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JoyMC
04-11-2011, 02:27 AM
so, i know NOTHING about cars. my five year old asked me how gasoline makes the car go and i had no idea what to tell her.

so feel free to talk to me like i'm a five year old.

i'm working on a middle grade story in which Grandpa was a real car expert - maybe even an actual mechanic by profession, or just a hobby, not sure yet - and he was working on rebuilding something cool. but he dies before he can finish. so Grandma and Granddaughter decide to keep working on it. so first:

1) what would be a really cool old car a real aficionado might be rebuilding for fun? and, if you can give a specific suggestion, could you say why that car would be particularly fun/challenging/interesting to rebuild?

2) and then, obviously, i have no idea where to even start researching what they're actually doing. thankfully, i think this action only takes place at one point in the story, so i only need to know the particulars of one hour or so worth of car rebuilding. AND thankfully, Grandma and Granddaughter are totally ignorant, too. but can you suggest something they might be trying to figure out? - i'm thinking it should be engine-related, and not, like, replacing windshield wipers.

3) and/or if there's anyone who wouldn't mind looking at a couple pages when i get them written (i'm still outlining; it'll be at least a few weeks) just to tell me if i'm getting the car stuff right, let me know.

thanks!!!

alleycat
04-11-2011, 02:32 AM
1) An old Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvette that grandpa found in a barn. How old was grandpa? It might be fun to use a car from when grandpa was a young man or in college.

2) Do you really need them to rebuild the car? They could be mostly doing cosmetic work and replacing things like belts and hoses. In older cars, the points and plugs have to be replaced more often than on new cars with electronic ignition. Sometimes they can be a bear to reach and get out (says a guy who once owned a 1967 Chevy Camaro).

WriteKnight
04-11-2011, 02:40 AM
Funny. Just today, one of my facebook friends, posted a pic of her father's old Caddy - sitting in the weeds up in Tennesse. Wants to get it down to Texas to rebuilt for/with her daughter (grand daughter to the now deceased father) - So it's an entirely realistic scenario!

Antique and Vintage being relative terms in the car world. I think anything older than twenty years is 'vintage' and anything older than fifty is 'antique' - could be wrong though.

Alleycat is right - Might want to figure out when the grandfather was a teenager. Was it the fifties? Sixties? Muscle cars were popular - Mustangs, Corvette's, GTOs. OR he could have loved classic cars when he was a teen - and been restoring one from the 30's or 40's.

When was grandpa born?

You can start here - for some hard info and video clips. Might inspire you.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2049383_restore-muscle-car.html

jaksen
04-11-2011, 03:38 AM
1) An old Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvette that grandpa found in a barn. How old was grandpa? It might be fun to use a car from when grandpa was a young man or in college.

2) Do you really need them to rebuild the car? They could be mostly doing cosmetic work and replacing things like belts and hoses. In older cars, the points and plugs have to be replaced more often than on new cars with electronic ignition. Sometimes they can be a bear to reach and get out (says a guy who once owned a 1967 Chevy Camaro).


We had a cream beige Chevy Camaro, 8 cylinder (I forget the year, late 60's, and it had the flat window in back, not the wrap-around. I'm too lazy as I write this to ask my husband the year.) But omg did it move. Couldn't pull up to a light or stop sign without the kids in the car next to us wanting to race.

To the questioner: I'd take it one step at a time. Grandma gets the car painted and feels that'll be enough, but noooo...

Little girl wants more. So every time Grandma makes one repair or change it leads to another and another, and by the time Granny is done, she's pretty much an expert on this model car.

alleycat
04-11-2011, 03:54 AM
A couple of other things to keep in mind. Cars were simpler prior to the late seventies, especially if the car didn't have air conditioning. Picking a popular domestic car from some time in the 50s or 60s that is still in reasonable shape would simplify the storyline (for example, a 1957 Chevrolet). Restoring a wrecked 1922 Maxwell is probably beyond the capacity of the average person.

whacko
04-11-2011, 03:57 AM
A Cord 812 is the car you seek - a 30s machine with pop-up headlights. Worth a fortune now.

But you don't call cars antiques. In the UK, maybe different in the US, cars are either veteran, Edwardian, vintage or classic... or just old if they don't fall into the criteria!

Veteran is cars made before 1905. Google London to Brighton car run for examples.

Edwardian is 1906 to 1918.

Vintage is 1919 to about 1930, when the coachbuilders started to die out, but as the car world is really snobby a Bugatti Royale from 1933 would be accepted as Vintage.

And classic cars are the old mass produced jobs we know and love so well. That would be the Mustangs and Chevys, Porsches Jags and the like.

Regards

Whacko

JoyMC
04-11-2011, 05:24 AM
great, thanks!! tons of great info here.

