After testing my temperature gage and determining that it did not work, I sent it back to Classic Instruments. They tested it and found it to be "out of calibration." I read that as an euphemism for defective from the factory. They calibrated and sent it back. I installed it and found it worked (or not worked) exactly the way it did before I sent it back. I packed it up and returned it a second time. They tested it, found nothing wrong with it, and sent it back. I installed it again and found it now worked properly. Despite the hassles with the gage, the people at Classic Instrument were very friendly and went way out of their way to help.

My big winter time project is to fabricate an exhaust system. First, I have never fabricated an exhaust system, and second, I am a terrible welder (I can join two pieces of metal but it ain't pretty). The extent of my exhaust system experience is replacing various pipes, mufflers, resonators, etc. with identical, newer pieces that are not full of holes or broken off. Replacement of said pieces usually is accompanied by much cussing, banging and pounding, and rust specks in at least one eye. So why am I attempting this? I guess I just wanted to try my hand at it.

The first step in the process is to decide -- steel or stainless steel. Since I plan to do this only once, I decided to go with stainless steel. It certainly is more expensive, and mistakes can be very costly. They sell "hot rod" exhaust kits containing enough stuff to make an exhaust system. I compared what was in the kits with what I would need, and I was in agreement. Now, they sell two types of kits, one is the regular kit, and the other is the slightly more expensive kit with slip fit joints (pipes that are flared on one end so that one pipe can be "slipped" into another). Since my welding skills won't win any prizes, I went with the slip joint kit. These kits are made by Stainless Works  (P/N RB-225X). I bought mine from Jegs  (P/N 842-RB225X) where the price is $42 less than buying it direct from the manufacturer.


The hardest part looked like it would be fabricating the the piece from the headers that curved up and around and went up into the frame. Running the pipes through the frame looked fairly straight forward. Arching the pipes up over the rear axle looked like the second hardest part. I ordered a 45 degree stainless steel reducer from Sanderson Headers (who manufactured my headers). They said it would ship the next day and immediately billed my credit card. After several phone calls and a month, I finally received my reducers. Seems they ran out of material to make them (don't ask, I didn't either). After much thought and fiddling around I sawed a 90 degree bend, welded it to the reducer, hooked that to a 45 degree bend, and the welded the other piece of the 90 degree bent to the top. Seemed to work. I also had to cut a hole and weld in a bung for the oxygen sensors.

exhaust pipe

I can not (and never have been) able to saw anything straight. As soon as a saw blade gets into my hands, it wanders around in all directions. I knew that cutting very straight would be critical, especially if the cut pieces were to be welded. I "invested" in a cheapie cut-off saw with a 14-inch abrasive blade on sale at Harbor Freight ($49.95). I figured that if it got me through making an exhaust system, it would pay for itself. It seems to work really well with straight pieces and fairly well with some fooling around on tight radius bends. I cut and fitted the pieces that went through the frame and stuck on the mufflers (glass packs). It sure is a lot quieter running through the mufflers than the open headers, but not as entertaining.

I did not feel like paying $35 or more a piece for fancy exhaust pipe hangers, so I went to NAPA and bought some universal hangers. I have three installed so far. I measure the length and bend to fit. After they are in place I will remove them and paint them to keep them from rusting prematurely.



I did a bunch of other things as well as work on the exhaust system. One of them was to finish the emergency brake system. I mated the original 1938 e-brake cable to the Lokar cables. Believe it or not, it was a perfect fit! I mounted the Lokar cable holder (#3 in picture) to the top of the X-member. There is a treaded rod on the end of the '38 cable. it is the same diameter and pitch as the brass block (#2 in picture) that holds the two rear brake cables. I just threaded the block on the end of the '38 cable, pushed the two rear cables through the block, and tightened set screws. The problem came in securing the end of the '38 cable. I made a plate and bolted it across the frame. I tried several methods of clamping the cable end, but it would always pull loose. I finally made a holder out of a 1/2-inch iron pipe and end cap (#1 in picture) and welded it to the plate. Works great!


MARCH - APRIL 2006    

It seems like the next step should be reassembling my truck. Lots of stuff attaches to the cab, so the cab should be painted first. The cab was painted with high-build primer, so the first chore is sanding it smooth. I wet sand at this stage because it creates less mess. First 220 grit, then 320 grit, then 400 grit, then 600 grit, then oops sanded through to bare metal. Re-prime with epoxy primer. Re-prime with high build primer. Repeat sanding through to bare metal. Repeat priming. Repeat sanding through to bare metal. I am becoming an expert at sanding through the the primer to bondo or metal, especially on the edges. There are a few spots now waiting on their fourth round of primer.

I decided to try the new roll-on high build primer. Since there is no spray, I did it with a mask with fresh charcoal canisters instead of hooking up the fresh air system. There was certainly less mess and fuss, but the results were mixed. It worked out very well on some areas, but produced runs and a textured surface on other areas. On the next round, I will spray the high build primer and compare.

