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Featured Projects Mild custom '51 Pontiac Chieftain

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by PhilA, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Evening, all.

    Here's the backstory that introduces my car, a (very) mild custom 1951 Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe.
    Back this time last year my wife was leafing through the random stuff that was popping up on her Facebook and spotted a fairly nice '65 Catalina. I have another car but it's from 1987 and she hates it. So, she showed me the Catalina and I called up the guy to see if it was still for sale. I arranged to go look at it a couple days later.
    I called back then and the inevitable had occurred, earlier that day someone bought it. So, I had a sulk and started to do something I rarely do- start to look through the classified car listings.
    There were the usual trailer queens well outside my budget or bring-a-trailer fodder at the lower end but very little between locally. I expanded my scope of search and up popped something that caught my eye.
    I showed my wife and she agreed that it was indeed a fine automobile ("yeah, that one's okay"), so I called up the guy and checked if he was ok me coming take a look.
    post-5454-0-36340800-1535549478 (1).jpg
    It started up and idled for fifteen minutes, went forwards, went backwards.. I mostly wanted to make sure the car wasn't a complete basket case.
    It was in that hinterland that falls between full-on restoration and ready to go. Problems but it ran and drove. I told the guy I'd be back; how many times he'd heard that I don't know, but I was going to keep to my word.
    The following Wednesday I called him up and sure enough, nobody had bought the car. I told him I'd be there with cash that night if he held it. He told me ok. That weekend I had a Pontiac sitting in my driveway...
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  2. poncho catalina
    Joined: Sep 22, 2008
    Posts: 60

    poncho catalina
    Member
    from summit il

  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 862

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I always thought if i had one I'd have to figure out if the center hood piece is stainless or chromed steel. If chrome steel, de chrome it and mold it into hood, get rid of the raised chrome section between the hood strip and chrome bumper edge and mold that into the hood so that the chrome waterfall would come down the hood and turn out into a single piece of chrome on hood edge.
     
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  4. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 5,725

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    Half an hour with a screwdriver & you folks have a nice Pontiac ...
     
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  5. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Sure thing. Custom? Yes, it's custom, but only just.
    Predominantly, it's been lowered. Up front there's a significant amount of suspension travel to play with, and the springs have been brought down- the geometry of the suspension isn't bad given that it's had a 3" drop. It's got independent coil spring twin wishbone suspension up front, up back it's a lot more traditional. C-notched frame with the rear shock mounts raised up to allow for the offset movement set in by the lowering blocks.

    Inside, the original features of the interior have been retained but the original gray broadcloth designated by the Deluxe package is gone, replaced with an almost corduroy blue, complimented by yet more blue. Everything in the car is blue apart from the red badges.

    Exterior- same scheme it rolled out the factory with except someone saw "Starmist Blue" in the paint catalog and didn't realize that Ford's rendition from the late 50's that coated vehicles like the Thunderbird isn't quite the same as the original Pontiac color.
    All the additional chrome frippery that used to adorn the bumpers is gone, leaving a much cleaner look.

    The mechanical bits- original numbers-matching engine (straight eight) mated to the original option 4-speed Hydra-Matic.
    Fireball it is not, with 124 screaming(!) Detroit horses but hey. Going fast isn't what this car's all about.

    More when I get back into my computer and dig up last year's photos.

    Phil
     
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  6. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    It appears to vary- the embellishments are either a nice stamped stainless or chromed pot metal. Mine are pot metal.

    The waterfalls are bolted on, and are chromed stamped steel. They are frenched into the hood and sit really flush- originally the low points (same height as the metal of the hood) were body color leaving the impression of 4 raised bars forming the waterfall. They actually did a good job of making it sit flush.

    The Chief being chromed pot metal, windscreen wiper escutcheons chromed pot metal and everything else shiny along the side or around the windows is stamped stainless sheet. The front grille, badge section and mustache are chromed steel.

