A sad day.

I know I haven’t posted much of anything in a long while. Though I have been ever so slowly getting odds and ends done on the various project vehicles (the Morgans, the F100s, and the Barracuda), but nothing’s felt major enough of a milestone to make a post about.

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about Bill Fink, of MorganCars USA (aka Isis Imports). I just learned that Bill passed away. I deeply regret the many missed opportunities I had to meet him and, at the very least, thank him in person for being an inspiration for me. It was reading about his doing the Ecotec and LS swaps into Morgans that inspired me to begin this whole MogRod mess. I can’t speak from first-hand knowledge, but he was always spoken well of from any Morgan aficionado I’ve meet, and many would accredit him and his work with keeping Morgans available in the US.

As I never got to meet him in person, I can’t say much personally about him beyond my brief yet pleasant phone conversations, but my deepest condolences to his friends and family at this time for their loss.

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+1 +4

So after multiple delayed responses from a parts vendor in the UK, and the determination that the cost to replace both the chassis and the frame (among many other things) on the ’64 +4 was going to get very high before it would get anywhere, my father and I discussed shelving the ’64 +4 for the time being until other projects were done. However, we agreed that, for the sake of trying, I should ask around to see if there happened to be a +4 of that era around that could be bought as a source for those parts…

Well, after a few weeks of busy-work and some other things, we towed home a 1961 +4 that is, as we put it, “some assembly required”, but it is well together for the most part and in excellent shape. It cost less to acquire this vehicle than it would have to buy the chassis and frame for the ’64…

This is going to be the new MogRod.

But what about the ’64?

Well, on the drive up, my dad and I started scheming. Some of the original plans for the MogRod are going to come into play, and go a step further. We are currently strongly considering and researching the idea of building a custom chassis for the vehicle, and making an electric conversion for it. More info on that will come along as we make decisions (it helps having a friend who works at Tesla to go to for reference), but I think it has potential to be a radical ride in its own right.

For the time being, I’m moving along on the two F100 projects, and we’ve agreed that getting those moving forward is going to be the higher project vehicle priority. The ’53 may or may not get sold off as parts, as there’s potentially enough damage to the cab that it may not be worth our time and money, but that is going to be determined by input from a body shop.

Overall, I’m excited. This has potentially put me a year or two ahead on the MogRod project, and in a position to do some minor clean-up and actually start putting things together. It also means I’ve got a looooooot more parts I’ve got to sort through and store.

Posted in 1961 Morgan +4, 1966 Morgan +4 | Leave a comment

Streamlining the process

A bit of a shift in the workload, as I’ve just made an agreement (with deposit) to sell the 1972 Airstream Ambassador.

The travel trailer was an ambitious project, to say the least. Originally I’d planned to make it into a custom car hauler for the Morgan, but discovering how relatively good condition it was in overall changed that into a ‘restoration’ project instead. After that dragged on, combined with a few injuries in the family and our waning interest in making use of it as a travel trailer, I set about selling it off.

It’s unfortunate that I won’t have completed this particular project, but it really was “one more thing” on an already overwhelming pile of things.

The couple that are picking it up have a interior design company, so it’s definitely going to be with a pair of dudes that have a good eye on things, from what I’ve seen of their work. Even they have admitted that their timeline may be a bit ambitious, but considering how straightforward much of the Airstream is once you get over the scale of it, I think they could manage to pull it off.

I may someday again consider getting another travel trailer, but it’ll have to be when life actually allows the free time to make use of it, and it’s probably going to be more on the scale of a “Bambi” model. Until then, this will definitely take some weight off my shoulders, visually clean up the property, and the money may well be going to help push the UK-based chassis maker get their butts in gear (dealing with them is still an on-going ‘discussion’ that needs to be resolved).

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Still waiting…

What I had hoped would be a quick order and a big step forward on the project is dragging out indefinitely it seems.

The company in the UK I was going to order the new chassis, frame, and suspension from is dragging things out because of the chassis.

I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve sent back and forth to both them and the chassis manufacturer trying to get through to them that I do not want a custom chassis, but they’re all hung up on the fact that I am going to be putting the Solstice engine and transmission into the vehicle.

I’ve told them, repeatedly, that I am not asking them to either modify the chassis or even worry about what I may or may not have to do to get the Ecotec installed, but that does not seem to be sinking in. It’s honestly rather frustrating.

I do have other places I could go, but going through this vendor is going to be the best option as they are located close to the suspension, chassis, and frame manufacturers, and in particular the frame manufacturer has been highly regarded by other Morgan owners.

Barring any unexpected financial issues or such calamities, if this hasn’t moved forward by roughly the end of January, I’m thinking I’m going to have to come on a little stronger and tell them to either move forward with the order or I’ll go elsewhere.

