Well May, 2005 brought Mopsy, Marnie and I to the 7th Annual Main Street Altus (Oklahoma) Rock-N-Rumble car show and cruise. I decided the morning of the show after looking at the weather that we would drive the 70 miles west to Altus and enter the show. Arriving with 15 minutes to spare before the close of registration, Mopsy got to be parked prominently in the center row with just a few stragglers rolling in behind her. Six hours of standing and answering questions and seeing a variety of judging groups go by finally ended with the awards ceremony. Mopsy came in 3rd for her class and I thought it was time to leave to get home before it turned dark and getting the front of the car full of bugs. Then one of the female officials approached me and advised that we stay for the final awards. I reluctantly agreed and boy am I glad I did! Mopsy took Mayor's Choice (#2 award) and then ...Best of Show!! A plaque, two trophies the size of off-shore oil rigs and a check for $1000 later we were on the way back to Lawton and couldn't care less about bug splatters! Coming in Best of Show put Mopsy, the Mayor and his wife and me leading the culmination parade!
Driving in the parade I noticed the power steering cycling in and out and not being consistent in operation during parking or slow speeds. The following week Ray Brown removed the power steering pump and disassembled it. The fluid was very dark and foul-smelling and practically all the componentry appeared burnt. Off went the pump to a Minnesota remanufacturer. A week later it was returned installed and worked just as bad as it did before it was sent out. Removing the rebuilt pump and taking it apart revealed that only half the parts had been replaced and the pump case had been repainted! After several conversations with various levels of management and a threat to contact the Minnesota Attorney General's office for reporting business fraud, the remanufacturer agreed to take the pump back as a core exchange and build up another one and bench test it prior to shipping to me. Meanwhile, having lost confidence in the Minnesota gang, I contacted Mike at JC Auto and he said that they could build me a Thompson pump and bench test it also. I jumped on the JC Auto deal and 4 days later it arrived and was installed and has worked perfectly since. Two weeks after receiving Jeff Carter's pump the one from Minnesota arrived. Ray Brown bench tested it with a set up involving an electric drill and some transmission pressure gauges and recorded 850 psi output. I have kept the Minnesota pump as a spare. Ray Brown fashioned a power steering fluid cooler from a 2001 GMC 1500 4 wheel drive transmission cooler and installed it between the A/C condenser and the dual horns on the radiator support yoke. This will definitely insure a long service life for the Thompson pump. Crossed this issue off the adjustment list.
In November,2005 on a Saturday afternoon while driving Mopsy we got caught in the rain. Upon turning on the windshield wipers I received a shock from the switch knob and of course, the wipers refused to park when I could mange to turn them off. The wiper switch was shorting and the wiper parking switch mechanism needed replacement . Jeff Carter had NOS parts and sold them to me along with detailed installation instructions for my mechanic Dan Crawford to use. Now the wipers go at 2 speeds and park nicely when turned off. Cross this item off the list.
During the spring of 2006 I managed to find NOS wiper arms from Atlas Obsolete Parts and installed them without any hassle along with new wiper blades. Throughout the summer of 2006 I enjoyed Mopsy immensely and my son, RJ spent a weekend in July doing photo-ops for pictures for the dash plaque,T-shirts and sweatshirts we designed for the Fall 2006 Chrysler 300 Club Concours Meet which I hosted in Lawton. Terry McTaggert graciously made available at the Spring, 2006 Asheville Meet the anodized yellow spray paint to correctly paint the C and D instrument panel knobs which I did following Wayne Graefen's “puff” technique he shared with the club. They came out perfect.
A week prior to the Fall Meet I replaced the battery with a yellow top Optima dry cell deep-cycling unit.
The Lawton Fall Concours 300 Club International Meet was a hoot to host. It felt great to have Mopsy be seen for the first time by my friends of the 300 Club International, many of whom provided priceless assistance in surmounting many of the restoration problems encountered. Mopsy took best in class for People's Choice judging during the September 30th Meet Car Show held at the Museum of the Great Plains. We drove the day before to Frederick, Oklahoma to tour Metzler, Inc. This is a major weatherstrip OEM supplier for Chrysler and GM. En route I had the windows raised and the front and rear A/C units running keeping brother-in-law George Hagerty and myself quite comfortable. Upon pulling into the Metzler parking lot I lowered all the windows to keep the interior from becoming oppressively hot while touring the Metzler plant. While watching the rear windows retract I observed in horror the weatherstripping of the front portion of the rear quarter window on both sides peel away from making contact with a metal lip of the front part of the rear quarter panel! It was so ironic to develop a weatherstripping problem in the parking lot of a manufacturing concern that supplies weatherstripping! Of course not for a '57 Chrysler. So the following Monday I'm on the phone to Metro Rubber Products who had the quarter window weatherstrip pieces I needed. If only it was so easy to install. More on that later.
After the Saturday pm car show I flipped Mopsy's keys to Wayne Graefen and asked him to road test and critique her. This was a priority for me. Wayne was supportive right from the start of this odyssey and someone who I greatly respect and admire as a friend. About 30 minutes later Mopsy is driven into the parking lot by Gil Cunningham with Wayne in the front seat and John Lazenby sitting in the rear on the passenger side. I was honored to say the least to have these three club members to be riding/driving my 300! John gets out and states that the car developed a severe vibration at 102 mph! Also he went on to say that the temp gauge was running hot (I don't think she ever ran with 3 adults on a 95 degree afternoon at this speed before, so why wouldn't she run hot?) And he said the alternator was overcharging. Wayne thought the castor needed to be advanced and was very impressed with the 4 wheel disc brake conversion being able to really haul the car down. It was pointed out that I didn't have the correct outside door handles, that they looked like they were from a '57 Dodge and there was a question as to the method of affixing the windshield header stainless molding using sheet metal screws. Other than that they thought the car was nice. Well, I guess if you ask for a critique you want the truth as harsh as it may seem. Wayne also said that the car will handle better if I inflate the Coker radials to 36 psi vs. the 30 psi I had them at. Upon leaving the host hotel in Mopsy to return home to change for the Meet banquet I noticed that none of my gauges worked and my directional signals intermittently flashed when actuated.
So, after what was supposed to be the shining glory time for Mopsy at the Fall Lawton Meet, I had another check-off list of things to be done. Discussing the gauge and flasher problem with Jim Krausmann and the weatherstrip situation with John Lazenby and the vibration phenomenon with Wayne Graefen I had at least some direction to follow to remedy these problems. Jeff Carter had a flasher and NOS ignition switch and I quickly obtained the quarter window weatherstripping from Metro Products. Inflating the tires to 36 psi made a big difference in handling. The vibration situation would have to wait until the other concerns were fixed. I didn't plan on touring at 102 with two of my friends anytime soon anyway.
