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Customs 1937 Dodge, Ol Bessie Is Coming Home

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Sharps40, Apr 29, 2015.

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  1. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    I'll put this in here as a place holder and hopefully no only will it come home after 21 years but I'll be able to tell the story of bringing it back to life herein.

    Dad called. We have been looking for a 37 Dodge to take the place of Ol John Lee the 65 Chevy Truck I had been driving.

    Fortunately he found the car. My/his/our car. His Dad bought it for him. I worked with him on it and road around in it all my life. It became mine at 20 years old and I drove it till a drunk hit me on the drivers side totaling it when I was 30.

    I sold it.

    Dad found it. Its been sitting in the hotrod shop in VA for 21 years waiting to be finished.

    The owner knows we want it back. As is, or accident damage repaired and running/driving.

    So for now Dad and the shop owner talked it over and Ol Bessie is "Back in the Que" for repairs.

    Don't know what the costs will be or if I can even afford it but we'll start with trying to own it again and move out from there. With luck I can at least geti it home to the garage.....maybe more.

    As it sits, and just before the wreck 21 years ago it had: New upholstery that I sewed myself from scratch, I had redone all the woodgrain finish on the metal trim, rebuilt the dash gauges, installed a new wiring harness, built a Ford 200 6 with weber carb, new radiator, TCI Streetfighter C4 Trans, new leaf springs and shackles, new front suspension and kingpins (wonder how many folks don't have a clue what kingpins are?), rebuilt the steering box and brake system, new glass, new rubber. It was a solid daily driver. For years with a flathead and three speed and all that work had under 1000 miles on it when the accident occurred.

    But, Dad said he wants the shop to work up the estimates on a running driving car with the accident damage fully repaired. We'll see......I am excited and guarded at the same time.
     
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  2. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Its there. It might be here eventually. A Corvette is ahead of it. We don't know if we can afford to buy or buy and work but its there and we are working it. I cried when I saw the photos.
     
  3. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    From a close look at the photos, much of the body work and rust repair is already done. I confirmed my memory of installing a modern pressurized radiator for the new Ford L6. I can't tell if the rear axle is original or a Ford 9". I seem to remember having perches welded on a modern axle......All the suspension is like new. 22 years old, 2000 miles!

    Email from Dad today:

    "Rich: Soooo many things to consider, but they will all fall into line.

    I met with Jim yesterday, and talked with two of the fellows who do the restoration work. They are working on a Corvette body now, getting it ready to remount to the frame. Jim says the Dodge can then be brought into the system for work. I told him that we would like to get it running, have all the rust and body repair work completed. The rust in floorboards and trunk have already been completed---by Billy, no longer works there. I took photos---can't see much---there are fenders etc on the top, the interior is filled, and boxes on the hood. Will be better able to assess things when Jim calls it into the shop. We did not discuss any prices---just that what you would like to have from him is a running car, nice would be painted and upholstered, but with the possibility that a fender or panel might have to be replaced, maybe just a primer job and do the final paint and upholstering at your end. We are getting closer to having some work done on the Dodge---can't put a hard date on it. I'll keep visiting and pleading to be next into the shop. Try and be patient---but I too can get a real good feeling about that one being back on the road. Takes me back to 1957...."
     
  4. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40


  5. 56 Dodge Pickup
    Joined: Jul 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,813

    56 Dodge Pickup
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Very cool story and IMHO a really cool ride check out my build thread I will be following please keep us posted. Jim
     
  6. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    I will do both. With luck the Vette will be out of its way soon and we'll have some numbers to work with. Right now I'm wigglin up the $$ to get it.....from there we'll see if I get it as is or with some or all of the work done! We are very excited to have Dad and my first car together potentially coming home and being returned to the road.
     
  7. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Dad is here. A visit. News. The Dodge is mine again. It was never not mine, since I was 16. I drove it daily till I was 30 when it was wrecked. I spent all my money on a lawyer chasing a drunk with nothing and nothing was left to fix it. I sold it. 23 years ago.

    The day I sold it. 23 years ago. Dad bought it back. He and Jim kept it a secret. Working on it occasionally as time and manning and money permitted. Stored away in the hot rod shop. Waiting for 23 years. Till I wanted it back.

    I almost bought one in Chicago last month. It was sold the day I arrived to look at it.

    The title, in my name, never transferred has sat in secret in Dads lock box waiting.

    For 35 years it has been my car.

    Before that, since 1957, Dad was the second owner of the Ol Dodge.

    Its coming home.
     
