Blog Note

23 01 2012

I’m afraid I was a bit optimistic in regards to what I was going to do next as reported in Update #10. I have made no headway towards mounting the chassis or starting the engine. Easier said than done, that’s for sure.
I am preparing a new update and hope to have something by the end of the week.
Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Patrick McLoad 





Venus Update #10

15 06 2011

Well, here it is June 14th and it’s already as hot as a firecracker. Has been awhile since I’ve wriiten a Venus Update, so here goes.

The Venus body still awaits vast amounts of money for body and show paint, and I guess it will be awhile until that happens. The economic problems have come to roost for us as well.
Some time ago, I finished installing new brakes on all four wheels, and managed to get all of the brake lines run to/from the master cylinder. I had purchased a set of pre-cut brake lines for this car, but unfortunately, they were not also pre-bent. But for the most part, everything went well with a few modifications here and there.

Despite the heat, I have decided to go ahead with getting the body fitted to the chassis. The front body supports are intact, however, the rear are gone. I had to torch these away and grind off the rivets to get at the metal on the box frames. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a good shop. Personally, I’m simply not equipped to make a new set of rear body supports. Sure, it will cost some bucks, but it’s making headway. I was hoping to have the body finished while off the chassis to avoid all of the dust, but I guess painting it while on the chassis will be okay. After all, the underside is painted and finished anyway.

I will also rig up temporary electricals, fuel pump, and cooling just to get the engine started. It is just far too heavy for me to move in and out without the car being under it’s own power. At least I’ll be able to drive it into and out of the trailer when delivering for paint and body. So, the point being, I want to make some FORWARD PROGRESS on the Venus, otherwise the project is simply going to languish in my garage. At least my garage is air conditioned and doing some of this work won’t be too bad.

On a side note, the fabrication of the windshield pillars had also met a stall….mostly my fault.  These are very unique to the Venus prototype, and since there are no others to copy, they were re-created in 3-D by my friend Raffi Minasian. We are now going to send the 3-D machine language files to a shop for machining the right and left posts in aluminum. There will be a lot of hand finishing for me to do, but that’s okay. Raffi is a true artist when it comes to reproducing non-existent and unobtainium parts. Please visit is website, and mentioned you read about him on this blog:  http://www.raffim.com/

It would be great if I could get the car painted in the fall or over the winter months, but we’ll just have to see. As per all the stuff on Update #9, none of the cad, zinc, or chrome plating has been done. I have however, placed the heads back onto the engine, though will wait until start-up to bolt them down.

To shift gears, I now have a “new” photo of another Venus, this one belonging to Granvel Nance (“Tex”) as my Dad used to call him. I may have reported on Granvel on an earlier update, but to refresh your memory, he was one of the guys who apprently did a lot of the drafting / drawing work on the Venus, though not design work as far as I know. It was difficult finding Granvel and his wife, but I was very happy that he was still alive and kicking. We have spoke on the phone several times, though I have not been out to visit them, At one time, he said he had some of the original drawings of the Venus in his garage. I pushed him as much as I dared, but he finally went out to look and didn’t find them. I was heartbroken. But it figures, he as well as my Dad threw out all that old stuff….I guess that’s the way it goes.

So, Granvel sent me what he had, and it included the photo you see below. (Click on photos for a larger version; use back button to return to post)

This photo was kind of a shock becuase I always thought that HE had the Venus prototype as seen on the front of Motor Trend, not one of these “later” styled cars. So as far as the prototype, who knows what happened to it. Hopefully it wasn’t retrofitted with the modifications, and was left as original. But as per the writing on the back of the photo, he bought his in 1966 and sold it in 1970. Perhaps this car is still around somewhere…..or perhaps it just happens to be the only other known exiting Venus today. As usual, there is only ONE photo of this car; no profile or rear end shot. This makes it very difficult to determine whether this is an existing car from other photos, or if it is a “new” one altogether.

