I have never not known a car enthusiast pass by an old barn, or even a collapsing old barn, and ask themselves “What old car or car parts are hiding in there?”.
My big break came for me this summer after day dreaming what buried treasures are waiting for daylight in this big barn down the road from where I live. I had watched a huge wagon beside the barn disintegrate before my eyes, trees collapse on an old van, and a farm tractor sink into the earth. The day came when I was driving by and saw a door open to the barn and an elderly man dragging some old wood boards outside. I seized the opportunity and introduced myself to him and asked if there were any old car parts inside. I waited with bated breath and “Yes” he said, “but you can not see it!”. “Why not?” “ Just look in the barn” he said. So I did. I thought the term hoarder was the name of a tv show, and here it is in real life. My eyes beheld boards of all shapes and sizes, tables, chairs, books, ancient televisions, refrigerators, and stoves. I asked him “There are car parts in there??!!!”
The old gent told me that, somewhere in there was a 1930 Model A doodle bug that was put there 30 years earlier.
The gentleman was an actor and his life has been spent in a Portland, (ME) theater. When the theater burned down, many years earlier, he had asked if he could salvage the items that remained. The barn contained all that he had rescued and now he had the task of cleaning it out, because it had been sold.
He was so sentimental about the theater, that he had rented storage units and planned to move the barn contents into the units. I offered to help in exchange for the Model A and he agreed.
After a lot of work we uncovered the doodle bug. There it stood gleaming like the Holy Grail, flat tires, broken steering wheel, and broken head lights. It was love at first sight.
The ultimate challenge was how to get the thing out of the barn. He had built walls around it to hold all of his junk!
The day came when a friend, the gent, and I began the job of getting the doodle bug out of the barn. The tires held air, we got the transmission free, and the brakes were not frozen. So far, so good until I pushed from behind the bug.
The ground caved in under my feet, the back wheels began to settle into the cavern. I found my self standing in two feet of porcupine crap! I knew that they would destroy wood, but tunnel? This was a new experience for the three of us.
We tried to moved the truck again and the front wheels joined the rear wheels sinking into the porcupine tunnels and poop. Using jacks, old boards, and big crow bar, we finally had the vehicle outside for its first day-light in 30 years.
We had gone through a dozen or so face masks, a container of hand sanitizer and two 6 packs of beer.
Local people who had heard of the barn commotion, came by just as we pushed the buried “Treasure of Buxton”, on my car trailer. They looked inside the barn with a disappointment. They too, had wondered about the mysteries of the old barn and found only porcupine poop, the junk and this old “jitterbug” (the local term for a doodle bug). I was not allowed in the house until I showered with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. I even had to burn the clothes I was wearing!
Several local people came by my home to stare at the golden radiance of the truck. One comment…..“I always wanted to know what was in that barn?” The look of disappointment and disbelief was amazing, as they left shaking their heads. I was thinking of charging people to gaze upon the “Treasure of Buxton” to recoup my efforts.
The “ Treasure of Buxton” is sleeping, awaiting Spring to start its engine.
Hope you enjoyed your vacation? Did you go anywhere fun? Did you find anything that interested you, or your family?
Hey, I need some help, please? I just bought a low profile “sliding” battery disconnect, which will mount to the negative terminal of my antique car’s battery (6v). It seems apparent to me that when the switch is “open” (slide not making contact with the receptor) the battery will be disconnected from the circuit and the car will not start…which is great! Obviously, when the switch “closes” the circuit, juice will again flow, and the car will be able to start – Great!
My question is what about when I “trickle charge” my battery between tours, or while in semi active storage…Is the circuit to be closed with slide making contact? or open & slide making no contact?
Thanks, I wanna avoid fires, problems, while still ensuring that the battery is fully charged. Maybe its easier and safer to remove the disconnect apparatus entirely, and then charge the battery as normal?
Chris Chartier, Ascutney, VT
Chris, good questions! A battery disconnect is a great idea. Many older cars have wiring that is not fused. This, coupled with old lacquer braided wiring is a recipe for disaster.
Cars should have the battery disconnected when in storage, for safety. There are many battery disconnect switches. I have seen many of the cheaper ones fail. Ideally you want to be able to disconnect the battery from the drivers seat, in the event of a short while driving.
With conventional lead acid batteries it is a great idea to have the battery hooked up to a battery tender while the vehicle is in storage. Conventional batteries lose about 1-2% of their charge every day.
If the battery is a gel cell or AGM battery, the best thing to do is leave the battery disconnected. These batteries lose a minimal amount of power while in storage.
Broken windshields are not fun. Left unrepaired, chips easily, turn in to cracks, which requires windshield replacement. Windshields for older cars are becoming harder to find. Modern windshields are glued in place, requiring professional installation.
Windshield chips can often be easily repaired at glass shops. Some insurance companies will cover 100% of the repair. Insurance companies consider a windshield chip repair as a claim and may use this as a justification to increase your rates, just ask me how I know this.
Recently I tried my luck at do-it-yourself windshield repair. The results were very good. I had 7 chips in my Saab windshield and two on my Subaru. Having these fixed at a glass shop would have been expensive. I tried a $10.45 “Rain-X” windshield repair kit from Amazon.
The kit came with a surprisingly high-quality suction cup, mounted resin injection tool, very clear instructions, a bottle of repair resin and a good supply of materials to make the repairs.
The tool mounts to the glass with four suction cups, and the directions were very clear and helpful. The resin is activated with sunlight. I highly recommend doing this repair on a dry, sunny day. The repair cannot be done in direct sunlight.
The instructions recommend the actual repair be made in the shade, then placed in direct sunlight to cure. The repair only needs about ten minutes of sunlight to cure. I found doing the actual repair in the garage, then moving the vehicle in to the direct sunlight worked well. I did my repairs in the afternoon and was able to move the car to directly face the sunlight.
So, how did it work? Surprisingly well. The repairs were at least as good as professional repairs I have had done. Some of the chips virtually disappeared. It was very hard to see them after the repair. Some of the larger chip repairs were still visible, but much less noticeable.
Absent any questions this month, I will share a story about how costly it can be to ignore warning signs and delay needed maintenance.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
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
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
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