Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Old Trucks in Advertising and Photos

Installment No. 2  COE Truck Projects...

Our love affair with old vehicles has roots that run generations deep.  The era of these amazing pieces of iron are replete with examples of ornamentation gone overboard, (nearly.)  The designs of nearly everything seemingly had an infatuation with the curved line.   There really is something quite special about a rounded fender with a bullet headlamp attached... or the vertical sweeping lines of a chrome grill. 

Nonetheless, the designers weren't the only ones who were proud of their vehicles back in the day.  The owners were proud of them too!  In fact, many companies used their vehicles as part of their advertising.  I have included some photos I've found on the internet... again, just google it and switch to images and you can probably find even more.  These photos and advertisers show just how special these vehicles were (are) and how much the owners recognized it as well.  They were branding themselves by including their vehicles in the advertising.  That way, when you saw one of these coming down the street, you would likely think of their product... and do on.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Projects (COE Truck)

Image result for coe trucks for sale    

Considering projects...

       I'm going to make a guess that better than 90% of the people who read this blog have either thought about, or performed an auto restoration.  If not, then maybe you have known someone who has talked about it or even actually restored an old car, truck, van, or even some other mode of transport.  Lord knows, I've given it more than just a passing thought.  One of my favorite web surfing routines is to search Google images for old trucks, cars, motorcycles, etc.  It is something I do once in a  blue moon.  I just get a kick out of seeing old cars, trucks, etc.  It's even more fun in person.  There is nothing quite like seeing an old jalopy coming down the road at you.  The drivers always seem to have these great big grins.

       The fever hit me when I was very young.  I wasn't driving age in my state at the time.  I was only 13 years old.  Now, that was old enough to go get a learner's permit.  At 14, I could get my license, but only with a curfew attached.  You simply couldn't be out on the roads past 10pm if you were under 16.  However, my parents were not the sort to follow along on the same path as so many other parents in our little town had gone.  They insisted that I be at least 16 before I gained my driver's license.  This edict, even though I had chauffeured them about since I was 12, would not be bent on my behalf.  I have never been privy how old my older brothers were when they became licensed drivers.  Ahhh, but on to the story... My first automobile that I set my sights on was a 1959 two tone (black and white) Nash Metropolitan like the one shown here.

The car was for sale.  My fishing buddy, Carl, owned and drove it to his grocery store.  Carl lived two doors down from my home.  He and I fished Caddo Lake a lot in those days.  Many a lively story I could tell you about fishing with Ol' Carl.  He was a great guy, and a great friend.  He was asking $75, but because we were fishing buddies, Carl would let me have it for $50.  It needed a battery and would soon need new tires.  Otherwise, it ran like a top!  Now, it wasn't as shiny as the one in this picture.   I saw no problem there.  Just as you get into the northern end of downtown Shreveport, there was a body shop that advertised $99 paint jobs.  I had been cutting grass all over town that summer, when Carl and I weren't fishing.  I had saved enough money to buy the car, tires, battery, and get a $99 paint job!  I knew this was the thing to do.  My mom wouldn't have anything to do with it.  She refused to listen to my pleas.  I was 15 years old and this was the coolest thing since sliced bread.  At that time, though, I had to have my parents permission to buy something that required state registration... ahhhh  the red tape!   I didn't even know what red tape was.

SO... in the end, no Metropolitan.  

Instead, my mom opted to get my aunt to donate her 1954 Chevy 4 door clunker tank !

Image result for 1954 chevy 4 door sedan for sale
It looked a lot like this 2-door one on the left, except with less rust and fewer pieces of chrome!  A 4-door model is pictured on the right.  While the car I had was in fact a 4-door, this particular model is a Bel-aire.  Mine was a base model and thus was just known as a Chevrolet Sedan.

