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Radio Antenna


My car had a factory radio antenna, that was a bit bent and didn't go up and down very well.  Also, in the down position, it still stuck out about 5 inches and was in the way for a car cover.

Since my radio conversion has a power-out for a power antenna, I bought a new power antenna and mounted it in place of the old one.  The new antenna came with an assortment of plastic escutcheon pieces with different shapes for different fenders.  I picked the one that was closest, and shaped the bottom of it with a grinder to match the factory antenna escutcheon piece.

Below are pictures of the result.



Antenna up
Antenna down


Mirror Installation


My car did not have any outside rear view mirrors when I bought it.  Before I painted the car, I tried a pair of clip on mirrors that attache to the edge of the door.  I didn't like these mirrors because they chipped the paint, and it was hard to get them tight enough to keep them from moving.  They also barely fit between the door and the door jamb, rubbing the paint on the jamb.

I'd seen the So-Cal Speed Shop mirrors on roadsters and some custom cars, and I liked they way the looked.  They have a period feel, and I think they look like they came with the car now that I have them mounted.

They easily mount on the door with a single hole, and a washer and nut inside the door.  Easy to get tight, and they don't move around.  They work on both doors too, and the passenger side can be seen from the drivers seat.  I mounted the passenger side first, to make sure I could view it from the drivers seat, and then matched that location on the diver's door.

If I were to mount them again, I might mount them farther forward on the doors so that they are viewed through the wing windows instead of the roll down windows.



driver's side mirror
passenger side mirror



Mirrors from the driver's seat

Grill Installation


My original grill has a couple of rock dings, and a small dent on the drivers side where the front fender was hit at some point in it's past.  I bought another grill on ebay that had dents on opposite sides, thinking I could piece one perfect grill from the two.  I found that there are dozens of spot welds hold the grills together though, and I decided to just use my original grill as is for now.

I bought a bunch of thin rubber washers at the hardware store to put between the grill and body, so that the grill wouldn't rub through the paint.  The grill was not mounted this way from the factory, and there was no protection between the paint and grill.



Grill and various trim bits installed

Glass installation


Installing the glass in the car was not as difficult as I had feared.  I wound up putting all of the glass in the car by myself becasue I didn't have any helpers on hand at the time...

All of the glass is original to the car with the exception of the windshield which I broke when I took it out, and the drivers door wing window which was broken when I bought the car.  The windshield was really easy to install.  I used a piece of cord around the gasket, held the glass and gasket in place from the inside, and pulled the cord to get the gasket over the lip on the body.

The rear window was not quite as easy as the windshield, but went in ok. 

Getting the stainless steel trim back on the car was another story, however...  The front was easier than the rear by far.  The rear took me almost 8 hours to get in place.  What I found was that in order for the stainless to fit onto the rubber, the glass had to be pushed outward quite a bit.  Not bending the stainless while trying to get it back into the groove in the rubber was very hard.  This part was probably the most frustrating part of the entire project...  It looks great now that it is on the car.

All of the stainless trim was polished before it was put back on the car.

The glass in the doors was straight forward, with new window chanel and whiskers.  I didn't change the rubber in the wing windows, as it is still in good shape.

Below are a few pictures of the glass.


windshield trim
windshield trim
grill mockup
rear glass
New glass installed.
Trim installation
Rear glass installed
 Trim installed
side glass
rear view
rear view
Side glass installed
Rear without stainless trim
Rear stainless trim installed


It has been over two years since I've updated the body and paint page!

Progress on the body to date has been a low priority due to getting the engine and transmission installed and running.  Now that these two big items are finally all but complete, I have re-installed the front fenders, bumpers, and head and tail lights.  The splash pans went back on with the bumpers too.  I bought one rechromed bumper on ebay and another from Bill Ward.  I didn't realize how bad my original bumpers looked until I put the new ones on...

I have not installed any of the new glass yet, but have had the new windsheild glass cut.  All of the other original glass will be reused as it is in good shape.  The rear glass rubber that I received from Steel rubber is the correct profile, but is too short to go around the glass.  They have graciously agreed to remake another for me, even though it has been several years since I bought it from them.

I have installed all of the door opening rubber, trunk rubber, and hood bumpers.  I still need to install the hood rubber windlace on the cowl, but haven't decided yet if I will glue it in place or nail it on like the original was.

