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owning, fixing and driving a Snapper's era Buick


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Received a Snapper's newsletter by email this morning.  It includes a synapse from this years AACA tours and promotional text of next years events.  The Snapper's ( pre 1916 vehicles) have hosts and locations for three week long tours each year until 2023, as well as, Hershey Hangover and Lansing to Dearborn Endurance Run.

 

I cannot attach it here but I can forward the newsletter by email if you contact me.

 

Regards, Gary

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We have an early cold weather snap and yesterday I reviewed old pictures and saved some to a disc.  The photos may highlight why I think brass car touring is the best thing in the hobby.  Going to a show and parking on the lawn is fine, but here is my friend's model T on a rock in northern Ontario.  The next is a line up while the people are visiting some venue, likely lunch or ice cream.  Running boards replace lawn chairs, since these cars have no trunk the rear floor is for the driver's to carry parts, tools, spare tire and picnic cooler.  You can be sure if you ever catch a ride in a 100 year old car you will be stepping over stuff to get to the back seat.  My friend's 1913 Benz, he drives a car where he has to wear a helmet, googles and gauntlets, no weather protection or windshield.  Finally, teenagers love driving brass era cars, these cars are for kids of all ages to enjoy.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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Snow has started to fly in southern Ontario and today I finished winterizing my 1913 Buick, model 31, everyone has their own way of getting the car ready and the following is mine.

 

Previous to parking the car it was thoroughly washed in the driveway with soap and clear water and left to dry in the sun.  I drain all the fuel from the gas tank and carburetor and replace the gas cap and close the drains.  Then I push the Buick into a single car heated garage with the top up and all of it's parts attached.  I do not start the engine to reduce oil dripping onto my fresh cardboard laid on the floor under the car.  The engine has permanent antifreeze which I leave alone.

 

Today I jacked up the car and placed it on axle stands, then to reduce a chance of mice taking up residence I remove the seat cushions so they will not have a place to hide.  I plug the exhaust pipe and carburetor air intake with steel wool for the same reason.  I do not think I have rodents but I keep some poison under the car and I monitor the garage for mouse tracks.  I also place dryer sheets around inside the car even though I feel it is hooey.  Can't hurt.  I have a car cover but I do not use it, car is always clean in the spring.

 

Last winter I performed a big job of refinishing the wooden wheel spokes, this year everything seems good to go for another summer of driving satisfaction.

 

Regards, Gary 

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I just completed putting the '13 Buick in the container a couple of days ago and the '15  truck in another container yesterday along with my daughters & son-in-laws 2000 Corvette.  I will be moving the Buicks around over the winter to work on them in my heated shop. :)

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Our 1915 McLaughlin touring car restoration has been going on for 4 years so far and I feel it was an easy restoration.  The car has been parked since 1991 and now I know it was abandoned to the garage because the rear axle pinion and ring gear were about to give up the ghost.  The axle and torque tube were given to a mechanic friend who saved it by fitting modern seals and bearings.  Another friend supplied me with a replacement ring gear and without their generosity this car would remain garage furniture.

 

The rest of the restoration was straight forward, clean, sand and paint, over and over on all the other parts.  One surprise was the top bows, one bow was a replacement and very good but the other 3 were cobbled together.  Why would someone replace one bow and not four, I guess that was how it was done in the 1960's?  Same reason the McLaughlin was painted resale red instead of beautiful dark blue?

 

A local restoration shop uses an Amish woodworking shop in Pennsylvania and they ordered me 3 new 57" steam bent, oak bows to go with the one I had.  Pleasantly surprised, received them quickly and at a reasonable cost.  Yesterday,  I fit them into the metal sockets and now I can set the assembly aside until it becomes time to fit a new top.  I have 10 yards of black Stayfast topping material for the job with new side curtains.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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Very nice Gary.

I take it you had the old bows for a pattern right?

Quite surprised the replacement ones are all the same shape and size.

I'll have to look at my Overland, they could be like yours and will watch your progress with interest.

 

With the top, are you and Bev doing it or are you sending it out to Blenheim?

