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owning, fixing and driving a Snapper's era Buick


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Yes, Keith, I bought Mr. Forester's 1915 McLaughlin from a Kijiji ad by phone and I was very happy with the condition when I saw the car.  Bruce told me he owned the car from 1969 to 2015 when Bev and I acquired it, 45 years.  You likely have heard the old joke when someone has owned something for a long time,  "just two more payments."

 

My upholsterer told me he plans to restart finishing the car on August 10th.  So it is nearly restored.

 

Thanks, Gary

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Part of driving Snapper era vehicles are these banners which are given out during tours.  The owner ties them to your car during the event to show you are part of the group and are really works of craftsmanship.  They highlight great slogans such as Brass Does the Fruit Belt, which by the way was over a hundred cars and our largest tour or Wheelin' 'Round Woodstock.  After the tour the car owner keeps the banner and they are too nice a souvenir to throw out, but then what.  I tie them up in my workshop, they age and get dirty and remind me of interesting days.

 

No banners this year, Gary

 

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Driving around Elgin County with a group of friends in seven cars, EMF, Renault roadster, REO, couple of Fords and White.  It is very encouraging to have three young adults, including a third year sports medicine student and a Ford engineer working out of Dearborn.

 

Bev and I left the trailer home to save wear and tear and made the 70 mile trip along quiet back roads in our 1913 Buick, one more day and home to isolation.  There is talk of another trip with the group in September.

 

All the members of our group are masked up to protect one of our ladies who is a survivor of a particularly nasty cancer.

 

Stay strong,  Gary

 

 

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During our drive last weekend my 1913 Buick began leaking oil from the right rear outer axle seal and made a dirty mess of the wheel's spokes and tire.  We completed the drive of about 250 miles round trip with the loss of about a half inch of semi fluid grease.

 

No problem, I was reminded of Larry Schramm's saying " Drive it, break it, repair.  Repeat."

 

Stay well, Gary

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"Drive it, break it, fix it, repeat."

 

I have begun to fix my rear axle leak last night by removing the wheels on both sides.  Not sure of the problem or the solution yet and I will post the fix it as I go.  The rear end was outfitted with modern bearings and seals? before I acquired the Buick.

 

On another note yesterday I visited a good friend who recently bought a curved dash Olds and he did the antique equivalent of tossing me the keys and invited me to take it for a spin.  The car was beautiful to look at, black, shiny with well done copious striping, the Olds ran perfectly climbing a short but steep grade.  It was the thrill of a lifetime for me because I've wanted one forever but Bev is uncomfortable and says she feels as if she sitting on a park bench high in the air.  There is no Oldsmobile in my future.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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Problem identified.  A sleeve which is pinned to the axle cracked and broke, but was held in place by the housing.

 

At the same time I will have the asbestos brake linings replaced.  I drop the parts and the shop sandblasts and powder coats the brake bands, replaces the friction material with modern lining and glues them on.  Turnaround time is within a few weeks.

 

Life is good,  Gary

 

 

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Joe wins.  This year at the AACA Grand Nationals in Gettysburg, Pa Cardinal95 won the Zenith Award, second consecutive year Buick was chosen.  Here is my photo of Joe's 1958 Buick wagon, taken at Flint, Mi last summer.

 

Congratulations Joe, you deserve it.

 

Stay well,  Gary

 

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On 8/20/2020 at 4:55 PM, cxgvd said:

replaces the friction material with modern lining and glues them on.  Turnaround time is within a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Backtrack on that - this is how you get bad brakes on a car this age - you need woven linings that are riveted on (that maybe at best will last 10K miles and that your lining guy will look at you perplexed at why you will want such a thing) - new lining material is not suited for a car of two wheel brakes (IT IS NOT BETTER - NOT WORTH PUTTING YOUR LIFE AT RISK). 

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When I get advice as adamant as I got from John concerning my new brake linings I have to take it.  Thanks John.  I already had the 1 3/4" X 3/16"ths woven material and rivets on the shelf and a tool to install them.  Here you go, parking brakes are finished.

 

I have shop trying to source a new bearing sleeve before they have to turn one up.  Perhaps the Buick will be back and running by Labour Day, fingers crossed.

