The purpose of this Blog

This blog is to detail my 46 years (1973 - 2019) with a 1928 Chevrolet tourer, affectionately called "The Red Chev".

The acquisition, restoration, improvements and my experiences over the years are covered in as much detail as I can remember.

Some of the later postings include car club outings and other vintage car items that I hope will be of interest to people.

If you have the time, scroll back to where it all began in 1973 and follow the journey so far.

Thanks for dropping by.

Regards Ray Dean

See my new section "The Red Chev - Repairs, Improvements, Maintenance and Technical Details" located on the left hand side of the screen.


Friday, April 29, 2011

The only 2 times the Chev broke down, including its first wedding

There have been only 2 times that the car had to be towed home, the first in 1979, and the second in the late 80's. On both occasions my wife Jan drove the towing car.

1st Breakdown

The event took place very close to home when we lived in Boronia, and it was on the way home after a drive around the mountains. All of a sudden the engine dies about 400 metres from home. Did not want to fire, no sign of life. Did all the usual checks and tricks. It was not going any where. Not wanting to abandon the car and walk home, noticed one of the neighbours kids walking past and bribed him with 50 cents to sit on the running board and wait for my return, with car, rope and most importantly wife. The car was towed home, pushed into the garage and left till the next morning.

Next day I checked fuel, no dramas. Checked for spark and found it was either weak, intermittent or just plain not there. Checked  wire to the coil, wire to the dizzy and checked points, all seemed ok, but was still getting intermittent spark across the points. Only test instrument I had in those days was a circuit tester, globe on, globe off. Pretty simple, but I didn't know too much myself back then. Any way, after cleaning out the inside of the dizzy, checking points and insulator for shorting, put everything back together, kicked it in the guts and she fired. Job done, no sweat, and thought that was the end of it.

How wrong can one be?

2nd Breakdown (The Chevs First Wedding)

Lets skip forward to the late eighties. It was a Saturday, and I was returning home from doing a wedding over the other side of town, Essendon or some where over that way. I wont even try to tell you about the wedding, but lets just say that Vintage cars and a traditional Lebanese wedding don't really go together. But hey, I made $100 bucks for day and got a free feed out of it. Time to leave as the boys outside were getting a little bit out of hand, and they were too close to the car.

Off home I go, no freeway driving in those days, so its about an hour later and I am coming down the Canterbury Road hill from Heathmont heading towards Bayswater Road, where Anaconda, Red Rooster and McDonalds are now. But not then. As soon as I cross over Bayswater Road, engine dies and I roll to a stop right out the front of the old Fibre Makers factory .Its dark, its cold and its about 10.30 at night. Did I have a torch. Well, lets not worry about minor details. What ever shops were nearby were long closed, no ones around and what ever few cars went by were not in stop mode. Only thing was to turn off the petrol, take off the radiator cap so no one would pinch it and walk to a phone box, call my dear wife and ask her to tow me home. You remember phone boxes don't you? That was back in the old days when we owned the telephone system, not some multinational.

Anyway, about half an later Jan turns up with the car, the rope and this time, two young children whose mother was not happy bringing them out so late. For some reason though, Ross aged about 9, and Melanie about 6 thought it was great fun, as they both made faces through the back window of the car all the way home. Car and kids were both put to bed as quickly as possible.

In the morning I am in the garage trying to get the dam thing started. Remembering what happened last time, and with a few more testing devices, I discover fairly quick that there is not a consistent current going to the coil, and when I jiggle the wire its constant current. So I run a fresh wire from the ignition switch to the coil, fires up, no problem. So this I say to myself is what the problem was way back then and now it is fixed, done, never to bother me again.

And you know it never did happen again, but.

Some 19 years later, when I stripped out the steering column to polish up the casing and replace a few bushes etc, I thought I would recondition the ignition switch. Pulled it apart gave it a bit of a clean up, polished the contacts and re soldered the wires after I put a current across it and using a Multimeter, was not satisfied that it was passing a full current, and further more if moved a few thou in either direction would cut out. Sound familiar. I thought so too. Under the dash I found and uncoiled the "offending" wire that originally ran from the ignition switch to the coil, and found the other end that I had coiled up under the bonnet. I probably did not remove it back in 79 as it was part of the woven wiring harness, but cant remember. Any way, just for fun thought I would reconnect it and see what happened, as it was a nicer looking wire than the modern red plastic one I had installed in 79.

Funny thing happened, car started, ran perfectly with no problems. Isolated the "offending" wire and ran a load test with 24 volts. No drop in the current or amperage. So there was nothing else to do but reconnect the said "offending " wire and let it redeem its self after being carted around coiled up under the dash for 19 years. Well what do you know, that wire has behaved perfectly since then, and could even be almost be forgiven. Was it a faulty ignition switch or a faulty wire that was born again after being out of work for 19 years? I have my opinion, but I will let you make your own decision.

Seriously though, I am extremly proud that a car I built with my own hands from a heap of parts, some good, some bad has only let me down twice in 38 years, and on both occassions was a fairly simple electrical problem. Apart from the fitting of 2 replacement exhaust systems, no other person apart from myself has ever worked on that car since it first turned a wheel in anger back in 1975. Do I worry now about a mechanical break down? Not in the slighest. Mobile phones have been invented, and as a member of the RACV, they care. More importantly, they tow.

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