Fender Unbender – Dave’s Garage

subaru fender benderRecently my wife was driving the kids to school in the Subaru when the truck in front of her stopped. She didn’t. The impact smashed the left headlight assembly, and bent the hood, fender and radiator support. The headlight also contains the directional and running lamp. The hood was bent enough to separate the skin from the frame.

I estimated the damage would be about $1,500 if I took it to a body shop. I have a thousand dollar deductible, so this repair would cost me at least $500.

I also knew a new headlamp assembly, new hood, new fender and fresh paint would not match the rest of the car. The car is a 2002 with 234,000 miles on it. The shiny new headlight would not match the one on the right side, the paint would not match and the finish would not have the same “patina” as the rest of the car. The quote for a used hood from the salvage yard was $50, and the fender was $35. Unfortunately, they did not have any red ones.

A new headlamp assembly from Subaru is about $350. One from a salvage yard was $35. I bent the metal behind the headlamp assembly back in to shape, and used a hammer and dolly on the fender to achieve a good fit with the new headlamp. I pulled the hood frame back in to shape, and hammered the hood skin back to shape. I wire brushed the metal until it was clean, then I epoxy primed the bare metal. I hammered the hood skin back over the frame and finished hammering the shape until the fit was satisfactory.

I will continue to look for a used hood and fender. If I can not find them used, I will put a light skim coat of body filler on the fender and hood, and repaint them. I will have to clear-coat the entire hood and fender. Unfortunately, the price of the primer, sealer, red paint, reducer, hardener, and clear-coat will be more than the used panels, and I know the paint won’t match. In the meantime, the car is roadworthy again, and I have only spent $35.

Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477


Mother’s Day

By the time you read this, Mother’s Day will be over by at least a month. I have to tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. It is considered the third largest holiday for card exchange with, of course, Christmas being the first and Valentine’s Day second. The giant card company, Hallmark, estimates they sell 133 million cards. Mother’s Day comes in second in the gift giving holidays and it also, is the year’s most popular holiday for dining out.

First some history on this( in most cases ) revered holiday called Mother’s Day (note it is not Mothers’ Day). It was always intended to be in the singular, “it wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known-your mother- as a son or daughter.” It was brought about largely by a woman named Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) when her mother died in 1905, she was inspired to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. The idea caught on and President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation on May 9, 1914 stating Mother’s Day is “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Then what? You guessed it, in a very short time it was recognized as a gold mine for commercialism! And, it was almost immediately a big business of selling cards, candy, flowers and it disturbed Jarvis so much that she spent her life and her substantial inheritance trying to return the holiday to the reverence of a person’s mother which was her original intention. Her story and all she did to try and reform Mother’s Day until at least 1940, is extremely interesting and very courageous for a woman from 1910-1940 but unfortunately she was not able to turn the tide and she died in 1948, penniless and in the Philadelphia Sanitarium.

Now, my feelings about the day we set aside for ‘our mother’. I guess I would first say if Mother’s Day is the only day you recognize her (I hope) for her devotion to you, part of me says ‘don’t bother’. It is kind of like those that only go to church on Christmas or Easter and aren’t observant the rest of the year ‘don’t bother’! But wait!! I am also the ‘queen of eternal hope’. Maybe, just maybe, if you do it once a year, maybe something will prick that heart of yours and it may become something you start doing twice or three times – which if you aren’t careful, it may just become part of your routine and you one day say ‘ wow, I love this’. (Believe me your mother and God will love it, too!) I have to admit I loved the flowers I received but was a bit disappointed when I read in the paper among the ads for where to eat and what to buy or what to do with your mother on ‘her day’, an ad to play a free round of golf with your mother (this was at the Club where my son is the Pro) I didn’t get a call with a tee time! (I’m pondering that one!) I’ll finish by saying a huge thank you to all you mothers that serve us on Mother’s Day in so many ways. It may be in a restaurant, store, gas station, hospital or a hundred other places we may need to be on this day and all year.

One more bit of information, last year the average spent was $168.94/per mother, this year $162.94 – wonder where I fell short! Better watch it, Father’s Day is traditionally a “fewer gift giving day” but that could change!

1933 Dodge Coupe

1933 Dodge CoupeWhile a student at Norwich University, a classmate of mine, “Bud” Hooper, had a nice old 33 Dodge Coupe that he had used primarily to get from his home in Hoosick Falls, NY to Northfield Vermont.

As we neared graduation in 1958 I was in the market for an inexpensive car. When Bud mentioned he was getting a new car for graduation and was selling the Dodge I bought it for $300. That at the time was a lot for a car that old but the car had only 5400 miles on it and ran well. I had almost $300 in graduation gifts from various aunts and uncles, borrowed the balance from my father and had my “wheels”.

Before reporting for active duty in the Army I worked in Cambridge, MA at a supersonic wind tunnel and took graduate courses at MIT and also courted my wife to be, who was a senior at Wellesley College.

My active duty station was at Fort Belvoir VA. The old Dodge made the trip from Middlebury to Fort Belvoir many times. Driving time was thirteen hours as this was before interstate highways and much of the trip was down old US Route #1.

After completing my active duty we were married and lived in Georgia, Vermont. Four children had fun playing in it while it was up on blocks with about 75,000 miles on it.

I planned to restore the Dodge but working and traveling as a mechanical engineer for various companies postponed that for about 40 years. Restoration started in 2005 at White Rock Sports in Bristol with “Eli” Elithorpe.

The 33 Dodge is the only car I have had that I have “feelings’’ for. It has always served me well and I think looks great. All other cars were just an expensive necessity.

Gary wanted me to tell a funny story about the car, like my wife giving me a tow to start a dead battery and tearing off the front bumper. But I am not going there! We have been happily married for 55 years and hope to make it to 56!!

Editor’s notes…

As the editor I feel this “story” is a very important learning tool for the old-car-crowd and needs to be told. I have also observed that Pat & Bill’s union is very strong (they are a wonderful couple) and can surly weather this tale of the day the bumper came off the Dodge.

One day when the Mraz 33 needed a tow Bill explained to his wife Pat what is needed when towing a vehicle . As he mentions above, he is an engineer, so I am certain his explanation was very thorough. And, from what I understand, Pat did exactly what she was told. You are to start out pulling very slowly then speed up. That is what Pat did… all before the chain got-tight. So, when the chain became tight Pat was in the “speed-up” mode and the bumper came off. Ooops!

I hope this does not ruin my chances of getting the inside story in future feature stories and I hope the Mraz family is still speaking to me.

There were over 106,000 Dodges built in 1933 and 9500 of them were business coupes like Bill and Pat’s. Of the options available the Mraz coupe has front and rear bumpers (most of the time…), a heater and a rear-view mirror. Other options available but not on this car were dual sidemount spare tires, metal sidemount cover, chrome sidemount trim bands, rear spare metal cover, radio, clock, cigar lighter, radio antenna, trunk rack, spotlight, outside rearview mirrors, dual trumpet horns, dual taillights, dual windshield wipers and a license plate frame.

The DP series Dodge was new for 1933 with it’s 6 cylinder engine and offered two wheel base sizes.. 111.3 inch & 115 inch. The DP line was not offered in 1934 when the company changed to series DR, DS and DRXX.

This info came from “American Cars Catalog”