RESTORATION STORIES

 

1928 Essex Sedan Restoration

by the owner

Early in 1976 we decided that we should buy a car to restore. Regular readings of the Sydney Morning Herald proved interesting reading. It was a 1929 Chevrolet sedan which had 4 new tyres, a large number of new parts but the seller said it was used as a taxi after the war ( not a good selling point). Fearing that everything would be completely worn out, and we felt that the asking price was $1000 was too much, we declined the car. The second car was an MGTF (yes I realise that not a vintage car) It was sitting under a tree in Ryde for many years! It had a price tag of $800 which seemed reasonable at the time. However it had disc wheels and I thought only MGTD had disc wheels. While we trying to decide whether to buy or not to buy, somebody else came along and gave a deposit and it was gone. Further research prove that disc wheels were standard in England but most TF’s in Australia have wire wheels.
 

A week before Easter 1976 we saw an Essex Sedan (never heard of that brand before) in the SMH . It seemed to be the right car ie it had 4 wheeled brakes, it was a sedan it had a large number of spare parts and it was not a Ford. The advert said “it only needs assembly” and was $500. At the time it seemed a good idea. All the hard work of pulling it apart was done. What a silly idea. In reality it was a giant jig saw puzzle. We spoke to the mother of the 22 year old owner who was overseas. We decided on $450 and we picked it up on Good Friday 1976. I hired a trailer and one of my mates pulled the chassis and the body, while I had the box filled to capacity on the back of the modern car.

 

When we got it home the car and very soon, the garage smelt of soap. This smell did not go away for at least a year. The following week my wife played tennis with some ladies and the Essex came up in conversation. One of the other ladies had a 1929 96A Whippet and belonged to another club.

 

Back to the Essex. Where did all the parts go, how many things were missing, who had an Essex that I could look at? Many questions but few answers. I decided to start on the body first as this would take the most time, take the least amount of money. But how did it go together?
 

The mate who helped me bring the car home did a piece of welding in the tub and the sills. That cost me a far bit of money so I thought to myself, I can do this myself . I enquire at Tech and they were short on numbers so I enrolled in welding.
 

The problems in working in a double garage with a modern car and a parts of a vintage car were ridiculous. We decided that it was necessary to have a bigger garage ( or a new one) but the back yard was not big enough. We decide to build it out the front but it would not be big enough. We had to take the lounge room ….so we added another storey to the house.
 

The roof came off the house the same day my wife went into hospital to have our daughter in March 1977. In the mean time I enrolled in Tech to do panel beating at Tech. By late 1977 I was doing the mudguards myself. A great satisfaction! I spent most weekends on the house and the Essex was progressing very slowly.
 

We decided to go on another spending spree and buy a 1928 Chevrolet Tourer which was going and fully registered. Can any body remember the bright yellow car that towed the tiny aluminium trailer all over the place (25000 miles) with three kids on board? In 1980 – 1981 I enrolled at Tech to do spray painting. Work on the Essex stopped while I painted the Chev two toned green.


Gradually the Essex was taking shape. The panels were finished and they fitted together. The real hard parts to find were the door handles, the tail light and the interior light. What did they look like? I still had not seen another car like it to copy from.


(It was a few years later when I saw another advertisement for a 28 Essex . I had to go and have look at it. As it turned out it was a totally original car and I took many photographs of it and then told the seller I didn’t want it. I found out later that one of our club members bought it and took it on a number of tours. It has since been sold and made into a hot rod.)


A neighbour told me that he had seen parts he believed to be a 1928 Essex. Sure enough, there were 4 doors (with all the handle including the locking one) brand new valance panels. Friends of ours were going to America and I asked them to get pistons, rings, valves, valve guides, timing chain from Egges when they were coming back.


In 1982-1983 it was time to enrol in motor trimming. I found this course particularly fascinating. I had never used a sewing machine before and I amazed myself with what I was turning out. By the end of the course I had trimmed all the seats and the interior of the Essex.

