’34 Ford Coupe: Brakes, Fuel Lines and more

16 Apr

Bill 3:4 View

Details, details. Progress continues on Bill Evan’s coupe, lately we’ve been going through work that came to us completed, but needed additional attention. The rear end is in the car, but had no venting. Gary machined a fitting and added a vent line. There was also a bit of slop in the front end. We thought it might be in the steering rack, but after investigation it turned out to be in one of the A-Arm’s spherical bearings. Gary machined an adjustment tool and corrected the problem.
Bill Post 11_15Bill Post 11_14

We next moved onto the brakes. Installed and supposedly operable, they’d been sitting awhile so we pulled ‘em apart for a check. Good thing we did. The master cylinders were a mess. Whatever brake fluid was used appears to have accumulated moisture, then leaked and coagulated over time. It also etched the walls of the cylinders. We were able to clean up the mount and linkage, but couldn’t save the master cylinders. Fortunately replacements were available.
Bill Post 11_1Bill Post 11_2

After encountering a series of cracked flairs we pulled all the brake lines and discovered they’d been incorrectly flaired for the AN fittings used. Some of the lines could be saved, others had to be made up new. The thru-frame unions at the front calipers were also incorrect and not seating against their crush washers. We replaced them, then added residual valves front and rear.
Bill Post 11_3

Both the Retro-Tek push-button shifter and the Howell engine control module require a signal from the brake light switch. Nothing’s simple of course, one needs an open signal, the other a closed. Gary made a mount for a set of tandem Mil-Spec microswitches — one Normally Open, the second Normally Closed – that we mounted and wired.
Bill Post 11_5Bill Post 11_6

The installation of the push-button shifter eliminated the factory Park/Neutral safety switch so we mounted a third microswitch at the shift arm to ensure the car only starts in Park.
Bill Post 11_7

We also re-plumbed the fuel delivery and return lines. In order to fire the motor and get the car over to our shop, it had been set up with temporary fuel hoses. We replaced them with hard lines. We also moved the fuel filter further up the chassis, away from the exhaust — and fabbed a new bracket to better accommodate the fuel lines and battery cables that run past it.
Bill Post 11_8Bill Post 11_9

These cables had been temporarily mounted with snap ties, Gary machined new Delrin clamps.
Bill Post 11_10

Gary also whittled up a manifold that connects the hard lines that run under the car to the in and out hoses to the intake.
Bill Post 11_11Bill Post 11_12Bill Post 11_13

We’ve also completed the installation of the interior insulation, completed the wiring of the engine, and we’re replacing the trans cooler hoses with hard lines, all in anticipation of firing the engine. We’ll keep you posted.

1941 Ford Pickup: Wiring and More

8 Apr


Our good friend Marc Kaplan has three pick-ups underway. They’re all totally different and all totally bitchen — but I’m not sure whether to envy him or write him off as certifiably nuts. To take some of the load off his plate, he decided to bring his ’41 Ford into us for wiring.

It’s a cool truck, and well on its way to completion. The paint, a darkened shade of Ford’s Cloud Mist Grey, is brand new and beautiful — but would present a challenge on a number of levels. It would have to be protected, and it would keep us from welding or mounting anything to the firewall. For this reason we opted to mount the fuse panel and accompanying relays and electrical components under the seat. We began by drawing up a wiring diagram specifically for the project.

Because the panel would be under the seat, the routing of wires to and from the dash and out to the various circuits would be a little more complicated — so we also put together a porting plan. All the routing, conduit, grommets, etc were sorted out and sized before we drilled anywhere in the freshly painted body.

Before we could begin wiring up under the dash, a couple of other details had to be completed. First, the firewall and kick panel insulation had to be fit and installed and the throttle pedal mounted. Marc had begun installation of the wipers which we completed – and confirmed would not interfere with the cowl vent mechanism. We cleaned up the vent hardware and began installation, only to discover the painter, for whatever reason, had laid down a quarter inch of filler in the cowl vent channel. By carefully removing material from the gasket, we were able to get the vent door to both seal and to sit flush with the body when closed.

Marc also wanted a heater and defroster. The original defrost manifolds, which are specific to the ’41 pick-up, were long gone — and are not repopped. We fabbed up a couple of adaptors – which will be hidden by the windshield garnish.

The area under the seat was insulated, and a panel fabbed to mount the electrical. The face of the seat riser became home for the battery kill switch and a power port for Marc’s cell phone.