As some of you may already know, the front fender to door rubber seal for the '49 and '50 cars is no longer available as a re-manufactured item from any of the major suppliers.  Bill Ward of http://www.oldplymouths.com tried for several years to get Steele Rubber to start making the seals again, but to no avail.  Since they aren't available and mu originals were completely disintegrated, improvisation was in order.  Bill had made a set for his car, and was happy with the way they turned out, so I had him make another set for my car.  In the process of trying to put them on, I had trouble getting the rubber to fit above the front fender, where the door needs to seal with the body.  I had seen a length of door seal rubber laying around my brother's shop, and wondered if it would be a better fit.  Sure enough, it worked very well, and almost looks like a factory install.  I used the hard rubber shim that Bill sent with his setup under the fender to space the fender the correct distance from the body.  I'm not sure what the rubber I found originally fit, but I think it was for a 40's or 50's Chevy.  It looks like the same profile as the door rubber on my '53 Chevy picup too.  See the pics below of the installation and a diagram of the rubber profile.

I have also installed all of the stainless trim on the car except the rear beltline and rear window pieces, which will go on after the glass goes in, one rear fender spear which I still need a NOS replacement for, and the stainless rockers.  I have polished all of the stainless, with a baldor buffer, and it is amazing how nice it looks.  All of the stainless on the car is original, except three of the fender spears and the rockers, and they were all dull and lifeless before the polishing.  After, they all look factory new with a nice mirror finish.  It took me about 30 minutes for each three for four foot length to get them looking new again. 

My original grill is still bent up from the old fender bender it had experienced in it's past life.  I have not found a nicer grill to replace it with, so I may have it repaired instead.  It will also need polishing too.

Below are a few pics of the progress thus far...


grill mockup
front clip re-installed with grill set in place.
passenger side
grill, you can see the bent bars on the drivers side...
 bumper installed, wtih headlights and turn signals in place.
trim and clips
trim and clips
trim and clips
all of the trim clips were sandblasted and painted.
trim and clips going on
I sealed the clips in the clip holes with silicone to keep water out of the doors.
 another view
another fender trim shot
fender seal diagram
fender seal
fender seal
another fender trim shot
scan of rubber profile and diagram of installation at door/fender
new rubber seal between front fender and door, glued in place with 3M Superweatherstrip adheasive.
fender to door seal with door closed.


Paint Update-

Well, the car has finally come home.  I'm very happy with the paint work done by Amero's Pinstripe and Paint.  The finish is like a mirror.  Its great to see the car looking like new.  Now it will be cool to start putting the stainless parts, lights, etc back on the car to bring it to life.  The first step will probable be the wiring, then the headliner, and then the glass.

Stay tuned...

loaded and ready to go
bungee cords to hold the trunk and hood closed.
I used rags to cusion the doors and hood, and put a piece of the original trunk rubber back on to keep the paint from getting rubbed.
 another shot before leaving the paint shop.
home at last!
notice the reflection of the speed limit decal on the trailer fender.
ready to unload
 now for the re-assembly....


Paint Update-

I'm amazed that it has been six months since I've updated this section of my website!
It's been a long process with my painter, but worth the wait.  And I have not had to store the car for almost a year!

Below are photos I took on a visit to see the color for the first time.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the color was exactly what I've been seeing in my head since I bought the car.  We did several trial and error paint samples through the mail (the paint shop is about 70 miles away), and finally hit the color I thought I wanted, but it was very hard to tell with a sample only 2" square.  The color I was trying to duplicate is the Factory 1950 Malibu Brown.  This is close, but not exact.  

There are only a few parts left to paint brown, the hood, trunk lid, and bumper splash pans.  Then the car will make it's journey on a car trailer back home.  I can't wait to see it come together now!

More to come.....

drivers fender
passenger front fender
rear doors
drivers rear
drivers front fender.  compare this with the earlier photo below.
 passenger front fender.  my painter thinks I should keep it this low....
 passenger side
 drivers rear quarter
drivers side
rear fender
drivers side
rear fender
passenger rear quarter
 rear passenger door

passenger rear fender


Paint Update-

Below are a few photos of the car and its misc. parts at the body shop, Amero's Pinstripe and Paint.  The body has been worked over, rust removed, and primed.  At the time of the photos a few of the fenders and doors, etc. had yet to be primed, but have now been done.  The color should start to be put on in the next week or so.  You can see how much work the drivers front fender needed, even with such a slight fenderbender.  The side of the fender had kinked out a bit, and was stretched enough that it had to be pie cut and welded back together to get it back into the right shape.  I'll post more photos after the paint color is sprayed.

doors fenders
rear doors
primed body
 front doors, rear fenders
 rear doors
 passenger front
drivers turn signal
drivers front


The following photo is of the car just after being loaded on a trailer to make the journey to the paint shop.  Eldon Amero of Amero's Pinstripe and Paint in Twin Falls, ID is going to do the paint for me, the only part of the project I'm not going to do myself.  I borrowed a trailer from a friend and towed the car to the paint shop just as a winter storm hit.  We got the car off of the trailer just as the wind and snow started.  It snowed six inches that afternoon and I was really glad to have gotten the car to Eldon's shop before it was too late.  I will get the car back sometime in February looking new in a shiney coat of Malibu Brown paint.  This is not the original color for the car (Palm Beige), so I am doing a complete repaint including the door jambs, firewall, and inner fenders under the hood too. 

