The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by PhilA, Nov 4, 2019.
Nice work on the reflectors. I for one want to see more.
Phil, great job restoring the Pontiac. Your attention to the small details is remarkable. A while back I saw the results of a test on what color to use for reflectors wherein they tried aluminum, black, or white background paint. White ended up providing a brighter light. Your efforts I feel look better and well worth the effort you put in.
Looking forward to more updates.
I figured I needed to drain the engine down and probably flush it through. GM were nice and provided an engine block drain tap on the side of the engine. I undid it. Nothing came out. So, I removed the entire tap from the engine and still nothing. I started to poke and rod in the hole with a screwdriver and was rewarded with some black sludge. Very dry black sludge.
I spatchcocked together a length of pipe with a union that fit into the engine. That then went on to the end of my pressure washer. That blew the pipe off a few times but finally the blockage of sediment cleared and I was rewarded with a flow of water from the hole.
Pretty ugly flow of water, too.
Rust, rust, rust. Spent a good while flushing it forwards, backwards until what came out was only clear.
That's a little better.
Polished the body of the drain tap. Who doesn't like brass that's been made shiny? I can think of a few people but I'm not one of them.
Painted the top of the tap up, cleaned the threads and reassembled. One thing off the list.
Next up being as I was fooling about with cooling was the radiator. It was green and brown and would shoot a stream of water out the front of the car when the engine was warm. No good.
This was the filler neck. I thought that was some sort of silicone putty sealant until I started to poke at it and big chunks of lead came away. So, someone had "repaired" the radiator by throwing slightly warmed lead at it from several feet away. Excellent. What else awaits?
I figured I'd give a local business a try. I called them up and they said they did repair on copper and brass radiators so I drove out there and the guy took a look at the radiator and drew his breath in through his teeth. Oh no, very bad, terrible, that's no good, can't do anything with that funny honeycomb, it'll need totally recored and I don't know if we can get it, let me look.
Cue a bit of keyboard-punching. I stand and watch the guys in the back working- grubby old workshop, junk everywhere.. looked promising.
"Yeah, that would be about $850 if it all goes well, more if the guys have to work on it for other problems", says he. I thanked him for his time and collected my radiator back into my truck and thought about it on the 35 mile trip home.
Out came the gas torch. I've never repaired a radiator before but I'll be damned if someone is gonna pluck a number out of the air because they don't want the job. I stopped at the hardware store and picked up some plumbers' flux and a new brass brush.
So, off came the neck. Not much of the original solder was forming an active seal any more. In fact, it was hardly being held on at all.
Cleaned thoroughly, fluxed and tinned. Soldered back on securely with no leaks. I learned it is rather like electrical soldering.. the temperature has to be just right. Too cool and it doesn't stick, too hot and all the solder wicks away.
I cleaned up and soldered the front edge of the core where it was leaking. The top lip had come loose and was leaking along a 5" length.
I bunged up the engine holes and put a bit of pressure in the heater return spigot with my hosepipe. Just above where I had repaired was a small crack that was weeping.
I cleaned that up and soldered it closed. Next pressure test saw the cap burp water out and nowhere else leak. Success.
I threw a can of black paint at it. Not perfect but tidy enough. I think that came to about $6 in parts and about an hour's work. So even with that, under $100 if I would have had someone else do it.
Plus, I learned a new skill. That's worth the trouble.
Back to the same old game of More Things That Do Not Work On The Car.
Mississippi doesn't have a safety inspection (unless you have tinted glass as far as I'm aware) so rather a lot of the vehicle wasn't working and was never fixed.
Windshield wipers was one of those items. The car's got a pretty standard vacuum system which, with vacuum applied attempted pathetically to move the wipers a little- the slack in the linkage was taken up and that was about it. You'd have thought the wipers would have worked because the driver's side window mechanism is broken and the glass no longer rolls down. You want one or the other really. Preferably both...
I got up under the dash and removed the vacuum motor. It didn't look too bad externally, but hey. It's been inside the car.
