1930 Chrysler CJ Roadster

Wendell & Mary Noble’s 1930 Chrysler CJ Roadster

A Lot Of Money Goes A Long Way – from Wendell Noble

1930 chrysler cj roadster wendell nobleA funny thing about my doing a car restoration, although I’m working toward a goal, when I get there, it’s a bit of a let down. I am happy with the results. If I weren’t, it wouldn’t be done yet.

It all started back in 2010 with a call from Dave Maunsell. He had been assembling an inventory of parts for a 1930 Chrysler CJ roadster for years with the intention of ultimately turning it into a completed car. However, I think Dave had become skeptical about ever getting to it, and came to feel some money, would be of more use to him. He was concerned that the project car go to someone who would complete it to his satisfaction. Dave had familiarized himself with my 1929 Plymouth and the work I had done on it. Structurally, it’s very similar to the Chrysler CJ and I think this satisfied him that I might do right by this project.

I’m told that “CJ” stands for Chrysler Junior. It was the smallest Chrysler at the time and, in fact, is the same size as the Plymouth but has a six cylinder engine instead of the Plymouth four.

Once the deal was struck, Gael Boardman, Gary Olney and I headed over to Dave’s place in Greensboro. We pulled parts from all corners of his garage and loaded up Gael’s truck, my truck and my trailer. Upon arrival at my place, Gael asked if I had any doors on my load. None of us remembered seeing any car doors. I gave Dave a phone call and he assured me that there should be two doors. A day or two later, he called back to announce that he had found the doors… in his hall closet. I can’t understand why it didn’t occur to us to look there in the first place.

1930 chrysler cj roadster restorationThe restoration has been enjoyable. The frame and drive train were in good order and required very little attention to fundamentals. Electrical system, brakes, and steering needed to be done from the ground up. The big efforts were needed on the body and upholstery. The body had to be built completely, starting with the interior wood skeleton and then a lot of “tin knocking” to get the sheet metal patched, smoothed and properly aligned. Many parts had to be made from scratch. These included seat cushions from seat parts of other cars, mounting hardware for the side-mount spare tires, top irons and bows for the folding top, door hinges, bumper clamps and correct running boards. The car came with an original front bumper, but no rear bumper. I discovered that model A Ford bumpers are the same width and length, but are not curved like the Chrysler’s. Bailey Spring in Essex Junction did a great job of perfectly arching the Ford bumpers without so much as scratching the Chrome. I think I know my skill limits, so the finish painting was done by Mountain View Auto Body of Enosburgh, upholstery and top were done by Coggio Upholstery of Richmond and plating was done by Anthony Cook of Shaftsbury.

The car is now ready for it’s debut, just as soon as the frost is out and our road is dry. I’ve concluded that the secret to a decent car restoration is to spend a lot of money on it. I’m not talking about a rattle can and pop rivet job here. Once you’re prepared to do that, you’re on your way.

1930 chrysler cj roadster frame restoration

Sounds Good

sounds goodI recently lost the radio in my every day Saab. I went to crutchfield.com to look at a replacement stereo. I wanted something inexpensive that would simply replace the radio in my car. I was surprised to see the many options and reasonable prices.

For less than 200 dollars, I can fit a replacement radio, with a CD/DVD player, Bluetooth, a video screen and a touchscreen. For a couple bucks more I can add a back up camera.

A unit with all of these features and GPS is roughly the same cost as a stand alone portable GPS unit. Of course, buying the unit from a place like Crutchfield includes plug and play wiring and all hardware needed to make the installation look factory original.

I am amazed at how many features these aftermarket stereos have, and at how much the cost has come down. Now, if I can figure out how to add side curtain air bags, collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control I would never need to buy a new car again.


easy oil installation toolAnyone who has replaced oil seals without removing the shaft that seals against the seal knows what a struggle the seal installation is. Think of replacing the front main crankshaft seal in place without removing the timing cover or the crank shaft. This job requires applying equal pressure around the circumference of the seal, or it will warp or bend.I have taken several pieces of scrap PVC Schedule 40 drain pipe and cut it in lengths of three inches or so. Interestingly, the diameter of many grease seals is the same diameter of PVC drain pipe. The thickness of the PVC pipe is the perfect thickness to use as an oil seal installation tool.

