Get me to the church on time

Sometimes a person has a request that is so amazing you cannot say no.  This was just that case.  A while back Elizabeth contacted me looking for a Jeep for her upcoming wedding.

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Apparently with the birth of their son a few months before they decided to sell her now husband, Tom’s Jeep. It was battered but they loved it.  I showed her pictures of mine and mentioned I could find nicer ones. In memory of their old Jeep she decided on using the well loved ’41.

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This was to be a surprise for Tom. It was her idea since he loves jeeps so much.  Honestly, who could not help with a request like that?

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And he was surprised! It was worth the effort just for his reaction. “Where did you find that” he asked her after staring for a minute.  This was a truly memorable and different way to end a wedding. Even their son seems to be a Jeep guy, he was hamming it up standing behind the steering wheel and playing with the stick shift like he knew how to drive.

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I was honored to be part of their special day and I wish all three of them the best.

Bob’s Barnfinds

Some antique cars work to find their way home to my friend Bob Kurland’s shop. In 2012 Bob received a call from a crack head (literally, it was proven in court). The crackhead said he had an antique car in the garage and wanted to sell it to Bob for $400.00.  Bob packed up the flatbed and headed into Baltimore.

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Bob said when he reached the house he had to back the flatbed through a fence,” it was like threading a needle while wearing a baseball glove.” He opened the garage and saw the drivers side window was broken as the crackhead could not figure out how to open the door.  The crackhead had also removed the car battery using a hacksaw.

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The crackhead came out and signed a receipt for the sale of the car then Bob headed on his way.  As he looked in the rearview mirror Bob kept thinking that the car looked familiar. Finally he took it to a carwash and sprayed the car down, it looked like new with all the dust removed.desoto01

The interior was in perfect condition, even the fold down interior wooden cargo bed.

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As Bob cleaned the car an oil change tag on the driver’s side door caught his attention.  He looked down and saw that he was the last mechanic to do an oil change on this very car.  His signature was still on the sticker.

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Bob remembered an old man who used to work at a Desoto dealership.  The fellow used to bring the car to his shop for maintenance and other work.  After the last oil change they never saw him again. When Bob went to file for a salvage title he found that the car was listed as stolen and then he learned the rest of the story.

The old man’s daughter was ecstatic to find that Bob had the car and it was not scrapped. She told Bob that her father passed away shortly after that last oil change and the car had sat in the garage since then.  She visited the car weekly until it disappeared and she figured her crackhead nephew had scrapped it. She met with Bob and gave him all her father’s photo albums and records pertaining to the car.  The car had found its way back to its mechanic and she was happy with that.

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Fast forward to a month or two ago and Bob was at a gas station with the Desoto.  An old lady came up to him and explained that her husband had passed away, and would Bob be interested in seeing her husbands Pontiac.

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The 1941 Pontiac had been sitting in the barn for 15 years. The price was extremely fair so Bob brought it home.

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The original oil change coupons and owner’s manual were in the glovebox, and original tools in the trunk.

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Bob gave it a change of fluids, bled the brakes and started driving it.  We went for a ride today and I was really impressed with this survivor. These old cars seem to like to come out of their snug retirement homes so Bob can put them on the road again.  Thanks for the ride Bob!!.

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8th Annual Mason Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering

This show has become such a part of the year for me that I keep thinking it has gone on for much longer.  Mike Hardesty had the idea for this show after attending the Great Willys Picnic and realizing that there was nothing like it in our area.

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There was quite a lineup of Willys Jeeps in all conditions from fully restored to as found condition. Seth King’s CJ2A with an awesome dually rear caps off this row.

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One of my annual favorites, an orange Jeep, belongs to Dan Lorenz.  I love the Jeep because of the story behind it. This was a jeep that he and a friend owned back in the 1970′s, he has photos of them taking it hunting out in Colorado.

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They sold it in the early 1980′s probably expecting to never see it again.  Then a few years back his buddy was at a farm auction and a vintage Jeep was on the listing.  He found it with a tree growing through the floor, and recognized the modifications he and Dan had made.  (not the tree of course!)

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IMG_1466Dan did a wonderful job of bringing the Jeep back to life and brings it to the mason Dixon show as well as the All Breeds jeep show in York, PA.  He has even taken it back out west and photographed in locations he took shots of it back in the 1970′s.

Kyle of East Coast Willys brought his FC again and this time it had friends.

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Bill Reiss of Limestreet Carriage drove the red one all the way from their shop in Lancaster, PA.  At the end of the day the Limestreet crew lined up their Willys vehicles and headed home with the FC in the lead.

There were a good amount of parts vendors this year, new parts as well as many folks with used restorable parts for a variety of projects. Over by the parts vendors was this CJ6 with only 3600 miles on it.  Sadly the low mileage did not preserve the body of the Jeep. (This is what I was told at least.)

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IMG_1452There was a nice array of military vehicles.  I had my battered slat grill out for the day and it had some WW2 buddies to hang out with along with a recently finished M38.

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I set out a display of original dealer literature and posters along with this display of new old stock tools from WW2.  The pliers, adjustable wrench, and hacksaw all came from a fellow who served as an Army mechanic in WW2 through Korea.  When he left the service they gave him a toolbox packed with n.o.s. tools. And yes, that is an original drain plug tool.

IMG_1456I was extremely proud of our friend and volunteer shop assistant, Peter Tata. he worked his butt off to put together the rolling chassis of his Ford GPW to show in the projects section.