I had the machining of the engine and somebody else did the balancing down to 1 gram. I built the engine and the gearbox and with the help, I built up the diff. The making of the wet clutch using corks was an interesting, but fairly easy job.


Anzac Day of 1984 was a big day. ie the marrying of the chassis and the body together . Being an all steel body it was going to be a very heavy job. So I lined up 6 people to do the job. The week before this was very wet but the weather fined up that morning and the body went on without a problem. That afternoon it poured. For once I was lucky.


But not so at the chrome platers. I always work on the idea that if you have four things to get done you give them two and do the other two later. This particular time I gave him the locking handle plus one other plain handle. When I went back to pick them up they said look at your handle (note singular). It was eaten through. Where is the other one? “It must be in the bottom of the acid tank” 15 minutes later it was found and it was totally useless as well. I finally got all the plating done fairly well.


The school holidays in August 1985 were spent putting the finishing touches to the trimming on the roof . The next 9 months were spent finishing off an endless array of little things. It was finished off in May 1986, 10 years after buying a stack of pieces.


P.S. My Mother-in- law asked “ me why did you buy that heap of rubbish? You will never get it on the road. I had to prove her wrong.

Essex - 1928(Mascot Super Six)

Make - Essex

Year - 1928

Model - Mascot Super Six

Body - Sedan, 5 Wheel equipped.

Engine - Side Valve 6 cyl, 153 ci (2.5L), 55hp @ 3,000rpm

Gearbox - 3sp, non-syncro.

Diff. Ratio - 4:7:1

Wheelbase - 110.5" (2807mm)

Brake - Foot - 4 wheel mechanical, 3 shoe Bendix all around. Hand - all 4 wheels.

Weight - 2,800lb (1,273kg)

Wheel - Artillery, Timber.

Tyre Size - 500 x 20"

Origin - USA

 

Dodge 1923 Tourer Restoration
Story by Owners

The story begins with a note that arrived from an auction house in the southern highlands, which I deal with, from time to time that specialises in antiques. This note listed a number of collectables on offer at an upcoming auction and included a 1923 Chevy and the remains of a model T Ford. The big day came and Monica [my partner] and I were on site just outside of Goulburn on a farm, walking around very unimpressed by the antiques that were on offer, but then in the paddock was this rusted pile of tin they call a Chevy. Immediately I was hooked and after closer inspection I noticed, as did to the disgust of all the Chevy guys that were there, the car was infact was a Dodge 1923 Tourer. After discussion with Monica I concluded that the car would probably sell for much more than I could afford at that time and I discarded any possibility of a purchase. To my astonishment there were very few bids and to my surprise after an elbow from Monica to place a bid we were the proud owners of a pile of parts, they were calling a vehicle. As luck would have it a local chap with a car trailer showed up and after negotiating a price, he agreed to deliver it to my home in Sydney and again to my surprise, we didn’t do anymore damage to the vehicle than was already there.
 

The next couple of weekends were spent with Monica sorting nuts, bolts and bits into jars and myself trying to identify what belongs to the car and what didn’t. Boxes of parts were sorted, some pieces were discarded, and others were cleaned and put away. Then one of my business associates suggested that I join the Vintage car club, this was undoubtedly the best decision I could have made, as within a week I had a visit from the President and the Editor of the VVCA. Within a week I was accepted into the club, the ball immediately started to roll and information started to flow.


I firstly sent the body panels to be shot blast back to bare metal, some minor panel work completed and a number of coates of two pack primer filler applied. I chose the primer after consultation with a spray painter; he indicated that this was the best product on the market for a project where time was not a major consideration. This primer did not absorb moisture and was totally waterproof, hence the car could site in the garage for 20 years if I liked and the primer would still do its job. Over a few weeks I finished restoring the steering wheel and have installed a new exhaust system.


