Progress Reports 2009: June • July • August • September • October • November • December
2010: January • February/March • April • May • June • July • August
September • October • November • December
2011: January • February • March • April • May • June • July• October • November • December
2012: June • December
2013: January • February • March • April
Be sure to check out the photo albums and movies taken of the guys working on the car.
Click on the photo in the stories below to go to the photo album.
To photo albums • To the Movie Index
April 2013 – Bob M. has been diligently working on pulling the front end together and hooking up the wiring. He's been installing the radiator and the inside wheel wells, bleeding the brakes, installing hoses and belts plus doing other assorted things getting things he can get done before Larry takes over and starts the engine (!).
You may remember that I had a discussion with Dave G. about license plates and racing the Pontiac. Well, Dave took the Pontiac's license plates with the thought that he could straighten them out. Well, he did more than straighten them out! He cleaned them up and magically (he says) they're like brand new! Check out the picture and see for yourself. I never thought that I would say this but these plates are gorgeous! Thanks so much Dave.
Well, every day brings us closer to the end of this project and to the day I'm behind the wheel. I sort of feel like Cinderella and all these godfathers and godmothers are working hard to create this really cool chariot just for me. Life is good and I am blessed!
March 2013 -The Pontiac is back at SOB's for (hopefully) the last leg of this magnificient and incredible journey.
Bob 'SOB' M., Ron O. and I drove down to Wyotech to pick up the Pontiac. We met up with Scott Swafford–Coordinator, Dan Dermott–Street Rod Instructor, and a large group of students who pushed the car out to the trailer. Then Ron and Bob worked on getting the car onto the trailer while I stood and talked with Scott .
Scott asks me, "So, I'm curious...is your car male or female? I know that most guys will call their cars a 'her' but I wonder what a woman would call her car." I thought for a moment and said, "I have actually been giving that some thought, surprisingly, and all I know is its too pretty to be a 'he' so, I'm guessing that its a 'she'." Scott nodded his head like maybe that made sense. Personally, I'm very comfortable having 'her' be a 'her'.
There are still some little details that need to be done on the interior. Scott and Dan told me that they didn't put the backseat arm rests on due to a problem aligning the screws at a strange angle. They also didn't put the door handles or window cranks back on as they thought they should have new plastic washers and the clips for the handles which they didn't have (with the upholstery department closed). SOB seemed to think that he might even have those parts. The trunk looks great too. It's got walls-to-floor-to-walls carpeting. Finished off very nice. There are a few things that are still left to be done but we'll drive over that bridge a little later. It will get done...eventually. Isn't that the way with this type of project?
All I can say is that the interior looks awesome! The dark blue gray carpeting sets the blue and ivory seats. The back deck is covered in ivory naugahyde and has the speakers mounted. Its getting so close that I can almost feel breeze coming through the window as I'm driving down the road!
Ok, there are still things to be done and I don't want to get ahead of it all...but this is so great! As we're driving back to Grass Valley, we notice that the car seems to be getting brighter and brighter the closer we are to home. Then we realize that that's just a year and a half's worth of dust being blown off the car.
Thank you Wyotech for the wonderful job on the interior.
Note: Sadly, Wyotech is closing it's Sacramento facility in October of this year. So, there won't be a car show in May.
FEBRUARY 2013-The wheels on the Pontiac go round and round....come on everybody...sing along with me!
The Pontiac is back at Wyotech. I spoke with Scott Swafford, one of the coordinators who graciously got ahold of me and wanted us to bring the car back so that it could be finished. (Here's where I do a little happy dance!) So, SOB and Ed J. load the car back up on the trailer and we headed back down. Also, after careful consultation, I asked Scott if they would please pull up the horsehair matting and put down Peel and Seal instead. Larry told me where he got the stuff he used and how it worked; talked to Dan, he told me the name of the stuff he used. I finally got ahold of Wesco Distributing in Sacramento and was able to pick up two rolls plus the foil tape – all for a fraction of the cost of Dynamat. The guys at Wesco were very nice too. Oh wait...what else? I'm sure that I must be forgetting something... Hmmmm...The engine, transmission AND the muffler system are in! (Yippee! I am beyond the happy dance and doing cartwheels! Ok, in my mind anyway!) Larry E. and Dan G. worked their magic and got the engine bolted in then SOB did some more wiring and fix up and then carted the 'vision' to Darryl and now, the muffler system is in...and I'm promised that it won't sound like an old lady's car.
Ok, a little side note...at Wednesday night pizza I was sitting next to Dave G and showing him photos and telling him about the progress on the car. I then told him how I was looking forward to at some point taking it down to Sacramento Raceway to see what it could do. Dave's face turned a bit pale and he said, "No." "But..." "No." he again says. "We didn't put all this work into the car so you could blow the engine or worse....no." "Ok....I hadn't thought of that." So, guys...no raceway. It was just a thought. I'll just be happy to drive it. The speed limit is my friend... I promise (fingers crossed).
JANUARY 2013 – The Pontiac was nestled under its car cover in our garage for a short period of time. Bob M. needed the space in his barn to work on his own projects, so he brought it over to get it out of the weather until Larry E. and Dan G. were ready to put the engine in.
Wednesday, the 23rd, Bob came back and reloaded the car back onto the trailer and took it over to Dan G's garage. Then the engine was loaded onto the frame and bolted on. Larry and Dan spent about 5 additional hours tweeking the engine, fixing the brakes and making sure that everything was in great shape. In the process, they noticed that the floor pans had some gaps/holes/rough patches that needed to be plug/filled/sanded so Bob is going to take care of that before the car goes to Darrel Lenox's shop to have the muffler system put in...which will be the first week of February.
After that...it's back to Wyotech. Yippee! There's a light at the end of that tunnel! Thank you! Thank you! We can hardly wait to bring our car home for good but more...we can hardly wait to get behind the wheel and on the road!
There are no other photos this month but there should be a bunch for next month! Stay tuned!!
DECEMBER 2012 – Hey! No time no hear from! The Pontiac Project is alive and reving...read on!
