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Projects A Speedster Comes Out of the Weeds—Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ClarkH, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 11,876

    from Raytown Mo

    Stogy, loudbang, Thor1 and 1 other person like this.
  2. glrbird
    Joined: Dec 20, 2010
    Posts: 539


    I’ve followed along from the start and you have made something really great from a weird car. Congrats!!
    Stogy, loudbang, Thor1 and 2 others like this.
  3. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Thanks!!! BTW, your signature line cracks me up. But my golf sense of humor is well documented. :D
  4. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,830


    Very glad it was only a minor problem! Speed On, Gary:D
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  5. Ya dun gud son You may work on my cars anytime.
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  6. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Before catching everyone up on the speedster’s winter plans, here’s a quick update from a final endurance run we managed before the weather turned. This time my wife joined me as co-pilot. She loves the new windshield; it allowed her to sport a fashionable hat.

    170 trouble-free miles (unless you count the headlight knob unthreading), including a jaunt down scenic Chuckanut drive.

    That was the end of the season, and now she’s in hibernation. Uh, the car, I mean, not my fashionably hatted wife. I’m plotting out my winter projects.

    First off, my cool vintage speedometer when haywire after about 40 miles. So much for cheap solutions. I bit the bullet and sent it out for repair. Sent my oil gauge along with it; it will be recalibrated to a banger-oriented to low-pressure range.


    The car drives great—tracks nicely, no hint of a wobble. But the front-end has a few sketchy issues I want to address. Chief among them are the split bone mounts, which are not as stable as I’d like.


    I’m also going to add a couple lateral braces to the cowl, just to stiffen things a little more.

    But my main project is really ambitious. I want to put a decent interior in this thing, and also a top. To that end, I recently acquired this from a neighbor who was clearing out the remains of her old business:


    This thing is a beast. I swear with a good needle it would sew sheet metal. Came with a commercial steamer, too. I’ve spent the last couple days cleaning and oiling, and now I’m studying Youtube videos. This is the beginning of another DIY odyssey, just like learning to weld and learning to paint. I'll keep you posted.
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  7. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,830


    Looks like you had a great time! Sounds like a good plan for the winter too. Gary
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  8. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s get the holiday cheer rolling with this festive holiday display in front of my brother’s shop in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

    Classy. :rolleyes: Seriously, that sad pile gives the Charlie Brown tree a run for its money. I can only assume this is a clever ruse to get the tires stolen and save on disposal fees. I’ll let you know if it works.

    Christmas is also the anniversary of my speedster build thread. What started years ago as a collection of parts and a crazy dream is now a fully functional car. And while I’ve tracked most of that journey here, for this year’s thread I thought I’d showcase some of the weird little things from the past year or so that didn't quite warrant posts of their own, but collectively might be kind of fun. And I’ll end with a little surprise (no fair peeking ahead).

    Dropped a dime

    My choke rod is a homemade affair with a knob out of a junk box. There was writing on the knob that said, “Pull for Reverse,” so I assume it’s off an electric motor. This elicited a lot of puzzlement at shows—Them: “Does that really make the car go backward?” Me (deadpan): “Yes. Reverse is servo-driven.”

    But I tired of the fun, and came up with this solution:
    It is, after all, a Mercury speedster. I saw in a recent thread where @dana barlow used silver coins to dress up his car’s suspension back in the day. I figure if Dana did it, it’s certified traditional.

    To refresh everyone’s memory, my fuel cap is a bung that threads into the fill tube, coupled with a a dog-bone radiator cap that threads to the bung. But after extensive use I found that was too many moving parts, so I decided to braze them together. And since I was only so-so on the dog bone, (the old-timey octagonal shape didn’t match my vision), I found one I preferred online

    Fortunately, I set it the new one on the fill tube for a better look before I started cutting and brazing. I say fortunately because, I’ll be darned, the new one threaded right in.

    For six years I tried to match those threads with no success. Now it seems gas caps with correct threads are falling out of the sky!

    Blue light special
    Been meaning to do something about the now-superfluous crank hole cover for some time.

    Yep, a vintage electronics jewel light, surrounded by an old bathroom towel rack support. For giggles I wired it to the horn relay. Not that anybody can actually see it, except at night…

    Little pucker
    It’s my contention that every hotrod north of the Mason-Dixon Line should have at least one component made from an old hockey puck. Here’s mine, the center-stop on my windshield.
    Again, in the interest of tradition, I was careful to select a proper Canadian-made puck from my bag of practice pucks. Didn’t want to accidentally use one of those Made-in-Slovakia things formed out of Soviet industrial waste.

    While we’re talking windshield, I also made some super-simple brackets for my mirrors. These mirrors are vintage and very cool, but have only a tiny adjustment. Thanks to the bracket, I can actually use them now.

    Got framed
    While helping some friends clear out a relative’s house for sale, I found this very cool license plate frame. They were happy to give it to me, and I couldn’t get it on the car fast enough.


    Ballard’s Wilson Motor Co. was a Ford dealership dating back to 1923. Which means they were in business at the tail end of the Mercury Body run. And my speedster came out of Ballard. So who knows...?

    While this license frame is obviously much newer, it’s still damn cool.