    Phil
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  7. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    A few pictures from the classified ad.
    post-5454-0-24190700-1535581895.jpg
    Interior-wise it's fairly smart. The driver's side door card is the worst, having suffered from a leaky window.
    post-5454-0-24452100-1535581931.jpg
    Back is still quite nice. The seats are comfy, the original pattern of stitching was echoed from the original seat cloth.
    post-5454-0-57780700-1535581975.jpg
    Headliner is in pretty good shape, also although now with the humidity down here it's gone a bit wrinkly.
    post-5454-0-73326300-1535582048.jpg
    Stock '51-'52 dash, in modest shape.
    post-5454-0-12590800-1535582025.jpg
    Slightly wider angle view. Ugly AM/FM radio, a few bits of trim unsecured, some paint coming off.
    post-5454-0-87949400-1535582138.jpg
    Engine. Painted black (why?). Bit of a mess, missing a few things under the hood also (the correct ground for the car, for a start, so the lights and everything were grounding through the gearbox, out through the propeller shaft and rear axle).


    post-5454-0-83754600-1535819949.jpg
    So, I set out and got some miles under my belt. Bonus point if you know whereabouts that is.

    post-5454-0-99721400-1535827740.jpg
    Collection day- just after Labor Day 2018. Apparently with it sat up on the lot, sold, the seller said he had more interest in the car and higher offers than I had paid; however, I had paid and paperwork was signed. It was mine.
    Cue a 5 hour journey home on surface streets. I did not want to take I-55 back as it is 23 miles of bumpy elevated busy Interstate. I'm glad I didn't because even on a twin axle trailer the Pontiac is really very nose-heavy and was adding a little more tongue weight than I was happy with.
    Finally got it home, fought in the rain to jump-start it off my car and parked it up on the driveway then took off again to go bring the trailer back to U-Haul in town. It was a long day, 330 miles towing a trailer.

    --Phil
     
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  8. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 320

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I like it! There aren't too many cars that peak my interest more than 49-54 GM stuff and have always had a soft spot for Pontiacs for some reason. Looks like a cool car, that with a little work, you'll be able to get out and enjoy driving it while still having stuff to do fixing it up and tinkering with it.
     
  9. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,285

    'Mo
    Member

    Wow! What a peach!
    Will it get split pipes?
     
  10. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    That's the intention- mechanically now it isn't far off- back then, despite it having driven the 12 miles from the auction house to where I picked it up, I don't think it would have made it more than about 30 miles before sitting on the shoulder waiting to be hauled home. You'll see why in upcoming posts.

    Split pipes? No. I'm going to retain the original log manifold (8-into-1) and single pipe simply because I love the smooth sound of a straight-eight. Want it to brap-brap-brap? There's V8's for that!

    --Phil
     
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  11. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    post-5454-0-20652100-1535905501.jpg
    The cold light of dawn occurred.. at dawn, the following day. Once the rain stopped I was able to go outside and have a better poke about the car with it sitting on the hardstanding at my house.
    First impressions were the same as those gained at the lot- I had bought myself work. But, I already knew that so with that in mind I started to look at what I was going to be dealing with.
    post-5454-0-08462400-1535905756.jpg
    Outside, there are some bits of rust. Most of it is localized, but in the case of the scuttle where the trim clips have taken the paint off, the metal has gone through. Not too bad but I know, I just know the screen frame is going to be nought but bran flakes under the rubber. Undeterred, I continued.
    post-5454-0-72217000-1535905651.jpg
    Yeah, another typical rot-spot is a bit crispy-crunchy. Again localized to the corner where the mud has collected inside the wheel well and up under the trim plate. The rockers are a bit on the thin side in places. So, the bottom of the car is rusty in places. Not really a big surprise.
    post-5454-0-11506600-1535905789.jpg
    Inside was this interesting contraption. A little bit of reasearch shows it to be an expensive "one radio fits all" deal. Well, it didn't fit and it looked horrible. Out it came. The gauges also, though moderately functional (why can nobody ever figure out how to wire an ammeter in correctly?) were well out of place, and were duplicating three of the gauges present in the dash from the factory. There was also a golf-kart style button strapped to the steering column for the horn- which was a high B and was just... wrong for the car.
    post-5454-0-61046400-1535905717.jpg
    Under the hood was (if you look carefully) a merry little stream of water widdling from the top of the radiator once the engine got warm. No thermostat fitted, so warm was about all it would get. Looks like it'd been leaking for a good while, too.
    post-5454-0-73479100-1535905825.jpg
    This was making the headlights work.
    post-5454-0-40077200-1535905840.jpg
    This was just plain bad. Most of that was still live and in use running various lights and stuff up front.
    post-5454-0-81929500-1535905860.jpg
    Finally, check the angle of the dangle on the alternator. The belt was slack, with no more adjustment present and it was sitting at a horrible angle and was squealing like a stuck pig.