On the soggy, rainy Friday before Christmas, SOB (Bob M.) towing the car trailer and my husband, Dave, and myself caravaned done to Wyotech to pick up the Pontiac. Now, before you get too excited, it's only home temporarily. The interior hasn't been completed yet...but it's close.
The interior is coming along beautifully. It looks even better than I had hoped. When we arrived at Wyotech's upholstery department, the tension was a bit tight. Vince was very upset with the fact that a group of us had written a letter to the administration about the length of time and progress of the interior. When we met with Vince, he explained further about why it was taking so long. He showed us photos of things that had gone wrong and things that had to be redone. While looking at one particular photo of the seats, he showed us a close up of what looked like chicken scratch/pin marks on the naugahyde. This happened when one seat cover was just about done. The fabric being heavy and bulky got doubled up accidentally. Vince asked me then, "So at this point, do we let it slide to get it done quicker or do we do it right?" Of course, I answered that I want it done right. He then showed us a stack of material that had been done up in pleats. It was a stack about 2 feet high and I'm not sure how deep. Practice pleats that had been done and then redone until the student was comfortable and felt confident enough to work on the real job and even that wasn't a guarantee that it would go smoothly. The seats are now just about done. The seats are still at Wyotech and will be worked on again in January.
As many of you know, there are no patterns for doing custom upholstery in classic cars so they have to be created depending on what you want designed. The seats in the Pontiac were pretty ratty so they weren't able to use anything as a template other than the seats themselves after they had been refoamed. The students were also taught how to make the pattern during this whole process. All I can say is that the seats are perfect and gorgeous.
The students who come through the class are given the option of what they want to work on. Some choose their own vehicles. Vince's challenge is to find someone who (1) wants to work on the Pontiac and (2) they also need be a more advanced student. This last session, luckily, he had several students. Two of the students (Nick and Nick) who did quite a bit of the work on the car have since graduated and are opening their own shop down in San Diego. (Cool, huh?) Currently, there are two students who were working on the seats - Milton and Milton. I joked to Vince that he was working his way down the alphabet. The two Miltons are the students who have been doing the work on the seats and they are returning the next session.
Once we went through everything with Vince, everyone seemed to understand both sides of the story better. We finished loading up the Pontiac and headed back home with a brief stop at the Northridge Inn for a yummy mini-birthday lunch for SOB.
Ok, so, now the Pontiac is temporarily home.
The first part of January, Larry will be putting the engine and transmission together. That will then be taken over to SOB's garage where it will be put into the engine compartment so that the hoses and wiring can be set up. Once the inner fenders and radiator are on, the car will go over to Darrel Lenox who will install the muffler system. When that is done, the car will come back and have the front fenders and hood reunited and then Larry can do the final 'tweaks' on the engine and start it up. (This is so exciting!!)
Once the car is back together, it will take one final journey back down to Wyotech. Once there, the headliner will be completed and the carpet put in and the console done. The seats will then be reinstalled. The final interior part will be finishing off the trunk. Sounds like a piece of cake...stay tuned.
JUNE 2012 – These are the only photos this month.
Hullo! Remember this project?? The car has been at Wyotech for over a year now.
Back in December 2011, David and I met with Vince, the instructor at Wyotech, and picked out the fabric for the car. Yes, that was 6 months ago! Vince has told us from the beginning that he would only let his best students work on the interior. He had also told us that we could expect it to take a while to complete. There were class sessions where he had noone that he deemed 'worthy' of working on the project. The student also had to want to work on the car as well. So, the project moved at a snail's pace.
Now, we're almost into July (at this writing). On Thursday, June 28th, David and I stopped by there again. This time, things were happening! 3 of the door panels had been installed and were waiting on the chrome and armrests. The one panel had had a mishap and they were working on repairing it. There are some really cool clips used to hold the door panels in place. Instead of the plastic ones that tend to break, Vince had these special clips that remove easily and pop back in so if the panel needs to come off, it does so easily.
Nick, one of the guys who was working on the sewing the door panels back in December, is now working on the trunk. Now, what they're planning on doing in the trunk sounds cool. Nick and another student were framing the inside of the trunk with wood creating channels for the wiring to run unobstructive. After the wooden frame is done, they will create a fiberglass insert that goes into the trunk. The fabric will be put on top of the fiberglass. What this does is create a totally smooth surface without ripples. I can hardly wait to see this!
Next week, the headliner is to be put in over the padding and the back deck behind the backseat is to be done.
The progress is still moving forward and seems to be moving a bit quicker now with 4 students working on it. Next week, I will be taking a spare tire down to Wyotech so that they have one for the tire cover. Tire cover...cool, huh? I had originally thought that since I was going to replace the tires, that one of those could be the spare but it's too big for the wheel well. Luckily, SOB (Bob M.) has one that will work temporarily.
In all the parts and services...this car is turning out better than I ever imagined! I can hardly wait to drive it!!
The end of November, David and I met with Vince, Nick and Nick at Wyotech to choose the fabric for the Pontiac's interior. Vince, the instructor, had Nick and Nick, the students, go through everything with us. After looking at about 3,000 different fabric swatches (which is not an exaggeration!) my eyes were going colorblind. David, on the other hand, was having a blast comparing, evaluating and showing me his thoughts on all the different possibilites. We narrowed it down to a few and then finally to two. We chose an ivory that matches the car top and a blue that is slightly darker than the blue of the car body. It's going to look great! David is good at this color stuff though. (I say with fingers crossed and rabbit foot in pocket nonetheless.)
The two guys who are now working on our car are Nick and Nick. What cool guys. They are both in the advanced class and asked to work on the Pontiac. David and I talked with them quite a bit when we were at Wyotech on December 20th checking on the interior's progress. Nick (in the photo on the left) loves the cars of the 40's and 50's and wants to open up his own restoration shop but he's not crazy about the upholstery part. I suggested that maybe Nick could hire Nick (on the right) to work for him. Apparently, this wasn't the best suggestion. David told me later that Nick #2's face got a weird 'no way' look on it. I then asked the Nick #2 what he wanted to do once he got out of school. He also wants to open a restoration shop BUT he wants to do the whole thing including the upholstery. David piped up...'maybe you two should have shops across the street from one another.' This got a smile out of both the guys. Nick and Nick are both wonderful young men. It was encouraging to hear their entrepreneurial spirit.
