Driveshaft Fail – Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

Absent any questions this month, I will share a story about how costly it can be to ignore warning signs and delay needed maintenance

0819 broken driveshaft

A friend of mine has a towing and recovery business. He recently picked up a Subaru from out of state after it broke down on the interstate. The owner told him to keep the car. Why did the Subaru break down? The center drive shaft bearing failed, and the driveshaft came undone from the carrier bearing, flung around, came out of the transmission, hit the pavement, and punctured the floor. The drive shaft punched through the floor and up between the front seats, at highway speed. 

Fortunately, nobody was injured. This problem most likely made considerable noise for some time before it catastrophically failed. This could have been a $100 repair, taking less than a half hour to fix. Someone decided to ignore the warning signs, and ended up walking away from the car. 

I considered buying the vehicle and repairing it. I probably would have, but looking at the car it was very clear the car had never had any maintenance. I don’t think it was ever washed or vacuumed out. 

I can not understand how anyone can invest thousands of dollars in a vehicle and not maintain their investment. 

How do I know I am getting a good upholstery job?

From CostHelper.com….. 

How much does it cost to reupholster a car interior? 

For car owners interested in a complete makeover, car owners can buy vehicle reupholstering kits for about $800, plus an additional $750 for a professional to install, Zalewski says. A custom upholstery for an entire car can cost about $2,500. There are also options for carpet repair. 

How much does it cost to reupholster seats? 

car seat frame

Having the car seats professionally reupholstered (not just adding slip covers, but completely replacing the old material with a chosen fabric, adding foam or batting where needed, and repairing springs if needed) typically costs $200-$750 per seat, or about $500-$2,000 for two bucket seats and a back bench seat. 

From Paulina at Rayco Upholstery… 

Plan ahead. Finding an upholstery shop early on, in the process, will ensure you get a better cost estimation, along with an experienced interior craftsman, who can provide pointers on making sure body fabrication or paint work will match up with the interior work. 

Use Quality Materials. Our #1 advice – DO NOT think you can save money on the materials that you bring to the shop on your own. More often than not, it will end up costing you more than you thought. Nobody will know better, on what kind of covering materials your car will need to make it look and work best, than the upholstery experts at the shop. If you decide to go with your own materials and something goes wrong, you’re on your own. 

From Ron at Goodguys Upholstery.. 

SHOPPING FOR A SHOP… Finding the right shop to do your interior work is important. “Experience is king,” Ron told us. “Look at the shop. Is it clean and organized with well-kept machinery? Also check out some of their previous work but pay close attention to the details and the final pieces that really stand out and make a difference. Get your agreement in writing. A firm price might not be possible but a “firm range” is always possible. 

If you belong to a car club and know some members who have had their cars worked on, they can be your best bet to get the initial information that you need. If there is someone in the club familiar with the process, and you are a beginner, then ask if he would go along with you. 

Choosing the material can be fun and a bit overwhelming. After looking through the 10th sample book your eyes might glaze over. You might get as much information as you can from the shop, then go home and study a bit. If you are reupholstering in leather, many times, there are sales where you can buy the three or four hides that you need for your project. Ask the shop for the hide dealer if you want to ask more questions. 

If it is cloth you are using, and you want to use the same as what came original to your car, then find the very best sample from your vehicle. 

Remember to ask for the left-overs. You have already paid for them. They can be valuable years later in making small repairs. 

What to watch for while your car is being worked on….Look for straight seams, and smooth lines on cushions, not puffy/uneven work. Don’t utilize an upholsterer who smokes unless you like the smell of smoke in your car….forever. 

Take photos of the pre-upholstery. It can help the upholsterer immensely while sending the message that you are a ‘detail person’. If you plan to do some of the dismantling, it is important the upholsterer sees your car beforehand, even if that means an extra trailer trip to his shop. Save all material that you take from your car so the shop has examples of stitch types and stich designs. 

And lastly……The shop has your car as collateral and will also most likely ask for an advance. All OK. But, be sure you have a fairly good sized “hold back”. It is surprising the misunderstandings that can happen during a project like this. 

1968 Ford Mustang Coupe

The Mustang was the right car at the right time

Hello fellow enthusiasts, 

I know what you’re thinking, oh great another story about a Mustang. A dime a dozen at the car show, just like a Model A or Camaro. We’ve seen them before and there’s nothing more to see and I suppose for some people that’s true, but we all have our preferences and interests. Which is why attending shows is so important, every car has a story behind it and every owner likes to share it. 

