Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | August 20, 2014


The collection of cars has changed over the summer, and it has became necessary to reflect those changes on the site. The biggest difference is a movement of the collection from all Chevrolets to an inclusion of muscle cars from other GM divisions.

This slight redirection started with the acquisition of the 1969 GTO Judge last fall and has continued with the addition of a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30 earlier this summer.

The Judge Has a new running mate.

The Judge Has a new running mate.

The site has been updated with a new banner that shows all of the cars in the current collection. Also included are descriptions of the new additions, of which the latest is a 2015 Corvette Sting Ray comvertible.

2015 Stingray Convertible

2015 Stingray Convertible

Stay tuned, and enjoy the changes.

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | April 16, 2014


Phase III-Enjoyment

After a winter of working on the Judge, Gene and I took the car out for a ride on a beautiful late winter day.  Gene brought his camera and took photos at four of Hilton Head’s many scenic locations.  The following gallery of photographs were taken at Land’s End, Coligny Beach, The Crossings Boat Launch, and Hudson’s.  Please enjoy.








































Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | April 15, 2014


Phase II-Engine Compartment, Wheels, and Trunk

The Judge engine compartment was complete, but dirty and greasy from years of use. First on the engine refreshing  list was cleaning and de-greasing all oily components and wire brushing and sanding the remaining pieces.

To make the job easier we first removed the alternator and brackets, valve covers, distributor, coil, battery and tray, carburetor, plug wires, washer reservoir, and belts.  We also removed all of the underhood components of the Ram Air III system and the air cleaner base.   Remaining portions of the engine compartment were carefully masked to prevent over spray during repainting.


The first areas addressed included sanding, priming and then painting the exposed frame members in a fresh coat of chassis black.  Next came painting the bottom of the hood in underhood black and the fan blades in semi-gloss black.  The largest components to deal with, the engine block, heads, and intake were thoroughly cleaned and painted in Pontiac engine blue followed by the exhaust manifolds receiving a fresh coat of high temp cast iron gray.  Finally, we gave the master cylinder a thin coat of cast iron paint and touched up the steering gear.  The fire wall and fender liners were cleaned and deemed very acceptable in their un-restored condition.

While out of the car, I painted the Ram Air III components in underhood black, and the alternator brackets and battery tray in semi-gloss black.  To preserve the correct look of the alternator, I masked everything but the cast casing and then gave it a light coat of flat aluminum paint.  I also cleaned and polished the original chrome valve covers.

Gene and I then reassembled all of the parts that had been removed and found special joy in the Ram Air III components. Installation of those pieces required the moves of a contortionist.  In the process we purchased new flapper bushings and a new flapper control cable.  We repainted the accelerator spring in the correct blue color (different than engine blue), and re-installed the refreshed carburetor and linkage.  Lastly, we replaced the distributor cover and installed new plug wires.

Two components missing from the engine were the exhaust heat shroud and riser pipe to the air cleaner base.  To maintain our devotion to originality, I ordered the parts from Ames Performance and we installed them on the engine.  I also ordered a new foam hood sealer and placed it on the repainted air cleaner base.

After getting everything back together, we turned the ignition switch and were rewarded with the throaty sound of a fine running 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8.  The refurbished engine compartment looked great and the car ran super.




When I purchased the car the Rally II wheels had the correct JA stamps and February 1969 date codes.  The prior owner, however, had installed trim rings on the outer portion of the wheels. Although the “beauty rings” looked good, Judges came from the factory without the rings.  In fact, their absence was part of the classic Judge appearance.

Unfortunately the trim rings had left scratches in the wheels that had to be sanded down to bare metal.  After sanding, the inner part of the wheels and the tires were masked and the outer portion of the wheel was primed and sanded.  The final process involved painting the Rally IIs in correct Argent Silver paint.  The finished product looked factory fresh, and the bare look of the wheels grew on us as time passed.



The last item on the winter agenda involved cleaning and repainting the trunk.

The trunk work began with removing the spare tire, jack components, tail light housings, and trunk mat.  Close inspection of the trunk floor showed it to be in very good shape.  Before painting could begin it was necessary to clean, wire brush, and sand all the areas of the trunk that would be painted.