 

Classic Coachwork's Stan Uher phoned and said he is installing a new top on the 1923 Gray Dort touring car and it looks fabulous.  Great work.  In another month the car will be finished and on it's way home to northern Manitoba.  Hood and fenders are painted, Stan has to fabricate and cover the runningboards in gray linoleum and give it a test drive.  Hope to get a ride before the Gray Dort leaves for the West.

 

Two things to look for in the photos, I copied the dark blue colour on my 1915 McLaughlin, with Stan's permission and notice the wings ( or strengthening ribs ) on the top beside the rear window.  They are unique to this model and rarely seen on other cars.

 

Regards, Gary

 

 

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Interesting issue with my 1915 McLaughlin, the engine would start, run less than a minute and stall.  The car has a gravity flow fuel system and the path the fuel line takes was not obvious to me so I had a rubber temporary installed.  I thought I had an air dam so I took it out and put in a 5/16th" hard copper line, still not sure the path is correct.  Problem persisted.  Next was the Marvel carburetor,  I removed it and saw a threaded pin which the float/needle pivots on was absent.  I can only think it vibrated loose and I lost it.  Luckily the missing pivot caused the needle to shut off the fuel flow and not open the carb to fuel.  So, over time the carb bowl would fill but not open enough to replace the fuel the engine burned while idling.

 

I had a spare carb and I hated to rob a part from it but I did.  I've never had a pin loosen before but there is no thread lock and it is a brass threaded pin in a bronze carb.  I used a sharp punch and lightly tapped the joint of the pin and body to lock the threads.

 

I spoke with my " understanding" mechanic to arrange for him to come to my house and perform a Provincially required safety inspection before I can get the McLaughlin licensed for the road.  He told me the officials have made things more intolerant and he could not do that anymore.  He has to inspect the car in his shop, I will load the car in the trailer and deliver it to him next week. another problem solved.

 

Regards, Gary

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Regarding the Safety Inspection:

I remember the days when one could ask for the paper after that visit to your car provided he was confident with; 1- that you would bring it by after the brakes, signals, horn and anything else needing to meet standards were done and 2- you promised the car would NOT be driven for 30 days after the signature date leaving him clear of liability.

Obviously there was a huge trust factor there.

Clearly the clamping down was due to someone taking advantage and when there was an accident or the full picture was revealed, it's made things tighter regulation wise.

 

It's going to be exciting to have both cars at meets (when they come back in full swing again). Does Bev drive the Buick at all? 

I'm sure you have trusted friends that would jump at the chance to drive either car for you. I know I would if closer and given the opportunity.

 

Happy Motoring.

 

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Hello Doug;  Thanks for the comments and hope events improve for you and Windsor.  My mechanic has provided me with many safety inspections and he knows I would not throw him under the bus.  Since I am riding in the vehicles I want them to be safe.  However, there are only a few items such as lights, steering and brakes, horn, tires etc. which apply.

 

Bev had her first ride in the McLaughlin this afternoon, the spinning oil sight gauge seemed to delight her.  She has driven the 1913 Buick but she doesn't like it because I am a nervous passenger.

 

 

 

 

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Update my 1913 model 31 rear axle grease leak today.  The shop who relined my 1915 McLaughlin brakes does not answer the telephone and though their website is up the shop seems closed.  I got another name of another friction shop about three hours away.  Kent Fabricators is the name of a large shop in Blenheim who I believe can repair anything, farm equipment, elevators and antique cars.  I showed the broken sleeve to a fellow and asked them to source a replacement.  He said it could be TIG welded because I needed a temporary repair so I could use the car for a few hundred miles before winter.

 

I checked with a bearing store and was told there was no modern sealed bearing which would work without adapters, so that will be winter work.  I am putting the old parts back into service for one more gathering with my car buddies in Chatham, weekend of September 27th.  What could possible go wrong with my plan?

 

After much scrubbing and brushing with paint thinners the greasy wheel looks good again.

 

Regards, Gary

 

 

 

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My '13 Buick repair is back together and my '15 McLaughlin starter/generator was acting up.  I cleaned the battery terminals on the '15 and I added a heavy braided cable from the starter/generator to one of the engine bolts and that seemed to get the starter churning.

