26: Wheel Cylinder

TD told me he was replacing a wheel cylinder. Being married to a car guy, I know he's done this before on other vehicles but to be perfectly honest, it never peaked my interest.
(He loves it when I bother him when he's under the truck)

Today (thanks again to Wikipedia) I educated myself on what the whole deal is with wheel cylinders:

A wheel cylinder is a component in a drum brake system. It is located in each wheel and is usually at the top, above the shoes. ("Shoes" ...I started paying attention) Its responsibility is to exert force onto the shoes so they can contact the drum and stop the vehicle with friction. What connects these wheel cylinders to the shoes are usually small rods shaped like a birds beak. The wheel cylinder consists of a cylinder that has two pistons, one on each side. Each piston has a rubber seal and a shaft that connects the piston with a brake shoe. When brake pressure is applied, the pistons are forced out pushing the shoes into contact with the drum. Wheel cylinders must be rebuilt or replaced if they show signs of leaking.
Can't say it's fascinating information, but it is very educational.
In Abbey's case just one rear cylinder leaked. Every time the brakes were applied, a little bit of fluid came out. (Like a leaky bean bag chair that squirts white Styrofoam balls when someone sits on it).

Not fixing this issue would mean that eventually you could hit the brakes and have nothing happen. I can't think of  single scenario where that is a good thing.

On older vintage vehicles you watch for drips under the car and the way the brake feels when you mash the pedal.

So TD dutifully changed out the old for the new.

For the wheel cylinder challenged, it is the funky little thing that looks like
a large bedazzled and filthy D-sized battery at the top of the big brown round thing.

This is a new one. They are rather pricey,
..and not really all that interesting except for that bird beak description from Wikipedia 

It pushes on the half-circles (shoes) to help stop the truck.
You need them.
Every time we get a new part for the truck I say it's too bad the shiny new whatever-it-is can't be seen once you get everything back on. In this case, suffice to say I guess it's good just knowing it is there and works. That, and the fact that it makes TD happy.

I never really understood or cared about how brakes work, and now that I see it from a mechanical standpoint up close and personal I have to say...I'm sorry I know. This is equated to the "no one wants to know how the sausage is made" scenario.
I find it very disconcerting seeing springs and half circles, and D-Battery-shaped pieces, and what Wikipedia above calls "bird's beak" points, that all come together and work in unison in some mechanical wonderland to stop a vehicle that zips down the road at a whopping 35 m.p.h. I don't know what I expected to see in terms of truck brakes, but something more robust would be preferred.

Ignorance is bliss.


25: VIN Door Plate

The small things matter. 
I mentioned that the exterior of the truck had been repainted (the original color) decades ago. They did a fine job and Abbey is of course beautiful, except that the little square VIN door plate was painted over. It bothered us. What was under the paint? What did it look like? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

So online research once again assisted us with information.
(Seriously this is a neat site, so go take a look at it.)
TD followed the instructions and sure enough, under the old paint was a nice (slightly scuffed) new little face waiting for a clear coat! It was a perfect inside project for a summer heat wave. Using fine steel wool, lots of patience, and
some WD-40, the old paint came off to reveal the shiny VIN face again. 
He opted not to touch up the scratches with paint like the website mentions, and decided to leave it looking as original as possible showing all the wear. 
I approve. I like seeing the scuff marks and imagine a farmer's boot and 60+ years of door openings and closings wearing on it. The clear coat will protect it from getting any more scuffs. Remember Abbey is not a show car, but a well cared for vintage truck. This plate suits her.

Sadly, I didn't take a Before photo so you get the "After" one.

For the "before" photo, just imagine this as a solid colored rectangle. 

The shiny clean VIN door plate is back on the truck and looks great. If we ever lose our minds completely and decide to totally detail Abbey and make her show-ready, the directions online are easy to follow and explain how to carefully fill in the scratches with model paint and make the VIN plate pristine. The website refurbished ones look like they just came from the factory.

We like the wear-and-tear quality of ours, and honestly...it was just fun unearthing it under the layers of old paint.

Kind of like finding a Monet under a painting of Poker Playing Dogs. 