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Doug;  Hope all is well.  Stan Uher's Classic Coachworks has a pattern at Witmer's Woodworking in Pa and he told them 57" wide and they came in in just a few weeks and were perfect, well, perfect for a wooden item.  And they cost just $27.00 each, I paid more to ship them than they cost to produce.

 

I have not picked a top maker yet though I have broached the subject with Stan, he is busy.  Likely, if we do it in his shop he would be in charge and would do the sewing and fitting and I would be the cheap labour.  I have the old top maybe as a pattern, though it too is a replacement and not original to the car.

 

Next on this McLaughlin is the upholstery and I looked at beautiful black cowhides from New Zealand when Bev and I were in Toronto last week.  I hope to meet up with Joe's , (Cardinal 95) upholsterer, he actually lives in Chatham.  He works elsewhere but I hope to get him to take on this job or at least most of it.

I will post more as we go, Gary

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All is well Gary, thanks.

Winding down from a long stretch of contract work but dealing with snow for a few and of course, equipment that needs attention. Salt is not our friend but having cars, antique and everyday drivers, I know that...

 

Even with the exchange the price on the bows sounds good. Naturally our postal rates are high here in Canada but what choice do we have?

 

I know Stan is busy as having been there last month I know he has what is a documented Detroit Packard Fire Truck in the works along with a Grey Dort and 29 Chev in the front. Then he had a Hearse with the ornate wood carving on the sides sitting out front that he is going to totally restore and stated it would be about three years to complete. We all know that that time frame can double as things come up but his work is spectacular and worth the wait!

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Knowing Joe originates from Amherstburg and in the car hobby it doesn't surprise me he knows people around here.

Your upholstery for the Buick sounds interesting, might send a PM later on.

 

Thanks for your postings.

 

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Thanks for the photo of the Detroit Fire Dept's ambulance.  The fan's shaft broke and when it did the whirling fan damaged the rad.  Stan received the Packard following the Chatham's Fire Fest in September for rebuilding.  The rad was sent to California for a new honeycomb core and while the Packard was waiting Stan is changing parts and fasteners that the hot rod shop thought would be OK.  The local hot rod shop restored the truck like it was a hot rod and Stan has 75 hours in making the Packard look like a proper piece of antique fire fighter equipment.  The Packard rad is due back in December, the '23 Gray Dort is due for a show in July and the Chevy taxi cab is anytime.  Stan said he was going to retire when the funeral coach is finished, hope not, I need him.  Gary

 

P.S.  Here is a photo of Stan and the Mrs. Jane in their 1915 Gray Dort.  Classic Coachworks is providing the Snapper's next summer with a coffee stop and tour of his shop.  He says the Packard funeral coach should be in pieces by then and restoration underway.

 

Gary

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I have seen them and his Grey Dort on Pelee Island on occasion and know he has fun with not only his cars but other projects as well saying he loves a challenge. 

Sorry to hear he is considering retiring but guess after all the years in this business, time to relax and continue to enjoy life to it fullest.

 

I took this photo of the truck engine while there and loved how he capped the water pump area in order to keep the water in it to be able to drive it in and out of his back shop for projects needing the work space. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is an interesting to me discussion in the General Forums called " well sorted out pre war car" which is something I declared to own.  Thinking back to last fall, the last time I drove the 1913 Buick, the engine seemed hard to start, required much cranking.  When the engine is in a fine state of tune it will start with a half turn of the crank, a child could do it.  When a person has to put their shoulder into it rather than turn a key, it is tiring and it is not well sorted out.

 

I use Robert Bosch magneto FU4R and I have two, one connected to the engine and one under the back seat in reserve.  The best? mag seems to run about 200 miles then develops a miss at speed.  Last fall, during the Lansing to Dearborn Endurance Run, it happened again and I swapped mags in a laneway leading to a corn field.  I can change them in 10 minutes because they are self contained and identical, I completed the run and the rest of the Old Car Festival.  My local magneto man died and a buddy who would look after it is over an hour away, so I feel I need to learn a new skill and learn the art of electricity.