My wife and I gave the McLaughlin a major washing so I can polish the paint.  Waiting on upholstery to finish the restoration.

 

I gave Bev a lesson so she could drive the car and she handled the event well.

 

A variety of detail photos and a lady driver.

 

Stay well,  Gary

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My wife and I are members of an old car bubble which meets one weekend a month for brass era touring.  We have seven members, somehow our next tour at the end of September was announced in our Southern Ontario HCCA regional newsletter.  It's a snafu and our Chatham meet is not open to the public.  I dread the ringing telephone or email check because I have to turn my other friends away.

 

Bev and I have set up a drive with picnic lunches and a museum which is closed will have someone to greet us and give a talk and stroll while practicing social distancing.  These are difficult times but I am getting used to the "new normal" and especially getting closer to my bubble friends and their wonderful cars.  We have two each Fords, Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles coming.

 

Regards, Gary

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

On another website I follow called BrassBuicks a fellow wrote in describing a repair he made for a dragging clutch which caused me to check my linkages and clean everything up.  Here are the photos of a neat piece, a cast aluminum clutch case cover, the clutch and transmission cases showing the linkages and finally the front floor back in place.   I am a believer in fixing the car at home and hopefully drive the Buick in my old car bubble without incident.  I'd like to promote the idea Buick built good cars, while not mentioning the hours of maintenance.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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Friday, day one Bev and I are hosting a small group of pre '16 car drivers this weekend which has swelled to a dozen cars.  What a great collection '04 Oldsmobile, '04 Pope Hartford, '06 Cadillac, '07 Darracq, '09 Oakland, '11 Oldsmobile, '12 Cadillac, '13 White and Buick, '15 Gray Dort and a couple of Fords.

 

On the home repair front the long thin battery from my 1939 Buick had to be replaced after five years.  The battery would charge and read the correct 6.5V but would be dead after 15 seconds of cranking the engine.  The 93EH battery is a stock item at my favourite shop and cost $162.00 tax in, so not too bad once every five years.

 

Photos later, Gary

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Old car bubble buddies ramble on.  A few things we learned to do with my circle of early car guys is to have a weekend visit once a month, plenty of social distancing comradery and keep the daily mileage down to 50 to 60 miles per day to encourage the members to bring their small, single and two cylinder cars.  Here is a sample group of photos from near perfect summer like weather of our activities.

 

Bev and I hosted the coffee stop this morning and when we were leaving one car would not start, dead battery.  Usually the unfortunates would climb into another's back seat, this time everyone had already departed and we had passengers, so Bev loaned them her red sports car.  It's all good.

 

This morning we joined together and did a drive by at the home another old car friend since he is recovering from a serious stroke.   A simple act seemed to lighten his load.

 

Likely this is our final event of the season, hope we carry on next spring, our band of holiday ramblers.  I should mention a photo with a 1911 Oldsmobile Autocrat parked with a 1912 Cadillac, the Cadillac is the first car with the new Delco starter, not small car.

 

Stay well, Gary

  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was asked by the restorer of this 1923 Gray Dort to photograph the car and duplicate an original factory picture.  Following the photo shoot, we passed the home of the Gray family, the people who built the car in Chatham, On and wheeled onto their driveway and posed in front of their coach house.

 

I was thrilled with the assignment.  It even got better when I was allowed to drive the Gray Dort back to Blenheim.  Being a six cylinder the ride was smooth at 35 MPH and would cruise at 45.  Soon the car will be leaving for the west, it will leave a big hole in our lives, being a Chatham product and having spent many hours resurrecting this derelict into a car of high beauty.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have not had much to post lately, working on the home and thinking of winter work.  Under the general forums I enjoyed Chris Bamford's thread on driving his Model T Ford touring in an early snowfall.  Well, the weather in Southern Ontario is absolutely perfect, clear, sun, slight breeze and 20C (70F), we had to get the old Buick out for a drive and I saw a fall picture opportunity on our friend's farm I wanted to snap.  Following the photo session we took our friends for a long drive around the country block and it was their anniversary so this was our gift to them.