1968 ford mustang

Most of you grew up during the muscle car era of Detroit, so you recall seeing a Mustang on every street corner and parking lot, which is true. Over 1.9 million units were built between 1964 and 1968. With over 10 million built to date, you can’t deny the appeal of this American icon. The Mustang was the right car at the right time. Styling and performance that the baby boomers wanted. Gone are the huge land yachts, no more fins and massive chrome bumpers, the American car culture was changing. Everybody has a story about a Mustang whether they bought one new or had a family member that owned one. The automotive icon has touched the hearts and imagination of car enthusiasts nationwide since it’s inception. 

In March of 1985 I purchased this 1968 Mustang with 62,711 miles from the original owner in Essex. I was a senior in high school at the time and my friends were all driving VW Rabbits, Volare’s, and Delta 88’s. I remember looking at a 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88, baby blue, with a missing head, quite the car, but my dad talked me out of it in favor of the Mustang. I think it was largely because he owned a Mustang while in the service back in ‘67. Little did I know that this decision would lead to a lifetime hobby. I have the original build sheet from the car which was taped to the wiring harness under the dash. This is the birth certificate and lists all of the options that the assembly line workers would add to the vehicle as it rolled down the line. My Mustang was born with a black vinyl top, white wall tires, hub caps, am radio, 3 speed transmission, and a 200 cubic inch six cylinder engine. The color was Sunlite Gold. Pretty sparse on the option list, especially since Ford offered over 40 options for the consumer. 

dave stone

For the next year and a half, I used the Mustang back and forth to work and cruising around town, plus a few trips down to Saratoga for summer concert events with friends. Every Thursday night you could find me at Thunder Road watching the Lamells’ race their two Mustangs, they were one of the few who carried the blue oval. Like any teenage car guy you need to modify and make the car your own. One of the first things I did was purchase a set of gold nugget rims. I didn’t want to keep chasing down the hub caps, every time I spun the tires, managing only wheel hop. The fat tires put an end to this antic, the increased traction was dominate over the 110 horsepower. So it was off to the salvage yard with a friend and his station wagon to locate a 302 V8. We found one out of a van and loaded it in the back of his Volare and off we went. The engine needed a rebuild so I spent the next few years putting the engine together. I ported and polished the heads, installed a performance camshaft, plasma rings, high volume oil pump, Offenhauser intake with Edelbrock 4 barrel carb. I didn’t want to deal with headers so I located a set of 289 hipo exhaust manifolds. These manifolds bolt right up and provide unrestricted flow. I soon set off for college leaving the 302 in my bedroom, serving as my bedside stand for the next few years. 

Four more years would pass before the 302 found its new home. In 2000 the 302 was finally mated, to a toploader, 4 speed transmission. I removed the little engine that could, detailed the engine compartment and installed the V8. I had driven close to 50,000 miles with the six cylinder and three speed and now had mixed emotions about the swap. No longer a teenager, the rational side of me was coming out. Should I keep the car original? Well, the first turn of the key with the 302 quickly erased any of that nonsense. Just the sound of the dual exhaust made it all worth while. I enjoyed the new power and 4 speed, it was a new car for me. The feeling of wide open throttle in second gear is awesome, the little Mustang moves! The only down fall was the lack of overdrive, which many cars from the sixties needed. In 2006, I installed a Borg-Warner T-5 transmission out of a late model Mustang. The fifth gear was basically an overdrive and made driving the interstate comfortable. 

1968 ford mustang

Summer of 1986 I decided to replace the battery apron because of rust. I pulled off the fenders and front end sheet metal and soon realized that I was in over my head. I didn’t have a welder or the knowledge to tackle it. One of the good things about our hobby is the resources and experiences of fellow enthusiasts. A knowledgeable Mustanger provided me with the guidance and welding help that I needed. I made cardboard templates of the patch panels and had a local metal shop cut and bend them up for me. Back in 1986 there was a lack of reproduction sheet metal, not like today where everything is available. I ended up replacing the front frame rail, torque box and battery apron, this helped to restore the unibody strength. With the welding done and body panels back on, it was time for a new coat of enamel Sunlite Gold paint. The paint job came out ok for a teenager’ ability with no experience, plus it was painted in my parents garage. Enamel paint over spray everywhere! 