The way the rear quarter window weatherstripping is affixed to the chromed frame necessitated the removal of the back seat, rear interior quarter panels and taking out the rear quarter windows! This was for the sake of not having enough clearance by about 1/4" to gain a purchase on the fixation screw at the rearward part of the frame! Jerry Wise at Pamplin Body Shop did a phenomenal job of installing the weatherstrip and “adjusting” the offending lip of the upper part of the rear quarter panel to gain proper clearance for the weatherstrip when the window is raised and lowered. As part of the trial and error process to attain the proper clearance the first pair of weatherstrip pieces were torn requiring an overnight replacement at considerable $$. After a week of finessing, the weatherstripping was replaced and the windows functioned and sealed properly. I then fashioned a retention bracket out of 1/8" steel picture hangers affixed via fine screws into the pot metal of the lower quarter window frame to act as a brace against the weatherstripping ever being torn out again. This bracket was neatly concealed by the weatherstripping. Crossed this item off the list. Forget the cost, it was fixed.
Next came the ignition switch replacement . After many phone calls to Greg Leggatt I managed to correctly wire the NOS ignition switch and also have the accessory function work for the first time since I had the car. Now the gauges were registering normally. The flasher replacement fixed the intermittently functioning directional signals and I crossed these items off the list.
I finally turned my attention to the high speed vibration problem as relayed by John Lazenby and Wayne Graefen from their critique drive. George McKovich had sung the praises of the Hunter Road Force tire to wheel balancing system that he used to properly smooth out the Coker radials he was running on his C. I located a tire firm in Duncan, Oklahoma that had such a system. Marnie went for a weekend trip to New York City to visit her sister in early November,2006. I took Mopsy over to Duncan at sunrise that Saturday and had the special balance job done. The tire specialists noticed that the inner portion of the driver's side front tire was severely worn and that it seemed that the wheel was toeing out by 4 degrees beyond specs. This was in essence causing the tire to be pushed against the pavement at high speed and creating excessive wear and yes, vibration. Unfortunately the Duncan outfit didn't have time in their schedule to address the issue that day. By noon I contacted Rick Harrison in Lawton and he agreed to reset the alignment. We had swapped the new spare with the worn tire and Road Force balanced it. Rick spent 10 hours adjusting alignment and steering and replacing the upper and lower ball joints. Needless to say Mopsy drove like she had just received a total body massage and was relaxed and vibration free at very high speed and tracked like on rails! Crossed that item off the list.
Chatting with Jeff Carter of JC Auto in Lynnwood, Washington shed some light on the sheet metal screw fixation of the windshield upper stainless molding scenario. Apparently there was a Chrysler dealer technical bulletin released in 1957 regarding the sheet metal screw fix. This was not a recall but was a manufacturer recommended procedure to repair or prevent these molding pieces from flying off at high speeds. If a customer had the problem or became aware of the problem the dealer could perform this sheet metal remedy at Chrysler's expense. What brought this to Chrysler's attention was a ruling by the governing body of Speed Weeks in Daytona Beach. For a manufacturer to have a vehicle qualify for the flying mile event the whole car had to pass through the finish gate. Meaning it would be disqualified if pieces had fallen or blown off during the timed event. There was a problem of the windshield header moldings taking to their own route during the flying mile and Chrysler addressed the situation in this manner. Therefore the sheet metal screws in the queried area on my C were accurate for someone having back in the day bringing her in for a repair or preventive maintenance. (Further verification was witnessed by me when touring '57 Heaven in July, 2007 in Branson, Mo. There are several DeSoto Adventurers with the same sheet metal screw fixations in the exhibit.)
While shopping on E-Bay in November, 2006 I came across a listing for a '57 Chrysler gauge cluster offered by club member Ken Smith of Arizona. At the spring, 2006 meet in Asheville I purchased from Matts Wignell for $65 a perfect 150 mph 300 C and D speedometer lens. Ken's gauge cluster had a perfect lens and great looking gauges and it got me thinking about getting a spare set of gauges. I bid successfully on the gauge cluster and was very pleased that it was just as Ken Smith described. The chrome trim rings on my speedometer, clock, and gauge cluster were pitted and the gauge cluster lens had a few scratches and my ammeter gauge was jittery and my fuel gauge took a while to register after starting the engine and the temp gauge would just go from cold to mid point in a snap. So I decided in January,2007 that I would refurbish the chrome trim rings and exchange the gauges I had for the ones I bought from Ken Smith and install the new speedometer face I purchased from Matts. It became readily obvious that I was in over my head after removing the speedometer and clock and disassembling them. The gauge cluster also gave me great concern in terms of the performance of the replacement gauges vs. the ones I had in place. A few calls to Jeff Carter convinced me that I would send them to JC Auto to be redone. This was even more evident after receiving the replated trim rings from Sihilling Metal Polishing in Santa Ana, CA and finding that they needed to be finessed via grinding to fit properly back in the housings for the gauges, clock and speedometer. So off to JC Auto the 3 dash components went for Buzz and Jeff to clean, refurbish, calibrate and reassemble. The work they did was phenomenal and worth far more than what they charged me to restore each component to eye candy status. After installing and correctly wiring the speedometer, clock and gauges I was thrilled to have an even registering speedometer dial, a clock that was accurate, and a temp gauge that gradually registered the temp changes, a steady ammeter needle, and a fuel gauge that snapped into proper position as soon as the ignition switch was turned to ON or ACCESSORY mode! Jeff properly set the lenses on all three components with silicone cement so they would not rattle or ooze gray goop onto the lenses. Cross these items off the list.
In January,2007 Ken Smith had an NOS C horn ring center emblem available which I promptly purchased and installed.
Shortly after the gauge cluster, clock and speedometer redo, the blower motor switch got very hot and started to give off smoke! Fortunately it didn't cause a fire or damage the blower motor. The switch was also leaking some dielectric fluid and was shorted. I sent it off to Jeff Carter for a complete refurbishment.. A week later it was received as good as new and reinstalled.
At the spring, 2007 Chardon, Ohio Meet Saturday car show it became readily obvious by looking at the '57 Dodge that was present that my exterior door handles on Mopsy were not those of a 300. They definitely were from a Dodge. Discussing this again with John Lazenby, I became encouraged to obtain the correct door handles for my C. Jim Krausmann was in need of a pair of front door handles for his '57 Dodge wagon restoration project and he said he had some extra 300 handles he could send me. I agreed to swap my Dodge handles for his 300 ones. George McKovich had some extra 300 handles with the spring and latch connecting mechanisms and brought them with him to Lawton in June, 2007 en route to attend the Tulsarama unearthing of the '57 Plymouth Belvedere. So between Jim's and George's handles I managed to get the springs and backing plates and latch connector mechanisms for a perfect driver and passenger set and sent the handles and backing plates to Sihilling for re-chroming. Prior to embarking on this venture I remember chatting with Bill Spear at his meet about the cost he incurred to re-plate the grooved handles and the curved backing plates. This was an accurate foreshadowing for what cost and time element was spent on re-chroming mine. Charles Sihilling had to redo them 3 times to get them perfect! Since I had the doors apart for the handle deal, I decided to get new door look cylinder's from Jesser's since my key entry latch door springs were weak and the doors wouldn't close to reduce water from getting in the cylinders. These I had set by a locksmith to fit my existing keys. Chad Caldwell and Mr. Dan of Chad's firm were very helpful in that they sold me the door handle spring and rivet kits of Greg Leggatt's remaining inventory they had purchased.. Also I took the bright-dipped aluminum inner door panel plates to Leo Neal here in Lawton to work out any imperfections. Then I sent them to Sihilling to be re-aluminum bright-dipped. They returned looking fabulous! Since the doors were apart I sent the car to Jerry Wise to strip and repaint the door jambs and have the inner door frames repainted. I had obtained NOS door latch mechanisms a few years prior and Jerry installed the new latch mechanisms with the newly re-plated correct 300 door handles. It was amazing how differently the doors opened and closed with the new latch mechanisms and door handle springs, etc. So there went a few other items that bugged me being crossed off the list.
