The Huntsman - 1949 Convertible Restoration

Started by CadillacGlasses, January 05, 2022, 04:53:37 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

CadillacGlasses

I've been waiting to start sharing my story of restoring the Huntsman... Some may have seen the article featured in the Oct. 2021 Self Starter - there are many moving parts to the project (from the restoration, to a complete interior and even an illustrated story inspired by the car). Its taken a while to get to a place where I feel I'm making progress, and I'm hoping to post regularly so I don't lose sight of the goal.

This is my first restoration and there's been all sorts of weird events that have gotten in the way - from shops suddenly having to move, to laborious work-trades to fighting a car that was caving in on itself - its been interesting. I'm hoping to make this entertaining, but also a way to keep me moving forward, because right now I'm preparing for the car to come home from the paint shop - where it will be fully and finally in my own hands to complete.

The car is one of the original chartreuse models for 1949, and since making the connection on the body tag, I've become strangely obsessed with the color. I'll attach a rendering I drew of the final color with the stock black soft top. I bought it from a local parts collector in Chicago, which truly was an awesome place to discover - Rick has been acquiring parts for over 60 years and has this huge old building in Humboldt park that seems stuck in time. The car came mostly complete, but mostly disassembled. Not exactly the best place to start your first restoration..

Alas, I did not want to give up. Misguided advice can put us in peril, but enough friends - and my own drive to see the car real - have been hugely helpful in keeping me going. After many years of struggling, I feel like its finally making real progress. Last spring, my restoration friend got the doors to finally fit, last summer, I got the car driving, and now its in sealer awaiting its paint. Meanwhile, I have tons of parts to refurbish, prepare and learn how they fit together! I'm hoping my next post will report a finished template for the rear seat - something that was missing when I got the car.

Stay tuned...
Mike H
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

I realize I'm posting a bit retroactively - part of that is fear to share and then not finish anything! Here are some photos of the car going through the fitment issues to sealer (as it is now)

When dreaming of a convertible to work on and one day drive, I had no idea the body could cave in on itself! This took a while to figure out, but thankfully we have the doors shutting correctly.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

Mike Baillargeon #15848

This is fantastic Mike !....I'm already looking forward to the updates!..

When you say caving in on itself....Is that clam shelling nose to tail?

When that happens to us during a restoration, alot can be done down at the body mounts to open up door openings...

Mike
Mike Baillargeon  #15848

CadillacGlasses

Oh yea.. the body mounts really make a difference to get right, however I think what happened in this case was that it had clam shelled nose to tail while the rocker and body mounts were rusted out, then the first guy rebuilt the mounts without the body braced, locking it in that clamshell state

So, we had to ratchet strap the cowl back to get it upright, then reset the mounts. The things we learn!
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

dogbergs

Looking forward following this, greetings from Sweden.

/ Johan
-51 62 convertible, project
-64 Dodge Polara
-70 Volvo 121
-63 Plymouth Max Wedge clone, project
-46 Harley WLA
-33 Ford Pick up, project

59-in-pieces

Mike,
Your post is such a validation of this hobby, particularly the "HANDS ON" aspects.

Live and learn - especially at your age - to keep the I GOTTA GET THIS FINISHED, see it through, not often seen or practiced by millennials, if that's what your called these days.

Convertibles are my weakness too.
And isn't it strange that by the time I get one, the back seat is always missing.
Back story, when I got my 47 Series 62 convrt, it too had no back seat.
But, by posting here I found one in Australia, one of the most expensive places to ship things.
Cut the deal and it was put in a container that was shipping a 53 to the east coast here - for free - piggy-back.
Shipping it to the west coast was not that bad.

Glad you have joined our band, and you will find there is a ton of information, experience, and help here - just ask.
Oh, and keep posting even the retro steps of your efforts - we are junkies for that stuff.

Have fun,
Steve B.
S. Butcher

CadillacGlasses

Update on the rear seat -

So, I'm in the midst of creating my template, but only had time to get it started with the seat pan.

I have a rear seat from a friend's '49 Coupe Deville, which fits the profile of the convertible but is too wide - plus I need to return it to the CDV.. I'll be measuring the backs next, but the CDV backs seem to be a lot taller than the convertible. I've been constructing my rear seat in a CAD model from a 3D scan I took of the car interior. This profile seems to fit (the orange blob is the shape I measured from the CDV seat).

I'm finding myself getting really perfectionist with this... which is probably the biggest thing that gets in the way of the "must get this done!" urge. I definitely have that 'taste of blood in my mouth' with this whole build, and need to keep reminding myself to just do something instead of thinking too long about it.

Next should be the seat back, and then I get to see how my '69 seats will work for donors to this reformed seat (they are in the ugly grey pic).

Also, if anyone has any tips with building rear seats, I'd love to learn! Steve, that's amazing you had to go all the way to Australia to get one, that's dedication!
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

#7
While I'm waiting to get the CDV seatbacks, here's a bit of backstory on my hinge adventure.

As I learned the hard way, convertibles have probably the worst issues with door fitment that goes beyond the typical hinge-wear issues. Apparently, some restoration shops replace hinge pins every time they tear down a car, no matter how old it is. As a precaution, they just assume its on its way to being worn out and causing door fitment problems.