Typical sight inside though. Dried up grease. I cleaned all of that down and applied new grease. The piston flap really needs to have its seal replaced because it still leaks pretty badly- it's worn. Still, fresh grease soaking into the rubber helped swell it up a little.
Linkage cable freed up and lubricated, cleaned and reassembled.
Hooked up to a vacuum source it started to move. Good start.
With the vacuum motor disconnected, the wiper arms were stiff to move. Definitely not a good thing, so I got back up underneath the dash and finagled them out.
They got dropped into a soaking tank of releasing fluid and gasoline. This worked moderately well to free them up.
In so cleaning them I noticed that the threaded hole the backing plate bolt goes into was drilled ever so slightly into the body where the spindle goes through the escutcheon. I sprayed some releasing fluid into there and that helped free it up further.
I took some grease and spudged it into the hole and screwed the bolt down to push it in. This worked until the cavity was full and then the grease just came back out past the threads.
A moment of head-scrathcing and eyeballing the bolt. I figured I would see if the thread on a grease zerk was the same. Lo and behold, it was.
High pressure grease gun saw the grease pushed past the bearings, which brought a lot of dirt and rust through with it too. Pleasantly smooth and easy to operate wiper arms were the result.
I painted the arms because they were rusty and wouldn't clean up. The ends of the arms are also adjustable, though the arms themselves are aftermarket and were too long and had run out of adjustment. I shortened them a little and set the angle of the wrist joints so the blades sat down against the screen frame neatly in their parked position.
I pulled the vacuum/fuel pump apart because it was disconnected. It needed a good clean.
With that a bit better, it was put back onto the engine.
The wipers work fairly well. As well as vacuum ones work, at least.
Also, more brass. The tee-piece for the screenwash. Ain't nobody but me gonna know it's all shiny. And now, of course, you.
I purchased a Trico screen wash jar on eBay. It was one of those randomly low-priced ones that pop up occasionally so I jumped at it. It was all grubby and internally didn't seal because the seals had all dried up. I sat the seal with a weight on top of it to spread the skirt out a bit, cleaned it all up and reassembled it.
Cleaned the frame up and painted it a pale gray. Filled the bottle with an appropriately colored screen wash and tested it out. Works nicely.
Onward and upward!
you are getting to be a master of all these arcane jobs.
Granted, I'm condensing down the last year of work.. this didn't all happen in the last couple of days!
I do enjoy working on the Pontiac- it was all designed to be put together by hand, so a lot of it comes apart by hand, too. A lot of it was designed also to be serviceable- grease the moving bits and when they finally wear out, the wear surfaces are made in such a fashion that one is incredibly hard, the other soft.. swap the soft bits.
One key trouble is it was all made so well that by the time the bearings are worn, the replacements are hard to find!
Wow! Great progress. Call me subscribed! Love the early '50s GM 4 doors.
Just a little post with this. The badge on the glove box looked plain horrible. The back of it was coated in red paint, the view of that from the front was... mostly silvered with blotchy red, and the wording in cream.
The chrome was easy. That just buffed up with a bit of metal polish; the badge was a different story. The red paint came off fairly easily with some light scrubbing. I think perhaps this was originally an all-silver background, with time having taken its toll on the finish.
I don't have any way to vacuum coat aluminum so I tried to figure the best way to go forward. The front if the badge is a little sun-crazed so I figured I'd just give it a shot and redo it in red/cream like I had seen some others in photographs on the Internet.
Try as I might, I couldn't get the paint to shift. I didn't want to apply paint stripper as it would soften and destroy the acrylic.
Somebody gave me a hint- oven cleaner. So, I went raid the kitchen and scrubbed a bit in with an old toothbrush in the sink.
That worked really very well. Every trace of the old paint gone withough damaging the plastic badge itself.
A little bit of careful toothpick-painting in the letters and a few coats of red spray paint. All set.
A little more cosmetic work from in the cabin. This time the gauge cluster.
Overall not bad- I had cleaned the haze off the inside of the lenses prior to the photo above. The 12 Volt conversion had overheated and ruined the gauge electrical components and the resulting fire had left smoke damage.