I have diameters of inch, inch and a half, two inches, two and a half inches, three inch, etc., sitting on my tool shelf, standing in the ready to use for seal installation.By placing the appropriate diameter pipe over the seal the seal can be easily tapped in to place with a mallet. For larger diameter seals, and pipe installation tools, I have a piece of 2 by 4 to place over the pipe before tapping with a hammer.

A Page from “The Willy Chronicles”

‘Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…..’

No, this article isn’t about who sang this song. If you know it was Janis Joplin you are probably about the same age as me and you would know that I just turned 70. This isn’t bad, but it is when I’m sure that I don’t look a day over 69!

Sorry I’ve gotten off track.

Willy, if I haven’t mentioned him before is a cat that used to come to our door at 6 AM and would scratch for food. He started this about 5 years ago. We would put food and water out twice a day for about 6 months. He wouldn’t have anything to do with us and would even wait to eat until we had gone inside. Once he thought Gary was too slow putting his meal down and he raced forward, bit Gary, and then raced out of reach! That is another story: The Rabies Watch.

the willysWith winter coming on, we started encouraging Willy to come in the house. After several weeks of moving his food closer to the inside (and the fact that winter had arrived, and he was living under our car trailer) he finally came in. Willy would eat, bed down for the night, wake up, eat and demand to be put out for the day. After, a couple more weeks, he would let us touch him but never hold him.

He did get used to us enough, so one day, armed with a big towel, we caught him, stuffed him in a cat carrier and we all went off to visit the Vet. He had an infected tail and it was amputated. The doctor said it had gotten broken (probably in a fight) and his ears had been torn. We brought him home with a 2-inch stub, all his shots on board and decided he would become an inside cat. But Willy had other ideas, he begged to go out almost immediately and as ‘good’ parents, we let him. Several hours later he returned, well after dark and wanted to come in. He was soaking wet and had a head injury. We figured his friends, who were still enjoying their freedom, had laughed at his shaved butt and stubby tail and he had to defend himself.

That did it, we did not let him out no matter how much he begged. It took months, but he seemed to settle into a life of tasty food, treats, and a warm place to sleep. I should mention he has 2 servants who cater to almost every wish and go out of their way to please him. And he stopped begging to go out. About 3 months ago when Gary didn’t realize Willy was near by and the door was open about 5 inches, he scooted through and out on the porch. He walked around the porch and went right back in. Hallelujah! I was close to a panic but could now calm down.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago, same scenario, door open a bit and gone! He sure can move fast but this time he explored about 15 minutes before he decided to come back, I’m in panic mode this time!

Now 3 days ago, someone came to the door and Gary answered it. Willy snuck through and again gone! We watched him taking his old route from years ago, across the front of the house, under the car trailer, to the first neighbor’s house, around the shrubs in front of neighbor #2 and out the back (which takes him to the next street). Full panic mode!! I couldn’t stand waiting to see if he was Gone-Gone, so I told Gary I was going out. I needed to exchange some of Gary’s clothes and get his medicine. In about 45 minutes, my cell rang, and Gary says, ‘did you find Willy?’ and I said,’ no I am not looking for him, I am at Tractor Supply’. Gary thought I was so upset that I had gone out on a search, but I was doing errands! Gary said Willy was in the kitchen, muddy and wet, but home! Hallelujah!!!

We have been trying to figure out why after the plush life we have given Willy, he would want to escape and the only thing we can come up with is that he has seen a former friend (namely girlfriend) and is willing to throw it all away for Love! Gary has noticed a lot of cat prints in the yard lately.