So, this is where I started, pulling out the original hinge (which was rusted crazy) and sandblasting it. At that point, we learnt one of the hinges was toast, and had to locate some from the internet. Once those were acquired, my friend Travis at LaVine Restoration helped put the new pins in, and then my other friend Greg from Speakeasy Customs (who helped me through this whole door debacle) got to work installing and battling door adjustment issues with me.

This wasn't the end of the headaches though, because as I mentioned, we had the whole body to deal with. The doors were rock solid at the end of this, which led us to discover our door jambs were the next problem. At the end, I have my schematic laying out what we thought was going on. We promptly underwent surgery and basically forced the car back to its upright position, which magically created fitment.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

James Landi

Mike,

Enjoying the finer points of your narrative, and thus my question, as follows:  How far out of alignment was the fron end of the car in relation to the aft end?  Aside from forcing the front end "down," did you add in any additonal structural support to keep the front and aft end where they need to be?    Thanks for posting your narrative... James

CadillacGlasses

Hi James, if I remember correctly (its been about a year since the alignment adventure) I think the doors were overlapping 1/8th of an inch at the top. We didn't exactly measure how much distance we pulled the front end of the car away from the rear, but what we did was set the doors in place, stretched the front out until they opened freely, and then welded cross braces to hold that position. It wasn't the most scientific way, and I'm sure more seasoned restorers would have better approaches, but thankfully we were able to fit the car together.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

In continuation with my bracing/body straightening saga - I found photos from the first attempt to rebuild the underfloor structure/body braces. This is when it was done wrong, because the car wasn't braced before (or even during) cutting it open.

The guy I was working with at the time thought the body would be straight enough because it was sitting on a rigid frame. He had worked with customizers who chopped tops and things, and I was learning from 'ground zero' at the time so all I knew was the rusted/decomposed braces needed to be redone somehow.

These photos make me cringe now, its funny how much we learn with these things. As mentioned in an earlier post, I've since recovered the bracing fiasco with another friend who knew the body needed to be cross braced and had the patience to get it right.

Also, I found a photo of the instrument panel coming apart. It was a huge mess, and again, I was advised to just take it out without carefully documenting everything.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

James Landi

Terrific --- yes indeed--- we persevere and we learn.  (Similar to old wood boats with deteriorated structural members, the hull distorts, so rebuilding requires a good deal of jacking and strapping the hull back into its original shape.)

CadillacGlasses

Another back-dated update - some further adventures with the instrument panel

I media blasted and primed the IP after removing all the trim (something I should have done a lot more carefully, because I forgot where almost everything went.) And then had the panel painted in black and ivory. At this time, I also began to polish the trim pieces.

Next, I tried 3D scanning it to keep fleshing out my 3D model I've been creating in parallel. Its fun when work has a fancy tool and needs everyone to do experiments to learn how to use it! I'm still trying to wrap my head around how scanners work, more on this later..

@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

Another retrospec post - last February (its crazy to think how long these things take...) I rebuilt the speedometer. I'm not sure if all the components work, but the paint had flaked out of the numbers and the odometer dials were roasted. I ended up using a toothpick to remove the paint, which turned out tedious but relaxing at the same time. I had some fun making a timelapse of the reconstruction:

@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

I just found more pics from my underbody bracing adventures!
Here you can see when we did the bracing the right way (second shop, Speakeasy, was able to properly brace the car across the door frame, lift the body and then reconstruct the decayed braces underneath.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

CadillacGlasses

Update! Its been a while, partly because I'm waiting patiently for progress at the body shop, but we've been test fitting the rear fenders, which were quite warped. The rockers are also getting refined, and hopefully soon we'll see it go to paint.

In other news, I've torn down the vent windows and preparing to send parts to chrome. One piece had a notch knocked out of it so I'm waiting for a welder friend to repair it.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.

Mike Baillargeon #15848

Steady she goes Mike....It's looking good....

Glad to see your still chipping away at it....

Mike
Mike Baillargeon  #15848

59-in-pieces

Mike,

A word of caution about re-chroming the vent windows.
If they are anything like the 47's, they are highly vulnerable to warping if precautions are not taken by the plater.
I believe there are posts on this issue by Bill Ingler, my mentor on my 47 convert. adventure.

Others with specific 49 experience may have better advice than mine.

Have fun.
Steve B.
S. Butcher

rwchatham CLC 21892

Good to see someone doing actual hands on work on their restoration 👍  Looks good keep at it .
R. Waligora

CadillacGlasses

Thanks everyone, I'm hoping to have more to report soon - but thanks Steve for the tip. I will need to look into this! I imagine that a 49 vent window would be constructed in a similar way to a 47, so I'll do some digging.

I have another update - My  window trim just returned from my friend's resto shop where his metal guy did an amazing job at reshaping the interior windshield bezel I accidentally ran over..

The first pic is the vent window that now is patched, he replaced a notch that was knocked out of it. Next is the twisted piece after I found it under my car...

One night I was reversing into my garage and heard a crunch.. this poor trim piece seemed to have thrown itself off my workbench and was hoping to sabotage the project. I did my best to pull apart the fold, but needed some help shaping it back. I'm so thankful he was able to save this piece.

Lastly is an interesting color match of a neighboring Cad, mine is still in primer in the background.
@MikeRayHerbert (instagram)
29645 - CLC West of Lake, CLCMRC Board Director

1949 Series 62 Conv.