Fiberglass Front Clip

For 43 years my 37 Chevy Coupe has been wearing a grill, radiator shell and hood from a 38 Chevy. This blog entry and later additions will document my efforts to convert it to a fiberglass front clip for the 37 Chev that it is.

Note that the following pic is not what I am installing. I actually bought all of this as parts: separate fenders, hood top, hood sides and radiator shell. Also bought a 37 grill that needs to be mounted. A lot more work to be done.

37 Chevy Front End

Fiberglass Trunk Lid

This article describes the fitting of a fiberglass trunk lid on a 1937 Chevy Coupe.  The trunk lid was purchased from Superior Glassworks in Mulino, OR in August 2011.  The described installation was completed in August 2012.
trunk lid catalog
The trunk lid was actually delivered in two pieces, an inner piece that is ribbed and the outer piece that had been frenched to hold the license plate.  Note that the outer lid currently shown above is without the frenched-in license.
trunk lid inner
The first step in installation was to mark the inner lid for the hinge bolt. The inner lid was positioned using cardboard along the edges and clamps to hold it in place while the hinge holes were marked with pencil from the underside.
trunk lid clamped to mark hinges - 2
The holes were then drilled and tapped through the metal reinforcement plates bonded into the inner lid.
trunk lid drilled holes
The inner lid was then bolted into place and the outer lid was positioned on it for initial checking.  It was confirmed at this point that some modification was going to be needed to the hinges to get the surfaces of the lid and body be level.  Adjustment will be handled later.
trunk lid initial fitting
The next step was to drill holes for the latch mechanism and to cut the inner lid to clear the frenched inset for the license plate.  Initially, a section was just cut out to clear the license plate area.  This section was later refined to actually fit the contour of the frenched surface.
trunk lid cut to clear license
Since the contour of the inner trunk lid was raised more in the top middle due to some warpage in the mold process, a few saw cuts were made in the top edge and the lid was clamped and glassed to lock the reduced contour in place.
trunk lid cut to adjust contour
The latch mechanism was then mounted by drilling holes where needed and the nuts for the mointing bolts were glassed over on the inner side to hold them in place.  These areas would be inaccessible after the two lid pieces were bonded together so this allows the latch bolts to be removed if later necessary.
trunk lid latch bolt nuts glassed
After sanding down the contact areas of the two lids pieces, they were bonded together with polyurethane construction adhesive and then clamped together at eight points for 24 hours.
trunk lid adhesive trunk lid clamped
Following the bonding of the two lid pieces, the piece cut out of the inner lid was modified to closely fit the frenched-in license area and then glassed together with both lid pieces.
trunk lid french glassed
Note that this could have been done much cleaner if the portion removed from the inner lid could have been determined without cutting out the whole section first.  The total material that was eventually removed looked like this.
trunk lid french cutout trunk lid french cutout2
After all of the above was done, the extra glue was removed from the seam and the edges were sanded down so the the joint was even all around.  The original trunk lift supports were replaced with a pressurized gas lift kit.  Now it actually takes as much downward force to close the lid as it did originally to open it.
trunk lid gas lift kit
Finally, the hinges were adjusted for position by using two orange strap clamps to pull the lid to the left and up while wedges were inserted to lower the surface to align with the body.  These wedges are currently made of wood but may be replaced with metal later.
trunk lid hinge adjustment trunk lid hinge wedge
The final trunk lid looks like this before further body work and painting is done in the future. Note that the left taillight stand is not crooked.  It's just a result of the camera lens.  The stand will be modified to remove the vertical taillight bracket. The ferrule that was originally used around the trunk handle could not be used. The shaft of the handle would not reach through to the latch mechanism since the new fiberglass lid is at least 1/4 inch thicker than the original steel lid.
trunk lid w collectors plate

1937 Chevy Update

Just noticed that it has been about a year since I posted about the old car.  I did get the frame finished after my last status and got a newer grill and four fiberglass fenders mounted.  I bought four new Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires for the new rims, but then found out that the 15 inch wheels did not fit under the front fenders.  That pretty much finished out 2010.
I didn't get a whole lot done in 2010.  About the time the weather warmed up, I was hit by a couple of medical problems.  It wasn't until later in the Fall that I bought a fiberglass trunk lid and found out I had some work to get it mounted.  Turns out that it came in two parts: the outer shell and the inner ribbed section.  Since I ordered the model that had a "frenched" license plate section in the outer shell, the inner section needed to be modified to clear the depressed license area.  Also all of the mounting areas for hinges and latch needed to be drilled.  There were 20 holes to drill with 10 into reinforcing plates that also needed to be tapped.  I am still working on it and plan a separate posting to describe the separate steps involved with mounting it.
In the meantime, here is what the car looks like.