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IMG_1447As always it was a wonderful gathering of the jeep family.  I had time to chat with old friends and make new ones like Roger Martin who was in the area to work on an ancient Caterpillar grader.

The weather treated us well and the jeeps sat warmly in the fall sun.  Any proceeds from the show are donated to Unions Mills Homestead who graciously host us every year.  Money was also put aside for fellow Jeeper Glenn Harrington who had a stroke last spring.  It will be a happy day when we see him at a show again.

If you have not made it to this show yet, make sure it is on your schedule for next year.

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A blunt article on restoration costs

I rarely do this, but I stumbled across this article titled,” Brutal Honesty about Restoration Costs, Things most restoration shops don’t want you to know! ”  by Macy’s Garage Ltd. I like brutal honesty and the article was well written so here ya go!!

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Enjoy exploring their website as well.

Meet Mabel

I love barn finds, I think most car buffs do.  Nowadays we see alot of garage and self storage finds.  We rarely get to breathe in that musty air and hay and brush dust off a vehicle that has sat for twenty or more years.

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A fellow, Brian, contacted me a while back in search of a Willys truck.  He and I looked at an array of trucks posted on ewillys.com. There was a variety available around the country.  Eventually we found a nice restored truck and he decided to buy it.  However he decided that it was not the right time for a truck and we decided to keep looking.  The key phrase was that we,” wait for something closer to the shop.” Insert Mabel.

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I kept an eye online for trucks more local, but honestly these vehicles show up when they want to be found, especially the right ones.  A friend and neighbor took a copy of my card one day and mentioned that a friend of his had a Willys truck he wanted to sell and that it was sitting in a barn.

A week or so later I heard from Mr. Gross, we set a time for me to go and see the truck.  Mr. Gross happens to live about two miles from my house, how much closer could we ask for?

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When we met up I found that Mr. Gross and I had alot to talk about.  I teach and he is a retired teacher.  We both love to teach kids and adults to work with their hands.  As we chatted I looked over the truck (Mabel is a ’57 Willys) and began to realize that this was the one for my customer.  I took photos and immediately went home to email Brian about what I hoped was his new truck.

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Brian agreed that this was the one, and as you can see by the above photo, we moved forward with the purchase.  Mabel was in the Gross family since the 1970s.  The truck worked on their farm in Taneytown, then moved down closer to Westminster.  Mabel sat for years as a father/son project that never fully moved on.  With Mr. Gross’s son now having a master’s degree, he decided it was time to move the truck on.

IMAG0764Mabel is now at our shop awaiting her restoration and then a move to the midwest.  A true barnfind, and another Willys truck to bring back to the road.

Another Trip to Steam Mecca

Every year we venture up to route 30 in PA heading to the Rough and Tumble to see what the antique vehicles and ancient steam engines are up to at their Annual Thresher’s Reunion (which has been going on for over 65 years!)

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Scattered among the steam and kerosene tractors was an eclectic array of rare antique vehicles.  I am trying to figure out if this Mack truck was actually produced or if it is a custom build.

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Another rarity in the mix was this Diamond T truck done up as a Rumley dealer’s runabout.  It was tucked in between the Rumley Oil Pull tractors.

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DSC_0064~2When you attend this gathering even the most focused adult can become “ADHD” as exciting odd machines go strolling past from all directions.

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There is an extensive flea market at this show, and if you are looking for signs, tools, or bits of machinery prior to the 1940′s it is the place to go.  Whole families attend with their tractors and old equipment.  This young Amish boy put himself to work on the miniature hay baler.  He was putting in a quite an effort!!

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There are too many wonderful photos for one post.  Next I will post some shots of the military vehicle display as well as the largest ratrod I have ever seen. Until then have fun!

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(Photos in this post by Brittany “Nicci” Biscoe)

Porsche 356 on the road again

I believe the main reason I am into antique cars is because I grew up with a Porsche 356.  For most of my life it sat in a garage or a barn and then in the 1980s my father brought it home and we worked on it a bit at a time.  Dad bought the car for $500 in 1966 after driving a newer one.  Below is a shot of him with the car around 1971. The car is battered but is all matching numbers including the original engine.

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When my parents moved from Illinois back to our home state of Massachusetts a few years back he sent the car to me.  I asked why and he said he thought I would fix it if it was sitting in my garage.  It took a few years but he was right. The first step was getting it running around the yard.

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Then it sat for a while longer.  Dad came down to Maryland and taught me the leading and brazing techniques that were my first foray into metalwork on antique cars.

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And finally I really got rolling on the project with the help of former students.

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It was all worth it to see Dad with the car that I grew up hearing legends of. And with it all fixed up I heard even more stories that were new to me! One of my favorite stories is of a time he was pulled over for speeding.  The trooper started yelling at my father and Dad was very confused because he was driving the speed limit.  Well it turned out Dad had been speeding (120mph) an hour or two before and the trooper gave up chasing him!

Why suddenly talk about the Porsche now when I mostly talk Jeeps? Well after a year of sitting I finally took a couple days for my Dad and I, fixed some electrical issues, and put the Porsche back on the road again.

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I feel guilty for not working on Jeeps for two days….. but it’s worth it to be able to call up my father and talk about the Porsche and having it on the road again.  As Harry Pellow, Der Maestro, used to say, “Keep the 356 Faith!”

Back to Jeeps now, but I will drive the Porsche to the shop.