"Sidemount Rebuilding & Parts Detail "
Our two main projects this month are continuation of the rust repair on the '41 Packard LeBaron Sport Brougham and restoring all engine accessories on the '54 Coupe deVille before installing the freshly-rebuilt 331 V-8. Restorer Charles Butts is heading up the welding and fabrication of parts on the '41 180. The car has been disassembled bumper to bumper and new door skins, as well as door framing have been fabricated. The years of neglect in the Boston area took its toll of the old Packard. Charles is about three-quarters done with the metal work and has just completed the rebuilding of the two front sidemount fenders. After the fenders were removed and assessed for damage, measurements and photographs were taken. The rusty wells were cut out using a die grinder with cutting wheel. With the fender cut back to good metal, using a measured drawing, a lip and a two-piece well were constructed. The lip runs around the edge of the fender well, overlapping into the well to give a factory rolled soft edge. This was done by using Eastwood's shrinker/stretcher tool #28070. After the right length strip of metal was cut for the lip, a 60-degree roll was made the length of the lip on a metal break, keeping the break loose, so as not to make a sharp bend. Then on to the stretcher, where a series of small stretches were made until the desired curve was achieved. Small slices were cut out to allow the lip to form around the fender well cutout. Then the lip was bent over and tack-welded to the fender.
Next, with the fender off of the car and laid upside down on saw horses, the tire well was made. This consists of two half shells, each cut to dimensions established by using what was left of the old well and adding over 1" to it overall, to compensate for the increased size of the new tires. Original equipment tires were smaller, measuring approximately 29 1/2" overall diameter and 7" overall width for a 7:00x16 tire. Currently made Firestone wide whitewalls measure 30.39" x 7.60" for a 7:00x16, making for a very tight fit in the original size wheel well. The two well halves having been cut, the metal was then pre-sliced and the tire put into place and the metal slices formed around the tire. The unneeded slices were cut out and removed, and the remaining slices were tack welded into place.
The fender was now test fitted to the car. We studied a series of factory and restoration photos, which showed the top of the sidemount cover situated in various positions in relation to the belt line (stainless strip), above it, below it and even with it. A conversation with a Packard restorer who specializes in the "40-41s said that the sidemount cover should be 1/4" below the belt lime for judging. We made ours flush with the bottom of the line, feeling that the symmetry was better that way. All the welds were ground, sandblasted, and metal prepped and primed. Drain holes will be drilled at the bottom of the wells. The fenders were again fitted to the car, tires inserted and covers put on. They look great. Some additional tweaking can be done to raise or lower the side mount covers, by putting in the tires with the valve stems up, and only 10-12 pounds of air in the tires, then putting on the covers and airing up the tires to the desired height. A special thanks to Charles for taking sadly rusted parts and artistically restoring them to bring this car back to its former glory.
I have been working on the '54 Coupe deVille. With the engine compartment restored, I am finishing the accessories. One of the parts on this engine that is critical is the water pump. In 1955, to increase the water flow at an idle, Cadillac changed the water pump with a new high flow impeller with wider impeller blades and larger passages in the pump. When we called the have our pump rebuilt, we found that not many rebuilders knew of this change. So we bought a '55 pump and a "NOS" rebuild kit (with impeller) for our '54. In rebuilding this pump, the clearance between the impeller to pump body must be .005" - .010". A correctly working water pump is imperative on these cars. The bat wing air cleaner adds an aggressive look to the engine compartment and we were lucky our car still had its original one. There was a dent in the front, but fortunately, the center oil-filtering piece is separate, and I could hammer out the dent from the backside. Before straightening the dent, I stripped the air cleaner to bare metal, using a die-grinder with wire brush. I have found a great hammer to get into tight places and for stainless straightening-the "Trim Hammer " #13146 from Eastwood. After using this to hammer out the dent from the backside, I used needle nosed pliers to pull out the bent lips on the front side. Then I applied a thin coat of body filler, primed and sanded. I used gloss black acrylic enamel with hardener, spraying at 55 pounds of pressure at the gun. First a "tacky" coat goes on, and then I apply a total of five coats. Several days later, this will be rubbed out with fine compound, which will give the OEM "lacquer look". These parts can take time to restore, and we are projecting about 6 weeks until we are able to install the engine. I hope at of your projects are going well, and the cars a running cool! Until next month, keep 'em driving.