thunder road pit pass

Now fast forward to 1996, I had been driving the Mustang for another 20,000 miles, still with the 200 cubic inch. I had made many trips back and forth to college in southern New Hampshire plus Connecticut for work. The 302 still sat in the corner of my bedroom, but not for long. I located a V8 rear axle and front spindles to make a drivetrain upgrade. Ford had two different suspension set-ups for the Mustang, six cylinder cars had a four lug pattern with 9 inch drum brakes, whereas V8 setups had the traditional 5 lug pattern and 10 inch drum brakes. I was use to brake fade on hot summer days with the 9 inch brakes, an unsettling feeling in traffic and I don’t miss that at all. Another benefit to the V8 set up is the number of after market upgrades available. 

By now it’s been 25 years since the garage enamel paint job. It was dull, tired and worn out. I was in a parking lot one day just getting out of the car when I heard a couple talking about my Mustang. “Yeah, nice car but it needs a shine” I stepped back and looked at the old girl and concluded the same. Now 2011, I stripped off the Sunlite Gold enamel and started an exterior restoration replacing a door and rear quarter. It was repainted with a modern urethane metallic gold, from the 2009 Ford lineup. The color is a little more brighter than the original but it still pays homage to its roots. Hopefully this paint will be as durable as the enamel. 

1968 ford mustang coupe interior

My future plans for the Mustang include power disc brakes, I think it is a wise upgrade from the 10 inch drums. The Mustang will continue to be my daily summer driver in a world of throw away cars. I hope to accumulate many more miles and memories through out my travels. Just another Mustang, too many yes, but now you know how this little Stang is a part of my life. It’s not how much they are worth or how well they shine but the story behind the steering wheel. When you ask a long time owner about their vehicle it will always include memories. 

Drive on…..David Stone 

Time is Money

My Chrysler minivan got a little rusty over the winter. This vehicle is too old to be worth much, but still practical and useful. It is a great vehicle to make the weekly dump run, go to Home Depot and to run errands with. It is also fantastic in the snow with the all-wheel drive system. With these duties, and with two teenage boys in the house it makes sense to keep it, and I can’t justify replacing it.

The lift gate is really too rusty to feasibly repair. A new lift gate is unjustifiably expensive. At the salvage yard I was told a decent used lift gate would be $275, and unless I got lucky and found a silver one, I would still have to paint it.

I found a van with a totally rust free lift gate, but it had a large dent in it. I asked how much they wanted for this one and was given a price of $50.

I had to buy paint to fix the rocker panels, one quarter panel and the front fender anyway. With a couple hours of work, the dent was removed and the lift gate is ready for paint. A couple hours of work saved me over $200.

Above,

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.

1928 Hupmobile – Dave’s Garage

Dear Dave, I have a ’28 Hupmobile that is not coming out of it’s winter cocoon too well!

It has gas, I have spark, & I believe we’ve got air, but maybe you can help me figure out what I can do to make it run. I have charged the battery. When I depress the starter toe switch it engages the starter & occasionally it “catches” and runs and then sputters out. My Hup manual says to bring a car that’s sat idle for a while back to life, it is recommended to put 2 tablespoons of oil down each cylinder (take plug out, pour oil in, put plug back on), this will create vacuum so carb can suck gas from the vacuum system (which worked like a charm last year). And it worked ok for a little while this year, but after it burns out the oil, the car doesn’t stay running.

I tried spraying starter fluid down the throat of the carb….it worked for a little duration, but didn’t stay running. When I gave it more gas to get the idle up, it would sputter and die. I checked to see if we’re getting gas from the tank, I did this by disconnecting the hose that comes off the vacuum canister on the firewall. With the spigot open, we get plenty of gas out of the canister. I also unscrewed the strainer plug (this car has a Stromberg sf-2 carb) off the top of the carb to see if we had gas there, oh, we’ve got plenty of gas there…..Could it be the float is sticking or is stuck or is sunk in the carb?

So I’m at a loss. There seems to be a screw on the bottom of the carb….perhaps I can unscrew that to release all the gas in the carb & it will move the internal debris so the float might work better? Or should I just remove the whole carburetor and carefully take it apart, clean all the bits and pieces and reassemble it? Any insights would be helpful.

