My 1931 Cadillac has been quite a joy.
It came to me on January 25, 2018 in pretty good shape except the last time it was greased was when it left the factory. Back in 1931 the automobile was not an everyday man item and not everyone knew the intricates of greasing the mechanical breaks or the steering box. Sure the oil has to be changed and the bearings, universal joints and chassis need normal maintenance but who knew the small parts also required a little TLC.
Its 346 Cubic Inch flathead V-8 was overhauled before it joined my collection. It purrs smoothly and drives a three speed transmission with a floor mounted shifter.
The mechanical breaks have been completely overhauled and now I am working on the steering box. When I’m done it will be like the car has power steering the overhauled steering box will operate so smoothly and easily. The windshield wipers are next and then I believe everything will be good to go.
Well that is the mechanical side of things. The chassis and metal body is in really good shape for a 90 year old. The roof was a little spongy and had a definite sag. I knew this when I acquired the old lady but I figured how hard can a little woodworking be. After all all my brothers have an interest in doing something with wood. With great enthusiasm I began the project of stripping the canvas off the top and carefully removing the few support members I thought needed replacing, then I removed a few more that were connected, then a few more that “might not” be just perfect. Before I knew it the entire wooden top was on my bench top carefully numbered and labeled as to where it went.
Did you know they no longer sell a replacement wooden spar kit for a 1931 Cadillac. You can’t even buy a set of patterns for making what seems like hundreds of struts. Every piece that needs replacement must be refabricated by hand using the old piece for a pattern and carefully allowing for the wear and shrinkage that has happened over the last century.
It took me a little more than a day (I’m not saying how much longer) before I realized my shills are mechanical and metal working and WOOD is an entirely different animal. I would have been a heap of trouble if a good friend and member of our car club wasn’t also a skilled furniture maker. He loved the challenge and I learned a bunch about working with wood. The three most important things I learned were; Sandpaper is your friend, it takes patience, a lot of patience to make everything fit perfectly, sometimes you even have to make a second (or third) replacement part and Finally I learned Woodworking is a craft ar should I say art best left to those who love it. I’ll stick with rebuilding carburetors and fabricating new cork floats and valves and you can do take care of the wood craftsmanship in my old cars.
For over 100 more slides of this regal old lady click on the button under the photos and you will be taken to her “Flickr” album.