Before painting could begin, however, we needed to mask holes in the rear trunk wall behind the rear seat and the underside of the package shelf.  Had I crawled into the trunk and masked those areas myself, I may not have been able to get out.  Fortunately I was able to recruit my very limber 25 year old niece to take care of the difficult masking.  She did a good job, and we were soon ready to apply the correct black/aqua spatter paint trunk finish.


The painting initially went fine, but an oily substance soon appeared through the new paint on the floor areas that were previously covered by the mat.  Closer inspection showed a tarry coating that may have been a sound deadener or adhesive for the trunk mat.  No amount of sealing and repainting worked, so it became necessary to remove all of the petroleum based substance before painting the floor.  It was not the most enjoyable part of the restoration, but it eventually turned out fine.  A finish coat of clear sealer over the spatter paint completed the trunk restoration.

Before replacing the jack and base into the trunk, I cleaned and painted them the correct Pontiac blue jack paint.  I don’t know why Pontiac chose blue for those components, but, again, in the interest of accuracy, I painted them them the correct blue color. Finally, I replaced the original trunk mat with a new one and installed the spare tire.  The trunk turned out great.

Our winter’s work was now complete.  It was time to ship the car back to Ohio and have a summer’s worth of enjoyment.


Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | January 31, 2014



A week or so after arriving at our winter destination, I had the Judge shipped down from home.  It was time to tackle the list of small items that would make the car a quality restoration.

Fortunately, a short time before the car arrived, Gene, my car knowledgeable friend from last winter’s Camaro project, also arrived. Gene had proven to be a invaluable addition whose considerable skills were very welcome.  My impression, mostly gathered from his wife, was that Gene also looked forward to our afternoon sessions.

We decided to first tackle the balky driver’s side headlight door.  After removing the two piece grille, we removed the vacuum hoses and checked for correct vacuum.  Moving the headlight switch between the on and off positions showed seventeen inches of vacuum alternating between the two hoses.  It was clear that the problem was in the actuator, so I ordered a new actuator from Ames Performance.

While waiting for the actuator, we tackled the non-functioning backup lights.  In order to pass the annual Pennsylvania inspection, the previous owner had installed a toggle switch under the dash to activate the lights.  Although this may have been an acceptable way to get through the test, it was certainly not what the factory delivered.  Since it was much easier to work on the car on the lift, I purchased the correct switch and installed it on the transmission before the car was shipped from home.

Our job now was to wire the new switch.  After carefully checking the car’s wiring diagram and field testing the chosen wires, we ran them under the carpeting and connected the backup light switch into the circuit.  With the ignition in the on position, we checked the operation of the switch and found that it worked great when manually pushing in the plunger.  With a little adjustment of the switch, we were able to get it working as designed when the transmission was shifted into reverse.


The original kick panels on the car were brittle and had been further damaged during removal for painting the door jambs.  I ordered new ones, and, while waiting, went on line to get advice on installation.  Unfortunately, to my surprise, nearly all of the posts on the subject spoke rather negatively of the whole experience.  This apparently wasn’t going to be a lot of fun.

After receiving the new panels and gathering sufficient courage, we decided to tackle the passenger’s side first.  That one appeared to be the more straight forward and the easier of the two.  We felt it was important not to destroy our confidence this early in the restoration.

The first step was to remove the grille that covers the air opening.  It easily snapped out and exposed five screws that held the kick panel to the car.  After removing the screws, it was necessary to detach the two cables that control the upper and lower vents. After successfully disconnecting the cables, we removed the panel.  What should have been fairly straight forward ended up being quite a struggle.  The air vent opening had been very heavily sealed with a tar-like adhesive/sealer.  It took a considerable amount of pulling and twisting and ultimately breaking the old panel into pieces to finally get it out.  All of our frustrations were compounded by the need to contort ourselves to get to the kick panels.  Hindsight being 20/20, it would have been a good idea to remove the passenger’s seat before tackling this part of the project.