 

Second, as I was putting the Buick on axle stands for the winter I noticed some play in the tie rod ends.  The great part and also the worst is every part is every thing is serviceable but it will mean a trip to the machine shop to have new pins fabricated and maybe bushings installed.

 

When I look after these 2 fixes then the car will be "well sorted out."  I hope.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Gary

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One week until the Wayne Funk Christmas gathering for old car people from southern Ontario, lower Michigan and northern Ohio.  What began with wieners and beans in Wayne's garage has morphed into a pizza party organized by Stahl's Auto Collection.  It is a pleasant day seeing old friends, drinking coffee, thinking about past adventures and planning for spring.

 

Now the day is called Back to Basics, Dec. 11 10-4pm at Stahl's, 56516 North Bay Dr., Chesterfield, Mi., 48051.  They do still collect toys for the Marine Toy Drive, $12.00 for the day or $2.00 less if you bring a toy.  Everyone invited, stroll by a 100 classic, antique, movie, and special interest vehicles in a private museum, have lunch, visit, listen to music, and dream.  Life is grand.  Bev and I plan to be there, see you?

 

Regards, Gary

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Oh, how times change.  When my wife and I acquired our 1913 Buick the car had gas operated headlamps, but not functional.  Using a web site named BrassBuicks.com a great fellow Harold Sharon gave me advise to get the correct pipes, hoses and all the parts to get them to light up.  When the job was completed I was so happy and excited I sent in a photo and called it Glowing Gaseous Globes.  For the past 20 years my photo was the banner picture on the BrassBuicks.com homepage.

Yesterday the moderator telephoned me asking if I had a higher quality photo for use in a new site.  I did not, the original picture was taken with an early digital camera which recorded photos to a floppy disc.  Luckily I could go out to the garage, connect an acetylene tank, strike a spark and duplicate the scene with my new Nikon D5300 camera.  BrassBuicks.com is set for another 20 years of Glowing Gaseous Globes.  Technology is ever advancing, always more and more computer power, however, motoring along in a 7 foot tall, 106 year old vehicle at 35 MPH remains my greatest thrill.

 

Harold Sharon is not longer with us, that is my deep regret.  Gary

 

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Restoring brass era cars is interesting, today, I "tied up" some backrest springs.  I met an upholsterer who is willing to help me recover the seats but he did not know about tying up springs, I learned how to from YouTube videos.  In the photos see the process, the cover is stout denim so the stuffing doesn't sink into the springs.  I also picked a leather supplier from Toronto because he has lovely hides from New Zealand.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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Getting the McLaughlin ready for new upholstery, I tied up the front seat back and compared the job to how the car looked as found.  The method in 2019 is to connect the spring coils at 8 mounting points with a light rope with a fine sheath compared with horizontal and vertical points only and with binder twine.

 

Also the gas tank top was cut off, sandblasted inside and out, and a new top manufactured and soldered into place.

 

Regards, Gary

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Exciting news from our AACA Snapper's Tour next July, I can now declare to the pre '16 tourists our Thursday lunch stop is planned to be on an island in the St Clair river hosted by the Hadfield family.  Roger Hadfield learned to fly warplanes during WW2 is the retired from Air Canada, and still maintains his pilots license.  Their two boys, David, also retired from Air Canada, last summer flew a P51 from the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa to an air show in Oshkosh, Wi.  Chris Hadfield is retired from the RCAF and was the Commander of the International Space Station, an astronaut.

 

Registration materials are available and widely distributed, if I missed you please contact me for a copy.  You do not need to be a member of the Snappers but it is open only to drivers of pre1916 vehicles.  In the first two weeks of registration we have Hupmobile, Winton, Maxwell, White, Locomobile and Fords coming.  I hope to attract 40 vehicles and 100 people, however, all of our venues are large and there is no cutoff number.

 

In the photos, one day we received 4 applications, in the second is a view of Rondeau Bay in Lake Erie which is on our tour route and the final photo is how you will feel if you take a pass.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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Sounds like an exciting tour you're going to have Gary.

