Sunday, July 29, 2012

V3.30 - The Story of Ms. Mayberry - Part 3

Picking up where we left off, with us going back to Mt. Airy and trying to get Ms. Mayberry on the trailer for the trip home, and finding a dead battery… Even though I was never a Boy Scout, I have always believed in being prepared so I went to my truck and took a 6 volt battery out of the back. I had used this battery in my 1934 Ford, but had recently changed that car to a 12 volt system, so this battery was sitting there waiting to be used elsewhere. Little did I know that it would be in a 1955 Ford Fairlane. When Mr. Mittman saw me take the battery out, he said, “Wow, you really did come ready for anything.” We put my 6 volt battery in Mrs. Mayberry, cranked her up, loaded her up, and headed for home.

The trip home was uneventful and once we got back, I put the car in the air and proceeded to give her a good once over. The brake cylinders were corroded, the exhaust pipes were rotted and the master cylinder leaked. Even the heater core was leaking onto the carpet. I replaced all the brake components (hoses, shoes, cylinders, etc) and bypassed the heater. It still ran kind of rough on take off, but I thought a good tune-up was in order. To my surprise, I took her down to get new exhaust pipes, and mufflers, installed and once those were in, she ran like a new car. The old mufflers had corroded and collapsed internally.

But Ms. Mayberry was on the road…July of 2003.

We put about 1000 miles on her and only had one real scare. On the way back home from a cruise in Union City, TN, she started running horribly, almost like on 2 cylinders. I thought we had broken a rocker arm or something internal in the engine. As we limped along, I decided to try the choke to see if the carburetor was plugged. Lo and behold, she perked right up and we made it back home fine. After getting home, I decided to rebuild the carburetor and in my “junk box” I found a carburetor that my dad had used on one of his dirt track stock cars back in the late 1950’s. It was exactly the right carb for Ms. Mayberry, so I rebuilt it and put it in. Boy, did that wake that big 272 cubic inch motor up! After a while I had to put in smaller carburetor jets, but that’s not surprising…Ms. Mayberry isn’t a race car. She is just a sweet old car that has found herself a new home with folks who appreciate her and who will enjoy making new family memories with her.

Next week- part 4.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

V3.29 - The Story of Ms. Mayberry - Part 2

Picking up where we left off, with Ms. Mayberry (a one-owner, 1955 Ford Fairlane, Town Sedan) getting banished to a garage for 10 years….Unfortunately, this was the same garage that she used for sheltering her cats. Sometime around 2001, Mr. Mittman bought the car from Mr. Harris’s daughter and took it down to his shop. Once there, the damage from the cat urine was evident. Some parts of the lower body and the chrome bumpers and guards needed attention. The most fortunate part of it was that the car’s windows were always up, so no cat ever got inside.

Mr. Mittman had the bumpers and accessory bumper guards re-chromed and the gas tank boiled out and ‘re-nued’ (which is an operation to coat the inside of the tank with epoxy). He had the front door upholstery redone because of wear around the door handles and did the bodywork necessary to be able to repaint the car in its original colors: Sea Sprite Green and Snowshoe White. Once he had the car looking good, he parked it alongside his shop and waited for the right folks to come by.

It looks like my wife and I were “the right folks” because after talking to Mr. Mittman, and hearing what his price for the car was, we decided to go back and take a closer look…and this time, we’d take the car trailer with us.

The third weekend of June, we made a quick trip back to Mt. Airy to seriously check the car out. Yes, we took the trailer with us. When we drove up to Mr. Mittman’s shop the car was sitting there running and I had to look twice at the turning fan blade to make sure…it was smooth. We got in it to take a test drive and started off down the street. At the first traffic light, I stepped on the brakes and the right front tire locked into a skid. That squealing tire sure made lots of folks sit up and take notice. Then, after taking off again, she stumbled a bit, like she might need a tune-up. We drove over to Ms. Starr’s house (the daughter of the original owner) and the brakes wouldn’t stop the car. Luckily, the parking brake worked ok, so we made it up her driveway just fine.

Ms. Starr came out and talked with us and told us of how many fond memories she had of being in the car with her folks. She even made the comment that my wife reminded her of her own mother getting out of the car. After a while, we decided we needed to get on the road, so we headed back to Mr. Mittman’s shop, to finalize the deal. Once we had completed the paperwork, we went outside to crank the car and put it on the trailer for the trip back to Jackson, TN…and the battery was dead.

