The purpose of this Blog

This blog is to detail my 43 years (1973 - 2016) 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.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Did I really do this nearly 10 years ago? Seems like a dream now

I was reading some early posts, and was amazed, you might say had forgotten, what I achieved from February to October 2007.

Back.... back... back....

2007. Part 1 Most Important Year For The Chev. (The Event & The Plan)

It's February 2007, I am several weeks into a new job, and the Chev is the last thing on my mind.
Boy was that about to change.

First things first, let me tell you how 2007 became a very important year to me, and a new lease of life for the Chev that had been off the road for 8 years

My daughter Melanie and her partner Justin announced their engagement in 2006 and were to be married in October 2007. I cant remember the exact date they asked me to have the Chev as a wedding car, but there was no doubt that I would answer in any other way than yes. How proud I was that my little girl wanted the Chev to convey her on the most important day of her life so far.

Melanie and Justin started making wedding plans, so I thought I had better make a plan for the Chev, and it was so simple. There was no plan. I thought it would be a quick mechanical once over. New plugs and points, change the oil, replace the battery and tyres, a cut and polish and away we go. Seemed pretty simple, so its January 2007 and I am thinking plenty of time before the wedding in October, no drama. I will start in February, finish it in a month or so at a leisurely pace. Even allowed myself a few weeks to clean up the garage, get my tools in order and generally get myself into gear.

So I am preparing myself and my garage, which at the time was a mess, for what I thought was a pretty simple dust off and tune up. Just as well I never used to be a weather watcher in those days, as I am sure there were storm clouds gathering.

2007. Part 2 Most Important Year For The Chev. (The Realisation)

Let me set the scene. Its a Friday afternoon, early February 2007. The Chev has been laid up, off the road for 8 years and my daughter has asked for it to be used for her wedding car in October 2007.

Here we go.I finished work at 1pm, put down a quick lunch, changed into the overalls, and into it. The first thing was to get the engine running. I throw in 2 new batteries, pull out the plugs, squirt a bit of oil in the bores, turn the engine over a few times with no plugs, fill up the petrol tank, pump up the perished tyres, press the starter, engine turns over and hey presto, nothing. Pull the choke fully out, pump the gas pedal a few times, hit the starter again, still nothing.

Like all simple engines from years ago there are only 2 reasons why they won't start, fuel and spark. Checked the dizzy, spark there, checked the plugs, spark there, then checked the carby, oops, dry as a bone. What did I know about petrol crystallizing. Nothing, but I was about to learn. Pulled the bowl of the carby, lots of white powdery crystals, not a good look. Cleaned out the bowl, needle and seat and inlet filter, re-assembled, hit the starter, engine fired, rough as guts and would not idle, generally not a happy camper.

Pulled the carby off and stripped it down. All jets and everything else covered and blocked with the same powdery crystals. Cleaned everything, re-assembled, refitted carby, hit the starter, engine fired and ran like a top, well sort of?

Good, that jobs done, next.

It was at that moment, within several hours of picking up the first tool to work on the Chev in about 8 years, I was back, the passion had returned. I had a date. I had a deadline. I had a challenge. I'm Back. Should I strip down the vac tank, no, its working, leave well enough alone.

I am on a roll

What's next. The radiator has a leak, worry about that later, lets do the other big jobs first. Checked around the rear wheels. Not happy. Oil was seeping from the rear axle onto the brake linings. I was about to learn another valuable lesson in maintaining a 28 Chev. I was unaware that oil can run from the gearbox, through the uni joint, down the torque tube and overflow the diff and back axle.
I removed the fill plug from the diff cover, and instead of putting oil in, it came out, about a litre of the stuff.

Still feeling pretty positive, even though I knew the rear brakes were shot, pressed on regardless. Stripped off the rear linings and soaked them in petrol to see if they could be salvaged. No way, they were full of oil. No matter how much I brushed, oil kept bleeding to the surface. Still, not a major set back as the brakes were always pretty average anyway, so a brake job was not the end of the world.

After all, its February, plenty of time till October. Famous last words, maybe.

Little did I know that things were about to take a turn for the worse.

It was then that I also noticed oil around the springs, which I thought was coming from the linings, must remember to check that out later.

