With the busy work done, we tackled the front fenders. Well, Ed tackled them and I watched - and videotaped the process for a documentary I'm making on the restoration. As you probably remember from previous posts, they were in bad shape. I had smashed one in 1966 when I owned the car. We discovered lots of bondo from that repair. PO Phil Kennedy completed the carnage when he encountered the back of a truck after he bought the car. The amount of damage was something I was honestly worried couldn't be fixed correctly.

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Ed said he'd spent the last week just looking at the damage, trying to figure out the best way to get started. He says you just can't start banging away at the metal because if you make a mistake it does more harm than the original accident. With that, he pulled out a large hydraulic ram and began forcing the metal on the driver side fender back into shape.

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After spending a few minutes pushing out the major dent, he switched to the passenger side. He figured the damage was less severe on that side and once he had it back in shape, he could use the curves as a pattern for the drivers side. Amazingly - at least to me - he had the passenger fender pushed out and hammered into shape in about 20 minutes!

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He then made templates to transfer to the other fender.

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He then resumed work on the driver side fender. We had to remove the radiator and shell to get access to damage that occured along area where the fender met the frame. Ed then had to remove the thick coat of 50s era undercoating on the underside of the fender in order to work the metal. A soft torch and the heat made it easy to scrape the coating off.


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An hour later the drivers fender was totally roughed into shape. I really couldn't believe it. We did find some rust at the bottom of the fender above the frame. it's going to have to be replaced, as are two small sections along the front lip of both feners where the metal ripped away from the wire former underneath.

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Both fenders were starting to look pretty good at this point.

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All the fine work is next. Ed will remove all the paint and work both fenders with hammer and dolly. He says I shouldn't need any filler when he's finished.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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While Ed further massaged the fenders, I took off the back bumper - we removed the front before work on the fenders - and the luggage rack. I then removed the back fenders - Ed will work on them off the car.

The driver side fender had been removed or replaced at some point. I could tell by the replacement bolts and the discovery of more modern fender welt between the fender and body. This fender was damaged when Dave Taylor, on of my fraternity brothers, backed the Dodge out of the frat house driveway and into a parked car. We lost the taillight with that mishap and pushed the fender in. After seeing what Ed has done to the front fenders, this should be a cakewalk. There is rust damage - major holes - around the tail light stalk mount. Also, the rusted area where the fender contacted the body may have to be replaced. We'll know better after the fender is blasted and we find out how deep the rust is.

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The passenger side is in better shape - just a slight crease near the back. The rusted area may have to be replaced on this one. too.

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The only body rust I could find was this small section in the passenger side wheel well. It's an easy fix - just a flat replacement section we'll TIG in.

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I forgot to show you this in the previous post. Ed has these 20s era fender tools for beading and other repairs. Very cool.

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We made some interesting discoveries along the way. The car was definitely painted black.

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But it's not the original paint job. We found sanding marks and other clues that this was a repaint - done sometime before I bought the car in 1965.

Another, even more fascinating discovery involved the front fenders. Ed decided he'd need to take off the driver side fender to work the area along the frame. The rear of the fender is actually under the frame, but we figured we could just lift the front of the body slightly and slide the sucker out. That was when we discovered that the front fenders are riveted to the frame! There is one large screw-head bolt that apparently was used to line up the fender, then three rivets around that bolt and more rivets at the back of the fender. So the frame is coming off before we can resume work on the front fenders. This begs the question of how the fenders were painted. I can't see the factory riveting a freshly painted fender to the frame. So what was the order? Paint, rivet? Rivet, paint? Painting the fenders after they had been riveted to the frame seems like a stretch. Anway. we'll probably turn down some carriage blots to match the rivet diameter.

The next step is for Ed to finish the fenders. By the time I make the next trip a week from today, all four fenders will be finished and the body will be loosened from the frame, ready to lift of and allow us get to work on the rusted area below the doors.

The car looks a little like its been vandalized at the moment, but we are making good progress.

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More later.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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Isn't it amazing how these guys can repair something that a lot of us would consider too far gone.

I know the guy who did my bodywork can build anything. He had a Stanley Steamer chassis in his workshop and he built the wooden frame and then all the panels all by hand !

When he finished with mine there was no filler, only steel.

Ian

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Yes, it is amazing. But, I discovered it's also relative. As I was watching Ed work with my jaw on the floor, he mentioned he could never learn to operate the camera I was using to shoot the process. When I tried to explain why I was using a certain lens and a follow-focus shot I wanted to do and he just laughed and said it was way beyond him. Most of us can do something well, but it's just nice to see someone else do something we could never imagine.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took a look at the gas tank today. Lots of rust and varnish, weak metal. Vertict - I need a new tank.

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A light tapping on the end of the tank buckled the metal. This tank is toast.

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It's too bad, as some of the metal still looks good. Here are the levels from undercoat, to rust, to wirebrushed to sanded.

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I can salvage the fittings - the filler neck and the sending unit mount. They are in good shape. The tank is 38X15X8. The closest generic tank I could find is 34X13X9 for $185. A stainless steel tank to original specs is $740. I'm hoping Ed, my body guy, will agree to build me a new one.