Okay, before anyone passes judgment on my disgust, let me fill you in on the details.  This car had been driven by my ancient aunt.  She had 3 wrecks, although minor, before the City Marshall took away her license.  Also, somehow before she parked the car for good, my dear aunt managed to strip all but low gear in the car and pretty much render the rear end useless too.  I'm unsure how she pulled such a feat.  I can tell you this though.  She really had sour grapes about losing her driving privileges.  So much so, that when she parked the car, she refused anyone to look at or service the car while it stayed parked for over 2 years.  Meanwhile, the tires dry rotted, the battery died, and the engine cracked because that winter was particularly cold and no one put anti-freeze in the radiator.  The donated car ended up costing me around $1500.  Whereas, the Metro would have only cost me about $350.   Furthermore, because the car was worked on by members of my family and others paid shade-tree rates, the job of bringing this old car back to life took about 6 months.  We managed to get it running about a week before my 16th birthday.  I had just gained my license a couple of weeks earlier.  My stepfather tossed me the keys and said, "Here you go boy.  If you think I'm gonna get in that car with you and show you how to drive it, you'd better guess again!"  It was a 3 speed on the column and I had never once driven a standard shift car.  You can only imagine what it must have been like to teach myself how to drive that thing.  Ahhh.   Those were indeed the good old days.  If we had been given access to such things as the internet, cell phones, and laptops, we would have been dangerous!

       There was an "up" side to having this car as my first car.  Most everyone I ran into (not literally) instantly fell in love with this vehicle.  It wasn't too difficult to drive.  Like everything else, with practice, shifting 3 on the column became second nature.  Also, if the car was parked on any kind of incline, (even 2 degrees) I could literally push start this thing, on my own.  It was heavy, but rolled easily.  The 4 doors meant my buddies could pile in to go to town without having to push the front seat forward and such.  This car was indeed a tank.  On one occasion, I gave this friend a ride to summer practice prior to school starting.  I backed into a small sapling pine tree.  This thing was probably 20 feet tall and about 10 inches around.  It put a small ding in the iron of the rear bumper, but didn't damage the chrome.  Later that week, this guy told me that I had killed the tree.  It was dying.  His mom was happy, because the tree had been a problem for her too!  So, if I sounded a little like I was whining, I apologize.  I was simply trying to make a point early into the discussion.  Sometimes our restorations cost us much more than we'd like.  Sometimes the best looking deal is in fact not... and sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches.  Nevertheless, even though this was not a project of my choosing, I was stuck with the restoration bug for the rest of my life.(my point)  Our town, where I grew up, was a gear-head town.  My family's service station was the bastion for all of the gear-heads as well as many of the men-folk in that small village.  Everybody knew everybody and most of us were kin to someone else in that town... if not quite a few someone elses.  It was no big deal for someone to "rat-rod" something... a motorcycle, car, truck, or boat.  I can tell you more than a few stories about some of those projects.

Now, flash forward about another 15 years.  I am digging around in a junk yard in Shreveport, and I come across a few old junk vehicles that are dating to the '50s.  This is a bit of an unusual find.  I didn't have time to inspect.  If I had given it any thought, I'd stripped any usable parts off of these lovelies and kept them to sell later at a much higher rate.  But... I didn't have the time, cash, or forethought to handle it.  Later that same week, I was having an auto air conditioning mechanic look at our car's a/c.  As I drove off, I decided to detour and go a little bit of a different route home.  I noticed a couple of junk yards (not the kind that let you pick your parts), with some old trucks.  Among them was one that looked something like this...

an old COE.   COE is short for Cab Over Engine.  These are neat old trucks.  There were as many different designs back in the day as there are flavors of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream!   Actually, there were probably many more than even that.

I remember driving home.  Late that night, I had an idea and I sketched out something like this...

Not the greatest of sketches, obviously.  For those, I count on my wife, son, or daughter.  They are the artists of the family, so much more than I.