Bubble Flare

double-flare.  A single-flare is often used for larger plumbing types of fittings.  The 93 Buick (and many other GM cars during that period) use a bubble-flare.  All of the flaring kits that I could borrow or buy locally are for double-flaring, but I discovered through the internet that the first step in making a double-flare will work as a bubble-flare.  I also discovered that the flaring tool has to be in good condition.  I actually bought a new tool that was so cheap that it broke after the second flare.  I rented a couple of tools that were worn out.  Finally, I found a flaring tool to borrow that was new and never used.  My last two flares worked perfectly which of course is why they were the last two flares.
Well, after about a dozen trips to six different auto parts stores over a week period, I finally have the brake line fixed and the Buick is again drivable.  Unfortunately, I also discovered that it needs new brake pads in the front so that is the project for next week.

Last week, my daughter mentioned that the brakes on our 1993 Buick Century were not working very well.  The next morning, after driving it around the block, it barely stopped back in the driveway.  Further investigation showed that the brake-line to the passenger side rear wheel had rusted and sprung a leak. Since I could not drive it further and I had replaced brake-lines before, I decided to fix it myself.
Now, typically, all cars that I have worked on had one brake-line to the rear axle which then had one flexible hose splitting to two steel brake-lines, one to each rear wheel.  This car had had separate brake-lines  and hoses to each rear wheel.  The brake-line was over 13 feet long and was routed around the engine and firewall.  Since most of the brake-line was solid with surface rust, I thought I could cut it off and splice in a new section.  That's when the "fun" began.
The first rule of fixing an old car should be to take off the old part and take it with you to the auto part store.  That I did not do.  I went to one of my local auto part stores and picked up a 60" brake-line, some fittings and a new brake hose.  Might as well replace the hose at the same time.  Well, it turned out that the new brake hose did not match the old one and I had to make my second trip to the parts store.  That parts store did not have the correct hose, even though their computer said the hose was for a 93 Buick.  So I picked up a correct hose at another store.  By then I had the old hose with me to match it up.
Note that I also borrowed a brake-line flaring tool at the first store so I quickly cut the old line, flared it and connected it with the new brake-line and hose.  Now it should be a simple job of getting the air out of the brake-line. Problem was that both connections in the brake-line leaked.  I tightened the connection from the new line to the new hose, but stripped the threads.  Back to the second parts store for a new hose and brake-line.  Luckily, at this point the parts only cost about $20.
Back home, I cut some more off the old brake line since my first flare was not good enough and I had some extra bends in the new line to allow for such problems.  I could just stretch the new line out another inch to make another flare.  But my second attempt was no good as well probably because the old line was rusty.  I went back to the first parts store another 8" brake line and couple more fittings since the first line would not stretch any further and I need to get farther along to a better portion of the old brake line.  Well, the new 8" brake line would not even screw into the fittings.
Another trip back to the first parts store showed that they had given me a "Japanese" brake line with a larger diameter fitting.  My trust in this store giving me the right parts was waning by this time.  Unfortunately my third flaring attempt was unsuccessful as well and my 48 hour loan on the flaring tool was nearing its end.  At this point, I decided that I would just replace the whole 13 foot brake-line with one piece, but I had to buy a 25 foot roll of brake-line to do it.  Another $25.
After a few days rest on the weekend, I got back into fitting the new long brake-line.  I cut off about 14 feet of the roll to use.  I bent the rear end of the line to fit around the axle, flared and connected it to the hose and routed the rest of the line up to the master brake cylinder on the driver's side of the engine compartment.  I did not remove all of the old brake-line and ran the new line near the top of the firewall where it was easier to work with and bend. A big problem was figuring out which of the four brake-lines at the master cylinder was the correct one to replace.  A repair manual would have helped. My first guess after trying to follow the two left brakes lines under the firewall was wrong.  I tested the line by injecting brake fluid into it with a syringe.  When it didn't come out the other cut off end, I tried the other line which passed the brake fluid.  I cut the fitting off the old brake-line and reused it since it was a different thread.  After pressure testings the new connected line, I discovered that the fitting at the rear wheel leaked and was still incorrect. In checking with the parts store, I found out that the flare not only needed to be a bubble-flare, but the fitting needed to be a European metric thread.
So what is this thing called a "Bubble Flare"?  I discovered that my 93 Buick did not have standard flared brake-lines.  Actually, the standard is called a