    So, all in all, I was off to a start. Maybe not the best start, but I decided it was good nevertheless.

    --Phil
     
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  12. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 23,268

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    wait, a 4 door and no Chevy V8? Congrats - yep, you have your work cut out for you - but, it is yours and will be redoing wiring, brakes?, body and more - have fun
     
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  13. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Yeah, it's a more-door but the body really doesn't scream it at first glance. Anyway, I have a wife, 2 kids and 2 dogs; 4 doors is a bonus!

    Wiring yes. Brakes were pretty good when I got it but after being sat up for a year they all got hung up- they are all in need of adjustment anyway.
    Plus, the previous owner(s) were definitely not in possession of a high pressure grease gun, that's for sure.

    Ever since I learned of the existence of the straight eight engine I had wanted a car with one. It's just such a smooth, aurally pleasant experience. Don't get me wrong now, I've owned a few V8's with unbalanced straight through side pipes and loved every second of driving them but this is a different experience. Much less brash, much less in-your-face.
    Something about an engine that'll idle happily at 200-250 RPM and pull the car along effortlessly at under what most other engines I have owned idle at is, to me, an enjoyable experience. Relaxing and brings a smile to my face each time I do.

    Horses for courses!

    --Phil
     
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  14. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    post-5454-0-90338300-1535929074.jpg
    I dried the car off and backed it up into the garage. The eagle-eyed amongst you will see the little trail of Hansel-and-Gretel style drips that showed where the car had been (and the kitty-litter under it too...).
    post-5454-0-62638000-1535915056.jpg
    I started by replacing some bulbs as not many of the original ones actually worked. The brake lights did not function and occasionally selecting the left turn signal would cause a few clicks to emanate from the flasher relay.
    post-5454-0-09992300-1536007183.jpg
    I had a bit of a poke and got the Chief lit back up. I also had a bit of a go at the chrome with some polish. Not the best, not the worst. I'm leaning on calling the rust "patina" and living with it for now. You will also notice the driver's side light is quite bright- reason for that is someone had wired the lights up wrong. One bright, one dim. Clicking the dimmer switch gave a police-car-chase style wigwag of the headlights. Not ideal.
    post-5454-0-64206200-1535995464.jpg
    I took the parking light lenses off the car, which haven't seen any type of seals for years. With the grime removed.. the light output was not much better.
    post-5454-0-06617300-1535999053.jpg
    Ah, that might be why. Someone decided the reflectors were rusty so painted them black. Naturally the best color choice for reflectors. This side had also seen a new light bulb holder welded in.

    --Phil
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  15. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    I just managed to sidetrack myself for 30 minutes looking at alternatives for taillights.
    1955 Vauxhall Wyvern turned sidewards, or 1949 Opel Olympia clusters.