After cleaning the caked sealer from the body, we coated the area with silicon adhesive/sealer and reversed the removal process. With a little twisting and pushing we were able to get the new kick panel positioned properly.  It was now time to take on what was clearly the more difficult of the two panels.

The on-line discussions had indicated that, when replacing  the driver’s side kick panel, it would be a good idea to first remove the parking brake pedal and the dimmer switch.  After dutifully following that advice, and removing the driver’s seat, we still had to tear the old panel into pieces to get it out.  The old adhesive/sealer was a formidable obstacle in removal.

Replacing the driver’s kick panel proved to be little more problematic than the passenger’s side.  Even with the parking brake and dimmer switch out of the way, it was a struggle to get it to pop into place.  With silicon adhesive on our bloodied hands, and with impure words emanating from our mouths, we finally got the panel into place.  The next car chosen for restoration will have good kick panels to start with.


The new headlight door actuator arrived while we were working on the kick panels, and we immediately installed it and replaced the grille.  The headlight doors worked just as they were intended.  Our confidence and enjoyment had returned!  Now it was time to move on to the other items on our list.


Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | January 13, 2014


Every once in a while a conversation with friends over a beer will lead to automotive enlightenment.  Such was the case a couple of days ago when the subject of the recent advances in automotive parking technology came up.

One of our threesome stated that such technical wizardry was nothing new.  He  informed us that a system was devised in the ’50s that did much the same.  Being the self proclaimed car expert in the group, I doubted the authenticity of his memory, but decided to look it up on my i-phone.

Like they say, if it’s on the internet, it has to be true.  So, sure enough, here it is.  Enjoy.

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | January 4, 2014


I recently received a contact that suggested that I might be the owner of a Camaro Pace Car that was previously owned and restored by a fellow from the Philadelphia area.  Frank, the individual making the contact, suggested I check the vin number that he had supplied in his email.  It was an exciting possibility, so I immediately checked, and, much to my satisfaction, THE VIN NUMBER MATCHED!   Car collectors are always interested in discovering the history of their cars, and Frank had potentially given me that opportunity.

In my response to Frank, I clearly indicated how happy I was to hear from him and how much I wanted to talk further.  Frank’s response was equally enthusiastic, and he expressed a willingness to tell me all about the car.  He not only seemed like a good guy, but, also, a knowledgeable Pace Car afficianado.  This was going to be fun!

One unique feature of my Pace Car is that it has a column shift.  Most Pace Cars were ordered with a console, so column shift cars are very rare.  Frank found this website by every so often searching for 1969 Pace Car with a column shifter.  Eventually he found mine.

Frank bought the car in 1981 and owned/restored it over a twenty year period.  The car was originally sold in South Dakota.  The owner prior to Frank had owned it for five years.   When Frank bought the car, it was sitting outside, in primer, surrounded by overgrown weeds.  Clearly, it was in need of significant restoration.


The Camaro that Frank purchased in 1981 was vastly different than the current one.  It’s twelve year life had left it in primer, in a field, exposed to the elements, and in need of a lot of work.  Fortunately the car still had it’s original drive train, interior and body panels.  However, the interior was badly worn and the body exhibited a significant amount of rust.


Frank began by replacing the floor pans and finding a donor car for replacement of the doors.  The fenders, rear quarter panels and trunk are GM replacement parts purchased from the local Chevy dealer.  It took four replacement cowl induction hoods to find one that fit Frank’s exacting specifications.  The original rear spoiler was reused, and a new trunk floor was welded into place.  When removing the spoiler from the original trunk lid, the original Hugger Orange stripes were exposed which allowed Frank to eventually duplicate their correct size and location on the restored car.

Frank cleaned the underside of the car and painted it chassis black.  He was also able to find the original build sheet under the rear seat.  The build sheet is a document that follows the car down the line and tells the assembly line workers what options to put on the car.  It is a great way to verify a car’s authenticity.  According to Frank, although he was able to find the build sheet, it was badly deteriorated and unable to be saved.


It was time to move on to the mechanical aspects of the restoration.


The car’s drivetrain was as it came from the factory in April of 1969, but showed the effects of twelve years of driving.  The engine was torn down, inspected, pistons replaced, the rear seal replaced, and the valve seats hardened.  The engine was then carefully examined and reassembled.

The original Turbo-Hydromatic 350 transmission was removed, inspected, and found to be in good shape, and the original linkage was replaced.  The original twelve bolt Positraction rear end was also checked and found to be fine.  The rear 3.55 gear ratio was verified.

The Pace Cars all came with cowl induction hoods.  The cowl induction principle took advantage of the increased air pressure at the base of the windshield (cowl) that allowed a greater volume of air to reach the carburetor through a raised opening in the back of the hood.  The cowl induction package increased the 350’s horsepower from 295 to 300.  A solenoid operated flapper opened to allow the higher pressure air to enter when the accelerator pedal was floored.  During restoration, Frank replaced the flapper and repaired its operation.  The sound of air rushing into a cowl induction hood when the go pedal meets the floor is music to any Chevy guy’s ears.

Frank stripped any old paint, primed the car, and then added a base coat of original Dover White paint.  He then added the Hugger Orange Z-28 style stripes (the Pace Car is the only non-Z28 Camaro to have the factory dual stripes), and then clear coated the car.


The interior required significant work including new seat cushions and covers, carpeting, and dash rehab and repair.  New door panels were installed along with a new white convertible top.  Frank was also able to find an original Delco AM radio just like the one that came from the factory.  The radio still works great.



We all have fond memories of our old cars, and Frank’s experiences when the Pace Car restoration was completed should bring back some of our own.

He took the Pace Car to the Camaro Nationals and waited in line while the judges approached his car.  While waiting his turn, Frank watched judges discussing the authenticity of a firewall grommet in a car three or four before his.   The experience turned him off to the process but didn’t keep him from eventually getting the car certified by the Pace Car Registry.

Frank called his car a “chick magnet” and frequently filled his car with friends and headed for the Jersey shore.  He was also a participant in an occasional stop light drag race.  In one instance he was leading a competitor heading into a curve in the road.  With competitive juices flowing, he refused to back off and hit the curb at high speed.  The impact launched his passenger out of his seat and caused his knees to dent the glove compartment door.  I have been temped every once in a while to straighten the door, bit it won’t happen now.  The story is too good.

While he owned the car, Frank had many offers to buy it.  He rejected them until 2001.  By that time his interests had gravitated to street rods, and he had found someone in Wisconsin who wanted to trade a street rod for the Pace Car.  Frank drove the car to Ohio and met the street rod owner for the trade.

I bought the Pace Car from the Wisconsin owner and drove it home.  Ironically, it’s probably now located pretty close to where Frank traded for the street rod.

Since I have owned the car, it has needed little.  With the help of a good friend, we rehabbed the vacuum headlight door system and got the headlight washers operating again.  Because they were chipped, I had the rocker panels and front valence stripped and repainted.   I also spruced up the instrument panel and engine compartment and cleaned the interior.

I have also been tempted to add a console and move the shifter to the floor.  I won’t be doing that now for two reasons.  The fact that the rarity of the column shift brought the previous owner to me is the first reason.  Secondly, a photo of the car’s interior appears on page 138 of a book entitled “The 1969 Camaro Reference Book.”  I wouldn’t want to make a liar out of the book’s author.

The entire experience of talking to Frank about the car has been a lot of fun.  His enthusiastic retelling of the Camaro’s story was not only informative but contagious.  I can’t wait to get it out next spring!

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | April 28, 2013


Since the cars and other garage memorabilia are testaments to good times past, I decided some time ago to look for an old Eco air meter. The Eco units were fondly remembered as useful ways to fill bicycle (and later, car) tires. You simply dialed in the desired air pressure and put air into the tire until the bell stopped ringing.  They were easy to use and generally pretty accurate.

After searching auctions, Craig’s List, and local ads, I bought a pedestal model on Ebay.  The meter arrived in decent shape and ready for restoration.