Also during the summer of 2007 I replaced the shell and clamp assembly for the cigar lighter and refurbished the ash tray. Never will the cigar lighter light anything nor an ash be seen in the receiver. However the shell and clamp being functional can recharge cell phones, etc. An item owners of collector cars never leave home without!
One Sunday afternoon shortly after the door handle task was completed I noticed paint bubbling along the nose piece of the hood! Only 2 years earlier I had the hood stripped down to bare metal and primed and repainted including installing new CHRYSLER hood lettering that I purchased from Gary Goers. This, to say the least, was a disconcerting discovery. The next day Jerry Wise got Mopsy and realized that his shop didn't appropriately strip and prime around the lead nose piece. He had it redone correctly under his lifetime warranty! However, when putting back the CHRYSLER lettering the Y and an E got broken! Fortunately George McKovich had a spare set of new Goers letters which he so graciously sold to me.
The week before the Fall, Springfield Meet I noticed same paint bubbling around the trunk medallion and by the driver's side rear quarter window. Jerry Wise in a very timely fashion repaired these areas in just under 2 days! However, his painter when I drove him back from the storage garage after parking Mopsy got in the Escalade and inadvertently sat on my eyeglasses that slid off the center console and broke the frames and lenses! So the car was fixed and looked beautiful but I couldn't see to appreciate it! One step forward, two steps backward! I thought by this time I had become accustomed to this part of the hobby, but not so. The optician went to “general quarters” for me and the night before leaving for Springfield I had replacement spectacles.
While at the Springfield Meet I viewed the factory A/C system under the hood of club member Daryl Miller's D. Wayne Graefen was present and I noticed that the blower motor housing had what appeared to be a ½"-3/4" foam type insulating material covering the housing that was painted black. I queried Wayne about this and he stated that this was the standard factory A/C under hood insulating material on factory A/C cars. This wasn't present on mine! Wayne further went on to say that it greatly enhances cooling to block as much engine heat from transferring through the housing and entering the passenger compartment. HMMM! What to do. Wayne suggested making my own insulating material covering from high tech insulating materials used by hot rodders and racers to wrap exhaust headers. After the meet I located through HeatShield products a roll of insulating tape 3/8" thick with self-backed adhesive that was aluminum foil colored. This I spray painted with 1100 degree semi-gloss black heat resistant engine paint and covered not only the blower motor housing but the connecting tunnel and the parts of the Model 900 box closest to the exhaust manifolds and the distributor. After doing this the A/C measures 10 degrees colder!
In October, 2007 one Sunday afternoon I pulled Mopsy out of the storage garage and low and behold!...the right front tire was flat! The wheel cover had been creeping and flexed the valve to the point of it cracking and creating a leak. After removing the wheel cover and straightening the valve I managed to inflate the tire and it held air. Wayne Graefen suggested replacing the valve stems with metal ones which I did along with replacing the worn spare with the tire that had the leaking valve and buying a new Coker radial to put on the right front. Fortunately the Car Doc auto repair shop in Lawton acquired a Hunter Road Force balancing machine and took care of the valve replacement on all 5 tires and balanced them with the Road Force system. This saved me from having to drive 80 miles round trip to Duncan, Ok.
In November, 2007 while clicking around on E-Bay I came across a newly replated 300 C front bumper listed by a chrome bumper shop in southern CA. I had been bugged for a while by a scratch that was present on the lower passenger side of the front bumper. It was barely visible but became a focal point for me. I strongly considered buying the bumper for the BuyItNow price. Finally when I decided to go for it after consulting John Lazenby and checking out background feedback on this shop the bumper had already sold! The next day I contacted the chrome bumper shop owner and he said that he would get me another 300 front bumper in a few weeks and would sell it to me for the same BuyItNow price that he had the first one listed. The bumper did not include the filler however. The next day a 300 front bumper filler appeared on E-Bay from a seller on Long Island, N.Y. that was NOS and needed plating. I successfully bid on the filler and the chrome bumper shop proprietor said he would be glad to plate it at the same time he refurbished and plated the front bumper he was going to “harvest” for me. Done deal! When the bumper filler arrived, it was for a New Yorker and not a 300. The chrome bumper shop fellow said that he would fill in the 5 holes on the New Yorker filler and it would look just like one for a 300. This deal just fell together swell! OR SO I THOUGHT. Stay tuned. Three weeks later the same chrome bumper shop had a 300 rear bumper on E-Bay which I snapped up immediately by paying the BuyItNow price. It also needed a filler which the chrome bumper fellow said he had which needed replating. So I bought the rear filler and felt very confident that I would have a perfectly replated front bumper and rear bumper to match. This was all put together by December, 2007. 53 telephone calls later, a lost replated front bumper from the chrome bumper fellow (in his own shop), several communication black holes in time, and after several thousand $$ spent, the front and rear bumpers arrive at Pamplin Body Shop on April 17th! NO FILLERS! ( which of course I had already paid). The front and rear bumpers (upper and lower sections) however were perfect and I felt worth the hassle, money and wait. A week of trying to contact the chrome bumper shop person passed without any success in establishing contact. Just before calling the chrome bumper shop again for the umpteenth time, a little voice in my head said to contact Pamplin Body Shop to see if by a fluke the fillers were shipped separately. I called Pamplin's and sure enough!..The fillers were delivered to them about 10 minutes before I called! This was weird indeed. Since Mopsy at this time was in the storage garage without seats (another story, stay tuned) I just transported the packaged fillers along with the bumper sections to the storage garage until I had the seat job completed before swapping out the bumpers. My mistake in not unwrapping the filler packages. This will come back to bite me in a few months.
Ken Smith listed on E-Bay in November, 2007 a newly replated passenger side brake vent grill surround for a C,D,E. I called Ken and asked him if I paid the BuyItNow price would he have one for the driver's side for the same price so I could buy the pair. I had been looking for a pair of these surrounds for a few years since I had not replated them when I addressed the front end restoration in 2003. Ken called a friend in California and managed to obtain a driver's side surround and had it replated. They arrived in perfect condition. I decided that I would replace my existing ones when I tackled the bumper swap.
