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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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I sent the Duchess to a DIY place near by, but wasn't able to devote my entire Saturdays to going there, which was about the only way to make it worthwhile. I went several times over a couple of years, but couldn't seem to accomplish much myself. I used the paint booth and a small sand-blasting box.

I couldn't decide whether to add the trunk rack or not. The 40s are really 30s cars. A trunk rack doesn't look out of place, but I wonder how many trunk racks were sold with 1940 models. A question for Jim Hollingsworth no doubt. It comes down to value. A trunk rack helps to sell. I'm going to keep it for now but not put it on the car right away. I primed it there. The parts have been chromed.

In the end, I paid the owner to work on removing and replacing the rusted areas with new metal and parts, which involved welding.

The trunk was rusted through on the sides towards the back where the brackets to the frame are located. The rear end of the body was pretty loose from the frame. When the frame moved up and down, it stretched the holes in the body where the bumper brackets come out, so that was something else to fix. The floor of the trunk had been replaced in 1971, but just the center section. Once we poked around in there, it was a mess. It's fixed now and solid as a rock with new brackets to the frame and body work done. That was last year. This summer I learned about the trunk pans from Classic 2 Current Fabrication. I sent the dimensions to see if the 120 pans fit the 160s. I've heard they do, but they couldn't confirm and I guess the dimensions I sent were inconclusive because they only offered to make one. The pans do not include the supports etc, so I think it would come down to cosmetics you wouldn't see and structurally it is sound. But I do wish I'd known about the pans and whether they fit the 160s.

When that work was completed, I had her moved to a wood shop, where the wooden box for the convertible top was being made, but hadn't been fitted to the car. I talked to a restorer, but other projects delayed starting on my car. The wood shop was part of a tech shop where collaborative craftspeople in metal and wood materials share a building, teach classes, work on projects. It just wasn't financially able to cover costs, so I got a call that everything had to be moved out and to collect my car.

So the Duchess came home and my dream of driving to my 50th high school reunion ended. I went to the reunion and others asked after the car and seemed pleased that I still owned it. So it became not as much of a disappointment. I was disgruntled for a month.

The first restorer I talked to, didn't return my emails or calls. I started reading back issues of The Cormorant and PI magazines I had only flipped through. I actually read each one cover to cover from 2000 forward. I read about Tom Moretti who restores his own cars and wins at Pebble Beach. It was like reading The Lives of the Saints for me. I finally decided to blame no one but myself for the car not being finished. I wasn't much of a project manager. That's when I decided to work on the Duchess every evening I had free, right at home.

I bought a gun for small parts and a compressor. I bought some primer and I was off to the races.

I had taken one side of the top apart and sent the parts for chroming. They were finished, $500 worth, so I started cleaning the painted parts. In the 70s, when this interior top chrome was pitted and pocked, I rubbed it with steel wool and painted it black by hand. It looked a lot better. I was on a roll, so I painted the rest of the parts black as well. So now I had the pleasure of removing all that paint with paint strip and wire brushes.

I couldn't find a formula for the brownish color used for so many parts on the inside of the car. The only part I had left with that color was the steering column. Since it had to be painted, too, I pulled it out of the car. I'm sure there were a few smirks when I hefted up on the counter at the industrial paint store. Like the times, just for laffs, I used to fly with a horse shoe in my carry-on. "Gladys, Come over here and take a look at this in the monitor. Could that be considered a weapon?" "On the hind hooves of a mule it might be." I'd say out loud, "That horse shoe has to fly with me for good luck on the entire flight." They used to let me take it, like a security blanket, but the TSA finally got their act together and now I don't even try. Anyway they matched the color to my satisfaction.

I primed and filled and sanded and primed and sanded and painted. Then I drilled holes in the tongues that protrude forward from the wooden box, mounted the bracket, and started attaching parts skyward. Gee, I look at those restored parts and am very proud. I finally understood the other part of this hobby and how satisfying it can be.

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Posted on: 2010/11/4 16:58
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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Recently an astute observer or air cleaners pointed out a difference in those used with 356 Super 8 engines between 1940 and 1950 that I would characterize as esoteric, but I know that the wrong air cleaner would instantly draw attention to those in the know, as much as a misspelled word in a brochure or sign.

I'm not as knowledgeable, until I get close up and personal with, say, a bolt that doesn't quite fit. I don't deny that I could be the culprit here, replacing an original part back in the day just to keep the car running, but others (repair people and mechanics) have also replaced original parts with reasonable facsimiles which I've encountered when restoring a particular item.