The sending unit was totally gummed up with rock-hard varnish.

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A little cleaning with a wire brush revealed the gears were brass, not pot metal. Whew! The ends do look a little iffy, though, and I may have to cut a new set from sheet brass - an easy, if tedious job.

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It's currently soaking in acetone and I hope things will loosen up enough that I can move the cork arm and see if the unit still works. it's always the little things that eat up time, but it's the only way to get everything working right.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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. . . I can salvage the fittings - the filler neck and the sending unit mount. They are in good shape. The tank is 38X15X8. The closest generic tank I could find is 34X13X9 for $185. A stainless steel tank to original specs is $740. I'm hoping Ed, my body guy, will agree to build me a new one. . .

The tank is my '33 Plymouth is pretty close to the size of yours: 8"x15"x36.75" and is purported to hold 15 gallons. There is a street rod fuel tank vendor that advertises replacements for mine pretty regularly on ePay for a lot less than $740. In fact there are several out there now: 1933 plymouth gas tank | eBay

Maybe one of those would be a reasonable starting point for you.

Best of luck on salvaging that fuel sender unit. My experience is that the currently available senders for old Mopar either don't work well or is horribly expensive (or both). If you can salvage that and get it working it would be a good thing but I would replace the float with something that is not covered with shellac that is attacked by ethanol.

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ply33 that tank is very close - just an inch or so short. It looks like I would have to weld up their filler opening, then weld my filler and sending unit mount to the tank. My car (I think your Plymouth does, too) has a cover over the tank between the frame rails with two openings for the above, so I have to have those two openings in exactly the right place. At that price, it may be worth a try - especially with the free shipping.

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Looking more closely at my original tank, I think the filler and sending units are soldered onto the tank, not welded. If that's correct, it will make things easier - at least for me. The only thing that bothers me about the tank ply33 mentioned is that the fuel line comes out of the top of the tank. I'm not sure I have room between the tank and the cover for that style pickup.

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Took a trip to my woodgraining guy, Crin, yesterday. He uses the Grain-it system. I brought over the two last pieces of trim that I negelcted to notice and remove. They go on the sides of the windshield. They were a little crusty.

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Crin went to work with his cabinet blaster.

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And before long they were ready for primer.

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Crin had already primed most of my pieces. An original, he kept for color matching, isat the bottom.

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The primer lays down a nice, smooth surface. He uses two coats, sanding in between.

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The next step is to lay down the base color. My parts were not ready yet, so this is a frame from a mid-30s Packard. This base color is considerably lighter than the one used by Dodge Brothers.

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Once the base has dried for a day or two, it's time to grain it. A thick ink of the correct color is used.

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Then a plate with the correct grain pattern etched on it is covered with the ink.

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A rubber roller is carefully rolled along the plate, picking up the ink in the grain pattern.

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Then the roller is rolled across the part, leaving a perfect grain pattern over the base coat.

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Each section of the piece is grained.

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And the final result is amazing. This is how they did it at the factory.

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Once everything is completely dry, Crin shoots on the clear coat and sands and polishes everything for the final result.

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My stuff should be ready in a week or so. I'll post pictures of the finished pieces.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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If anyone else is interested in the woodgraining process, I have lots of pictures of various parts going through the process at Under Cover Upholstery - Past Projects - Woodgraining

Thanks Dick for posting the pictures - why didn't you tell me I'm so good looking ... ;)

-Crin

I am always interested to know how people came about to learn their trade, you are still fairly young so was it learned from a parent. Why choose this profession ect? Very nice work.

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Thanks for the compliment Jason. I'm a self taught car nut that is trying to turn a run-away hobby into a full time business. I have a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering and work at Boeing full-time but after 16 years of being here I find it very boring and dread coming into work every day. So I applied myself and learned on my own how to upholster, woodgrain and many other things related to automotive restoration. I don't want to divert any more attention away from Daphne - If you want to chat some more please email me.

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Check Crin's site out. He takes pictures of all his customer's projects as he works on them. I live very close, so I can go over and see how things are progressing, but for his out of town customers it's a perfect way to keep up on progress on their cars. I also want to point out that although my pictures make this process look easy - it's not. it's comparable to handing someone a paintbrush, paints and canvas and expecting them to produce a masterpiece. I could tell at first glance that it had taken years of practice for Crin to be so assured in his technique. That's why I used him instead of trying it myself. You can check up on my woodgraining and upholstery on the site under Current Projects - 1932 Dodge.

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A slow slog for the last week. It's been raining here almost every day for the last month. My trip to Ed's shop was delayed as he had to finish an aluminium airplane tail for a client in Kansas. Now it looks like he will have my fenders ready next Friday and we'll take the body off for the rust repair then. I understand, but I was revved up to go yesterday and it was a disappointment to say the least. Crin is working on the woodgraining and I'm removing the old seat material and cleaning and painting the seat springs. One of the most boring and unexciting jobs in recorded history.