It wasn't until about 10 years later, when I was going through an old briefcase that I came across the old sketch shown above.  I did another search on the internet for photos of COE trucks and a number of hits came in with many restored, mostly out on the west coast.  This is similar to what I saw...
Image result for coe trucks for sale  You can only imagine my reaction when I saw my 10 year old idea having been acted upon by folks I didn't even know, nor did they have any way of knowing I had drawn up such an idea so many years earlier. In those years, I had cast aside my yearning for restoring old vehicles in favor of raising kids, work, restoring our home, helping my mom, serving as mayor of a town... etc. etc.  You get the idea.  Life.  I had plenty to do without adding some hyped up idea of a project that would end up sitting for decades in a beat up garage while I could afford to do a little at a time to further the project along.  Oh, did I mention, cutting the grass?  Yeah, that gets in the way too.  But, I don't regret it.  I'd rather save projects like this for when I am retired and don't have much to do with my time.  It would make a great hobby and I'll know more about what I am doing than I did back then!  So, I've put together a photo display of some heaps I've found on the internet.  You can find them.  All you have to do is google up "COE trucks for sale"... or antique COE trucks for sale... or any of a range of queries.  Then set google to images and feast your eyes.   But for now... take a look.

This is an interesting model with the bullet shaped headlights mounted on the fenders.  The lines of the grill are pretty phenomenal as well.  I really like the curvature of the fenders, bumper, and hood.

 This would have suited my model for rebuild.  My idea was to buy an old U-Haul truck with a diesel engine.  I would take the box off of the back and use it for storage for my shop.  Then I would remove the cab and front of the truck, leaving the chassis and drive train.  I would then use a crane to lift this item up and lower it onto the chassis of the old U-Haul.  and make whatever modifications were necessary to fit and mount this cab and engine compartment onto the U-Haul skeleton.  Of course, I would have the motor and transmission rebuilt prior to mounting.

Here's a neat one with a flat bed.  Lacking a bumper, the owner of this one may be going for a sportier look.

This old army truck is not a COE, but is worthy of restoration.  This looks like an old Dodge Power Wagon, another one of my favorite old vehicles.

Rust and time are the greatest enemies to restoration of these fine old vehicles.

An old Chevy awaits restoration.

This is an old welding truck.  There really isn't much that I would change with this.  Fresh paint, upholstery, and what necessary mechanical repairs required to get it running.  Otherwise, I really like the bed on this truck and would leave it alone.   Finding a use for this model would be fairly easy.  It has all the classic lines of vehicles built in the 40's.

This old truck cab sports a rather interesting oval grill.  Nice lines on this one too.

The whole package on this truck is quite captivating.  Rounded fenders, hood and the vertical lines of the grill with the fender mounted headlights are spectacular.  Who can ignore the windshield sun visor and the split front bumper or the side step to get into the cab?

More proof that there are a multitude of project trucks out there waiting.

Even this old Ford with the squared off body has immense curb appeal.  Clint Eastwood drove a truck like this only with a stake bed body in the movie: "Any Which Way But Loose."  These particular trucks were used extensively by the coca cola corporation as part of their delivery fleet.

       There are still a lot of these trucks out there, waiting for restoration.  They are still somewhat affordable, though probably not for long.  If you have the bug, maybe you might consider such a project.  I'm keeping mine in mind for a possible retirement project.

       To say that they are iconic of an era of design mastery doesn't do them, nor the era, justice.  They are simply mechanical works of art, and in some cases, a nearly blank palette.

       In coming articles, I plan to discuss obstacles to restoration and the historical aspects of projects like these.  I'll try to keep it interesting.

In the meantime,
Take your pick.  I'll get mine... sooner or later.

See you at the shop, or on the road!

Keep the shiny side up.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Welcome to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...

the blog dedicated to the fascination of things that move us about.

This blog will cover (old and new) autos, boats, planes, trains, blimps, subs, ships, motorcycles, trucks... you name it.  Sooner or later, we'll talk about it.

So, climb aboard for a fun ride on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!  (Yeah, the name isn't exactly original, but I got over it.)

Image result for 1936 chevy truck        Image result for 1956 buick roadmaster    Image result for 1956 ford coe   Image result for cog railwayImage result for blimpImage result for pep aeroshell