 

Bev and I are still hosting the 2021  Snappers Summer Tour in Chatham, On.  I am thinking of the the first week in August or perhaps the second week if there is a conflict.  Hope all is well and we can tour comfortably and safely in our hundred year old conveyances.

 

Here are todays photos.  Regards, Gary

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Edited by cxgvd
correction (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

This morning, Nov 25th, the buzz on the BrassBuicks website concerned fitting a new Zenith model 267 carburetor to replace the Marvel used in the 1915 C25.  My C25 is fitted with a rebuilt Marvel but I have not driven the car enough to believe the Marvel will be durable, reliable and safe.  I contacted the recommended Daytona Parts Company in Florida and ordered a new Zenith model 267 to use as the first line carb and keep the Marvel for shows and judging.

 

For the Snapper's Summer Tour, Bev and I chose the first week in August.  We are collecting names for our Pre '16 party in Chatham, On and have twenty-two responses.  Tour registration materials will not be sent out until late this spring, then we will know if the Canada/US border is open, the virus is contained and any Health Department requirements remain.  We live in hope.

 

The top photo is my Marvel fitted to the 165 CI engine and the second shot I gleaned from the BrassBuicks website of the same make and model fitted with a Zenith model 267.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The title of this weblog concerns driving Snapper era cars, part of driving cars which are a hundred years old means I have to have a vehicle heavy enough to pull our 6000 pound trailer.  Unless, of coarse, I only want to drive my cars locally.  Since Bev and I are retired we have had one modern car, a pick up truck, which is great for trips to the lumber yards and trailer hauling, not so much for the Walmart parking lot.  My truck is now 10 years old and 95,000 miles, I should swap it for a new/newer one except it is running perfectly and I like it.

 

My solution to the issue was to buy Bev and new Ford Fusion Hybrid.  It is beautiful and the technology is wow, I will drive my old truck to recycling, old car holidays, coffee with the men and it should be fine for a further five years.  Bev is a modern gal learning about adaptive cruise control, lane control and reversing cameras.  Happy wife happy life.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bev and I are hosting a Snapper's week long tour in Chatham during the first week of August, rescheduled from last summer.  We were in lockdown over the holidays and I tried to think of antique auto drives which would entertain my friends, I had an idea to host an optional weekend in Leamington.  Bev and I enjoy Point Pelee National Park anytime but especially from the seat of our open air Buick.  Here are some photos I snapped last summer to illustrate how beautiful the Park is, our guests would be getting seven days of tours, always give a bit more than you promised.

 

Stay well in 2021, Gary

 

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Nice shots Gary of Point Pelee!


I grew up with grandparents and then my parents owning what were simple cottages about 1/2 mile from the Park Entrance so know it well. In fact I was able to walk from those cottages using the beach to the very tip you see over the tree line in your shot.

I was about 12 I think (no cameras or phone to capture those moments) which would make it about 1967. Other than close to the end it was all sand (no rocks) and the only trouble having done that was that I had to walk all the way back.... It was a long day!!

Back then the sand Point was darn near a mile out on a calm day like you shot.

Historically that sand point shifts over time due to lake water levels and storm action coming from either prolonged wind directions out of the east or the west. 

 

Another interesting note is that one could actually drive your car on the road very close to the end of the trees and it had a roundabout which showed signs where you could park on the west side, get out and purchase a hot dog and a drink before walking out on the sand point.

Life guards were posted and swimming was discouraged especially on very ruff days. 

While the natural state of it today is peaceful and has some of the last Carolinian Forest left in Canada, as a young lad it seemed ALIVE with camping, two convenience stores, a commercial fishing operation where you could buy fresh walleye and perch and summer residents who had 100 year land leases which had again, built very simple summer cottages. Oh those lazy, hazy days of summer.

 

Believe it of not, my great great grandfather used to have a log cabin near what in now Seacliff Beach (Leamington) and both  Grandad and my Dad told me a story about him being friendly with the natives. They hunted in the Park during the winter for game/meat and due to the long trek he would wake up during the night finding two of three natives laying on the floor next the fire place. He'd take care of the nature call and go back to sleep but when he woke to start his day they were gone leaving a pheasant of two I guess in appreciation for being out of the cold.