How much easier it would’ve been if ’41 dashboards came out of the cab. They don’t, they’re welded in place. If the glass had been in, this job would’ve really been a ball buster. Just a head’s up for truck builders…

Marc found an early-60’s Ford truck column with cancelling turn signals and adapted it to the ’41. It looks factory; I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of these columns in traditionally styled builds. He used a neutral safety switch from Limeworks that hides down at the base of the column. Check the restored/updated dash panel from gauge-guru Lee Kelly.

All done, loaded up, and ready to go home to Marc’s shop. The vintage plaid seat cover material is a swap meet score that looks right at home.

2014 Grand National Roadster Show

27 Jan

This year’s GNRS was once again blessed with T-shirt weather. While awesome for a car show in January, it’s a forewarning of the water rationing California is inevitably due to face this summer. Up in the Bay Area we just closed the books on our driest calendar year on record, we’re now coming to the end of our first January ever with no measurable rain.

The drought has been especially hard on the Central Valley; it’s turned their fertile topsoil into bone dust. Driving south to the show on Interstate 5 I was caught in a massive dust storm and had to pull off the highway – way off – a number of times when I couldn’t see past my windshield wipers. The white-out conditions, combined with the reek of the massive Harris Ranch feedlot, had me imagining myself trapped in a blind, smelly hundred car pile-up.

While not exactly stinky, the eight-car line-up for this year’s America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy was, by general consensus, underwhelming. Bill Grant’s Deuce roadster was pretty neat. A real Henry car, it featured a 265 small block, a ’40 trans and a ’32 banjo. Lots of chrome with a bit of a kustom vibe, it could’ve driven straight out of the late 1950’s.
2014 GNRS_01

The grille shell on this Deuce has been shortened, narrowed and dropped; a shitload of work that IMHO only resulted in the loss of the graceful proportions of a hot rod icon.
2014 GNRS_02

Paul Gommi’s phaeton has been around awhile, he added fenders for the show. The car features a perfectly chopped top and more bolt-on accessories than an ELA low rider. I was told that a car designer once commented that Paul must’ve rolled through a Pep Boys with a giant magnet. Paul responded with display cards justifying every part and piece on the car. These cards, a veritable history of early accessories and speed equipment, continued all around his display.
2014 GNRS_032014 GNRS_04

Wes Rydell’s ’35 Chevy phaeton took home the Big Trophy.
2014 GNRS_05IMHO the nicest roadster in Building 4 wasn’t even an AMBR contender, it was a flathead-powered Deuce in Roy Brizio’s booth. In fact the owner wasn’t even interested in showing the car, Roy brought it down to Pomona on his own nickel. It was one of nine cars in the Brizio display, including a beautiful Ardun-equipped three window.
2014 GNRS_062014 GNRS_07



Continue reading 

’34 Ford Coupe Part X: More Details

12 Dec

We continue to thrash on Bill Evans’ coupe. If you’ve been following the build you know that virtually everything on the car is scratch-built. A number of talented fabricators have been involved in the project over the years, but occasionally we come across a detail that wasn’t thoroughly sorted. The engine cover’s an example. It didn’t bolt up square, plus it had a bit of a twist to it. Here we’ve begun to build up one side to visually flatten it out:
Engine Cover Kink

It was also too shallow to effectively enclose the pulleys. We likened it to a gal with a really short skirt – and really ugly knees. Here Gary has added material and has begun lowering her hem:
Engine Cover 1Engine Cover SkirtEngine Cover Mounted

After the cover was installed we mounted the radiator recovery tank, and discovered the hood wouldn’t quite close over it. A quick section and a notch job and it was good to go.
Puke Tank

You’ve seen photos of the rear bulkhead and relays, computers and electrical components mounted on it. Note also that it’s right above the gas tank. We wanted to install a firewall between the two, so Gary fabbed up some double-duty Dzus brackets that locate both the new firewall and the trunk interior tin.
Bulkhead before firewallFirewall MountsTank FirewallTrunk Tin


Continue reading 

Up for Auction: The Dick Flint Roadster

21 Oct

Last month’s Spokes & Solids run included a visit to Don Orosco’s Monterey Speed & Sport, home of one of the most celebrated hot rods ever, the Dick Flint Roadster. By serendipity, we may have been the last group of homegrown hot rodders to get up close to it. In November the little red Model A will be crossing the block at an auction to be held in that notorious bad boy barrio: New York City’s Upper Eastside. Hopefully the car won’t disappear into some mega-collector’s underground bunker somewhere; or worse, roll into a shipping container and vanish overseas.