After removing the two piece shell, I was happy to find the internal mechanism in apparent good condition, at least from a visual perspective.  When tested, however, air passed through the meter in both the on and off positions, and the pulsing action with accompanying bell sound was not functioning.  A couple of hours at my buddy Rick’s house and a good lubrication of the internal mechanism got the meter working perfectly.

The shell and frame needed a clean up and painting, and the glass and trim needed replacing.  The pedestal also needed painting, and the light unit inside the meter needed repair.  Fortunately all of the cosmetic work was within my capabilities.


Front view of the internal mechanism.


Rear view of the internal mechanism.

I started by sand blasting areas that showed thin or missing paint on the outside surfaces and minor rusted portions on the inside of the shell.  I then stripped the paint on the frame  and primed it.  Final prep included sanding and priming the pedestal and base plate.

My intent was to keep the Shell color combination of red and yellow that had been used on the restored gas pump that already resided in the garage.  Fortunately I still had paint left  from the pump, and I was able to spray it onto the air meter in pretty good fashion.  After wet sanding and clear coating, the painted parts looked great.

The meter came with a lighted face, so I replaced the socket and drilled a hole into the side of the pedestal where I installed a toggle switch to control the operation of the light.  I then ordered new glass and chromed parts from Gas Pump Station, and replaced any rusted fasteners with new ones. I also applied new numerals to the pressure dials and added a new face plate.  The final step involved assembling everything.  Fortunately it all went back together with very few “field modifications” required.

I decided to install the finished unit on the checkered portion of the garage floor, so I built a base and matched the black and white floor pattern.  I then ran an air supply hose and power cord through a three quarter inch pvc pipe to the compressor and power source on the other side of the lift. Before installing the conduit, I had “tested” it’s ability to avoid crushing by driving back and forth across it.  The pipe survived with no apparent damage.

imageAlmost ready.

All in all the air meter turned out well.  With any luck the grand kids will find the same enjoyment filling their bike tires that I did when I was their age.

imageStanding tall.

imageReady for service.

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | April 26, 2013


Purchasing the Gamewell fire box led to an unexpected pleasure.  While making arrangements to pick it up in Charlotte, NC, the seller suggested it would be worth my wife and I taking a short side trip to look at Uncle Dallas’ collection of pedal cars and memorabilia.  He promised that we wouldn’t be disappointed.  We decided to take him up on the offer.

Uncle Dallas and his wife Helen were awaiting our arrival as we pulled up next to an unattached garage adjacent to their house.  It was clear from the first few moments that these two genuinely nice folks had a passion for collecting.  We immediately felt comfortable in their company.

Dallas opened the tour with a walk through the garage that featured numerous automotive memorabilia on the walls, a large display of model cars, a beautiful Cushman scooter, a restored pedal car with working head lights, and three or four other pedal cars. Although the pedal cars were very nicely done, there were only a few of them. There has to be more than these based on the description we had been given.  Patience would be well rewarded.


Dallas is rightfully proud of all of his collectibles, but he has a special place for his restored bright yellow 1939 Ford convertible.  The car is a street rod  that has a family history and many touring miles and awards under its hood.  Dallas explained that a lot of the paint and body work was done by a fellow at nearby NASCAR famous Hendrick Motorsports.  The paint, engine compartment and interior were immaculate and belied the fact that he had put more than a hundred thousand miles on the odometer.  Magazine covers and articles featuring the car where proudly displayed on the garage walls.  The car was deserving of the attention it had received.


Dallas and his wife then escorted us to a small building toward the back of his property that he had made into an old-fashioned general store.  On the covered front porch stood two rocking chairs and inside awaited a G Scale model train that ran around the ceiling, a corn husking machine, lockable mail cubicles, a counter with a cash register, an old wall mounted telephone and countless other smaller items that one would expect to find lining the selves in an old local store.

Stocked shelves.

As we left the store we relaxed for a short time in the rocking chairs on the front porch and enjoyed Dallas’ reminiscing about the history of items in his collection.

Passing time.

Passing time.