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  8. crashfarmer
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,274

    crashfarmer
    Member
    from Iowa

    Wow! Cool story.
     
  9. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    I have a lot to learn
     
  10. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    PROGRESS!

    Financial restructure is completed for looming retirement, early on on time, it dont' matter now!

    I own the jeep!

    Huge medical debt moved off the table!

    $10K available for the Dodge.

    Come on now, get that corvette off the floor and get a steel car under the Flame Wrench!
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  11. Mudgy
    Joined: Dec 4, 2010
    Posts: 231

    Mudgy
    Member

    What a great story. Your Dad is a Legend for keeping it.
    Good luck with the progress, keep posting, I wanna see lots of pictures as you go!
     
    Sharps40 likes this.
  12. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    A good talk with the shop owner this morning. Our first contact in 20+ years. Quite a bit of laughing over the joke played. Follow up email to reestablish contact and get the evaluation processes rolling as we await the final movement of the ol Dodge from stuck in the corner to shop floor.....

    "Mr. Walker,

    Good to talk to you this morning. Contact information is listed below the signature. Quite a secret and glad to have it out of the bag!

    Ideal desire is running/driving/done. Somewhere in between works too. Ultimate goal is a look like it was in the late 50s. Metallic blue (current metallic color or perhaps Cobra Midnight Blue Metallic), close to stock ride height but with modern agility on the road as an occasional town and highway driver.

    As we discussed, if the budget demands less than Running/Driving/Done, priority starts with body work and paint + glass/rubber, with a nod toward doing much of the heavy lifting underneath to avoid paint damage/painted panel removal later.

    If there is any question on the existing engine/trans don't bother to square and level/finalize the mounting as we can discuss new power train.
    The old 4.10 dodge rear must go in favor of a modern rear. Any make is fine....would be convenient to match the make to the power train, i.e. Ford to Ford, Chevy to Chevy, etc.

    Original suspension under it is 5000 miles since being rebuilt, however it's 25 odd years since it was greased or rolled. If smart, I am open to a modern suspension, but, would like to avoid the super low hot rod look.

    Power disc/drum or disc/disc on a dual master cylinder are pretty much a mandatory safety item as well as lap belts (2 front, 2 or 3 rear).

    Much more to it I am sure. I'll be sure to rely heavily on you and your craftsmen's knowledge and expertise.

    Mark me more than a bit excited!

    Standing by here. (Well, actually, jumping up and down waiving and shouting!)"
     
  13. What a terrific story! This is why we all come to this e-community. I'll be watching.
     
    Sharps40 likes this.
  14. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    I'm just kinda gettin up, sittin down, walking round, cleaning tools, sittin down, gettin up, walking round, smoking cigars, cleaning tools again, sittin down, gettin up.......I sure hope the car gets outta the corner and on the shop floor before I get worn out.
     
  15. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Dad was down at Classic Automotive again last night. He and Jim had another grand hoot and holler at my expense. Much additional talk about Ol Bessie and at least from an initial look....The projected budget for a running driving painted car (using the existing 200 Ford/C4) may be excessive.

    They had a lot of talk about concerns for a zero mileage engine overhauled 20+ years ago, same for the trans. And, at this point, we all recognize that a 74 Maverick engine and trans is in fact an antique power pack. In addition, much discussion of the 78 year old suspension (5000 miles from rebuild and 20+ years growing stiff from lack of use) which lead to how little can the car be lowered by placing an independent front with rack/pinion and possible replacement power pack options.

    In some follow up discussion with Dad this afternoon, it seems the Corvette is nearly ready for paint and could be moving off the floor in a couple weeks thus freeing up the 3 man team to tackle Ol Bessie.

    For now, we are exploring the budget and whether it allows for a total driver quality do over with modern suspension (without getting stupid low) and the possibility of a V6 or 8 cylinder and 4 speed overdrive automatic...........


    WeeeOhhhhhh! Ol Bessie could come back not only pretty but strong too!
     
