Friday, June 4, 2010

Starting Teardown

The parts truck was good practice for disassemble. It is all in pieces and ready to sell what is useful. I have started to disassemble the good truck, taking lots of pictures and keeping a journal seperated by sub-areas. Notes and drawings are made so that I can put it back together properly.

On the subject of fabrication: I originally planned on fabricating replacement parts myself but I found out that the truck is made with thicker sheet metal than I can afford for machinery. Some parts are 12 and 14 gauge metal and the inexpensive combo machines from Harbor Freight etc. will not work for metal over 20 gauge. I found a sheet metal shop that will fabricate the larger parts and supply the metal I need to patch the bottom of the cowl. The cost is aprox. one fourth what it would cost to buy a sheer and brake. I found plans for a homemade brake on the internet and by combining a few designs I plan on building my own so I can build the pieces for the floor boards.

On the subject of welding: I want to do my own welding. There is not much, mainly the bottom of the cowl, the bottom of the door posts, and the floor boards. I also plan on building side supports for the cargo bed. After much reading of books and the internet I am looking for a mig welder in the 180 size range, probably the millermatic 180. It appears that gas welding gives a better bead than flux core and the larger machine can actually be controlled better than the smaller machines. It also has the ability of doing alluminum with a wire spool gun. I have plenty of scrap to play with and the resell value is high if I decide to sell it afterwards.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parts and Info

Now that I had a large piece of yard art I needed to get bus figuring out how to put it back together. I started by assessing what was good and bad.

To start, the mechanicals were in great shape. Major concerns were the holy radiator, the vacuum fuel pump had been disconnected, and the starter/generator kept blowing the fuse.

Next the frame and suspension which were rusty, were solid.

The sheet metal was mostly rotted along the floor but solid above 4".

The roof was gone, but the frames and some of the roof slats were good.

The cab sides were OK but needed replacing.

The wood in the doors was still good and the windows still worked.

I needed a seat.

Some of the gauges needed to be replaced.

I needed a steering wheel.

The tires were rotted and not road ready.

This is a partial list of the problems which need to be dealt with. A new post will cover each area as it is dealt with.

I now started hunting for pictures and parts. Pictures so I new what I should look like when I am done, and parts to do it with. I started keeping a sharp eye on EBay and the only Graham Brothers web site for parts. This is when I wished that I had bought a Model T. While parts are available, they are not common.

Gradually the parts came in. Hood latches, steering wheel, gauges, and hand crank. The best finds were the sales brochures and magazine ads showing the different models that were available. In a 1921 cabs and bodies catalog I found the body I would build. I will marry the 1921 model 2010 canopy body with my 1925 model 205 cab. While this is not a real factory option I prefer the wood sided older body style to the newer metal clad style.

Wheels and tires became the big problem. I never saw a listing for my size. Then I saw the listing for a parts truck. The wheels and tires were the right size plus there were two extra.
There also appeared to be some other parts that I could use so I won the auction and drove to western Ohio and picked it up and was chased home by a snow storm.

At the beginning of this blog I talked about irreplaceable parts. I did not realize it when I started but I was missing one. The dash light which is made of soft aluminum was broken and the one time I saw one on EBay it sold for a lot more than I dreamed. When I got home with the parts truck I realized that it had a perfect dash light. So for less than the price of one new tire I now have three whole wheels and the last missing piece of interior hardware. I also have spare parts for the brakes and transmission.

The parts truck also gives me a test bed for dismantling and storing parts properly.

The body will require some special hardware that I will either fabricate myself or have made but that is for a later post.

In the beginning

This project started when my wife decided that we were going to take the kids to Luray Caverns in Virginia. For those people who do not know about Luray, it is a tourist oriented cavern with easy trails and guided tours. They also have an antique car museum. The caverns are large, cool, interesting, and full of people. It is not set up for stopping and contemplating interesting formations. The museum is small, crammed full of cars and memorabilia, not very crowded, and you can stare at stuff as long as you want. Luray also has a large hedge maze which is good for kids when dad won't leave the museum.

In the truck display area there is a Dodge Brothers screenside delivery truck painted as a "paddy wagon" and a couple of Model T delivery trucks. The Dodge Brothers truck is tucked into a corner so that you cannot see it very well and I did not pay much attention to it but the Model Ts were situated so that you could get a good inside. And the insides are all wood.

So I stopped and studied the trucks and the little voice in the back of my head started getting louder saying " I can do that".