Walking back toward the garage, we passed a restored circa 1950’s gas station island.  On the raised concrete island, Dallas had mounted two gas pumps, an air meter, an oil can rack and a large overhead Texaco gas sign.  When I asked Dallas if it all worked, his response was, “Everything works.”  I would ask that same question as we continued our tour only to get the same answer.  After a while even I figured out that there was no need to ask again.


While still wondering where all the pedal cars were, Dallas directed us toward a large enclosed auto transport trailer.  As he pulled down the rear ramp, it became clear that the trailer was the home to his collection of pedal cars.  Neatly arranged three shelves high on each side and the end of the trailer were probably forty or so beautifully restored vintage pedal cars.  As Dallas led us through the trailer he described the restoration process on some of his special projects.  He explained that restoring the small cars was very much like the restoration of a full size vehicle.  It required pounding out dents, patching bodywork, finding parts, re-chroming trim, painting and pin striping.

Restored pedal cars.

Restored pedal cars.

The collection included not only cars, but also an airplane, fire trucks,a train engine, a boat and a replica Cadillac called Kidillac.  Under each vehicle was a small sign that identified it.  The trailer had been a mobile pedal car museum that had been enjoyed by many over the years. Dallas added that the value of the cars ranged as high as $30,000.  And, not to be reminded, every one of them worked as originally designed.


It’s hard to imagine the hours that went into restoring the miniature cars in the trailer.  Dallas’ excitement when describing some of the extraordinary samples was as enjoyable as the cars themselves.


It never ceases to amaze me as to what people have in their garages and back yards.  We considered ourselves lucky to have had the pleasure of spending a morning enjoying the treasures found at the home of Helen and Dallas.

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | April 22, 2013


I’m always keeping my eyes open for old things that add to the “ambiance” of the garage.  While looking for an air meter, I accidentally came upon a restored Gamewell fire box on Craigs List.  I didn’t know much about the old fire boxes, but this one looked good and I thought it would be a good fit in the garage.  After calling the owner in Charlotte, NC, we settled on a price.

While talking to the seller, he told an interesting story about his wife ‘s uncle and the uncle’s collection of restored pedal cars.  He convinced us that it would be worth our while to visit the collection when we picked up the alarm.  He was right.  The tour of Uncle Dallas’ memorabilia and pedal cars was well worth the time.  Details and photos of the tour will follow soon in a future posting.

The Gamewell Company is the oldest fire alarm company in the world.  The first Gamewell system was installed in Boston in 1851, and was used to report a fire in 1852.  Since its founding, Gamewell has been a leader in the fire safety industry.  My fire box is circa 1924.

My intent was to add a bell and light and make the alarm operate as originally designed.  It was soon obvious that making the fire box operational was going to be more complex than my limited electrical background would allow.  So a call to Ken, a fellow Corvette buddy, resulted in a combination of a transformer, relay, resistors, and transistors that allowed the box, light and bell to loudly and brightly announce itself as location 452.  Ken had done an excellent job.  A wiring schematic follows.

Circuit Diagram

Circuit Diagram

I decided to mount the unit on one of the lift posts.  I made a backing board and shelf, painted them black, and attached the fire box, bell, and caged red light.  The transformer and “black box” control unit were attached out of sight to the back of the mounting board.

To operate the alarm, one opens the small white cover door and pulls down on the actuating switch.  The fire box then goes through four-452 cycles alerting the fire station that there is a fire at that location.  Inside the box is a knob to rewind the mechanical mechanism and a telegraph key with an attached small bell.  The key is for the arriving firefighters to inform the station of on-site status and any additional needs.

Internal Mechanism

Internal Mechanism

Thanks to Ken, the Gamewell Fire Box operates as intended and has become a highlight of the garage.  I never get tired of watching and listening to it announce a “fire” at location 452.

Completed Installation

Completed Installation

Posted by: Phil's Classic Chevys | January 18, 2013


My first new car was a 1968 Camaro, and I’ve decided to spend the winter restoring one to it’s original splendor.  Although my talents are somewhat limited, if you would like to follow my progress, please click on the 68 Camaro page and enjoy.

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