  16. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Its decision time.
    Mr. Walker just called.
    Been waitin on this call for 2 months and 23 years!
    Emptying the junk out of Ol Bessie today.
    Tomorrow or Thursday its being pulled to the shop floor and the resurection commences.
    We agreed to start on the underside and work up and out.
    So, on deck is:
    1. Total modern suspension and rear axle + Power brakes and the possibility of rack and pinion (and depending on the power pack, possibly power rack and pinion)
    2. All accident damage repaired and then primer and possibly paint.
    3. Engine/trans choices are limitless and include the current 200 L6 with C4, GM 350 or Vortec with 4L60E and depending on budget, one of the millions of 5.7L Mopar Hemi engines with automatic overdrive trans!
    Meso excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  17. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Looks we need to try to make this a V8. Dad called, he's on his way to the shop now. Told me a story.
    Way back, early 60s.......engine was still a flat six, 30 over, 60 off head, offy 2bbl intake, twin Carter B&Bs and split manifold dual exhaust.....he drove the car from Hagerstown MD to Fort Knox, KY. Stuffed a small block Chevy V8 in the trunk, tied down the deck lid and drove it back to Hagerstown.
    Seems, he always wanted it to be an 8.
     
  18. oldpl8s
    Joined: Apr 11, 2007
    Posts: 1,399

    oldpl8s
    Member

    cool thread, subscribed...
     
  19. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Sold safari rifle. Budget just went up....a bit closer to that 8
     
  20. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    9 July 2015 Email to Dad and Mr. Walker....
    Mr. Walker,

    I've made some decisions, one's I hope will help the process.
    BUDGET: Its growing somewhat. Sold a Safari Rifle. Working on a craigslist ad for the Wife, grandkids and four dogs that should net some additional funds if I can get them ALL to bathe before taking photos. Kick the budget to an estimated $18000 to $19000 with, I believe, up to $13000 available this month.

    POWER PACK: Looks we need to try to make this a V8. Dad recently told me a story. Way back, early 60s.......engine was still a flat six, 30 over, 60 off head, offy 2bbl intake, twin Carter B&Bs and split manifold dual exhaust.....he drove the car from Hagerstown MD to Fort Knox, KY. Stuffed a small block Chevy V8 in the trunk, tied down the deck lid and drove it back to Hagerstown.

    - Pull the Ford 200/C4 and plan for a V8/Auto Overdrive.
    - Used low mileage 5.7L hemi's with trans and ECU/Harness unknown appear to be in the $4000 range. ECU, Harness, tins and peripherals can drive up to another couple thousand if not included.
    - Setting Hemi Fever aside, make the decision points time and budget. At the time your Craftsmen are prepared to "Set" the power pack if our joint efforts have not procured a Hemi with Auto OD, move forward with a GM Small Block and Auto OD. There is significant nostalgic precedent for GM driveline and I'm very pleased to have either between the rails.
    - Gearing in the differential as suited to an Auto OD trans. We'll not be drag racing. Old men driving around town looking for cokes and hotdogs and occasionally on the highways to get to a deer stand.

    STEERING: No brainer, with a hot rod engine go's power rack and pinion. When you get to the steering column, wondering if it'll be possible to fit the original Dodge steering wheel to the new shaft?

    WIPERS: Electric to replace the original vacuum

    UPHOLSTERY: Continue to leave it off the table/out of the budget for the time being.

    And because the kid in me can't resist asking.......
    - "Dad, Mr. Walker, it's been two days. Is the car done yet?"
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  21. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Email of 22 July 2015
    "Pops,
    Your and Mr. Walkers 23 year old joke is wearing on me.
    I am daily balancing my new found exuberance for Ol Bessy against the knowledge that I can't be nagging Mr. Walker twice each day for a status update!
    I also realize that you are fully engaged each day making sure my Mother is and remains anywhere from mildly irritated to crazy angry with your behavior.
    But.....
    If I don't soon get a photo of the car out of the corner and on the floor my head will explode."
     
  22. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Started in ernest last Monday. After inventorying all the spare panels from the doner car, pricing out all the bits to stage the budget of body, paint, suspension, power, etc.

    Full time worker on the project and here we are, ready for the first infusion of cash into this long awaited project......

    Near fully stripped, commencing completion of the accident damage, in primer soon. From there we hit the suspension. After that, discussion of remaining budget and the potential for V8 Power......last is paint and upholstery.......as the budget holds out!

    Here is Ol Bessy as a bare naked lady....

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Just got an updated set of photos from Dad. Seems the trunk floor still needs work, probably have to make it from scratch. Still repairing some rot at the lower cowls but doors hung and the final bits of accident damage along the door posts are corrected. Trying to get the photos moved from the phone to the computer, stand by.
     
  24. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    These photos represent the end of Week 2 (10 Business days of work) since pulling it from the corner and inventorying the mess!

    It was a fight....the photos are coming in as part of the html document in the email instead of attached jpg......I gotta show Dad how!

    Anyway, recovered some of the photos and will get the rest off the big computer later.