On the way home I talked to my wife about the trucks and how it would be a neat project to do with the boys in the future. I envisioned that it would be a very expensive proposition with parts being hard to find so the idea was filed under "someday" and forgotten. A few weeks later I was playing on the Internet and googled Model T truck. There are owners clubs, specialty junk yards, new replacement part manufacturers, and all sorts of resources for restoring Model Ts. The surprising thing was how cheap it was. I was looking at under $5000 for a running Model T truck that I could use for parades, advertising my business, and general fun. The "someday" project was moved to "soon" project status and I started doing serious research.

Now I am a professional woodworker and can build anything from wood (cabinets, furniture, signs etc. ) and I have a shop set up to do so. You can see some of my work on The woodworking part was not a worry but the mechanical part I was not sure about so I did the most important part of my research. I talked to friends and acquaintances who did know about old cars. The consensus was that I was mechanical enough to do the job and if I had any problems they would be happy to help. So the search was on for a suitable Model T and information on restoring antique trucks.

My search criteria was:

1. The engine and drive train had to run.

2. Any sheet metal or wood that was bad must at least be good enough for a pattern.

3. No oddball unreplacable parts were missing. You can get replacement headlights easy but door hinges might be harder to find or expensive to have made.

Where I looked:

1. Google. There are owners clubs and junk yards that sell trucks and parts over the Internet

2. Hemming Motor News. This is also a good reference for restoration services and generic parts.

3. Local antique car clubs.

4. Friends of Friends of Friends. It amazing how Joe has a friend Bob who knows someone who has an old truck in a barn.

5. EBay. EBay has surpassed most owners clubs for the quantity of parts listed but you have to keep a constant lookout for the parts you need. Most EBay auctions are only for a week or two and then they disappear. Owners club sites usually list parts until they are sold and the seller removes the listing. Owner clubs listings are also usually by fellow enthusiasts so they are likely more knowledgeable about the condition of what they are selling.

6. Library and bookstores. Most of the print information that I could find was directed toward restoring muscle cars of the 50s thru 70s. Out of all the books I read the only one I bought was "Sheet Metal Fabrication, techniques and tips for beginners and pros" by Eddie Paul, I have also found Vintage Truck Magazine to be helpful.

So the hunt was on. I was convinced that I would by a Ford Model TT truck, buy replacement sheet metal as needed and do all the woodworking myself, so I limited my search to Model T owners clubs and looked for a restorable chassis with working drive train. I also sent off for a catalog from a company that specializes in Model T replacement parts. Then I saw a listing for a 1925 Graham Brothers 1 1/2ton truck. My last name is Graham. I had never heard of Graham Brothers Trucks. The picture showed a truck that was much larger than a Ford Model TT. Interesting.

I started to search and found out that the Graham Brothers started out making kits to convert the family car into a farm truck. Mostly for Ford and Dodge but also for other cars. Ford started building the TT so the Graham Brothers partnered with the Dodge Brothers and using Dodge parts created the first truck division of Dodge. 3/4 ton trucks were sold with a Dodge label, like the screenside truck I had seen and ignored at Luray, and larger commercial oriented trucks were sold under the Graham Brothers label. The more I looked the more I liked the Graham Brothers truck over the Ford. It is beefier, has a very large rear end, very large tires, very large (manual ) brakes, And the suspension was fore and aft springs as opposed to Fords buggy style springs. I showed the listing to my wife and she smiled. She knows my "I can do that" look. I called the owner and found out that the truck did run. There was enough of the cab wood to use for patterns. The cab metal was rusted out but again, there was enough for patterns. There was no bed so I could build what I wanted for the back. And it cost less than a non running Model TT chassis. So one fine October weekend my younger son and I hooked up the trailer and drove to Illinois for a truck that looked like it should be in the dump.

We met the owner and he showed us the 1 ton "G-Boy" that he was restoring and I took pictures of how the cab was supposed to look when it was back together. Then he pulled out my truck. We started it and ran it back and forth. The radiator had holes so we did not run it for long but it started easy and ran smoothly. We pushed it onto the trailer, strapped it down, said our goodbyes, and headed back home. An antique truck on a trailer does not get a second look in Ohio but near Washington DC it was an oddity and got lots of stares from passing cars. When we got home I was able to start the truck and drive it off the trailer and gave the brakes there first real test. My wife laughed as I drove around the back yard looking like Jed Clampett.

Now the work begins.

The original ad pictures