I'm also taking off the starter and generator next week and sending them out for a complete rebuild and restoration. It's very frustrationg to have the car 200 miles away. Ed's was the best and closest shop I could find, but I'm used to heading out into the garage and working on whatever piqued my interest. I did get a nice set of upper hood pieces all the way from Canada from RSayak, who posts on this thread - he has a DL Coupe. This will make Ed's life a little easier as he doesn't have to mess with my damaged hood.

Man, can you tell I'm bored! Sitting around able to do little or nothing is driving me nuts. You're probably just as bored reading this post. Sorry about droning on. I promise some pictures and something halfway interesting next time.

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A slow slog for the last week. It's been raining here almost every day for the last month. My trip to Ed's shop was delayed as he had to finish an aluminium airplane tail for a client in Kansas. Now it looks like he will have my fenders ready next Friday and we'll take the body off for the rust repair then. I understand, but I was revved up to go yesterday and it was a disappointment to say the least. Crin is working on the woodgraining and I'm removing the old seat material and cleaning and painting the seat springs. One of the most boring and unexciting jobs in recorded history.

I'm also taking off the starter and generator next week and sending them out for a complete rebuild and restoration. It's very frustrationg to have the car 200 miles away. Ed's was the best and closest shop I could find, but I'm used to heading out into the garage and working on whatever piqued my interest. I did get a nice set of upper hood pieces all the way from Canada from RSayak, who posts on this thread - he has a DL Coupe. This will make Ed's life a little easier as he doesn't have to mess with my damaged hood.

Man, can you tell I'm bored! Sitting around able to do little or nothing is driving me nuts. You're probably just as bored reading this post. Sorry about droning on. I promise some pictures and something halfway interesting next time.

I totally get your boredom. I want to get out and re-wire my '31 and do a few other preparations to ready the car for the 2014 meet. Just gotta liquidate some old toys and radiator caps in order to get the harness. Tick tock.......

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Amazing restoration, made even sweeter by the backstory. Thanks for sharing - I'm not into 30's cars typically, but you just don't have to be in order to enjoy and appreciate this thread!

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Thanks for all the kind words - and help - on this thread.

My new hood top sections arrived from Canada in good shape. Thanks again RSayak! This will really help fix the hood area where a giant slab of ice slide off Phil's roof onto the car decades ago.

The old...

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And the new...

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Ed will still have to work on the lower hood section on the driver's side, but not having to deal with the top will save time and money.

I also got my repo tail light stalk from Verdonnes. It's a very nice casting, and the polished aluminium means I don't have to go through the hassle of trying to chrome the old pot-metal stalk. I will have to drill and thread the mounting holes, however.

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I also bit the bullet and paid an exorbitant amont on Ebay for a rather sorry tail light. I did get two good lenses (red stop and clear plate), a pretty good surround (a few small dents, but no splits), and the shell (dented and splits).

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That's when I realized I was in trouble - especially since I already had a good red lens, an undented surround with a minor split, and a repo clear plate lens...

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My shell has the mounting bolts placed horizontally, when, for a 32, they should be vertical. My light must be from a 33 Dodge. Oh, the humanity! Maybe if I had remained calm and paid attention to the photos, I wouldn't be in this mess. So, it's find another shell. or try to rework this shell to fit my car. Since it needs extensive brazing to repair the splits, plus some massaging to get the dents out, I may try to adapt it. If that fails, I'll put it back on Ebay - where the bidding was hot. I do have the missing piece along the top - another brazing job to be tackled.

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A pile of parts I removed and brought home. The luggage rack is in perfect shape. Somehow it survived all these years without a bump or dent. That's the radiator peeking out from the trash bag. My old-time radiator guy died a few month back and I'm on a search for a shop that can handle these old honeycomb, no-pressure radiators. If anyone in the St. Louis, MO area has a lead, let me know.

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I have a problem with my windshield. The two hinge extensions at the top corner of the frame are broken off. I have a painful decision to make. NC Industries makes a beautiful repo windshield - show chrome frame, new glass, new weatherstripping - just install it and walk away. But it ain't cheap! Eight hundred bucks. But by the time I take my frame apart, figure out how to replace the broken hinge pins, have it rechromed, replace the glass, find the weatherstripping and install it - how much will I have in my old windshield? And how much time and driving around will it cost me? Decisions, decisions.

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Tomorrow I head back to Ed's shop. The plan is to remove the generator and starter so I can send them off to Michigan for a complete cosmetic and electrical rebuild. 3 month turnaround, so I want to get them sent off as soon as possible.

I'm also going to remove the wiring harness so I can take it back home and and make a new one. From the wiring diagrams I have it looks like Rhode Island Wiring has all the colors I'll need in braided cloth wiring. Their complete harness set-ups (which are excellent) would run me about $450. I should be able to reproduce mine for about $100 using their wires and connectors, which they sell separately.

Ed is supposed to have my fenders pretty well finished. I'm hoping to get them home and over to the painter for prep work and priming. We also plan to remove the body from the frame so work can begin on the lower rust damaged sections that are being replaced. I'll have pictures for you of all that this weekend.

Edited by Taylormade (see edit history)
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