    Front floor pan and firewall pretty much done, the old dash (25 years ago I redid all the woodgrain!) still looks fair.

    [​IMG]

    Lokar shifter on the TCI Streetfighter C4 that's been tentatively installed for 23 years is sticking up through the floor pan.

    [​IMG]

    Up in the engine bay, the brand new moderate performance build Ford 200 L6 that we put in so many years back....it has about 30 mins or less run time on it. Might be replaced with a V8.

    [​IMG]

    LF fender from the doner car bought and cut up for panels back when the wreck happened.

    [​IMG]

    Rear floor plan areas nearly done, just some corner work to do in the cowl section and at the rear doors.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A bit of rot to work out at the rear of the trunk pan and the apron under it.

    [​IMG]

    Drivers side rear door post and fenderwell accident damage repaired and the door being rehung.

    [​IMG]
     
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  25. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    With any luck, I will get to see and touch this old car for the first time since 1991/1992 on 24 August! Road trip!!!!!
     
  26. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Less than a week to go, and I should get to see and touch Ol Bessy for the first time in a long time.
    Email to Dad this morning:
    Dad,
    Interesting bits about the old Dodge
    Original Base Price: $830
    Number of 1937 4 Door Touring Sedans Produced: 185483
    Weight: 2912 lbs.
    Length: 196.125" or 16 ft. 4 1/8 in.
    Horsepower: 87
    Total Serial Number Range for all 1937 Dodge models 4530451 to 4789907
    Vin Location: Right front door hinge pillar post. Additional Serial Numbers include 9118501 to 9149360 and 9409056 to 9413740
    Factory Colors may have included: Golden Beige, Mercury Metallic, Stratosphere Blue, Dodge Blue, Regal Maroon, Dodge GunMetal, Chillon Green, Echelon Green and Gyro Blue

    Dads response:
    Rich,
    All great pieces of data. And I bought it in 1958 for $50. Do you realize---we have owned it for 57 years!! That's as long as my marriage---what great choices I made, and now are yours to make.
     
  27. volvobrynk
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,587

    volvobrynk
    Member
    from Denmark

    I like to see a nice car with a straight six in it!

    I would keep that! But it's your call.
    It would be cool if it had twin carbs. But other then that I would only fix broken!
     
  28. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    The six ain't off the table. It has under 30 minutes run time since the rebuild 23 years ago. V8 pistons, 30 over, milled head, mild cam, 3/4 exhaust splitter and weber 32/36. Really, just needs headers and a good free flowing 2 into 1 2" exhaust and a long glass pack for an excellent sound....Shop says the L6 runs like a swiss watch. But, Dads youngmans vision for the car was V8, GM style with auto. The 200 L6 is currently backed by a TCI Streetfighter C4, also with 0 run time since installed 23 years back....it would be a direct fit for a mild 302 and is one of the fastest responding autos........or a 5.7L hemi and OD auto might work.....we'll see. Gotta get the suspension under it first, we'll get to the heavy lifting on the power pack later......Though the 5.7L hemi would be mostly a shop serviced set up while the L6 a GMLS and Ford 302s would be very much home service powerplants.
     
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  29. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    In the shop being worked was a 48 woodie, 2 nd gen 442, 54 caddy, 67 vw van, a chevelle, a stud avanti, 54 nomad wagon, a 39 chevy sedan!

    Ol Bessy is in the right place.

    Here we go. First look in 23 years for me!
     
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  30. Sharps40
    Joined: Apr 28, 2015
    Posts: 887

    Sharps40

    Drivers side, where all the accident damage was, very nearly dead straight and prepping the final panels in the cowl. Firewall/cowl, front door, rear door, center door post and rear quarter all pulled out and reshaped. Some welding to do and some hinge repairs but this side will be pretty close to bondo free when competed.

    [​IMG]

    Up front the nose is off and the firewall is perfectly wrinkle free.

    [​IMG]

    Significant repairs to the front floor and restoration of the toe board for the hand brake.

    [​IMG]

    Passenger side, some rot repairs to do on the lower cowl and the panels are already made up. Doors are hung and rough aligned....all door rust repaired. A bit of work to do in the lower rear door post. But at least this side did not need a cut out and replacement from the parts car of the center door post.

    [​IMG]

    Out back, a total removal of the rotted trunk and hand crafting of a new deck and roll pan under the trunk lid.

    [​IMG]

    The new pan tacked in and as you see, bead rolled for strength and good looks.

    [​IMG]
     
    volvobrynk likes this.
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