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This is Miami at dawn…

By Brian Turner, contributing editor

Restoring classic cars and trucks is a fun hobby that can be profitable as well. However, there is a danger involved in restoring these classics. When they were manufactured, people knew a lot less about the dangers of certain hazardous substances. Many materials used in the manufacture of classic cars and trucks can lead to severe health problems when individuals are exposed to them. The following is a guide to the dangerous substances that people need to be aware of when they are restoring vintage automobiles.
Perhaps the scariest substance found in old classics is asbestos. Asbestos is used in old brake pads, drums and clutch plates. It was used for its fire resistance. However, exposure to asbestos is now known to cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an extremely deadly form of lung cancer. It is imperative that restorers exercise caution when working with classic cars. Oftentimes, 15% of the dust found around the wheels and brake pads of vintage automobiles is made from asbestos! It is best to always wear a dust filter mask when working, as well as using a shop vac to suck up as much as the harmful dust as possible.
Another scary chemical found in older cars is lead. Exposure to lead can have serious health consequences, including brain damage, nervous system damage, kidney problems, reproductive health issues, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Lead is found in the electrical connecting areas of most classic cars. Also, many times lead was used as a filler for cracks and dents in body work on older automobiles. All that lead in the body of a car is released into lead dust when restorers sand the body. Again, the best protection against lead exposure is to always wear a protective dust mask when working on an older automobile.
Many of the older paints used contain toxic substances as well. Cadmium was the chemical of choice to achieve the color yellow back in the good old days. Unfortunately, exposure to cadmium can be fatal in a very short period of time. The lungs absorb cadmium particularly effectively, so it is again imperative to work with a proper dust mask at all times. Lead chromate is also found in some older paints.
As well as the chemicals used in the manufacturing of older vehicles, they accumulate nasty chemicals over the course of their life. Dirt, oil and grease collect around the engine, drive shaft, transmission and axles. This dirt, oil and grease compound is full of nasty chemicals. Restorers should protect themselves at all times with proper safety gear. Wearing latex gloves and a proper dust filtration mask will prevent exposure to toxic chemicals, lowering the risk of health problems down the road.

AsbestosCars-infogrpahic

Work in progress.

My old truck is in good shape. It runs exceptionally well and I can drive it anywhere, anytime.

It took a long time and a great deal of money to get it where it is but I have to say that the work is not finished. I need to install an air conditioning system (after all, I live in South Florida…). I would like to have a better front suspension, electric windows and door locks, better seats and so on.

Depending on who you talk to, a classic car or old truck may be considered a money pit or a work of art. Not necessarily like a painting that the artist finishes and sells, nor like a music masterpiece that is ready to be played by a great orchestra.

No, a classic car or old truck is a work of art that is always being improved, unless you have lots of money to spend and can hire the specialists to do what you want.

Well, even if you have money and can hire a good restorer your classic car or old truck may never be finished. Let me tell you a sad story.

I have a friend who has a 1952 GMC truck that is sitting in a warehouse for over 12 years! It is not abandoned or anything. In fact, it is being worked on by a restorer, a great artist who really takes his time to do his thing.

The truck’s body has been fully restored and painted and it looks great. The engine is there and so are the transmission and every other part of the drive train. But there is no glass, no seats, no dashboard, no cargo bed and a lot of other things.

Twelve years and the work is far from finished. 

What do you think? Is this an unfinished work of art in progress or a money pit?

Drive it or hide it?

I have a neighbor who owns a 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck that is absolutely beautiful. His truck is chopped down and sits very low to the ground. The door handles were removed and you open the door by touching a button tucked away under the door. Many other changes were made to the truck and, as I said it is beautiful.

To give you an idea of the care he took in the restoration, even the transmission housing is finished in chrome! His seats are upholstered in real leather and the air conditioning is as cold as it can get. The truck has a 350 cid V8 engine, automatic transmission, front disc brakes, power rack and pinion steering and so on. Wonderful!

But his truck is kept hidden inside his garage. He never goes anywhere with it and says he dreads the idea of going to a shopping center or any other parking lot with his truck because the other cars would damage it. He would never put his truck for public viewing in a car show because he says people would damage the paint with their fingernails and their belt buckles. He doesn’t like driving on the road either, because of possible damage by pebbles or other flying debris… So, the truck is pretty much invisible. It’s like those very rich art collectors who hide their precious pictures for nobody to see or touch.

I respect the way he thinks, mainly because this is a free country. But I don’t like what he says about my truck. He tells everybody that my 54 Chevy pickup is a piece of junk!

Look at the picture below and tell me what you think.

Camera 360

Here is a good deal if you are on the market for a nice project truck. It’s a 1938 International pick-up truck that you can have for US$ 3,200.

1938 International_1 1938 International_2
1938 International_3 1938 International_4

Restoration of a truck like this is not easy but it can become a real jewel. This particular truck is said to have very little rust and solid floors, which is very rare. Its six cylinder is not running but it turns and may be restored.

Look for more pictures and information about this truck by clicking here.

If ever you had to look for GM truck parts you certainly know of Jim Carter Truck Parts, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of parts for Chevrolet and GMC light trucks made between 1934 and 1972. The company is located in Independence, Missouri.

Well, among other things, Mr. Carter owns a salvage yard full of great looking classic trucks, a place that he calls “a hidden treasure”. There are hundreds of trucks there and one of my wishes is to visit the place someday, if Mr. Carter will allow me.

In the meantime, I can only show you some of the pictures I found in their Website. You can pay a virtual visit to the salvage yard by clicking here.

These are some of the photos I’ve chosen to show you. Click on the picture to see it expanded.

jim_carter_1 jim_carter_2
jim_carter_3 jim_carter_4
jim_carter_7 jim_carter_6
jim_carter_5 jim_carter_8

Creating more space.

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I have a problem of space in my truck, because the cab is too small. If I am travelling by myself this isn’t much of a problem because I can use all the space on the passenger side of the cab. But even then, if I have to carry stuff that I would rather hide away, I can’t do it. Only small things can be hidden behind the seats, since I removed the original tank from inside the cab and installed it under the cargo bed. And if somebody travels with me I will have to put everything in the cargo bed.

Most of the things I carry on my trips cannot just be thrown in the bed. If I have to stop for lunch or a bathroom break, how will I protect this stuff? Anybody can steal the thins I put there…

The solution I found was to install a crossover cargo box on my truck bed. Now I have more space and the things I carry are hidden and locked away. And I was fortunate enough to find a box that looks good and matches my truck color.

The spare tire which was attached to the right side of the bed, in the vertical position is now horizontally bolted to the floor of the bed, under the crossover box.

In case you are wondering, this box was made by Delta Consolidated Industries, of Jonesboro, AK and I purchased it at Pep Boys.

Camera 360   Camera 360

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