Tuesday, October 26, 2010


There is some big news a-brewing in Angy world – and that’s saying a lot as in the last year I’ve made some milestones and had some dreams come true. I would list those here but it would be redundant as everything is outlined in this blog. My life has never been as well documented as it has over the last 16 months. If you are going to abandon your career and chase a car, I recommend documenting it as it makes it all seem more substantial.

Also, every time I look at the car my year feels substantial - I love that car – it rebuilt me. It’s a beautiful car but it really isn’t the car. My Six Pack friends are going to hate this but it could have been any car. My dad and I spent 2 years and possibly 2000 dollars in the mid-nineties rebuilding a John Deere AMT. Don’t get me wrong I love the TR6 but I don’t love your TR6. I like your TR6 but I don’t love it. I love my dad.

John Deere AMT 600

And speaking of dads… I’m going be one in May. I guess this is my great coming out. Put it this way: Key West (where Krista and I spent our honeymoon – forgot to finish that story) is a very romantic place. Krista and I have known for a while but we were playing it pretty close to the chest until about two weeks ago. Today we went to our second ultrasound – my first. It was a pretty earth moving experience.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this blog is about fathers and sons. Regardless what I have as a child (boy/girl) I’m in that transaction. When this car gets painted and finished in the spring is the same time I will have my first child. That is not on purpose but it is a little bit poetic.

This past weekend I spent my Saturday pushing and pulling that Dodge 330 into place in the shop so I can pull the motor. It was a tough day as it included making space via a trip to the dump and a lot of manhandling of a very large mid-size car – all by myself.

Large and unruly mid-size car in the midst of being manhandled

My Sunday was a lot more fun. I lined up a very nice trailer from a close friend of Krista’s family. He had bought it to haul a mid-sixties Ranchero home from Idaho a couple years back – overkill?.. maybe. What really impressed me was that it had trailer brakes that worked – that’s new – first time I had to setup the brakes in my truck.

I had the trailer so I could pick up the ’63 Belvedere – pushbutton automatic. Since last week my situation with that car changed as I sweetened the deal by trading for a spare engine hoist that I no longer needed instead of the 140 bucks cash. I hate cash – it’s so impersonal.

I met up JJ, the kid that sold me the car, at about ten thirty in the morning on Sunday. I had brought with me a the ¾ inch Snap-On socket set, my breaker bar and floor jack for getting the tires off and four tires from the 330 for replacement. JJ had informed me, the weekend before, that the tires didn’t hold air and all had big gashes in them.

The front driver’s side tire came pretty easy but I broke one stud – to be expected on a car that has been sitting since ’76. But when I went to remove the rear driver’s side next I ran into real problems. I broke three studs in a row out of a possible five. It was then I decided to get some WD-40 going on all the remaining studs.

On the remaining two wheels I was batting about 50% when it came to saving studs. It’s interesting to point out that, for a while (not sure how long), Chrysler had the threads on the driver’s side of their cars tighten from right to left instead of left to right as is the norm – ’63 and ’64 where two of those years.

When I went back to the driver’s rear wheel I broke one of the two remaining studs. I decided not to risk the last one as it would make loading the car significantly harder if we couldn’t mount a wheel on there. Instead I had JJ fetch his dad’s compressor to try and see if the tire would hold air long enough to load it. Not only did it hold – it was holding better than the tires that I brought. JJ might not have tried that hard to fill the tires when he first moved the car to bring it to his acreage – this theory was backed up by the size of his father’s compressor. It was portable but just barely.

The car rolled freely with her three new(er) skins and one original tire. I didn’t even have to knock any of the drum brakes loose as sometimes is required in these situations.

The first plan was to try to pull the car on with a sling attached to a quad-bike with JJ on the quad and his little brother Lucas at the wheel of the Belvedere and me guiding everything.

After a noble attempt it appeared the quad bike didn’t have the power so we huddled up and made a new plan that put Lucas at the wheel as, at twelve, he was the lightest by quite a large margin compared to me and JJ (JJ is a monster for 15), and had me and JJ pushing. I had to give Lucas a quick orientation on how to stop a car, that had no brakes, by shoving the lever for “Park” down on the push- button panel before we got down to business. We did have a couple of speed bumps, as Lucas, protested his role in this plan a couple of times before take off. I stayed out of it but JJ was adamant that Lucas would do fine – and to not make a scene Lucas obliged his brother. Their father had stopped by at one point and I had introduced myself but other than that brief visit we were quite on our own so I wasn’t comfortable with asking Lucas to do anything that made him uncomfortable – I let JJ do that.

The truck and trailer were on an agreeable incline towards the car so I was quite sure this was doable. When everyone was ready we started pushing the thirty feet to the trailer. Lucas, much like Luke Skywalker, was clutch at the moment of truth and lined up the ramps like he’d been doing this for years. We made it about three quarters onto the trailer when the car came to a skidding stop. Both JJ and I crumpled into the back of the car. It was clear that Lucas had thrown the car into park at the point where all he could see was sky. JJ and I both shouted to him to take it out of park but I was rather scared the car was going to start coming back as soon as he did – but JJ and I were able to overcome the inertia of the car and pushed it the rest of the way with no problem.

After we got it on and loaded I took a look at JJ’s ’65 Ford Truck that his dad had just brought home the night before as JJ had now fulfilled his responsibility by offloading the car to me. I must say I had a great time palling around with JJ and Lucas – talking about cars, dads and school. They asked me stuff about where I grew up and were interested in my dad, the TR6 and what I wanted to do with this car. We made good-hearted fun of each other and laughed all day. I even gave them advise on school and cars –more cars than – school. The only thing I told them about school was go to university for a while, if you can swing it, because it’s the most girls you’ll see in one place in your entire life. They thought that was good advice.

I know, boy or girl, days like that are a few years off for me and Jr. but knowing that I have a kid on the way made the day with those two a little more special. I wish they would have got to meet Bruce – he was good around kids like that – they would have liked him a lot.

JJ and Lucas: Car loaders Extraordinaires

It’s redundant to say it was a bit lonesome on the drive out and back – but it was. It was the perfect Brucey day: A drive, an old car and a problem to solve.

Stay tuned…

PS: Jim and Jer of mystarcollectorcar.com fame did a feature on this car here: http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/editorials/926-the-old-car-sickness-how-one-man-overcame-the-impossible.html

'63 Plymouth Belvedere

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