Respectfully, Chris Chartier

 

Chris,

It sounds like you have done enough trouble shooting to trace the problem to the carburetor. You are getting fuel, you are getting spark, and you have enough compression to start the engine.

It is very common for a carburetor to be gummed up after being in storage. You could also have a float issue. The float could either be sunken or stuck. The needle valve could also be sticking. The first thing I would check is the float level. You can easily tell if the float has a hole in it. It will not rise to the top of the float bowl, and when shaken you can hear and feel gas in it. If the float has a hole in it, you can also remove it and usually see gasoline weeping out of a crack or a hole. If you find a crack or a hole, and the float is brass, you can temporarily fix it with J.B Weld, or carefully solder it with a soldering iron to make it function until you get a new float.

If the needle valve is sticking, the float will float, but the needle valve will not shut off. This will cause the carb to flood out.

If everything checks out with the float and the needle valve, I would suspect the main jet next. If the jet has any gum, varnish or debris in it, it will not allow the fuel to atomize and the engine will not run. It is common to find small particles in the bottom of the float bowl, and often in the jet too. I would remove the jet and visually inspect it. Clean the jet and the bottom of the float bowl out really well with carburetor cleaner, then blow the jet out with compressed air.

You may need to obtain a gasket set or a carb rebuild kit to clean the carburetor and get it to function well again.


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

Spring Dust-Off Check – Dave’s Garage

Recently I hosted the New England M.G. “T” Register spring meet in Saratoga Springs New York. We had M.G. cars driving from all over the north east to the event. Three M.G.s broke down at the event, and our technical inspection found many serious safety problems needing immediate attention. One M.G. T.C. had a pinion failure in the rear axle. Another T.C. had a water pump failure. Two T.D.s had charging problems, resulting in flat batteries and dead cars. One T.D. had a broken trunion at the King pin in the front suspension. This could have broken causing the wheel to fall off. Several cars had bare, un-fused hot wires dangerously close to grounding and shorting out. Interestingly, these cars also lacked a battery cut off switch or fire extinguishers. Several cars had dried out gaskets causing gasoline leaks at the carburetors, right next to the hot exhaust manifolds. This made me realize the importance of a methodical inspection before taking an antique car on a several hundred mile trip, or out of the garage in the spring for another season of joy rides.

The first check, before starting the engine, is a brake and fluid check. This includes the differential, transmission, and engine oil, brake fluid and coolant. While under the hood check belts and hoses, and the water pump. Check radiator hoses for buldging and cracking.

A good inspection of the front suspension and steering components is also a good idea. This includes wheel bearings, tie rod ends, drag links, ball joints and steering joints. When were the wheel bearings last re-packed? When was the front end last greased? A check of the drive shaft, spring mounts and rear suspension is also a good idea. Check all brake hoses. How old is the brake fluid? If it is not silicon dot 5 fluid, less than three years old, or you don’t know, change it. Look at the tires for cracks in the tread and side walls, bulges in the side walls and the early signs of tread separation. Lastly, check the general wiring, battery, battery cables, and make sure the battery is securely anchored in the vehicle.

This check goes for trailers, too. Our portable lift blew a tire on the way home. When I inspected the trailer at the event, I questioned the integrity of the tires. One blew less than 24 hours later.

If you do drive on a long trip, ask your club members what spare parts to carry. Should you bring a set of plugs? Cap and rotor? Water pump? Fan belt? Voltage regulator? carb kit? Points and condenser? All handy things to have when you really need them.

Before driving the vehicle, always give the brake pedal a good stomp to ensure the brakes are functional. A half hour spent checking out the car would well avoid the unpleasant cell phone call from the side of a hot road, and the hassle of a 200 mile flat bed towing.


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

1954 Dodge Power Wagon

1954 Dodge Power WagonIn the fall of 2006 I acquired a 1954 Dodge Power Wagon truck while out driving the back roads of Vermont, route 109 to be exact. A rusty old truck next to the road caught my eye. The owner happened to be mowing his lawn so I stopped . I must have been blinded by the Rust Flu for I could not see how much work this truck really needed. I seemed to miss the broken frame and the fact that two cylinder walls were cracked. The head to the 230 ci motor was resting on the front seat. Someone had cut the last two inches off the bed with a torch. Inhabitants plagued the cab like a condo running amuck, five mouse nests, two bees nest and a dead snake, biohazard site for sure. The nests rotted out the wiper cowl area and lower doors. This old wood truck had its share of running into objects, bed sides bowed out no doubt from being overloaded. Previous owners must have been amateurs at throwing wood and used the back of the cab as a backboard. The Rust Flu was hard at work, swaying any rational thought, letting passion and desire overrun common sense. Gazing googly eyed into pitted headlight buckets. Trying to justify the legitimacy of restoration or delegate the vehicle to mere parts car status.