Also you can order reproduction parts, which I've done, that appear to be perfect replacements to the untrained, unfocused eye. You take the word of "experts," who are sometimes only expert sales people.

A case in point in the 1940 center chrome strip which can be replaced by a reproduction stainless steel strip. Rather than rechrome my original, which had a few pits, I decided to replace it, the same as I'd done with the belt moulding. Rechroming the pitted belt strips would cost maybe $1200, versus a stainless steel set for about $600 that I would only have to polish.

But I noticed some differences in prepping this center bonnet strip.

1. The lips weren't wide enough to retain the original 1/4" washers. The original strip has much wider lips, as you can see in the photo. Ok, get 5/16" washers.

2. The width of the strip itself is too narrow for 5/16" washers.

This combo required getting the larger washers, but filing opposite sides of each to make them fit. Finding a solution and making it work, that's a joyful thing...and what the hobby is all about, right? Working around a problem?

3. Then I noticed that the end of the replacement strip doesn't have an elongated taper like the original, but a sort of bulbous end more typical of a 50s GMC pickup (no hate letters, please) than a classic Super 8.

4. When I slipped it over the tail of the Goddess of Speed (not to sound too snobbish, but it is The Flying Lady or Goddess of Speed, not The Donut Chaser...The Donut Chaser, that's like calling San Francisco Frisco. Which reminds me of when I was in college and could get a normally priced haircut at the real Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. To save parking on Nob Hill, where, besides the cost, the garage jockeys always got it stuck in first gear (I know about the soft versus hard metal changeover from 39 to 40), I used to pull in the lot of the Pacific Union Club across the street, where even the parking lot attendant is 4th generation San Francisco, and leave the Duchess there. But one time when I returned, the elderly attendant approached me and informed me that the parking lot was private, exclusively for the use of (very wealthy) members. He said normally he has non-member cars towed. He said it didn't matter, big Lincoln or Cadillac. To him, they were just a bunch of Deez-Dem-and-Dozers parking where they shouldn't. But he said a fine automobile like mine had to belong to someone who respected others' property and had just made a mistake. And learned from their mistakes.)...Deez-Dem-and-Dozers aside, when I slipped the stainless replacement on, it didn't quite match up. The original strip has a crease down the center that the replacement doesn't, yet another subtle difference that helps to make a car look like it races the wind, instead of galumphs.

So now I think I'll have my original strip chromed. Otherwise that rounded, thin-lipped replacement will catch my eye every time like an incorrect air cleaner. Regardless, I'll now be noting who replaced their center strip with something that falls short of the mark and who restored their original one. All this because I'm becoming like a born-again Christian or a reformed smoker. Intolerant.

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Posted on: 2010/11/9 20:20
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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West Peterson
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If you're a stickler for authenticity, the air cleaner looks to be correct for a 1941-47 models. Also, your license plate light lens looks to be for a 1939. I was told that the 1940 lenses shouldn't say "PACKARD" on it.

Perhaps Jim Hollingsworth would know why, but I have seen two types of trunk handles used on 1940 Packards (too many cases to assume one is correct and one isn't). Your car seems to have the type that I more often associate with the 1941-42 models, as opposed to a "T" handle. My car is a very, very late car (highest serial number known in its body style), and it has a "T" handle, so it doesn't seem like it's a case where they started using the newer handle at the end of the run. It might have something to do with the car originally being fitted with a trunk rack or not.???

In regards to your dilemma of using or not using the trunk rack, does that mean you have two different sets of bumper brackets as well? Cars without trunk racks had much shorter (at least 6 inches) bumper brackets so the bumper didn't stick so far out the back.

It is my opinion (for whatever that's worth) the car looks much more attractive with the luggage rack on. Usually I don't care for a lot of accessories, but I do like the trunk rack. And more surprising, I think the added optional "bumper" on top of the trunk rack looks good, too.

Posted on: 2010/11/10 9:10
West Peterson
1930 Packard Speedster Eight Runabout (boattail)
1940 Packard 1808 w/Factory Air
1947 Chrysler Town and Country sedan
1970 Camaro RS


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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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Thanks, West.
I know pretty much what is original and what is not on my car, but whether some of the non-original items are correct is sometimes a question.

I started to enter some info about a chrome strip I purchased and its faithfulness as a reproduction, something I discovered a week ago, but my ride arrived, so I didn't finish. Will do today.

My car is an early car C500324, sold on Aug 20 1939 by Earle C Anthony SFO to Oscar Kennedy Cushing. The trunk handle is original. I bought the trunk rack in 1971 or so. It arrived in a ball, literally, from of all places, Texas. I had it straightened and the pieces chromed. It had no moulding, but everything else. I bought the license light later. I do have 2 sets of bumper brackets and rubber grommets, one for with rack and one for without. Also the shield emblem. That's out for chrome.