I sanded down the front fenders and had several spots on each that needed to be re-primed. My work area consists of two saw horses with four 2X4's laid across them. After finishing the third roll-on coat of high build primer, I somehow managed to bump into one of the saw horses. Both fenders went flying to the ground. I put a big dent in one of them and got dirt and floor crap in the paint on both. Not a pretty sight.

Thinking ahead, I realized that I would need hardware to reassemble the truck, so I dug out the baggies full of the original hardware I had removed, carefully labeled, and tucked away for this very day. What a pile of rusted junk! Most of the bags contained pieces of bolts that were cut off. I ran many of the "good" pieces through a vibratory tumbler filled with blasting grit to clean them up. Most of the bolts are pitted, and the threads have seen better days. All of the bolts are fine thread. I don't know if they used fine thread because it has better holding power than coarse thread or it was the only stuff available in 1938. All of the bolt lengths are standard size, and grade 8 fine thread (except 5/16 X 3/4) can be purchased by the pound from the local Tractor Supply store. The 5/16 X 3/4 will be replaced by coarse thread bolts.


I also had a pile of various brackets, supports, hood hinges, door hinges, windshield hinges, etc. that needed to be cleaned up. Several years ago I purchased a large table top blast cabinet on sale and stashed it upstairs in the garage. I drug it down and set it up. I also stashed our old vacuum cleaner, which was replaced with a new one several years ago. I dragged that out and hooked it up to the blast cabinet to suck out the dust. In one morning I blasted all of the small parts. Many of the pieces are badly pitted, but still structurally sound. But, (like I keep saying) this is a driver not a show truck. The small parts are hanging from the rafters waiting for a coat of epoxy primer. In the picture to the right you can see some of the small parts as well as the blast cabinet. And for those of you with a sharp eye, yes, I do store junk in the cab.

small parts


MAY - JUNE 2006    

May was spent sanding through primer to bare metal, re-priming, re-sanding through primer to bare metal, re-priming, etc. After spraying on some K36, I decided that I preferred to use the spray-on high build primer rather than the roll-on kind. For a man of my few talents, it worked better. Someone more experienced may have better luck with the roll-on primer. I will save the left over roll-on primer for repairing the Toyota; can't make that one any worse.

Most of June was spent gearing up for the family vacation, enjoying the family vacation, and then recuperating from the family vacation. The cab is ready to paint. I have to paint it outside because the ceiling in the garage is too low. I was going to paint it before vacation, but there was a steady rain of pollen from the trees and other assorted vegetation. It turned the cars green or yellow (depending on the culprit species) overnight! The day after we got home from vacation, it rained non-stop for 4 days. There was lots of flooding everywhere, The garage floor flooded. The water wasn't deep, maybe half an inch, but it made a soggy mess of all the cardboard boxes on the floor. The place where I want to paint the cab is a mud bog. Driving in would throw mud all over the cab, and the truck would have to be towed back out. It needs to be really dry back there before I can paint.

After being completely lazy for the month of June, I need to get back to work on the '38. I do need to do a few other things first. The gas tank is off the Tracker because it started leaking like a sieve. The Jeep is torn apart because the e-brake lever broke. The Toyota is experiencing severe overheating problems. The Austin Healy is down with a clutch issue. Jeeez, I'm down to only 3 cars that still run. I better get to work!



My goal for the summer was to get the cab painted. The ceiling in the garge is low and does not afford enough room to paint the top of the cab. My only option was to paint it outside. Earlier in the summer there was stuff raining down from the trees (pollen, cherries, etc.). Next came the floods, then the 100 degree heat wave (ever weat a Tyvek suit in hot weather? They do not breathe!!!). Finally there was a break in the waether -- dry, pleasant, and 80 degrees. I drove the truck into a shady spot in the woods and masked off what was not to be painted. I ran a folding ladder across the front so that I could spray across the top front in one pass. I put a 2X8 across the frame so I could spray the back in one pass. I hooked up the supplied air system (the paint contains toxic isocyanides). I got into the protective Tyvek suit. I donned the supplied air hood. I was ready...

I guess the painting went fairly well. It was kind of hectic trying to keep the hoses from getting too tangled, tyring to keep moving to where I needed to be, and to keep the spray gun moving. I had a lot of runs (too much paint) and a couple of small spots where I could see through to the primer (too little paint). Plus there was some junk that fell out of the trees and a few bugs, including one that crawled a couple of inches through the paint before it died. There also was considerable orange peel.