Granvel Nance’s Venus sure has a lot of similarities with the Kovar Venus. These similarities include: the ’55 Chevy grille, emblem, and finisher strip; upholstery appears to be same original Navy color; windshield posts are the same as well as the chrome finisher across bottom of windshield; white steering wheel and hub; horn ring is full circle; both had Continental kit (spare tire) on rear bumper. And these are the only photographed cars with front fog/running lights installed. Do these similarities make it the same car? I don’t know. The Kovar Venus is shown below:

The only significant difference between the two is that the Nance car has a clean front bumper where the Kovar car has the two over-riders. So how likely is it that someone installed the over-riders at a later date? Why would someone go to that trouble? How would this person even know that over-riders were “supposed” to be on the front? The Kovar Venus has had some body work, and I did not see any holes for a folding top bracket….perhaps these holes were filled in? It is also difficult to ascertain what color(s ) the Kovar Venus was. There is also no evidence of a side-view mirror, though I do not have any close-up shots of the doors. Maybe Jack Kovar can shed some light on this. There are also some irregularities with the title, but back then, not much attention was paid to title / registration transfers like they are today, especially on a no-name project car like this was. Jack bought his car in 1985, some 15 years after Granval sold his. What are the odds that the same car would show up in the Auto Trader?

So, that’s about it for this update. Many thanks to all of you who have stayed with me as long as you have. If new to the blog, please sign up for instant notification when a new update is posted.

Please feel free to comment on this post and your thoughts on if these are the same or different cars. I would also welcome any suggestions you might have for future posts. I have a HUGE collection of original letters from back then (thanks to Jack Kovar allowing me to copy them), and if not too boring, perhaps I can share a few of the “livlier” ones!

Regards,
Patrick McLoad 





Venus Update #9

25 09 2010

I appreciate your continued interest in the Venus project, and thanks for hanging in there with me. Has been awhile since I was able to spend some quality time on the Venus, but working for a living takes precedent over one’s hobby. This work will allow me to get some of the tasks done that require outside help. You can never do a job like this all by yourself…that is unless you have an enormous and well-equipped shop with plenty of experienced helpers, but I guess that goes without saying.  The “outside sourced” tasks include having the center grille sections welded, filled, and plated; having a new copper box fabricated that surrounds the fuel filler neck (done); and having the windshield posts machined. While I’ve given the green light to have these made, I can concentrate on the body and chassis work.

But before turning my sights on the body, I became worried about the engine cylinders and if any rust had developed on the walls. It has been sitting for quite awhile now. Normally, I would squirt in a generous helping of Marvel Mystery Oil and spin the crank a few times. However, on a flathead, the sparkplug hole sits above the valves, not directly over the cylinder. This makes squirting MMO into the cylinders abit difficult. And, since the cylinders are at a slant, the oil would gather at the bottom and not necessarily at the top. So, the only thing to do is remove the heads for a visual inspection. I was glad to find that there was no rust whatsoever in the cylinders, and they looked as pristine as the day I sealed them up. (Remember, you can click on ANY of the photos below for a much bigger photo to view)

With the heads off, I was able to re-treat the walls with MMO and spin the engine a bit to work it in. The only thing this cost me was a new set of head gaskets (cheap). Peace of mind means a lot to me. But looking back, I really wished I had left well-enough alone as this created a lot more work in getting the head gaskets off than what it was worth. Lesson learned.

Picking up where I left off in Update #8, I decided to first tackle the fuel-filler door. I touched on this in the last report, but thought I would expand it a bit. The first order of business was to repair the bottom lip of the opening that had been so unceremoniously cut out with a jigsaw. To start, I needed a bottom layer of fiberglass from which to build. I accomplished this by laying in a few strips of glass to a board that would be fitted and held to the underside of the opening.

After the resin had hardened, I was left with a “foundation” from which to build.


I laid in multiple strips of glass mat until I reached the right thickness, then shaped and finished with kevlar-bodied filler. The filler door now looks much better than the original in the upper photos.


The thought occured to me that rather than spend many fruitless hours trying to shape the old door, I could use the filler opening itself as a mold to fashion a new, precise-fitting door by simply filling up the opening with glass fabric and resin. My first attempt at this was near disasterous as the release compound I used was totally incorrect. As a result, a small portion of the resin stuck to the side of the opening. I purposely stopped filling the hole just to see how well the compound was working (not), and I’m glad I did. Imagine if I had filled this entire door opening in!!



