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22 Sep

It’s the best time of year. A beautiful morning in late September. Just a little bit too cool to wear a hoodie and shorts. A perfect day to turn wrenches out in the driveway. So, with coffee in hand, the early morning sun poking through the leaves of the tall trees and Mr. Brown happily depositing steaming piles of meals past on the dew covered grass, I roll the the combination back on the pad lock and retrieve my tools from the cold concrete cave that is my crappy little garage. I’m preparing supplies and listening to the birds as I eagerly await the arrival of my good friend and second pair of hands. Suddenly, my phone ignites in a frenzy of buzzing and beeping! It’s Greg, “Forgot I have to do something, I’ll be there at 10a.” He texts. “K. Cool.” I reply. Drats. Guess I’ll get started. I pull the seat and frame then dig out what I need to sever the fuel line and slide under ol’ Bessie. After assessing her undercarriage for a bit I clamp off the soft line before the fuel filter using an old rusty pair of vice-grips. Expecting a furious flow of fuel from the nearly full 17gal tank above, I prepare a 6gal gas can with a funnel and slowly remove the filter. Wincing as I loosen the the vice-grips. Nothing. I let it drain for an hour and I might have had an inch in the bottom of the can.

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Greg made it over a bit sooner than expected and after poking around with a coat hanger I decided to siphon it from the top. Not smart. Filled the 6gal can quick but the vapor from the lead additive almost made me vomit. While I was gagging I remembered that the new tank came with a 1/4″ plug in its outlet. So we plugged the flow on the old tank, unhooked the filler neck, removed the straps and lifted it from its saddles. Once the tank was out I noticed a large drain plug at one of the corners and we had it emptied in a matter of minutes.

Those old steel Toyota wheels I’ve been kicking around since 2004 finally came in handy. Two made a perfect stand for a tank weighing about 80lbs and one made a great fulcrum for emptying.



Shortly after draining the tank, member Olblue3600 stopped by to say hi. Unfortunately he was fighting fuel troubles of his own so he couldn’t bring his 3/4 ton.

Now back to the cab…


After a quick vacuum and wipe down with the new tank installed.


Artsy shot through the filler hole.


Filler neck attached.


Underside with tank and new line installed.


New lines and pump in place.


Temporary seat.


With the temporary seat in place, everything connected and 5gals of fresh fuel poured in, it was time to fire her up. After a chug or two she started right up and started leaking just as fast. Apparently the top and bottom halves of the fuel portion of the pump weren’t quite tight enough. Once tightened, I dialed in the carburetor and took her out for a spin by way of a gas station.


FINALLY! I made it further than a mile from home!!! Now to load up the mower and head to the girlfriends place.





F the haystack, the needle has been found!

21 Sep

After scouring the town for a brass 1/4″ FNPT to 3/8″ hose barb I finally had all the parts assembled to replace Bessie’s entire fuel system; Ni-Terne tank from Spectra, stainless lines from Inline Tube via American Classic Truck Parts, dual action glass bowl fuel pump from Chevs of the ’40s, the rebuilt Leakchester (yes, it’s already leaking) carburetor and base insulator that I installed earlier in the year from an old timer I know who builds em in his basement and 19gal worth of empty fuel cans on loan from friends.

About the almost fruitless hunt for the hose barb…
I decided to go with brass barbs and a section of hose instead of the available tank to line flex hose for a few reasons. One, it’s cheaper and I’ll have to cut it for the filter. Two, I waited till last minute to get the same part at NAPA that I coulda picked up through American Classic for less when I ordered the lines and tank pads. (*smacks forehead*) Still had a four day wait from NAPA … not gonna be in till Thursday. Not gonna work. So, at 1p this afternoon (Friday) the search began for a 1/4″ FNPT to 3/8″ barb. After four and a half hours of driving all over town and running into every big box and mom and pop hardware store, auto parts store and plumbing supply store with a +6′ long pre-bent, fitted and flared section of stainless hose, I headed back towards NAPA with little hope. Of course, my guys came through for me … “Brass is brass, look in the air tool section.” Joe says. Sure enough, there it is. Grabbed it and its infinitely more common counterpart, the 1/4″ MNPT to 3/8″ hose barb for the tank, a section of gas-o-hol safe hose and a clear fuel filter and headed home just in time for date night with my girlfriend.
Mmm… Indian food and patio drinks on a beautifully tepid clear summer evening.


4 Sep


Decided to go with a new tank over boiling and relining the old one for two reasons. One, from what I’ve read relining only lasts so long before it dissolves, allowing the tank to rust again, or it turns to gum and clogs everything. Two, I found the Spectra brand Ni-Tern (nickel/tin plated) tank for less than $150 shipped at RockAuto. No brainer. My time spent preforming the relining process is worth more than the difference in price.

The people at both and Spectra were more than helpful and remained totally friendly when I asked my usual way too many questions.

Towed again.

30 Aug

On Tuesday I pulled Bessie out of the garage and replaced the fuel filter, which was full of red sand, blew out the lines and decided not to replace the pump until I dealt with the rust in the tank. Worst case, I clog another cheap filter. In lieu, I opened up the old fuel pump and cleaned it out best I could without completely disassembling it. Flow looked good everywhere so I put it back together.

Two days later I went for a drive…


Got a little further than a mile from the house this time. As I was nearing the top of a long hill and downshifting into second she started bucking and sputtering. Dead. Luckily there was an open used car lot to my left and no oncoming traffic so I was able to coast in and park it next to a vintage Ford firetruck. The owners were good people, said I could leave it there as long as I needed. Even luckilyer, a good friend of mine who also happens to be the dispatcher for my towing company of choice was sitting in a window seat at Steak n’ Shake directly across the street. He called it in as soon as he saw me put the hood up. It gets better. He said the driver exclaimed, “I know the truck and where it’s going, just tell me where it’s at!” when the on duty dispatcher said “Green, white and rust 1951 Chevy picku…”


Plug for Bolin towing – – every driver (I think I know most of them at this point) has been awesome.

…make that three tows.

31 Jul


Tow number three in less than a week.

Seems like fuel. Pump diaphragm or carburetor float. …vapor lock maybe? …we’ll see.

Gremlin hunting. …cont’d.

5 Jun

Finally received the parts to complete the combination meter along with some other odds and ends.
Still waiting on the backordered headlamp switch though … if it takes long enough, I’ll go ahead and order a new harness and period correct fuse block to run accessories through and just get it all done at once.

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For a long while now the fuel gauge has intermittently worked. …more often not, but when it was working it was never all that accurate. At some point after disassembling the combination meter I noticed one of the posts on the back of the gauge was loose. Turns out its simply a knurled section of the post that presses through the fiber board on the back side of the gauge and the board had deteriorated around it. Unfortunately this fitting also holds the completed connection between the post and the gauge innards together. Although I was able to repair it by making a permanent connection with a dab of solder I chose to order a replacement gauge. When I received the replacement fuel gauge I immediately noticed that it didn’t match the decals I used to reface the rest of the gauges. So, I ended up having to order another decal sheet.

There are a lot of differences between the original and new gauges. The most annoying is that the new one is a smidge taller causing the trim plate to press against the needle. This was remedied by gently grinding out the edge making contact with the needle and slightly bending the center portion of the trim plate outward to clear the needle base.

After refacing. Insulators, warning tag and gauge comparison. (Old on the left, new on the right.)
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Back of combination meter.
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Detail of new warning tag.

Reassembled combination meter.
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Side note: My kitchen counter tops make an awesome neutral gray background. 8)

Busy, busy, busy!

9 Apr

Friday: Bryan and I fire it up and after a minute of rough idling the water pump blows. Sprayed coolant everywhere. Luckily, I have that spare motor with a working pump and Autozone had the gaskets in stock. So, we drain everything, pull the radiator and replace the pump. Went smooth, no leaks.

Saturday: Greg comes over and we start trouble shooting the fuel issue. Flow is a trickle at the carburetor. After a beer and another trip to Autozone for a fuel pump gasket, we pull the 62 year old mechanical glass bowl fuel pump off the spare motor to replace the cheap 20yr old aftermarket pump on the “running” motor. I figured I should open up the pump we’re using and clean it out a bit before installing, so I do and, POP!, there goes the sixty-two year old bell shaped top cap that holds the glass bowl on. Gone. Can’t find it anywhere. Did I mention it was SIXTY-TWO years old. No replacement parts. Then I remember that I have another non-working but complete fuel pump in the basement in a box of parts from the previous owner. Problem solved. Pump cleaned, reassembled and installed. Still no flow at the carb but the bowl eventually fills and the fuel is clean. It filled slowly so we know the issue has to be upstream which means a clogged line or tank outlet. We push the ol’ bitch the rest of the way out of the garage, slide under and there it is! Some farmer, in what had to be the 60’s or so, cut the metal line and installed a directional fuel filter the size of a softball. We pull it off and there isn’t much flow out of the tank above us. I point the filter down and the fuel is clear but pink, point it the other way and red sand. The whole thing was full of rust. I swear the previous owner told me the tank had been relined or at least cleaned out … oh well, no worries. I replaced the old filter with a cheapie from Autozone, turned it over and immediately we got a quarter beer bottle at the carb. Flow restored! We button everything up, Greg heads home and Bryan comes back over. We reset the timing. She idles well again. I spun her around the block. Ride was shaky, almost stalled a couple times but things are looking up! I’ll just keep replacing the fuel filters every couple drives until they stop getting cloudy.

Dead again.

26 Mar

She died on me again. This time it seems fuel related. Met an old timer around the corner who has a 49 and a 54 Chev Coupe. Said he’ll let me borrow a 216 fuel pump.

Out with the old, in with the new!

28 Nov

Got the new carburetor on yesterday afternoon and she runs like a champ! Still need to dial it in a bit but she’s ready for a few more cold day runs before getting put up on blocks for the winter. I’m hoping this cures some hesitation issues she’s been having. The old one was a bit warped and in need of a rebuild and I got the new one cheap from an old timer who rebuilds em and sells on ebay. Plus I’m thinking about running a dual carb intake down the road.

Carburetor, new vs old … I’ll let you decide which is which.


Fun stuff!

3 Nov

Got a bunch of new toys in the mail over the past couple weeks.

Vintage porcelain bobble hula girl
NOS Airway illuminated compass
NOS bumpers + stainless domed bolt kit
Mint Guide 7″ yellow lens fog lamps + NOS “Fog Lite” switch
Repop Guide tail lamps
Repop Stop-Ray tail lamp brackets
’50s external sun visor
“Sleepy” Headlight visors
Speedo and Combination meter rebuild kit
Rebuilt 1bbl Rochester B carburetor
A pile of random gaskets, seals and stainless hardware

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2011-11-04 18.07.18
^ Notice the difference in the lenses. I went with the plastic lens on the new tail lights because they appear to let more light pass through where as the original glass lenses seem more opaque. The new lamps also take a 21cp Stop bulb instead of the original 6cp bulb.