Mecum Auction & New Wheels

MSRA street rod show, but I did attend the show on Friday and Sunday.  On Friday, I spent 5 hrs there with my brother-in-law and saw a portion of the Mecum Auto Auction.  We followed the auction of a 28 Ford Model A coupe that my brother was interested in.  It sold for $15,000.  I watch the Mecum auction every Saturday night on cable TV and it was fun to see it in real life.  I had cramps in my legs on Friday night so stayed home on Saturday, but found out that Mecum was broadcasting live on their web site and through Ustream.
On Sunday, my son came with me to the swap meet and I bought a set of 4 aluminum wheels, shown below.  These should spruce up the old car quite a bit.  I should be able reuse a few of the tires that I already have.
monday, 21 june 2010 12:21
Well, I didn't get the frame fixed in time to take the 37 Chevy to the
On both days, we walked for miles though did not see all 12,000 cars that were there.  The cars are driven into the fair grounds in the morning and have to leave each night.  It is unlikely that they are in the same spot each day.  I did get some good photos of another red 37 Chevy coupe that was valued at $76,000.  Also got photos of a 1950 Studebaker like one that my sister-in-law used to drive and of a 1940 Chevy coupe like that a friend of mine owned.    I could have taken many more pictures like I have in the past, but have become more selective.

1937 Chevy Coupe

I have owned a 1937 Chevy Master Deluxe Business Coupe for over 41 years.  The following picture shows it back in October 1969 when I first found it near Rabbit Bay in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan while I was attending Michigan Technological University. The owner of the property where it was sitting gave it to me and I was able to get a "red" lost title in Michigan.  Since then, it has been licensed in Iowa, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota.

1937 chevy old

In 1969 and 70, I fixed this car up pretty well replacing all the running gear with late model (50's & 60's) parts.  I drove it on its first major trip of about 600 miles to Ames, IA (Iowa State University) in August, 1970.  My wife and I took it on our honeymoon in May 1971 and it was our primary car for the first 5 years of our marriage.  I drove it over 70,000 miles in the next 15 years, but after 40 years, it deteriorated until several years ago when I started to fix it up again.

The following picture shows how it looked last Fall after I put in a rebuilt 350 V8 engine, new headers and a new aluminum radiator.  Any auto purists will note that it now has a 1938 grill and "dog house".  Only the front end including the hood differed between 1937 and 1938.  I still have the 1937 parts which I hope to restore in the next couple of years.

37 chevy

I currently have the rear fenders and wheels removed as well and am repairing the rusted frame on the rear driver's side.  I have four fiberglass fenders that I actually bought 25 years ago and plan to put on next week.  It is registered for the "Back to the 50's" street rod show in two weeks so I hope to be driving it again by then. Over the next year, I hope to refinish the whole body and interior.


Ignition Coil Housing

Ignition Coil Housing
sunday, 09 april 2006 18:00


Well, this blog entry is a departure from my computer related stuff so far, but still njerdy. Several weeks ago, our 97 Malibu stopping running while my wife was at her mother's house. It would start but run very rough like there was an ignition problem. We had a similar problem which cost us $300-400 about 4 years ago. The first time this happened, I went looking for spark plug wires to check, but there were none. I could not even find the spark plugs which were hidden under a metal cover on top of the engine. Since we needed the car running ASAP, we had to pay for a tow to a mechanic. This time, my mother-in-law was in the hospital and her car was available for my wife to drive while I sorted out the problem.

After my son helped push the car into the garage, it took me a week to get back there and check the engine computer codes which showed "multiple cylinder misfires". It took less than 30 minutes to take the top of the engine off. Underneath was the ignition coil housing shown above which is actually upside down. The four terminals on this housing connect to the spark plugs. Inside the housing are two coils, providing spark for two plugs each. A little checking with an ohm meter showed that there was a short (low resistance) between terminals 1 and 3. Another week of procrastination later, NAPA Auto Parts had a replacement for $72 and about 30 minutes later the car was back in operation.