The opening was then repaired and reshaped correctly. After a bit of research and speaking with some pros on-line, I got a tin of Rexco Formula 5 Mold Relese Wax, and some Rexco “Cover-All Film” that goes over the wax. This parting compound is like a liquid plastic, but the downside is that 1 gallon is the smallest amount you can get. With these components, I was now a bit more confident in doing this. I followed label directions and put 6-8 coats of wax first, followed by 6-8 coats of the plastic film. You have to let the film dry before each coat, so I used a hair-dryer to quicken this up a bit. Ultimately, your form will look like this:

The next thing to do was to seal off the bottom opening with a  wooden board, roughly 6×6. This board was held in position by a pole and a hydraulic jack underneath. On my first attempt, I had this board covered with plastic, but the plastic tended to pucker from the resin, leaving a less than desireable finish on the bottom, so I went without it this second time around. But again, this board was heavily covered with wax and release compound. (By the way, if anyone wants this wax and release film, it’s yours for free….I’ll probably never use it again). I then began to lay in carefully cut sections of mat fiberglass, saturating each as I went. It is important that you have these pieces of mat  pre-cut. Having a cardboard template is a great help in getting the shapes cut correctly every time. I built these layers up to the top, knowing that eventually, I would need a layer of filler to make it perfectly even with its surrounding surfaces. Please click on the link below to watch the short video that shows how this was done.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO


As noted, I stopped sanding just short of the top of the opening. The body/paint guys can take it from here.

With the fuel door “finished”, I decided it was time to take the body out for some bodywork and painting bids. My garage had an inch of body-filler dust everywhere, and quite frankly, it was so difficult to move around in there, I said “enough is enough”. It was so bad, I didn’t want to go out to my garage….and that’s counter-productive. It’s my hide-out or “man-cave” if you like, complete with air conditioning, a TV, stereo, and a small fridge of cold water and cold Shiner Bock beer. And I normally like to keep it spotless and well-organized.

So I loaded the body into the trailer and made my plans. But you know what happens when you get in a hurry? Stupid stuff happens, that’s what. I failed to make sure the body was sufficiently anchored to the rolling body dolly. I just assumed it was okay. So I took the short trip up the freeway to park the trailer until the next day when I was heading to my first appointment. I happen to open the door and UH-OHH! The body had shifted around, and was off it’s supports.


So the following day, I spend three hours carefully moving the body back straight on the dolly, and then two more days to fabricate some more supports out of cheap jack stands. The body is now VERY secure.

I’ve visited a few shops with the body, and have made my decision on who I would like to do it. However, this guy’s shop is pretty busy right now, and he won’t have room for my Venus body until end of October. But I sure will be glad to get a professional to work on it. Not only is there an extraordinary amount of bodywork to do on the fiberglass, there’s the painting and blocking that goes with lacquer. He will also mount the body on the chassis; mount new instruments in the panel; mount headlight buckets and front rings; mount rear tail lights; mount the doors with external hinges, and mount the latches for the doors. So you see, there is a great deal of work that needs to happen. Needless to say, it won’t be cheap….but it will be a gigantic leap forward.

So while the Venus body sits in my trailer biding its time, I’ve turned my attention to getting the chassis ready to accept the body. But before doing so, I need to send some stuff off to the chrome platers. This includes the hinges, hubcaps, front headlight assemblies, and rear tail light housings. I think I’ll hold off on the bumpers until I get closer to finishing the car. Here are a few miscellaneous items for discussion:

Above is the chrome “finisher”  for the steering and shift columns that mounts on the dash. Note the welded area on the left. A previous owner installed a turn signal, cutting out a jagged hole for the mechanism. The original Venus prototype did not have a turn signal. Even though I bought a new old stock turn signal (still in the box, and very pricey) and was thinking about installing it for safety purposes, I decided against it. So I had the jagged hole welded in, and the hole machined back round (thank you Tom). I will need the chrome plater to make this surface all the same texture to hide the weld. Bubbles on the lower lip are pits under the chrome.

These are the 4 outside door hinges that will get fresh chrome. Although I really hate to do so, I may have to drift out the pins on each. I would surely hate to break one of these.


These are the inside door latches. They’ve been de-greased and still look like crap. I’ll be sending these out for bright zinc plating. Most of this mechanism won’t show anyway. (This is also testament that even though you have a fancy digital camera, you can still take horrible photos.)


Above are the striker plates that the above latches mate with, and mount on the back door jamb. These have just been bead blasted and look pretty good. I have all new hardware for these as well.

These are the “parking” light lenses for the front lights. The one on the right is what came off the car; the one on the left a new replacement. I had to do a bit of research, but I’ve determined that the one on the right is NOT correct for a 1953 Buick front parking light lens. If it is correct, then perhaps some Buick expert can let me know. But every photo I’ve seen of the front lights show the stubbier lens on the left. Plus, it fits perfectly in the lens bucket. The one that came out of my car is a sorry sight…..wood glued to the bottom and resin tracks all over it. Even if it IS correct, it’s not going back in.