Now that the car is at the paint shop I can focus on the interior as time allows.  I purchased a Sailrite walking-foot sewing machine to sew the upholstery fabric, as it was the most inexpesive walking-foot unit I could find at $429.00.  I searched for a used upholstery machine and the cheapest I found was over $1000.00.  This machine seems well made and should do the job.  Now I just have to get the fabric ordered.  I am going to take the original seats and door panels apart and use them as patterns for the new interior. 

I still have to get the engine painted and replace the gaskets too.  Another item to tinker on while I wait for the car to be painted.

Also, check out the photos of the radio rebuild done by Bob's Radio and TV on the Parts Page.

trailer trailer
loaded and ready
 loaded and ready


I've finished taking the car apart for the paint job, as the following photos show. 

I decided to go ahead and take the dash out too, as it was only eight more screws and i won't have to worry about it getting scratched or oversprayed.  Taking the dash out made it much easier to remove the wiper system, firewall insulation pad, and the cowl vent.  It was also the only way to take out the front edge of the door windlace, as they are pinched in between the body and dash sides. 

My cowl vent was really hard to open before I took it apart, and I assumed it was old dry grease in the handle linkage.  When I took it apart however, I discovered that the hinges were rusted solid, and that the frame was bending in order for the vent to open.  I hope a good soaking with penetrating oil will bring the hinges back to life.

As you can see from the photos, there is a bit of surface rust under the dash area as well as inside the roof of the car.  I think all of this is the result of the cowl vent seal going bad years ago and the resulting damage from condensation building inside the car from the water soaked into the floor mats and headliner insulation.

Overdrive update:  I decided to find another OD rather than try to modify the Dodge fluid drive unit that I had.  And Bill Ward of www.oldplymouths.com happed to get an e-mail from Vic Franco who wanted to sell one.  It is on its way from Arkansas now, and I should get it in a week or so.  I'll post a photo of it when it arrives.  Thanks Bill!

Radio update:  I sent my model 604 radio that I found on e-bay to Bob's Radio and TV for am AM/FM stereo upgrade.  I should be getting it back in the mail any day.  Dan, the owner (who's Bob anyway?) converted the old tone button to toggle AM/FM/CD.  It is also now a four channel speaker system.  The fader, balance, bass, and trebble controls are mounted on the side of the unit, out of site.  The appearance of the stock radio face is unchanged asside from a small LED to indicate what mode is on.  I'll post photos when I get it back.

More to come, stay tuned...    Pete

front stripped engine bay inside cowl dash
front ready to go
 engine bay
 inside without dash

inside cowl vent inside roof inside roof interior
cowl vent inside
interior roof
interior roof
interior from back window


At last, an update!  I haven't done much to the car in the last three months. I've only spent a couple of days on the project, here and there.  The following photos show the rest of the body stripped and ready for the painter.  I thought the stainless was going to be harder to get off of the car than it was,  it came right off.  The windshield and rear glass came right out too, as the rubber was still pliable enought to come out without cutting it.  I still have to take out the headliner and windlace around the doors, as well as remove the grill from the front clip, and I will be ready to take the car to the painter. 

I wasn't sure if I wanted to take the rear window out, as the rubber looked pretty good.  So did the trunk seal, but when I took it out, there was a bunch of surface rust under it.  When I saw the rust there, I went ahead and took out the glass.  I found surface rust in the bottom corners of the window frame too.  Now that all of the glass is out, I can take care of it before the car is painted. 

Another area of rust that reared its ugly head is under the rubber seals that are between the leading edge of the front doors and the front fenders.  Luckily for me, it is only surface rust and will quickly be subdued with Por-15.  According to Bill Ward, progress is happening at Steele Rubber on reproducing these rubber parts, but not anytime soon.  I'm not sure what I'm going to substitute here, but I'm going to improvise since the new seals probably won't be ready before I put the car back together (I think...)

drivers side passenger side fender well trunk
drivers side
 passenger side
 rea fender well

rear window window rust passenger rust drivers rust
rear window
rear window rust
passenger cowl rust
drivers cowl rust




I decided to pull the front clip and the engine/tranny.  I was lucky with the nuts and bolts that hold it all together.  They all came off without effort.  I was expecting to break or strip several and them be mired in fixing them.  I was really worried about getting the manifold nuts and bolts off, but none of them were even tight, and the hardest one, at the rear of the block, was already off.  Now if I can just get those spark plugs out.