 

I'd almost be willing to offer to be a chase vehicle with my empty car trailer on the back of the Special for you but it's too close to the Buick National in Strongsville. 🤭

 

Keep us posted.

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Doug;  I am looking for help and you and Cindy would be welcome.  Members of my local car club, the Kent Historic Auto Club, have been asked to help park trucks and trailers on Sunday, July 12th, help man the hospitality room at the Travelodge and greet the guests and distribute the tour packages.  There may be a BBQ as well.

 

Some of the Buick drivers are leaving Chatham Thursday night and boarding the ferry from Leamington to Sandusky, Oh to attend both Fields, Factories and Firetrucks and the Buick Club National Meet.  The closing dinner carries a separate entry cost so the Buicks could opt out and not feel they are buying a meal they would miss.

 

I know you cannot do this, I've heard from nearby car clubs who are coming to Chatham Friday afternoon to see the cars and watch the British romantic comedy "Genevieve" on the big screen at the Capitol Theatre.

 

Regards, Gary

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On ‎12‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 4:13 PM, dei said:

Sounds like an exciting tour you're going to have Gary.

 

I'd almost be willing to offer to be a chase vehicle with my empty car trailer on the back of the Special for you but it's too close to the Buick National in Strongsville. 🤭

 

Keep us posted.

 

Doug,

I am planning on being on the tour and leaving Thursday for the BCA meet.  Come and have some fun.

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I have the Sunday marked on the calendar and will let you know if able to help out Gary.

 

I have thought about taking the boat across Lake Erie to go or come back from the National but have not decided just yet.

Unlike you retired guys, work for me is still in play...

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Larry and Doug;  I visited Ontarioferries.com and the base rate for a crossing with a 20' vehicle from Leamington to Sandusky, Oh this year is $46.00 but because you would be over 7 1/2" tall they consider it oversize and double the cost.  It is priced in Canadian dollars so Larry would get a 27% discount for USD.  I wonder if an open trailer would be less than 7 1/2".  On a positive note the ferry does save about 3 hours of driving, whatever that costs and Ambassador Bridge tolls.  Bev and I have only used the crossing one time, with a brief stop at Pelee Island and then a pleasant trip along Lake Erie to Cleveland instead of the driving the Ohio Turnpike.  Gary

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I'm considering it for that one time experience especially doing it in the Special .

Larry is likely close on his estimated cost since I remember they also charge per person above the automobile cost. Reservations are a must as it is a popular service to Pelee Island in the summer for people to go to the Winery and spend the day.

I'll make a call after the new year and speak to someone to be sure of the facts then weigh the options.

We would like to be at the National (not to high jack your event Gary) for Wednesday as we have hotel reservations that night till Sunday but travelling and see the cars, meeting your Snappers group would be fun too!

 

Before we know it, Summer will be here!

 

 

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Considering making the Snappers Tour via the Algonac Ferry and the BCA Meet via the Pelee Island Ferry as well but driving the whole distance including the 175 miles home and how many hundred on the Tour?  Could easily be 700 or 800 total.  
 

And what about a PWD After Tour?  Maybe 1000 total.  

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Sounds like a real bus man's holiday and I know you enjoy driving your tour car.  There are some other fellows from Michigan who expect to leave the trailer home " so not to wear out the trailer" and travelling across the St Clair river so you might buddy up for that portion of the trip to Chatham.

 

For other readers of this thread driving brass era cars long distances has a long tradition.  In 2015 Bev and I drove around Lake Erie in our 1913 Buick, 800 miles in 9 days, including downtown Cleveland.  We often pack the Buick and take the ferry to Pelee Island for a weekend.  We have friends who drove their 1912 Winton from Michigan to Idaho for an HCCA tour.  This summer there is a pre '16 tour to circumnavigate Nebraska.  Joe and Betty Swann drove their EMF around the United States, thousands of miles.  The Red Rock touring group last summer drove 2000 miles in 21 days around Virginia and West Virginia.