Having noticed a few non-perfect front bumper bolts, one dented, and one scratched I started a search for replacements. A few days into the hunt a new issue of the Brute Force newsletter of the Chrysler 300 Club, Inc.arrived. Merle Miller was into one of his D restoration articles and mentioned Bumper Bolts-R-Us in Illinois as a source for new bumper bolts for his project. I e-mailed the proprietor and in 3 days had 3 new correct bumper bolts in hand! Very interesting proof of the gestalt concept of closure in that when one is thinking about a topic how readily information pertaining to the topic materializes whether through a heightened level of awareness in daily life or simply luck and timing.
December 2007 presented itself as a time of opportunity for me to scratch off the last major project I had wanted to do on Mopsy when a Legendary Auto Interiors post-card arrived advertising their 10% off holiday season sale. I had been considering replacing the leather seat covers since they were starting to show age and had some issues that I couldn't correct with Goers' water-based leather dye. I figured that this was my opportunity to freshen up the interior to new quality and by saving several hundred dollars in the process that now was the time! Yeah, and if a pig could fly. Little did I know that the next 8 months for addressing a few issues in the chase for perfection would lead me into the depths of frustration, despair and as always a tremendous outlay of $$.
It was so easy to call the toll-free number and connect with the sales person at Legendary to place the order and whip out the Discover card! It was interesting to see on their online catalogue that they had my rear seats pictured as being the ones they made. Little did they know that my seats were those from Gary Goers made approximately 15 years ago! I suppose an enterprising marketing person clicking around on the internet saw my pictures of Mopsy from the initial phase of restoration taken in the fall of 2003 and felt that they were an excellent representation of their product or whatever. I contacted Cleland Skags who was the local upholsterer who installed my new Goers head liner and queried him regarding re-upholstering my seats. He said that he had experience with Legendary's products and felt that there would be no problem. He also thought that a turn around time of about 2-3 weeks would all that would be involved. The plan was for me to drop off the new Legendary seat covers to his shop and then when his schedule allowed to bring the rear seats to him first for replacing the seat covers followed by the front ones. This way I could minimize the down time for not being able to drive Mopsy and he didn't need to have her languishing in his shop while doing the upholstery work. Sounded like a great plan. I confidently thought that this would be a “no-brainer” and the ultimate “icing on the cake” for the final “piece de la resistance” for restoring Mopsy to my level of satisfaction. I should have remembered what my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Humphries (who drove a '58 Plymouth Belvedere) always harped on....”don't take anything for granted” (by which at that time of my life took me a half a year in her grade to understand that she meant granted and not granite!).
Legendary told me that the seat covers would be shipped in 8-10 weeks from the time I placed the order. I was expecting to receive them mid-February at the latest. Mid-January, 2008 I decided that my existing seat covers may be desirable for someone in the C restoration process that wasn't looking for show quality and listed them for sale on the Chrysler 300 Club list server. Within 15 minutes of listing I had the first response followed by a phone call to me by the first respondent stating he wanted to purchase them. While on the phone with this club member 3 other hits came up in the server with other club members lining up to purchase. They were sold to the first respondent. Fortunately for him he was only in the process of gathering parts before commencing the restoration on a C that he hadn't even purchased yet!
One Monday in mid-February after having been on call the previous weekend I took Mopsy for what I thought would be a relaxing drive. Driving my C provides an avenue of escape from day to day stress for me and I thought would be a great way to relax for a few hours on my post-weekend call day off. NOT! I pulled into the garage at home and parked her for a few minutes to get a few items I needed to run a few errands. Upon backing out of the garage I noticed a puddle of fluid that appeared to be engine coolant. Looking under the radiator I couldn't see any leakage or seepage from any where with the hood open. I cleaned up the fluid and kept a vigilant attitude. After driving about 3 miles when stopped at a traffic light I noticed steam rising from the ventilation inlet grill in front of the windshield! Also a prominent odor of engine coolant materialized. I drove directly to Ray Brown at Allied transmissions who performed a lot of mechanical work on Mopsy. Ray put her up on the lift as soon as I arrived. Prior to raising the vehicle it was noted that engine coolant was coming out at a constant rate from behind the engine on the passenger side. While the car was being elevated on the lift, flash backs of emotion of learning that the engine block had cracked and thoughts of other scenarios such as leaking rear main seal, etc. were racing through my mind. With the engine running we observed the leakage emanating from the area of the bottom of the Model 900 heater/a/c box running down behind the distributor and trickling along the transmission housing. When the engine was turned off the trickling persisted briefly with the sound of a pressure leak of coolant and eventually the leaking ceased. Ray then pressure tested the cooling system and at 16 psi and greater the hissing sound and coolant leaking resumed. Diagnosis: leaking heater core! Luckily the heater core on the C is on the engine side of the firewall and emptied coolant to the outside and not to the interior! Fortunately, I had installed a heater hose shut off valve for summer time operation of the factory A/C unit to assist in better interior cooling. Turning the valve to closed and restarting the engine obviated the leak and allowed me to operate the car. So the hunt began to replace the heater core. Jeff Carter had just sold his last NOS to a fellow in Scandinavia the morning I contacted him. John Lazenby advised that I take the heater core to a radiator shop for repair and if the existing one (probably the original...something we didn't address in 2003 when we went through the A/C system since the heater was functioning fine) couldn't be repaired then to have a new one fabricated. I managed to contact an obsolete parts shop in California after talking to John Lazenby who said they had an NOS heater core! SOLD! Unfortunately they couldn't exactly locate it since their inventory was still in the process of being moved to a new business location but they said that they should be able to ship in a few days after I paid them via credit card. OOOOOKKKK!? After waiting 4 days with no word from the obsolete folks I called them and then the run around began. The guy who took my order was sick and the partner became flip and downright nasty. I explained that I had paid them promptly and was lead to believe by the sick partner that my order would be shipped in a few days. I was querying about when I could expect to receive the part in order to arrange for my mechanic to install it. The nasty partner said he didn't know where the part was and they would get back to me when it was found. He then went further on to say that an Nos Model 900 heater core is very rare and so I had no other alternative than to wait on them! I called Jeff Carter and John Lazenby and got an earful about this obsolete outfit and decided that having a newly rebuilt heater core done by a radiator shop using my existing core as a template would be the way to go. Heck, I did that with Classic Auto Air in Tampa with my A/C condenser so why not with a heater core? John Lazenby pointed out the fact that a heater core is just a radiator anyway. Why didn't I think of that? I contacted Fox Radiator in Lawton who recored Mopsy's radiator in 2003. Fox said that it would be no problem to have an exact replacement heater core made and that he sends them to an outfit in Pittsburgh, Pa. who specializes in that type of work. The turn around time would only be a week. I called the obsolete place and cancelled the order and also notified the credit card company that I had cancelled the order. To the credit of the obsolete place they hadn't charged my card. I suppose they weren't going to until they had located the part in their inventory.