 

Sorry Gary for diluting the thread a bit. If you think it is too much I will edit, just let me know.

I know people coming from out of Ontario that have never been there before will find it interesting even in it's present state of preservation for it's history and scenery, especially in the old cars!!

 

Hear is hoping everything will clear enough to make your trips happen.

  

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That is the Point waaay off in the distance.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Antique cars are put up for the winter and with the Corona Virus lockdowns, makes for quiet days.  I talked with the receptionist at my Doctors office this week asking her when Bev and I could expect to be vaccinated and was told May, June or July and it would not be at her office.  I am following some summer plans and am hopeful and cautious.

 

When I visited the newly revised Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA) website I was pleasantly surprised to find a photo of Bev and I leading one of the categories.  It was a lovely fall day with the top neatly folded, tonneau cover in place mean long distance touring, hats and jackets, empty and unmarked roads, ah, the good old days of friendship at 35 MPH.  The second photo is our 1913 Buick with the acetylene lamps lit and is the banner photo on BrassBuicks.Org.IO.  

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Though this posting is not antique Buick related I want to share a Hurrah to the NASA engineers who successfully landed a car on Mars.  The video of joy following "seven minutes of terror" gives me hope for the human race's future.  When I watched on the news the steps which had to be pre programed for the landing to occur and they did it, the staff seemed to be all about thirty years old, well done.  Some threads on these forums carp about young people do not care about antique cars, I don't care too, let them carry on.  We old folks should step back and get out of their way.

 

Stay well, Gary

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Gary,

I just spent 2 hours reading this thread; it is wonderful!

My compliments on your tenacity, creativity, dedication and patience.

The top on your '15 looks perfect; well done!

If the border is open by August, Julie and I might be able to join the Snappers tour.

Sounds like you and Bev have planned a wonderful event.

Joe

 

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Three weeks of cold and snow made for a dark February, spring is in the air today, Saturday.  Cleaning up the yard led me to the space where I keep my 1913 Buick and it seems to have weathered ( pun intended) the winter well.  I gave the crank a lift to rotate the engine without turning on the gas or setting the choke.  I gave the crank another turn, to open the closed valves and close others, the engine started and ran a few seconds.  She seems tired of winter and Covid restrictions, too, ready to ramble.

 

Think spring, Gary

 

 

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This morning I sent an email to Bob Giles organizer of the Vintage Tour and added our name to the list to attend.  The Vintage Tour is open to vehicles built by 1931, it is like a Snapper event but with twenties cars, Dodge Brothers, Hupmobiles, Imperials and Buicks.  Our car is the slowest but I leave a bit earlier than the others and get in a bit late for lunch, it is a very good time with a friendly and outgoing bunch.

 

Funny story, our first VT I did not take the opportunity to fill the gas tank when I could and ran out of gas going up a long grade.  Our 1913 Buick has a gravity feed fuel delivery system, I had to roll the dead car down the grade and back onto a laneway with Bob Giles riding the runningboard.  Once the Buick was parked on the flat the engine was restarted and I reversed up the long grade.  I had enough gas in the tank to complete the trip.  It's all good.

 

On the same tour my water pump failed and Bev and I caught rides the rest of the week.

 

The last tour was in Kingston and Bev and I had to miss it for a family wedding.  Last year was postponed due to the virus.  This summer I hope to successfully finish a Vintage Tour.

 

The photo is our car in front of the antique Penn Wells Hotel in Wellsboro. Pa and repairing the water pump at home.

 

We live in hope, Gary

 

 

 

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Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. has an archive of McLaughlin family, carriage and motor car materials.  When I contacted them for the brochure for 1915 they scanned and emailed me a 32 page book covering all three models McLaughlin produced that year.  With Covid restrictions in place I held onto the file until conditions eased and my printing shop reopened and could do the job.  The original scan would not let them make it into a book without a lot of cutting and pasting so I had them print it with the highest quality the way it was.  I cut it apart and placed the pages into plastic sleeves and made my own book.  It is not a collector's item, useful facts for a rare car instead.

 

One interesting fact, my 1915 has a Stewart speedometer as standard equipment, my 1913 Buick doesn't have a speedometer.  The first Buick, in my research, to list a speedometer as standard equipment is the 1914 B55, big six.  Earlier than 1914 the speedometer is after market, a dealer installed item.  Since no one is alive today who bought these cars new we need the sales books to show me the way.

 

Stay well, Gary

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Lately I've become interested in antique speedometers.  Today I had the opportunity to obtain a spare for my 1915 McLaughlin and maybe use it in my 1913 Buick which does not have one.  The first Buick outfitted with a speedometer as standard equipment was the 1914 Buick model 55, the big six.

 

It's good to get out of the house, especially on a pleasant spring afternoon, my wife and I travelled to Sarnia, On about an hour north.  I snapped a few photos along the Bluewater Parkway next the the St Clair river.  The black faced speedometer is original to the McLaughlin and is restored.  The silver one is identical except for the colour of the face.  During 1913 Stewart Speedometer switched from a sweep hand to the drum, magnetic indicator.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

 

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Cool weather for the next few day but I saw a robin and summer is close, hope we can enjoy it.  I have some parts to finish the nickel plating on the 1915 McLaughlin and I am going to try a new shop in London, On which my friends have recommended.  When I called to make an appointment the shop told me the usual turnaround time to complete the job is two weeks.  Excellent.  Two hubcaps, two hood clamp tops, a speedo swivel, 5 tube dust air caps and a speedo bezel for my recently acquired unit.  All the parts are made of brass and should come back beautifully shiny .

 

I also have an original, read old nickel, set of fancy wings which fits both the '15 and '13 Buick radiator filler neck.  I'll hold it back until I see their workmanship though.  This shop is an hour form my home and in a smaller city then the shop I have frequented before, in Toronto.

 

Stay well, get vaccinated;  Gary

 

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Gary:

 I hope you plating is more resonable that my latest batch. 

 The shop I had been using in Niagara Falls had been doing excelent work and the same about 2 week turn around. Also comparitively reasonable in cost. The latest batch of 22 pieces cost was about 3X what was expected!

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Speedometer project update.  I've stripped the speedometer i received last week to its bare components and unstuck the input shaft.  I've cleaned the glass and it will be fine to reuse.  Cleaned and polished the silver face with toothpaste, a few imperfections remain though it is original and reproducing a decal for the face is beyond my abilities nor is necessary for my use.  I cut a chuck of walnut to hold the body securely as I reassemble the parts before slipping it all back into the case which will be painted black.

 

The next photo is the location I chose to mount the speedometer head.  It should be out of the way of feet, have a short cable with no tight bends and the nut hold the steering wheel can read it.  I've been learning the everything I can concerning speedometers and charted the wheel gear, swivel and pinion gear cause the speedometer cable to spin 1009 times per mile at 30 MPH.

 

Stay well and wish me luck;  Gary

 

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Gary:

 Nice that the early Stewarts had more brass components.

 By the 1920s the AC units in my Buicks were done in the miracle material of the 1920s. DIE CAST.

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Out of 4 donor speedometers I have enough good pieces to have a functiong although not accurate unit. Unfortunately after I made sure it was working I re-swaged the bezel back on the case to instal. I needed to connect to the cable in the car and calibrate first. It shows 13 MPH slow.

 

Edited by dibarlaw
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Finished assembling and installing the Stewart speedometer in the dashboard of the 1915 McLaughlin.  One piece missing is at the platers before I can test it.

 

Heard from the upholstery man and he tells me he is ready to recover the seats in April.  Onward and always onward.  Gary

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

After working on my switch which controls the starter, ignition and lights I believe it is not reliable.  I am advertising and asking around if someone has an incomplete switch I can adapt to use modern push pull type switches and a new fuse box.  Then the car will have modern components but still look authentic and no one will know I've upgraded until they peer under the dashboard  My original switch will still be intact for the day when a technician who understands electricity can get it properly working as intended.

 

Get vaccinated, better days ahead,  Gary

 

 

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Without changing my ignition/lights switch, I installed the new fuse box and two push/pull switches hidden behind the dash board.  Hopefully the setup will prove to be reliable and not leave us sitting on the side of the road.

 

Stay well, Gary

 

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