Posts Tagged With: restoration

Pretty Much a Perfect Afternoon

This afternoon my son, Ryan, and I headed up to Minneapolis to check out the car show at the Nokomis Block Party. We met up with Joel and his son, Liam, there.  I had hoped we’d find a Dodge similar to ours there. It would be ideal to see another one so we could see what a restored Dodge looks like and to find out more about resources for ours. But we didn’t find any Dodges at this show. There were many very cool cars, though, and several from about the same vintage as ours. We got to talk to a few of the owners and make some connections – AND see cool cars! – so the car show was well worth the trip. I took many pictures and will post them later on.

After the show we headed over to Joel’s house to hang out and see the Dodge. Joel has been hard at work, as usual, and updated us on all the work he’s done. He pulled out the front seat so he could rip out the carpeting and get a good look at the floor. The floor is rusty in the front but pretty solid in the back. He also pulled out the brake, clutch and accelerator pedals (but I honestly can’t remember why – Joel, you’ll have to comment and fill us in). There are some broken things to replace and I know Joel tracked down one of the parts and headed out to get it just a couple of hours ago.

So what else did we do? Well, we started up the Dodge, of course, and let her run for a bit. It was kinda a challenge to start her up without pedals or a front seat but Joel made due. Ryan and Liam sat in the back seat and had fun being part of the action. At one point, Liam pretending to step on the accelerator and “start” the Dodge on his own. I took a video of all three of them sitting in the Dodge and starting her up and will upload that soon. For now, I will post a picture. The “boys” sure look like they are having fun!


Liam, Ryan and Joel having fun in the Dodge

After starting the Dodge and hearing her engine idle (first time I’ve really heard her run for any length of time. It is loud. It sounds wonderful), I finally got a chance to polish some chrome. I chose a piece of interior trim to polish. I tell you, it’s the best thing to see how quickly the chrome shines up. See the before and after pictures below.


Door trim before polishing


Door trim after polishing

Ryan wanted to get involved, too, so he and I worked together on the front grill and bumper for awhile. Then I took Liam for a wagon ride and Ryan followed along on Liam’s little bike. Joel kept working on cleaning up the Dodge.


Ryan had fun polishing the bumper and grill

Wagon ride done, we spent some time looking at the interior trim  and the door panels.  All of the metal appears to be painted a warm brown with faux woodgrain. The interior fabric is a warm tan in two different fabrics – one striped  and the other not. I believe all of the tan fabric is mohair and the trim fabric is faux leather in a rich brown. Once my schedule settles down a bit, I’m planning to paint some practice panels to see if I can replicate the woodgrain to our satisfaction. If so, maybe this winter I’ll start to tackle the interior window trim. We’ll see. As for recovering the seats, I think that project will wait awhile. The rear seat is oh so perfect even though it’s really worn. It’s hard to think of ripping it apart and redoing it just now. And, frankly, we don’t have enough cash sitting around to start that  project.


Interior shot showing both kinds of fabric and the faux wood trim around the window. Also note the little switch near the door – we think this is for the interior light near the rear window but are not sure.

Interior inspection complete, we polished and cleaned a bit more, hung out and talked Dodge project a bit, and then it was time to for Ryan and I to head on home.

All in all, it was pretty much a perfect afternoon.

Categories: 1947 Dodge Club Coupe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thursday Dodge Work Day

I’m making Thursdays my Dodge Work Days. Joel has Thursdays off of work so I’m just going to plan to head over to his house and help out. I wish that I could get over to Joel’s to help out more often – I am pretty envious that he has the Dodge right there in his garage and can work on it any time – but Joel’s garage is the right place for the Dodge. And, even though I’m not there in person most of the time, Joel is doing an excellent job of keeping me in the loop of what is going on via text messages, phone calls and his great blog posts.

So yesterday I headed over to Joel’s figuring I might get good and dirty polishing chrome or something. It turned out that our work day turned into more of a making connections and hanging out sort of day – but that’s all right.


Proof that I really have done work on the Dodge.