As with all Lucite/acrylic/polymethylmethacrylate, a buffing wheel and some fine polish generally brings back a nice luster.
I tested the mechanical gauge- it reads well, needed a little bit of adjustment because it was not reading zero at zero.
The ammeter also responded when connecting a headlight through it, so that was checked off the list. The fuel gauge and water gauges did not work, however.
I stripped everything down. I only cleaned the face panels that go in front of the gauges because they looked fine and had a nice patina that matched the gauges themselves, which I had no replacement faces for. I didn't want to bring that up all new and fresh and have sun-faded dials behind.
With the gauges removed from the buckets, the overheating damage was evident. The buckets were only ever very hastily sprayed at the factory, so I used a little carburetor cleaner to remove the paint.
Masked off the originally masked areas and put on a new coat of the same shade white- Heirloom White, Krylon, from Walmart.
The paint on the bezel was also rather tired so I stripped it all off.
I then masked off the areas to remain chrome with fine-line tape.
That got it looking all a little bit better. Still a few pits visible in the paint but I don't think there's anything on the vehicle that is 100% perfect. I'll settle for 95% in this case.
really enjoying your posts. Great car.
More work on the gauges. The electrical gauges in this dash work on a fairly simple principle- apply a constant current to one coil and it'll center it to zero. Apply a variable current to the other, mounted at right angles and it'll affect the flux and make the core move, and in turn, the needle.
Unfortunately these are six volt gauges. Hook 'em up to 12 volts and the coil connected across the battery really won't last very long. Neither did, they both caught fire.
Looking at the construction, I decided to have a go at pulling the coils out of the frame. They undid, and the original crimped joints just pulled off.
Doesn't look too happy right there. Tested, it was open circuit.
This one was worse and all broke up as it was unwound. The heat had made the copper very brittle.
I Heath-Robinsonned a contraption together on my bench. I made a cam out of tape that went around the chuck of my twist drill, which operated a micro-switch. This activated a counter to count up how many turns of wire were wrapped around the form.
The entire length was burned to a crisp. I pulled out my micrometer and measured the thickness of the wire. 0.0072" or 33 AWG.
I did a bit of research on fine wire.
33 gauge is 206 ohms per 1000'
36 gauge is 416 ohms per 1000'
Thinking on that, 518 turns of 36AWG should see the coils working again, but for 12V instead of 6V.
That's all just rather loose theory because in practise, winding coils is more of guesswork combined with trial and error.
As it turns out I had to be corrected by someone who rewinds motors for a living- you double the resistance by halfing the wire cross-section but also then require double the turns to create the same magnetic flux.
I ordered some wire and carefully wound it back onto the form, having first stripped about the first 5 inches of its' insulating lacquer with sandpaper, where it wrapped around the form and made an electrical contact.
Tested the resistance- about double the original wire (once it was all unwound and not shorting out). Good deal. Rinse and repeat for the other coil, and get it all connected up.
Much better. Both coils are adjustable in relation to each other, to allow the gauge to be calibrated. That's a fun task, as adjusting one puts the other off balance. Applying a voltage and putting a variable resistor across the gauge made it move. Success!
I then went shopping for a replacement sender unit. That turned out to be fruitless as the early 50's GM senders have a very small range of resistance, were prone to failure and as such had all but vanished from stock.
130 Ohms for cold
60 for 180F
5 Ohms for "it's overheated, friend".
I went in search of the next best thing- a sender that is physically the same size, but more commonly available.
Cue the 1972 Chevrolet C10 pickup truck temperature sender unit. Physically the same size, with a moderately aesthetically pleasing bullet connector.
I knew it was about 1000 Ohms frigid cold, so figured I might be able to re-wind the coils to match.
At 72F room temperature it was reading about 600 Ohms. Not too bad.
Outside in the cold, about 35F it was reading 750 Ohms. That's all the way off the bottom of the scale of the gauge anyway, so I decided to see if I could first simply physically adjust the position of the coils to account for the different resistance range.