24: Split Rims

Abbey's mouth (hood) has been gaping open for a while like someone getting a root canal at the dentist. TD has been reviewing and pondering, and reviewing again. He took a brief break to visit Bloomington Gold this year and got recharged automotively speaking. Trips like that help with the thought process.

Meanwhile discussions continue on what to do next. I mentioned the gaskets and hoses yet to be done, and he calmly said they weren't high priority on the SAFETY LIST.

He wants the truck to take me anywhere without fear of a major disaster.
I want it to take me anywhere without me being terrified there is going to be a major disaster.
We are simpatico.

Changing the differential discussions came back into play, along with dropping in a different motor, and continuing on to new wheels. 

I nodded.

Then realized he had never discussed wheels before so asked, "What's wrong with the wheels?"

He said they are called Split Rims. 
So what's the big deal?
Seems they are ALSO called widow-makers.
(This is where I get the Ricky Ricardo wide-eyed stare) 
Head's Up! 
TD explained what can happen should you have a blow out with a split rim wheel.

Trust me when I say blowing a tire with a split rim wheel = bad. 

In fairness, you could take the truck out for years without this happening
...if ever.

Evidently having a blow out is not the problem; having the tires serviced is.

Online vintage truck discussion threads (which have become my favorite pastime) provide no reassurance. They also state another bigger issue which is finding a tire company to touch them for tire changes, rotation etc.

They are dangerous to handle if the right equipment isn't handy - or if someone doesn't know what they are doing. Plus, the word decapitation was used several times. Pretty sure Sears automotive frowns on those. (Decapitations, not tire service.) 

The truck's previous owners made a generalized comment about this very thing (Finding a mechanic, not decapitations.) They said they had a really difficult time locating a tire company to handle the new set of tires and as soon as they mentioned "split rims" they'd declined the job. 

So now we are kinda/sorta looking for compatible wheels as a replacement. 

TD says once he does the wheels, probable differential, possible motor, and brakes - wait...brakes too? 
Apparently yes. He says if you're doing all the other things, brakes would be on the to-do list. I'm fond of TD's head so I vote for priority on the new wheels.

So the true discussion now is: How much of this does TD want to tackle? 
Jury is still out. 
But we did get the name of a good hot-rod/mechanic guy here in town. 

We will see. 


23: Floor Shifter

TD took Abbey out for a test drive after this-and-that had been completed. 

He came back a half hour later and said:

"Whoa. We might want to put a new chassis on the truck. When you redline the speedometer and hit 35mph, everything rattles and shakes. I smacked my head on the ceiling when the I hit an uneven patch on the road because the whole cab was bouncing all over the place. The door flew open going over the railroad tracks and I was hanging on to the steering wheel trying to get it closed. And the steering! It’s so loosey-goosey! It could definitely be tighter."

Then he calmly says, "Wanna go take her for a drive by yourself?"

…I declined, and then checked my life insurance policy.

Later, he worked on the play in the steering and it actually is a little better. This is where I’d explain exactly what he did to achieve this, but I have no clue. It doesn't drive like a modern vehicle of course, but I think in time I could get used to the 7,500 wheel rotations it takes to get it around a corner. No problem.

I also asked TD if the floor shifter could be tightened.

Let’s face it, I like gears 1-through-4 being exactly where they should be instead of just being in a vague H-patterned location.

I did my own research online and scoured forum discussion threads regarding this issue. My favorite sentence that exactly describes what I experience is this:

"Our shifter had very sloppy gates - it was like stirring a pot of stew to get a gear."

This is exactly how I feel when I am trying to find 3rd gear.
(Remember 1st is called the "stump puller" and not even used)

Article Here (worth the read)

I printed these discussion threads and left them in the middle of TD’s desk.



22: Wheel Covers

TD: Hey

me: What

TD: C’mere I want to show you something.

me: K

TD: Look at this

me: *mouth agape* OMG!

TD: I know! We’ve been so busy doing things under the hood and in the cab we never noticed.


"Shoes" meaning wheel covers.
Also, they are very dirty...try to ignore that.

