Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Log 2

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...AUTO REPAIR CONTENTS PAGE
(click image for story or picture)

Van link

 

 

    A 1971 vehicle would certainly qualify as a classic, if not an antique. But not all vehicles of age qualify for this distinction. They're just plain "old." My van qualifies for the last category. No matter what I do to it, it would still just be an old van, not even listed in an insurance company's blue book. I see it as treasure, they see it as junk. Here's a few things I did to my treasure to make it, in my mind, a luxury vehicle.

    Click the image and it will take you to the van.

 

 


After

 

 
    Here is indeed a true classic. What you're looking at is a 1964 Dodge Dart, GT, 4 on the floor, slant 6, hard top convertible. This is a car that's truly a pleasure to drive. The picture you're looking at is after I restored it. No, I didn't make a mistake, this is after I restored the car... 20 years after.

    The Dart had been sitting under a tree for three years because it was given a ticket for smoking, and the owner didn't have the money (or the desire) to fix it. I spent 9 months taking every nut and bolt off the car and either replaced it or painted it blue of black. Even under the car was treated this way. 

    I made a booboo with my efforts to prepare the parts for reassembly. I marked the ends of everything I took off with masking tape, indicating where it goes and which end goes up. My error was that masking tape never comes off after a long time, and the ink I used was not water proof. After the winter all I had was pieces of car with no markings and dried glue I had to sand off to prepare for painting.

     The shell of a once fine automobile you see in the picture was finished to the "nth" degree when I was finished with it. I made a new headliner for it, and I even took the gauges apart and painted the dial of the gauges. Since the body of the car was a unibody there were areas I couldn't reach with paint, in those places I poured Rustolium after washing out the area as best as possible, or I fogged the area with spray paint, hoping for the best. All weatherstripping and rubber bumpers were replaced if needs be.

 
Dart under hood thm.jpg
    Although it looks bad here, you can get some idea of its appearance when it was first restored.
   Unlike the rest of the car, I didn't remove the block. I tore down the engine as it sat in the engine compartment, and I used a ridge reamer and a hone on the cylinders, I didn't rebore the cylinders. Then I installed standard rings, hoping for the best. The "best" turned out to be 20 years of service from that engine, with full compression in all the cylinders, with one beginning to show low show low compression at the end of the car's run.
Dart with rack thm.jpg    Since I used the car for my art business, it not intending to be a show piece kept in storage somewhere, I had to take out the back seat and make it into a carpeted bed for use in carrying my art and display stands. I also had to build racks for the car with this purpose in mind. This I'm sure had a lot to do with the body rusting as it did, the racks wearing on the paint.
   While speaking of paint, you may have noticed the abundance of rust-colored paint, especially on the roof and the trunk of the car. This is Rustolium, that even though over many years (mostly of inactivity, it not being insured during that time), and no protective paint over the primer, the rusted area were halted from rusting any farther, and the paint held out all that time. A great product for us of the poorer set.


Before end

 


    The Dart before the racks were installed. The storage bin is where I did my framing and stored my framing material. It was my office, and later under new ownership, it became my home. I was living in my car parked across the street from the storage business when the lady who managed it asked me if I'd like to park on the premises, her being single and alone, thereby giving her some sense of protection. Also she offered to give me free rent on my storage space if I would occasionally clean out the empty bins and clear out the bins that were vacated This was an especially good arrangement for me.

   More on this aspect of my life (this section turning into an autobiography so it seems) in the Art Display section.

 

 


Falcon before

 


    This, believe it or not, is the "before" of my next restoration job.

    For a period of about a year I was on what they called Welfare. Welfare in this case not merely the doling out of money for doing nothing, at least mot for single men. I worked for the state for a few hours a week at minimum wage for the money alloted me, which was just enough to allow me to live on the streets without starving to death. What I made on my own, I reported, and my "welfare" was reduced accordingly. One man on welfare along with me was a trained engineer, of which there was an overabundance at the time. He was "over qualified" for any other job, therefore unable to work. I find this interesting since I've never been seen to be over qualified for anything, even sweeping streets.

