Monday, August 17, 2009

My 1938 Plymouth - Guest Blogger Mel Olney


My 1938 Plymouth “Business coup” reflects a lot of my life during and after World War II.

I purchased it from people selling it after their son had not returned from the war. I believe it was three hundred fifty dollars.

At that time I was still working for Price Evans, his farm south of Utica NY near State Route 20, the main route across state prior to the Thruway.

I only qualified for an “A” gas ration card which meant not a lot of driving. Later on it meant no good tires as well.

I had moved from Mr. Evan's farm to a farm owned by an attorney in North Tonawanda, NY. So little driving, I had opted not even to get antifreeze, filling up the radiator from a hose near the milk house, and draining the radiator and engine block just before driving on into the shed where I had a place to keep it inside.

Unfortunately, after one such episode sediment had blocked the petcock on the side of the engine and when it froze a quite large crack occurred on the outside of the engine!

I forced fine steel wool into the crack, spread some sort of metallic putty over it all, then put some sort of liquid “radiator sealer” in, started it up and after some slight seeps showed up it held!!

Held long enough that we drove it till the standard request at the gas pump was “put in a dollars worth and a quart of oil!”

Unable to afford a better one, and not many good used cars available at any reasonable price we opted to have a new 1946 Dodge engine installed. The original Plymouth engine had been rated at thirty eight horsepower. The new Dodge had fifty! So we had a “hot-rod” to play with!! And still that beat up right front fender.

Quite a while later the 1946 engine developed a quirk. It would start perfectly when cold, but would not start when warm. The only way to be sure of getting back home was to leave the engine idling and hope it didn't stall.

The car spent quite a bit of time in the Dodge / Plymouth dealer's service area as they were trying to “fix” it but could not find the problem. That same mechanic later on bought it from us (the dealer didn't even want it as a trade in on a newer model Dodge). He told us later on he never did “cure it” of the problem!

Thanks Dad! Great story. I picked the pictures from the web, so if they are wrong, it is my fault. There was a picture showing the original, with the damaged fender story a couple of days ago ..... here.


The Daily Rant said...

I like your fix for the crack in the engine - if only that worked today! I remember my grandfather working on his cars...and even when he got to the point when he didn't work on his own vehicles, whenever he had something replaced, he would tell the mechanic shop to put the old part in a cardboard box in the trunk of his car....he wanted to make SURE they didn't TELL him it was fixed without actually fixing/replacing it!

Thanks Mr. Olney for the story!

Anne said...

And, in the next generation, that steel-wool-and-putty impulse manifested itself in Dave, who we used to refer to as the pop-rivet-and-Bondo King....