The sewing part is going slow and sure with only minor glitches. When we came to check it all out, the guys had the four door panels sewn. They explained the process of gluing, drying, sewing and stretching and then showed us the mistake that they had made on their first try at sewing the pleats to the rest of the door panel. It bubbled so that it will now be scrapped and hopefully they can use parts of it for something else.
As to the completion of this stage of the project...stay tuned! All we can say is that the Pontiac is in good hands.
Vince Delgado, the Upholstery instructor at Wyotech, thinks that he finally has a couple of students that he can put onto the interior of the Pontiac. So, now the plan is that the week of November 7th, David and I will be going down to Wyotech to choose the fabric for the seats. To say that I'm excited about the prospect, is an understatement!
Another development is that I was talking to Vince about SEMA. He and his upholstery business, SeatWorks, will have a classic car on display at SEMA. He generally has a car on display at most of the major car events in and around Sacramento. I asked Vince if he would like to come up to Grass Valley and maybe talk with our club. He said he would. So, after the first of the year, we're going to coordinate a time and place! Hey, the interior of the Pontiac might even be done by then!!
The old saying goes that 'good things come to he (or she) who waits'. Ok...I'm waiting!
There hasn't been much to report as the Pontiac is still down at Wyotech. Vince Delgado, the instructor, told me that he hasn't had any students that he felt would do justice to the interior and he won't let just anyone work on it. He did say that they had been working on the patterns. As Vince reminded me "I told you that it could 6 weeks or 6 months but it will be done right". So, we're patiently waiting.
In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to 'round up' the parts so that when the car does come back we'd know where to find them. Engine/transmission at Larry's - Check! Inner fender wells and radiator – my garage - Check! Hood and fenders being used as wall art in Rick and Margie's garage - Check and Check! Guess we'll have to wait and see if there's anything missing.
Ron O. came over and we photographed and inventoried all the extra parts so that they can be sold. He says that I don't need any of those parts but then I talked with a Pontiac guy at the car show who suggested strongly that I keep them. Not sure what to do now.
I sure would of loved to have driven our Pontiac on the Fall Color Cruise...I can see it now. Hmmph! Well, they say patience is a virtue.
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER – No story
Visualize this...the Pontiac is all done! Ok, now wake up! No, it's not but it was a good dream anyway. The Pontiac is still in various parts and scattered in a couple of different places. The computer drawing to the right is what I think it will look like when it's all done. Ahh, the stuff dreams are made of...at least my dreams.
Vince from Wyotech reports that the pattern is all drawn up on the seats and door panels. He would like for David and I to come down to Wyotech the week of August 8th to check it out and to pick out fabrics for the upholstery. We will also take the door speakers down with us as they will install those when they put the door panels together.
The engine is coming along. Mike has the carbureator built. The exhaust manifold has been coated and baked. SOB (Bob Madsen) brought the linkage over to Larry. Larry's is making the bushings for the throttle linkage. The transmission is still at Mel's Transmission. Once the transmission is done, Larry will put the spark plugs in the engine.
While there's not a lot to report this month, there's still a lot that's happening. It's coming along wonderfully, so stay tuned.
Sorry, no photos this month.
The Pontiac is down at Wyotech. Vince Delgado, the instructor, has had his students working on the demolition of the interior. They have stripped the seats and de-rusted the frames. They've been primed and painted and new foam has been laid out to rebuild the seats. The doors have new side boards and they've even been working on the trunk. The headliner has the insulation tacked in. A group of us went down to Wyotech on Wednesday, June 22 to check it all out.
SOB, Ron, David and I drove down to Wyotech and met up with Vince. He took us on a tour of the work done so far. It looked great! We also got to meet a couple of the students who have been working on the car...Ashley and Rosario. They were both very nice 'kids' (in their mid-20s) and talked with us about the car and about themselves. Both Ashley and Rosario were moving onto thei next step of their education as the semester was ending on Friday.
So, what's happening next? The new semester starts on Monday. Vince was confident that because the class size was fairly large, that he'd be able to pick a couple of the students to work on the Pontiac. He told us that he only utilizes te skills of the top students. Next, he was going to come up with two designs for the upholstery and side door panels. One design consideraation is based on the original designs that I had submitted that went towards the more classic style and another custom design that Vince and the students would come up with. Once the design work is done, then we'll go back and look at fabric to go with the chosen design.
After talking with Vince, the timing on the project is up-in-the-air. It all depends on the students. As he is only allowing his top students to work on the car, the project could take just weeks to months. Stay tuned.
A little side note: SOB had designed and created a center console for the front seat. This console housed the air conditioner vents and the stereo. It also allowed for space for cupholders. So, the search was on. Finally, on ebay, some gaming table aluminum cups were found. Even after I purchased the cups, I started browsing through cupholders on ebay and found a black rubber configuration out of a Mazda that was the right size as well. I took the two chromed cups and the black rubber cupholders down to Wyotech. After looking at the center console, we decided on the aluminum cups. (see photo above – also pictured are the new plugs and screws.) Vince told us that they could cut the holes for the cupholders.
Teaching an old dog some really new tricks or is that trickin' out an old dog? Either way, once again the Pontiac was hoisted onto the trailer to take another journey to the next stage in her ressurection. This is another 'facelift' stage and if beauty comes from within, then she is feeling more and more like a beautiful 'new woman'. So, what does all this 'tricks' and 'teach' mean? The Pontiac is at Wyotech! Yeehaw! This is so cool!
A group of us caravaned down with the trailered Pontiac to the Wyotech Car Show in South Sacramento. While Steve Olsen and Dave Rawcliffe went to register for the show, SOB, David (my hubby) and I drove behind the school to the backside of the Upholstery department and met up with Vince Delgado, the instructor, to drop the Pontiac off.