Actually they are vintage 1960’s wheel covers and not correct for a 1949
…so out they go.

TD said they were ugly anyway and never liked them.

Besides, everyone knows you can't wear white shoes when its not appropriate...never mind mismatched ones.

We never noticed this until now because there were two matching ones on the left side of the truck, and the other two on the right side of the truck. Whatever side you were standing on looked normal. Your mind sees and remembers similar, but misses the obvious.

Very clever actually.

We're currently looking at Baby Moon hubcaps (emphasis on *looking*) as the new choice.

You could use these to apply lipstick, they are just like mirrors.
(I'll bet all truck owners say this)
I keep finding these beauties for sale online and TD keeps saying:
"Christmas is coming." He is so amusing...
If we got these, then we'd need to do something with the flakey green painted wheels we currently have, because you can't put something like a sweet Baby Moon on flaking paint!

And if we DO paint and pretty-up the wheels, then maybe we're back to talking about the differential again.

Always the differential discussion.


21: Using a Factory Assembly Manual

Are we studying for an exam? No.

This is a brilliant system TD has for looking things up in the factory assembly manual while working on Abbey.

Stay with me here, I’ll explain.

First, actually having a factory assembly manual is important.
If I have to explain why, then quit reading the blog.

Second, you don’t need everything in the manual, just pages you want to reference when working on specific areas of your vehicle.
(Pretty much how I studied for tests when I was in school…I regret that now)
Third, keeping the original manual in the garage while you work on your truck makes sense right?

It gets dirty. Very, very dirty.
You seriously think you’re going to wash your hands every time you want to thumb through the book? Doubtful.

So what to do?

Sit down and go through every page of the book at your leisure. Tab or bookmark any page that has something on it you will *probably* want to look at while you work out in the garage. 
What you will end up with is this:

I had college textbooks that looked like this for Open Book tests

Next, photocopy those marked pages onto 3-ring binder paper. (You can get paper like that at any office supply store.) Toss the pages in numerical order in a binder and keep that out in the garage.

If you want to get fancy, get some tabs and makes sections for easy reference. 

The 3-ring binder with your photocopied pages lays FLAT and stays open to the section you want (unlike the actual manual) so it's easy to read. Use your greasy fingers to turn pages. No one cares. 

Your pristine $45 factory manual can go back on the bookshelf for the next project, and when you’re done working on this one, you can just toss the dirty pages in the trash.

You're welcome. 


20: Knobs Galore!

Knobs. Vintage vehicles (of any make) are often missing them.
Why? Because they are made of plastic or rubber, and both products decay.
So our recent parts list included all the missing ones inside the cab. 

When you work on a vintage vehicle, you more often than not have many simultaneous projects going on. While we worked (and waited) on the heat riser valve, we also replaced miscellaneous knobs; this way, there was an immediate feeling of accomplishment.

Even though Abbey’s interior could use a fresh update on paint, and most definitely needs a good cleaning, it was lovely to see her knobs again.

Wait, that sounds so very, very wrong.

What I mean to say is that it is great to see the dashboard sporting all the knobs again.

Here are some photos.

This gives you heat in the cab.
Probably a moot point as I don't plan on taking Abbey out in the winter.
But the knob looks good! And it works!
...or it will once we replace the heater hose. (Next project)

Yeah, okay, it's the keychain again, but the knob in the background
is for the cowl vent on the top of the hood.
And IT works too!
We replaced any knob in the cab that was in a stage of decay, and put knobs on little rods sticking out here and there that were missing them. 

I looked in our parts box and pulled out the top and side cowl vent gasket replacements...they might be next.  

Currently, TD is deep in thought at the prospect of changing Abbey's differential. I used Wikipedia to look up the meaning of this and was nodding off after the second paragraph. 

The entire discussion is about 10 paragraphs long and reads like a long arithmetic word problem. 

If you're interested, click on the link above and read it yourself. 
(I suggest grabbing caffeine first)

It is an ongoing discussion that we waffle back and forth on. So in the meantime we do the minor things to Abbey and think about the whole "differential" idea.