Ray Brown didn't feel comfortable getting into the heater core especially if A/C disassembly was required. Larry Wagner in Duncan was familiar with the system since he performed all the A/C work on Mopsy and agreed to remove and replace the heater core. A few years ago I purchased a Model 900 heater/A/C cover from Desert Valley Auto Parts thinking that sometime in the future I was going to have to get into the unit and may need to replace the cover since these have a reputation of becoming brittle and shattering when being removed. I also purchased from them a blower motor housing with the same thought. The heater core was indeed severely rusted and had sprung multiple leaks. It was not salvageable but could serve as a template. The new heater core arrived from Pittsburgh in 5 days. Larry replaced it and did have to use my replacement Model 900 box cover which I covered with new HeatShield painted insulating tape. I drove the car back from Duncan a functioning heater and no steam arising from the vent grill! However I still detected a coolant odor but thought that it might be from the newness of the heater core. NOT. When I parked Mopsy in front of the storage garage to open the door I looked under the front of the car and saw seepage of coolant again but from another location from under the Model 900 box near where the heater hose was affixed to the inlet of the core! I called Larry and since this was a Friday he asked me to bring it back early Monday morning. Again I was saved by the heater hose shut off valve. It was a cold drive to Duncan the following Monday morning at 5:30 am to get Mopsy over to Duncan, 35 miles from home. Luckily, our office manager resides in Duncan and could meet me at Larry Wagner's give me a ride to work and then bring me back on her way home at the close of the day to get Mopsy when she was repaired. Apparently a solder joint was broken upon installing the new heater core. Larry had it repaired at a Duncan radiator shop and all went back together well. So the A/C cooled swell and the heater was hot and leak free with a new heater core to boot! Cross that surprise item off the list. Now, all I remained to complete was the seat cover and bumper projects. Yeah, right.
The Legendary seat covers finally arrived the last week of February. Legendary ran out of leather and had to obtain new hides that would match front and rear, therefore the delay. I called Clelland's Upholstery and was told to bring in the rear seats the following week. This I did and the week before Easter Clelland said to bring along the front seats. Upon arriving with the front seats Clelland greets me at the door stating that he has a problem with the Legendary seat covers being too small. He demonstrated to me that in every dimension the new covers were short by at least 2 inches. Many phone calls ensued back and forth between Legendary, Clelland's Upholstery and myself. The front covers were dimensionally off to the same extent. What finally evolved was that Clelland wisely refused to try to stretch the covers to fit and possibly ruining the material. I decided to ship the frames and existing seat covers to Legendary along with returning their new ones. This was during the first week of April. So now Mopsy is in the storage garage sans seats and the only way I could drive her was to be sitting on a footstool! This evolution was no longer a “no-brainer”!
Legendary realized that their patterns were not correct and in essence sewed new front and rear seats to match the dimensions of my frames and recommended that they also fabricate the seat padding to custom fit. I requested them to bead blast and refurbish the seat frames since they had them and just do the whole upholstery process from start to finish in their plant to ensure uniform quality. To this they wholeheartedly agreed. Meanwhile things started to crop up with Mopsy mechanically while the seats were out.
In early April I ventured out with Mopsy driving her while sitting on a footstool strapped in by my lap seatbelt. After 10 miles I felt I needed to be manipulated by a chiropractor! I didn't dare drive in traffic and went down some paved country roads near the storage garage. I did notice that she wasn't very responsive upon acceleration and seem to be holding back and not gliding down the road. I didn't pay much attention to it figuring that it just might have been my awkward driving position playing mind games on me. I was wrong. A week later I went to start her up and she ran like crap. The engine ran very rough, skipped, and couldn't idle. After phoning George Riehl, Greg Leggatt, George McKovich and John Lazenby the diagnostic consensus was that the engine had a vacuum leak. I did notice that the N-Start button if depressed with the engine running would try to engage the starter! Upon inspecting the manifold vacuum safety switch it appeared that the bakelite/plastic piece between the connecting prongs was cracked and the right prong was bent away at a 45 degree angle. Most likely a vacuum leak had occurred from an aged or broken manifold vacuum safety switch. The manipulation that occurred with the heater core replacement was in the vicinity of the switch and could have resulted in it being traumatized and creating a vacuum leak. I obtained a replacement switch through O'Reilly's Auto parts and replaced the faulty one and after two times starting the engine it ran fine. Simple enough solution. I started the engine a few times since replacing the manifold vacuum switch but did not drive the car since I didn't feel safe or wanted to endure the discomfort of driving her on a footstool again.
A week later I went to star the car and again she ran like crap; skipping, and barely holding an idle without holding the accelerator to the floorboard. After several calls again to the same group of club members the consensus was another vacuum leak was present. I sprayed WD-40 around the carb bases and no change in engine performance occurred. Upon advice from John Lazenby I disconnected the hose running from the base of the rear carburetor to the vacuum distributor advance and plugged the hose. The car started and ran fine! I then borrowed from our Labor and Delivery suite one of the vacuum pumps we use to generate a vacuum to effectuate a vacuum extractor assisted vaginal delivery. The hose from the pump was the same 3/8" diameter of the connecting hose from the rear carb to the vacuum advance mechanism on the distributor. No vacuum could be generated with the pump when it was connected to the distributor vacuum advance fitting. Therefore the vacuum leak this time was from a defect in the vacuum advance diaphragm. Jeff Carter had an NOS distributor vacuum advance mechanism which I promptly purchased. Larry Wagner journeyed from Duncan in mid-May to the storage garage where Mopsy is kept and installed the new vacuum advance mechanism and she started and ran swell. All this while I'm communicating on a weekly basis with Legendary regarding the progress of my seat project. In the meantime I'm off to the Eagle River, Wisconsin Spring Chrysler 300 Club International Meet thinking all is well and just waiting for the seats to arrive.
While at the Wisconsin Meet I call Legendary and they tell me the seats were done and they passed all their quality inspections and were shipping them the first week of June! YES!!!
Four big Legendary boxes are found on a Friday afternoon, June 6th, outside my front door when I get home from the office. How sweet it was! Legendary did a swell job and I spent the next week fitting the front seat end flashing with new hardware and rubber spacers with the seats propped on laundry baskets in the family room. On the morning of June15th, Father's Day after a great breakfast made by Marnie, she says “why don't you go get Mopsy and bring her home and I'll help you install the new seats”. Music to my ears! Never in the 5 years that I've owned Mopsy did Marnie volunteer to help me with any aspect of restoration activity. I go out to get Mopsy and try to start her. This time I can barely get her to go and when I do it sounds like she's skipping and will barely run with the accelerator fully depressed. She starts backfiring and I immediately shut her down. No vacuum leaks appear. I almost collapsed in tears on the garage floor. The rest of Father's Day was spent in distraction trying to figure out what was the cause of the engine to behave this way. The next day I called Larry Wagner and described the situation to him and he advised me to trailer the car over to his shop in Duncan. Tony Layton, a good friend and car guy, winched Mopsy on his Texas Rollback trailer and we towed her to Duncan. This was June 17th. Little did I know at the time that she wouldn't return to Lawton until July 22nd.