I fixed all of the runs and most of the debris/insect problems. Then I color sanded to get rid of the orange peel. I went thought the paint and into the primer in a few spots. A few areas were sanded too thin and the primer was showing under the paint. I am currently working to fix those problems. Some pix....

  before painting

after paintinge


I managed to get the front sheet metal mostly painted before it started getting cold. I painted the fenders, the hood, the hood sides, the grille, and the grille sides (or whatever you call the lower pieces that fit between the grill and the fenders. They turned out with the usual bad orange peel, drips, runs, light spots, debris in the paint, etc. But with a lot of sanding and fixing, they turned out pretty good. I did a preliminary buff on them, but I will give the paint afew months to harden before I do a final buff and apply a coat of wax. The inner fenders were painted, but I had to cut out a big chunk of metal so they would fit over the Mustang front end. That necessitated touching up the bare metal where it was cut The only parts that turned out perfect were the grille sides (or whatever you call them). They were flawlessly perfect. I didn't even need to buff them. So, of course, I managed to drop one on the rough concret garage floor. It hit on edge (big chip), bounced, hit on another edge (big chip), and then skidded across the floor on the painted surface. I am working on repairing it. I am sure I will find a way to destroy the other side. Prior to assembly, I buffed one fender and stashed it behind the cab. I buffed the other and decided to stash it in the Healey garage since the Jeep is now in the garage. I stood back and admired the fender and thought. "It's all down hill from here. This fender will never look this good. I am sure it will get a scratch and a nick when I am installing it and another scratch and a nick before the truck gets on the road. After that it will acquire road rash and start on a downward slide." With a sigh, I hit the button to open the garage door. The door hit the clamp-on light on the rafter that I forgot to move and crushed it. It fell in two pieces right onto the fender, putting two deep scratches in it. "I wasn't expecting it to start THIS soon" I thought as I carried the fender out to the Healey garage.


The front fenders are on! I assembled them with some welting between the inner and outer fender and some welting between the fender and the cab. I used brand new fine thread bolts (from Tractor Supply) everywhere, even for the ones that bolt the fenders to the cab. First I bolted the front fender/headlight support (or whatever you call it) to the frame. Then I assembled the inner and outer fenders with the rear brace on the work bench. Next I bolted the fender assebly the cab and frame and put in a temporary bolt to attach the front fender/headlight support to the fender. Last was the brace inside the engine compartment between the inner fender/headlight support and the radiator mounting plate. Ooops. Seems I cut that part away when I trimmed the radiator mounting plate. Since I never throw anything away, I dug through the junk until I found the remains of the mounting plate. I trimmed it, welded the part I needed back on, and painted it. As good as new. Almost.

The fenders are on




Now that the fenders are on, it's time to finalize the wiring under the hood. There is a bunch of stuff to mount on the inner fender -- coil, starter relay, fan relay, A/C hoses, alternater fuse(the upgraded alternator came with one, so I am using it), horns (a pair of them from the '88 Mustang), and an extra terminal block because there are way too many wires to fit on the stater relay positive tenminal. I ran out of room to put all of this stuff, and I haven't even considered where to mount the cruise control servo unit. Well, no one is going to accuse me of having a clean looking engine compartment.

The first task was to order the A/C hoses, drier, condenser, and fittings. The first time I mounted the A/C condensor, there was not enough clearance for the fittings. I made a second set of brackets and remounted the condenser so the fittings would clear. I mounted the drier on the firewall and measured and cut the hoses. I shoved the fittings on the hoses and marked the alignment on masking tape on the hoses and fittings. It was off to the shop to get them crimped. I am in the process of getting them routed and clamped down.

Since the weather was so mild, I decided to tackle (and paint) the headlights. As you may recall (but propably don't), when I removed the headlights, the insides were different. The fenders also were finished differently leading me to believe that one side was replaced. Anyway, over the past few years I managed to acquire a few sets of headlights... lets see, there the ones from the '38, from the '39, from the '38 oil truck, the ones I got with the '41 big truck stands (the ones that have the parking lights built in -- more about this later), and a set I got in a box of parts I bought. One of the '38 headlights had a built-in adjustment system using springs and 3 screws. The insides of the '41 headlights were the same, so I picked the least rusted one, drilled out the rivits, and pulled out the innards. It did not fit into the '38 bucket! I measured the diameter of the '38 buckets and found them to be different. Since I wanted to use the ajustment mechanism, I picked the least rusted 41 bucket, sandblasted it, cut out the rust through, welded in two patches, fixed the two minor dents, primed it, and painted it. I ordered new adjusting screws and also a pair of halogen sealed beams without the protrusions in front from Bob Drake, but have not installed them.

Building on the paint while it is warm theme, I finished drilling the broken screws out of the windshield frame, repaired it, primed it, and painted it. The strip down the middle that holds the glass was quite rotted and about 1/3 of it was rusted away. Sometime ago I picked up another windshield just for the center strip. Once I got that windshield apart (no easy task), I found the center stip in better shape but not complete in length. Using the best parts of the two, I welded them together and made one center stip in reasonably good condition and the proper length.