Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan

Posted by Joe Santana On 2010/10/28 20:55:33
Once the Duchess came home, she spread out and made herself at home in all 3 ports. I managed to squeeze her into 2 so one ordinary car could get out of the weather. Shelves were procured, cabinets filled.

The engine was refreshed and hardened against unleaded fuel.

I located an AAV-26 Stromberg carburetor and bought a kit. I looked at the instructions. Daunting. I'd never attempted anything like this before. And what if it didn't work? I needed some carburetor cleaner and the old guy (younger than I) at the Carquest auto supply store offered this advice. Get a sheet and spread it across your bench. Grab a bar stool. Make yourself a cup of hot coffee because the longer you stay at it, the less you'll forget. Try to give yourself enough time to finish it. Take your time. Things you take off one side, place it on the sheet on that side. Have your parts diagram and follow the order. Then replace parts in reverse fashion. I was on pins and needles. I made notes in a journal as I took off the pins and needles, screws and float parts, everything looking and feeling a lot more delicate than I imagined. I took pictures as I progressed. Before I knew, I was finished. No left over parts except replaced ones. I installed the new carburetor and it worked great.

I took the grill apart in preparation for chroming. I ground off the shoulder rivets. Probably shouldn't have done that. Originally I thought some of the shutter bars were ok, but in the end, decided to have them all rechromed.The grille which had been chromed in 1971 and didn't look that bad, but it had ripples in it from an accident in 1964. Another story. I sent it in, too.

My longtime friends, Bill and Nancy, who moved to Seattle 30 years ago were visiting and he taunted me into pulling it out of the garage on its own power for a test run. I humored him because they visit infrequently.

Another visitor, now a successful engineer in Silicon Valley, whom Elaine and I sort of adopted since his own family was in India while he was attending school here, stopped by over Memorial Day. When I told him about taking the car out with Bill, Nelson wanted to go for a ride, too. "Let's do the Indy 500 around the patch of lawn below the house." With no fenders or doors, or hood or trunk lid, seats, she looked like a junkyard dog of a car, but we paraded around the neighborhood anyway. When I got to the bottom of the roundabout, I nudged the pedal and couln't believe the response. It was like Holy Cow, Nelson! We were laughing like crazy. The stripped down rod with a 356 engine had awesome power. Nelson looked a little panic and was glad to get back to the garage.

I won't be doing it this year because I pulled my steering column out to prep and paint it that brown color. But in 2 years past, I pulled the car out in the driveway by the front door on Halloween night. I dressed up in one of the kids' graduation gowns, some boney gloves, a mask from the crypt and a pirate's hat. I sat out there very still. When the trick-or-treaters came to the door and no one answered, they would cautiously approach the car...a halloween display. Then I would speak in a strange ghostly voice..."Do you know the way to I-5?" "I took a wrong turn and now I can't get back to the cemetery." I gave them their candy and had a camera with me and asked the parents accompanying the kids to take a picture. I have a bunch of great photos...not to give anybody else any ideas of what do to do if your car isn't quite finished.

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