Trying with 6 volts to begin with I had little in the way of luck.
I ended up doing it properly and simply measuring the resistance versus temperature as the water heated up.
In the end, I had to rewind the coils again but got it set up natively for 12 Volts and the new sender unit... which, off the shelf for $7 at Auto Zone was a significantly better option.
Across 12 Volts, with the sender unit heated with my heat gun, a good reading was acceptable. It over-reads by about 10F at 100, but by the time it gets to 140 it's accurate all the way to 230. That's as accurate as the things ever were from the factory so I'm happy.
I rewound the fuel gauge and carefully calibrated it to the factory marks. That was simpler, but I left it at 6 Volts because the resistance wire in the gas tank can't really take twice the current through it. They're quite fragile, low resistance items. Plus, the 6V converter has an over-current protection and will shut down if a short circuit occurs so will protect the sender from being burned out if that happens.
I reassembled everything and tested it- all good to go. Much better than 4 dead gauges and a tin plate with 3 duplicates.
More on the "previous owner took it off because..." that this car arrived with. First, the driver's side headlight trim was held on with Sikaflex sealant and a screw that didn't actually fit. I'm surprised it had not fallen off to be honest.
I took the passenger side clip off and copied in it baling wire. Unfortunately, baling wire has the mechanical strength of Plasticine so needed a little heat treatment to help stiffen it up a little.
Using my propane torch I heated the formed wire up to red hot then quenched it rapidly in cold water a couple of times. This made it a lot harder to bend. I then heated it to dull cherry and let it cool slowly in the upper edge of the flame over 5 minutes or so. That gave it back some springiness.
Checked for fitment- all good. It clips in and geometrically holds itself in place.
Mo' betta. Scraped all the black sealant off and fitted it up with a more appropriate screw.
Next up, horns. The car did have a horn, but imagine the cheerful "peep peep" a pedal-car should make. Just plain wrong. I was looking for the correct horns when a friend of mine took pity and sent a pair of 1965 Impala horns. Aurally, they are the same as the originals- a low A and B. Visually they are incorrect and the brackets were all kinds of wrong for this car.
I started by drilling the brackets off.
All filed down carefully. I would have attached the brackets back on with screws but the coil and points live up in the top raised section of the case so I didn't want to be screwing through into that.
Plus, the vibration may have shaken them loose. The adjustment screws certainly had been- one didn't work when I got it and the other made a muted HOOMP noise.
I bought some metal bar at the hardware store, and set the original bracket on top.
Scribed, center punched and drilled out to match.
...and another one made. Bar heated up and bent to shape, to match the original mounting points on the firewall.
I painted them up gloss black after a thorough clean, my neighbor welded the brackets on and they work nicely now, with the right tone.
Two more off the list.
Wow! this is some seriously dedicated restoration work. Talk about in-depth. A lot of great info on the gauge rebuilds.
I started to make prep to pull the engine and transmission out to rebuild the transmission.
Metric bolts on an early 50's American car. I don't think anyone here really had much of a clue what metric even was back then. Not the original fan, mind you but it fits and moves a decent amount of air.
I started pulling the front unboltable parts off the car. The manual states to remove the engine, first remove the entire front end of the vehicle. Well, there's only me working on this so that's a no right there. The radiator aperture is wide enough for everything to come out so long as the accessories are removed.
Alternator off, battery tray out- that was a horrible thing to have in the engine compartment. The modern 12V battery is very wide compared to the original 6V design, plus they had just run bolts through the vent ducts and, just, ugh. Horrible.
Bought myself a new jack that was shallow enough to be able to fit under the car yet still have a decent full height. Also picked up an engine crane and load leveler (very very useful for this particular engine and gearbox!).
One of the previous owners the engine overhauled. In order to remove the engine through this hole, either the front clip needs to be removed or the 4 rivets that hold the stiffening cross-brace on have to be drilled and removed. Their choice was to take a Sawz-all to the cross-brace and bend it sideways out of the way. I drilled the rivets and removed the two pieces. I need to get another.