Slowly and with many thanks to Club members, the issue over having an incorrect radiator was solved and the identification of many of the parts, we had acquired, was made. Soon after that was completed, the radiator was opened and cleaned and the surround was made ready for priming. My aim was to start the engine in a few weeks, which is a most exciting thought, as we were told when we purchase the car, that a large amount of money had been spent overhauling the engine and it had not been started since its completion.

Certainly we have a long, long way to go, but what is amazing is the help and assistance from with the club members and now I feel confident, that such a daunting task is not overwhelming, I cannot thank the club members enough for there support and I must say that the culture of the people involved in the restoration of my car is truly one of fellowship.


Time moved on with the restoration and I find the more I do, the more I want to do. I completed the main paintwork and what I have noticed, is that I started off as a very ordinary spray painter and panel beater. After completing the car, I am not much better than where I was when I started it. One thing is for certain, I am very proud of what we have accomplished in a relatively short period of time. You quickly learn that there are not enough hours in the day and not enough days in the weekends and time is always a huge hurdle.

One thing is for certain are that you become in tune with every part of the car as the restoration is taking place. With my limited experience, I have found myself analysing possible problems areas, purely because I have been forced to learn, about things I new nothing about before. So the running tally or status of the car to date is that all the paintwork is completed, the new spare wheel mount has been mimicked, the wheels have been stripped [by soaking in a mild caustic solution] and the new tyres have been ordered from America .


I found one of the most laborious exercises was in the masking of the spoked wheels after I completed the lacquering process, however it was also another milestone accomplished. The next process was to prime and paint the wheel rims and centre hubs in preparation for the new tyres.


Over the next few weeks I had been loosing much sleep over the king pins, bushes and also the head light rims, both had seen better days and both needed to be retired. Once again the club members came to the rescue, with contacts and information. Since then I ordered a new set of king pins and bushes from Melbourne and a new set of head light rims, being made out of brass from a local metal spinner. My next task is to check the braking system including all the linkages, so to ensure the best possible braking that can be achieved, but still retaining its originality.


During this restoration, the main hurdles have been in finding a few missing parts, hence we have spent many hours and days walking around the swap meets, sometimes in rain just to find the correct part, as do many others.


My aim at this stage is to have a maiden drive in my drive way and to the upholsterer by the end of the year. So for this month, putting the car into gear, whilst it is still on stands is going to be a major milestone, as I have not checked either of these items as yet. I find interestingly, that I am working on a number of different areas at one time and hence, this seems to drive me to accomplish my goals and frequently the car takes new dimensions, which pushes me to strive for the next milestone.


In my experience, I found creating levels that are accomplished gave me incentive to push forward and keep pressing on.


The end is finally very near, I have put the car through its paces [on stands of course] checking the clutch and brakes under no load. At every turn yet another little thing that needs to be done, but I must admit the list is getting smaller and I am not spending as much time working on her as I do sitting and looking at her. The sense of achieving something, out of an almost discarded piece of junk is gratifying and sometimes I find it hard to believe myself, that this is the same piece of rusted metal I found in a paddock in Goulburn 12 months earlier.

The arrival of the tyres made a huge difference to the car and I have learnt from this painful experience to check and ask correct questions when purchasing goods that need to be delivered from the USA . Sitting on my trusted milk crate, in a position where the upholstered front seat will soon be, it gives me a far more realistic height perspective. During the past weeks I made a decision to purchase the hood bows although I had made arrangements, to make them myself, the new ones were being made of spotted gum and with my experience with that timber type, I knew that this timber would stand the test of time. Once these arrived the painful process of fitting them, taught me many lessons in patience and I can’t tell you how many time I took them on and off the car. Even when I thought I was finished, the upholsterer still made modification to them, so as they would lock properly.


I then negotiated a price with an upholsterer, be aware that the final product is only going to be as good as the upholstery and it is wise to check previously completed cars before engaging one. We selected the type and colour of the leather we wanted and his job was to complete the upholstery, hood lining and carpet, this took about three weeks to finish.


