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Sandy’s Day Out

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Sandy had her first day out since she fell victim to Hurricane Sandy. She attended an important local car show to help celebrate the life of departed friend Roy Jones.  Roy was a huge fan of classic cars and an avid supporter of charity car shows put on by Georgia Cool Cruisers and other local car clubs. In the years he owned Galaxy Diner, Roy hosted dozens of shows supporting many great charities. Today’s memorial show celebrated Roy’s memory and continues the legacy of charity and community Roy left behind. Today’s show also was a fundraiser for two of Roy’s favorite charities — Fisher House and Toys For Tots. Preliminary numbers are that over $1,200 was raised for Fisher House and more than 200 toys collected for Toys For Tots.

Sandy performed admirably, traveling the eight miles to the show and four of the eight miles home under her own power. This may not sound all that impressive, but it is important to keep in mind that since the hurricane and prior to this morning, the car has been driven around the block once at Asphault Adventures‘ New Jersey headquarters and once at Crash’s Atlanta pad. That’s it.

Sandy now has headlights (low beams only, direct wired through a toggle switch), parking lights, turn signals, and brake lights via a manual (literally – hand operated) switch, all via homemade wiring and a 6-circuit fuse block. The run around the block yesterday and the drive today suggest that the carburetor is in dire need of a rebuild, that first and second gears are on their last legs, the brakes need some serious adjustment, and that the front tires need some spacing as they are rubbing against the inner fenders in 90-degree and tighter turns.

The most immediate problem, however, is that the electric fuel pump (which Crash insisted on mounting near the engine rather than at the fuel tank – yes, Jim, you were right!) overheats and stops delivering fuel to the carburetor. The fuel pump gave out just as Sandy arrived at the show this morning (phew!) but gave up the ghost halfway home – at the worst possible intersection. It could have gotten ugly except for the flatbed tow truck that happened by, and the very kind driver who was happy to give Sandy a lift the rest of the way home. (Atlanta THOTC fans, please call Ken Kianpour of Red Ivey’s Express Towing for all your towing needs at 404-325-5192 — definitely a friend of banger cars and those who drive them.)

Next up will be mounting a new electric fuel pump at the tank where it should have gone in the first place, replacing the broken mechanical fuel pump to provide a backup, and doing a drain-and-fill on the transmission to see if it helps eke a little more life out of first and second gear.

Please look for photos of some of the absolutely awesome cars keeping Sandy company at the show in a subsequent post.

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Down to the wire…

Crash reaaalllllllyyyy wants to get Sandy to the last Georgia Cool Cruisers charity show of the tear nezt weekend, but Sandy has to have light and signals before she can go. It has been a hectic and only somewhat productive wiring day… a custom 6-circuit harness designed, all the primary wires run, and a headlight test (unfused and unswitched at the moment) complete. Tomorrow… installing the rest of the bulb bases, the headlight relay, switch, and dimmer… installing the replacemebt brake switch, wiring in the aftermarket turn signal and hazard switch and the flasher relay… and installing a 12VDC outlet.

Two interesting challenges… both the horn qnd the windshield wiper motor are chassis-grounded through their mounts… not nsure how to make them work in a 12v negative ground system…

Little steps…

Today’s progress on Sandy so far…

We discovered a potentially troubling oil leak when we rolled the car off the transport. Fortunately it turned out to be the fuel pump gasket rather than one of the nastier things it might have been. Unfortunately, one does not run down to the local parts store to buy a fuel pump gasket for a 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook. Instead, Crash channeled his inner kindergartener and did some tracing, cutting, and pasting in the gasket paper medium. A little gasket dressing, a skinned knuckle, and some swearing later and – voila! – no morr oil leak.

The other little step was to connect the exciter wire for the alternator to the ignition post on the ignition switch. And then to repair the two wires Crash tore of ouf their connectors in the process. Fortunately, that was all the excitement to be had (except for the alternator, which is happily charging the battery from idle).

A wiring update is pending as the team may have backed the wrong horse from a harness perspective…

Sandy unloaded

Small steps… The Cranbrook is unloaded and ready for the next effort… rewiring.