My engine is out of a 50 custom 8. In 1966 the block cracked and I replaced it with an engine from a 1940 120. In the 70s, my friend Vaughn Hickman, a teacher who taught his kids how to spot a Packard and report back, verified that a car found in a backyard field here was indeed a Packard and called me. Another Packard guy wanted the rest of the car. I had the 356 engine rebuilt. This is the engine I will use to do my driving. I bought another 1940 engine which could be sold with the car in the "some day" to someone who considers that important in valuing the car. I think the aircleaner came from that Custom 8, but not sure. It was not on my car. When I first got it it had a funky aircleaner on it with no air chamber. I painted it red. It's long gone.

As mentioned, I don't have strips and they are expensive, esp that top one. Also the bumper itself. My bumper doesn't have the extra set of holes for the guards. So for now, I'll keep it. I'm sure the expense for these items will seem insignificant after the car is done draining my tank for paint and upholstery.

Thanks, West, I appreciate your interest and value your advice after reading several of your posts.

Posted on: 2010/11/10 11:19
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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HEADLIGHT RIMS - Soaking in Gas and then oil buckled up the rubber and it slid out in sections several inches long. More in the next post on this.

STEERING COLUMN and GEAR SHIFT - Picture pretty much speak for themselves. The gear shift knob came off easily without damage using this rubber gripping tool. Everything removed was cleaned up and made ready for priming.

I also opened the steering box, cleaned all the grease off and made a new gasket for the lid, so it can be primed as well.

Everything came apart without incident.

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Posted on: 2010/11/24 12:32
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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HEADLIGHT RIMS Continued- The tool from Steele Rubber to open the lip of the rims that holds the rubber gasket around the headlights worked well after I got the hang of it.

First I opened the lip enough to get the tool in it using a tack puller.

Then I set the rim on edge and pressed the end of the tool into the lip. I finally figured out that a cranking motion worked well, in a cone shape with the apex at the end of the tool. I put on heavier gloves and my wrists could only take to much. But after about 45 minutes I had both rims opened all the way.

Then I cleaned them up using a wire wheel, sandpaper, and a light file where there was rust on the outside. I'm convinced that if headlight rims on a model 30 or 40 years newer were in this condition, the metal wouldn't be there after the rust was removed.

So now some rust mort, some glazing putty, and primer.

This looked like an impossible job. Of course, I still need some kind of crimping tool to close up the li around new rubber, which I'm guessing I should put in after the priming and sanding si done, but before the final paint job.

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Posted on: 2010/11/26 23:33
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The Duchess Project: Sugarplum Dreams
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Joe Santana
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I will sleep good tonight.

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Posted on: 2010/11/27 0:54
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Re: The Duchess Project: Sugarplum Dreams
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Posted on: 2010/11/27 1:16

Bowral, Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia
"Out of chaos comes order" - Nietzsche.

1938 Eight Touring Sedan - SOLD

1941 One-Twenty Club Coupe - SOLD

1948 Super Eight Limo, chassis RHD - SOLD

1950 Eight Touring Sedan - SOLD

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Any questions - PM or email me at ozstatman@gmail.com
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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Joe Santana
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On the HEADLIGHT RIMS, the saga continues. At the risk of making the same mistake your mother-in-law made sitting on the edge of your wife's bed the night before you were married and making a damn fool of herself, I will share my own experience. The tool I used, or the way I used it, put ripples in the lifted rim edge that holds the rubber gasket. I used a chisel and hammer to straighten it, then test-popped the rubber in, you have to stretch it a bit. I didn't seal the rubber under the lip yet. More painting needs to be done, but I don't think I want to hammer that lip over the rubber after the final paint is on, even gently.

The STEERING and SHIFT COLUMNS are cleaned, painted and assembled. Now I just have to figure out how to get the whole thing back in the Duchess. I haven't tried putting the steering case through the floorboard hole for the brake and clutch pedals. It's that or remove the shift lever and put the column up from below. I can't remember how I pulled it out. I have to wait til I get some help, or I'll scratch my beautiful paint job.

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Posted on: 2010/12/10 14:39
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Re: The Duchess Project: 1940 Super 8 Convertible Sedan
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I guess it could be either choice. Assy photos of various year cars on the line show it coming from the bottom minus the lever --of course, the body is coming down on it-- yet the instructions for removing the steering gear box have you disconnect the lower end & linkages and pull it out the top in the condition you have it now.

Posted on: 2010/12/10 15:02
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