Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Shop: Winters-Ford V8-60 Midget Racer

by Willy Vinton and Nancy DeWitt

This Ford Midget (originally numbered S-41) was built by Stan Winters, who recruited Ralph Moody to drive it. Moody drove ‘nearly unbeatable’ Midgets and became a legendary stock car driver and mechanic. In 1956 he partnered with John Holman to become the most successful team in motorsports history. They built virtually all of the factory Ford racecars from the 50s through the 70s—cars that were driven by such greats as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Richard Petty, Jackie Stewart, Bobby Unser, LeeRoy Yarbrough and Cale Yarborough.

We checked the car over and decided that it was time for a little (okay, a lot) of work to make it a little safer and more operable. We now have parts ordered for the engine and we are machining other pieces to get it ready for a ride around the race track this summer.  We need to make sure it is as safe as one can make a car like this, as it is built out of old junk yard parts and a lot of gas welding was used instead of stick welding.

Some of the things we found on inspection were very interesting. The in-out box was home built, using some gears out of a Model A Ford transmission. This included the first-reverse sliding gear that had been machined to fit the back of the crank to drive a piece of the main shaft cut from the same transmission. The second-third speed sliding gear was used as the main drive gear in the in-out box. We made all new (used parts from another Model A tranmission) to duplicate the originals, and it is getting close to time to finish putting it together.

Here we are cleaning the block, which is a little Ford 60 horse flathead. Rod Benson, shown at left, is always up for a cleaning job and is a good hand to have around. We should have it ready in the next couple weeks, so watch for that to happen. We'll put a video on YouTube so people see this fabulous midget racer come back to life again.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tips for the 2011 Hershey Swap Meet

Ethyl or regular?????
by Nancy DeWitt

They say "All Roads Lead to Hershey," as that's where a significant number of old-car enthusiasts head each October. Although the week includes a giant car show and some impressive auctions, the highlight for many is the massive flea market. The "swap meet" is spread over many acres and includes hundreds of vendors selling everything from old car parts, antique bicycles and gasoline pumps to vintage clothing, old automobile manuals and collector cars.
Nope, that's a 1916...

Willy and I learned that one needs to wear comfortable shoes and plan on walking a LOT of miles to cover the swap meet grounds. I spent two full days strolling the meet in 2009 and don't think I saw it all. It's helpful to have a list of what you hope to find, as it can be overwhelming to see SO much stuff. Plus, you might be tempted to buy things you don't really need ("But honey, that old Waltham dash clock will look great on the mantle!"). Bring a daypack for your water bottle and small purchases; the smart folks bring wagons for hauling their new treasures. Only a few of the vendors are able to process credit card transactions and some won't take checks either, so bring plenty of cash.

Besides looking for your own treasures, it's entertaining to see what others are searching for--and how they advertise that. Just be sure to ask for permission before snapping their photo. Most will oblige!

In addition to vendors, many great organizations have booths worth visiting. I really enjoyed meeting folks from the Society of Automotive Historians, Pierce-Arrow Society, Wills Sainte Claire Museum and Horseless Carriage Club of America when I went in 2009. I also took a side trip to the AACA Library to do some research on our cars, and I highly recommend a visit there (and the AACA Museum, of course!).

Willy, our museum manager, will be at Hershey again this year. Chances are you can find him at the Restoration Supply Company booth (Red Field, RWN 9-13), where he'll be handing out brochures for our museum and sharing some of Wedgewood Resort's delicious Alaska salmon. Stop by and say hello!

The Hershey Fall Meet is October 5-8 this year, and you can find information about it here.

**10/04/11 Update - More good advice is being posted over on the AACA Forum here.

9/29/14 Update - Considering how wet Hershey has been during recent swap meets, you might want to add an umbrella and rain jacket to your day pack!