Wednesday, January 13, 2016

JACK ASHCRAFT'S ARTWORK--PHANTOM DRAWINGS

 Every once in a while it is good to "show off", assuming you have something to show. One of my evils is doing "phantom" drawings. You know, those drawings done as though the outer skin is clear plastic.  The drawing above was my FIRST phantom, done in the winter of 1962.  [Yeah, I know...back when dinosaurs roamed the earth...] 
 John Callies' FIAT Topolino with a 303 CID Pontiac V8 engine was the first phantom drawing that I got paid for doing. John used the car--and my art work--to promote the various products that he marketed. This was one scary little bomb to drive or ride in!
 Another FIAT, this one a 1937 model, my own car, MR T. Mechanicals were almost all FIAT, including the 2-litre twin cam engine, 5 speed trans, disc brakes, etc. It even had some SAAB parts! I built new fiberglass rear fenders, spare tire cover, the hood/front fenders assembly, and some other stuff.
 HA! Another one I got paid for. This is a kit car, built by a small company in Oklahoma City, between tornadoes, one assumes. It has a 5-litre Ford V8 engine, disc brakes, a fuel cell, and a ton of other goodies.
 Well, of course I did phantom drawings of SAABS!  Above, a very special Sonett III with all new fiberglass up front, and a complete re-style of the arse end.  Engine is a  1.7 litre V4 Ford of about 120 bhp, and yup, those ARE Ronal wheels.
 This is FAST FREDDY, my '68 Sonett V4 autocross and hill climb racer. Freddy's V4 engine produced right at 150 bhp and a winter diet got his weight down to 1490 pounds, ready to race. Competitors hated to see me arrive in Freddy. In 5 years of autocross racing, I can count the number of times I was beaten in my class, on one hand.
 Another highly successful race car, believe it or not. My son Chris and I built TITO, an '86 Yugo, for Pacific Northwest autocross racing. The engine was a 1.5 litre FIAT X1/9 engine producing the better part of 140 bhp. This was another car that the competitors hated to see arrive at the race courses.
 Here is another drawing done for a kit car manufacturer. It boasted a fiberglass body and square steel "space" frame, and was set up for VW, Porsche or Corvair power. And yup, I got paid for this one, too.
 I did this drawing of Ford's Mustang One for an article in a magazine. Note the twin radiators, one on each side of the engine. A pity Saab wouldn't consider producing a roadster...Ford's contract builders, Troutman and Barnes, in Southern California, who produced half a dozen of these cars, had done all the work already.  When Ford decided NOT to produce the Mustang One, Saab could have had it for a song.
 I got serious about phantom drawings with this one, completed when I was in my final semester of Automotive Design at Art Center College of Design in L.A. in 1975.  We seniors were doing a design project for General Motors for a proposed new LaSalle.
 Airplanes are fun to draw.  This one is a Bradley Aerobat. Bradley Aerospace was a very small company in Chico, California, building these little aluminum buggers as kits. Modified VW engines were the normal powerplant used. I completed a multi-page, step-by-step assembly manual for this little bird.
My pay for doing an assembly manual for the Polliwagen was a complete Polliwagen KIT!  This was a side-by-side, two place composite bird that could be ordered with retractable landing gear, fixed, or full flying tail, and could be configured for a VW engine, or larger powerplants up to and including the 150 bhp Lycoming O-320. It was fun to fly and was a genuine 200 mph bird with the larger engine.

All of the original art for these drawings was done about 16" x 24" size, in order to get the level of detail you see. I always use a LOT of photographs to get the details correct, and when possible, go to the factory so I can really see--and photograph-- the "bare bones" of the car or airplane. It is not in my nature to guess at anything.

I hope you have enjoyed my bit of "showing off!"

