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The Restoration Posts

Two Restoration Projects

February 27, 2019 • jdonahue

The first is my own, a 1951 Chevrolet 2 ton truck. The motor runs, but it needs all new brake lines, conversion to 12 volt, the frame sandblasted and painted, the body painted, and some window glass. One of the big delays in painting it has been the hood. It’s one of those can’t do this part until I first do that; can’t do that part until I do this other thing, and so on. Specifically, there are dings in the hood, I don’t want to fill those until the rusted braces have been fixed, don’t want to put the braces in place until I sand and repaint the inside of the hood.

Making replacement braces was the slow part, but they’re done, and the inside of the hood is painted an off black color. Now I can really move on finishing the body work and painting the truck. Forest Green, I think.1951_ChevroletThe other project is for a customer, it’s a cast iron and wood bench made for the Coca Cola company. I sandblasted the old paint off, then, in the picture below, I used a wire wheel on a 4 inch angle grider to polish away the sandblast texture. It still had a very rough sand cast texture, so I sprayed it with a heavy coat of automotive sandable primer. It’s an off the shelf product from O’Reiley’s Auto Parts. I’ve never used it before, but it’s the best spraying primer I’ve ever used. I REALLY liked the way it handled in the spray gun. What’s left is to see how ell it sands. It will be a problem if it’s too rubbery. Coca_Cola1Coca_Cola2

We Worked, We Talked . . .

February 24, 2019 • jdonahue

Today I got to spend some time with my two youngest sons. I looked at a “stuff to do with the kids” list I made a while back. It had a number of art or mural projects, but I wanted to do something different. Art is fine if you like it, and can sell it, but it’s not for everybody; and it’s not as practical as other skills.

I looked at the vacuum boost master cylinder from the 1951 Chevrolet truck that is in my last post about sandblasting, and realized we could work on it together. It’s difficult to remember, but a lot of projects you work on are good for working on together with the kids. I’ll repost the before and after pictures of it being sandblasted.sandblast_6sandblast_7Today, I wanted to take it apart, and see how much repair work it needed. I was told it likely had sitting water in the big air cylinder part, and rust pits in the metal. The first step was to deal with the four long bolts holding it together. They had been cleaned up pretty well where the blast operation hit them, but not on the other side. So I borrowed a tap and die set, and found the 5/16 fine thread die, often called a “thread chaser” I explained how it worked to the boys, and carefully worked it onto the old threads. then we turned it back and forth, while oiling the threads.

The conversation went a lot of places, and even ended up at Lincoln in the Civil War era. That might have happened after I discovered something interesting: lock washers that still had their spring in them. The truck is 68 years old, and it’s possible that this unit has been rebuilt or replaced in that time. But It’s probably at least 30 or 40 years old. These lock washers have been held flat for all those years, but when I loosened the nuts holding them down, they sprang open.

That to me is an amazing property of spring steel. Other old springs last a long time too. Old springs in guns last a long time. Even guns a hundred years old have good springs. Other types of steel will conform to the held shape after years in position. So here’s two pictures of the lock washers as they’re being loosened.51_Chevrolet MC151_Chevrolet_MC2 I finally got the housing off, and found this weird brown crumbly stuff inside. Sort of like sawdust with oil on it. the stuff would hold together is squeezed, and felt wet. But it burned, as seen in the picture with the mouse drawn arrow.51_Chevrolet_MC3 51_Chevrolet_MC4The good news was how clean and rust free the inside of the housing was. No need for a new part here.51_Chevrolet_MC5In the last picture, you can see more parts. Under the big spring are two plates that make up the piston. The lower one has fresh looking oil near the center, but the picture makes it look odd. The compression ring is some sort of felt or leather, soaked in oil. Anyway, it was a great rainy day project with the two boys. 51_Chevrolet_MC6

Testing a Sandblast Cabinet

February 22, 2019 • jdonahue

My son was given a sandblast cabinet that a shop no longer needed. It’s very nice, in two parts. One is the cabinet where the work is done, the other part is an air filter, which filters the air in the cabinet, so that there’s not a bunch of dust blown in the shop. It probably also helps with visibility in the cabinet.

