Category Archives: old things

Yet more bearings…

Dodge on jacks? It must be Saturday.

Driveshaft bearings of one sort or another have been an ongoing theme this summer, and in each case what seemed simple and straightforward has been anything but.  First came the boat, and I’m happy to report the special-order bearings from Fort Lauderdale Propeller have been machined to our specs and are currently in transit. But in the meantime a quick inspection of the Dodge revealed that after 19 years, the main driveshaft bearing was due for replacement. And since the truck is essential for hauling tools and parts back and forth to the boat, we really can’t work on the boat unless we work on the truck first. But this one should be quick and easy… or so we thought.

In truth, we have no one to blame but ourselves. When we bought this truck back in 1992, we ordered it with a few non-standard features. Rather than the V8, which only came with an automatic, we went with the V6 and 5 speed manual. Four-wheel drive seemed an unnecessary expense, but we opted for the posi-traction rear. We added the heavy duty tow package, which beefed up various parts to handle the additional load. Anti-lock brakes were just coming on the market, and we went with that as well, along with cruise control and a few (very few) amenities.  Little did we know we had created a monster.  All these years later, whenever we need to replace some standard part, nothing matches what a 2 wheel drive V6 Dakota of this vintage should contain. Our little Dodge is a hodge-podge of parts intended for the V8, the 4 wheel drive, and in some cases, a full-size Ram.

Below: Exhibit A. Note the original driveshaft bearing, (Bottom) slightly toasted and mis-shaped after utilizing a torch and chisel to separate it from driveshaft. Notice that the ‘identical to original’ replacement in the box bears no resemblance to what we removed. Further investigation revealed the old bearing matches those used on the much larger Ram.

Exhibit B.  The driveshaft universal joints were getting stiff, so we figured we’d swap them out while the driveshaft was out. What isn’t immediately apparent in this photo is that while they should all be the same size, they aren’t.

Original universal joints – not what the parts books claim. By now we should be used to this.

Coming together at last, though not without the usual modifications. Of course, a job we thought would be wrapped up by lunch dragged into Sunday, at which point it was pouring on a biblical scale that had roads closed and rail lines shut down due to flooding.  (Update: the news reported 11 inches of rain fell over a 24 hour period. ELEVEN inches!)  And where are we? In the driveway, on our backs under the truck, reinstalling the driveshaft. But the truck is once again back together, which means we can now turn our attention back to the boat. And now that the engine room is wide open, we can pull the transmission, strip down and clean the engine, replace the motor mounts, belts, hoses, thermostat, fuel lines, oil lines, oil cooler, trans fluid cooler, heat exchanger,  solenoids, zincs,  drive damper plate, relocate the fuel-water separator, replace the cutlass and rudder bearings, rebuild the steering yet again, and by time we’re done with all that it should be cool enough to start rebuilding /fiberglassing  the salon ceiling/ bridge deck.

This, kind readers, is the fun of life with an old truck and an even older boat. And it is why ‘weekend’ and ‘relax’ are not synonymous in my vocabulary.

From the Archives: 1977 32′ Cheoy Lee Trawler

1977 cheoy lee 32 trawler

If you haven’t figured out from previous posts, I collect old postcards and vintage boat advertisements. Oddly, I’ve found it easier to track down ads dating from the twenties clear through to the fifties for Wheeler Yachts, yet it took ages to find this lone ad for a 1977 Cheoy Lee 32′ trawler. But considering only a handful of these ‘chunky’ (yes, that was the very word I used the first time I saw Annabel Lee, and it turns out to be the very same word the shipyards chose for their ads,) boats were ever built, I suppose it makes sense.

Click on the image, and then click on what opens, and you can read all the fascinating fine print.

Who knew?!

One of the things I love about my old Dodge pickup is the familiarity. I’ve been driving that truck since I was in my twenties, and I know every inch of it so well I often joke I could drive it with my eyes closed, though that isn’t really an advisable approach. All the same, lately  it was getting pretty dark inside the cab. Over the last few years more and more bulbs within the dashboard were burning out, which is understandable after eighteen plus years of illumination. But it was getting downright dim, so we finally decided to open the dash and replace the dead ones.

Ultimately we replaced all nineteen, burned out or not, considering the likelihood that any still operable ones were probably on their last days.  But aside from finding a loose screw between the gauges that appears to have fallen in there before the truck even left the factory, the Dakota had one more surprise in store. I’m driving along today and somewhere around 2000 rpm I see a green triangle light up on the tach, apparently to inform me it was time to shift.  In eighteen years, over 118,000 miles and more shifts than I could ever begin to calculate, that arrow had NEVER lit. Perhaps that bulb had been bad since day one, or perhaps it wasn’t in its socket properly. All the same, the Dodge has an ‘Upshift’ light.

It just goes to show, new surprises can lurk in the last place you’d ever expect them.

