Kegan

1927 Graham Brothers 3/4 ton Delivery barn find

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I first saw this truck about 15 years ago. I had heard about it but hadn’t seen it. A friend whom was in his upper 60’s thens father had passed several years earlier. He was a huge lover of Ford model A’s and anything else antique car. He had to have been collecting before collecting started. I had the chance to walk around and look in the barns of which were all full to the hilt. Car parts were everywhere. Brass era stuff and random pieces and parts and headlight buckets to early rare stuff. I listened to him rattle off what each piece was like a book. As we walked into what was known as the blacksmith shop there it was. As soon as the door was opened it was staring me in the face. I had no idea what it was but there it was. Covered in dust dirt and random stuff from top to bottom there sat the Graham Brothers 3/4 ton hard side delivery truck sadly in a wet barn on blocks. The rotted back doors lay in a pile in the back and she looked to be complete and untouched. My heart melted! He told me the story of him and his father in the early 50’s riding over to Owosso Michigan to a junkyard to save the Graham. They paid for it the day before and went back the following with a trailer. The dent in the rear fender was not there when it was paid for. But when they went to get it the fender had been crunched by the tractor moving it. Although not so happy with the fender they loaded it on the trailer and headed for home, stopping at a diner for some lunch. Hearing a loud bang everyone in the place thought it was a gunshot and ducked. Turned out it was the tire blowing on the Graham lol. He smiled as he told the story. That was the first time I tried to buy it. He quickly replied his son in-law was interested in the truck and it wasn’t for sale so we pressed on through the mess and the fire in my head had started. Over the next ten or so years I mentioned the truck at least a few times a year and was continually shot down. I never gave up. He eventually walked up to me at a tractor show one day and said “you know that truck you’ve been asking about”? My Arms were instantly covered in goosebumps. “I don’t think my son in-law gives a shit about that truck and I want it to have a home where it will be loved”. We shook hands a haggled on a price of which another year went by before we agreed on a price. I knew it was mine we had a gentleman’s agreement and needed to agree on how much and you can’t rush a gentleman’s agreement or haggling with an old friend. 

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Edited by Kegan (see edit history)
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The price had been set and the clearing of the barn had started to get to the front doors. I was so excited to drag the truck home which had been named Norman already. Norman was his fathers name and the man who saved the Graham from scrap at the junkyard in Owosso. So I felt Norman was a fitting name. I lay in bed the night before the big move and my brain was running a million miles an hour. I didn’t sleep hardly at all. The truck was hooked up to the trailer and fitted with chains and everything else I may need in my journey to bring Norman home the evening before. I crawled out of bed with little sleep but a vigor I can’t explain, jumped in the truck and headed for the barn. As I pulled up the front doors were swung open and I looked inside to see Norman free and clear ready to see the sunlight again. His father got the truck running in the early 50’s and drove it in several local parades and hauled supplies and kids to local football games. He had to many projects going and Norman was eventually put up on blocks in the barn in about 58 and there it had sat untouched since. It was a very special day for me. We jacked it up and removed the blocks and aired up the tires of which actually held air to my surprise. Set it on its four wheels that hadn’t touched the ground in almost 60 years and pushed it for the door. My excitement was over the top! We got it to the door and I had to snap some pics of it getting it’s first glimpse of freedom in 60 years. Winched it on the trailer and more pics were taken. Listened to a few stories and chained it down and away we went. Straight to Bolingers for the Waterloo Boy gathering and Norman’s first show lol. Covered in dust and dirt I drove right in and pulled the truck and trailer and Norman right into line. And the eyeballs and heads started turning. On the way home I drove through town and got some gas. Had a man pull in behind me just to see what was on the trailer and talk and about 4 people come out of the store. My head and heart were full. Ideas of restoration were flying through my head. I paraded the truck around on the trailer for the day and headed home to unload in the barn. My research had begun. That’s about the time I realized the engine which was a one year only engine dubbed the Fast Four was not so easy to get parts for and there was no information on my truck. That’s when I realized what I had was quite rare and it was gonna be interesting searching for needed items! Finally I was put in contact with Myers Early Dodge Parts and they have been Norman’s savior. It was on from then out. It was also the point I realized I had never taken on a project like that. It sat in the barn for a year. A friend Larry knew what I had and offered to let me drag it over to his shop and he would help me get the Graham going again.  I don’t think either of us knew what that meant but to Larry’s it was! 

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Kegan, welcome to the forum! Great story, and great pics. Looking forward to following your progress. 

 

Nice Challenger too.....is that yours? (My son has a black SRT with the 392.)

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That’s a friend of mines that happened to be at the gas station that day. It’s a Hellcat 

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Congrats , nice find . Looks lot like Henry Boler's ,except his is RHD '31 . Can be seen resorting on You-tube .  Find some thread on prelubing engine and check list along with proper fluids . And  keep us posted . 

Edited by ArticiferTom (see edit history)

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Fast forward a year, loaded up the truck and headed to Larry’s. Without guys like him people like me wouldn’t have a chance in this hobby. Larry is a mechanical genius, machinist and a all around good guy. We got it in the barn and did an initial go through. Our initial look showed that the Northeast Electric distributor was trashed. That was gonna be a major problem. They are very hard to find. But luck eventually was on my side. I found an original that was good and usable. The fast four was full of walnuts and trash from its inhabitants. Motor was locked up. Wheels were trashed. The roof was toast and there was plenty of rot in the floors. The Stewart vacuum fuel pump was a mess and I knew nothing about them. Electrical was a mess. We knew we had our work cut out for us. I of course thought the worst and Larry said let’s do this So we got to work. Pulled the engine and got it on the stand. Got it broke down and the head pulled and unfortunately the block was cracked from the valve into the cylinder wall and the cylinder was full of antifreeze. Although it was worse than we had hoped we made a to do list and got to work! Larry drilled the block and inserted 10 tapered pins overlapping each one and hammered them in tight and peened the ends over. I’d never seen anything like it. Larry said wait till you see it come back from the machine shop. You will never know it was cracked. 

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I’m gonna try to do a post everyday from the beginning till I catch you all up to where I’m at currently! I’ll post the new one this afternoon after work! In the mean time here’s a little promotional piece I picked up over the last few years. I’ve seen them in nicer shape but they are very hard to find. See maybe one every year or two! This ones rough but complete and the color scheme is the same as my truck! 

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Edited by Kegan (see edit history)

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Next we sent a whole pile of parts to be baked and cleaned. Block machined and the crank cleaned up.  While those were out getting cleaned up I found a really nice set of firestone tires that had been on a Model T Ford just up the road from me for cheap. They didn’t have many miles on them but the owner wanted wire wheels and brand new tires, worked out in my favor. Bought the set of 5 and sold the wheels for what I paid for the whole lot. I was smiling. Thus began the long road to cleaning the Graham Wheels while waiting for parts. They were a mess but solid as could possibly be. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but chugged along at a pace I thought was at snail level apparently I was doing quite well. 

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The back doors laid in the back of the truck in a pile of rotten wood and rust. I called a good friend who happens to be a master wood worker  and restored Victorian homes. Made a plan to drop the doors off and away we went. He cut the ash trees, sawed the logs and built me a set of back doors exactly like the originals except the originals actually used ship lap house siding for the cross braces lol. They must have gotten a cheap load of house siding that day. The metal skins were loaded with pinholes and the bottoms of the window sills were shot. Steve leaded all the holes and reattached the skins. I was blown away when I stopped to pick them back up a few months later. 

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Edited by Kegan (see edit history)
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while working in the wheels we found a nice little tool to make life easier the spreader! Block and head is back from the machine shop and back to Larry’s shop! Got the crank fitted and in, now just have to take it back apart and lube everything up for the final install. Had not a clue what plastigauge was till this day or how to use it but kinda do now. also learned a cool trick to taking the cam out using wood clothes pins to compress the springs. Just for some reason happened to have a brand new package of wood clothes pins in the truck. In between time we started doing a side project with a carb rebuild that carburetor is seriously beautiful! Feels damn good to see things start to go back together at this point. Norman is on the mend!

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Larry musta been bored! He sent me a couple pictures of a very special fender and part of Norman’s story! I never in a million years thought this would come out. The day it was paid for in the junkyard in Owosso in the early 50’s the fenders were nice and straight. They went back the next day to pick it up and found somebody had backed into it with a tractor moving it around and creased the rear passenger side fender bad. Norm wasn’t at all happy with the damage but loaded it on the trailer and drug it home anyway. They happened to stop at a diner for lunch on the way home and just as they got their food everybody heard a loud bang. Scared the shit out of everybody. They thought it was a gunshot. Turns out it was the old wore tire blowing out. Anyway Larry has that fender damn near perfect! I am in aw! Next is to put a weld on it to fix the cracks and smooth it out. I figured that fender was gonna stay that way for quite some time. I’m glad it’s straightened out! Said he likes a challenge lol! That was one hell of a challenge. I never thought that crease would straighten out the way it did. I took that before pic of the crease the second time I laid eyes on that truck. I knew then I wanted it and wanted to remember what was wrong with it. I’ve got about 6 hours in the front wheels at this point and still am not done. My appreciation for nice original wheels that have been sanded and cleaned will never be the same! What a lucky guy I am! Never thought I would be able to own something this fricken cool and get it going again! Thanks again Larry you are a true craftsman! 

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Picked up an original working headlight- ignition  switch for Norman! The one in the truck not only wasn’t working but also wasn’t original. Had to pay for it but the 27 is gonna have a nice original headlight ignition switch. Got another little piece of the puzzle. Here’s where I’ll tell you the one secret behind this truck that’s not original but is a much needed feature! I’ve been wondering what to do for turn signals in the front. I haven’t liked anything I have seen. Everything was gaudy add ons that looked ridiculous. Then Larry showed me these reflectors out of a model A Ford. My reflectors were shot. The model A reflectors fit almost like they were meant to be in the Graham Brothers headlight buckets “with a little modification” had to cut the outer ring off and they slide right into the originals and bam I got headlights and turn signals all in one that will work with my original 6 volt system. Apparently they make a turn lever that attaches right to the steering column! Couldn’t look any better! Look at the original 93 year old paint inside those headlight buckets. Getting ready to make my first big order from Meyers Early Dodge Parts this coming week for 8 new valves and a new gasket set and a new gas tank gauge face plate!

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Edited by Kegan (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, Kegan said:

....In between time we started doing a side project with a carb rebuild that carburetor is seriously beautiful....

 

 

 

 

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So how’d you get the bronze so cleaned up?

 

I used something from NAPA that claimed it wouldn’t hurt it (can’t remember what - Gunk?), obviously it didn’t clean so well⬇️
 

New gaskets, jets clean - works about as well as a Marvel can work so I really shouldn’t complain....

 

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Edited by Ben P. (see edit history)

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Disassembled it, ran all parts through a light sandblast then buffed it up on a bench wire wheel! Prestó shino then cleaned it all up inside and ordered new gaskets and she’s a site to behold 

Edited by Kegan (see edit history)
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Why not install an original set of cowl lights for the signals in front?  

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Was there a vin tag on the toeboard under the dash?

This location on my 29 DB.

 

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Your plate should look like this.

 

Edited by stakeside
E (see edit history)

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On 2/14/2020 at 10:15 AM, Kegan said:

while working in the wheels we found a nice little tool to make life easier the spreader! Block and head is back from the machine shop and back to Larry’s shop! Got the crank fitted and in, now just have to take it back apart and lube everything up for the final install. Had not a clue what plastigauge was till this day or how to use it but kinda do now. also learned a cool trick to taking the cam out using wood clothes pins to compress the springs. Just for some reason happened to have a brand new package of wood clothes pins in the truck. In between time we started doing a side project with a carb rebuild that carburetor is seriously beautiful! Feels damn good to see things start to go back together at this point. Norman is on the mend!

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Looks like my Steward Detroit used on my 29 DB SIX. I am looking for someone to rebuild it. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

 

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Edited by stakeside
E (see edit history)

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9 hours ago, stakeside said:

 

Looks like my Steward Detroit used on my 29 DB SIX. I am looking for someone to rebuild it. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

 

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Sorry I wish I could be of more help. We did this one ourselves actually my friend Larry did it. I would call Myers Early Dodge Parts 

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This was my hillbilly ingenuity at work. We pulled the tank and restored the gas gauge with new floats and a new face. The tank was headed to sandblast but there was some gas that had over the years turned to a thick layer of shellac on the bottom of the tank that I couldn’t remove to save my life. Filled it with paint thinner and rocks and taped up the filler hole. Jacked up my buddies John Deere and strapped it to the back wheel. Put tractor in drive and let her spin for about 30 minutes. Worked flawlessly and left not a speck of the old gas in the tank. Also went to a local swap meet and met with Myers Early Dodge parts to pick up a set of gaskets for the fast four, a set of gaskets and O rings for the carburetor, a NOS head gasket, full set of red coolant hoses and to my surprise met a man selling restored plates and he just so happened to have a set of beautiful matching 1927 commercial plates. I had no choice but to take them home as well! I wish I could have downloaded the video of the gas tank spinning it really was quite funny! 

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Also at this point I wire wheeled the block, oil pan, flywheel cover, and all other engine parts to prep for primer and paint The fast four is coming together. Big day today for Norman. Block and everything that is going to be the original mintish green color is almost ready for paint, most of the black parts are painted. Larry went to town on the engine today.  tomorrow the oil pump is gonna get finished up with its new gasket thanks to Curt and the carburetor is going together. Engine should be ready to start priming painting back to the original DB green except the manifold will be ceramic coated in black. I love how all the bolts have DB cast into them for Dodge Brothers. One more thing worth mentioning is we finally found and decided on the new wood for the bed of the truck and the back step. Walnut, It will be planed down and shellacked. This is to get rid of all the rotten wood in the bed and it should look beautiful

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Another Larry special! The water pump that needed to be rebuilt and get a new shaft. The shaft was worse than the picture looks. It was hogged out in the middle from the graphite packing rubbing on it for so many years. I was gonna buy the shaft and propeller and Larry said we don’t need to do that. He said he could add some weld to it and run it in the lathe and bring it back to size. Looks damn good! Another amazing job by Larry!

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On 2/15/2020 at 4:00 PM, JayG said:

Why not install an original set of cowl lights for the signals in front?  

Do you happen to have a picture of what they look like? 

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It’s just an old Graham Brothers hubcap to some but to me it was one more piece of the puzzle that I needed. This one just came in the mail from a guy in New Jersey and has just the perfect original patina for old Norman!  These GB “Graham Brothers” caps seem to be quite hard to find! And the last picture is all of them after a good blast and buff on the wheel! In between everything else that was going on. I at home in my dining room have been spending countless hours on the wood wheels and steering wheel sanding and staining and shellacking. Wait till you see those beauties but I’ll save that for the next post! Maybe tomorrow..... If you cheat you can actually see one of them in the picture with all the caps but I’d wait till the next part of the story to see the real pics!

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Edited by Kegan (see edit history)

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