Removed the propshaft and set it aside.
A bit of heaving and swearing later saw the engine and transmission removed from the car. What a heavy old lump that is, 860 lbs together.
All the oil fell out of the transmission. It never lands in a convenient place like a catch pan, does it? At least my floor won't rust now.
I had a bit of a quandary- the firewall was horrible but there was a ghostly "5128" showing up. That's the paint code for the body, which was written on the metal of the body before it was painted. As time went by the Chinagraph fell off, taking the paint with it, leaving the numbers behind. I had already painted over a couple of areas for rust removal, and sat down thinking about what I was going to do about it.
While I was ruminating about that, I pulled the head off the engine. I wanted to get a bit of a better idea what I was dealing with. I decided not to pull the oil pan because the oil pressure was good (20psi hot idle, factory spec is 5-20psi) and the engine turned over smoothly by hand.
Both the head and the block looked pretty good, if not showing signs of having been run a bit rich.
Scrubbed the block down, carefully with a scraper. All in pretty good shape, overall. One nice thing to see is stainless steel valves and alloy pistons.
Not too much wrong with that. Maybe a little shinier than I'd have liked but the scoring was minimal. 40 thou' overbore so it was either really junked before or this is its' second rebuild.
On the positive side, the alloy pistons are a good thing. The originals were cast iron, tin plated and a lot heavier than these are. The lower mass makes less stress on the engine, and I've been told that it improves high speed cruising (60mph).
The head cleaned up nicely too, and was checked for level. Everything is true.
I was warned to inspect the coolant passage in the block. It's a folded brass tube that takes the feed of cooled water from the radiator and, via holes drilled along its length points jets of cooled water first at the exhaust valve areas of the block, from where it circulates around the cylinders then up into the head and back out to the radiator. Apparently this brass likes to disintegrate, which causes the flow of coolant to be less optimal than it should be and makes the engine prone to overheating towards the back of the block. Mine was in good condition so I cut a new gasket, applied a little sealant and re-torqued the water pump back down to the block.
I cleaned the exterior of the head and gave it an experimental coat of paint. The original color of the engine is meant to be something very close to Brunswick Green. I cannot find that color anywhere here premixed in cans, the closest being Hunter Green or Forest Green. Both of those were totally the wrong shade so I decided to go a little out of the box and painted it Deep Turquoise, following the theme of the car, which is all blues.
I reassembled it all and tested it running on the floor. It was not quite right on the timing so I pulled the distributor apart, particularly as the vacuum advance wasn't working.
Yeah, well that's not the way that should be put together. The swash plate was clamped to the vacuum advance arm with the condenser bracket. I took the condenser off to discover the screw holding it on was nearly 3/4" long.
It had been done up so tightly that it had bent the plate well up out of shape. I bashed it as flat as I could get it with a hammer but really it needs replacing.
Reassembled with the screw sawed shorter, the arm located correctly and the whole plate able to rotate. Better.
I set the valve clearances (not ideal cold but still better than not at all). That needs too many hands to do properly.
A slightly later photograph but I finished painting the engine all the same color. I think it looks good.
Your attention to detail makes following along more than-interesting, great thread.
great thread man! you're doing that Poncho a justice
this reminds me of a movie i saw a while back called "pontiac moon"....check it out!
keep it coming!
I'm trying to put things in block order, with a semblance of the correct chronology. Also trying to keep it interesting, although there's been more pictures than words because the pictures have rather been speaking for themselves. That or the pictures are in tight sequence.
There are a good number of parts to this car that are original. I had wanted to try keep them- firstly I really do not know much of the history of this vehicle at all, second if it can be repaired, why not?
The car was built at GM's Atlanta plant, coded U for '51. AU8H - the engine is stamped with the VIN which is nice, and the body plate shows it is a -D variant, the Deluxe. The ghostly 5128 on the firewall matches the body plate stamp also (plus the hidden stamps match), so it rolled off the factory floor in Starmist Blue with a navy roof.
