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It's no jive, today I'm 65

January 20, 2013

This has been a superb weekend.

Our Lambda Car Club held a weekend invitational which was attended by members of the clubs around the country, including one from England. Being one of the organizers of the event has been fun and sharing the time with good friends has been very rewarding.

On Saturday, we held a car show by the Hilton Gardens Inn Hotel on Central Ave. in Phoenix with about 40 cars on display. With all the shiny paint and chrome, beautiful designs, colors, fins, interiors etc, it was a great showing of pride of ownership by the owners. 

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I had originally hoped to have Phiona completely restored for this event, but decided it was not worth stressing out and hurrying to have her totally done by yesterday. Instead, I realized most people have never seen the bare bones inside of an early era vehicle, let alone a stripped interior of any car. So, early yesterday, I fired up the old girl and, sitting on my ammo box seat, I headed uptown for the pleasant drive up Central Avenue to the hotel. It was a very, very nice day, with temps in the 70's (a great relief from last week when we reached a high of 45 and had 5 nights of freezing weather). It could not have been better for the weather for this event, and for that matter, for the many big auto auctions that are also happening this weekend, with the Barrett-Jackson auction being the largest (the Batmobile sold there for $4.2 MILLION yesterday).

With Phiona on public display for the first time since the accident and year long reconstruction/restoration, even I was stunned to see her sitting nicely out in the bright Arizona sunshine, looking resplendent in her new color scheme. With doors open on one side, spectators looked inside to see exactly how the wood skeleton on this era car is constructed. Even without an interior, Phiona showed very well indeed. 

Hemmings Motor News were on hand to view our cars, and I was told they are interested in talking to me about Phiona for a possible story in one of their publications. How cool would that be?

By 1 p.m. I was heading back home again and rested until departing for the evening's banquet, entertainment and awards ceremony.

Our event theme was "Phoenix Rising" as a tribute to the growth of the city of Phoenix from the earliest Native American civilizations here nearly 2000 years ago up to and including our modern development and growth to the 5th largest city in the USA. 

Donovon Wood, scripted a short skit revolving around "lost" car names, Studebaker LARK, Ford FALCON and Plymouth ROADRUNNER ( you see where this is going?) Last Sunday, Donovon took me aside and asked me to participate, in a non speaking role at the end of the skit, whereupon I was to enter, in a very colorful feathers, and to camp it up to the max, flutter around the room as being introduced as the newest member of the extinct car "birds". 

As the skit then concluded, I was hit with a SURPRISE.

Kent Schweiss, had been planning and pulled off a feat that had me turning brighter red that the colored feathers in my winged costume. Kent announced to the group that today, Sunday would be my 65th birthday and then up the center of the room someone was pushing a cart with something upon it. At first, I could not see what was approaching, but, then, as it neared me I could see  what looked like a model car, and then in quick recognition I could see it was a BLUE car with Black fenders - a replica of Phiona!

They tell me the look on my face was priceless.

I'm still in disbelief at how they pulled this off. A LOT of the club obviously knew about it and were able to keep it under wraps.

Boy, oh boy, what an ending to the day and a start into my 65th year. 

The cake? Well, I decided to not cut the cake then and we talked about maybe preserving it somehow. But, having overnight to think about it, and reading some information online, I didn't think it could reasonably be kept intact. The hotel agreed to keep the cake until today when I picked it up and took it to an "afterglow" get together at Roger & Roberto's home. It was there that I cut and served the cake. Now I have less than half left, which I can now cut up in smaller portions and freeze. Oh, and it was a delicious dessert, rich, moist dark chocolate with some raspberry filling. It was good that I could share it with friends.

Still feeling stunned by this surprise last night, I have to say, my friends ROCK! 

I am so ever thankful to have friends like you and appreciate all you do for me.

Thank you from the depths of my heart.

Don

By the way, Phiona won the "Favorite vehicle Under Construction" award last night. A fitting tribute, I'd say.



Pinstripe

Saturday, December 12, 2013

Amazing how a simple little line can make a big impact, but that is exactly what adding a tasteful fine line pinstripe has done for Phiona.

Ron Hernandez has been pin striping for 30 years, since he was 19 years old. He has done some amazing designs in addition to the plain pin striping as he's done on Phiona. He has two customized cars himself, a '51 Merc and a '49 Cadilac. 

Yesterday, Friday, I went to the body shop to retrieve Phiona where, this week, they had done some touch up on scratches and such, then did a final polish and buff. I was stunned at the shine, as were others who had seen the car, according to Mike who did the work. Since the taillights are not functioning very well, Mike followed me home for a safer, if not legal, drive.

Ron Hernandez was suggested as a good pin striper, so I called him and he offered to come this morning to do the pin striping.

In about an hour, Ron was done with his work and Phiona, again, took on another new appearance. It was like adding eye liner or a bit of make up, just the right touch for some highlighting and a touch of flair.

Here are photos of the process this morning, before the pin stripe, taping, applying the stripe and the final product.