Larry called me the next day and stated that he thought the Pertronics Ignitor unit my be the cause for the car not running well. Upon starting the car in his garage he heard a popping sound from the distributor and the car sputtered and stopped running. He removed the new distributor cap and noted the unit was burnt appearing. Also he ran a check on the coil and it was apparent that its output was markedly decreased and that it lacked a ballast resistor! I purchased another Pertronics unit from John Lazenby which he overnighted to me and Larry obtained the correct replacement coil with an internal ballast resistor. After installing the new Pertronics unit Larry managed to get the car running but only to the same degree it ran for me. With the rear air cleaner removed Larry started the car and noticed that there was puffs of smoke emanating from the carburetor and then it backfired. Larry shut down the engine. The muffler on the driver side was blown by the backfiring. Off came the driver's side head and 3 exhaust valves were stuck with rust! Fortunately there was no damage to the pistons. There were no stuck valves on the passenger side head when it was removed. Larry took the heads to Lynn Davenport's NAPA machine shop in Duncan and with advice from George Riehl the heads were correctly rebuilt to 300 specifications. Larry removed the heads and diagnosed the problem just before leaving for a 3 week scheduled vacation. So Mopsy was tied up in his garage until he returned on the 16th of July. In the meantime I ordered a replacement muffler from Waldron's exhaust and purchased oil and coolant, spark plugs, new oil filter, etc. to have on hand for Larry to reassemble the engine.
Lynn's NAPA machine shop did a perfect job on rebuilding the heads. Lynn felt that most likely the cause for the stuck valves was the car not being driven for the prolonged time it was garaged with the seats out. Just starting the car and having it run for a minute or two did not allow the heads to come up to operating temperature to evaporate any condensation that accumulated. Costly lesson for me but well noted! Things went back together well with the engine using new Felpro gaskets. The replacement muffler didn't even come close dimensionally to the pair I purchased in 2004 from Waldron's. Frustrated, I returned the muffler for a refund. Larry found a pair of Flow-Tech Raptor mufflers that fit with slight modification to the exhaust pipes. We trailered Mopsy home on the afternoon of July 22nd. Now I could install the seats!
During the time Mopsy was holed up in Larry's garage in Duncan I spent the down time getting new bolts, nuts, and washers to assemble the front and rear bumpers in the comfort of our family room. Marnie was away for her annual summer trek to the northeast to visit her family. So having the family room filled with the front and rear seats and bumper and front end pieces lying all over the floor was no inconvenience to anybody. On July 2nd, I finally got around to unwrapping the bumper filler pieces that miraculously arrived a week after the front and rear bumper sections back in April. To my chagrin the front bumper filler still had the 5 holes present! Of course I had already paid the chrome bumper shop fellow to fill them in prior to triple chrome plating the NOS front filler. I double checked with John Lazenby that these were to have been filled in on the 300 front bumper filler. John graciously climbed around in his attic to inspect the spare C front bumper he has. John and I also compared the pictures in the Mopar '55-'58 parts manual. Indeed the holes for the 300 are not present. They are for the New Yorker, etc. for the front grill bottom tabs to be seated. I tried 3 times that evening to contact the chrome bumper dude at his business and cell phone. All I received were the same droll recordings to leave a message and it will be returned. I decided to forget dealing with this chrome bumper shop anymore. The next morning I contacted Charles, the owner of Sihilling Metal Polishing in Santa Ana, CA. Charles told me he could fill in the holes and re-plate the filler in a 2 week turn around time. Off the filler went that afternoon. Sure it cost $$ but it was returned perfectly done in 13 days! The front and rear bumpers went together nicely with the new hardware while waiting for Mopsy's engine to be reassembled.
The seat installation went without a hitch on the evening of July 22nd. It felt so great to drive Mopsy again, especially with the brand new seats! It was amazing how different it was to drive her after the new seats were installed. It was much easier to sit behind the wheel with the new padding and the leg room in the front was much better. The seat bottoms offered much stiffer support and a better seating advantage. I took off to fill the gas tank at 12:30 am on July 23rd. The car ran real fast and very peppy. I was thrilled!
The night of the 23rd of July found my neighbor Steve Schraner and I installing the new rear bumper and filler. It took 6 hours of adjusting to get it perfect. I fashioned new bumper to tail light tower rubber gaskets and installed them the following evening.
At the Eagle River, Wisconsin Spring Meet John Lazenby pointed out the fender to firewall bracing that appeared on the '58 Chrysler product line. He said that he was thinking of installing them on his C. We inspected Jack Wiltse's engine compartment and I made a mental note of how they were configured. This body modification improved the structural rigidity of the front end. Upon returning from the meet I located a pair of 25" fender bracing brackets at Desert Valley Auto Parts. Dan Solenberg, the expert painter at Pamplin Body Shop in Lawton prepped them and painted them Regimental Red.
On the 24th of July I drove Mopsy over to Jerry Wise at Pamplin Body Shop and he installed the fender braces using a nutsert to fasten the brace to the cowl area. Upon returning from the body shop I noticed that the A/C system wasn't cooling. I replaced a leaking heater hose shut off valve. This made no difference in the A/C cooling. I contacted Larry Wagner and he was surprised that it wasn't cooling and advised me to bring it over to Duncan the next morning. Another 0530 trek to Duncan! But hey, I was driving Mopsy again and the list of things yet to be done was growing shorter! Or so I thought.
Larry contacted me early that afternoon and said that there was too much A/C lubricant in the system and he bled down the R-12 and purged the system and recharged the A/C. The only problem was that the Model 900 blower motor seized and quit while he was doing the recharging. The rear A/C was cold and the front felt cold but the cool air now couldn't be circulated! I drove Mopsy back from Duncan in 105 degree weather with only the rear A/C unit operating. This was encouraging in that it managed to keep the passenger compartment pretty comfortable. Now I only had to find a replacement blower motor. I felt that this shouldn't be very difficult since I purchased a new one made by PMC from Old Air Products in Fort Worth back in 2003. Not so. PMC was no longer in business and Jerry was at a loss to find a replacement motor. So the internet hunt commenced. I did have a part number and felt encouraged that by clicking around I could find a replacement 3 speed motor. After 3 phone calls I located a supposed 3 speed motor which matched the part number in The Bronx, New York from an antique auto parts supplier. One of the things that bothered me about the existing front blower motor setup I had was the alignment of the blower housing to the squirrel cage type blower fan. In cold weather it would scrape against the housing upon start up. Now that I had to replace the motor I decided that I would go through the whole assembly and probably replace many of the components with those that I had obtained earlier from Desert Valley Auto Parts. I was preparing to leave for 10 days to meet Marnie on Lake George, New York for our annual summer vacation there with my sister, Meg, and brother in-law, George Hagerty and their family. I figured by the time I returned the motor would have arrived and I could revamp the front blower assembly.