    Pack your trunk
    Now that I’m venturing farther with this car, I need to carry a lot of emergency supplies. But the car is so small, every scrap of storage space is precious.

    I found this neat old gas can at the Portland Swap meet; still watertight. I built a holder with straps for it.
    It fits snugly between the battery box and fuel tank.
    Since it’s old metal that could eventually leak, I use it to carry extra coolant, not gas. For gas, I use a modern camp stove bottle, also in a home-made carrier.
    I figure the contents of that bottle are good for a couple miles at best—just enough to get me out of trouble. And yes, that is a rubber tire-chain tensioner holding the bottle into the carrier.

    Also in the trunk is this very cool antique doctor’s bag, affixed with leather straps.
    Pretty amazing what all can fit into that bag.
    Even my cat is impressed.

    The happy ending
    So, did you skip ahead and spoil the surprise? This speedster has been a wonderful project, and I look forward to years of endurance runs and summer enjoyment. It’s a good runner now, and I still have a list of mop-up issues to keep myself occupied.

    But I’ve been asking myself, is that enough? Or am I ready for something new?

    The answer came home with me on the trailer last week.
    It’s an early ‘28, and remarkably rust free. Big shout-out to @Hitchhiker who put me onto it. I kid you not, the cab won’t need a single patch panel. It’s that solid. A little dented, but solid. The wood is even good! Still, it’s got a list of issues that will keep me occupied through several winters. Most notably the horrid farm fixes to the door hinges…

    Already removed the cab so I can get started.
    Now the speedster has a garage buddy, and I’ve got a fresh project.

    I’ll start a build thread soon. Until then, Merry Christmas, everyone!
  9. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,830


    Merry Christmas to you also!:):)
    loudbang, Thor1, Stogy and 1 other person like this.
  10. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 18,086


    I have to turn my phone sideways to read those...yeah that's funny...:D

    Merry Christmas to you and yours @Clark...thanks for sharing the journey with all the twists and turns and toy...congrats...
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
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  11. Thor1
    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,521


    Merry Christmas Clark! Thanks for the great update. I hope you and you family had a blessed Christmas.

    loudbang, Stogy and ClarkH like this.
  12. What? No mention of the virtual monsoon turned snow storm that we took the cab off in, nor a single word about the varnish we took out of the gas tank.

    Glad the cats out of the bag, the suspense has been killing me!!
    Thor1, loudbang, Stogy and 2 others like this.
  13. Can't wait to see the thread on the '28. My first project (never finished unfortunately) was a '28 pickup (hence the '28phonebooth name), so your thread will take me back to my (misspent) youth! Out of curiosity, where was it located? I'll be watching.
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  14. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Thanks for the interest. I got it on the peninsula, but it's out of Montana originally.
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  15. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 18,086


    Thor1, brEad, GuyW and 3 others like this.
  16. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Hey @Stogy, thanks for sharing that. I see what you mean. That wide bead on the top and the overall shape of the rears. That's the closest I've ever seen to a match. They sure work on that roadster.
  17. You know, I saw this thread pop up occasionally and I kept thinking I should check it out, but I kept putting it off (I know, what's wrong with this guy, right?) until this week - holy smoke what an awesome build! The thing I like most about these kinds of threads is the problem-solving skills that are on display. A few friends, a few preferred beverages, options considered and a problem is dealt with. Congrats!

    A couple of questions:
    You started to show how you dealt with the steering-left front splash panel conflict, but there wasn't anything after Matt appeared to volunteer the capabilities of the entire PNW. Did you use the brass cup or the aluminum bowl?

    To my aging eyes, it looks like the hood vents and splash panels are a slightly darker shade than the rest of the car. Is that intentional or do my eyes lie? If it is darker (and for my sanity's sake, I hope it is) have you considered also painting the head and taillight housings to match?

    What happened to the Riley?

    Again, nice job, hope you have many miles and smiles, and good luck with the new truck!
    loudbang, Thor1, Stogy and 1 other person like this.
  18. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 995


    Thanks! I'm glad you found the thread, and glad you like the car. Hey, I get it about finally checking out threads that have been floating around for a while. I've been known to do that myself. It's especially daunting when the preview shows, say, 29 pages of posts. You wonder what you're getting yourself into. :)

    Afraid the steering sector is still uncoverd. Doesn't affect anything except my pride, and it's on my list. The brass cup is a possibility (needs brazing and cleanup), but I keep hoping a better solution in will present itself, preferrably in chrome.

    Your eyes don't deceive you. The splash panels and hood vents are darker blue; sometimes the contrast is not striking in pictures, but it looks good in person. As for painting the headlights and taillights to match, I go back and forth on that. Just like I go back and forth on the fenders (@Stogy is the little devil on my left shoulder, in that regard). If/when the fenders are installed, then they and the lights get the dark blue treatment for sure.

    The Riley is sitting on a shelf, always good for a smile when I see it. Installing it will dictate a fresh engine with pressure oil, (there's a B engine core on that same shelf). The thing is, I am perfectly happy with how strong the car runs with the Winfield head. So I figure I'll enjoy it this way for a while while I sort out all the little issues that these speedster endurance runs are uncovering.
  19. Can't we chrome Brass? Maybe that little back yard chrome set up needs to happen?
    ClarkH, loudbang and Stogy like this.

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