Money making distractions – Part 1
I have been building and fixing things my entire life and have an excellent mechanical sense. I was fortunate to have a father that was patient with me and taught me all kinds of interesting things. In my early days, I apprenticed as a heavy equipment diesel mechanic in the mines in Northern Ontario. Now I am an Electronics Professor and Program Coordinator for the Electrical / Electronic Engineering Technology program at my College here in Southern Ontario, Canada. Everything that I have done up to now has allowed me to design and build such a unique hot rod. More on that later.
The 1931 Plymouth engine - very basic and easy to work on.
Without any instruction manual, I started to assemble the pieces for the distributor for the 1931 Plymouth. Remember, I found the distributor in the car, in a box. It was totally dismantled. The distributor was assembled by me and then taken apart again many times. I was lucky, no parts were missing. I worked at it till I thought it was right. This was no 5 minute job to assemble this part. This is just a small sample of how the simplest things can take hours and hours of your day. So, if you think you want to build a hot rod, or even restore a vintage vehicle, and cannot spare a regular amount of time, and I mean lots and lots of time, you might want to consider finding something else to do. Remember, anybody can do anything they want to do, all you need is the determination and willpower to do it. Information is knowledge and also is power. Secondly, you better love what you do. If you don’t, then everything about a project is a chore. You might well wonder who would love getting dirty, greasy, and occasionally setting your sleeve on fire while grinding metal parts. Fun is what you make of it. Many people asked me how I learned all the skills needed to do this project. The quick answer is from books, and doing lots of reading, and research, backed up with lots of questions directed to people that have the knowledge. Finally the fastest way to learn something is just to do it. Trial and error is a fine teacher.
The 1931 Plymouth engine - everything is so easy to get at.
Money making distractions – Part 2
It came time to put the distributor into the engine. The fellow I bought the car from was somewhat correct about the distributor. It would not lock into place and it just spun freely and would not turn with in sequence with the crank. After a very careful look at the distributor shaft housing entering the engine block, I notice about a ½” spacing to a ridge on the distributor housing. I pulled the distributor and took a close look at the bottom end of the shaft. Things started to make sense. The distributor went back into the engine block. Only this time, I had a rubber mallet in my other hand. With a few gentle taps and careful rotation of the distributor shaft, I found the point when the shaft quit turning freely, and gave the top of the shaft one good tap. The distributor went in all of the way, to the bottom of the ridge of the distributor. Needing to know if this was going to work, I wanted to turn the engine over. Well, these old cars work off of 6 volts and guess what? In my shop, I only have a 12v battery and a 6v/12v battery charger. The battery charger will not provide the current needed for the starter. Knowing a little about motors and electronics, I used the 12v battery to make the starter to work and turn the engine for very short period of time. Success, the distributor was turning. Not wanting to burn out the 6v ignition coil, I used my old battery charger that had a 6v setting to provide power for the ignition system. I powered up the starter a second time, and had spark to the spark plugs. This was getting all pretty exciting. Now, I need to set the timing of the engine. Luck was with me. I had a reproduction copy of the original owner’s manual for this car. I was able to set the timing and tried to start the car a third time. It would not start. There was lots of spark, so I had a fuel problem. Off came the carburetor. I took it apart and gave it one very good cleaning. Another couple of hours of disappeared. I haven’t even started building a hot rod yet, I am just working on a 73 year-old motor. I am not sure why I am doing this, but I am. It came time to reinstall the carburetor and try this out again. On my fourth try, success! This 73 year old engine runs. What a rush. I stopped it and gave it another try. This thing starts as good as my high performance fuel injected Mustang. This was totally amazing. Feeling pretty good, I ran to the house to get my best friend, my wife, Jan. I wanted to show her how well this old engine ran. She agreed to come out to the shop.
Money making distractions – Part 3
1930 Plymouth distributor - This is simialar to the 31. This picture was done on my HP scanner. I didn't have a digital camera at that time.
1930 Plymouth distributor - Cleaned up and nicely painted in a gloss black paint. I sold this one on EBay.
I must say, my wife has been a real sport about this car hobby of mine. My wife often shakes her head in amazement with all of my wheeling and dealing. Money out of our pockets and money back in our pockets. Often more then I started with. Cars, and parts, come and go. Parts are slowly getting packed and shipped away. This is all part of the story that goes along with building my hot rod.
With Jan in the shop, I started the engine. After a few minutes, she asks me, if the battery charger should have smoke coming out of if. I thought she was joking. I stretched my neck over the hood to check out the battery charger. She was right. I stopped the engine and that was the end of my poor old battery charger. Even though, I am an Electronics Professor, my excitement took charge, and I neglected some basic electronics. The battery charger could not provide enough current for the ignition system. I over loaded the battery charger, and turned it into a bit of junk. Oh well, not so bad, I got a 73 year old engine running. After a couple of days, I realized that a vintage vehicle was not in my plans, I want to hot rod a car. I needed to sell the car and more importantly, I needed the space in the shop.
Money making distractions – Part 4
This car was now running and pretty much complete. I took a few pictures, scanned them, and created an ad for Old Autos. Old Autos is a Canadian auto enthusiast newspaper published twice a month, in Bothwell, Ontario and is a must for anybody getting into vintage cars or hot rods.
1931 plymouth for sale, I'm not interested in keeping a vintage car. I put it all back together again and manage to get the engine running. What a thrill that was. This car starts just as easy as my high performance 5.0L Mustang Cobra!
1931 plymouth interior, sort of rought but the car is almost 80 years old!
The ad for the car was placed. The first day the paper was out in the hands of other old car hobbyist, I had a couple of calls. The next day the first person came to look at the car. He was a retired high school principle. He liked what he saw, and I sold it to him for $3200. Not bad, I bought two cars for $3500 and sold one for $3200. This was a good profit for a few days work. I was only into the 1930 Plymouth for $300 now and it still hasn’t even been delivered to me yet. Finally the 1930 Plymouth arrived. The fellow that sold me the cars asked if I sold the 31. He also subscribes to Old Autos and most likely saw my ad. I said yes, and the look on his face changed to a look of surprise and maybe anger. I wonder why? This fellow would not talk to me for about 2 years when our paths crossed at local swap meets or cruises. You might find this interesting, the high school principle that bought the 31 Plymouth, never did anything with the car but store it. A few years later, he tried to sell the car for $4700, but without success. The morale of this story is making sure this is what you really want to do. You do not want to become a keeper to things. Remember the guys I mentioned earlier, they are warehouse keepers, and collectors, never building much.
1930 Plymouth arriving at my shop.
For the next few weeks I removed everything that I did not need on the car. I remembered something the fellow that sold me the two Plymouths. He told me he could sell bits and pieces and make lots of money. I never did thank this gentleman for this bit of information. You will see why as you read on about my quest to building unique1929 Ford roadster hot rod.
1930 Plymouth in the shop. Now comes the job of stripping the car down.
After a search on EBay, I noticed that the parts I removed and did not need, had been selling for large amounts of money. So the next part of the hot rod quest has started. I spent an enormous amount of time looking up information on EBay for the parts that I had and wanted to sell. Remember what I said earlier, information is power. I will explain. Let the games begin!! How much money can I make?
Stayed tuned, my next section will be about my experience on EBay, selling parts, making money, at a price of not working on my hot rod.