What happened next was the most significant decision I made during the whole pre-wedding preparation, and had I not followed the path I did, the wedding day for the Chev may well have ended up on the back of a tow truck, or even worse.

Although not completely convinced it was required, I felt the best course of action was to remove the complete rear end, including springs and torque tube. If nothing else this would give me access for a good clean up and paint job. There was also a bit of wear on the top of the torque tube, where it fits into the universal joint housing, and this would be a good opportunity for a bit of repair and maintenance.

The Chev is put on jack stands, and unbeknown to me, would remain on them, without wheels until late July. If I had known this at the time would I have panicked, got cold feet, advised Melanie and Justin to make back up arrangements. You bet I would have.

Still feeling reasonably calm about proceedings so far, the rear end is lifted onto stands so that I can remove the axles, replace the wheel bearings and seals. Off comes the wheels and the first area of concern was the key ways on the rear axles, they're about twice the size of what they should be. Not happy as I know the job is getting bigger by the moment. I removed the diff to inspect the crown wheel and pinion. Give the diff a bit of a spin by hand, something was not right, there was a clunking noise every half turn.

After all how bad could it be. The car was still running when I put it away in 1999.

That turn for the worse was getting bigger. The crown wheel was loose as the 12 or so rivets securing it to the carrier were about half way sheared off. This means that for some time, or maybe even years, the crown wheel had been sliding back and forward each time I changed gear from 1st to reverse.

My pride and joy was not in very good condition, and to be more precise was unsafe. Could you imagine what may have happened if the crown wheel came adrift at 35mph, and I am talking safety as well as mechanical.

I removed the diff from the housing, and separated the torque tube so I could have it repaired. The machinist said he could repair the torque tube by machining it back to a uniform diameter, and there was no drama in taking metal off the torque tube as he was making up a new uni joint bell as well. The only requirement was that he wanted me to remove the tail shaft, which I thought was a pain, but it had to be done.

After all, how much more drama could come my way, things must start looking up soon.

Nuh no way.

As I removed the tail shaft it looked ok, the pinion looked good, but just to be sure thought I would remove the pinion from the tail shaft. Found what I thought was a deep scratch on the tail shaft, three quarters of the way around the entire circumference.

That's no scratch its a bloody crack.

With the feeling that this was becoming as loosing battle I dropped my bundle. It was the lowest point I had ever been to in the 34 year history of the car, and the most distraught I had been about the condition of the car, and my ability to fix it. I had no idea what was the best course of action.

What do I do now?

Are spares available?

Have I got enough time?

Do I tell the kids I can't make it?

All of a sudden the words "Its February, and I had plenty of time till October" were starting to cause a bit of a panic.

Yes it was lowest point in my time with the Chev, but it was going to get better, much better

And anyway it was February, and I had plenty of time till October, I hope.

The Running Boards and The Week Before The Wedding
I arrived home after having the pin stripping done by Warren. My wife and daughter joined me to look over the car.  I mentioned that it was a shame that I was running out of time to do a few finishing touches, such as fit a new set of running boards that I had purchased and originally planned to have fitted for the wedding. The more we talked, and I looked at the original running boards, they stood out, looking very sad and needing to be replaced. They were slightly bent, and the rubber matting was perished. Clearly there was no option as they were detracting from the appearance of the car.

So with a week and 6 days before the wedding I pulled off the running boards. This was not a simple process as I had to take care not to scratch the valances, front and rear guards. I believe it took me from Sunday till the following Friday, by the time I primed, sprayed, and fitted the running boards. And it was probably around his time I was starting to feel a bit tired from the whole restoration process. I still had to glue on the new running board rubber matting, but I had other plans.

Melanie and I had arranged to see Phantom of the Opera a few months earlier, and this turned out to be on her last Saturday as a single girl. It was a great afternoon together for Father and Daughter, and a welcome break for me from the Chev.

After all, it was Saturday, and I still had a week before the wedding, with the bonus of being on leave for the next week. I decided I would do the gluing on the last couple of days prior to the wedding as I still had several other jobs still to be done. Don't ask me where that week went, but there were jobs here and there that just soaked up the hours, even working all day. Thursday morning came around, and I set up to glue on the rubber matting, the final restoration job prior to washing polishing. Finished the job by mid afternoon and went for a Thursday night bike ride with my friend Warren, the first in a few months as I had cancelled them to devote more time to the Chev.