First, we went out to the garage and spent some time just looking at the Dodge and trying to figure out what we should do next. There are so many options that it’s overwhelming. Our older brother, Don, planned to come over later on and help Joel with some engine work so we didn’t want to do that. We could polish chrome, our original plan, or pull out the carpet. Or lots of other things.

After some talking and much leaning on the front fender and looking under the hood, Joel went to start her up. The engine would turn and turn but wouldn’t kick over. So with Joel in the driver’s seat and his son, Liam, smiling next to him, I poured a small amount of gas into the carb while Joel pressed the start button.

And….the Dodge started….and ran….for a very short second or two!

Joel has seen and heard the Dodge start several times now but this was my first and let me tell you, it was exciting to have everything work together for that moment in time. But it was over soooo quickly. So what to do next?

We decided to buy some parts like a carburetor rebuild kit and some hoses. So we headed in to do some research on where to get them. And we both got distracted (just a bit), and ended up looking online at places that restore classic cars and we found there is a classic car restoration place just a few blocks from Joel’s house. So we changed our plans and decided to walk to the shop and give Liam a wagon ride in the process.

I find that talking to people is the best way for me to gather information. Here’s the cool thing, on our short walk to visit one shop, we ended up meeting people and getting more information than we set out to find. On our short walk we discovered:

  • Joel’s neighbor who was out cleaning his garage floor (sure sign of a car guy) is into Muscle Cars.
  • The shop we found on the internet, South Side Automotive, specializes in GM restorations and repairs but the owner knows of a Dodge guy who can help us
  • We visited Hiawatha Cyclery because, well, it was right across the street and both Joel and I like bikes. We talked bikes for awhile and had fun. We will visit again.
  • We stopped into Recovering Room, a little upholstery shop, to ask if they do automobile upholstery. Mavis, the owner, said she does not but she knows a couple of people who do.

So, visits done, we went back to Joel’s and talked about going to a shop to buy parts but Liam needed a little rest so we ended up watching some how-to videos about how to replace a headliner. And then we looked online at fabric choices for when we get to the point of doing the seats, headliner and door panels. And realized that we have a lot of work ahead of us. But we knew that.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to head home. I realized that I never really did any work on Dodge Work Day. But, you know what, that’s okay. Why? Well, the Dodge project is more about just getting the Dodge running and restored. You see, I haven’t spent this much time with my little brother in ages and can’t remember a day that the two of us just got to hang out together. So this Dodge Work Day, even though I didn’t get dirty or polish any chrome, was very much worthwhile because I spent it with my nephew, Liam, and my little brother, Joel.


Nice view of the lovely, curved, rear window.

Just a note: Joel did get out and buy some parts. Our brother, Don, did in fact stop over and told Joel he needed to adjust the Dodge’s points. Today Joel sent me several video clips of the Dodge running pretty smoothly for an old car that hasn’t run in about 20 years. Joel plans to rebuild the carburetor after work tonight. I predict he’ll write a blog post about all this in the wee hours of the morning so you will know the details.

Categories: 1947 Dodge Club Coupe | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interior Clean Up … and a rat surprise

Later today I’m heading over to Joel’s to do some work on the Dodge.  I’m not entirely sure what we’re going to work on but last we talked Joel mentioned there is a lot of chrome we could polish so I’m guessing we’ll do that. But, maybe we’ll just look at all of the things Joel’s been working on this past week, like the cool light he discovered on the dash. Or maybe we’ll just press the starter button and listen to the Dodge fire. Or turn on the headlights. Or try to put the motor back together. Or…

There are so many great options – but whatever we decide to do, I know we’ll have fun just like we did last Saturday when we tackled the interior of the Dodge to see if could clean it up a bit.

First off, Joel and I decided to take off the seat covers and see what was underneath. The fabric underneath (some people have suggested the fabric might be mohair) is a nice tan trimmed with a darker brown vinyl-type fabric. They really are nice looking, except for the fact that there are some rips and the fabric is so fragile that it rips easily.

Under the seat covers, the fabric appears to be in decent shape. We found it to be ripped in some places and very fragile.

Under the seat covers, the fabric appears to be in decent shape. We found it to be ripped in some places and very fragile.

We got to vacuuming the seats when Joel said something like, “Hey Myrn,”

“Yep,” I replied over the roar of the shop vac.