 

In ancient history a had a friend who drove his 1912 Lozier from Red Deer Alberta to Newfoundland and back for Canada's Centennial in 1967 and a guy named Green drove a curved dash Olds from New Jersey to California for a HCCA meeting.  In 1985 Bev and I drove from Red Deer, Ab to the mountains, the Banff Jasper highway, all the way to Cranbrook, BC, then east to Lethbridge, Al and home, far over 1000 miles.

 

The photo is our Buick model 31 in front of the Case Western Reserve Museum in Cleveland and a Ford on the Pelee Island ferry.

 

Best Regards, Gary

 

 

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In 2017 we drove our 1923 to the 2017 BCA National Meet in Brookfield Wisconsin, then the PWD After Tour, then around Lake Michigan, across the U.P. and the bridge and down the other side of Lake Michigan.  1485 miles total and the Buick never missed a beat. 
 

Here we are crossing Lake Michigan on the high speed ferry out of Muskegon. 
 

 

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A very mild stretch of winter without snow and salted roads let us drive our '39 Century on Boxing Day.  We traveled out to a fishing village of Erieau, which is a summer destination but not for our Snapper's Tour next July.  Too busy, too many other interesting stops, we cannot fit it in to the list of activities.  Here is a photo of our car on the pier with unfrozen Lake Erie as the background, the second snap is the pier last winter.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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5 hours ago, cxgvd said:

A very mild stretch of winter without snow and salted roads let us drive our '39 Century on Boxing Day.  We traveled out to a fishing village of Erieau, which is a summer destination but not for our Snapper's Tour next July.  Too busy, too many other interesting stops, we cannot fit it in to the list of activities.  Here is a photo of our car on the pier with unfrozen Lake Erie as the background, the second snap is the pier last winter.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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Two great pictures!  would be a candidate for a "WOW" button , if we had one. 

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Bev and I are taking a road trip on the Natchez Trace and winding up in Biloxi, Ms next week for a winter holiday.

 

For our Snapper's Tour in July I have been talking with at least 6 persons who plan to drive one and two cylinder vehicles, making for an impromptu small car event.  Gary

 

 

 

 

 

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A fellow must be happy when a plan comes together.  I've met with an upholsterer who has agreed to redo my 1915 McLaughlin and I will be the hired hand and all around helper and gopher, etc.  First step was to measure the quantity of leather needed.  We carefully worked out the sizes of the front and rear seats, door panels and the miscellaneous parts and came up with a little under a 100 square feet.

 

A 3 hour trip each way to Toronto and a shop called Tandy Leather had 12 full hides of black cowhide from Italy, we went through them all and picked out 4 for our job.  Four hides gives the installer about 160 square feet, could be enough left over for a Buick ottoman.  Next I must order a batch of curled, washed horsehair for stuffing, there are two places in central Ohio who have it.

 

The photo is Bev and I learning the warp and weft concerning leather, a nice lady who helped us snapped the pic.

 

Regards, Gary

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Arrived home after driving our pickup truck 3275 kms or 2035 miles to the Mississippi delta to explore towns like Tupelo and Clarksdale and enjoy live blues music in old time juke joints.  The reason I post to this weblog is because I did not pack any tools, not a screwdriver or locking pliers, just a snow brush.  I thought there is nothing I can repair if something broke anyway so why bring stuff.  It seems to be a reliable vehicle even though it is 10 years old and turned 145,000 kms ( about 90,000 miles).

 

In the photo is the truck with my wife, Bev, at the crossroads of Hwy 61 and 49.  This crossroads is immortalized in blue's music history as the location where Robert Johnson is believe to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange to be able to play guitar.

 

As an aside we prowled Beale Street in Memphis Friday and Saturday, my wife has never wanted to go to Memphis before but she had a great time.  These are the best years.  Gary

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I received my copy of the Antique Automobile this week and was pleasantly surprized to find a report from last September's Lansing to Dearborn Run.  A very interesting write-up by Paul Sloan, Paul is a young man of about 30 years old I would guess, does not own a car which qualifies for this tour but he is a partner in organizing the run with the Grace's.

