Posts Tagged ‘Old Autos’

Money making distractions

Friday, November 27th, 2009

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.

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.

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 - 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.

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 AutosOld 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 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!

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.

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.

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.


So you want to build a hot rod, where do you start?

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


How to Build a 1929 Ford Hot Rod

By: John A. Ansons logo logo


The inexpensive way

Using Imagination, ingenuity, and determination

Not just cheap, but a high quality build

Catch your interest, read on……

1929 Ford Hot Rod



John Ansons and his 1929 Ford Hotrod live in Strathroy, Ontario, Canada . The story of this car is a rather twisting and complex one that started with the purchase of two old and rather tattered Plymouths in 2004. There is trading and piecing together. Selling, bartering, designing, and building of parts such as the frame and other parts. There is tearing down, fabricating, parts transplants, There is money in and money out. But the most interesting financial aspect of the finances of this project is that in the end the “in” and the “out” of it is almost even. This project cost very little in terms of money. What it did cost was supplemented with a lot of thought, even more imagination and ingenuity, stubbornness and the determination to see it finished.

It is also a matter of some pride that it was done with little money and a lot of hard work. It is easy, with pockets that go deep enough to have a brilliant polished project parked in the driveway for all to see. That, is easy. (Written by: J. L. Reilly my best friend, partner, and best of all, my wife of 4 and 30 years.  Thanks, Janis)

So you want to build a hot rod, where do you start? – Part 1 

The journey begins here.

This all started when I was growing up in a small mining town in Northern Ontario.  We always made things and fixed everything. It was a necessity of the time.  A regular part of the routine was fixing up old beater cars used for everyday transportation.  There was a succession of many $25 and $50 cars.  Add a bottle of rye for a mechanic and you had a safety check and a “new” daily driver.  Boy things have changed.  That is a good thing. 

Like most kids, I was in there like a dirty shirt, helping my father out the best I could.  Probably, I was in the way most of the time, but he never said word about it.  Fairly early on, I wanted a snowmobile.  Of course we could not afford one.  One day, my father came home with one.  A strange looking thing called a Snow Bug.  I looked at this thing and thought “this thing is outright weird”.  Necessity overcame pride and this is what I had, so I worked with it.  Snow Bugs were not like normal snowmobiles, these had the motor in the back and you sat on a seat in the front on top of the ski.  They had a 24″ wide track and only one wide ski in the front.  They were made out of aluminum and not painted.  The one my dad brought home was in pieces,   lots of pieces.   With my father working all of the time, I became impatient and started to put this thing back together.  There was far more pushing it home than driving it, and lots of regular repairs.  That Snow Bug taught me lots about engines, pulley and gear ratios.

When I started High School I made many visits to the variety store during lunch breaks, checking out the magazine racks.  Magazines on Hot Rods and Dune Buggies caught my interest.  I could not find an old car like the early 30′s Fords that I liked, but we had lots of old VW beetles kicking around.  The Baja Sand Rails and classic dune buggies looked attractive.  The fibre glass body was out of the question for obvious reasons, but I did have access to an oxygen/acetylene cutting and welding set.  Lots of old water pipe was easily accessible for the right price, free.  So, I went to design and build my first VW dune buggy, in the style of the Sand Rail.  I found lots of pictures in various magazines.  They became my blueprint.  This was at the ripe old age of 13.  Now we call builds like this, Rat Rods.

So you want to build a hot rod – Part 2

Being left alone at home during the summer time, I had lots of time to learn how to use the torch and gas weld.  No problem here. I watched my father do this many times.  I found out quickly, that watching somebody do something is not the same as doing it yourself.  This still holds true.  To think of this now, it must have been scary, driving this contraption, built with elementary welding knowledge.  I must have done all right, I am still here to tell this story.  

Of course, growing up in a mining town, and having a father that knew how to do and try lots of things also helped.  He was my resource and supplier of parts.  Growing up poor and having to learn how to fix everything, and make all sorts of improvisations to keep up with the Jones’ also had an important role.  Incidentally, the Jones’ did live down the street from me.  I find it interesting how life’s early beginnings set the path for what you end up doing later in life.

About 5 years ago, I came up with the idea of building a hot rod.  I researched the idea of building an AC Cobra kit car and came up with a fabricator and supplier about 2 hours from home.  Everything about building a Cobra seemed very expensive.  This didn’t make any sense at all.  We still had young kids at home, a mortgage, just trying to make it to the end of the month was a challenge.  I decided to end future frustration before it began. I let the idea die an early death.

The Internet is an excellent resource for research.  I found many books on building cars of all types.  How to Build a Sports Car For as Little as 250 Pounds by Ron Champion was very interesting and exactly what I wanted to do.  This book had possibilities and looked very appealing.  Why did this interest me?  Everything could be completed cheaply, and the use of an old four banger car was easy to find.  With titles and ISBN numbers in hand, off I went to the library to search for titles I found on the Internet.  Of course, living in a small town has disadvantages in this department.  None of the titles I was looking for were available locally.  I did find one book on the shelf, Street Rodder’s Handbook by Frank Oddo.  This had a good amount of basic information that I needed to start with.  Knowing the librarian, I asked her to make inter-library loans for the books that I had on my list.  The library is a great place and an excellent resource.  Many of these books took weeks to arrive, and many never did.  Every week I would provide the elderly librarian a new list.  I think she was starting to get just a bit annoyed with me.  In one of our conversions, I told her she will get a ride in the hot rod that I build when it is completed.  She is holding me to it.

I started to do lots of reading.  Magazines started to come home by the cart load.  After many discussions with my best friend, who just happens to be my wife, I decided search out a car. 

We have an expression here at home, “when you start looking for something, you always find it”.  This holds true for everything, from houses to furniture and everything else you can imagine.  An adult student and hot rodder that I was teaching electronics at the time at a local community college I work at gave me a copy of an Old Autos newspaper.  Old Autos is published twice a month, in Bothwell, Ontario and is a must for anybody getting into vintage cars or hot rods.

So you want to build a hot rod – Part 3

The paper I received was several months old, but I still looked at the want ad section.  There was an ad for two cars about 30 minutes from home.  Perfect!  One 1930 and one 1931 Plymouth four door cars for $3500.  I made a call, and discovered this person still had both cars.  We arranged a time for me to view the cars.  I was excited.  Who would have thought I could find something so fast and so close to home.  Remember the expression, “when you start looking for something, you always find it”!  It’s true.  Away, I went in my Mustang convertible, top down, and for a drive to this fellow’s house, on a nice sunny day.  When I arrived, I noticed this fellow had a big collection of Plymouths and a lot of other junk, all in need of work, lots of work.  My guess is that if this fellow lives to be 150, he will never finish all of these cars.  In fact, I do not think this fellow has ever finished a car for himself. 


1930 plymouth hanging from the shop ceiling

1930 plymouth hanging from the shop ceiling

1931 plymouth hanging from the shop ceiling

1931 plymouth hanging from the shop ceiling


Upon entry to his shop, I found more cars and stuff.  The Plymouths I came to look at, were on top of each other to my amazement.  The ‘30 Plymouth was hanging on chains from the ceiling, only inches from the roof of the ‘31 Plymouth resting on the shop floor.  Cars were packed in like sardines in a can.  He had an old truck chassis on small coasters, and pulled it away from the Plymouths.  Bearings from the coasters, started to bounce and roll across the floor.  The weight of the chassis was just too much for the little wheeled coasters.  I started to wonder what I was getting into.  You would have to think about this.  Putting a heavy chassis on rollers meant for a small cabinet.  This did not make sense. I wondered what kind of builder this person was?  Finally, I was able to check the cars out.  The ‘30 Plymouth had a complete body with bits and pieces of the mechanical parts missing and all sorts of things piled inside the car.  The ‘31 was totally complete with engine sitting on the floor in pieces ready to be reassembled.  I was only interested in one car, the ‘30 Plymouth.  It did not look like it would ever be put back together in its original form.  It made the most sense to turn this one into a hot rod. I only wanted the ‘30 Plymouth, but this fellow would not separate them.  Maybe he thought they were sisters and needed to be in the same home.  This was a problem for me, I did not want sisters.  My shop is small and loaded with woodworking equipment and lots of wood.  I simply did not have the space.  This required a bit of thought.  More like a lot of thought.  So I went home to think about this and talk this all over with my best friend, my wife.  Please remember one thing, if you want to stay married, you better have the support of your spouse.  Life is too short for conflict. 