The window regulators on sandy’s left 2 doors were so badly corroded from storm water that the windows not go up or down. It took a little while to get the first door panel off, because the way the handles attached to it or not the way that more contemporary cars do. It’s actually a much more elegant and simpler solution… Once you know to look for it. (Many thanks to Allpar’s Mopar Frame On Body forum for advice on where to look.)

With the window regulators in all their rusted glory exposed, a couple of baths in penetrating oil and some minor persuasion with a wrench had the moving again freely.

Next up, the monumental effort of clearing all of the spare parts, spare tires, and spare whatnot out of the car to provide easier access… to run the replacement wiring harness. Hopefully buried in there somewhere will be the wiring diagram for said replacement wiring harness. Your kind thoughts and warm vibes will be welcome as the rewiring goes on.

SandyHome

Resurrecting Sandy, a 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook that drowned in Hurricane Sandy, has proven to be the Two Horsemen of the Carpocalypse’s biggest challenge yet. That is saying a lot for a team that has brought a $150 1989 Dodge Shadow, a $200 1973 Plymouth Valiant, and a $300 1969 Dodge Dart Custom back to life from under tarps and woodpiles and abandoned behind barns for glorious 3,000-mile journeys to raise over $12,000 for charity over the course of five rallies in five years.

Sandy was on her way to the crusher when a friend of Team Two Horsemen of the Carpocalypse (Jim Thwaite of Asphault Adventures) rescued her, knowing Crash and Burn would want to get this unusual classic back on the road and competing in rallies to raise money for charity. Jim not only rescued the car, but hosted it in his garage and did the lion’s share of the work to get the car running and ready for transport to Crash’s pad in Atlanta.

After spending days submerged in water above the dashboard during Hurricane Sandy and a year rusting after the floodwaters receded, the car was a total loss. Water had seeped into the engine and transmission leaving them unsalvageable – discovered only after weeks of effort to restore them believing they had been pickled before the storm. The drivetrain ultimately was replaced with “leftovers” from the hot rod conversion of a 1949 Dodge sold to the team for the scrap value of the metal. The gas tank, differential, and radiator took in some water as well, but ultimately would be saved after the investment of hours of effort to recondition them. The entire ignition system was destroyed by corrosion and rust and had to be rebuilt from scratch – a custom-wired 12v ignition circuit based on 1970s Ford F-100 parts. A one-wire GM alternator was installed using a bracket custom-made by Jim to provide charging.

Two years to the day since Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, the Cranbrook has been transported from Jim’s garage in New Jersey to Crash’s garage in Atlanta, and the second phase of Sandy’s restoration to the road will begin over the Thanksgiving holiday:

  • The rest of the electrical system, from the switches to the bulb bases, was a total loss as well. A decision has been made to rewire the car using a 12v hot-rod wiring harness and fusebox. This conversion isn’t yet complete and some challenges remain with finding replacements for the 6v blower motor, horn, and windshield wiper motor that also were destroyed by the storm waters. The entire dash cluster was submerged and was corroded beyond repair.
  • A replacement dash cluster has been obtained but hasn’t yet been installed, and several of the gauges may not be compatible due to minor differences between sensors and outputs on the 1949 versus 1952 engine and transmission. The team is debating whether a digital dashboard using an Android tablet and new wireless sensors may be a future project and a way to extend the life of this classic Plymouth.
  • The brakes and wheel bearings were a total loss as well, and everything except the master brake cylinder has been replaced. For safety’s sake, a rebuild or replacement of the master cylinder is in order.
  • The 1949 transmission appears to have some 1st gear issues and likely will need to be rebuilt or replaced.
  • The differential (a seemingly never-ending Achilles’ Heel for the team’s rally cars) needs to be gone through as it took on water in the flood, and a rebuild or replacement may be necessary.
  • The steering and suspension need to be gone through, and some replacement of bushings and bearings likely will be required.

It may take a while but Sandy will drive again. Assuming all goes well, Sandy’s first rally is targeted to be Asphault Adventures’ West Virginia to Key West Rally in May/June 2015.

Please look for updates on Sandy’s restoration on Two Horsemen of the Carpocalypse’s Facebook page and here on the team’s website (www.thotc.com) for updates.

Thanks for reading, and see you on the road!

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Stay tuned…

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