SAAB 95/96/97 BACK UP LIGHT SWITCHES

 These are the [made of unobtainium] back up light switches for Saab 95/96/97 cars that I recondition. The drawing above shows where the switch is located on the Saab transaxle, and the internals of the switch. Nothing much to them...right?  Well, yes and no. Because of the nasty environment where they "live", they get really grubby and corroded inside. The trick is to get them apart without destroying them.  AH! as the Bard of Avon said, "There's the rub!"
 Here are 16 switches. At the bottom, one switch disassembled. Above, are 15 switches that I have reconditioned and tested. As I said, getting them apart without destroying the switch is the trick, and it is a bitch....unless...
...you happen to have my special tools. Top center--the tool that holds the switch so  you can use the bottom tool to UN-crimp the steel body of the switch WITHOUT breaking the plastic switch body. The same tool is used to RE-crimp the steel body of the switch.  The little red tool is a special holder for trimming tiny brass screws that I sometimes have to use to hold a new connector when one of the electrical connector tabs are broken off.

If you are wondering where to get these tools....they're made of unobtainium, too. Just send me you dead switch and I'll recondition it.  When I'm done with it, it will look like one of the 15 switches in the center photo.  Good stuff, huh? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A TUCKER GOT ME!

 IT'S A 1948 TUCKER! I was more than pleased to see THREE of 'em recently at a Concours car show at Ironstone Winery, east of Sonora, California. That center headlight DOES turn with the front wheels...And the trunk is "up front."
 This is the view drivers of other cars saw in 1948. This car, number 21 [of 51 built] is owned by a friend of mine who lives in Chico, California. He was good enough to spend several hours with me and my son Chris, filling our memory banks with things Tucker. He also gave us quite a long ride in the car.  I'll tell you this: as good as this car is NOW, with over 200,000 road miles on it, it must have been over the moon sensational in 1948! The car still has NO squeaks or rattles and is very quiet, even at
speeds up to 90 mph.  And it is FAST!
 Alex Tremlis had just ten days to design this car...Preston Tucker was always in a big hurry, it seems.  That air intake grille on the back fender hinges open to expose the fuel filler nozzle. Cars after about number 30 had the fuel tank "up front." 
 That's my son Chris, saying, "Well, what are we waiting for--let's GO!" This car has the original hub caps, that had six radial cooling slots cut into them, and the Tucker coat of arms attached to their centers. Note that the doors open well into the roof.
 The safety interior--no instrument panel to bash your head on. The heater is under the front seat. You can see the radio on the right side of the instrument module. The extension coming out of the right side of the steering column mounts the control for the Bendix pre-selection of gears in the Cord 4 speed transmission.  You move the little lever, then when you are ready, you just push in the clutch and the pre-selected gear is engaged. Release the clutch and away you go....
 Driver's view of the instruments. The 4 ivory knobs control heating and ventilation. Below that are the light switches, ignition switch and starter button.  On the right you can just see the control knob for the Bendix pre-select system. 
 The business district. The all-aluminum, flat six is NOT a helicopter engine. Preston Tucker bought the Franklin Engine Co., and Franklin engineers built a WATER cooled version of the helicopter engine. It displaced 335 cubic inches, produced 166 bhp and just under 400 ft/lb of torque.
 A STOCK Tucker was clocked at the Bonneville Salt Flats at over 130 mph. The car's low coefficent of drag, estimated at 0.30, and the engine's prodigious torque, were the reason for that incredible performance for a 1948 car.
So there's the rocket ship. An incredible design in 1948 and still gorgeous today. 
Fifty-one of them built....and I got to ride in one--WOW!

SAAB 95/96/97 TRANSMISSION OIL DIP STICKS

 Mass production time again--Saab 95/96/97 transmission oil dip sticks this time. The red "thingie" in the foreground is the jig I built that I use to get the correct bends and "fit" for the dip stick. The dip stick in the jig is an ORIGINAL Saab item. The eight new dipsticks [above] are ready for customers, tho the last three need to have their handles painted green.
Another view of the eight finished dip sticks.  See...having a transmission oil dipstick just might mean you would actually CHECK THE OIL LEVEL in your transmission. Just remove the fill plug near the top of the gearbox, wiggle the dip stick down into it until the bent "stop" sets against the sides of the open hole, pull out the dipstick and read it. There are notches for MIN and MAX on the dipstick--just like the original--so you can tell the oil level in the unit.
You don't have to get greasy trying to take out the stupid check plug on the side of the transmission, and you don't have transmission oil dripping on your garage floor.   AND...the transmission you save--from lack of oil--just might be YOURS!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

SAAB 95 & 96 WIPER MOTORS WIPE AGAIN!

