15 August, 2013

I could enjoy many an afternoon in this wonderful place

It's been a busy last couple of weeks working on this car, so I'm happy to report that the little Maxwell is closer than it's ever been to starting.

When we last spoke, I had just rebuilt the oil pump and reattached it to a freshly-lubed engine.  The firewall was off the car for the first time in my life, as was the cowl.  Best of all, I had done a ton of research online and through talking with a couple of fellow Maxwell owners, thus filling in a spreadsheet I have created to address the lingering questions I have about the car.  At some point I'll plug all that information in here.

Anyway, the car has been cooperating relatively well after that steering mechanism quagmire.  I found plenty of bolts to match the ones missing from the top plates on the gearbox and crank case, and I've now smoothed and primed the entire engine.  This required special engine primer (that can withstand heat up to 500F) and the taping off of the bare areas on the crank case.  What's left is now a wonderfully homogeneous engine color (for the first time in at least half a century), and it's started to show me how brilliant the power plant will look when it's painted.

From the right side, cylinders 3 and 4 are primed.
Speaking of which, that's another thing I learned.  Contrary to the paint that currently adorns the T-heads, the color of the Maxwell Q3 engine was black.  This means the primer caps and the spark plug caps will stand out even more when they're re-brassed.  This also means choosing the spark plug wires themselves will be even more important---a decision with which I'm still wrestling as I type.  As of tonight, I'm between the classic "oak" lacquered finish with black and red dual tracers or the yellow with black and red tracers.

The hoses also need to be correct, and I feel like I shouldn't order the spark plug wires until I know what color the hoses will be (heaven forbid their colors clash).  My father believes some of the brass cars had black or even red hoses, but he's not sure; thus, I will have to investigate further.

Once I get the type of hoses and color of plug wires down, I'll measure out the lengths needed to get to the cylinders, plus a couple of other wires to go back and forth between the mag and the coil, the battery and the coil switch, and the coil and the coil switch.
On one of the engine mounts, I found original blue paint and
some red that apparently adorned the car after a re-spray.

Thankfully any modern 6-volt coil or battery one can buy today is much better than the kinds that were available in 1910, so then the issue is disguising them to look period.  Supposedly an empty can of Metamucil is the exact size of the old coil, so the modern coil can be hidden inside of it and mounted on the bracket (I just need to figure out where the bracket mounts).  The battery sits directly under the front passenger seat, I'd say.

A major issue I have is the absence of a Splitdorf coil switch.  This was the 1910 version of an ignition in a modern car.  One would keep the switch in the "Off" position until it was ready to start, then the switch would be moved to the "Battery" position.  Once the car was cranked and running, the switch would be moved to "Magneto" since the mag is powerful enough to keep the spark going, whereas it's not strong enough to start the car.

I have a strong suspicion I can fashion a coil switch that would work, but I'm not sure how to do that (and it would probably take a bit more electrical knowledge than what I currently have).  Ideally I want to get the correct Splitdorf one, but I know that's a slim chance.  In its stead I just want to get one that looks correct or is of a similar vintage.

Speaking of fashioning things, I talked to the head of the Maxwell Registry, Vern Campbell, and he's sending me pictures of his 1910 Q2's oil tank.  Mine is missing, but I believe it's something I'll be able to make at some point (or have it made).  It's a little rectangular tank that sits on the engine side of the firewall.  Rectangular at the top, the bottom comes to a point where a shutoff valve sends oil to the pump and then to the drip gauge on the dash.  It's painted black, and on the other side of the firewall, a brass and glass sight gauge shows the driver and passengers the oil level in the tank (the capacity of which is just two quarts).

While I can make the tank, the brass sight gauge will be a bit more tricky.  It wouldn't be impossible for me to make this, though, but it wouldn't be easy.  We'll see.