Grandpa was probably a teenager in the late 50's/early 60's.

i know that it isn't realistic for two amateurs to put together an entire car. but i'm thinking something along the lines of a large engine part sitting on the garage floor next to the car and Grandpa never had time to put it in. Grandma and Granddaughter have to figure out how to install it. what might that be?

alleycat
04-11-2011, 05:29 AM
i know that it isn't realistic for two amateurs to put together an entire car. but i'm thinking something along the lines of a large engine part sitting on the garage floor next to the car and Grandpa never had time to put it in. Grandma and Granddaughter have to figure out how to install it. what might that be?
You could have the whole engine sitting there. Maybe grandpa took it out to rebuild it, got that done, but then died before he could put it back.

Or you could have it be the carburetor and manifold.

Tepelus
04-11-2011, 05:42 AM
My boyfriend is big into Mopar, and has a '69 Dodge Dart that he rebuilt into a muscle car for going down the dragstrip and for cruising around. Someday I would like to find a Dodge Demon (and the color must be Plum Crazy), not to have it souped up, but just as a cruiser, though I think the boyfriend will think it'll need a bigger motor. He knows a lot about Mopar (he pretty much totally rebuilt his car), and knows general things about Ford and Chevrolet. As for me, I don't know a whole heck of a lot about them.

thothguard51
04-11-2011, 05:48 AM
Get a 68 Dodge Superbee... One hell of a car.

WriteKnight
04-11-2011, 06:31 AM
Might I recommend the 57 Chevy Bel-lair - perhaps the convertible?

http://www.superchevy.com/features/trifive/0607sc_1957_chevy_bel_air/photo_02.html

The Bel Air was a classic 'cruiser' of the fifties - could easily have been a 'family car' that Grandpa had his first date in. They could be souped up and turned into some nice hot rods - and you very often see them at classic car shows nowadays - so there is a good chance a reader might have seen or is likely to see one. Not too flashy, still find parts for it, cleans up real nice.

"A tail fin road locomotive, from the days of cheap gasoline..." - David Wilcox

(A waterpump is a bit of work to put on, but not impossible for some novice mechanics. Lord knows it was one of the first things I had to replace on a car. And it won't run without one.)

MeretSeger
04-11-2011, 09:01 AM
Car to work on: 1965 Ford Fairlane. Why? I'm in the middle of one right now. Darn car. Except for mine, Fords are easy to fix and it is totally believable that novices can work on one.

What to work on: rebuild the carburetor. Make it a big 4 barrel Holley. Go nuts. Should take about an hour. Instructions are online as well as video tutorials. Or just try to get it started after being in a barn. Drain the fluids, pull the plugs, drop some Marvel's Mystery oil in the cylinders. They can have a printed checklist, like me. Have I mentioned, darn car?

Make sure one of them gives it a swift kick in the course of the tale ;)

Hallen
04-11-2011, 09:26 PM
Give it a big brush treatment with a few salient details to make it believable. If you go into it too deep, people that know will know you know nothing. :)

The trick to doing mechanical work is to know the tricks and have the right tools. Everything is easier when you know the tricks. There are wonderful manuals available but they all expect you to know something about basic mechanical work. When you see a torque spec of 70-90 Ft/lbs + 35, and you don't know what that is, you'll be in trouble. Car forums are a great place for a character to get help. There's a forum out there for all kinds of cars and the members are usually really helpful and really knowledgeable. They can help you with the "tricks". Also, they often publish step by step how-to's that can be a huge help.

Rebuilding a carburetor is not for the novice, in my opinion. It's detailed work with strange little things that are easy to loose. I'd go with the Chevy Bel-lair as mentioned above. Petty simple and lots of people to help you with some details. I'd write in a mechanic friend who comes over to give them some tips.

There's the mechanical work, drivetrain and body work, and then there's the interior restoration and painting. Just bolting things together is not too bad. But having to do any interior engine work or transmission work should be avoided by beginners unless they have some guidance. It isn't that it's hard to do, it's because it's hard to do right.

Anyway, to sound believable, you're going to need to do some research. Pick a car and find a forum (or find a good forum and use that car). Pull details out of the how-to's and incorporate them into the story. That's my advice.

Snowstorm
04-11-2011, 10:04 PM
Duesenberg, nothing else would compare.


True, as long as the buyer has an easy million dollars+ laying around to purchase one.

To the OP: Do you know which antique car your grandpa in your story has? I recommend a Model A, since it's easy to learn to "work" so you can get your story right. It's a common enough car that most every can identify it, yet rare enough there's great joy in seeing one. (I did a ground-up restoration on a '27 Sport Coupe and have a huge soft spot in my heart for it.) There's a lot of information out there that you can find for information and authenticity for your story.

Snowstorm
04-11-2011, 10:06 PM
If you're interested in a problem that the grandparents need to figure out, I have one that would fit a vehicle with a gravity-fed gas tank (like the Model As had).

Wicked
04-11-2011, 10:25 PM
I second the vote for Model A.

You would also have your choice of the sporty little coupe with the rumbleseat, like this one.
http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/6425/modelarh9.jpg

Or a four door sedan with suicide doors. (picture to follow if I can find the photo album)


Speaking as a child who grew up being drug from one car club meeting, car show, parade, and tour to another, I've always heard the terms "antique car" or "historical automobile" used in casual conversation when discussing cars older than 1950.