After the Pontiac was unloaded from the trailer, David got behind the wheel and the group of guys that were there with Vince pushed the car into the Upholstery facility. For the most part, this went off without a hitch but with no brakes or steering, manpower became the way to move the car. Luckily, the man-brakes worked before the car almost got 'steered' into the wall. (No name dropping here as to the person in charge of steering). Anyway, the car made it in one piece and is now 'stopped' and awaiting it's next phase.
The plan now is for Vince to get some of his second semester students to work on the project. As soon as that team is determined, they will work up some designs for the interior. At that point, David and I will go back down to Wyotech and meet with Vince and the students to go over the ideas they have and also choose the fabrics. Because of the way the semesters run at the school, the project could take anywhere from 6 - 12 weeks to complete. As Vince says though, he'd like to get it done as quickly as possible. Once the interior is completed, the Pontiac will be trailered back home and then it gets ready for the engine. Speaking of that...
The Pontiac's Engine
Larry E., engine project coordinator
The 347cu in poncho motor is back on the engine stand. At this point, it is basically a long block with heads, valvetrain, front drive pulleys, water pump, fuel pump, fliter housing and pan attached and painted – looking pretty good. My old pal, Norval Griffin, owed me a couple of favors and did a marvelous job rebuilding the cyl heads. Dan Granholm and Tyler Mcsweeney (Geared Up Drive Train) "offered" to help clean up parts – thank God – and my old buddy, Tom Thompson helped to tear the grease ball down. (check out the before and after picture of the engine on the club website under Pontiac Project Progress)
Next up is to fab the a/c mount, alt mount and plumb for a pcv valve.
This month, we're going to start this story with a reality check. SOB (Bob Madsen) had put the old, gnarly seats back in the car so he could make sure that we had the correct mounting hardware and also to check the positioning of the brake and gas pedal. Anyway, if you needed a picture to gauge how far this project has come, here it is. (see photo on the right)
Now flash forward 23 months and check out the dash, the center console, the exterior, ok, the whole oo-la-la package. Now, when we review this project and all the extra steps we took with it that we hadn't planned, we know it's been done right. With everything that we've done, if we have just 'dressed it up' and put it on the road, there would have been major problems down the road. As it sits now, there's nothing wrong with the car, in fact, it's almost as good as new and in some cases, better than when it rolled off the assembly line. We can be rest assured that it will be a safe and beautiful classic car to drive for years to come.
The car heads over to Wyotech on May 7 to get the interior done.
Wyotech Car Show • May 7, 9am-3pm • Leaving IHOP, Grass Valley at 7:30am
980 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento
Spring has sprung...Ok, I'm redeeming myself from last month regarding no photos. Some really cool and exciting pictures this time. Wait until you see them!!
SOB, Bill R.n and I met up on a Friday morning at Bob's garage. Personally, I hadn't seen the car in a couple of weeks. My heart did a big flip-flop when I saw it! The dash was almost entirely put back together!! Ok, I thought I was gonna cry. It looks so beautiful. Then I looked in the back seat. That sobered me immediately. The old seat was looking pretty pathetic. It was a great reality check though in how far this project has come.
If you recall last month things were flying. Here's a photo of the item in question (right)...unflying, controlled and installed. This unassuming knob will control the courtesy lights inside the car when the door is open. Now, did I mention that the wiring is done? Well, for the most part. Once everything is done, you won't even see the wiring but SOB is doing it 'old school' (as quoted by Bill Robinson) where something is done with the forethought of 'what if'. What if you have to work on it later' and 'what else might need to be done or added later'. SOB has put forethought into his part(s) of the project. There are a few missing pieces such as the trunk light but the wiring is there when it's been located or one can be found later.
The new front seat console that SOB designed and is putting together is awesome and will house not only the radio but the front air vents, the a/c and heater controls, and ...drum roll please... cup holders. In the essence of 'what if', the console is being designed so that the front plate will be easily removed so that if you need to work on the wiring, replace a part, et cetera...viola!...piece of cake! Ok, I'm impressed. They had me at cup holder.
The engine for the beast is at Larry E.'s shop (C&L Enterprise) and currently the heads are done. Now that Larry is doing well after his surgery, he's ready to get the engine ready. The million dollar question right now is the transmission but our collective fingers are crossed that there won't be any problems. At this point, we're not sure if the engine will be installed prior to the car going to Wyotech for the interior. We're still waiting to hear about when the car is going down to Wyotech but its anticipated to be around the end of April. Will keep you posted as we hope to get a group together to trailer the car there. That's all for this month!
Things are flying! While trying to get the door switches installed so that when the doors open the courtesy lights come on, the plate holding the button and spring decided not to hold...the door opens and 'POP' the bracket and spring go flying across the garage! Now to gather the parts and see if Riebes will take the ill-fated parts back and exchange for ones that won't 'pop'. Hey, if its not one thing, its another flying one.
Well, the wiring has been replaced from headlight to taillight. It's been quite the challenge comparing the '57 factory wiring against the kit wiring to make sure that all the little parts that need power are hooked in. The fuse panel is all set so that all the necessary lights will work (fingers, toes, any other appendage crossed for luck). In some instances, SOB is following his own patented method of operation with the appropriate acronym S.W.A.G. (scientific wild-ass guess) to make sure that it all works as designed or by his own creation.
This car has been a definite community project. Put together with original and used/new parts many which have been donated including the radio/CD player that came from Dee & Russ Knapp. When they upgraded their stereo system, they donated their old one to the Pontiac Project. (Thank you!) And as you all know, tunes are important to any good cruise, so Diane and Dave went speaker shopping. After finding the speakers that they wanted, Diane went online to see if she could get a better price. With a combination of ebay and amazon, she was able to save about $50! She got 2-6X9s for the back deck and 2-3" speakers for the center console that SOB is building for up front between the seats. Cool, huh? While there's no amplifier, it should sound as good, if not better, than the original system.