    They had me working in the office the days I worked, right along side the social workers (rather than watching or cleaning the parking lot and such, as they had the overqualified engineer doing). This, my working in the office, was a no-no since only the social workers hired by the state were allowed to see the personal records of the clients.

    Life is interesting to those who take the time to observe it as it passes. I began to sell my art work and framing to the social workers I worked with. Over time I was selling so many prints, framing pictures, and acquiring commissions (two of which can be seen in my art department) that I was reporting so much income that I didn't need to draw welfare, and that income coming from the social workers. One day an edict "happened" to come down from the head office that there would be no more selling of art on the premises. No names were mentioned, just a blanket order. How interesting.

    Anyway, back to the subject of restoring cars. One of the workers knew I had restored a car and asked me if I would restore his, and he would furnish me a place to live (my living on the streets at that time). I accepted. The problem was that he had no room, living in a small apartment that at one time had been a corner grocery store. But he had a root cellar that was accessed through a large trap door in the bathroom. I revamped this dirty, windowless, underground pit into a bedroom, using plastic to cover all the dirt walls, and lumber to build me a bed, and old thrown-out carpet for a floor (on top of the plastic everywhere). The trap door had to remain shut so my "landlord" could have access to his bathroom. If the trap door was to ever become blocked, I would be trapped in a windowless, airless tomb. It's a good thing I don't have claustrophobia along with all my other phobias.

    What you see in the picture above is what I had to work with. The car had remained in that condition for many years, just being stored away, not really expecting to be made into anything usable, much like my Dart had been.

 


Falcon dash

 

 
    After giving the Ranchero (Falcon) a though cleaning, I pulled it into the garage and began to work on it. In these pictures you can see what it was turning into.

 


Falcon front end

 

 
    Like with the Dart, everything was painted. It mattered not if the part was seen, it was treated the  same as if it was to be the highlighted part of an exquisitely displayed automobile. This is just my nature. I'm not a perfectionist, otherwise I would be driven crazy trying to do what I'm incapable of. But I do have high standards, in some areas of my life too high to attain to. But when it comes to such projects as these described in this Handyman's section, I can feel satisfied that I've reached the goal I set out for. Maybe that's why I like the crafts, my goal is within my reach.

 


Falcon rear end

 


    About the time I was nearing completion of what you see in these pictures, my landlord contracted throat cancer. I then ceased to be a mechanic and became more of a caregiver without recompense. I would take him to the hospital, some 25 miles from where we lived and wait for him to finish his checkups or whatever, and run errands and the like. Once I came home and found him head first in the tub where he had fallen some two hours before. Luckily there was no water in the tub at that time. This went on for several months, and then he died.

   He had a brother who lived nearby who owned 5 Mercedes dealerships. John would talk a lot about his big brother that he was so proud of, but I never saw nor heard of him otherwise, even when John was next to dying. Then when John died, the brother showed up and took me to dinner. He raved about how he appreciated all I had done for his brother (that he should have been doing), then proceeded to sell the car I had spent so much time and effort on to a junk dealer for $200 dollars without even offering to sell it to me.

    How does that saying go again "Words are cheap"?


 


Falcon gas tank

 
    I sometimes wonder what happens to the things I fix up, then they depart my hands. As for the Dart, I sold it to a friend who fixed it up, not as a classic, but as a usable automobile. He's enjoying it now (or was last I heard) and that means a lot to me. I have neither the funds to fix it, nor the room to keep it, nor for that matter the money to insure it. I was offered twice the amount I sold it for, and that would have been giving it away. But I'd rather the vehicle go to someone who will use it and appreciate it than to make money from it and it go to pot. I have no doubt but the friend who gave me my van felt the same way, and I suspect he's glad I respect the gift and do all I can to add to its value. It was his concern for me living out of my car that caused him to consider my having the van, and it's been a lifesaver for me in more ways than one.


 
 

 


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