 Wiper motors again! This ugly duckling is a Lucas motor for a late SAAB 95 or 96. This one was in its fairly ugly, not working, state when I received it.   Nasty....
 Here is the same motor...DE-nastified, and ready to be reassembled and tested.
 Ah, Henry Ford would be proud of me....three of 'em reconditioned and ready for reassembly.
...and here they are, ready to do their duty happily in a vintage SAAB 95 or 96.  All have been tested for both speeds, plus self park.  Neat, aye?

SAAB 99 SPEEDOMETER RECONDITIONING

 SAAB speedometer reconditioning time again, but this time a SAAB 99 EMS speedo!
These units are full of plastic gears [typical of bean counter work at VDO, I assume] and in the top photo you can see the END of one [of 2] bad plastic gears in this speedo. It is the white gear between the two spiral gears.
This is the speedometer out of the 78 EMS. All looks good here.

 The top [main] register has a grey, toothed gear at the right end --it is mostly lead and is pressed onto the register shaft. After umpteen years of work, it loses its grip
--literally--and the odometer stops odometering.  I replace that gear--using a number of very special puller and pusher and holder tools--with a gear made of some modern, miracle plastic that is tough and won't slip on the shaft.
This photo shows the bad [cracked and slipping] small, white gear, the main register shaft, and just inside the speedometer frame, the bad [also slipping] part lead drive gear. I replaced both gears, lubed the unit, set the odometer to the  figure the customer wanted, then reassembled it and calibrated the speed. Every speedometer has a specific gear ratio. The master VDO book [which I have] shows speeds for the speed needle, given various input speeds [from the speedometer cable]. I use a calibrated input speed, and set the speed needle to agree with the VDO figure for that speedo's gear ratio.   No guess work.  We all like the speedometer to read right. This one is ready for another 87,000 miles.... 

WIPING CLEAN

 SAAB/Lucas wiper motor reconditioning time again--three of 'em at a time. Most of 'em look like the one shown above when I take 'em apart---YUK!  No wonder they don't  work worth a damn.  Well...over 40 years of working wiper blades....
 Here are three of them--reconditioned. One assembled [on the right], two ready to go together.  
 Ahh...that's better. The brush plate inside has been replaced on this one--you can see where the wires to the self-park switch and main connector have been spliced.
Here is one of the motors on my test bed. I can test any style Lucas motor with this unit. The electrical connections are exactly the same as if the motor was mounted in a car.  No guess work here---I run the motors for a while, on both speeds, and test the self-park feature.  Nothing like the right tools for the job--aye?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