I also spoke to the only other person in the world (who I can successfully contact) who has a 1910 Q3 like mine.  Howard is a jovial man who was working in his garage when I called him.  He doesn't seem to do email, so he's going to take some pictures of his car for me and send them by mail.  I asked for him to take some pictures of the rear body/doors, and I think some of the engine, too.  Either way, anything he sends will provide a wealth of information that I currently don't have.  I never would have imagined seeing pictures of a car exactly like mine someday, so that will be thrilling.

Both heads and side panel painted, this time from the left side.
I finished making some new linkages for the brakes and clutch, and now those are on the car.  I continued smoothing and priming the frame, and I also WD-40'ed the heck out of the tube that runs across the frame to move the internal and external brakes.  I asked Campbell how he got his loosened up, and he chuckled, noting that was literally the only part of his car that he did not disassemble during restoration.  He did what I have done by spraying it and moving it around, and that loosened up the brakes.

Sadly, talking to Howard, it appears I'm missing the interior brake shoes to the car.  I thought I just had that diamond-shaped parking brake, but he tells me there should be a second set of shoes inside the drum (almost mimicking disc brakes).  I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Here's a busy shot from the rear of the car with the newer body sitting to the left.
Today was also an interesting story.  Yesterday I had taken the existing body off the car (the new steel lower body that someone had started to make on the rear) and made measurements for the front part of the lower body.  Despite the rear end flaring outward, which would have been extremely difficult to make, the front half is straight and vertical, with the transition taking place where the body is its thinnest---in the three inches under the rear door frame.  This leads me to believe that I can make that front half, since we have some rusted remains of the original at the back of The Garage.

I scribbled down some drawings with measurements galore, and in the end I was convinced I could fabricate a body.  My father, who has dealt with metal for the better part of 40 years, figured that the original bodies used on Maxwells were around 20-gauge steel, but the newer one that sat on the back of our car was 18-gauge.  For strength's sake, I decided to go with 18-gauge for my lower body.

Armed with my drawings, my father and I headed out to the local scrapyard this afternoon for what he intended to be a reconnaissance mission.  The heaps of rusted treasures that greeted us were enough to pique my interest to the point that I could enjoy many an afternoon in this wonderful place.  It also tells me that we're going to need the truck to get this stuff home.

When we found that they had suitable metal, most likely from coil ends, the gentleman offered to cut it to size for us with a plasma torch.  I figured this would be much quicker than the Dremel tool I planned to use, so we agreed, but we needed to go home and get Black Beauty first.

(If you don't remember, my mother has been wanting a vintage truck for years, merely for the purpose of "hauling stuff."  My father found a monstrous 1979 Ford pickup in a nearby town for a few hundred dollars, so we got it.  The truck, which has a massive engine, a lift kit and mudding tires, is affectionately called Black Beauty, due to its eggshell black finish [which included a green tailgate, a Lariat door on a non-Lariat truck and diamond plate running boards].)

After a few cranks, the old truck roared to life, presumably burning a gallon of gas in the process.  Lumbering and rocking its way down the road, we made it back to the scrap yard 15 minutes later.  Despite my father's concerns that she may not start when we went to leave, we headed back into the building to get the metal.

Here's the fellow using the plasma torch to cut the new panels.
The gentleman who would go on to help us stood by a large saw, cutting some angle irons for another man who was making some targets for a shooting range.  We talked about the Maxwell, and he relayed the fantastic story of the "Field of Dreams" in Pierce, Nebraska, where loads of new Chevrolets were left in a field in the 1960s.

While we conversed, the man helping him came back into the room.

"Is that your Ford out there?" he asked us.

"The black one?  Yes, that's ours."

"Nice truck!  Is that a '70 or a '71?  Those custom taillights were only made for those years."

"It's a 1979, but it's a patchwork of several trucks," I laughed.

He went on to tell us how his brother had a truck just like that years ago, and how it was a wonderful machine.  Black Beauty had an admirer.

The gentleman cut our panels to my specifications, and in the end we had spent just $20 for sheet metal that I intend to turn into a Maxwell body.  Despite the fact that I've never done sheet metal work, this one should be interesting.
And here's the finished product.  I can't wait to start fabricating!

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