These are the small “buckets” that house the above-mentioned lenses. They’ve been bead blasted clean; will be zinc plated, and the exterior painted gloss black.

Below are the 4 “sombrero” hubcaps, and the headlight surrounds from a 1953 Buick. Both the caps and the headlight trim are in great shape. I bought the caps several years ago and they are authentic Cadillac. Originals are now expensive and hard to find in good condition.


The Parking / Hand Brake:

This is a slightly more involved topic, delving into the minutia of the hand brake (eyes glaze over about right now). To recap just a little, it turned out that there was a Mopar rear end in this car, not Ford.  A friend on the H.A.M.B. forum pointed this out to me when I was asking a question about why I couldn’t get the rear brakes off (or something like that). This then led me to a salvage yard where we yanked a Ford rear-end out of a 1953 Ford junker. Gee, I sure hope it works okay because I didn’t do anything to it in regards to a rebuild….just replaced the front seal. So, I had 2 sets of handbrake cables to each rear-end, and both had been cut through with a torch. So today, I was very glad to find that a complete set of front and rear cables, with sheathing, and with rubber pieces cost only 60 bucks or so….what a bargain. Had this been an old British car, each cable would have been in the hundreds, and the rubber pieces unavailable.

So I turned my sights on the hand brake itself. It has this really cool pull handle on it. It also had a weird bracket attached that didn’t make any sense to me. Of course, it has been nearly 5 years since I originally disassembled this piece from the body, and no doubt, that bracket was probably needed. But as I’m learning with this car, the guy who put it together wasn’t exactly an automotive genius. So I’m having to re-invent better and more practical ways to mount stuff like this.


Without getting bogged down with details, you have to first remove the old cable from the handbrake mechanism by removing a pin. It is this pin that keeps you from fully rotating the shaft to expose the end of the brake cable. Since the pin would not come out, I cut it off with a Dremel tool. I later discovered an access hole in the back of the shaft that would have allowed be to drift it out with a punch….oh well. I will probably replace this pin with a roll-pin, unless I can find a suitable substitute like a steel rivet. (see below) Conversely, this is how the new cable will be installed.

I intend to have the outer slide section zinc plated, then painted gloss black. I could not find a way to remove the handle from the shaft. There is one pin drifted flush through the handle and into the shaft; no exit hole on the other side.

Thinking I might drill out this pin, I attempted to set a center punch. The pin was so hard, it flattened my center punch, so there was no way it was going to drill out. So I’ll leave it up to the chrome plater. More than likely, I’ll first have the rod zinc-plated, then give to the chrome guy for chroming the handle only….shouldn’t be a big deal to do that. This handbrake is quite pitted, and the more I look at it, the more I want to  find one in better shape.

Hopefully you can see just how pitted this hand brake is. But I wanted to point out the small and fragile mechanism that ratchets against the shaft when you pull it out…that old familiar “zip” sound. These two angled pieces are held in contact with the shaft by an impossibly small and complicated double-spring. Without this small, tiny spring, the whole thing won’t work!!

Moving right along, I’ve decided to go ahead and use the “Standard” Stewart Warner gages in this car. They most exactly match those in the publicity photo. I toyed with the idea of using their “Wings” series….very nostalgic and art-deco looking….but they just aren’t right for the Venus. And besides, I see the Wing-series gages everywhere….very widely used! I thought about some custom-faced gages with “Venus” written across the bottom, but nah, I can use that money elsewhere on the car. I do wish my Dad had used a large RPM gage next to the Speedo gage though. Staying correct to the prototype prevents me from doing so myself.  And I’m still trying to figure out what all of the gages are for…there’s one or two in that cluster that I just know what they are.

Below is one of the gages that came out of the Massachusetts Venus next to the photo of the original Venus gage layout. Note that I have NOT been able to identify the gages in the layout…they don’t look to be Stewart Warner.


Last but not least is this thing….the throttle linkage that attaches to the firewall, and connects the foot pedal to the accelerator shaft on the carburetors. It is quite ugly, and even worse, cannot be taken apart for plating and / painting. I will more than likely go with something more sophisticated, with most of the mechanism behind the firewall. LOKAR makes some nice stuff. I’d like to have a singled sheathed wire coming strainght out of the firewall to the carburetors…not this big-ass ugly thing!