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, Restoration | Leave a comment

Fab-ulous weekend

So, some interesting progress this weekend.

I was recently introduced to John Buddenbaum, or possibly re-introduced as I believe we’d met previously, owner of Buddenbaum Fabrication in San Carlos. He’s an interesting individual to say the least, and by interesting I mean his garage / fab shop is something most car guys dream of. He’s also had some Bonneville experience, and in fact the reason I was able to meet with him on my busy schedule was he was in the shop taking the fire suppression system from that vehicle and putting it in his Morgan for track use.

Anyways, I visited him as it had been suggested he could possibly repair the front wing (fender) damage my original wings had taken, and for a good bit less than the ~$1k / each price I was looking at for a new pair. So taking those nearly 7 foot long fenders in our Avalanche, the only vehicle they’ll fit in, up to his shop for review, we determined he could get the repairs done.

While chatting with him about my project, it occurred to me that even though I’m ordering a new chassis, in the mean time I can use the existing chassis to begin mock-up for the Solstice motor and transmission mounts.

I will have to ask John the next time I’m at his shop if he would mind letting me take some photos to share with you folks.

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, Restoration | Leave a comment

Time warpage

Small post, had the original +4 chassis up on sawhorses today to look over it, and discovered even more significant damage to the frame. In particular, the rear section was pushed over about an inch on one side, and bend over about 15 degrees on the other side.

For this much damage, it doesn’t make much sense for me to reuse the original for how cheaply I could get a new one. I’d hate to spend so much time and money on it only to have something out of line, or worse, fail at a later date (like when I’m driving it).

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, Upgrades | Leave a comment

Mad dogs & Englishmen

Last Saturday was over 100° F outside, fortunately I spent the day in Monterey playing airsoft not far from the ocean, so I only experienced high 70’s. That Sunday (the 24th) however, was in the high 80’s, and I spent wrenching on the Morgan.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all the bolts for the rear suspension mounts to be almost able to be turned by hand. Contrary to my experiences with the Barracuda, nothing has seized up over the years. My father attributes this to the fact that “all English cars are self-lubricated during operation.” I got the rear axle, leaf springs, and rebound spring assemblies off the chassis, and stored them back in the tent. It was late enough at that point that I called it quits.

This weekend, it was in the high 80’s to 90’s on Saturday, so again I decided it’d be good to work on the Mog. I, by my father’s suggestion, unbolted the bell housing from the back of the engine, and that proved to be a mistake. When I went to try and lift the engine, the bell hosing and transmission were too heavy to lift free. So, I just kept lifting the engine. The engine mount rubber was so dry and rotted that they just fell apart (unnerving, as that was all that had been holding the engine in place for several months). Then, my troubles started.

I had a metal cart that I was going to lower and strap down the engine to, and one of the wheels collapsed… which caused the engine, transmission still attached, to topple over. This resulted in breaking the distributor and spilling a good deal of oil out the oil fill cap (that I spent Sunday cleaning up). After much pulling and cursing, I wrenched free the transmission, put that on a separate wooden cart, and then kludged together a setup to hold the engine upright on a wooden cart with a large plastic tub strapped to it. I unfortunately do not have any photos of the chassis with the engine out, I was too wiped out and dinner was getting cold when I rolled all that back into the tent.

I was considering trying to get the remainder of the front end off the chassis this Sunday, but between the heat, being sore as all hell (I’m all kinds of broken as of late), and one of my puppies hurting their leg and needing attention, I spent Sunday just relaxing and recouping.

Might spend some of the Fourth on the car if it’s not too hot out.

Oh, also, I’ve been restoring a Boyle-Dayton gas pump that I acquired from my neighbors. It’s back together enough that we’ve got it in a temporary spot out front of the garage until we make a more permanent fixture to mount it on.

Also-also, the Airstream – coworkers have helped remove all the exterior paint, and while attempts to polish have failed, we did get the whole exterior sanded to a uniform finish with some ~350 grit sandpaper. Currently looking into ways to get a proper polish on it, and will return to fixing up the interior again soon.

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, 1972 Airstream Ambassador, General, Other Cars, Restoration | Leave a comment

Some new additions…

Some new toys showed up this week. #ford #f100 #1953 #1956

A post shared by James Flaagan (@jeflaagan) on

I’ll update with more photos soon, been busy and been under the weather (if you’ll excuse the pun considering the rain).

1956 F100 in the foreground is mine, 1953 F100 in the back is my father’s.  We’ll likely be scavenging the usable parts from mine to build my dad’s first (fenders, etc), and then I’d buy new parts for mine.

Plan is to put the bodies on top of the chassis from 1997-2001 Ford Explorers with v8’s and All Wheel Drive.