Arrived home around 10pm, and thought I would check the running boards before I went to bed. Disaster, as the matting had reacted with the contact glue, and strecthed out of shape so much it could not be salvaged. Luckily I had a spare set of mats, but that was the least of my problems.

I spent most of the Friday cleaning off the old contact glue, sanding, priming and repainting the areas of the running board metal surface that would be seen. While I waited for the Acrylic paint to cure I did the cut and polish as time was running out big time. We are now talking about 4pm the day before the wedding. The car had to be ready to drive to the chapel by 8am the next morning.

Very carefully glued on the running board rubber mats, and made sure there was minimal glue and no tension that would cause the rubber to stretch. Luckily fate was on my side and they both dried in perfect condition. Touched up the black acrylic here and there, put in the last few bolts, and declared the car mechanically finished.

But it was now around midnight, and I still had to wash off the cut and polish residue, clean the hood, vacuum the interior, refit the carpets and black the tyres.

I remember my wife coming out about 2am to check on how things were going, and shortly afterwards we decorated the interior with a garland of flowers, which was to be a surprise for Melanie.

A few more things to do, things to check, and finally turn out the lights and climb into bed at 4am. Its all over, I have done as much as I can, and if it's not done its too late.

The wedding is about 10 hours away.

2007. Part 4 Most Important Year For The Chev. (The Wedding)

Nothing much happened today. Pretty quiet actually, a bit lay back. Oh yes, there was a wedding. The day went well, more importantly the Chev performed as expected, and a good time was had by all.

My daughter recently reminded me that after a child hood of being told not to touch the paint work of the Chev, during the wedding photos she was hesitant to do so without my ok. Also the photographer slid down the front fender when she was showing my daughter an example of a pose she wanted. Oops, must have forgot to tell her that I gave the car a once over with Mr Sheen the night before the wedding.

May I show you a few pictures from the most important and proudest day of my life since my daughter was born, her wedding day.

2007 Part 5 Most Important Year for the Chev (On Reflection)

Well the wedding is over, the Chev is back home after staying at the reception centre for 2 nights on its own. Seems it had such a good time it did not want to come home in a hurry.

Into the garage it went, after all the make over was finished

You never really finish these things you know. There are always more jobs to be done. The next few years would see more improvements and repairs. Driving these further improvements was my belief that the older you get , the more fussy you get, the more attention to detail and in my case the more critical you become of the standard of work you did 30 odd years ago.

So its October 2007, I had just completed an 8 month restoration, and it was time to reflect on what I had achieved. It was hard work, a lot more than I thought it would be at the start. But I now had a much improved 1928 Chev compared to the one I started work on earlier in the year.

More important, hopefully it made the wedding day of Melanie and Justin just a little bit more special, and maybe the desire to achieve this was my driving passion throughout the project. Who knows.

I can not explain why, but I never had any doubt that the car would be finished in time for the wedding, but I must confess that 4am on the day of the wedding was just a bit too close.

I think you need to retain a positive attitude during restorations working to a deadline, otherwise it's too easy to make excuses and pull the pin. Sure there were times, and usually late at night, when I would have a reality check on how long the road ahead was, but you just keep going, baby steps.

Did I ever come close to pulling the pin. Cant really say as to me it was never an option once I started. But if there had been a trigger it could have easily been when I was stripping the rear end, and part after part was broken or worse. But a good nights sleep, and everything looked brighter in the morning. If the jobs started to back up and the days started to pass too quickly, I just increased the work rate, an extra hour here and there.

Would I do it again? No. I think you only have the ability and dedication to do this sort of job once. I would not take on an 8 month restoration involving so many tasks, especially after becoming aware of just what was involved. But a longer restoration, 12 months, 18 months or 2 years, well who knows?

In hindsight did I enjoy it? You bet I did, every minute. The Chev was back on the road, better than ever, and more important I was back The passion for playing around with an 80 year old car had returned, and is a strong as ever. (2011)

And my last comment of this 5 part posting is "a father made his little girl happy"

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