Finish this Project in 80 Days – in Time to Start?

March 27, 2012

Well, it’s really 88 days before the Great Race starts, as of today, but I figure we need a week to tune it and get to Michigan!  This has been a finger-biting month for me.  Even though progress is evident, we’re definitely behind where I hoped and thought we’d be by now.  Bob & Chuck at Ensign’s swear they’ve done the trickiest parts of the coachbuilding, but to the untrained eye, it still looks like far less in the past 100 days than we still have to do in the remaining 80!  Here’s the schedule, since mid-March (dark is done, yellow is late, generously figured from mid-month, not the project start):

Schedule: 80 days to Go!

Now, I admit that part of the slippage might be my fault.  The guys at Ensign are artists, or they would never have agreed to take this on, working only from my sketches!  Those sketches are just that, and they don;t always EXACTLY match reality, especially as we are re-purposing old panels, not banging the body out from scratch.  For instance, in my first profile sketch, I showed the hood tapering vertically from cowl to hood, even as it narrowed side-to-side.  In fact, the ridge runs parallel to the side hinges that I sketched as true horizontal lines.  A more recent update to the profile sketch shows the difference:

Higher Realistic Hood on Left, Original Sketch Right: Can You See the Difference?

So, like any good artist would do, Bob picked one line and ran with it.  He picked the raked ridge line.  Trouble is, that made the shoulder hinge line and the speed strakes on the hood sides TILTED, and there was no space to blend to the horizontal band on the door!  I stamped my feet and The hood was raised 1.5 inches, to make the shoulders level.  Trouble is, Bob was greatly pained by that proud prow, as it looked to him as if the the ridge ran down, not up, to the cowl.  Creative tension at its best!  We compromised after a few days of circling, and the shell went back down by 5/8″ to ease the transitions in both planes.  Fortunately, welds can be ground out.  But to be sure, that set us back a bit & not just in the sheet metal work: the shell position had to be set before the hood center hinge could be sent out to plating and before the radiator dimensions could be finalized (this baby needs a custom radiator made!).

On the other hand, a lot of the things we need to get from elsewhere are now in hand: all the bright bits, from headlights to door handles are collected, and those needing it (27 pieces) off to Grave Plating to be made shiny as new.  We have two sets of gauges.  We have seats.  We have a whole pile of those rare ’37 & ’38 Chevy fenders that will become our pontoons.  We have the magic carburetors (just Wait til you see those!) and the manifolds are underway.  The wire wheels will be off to refinishing tomorrow.  Unfortunately, we DON’T have a title document yet (I bought the chassis from a snowbird – he’s not due back up North where he THINKS the papers are, until mid-May! We’ll see…).   Of course, we could register it as a salvage rebuild, but I’d rather go the easier way: there isn’t time for arguing with Motor Vehicles AFTER this is all together!

And there has been some visible progress on the body.  Compare these images from January to now:

Surely You Can See Progress: March 27 on Left, January 14 Right

That’s unfair, though!  Really a LOT has been done.  The wood work you see in the left image means the doors have been made and hung and fitted – no small trick.  Note the sedan cowl has been cut away and a new ash-wood hoop formed for its extension into the roadster type.  The ’35 hood sides have been trimmed and edged.  The cowl cut-downs have been welded and smoothed.  And the shell and hood have been massaged into agreement, mostly.  Here are some detail views:

New Ash Work & Shell Mods

The Cowl Gap & New Firewall (STEEL)

No doubt everything WILL be done in time!  Careful readers may have noted a new face in the March Progress view, a few paragraphs above.  The Saintly Sue came and saw where our retirement funds have been going, for the first time today.  She says she can’t see the car in the parts yet, but she did let me come home with her again!  One can’t be sad about that.

Back in the Motor Barn at Pennywise Plantation, the REAL chassis is getting its work done, too.  That also got off to a slow start because it’s been wintry here in Upstate New York – and the Motor Barn has no Heat!  We got lucky with little snow, though, so we have gotten in a few days work.  The mechanical brakes were bound up from the painting of the frame assembly (and one misplaced support arm); and they’re all cleaned and prepped now.  The induction and exhaust are off and the replacements are under construction, too.  It’s up on blocks and covered now, as those 18-inch wire wheels are off, getting a bath and a coat of silver powdercoat paint!

I’ll try to post more often, now as I expect the changes will be more apparent week-to-week.  The registration is paid.  The hotels are booked.  Vacation is OK’d from the Day Job.  We GOTTA get ‘er done in time!  jc.

4 comments about “Finish this Project in 80 Days – in Time to Start?”

  • Looks about how much work me and Robert Dinges had to do to my ’16 Hudson back in 2006 with 80 days to go. The paint was still drying when the transporter picked it up to take it to Philadelphia.

  • Wanting to know from Mansfield what roads are you taking. just wanting to know if you will going through Carey,Oh. on Findlay St. which will be 568 on the west side of Carey.

    • Carey, Ohio, is not on the list. Come see us at noon on Saturday, June 30, in downtown Mansfield at the Carousel.

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