From the Archives: 1958 43′ Wheeler Sport Fisherman “Boma”

1958 Wheeler sport fisherman

I came across this advertisement for this magnificent 43′ Wheeler a little while back. The copy reads:

Boma is the roomy, seaworthy 43’ Wheeler Gulfstream Sport Fisherman built by the Wheeler Yacht Co. for Alberto Adura of Havana. She has fast, clean lines. Her low freeboard aft is ideal for fishing. Below: Her spacious teak cockpit, flying bridge and wide side decks are evident. The semi-enclosed salon has three section aft drop curtain with zippers and plastic inserts, convertible dinette, wide hinged settee and cabinets for Hi-Fi and radiotelephone. The boat is powered by two 4-71 GM turbo diesels.

*BOMA* A Wheeler 43’ Sport Fisherman

Latest addition to the fleet of seaworthy, modern boats built by the Wheeler Yacht Co. of Clason Point, New York 72 N.Y., is his 43-foot Wheeler Gulfstream Sport Fisherman owned by Alberto Adura of Havana, Cuba. She is powered by two 4-71 GM turbo-diesels, draws 3’ of water and has a 13’3” beam.

In accommodations the boat has crew quarters for two and a private stateroom with bath. The cabin is air condition. Convenience is enhanced by the large closets and stainless galley.

In fact, comfort was kept uppermost throughout the boat. The dual control flying bridge has a swivel steering seat. In the spacious teak cockpit there are two fishing seats with reversible back rests. In addition, two Rockaway sail fish chairs are provided.

Flush fish tanks and live well have been installed. Other fishing accessories include outriggers, gin pole, belly rail and fishing mast with lookout seats.

Special equipment includes electric refrigeration with “hold over” plates, Monel fuel and water tanks, 65 watt Ray Jefferson radiotelephone, Kelvin and White compass, Bendix automatic steering, Onan auxiliary generator, Surrette batteries, Hi-Fi, Sperry engine contro.s, Bendix depth recorder, engine alarms, Groco bilge and auxiliary pumps and a La Marche Constavolt.

All I can say is they just don’t build ’em like they used to.

From the archives: 1944 PT Boat…

1944 PT Boat

One of my favorite vintage boating ads: Mobiloil Marine products, 1944.

Scandalized in Atlantic City…

Atlantic City Inlet 1904 New Jersey PostcardOver the years I’ve acquired a few vintage postcards from New Jersey; they’re charming time capsules both visually and by the amusing little messages they share.  This is easily one of my favorites,with two graceful gaff-rigged sloops under sail and three more waiting scandalized at the dock.

Scandalized? Did they do something immoral or shocking? Absolutely not. But reducing sail area of by lowering the gaff or raising the boom is known as scandalizing. As I understand it the expression originated from the term ‘scantelize’, from scantle or ‘make small’. See? You never know what you might learn on my blog.

The other amusing detail on this card is the message. Look close and you can read, “My dear little boy –  I hope you are being a very good boy and having a nice time. Be good to Mildred – Mother”

It sounds to me like mom got away for a few days and left Junior at home.

Fun and affordable things to do in New Jersey…

Years ago I discovered a fun and surprisingly cheap way to spend a day, one that has left my family with years of memories and a few rather durable souvenirs. This was back when my daughter was smaller and all things prehistoric fascinated her beyond compare, and while she enjoyed museums I knew she might enjoy something a bit more ‘hands-on’.  That’s when I discovered an amazing but little known detail about certain regions of New Jersey: they’re brimming with Late Cretaceous era (that’s roughly 67-74 Million Years Old) fossils!  And not ‘bake in a desert with picks and brushes’ fossils, but wade in shady ankle deep brooks and pick them right up fossils. Yes, readers, it’s true. Spots such as Big Brook, Ramanessin Brook and surrounding brooks in Monmouth County, right off the Garden State Parkway, will provide small (and not so small) children more fossils than they’d ever imagine. The majority of these fossils are shark teeth and other marine fossils exposed as the brooks and creeks cut down into the fossil beds, revealing an ever-changing layer. It’s a wonderfully cool way to spend a hot summer day, peaceful and tranquil aside from the squeals of “I found another one!” and I can promise it will become a favorite tradition, one your children will remember even after they’re grown.

The only ‘tools’ we brought were plastic colanders picked up in the grocery store and large serving spoons for scooping river gravel into the colanders. Half the time we didn’t even need them, we spotted fossils right in plain view.  As with sea-shells and beach glass, the rule was we would each only take our five favorite treasures home, the rest were returned to the brook. Do use caution as some areas of these streams can become deep… just stick to the shallows, that’s where you’ll find the most. Bring a small first aid kit, there are overhanging branches and there can be sharp bits in the gravel and an occasional, unfortunate piece of broken glass. My advice: Wear comfy old sneakers you don’t mind mucking up, jeans to protect your legs and a tee shirt. Don’t forget your bug spray, some towels and a change of dry clothes for the trip home.

There are a number of resources online to guide you both in where and how to look and to identify what you’ve found.
For more information, here’s a start: