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.
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.
Thanks for reading, and see you on the road!
Thanks to Jim Thwaite at Asphault Adventures, Sandy’s seized engine has been set free! It is too early to call the patient cured, but hopes (and pulse rates) are running high. A new head gasket will be applied shortly to facilitate a more complete diagnosis of the patient.
Stay tuned for Episode Seven – With The Turn Of A Key…
Apparently, Murphy continues to ride as an unofficial and unwelcome Third Horseman…
Looks like the engine in the Cranbrook has some…er… small… issues contrary to what was represented by the seller. Friend Jim Thwaite at Asphault Adventures is showing tremendous ingenuity (and patience) in trying to get thing moving again, but drastic action may be required if the Cranbrook’s “freely turning” engine proves to be anything but…
A couple of possible options being explored:
- Find a replacement running Flathead 6 engine and swap it in. While the most easily executed backup plan, these engines are not as pervasive as the Slant 6 and finding one could be a bit of a challenge. The team is putting word on the street to its many Mopar fans that such an engine is being sought… perhaps Murphy will look the other way for a moment and one will turn up.
- Rebuild the existing engine. This option looks costly and complicated, especially as compared to swapping in an identical replacement engine. However, if we can diagnose the exact point of failure, it may be a less-ambitious endeavor.
- Go Rat Rod-lite and swap in something other than the correct engine. On the plus side, this is potentially inexpensive and comparatively easy, especially since conversion kits for both Mopar and Chevy V8s are readily available. Finding a more contemporary replacement engine shouldn’t be a big deal, and would result in a far peppier Cranbrook than the Chrysler engineers ever intended. (For the record, a Slant 6 is not really a viable swap no matter how much we want it to be. We checked.)
- Go full-on Rat Rod and do a chassis swap. Friend Jim discovered that there is less than a 0.5″ difference in the wheelbase of the Cranbrook and of a Chevy S10 Extended Cab. While not an the least expensive or or complicated option, it would yield a Cranbrook-looking street rod with plenty of pep, modern brakes and suspension and possibly even air-conditioning. However, the team is just not sure how driving a Chevy in Mopar clothing will sit with the team’s Mopar fans…
Georgia Cool Cruisers‘ annual Cruise-In for Toys For Tots at the Galaxy Diner in Atlanta, Georgia was a resounding success! Dozens of interesting and exciting cars, hundreds of attendees, and a huge outpouring of support for a great charity made for an exciting Saturday. The final tally was 762 toys with an estimated value of $10,500 that will find their way to hundreds of needy and deserving children and over $2,500 in cash to help Toys For Tots acquire even more toys and offset the costs of getting those toys into children’s hands.
Many thanks to Georgia Cool Cruisers, Rick and Sharon Ellis, and the many volunteers who made this event happen. Two Horsemen of the Carpocalypse is humbled and honored to have played even a small role in it.
Enjoy pictures of some of the great cars that turned out for this spectacular event in the slideshow below.