Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Shakedown 2016: A Buffet for the Senses

About this time last year, I went to an awesome car show.  Big surprise, right?  This one wasn't your normal show though.  It was a hot rod and custom show that only allowed period correct modifications and pre-'65 models.  They judge you at the door and decide whether of not your car passes as a custom or hot rod.  I think they even had a minimum of two modifications.  If you didn't pass, they had a lot outside the show near the swap meet where you could still show your car and your new "kicked out" sticker.  The setting was a cool historic living history museum kind of town, so you got to see all kinds of cool stuff while wandering through the cool cars.  They even had a spot where you could pull on your classic camper behind your classic custom and stay on-site.  All in all, it was a pretty neat experience in the town of Symco, Wi, at the Symco Shakedown.

Then the people who run the show decided it was growing too big for the little town of Symco, so for 2016, they moved the Shakedown to the Pioneer Airstrip at EAA in Oshkosh.  The town didn't like all that revenue being taken out, so they decided to keep holding the Symco Shakedown anyway... on the same weekend...  This creates a problem; which do you go to?  One of the swap meet vendors said to me, "it's like having divorced parents and choosing who to see on Christmas... It's not fair to us."  I think a petition is in order to get one of them to change dates.  Who doesn't want to go see two of those kinds of shows?!

This one was sealed away in a basement for 50 years and put back on the road with all the original parts!
Yesterday, I opted for the Shakedown at EAA because it's way closer.  It was cool, and the cars we're cooler.  A really neat aspect was the old time airport and the few old planes that they were giving rides in.  Not only did you have sweet cars that sometimes moved and sounded cool, but you also had the planes taking off and landing and looking awesome and sounding cool.  There were times when I felt like I was in an old movie or just back in time.  Add a little fog and darkness and Cary Grant, and it's Casablanca all over again.

For $75, you too could ride the big tri-motor plane.
While the airstrip was cool, the rest of the show was basically a park.  It was neat to see the cars, but it wasn't Symco cool.  I'm glad I went to the show to see how it was, but I feel like next year I'll have to go back and see how Symco is doing under "new management."

I will say though, there were three cars that stood out to me as being really awesome and made a solid case for being on The List.  There was a '58 Fairlane that was fully redone and beautiful, a '32 Ford Roadster that was sealed away in a basement for 50 years, and a '32 Coupe that I didn't get a shot of, but it was brown, had all the hood, no fenders, and had a stance like a salt flat hot rod.  It would be very hard for me to not daily either of the '32s if I owned them.

When I was in high school, after I got my '64 Fairlane, I thought it would be cool to get all the generations of Fairlanes.
I would drive the wheel off this thing.
I've been thinking about this more and more recently, and shows like this don't help; I think I'm going to sell my precious Crown Vic and put the money from that towards something old to daily.  I've got the Bronco for winter driving, so I could park whatever I get in the winter and have it be a more dedicated summer ride.  Life is just better in old steel.

I'm a sucker for a patina truck.
See photos from the Symco Shakedown 2015 here.

I think you can already tell the setting is cooler in Symco.
See photos from the Shakedown 2016 at EAA here.

All we're missing is trains!
Fit right in this year

Project Glory Hole: Part 1

I finally did it!  I sealed the deal... on a sweet deal I found on Craigslist.  I'm always seeing things on there that are awesome and good prices, but I always either have no money or can't get to it soon enough.  (I almost got a '63 Galaxie wagon that way, but somebody got there first with money and a trailer.)  At long last, I finally got to drag home some rusty, carbureted junk for near scrap prices.

But just look at what I got!  Just look at it!!
The vehicle in question wasn't even something I was looking for, but when you search for Fords under $1000 in cars and car parts, you never know what will come up.  In this instance, what came up was a '79 Bronco with a 400 V8, 4-speed, no roof, and a "very, very, very rusty" body (but it's Wisconsin, so you can easily add two more very's just because of that).  When I got to it, I could see the extent of that rust and how the rockers, floor pans, and quarters were eaten away, and the quarters were actually pulling away from each other.  It was a wood hauler at his cabin up North, and I'm thinking they did some four wheeling with the tailgate down and wood pushing on the unsupported quarter panels which is probably why they don't touch the tailgate when it shuts now. That will take some work to rectify.  Well, the whole thing will...  Also, the floor was deemed so bad that they pulled the passenger side floor out for safety sake.  I can lift the driver's seat on the left side even though it's bolted to the floor still.  The floor comes with it.

It's see through.
The guy listed it on Monday night, and I saw it Tuesday night.  I realized it wasn't something I should sit on, so I texted him for pictures.  It was late, so he said he'd send some the next day... and he did!  I got everything lined up, and I met him at 8am on Saturday to buy it, because he was supposed to leave on a trip at 9am.  Two hours later, my trailer shined around.