1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile

Dennis Dodd, of East Fairfield, Vermont

“Kids, College & Work kept this 1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile waiting for 28 years… Finally, with a new paint job on its way, it will be finished”.

1902 curved dash oldsmobileDennis Dodd purchased the ‘02 Curved Dash Olds in ‘89 from a Massachu-setts gent while at the VAE Stowe Show. It was completely original but needed a lot of work. Over the past 4 years, he rebuilt the engine and along with restoring every other item of the vehicle. A paint booth has been reserved for later in this Spring for the last piece of the restoration. A long time friend of Dennis’s who had earlier built a replica of the same car, has helped in the restoration, he is Skip Minor of Milton. Asked the number of hours spent on the project and Dennis guessed a minimum of 500 hours, not counting his friend’s time.

Gary Hoonsbeen died in 2016 but during his lifetime, he was the country’s lead expert in these unique vehicles. Soon after Dennis brought the car home, he was in contact with Gary, asking all the normal question of a newly minted antique car owner. The big mystery was finding the correct year that this car was manufactured. So as Dennis and Gary went down the list while on the phone, Gary was confirming the vehicle was built in 1901with some parts from 1002. Then came Dennis’s description of the water pump. Gary informed him that he had made a mistake in his notes, because “that” Curved Dash water pump did not exist. It turned out, it did exist, it was the only known original Curved Dash water pump known and it was on this vehicle! The car club later borrowed the water pump to use as patterns to build 15 new ones.

Recently, some officials from the Curved Dash Club made their way to England, where they inspected an original, in a barn that had never been modified. They discovered the serial numbers that have been used for years by the club, to determine the “built year”, most likely has to be changed. The Oldsmobile company had two places where they stamped the built number, on the engine head and on the compression release pedal. Dennis’s number is 6631 and even though Gary Hoonsbeen said the car was mostly a 1901, the serial number was 1902. The England trip will most likely confirm this vehicle is a 1901 car.

This from “Wikipedia” and “The Standard Catalog of American Cars”…….

The gasoline-powered Curved Dash Oldsmobile is credited as being the first mass-produced automobile, meaning that it was built on an assembly line using interchangeable parts. It was introduced by the Oldsmobile company in 1901 and produced through 1907; 425 were produced the first year, 2,500 in 1902, and over 19,000 were built in all. When General Motors assumed operations from Ransom E. Olds on November 12, 1908, GM introduced the Oldsmobile Model 20, which was the 1908 Buick Model 10 with a stretched wheelbase and minor exterior changes.

The Curved Dash car was a runabout model, could seat two passengers, and sold for US$650. While competitive, due to high volume, and priced below the US$850 two-seat Ford Model C “Doctor’s Car”, it was more expensive than the Western 1905 Gale Model A Roadster at US$500. The Black sold for $375, and the Success for US$250.

The flat-mounted, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 5 HP, relying on a brass gravity feed carburetor. The transmission was a semi-automatic design with two forward speeds and one reverse. The low-speed forward and reverse gear system is a planetary type. The car weighed 850 lbs. and used Concord springs. It had a top speed of 20 mph.

The car’s success was partially by accident in 1901, a fire destroyed a number of other model prototypes before they were approved for production, leaving the Curved Dash the only one intact.

1902 oldsmobile

When it inspires a song (below), you know it’s popular. This Olds was the bestselling car in America from 1902 to 1905. Automobiles had an emotional appeal. A driver in 1901 said that controlling a car satisfied “an almost universal sense, the love of power.” Despite the attraction, cars were not a significant player in the transportation world. In 1903, 4000 people bought Oldsmobile’s, but more than 900,000 bought buggies and carriages.

With its one-cylinder engine and horseless carriage looks, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash didn’t seem particularly rugged. Olds Motor Works proved its runabout’s mettle with a number of elaborate stunts. Here the car is driven up a steep hill, over uneven ground. Far more extravagant was Roy D. Chapin’s 820-mile drive, from Detroit to New York, in an Oldsmobile in 1901.