It appears to have stayed in the Mississippi/Louisiana area most if not all of its life. Judging by the sections of the body that were not renovated, the car was run hard and then left to sit in the sun and bake for a number of years before being rescued and having some money spent on it to cheer it back up. The odometer, if it is to be believed, has rolled over and shows what I'm guessing is 103,000 miles. Looking at the wear on the odometer gears I'd say it's first roll-over.
Somebody had it as a daily ride back in 2011 because there's a sticker in the windshield for the Joint Auxiliary parking lot in Mississippi.
So, it's done fairly well but there's some moderately terminal rot beginning to set in- nothing major as the frame is good but it needs tending to. There's also a few worrying areas of bondo. I need to get myself a welding kit. It's been a while since I last did any welding, and all of that was really just stick welding so learning MIG will be fun.
My main focus is trying to get it back up into a running and driving state, where I feel I can hop in and go drive somewhere without having to worry about it. The mechanical bits have all been replaced a few times, the paint's not original nor is the interior so as far as I'm concerned it's the perfect car to use to have a bit of fun in without having to worry about dinking the original finish or ruining an otherwise pristine unopened engine.
There's more to come with the gearbox rebuild, and that will almost bring us up to the present day.
I've never had an interest in these old Pontiacs but your attention to the little details keep me coming back.
Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
Thanks for sharing all the details. Sometimes these tasks seem overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. You break each task down into simple steps. Each one beautifully executed.
great thread. really enjoying it.
Thanks for sharing
great write up Phil. Really interesting details. You appear to be comfortable around the electronic side of things. Do you have a background in this arena or engineering by chance.
By trade, "I do Internet".
I'm a network administrator at an Internet Service Provider, I press keys all day and make the Internet happen.
Electronics are a hobby of mine, something I have always enjoyed learning about. I've had to learn a number of new skills though, both electrical and mechanical. However, the engineering in this car is very "human", that is it's more art than engineering if that makes sense. You can see exactly why it's made the way it is, and often the thought process that went into the creation.
doing good - sharing helps others to learn to just think it all through as you go - do your best now, and hopefully avoid a lot of problems later
AWESOME I love it when somebody takes the time to actually REPAIR parts instead of just buying new. That my friend is the difference between a MECHANIC and a parts replacer.
That's one of the advantages of pieces designed to be put together by people- generally they figured they could be taken apart too.
Plus, where the built cost of the item is sufficient to warrant repairing it.
Sure, I could have bought a couple of new gauges but the main core of them were good, just the windings were burned.
If the bearings were bad or broken I would likely have taken a different route but I figured if I could fix it, why not?
Plus it was fun to do
A brief break from the monotony today as I made a start on tidying the roof up a little.
Brightwork on the back of the car all buffed up.
Man, there's a lot of shine to be made and I only made a small dent in it. Figuratively. No dents were made today.
I have a 49 silver streak with barely working wipers and now thanks to you i can cure the problem ! (did not know the wiper motor would come apart, THANKS,
Welcome. There is a rebuild kit available for it too, if cleaning and greasing doesn't solve it.
It takes a pair of long nose pliers to take apart, funny bolt heads.
Mine are still a bit weak so I'll be going down that route, replacing the seal internally, there's a paper gasket that seals the lid, too.
I'll try find the pictures and post up a little detail. A large portion of mine not being willing to wipe was the spindles being jammed up. If you're pulling the motor I would say to check they're free to move. There should be virtually no resistance if you pick the arms up and try to move them with say, pinky finger- even with the motor connected particularly if you open the valve to the fastest wipe position (engine off, of course).
From what I can see the maximum setting should have the wipers flail frantically at the screen and mine won't do that, they will wipe when the screen is wet but like to get stuck on dry glass.
Welcome to the H A M B & the U S A. I'm mostly a Ford guy, but, I LOVE STRAIGHT 8's. Dad drove Packards & Uncle John...Pontiacs. Years ago a Straight 8 Pontiac with split exhaust & stick shift showed up on Fri. nites from out of town and got everyone's attention. You've got a neat ride & i love it.
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