Flint’s roadster appeared on multiple 1950’s magazine covers, ran at El Mirage, and after a no-holds-barred restoration by Olle Eriksson and Jesse Cruz at Orosco’s shop, won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

A WWII Navy veteran and member of the Glendale Sidewinders, Flint returned after the war and went to work at Alex Xydias’s So-Cal Speed Shop. He soon began assembling the parts and pieces for a hot rod he’d been building in his imagination throughout the long war years. He started by buying three junk Model A roadster bodies. From these he assembled one good one, channeled it over a Z’d frame, and took it to Neil Emory at Valley Custom in Burbank where together they worked out plans for the build. The body was shaved, the seams filled, the quarters smoothed, and the signature track roadster nose, grille and nerf bars were fabricated. Later, Dean Batchelor fit a full, five-piece bellypan.


Flint assembled a robust 286 inch ‘40 Mercury flathead for the car. It ran a Winfield Super 1A cam, Johnson lifters, a Fleischmann ignition, block-letter Edelbrock heads, and three 97s on an Edelbrock manifold — all backed by a ’39 box with Zephyr gears. At El Mirage, in the summer of 1950, Flint was clocked at 143.54 MPH.

The car went through a number of hands over the years before winding up at Don Orsco’s. Flint sold the car in 1961 for $2500. The folks at RM/Sotheby’s set a pre-auction estimate at $700,000 to $900,000. Not bad for an old Ford hot rod. You can find a comprehensive history in the summer 2001 issue of The Rodder’s Journal. The photos here were poached from a cool little website for fans of traditional cars called Hot Rod Disorder.


2013 Spokes & Solids

18 Oct

A couple of years ago local builder Clay Slaughter decided to celebrate his birthday … big time. He and buddy Tim Edwards put together a reliability run, then capped it off with a barbecue, live music, and a body drop. They called the event Spokes & Solids, you can see photos of the cars and party here.

Fast forward a couple of years and Spokes & Solids has evolved into an event we look forward to. This year’s running started out grey, but the chill and a threat of afternoon rain didn’t dampen the turnout. Clay used the day to debut his own recently-completed roadster:
Clay's Rdstr_1

Sid McCormick bought the used flatty out of Carl Bigg’s ’42 Merc woodie, patched it up, and dropped it into his primered ’29. That’s Tony Vida’s red Deuce just behind it:


Pachi Bengochea brought his slippery little ’29 all the way over from Winnemucca. It’s a long haul, but he’s done it more than once.
Pachi Rdstr


Continue reading 

’34 Ford Coupe Part IX: Details, Details

7 Oct

Bill Evan’s ’34 coupe spent time in a number of shops before finding its way to Seabright. A car that’s passed through several hands presents a number of challenges, especially one like Bill’s. As you know from our previous posts, virtually everything on this car is handmade. From its hybrid tube chassis and front suspension to its highly modified body, aluminum interior and complex electronics, everything’s been designed and built from scratch.

As the car evolved, it became clear some of the early solutions weren’t going to work. To be fair, some never had the opportunity to be road-tested. Others were just bad ideas from the start.

When the coupe came to Seabright, the Vintage Air AC/Heater unit had been mounted in the trunk, on top of the gas tank. This presented numerous plumbing, ducting and air quality complications, none of which had been sorted out. We decided, as outlined in an earlier post, to move the AC unit to the firewall. Gary had this in mind when he originally built the dash/console, so, after a bit of modification, we made the move and completed the plumbing.
Bill 10.7.13_1Bill 10.7.13_2

Besides solving a variety of problems, this move liberated a good deal of space in the trunk, space we’d soon begin filling with the coupe’s elaborate electronics.
Bill 10.7.13_3

As we prepped the interior for detail paint and sound deadening it seemed like a good time to also complete the ducting for the AC/Heater. The unit provides a defroster outlet, all we had to do was get the hot air to the windshield.

Gary began by building a plenum; he then cut out a section of the dash top into which this plenum would be mounted.
Bill 10.7.13_4Bill 10.7.13_5Bill 10.7.13_6

We kicked around the idea of a bezel for the vent opening, but considering the limited height of the chopped windshield and the aesthetics of the dash itself, any kind of raised trim would stick up in Bill’s forward view like a pimple. A simple slot would be much more appropriate. Continue reading 

Hot Cars and Guitars — 2013

3 Oct

Mike Dwight is a friend of ours from the Hollister area (Gary built a set of stainless metal-finished headers for Mike’s Roadster last winter). Mike has a long, colorful history as a custom painter in the area and his handiwork on hot rods, choppers, race cars and boats goes all the way back to the wild-eyed graphics of the 70’s.