The final major restoration item, was in my case the windscreen frame, this was been completed, yet I still waited for some time for the toughened glass to arrive.


One of the club members said to me at the very start, most people can’t stop at one car and now I understand the reasoning, behind that comment. Once again I would like to thank the club members for their patience support and friendship.


I guess my next step is to learn how to drive a vintage car properly, so we can enjoy our outings with the club.

Laurie & Monica

How do you get this on the road? 

David's Restoration and Paint Problems

".I am sure some gypsy put a curse on the radiator surround; the surround was stripped and repaired with the new lower section being replaced then taken to a company who supposedly specialised in show quality chrome plating. Well they then subcontracted the work out to another person who proceeded to destroy a perfectly good radiator surround. It took months of chasing around before we finally received the surround back, only to be told, "Don’t worry, no charge". The surround had the edges ground through and we thought it was a write-off. This surround, with another, was sent to Albury Platers who somehow managed to repair the damage.

Finally the surround was finished only to be damaged again in a workshop accident which ruined the original taillight and radiator core. Back to Albury Platers again.

The next hurdle was colour selection. We must have looked at hundreds of cars. Should anybody be interested in tracing the original colours and paint codes for their cars a web side is available http://autocolorlibrary.com. Finally the colours were decided, and then off to the paint shop. "

 

1929 DA Dodge Roadster - Detailed History of this Vehicle and story by Owner
 

My “OLDCAR” The advertisement read, “Dodge Roadster 1929 40% restored, mint condition, 36,000 original miles full history with owner’s manual”. All it took was a quick phone call, then off to Narrabri to assess the project. Seven hours later and several hundred kilometres, we arrived at Narrabri High School to meet the owner, then off to see the Dodge.
 

Disappointment

At first sight the roadster was not as we had “imagined”. The car was completely stripped, e.g. basket case. The body shell was covered in surface rust, the chassis was supported on timber blocks, and various body panels lay around covered in red dust. Disappointed we were, after all Narrabri is a long way from Harbord. Nevertheless, closer inspection was warranted, as it was indeed a DA roadster.

Insect repellent was called for to deter the swarm of mud wasps that called the old Dodge ”home”. Upon closer inspection the car was not as bad as it first looked; all the original timber was in very good condition and the only rust to be found was the rear pan where the dicky seat drained and the rear panel behind. All the hinges, latches and pedals were in good order and the original rubber panels were still on the floorboards.

The owner explained that he and his father were going to restore the car back in the 70’s and as time went by the project was shelved. A price was negotiated on the condition that the Dodge was complete, which it was, including the original delivery paperwork and owner’s manuals. The only parts missing were the crank hole cover and a few tools. Checking the engine, body and electrical system serial numbers from those on the delivery records to those with the car confirmed the old Dodge was indeed very original.

Thankfully all parts, down to the last nut and bolt that had been removed were labelled and stored.
 

The DA’s History

From the delivery records and contact with the 2nd owners daughter we have been able to trace the history of the car. On the 12th of April 1930 the roadster was originally purchased by Dr H J Taylor from Nowra. The car was purchased through Hardin and Johnson Country Sales. One of the conditions of sale was that the car arrived no later than the 30th of April 1930 and the car was to be delivered to the Coolangatta Public School near Shoalhaven Heads. The car was ordered as a Dodge Brothers Special Roadster, colour Thorn Grey with a salt and pepper hood; extras included dash clock, holland side blinds, bumpers and bumperettes.

The Dodge was then sold to Erwin Johnson in 1932. He and his brother operated a dairy property at Gerringong on the south coast of New South Wales. On a weekend away we stopped in at the Berry Historical Society Museum where we inquired regards any clues or leads about the old Dodge’s history. When we arrived home the following day, one half an hour later we received a phone call from the Berry Historical Society with a number to ring as to information regarding the car. One quick phone call to Gerringong and the second owner’s daughter has provided us with much of the history of the car and some pictures while it was owned by her father.