    Either which way, that's getting a bit ahead of myself. I spent an afternoon taking the gearshift apart because the wiring for the indicator lamp was present but it was not correct, nor working.
    post-5454-0-14100200-1536101884.jpg
    The assembly comes apart into component pieces (despite not being meant to), and the little green discs that serve to diffuse and dim the light of the bulb were not all present.
    post-5454-0-90880100-1536101828.jpg
    Closer inspection showed one to have fallen down and become engaged in the turn signal/gearshift bracketry.
    post-5454-0-13663000-1536101855.jpg
    Careful excavation with a pair of tweezers saw it all reassembled correctly.
    post-5454-0-71808900-1536101780.jpg
    The small tubular piece attaches to a bracket which has a small crank that is fixed to the gearshift lever. It moves with the lever arm and the little window illuminates the appropriate gear position circle. During the day there's a metal arrow that points at the circle, above. The wire for the lamp had become detached from the metal pad that serves as a terminal for the wire that runs down the steering column to power it. That was rewired and reconnected with a bit of flux and a finely controlled flame to get it warm enough.
    post-5454-0-33218100-1536101924.jpg
    A little bit of polish later and it was looking a lot better.

    --Phil
     
  16. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,425

    The Shift Wizard
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Brings back some memories. My folks had the '54 version; straight 8, electric amber in'jin chief leading the way at night, windshield visor. It was metallic Brookmere Green, though. I got to drive it a little between getting my license in '59 and buying my very own car. My older brother took his date to the prom in it.
    Enjoy it. That was once someone's pride and joy and hopefully, it will be again with you AND your wife.

    I think Pontiac did dashboards better than anybody back in those times. :rolleyes:
     
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  17. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Yeah. Somebody cared for it, it fell into disrepair, then someone lavished some money and attention upon it.. then by looks of it they got fed up partway through redoing it and kicked it to auction. There's a couple photos on the internet of it back in 2015, looking very much the same but in need of the engine overhauling.

    Someone at least took the time to rebuild it fairly well. Gone are the old cast iron pistons, replaced with oversize alloy items, coupled with a set of new stainless steel valves. Not quite hotrodding at 6.5:1 CR but those people I've spoken to say the lower mass of the alloy pistons really helps this engine at higher RPM, meaning it will cruise happily at 60 MPH with less stress on the conrods and crank. The crank is so long that with only 5 main bearings the design has a habit of whipping at high RPM (upward of 3500) which leads to conrods fracturing.

    My aim for this is to have a comfortable, reliable vehicle to go out and about in. No trailers to shows. It was designed to be driven, so driven it shall be.

    Phil
     
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  18. southerncad
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 675

    southerncad
    Member

    Good stuff, keep us updated....I miss my ol' 54 Poncho...
     
  19. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Alright, where does that bring us to? Around September 2018, if my calendar is correct. I spent a bunch of time just pottering in the garage on evenings and at weekends doing itty bitty things on the car. Only itty bitty things because it is hot as all get-out in September here, even late into the evening.

    20180910_172027.jpg
    One thing that had particularly irked me about the car was the valve lash was way, way off. It sounded like sixteen crazed castanets players under the hood at anything above idle. So, I pulled the manifolds off and set about adjusting. Note that I'm adjusting it the hard way, from up over the edge of the fender- there is an access panel up under the wheel well but at that point I had not evicted all the spiders and I didn't fancy sticking my head up into that space.
    Set cold, the lash went from the worst (44 thou') down to between 11 and 13 thou'. That quietened things down considerably but it still wasn't running very well. Undeterred, I left it all assembled because it still did run and drive.

    Just.

    20180911_164920.jpg
    Lashing rain and 100F. Welcome to the south of the South. Having finished the valve lash, I stood back and looked critically at the front lights. Recall the rusty, black-painted reflectors? Well, they hadn't fixed themselves since I looked at them last so I decided to try something.
    20180912_163046.jpg
    I rubbed the reflector down and painted it in "Shiny aluminum" paint. Granted, that was significantly better than what was on it before, I was not totally happy with the result.
    20180912_163742.jpg
    Still it paved the way for what was to come. That is an acceptable turn signal.

    Buoyed by that small success I turned my attention to more electrical things. Note that the car was originally 6 volt negative ground. Some clever soul had "converted" the car to 12 Volts with the addition of a 12V starter, a Delco 10SI alternator (mid 60's Chevy style) and a 12 v battery and had replaced (some of) the exterior bulbs. They hadn't touched anything else...

