Now We’re Makin’ Progress -Sort Of

December 31, 2011

Some folks like to know exactly where they’re going, before they ever start.  Few Great Racers are like that, though – and I’m no exception.  Indeed, I suspect that one of the things I like best about this game is just that, its open-ended quality.  Well, when I set out to make a new Great Racer car, do you think the entire project was well-defined, fully planned, and carefully laid out before the first step was taken.  Ha!

When last we left our heroes: Chief Tolerating Officer (CTO) Sue, Chief Co-Conspirator (CCC) Dave, and Chief Realitization Officer (CRO) Bob, plus yrs trly Chief Envisioning/Enabling Officer (CEEO) me (John); we had acquired a wooden-wheeled 32 Buick chassis from Pat ‘n’ Pat, designed a body on paper, and acquired a collection of old car body parts from which to produce most of a speedster shell for said chassis.  Full speed ahead, according to plan, right?  Wrong: see Paragraph 1.

In fact, the vision requires wire wheels, and we discovered that the Pat ‘n’ Pat chassis has demountable rim type wheels that do NOT interchange with wire wheels of the same vintage (which attach to real hubs via a circle of studs and nuts, just as God Himself intended).  What to do?  We could press on regardless, but another opportunity presented itself in the form of another ’32 Buick chassis with… wire wheels!  OK, it came with a whole body, more or less, and it was in Ohio, but Hey…  Did I mention that it was a Project Car, started about 10 years ago because the owner didn’t like the color?  So it was disassembled and primed (sort of) and then stored for later completion.  Most of it survived the fire that consumed its storage building, but it’s now most of a Project Car.  But the chassis survived, so what to do?  See paragraph 1.  Here’s a picture of this new component of the project, as advertised on the MIAS (Main Internet Auction Site, aka EBay – can we say that?  Probably a trademark).


Wire-Wheeled Chassis (and a Load of Parts)

This was shipped direct to the scene of the crime a-borning, Ensign Autobody, where CRO Bob removed the extraneous bits (all came home to an inventory revealing just a few bits less than a full Project Car, due to time and fire).  This is a fully optioned example!  Unlike the Pat ‘n’ Pat chassis, this one has driver-adjustable, fully mechanical shock absorbers!  Yes – links and levers connect each shock to a control on the dashboard!  This car also has a Power Clutch (it’s in the owner’s manual – I don’t make this stuff up):  a nightmarish looking system of vales and links and bellows that purports to work the clutch FOR YOU at shift time!  Cool!  But perhaps not suited to a Great Racer, where reliability is useful.

The going-in plan was to swap axles with the Pat ‘n’ Pat chassis, which until recently had a known runner of an engine (in November, it had mysteriously stopped firing for reasons as yet undetermined).  With his magic measuring machine, he discovered that the Pat ‘n’ Pat chassis was a bit bent and had multiple repair welds in it.  A quick check of the new one showed it to be true and clean, so after an anxious consultation, the plan changed (see Paragraph #1).  CRO Bob would do an engine swap and with it swap all the complex optional bits from the new chassis to the wooden-wheeled one.  Here’s a snap of both side-by-side in the O.R., just before the multi-organ transplant.


Side-by-Side Chassis (or is it Chassises?)

The new one even has better tires (though we’ll get new Cokers before we’re done).  The (newly revised) plan is for me to take the surviving chassis and focus on the mechanical conditioning & initial fender weld-up, while CRO Bob builds the body core on the up-graded Pat ‘n’ Pat chassis in parallel.  Then we’ll merge the two in Spring as the Speedster, and sell the remainder as a ’32 Project Car!

At this point we could begin to plot out the bodywork in earnest, and I acquired a nice ’35 Buick cowl, hood and doors to help.  Why a ’35?  The design calls for an unbroken sweep of line from hood and through cowl into the doors and boattail.  Our 32, typical of most cars of the era, has a flare at the cowl, tying together a narrow hood with a wider body.  Nope no good.  The 35 has the smooth shape we need and the longer hood, too.  Of course, lots of details are different, like how if mounts to the chassis, but we’ll figure that out.  Here’s a first fit of the 35 cowl (look closely at the X’s and lines fingered into the dust on its side – that’s where we’ll cut to drop this cowl about 4-5 inches).

1935 Cowl - Trial Fit

If a picture is worth a thousand words (hence the rise of the internet and demise of bookstores), then a 3-D object is worth a million.  In discussing the plan and how the body bits might best be constructed, especially the complex boattail segment; I decided to make a model to work from (sometimes a picture just doesn’t do it).  Here’s a mini-montage of its construction so far, the fuselage – fenders must wait til after the Holidays.  It’s made of a wooden frame, with a foam body core, sheathed in clay; all more-or-less to scale at 1/25, allowing use of WIRE wheels from some old plastic kit of yore.

The Model Builder Strikes: Wood, Foam, & Clay

Building A Skin, Like Forensic Reconstruction!


Some Views of The Model (Still Fenderless) See Especially Boattail Details!

The good news is: I LIKE it!  Even the color.  The bad news is, well, there really isn’t any bad news – this is looking good!

Now, the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a subtle change in the drawing used to make this model.  If not, you can take this time to go back and look at it again.  I’ll wait.

You’re back!  Great – didja see it or didja have to go back to the previous posts to compare to earlier drawings?  Aha – I thought so.  Well, no matter.  The newer drawing here, has different FENDERS.  Yes, having acquired – at no small cost – a minor collection of fenders (MG-A rears for our front pontoons and 39-40 Chevy rears for our rear pontoons); I changed course (see paragraph #1).  One of the Chevy fenders, though marked “’39 Chevy” was different from all the others, with a faster sweep-down and more pointed tip.  I LIKE it!  A little digging revealed that it’s really a ’37-’38 Chevy fender.  Very nice, and indeed, this is the very shape I first used for the design of the rear pontoons!  Well, what’s good for the goose (rear) is good for the gander (front), and so I fitted the same fender there (cut differently to suit).  With a slight rotation (5 degrees) from the original, to give a little more kick-up at the trailing ends, these look even better than the originals, so the Plan has Changed (refer to paragraph #1).  I found five more ’37-’38 fenders so far, but as of now, I have four rights and just two lefts.  Oh, and a large pile of now surplus MG-A bits.  Any takers?

There’s lots to do now, with metal cutting and welding beginning.  Next post should be quite significant, progress-wise.  Happy Holidays – see ya next year!



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