By that time, we had only started it in place, but he said he was driving it around the yard the previous day.  The guy had yanked the center section out of the rear axle for another project, so it didn't drive normal.  It was one of those rare, front wheel drive '79 Broncos.  I put it in 4L and the granny gear, and after a couple chicken out attempts, I got it on the trailer.

I followed my new Bronco all 30 miles to my friend's house where it now sits waiting for me to come work on it next weekend, and that was interesting.  I had to follow due to an issue with some failed brake lights, and since we were in the city, you can't really fake it and hope no one hits you.  As I followed, I was bombarded by bits of rust and tree that were being blown out of the vehicle and onto my beautiful Crown Vic.  We stopped for gas, bathroom, and drink along the way (because we were already an hour plus of driving for the day, and I'd been waiting for two for the trailer), and I found what I felt was the perfect drink for the day, a Dr. Pepper with a monster truck '87 Blazer on it.

Our trip was pretty smooth other than some darting into traffic to stay right behind the trailer.  I was trying to lead from behind, and we missed a turn, so I hammered down to pass him and redirect the convoy.  It was worth it, though, because we saw a really sweet lifted Comanche driving towards us.  I also learned quite a bit about the Bronco on the trailer.  When we hit bumps, the trailer would bounce, but the tires, suspension, and frame didn't because they were well secured to the trailer... but the body bounced.  Something in the left rear quarter panel area isn't overly well connected and needs some attention.  Eventually, we made it there with no major issues and no casualties.  Marking it as a win.

Once we arrived, my brother, mechanic friend, and his kid (a couple years younger than me) all got to see just how great of a purchase the Bronco was.  They all took turns looking it over and picking it apart with questions about my intentions or the integrity of the Bronco.  I didn't care; it's awesome.  We unloaded it and proceeded to take turns driving it around the yard and up and down the driveway.  We all kind of agreed that this has great potential so long as it's realized correctly.  We wrapped the seats and parked it next to our dad's '52 Ford F-3 that's being stored for us down there, just down the line from my '64 Fairlane that I keep trying to convince him to sell back to me.  That yard is one Maverick and one FC short of the whole family.  My brother and I then went off to find lunch and talk strategy.

My Bronco...
... next to my dad's '52 F-3...
... near my Vic...
... down the row from my '64 Fairlane.
That leads me to the "build" portion of our show today.  Everyone asks me, "what are you gonna do with it," or, "why would you want that rust pile of junk?"  My answer is simple; it's cool, I've wanted one since I was a kid, and for what I got and the price I got it, you can't go wrong.  My idea is this, patch the body together enough that I can bomb it around and take it to work or be a winter daily.  I'd love to be able to take it off-roading a bit, and I'd like it to be able to pull my mom's 14' camper if going  short trips, and I'd like to 5-speed swap it, but other than that, I'm keeping it pretty stock.  Maybe someday down the road I'll find a clean body to swap onto the frame, but I think this one will work fine enough and be really fun too.

At this point, I don't really have any big plans mechanically for the Bronco.  I'd like to swap a 5-speed for mileage, but I really like the original shifter and its quirkiness.  The motor will stay mostly stock simply because there's no aftermarket support for a 400 that isn't insanely expensive.  I'll probably do a few things, but it's a pretty torquey motor from the factory.  If I get really crazy or find a sweet deal, maybe I'll swap in a 460, but those are expensive to build too.  I'm planning to keep it stock height with stock height tires, partly because there's no place to off-road nearby, partly because I'd like my gauges to stay accurate, and mostly because I'm not really a truck guy, and I like to be able to get in and out of it easier.  I'm more of a muscle car guy anyways.  I only need trucks to drag my projects home.

The last issue we've been having is what to call it.  It's a rusty old Bronco with holes in the floor, no roof, quarter panels falling off, and it's really held together with hope and a bungee cord, but someday, when it drives down the roads and the trails and especially when we get a new body for it, this thing is gonna be the glorious epitome of overlanding excellence.  If we just had a name...  I was thinking the "Rustco" or "Rusty Jones," once I saw the paperwork in the glove box for undercoating, but then there's the Gone in 60 Seconds idea of naming them all with girl names, which also fits my idea for a sign over my garage saying "Charlie's Angels."  No girl names are popping into my head for this Bronco (other than maybe Brittany for the sake of alliteration), so I'm not sure on that idea.  My brother laughed as he jokingly blurted out "Project Glory Hole," and so far, I think that's our best name choice so far, so until further notice, I'll keep you updated on Project Glory Hole.  Stay tuned!

Note the light from the floor area.