Young Jonnie Steele has an Oldsmobile,
He loves a dear little Girl.
She is the queen of his gas machine,
She has his heart in a whirl.
Now when they go for a spin, you know,
She tries to learn the auto, so,
He lets her steer, while he gets her ear,
And whispers soft and low:

Come away with me Lucile
In my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly,
Automobubbling you and I.
To the church we’ll swiftly steal,
Then our wedding bells will peel,
You can go as far as you like with me,
In my Merry Oldsmobile

Local Boy Makes Good

filabotIt’s very common these days to wring our hands over the fact that the younger generation has little interest or motivation beyond their smart phones and social media. In the VAE, our Golden Wrench Awards are aimed at encouraging young people to move beyond these distractions and focus their interest on science and math.

This month I decided (with a little prodding from Wendell) that it would be a good idea to write about a Milton young man, we have known, who has been recognized for his achievements. He has always been a “tinkerer”. Among many other things in the family garage, he put together a mini-bike, which he briefly rode around town, but it went faster than was wise with the increasing traffic. He came here to see our old cars, in fact. I think he did some work on old cars, as well as, all of his other projects. His name is Tyler McNaney.

tyler mcnaney
Tyler McNaney

After graduating from Milton High School, he attended Vermont Technical College in Randolph, but came up with the idea for a machine to turn recyclable plastic into filaments for use in 3D printers. He calls it “Filabot”, and he left college to start his own business to manufacture and sell his machines. His Filabot business has earned him a “Rising Star” award from Vermont Business Magazine and Best Small Business Award from Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation in 2016. He was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list a few months ago.

His team includes Whitney Trudo, Josh Heisler, Ben Holleran and others. I would like to think that we might have had some influence by encouraging him along the way. But I suspect he would have done just fine anyway. Tyler has many more ideas and hopes for future developments and to quote him, he will “Hit the ground running”. It’s gratifying to know that there are young people who have the drive and intelligence that Tyler has shown.

Editor’s notes…….

This from Tyler’s website filabot.com

Who are we? 

Used by NASA, Dupont, MIT and others all across the globe: Filabot is a plastic company that builds machines for filament extrusion. Our Filabot product line-up is built to convert plastic into filament for use in 3D printers. 

Check out our webstore for products and accessories, our blog for updates about Filabot and our customers and feel free to give us a shout with any questions or concerns. Thanks and happy printing! 

I Just Can’t Stop!

Let’s face it. Old cars have lousy brakes. Model T Fords only have brakes on the rear wheels, and even those do not work very well. To be fair, the Model T seldom goes over 30 miles an hour.

In the 1950’s and through the 1960’s, cars got bigger and much more powerful. As cars were getting heavier and faster, most still had single circuit drum brakes, many without power assist. Safety standards allowed single circuit brakes through the 1967 model year in the United States. If any brake line or hose ruptured, you had no brakes. If you have an older car with questionable brakes, and you enjoy driving it, you may want to consider upgrading the brakes.

lousy brakesThere are many aftermarket suppliers offering kits to upgrade brakes. Often, the parts were manufactured for later models of similar vehicles, and the parts easily bolt on earlier vehicles.

I believe if you actually drive and enjoy your car, simply upgrading to a dual circuit brake system is an important upgrade. This usually requires simply changing the master cylinder and adding a hard line or two. You may have to also add a proportioning valve. Often, this modification can also include adding power brakes by adding a vacuum booster servo.

Adding front disk brakes is another upgrade to consider. This can also be done after upgrading the master cylinder to a duel circuit system. Adding front disk brakes may involve changing the spindles. There are many kits available with all of the hardware needed for an out of the box bolt on installation.

I recently purchased a new, duel circuit master cylinder kit for the 1959 Corvette. This car is fun to drive, but just can’t stop. This kit is designed to also work with a front disk conversion kit, if I ever decide to go that route.

If you are considering improving the brakes on your car, check parts suppliers catalogues and on line forums to see what is available for improving your brakes.