Many people have asked about when the car is going to Wyotech. While it was originally thought that the car would be heading down in February, that's now been revised to probably the end of April. The way that this works is that Vince Delgado, the instructor, wants to put his better 2nd semester students on the project. Right now, though, they have other projects that are taking their time. Diane will be checking with Vince every couple of weeks to see what the status is. It could go sooner or later. The project is still a go though and has the approval of the school administration so patience is the name of this game.
One of the things that has come out of this project is a deeper appreciation of the time and passion that goes into restoring these rolling pieces of history. It's one thing to look at a thing and think it's 'a thing of beauty'. It's another to realize that the outside is nothing compared to the inner workings and what has gotten it to it's 'beauty' state...and the 'artists' who have gotten it to it's final stage. Hmmm...but is it ever really done? Stay tuned. I'll let you know.
Sorry, no cool photos of the car this month. Snow and timing played a big important factor in that. Next month, the camera will be back at it again.
In 1957, people actually knew and sang the words to Auld Lang Syne but I'll bet that even if they knew the actual words, they didn't know what they meant then either. All I know is that there is a 'cup of kindness yet' in those lyrics and above that, it's sort of a take on an old crooner's song of 'Thanks for the Memories'.
The 'drawings' for the interior got sent off to Vince Delgado, the upholstery instructor at Wyotech and owner of SeatWorks in Sacramento. ( Note: special thanks to Larry Eckman for steering Diane in the right direction as to 'designing' the interior drawings). As of this writing, no date has been set for a preliminary appointment at the school. The car, though, will be ready. The seats were brought down from the storage unit and placed inside the car. (Ok, they look gnarly inside this beautiful beast! Sure shows how far this project has come!) SOB (aka Bob Madsen) has mocked up a cardboard prototype for the center console (right) that will house the stereo and the a/c and heater controls. SOB is making this out of metal, have it spot welded by Don Forster at Metal Works and will have it done before the car goes to Wyotech so it can be covered when they do the rest of the interior.
Here's a toast to communication. SOB and Diane were talking about the wiring and where the pedals were positioned...you know... gearhead talk. (I say this tongue-in-cheek with regards to Diane, of course. She just nodded enthusiastically while SOB talked.) Then, SOB pulls out the floor dimmer switch and shows her how it works. Tap it once and the highbeams go on, tap off and they go off. He then asked the million dollar question (ok, actually, it was more of $2.35 but I get ahead of myself). "Where would you like it positioned on the floor?" Ok, the truth be told, Diane's left foot would be totally useless turning off a dimmer switch in the normal floor position. (So, here's the clinking of the glasses and where the $2.35 comes in). It was determined that a toggle would be mounted under the dash - a hole is already there for it - to the left of the steering wheel under the lip of the dash. Toggle on - lights blare. Toggle off - lights tone down to normal and all within flippin' reach. And that, as they say, is how it's done. Clink...cheers!
SOB decided that he didn't like the way the wiring looked so, after consultation, he ordered a new wiring kit which he has installed and tucked away. He is working on getting most of the dash wired but this is not detrimental to have it done before the upholstery is done. It turns out that there are some missing light fixtures that haven't turned up but the wiring will all be in place when they're found.
So the song goes - For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll take a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne. If memories of the past year and half of this project are any reflection, this project is filled to the brim!
Neccesity is the mother of invention. When something comes up that needs special attention or, lets say, a special tool, who do you call? Well, in the Pontiac's case, 'Oxy-Moron Mfg' (aka Ron O. and Bob 'SOB' M.) came to the rescue with a custom made windshield wiper tool. They needed a deep socket tool with 'ears' to adjust and tighten the wiper unit so instead of purchasing one (for a lot of $$), Bob made one. It's a thing of beauty and works like a charm. So, now, the electric windshield wiper unit has been installed.
The windows are finally all done and are in great working order. The doors are also nicely balanced and open and shut easily. Bring on the weather...this car can take it!! But we'll leave it garaged right now.
Also in the works, is the evaporator unit that will be snuggled in under the dash. One of the design considerations is how to get the new unit to work with the old dash. SOB is going to design a special console that will house the control knobs for the heating and a/c as well as the radio/cd player. He is also designing it to include 2 cup holders. It will fit where the old speaker unit used to sit on the floor in the front seat and curve up to meet the seat. The hope is to have it all constructed before the car goes to Wyotech in February so that the carpeting can cover the unit as well.
Yep! You heard right...the car should be going to Wyotech mid-February to get the upholstery done. The interior design has been submitted to Vince Delgado, the instructor at Wyotech, who is in charge of this part of the project. Diane will be going down to the school to meet with the students as well... That way they can get the real customer experience. After checking into various possibilities, Diane decided that the upholstery design out of the '55 Pontiac would look pretty cool. Not sure on the fabric choices yet. Vince was going to pull choices and then the decision would be made before February. The goal now is to have the interior done so that the door panels, flooring, headliner, seats, etc. can all be completed without having to take anything apart once it's finished at Wyotech.
As a little side note, David and Diane had family here for Christmas. One of the things that they wanted to do was to go see the car. SOB graciously gave them a tour around the car. Diane felt like a proud parent as they oohed and awwwed over the Pontiac...and the car actually sparkled a bit brighter under scrutiny.
The holidays are quickly approaching and the weather has turned colder so the car is tucked away in Bob"s (SOB) garage. Most of the glass is in and actually functioning. Darrel Lenox is going to be finishing up the passenger side windows here soon and then the car will be sealed up against the elements. SOB ran the brake lines and the front brakes are in. Once the heating and A/C unit (from B&F Auto Airconditioning) is installed then Ron O. will start putting the dash together. So, for the most part, the car is getting assembled a piece at a time. Right now though, there's not too much to report. Stay tuned!
To all of you who have participated in this project in whatever capacity, a heartfelt 'Thanks' and to all of you who have enjoyed watching the progress, 'Thanks' for joining us! Happy Holidays however you celebrate! Pontiacs Rule!
Sorry, no photos this month. The photo from "I Love Lucy" - the Ricardos are driving a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible. For more info on that, click on picture.