Next week- part 3.
Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

V3.28 - The Story of Ms. Mayberry - Part 1

In honor of the passing of Andy Griffith on July 3rd, I decided it was time for a ‘detour’ this week. Tools are kool, but there are other things going on that you might want to read about.

On the 5th of June, 2003, my wife and I were on our honeymoon. We were cruising the backloads of Virginia and North Carolina, and we decided to visit Mt. Airy, NC…the real “Mayberry”…Andy Griffith’s hometown.

We toured the local museum and the “Mayberry” jail, and even had our picture taken with “Floyd the barber”. He was a cool old fellow and the wall in his shop – yes, he really is a barber – is just covered with pictures of people and celebrities who have been in there.

We started out of Mt. Airy, attempting to take route 601 South but unknowingly, I turned a block too early. As we headed down a hill toward an intersection, we passed an Auto Body Shop and noticed a long row of cars sitting facing the road. Among the cars was a really pretty 1955 Ford. It caught our attention, so we turned around and drove back to take a look. There was no “for sale” sign, but this Ford was looking real good. It had an unusual paint pattern on because the color was above the white. We had never seen that before. The chrome was nice, the paint did look sharp and the interior looked like it had just rolled out of the factory. We could tell that it was an original interior because of the small cigarette burns that occur when a smoking driver doesn’t quite get the cigarette out of the vent window and instead burns the upholstery. We checked it out for a bit and then got back in the truck and headed on our way.

Once home and back into the daily routine (if that’s even an accurate statement for newlyweds), I couldn’t get that ’55 off my mind. So, I called back to Mt. Airy and after a few days of talking to the Chamber of Commerce and several other area people, I was able to find out that Mr. John Mittman owned the Body Shop, and presumably the ’55.

After a few tries, I was able to talk to Mr. Mittman, who relayed to story of “Ms. Mayberry” (our new name for the ’55) to me. (Ed note: Mr. Mittman died in 2008) A fellow named Mr. Watson Harris had bought his car new, in 1955. Mr. Harris only drove it to church and to Florida once or twice over the 46 years that he used it. The car had only 56,300 miles on it when Mr. Harris passed away in 1991. Mr. Harris’s daughter put the ’55 into a one-car garage and left it there for the next 10 years.

Next week- part 2.
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

V3.27 - Rusty tools – what to do?

We got a good question from Donald in Lakeland, TN for this week (my, does our paper get around or what?). Donald says: “I don’t use my woodworking machines a lot, but when I do try to use them, they have a coating of rust on the tables. How do I stop that?” Hint: the more you use your tools, the less rust will be able to grow on them.

While I am tempted to just answer Donald’s question directly, I think you all might be better served by knowing what to do when you find the rust, then we can learn how to prevent it. First off is to clean the rust from the surface. How to do that really depends on how severe the rust is. For this column we’ll just deal with light surface rust. You can use fine or medium size steel wool, or a palm sander with 220 or 400 grit paper, or even wet or dry sandpaper and sand the rust off. My favorite method is to use a sanding block with 220 grit ‘wet or dry’ sandpaper and sprinkle a bit of nail polish remover (acetone) on the table and use that as the paper’s lubricant. Sand the whole table and then wipe the surface thoroughly with clean rags soaked in acetone. Once the surface is clean, dry the area very good…because now comes the ‘How do I stop that?’ part.

The ‘old school’ method is to coat a good rust-free surface with Johnsons paste floor wax and lightly buff it. Don’t remove all the wax, just try to make the coat spread evenly. The modern ‘hip’ method is to use a product called Boeshield T-9® (you can find it at Sears) and follow the directions on the package. CAUTION: Do NOT use automotive wax. Most of them have a high water content and will actually cause the rust you are trying to prevent.

On woodworking tool surfaces Boeshield T-9® recently topped all other surface treatments in Wood Magazine's article on “Rust Busters”.

The formulation is based on a unique combination of solvents and waxes and is designed to penetrate metal pores and dissolve minor corrosion, then leave a resilient waxy coating that lasts for many months.

During my years in Technical Service on woodworking machinery, we consistently recommended the paste floor wax and our customers had great success using it. It’s like a ‘tried and true’ method for preventing surface rust. Fortunately, I’ve heard so many good things about Boeshield T-9® that I am confident in it, also.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.