In the mean time, I started to clean and organize the shop.  A bit more space was made, but still not enough room for two very old cars.  After thinking this all over for about a week, I decided another trip to see the cars was in order.  One more drive on a sunny day in my Mustang convertible.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Go for a drive, smell the roses and enjoy life.  During my visit with this fellow and looking at the cars again, he started talking about cutting up the cars and selling all of the pieces, making him far more then the $3500 he was asking for both cars.  I am not sure what this was all about, maybe a bit of pressure, maybe just a bunch of loose talk.  Then he mentioned that he would even deliver the cars to my house.  Not, liking the high pressure of selling, off I went back home to think about this some more and clean up the shop a bit more.  After a few days, I gave the fellow a call and said okay lets make a deal.  He asked me if I wanted the engine put back together.   This made a lot of sense since I did not take it apart and it would take me longer to figure out than it would take this guy.  The best thing of all was he was not going to charge me any extra for this.  He wanted me to buy a 8 cylinder distributor he modified for the old four-cylinder Plymouth engine.  His rationale was that the original distributor did not turn in the engine.  Something didn’t click with me on this one and I decided to pass on his modified distributor.  A few days later, the ‘31 Plymouth arrived at my place.  We unloaded the car and pushed it into the shop.  We made arrangements for the ‘30 Plymouth’s delivery in about a week.  It was getting late, so he went home, and I stayed in the shop staring at my acquisition.  What was I getting into??  The next day I started unloading some of the boxes inside the car and came across the vintage distributor for the car.  This fellow must have liked ripping things apart.  Every part that could be taken off the distributor was sitting loose in the box.  Why would anybody do that?  Maybe just busy work?    

1931 plymouth still on the trailer outsided my shop

1931 plymouth still on the trailer outsided my shop

1931 plymouth delivered outside my shop

1931 plymouth delivered outside my shop

1931 plymouth ready to roll into my shop

1931 plymouth ready to roll into my shop


So you want to build a hot rod – Part 4

Some people are hard to figure out in this hobby.  I have seen people buy all kinds of cars and parts, but never do anything with them other than store them.  Eventually some people end up with warehouses of stuff!  One thing I have learnt is that you need to stay focussed.  Have a plan and stick to it.  This is especially for the first time builder, only buy what you need for the stage you are at and do not get anything that you think you might use or need just because it is cheap.  You are not a bird chasing after shiny things!  I have bought many items on EBay and at swap meets.  Some I have used, and many items are either still sitting in the shop, or have been re-sold.  Many of the items I have re-sold have been sold for a profit.  This was fortunate, and may not always be the case.   Of course, the profit on these items sold did lower my overall build cost.  With a small shop out of necessity I developed the policy if I have not used something in two years I sell it.  I have found things in my shop that I forgot I had, so if I forgot about them, it makes perfect sense to sell these items.    

Go to cruises and ask lots of questions.  Most car builders are flattered when you take an interest in their car by asking questions.  You should even take pictures of cars similar to the car you are building.  This is not for the purpose of copying someone else’s ideas.  It is good to develop your own reference library.  You always think that you are going to remember a great idea.  Inevitably you will forget it by the time you get to that point on your own build.  Worse you will remember you saw a great idea, just not what it was exactly. With digital cameras it never has been easier to take pictures.

Finally, when you are out looking at other people’s work, leave the “Critic” at home.  I have heard some people comment on the builder’s methods and choice of materials loud and long.  You mark yourself as a ignorant bore or worse.  Often those comments come from people that do not have there own car or have not built their own hot rod. The people with the most advice are the ones who do the least.  Remember, if you can’t say anything good, don’t say it.

So you say, what does this have to do with a 1929 Ford Hot Rod?  Well, it’s the start of an interesting journey.  You will have to read on. 

 Money making distractions will be the next section.