While driving Mopsy the following week I noticed that there seemed to be more leakage than normal of transmission fluid appearing on the garage floor. Also, under hard acceleration from 2nd to 3rd gear or with a full-throttle downshift from 3rd to 2nd that the car would stutter and feel like it was going to stall out. I drove her back to Duncan and demonstrated this stuttering behavior to Larry Wagner. He felt that there was a fuel delivery problem or the need for a transmission to carburetor linkage adjustment. I drove back to Lawton and went straight to Ray Brown at Allied transmissions. I took Ray for a ride and he felt that the problem was related to fuel delivery. Upon returning to Ray's garage he jacked the rear of the car to investigate the transmission fluid leakage and then gas started leaking from the gas tank sending unit area! Ray put the car up on his lift and noticed that the rubber fuel hose connecting the tank to the inline auxiliary electric fuel pump had a hole in it. Ray replaced the hose and tightened all the exhaust brackets and noticed more leakage from the transmission area. I then took the car for a drive and noticed a slight improvement of performance under hard acceleration but the stuttering phenomenon still persisted. Upon returning to Ray's shop I called John Lazenby. He thought that the fuel pump was starting to fail. I then called JC Auto and Mike queried me as to the type of fuel pump I had . I wasn't aware that the 392 Hemi on the C had a different fuel pump than the other 392 Hemi Chryslers. Mike asked if there was a notch at the 1:30 position on the fuel pump flange on my car. There wasn't. He said that the pump was failing and wasn't the correct high performance pump that should be on the C 392. He had an NOS correct pump with a diaphragm made of new materials to withstand the fuel additives of today's refining. I bought the new pump immediately. Ray became very concerned about a second issue, that being now the copious transmission fluid leakage taking place. He thought that a front pump seal was defective and probably the shaft seal. A second phone call in 15 minutes was made again to JC Auto. Mike stated they had the shaft and front pump seal for the TorqueFlight which JC Auto had specially made by National Seals out of a combination silicon and some other polymer that could withstand high operating temperatures and a Vyton shaft seal. I purchased them immediately. So now a new list of items crucial to the mechanical well-being of Mopsy arose. Ray couldn't perform the work on the transmission until I returned from vacation around the 11th of August and recommended that I not drive Mopsy until he repaired the transmission leak. Ray also felt comfortable replacing the fuel pump. So with the blower motor, fuel pump, and transmission seals on order I left for 10 days vacation knowing at least that these projects would be completed the week after I returned. Well, not exactly.
Prior to leaving on vacation Steve and his father, Ken Schraner, and I spent seven long hours installing the front bumper and properly aligning it. Before we tackled the bumper job I replaced the front brake grill surrounds with the ones obtained from Ken Smith. I fashioned an aluminum bracket which I bolted from the passenger side brake cooling duct to the inner bolt on the side extension piece of the right front fender. This effectuated a perfect alignment of the side fender extension piece with the upper section of the front bumper as it wraps around by the forward wheel opening lip. The driver's side aspect did not require this adjustment process. I was totally satisfied with the fit and finish of the front bumper assembly. This big project was crossed off the list!
Several boxes were waiting for me upon returning on the afternoon of Sunday, August 10th. The fuel pump and transmission seals were perfect. The blower motor was wrong. It was only a single speed motor and definitely not the same motor that I had as a part number for the existing motor in my Model 900 unit. I took several digital photos of my existing seized motor and the one that I paid an exorbitant amount for which had been mistakenly inventoried under the wrong part number! Jerry at Old Air Products in Fort Worth couldn't locate the PMC motor. However he did give me a name of a fellow in Oklahoma City who might have one left in his inventory from buying out an old supplier who went out of business 5 years ago from the Dallas area. It was a long shot but I called the fellow anyway. The guy didn't have the inventory anymore but had sold all his parts to another business the other side of the city. I called Auto Air of Oklahoma and hit the jackpot! The fellow there thought he might have a motor similar to what I had needed. I e-mailed the picture of my seized one to him and not only did he have one but he had 16 in stock and for 1/4 the price of the incorrect one I bought from The Bronx! I received the correct motor in the mail the next day. Packed with the motor was a bag of peanuts. Nice touch.
Meanwhile on August 11th Mopsy was driven to Ray Brown's Allied transmission shop. Ray was confident that he could replace the front pump seal and shaft seal and have the fuel pump installed by the end of the week. By Thursday things were not progressing well. Definitely the front pump seal was damaged. It appeared that the clearance of the seal to the torque convertor was too close by a slight margin and the seal over time got abraded to the point of leaking. The shaft seal was needing to be replaced also because it was splitting perhaps from heat. Any way once Ray got the transmission installed and fluid replaced the leak still persisted! Out came the transmission along with the torque convertor. Pressure testing of the torque convertor revealed that there were a few broken welds where the plate was welded around the shaft by the front of the convertor. Diagnosis made! Now, what to do about the convertor? Several calls to George Riehl, Jeff Carter and a few transmission parts suppliers in California revealed possible replacement convertors but no sure bet until a few days of searching could be done. The torque convertor has 172 teeth. Ray thought that if needed the existing unit could be sent to Dacco for refurbishing. I felt that this could be a satisfactory secondary plan if we couldn't locate another one. Mike at JC Auto thought he might have a torque convertor available the following week however that didn't work out. George Riehl suggested we query Dacco to see if their specialty works had one already refurbished for exchange of my existing one. Early the following Monday morning Ray Brown got through to Dacco and indeed they had a newly refurbished torque convertor! They overnighted it and that went in fine! However, upon reassembling the transmission and torque convertor and drive shaft it became apparent that the front universal joint was trashed! Andy Bernbaum had rebuild kits available for the front universal joint and I purchased one and had it overnighted to Ray. Andy did not have the housing. The housing if galled needs to be replaced. Andy was out of stock on the housings and was at a loss to find a source to inventory them. Fortunately Ray inspected my housing and it showed no signs of being galled. It took Ray a day and a half to get the front universal assembly perfectly aligned. What made it difficult was that the rebuild kit we received had a hole in the plastic bag and the end pieces for the trunion were missing. My existing joint didn't have end pieces either! Ray figured out that end pieces were needed and machined a pair from brass washers. One phone call to George Riehl confirmed that these end pieces were required and that Ray was on the right track. It all went together swell by the middle of the week of August 18th.
Ray replaced the fuel pump with the correct NOS high performance one, but not without its own bit of drama. Once it was installed Ray started the engine only to have it shut down in 4 seconds due to fuel starvation. A call to Jeff Carter clarified the situation. Apparently the fittings for the fuel intake and outlet were reversed when the unit was rebuilt with the new diaphragm material. Ray reversed the fittings and hooked up the fuel pump and the engine ran fine. Ray Brown is a very meticulous, patient, and thorough mechanic. If the vehicle road tests to his satisfaction then one can rely that the job is done right. Ray called on Friday morning and said that I could pick up the vehicle that afternoon. Several $$$ changed hands but I was very pleased that there were no transmission leaks and the engine was very powerful and the fuel delivery was smooth. The car also ran smoother than I had ever sensed. Apparently the unbalanced front universal joint contributed greatly at various speeds to vibration phenomena that I attributed to the contour of the roads. No longer did I have shimmering of the inside rear view mirror upon acceleration.
