End of the line

The antique Commer truck. September 2012:

firewood truck, Atlántida, Uruguay

December 2012:

December 2014 – mistakenly thought to be a different one:

Ancient Commer truck in Uruguay

January 2016: and yet again, parked at the zoo:

ancient Commer truck parked in Uruguay

Alas, on a dreary day in 2019, that sad truck that appears to have finally reached the end of the line:

Interesting to reflect that this truck was built the year I was born. Happy to report I’m holding up better….

Just another Burkhard visit

I called Burkhard to see if there was anything new with the Model T. Not really, he said, I’ve painted the chassis. Well, I said, since I have to go to our chacra anyway to pick up my mechanical sheep (he has real sheep; I require a four-stroke engine mounted on wheels with a blade spinning really fast to keep grass trimmed), that might be interesting to see.

As I pulled in, I didn’t actually notice this at first: another Model A chassis.

Model A chassis, Uruguay

But as we walked around the garage, I definitely noticed this:

Unresotred Model As, Uruguay

two more unrestored 1929 Model A’s (I had to ask), purchased at auction for $400 each. The better chassis will remain here; the other will go to someone else into this stuff. Burkhard’s end result will be a pickup truck, hybrid of genuine original Model A and Model T pieces. Seems wife had issues with excessive wrecks populating the back yard. Hey, it’s a guy thing; get over it!

Model A's, Uruguay

Meanwhile, in the garage he built between two containers, Burkhard’s restored A is joined by a four door Sedan, which he stores for a friend whose mother drove it – in Montevideo – until 15 years ago. Yes, let that sink in. The black vehicle is all original.

Boggles the mind.

Model T chassis, Uruguay

Meanwhile, here’s the T chassis – upside-down and lovingly painted. It’s very light, and surprisingly flimsy.

I got curious: the Model A versions ranged from about  (USD) $400 – 1,400 in 1929, or ~$5,840 – 20,400 in 2018 dollars. That seems reasonable.

On the other hand, $400 in 2018 would have been worth $27.40 in 1929. I’d say that’s rather a screaming bargain either way.




The rust bucket

Burkhard’s Model T has now moved from shipping container storage to his garage workshop, on borrowed wheels (his are being rebuilt). Because of course, just borrow Model T wheels. No problem! They’re actually from Francisco, who told him about using rear axle housings to keep the front end level — notice them to the left of the photo.

Model T restoration

He thought the jacket draped over the back shouldn’t be in the photo, but it struck me as perfectly symbolic: well, at least this thing has value as a coat rack!

Model T restoration

Burkhard chuckled as he lifted body panels, demonstrating how flimsy the whole thing is.

Model T restoration

I think at this point I would decide that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. Burkhard is undeterred.

Model T restoration

The bodywork in a Ford Model T is build over wood framing. This door is mostly good, but much of the other wood in this critter is rotted or destroyed by bugs. Researching a while ago, I read that Henry Ford owned over 100,000 acres of forest land to provide wood for Model Ts. I also read that — perhaps — they cut up pallets from parts deliveries to use in Model Ts. Perhaps. Just under 15 million of these cars were produced, between October 1908 and May 1927. Insane!

Model T restoration

Here’s another view of the Tin Lizzie.

This will be interesting. Stay tuned…!

Model T: new parts, old parts, tire changing

I checked in with Burkhard yesterday, to see the status of the Model T project. He told me that they day before, he had felt like a kid at Christmas after a box full of parts arrived from the United States.

Here they are: bushings, suspension and steering bits. And the aftermarket springs.

Model T restoration

And what of the beast itself? Look at this picture and see if you notice something strange, as I did:

Model T restoration

His friend friend Francisco, who turns out to be the owner of the working Model A pickup, tipped him off that the rear axle housings are perfect for supporting the front end. Logs supported the rear end.

Model T restoration

There’s a little more unanticipated, slightly tricky welding required.

Model T restoration

The wood framing for the body panels needs to be replaced. Most of it is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple pf pieces – not pictured – which involve compound curves.

Model T restoration

The parts department: spares for both cars.

Model T restoration

You may well recognize the cylinder head and starter. That weird thing on the left is the flywheel and gear box, consisting of two gears and reverse. Pressing the pedals tightened bands around them. The braking for the vehicle also happened here, which suggests that there’s no such thing as a Model T screeching to a halt!

Model T restoration

Then Burkhard showed me this gem: a unique tire-changing tool. The rims, which attach to the wooden wheel with five bolts, are not one continuous piece. When tightened with this tool, they effectively make the diameter smaller, allowing for a tire change on the side of the road. If you’ve ever watched your car’s tires being mounted, you’ll appreciate the ingenuity of this.

Model T restoration

No need to go further. The rim’s not refinished, and it would still require a tube, but pretty darned cool!



It begins: the wheels

Immediately after I posted yesterday, Burkhard sent me current photos. I think maybe he’s having some fun with me, because the last one is definitely smaller than the next two, and even accounting for perspective, the closest looks bigger.

Model T wheels

I’m not sure why he feels a need to fix them — it’s just a few bug holes and Model Ts don’t go very fast.

Model T wheel closeup

But he’s picky. No doubt will insist on new tires as well.

Model T wheels pre-restoration

I think that’s a front hub below. You can actually buy one new for USD 289.95. Might make a nice coffee table conversation piece. The new spokes will be made from fresno, or ash, used for ax handles up north (along with hickory).

Rims and hubs, ready to go for refurbishing. Local cost to put each wheel back together with new spokes is USD 100, which seems like a good deal now that I’ve looked online.

Model T wheel disassembled

And meanwhile, some new antique firewood!

Model T spokes for firewood