When you say rebuild, do you mean starting with a rusty car body found in some field, or one that was previously restored, and just needs cosmetic and under the hood restoration?

There are a lot of magazines and web sites devoted to car restoration and parts. You just need to figure out which type of car you are looking for. Good luck. There are way too many to choose from. :D

MeretSeger
04-12-2011, 12:55 AM
Give it a big brush treatment with a few salient details to make it believable. If you go into it too deep, people that know will know you know nothing. :)

The trick to doing mechanical work is to know the tricks and have the right tools. Everything is easier when you know the tricks. There are wonderful manuals available but they all expect you to know something about basic mechanical work. When you see a torque spec of 70-90 Ft/lbs + 35, and you don't know what that is, you'll be in trouble. Car forums are a great place for a character to get help. There's a forum out there for all kinds of cars and the members are usually really helpful and really knowledgeable. They can help you with the "tricks". Also, they often publish step by step how-to's that can be a huge help.

Rebuilding a carburetor is not for the novice, in my opinion. It's detailed work with strange little things that are easy to loose. I'd go with the Chevy Bel-lair as mentioned above. Petty simple and lots of people to help you with some details. I'd write in a mechanic friend who comes over to give them some tips.

There's the mechanical work, drivetrain and body work, and then there's the interior restoration and painting. Just bolting things together is not too bad. But having to do any interior engine work or transmission work should be avoided by beginners unless they have some guidance. It isn't that it's hard to do, it's because it's hard to do right.

Anyway, to sound believable, you're going to need to do some research. Pick a car and find a forum (or find a good forum and use that car). Pull details out of the how-to's and incorporate them into the story. That's my advice.

+2 on the brushing over! and having a mechanic friend. That way, if the OP gets advice, you can have that same advice come from your character and it won't seem like anyone got an epiphany. I still think the carb is perfect because grandmas tend to do crafts, and they use those plastic trays with all the recesses. It is a good fiddly thing and they could talk over the project rather than swear. However, it might be too intimidating in concept I guess...I no longer have that initial fear of messing up a car.

Royal Mercury
04-12-2011, 03:31 PM
Get your self to a car show. Not something like the Seattle Auto Show, but one where they restore and enjoy cars like the Greenwood Car Show (http://www.greenwoodcarshow.com/) The site has some good pictures. This is where the kind of people you want to portray, hang out. In spring, summer and fall, you can usually find them on a weekly or monthly basis. Probably close to where you live.

In addition to getting the car-information you need, you may get yourself a car-expert for free, and most importantly, you'll get to know car-guys, and see the world through their eyes. They are a breed apart, and meeting them will be what you need.

You can find stuff like this on the web, in the local weekly arts papers or even the daily paper. Or when you see someone with a nice classic car, ask them.

From the people I've met, many of the cars they choose have important associations in their youth. Some choose odd cars just for the challenge; one fellow I knew had a Jowett Jupiter. Corvette lovers are a breed apart and tend to hang out together. You wouldn't believe the prices they get for an old VW Van in good shape.

A lot of your grandpa's car choice might depend on his budget. So, get to know grandpa, and he'll tell you about his car or cars. I used to have an old Falcon wagon with bucket seats and faux wood sides that I got for $800. But the important thing is the his love for his car. You need to go to a car show. It will tell you more than we can.

I used to go to the Palm Springs Cruise-In (http://www.palmspringscruisinassociation.com/monthly%20cruise%20night.htm) monthly shows. I knew a lot of the people, so it was cool to see their cars. The website has a lot of member cars which may help you choose.

movieman
04-13-2011, 11:07 PM
True, as long as the buyer has an easy million dollars+ laying around to purchase one.

I don't know about America, but in the UK it wasn't uncommon for people to have old cars in their barns that they'd bought many years ago when they had essentially no value, never had the time to fix up, and which were then discovered to be highly valuable today. So Grandpa might have a car stashed away that he paid $5 for when it was just a rattly old car the owner tired of and is now worth far more.

MeretSeger
04-14-2011, 03:21 AM
I don't know about America, but in the UK it wasn't uncommon for people to have old cars in their barns that they'd bought many years ago when they had essentially no value, never had the time to fix up, and which were then discovered to be highly valuable today. So Grandpa might have a car stashed away that he paid $5 for when it was just a rattly old car the owner tired of and is now worth far more.

Yeppers, pretty common. Well, we all dream. They are called barn-finds. The LOL around the corner from me has 2 Mustangs that have been in there for a couple of decades.

Snowstorm
04-14-2011, 03:25 AM
I don't know about America, but in the UK it wasn't uncommon for people to have old cars in their barns that they'd bought many years ago when they had essentially no value, never had the time to fix up, and which were then discovered to be highly valuable today. So Grandpa might have a car stashed away that he paid $5 for when it was just a rattly old car the owner tired of and is now worth far more.

Quite right. But a "Doozie", what a find that would be!