I’m glad to report that while writing this, the guys building my new fuel filler box called and said it was finished and ready for pickup. Here are some shots of the old box and the new. The flaps on the new box will be used to attach it to brackets underside of the body. This is a great improvement, and unlike the old box, the filler tube is removable from the box.

Thought I’d add a little about the steering wheel. My Dad used what I believe to be a 1951 Ford steering wheel. These came in two flavors, depending on model I assume. One has a horn ring that goes all the way around, the other, just the lower portion of the wheel. Both are 18″ in diameter. I have one of each, as seen below:

The metal center on the wheel that I need leaves a lot to be desired, while the center on the wheel I cannot use is much nicer…you can even see a slight gold tinge on the FORD letters;

The chrome ring will have to be restored as well as the finish one the steering wheel itself. I’m pretty sure I can build one good and correct steering wheels from these two. I found a place on the Internet that restores them, but I don’t yet know the cost.

So that’s it for now. Again, thank you for your interest, and don’t hesitate to scroll down to read some of the other entries. You can also click the “ABOUT” tab that will give you links to the “History of the Venus” and “Restoration of the Venus”. I would welcome any comment anyone would like to make.

Patrick





Venus Update #8: Houston Chronicle and Body Work Continues

12 03 2010

I finally got back to work on the Venus after a very long hiatus. But before I get down to the nuts and bolts of the restoration, there has been some big “news” concerning the Venus. The Houston Chronicle came out and did a photo essay on the Venus, and the article appeared in the March 2nd edition. The on-line article can be read here:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6892301.html

I thought the Venus might make a good story for the paper, and I sent a short letter to the editors about the Houston connection of the Venus, and apparently, they agreed. No, they didn’t beat a path to my door.  The only thing I need to elaborate on is the ending of this article. What I meant was that eventually, I will probably sell the car, but that’s only after enjoying the Venus and showing it for several years. This car really belongs in a museum so others can see it, not stuck in a 2-car garage. (I kept a Jaguar XKE for 37 years, and that was about 10 years too long.) But I’m very glad that my Dad’s dream got some press; I think he would be proud. But realistically, it’s an eggshell on 4 wheels, and irreplaceable, so with pot-holes and uninsured drivers, I really don’t know how much actual drive time the Venus will see.

This article has brought forth a lot of people who either owned a Venus; worked on Venus'; or new about them in some way. I heard from Charles Dunn and Claude Hunter who used to build Venus bodies one-by-one, laying layers of glass into the mold and trying to keep bubbles out. Claude also had a great deal to do with finishing the actual “plug” (positive) of the Venus from which negative molds were made. Both of these guys have been a tremendous help in my understanding the timeline of things.

I also heard from Roy Cason who used to work with my Dad and a Mr. “Tex” Nance at Vector Cable Company. Thanks to Roy, I have been able to track down Mr. Nance, and although I have not yet heard back, it is my belief that Tex was the eventual owner of the original prototype Venus as seen on Motor Trend magazine. Perhaps….just perhaps….he still has that car or knows where it might be!!

I heard from Ray Jones who ran an auto trim shop on Harrisburg, and who installed the interiors and custom folding tops on the Venus cars. The shop is still there….Jones Auto Trim Shop… and is now run by his grandson Jim Litzman. Ray sent me a scan of an old washed-out photo of a Venus that he has just completed. From this photo, I was able to determine that TWO Venus cars received a custom convertible top, not just one as I had previously thought. I do believe this is the only Venus to have received a Continental kit.


 I heard from a couple of guys…Cecil Tipton and Bill Morris… who said they had a hot-rod club called “The Rebels” back then, and they used to hang around the Venus shop. Bill drove a Venus on occasions (parades), but did not own one. Bill still proudly displays his “Rebels” plaque and wears the Rebels jacket at car shows. Cecil Tipton has one of the club shirts that he is going to donate to the Venus memorabilia collection. This shirt is very cool, and if I’m not mistaken, reads “Venus Test” on the right-side pocket area. Cecil tells me that the club and the shirts were sponsored (paid for) by the Venus Corporation, which would have been the second “ownership” group (Eddie Kovar). Whether or not they actually had anything to do with testing the car (speed) is unknown. But having this small connection to a hot-rod club, and having a shirt for display is simply far too cool! I am very appreciative to Cecil for this gesture.