Why a Power Wagon? Just a work truck, a tractor with a cab, born out of the World War II WC trucks. My interest in vehicles isn’t just the flow of the lines, blending of panels, 50 shades of gray, horsepower, and chrome bumpers, its the history of the vehicle, stories, development and researching parts manuals and shop manuals. This truck was legendary for its toughness and durability like the men who used it. From combat to farms both environments demanding, it answered the call. Restoration started with disassembly, the endless labeling & bagging. The parts list continued to grow. While tracking down parts, I met some great people and contacts, this is the other joy of our hobby. The down side is the endless sandblasting and expense. Many restorations fail at this point and keeping the spark and drive alive can be tough. I stayed involved by attending rallies and online forums, gaining knowledge I needed for the restoration. Each vehicle has its unique quirks, you know what I mean. Before the Shelburne show I had only driven a Power Wagon once before, an M37 military equivalent, it had a synchromesh transmission and mine doesn’t. It left an impression of crude but purpose built machine, rugged and overbuilt. I was hooked. Hooked enough to endure 10 years worth of, on and off again restoration effort. I kept pecking away at it. Locating a good frame, salvageable block and a lot of bed pieces. A tough process for a vehicle that the aftermarket reproduction companies tend to ignore because there isn’t a healthy profit in it. I was use to Mustangs, parts available anytime, anywhere and reasonably priced,…. Down to every nut and bolt. I found Power Wagons have a true and devoted following. Make a few connections and used parts and advice can be found. So I set monthly goals, little tasks and kept working at it. March of 2015 I had the bed done, April wiring and May the brakes. The Shelburne Show was the maiden voyage with the truck, still not complete, but I attained the goal. I do all my own work except for a few select things, I’ll be the first to admit “jack of all trades master of none”. It’s a battle when everything is twice as heavy and damaged. The old truck was well received and many nice comments. People stopped to tell stories of their Dodge experiences. Timber handlers, farmers, uncles, dads and Veterans all had something to say about a Power Wagon, invoking memories of the past. Listening to the stories only added to the event. Now, if I could only manage more than 35 mph, or as I like to say” I can go anywhere in the world at 30MPH……… VIVA LA POWERWAGON…

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

 

Cabin Air Filter – Dave’s Garage

Most cars sold today have a cabin air filter, usually located behind the glovebox in the dashboard. This will filter dust, pollen and dirt entering the Heating, Air Conditioning and Ventilation System.

cabin air filterI recently noticed the airflow on my Subaru’s heater was weak on one of the many below zero mornings. I remembered this car had a cabin air filter, and I know I have never replaced it. The owners manual states the filter should be replaced annually, or every 15 thousand miles, depending on the conditions the car is driven in. This car has 230,000 miles on it, and this was the factory cabin filter, I had never changed it. I live on a very dusty dirt road, so I should theoretically be changing the filter more often.

The filter was inexpensive enough, and in stock at my local friendly auto parts store. When I took the old filter out, I was not surprised to find the filter was quite dirty. I was surprised to find a great deal of dirt and pine needles sandwiched between the A/C evaporator and the filter. I pulled out about a cup of dirt, and a handful of pine needles.

I used a vacuum cleaner to vacuum out the HVAC box, and a paint brush to get all the dirt off the A/C evaporator. I turned the heater fan on high to blow out any remaining dust, dirt and debris.

I was very impressed with the improvement in the airflow with the new filter. The volume of air going through the cars vents was noticeably higher.

The heater works much better now.

Cabin air filters in cars are a relatively new phenomenon. As cars have become more and more maintenance free, it is a bit unusual to have something new to remember to maintain. If the new filter does not include a sticker to log the date and the mileage of the replacement, it is a good idea to log this information on a piece of masking tape and place it somewhere on the car as a maintenance reminder.


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