Tuesday, October 22, 2013


 From the dark, spider-infested depths of son Mark Ashcraft's shop emerged this pretty dang straight 1968 Saab 96 V4 Deluxe. We are starting a complete restoration on this car, which will include reconditioning or replacing bloody nearly everything mechanical PLUS a host of up-grades.
 You can see that the car is complete--even the made of "unobtanium" light covers are on the car and in very good condition. I'll completely recondition the transmission, the engine [to be 120 bhp 1700+ cc], distributor, alternator, starter, wiper motor, heater motor and a ton of other small stuff.  It will get a cooling system upgrade, including the "Florida Fix" side-of-hood vents, electric fan(s), and new everything in that area.
 Would you believe those are the original mud flaps and that they are in very good condition? Well, the suspension and brakes will be renewed, too, and if we find any rust, we'll simply cut that panel out and replace it with one of our heavy duty panels. 
This area will get a lot of attention, too. We'll rebuild the gauges, install one of our new dash tops and put in new upholstery and carpeting.  This car will not only look like new throughout, it will be BETTER in many ways because we use modern, heavy duty parts in many areas, some we manufacture ourselves.

If YOU would like this car, we can put your a name on it NOW, and can do the special touches to the car to make it YOURS!
Interested?  Contact me--work has already begun on the car.

Friday, October 11, 2013


 The rear license plate shroud is ready to be mounted on the car. This shows the license lights mounted, though I removed them for the bonding-in process. There is a stainless steel strip [with nuts welded to its back side] riveted to the light strip to receive the light mount bolts.
 AHA! The shroud is bonded in place on the spare tire cover of MR T. Final sanding and trimming is yet to be done.
 This is a good photo of the arse end of MR T. You can see a LOT of my fiberglass work, including the removable top, the rear fenders [with Triumph TR4 tail lamps], the fiberglass fuel tank filler door, the fiberglass bumper valence [bumpers not yet laid up], and the fiberglass spare tire cover, now with the license plate shroud bonded in place.
 A good rear view showing the 'glass parts. If you look carefully at the top area of the fiberglass top, you can see the "double bubble" I built into the top. If you look closely at the center of the bumper valence you will see a small square hole cut in the valence surface. Just inside the hole is a trailer hitch receiver. Just ahead of the right tail lamp assembly [sort of in the middle of the white bondo area] is the connector plug for the trailer lights wiring.  It's called "plan ahead".....  
 A low angle shot of the license plate shroud, showing the lights as well as the license plate location. The dark areas on the spare tire cover are where I added a ply of graphite cloth for extra strength.
The spare tire cover is hinged on the left and swings open as shown to remove the spare tire. You can see the wiring [with a disconnect plug] for the license lights and the cover prop. I used plug connectors throughout the car as I wired it. So far there are 68 plug connectors.....
I might have mentioned that I like working with fiberglass. Well, I also like working with auto electrical wiring. Heh heh heh....


 FIBERGLASS TIME!  I really LIKE working with fiberglass!These are carved and sanded urethane foam blocks, the basis for a rear license plate shroud for MR T, my '37 FIAT Topolino "EuroRod".  Also shown are multiple layers of 8-ounce bi-directional cloth. The foam blocks are stuck together with small dabs of "bondo", which I also used to stick the blocks down on an aluminum sheet that was covered with clear shipping tape.
 The layup is complete. The thin strip to the left is for a mount panel for the license plate lamps. I added a license plate to show the scale of the layups, which are ready to be trimmed. The dark areas of the layup show where I added a ply of graphite cloth, for extra strength.
 I used an air driven die grinder and cutter wheel [yes, I used eye protection] to cut the cured fiberglass. I used Fiberglast 2000 epoxy resin so the finished product is HARD, folks.
 Here are the finished, trimmed pieces, ready to be assembled.
This photo shows all the parts, with a South Dakota license plate for scale. The small strip is yet to be trimmed and fitted to the lamps, then bonded to the shroud. I use small dabs of "bondo" [catalyzed "hot"] to hold the light strip in place, then add narrow strips of cloth, with epoxy resin, to bond the strip into place.
Did I mention that I really like playing with fiberglass?

Next time: Bonding the shroud assembly to the spare tire cover of MR T.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 This is a very useful tool that I built, patterned after plans I found in an ancient POPULAR MECHANICS magazine. On the left, in red, are all the parts for this little metal bender that I clamp in my bench vise. On the right, in green, is the first one I built. I've used it for about 10 years. It will bend a 12" wide piece of 18 gauge steel, or smaller widths of 16 gauge. The "holder" piece--the middle angle in the red parts shown--is adjustable fore and aft to accommodate different bend angles, up to about 115 degrees.
The operation is straight forward--put in the piece to be bent, set the holder angle where you want it, tighten down the nut on each end of the holder and lift the handle. Bend the piece to the angle you want. You can see how a piece of metal can be bent into more than one angle and it produces a nice crisp bend every time.
I'm amazed at how often I use this critter--it works really well! Want one? Contact me.