 

 Last but not least, I heard from a lady, Mickey Stifter, who said she and her dad Oscar used to own and drive a Venus back in the early 60’s. She was going to dig up some old photos, but I haven’t yet received anything. She said it did not have a folding top, nor a continental kit, but had a lever on the floor to shift in the overdrive. She said it was a black and white car, and that she had rolled & pleated interior put into it. Oscar ran a lumber company back in the 40’s and 50’s. She said he bought the car already on a frame, but that it did not have an interior. I am interested in knowing if this is a car that I already have pictures of, or, if it is perhaps an un-documented Venus.

To wrap up this portion of the post, I hope I didn’t leave anyone out, nor do I mean to minimize anyone’s involvement by not writing enough detail. These are on-going correspondences, and I am simply keeping this short for the sake of this posting. I really hope to hear from Tex Nance soon!! IF that Venus prototype still exists, and IF the original windshield posts are available, then I (hopefully) will be able to use them to have a new set (or two) cast out of bronze or perhaps steel.

 

Body Work

Of course, I wait until the end of the year when average temps are in the 40’s and 50’s….too cold to apply resin without heating up the garage to 70 or so (which is relatively easy to do with my propane heater if need be). I decided to concentrate on getting all of the mechanical fittings pre-mounted before resuming with the body work. 

I finally got the hood hinges installed; these will look much better when the hood receives final body work and paint.

I also started blanking out the instrument panel. Previously, I had resined-in scrim material that would serve as a backstop for pieces I would be installing on the front.

I cleaned the sides of all holes with a small Dremel tool, exposing a fresh resin area. I pre-cut all mat pieces using cardboard templates, and had each size and shape ready to grab during the fill process  (no photo). I built up each large hole with fiberglass, and small 3/4″ holes received the Kevlar-reinforced filler material. By the way, I’m using regular polyester “general purpose” resin from Fibre Glast (#77…wax-free) which costs at $54 per gallon. I generally allow it to sit overnight for a good hard cure.  And if you think general resin is somehow sub-par, think again. This stuff is really hard to remove…..just try to sink a screw into it and you’ll see how hard it really is.

After levelling down the resin disks, a thin layer of Kevlar body filler was used to cover the entire panel. The main point here is that the holes were filled with glass and resin, not just body filler. Ultimately, the entire panel will be smoothed with the Kevlar filler.

I gave some thought to this green filler, and although hard and durable, I really don’t want to use it to fill large areas on the body. I ordered some white gelcoat from Fibreglast and will be experimenting with it first.

Although I am not yet ready to give a visual update on these, I am also working on the hood latching mechanism, a very important piece. My good friends at Inland Machine Shop are currently machining the attachment block for the lower latch assembly. Can’t wait to get it for fitting and installation!

In the meantime, I have also started body work on the gas-filler door assembly, and a new gas filler box to be made out of copper. I’m still trying to find a small sheet-metal company to make this simple box for me. If I had a sheet metal brake, I could do it myself as this is 10th grade metal-shop stuff….but I can’t justify buying a brake just for this box. Below is the filler neck I made. The box will be sandwiched between the upper copper piece and the lower steel piece.

The gas compartment door has received a new fiberglass skin (top part showing in photo). The hole where the key lock occupied will be filled in, as I don’t see this hardware on the original photos. There is no need to lock the compartment door on this show model. I expect to be making a custom hinge for this door which will look similar to those used on the hood, but on a much smaller scale, of course.

The door opening required work as well. As seen in the before and after photo below, a previous owner didn’t pay too much attention to aesthetics. Note the right upper and lower corners receiving a 90 degree cut, not doubt with a power jig saw. What should be there is the same curve as is seen in the outer opening. So I rebuilt this lip with glass and then re-cut and filed the gentle curves at all four corners. This took about 4 hours to do.


I am now shaping the door for a near-perfect fit, and afterwards, will shape and install a custom hinge. Although I can use a spring (or even magnets) to hold the door closed, I am not quite sure what to use to actually lift the door up. Again, the lock mechanism is being deleted.

So, that’s all I have to report for now. With spring’s warmer weather filtering in, the days are getting better to continue the glass/resin work.
Thank you for your interest, and sorry for it taking so long for a new update.