    20180915_133331.jpg

    I took the clock to pieces. It's the original Jaeger one and the coil is marked "6 VOLT". Unsurprising. I built myself a little 12V to 6V converter circuit, cleaned the clock up, lubricated and tested it. Input 14.4V, output 5.9V. Result? Clock ticking away merrily. It's mostly a clockwork clock, simply with an electrical coil in place of the coilspring- a set of contacts on the balance wheel energize the coil and drag it round towards the magnetic field, which then breaks the contact and it drops back due to the hairspring. Repeat ad infinitum. tik-tak-tik-tak-tik-tak.

    20180922_125810.jpg
    I built the voltage regulator into the little black plastic shrink-wrapped section and tested it for a couple days on my bench power supply. It keeps really quite good time.

    20180914_181110.jpg
    That's good, as it is really quite a nice clock to look at. Set up in the car ready and waiting to 5pm, because hey, it's 5pm somewhere, right?

    That was it for a week or so until something I had ordered on eBay arrived...

    --Phil
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  20. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 5,602

    Gman0046
    Member

    If it were me I'd be thinking how much more fun it would be with a 389/400 in that old Poncho.
     
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  21. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    I had my fun with a tire-shredding license-threatening 375 horsepower Dodge Challenger. Point and go neeeeever gets old but that had to go in favor of something a little more practical (read: 4 doors and a big trunk) because kids/house/dogs/wife.
    So yes, while it would be fun to go a little faster, I am happy with the torque that the 268ci straight-eight provides when it's set up right. Rather than whisky on the rocks, this is more Long Island iced tea. Gets you to the same place, just in a different way.

    (For the record, so you don't think I'm a complete stooge, one of my favorite vehicles was a little 1971 Vauxhall that was converted from a station wagon into a pickup truck and had the 85ci four-banger binned and a 215ci V8 shoe-horned in, so I'm not averse to customization. See below- apologies it's outside the scope of the HAMB so it remains a thumbnail.
    truuuuck.jpg

    My tastes have changed as I've gotten older, and this one I like the engine so it stays).

    --Phil
     
  22. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    20180927_202747.jpg
    More scary wiring! The length of bare conductor there is the wire for the gear shift indicator light. It runs all the way up the center of the gear shift tube to power the bulb, but in this instance it was a fire hazard. I liberated the old wire, pulling a new one through with it.

    20181007_174355.jpg
    Rewired, the lamp functioned correctly when connected to a battery.
    20181007_174426.jpg
    Pretty smart. It made me smile. Things that make me smile, in terms of design, stay.
    20181010_182534.jpg
    Random side-track- the gas pedal return spring was attached at the carburetor, at a very imprecise angle. This did not make operation of the gas pedal easy, so I did a bit of Googlin' and found a picture that showed a screw-in anchor that fits to the flywheel backplate, to which a spring attaches and pulls the pedal back to its' return position.
    I cut down and filed a bolt, drilled a hole for the spring and fitted it in place.
    20181010_183535.jpg
    Grubby but functional. Much better.

    20180928_162323.jpg
    Recall the eBay purchase? I did a bit more research because somebody had pilfered the original air cleaner assembly. The original was a top-hat style one that sat directly atop the carburetor. An option was this one above, the same cleaner but attached to the carburetor via a large muffler can.

    20180930_202618.jpg
    That all scrubbed up nicely with a couple coats of gloss black enamel. I made a bracket to support it from one of the head studs (which has a thread sticking out of the cap to attach a steadying bar to on the stock filter.

    20181013_121542.jpg
    A little more cosmetic work- I bought some red lacquer as a number of the red emblems on the car were very sun-bleached.
    20181014_113756.jpg
    Masked off and repainted the wheel trim badges. I preferred this look over a solid red.
    20181013_214918.jpg
    Goes nicely and looks a bit more sharp in the sunshine.