Mike’s son Shane, a roots rockin’ guitar player and songwriter, is also a very talented guy. Based in Nashville, Shane has shared the stage with such artists as B.B. King, Los Lobos, Jimmie Vaughn, and the Marshall Tucker Band.

A couple of years back, Mike and Shane joined forces and launched Hot Cars & Guitars. Held each September at the rural San Benito County Fairgrounds southeast of San Juan Bautista, it’s an easy 100-mile roundtrip from Santa Cruz, most of it over scenic two-lane back roads.

The show is small, the venue is bitchen, the food is great, and the music rocks. This year Shane shared top billing with one of our shop favorites, Ray Wiley Hubbard.

I’m not much good at taking pictures from behind the wheel. I’m even worse when it comes to putting in words how good it feels behind that wheel, cruising over backroads with a bunch of friends – so I’m not even going to try. You’ll have to use your imagination.

It’s all grass and trees at the fairgrounds, and anchored by a large stadium we thought might be perfect for a little roadster racing.
Cars&Guitars.13_3 Continue reading 

“Bikes by the Bay” Vintage Motorcycle Show

11 Aug

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know squat about motorcycles. I’ve had a few over the years; Scramblers, Enduros, a Bultaco Sherpa, a Triumph chopper. I’ve got an old Honda S65 that I keep for a pit bike — but I stay off the street. A couple of close calls with distracted drivers was enough for me – and this was before texting became popular.

While I don’t know much about ‘em, I do like to look at bikes, especially the vintage variety. Each year the city of Capitola hosts Bikes on the Bay, a gathering of domestic and imported classics combined with a vintage parts swap meet. I know it’s Off-Topic for a hot rod website, but I snapped a few photos. Maybe you’ll see something here that fires your memory banks.
IMG_0876IMG_0887IMG_0893IMG_0865IMG_0875 Continue reading 

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part VIII — Mirrors and Electronics

1 Aug

1934 Ford Coupe

We’ve been trying to figure out a solution for the mirrors on Bill Evans’ coupe. The ones seen in previous posts were placeholders. Borrowed from a Ducati, their miniature size and integral turn signals were stylish, but worthless for actual rear view vision. The coupe’s radical chop dictated something more practical. As usual, the best solution was to build it.

Bill wanted remote adjustability so the first thing we needed were some motorized guts. Bill took up the hunt and came back with the finest the Internet had to offer:

Sleek Mirror of the Millennium

Gary blew the mirrors of the millenium (sic) apart, liberated the motors, and began hand-shaping new mounts and buckets.
Bill's Mirror_motor mount
'34 Coupe mirrorMirror motor and wiringMirror bucket_1Bill_Mirror_Bucket #2

We saw the addition of these motorized mirrors coming. The coupe sports a variety of creature comforts — heat and air, power windows, power doors, power trunk latch, power gas cap release — which are all controlled through banks of switches in the overhead console. Many can also be controlled remotely through a pocket key fob. Power mirrors are part of the package. Continue reading 

2013 Woodies on the Wharf

24 Jun

So much of an event’s success depends on weather and June in Santa Cruz can be a real crap shoot. Many years we suffer what locals call June Gloom, a condition caused when the valleys inland of us warm up. It pulls the marine layer in over Santa Cruz like a wet, grey blanket. Sometimes it clears up by noon. Sometimes not at all.

We’d had an unprecedented run of brilliantly sunny mornings leading up to the event, and everyone was praying the weather would hold. It did and we enjoyed T-shirt conditions right up to the rising of Saturday night’s spectacular Super Moon. Sunday it rained. Woodies on the Wharf is like that.

The beautiful weather brought out thousands of woodie fans. The number of cars was up, too – somewhere around 180. The event kept me busy from dawn to dusk, but I was able to shoot some photos before the wharf filled with spectators. Enjoy:
2013WOW_1 2013WOW_2 2013WOW_3 2013WOW_4 2013WOW_5 2013WOW_6 2013WOW_7

The SoCal crew arrived early to stake out their usual turf. The annual line-up of shoebox Fords was featured on this year’s poster.

Longtime member and one of the winners of this year’s Aloha Spirit Award, George Benson can always be counted on for something whacky. This year he made up some early Surfer Magazine-inspired cartoon fins.