Friday evening, August 22nd I removed the blower motor housing and seized motor and replaced it with my newly refurbished housing covered with the painted HeatShield insulation along with the new 3 speed replacement blower motor. The squirrel cage blower fan was adjusted for proper clearance also. Upon energizing the fan it was quiet and the A/C was cold....front and rear! Eureka! Finally! I drove Mopsy for a few miles and decided at about 10:30 pm to wash and detail her. After completing the detail job I took her for a final dry-off run. That's when the smiles disappeared.....AGAIN!!
Driving down the street she wouldn't shift from second to third gear. When stopped she wouldn't automatically downshift from second to first. Only after driving for a few miles would the transmission automatically shift correctly. The next day I checked the transmission fluid level and it was at the full level with the engine idling on a level surface. I called Ray Brown and he said to bring it back first thing Monday morning. He felt that either the pressure settings had to be adjusted or there were stuck valves. So another weekend transpired without being able to enjoy my C.
The following Monday, August 25th Ray diagnosed that there were stuck valves. He cleaned them and flushed the torque convertor and transmission and kept the car for another two days of road testing until he was satisfied that all was correct. When upon getting her back on August 27th she indeed was. Marnie returned from her summer sojourn about an hour after Mopsy came back from Ray Brown's shop. Ray refused any compensation for the last 3 days he spent getting the transmission to shift correctly. He felt that it was his responsibility to have it run perfectly for all that had been paid initially.
Well, to put it mildly....I'M NOW ECSTATIC! Mopsy drives like she never did before. I can finally appreciate what a marvelous road machine the '57 300C is now that it is appropriately dialed in. In a very circuitous way all the little nagging things that had remained went away. The drive train is smooth, the engine prances and wants to be unleashed at a moment's notice, there are no vibrations, body creaks are gone with the fender to cowl bracing, the seats are very comfortable and the seating position for driving is more ergonomic and flexible. I no longer look at any part of the vehicle and think that I need to improve upon fit or finish. The A/C is cold and the blower motor is smooth and quiet. It doesn't screech upon starting up when the ambient outside temperature is cool. Also, I don't detect an odor from the crankcase blow-by making its way into the passenger compartment. The heater works swell and there is no leakage of anything from under the car.
One last thing crept up to haunt me and that was the new coil that was installed. It was light blue metallic and just stuck out like a sore thumb in the engine compartment. I called John Lazenby and inquired if painting the coil the correct black color with heat resistant paint would effect any operating property of the coil. He assured me that it would not. So on my post-call afternoon off on October 28th I brought Mopsy home and removed the front air cleaner. I disconnected the coil wire and black wire from the distributor running to the negative coil terminals. I then proceeded to remove what I thought were two wires from the positive coil terminal, those being the red wire from the distributor and the yellow wire from the alternator. Upon wiggling the coil away from the bracket a third wire with a circular connector materialized. After painting the coil black and the mounting bracket silver I went to reinstall the coil. I figured that the 3 wires that I observed all went to the positive coil terminal and the single black distributor wire went to the negative terminal. I replaced the air cleaner and went to start the car. It would not start. Quiet. The battery disconnect was tightened and still not a peep. I called the fellow who installed the coil and explained to him the mystery third wire. He asked if I had a voltmeter available which I did not have. To the best of his recollection the mystery wire was probably a ground wire that needed to be attached to the rear coil mounting bracket bolt. I did that and turned on the ignition and before even getting the N-Start button depressed smoke billowed from behind the ignition switch and under the coil!! I immediately turned off the ignition and disconnected the battery. I promptly called the mechanic back and explained what happened. Then I discovered that the brown wire to the manifold vacuum safety switch had become disconnected from its slide-on connector! I crimped the wire to the connector. I was instructed to try the ignition again and as soon as I turned the key to the on position smoke came out again from under the coil and ignition switch! I instantly wanted to kick myself every which way imaginable for even embarking on painting the coil when all was working well! I then called John Lazenby. John went out to his garage at home and checked his F which had an alternator to see what the wiring scheme was. John deduced that the mystery wire was not a ground and advised me to disconnect it from the coil mounting bracket bolt. I let the wire lay against the rubber bellows of the brake booster. The insulation of this wire was fried as well as the dark blue wire under the dash connecting to the ignition switch. The switch was undamaged. John then said to turn the ignition switch to the on position. No smoke. Then he told me to engage the starter and the engine cranked as usual but would not start. John thought that maybe the Pertronics Ignitor was damaged or the coil and therefore no ignition. He went through a troubleshooting test approach with me. I studied the '57 Chrysler service manual schematics and noted there was a line from the ignition connecting to a ballast resistor and then to the coil. I called Larry Wagner and he went through pictures he had taken of the engine but couldn't see the positive coil terminal. Larry determined that the mystery wire was the power lead from the ignition switch that should be attached to the positive terminal of the coil. I reconnected this wire to the positive terminal after wrapping the wire with electrical tape and doing the same with the wire that was fried under the dash by the ignition switch. The car started and ran fine! Apparently I had not noticed that the brown wire to the manifold vacuum safety switch had become disconnected when I originally had all the wires properly connected to the coil terminals. Luckily I only burned the insulation of the wire and did not damage any other circuits or wiring. All the electrical functions checked out to be working normally. The horn and emergency brake warning light functioned which were in the same circuit that got fried. Upon inspection of those wires there was no damage to their insulation. I presented the whole scenario to Greg Leggatt and he is making a new section of the wiring harness to replace the damaged power wire and the wiring that connects to the horn relay and emergency brake warning light. The coil and mounting bracket look swell. Costly lesson that fortunately ended up for the better. My list is now exhausted.
This restoration odyssey was full of ups and downs and twists and turns. It was an experiment in faith for me. As John Lazenby frequently reassured me over the past 8 months “It all can be fixed”.
Many thanks to all who generously helped me through this whole adventure. There never was a pessimistic attitude from anyone I sought advice. The spirit of cooperation was as solid as unconditional acceptance from loving family members. Perhaps that is why being a member of the Chrysler 300 Club International and Chrysler 300 Club, Inc. is like belonging to a large extended family. To these folks I salute and extend my heartfelt thanks: George Riehl, John Lazenby, Wayne Graefen, Gil Cunningham, Greg Leggatt, George McKovich, George Hagerty, Jim Krausmann, Gary Nelson, Chad Caldwell and Mr. Dan, Jeff Carter and colleagues Buzz and Mike at JC Auto, Ken Smith, Ray Brown, Larry Wagner, Lynn Davenport, Merlene Orme, Jerry Wise, Dan Solenberg, Tony Layton, Dan Crawford, Legendary Auto Interiors, Matts Wignell, Cleland Skaggs, Dave Clelland, Bill Spear, Jack Wiltse, Merle Miller, Ron Waters, Jerry at Old Air Products, Bob Merritt (NY), Ron Fedoryk, Charles Sihilling, Steve and Ken Schraner, Gary Parker and the late John Hertog.