    20181014_121410.jpg
    The (badly pitted and rather quite funky) rear flank emblems also had the very pink paint stripped off and red lacquer applied. Left new red, the one on the car as-was.

    20181014_181434.jpg
    At the same time I repainted the rear badge, which is still very tired, all the chrome having been polished off all the way down to the nickel underneath. My excuse, patina.

    --Phil
     
  23. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    post-5454-0-97829400-1538881900.jpg
    After painting up the wheel trim emblems, I stood back and tried to decide if I should run without them. The wheels are real nice looking, even in gloss black.

    post-5454-0-48682800-1536880686.jpg
    Pulled the car outside to give it a wash- looks quite different with the rear spats removed. Again, trying to decide what look I preferred.

    post-5454-0-96149600-1536880702.jpg
    That aside, just washing the engine compartment down liberated quite a remarkable amount of grime. Looking at it, I would wager a good 20 years of dirt and oil all congealed with sand and dirt, stuck on every available surface.

    post-5454-0-66908700-1540151539.jpg
    Back inside, I went back to electrical items. Took the neutral inhibitor/reverse light combo switch apart and cleaned the contacts. I was greeted by illumination in Reverse. Simple but satisfying.

    post-5454-0-40350600-1540334885.jpg
    I bought an ignition switch. Turned out to be the wrong one (Pontiacs use Chevy truck switch barrels with the two little arms to grab onto a plate and hold it level). I removed the inner frame and did it up to the dash- works well enough, looks correct. Only thing lost is the cigar lighter illumination which is only useful when the lighter is pulled out anyway.

    post-5454-0-91019100-1540396365.jpg
    The starter button was also half missing so eBay again. There are new ones available but they aren't machined as nicely and also look far too new.
    post-5454-0-67942300-1540401204.jpg

    This one has all the dimples and pits and marks of having been pressed each time someone got into the car and matches the rest of the dash nicely.

    post-5454-0-64995500-1540398733.jpg
    It tested well so no need to pull it apart. That was quite surprising. Made a change from the rest of the electrical parts I had so far touched.

    post-5454-0-69830400-1540152112.jpg
    I rewired the horn push. This little plate is held in with a small-ish sheet metal screw that is up in a fairly exposed area at the base of the steering column. I don't think it had been undone since it was put in. It took about 40lb-fy to undo, and came off with a loud crack. Removed all the rust from the plate and screw, painted and reinstalled.

    post-5454-0-72984400-1540671795.jpg
    post-5454-0-29628100-1540440144.jpg
    Cleaned up the bearing and electrical contacts on the other end of the column, as the horn push grounds through the bearing to the column. Initially it was not working because the wire had broken off.. secondarily the bearing was dry and oxidized. That saw it able to pass current again. A new 12V horn relay was fitted up and the push operates it very well now.

    post-5454-0-84669400-1540587989.jpg
    At this time a bunch of new parts came in. I found why the brake lights were not working. Three reasons. First, the switch was bad. Second, the switch was disconnected. Third, the turn signal switch contacts were bad. Everything was bad!
    As a side note, I have no idea what a "Lunar Crimp Frame" is, I've always just referred to those as connector crimpers.

    post-5454-0-44780900-1540688179.jpg
    The windscreen washer jets were also missing. I cleared the age-old crystallized gunge out of the pipes, took a couple of screws with the correct thread, turned them down in my drill with a file and drilled a hole up the center and another one sideways at the end to meet it.

    post-5454-0-07525300-1540688266.jpg
    They work really very well. Much easier than actually trying to find the correct nozzles...