PS: I just had a brainstorm last night….grated, they come few and far between these days. But the thought occurred to me that there is NO reason to spend countless hours trying to trim and fit the old door to match the new opening. Instead, I simply block the bottom opening; spray down the opening with mold release compound, and lay in new glass and lots of resin, and viola! A new door with corners that fit EXACTLY!! Of course, it’s a bit more involved than that. I’ll report the success or failure of this procedure in the next update.





From The Archives #5: Venus Restoration Movies

22 02 2009

Hello all. Not much has been accomplished on the Venus, however I threw together some movies that recount my work on the car from 2003 to 2009. These are partially made up of video and photos. Each is about 5 minutes in length.

Part One is of the Engine and Chassis:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt6nNJEBfCY

…..and Part Two is of the Venus body:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdhPKlFdhJ0

These are Windows Media Files, and I don’ know how well they will play…still putzing around with the right bit-rate for webcast. I may have to resort to YouTube until I can get them on my own web server. The title sections have no audio; music and montage begins after the dip to black.

As always, thank you for your interest and I welcome your comments.

Patrick McLoad





Venus Update #7: Grille Work Continues

4 02 2009

I almost titled this post “Back On The Grill” because I was certainly feeling like a slab of beef on the backyard Weber….this grille just wasn’t coming together as easily as I had hoped. On the last update (#6, below), I had temporarily mounted the four grille blades. It was now time to tie them together as planned (see drawing in Update #6).

To begin with, I discovered that one of the blades was just a bit longer than the rest, which kinda threw everything off. Additionally, notice that the top blade doesn’t taper correctly to the ends, compared to correct blade at the bottom. Luckily, I had an alternate to replace it with. (These pieces are extremely difficult to find in decent shape!)

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Then after arriving at what I thought was good positioning, I had the middle sections tack welded together. Since I don’t own a good MIG welder, I had to clamp it all together and carefully take these over to the automotive shop for spot welds.

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I then  discovered my next problem: The center “toaster top” cover would not fit because the lower grille protruded outward too much (see photo showing this misalignment with arrows). To fix this, I had to alter the angle of the blades where they attached to the sides of the opening. As you can see, they were flat across the fiberglass surface. Adding a wedge (or even washers) would have cocked them backwards, but a wedge at this point would have simply looked wrong, not to mention the difficulty of machining a wedge out of steel or aluminum. No, that was not an alternative (and neither was changing the angle of the fiberglass surface).

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What I ended up doing was partially slicing the mounting tab; bending it in a bit; tacking it in place; then grinding off the excess (see illustration below). I did this on 3 of the blades just to get them as near perfect as possible. Changing the angle of the blades where they mounted effectively cocked them back to the correct position to where the front cover piece could now fit correctly. But since I had changed these angles, the center sections were now also at the wrong angles. So I had to grind off the tack welds; reposition and clamp the center sections, and take them back for yet another tack job.

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The next issue to face was that of getting the “rounds” to match up as best I could. This was going to require a lot of heat. I first manufactured a tool out of a sacrificial pair of vice grips to better grab and bent the red-hot sections.

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This really turned out to be quite difficult without a second pair of hands. Even at orange-hot, moving the pieces around took a lot of “persuasion”. I finally arrived at what was about as good as I was going to get it, at least for awhile….it still needs work as you can see. Again, I’m just not set up to do this kind of work. I am going to have to send this out to a pro to have all the gaps filled in and ground smooth to where it is one presentable piece. Naturally, it will be chrome plated when I get it as smooth as possible.

grille-center-wip

And speaking of smooth, recall in a previous update that I had manufactured some hinge arms for the Venus hood. They were really quite ugly so I sent them out to Steve Sellers of Sellers Equipped in California for smoothing and shaping. I wanted the rods to flow smoothly to the base. I had first learned of Steve’s work on the Jalopy Journal (one of my favorite websites), and knew he was the right guy to do this…and indeed, I was right. See the before and after photos of the hinge arms; they really turned out nice…even a work of art! He really did a great job!
(photos of the finish pieces courtesy of Steve Sellers)

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It is now early February and simply too cold to be doing any resin application. I do use a portable propane heater to make my garage bearable, but its still too cold for mixing resin…I don’t want to take the chance of applying a bad batch to the car. Perhaps I should start on the windshield posts which have to be made from scratch with only photographs to go by. These will probably be the single, most difficult parts to make for the Venus.

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Thanks for visiting!

