1927 Chandler Sedan
In 1972, I was sixteen years old and began a job as a Busboy in the restaurant at the Strongsville, Ohio Holiday Inn. The Innkeeper (and owner/franchisee) was a man named Lee Wolf. I was working the evening shift one night when Lee came back to the kitchen and introduced himself to me, asking if I had any experience with trailering antique cars. My dad’s trailer had a class three hitch and I had bound many cars to it over the previous seven years (with dad’s supervision, of course!).
Lee asked if I could help him retrieve a 1927 Chandler, from the restoration facility in Brainerd, Minnesota, that had just completed a new restoration. I told him that I would be glad to and when did he want to leave? (Thinking: “What day?”) Lee’s answer was: “In about an hour or so… when do you finish your shift?”
After clearing it with my parents and grabbing a couple changes of clothes, we were off on a nearly fifteen-hour, each-way, trip. Spending thirty hours in a car is a good way to get to know a person. Lee and I became close friends on that trip and continue to this day.
When we returned with the Chandler, there were still quite a few minor bugs that needed to be ironed out. Some were simple cosmetic items and other were a matter of properly breaking the engine. The one major problem that we continued to encounter was the car seemed prone to overheat.
We checked the flow in the water pump and radiator. We checked the ignition timing to see if we were running too far retarded. We checked valve clearances to see if our exhaust valves were too tight. None of this panned out to a reliable cause. However, I was convinced that there was some sort of obstruction in the water flow. The only way to confirm this theory was to remove the water jacket side-plate and inspect right up to the cylinder walls.
While Lee was a little hesitant to open up the side of an engine that had just been professionally restored, I was able to convince him that it was our only remaining option. He gave me the “green light” and I opened her up.
At age sixteen, when you are taking a man’s new toy apart, there can sometimes be a bit of nervous trepidation. I was nervous of being wrong, but continued anyway. I was so relieved when the side jacket came off to reveal a water distribution plate that was made of an old piece of poorly cut and fitted galvanized gutter. The holes were not properly aimed at the sides of the cylinder wall and they had not been drilled out; they were poked through the metal with a screwdriver.
Feeling exonerated, I quickly got out the trusty old Machinist’s Handbook and started learning some new math. I calculated how much larger each hole needed to be as the water temperature increased from the front to the back of the engine (away from the radiator). The warmer the water was; the larger the stream that was needed to carry the heat away.
The solution worked and I fabricated a much more precise distribution plate. It solved the problem and I now had my first restoration client. From that day on, I performed most of the servicing that was necessary on all of Lee’s cars (or at least until I left town to attend college).
From that time on, Lee and his family became like extended family to mine. We vacationed together, cooked out at home, volunteered to run events for the car clubs and attended all of each other’s important family milestones. Lee is now out of the Hotel business. He currently runs a collector car sales company known as Vintage Motor Cars (http://vintagemotorcarsohio.com) in Cleveland, Ohio. If you are ever in the market for top-notch iron, check out his website.