    --Phil
     
  24. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    post-5454-0-97926400-1541556821.jpg
    Recall the turn/park signal reflector that I had painted silver? Well, yeah, I wasn't happy with it so decided to strip the assembly down, removed the paint and dropped the steel into an ascorbic acid solution. After a couple of hours it's beginning to make an improvement in the picture above.

    post-5454-0-12483700-1541637515.jpg
    Overnight, the chemical reaction turns the solution from a pale orange to inky black.

    post-5454-0-51873600-1541637563.jpg
    Wiped down, the improvement is significant. However, that's still not clean enough, particularly if left on the bench overnight unprotected.
    post-5454-0-99371200-1541722320.jpg
    Steel flash rusts quickly!

    post-5454-0-31791800-1541637601.jpg
    Scrubbed that down with my wire wheel and put it into an acid bath and applied a current, to pull the ions and metal off the surface of the steel.

    post-5454-0-68515100-1541645426.jpg
    Galvanically cleaned, I then attempted to polish the surface down a little- it's a bit thin in places.

    post-5454-0-76596300-1541722368.jpg
    Polished, it is nice and shiny but won't last, as proven by leaving it on the bench. Some sorface treatment is required. Originally I think the factory painted them white. I wanted something a bit better, so turned to a bit of alchemy.

    post-5454-0-15196500-1541725478.jpg
    First, copper plating with my home-made rig. All off the shelf stuff from the local grocery store and an old desktop computer power supply. Then, followed up with nickel plating to give a silvery finish. Nickel is slightly yellow; normally the next step would be to chrome plate but the chemicals involved in that are Federally regulated, incredibly nasty and carcinogenic, so not something to be fooling about with at home.

    post-5454-0-23942300-1541740478.jpg
    Certainly an acceptable repair. Shiny enough and should last that way for a good while.

    post-5454-0-71539800-1541740526.jpg
    Connected up to test, it was sending a lot more light forward. That's just the parking light.

    post-5454-0-54587500-1541863371.jpg
    Back on the car with the backing housing also given a light plating and the backsides painted black.

    post-5454-0-30501500-1541863399.jpg
    With the lens reinstalled the light is very effective again.

    post-5454-0-74066000-1541863439.jpg
    In the sunlight it's a lot more pretty to look at, too.

    That worked well enough! I think you can buy replacements, but I had wanted to keep the original parts if I could.

    --Phil
     
  25. pontiac
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 758

    pontiac
    Member

    I like it! Nice work on getting things cleaned up and working properly again.

    The 51 Pontiac I'm building was originally the same color combination as yours.
     
    loudbang and PhilA like this.
  26. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    That is the main aim right now, trying to undo some of the previous keepers' work where it isn't done right, repairing what's worn out and generally making safe.

    Once that's out of the way I can start thinking about having a bit of fun with it.
    You look like you have your work cut out with your 51 right now.

    Phil
     
    Okie Pete and loudbang like this.
  27. Nice work Phil, looks good. Years ago I had a '50 Catalina that I wish that I had kept...
    457386-1364850463-a577193359b33d239cf1de5d7c5bc957.jpg
    ... like your's, it still had the straight 8 and hydra-matic.

    Picked up a '51 Oldsmobile Deluxe 88 last year, I wound up rewiring it and converting it over to 12 volts. It too has been lowered a few inches all the way around, still want to get the back end down a little more. I'm thinking about removing the skirts, I like how yours looks without them.
    22.JPG
     
    loudbang likes this.
  28. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    Ooh, nice 88. I think Olds made a prettier job of the back end than Pontiac did that year. Mine sits slightly tail-high too, the air shocks only go to bolster that look. It would be nice to get the rockers parallel to the pavement..

    12V conversion isn't overly bad, though throwing in wiring is always fun. I spent more time getting dust and rust in my eyes on my back in awkward positions up under the dash than I care to have, and it's still not finished yet. I need to loom everything up neatly.

    I've plenty more instalments yet to come if y'all want to read- mostly just renovation work to bring things back up to scratch again.

    Phil
     
  29. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,024

    goldmountain

    Like what you are doing. With all this talk about Vauxhalls, where are you from?

    Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    PhilA and loudbang like this.
  30. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 77

    PhilA
    Member

    I'm originally from England, moved out to Louisiana 13 years ago. Proudly American for nearly a year now.

    Phil
     
    Okie Pete, kevinrevin, treb11 and 6 others like this.

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