I followed Bill Wards editorial on removing the front clip, from his website www.oldplymouths.com, and had no problems finding the bolts.  One thing to mention though, is the cardboard heater duct.  I detached it from the heater and left it on the firewall.  When I lifted the clip off, found that it is neccessary to lift the clip up to clear the inner fenders over the upper a-arms.  The top of the inner fender hit the cardboard duct and bent it up and out of the way, tearing it a bit at the firewall.  Next time I will take the duct out completely first.

I spent just over six hours whittling and chipping the dirt caked grease off of the engine and frame.  I'd forgotten how tough this stuff is!  And after 51 years there was a lot of it, about enough to fill a five gallon bucket.  I put the engine in the back of my '53 chevy truck and took it to the car wash and blasted it long enough to get the bulk of the greasy mess off.  I then used oven cleaner to dissolve the rest.  I will still have some spot cleaning to do when I remove the oil pan, timing chain cover, side covers, and tranny. 

My next step is to replace the  engine seals once I get them in the mail.  At the same time I will degrease all of the engine parts and paint them the original siver color or black.

I am going to take the oil pan off and see whats lurking in the bottom.  Also I will check the water distribution tube and see if it needs replacing.  At the car wash, I put the spray nozzle in the block drain cock and pumped the water jacket full of water unitll it ran clear, but the water that came out was like dirty chocolate milk.  I hope the distribution tube is a brass one and doesn't need to be replaced.

clip clip off clip off
front clip
driver's side
passenger's side
 dirt, dirt, dirt....
engine engine out engine cavity cleaning up
just a tad more...!
ta dah!
now for scrubbing...
back from carwash



I haven't decided whether to take the front clip off of the car now or not, I think it would be much easier to get the manifolds off  with the clip out of the way.  I am also thinking about pulling the engine/transmission for the tranny swap, so that I can really clean the engine and paint it.  I have an engine paint kit from POR-15.  Other than cosmetics, there isn't a pressing reason to pull the engine.  The problem is I don't know where to stop with the dissasembly.  If the engine is out, then maybe I should change the water distribution tube, etc, etc.....

More to come.......


The rusty floor:

When I bought the car, I didn't think that the rust was that bad, but after pulling up the floor mat, I saw what was really there.  The original floor mat was a rubber mat with a horse hair pad on the back, which held about a gallon of water at any given time.  Luckily there is not any rust in the trunk or body, and was only in the floor.

As you can see from the photos, there were a few holes about the size of siver dollars, lots of little holes along the inside edge of the rockers, and the body mount bolt head wells were all but gone.  Also, the floor access panel lower edge was rusted back about 2 inches, and the old felt gasket was holding the screws on the car.  Luckily, the edge of the floor under the felt gasket wasn't completely gone and I was able to rebuild it.  These photos were takenafter I scraped all of the original coating off, wire brushed with a drill and wire wheel and vacuumed all of the debris.

rusty floor rusty floor rusty floor
drivers side front
passenger side front
drivers side rear

I used POR-15 products to repair the floor, and was very pleased with the minimal effort involved and the outcome of the finished product.

The first step (after removing any loose scale and cleaning) is to spray the metal surface with Metal Ready, which neutralizes the rust and leave a zinc-like coating on the metal.  The Metal Ready needs to stay wet for about 20 minutes, and then gets hosed off with water.

Once Dry, the metal is ready for the POR-15 rust preventive paint.  I simply brushed on the paint, and used the fiberglass cloth to cover the larger holes.  the fiberglass cloth is layed into the wet paint and saturated with another coat of paint. 

Once the paint was dry, I used the POR-15 putty to fill the holes covered by the fiberglass from the bottom of the floor.  I used an abrasive wheel to scuff the paint where I put the putty, and used the  putty to fill all of the little holes in the floor.  Once the putty had cured, I painted it with another coat of the paint.

Next I sprayed the entire floor with ruberized undercoat (from the hardware store).  I put on 4 coats, for uv protection and sound damping.

The final step is to paint the underside of the floor to completely seal the metal and prevent any future deterioration.

putty rear floor  
drivers front with putty
passenger front
rear with undercoat



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