Regards,
Patrick McLoad





From The Archives #4

16 01 2009
It’s mid-January and winter has finally arrived here in Houston. Although I have a bit of heat going into my attached garage along with a portable propane heater, the ambient temperature still hovers in the 55 to 60- degree range. It’s just too cool to be mixing resin at this temperature, and I don’t want to take a chance on applying a bad batch to the Venus body. Of course, I don’t have snow drifts around my house like those of you in the upper mid-west, so I’m thankful to be in Houston.

I thought I’d review some pics of the only other Venus known to be in existence, not but two hours from Houston. It belongs to Jack and Christy Kovar; a couple of really nice folks. As mentioned in my website, Jack’s dad “Eddie” was among the group that took over the mfg. rights of the Venus, the story of which you can read on the website. I have visited the Kovars a few times, and Jack was kind enough to allow me to borrow the original hood from his car to aide in the re-shaping of the one from from my car. Let me add that the Kovar family are a great bunch of folks, and I greatly appreciate their help and hospitality with this Venus project. My thanks to Jack, Christy, Gary, Edward Jr., and Shirley.

Around 1985, Jack purchased his Venus out of an Auto Trader type magazine. Here is that ad.

auto-trader-kovar-venus

According to documents, this  particular Venus was initially purchased from my Dad by Mr. Everett Carruth (Houston) on April 10th, 1980, or at least, the title is in my Dad’s name, and dated 10/30/79. I would not have thought that my Dad had a Venus in his possession at that late a date. Ed Carruth then sold this Venus to Jimmy Pond for $900 about a year later, on November 15, 1979. (As you may notice, there’s some confusion in regards to the years that this happened, as they over-lap on the documents). Then, Jack Kovar bought this Venus from a Mr. Bob Hill for $800 (not 2 grand) in May of 1985, presumably in response to the Auto Trader ad. 

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I don’t think Jack has done much to his Venus from the day of purchase as there is still no engine or transmission in the car (as per the ad). When I first went up to meet Jack and to view this body, I was hoping to find the original windshield posts and grille, but sadly that was not the case. His was a “later” version that had the ’55 Chevy grille, and, the windshield posts were nothing like what was on the early Venus bodies. But this begs a question or two: I had assumed that the change to the ’55 Chevy grille occurred AFTER my Dad had sold the mfg. rights, so what was he doing with a later-version vehicle as late as 1979 (as per the above title)? Could it be that he initiated this design change in 1955? Hard to say.

The photos below were taken on my initial visit in Sept. 2005. The body was in a dark barn and I hadn’t brought any additional lighting instruments with me. Jack does have the doors and hood; they just weren’t on the car when these photos were taken.
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This Venus (above) DOES have the same rear tail lights as the very early car that had the convertible top, (which was initially owned by D.Y. Gorman), however, D.Y.’s car had a large vent smack dab in the instrument panel, the other style grille, and different instrumentation (see below). After a very close examination of the tail lights from the two, I have determined that these are two different cars. The spacing of the lights on Jack Kovar’s car is different from the one below (see side-by-side comparison). By the way, I have learned from the good folks on the HAMB that these lights are from a 1955 or 1955 Dodge Coronet or Dodge Royal. 

convertible-top-venus-comp

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Below are some additional photos of the “other” Venus I took in June of 2007….the body had been moved outside under an awning. Let me state here that this Venus body is NOT for sale, so please don’t go poking around trying to find these people (not that you’d really want a project like this anyway).

The chassis is clearly of the ’49 Ford shoebox variety, however additional motor mounts and transmission supports have been welded in for what must have been a larger engine. A friend of this blog, Pat Johnston, informs me that the motor mounts resemble those used for a small block Chevy. Too bad someone felt the need to yank it back out. It shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to install any V8 onto the frame as there is simply tons of room in the Venus engine bay. Should Jack want to go back to an original flathead V8, then that may prove to be a little harder in finding a good one.

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Last, but not least, it is apparent that the Venus (above pic) had a continental kit on the back. Notice the shaved area in the center bumper area, and what looks like mounting holes for a bracket of some sort. I am almost positive that this is the same car that was in our garage during Hurricane Carla. It also appears that the spacing of the rear tail lights is identical. I do not know the date of the photo below. (The faint line on the rear quarter panel marks the water level from the hurricane’s flood.)

venus-post-carla 

So, that’s about it for now gang. I’ll be back with another update as soon as I can make some progress to report on.
Stay warm out there, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Best Regards,
Patrick McLoad








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