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I've parked Phiona back in the garage and will let the paint dry thoroughly before getting back to tackling the light issues, which we think is a grounding problem. Some of this I might be able to remedy, or try to in any case, by scraping off some of the undercoating to get a more bare surface for a good ground. Steve has the knowledge and tools, however, to do a better analysis and remedy and I hope we can find time to fix the problems. The trunk will be a mostly straightforward assembly which should cause no problems and could be installed again fairly quickly.

Next week I am to report for jury duty, so that may curtail my efforts to work on the electrical issues. Jury duty also will necessitate a delay on having the upholstery installed before next weekend. But it will get done eventually, in the next couple of weeks at the most. 

She's coming along.


Up and Running!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oh yeah, I am thrilled to have Phiona up and running again!

Over the past few weeks, I've had a setback having come down with a cold just before Christmas. So that curtailed much effort on finishing up my work on Phiona. 

I'd hoped to have the car done by Christmas, then New Years, but those targets were not realistic due to how I was feeling, But I did get the turn signals re-mounted, and disassembled the dome light and a few other smaller projects. Before Christmas I had help from Kent, Tom Bodmer and Tom Rime, mostly with installing window channels and windows. Having made a mistake with the rear door window channels, I had to re-order the channels so that I could form them properly to the window glass. That project was completed today with John Egert's assistance. I also had some complicated window corner wood parts made by Morrie Shaw.

Most of the really difficult work was completed with Steve Moore's help. That help was with re-wiring the dome light, heater motor and dash lights, then installing the dashboard and the gauges and switches.

With the gauges in place, we filled up the radiator with water/antifreeze, added fuel to the tank, and, using an old ammo box as a seat, I got in and cranked over the engine after 13 months of hibernation. With Steve spraying starter fluid into the carb, it took about 10 seconds or so for the fuel to be pumped to the carb, whereupon Phiona roared to life again. It was sweet to hear that old straight 8 purring. I was thrilled to have reached that milestone!

While the engine started up and ran well, a check of the electrical systems was of mixed success. The heater motor, while operating very well on the bench, will not turn on. Likewise, the headlights are not working, the taillights are very, very dim, and the dashboard lights are not lighting up. We figure there is a ground problem, which I hope Steve can help diagnose and resolve. But, on  the other hand, the radio works, the parking lights work, the dome light burns brightly, and the turn signals flash. 

Today, after John helped me finish up the rear door windows installation, I went up to the body shop and asked about when I might get the car in to touch up paint chips and scratches due to damages from installing the windows and other little mishaps. Mike told me he could take the car right then and would have the painter get on it to fix the problems areas and also have the pinstripe added. They will also do a final buff and polish. Being reluctant to drive the car without taillights, Mike suggested one of his guys go with me to get Phiona and then follow me back to the shop. Since he says he could get right on it, we drove back to get the car and then I drove Phiona the two miles down to the shop. It was weird sitting on an ammo box, no interior, mirrors or other comforts driving down Cave Creek Road. But it also felt a bit exhilarating to be behind the wheel again and actually driving her. Mike says he can turn the car around in a few days.  I hope to get the car back by Thursday (we'll see how that goes, won't we?).

From the body shop I went to see Chavel at Aatco Upholstery to talk about finishing the interior. He will need about 4 or 5 days and will wait until I get the car again from the body shop at which time we'll discuss a time when I can leave the car with him.

So, now I have a new target date for completion - January 20, my 65th birthday. If we don't make it, that's ok too. I'm not going to get stressed out on target dates. Over the past couple of months I accepted that this is a "project" and putting too many goals or target dates on it was imposing unneeded stress on myself. So, I've been content to do what I can, when I can and with the guys who've helped get the work done as best we can. 

Everyone who has helped me has shared learning experiences as we try to figure out how to put the car back together again. I've certainly gotten to know my car intimately, right down to her bare bones. Seeing the progress from outside in and now inside out has been more enjoyable than I would have imagined. However, I don't really want to take on a project like this again anytime soon.

Tom Bodmer helping with windows.

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Rewired dome light.

Right rear quarter window

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Me attaching switches to the dashboard.

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Dash installed without gauge panel or glove box.

Steve showing gauge panel and two gauges reattached.

John holding window with newly formed window channel.

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And here she is, The Lovely Phiona.

The gauge panel in the dashboard.

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Newly installed dashboard with gauge panel and switches.


She's ALIVE!

This video may take awhile to load...

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A short video of Phiona on Monday, January 7, 2013.

Yesterday, Sunday, 1/6/13, Steve Moore helped me complete installing the dashboard then attach the gauges and do some rewiring under the dash. Then we added water and antifreeze, gasoline, and used carb cleaner as our starting fluid to fire up the old girl after about 13 months of resting her engine. In short order, about 10 seconds, fuel was pumping from the gas tank to the carb and Phiona's engine started to purr once again. And what a sweet sound it was!

Sorry, the sound did not record on this video.