It wasn’t being used, because it needed a couple parts. I needed it for a small job, so I got those parts. The job is a wood and cast iron bench that advertises Coca-Cola. sandblast_5I’ll hand letter it back to the original colors. There are three iron pieces; two sides, and a plaque that goes in the middle of the bench back. I’ll make a page about the whole process after it’s done.sandblast_9I have a 1951 Chevrolet truck; below is a picture of the vacuum boost unit for the brake system. I could have removed more rust, but the sandblast cabinet was having some problems, so I cut it short. I think it will clean up just fine.sandblast_6sandblast_7sandblast_8

New Directions

January 30, 2019 • jdonahue

I became an old school sign painter in the 1980’s. The sign trade has undergone major changes, and I’ve had to adapt as best I can, while trying to live withing certain parameters. One of those is to try and live without debt. I resisted computer made signs for a long time, but finally waded into those waters. I have preowned vinyl cutting plotters, but even those are outdated, For the most part, the trade has gone to wide format printing.

Think about how much faster it is to print an 18 inch by 24 inch real estate sign. All the lettering, colors, and logos are on one piece of vinyl; or printed directly onto the substrate. Man, that’s fast. So I figured that the printed method would be the last development for quite awhile, in terms of technology. I thought that it might be worthwhile going in debt to buy one, but that would be a $25000 or $50000 ticket. While I was very slowly contemplating it,. and interesting thing happened. People started selling printed signs online at very cheap prices. I’m SO GLAD I didn’t buy a machine.MG_hood

As it is, I do a few painted signs, but most of my work is painting equipment. Above is a recent painting job on an MG hood. The changes have left me in the position of being older, with no retirement. For years, I’ve had ideas of things I could make and sell, but was never sure how to get them to market. I’m also very interested in historic things. Once I changed my thinking to being a guy who sold things, regardless of who made them, my path became much clearer, and I really enjoy it.

So that’s what I’m doing, starting a new business. It’s called Quill & Blade Country Store and trading post. Much of my time lately has been to work on that project. You can see more at this site: Quill & Blade

I’ve been restoring some neat tools lately, I even fired up my coal fired forge over the weekend. I’ll post pictures as soon as I can. I also want to make videos about current religious and political events. Here’s a wintertime scene from an abrupt change in the weather.snow4

Fish Belly Frame

November 19, 2018 • jdonahue

I wrote before about the open air car for the Rambler Train in Knoxville.

It has a feature that’s different from all the other coaches I’ve seen. The Operations manager called it a “Fish Belly” frame, in the pictures you can see why. The other coaches have a frame that’s up under the car body, where you can’t see it. This one has a big I-beam sort of support, running the length of the car, right down the middle. It tapers up above the wheels, hence the name. What’s enjoyable for me was that I asked if I could paint it a dull silver color, to show this unique frame. The only connection I have with the company is as a paint contractor, so I have no real say in the look of things. Besides, it would make this coach different from the rest. But I got the OK, and man the black parts contrasted against the silver look nice.FISH_BELLY1_620fish_belly2_620

The Rambler Train gets a new open air car.

October 31, 2018 • jdonahue

The Three Rivers Rambler is a train you can ride in Knoxville Tennessee. Information on riding the train is HERE.

The new open air car was made from a recently purchased coach. It was completely remodeled. I did the painting and lettering. More information about the painting is HERE

Here’s a picture of it when it was nearly completed.Observat_2Observant_4.

Painted Red caboose

February 22, 2018 • jdonahue

I just painted a steel caboose; more can be seen at THIS PAGE


Experimental Walnut branch tool handle.

December 5, 2017 • jdonahue

It was one of those nights where one thing leads to another. I had a pile of nice steel cables that needed a temporary hanging place. I looked next to my workshop, and noticed the Walnut tree had a dead branch. So I sawed it off, leaving a stump to hang the cables on.

I noticed the branch had a nice little bit of heartwood, which I decided to make a sledge hammer handle from. I’ve used Walnut one other time, with good results. I couldn’t use the lathe this time because the branch wasn’t straight enough. So I removed the sapwood with a circular saw. Then i cleaned it up more with a four inch angle grinder that had a metal shaping attachment. It’s an odd looking thing, has all these little bits of metal or diamond welded to it. Man does it remove wood. I also used a flap disk and a bench sander.

it’s only a small six pound hammer, and I haven’t been able to test it yet, as I threw my back out again yesterday. That hasn’t happened in a couple years. I then hung the cables up. I saw experiment, because the branch did have a couple knots on one side, which I normally reject. But they’re only one side, and, it was supporting all the weight of the branch and leaves. That might make it a very sturdy handle.


Tool handle wedge idea.

November 27, 2017 • jdonahue

I finally found a fast way to make a great steel wedge for striking tool handles. More info at THIS PAGE.


Making 19th Century Paints

August 27, 2017 • jdonahue

This is a subject I’ve been interested in for years; I’m finally exploring it. HERE”S a page I made about it.Chef_LeVarneesh