So shiny, ya gotta wear shades! The one thing that the '57 Star Chief has is bling. Just about all the stainless is on the outside except for the front...because the front isn't attached yet. Dan Fletcher put the front and back glass in. Bob Madsen is working on hooking up the brake system.
An issue came up with the windshield wipers. Ron and Bob applied 28lbs of pressure to the vacuum and they wouldn't work. The wiper arm mechanism...well, let's just say 50 years has taken its toll. A remanufactured vacuum system was going to run about $115. A new electric system and all the switches, etc. would be about $250. Diane opted for the electric. Ron and SOB were relieved. Much better decision for the long run or sure 'wipe' process.
Next, the rest of the door glass is going to be put in and Ron is going to put the stainless on the dash. If you come by to check out the progress, don't forget your sunglasses!
There comes a point where things seem to crawl along but that's mainly due to the fact that well, it is. Yet, there were some big deals too. Like the back end is together! From this angle, the car is ready to go!! Well, not really but it sure looks great.
The car show put a halt on work on the car. Now we're just trying to get it put together enough to set it up for when the weather changes. Dan Fletcher is installing the windshield and back window. Ron worked on the door seals and used chrome paint to spruce them up.
The biggest news is the interior. Once the glass is all in, we're going to bring the seats and door panels down from the storage unit and set them inside the car. That way, when WyoTech is ready, we will be too.
There's not a lot to report this month. Unfortunately, the green beast didn't sell at the car corral. Got two phone calls, but no takers...darn. The next plan is Craigslist, Swap Shop and Cruisin News. Anyone who wants to buy a rusty (that's an understatement) 57 Pontiac, call Diane. Hey, the engine and the transmission were in good working order when it was running. All it needs is a battery...and oh, some brakes. Stopping is not part of the options right now.
There's still quite a bit to do so if you'd like to help, give Ron a call (274-3673) to see what and when they're working on it. All help is appreciated. This is turning out so great and it's definitely been quite the experience!
There's a balance to working on a project like this...working out the various problems sometimes to the point of frustration, knowing when to walk away for a minute or three and coming back to a solution. A lot of work and time has been put into the car this month. By looking at it, it may not seem like a lot but it is coming together. We've put a lot of time, experience and expertise and now is not the time to cut corners.
Have you ever thought about car doors...who ever thought up the mechanics that goes into the opening, shutting, locking, unlocking, winding, unwinding? All the different mechanics, gracefully balanced and working together. Well, that's the hope anyway. After many, many (how about one more 'many') hours, the doors are almost done and are doing what they're suppose to do.
Steve Matthews from Broken Thunder Body Shop joined the guys one morning. He fit and adjusted the doors, which is a tricky proposition. When the doors are fitted properly, the entire side view of the car looks finished...level. Check out how even the doors look in balance with one another and close with a 'click'. Great job Steve! Be sure to check out the movie on the doors.
We're finally to a point where we're ready to start taking parts off of the Super Chief. SOB (Bob M.) trailered the car over to the garage area at his house where the Star Chief is being housed. Ron spent some time trying to get the back bumper off of the Super Chief only to find that parts had been welded. (please refer to the first paragraph...the process of frustration to solution) Coming back the next day, he was able to find a work-around and get the bumper released from the frame.
Speaking of 'a lot of work'...have you ever looked at the channel that the window glass slides up and down in? Well, inside that 53 year old window channel use to be this fuzzy material that was 'stapled' in. Have you ever thought about replacing that? The original stuff is pretty old and dirty to say the least and not fuzzy anymore. Well, Ron took mega-hours carving out the old material, then he spent several more hours putting in the new fuzzies and realigning the new clips into the old clips' holes that held it in place. Now if that isn't an exercise in balance and patience! The window channels are now good as new and waiting 'patiently' for the glass to be put back in.
Ever have one of those moments the beauty of something causes you to catch your breath? There have been a few of those moments during this project. In this case, lets call it 'sparkle'. The first pieces of stainless were mounted onto the window frame. The photo to the left is the new rubber in place with the crown of shiny stainless. Thanks to Dave G. for his luminous work.
Balance. This project has all the aspects of life. Problems, pitfalls, rust, aggravations, infirmity balanced with hard work, humor, friendship, solutions, rejuvenation and triumphs. It's not done yet but man, is it pretty!
Thank you to everyone who contributed and worked at the yard sale. It was a beautiful day and big success. Special Thanks to Gin and Duke from Gins Little Valley Auto for loaning us their parking lot to hold the yard sale. We will be having another one after the car show as we have some stuff leftover. Details to follow.
It's a good thing when a plan comes together. It's even more exciting when you can visually see the transformation. Ok, well, maybe this is more like one of those 1,000 piece puzzles and you're sitting with all the pieces scattered around you wondering which piece to pick up. Lets start with the big pieces and see how it goes from there.
The car is painted! (now that's a big piece) There are 4 doors and they're attached where they look like they should go. (more big pieces) The trunk lid has been added. (this is one of the larger pieces) Wow! If seeing this transformation doesn't inspire you, refer back to June 2009...we've come a long way, baby! This car is starting to smile!
Ron was inspired and decided to POR15 the trunk. While he was at it, he redid the floorboards. He had a little bit more left so he painted on the rims. Remember those rust ridden rims (try saying that 3 times really fast)? They look pretty good right now and they definitely look better than those rusty counterparts on this gorgeous transformed beast.
The guys had a bit of a scare the other day when one of the tires exploded.You may recall, Larry Eckman had submitted an article sometime back about tires, expiration dates and what can happen after about 7 years. Well, these tires were definitely past their fresh date. Luckily, it exploded while it was just sitting there and not when the guys were trying to transport it somewhere! Now, the other three tires are pretty suspect.
Ron and Chuck L. have been busy putting the doors back together. It's been slow going but they figure to be 'experts' by the time all four are done.
