Throughout the several months of writing this article, I touched on several main subjects and offered names, phone numbers, sources for a variety of Woody products.
As you probably know, there are a multitude of other parts and pieces which I did not cover; yet they too are important to go unmentioned. So as a “catchall”, the following information is very helpful but did not fall directly into any one of the categories previously mentioned.
For steering wheel restoration try Larry Tiner at “Just Steering Wheels” (888) 569-5610, he is excellent, fair and can do the chrome paint and repair all cracks. He is located in Texas, and lead times can be as much as 8-10 weeks.
For original shock rebuilding, UPS your shocks to Five Points in Santa Ana, California at (714) 979-0451. They do nice work; expect to pay about $115 each for a complete rebuild and repaint. The staff is knowledgeable and receives about 100 shocks a day via UPS.
For original leaf spring sheet metal wraps call Dan Schwartz in Northern California. He will wrap both leaf spring sets for about $400-500 plus shipping. The key here is to retain the 4 grease fittings on your old wraps as they are just not available. Cut them out for your old wraps leaving about 2″ of old wrap around the fittings. Do not try to pry them out of the old metal wrap, send them still in the old metal wrap to Dan and he will remove them for you. These fittings are only critical if you are doing a concourse restoration, otherwise they are not required. Call Dan at (916) 962-3521, one of the nicest fellas in the automobile game.
For original rain gutters for your woody, call Duane Lukow at (503)761-9411. Duane makes very good quality reproduction rain gutters. He makes the two sides and the front trim piece for about $1,000.00. You’ll have to buy the rubber inserts from Ed Clarke in New York.
For rear handle lock keying and key matching, call Hill’s Brothers Lock and Safe at (714) 636 5652. They can remove a lock cylinder from one handle and place it in another, they can re-key as needed. Jay Nordgren gave me the name of this place and I have used them 6 times with excellent and they are reasonable in price.
For all of your upholstery needs including the top for your woody, I recommend Nick Alexander Restoration in Los Angeles. They do it all and of the absolute finest quality. Call Leonardo at (323) 582-7441. They will sand blast the frames, paint them, and install original padding and leather in a short turn around time of less than 4 weeks. Cost is $3,500.00-$5,000 depending on the material.
For woody rear tailgate springs and a whole lot of other cool parts, call Bob Johnson at (415) 332-5238. Bob has had the springs remade and they are perfect, he also has his hand on the pulse of where to get many of the hard to find parts.
For correct motor paint in pints for every year which can be applied with a brush, call Por 15 Inc. at (800) 457-6715. They offer a full line of colors that are true and factory correct. Ask for their catalogue.
For 46-48 radios, contact “DBCUDA@Comcast.net” on the Internet. This fellow sells rebuilt radios on the net and is also a “Wealth of knowledge” on all vintage radios and speakers. Just e-mail him and I am sure he will help you with your needs.
For radiator rebuilds in Southern California, call Ricks Radiator Service in Azusa at (626) 967-7518. Rick did a beautiful job rebuilding my radiator and he preserved the original drain valve. An entirely new core and tank cleanup was $300.00 and in only 4 days.
In closing, it is my hope that many of you learned something from my many years of trial and error. For 30 years I have been refurbishing and rebuilding motorcycles and cars as a hobbyist and have developed some simple techniques for achieving satisfactory results in the restoration process. In no way is this article intended to discredit the professional woody restorers, their work is impeccable and worth every penny. These lessons and techniques are offered for those who have been bitten by the “Woody Bug” and wish to make their cars a little nicer themselves at their own pace and learn something new along the way.
If you learned something in this series of articles, my mission is complete and I have enjoyed the mission. If you need a certain bit of information or if you just want to send me a Hello via email, give it a shot at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear that you enjoyed the series. By the way, my day job consists of owning and managing an Industrial Freezer Construction business located in Walnut, California. If any of you need a 100,000 S.F. -l0°F Freezer in your back yard, call me. If you want to have some real fun, visit ClarionConst.com and check out the “Events and Others” page on the site, there are several beautiful Woodies and old motorcycles in that section.
Finally, the following individuals provided me with valuable expertise assisted in the assembly, or helped in my personal search for parts for my 46′ Mercury and I wish to extend my thanks to each of them.
Thanks to all of you for your help, it has been a great experience. The final photos of the finished car will follow in a future issue.
It has been about a year since the last published article on the “Restoration of a 1946 Mercury”, but the car is finally complete and here is the final write up.
After 3 years and 6 months, the 46 Mercury is finally finished. The wooden body, hand fabricated by Ron Hieden, is a work of art. I had asked Ron to add some red pigment to the varnish to give the car an aged look. That combined with dark stain on the mahogany panels, dramatically hit the mark. Ron took about 6 months for his work and then the car visited Nick Alexander’s Restoration Shop where Tim, Jaime and Leonardo all pitched in for many of the final touches. A new top and cowl lace, wiring of the car, installing the heater and dashboard, setting the front clip and hood, as well as pin-striping the 5 wheels, these guys can literally do it all and perfectly. Once home, I added the last of the chrome and touched up all of the scratches which ordinarily happen during this type of assembly. I painted the interior screws, where required, just as they did when the Mercury was originally assembled. I spent about 3 weeks aligning several parts and fenders, installed the remaining stainless trims and installed the final interior pieces. And then, all at once, the huge sea of parts and components which were laid out on sheets in my garage for years, were suddenly gone. The car I took apart with a blow torch and had slowly reassembled with parts from San Diego to New Jersey, was ready to drive. It was an emotional moment for me standing there alone in my garage staring at the car that had kicked my butt for 3½ years. So many busted knuckles, so many cuts on my fingers, so many hours invested in the paint. I’m telling you it was an ESPN moment, but there was no one around to share it with.
So, I put my cell phone in my pocket, (expecting to have to call home for a ride back), got in the car, turned the key, and she fired right up. Very quiet and smooth, it idles like brand new. I drove the car around the neighborhood for 20 minutes and now I know why they sold so many Fords and Mercs, it is sincerely a joy to drive. Smooth and easy is how I would describe it, smooth shifting, good stopping, the car worked perfectly and I didn’t have to call the wife to come and pick me up. It was wonderful!
The project has been three times more work than I had ever anticipated. Mostly because I elected to do the paint work myself. As an amateur it just takes forever to accomplish what a pro does in one week. But I wanted to attempt one concourse restoration and it’s finally done. I would like to thank my son Brad for helping me with the car along with all of those 50+ members who sold me parts, educated me along the way, or just helped put the car together, you fellas are the best. My daughter Ashley entered college when I originally bought the car 3½, years ago, she is now graduating soon with her Nursing degree. My wife said to me way back when, that if I was going to spend next 3 years working on a car, she was going back for her Masters. She will be finished with that in June.
As for me, I have some maintenance to do on the other two cars, and I’m restoring a 1972 Monark motocross bike. I also hope to get in a little more golf.
Thanks again to all of those who helped.