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

Some Updates for you fine folks

Hi! Still alive! Figured I’d post up some updates on the various vehicles.

First and foremost, the Morgan. Unfortunately that has stagnated again, much to my chagrin. I know what I want and need to do next (pull apart the rolling chassis), but both time and free space have been working against me. I may get some more time in the coming months as the Airstream and the Barracuda will likely both be back-burnered for the winter months. If I can get the front and rear end off the chassis, along with the engine and transmission, I’ll be able to determine what if any work needs to be done to fix it up. From there I can move forward on mocking up the hardware needed to mount the Solstice engine and transmission. As soon as I’m sure the chassis is in good shape, I’ll feel comfortable placing the rather pricey order for the new cabin frame and body panels.

The Airstream… whew. So I still have that. After spending much of the summer going back and forth with my father on the best way to remove the horrid paint job on it, we came to the conclusion that a paint removal gel from Home Depot is actually going to do a fair job of it without damaging the metal. I’ve got the paint currently about 2/3 removed, though there’s still a good bit of work to go on that. After the paint’s removed, we’ll be doing an initial buffing / polishing of the exterior, but won’t be putting in the amount of work required for a mirror finish. We determined that it wouldn’t be worth the effort for the amount of time it would take and how relatively little extra money we’d make from doing so. At this point, depending on the weather in the coming months, that project may hibernate until spring. The goal for now is to get the trailer to a condition where I can sell it by around the beginning of summer 2018.

The Barracuda. This is some fun. After talking with some local classic Mopar owners, we’ve been working on some fixes to get the old fish back on the road. I’ve still got to install the new power steering setup, which will hopefully happen in the next month or so. However, the bigger news for this car is that it’s getting one hell of an upgrade in the form of a Holley EFI setup. That’s right, so long PITA carburetor, hello fuel injection! We’ve been struggling to get the idle speed under control, among other things, and while both my father and I are knowledgeable, we both will readily admit that fine tuning a carb is a dark art we’d rather not spend our time learning. As it currently stands, once I get the flush headlight kit installed on my father’s 2002 Corvette, which is about halfways along, the Barracuda’s EFI upgrade will be next on my to-do list. I’m excited, for sure. Which is cool, cause it’s been a while since I’ve been properly excited to work on that car.

Through all this, one thing that’s definitely slowed me down is my shoulder. It’s fortunately not a diabetes-related issue like I was originally informed. It’s actually a childhood injury that’s decided to cause a problem. I’ve been going to therapy for it for several weeks, however in the past few weeks I’ve been seeing less and less progress, and in fact the pain’s been getting worse again. I’m hoping some resolution can be reached on it, because it’s definitely impeding my ability to get work done on the projects.

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, 1970 Barracuda, 1972 Airstream Ambassador, 2002 Corvette, Other Cars | Leave a comment

Back at it (soon)

Had to spend most of Saturday in the office, and spent most of Sunday hanging out with a friend I haven’t seen in several months, but made a point of moving forward today.

Cleaned up the area where the chassis had been stowed in the side yard, and moved the chassis into my parking space in the garage. I’m suffering from something called “frozen shoulder”, which essentially means I have to be careful moving my right arm around or I get near black-out inducing pain. Keeping that in mind, I pretty much rickshaw pulled the chassis around to its current position with a rope tied to it and looped across my waist.

The plan is to start moving forward with pulling the chassis apart so I can make sure it’s in solid condition. Then I can get it blasted and a rust inhibiting coat put on it. Then I’ve got to start sorting out mounting the Solstice engine and transmission in there.

I picked up a plasma cutter recently and chopped down the remaining framework of the Solstice, keeping only the engine cradle so I can reference that for building a new one for the Morgan.

Still have the Airstream, and I need to move forward on getting that sold soon. What with my father’s injury and all of us in a consensus about not having much interest any more in using it, spending time and money on it to any further extent seems wasteful.

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

Still Alive~

The cake isn’t a lie.

(Sorry if you don’t get that one, game industry joke.)

So, what’s been happening. Well, as I mentioned in my December post, my father fell and broke his arm. What’s happened since then is that we discovered that he’s had excess pressure on his brain, possibly for the past couple of years now. In fact, the excess pressure and resulting conditions (including issues with balance) may have caused his fall to happen.

My mother and I had for quite some time been concerned about how his mobility had been decreased; not enough that he wasn’t active, but he was noticeably slower and hunched over, and he shuffled his feet when he walked. So, a few weeks back my father had a hole literally drilled in his head, and a pressure valve that drains to his gut installed. He was home the following day, and I’m very glad to report that he almost immediately was back to standing upright and moving with a briskness to his pace.

It’s kind of a lucky break that he fell and broke his arm, because he could have suffered permanent brain damage if the pressure issue hadn’t been caught and dealt with, and neither family nor doctors would’ve thought that to have been the cause. Through all the stress work and life has been slinging at me lately, seeing him recovering and back to his ‘normal’ self has been quite a relief.