Well, it's getting closer to when all the puzzle pieces need to be brought together. Does anyone remember where all the pieces are? And what goes where? Everyone has their own way of doing a puzzle and not any one way is the absolute right way. The thing to remember is the goal is the same on all sides...put the puzzle together in the best way possible with the fewest extra pieces leftover. The big pieces are the easiest to find...the challenge are all those left and right side parts, little and littler. But, hey, look at this beast! The transformation is incredible.
Some people are craftsmen and they pride themselves in doing a good, no, let me rephrase that, great job in whatever they do. Rod is a carpenter by trade and he took on the daunting task of painting the Pontiac. As any craftsman knows, it's the prep work that makes the paint shine so Rod also worked on a lot of the bodywork himself too (along with a lot of other 'craftsmen'). Several people showed up to help Rod do the prep work and they even let me (a girl) sand...or do some of the 'grunt work' as it is affectionately called sometimes.
The amazing part of this process is just that...the parts. There are so many of them. And they have to be primed, sanded and resanded. Then there's the HOURS of sanding that goes into the large pieces like the trunk lid or the top of the car and what about all those nooks and crannies!
Just when you're sick to death with all the sand and your hands look like a relief map, you get to clean everything up and get all the sand and gunk out of all the nooks and crannies of the 'paint booth' so you can paint some of the parts. Oh, and don't forget to clean down the floor too.
Here's what makes all that hard work pay off. The coat of paint is sprayed on and viola! It looks like...glass. Does that ever make you smile! Time to pat yourself on the back, call it a day and have a beer! (Ron's words, not mine)
To date, the body is done in two colors. The original Kenya Ivory and an alternate color, Chalet Blue - which is actually a 1960 Pontiac color. The Fontaine Irridescent Blue was a special mix (can you say cha-ching?!) Chalet Blue is a nice alternative...it lighter than the Fontaine color and resembles a beautiful sky blue day in Nevada County. But don't take my word for it. Check out the photos, oh, and the short movie clip too.
You know, Ron and Rod...it's time to put up your feet, call it a day, and have a cold one. Great job!! Can't wait to see what's next. Oh, and Happy New Year! It's been a year since this journey started and we're still having a good time.
A special thanks to all of the craftsmen who have worked on the bodywork and prep work for this project. Because of you, this is turning out better than any of us thought it ever would!
The Pontiac took a road trip today (Friday, May 28th at 9:30am) and headed down Hwy 174 towards its new temporary home at Rod's. Rod, with the help of some of his friends, is taking on the daunting task of painting the car. He is setting up a paint booth in his carpentry shop - it has easy access in and out - makes you think that maybe he has some other large projects going on in that shop.
The other big deal (ok, it's all a BIG deal!) is a group of us participated in the Wyotech Car Show on May 8 in West Sacramento. Great show! Bob M. took the Pontiac seats with us and spoke with the upholstery instructor, Vince Delgado. They are going to take the interior of the Pontiac on as a class project! Now that's a great big deal!
So, the current status is full speed ahead! Stay tuned...this is one exciting ride!
There's not a lot to report this month. We're in a gathering mode trying to get all the parts and pieces together to put the front end back together. We've got the calipers conversion kit for the disc brakes from a '69 El Dorado and the rotors from a Chevy pickup. We've also got the steering cross thingy to the steering box out to the wheels and the disc brakes are on. (Stopping is good!) All we need now are the seals and bearings. The next 'move' is to trailer the car over to Rod M.'s to start the painting process. Wait! Paint?! Yes, you heard right...it looks like paint is in this Pontiac's near future.
To the right – is a paper version that Diane made inspired by this Pontiac project. It's a paper mache version of the 1957 Pontiac. It's roughly 2 feet long, 1 foot high and 1 foot wide...made from grocery bags, newspaper, masking tape (and a couple of hidden pieces of duct tape for good measure) and it's painted in the project colors of Fontaine Irridescent blue and Kenya ivory, chromed bumpers and front grill...well, ok, not really, but sort of just inspired.
February & March 2010
Things slowed down a bit as we took a break during the weather changes in January and February but now we're slowly getting back into the swing of things especially now that the weather is giving us sunny breaks between rain showers.
Rod M. is finishing up on the bodywork and it is looking great! What an artist! So much so, that we will be ready to paint prettty soon. We've ordered parts to get the front end put back together. We've rebuilt the control arms for the front suspension and ordered the new pins. You should of seen the upper and lower control arms when we first got them taken apart. To say that they were gunky and nasty (Diane's words) is an understatement. Now, thanks to Richard G, Dave G. and a few others, they're cleaned up and almost as good as new.
The brakes are almost done too. Bob (aka SOB) has got the original chromed brake pedal set up with the new braking assemby. It took some fancy 'footwork' to get the old pedal to work with the new assemby but where there's a will (or a Bob), there's a way! All it needs is to be adjusted. So cool!
To say that the finish line is in sight may be a bit of a stretch but it's starting to get more exciting as we start thinking about painting and putting this project all back together. Thank goodness we've been taking lots of photos throughout this whole process. Maybe we can even remember what slot A and slot B look like and which goes where. Hopefully, we won't have too many extra pieces when we're done. Don't you just love the challenge?
If you want to help out and join the project, contact Ron O. at 274-3673. There's still a lot to do and it's definitely been a fun project so far. Come on by SOB's garage and see what's going on!
Happy New Year! Well, the hood, trunk lid and front fenders are all done and the doors are about done too. We're pretty much done with cleaning the frame too. Just a bit more to do on the front end. The fuel filter is hooked up and the fuel tank has be reinstalled. We're going to run a new wire from the sending unit to the gas gauge...the fuel level will actually register on the gauge when done. The brakes are all assembled and the shocks are on. The master cylinder is waiting on Bob to drill the holes in the firewall. A great source has been found for the paint so it's starting to come together...everything is hinging on the bodywork and paint right now.
You've got mail...here's an email that Diane got Thursday, Dec. 10th: "Santa arrived about 7:30 last night and brought 2 big boxes of goodies for a 57 Pontiac. Do you know anybody that could use them? Ron."