“I’m thinking maybe we should remove the headliner today.”

That surprised me a little. Removing the headliner was definitely on our to-do list but we hadn’t planned to do it that day.

Then Joel pointed out something pretty obvious that we somehow missed. The headliner was sagging and it appeared to be sagging because it was full of stuff. What kind of stuff was up in the roof of the Dodge we weren’t exactly sure  but one thing did become clear – If we removed the headliner, whatever it was that was making the fabric sag was going to fall all over the seats we were carefully vacuuming. And we’d have to vacuum them all over again.  We quickly realized that it made good sense to remove the headliner right then.

Joel analyzing the state of the headliner

Joel analyzing the state of the headliner

“Okay let’s do it.” I said. So we removed the front seat to save it from the stuff that was sure to fall. Then Joel got out his pocket knife, I took out my iPhone to video the process, and Joel made a swift cut to the headliner and….a massive explosion of stuff  landed on the floorboards of the Dodge.

In the mess we found:

  • the skull of a small rodent
  • shreds of insulation-filled paper from in between the headliner and the roof
  • tiny scraps of paper, most of which appeared to be Bible literature (our Grandpa was a Gideon who gave away Bibles and had Bible literature around – we found a complete pamphlet in another part of the car earlier in the day)
  • lots and lots of rat and mouse droppings

and, my favorite find that made me scream when I scooped it up with my (thankfully gloved) hands to put in the trash bag

  • a rather large, very dead, fairly well preserved rat


For the next couple of hours,  we continued to remove the headliner, saved swatches of the fabric, removed the scraps of stuff we found, did a lot of vacuuming, put the front seat back in and vacuumed some more.

The Dodge looks much nicer now, and smells nicer, too, with the headliner and debris removed and a blanket thrown over the front seat. We know we’ll have to reupholster the seats at some time and replace the headliner. But, for now, we’re good to go.

Looks pretty decent with  the headliner removed

Looks pretty decent with the headliner removed

Looks nice enough to take it for a spin

Looks nice enough to take it for a spin

Categories: 1947 Dodge Club Coupe | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Cleared for take off.

It’s the little things in life that excite me.

Today, I bought the Dodge a brand new 6 volt battery. I eagerly raced home and wired it in… more on that in a minute.

I have been systematically testing the electrical system for the last week with a dead 12 volt battery coupled with a battery charger in the place of a proper 6 volt. It created positive results.

The starter would click, the horn would try to honk, the headlights would pop on in an extremely subdued but promising glow, the tail lights in a similar manner. Electrical in this car needs some TLC, but the fact that anything still works in a 66 year old is testament to how well cars were made ‘way back then.’

But today was different. In the last week, I have been lubricating the cylinders, hitting them with hammers, rocking the car and whatever else the internet(and good old fashioned real life people) had advised me to do. The engine was ready for a battery.

So, when I finally wired that battery into the Dodge, I headed into the driver seat. I turned the key and reached my left hand towards the starter button.

Dramatic Pause.

The engine turned over like a mad man. Electrical wizz bang, cylinders flying up and down. The majority of the valves doing what valves have to do. It was amazing. I knew from the get go that this engine would spin away, that somehow the last 20 years of it in storage didn’t matter. This is exactly what I hoped would happen, and it was such an accomplishment.

This isn’t what made my day though. Because as I said before, it’s the little things in life that excite me.

Late in the evening, after a lot of grinding, tinkering and general fun I took a moment to just sit inside the car. I turned the key to the on position again. And like a kid sitting behind the wheel of his parents car, I started flipping switches and pressing buttons.

With a pull of a knob on came the heater fan. The heater fan? I had no idea the heater fan worked. I wondered what else suddenly started working with the addition of the proper battery.

And there it was. A single knob to the right of the speaker, a knob without a name, a knob without a clear purpose. I twisted it, and on flipped the most spectacular dash light I have ever seen. I never paid attention to that part of the dash before, and I didn’t think I had any reason to look there before. But suddenly I noticed that I was staring at something so simple. Something so special.Image

What other treasures are hidden in this car?

Categories: 1947 Dodge Club Coupe | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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