So, what’s this got to do with the Morgan? Well, that’s obviously been something I’ve been slacking on. I want to get moving on it again, especially with some recent decisions and discoveries I’ve made. However, the first order of business is going to still be the Airstream. After my father’s injury, and with how my life continues to play out, getting use out of the trailer is becoming less of a possibility. It, like the Morgan, has sat untouched since before my father fell, and after some recent discussions the plan has changed to that of “fix it up and sell it off”. I’m unfortunately going to have to redo work on the flooring as much of the tiles have lifted up. Once work (hopefully) lightens up in the next month or so, the plan is to try and tackle the remainder of the work and list it for sale before the summer’s too far gone.

As for the Morgan, selling the Airstream is going to fund a lot of that, especially now that my plans have shifted to fixing up the original chassis and using front and rear end upgrades that are available for the stock equipment. This is going to mean far less time, money and effort spent on trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ of a whole new chassis. The first order of business is going to be getting the chassis inspected and, assuming it’s undamaged or repairable, getting it straightened out. This is going to involve stripping down the chassis completely, so I may start tackling that around the same time I start working on the Airstream.

Anyways, a big wall of words, but just wanted to say that this project and myself are still alive and kicking, just swamped as of late. I look forward to working on the car again, it’s a damn fun project and I really have no one but myself to blame for the delays.

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

Winter Solstice

Wikipedia lists an alternate term for “winter solstice” as “hibernal solstice”, which I definitely think is an appropriate title. I am generally not a fan of cold weather work, especially so being a Californian, and ~45 degree F midday temps do not make me want to go work in the garage. My weekends have also been tied up with one of my hobbies, airsoft, so at least I’ve been somewhat active.

I’m going to have to make a point in the coming weeks to force myself outdoors and to get some more work done on the Airstream. About a month or so back my father fell and broke his right arm near the shoulder, and while he’s healing well he hasn’t been doing much, which means my motivator has been off the job. The weekend he fell I’d gotten the kitchen cabinet into the trailer and started modifying it to fit where it was going. I can probably get that further along / installed in a day, so I need to move forward with that. The sooner the trailer gets some progress, the sooner the Morgan gets some progress as well.

Speaking of which, at least two months (if not more) ago I took a borrowed plasma cutter to the Solstice and chopped up all the bodywork down to just the front and rear ends. Since I’m starting to consider not using those articles on the MogRod, I may cut those down further in the future. I will try to make a point of digging up the chop-up photos and posting some of those for you folks, I’ve been slacking a good bit lately on getting anything done on this project.

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, 1972 Airstream Ambassador, General, Solstice Parts Car | Leave a comment

Good Guys

Past week’s been an enlightening one. I’ve come across some potential upgrades for both the suspension and lighting (LED headlights!) that could come in to play, but more importantly I’ve finally had a chance to meet with another local owner.

First off, I’ll mention that I took a break from the weekend work last weekend and checked out the Good Guys car show in Pleasanton last Saturday. That, as usual, netted me a bunch of shiny eye candy, plenty of “wouldn’t that be a cool project” discussions with my father, and some inspiration for keeping an open mind to the idea of building a custom chassis still. Apologies for a lack of photos, but I’ve seen so many cars over the years that I’ve taken a kind of “enjoy it with your eyes, not the camera lens” approach to car shows as of late.

The next day I took a cruise over to Santa Cruz and met with Phil, owner of a ’63 Mog with a Honda S2000 motor. He’s currently got it mostly apart doing a bunch of fixes to questionable work a previous owner had done. However, he had a wealth of information to share with me, and hopefully some of the few items I’ve passed back to him will come in handy. I definitely consider him the luckier of the two of us, in no small part because his Mog’s wood frame was in one piece and in great shape. Seeing the frame in such condition, though, makes me think I could tackle rebuilding the MogRod’s frame with very little parts sourced from vendors. I really dug his custom motor mount setup, a design I readily admitted I’d be referencing for dropping the Ecotec into the MogRod. He also had a set of the “Super Sport” seats that I’d heard about and seen online, so it was nice to see them in person. Certainly look forward to meeting with and chatting with Phil again in the future, definitely someone I could stand to learn a lot from!

Super Sport seatMotor Mount ECU mounted Engine bay Center frame

I’ve also created a MogRod instagram account. Will need to finish setting it up, but it’s linked on the right side now.

In Airstream news, the wood flooring was well soaked in water sealant and I’ve begun to put the tiles down. It looks so nice in there!

A journey of a thousand tiles begins with a single placement. #airstream

A photo posted by James Flaagan (@jeflaagan) on

Several tiles later… Still have the perimeter to sort out. #airstream

A photo posted by James Flaagan (@jeflaagan) on

Posted in 1966 Morgan +4, 1972 Airstream Ambassador, General, Other Cars | 2 Comments