 

There are seven pictures with the story and they show easy driving conditions without 18 wheelers trying to climb up our exhaust pipe or distracted driver's crashing into us.  One large photo is our friends, Larry and Joyce Schramm, top down, hats on, and smiling broadly motoring along in their 1913 Model 31 Buick.  It's a keeper.  Here is my photo of the Schramm car at one of the stops taken the same day.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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As registrations roll in for our Snapper's tour Bev and I work on destinations and routes, one trip is giving my problems.  Thursday is a long drive, I am trying to keep the day at a 100 miles but I have to find a way to cross 2 rivers and avoid 4.7 miles of fairly busy two lane highway and the destination is 40 miles from the hotel.

 

We are stopping at a retirement home and they are providing us with a "nutritious snack" mid morning.  Lunch is hosted by Roger and Eleanor Hadfield on Stag Island in the St Clair River.  They have had this cottage for 60 years and this is where Chris Hadfield watched the moon landing in 1969 and where he told himself he wanted to be an astronaut.  Then a guided tour of a large heritage type museum, at least an hour maybe two.  I do not yet know how we are going to get all the activities accomplished and a 40 mile drive straight back to Chatham.  Supper is on your own, some may stop along the way or pick something up and eat in the room, hospitality room is open.

 

In the photos are a bridge and flooded river we must cross and a light drizzle Sunday afternoon on the St Clair River.  Still, a good problem to have, too much to do.

Regards, Gary

 

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On page 4 of owning, fixing and driving weblog there are pictures and a story of a 1929 Packard ambulance formerly owned and operated by the Detroit Fire Dept.  The truck has received it's rad back from California with a new core to replace the one which was damaged when a water pump shaft broke into 2 parts.  Today, Friday, I helped Classic Coachworks install the rad and hood.

Since the truck has to travel back to Virginia on an open trailer, because it is so tall, Stan and the owner must find an acceptable time and weather for the trip.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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It sure looks different when I saw it back in the early fall when Stan had sent the rad out.

I liked his ingenuity of blocking the water passage, filling it with coolant to be able to drive it in and out of the shop when he needed the bay to work on something else.

Beats trying the push the beast around. 😏

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On July 15th Bev and I are taking the Snapper's Summer Tour to Rondeau Provincial Park for nature day and today we visited and asked some questions.  In the first photo is a road the Park Warden closed many years ago to protect creatures like snakes and turtles, I am making a case for him to be able to open the road for our brass era cars for a few hours.  He wants to and I have to assure him we would be slow, careful and thankful for his consideration.

In the next photo is the picnic shelter we rented for our gourmet lunch.  There is excellent parking, modern washrooms and the park store nearby.  Next a snap of prairie grass leading to the beach on Lake Erie and finally a giant, weathered tree on the very edge of Rondeau Bay.   Rondeau Park celebrated it's 125th anniversary last year, It will be lovely to be there in July.  Regards, Gary

 

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Restoring vehicles in 2020, a philosophy.  A car can only be original, once.  Full stop, and that is why they are sought out and beautiful.  When restoring cars to a certain period, like my 1915 McLaughlin, I have to choose modern day alterations due to current public tastes and which materials are available.  My car is getting new upholstery and I wanted to install leather door checks even though there is no sign the car "originally" had them.  I changed the car from the way it left the factory to the way it should have been delivered to the customer.  I should lose points in judging at the AACA or BCA but I will not because the car should have door stops, in 2020 it looks natural and will not be questioned.

 

I visited my friend, Stan, a professional car guy and we worked out a method of attaching the parts and he agreed in my decision to improve the McLaughlin.  While I was there we discussed one of his projects, a '23 Gray Dort.  The literature calls for a gold stripe just below the beltline and we both thought it would look to garish for 2020 tastes and perhaps a pale yellow or custard against dark blue paint could be called gold.

 

In the photos are the check straps, rear door open and closed.  Also notice my use of t nuts, blind fasteners, instead of screws.  I can remove the door for repairs if necessary and they are stronger than screws in wood.  Big improvement from "original", it is restored not original.  The car is not modified either, it does not have a v8, automatic transmission and mag wheels.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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