Continue reading 

Burger Run

18 Jun

Todd Anderson’s roadster was in the shop today for some post delivery dial-in. We torqued the heads, changed the oil – and raised the tail end up another inch. While seemingly insignificant, this inch was what Todd’s car needed to sit just right. To do it, Gary had to mill out a new pair of spring plates. You can see that inch in the second photo; the original plate is on top, the new one just below it.

Todd has a friend named Tony Vida who hadn’t seen Todd’s finished car, so Todd asked if he could bring him by the shop. They’d be coming over in Tony’s Deuce roadster; “a car,” Todd hinted, “that we might like to check out.” Mr. Understatement.

Todd and Tony arrived, we BS’d in the shop for a bit, then went out to the curb to see Tony’s car. Here’s what we found:

Tony’s Deuce is genuine Henry Ford. Originally built in the 1950’s, it was restored in the 70’s and somehow escaped the “modernization” many hot rods of that era were made to suffer. That it was actually restored at all is probably a testament to how well the car was originally put together. That builder would be pleased to know his roadster remains in sympathetic hands.
TonyVida2 TonyVida3
TonyVida4 TonyVida4.5

The chrome on this roadster’s underpinnings is incredibly well preserved. Obviously the shiny stuff was much more affordable in the days of bell bottoms and waterbeds. Have you priced it lately?  There’s enough here to put a kid through college. Continue reading 

International Visitors; plus Todd’s Deuce Get An Interior

12 Jun


This hot rod affliction has turned into a worldwide plague. In the last couple of years we’ve been fortunate enough to work with customers from Australia, New Zealand and France – and they’re all building cars that are as cool and traditional as anything you see here. Yesterday we were honored to have a visitor from Japan. Masanori Kimura is a talented fabricator and photographer. His quarterly publication, Frontend Magazine, has been on the newsstands for six years. Loaded with eye candy, it chronicles the traditional hot rod, chopper, and custom culture worlds. Masa dropped by with his “interpreter” Yuri, an absolutely delightful Japanese student from Santa Monica.

Yuri apologized profusely for her inability to translate car-guy and fabricator lingo for us, but it was no problem. Those were the words and phrases Masa fully understood.

We hung around the shop, Masa took a bunch of photos, and we took them to lunch down at the beach in our own cars. By coincidence, Todd Anderson showed up with his newly upholstered roadster just as we arrived back at the shop.
Roadster Line Up

Sid Chavers did the work on Todd’s car. Sid fully insulated the body, then stitched the interior and trunk and capped it off with one of his Bop Tops. The interior is simple and traditional, and like everything that comes out of Sid’s shop, the craftsmanship was flawless. Needless to say, Todd is stoked.
Happy ToddDeuce Front w:topDeuce Rear w:topSid Interior 2Sid Interior 1

Continue reading 

1932 Ford Roadster: Buttoned Up and Running

5 May

Todd Anderson drops by the shop almost daily now. As we wrap up the build on his roadster he’s begun to share with us his plans for the car: A trip north to Fort Bragg in memory of his wife. A visit to Jerry Helwig’s family — Todd’s motor was the last Jerry built before his passing. Plus a long anticipated pilgrimage to Bonneville with a posse of old friends. It’s all very soulful stuff, this little roadster will be in good hands.
Deuce Front 3:4

If you’ve been following the car’s progress, you know the parts and pieces Todd brought us were pretty soulful, too. A Deuce heavy axle with an inch and a half “Gentleman’s Drop,” an original grille shell and headlights, a beefy 3.54 banjo built by the Smith brothers out in Nampa, Idaho, and the aforementioned Helwig-built French flathead. Todd likes that traditional early postwar styling, and we do, too.
Deuce Side ViewDeuce Rear 3:4

We’ve covered the flathead in previous posts but here’s another peek. The 25 louver hood, even when closed, gives you a pretty good view of the polished and detailed engine. Side pipes are stainless, straight-thru, and feature just enough baffling to keep the neighbors at bay. Continue reading 

1932 Ford Roadster: Body Drop

2 Apr

It was a banner day for Todd Anderson’s blue Deuce. In our last post, we’d just brought his freshly-painted chassis back to the shop for final assembly. Today we hauled the completed chassis back to the painter to be reunited it with its deep blue body.Deuce Chassis 1
Onto the Trailer

In our last update we posted photos of the taller rear spring we had made. The original that came with the rolling chassis had the roadster sitting too low in the rear. Instead of a hot rod stance, the car was a bit of a tail dragger. Here’s the banjo and new spring pack installed, along with the fuel and brake lines. We’re looking forward to seeing a big improvement in the stance, once the body is bolted back in place.
Banjo Brake Lines

Continue reading