18 June, 2009

Where was Lou Christie?

One of the most fantastic lightning storms I've seen in a long time prevented me from getting on last night to give the updates that I had talked about. Avoiding idleness, I decided to get the Rebel out and take some pictures of the lightning---I'll try to have those posted today. A couple of close strikes as I drove down the interstate last night proved how very active that storm was, and there are a few videos on Facebook of the lightning as well. Pretty cool stuff.

I plan on going to the garage today and seeing what I can get done. I'll try to sand a little on the Corvette's hard top, then see if I can do anymore on the axle bolts on the Maxwell. Regarding the Vette, the hard top is the one from my father's first '61 that he owned when he was young. Over time the plexiglass in the back has become quite opaque and stained from various chemicals and paints. My dad then discovered a system of sanding (called Micro Mesh) with increasing grit until a paste is applied to the glass that makes it clear again. Currently I've progressed through five or six grits and am up to 3200, but I have quite a ways to go before I get to the final 16,000. It is a great deal of work, but for some elbow grease and $25, it's quite preferable to spending $300 for a new rear window and $75 for each of the small side windows.

Regarding the Maxwell, I said two days ago that I would give an update regarding what all I've done to the car, so I figure now is as good a time as any.

After my friend and I positioned it at the front of the garage a few years ago, my dad and I pulled the car to the back where it's been every since. In that time our first task was to take the fenders off. Through a contact I made back when I was in high school, we sent the front fenders from our car and identical rear fenders from another (less rusty) car to a man who runs an antique machine shop in Indiana. Using machines that are over 100 years old, the gentleman has done a fantastic job of crafting these unusually difficult fenders (which are almost done). Ideally they'll be back to us in a couple of months, in which case we'll try to fit them to the car (just to make sure they're correct), then I'll prime them and store them away. That way they'll be clean and fresh for when we are quite a ways down the road (no pun intended).

Aside from scrubbing rust off of the frame and body panels, I've also polished the brass pieces (and there are quite a few) and placed them in storage out of the elements. After countless hours of research and contacting as many people as I can, I've gotten a much better idea about what kind of car this is, too, and I must say that I don't think there's a classier brass era car like this one anywhere. This car will be gorgeous, and I can't wait to make some headway and see that beauty emerge.

Before the beauty can come, though, there are much more important things on which to focus than cosmetics. My plan is to start at the back of the car and work my way forward, focusing mainly on mechanical aspects of the machine. After all, what good is a beautiful car if it doesn't work? So to start, I've begun removing the rust-covered bolts that hold the rear axle to the frame. This hasn't been easy, as I've already broken one bolt, but I have five of the remaining seven loosened. Even that task is kind of interesting since I doubt these crucial bolts have ever been removed in the car's 99 years of existance. Once I get them out, though, I'll take the axle out from under the car and open it up to make sure that there are no metal shavings or locked pieces inside. Hopefully this outcome will be favorable, as turning the propshaft makes the right rear tire turn quite freely (and vice versa). Still, it's better to be safe than sorry, so I'll proceed with the opening.

Another thing I did a couple of days ago was take off the top plate of the transmission (seen in the picture at left. It's the plate that has the circular plate attached to it). It's something that I've never done before, so I had no idea what the inside would look like. Thankfully, though, the cover came off without a hitch and the gears inside look to be in good shape. It looked like one of the dogs (or perhaps the only dog) is frozen in place, but then again I don't think all the linkages are hooked up outside the car, so it's tough to tell. Turning the transmission end of the driveshaft, though, encouraged two of the gears to move as freely as can be, so that's a very good sign (I hope). I'll pour some oil over the gears to make sure they're semi-protected from rust and that they'll stay free, then I'll have to scrub them to take the rust that's on them off. Replacing the plate, I made sure all bolt holes were either occupied or covered.

From there, I took a small viewing plate off of the back of the engine/transmission (seen to the front of the car from the circular viewing port) so that I could see what I think is the crankshaft. It looked quite shiny and completely rust free, and what's more is that there are a few inches of oil sitting at the bottom of the crank case---the same oil that my late grandfather put in the engine with valuable foresight back in the 1960s. It may not sound like that big a deal, but seeing that made me smile.

I've made this post long enough for now, I'd say, so I'll continue with the efforts that have been done so far in another post. As for tonight, I'll head to the parade and see a couple of friends of mine about trying out a dirt kart (something I've never done before---normally I've only raced asphalt). That should be fun, and this afternoon I'll probably try to golf before it gets very warm. I would have gone this morning, but looming storms made me think otherwise.

Anywho, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more in the future!

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