SAAB V4 DISTRIBUTOR RECONDITIONING

 Mass production time again! Here are six [of eight] Bosch distributors for Saab V4 cars, completely disassembled, and with a zillion miles worth of grease and crud cleaned off. They are ready to have the bottom of the distributor housing rebushed. The housing "hogs out" at the bottom, with age and a jillion miles of useage. This wear causes the point gap [thus the dwell and the ignition timing] to fluctuate and the engine runs like crap. Note that the second housing from the right already has a steel bushing installed.
 I use a bronze bushing...BUT...first the distributor housing must be reamed to a certain diameter.  It is essential that the distributor be held perfectly square and the tool that I made [which is in the lathe chuck in this picture] does that job. You can see that several distributors have been drilled, thus the pile of aluminum FUZZ on the lathe bed.
 You can see the bronze bushing set in place, just ready to be pressed into the distributor housing.
 Once I get the bushing in place, I have to ream it to the shaft size, plus 0.003". This is a tedious process, but doing the job with a hand reamer makes sure I get the correct fit. Every distributor is a LITTLE DIFFERENT and has different amounts of wear--remember--these suckers are about 50 years old! 
 You can see the five distributor bodies with bronze bushings and the one with the previously installed steel bushing here.  All the shafts have been fitted and they are ready to go back together again. Now the REAL work starts, as the points advance plates must be fitted and adjusted, a vacuum control unit fitted, and then the assembled unit has to go onto the SUN distributor test machine to set the advance curves.  This usually means I get to take the suckers apart 2 or 3 times to adjust the mechanical advance gubbins to get the correct advance curve.  Swearing usually helps. Quite a lot of swearing helps quite a lot more. 
All eight completely reconditioned distributors are shown here. These all have points and a condenser installed. If the customer wants a Pertronix unit, I take out the points and condenser and install the P unit. Then I add a rotor, a cap and a new set of spark plug wires, and the bugger is ready to go into the customer's V4 engine, for another 100,000 miles.  Good stuff!  

Friday, April 24, 2015

SAAB RIBBON SPEEDO MODULE--ELECTRIC TEMP GAUGE

 Here we have two ancient Saab 96 speedometer/multi-gauge units. Because the temperature gauge [left gauge in top module] is a so called "bulb" type, the capillary tube from the sender in the cylinder head to the gauge itself gets damaged and the gauge is kaput. NO new assemblies are available. The SOLUTION is to change to an electric gauge/sender unit combination.  The PROBLEM is figuring out how to mount an electric gauge in the old module. Head scratching time....
 My solution is to remove an electric temperature gauge from a Saab combination gauge unit. I trimmed the gauge face slightly and mounted it on an aluminum plate, as shown above. Making the gauge fit the mount plate and the mount plate fit the speedo module....let's just say that part took the most head scratching.  

Once you get one of these suckers apart, you have quite a few pieces. I've cleaned them all up here, and have repaired the inoperative odometer in this one, and it's ready to go back together. That's another the tricky part, as you might imagine...

 I always have to strip the main, cast aluminum case because it was painted white at the factory and the old white paint flakes off. You can see it is all cleaned and repainted here, and the mechanical bits are all lubricated correctly and yes, the odometer now works!

Go back to the first photo [bottom] to see how the electric gauge looks when it is installed. It is a good "fit" and a good "match" for the other original gauges. This photo shows the back of the module, with the electric gauge mounted. The tan wire is marked "tank", but that's my mistake--I changed it to correctly read "temp sender".
All electric gauges--except an ammeter and a voltmeter--need 3 electrical inputs: 12 volts for reference, an input from the sender unit, and ground. The latter is the black wire in the photo.  So you see, the head scratching worked! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

SAAB/LUCAS WINDSHIELD WIPER MOTOR RECONDITIONING

 Lucas square body wiper motors!  For Saabs once again. This is how they look--usually--when I get them....YUK!
 All the "innards"...  At the top---a motor that hasn't been taken apart yet...Yup, that's how they look when I get the suckers.  At bottom right---that's how they look when I'm done with 'em.   In the middle---all the "stuff" that goes to make up a wiper motor. Starting at the left: Main housing and drum gear. Round cap below that contains the self park plate. Next on the right is the field winding module, which also carries the brushes. Next is the armature assembly, then the armature housing, and finally the end cap assembly. The sort of triangular "thingie" below the armature is the mount plate, then a worthless sponge dust seal, a washer and the actuating tab.    Good stuff!
Here are two reconditioned Lucas/Saab wiper motors. Same, but sightly different. Note the connectors. On the left is the early [1966 Saab 95/96] motor, with two connectors. On the right is the later [1967-69] motor with only one connector. Inside, the motors are identical, and will interchange if you switch connectors...AND...if you hook them up correctly.  Some fun!