Posted in 1953 F100, 1956 F100, Other Cars | Leave a comment

Why I didn’t buy a 1956 Ford F100 (yet)

Friday, around 1pm, my father and I set out from work for a drive up to Oregon. I had $8000 in cash stowed away, blank title transfer forms in duplicate, and some snacks and spare clothes. Around 9pm or so we arrived in Medford, OR for the night. Early the next morning, after a short drive up to Grants Pass, OR, I met up with the owner of a 1956 Ford F100 long wheel base pickup.

I’d been in contact with the owner for the past two weeks working out the deal. I’d come up, and all being well, buy the truck off him, including a spare short bed. The truck started up cold with no effort, and overall looked to be in good shape. There were a number of marks against it, such as the condition of the weatherstripping and such, and I made note of them.

I had the owner take me for a drive, and took it for a spin as well. This was supposed to be the point that would seal the deal for buying it, and it had the opposite effect.

Contrary to comments from other classic truck owners, the interior was quite spacious, even for someone of my height. The bench seat was comfortable, and didn’t push me too far forward. These items weren’t the problem, though. The huge steering wheel was almost right up to my stomach, the lack of power steering was giving my already sore shoulder fits, the shifter on the four speed was either pushing against my leg or way off in right field, the clutch engaged was so high I was kneeing the steering wheel, and the brake pedal sat so high up that I had great difficulty getting my foot onto it while getting my knee under the steering wheel.

These are all items I could fix, but there’s the rub. The whole point of this was to get something that, with little to no work, I could take out on weekends and putz around in until I got far enough along with on other projects (Airstream / MogRod). At that point I would be pulling the truck completely apart (more on that in a bit).  So while the truck was drive-able in its current state, it wasn’t drive-able for me. At least not without heavy modification.

After some extensive talking with my father at a coffee shop in town, I called up the seller, thanked him for his time, said I’d made the decision that I wasn’t going to buy the truck, and apologized if I’d inconvenienced him at all (which seems odd as I’m the one who’d just driven to another state to check out his truck, but I’m weird like that). And so my dad and I drove back home to the Bay Area from Oregon, talking a good deal of the way about how to approach this project going forward.

So what’s going on, and why did I say “yet”? Well, a little backstory for you. Around the start of this past summer, my dad came across a little Youtube series about a vehicle called the ‘Crown Hick’. A ’66 Ford F100 with a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor chassis swapped under it. We both came to the eventual agreement that it was a cool idea except that we didn’t care for the ’66 era F100 and the Crown Vic chassis made the bed area useless. A mid-fifty’s F100 was much more desirable stylistic speaking. After searching around for options, I recently came across a few owners who’d taken a 1997-2001 all wheel drive Ford Explorer and swapped the chassis from that under their mid-fifty’s F100. The results were very satisfactory, and still gave the old truck all the modern accouterments I desired.

Where this left me was having to buy two vehicles, or so I thought. A solid and complete ‘drive-able’ F100, and a AWD Explorer. I’d drive the F100 on occasion and my sis could drive the Explorer til it was time for the swap. After this trip up to Oregon, I realized I was half wrong in my approach. Still going to look for an Explorer, but instead of a full F100, I’m going to look for a ‘parts pile’ one. I don’t need the chassis, the drivetrain, or anything of that sort. If there’s some body rot, I can fix it (I want and need more welding practice anyways). It also means two other things. I should be able to spend dramatically less on the F100, and I’ll be able to bump up the budget on the Explorer a bit more to find one with fewer miles (less than 100,000).

I’m now sitting at home, exhausted (but unfortunately, at this late hour, not tired) from two full days of driving. I’m ever so slightly bummed I didn’t buy the truck, but far happier that I didn’t make the mistake of buying it. It would have sat around for who knows how long as a large eye-sore, and would have left me with more work to do for the wrong reasons. Instead, I’ve got an even more solid plan for how to end up with a damn cool classic truck. Back to the hunt.

Posted in Other Cars | 2 Comments

End of year post

I’ll start with the broken record: work’s been busy, plenty of other around-the-house projects keeping me busy, and despite months of therapy and a cortisone shot right into my shoulder, my right shoulder still has limited range and plenty of pain.

I have a couple of quick photos. I built a temporary garage last weekend to house the Morgan and all its parts. I still need to finish pulling the frame apart, but at least this way everything will be kept out of the elements. Additionally, a few weeks back I did a test case of polishing a panel on the Airstream, and for the quick ten minute polish and clean the results are both promising and encouraging.

Going forward, working on the Airstream may be a higher priority, as it is my hope to have it ready to sell by this coming summer. The money made off the trailer will help fund the more costly items for the Morgan, like bodywork and final paint.

Additionally, there may be another vehicular addition to the family in the near future if things work out. Fingers crossed, and I’ll keep you guys updated.

See you next year!

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, 1972 Airstream Ambassador | Leave a comment