Nothing says 'lovin'' to a gearhead like 'car parts'. Hearts raced and eyes widen with excitement and joy...just like seeing all the Christmas presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
As we sat in the garage at SOB's (Bob Madsen's) and looked at the various parts, it was like that...albeit a bit on the chilly side. Outside of the opened garage door was SOB's lake that was freezing over. So now, we have all the rubber parts for the car...at a great price too from CPR. (California Pontiac Restoration). It was cheaper than Ron had anticipated.
At the Roamin Angel's Christmas Party, Wayne & Alzina D., Bob M. and Thane A. presented Diane B. with the new refurbished steering wheel for the Pontiac in Ivory marbling and and a cleaned up, shiny horn ring. Yes, Santa Claus has been here. Merry Christmas Everyone!
The mechanical parts of a car that you really don't see or think about too often...well, unless they don't work...that's what's being worked on. The inner workings of the doors – making the windows roll up and down and the doors latch and lock, the fuel tank sending unit, O-ring – all those little things that make the difference between working so-so and like-brand-new.
Now, seeing the underside of the Pontiac being transformed from a 50 year old road warrior with the grit and grime to prove it to a facelift with new floor pans and scrapping that took years of grease and road dirt off. You can actually start to see the new life that's being breathed into this ol' gal.
Ron started working on the list of parts that were needed next. He poured through several catalogs and found one company in Santa Ana that sold kits that included all the rubber seals, felting and molding needed at a great price PLUS the guy offered an additional discount! So now, the goodie parts will start arriving the beginning of December.
It's sort of like the story of Cinderella. Hey! This is in part from a gal's perspective. So, continuing on...you know the story...the fairy godmother waves her magic wand and the pumpkin and mice turn into a beautiful carriage. That's sort of what this is like only you're able to watch it all in slow 2009 motion. Ok, enough fairy tales. Here's what's going on...no mice involved.
After all the rust has been taken care of, Ron O. spent the day painting POR-15 inside the car trunk, floorboards and interior roof. Once painted and dry, the coated metal looked a little like black glass.
With the bodywork pretty much done, Rod M. took on the project of painting on the primer. With the solid grey primer paint coating the body, it was starting to look more like a car again. All the front end parts are also complete too.
The engine is with Larry E's at C&L Enterprise and he has it taken apart. The next order of business is to start painting and putting the car back together. Now, to just remember the sequence of how things need to go. Hmmm...where is that fairy godmother when you need her.
Thank you to everyone who helped and donated to the Project Yard Sale. After the second yard sale, Don D. took everything that was leftover to the Salvation Army. Animal Save had been tried first but they weren't accepting donations. Special thanks to Ginny and Duke for allowing us to hold the yard sale at Gin's Little Valley Auto Care on both weekends.
If you want to gain a true appreciation of the end result of a restored car, work, watch and learn what the steps to that restoration are. It is a true combination of mechanics, physics, chemistry and art. "Art' is a loose word in that it is part sculpture and part aesthetics. It is fun and amazing to watch this group...each having their own specialty...working together with a common goal. It is truly a piece of artwork. Of course right now...it's down to the skeleton... a shadow of things to come.
The device is called a porto-power and it fixes things from the inside-out. With it, Bob G. and Rod M. took the dent out of the back of the car and the one over the rear wheel well. The porto-power belonged to Bob's dad who owned a body shop. Bob started working at the shop when he was 12. He got to sweep up. Now that's starting from the ground up!
The floors are finished with Don F. tack welding the floorpans in place. Most of the bodywork is done, thanks to Rod who is a sculptor with bondo. Rick M., Don D. and Dick S. lent a hand with the sanding. Hey! They even let a girl sand some. It was fun! Also, the radiator has been rebuilt and the gas tank has been boiled and coated inside...like it's brand new, thanks to Larry E. Now the car is being prepped for primer.
In the next two weeks, it will be primered and POR-15'ed. It was a good month. We got a lot done.
We've gone further into this than we had planned. This has come as close to a full on restoration as we can without taking the body off the frame. Right now 'she' doesn't even resemble a car. Every nut and bolt are out of her. The glass is out. The doors are gone. Even the front tires are off. Now that it's been soda blasted we're going to clean 'her' up and get 'her' primered. The big puzzle will be putting 'her' back together.
Soda Blasting was done by Jake Litchfield. All the nooks and crannies that would of been tough to get at by hand are now nice and cleaned out. Great job Jake! The interior roof will still be sand blasted then covered with POR15 to stop any rust.
Currently, the stripping is done and half of the floorboards have been repaired. The fuel tank has been drained and removed but there aren't any plans yet as to whether it will be fixed or replaced. The engine and transmission have been taken out and are now in Larry E.'s capable hands.
The next step is to have the body soda blasted.
As you look through some of the photos look for the emblem on the front, right windshield. Notice any resemblance to anything?
Ron O's comment: "The more we get into this car, the better it looks." The guy that the car was purchased from was right on and truthful about the good condition of this car.
For now, work on the car will slow down until after the car show.
Work is currently underway on Diane B's '57 Pontiac. If you would like to help, please call Ron O. at 274-3673. He can let you know what's going on, see what you would like to do and schedule the work together.
The 1957 Pontiac Star Chief is a 4 door hardtop. It has been in California since 1957 when it was purchased new in Sacramento. Larry E. found the ad for it in Cruisin News. Larry, Wayne D. and Diane drove out to Wilton to see it. After striking a deal on Monday, on Saturday, Wayne, Ron O. and Diane went to pick up the car in Wayne's car trailer.
Bob & Nolie M. offered their garage area to house and start work on the car. So far, the entire interior has been stripped and all the rats and spiders killed, and the front end has been removed as well as most of the exterior trim. Ron used 3 cans of oven cleaner to clean the engine. Work has begun to try and get the engine running. It has run but it needs to run consistently.
Currently, the next plans are for Jake Litchfield, who is soon to be a part of Lane Rollin's family, to do the soda blasting on the car. There has been a few discussions about painting the car. The decision on the color combo is Fontaine Blue Irridescent for the main body and Kenya Ivory for the top and inserts-stock colors for that year.