The Dodge roadster was one of the first cars in the district when here father bought it second hand from the family of the late Dr. Taylor in 1932. Her father built a special garage to park the Dodge, which still stands today. The Dodge was replaced as the regular means of transport in the late 1930’s by a Hudson sedan at her mother’s request. “Mum didn’t like the car because it used to blow her hair around” so the car was only used from time to time to drive into Berry while the Hudson was used as regular transport.

The car was then sold to the third owner who carted milk for the dairy in the early 60’s. He and his son drove the car to various early vintage car meets. They kept the car on the original registration up until the early 70’s. When the registration finally expired the roadster was taken off the road to be restored. During this time the car was stripped and finally ended up in a shed in Narrabri. We bought the car in early 1999.
 

Restoration Time

Restoration of the roadster was started in mid 1999. The chassis was pressure washed, new fuel lines were run, brakes re-sleeved, fuel tank cleaned and shock absorbers serviced. The body and panels were then taken to Impact Glass Bead Blasting at Blacktown to be stripped prior to panel beating and paint. We manufactured a simple trolley type jig to move the body around on during the various stages from start to finish, prior to fixing back onto the chassis. The rust in the rear section was replaced with new metal as was the drain tray and timber section attached to it. Hours were spent panel beating the body and guards back into shape this work was carried out in the garage. Next, new running boards were remanufactured and a die made to remake the lower radiator surround section. The body was then assembled, the required adjustments made, then disassembled ready for paint. When we say the required adjustments made you can have no idea how many required adjustments were required.
 

Those Chroming Blues

I am sure some gypsy put a curse on the radiator surround; the surround was stripped and repaired with the new lower section being replaced then taken to a company who supposedly specialised in show quality chrome plating. Well they then subcontracted the work out to another person who proceeded to destroy a perfectly good radiator surround. It took months of chasing around before we finally received the surround back, only to be told, “Don’t worry, no charge”. The surround had the edges ground through and we thought it was a write-off. This surround, with another, was sent to Albury Platers who somehow managed to repair the damage.

Finally the surround was finished only to be damaged again in a workshop accident which ruined the original taillight and radiator core. Back to Albury Platers again.

The next hurdle was colour selection. We must have looked at hundreds of cars. Should anybody be interested in tracing the original colours and paint codes for their cars a web side is available http://autocolorlibrary.com. Finally the colours were decided, and then off to the paint shop.
 

Into the Home Straight

Meanwhile the original motor was checked for compression and reused without overhauling, as was the clutch and gearbox. But overheating problems were eventually traced to a warped block so the motor was stripped and decked, then fitted with 6 new exhaust valves, timing chain, pistons and rings. The main bearings and rods were checked and reused. While the motor was out the gearbox and clutch were overhauled. An interesting point to note was the inside castings of the engine and gearbox were painted green, maybe to stop rust prior to assembly? The gearbox case was taken to a local paint manufacturer who colour matched the paint in machinery enamel. The rear axle is yet to be overhauled. Problems with the water pump led to replacement of the old packing gland and bush arrangement with roller bearings and seals.

 

New tyres were purchased and fitted. The body was then fitted back onto the chassis. Many tedious hours were spent reassembling the body and numerous fittings. The next task was the trim. This work was undertaken by Bruce Gibbs at Wyong. The original hood frame had two of the three bows replaced; the seat frames were repaired and reused.

Finally the car was nearing completion. A new wiring loom was made and installed, instruments and lights refitted. The last task was to bleed and adjust the brakes, a few test runs up and down the driveway and finally the roadster was reborn.
 

Time to Enjoy

The roadster has been on full registration for just over 3 years to date and we have only just finished fitting the luggage rack and wind wings to complete the restoration. A few problems have presented themselves along the way but these have been overcome. We now look forward to some active vintage involvement in our old car. Driving the car down to Gerringong to visit the second owner’s daughter and her family to show them the car has probably been the highlight of the restoration. Thanks to all the old friends and new who assisted with the restoration.

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